Can’t believe I have been away so long. Thankfully, I have moved on to a non-management position in my work. I am thinking that the unrealistic expectations of my last position convinced me to step away from nursing management. I now am working again as a hospice case manager. Some may think, “Hospice? Isn’t that depressing?” But actually I find it quite fulfilling. Death and dying is just another part of the circle of life. I have the opportunity to accompany individuals and their families on their end of life journey. I work with a committed team of professionals that help our patients and families at this challenging time. Even though it is challenging, it is also rewarding. It is a privilege to help others with their journey. So it really doesn’t feel like a grind at all.
Intensive group therapy helped me get my head together and know that I needed to change my career direction. Met some amazing people coping with some difficult circumstances. The biggest take away was for me to be in touch with my feelings and to push myself to live and not just exist. What I mean, and what continues to be a challenge for me is motivation. It is so easy to just let time slip by and not be accomplishing anything. I still struggle with this day-to-day. Hopefully writing about my struggle will help. I have always found that blogging has been therapeutic. And goodness knows I need it.
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. —Dalai Lama
This was written August 4, 2014
Well, just goes to show you that the black dog is never far behind. He has been lurking, just waiting for me to crash and burn. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of another exacerbation of this chronic illness called depression. And yes, I feel pressed upon. What other metaphors might I invoke to describe this state of mind and body? See, that is part of the problem, can’t concentrate, thoughts are fleeting and memory is poor. Have been sleeping way too much. My therapist really was pointed today, in saying I have to change my thoughts or I will keep having these episodes every few years. They do seem to be coming more frequently. It’s only been about three years since the last flare up. A big part of it this time is my job. So I guess it must be somewhat situational. So doing what I can to change the situation.
Hard to believe that it is already March of the new year. It seems that the older I get, the faster time goes by. I haven’t been very consistent in my blogging through 2013. I’m down to quarterly posts. It’s not that my life has been without my companion the “black dog.” I am aware of his chronic presence nearly every day. And I’m not sure that depression has prevented me from writing. Believe me, my life has not been so busy as to prevent me from writing. Well, maybe just a little. My current job does consume the majority of my waking hours during the week. But I must confess, I have become quite the recluse on the weekends. I joked with my therapist about how I have become an agoraphobe. She did not find this amusing. I don’t know if I am being lazy or this is a manifestation of the depression. It seems I just don’t care. It is an effort to just get the basics done, like grocery shopping. I should be embarrassed. I don’t cook, I don’t clean and I don’t have anywhere to go. I piss myself off because the free time I do have is completely wasted. There are so many things I could be doing. I just don’t have any motivation. All I can do is keep trying…
I think one of the biggest challenges I have faced is that of being an empty nester. I never imagined it being so difficult. And I don’t know anyone who is dealing with this right now either, so I don’t have an example of a good transition. I have found being alone at home demotivating (is that even a word?). Now that I am not taking care of my son, there is this void that I have yet to fill. My therapist insists that I need to be more social. I know I need to quit vegetating at home by myself, but can’t seem to get motivated. I am signed up for some Meetup groups, but haven’t gone to any lately. I always make excuses for myself, like the dogs need me, I’m too tired, it’s too far to drive, etc. I know I have a strong drive to take care of others (duh, I’m a nurse), but I don’t seem to put as much energy into just taking care of myself. I suppose it’s part of my self-esteem issue, that perhaps I think I don’t deserve it. But I have convinced myself that I need more rest and recuperation after dealing with people at work all day. So here I am, Friday night, writing about my myself instead of out doing something. If nothing else, I have to get out of bed tomorrow and take care of business here at home. Wish me well.
We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy. — Walter Anderson
I know I’ve talked about trust before, but I was provoked to think about it some more. Seems I don’t have very good radar when it comes to who I can trust. Matter of fact, my trust has been misplaced more than once I must say. So, how does one work on developing that sense that helps you determine if someone is trustworthy? I used to think that I could just avoid putting my trust in anyone. I had been burned in the past and thought that I would just avoid relationships altogether. That didn’t solve much as far as trust is concerned. I avoided one kind of relationship, but still wound up in a relationship that was not in my best interest.
Then I thought perhaps I should just be an open book and think the best of everyone. Not a good approach either. I found inevitably that I would be disappointed. This probably applies to relationships and other aspects of life (like work). So why don’t I get the red flags or some kind of warning sign that I am being too vulnerable? I’m sure it has something to do with self-esteem as well. I need to think more of myself and that I deserve better than how I have been treated. I need to find the middle of the road when it comes to trusting others. How do I question other’s motivation without offending? My nature is to help others (I am a nurse after all) but I need to be cautious in my dealings. People aren’t always what they seem to be…
I was thinking of posting earlier in the week, but I was in a pity party mood and didn’t want to dump here. Could be a I missed a dose or two of meds (this seems to happen on the weekends) and wasn’t feeling 100%. I admit I was less than motivated and spent too much time in bed; didn’t have anywhere to be and was feeling a little isolated. But the funk has passed, and I have something to look forward to this week.
I am starting yet another new job (leaving undergrad teaching). I thought I would remain in teaching, but I don’t have a passion for it right now, and the pay is abysmal. So I found a new position in my clinical area and hope this works out well, I should be able to work my way out of debt with the better income. I look forward to working with patients again, I missed it. I particularly enjoy working with the elderly. They are complex, and often have wisdom to share with a youngster like me (haha, had another uneventful birthday this month). I also believe I have an old soul, and am attracted to kindred spirits. So, I am looking forward to this new position. And hoping the black dog will remain silent and not interfere.
My two dogs have been faithful companions throughout my depression ups and downs. They are always there to snuggle and give me unconditional love. I don’t know what I would have done for the past year without them. And I have not been the best of dog owners either; not that they are abused or anything, I know they need to go out for walks, but more often than not, I have crawled into bed after work to veg. Not living really, but they put up with me in spite of it. So I am sure they are glad to see me in a better, more active state of mind and body. I’m sure it is a combination of factors, including med adjustment, better weather and trying to focus on positive thoughts. My sister says, “positive thoughts lead to positive feelings.” I’m not sure that any of us can think our way out of depression. But positive thoughts sure beat wallowing in melancholy.
So I am looking forward to a new job this month. I spent the past year teaching nursing at a local liberal arts college. While it wasn’t bad, I really didn’t have a passion for it (or perhaps the depression was interfering with my work). I am more motivated by clinical practice and hope this job fits me well. Practice pays better than teaching too. My therapist says this time between jobs would be a good time to establish a “routine.” She specifically means eat right and exercise. Ugh. I know I need to, but it’s a really tough proposition. I know I need to take better care of myself so I can be more effective in helping others. Sort of like the airplane speech about putting your oxygen mask on before assisting your children/family members. But it is so very hard, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, I have made great strides in taking care of my home and yard. Mowing and pulling weeds is good exercise (push mower, one-quarter acre). The yard has been quite neglected since last year when my Mother got sick. By the way, she has made a miraculous recovery from being near death. She has gone from being unable to walk, to driving and socializing with friends. She is coming to visit me too. Hope to do something fun with my few weeks off. All work and no play makes Jen a dull woman. Can’t have that.
So, I am completing some unfinished projects and have gone back to some creative pursuits (pottery, crochet, jewelry making, blogging). Positive activities boost my mood for sure. Staying busy!