Behind Jennifer's Mind
“How old were you when you remember first having these feelings?” was a question that began to cause notable physical tension in my shoulders. I was most recently asked this question by my psychotherapist during our bi-weekly appointment last Thursday. The first time I was asked this question was in October 2017 by my Nurse Practitioner as I broke down in her office begging for a medical note to take a stress leave at work and for the first time ever, opened up about my addiction. Addiction. That was a tough word to say out loud.
It isn’t so much the question itself, but rather, the answer to that question that is causing this great deal of physical tension. Back in 2017 my answer to this question was, “a few months”. However, the more I continue to understand myself, and dive deeper into past trauma and suppressed emotions the answer has transformed into, “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have these feelings”.
The earliest I can remember the overwhelming dark clouds and depressing thoughts that loomed over me was in grade 9. My parents’ divorce. My brothers and I were sat down at the kitchen table by our parents to talk. Communication was never a strong foundation in our family.
Flash forward to my worst experience with these dark clouds and depressing thoughts in 2017. Between the years of 2016 and 2017 I was searching for a deeper purpose in life, without even knowing what that meant. I had a great job, friends, family, and money in the bank; and still something was missing. It was an overwhelming feeling, this sensation that something was missing, and back then it seemed the only way to deal with it and fill that void was to get high or go out partying. So that’s what I did. I lived for my days off.
Long story short, it didn’t take long before I hit rock bottom. After more than a few breakdowns, I shook my head and knew I wanted way more than this life I was currently living.
When I asked for help from my Nurse Practitioner, I was given anti-depressants. I have been on and off them for a few years now. There was a time when the best I could do is shower each day...it seemed like such a simple task. But eventually, that shower turned into getting out for a walk, spending some time moving my body on my mat, enjoying quality time with my brother and sister-in-law, and weekly counselling sessions.
When I first started to take the medication prescribed to me, I thought I had solved all my life problems. I was naive, and I didn’t think about the amount of work I needed to put into my healing and better understanding myself. It was exhausting. Spending countless hours with my thoughts, having to make amends with people I still wanted in my life, and having difficult conversations with those who I knew I needed to cut ties with. I could write pages upon pages describing my roller coaster of healing, but I believe the most important thing to understand is how different this looks for each individual person.
Just when I thought I had fought all the battles with my mind, I suffered a minor concussion in the summer of 2019. This traumatic brain injury caused my depression to come back swinging.
And this time, it brought anxiety along for the ride. It was an overwhelming feeling when all of these emotions seemingly came out of nowhere, and they were so powerful to make matters even more challenging. However, I decided to approach the situation differently this time, immediately being open with those I lived and worked with to help them understand how I was feeling and what I needed during this tough time. It was one of those moments where I realized I wouldn’t change a thing about my past, because it has brought me to this great realization and where I am today. I had learned so much and came so far, that I was able to better help and support myself in a healthier, positive way this time around.
Presently, depression and anxiety are not terms that define me. Sometimes, I present with physical symptoms of an anxious mind. But I know the tools I possess, and professionals I continue to work with can help relieve some of those symptoms. Some days I don’t feel like doing much at all, and I choose not to, and that is okay.
I currently work with a psychotherapist to help me unpack suppressed emotion and trauma. I work with a homeopath and a naturopath to ensure I am functioning optimally daily. I receive energetic healing. I meditate and journal. I am mindful of what I put in my body. Most of all, I make sure to move my body. I teach and practice yoga. I love going for walks with my dog and being in nature. It's a sure way to move my energy around and put a smile on my face.
I would not be where I am today without the help and support of many people around me. Whether that be emotionally, physically, mentally, or financially. Some of these people are my closest friends and family, and some of these people I don’t speak to anymore. And that’s okay, not everyone is meant to be a part of your journey for the long haul, sometimes they are brought into your life to help you learn and grow, and then you each grow and venture down seperate paths.
Working to understand your mental health is not easy and the path to healing is not linear. It’s messy, exhausting, isolating, and a goddamn roller coaster. There is no finish line, no list of boxes to check off. However; the more I learn about myself and my mental health, the more confident and proud of myself I am.
You do not need to struggle in silence.