Back in February Twitter opened their hearts and shared their stories for Bell’s Let’s Talk day, and then the conversation died. Around the same time, my world was collapsing.
Actually, my life began to implode sometime in November. I kept waiting for things to get better. I should have known something was up when I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christmas, because it’s my favourite time of year. My heart is usually bursting with joy and I’m that sick individual who counts down the last 100 days to December 25th. I didn’t feel it. I felt angry and numb instead. I didn’t put up my Christmas tree or decorate. I made one batch of chocolate gingerbread cookies, but I gave most of those away.
Around the beginning of December I lost my appetite and developed insomnia. I told myself it was stress. I did not want to go to the doctor because I knew the first thing they would do was put me on medication and I’m a bit of a hippy when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Less is best.
I kept waiting for things to get better. But they didn’t. I told myself I would feel better once Christmas was over, but if anything, I felt worse. I told myself I was worked up over the anticipation of going back to school and things would settle down once I got into a rhythm. But they didn’t.
And then my friend passed away. It was the first time anyone my age had died. It sent me into a downward spiral. I was dealing with this crushing sadness and I didn’t know where to go from there. I felt helpless.
I was having a hard time at work, too. I didn’t tell my employer I was taking evening classes and my work was slipping because I was so tired from staying up every night to write papers and study. The few hours I spent in bed were broken, and many nights I just didn’t sleep at all because I couldn’t.
There was major upheaval in my husband’s company. There were times I had to ask him not to tell me any more because I just couldn’t handle it.
My relationships were falling apart and I began to withdraw from the people that love and care about me. I couldn’t exactly explain how I was feeling. There were nights when all I could do was sit in the bathtub with a drink to numb the sadness and anxiety.
And then my grandfather passed away. I can’t say it was unexpected, but it was one more thing to add to the burning pile of emotions I didn’t want to deal with.
Things were going to get better, I kept telling myself as I sat crying for no reason, almost every day. I’m tired and stressed out because of school/work/marriage/family/deaths/friends… it’s going to get better.
Except it didn’t. I started to run out of excuses for things. I finished school for the semester. My husband’s company was doing a lot better. My life was settling down and yet I wasn’t. The more stuff began to wind down the more anxious and sad I became.
And then I had an unfortunate experience online where a friend’s privacy was breached and several conversations between us were leaked. The information itself didn’t hurt anyone but us, but what followed did. My friends thought they were doing the right thing by standing up for me, but the things they said were misinterpreted and it ended up hurting other people. It was never the intention, but the fallout was huge. All they were trying to do was protect me. People were calling for my head to roll. I did my best to apologize to those I had unintentionally hurt, but it didn’t matter. Suddenly I felt very alienated from my online community. I had to step away because everything I said and did was being mocked by a small group of people who really had no idea what was going on.
That was the last straw for me. There was no longer one single aspect of my life that I was comfortable in. I felt like I had let everyone down. I felt worthless. I felt terribly alone. I had this crushing sadness. I wanted to throw my phone off of a very tall building, seemingly every notification was bad news or someone flipping out at me for my poor life choices.
I had a few full-scale meltdowns and anxiety attacks. The kind of anxiety where you think your heart is trying to escape your chest and you’re not sure if anything in your world is ever going to be right again. I dwelled in that place for a few weeks.
I finally admitted THINGS WERE NOT OKAY and I WAS NOT GETTING BETTER. I didn’t know where to begin to regain control of my life. I had no idea what I wanted or who I was anymore. I didn’t love who I had become and I didn’t know how to change things. I was overwhelmed and terrified I was going to fuck up the rest of my life. I hit my bottom and couldn’t find the way out of the hole I was in.
I made a critical choice and decided to talk to someone and GET SOME HELP. I accepted that I couldn’t do it on my own anymore and as much as I was leaning on friends and family, I needed something more.
Bottom line, every two weeks I sit down and meet with a qualified professional. Some days are better than others, but I’m having more good days than bad ones. Not everything is such a big deal any more, and I’m learning to take life one day at a time. I still struggle, but at least I don’t feel like the sun is never going to shine for me again.
Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you because on the outside- my life looks fantastic. I’m married, I own a home, I have a stable job, and I have a lot of friends and I’m living the dream. On the inside, though, I was going through hell.
We don’t talk about mental health, and I don’t know why. For me, it was one more thing for people to judge me for. I had a lot to be grateful for and I felt selfish for not being able to appreciate my life because it could be so much worse. It was thrown in my face a number of times. Depression and anxiety can hit anyone, and it often comes without warning. Instead of telling someone it gets better, shut up and listen to them. Maybe you know someone who is in my position, or maybe it’s you. Either way, you don’t have to do this alone.
Mental health is so important. Take care of it. You go to the doctor, dentist, optometrist, specialist etc. when things in your body aren’t working, so why are we so afraid to take care of our mental health? Why do we wait until everything around us collapses before we seek help?
It’s part of taking care of you and there is no shame in that.
I’d like to thank all of the amazing people who have rallied around me, especially over the last six months. There have been some awfully dark days, and without your love and support God only knows what would have happened. I borrowed your strength when I could not find my own, and I’m getting the help I need because you told me I was worth it, even when I felt like I was not. Thank you for loving me, no matter what.
Check out The Canadian Mental Health Association to find out more about Mental Health Week.