My Mental Health Story

My Mental Health Story

October 10th was World Mental Health Day. As I scrolling through Facebook that day, I noticed several of my friends were sharing their stories about their mental health struggles. One of them was fellow blogger (and my down-the-street neighbor) Holley Grainger (Holley Grainger Nutrition).  I was so blown away by her honesty that it inspired me to share my own story. View her video here.

My mental health issues started when I was a teenager. The combination of being insecure, not knowing how to handle situations like gossip, a broken heart, body shaming, unwanted sexual advances, and an unstable family life… all took it’s toll on my mental health.

It was around that time when I developed eating disorders, which I’ve written about before. It was the only way I could have a little bit of control over the stress happening in my life at the time.

College was better. I felt like I “belonged” somewhere for the first time. I immersed myself into church and with people who did the same. My desire for connection was filled with people who were Christians so I thought I was on the right path. It was only when I finished college and started working in the real world, did I realize that the place where I felt like I belonged for all those years was actually not what what it was at all. And the same went for my relationship at that time.

I handled my anxiety & depression ok during that time with the help of a therapist and one dear friend who was going through the exact same thing as me. Seeing a therapist was exactly what I needed, and I should’ve gone sooner.

Fast-forward about 6 years… I’m now happily married to Chris, and we are living in North Carolina and working for a new company. Baylor is 2 1/2 years old, and I’d just given birth to our second child, Loxley. My anxiety & depression started rearing its head again, this time in the form of PPD. I knew something wasn’t right so I made an appointment with my doctor and walked in with a list of problems I was experiencing. I remember a few things I had on the list:

Heart palpitations

Shortness of breath

Panic, uneasiness

Fear of dying

Sweaty palms

Sleep problems

She looked at the list and said yes, these are symptoms of severe anxiety and I can help you. I left with a prescription for 10mg of Lexapro, which is an anti-anxiety, anti-depression combo. I started noticing a difference about 2 weeks into taking it. It didn’t completely take away all my symptoms but it eased them a lot.

I kept taking Lexapro for 4 years; right up until I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. I consulted with my new doctor (we had moved back to Alabama at this point) and she said candidly that there was not enough information on taking anti-depressants while pregnant so if I could be off of the meds, that would be best. (Please consult your doctor before doing this as they each have their own point of view on it). So I decided to stop taking them – for 9 months of pregnancy, then another 2 months while breastfeeding.

It was the hardest most mentally challenging thing I have ever done in my life.

Also during that time our oldest was diagnosed with autism.

Truth is, I think most of us are struggling with our mental health. We just don’t talk about it because of the stigma that comes with it. But who cares? Mental health is no different from physical health. The brain is a part of the body. Anxiety and depression is a chemical imbalance of the brain. It’s not a weakness.  Just as we wouldn’t tell someone “just don’t have cancer” or “just don’t have heart disease”… we also shouldn’t tell someone “just don’t get anxious” or “just don’t get depressed”. No.

Mamas, we carry the mental load in our family. It’s just how we are wired. We carry the weight of the day-to-day demands… the scheduling, the housework, the activities, the groceries, the appointments, the birthday parties, the haircuts, the field trips, the play dates, the dog… you name it and it’s already up there in our minds to get done. Combine that with the pressures of staying hyper-focused on our kids at all times…. we are absolutely mentally strained.

Some of us can manage our mental health by exercise, diet, therapy, or prayer. That is totally legitimate and possible. Some of us our conditions are genetic and we can’t escape them no matter how hard we try. So we need a little extra help – and that’s ok too.

We cannot care for other people WELL without taking care of ourselves first.

If mental health is something that impacts you or someone you love, please seek help and talk about it, so together we can reduce the stigma.

16 Comments

  1. Eden Barnes
    October 18, 2017 / 7:28 pm

    You dropped some serious truth bombs!! I love this from start to the ending, people always judge by what they ‘see’ when the bigger picture is the opposite. I admire you very much, keep writing!! It helps on the bad days more than you know! I love you!!

    • Carli Best
      October 18, 2017 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you Eden! Yes things aren’t always what they seem! I’m glad you connected with this! Love you too!

  2. Bethany Brendle
    October 18, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Great piece and I love the hard core honesty. Depression is very real and thankfully managable with meds and exercise (for me!) It’s so good to know we aren’t alone in this battle!

    • Carli Best
      October 19, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      I’m glad to hear that you are able to manage it. I think more women are suffering with the exact same issues but are afraid to speak about it. I know you’ve been through a lot and I admire your honesty sweet friend.

  3. Janet Nottrodt
    October 18, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    I am happy to see the younger generations facing the things that have been shunned for so long. These things were not spoken of as I was growing up. When I lost my daughter, I really felt I would not survive the terrible and uncontrollable pain. The counselor that my insurance company referred me to said I was severely depressed (DUH??). THEY WANTED ME TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST AND GET DRUGGED OUT! So, I never went back and instead bought every book I could find to help me survive. Finally, I found the Amellia Center, who counsel’s those who have lost children. I thank God for them. You guys are stronger than my generation. I commend you for opening up and talking about something every single person goes through!!! Carli, I so admire you and the strength you have to open up about your life. Your doing a fabulous job!!!

    • Carli Best
      October 19, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Thank you Janet. You inspire me in how open you are about your loss. It’s interesting you say that we are stronger than your generation. My generation gets a bad reputation of being “whiners” and “too sensitive” which is unfortunate. We are just tired of being told to be quiet. It doesn’t help anyone to suffer in silence. You are a blessing to me! I appreciate your friendship!

  4. Laura Barrow
    October 18, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    I love you and your honesty! It is so refreshing to hear because too many people bottle things up and shy away from what people are actually dealing with every single day.

    • Carli Best
      October 19, 2017 / 12:31 pm

      You are right. It’s definitely taken me a long time to feel comfortable writing things like this. So thankful for our friendship. Love you!!

  5. Tammy Brook
    October 19, 2017 / 3:52 pm

    You are and always have been a amazing woman and personal I’m very proud of you, thank you for the story, woman my age have those times too, just were told we don’t talk about it

    • Carli Best
      October 23, 2017 / 1:46 am

      I know you did! I’m glad women are feeling less ashamed these days to tell their stories. It doesn’t help anyone to stay silent. Thank you Tammy.

  6. October 22, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story! My dad suffered through his anxiety for years until it finally started to affect his work. If he hadn’t been the sole breadwinner, I don’t think he would’ve sought help but it’s the best thing he did for his mental health. He’s now on anxiety and depression meds and feels in control of his life. ?
    Nicolette | http://nicolette.co

    • Carli Best
      October 23, 2017 / 1:47 am

      Good for him. That takes a lot for a man to do that. I appreciate you sharing that with me.

  7. October 22, 2017 / 11:45 pm

    I’m a fellow anxiety and depression warrior (and I lost my dad to suicide), so I cannot thank you enough for the conversations you’re starting about mental health. Thank you for sharing your story. You are such a gem. <3

    • Carli Best
      October 23, 2017 / 1:47 am

      That means so much to me Allyn. You have no idea!!!!

  8. October 23, 2017 / 1:36 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I think everyone has their own struggles whether it just being a temporary thing or reoccurring problem. It’s good that people know that they’re not alone.

    • Carli Best
      October 23, 2017 / 1:49 am

      The mind is a fickle thing. Yes some issues are temporary and some are recurring. Hard to know sometimes! We are all just doing our best.

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