How much did we complain about 2016? And how much were we looking forward to 2017? Or maybe it was just me. Regardless, I was certain 2017 was going to be a kick ass year and I was waiting for it with open arms.
Two weeks into the year and my life was turned upside down. Do I sound dramatic? Yes? Well, that’s because I don’t do well in times of crisis. It was a sunny afternoon, and I must have just had lunch when I felt a tingling feeling take over me, from head to toe. My hands and feet began to feel sweaty and then, numbness. This happened within seconds, and it took me couple of minutes to gather myself and mustard the courage to get up and head to the nearest mirror. I was certain that the right side of my face was droopy. I immediately thought: bell’s palsy. I looked in the mirror and all was good. The numbness was still lingering with the feeling of cold limbs. What was going on? My mind immediately began to feel foggy and slowly but surely I drifted into an out of body experience. For days after, my routine was to run to the restroom and look at my face. I really felt like my face was droopy. This feeling brought confusion which turned into fear. I made an appointment to see my doctor and she ruled out any type of stroke and/or bell’s palsy; thank GOD. She said I had a nervous breakdown due to stress/ anxiety. I was happy to hear that, but still questioned why my body felt like it was on an awful trip. She assured me that it was just part of the process.
Days turned into weeks. Confusion turned into fear and sadness. This was not only taking a toll on me but on everyone around me. I’d make plans only to cancel. Eventually I just stopped answering. I spiraled downwards fast, so fast , I had no idea when it happened. I would sleep, cry, and sleep again. Some symptoms seemed to get better, only for others to pop-up. My muscles were sore. My tongue was swollen. My mind was foggy and the list goes on.I was in both physical and emotional pain. I had completely lost control of my being. I began to pray and allow myself to open up about what/ how I was feeling. Folks shared their experiences and that my pivotal point. There is something so intimate and fragile about people coming together and share their experiences with you. Coming from a Mexican background, as most people I know, this isn’t easy. We do not talk about these things. I am fortunate to work with a colleague turned friend who reminded me on a daily that it was okay to talk about it and that it would only be temporary. I leaned on her more than I would have liked, but I’m thankful that she was always willing to listen. I truly believe God makes no mistakes. He kept making me cross paths with folks that were uplifting and supportive. I’m beyond thankful.
It’s been a month and a day, but feels like a year. Everyday things get better. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my body, patience, understanding, and others. This life is demanding and it is up to us to make it as tough and/or as easy as we possibly can. In a sense we’re just like little kids–often times the signs are there and we just refuse to listen. I no longer view this as a breakdown but instead, a breakthrough.
So was 2016 a bad year? Is 2017 better? The answer is NO and YES. I’ve got a different perspective now. Every single day we wake up is a good day. My husband and children are healthy and happy. We’ve got a place we call home and food on our table. We are surrounded by the most amazing beautiful people that show us love time and time again. No one said it would be easy, but we’re more resilient than we think me are. I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I will continue to help normalize dialogues about mental health in our communities. We must share the knowledge and continue to pay it forward. There is a reason behind this experience that I might no quite understand now, but in due time I will. I’m not where I used to be but I’m slowly getting there.
p.s. If anyone has any questions about my experience or findings along the way, I’m more than happy to chat.