June 9, 2016
Disclaimer: SickNotWeak does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
I was 49 years old and was ready to head back to school (I am a teacher at a K-12 school). I went to work and I couldn’t breathe. I was dizzy. My heart was skipping beats (which it did for years and I didn’t know why). I was nauseated. I was afraid. I felt like someone was choking me only allowing me to breathe enough to stay alive. I went home that day and in the middle of the night I had a severe panic attack. I was suicidal. I wanted the pain to stop. My mind was racing. I wanted everything to STOP – just stop even for a minute so I could get my shit together. JUST STOP! I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again to the pain. I called my sister and my uncle for help. My sister came and got me in the middle of the night. The next year was the most difficult of my life. For the first few months I was immobilized. I couldn’t drive, watch TV (too much stimulation), be alone (loneliness) because it brought on panic attacks. I wanted it to just stop so I could catch my breath.
I had been diagnosed with Bipolar II five years previous to the breakdown. I was put on Lamotrigine but at the age of 35 the doctor had put me on Celexa, then Effexor, then Wellbutrin, then back on Effexor. I had tried many types of meds, as most of us do, but none worked. Lamotrigine worked but only scratched the surface of my mental health issues.
It felt soothing to my mind and body.
Throughout the year of my breakdown I began Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I was put on Seroquel to help me sleep. As the therapy progressed I began to realize that I had been suffering from mental health issues as far back as 10 years old. I was brought up in a home where there was a great deal of physical and emotional abuse. My father would beat my mother and threaten to kill us kids. So of course I suffered from PTSD as well. I was suicidal most of my life and I always knew something was wrong with me. I started playing basketball at the age of 10. I became very good at it and I put all of my time and energy into the game. At the same time I discovered alcohol. Mom was 16 and dad was 18 when they had my older sister. I was born when they were 18 and 20. They would party and drink a lot so I would go around and taste all of the left over drinks. I liked the feeling I got when I drank it. It felt soothing to my mind and body.
My basketball career began to take off. I was playing up with the senior high school team when I was in junior high. I started representing my province at nationals when I was 15. I moved from my small town to a bigger centre in grade 11 to play. I played university basketball for 5 years as well. My goal was to make the Canadian National Team. I accumulated many MVP, Player of the Game and Hustler awards. Everyone thought I was on top of the world but I was suffering horribly. I put a mask on every day and went out to face the world. Throughout my basketball career I would have episodes of anger, explosiveness and crying spells. I was having panic attacks before practice, before games and during games. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. The only relief I found was when I drank alcohol and partied on weekends. I didn’t drink much during the week because of the training schedule I was on.
After my basketball career ended I got married and had two beautiful daughters. I started coaching at the high school I taught at. I couldn’t shake the suicidal thoughts so I drank. My high and low cycles ended up killing my marriage and it made it extremely difficult for my kids.
I am able to regulate my mind and body now.
I Got Better
I have been a single mom for 18 years. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been. I take my meds every day and continue with my therapy. Through exercise, guided imagery, yoga, diet, and continued reading and learning about the brain I am able to live a more balanced life. I still struggle with the manic highs and the depression but I am able to regulate my mind and body now. I have started speaking to young people about my struggles and how suffering in silence is not the way to go. I talk about the stigma surrounding mental health and how we need to work together to get rid of it and educate people.
The more I share, the better I feel.
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