Yesterday I had a really bad day. It wasn’t the grief. It was the depression, which reared it’s ugly head. There was an event that initiated this downward spiral, which I will get to in a moment. I committed to blogging about Mental Health issues this year with Blog For Mental Health, and I want to share these moments of struggle.
Oddly, even in the midst of my severe panic attack, the only thing I could think about what getting back to my computer and writing about it. Sharing it with my online support group, and having a big giant pity party. I got home and started typing away in anger, as tears rolled down my face and I wanted to let the world know I had been wronged.
And then the words of a previous supervisor bubbled up. Very wise words. He told me once “Never respond in anger. Always give yourself 24 hours to think about the situation before taking action.” He was referring to a scathing email I had sent in anger with a situation at work, but I found it applicable in this case as well. He was so right and so wise.
Time always gives us a different perspective.
Also, I hate feeling sorry for myself. I knew that if I spewed that anger, I would feel sheepish and embarrassed as I got comments from those who felt sorry for me. I wanted nothing to do with that. It’s a strange collision of emotions – the desire to pour your heart out when it hurts, combined with the realization that it will spark words of comfort, which I did not necessarily want either.
I guess I just wanted to be heard.
But not that way. Not full of anger.
The morning started as usual. Insanity getting three children up, ready, and out the door. I was feeling a little bit of anxiety because I would be attending my first training session for a job that I was offered and accepted. It is a part time job working as a Family Partner with other parents who have a child in the NICU or are transitioning into the social system that provides help to families with special health issues. The major qualification is that you have to have lived that life, which we did. And I offer them the experience of my loss to help other families in that situation. The job is perfect for me really, but I was not really expecting to start working again, and I have concerns about child care and logistics.
I dropped my daughter off at preschool, and then met with someone with whom I am coordinating an upcoming fundraiser to raise money for two groups, one happening to be something I am very involved with.
What happened in this meeting took me completely off guard. She relayed to me that there were concerns from other members of the committee that I was not interested in the good of the group, and was simply in it to pursue my own interests.
The words stung and shocked me. I could not understand. We did the exact same fundraiser last year, and I was going about the process exactly like we did last year. And I was incredibly hurt that they would have those thoughts.
When I hear things that implicate I am selfish, I am doing this for my own benefit, that I don’t have my priorities right, that I don’t really care about helping others, just getting out of it what is good for me, a little piece of my soul dies.
I cried. I couldn’t help it. And I felt so weak for having that emotional breakdown in front of her.
I kept the worst of it until I was in the car.
I just wanted to run away.
I felt defeated. And my first reaction was to want to just quit it all. To stop trying to do things that I felt like no one else cared about. To stop “annoying” people (as I’ve also been told) while I try to garner their support of the campaigns that I am passionate about. To stop trying to develop the Sunshine After the Storm, Inc. non profit. Because what if… what if they were right? What if there is a part of me motivated by selfish
I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. Who all had been having these discussions and how could I go back to planning meetings knowing that some of the women have this impression of me? And that made me angry as well.
I felt incredibly sorry for myself, and then angry for feeling sorry for myself.
It was too much for me to handle. The dark place returned. There is no word that I can use to describe the physical response this had on me. It was more than sobs – it was perhaps more along the lines of a panic attack. The tears kept on streaming, I might have been hyperventilating, my cheeks started to tingle, and then whoosh. I just wanted to give up on everything. EVERYTHING. Everything.
And then I heard the tiny little voice in the back seat. “Mommy?”
And thankfully, that pulled me back. Mostly.
This seems like a really dramatic reaction to a simple statement, that perhaps I even took the wrong way.
But it goes deeper than this one instance. Really, it’s been building for a long time. Years of frustration, sadness, depression, hurt, rejection, the self pity, the anger at myself for feeling self pity, and so many more emotions hit me like a freight train.
The worst of those emotions would have to be embarrassment. Pure embarrassment that somewhere along the way, my words or actions have led people to have these thoughts. And the self doubt hit me like a ton of bricks. Then the questions…. am I really doing all of this for some sort of glory and personal accolades? Am I selfish and misguided on my priorities? Is this completely over sensitive reaction more than just pain, but maybe a sense of guilt? I don’t think so. I hope not. I pray not.
Thankfully I stepped away from my computer, because what I wrote yesterday was not the type of person I want to be. And I’m glad I took those 24 hours. Because that afternoon, as I sat in my training, the Lord spoke through my trainer for my new job.
She said “The biggest liability you will have in this job is your heart. Because you want to do this job because you care and because you know what it is like to be in these parents’ situation. We certainly don’t do it for the small stipend we receive.”
And I realized that she was right.
Yes, I think it is natural that we thrive when we are doing something that we love and we are passionate about. So I don’t think it’s evil that I want my actions to be successful.
Do I need to perhaps work on how I approach my enthusiasm toward my fundraising? Maybe.
But I should certainly not feel ashamed of wanting to be successful.
Because success in MY job means helping others. Perhaps bringing a little bit of light into their darkness. And even saving lives.
I am oversensitive. It’s a quality that I know about myself, and I try to keep in check. But my feelings are so badly hurt right now. And words, as hard as we try to forget them, burn themselves into our memories when they hurt.
But I choose to not let it get the best of me. I choose not to be defeated.
Can you relate to a time when someone’s words nearly derailed you in an effort?