You’ve probably noticed this blog has been inactive for quite some time now, we had to take a break to help anxiety depression and sadness take a hike!
The Ugly Truth
It has been quite a year thus far! Many ups, but also many downs.
The ugly truth of it all is, I suffer from anxiety and depression. I’ve suffered since I was a young teenager, and I’ve never really shared my struggles with anyone. I’ve had many reasons for my unwillingness to share my struggles with family and friends, some included viewing my mental health as a weakness. For those that know me, know that I pride myself on being an especially strong, level-headed super mom. I couldn’t possibly let anyone know I was failing to be the image and person I portrayed on a daily bases.
For the most part, I hid my mental health fairly well, or so I thought. Looking back some of my moods and behaviours were probably a dead give away. The older and the longer I suffered in silence, the worse things got.
Mental Health Isn’t Always Invisible
That is if you recognize the signs and symptoms, but for the vast majority of us, we don’t recognize the signs of mental health and of those who struggle.
I am not an expert on the subject of mental health, but I can tell you about my struggles, and what I now see were obvious signs of my mental health failing me.
I would have a great job, and love where and whom I worked with, yet for days and often times weeks leading up to my shift I would stress out about going to work. So much so that I would cause anxiety attacks, my brain would start running through different ways of calling up work and explaining why I couldn’t come in that day. In fact, I had a random dream last night about coming up with a viable excuse for not going into work. I DON’T WORK! Crazy right?!
Slowly shutting my self in and avoiding social gatherings, when I am well and feeling great I am a social butterfly! I absolutely love a good get together, or an outing with friends or family. I adore road trips! “Have Coffee, will travel” is a saying my best friend and I always say when we plan random day trips. Yet when the anxiety and depression settled in and takes hold, I constantly look for reasons I should be homed instead. ” I really need to bathe the dog, wash the walls, and I am pretty sure the spider in the bathroom needs help to move.” Eventually, people quit asking me to take part in things, and really who could blame them, after all, I chose to help the spider move over a coffee date with my BFF.
Irritability for no apparent or obvious reasons, I can feel my self being annoyed with well. MYSELF as well as everyone and everything around me. Simple things as my own breathing could drive me insane! Don’t even get me started on the breathing of others! OR CHEWING UGHHHHHH (insert Hulk mode)
Some days, getting the kids off to school in the morning is all I can manage mentally, the remainder of the day I sit in PJ’s on the couch, knitting, surfing the internet, or just staring into space. All the while beating myself up for not accomplishing a damn thing all day.
Crash And Burnout
Shortly after the Christmas holidays, I fell into a deep depression, that I was not willing to admit to. I kept blowing it off as seasonal depression, wind down after the excitement of the holidays. And for a while, I truly believed that’s what was going on, in reality, though it was just the tip of the mental health iceberg.
Kevan claims he noticed my decline well before the holidays, and to be honest I couldn’t agree or disagree with him. Frankly, I’ve no idea when it hit, for me, it appeared out of nowhere. It felt as if I’ve been T-Boned and all I could do was hold on tight and go with the spin of the out of control vehicle.
I quit getting dressed, and spent most mornings vaping, drinking coffee, and staring at social media mindlessly. That quickly progressed to every day, I quit going to my classes and finding reasons to stay home and accomplish my many upcoming and past due class projects. When those didn’t get done, I would beat my self up and feel so overwhelmingly defeated and useless.
On one occasion, while driving in the car to my daughter’s much-needed Doctors appointment out of town, I had this overwhelming sense of anxiety and urgency to turn around and go home. Unexplainable to everyone else in the car, but I did not want anyone to keep going, I felt doom and dread as if something bad was going to happen. I insisted Kevan turn the car around and we go home. This was also the time I decided I was better off not driving, what if I was driving and had a massive panic attack and lost control? What if it happened while I’ve my children in the car? What if it happened and I caused an accident and harmed other people?
I can not even begin to explain to you the amount of fear I’ve and still have surrounding my panic and anxiety attacks. I became so afraid of every social outing, of every interaction with the outside world. I became a prisoner of my own mind, body and home.
To make matters much worse, we lost our best friend and companion, our Great Dane Lucy. It was sudden and unexpected as well as far too soon. Things became so bleak, Lucy had been my constant rock through a lot of my rough spots in life. I could count on her to curl up next to me, keep me warm, let me vent my problems, cuddle with, and make me laugh when life seemed to be kicking me down.
Link To The Rescue
The day we lost Lucy was the last straw for me, I knew I couldn’t sit around and let depression and anxiety take hold of my life anymore. I needed to be well again, my children and family needed me to be well again. I’ve to crawl out of the deep dark hole somehow!
I spent that afternoon crying and searching for dog breeders, knowing I wouldn’t and couldn’t last long without my constant companion around to keep me from laying in bed all day. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t replace Lucy, but maybe if I got put on a waiting list for a dog, I could have something to look forward to. Something to keep focused on in my mind instead of the complete sadness I was feeling.
Never in a million years did I expect the breeder I chose to contact me and ask me to come right away before the big storm was to arrive and pick up my puppy! I looked at Kevan, showed him the email, and we cried. Lucy had just passed that morning, what kind of monsters would we be to “replace” our beloved dog on the same day we lost her?! But deep down we both knew I needed this. So off we went to get our new fur baby, a funny thing happened on the hour drive to pick him up, I was not anxious in the car! I was not terrified to be in a vehicle, I was… excited? Happy?
We brought Link home, and my mood slowly started to change, I was now responsible for a baby who needed my constant attention. I began getting up in the morning, getting dressed, feeding the pup, going out for walks, bonding with him and talking to him about my problems. I decided that he would be my service dog, he wouldn’t let me be mopey, he would whine and cry and fetch a toy for me to play with when I tried!
I do NOT recommend a puppy as a solution to mental health! A dog is a huge decision and having one comes with many many responsibilities. They are not a temporary fix to any problems. Getting a dog is getting a family member for the remainder of his or her life.
Luckily for me this time, Link (my chocolate lab fur baby) was the small glimpse of light I needed to get my self back on track to well-being.
When the family began to ask about Link, and how we ended up with him so quickly after our loss, I began to speak out about my mental illness.
I began seeking help and support from medical professionals, friends, family and complete strangers. I also began educating my self, and being my own advocate. I quit letting myself believe mental illness was a weakness, instead I turned it into my Strength!
Getting Help And Healing
I found that by finally deciding to open up and be honest with not only myself but with others was the turning point in my recovery.
I spoke to my doctor, and we came up with a game plan for recovery, symptom aids, and prevention. Part of the plan included medication, which I am not a fan of taking for ANYTHING. Some of it also included investing myself and making myself a priority, yes my kids are important, but what good was I for them if I wasn’t well.
Exercising and begin eating healthier is part of my plan, and with time I’ve been improving my physical health slowly. Ensuring I was going for walks daily, and eating healthier foods was challenge number 1. When you suffer depression, you tend to quit eating or moving, this was my first hurdle to overcome.
Mental Feel Goods, do something or anything that made me feel good and accomplished, set one or two goals a day and make sure to smash them! No house cleaning did not count as a feel-good goal, this like reading books, or researching ways to overcome my illness did however count. I am very interested in natural health and meditation, that is how I came across Blue Mind.
I have always been drawn to water, we, of course, live in a city that is surrounded by the river and Lake Huron. I find it relaxing, peaceful and calming. I instantly feel better the moment I step near the waterfront or sit on the beach.
Blue Mind teaches about how to use water therapy as a part of the healing, and symptom-relieving of Mental Health.
I came across Blue Mind through a TED talk I was watching during one of may many days surfing social media. I’ve been using the relaxation of water unknowingly my whole life! Every time I was feeling down or upset I would turn to the waterfront to sit and relax and just be calm.
That’s what Blue Mind is about, learning to use water as a strategy in fighting stress, anxiety and mental illness. It’s not a cure, but it certainly helps. I highly recommend you check it out and get your free ebook!