At my six-week postpartum visit, I had to fill out a computerized wellness survey. I was so overjoyed to be able to select "no" to the feelings of wanting to hurt yourself. I was smiling as I selected "yes" to feeling happy.
You see, if you've struggled with mental illness, you may fear it lurks in your subconscious, ready to strike when you're most happy. I thought I'd defeated it in my teens. I thought my depression and anxiety were brought on by my bulimia. I thought the suicidal thoughts and cutting were a result of taking the medications they later figured out caused suicidal thoughts in teens. Then in my early 20s, I thought I'd beat my panic attacks when I switched to decaf. Fast-forward to my third pregnancy: I felt so healthy and was working out. My hormones changed everything. They beat the crap out of me. I was scared. I was scared of my thoughts. I was scared of myself. I was scared of my crazy.
I was having panic attacks. I wondered if I'd ever be OK. I felt a little mad at God when I had one in church. I went to see a therapist so she would tell me I wasn't crazy. I couldn't go on medication while pregnant and didn't want to. I was deathly afraid of postpartum depression and knew all the nightmare stories. I was so aware of my feelings. I hated my feelings. I wished I wasn't so sensitive. I told my husband I wished I could turn off my emotions. I studied panic attacks, anxiety and OCD to help empower myself. I was ashamed of my crazy, though.
There was this little fear that crazy was hiding in the bushes, ready to attack, an intruder on my own well-being. That if that happened, I'd go back to square one, like an old factory that had a board posted "days without" injury/incident/insanity. Do panic attacks make you an insane person? Absolutely not. You just feel like it. Part of the reason I'd had an eating disorder in the first place was to have control. If I could eat once a day, or weigh 110 pounds, or throw up... I was in control. I was taking charge. Panic attacks were the antithesis of this. At least when I was depressed, I wasn't afraid of myself. When medication made me numb, feeling nothing was better than being afraid of literally losing my mind forever. Add to that having kids and feeling like a failure because of my panic attacks. If I could just be freakin' normal, everything would be OK. Looking back on my childhood, I realized I had them at sleepovers. I saw how I had drunk too much, many times in my life, in order to escape being me. I'd been uncomfortable being me for the majority of my life. I figured out I'd been looking for inner peace all along. That being thinner or having more money wouldn't kill the demons I felt haunted me; I needed to take things to a higher place. To find a connection to a Higher Power, for real. My spirituality was my way outta crazy.
I've done lots of work in the past few years and I've had two children since then. I've felt anxiety try to creep up a handful of times, but I took charge of my energy and stopped it. I work on myself and I'm authentic about how I feel always. Positivity, high vibes and good energy may sound woo woo to some, but they've saved my life. All my self-improvement stuff has made me become a really genuinely happy person. I'm no longer afraid of my crazy. Thank God. I gained a totally different relationship with myself, life and the Divine.
Taking care of my mind-body-spirit is not just for fun, but a necessity. As a mom, I want to be the zany kinda crazy, not feel like a loon. I created a new ME -- as in, I let go of negativity, shame, fear, doubt, feelings of unworthiness. I reprogrammed myself through love. I loved myself enough to lose some friends and take chances, risking rejection and daring to be me. I write my truth so that I'm free and maybe others can become so in the process. When you walk through the fires of your own personal hell and come out on the other side, you don't give a sh*t if others "get" you or like you. You live for you. You never want to go back to that place again and will never sacrifice your sanity or happiness, no matter what it makes you look like. I've done the happy-go-lucky-lookin' lady who secretly hates herself and suffers deeply inside. So if now it looks like I've lost my mind because I do things differently, I think in a weird way, speak my truth too much, or I'm too bold for some people... I'm OK with that. I don't do personas, other people's ideas/ideals, play a role or do the fake stuff. I'm real and the good kind of crazy now.
If you are afraid and feel lost, I send you a big hug. I'm envisioning you whole. Hold onto hope. Trust it will pass and you will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of your own personal hell. With this strength, you'll know that your courage is your inner fire. You can do anything after that. Feel that knowing, deep down, that everything is going to be OK. I'm rootin' for you. If doubt arises, remember I'm cheering you on. One day, if you have to take a wellness survey, you'll be selecting "HELL YES" to the happy questions and even if you feel a lil' fear arise when you see the hard questions about feeling depressed or hurting yourself, you can confidently select "no, never." And truly believe it and believe in you. Wishing you good crazy.