I love this time of year when I get holiday cards from friends
that include letters about the fantastic year they have had.
They mention all the milestones their children have reached and the
amazing trips they took. I have had years like that before…but not this past one. Which is exactly why I didn’t send out a letter about my Very Bad Year. No one wants to hear all that. They just want to know the good, not the ugly. And that is totally understandable.
Instead, I figured I would share my letter (if I were to do it, which I am not) here with all of you!
I can officially call the year 2013 the "Year of Michelle’s Breakdown." It really started around the holidays last year. I just felt off…I couldn’t really put my finger on anything specific other than I didn’t feel right. Once January hit and school started back for my daughter, I began to have stomach aches and nausea pretty regularly. It started when I went out of the house. Then it happened at home and did not stop.
You know that feeling when you are driving and you almost get hit by another car? Well, I pretty much
had that feeling for three months. It got to the point where I literally could not leave my house. The only time I did leave was when my husband would drive me to the doctor or the ER because I knew I was dying. I just didn’t know why. I lost too much weight as I literally couldn’t eat a bite of anything. I had every possible test run and every doctor came back telling me I was perfectly fine and healthy. BUT I WASN’T!
I was at my lowest point, just lying in bed crying and wishing it would all go away. And it did… once I
checked myself in to a psychiatric hospital. You can read about that here.
How could I end up with a diagnosis of extreme anxiety and major depression? Well, for starters, if
you have extreme anxiety, you are most likely depressed about it as it limits your life completely. Anxiety is a nasty problem to have and can literally ruin your life. I went to one counselor who had been working in the business for over 20 years and she told me, in front of my husband, that I had the worst case she had ever seen. Well, I do strive to be #1 most of the time, but this wasn’t a trophy I wanted to display on the mantle.
At the hospital I was put on pharmaceutical medications. I fought it for so long and knew this was the only way out at the time. I tried every single holistic method I could and absolutely nothing worked. But the medications allowed me to get my life back, sort of. The biggest problem was that they left me feeling completely sleepy all day, every day. I also feel like I went through the last 9 months like a zombie, no real highs or lows….just mediums.
I researched every possible article on anxiety that I could find on the internet. And I was shocked at how many people actually experience it. Not many get to the point where I did, thankfully. But it is common and it is sad that more people don’t discuss it. I felt completely alone and knew there was no way I could explain any of this to someone that had never experienced it. Even my poor husband was at a loss at trying to understand. I can remember begging him one day to take me to the ER and he didn’t want to
because he knew what would happen: they would run tests and nothing would show up wrong. I went so many times that I will be paying off these medical bills for the next few years, lucky me.
So what I found was that there HAD to be something wrong in my head (literally!). I found a Functional Medicine doctor and went to see her about 6 weeks ago. She ran a bunch of tests and discovered I have a parasite and candida. I wasn’t expecting those two as I eat really clean and haven’t taken antibiotics in years. But the best news I got was from a blood test she performed which measured my organic acids, amino acids and minerals, among a few more. This test revealed I was low in EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY. So normally that would be bad news, but it is great news because now I have found the source of this horrific anxiety. My body basically isn’t absorbing the amino acids and vitamins most likely due to the parasite. This for me was proof that I am NOT crazy! There are medical reasons behind my issues that eating all the healthy food in the world wouldn’t fix until I found the root problem. And for that, I am so thankful.
I am now treating the parasite, then will follow up with a candida treatment and am supplementing the amino acids in the meantime. I am not fully healed yet but, for the first time all year, there is light at the end of this tunnel!
So really, this anxiety tore through me and my family for the better part of 2013. How do you write that in a letter to all your friends and family? Well, you don’t!
So now that I have shared all this, I can tell you that this year has been life changing for me in so many great ways. I have learned to appreciate the little things and I work daily to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to put myself first and make sure that I am whole and healthy. I am calmer and more in touch with my feelings than ever before. I literally hadn’t cried once since my mom’s funeral 4 years ago but this year I have given myself permission to shed tears if I need to.
And it wouldn’t be a proper letter if I didn’t mention that my awesome 6th grade daughter played club volleyball in the spring and is already practicing for the season starting in January. She barely weighs 80 pounds but has mastered her jump serve and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I am thankful that she weathered the storm of this year with me and came out just fine.
I am thankful for my incredible husband that supported and loved me every single day of this year, through all the hard times. I cannot even imagine what he felt the night he left me at the psychiatric hospital. I know it was hard for him as well. But through it, we became even closer and stronger. And that, at the end of the day, is what really matters.
So 2013 was a rough year, but we made it through. I am anticipating a much better holiday letter next year! So stay tuned!
Note: I am sharing this very personal story publicly in hopes that it can help others who have been in my shoes to know you are not alone. Mental health issues, when not treated, can lead to so many devastating things, including suicide. My feeling is that there needs to be more help out there for people that need it. I went through probably 20 doctors that basically dismissed me and offered no help. It's not their fault, they just probably weren't trained to identify issues like this when all my physical tests came back negative. True change starts by having these open conversations and when we let go of the shame behind it.
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!