The Choice

Many times we find ourselves operating on auto pilot. It isn’t until something happens to throw us out of autopilot that we truly realize how bad it is to operate that way.

After operating on auto pilot for years, I found myself in a very dark place. I realized after gaining 30 pounds within 3 months that something had to change. That was the day I went to the doctor and got an appointment with a therapist. That was 6 months ago. In the last 6 months I have learned more about myself than I ever knew before. With this, I have also learned to stand my ground and know that I do have a CHOICE in what I do every single day.

I have realized that the world does not end if I take a day off work or do a little bit less work in a day. I have realized that the world does not end if I choose not to pick up the house before I go to bed. I have realized that the world does not end when I choose to do the things that make me happy and surround myself with people who make me happy. I have realized that I feel better, my kids are happier and my husband is happier when I choose myself every day. If I am feeling down, I choose to take the day off to get in a better mood for my family. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I choose to do just a little less work to lift that feeling. If I am feeling frustrated and upset, I choose to be around people who make me happy and remind me of the good things in life.

It is with these choices that I have found my own happiness. Now, my choices do impact others, but it gives them an opportunity to choose what they want to do with it. My co-worker has chosen to pick up those extra tasks on the days that I choose that they would be too much for me. If someone upsets me, I choose to distance myself because my happiness is important too. This allows them to choose whether they want to make it right or remain distant.

In the past, I always felt the need to do everything and be everything. That caused me to be a very overwhelmed, burnt out, depressed person with a lot of anxiety. I have always done it all. Kids need something? I’ll do it. Family needs something? I’ll do it. Work needs a project done? I’ll do it. I was doing the work of 2-3 people every single day in every aspect of my life. It is absolutely no wonder that I was as overwhelmed as I was. It is no wonder that I was not always the greatest person to be around. I was strung so tight and demanding so much of myself I did not even know what made me happy anymore.

Moral of the story is: You do not have to do everything all the time. Find where your happiness is, and do those things. If you start to feel like you are falling back into doing everything all the time or the mental pressure to do it all, come back here and be reminded that you don’t have to do anything that does not bring you joy or happiness. It is okay to take the day off. It is okay to do one thing less. It is okay to order dinner instead of cooking dinner. It is okay to let that task wait until tomorrow. There is nothing more important in the world than your happiness, and only you can create that. The first step is realizing that you have a choice.

Depression in a time of Social Distancing

During this time of social distancing, one thing is often looked past. That is the mental well-being of those of us with depression and/or anxiety.

You are not alone. We have to make tough decisions about what make sense for our family during this time. Following your heart and your gut can come with a lot of backlash from others who believe differently than you. You have to do what is right for you and your mental health. For me, that means sending my kids to daycare so I can work full time. I tried to work from home with them one day and my anxiety was through the roof and I felt a bout of depression coming on because I felt like I was letting them down by telling them “no I can’t play right now, I have to work.” I realize this is not the decision that everyone will make or is making. That’s fine.

It gets lonely when you are stuck in the house all day. I thrive on face to face interaction with my co-workers day in and day out. They help make the day go by faster, and I can turn and ask them a question at any point in the day and get an immediate response. Now, I am being inundated with conference calls on things that would have previously been a 5 minute conversation that we would have had at our desks. Or, I am waiting on them to tend to their families and get back to me when I can. Work is less efficient.

Do what you need to do to stay sane. Is that going for a walk? Do it. Is it getting your favorite drink from a drive thru? Do it. Whatever your mental health needs, do it. For me, it is getting that snack that I gave up a few months ago to lose some weight, or even taking a nap. Listen to your anxiety/depression and let it tell you what it needs, and do it.

You are not alone, we may be socially distant, but we are all in this together and we WILL come out on the other side.