I’m sure I’m like most people in thinking this past year has been emotionally HARD. When 2021 hit I legit got teary eyed. This was going to be the YEAR…. the year with a new President, a new plan for the pandemic and most importantly for myself a new ME! One of my besties and I made 21 goals for 2021. It was a well intentioned beginning…
That beginning lasted for quite a few weeks. I was able to keep up with my eating habits, spending habits and organizing my house. It was exactly the cliche’ New Year New You! Then mid-January hit and the beginning of February and honestly I was losing my steam. My steam for everything; my eating habits, spending habits and to hell with the organization of my house…. my house was holding on for its dear dust-infested life. I would message regularly with some goal progress but it was all lost. It was at this point I knew once again I needed help… like professional help.
This wasn’t the first time I sought help from a therapist during COVID. When quarantine first happened I used my telehealth network through my employer and found a therapist. This therapist was great with practical advice and helping me get through the fog. He gave me good tips for shopping at the grocery store (we know how anxious I get there) and different ways of understanding anxiety and the body. He was good… real good…. until…we got to talking about religion
I told him I wasn’t very religious but I prayed everyday. I just wasn’t sure who I was praying to but believe in a higher power. Then he said “Cmon you know who you’re praying to. I mean like you know deep down inside.”
My people pleasing side came out and I reluctantly agreed. Just to end the conversation.
However, I felt so uncomfortable that I stopped going to him.
*FUN FACT* though about that therapist, a couple months after ending our sessions my daughter and I were watching a documentary about Ted Bundy and guess who was on it?!?! MY PREACHY THERAPIST!!
Okay, so the beginning of February I was feeling especially drained. I just couldn’t get the go get em’ attitude to do anything. One of my goals for 2021 is to defeat Super Mario Bros 3 with my daughter, we were still stuck on World 5. We hadn’t even tried. That was the pattern for all my goals at that point. Also, my last dating experience made me start to question my gut for dating. I feel like I’ve been doing what I think is right for so long and am still single. Could I be wrong?
So I had heard of betterhelp.com from a podcast that I listen to regularly. I was trying to avoid the previous telehealth option because I was afraid my previous therapist would see I was signing up with someone else (did I mention that I’m a people pleaser?!?). I also struggled with finding a therapist with my availability. So I signed up for the new website and was matched with a therapist that met all my needs.
Our first session was short but very insightful. She had to tell me to breathe at several points as I began to tell her about my life and all the stresses of my everyday. I was holding back feelings and was at a breaking point. That’s what I do. I keep smiling, smiling, smiling, until I start to tear up and I’m done. I kept telling her all the ways I was failing and overwhelmed. This was also in the middle of a particular ant infestation in my kitchen that made me feel like even a bigger failure. You guys all know how I am with bugs and this brought back a lot of insecurities.
She encouraged me to start taking intentional time for myself, stop internalizing the ant thing (that can happen to anyone) and to write in my online journal. What I do enjoy about this specific app is that you can message your therapist at anytime and write in a journal that they can read and reply off of.
That first night after my appointment was a standard journal entry…
Spent the evening taking a long hot shower with karaoke. My favorite. I had planned on writing but just am so tired. Instead sleeping early.
Ants are a lot less but still heading to the trap. I have to remind myself that them all swarming is a sign it’s working and that there is nothing else I can do. Can’t wait until tomorrow morning to see how it goes! Fingers crossed!
The next night I didn’t write, because the next night became a pivotal night in mine and my family’s life. The next night my mom and my sister went to the Emergency Room. She had been complaining of a pain in her side for awhile. It made her grimace with most things that she did and she had maxed out on Ibuprofen and Tylenol. My sister sent me a text picture of Mom on the bed. We were glad she finally got it looked at. Then came another text about 15 minutes later.
“Jill you need to get here, it’s not good”
As I’m driving 80mph down the highway, my mom and sister are told by the radiologist that she sees multiple spots on her lungs and ribs. This wasn’t a pulled muscle, it was very very likely Lung Cancer.
The next few weeks were blurs… literally blurs. I have NO IDEA how people do this on their own. My sister and I were tag teaming all the way through and it was still overwhelming. I went through all sorts of emotions and telling the people around me was getting harder and harder. This was a necessity, I wasn’t even close to my best and I needed them to know so I didn’t add disappointment of my friends to my list of things (of course everyone I told was amazing ♥). The logistics of four different doctors who all want appointments NOW, family dynamics of everyone in shock/panic, AND more bad news after more bad news was a little much. Sitting across from different doctors giving us one more assurance that what she has is cancer…Stage 4 Lung Cancer.
I was already feeling overwhelmed before the diagnosis and now it was robot mode mixed with hard crying and anger (yes anger). But most of the time robot mode. At one point during a session, my therapist said “You seem emotionless” and I replied “I’m just tired…really tired” I just couldn’t process. How can you even begin to process when you’re in the middle of an emotional / logistical tornado about someone you love that impacts the people you love the most?
I still don’t know that I have fully processed it. I’m a work in progress.
My therapist provided me different ways of thinking through things, a nonjudgmental listening ear and just some practical advice around helping those around me. She especially encouraged me to stay in the moment. Not to get lost in the future. She even called me out when I didn’t notice that was what I was doing. She said it’s my coping mechanism to not have to feel the emotions of the moment. She was right.
I walked away from that session with a little lightbulb above my head. As I kept thinking about what she said I had a big lightbulb. It was one of the moments, that I realized, while this situation was huge, this lesson applied to a lot of things in my life. Even my dating life. I had heard this before when thinking about my vulnerability, but this was a practical application to when I wasn’t allowing myself to be vulnerable. This is a continued lesson in my life… yes I’m a work in progress.
Late last week, we did get a promising treatment plan that will have less side effects than chemotherapy and has been shown successful in adding time. We were all so grateful! I was in the moment and felt warmth in my soul.
For now I’m just holding on to the new hope and promise of the present…. with my family… and in dating.
Oh and the ants are gone… 🙂
This was not an ad by any means for the better help website BUT if you do want to look into it – use this link – you and I both get a free week ♥