The First Steps

For a long time, I was in denial about what was going on in my life. I was scared of the thoughts in my head and the way that I behaved. I thought that it was just who I am and what my life was going to be forever. It was understandably hard to get out of bed every morning. I had no energy and no desire to do anything. If there was a rainbow outside, I couldn’t see it—I was too busy huddled in a dark room with the curtains drawn.

When I went to the doctors for the third time complaining about pain in my feet, I had a different doctor than I usually do. Instead of telling me that it was because I was overweight and sending me on my way like my regular practitioner, this new doctor asked me a bunch of questions about myself that seemed completely irrelevant—how was I sleeping? How did I feel otherwise? How was the pain affecting my daily life? She seemed so sincere and kind, and it was the first time in a long time I could remember anyone even asking me about what I was going through. I cried in her office for a long time, and once I was able to calm down, she gently told me that it was time to get some real help. She was guessing that the severe depression I had been suffering wasn’t just affecting my mental and emotional state. She had a theory that, because I wasn’t addressing my actual issues, my body was escalating the symptoms and my depression was now taking a physical toll on me as well.

She sent me to a psychiatrist.After a few sessions, he officially diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder and moderate depression. I was put on some medication to help manage the depression and I receive counselling for the PTSD. The day I was given the diagnosis, it made me feel bad. How could I have let this happen? There’s something wrong with me! I wasn’t normal, I was a crazy person!

But then I realized something. There was something wrong with me. Rather than going into a panic or feeling bad about it, I realized that what I had been experiencing had been real this whole time. What I initially did not understand was that my diagnosis was a gift. With it, I could start treatment. And that treatment meant that I could finally start feeling better. My life didn’t have to be so miserable and dark, and for the first time, I realized it was my choice—I could make it better if I wanted to. Taking those first steps was downright terrifying but so very worth it. It has been a lot of work to get where I am and I know I have a long way to go. I may never be “cured.” I am OK with all of that. Most of my todays are better than my yesterdays, and when they aren’t, I am learning how to cope.

I am a work in progress.