Well, my life until now has been defined as being “the helper”. I have now decided I need the help. I have worked tirelessly to help myself through reading, gaining knowledge, looking inward, meditating, staying aware of my emotions… among other things. This has been YEARS! I have done a lot of healing on my own, through self awareness and soul searching. As my children have grown into adults my time has been my own and I have been using that time to begin to heal. I say “begin to” because I feel like I’ve done all I can do alone. I need help.
I began seeing a therapist this week.
I have mentioned in past writings that I have difficulty with transitions. I have determined that may be my biggest weakness with my anxiety. I recently got very sick with pneumonia, I was out of work two weeks prior to our Christmas Break and then our break was two additional weeks. I most likely over did it over the holiday with company and family time, that I refused to miss any parts of, therefore not allowing myself to heal fully over that time. I honestly tried, and laid pretty low, but it clearly wasn’t enough rest. When I returned to work on Monday, after having been away for 4 weeks I soon realized how difficult it was going to be. I knew I needed to return for my kids (I work in a first grade classroom) but physically I was very drained and my body began to react to that. On Tuesday I went in convincing myself it was the “right” thing to do, I could not make it through the day… headache, body aches, upset stomach and rib pain from the torn cartilage I had from all the coughing through my sickness were just not something I could bear while trying to be positive and helpful in the classroom. I went home and began to fall into an emotional wreck. Crying and wondering when I would feel like me again and get back to my duties at school. If you’ve followed me here as The Bountiful Mom over the years you will know that my home-work balance is something I’ve struggled with in the past. My mind went wild with thoughts of people questioning me and my illness and my time out of work. Most of what I was ailing from at this point is unseen, I’m not coughing anymore and I look okay. I was, and am still, not okay!
I spiraled with thought. Thoughts that twisted me up. Familiar feelings of guilt and shame. Feelings of questioning my own self… was I really still this sick or is this my anxiety now? Am I convincing myself of the physical ailments in order to have something to blame my thoughts of anxiety on? I reeled with overthinking! I had absolutely been here before. I knew I needed help.
I searched the internet for counselors, therapists and doctors in our community who may be able to help me. I’ve considered it before and even made a couple attempts at setting up appointments. I always went with women and always skimmed over men when looking … I’m not even sure why? I guess as a mom and all my complexities of thought I assumed a woman would understand me better. Then I came across a name I was kind of familiar with but not familiar enough that it deterred me. What I mean by that is I live in a small remote community, so finding someone I do not know a lot about already or have a relationship outside of the therapy room had proved itself difficult. This one somehow felt good, worth giving a try. I called the number on the screen. I needed help.
To my absolute astonishment I wasn’t met with an answering machine or a voicemail. A male voice answered my call. I stuttered a bit as I began to speak, my voice broke as I began to feel weepy in my need. He asked when I hoped to begin sessions. I told him I was out of work and felt stuck. I asked about meeting today, explaining how I knew he was busy but… he stopped me, he said “How about 1:00pm?” I was relieved and yet a bit scared. But, I needed help.
I feel brave and courageous. This has been a big step. That first day was good but it kind of began with my backstory … I didn’t really talk about immediate need which was getting over my sickness and getting back to work. I left his office feeling hopeful for the weeks ahead and had a restful afternoon. I had been to my primary doctor as well that day and had been advised to stay home another day and allow myself healing and rest, I was told the pneumonia had wreaked havoc with my body and I had to give in to it. So, the next morning I did some of the home remedies suggested to me at my medical doctor and settled in to rest for the day. I was once again overcome with thought in the quiet of my living room. Questions of what’s wrong with my immune system to make me not bounce back yet, how could I continue to do this to my coworker and my students? My new therapist had told me we could text if need be, he wouldn’t charge for phone sessions if I needed it on a whim… I decided to reach out again, that took courage.
I needed help.
He said “How about 1:00pm?” I was so relieved, he was kind and understanding. I went this time to talk about work. My work-life balance that has seemed so off-balance for years. I questioned it being aligned with my passion and if it is even the right job for me anymore? I talked about my own childhood trauma of anxiety and misunderstandings coming into play and being triggered by some of my student’s behaviors and cries for help. He helped to restore some of the confidence I had lost over my physical illness, time spent alone at home in pain and basically he helped me to feel heard and understood. I don’t talk about my anxiety to many people. I feel judged by it. It is a label, not an understanding. From experience I have learned that when someone doesn’t battle with it themselves or have a loved one they have seen deal with it, they honestly can’t relate. It is hard for someone to understand what my brain allows me to believe when I am not at my strongest. So… I keep it to myself.
After that appointment, I felt stronger and more confident than I had in weeks. I went to work the next day!! I struggled through my weakness and was there for my kids ~ with a fresher outlook on my abilities to return to them and be what ~ and who ~ they need.
I will continue with therapy. He explained to me how much work I’ve already done on my own to get this far. He said we are able to skip over so much that we have already reached the AP CLASS… he told me “Our time together… this won’t take long”. That also has given me confidence. I am (and have been) working on me, a version of me that I love and respect. I know she’s in there, but sometimes the darkness traps me and I struggle to see the light again.
I asked for help and I am receiving help.