This past weekend, I was catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. One, like me, has been going through some medical things lately. Completely different issues, but very similar paths in The Hunt for a Diagnosis. It’s led both of us to some problems with anxiety, and in my conversation with her, I told her something that she found very comforting: You can’t control what happens, but you can control your reaction to it.
In my case, I can’t control what my body is doing. I can’t control the pain or the ridiculous journey I’ve been going through. I can’t change anything that’s happened. I can’t turn any of the negative tests into positives just for the sake of a diagnosis. I can’t go back and tell people that I know it could be worse, but that this battle I’m fighting is no less real just because it’s not cancer and I’m not dying. I can’t go back in time and tell myself to calm the eff down about life, because stress may be what brought this all on to begin with.
But what I can control is my reaction to it all, and what stressors I decide to allow in my life now.
It’s something I’ve really come to grips with in the past month (two? three? I’m losing track), but I haven’t really been able to articulate it particularly well. I should’ve known that my favorite band (Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers) would be able to put it into the words I couldn’t come up with:
“Happiness depends on how you handle the day.”
I don’t think anyone fully understands what I’ve been going through since mid-July. No matter how hard they try to get it, or how hard I try to explain it, no one can truly know how this has all affected me in ways other than the outward, physical manifestation of pain.
And it’s something I’ve been hesitant to talk about or write about in a public forum, because mental health in our society is a scary subject. It’s almost taboo. I’ve been terrified to talk about it for fear of being judged, for being seen as weak.
Last week, Nicole (who is a bit of a blog rock star in my world) wrote about mental health battles (read that, seriously), and after wiping the tears out of my eyes, I emailed Nicole and poured my heart out to this amazing woman, who simultaneously felt like a stranger and a best friend. I told her that I could relate to her situation in a myriad ways. That my life, in which everything was finally going so amazingly well that I could hardly believe it, had come to this grinding halt and that aside from the physical health concerns, I have been having real and debilitating mental health concerns. I thanked her for being so open and honest about mental health battles.
And lastly, I asked her to carry me with her across that finish line on race day, along with the many others she is carrying in the fight for mental health care in this country.
I felt infinitely better having emailed Nicole, and I was content with that step alone. But then she emailed me back, one of the kindest and most sincere emails I’ve ever received. We’ve exchanged a few more and the conversation with Nicole has been a huge inspiration for me.
This week, I’ll be taking a step forward in getting the help I need with the mental and emotional effects of what I’ve been going through physically. You all know my penchant for self-help, but sometimes, you can’t help yourself well enough and you need to bring in outside resources.
And that doesn’t make me weak. It makes me strong, because I’m trying to make it better. Weakness would be giving in to it and letting it consume me.
My beloved Stephen Kellogg is right: Happiness depends on how you handle the day – one day at a time. And I’m determined to get that happiness back in my life for as many days as I can.
To the friends and family who have been helping me handle these days the past two months, I cannot thank you enough. I haven’t always handled it gracefully, but I’m working on it. I’m no longer allowing myself to stress about who has or hasn’t called or texted me. Or about how I’m going to pay the medical bills. Or about all the social events I’ve missed out on. Or about whether they’re getting on OK at work without me. Or about how difficult my first run back is going to be. Or about how outsiders are viewing me and what I’m going through.
I’m focusing on my health – physical, emotional, mental. My complete health, my whole self. Because if I don’t get myself healthy, none of that other stuff matters.
And to Nicole – thank you for having the courage to speak out about mental health, and for encouraging me to do the same. I only hope our society as a whole can learn to see it for what it is and work to make mental health care a basic right. You truly are a rock star, lady.
(Like catch up? Get it?)
Soooooo, suffice it to say that 2012 is kind of going by crazy fast and that it’s taking me on one hell of a ride that has apparently led me to forgetting that I used to write in a blog. Because, holy crap, May is NEXT WEEK and I have written three entries this year? What is going on in this world?
When I graced you with my presence last, I was reflecting on how quickly a year goes by and how much can change in a year. Before that, I wrote a letter to my 18-year-old self.
Since then, I’ve been pretty busy living life, and trying to take some of my own advice and lessons to heart. I’ve crawled out of winter hibernation mode, gotten back into being social, and made some strides on my Single Girl’s Checklist.
I have been writing. A lot. Just not here.
When 2012 came along, I set several goals for myself. Not resolutions. Goals. One of those goals was to write in a journal every single night before bed. Specifically, I am asking myself to write one thing I am grateful for every day, but it sometimes goes far beyond that. I haven’t missed a day yet, and I’ve gotta say – it really is a wonderful tactic. By focusing on that each night before bed, I realize how blessed I am and I go to bed happier and I sleep better. I am also just immeasurably happier on a daily basis – in part due to this, but largely in part due to how well the rest of my life is going.
My other goals were about reading, running and overall health. I’m on track with some (reading and overall health) and falling behind on others (running), but I’m feeling good about the rest of this year.
OH, and I turned 25. So. That was…fun. I wasn’t into my birthday this year, and I’m normally amped about it. It was fine, but I think the quarterlife crisis bug bit me. So far though… 25 is A-OK with me.
That’s what I’ve got for now, but be on the lookout for a few more posts coming your way. Girlfriend’s been busy here!
Here’s a cop-out post for ya… to make up for missing another day of posting yesterday, I did manage to mess with the layout a bit and make a new header. I like it a lot better, much simpler.
That said, I will write at least one quality post today. But first I have to work on a post for the Go! Girl Guides blog…so glad to be working on stuff for those ladies again. 🙂
I’ve been struggling the past couple of months. Struggling with time management, multitasking, motivation, self-confidence and just plain feeling like myself. I haven’t been taking the time for myself that I need.
Writing? It’s essentially disappeared. Planning my next big move? Gone. Putting effort into “dating”? A passing fad.
The things I haven’t lost the focus on are working out (my saving grace) and taking the time to remain connected to those I care about. Obviously I dedicated my time, heart, soul, brain (and liver) to running the 5k last month. It took a lot out of me, but gave me back more than I could have hoped for.
But I’ve been feeling a few holes in my life that I want to start filling in. The writing is a HUGE one – think Grand Canyon. So NaBloPoMo is definitely going to help me with that. But there are others too. And I think the Race for the Cure was such an inspirational experience that I can take that “runner’s high,” so to speak, and use it to fill in these holes.
A sense of belonging…purpose, meaning and worth. A sense of job security and of achieving the dreams I’ve always had for myself. A sense of security that everything is going to work out OK. A life to call mine. A new adventure. A new home. I want so desperately to move somewhere new and “start over,” (although I’d love to have a plan in place to do so!) but I have no idea where to go…or how to figure that out…or how to be sure that I’ll be happy there.
And then there’s that evil word. Love. I can say all I want that I am OK with being single. That I don’t need to be loved by anyone other than myself, my family and my friends. That I don’t need a man. But as more and more of my peers and friends settle down…the more I think damn, that would be nice. I’m not ready to settle down yet, by any means. But it would be nice to be loved. To have a date to those weddings and social events. To not be the 3rd, 5th, 7th or 9th wheel. To have someone who makes my heart race and who feels the same way about me.
Cliche single girl thoughts? Sure. But I’m 24, and this hole is starting to feel a little bit bigger with each passing day.
Those holes that I’ve been skipping over lately… this whole year, really… they’re really starting to get overwhelming. I know a lot of my friends and peers are feeling the same way. It’s that damn quarterlife crisis thing again. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with friends saying, “Something’s missing, Lindsay. I don’t know what, but something’s missing.” Or “I don’t know where to go. I don’t know how to be happy.” Or “When is it all going to just fall into place?”
We’re tired of jumping over these holes, hopping from one point of solid ground to the next. We want to be able to walk freely, to feel secure. To not fear that the next hole we fall in is going to be a black hole we can’t get out of.
But things aren’t going to just “fall into place.” We need to make them fit. We need to fill in the holes.
It all comes down to one thing for us (well, me at least). Fear. Fear of risking it all. Of putting ourselves out there. Of being vulnerable. Of rejection. Of failure. And of our dreams themselves.
Because once we do get all these things we want, crave and need… well, then what?
There’s only one way to find out.
…but better late than never?
With yesterday being November 1, we saw the beginning of what is always a huge month in the writing world. National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month are taking over my Twitter feed and Facebook like nobody’s business.
I’ve always wanted to participate in this, but never seemed to find the time. And yesterday followed the trend. I had intentions of writing something, but before I knew it, I had turned off my computer and, quite frankly, didn’t feel like waiting for it to boot back up. But I did write. In a notebook. With a pen. I KNOW. It caused me to tweet this:
But I wrote. And it felt awesome.
And then this evening, I saw that Mary is participating in NaBloPoMo. And because she is often the inspiration for a lot of things in my life, I’m going to suck it up and do it too. SO I’ll post TWICE tonight to make up for yesterday.
I’ll go more in depth with what I wrote about last night in the next post, but it was basically about filling holes. One hole that’s been taking over my life lately is my lack of writing, in all venues, not just this blog.
There’s only one way to fill in holes and that is to dump a little shovelful of dirt in at a time, right? Here’s to that first shovel. It’s always the hardest, but before I know it, the hole will be filled in and I won’t have to jump over it anymore.
So I’ve been massively slacking on blogging of late, and I apologize. I do, however, have some updates in the works and some things going on to fill you all in on.
First though, I want to address my “Single Girl’s Checklist.”
I am still very much single, so don’t worry about that one. That is not the reason I haven’t been blogging, believe me. In fact, there are several items on this list that I need to cross off and post about soon. (Specifically #s 35 and 36.)
But I’ve also added a few recently that I think are good experiences for the single girl, so I wanted to update you on those!
Updates to my Single Girl’s Checklist:
#38: Give online dating a shot.
I have been resisting this one for years. Literally. I think I was a sophomore in college the first time my sister suggested it to me, half joking. But I don’t really know how else to meet men, and good ol’ luck isn’t really doing much for me, so I’m adding this to my list of things to do before “settling down.” It took a lot of convincing, but I have indeed begun to at least dip my toe into the frigid and frightening waters of online dating. How will it turn out? I have no idea, but I’ve got nothing to lose. If nothing else, it should make for some amusing blog posts for you all to read!
#40: Go to a speed dating event.
Back in May (I think?), Groupon had a deal for speed dating in D.C. I was joking about buying it with some friends, using the same rationale I have for online dating. What I didn’t tell anyone for a few days was that I actually did buy it. Normally $30, Groupon price of $15 and I had $10 in Groupon bucks, so what do I care if I’m out $5 on this experience?! The more I talked about it, the more interested some of my other single friends became in the concept, and we’re in the process of picking an event to go to next month. Stay tuned, because I am positive that one is going to provide some amazing material for the blog. We’ll all be stepping out of our comfort zones here, so maybe I’ll have the other ladies guest blog on it with their perspectives as well.
#41: Be an awesome bridesmaid.
You may recall that one of my college roommates recently asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding next June. I, along with fellow bridesmaid / roommate Kirsten, performed my first duty as a bridesmaid this past weekend by going wedding gown shopping with her, and it was a great experience. It’s going to be quite a process, but I definitely want to learn how to be an awesome bridesmaid with my first shot at it. (I was my sister’s maid of honor, but it didn’t require much work at all.) There will probably be numerous bridesmaid posts in the next year, so look forward to those.
Any other suggestions?
So those are my most recent additions to the list. Do you have any other suggestions for me?? Check out what’s on the list now and let me know in the comments! I’m interested in your take on the single life. 🙂