2005. My First Breakthrough.

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It’s been on my mind for a while to blog about what happened during the 1st breakthrough. I’ve no longer decided to call it a breakdown because to me there is a negative connotation in using the term “breakdown”.

Writing about my experiences has been a sort of therapy for me. Being able to write about my life and press “publish” is freeing. And of course my hope is always to use my experiences to normalize the struggles we face in life because if we don’t talk about them, then they continue to fester in shame and secrecy.

2005. I can’t believe it was 16 years ago. I had graduated from community college the year prior.

I suppose it was like the perfect storm.

I was primarily working for 2 residential agencies. Working erratic shifts, thinking my value was based on the amount on my paystub. Trying to “get ahead” and pay down my student loans. Trying to build my seniority. Trying to do it all.

I didn’t know that I could say “no”. I didn’t have to work myself into oblivion. I had only seen the puritan work ethic my whole life.

There was chronic anxiety and critical self talk in the background. I had started to recognize this. Baby steps.

Fear was the motivator. That I wouldn’t be enough. That I wouldn’t be “successful”.

I had just finished a night shift and spent the entire night at the hospital with a young boy who was suicidal. I still remember this name.

I got home from the shift and tried to sleep. I couldn’t. My heart was racing and it felt like it was going to beat out of my chest.

It quickly went downhill from there. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t sleep.

What the hell was going on? It was scary.

I couldn’t handle being around people. The mere thought of it and I would start crying.

When “you just need to relax” was so absolutely disconnected from what I was feeling inside my body.

In desperation, I called my family doctor who did a referral to a psychiatrist and prescribed me Ativan with specific instructions. Taking Ativan increased my anxiety. Tell someone with an anxiety disorder that the could become addicted to the medication they were supposed to take to calm down.

The Ativan helped to take the edge off at night, for which I was thankful for but not enough to actually sleep.

Thankfully, in 2005 it only took a couple of weeks to see a psychiatrist. I was prescribed Effexor. I remember being afraid to take it at the time but also being so desperate to feel better.

What if I didn’t get better? What would happen to me? The thought of not being able to sleep was maddening to me.

I also went to see a homeopathic doctor and was prescribed a number of supplements, tinctures and tea.

I was instructed to steadily increase my anti-depressant. And then it happened at 150mg after approximately 4 weeks of taking it.

I slept.

I was so exhausted, at this point I probably hadn’t slept for about 6 weeks. It was early morning and I was about to get ready for a workshop on mothers with mental illness. (I have no idea why I was even going looking back). In my exhaustion, I laid back down on my bed and feel asleep. I actually feel asleep.

As that night rolled around, the anxiety of having to fall asleep again kicked in but I slept. Night after night came and went and I was sleeping like a baby.

In fact, I had never slept so well in my entire life. I didn’t need the Ativan. The Effexor was doing its job and I am sure that the natural remedies were assisting me as well.

At the time, I remember thinking “holy shit, is what it’s like to NOT live with anxiety?” How wonderful. How amazing. How absolutely great I felt.

My psychiatrist said I was “cured”. Now, I don’t go that far with it but medication was one HUGE piece of the puzzle for me.

I was able to go back to work. I was able to laugh and enjoy and love life and the people I had in it.

I was able to get my undergraduate degree.

I was able to have a fairly healthy pregnancy.

I was able to respond to my baby’s needs.

My diagnosis doesn’t define me. It’s a small part of who I am, but it’s not who I am.

The longer I get on my journey, the more I appreciate that there is nothing wrong with me. I, like many other people are simply reacting to the society I live in and the way that I have been conditioned.

There are also patterns to be unlearned and traumas to be heard.

Anyone that knows the dark night of the soul and has been back to tell about it…I salute you.

And for anyone that hasn’t made it back…I wish you peace in this life or the next.

Karla xx

Eastern Healing vs. Western Medicine – No judgement either way.

I have been on my own healing journey for a number of years now.

In that time, I have been profoundly touched by the teachings of yoga, meditation and developing my own sense of spirituality separate from the dogma of Catholicism that deeply troubled me growing up.

Later, as I continued on my healing journey I came to appreciate the inter-connectedness of the universe but first I needed anti-depressant medication.

In 2005 when I first became sick, I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how deeply debilitating mental illness could be. I could not function and no amount of “snapping out of it” or talk therapy was going to work. I had a wonderful psychiatrist who prescribed me Effexor XR and to date, it has helped me save myself more than once.

Within about a month of taking Effexor, I noticed that my sleep had improved significantly. The anxiety that had plagued me my whole life was different. I felt better. Therapy had also helped me in combination with medication.

I didn’t find yoga until around 2016. I felt like I had found what my heart had been missing all along, me. I wanted to get to know this person. As I immersed myself more in the spiritual community the outcome was primarily positive until I encountered what I had felt in the religious community. Judgement.

Yoga meant so much to me, yet how could I stand to take anti-depressant medication that simply masked my symptoms? What about my thyroid medication? Was my body attacking itself?

The thing is, I live in this wonderful body that I get to call my own. I know what is helpful and what isn’t helpful. Instead of judging, try listening. Try compassion. Eastern healing is not better than western medicine. There is room for both.

I did learn however, that judgement doesn’t discriminate. Neither does love.

You are spiritual enough even if you eat meat. You are spiritual enough even if you take western medicine. You are spiritual enough even if the only yoga pose you know is downward dog.

You are spiritual enough because you are enough.

Karla