Amanda's Story Part I: The Day I Took Back My Life
That day. It is a day that I will always remember, a milestone in my mental health journey. Which is why I want to take you there, back to “that day,” the day I finally decided I was no longer willing to be a prisoner to my brain. The day I decided I was finally going to take my life back. I was finally going to fight the darkness that had controlled me for so long. Today was going to be that day.
About two years ago, I sat in the family practitioner’s office with my two daughters and our doctor. The girls had just finished their yearly wellness checks, and the doctor gave the usual rundown-I don’t remember much of what she said, because of the internal battle I was having with myself. I wanted, no… I needed help. I was miserable, and I was exhausted. Oh, was I exhausted! Exhausted from living with a mental illness, all while trying to hide it. Pretending to be fine on the outside, while feeling completely dead on the inside. Exhausted. Do I tell my doctor what has been going on? Do I tell her that I am struggling and I am so weak that it scares me? This probably isn’t even the right place or time, we aren’t here for me so I probably shouldn’t... but I am drowning, yet I’m feeling brave, and yearning for someone, anyone to rescue me from this silent suffering. I was sick of feeling crazy. The doctor interrupted these thoughts. “Do you have any other questions for me?”
At that very moment, I knew it was now or never. “Yes.” I said. Silence followed, except for my heavy breathing. My hands were sweating, my legs anxiously bouncing, my chest was tight, my brain was going 100mph. Fighting back tears, I asked, “Who do I need to talk to about maybe getting some professional help or medication for depression?” Queue the floodgates here. I was almost hyperventilating. She asked me a few more questions and told me she wanted to talk with me more, perhaps without the kids present. I told her I couldn’t come back without them until the following day. She wasn’t scheduled the following day, which was a Friday. That meant I would have to wait until Monday. She must have read the disappointment in my body language. This was my cry for help, and she heard me. She told me to have the receptionist schedule me for the following afternoon on her day off.
The drive home was strange. I cried the entire way, the battle raging on unapologetically in my head. What did I just do?! Why did I even say anything?! I was disgusted with myself for being so weak to not be able to fight this on my own. I was embarrassed that my secret was out. I was going to have to tell my husband that there was something very wrong with me so that he could stay home with the kids while I went to the doctor the following day. Why the hell do I feel this way anyway? My life is great. I have two beautiful daughters, a loving husband, a house, a car, food on the table… Mental illness is a sneaky bastard and a liar. In the fifteen-minute drive to my house, it had almost convinced me that I shouldn’t go back to the doctor the following day. I felt so dumb. Should I call and cancel the appointment, or just not show up? Then came the guilt. My doctor was coming to the office on her day off for me. I had to go.
I talked with my husband that night. Of course, he already knew something was off. It had been for a long time. He told me he was proud of me for seeking help and encouraged me to go back, even if I didn't want to.