Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last Days of Summer

This has been one of the best summers--if not, the best summer of my adult life.

It's been a summer marked by the things that I didn't do:

I didn't attack the pile of summer reading books that I wanted to. In fact, I hardly read anything this summer, save for The Devil in the White City. I read one book and am in the process of reading its sequel, and won't post commentary about it till I'm done.

I didn't see as many friends as I had planned.

I didn't go to the beach as often as I wanted to.

If anything, this summer, I just was, if that makes any sense.

I've been reading a lot of PeaceBang's posts in depth lately, and today's really spoke to me. PeaceBang reflected on her summer too, and it appears that her summer was very similar to mine in terms of doing what I call "Head Work."

You can read PeaceBang's reflection on the summer of 2008 here. Meanwhile, let me tell you about what I learned about myself this summer, but first, let me give you a little background information.

In 2002, I was officially diagnosed with depression. I had been struggling with depression and its best friend, anxiety, my entire life, but it wasn't till adulthood that I got an official diagnosis and was put on medication. Prozac changed my life. I became spontaneous, happy, and joyful, and felt terrific. However, there was still this feeling in the back of my mind that the drugs were what made me, not my personality.

I had some side effects to the Prozac, particularly weight gain, and went off it in 2005. That's when I started on Lexipro, and the side effects were much worse. In addition to craving food when I was not hungry, I also felt fatigued all the time. And I was still experiencing anxiety and depression, in spite of the medication.

I finally weaned myself off Lexipro late last year, just when things hit rock bottom. My Inner Critic, with whom I have battled my entire life, was completely taking over my domain. I hit a huge slump, professionally and personally. At this point I realized that the antidepressants were preventing me from addressing the emotional and mental difficulties I was experiencing.

That's when I knew I needed a therapist.

I found one, and am so glad I did.

This summer was all about dealing with some difficult issues in therapy, particularly letting go of past mistakes and not letting them affect the present. It was about learning how to not worry about things that won't happen. These are issues that I'm still working on, but I've now come to the point where I realize these things are getting the best of me, and I'm able to step back and examine the situation objectively, as opposed to letting myself get completely enveloped in them.

This was a summer of healing. I spent a lot of time by myself. I really, really enjoy my solitude. There were many days where I would just stay home in the condo and watch a DVD with my cats, and just relax and be content. There were also days where I let myself take a nap for a couple of hours, with the cats cuddled up against me. This month in particular, I slept quite a bit--I've been keeping late hours with the Summer Olympics (which are ending soon--le sigh!)

Basically, I'm learning how to give myself a break. Yes, I slept till 10:30 one day, but I was also up till 2:30 that morning. Instead of beating myself up for not getting up at 7:30, I should be grateful that I got eight full hours of sleep. The dishes in the sink didn't get done one day, but I did get the bathroom done in the same day.

I am learning how to do what's good for me, and put myself first in my life.

It is a process. I am not perfect. I had a relapse earlier this month and found myself back in the old anxiety knot. I recognized it, and dealt with it. There will be days where this will be the situation I find myself in. It's taken time for me to heal, and I think I need more time to do so.

Baby steps. I gotta keep saying that to myself. One day at a time.

And what a glorious day it is.

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