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?
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Janine Huldie saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm
Aww, Alexa, I was reading this and getting angry for you that someone would say and make you feel this way about your fundraising, because for all the time I have known you, I know you take fundraising for this cause seriously and not in it just for you. Seriously, Alexa I just want you to know that I know that you are a true inspiration to me and can’t applaud you enough for all you do for the wonderful causes you are involved in. That said, glad your kids helped you come around and know that my kids in my worst of moments always seem to help make me smile and realize the good in this world. Hugs to you! 🙂
Janine Huldie recently posted…The Most Unexpected Part of Being a Grownup Is…Oh How the Times have Changed
katbiggie saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm
Thank you Janine. I really, truly appreciate those words. Thank goodness for our little babes.
Katie @ Pick Any Two saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm
I’m sorry that you had to experience this, and that your motives were questioned. As someone who works in the nonprofit sector, I know that wanting to help others and wanting to be successful personally do NOT have to be in conflict. My co-workers care about the cause AND their careers, and that is a good thing because it makes the work we do on behalf of others better. So in my mind there is nothing wrong with you wanting your fundraiser to be successful, and that your personal investment in the project is only going to make it stronger.
Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted…That Day God Spoke To Me Through a Stop Sign
katbiggie saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm
Thank you Katie. That makes me feel a lot better. I appreciate your insight greatly. And somehow I did not realize you worked in the nonprofit sector?
another jennifer saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm
I agree with what Katie said. I think it’s sad when people think others are selfish for having a personal connection to fundraising. I have seen nothing selfish about your acts, Alexa. Absolutely nothing. In fact, you inspire me.
another jennifer recently posted…Philanthropy Friday: Why I Will be Traveling to Nicaragua in March
katbiggie saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm
And you inspire me. 🙂
Tamara saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 4:03 pm
It’s very sad that people would even question why you do something, instead of just applauding you for doing it well. Anyone can clearly see that you are meant to do this work and it is in your heart. It is your heart.
Yes, I’ve had situations in workplaces where I’ve been reduced to tears and anxiety based on feedback. I’m really bad with criticism, especially by people I thought I trusted.
I had a bad anxiety episode recently and my first reaction was to question whether or not I want to write about it!
I think I do.
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katbiggie saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm
It is tough to write about it because, well, it’s bearing your deepest, most inner feelings and insecurities. I used to really fear sharing these emotions, but that would be a bit hypocritical since I’ve been an advocate for an open discussion on mental health. If I can’t even talk about my own issues, how can I expect others? I hope you do write about it. I know it helps me to know that I’m not the only functional dysfunctional person! 😉
I don’t handle criticism well either, obviously, so I hear ya.
WriterMom Angela saysFebruary 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm
Oh my gosh can I?!? Last week I wrote a heartfelt post that I was passionate about relating to parents of ADHD children and I let one negative (dare I say witchy?) comment on Facebook derail my euphoria for days! I received dozens of positive comments and I stewed and sulked about one negative comment. Ugh. I hate it when I do that! I am glad you’re feeling better, please know that no one who really knows you would ever think you’re capable of being selfish!
WriterMom Angela recently posted…Social Media Tip: Using Rebel Mouse as a Blogger
katbiggie saysMarch 1, 2014 at 11:59 am
Thank you Angela! I am very relieved to know that I’m not the only person who stews over comments!
Ilene saysMarch 1, 2014 at 7:11 am
Alexa – I am so sorry you had to deal with a comment like that. You are raising awareness for something so important and yes – your success means the success for others and ultimately means saving the lives of babies. You are disciplined and dignified for holding your public anger toward that person who made that remark. And I admire you for that. Clearly, they are the one with this issue. Keep doing what you’re dong lady. xxxooo
Ilene recently posted…Maybe This Could Be Big
katbiggie saysMarch 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Ilene you know that might be the first time anyone has ever said I was disciplined and dignified. I must be growing as a person. Love you girl!
Jess saysMarch 2, 2014 at 11:51 am
I’m so sorry that this happened. That is so disappointing and upsetting that a person involved in this fundraiser would talk about you behind your back, and to say such a nasty, hurtful thing. Shame on that individual. If he or she had a problem, he or she should have privately discussed it with you. I have to wonder if that person has negative things to say about other people as well, not just you.
This makes me angry. People never cease to amaze me with how immature and ignorant they can be.
You are doing a good thing that you are passionate about. Just keep up the great work and don’t let petty gossipers get you down. Hang in there.
Jess recently posted…So That’s What My Parents Meant About Responsibility