In my former life as an administrative nurse, I once worked for a man who used to advise me whenever I got flustered to “eat the elephant one bite at a time”. In other words, don’t try to get too far ahead of yourself, and don’t freak out—it’s OK not to be able to do everything RIGHT NOW. I’ve never forgotten that, and never has it been more appropriate than it is nowadays.
Trying to figure my way around this new venture of mine is like peeling the layers of an onion: just about the time I think I’ve gotten to the essence of it, another layer just begs me to tug on it and see what lies beneath. My fellow newbie has already decided he’s bitten off more than he can chew and is leaving at the end of the week; but even though I’m a little discouraged myself at the complexity of what I’ve gotten myself into, I still have this idea that with time and a LOT more training, I just might be able to do this.
It didn’t seem like it on Monday when this first survey began, but already there is some logic to the process, and if I can see logic in something I seldom have trouble following it. Besides, everyone I’ve talked to says it takes at least 2-3 years to become confident in the surveyor role, so there’s no expectation that I’ll “get it” in only a few months. Which is a really good thing, because I haven’t been THIS green since I was a new grad RN almost two decades ago.
But as nervous as all of this still makes me, one thing continues to amaze me: I am having NO symptoms. Zip. Zilch. Nada. My sleep routine has been a little upset by the particulars of the job, but I simply adjust my bedtime to accommodate the need to be up earlier than usual, and so far it’s working. I think the key is getting enough sleep, and I’m doing that. The reward is increased flexibility AND a stable mood…..what could be better than that?
Honestly, as stressful as this whole business is (and will undoubtedly continue to be for some time), something has crossed over in me……a paradigm shift, if you will. It wasn’t so long ago that I was complaining about feeling diminished, as if I had nothing of value left to offer the world, and that my best days were in the rear-view mirror. Bipolar was taking over my life, costing me dearly in terms of self-worth and economic viability, and I was—I thought—powerless to stop it.
Now, most days I hardly even think about it, except when I take my meds and, of course, when I write a blog post. I’m too busy trying to learn and absorb new things to waste much time mulling over my condition, which I’ve researched and analyzed to death in the two years since I was diagnosed. And I think the structure Dr. Awesomesauce talked about so often before I went back to full-time work is EXACTLY what I needed to separate my self from what was going on in my head.
Don’t get me wrong—I know bipolar disorder is a part of me, and I ignore its existence at my own peril. I have no leeway whatsoever as far as missing meds or skimping on sleep are concerned; the correct medications and adequate rest are the very reasons I’ve been able to get my life back! It feels SO good to think like a ‘normal’ person again, to be able to remember a few things (without sticky notes!) and focus on what I’m doing without being quite so easily distracted. I still can’t manage a book, although I can stick with a fairly lengthy magazine article nowadays…..yes, even the ability to read is returning slowly.
Still, I do have my limits, and as long as I don’t push myself too far, things should be pretty good. As tempting as it is in this new job—and this new life—to try to gulp down everything at once, I have to choose each and every day to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Yummy!