Discovering her True Self

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by reliving a psychologically traumatic situation, long after any physical danger involved has passed, through flashbacks and nightmares". In today's Life is Sweet post, Marilyn shares her journey to healing through a wide variety of means en route to discovering her true self. 

My mental health or lack thereof, only became apparent after years of childhood abuse and trauma, being stuck in a high-pressure brokerage sales job (which didn’t fit my introverted personality), two divorces and subsequent alcoholism, which all resulted in a major melt-down and hospitalization in 1986.

Thinking I was safe in the hands of one of Toronto’s top psychiatrists and a therapist who appeared caring at the onset; I settled in and did was I was told…confident that my recovery was imminent. This was NOT to be the case.

First of all, I was not diagnosed properly nor medicated properly. I staggered around like a zombie for 10 years. My family barely recognized me and were appalled at the many bottles of meds I toted around with me. I also wasted four hours per month in “talk therapy” with a therapist who frequently fell asleep during our sessions.

A.A. solved my booze problem but I was still socially maladjusted. My trusty laptop and the Internet brought me to the site run by an expert in her field of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, where I found out what my real problem was. I suffered from panic attacks, depression and flash-backs…all treatable with guided imagery therapy and music therapy.

I joined Weight Watchers and lost 77 pounds. I saved my money and got a new set of dentures; which did wonders for my self-confidence. While at Weight Watchers, I discovered that I was gluten-intolerant and with the support and encouragement of my Leader became a gluten-free vegan. WOW!! Energy! Goodbye dermatitis & itchy skin. Goodbye junk food and laxatives!!

My next challenge was to find a new Doctor when my psychiatrist “retired” without warning. A local pharmacist referred me to a GP who has just opened a clinic in my neighborhood. The doctor was a quiet, devout Buddhist who wasn’t afraid to incorporate spiritual practices into his “prescriptions”. He helped me safely eliminate and reduce nearly all the drugs I had been on. However, as my brain chemistry had been altered, minimal doses of two drugs will continue for my lifetime but I was at last, alert and awake. He also prescribed a regular routine of yoga (purely as exercise) and that I return to my childhood faith.

I was fortunate to find a loving and supportive church family (also in my neighborhood) and returned to regular prayer and meditation on a daily basis. I was encouraged to help out at church and soon found myself back “working” after 27 years on disability benefits.

I am now able to recognize my “true self” that had been buried for years under a ton of emotional junk. I’m able to care for myself and put my needs first. I eat properly, sleep well, stay away from toxic people and negativity of all sorts. I check in with God throughout the day and conduct a “wellness inventory” weekly, just to make sure I’m staying on track. I now have lots of reasons to get out of bed in the morning, smile and, yes, even laugh. Because I love God, I am able to love myself and love others my life has meaning and purpose. That lack of meaning, purpose and a sense of value and loss of hope is the real mental illness. People are dying out there for lack of these essentials.

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