What goal did you set out to achieve? I was placed on a full time leave of absence for two months to recover from a severe episode of anxiety and depression. My goal was to be able to return to work.
What barriers did you run into while pursuing your goal? I find my job gives me a great deal of purpose but at the same time I was in such a slump that there was no way I could perform my job duties. There were a few weeks that I questioned whether or not I would get better. Due to a medication change, my symptoms actually got worse before they got better. My care team helped me through counseling and medication changes and a few weeks into that process I questioned whether I would ever get better and be able to work again and my doctors would tell me that they weren’t ready to start talking about that and that there were other paths we could take before that would happen. They were right. It took time and a slow transition back to work but I made it.
What helped you achieve your goal? Through this experience my one constant in my life was group fitness classes at DAHLC. It was the single thing I looked forward to each day. I knew that for about 60 minutes I would feel better.
What would you tell or encourage someone with who is in your old shoes and doesn’t know where to start? I think most people know that exercise helps improve mental health. I am not sure everyone realizes the extra things that are provided in a group class. The following aspects of group fitness helped me as much as any part of my treatment plan: Inspirational messages and quotes shared, the push to get you to work harder and to your limit, being with others at a time I felt so incredibly alone, and laughter and smiles. The Group Fitness instructors and fellow members inspired me and still do. It is an amazing benefit of being a member of the DAHLC.
How does the future look different than it did before? I have a new way of looking at life challenges. My favorite statement is: “If it is not going to matter in 5 years, do not spend more than 5 minutes being upset about it”. I am very lucky to have a very supportive work unit. They allow me the time to make it to DAHLC classes, allowing me time to re-set during the mid-day. If the morning happens to not be going so great, typically my afternoon is better. They made it very easy for me to get back to full time hours.
Thank you for sharing your story, Amy. The more we talk about mental health issues, the more it removes the stigma.