How My Mental Health Crisis Brought Courage

Anxiety and depression are two things that seem to be affecting more and more people in this day and age. I am no exception to that rule, but unlike some sufferers, I decided several months ago to end the silence. Today, I would like to share my story with you.

I want to warn you before I begin, however, that it isn’t an easy story to read as there may be some triggers involved. I plan to be real and sometimes reality isn’t pretty

I thought about starting at the beginning, but I couldn’t figure out what the beginning truly is because in my case what could have been the end actually was my beginning. So for this story, I am going to start there.

The Moment Of Crisis

I can’t tell you the day or even the month but I do know it was bitter cold outside and I was standing alone on our snow covered bridge wearing flip flops, a t-shirt, and a pair of pyjama pants. 

I looked longingly into the rocks at the bottom of the creek and couldn’t help but think, “It’s too bad they’re not a bit farther away. Jumping from here would just get you hurt.” 

The thought was not a pleasant one. I had often before wondered if the people I loved would be better off without me, but that was the first time I ever seriously found myself considering ending my own life and it terrified me. I physically shook my head from side to side as if trying to force the thought to leave. But it wouldn’t go. 

I remember staring at the creek for what felt like hours and then at the cars passing on the road in front of me. I honestly don’t remember anything after that except my husband screaming at me, “What are you doing?!” 

His words somehow snapped me into reality and I walked towards him telling him I had just needed some fresh air. He knew I was lying

How I Got There

Early Years

I have never been a mentally stable person. In fact, even as a young baby I would cry and scream in the presence of crowds or even rowdy family gatherings. School made it even worse, resulting in physical pain from the anxiety and sometimes even panic attacks which everyone told me was my way of seeking attention. 

The dismissal of my feelings only worsened my anxiety as I came to my feelings as something that should be hidden. And so by the time I reached my teen years I had learned to plaster on a fake smile and hide the marks on my body I had found to be a safe source of relief from my emotional pain. 

I learned to cope increasingly better with my anxieties and even learned to defeat them in many instances. I stopped injuring myself, developed some good friendships, and had enough self-confidence to fly out of the country on my own at the age of 18. Yes, I bawled like a baby as I got on that plane because of my fear. But I won. I did it. 

The Six Months Before My Crisis 

For the sake of time, I’m going to fast-forward several years to 2017, the year I found myself on that bridge. I was 26 years old, the mother of three young children and married to a man who was indoctrinated into an almost cult-like religion. That man wanted another child. 

The thought was terrifying to me because, while I longed for another baby, I had not had easy pregnancies. I had suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum which made me very ill with all three of my pregnancies. Worse than that, each one had seemed to cause a significant decline in my mental health and in our marriage. But after some time, he convinced me and without hardly even trying, I got that positive result. 

At the same time, my husband took on a new job working very different hours and with the potential of having to go out of state at any time. He also became the pastor at a local church. So much change completely crippled me. 

Three Months Later

Three months later, I was two months pregnant with our fourth child. Too ill to go to church (both physically and mentally) my husband went alone. He returned to tell me he had resigned his position as pastor and wanted a divorce. 

The news was devastating and it drove me into a period of mania. As I settled, however, I began to understand just how much stress he had been under. My poor mental health had caused him to suffer as well. In fact, he wanted a divorce because he thought his presence was the cause of my mental health problems. 

The next three months were spent with me almost living in bed in tears. My children prepared food for themselves as best as they could. The house turned into a complete warzone, and I didn’t care. I completely gave in to my depression and even decided to give up my baby for adoption.

After That Cold Winter Time Of Crisis

I’m not able to tell you exactly what happened that night on the bridge. I know I must have come into the house. I do remember taking a hot bath to warm up. I remember curling up on the couch alone, as my husband slept in the bed. I remember those things very vaguely. 

What I remember clearly, however, was the way I woke up the next morning. The entire house was silent, but my mind wasn’t. I awoke with determination and vigour. I spent some time in prayer and I made this promise to myself, “I am going to stop worrying about my marriage and about my kids. I need to get better. If I keep doing what I am doing, I will destroy them and me. But I am worth something. I deserve to be alive. I just have to show myself.” 

I didn’t know how I would pull myself up, but I determined then and there that I absolutely had to, no matter what. 

Making My Plans Known

I marched into the bedroom where my husband was asleep and woke him gently. With tears dripping down my cheeks, I said confidently, “Honey, I love you and I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I don’t know if our marriage can be fixed, but I am going to get better. And I’ve decided, I’m keeping the baby.”

I then asked if he would please just stay until the baby was three months old, to give me time to recover from childbirth and from being a new mom. He agreed, and then went back to sleep. 

That day, the day after I wondered if my life should end, was the day that my life actually began anew. It was the day that I first realized I had the courage to fight back against anxiety and depression. 

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