Moving into 2015, my relationship was going strong and I felt invincible. I didn’t expect the next five years to be a harrowing rollercoaster ride but I was quickly reminded that I was still a passenger and now it was raining. In fact, it wouldn’t just rain, it would become a hurricane, pounding and relentless…
July 2015 – The recession was decimating the oil and gas sector and I was laid off from my job. I flew into panic mode faster than a Formula 1 driver can hit 8th gear. How was I going to provide for my daughter? How would I pay rent? The Bear and I would end up moving in with my partner, moving from Calgary to Airdrie, transferring the Bear to a new school. It was a rocky transition.
January 2016 – This one is a long story so I will give you the CliffsNotes version. I still owned my old house with my ex husband. We had a company managing tenants and unbeknownst to us, they were very negligent. During the coldest snap of winter, the pipes in the house burst. We weren’t aware that there hadn’t been anyone living there in months, no one was checking in on the house.
To complicate matters, my ex had stopped paying the house insurance without telling me. I was furious. I ended up footing the bill for the demolition, clean-up and lawyer fees. I only recently started working again as a secretary (less than half the pay I made in Oil and Gas) so my line of credit took a beating which would eventually lead to me going through a consumer proposal several years later, similar to bankruptcy.
August 2016 – (warning – this deals with woman issues so men, put on your big boy pants to read further)
I hit perimenopause at 38. Cue the hot flashes and mood swings, weight gain and hormonal see-saws (I could write a whole blog about this experience). My periods became so irregular that I would bleed for weeks at a time, becoming severely anemic. I was constantly exhausted and struggled to do the most basic things. I hit another bout of depression and begged my doctor to send me for a hysterectomy.
It was at this point that we switched up my anti-depressant. It was clear that we had maxed out my Celexa dose and it wasn’t making an impact whatsoever anymore. We transitioned to Effexor, a serotonin-norephinephrine reuptake inhibitor (that’s a mouthful). Again I nodded blankly and took the prescription and went on my way.
February 2017 – Hysterectomy time!! I was elated that the bleeding would stop and I could just move on with my life. Go ahead, tear out that useless organ and throw it away! Good riddance!
I wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of the surgery and the long term effects though. The uterus holds up the bladder, without which the bladder sags. When the bladder sags it causes a whole bunch of other problems (again, I could write a damn novel about this). I fell into another depression, each subsequent episode lasting longer than the ones previous.
I can’t remember much of 2018. I know that peppered between the smorgasboard of depressive events, I had moments of ‘up’ which I now know were hypomanic episodes. These were characterized by revved up energy, mood and behavior. I would talk frenetically, my thoughts going a million miles a minute. I would overcommit to things, feeling like I could take on world. I started doing community theater. I volunteered for different organizations. I tried starting up a non-profit. I was the chair of the social club at work.
These were always followed by crushing down cycles where I would dump whatever it was that I was hyped up about, making the depression worse.
March 2019 – My younger sister who was 37 at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say this was devastating to her and our family is an understatement and unless you or someone you know has been affected by cancer, you can’t really capture the fear with words. She underwent rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation. We all put on a brave face but inside I was a mess. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.
*I feel like it’s important to deviate a little and encourage all women, regardless of age, to check their boobies, have their yearly squish and advocate for themselves if they feel something is wrong.
March 2020 – The pandemic. The stress of the last 5 years had left me burned out, mentally depleted and exhausted. This would be the straw that broke the camel’s back and what finally led me to my diagnosis…