“I had a nervous breakdown in early September. A full on, full body, let’s have it out, breakdown. I am a strong person: a master multi-tasker and an extrovert who loves people, but life changed with the birth of my now toddler twins. Our journey to parenthood wasn’t easy; infertility, IVF, a miscarriage, a stressful pregnancy, and a stay in the special care unit set me up with trauma that I didn’t have time to deal with. I had two babies to love and nurture! Two perfect babies, who I adored and who needed me, all of me, and I was going to give that to them no matter what that meant.
I was super mom. The best mom. I stayed at home, I played, I snuggled, I created, I read books. We went on daily outings and scheduled playdates. I did it all for them, but I forgot about me. I would think, ‘I have time for me later. This is their time now.’ Everyone says to hold onto every single moment because it goes by so fast. That is a lovely, and exhausting, sentiment. Especially for someone with underlying trauma and anxiety. No pressure at all. Ah! All the pressure. Looking back, I saw it coming but I thought I could power through it. Well, even the strong need a break, and because I wasn’t asking or taking one, my body did the work for me. It was a slow-moving storm that turned into a hurricane and I went down. Hard.
In a six-day period, I had two ER visits where the doctors looked at me and confirmed that I wasn’t dying ‘at that moment’ and sent me home, and finally an urgent care visit where I laid across the receptionist’s desk sobbing and begging them to help me. When the doctor finally came in, she was brusque and cold with me. I looked at her and through my tears said, ‘I need you to know this isn’t me. I am a bright and happy person. Something is wrong. Please help me.’
I watched the change in her demeanor. She warmed and responded to me. She came into this moment with me and took me seriously. I finally got confirmation that I wasn’t dying, but I was having crippling anxiety and could not function anymore. I never feared I would hurt myself or my children, but I did fear that the world would hurt them, and I despaired for other children that were in pain. I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I just couldn’t keep my deflector shields up anymore. I couldn’t eat or sleep, I had tremors and nausea, I cried and cried and cried and feared everything. Toward the end I couldn’t talk, or really even walk. I needed help.
And here is where you come in. One of you took me to the ER on a Saturday afternoon, and one of you took me at 3 a.m. on a Thursday. One of you looked at me and knew I wasn’t ok and stayed with me all day. One of you came over Friday and watched my children, while another came over to take me to urgent care. You both insisted I couldn’t leave the doctor without answers. One of you took me to your home where I could rest, and take my valium, and cry all night so my children wouldn’t see me like that; one of you came to my house and cooked food for my family; a few of you came over and watched the kids and cleaned so my husband could care for the kids; many of you came over and brought me food and hugs and love while I was away; one of you helped me finance a nanny to come and watch the kids a few hours a week so I could take care of myself; and, all of you sent me love and care and compassion and empathy and understanding that carried me through this hard time and on to the healing that has begun and flourished within me.
Throw in a kick butt therapist and brilliant psychiatrist, and I have the strongest support system I could ever imagine. A good friend told me that the term ‘nervous breakdown’ is deceptive. That this life event is truth telling. Full body truth telling. That sounds right. We all need space to find and tell our truth. So, I share this with you in order to care for myself and to care for the others in our lives that are going through the same thing. There is no shame in my story; it is a story about love and healing and community. So much is written about self-care, but I could not self-care myself out of this. It took a community of people, my community, and for them my family and I are eternally grateful. All my love and strength to those of you going through this right now. You are not alone. We hear you, see you, and love you, and we got you.”
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