After the whole “Xanax incident” Ty pretty much became the most important person in my life (and still is). I don’t mean that in a needy, clingy sort of way. I mean that sincerely. I knew I loved him (still do, very much so). He is my voice of reason, my best friend and most importantly someone I love and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
To put it politely, my first year of teaching sucked. I was a total hard ass in the classroom, trying to set a precedent that I was to be taken seriously and some people in the community were pretty quick to judge. That first semester included being barked at by a senior boy, having parents corner me and tell me I was not a very nice person, and waking up one morning to a house that was 47°. (My dog Blanche was legitimately lying on my feet, shivering. Needless to say, that house was a disaster. Example: my electric bill alone was $700+ one month).
All of those events aside, it became clearly evident to me that God did not just bring me to Larned to be a high school biology teacher and coach. He brought me out here because He knew Ty Josefiak was a pretty amazing fit for me. Teaching the rest of that fall semester was kind of a blur (coaching volleyball was a disaster, but that is a completely separate blog post itself). Then, November hit. Ty and I had been “officially” dating for a couple months. Earlier in the fall we had gone to the K-State/Auburn football game and officially started dating then. But I think you could say that we had pretty much been inseparable since the first time we hung out on July 14, 2014. I just could not shake the guy, HA! (Just kidding, in all honesty I’m sure there were times he might have regretted giving me his number – he was and still is, a fantastic listener. We would ride around for hours talking and he’d let me cry because I missed my family so much).
At the beginning of our relationship, it genuinely felt like a dream. We were both obsessed; spent all of our time together. Laughed, watched movies, drove around and drank beer…it really couldn’t have been any better. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is too good to be true.” Then, November came. The anxiety came flooding back like a tidal wave. The magnitude of what I thought I would be “sacrificing” if I decided to stay in western Kansas and get serious with Ty was slowly starting to eat me alive. I could not eat. I completely shut Ty out. When I say shut him out, I mean I did not text him, call him, meet him for supper…nothing. He has told me before that he honestly didn’t even know if he had a girlfriend for those 3 weeks or not.
It got so bad and I shut him out so much, that his mom, who I didn’t know very well at the time, asked if I was ok and if Ty and I were ok. It was tumultuous. Looking back now, I feel like a terrible person because I did not talk to Ty about what was bothering me; I just shut him out. I lost more weight and honestly did not know if I wanted to commit to Ty and living here my whole life. I knew that our relationship would be one of two things: break up and move back to northeast Kansas (which I KNEW in my heart I did NOT want to happen), OR I’d marry that boy and be a western Kansas farm wife my whole life. Typing that second one out now makes my face smile so big…but the thought back then of living in western Kansas for the rest of my life scared the shit out of me because I was so attached to my family back home.
I remember feeling so lost, so alone, so scared during those three weeks when I completely shut Ty out. I prayed a lot. I never contemplated ending my life again during that time, but I definitely leaned on the Good Lord. Ok, actually I really think it was one of those situations where the Good Lord actually carried me, like the Footprints saying – I did not lean on God, He carried me. It became clearly evident during those three weeks that I didn’t communicate with Ty, one thing was FOR certain – I didn’t want to live without Ty in my life. I didn’t want to give him up, didn’t want to live a life without him. I KNEW I wanted to be his wife. I KNEW, in my heart and after much thoughtful prayer that I wanted to have his babies, grow old with him, and spend the rest of my life with him. To quote Ty himself, “It’s time to grow up.” (He told me this on numerous occasions, and for good reason!)
The end of November came and finally one night Ty reached out and asked if this was over, or what in the world was going on. He came to my house in Larned. We legitimately sat and talked for hours. I cried (big surprise) and he listened. I told him I loved him more than anything, I was just really struggling with being so far away from my family. Looking back now, I should have been communicating with him from the very beginning, because the route I took was not healthy. Those three weeks honestly taught me that communication is a HUGE key to a successful relationship.
After that discussion, Ty and mine’s relationship continued to grow and flourish. We spent time together, went to church together, prayed together, and it became increasingly apparent that we were going to make this thing forever. One night in December, we were talking about a wedding and getting married. I kid you not; we picked out a wedding date (and reserved the church in Larned) before we were even engaged.
I remember one Thursday night; I called Ty and asked what he was up to. He told me he was in Lacrosse babysitting his nieces while his sister and her husband worked at the sale barn. Kind of random, I thought, but Ty is seriously one of the best uncles I had ever met, so I wasn’t surprised he went to go hang out with his nieces.
Come to find out, that stinker and his sister were actually in Hays picking out an engagement ring for me. He said he was sweating bullets that evening because he was worried I was going to randomly show up at his house to hang out and he would get home with my ring. I’m seriously smiling thinking about those fun memories.
On Friday, December 19 Pawnee Heights (the school where Ty coaches basketball) had a home basketball game. I went out to Rozel to watch Ty coach. I honestly thought that he was going to propose to me at the game, but he didn’t do it then. I knew it would happen sometime. I ended up going back to his house before the boys’ game was over that night because I thought I was getting the stomach bug. Looking back now, I think I thought he was going to propose, and I had a stomachache because he didn’t. So, in hilarious Ty fashion, he proposed to me the next morning in his bedroom. It wasn’t anything like what he had planned in his mind, but it was perfect and fit our relationship to a T. He told me after the fact that he wanted his nieces and nephews to hold signs to ask me, but was too excited and wanted me to be able to show off my ring at Christmas.
Christmas that year was fantastic. We started wedding planning; I actually got my wedding dress at a trunk show in Lincoln, Nebraska when we went home for Christmas that year. My DAD actually picked out my dress – when he originally pulled it off the rack, my initial reaction was “Oh my gosh Dad, no way.” Then I tried it on, started crying and knew my dad had picked out my wedding dress. (Fun fact: my Grandpa Skoch picked out my mom’s dress, too). Honestly, planning a wedding wasn’t as stressful as everyone said it would be, until my anxiety reared its ugly head again. I have always known when it’s going to come back. I get an unexplainable nagging feeling in my stomach. I struggle to concentrate, cannot eat, and even when I’m not thinking about what’s making me anxious, I have an overall feeling of dread that consumes me. I’ve gotten to know that feeling well over the years, but I know how to handle it so much better now than I did 5 years ago.
It was the middle of the spring semester; Ty and I were doing fantastic – wedding plans were underway, and life was good. BUT, like I have said in previous posts, spring is ALWAYS hard for me. It goes all the way back to my years in high school and the struggles I had with injuries, track, and broken dreams.
Around the middle of track season, I was actually contemplating checking myself in somewhere for a mental health evaluation. Teaching, coaching track, dealing with colleagues and the politics of being an educator, trying to plan a wedding and realizing I was going to be four hours from my family forever was wearing on me. Ty and I were living together by that time because, like I said before, my house in Larned was a joke and I broke my lease so I would not have to deal with all the ridiculous bills. I ended up missing three consecutive days of work one week. I was in bed ALL THREE DAYS. I didn’t turn the lights on. I didn’t watch TV. I didn’t pull the curtains back to let in any natural light. I legitimately laid in bed and either worried about things I couldn’t control, or I slept. I require a lot of sleep anyway, but I don’t know if I’ve ever slept so much in my life. I didn’t eat at all those three days, and I lost 15 pounds. Ty and I both were genuinely worried about my mental health.
Reliving that time, I never ACTUALLY thought about killing myself. I never contemplated Xanax or any other sort of action, I just couldn’t DO anything. The crazy part is, I could not pinpoint WHAT I was anxious and depressed about, but I know the outside factors of teaching, wedding planning, springtime, and planting season were all getting to me. I finally went back to work, and that’s when Ty and I decided that I needed to go to counseling once a week. I told Ty I needed to go somewhere and have an outlet; he agreed. I needed to have word vomit for an hour every week and see if I could have some sort of breakthrough to help me cope with the anxiety I had been dealing with.
I actually continued going to counseling through the birth of Nora, almost 16 months after I initially started in 2015. It helped me more than I can even begin to explain. I will elaborate on the multiple breakthroughs I had during my time there, but that will be a different post. It could easily be 4-5 more posts.
Going to weekly counseling, Ty’s unwavering support and personal prayer got me through the spring and early summer of 2015. My love for Ty never wavered during that time. He has been my rock throughout ALL of my mental health struggles. He might not understand it all, but he is always there to listen, and love. I tell people; sometimes he knows my mental state before I even realize it.
Finally, July 11, 2015 arrived, and it was one of the most beautiful days of my life. I adored the wedding dress that my dad picked out for me. Our bridal party looked amazing. My husband was beyond handsome. Our wedding mass with a dream – the priest who celebrated our wedding mass for us did an amazing job; such a good job, in fact, that people genuinely commented on how much they enjoyed the ceremony. It honestly was perfect. Of course there are the hilarious anecdotes now that went totally wrong (the meal was freaking terrible, the DJ was a joke and the bridal party may have enjoyed a little too much whiskey in the limo) but those memories make me laugh and made that day so, so special to Ty and me!
It just goes to show that if you have someone who loves you (spouse, sibling, mom, friend) who’s willing to listen and love you through even the darkest times, you can rise above any sort of mental illness you may be experiencing. I am so glad I spent multiple months in counseling. I learned so many coping techniques, had a few huge breakthroughs and I truly believe that the skills I learned helped me when I was blindsided by postpartum depression a year later.
More to come on that journey in my next few mental health blogs.