How are you?
Me, so-so to be honest. And no, it’s not just about the elections. Since last year, I’ve already been feeling something different and it was only this year that I had the courage to finally face it and start my way to recovery. After all, acknowledgment is the first step to healing. So here I am, sharing my story.
I’ve been experiencing occasional panic attacks and recently diagnosed with a panic disorder. It was almost a year ago when I first experienced symptoms: hyperventilation, lightheadedness, feeling panicked and unsafe — the trigger? Mostly when I’m alone and away from my comfort zone (home, familiar faces, daily routine, etc.). Like when I’m trying to have “me time” at the mall, driving by myself, doing errands, etc. At first, I wasn’t aware that I was having panic attacks, I just thought that maybe it was all part of my postpartum phase in life, hormones doing their usual thing, and kind of shrugged it off.
Pre-pandemic, I was the kind of person very happy and content with myself. Like I considered my “me time” sacred — spending hours doing my own thing, even watching movies in theaters all by myself! That’s why when I felt the first symptoms of a panic attack last year (which at that time, I didn’t have a name for it ’cause I wasn’t aware), I knew that something was up. And then it happened again the following month, and again, and again, you know the drill. Which led me to Dr. Google (lol), and that’s when I did the one thing most medical experts wouldn’t recommend: self diagnose! Haha! But maybe I really know myself well because when I finally consulted a clinical psychologist, turns out, I was right. Hence the panic disorder diagnosis. Once that was finally determined, the only thing left to do is manage it, not be in denial, and hopefully, go back to my usual “independent” self one day at a time.
I wanted to have the best of both worlds so I consulted both a clinical psychologist (for the psychological and scientific explanation) AND a Catholic healing minister friend (for the spiritual side). As of this writing, I’m in on-going consultations with my psych, learning coping mechanisms and whatnot (which I may or may not write in another blog post); my friend also prayed over me (and continues to pray for me). I was told that one of the root causes of my panic attacks was having trauma when I gave birth alone (due to the pandemic protocols). Add to that the overall pandemic effect, postpartum hormones, major life changes (hello motherhood!), and my lingering abandonment issues which can be traced back to childhood (you’ll be surprised to know that most of our “issues” as adults can be traced back to that) — listing all that does make sense why I am where I am now in terms of my mental health.
I know I still have a long way to go. WE all have a long way to go to achieve “normalcy” again in our day-to-day life. My only point in sharing this is to let others who are also experiencing the same know that they’re not alone. And that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. Heck, acknowledging that you’re not okay is actually a way for you to eventually be okay. Mental health matters now more than ever! So if you’re still shy about it, I hope you’ll eventually find the courage not to be. I know that each person processes things differently and at their own pace (that’s why it’s really NOT helpful to tell someone to “just get over it”), but I believe that we can overcome every challenge life throws at us and come out stronger each and every single time. At the end of the day, believe that the good always outweighs the bad.
Most importantly, God always has a plan for everything. And that’s what faith is all about, walking alongside God despite experiencing the things we don’t like and we don’t have control of. After all, He didn’t promise a pain-free life. Even Jesus experienced His own sorrowful moments, but it was in those moments that He gave birth to new life and saved us all from eternal darkness.
So yes, my current mental health is probably a cross I’m tasked to carry on my shoulders for now. I can only pray that it’ll be a cross that can help shed light not just to myself, but to others as well. If that’s really the case, then so be it. 🙂
TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”