My personal mental health story and the importance of self care

This is blog post on the importance of self care and mental health. I wanted to share with you all a personal story of mine and talk about how self care is so important for you and your family.

I suffer from panic disorder, anxiety disorder and PTSD.

When I was pregnant in 2016 I suffered from, I was sick 24/7. Constantly sick, throwing up, not being able to keep anything down including fluids, I was in and out of hospital. It was an awful time and I fell into a dark place. It was meant to be a happy time, being pregnant with my first child, but it was far from that.

I was running my own beauty salon from home, I had clients that didn’t understand why I couldn’t work and would get angry at me because I had to cancel their appointment.

I spent two months in bed and in the hospital. During one of my hospital visits I managed to catch influenza, which was the breaking point for me. I literally felt like I was choking to death, I would vomit but not be able to breath out of my nose, I felt like I was going to die. You are not allowed to take any cold and flu medication when pregnant either.

I managed to eventually find two medication’s that worked for my Hyperemsis with my doctors consent. I was now able to keep down fluids and solids. I had to wake up at 5am to take the medication, one being a sleeping tablet that made me groggy all day, but at least I was not feeling sick anymore. If I didn’t take it though, I was sick. The first time I didn’t have to take the medication was the morning after I gave birth. I already feel guilty that I had to take medication the whole pregnancy, and still feel guilty about it today. But I have to remind myself that it was better for my baby and I, to take the medication rather than not being able to keep down fluids. I also ended up having a traumatic birth, where my son got stuck, and then I ended up in hospital a week later with a severe infection ‘down there’.

Cut to September 2018, my family and I went on a cruise and I got severe food poisoning, one bad coconut from an island, thinking I was being healthy by drinking a coconut on every island. It reminded me of having Hyperemsis, it was this event and also the talk of having another baby that then led me into a downward spiral.

I had won in July that year, Best Home Business Award in the Local Business Awards for my home salon, Golden Goddess Beauty and business was skyrocketing. I was running a successful beauty salon from home and it was busier than ever. I couldn’t say no to any clients and I would fit them in wherever I could even if that meant working 15 hours days or more. Don't get me wrong I loved it, but it was hard.

I started to wake up each morning, feeling sick and dry reaching. I would have to cancel my clients and I would go back to bed. One weekend in November I couldn’t get out of bed, my heart was pounding and my husband was about to head to Melbourne for the week. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like that. I wasn’t pregnant, so what was it?

My heart had been pounding for days, I was short of breath, shaking, I had been to the doctors and was given endless medications to settle me down which didn’t work, and none of the doctor's could work out what was wrong. On the Tuesday I ended up collapsing and mum called an ambulance. All my vital signs were fine so I was taken to the mental health unit and I remember sitting their and seeing the Mental Health unit sign and thinking I had hit rockbottom and how could I let myself end up here.

It ended up being the best thing that could happen to me at the time. A lovely doctor at the hospital spoke to me for hours and had worked out what was wrong. I was having constant panic attacks which were lasting days. She diagnosed me as having panic disorder, anxiety disorder and PTSD. I always thought that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a condition that army officers or police suffer from, not someone like me. I have had other incidents in my life that the doctor said contributed to this also, such as losing my family home, health battles with my father, then losing him unexpectedly plus more that I won’t get into now. When I thought about what I had actually been through I thought, wow yes I have been through a lot and I could finally see where this was all coming from. My husband flew back from Melbourne to take care of me and took the rest of the week off, he had never seen me like this before, I was quiet, sad and anxious. I had to cancel the rest of my clients for the week and we were in the middle of peak season.

When your body reaches the point where you have panic attacks, it will continue to and you just have to learn to live with them. I still have regular panic attacks, but they do not last days now, I have got them down to maybe 20 minutes or so. I’ve learned to ride, breathe and talk myself through them.

Now this is where the self care part comes in... what I wanted to get across was, I wasn’t looking after myself, I was working so hard, I couldn't say no to people, I had a two year old and my husband was working away a lot, I was not taking time for me. I know it’s hard to find the time, but now I make sure I find time. I go and get that massage, I go get my nails done and I go and have that shower by myself. If you are strapped for time during the day, it could be as simple as getting up an hour before everyone else does and having that shower to yourself.

Yes you may feel guilty doing these things and spending the money on yourself, I still do…BUT I then remind myself that I need to do this for myself, I need to look after myself, because if I don’t, I won’t be able to look after everyone and I can’t let that happen again.

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