Suicidal Thoughts, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Violence, Sexual Assault, Pandemic Struggles.
I have always wanted to write something with meaning and importance, though I also want to write something unique, and personal. Some days, I feel this acheing need to write about specific topics, and only those topics as to follow some sort of predetermined outline of what my writing should be. As humans, we are so much more than limiting ourselves to only one category, and while I feel that this blog itself still does primarily fall into the basic categorization of "Travel & Lifestyle", I want to write more and more about my life, more so as things come to mind, rather than try to fit into the box of what a "Travel & Lifestyle Blogger" should be.
When most people think about blogging, especially travel & lifestyle blogging, minds, including my own seem to navigate toward the social media aspect of it all. Write based on "selling points."
The problem is, I'm not trying to sell you anything. I'm trying to encourage you to take risks. I'm trying to encourage you to look at your life, and make changes, big or small, that could lead you in a direction that could ultimately change your life, and in exchange bring you more joy.
Traveling has changed so many things in my life, and I most definitely don't live what would be considered a socially standard lifestyle, but I still think, and feel, just like everyone else does.
The purpose of writing about the unorthodox changes and the leadings up to, are to explain exactly how my attempt at acheiving the "American Dream", the life that society expects of us all, had drowned me. I can't imagine all of the people out there and the numerous struggles that are dealt to them everyday. How are people surviving, if that is even what we can call it at this point?
Are we surviving? Or are we merely cogs in the machine, just running our course?
While I was trying to obtain the "ideal" of finding a stable job, making good money, buying the car, buying the house, getting married, I was putting such immense pressure on myself in order to obtain all of the societal standards of success. I was reaching these pillars at the exchange of my physical and mental health.
The societal standards have become nearly unobtainable, almost unrealistic. Not impossible, but certainly not as common an acheivement as our ancestors before us.
I was living my life on autopilot, which in my opinion isn't living at all, more of an attempt at survival. I would return to work like the machine I was and lay on the floor of my living room staring up at the empty ceiling, wondering...if there is a higher power, this couldn't possibly be how they meant for us to live.
I have been through some pretty horrendous things in my life. I nearly lost my Father in a nearly fatal car accident when I was 14, I not only watched him through the pain and suffering that he endured, but watched him through his losses. From a young age my Father worked his way through life building everything that he had, through each accomplishment, for it to all come crumbling down at the hands of a young woman who shouldn't have been driving while hysterical, and in an uninsured vehicle. I watched my Father lose everything he worked so hard to provide his family, our home, our hobbies...his entire reality changed in a second as he sat broken in the hospital for months.
At 25, I was brutally strangled and sexually assaulted by my boyfriend of two years, I watched as the drugs and the alcohol that he was hiding consumed him. I attended numerous therapy sessions, and
was lucky enough to remove myself from the relationship and living situation when I decided to purchase my first home instead of continuing to rent. Shortly after, I met the most positive, and most loving human that I've ever met, just when I decided to start my personal journey of recovery from my trauma. While I am thankful for the love and support that I was lucky enough to embrace during such a hard time in my life...like many others, when the pandemic hit in 2020, none of us could have possibly known the impact it was going to make on so many.
The pandemic had hit, my parents had moved 1200 miles away, my brother, my friends, all of them had moved away, and my husband, was gone 48 or more weeks out of the year. For those of you who have been following along, you can recall that this left us with approximately six weeks together a year, and many of those weeks, I continued working because I only received about 1/3 of that time off per year.
I was in a really bad state. As I said previously, I was living on autopilot, and while I was trying to do everything that I could to take care of myself; Be present and efficient at my job, tend to my home, tend to my marriage, to my friendships, to my plants and my animals. I knew that on my own, I could not sustainably do every one of these detrimental tasks.
I misprioritized. I sacraficed my mental and physical health in order to remain efficient in my work. I would immediately drive home and tend to my plants and my animals because "they needed me." I did the bare minimum of feeding myself and then cleaning up from dinner, before struggling into bed. Having no family or friends nearby made it easy to isolate myself because I didn't have anymore energy to give to myself, how was I going to give anything to anyone else? I tried my hardest to give the last of what I had each day to my marriage, but my husband saw how I was falling apart, and urged me to quit my job.
I refused, I didn't want to accept failure, I didn't want to lose my independence.
It took a little over a year, I began lashing out at work due to the burnout, and though my manager and I tried putting together a business case, ran the data, and proved that my workload was the equivalent to 2.5 employees of the same title in a different region, there was no hope in sight for relief.
I tried to find relief elsewhere. I stopped cooking. I tried a meal service for a short time, but when that didn't eliminate the stress, then dishes went without getting done. Each responsibility that I had let go in order to give what energy I had to my income, led to another. I began showering only every three days, and sometimes four if the energy from the day had already been depleted. It was only when I was driving to work one morning, and I found myself wondering if it would just be easier if I swerved into oncoming traffic, did I realize that I needed to go back to therapy.
I had a job.
I had a car.
I owned a home.
I had a loving and adoring husband who was trying to help me.
I had all of the things that society says I should be happy to have...
None of these things matter, unless you're taking care of yourself.
You can have an incredible job, but neglect yourself long enough, and you'll learn to hate it.
You can buy a car you love, but if you don't take care of yourself you'll find yourself willing to sacrifice that car with you in it.
You can own a home, but that home means nothing if you have no energy to maintain it, or the relationships with those you would share it with.
You can be married, and have the biggest supporter in your corner, but if you aren't there for yourself, you have nothing, and leave your partner alone in your marriage.
I made my change, starting by acknowledging what was wrong.
Define the Problem:
My physical and mental health has severely declined.
Clarify the Problem:
I haven't had time to care for myself while maintaining other obligations.
Define the Goal:
To improve my physical and mental health.
Identify Root Cause:
The Pandemic has caused a rise in professional responsibility, I have recently lost all in person support, My commute takes up needed time out of my day, the economic shift has made it increasingly harder to sustain our current lifestyle.
Develop/Execute Action Plan:
Get a storage unit.
Resign from Job.
Pay off all debts using home sale profits.
Travel full time with Chris.
Focus on mental and physical health.
Choosing to uproot my life, sell my home, and live on the road with my husband is not a life that many could choose happily, but it has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I would choose this again and again, if asked to do it over.
We have to make choices to adapt, change, and thrive or stay stagnant and surely fail.
The most important gift we are given in our lives is our mental and physical health.
If you were to look at your life in its current state, could you say that your health and your happiness is sustainably thriving?
I believe that most of us can be honest with ourselves and think of ways that we could be doing better.
This doesn't mean that we need to make every single one of those changes at once and right now, but we should always be looking for ways to better ourselves, even in simple steps.
After experiencing burnout in the way that I did, and deciding that the only way to make it though was to start with some big changes. I went from having no time, to having nothing but time.
There were no more excuses.
I started small.
I started with rest. I would sleep until my body told me that it was done, and sometimes I'd even include a nap mid-day, if that is what my body needed.
I now had time to make myself breakfast, so every morning, I would make myself breakfast.
I spent the first couple of weeks navigating productivity versus lack of energy.
Some days I would do nothing but watch TV, which would turn into napping. Sometimes instead of TV I would try reading, or coloring in one of my adult coloring books.
I started showering every other day.
I started a new skin care routine.
I made the doctors appointments.
I did the research.
I took the medications, and then had the discussions with my doctors about what did and didn't work for me.
I started a vitamin/supplement routine.
I started planning healthy meals based on my health problems.
None of these changes happened over night, and it absolutely was a transition, but I didn't give up. I fell off, I started over...because I never want to feel the way I did, ever again.
It has been a little over a year since I started making changes, and I won't sit here and tell you that I'm healed, but I can tell you that every single day, I've done a little bit better than the last. I can tell you that I'm happier, that my physical health is on an uprise, my mental health is better than I could have imagined when I was at my lowest point, starting my journey. I've had time to reevaluate the relationships in my life that serve me and that strain me, and to let go accordingly. I've had time to be a wife, and my husband and I are living a life we could only have dreamed about when we started planning a life together.
So, Be strong, make sacrafices, make changes, or you may find you'll lose yourself too.
And if you find that losing yourself isn't motivation enough to make those changes, then do it for the people around you, whether you know them or not. You decide how you will make an impact, will it be positive and instill change, no matter how small? Even if your accomplishment is that you showered today, or that you made your bed this morning. Will you make the change? Or will you let yourself wither away leaving nothing but negativity in your path?