My breathing labored, I can see my fists clenched, the muscles so tense, it’s coming. I knew it was coming the night before, but I had to go into work, I had important things that needed to be done, I had a deadline. Yet, here I was, sitting in my cubicle, completely breaking down, shedding any costume of my former self exposing my true feelings for anyone to see. I couldn’t hide them anymore. I was broken. The Mental Break I foresaw coming Sunday night showed it’s ugly face and conquered my self confidence.
Last Wednesday, I was asked to go down to a job site of mine in the state of Maryland. I love going to Maryland because I still have so many college friends down there and this time I was going to meet some Warrior Moms. The first added stress to this trip, was well, the time frame. I was given two days notice. I was to drive the 5 hour trip myself on Friday and return driving that same 5 hour trip on Saturday. Did I mention I hate to drive?! I spent the remainder of Wednesday and all day Thursday experiencing small anxiety attacks trying to pack for this trip. Oh, I had therapy too on Wednesday night. Adding to the chaos I was already experiencing, I then had to dive back in time to my Postpartum self and try to reprogram those memories into less self-loathing ones. It didn’t quite happen.
The trip started out fine. I hit barely any traffic. Stopped at my usual rest areas on the New Jersey Turnpike. I got to the store. That’s when things changed. There were so many issues with the cabinetry and forgotten items that I spent 3 hours putting up painters tape where things needed to be corrected. Although not planned originally, I was going to have to stop back at the store on Saturday. Sleep never comes easily when I am away and this time was no different. It took me FOREVER to fall asleep. Although in the comforts of my Ativan, Seroquel and Lunesta, Insomnia took over. It was probably about 2am before my eyelids shut. Everything felt rushed to me the following morning… breakfast with a great Warrior Mom, stopping at the store and even the 5 hour drive home. I was in autopilot mode, losing control of my mind to the two friends who never leave me alone… Anxiety & Depression.
Sunday my lack of weekend continued with the return of the rental car. At this point Anxiety had full on control of my body. I couldn’t calm down if I tried, so I spent that energy on completing my PTO treasury tasks and working on some Climb Out Of The Darkness things. Soon enough it was 5:30pm and my husband, daughter and I were sitting down to dinner.
I opened my mouth, “I am going to have a Mental Breakdown. I can feel it. It’s coming.”
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my Mental Illnesses and the one thing I knew and could see was the upcoming Mental Breaks, and yet, I still didn’t take them seriously, pushing myself to do my responsibilities I had for others and ignoring myself.
My husband requested I stay home on Monday to give myself a rest as he has witnessed my breaks several times before, but I had a Punch List deadline to meet. I knew I was risking my health for work but my pride always comes first. At our morning meeting, my project photos were belittled and although the comments were not toward anything that was my fault, my anxious self began to fight a battle in my brain. The battle that would lead me to beat myself up immeasurably about everything that was wrong with my project. A battle I would lose to massive amounts of self-loathing and failure. It was a common battle throughout my Depressive episodes. After the meeting, I returned to my cubicle…
… and started to uncontrollably rock back and forth, a coping mechanism my body created when under extreme anxiety. Then I started to hyperventilate. Then my fists clenched up. Then I almost cried. At this point, I hid in my cubicle because I didn’t want anyone to be able to read my emotions, to see the Mentally Ill woman in action. I hid and rocked back and forth for 3-4 hours. I texted my therapist canceling my appointment because I didn’t want to feel any worse than I did already. Then my Depression kicked my Anxiety aside and instead of rocking back and forth, I became a zombie. My brain was empty. I was void of all emotion except the massive amount of failure I felt. I hid until the work day was over and then I tried to mask my emotions with a happy face to go pick up my daughter from school.
The thing about masking your emotions, hiding behind a veil of happiness that is so fake, it only makes you feel worse. So, if you can imagine a zombie of a person with a pseudo-smile walking into an elementary school to pick up their child, that was me. The second we left the school I spoke to Sophia, “Mommy is not having a good day.” She knew what that meant after witnessing my Mental Break in January of 2015. I repeated the same words to my husband when I got home. After forcing myself to eat dinner, I retired to my room for the next hour and a half binge watching Fuller House on Netflix.
I wish I could say it ended there, but this was only the beginning of Depression’s part of the Mental Breakdown. As we put Sophia to bed, I was rocking my giant child on my lap (a child that is almost my height at 9) and the tears started to flow. I honestly believed someone was going to take her away from me. I mean look at me, I was a disgrace. Whether it was my In-Laws or DCF, my daughter was going to be taken away from me. My daughter hugged me and told me that she loved me and that I was a great Mommy. In my mind, I failed at that too. Another point for self-loathing. I somehow managed to stop my tears, kiss her goodnight and let her go into her bedroom all while thinking about how much I wanted to grab her and hug her forever.
Things were somewhat stable as my husband and I got dessert and went downstairs to watch TV until it was time for me to sleep. Tears and mucous flowed as I was still concerned Sophia would be taken from me. I kept repeating that she couldn’t be taken, she was why I lived, she made me want to get better. I told my husband that I thought about self-harming but stopped at the thought of him and Sophia. I spilled tears for Tyler and his upcoming 4th birthday, wondering what he was like now. This was it, the final stage of my Mental Break, at least I thought it was. With all the crying and rocking back and forth I was exhausted and thought sleep would come easily, but once again my two best buddies, Anxiety and Depression, brought their friend Insomnia into the loop.
Once Tuesday morning came I knew I had to put myself first. Taking my husband’s pleas to stay home from work to heart, I took a Mental Health Sick Day and hiked, rejuvenating my brain and resetting it back to “typical”.