Is this what “normal” feels like?

I never felt “normal”. I have sought out a solution, searched for help just to feel “normal”. Even though I didn’t know what “normal” felt like, I knew that MY “normal” wasn’t right.

Five weeks ago, I spent an hour with a new doctor, who took the time to ask me in-depth questions regarding my mental health, as far back as childhood.

I have been diagnosed with so many invisible illnesses. You name it, it seems like I got it. 

Severe Depression. 
PTSD. 
BPD. 
GAD. 
ADD. 
…. and I display the symptoms & behavior (past + present) of someone with Bipolar Disorder. 
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I’ve always wondered if it’s just a chemical imbalance, or it’s a byproduct of being adopted + the physiological response to being separated from my mother at birth. Or maybe it is because of my traumatic + abusive childhood. 

I don’t know. 
But really, does ANYBODY REALLY KNOW? 
It seems like nobody escapes this life unscathed. 
We’re all a little damaged. 
We’re all little broken.

19 years.
NINETEEN YEARS. 
That’s how long I have been medicated (off + on). 

Medication to treat depression. 
Medication to treat ADD. 
Medication to treat anxiety.

Some came with major side effects. 
Some had subtle side effects. 
Some worked for a while, then stopped. 
Some didn’t work at all. 

Looking back I now know, that my high levels of alcohol consumption got in the way of the effectiveness of past medications. 

Most people don’t know that even drinking half a beer while taking an anti-depressant cuts the effectiveness of that medication in more than half. 
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This has a lot to do with why I made the decision to stop drinking 1,173 days ago. 

When my therapist shared that information with me, I had a decision to make. Did I want to get well? Did I truly want to get well? If I did, then I needed to give my recovery a fair shot. Alcohol was going to interfere with my medication. 

So I chose me. 
And I quit drinking. 
And I haven’t looked back.

I worried about things that seemed to be valid reasons to be worried about. But the worry consumed me. It took over my life. I’ve always thought to myself, ”Something is wrong with me. I just want to be normal. I want this madness in my head to end.” No one understood me. I’ve been called crazy, made fun of for my OCD ways, called all sorts of names and ridiculed for the way my mind works. I couldn’t articulate to anyone what was going on in my head. And I couldn’t make it stop. I couldn’t even describe it. I just know it didn’t feel normal. But it was the only thing I knew.

All of my life, I have been hyper-vigilant. The older I have gotten, the more it has interfered with my ability to live. I worried. I worried all the time. I worried about relevant things that mattered. I worried that wouldn’t matter five years later. I was terrified that I would lose my loved ones or that they would leave me. I was terrified that they would get hurt in front of me and I could do nothing to help them.

BUT… for five weeks now, I have been taking a new medication. It’s actually a medication to treat seizures. But is also prescribed to people with Bipolar Disorder. It is a mood stabilizer. I have never been on a mood stabilizer until recently. The doctor explained that if this works, I would feel like a completely different person. That gave me hope, but I didn’t get too attached to the outcome.

I have noticed small changes though over the last five weeks. I still worry about the things that I used to worry about, but I worry about them a lot less. They’re just thoughts. NOW for the first time I get to experience a “normal persons” level of worrying. I don’t get sent into panic mode, which always triggers my flight or fight response anymore when something stressful comes up. 

It’s so hard to explain the difference that I feel already after five weeks. All I can say, is that it feels incredible to feel “normal” for the first time in almost 38 years. It feels so good that if makes me cry. You have no idea how hard it’s been to live inside my head and constantly wonder what is wrong with myself. 

I’m so thankful for the coaching opportunity, because as my mental illness became more debilitating, being a coach has given me the ability, time, freedom and the finances to address my mental health and take care of me. I honestly don’t know what I would do, if I still had to sit at a desk, day in and day out, like I used to and have to interact with others on a daily basis. I don’t think I would’ve ever had the chance to fix myself or work on myself. But because I said yes to coaching I now have the tools that led me to this point.

It doesn’t matter what you’re struggling with, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to want to be better than you were yesterday. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

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