Saturday, June 22, 2013

How I Became The Happiest Woman Alive

I didn't always feel happy.

In fact, for about 15 years, I was angry, bitter, and sad.

I blamed my sadness on life events beyond my control, my anger on being let down by loved ones, and my bitterness on the fact that my life wasn't exactly what I'd hoped it would be.

Then one day, the worst day of my life, the world flipped upside down.  My inability to take my mental health into my own hands almost took one of my children.  Don't worry, she's perfectly fine now, but for a little while I wasn't sure.  I look at that moment and think that was the moment I came out of my head and realized that there was something I was missing.  Instead of starting from here, I am going to jump back to when it all started...

As a child I suffered with severe asthma.  In the 80's there wasn't a lot of knowledge on the illness and the medications used caused serious weight gain.  I was unable to participate in the physical activities that the other kids did in fear of an attack.  So, needless to say, I was an overweight kid.

When I was 10 years old my parents divorced.  It was a long time coming but I was a naive child.  I understand now that it was completely necessary on their part and I applaud them on making that tough choice instead of letting a bad situation get worse, but it made me angry.  I couldn't understand why they did and said the things they did.  I love my parents dearly, but when I was a child things weren't so clear to me.  I didn't want the perfect life I had to change, but it did.  Thats when I held onto my anger because it was the only thing that didn't change like so many other things had.

Fast forward 9 years.  I was an overweight rebelling teenager that refused to admit my faults.  I had a wall up to protect myself from any more hurt, but once in awhile I would let people in.  Usually it was the wrong people and I would get hurt again, which just build the wall up higher.  On the inside I was insecure and desperate for affection, but I never allowed those around me to give it to me.  High school was amazing, and I had a great time, but I wasn't always the kindest person.  By 19 years old I had had my heart broken, I had been used, I had used myself, and I didn't have much confidence in who I really was.  My weight was a big factor in my mental status.  I assumed that my appearance wasn't good enough for love, so I needed to "toughen up" to face the world of disappointment.

That is when I met a guy who changed my opinion of myself.  He was amazing and made me feel so much love that I couldn't imagine my life without him.  Seven months after meeting him we were engaged.  The next year we were blessed with the birth of what I consider the most perfect little girl on the planet.  Six months later we were married on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  I know we did it out of traditional order, but it worked for us, and we knew that it was forever.

I was still struggling with the issues of my past though.  I was still angry, I was still bitter, but now I was sad.  Depression started taking over my life.  I didn't feel good enough.  I couldn't even smile without feeling like I was lying to myself.  I had brought it up to my doctors repeatedly but they always told me it would pass.  For 18 months I was told the feelings would go away.  Then I saw a commercial on TV that asked all of those questions you're used to hearing about sadness, sleepiness, weight issues.  I answered YES in my head to every question they asked, and immediately went to my computer and looked up the website they displayed.  I filled out the survey, left my name and phone number, and put it aside.

About 4 days later I answered a phone call from a woman working with a Market Research Company saying that I had been approved to join their study.  I was given an antidepressant for the first time in my life. About a week later I was already feeling better.  Not great but better.

That was the start of my experience on anti-depressants.  They were a wonderful tool at the time, but I never once saw a therapist.  I never tried to get to the bottom of my issues, I just masked them with a pill.  After a few years I had to keep increasing my dose and changing pills to keep the effect I wanted.

Then I found out I was pregnant with my second little girl.  This time it was planned though.  My doctors changed my pills to a "pregnancy friendly" antidepressant and I proceeded to have an uneventful pregnancy, that is, if you don't count getting H1N1 (the swine flu!).  When daughter number two was born I was ecstatic!  She came out looking identical to her big sister and just as perfect.  I was the happiest mom on the planet, but still, lingering in the background was my depression.

When my youngest was a newborn my doctors increased my medication and added another to boost the effects, because nothing seemed to be working.  At that point I was on very high doses of both medications and seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  I was diagnosed with Severe Depression, Anti and Postpartum Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (from an incident at 17), and Anxiety.

When my youngest was 15 months old the worst day of my life happened.  Because of the medications I was on, I slept very hard.  I was also prone to sleepwalking.  I guess that night she started crying so I took her out of her crib and brought her into my bed with me.  I woke up the next morning feeling her little feet next to my head.  She was playing with something but I paid no attention and got up to get my oldest out of bed and ready for school.

It wasn't until late morning that I realized something was off with my little girl.  She wasn't herself and seemed really tired.  After dropping #1 off at school I came home and realized exactly what she had been playing with.  The night before I had left my pills on my headboard.  She got into the bottle and took 16 of them.  I knew because I searched my room for the missing pills and out of the 19 I had left, only 3 were there.

I ran her to the ER where they hooked her up to a bunch of machines and I watched her sleep.  They said that because I didn't realize for 4 hours that it had happened, there was nothing they could do but wait.  I sat by the bed with my 15 month old baby who wouldn't wake up and realized that this was no way of life.  That  I needed to find another way, because those pills would never be in my house again.  I would never put my children at risk again.

My daughter went through very serious withdrawals for a year.  She was mentally numb for a while and no matter how much cuddling I tried to do, there was nothing I could do to comfort her.  She also stopped speaking completely and had massive tantrums for no reason.  While there was nothing wrong with her physically, mentally I didn't know her anymore.

It took almost 18 months for her to go back to "normal."

In those 18 months I realized one thing.  I needed to live life without the pills.  I needed to get out of the inner hell I was forcing myself into, and I needed to do it without any medications.

That's when I found the very first "self help" book I ever read, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It taught me that inside of my head were different voices I created and it was up to me which I listened to.  I read that book 3 times and really let it soak in.  That was when I realized that it was the way I perceived things that caused me to feel the way I did.

From that book, I found several more.  I read and read until I felt like there was nothing I didn't know.

I felt HAPPY for the very first time in my life because I let go every single negative emotion I had.  When one would enter I would hear it, acknowledge it, and then let it pass without following.

THAT is when I decided to lose the excess weight that had been my wall for so many years.  The outer protection that served its purpose and I was done with.   I chose to have bariatric surgery, and have since lost over 125 pounds.

As life would have it, in the spring of 2013 I bought a book, The Guidebook To Happiness.  It was full of amazing tips and suggestions to help live every day to the fullest and happiest I could.  I went onto the website to get more information when I saw that the author was doing a contest to give away a year long life coaching session with him personally.  I figured WHY NOT! and entered the contest.  GUESS WHAT!  I won!  I was blessed to have Carl Massy become my personal life coach and he has helped guide me to THIS path where I am the happiest woman alive.  Now my goal is to help other women find their inner happiness and realize that they too can overcome anything as long as they work on what's inside before they tackle what's on the outside.

That is the start of The Happiest Woman Alive

My family