Where to Turn When the Pain Just Doesn’t Let Up?
The Mental Health Crisis is finally getting the attention it deserves. However, the methods of treatment and relief can vary drastically. I’m grateful for science, technology, and medical discoveries because now we have more resources than ever to help those in need.
Statistics show that approximately forty percent of Americans do not receive any treatment for their mental disorders. These disorders may include but are not limited to: depressive disorders, anxiety, panic disorders, substance use disorders, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorders. And unfortunately, the stigma in many communities of people of color may cause some to delay or even refuse treatment. Some simply do not trust physicians, and others may fear being viewed as weak, crazy, or having something wrong with them.
I hope and believe that with more transparency, empathy, and compassion, people will feel more empowered to take better care of their whole selves - Mind, Body, and Spirit.
Giving it to God
Growing up in my household, I never heard the terms depression, anxiety, PTSD, or Insomnia. Instead, I heard terms or phrases such as aggravation, stressed out, or I’m tired, and when things were terrible, my mother would say something like, “I feel like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” And the remedy for all of those things was prayer and sometimes fasting. My mother never spoke of therapy, seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist, she didn’t know any doctors, but she knew God, so going to the Altar, calling a prayer line or playing Gospel music, and having a soul-cleansing cry was all that I knew for most of my life.
I am thankful to my mother for teaching me what she knew, as I still use her methods whenever I feel a mental shift or feel myself begin to become overwhelmed with all that life brings. Still, I am equally thankful that I have found other treatment methods and ways to find relief and healing.
Taking the First Step
There came a point in my life where I felt the need to seek treatment but asking for help was hard. I was afraid and ashamed to admit that I struggled, but my determination to feel better outweighed the shame. After much reluctance, I spoke with my primary care provider, and he referred me to a Psychiatrist. At my initial consultation, I was asked to describe some of the things that I was experiencing, and while still feeling ashamed, reluctant, and not fully trusting the doctor, I told him about (some of) my symptoms. At the end of the appointment, I left with a diagnosis of generalized anxiety and a prescription for medication. I followed the doctor’s orders and took the medicine as prescribed, but like many medications, the side effects were not ideal. After some trial and error, I was eventually prescribed a drug that had little to no adverse effects, but I felt that I needed more. I needed to talk to someone. I needed to get to the root cause of my issues. At a follow-up appointment with my primary care provider, I expressed my concerns, and he agreed that we should adjust my treatment plan and find a therapist.
Therapy Saved My Life
My therapy journey has been just that - a journey. Finding the right therapist is not easy. It may take some time; it may take a few tries, but finding the right one is worth it! I now have a therapist that understands me, listens to me, challenges me, supports me, and pushes me to be my best self. Through different treatment methods, especially Cognitive Processing Therapy, I have and will continue to heal from childhood traumas, PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I will likely deal with these things for the rest of my life, but that is okay because I have the tools and resources to change thought patterns and behaviors.
I have breathing exercises that are effective at calming my anxiety. As soon as I feel my mood shift, I know what to do to get back on track. I understand what my triggers are, how to avoid them, and how to deal with them when I’m unable to avoid them. I know how to hit the reset button and refocus when needed. Because I was willing to dig deep, face my fears, be open to talking, and Do The Work, I am stronger, happier, and healthier than I have ever been. I love myself Fully. My Soul is Happy. I can dream, pursue my dreams, and encourage others. Therapy is not easy; It Is Hard! But it is worth it. Therapy Saved My Life!
Nature's Healing Touch
Thank God for Mother Nature! Did you know that nature can heal? Walking or hiking through parks, forests, and trails can improve your physical well-being, but when struggling with depression, as hard as it is to get out of bed sometimes, if you can muster up the strength to simply step outside into the sunlight, you will likely feel better. If you can push yourself a little further and take a short walk, the vitamin D (Sunshine Vitamin) provided by the sun can help regulate your mood and improve your symptoms and quiet ruminating thoughts. Sitting near or staring at a waterfall or stream can elicit feelings of awe, which can lead to generosity and lessen feelings of selfishness or entitlement. Nature reduces feelings of stress, anger, and fear and increases pleasant feelings.
Rhodiola is an herb that may help your body adapt to stressful situations. Zinc and Saffron can help boost your mood and relieve depression. Cannabinoids can improve mood, anxiety, sleep, and much more. Nature provides remedies to treat many mental health issues, and I have used natural remedies as alternative therapies to traditional prescription medications that my doctor may describe. However, I still have them if I need them.
I am on the mend. Healing feels good. Relief feels great! If you or someone you know struggles with mental health issues, I encourage you (and would love for you to encourage others) to seek help. If you have a primary care physician that you trust, I recommend that you start there. If not, check out the links below to find a therapist or treatment center near you and hopefully one within your budget or insurance network. For my fellow veterans, please call your local Vet Center. The resources are there, and you earned them. For those who may not have health insurance, several apps can help with mental health issues, and mother nature is a fantastic resource. Go for a walk, go to the beach, talk to someone you trust. You Deserve to BE WELL!
Find a Therapist: www.psychologytoday.com
For Veterans: www.vetcenter.va.gov
Mental Heath Apps: