Just “there”

Each of us has a story to tell. Each of us have faced trials and tribulation, and in this day and age everyone is eager to share their story. Whether it be through a blog (such as this), Facebook, Instagram, or whatever. There are definitely pro’s and con’s to this, and I myself flip and flop between them.

There’s a vicious vortex we have fallen into. While we do have knowledge of the world in our fingertips, people seem to be more lost than ever. The number of people who suffer from depression is higher now than ever. According to DBSA, 14.8 million American adults suffer from depression a year and according to ADAA, over 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.

This could be a coincidence from various facets; people are more open to sharing, there are easier mediums to share through, people are actually tracking these kinds of data, etc.

However, more and more studies are showing the connection between the amount of time spent online, the instant gratification that people now require, our diets, lack of exercise (or just being outside), and the disconnect from actual, in-person, social relationships.

Sadly…I know the above, yet I don’t change anything in my own life to improve any of it. Is this a cycle of self-sabotage? Or could it be that we have also gotten so enraptured with knowing more, doing more, being more, that we’ve lost sight of actually living?

I have talked about living in the “now” previously (see my post from March 23rd), and I have shared ways that have worked for me, to get into the right mindset to be able to pull myself out of the overwhelm and into a manageable state. But, it’s difficult. It actually takes work and at times requires every ounce of me to get there.

I continuously feel like I’m in a vicious cycle; while I may be able to take a different route for a period of time, I always end up back on the same rocky, windy trail. Either a physical ailment (sickness, injury) will occur, or a situation that I haven’t had to face in a long time rears its ugly head, or an additional element gets piled onto my already overloaded shoulders. Whatever it is, it seems far too easy to “tip the scale” and then everything I had been doing so well for the last month or so, seems as though it was all for not. I have to pick myself back up again, and start all over.

While I believe that these kinds of cycles are elements in everyone’s life, I can’t help but wonder am I the only one that has physical pain and emotional darkness every single time?

Introduction – The Beginning (Part II)

If you read the first post, you may be wondering what happened next…and some of you are probably thinking “this chick is crazy and I’m done reading this blog!”. While this blog may not be geared for all audiences, please note that the intent is to share the raw truth of my experiences in facing the toxicity of depression and anxiety…in hopes that others going through their silent battles may find comfort and hope to keep pushing through.

DARKNESS FALLS [continued]

I woke my husband up and said “something is wrong, take me to the hospital”. He seemed very confused and looked at me as though he had dreamt it and needed confirmation this was real. I was standing there with a look of terror, eyes filled with tears and probably pretty worn down from not sleeping for the last 4+ days.

He asked me to give him a minute to get dressed and gather Kassidy’s things. I remember he and I both were worried about me being in the room alone with our daughter…fortunately, I had enough of “me” left to be able to get her diaper changed, get her dressed and gather her things.

From this point everything was kind of a blur. I remember my mom coming to the emergency room. I remember my body feeling so out of my control. I remember sleeping. I remember worrying about our newborn having to be in an emergency room and fearful that she would catch a cold/flu, etc.

…then I agreed that I needed to be admitted to psychiatric. I remember laying in the emergency room while they tried to find me a room (Kaiser California doesn’t have psychiatric hospitalization, so they had to go out-of-network). I remember the EMT’s having to run through their 5150 protocols to transport me to the ambulance and further to the other hospital. At this point, they would not let my mother or husband take me to the other hospital…I felt like I was a criminal, slightly embarrassed that it had come to this.

The check-in process at St. Joseph’s in Orange, CA was quite lengthy. However, I realize that when someone comes there seeking medical help, it’s most likely due to an unforeseen emergency which the nurses have to work with on top of their normal jobs. Vera was the woman who was there to explain the next steps, provide comfort, and honestly, was the angel that provided me hope and helped me get through the next 7 days.

I’ll share my experiences in a separate blog…but let’s just say the biggest motivator in my life to continue battling my depression and anxiety, is to make sure that I never end up in the psych ward again. I am too afraid that I would not have the strength, and would “lose myself” completely.

I Digress

funny-world-domination

For several days now, I’ve been thinking about how “serious” and “heavy” my first post may have been. Well, depression and anxiety are both of those things…but I don’t exactly want this blog to just be about the dark and twisted (lucky you!). So, while I still have more to share about my personal experiences and perceptions, I would like to take a moment and share some insight around the silver lining.

Don’t get me wrong! Finding the silver lining in the middle of this craziness, is at times “THE” silver lining…the constant nagging in my ear that there might be hope is sometimes the only thing that gets me through a day.

Sometimes I feel as though I have tried everything to get to a stable ground. Prescriptions, therapy, meditation, prayer, massages, thinking of the things to be thankful of, acupuncture, acupressure, group therapy, reading about clinical studies, breathing techniques, self-rationalization…and the list goes on, and on, and on. In the last year, I just became tired of it all. Yet each time I get to that moment of wanting to give up, that annoying thought that there might be hope, still lingers.

Do I have a recipe for the perfect combination for fixing me? Nope. In fact, I might even be in a worse place now because the pure exhaustion of it all is starting to ever so slowly, suck the hope away. However, there are a few things that help me or at least peak my interest enough to want to learn more! Here’s some…

TACKLE ONE DAY AT A TIME

I’ve always been a planner (aka worrier). I’m typically already thinking about the next 10+ plausible scenarios in relation to a hypothetical event, in a matter of seconds. While on a good day, I can still do this…I have learned, for the most part, to only focus on the day at hand. On the really bad days, I focus on the hours or even the minutes. At first I really struggled with being “ok” with this. I saw it as a weakness; that I was somehow less of a person…or worse, that other people would think that I was an incapable, unintelligent person. 

Truthfully, focusing on just one day/moment has been a blessing, because it takes the unpredictable stress of tomorrow off your shoulders. If you try to focus on the past, today and tomorrow…you’ll run out of bandwidth; it’s not sustainable.

Basically, by letting people know that “I haven’t started thinking about that day yet”, has helped to compartmentalize my thoughts and has removed the daunting feeling that I have a gazillion things to do…now it’s whittled down to just a million 😉 Plus, it sets proper expectations with others.

BE IN THE NOW

For the longest time I didn’t “get” what being in the moment really meant. I couldn’t grasp how to let go and be present. Now, I know what the “now” means (only took 30+ years to figure it out)!

My biggest problem with being in the moment was all the thoughts avalanching in my brain. I couldn’t quiet them, and I couldn’t ever relax because of it…I thought in order to be in the moment, you had to have no thoughts in your mind. Clear your mind, people say.

I’ve learned that this does not work for everyone, and takes practice…and that having no thoughts isn’t reasonable, for me.

HOW I GET IN THE NOW

There are lots of methods/techniques…find what works for you; it may take a long time, so don’t give up.  For me, it clicked from a video in a group session about work-stress. I walked away with a visual approach to mindfulness breathing, instead of physical. In the past I couldn’t focus on breathing because I breath every second of the day…I couldn’t conceptualize something that is an instinctive function. After that video (which I cannot find online), I began to imagine that air was visible. I imagined that air was made of relaxing colors that swirled and twirled (think of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night) in at the nostril and wrapping itself up through the curves of my nose ascending into my chest. This abstract visualization gave me something to “see”, and by doing so it allowed me to block everything else out…if even for a split second.

I’m slowly learning to accept the wandering thoughts that flood in, but to randomly grab one of them and think through it. If I try to prioritize all the thoughts, I’ll never find one to focus on and then I’m back to feeling overwhelmed but not really knowing what is stressing me out. If I pick one, whether it’s productive or not, then it takes one more thing off my to-do and bit-by-bit I can pick through them all.

 

Introduction – The Beginning

WHO AM I?

I am a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, devoted employee. I have experienced many good things in life, but have endured many obstacles along the way. I have a lot of self-doubt, yet I am a very strong personality who tells it like it is. The strong persona has become my defense shield…I depend too heavily on what people think of me, and I know if anyone else were to hurt me, I’d unravel. 

I believe the experience of giving birth has been completely underplayed by the masses…meaning? Well, essentially your body endures trauma. Whilst giving labor is a “natural” event, it still pushes your body to the limits. Fortunately, our daughter was a very healthy baby and I know we are very blessed with not having any complications, except for one incident, weeks later, where she had a moment of choking on amniotic fluid (we were able to help her and she was fine). Soon after having my beautiful baby girl, the good and the bad came colliding together leaving no discernible separation of the two.

WHERE IT BEGAN

My husband was/is a wonderful caretaker; he made sure that I ate (he always went grocery shopping and made the food), helped me to the restroom, helped me with feeding schedules, helped as much as he could during the stressful times of breast-feeding, changed all the diapers, cleaned up any messes, took us to doctor’s appointments. I mean, you name it, he did it. Even though I was eternally grateful that I had such an amazing husband, I was filled with guilt. I felt like I wasn’t “doing my part”. I felt like I was a burden. I started hiding feelings…both physically and emotionally. 

The 3rd degree tears from giving birth had become infected (I thought the pain was just part of the “normal” healing process), the emotional fears of being a new parent, the fact that my husband and I did not reach out for nor accept help (we had the mentality that we made the decision to have a child, and that we should be the ones responsible), and the choking incident all threw me into a world of extreme pain, feelings of uncertainty and darkness topped-off with an inability to sleep. I was spiraling further down the rabbit-hole and too afraid to ask for help.

DARKNESS FALLS

One night, dark thoughts of killing my daughter came rushing in, like water rampaging from a broken dam. I sat there, for hours, next to my husband and daughter in the dark room, fighting with myself. Fighting the horrible visions and thoughts I was having. I kept thinking, “I just have to hold on until sunlight, then my husband would wake up and be able to help”. Why didn’t I wake him, you are probably asking? Well, remember that guilt mentioned above…yeah, I didn’t want to disturb their sleep. I thought I could handle this madness on my own, why bother someone else because of something that was going on in my head? My head wasn’t their problem, right?

Sunlight came, and I sat there anxiously waiting for them to wake up. By this time I was so exhausted from the battle I had been through all night…the visions and thoughts were winning. 

I escaped to another room. Thinking if I just get a change of scenery, the visions and thoughts would dissipate. Several minutes later, I was fighting the haunting desire to seize the shotgun from the closet 2-feet away, to kill my daughter and myself. I finally realized I did not have the strength to fight this war alone; I had lost.

I immediately ran from the room, as though I were running from a live physical being. I woke up my husband and said “something is wrong, take me to the hospital”.

 

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