Grab a coffee and let’s chat, shall we. If you are looking for recipes, I pinky swear there will be one shared with you tomorrow that you will love. Right now, I wanted to share a little something something. If you have no desire to read something wordy – no worries. Deliciousness will be back tomorrow as #BrunchWeek will begin!
This year has been a tad rocky and yes, I know I have been a bit quiet as I handle a few things around here. Thankfully, I had some great friends pull me out of a severely deep funk and remind me how much things have changed for the better. I changed careers, cut some toxic people out of my life and have been hitting milestone after milestone. But still – my mind races and tells me that I’m not accomplishing enough and that perhaps, I am failing.
Do you ever have that little negative voice in your head that you would love to muzzle? My voice – let’s just say it’s been screaming at a fevered pitch lately.
To be totally upfront, I have been battling severe stress, depression and anxiety for years, which I can mostly attribute to the former 9to9s and it reminds me of why I left my legal eagle life. However, the adjustment from legal eagle wench to the new digs has been a total 180 and if anyone ever tells you that stress is “nothing” – I might beg to disagree. When it comes to my stress, depression and anxiety, I’ve always been good at hiding it and when I read this article as well as well as one on what it’s like to have high-functioning anxiety was like a punch to the gut. How did they know what I’m dealing with? It was also comforting to know that my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. To deal with this I often retreat into a ball and bury myself in my work – clearly that needed to change.
I’ve always been reserved and a bit of an introvert. However, the stress really started to manifest about 20 years ago. Back when I was going through the nightmare with the ex-fiancée, I used to have severe pains in my side. It would feel like I was being stabbed repeatedly and the pain was excruciating. I saw so many different doctors and all were perplexed trying to figure out what it was. Numerous tests, ultrasounds, etc. were done and they couldn’t nail it down. They would float multiple diagnoses my way but nothing firm and concrete – everything from IBS, to heartburn, to lactose intolerance to diverticulitis. As I’m not really a fan of too much medicine, I learned to deal and avoided certain foods that might trigger an attack (i.e. acidic foods, too much dairy, spicy foods, and fried foods) and if I couldn’t resist one of my temptations, I would be prepared for the painful repercussions. Interestingly enough, after I finally broke up with the abusive ex and minimized my stress (as much as I could as I was still working in law), the symptoms would fade away.
However, whenever I was seriously stressed, it would manifest and I had one incident that really shook me to my core. We were in trial and my associate attorney started screaming at me in the hallway of a courthouse, in front of a Federal judge, to draft a settlement agreement immediately. The judge thankfully took her to task, telling her to cut it out as the agreement could be drafted later, not in the hallway of the courthouse. I remember thinking I was having a mild heart attack or something but I got back to the office, I took a baby aspirin, drafted the settlement agreement, left and went to the doctor.
The doc sent me in for an EKG and a multitude of tests. While the tests came out fine, he deduced that I had a severe panic attack. As heart drama tends to run in my family, this was quite the scare. Going forward, the doctor advised me to reduce stress, think about changing careers if possible and manage my diet as he said that stress can manifest into physical issues. He also stressed that I see if I could change attorneys, which my primary attorney thankfully arranged. Over the years, I would have panic attacks from time to time but none as severe as the one in the courthouse. A couple years ago, I started to have severe blinding migraine headaches working for an attorney here in Philly. He wound up leaving the firm, but I definitely took notice when those migraines left shortly after he did. Looking back, I can see the correlation between the high stress, the severe pain, panic and anxiety attacks, and the 9to9 and while I can’t change the past, I can change the future.
One thing my family and friends know about me is that when it comes to work, I’m pretty dedicated and go 110% above and beyond to get it done. Working in litigation was always an “adventure” or a heart attack waiting to happen. To be frank, I can’t always fault the characters at the 9to9 as I would put a ton of pressure on myself to get everything perfect. Workaholic – yup – I’m guilty as charged.
This blog actually started after a seriously bad day at the 9to9 when I worked in Orlando. Coming home, I remember walking in with the groceries, still wearing my stilettos, and immediately started chopping up veggies and prepping dinner. I realized how cathartic cooking was and started using this as my creative outlet. I could think about cooking and recipes and not at all focus on what did or didn’t get done at work. My mind could just focus on the task at hand and I didn’t feel one iota of guilt while I was cooking. Granted after I was done, the mind would again race with the thoughts of deadlines, filings and client work. However, I was comforted to know that for whatever brief time I could muster, I could find some creativity that was not legally related.
So – fast forward to now – when I go from the “Go Go Go” mentality and high-stress environment that I faced all the time at the 9to9 to what I’m dealing with now, it’s a big change and a bit overwhelming. I find myself making a to-do list of impossible tasks and goals and I need to stop that. Clearly I am not superwoman but my anxiety is telling me that I need to be on go go go all the time and it’s a bit of an adjustment.
Recently, the pain returned something fierce (along with a nasty case of insomnia). To be upfront, I have a ton of irons in the fire – both professionally and personally – so stress is inevitable right now. As I would get stressed, I would notice the pain would really be out of control. Remembering the sage advice I got from way back when, I started to ease up, step away from the computer and working all the time, stressing out over things I had no control over and try to breathe. I have been adjusting my diet as well, removing things that I would find would cause me stress (and yes, I had to cut down on coffee – that’s been a bit of a change to say the least). So – I’m trying to ease up on myself and bring me back to why I started this site – to share love of food and cooking with y’all.
On the horizon, I have a huge project up ahead (more on that later as things firm up), but I’m trying to not let that overwhelm me. I also had to learn to delegate and retain help from professionals, which is tough for someone like me who is a total micro-manager and tries to do everything herself. That was one of the best decisions I made recently. It is said that you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else and while I’m the first person to tell my dear friends that, I suck at taking my own advice. So – these past few months, I put on my oxygen mask and started to working on healing. I minimized my computer usage, focused on taking things one minute at a time and figuring out what was triggering this drama. It will take time but I’m sure that things are going to get better.
Thankfully May means a few things that I love like two of my annual blogger events – #BurgerMonth and #BrunchWeek. You should see the deliciousness I have ready to share with you all. Add to that a few other fun things I have planned, along with taking a photography class and some cooking classes and I’m excited. I’m trying to mentally go back to those days like when I was standing at the stove in my Altamonte apartment, cooking in stilettos and just thinking of the task at hand. I’m also setting boundaries with the computer so that I’m not on this all the time and can get some time to relax, read a book (that isn’t a cookbook) and just enjoy the day to day.
So – that’s my Life Lately this month and if you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram, this month you might just catch a few cottage snaps as the Junior SousPug and the Evil Minx have been finally cleared by the vet to go to the cottage for a few days. I think with all of this stress, depression and anxiety, a few days of R&R at the cottage is much needed. Plus – I think the Jr. Sous Pug and the Evil Minx are missing their buddies – the ever present swans, ducks and geese that gather on the lake and flap their wings whenever they see Jeffie or Shadow (not that Shadow helps any with her battle cry/screech/meow hybrid she does from the screened porch). Plus – I’m going to try to figure out how my Aunt Peggy kept the cottage gardens looking fabulous. Clearly, I don’t have a green thumb but I will definitely see what I can do around there for a few days. I also think I’ll be like the swans in this pic from the cottage – one day I’ll have my head above water, the next, I might be sinking with my head hanging below the waves, but I will always pop back up. It just takes time.
Thank you for your patience during this time – I can’t tell you how much it means. Sometimes I just need to remember that we are all human, perfection is not necessary and need to take things one moment at a time.
How do you deal with stress, depression and anxiety? Do you have any tips to share?
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