Yes, the taboos. The way that people pierce their eyes and snuff their nose to someone who is mentally ill and their easy suggestions and gestures of care they say, “you should just accept life, not have any expectations, and don’t take drugs for such a minor thing”. This is the point where I think that most of us are so ignorant of mental health. It in fact is a deliberate ignorance although there are millions of resources of knowledge on this matter. But about getting a genuine education, few….very few are actually into it.
Mental health issues. We have come to a great modernized society at this very point in time and we have accepted the prevalence of a lot of physical disorders and diseases and syndromes. That means, most of us have accepted that our physical body does get ill; whether for a short period of time or for a lifelong period. But, the fact that the BRAIN, which is in fact the most intrinsic part of well-being and overall system of the body, is still so difficult for many to accept that it could get sick. Really sick.
I have a brain disorder. Fibromyalgia. It is more of a neuromuscular disorder where my brain is not able to balance or produce some important chemicals; neurotransmitters. Well, the triggers might have occurred during my childhood days when I used to be an introvert to the extent that I did not really speak to anyone and whenever I had to perform anything in front of the class, I would be highly anxious. Yes, I know it is a very common thing to be anxious at such times. But the actual trigger was when I had an emotional trauma after my mother expired when I was at the age of 10.
It was the same year when my puberty started. And of course the emotional and psychological rush at that point. The confusions about your feelings. But, I was scared to share any of those to the people who of course loved me but they had their own way of social control. Mother-less child towards her teenage and ‘lost-father’ daughter at the same time. Then, during my adolescents, I started manifesting the first syndromes. Tender muscle spasms on my shoulders, and generalized body pain where it was so difficult for me to figure out what part of my body was actually in pain. It is not that I did not visit the doctors. I did. But they would just give me painkillers which just wouldn’t work. I did not get the proper diagnosis that I should have.
It became more severe during my late-teenage days. The intensity of the pain had aggravated, and I started having other syndromes such as sleepless nights, extreme exhaustion to wake in the morning, fatigue, dry eyes, bowel difficulties, and most importantly mood swings. I don’t how am I supposed to explain those mood swings when at one moment I am so happy and click, and the very next minute I am either angry or sad. The other very important syndrome was my constant migraines and sensitivity to light and sound (loud sounds). I was in my Bachelor’s level studies at this time, and I was no longer able to bear that pain. So, I decided to get a proper health checkup this time. But I was still dependent financially on my father and I had some savings of my own a very good friend of mine was so very generous towards me and he helped me to get diagnosed. So, finally, I was able to know what exactly was wrong with me and could make sense of all those physical syndromes that I had to go through every other day. But, sadly, the doctor said there is no cure for this disorder and all we can do is manage the pain and the mood swings and everything else. I was given some medicines to help manage the pain, which made me drowsy. P.S I was not financially independent, so I decided to discontinue the management thing. I got so used to the pain that it is really difficult to imagine one single day without any of those syndromes. Yes, I learned to live with the disorder.
I did some net surfing of course, and I even started to do some exercises, especially yoga which would strengthen my muscles. Years passed. I was 19 when I got diagnosed with the disorder. And now I am 29. So, it has been a decade of living with the disorder. I do regret not following up with my doctor at that time, because if I had, probably it wouldn’t have gotten this bad or this severe. Neglecting it has affected me in many ways and sometimes, I cannot function properly. I had been having tremors, heart palpitations, sensations all over my body, dissociative syndromes, dizziness, suicidal thoughts and sometimes, fear of dying, constant headaches, dry mouth, constipation. And a day came when I was just not able to move my neck. I had to visit the doctor at this very point and then, I found out that I am suffering from severe anxiety and depression. And FYI, Fibromyalgia is comorbid to anxiety and depression. With time, I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Studies tell that personality disorders are one of the most common mental issues seen in adults who had experienced traumas and adversities including loss of parents and parental neglect during their childhood.
But, as they say, better late than never, I started undergoing the treatment since I was able to afford my Mental Health. More of a management thing though. I was taking anti-depressants which in fact are also used as a medication for Fibromyalgia to regulate the neurotransmitters. (The first medications that I took when I was 19 were medicines used for epilepsy but also used for Fibromyalgia. But it did not suit me well.) Finally, I was able to have a good sleep after what seemed like an eternity and my body aches reduced to a great extent. The episodes of anxiety and panic attacks would occur time and again, but I learned to cope with them and I think I did pretty well for two years or so. I felt I was becoming myself from what I was shadowing and hiding behind that pretentious curtains. I felt alive, and yes drugs made me feel alive. But again, the stigma with anti-depressants. Pressures from family and social groups. I discontinued my drugs without any consultation with my doctor and went through an even more severe condition. It is not so abnormal to see me as “normal” from the outside. No one really knows what storm went through within me. I just couldn’t take it anymore. The constant depressive mornings would make my heart moan and muscles so stiff that I just wouldn’t be able to do what I am really supposed to. Yoga.
But, some things are difficult to change, I knew. They are my biological personality traits that develop during my early childhood days. And I am a person who is biologically very sensitive and highly anxious. I wanted to change, transform from within. One of my traits is that I make instant decisions and one of such was when I decided I need to adopt Yoga as a part of my life. So, I packed my bags and announced that I would be going for a yoga and meditation retreat. (I will share my experience there in another writing soon). You already have a heavy shoulder with your not-so-normal physiology and psychology and on top of that, society gives you a tag of “you are a woman”. They wouldn’t mind if you left home got married or pursued higher education or whatsoever. But they are so much concerned about the ‘prestige’ (that seems so virtual and unreal to me) when all I chose was my HEALTH.
P.S it hurts, and it kind of makes me annoyed when people keep on telling me “don’t be depressed. don’t expect. Don’t delve into what happened in your past”. But, all those events in the past have in fact made me who I am right now. Isn’t it? And I am on the path of transforming myself, I am not trying to change anyone else because I know that the problem has been encrypted in me. It wasn’t MY CHOICE to become ill, but it is my DECISION now that I want to change my inner dialogues and my thought patterns.
All I want is for people to be considering how they behave with children. The early childhood development thing. I believe every parent or every adult should be and must be aware of how children are affected by your actions and your words which later will determine what they become of as an adult. Be careful of your words, more importantly, your criticisms. Children are very fragile and soft, so please don’t let adult conflicts affect your Children.
The seeds of most of the mental health issues are sowed in childhood and the real problem conceives with the passing time. Don’t mess up their BRAIN.
KC is a freelance writer.
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