You are not alone

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by Tammy Zollinger

“1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem, or illness in any given year” – The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit.

Chances are high you, or someone you know, is struggling. So please know, you are far from being alone.

My battle with mental illness has raged for years. I’m 36 years old, and for over half my life I’ve struggled with depression. In 2015, my fight with anxiety started. I don’t have answers; however, I hope sharing some of my story might help someone.

On May 15, 2020, I suffered a massive nervous breakdown. We had finished planting our crops, and our group of 130 dairy goats had finished giving birth. I had been looking forward to a day off; however, some equipment in the barn had broken, and I was forced to head back up and babysit the wash. I had been relying on alcohol for months to help ease the daily strain of life, so I grabbed a full 1.5L of wine and went to sit in the milk house.

My husband joined me, and what started as a discussion, turned into a disagreement. In that two-hour span, the wine had been finished. I snapped. My husband realized something was not right. He left to get my best friend who lives in our little house on the farm, and she took over trying to calm me down. She told me later on that she had placed her hands on my face and said, “You need to calm down. This is not you.” I have no recollection.

The next few days, my husband and I decided I needed to leave the farm, the barn, and stress of life behind for a bit. The goal was to find an in-patient treatment program; however, everything was closed because of Covid. I moved out on May 17 and spent the night at a friend’s house. The following day, I found a more permanent place to live. A lovely couple who lived right on the St. Lawrence River took me in. There I spent some days and nights, soaking in the peace, returning almost every day to see my girls, checking in on things, and helping where I could.

I started to realize the extent of my breakdown, but what had happened, I had zero memory of. As my husband told me the details of that night, I was riddled with guilt. Things were being pieced together. I remembered looking for a fight. I had purposely pushed his buttons, hoping he would hit me, I was so enraged, I wanted a fist fight. I wanted nothing more than to take out years of aggression, rage, and hatred on someone.

Unfortunately, he was my easiest target. He said “I knew something had changed in you, you have never been a nasty person, I wasn’t dealing with my wife.” Looking back, I thank him and God for protecting both of us that evening.

This is just part of my story, one story of many. Mental illness can affect anyone at any time. It knows no bounds. I hope, in the months ahead, I can share more of my story, the defeats and victories. I can share help to those who struggle, and those who need more understanding.

I’ll leave you with something my counselor shares with me at every session: “You are good. You are not alone.”

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