December 31, 2020. The day I found out I would need to take a blood thinner (for at least 3 months). The doctor apologized for calling me early on a Saturday (or maybe he said Sunday) to tell me, in fact, I did have blood clots. It was a Thursday - I did not correct him. I will not go into the details of the month long journey to this diagnosis, but I will say, I would not have even gone to the clinic in the first place had it not been for my best friend (nurse) who encouraged me to go after sending her pictures of my arm and telling her my symptoms.
Although the initial symptoms are gone, I can still see the mark that led to this call. It hasn't really sunk in until now. I feel a little betrayed by my body. I thought the worst thing I would have to live with is anxiety. But now there is this for the foreseeable future.
I spoke with one of my nieces on January 2, 2021. Near the end of our conversation she mentioned her sister had read her bullet journal. It was a passage from March (2020) when our world got turned upside down. She, like many, was worried she would never be able to see her friends again. Looking back on it she realized it was silly. But for an extrovert like her, this mattered. And whatever fears you had at the time mattered. You only get perspective once you have lived through something, like a pandemic. I was reminded that I have not journaled about this time. People say, "We will never forget this year", but I worry we will.
I have been trying to live in the moment - a remedy for anxiety. But in doing so, am I trying to ignore "the world is on fire".
My world hasn't changed all that much and for that I am eternally grateful. Coaching was put on hold early in the spring, but this allowed for some down time, time to really rest and recover.
I rarely eat out or shop. I spend quite a lot of time alone (self-proclaimed introvert). With evenings and weekends free I went on more walks and bike rides than most summers before. There was the thought of more camping, but when the initial restrictions were lifted it felt like it was too late to book anything. That being said, we (Kevin and I) spent one Saturday travelling the highway and gravel roads to small towns and attractions. We had no agenda, no time restrictions. It was just us and the highway.
I loved seeing photos (and still do) of the adventures my friends went on. Saskatchewan is such a beautiful place with so many hidden gems.
Although I have not been greatly inconvenienced, I know a great many have. Those who crave being around people, those less mobile (especially now that the snow has arrived and is here to stay), those who lost jobs, those with kids who had to “home-school”, those waiting for medical appointments and surgeries, those in care homes, those who lost a loved one. We are tired, yes even me – with all the rest I had. We make sacrifices for the greater good and watch as others disregard health orders. It is disheartening.
While we must live with this virus and navigate the new path that lay ahead, we also must live the life that is right in front of us. The one where we seek out connection (extrovert or not), help others who need a hand, and deal with the ramifications of job loss, a death in the family, or new medical challenges.
Both phone calls reminded me just how precious life really is. And I never want to forget that.
Sense of Calm
Confessions of a Coach
As always, be well
I cannot tell you how much sharing has helped me along my journey. That is, once I decided to share. I chose this platform as I find writing easier than sharing in person (that's not to say I won't talk to people, I just find I am better able to articulate myself in writing).
It cannot be stated enough, you are not alone in your struggles; because of this, I wanted to share stories other than mine. Thank you to my coworker Courtney for being vulnerable and open to sharing.
How has your mental illness affected your relationships (i.e. with friends, family, significant others, etc.)
Since being diagnosed with depressive bi-polar disorder and high anxiety, I notice that sometimes relationships with everyone around me are more strained. I find myself pushing people away when things get tough and almost self-sabotaging relationships. Luckily, I have met someone who realizes when I do this and doesn’t allow me to push him away. However, friends and family are a bit different. I think it’s tough for people to understand something they cannot relate to. It takes a lot of patience to deal with someone like me sometimes, with this illness. I’m glad for the people I have in my life and don’t judge me for having days or weeks, or even months where I really don’t speak to anyone, and know that it’s nothing personal. It’s the disease and sometimes you just need space to work it out.
Overall my illness has changed relationships with my family and friends, some days our relationships are strained and other days things are great. I don’t always feel like I have a support system though because I don’t feel as though many people I know understand what I’m dealing with and how my mind works, and sometimes I just don’t trust to tell them what’s going on in my life for fear of being judged or being gossiped about, which would in turn, make my mood much worse and likely cause a breakdown.
What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and get help. Trust someone and find a support system, it’s okay to need help.
How has your mental illness shaped your life to date?
I am a lot more self-aware of my actions and of the way I think. I find myself wondering why I’m thinking a certain way or why I am allowing myself to dwell on something that happened years ago and everyone has likely forgotten about. I feel like my understanding of others has also changed and I find myself being more sympathetic to those who have mental illness such as myself. I grew up not feeling like I could talk about these things and knowing that it’s changed so much in society now helps. I am not afraid to speak up, I am not afraid to tell my story, I am not afraid to get help.
What do you look forward to?
I am not sure what I look forward to right now. I am still taking things day by day. I do think I look forward to the day when I wake up and things feel a little bit easier and I worry less.
Two Thousand and Eighteen was about #selfcompassion and #lovingkindess. The very idea came from a gift I received last Christmas, “Breaking Free Day by Day” - by Beth Moore. I was stuck and so desperate to free myself from the pit I was in. I am still in awe of the changes I have seen this past year. (See my #breakfreeproject by visiting www.mavisdzaka.com/writing-projects).
I hope to continue on the same path in 2019. But rather than weekly posts, over the next couple of months I will answer the following questions (and hope to have others join me in the conversation):
- How has your mental health affected your relationships (i.e. with friends, family, significant others, etc.)?
- What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
- How has your mental illness shaped your life to date?
- What do you look forward to?
In doing so, I hope you too will reflect on your own experience. It is my hope, also, that by sharing you will know you are not alone, you are worthy, and that you are loved. I needed these words oh so many years ago. I didn’t get them or if I did I wasn’t listening. God showed up in my life. He was there in friends and family and he spoke through them.
I want to remove the shame we sometimes feel. I want to remove the self-doubt and even self-hatred. To me this is a bit of an exercise in vulnerability. I stand here open to what 2019 has to offer.
Today, I look forward to building upon the foundation I have created for myself, building upon relationships started in 2018, and curating a space where people feel they can be open to share no matter where they are in their journey.
All my love to you,
I am a daughter, sister, auntie, wife and friend.