A Mothers Journals of What It's Like to go Through Mental Illness
(anxiety and depression) When Life Couldn't Be More Perfect!
I am married to The man of my dreams, someone I grew up with from birth, who is my best friend, my sole mate, and everything else in between. I have two beautiful and healthy girls who are both kind and big hearted, smart and funny, gorgeous inside and out. I live in a beautiful neighborhood in a big gorgeous home, perfectly decorated with sparkling chandeliers and gray and white heaven of everything one would need and want. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the words, "what are you anxious or depressed about. Your life is so perfect. Some people have real worries."
Yes. This is true. But the misperceptions that anxiety or depression is a choice or are a result of your current life situation, is so far from the truth.
Below are some entries that I wrote over the past year while struggling with anxiety and depression. They were written at various stages of my journey and sent to those close to me.
An explanation to those I love for where I have been lately.
Over the past fifteen years I have struggled with an anxiety disorder. It is genetic as well as a result of childhood experiences that were difficult for my family. Some years have been better than others and some months and days have been wonderful and blissful. However, when my anxiety goes through a bad cycle, it can be very hard on me and my family. As a result of living with anxiety disorder, I have not always been able to keep up the dance of friendship or socializing as it takes all my energy just to keep up with being a mom and surviving the ride. I am not crazy, nor am I incapable or a bad person. I am simply someone who needs to listen to my body and know my limits. I am someone who needs to surround myself with people who understand. I do what I am able to do on any given day or moment. I am very proactive and do what I can to get better when things are tough. Lately, I have been going through one of my more difficult bouts of anxiety. It is hard and trying but I know that I will come out the other end again. I am blessed with the family I have and the support I get from my close circle of friends.
The fact that I have anxiety / panic to me has always meant I am different and it is something I have tried so desperately to hide. It is a part of me that I have always been afraid will be judged and lead others to think less of me. So what ends up happening to me is that I fight through every lunch, every dinner, every social event, just trying desperately to hide the symptoms if anxiety. In turn, I make them worse. But how does one take the time to let the fear and symptoms settle when they are being watched? This has been my battle. But I need this battle to end. I need to get comfortable with not carrying conversation on and taking a moment to breathe and relax and train my body and mind that everything is okay. My hope is that in time I will be able to do this and not feel judged when I need to take some space or a few moments.
So the other piece to this is that because I haven't been able to feel comfortable doing this thus far, I have avoided a lot!!! A lot of places, people, things, that now I will need to very slowly conquer and introduce again. I want each and every one of you to know that it was never personal that I avoided plans or seeing you or talking to you, it was my own inability to cope.
Your friend Jordy
Where am I on this journey?
The last three months have been by far the most difficult months of my life..... And I've been through some tough times but this took the cake. Over the last month I was put on four different heavy duty SSRI drugs that alter your mind and brain. I was given sedating drugs in order to just get through the symptoms of the other drugs and I was spending almost every day in some kind of therapists office, from psychiatrist, to psychologist, to CBT therapist, to meditation teacher. You name it, I was there fighting my hardest to get better. Unfortunately for me, my body was too sensitive for all those medications and I spent the last month having terrible reactions, vomiting daily, having insane body tremors, not being able to feel emotion (even lying next to my child), feeling like I couldn't move from a ball in bed or I literally wasn't going to make it. Most days I was trying so hard to tread but I was sinking! So how am I writing this? I am writing to tell you all that I am in day four of my head above water!!! Yay!!! This journey is not over but I am learning to swim again and for that, I am so beyond thankful! I couldn't have come this far without the best teacher in the world, my mom. And my husband and my girls and my sister and my step dad. I have a long way to go but I have learned a tremendous amount already. I've learned to appreciate every single small moment of joy. I've learned to be nonjudgmental of others. I've learned a lot about who I am and what I need. I've learned to nurture the introvert in me and stop playing the extrovert game in life. As a mom I've learned that no mother is perfect and that our kids are happy and can get through really rough times with love and good support. In fact, they have learned to be there for others and have learned compassion. I've learned to let go a little with my girls and allow others close to them and to me to help with the roles of motherhood. It does take a village. I've learned a whole lot in a short time and I look forward to learning more about myself and the world around me. I hope today when you read this, you will appreciate the small things even if it is just for today and that you will give yourself what your true self needs. Not the self that others know. The self that you feel you are. Thanks to each and every one of you for helping me to breathe again and get My head above the water. Whether it was a phone call to check in, an email, a hug when you saw me on the street to tell me how brave I was, or maybe it was your silence and giving me space that helped me through. Whatever you chose to do to help me, thank you.
Your friend Jordy
Falling and picking myself up again.
As I lay in bed last night putting my beautiful girls to bed, I found myself gripping the arm of one and rubbing feet with the other. Feeling so desperate to feel myself again. Breathing in every second of my ability to feel love for them. Tears just poured down my face while they were fast asleep. I stayed for about two hours just praying and hoping that I will be okay and one day my girls will have their mommy back stronger and better.
Why do I feel this way? Is it the medication that is changing my brain and making me feel so incapable of coping when things are not perfectly calm? Is it the anxiety and not the meds? Who knows? Everything starts to become so confusing. What's best for me? Medication or to at least know I am myself and in control somewhat? I don't know if there is a good answer. I have to admit I am feeling a bit hopeless these days.
I am trying so hard. Taking courses to keep my mind busy, meditating regularly, reading and knitting, seeing a CBT therapist, seeing a psychiatrist, and on and on and on!!!! I'm tired. I'm scared. I'm sad. But I'm a Mom! I need to get better for them so I know I will but I don't know how yet.
Going through mental illness without children is a terrible thing and a very difficult thing to get through. Having small children is another ball game! I am constantly worrying about how all of this is affecting them? Are they okay? I know that they are smarter than we think and they just want their mommy to be herself again. My four year old lay in bed beside me last night and said, " I wish I wish for my mommy to always be healthy. " My heart broke as mush as it could on meds that numb your feelings of compassion and empathy. While my older one just whines all day right now bc she needs her mommy. Oh....how I wish I could snap my fingers and give it all to them.
It is a roller coaster ride and right now it is hard.
I am thankful to anyone that makes my children smile and laugh right now. I am thankful that I am so aware and I am able to ask for help when I am sliding down a slippery slope again. I am thankful for many things and hopeful that I will be able to enjoy all of it soon!!! It is taking longer than I would have ever dreamed but I am not a quitter and I know I will get there one day.
I hope that if you are suffering in your own ways that this can be comforting to know you are not alone. And also, I hope that it allows you to better understand me. And for you to be able to appreciate the small things in your own lives.
Your friend Jordy
Today…….The Dialogue Projects
So, all you people reading this message might be wondering where I am on my journey today!!! Well......with tons of support , I am so proud to say that I am swimming again!!! My head has been above water for a few months now, with some ups and downs and some moments of slipping, but life is great and I am able to live again. I have some more steps to take to get back to socializing like I used to but I am just enjoying my ability to wake up every morning, get out of bed easily, take my kids to school every day, pick them up every day, and be a mom again. I know the realities of anxiety and depression, so I know that I might slip again but that's okay! I have a team to support me and get me back on track, and most of all, I've been through hell and back and I know that I can fight this fight.
I hope that this raw and real material will open eyes to what it is like to be on this roller coaster of anxiety and depression. I hope that it speaks to fellow strugglers so that they feel comfort in knowing they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings. I hope that these journals somehow make the world a tad bit more compassionate and a lot more knowledgeable about these issues. I hope we all appreciate the small things, the ability to feel, to love, to smile, and to live. I hope this story makes each of us think twice before we judge someone or put expectations on someone we care about. You never know what someone is going through and most of the time people are trying their damn best! And lastly, I hope one day I will make my girls proud! Proud of their mommy who fought hard and never gave up! Proud to read this message and know that their mommy was brave!