I think all human beings have some boundaries. There are those sacred places and thoughts that we reserve for only one or two trusted friends in our lifetime. Otherwise we tell our official story in the real word or everyday work and interaction.
In that sacred space of my own love and joy and hurt and shame I can sometimes feel a depth of loneliness, fear and self blame for my mistakes. I also can feel the pride in the most meaningful successes of my lifetime. Sometimes I just have it out of balance and I lose perspective on the good stuff.
So here I am in my late 60's with all the scars and successes of my life to this point.
I want to share one part. I have a resume that most people envy. I am proud of the things I have accomplished.
It's the other part. It's that day when superwoman couldn't take one more step. It's a time when a lifetime of taking risks and pushing with everything I am came crashing down. I hate asking for help. I am really bad at it. Between my fear and arrogance lies some truth in why I do not ask easily.
When I had to face anxiety at a level that was totally destroying me I was lucky to have a supportive family. Without support I think I might have died.
Depression and anxiety are real. I believe all of us experience them in some degree throughout our lives. The intensity of our personal experience varies with the events that hurl themselves at us; the births, the deaths, the problems.
With the support of my loved ones I did get help. The team at the Foothills Medical Centre was so persistent and relentless in pushing me to look at my own part in the crushing anxiety that was so destructive. I readily admit now I have always had very poor boundaries and truly tried to save the world single handed. I readily admit that I have no tolerance for distress in myself and others. I need it to disappear and have had to learn that journey of discover that yells, "You are not a God or Goddess and you can not change other's distress. Learn to accept your limits and what you can contribute in your own life with your gifts. You are one of 7.8 billion."
There is so much more to the journey of self healing but I am sharing for a reason.
I will not feel shame about my struggle for healing. I am writing about this experience to share with many others. Mental health struggles have a huge stigma attached to them. If I broke my leg my friends and family would know exactly how to support me. Mental health struggles remind me of the discomfort many people have in discussing the death of a friends' beloved one. Sharing that you have experienced mental health struggles often result in conversations stopping and the person showing obvious discomfort if not fear. Occasionally I have had the joy of experiencing someone asking, "I am curious about that experience. Would you like to share the impact of that experience on your life?" This has not been the usual response.
Once I decided to move beyond hiding my experience and the shame of not being perfect, this journey was easier. I try to talk about my journey now. I laugh at myself more often in a kinder way. I see a wonderful counselor at Cochrane Mental Health and Addiction who has been there over a long time with all the kindness in her heart. I am so grateful.
I have found this community full of support. We who have faced the struggle with anxiety and depression have come together to meet weekly. Our group is now an independent self-help group and continues to meet, welcoming new members and watching as some of those members move on. I learn more every week about this journey of healing. My community of loving caring people offers support and problem solving generously with no judgment. I am so grateful.
So, members of my community here in Cochrane, I share this story with you as an act of encouragement. You are not alone in your struggles. There are many resources here in our community. I acknowledge the huge contributions of the people committed to their work at Cochrane Mental Health and Addiction here in Cochrane. I acknowledge the healing power of counseling, of group work and the continual caring work of the Foothills Psychiatric Programs. I celebrate the work of Canadian Mental Health in Cochrane, in Calgary and across the country.
I celebrate my family members for their love and commitment to my healing.
And finally I am always grateful to the lovely Irish nurse who said to me one dark night at the Foothills that she knew with certainty that there would be a day when it would not be so hard; there would be a light in the darkness for me.
- Kiley McGuire