Mental Health - A Journey of Hope

January 30, 2019

In 2016 my life hit the wall.......rock bottom......shattered to pieces......whatever you want to call it.....  I suddenly lost my sister, whom I was very close with, to cancer.  No one saw it coming.  It changed life as I knew it in every way.  I didn't know it then, but with this tragic loss in my life, my own life hit rock bottom and fell apart in every way.

 

 

 

 

Sharing This Journey

 

Sharing this part of my life is incredibly hard for me.  In part it is because it was just such an incredibly difficult time in my life.  If you ever talk to me about it, I'm sure I'll be in tears as I talk, because it's just so raw and real.  In part I have felt a lot of guilt and shame over how "broken" I was.  Perhaps this is a cultural thing - after all, we are raised to be strong and independent......we should do everything ourselves somehow.  Perhaps it's because mental illness has so many stigmas attached to it.  Unless you've been in that dark place in life, I don't believe you can understand it.  Yet, I believe that this journey needs to be shared......for me......and for someone that might need to hear it.  If you ever need someone to talk to, I'll be here for you.

 

 

 

How Did I Get Here?

 

I can tell you now, at this point in my life, that it wasn't solely my sister's sudden passing that changed my life.  Although losing my sister, and everything that went with it, was an incredibly hard blow.  All the same, it was merely the straw that "broke the camel's back."  The reality was, that years of all kinds of events led to this point in my life.  Years of job stress and burning the candle on both ends.  Trauma.  Loss.  Dis-functional stuff in life.  The list could go on....

 

If I'm being honest, I was already struggling with life due to trauma, loss and other things in my life.  I can look back and tell you very specific incidents in my life that changed the direction of my path down into the darkness.  It is crazy, because it creeps in slowly, and you don't even notice it until one day you wake up and wonder what happened.....what happened to the person that you once were.......that person that lived and loved life passionately.  

 

 

 

What Does It Look Like?

 

What does what look like?  Depression?  Post-traumatic stress?  Burn-out?  

 

Drowning.......  I always felt like I was drowning.  I would put so much energy and effort into "swimming" and fighting to stay above water, only for the deep darkness to draw me down under again.

 

It gets tiring to always have to fight to stay above water.  It required lots of effort and energy that I just didn't have at that point in my life.

 

At one point Dr. Lisa (my absolutely amazing naturopathic doctor) said to me "You don't even want to live anymore, do you?"  I was shocked by the question.  It was absurd to even say this!  It was absurd, because I didn't even see it myself.  But when I took an honest look at the question and my answer, she was right......I had no desire to live.  Although I have never actually felt like actually ending my life, I'm not sure having no desire to live is that much different.

 

 

Love - A Way Out

 

Through a series of events, I ended up at Heartland Family Wellness - a naturopathic wellness clinic in Portage la Prairie.  Since 2017 I've been in the care of the most amazing naturopathic Doctor you could ever meet - Dr. Lisa Graham.  I'm so glad I ended up there, as I don't know where I would be if I didn't.

 

I've been on this journey of healing and getting my life back for almost two years.  Yes, almost two years!!  For what it's worth, it took me significantly longer to get to the low point that I was at.

 

This journey was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, but I'm so glad I did, as it has ended me up where I am now......in a much better place in life.  The love and support of my amazing doctor and her staff at Heartland has brought me through this dark time in my life.  Not only has it brought me through this dark time, it has helped me to truly heal, regain strength and get my life back.  This all came with a lot of hard work that Dr. Lisa asked me to do.  After all, it's MY journey, and no one can do it for me, but me.  The efforts are so worth it!!  I can truly say that for the first time in many years I'm not fighting to keep from drowning.  It is so good to have my life back so I can truly live and enjoy it in every way! 

 

I'm also so extremely grateful for the amazing people in my life that have consistently stood by my side through all this.  I assure you, that even though I couldn't always show it, your love and support has been a huge and invaluable part of my life.

 

My family has always been there for me.  Sadly the people closest in our lives always bear the brunt of our stuff.  I apologize for that.  I have no doubt that I don't make it easy on you.  Thanks for always sticking with me no matter what.....and still loving me.

 

Photo Credit:  Heather Beckstead

 

 

Learning To Live Life Again

 

Recently I said to someone who is very dear to me:  "It's weird, because I feel like I am having to re-learn how to live life again."  This person told me that it wasn't surprising.  She said "How the nervous system responds to things completely changes as health and life is restored."  I had never thought of it this way, but it totally made sense.

 

Since my sister passed away I have quit the well paying and "secure" job that I was at for nine years (the reality is that there is no such thing as "secure" anything, and many things can come with a high cost in life).  I ended up in another job for a fairly short stint before leaving due to a toxic situation.  I took a summer off.  Then I went to college to take a photography program.  Currently I'm working on getting my own business off the ground.  It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride to say the least, but it's all been so worth it!  Life has a weird way to taking you to where you need to be.  Life isn't perfect by any means, but it's definitely on an upward trajectory again.  With that said, as I continue to become a better "me," I am confident that all other missing pieces will come together on this incredible journey we call live.

 

 Photo Credit:  Min Kim

 

 

Live And Love Life

 

I'm so happy that I'm loving life again.....I mean truly loving life again!!  Life is such a wild adventure, meant to be lived and experienced!

 

I'm always looking for new adventure!  It comes in so many ways!

 

I love to travel.  I love exploring this amazing province I live in and sharing it with others.  It never ceases to amaze me how many amazing people I meet along the way.  I absolutely love meeting people and listening to how they enjoy life and the world around them.  

 

 Photo Credit:  Sheila Kristenson

 

Photo Credit:  Sheila Kristenson

 Photo Credit:  Rodney Braun

Photo Credit:  Steve N.

Photo Credit:  Rodney Braun

 

 

There Is Always Hope

 

If you are in that place where you feel that you are "drowning," I assure you there is hope!  Our bodies and minds are designed to heal and have the capacity to be restored.  It is quite the miracle, really!  Sometimes it's a matter of figuring out how to navigate through all that. 

 

I could never have done it alone.  I'm grateful for every person that always stood by my side and consistently just LOVED me.  There is comfort in knowing that you have people that are there for you "not matter what." 

 

As mentioned before, Dr. Lisa and everyone at the Heartland Wellness Center have been a huge part of my healing journey.  It was always a forward journey with the solution of health as a goal.  I'm so grateful to have such an incredible team on my side!  Heartland has given me my life back, and I have the greatest cheering squad on my side as I continue to work hard towards an always better life and level of health.  Definitely check them out, even if you don't have any kind of urgent health needs.  You will not regret it.

 

I have also found much information from Dr. Caroline Leaf extremely helpful and informational.  You can get more information on who she is and what she does here.  She has books, podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs and much more. 

 

There are also many support systems out there, including various talk and text lines that are easily accessible.  Please never hesitate to reach out for help and support.  You are valuable and important and how you feel is very real.  For the Kids Help Line click here.  For Crisis Services Canada click here.  For the Canadian Mental Health Association in Manitoba click here.

 

The following image is one I call "Navigating the Storm."  Although storms in life can hit us hard, there is always sunshine on the other end.  I truly believe that.  I truly hope and wish that everyone out there always finds the sunshine on the other end of their storm.

 

 

 

All photography is my own unless otherwise indicated.

©Sigrid Sauereisen 2019

 

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