180 days have passed since I started medication for my mental health (for the first time, ever), six months, wow Maca, you did it girl! aaand this post has been looooong due since I opened up about it on Instagram a few months ago after some personal experiences that led me here.
I think you’d never believe I have such a weird anxiety: I’m an extrovert, I loooove to meet people and hug, I love so many things!, I’m always in a joyful mood, I’m a happy mama, I’m the support system to many close friends, I’m always there to help everyone I love, I never (or pretty rare) say no, and yes, at the same time I was struggling, hard.
I’ve been an anxious person since I was little. I remember many crisis I had when I was about 15 years old, trying to go to a sleep over at a friend’s house followed by a big cry, calling my mom an hour later begging her to come back. Growing up, my anxiety was there, with me, not leaving anywhere.
I started getting obsessed with my health (not in that healthy, glamorous, good way, nope, nop) when I was diagnosed with a combo of malignant (cancer) cells on my cervix detected on time, and my doctor rushing to the OR to remove them with a cervical cone surgery.
So, out of the blue, my body had created somehow these cells that tried to harm me and I caught them on time. How could you, body of mine? How?
After this, you can now understand where that obsession comes from, right? The story continued me thinking every time: my migraines? – brain tumor? – my chest pain? maybe another tumor? – and infinite episodes where I finished locked in my bathroom crying or not sleeping a bit googling all my symptoms.
So, hey! here I am in a new country, with an illness anxiety disorder, running a bazillion tests every year (like cervix biopsies, ouch) because, who knows? aaaaaand please let’s leave my pregnancies episode for the next season, because I’ll need a hug to prep that post, ok? (I owe you one).
A few years passed since we moved to Montreal, so add to the mix the following: a new city, two immigrants who mainly spoke english and spanish trying to figure out life with all their family and friends very far away. Despite all, I remained positive, focused on my goals, on getting a new job, on finishing my Concordia studies, on meeting new friends, on creating a new life, on brunching as muuuch as I could, and on living a lovely new life here.
Still, I always thought I was sick, or I was going to be soon (wild timesss!), because something was wrong with me.
I worked many hours (hello there, agency life!), I finished Concordia, had two babies, started a blog, learned how to cook without my mama, traveled a lot and became a self-employed lady 4 years ago. I think my anxiety hit the fan (can I even say that?) when I didn’t have my steady income and steady work life balance.
If you know me a bit, you’ll know I’m not afraid of hard work, of long hours, because that’s kind of my nature. Trying to understand this new world and taking this big risk was something I didn’t know was going to affect me so much in the long run, especially working in the social media industry, where we breath, eat and live on the number of likes, comments, shares and engagement we have to make a living. How effing crazy is that?
3 years passed and being constantly stressed was part of my DNA, because I’m still thinking over here about all my different imaginary diseases, and BOOM: Pandemic year! Wait? A pand-what? I couldn’t even understand what a pandemic meant at first. COVID arrived and I was there, helping my two little ones and my family abroad to cope with this upside down world.
After many unexpected situations, I visited my family doctor and we both knew it was time to get help. I didn’t say no (like I did a few years before after my last pregnancy), and I gave it a shot. I started an anti-depressant, and even though the side effects were absolutely horrible, I stopped thinking about my imaginary diseases. I meditated. I started pottery. I decorated the studio many times. I took one day a week off to do nothing. I started reading the daily stoic every morning. I watched sex and the city in the middle of the day. I listened to podcasts with my husband. I napped in the middle of the day. I didn’t feel bad when I didn’t work.
I enrolled into different creative online courses. I learned something new every month. I started drinking occasionally and being conscious about my much needed low fodmap life. I shot photos and videos just for fun and not just for work. I started roller skating at home. I played with the snow and found my snow pants after 5+ years without wearing them. I started living day by day, without worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. I even started loving my big curvy body. I loved hearing my heart beating without being afraid something was wrong with me.
I felt sane and relieved.
Today, I’m lowering my dose and trying to see what my near future will look like. How I’ll feel without medication, and how I’ll learn to control my thoughts, my fears and my nerves relaying on creative projects that will help me unplug while I roll wearing these epic skates. Having a community of sweet, adorable and good humans helped me SO much these months, and I will be forever thankful.
After many epic fails, we start all over again, and we try harder, because that’s life all about, right?
I hope this year you all find a moment to create and feel that serenity we deserve.