As the plane drove upwards gravity pushed my back against the seat and I amusedly thought to myself, “My body will finally be as high as my anxiety has been the last two weeks…” It was a random thought, yet more random was the feeling of tranquility that washed over me the higher the plane rose in the sky. As though merging the height of my body with the metaphorical height of my anxiety actually made some kind of difference in how I felt. I was grateful nonetheless.
I learned a lot about myself in the past two weeks. I am stronger than I give myself credit for, even in the moments I feel weak. When anxiety strikes I no longer zip from 1 to 10 – FULL PANIC MODE (ok, sometimes I still do)!!! I am generally able to utilize learned coping skills and recognize when I need to use them. I don’t realize I am doing these things until I have time to look back and reflect on how I reacted to certain situations. I have wonderful support from friends and family during these times as well, I most definitely can’t take all of the credit. However, it is extremely gratifying to see my progress and know that I am getting better.
I had the opportunity to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Reconnecting is always so sweet and also bittersweet. I had a fabulous time seeing things I remembered and people I remembered and making new memories! Alas, these things also come to an end, wherein lies the bittersweet. I spoke about this in A Drive Down Memory Lane so I won’t go into too much detail, I’m sure you’ve all been there. Everyone says ‘goodbye’ at one time or another and sometimes you simply don’t know how long it will be until the next ‘hello’. The bitter never overwhelms the sweet, though.
I made a difference and forged a new friendship with my friend’s grandmother, whom I cared for in the absence of my friend’s family. I have experience in home health care, so when my friend’s brother got married in Italy her family asked me to care for their grandmother because she could not travel so far. There are challenges in learning a person’s routine, especially when they are diabetic and at a higher risk for falling. There is a transition period in getting to know someone you are caring for, personality idiosyncrasies and such. It is difficult for many elderly persons who are coming to terms with needing help to carry out daily activities of living, things you and I take for granted; such as dressing ourselves, showering without assistance, preparing our own meals, etcetera. They feel a loss of dignity, in my experience, and understandably. Knowing I was able to help my friend’s grandmother with these needs in a way that did not feel overbearing or unwanted is heartwarming. My friend and her family were very thankful, but when my friend’s grandmother expressed her sentiments of gratitude – that’s what brought me to tears.
As cliché as it is, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Due to caring for my friend’s grandmother I was away from home for two weeks and separated from my husband for one of those weeks. It was nice being away from home at first, but two weeks is a long time! Trying to settle into new surroundings, at times, peaked my anxiety. I woke with a tangled knot of nervous energy every morning that liked to sit in the pit of my stomach most of the day, every day. I had to set up a station with my computer and notepad, and I would turn on the television for background noise. It’s important to be aware of little things that bring comfort, things that help ease those tangles so they can start unwinding themselves. Medication plays a role as well, I can’t deny that aspect of my mental health stability. Once my husband was gone, talking to him on the phone and via text messaging played an important role. He has this way of knowing what to say when I’m discombobulated, even though I know it’s hard on him as well. Of course, seeing each other at the end of that week was an enormous relief!! The little things so easily taken for granted are appreciated that much more. And while there is always stress at home, I am once again surrounded by all of the things that make me utterly comfortable and more thankful for them than I was two weeks ago.
Being that today is June 19th, I would be remiss in not mentioning how very grateful I am to have the incredibly loving and wonderful father that I have. I am, without shame, a Daddy’s girl.
I’m sure many of us look back upon our youth and wonder how our parents survived us, but I continue to wonder how mine survive me – due to my ongoing mental health struggles. Never once has my father faltered in his overwhelming support of me, no matter what that has cost him. I have called him at my worst, begging for the pain to stop, telling him I can no longer go on – which I imagine is a parent’s worst nightmare. I have tremendous guilt concerning all that I’ve put my parents through. My dad bears the full brunt of it now that he’s retired and is the one who’s home to answer the phone. However, he is also there to celebrate each and every victory, he reminds me of all that I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come. I could never express the amount of love and admiration I hold for this man, though I wish I possessed the knowledge of all languages in the world so that I could attempt it. For today, however, I will simply say – Thank you, Daddy, I love you to the moon and back! Happy Father’s Day!!!
Are you an anxious flyer or do you like traveling? Do you know what it’s like to care for someone elderly? What are you grateful for?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!!