Submitted Date 01/25/2020

I have made a decision to become a fierce warrior in breaking the stigma(s) surrounding the issues of mental health. I began with my first article for 2020 on the subject of the stigma(s) and how and why they persistently exist. Going forward I will be writing about depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder. I have also dedicated myself to imparting one uplifting and inspiring message every day on my Instagram account referencing mental health. I want to do something positive as well as informative with my writing. Because mental health in the past became such a huge elephant in the room of my own life, I feel the need to reach out to others who are either currently struggling with mental health issues or maybe have in the past. Just to be clear, I am by no means an expert, I have no degree or credentials. I will be speaking strictly from my own experiences and reaching out to others for their knowledge and inspiration for material as well as doing research on the various subject matters. For the last year and a half, I have been attending weekly talk therapy sessions. So to begin I will start where it all began for me, which was trauma. I have experienced several sexual assaults in the past as well as rape, teenage pregnancy, and abortion. These past traumatic experiences were basically hidden in plain sight as part of my psyche for decades.

There are basically three types of trauma:

Acute Trauma: Results from a single, isolated incident

Chronic Trauma: Repeated and prolonged, such as domestic violence or abuse

Complex Trauma: Exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature

My personal experience was the third, complex trauma. Over time, I developed a great deal of internalized shame and extreme emotional anguish over the various incidents. I suffered off and on from depression as well as PTSD to a certain degree. My sexual identity took a tremendously negative hit from it. It has taken me almost my entire adult life to finally arrive at a place where I could say out loud that I needed help in order to heal from all of it. Because I wanted the life I was creating for myself in the midst of all of that had happened to me and then continued to happen, I kept pushing it all down and never properly mentally processed any of it in a healthy way. After each incident was over I kept saying the same thing to myself. There was no sense in bringing it up all of the time to anyone else. I feared I would lose the people closest to me if I showed them how much I was suffering. I thought talking about it would actually make it worse than it was, definitely not any better. I didn't trust myself, much less the people closest to me. So I didn't speak. THIS was where I went terribly wrong with all of it. Not talking about any of it in the aftermath, not bringing it up in an attempt to get out all of the pent up rages, fears, resentments, and anguish over them in order to heal left me with indelible emotional scars that I will undoubtedly have for the rest of my life. But the one thing I learned through therapy is that those scars do NOT define who I am now. And up until the time I sought out a good therapist I was allowing that to occur. I was thinking and defining myself as a "victim", not as a "survivor".

Emotional trauma can sometimes have a detrimental effect on our physical bodies too. For some, it can be linked to chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. However, on the flip side of that, just because a person goes through emotional trauma doesn't necessarily mean they will present physical health problems such as these. Other things like your positive life experiences and support from family and friends as well as your gene pool will factor into this. The only diagnosed physical health problems I have experienced over the years related to my trauma other than having mild depression from time to time and only occasional PTSD episodes were one isolated incident of an anxiety attack and a nasty bout with hives for several months. Considering everything I went through emotionally, I feel very fortunate not to have had much worse as far as physical ailments. But I believe this is where my family and friends come into play. I think if I had been totally alone during all of these horrible circumstances I'm not sure I would have made it out of the abject hell that they were. I was loved and cared for before and after all of them. Many people are not as fortunate as I was/am. And I know in my heart that all of them loving me through it and having my back was how I managed to stay somewhat sane. And I know I wasn't always easy to live with or the best of friends. I was terribly moody and irritable so much of the time. I remember slamming a lot of doors and crying myself to sleep many, many times.

No matter what type of trauma is experienced it is very important and essential for a person to understand that their symptoms come from somewhere and treatments are available to discover how they can manifest themselves. Suffering in silence and letting more and more time pass you by waiting to suddenly "feel better" is not the answer. Never ignore how you feel. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. And remember, medication isn't always needed. There are so many wonderful holistic approaches to mental health and wellness. I am a great advocate of meditation as one way to help. Don't allow any doctor to talk you into pharmaceuticals unless it is a more serious psychosis situation that absolutely warrants it. I could have had an opportunity at a specific point in my therapy to start taking an anti-depressant. But I am so glad I didn't opt-in. I think in so many incidences people immediately go for that pill as an easy way to feel better sooner rather than later. Because we live in such a "right now" society. No one thinks they have time to heal, but the fact is, healing takes time. Sometimes a LIFETIME. Emotional healing means doing the hard work. It means putting in the time and being open and willing to bleed, metaphorically speaking. One message is very clear. Your emotional health and wellbeing are vital. And when the mind and the body are in balance there is peace like non-other.

In need of mental health services?? Mental Health Assistance: 1-877-704-8081. It's FREE and confidential.

Reach out. Either for yourself or for someone you love....



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