Anatomy of a nervous breakdown

So let’s go back to the summer of 2015. This is when the wheels really started coming off the train that was my life. I was not dealing with anything well. Work was insanely busy. I was working at 150% per usual, not taking breaks, not coping well. I couldn’t slow down. So my poor, tired, overworked brain decided to do it for me. I stopped being able to sleep. I developed insomnia so quickly that I didn’t understand what was happening. I would lay awake for hours thinking I was going insane. This went on every night for six months.

There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. It is hell on earth. You think you’re going insane or at least that the world has ceased to make any sense. My brain was so overwhelmed, so anxious, so undone by my thoughts, that it stopped being able to sleep. This was a sign that things had really gotten bad. Then my mood plummeted. I couldn’t stave off the depression that had been lingering in the shadow the entire time just waiting to come on. I couldn’t stop crying. I spent most days in bed in tears desperately hoping for sleep. It got so bad that by November, I almost ended up in the hospital. I’m lucky I didn’t end up in hospital. Not sure if you’ve ever been to an emergency room with a mental health or psychiatric condition? It’s not a fun place to be. They don’t treat you well. They don’t take good care of you and ensure that you feel like you’re going to get help. They don’t treat you like you’re actually a human being with rights and choices and feelings.

So there I was almost needing to be hospitalized, not sleeping, barely eating and crying all the time. Sounds fun right? I found a clinic in Ottawa that did cognitive behavioural therapy and made an appointment for an intake. The clinical director heard my story of crisis (both on that day and historical) and got me in almost immediately to see the woman who is still my therapist, Dr. Jill Firestone. I could write several posts dedicated to how amazing Jill is but I’ll save that for another day. I’ll just put it this way: Jill saved my life. In no uncertain terms. Without her expert care and guidance, I would not be here today. So, I’m very grateful to have had access to her care, to have a job and medical benefits that allowed me to pay for it because it was not cheap. Good help costs money and many people in Canada struggling with mental health issues can’t afford to see someone. I am so fortunate and grateful to have found Jill and to continue to work with her. She is the most skilled psychologist I’ve ever met. When you find someone who really works for you, who really shows you that improvement is possible and doable, hold on to that helper until that you feel you don’t need them anymore.

I am doing much better after four years of seeing Jill, regularly exercising (ref: yesterday’s post about Wheelhouse Cycle), eating healthy foods, trying to limit my alcohol (some weeks I do better than others), trying to sleep at least 7 hours a night and taking breaks from work. I have an amazingly loving partner, wonderful children and a supportive boss. I take my medication and vitamins. I do self care stuff. I work at it. Every. Single. Day. It is not easy recovering from your life bottoming out. But it is possible. xo Janet

Published by Janet Gwilliam-Wright

Feminist and queer. Professional teller of truths. Slayer of personal demons.

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