Sunday, September 27, 2009

Getting past things

I have something that I need to write about and I’ve really debated about it. But I decided that I need to get this out there in some way. I know I have a few people that say they check my blog every so often to see if I’ve written anything and I have one follower. A dear person whose blog I adore and whose gardening talents and energy I covet. This is going to be a long one with no pictures! It’s a bit of a ramble since I tend to think in circles some times. If anyone doesn’t want to read a post about depression now is the time to click on the little button to close this page and move on.

Depression seems to something that can affect families. In other words if someone in your family battles depression then the chances are good that at some point in your life it could be something that you will need to deal with. I don’t know that my mom was ever diagnosed with depression. But looking back now I can clearly see that it was something that she battled over the years and especially in the last few years of her life. There are mny forms it can take with many people.
In my own personal experience its been an up and down thing. I have had periods when its been almost debilitating. I’ve been on medication and barely controlling this demon and I’ve gotten to a point where I could be off the medication. Sometimes there are circumstances that seem to trigger the downward spiral and other times there seems to be no obvious reason.

One of the problems is that often the $%$#@%$& insurance companies flag you as a high risk because the medications can become expensive and there can, for some people, be hospitalization involved from time to time. At one point hubby was self employed and paying for our insurance himself. For me the whole thing was useless because after looking at my medical files they decided not to cover any mental illness issues, or any asthma issues, or anything related to my back. And did I mention that since we had previously seen fit to make sure that we wouldn’t have any more children we’d dropped the maternity coverage ourselves.

I mention the whole insurance thing because after a few years without medication, 4 years ago I felt myself starting down that slippery slope. We had just started insurance coverage again after hubby being out of work for a while and I wasn‘t too sure of the coverage.. We had almost lost our house while hubby was out of work and we couldn’t afford to do anything to celebrate a VERY big wedding anniversary. (our wonderful kids came through for us though), between some of the various medications I had taken for different health conditions I had gained weight and was the absolute largest I had ever been in my whole life. Hubby scraped together some money and watched the travel sites on the web and found a “last minute deal” on a cruise for us to leave on 2 days after Christmas. It was my Christmas, birthday and every other holiday for the year gift. We went on that cruise and while I was moody and sometimes hard to be with … some things slowly changed. The sunshine seemed to rejuvenate me and I decided to make the New Years resolution to make some change in me. The largest of which was my intent to lose weight. I did not want to see another gift giving season come around where I had to list my size as an 18 or 20.

When I got back many people at my job commented on the “bounce” in my step. That week in the sunshine right after Christmas began a miracle. That year became the 1st January that I had any energy which was the perfect thing to catapult me into my season of weight loss. I did some research into natural things to take to combat depression and began taking some vitamins and herbs. As I did my research I also started to remember things that I’d heard over the years. I remembered my mother talking about vitamin B shots to lose weight and energize her. So I began taking a multi-B vitamin 3x per day.

I also remembered a counselor telling me that to be more balanced I needed other interests outside my husband and children. I thought I had that in my gardening, home d├ęcor pursuits, dog breeding, and music. But those were all things that in some way involved the family home or involved my husband or kids. I made a conscientious decision to interact with people outside that circle more. I found a best friend who is sooooo opposite of me in so many ways. I know that many people who know both of us have been amazed to see that friendship develop. I bught my own CD’s and began listening to music that I had chosen instead of and in addition towhat my husband brought home for us.

I threw myself into my work, telling myself that I needed to think more like a guy and put more of my identity in my work. I was managing a floral department with that new commitment .

The plan worked … I lost 55 pounds. I gained a wonderful best friend. My creativity and my sales grew at work, and the depression was kept at bay. All went well on this path for some time.

Then, 2 years ago on the 1st Saturday in August the regional manager over all the fresh areas in the store where I worked came in with a letter that changed my world. I haven’t mentioned that the floral department that I managed was owned by an outside company that leased its space inside the store. We were expected to appear as if we were employees of the store, but in reality it was a separate business. The company I worked for was going bankrupt and would be ceasing operations at the end of the month. However, according to the letter the chain that was leasing the space to our company would start operating the Floral department as part of their operations and would hire the floral department staff that passed their screening process. But the little thing that wasn’t clearly stated … they hired some of my staff but none of the managers were hired at any of the local stores.

The day I found out that I wouldn’t be hired I drove to a local bar and sat and had 4 martinis while sharing my misfortune with a complete stranger sitting next to me. She told me about 1 retail chain in the area that was looking for managers. I thought I was above that store and dismissed it.
After 2 months of looking for a job, both in the floral industry and out, I looked up that company that I’d turned my nose up at back in August. They were still looking for managers and I filled out their online application and submitted my resume. Then I went through a telephone interview and some intense online testing and was finally called for a face to face interview with a local district manager. All of that process took another month. By the time I actually started that job I had been out of work for 3 months .

That began a very tumultuous employment saga and that is putting it mildly. Initially I was placed in a store to work under an established manager. He gave his notice the day that I started. One week later an assistant manager claimed to have been robbed while taking the bank deposit to the bank and I was the manager on duty that handled the police etc. It turns out that the manager that was brought into the store to replace the 1st manager and train me knew little more than I did about how to run the store. She had lied about her experience in order to get hired and had always worked with people who had been with the company and were able to cover for her inexperience. I spent months with her while she told the district manager that I wasn’t ready for my own store because in reality she wasn’t ready to manage her store without me (this isn’t sour grapes, she admitted it later). During the months that she declared that I wasn’t ready. Then the DM finally removed me from her store and had me working special projects for him at various stores for a few months before I was finally assigned my store. It was the store that the DM had originally hired me for, but he had handed it to a manager from another district when he was told that I wasn’t ready for my own store. The store needed some serious help!! There was stock in the back room that hadn’t ever been unpacked from the previous year. They were setting cases of stock on shelves on the sales floor without unpacking it and the cleanliness level was a whole different matter. But despite all that the store had a pretty good sales record and was #2 in our district. I started hiring new people and made some changes in the stocking schedule. I worked hard to make the cleanliness level change. We started hearing great comments from the customers. Because the stock was making it to the floor and being put where it belonged our sales started climbing. I watched amazing things happen there. But it came at a huge price!

I kept the weight off that I had lost because I rarely had time to sit down to a meal and was working between 60 and 80 hours per week. But as I ran out of the vitamins etc that I had been taking I didn’t seem to have enough time to go buy more and that part of my regimen fell to the wayside. The spasms in my back that had seemingly been under control after my weight loss and exercise started came back. My friendships and socialization became nonexistent . Even my family ties suffered as I missed events and holiday celebrations to be at the store. My gardens became so weed infested that my husband just mowed them all down. And inside the house … it was a nightmare of neglect.

After a consult with my doctor I was considering taking a leave of absence. Then one evening while climbing up and down an 8 foot ladder to remove paper towels from an unreachable upper shelf I missed a step and landed on my hip. That fall and the injuries I sustained were the deciding factor. I approached my DM about taking a leave of absence in order to heal. I was told that they would not be bringing in a manager to replace me and would just let my 2 assistant managers handle things until I got back. I knew that in addition to leaving an unfair burden for them that it would undo a lot of the progress we had made in the store. So, I chose to turn in my resignation with the understanding that I would be hired back when I was all healed and recuperated.

My 1st few weeksturned inot months at home and I did little more than lay around and heal and sleep. But while I was excited about being able to do things with my family and friends, I found that while my life was consumed with my job their lives had moved on. I made it through the winter feeling a bit blue but not worrying too much about it. Then after a birthday where I sat at home by myself all day while everyone that I wanted to spend the day with had other plans I started feeling sorry for myself but tried to keep my focus.

Then at the end of March I was asked to come back to the store I had left 2 years ago and run the floral department again. Its not a management position but its working in a store and atmosphere that I enjoy and I get to be creative again.

I’m slowly rebuilding some of the friendships that fell by the wayside. I’m dressing in fun clothes instead of a uniform. But somehow the depression has crept in again. I fought it at first and didn’t want to accept it. But this summer it became apparent that I had slipped far enough that my remedies weren’t going to do the trick. On a trip alone through a rural area over the summer I realized that I could easily wreck my car and there would be no help until it was to late. I started to dwell on that thought as a way of escaping the feelings of not being needed or worthy. I needed the real drugs and some real help.

Some of the issues that I battle:

  • I become so critical of myself and if anyone else criticizes me I take it further and come down even harder on myself.

  • I avoid the people that I feel I have let down.

  • I avoid the phone partially because I’m afraid that if I call someone it will be interrupting them. The longer I’m out of contact the worse it gets. I start feeling guilty for not returning the call. I try running a conversation in my head to plan how to explain it and I can’t so I don’t call … this applies to email contact as well … and apparently it also applies to my attempt to blog because I’ve been beating myself up over starting my blog and never doing anything more with it.

  • I feel like my family and friends would do just as well if not better without me.

  • Some times it feels like I can’t think about anything. Like my whole world is running in slow motion and yet when I start worrying about something it feels like my brain is on speed thinking through all the worst case scenarios. This is a particularly hard cycle to stop.

  • My sleep patterns are disrupted as I seem to either want to sleep all the time or find myself unable to sleep.

  • This time around one of my biggest issues is the guilt and “beating myself up” over the shape my house is in. After working so many hours and letting things go while at my last job, and then being in so much pain over the winter that I couldn’t do much, it has gotten out of hand! Yet, I’m paralyzed when it comes to starting somewhere to make it better because it feels like there is no way I can ever have enough time or energy to get it back in shape.

My resolve to myself right now is to get back to my blog. I feel like I can more realistically set a goal to post here once or twice a week to start with. I think this is easier because I know that I didn’t let down a lot of people by not following through here. I’m hoping that by starting here I will see that I can have success at something that I have control of and hopefully, soon as my medicine starts working I can rediscover those people and things that I am most passionate about and then this should really take off.