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Dark Days

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

I know it’s the time of year for happiness and cheer. Christmas spirit is gearing up to explode red, white, and green all over with twinkle lights and Santa Claus. It is a time for love and family and cozy slippers…Joy to the World and Silent Night. So, this may seem like a rather unusual blog posting during this time, but so much of life is about the juxtaposition of opposing ideas, the Yin and Yang. To appreciate the joy, you must go through the sadness.

We have all heard about the burnout in healthcare and if you haven’t, Google it. It is out there (#shewaited #pizzaisnotworking). COVID-19 has exposed us to the flaws in our healthcare system. It has taken many healthcare workers to very dark places. I was there in a very dark place earlier this year. As COVID vaccines were ramping up in community pharmacies, and corporate expectations pulled us in so many different directions, and experienced staff decided they had enough and obtained other employment opportunities, the pressure started to get to me.

I am good at what I do. I can multi-task and evaluate prescription orders quickly and accurately. I jump in and answer phones, count prescriptions, and do what needs to be done. I was starting to struggle with keeping up with the demands of my job. I started getting overwhelmed by all the expectations. I started feeling resentful that profits were given higher priority than people. I felt like a failure. I was picking up extra shifts and trying to help where I could, but I couldn’t keep up.

I would come home and plop on the couch, eat some food while watching Hulu or Netflix, and inevitably fall asleep where I sat. I occasionally used alcohol or ice cream (or alcoholic ice cream) to numb the effects of my day. My days off were spent sitting on the couch watching Hulu or Netflix “recouping.” I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. Wash, rinse, repeat. I was deeply depressed, burned out, and it all became way too much.

There were days when I was driving toward work, when I thought about driving my car into a bridge piling or a tree. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, and I didn’t want to die. I didn’t even want to hurt myself. It was just that the thought of creating a small accident and getting hurt just enough was a better alternative to going to work. The thought scared me. I thought of my family and knew I couldn’t do anything like that, but I also knew that if I continued down this path, something like that, or worse, would happen. I had to start making some changes.

For our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to get back to our roots and take a road trip (Yes, we stayed in a tee-pee). Our son was dropped off with his grandparents and we started driving. I poured out my heart to my husband. All the pain, all the hurt, all the frustration came tumbling out. I told him about my dark thoughts, and he just listened. He had no idea how to help me, so he just listened. Sometimes that is all it takes. I just needed someone to listen.

There have been times in my life where I have felt God (fate, the universe, or whatever you believe in) moving me in a certain direction. In an answer to my prayers (or a strangely specific algorithm), an advertisement for Master Classes by a business coach popped up on my Facebook feed. It was like she was reading my mind. So, I signed up for the free classes. Going through the classes helped me to reconnect with my purpose, and I was able to remember why I became a pharmacist in the first place. I found out later that the business coach had intended to do the classes the month before, but contracted COVID and had to postpone. I am so glad the timing worked out perfectly, so I could be in the right state of mind to be receptive to the message. So, in three-short action-packed weeks, PIVOT was born!

PIVOT gave me a new purpose and outlet for my thoughts and ideas. PIVOT gave me an avenue for my creative side. PIVOT brought joy back into my life and pulled me back from the darkness. It continues to be an anchor, keeping me grounded with a sense of purpose for my life.

I decided to make some changes in my life.

First, I had to reduce the amount of stress I was under. Since most of that stress was coming from work, I had to reduce my work hours. I had to stop saying, “yes” anytime they asked for help. I had to create boundaries. I decided to put my mental health first.

Second, I had to fix my diet. Ice cream and alcohol was not doing me any favors and was making my depression worse. I had to turn to a vegetable-based eating plan and view the vegetables as the main event. I started treating meat as a condiment or side dish, eliminated sugar, gluten, eggs, and dairy.

Third, I had to get off the couch. I had to get moving. My husband and I hashed out a plan. After taking our son to school we would drive to the local park that was less than 2 minutes away and walk. We started out slowly and increased our distance over time. On my days off from work, we take a longer walk.

Fourth, I needed professional help. I sought out a Functional Medical doctor to help me determine the underlying causes of my diseases. She ran labs, documented my history, and helped me develop my own plan.

The key to success is being ready for the changes that must occur to pivot to health and wellness. It is little steps, but they must be your steps. Small pivot, but it must be your choice to pivot. I can’t make the choices for you, but I can guide you on your journey. I am grateful that I chose to pivot the direction my life was headed and embraced functional health and wellness. Dark days will come but having a foundation of health can provide the necessary components to cope with the dark days.

Are you ready to pivot to functional health and wellness?

Schedule a free 10-minute connection call, today! I am here to listen.

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