i have a mental illness.

12 Feb

February 12th is BELL’s mental health awareness day. so i thought i would share my story with you!

it’s not that major, or fancy (lol) but it’s all true.

my name is cathryn, and i have a mental illness.


call it postpartum depression, anxiety, depression or panic attacks, i have something. and have had it for a few years. after baby number one, i knew something wasn’t right, but i still felt like me the majority of the time…and by the time baby girl hit a year, i felt pretty much 100% fabulous.

and then i got pregnant again. let the hormones rage. i struggled with feeling more than tired, i was exausted. and taking care of a one year old, cleaning the house, laundry, groceries, working part-time and being pregnant was beyond my ability. so stuff was neglected. not my baby or groceries (a girl’s gotta eat!) but the house was a train wreck and lets just say my husband was beyond frustrated and at a loss as how to help me or what was wrong with me. finally i had baby number two and things got a little better. physically i was able to haul the laundry up and down the stairs and pushing a grocery cart alone was easy to do. but the mental part wasn’t fun. i was still TIRED and always felt like i was dragging 500 lbs behind me. any task was “ONE MORE THING TO DO” and i didn’t have the time, energy or patience to do it.

and then the panic/anxiety attacks started. looking back, i know i had one or two after baby #1, but didn’t know it. the summer after baby #2, it was crazy. i would have these attacks randomly. there were no triggers that i could think of, they would occur while driving, lying in bed, washing dishes, etc., etc., etc. it wasn’t until the end of summer that my sister and i went on a day trip shopping together that something finally clicked in my brain that something might be wrong. the whole day i was tense, stressed, nervous…i felt like i was about to give a speech (that was how all my attacks felt). the day was not fun, for me. my sister however had a great time…and at one point driving home she asked me when the last time i felt relaxed

and i didn’t know.


it was then that i realized that something was off. and i started watching myself from “above”. it sounds strange, but that’s the best way i can describe it. part of me was able to separate away and observe myself with my nursing background and skills. and what i saw wasn’t good.

so i made an appointment with my family doctor, who i actually work with, and so know fairly well. and he asked me a lot of questions.

– do you have any repeating thoughts? and i did. i had (since baby #2 was born) been imagining/daydreaming/had horrible nightmares about finding the kids in terrible situations…crushed under dressers, hanging from the playhouse by their jacket strings, drowned in the toilet (the baby), etc…and anything horrible in the news about kids or babies, i obsessed over. the thoughts/images would roll over and over in my brain. and it was impossible to forget them or STOP thinking about it. (my husband knew i was thinking these things and he just couldn’t understand how i couldn’t just STOP. and neither could i)

– do you sleep well? actually to well, every opportunity to nap, go to bed or sleep in i took it. and i still felt sooo tired.

– are your emotions/feelings interfering with your normal day? yes. a thousand times yes. taking care of two kids and doing ONE other thing was all i could do. a few loads of laundry one day. vacuuming the next. groceries another. and that was it. i could only accomplish one task. and i felt like a failure. how were these other moms planning birthday parties or baking or painting rooms, etc. and all i could do was go to town, get groceries, put them away and i needed a nap.

– do you think about or want to hurt yourself or anyone else? i answered “my husband” but that was just a joke. kinda. i was lucky never to have any self harm thoughts or thoughts about hurting anyone else, but my husband and i were arguing. A LOT. it was no one’s fault. i couldn’t find the energy or motivation to do ANYTHING. and he couldn’t understand it. and it was more than he could do on his own, farming all day and then coming home to a crying, stressed out wife with no dinner cooked, the kids running around (happy!) with dirty faces, nothing on but diapers and the house looking like a train wreck. there was never any clean clothes, and if there was, they were in a HUGE heap in front of the dryer. need clean socks? feel free to dig in the pile darling…

i know my doctor asked more questions, but those ones are the ones i remember. (here is Bell’s “tip” sheet for more information on mental health and how you can keep healthy!)

so he prescribed me some anti-anxiety/depression meds. depression and anxiety tend to go hand in hand, and one prescrition can “solve” both.

i started on them that night. and by the weekend felt like a million bucks.


i hadn’t felt that good in a LONG time. and it wasn’t a good drunk buzz or anything like that. i just felt like ME.

i had missed me.

that was two and a half years ago. and i haven’t looked back since. of course there have been ups and downs. pregnancy #3 was better and harder at the same time. i regressed some with depression and anxiety attacks (we made the decision to stay on the medication throughout my pregnancy) but with med dosage changes and the KNOWLEDGE about what was happening, made things much easier. i knew why and what the attacks were and so did my husband. i’m not going to lie, the piles of laundry were still there, but at least we both knew what was happening and worked together as a team to get me back on track and moving forward. and now that baby #3 is over a year, things are even better. i always describe that one year mark as feeling like my head is finally above water, and this time is the best. i am still on meds, and probably always will be. and i am VERY ok with that.

i like to describe that my mental illness is like having diabetes. i don’t make enough of what ever hormone i am missing, so i take meds to fix it. like diabetics take insulin because they can’t make enough. i have good days, bad days, and my emotions are all over the place, just like every fabulous woman’s should be…lol. what i mean is, i don’t feel “flat” or “high”, i just feel like ME. and i am not afraid to tell anyone and everyone about my illness. i figure, if i help even ONE person find themselves again, it is worth annoying the 1000’s of others that have to hear about it. lol.

so that’s my little story. the short version of it. (ha!) i hope you don’t mind me sharing, and feel free to pass this on, maybe someone you know needs to hear/read it and find some help for themselves!

xoxo  cathryn

p.s. if you want to help raise some money for mental health awarenss, every text message or long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers and every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and every Facebook share of their Bell Let’s Talk image on February 12, Bell will donate 5 cents to programs dedicated to mental health (regular long distance and text charges apply). In 2012, 8 million Canadians answered Clara’s call with more than 78 million text messages, long distance calls and retweets on Bell Let’s Talk Day, resulting in $3,926,014.20 in additional funding for mental health initiatives across the country.


Posted by on February 12, 2013 in My Thoughts


Tags: , , ,

36 responses to “i have a mental illness.

  1. Sue

    February 12, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles….I think it is the key for those of us that suffer to be able to share so we don’t feel all alone and ostracized.I started to suffer with depression and anxiety after the birth of my second child and it took a long time to get help and understand what was happening to me….thank God for my supportive family!I did go on medication and it has helped for the last 15 years.Unfortunately this last year I had a turn for the worse again and had a very rough year (again thank God for my supportive family)I have changed my meds and am on the upswing and feeling stronger everyday 🙂 My doctor also made it clear that this is a disease like any other ie: diabetes and if I had that would I refuse insulin… I would not. So to all us of that suffer make sure to support each other,talk about it and be KIND to yourself everyday.

    • The Farmer's Trophy Wife

      March 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      i feel for all those people who suffered alone and unhelped all those years ago, before anxiety and depression was actually something people recognized as a disease and not just someone feeling sorry for themselves or overwhelmed. and for all those today who are suffering and not even realizing it. i shared my story so that if even one person sees themselves in it, that they could get help and feel fabulous again!!

  2. Anna Marie

    February 12, 2013 at 10:29 am

    i hear you! i’ve been on medication for depression/anxiety for 2 years now. (mid level depression, top of the chart anxiety)… somehow.. just knowing what to expect, being able to recognize what is going on, makes it so much easier to handle..there are still slumps, and i accept that it is something that will always be in my life, but i know i am back to being ME, happy and healthy inside and out.

    • The Farmer's Trophy Wife

      March 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      yay for you!!! and aren’t anxiety attacks the worst?! i have sooo gotten over any fear i ever had about public speaking, as that feeling before or during speaking is peanuts compared to a full-blown unsourced anxiety attack! and you are right. knowing is a HUGE part of feeling better. i can now just sit or lay down and relax, and wait for my attacks to go away, instead of trying to fight them or get rid of those feelings. makes things sooo much easier!!

  3. Bailey Mikell

    February 12, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Hi there, I just wanted to reach out and say thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I myself have struggled with depression/anxiety and at times I have felt very alone because of it. It’s like the elephant in the room, and most people don’t want to talk about it. I have always been curious about how my body will react when I have children, and whether or not I’ll be able to cope with the hormones. But you give me hope. Thank you again… You have a beautiful family. xo

    • The Farmer's Trophy Wife

      March 1, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      having babies wrecks havoc on our bodies no matter what, bigger feet, saggy boobies, skin changes, bald spots…so this is just one more thing to brace yourself for. but i know my babies were worth the few years of crap that i had to go through. and now that we are done having babes, life is so sweet. the actual baby bearing years are sooo short and go so fast, it will be worth it in the end. talking to your doctor is a great place to start, and some have strong feelings about meds or no meds. make sure you find a doctor that listens and works with you through it all. they will be your lifeline during pregnancy!!

  4. Camilla

    February 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Thank you for sharing – I too suffer from depression and am proud that I got a handle on it early on. I only wish that when I was growing up that depression wasn’t such a scandalous “thing”. Looking back, and knowing whta I know now my mum suffered from depression and still does. Unfortnualey I could never utter that word to her in the hopes that she might consider getting help. Alas, the relationship is estranged because I’m happy, positive, and meantally healthy and well, she’s not in the same place.
    Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, it is just a chemical imbalance in your brain, and so many more people would benefit from knowing more about this.

    • The Farmer's Trophy Wife

      March 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      i am so sorry about you and your mom. it is hard when you understand where she is and how things could be so much better and yet she’s in it so deep there is no way out right now. but i am proud of you and your new healthy self. enjoy everyday and be there for your mom, even if it’s just you thinking and sending postive thoughts her way daily. i hope someday she finds her way.

  5. Wendy

    February 12, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for sharing! I know we have talked about this before and I wanted to thank you for encouraging me to go back on my meds and eventually making a dosage change as well. I really appreciated your encouragement when I was struggling with my own depression and anxiety.

    • The Farmer's Trophy Wife

      March 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      yay for you babe!!! anxiety and depression suck, but when we stick together and talk about it, it sooo helps!!! i only wish my friends had said something sooner, so now that i am healthy, i won’t shut up about it. i know i probably annoy my peeps when i keep asking “and how are YOU feeling?!”, but it opens people up and sometimes we all need that shove towards recognizing something we can’t see in ourselves!! love ya babe and WHEN are we getting together?!?!

  6. Jenny Penny

    February 12, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Thank you for sharing! Love you and your blog!

  7. Crystal Cattle

    February 12, 2013 at 7:50 am

    You are very brave to share your story. I am so glad that you are back to YOU and you are sharing a little bit of YOU with us!

  8. Deana Fuchs

    February 12, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I was “officially” diagnosed with depression about 18 years ago. I took medication for a while and then got off them for a few years. About 12 years ago, I started having a lot of problems again…the exhaustion, feelings of dispair, crying for apparently no reason, etc. I went to a doctor and once again, I was put on medication. After about a year, I stopped the medication (made that decision on my own) because I thought “I don’t want to be known as the crazy person that needs medication.” But not even a year later, all the same symptoms were there, and I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I went back to the doctor. He asked why I had stopped the medication and I told him. He said something to me then that has stuck with me. He said, ” If you have bad eyes, you have to wear glasses; of if you have high blood pressure, you take medication. Depression is like that; it is a chemical imbalance and you may have to take medicine for the rest of your life for it.” For some people, their chemical imbalance might eventually fix itself; but for others, it might not. These people aren’t “crazy” and their problems aren’t “in their head” – depression is a real illness and I would rather take medication for the rest of my life and feel GOOD, then suffer through the often dibilitating effects of it. Catherine, I’m so glad that you found a solution to your illness and that your medication is working! And thank you for sharing your story. Depression and mental illness is very misunderstood and we need to raise awareness so that people aren’t afraid to get treatment. The world would be a much better place for everyone then.

  9. Steph

    February 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Thank you. You’ve surely given hope to many this day.

  10. Tammie

    February 12, 2013 at 3:46 am

    Thanks for sharing your story…I’m glad to hear that the meds work!


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