With mental health in the spotlight today, remember that we need to minimize wait times to make quality care affordable and available to everyone alongside the need to normalize discussions on mental health. So in sharing our stories today remember that talk is only a small part of change.
Every few years I feel like I’m starting all over again in life. I felt like that when I was learning how to plan a wedding, and again when I was learning how to find my footing as a new parent and most recently while learning how to run a business while maintaining a life as a mom. Between those big life changes come the smaller shifts. When nothing big in life has changed, but something inside is suddenly very different.
If you’ve been following along you know that last fall I hit a major breakdown in my work/life balance and had to rearrange our lives to do things differently. It all seemed to be looking up going into Christmas, but what you haven’t heard about yet is the rock bottom low that I hit in January. It has been a terrible month of anxiety and tears, and uncertainty. In the spirit of helping others and of #BellLetsTalk day, I am being open about it and have been sharing with anyone who takes the time to listen. I have no history of mental health issues, and aside from the patches of general unhappiness that sometimes creep into the lives of busy working couples there is nothing that I could point to as a catalyst for this. All I know is that one morning just a few days into the new year I cried all day long and it spiraled quickly down from there.
What followed were two weeks of constant weepy crying – not sadness, just crying – and an endless loop of rambling obsessive thoughts about things that happened years ago and are far out of my control today. I was sure that I had ruined my husband’s life by marrying him, and lamented over decisions made and friendships lost decades ago. These were things I’ve rarely thought of through the years and some hadn’t even crossed my mind until now – it was really the strangest things that I latched onto. It didn’t matter what I tried, I couldn’t break free from the obsessive loop of thoughts until my chest felt like it was going to explode and I cried myself to sleep.
After two weeks of exhaustion and confusion, my husband and I sat to talk. I could barely handle being be home with the kids, I was a walking zombie at the end of my rope and able to recognize the fact that these thoughts were not my own, and that the weepiness devoid of sadness and emotion was a massive big red flag. I poured my miserable little heart out and we came up with a plan of self care to be followed shortly by a visit to my doctor.
Since I have a history of iron anemia paired with vitamin deficiency, we decided to start there. We changed our diet completely and added a full set of vitamins and daily workouts. For good measure we’re ripping the house apart to get rid of the clutter that tends to bring me down on a good day, and completing renovation projects in hopes of finding some combination of lifestyle changes that will help me get back to feeling more like myself.
Fourteen days into our massive lifestyle overhaul and I am just starting to feel better than I have in a long time. The past two days have been good mentally with a few mild episodes, but it’s such an improvement over the weeks prior. Physically my body is noticeably stronger, my mind is sharper and I’m not taking that for granted – we’re watching very carefully; reevaluating every day. So far so good. Something seems to be clearing the fog, and my thoughts and emotions have been nearly back to normal. I don’t know if this will be a part of my life going forward, and I don’t know what triggered this event, but I do know that a medical appointment and full blood work panel are in the works. I want to better understand the changes I can make to live a healthier life and that includes taking better stock of my emotional and mental health from now on.
Nearly everyone that I’ve shared my story with this past week has given me assurances of “me too” and they have all trusted me with their story. We need to keep the conversation going and raise awareness, because until it happened to me just a few short weeks ago, neither my husband or I even know the signs and symptoms we could have caught. So today, share and get involved with #BellLet’sTalk. Let’s help other moms, dads, business owners, adults and teens alike know that they are not alone, and that we’re here to listen. And that most of us have a story of our own.