by Kayla Myers, Family Peer Supporter
May 23, 2023
Mental Health Awareness month, what a beautiful way to bring awareness to a very important topic. Growing up I considered mental health to be very extreme mental health disorders. For example, depression/suicide, substance abuse/addiction, or diagnosis/personality disorders. Also, feeling statements that were commonly heard and used were simply happy, mad, and sad. Mental health is so much more complex than the ones I listed. I now believe those are the extremes, because mental health hasn’t/hadn’t ever been addressed. Navigating something within ourselves, without the knowledge and words, leads to a recipe for disaster.
When I went off to college, I would randomly have these very intense panic attacks. My heart would start racing, I would shake, I became flighty, and my thoughts were very reactive and panicked. They consumed my entire body and brain when they happened. One of the scariest feelings I have ever experienced. I basically felt as if I was going to die each time. I did go to a primary care visit after being in urgent care, started a medication, hated how I felt even more, and quit taking them. When I became a mom, anxiety was just something I regularly felt. It still was untreated until I had my second son. I basically buried the skeletons of my trauma way down deep inside. And when you do that, your body doesn’t forget. It makes you “deal” with it in other forms. Hence, my panic attacks and anxiety.
I have later in life been diagnosed with anxiety, ADHD, and C-PTSD. I have been in talk therapy since 2017 and recently started the process of EMDR therapy. After my ADHD diagnosis, and I started a treatment of care, my anxiety and depression subsided. I still feel it at times, but it isn’t an everyday feeling I have. And while I knew I am a survivor of childhood and adult trauma, I still felt like I didn’t have it that bad. Once I got my C-PTSD diagnosis, I felt more validated in my emotions and experiences than ever. Silly how a word can do that for us, huh?
I share my story today in hopes that it can reach one person that has experienced any of these symptoms and is still searching for answers. I am not an expert on mental health in any shape or form, but I am an expert on my experiences, how I felt, and the things I would have changed. Today I can say, I am extremely proud of my progress and strength. I have done the work, will continue to, and I show up for myself because I deserve to live in the present. I hope you know that you can too. Slowly I am putting an end to the cycles and defense mechanisms I picked up along the way to survive. Forgiving people, I never thought I could, and acknowledge the parts I have played in my own trauma. I am learning to trust myself again and to feel strength in what I say and believe. I can say, now I love the person I see in the mirror, and I will never let her down again. I’m worth it.
If you are struggling even in the slightest, I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust. I know it isn’t easy, but I promise you, untreated mental health is far worse in the long wrong. Because, in my opinion, when your brain is “sick”, your physical health will be affected detrimentally. Admitting that you aren’t ok is heroic in my book. You are worth it.