Health care professional can suffer from mental illnesses too, and I stand proud to announce that I am one of them.
Don’t ever be afraid to share your story!
Where do I even begin?
In my teens, I was treated as an outcast; I was bullied and made to feel small and unimportant. The kids judged me before they even took the time to get to know me. They said and did hurtful things that still sting to this day. Shouting crude comments, teasing, taunting, harassing, pointing, whispering, eye-rolling, laughing, criticizing, or they left me in silence with no one to turn to, no one to talk to. I was easily rejected because people didn’t want to associate with me. When I did make friends, they weren’t the type of friends that you wanted. They were the type to subject you to the world of drugs and alcohol.
Life became risky, and I became rebellious. I gave little avail to how I was hindering my life and future.
I didn’t care because for once, I was finally feeling something besides hopelessness, fear, and sadness.
FORTUNETALY, a light bulb went off in my brain towards the ending of high school and I made it a goal to at least obtain my High School Diploma.
It was those younger days, when I felt what actual depression felt like. It was sometimes an internal battle of wanting to stay alive and wanting to end all the suffering.
Once high school was over, I entered into a state of equilibrium and it has only been disrupted if triggered by specific incidents, such as a breakup, death, failed friendship, major life change, etc. This state of equilibrium only lasted for a few years, and then as I entered my young adult life, I suffered from constant low-grade depression, with the occasional relapse into Major Depression.
In nursing school, I suffered from debilitating panic attacks. There was nothing worse than feeling like the world was closing in on you; my hands would begin to tremble; my heart would begin to race. My heart would beat so strongly that I was certain that it was going to explode or just stop from extreme exhaustion. My breathing would quicken and my hands would begin to tingle. I would feel like I was breathing but yet no air was getting into my lungs. the lump in my throat made it difficult to swallow. I was more afraid of having another panic attack then of death itself.
Once nursing school finished, so did the panic attacks…. Go figure! Actually, I think they ended up transitioning into generalized anxiety and eventually I was diagnosed with this disorder. At the height of my anxiety driven moments, I remember feeling constantly on-edge, irritable, and constantly worrying about every thought that came into my head. I would make big deals out of minuet things, things the average person would shrug their shoulders too and forget about in the next second. Everything seemed like a BIG DEAL. And god forbid something ever had to change in my daily routine. It felt like it was the end of the world in most cases. I was fixated on an unfixable schedule. My anxiety ended up getting so bad that it prevented me from attending social gatherings, or even hanging out with friends for that matter. The very thought of having to go to a social event made me want to vomit.
My moods kept cycling between anxiety and depression, but eventually I had enough and decided to reach out for help. I had hit my absolute lowest point in depression and knew I needed help. Lying on the couch, not eating or showering for weeks was a sure sign I was giving up. I needed help!
I pulled myself into my doctor’s office, she knew right away what the problem was when I opened my mouth to speak and all that would come out was a flood of tears.
I was immediately started on an antidepressant, referred to psychiatry, and put on a medical leave of absence for work (which lasted a month and a half).
Something very interesting happened when I was put on the antidepressant, I became activated.
My mood drastically improved. I had an abundance of energy, but my anxiety had returned with vengeance. This was the start of my journey with Bipolar Type 2.
It all started to finally make sense.
My overdriven capacity for change, flood of ideas and tasks, over indulged and hyper focus on new projects, irritability, impulsivity, and the late nights and early mornings. I would get lost in my own thinking. When I had an idea, it had to be done NOW. The lack of impulse control led to purchasing cosmetic procedures and spa treatments, a whole whack of pink stuff, my dog, my vehicle, way too many dresses and books, and a bedroom makeover. I am sure there are more examples, but I think you get the point.
I was started on anti-psychotics, which only made me feel like a zombie.
I do admit, the medications did help to stabilize my mood. I stayed in a neutral state, but I was determined to do it on my own, without chemical medications.
Now please note, I am not discouraging medications by any means. There are many people that require to be on medication for a lifetime and that is perfectly okay. You have to do what is right for YOUR BODY and BRAIN. Before deciding to go off your medication, please consult your doctor first. And NEVER go off of them without tapering the dosage down. Stopping psych-medications abruptly can (and almost always does) result in NASTY side effect, commonly known as withdrawal effects. [Trust me, I learnt the hard way, don’t make the same mistake I did]
My decision to stop taking chemical medication led me to embark on a holistic journey to overcome my own mental health challenges a natural way.
I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME TIPS I HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY THAT I HAVE USED TO MANAGE MY ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.
- Educate yourself (about your disorder)
- Eat a healthy, Well Balanced Diet
- Get active, get fit
- Get enough sleep
- Natural Remedies
- Practice Mindfulness
- Pick up a hobby
- Lean on your Support Network
- Establish a Daily routine
- Indulge in Self-Help Books
- Clear your mind with Journaling
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy, self-guided
- Consider a Coach or Counselor
- When in a crisis, seek professional help (ie. doctor or psychiatrist).
- And so much more.
Having gone through what I went through with my mental health and having to navigate the health care system by myself, was exhausting, if not frustrating, to say the least. It was a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I am not going to say it will be easy for you either, but with the help of a coach (like myself), they can direct you and go through the process with you.
You are not alone.
I can now say, without a doubt, that I am feeling my absolute best. I feel healthy, both mind and body. I feel mentally strong, and empowered by my own self-determination. I feel calm, content, and happy. I feel like I can accomplish any obstacle that comes my way. I have learned to become more aware of myself so I can recognize when “warning” signs or triggers are present. I am able to prevent a relapse from taking hold. I have discovered more about myself and what my body and mind need to stay in a state of equilibrium. I have learned to love myself whole heartedly.
And I learned all this through self-discovery.
I smile again.
And so can you!
~ Rachel Page