Friday, November 27, 2009

Change :)

So much!

1) I learned that I have sleep apnea. This was severely disrupting my sleep (without me being aware of it), making my heart work hard when it should be resting, and reducing oxygen flow to my brain during night-time. While that might sound like a scary diagnosis, I was actually immensely relieved to know that there was a reason--a treatable reason--why I felt so tired all the time. There were numbers. It wasn't all in my head. And goodness gracious as if I weren't already a ridiculously lucky person, my hospital GAVE me a CPAP machine, which treats sleep apnea. My insurance plan didn't cover one (even though I have pretty comprehensive insurance and this is a necessary treatment); the doctor asked me if I had money to buy one and I (truthfully) answered that I don't. Apparently they had a slightly used machine that had been donated to their sleep department, so they gave it to me. They GAVE it to me. They also gave me the mask and tube that go with it. What a beautiful moment; I walk into a hospital with a problem, and I am given the necessary treatment regardless of my ability to pay, for free because I am unable to pay. Goodness do we need socialized medicine--this should be available to every patient, every time, not just as a random, incredibly lucky fluke.

Anyway, the machine is making a difference. I still have a lot of sleep to catch up on, but I can feel the difference. I have more energy; when I wake up in the morning I don't feel wretchedly tired. I'm becoming more awake and alive. So wonderful. I am so grateful. :) I walk more. I offer to help out people with things more. Turns out I wasn't just being lazy; getting good sleep actually makes a very tangible difference in what I am able to make myself do, as well as in what I am able to enjoy.

2) Major life plan/career/goal change!

So I was on the path to education--took the GRE, getting ready to do my grad school applications for schools of education. On a whim I had signed up for this day-long meditation retreat at the East Bay Meditation Center on finding one's purpose in life/following one's dreams. I went, not necessarily expecting much; but I nonetheless participated sincerely. And I found myself doing exercises and getting feedback ("I noticed your face really lit up when you mentioned music.") that started to let me re-open the question of what I want to do; this process was aided by the open/safe feeling the workshop created. I didn't leave the day with a new plan in mind, but I had knocked a little chink in the armor that was protecting my current plan of going into education. (Armor that was necessary to protect me against my deep fears of what would happen if I changed my mind and found myself once again directionless and, a truly terrifying prospect, hopeless.) What this workshop gave me was courage to ask questions.

So when I next went to therapy, I broached the subject by way of mentioning the recurring bad dreams I have about teaching, where serious things go wrong in my classroom and I feel horrible about myself as a teacher. My therapist asked, "Do you want to teach?" Such an obvious question, yet I had managed to not ask myself that in all this time. I hemmed and hawed about how I would care a lot about my students and there can be some good things about teaching, or how it was only a means to an end (working in the field of education eventually not as a teacher, for example, on curriculum development). But even though I was terrified to say it out loud, I knew the real answer to his question: No, I don't want to teach. We floated the idea of applying to both education and academic (such as history) programs, to give me more time to explore what felt right.

As I stepped out of my therapist's office, a little bubble of a thought hit me. Could I become a therapist? A few months earlier, a friend who I was helping through tough times said to me, "You're really good at this. You should consider becoming a professional therapist." For a moment I was delighted at his suggestion, but I quickly dismissed it with fears such as, would I want to do professional work that hit so close to home, seeing as how I do so much mental health work on myself, in my own life, and with my friends? I squashed the idea then and there.

But now I thought again about becoming a therapist. My earlier fears seemed much less significant; the draw of the profession seemed much more real. I stored this idea for a week or so and then brought it up in therapy. (haha, is it intimidating telling a therapist you might want to become a therapist? yes!) To my enormous relief, my therapist was supportive, as were my friends; within a week I had realized that I was not going to choose to go to a school of education no matter how long I left the option open; I decided to just apply for programs to become a therapist.

I feel good. My therapist asked me what it feels like when I think about becoming a therapist; and I felt it: peaceful. Relieved. I don't have to spend the rest of my life trying to act out a job that doesn't truly fit who I am; as a therapist, there will of course be professional boundaries, but at root, I will get to be myself. I will get to work closely with people, getting to know them well, supporting their healing and growth, sharing and--I'm sure--gaining wisdom. What more could I want? All my life, what's brought me alive has been love of people. Suddenly I feel like...I feel lighter, because I have figured out a way to do what I love. It is just such a relief.

I am still very passionate about education. I am still very passionate about music. I plan on staying involved with both throughout my life; perhaps even at a later point in life I will want to teach again. But at this beautiful moment in time, therapy is what sits right with my soul; it is what feels natural to me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've been having a really interesting (lovely) experience lately. An experience that, along with some changes in my life, makes me think that I'm actually...turning a corner on my depression. I am not only being told by my best friends that they see progress; I Feel progress.

I feel good sometimes. Warm and happy -type good. And I've realized that every time I feel this (which has been like, several times in the last few weeks--which is--a LOT for me) that my mind says, "I feel like Christmas." It seems that the (most) consistent reference point in my life for feeling warm and happy has been Christmas. I honestly didn't know a person could feel like Christmas at other points of the year--much less several times within a few weeks, almost a .... kinda regular occurrence. ???? hahaha

I've been unhappy a long time.

Christmas--feeling happy, warm, hopeful, loved--is one reference point that I keep bumping into. Another is my memory of this one evening during the fall of my freshman year of high school--I was in the high school marching band--our house was near the stadium where our football games were played--and I remember walking to the game (we always performed at home games) in the cool fall air, the maple leaves turning, proudly wearing my band uniform...and I felt excited about life. About the possibilities of a new social world provided by high school and band. About possibilities period. I never felt quite that feeling again in high school-nor in college-after that fall. But this fall...the air is reminding me of that hope....that excitement, perhaps even reminding me as well of younger childhood memories of being excited for my (October) birthday, Halloween, the approach of the holiday season.

Tonight, I feel loved. I feel loved and cared for in a way that I trust. It makes me feel safe. It feels like relief and gratitude and Christmas mixed into one.

Thank you to all the beautiful people in my life who give me so much love and care and support.

More soon :)