Mental Health and me.

I wrote part of this on 12/9/2019 and I never hit the publish button. I didn’t finish my thoughts, at that time I was still healing: Today, I expected the same negative internal monologue that replays everyday, I expected a million thoughts to be colliding in my mind, a typical morning greeting for me, instead, I was greeted with silence. The silence frightened me at first, I didn’t know what was wrong, I wasn’t sure if I was truly awake yet, I had barely slept 5 hours, I didn’t expect utter silence. I rose from the bed after being lovingly attacked by my dog, as I went about my morning routine the silence in my mind followed me on my walk with my pup.I felt the cold breeze hit my face as I walked her, I looked around and actually saw without any running thoughts in my mind. The only thought that came through was “this is a nice walk, I love my dog.”

For anyone who has ever suffered with depression, anxiety, and PTSD like I do, maybe you will understand this phenomenon I felt today. I spent years trying to push away all the thoughts and pull forth what I needed to function in my day to day life, I refused to get help, especially medication help. I started counseling here and there, it helped some, but I was still closed off, afraid to let go of all the pain inside. A few months ago I was given no choice but to start on medication, I was going through major changes in my life and I was barely functional. I didn’t know what to do to fix it all, I found temporary fixes but it was short-lived, the darkness always took over, not always at bedtime, sometimes it hit me during work.

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Today:

Monday, May 25th 2020.

I look at the Facebook memories from a year ago today, solely focusing on photos of me. I have been doing that every day since November 2019. Just looking back at photos of me, looking at my eyes, my smile or lack thereof. In some photos I don’t recognize myself, at least, it is not the person I am today.

Most of my life I have battled my demons that assault me in the form of depression, anxiety and PTSD. Now at the age of 38, I can freely speak of the darkness and pain that always lurked in the shadows of everything I did. I am proud of myself for fighting to live, the days where I struggled the most I pushed myself harder, I would not accept defeat. This has been my attitude most of my life, “I must keep going”. I kept going until I shattered, November 12th, 2019, I fell into the darkness and didn’t think I could come out of it.

November 12th 2019, a date I won’t soon forget. On that day, I could not tell you what was up or down, I didn’t know what to wear, I could not make my daughter breakfast. I began to hyperventilate and cry. I clearly remember the non-stop flow of tears, the pain in my chest as I fell to my knees and cried in the kitchen floor while my daughter watched. I could not stay strong any longer, I crumbled at her feet, even as I shattered I tried to comfort her and tell her I was “OK”. I clearly remember my words and her face, her words of comfort. It was then that I knew I needed help, I could not live with such pain and be the mother my daughter needed.

Today, I look back on photos, memories, and I’m thankful for the growth. I am grateful for peace, the stillness in my mind. I am living in the present and it is an indescribable feeling, I smile at the smallest of things, the birds chirping in the morning, my child’s laughter as she plays with our dog, I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and I smile. I feel. I’m no longer numb, I have a myriad of emotions, at times I feel more than one at a time and it is eye-opening. In the past I would hold everything in, I would not cry, the only way I was comfortable expressing emotion was through laughter. Anger burned inside me and scared me, tears made me feel weak, and any other emotion I reserved. I held myself together for so long it was no surprise that I could no longer keep it together. My mind and body were at odds, I was in pain emotionally and physically from holding everything in. But,  I was afraid to fall apart, I always wanted to be the strong one for everyone, being a mom, a wife, a nurse, a daughter, a sister, etc, I tried. I tried to be superhuman and I realized I had a breaking point. I had to deal with my demons in order to truly experience life and be there for those I care about.

I no longer hold back, I speak my mind, I feel the emotions as they come and I have found a sense of peace. My body is no longer in constant pain. Self-care is key to keep me sane. I must put myself first in order to be there for others, my empath ways can make that task difficult but I have learned to recognize the signs of when I need to recharge. I have learned to use my voice. I am learning, evolving and I am truly happy inside.

 

I’m proud of myself. My journey is just beginning. I am worthy, I am a badass, I cry, best of all… I feel.

Family, love and body art..

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I wanted to share with all of you a little tidbit of my life. This past Saturday I took my mom for her first ever tattoo. Not only was it her birthday but this experience was shared with her sister and her niece ( my auntie and cousin); a special time for us all.
My mom had been wanting a breast cancer ribbon tattoo ever since she has been in remission. She said “to look at it and feel good about me, to feel empowered, to feel hope and just smile and know I have won the battle so far.” I wanted her first experience to be great and have her be surrounded by her loved ones. My mom and I drove to a few tattoo shops in town and I had her look at each place until she found the one that felt just right. She explained what she wanted to the artist and she chose the design. We all decided to get the same tattoo; to show our support, hope for a cure and most of all our love for her.
My mom has been in remission for over 10 years now , she is still a nervous wreck when anyone mentions cancer. Her fear is that it will come back and she will no longer want treatment. Chemotherapy took its toll on her body and she is deathly afraid of having to go through that again. She trembles at the thought of having those chemicals kill her body from the inside once more. I don’t blame her one bit, I saw what it did to her every Friday afternoon during her sessions. I try not to think about those days but when I do, I realize how strong my mom is. I mean I knew she was strong but remembering all that she went through, her struggles, her fight, she is beyond strong. She fought for herself but mostly for her kids. She has always been our rock.
She is my hero, always has been. Everyday I hope to be more like her and now that I’m a wife and mother myself I hope that I’m half as great as she is. I love the fact that my daughter takes after her and she enjoys every moment she spends with her grandma.
So this past Saturday was more than just getting body art, more than breast cancer ribbons, it was about family and love. An experience I won’t soon forget, seeing the happiness in my mother’s eyes made the pain of my foot tattoo worth it. Watching her smile and look at her body art and be proud, was just…. priceless. She is a fighter, she is my hero, and I’m proud to call her mine.

—J.Vel

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