Hi readers, I’m from thesoulwhispersblog – a blog about cultivating a practice of listening to your truest self.
When Niraj suggested that I write a piece about a learning experience, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to share. The idea of not suffering alone came to mind and I thought to myself, “This sure is a heavy topic.” Despite being a heavy topic, I feel that this has been one of the most important learning experiences in my life, and hopefully by sharing my story I can help you feel less alone.
This is my story.
Graduated and a few years into my career I began feeling overwhelmed, worried all the time, hyper-vigilant with every task and unable to relax even when I was not busy. I suffered alone, hiding what I was experiencing for as long as I could. But in due time, reality revealed that I was not okay – a pivotal point where I was open to receiving the help I needed.
Acknowledging that we are not okay, is okay.
When we recognize that we are not okay, this is the pivotal moment when we are open to doing something about it.
The day I acknowledged I was not okay was the day I called up a friend who had gone through something similar. He advised that I see a doctor and that medication may be needed both in the short-term and possibly in the future (I hated the idea of seeing a doctor and taking any medication but I respected my friend and felt less alone knowing his experience was similar). Following the doctor’s appointment I called another friend who’s words I’ll never forget, “Welcome to the club!” I went from ignoring and hiding my distress to welcoming help from friends and health care professionals. At the time it didn’t feel like a pivotal moment but rather a very small step on a long road of healing.
Choose to share your story with trusted individuals who have gone through or are going through similar experiences successfully.
It takes a lot of courage to share the most vulnerable parts of ourselves with others – so share wisely. The two individuals I chose to share my experience with understood first hand the impact of prolonged stress, and both had the courage to get the help they needed. Their fearlessness gave me the courage to do the same.
If you don’t have trusted individuals in your life right now, start with a doctor who specializes in mental health.
Although there were many times I struggled with feeling alone, I did not do this alone. I went to therapy, and like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, I had to test out a few therapy couches before one fit. Today I see a therapist on a regular basis and feel very comfortable opening up to her. Upon my request, she provides me with resources to help beyond our hour sessions. I found that educating myself on mental health took away the stigma for me.
Education normalizes mental health, helping us to feel less alone
“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Von Volk was one of many resources that normalized my experience. From podcasts to blogs (like Niraj’s), documentaries and of course, hearing in-person experiences, I am learning that mental health is a normal biological response experienced by people all around the world, and I am reassured that I am not alone.
Ongoing practice empowers your truest self – a trusted companion that knows and advocates for the best you.
As scary as this has been in the past, the more in-tune I am with the signals my body gives me (e.g., uneasiness, heart racing and constricted breath), the better I can advocate for my needs. This includes rest, rescheduling, reflecting and reconnecting. I do this by journaling, mindfulness practice and reaching out to key individuals. All these have helped me become more embodied, which has empowered me and made me feel less alone.
When we’re hurting, shame and fear of being misunderstood make us feel alone. I hope that my story will help you know that you are not alone. In low moments I am reminded that it’s okay to not be okay, to reach out to key individuals and to take time to strengthen my sense of self.