As a nurse, raising a child with mental health challenges, who also happened to teach stress reduction, I felt confident in my ability to handle stress. One fall day the perfect storm came together: I had just gotten divorced, I was in graduate school with projects due, and I was the primary caregiver for my young-adult son. I was attending an autism conference one day and had to leave early as I was feeling very anxious – I felt overwhelmed by all the information even though I had attended these kinds of conferences before.  

As I was driving home, I realized I was having a panic attack. I knew I had to do some intense physical exercise to help the attack pass. I got home and jumped on my bike and rode hard. I stopped and called a counselor and set up an appointment. I saw the counselor and my family physician within the next few days.  

My family physician prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. I got worse. In fact, one afternoon I found myself on the sofa unable to move. It was as if I was paralyzed. I called my mom who came immediately, not even stopping to put a coat. I had hit the proverbial wall – a nervous breakdown. 

I called a psychiatrist friend of mine and he referred me to a psychiatrist who was formerly a nurse! She prescribed an antidepressant which worked! I began the journey to healing. I was able to contact my professors in graduate school and received an extension on a project that was coming due. I asked for additional help with my disabled son. I learned something very important from my son’s psychiatrist: “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” (I wasn’t going to be able to change my son!)  

I still take my antidepressants (definitely don’t want to go through that experience again), exercise regularly, and set boundaries. I did graduate and landed my dream job! I also came to forgive my ex and met someone who treats me wonderfully.  

Life is good! 

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