Braving Anxiety & Depression
Fighting for my children, and my right to a good life.
The first time I was admitted to the hospital I was terrified.
I was a 35 mother of two amazing children (two and five) and wife to a wonderful kind man, but I lost myself somehow. I woke up every morning lost and overwhelmed with my life. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't stop my brain from focusing on my own death to find relief from the sadness and hopelessness I felt most of the time. The psych ward is terrifying. There were more than 25 people locked up with me. I knew I needed to be there for my own safety but it was scary to be locked up....with 'crazy people'. One woman screamed all day and night long. Many ignored their hygiene and I had a difficult time eating anything due to the odour of Body odour that always lingered in the air. It was a scary place to be! There were always people yelling and I was triggered by EVERYTHING there. My husband couldn't understand why I wasn't getting better but it's because I figured out this is where I belonged and that fact still terrifies me. I wouldn't start to really get my life back until almost a year later. I met a few friends in the hospital. It was so encouraging to not feel so isolated by my depressions and anxiety. I could be honest and these people were not judging me. A symptom of my depression and anxiety is that I experience hyper-sexuality. I am always sexually triggered and until this point was able to control my sexual urges. When I left the hospital I presented in the emergency department an hour after I was discharged. I wasn't ready to go home but they needed my bed so I was discharged and waiting in the emergency waiting room I nearly overdosed on Ativan and Zopiclone. It was my lowest point. They wouldn't admit me due to space and encouraged me to come to day program the next day.
I felt like they just wanted me out of their hair and that my life didn't matter as much as everyone else's. I felt like a bother, a pain In the ass. I made the decision right then and there to save my own life. To do whatever it took to stay alive for my children and do whatever it took to stop thinking about death and dying. So, I gave in to temptation and had an affair. I deeply regret hurting my husband, but I was fighting for my life. I was drowning and from under the surface, the affair was the only thing close enough for to me to grab at to pull me out of the pit. And for a time, it worked. It was the release I needed in so many ways and I felt like a normal person again. Until I started to get better and felt the guilt. I broke off the affair but the damage had been done. I left my husband as I was discharged the second time in a few months. My meds were changed but that was the only thing I felt they 'did' for me.
My anxiety makes me throw up every day. Often, multiple times a day. I lost about 100 lbs after my first stay at the hospital. I returned to the hospital a second time because my thoughts again could not be redirected from my focus of my own death and death in general. It's terrifying to think all day about your own death. To think about how to say goodbye to your kids. No one should have to think about this but many people do. I lost nearly all my friends during my second stay at the hospital. I became "too much" for my best friend. My closest relative judged me and the news of the affair got out and I was left in a hole deeper than the first.
I know I'll always struggle with my mental health but I'm determined to keep living, to find treatment and answers in case my children have to fight this fight. I need to be here to help them. I kept wishing I had cancer instead of mental health issues. People are kind to people with cancer. Isn't that sad? I wish I was dying from a horrific terminal disease because at least the disease kills you instead of leaving you suffering with people standing over you just telling you to shake it off, think about happier things, name 10 things they are thankful for.
I need to be here to help them. I kept wishing I had cancer instead of mental health issues. People are kind to people with cancer. Isn't that sad? I wish I was dying from a horrific terminal disease because at least the disease kills you instead of leaving you suffering with people standing over you just telling you to shake it off, think about happier things, name 10 things they are thankful for.
I'm angry I have to struggle with this. I'm frustrated no one could really 'help me'. I hate that I have to pay $150 of money I don't have because I'm not working to see a counsellor every two weeks just to maintain some normalcy. I started doing EMDR. I think it's helping but who really knows?
I wish my life was different but it isn't. This is the hand I was dealt. I'm trying everyday to live. It's a choice but I don't always have the strength to do the hard work every day. There are good days and bad days. On bad days, I let myself sleep or do what I feel like I need to do for myself. It's so hard to explain a 'bad day' to someone who doesn't have them.
When I think about my identity, I grieve. I was a different person before I got sick. I was a respected professional in my field. I was a social worker and I loved working on innovative community development projects as well as child protection programs. I was a loving Mother and Wife, beloved sister, cousin, friend, daughter, niece and granddaughter. I had a beautiful home and my partner and I were genuinely content. Then, I got sick.
I have lost my professional identity due to an inability to work. The anxiety has become so severe, I vomit many times every day. My doctor and I have tried many pharmaceuticals as well as EMDR, counselling, CBT, DBT, Day treatment, Admission to hospital with no success at stopping the physical symptoms my anxiety brings. I have been sick for six years. Few friends have remained in my life. I have withdrawn feeling guilty for continually becoming ill and cancelling plans last minute. My partner and I separated after my second admission to the hospital. My guilt for the negative impact of my illness on our lives was too great.
I was a semi professional gospel singer. My anxiety prevents me from seeking out opportunities. Somehow singing doesn’t bring me the joy it used to, and I grieve that too. I miss my optimism. You know that ‘bubbly person’? The one who knows everyone, who loves and is loved by many? I used to be that person but being sick has robbed me of joy and hope. I grieve the person I was, however I cannot allow myself to be beaten down and feel hopeless again. My children need me.
I continue putting one foot in front of the other because I must. I choose everyday to be brave. I need to be here to help them in case they have to face this beast. They will not face it alone. I will be brave because I must.
My story is not over. I feel like I am starting a new chapter. One that acknowledges my illness and the impact it has on my daily life but still allows me to keep engaging in life instead of isolating myself and silently suffering. I will keep fighting and trying new therapies and medication hoping to find the combination that makes me feel like myself again. I will keep telling myself not to lose hope and I will be brave and live this life every single day. For my children and myself, I will be brave, every single day, I will make the choice to be brave and live this life.