When Physical Health Problems Turn Into Mental Health Problems (& how I got help before it was too late)

The past 4-1/2 months of my life have been utter hell, starting with mysterious physical health issues that quickly spiraled into serious mental health problems. Anxiety and depression led me to the dark place of suicide, but I found the last bit of strength I had to ask for help before it was too late.

woman in navy blue shirt with glasses smiling with text overlay

The last 4-1/2 months of my life have been a whirlwind, a blur — and yet I remember every detail, every physical sensation, every dark and scary thought that went through my mind and stayed there longer than it was welcome.

I had a UTI, y’all. Women get them all. the. freaking. time.

Urinary tract infections don’t typically have a high rate of causing people’s lives to fall apart.

Except mine did.

Here’s the back story…

In late October 2o18, I woke up early one morning, needing to pee.

I noticed that my urine stream wasn’t it’s usual flow — more of a trickle. So, I wiped, got up, and went back to bed.

A few minutes later, I had the urge to pee again.

This time, it burned, and there was a smidge of blood on the toilet paper after wiping, along with that classic “after burn” that is my body’s indication of a urinary tract infection.

I don’t get UTIs often. In fact, I’ve had three in the past six or seven years. I was certainly annoyed and puzzled by the fact that I had a UTI, but I was in no way freaking out about it.

I keep a pretty well-loaded natural medicine cabinet, meaning I had all the things: D-Mannose, raw garlic, oregano essential oil and gelatin capsules, apple cider vinegar. I also sent the hubs to the store for a bottle of pure cranberry juice.

Truly, I had an I-got-this attitude. I’ve never been able to successfully get over a UTI without antibiotics, and I was determined that this was my moment. 

After several days, however, this UTI wasn’t getting better. Though I wasn’t seeing blood on the t.p., the frequency, urgency, and burning were all still present.

So, I amped it all up — more D-Mannose, more raw garlic, more oregano oil, and adding in extra probiotics in addition to the Just Thrive probiotics I already take.

A friend brought over more bottles of pure cranberry juice and cranberry pills.

If you compared this UTI to a house on fire, we were using everything at our disposal — the fire hydrant, the water hose, the neighbor’s hose, pots of water, buckets, etc.

Despite all of these interventions, however, my urethra was still hurting every time I peed. The best way I can describe it was like a twinge or spasm of pain after urinating.

Sitting directly on my pelvic floor would also trigger these twinges. The twinges were always worse in the evening than during the day, and standing or doing activity during the day would also increase them.

When the twinges were at full force, I felt like I had to pee constantly, but hardly any urine was coming out. All signs still pointed to my having a UTI — but deep down, this didn’t feel like a UTI anymore.

Recognizing that being up and active aggravated my urethra/bladder, I essentially spent most of November and December in a horizontal position. I took my laptop to my room and worked from my bed — even taking coaching calls from clients from my bed.

I holed up and didn’t go out or accept dinner invitations from friends. I quit skiing and ice skating. Committed to nurturing my body and giving it the rest I felt it needed, I pulled back from all activities that weren’t absolutely essential.

I even purchased test strips to check my urine for infection. They kept coming back positive for leukocytes (white blood cells), but negative for nitrates. So, still, all signs said I didn’t have a UTI — just as I suspected.

I consulted Google and trusted friends and colleagues. It seemed as though all signs were pointing to a chronic, painful bladder condition called interstitial cystitis.

Was it Interstitial Cystitis?

My lovely friend and colleague Megan Stevens at EatBeautiful has dealt with interstitial cystitis, so I consulted her and took a food intolerance test known as the Carroll Evaluation.

This test checks for your primary and secondary food intolerances. An intolerance is a food that your body just cannot digest. It’s not an allergy or a sensitivity — both of which can be healed. An intolerance means that the body doesn’t make whatever enzyme is needed to digest the food and never will.

My primary intolerance was dairy. My secondary intolerance was fruit and sugar within four hours of each other.

Knowing that Megan had healed her IC by finally discovering and eliminating her intolerances, I gave it a shot. In mid-November, I cut all dairy from my life. I already don’t eat sugar, so that wasn’t a big sacrifice.

I waited and waited to see a difference in the twinges — and nothing changed.

So, maybe it’s not IC? I wondered. It must be something else.

I’m a digger. A researcher. A freaking bulldog. 

I was determined to find out what the heck was going on in my urethra.

Ending 2018

By mid-December, I had also started having some abdominal pain that occasionally spread around my left side and into my back. Six years ago, I had a UTI that turned into a kidney infection, and a CT scan showed a large stone in my left kidney.

Therefore, it was not unreasonable for me to suspect that perhaps the problem all along was a kidney stone — except my body didn’t seem to be trying to pass anything. 

Sometimes, the abdominal pain was a small, silver dollar-sized spot about two inches to the left and below my navel. Other times, it went down into my lower pelvis and felt like menstrual cramps. And other times, it went up into my stomach area, causing me to think I was having digestive problems.

Just like the urethra spasms, this pain would worsen if I was up and around and would lessen when I was resting or lying down.

When we celebrated Winter Solstice on December 22nd, I had a difficult time walking out to the spot in the forest where we observe our ceremony. It felt like there was a weight in my pelvis, like if I wasn’t careful something was going to come out of me. Heavy and slow — that’s how I felt when I walked.

The first day of my period came on the Winter Solstice, which also happened to be a full moon. My intuition was strong. After the Solstice ceremony, as everyone left the grove in the forest, I stayed behind. I emptied my menstrual cup of blood onto the snow, as an offering to Mother Earth. I trusted that I would find answers and healing.

On December 31st, I was determined to end 2018 on a positive note. I figured that if I still had a UTI, I would go ahead and take antibiotics so I could start 2019 without this hanging over me.

It had gone on long enough.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I drove myself to urgent care an hour away.

As you can imagine, I told the doctors every minute detail. They said it sounded like a UTI; I kept insisting that this was NOT a UTI. 

“I know what a UTI feels like in my body,” I said over and over. “I believe this started as a UTI, but it isn’t that now.”

So they did a transvaginal ultrasound. All clear. 

Obviously, this was a relief — to know that my uterus and ovaries and fallopian tubes and all were healthy and lovely. The urine test also came back positive for white and red blood cells (no surprise there since I’d been using the at-home test strips) but it was negative for bacteria.

I was given a prescription for antibiotics anyway.

Intuition Wins

Because my urine analysis was negative for bacteria, I hesitantly took the prescription home but didn’t fill it. I decided I would wait until after the holiday was over and see my GP for a repeat urine analysis.

This was January 4th. 

Once again, I described in detail all of my symptoms: how it started with a UTI that I treated at home, the twinges, the abdominal pain that was sometimes in one spot and sometimes went around my entire left side, the occasional heaviness in my pelvic region.

The urine analysis again came back positive for white and red blood cells and negative for bacteria. 

“Sometimes you can have an infection that doesn’t culture because we only culture for a few types of bacteria,” my GP said. “I recommend you take the antibiotics you received at urgent care and follow up with me in a few days.”

Reluctantly, I took them. I took 3 pills — and the twinges got worse.

I called urgent care back and asked if this was normal. They replied that, after 3 pills, I should see relief — so it probably was not a UTI (no surprise there!) and recommended that I follow up with a urologist.

Great. I thought. I have no insurance. Spending money on a specialist is exactly what I need. (Drips with sarcasm…)

woman sitting on butcher block bench holding a camera

Let’s Talk About Mental Health For A Moment…

My physical health story isn’t over, but I need to pause and talk about how my mental health at this point.

It’s no secret that I have a mental illness. I have diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD. I struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of my second child and took an SSRI (Lexapro) for 10 months.

I have found great healing and relief from anxiety through over two years of EMDR therapy.

However, the longer these mysterious symptoms persisted in my body, the more money I spent trying to find answers and coming up empty, the worse my anxiety became.

I can’t even tell you the irrational thoughts that went through my mind on a minute-by-minute basis. I was truly afraid that there was something majorly wrong in my body and that these damn doctors weren’t taking me seriously.

I even had one doctor tell me I needed to quit worrying so much!

I tried deep breathing techniques, meditation, guided meditation, distracting myself with Netflix, Googling, then not Googling. Nothing was working.

The knot in my stomach grew more and more each day. I noticed that my heart was palpitating, that it was becoming more and more difficult to sleep, and that I was losing my appetite.

Then, I started having daily panic attacks.

I would wake up in the morning, and my heart would pound for no reason. I became shaky, but I wasn’t cold. My hands and lips tingled. I got short of breath.

And I cried. Buckets and buckets of tears.

I was truly frozen with fear. Something was happening in my body, and no one could tell me what.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this unknown fear about your body, but it’s truly terrible and terrifying.

By the beginning of January, I was hardly able to function. My blog, my work, my coaching program, my friends, heck, even my kids, took a backseat to all of this.

My mind was literally consumed with fear. Some days, all I could do was wonder around my house, from room to room, trying to think what I should be doing and coming up empty.

I watched the clock each day until my husband got home from work, melting into a puddle of anxious tears the moment he walked in the door.

He took over making dinner, running kids to and from wherever they needed to go, and most of the grocery shopping.

The only time I was able to drive was to get myself to EMDR therapy — but by this point, EMDR wasn’t working for me any longer. I wasn’t getting any relief from this crippling anxiety and panic attacks.

I could literally have a panic attack at the drop of a hat: if an unfamiliar number rang on my phone, it would trigger one. If my husband came home 10 minutes late from work without calling first, panic attack. If I got a bill in the mail that wasn’t what I expected: panic attack. 

You guys, when I say it was crippling, I mean CRIPPLING. Debilitating. Absolutely the worst physical and mental feeling I’ve ever experienced — so much so that I don’t even have the words to describe it.

My EMDR therapist was at a loss and strongly urged me to go to my GP to get some anti-anxiety medication to take as needed when I was having panic attacks.

Going To A GP For Mental Health Is A Joke

In my GP’s office, I had to fill out a questionnaire… and all the questions were about depression. 

Was I sleeping more than usual? Did I have interest in my normal activities? Was I crying and/or overly emotional more than normal? Etc., etc.

Once I was called back to see my GP, I straight up told her, “I did not like that questionnaire you had me fill out. It didn’t ask anything about the panic attacks I’ve been having, the heart palpitations, the racing thoughts, how I hyperventilate and shake. Nothing. I’m NOT depressed. I have anxiety!”

“Well,” she explained, “anxiety and depression often go together. I would like to start you on an SSRI. It will take up to six weeks to see if it is having a therapeutic effect for you. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to wean you off and try another one.”

“No way,” I said. “I’ve taken an SSRI before, after my daughter was born. I did NOT like how it make me feel. And I’m not depressed. I have this medical stuff going on, and as soon as I get it figured out, I believe the anxiety will go away. Please give me something for anxiety. Please help me stop these panic attacks!”

She very reluctantly agreed to prescribe me 15 half-milligram Ativan, and then referred me to a psychiatrist — who I would not be able to see until March, two months later.

Somehow, I was supposed to make those 15 pills last two months.

Now, I not only had anxiety about the health issues in my body, I also had anxiety about the anxiety medication. What if I ran out? She wouldn’t prescribe me more. She had adamantly told me so.

So, I continued to have panic attacks, but wouldn’t allow myself to take the meds for fear that I would run out before I could see a psychiatrist. Every panic attack resulted in a mental argument with myself:

Is it bad enough to take a pill? If I do, I’ll only have __ left. Maybe I can push through this one. What if I can’t? 

And on and on and on it went.

My husband would urge me to take the Ativan, beg with me, plead with me. But I was so terrified of running out that I rationed them like something precious. It was like I was Gollum and those Ativan were the Ring. They were my precious, and I couldn’t imagine needing them and being out of them.

I now felt like I was a hamster on a wheel… and I couldn’t find a way off the wheel.

January 12, 2019

The heaviness in my pelvis continued into mid-January.

One day, I also felt like I couldn’t use my pelvic floor muscles properly. I couldn’t do a Kegel. I felt like I had to pee constantly, even though the twinges in my urethra were slightly better. 

It felt like something was about to come out of my vagina. I didn’t want to check myself for fear of what I would find, but I had to know.

So, I sat on the toilet and lightly placed my middle finger inside my vagina. Something was RIGHT THERE. It was my cervix. It felt swollen and bumpy.

I called my husband in and laid on the bathroom floor so he could check me. He agreed: this wasn’t normal.

With the other symptoms still persisting — pelvic heaviness, left flank pain, menstrual-type cramps, urethra twinges, urinary frequency — we decided it was time to make a trip to the emergency room.

Remember, we live 65 miles from civilization. We have a small store, a gas station, and a hardware store near us, but that’s it. Any sort of medical care that’s worth anything is over an hour away.

Once we got to the ER, I had to go through all the explanations again: when the UTI started, how I treated it, how I’d had urine analysis done that were all negative for bacteria, how I had this heaviness in my pelvis, pain in my abdomen and went around my left side and into my back, and now, a cervix that felt like it was about to come out of my body.

The ER doctor did a pelvic exam and was shocked at the appearance of my cervix.

“You have a raging cervicitis,” he said. “Have you been having any discharge? Your cervix is very inflamed.”

No, I hadn’t been having discharge. I’d been so hypersensitive to everything going on “down there”, checking the toilet every time I peed or pooped, examining the blood in my menstrual cycles for irregularities, and so on.

I’d had all these other mystery symptoms, but that wasn’t one of them. Trust me, if I had had discharge, I’d have known.

“So what causes cervicitis?” my husband and I both asked.

Gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast. I knew I didn’t have any sexually transmitted infections, but they insisted on testing for them anyway. In fact, they tested for all of those things — and all of them were negative.

Regardless, I was told that I needed antibiotics for my inflamed cervix. And I didn’t hesitate to take them. (FYI, the antibiotics didn’t help, but I did find an amazing natural treatment later.)

Because of the urinary symptoms and pain in my abdomen, pelvis, and back, they finally did what I had wanted all along — I got a CT scan.

When the results of that came back, I was shocked.

Yes, I had kidney stones — two of them, in fact, both around five millimeters in size. But, that was not the cause of my mystery abdominal, back, and pelvic pain.

“The cause of your pain,” the doctor explained, “is that your left parauterine vein is prominent, and it’s starting on your right side, too. Basically, you have varicose veins in your pelvis. It’s called pelvic congestion syndrome. You need to see a gynecologist. I believe that your inflamed cervix is also pressing on your urethra and that’s what’s causing your spasms.”

Now I needed not only a urologist, but a gynecologist too. And with no insurance. How in the hell was I supposed to pay for those?

Still, I’m a fighter. I love my body and deeply desire to take care of it. If I needed specialists, then specialists I would see.

At least I had something resembling answers now.

By the way, Google Is NOT Your Friend

I began researching cervicitis… and got nowhere. I researched pelvic congestion syndrome — and boy, was that a never-ending rabbit hole of hopelessness.

Pelvic congestion syndrome is considered a chronic pain condition with no known causes and no known cures. The only risk factors for developing PCS are being between the ages of 20 and 40 and having a baby. Having two or more babies puts you at an even greater risk.

Lovely, I’m 35 and have had two babies.

PCS is rarely diagnosed, however it is a cause of so much mysterious pelvic pain for women. (It can also happen in men, but it is very rare.)

I wanted to know more about these “conditions” I had, but Googling them was pretty much the worst thing I could’ve done for my mental health.

The more I read, the more hopeless, anxious, and depressed I became.

How Did I Get Here???

By this point, I had lived with pain in my body every day for over two months. I now had an explanation for my pain, but I had no clue how or if I was going to get any sort of treatment for it.

I felt more hopeless than ever. And yes, this is when the anxiety also began to manifest depression.

I couldn’t sleep more than three to four hours a night, and I would wake up with my heart pounding out of my chest. My days were spent trying to work, trying to cook, trying to take care of my family but being completely unable to do so because my mind was obsessed with what was going on in my body.

I began having really dark and awful thoughts. Truthfully, I began wanting to die.

I felt like a burden to my husband and my children, that they deserved better, that I would never be the happy, healthy me I had been just a couple of months ago.

My husband began going in late to work because my worst panic attacks were always in the morning. I would writhe in bed, screaming, crying, and grieving for myself, for my old life, for who I was before I had a freaking UTI.

And how did a UTI turn into this??? My mind focused on that question all day, every day.

Time For A Change

On January 18, 2019, I looked into my husband’s eyes and plainly said,

“I’m not having a panic attack. I’m completely rational right now. I know you love me. I know our kids love me. But I can’t do this anymore. I am a shell of who I once was, and I cannot live like this. I’m not living; I’m simply existing. I want to die, and I’m going to figure out a way to do it.”

At that moment, he called his boss and plainly told him what was going on. Without hesitation, his boss graciously said he could take all the time he needed. 

David decided I needed a change, to get out of the house, out of the cold darkness of northern Minnesota. Less than 24 hours later, we had loaded up the car and were headed to Texas to see my parents and my best friend.

David knew I would be loved on and nurtured, and that’s exactly what I needed.

Texas was a good change. And I was loved, nurtured, and cared for — beyond anything I have words to express. My family and friends got me through one day. And then another and then another.

For 10 days, I was given space to be in pain, to not get dressed, to eat or not eat, to lay down or get up. I got cranial sacral massages, and they helped my pain so much.

I saw my functional doctor in Dallas, Dr. Tim Chrisman. He did all sorts of applied kinesiology on me and developed a plan for supplementation. Tim is a wonderful practitioner and friend. He spent so much time with me and was so thorough.

Even now, he continues to support me with supplements, dietary recommendations, and friendship. If you’re looking for a practitioner who won’t stop digging until he finds answers, I can’t recommend Dr. Tim enough!

Still, we couldn’t stay in Texas forever. We had to make the 22-hour drive back to Minnesota. 

Because I had an appointment with my midwife for a PAP test to check my cervix.

Back in Minnesota…

I decided when we got back from Texas that I was just going to jump back in to my life. There was nothing I could do for the PCS or urethra twinges until I could see a urologist and gynecologist, so I purposed in my heart that I wouldn’t let them consume me any longer.

I wanted to get back to writing recipes, taking photos, and blogging. I had so much to catch up on, so I jumped in with both feet.

Each day, before my husband left for work, we would write down a small list of tasks for me to accomplish that day. Things like:

  • make the bed
  • write and test a new recipe
  • photograph a recipe or edit photos
  • make dinner

Simple things that I was easily able to accomplish before November, but that had been nearly impossible for me to do for months.

And for a couple of weeks, this worked. Sure, I had anxiety, but I forced myself to push through it. Remember, I’m determined as a bulldog!

I saw my midwife on January 31 for a PAP test and exam. Happily, the natural treatment I’d used for my cervix worked! She said my cervix was lovely, pink, and totally healthy. The PAP results came back normal — what a relief!

February in Minnesota means winter was still in full force with temperatures were well below freezing all the time. 

Since November, I had fantasized about sunshine, warmth, and green grass in which to sink my bare feet. I wanted to walk in the woods with my feet feeling the cool, damp earth and moss beneath them. I longed to swim in my favorite swimming holes.

Yet, outside it was bleak, cloudy, dark, white, and bitterly cold — exactly how I felt on the inside.

Pushing myself to be “normal” after we returned from Texas had the opposite effect. Rather than feeling better, I felt worse — not physically, but mentally.

I cried and grieved for myself daily. Wanting to protect my kids from myself, I shut myself up in my room for hours every day.

They could hear my cries anyway. And oh, how loving and nurturing my own children were and are to me. As a momma, it’s my job to protect and nurture them; but they stepped up and made food for me, cleaned the house, did the laundry.

The mom guilt was strong, y’all. So strong. 

More and more, suicidal thoughts were creeping in.

woman sitting on a butcher block bench with black and yellow pillows with text overlay

My Suicide Plan

At first, I tried to tune them out. I would busy myself with something, anything to make them go away. I’d try distracting myself with Netflix or scrolling through Instagram or Facebook on my phone or Pinterest. I’d call my mom or my best friends and try talking to them. I’d text my husband.

I tried meditating and guided meditations. I tried listening to music, but that only made me sadder.

All of these were temporary distractions. I shouldn’t be thinking these thoughts, but I couldn’t make them go away. I literally had zero control over my own mind.

When I’d be awake at night, unable to sleep, I would formulate different plans and play them out in my head. 

I knew I didn’t want to slit my wrists because I didn’t want to make a mess and definitely didn’t want my kids to find me dead. Our family knows someone who tried committing suicide by shooting himself in the head, but it didn’t work and he lived, minus one eye that is now blind from his injury. So, that didn’t seem like a good option either.

My body is so sensitive to pills that trying to overdose on over-the-counter meds seemed like a bad idea because I knew I would probably puke them up.

So, I kept going back to the cold.

If I went outside without warm clothing on and stayed out there long enough, I would eventually get hypothermia and freeze to death. It wouldn’t make a mess. There wouldn’t be any blood. And, if I purposely got lost in the woods, there would be no way that my kids would find me. What’s more, if I got myself wet first, I would die more quickly.

I had a plan.

I lay in bed, staring at the designs on my curtains, thinking about my plan.

If I did it at night, I imagined laying down in the woods, gazing up at the stars, and then joining them.

If I did it during the day time, I pictured gazing up at a blue sky with a bald eagle flying overhead, closing my eyes, and just falling asleep.

It felt so peaceful, so serene. So doable.

February 2019

January came and went.

When my husband went back to work after our trip to Texas, he came home that first day with the most awful news: along with all the other employees at the company, his pay had been cut by 20%. The company was struggling financially and had to make cuts.

Without health insurance and with 20% less money coming in, how could I justify seeking more medical help? How could I justify going to the urologist or the gynecologist?

Lost, I did the only things I knew to do: I nourished my body as best as I could, but continued to lose weight because the anxiety made me so nauseous. I tried working here and there, but didn’t really accomplish anything. I felt myself becoming physically weaker.

Passing myself in a mirror, I would often stop and take a second look. Was that really me? Surely that wasn’t me.

There was no light left in my eyes. The bubbly, perky me was a memory. Staring back at me were dark eyes and a heavy countenance. The person in the mirror looked like she had a broken heart. And she did.

Her heart was broken because she grieved for herself, for who she was, for the vibrant life and health she had once enjoyed. I screamed, wept, and cried everyday for myself — not for the physical pain I was in, because it was actually starting to get better. 

I cried out for ME,

“Lindsey! Where are you? I know you’re in there somewhere. Please come back to me. Please, please, please!” 

But she wouldn’t come back. Instead, she stared at the designs on the curtains or walked aimlessly around the house, trying to push out the thoughts of freezing to death, but unable to do so.

I even tried getting help from my GP again. Since she wouldn’t prescribe me more Ativan anti-anxiety medication, I wanted to know my other options.

So, I started taking a non-benzo anti-anxiety medicine, Buspar, as well as Trintellix, an SSRI.

Though it would likely take weeks before I felt relief, I tried to hope and convince myself that I could hold on for a few more weeks until I felt in my right mind again. Remember, I’m determined as hell. If I could will myself to hold on until those drugs started to work, maybe I really could.

Finally, A Reason For The Urethra Spasms

On February 27th, I met with the urologist. I still believed I had interstitial cystitis or bladder cancer. I mean, how else could you explain these spasms that had lasted for over 3 months?

After some discussion, he was certain I did not have IC, nor was there any reason to suspect cancer. He looked over my CT scans with me, showed me the two kidney stones, and said everything else looked fine.

Then, he did a physical exam. Pressing on my bladder, he asked if there was any pain.

No pain.

Then, he pressed on my urethra.

I expected there to be pain or a spasm, but there was none.

Finally, he pressed to the right, on the muscles of my pelvic wall.

I nearly jumped off the table! It hurt so much.

“There’s your problem,” he calmly stated. “You have pelvic floor dysfunction. You need physical therapy.”

What? After all this? All this anxiety, all this worry? All this freaking waiting to see you? There’s NOTHING wrong with my bladder or urethra? I don’t have IC!? 

He explained that my pelvic floor muscles were constantly spasming, making it feel like my urethra was spasming, but it wasn’t. It was the muscles around my urethra. 

Pelvic floor dysfunction also accounted for the summertime stress incontinence I experienced earlier in 2018 when I had some seasonal allergies. Every time I had a sneezing fit, I peed my pants. And thought it was normal.

Unfortunately, however, the urologist wouldn’t speak to the pelvic congestion syndrome and encouraged me to keep my appointment with the gynecologist.

I walked out of his office, half relieved and half in disbelief. I truly had prepared myself for the worst, and this was almost the best possible news! 

Since I had no control over anything else, I decided to try consciously relaxing my pelvic floor muscles. It felt strange at first, but within 48 hours, the urethra spasms had nearly stopped. After just a week, I was having no spasms at all and continue to be spasm-free!

Next, The Gyno

After having four months to research pelvic congestion syndrome, I walked into the gynecologist’s office with confidence. I knew the terms and jargon, the possible treatments. I had read medical journal articles and studies.

To be honest, I think I knew as much as my gyno! She sees just three to four women per year with PCS!

However, she was very empathetic and apologized for how much pain and suffering I’d endured. She didn’t even pressure me when I told her I wasn’t interested in trying hormonal therapies. She said, “That’s totally fine. It’s your body. We’ll find something that works for you.”

That was a shocker. In a really good way. 🙂

I’ve had awful gyno experiences before, but this one was different. I just loved her. And she gave me some hope.

I left with a referral to an interventional radiologist — the type of doctor who specializes in vein issues like PCS.

woman in glasses and blue tye-died shirt with a cup of hot tea

But, My Mental Health Got Worse

I don’t know why I finally had answers and hope from both the urologist and the gynecologist, yet the anxiety and depression stayed.

There was light at the end of my tunnel. I knew there was. But by this point, my brain and body were in such a constant state of fight or flight and panic, that they wouldn’t calm down.

Still unable to function, work, sleep, or even eat, we called in reinforcements. My mother-in-law flew up right away to help.

David couldn’t miss any more work to nurse me through panic attacks, but he also couldn’t leave me alone with our kids during the day. Throughout all of this, protecting my children’s mental health was still my top priority. They were not going to be on suicide watch for their mother. NO WAY.

So, Becky, my amazing mother-in-law, came up and cared for my family. She cooked and cleaned. She helped reorganize a room in our basement. She made me snacks, went grocery shopping, took the kids skiing, and more.

Even when it was time for her to leave one week later, she could sense that I wasn’t ready, so she stayed an extra few days. Truly, no one could’ve done more.

But my mind was sick. Very, very sick.

I was stuck in a cycle of thoughts that I could not get out of, no matter how hard I tried. No matter how hard everyone prayed.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

My kids were attending their weekly youth night.

David, Becky, and I had just gone out to eat at a local restaurant.

When we came home, I became very depressed.

I cried inconsolably. I had cried like this many times before, yet something was different.

It was bitterly cold outside. My kids were gone. My mother-in-law was watching Netflix in her room with the door closed.

It was my perfect moment. I could walk out into the cold and it wouldn’t have to be a big thing. There would be no drama. I could simply slip outside.

I put on my snow boots, but purposely didn’t put on a coat or mittens or a hat, went out the front door and started walking toward the woods.

I had to climb over the huge snow banks where my husband had used our plow truck to clear the driveway. Then I climbed over the trampoline and started my trek into the forest.

The problem was that we had over 4 feet of snow and I’m only 5′ 5″ tall.

I was sinking in snow up to my thighs and could hardly move through it. It didn’t take long before David was outside, calling me to come back, to please turn around.

But I pushed on. If I could get far enough into the woods, the snow wouldn’t be as deep because of the cover of the trees. It was a perfectly clear, cold night. The stars were out. I could do this.

Yet, David called for me. He said he’d climb up and drag me out of the woods if that’s what it took.

I knew I wouldn’t win this one. I couldn’t keep going into the woods with the person I love most in this world watching me. 

Sobbing, wrecked, and weak, I turned around and pushed my way back down. I fell into my husband’s arms and he took me inside.

The next 72 hours were a constant panic attack. I took the Ativan that I had, but it didn’t work. I spoke with my EMDR therapist on the phone. I even talked to another therapist on the phone. Both of them urged me to see inpatient help.

Friends were telling us about in-patient treatment programs in our area, how to use the Doctor on Demand app, and more — doing everything they could to get me some help.

But I still wanted to die.

“Please help me,” I begged my husband. I looked deeply into that man’s soft and caring eyes and pleaded for it to end. This was not living. I was not me. I couldn’t do it anymore.

So, on Monday morning, March 11, I gave up. I surrendered any control I thought I still had. David drove me 65 miles to the hospital, and in the emergency room, I confessed to my suicidal thoughts and plan.

As soon as I had changed out of my clothes into the scrubs that all mental health patients are required to wear, every desire to end my life vanished.

I felt safe. I knew I would finally get help.

I’ll write more about my time in inpatient mental health later, but I’ll say this: I walked in a broken shell of the person I once was and walked out five days later ready to put the pieces back together again.

I now take medications that have calmed and quieted the dark thoughts I had before. I am on a road toward recovery for my PCS and have already started pelvic floor physical therapy.

There really is light at the end of my tunnel, and I can see it.

This past week, we celebrated the arrival of spring. I have gone on a walk every day that I’ve been out of the hospital and have such a newfound appreciation for the sun and warmth.

I’ve been openly sharing this journey on my Instagram stories — not for pity or sympathy, but because staying silent just wasn’t an option. 

And now, I share it here, in this space about all the nourishing things, I am nourishing my mental health and have lived to talk about it.

Without insurance, our medical bills are astronomical. But what price can I put on my life? On anyone’s life? 

A GoFundMe has been set up by some of my beautiful friends and blogging colleagues, and if you are in any way touched by my story, I humbly ask you to give something, anything. Every dollar helps.

More than anything, I am committed to raising more awareness about mental illness.

The “how did I get here?” and “what happened to me?” questions are still real. I still ask them.

Although I’ve had anxiety and depression before, they never felt quite like this, so they crept up on me until it was almost too late.

The pain of mental illness is not physical. Many people feel muscle aches and pains when they’re depressed, but not me. It was the soul pain that was the most unbearable. I could not endure that soul pain for another moment.

I was ready to give up, to end it all to relieve myself of that terrible soul pain.

And yet, I had just enough fight left to make one final plea for help.

woman in a kitchen holding her nikon camera

What will All The Nourishing Things look like from here on?

Will I still post recipes and make stuff in my Instant Pot?

Sure, I will. 🙂

But, there’s going to be a lot more talk about mental health on here, too. This is a huge part of my journey. There is an invisible line in my life that separates the Lindsey before from the Lindsey who now lives. I will never be able to go back across that line.

Today, that saddens me. But one day, it won’t. 

One day, I’ll know that in my weakest moment, I found the last bit of strength that I had left and it was enough.

I hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come. I’m scared to be so vulnerable, and yet, I have no other choice.

I’m also going to be sharing more about my recovery from pelvic floor dysfunction and PCS — because nourishing those things is a must, too.

Friends and long-time readers, I am thankful for each of you. For the emails and messages, for the prayers, for the financial support — I, we are ever so grateful and humbled to be part of your online community.

Once again, if you feel so led, you can donate here to help us cover my medical costs.

You are also encouraged to share my story on social media or pass it along in an email if you feel it might encourage someone who is struggling. The only thing I hope to gain out of this post is that the right people who need help will read it and possibly ask for the help I waited almost too long to ask for.

There is no health without mental health.

Pin this post!

woman wearing glasses and a navy blue shirt with text overlay

How do you take care of your mental health when you deal with physical health issues? Please share in the comments! You never know who you might help, including me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *