Some of you might have wondered why I did not write any post in the period between June and September. Maybe you thought I managed to follow my dream and tour the world.
But no, the truth is – I started having health issues. In June I started suffering from insomnia. When my son got up during the night in order to breastfeed, I could not fall back to sleep. So I had only a few hours of sleep. In the beginning I thought it was something that would go away by itself – but it did not. I started reading about insomnia and how to treat it naturally – I tried with Valeriana, melatonin, various herbs, exercising only in the morning, not watching any movies right before going to sleep – literally everything I could find online but nothing helped. After 2 weeks I had the idea that maybe I should just stop breastfeeding and it would all disappear. I stopped breastfeeding in 2 days – which is extremely fast considering my son was still breastfed twice during the day and multiple times in the night. Not only it did not help, on the contrary it worsened my insomnia. I was completely lost at that moment and had no clue anymore what to do. My energy levels were extremely low – and from that moment I needed help with cooking and taking care of my kids. I am lucky to have an amazing mom and mother-in-law who could jump in. But still I could not understand what was going on. I started searching online and I found one article which linked too fast weaning with depression. But I was in denial that I could have depression, even though symptoms were there. I assigned everything to the lack of sleep – you can imagine if for a month you sleep only 3-4 hours a day, you are not a fully functioning human being. I isolated myself from all social media (I used to chat with 10 friends at the same time in free moments), stopped inviting friends for coffee, stopped having enough strength to prepare an educational environment for my kids. I slowly started fearing that I would lose my kids. They were becoming more attached more to my husband, willing to go to sleep only with him. I had a feeling I had reached rock bottom. I went to my GP, who recommended I take a blood test. Everything seemed fine except my sex hormones were extremely low – which was not surprising considering my period had not yet returned since my pregnancy with Miro, my youngest child.
I felt completely lost – the GP gave me a prescription to see a psychiatrist. Both my husband and I were still in denial that I could suffer from any kind of depression since I was the most optimistic person he knew. The truth is I started being pessimistic and I stopped looking forward to our travels – at that moment my better half knew something was really wrong. We went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Mirtazepan and told me to come back if I don’t start sleeping better after 3 days. So I came back- my sleep had got even worse. This time without any talk with me he prescribed another antidepressant. That was ofcourse a reason why I lost my faith in psychiatrist – how could I trust someone who did not even have a conversation with me but just asked why I came again and prescribed another drug? I decided I should go to Croatia with my kids and I was convinced that with sun and sea I would get better.
I did not.
I was just feeling weaker with every day. I went to see some other psychiatrists, which after a 30 minute talk prescribed different drugs. Since I have pharmacophobia (I do not take even paracetamol unless I have really high fever (over 39 C)), I did not take those drugs for more than 3 days – which was weirdly what those psychatrists all said, that in 3 days I should feel some positive effects (and I did not). The truth is my parents were also not encouraging me to take drugs. The reason is personal – we thought we lost my uncle due to drugs used to treat schizophrenia which he was diagnosed with after his last breakdown and after taking experimental drugs for 3 months. He is still alive – but it is like he is not there. If you are a fan of Pink Floyd and you know the song “Wish you were here“, you know it was written in honour of Syd Barret who they “lost” due to schizophrenia. Sufferers simply lose contact with reality. My uncle had a really hard time after his divorce – it was turned into a tabu topic and no one was allowed to mention it. He had four breakdowns and not a single talk in his life with a psychotherapist because in Yugoslavia back than and still nowadays people with mental diseases are stigmatized. He was the one who passed on to me a passion for books and theater. He also taught me English. But then his last breakdown happened just after my wedding. He went to the hospital and after a year there turned worse than ever before – there was no real connection with him anymore. I love him just like I did before, but it breaks my heart to know he is not the same person, not a person with whom I can have amazing philosophical discussion with. Because my father was convinced that my uncle’s condition worsen just because they put him on strong experimental drugs, he refused every suggestion of looking for help in Croatian hospitals. My mom and dad just said there is no reason to worry and I should try to think about something positive, which in that moment was not helpful at all. I started being very anxious and my amygdala was working like crazy; my cortisol levels were insane. So to a person who is anxious the worst thing to say is ‘you have nothing to worry about’. It is better to say you seem scared, etc. because that helps to sooth the brain. Or ask them to do mindfulness exercise together, but do not tell them not to worry. After two months of misery I begged my dad for help, even if it was some strong drug to help me finally sleep one night through. We went to the hospital – I did not get the help I needed. Also, the doctors were not honest with me, I told them about my fears and they wrote me a random diagnosis which they did not even bother to explain to me. After another month of misery, I started having memory problems. I wanted to prepare dinner for the kids, but I would forget I turned the oven on and started reading them some book. This was the alarm signal for my husband that I urgently need to seek better help in Austria. So I did – and it was so much better than in Croatia. I had an amazingly open talk with a doctor at the University Hospital in Graz and was prescribed, as Dr said, a Mickey Mouse dose of antidepressant – actually a drug that in that dose is given to children who have problems with peeing in bed. Additionally I got my blood checked and realised that I had a severe lack of vitamin D, potassium and calcium. It turned out my pessimistic state was worsened by severe lack of vitamin D. After a week of taking pills I started sleeping better (I reached 5 hours which was -woow!- a reason to celebrate). I could finally think normally. I started exercising again. I finally got my period back (for the first time in my life I was happy to have a period again!). We moved to another town, I made some new friends and everything went back to normal. But what helped most was that I started having me time again. Somehow over the period I had got stuck in the roles of only wife and mother and forgotten to have that so important time devoted to myself. 15 minutes of just me time a day, where I pray, relax or read a book. It makes such a difference.
If I could talk to younger me, I would ask her to SLOW DOWN, not run like a squirrel from one project to another, and also to worry less.
I would love to once again thank my amazing family and friends who supported me so much during this difficult time in my life. Thank you so much, without you I would not have managed.
Please share this post if you can , because I thought I was the only one having this issues and I know how alone I felt.