My life was spiralling out of control. Every part of my physical being was prepping me for the ‘you are about to hit bottom’. I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t sleep, my mind was racing 24/7, anxiety and depression was taking over and I remember thinking.”. but it’s springtime, surely I am going to start to feel better?” “Come on Alenka, you are strong, you can do this”. I had a hard time staying connected with my husband. My job required that I travel a lot, and I was gone for 4 or 5 days at a time. When I was home, I felt like a zombie and could barely articulate how I was feeling because all I did was cry or tell him how scared I was. I disassociated myself from family and friends and remember thinking “what is going to happen to me?” “How can I make this terrible pain in the pit of my stomach go away?”
I had it all…. well that’s how it appeared to everyone else. A successful career with a national company- the first woman ever in that company to hold the position I was in. Great husband, lovely home, cute dog, fancy car, disposable income at my fingertips. Guess what? Inside I was literally dying and using the last bit of energy I did have to fake it.
The pressure I put on myself to do a super job, to make all my employees happy, to exceed the company’s goals, and of course, to try and accomplish it all in a certain timeframe. I was pushing myself so that I could achieve perfection.
Perfection is the culprit, the expectation to do better, be better; ‘if I am perfect then I can’t be judged negatively’ and most of all I have not FAILED or let people down.
On May 29th, 2011 the universe had different plans for me and set me on a path to a new beginning. The best way to describe what happened to me that day was - I crashed and I burned.
I was bawling my eyes out hysterically, in front of my husband and my mom and ranting “I can’t do this anymore” over and over again. It was at that point that they helped me determine I needed to step away from work. My body and my mind had had enough and couldn’t sustain my behavioural patterns any longer. I reflect on this day a lot, for I am GRATEFUL that it happened. Don’t get me wrong, the following 3-4 months were extremely painful; filled with a lot of fear and uncertainty. I began to realize that the old me was slowly dissolving, making room for the re-birth of who I am now. This realization took a lot of self-work, help from a few professionals and tons of love and encouragement from my family. To this day I am dedicated to personal growth and development and work hard at living for ‘the now’.
Is there anything I could have done to prevent this from happening? I used to ask myself that regularly. Could I have gone to my boss to tell him I was struggling? New me certainly would, not the old me because I lacked the confidence to tell it like it was and didn’t think I was safe to do so. Could I have asked for help as opposed to thinking I could do everything myself? I have now learned to become an awesome delegator. Could I have made it a goal to make sure I carved out personal time for myself; to exercise, meditate, read and to do the things I loved to do, instead of being a workaholic? Why was I afraid of disappointing and failing everyone? I know now that so much of my feelings, the ‘what if’s’ were in my head. Too much cerebral thinking, concocting all these different scenarios that lead to the debilitating fear and the resulting anxiety and depression.
Yes, I am one of the stats, you hear about, related to mental illness. It is not a fun place to be and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
My hope as I share my story is that it may help one of you. I hope it helps you realize, you are not alone, there are people that can help you. Don’t be afraid, we are more alike than we are different. Can you make some subtle shifts in your everyday reality to prevent an abrupt change? Can you reach out to a friend, or a professional for help? Have you let the people you trust the most know something is not right? Or are you on a similar road that I was on, which is totally ok because I can tell you most sincerely- IT WILL GET BETTER.
Alenka Manners speaks about her life altering experience to groups of women and is not ashamed to be an example to other women that IT Will Get Better. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband Doug, and is the owner and founder of
Life Made Easier www.lifemadeeasier.ca