Out of the Chamber – this battle has been won.

Wide angle top view of the Initiation Well with no tourists in Sintra, Portugal
ID 115038471 © Saaaaa | Dreamstime.com 

Hello dear friend, 

As mentioned at the close of yesterday’s post, the remainder of my recovery journey to now had a few other bumps. I’ll be discussing those moments of backtracking before continuing with how positive things have been. As with previous heavy topic posts, please note that this one may be a painful read, at least for the first few paragraphs – if you want to skip it, I understand. The post does include mentions of suicide, so if that is a trigger for you, please go ahead and avoid this post, or proceed with caution. Okay? Okay. ❤ 

Where were we? Oh yes, no panic attacks and no suicidal thoughts since discovering BTS in August – can you imagine how happy I was by the time October rolled around? Months without a panic attack. Months without a suicidal thought. MONTHS of feeling like I was actively recovering. I was so happy. Don’t get me wrong, I still couldn’t handle crowds very well. I couldn’t be in office more than two days a week and I needed at least a day’s break of working from home in between. I knew my emotional and mental shields were still at a major low, but I was doing so, so much better than how I had been prior to August.  

Toward the end of October, my team and I were pulled in to a conference room without much warning. We were informed T* had taken his life over the holiday weekend. I went back to my office and I broke. For all that T* had been a trigger for my panic attacks and suicidal thoughts, I never, and I do mean NEVER, wanted anything bad to happen to him. I didn’t want to have to work with him, but I knew that aside from not being able to work well together, he was a nice guy. Can you imagine how easy it was to slip in to thinking that his passing was somehow my fault? Can you imagine the voice of Nox whispering that I somehow manifested this outcome because I knew him to be a trigger for my symptoms? Can you imagine the guilt I found myself fighting? I mourned. I fought cycling thoughts that tried to convince me I was at fault somehow. The rest of the team mourned as well.  

But the machine that is work stops for no one, so a week later, when then-manager pulled us in to his office to divvy up T*’s tasks, I wasn’t surprised. I was assigned to learn how to handle the live video work, but was assured I would only be learning to serve as a backup for the colleague who had already been assisting with live video. Okay, not something I was super excited to learn, but given how often I had requested a backup for my own tasks, I couldn’t bring myself to say no. I ended up having to be in office four days back to back (remember I was working only two days in office, with a day in between due to continued anxiety symptoms). I had to be in office to learn how to do the video work and to assist with two meeting live video recordings.  I barely avoided a panic attack while assisting with one of the recordings – there were well over 60+ people in the room and…yeah, that was a hard day. A really hard day.  

The following Monday, then-manager pulled me in to his office to let me know the colleague for whom I was to be a backup would be leaving the team in a few weeks. I was told I would have to take over all live video work. I was told I would have to change my work from home days to accommodate recording days. Then-manager stated that as long as I still got to work from home two to three days a week, I should be fine – his opinion, not mine. The panic attacks returned – I had four in under a week and a return of suicidal ideation.  

I…I refused to let myself fall back in that mindset. I knew I couldn’t afford to stay on the team any longer. It wasn’t worth the damage to my mental health. I could feel myself starting to relapse and I just – I won’t let myself do that. I refuse to allow myself to fall as far as I did last spring. I started applying for new jobs – and had seven requests for interviews within 48 hours (talk about an ego boost! Wow! I – I really needed that. I needed the reminder that I am DAMN GOOD at what I do [pardon my cursing please]) –  and it reached a different team’s notice that I was planning to leave after 8 years with the company. I was approached within days about switching off of my current team, keeping my responsibilities for the things for which I am the subject matter expert while having more consistent work in terms of writing requirements and user stories for how our websites should be developed. I accepted the team switch offer, and was told it was coming…and coming…and coming… Is it any wonder I started to think it would be cancelled the same way the previous team switch was cancelled earlier in the year? 

But the team switch finally came through right before I took off for an extended long weekend for Christmas! Talk about a perfect and very welcome Christmas present! Can you imagine how excited I was?!?! And friend, I really, really love my new manager. She is so kind and she offers praise so willing, so easily. I…I don’t know how to fully explain how much that means to me. I guess the only way I can do so is to tell you that my therapist told me part of the reason work is a trigger for my symptoms is that my manager had trained me to believe I had no worth unless I was pulling excessive amounts of overtime. When she said that, I was floored – because she was right! Looking back, I can see the steady progression of the erosion of my self-confidence, the steady increase in seeing my only value in terms of work, the complete imbalance between work and life. And yet within days of being on the new team, my new manager was already so excited to have me on the team, telling me several times already how much of a help I am, how smart I am, and how happy she is to be working with me. I…I really needed to hear that. 

And here’s where things really start to get interesting, my friend – the day I found out about the team switch coincided with the last day I spoke to the colleague who was killed in a drunk driving incident in 2012 – down to the day. Are you aware 2019 matches the dates perfectly from 2013? Yeah, that was…eye opening and somehow made me think – things really are getting better. The cycle of bad and pain is ending. A new, good cycle is beginning. And how interesting is it that the dates line up exactly… 

Honestly, Susie and I have been saying since November 2018 that we feel like this year is going to be so good we can’t even imagine how good. In the same way past me, the me from spring 2018, would not be able to comprehend how good things are now – that’s just how much more good we feel is coming. For the first time in years, we felt the need to stay up and say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new one. We saw a post in mid-December stating that if you played “Magic Shop” by BTS at 11:56:08PM on New Year’s Eve, the year would start with you hearing “so you give you the best of you” – so that’s what we did. And – wow.  

Just wow, this year really does feel magical and like I am giving myself the best of me.  

Work continues to be good. I haven’t had a panic attack or suicidal thought since October – that’s almost six full months now, my friend! I’ve grown closer to my friends Sam and Michelle than ever before. I barely had any issue with the crowds in Disney during our trip in January. My relationship with Mom has improved significantly – we are actually closer than we have been in years. Susie and I have been able to go see movies in the theater without me feeling uncomfortable. I started feeling called to learn Reiki and to share my story. I had my Reiki Level 1 attunement in March and am studying up on a few more things before I sign up for Reiki Level 2 with Lune Innate (Jillian). I’m writing again – both for this blog and creatively.  

For the first time since I was in third grade, I can honestly say I love myself – as I am, as I was, and as I will be. I am working on getting healthier and stronger. I have discovered a love for tarot and oracle decks – and I’ve been using them as a way to meditate and connect with my higher self and my guides (angels, ancestors, both, other, whatever you want to call them). I know I’m being led down the path to my highest and greatest good. I know sharing my story and discussing lessons learned is important somehow. Most of all, I know, I KNOW that things are always definitely going to be all right. Yes, I still use medication to help manage my mental health, but I am actively working on ensuring I am checking in with myself, working through past hurts, and healing. Truly healing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to come off medication someday, and that’s okay. It’s a tool to help me continue to fight for myself and I will always be grateful that it helps. But it is just one of many tools I have in my tool kit now – and I know I have everything I need to not just continue my life journey, but to thrive. Will I face the Chamber of the Ordeal again? Maybe – I don’t know the future. But if I do, my friend, I know that I am strong enough to come out of it stronger still.  

Most importantly, I know I won this battle with the Chamber. I know it was my hardest battle to date, but I survived. I’m stronger than I was before and I’m ME again. I’m happy and laughing more often than not. I’m silly and adorable and kind and generous and often lazy but still so excited for whatever is coming next. I’m not the shattered, shadowed shell I was from 2012-2018. I’m Me – and that’s an awesome thing to be. ❤ 

I’ll end here for today, my friend. I think we’ve had quite a few days of heavy posts, so tomorrow I’ll give us both a bit of a break. Expect a post all about my Gunnyroo, because pupper photos make me happy and I hope they make you happy, too. 🙂  

Until next time, and with love always, 

Katie 

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