I was cooking lasagna and just finished the last layer of Tiramisu with my youngest daughter. Friends were coming over for a Sunday lunch. And then, it just happened. I started to cry, and I could not stop. I couldn’t even talk to explain what was happening. I was crying almost hysterical. I was facing a nervous breakdown.
by Viviana Bellisario from Amsterdam
The days that followed, I found myself paralyzed in bed, crying and in pain. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so one day I wrapped myself up and went to the doctor.
I’ve described my symptoms and mentioned that I have been enduring financial, professional and personal stress for over 2,5 years, and felt in a state of constant pressure, but more over, anxiety, for my future and the one for my children.
I didn’t feel like fighting anymore, I was tired of fighting all the time.
They decided to do some basic test, maybe early menopause, tiredness, low pressure, iron deficiency, hormones. My doctor saw it immediately and advised me to see a good colleague of his. I didn’t get it at first place, I thought, why? Depression, caused by chronic, extreme stress over a long period. I needed psychiatric treatment, six months off work and mood stabilisers.
I just started a new job, how could I possibly stop working now? I refused to believe that. Was I ill and didn’t realized it? I remember ignoring everyone who told me to ‘slow down’ and thought the low mood and the low energy would go away, if I carried on as normal. But things got worse, much worse.
Sleeping is hard when your mind is full of thoughts.
My body was in bed but my head was a non-stop machine. I used to suddenly wake up at 3 o clock every night, having panic attacks, sweating, heart palpitations, wide eyes full of fear, when looking at myself in the mirror. All I wanted to do was to scream and cry. My thoughts were killing me. I wished I could switch off my mind and tell him “stop torturing me”. Like most of us, I’d heard the term loads of times, hidden behind words like “stressed out”, “burned out”, “nervous breakdown”. These are words and phrases were we have no clue what they actually mean or represent, until they hit us. I spent a lot of time in a so-called “zombie-state”. I spent hours lying in my bed staring at the wall or the carpet, having the curtains closed.
My dear neighbour, who helped me through this, used to send me short messages every day: “The sun is shining…..”
Or “good weather for a walk…. “, to force me to get out of the house. But all I wanted was to stay in my bed, in silence, in the dark, until my children would come home from school. For those who cared about me, was terrible to see. They had no idea what to do. The scary part is, what you are trying to control so hard for so long, is now controlling you, and there is where you crash. I got myself wondering so often.. how could I not see it coming? Me… the ultimate control freak on earth, the stubborn “I can do it” old mule…
I tried to be as normal as possible, for my children, for the outside world, however it was hard
I was at home, surrounded by children, music, television, piano playing, children fights… and remember of feeling absolutely nothing and totally empty.
I wasn’t even listening to my children. But somewhere, deep down, I knew I could control this, my survival instinct was to strong to give it up. That’s the moment when you have to beg yourself to stop crying and tell yourself “Be strong”. I started to see a psychiatrist, she could see through me and I felt it was my opportunity to listen and to grow and learning more about myself, my patterns, my limits. I see her as my saving angel. I was lucky, she was the right person at the right time. I was however, sceptical and critical against medication, I thought I could get better by myself. I spent a long time searching information about the medication my doctor advised.
After a few weeks I was finally able to sleep, I felt calmer in my head, more energized and more focused.
I carried on seeing my psychiatrist, and things started to get better. I went back to work, I took the time and the space to think at what I (really) wanted in life, and started to make plans with my ex partner, on how to handle our separation. Now I’ve found a new job that offers me more flexibility, something I was fighting for, not only for my children, but also for myself, cause its all about balance.
I have started a house renovation plan with my ex partner, in order for us to sell it one day, and move forward with our lives.
To dream more, and to learn to let go.
I heard once someone saying…
Fail in order to know
And lose in order to gain
Because some lessons in life, are best learned through pain”