Even as I sit down to write this post, I’m second guessing myself. It’s a feeling I’ve unfortunately become accustomed to these past few months. But for me, writing has always been therapeutic. So here I am, pulling back the curtains into my most private thoughts and spilling my heart out about something I have not wanted to share: I’m burnt out and I’m depressed.
I’m not just talking about feeling sad. 2020 has been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us. Like most people, my anxiety grew as the months went by. I actually started off in March okay. As most of you know, I had a concussion last year, which forced me to rest and stay home for months. So when I was presented with the lock-down order I thought to myself, I got this. I can help people with being somewhat okay with staying home.
And I did. I was fueled with creativity stemmed from a desire to help. I was on Insta Stories non stop and writing blog posts every day trying to do my little part in offering a break from all the tragic news. When I realized this was going to be our new normal for a while, I thought of more ways I could help. I found a way to help women get excited about wearing face masks by creating stylish ones that were comfortable. And by giving back to charity with the line, I was feeling good that I could do something to help during these tragic times. I was busier then ever, but I’ve always loved being busy.
Ok, busy might not be a strong enough word. Between my new business and keeping up with my blog and social media, I was working non-stop. I barely slept. My therapist kept encouraging me to take a day off from my seven day work week, stressing the importance of self care. But I didn’t see the point. Work was an outlet for me to deal with the sadness that was happening around me. I woke up every morning excited to work. Minus a few afternoons off here and there, all I did was work.
Fast forward to fall, when I launched loungewear. I wanted to give women a stylish option that made them feel good while having to be at home and providing comfort for when they went out. Even thought I was so excited and proud of what I created it just became too much.
I now realize that I didn’t have the time or capacity in my mind for everything it takes to run a clothing line. Adding such a big new venture to my over full plate was too overwhelming. I was already spread so thin, not to mention the sadness that kept creeping up about living alone during the pandemic. I tried my best to ignore the loneliness I felt seeing happy couples and families on Instagram while I sat with Jack Jack in my apartment freaking out about anything and everything.
Even though things were going well in the bigger picture, any small difficulty gave me a huge panic I had never felt before. I couldn’t do so many things on my own while the world was crumbling around me. And I hated myself for not being able to do it all.
As days and weeks went by, my anxiety grew. My thoughts kept circling and I was having trouble finding any positivity in life. I could not control my negative thoughts. They grew like weeds popping up in a field, making it impossible for any flowers to bloom.
The themes were all the same: What is wrong with me? I’m a failure. What am I even doing in life? I’m irrelevant. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do this.
A month ago, my mom told me she’d never heard me say the word can’t so many times in my life. I’ve always been driven. This feeling of despair was foreign to me. Technically, I knew that our current “new normal” is not “normal.” And everyone is having feelings that they’re not accustomed to. But for some reason, I thought I should be strong enough to fight these feelings.
I tried. I really did. I meditated. I took Jack Jack for long walks. I constantly thought about how much I had to be grateful for. But that even made it worse. I kept thinking what is wrong with you? People have real problems in the world. You’re fine. Stop being so negative. This is ridiculous. Snap out it! The harder I tried to “snap out it,” the worse it got.
About a month ago, my body could not keep up with my mind. My anxiety turned into what I now know is depression. I woke up every morning with a severe tightness in my chest that took hours to go away, sometimes not leaving my body till late afternoon. I was crying non stop. I was sleeping more than ever but still feeling exhausted. Even the smallest task seemed overwhelming. I went from working 24/7 to struggling to do the bare minimum. The negative weeds had completely covered my field. I lost all hope of being able to bloom.
I shut off. Nobody knew what was going on except my mom and therapist. I avoided talking to my friends and holed up in my bed. I had enough content I previously shot to post on Instagram so I tried my best to keep somewhat of a persona online. But aside from my holiday gift guides, I couldn’t write a blog post. And the thought of doing Insta Stories gave me panic attacks. How was I supposed to “be on” when I felt “so off?”
I finally took my therapist’s suggestion and saw a psychiatrist. She told me I was in a deep depression. I started crying yet again. I felt weak for letting myself get to this place. I couldn’t hear her words that it wasn’t my fault. I felt like I brought this upon myself. But I didn’t have the energy to fight it any more. So I started taking the medicine she prescribed me and did my best to take her advice and let my body and mind rest.
That was a week and half ago. Am I all better? I wish! I still wake up with the tightness in my chest every morning. But it goes away faster and the crying is lessening. I even have moments in the afternoon and the evening where I start to feel a teeny bit more like myself. I’m learning to realize that just like this came on slowly, it’s going to heal slowly as well. For the first time in a long time, I’m starting to feel glimpses of hope.
Being able to sit down and write this post is progress. Two weeks ago I could not get out of bed. Today I’m sharing my journey because I think it’s important to do whatever we can to help break the stigma of mental health. If you’re struggling, just know you’re not alone. And if it’s gotten to be more than you can handle, I hope you can realize like I finally did that it’s ok to ask for help.