Saturday, November 14, 2015

Broken but not destroyed

Its finally happened - I have reached my breaking point. My allergist and my general physician who replaced my brilliant long time general physician (he retired) both misdiagnosed me with asthma and prescribed inhalers, capsules, nose sprays, eye drops in increasing dosage as I did not seem to get better. Five months of taking strong medicines that you do not really need, has taken a toll on my body. Add to it, the building up stress from a long commute and a stressful job - I am talking about nine hours of being in back to back to back meetings all day every week; I cannot remember the last time I actually ate lunch in peace, it is mostly always with someone talking to me, or me being on a conference call or in an actual meeting or sometimes standing in someone's cube while eating my soup. Add to it the normal stress that comes with raising two young girls, running your own household with no support system and trying to make time for your relationship. And then why don't we also lather on a healthy dose of in law discontent and complaints.

I felt it coming, I reached out to everyone. I told my best friends, my husband, whoever would listen. I am tired, I am breaking. As luck would have it, one bff completely broke off communication - we are all in the same boat busy with work, home and kids and she has a very demanding job but she did not speak to me for weeks. Did not pick up my phone, did not call me back, did not want to talk. I lost a part of my familiar support structure.

Soon I did not want to talk anymore. Coming home and going to bed became a pattern and the guilt built up. Guilt of P having to parent on his own. Guilt of not having the patience to play with the girls or even read to them.

I am broken. It is very scary, this place that I have reached. I feel every emotion magnified, every sad thing hurts a thousand times more than it should, every worry causes hundredfold distress than it should. And the guilt is always there and overwhelming. And the tears are always there, ready to roll down. The girls watch TV all morning, I am filled with guilt but I also do not have the patience to sit down and play; I would rather finish some other chore out. And then it turns into fatigue and I want to go lay down, feeling failure at not being a good parent.

I went to India for a week and was surrounded, engulfed, tightly held in this warm, safe embrace of love. London Bff and India Bff, my parents, my cousins, my grandfather all held me and showered generous compliments, assurances and memories of the positive smiling strong person they always knew. I met my London bff after years and he hugged me tight every time we met, and every time I healed a bit. I am tired.

But I still do have a faint recollection of the person I was, I am and need to get back to. So I am slowly taking baby steps - finding an experienced general physician who was the first one to say that I might be depressed. He has ordered a plethora of blood work on me and I am waiting for next steps. I asked for three days work from home to relieve myself of the commute stress. I turned my back on a promotion and the prospect of a huge team and accepted a lateral move, with no direct reports promising better work life balance and calm. I cannot be this person I have become. I need to return.

As I start my journey of healing myself, I also need to forgive. Forgive friends for not being there. Forgive myself for not being there. Forgive in laws for harsh words said. And move on....Slowly but surely I need to return. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Falling falling falling....

Sometimes no matter what, nothing seems to go your way. If you prefer A over B, B is sure to happen. And this pattern repeats itself in every thing. Each day you wake up and are rewarded with more things not going your way. You interview for jobs, you get rejected. You hope to feel better, you get sicker. You hope for good news, you get bad news.......And on and on.....

It is so hard not to give in to self pity and label yourself as "unlucky"; wallowing in your own self created sad zone and saying things like - so and so always happens to me, and God knows what else is in store for me etc.

But this is the time when you do not give in to that sweet relief of self pity. When its so much more comforting to lose yourselves in warm comforters and lay around listlessly waiting for the next bad thing to happen, is also the time when you need to shake it off and force your mind to count your blessings. Try to believe in a greater force than fate and that maybe this is coaxing you in a direction that you might not have originally considered. And might end up leading to a bigger better thing.

So here I am, I am trying. I am sitting up, I am ignoring the constriction in my chest, the breaths that don't seem to reach anywhere, the complaints from in laws, rejection from internal job interviews, the best friend who does not seem to have time for me anymore, the body that has no shape anymore and is achy all over, and I count my blessings. I am trying. God now can I please have that shimmer of sun light, can you please move the dark clouds around a bit? Just a tiny ray of hope that things will be okay soon?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I still got a lot of fight in me...

I went to my Yoga class today - everything was saying No, my body said No, my mind agreed but somehow when I came upstairs to change out of my work clothes, my soul said Go and I put my gym clothes on. The yoga instructor is just fabulous, the music is soothing and soul stirring and she cranks up the heat and burns eucalyptus oils and the whole experience just manages to heal me on many levels. During the class the instructor always reminds us to focus our awareness on our core and to hold our poses for a certain period of time and just be. And focus. So focus I did. I asked myself lovingly - What hurts? Once my body had settled down in the pose, every throbbing, ache and pain called out to me behind all the layers of pain. There is a mouth ulcer nestled between the fold of upper lip where it meets the jaw line that smart with pain. I was acutely aware of a throbbing deep within my left molar - something I have ignored for long. As I relaxed my face and gave in to the pose, I noticed the sinus pressure behind my eyes, my cheeks, my nose which together sang in a symphony of pain all day. I realized the difference in the various aches I felt throughout my body; while the one in my throat was a constant raging one, the tooth was a dull rhythmic throb, the pain in my ear was quiet and subdued, the pain in my face and forehead was tender. Various layers and personalities of pain. Each one demanding individual attention but together lose their voice and create a new pain - the one in my heart of despair.

As my mind calmed down and my body followed the instructions of my teacher willingly and with no thought of its own, I made little plans of tackling these individual pains. I hugged myself internally and wiped away my tears which flowed freely but never left my eyes. I told myself "This too shall pass, I will get better one day".

75 minutes just about flew by and the class was over. I stood up refreshed and left the gym. A broken Sonia with a repaired soul and a plan for her next baby step - Salsa funk class on Saturday. Life does not stop for anyone. Like the ocean's waves which flow back and forth relentlessly, the play of tides continues without fail - high and low; so does life go on. It never stops. And as I go through my hour long commute each way, and paying attention to my little people and hugging/kissing/cheering/feeding/bathing/cuddling/playing with them, as I go through work and come back home and pay attention to this glass and brick and wood structure of love and warmth - dishes to be cleaned, laundry, putting away toys, beds to be made, as I carve out time for the husband; life does not wait.....And all through this I make myself a promise - to the Sonia inside me who is sad and dejected, who hurts internally when she sees her pictures and refuses to acknowledge the puffed up mess she has become, when she looks at her once beautiful smooth skin and wills the bumps caused by side effects from the strong medicines she is on, to go away, wills them to disappear; I hug that Sonia and promise to nurse her back - slowly and steadily but one day she will be back.

On the way home, the Fight song by Rachael Platten was on the radio - such a good omen - This is my fight song, take back my life song....I still got a lot of fight left in me!! So all my sisters, wherever you are and whatever fight you are fighting, keep moving forward and even when you get knocked down your feet and picked up and deposited a million steps farther from where you started, pick yourself up and start again. Because one day you too will win.

Monday, August 10, 2015

One step forward and a thousand steps back

My fitness goals and me have not been on the same page lately and when I say lately I mean in a number of years - and when I say years I should even go all the way and say it truthfully - almost a decade! So here I am 30 pounds overweight for the last 6-7 years of my life. New Years have come and gone, india trips have come and gone, vacations have come and gone, important family get togethers and events have come and gone and I am still standing in the same place. Every time some thing is coming up - say an India trip in six months, I make sincere plans of working out and getting fit and losing weight and without fail every single time some completely justifiable event takes place and I am worse off than before.

Let's take this year - I joined a gym on my birthday in March, signed up for the half marathon end of September; we have a family event coming up this week. I worked out very sincerely all though March - about four times a week, waking up at 5 in the morning to get in a class before I went to work. All good until allergies and asthma hit in April and I have spiraled into this unending cycle of sore throat, body ache, head ache, sinus infections, fatigue, asthma attacks. Every time I feel better I try to return to my game plan. One day stick to plan; four days off of it. It is extremely de motivating and disappointing when you so badly want the jiggly fat on your thighs melt away and for your butt to not resemble a small country and yearn for the fit slim lean girl within you that you see glimpses of when you can manage to work out regularly. But no, like a bad curse hurled my way, I struggle to rise above the constant aches and pains and fatigue sessions.

People all around me keep up an unending supply of advice and recommendations. What this has also taught me is to be empathetic towards others - people who struggle with not easily visible ailments, to understand someone when they opt out of races/physical events, to not judge someone by their size and meanly think if they could just put down that coffee they might lose a pound. Because it is all a vicious circle - you don't feel good, you crave things to pull you out of the rut; for normal people who have to keep smiling/performing for your job/friends/family, you don't really have an option to stop and take stock of your life and to make sweeping decisions. Would I love going off on a six month retreat in the Himalayas where I will eat organic food everyday and do yoga and take strolls in the fresh mountain air - sure!! Do I have the money and is it practically possible for me to do it is another question?

So I do what I can do - one step forward whenever I can and to never let go of this quest to achieve fitness. Right now I am focused on finding out what is wrong with me - pulmonary function test first. Then to reduce medications then slowly get back to normal.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Are you a builder or a destroyer?

I am extremely fortunate to report into a VP - a working mother with four kids and a stay at home husband. She is extremely passionate about women's development and strives to create opportunities and provides guidance to all those who seek her out as a mentor. Every time I leave her office, I walk out a lot more stronger, taller, confident and happier. She has this way of recognizing where you are lacking confidence or doubting yourself and pointing out all the other 10999 things you are doing marvelously and in turn the self doubt moments of panic melt away in the face of accomplishments and challenges faced successfully and you once again are filled with hope that you can do it and this too shall pass. I have even spent an afternoon in her office, just sitting there, because she wouldn't let me leave. I was a hot mess, overwhelmed with things at home and at work, overwhelmed with dealing with difficult people both at work and at home and she just made me sit in her office to let me collect myself and that moment passed and I was once again strong. I am so grateful to her for providing me with a role model of a wonderful boss, a wonderful woman and a wonderful person to know in my life. You continually learn something from the people you come into contact with and she has taught me a lot.

I also have this other woman who I deal with on a regular basis now at home who is the opposite. She breaks me down. By belittling my accomplishments, by down playing the good things I do - through actions and mostly through words - careless thoughtless hurtful words. I believe every person is a product of their past and how they deal with it, the choices they make define them as a person in the present. This lady has many regrets - regrets for not having worked outside the home, regrets for not moving to the U.S. when she had a chance, regrets to not having the kind of support and attention from her spouse that she needs. And those unfulfilled desires and unresolved regrets manifest itself into criticism or undermining everything I do. There is no generous open your heart and breathe in fresh deep air, appreciate and be grateful, soak in every moment of this wonderful life with gratitude. She has also had her fair share of physical and mental issues (Is it caused due to this lifelong tendency of unhappiness and criticism?) that add to the sourness.

A friend of mine had a wonderful fortieth birthday celebration yesterday - she invited all of her close friends for a private yoga session with her teacher who she absolutely adores and revers. We spent the afternoon twisting ourselves into various positions, literally sweating it out and laughing at our lack of flexibility. The session culminated in delicious spicy crunchy mathiya paired with a cool yogurt dip that the teacher had made for us and a chocolate cake which we carried for our friend. The teacher then talked about philosophy and one of the topics was how we are all part of one energy and we came from it and will go back to it. This day/week/month/lifetime is just a drop in many countless others. In the wide spectrum of time and in the vastness of the Universe, we are just a tiny microscopic particle.

One of the things she also touched on was that there are no coincidences - all the people who are in our life, come and go in our lives are all part of a pre determined destiny. The person who is causing you grief today might be someone you had hurt in your past life and this is just karmic forces balancing out. If you want to stop this cycle and do not want to again be a part of each other's lives, stop retaliating and stop letting them hurt you. Make peace and let it flow over you and complete this transaction per se right here, right in this life time.

She also talked about the various stages of love - first and foremost self love followed by love for immediate family and friends, community and then followed by universal love. Self love is not limited to just giving pep talks to oneself or looking in the mirror and admiring oneself but it also means taking care of oneself and making sure you are physically, mentally and spiritually nourished - peace and happiness.

I see a lot of merit in that statement - only when you are truly happy and satisfied internally can u then avoid the traps of insecurities and be able to nourish others through your words, your touch, your actions. Remember all those people in your life - you meet them and you feel refreshed - there is so much love flowing through them, when you walk away you leave happier.

I am going to try to implement these teachings into my daily life now - self love - taking care of myself - giving priority to working out, reading good books and doing the little things that bring me joy without trying to fit some idealistic goal determined by other people of a good - put in what you want - mother, friend, spouse, boss etc. And to be that person who transfers peace, happiness, love and let everyone walk away from you refreshed and happier.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cool blue water

I am drowning. I was drowning a few weeks back too but I knew it and tried to clutch on to everything I could find to stay afloat. I tried to call friends for support, tried to talk to P, tried to give myself pep talks, talked to everyone and anyone who would ask "how are you?" for manners sake. I would immediately unload my stress. I was drowning and trying to stay afloat.

And now I am drowning - I am below the cool blue water and can see the clouds and the sun up high but don't want to do anything to save myself. It's so peaceful down here in the cool blue water without having to do anything. Just to lay under the surface. No one to disturb, just quietly slip away farther from the air.

But then I see my babies; they haven't signed up to grow up without their mother. I have to rise and clutch at something for them. And I tell myself everyday to rise a bit by bit. For their sake I cannot drown.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The value of a breath

There is a very popular saying - One doesn't know the value of something until they lose it. You really do not realize the true meaning of this sentence until you actually experience the loss.

On my birthday this year I made a new year resolution to lose my stubborn twenty pounds which were putting me in the "overweight" category and to get fit and lean. I joined one of the fanciest gyms around and did all the right things - get a workout buddy - check, start doing weights - check, work out at least three times a week with an appropriate mix of strength training/aerobics/stretching - check. I felt great, after many years I saw my butt shape up a bit, my tummy collapsed, people at work commented that I looked like I lost weight, my posture improved; I couldn't be happier!!! P and I had signed up for a half marathon and I was looking forward to training for it.

And then allergy season hit and I returned from a business trip and went straight to bed and since then have not returned to normal. This was two months ago. About a month ago I had my first asthma attack ever. I have never had asthma before - I had run out to get a cake for my boss before going to the gym and I didn't even make it two blocks. It was the strangest sensation ever - like someone had held a hand over your face. I was hot and uncomfortable and struggled to breathe. I pulled over and blasted the AC hoping that the cold air might make whatever it was, go away. But it didn't. Then I slowly drove home and sat in the kitchen for the longest time before making my way upstairs to lay down. All the time wondering what this was and trying to understand what my body was going through. As soon as I lay down, it worsened rapidly and then I clearly realized - I cannot breathe!!

I went downstairs and told my husband that I am not kidding and I need a doctor right away. P is extremely calm in emergencies. After a second of contemplation on which route to take - 911 or ER or Urgent care; we immediately drove to the nearest urgent care. As soon as I got there, the doctor took me in and examined me. She then scolded me for being such an idiot and waiting till the last minute as I was barely breathing by that time. An awfully painful steroid shot and nebuliser treatment later; we left the urgent care and went home. The week after was a blur with strong steroids, inhaler and allergy medicines keeping me in a fog. Me who was the enthusiastic smiling outgoing girl - I was confined to bed like an invalid.

I have not returned to normal; hardly have been to the gym since then. Every day I feel exhausted most of the time. Some days even after a full nights sleep, I wake up with my throat, body, legs, back, head, face hurting. My kids wait for me to return from work to go biking and I cannot muster up the strength to even stand up in the evenings some days. To add to the stress, my in laws are visiting and my mother in law has already set the stage with many thoughtless hurtful comments. It just reminded me that we could never be friends. My sister in law and family are now coming to stay with us for a week - I would have been overjoyed at the prospect of them visiting except I am not sure if she is going to gang up with her mom against me this time.

I am a positive girl - I am grateful. I struggle to move towards the light in dark situations. And this attribute of mine is being tested on a daily, sometimes hourly basis by my current condition. When you feel like shit first thing in the morning, it's very hard to start the day on a positive note. I have unshed tears in my eyes most days and most days I cry alone for some time on the way to work; some days I cry at night with P by my side. I hate being sick. I hate not knowing what I should do to get better. I hate it that my medications don't give me instant relief. I hate it that I cannot bounce back to where I was two months ago. I hate it that I do not have the energy to sleep with my husband. I hate it that my stomach that had begun to tighten up now resembles a baggy watermelon again. I hate it that my jeans which had begun to fall away from my body are once again pasted snug over my fat. I hate well meaning friends and relatives spouting advice and home remedies. If you have not gone through asthma shut the fuck up and just be supportive. I hate that I have turned into a hateful person.

I want my health back. Everyday I fight with not giving in to self pity and depression, as I lay in my bed alone in the evenings and remind myself of all the good things in my life and to be grateful and that this too shall pass. Others are going through worse etc. I try not to be bitter when best friends do not have time to talk or be my support system when I need them the most in this time. I cheer myself up and tell me that one day I will bounce back and these months will be just a faint memory. The worst of this ailment is that you don't have anything to show for it - no broken bones, no loss of weight, no dark circles under eyes; you cannot explain to someone what it means to not be able to breathe in free; how it feels to have your entire body ache all the time.

So if you see anyone who doesn't outwardly apparently look sick to you but says that they are tired because of such and such condition, don't be judgmental. Be gentle, be empathetic and offer them support and positive thoughts. If you see someone walk and talk wistfully about running, don't mindlessly give them advice on how being regular is the key and how they should diet or run everyday - that might not be an option to them. Be kind. And most of all count your blessings and be damn grateful for every little thing in your life that you take for granted because no one knows what tomorrow is going to bring! Much love from an overweight wheezing girl laying in her bed struggling to stay positive as she listens to her kids play in the backyard without her and wishing and praying to God that tomorrow will be the day when she can also join them.