Welcome to Shattering Stigmas 2020! I am so excited to welcome friends, authors and bloggers to my website over the next two weeks to talk honestly and freely about mental health and mental health issues. We’re going to kick off these two weeks with an incredibly raw, but important post from Heidi, who’s someone I associate with being kind and caring to everyone who needs it. You can find Heidi on Twitter @heidwella.
It’s clear to everyone that 2020 is, well, a shit show of a year. Between COVID-19, the nasty political mudslinging, the BLM movement and all of the violence on all sides, it’s been a disgusting pill to swallow. For me, a person with medication-resistant depression and severe anxiety, 2020 will forever be synonymous with grief and some of the most difficult dark episodes I’ve ever experienced.
On March 8th, I submitted my final document for my Masters degree. On March 11th, I received two pieces of news – one, I had officially passed my final class and earned my degree, and two, COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic. I work for the Infection Prevention department in a fairly large hospital, so I watched as all of my coworkers were sent to work from home and my department was left to be the subject matter experts. As the administrative assistant, my job became solely to man the phones and screen out the calls that were non-urgent. I was no longer allowed to see my family, my support network, or anyone who wasn’t my husband or my teammate.
On April 14, my dad texted me and my sisters to tell us that Gramma was back in the hospital fighting an infection in her leg, and it wasn’t looking good. At 9:17 PM PST, I lost the most important person in my entire world. I couldn’t even go see her in the hospital, so I had to say my goodbyes over an Instagram video chat. I lost the platonic love of my life, and I couldn’t even say goodbye the way she deserved.
I am incredibly lucky to have a partner who has been there every step of the way, holding my hand the entire day of the service and holding me when I can’t bear the thought of life without my Gramma. My grandpa, her husband, was moved into a memory care facility about two months after her memorial service, and the first time I walked into their home without either of them being there, my husband let me sob on his shoulder, grieving the loss of my childhood home and the two people who I love the most.
What Does This Have to Do with Shattering Stigmas?
This year is also the year of facing hard truths. I’ve been questioning my identity, what my life goals/dreams are, and I have been hit, yet again, with the reality that I tend to fall hard and fast in friend-love with the wrong people who end up making me feel like I am not good enough. I was broken up with by a friend group of 2+ years, and that same week, my closest high school friend lost her mom to cancer and I witnessed firsthand just how far my grandfather has decompensated in his dementia.
My depression has hit new lows this year. I experienced my first ever episode where I could not drag myself out of my bed. Normally, even when I am at my lowest point, I am able to get up and put on a face for work. This is the first time I ever hit the lowest of lows. My medication wasn’t able to hold up to the strain of this year.
(Caveat: I have three incredibly beautiful women I consider my best friends, and they have all been there for a decade or more, and this year has shown me how incredibly strong and supportive they are.)
I have opened up more on social media about my struggles (shameless Instagram plug: find me at @heidwella, @heidwellahitsthebooks, @heidwellamoves, @heidwellaeats, or @heidwellashealthymind) and the reception has been unbelievably kind and understanding.
2020. The year of grief, the year of reckoning, the year of ALL. THE. THINGS. It’s the year of breaking my silence on my mental health for more than just my immediately circle. It’s the year where all the ugly has come out in our world. It’s the year of pain, the year of growth, the year of “uhhhh………what the hell??”.
I started this post with one plan in mind, but much like this whackadoodle year, I apparently decided to go a different direction….
Here’s What I Want to Say About Shattering Stigmas :
When I was in the 4th grade, I sat on the grassy hill outside my classroom door, watching a ragtag game of soccer on the playground, as I mentioned to my best friend that I honestly wondered if anyone would even notice if I wasn’t here.
In high school, I spent many hours sitting in the hot shower, sobbing and thinking that maybe my parents SHOULD have stopped at two, maybe I shouldn’t have been born.
In college, I had several episodes where I only got out of bed to keep my roommate from calling my parents. I didn’t want to disappoint them.
When we first got married, my partner literally picked me up off our bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably and telling him everyone in my life would be better off without me causing problems.
Today, I have an incredible therapist, amazing friends, a family who won’t give up on me, medications for my depression and anxiety, and for the first time in my life, I haven’t had thoughts of “what if I wasn’t here” in months.
Please check on your friends. Some don’t reach out specifically because they don’t want to be a burden. Ask them to be honest. Check in, especially in this burning shit show of a world.
Check in. We’re not okay, but we’re too scared to say it.