I think it’s safe to say that some people are just genetically predispositioned to suffer from anxiety and/or depression at some point in their lives and I would 100% say that I am one of those people. Ask anyone who knows me, yes I have had some very tough things happen in my life that most people wouldn’t have to deal with, but I have also had one heck of a great life (humble brag there)! I have the most fantastic, granted very small now, family who would go to the ends of the earth for me and I have some of the best friends that words can’t even describe, yet I still managed to find myself at a point of anxiety and depression last year where I was not coping and absolutely ready to kill myself to put it lightly. Guess what, THIS IS NORMAL! People with seemingly great lives, great friends, family, and jobs feel this way too!
Now, you may ask how I got from the point of spending most of my day obsessing about how anxious I was and how my life was falling apart and how I went from spending each and every day wanting to end my life to where I am at now. Guess what, I still have absolutely horrid days where I sit there and think, you know what it would be a lot easier to just not be here, the thing is I’ve learned a few coping strategies that I want to share that got me through and continue to get me through and functioning.
Let me explain my thought process on coming to realize I was having a problem to being diagnosed with anxiety and depression and to really getting help.
This began I would say around September of 2016 where I really started having a hard time and became severely depressed and anxious. Prior to this time I absolutely struggled with mental health but never to this extent. The summer of 2016 was a game-changer for me. I had the best boyfriend in the world, Andrew, who after some ups and downs is still by my side now (that’s another story in itself) and I had(have) a fantastic job with a company that I absolutely love working with old people that I also absolutely love. You’re right, this doesn’t sound like the recipe for mental breakdown… don’t worry we’re getting there. After a few years in a long distance relationship – I’m in Winnipeg and Andrew travelling between New Brunswick and Manitoba for work – we decided it was time to really set down some roots in the same city and live together full time. We set our sites on Calgary, I got a great job offer, we found a place to live, PERFECT, RIGHT?! Nope. My dream job in Regional Management came up back in Winnipeg and I was offered a position that I didn’t think could happen. Andrew was 100% amazing and supportive but that right there started my downward spiral into over thinking and over analyzing everything.
I know, I know, you’re probably still reading this thinking, okay doesn’t add up. Let me try and break it down for you for those of you who may know someone anxious but not necessarily feel these things yourself. I was already terrified about up and moving my life to another province where I had few friends, was far away from my family, and starting a whole new job. Throw in now we had to get out of a lease in Calgary, find a place to live, I was starting a job in regional management managing people who were old enough to be my parent, terrified that my boyfriend secretly hated him for wanting to work on my career (which might I add was completely unjustified, he was super supportive and even picked the place we moved in to) well I was right on my way to breakdown-ville.
Let me skip forward a couple months to when things started to get a little more funky. Andrew and I went to Disney World that New Year’s with his family (a whole almost 12 of us I think) which for me coming from my normal holiday season of 3-4 family members was overwhelming. Before that it was also no secret that Andrew’s family and I also didn’t see eye to eye which caused a lot of fighting for us during that trip. Needless to say that trip ended up in me leaving Florida back to Winnipeg and Andrew staying another week with his friend and family and a whole heck of a lot of back and forth fighting. Enter my downward spiral of the next few months where I fell into a funk with work, relationship, avoiding my friends. For me it was my slow and steady slope to my rock bottom. I would also like to point out here that in no way I am saying that any of this had to do with my relationship but just the timing wise (holidays are a weak point for me at the best of times) it began my slippery slope.
Now let’s enter into a few months of little to no sleep, we’re talking between 2 and 4 hours per night, my first experience firing someone at work and still adjusting to my new job role. This was the point where it hit me that the way I was going I was not going to bounce back from this one as I had from what I called “funks” in the past. No, this wasn’t just a funk, this was the black hole of my life that I was certain was sucking me in never to resurface again. Ugh, okay, yes, I am a drama queen.
Let me end off this post with telling you my step one, and believe me it was a hard step one to make. I phoned my doctor’s office and made an appointment. By this point I was having multiple panic attacks a week, curling up on the floor, trying to hide behind my desk at work. I wasn’t functioning. I would also like to share that I had been debating making this phone call since my first year of university (6 and a half years prior to when my phone call actually took place) and the only thing I wish that I could go back and change is that I made that damn phone call years earlier and got working on my mental health at a point before it felt like it was too far gone to salvage. I would also like to point out that at this point I was SOOO embarrassed. I did not want to tell my friends, family, or boyfriend how I was feeling so I made the appointment unbeknownst to anyone.
BEING EMBARRASSED IS TOTALLY NORMAL but you have absolutely nothing at all to be embarrassed about. In fact, this should be a celebration that you have the courage to say “Hey, I’m not doing okay. Maybe I should talk to someone about it.” You should jump up and down screaming how freaking awesome you are. But instead, it’s embarrassing and it sucks. I get it.