. . . Quietly Struggling . . .
It has been about 3 years since I had my mental health break down after the birth of my 4th where I drove myself to the behavior hospital. Those dark days helped me turn that pain into purpose. It launched me to a place where I created a company called My Wonder Woman Journal. I had something tangible with a call to action to help every woman find the inner Wonder Woman inside of them. I was speaking across the state, sharing my story, and teaching my 7 steps 3- sometimes 10 times a month. I was asked to be in the Utah BizQ magazine in the 40 Under 40. I had been on 14 podcast shows in 11 months. My business was taking off and everything was going really well! My relationships with my husband and children were better than ever.
God started to tell me to slow down, but of course I didn’t listen. I kept going because why would I slow down? The growth was fun. I got to the point that I was craving growth. I knew deep down more growth was coming, I could feel it. Instead of slowing down, I sped up because I thought I needed to work harder. I didn’t fully understand that growth sometimes begins as a trial or heart ache. I never thought He would take me back to those dark days that I worked so hard to get out of! He wouldn’t, he couldn’t. I was doing so good, and I have done so much personal work to never go back to that place again.
What I didn’t realize was that although I was on my path of purpose, God wanted me to continue to reach my full potential. He knew that there was more for me, and in order to learn what I need to learn, to be who I am meant to be, I had to endure more heart ache. I showed him how I turned pain into purpose before, I guess he wanted me to do it again. Like an arrow sometimes you need to be pulled back to fly forward.
I was getting so wrapped up in my personal growth that I lost site of what is most important to me. My husband and children. Triggers started happening left and right. Things that normally wouldn’t bother me were sending me off the edge. We found a 7 ½ inch cancerous tumor in my pelvis. The surgery and recovery was more traumatic than expected. My husband and I were fighting again, and I was dysregulating… bad. Rude behavior from extended family started up again. With deep dark dysregulation came suicidal ideation. Thoughts like, my family is better off without me. Thoughts I thought I would never experience again.
I don’t want to go too deep into this because it can be triggering to others and it is still pretty personal to me. All I am going to say is that the suicidal ideation went to suicidal thoughts that became reality pretty quickly and it was scary. I should have been back at the hospital several different times. It really shook our world…. again. Feeling like I was back to square one was very defeating. Feelings of “I am a fraud” flooded my mind.
. . . Embracing the Hard . .
My worried husband who was feeling defeated and desperate, started researching different options because at this point we had exhausted all other resources. He came to me one day and sat me down. He expressed that we couldn’t go on like this. He expressed his concern for me, our marriage and the welfare of our children. He began to explain about this amazing world-renowned treatment facility in Tucson Arizona called Sierra Tucson. He asked me about how I would I feel about leaving for 30 days and to check into their residential treatment center. He told me that he had already been in contact with them about our situation and they were eager to connect with me.
I paused and thought to myself is this what intervention looks like? I started to see that for the last few months I really had been fighting so hard for my life, to be happy, that everyone was walking on eggshells with me. I could see how I was starting to crumble. My first thought was what about our kids. His response was that the kids need a healthy mom. He also had been in touch with our nanny about hypothetical situations and that they have everything covered on the home front. My heart was thumping hard, out of fear, sadness, but also a sense of relief, that there is hope for my struggling. I was thinking that there might just be a way out of this. A little light of hope inside of me flickered alive. After many prayers and conversations, leaving felt like the best decision. It was hard to wrap my head around it all but the answer from God was clear. Go. The thought of leaving and missing all of the end of year extravaganzas with the kids was hard, but Scott was right. The kids need a healthy mom, and when I get home, it will be summer, and I can make up for all the lost time.
Trying to be ok with the “FOMO” and saying goodbye to my children knowing I wasn’t going to see them for 30 days broke my heart. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I was glad that Scott was flying to Arizona with me to drop me off. I was so scared, and I really wanted him by my side until the very last second. We spent the night in Tucson and first thing the next morning, we loaded the car and we were on our way to my home for the next 30 days. I walked up to the doors of Sierra Tucson with my two roller bags behind me. I gave Scott one last hug with tears streaming down both of our faces. I watched as his car disappeared, and I heard “McKenna, we are ready for you.” I turned around to see a sweet nurse with a kind compassionate demeaner took me back into a room to take my vitals, and blood work. They also went through all of my belongings to make sure I didn’t bring any items that are not allowed, like mirrors, or anything sharp. They even took my phone.
The first 24 hours I was kept in observation in actual behavior hospital. They wanted to assess me and make sure I was mentally ready for residential. That experience alone in itself will be its own blog post. Long story short, I was only allowed outside every 2 hours for 15 min, and all of the windows were barred up. It was hard emotionally. I felt like I was declining in there. It was really quiet, and somber. A lot of people were coming off a drugs and alcohol, and the energy in there was more than I could handle. I called Scott from the community phone sobbing begging me to make a call to get me out of there. He did and within 30 minutes they came and took me to my new room to begin my journey at residential.
Just like the hospital, residential will be its own blog post because there is so much to wright about. For now all I am going to say is that Sierra Tucson changed my life. The relationships I made, the treatment I was given, the education I gained, and the healing that took place there has forever changed me. That little hope that flickered when I arrived, was now beaming through my chest!
They even had Scott come for family week at the center. It’s basically a 4-day crash course educating and showing him all of the things that I have been doing and learning. I can honestly say it’s that week that saved our marriage. The communication skills we learned there has forever changed our relationship and our parenting. It wasn’t all cupcake and rainbows. It was a lot of leaning into pain, and shedding those layers of pain. The treatments there fully identified a lot of my traumas head on then rewired my brain that had been hardwired through childhood and trauma.
While I was there Scott got to meet all the doctors, nurses, and therapists that I had been working with. When we sat down with my individual therapist, she recommended that after I leave ST that I do a 30-day intensive outpatient program with a sister treatment facility near us. It’s basically committing to another month of treatment. I agreed and when I got home, I attended a place in Murray Utah called Recovery Ways. I attended Monday Wednesday Friday from 1:00-4:00 for 4 weeks. It was very similar to the process groups and classes I had at ST. The people there were amazing too and I am very grateful for that experience as well. It was easy to get caught up in life, and to think that I didn’t need to go but I felt it was important to finish the journey that I started with treatment.
The journey to taking care of my mental health is most definitely not over. It will never be over. It is important to take care of our brains. To listen to our hearts when they tell us to slow down, and to honor ourselves. To be open minded, and to have faith. I feel like God is now letting go of my arrow and I’m flying forward, even farther ahead than I was before. I have gone back to school so I can get my degree in social work. That way I can continue to help women with mental health with more of an impact.
. . . Healing Through Struggles . .
I have really dived in with continuing to write my book I have been wanting to write. I have set clear boundaries how I want to move forward with my business. I want to continue to grow it but to not lose sight of my mental health. I don’t want to lose focus on what is most important, my husband and children and to be the healthiest version of myself. I’ve learned that healing is not a linear process. Our journeys look more like a squiggly line. I’ve learned that a relapse isn’t failure, and it doesn’t erase your success. There will be peaks and valleys throughout life. The valleys don’t mean you are failing, it just means that you are ready to learn the next lesson that God has in store for you. I’m grateful for every single one dip I’ve had. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for all the love and support through all of this. I’m excited for what the future holds. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding my treatment journey, or if you need help finding resources for yourself or anyone you know. Remember seeking help is not a sign of weakness its strength.