The 2012-2013 Market has drawn to a close, and we are on hiatus until September 7. This past Saturday at the Market was filled with both anticipation and nostalgia. Peggy at Scotty’s Produce summed it up well — “It feels like the last day of school!” It really did. While we were all mostly ready to enjoy a break from the heat and the early Saturday mornings, we also knew it would be hard to not see our friends for a month and to be out of our routine.
I’ve spent the past week reflecting on the joy the Market has brought to my life in so many ways. I’ve tried not to make this blog about me personally, my life, or my business exclusively, but I do want to express gratitude where gratitude is due. I owe a whole lot to the Market. In August, 2011, I started feeling crummy. Crummy turned into bad. Bad turned into awful. Awful quickly became terrible. And one day in October, 2011, I collapsed at work. I saw several doctors who ran all kinds of labs, reviewed all kinds of imaging, and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. Every measurement indicated that I was healthy and normal. But I’ve never in my life felt so far away from healthy and normal. There were days that lifting my arms to my keyboard at work felt like more than I had the strength for. There were days that laying in bed felt like it took too much energy. I tried hard to keep moving because if I sat still, I’d fall asleep, but I also didn’t have the energy to keep moving, and I hurt all over all the time. Eventually the doctors I saw decided that I had anxiety, that I was psychosomatic (i.e. my symptoms were real, but resulting from mental turmoil rather than a physical cause). I admit, I WAS anxious…but I was anxious because no one could figure out what happened to my life. The energetic, fun, and exciting life I was used to leading. Anxiety came secondary to all the physical stuff that went unexplained. I remember a period of what seemed like months when I’d say every day that I just wanted MY life back, or that I didn’t know whose life I was living, but it wasn’t mine. This all really started to look bleak just before my niece was born in February, 2012. I began to panic thinking that I had some rare mystery diagnosis that no one would figure out, and that I’d never get to have a quality relationship with my precious niece…something very important to me because I’ve been blessed with THE coolest aunts ever, and I really wanted to join the Cool Aunt Club. I finally saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with osteopenia resulting from low vitamin D. None of the doctors I saw before thought to check my vitamin or mineral levels! I was relieved that my diagnosis was so treatable — more time in the sun and daily supplementation — but it took a good 6 months of supplementation to even start to begin to feel like the person I was before.
Meanwhile, my anxiety continued. I developed depression resulting from my negative thoughts about all the time I’d lost to my illness. I felt foggy-headed all the time, tired, dizzy, short-of-breath, and achy. It was hard to do my regular job, and anything extra for fun was out of the question for a while. But when I finally started to feel better, I wanted to be out and about and catch up on all the things I’d been missing out on. One of the first places I went was to the Market. My good friend Jess from high school had recently become a vendor, selling her awesome jewelry through her business Stray Creative, which eventually became Here & Now Boutique. I had gotten back into sewing to make Christmas presents once I started feeling better, but I knew that Christmas would come and go and then I wouldn’t have much reason to sew and create on a regular basis. Jess was really encouraging of my start-up at the Market. With a purpose to create and a reason to be outside to get sun to improve my vitamin D (bonus!), I really began to feel like “I” was back and better than ever!
And better than ever I certainly am. I am better for having gotten to know all the vendors and customers I’ve met during this past season. I am better for having the experience of being my own boss and making my own decisions for my company. I am better for being able to contribute to my community and my local economy. I am better for having a place that I feel like I belong and where I can just be me without any judgment. I would have never expected to have gained so much from my Market experience, but in some ways, it saved my life. I had resigned myself to never getting my “old self” back. I had accepted that I would probably be tired and in pain for the rest of my life. The Market truly gave me a reason to push through in a positive way and get well — physically and mentally.
The Market has now become one of the major ways I take care of myself. I need the Market to help me balance out my regular week life. I absolutely love my job as a mental health counselor — helping others and seeing them grow is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But it can be difficult, even traumatizing, to listen to people’s stories all week. I’m glad I have the Market where I can focus on what I love doing and also enjoy being a part of my community, even if it’s in a small way.
I’m very much looking forward to an even bigger and better 2013-2014 Market Season! Each week at the Market seems to give me a booster dose of exactly what I need to keep doing well. I hope each Market vendor and customer finds even a portion of the joy the Market has brought to my life again. I will always be grateful.
Mark your calendars to come see us on September 7. We’ll be missing you in the meantime. Honest.