I struggled with my mental health for years but didn’t think I had a problem. I was riding an emotional rollercoaster for so long, I accepted these high and low states as part of who I was. I labeled myself as being a sensitive person. Emotions flooded my brain in certain situations while I floundered about trying self-regulate.
After my housemate nudged me (many times) to seek help, so I started seeing a psychologist. I was 28 at the time. He diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Well, shit.” I thought.
I was 6 months from finishing my college degree. (Which entailed working with disadvantaged teenagers/children.) This meant I would also be working in my first full-time job. I had about 18 years’ worth of trauma to deal with. My psychologist wanted to help piece me back together.
It would take some time to sift through.
The Unhealed Parts of Myself
My first job out of college was working with children who had experienced trauma. Most of them had a diagnosis of autism, attention deficit disorder. I remember my teacher in college told my class that if we didn’t deal with our issues, our line of work would bring them to the surface.
She was right.
Working with traumatized children 5 days a week was like working with my own inner child. I had only ever worked short-term casual jobs before that. I didn’t know the extent of how it would play out working full-time.
I felt that life was showing me unhealed parts of myself, in different ways, until I overcame these issues.
I was 3 months into my new job and 9 months into therapy at this point. I had developed a better understanding of myself. But managing my emotions was still challenging at times. I felt anxious about going to work most days and irritable on weekends. I found myself becoming reliant on my therapist whenever I had an emotional crisis.
He called me out on it. I realized I had a pattern of making last-minute bookings if I felt like I couldn’t handle certain things on my own. That’s when I realized I became reliant on him and wasn’t standing on my own two feet. I knew I was capable of handling situations on my own, but relying on someone else felt safer and easier.
So what did I do?
Stopped therapy not long after that. I felt I was holding myself back by going at this point. Relying on him wasn’t doing me any favors. I used the tools and skills I learned from him to take healing into my own hands.
Moving Beyond Mental health help to responsibility
I thought I wasn’t going to be fine without having my psychologist there to help me. That wasn’t the case. There were days where I would struggle, but I felt determined to change. I was done using my mental illness as a way to avoid responsibility. I felt like a victim, not an empowered woman.
“You experience the world not as it is, but as you are.” — Frederick Dodson
I stopped telling myself that I had PTSD and started telling myself a new story. I was a confident, emotionally stable woman who was comfortable expressing her feelings. I put my focus on who I wanted to become, rather than that which was keeping me down.
I also did the following:
Read psychology/self-help books to release emotions and change behaviors I became interested in understanding how the brain works. I wanted to learn how to release trapped emotions. One of my favorites was Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself. He lists how to release emotions and “prune away the habit of being yourself” (Chapter 11.)
Used positive affirmations to rewire my brain and change my limiting beliefs Affirmations (backed with positive emotions) helped me create positive change and new behaviors. When I’d catch myself about to react to a situation, I’d change my train of thought. I’d direct it onto a positive thought and use an affirmation to reward myself.
I started meditating daily and practicing mindfulness I started watching YouTube videos on meditation and mindfulness. I practiced and worked my way up from a fidgety 5 minutes to steady 30+ minutes. Evidence shows that meditation can help reduce PTSD symptoms. I can vouch for this because it reduced my own stress and anxiety
An old colleague of mine once said: “with time and experience you’ll become proactive rather than reactive.” She was right. Therapy, paired with the above dot points has pushed me to do a 360 in life.
I don’t experience crippling anxiety anymore. I’m not reactive to anything and everything and I’ve learned how to regulate my emotions. There are no more highs and lows, just steady and stable. But it didn’t happen overnight — it’s taken me a total of 2 and a half years of trial and error to get to this point.
Looking back, I don’t recognize the person I was when I started therapy. It feels like a lifetime ago.
I’ve stepped off the tumultuous rollercoaster I was on for years and I’ve been strolling along the creek at my own pace. Now I’m using my knowledge and experience to help others see that they are not alone.
The Long Road to My Mental Health Stability
It took me years to acknowledge I had mental health issues, but once I did I was able to start my healing journey. It took me hitting rock bottom to wake up and take action.
It took me 18 years of suppressing my emotions to realize I needed help. And 2 and a half years of intensive work on myself to get off the emotional rollercoaster.
I don’t recognize the person I used to be, it feels like a lifetime ago. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey, because now I can use my experience to help others in the same boat.
While these things worked for me, they may not work for you. If you are suffering from mental illness, seek support and advice from a mental health professional.
Kathrine Meraki works with your ideas to create quality content that resonates with your readers on a personal level. She specializes in writing content on personal development, mental health and wellbeing, personal finance, and money management. Want to work with her? Click here to learn more