Hi😊 My name is Shanda. Being it is Mental Health Awareness Month, I felt lead to share my story.
As Early as I can remember I was Full of Anxiety and Fear. I had many smaller fears of the dark, people, life. And an Overwhelming fear of being Sexually abused/raped and a Fear and Anxiety of Death. I Believe this led to my need to Begin binging on food and picking up different obsessions like hand washing, checking my closet numerous times, going to the bathroom Many times in a row and a lot more.
During my early grade school years I remember spending A Lot of time trying to figure out what else I could be besides me...I wanted to be anything that would just die for good. Nothing that would come back, grow back or live forever. I ended up wanting to be the top half of a blade of grass. I figured, after the top half was cut, dead, gone, the rest of the blade of grass would continue to grow. No more worries, fears, insecurities...just Done. Later years my thoughts traveled to suicide. I remember fanaticizing about driving into a tree and right where I would do it. I Believe my FEARS Saved my life through those years, because I was too Afraid to try...
I remember after quite a few deaths in the family my mom "Asking" me if I wanted to see a counselor. I said NO. Today, I know that I will never ASK if my girls "want" counseling if I believe it will benefit them.
School was also a challenge for me. I just did not understand or let alone like it. I couldn't Enjoy it like the other kids seemed to be. During my Jr high/high-school years I had friends but Always felt Very Alone, Insecure and Terrified of life. Others would have described me as funny, loud and outgoing. But what I was feeling inside was the Complete Opposite. During these years I had found that Cigarettes, Alcohol and Food were Becoming Very important to me.
I lost my mom in 1999 after a Long illness, a couple transplants and heart bypass. Today, I Believe she also dealt with mental illness and it finally physically caught up with her. After her passing, I turned even more toward Alcohol and Food. Exactly a year after her passing, I found out I was pregnant. Being unmarried, this added Shame for me Along with my Growing fears, anxieties and insecurities. I just wanted to go to a white padded room and be locked away.....
Through the next 8 years or so, I Continued to Struggle with Alcohol, Food, Men, My Fears, Doubt and Insecurities. I saw Many counselors, wanting them to just quick "fix" me, help me! I was on and off Many medications. Diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar 2. All while 99% of friends, family, clients and acquaintances thought I was a happy, funny, outgoing, hard-working single mom. When the reality was, I was falling apart.
About 7 and half years ago My God led me to a 12 step program for Alcoholics. This is when my journey to healing Began. After over 2 years of sobriety, I was led to another 12 step program for Food Addicts. During these 7 and half years after removing my own coping devices (Alcohol, Smoking and Food) from my body the fog of life was lifted. I could Eventually admit these feelings I had dealt with my whole life. I have learned how to Recognize when my fears, anxieties, etc are resurfacing. And learn that I don't have to let feelings run my life anymore. I also learned through meditation (quiet times/yoga) of an Amazing, Miraculous, Beautiful, Loving relationship I have formed with My God (higher power, creator, something more powerful than myself).
In February, I heard My inner strength saying it was time for my path to healing to take another turn. Change is still hard for me. But I have learned and continue to learn to Listen to that inner voice. New changes these past few months have brought on A Lot of my old fear, doubt and insecurities. But today I can trust I am going to be ok.
Mental Illness for me has been EXTREMELY hard to accept. I thought it would "go away" if I just lived the "right way." TODAY, I know it is a part of me (and my daughters) for life. But, the difference today, is I am aware of it. There is NOTHING Wrong with me. I just know for me to feel alive I need Daily contact with My God and to Always know there Is Hope out there if I choose seek it.
Beyond Grateful, Shanda xo