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

What inspires me?

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Knowing my people have walked this earth before me…and survived,

The sound of rain,

A big, bright sun, shining down on ME,

A cool breeze blowing through my hair,

The sound of the ocean and sand in my feet,

Trees taking root and withstanding the storm,

Beating the odds and triumphing,

Beating the odds and still struggling,

Being human,

Books,

Learned wisdom,

Ideas, passion and creativity,

Women,

Social justice endeavors,

Seeing the world through the eyes of a child,

Laughter,

The vastness of the universe,

(And how lucky am I to be a part of it?!)

And most important of all….

The Meaning of Life.

What inspires you? I would love to hear.

Karla xo

How do I….heal? Part 1.

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Simple question, complex answer.

Wanting a quick fix in today’s urgency culture, in addition to wanting to avoid our own discomforting emotions and situations is common and completely normal.

We all experience life. In a world where social media is increasingly prominent it is sometimes difficult to discern what is real and what isn’t. Let’s be really clear about this – no one is devoid of suffering. It’s part of the human condition. Equally true – no one is devoid of a loving nature. It’s also part of the human condition.

If this is speaking to you in any way, shape or form…keep reading. If you don’t want to read another one of Karla’s rambling blogs…stop here. The choice is yours but that won’t stop me from writing…

As I continue on my own journey as a human with all sorts of roles and responsibilities, and baggage there are a few things that I have learned as I reflect back.

It can take time, but it can be done. Several years ago, I remember feeling defeated and telling a co-worker, that there was no point in continuing therapy. I had learned all I needed to know and I was done. (What I was really feeling was stuck). My amazing co-worker (who was also working on her own healing) gently asked me “isn’t healing a life-long process?” Fair point. Obvious, yet when we are stuck in our own crap sometimes it’s hard to see out of it. And back to my first point of wanting a quick fix. It has literally taken me years to move past something that I thought was blueprinted.

Sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards but all in all moving forwards. We all make mistakes. Sometimes it takes a lot of mistakes. Keep going.

Therapy or counselling of some sort is helpful. (Even for those who have a background in it). As conscious of our biases and triggers that we think we are, having an objective source can be so valuable! Even now, I still have “a-ha” moments with my therapist.

Make sure it’s the right fit. Earlier on in my journey I had seen a counsellor for the 1st time and she told me I would never be able to go back to school; that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I was pissed at the time and she was wrong. Instead of knowing that she wasn’t an “expert” I felt bad about myself and this isn’t helpful in the healing process.

Don’t let any counsellor or therapist tell you they are an “expert”…especially in regard to your life. If they do, move on. Peace out homie.

Find a counsellor/therapist/helper that has done some of their own inner work and are open enough to share it. You don’t need to know the specifics of their journey but for me, it has helped immensely with relatability and connection. If they give you a common line about maintaining professional boundaries, appreciate that but also know that if they can’t acknowledge they have their own dirty laundry, you might want to re-think where you are spending hundreds of dollars for YOUR healing. Just saying.

I initially planned on only writing one post about this but it’s not getting finished tonight.

A part of my healing is also…sleep. More to come….

Namaste

Karla xo

On Friendship

“Friendship is the purest love”

Osho

Can you imagine living life without one of the simplest joys? Friendship. I have been grateful to have a few wonderful friends, whom I know I can pick up the phone at anytime and call.

The good ones are the ones that know the gut busting laughter, the ugly cry, and the inside jokes. The phobias, the messy house and the need for a blanket, a tea and good book. You can always feed me too.

As humans our need for connection is part of what makes life so wonderful and is intrinsically woven into our need for survival. And yet there can be so much that gets lost in translation.

In my life there have been friendships lost and friendships that no matter the distance or the time, we pick up right where we left off. These are the best.

Take note of the friendships that not only hold space for you but the ones that also celebrate your successes. True friendship should want the other to fly as high as they can go but be willing to give you a reality check and bring you back down to the ground when needed.

It’s a mutual give and take that not every friendship can withstand. To the friends in my life, that make my world a better place; I hope I do the same for you. And I hope that everyone reading this has at least one good friend.

You don’t want to leave home without one.

Karla