08 January 2012

When Failure is Good

Post originally written 19 December 2011.  I hesitated posting it because it's very personal, but this is a part of my story and I feel like sharing it with you.  After all, it is my blog and the blog is an expression of me.  Have a wonderful day!

I believe that there can be something beautiful in failure.  It's a lesson you wouldn't have otherwise learned and, sometimes, that may be something positive and necessary in life at that moment.  

I have provided part of my life experiences in the past few months to explain my reasoning.  I am not looking for pity in any way, I am simply offering a part of my story to you.

(via Pinterest)
Some Background
This fall was incredibly challenging for me for many reasons.  My classes have become increasingly more difficult (which is on purpose as each nursing class builds on the one before it).  Juggling school and the hospital became tedious.  I had no break between spring and summer semester and spent most of my days studying, at school, or in the hospital.  If I wasn't studying or sleeping, I felt like I was wasting my time and often felt stressed when doing things that weren't academic.

To be honest, I was exhausted.  Since March, I've just noticed a complete shift in my attitude and my ability to perform academically.  I have been non-stop since I graduated high school (school year round and some work on the side).  My family and friends were noticing changes and it became increasingly difficult for me to get out of bed, get motivated, find interest in things I once enjoyed, etc.  So, I went to get counseling.  It was easily one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Breaking Down
When I first started therapy, we were looking at skills to help me relax, deal with stress, work on my motivation, and help work through some emotions and feelings I was experiencing that I noticed were not normal for me.  With the fall semester, everything just seemed to spiral.  I would study for two weeks for each test in this one class and would still fail.  I've been a straight-A, overachieving, never-miss-a-class, loved-everything-I-was-learning student all of my college career and the failures were like this blow on top of everything else.  My teacher advised me twice that I should drop the class, but I didn't, thinking that I knew the information and I enjoyed the subject, so it must just be a fluke.  It wasn't, my friends.

My depression became full-blown.  I couldn't pull myself out of my "rut."  I had less of an appetite, my sleep was affected, I found it increasingly difficult to focus, I had no energy or interest in things, I was irritable and sad, and I constantly struggled with feeling worthless.  I even pulled away from everyone.  (But, don't worry, I never had any suicidal or homicidal ideations!)

On top of that, I've been experiencing shortness of breath since the beginning of the summer and around September-October, it was getting to really affect my quality of life. There were times when my bedtime routine became what seemed like a vigorous exercise.  I had been to the doctor several times for analysis and x-rays.  The x-ray revealed what seemed like bronchitis, I was treated as such, but felt no relief.  On November 19th, when at a 12-hour hospital shift, I repeatedly had bouts where I couldn't breathe and I went to the ER, with my mother and Duncan at my side.

Upon receiving another failure in the one class, and not for lack of trying in spite of my episodes, I spoke with my family, my advisors, my therapist, and the university to see what I can do.  Fortunately, everyone was supportive and I was able to make arrangements for the semester and for the continuation of my program plan.

Now I finally had the time to focus on what was and is most important: my health.  I needed to get better: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally... holistically.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. ...learn from me, for I am gentle
and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
- Matthew 11: 28-29

Lessons
Though I felt like a failure in the beginning of all this mess, I quickly realized that sometimes knowing and accepting what you cannot do is a good thing.  It is positive and healthy.  It is not a failure; it is a decision that was not arrived to light-heartedly. Focusing on yourself is not selfish, it is healthy and often necessary for the human condition.

We are not created to be perfect.  We are created for many things, but being the "perfect" being is not one of them.  We are, in my opinion, called to be the perfect version of ourselves, or as much as possible.  We are given struggles, obstacles, and tragedies to help define us, to teach us something, and, as an attempt sometimes, to bring us closer to our true self and our Creator.  

I learned a lot this semester and found myself redefining my life in valuable ways.  You see, I had all these plans for after I graduated (which was supposed to be in May 2012 before the wedding) and for what I was going to do with my nursing degree.  I love nursing and I love the opportunities it presents.  But, I was planning my future way too much and my high-expectations and type-A personality were breaking me down, not building me up.  I had the mentality that I had to get straight-A's so I can graduate at the top of my class, have a competitive resume, do medical missions around the world, get in to graduate school and ultimately get my Ph.D and lead my own research team for the CDC (still a dream to work for the CDC by the way!) and study diseases, bacteria, viruses (yes, I am a dork and love microbiology).  

Duncan and I often had serious (and frustrating) discussions about this because I was putting these dreams of mine ahead of him, our future family, and, most importantly, ahead of God and His plans for me.  I often thought that my education was more important than anything -- and though it is still important to me, I definitely wouldn't say it is more important than anything.  

I was incredibly humbled this semester.  I realized that though I love those dreams of mine, the only thing that will ever make me happiest in my life is going down His path for me.  Sure, other paths will provide me some amount of happiness, but not as much happiness as the one in which I follow Him completely.  He knows my future, my mission, and He knows me better than I know myself.  I can't dictate my own mission to Him and expect great results all on my own.  But, He can.  

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future."
- Jeremiah 29:11

Though I am still working on my physical health (still have yet to find a cause for my shortness of breath and I am working with a pulmonologist), my mental and emotional health has improved dramatically.  There are things I am doing now that I haven't done in a year or more and I am so happy (something I haven't felt to this degree all in 2011).  It is unfortunate how this affected my program plan, but I continue to find so many blessings that have risen from all of this.


3 comments:

  1. Amy, thank you so much for sharing this testimony. I think that verse from Matthew 11 is so amazing and I am so happy for you that you have an understanding that the best thing to do is follow God's path.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Amy. I too have suffered from depression and anxiety and I think thats His way of telling you to slow it down a tad. It was definitely a good thing that you listened. Im happy that you found the help that you needed and are taking it easy. His plan is the only plan.

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  3. So I'm behind on my blog reading. I'm so glad that you posted this! I'm also a type-a personality and struggle with having to be perfect. It is very humbling when your plan is not HIS plan. This is real. And this is you. There is no shame in any of that.

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xo, amy