• Alexa

Redefining Work


To start: I put this post into the trash about two weeks ago and now I have revived it.


To be honest I'm not totally sure if I have written about my diagnosis with dysthymia (also known as persistent depressive disorder) here on my blog before. The only thing I do know for sure is that I haven't written in the work category in over a year. And as much as that may seem to be a common trend, as the last two posts in that category were also a year apart, I think the issue here is that I need to redefine what work means.


Recently I have been hard on myself because during the first two years of my college career I typically worked two to four part time jobs at once, in addition to my classes and leadership roles. And this semester I have only been working one, which is babysitting. The amount of income I made this year has been less than what I made in 2017 and 2018 and to be honest, I have been feeling bad about it.


This year I have shifted my focus more to trying to figure out self care and self love. I have also been trying to become less anxious and recover from leaving what I thought was my dream job and then ending of my first long term relationship. I also really focused on school and got an A in 15/17 of my classes in 2019.


This year I also took on a new responsibility of becoming the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. I started meditating and I also have been exercising more frequently. With my Passion Planner I made goals and set out to achieve them. I didn't accomplish everything, but I still made progress. Throughout the year I also filled out the sections designed for reflection and there is really a lot of good to be grateful for this year.


Except there is this one thing that keeps coming back. And sometimes it causes me to feel exhausted, isolated, and I end up sitting for hours and doing nothing. Sometimes when I do this I get really anxious and worry a lot, except most of the time when I do this I can't think about or do anything. I feel stuck, out of control, alone and like it's never going to get better.


When I left what I thought was my dream job, in Fall 2018 I was diagnosed with dysthymia, which according to mayoclinic.org "dysthymia is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities."


Some symptoms of dysthymia as explained by mayoclinic.org are:

"Loss of interest in daily activities

Sadness, emptiness or feeling down

Hopelessness

Tiredness and lack of energy

Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling incapable

Trouble concentrating and trouble making decisions

Irritability or excessive anger

Decreased activity, effectiveness and productivity

Avoidance of social activities

Feelings of guilt and worries over the past

Poor appetite or overeating

Sleep problems"


As someone who has been trying to look for the positive in everything and tries to create fun and smile all the time, but sometimes it feels like pretend. And if I let all my negativity come out, I dislike that, and feel like a burden to others.


And if I'm really being honest here, that list of symptoms up there, since Fall 2018 I have experienced every single one of those. They change through time and it depends on the stressors I have at that point.


A lot of times in order to keep my generalized anxiety disorder under control I will try to spend a lot of my time working and socializing, except when my dysthymia comes through I don't feel like I have the energy or the ability to work or socialize and I end up doing nothing. It feels like I waste a lot of time and that I'm not doing enough.


I know I have covered multiple times before in other blog posts on the topics of being enough and progress. And I have declared to the world that I am enough because I say so.


Then I wonder why I'm feeling so down about why I didn't work enough jobs and make enough money this year. Perhaps it's the expectations that others set on me and then I put those expectations on myself. As for some reason I am still trying to please others. That maybe I am confusing the meaning of "to please" with "to help" and "to give".


Which takes me back to that job that I thought was my dream job and with the way it ended, I told myself I could never be a baker or food service person again. That working in the food industry wasn't supposed to be what I was meant to do. I told myself that I had to change all my career plans and dreams. That I couldn't do it anymore.


Why?


I let one place and one group of people decide that my fate in the food industry with food allergies was over. That I had to do something else. That I couldn't do it.


When I think of the idea of getting a new food service job, or even a job in a small business store front, I freak out. The concept of it is so connected to my previous experience that I think I can't do it. This year I said that I couldn't get another food service or retail job because of my commitments at school and hopes to improve my health. And yes perhaps that is setting a boundary, but it also may just be an excuse I have been using. As I am afraid to start over, have a new job, and fall in love with it only to have it suddenly become something I can't do anymore.


Really I am afraid of the word "work" and the word "job" and of course the word "career". And I tell myself it's because I don't know what I want. Which is okay.


Except for the fact that I do know.


Right now I want to continue to be a student, an editor-in-chief, a honor society board member, a TAG member, babysitter and a leader.


And this counts as work. It is my job right now and if I'm too focused on what I can't be for everyone else than I will never get to do the roles I am supposed to have now.


Every job, role, position, everything is temporary.


And I know what I'm working towards.


Two associates. Two certificates. A bachelors. A masters. My own book. My own company.


The ability to travel around and inspire others. To keep going. To not let what's marked "wrong with me" or "different about me" or "not enough about me" stop me from turning dreams into goals into reality.


So yeah I have food allergies. And anxiety. And dysthymia. And sometimes I hit really low points and I feel like I have crashed and burned. Sometimes I do nothing. Sometimes I can't stop crying. And sometimes the past comes back and I don't know where to put it. Why am I even holding it? Why did I even pick it up?


To redefine what work means I had to go back in time. And then fast forward.


In an industry where people think about what to eat all the time. I still belong there. In the section that's connected to food allergies, dietary restrictions, mental health, physical health, emotional health and the social experience and expectations of food.


To end: I pulled this post out of the trash because I realized that this was something that needed to be out there.


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