“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”Marilyn Monroe
Hi Moms are always tired…right? I became a mom before I turned 20 and by 40 I had 4 kids with a grandbaby on the way. Many of my symptoms I attributed to motherhood, being a wife and working full time. I also have 2 types of anemia so I figured it must be a result of that, or stress from going through my divorce in my early twenties and subsequent custody battle that was on/off for years. I made excuse after excuse instead of paying attention to what had been building over all this time.
Flag 1 – Why can’t I stay asleep?
The insomnia started in my twenties, the baby was sleeping in way past my wake up time. I would take advantage of the fact that I was an earlier bird to drink my coffee in the morning quiet, read magazines or start to tackle my to-do list for the day. I never complained about the fact that I was getting fewer and fewer hours of sleep as the years went by. I could fall asleep with no problems (probably because I was so exhausted from my day) however I was starting to wake up between 3:00 am and 5:00 am more consistently.
Flag 2 – Why do I wake up with a headache?
The next flag should have been the headaches….I would wake up in the morning and my head would be throbbing, a dull ache in the base of my skull or in between my eyes. I must be dehydrated, need my caffeine fix, slept wrong or maybe a migraine would be on the horizon due to the barometric pressure. Sometimes it would pass after a few hours but the frequency was definitely increasing.
Flag 3 – Why can’t I remember anything?
I know that stress, lack of sleep and poor eating habits can lead to memory issues but I have also have pernicious anemia which causes brain fog if my vitamin B12 levels get too low. I have monthly injections to maintain the proper level and grew accustomed to a few days of memory issues when I was due for a shot. What began to happen was that the fog never lifted. I tried diet plans, increasing my B12 dose, sleeping pills and even sought help from my acupuncturist.
The truth of what was happening didn’t come together for me until 2019. I was diagnosed with seasonal depression and started daily light therapy with a Happy Light. My brain was loving it and so was I because after each light session I would feel more awake and energized. I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time, my memory has improved and I was sleeping 6 hours straight at night. I was relieved that I didn’t need to take medication but then the New Year hit….
In the first 3 months of 2019, I had several family members that had health crises which lead me to have an overload of stress and put my anxiety into high gear. I was worried about everyone and everything – ALL THE TIME. I was terrified of what could happen next. My positive personality was sliding into darkness and all my usual tools were failing me.
For weeks the insomnia escalated until I did not sleep for more than 2 hours straight for weeks. I was lucky if I slept for a total of 3-4 hours a night. I began to get the shakes, tremor in my hands and was experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and hide from the world. I would struggle through the day, try to put on a smile and be there for my family.
When I sought out professional help the message was clear: Stop, Sleep, Eat, Fill your cup. I had to hear the words Adjustment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Depression from my Doctor. It wasn’t an easy moment to absorb. I needed some medicine to help balance out my serotonin – after a few weeks and playing with the timing of the dose – I started to feel like me again.
This blog is part of my therapy, I do it to stay accountable and to help others who struggle with Mental Illness. I am here to bring awareness on mental health topics and to share what I’m learning in relation to self care.
If you have at least four of these symptoms on a pretty much daily basis for more than a month, please talk to someone you trust and seek medical intervention.
- Depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day or people asking if you are OK.
- Decreased interest or pleasure in activities always enjoyed
- Increased headaches
- Eating too much or too little (unintended weight gain or loss)
- Change in sleep (more or less than usual)
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive worry or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Keep in mind that besides headache, other body complaints you can experience with depression are:
- Pain (neck, back, abdominal)
- Joint aches and pains
- Overall body weakness
I want everyone to know that they are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help. I’d love to connect on social media and hear your story. We can learn a lot from each other by sharing our experience and squashing the stigma that exists on mental health challenges.