Today is the last day of May, Mental Health Awareness Month. However, the topic doesn't become irrelevant tomorrow. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year, and approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. In 2017 there were 1,400,000 suicide attempts, and in that same year men died by suicide 3.54x more often than women. Apply these statistics to your life and chances are either you, or someone you know is dealing with a mental illness, functioning or struggling, and know someone who has self harmed, or even committed suicide.
Do you talk about your struggles? Have you listened to someone about theirs?
Because I believe we all need to "practice what you preach," I want to share with you a time in my life I was paralyzed by depression and anxiety, and how our business, Lockhart's Authentic, actually helped me find my way off the hamster wheel I found myself on.
MY PERSONAL STRUGGLE
In 2012 I was working at a daycare in my hometown, the same place I had worked since I graduated High School in 2006. I grew up here, had many life experiences (good and bad) during these years, met my soul mate in 2007, got married in 2010, met new people, and learned a lot about myself. Needless to say, working with children you find yourself at odds with colds, runny noses, rashes, and a fair amount of poop. It really does just come with the territory. However, in February of 2012, a nasty round of Noro Virus hit my room, took out all of my kids, and myself in a matter of 24 hours. It wasn't worse than any case of the "stomach flu" a lot of people are accustomed to about once a year, but for whatever reason this illness triggered an anxiety inside me that I did not realize could be so strong.
In a matter of weeks I went from being a pretty productive adult with a few weird hang-ups (like everyone has) to not wanting to go to bed or get up in the morning for fear of throwing up. I knew it was irrational, but I couldn't get the thought or picture out of the highlight reel in my brain. It was consuming me. I couldn't think about anything else during the day, distracting me from work, making me worried about eating, giving me weird food preferences, and not allowing me to be a good employee or wife.
In March Steve and I decided that I would leave my job and try to focus on something new for my future as to distract me from the weird routine of worry I had found myself in. However, shortly after starting my leave I was not getting out of bed in the morning, sleeping with a garbage bag and Pepto Bismol nearby, not taking care of myself or my home, and didn't have the energy to care about what my husband or any other family member was going through. It was only a few months before I wasn't even trying to put real clothes on during the day, and couldn't leave my house to even get gas or go to the grocery store for essentials. I was a total shut in, only making the exception to go to the party store a couple times a week to get alcohol to fake myself into thinking that when I was drunk, I was better.
I pushed almost everyone away, convinced myself that as long as I gave in to staying at home with my bags and Pepto that my brain might feel good enough to do something different tomorrow. Always tomorrow. This went on for about a year. I also forgot to mention that during this time I developed debilitating anxiety attacks where, starting with my tongue and lips, my entire body would go completely numb. Sometimes for up to half an hour. I had allowed my brain to completely succumb to my depression and anxiety, and started to accept that this was the way my life was going to be.
LOCKHART’S WAS FORMED
In 2013 Steve started brewing pomade, as a hobby for himself, but probably as an outlet to not being able to help me through whatever I was going through as well. At first I didn't care much since it wasn't affecting my time in my chair in front of my bags. However, a few months into the year he started selling on Etsy and when there started to be an exchange of money for what he was making I was able to pop out of my melancholy for a few minutes a day to pack orders and make sure people were receiving what they ordered. It was during the period of time that I started to see some light through my illness and I sought out a therapist. Admittedly it took 3 different therapists for me to feel comfortable sharing my life, but I got there. My Mother-In-Law even drove me to several appointments to help me get through those emotional days. It wasn't easy. But I, being the stubborn person I am, decided that I was going to take my life back.
Fast forward several years, major life events, major losses, a LOT of therapy for Steve and I both, medication for Steve and I both, we are here, and thriving. Not to say that everyday is easy or pretty, because a lot of them are not. But we know how good it can be, and we know what we are fighting for.