Early in my twenties I learned that I couldn’t handle as much mentally as I had in my younger days. I think it was partly due to actually acknowledging how I felt and what I actually wanted out of life.
In my younger years, I would take on certain projects, work this job, go take this class, hang out all night, argue with friends and family like it was nothing then I grew older.
I think the first portion of my actual “grown up” and taking responsibility for my own life years, I learned that I was not only running myself into the ground but I was allowing others to as well. It took me having a near heart attack episode, which I learned later was possibly a panic attack that we couldn’t confirm and I had to change my whole lifestyle.
Leading up to this exact day, I had experienced a home break in, betrayal of friends and overall burnout from managing work and life from a very mentally exhausting work routine, just shortly after graduating college.
I also had picked up a very bad coffee habit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good cup of coffee. I used to call it a “cup of happy” but I was drinking multiple cups before 11:00am and it was all wearing at my heart. I woke up one night to my heart pounding and realizing no one was there to help me so I drove myself to the emergency room.
There I sat for a few hours hooked up to an EKG machine that didn’t record anything so I was sent home to check in with my primary care doctor the next day. The down side to it all was that I didn’t have a primary care so I had to find one. When you’re young, you don’t think about this type of stuff.
I ended up having to see a heart specialist and wearing a heart monitor for a month. Thirty whole days. I had to wear multiple little electrodes or sticky pads attached to parts of my body, every single day to record the rhythm of my heart.
The stressors at work didn’t stop and I was also forced to start seeing a therapist. I had already changed my eating. I was the smallest I had ever been in years, I think I clocked in around 145-150 lbs at a size 6.
Every Friday, I had a standing appointment for at least two months. It was my little secret and a way for me to figure out my life. It also gave me a reason to get out of work early.
Another step I implemented was to reduce the amount of coffee I drank a day (or at least the strength) and start to plan “fun stuff” in my daily routine. I reminded myself of the saying “Remember to schedule your joys because your pain will schedule itself.”
During these years, was when I really started to assess what I allowed in my life and the relationships that didn’t work. I ended some relationships and became celibate and decided that living across town from everyone was one of the best decisions I could’ve made.
Looking back at all the mental anguish, almost ten years later, I still implement some of those same strategies except I live further, I don’t argue and I don’t have to hide anything. You either accept me for me who I am or you don’t. It was the exact turning point that I needed and those are just a few of the boundaries that I’ve created for myself.
Today, when I find myself drinking a cup of coffee it’s because it’s simply for my own pleasure. Some days it hurts to think about how much I’ve changed but what if I had remained the same?
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