Hey everyone! I hope your week is going well! For this week’s blog post I decided I want to give you all a little bit of a background on my mental health journey (so far). I’m not going to be digging too deep into specifics in this post because it would probably turn into a novel...hell a series of books for that matter. Ha! I will talk more about specifics in future blog posts, but I just want to give you a high level of my background and some of the things I have dealt with in the past and are still currently dealing with today.
The mental illness I struggle with the most is anxiety. The first time my anxiety started to present itself in my life was when I moved away to college in 2007. I refer to this as my physical anxiety phase. I was constantly nauseous, throwing up & kept losing weight. Not quite the freshman 15 everyone else was going through! I remember my mom making the trip from Pittsburgh to Erie every few days because she was so worried about me. I went back and forth to the doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with me. We even got a scope done of my stomach to see if there were any issues there. Everything came back normal. My doctor suggested putting me on anti-anxiety medication just to see what would happen. He thought maybe the lifestyle change (moving away to school, having a roommate, no longer being as active as I had been, etc.) had been a hard change for me. It turns out he was right! Once I started taking the medicine, I found my stomach aches started to go away and life started to become more normal again.
Fast forward to summer of 2012. I just recently got engaged, bought a house, bought a car and started a brand new very intimidating job. Recipe for disaster? Oh it was, haha! July 2, 2012 was the day of my very first panic attack which ended up with me calling an ambulance because I was convinced I was having a heart attack and that I was dying. I can’t wait to write a blog post on panic attacks because I get questions on them all the time. While you are having one, you literally 100% are convinced you are trapped/dying/the worst is coming. My logical mind knew that I was 23 years old and in phenomenal shape, but that didn’t matter. At the time my fight or flight response took over and that’s all that mattered. I have been dealing with panic attacks on and off since then. I have certain things that trigger them. I have learned what my triggers are and how to avoid them. I have learned breathing techniques that I can share. I have gotten pretty good at knowing when one is about to start and how to stop it before it starts. But when all else fails I do have medication that I can take to help me calm myself down quickly and I just remind myself they don’t last forever. Just breathe
Depression. This one is a bit new for me. I had never dealt with any sort of depression until my first trimester of pregnancy and this was due to a medication I was put on for nausea. Besides everything else that comes with the first trimester of pregnancy, I remember feeling very down, restless and unmotivated. I remember I couldn’t sit in one spot for more than 15 minutes without having to get up and move to somewhere else. I would sit and watch the clock and I remember thinking “how is it only 5 o’clock?...I still have three hours before I can go to bed”. I would just cry for no reason at all. And if you know me, I never cry. Ever. During this time, I thought I felt this way due to how sick I was because I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. That basically means super intense morning sickness. My whole first trimester I had trouble keeping much food or water down, I threw up every couple minutes all day long (unless I was sleeping), and I was in and out of the ER getting fluids. I figured the way I was feeling was due to all of this. Well, one day I happened to google the medicine I was on (reglan – for anyone who is curious) and found quite a few stories about people who suffered some awful depression side effects because of it. I immediately called my doctor and we got me switched to another medication and it made a huge difference. I wish I would have done that google search earlier because I was on that medication for about 11 weeks. I have also dealt with a little bit of postpartum depression which I will touch on in a separate blog post.
My anxiety got SUPER bad again before I got pregnant. I think I was stressing over if it was the right time to get pregnant. Would we be good parents? Would it be hard to get pregnant? Can I get off my medication? What if I can’t get off my medication? Will it harm the baby? I was a hot mess! I tried SO hard to get off my medication. I almost had to quit my job, but thankfully I worked for a great company with AMAZING people. The amount of compassion they showed me is something I will never forget. Again, that’s a whole other blog post (I told you I could write books – ha!). And my husband Ryan was super supportive through the entire process. I'm not sure I could have done it without him.
To try and wrap this up, a few other sorts of anxieties I deal with include travel anxiety, which is actually a new one within the past few years. I’m not sure where it came from, but we can dig deeper into that. Also, a new one since giving birth is that I’m constantly paranoid that there is something seriously wrong with me. I think they call that a hypochondriac? Like I know logically there probably isn’t anything wrong, but maybe its some sort of PTSD from my after birth experience. Who knows.
This was probably longer than I wanted it to be, but I feel like I have so much (12 years worth) I want to share with you guys. There are also so many mental health issues that I haven’t dealt with that I would love to have guest blog writers write about. If anyone is interested, please let me know. We can always do it anonymous! If anyone out there is reading this and can relate or ever needs someone to talk to feel free to reach out – I’d love to chat! Feel free to leave your thoughts or questions in the comments below.
Mom's Top (Left) - Hacci Tunic With Animal Print Bubble Sleeves
My Top (Right) - Floral Contrast Bubble Long Sleeve Top
Just Breathe! <3 Jillian