May is Mental Health Awareness Month so it’s fitting that this post and my goals have come into play now. Read on. You’ll see why.
Last year was, by far, my most difficult year since 2003-2004 when I was dealing with the aftermath of an emotionally abusive relationship. Having had quite a few good years with very sparse difficulties, 2012 ended up hitting me on an emotional level that I was vastly underprepared for.
My job had me overworked with little support and when I asked for help, it never came. I was suffering under a weight of stress that I had never endured before and I needed help, especially since none was coming while I was at the office.
So, I got help. I started seeing a therapist every week and as much as I suffered, I also worked extremely hard to find me again. We worked on my problems and we worked on finding solutions. We worked, Tuesday after Tuesday, to piece myself back together and find what makes me happy. In an effort to find a life that I enjoyed despite being under a heafty strain, I used my suffering to aid in my own healing. Every week we’d talk about what I had the most trouble with and figure out how I could look at the situation differently. How could I spin it so that I could be comfortable with my choices? How could I learn to be okay with my life when I was miserable?
During July of 2012, I had what my therapist and I called “an episode of extreme anxiety.” It wasn’t quite a panic attack but it definitely wasn’t business as usual either. I had planned a day at the Cape with my family and earnestly attempted to go but I couldn’t. I got halfway there, stopped for gas, and retreated home where I felt safest. I was not okay. Luckily, every Tuesday that led up to that day had taught me one thing: I can soothe myself. I wrote, I cried, I yelled at myself. And I came out of it no worse for the wear, even if I was terrified that somehow I’d let it get that far.
As fallout from that day, I embarked on a project that I called August Happiness. I knew something had to change and while I was doing my best to find a new job that would fit me much better, I still wanted to better myself in the process. I started to combat daily stresses by adding in daily happiness. I felt I could overcome.
I took more walks. I left the office for every lunch break in order to reset myself. I wrote in my journal more. I listened to the audiobook of “The Art of Happiness” on my way to and from work. I listened to the chapter about anger over and over and over again because I needed that wisdom.
It was challenging and there were some days during that month that I still cried and I was still very stressed out–the underlying problem had not yet been fixed but I was learning how to help myself anyway. I was going to be happy anyway.
It worked. I went in for my third and final interview the end of August for the job I really wanted and was working for. The very next week, on my 27th birthday, I happily accepted that position. We’d already planned an extravagant dinner out. It had all fallen into place.
I give a lot of credit to my therapist and August Happiness for helping me get to that third interview, calm and confident, and to become an employee at a company that is a much better fit for me.
Between then and now, there’s been a lot of adjusting. I’ve been adjusting to my new position and how it has affected my daily life. It’s been a very pleasant process and I half expect that when I’m not looking, things will get hairy again. But it never did.
Then, the Boston Marathon happened. I think it has affected most people that I know differently but it hasn’t seemed to leave anyone untouched. It started out as such a peaceful day and I had contemplated going into my city to enjoy the newly sprouted spring weather. I didn’t and I’m thankful that my cold kept me close to home.
I found out about the bombs via first hand accounts on Twitter. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. Then photos started surfacing and there was no denying that it did. I was unable to comprehend what happened and I couldn’t cry. It was unreal.
It built up even worse just days after, on Friday, when I was awoken at 6am to a phonecall from my office. “Due to the events currently unfolding, we have closed all offices today.” I went to bed the night before thinking I’d finally get some sleep but woke up on lock down to discover that a shootout had happened near Arsenal Mall. Arsenal Mall. The one near me.
And even that, while shocking, was not quite real for me. Not yet. Only in the last two weeks have I started to process it all and to feel it. It doesn’t feel good. My city, the one I love so dearly, was attacked.
The same emotions that I experienced last summer have come flooding back quickly. I’m anxious and sad for what my city has had done to it.
And now I’m embarking on a new project: May Happiness. I’m going to continue what I started last summer and make my happiness a higher priority. The same tactic that helped get me over a hump then will help me remind myself that this isn’t so bad and that I can overcome it. I will be better because of it. Enough happiness and positivity will brush away the gloom.