Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ten Moments That Changed My Life...

So far...and yes, I totally stole the title.

1. My child was born.

Every parent's going to say that, right? 
Because it's true. There's a clear before and after line in my life - the moment Chelsea was born, and I looked at the beautiful screaming baby in my arms, and said, "Hi." (Profound, wasn't I?)

2. I received the gift of life.

I had been checked into the hospital for emergency surgery, but they couldn't do the surgery until I received blood. 

I was so sick. I remember looking at that blood coming into me and feeling so grateful to whomever had taken time out of their busy life to donate. 

I've donated blood before; but it's a completely different thing to receive it. It's  life, and it's a gift. 

3. I entered the psychiatric hospital (aka The Place).

It was a humbling thing, admitting I needed help. After that, the hits kept coming. A physical, endless interviews, and I had to give up my distractions - no cellphone, e-reader or laptop while I was in there. 

My first days were spent staring at walls, and I wasn't alone. Other 'psych' patients were with me, along with alcoholics and drug addicts. We all stared at the walls, and slept a lot. 

This was my first step in facing my depression instead of hiding from it; in realizing that help was available; in realizing that I wasn't alone. 

4. I got laid off from Ford.

The Ford Experience Of 1998 changed the course of my life. I think. When I got hired there, I was prepared to work the most mind-numbingly boring assembly line job for the rest of my life. 

I was laid off within five weeks; devastated, but secretly relieved. I got hired back at my old company, but in a much better job. I also went back to school and finished my degree two years later, and got my current job a year after that. 

You just never know what's a blessing in disguise. 

5. 9/11/01

Not all changes are good. 

The events on 9/11 didn't affect me directly. But the way I think and act every day are affected by it. I don't ever see myself on a plane again. I can't ever go to work in the morning without thinking about what other workers in other high rise buildings were doing that Tuesday. 

Clear blue skies are the worst. 

6. Dwayne finally asked me out.

Enough said. (Okay, well, read further entries down for reference.)

7. Cancer found its way into the family.

My grandmother was the center of our family, and she molded me into who I am today. The day I found out she had ovarian cancer was the worst day of my life. 

That was 2009. She died in 2011, then my grandpa got brain cancer, and my brother got leukemia. My grandpa died July before last; my brother has just achieved remission. But I still feel like I'm in 2009 - cancer? What?

8. I got a kittycat.

The most rewarding thing I ever did was adopt a kitten. I didn't know at the time that she was a Maine Coon mix and that she would grow to gargantuan proportions! I just knew she was small and fluffy and adorable. 

Now she's nine years old, 18.5 lbs, still fluffy and I love her so much! 

There's nothing like having a pet to remind you to love all animals, and to support shelters, sanctuaries and the ASPCA. 

9. I lost my job.

I'm still in the midst of this one. I'd worked for the same company for nineteen years, and then it was all gone.

I have a new job now, but I'll never get over the loss, and the feeling that I let somebody down.

10. I had to go back to the The Place.

The second time around, I thought I knew what to expect. More of the same, digging into my brain, experiencing lots of shame... 

On my first day back, though, I found I wasn't the only repeater. There were other people there, who had been there with me the first time three years before.

I realized then that there's no shame in admitting I needed help, AGAIN. It changed the way I viewed my disease. There should be no shame in it, because that prevents you reaching out and grabbing a lifeline.

I learned that I can fight and struggle and maybe fall down but I can and will always get back up.