A Journey to Find Balance

I originally started this blog to document my journey in getting back to nature. I wanted to try a holistic approach to my health… but I fell off the wagon. Stress and anxiety took over. I needed to discover what went wrong? Where did my issues start? And then it came to me…

I had one or two migraines when I was a teenager, but nothing could prepare me for 2005.  That’s when it all started. I had left my job as Front End Manager at Winn-Dixie for a job with steady hours and benefits at a local Credit Union… and I hated every second there. The management was constantly down my throat about every little thing, I did mine plus other’s jobs, and we weren’t allowed to sit… ever. We had to stand on the concrete from 7:30 in the morning till 5:30 in the afternoon, all while wearing heels. We were required to wear heels, even if they were small, they had to have some kind of heel to them. I never understood this. The counters were higher than our navels, so no customers could see what kind of shoes we wore, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t care either. We did, however, finally convince our boss to allow us to have chairs; but that only lasted until he transferred. Then the head teller, who despised me, decided that the chairs didn’t look professional – I’d like to add that she sat in an office all day.

This is when my migraines started. I thought maybe they were from standing on the concrete all day with heels, or the stress of having to deal with a horrible work environment with bosses that were rude and customers who were even worse. I had to call in several days while working here due to simply not being able to function. I even had to leave work one day because I completely lost vision in my right eye from a migraine aura. The migraines quickly turned into neck/shoulder and back pain, so, I decided to go see a specialist.

The day before I went to the back/spine specialists I was optimistic about finding something out. I had to do my job plus two others at work that day due to their absence. I put my money drawer in the vault, tossed my keys on the counter while I finished filing the days paperwork, and finally went home, eager and hopeful to find out what was causing my pain.

My hope was short-lived. When I arrived at the doctor, he refused to see me because I didn’t bring any previous x-rays or images with me – something that I wasn’t told to do. So, I returned to work the next day, only to be greeted with silence from everyone. No one said a word to me until the manager called me into her office and told me that I had left my keys in my drawer. Even though I could have sworn that I had locked my drawer and placed my keys in my purse, I had no way to dispute it. I racked my brain trying to figure out how I could have left my drawer out if I had done the paperwork and I knew I remembered tossing my keys on the counter beside my purse, but there was nothing I could say that could convince them because they had my keys and they had been looking for a way to get rid of me for a while.

I had worked this job for over a year. This was the first time I had done anything wrong that required any kind of disciplinary action. I had never been written up, not for lack of the head teller trying to find fault in everything I did. However, they fired me on the spot. I was so frustrated and angry that tears began to sting my eyes. Only one lady hugged me as I walked out the door. She told me she was sorry and that she didn’t think it was right. I thanked her and left.

I went home, climbed in the shower, and cried. I was only 21 and had only been married a year. The stress of dealing with my migraines/pain and loosing my job were simply overwhelming. To top things off, my insurance was terminated that day, so my hopes of ever getting relief from my migraines and pain went down the drain along with my tears.

The next morning my Mom came over and we looked through the classified ads. I couldn’t find a single thing that didn’t scream “don’t do it!”  Luckily, my husband and I didn’t have so many expenses that his income couldn’t cover us, so I took my time looking for a job.

After a couple of months a Teacher’s Aide job opened up at my local school. I applied and thanks to having computer skills and an Aunt that worked there, I was able to get the job. The benefits were great and who doesn’t love summers off?!

I ran the office at the K-2 Annex and volunteered as the Theater director. Despite the fact that the teachers were cliquey and I didn’t fit in any of there cliques, I enjoyed my job. Even though the stress of my volunteer work of writing, directing, creating all the wardrobe and scenery, and manning the sound/lights for the multiple plays I put on; my migraines, for the most part had diminished. I would only get one or two a month, and sometimes it was every other month. I was happy. It thrilled my heart and soul to watch those kids perform and have fun.

I had been at the school job for a little over a year when my husband and I decided to buy our first house. It was close to the school and we were familiar with the people who owned it. We spent more than we should on the house, but we knew we could recoup it with both our incomes.

After two years in our new house, we decided we would try to have a child. We didn’t have to try long. After being off birth control for a month, I discovered I was pregnant. We decided to wait a bit before telling anyone. One morning I woke up in severe pain and was bleeding. Deep down I knew what it was, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t really grasp it. I was hurting so bad that I couldn’t even contemplate calling anyone in to sub for me that day. I called the office and told the secretary that I wouldn’t be in. She sounded irritated, but I didn’t care.

After dealing with debilitating cramping and bleeding a few hours, I called my husband and told him to come home and take me to the ER. Upon arriving at the ER, we discovered that I had miscarried.  The doctor was extremely nice and told me that it was not my fault and there was nothing I did wrong. He told me that my body was essentially cleaning itself and I wouldn’t need a D&C. I thanked him, and told him that I understood. Though, heartbroken, I knew it wasn’t meant to be.

Two months later I discovered I was pregnant again. This time I had no problems and my little bun grew happy and healthily. My growing belly gave new light to my back, neck, and shoulder issues. I had a few migraines but was able to take a Lortab and relax until it diminished. I did not want to take too much for fear of harming my little bun.

The end of the school year rolled around. It was the last week and I received a letter in the mail about COBRA coverage for my insurance due to my termination. I went in to talk with the Principal  and he stated that he was “not supposed to tell me till the last day”. Anger once again rose up within me. Apparently they were doing away with my job and I was not to be told until the last day of work. They didn’t want me taking my vacation days.  This was decided the previous month at the board meeting. Every single teacher at the school knew of it, and not a single one said anything to me.

I, of course, did what any scorned worker would do and took my vacation days. I tried not to stress, but it was really hard not too when you are seven months pregnant and discover that you no longer have a job. The last day of school came and I left without saying a word to anyone.

Due to loosing my income, we could no longer afford our house. We tried to work with Bank of America, but they refused. So, we ended up giving the house back to them.

When my son was three, I got a job with a friend of ours. I was to be the manager for their accounts. This meant I had to go out and try to get work for them and make sure all of the customers were happy.

Turns out, this job was to be equal to or worse than my job at the credit union. The customers were beyond rude, I was demeaned, and belittled. My supposed friend always talked down to me and never backed me up when there was an issue. When he and the other guys I was in charge of screwed up a job, I was blamed for it. Whenever I asked management for assistance with an issue, I was brushed aside and told to deal with it. After six months of migraines, popping any kind of pain-killer I could to just get through the day, going in early and getting off late due to trying to fix screw ups I had had enough. I planned to work till the summer and find other employment.

As usual, my plans never go as they are supposed too. The district manager came down one day and took the guys to lunch, I was left out. Upon returning, he asked to speak with me and told me that the general manager didn’t think we needed an account manager anymore and that my position was being terminated. The guys were to handle everything on their own.

I smiled, handed him my computer, laptop, any paperwork I had, and left. I cried on the way home because I had lost yet another job and nothing makes you feel more worthless than becoming unemployed without it being your own free will; but I smiled because I hated that job. I hated the stress and the migraines. I hated the way everyone looked down on me because I was a woman in a male-dominated work environment. I hated that I was expected to use my ‘charm’ to get new customers.

So here I am, twelve years after my adult life of hellish jobs started. I finally found a job that suits me. I work in an office. I am the only one in the office. I do everything on computer. I RARELY have to deal with the public, and my bosses aren’t jerks. I’ve been at this job for three years now. I took my aunt’s, who worked here for 25+ years, job when she retired. The owner wanted to update and start moving everything to computers, which is right up my ally.

Sure, some days are stressful, but it is a blessing to work here. Years of dead-end jobs, and dealing with hateful bosses is over. I plan to stay here and retire as my aunt did. I still have the occasional rude customer to deal with, but unfortunately that’s just life. There are hateful people out there and you cannot avoid them.

The cost of staying at those jobs that I hated, stressed over, and quite frankly ruined my brain is just now sinking in. I have frequent migraines, constant pain in my shoulder/neck, and my anxiety disorder multiplied.

It’s going to take some time to reverse the effects of those jobs, but I’m going to do it and I plan to document it. I wrote this because if I can help someone else run away from a bad job, it was worth it. Don’t let your job ruin your life. I know we have to have money in order to survive, but I beg you, look at every possible option. I had the option to leave those jobs, but I couldn’t make myself do it.

My way of looking at it is that God closed those doors for me so that He could show me a better one. You may not believe in God. That’s fine. Just know that there is something better out there for you. Don’t settle.

My first step to managing my chronic shoulder/neck pain and migraines was to find the cause… and now I have. Of course, life in general is stressful, but seeing the pattern of my ups and downs and how each job effected my life, showed me where to start. I have to learn to HEALTHILY manage my stress and anxieties. I have to stop worrying what others think of me. I have to brush off the pointless stuff, the things that I simply cannot change, or that aren’t worthy of stressing over. I start today. I’m tired of taking Adderall, Xanex, and Imitrex, just to name a few.

I have a great job. I have no need to stress over it. My life is great; I may live in a run-down mobile home, but it keeps my family sheltered. I will get a nice, safe house again some day, but for now I need to focus on me. I won’t rush into another house payment just to say that I have a house. I want something that can make my entire family happy. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I need to be happy, healthy, and sane for my son.

I have a chiropractor visit this Friday, I’ve ordered a personal aromatherapy inhaler, I’ve ordered some special vitamins, I’m going to start meditating… I’m going to get myself back in balance and I’ll document every triumph and fail, every product that works or is a complete bust. The only way we discover what works is to try.

I’m going to embrace everything about me. I’m a geek, a nerd, a believer in the impossible. I don’t always eat healthy, and I don’t exercise enough… I plan too though. My mood can swing faster and harder than an MLB player. I’m certainly not perfect. I am and forever will be, uniquely me, and I intend on finding my unique balance.

Feel free to let me know how you manage your stress and pain. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Stay Frosty!

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