A bit about my mental health journey
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day
How I feel most days now. Happy!
The one day a year when everyone starts openly talking about mental health.
Why? Because it is stigmatized to be something bad. But many of us deal with depression at some point in our lives.
Talking about it helps.
Almost six years ago I had my youngest of my two children.
It was a very happy time, we planned for him and were blessed with him with no issues getting pregnant or throughout the pregnancy.
With my daughter who is almost 10, the same thing.
My son had a rough first year compared to many babies.
He was born in the 25% percentile (lower than my daughter but he was early so no surprise).
I was determined to breast feed him exclusively as I knew more the second time around (My daughter had both for the first 5 months but I wanted to do better as I knew what my issues were with her and they were workable this time around - little did I realize the issues I was going to have were so much different)
- I got the pump
- I went to breastfeeding clinics and specialists
- We were at the Doctor's at least 3 times a week for months
- He was throwing everything up
- He had to sleep elevated
- I slept beside him to be close in case something happened
- He was on medication for reflux
I felt like my body was failing me - it was like he was allergic to me. He wasn't growing enough (He dropped off the growth chart). Finally, I was told to go cold turkey and put him on the bottle.
It was devastating. That precious connection was severed abruptly
I failed. . .
But I didn't - not really
- I fed him
- He grew
- He stopped throwing up
But severing that bond cold turkey because your son was “starving” and knowing you were to blame (I wasn’t as he ate and was fed he just didn’t keep it down). It messed with my mind a little. I remember sobbing as I was feeding him a bottle and feeling like a failure. I remember feeling like my body had failed me too.
Even though it grew two beautiful children it felt like it failed me. . .
Fast forward about a month.
My son wakes for his regular midnight feeding.
He is growing well by this time and looks quite healthy.
But he’s a little warm, a little fussy, a little “off.”
I give him some baby Tylenol as that was all I had available at the time and come morning we go to see the Pediatrician.
We get there, no fever at this point but she just doesn’t quite think he looks right and asks me to take him down to the Emergency at North York Hospital.
I grab my mom and we go.
At triage the nurse pokes at his skin and asks if the mottling is normal.
I say no.
She says she needs someone to fill out paperwork and someone to join the baby with them to be examined.
Grandma goes with John; I go do the paperwork. . . Nurse comes back 2 mins later and tells me to follow her – paperwork can wait.
I get into the back room and there are about 4 nurses and numerous Doctors all working on John.
John is screaming at this point. They can’t get an IV into him as his veins are not working.
One nurse says she used to work at a Pediatric wing for NICU babies and they put the IV in the head and he had one large one that was visible because he was crying.
She asks permission of the Dr. to do this (clearly this is NOT the normal procedure).
The Doctor asks her if she is sure and gives her permission.
At this point all we know is that John’s fever is high and they say his body is starting to fail. . .
At this point no one knows what causing the fever but the battery of tests start. I don’t remember them all but I remember the spinal tap and the EKG on my little baby boy.
As they are ordering these tests I call Jack and tell him to get to the hospital as soon as possible as no one knew what was happening and I didn’t know if John would make it.
I stood calming watching this all happen and trying to stay out of everyone’s way.
I remember a nurse coming to check on him later once he was stabilized and we were in our own room and thanking me for staying calm.
I just looked at her and said I never wanted to be considered a distraction.
You all needed to focus on him.
If I distracted them and something happened. . .
It took a while but they ended up determining that this was a urinary tract infection.
He was hospitalized for at least three days in quarantine to make sure it wasn’t anything else.
It was a scary time.
It turned out he had Urinary Reflux.
This turned into many more hospital visits and tests over the coming months to make sure he was ok.
He was hospitalized again for a few days around six months with yet another urinary tract infection.
We were at clinics, Doctor's offices, Numerous Hospitals over that first year.
Once the reflux seemed to get under control the “Strep Throat” time period started and reoccurred again and again and again (approx. 8 times before he was 2).
Every long weekend he was sick that first year and a half to two years.
We went on a cruise when he was about 18 months old and he got a wicked fever shortly after we set sail.
We were out at sea and the Doctor's in the Cruise ships hospitals were doing what they could for him to bring the fever down.
We were discussing the need to have him airlifted off the ship as the next port wasn’t for days.
Turns out he got Scarlet Fever – while we were in the middle of nowhere. . . another scary time.
Fast forward a little bit more and John has outgrown his reflux, had his tonsil removed and he is now a VERY healthy boy.
However, during that time I felt powerless.
I was scared my baby boy was going to die more than once.
I was asked to return to work after 4 months’ part time.
I did it because I needed the money and I needed the distraction.
Don’t get me wrong – I was home 90% of the time but I worked as well.
I built walls
I built walls to protect myself from the emotions I was feeling
Really high walls around my heart to protect me from the emotions I didn’t want to feel
That worked for a while. . .
When it stopped, was when my thoughts on how my career was going started to change.
I was working all these hours to be successful, make money to pay the bills, pay for daycare etc.
I was connected all the time.
I was well compensated for this – don’t get me wrong.
I was selling about $5 million in Print Sales a year and doing well.
But. . . the work atmosphere was becoming toxic.
It was no longer a happy place to go each day.
I started working from home because I didn’t/couldn’t go into the office and face the negativity that was breeding there.
I was taking my kids to daycare at 8am and picking them up at 6pm and they were in bed by 8pm.
I didn’t get any time with them.
Abby was having her own issues at this time (that is a different story).
But it was all hitting me about how powerless you are as a parent and how things needed to change but I had no idea how.
I sunk into a bad depression mid 2013 and was medicated for it by early 2014.
I still functioned through this but the timeframe is blurry to me.
I don’t recall parts very clearly anymore as they just aren’t worth remembering.
I do remember calling into work sick one day and sitting in the chair staring into nothingness as I couldn’t function that day.
The only thing that got me moving was because I knew I had a Doctor's appointment scheduled and I wanted to see him to tell him the medication had stopped working. . .
I was then referred to a Psychiatrist and worked with her for over a year to talk things out and she adjusted my medication over time to something much more manageable.
We realized in those conversations that I most likely had been dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for years and years over the winter months.
as that was my busy time of year at work I made it through while the work was my passion.
Since the work had changed and adding into it all that had been going on I had crashed that year.
I spent months re-evaluating my life and what I wanted out of it.
Through all of this I have had the unwavering and completely loving support of my amazing husband Jack. He is my soul mate.
I was introduced to Essential Oils in July of 2014. Yes my mental health journey does make me talk about essential oils. . .
I immediately found they made me feel better and gave me a pick me up. The community of people I was introduced too were positive and happy and this showed me what I wanted back in my life again.
Overtime and under Doctor's care I was able to lower my medication as I made lifestyle changes (more exercise, sun etc) that helped as well as talking about the issues I had bottled up.
I am no longer on the medication but am very thankful for having it when I needed them.
Citrus Bliss became my Happy Oil. I wear it in a diffuser necklace around my neck daily for a pick me up!
I quit the job, we moved cities and have rebuilt a great life.
I am studying to be an Aromatherapist as I want to help others find some light in their dark places.
The effects of Essential Oils on emotions is very real and they can help.
They can complement other treatments.
People who knew me then and see me now keep telling me I am a different person. That I glow in a way I didn't then. This makes me happy because I found my way out and have tools to help when the days are long and gloomy.
There is always more to the story than what I have shared here today.
But this is a part of it.
If you made it this far - thanks
John just after he started growing. . .his face is a little bony. . .
John just after his fever broke on the cruise - you can see the rash on his face from the Scarlet Fever
How we are now
A very close family who spends a lot of time together
and I get to watch them grow and I am present in their lives completely