Come Listen to a Story

Part One of Four


 Come listen to a story ‘bout a woman named Becky

A middle-class professional barley maintaining her sanity

And then one day she was sooo de-energized

That she broke with reality and ended up hospitalized

Five weeks that is, stopped communicating, was in her own world.


Why I started this blog with a little throw back to my youth watching episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies” I don’t know.  Or maybe I do.  Stay tuned.

You know people talk about those life altering events?  Well, this was mine.  The year was 2014, February 21st.  We had just gotten dumped with snow.  Plows were out doing their thing.  I got up to get ready for my day ahead seeing only one client that day.  Usually, I don’t hold office hours on Friday.  But this particular day I had made an exception.  My husband had worked a night shift so when he got home that morning around 8am he found me wandering about the house half-dressed muttering, “I just can’t do it” over and over.  Being a nurse, my husband was able to jump into action, even after a tiring 12-hour night shift.  His first thought was that I was having a stroke or something.  So, we got right back into the car, after he helped me finish dressing, and we went straight to St Mary’s Emergency Room. 

Once there I can remember a few things but most of it is a blur.  I remember not being sure where I was – Austin? Owatonna? St Paul? Rochester?  At that time, I had been doing a lot of trips to all those places, so I wasn’t really sure where I had last landed.  The correct answer would have been Rochester.  I was confused as to the year of my birth.  And on and on it went.  Well, they were able to determine that I was not having a stoke, no heart issues, no high fever, no obvious reason for what I was experiencing so their answer was to admit me to the hospital and so my journey began.

Let me stop here and give you a little backstory.  The eight years preceding February 21, 2014 were filled with major life changes for me.  I moved from Minneapolis with a population of 375,766 to Blooming Prairie with a population of 1963, changed jobs a few times, had a 50-minute one way commute for many years until moving to Rochester.  Oh yeah, a move to Rochester after building our home.  Don’t get me wrong…I love our home, but to say there was no stress through that process would be a lie.  In 2009, Jim left to serve in Iraq for one year with the Minnesota Army National Guard.  Our second grandson was born shortly before Jim was deployed.  Then 2010 rolled around and Jim returned home, I found out that my current employer was closing their doors in two weeks, so I quickly found office space to continue caring for my clients.  And then my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away a few weeks after the diagnosis.  And the grand finale of 2010, Jim and I got engaged and had our wedding in December.  The next summer we completed building our home and moved in.  In the summer of 2012, our first granddaughter was born 8 weeks prematurely. 

If you have ever taken the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) quiz also known as the Holme and Rahe Stress Scale, you know that these are all stressful changes in one’s life.  So, year after year these stresses are happening, and I am continuing to ignore them and push these feelings down deep inside.  A lot of grief, fear, and anxiety.

Then comes the year of 2013.  We make the decision to move my practice into our home, so another change in employment that brings its unique stresses with it.  In July we lose Jim’s mom unexpectantly.  September rolls around and my best friend’s mother passes away and the very next month my friend’s husband and amazing friend to Jim and I passes after battling debilitating dementia for over seven years.

I’ve always been a person who feels deeply.  But I am also particularly good at not letting it show.  People would often comment on how I always had such a calming demeanor.  My response would always be you should see what I look like on the inside.  And we would all chuckle.  I would hold my feelings close and rarely shared what I was truly feeling with anyone.  All these years of stress combined with stresses around income fluctuations due to job changes, keeping it all inside, never sharing what I was feeling with anyone else, feeling like I had to do it all on my own, it finally got the better of me. 

Looking from the outside, no one could have guessed what was going on with me.  The one thing that I do remember is how exhausted I was feeling the week before I went into the hospital.  I remember standing in our kitchen and Jim mentioned something that needed to be done.  It was something minor, but you would have thought he had requested that I move a mountain or something.  My immediate response was to hang my head, fall against the fridge and mutter, “I just can’t do this anymore.”

In 2014, I had completed my first year of practicing out of our home, I had been losing weight and feeling fit, my birthday was on its way and I had plans to go to a spa with friends to celebrate.  Life was great!  But not really.  Something was brewing and we were about to have our lives turned upside down.

Instead of celebrating my birthday at the spa I got to spend it in St Mary’s Hospital.  We still don’t have a definite understanding of what happened to me, but in retrospect I’m sure that a lot of it stemmed from how stress can literally cause your body systems to misfire.  And I was refusing to listen to what my body had been trying to tell me all along so a power greater than I took charge for a while.

If there is one thing that I can share with you from my experience it is this:  share your struggles, share them with your partner, family, friend or professional.  Just make sure to give a voice to your pain because if you leave your grief unspoken, it will just sit there rotting your insides until you physically and mentally will not be able to function.  It is a sign of strength to ask for help.  This is one lesson I learned the hard way.

“Acknowledgement of grief – well, it makes feeling the grief easier,

not harder.” -Elizabeth McCracken

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