Tracy Mayfield is a retired nurse, an author and a podcaster. She is also an active educator and advocate for Mental Health awareness and Stop Bullying. After coping and fighting workplace bullying and depression, Tracy now uses her experience and her journey to educate and encourage others to take on a recovery journey and fight any battle which comes one’s way.
I am Tracey Maxfield, retired nurse, and author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole: my journey through depression.
In August 2015, after enduring years of workplace bullying and harassment, I experienced a major depressive episode, and ‘fell down the rabbit hole’. This was my third episode of depression but was the worst episode I had ever experienced. I had constant thoughts about suicide, I attempted suicide on more than one occasion, and somehow, every time, I was saved by a voice, seemingly from nowhere, that said, “run” and I did! My journey to escape the rabbit hole of darkness, despair and utter hopelessness was long, painful, and oh so very difficult. However, it was also a time of self discovery and an opportunity to be mindful and to express gratitude for what is truly important in life.
After my book was published, I was invited to speak to students about writing a book. However, when I began talking, the students seemed disinterested. I asked them what was wrong, and they responded, ‘we heard about you, you’re the lady who escaped the rabbit hole and we want to know how you did it.”
At the end of the afternoon, 63 students had confided in me. That was the moment everything changed for me. I realised if I had such a difficult time escaping my rabbit hole, then imagine what it is like for children/teenagers. After researching bullying, suicide and mental illness in kids, I was horrified at the findings and decided to be their voice, a voice of hope, of compassion and understanding, a voice to raise awareness, a voice to advocate for change, a voice to educate, support and empower children and teenagers who are living with a mental illness, have suicidal thoughts and/or being bullied
What helped me cope
Keeping a journal, following my self care plan, writing a letter and creating a blog helped me to keep moving forward and pushing through the depression. There is no secret recipe, no one particular thing that I did that saved me, it was a combination of several things: medications, doctor, psychologist, keeping a routine, and lifestyle choices. It certainly was not easy, and I hope I will never, ever have to go through anything like that ever again. However, I do feel very strongly, that if I had not followed my daily routine, then I would not be here, right now, writing this.
A Message for Others
I encourage you to do what works for you, but make no mistake: you must do something. After those first two weeks of intense catastrophic sadness and darkness and pain, if you do not begin to take that first step to reclaim your life and plan your escape from the rabbit hole, then you never will. The darkness and the intense sadness and the negative thoughts will take over, and you will surrender out of sheer exhaustion and emotional fatigue. I won and I was alone, completely alone. I did not think I could do it; others told me to keep going, keep going, keep going, and so ultimately, I had to make a decision. Do I fight the war or surrender?
There is no middle ground, no waking up and everything is better, no single medication that will wipe it all away. Depression is real; when it is your reality, your life, your battle to fight. The question you must ask yourself is, “Do I want to win this war?” I choose to fight; yes, I came close to surrendering many times, but I got back up and I kept going. I know I have not won the entire war, but I have won more than a few battles; and right now, I am okay with that. My journey through depression will continue, and I will take it one day at a time, one battle at a time, because I know I can get through this.
“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.”
– Christopher Reeve