This weekend I have the pleasure of house sitting for a coworker who has also become a very good friend. She has two large dogs and a cat and I am in my glory. I have always loved animals so much, especially dogs and I feel so at ease in this home because I am surrounded by unconditional love from these beautiful creatures. Last night I was having a really rough moment and I burst into tears and immediately the two dogs came up to me on the couch and smothered me in kisses, how can one not smile when you have a German Shepherd and Husky kissing your tears away. This morning I woke up decently early after being up every four hours to let the pups outside and I feel so relaxed, I truly feel that being around animals is making the loneliness of this weekend disappear. I may be 400km away from my family and most of my friends, but for the first time in a long time I don’t feel isolated. I am able to reflect on the difficulties I faced the past few months with my mental health and finally feel like I have overcome the storm and am free to live my life as it should be.
This past fall and into the beginning of the winter I not only dealt with crippling anxiety, but also some of the lowest moments I have had in years. Not only that, the lows and anxiety were laced with hypo-mania, negative energy I will call it, giving me more opportunities to worry and be depressed. I must say that it was somewhat self-inflicted by the fact that I went back to school with a full online course load of 2 classes, while working full time in my career; attempting to learn guitar, by beginning lessons in September, signing up for a volunteer trip with the U of L to Malawi, and bringing a new puppy into my life and the life of my boyfriend! It was too much at once, and that sentence is a run-on because the whole pile of obligations was too much to fit into one thought! I can laugh at myself now for attempting to juggling so many things at once, but honestly, one day I’m going to over-do it so much that I may end up in the hospital again. In fact I was showing so many acute symptoms over these past few months, that had I been in Edmonton I most likely would have been admitted. Instead, I attempted to work through all my grief, but managed to miss a day here and there because I wasn’t coping. I will not beat myself up about this anymore, however.
If I have learned anything in the past decade and a half of taking psych meds and dealing with the challenges of living with a mental illness, it is that this is what I have been given to deal with. It is not a blessing or a curse although it may feel like one much of the time. I am a strong woman, I have overcome so many challenges and adversity due to my illness and nothing can stop me, no matter how hard my mind tries to fight me on that one. I am successful, and I am continuing to reach my career goals by completing my degree, but it is not a race, if I graduate at 30 or 32, in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter, because the end result will be the same. I will be a certified Recreation Therapist, and I will have reached my end goal. I have beaten myself up over not having my degree yet for too long, I started a degree that would have left me in a career that wasn’t right for me, and along the way I learned so much about myself. I went to college and felt like I didn’t fit in, but I excelled academically because of my prior education. Time was not wasted at the U of A, those years gave me the academic skills needed to excel in my college classes. My life has been a journey of self-discovery from a very young age, because of what I have gone through with my illness, but I see it now as a blessing in disguise. If I can make it through suicide attempts, running away from home, anxiety so crippling I was afraid to make a purchase in a store, among many other battles, there is truly nothing standing in my way in life.
This blog post turned into quite the rant about my mental health, but I feel that at this point writing about my struggle, and sharing it with the world is incredibly therapeutic. I hope that those who read this can gather that if you are ever feeling down, you are not alone, and as cruel as a place this world can be on most days, we are all in this together. This is something I hope to remember the next time I am feeling down. Reaching out is a very difficult thing to do, but for me it saved my life in the past few months, and I am grateful for all the support I had. I won’t name names, but I hope that one day I can help someone just as those who helped me this last time around.