I was recently contacted by Why the “F” Am I So Mental to do an combined blog posting. I am hoping this connects people with their blog and possibly my own to help to heal. We decided to do a a questions and answer. So with no further introduction:
What mental health illnesses have you been diagnosed with?
Now, this is a beautifully complicated one. I am fully diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, developmental trauma disorder which turned into trauma/stressor disorder as I went through maturation, depression, agoraphobia, extreme panic disorder, insomnia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. It is fun times.
In what ways have these illnesses changed your life?
Well, I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 12. I would say that it has changed many so many things in my life, yet it has remained the same in quite a few. It has taught me how to fight, to show humbleness, to seek help when it is needed, to talk about trauma even though it is hard to talk about, to love all but trust few, and above all to be compassionate to my own health; one cannot pour from an empty cup.
When did your symptoms first begin? Were there any triggers?
According to the studies of psychology, if we have a predisposition in our genes to have a mental affliction we are at a higher rate of having such a condition. When I was younger there was a trigger at 12 due to a sexual assault in the family. I am the one the person told, and it weighs me down continuously on a loop.
Are you prescribed medications? If so do you feel they are working?
I am on a multitude of anxiety relief medication, with SSRI. I must say that I was off medication for quite some time. Six months to be exact (and of course while I was pregnant). However, I was triggered by a very trusted friend whom knew my boundaries about sexual predators. She used the terminology “it was just pictures” while trying to justify why I should let go of this one boundary. I lost it, I mean I really lost it. Hospital, and no work for 2 weeks due to “unmanageable anxiety,”. Currently, the medication that I am on is helping. That is not a preemptive to say that medication is for everyone out there though. I do believe that medication should or could be a last resort.
What outlets do you have that help you control your symptoms?
I carry four journals: one is a gratitude and self-affirmation journal, one is dreams (I believe that dreaming is our subconscious purging and like to know what my subconscious is up to), a journal that I carry in my purse to go over the day step by step (I find this one very helpful during times of flashback as I treat myself as a case study while using it: “subject is showing signs of paranoia and extreme disconnect), and a weekly journal for my children and generation to come. I keep the weekly journal for the off chance that the kids will have a mental affliction like I do, and do not have to go mad trying to find the medical history of the family. I have my family tree written out on the front of it, and the beginning starts with all the known mental and physiological illnesses that they may be predestined to attain. I am a yoga instructor, and practice daily in my own home. We recently obtained a yoga trapeze which is a lot of core, upper body, and cardiovascular work. The item to take away from that last sentence: exercise. If you have an anxiety disorder your body is flooded by adrenaline and epinephrine, get it out of your body as it can cause more attacks and muscle cramping. I am an avid meditation saves brain cells believer. I read nonfiction books to create new neuro-transmitters in my brain to help the plasticity of my axons firing. The best way to keep building new brain cells and transmitters in our grey matter is to keep learning, so keep learning. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy. Enough said
Are you an advocate of Alternative Medicine and if so what practices have you tried?
I kind of went over this in the previous question. Biggest one is the therapy and exercise. I hear a lot of people say that they “cannot” meditate, yes you can, you are choosing not to. Take the 5 minutes you were going to use to look through your Facebook feed, and sit down with yourself. There are apps for your phone for guided meditation, and mindfulness meditation. Use that technology!
Do you think there will ever be a time when you are free from pharmaceuticals/ therapy and can live free from your illnesses?
The long and short answer: Yes, I believe that one day I will not need medication. That day is far off, but it is there. Once a person moves into adulthood, most people tend to let go of anxieties/fears/anger. I do not believe I will ever be free of my own therapeutic lifestyle, but not having to have an alarm go off each time it is time for medication will be very nice. I hate medication, it scares me. I see what it can and cannot do for people. Anytime they increase a benzodiazepine I shake with fear of what this one has in store for me.
How do you feel your blog will benefit others with similar problems?
I believe that, or rather hope that, it gives people a feeling of understanding. That they are not alone. I feel it is cathartic to write about what has happened to me, and how I handle my days. I hope that it brings a sense of community for us people with mental affliction.
Where do you see yourself in five years in terms of your mental health?
Well, in 5 years I will be moving into Master’s program of psychology. So, I see myself a bit stressed out. However, I have been knocked down so many times, and I am still standing. Let the future bring what it may, and I will handle it with my tribal family.
If there is any advice you could give others with similar issues, what would it be?
Do not just google your symptoms. I find a lot of good and bad that comes from the technology at our fingertips. If you are seriously suffering, seek out a competent psychiatrist. I hope you noticed the term competent. A lot of doctors want to throw pills at you, you’ll end up being a zombie. Look at their reviews online, watch their videos, do your research. If you are feeling the urge to self-harm and do not find the ability to speak text 741-741 to contact the crisis hotline.
Overall, in trying to transform your life, what have you learned about yourself?
I have learned that it is okay to let go of people no matter how much you love them if it is a toxic relationship. I have found strength in areas that I did not know that I contained. I have found peace with my decisions as a person in my life if it benefits my family and my own mental peace. I also found out that I am quite the secular Buddhist.
Any concluding thoughts?
Be you, find strength, build a support system, have healthy relationships, watch what you are putting into your body, pay attention to your behaviors so you can notice any that are not characteristic of yourself, and beyond all else: bring harm to none.
Thank you as always to my amazing counselor and life coach Jenn Bovee who’s blog you can find at wordpress. For further support on your journey, please feel free to reach out to me through my email, or by joining the Facebook group The Evolving Lotus.
Light up the Darkness,