I have never given much thought to the trips that I take until recently when a colleague mentioned that I took "a lot of vacations". I was a little surprised by the comment mainly because I didn't think anyone paid much attention to the things that I do. And secondly, because the "vacations" that she spoke of were mainly just mini getaways or day trips.
Now, first thing is first, I make no apologies for what I do in my own time and with my own money. But it got me thinking about how people can form an opinion of someone without truly knowing their entire story.
All this person saw was that I take a lot of trips and spend a lot of time away from my office. What she doesn't see is the reason why.
She doesn't see the years that I spent as a workaholic spending nights and weekends in my office striving to meet the impossible expectations of my clients. She doesn't see the often 60+ hour work weeks as I barely had time to stop for lunch or dinner. She doesn't see the evenings that I missed my kids practices or events because I was at the office taking care of something "extremely important". And she certainly doesn't see when it all came to a screeching halt as I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and almost lost my life.
No, those are the moments that she certainly doesn't see but moments I would readily share if asked. You see, I have been there in that dark tunnel trying to scratch my way out believing that my importance was somehow tied to the job that I kept. I never took sick days. My vacation days accumulated every year.
And for what? So I could watch my hair start falling out because of the added stress of the job? So I could miss out on some important moments in my kids life where they really wanted mom to be there to watch them? So I could end up at that cemetery fighting the darkness planning how to take my own life?
It suddenly became very clear - when faced with life or death - that none of this was worth it. The only thing important in my life is my God and my family and everything else can follow behind. I had to stop. Or I would die.
So I made a change. As I learned more about this condition of clinical depression, I learned coping skills and one of those coping skills is knowing when to rest. And as someone with a Type A personality, learning to rest doesn't come easily. But I had to do it if I was going to save my life.
I learned very quickly that trying to take a few hours off here and there just didn't work for me because I always found something that needed to be done at home. I needed to "go away" in order to truly find the rest. And my trips are certainly not extravagant. A day trip to a water park. A weekend with my girlfriends at a cabin in the woods. A concert with my husband. Or a mother/daughter beach visit.
But each trip brings back my stability - they are my much needed "mental health days". I have to have them and I make no excuses for them. I still work hard but I have found a balance that keeps me sane and away from the darkness that once engulfed my life.
And just remember, before you start to assume anything about someone - make sure you know the full story first. I never cast judgment on anyone's life because I don't know the battle they have fought just to get where they are.
Love always wins, my friends. Now off to plan my next adventure.......