Hello, my lovelies! Thank you for being here because I have a super important, super exciting announcement to make. I am nominated for Blogger Of The Year at the MH Blog Awards this year! But there is a catch, I need your help! From now until June 4, you can go to the MH Blog Awards website and vote for Amber @ The Winter Of My Discontent for Blogger Of The Year! It’s a true honor to be nominated with some of the best MH content creators on the web and I can’t wait to find out the results. As always, thank you so much to all of you who do and have supported me. You all mean the world to me and you just keep pushing me to be better and to keep fighting the good fight. It means everything, truly and I hope that I have earned your vote over these months.
It’s a true honor to be nominated with some of the best MH content creators on the web and I can’t wait to find out the results. As always, thank you so much to all of you who do and have supported me. You all mean the world to me and you just keep pushing me to be better and to keep fighting the good fight. It means everything, truly and I hope that I have earned your vote over these months.
I’ve decided to republish the original posts from May 2020. I didn’t know about my disorders then. I just knew that I was tired of being pushed around and being hurt for something that I couldn’t control. I wanted to spread the word; to speak out to let others know that they aren’t alone.
Any notes from 2021 Amber will be highlighted in purple. This post was never published, but was started in May 2020 and finished in May 2021.
In 2014, I turned 32. I had been married for 3 years and my daughter had just turned 2. The last year of my marriage, however, had been difficult. There was constant fighting, anger, and cruelty between my husband and I; most of which I didn’t understand. He seemed angry and sullen a lot of the time and he tended to take those bad moods out on me. Things had gotten unbearable.
I would call my best friend and cry to her about my crumbling marriage. How had this happened? We had been so happy for so long. Granted, we had issues, but nothing more than your average couple with a new baby would go through. But this was something different. The animosity and the rage had appeared out of nowhere and was only getting worse as time went on.
As fall approached that year, I was distraught and unhappy. I didn’t know what to do or how to fix what was broken in my life. My mental health was starting to suffer, but I was still managing to somehow hold it together. I hadn’t been medicated in years, at that point, barring the few months I took antidepressants after I had my daughter to combat post-partum depression. More than that, though, my anxiety was through the roof.
At some point during my relationship, I had lost myself. My self-esteem in 2014 was at an all-time low and, to make matters worse, I had no idea who I was anymore; what I stood for or what I believed in. One thing was certain, I definitely didn’t believe in myself. I hadn’t written a word in years and I was always trying to find my way back to that part of me. I had no hobbies and I had become increasingly isolated from my friends and family who had helped me through so much.
Then, on October 2, 2014, tragedy struck my life like a bomb. After a particularly intense week of fighting, in which things escalated to a rather scary level, my husband and I had decided that the only way to save our marriage was to go through some kind of marriage counselling. The next morning, he got out of the shower and came to me abruptly and said, “If we’re going to fix this, we have to be honest with each other and I haven’t been honest with you. I cheated on you.”
My mouth dropped, “With who?” His answer would stun and shock me, though not surprise me altogether. A little over a year before that day, he had slept with my best friend. The person I had cried to over all these months. The person who had listened to me over and over try and figure out where my marriage had gone wrong. The two people that I loved and trusted the most had been harboring a huge secret from me and, now, here he was unloading their sins at my feet.
I can’t fully explain what happened in my brain that day. It broke. Any control that I had worked for, any semblance of sanity that I had worked to maintain…it cracked. I went into psychological shock, almost immediately. He had told me about 20 minutes before I logged in to work (I had been working from home since the beginning of that year) and, despite the fact that my life had just exploded in my face, I tried to make it through the whole day. In fact, I think I did make it through the entire workday. I was so out of my mind that it never occurred to me that it would be okay to take a day off while my life was aflame.
For most of the day, I just sat at my computer and wept. I hadn’t asked him to leave. I hadn’t even yelled. I just sat there and worked like it was any other day. My brain trying its best to process the news. Then…I dissociated. For 2 full weeks, I walked around feeling like I was watching my life happen from the outside. I was still going to work every day, still taking care of my child, and still functioning on the outside. The inside was a different story. I had completely checked out of my own brain.
My husband was ever more concerned about my calm demeanor. He couldn’t have possibly known what it actually meant…that they broke me with their indescretion. I didn’t rage, I didn’t kick him out, I couldn’t even find it in me to yell at him. My friend completely denied that it happened, even after I confronted them both at the same time. He stuck to his story, she stuck to hers. I begged her for the truth; told her that if she had ever cared about me, to give me the closure that I needed to process and move on. She couldn’t even give me that.
She took everything from me and then she didn’t even have the decency to apologize. I called her twice in the days after I found out. Both times, she took the cowardly route and lied through her teeth about that night. Since that second phone call, I haven’t spoken or heard from her in 7 years. I lost my best friend and my marriage on the same day.
The Worst Is Yet To Come
When I came out of my dissociative state, two weeks to the day after I found out, all I could feel was agony. I could feel some anger, but not the level that you would expect to feel after such a betrayal. Mostly, it just hurt. I didn’t know about any of my disorders then, it would be years of hell before I got a diagnosis and some real help. That didn’t stop the disorders from ravaging me. Intrusive thoughts berated my mind; constantly giving me mental images of them together. My heart broke as the realization started to slowly seep in; they did this to me willingly.
My marriage became ever more volatile. We fought all the time and were constantly threatening each other with leaving or separating. Finally, almost 6 months after I found out about the affair, I told my husband that I thought it was best if we went our own ways for a while. Two days later, he packed his things and he moved out. I was devastated that my marriage seemed to be coming to an end; all the dreams I had for us had died a violent death.
After he left, depression threatened to swallow me up. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I started having symptoms that I had never experienced before. I would take my daughter to school in the morning, call out of work, and then stay in bed until it was time to go get her, sleeping and crying. Part of me felt like giving in to it, letting it take me. The other part of me knew that I no longer had that luxury; I had a tiny human who was depending on me to be healthy for her.
I soon got back into therapy and got back on some medication and I was able to get back on my feet again, though I still wasn’t okay. Depression was like a low hum in the back of my mind, always with me. Always ruining any progress that I felt that I was making. Unfortunately, I had a run of sub-par therapists and talk therapy wasn’t helping me at all. At times, I felt like all I could do was talk and talk and talk about what had happened; how hurt I was, how broken I felt, and how stuck I started to feel.
So Much Loss
A few months after we separated, my little dog died. She was my constant companion for almost 15 years and the loss was enormous for me. She had saved my life on more than one occasion, just by giving me someone to love who wouldn’t hurt me. She was my best friend and I’ll never get over losing her the way I did. I stayed with her until the end and the image of what I saw as she took her last breaths was seared into my already suffering brain.
I lost friends during this time. People that I thought would be by my side until the end. I learned a hard lesson when facing the toughest challenge of my life. Not everyone is meant to be in your life for good. Sometimes, they are only there to teach you a lesson and, oh my, did I learn one. With the loss of friends and several others moving out of state, I found myself well and truly alone for the first time in my life, going through the hardest time I’d ever gone through.
I spiraled for several years that way. I was racked with visions of all the people in my life who had ever hurt me. The people in my childhood who hurt me and the ones that didn’t protect me when they should have. My husband. My friends. My job. I was ridden with angst, depression, and all of my illnesses combined. I begged for help from people who offered no hand. I kept going to therapy and taking the medicine they were giving me, but nothing helped. My life felt lost, stuck in a never-ending cycle of pain.
Some days I would spend hour on end, ruminating about all of it. I felt so alone and I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. My old safety net was gone; the people that I used to rely on in times of crisis either moved away or no longer willing to engage with me in any meaningful way. I had been self-isolating for years and the loss of all these people only made things worse. It no longer felt like a choice to be alone, I really was alone.
In February 2018, my beloved grandfather died after a short battle with cancer. I was dealing with issues at work that would eventually take such a toll on my mental health that I was afraid I would need to be hospitalized to get myself back on track. During this time, I was not in therapy and my medications were not working. I was barely hanging on by a thread. It felt like my whole world had blown apart and I would never be okay again.
Three years after our separation, 2 things happened. My husband and I reconciled, something I honestly never dreamed would happen, and I started seeing a new therapist…the amazing Dr. W, who would eventually change my life in ways that I could have never imagined. But the worst wasn’t over for me yet. My brain still had a few tricks up its sleeve before I would find a path that would lead me to growth and recovery.
My marriage was still rocky at the beginning of our reconciliation, but not in the same way that it was. I was very sick during this time, though I wasn’t letting on to many people, especially my husband. I was scared and certain that I was going to have to be hospitalized at some point, but I internalized it all. Only a select few people knew what was really going on inside of me. I wouldn’t know it for quite some time, but Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder were ravaging my mind.
Intrusive thoughts came in a barrage, almost daily. I was obsessed with certain lines of thinking and couldn’t make them stop, no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t taking care of myself physically or mentally. I was exhausted. I felt used up and lost; I couldn’t find my way back to anything resembling normal.
In 2019, I started back to therapy. I had decided that I no longer wanted to sit in her office and talk about the past; rehashing all of the things that had hurt me over the last few years. This time, I went in with one clear goal: to work on myself as a person. I was clearly unwell and I knew that I would never be able to get a handle on life until I changed myself. It was the first time in my life that I realized; I got myself through all of those years alone. I picked myself up and dusted myself off over and over. I was strong and capable, but I needed work. Lots and lots of work.
I started digging into my spirituality. I won’t go into here, but I have my own views on spirituality and what makes us all tick and I started diving deep into those beliefs; figuring out what I believed and how to make it a normal part of my life. The strength that I found in that research was astounding. I started to feel stronger and my mind started to clear. I was looking back on the last few years of my life and I was realizing that I had been mistreated by people that I loved during the time that I needed them the most. I got angry.
By the Spring of 2020, I had decided to start this blog and write about my tribulations and The Winter Of My Discontent was born. The last few posts that I’ve published were the product of that first shot at mental health blogging. It didn’t last long, but it left a fire inside of me. I knew that I wanted to advocate for change. I wanted to educate people in the hopes that no one else was left abused and alone in their time of need. I wanted to set the world on fire for everyone who was like me.
At the end of the summer, I finally got the courage to do something that I hadn’t done in 17 years of mental health medical care…I finally asked for a diagnosis again. The first time didn’t go so well. When I was 21, a doctor told me not to get “caught up” in a label and refused a diagnosis and I never asked another provider for that information. I had been seeing Dr. W for almost 2 years, by that point, and she readily agreed to give me an assessment. We both believed that she would be better equipped to help me if we knew exactly what was going on.
In September, I received the results; ADHD-I, OCD, C-PTSD, PDD, and GAD. I was still going through a lot, still sick in many ways, but this was the beginning of my path to recovery. Dr. W and I would immediately start assembling what I would come to think of as my dream team; a group of doctors that would work together, and with me, to get me to a better place. As Dr. R put the first time I met him, “You have been surviving and we want you thriving.” I no longer wanted to just exist…I wanted to live.
And Here We Are
That pretty much brings us to today. In the Fall of 2020, I hit a speed bump. OCD brought it’s intrusive thoughts and was telling me that I no longer wanted to exist; that everyone would be better off without me. It was the first time that I actually understood what was happening; knowledge that was afforded to me by my newfound diagnosis’ and all of the research I had done about them. That said, it didn’t make it any less distressing. I was burned out at work and my stress levels were through the roof. I was having severe anxiety for 12 hours a day, barely functioning.
That was when Dr. W decided that I needed to take some time off work. On December 1, 2020, I started a leave of absence. During that time, I have worked hard in extensive therapy, sometimes have 3-4 appointments a week. I have worked with a doctor to get on the right medications for me and we have 3 out of 4 of them stabilized. My OCD, anxiety, and PTSD are well in check and I am still working in EMDR therapy to heal the trauma I have gone through throughout my life. I still have days that feel like depression is creeping back in, but such is life with mental illness. It comes and it goes.
As of this week, I am officially in remission and in recovery. I can’t believe I even get to say that…recovery. Fifteen years ago, even 5 years ago, I would have never thought this was possible. I thought that mental illness would eat me up for the rest of my life. Sometimes I didn’t believe I would survive this long at all. But, here I am. My marriage is stable and we’ve worked hard to change and to be better to each other. I have friends now who love me for who I am, even if who I am is a little flakey and unstable at times. I have an excellent relationship with both my mom and my dad. I have a beautiful, smart, and funny 9-year-old who drives me crazy and makes my heart swell with pride.
Also, I have this blog and all of you. I can’t quantify what this community means to me. The feedback that I recieve from readers keeps me going, even on my darkest days. While I’m going back to my day job next week, my heart and my passion are here. I will keep writing and keep advocating; making my voice heard for all of the people who can’t use theirs yet. Fighting the good fight.
My story is filled with pain and anguish. I have lost so much and my heart has broken more times than it should be capable of. But, because of that, I am strong and kind. Filled with pain, but not over yet. Other people largely rewrote parts of my life, but I’m finally in control. The next chapters are mine and I will be the one that controls what happens next. My story is also filled with hope and success; there is help out there for us and we can get better.
For those of you who have followed through the entire From The Archives series, I thank you for sticking it out. I hope that my story helps you to feel less alone, but also to feel hopeful about your own recovery.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜
Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.