Read about one woman’s journey with depression and anxiety and the notebook that keeps her health in check.
The Struggle Is Real
We all have our own struggles. My struggles are what I was told everyone has. The only problem is, I have depression and Social Anxiety Disorder. That old saying, “Don’t cry over spilt milk”. Yeah, that was made because of me, I am sure of it. I worry about everything. Seriously. When I was pregnant, I had a little breakdown because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to help my child with their math homework. Husband went out and bought me a math game for my Nintendo DS.
When I was 19, I wasn’t feeling right in my skin. It was the hardest thing to go to the university councilor and say, “I need help”. I just broke up with a boyfriend and it was my first time living away from home. She pulled out a book called, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Dr. Stephen Covey. What a life changer. I was her patient for 3 months. Without her I would have never got through that first year of University.
While going to see the therapist, she sent me to the University doctor to be prescribed some antidepressants. That was a journey in itself. With depression medication, it isn’t a here-you-go-this-should-work kind of business. I am 31 now and am just finding the right medication.
The first medication I was given was actually birth control. The doctor was hoping the hormones in that would balance out the chemical imbalance in my brain. It would until that fantastic time of the month that all females look forward to. (Notice the sarcasm there.) I was a beast, is what I can best describe it as. So then I was put on my first pill, Zoloft. When I hear someone is put on this medication, I cringe. This pill made my depression worse and I even tried to kill myself on it. That was an awkward call to the therapist. I was then put on Paroxetine. This was amazing. I didn’t have such horrible mood swings and no suicidal thoughts.
I continued taking Paroxetine until I was 26 years old. I went for a check-up when I was 12 weeks pregnant with my son. The doctor was worried that when Josh was born, the chemicals from the drug would be in his system and so he would have withdrawals. I quickly was taken off it.
Without the antidepressants, Iain was always so helpful. I really lucked out with this guy. I was thankful my cousin asked me to move to Scotland so I could meet him. (Yes, that’s right, I moved away from Canada, knowing only my cousin and her husband.) When I would get into a “mood”, Iain was the first person that I would allow near me. He suffers from depression as well so he knew that I needed my space. Sometimes I would get so bad I would stop talking. Those days, Iain would tuck me into bed with crisps (potato chips) and chocolate, put the laptop in my lap and I would watch some Anime.
Fast forward 3 years, yes, 3 years with no antidepressants. What made me go back on them? Well, my boss at the time was not the greatest. I quit my job as soon as he got back from vacation. I called Iain and told him. He then had to stop me from jumping in front of a bus. Hard to type that sentence. (My parents don’t know the extent of my depression. They just know I am on medication.)
I felt like a failure. I wasn’t strong enough to go without help. I hated myself for being so weak. Josh had to be taken out of daycare because we couldn’t afford it. Iain took on more hours and tasks. I felt horrible. After “the bus incident”, Iain made me book an appointment with our family doctor. We don’t have medical insurance, so I asked the doctor for the cheapest medication on the market. He gave me Effexor.
Guys, this pill is amazing! It does make me super tired but as long as I exercise and try to catch a nap during the day, I am fine. Side effects wise, I don’t get hungry. I have alarms on my phone to remind me to eat. Plus side is, I lost my baby fat. Another side effect I found out is that I get vertigo if I miss a dose. Like hardcore. Blinking makes me dizzy and my head feels like it’s stuffed with wool. We developed a system with the pharmacy though. I get a 3 month prescription and they give me a month at a time. The last month they put a sticker on the bottle to remind me to get another prescription.
That being said, having my husband around really helps. His Autism makes him look at situations differently and he is so laid back I am shocked he is not falling. We all need an Iain in our lives.
The last two years have really been a struggle for me. Trying to find out what is wrong with my son and having doctors tell me there is nothing wrong. Yeah, depression kicked in a lot. Thankfully, Josh has a great team around him and they also look out for the well-being of his mommy. One such is Strongest Families. One question my coach asks me every week is “and what have you done this week just for yourself?”
As a mom, I find it hard to have “me time”. Josh needs to be watched constantly. The only time I have for myself is during nap time and at bedtime. Also on snow days when Iain doesn’t go to work.
Enter the beauty of “The Bullet Journal.” I go on and on about this system but it seriously keeps me sane. I typed in “self-care” into Pinterest and got all kinds of results and then I just applied it into my daily routine. Each month I also do a “habit tracker” which lays out my medication, my son’s medication and things I do for me. This month I am seriously slacking in the “exercise” section. I see that in my tracker, so now my goal for March is to do Yoga 4 times a week. Which should be easy since Josh loves Yoga so we can do it together.
The collection I am loving right now is a system created by Bujoboosted. He calls it the Ultimate Productivity Challenge. On his YouTube, he has a video explaining how it works. I must admit, I am struggling with it but I will not give up. As of the writing of this post, I have 2 squares left to color in, which means I get to order 3 items off of Wish.com. Although it is a productivity tracker, in a way, I turned it into a Self-Care tracker because of what I track.
Being a mother can be a struggle. Being a mother of a special needs child is a lot worse. I read once, that moms of special needs children have the stress level of someone with PTSD. That said, we need to find time for ourselves.
What do you do that is just for you? How do you incorporate self-care into your life? If you have any ideas I can add as self-care in my life, leave suggestions in the comments.