Organization or Obsession?

I am a self-described organized person but some of that as I define as organized can feel obsessive. I drive myself crazy with rules that I create for myself about how to live my life and disguise those as “organization”. Don’t get me wrong organization is key to a successful life. Everything has to have its place and time and that which is in its place and has its time must have importance and intention. The point at which it feels obsessive is when its rigidity feels like failure or false success because the rule was followed regardless of the importance or intention.

I am and forever will be obsessed with my health, which is actually my weight but I call it health because it sounds better and it is. You ask, “Do you actually organize your health?”…well yes of course because it satisfies the definition of being important and intended. I schedule every single hour of my day to include what time I am going to wake-up and go to bed so that I am sure to get 8-hours of sleep. I schedule my workouts, what time I will leave for work, what time I will leave for home, eat dinner, read…well you get the idea…obsessed or organized? Regardless of the answer it is my health; physical and mental and it matters so I do it.

I am a a strong-believer that if you don’t schedule it, it won’t get done. But what this scheduling replaces is the reality that life will get in the way and worse, doing what feels right regardless of the “schedule”. If you wake and don’t feel like working out, do you do it anyway? And when you have to deviate from that schedule is it a “fail”? Another example of this that also pertains to “health” is logging my diet. I have been logging my foods for a billion years. While this is considered a healthy practice and meal-planning is key to health; at what point do I eat because I already weighed out a 4-oz portion and logged it versus eating until I feel satisfied? In these cases I find myself listening to my organization more than myself. Organized or obsessed? or discipline? (oh wait…that is an entirely different blog 🙂

I might go as far as to say that I am obsessed with organization. I like everything to be just “so” at work and at home. My husband reminds me that we do not live in a museum. I understand that but nonetheless I like a tidy home and I like everything to be of use and have a home. I Spring Clean my home numerous times a year because I like to purge what is not being used to allow more space; not to be mistaken as room for something else, just space. At work you would be hard-pressed to find my office as I have not one picture nor object that would identify it as mine. I need a clean, minimalist space to do my best work; free from clutter like my mind.

I am a planner and spend the first weekend of every month, setting my intentions for the month and following up on those from the previous month to see what I accomplished. This is where success and failure are abound. Instead of patting myself on the back for all of the things I did accomplish I focus on those that I did not, and then set a new plan to accomplish those the next month. There is a little Stephen Covey discipline in there about moving things forward that don’t get done to keep the “To Do” list current but…taking time to celebrate the successes needs to be part of “the list”.

When I think back to when all of this started I remember always making my bed from the time I could recall having my own bed. I would clean the house without my mother ever asking and even recall offering to mop the floors around the age of 8 if she would buy me one of those new fancy roller mops. Growing up in school, I always kept a running list for my homework and found great pride in my neat papers; no dogeared corners, no spiral rip-offs dangling and God forbid if you could see when something had been erased, I would rewrite the entire paper. Definitely obsessed and organized to a fault!

Regardless of what you call it, I am obsessed with being organized and I own it. I make myself crazy admittedly and while I will swear off logging the same damn foods I log everyday and being wildly surprised when it still calculates to the same total…I know that in a moment of weakness on the scale I will find “MyFitnessPal” once again! Living my life obsessed, organized and owning it – L.

The Smiling Face of Depression

Image may contain: 16 people, people smiling, text

So as I was driving to work today and I was thinking of what I would be blogging about tonight and I knew tonight would be the night that I shared yet another personal experience in this life; my experience with depression. In that same moment, I had a thought that the face of depression has a smile, a twinkle in an eye and an infectious laugh. Ironically, I get to work and as we are reviewing our companies social media pages I see this meme posted by my Aunt Susie. Talk about the universe, parallel energies, synergy; whatever the heck you call it I was floored and KNEW this would be the subject of tonight’s blog.

Yes, these are indeed the faces of depression. This is reality, a terrifying reality but it was as real for them as it now is for their loved ones left wondering what they could have done, what they missed and the ever-longing cry of WHY!!!! I hope tonight’s blog can shed light on depression for the sake of your understanding or empathy for those around you that suffer. I have too often heard, “I don’t know how anyone could kill themselves” and to that my friend I say “consider yourself lucky”. Ignorance is indeed bliss however before putting your head in the sand consider my stance, my experience, my transparency…I put this out there to promote understanding and acceptance and hope you will read WIDE OPEN.

I believe in mental health as an active practice to stave away mental illness. Mental health is as important as physical health and while more accepted today it continues to be a stigma in our society. You would no sooner tell someone struggling with high-blood pressure to ” get over it” then why would we suggest the same to someone who is experiencing a depression. (Yes “a depression” because we ARE not depression; just as we ARE not our elbows. It’s a state that we are passing through.)

There are many roads we can go down on this topic so let’s start down one lane and see where we run into a few guardrails, cross solid lines and fly through tolls before finally exiting this highway…just for today. Yes JUST for today because this is a subject I will continue to blog about as I have a responsibility to all of those that believe in mental health as much as those that do not to help explain the curse of feeling sheer desperation, anguish and exhaustion from this life.

I came to know depression as a 20-something. I may have known it earlier in my life but it did not have a name until my boss (and friend) inquired as she could see I was in pain. She asked me “Does it feel like you are standing in front of a window that you cannot see out of?”. “YES! it does” I replied. “How did you know?” I asked. She then told me the story of her sister’s depression and in that moment I felt understood. She knew exactly how I felt, she described the despair, the helplessness to a tee. “But what do I do now?” She helped me get an appointment and there began my initial introduction to Mental Health.

This first bout of depression would be a hell of a ride. I have never been to a therapist and found it CRAZY that she could ask questions that made me say things I didn’t even know I was thinking!!! WTH? But the thoughts, stories, feelings were true, they were real, they were simply so deep inside I could not reach them to deal with them on my own. After weeks, maybe months, of therapy I felt unwound, understood by both my therapist and MYSELF. Yes, I understood myself better and had amazing realizations about who I was and would become.

The next bout of depression would show itself in my 30’s. I was struggling with my weight and despite hundreds of diets and thousands of hours spent in the gym I was not winning the war with the scale. This time I went to the therapist to help me uncover what was eating me inside out while I was eating everything in sight. This was a larger revelation than I was prepared for; I didn’t know it then. I found a therapist that kept it very real. She was a Jewish New Yorker who reminded me of my mother but absolutely was not buying my “shit”. I loved the process, I needed to be called out for my excuses, the lies I was telling myself, it was time to get real. She and I started digging and digging until the issues started rising to the surface. It was too much, I couldn’t bear it, I ran scared and I didn’t go back for two years!

When I returned to that therapist ready to finish what we started, she told me that she always knew I would return on my own terms because you cannot pull all of that shit out and think you are going shove it back in…it never goes back in once it’s out. So we finished the work, she took me to the edges of my courage and got me to deal with the realities of my life that I had never dealt. it was truly doing the work, dealing with these issues that ultimately allowed me to now get to work on the “easy” stuff…but not until I confronted my past. Ugh…the joy!

I emerged from this experience dazed and confused. She told me I would feel a weight lifting off of me as soon as I confronted these realities. For the next year I would continue to question when that weight was going to lift because I felt no different, had I done it wrong? No, I had not…it just took longer than the act of confronting my realities for my subconscious to release the burden.

My last visit to the dark side of depression came after a bout with kidney failure which would prove to be the last ailment I would face before finally taking control of my weight. I couldn’t do it anymore. I remember telling Gary “I’m done”! I was at the end of the rope, the bottom of the barrel, I had finally hit the proverbial bottom and it was time to act. This time didn’t send me too far down the “rabbit hole”. The blessing this time was that I knew what was causing my despair and I not only knew exactly what do but had done the work all along and was easily able to act. I had the tools, every single one of them…well except for the one that would offer the final resolve…my decision to have gastric bypass.

The process of preparing for bypass is a scary journey because not only do you have to get cleared by a number of doctors to prove that you can physically withstand the surgery but you have to pass a Psych eval! Holy Shizzle…now that is SCARY! I met with the Psychologist who immediately questioned my intentions…WTH I don’t want to date your son, I just want to lose 100+ pounds! Ha! I then was taken to a desk where I had to complete a 100+ question exam that I guess would tell them if I was “bat shit crazy” or sane enough to be skinny. Double Ha! I have to admit I was nervous about the test, and worse waiting for the call that I had “passed”. I wasn’t as scared about my cardiac clearance as this psych clearance. I was cleared and so were 140 pounds from my 5’3″ frame. 🙂

The experience of going through depression is that you learn what it feels like before it gets to far, you know what to do about it and you ultimately can control the extent of it. Much like a flu that you feel coming on. The first time you get the flu you don’t know what to expect when it comes, nor how to deal with it, when it has set-in you are left at the mercy of that strain of flu. So it goes, the next time you feel the flu coming on you get to the doctor immediately to get a Tamiflu shot to reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration. Depression is much the same. Depression does not always feel exactly as it did before however when you are paying attention, which when practicing mental health you do, you can get in front of it and while you will inevitably walk through it, if caught and treated early enough the walk will be brief.

Let us return to the those bright and smiling faces at the top of the blog. Those smiling faces were in pain, they were at their bottom, they were beyond reach and while we will never know if this was their first bout or their tenth ultimately they chose a “long term solution to a short term problem” or so a therapist would recite. Those around them may have never known that they were mentally ill as mental illness does not show itself in the form of an infection that we can see but it as painful and as gut-wrenching as any physical pain you will ever know. It is a lonely disease, it is an isolating sickness and it can overwhelm the heart and soul with a profound deafening and blinding thud.

I say to you that if you have never experienced depression be grateful and to you I hope that I have offered a bit of insight that will allow you a greater and more accepting understanding of a disease affecting many.

I say to those of you that have experienced depression, you are not alone. I know you, I am you, I feel you and I will walk with you.

This is life as I see it through my experiences that have formed my beliefs and ultimately shaped who I am. This is me – L.