Loss

This event happened to me in 2012 but I haven’t really written about it and it’s a part of my story so I’d like to include it here.

In August of 2012, I found out that I was pregnant. We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant but I had just gotten off of my birth control pills. I was over the moon excited. There were so many things in my life that I was clueless about, but one thing I have always known is that I wanted to be a mom. That lifelong dream was finally coming true. I didn’t tell many people, just close family, but I started planning right away. I made a cute Pinterest board of baby ideas, we talked about names and decorating the nursery and window shopping online for all of the things that a baby would need. I was incredibly happy.

On September 9th, 2012 (which also happened to be our second wedding anniversary) I started spotting. We decided to go to the hospital just to be safe. The doctor took some blood to test my HCG levels. It was Dr Chaudhry on call that day. She came back into the room to give me the worst news a new mom could expect to hear – I was losing my baby. It was early, I was 6 weeks and 2 days pregnant. But my baby was alive and real. The doctor had zero bedside manner and told me that everyone has a miscarriage and it’s not a big deal. That just about destroyed me. Michael turned white as a sheet and went into the bathroom connected to my room. My parents were there to comfort me. The doctor told me to just go home and everything would pass naturally. I walked out of that hospital like a zombie. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. My world was shattered. I remember going home and laying in bed and just staring at the wall crying. I cried like I’ve never cried before. Eventually I couldn’t cry anymore so I just laid there staring. Occasionally I moved from the bed to the recliner to put my heating pad on to manage the cramping. I went through the motions for a while. Not really living. I was angry at everything and everyone. I couldn’t understand why people were telling me that things happen for a reason. What reason could there possibly be for my baby dying? It wasn’t fair. I saw pregnant women everywhere and it just made me angry. When I heard a complaint about pregnancy or babies a fire burned in my soul. A school acquaintance of mine was due to have her baby the day before mine was due (which was May 2nd 2013), so I had to watch her healthy pregnancy progress as I sat there, empty. I remember doing a lot of walking. I would lace up my shoes, plug in my headphones and try to walk away my pain. My song of choice was The Funeral by Band of Horses. This song was written about seeing relatives at family events feeling like funerals, but for some reason the music really spoke to me. I tend to gravitate more towards melodies than lyrics. I played that song on repeat and angry walked around my neighbourhood day after day. Scarlett probably appreciated all of the walking, but she knew that something was wrong. She was a wonderful support during this time. I don’t think that Michael (my ex-husband) really knew what to do. He was upset but he didn’t take it as hard as I did.

I knew that I still wanted to have a baby so at some point we decided to try again. I had joined an online forum for support and learned more about fertility than anyone needs to know. I felt that the more I knew, the more I could control. I read books. I read articles. I read posts from other women going through what I went through. Looking back, I’m not sure how healthy the forum was. There was support there but I think it also kept me reliving the pain. And month after month (despite using fertility apps, ovulation kits and basal body temperature thermometers), I kept getting negative pregnancy tests. It was probably the stress because I wanted this so bad. When Mother’s Day came after my loss, my (insensitive) aunt – who we don’t speak to anymore – made some comment about me having to wait to eat my dinner because I wasn’t a mom. I just about lost it and had to leave the room to cry.

About 9 months later, I finally got that positive pregnancy test. It was May of 2013, around the time my baby should have been born. I was happy for the positive test, but sad about the fact that I should already have a healthy baby at that time. It felt like an absolute eternity but in hindsight 9 months is really not that long, and I needed the time to process my loss and be able to handle a new pregnancy. My youngest brother found out that I was pregnant and asked if that meant that I wouldn’t be angry anymore. Clearly my feelings weren’t just internalized like I thought. I was nervous every day. I was just waiting for bad news, I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the pregnancy. At 9 weeks, I had some spotting and went into an absolute panic that it was happening to me again. I vividly remember laying on my bed in the living room, elevating my feet and watching Murder She Wrote. Michael must have been working because I was alone. It turned out to be nothing but I was terrified the entire time. 9 more months later, on January 27th, 2014, my beautiful daughter Evelyn was born. There was some birth trauma that doesn’t have a place here, but when I finally got to hold her I just cried and cried. She had the most beautiful, big, brown eyes and she was so alert. We bonded instantly. To this day, that was one of the best moments of my entre life.

I felt a little guilty about being so happy. I had spoken with so many women who had stories that were so tragic that I don’t know how they had the strength to keep going. A loss at 6 weeks of pregnancy is different than a full-term stillborn or a baby who lives hours or days before passing away. But I still feel that any loss is a loss and moms are allowed to feel their pain. Miscarriage is something that happens so frequently and often for unknown reasons, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when it happens.

Evelyn is now 5 (almost 6!) and while this happened 7 years ago, I can still remember the pain like it was yesterday. I am grateful every single day for my daughter. I know how fortunate I am to have her. Not everyone gets a happy ending to their story. Through all of my mental illness episodes, Evelyn is what has kept me going. I had finally fulfilled my dream of becoming a mom and I was determined to be the best mom I could be, even when I was experiencing my darkest days. Sometimes I was in the depths of despair and it seemed like I would never see light again, but my daughter never was far from my mind and she has saved my life several times over.

I’ve struggled with how to end this piece. I would like to offer support to moms who have experienced loss, in a sensitive way. Everyone experiences their own stories and losses in their own ways, so I can only speak for myself. Loss changes you forever, but I also believe in hope. I’ve walked a difficult path in a few ways but I’m plowing through and blazing a new trail in hopes that others can take my experiences and help live their own best stories.

Withdrawal

I’ve been debating a post like this for a while but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. The experience I went through yesterday proved to me that I needed to write about this, so I’m just going to go for it and write what I feel. 

Withdrawal. 

What does that word mean to you? What kinds of things come to mind? For a lot of people, this word has negative connotations and is related to those suffering from addictions to serious drugs. 

What a lot of people might not know is that it is possible for people to suffer from awful withdrawal symptoms from the psychiatric medications that are legally prescribed to them. 

I have been on medications for more than half of my life, and my list of meds includes most of the drugs ever produced. My prescriptions are forever changing and the doses constantly increasing until I max them out and have to switch to something else. Finding a “drug cocktail” that works at an optimal level and doesn’t cause horrific side effects is akin to looking for a unicorn. It is a frustrating process to say the least. It makes you feel like a guinea pig. Your doctor is basically playing trial and error until something seems to click. And then you wait and hope that it continues to work. This is the best option that we have right now. Another huge gap in care for mental health. 

I’m normally very compliant with taking my meds. Even when I’m feeling good and sometimes have those thoughts that maybe I don’t actually need to take them, I still continue on my regimen. I believe that the meds are for my own good right now so I know that I must take them.  

But every once in a while for one reason or another I miss a dose. Sometimes it is just a matter of forgetting. Sometimes I simply feel too tired to swallow handfuls of pills. Sometimes I’m not feeling well and can’t get them down. Sometimes I just fall asleep too early for my nighttime dose. Whatever the case, just one dose missed is enough for me to experience withdrawal symptoms. 

This is what I experienced yesterday, after missing one single night time dose of several of my medications. 

I had a headache. I was hot and cold. My stomach was in knots. I couldn’t eat to keep anything down. I was tired but couldn’t sleep. I felt like my skin was crawling. I had the shakes. I was fuzzy and disoriented. My brain was foggy. Getting out of bed felt like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I was anxious. My entire body felt horrible.

And these are just the symptoms that I can put into words. I wanted to write this post last night so that the desperation I was feeling would seep into my writing but I couldn’t function at a high enough level to get up and actually write anything. 

So why am I writing this? Why not just ensure that I take my meds and keep quiet about it? I feel the need to speak out because this is what so many of us are dealing with on a regular basis on top of mental illness. It’s not often that I let this happen (I set alarms on my phone and have a pretty good system in place) but I’m not perfect, so it does happen. I feel so terrible when I’m in withdrawal that I do whatever I can to not feel that way. 

Furthermore, there is a larger issue here. Many of these medications are old. They have been around for decades. Why do we not have better options now? Why do doctors still have to play trial and error? On top of that, why are doctors so quick to whip out their prescription pads and write scripts for these drugs that can be so harmful? What other solutions can we create for this mental health crisis that society is dealing with? We need to be creative here and work together. 

This is my purpose. I was put on this earth to go through these experiences so that I can use my unique gifts to speak out about what is happening and try to find creative ways to fill the gaps. I hope that you have learned something from this post or become inspired by it – together we can make change!

What Depression Really Looks Like

People often imagine a depressed person as someone who is sad all of the time. But there is much more to it than that. Everyone gets sad or has “the blues” from time to time, and that is completely normal. It is also normal to feel extreme sadness and show other symptoms like crying when in periods of grief. Clinical depression is different and is not normal sadness.

A brief example of the criteria for depression from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual are depression most of the day, every day, reduced interest or pleasure in activities, changes in weight (gain or loss), feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, and thoughts of death or suicidal ideation. These are all clinical terms and can be very subjective. The terms are clinical and depend on honest reports from the patient about what they are feeling. But these criterion leave out so much of what a depressed individual’s life is actually like. Next, I’ll outline some of the lesser talked about symptoms from my own experience.

First, not being able to get out of bed for days. Not for anything. Not to shower, not to eat, not to watch TV. Everything feels like a giant, exhausting struggle, and when you’re depressed, you don’t see what the point is in getting out of bed and engaging with life. This has obvious effects on weight, and personal hygiene, but when I am in a depression, I really don’t care about those things. I’m just trying to survive. The mental and physical exhaustion is overpowering.

Isolation is a huge one for me personally. When I’m feeling a depression, I isolate myself from everyone and everything. No seeing family, no seeing friends, no social media. Being around people is exhausting. It is too difficult to put on a happy face and smile or act like your normal self. And I have no desire to engage in any social activity. I don’t feel like I’m worth it and nobody would want me there anyway.

Many other negative emotions come with feeling depressed. A couple of examples are guilt and shame. You feel guilty for not being able to keep up with commitments or being a good parent/friend/relative, etc. You feel ashamed for feeling the way you do and think that you should be able to “snap out of it”, which I believe comes from the stigma associated with mental illness.

Finally, loss of enjoyment and pleasure or ability to carry out daily activities. I am a person with several hobbies, but when I’m depressed, I don’t engage in any of them. I also have my own home and have responsibilities to maintain it. Below I’ll show some photos of what my house can look like when I’m in the middle of a depression. Piles of unfolded or unwashed laundry. Dirty dishes for days without being washed. Floors that need sweeping and washing. Bed not being made. These are just a few examples.

It’s really embarrassing to see these photos but I feel that they need to be shared so that people know that they are not alone. If it is so hard to have the energy to take a shower, imagine how difficult housework must be!

But this does not need to be your life!! I’m working on another post that is going to explain further, but give yourself lots of self-love when you are feeling this way. Ask for help if you have people in your life who can help you. There is nothing to be ashamed of, despite the stigma. You can beat the depression. It’s not an easy task by any means, but you can do this!! It has taken me years of work to try and improve my depression. I’m not perfect, and I still have my days, but I’m learning how to show myself love when I need it and get through a depressive episode much more easily than I could before. More to come!!

Reiki and Unconditional Love

Today I had a rough day. I’ve been feeling pretty good the last couple of weeks and today put all of my coping strategies out the window. And you know what? That’s okay! It is going to happen sometimes. It is also okay that I didn’t quite know how to handle it, I have lots of supports in my life who I can turn to when in need.

I was dealing with a few pressures in major areas of my life – my finances, my home, and my job. Legal action was involved, and several distressed phone calls were made and emails sent. It was the making of a very stressful day, which is never good for your mental condition.

I really tried to keep a positive mind. I tried to think of all of the things that I have to be thankful for (and there are many!) but I still felt agitated, irritated, and out of sorts.

After speaking with one of my favourite people (who is a great support in my life), I realized that I need to let things be what they are and not fight it. It will happen as it happens. The worst case scenarios that I am imagining probably won’t happen but if they do, it’s for a reason. It will be for the best in my life and for a purpose (Read more great concepts like this from Eckhart Tolle’s book entitled A New Earth Find it on Amazon.)

My supporter also suggested that I try some reiki and send myself some unconditional love, which is what I did.

I normally feel cold all of the time but while I was doing the reiki hand positions on myself, I could feel the heat radiating from my body – energy!! When I run through the Chakra hand positions, I let my body determine how long I need to hold them. This session, I spent a lot of time on the crown Chakra, the third eye Chakra, and the heart Chakra.

The crown Chakra (top of the head) is the Chakra of divine purpose and destiny. It balanes interior and exterior and creates a whole. It connects you with messages from higher realms. I think I spent time here to balance myself and listen to the powers that be.

The third eye Chakra (forehead, between the eyes) is related to the Pineal Gland. It is a physical eye that can look upward. It is the Chakra of questioning, for example things such as the spiritual nature of our existence. It also contains our inner vision. I think that I spent time here because I was questioning my existence and spirituality.

Finally, the heart Chakra is the centre of love, harmony, and peace. Blockage in this Chakra can result in immune system problems, heart problems, or a lack of compassion. This Chakra is always one that I’m drawn to. I need to feel love and harmony and peace (and I often don’t). I also have troubles with feeling compassion when I’m going through something difficult, so I know this Chakra gets blocked for me and needs extra time spent on it.

While I had my hand on my chest, I also used the symbol of unconditional love. It is like the @ symbol but with an “e” at the centre, instead of an “a”. I traced it on my palm a few times. I wrote it in the air and pushed it out away from me (to send unconditional love to others) and brought the last one back into my chest to bring myself unconditional love.

When I first heard of reiki (years ago) I wasn’t convinced that it was a real thing that could actually help me, but because I had an open mind and experienced it, I’ve been able to examine all that it has to offer. I’d recommend looking for a Reiki master in your area to give you a level 1 certification so that you can practice on yourself at any time that you need it.

Information on Chakras in this post come from a Reiki Level 1 Manual that I got from my practitioner, Maria Fiordalisi.

Review -Cancer: A Book of Hope

I just finished reading Cancer: A book of Hope by Lise Bourbeau (available on Amazon!) This book came recommended to me by my life plan specialist.

At first, I wondered why she recommended this book to me, as I do not currently have a cancer diagnosis, nor do any of my close family members. But I quickly learned why this was an important book to read.

Bourbeau discusses everyone having an inner light or “God” that they need to bring out. We are made up of physical, mental, and emotional bodies, but they are not always in tune with our inner light (or purpose).

She discusses how mental struggles and related events can manifest themselves as physical illnesses such as cancer. This statement may seem to be placing the blame on patients, but Lise is merely pointing out that we need to give ourselves more self-love and focus on bringing out our inner light in order to heal ourselves physically. Furthermore, she is not saying that anyone purposely brings the diagnosis upon themselves, it is most often done unconsciously, and if we look back, we can often find events that prompt it. She provides case studies of individuals whom she has worked with in the past that lend validity to what she is saying.

Bourbeau describes how we often have an inner wound of “rejection” that needs to be healed before physical ailments can be removed. This was the part of the book that spoke to me the most. There are many ways that this wound of rejection can be activated, and it can start from before we are even born! There are so many different factors at play and she writes another book dedicated to wounds such as rejection. I have added this book to my to-be-read list, so I won’t speak too much to it here.

This book is very much an alternative approach to diseases such as cancer, and it took me some time to appreciate what Bourbeau was saying. I wasn’t sure how I felt about people bringing these illnesses on themselves, however unconscious it may be. Because of my anxious nature, I also saw a lot of myself in the topics that this book was discussing and was feeling a bit fearful about bringing on a diagnosis of my own. But when I finished the book, I realized the importance of focusing on self-love and healing my own wound of rejection so that my physical body stays healthy.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend it to anyone who is working on self-acceptance and love, or anyone suffering from a debilitating physical illness such as cancer. It was an approach to physical illness that I’ve never experienced before but it really got my mind working.

Buy it on Amazon Here

Living with a Phobia

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had emetophobia. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a phobia of vomit. It doesn’t matter if it’s myself feeling sick, someone around me being sick, hearing it, or seeing it on TV, it elicits the same reaction of panic. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking, so what, vomit is disgusting and nobody really likes it. But when you have this phobia, it is so much more than that.  

     When I experience vomit with any of my senses (by feeling it, seeing it, hearing it, smelling it, etc.) or if I think that it is going to happen around me. I get an immediate panic reaction. I’m talking blind panic. Can’t function panic. Loss of cognitive functioning panic. I have a sixth sense about it and can tell when someone else Is sick before they even know it because I’m so hypervigilant due to my phobia. 

     Imagine, if you will, being chased by a murderer who is chasing you specifically and you know that your life is going to end with horrible torture. Not a nice picture, right? But this is the kind of panic I experience every time vomit is around me. My heart rate quickens, my palms get sweaty, all of my attention turns to how I can possibly escape the situation, I’m forgetful, shaky, and feel completely out of control. 

     Sometimes I even have nightmares about it. It is usually the same nightmare. I’m trapped somewhere with vomiting people and I cannot escape. I panic, looking for any way to get away from sick people and not get sick myself. I wake up feeling terrified and exhausted. 

     Additionally, this phobia affects me in many areas of my life, it’s not just a phobia while it’s happening. I have a list of “safe” foods that I will order in a restaurant. Meat is not on that list. I’m terrified of it not being cooked correctly and ending up with food poisoning. I use public washrooms as infrequently as possible because I’m always afraid of hearing someone vomit or having the fear that someone was sick in the stall that I’m using. I panic when I’m in car rides with my daughter or other children for fear that they will get sick in the car and I’ll be trapped in there with a mess to clean up. I keep a bucket beside my bed in case my daughter gets sick during the night (we bed share). I have visions of becoming sick in public situations and not being able to make it to the bathroom. Cold and flu season is full of anxiety because there are always people around me who are getting sick. During the times that I do come down with this illness (or if my daughter or a family member is sick) – I do not eat. I will go days without eating, or eating only toast and drinking coke. This ends up making me feel worse because I have no food to give me energy. These are just some of the areas in my life that I avoid or make changes to in order to get away from my phobia. 

     I find this phobia to be very embarrassing because it’s not dangerous and I try not to tell people about it if I can help it, but I figure it’s time to speak out. A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like and try to make me feel better and say “oh, me too”, but I know that they don’t really get it. You cannot fully understand what a phobia feels like unless you have been there to experience it yourself. Especially when it is something like vomit that really doesn’t elicit any serious danger. 

     I’ve tried many things to help with this phobia. I take a daily anxiety pill that keeps some of the edge off. I often take Ativan when I’m feeling panic, but after taking it for so many years, I need a large dose for it to take any effect. I’ve been in therapy for many years, and we often talk about this phobia and how I can get over it. My therapist has recommended trying to visualize everything turning out fine, and telling myself that I can get through it, no matter how difficult it may seem. I’ve tried this and it helps slightly in certain situations, but it’s not been life changing. I have given some thought to exposure therapy, but my therapist pointed out that it is something difficult to do with my specific phobia because it involves health and hygiene. Furthermore, I’ve talked with my life plan specialist about this and she believes that this phobia may have come from a past life because I cannot pinpoint a situation in this life that caused it, and some of my earliest memories in this life are of vomit experiences (mainly other people). We are currently working on some ways to deal with it, including giving myself more self-love. What I would really like to do, is get rid of the immediate panic sensation, rather than learning to deal with the panic after it comes, but so far, I’ve been unsuccessful. 

     I hope that reading this has helped some of you feel like you aren’t alone. Many people suffer from phobias and they are difficult to treat. If you’ve been successful in treating a phobia, feel free to share in the comments. And WHEN the day comes that I get over this, I will post again with how I did it – because I do believe that this day will come. 

Energy Work

On July 25th, 2019, I met with my life purpose specialist and a Reiki master to perform some energy work to help me with my mental health struggles. I had to drive over an hour to get to them and it was costing me money out of pocket, so I was hoping that this was going to be worthwhile. I had never done any type of energy work before so this was all new territory for me. I consider myself to be a spiritual person but I’m not religious. I believe in using essential oils, crystals, and in manifestation from the universe.

I drove up to the building with a feeling of anticipation and some anxiety about what I was about to experience.

When I got to the room, I could hear a few voices, I walked in and was greeted by one familiar face and two new friendly faces. The room looked as I expected it to. There was a bed in the middle, a couple of chairs around the outside of the room, salt lamps rested on counter tops, crystals were carefully placed on cabinets, essential oil bottles were nestled in a rolling cart. All things that I’ve experienced in the offices of other holistic practitioners. Even though I had never been there before, it felt like a familiar environment.

We started the session by having me lay down on the bed and the two practitioners used their respective techniques to examine the energy that was emanating from my body. They agreed that there was some coming from my crown but I had a huge amount of energy coming from the tops of my feet. There was also some stuck energy at my hips. My hands were also clenched (they always curl, it’s most comfortable for me). They practiced different modalities but both agreed on where the energy was surrounding my body. They asked me if I felt their assessment was accurate and I really did think so! My feet are constantly moving, so it makes sense that there is energy there.

The reiki master performed an attunement on me that took about 10 minutes. The purpose of this was to open my chakras and let the energy flow through my body. She had me close my eyes and rest my hands on a pillow so I wouldn’t have the urge to clench them. She worked from behind me and in-front of me. When she tapped my shoulder I had to put my hands in prayer position. As soon as she started working on me I felt a tingling sensation that started in my head and went down my spine. A couple of times it went right down to my feet. Towards the end I also felt a slight swirling of energy in my head as well. By the end I felt open and grounded.

After the treatment, she taught me some level 1 reiki. All of the hand positions that go with the 7 body chakras and how to use them to help myself.

The final thing that we did was talk about the trapped energy in my hip area. I have a history of self-harm and my right thigh is the location of my body that I choose to cut. I have physical scars on my thigh and a lot of negative emotions surrounding it. The practitioners had me place one hand on my thigh and describe how I felt about the area. For me, it was very negative and I associated the colour red with it. I also felt it in my chest, so they had me place my left hand over my heart. I closed my eyes and imagined the negative taking up as much space as it needed. I was told not to try and supress the negative like I normally do, but to allow it to hold space and just accept that it is there. I sat like this for a few minutes and just visualized these emotions taking up space. Then we decided to replace the negative with something positive. I was told to choose what I wanted to fill that negative space with and I chose love – I’m working on accepting myself and eventually loving myself. I imagined love but I couldn’t say out loud that I loved myself or that I was deserving of love, so the practitioners said it for me. They told me several times that I am deserving of love. Then I opened my eyes and didn’t feel quite as much tension in the area. I know that this is a sensitive area for me, so it is not going to go away after one treatment but now I know how to work through it when I’m feeling particularly negative.

Almost a week has now passed since this experience. I have used the reiki techniques that I learned, when I was having a particularly difficult day. I used the reiki chakra hand positions in a meditative fashion. It helped me to relax and allow the energy to flow through my body. I still have a lot to learn and will need much more practice to become proficient but I’m enjoying the process so far. I encourage you all to give this modality a try if you are able!

Mama Meltdown

You guys, I’m going to get real here in this post – who am I kidding, this is a very real blog. But seriously, I want to warn you, if you’re triggered by talk of self-harm, please skip the rest of this post.

My daughter is 5. She is my reason for living. I don’t know of anything outside of her. She’s sweet and thoughtful and smart and creative. She takes dance lessons a few nights a week, following in mama’s footsteps. And she is the love of my life.

Today was her first competition at a highland games. She was up super early and was nervous because this was her first time dancing on stage with people she didn’t know. But she did it! She got up there and did her thing, and I was so proud of her!

When it came time for the awards it was long after she had danced. She was hot and tired and wanted to go home. I told her that she had to go on stage one more time to get her ribbon and gift and then we could leave. We got over to the stage area and she dug in her heels and refused to go on the stage with the rest of her group. She was crying and hugging me and pleading to be taken away from the stage.

What happened next was not my finest moment.

I wanted her to be up there so bad, I was doing whatever I could to get her up there, gently pushing her, pulling her by her hand. I raised my voice with her, which I never have to do. I let my emotions get in the way.

I was so angry that she wasn’t listening to me and getting up on that stage.

She didn’t win any medals and I was angry about that too. She deserved to win something but the judges didn’t agree. So she got her participation ribbon and we left the stage area.

We packed up our stuff and got in the car. She left with her father and I told her I loved her and was proud of her. And then I started crying in the car. All. The. Way. Home. 2 hours of driving. And then I cried more once I got home and was alone. This wasn’t just tears running down my cheeks, it was full-on ugly sobbing.

Why was I crying? I felt like the worst mom in the world. How could I get angry with a tired, hot, scared little 5 year old who is my whole world? Who was that person that got so angry? Then, as they typically do in my brain, the thoughts multiplied.

How could I have been so angry? What if she grows up with issues around being loved and supported because I didn’t support her? What if she doesn’t love dance like I do and I have to give up on having a dancer? Why am I being so selfish? Why am I failing her? We should have practiced more, but I’m too caught up in my own mental illness that I have been a less than stellar parent. Which then led me to thinking about how we barely read books at night anymore like we used to. She wants to be a doctor, how is she going to get through all of that schooling if I’m not supporting her? What if she turns out like me? (that one really scares me)

You get the idea. And this all made me feel so depressed and worthless. All I could think about was punishing myself. I knew that I had a shiny knife that I had previously used to cut myself, it was hiding up in my closet. I wanted nothing more than to hurt myself. I thought of death and what would happen if I died. Who would even miss me? The negative thoughts were swirling around in my brain faster than I could keep up with them.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is this. I reached out. This is something that is very difficult for me, especially at times like this. I always isolate myself and push down the negative feelings. But instead, I bit down on my lip and reached out to a friend on my “team” of awesome people who are helping me to get better.

They told me to make sure that I was safe, number 1 priority. And then to let these emotions sit, feel them, and let them go. This is a skill that is also taught in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for those with Borderline Personality Disorder.

I cried some more, but I didn’t reach for that knife, and that’s a huge accomplishment for me. I thought about how to talk to my daughter about the situation so that she knows that I love and support her. I worked on distracting myself. I used some visualization techniques to imagine the negative emotions washing away like waves in the ocean. I also did a chakra meditation (I’m currently working on a post about this). And you know what? I started to feel better.

I know that I’m not perfect, no parent is, but I’m making a serious effort to better myself and crawl out of the dark hole that I find myself in and I think that counts for something. I apologize for my mistakes and learn from them. Self-acceptance and love is going to take time to develop but I don’t hate myself quite as much as I did earlier, so it’s a start.

So if anyone out there reading this has had similar moments, know that you are not alone and there are healthy ways for us to cope and then improve upon ourselves so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. Send yourself some love, no matter how impossible that may seem.

xo Krysten

About Me

I thought that I would start this off with a post about me so that you know who you’re hearing from. I’m going to try and keep this part as short as I can and add details through later posts.

I grew up in a small-ish town in Ontario, Canada. I had two loving parents and two younger brothers. My parents weren’t perfect and there was some dysfunction in the family (including mental illness) but they tried. My immediate family was also close with my uncles/aunts, cousins, and grandparents.

I was fortunate enough to take competitive dance lessons and spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years at the dance studio. I took my dancing very seriously. I can remember being in classes where all of the girls were laughing and having a good time while I focused on the steps we were learning and I was annoyed by their behaviour. While I didn’t have a diagnosis at this time, looking back, I can notice the start of symptoms from an early age.

I was bullied in elementary school and hated going to school. I had a few friends during this time but they never lasted.

High school was a miserable time in my life. I was trying to find myself, and through that process I made some bad choices that I still agonize over to this day. I knew for sure that I had anxiety and depression, but that was all that I knew at the time. Looking back, I can see that my symptoms of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder started getting worse during these years. This is also when my paranoid delusions began. When I was 14 I officially started seeing doctors to deal with depression and anorexia. The anorexia didn’t last long – it was just a coping strategy for me. My mom found out what I was doing and got extremely angry with me so I moved to other coping strategies that were less noticeable to her. But the depression persisted.

I started University in 2006. I kept to myself and just worried about my studies. School was difficult with progressing mental illnesses. I ended up having to take time off from school and withdraw from classes because my symptoms worsened significantly and I just couldn’t deal with that along with school. I lost the honours part of my degree because of this so I cannot get my masters in Psychology unless I start a new BA. This is something that I really struggle with.

I got married in 2010. I was pretty happy during this time. I was on only one medication but it seemed to be helping.

In 2012, on our 2 year wedding anniversary I had a miscarriage. This was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever experienced. It put me into a deep depression and I was angry at the world for a long time afterwards.

I got pregnant again in 2013 and gave birth to my beautiful daughter Evelyn in January of 2014. There was some birth trauma that I still think about, but baby was healthy and that was my main concern. I also went back to school just before giving birth and finished my BA in October of 2014.

I was content with my new little family, but the anxiety and depression slowly started creeping back in. I didn’t have a regular psychiatrist at this time, so I went to my GP and got prescribed Cipralex. I had been off of all psychiatric medications while pregnant and breastfeeding. It took months, but it finally did start to help with my anxiety.

When my daughter was 2 years old, I experienced my first real manic episode. It lasted for weeks. I have a hard time admitting it, but in the end, this is what finished my marriage.

Over the following 3 years, I dated a bunch of losers trying to not be alone with myself. I experienced worsening symptoms of all of my illnesses. I got official psychiatrist diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I was hospitalized 3 times in 18 months. And I had constant changes made to my multiple psychiatric medications.

This brings us to today. I just got out of a 10 day inpatient hospital stay. I’m on several psychiatric medications. I have poor coping strategies that include self-harm. But the most important thing here is that I am trying to get better. I’m not letting these diagnoses get me down. I am working with a team that consists of doctors, a naturopathic doctor, psychiatrists, a life plan specialist, a peer mentor, outpatient groups at local hospitals, and I’m reading as much as I can to try and dig my way out of this hole.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? This is my purpose. My life design states that I am on this earth to experience trauma because I am strong and I can get through it, and then help others to do the same. I’m not all of the way there yet myself, but my ultimate goal is to help people. If I can help one person, my purpose will be fulfilled. How exactly I am going to help people is still to be determined, but I’m hoping that writing is a start.

Welcome!

Welcome to The Path to Purpose! This blog will take you on my journey from mental illness to wellness while discovering my life’s purpose along the way. While I’m not a mental health expert (although I do have a BA in Psychology), I am a person with real world experience of living with mental illnesses. Please feel free to comment and add any questions I might be able to answer, or share your own personal stories if you are comfortable. My hope is to share my story and inspire others to work towards living their best lives. I’ll be posting personal stories, suggestions to help those who love someone with a mental illness, and any research or new ideas that I come across. Thank you for taking the time to be with me and I hope you get something from this blog. Have a wonderful day 🙂