Well, where do I begin? Mental health is one of the hardest things to talk about, but definitely one of the most important.
I was 29 years old, I had 2-year-old and a 10 month-old, and I was working part-time to look after them. I was stretched so thin emotionally, I didn’t know what to do. I was struggling and didn’t know who to turn to. Everything and nothing was wrong at the same time. I was so irritable and impatient with the kids, all jokes aside, I was literally ‘in a glass case of emotion‘. Every time I tried to open up to Chris (my husband) I would get to a point where I didn’t know how to explain myself anymore. I could not continue like this, I needed help.
I was going to start this post, as I thought it would help organise my thoughts, as it did when I was younger. However, every time I tried to start, I couldn’t get the words out. There was so much going on in my mind I couldn’t pinpoint one idea, one emotion, one thought to focus on. It was then, I truly knew that I needed REAL help. I decided to go to the GP to discuss my options for the way I was feeling. I told him that I felt that I was drowning. Every little task seemed to overwhelm me. I would think about something I needed to do weeks in advance and become wrought with anxiety. My chest was constantly tight, I couldn’t sleep, I would either overeat or not eat at all, my stress and anxiety were running my life.
He asked me when this all started to happen. I thought back and to be honest, it has been years. Even since high school, I would have stress and anxiety, but at the time it was a healthy amount. It allowed me to study and get my work done, as even now, I procrastinate to the nth degree. When I started working full-time I could feel myself getting stressed over certain events I was managing or monthly deadlines for my paperwork, but nothing out of the norm.
Looking back, the big trigger was after I had my daughter, Olivia. Everything gave me anxiety. She was my first child, so I thought that it was normal. I would have thoughts of horrible things happening to us. I would think about terrible car accidents, or us getting mugged, things that would very unlikely happen. I had no idea that those thoughts weren’t part of parenthood, but actually a sign of Postpartum Depression (PPD). As the months went on and I began to get out more and meet other moms those feelings went away and I didn’t think much of it.
Fast forward 22 months and my son, Henry was born. It was quite clear from the beginning that something wasn’t right. He refused to breastfeed, he would throw up all day, cry in horrific pain and just wouldn’t settle. I kept telling the doctors that something was wrong, but they didn’t believe me. They told me that he just had colic and reflux and that it would get better. Well, it didn’t. It took five months, yes FIVE months of me advocating, crying, and fighting for someone to listen to me. Finally, he was diagnosed with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). This is where his body cannot digest the protein in the cow’s milk, and some children are worse than others. For Henry, we had five months, of screaming pain, constipation, and throwing up all day.
It was in those five months that I started to lose control. Not only did we move, so I didn’t know anyone, I still had to look after Olivia with this baby that I couldn’t make happy. I was his mother and I couldn’t ease his pain. I was hurting with him, mentally and physically. Once he got his diagnosis and he started to improve, so did I. I felt that I could bond with him for the first time since he was born. Even though I felt angry that I missed out on five months of him being happy and healthy, because no one listened to me, I was overjoyed that we were on the right path.
But, as time went on, those old feelings of anxiety over future events, or even leaving the house, the thought that I wasn’t a good enough mother or wife, that something bad was going to happen to us started to creep back into my head. These thoughts and feelings manifested themselves into something quite serious and real.
After I explained my life story to the GP, he diagnosed me with PPD and Anxiety. He prescribed me anti-depressant/anxiety medication and referred to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). After about four weeks on the medication and therapy, I started to feel like me. I felt more like me than I think I ever felt. I was able to open up and be happy around Chris and the kids. To go about my day without the constant pain in my chest, without the negative thoughts, was truly amazing.
However, the bliss only lasted so long before my self-doubt crept its ugly head into my thoughts, and no amount of medicine or CBT can fix that. The only thing that can fix that is my mindset.
I know between writing down all my thoughts and working on a positive mindset through reading and self-help lectures I will overcome my anxiety. I will not be defined by my diagnosis, and I hope to empower others that are struggling. Life isn’t easy, but I want to do more than just survive, I want to thrive! We only have this one life on Earth and we should spend it being happy with ourselves.
Although I am in a better place than I was 2 years ago, I still have my ups and downs. I’m feeling particularly anxious as of late and I couldn’t figure out why. Other than starting this blog nothing in my life has changed for me to have such bad anxiety. Then I thought about my last refill of my medication. I was given 50mg of my normal brand medication and 100mg of a different brand. I know that they should all be the same so didn’t think anything about it. But when I looked into it, it’s not uncommon for other generic medicines to have different non-active ingredients that can still effect you.
When I mentioned this to my GP he confirmed that this can be the case. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t taking a turn for the worst! They have ordered me the same brand that I am used too and just need to ride out the next two weeks until it kicks in again! Onwards and upwards.
Do you suffer from anxiety or any other mental illness? Do you feel that you have the right support? What helps you get through. I’d love to hear from you, so let’s connect.