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My Mental Health Journey

So many ways to look at mental health.

Bell’s Let’s Talk Day is January 28. I wanted to share my journey with you in hopes that it will help even one person.

I want to say my mental health journey started after I had my first child but I am pretty sure it was long before that.

Vector illustration of mental health concept with brain, flowers, helping hand

As I have thought about this post for a few weeks now, it is challenging to put it into words. I will start with… I have depression and anxiety and I am self ADHD diagnosed.

Being a child of divorce (at age 11), I am pretty sure it started there. Puberty is kicking into high gear, my emotions are all over the place, there are boys in my world… and then my world falls apart. I learn that my Dad isn’t the hero I thought he was and that my family is being split into two.

My family has a long history of depression but as I child I did not see it. I turned to food when I was younger (and still do at times) when I am feeling down or bored or anxious or angry or… I could go on. I bite my nails, I escape into music or books or movies… anything to take the pain away. I have not gone down the road of drugs or alcohol abuse and for that I am thankful.

I remember watching my sister go through horrible post-partum depression with her kids. When I was pregnant with our first child, I asked my husband to watch for the signs because he would see it sooner than I would. And I, of course, had my sister watching out for me too.

With our first child, I went back to work when they were three months old as my husband had been laid off. I was too busy working to see if any of the post-partum depression was hitting me – looking back though – I can see if. With our second child, I was off of work for the year – it was HORRIBLE! I love my kids with everything I have but I was so ANGRY all of the time. My sister would gently talk to me about post-partum depression and each time I would look up the signs and symptoms online or an assessment and none of them talked about anger being a sign… they talk about withdrawal, not wanting to be around your child, but never about anger.

I got through the year at home and went back to work. I started to feel like myself again but something was still wrong. As a Christian, I remember thinking “I am not praying enough”, “I am not giving my problems back to God enough”. If was doing those things, I would not need medication. Well, I put God in a box and He busted through it. In a matter of 2 days, he sent 3 different people, at 3 different times, who are believers and who I trust to share their mental health stories and how medication helped them. Mental health issues are not talked about in the church enough if at all! This needs to CHANGE – but that is another topic for a later time.

Then it was the humbling visit to my doctor. My doctor is amazing! We have been through so much together. I remember going into her office and my body language was so closed off. She handed me the assessment and I said “I should be honest, right”… oh was I scared! After she came back and looked at the assessment, we started me on a low dose of an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) – these are the types of medications typically used in mental health. She told me I would probably not see the effects for 2 weeks – I took 2 DAYS… the voices in my head stopped, I could breathe again, I did not freak out over every little thing.

Fast forward a couple of months, I asked my husband if he saw a difference. He told me my moods are no longer up and down but much more steady. That was music to my ears!

After being a nurse for 30 years, you would think I would remember to take my meds… NOPE! I would forget and then the anger would come back… oy vey! I do not like what I am like when I am not taking my meds.

Fast forward again to March 2020… COVID-19 hits and the world is changed forever. Cities and countries are locked down; people have to adjust to work from home; and healthcare is changing on the daily. I was handling that OK. Adding my mother’s sudden death in July 2019 on top of that… I was doing OK as well. Then my child comes out to us as non-binary and pansexual and then I think I am doing OK still.

BUT… I am starting to have pains in my chest, my shoulders and my back… hmmm, what does that make you think of? Yeah… me too. Did I do anything about it… of course not. I am a nurse and I ignore stuff (dumbass that I am at times).

I finally call my doctor’s office to get an appointment but she is full. I speak to her nurse, get in serious crap from him, and get sent to an urgent care centre for tests. 6 hours later and my heart is fine – WHEW! I followed up with my doctor and she asked me how my GUT was doing? I’m like… mmmm, fine? She diagnosed me with esophageal spasms and put me on a PPI (protein pump inhibitor) and doubled my anti-depressant. WOW, what a difference that has made.

I write this to share with you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Mental health still has such a stigma around it. People do not want to talk about it at all. Well… I do!

If you are comfortable, I would love to have you share your mental health journey with me.


Published by Borealis Solutions

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2 thoughts on “My Mental Health Journey

  1. Thank you for sharing Shauna. I had no idea what you’ve been through. I believe through openness we can start to take the stigma away from mental illness. Both my husband and my oldest daughter struggle with mental illness but manage with meds and support.
    When you told through FB that Hannah was non-binary pan sexual you really inspired me with your unconditional love and and support. We so need love and acceptance, not judgement Thank you for being so real, and inspiring others how to love as Christ. 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

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