From The Book of Joy

This is one I'm not sure I'm going to post. Right now, I am just writing it for myself, and we'll see how I feel once it's all out. 

Lately, I've been feeling extra "I don't belong here" at work. Something is off. I'm simultaneously having this conversation with a friend right now, about how I believe I'm suffering from some residual hang ups after my anxiety bout last Fall. 

For those of you who are new here, I guess I should recap. Last July, Jason and I got married and went on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip honeymoon from Napa to Los Angeles, CA. Somewhere around Solvang, about halfway through the honeymoon, I started to feel anxious. There was even a night that I couldn't stop crying in our hotel room, without knowing why I was crying. By the time we got to LA, I was doing everything in my power to distract us both from the heavy, heavy anxiety I was feeling. I still don't know why it came about at that particular time, I don't know if it had to do with the major life change I had just been through, or if it had more to do with the weight of the world I was feeling at work at that point. I had been dealing with an unusual amount of work stress for a few months by that point, so much so that I had started job searching. I received a phone call the day before our wedding from a job I had submitted my resume to, offering me an interview. They wanted to do a Skype interview while I was on my honeymoon, because they wanted to move quickly on the position. I tried to prepare for the interview from the hotel "business center" (one computer with terrible Internet), and found myself in tears from being overwhelmed at this task that I was having to perform with no knowledge and inadequate resources. I decided it wasn't something that I wanted to have hanging over my head on our wedding day, and stressing me out during the first couple days of our honeymoon, so I cancelled on my interview. When we got into Solvang a few days later, I found out that they had another open position and wanted to offer me another interview. I convinced myself that this kind of thing just doesn't happen very often, and it had to be a sign that I was meant to interview for this job, so we scheduled an interview (thankfully) for when I got back home. I was much less stressed the second time around, and did so well that they offered me the job. So I've just gotten married, experience a slight rollercoaster of emotions throughout my honeymoon (some related to this very job I've just been offered), and now I've returned to a very stressful job, and am about to start a brand new job. It was overload. I had already been experiencing anxiety, but starting the new job sent me way over the edge. The panic attacks started hitting me fast, furious, and frequent.

I ended up taking a 6 month unpaid leave of absence. Add financial stress to the picture, but it allowed me to take some time to focus on myself. I went to regular counseling for the first time, and even spent that period of time on anti-anxiety medication. Seeing it all written out like that, in such a long paragraph, makes me realize how much I went through in such a short period of time. Easily the roughest patch of my life, I think. But so confusing, mixed in with our first months of marriage, which I was so happy about. 

Back to present day... I've been back to work for 3 months now (in a new job, which was a welcome fresh start), and I am enjoying this job just fine. I'm grateful to be out of the last two jobs that were causing me to feel so much stress and anxiety (whether more my fault or theirs, is irrelevant). But something has started to feel (or still feels, I'm not sure which) just a bit off. I'm very, very low on self-confidence at the moment, and have felt this way for a few weeks now. I do believe it's a mixture of several circumstances: Jason being away so much the last couple months, not seeing a counselor anymore, going off of the medication and trying to lose the weight that I believe it helped me put on, hormones in general (from a birth control medicine that only causes a menstrual cycle every 3 months), work pressure, work boredom, and I'm sure a few other factors thrown in for good measure.

Since the beginning of May, Jason has probably been away more than he's been home. I struggle with being alone anymore, something that I used to be so used to and felt so normal to me. Now I miss him. I miss another human being when he's not there. Thank goodness for the dogs, but I swear I feel like a single mom when he's gone and it's hard. Not as hard as actually being a single mom of human children, I wouldn't want to imply that (single moms, you all are superheroes), but still lonely and hard nonetheless. The last few times he's been getting ready to leave on a trip, the night before he leaves, I've noticed myself feeling really sad and anxious about him leaving and me being left alone. It didn't used to really phase me, when he would only leave for a couple nights. I would think about all the girly movies I was going to watch while he was gone. But the last couple times, I've just thought how much I don't want him to go.

I stopped seeing my counselor regularly, although we decided I would go back if and when I needed to talk. The thing is, once it seemed to come up again that I did, in fact, need to talk, I realized I did not want to go back to this particular counselor. She was extremely nice, and helped me work through a lot of things, but I just don't think it was quite the right fit, or gave me quite what I needed. It's such a daunting process, especially in a small town, to find the right counselor and pay for continued counseling sessions. So I'm sort of stranded in the middle of nowhere with that right now, not sure how to move forward. 

I believe my current weight is causing me some depression, anxiety, and low-confidence. I'm working on remedying this with a healthier diet, more regular yoga practice, and Jason and I are discussing joining a gym when he finally finishes working for the summer. But I've noticed myself feeling really self-conscious about it lately. And I've been dealing with those wonderful feminine hormones on their own lately, which definitely explains why the yucky feelings (physically and emotionally) have gotten more intense the last few days. Hopefully they'll ease up in a few days, when this is all over. And bonus good news: not pregnant! (I try to find the little things to be grateful for.)

As for my issues at work... I've just always felt like I don't really have any special talents or skills. I somehow get by, I get hired, I haven't gotten fired, but I always doubt my abilities in a professional setting. I have always felt like I'm "faking it." In my current job, I am an Admissions Advisor, but I'm also partially responsible for recruiting new students to my programs. The problem is, my program was developed for out-of-state students, so I am at a loss as to how I can recruit 170 miles away. Yet the pressure still exists to fill these programs. It just doesn't help my feeling like I don't really know what I'm doing, and like I'm not actually very good at anything. Because I don't have many students enrolled in my programs, I don't have much to do at work. And because I feel like I'm not being very productive, I'm feeling even more like a phony adult. I've never been a professionally ambitious person, and I've accepted that about myself. I just can't and don't and will never "live to work." I've never found anything that I'm super incredibly passionate about, so I really am just kind of getting by in the professional realm. And that is something I have yet to figure out how to fix.

I'm sorry this post is insanely long, I just felt like I needed to get some of this off of my chest. I think I will share it after all, because it's part of my reality, and part of bravely being my authentic self. I guess my funk has leveled, and has given way to the realization that I am actually just out of sorts right now. Not a phase, not a bad mood, but something is genuinely wonky in Whoville. Since I've pinpointed so many potential issues, that means good news and bad news. Good news: if I can focus on one thing at a time, eventually I'll be able to improve one thing at a time. Bad news: there are a lot of things. 

I just want to take a quick second (if you're even still reading this, you deserve a medal) to encourage everyone to reflect, and listen to your body. Pay attention to how you're feeling. If you're feeling like you're in a funk, try to get to the root of it, and make sure it's not bigger than a funk. If you can get to the root of the problem, you have a much better chance of discovering a long-term fix. Now that I've realized I'm dealing with something bigger than a funk, I feel better just knowing the reality of what I'm dealing with. Now the focus is on solutions and delivering the right mental messages to myself. I'm trying my hardest to focus on eating healthier, and getting more movement and fresh air, rather than focusing on the weight gain that makes me self-conscious. Of course, it's there, in the back of my mind, but when I hear myself saying the wrong thing to myself, about myself, I redirect towards the positive reasons for working on my diet and physical activity. I am super grateful that this "funk plus" hasn't developed into full-blown anxiety attacks, and I think as long as I am working on myself, taking care of myself, and listening to myself, I can prevent that from happening. I will do what I can, and have faith that other things are out of my control and will work themselves out. 

Again, thanks so much for hanging in there with me. Writing is such incredible therapy. 


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