How did I end up here? How did I let things get this far? I’m a nurse, surely I should have spotted this. I take care of people all day long, 12 hour days, 7 day shifts.
I grew up in a tough household. Stiffen the upper lip and learn to move on, get on with it. In my family, depression, medication and therapy are taboo, you’re considered weak. I’ve witnessed first hand how members of my own family have battled with depression, anxiety and done nothing about it, only to live miserable lives, ridden by anxiety and fear. Nothing changed. They got stuck so far in their mind that they couldn’t climb out. It was like living under a storm cloud, knowing somewhere out there exists blue skies. But you’re crippled, unable to drive to a better location and see the sun.
I never really believed in bi-polar disorder either. Some days, I would wake up feeling amazing. But the feeling wouldn’t last. I would be crippled again a few days later. Worry, anxiety and just all round general depression would creep back. I picked myself up again, convinced that if I was able to beat the last bouts of worry, I could easily beat it again. Quite a resilient thought, and to be honest, I applaud myself for such strength. However, the feeling started to become a distraction. I couldn’t concentrate on what my kids or my partner were saying to me. I would gloss over their conversations and things started to feel like a blur. I wasn’t remembering anything that they said, I was essentially missing memories. At dinner time, I would eat so quick that I’d feel sick afterwards. When feeling stressed, I’d snap quickly.
So when is enough, enough? It’s enough now. I got to the point where I knew this wasn’t going away. I wasn’t able to do this on my own. A friend suggested therapy before taking any drugs. Perhaps, would talking to someone help? The next day I’d feel fine. Perhaps ‘that’ patient finally left the hospital and you know your day will be better because they won’t be abusing you anymore. Perhaps something in my personal life lightened up. The difference, is now I was adapting and learning to understand the trend. In a few days I might feel the same way.
Self care is something we talk about often in healthcare. To me it was like talking about a vacation that never happens. I know I need to do it, but if I do, will I be crippled with anxiety while I’m gone? What if I can’t relax? What if I can’t afford it? The idea of self care, made me more anxious.
So, I came to the realization that I needed help. The way I was living was no way to live, and if I had to fake it till I made it, then I’d happily take some advice or help. I sought out help.
This is only the first part of my journey. I’ve made the step towards feeling better, and even the first phone call gave me something I haven’t had in a long time – hope. Knowing that I have a schedule for self care helped lift me out of the swamp and I feel like I’m on the road to a better place. Each day still feels the same, up and down, but the difference is knowing how to handle the darker days. I’m learning to use the tools I never knew I had. Each day has a purpose, because I create one. I give myself a task each day, some days that task might be telling myself how to handle an unexpected situation, or pre-determining how to handle the anxiety attack when it happens.
I’ll let you all know how I get on.