By: Stacey Chambers
It started with the flashback I had from the Gulf War right at the time the Iraq War started. After that, everything regarding my emotional state changed. I went from being the strong woman who hardly ever cried in front of anyone to the woman that made bad choices, was more sensitive to life’s events, and cried all the time. I did this for 4 years until I finally went to the VA Hospital to see what was wrong with me.
I was diagnosed around 2008 with major depressive disorder. My family and friends were very supportive by checking on me from time to time, by not trying to fix me, and just being there to listen. The company I worked for at the time was very supportive as well. I went through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in which I started out seeing my therapist once a week. (who I still see to this day at least once a month as a way to stay mentally healthy) I was allowed to use FMLA for my appointments and time away from work if needed.
The major challenge I faced while going through recovery was the voice in my head, the stories I told myself about having a mental health condition. I wasn’t very nice to myself.
I’ve done a complete 180 since 2003. I’m nicer to myself. I know how to quiet down the negative inner talk if it tries to surface, and I know what it means to truly love myself and all that I am, as I am.
My hope for the future is that I am of service to as many people as I’m able to reach, to inspire them with my story, and share the many tools I’ve learned over the years to stay mentally healthy.
Recovery to me means doing the necessary things or taking the necessary steps to prevent further injury.
To anyone facing some of the same difficulties I had in the past I would tell them start somewhere, anywhere if you’re feeling off. Don’t wait or put it off. Talk to someone, try to find a therapist or licensed counselor (a professional), research your symptoms (how you’re feeling), take baby steps and don’t give up on yourself if change isn’t happening as fast as you want it to.