The Huffington Post is looking for people who knew the moment they figured out that they needed to de-stress. The Moment I Knew: Seeking Personal Essays On Stress Since I have some experience in this matter, I put something togther and sent it. And I figured ‘what the hell?’ I’ll post it here too…
The way I see it is that if we can all be more open about what we go through in our lives, we’ll all learn how to be kinder to each other as well… So here is the moment I knew.
I couldn’t get out of bed. My four year old was crying. My quadriplegic husband needed me. But I could not get out of bed. And I could not stop the tears. I had hit rock bottom and was frozen because of it. Thankfully, my sisters were visiting that day. They took over for me and did what needed to be done.
The day that I hit rock bottom was incredibly long. I spent the day crying and sleeping. I didn’t eat. I didn’t drink. I am not entirely sure if I even went to the bathroom… all I remember is that people came in and out of my room and I spoke to none of them including my child.
That day came almost four years after my husband suffered a spinal cord injury that rendered him a quadriplegic. At the ripe old age of 28, I became a caregiver and started out my journey into the hells of depression and stress. I refused to listen to everyone who told me that I needed to “take care of myself.” What did they know? They weren’t in my shoes. I didn’t have the time to take care of myself let alone the energy, at the end of the day! I was caring for our infant daughter and my 30 year old husband who could no longer care for himself. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, I pushed myself closer and closer to the brink. I teetered on the edge a few times before that day and even looked into the abyss once or twice but quickly managed to pull myself back and settle just a few inches from the edge.
I thought I had it under control. I thought I was in control. I could do it all! I took care of it all. I was amazing!
I was completely fooling myself.
oddly enough, no one around me was fooled. Everyone around me kept telling me to slow down. To stop. To take a break. To take care of myself. I listened to no one. Not even my husband. Not even my therapist! Not even my child… who, out of everyone, tried the hardest to get me to listen. She missed her mom. She needed her mom. And I was failing her.
I was failing me.
The day before I crashed, I went to a concert with friends. It was my way of doing something for me. In the end, it showed me just how little I actually was doing and how much life I was missing out on. I wanted to hang out with my friends. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to be relaxed. I wasn’t allowing myself that luxury since I did view it as a luxury. On the ride home, I realized that I was going back to hell. I hated my life. I hated how it had turned out. I hated who I was becoming. I hated me.
So I crashed. And cried. I cried for my child. I cried for my husband. I cried for me…
Around five pm on the day I hit rock bottom, my sisters had to leave. It meant that I had to get up and face my child and husband. I had to go back to being a caregiver, a wife and a mom. That was the moment I knew… That moment was when I got up, went to the bathroom, and looked in the mirror. I didn’t recognize the person looking at me. I realized I had to make a change. I had to take my life back. I had to combat the stress somehow. I had to take care of myself.
And so I did. Not that day… not the next day… but I did. Slowly, over the course of the next year and a half, I put myself first. It was a slow moving process. One day I’d take a long shower. The next day I’d go for a walk. The day after that I’d let myself read part of my book. I started running. I took up yoga. I laughed. The more I took time for myself, the more I realized I needed it. desperately. And the more I realized it made me a better person, mom and wife. Over the course of the next year and a half, I told myself that I mattered and that I was important too.
Today, I can relax. I gave myself the tools that I need to combat stress when it creeps into my life. I am able to take a deep breath and enjoy my life. I can enjoy who I am. I can enjoy my child. I can enjoy my husband. I am happy.