It’s been a crazy last few weeks, and I am finally on the other side. I feel better, mentally and physically. I’m ready to get back to work and get on with all these projects and ideas I have. Spring is finally here, and I finally feel good.
But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrassed. Really? TB? Cancer? And I put this out there for everyone to read just how bonkers I was acting?
My dad warned Nate when I first started the prednisone that it could have some interesting side effects. Poor Nate has just kind of sat back and watched me over the last week, shaking his head.
I know someday we’ll look back and laugh at this, but yes, it is embarrassing.
Yet why is this so embarrassing in a way any other disease would never be? Why am I so embarrassed that I needed a medication that had side effects that put my mental health in a more fragile state?
And why is any topic related to mental health so taboo?
I never thought I had an issue with anxiety. Life is full of stressors, and it’s your body’s fight-or-flight response. If anything, I felt like I was weak, because everyone else seemed like they could keep their shit together except me. I knew stress is part of life, and I knew it was not normal to self-medicate. If you have to hide it from your loved ones, it’s not normal. I knew this, yet I couldn’t, wouldn’t reach out to anyone because I was embarrassed.
Once I started going back to church again and realized I didn’t even miss the wine, I couldn’t help but wondering…so I asked my mom if she thought I traded in one addiction for another–wine for God. Her answer made me cry. No. My faith is not an addiction. My faith is what is good for my soul, and it is what my soul needs. I don’t need to hide my faith and I don’t think I could if I tried. There is nothing wrong with relying on a higher power for inner strength.
I know I have to give myself time–alcohol is a depressant, and one I relied on a for a long time. I’m not going to be 100% overnight. It’s okay that I might have some anxiety. It’s what I do to manage it that’s important. I have my faith, my family, my art, yoga with Adrienne, etc.
One thing that really helps is I started listening to my soul more. More and more I realize how the littlest things make me think, “Yes! This makes me happy!” Seeing a bald eagle in the air, the sunrise, scratching the new cow under the chin like a cat, going for a walk, tickling my boys and dancing to music as we eat breakfast, talking to Nate as we cook dinner…all these little moments add up and make you realize that hey, life is good!
I realized how a lot of things didn’t make me happy–not truly. Candy Crush, politics, The Bachelor/any reality TV show–and were just…fillers. I don’t watch Netflix anymore. I watch SkillShare and learn new art techniques. I read books that move me and I talk to others who make me feel happy when I interact with them. I spend time with Nate outside, or marvel at Dillon’s amazing personality that is emerging as we talk.
I started to listen to podcasts (Rachael Hart especially) about the think-feel-act cycle (which I believe is cognitive behavioral therapy–retraining your brain to think of things in a non-judgmental, non-threatening matter). This was huge. I never realized how pessimistic I was before and by re-framing my thoughts I completely changed my outlook on everything.
I started paying attention to what I was eating. There’s a reason they call foods like Chicken Noodle Soup good for the soul. By eating too much processed food and not enough real food, my body was missing out on nutrients it needed. Now I would love to start growing some of my own food. I also started eating more dark chocolate. 🙂
I felt like I was doing better, and I like the idea of treating these negative feelings without pharmaceuticals.
But going off my antidepressant/anxiety medication while being sick was not the best idea. And there’s nothing wrong with needing to keep taking it. Maybe in the future I can wean off it, but for now, I just need to let my mind recalibrate and know this doesn’t make me any weaker of a person than a diabetic who needs insulin.
As for putting it all out there, there are times I wonder if I’m going to regret it. But the more I open up about my struggles, the more people open up to me and reveal that they’ve been going through something similar. The idea of anyone suffering in silence breaks my heart.
We’re walking around, trying to pretend like we’re fine when we should be reaching out to each other and realizing that we are not alone.