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.
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.