A woman hugs herself

Loving Me Unconditionally: My Journey From Sadness to Love

Have you ever or do you ever look in the mirror and ask yourself:
Why did I do that stupid thing?
Why do I say the dumbest things?
Why am I so ugly?
Why am I even alive?

What about negative self-talk? Do you wish to be more like lady X because she has it together?

Scold yourself for making the wrong choice, wishing you could change it?

Last but not least, do you recall a bad memory from your past and relive it almost daily? Not only do you relive it every time you talk about it, but it is worse than the time before and it consumes your thoughts?

I was afraid of the stigma

Well, I'm here to tell you, you do not have to live like this for the rest of your life. There is help out there for you. You just have to keep searching for it and doing the work to get through the thoughts.

I have felt this way since my early 20s. At age 23, I gave birth to my first beautiful child. I was a single mother and my tiredness and sadness increased. When I sat down, I would fall asleep. My family practice doctor referred me to mental health. Yes, that's what they called it back in the 90s, and I refused.

I did not want to be seen walking into that clinic. I was afraid of the stigma associated with being labeled depressed. I told myself I was not depressed because I had no reason to be. I had a great life.

Trouble sleeping at night and staying awake during the day

A year later, I moved to Alaska and I could not sleep at night. By age 27, I started falling asleep if I sat down after work. While on call, I would get to the hospital and have no clue how I got there. This scared me.

I saw my primary care physician and he said it sounded like depression. He prescribed Prozac and referred me to a psychologist. As I explained my tiredness all day long and my inability to sleep, his suggestions upset me.

He told me to put an ad in the newspaper for a babysitter. I am an ultrasound technologist and I just happened to be the person that scanned his wife, who was pregnant with their fifth child. I looked at him and asked, "Would you do that?" He replied, "No." I thought to myself, why would he tell me to do something he wouldn't do?

Bottling up my emotions

I kept my emotions bottled up inside. Whenever I trusted someone and shared my thoughts, they would say, "You're being ridiculous," or, "You're being stupid."

My friends saw me as this positive, happy, smart, and driven individual which made it difficult to hear what I was relaying to them. I traveled deeper inside with my thoughts.

What led me to finally seek help

In 2017, my life turned upside down. My 12-year marriage came to an end. It was not my choice and I was devastated. I was angry and I became someone I no longer recognized. My mental health was declining rapidly and it was time to seek help.

For the next 3 years, I saw over 10 different therapists/psychologists. In 2020, I met a therapist who turned my life around. I did 2 eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy sessions with her. It helped me finally turn off the recurring thought that I was responsible for the end of my marriage. I was given tools to try to control my negative self-talk, but other thoughts persisted.

Getting a narcolepsy diagnosis and starting Xywav

My battle with tiredness, sadness and lack of sleep continued until I was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in March 2021.

I started Xywav and began to sleep at night. My brain was silent – no more thoughts or negative self-talk.

Discovering the cause for my panic attacks

What Xywav did not do was take away a weird feeling inside of me. At the time, I did not know what it was. I shared this with my narcolepsy support group and was able to give it a name. Anxiety!

My entire adult life, I thought my panic attacks were anxiety. I did not realize the panic attacks stemmed from my continued anxious state. I quickly got to work on finding ways to remedy this condition. My sleep doctor increased my Lexapro dosage. I set boundaries for myself because most of my anxiousness stemmed from doing too much.

The negative voices are quiet now

I am no longer sad, worried, or looking in the mirror and saying terrible things about myself. When I close my eyes, there are no voices or awful memories occupying my brain. All I can hear are the sounds of the room I'm in.

I'm able to sit quietly and think about nothing if that is what I choose to do in the moment. This scared the crap out of me initially. I enjoy the silence now. I am living breathing proof that depression doesn't have to last forever, and anxiety may be managed by learning what triggers you and setting healthy boundaries.

I am smiling, typing this final sentence. Today, I love me truly and unconditionally.

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