People who don’t know me all that well probably think I have my stuff together. I’m able to work a few days a week in a job I love, my children are relatively well-behaved when in public, and my house appears to be clean when we have company over. My social media accounts are full of happy, smiling faces…most of the time. But there’s a side to me that only my close family and even closer friends know. It’s the side that’s just trying to stay afloat. If you look at my face, you might see a relatively happy (albeit socially-awkward) person. But what you’d really be looking at is someone living with anxiety and depression.
For those outside of my “circle,” it doesn’t really matter the series of events that led to my break, but I do want to talk about how my anxiety and depression have manifested differently during different points in my life in the hopes of helping someone else.
At the beginning, it forced me to go to bed for the night at 6 p.m. It made my jaw hurt, my left arm numb, and my heart race. It landed me in the Emergency Room hooked up to monitors at 9 in the morning.
After I got married, it was obsessive behaviors, like checking and re-checking appliances to make sure they were turned off or checking the door to make sure it was locked. I would get out of my bed in the middle of the night, half asleep, to check everything again. It was doing everything at work in sets of five.
When I was a new mom, it was uncontrollable sobbing. I couldn’t sleep, even when I wanted to and had the opportunity. I cancelled all plans, wouldn’t let anyone in the house, and did the bear minimum to take care of my newborn son. It took everything in me to stick with breastfeeding.
When I started my career, I had fevers and joint pain, and even after tons of tests, no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I worked to the point of exhaustion, even though it wasn’t really required of me.
Now, it’s not being able to handle stress in the same way I used to. It’s snapping at my kids when they get too loud. It’s intense germophobia, and it’s obsessing about all of our bills, even though we always get everything paid.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. I have those bright spots.
I have way more bright spots than dull ones. I have my mom, who knows exactly what I’m going through. She is the voice of reason when I need it, and reminds me what I need to do when I can’t see all of the good things in front of me. I have my husband, who has been with me through it all. No one knows my entire journey more than he does, and although I rarely show it, I’m not sure I could do this life without him. I have my three crazy kids, whose smiles and love for each other is a joy to watch.
And there’s the thing that’s probably saved me more than once, and that’s medication. I know it can sometimes be controversial, which is what I don’t understand. If I had a broken arm, no one would tell me not to go get it fixed because it was “all in my head.”
Mental health is nothing to screw around with. Taking charge of mine encompasses so many facets, and one is medication. My brain chemistry is messed up and needs some help, and I’m more than willing to accept help where I can find it. Will I be on these meds forever? Maybe. But maybe not.
All I know now is that I need them to stay healthy,
To be there for my family,
To work in a job I love,
And to be able to do it all again tomorrow.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, there are places you can get help. Talk with your medical providers to find the support and course of treatment that is right for you or check out a few of the posts linked below.