The Importance of Mental Health
Last updated: August 2023
When I was diagnosed with Lupus, I was too young to understand the importance of mental health and how essential it would be along my health journey. I went through so many things at such a young age. A lot of the occurrences I remember, but there are also times during my health journey I truly can't recall the events that took place.
I have always wondered why I do not remember certain times in my life. Was it due to the side effects of Lupus? Or is it a trauma response to burying hard moments just to get through the season. If I could rate it in a percentage I would say 30% Lupus related and 70% a trauma response used in survival mode. I believe as a kid I did my best trying to sort out who I was and who I suddenly became once I was diagnosed with Lupus.
Living with anxiety
I didn't realize how much anxiety I had until I met my now husband. Meeting him was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. We were dating at age 24 and he was and still is in the Air Force. We were going to spend some time apart because he needed to do training out of state. The thought of him being gone made me break.
He very quickly became my safety blanket. It’s pretty astonishing how someone can be a band-aid to your bullet wound. When it's gone you just bleed. With him leaving felt like that band-aid was being pulled off and I indeed was going to bleed out. After talking with him about my emotions and thoughts he encouraged me to seek therapy. We both knew it was bigger than just him leaving, and we were on the same page that I needed the help and he wanted to make sure I was okay in his absence.
Being chronically ill is isolating
My first session did tremendous wonders. Being chronically ill is extremely isolating if you don't have a village that understands what you're going through. Even harder trying to explain to a fellow teenager why you’re so tired. Why your weight keeps fluctuating and last but not least why is your hair falling out.
I didn't have a community I could reach out to at the time or know where to look, so a lot of what I felt I kept inside. I was scared to tell my parents how I was feeling because I didn't want them to worry. I was scared to say that I indeed was terrified of what was happening to me when I was in a flare or what I thought COULD happen to me. That's so heavy.
Having an unbiased professional opinion to sort through my thoughts with my best interest at heart, was everything that I needed that I didn't know I was missing. After just one session, my shoulders felt lighter. I said things I had never said to another individual. Not because I was fearful of what they would think, I was fearful that they would be more fearful of losing me. That was a burden I wasn't willing to put on anyone who loved me. Only if I knew then what I knew now.
Therapy was life changing
I not only needed therapy then, but I still need it now. As individuals we’re constantly changing and life un-apologetically brings experiences that alter our lenses and how we see life. It’s important to sort out those emotions so you don't get stuck in a season longer than you need to be in it. So you can obtain some clarity and validation for the things most people would not understand. So moving forward and healing isn't placed on the back burner and surfacing in other areas in our lives as a trigger response.
In most cultures, therapy is frowned upon or labeled as weak when it should be embraced. You are your best version of yourself with a clear mind, and when you carry less. It was a life changing experience I wish I had made sooner and I encourage everyone to seek therapy no matter what it is they are going through in life.
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