Okay so I had it all together (or so I thought) up until June of 2017. I was planning a wedding, buying a house, had just started a new job and trying my damnest to make sure everything was going perfect. I began to unravel. I think when you try so hard to attain the unattainable, putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, you set yourself up for a mental breakdown. The scary part is, when anxiety/depression happens, you don’t even know what it is. It’s scary and sad. At least in my case it was.
I had so many amazing things going on in my life. My dad was recovering at the time, Jerry and I just put an offer in on a house, and I had started a new career leaving behind one I didn’t necessarily like. You’d think I’d be over the moon, and at times I was but holy shit was I overwhelmed. I held it all inside, hiding my emotions from everyone including myself. The funny thing about emotions is they always find a way out. No matter it be weeks, months, or even years, it comes out. In so many ways it comes out. So here I am at a new job thinking I have vertigo because I am so dizzy (lol) when in reality I was having panic attacks. Growing up I was taught that mental illness isn’t a real thing, to shake it off, eat clean and exercise, you’ll be fine. I would go on to believe that and hurt some of my closest friends who were going through some shit by telling them exactly that. “Why don’t you try taking care of yourself? Don’t drink, eat well and exercise. You do not need meds. You certainly don’t need to talk to someone, that’s like intense.” GUYS, this can not be further from the truth.
Fast forward to me alone in my car thinking that I have never in my life felt so alone. What did that even mean? Driving home from work I have tunnel vision. I am petrified but refuse to tell anyone because if you say it that means it’s real. Couldn’t even see the car in front of me. Get home, don’t say a word about it, take a walk with my mom. We see a car accident on the way and it happens again. I literally lose vision on a sidewalk and pretend I can still see. WTF. As soon as I begin to run on a treadmill my symptoms subside. I have now diagnosed myself with vertigo and burnt corneas (duh from looking at the sun for too long, that’s why I cannot see). L. O. fucking L. No idiot, you’re having another panic attack.
It gets worse. My heart continues to race, it takes me hours to fall asleep while my mind races, my appetite is gone. Finally, I admit it to my therapist. “Listen I have anxiety but I think I can deal with it without meds. I’ll work out, not drink, eat healthy. This will pass.” My dad is heavily addicted to pain pills so naturally I am absolutely petrified of them. I don’t take birth control because being dependent on something every single day sounds scary and unnatural to me. Two more therapy sessions later and I’m begging for something to get me out of this mental hell. I reached out to everyone I know that has gone through this before and suddenly I wasn’t so alone. I began a low dosage of medication and I swear to you it saved me. It usually takes a while to kick in and sometimes you must try a few until you get it right. Sometimes you only need medication for a year or two. I won’t get into it but when your brain is imbalanced, it is what it is. Listen to it.
Jerry once told me as I was sobbing about having to take my lexapro, “it’s like your brain has a cold and you’re giving it antibiotics.” When I first told my brother Ray about it we laughed so fucking hard thinking of Kanye West’s lyrics, “You ain’t never seen nothing crazier than this *&%%^ when he off his Lexapro.” Okay Kanye. Okay.
Since childhood I would take everything on. It was in my nature since my mom is such a bad ass. My dad was in and out of my life dealing with his own issues, causing me much anxiety that I wasn’t even aware of. We were taught to be strong and hold it together. My primary said it best. “You are usually so in control of your emotions so you’re sad and scared because you don’t know why your body is acting like this”.
I think one thing I wasn’t taught was that mental illness is a thing and that it is absolutely okay to not be okay. It’s so important to know that. Reach out if you start feeling weird, if you’ve always felt weird or if it’s getting worse. I promise you will be overwhelmed by the support and honesty. This too shall pass.
Even writing about this makes me feel light.