Day 19 – there and back again

It is time to go back. Back to the countryside, to concentrate on getting better, to resume therapy, to learn how to be with myself, how to be myself and to identify where this journey will lead me. As nice as the past three weeks were and as hard it is for me to leave now, I do look forward to a few things in my voluntary exile. I do already miss things from the city though. Balancing these two lives will be my challenge for the future. Or maybe just bringing the countryside into the city. Time will tell.

After I had breakfast and stuffed the last things into my already filled suitcase, I went to the station, said my good-byes to my love and expected a tiring, long journey ahead of me. When someone sat down on the empty seat next to me, my spirits hit the bottom. No, no, no, that was not how I wanted to spend the next 7 hours! I had two choices: to do, what I always do and get cranky, angry, desperate, counting every minute and wishing I had more space to myself, or to try and relax and make the best out of things. I chose the second and grabbed a book. OH BOY! I had completely forgotten, how fast time travels, when you are able to read. To be able to read again and to enjoy it, is one of the many things, I am most grateful for, since recovering. And faster than you can say ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious‘ – I had the seat next to me again at my disposal and I rushed through the pages, diving into the story and blocking the world out (thank you, earphones, screw you kid behind me kicking the seat). 7 hours still are a long time and I was happy to get off the train. When I entered the train, the sun was shining and it was spring. When I exited the train, it was raining, it was cold and grey (and it should stay that way for 3 more days, but I didn’t know that yet), but I was in a relatively good mood. Why, you ask me? For the next two weeks I will take care of a very cute dog! Her name is Dana, she is 1 1/2 years old – and she belongs to my stepfather’s boyfriend. That is a whole different story.

Fact is, I knew Dana would have been sent to a shelter for two weeks, and I couldn’t let that happen. I met them an hour after arriving by train, usually a very tense situation for me, something I usually avoid completely, this time though, he behaved, and I was soon alone again, with Dana. The challenge for the next days will be to not replace my needs with the dog’s needs. I am not sure, if I went back to an old pattern by agreeing to look after Dana and I do hope very much, that this responsibility isn’t too overwhelming and exhausting for me still. The focus will and should definitely be on myself. Let’s see how I will do!

Day 16 – an unexpected treasure

Day 16 – time really flies when you’re having fun, or, in my case, a lot to reflect on and even brave the odd challenges along the way. I got up ok, determined to avoid another binge watching incident. I did, what I (now) always do in a situation like this: write a new blog entry (I am still behind!). What followed afterwards was a matter of hours, I kid you not and I will also spare you the technical details, but I managed to salvage some of my lost data. It’s magic! Not really, I used a software, and thankfully, it almost did, what it was supposed to do. I will have to look at each file and reorganise it (400 gb, no biggie), but not now, this task won’t run away. Relatively proud, I walked away from the pc after salvaging a few files, without spending even more hours to organise and browse through everything. Why bother with a gruesome task, when there is so much more to do.

In my case, that was risking another gruesome challenge. I sat down, trying to identify why I didn’t feel as good in the city, as I hoped. It could have been way worse, but also, a bit better. After the excitement of the first few days (home improvement – I definitely need more excitement in my life), I felt like spiraling down, without any means of stopping it. The energy was down, the mood was down, the lust for exploring anything was gone, I went to the great outdoors only three times in three weeks, I didn’t sleep as well, I made myself a smoothie only once (once – in three weeks, when it previously was a daily thing), I felt exhausted once again, desperate, sad and depressed at times. Even though I had my little book full of challenges, things to do, places to visit and so on, I never even picked it up anymore, everything seemed too hard, too much effort and to scary. Time to meditate on that. Without the actual meditating – laying down on the sofa serves me just as well.

Some people may find an epiphany through meditating – I didn’t. But I compared my days on the countryside with my days in the city and realized a few things. The city, my own flat, my friends, my love, my family distracted me a bit. A distraction I don’t have at the countryside as much. That’s not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, I went to the city as some kind of holiday and trying out new things, to reconnect with my loved ones and that’s what I did, mostly. I meant, that having these many distractions and temptations at once, is still too overwhelming for me. It showed me, that I am not ready yet, to throw myself into the hectic life. I am not yet as well as I can and will be and I am not able yet to look after my own needs in a more hectic surrounding. I still need the quiet and alone time to be able to put myself first. I still lack interests, stuff to do, things that keep me busy. In those moments, when I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do and I looked for comfort in what I knew to have worked in the past, to silence the inner nagging voice: improving the flat, cleaning, organising, watching tv, playing games. Basically doing and thinking about anything else, than me. I didn’t actually watch tv or played a game, but the temptation was there. It could have been so easy to just let it all slide and retreat to a world without challenges, without having to work on myself. There’s a few things I can’t quite put my finger on. I get up more easily at the country side. It’s easier for me to make a smoothie, have a nice breakfast, to ready myself for the day, to go out, do some grocery shopping, to have a walk. That last one is no shocker, there is nature everywhere basically. I have more energy, at least it feels like it. I think in a way, I feel safer. Of course, spontaneously booking that yoga course or talking to people, really talking to people, is still a problem for me, even at the country side. If you, dearest readers, have any input for me on that matter, please, feel free to contact me privately or share here. Many brains think better than just one.

Still some work to do! I am looking forward to what it feels like at the end of the rainbow. I aim to think about my fulfilled desires, how it will feel, not the hard, rocky way to reach them. Feel free to remind me of that, sometimes.

Day 7 – Reunions, ice-cream and family

Yesterday wasn’t a good day, challenge wise. It was a really good day for many other things. There’s a little voice inside me, nagging, that I wasn’t able to provide you all and myself with a worthy challenge for Day 7 – the end of week 1. One quarter, you guys. We are getting somewhere. And although I can’t tell you about a great, soul-searching, fear confronting challenge today, I still very much liked my day yesterday. Let’s say, I celebrated week 1, ok? There was ice-cream.

I am a little shy. I am not warming up easily and talking to strangers or people I hardly know is a big deal for me. Before the breakdown, I met my people regularly, with joy, for hours. I wasn’t afraid of strangers, friends of friends, colleagues at university. Although, that all changed in the past years, I am working my way up to the top again. In all these regards and many more. For someone, who has great friends, that take pride in being my friend, following my journey and helping me through it all with calls, comments and text messages, it may seem odd, but I am not seeing a lot of people these days. Until 2 weeks ago, I only had visited one friend at the countryside, maybe 4 or 5 times. In the course of over 8 months. I kept in touch as well as I could, but picking up the phone, sending a reply or writing an e-mail, was an intractable task. I wanted to, but I didn’t have the strength. I came to the city almost 11 days ago, filled with energy, strength, plans, challenges, tasks. And the joy of what it meant for me to see a few of my best friends. I met the first one on sunday. And even that reunion wasn’t something I made happen. It was a surprising coincidence. Get a grip, you say? You want to see your friends, don’t you? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I want to, I am looking forward to and I can’t wait. What makes it a little hard for me to go through with that plan, is myself. My need to be perfect. My overwhelming tiredness, when presented with a challenge, may it only be to shower, get dressed and meet someone. My own 4 walls, that provide so much security for me. And my inner chicken.

Yesterday, I met 3 people. 3 people! High-five, or rather, high-three! I had an amazing lunch date with an even more amazing friend, that was everything: funny, deep, delicious, joyous, easy-going, relaxing, profound. As if I’d never have left the city for almost 8 months now, we connected, shared, laughed. And I extended the invitation. Booyah! Afterwards, I felt like sitting in the sun for a little while, but when I called my granny to let her know, I was going to arrive a little late, my beloved cousin took over the phone and told me, he was at her place too, skipping a university class, just to meet me. It was meant as a surprise, and boy, was it a good one. He skipped class. For me. Oh boy, OH BOY.  Needless to say, I hurried there as fast as possible. My gran is that sort of gran, that is incredibly intelligent, in top shape and totally in love with me. She also has the tendency, to rant about everything, mostly my family. None of this, yesterday. She couldn’t have presented me with a more valuable gift. We chatted for over 2 hours about history, books, politics (did I mention, she is close to being 90?) and music. Before the burnout, talking to her was frustrating, depressing and extremely exhausting for me. Yesterday I left, light on my feet, a little tired, as it still is fatiguing for me, to concentrate for a longer period and to follow and focus on people and a conversation, but very relieved and thankful for the pleasant surprise. My cousin and I had some super decadent ice-cream afterwards, (because treat yourself, right?) and I shared the blog and a challenge idea, that includes him. The darling sweetheart that he is, he was excited, interested and agreed instantly. Keep your eyes peeled – you’ll soon know why. I feel like this first day of actually taking the plunge and meeting people, took a lot of pressure and unease off of me and that there are and will be many more reunions soon. I took the first step – all following steps now, will be a lot easier. Also, ice-cream, you guys. Treat yourself.

Day 5 – the great outdoors

I’ve always loved nature. I was born in a city and raised in a city for 4 years, but I actually never really lived in a city until I went to university. I spent years living in the most isolated houses, farms or flats on the countryside, playing with animals, branches and flowers instead of actual toys. I endured grim winters, hot summers and beautiful spring and autumn wherever I was at that time, as long as I could go outside, and by outside I mean taking a step behind the house to find a forest, rivers, mountains, fields or at least a garden, right before my eyes. You see where I am going with this, you clever people you. Once a country girl, always a country girl – nature sticks to you like odor from a horse shed, and if you ever had to clean a barn full of horse poop, you know what I am talking about. When I moved to the city to start my education at university, I was blinded by the abundance a city has to offer. Streets and shops took over my walks in the forest. Meeting at coffee shops and restaurants took over barbecuing outside or just sitting at the river, enjoying the sight. For a brief while I forgot what nature meant to me, how much I missed it in my daily life. I still went outdoors whenever I travelled home, went on a hike or took a bike ride. But that’s not really the same to being outdoors every single day.
In the years, that led to my break down and burnout eventually, where the lurking depression got more and more hold of me, I almost completely lost touch with my inner country girl. And when the big collapse was inevitable, I didn’t have the desire to go out anymore completely, let alone, taking a walk somewhere outdoors. Even when I moved to the countryside again temporarily, the green was not alluring anymore. Sunshine, clouds, water, rain, summer, spring, autumn, were indifferent to me. I felt no joy, when the warm summer air touched my skin, I didn’t even realize it. I still went outside almost every single day, as part of my treatment. One activity each day, no more, no less. That was the deal. So I went outside, without joy, without seeing the beauty, just because I had to. At first, I had a swim, rode a bike, walked a bit, sat at the lake, because I had to. It gave me nothing. Over the course of many months though, something changed. Grass seemed green again, sun was something to look forward to, a swim in the lake had an almost irresistible allure and when I looked around, I realized, that there was reason to smile again, to breathe in deep and to appreciate the peace, quiet and calm of nature. It was great!

I am currently back in the city for a little while. Breathe that air again, see how it feels and to test, how far I have come with my recovery and treatment. At first, I was very energetic and had a lot of drive, similar to the days before. Then, something changed. I felt stressed again, restless, overburdened and almost helpless, as I didn’t know why or how that happened. I still don’t. But I am not giving up like this. Yesterday was a beautiful day. There was sunshine, springy temperatures –  and it was saturday! I took a big leap that morning, when suggesting to my love to go outside to a very big national park like area in our city. For 10 years, I have never set a foot there. Of course not, for a country girl, this is just a park. Silly city people go there, with their hiking shoes and outdoor clothing, pretending they just took a real, challenging hike! As my condition got worse, I never had the will or strength to go there first by public transport, which seemed like a day long assignment (people, hot, sticky, long!) only to walk somewhere with trees and grass, when I didn’t find that any relaxing or beautiful anymore. Hence the leap!
I went there yesterday, and it was really nice. The journey there didn’t take as long as feared, there were only a few people, not the masses of chattering city people I expected. I thought, it was going to be a moderate walk, with maybe one or two little inclines – boy was I wrong. In total, I went up and down 400 meters in altitude difference, walked for more than 12 kilometers. Dressed in a thick, woolen roll-neck sweater, of course, it was supposed to be just a little walk and it was windy outside, ok? Give me a break. What was really wonderful for me to see was, that although I spent close to 6 hours outside, I didn’t feel as if I have missed anything. A year ago, a saturday, would have been THE day, to get as much done as possible. Get up early, clean, organize, do food shopping, have a coffee somewhere, take a stroll along the near farmers market, have breakfast, go to the city and buy something or browse, get home in time for dinner and pretty much afterwards collapse on the nearest sofa. That’s a huge pile of nonsense, of course. I do believe, that you only think, that you are missing out on something, when you fail to enjoy the life you live, when you don’t live the life you want, when you are afraid, that you are always one step behind life. Feel free to remind me of what I said right now, in a year or so, when work has caught up with me again and I forgot about enjoying each moment, as it comes. Which will hopefully not happen. Close to the flat, I ran into our neighbour, who has been living next door with his girlfriend for 5 years now, and I never was able to take the step and invite them into our home. Yesterday, out of the blue, without weighing pro’s and con’s before, I asked him, if he and his girlfriend would like to come over sometime next week, for some table top games and talks. Just like that. He said yes, and I am already nervous and doing my best to maintain my zen and to fight the urge, that everything has to be perfect, including me. I will let you know, my dearest little army of readers. Have a beautiful sunday and enjoy each minute of it.

PS: It was pointed out to me, that with this blog, I once more fed into my urge to be perfect, successful and to accomplish something. I expected a lot (reader wise, site view wise, writing wise), wanted it to be perfect, only thought of the challenges as topics for the blog, when it originally was intended as some kind of public diary, where I would talk about my challenges for myself, mainly. Instead of writing an entry for day 5 yesterday evening, when I was really tired and exhausted, I chose to blog about it today. One step at a time.