Me Myself and Drugs

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

I will be 31 in a few days and a I reflect upon this past year I made decisions that I consider the greatest decisions I could have made this year. The first was to take a leave of absence from my old job and the second was to resign from that same job.  I remember my decision to take the leave of absence very clearly. Mostly because my other option was drugs.

It was a Wednesday morning in March and I had just woken up. Literally just smacked my alarm to keep it quiet and barely had both eyes open. As I sat up in bed I mentally rummaged my cabinet for any prescription drugs I still had that would put me in a mental and emotional daze for the day. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t mind physically showing up to work. I did mind having to be mentally and emotionally available. I crawled out of bed and started a variation of my morning routine (I skipped the gym), turned on the tea kettle and hopped in the shower. By the time I was finished the kettle went off. As poured the hot water into the blue mug I stared at the codeine ladened cough syrup bottle. I could mix it with the tea I thought. I reached for the bottle and I stared at it. Then I then put it back. I closed the cabinet door and wept. I cried for about thirty minutes. In fact at this point I had started to get up earlier during the week to leave myself enough time to cry and then pull myself together to head to the office on time.

I drank the cough syrup free tea and headed to campus. I was in a haze for much of the day but not a drug induced one. No it was a “What is happening to me?”  haze. How had I allowed myself to get the point of waking up and immediately wanting to disconnect from my reality? How had I allowed myself to be in a reality that was so painful? How did self medicating instead of self caring become a viable option?

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Within the next week I called HR and shared I needed to take a leave of absence. Nevermind the fact that spring break was upon us and I was out of the office for the entire break. I was gonna need more than a week.  The woman in HR sounded alarmed, concerned, and of course HR- code for had the company’s best interest in mind. It didn’t matter. She walked me through the process which included going to my doctor. I went to my doctor where I blubbered my way through the appointment. All the doctor asked was what bought me in and I just went from human being to human puddle.  I took familiar questionnaires to assess my anxiety and depression. Familiar because as a former counselor I would administer and score them for my own clients.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they reflected symptoms high enough to warrant my doctor not only providing the medical documentation needed for HR to grant the leave of absence, but two medications, and her suggestion that I quit. “You are beautiful, bright, and I just think you can do way better than this place. Besides, they have demonstrated they won’t change and you have changed so much, you are sick. Go to the pharmacyand get yourself together, “ she said.

Photo courtesy of Me

Photo courtesy of Me

I took a month away to recuperate and get myself together. It. Was. Hard. The first two weeks were a struggle and I had to push myself. Push myself to eat, bathe, exercise, talk to concerned friends and family members, write, live. It was hard to live. Not exist. I was excelling at existing, but living felt painful.  The third week was still hard but getting easier and I am sure that was because I flew back east.

It was just before I left the east coast to head to LA for a few days that I went to DC and started to feel myself again. I didn’t mind going out and about to explore. I was excited to visit some of my favorite museums, take the train to the Pentagon city mall and shop, sit in Federal Triangle Park, get small eats from a variety of food trucks near my hotel, etc.

When I returned to work on campus I caught up with a dear colleague and friend. As I shared about my time away and even some of my concerns about my return we had the conversation that helped me quit. We had the conversation that echoed the sentiments my doctor spoke the month before.  I hadn’t been back on campus a week and knew that quitting was inevitable. It was inevitable because there was no way I could be the best version of me in that community. There was no way I could be a healthy mediocre version of me in that community. A drugged up counseling twice a week living pay check to paycheck because I spend my money on drugs and traveling version of me is probably what I could have mustered.

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

We live in an American society that measures our worth by how much we self deprecate as opposed to self care. We are constantly being measured by how hard we work, how long we work, how much we do, and how we struggled to do it. We accept anxiety and depression as norms, rites of passage seeking all those weary enough to cross there threshold, while the resort of rest and self awareness struggles to stay open for business. Please note, I am not taking lightly those who struggle with anxiety or depression. I am saying however that sometimes those diagnosis are responses to choices we make for lifestyles we choose to lead that are so unhealthy and feel more necessary than they really are. We look at self care as a luxury for the rich and famous. We declare ourselves neither and thus we don’t self care.

I started by sharing that I think during my 30th year I made two great decisions, a leave of absence and then quitting my job.  I think I really made one- to take care of myself by any means necessary.  Maybe that was God’s birthday gift to me these past 12 months and this month I am sharing that gift with you. Keep reading the blog this month, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for ways to self care, to encourage others in your life to do similarly, let go of the guilt that comes with taking time for yourself, and chances to win some things to help you with your self care journey. Remember, you are not selfish, lazy, or less than for making a commitment to be who you were created and purposed to be. And you aren’t selfish, lazy, or less than for deciding to leave a situation that doesn’t allow you to be such. You are the lead in your life and thus responsible for taking the lead in caring for yourself. You have to take the lead for making choices that allow you to be the person you were born to be and do the work you were gifted to do. Besides, when you model how to care for, love, forgive, be gracious towards you, others can follow suite. They can both learn how to do similarly for themselves but also how to do similarly towards or with you in their relationship with you. Here’s to you, me, us, and self care! xxoo #TSLLSelfcare

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com

Independently Whealthy

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Nope that’s not a spelling error. That’s me at best being creative at worse being lazy- it’s my marriage of the terms wealthy and healthy. Those with the #IndieSpirit pay attention to and cultivate both. Taking care of yourself is a must. So today I’m sending you a reminder to indulge in your whealth.

Health

One and done Every 12 months you should have a physical (with blood work), gynecological exam, eye exam.

Two to go- Every six ,months you should see your dentist for a cleaning and one of those visits should include  x-rays.

Three to five- No not the time you are available to get your hair colored, but the number of times a week you should be engaging in intentional exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. Walk, run, wun (walk with intervals of running), yoga, swim, play tennis, dance, etc. something that gets your body moving, heart pumping, blood circulating.

Four to six- Nope that’s not the happy hour schedule. That is the recommended number of small meal you should try to eat throughout the day to maintain a healthy metabolism, curb binge eating and grazing, and keep the body healthy.

Sixty four or more- This is the number of ounces of water your body needs. At a minimum drink 64 ounces a day. Some doctor’s recommend drinking half of your body weight in water which makes sense since the body is about 60% water anyway.

As you please (or need)- Seeing a mental health practitioner or life coach. I’ve seen counselors, even as I myself identified as a counselor. I’ve also worked with a life coach around some really specific goals and I knew I need more than the well meaning friend and family member to hold me accountable. Depending on the curve ball ife as thrown at me I will certainly call y insurance company and find a mental health provider. Now if you are not insured please know there are plenty of metal health provides who offer sliding scale fee (you and the counselor agree on a fee that you can afford) and there are free services through health clinics. To find a counselor near you click here.

Photo courtesy of Fit Sugar.com

Photo courtesy of Fit Sugar.com

Wealth

Dirty 30- I’m not talking bout celebrating your debut into a new decade. I’m talking about saving at least 30% of your income annually. There are a number of ways to do this and it can be divided up between various retirement accounts and savings accounts. I love love LOVE Capitalone360. It let’s me have multiple savings accounts, like for traveling, emergencies, even celebrations/gifts. The various amounts are scheduled to come out of my checking account once a month.

Cash only- I love my cute sunset hues debit/credit card as much as the next but it is so so so easy to swipe away and spend. Might I suggest whatever your budget is for the week you withdraw that cash amount and only use cash for your purchases. You will be surprised how many less lattes you have and how much you don’t need that top that is an extra 30% off at Nordstrom.

Keep the change- I have a delightful zebra print pig piggy bank courtesy of Old Navy and that is where I deposit all my change. Then every so often…I take that pig to the bank and get cash. What you do with the cash is up to you. Maybe it’s your extra cup of coffee stash. Maybe it ‘s your restaurant week stash. But keep those pennies, nickles, and dimes. They add up.

Photo courtesy of MYV.com

Photo courtesy of MYV.com

Wise counsel- After a year of paying a mortgage and rent my finances were just not where I was used to or wanted them to be. I wasn’t exactly sure of what my game plan should be and how to wisely invest money from selling the house. So…I joined learn vest and met Kirk, my financial adviser. I can’t even tell you how helpful it’s been so far and the amazing tools Learn Vest has to offer. And…did ? mention a woman started this company? #WomanPower #IndieSpirit

Spend well, not more, not less- I love a deal as much as the next person but I am also the same chick who notoriously cleans out her closet and has so much stuff to give away. I have learned however in more recent year it’s better for me to invest in a few really great products that are classic cuts and styles than really trendy ones that will somehow be so 2008 in the next 72 hours. While a few friends and family occasionally give me the side eye for heading to Nordstrom, Macys, or Bloomingdales, I know that the quality of the items those stores offer give me a lot of bang for my buck (which means in the long run i spend less buck)…and I look good. wink wink.

Take it to the bank (or credit union)- Banks and credit unions have so much to offer these days. With your financial needs in mind do your research on where you choose to invest your hard earned money. If you are curious about the difference between the two, credit unions are non profit financial institutions with its members in mind while Banks are f or profit and while they are smitten with you they are in love with larger corporations. Doesn’t make either good or bad and I’d encourage you to consider both and choose an institution that best meets your financial needs and goals. My credit union offers really really low rates on a number of loans, for cars, mortgages, and student loans. They also have a great point system that I love and have allowed me to travel on a whim without paying anything. If ou want to learn more about credit unions and banks click here.

Credit- not the cards, your score. It is imperative to know and monitor your credit score which is indeed impacted by your credit cards. I use Free Credit Report.com for my credit score. It gives you three scores, lets you know what you can do to improve your score, and keeps you posted on inquiries about your score. Note that inquiries can also impact your credit score. The higher the score the better (850 is the epitome of great credit).

What’s not in the bank (or credit union)? – Then there are your assets to keep in mind. These are things that are of value and could be sold for cash, but you aren’t string in a financial institution. This is your house, fr example. It’s not stored anywhere but it has great value and can be sold for cash value. Other sometimes overlooked assets are antique or vintage items. If you can convert it (with some ease) to cash then you’ve got yourself an asset.

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Photo courtesy of The Guardian.vom

Whealth

Just so we are uber clear, physical, mental, and financial health are not the only markers whealth (wealth + health). I cannot stress enough how we are, you are, I am, much more than any physical condition, mental illness, credit score, or number of zeroes before the decimal point. When you think about your whealth I encourage you to think about

– Your resiliency and ability to bounce back

-Your relationships (not the quantity but the quality)

– The thing or things you do, see, read that feed your soul and renew your sense of purpose

– Your blessings (take a moment to seriously sit down ad start counting them)

– Your privileges (privilege is not just about Whiteness,there are a host of privileges to consider)

-Your experience (your experiences not just bullet points on your resume, but they are what make you who you are, and often provide insight into and strength to create a simply LIVED life)

A true #IndieSpirit, no matter what the circumstance knows they have whealth. Some days that whealth will be measured by physical prowess, mobility, and agility. Others it is what’s hanging out in the bank account. And everyday it is the experiences, blessings, and those with whom w have positive relationships with. So how whealthy are you?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02:  Jay-Z and Beyonce attends the Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on May 2, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)

Photo courtesy of Cosmopolitan