We are all familiar with the stigmas that come with everything that is frowned upon by society. The list is endless and some of them don't even make sense! Let alone it can prevent and hold you back from receiving the support or treatment you need in order to be okay and cope with lifes daily challenges and struggles
The last two months have been my most challengiing months for this year and has had me wanting to to share my story and talk about mental/ chronic illnesses. First off, the stigma around it or even talking about it makes it so difficult for an individual to reach out and openly ask for the help they know they need and want in order for them to make sense of whats happening, heal and get better
Not enough support or awareness is put on mental wellbeing or on chronic illnesses that change your life
I'm sharing my story so that you know you're not alone, you can definitely work through it and it does get better with time. We can work through it together and It is more than okay to ask for help and even more okay to say it out loud!
In 2014 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism ( an under active thyroid) and Thallassemia Minor ,(which not many of us know this) I didn't know this at that time either, comes with so many other contributing factors that add to it
Hypothyroidism - Malfuntion of the thyroid gland and it is slowed down therefore affecting the way your body processes things and is accompanied with
- feeling sleepy all day
- unexplained weight gain
- increase in apetite
- irritable bowel
along with a low self esteem, low confidence, feeling concious of my 'growing' body which left me feeling depressed
Thallasseima Minor - a blood disorder when the body doesn't carry enough oxygen to the rest of the body and there are fewer red blood cells than normal and is accompanied with
- feeling out of breath
- seeing black or stars
which lead me to having anxiety and panic attacks regularly
Me, being the active person I love being and die hard gym finatic, eating well and so health conscious couldn't understand or process this. I cried a lot! I cried for months, hating the way I felt and looked. After being diagnosed and getting three opinions, I did research and wanted to understand what it is I have and how I can cope with it. I had to change a lot. They way I think, eat, train and how far I can push myself. Unfortunately , the truth is there is no cure for either chronic illness but there are most definitely ways of working around it to a point it is something you no longer put all your energy into and can continue doing the things you use to do, if not better.
Both require chronic medication which I take everyday continuosly. For my thallessimia, I get montly drips when its really low and can go 8 months without needing a drip. It took me 1 year to get familiar with it, work around it and still keep going which included gym and swimming. With the right medication, doctor/ specialist, a good support system, someone to talk to including a professional ( another taboo topic!), helps make it easier to accept and work through it in a way that suits you best
The worst is when people don't understand what's happening or fail to read up about it and have this notion that its nazr and a moulana ( priest) can fix it and take it away ( lmao) , that if you pray more it will go away. That if I gym more, I won't put on so much weight. If I get up early and stop being lazy , it will go away. The worst remarks were you're over reacting, it will come right. There's nothing wrong with you, get your life in order. I mean, anybody knowing that there is a chance of hearing this kind of negativity, why would you want to talk about it or say that you need help. You're crazy. Right?!
Just when I thought I had a everything under control and how to cope, I was almost back to normal and my health was in check, in 2016 I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia - Wide spread chronic pain throughout the body.
At first, I didn't know what the hell this was and before being diagnosed I couldn't make sense of what was happening to me. I was crying all the time which casued me to fall into a depression without me even knowing it becasue of being in pain continuously, especially my neck, head and shoulders. My head felt full and nothing made sense. I felt like I was having a breakdown at the age of 27!
How I socialized, how I did daily regular activities or chores, My career and having to learn how to deal with my triggers. I couldn't work any longer because of not being able to commit and be 100% okay, calling in sick or not being able to meet my targets. I quit work or even the idea of working and stayed home which drove me CRAZY!
I started medication tailored for me and with regular check ups and seeing a psychologist monthly in the beginning, helped me more than I can express and it was something that I never thought I'd ever have to deal with. It doesn't go away but can lessen with the correct treatment, exercise, self love and care and it most definitely does get better with time. When I decided to speak about this new termed chronic illness and ask family members to read up to help them understand why I don't want to be social or can't manage to get into the kitchen to prepare a meal or even just do my chores, I was looked at like I'm koo koo! I got told things like
it's all in your head, snap out it
You need to get yout shit in order
It's because you don't pray enough
You're probably imagining it
You look fine, you don't look sick
If I didn't want to be somewhere or socialise with anyone at functions, let a lone attend or I'm simply not up to it I would get anxiety. If not kept in check it would bring on a panic attack. Confronting people with negative energies or who simply made me feel unwanted would bring on anxiety and a panic attack and cause an immediate trigger of tension and pain
There were days and sometimes still are that I could not get out of bed and want to cry. I get mad and frustrated and ask why me, why this which didn't help but added to it and There are days that are great and I am on a roll, active and interactive. I feel good and can get all my things done with ease.
I have learnt how to identify my triggers that casue a flare up and intensify my pain. I have learn't how to manage it and I have also learn't how to say NO! No to things that don't have a positive effect on my overall wellbeing, Whether its relatives, loved ones or friends.
With all that had happened, I had lost my me. That sparkle that makes me me. my essense. I started painting again to help me destress and heal and which was such and still is such a big part of me that had been missing for a long time. This pushed me into alwasy putting myself first, making decisions that are good for me, pursuing my own dreams and passions and working on being the best version of myself, for me.
I was and still am truly grateful and blessed to have an amazing support system. My mom, my partner, my family and friends who could and still can relate to even a small part of what I had been experiencing, my GP ad my Psychologist.
Today, all thanks to God, I can say I am okay and I will be okay. I have my good days, I have my bad days and That's OKAY. I have more good days than bad ones and I am grateful fro that. Above all I know I am not alone, I have my creator. Through this experience I became a Threpuetic Art Life Coach and a Professional Life Coach. With this being said, I still need my loved ones, my friends and professional assistance. Seeing a therapist/ psychologist is NOT a bad thing nor does it make you crazy, abnormal nor is there something wroong with you! The bravest, most courageous thing anyone can do is admit to themselves that they are not feeling okay and need help and support to get back to their good space.
For every individual that has a chronic illness, stress, trauma, depression and anxiety come with it and it is very very real for the person experiencing it. It is not in our heads, neither are we crazy, nor can we snap out of it.
So my dear darling, if you can relate to anything I have shared here, know that you are not alone. It is absolutely okay to say it out loud, to share and to reach out. It is not somehting to hide or be ashamed of.
If you have a loved one, friend or family member that is going through something or any kind of mental or chronic ilnness, please please educate yourself before passing a judgement or telling them to snap out of it. Read up, do some research and see how you can help and assist instead of becoming a trigger. Show compassion, lots of love and most of all be there for them when they need you.
There are so many people going through this and worse but are too afraid to talk about it or tell someone.
It is not easy. It's a battle even though we might look healthy, well put together and smiling on the outside
PS* Thank you to all who shared their stories with me and reached out. I hear you, I am here for you and you are not alone.