Reasons for mental collapse while balancing work and life

“Maybe it’s time for fighters to be fought, owners to be detained, and lovers to be loved.” ~not sure

When my little boy chewed me, I was breastfeeding. The bite set the stage for a deeper understanding than I could have imagined.

I unlatch him, hand him over to my husband and get into my car. As I was driving, I began to lose sensation in my limbs. My eyesight began to blur and my breathing became faster and shallower. He was scared because he didn’t intend to go home. I begged for the power to be able to safely pull to the side of the road.

I was about a mile away from home, and that mile felt like eternity. My eyesight continued to blur and my whole body began to tingle.

When I got home, the miracle wasn’t lost and I couldn’t shake this horror. I couldn’t leave it alone. I was worried that I would die if I was alone.

I couldn’t adjust this. Why are you afraid to live so badly and end your life at the same time? What an interesting and scary place you are! It’s a place where you can no longer trust yourself to stay safe and alive.

What I had in my car was a panic attack, and what I felt at home was suicidal ideation.

My sister and brother-in-law drove to Southern California at midnight to stay with me and insisted that I ask for help the next morning. I was incredibly reluctant because I had a huge project at work and didn’t want to disappoint the team. They didn’t care.

The next day, I went to see a doctor and went to a mental illness treatment center. I reluctantly admitted that I participated in the hospitalization program.

I had to take medical leave just three weeks after returning to work from maternity leave. I was very afraid of how it would affect my career. What do people think? Does your boss resent me? Can you be promoted? This was really a life or death choice, but it was still one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I was afraid of the result.

Reluctantly, the treatment wasn’t just about mental health support. I also got a healthy perspective and clarity. This wasn’t just about postpartum anxiety. It was trying to balance work and life and remove myself from the mix. Not only that, it wasn’t worth the time on my own.

I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore. I became everything for everyone and there was no space for me. I felt empty and defeated. I replaced all my last parts to play the role prescribed for women of my age.

This was a shocking perception as I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I spent most of my life keenly aware of the loss of identity that mothers often face when they give birth. I didn’t want a child for that exact reason. That part changed when I met my partner, but I was completely obsessed with making sure I didn’t lose myself in the process.

It’s strange how it works. You can be keenly aware of what you don’t want in your life and still tap in the midst of the exact situation you vowed to never happen to you.

When considering the balance between work and life, I always thought of making sure that I was manifesting myself as a career woman and mother in the most balanced way possible. But where was the room for me in it? Where did my needs and desires come from?

After treatment, I started working with a life coach in addition to continuing mental health care (it’s important to note that life coaches are not medical professionals). Working with my coach allowed me to integrate much of myself into my day and reconnect to my needs and desires.

I was embraced, supported and cared for. And it allowed me to take care of myself and feel it was worth taking more space in my life.

I took the time to reaffirm who I was before becoming a parent and put that version of myself in the fold.

I have created a list of non-negotiable things to do in my daily life. For example, I go for a walk every day. Whatever happens. Movement is a literal lifesaver for my mental health. It doesn’t matter what’s happening at home. It’s happening. And I do it without feeling guilty!

I also keep a diary on the bedside. Every night, before putting your head on the pillow, write down what you got “correctly” that day. It’s very easy to focus on all the ways I came up with that day. For me, my mind is negative by default, so having to come up with a list of at least three ways that have emerged for myself is a powerful way to end positive thoughts.

Do you think we can always do everything? Absolutely not. I think the balance between work and life is a bit misunderstanding. I don’t think work, life and self-care can be evenly divided. One always outperforms the other, even if there is a slight difference.

But what we can do is do our best to meet our needs and desires. By doing so, we can appear in each aspect of our lives as genuinely as possible. If you can maintain grounding, you can continue to exist completely. And for me, being completely is a balance.

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