This autumn, I had a string of bad luck. My dog had her hip operated on, then re-injured it and needed more surgery. I was diagnosed with breast cancer the same day that I found out that I had bedbugs in my airbnb.
Everyone deals with stress in his or her own way. Some drink, some take drugs, some go for a jog. I have nervous breakdowns. This was my second.
There is a stigma around mental health, which is why I have chosen to write about it. I’ve never felt embarrassed about it. I don’t feel that I have done anything wrong, in this context anyways, so why should I feel ashamed? But sometimes I notice a look of discomfort on peoples’ faces when I mention my “nervous breakdown.” Apparently it is called General Anxiety Disorder now. I certainly understand the discomfort people feel when confronted with notions of mental illness. (My mind travels back to the incident on the Greyhound bus and a decapitated passenger).
We all manage our anxiety in our own way. My way involved a lot of breathing, yoga and under the direction of my doctor, taking some carefully prescribed medications.
It may sound weird but I am very grateful for this experience. It was the worst thing that I have ever gone through (yes, worse than breast cancer or the plague of bedbugs in my house) but I have learned some great life lessons that I hope to remember as I move forward:
Breath when I feel tension. Yoga is a great de-stressor and it also slows down your breathing. (I just love yoga with Adrian on Youtube.)
Keep mind and body healthy by eating healthy food and getting enough exercise.
Create a community with your friends and family. Make it as big and beautiful as you can. I happened to have a stellar circle of family and friends (one of whom is an herbalist) who I owe a big debt of gratitude to.
I also feel blessed that in this small community we have two people who are so savvy and skilled. My deepest gratitude goes to Dr. Keyter and Tracy Magdall (the mental health and addictions counsellor in McBride). These are two very compassionate people who both really get it.
I am very open about talking about mental health issues. I am no expert but would be willing to help in any way that I can, even if it is by listening.