In Germany today is the Sunday before Advent on wich the dead are commemorated or as we call it “Ewigkeitssonntag” (Eternity Sunday) or “Totensonntag” (Sunday of the Dead). I have briefly written about the meaning behind it when I
mourned celebrated my late grandparents and what they had taught me. Lately I have this feeling that I – at times – are mourning myself. The old version of me. The younger one. And I wanted to explore those half thoughts today. As it only seems fitting.
I was 29 when my life changed in 2011. I could have seen it coming but as you often do, you push the signs away, keep going, trying to be strong. This was not going to slow me down. It did.
Until 2011 I prided myself for being so energetic. Outgoing. Full of life. Happy. Successful. Lighthearted. Smiling.
The Back Story
In my teenage years I was class president for almost all through highschool. I have been school representative in my last year of highschool, being part of many teachers boards and voicing the students opinion. I have taken part in Model United Nations. I have played semi-professional volleyball and was a referee as well. Sometimes even helped out coaching. I was busy.
After school and starting my apprenticeship I learned I wasn’t able to do all of it with full-time work and studying. I cut back. I kept my arm down in vocational school when a new class president was looked for. I kept my volleyball and referee job as long as I could. But spending every weekend in the gym was tough. Specially when I was in event business and had a lot of functions on weekends. Or if not I really needed a break to recharge. So I did the responsible thing and quit the team as not to slow them down. I did my referee job a bit longer but not enough and so my license expired.
When my apprenticeship was done in 2005 and around that time I started dating Mr. ♡. Priorities shifted. Time was scarce.
In 2007 I started taking evening classes to get my diploma in communications and marketing. At the same time I started a new job in an event agency. Life became even more hectic. In 2009 my boss had a burn-out. And for the next two years I was more or less running the agency and trying to motivate the small team of four people. While the husbands boss (now CEO of the agency) spend money, drove his Porsche and cheated on his wife.
But why am I mourning myself you may ask. I had life figured out. I was on a high. Until I was not.
The break down
Since 2005 my migraines started to develop and became a regular thing. December was always the busiest time for our agency as we had a lot of end of year conferences for our clients. My favorite time of year and I was not able to slow down. 2010 was the worst yet. On my way to the airport to fly to Munich I had a bad feeling of nausea. So much so that we stopped at the airport pharmacy so I can get medication – that I left on the counter… The rest of the week was even worth. Every time I was able to delegate my duties to my apprentice I was in bed trying to not throw up, get rid of the pounding migraine. Or if I needed to be available I was laying on the couch in the lobby jumping up as soon as a client walked by. When the conference was finally done our plane was canceled due to severe snow storms. We were supposed to sleep on the airport. We did not. We made it home the following day with the train. The whole thing is a story of its own.
Christmas break this year was much needed. I can not remember anything about it. Besides that I was not ready to go back to work in January. Not the feeling of I am tired I want to spend more time without work. No I literally had no energy to get up and drive there. I had to though. I managed. That is the person I am. I was. We had a big roadshow coming up – 30 stops all over Germany. We needed to go location scouting. The first week back a one week road trip. After that I was sick for two weeks. End of January I was back in the office. Overwhelmed with tasks and responsibility. Often sitting in front of my computer not knowing where to start. Some days I was not able to write a single email. Knowing it’s all piling up.
The weekend of my dads birthday was the final nail in the coffin. I called my mom crying that I don’t know when to bake a cake for dad. I ended getting up night to do it. My mom said I should only show up to the party and not help anything beforehand. I did that. That party was the weirdest thing I ever did. I talked. I smiled. I was (pretending) to be happy while at the same time I was breaking inside, just wanting to be home. Of course I had a migraine.
The next day, a Sunday the migraine was the worst I have ever had it. By that time I had it for weeks – only a few days break. I was dreading going to work. I was lying upside down on the couch feet at the back, head on the bottom while poking my eye socket with a fork to get to the pain. Mr. ♡ silently watching. Asking if we should get to the hospital. I tried to breath through it. Two hours later I was ready to get help. My mom was already waiting downstairs for some time to drive us. Did I mention I have the best husband?
On Monday I went to my doctor who wrote me a sick note. Also emphasizing I need to see a neurologist. I had Mr. ♡ call my work because I knew otherwise I would agree to checking mails and doing things. I agreed to an 1 hour call for all open questions. After that the husband took my phone, put me on the couch and did not allow me to do much else but read. I was too tired to that. I was a breathing things with no emotion.
After two weeks I dreaded going to the doctor not knowing what to say to get an extension of staying at home. There was nothing really wrong with me. I didn’t bleed, all bones intact I had no pain. The husband came along and also into the docs office. My neurologist asked me if anything was wrong. My answer: “No, all is fine.” The husband then said that nothing was fine. I started crying. After that the only thing I remember from the appointment was that she told me to find a therapist.
Eventually I did get back to work after four weeks. I switched my job a few month later. I started going to therapy.
2011 broke me. 2013 shattered me.
In 2013 I was laid off that new job I got. While it did help me get out of the event business, the long hours, the responsibility I had, it shattered me on a more emotional level. I was laid off for not being a team player. No one knew my back story but I personally defined myself as a team player. A person always helping.
2011 was a burn-out. 2013 I fell in a depression for 11 months.
No one really told me what the diagnoses was. Years later the therapist mentioned I suffer from depression that was triggered by a burn-out. It would have helped me knowing that. I need a label to understand how serious it was. Is. You never fully recover. You live a different live. You are a different person.
I have been mourning myself ever since. Hoping I will be that person again. The one that is full of energy. Can juggle all the projects, ideas and have a full social life. The person who is smiling and laughing. But it’s been ten years. It is time to accept that there is a new me.
My personality has changed. And honestly I don’t like every facet of it.
Mourning my energy levels
I feel like I am not getting much done. Of course I always compare to my former self. And apparently that was not very healthy. I also compare to a younger version of myself. But I would lie if I don’t sometimes wish I was more proactive. More productive. That I was more decisive. That I follow through on plans.
I wish I had less migraines. I wish they wouldn’t so often hinder me. I wish I could endure stress better. Like I used to. But my body seems to remember. Or I am aware of the signs.
So instead I go to bed when I feel a migraine coming. Feeling weak for doing so. Knowing I need go because otherwise I will suffer longer. Often enough I can accept. But every once in a while I get mad. At myself for not being me. That old me. To suck it up.
Mourning my self-confidence
The 2013 incident had me loose all my self confidence. My attitude, my assurance of myself I had in my teenage years, during my early twenties. All gone. Because one guy was threatened by me. Fearing his own position. Because I called him out on his bullshit, his laziness.
Now the feeling of inadequacies is dominant. The imposter syndrome crept in. I am questioning everything. Never quite feeling good enough. Threatened by people who know more. Can present themselves better. That are confident.
I am struggling. I failed to stand up for myself in 2013. And at the same time I was so confident (before) that it triggered the situation. I am struggling to find a balance.
And now I am scared of things. Scared to fulfill dreams. Scared to share my opinion. Scared that I plummet down another spiral of depression if I fail.
Mourning my lightheartedness
I miss being happy. I miss being lighthearted. I miss laughing. I miss not assuming everyone has an agenda. Maybe I miss the naivety. The carelessness.
I don’t want to be pessimistic. I don’t want to see fault everywhere. I don’t want to be sceptic. I don’t want to have mood swings. I don’t want to hide my insecurities by picking fights and arguments.
I am not sure how to wrap up this post. I am not sure if this post is helpful for everyone but me. If you are still here thank you for reading.
Maybe the most important part to learn here is that we never know what a person is going through. It is the first time I have mentioned this anywhere. It took me around seven years to admit to my family and speak openly about it. I am more than lucky that Mr. ♡ was around in my darkest hours. That he still is. He fell in love with a different person. And of that person only parts remain.
I have no solution on how to live with this new version of myself. I guess as with everything admitting is a first step.
Thank you for reading today