Sunday, April 09, 2017
I spent the last two years experiencing levels of anxiety at work that greatly increased last fall. To the point that in October I had my first panic attack in 15 years. As much as I enjoyed my work I was also struggling for reasons that I still don’t feel comfortable discussing in public. Trying to pretend that things were okay or that I could somehow will things to be better was essentially just adding more stress and anxiety. The panic attack was the final sign that I needed to make changes. So I polished up the resume, sent it off into the world and, thankfully, I landed a new job in the beginning of the year that made it possible for me to move back to northern Virginia. While the move to Maryland helped me grow career wise I always had in mind coming back to Va - a short 6.5 years later and I’m back!
It’s funny, in a not comical sense, that I only realized that I was depressed until the anxiety and stress levels went down. Its hard to pinpoint when it started. I just know I finally put a label to it a couple of weeks before my birthday. I used to enjoy my birthdays, to the point that I would countdown to it - on the blog ages ago with a script that ran on the side bar, and then on Facebook despite feeling a little (a lot) silly about it. And then the cancer and the hysterectomy happened. I understood why I wasn’t overjoyed during the 2015 birthday. I even understood why the 2016 birthday didn’t inspire much joy. Plus, I thought, maybe I’ve finally just grown up, gotten to the point where birthdays are nothing special at all. But even as I thought that I knew I was just trying to deny the truth which is, I’m still not “over” my life being turned upside down two years ago. But I also feel like I can’t say that. Like I’m not supposed to say that. People expect me to be happy, to be relieved and grateful that the hysterectomy caught all of the cancer.
And of course I am. But there’s no denying that along with my reproductive organs, the hysterectomy took something else, some little spark of hope, of joy, of - I don’t know. Something that doesn’t sound so maudlin.
While I was struggling with dealing with the worst work experience I’ve ever had to deal with, the brain had no time to process anything else, I suppose. So when the new year rolled around and I realized that the birthday was coming back around I was caught by surprise by just how little I cared about it. For weeks at a time I even forgot all about it. And I know, many people behave that way and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them but until two years ago that was way out of the ordinary for me.
The week begore my birthday I was driving somewhere when I thought, “Oh. It’s actually next week.” And then, like the sky clearing up after a storm I had a realization, “Oh,” I said to myself, “You’re depressed!” I almost laughed because i should have reliazed sooner - this isn’t new territory for me. And yet, it still has taken a month to shake the fog off and make a conscious decision to not let myself fall deeper into the pit. Sadly, the weight gain is the thing that has really scared me enough to make some changes. Shame I couldn’t have figured this out and resolved to get back on the right track before I gained I don’t even know how many pounds. I’m scared to step on the scale. Though given that I have a follow up with the oncologist on Tuesday I guess I’ll know soon enough just what the number on the scale is. Not looking forward to the embarrassing moment when they record the higher number in the system. But, hey, at least then I’ll know what I’m working with and as we all know, data is never a bad thing. She says, trying to find the humor and silver lining in all of this.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
I partially completed the first application in the adoption process a few weeks ago but I held off on submitting it because I had a question for the oncologist. Really, I just wanted validation. I’ve often been accused of over thinking things, or being too concrete. I can’t deny either accusation as they are true. One of the sections in the application, naturally enough, is about medical history and one of the questions ask about any current treatments. I knew even before starting the process that I would have to talk about the cancer and the treatment done to get rid of it. When I went to the information meeting the agency folks made a point of saying that most health issues won’t necessarily rule anyone out but I’m a worrier as we know. I’m a worrier and I’m an over thinker and I have this need to be transparent so despite the fact that I was 99.9% sure that my follow ups don’t qualify as treatment I needed/wanted the oncologist to validate that so that I could fill the application out accurately.
With that visit done last week (and two years cancer free) there was no reason to delay submitting the application so submit it I did. Over the weekend I was told it had been approved and that I could now submit payment to get assigned a social worker and schedule the home visit. Sending the payment makes all of this a bit more real though there’s still a part of my brain that’s not quite processing that this is the way that I may be building my family. Maybe that’s just the heart and brain’s way of insulating themselves from possible disappointment. There’s certainly been plenty of that in the last couple of years. The thought of more makes my heart tired.
But, chin up, as they say. Hope is the key to so many things.
One very tangible thing to this process starting is that it’s a good motivator to get my apartment organized. All of the furniture is in but I still have to find a place for a great many tiny things and put the dining room table together. I’ve been a bit slower than anticipated in getting all that done but I certainly can’t have someone do a home visit with all this silliness laying about. It’s going to be a little bit of work but it’ll feel good to be able to complete a tangible, doable task.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Shutterfly has this promotion via their app that allows one to order 4x4 or 4x6 cards for free, not including shipping. As I unpack and prepare the spare bedroom* for use as an office/craft space, the urge to send snail mail has struck me again. So, the offer of “free” photos seemed serendipitous. I ordered a bunch and I’m here to tell you that when they say unlimited, they mean it. Well, unlimited in the sense that you can order many prints (but only 9 of each at a time). Still, I’m not about to quibble. As the photos have been arriving I’ve been cataloging them. Once I came up with a storage solution (thankfully a couple hundred photos don’t actually take up much space) I realized that maybe I went a little too overboard. With the number of photos I’d ordered, I’d have to write to a good number of people a week to make a dent in the cards. Which isn’t much of a problem, really. It just comes down to focus but having just learned that Bunheads is on Freeform.com yesterday, focusing on snail mail might be hard! Then again, Bunheads was a one season wonder so it’s not as if it’s gonna hold my attention for too too long. So there goes that excuse.
On Saturday, during a discussion of an upcoming fundraiser I had the brilliant idea that maybe I could donate a little time and a lot of photos to the event. “I have,” I said, “a ton of photos that I could turn into greeting cards. Maybe we could sell them at the picnic?”
“Why don’t we auction off one of your photographs?” was the response.
That took me by surprise; after a slight hesitation, I shook my head and said, “No, I think the cards are better.” Ah, insecurity rears it’s ugly head. I don’t know why I am willing to risk none of the cards being bought but am not willing to have a bigger photograph going unclaimed. Maybe it’s just logistics. I’ve done cards before, they’re simply enough and if they don’t sell, I’ll just use them myself. But a bigger photo, I’d want to make sure it prints on good paper, I’d want to mat it well, and get a decent frame. All in a week, when I get home tired and in the mood to just not think or do much. It all seemed like too much energy. Plus, again, there’s the absolute lack of interest in having people not be interested in my artistic eye. I’ve thought about maybe trying to sell stuff online. Every little bit of income coming in now would help. So, if I want to pursue that, I suppose I need to get some tougher skin around the photography skills and get on with enduring some potential rejection.
For now though, I’m gonna just glue some photos to blank cards and scratch the itch to create something in that minimal way.