You Are Not Alone
“I am not like these people.” I thought looking around my therapy group. “You will not see me 10 years from now still suffering from depression and OCD like these people.”
It was that day in 2001 I decided to get better. I fired my psychologist and tapered off my meds. I went on with my life symptom-free.
Well sort of.
Looking back now I can see that I wasn’t. Sure, the depression had lifted and I was no longer obsessing. But I was being triggered into states of anxiety without knowing it because I was so accustomed to being in and out of the physiology that comes with hyper-arousal of one’s nervous system.
In 2007, I experienced traumatic shock when I woke up to the room spinning. After a few days of medical investigation, the only explanation I had was my sudden case of vertigo was related to my paranormal experience involving a vortex the night before.
I found this incomprehensible. I was terrified of this explanation. I was terrified of my mind.
I had a nervous breakdown.
“Why” can be such a dangerous question.
Looking for the cure
For a year and a half I worked with alternative practitioners to treat my mental state. I wanted a cure and spent all my time looking for one.
My symptoms worsened: erratic blood pressure and blood sugar, circulation problems, severe tension in my upper body, a sensation like I was floating, constant dizziness, heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat, vertigo spells, muscle inflammation, fatigue, hyper-sensitivity, hyper-vigilance, sensory overload, panic attacks… I think I missed a bunch.
You get the idea.
I had constant terror; I believed I was dying, I was convinced I couldn’t handle uncertainty, I feared the slightest change, I thought God was punishing me. I became an extreme people pleaser to those who I was dependent on for love, security, and/or my health.
Eventually I became psychotic and depressed.
It was at this time I went back to the allopathic medical system and began seeing a psychiatrist.
I was diagnosed with Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
I believed she was wrong.
From mid-2008 to the end of 2011 I focused on recovering from the mental health issues that were easy to label: anxiety, depression and psychosis.
I made the most headway with practicing self-love and compassion and gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life. Doing things I loved like drawing and being in nature were also key.
I also started a blog called Mental Health Talk which helped me to overcome my own stigma towards mental illness. I was meeting the most wonderful people and for the first time in a very long time, I felt like I belonged.
I had found my tribe.
It wasn’t until the end of 2011 when I was working on my disability application that I had my first insight into my diagnosis: my spontaneous visions of my death and my dreams that always ended in everything spinning were PTSD flashbacks!
In May 2012 I looked up PTSD for the first time and I felt relief. All of my remaining symptoms were listed under C-PTSD.
My psychiatrist was so right on!
Since then, the more people I meet and the more I learn about PTSD, the more my mental health issues since 1999 makes sense to me. Hearing that someone has had a similar experience is so powerful to me; for connection and self-acceptance.
It’s to find the courage to share my experience, especially verbally, which is the challenge. I am trying.
I once heard a wise woman say it is at the point we think we are different from each other in our humanity that we lose our compassion.
I wish for you much compassion. You deserve to feel connected. You are not alone.
Trish Hurtubise is the Founder and Editor of the web site Mental Health Talk; an eclectic collection of stories and wisdom from people who experience mental health issues. Please stop by if you are experiencing mental health challenges as it is Trish’s intention you leave the site feeling better understood and connected to a courageous tribe.