So, remember the first time my husband had a panic attack?
Thanks to a recent episode I’d watched from “Madame Secretary (one of my fav shows btw)” I knew to get a paper bag and have Danny breathe into it, which helped.
I had also heard that anxiety was a combination of nervous excitement and that depression was extended periods of sadness. This may come off as ignorant, and it could even be a little exaggerated, but I really didn’t know much more than this.
Had I been around people with anxiety and depression? Who hasn’t? Did I know a lot about it? Heeeyyyllll no.
It was time to get learning. And wow. I learned so much.
The biggest source of my education on mental illness came from living with my spouse who suffered greatly with debilitating and oftentimes non-functioning depression and anxiety.
It is the real deal. It is a real thing. I can physically see it in my husband, and our brains are physical parts of our bodies. Sometimes this physical body part, our brain, over-produces or under-produces some hormones that help my husband feel good. Good thing there are humans with degrees that can prescribe drugs to help people when their brain isn’t quite working the way we want it to!
Danny served a church mission in India. When he was there, there was a one-armed member of the seventy who would challenge people to see if anyone could tie their ties faster than him. He always won. I love this story. I think it’s a great example of someone who learned to function with his specific body the way he chose to. Similarly, Danny has gotten to a place where he can manage in life with his depression/anxiety. He has adapted and learned to thrive again.
As humans, I believe we are all on this spectrum of anxiety.
Some people’s baselines may be higher/lower than others. Some events, genetics, or environments may trigger different levels. Generally, I feel like I reside on the lower end of this spectrum but there have been and will be triggering events that spring me up to a higher level of anxiety (CPA exams, having babies, setting big goals, etc). Personally, managing my mind through thought-work has helped me when these triggering events arise.
Observing Danny’s bomb psychiatrist adjust his cocktail of meds amazed me. Other moving parts contributed to his well-being like exercise, sunlight, diet, sleep, environment, past trauma, and more.
I heard this podcast recently where the host said: “You know the phrase ‘you are what you eat?’ That’s bull. You are what you eat, drink, sleep, look at, think about, watch on tv, etc. Everything you take in makes up who you are.”
There is a reason we have medicine in the world—it is needed! There is a reason professional therapists exist—they are needed! There is a reason I became a Life Coach—because when I was suffering in silence I couldn’t find the support I needed to give me the tools needed to thrive. Lastly, I think there are thoughts we can manage with our minds to get to a healthy headspace.
The more Danny and I chose to open up about our story, the more we realized how prevalent mental illness is. It is SO. COMMON. Other brave people who have shared their experiences with me have also facilitated my mental health education.