Farm Girl

Mental Health: my story

How would you feel if every day you went to work you were losing instead of gaining?

How would it feel to know that if you walked away from your career you might have absolutely nothing to show for years of dedication?

For many american farmers these are questions they have been dealing with and processing, month after month after month.  It is heart breaking that the very people who provide food for us are filing for assistance, because they cannot afford their own groceries. It has been years of low income for agriculture; watching friends and acquaintances hang up their bib-overalls, so to speak, and try to move in a different direction. But what about those of us who cannot imagine life down a different path?

I am asking today that you pray for farmers. Pray for strength and guidance; pray for a miracle. Because farming is among the highest rate of suicide victims. Because I feel farmers in general keep to themselves, put their chins down, put their muscles to work, and help their neighbors when they can. Some of our farmers need to know they are not alone and that they are cared for. There is often a stigma associated with depression; the feeling that ‘because I am struggling with something, I am weak’. I disagree with that! I think educating yourself on depression and anxiety makes you stronger. I think finding someone you can connect with and talk to makes you stronger.

My story:

I have that expectation that I can handle stress; I can be the mom and the wife that I should be, to fill everyone’s cup before I get to my own. In July 2017 I finally realized my cup was long empty and I had been crumbling for a few months. I would blame the weather and the fact that I didn’t have a tribe of close-knit girlfriends to reach out to. I blamed the dairy industry and the low milk prices. I blamed myself for not having a hobby and my family for not measuring up-not directly to them but under my breath as I wept on the shower floor.

The problem was I was grasping at straws, for this to be someone’s fault. When I stopped blaming my symptoms on this or that I realized many of them were triggered by the same situations. My heart would race, I felt panicked and anxious. I didn’t want to leave my house; I didn’t want to put myself in a situation that I wouldn’t be able to control. I had experienced sharp pains above my heart that radiated down my left side and headaches almost daily. It wouldn’t take much for me to fall apart or to snap at someone; my family usually took the brunt of it.

Feeling lost I asked a couple friends for support and they recommended I see my doctor, my husband didn’t understand the need for it. “This is life” he said, “life is hard and stressful, worry is how bills get paid and kids are suppose to drive parents crazy”. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe my husband’s point of view but in my heart I knew I wasn’t the same person I had been a year ago, so I made the appointment.

A few weeks later I walked out of the clinic feeling mentally exhausted with puffy eyes and a purse full of tissues; I held paperwork for a prescription in my hand and as I unlocked the car I took a deep breath. Now what?

It isn’t a pill that takes away the problems of the world but rather allows me to think clearly through my problems.

It isn’t a pill that doesn’t allow me to feel frustration and disappointment but rather allows me to calmly rationalize the importance of the situation before tackling it.

It isn’t a pill that will be part of my life forever but rather a tool I choose to use right now, so I can be their mom and his wife; so I can breathe easier.

Taking an antidepressent doesn’t make me less of anything. I looked at the way I was treating the people I love most in the world and I knew I wasn’t giving them the best parts of me, so I asked for help.

Mental health determines how we handle stress, interact with others, and make decisions. Feeling this way wasn’t a mom-thing. It wasn’t a farmer-thing. This is life, but we all handle it different. Please, read that sentence again. If you, or someone you know, is eating or sleeping too much or too little, having low to no energy, pulling away from people or activities, having unexplained aches and pains, yelling or fighting with family and friends, I give you the suggestion my friends gave me. Schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Everyone handles life differently. Don’t compare yourself — or your health — to anyone else.

If you or someone you know needs help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

Visit www.mentalhealth.com for more information.

I have been taking an antidepressant for awhile now, and when I am standing in the school pick-up line   N O B O D Y   knows that. I mean, with this post I’m telling people…but, I am choosing to talk about it because it might connect with someone. The point is, you can take care of your mental health in private as a personal issue. I see my doctor every three months and we spend over 30 minutes together at each visit, she is well aware that I do not want to be on medication long-term. I am in no way suggesting that everyone take medication. What I am suggesting is that if you feel like you are not handling the stress well {right now}, be honest with yourself and talk to someone. There are many different ways you can manage the stress in your life, but the first thing you need to do is find someone you can talk to about the way your mind and body are currently making you feel.

Xo, Nicole