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Update on my Health Journey (November 17, 2023)

I saw my psychiatrist on Thursday. As some of you might know, he’s actually a psychotherapist so he offers therapy and medication. He is a youth psychiatrist. I started seeing him when I was 15 (it’s been 22 years). Unlike typical psychiatrists, he gives an hour long session to every patient.

Even though I’m no longer on psych meds, I’ve asked to keep seeing him for the therapy aspect of our appointments. On Thursday we had a great conversation about attachment styles, how they form, and how they play out in relationships.

I am single and I won’t be looking into dating again until late spring or summer of 2024 but learning to communicate my feelings and experiences is an important skill in all my relationships - not just romance. I can practice it now in my every day interactions.

I grew up with one parent who screamed and another who shut down. I mirrored the latter and grew up coping with conflict by stonewalling: shutting down and shutting others out. In today's world this is a common, albeit unhealthy, coping technique. It's often displayed as ghosting. I recognize this behaviour in myself. It's not in line with whom I want to be however nor is it in line with the relationships I want to have with others in my life. I can’t control other people of course, but I can choose how I act and what connections I foster.

I genuinely like my psychiatrist as a human being. I fully believe he cares about me and about all of his patients. I think he’s rooting for me, as like with everyone he works with, he wants me to be well. Despite knowing this, I still have a lot of pain surrounding how I felt treated after exiting hospital in February 2021. I am grateful that after just over a year, in May 2022, he freed me from the Mental Health Act and agreed to support and guide me with coming off of psych meds. That year and a bit were hell though. Some of you may remember that. If you do then thank you for staying with me as I can guess how painful it was seeing my posts and pleas for help, on top of watching the marijuana induced psychosis unfold. I am aware now that I was very delusional and that to outside eyes, I appeared erratic.

On Thursday I asked my psychiatrist how I seem to him and with a genuine smile he told me that I’m doing well. It meant a lot to hear him say that. Although I still have pain and fear surrounding psychiatry/hospitalization, I know that for me to do this right, I need to face that fear and go to my sessions despite the anxiety and nightmares that precede them. It’s better for him to witness the changes I’m working hard for than for me to get scared and run.

Yesterday I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in two years. She was in shock when she saw me. She said she couldn’t believe how clear and bright my eyes were, that she’s known me since I was in my mid-20’s and I often looked spacey before.

I cry a lot, but I truly do smile a lot too. I am working so hard to be where I am. It’s not just nutrition and exercise, it’s also facing the trauma that’s led me to a lifetime of addiction. It’s choosing to feel and acknowledge the emotions instead of running, numbing, suffocating, or trying to suppress them. The reactions of people who haven’t seen me in a long time prove that the effort I’m putting in shows.

The darkness is upon this hemisphere yet I have no hints of depression. Overall I’m sleeping well - not too much nor too little (I have the prescription sleeping pills but I haven’t taken a single one yet). When I wake up, I look forward to getting out of bed. I have hope. I have skills and tools - things I can do that help me feel better. I make choices that align with my values and what I want in my life. I’m not perfect. I still have moments of sadness, stupidity, doubt, envy, ego, anger, and regret - it’s a part of being human.

Just as endless rain creates a flood, endless sunshine makes a desert. I need the soothing breeze and the raging storms. I need the death of autumn, the stillness of winter, the birth of spring and the energy of the summer sun. This is how I will grow. This is how I will live - Truly live, by experiencing the yin and yang of life while at the same time nurturing my own sense of inner calm.

The pressures, the challenges that arise, I choose to see as opportunities to apply what I've learned. They show me my strength, my growth, and of course they highlight the areas I need to keep working on. They remind me that I am indeed alive. That I can do more in life than simply survive. I can make choices and take actions that support me in feeling well. I can build a life in which I thrive.

I don't know what the future holds, but I'm okay with the uncertainty. I am grateful. I trust me. I am proud of myself. And, so far, I've got two confirmed sponsors for my upcoming solo show! 🎉


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