*This post was originally written on Thursday, February 11, 2016. After reading it, you might understand why it took me a week and a half to actually post it. I’ve sworn myself to realistic optimism and total transparency. So who am I to withhold this post from the world? Not publishing has also made it difficult for me to write going forward. Nothing I have to say will make much sense if you don’t know what you’re about to read. This website was created based on 2 principles: total transparency & zero judgment. I ask only that you respect the principles I strive to uphold.*
This is an “I don’t know where to begin” kind of post. Because honestly. I don’t know where to begin. Because truth is…the beginning is still a mystery to me. So it’s nearly impossible to start at the beginning. And who decided that’s the very best place to start, anyway?
It’s 1:00 on a weekday and I’m sitting in Panera. I’m not at a business meeting. I’m blogging. Do you want to know why? Honestly? I’m still trying to figure it out. The easy answer is this: I’m taking a leave of absence from work.
I’ve been conflicted about whether or not to blog about this. Everything inside me screams no. “Noooooo Brittany!!! Don’t do it!!!!!” But why? Well that’s actually an easy answer. I can give you a handful of reasons:
- It’s embarrassing.
- If I can’t work, I shouldn’t be able to do things I enjoy. Like blogging.
- People will think I’m crazy.
- My coworkers read my blog. So reread the above 3 points.
- Did I mention that it’s embarrassing?
But here I am blogging about it anyway. I’ve talked about blogging being therapeutic for me. So there’s that. I think it’s also my way of accepting myself in the moment. Embracing the truth rather than running and hiding from it. I think it’s also my way of forcing myself into action. To make this time purposeful. Every minute of it. I’m not going to squander the gift I’ve given myself.
I call it a gift and you might call me crazy. Selfish. And you might be right. I might be crazy and what I’ve done is the definition of selfish. In my mind, at least. But I’m told I tend to be hard on myself. Still, it feels selfish.
But so what if it is? So what if my LOA is in fact a selfish gift that I’ve given myself? Does that make it easy? Hell no.
I walked into a supervisor’s office yesterday morning and sat in the corner of a very large couch. I believe my first words were something along the lines of, “…well…this is awkward.” I then spilled my guts about the battle that’s been raging inside of me. I don’t know what I expected, but acceptance sure wasn’t part of the scenario I’d dreamed up. So imagine my surprise when understanding filled his eyes and I left with a hug and a pat on the back.
“Brittany, it sounds like you feel like you’re leaking.”
YES. LEAKING. That’s the word I’ve been looking for.
I feel like the only thing holding me together is my skin and someone took a pin and started poking holes in my skin and pieces of Brittany started leaking out and I kept trying to patch them up but every time I did a bigger hole would appear and more of Brittany would start leaking and all of the sudden there weren’t enough fingers to plug all of the holes in my skin and I went “ahhhhhh!”…along with my whole treatment team.
And yes. That was a run-on sentence. Because I’m hoping you ran out of breath halfway through trying to read it and maybe you might get an inkling of the exhaustion that results from existing in such a state of being.
I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I took action BEFORE I had a nervous breakdown. I felt like I could snap at any moment and I didn’t want to put anyone (coworkers, family members, friends, and even myself) through that. So I took a step back to regroup BEFORE shit hit the fan.
It’s hard to put my finger on when it all began. I’d like to say, “but that doesn’t really matter.” But it does. It matters very much. Because contrary to what some people might think, this LOA is more than just a vacation. And I don’t want to have to do this again. So figuring out when and where it all began will actually be an important discovery.
Most of you know that I battle an eating disorder. That’s pretty much common knowledge around here. What you may not know is that I also have bipolar disorder. It’s a diagnosis that I fought for a very long time. One that I’m only now just beginning to accept.
My mania mostly manifests as extreme anxiety. A state in which I’ve existed in for an extended period of time at this point. And most of my anxiety is related to work. So the quick and easy explanation of why I’m taking an LOA is this: I didn’t like where my mania was leading and I decided it was time to step up and do something about it.
I start treatment on Monday. Part of me is in denial about needing it. After all, I feel a lot better now that I know I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. But I know that taking away the stressor does not take away the symptom. I have plenty to work on.
I was in a DBT group last week when one of my peers said something along the lines of, “Being in recovery is like having another full-time job.” And I realized he was right. And I also realized that I haven’t been treating it like that. At all. I have not given recovery the time and attention it needs for me to live a balanced life.
So I will take this time to pursue treatment. I will set goals so that my treatment has a purpose. I will develop a schedule and establish priorities that will support recovery. And I will re-introduce work in a way that supports a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t sound like a vacation to me. It sounds like work. Which is why I needed to take an LOA.
The truth is this. I am leaking. It’s time to patch the leaks and re-inflate.
*This LOA is not indefinite. There is an active plan for me to return to work in a way that will support myself, my coworkers, and the workplace. This period is serving its purpose well, and the rest is a story for another day.*