On June 9, 2013, Emma Carey went skydiving in the Swiss Alps and fell 14,000ft to the ground.
After her instructor’s parachute failed, the 25-year-old suffered multiple broken bones and an incomplete spinal cord injury. She was told she’d spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
It’s not uncommon for people who live through such a traumatic event to struggle with their mental health. But not Em.
In an interview with Mamamia, the Sydney woman who learnt to walk again went as far as to say it was the best thing that ever happened to her. It was the wake up call she needed to really enjoy life and see it as the gift it is.
That’s why when she started experiencing symptoms of depression a few months ago, it didn’t make sense to her. Even though she’s a walking paraplegic and doesn’t have the full use of her legs, Em is more active than most – she surfs, skates, hikes and swims.
“I’ve been sleeping in till midday, forcing myself to get out of bed and still feel tired the entire day. I haven’t had the energy or drive to do ANYTHING,” the artist wrote in an Instagram post to her 145K followers.
“People keep asking me if I’ve cut my hair way shorter but the truth is my hair has just been falling out. My face is pale and my skin is always dry and flakey.
“It got to the point where I thought that without a doubt I must be depressed. It felt a lot like how I used to feel six years ago and I was so scared that I was losing my happy self.”
As well as calling a mental health professional, Em booked in with her GP “just to check” everything was OK. It turns out, the answers she was looking for were written in her blood test results.
“I had barely any iron or B12 in me. I went to see a haematologist and he told me every single one of my symptoms is quite common in people with iron this low… even the signs of anxiety and depression,” she said.
“I’ve been getting B12 injections weekly and yesterday I had an iron transfusion. After having just a few of the B12 shots, I noticed a HUGE difference.”
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are more common in women over 60, but can affect men and women of all ages. Known as the “energy vitamin”, vitamin B12 helps regulate the nervous system, and helps with the formation of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
Not feeling like yourself? These are the most common deficiencies women can suffer from. Post continues after video.
B12 deficiency symptoms include balance issues, mental confusion, pins and needles in extremities, fatigue, mental impairment, depression, irritability, personality changes, feeling faint, ringing in the ears, sore red tongue, mouth ulcers, vision problems and even signs of dementia.
After her initial treatment, Em says she’s beginning to feel like her normal self again.
“I was happier, I had more energy, I wasn’t sleeping in and I could work out again. The haematologist said it’s insane the difference people notice in their life when their iron levels are normalised”
“Obviously this is just my personal experience and isn’t always going to be the answer. Please don’t take this as me saying I’ve found a simple cure for depression or as me discounting the need for psychologists… just sharing my situation incase it can help someone else.”
This is one woman’s experience and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. If you are concerned about your health, please visit your GP or specialist.
Have you ever struggled with your iron or B12 levels? How did it affect your life?