My name is Amanda Addison. I’m a wife, mother to 4, a full-time nurse practitioner and a blogger. I am busy but I can handle it. However, it wasn’t so long ago that I was miserable.
I was lying in bed unable to function. Crying all the time. I was severely depressed and even had suicidal thoughts at one point. I truly believed the world would be better off without me. I didn’t eat so I lost a ton of weight. I was vomiting due to all the stress I was enduring.
I stayed home. I didn’t work, hell I barely bathed myself. It felt like there was dead weight pulling my body down into a black hole.
The first thing I had to do was identify that there was a problem. I knew I “didn’t feel well.” I just wasn’t ready to call it what it was. It was rock bottom. It was a mental breakdown. My husband said to me “I’m so worried about you. You’re not yourself.”
That got me thinking.
So I journaled long and hard. I wrote about how I felt. I wrote about my dreams and goals. Sometimes I just wrote how much I hated the color that I had chosen for my bedroom. But I did it. I got it on paper. And it did help me identify that there was indeed a problem. I figured out that I was so busy caring for other people (my patients, my kids, my husband) that I had neglected myself to a dangerous point.
2. Professional help
I didn’t really like my doctor at the time. I didn’t feel like he listened to me. He’d just pat me on the head and say “There there”. Or “Here, let’s try a new medication”. So the second thing I did was find professional help that I liked. Someone who listened to me.
I went to the new doctor and told her everything. All the symptoms I was having from vomiting, to no energy, to lack of a sex drive and on and on and on. I left nothing out.
We settled on starting a new medication and taking me off the meds that weren’t working. To say it was hard and hellish is to put it lightly. New psych medications can take 4-6 weeks to begin to see improvement and old meds that you stop can take up to two weeks to get out of your system.
The nurse practitioner in me knew all this but the clinically depressed suicidal woman couldn’t connect the dots. I saw my doctor weekly while I waited not so patiently for the medications to start working. In the meantime I spent time learning to take care of me.
3. Physical care
The third thing I did was I made myself get up everyday and shower. For some of you, you’re probably rolling your eyes or gagging but to those who have experienced depression you know what I am talking about.
I could barely crawl out of bed nevertheless shower and put on makeup. This is an important step to caring for yourself mentally. If you feel bad physically it’s going to be that much harder to feel good mentally. My doctor gave me little chores to do at each appointment. One that I started doing was painting my nails. It was a small task that took little time but made me feel better about myself. I obviously couldn’t afford manicures as I wasn’t working. This is a self-care item that I still do on a weekly basis. It makes me feel good and complete.
Number four was I changed my eating. Instead of not eating I tried to make myself eat at least two times a day. Depression sucks the energy out of you. It causes you to be in a nasty cycle of not feeling good so you don’t eat. Because you’re depressed AND not eating, you have to break the cycle. A granola bar, an orange, something!
5. Speak Up
The fifth task that I did was I talked about it. I broke down to my husband. I spoke to my friends. I found a therapist that I liked and could talk to. I poured my heart out. She also gave me little tasks to do. I continued to journal. It was such a relief to talk it out.
Although I thought I was hiding it well, everyone knew “something wasn’t right.” So many of them were not surprised when I told them what was going on. If you feel like you are alone, know that you are not. There are support groups and websites everywhere offering support. Individuals like myself who have gone through it and can listen.
So remember this, you are worth it. You are worth the time and effort to take care of. You will become drained if you don’t care for yourself. Be proactive so that it doesn’t get as bad as it did for me. Give yourself grace as you learn to put yourself first. It will make you a better woman, mother, wife, and employee.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”
– Mandy Hale
Amanda runs A Rainbow Life blog. She strives to be honest and open about mental illness and living with it. She keeps it #real. She also offer facts, treatments and self-care options that you can work on. Follow her on IG @arainbowlife