Laura, a mother of two and grade 5 teacher, was always hard on herself and didn’t know why it took her a lot of mental energy and work to do well in school compared to her peers. But after the birth of her second child just prior to the global pandemic, the pressures increased and she experienced a mental health crisis.
While attending a standard checkup and immunization appointment with her daughter, an attentive nurse recognized that Laura was struggling and referred her to receive additional support, first from the Early Childhood and Perinatal Mental Health Clinic, and then ultimately at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at Foothills Medical Centre.
From a very young age, Laura has been hard on herself, but it was once she and her husband had their second child, that things became exponentially more complicated.
Laura recalls the exact moment that her mental health started to take a turn for the worse. She was taking her daughter to a doctor’s appointment. She was meeting her husband there and she and the baby were running late. Since this was the first time at this clinic, Laura was navigating a new area of town, and had a very difficult time finding the building, parking, and finding the doctor’s office. Already stressed that she was late, Laura remembers feeling very frustrated and angry with herself and the situation as well as, guilty that the family was late, and upset that her daughter was witnessing her ‘lose her cool’.
When Laura walked into the doctor’s office, the nurse asked how she was doing, sensing that something was amiss. At first, Laura said she was fine, and didn’t need help but soon after, Laura changed her mind and accepted the support she was offered.
After a few appointments with a therapist, it was suspected that Laura might have ADHD, and was referred to the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. There, Laura spoke with Dr. Gagnon who diagnosed her with ADHD and anxiety.
When Laura’s maternity leave was over in September 2020, she returned to the classroom, which due to COVID, ended up being a rough transition as everyone worked to figure out how to make in-person teaching and learning safe for everyone. Every single task, from handing papers out, to sharing supplies, required additional steps, additional planning, and created additional stress.
“I was crashing and burning, but still standing. My kids needed me, my husband needed me, and as a teacher I had a heavy workload. I needed to be the good version of me, but I was sacrificing my sleep and self-care and putting myself last, which was my downfall ,” Laura recalled.
The final push that Laura needed to finally take the time to take care of herself and her family is still vividly etched in her mind. One day, Laura was called to speak with her son’s daycare teacher about his behaviour. As it turns out, her son was acting out, and by her son’s teacher’s accounts, it was clear to Laura that his bad behaviour was precisely mimicking her own impatience, stress, and anger.
“I left that meeting knowing that I needed to get better for my family and myself,” she remembered.
Laura took a few months off work to focus on herself and build a new, strong, foundation. She attended regular counselling sessions at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic, took webinars, started walking every morning and meditating.
“The support, skills, and frameworks I received at the clinic helped to provide clarity and answer questions I’ve had about myself throughout my whole life,” said Laura. “Learning about ADHD and strategies, has also equipped me with more knowledge and resources to support my students.”
“Thanks to the Women’s Mental Health Clinic and their staff, for the first time in my life I feel like I can work through challenges and come out whole on the other side. At the clinic, I was met with compassion, patience, and absolutely no judgement, which has allowed me to be ultimately more patient and compassionate towards myself,” reflects Laura.
In Calgary, The LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart™ Run for Women supports the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. Laura is looking forward to being a Team Captain at the 2022 Run for Women and supporting other women and their families who struggle with mental health in our community. To learn more about the Run for Women, click here!