As a nurse, while I work on a primarily medical-surgical unit, I still have to deal with patients who have mental health issues, because as you can guess, one cannot separate themselves at will from their mental health issues. One of the problems with mental health is there are typically no outside signs of the disease because it’s primarily internal. I am by no means a psych expert and am trying to learn more about this area.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for over 10 years. This post was triggered by an episode I had over the weekend. It took me by surprise because it should have been a happy time in my life. My son’s football banquet was on Sunday and he earned a varsity letter and I was ecstatic. We got news that he got accepted to one of the colleges that he applied to. Again, I was happy (despite that not being my first choice of colleges for him). But I got home and had that gnawing sharp pain in my chest that I am all too familiar with – I was having an anxiety attack. But why? That’s what I seem to ask myself most of the time because I genuinely do not know what I am subconsciously stressing about. There are high stress times that I have my anxiety attacks and I can usually get out of it a lot faster. When I don’t know the cause, like this past weekend, it lasts a day or so dealing with breath-taking intense chest pain, fear of going to sleep, and praying it doesn’t turn into a migraine. Then I’m completely drained for a few days afterwards.
Here’s my back story. A year or so after I had my first child, I kept feeling like I was having a hard attack, which then made me paranoid to fall asleep, thinking I might die in my sleep and my son would be all alone. After several trips to the emergency room and have EKGs and stress test done and being treating for heartburn, it was determined that I was experiencing panic/anxiety attacks. The solution – anxiety meds. So, fast forward to the present, I still struggle with my anxiety and depression. Add in there a component of OCD – I get fixated on things and it is a struggle to force my brain to quit thinking about it, which adds to my frustration.
Over all the years I have dealt with this, not once has a doctor suggested a psychiatrist or psychologist. I have met with counselors in the past that I have found to be ineffective or a waste of my time, but I probably really do need to talk to someone. I’ve been on and off meds over the years, currently off them, as I feel like I don’t need them all the time. Writing is a healthy/safe outlet for me, as I can share exactly how I am feeling and not be judged for the way I feel or perceive things. I am often obsessed with what others think of me. Since I was a little girl, I have always felt unloved/unlovable, never felt like I was good enough, and wishing I had never been born. While I have never attempted suicide, I sure have felt like it was the best option as I felt like my children would be better off without me and that no one would even notice I was gone. While I know that is not true, it doesn’t stop the thoughts.
I have posted all of this because no matter how hard I try to keep it together, I don’t have it all together. As a nurse, I always encourage my patients to seek the help they need, which at times is difficult because when there are budget cuts, mental health services are often the first to get cut. I wish there was a magic pill that would cure mental health diseases but unfortunately, that will likely never happen. In the meantime, I just hope that society would be more understanding that people who have mental health issues are not attention seeking and that they can’t always put a smile on their face and act like everything is okay. Some days it is a chore to get out of the bed and try to function as a “normal” person. I hope that we can quit being so quick to judge. Even if you don’t understand what someone is experiencing, being available to listen sometimes makes a world of difference.