Hello! You may have noticed that this is my first blog post in almost a year. Why did I stop blogging? Truthfully, as much as I love fashion and beauty, the market is incredibly over saturated and blogs are in danger of becoming one big unoriginal and sponsored experience online. No offence to my lovely blogging friends who are still out there hustling every day, but the scene just isn’t for me anymore.
So why am I breaking my silence now?
Because I’ve recently gone through something that I feel compelled to share with you. And because this blog for some wonderful reason still receives a lot of traffic, I thought this would be the right medium to share.
So here it goes…
In January 2017, I found myself sitting in a hotel room in Anaheim, California thinking about jumping off the balcony. Why?
Because my brain is an asshole.
And yours might be too.
That’s why my story could help you.
Thankfully, I knew not to listen to my brain in that moment. I knew that it wasn’t something I would actually go through with, but regardless, suicidal thoughts are scary as hell and should never be taken lightly. I kept asking myself…how did I get here?! I’m a smart, successful, well-travelled young woman, with a great career, loving family and a wonderful husband – why do I hate myself so much right now? I want to stress the words right now because I hadn’t always felt that way. There were a lot of experiences that brought me to that point.
- I got divorced before most of my friends are even married. Rewind to 2013 when my first marriage ended. Yes, I’m 33 and I’m on my second marriage. Divorce is nothing to be ashamed of, and I truly believe that I ended up with the right person. That said, divorce is incredibly difficult, especially under the circumstances of mine. My husband of 2 years, partner of 6 years and friend of 12 years, wanted a divorce. Not because we fought, not because of money, not because he didn’t love me – because he was transitioning to become a woman. Yes, you read that right. For the past few months, he had been experimenting with hormones and dressing as a woman when I wasn’t home. I was absolutely heartbroken. Not only because my best friend had kept something so crucial from me, but because of the adversity he was about to face in his transition. Above all else, he was my friend and I was worried about him. We put our home up for sale and after 3 months co-existing, I moved into my own condo and became the primary caregiver to our dog, all while in the first few months of starting a challenging new job.
- My dog bit me in the face – twice. Losing her daddy (or second mommy if I’m being politically correct) and moving away from her home was hard on my dog. She became very territorial with her space, her food and her toys. When my new boyfriend (now hubby) James came around and cuddled up to her, she bit him on the cheek. Seven stitches later, we chalked it up to him getting too close too soon. A few months later, Pixel bit me too. I needed 11 stitches to reconstruct my bottom lip and I’ll be scarred for life. Sure, I was pissed about my face, but I was heartbroken that my dog, who I raised from 8 weeks old, had betrayed me like that. After everything we had been through together, I wasn’t ready to let her go yet. We saw veterinarians, dog behaviour experts and trainers for advice and tried to accept Pixel’s spatial aggression. One night, after a few glasses of wine, I was feeling good and forgot the rules – I approached Pixel for a kiss in her bed and she bit me on the nose. Five more stitches later and I made the incredibly difficult decision to put her up for adoption. I want to have babies one day and I can’t have that liability in my home. I miss her SO much.
- A funeral and a wedding. In the midst of a rough few years, I was lucky enough to find love again. AMAZING love. James is the man (key word – man) of my dreams. He proposed to me in January 2016 and we planned our wedding for October 2016. I was happily plugging away at the wedding plans and just two months before the big day, we lost James’ youngest brother Michael at the tender age of 30. It was such a tragic and unprecedented loss for us. The entire family was heartbroken and truthfully, we thought about postponing our wedding day. We decided to keep the date since we’d already sunk so much money into the venue and various vendors. As much as the wedding day gave his mourning family something positive to look forward to, it was really hard to stay happy through such a difficult time.
- I became a manager. This was definitely a positive step in my career, but a big scary one nonetheless. Anyone who takes on leadership goes through some growing pains and perhaps some self-doubt. I certainly did, and tackling this step during the same month that we lost Mike was far more overwhelming than I anticipated. I thought about giving up and going back to my pre-manager role – career sabotage, thanks brain!
So, there you have it. Five years with some seriously tough times. And through it all, I kept on going. I was told countless times how STRONG and RESILIENT I was; I buried myself in my work, my blog and various projects to distract my mind from suffering. I stayed strong for so long that my mind and body decided to throw in the towel, literally the week after my wedding day.
I just hit a wall. I couldn’t sleep, I had no energy, no confidence, I had difficulty concentrating and communicating, I became withdrawn from my friends and family, I barely left the house, my hands were shaky, I experienced a gagging sensation when I tried to eat, my skin was a complete mess and I was losing weight scary fast. The worst symptom – I hated myself. The negative self-talk was relentless and painful. I struggled to think of one thing I liked about myself, and what’s worse, with a privileged lifestyle, I struggled to make a list of the things I was thankful for. Everything sucked, I sucked, and my vocabulary became riddled with worry and a whole lot of “I can’t”. After a few months with this self-defeating struggle, my asshole of a brain went to suicidal thoughts.
I visited four doctors between November and January – a medical doctor, a naturopathic doctor, a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I was desperate to get back to my usual confident self and SO thankful that my new husband wasn’t running for the hills. Two out of four doctors prescribed me with anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants in the first appointment. Even in my depressed fog, I was shocked at how quickly that became part of the conversation. I left their offices with prescriptions in hand, but never filled them. It just didn’t feel like the right thing for me. No judgement to people who need medication – I know they work for many conditions – but I wasn’t ready to resort to that option so quickly.
So, I explored other options – my naturopath put me on a variety of supplements to support adrenal health. My cortisol (the stress hormone) levels were off the charts and as you know, stress can do crazy things to your body, so we needed to get that in check ASAP. I started to exercise more frequently to generate as much endorphins (the happy hormone) as I could. I also enjoyed bi-weekly talk-therapy sessions, and still go once every month or so to talk to someone insightful and unbiased. Looking back, I wish I had taken a leave of absence from work, because if I had slowed down a little, the fog would’ve lifted a lot sooner.
I had been running too fast, too hard, for too long and I needed a break. I needed to be kind to myself. The best piece of advice I received was this – treat yourself as you would treat a friend going through this. It took me a while to get there, but once I cut myself some slack, admitted that I was going through something and started talking about it – my healing journey began. If you’re going through something similar, before you jump into medicating the pain away, listen to your body, slow down, give yourself TIME and above all else – love. When I shared what I was going through with my friends, family and colleagues, I was amazed by how many others had gone through something similar. I was also shocked to know how many people were on medication for depression, anxiety or both. Many friends admitted that they didn’t think they could ever go off the medication and some, were truly struggling with the withdrawals of going off meds.
That’s why I’m writing this. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been there and I know it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. If you feel this way, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You don’t have to medicate (but if you do, that’s okay). You need time.
As much as it’s improved over the years, there is still a stigma regarding mental illness. After this experience, I truly believe that we will all deal with it in some form at some point in our lives, and perhaps more than once. We need to know that it’s safe to talk about it and it’s 100% okay to go through it. My family, friends and employers were incredibly supportive and cut me all kinds of slack during those difficult months. The challenge was getting my brain on the same page. Once I accepted that I wasn’t operating at full capacity, I wasn’t superwoman (and no one expected me to be) and I lowered the bar I had set for myself, I felt leaps and bounds better. It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually, over the course of a few weeks, I found myself again…and thankfully, I liked what I saw in the mirror.
It’s been almost two months since the fog has lifted and I can honestly tell you that I’m stronger and wiser for having that struggle. My story is a very personal one, but I felt compelled to share it and I hope that it can help others who may be going through something similar. If you need to talk, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.