December 14 was the 14th Anniversary of my ‘Mental Stroke.’
I was inpatient in the psych ward for 10 days. Behind locked doors, with 15 minute checks, 24 hours a day.
This would be the first of 5 hospitalizations over the next 6 months.
I was ‘non-functioning’ for more than 36 hours.
I don’t have very many memories of those first days but do remember just wishing I would be able to drown in the darkness in my head.
I didn’t want to die – I couldn’t imagine not being in my girls lives and what that would do to them – but I couldn’t handle the thought of existing like this for the rest of my life.
I had a husband and three girls at home (ages 13, 12, 10). I also had two horses, a couple of dogs and cats.
My first morning back home, alone, I remember lying on the floor with my big black lab, crying, because even making a pot of coffee was such an overwhelming task.
My husband wanted to rehome my horses.
He was taking care of the kids, the house, the barn, the horses, the dogs and working full time.
I was sleeping constantly when I was not attending out-patient therapy groups or hospitalized.
Sleeping was my ‘go to’ coping mechanism for everything.
My doctor told my husband that if he sold my horses he might as well start planning my funeral.
She told me I had to take care of my horses.
Every morning, after the girls were off to school and my husband off to work, my horse, Aba, would bang his foot against his door and whinny to me until I dragged my butt out of bed and went down to the barn to take care of them.
A wonderful therapist, a great doctor, a psychiatrist who worked patiently with me to get the right combination of medications and my horses kept me alive.
My husband, God bless him, took care of the house and helped with the girls.
He didn’t understand why I didn’t just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘forget the past.’
He referred to my hospitalizations as ‘vacations’ and eventually stopped visiting, calling or bringing our girls down to see me in the mental hospital.
Eventually the therapy, the medications and my horses helped me come back to life.
The girls were now 19, 17 and 15.
I was back to work part-time, still had horses and was, somehow, still married.
I was working on dealing with my life-long episodes of chronic depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia; dealing with all the demons who broke free from their closet and were invading every moment and every corner of my mind – awake or asleep – and struggling at being a Mom and wife.
I was still taking care of my horses.
I had lost my beloved Aba but had other equine companions.
My girls are now 27, 26 and 24.
We have two beautiful grand lovies who are 2 and 3.
I still have horses and my husband.
My horses are a constant in my ever evolving life.
My husband no longer considers my hospitalizations as vacations.
I’m workin part-time as a Peer Support Specialist at a local mental health facility.
I just unofficially completed my first semester of college (taking two classes) with A’s.
Along with two of my sisters and a couple of very special friends, we started the Twin State Depression Support Group and are now a 501c3.
We have two monthly group meetings a month at this time, with the possibility of branching out more in the very near future.
I am LIVING a life I love.
This doesn’t mean that all my demons are gone – they just don’t rule my life and I have learned healthier, more productive and positive ways to cope with their evil, toxic presence.
My husband is much more understanding, empathetic and supportive about the challenges I face, most of the time.
Recovery is REAL!!!
I’m living proof of it!
I understand what it means to choose every morning, when you open your eyes, wishing the world had evaporated overnight, to work hard at facing the thoughts, pain and emotions swirling around in your brain and your whole body wracked with constant pain, and to just. get. out. of. bed.
Face each day as another chance to embrace the world, work on diminishing your demons, reaching out to resources and those individuals that can help you fill your tool box with strategies and practices that empower and strengthen you.
Make healing yourself a priority in your life. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Relationships. Environments. Intellectually.
YOU are the only one that can heal YOU.
Yes, therapists, doctors, family and friends are extremely integral in this destination, but this is YOUR life.
It’s an inside job.
One filled with beautiful rewards, blessings, tears, change, loss, love and HOPE.
I’m glad I didn’t give up, give in, all those years ago! I love my family, my friends, my Life!
Any my horses 🐴