After weeks of being able to control the amount of stressors I was exposed to this is where it gets interesting. The next few weeks will be the first time that I will be exposed to some real and major stressors for the first time since I went to the hospital.
Next week, we will load Brett up and move him back to college. He and I have found him a one bedroom apartment off campus. After the Navy, he wasn’t much up for double occupancy rooms and shared bathrooms. Very much like me, Brett has to get away when the day is over and decompress. Also like me, he can do anything for as long as needed, as long as we can slip away and get to a quieter spot. He was sold as soon as we walked through the apartment.
But also like me, Brett is bipolar. Like me, he has had a major depressive episode that landed him the hospital, him spending 22 days there in inpatient treatment in late 2017. Like me, the need to get away can turn to isolating yourself which can feed into depression. As a dad, it scares me. Has he learned his triggers and warning signs? Will he have an organization, group of friends, or someone that understands him when he feels the need to open up and talk?
At least this time, he is less than 2 hours away. We can get to him, he can get to us. He can stay with his carefully chosen psychiatrist and therapist as he can easily get back for appointments. His younger brother is already eyeballing weekends in Athens!
But what I am most scared of is Brett leaving me. He is my constant sounding board. He is there to step in when he sees me struggling and he knows what to say. Brett and I are a sounding board for each other because we speak so much of the same language. We love to talk, to debate, to argue about anything. I am going to have to work extremely hard not to isolate myself, having grown used to having my late night hang out partner. After being home since March, it is going to be an adjustment all over again.
What I will have to find a way to do now is to explain to Melissa and Colby how and what I am feeling or if something is bothering me. I have to be patient while they learn the language. At least at this point, after 25 years together, Melissa can read me like a book. Like a barometer, she senses the change in pressures. She knows the ins and outs of my quirks and reactions. It won’t take Colby long go learn the same. He is another one that he and I have our very own language. Colby and I can have complete conversations from 30 yards away with nothing but hand gestures and eye movement. It amazes everyone around us when he is on the field in football.
That is the easy change. The other big change that is coming for me is a job change. A couple of weeks ago, I let my company know that I would not be returning after my leave of absence. Melissa and I have discussed it and I will most likely be taking a little more time off. Now, if the right opportunity were to come along, and I mean the perfect one, mentally and physically I am ready to return right now. However, I will, however, enjoy the brief pause until I do.
I would like to say this was a difficult decision for me, but it wasn’t. Originally, I had planned on going back and even had a date set for my return. I met with the ownership of the company I was working for and discussed my return. As I left the office, not even out of the driveway yet, my anxiety skyrocketed. After tossing and turning all night that night, I discussed this with my therapist and psychiatrist the next day (I was still in the Partial Hospitalization Program at that time) and both agreed that it wasn’t yet time for me to return and asked me to push that off for a minimum of 2 weeks. I left the facility that day and what I didn’t notice until later that night was that my anxiety was back down and I hadn’t felt it that entire afternoon. That was when I knew that a change had to be made.
What’s next? Well, I don’t really know at this point. The day after I let the office know I wasn’t returning, I posted kind of a farewell letter to customers and friends I am connected with on Linked In that I was leaving. By that afternoon, I had received 3 phone calls and 2 emails from perspective employers. I had 3 full phone interviews the following day and the others with plans to touch base after the 1st of the year.
I am going to look for the best fit for me. This search will be about finding right people to work for, work with and work around. I want to be in a place where my abilities are celebrated and appreciated, where I am looked to for ideas and guidance, and counted on as a valued part of a team. I miss traveling across the country instead of a dedicated territory over and over. I love to go places and solve complex problems. I have to get back to a role where I am mentoring, coaching, leading and inspiring again.
So I will evaluate this job change decision the same as with all portions of my life right now it doesn’t matter if it is my career, my hobbies, or my personal activities. Each aspect of my life and the relationships in it is having to be filter through the same prism:
1. Is it good for me?
2. Does it add to the value of my or my family’s life?
3. Does it compromise my mental health in any way?
If the answer to any of those is no, then it is time to decide if that item will have a place in my future. I have already cut off several toxic relationships, gotten away from things that I simply didn’t enjoy any more and closed the circle of friends tighter than ever. I have gotten myself away from situations where someone is only interested in what I can do for them.
One of the questions that I have repeatedly gotten from people who have read my blog is am I worried about me being so open with my struggles and what I write in my blog impacting a new job. Quite simply, the answer is no. I don’t want to be anywhere working for any person that would let that make a hiring decision. So many companies are starting to understand mental health and self care that I am quite confident I will find a place where I belong.
My favorite part, my very favorite part, of all of this, from the change in my entire outlook is that none of it is happening today. While I will prepare for what comes next, I will not worry about it. I am going to stay right here in the moment. Comfortable in the knowledge that past can’t be changed, the future can’t be controlled and that I am able to stay in the moment.
Remember to love yourself first & always,