I really don’t know how it happened. I had some physical, hormonal and emotional stressors early in the summer, which apparently became the perfect storm for an emotional breakdown. My anxiety, which has been a part of me for decades, erupted full force and consumed all of me. It so consumed me that I was unable to function. I stopped eating, sleeping, engaging with the world and felt panicked almost constantly.
On this journey, I have discovered that mental health issues are far more difficult to get a handle on than physical issues, and far more painful. Answers and cures are elusive. But even as I wage this war against my own mind, I realize that I have much to be grateful for.
1. I am grateful and stunned by the number of people who contacted me privately to tell me of their own struggles. Mental health issues are ubiquitous, so much so that it is challenging to get appointments for help because doctors are so busy.
2. I am grateful for an absolutely incredible support system that starts, but does not end, with my family. There are actually no words for how incredible my husband has been. Holding my hand, reassuring me, driving me to appointments, staying up with me countless nights, finding patience for me again and again. My kids, mom and mother-in-law have also been amazing, and their compassion and love has sustained me. I am grateful to be able to rely on my sons, especially my 17-year-old, who has pitched in without complaint and become a man almost overnight. I know this hasn’t been easy for any of them, but they have risen to the challenge.
3. I am grateful for and overwhelmed by the love and support of my extended support system of friends and acquaintances. During this time, through my distress, I have been able to feel, if not always acknowledge, the help from friends and family. I thank everyone who has called, texted or written to inquire about me. I thank those friends who have driven me places when I have not been able to drive myself and been there for me without judgment. I appreciate every gesture, even if I haven’t been able to answer. I’ve had limited ability and energy to reach out but despite that the calls and messages keep coming.
4. I am grateful to have the resources to explore many different kinds of therapies. Here are some of the things I’ve tried thus far; medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Hypnosis (really), meditation, yoga, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), functional medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture. I will weigh in at some point on what helped me the most. Voodoo medicine is not out of the question. And I am mindful that I am extremely lucky to be able to pursue various remedies and to focus on getting well.
Trying to heal has been a full-time job. But just knowing people are out there and are willing to help is a comfort. If you have a friend who is going through something like this, please continue to reach out to them even if you get a tepid or no response. Even when I don’t acknowledge them, friends’ messages mean the world to me. Mental health issues really do take a village.
I hope that by discussing this openly, I can help someone else who is keeping their struggles to themselves. I hope to write at length about my experiences someday soon but I’m still in the middle of this journey I had no desire to take. I know that I can only reflect when I have some perspective and I’m not there yet. I am still battling to find my way back.
I have newfound compassion and respect for anyone who has ever struggled in a similar way. I hope to come out the other side stronger than I was before and be a voice and advocate for others. I hope someday people can openly say, “me too” about their mental health challenges.