Sonia: I couldn’t do it alone

As I continue to learn more about how to live well with my mental health challenges and their history, I fight to remain open and brave to share more. Because this struggle is tough for so many of us, and it was never meant to be toughed out alone.

If you had told me at 41 years of age I’d be addressing issues in my soul which have been growing on my family tree since before I was born, I would have called you a liar and taken it upon myself to set your pants on fire.

Me tackling mental health challenges personally?

Me? The woman who delivered the eulogy at her only brother’s funeral while ensuring her grieving mom and only sister held it together just long enough to completely lose it later?

Me? The woman who completed and published her first book while operating her own full time fitness studio and taking care of her mentally ill mom?

Me? The woman who’s so happy to be known as a happy go lucky soul despite a dreadfully unhappy childhood?

Me, dealing with a diagnosis of anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder?

Yes, ME. A completely candid, mostly courageous woman who’s always been
open about witnessing her mom’s lifelong battle with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Nonetheless, I’ve been oblivious to how it’s all indeed affected my life in the process of trying my absolute best not to be disturbed by any of it. Especially as I’m personally and painfully aware of how mental health challenges often carry more stigma and inconsiderate responses than probably all medical diagnoses combined.

While there are many well-informed advocates and compassionate professionals who endeavor to get to the bottom of helping the increasing numbers of individuals with mental health concerns, there are so many in our general populace who are simply uninformed.

And what’s the big deal about mental health issues anyway, when there’s “more than enough medicine to treat it” and “more than enough options to resolve it”?

Presumably nothing, if you’ve never had to deal with the exhaustion or expenses of mental health treatment directly or indirectly.

Absolutely everything, if it’s personal to your own psyche or you’ve witnessed the plight of a friend or loved one who battles the hateful nuances accompanying mental instabilities.

The struggle is as raw as it is real.

What does one do when the challenge is more than you can explain to anyone who even cares to understand, and the sickening stigma attached to seeking support makes you feel like shutting up and shutting down altogether is a safer solution?

When I was officially diagnosed with anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) last year, it was at first a breath of relief.  I was so thankful to have a sense of reason to the exhaustion in my soul.

I finally had an answer to what was often causing my mind to race faster than my heart, and the combination of both of them racing causing me to race to the ER for fear of cardiac arrest or worse.

I finally had a bit of clarity to what was convincing me to build walls where few can get in, yet I couldn’t get out to receive the emotional help I undoubtedly yearned for.

I finally had a few explanations to what can trigger me to panic about everything that has nothing to do with anything, even on the best of days.

Then came the suffocating weight of fear-ridden shame.

How would I explain to loved ones that although I have no exact words for the multiple thoughts anxiety can often flood through my soul, I’m no stranger to its impact as I can vividly recall having my first full-fledged panic attack at my high school senior prom?

How would I explain to anyone why, although I’m often the life of the party, I can disappear from open contact without a full explanation of it for even myself?

Thankfully, the countless questions aren’t rocking my mind these days nearly as much as the amazing answers I’m discovering are soothing my soul.

As I continue to enjoy the results of the major changes I’ve made in my workout routine, everyday meals, and spiritual health, along with the support of a phenomenal homeopathic doctor, I’ve become a contributing writer for The Mighty, a national blog providing support for mental health, disability, and disease.

As I continue to learn more about how to live well with my mental health challenges and its history, I fight to remain open and brave to share more. Because this struggle is tough for so many of us, and it was never meant to be toughed out alone.

— Sonia Marie Trimble