Last month was tough. I am writing about it today because more than anything, I want to always have it as a reminder to myself of where I was, what I went through, and what I’ve learned. I had a medical scare, that more likely than anything caused a hormonal imbalance, but for many reasons put me in a state of depression. As someone who is in remission from PTSD with suicide ideation, a flare up like this can be devastating. All the symptoms from my past PTSD came marching in, with flashing signs, waving taunting flags and threatening to shoot an army— an army of emotions. I always believe I will die when I have a flare up, and for good reasons.
I’ve lived with suicide ideation for most of my life, and anyone who’s read my memoir knows why. It’s understandable and I no longer feel shame about it. But I do feel all those familiar feelings of self-loathing, being unwanted/unlovable and can become suicidal when I have a flare up. My flare ups are much shorter than they were when I first began to recover, but I imagine that they will always be possible.
The reason I believe in mental health services, therapy and themes around wellness and healing is because of exactly how I recovered from this most recent flare up. I got out of the dark hole so much faster than I ever have. And that’s because of everything I learned to fight the symptoms and the illness all together. I immediately upped therapy sessions, which led to a huge breakthrough that unveiled an emotional blind spot, which was that my health scare triggered the grief I am still processing from the death of one my closest friends and confidant. I also went into my emotional wellness toolbox which reminded me that when I am crying a lot and sad, it means I need more TLC. It’s as simple as that, emotions are signals, not threats. So, I got extra TLC. I called my loved ones and I let them know my needs. Because of the work I put in when I am happy, those relationships were already established—ready and available for me because I have been there for them and wholeheartedly worked on them.
During my flare up, I told myself I was unlovable, unworthy of love, and all alone. I convinced myself that the people I knew loved me only loved me because they got stuck with me. I almost went down that path and all too familiar wiring in my brain that led to my suicide attempts from over a decade ago—the one that says they are better off without me—the world is better off without me. I gave up on my dreams (for like a day) and stopped believing in love (for like two seconds). Years ago, I would have been in that place for months, if not years, believing that all my work to heal was in vain. Now that I am recovered from the flare up (the medical issue and hormone imbalance resolved itself and I am practicing all my wellness skills), I am back to believing in my dreams and working towards them. I am back to not just knowing I am loved, but feeling it too. I am back to loving me. I’m picking up right where I left all and all the work I have done is still right there. This flare up has been a beautiful reminder that all of the hard work is utterly and completely worth it.
This experience is even more supporting evidence of everything I have learned about mental and emotional health and why advocating for it is my life’s work. It’s so real, and if you work the science of it, the reality of it, the art of it, mental and emotional wellness is possible! I was one of the sickest individuals I have ever met and I know if I can get this much better, there is hope for so many others. I am back on track and realize now how much I am my own patient, my own research observation… my own muse. Now… back to work.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
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