Not Myself

nicole bullock melancholySuppose I said
I am on my best behavior
And there are times
I lose my worried mind

Would you want me when I’m not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?

Suppose I said
Colors change for no good reason
And words will go
From poetry to prose 

And I, in time, will come around
I always do for you 

– “Not Myself” by John Mayer

The past year has been full of awesome highs and awful lows. I’ve had 6 months of physical struggle that’s been unlike any period of my life. I didn’t know when things would get better…but I’m finally feeling like I’m back on my way up. Here’s the recap.

For the first 5 months of 2013, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had lost over 120 pounds and had regained a zest for life that had been dormant for a long time. My professional life was on fire and I was getting opportunities to be in the media, to speak at events, and recognition for my career that I’d worked for most of my adult life to achieve. I was feeling fulfilled, lively, creative, and happy. But I began pushing myself far too hard.

smcslc board ladiesWhen people describe me, they often say that I am “dependable” because I show up at so many events. I am guilty of  FOMO (fear of missing out) to my detriment. Working as a social media professional, I feel the responsibility to be everywhere possible to connect, network, gain knowledge, and have fun. Between work, serving on the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City board, church responsibilities, family time, and keeping an active lifestyle, many days I was on the go for 18 hours straight.

In April, Taylor was transferred to Detroit. After 4 years of commuting to SLC, we decided it was time to relocate our family to Detroit. On top of all my work and social obligations, I threw myself into a very dedicated job hunt. For the first month, I was getting a lot of responses, interviews, and positive feedback. I had a feeling I’d be accepting an offer soon, and made tentative plans to move to Detroit during the summer. Now it’s October and I’ve had no offers. And we still live in Utah.

Within a few weeks of my job hunt, with a pretty enthusiastic response, I suddenly felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I felt fatigue and anxiety beyond any other time in my life. I started cutting things out of my life trying to desperately hang on to what was important – my job, my family, and my health. But no matter what I did, I never seemed to be able to tackle my health. I went from being completely diligent to hardly functional. It was hard to make it through an 8 hour work day, and I often went straight to bed when I went home. I didn’t feel creative and I felt like a failure. But I kept pushing along. And I got better at saying “no.”

Most of the summer, I felt depleted. I gained a few pounds back, and it was frustrating. I tried to jumpstart my metabolism by more sessions at the gym, and would feel dizzy within 10 minutes. I saw several doctors, had lots of lab work done, and no sense could really be made out of my fatigue. I had a feeling that I was suffering from mono, but my “mono-spot” lab test came back negative.

I was struggling, but not in a way that a typical “depressed summer” goes for me. I know the point when I need to see a therapist, and I never got to that point. I looked to alternative means to handle my stress and anxiety. The last week of August, I went to a yoga class with some of my neighbors. It was my first time doing yoga, and I ended the class feeling strange. By the next morning, a gland in my neck swelled up so big that it was difficult to swallow. The sore throat persisted for days, and I eventually went to urgent care to find out what was wrong. I was diagnosed with a peritonsillar abscess, was given IV antibiotics and steroids, and was told to return to my doctor if it hadn’t improved in a few days.

And it didn’t improve. I spent the better part of the month of September suffering, seeing my primary care and ENT physicians, missing work, sleeping, mixing up medications, and trying to get the pain and discomfort under control. As the abscesses were under control, I developed the worse sinus infection of my life. As the sinus infection improved, I developed viral tonsillitis and tested positive for infectious mononucleosis. The tests indicated that I’d had an active round of Epstein-Barr virus for 5 months, and it was causing all of the throat issues. I finally had an answer for why I was so freaking exhausted – I DO have mono. And because the infections were viral, antibiotics would not help, only a tonsillectomy.

At this point, I was laid off from my job. As if 5 months of illness wasn’t enough, one more major stressor was added to the list.

I had two conferences on my calendar, and decided that I didn’t want to miss them and lose out on the money invested. I went to Atlanta for Type-A Parent conference, where I was nursing a recurrence of another peritonsillar abscess. I went to urgent care in Atlanta and was told by the doctor that my “throat looks like a horror movie,” and I needed my tonsils out ASAP. But immediately after Type-A, I had a paid speaking gig at the ObesityHelp National Convention in Anaheim.

tonsillectomy preopI scheduled the tonsillectomy for the first date my surgeon had available, and tried to not push myself too hard on my travels. I returned from California on Tuesday, and went under the knife for the adenotonsillectomy on Thursday. Today I’m on post-op day 2, and it’s been pretty brutal. I knew that the recovery from an adult tonsillectomy is much more difficult than on a younger person, but it had to happen. I’ve been surviving on ice packs, sipping icy drinks, cool mist humidifiers, sleep, Lortab, and limited soft foods.

The plus side of unemployment is that I have endless time to recover. I don’t know how soon I’ll feel like I could survive at day at the office, but it’s nice to not have to hurry back. I’ve thrown out another batch of resumes for open positions in Detroit, and am hoping to catch the eye of a potential employer soon. Once I’m feeling ready, it will be time to fly out to Detroit, look at neighborhoods, house hunt, go to networking events, and prepare for the next move for our family. After 7 months of job hunting from Salt Lake City, it’s hard to know if I’ll get a job without moving there. We’re going to make a leap, we may move before I have a job, and are running on faith.

It’s going to be difficult, especially after not feeling like myself for so long. But I think I feel ready to give the next chapter of life a try. I am confident that now that my tonsils are out, the viral infections will subside and I’ll be back to myself again. The optimistic side of me things it will only take a week or two to bounce back. I hope I’m right.