Rising up from the ashes...
I think I've always had ups and downs and have dealt with the residual emotional trauma from sexual abuse when I was younger, but the crippling dark days began a couple years after our fourth child was born. It started with intense physical pain that would come and go. Around that time, we went through a difficult move and the depression hit hard. When we bought our first house, I had my first extremely serious panic attack and anxiety was something I became all too familiar with. I was coping and doing OK but about a year after our move, things turned dark and scary and for some reason I started having racing suicidal thoughts. I have now had thousands of these thoughts since they first began. In the worse of it; I questioned my sanity. I thought, 'where are these thoughts even coming from and why can't I get them out of my head?'. I felt as if I was being haunted and out of control. During the darkest days, I would go to doctors and desperately research to try to find answers. I finally stumbled upon the answer one day. It was PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). PMDD is a severe form of PMS caused by a sensitivity to the hormone fluctuations that occur during the luteal phase of a women's menstrual cycle. It causes depression, anxiety, fatigue, lack of concentration, anger and rage, physical pain and what I think is the worse....hopelessness (a.k.a. for me = suicidal thoughts). Understanding what my body was going through biologically was my first step to giving myself some grace and an initial step to healing and compassion. Another vital step was to stop hiding in shame and talk about the symptoms and thoughts I was experiencing. I first opened up to people I trusted and then started opening up anytime I thought it might help someone. Being open was not easy and still isn't. But, I still have hard days and I've learned that by just saying to my most trusted friend, my husband Tom, 'Hey, the thoughts are here', that is the easiest way to give those thoughts less power in my life and happiness.
Through this experience, I've gained so much empathy and concern for others experiencing mental illness, MECKA was born. I've felt inspired by a power greater than myself to open up about my struggles, to push through the hard days and start MECKA. I want to help end the stigma and shame felt and associated with struggling in any way. We all have our struggles and that can be something that can connect us and bring us together for the greater good and betterment of our world. When I hear of another life lost to mental illness; my heart breaks. I'm on a mission to spread the message of hope even during the darkest days far and wide. MECKA is a program designed to give tools and a community of love and power to overcome these hard times.