“Be kind to yourself” were the words the counsellor said to me after about an hour of talking to her. I had spent the past week or so in bed for the most part. I slept through life because my heart was hurting and so did my body.
I have been treated for anxiety and depression since I was a young teenager. I received my first prescription for anti-depressants at age 14. At that age, I was too young and frightened to be honest about where those feelings were coming from. Knowing that my mother suffered from mental health issues, the doctor at the time diagnosed me with hereditary depression and began treating me as such.
Later on, when I was in my early 20s, I knew there was more to it. I had developed irrational fears, hyper sensitivity to normal situations and severe social anxiety. All of this was compounded by horrible violent negative self-talk. After having a meltdown where I didn’t sleep for 3 days and could not stop crying, I sought help. There I was diagnosed not with depression but with generalized anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The intrusive and repetitive negative thoughts that I was having were attributed to being an high “O” OCD sufferer. My inability to let go of things that I found hurtful or didn’t understand was also attributed to this. My fears were attributed to anxiety about anything and everything. My medications were changed and I went through cycles of health and darkness.
Now I am 29, I am reaching the point of my journey where I just cannot carry on like this. I made an appointment to see a counsellor at my university. Today we walked through past traumas, my diagnoses, what I’ve done and not done and how it plays out in my life. At the end of the talk, there were two major break throughs.
First, I am not kind to myself. I have compassion for others who are suffering and even allow generous space for them to work through and process all they are feeling and going through.
When it comes to my own pain, my own stress, I minimize, criticize and humiliate myself for not being, saying, or doing enough.
I should myself into despair and become immobilized. Or I lash out at people who are experiencing what I long to have and withdraw completely. So my homework for the next to week is to practice showing myself compassion when I am in pain.
Second, I have had a lot of trauma. My symptoms are pointing to a misdiagnosis. Rather than depression, OCD and anxiety, the counsellor is treating me for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from childhood and life-long trauma. We went over the various things that can cause a child to have PTSD (never mind that my mother struggles with this and is getting a lot better with the right diagnosis). Every single item on the list is something that I have experienced ad nauseum. Something as simple as multiple medical tests and surgeries can cause PTSD in a child, especially if occurring before age 3…which is my first memory of surgery–with many more to follow.
All of this to say that help is out there, you don’t have to go through the mess alone. If something doesn’t feel right with your healthcare professionals–say something. Make sure you give them all the information, even if it feels uncomfortable and shameful, they are there to help you. Don’t spend 15 years or worse muddling through when you can start being free now.
Just one PTSD kid to another.