My Story: Mental Health Crisis (Part 1)

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Black and white close up of stoic-faced Laura Cragun

Hello My friends. It is great to be back. I took almost a whole year’s break from all things work-related to focus on my mental health and my family. I thought I would give you some context and share my story of what has been happening to me. I feel like I would not be truthful to the lessons if I did not share at least some of this story and jumped right into conversations about life and health. That just doesn’t sit well with me. I like to make it more focused on YOU with real connections, tools, and testimonies that will inspire you to change.

And… I also struggle to share the deeper sides of me. Some of you who have already seen me share some of my stories this whole past year on social media or just in our own heart-to-heart conversations in person, thank you for your support and love. I still think about our conversations often, and many of them have been a glimpse of hope for me on those days that I just didn’t want to go another step. You may say, “No Laura, you are brave and make it seem easy to share!” That my friend has been a lot of me just holding my breath and jumping out into deep water. It is still hard to share, EACH TIME. BUT, I choose to live a life that is full, rich, and connected to others. And that can not happen without sharing our hearts.

For anyone that takes the time to listen to a podcast like this, I can imagine you value wholeheartedness and vulnerability. I like to think that there is another woman on the other side of this audio listening and I want to know her just as much as she wants to know me. And I have so much I have learned about healing, love, health, and our loving Godhead that never abandoned me this whole time.

As mentioned in previous podcast episodes, I have mentioned my depression, anxiety, and self-actualization. I will be talking more about where I have been over these past several months, the lessons I learned, and what I plan on from here.

In the September of 2019, I was feeling so great. So I thought to myself, “Ok, maybe it is time to wean off my antidepressants.” I prayed about it and it felt right. I talked to my doctor and he helped me navigate that. I have done it before so I was hopeful that the transition would be smooth.

In November, once all the medication was out of my system, that was when I heard those voices that I had never heard before. The voices that I shouldn’t live anymore. Bursts of anger, panic attacks, and ransacking my house were not uncommon. I was so lost. I am in the thick of taking care of young kids, I had serious negative thought paradigms and traumas from my past that I had not resolved. My husband worked so much and we were having very difficult relationship problems. I decided to get more help again and go back on my medication. I was clearly not ready.

Then I had a wave of hope again. For a little while. Until the month of May. And by that point, I had already gone through 2 months of Covid and it was difficult. My husband is a firefighter and the fearful energy that came home from his fire shifts was hard. I had to homeschool and all my work stopped since many of my coaching clients felt like they needed to just wait and see where this all goes. And the world as a collective whole brought me a lot of fear and hopelessness for someone so sensitive as the empath that I am.

I knew I needed to try my best and kick things into High Gear. Covid and already susceptible to deep depression and suicidal thoughts? It FORCED me to be intentional. And I did my best.

But I STILL could not shake the thoughts and incessant depression. The thoughts were starting to take form. Not just not wanting to live. But now, let’s do something about it. Thinking about Throwing myself onto traffic, knives so that I could finally have a release, or maybe even pills. I was miserable and my mind felt so sick.

But One decision SAVED MY LIFE.

After going to my sweet 17-year-old cousin’s funeral almost 2 years ago after his suicide and seeing how much it was an absolute TRAGEDY to the family, I made my decision.

“If I ever get down that rabbit hole of suicide idealization, I WILL CALL FOR HELP.”

I have battled depression and anxiety on and off for almost 8 years, ever since I started having kids.

I am sure many of you hearing this understand how living life that way feels.

My heart goes out to you. And I think of you often. 💕

I NEVER thought I would get to that point. And of course, no one does…

There is too much on the line for me. I am a wife, mom of 3, daughter, sister to 5, friend, neighbor, etc…

Suicide does not discriminate.

Especially to someone like me who has tried EVERY. THING. Natural healers, medications, hypnotherapy, juicing, raw vegan, colonics. You name it. I was desperate and so was my family to get me better.

Because the hard fact of life (and in every circumstance!) is, “What if it DOESN’T get better?”

After a series of events in June, I found myself so mentally sick and at the bottom of that hole.

No light. Begging for a release.

But, I made that call I promised I would do before.

Called my mom.

Checked myself into the psych ward at the hospital for a few days to get on my feet.

It was in a scary place. Everything was sterile and bland so that there would be no chance for people’s thoughts to get creative. Some people there were difficult and I had to be roommates to them. All freedoms were taken away and I felt ashamed.

But it gave me a place to relax sometimes, to get new medication, and talk to a new AMAZING therapist.

They told me that the Zoloft that I was on for those 5 years had obviously stopped being effective. Taking a medication that long isn’t going to have any effect after that long. So, they switched me to Prozac.

I tried to be very gentle with myself when I got home but was determined to not let this incident define me. And in fact, it was a sign of strength to get help. I tried to have a whole life. Laugh every day, get sleep, watch all 3 parts of Back to the Future, meditation, snuggle my puppy, hikes, therapy, etc…

But I still battled that space between my ears every.single.day.

The medication was going to take 6 weeks to have a full effect but I was not feeling better by that point. It was actually more tiring from the side effects. It made me jittery and my hands would shake. That upper effect of the medication led me to have more anxiety and I would crash at the end of the day.

So in August, I had to try another and I was frustrated once again. But I had to keep trying. So I started to take Effexor and I was sent on another tailspin.

My Depression started to feel a little better as the weeks went on but I could not get over the side effect of having Nightmares every night. They were vicious and vivid. Losing kids, wars, criminals, you name it. I felt like I was having PTSD. Many nights I would put off going to bed because I didn’t want to go to “the movies” in my sleep. A drug like this would not help me in the long run. The most important thing for depression is sleep.

The doctor mentioned that this drug worked with another neurotransmitter, called norepinephrine, along with serotonin. Hence why It was giving me such a crazy side effect.

I prayed to know what to do next. I felt strongly that I wanted to do NO DRUGS for one month since I wanted to clear my system of all the ones before for a bit. And I was so tired of having all the side effects from before and didn’t want to chance it again yet. I needed a break.

I weaned off the medication as my Psychiatrist told me to. I became so sick. When I look back at this time, It was one of the lowest points. I was so physically sick from the withdrawals. I had the shakes, fever and I was so incredibly weak. It was my Gethsemane. Anyone who has gone through your own Gethsemane experience in all various degrees, I think you understand. Both my body and mind were completely sick and the only hope I had was God. During that time, I felt incredibly close to him. I felt like ministering angels and had very sacred experiences and blessings. I felt the Atonement actually take place. I HAD to rely on him.

It was only a week-long, thank goodness. I finally regained some strength. I took the month to relax (As much as I could do as a mother and keep up our home), lots of therapy, and evaluate how the no drug month was working for me. And yes, unfortunately, it was not going well. I would have almost daily breakdowns and my husband would have to come from his overnight shifts to help. It was not sustainable and I needed to be an adult once again and do something about it. At a neurological level, it had been 3 or so weeks since I had had any help with my serotonin levels. And it was showing.

Let me add something here. I am telling you the mile markers of how my story unfolds with depression. And just say that things are “hard”. Depression is like running through a muddy field. You can do it, but it is so much more difficult. Now, I also think of it like this. Each leg needs serious help and you are not going to start running on the dry ground unless you get BOTH feet cleaned up and moved to the smooth sidewalk instead. The remedy for one leg is the medication and physiological help, as I have talked a lot about so far. But the other is EQUALLY important. The mental constructs you tell yourself every day. Those thoughts have been deeply rooted over YEARS of experiences, upbringing, and traumas.

As I am going through my life depressed, I tell myself and assume things as if they are TRUTH. Let me tell you some of those lies in my head and even as far as to say, these Viruses that permeate the most important organ of my body.

My life is hopeless. I am just a daycare worker and no one cares to notice how I am feeling. Life will forever be diapers, sibling fights, and picking up clutter in circles around my house.

My parents abandoned me emotionally as a teenager. I had to take on way too much. I still don’t hear much from them. No wonder I can’t keep my marriage happy because I came from a broken home of divorced parents.

People don’t want to be around me. I can’t think clearly. I am not fun or funny. I am too serious.

I am going to be abandoned by Brady. He deserves someone better who is more functioning and can give him back a full, rewarding relationship. He will never think I am enough.

These are just a few examples of what happens in my mind. I have to battle this every day and reroute my mind that it isn’t true and seek out tools to help me such as self-compassion, meditation, and journaling. Then I also have to go to God and ask for him to take care of the rest and have faith that his Son’s Atonement is enough. I am Enough because He is Enough.

My husband, my team of doctors, and I had many conversations on what I should do next. One thing, I knew. This was not going to get better quickly. I needed time. I needed deep healing. I needed a sanctuary. The suicidal thoughts were coming back. We had to be more drastic in our measures in order to get a drastic result.

So we decided that I would go to a treatment facility aka Rehab. It was a difficult decision but I am so glad I did it. I will talk about it more in my next episode, part 2, along with more hardships involving my eating disorders. This is a long story since it covers many months of hardships. I am honored that you took the time to listen and hope that it will help you in any way.

I wanted to end here with just a few more words.

Thank you to ALL who have helped and supported my family and me.

You know who you are. Especially the wonderful women in my life.

I am crying as I write this. I don’t want to imagine where I would be without you.

I have come to know my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ deeper than I ever have before.

They love me. And I feel their love for you too. ❤️

So if you ever need help, PLEASE call. Me or someone else. Even if you think it is weird. I don’t even care!

Make that decision NOW.

You are L O V E D.

Intuitive Eating Breakthrough Session

You may feel overwhelmed about where to even start with your health or are stuck in some pretty deep habits. As a follower of Christ, you want to have the energy to serve others more but you feel held back by your current mindset of diet culture and mental health.

But as a fellow woman in this faith that truly understands the inner turmoil and a certified health and life coach, I can safely say there is hope. There is a way to break free, and with my free Intuitive Eating Breakthrough Session, I can help. With our Master Healer, the Intuitive Eating principles, and eternal gospel doctrine, there is a way.

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