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I have struggled with anxiety most of my life, had severe post-partum depression and situational depression after I had my first child, resulting in a failed suicide attempt.

Three months after my son was born I went back to work. My husband was gone for three months training and I was completely overwhelmed as a new mom and incredibly emotional about being away from my baby. I cried daily, multiple times a day, for months. This was all very unlike me. I am a very high energy, upbeat extrovert. My marriage continued to unravel; my husband left me, I found out he was having an affair, I was still working full-time and raising my son. Looking back now, it is hard to describe how I was feeling those days. Everyday felt so overwhelming. I LOVE my son, but I was so tired that it was hard to enjoy all those special milestones. I was also so angry and heartbroken from my husband’s behavior. I was not a good teacher at the time. I felt like I wasn’t “me” and giving those students the teacher they deserved that was so high energy and organized and excited to be there. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. After a verbal that turned physical altercation with my husband at the time, I took a bottle of Xanex with several strong drinks and filled up the bathtub, and climbed in my clothes on. My son was not home at the time. I didn’t call anyone, I didn’t write a note. I just did it. A friend found me in my bathtub, unconscious.

I was treated at a local hospital and referred to inpatient psychiatric unit- I went to Alexian Brothers in Hoffman Estates. I stayed there for a week. The first two days I was in a deep depression, stabilizing from my meds, and barely left my room. By the third day, I came out of my room, attended the sessions- both group and individual, and talked to the other “patients” during meals. I learned a lot about myself. I can’t say I had a breakdown solely because of a chemical imbalance of post-partum depression- I realized that I had no coping skills. I have been through some tough times in my life before, but I never coped with anything. I buried it and moved on. I learned that I have anxiety and an intense fear of failure. I learned real ways to manage tough times. I was also prescribed anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety which I took for 6 months, weaned down for two months, and haven’t taken it since. Most of my family was very supportive after my suicide attempt. I had several friends that completely cut me out of their lives. They said what I almost did, taking my own life and leaving my son without a mother, was unforgivable. I stayed in contact with a couple of the patients I met during my week of treatment, and it was really helpful. We would text each other and check in. I just met these people but they already knew more about me than a lot of people I had known for years. I met them when I was at my worst, so I didn’t need to keep walls up. I have a tendency to want everyone to think things are so much better with me than they are- and with these people I could just be honest. I also saw a therapist weekly for several months. She and I worked on developing my coping skills. She helped empower me as I had to stand up to my (now) ex-husband throughout our divorce. I would say she did some assertiveness training with me in an informal fashion. She helped tremendously.

I have since had struggles. And going through my divorce after my breakdown wasn’t easy. The biggest thing I learned in all of this is that it is OKAY to ask for help and literally the tools for me to know HOW to ask for help. As silly as that sounds, I felt unable to to do it before. It was a sign of weakness/failure, and I couldn’t do it. Now I am re-married and I have a second child. I am still working full-time, now as a Communications Director at a large non-profit organization. I still have anxiety, but I am more aware of it. I know how to read myself and what I need- going to the gym, for a walk, a hot bath, etc. to deescalate.

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