Recovery is Possible (my post featured as a guest author on the Trigger Publishing Blog)

I didn’t know other people didn’t feel the way I did, or that it wasn’t normal to feel electrical impulses misfiring throughout my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t normal to sometimes dissociate; becoming a distant spectator, watching myself, frozen, and unable to form the words I wanted to express.

Aged twenty-four, I didn’t know I wasn’t dying from a heart attack until I called 911 and the ambulance arrived. I didn’t believe the emergency room doctor who told me I was experiencing anxiety and it was actually just a panic attack.

Until I gave birth to my daughter five years later, still I didn’t believe him. During the emergency cesarean section, at the exact second the doctor pulled my beautiful baby girl from my uterus, I felt that he also removed me: my identity, my reality, all my emotions, and seemingly, my mind. In the afterbirth of my delivery, I was expelled and left in a severe state of detachment and unreality. This was not how I dreamt becoming a mother would be.

After being diagnosed with postpartum depression, I began taking the anti-depressant Prozac. Despite this, my anxiety and mania progressed to the point I was also diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD. This long list of labels was now attached to my identity.

My symptoms became so severe I had to quit my successful ten-year career as a special needs teacher. I lost everything – my job, home, money, husband, friends, family, and my sense of self. I was blamed for getting an illness I did not want, discarded, and left alone. I also later learned that I was referred to as the “crazy” teacher.

Over the twenty-five years that followed, I overdosed on psychotropic medications, was hospitalized in psychiatric units, attempted suicide numerous times, was court ordered to live in halfway houses, engaged in self-injurious behaviors, lived in a homeless shelter for over three months, and received countless electroconvulsive therapy treatments.

Anytime a person falls ill with a chronic condition, it can become life-altering. In the midst of adjusting to painful and debilitating symptoms, I also faced the sometimes more damaging and hurtful stigma attached to mental illness.

Stigma has a ripple effect. I experienced it so strongly, cruelly, and regularly throughout the years, I began to self-stigmatize. Allowing the doubt and negativity from others to rub off on me left me hating everything about myself. It wasn’t until I became aware of the fact that I was self-stigmatizing that I began putting in the work that would set me free from shame and self-loathing.

Admittedly, I am a sensitive person and learning not to listen to stigmatizing language is a work in progress. If people bring me down or interfere with my recovery, I keep them out of my life, which has been a necessary and beneficial approach to my continued mental wellness.

I am not ashamed of mental illness, nor am I ashamed of myself. If people decide they are ashamed of me, that is their shame to bear. I am so much more than my mental illness and took steps to accept myself and find hope.

The next step was getting back into work part-time. I was unable to teach special education again, but eventually found work as a resident care assistant providing cares and supporting to seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Helping others is therapeutic for me, provides meaning, and gives me a sense of purpose. When I was a special education teacher, I used to say I got paid to give love. Finally, I can say that again. Returning to work continues to be a necessary component of my recovery and has helped rebuild aspects of my identity that had been missing for years.

Thirdly, it was important for me to reduce the negative thoughts about my mental illness and do my best to distract myself from the ways my life had been adversely affected. So, I fill my mind with positive dialogues, words, thoughts, and music as often as possible. This is a great coping technique that works tremendously for me.

The fourth step was finding purpose beyond work. For me, of course, it has always been the love and adoration of my three children, but it was also imperative for me to find another focus of great value. So, through public speaking and sharing my writing, I am now an advocate for mental health and wellbeing.

Lastly, I have learned to live in the moment and appreciate the small things, and I can honestly say that I am enjoying the beauty of living each breath of my life. I have now been psychotropic medication free for the first time in over twenty-five years (done under medical supervision!).

When I finally stopped taking the benzodiazepine, Klonopin, I endured and survived severe benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Since that time, my mental health has improved significantly. My mind is clearer and for the first time in my life I do not have severe anxiety.

To reiterate: recovery is a work in progress and not simply a road to cross. Rather, a challenging, complex yet remarkable journey to experience. Some days will feel manageable or even effortless, while others will feel less so. But just remember that recovery is always possible: I am living proof.

–Susan Walz

Image result for recovery is possible Im living proof

I love this quote:

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” ~Asha Tyson

Here is the link for my post titled Recovery is Possible on the Trigger Publishing Blog where I am a featured guest author:

http://www.triggerpublishfoing.com/recovery-is-possible

Here is the link to the trigger Publishing blog:  http://wwwas.triggerpublishing.com/

They have some amazing mental health books. I think I want to read ALL of THEM.


© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

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18 Replies to “Recovery is Possible (my post featured as a guest author on the Trigger Publishing Blog)”

  1. Hi, this is a very interesting read, my heart goes out to you for being very brave of put this out here. Well done!! I’ve been through anxiety myself which is very unpleasant. Thanks for posting ❤️

    1. You are very welcome. Thank you for saying I am brave but I don’t feel brave because I am not ashamed of it. I have reached a point that I am not ashamed of living with mental illness and it is an awesome feeling. I think if there was no stigma there would be no need for anyone to have to feel brave to share their stories of mental illness and recovery. I pray one day we can get there. Anxiety is extremely painful but never be ashamed of it. I just wanted you to know that you sparked my idea for my next post. Thank you for that and thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate it greatly and I appreciate you.

      1. Hi, thank you for your reply, I truly appreciate it when I meant about being brave I saw your story from the other side of the coin because you wasn’t ashamed of living with mental health I have done a story on my mental health too because recently I was struggling and at first having to admit I was ashamed but your story had given me more hope of not being afraid.Thanks for the lovely comments.❤️

      2. You are welcome. Thank you for your comments. I am happy I could help in a little way. Keep doing what you are doing. Sharing your own story lightens the load, the bruden and THE SHAME. The more you share the easier it becomes and the the less shame there is. I pray one day you too will not be afraid or ashamed. Be proud of yourself for what you are doing and where you are in your recovery.

  2. omg, i so identify to that. it is really strange… feeling electrical impulses all over your body. i have it from some severe health environmental hazards that caused me to almost die. the ssri method that i am trying is only increasing it exponentially at times, and vitamin d seems to make it horrible.

    1. I am happy you are still here. Praise God for that. Many psychotropic medications can cause increased anxiety. At least they did for me. I am not taking any psychiatric medications now and I no longer feel severe anxiety. Everyone is different but it is something to look into with you psychiatrist. Much love and hugs, Sue

      1. thank you so much for doing this. i have been really struggling on an ssri, and fighting pTSd depression and anxiety. My ex husband tried to kill me in 2010, and made me very sick using other means i suspect. he’s been trying to stalk me lately, and it’s creeping me out. But I am holding firm…

      2. I am so sorry you are going through such horrific trauma. Keep fighting. You are doing the right things and it will become easier. I hope the police are helping you with this and keeping you safe. You should not have to be in fear of him. Much love and hugs, Sue

      3. meep1 thank you….and yes, several agencies are helping on this matter.

  3. You are a true inspiration. Thank you for honestly sharing your story for me and so many others to read. It’s important to know there is light at the end of the tunnel 💕 I am interested to know more about step 3 you mentioned about filling yourself with positive words etc, do you do this in a specific way like a journal or meditation? Thanks for your time 💕

    1. Thank you. I try to surround myself with as much positivity as I can in as many ways as I can. The more it happens the easier it has become. I wrote a post that it titled Don’t be a Negative Nelly that touches on the technique I use. If I find myself being negative I try to change the dialogue in my head by repeating positive comments over and over even if I do not believe them at the time and it helps. I am not saying it takes the negativity away completely but it helps. It really does. I have a strong faith so I do pray a lot and that has been my number one–God saved my life really first and foremost. It wasn’t until I found God and renewed my faith that my recovery began. Writing helps me a lot. That too has been a life saver. When I write, my words are also for me. I write with optimism because it is what I need to hear as well. I also listen to positive music a lot–worship music and upbeat oldies that I associate happy memories with and I like show tunes-musicals too. Just find what promotes happiness in your heart and let it overflow in your life. I hope this helps. Much love and hugs, Sue

  4. This was beautiful to read! Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you are finding the recovery process a success; this gives me so much hope in pushing through my mental illness as well. Keep at it! 💜💜

    1. Thank you for reading. I am happy you liked my post. Recovery is absolutely possible and beautiful. Keep fighting You can make it. Remember recovery is a journey and everyone’s is different, but it is definitely possible and achievable. I am living proof of it and many others are as well. You can reach mental wellness as well. Every day you are on way. One day, one minute at a time…

  5. “When I finally stopped taking the benzodiazepine, Klonopin, I endured and survived severe benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.” Oh my gosh, benzodiazepine withdrawals are so real. SO REAL. I’ve done both benzo step down to go off them and step down for Zoloft and Welbutrin. Nothing is worse that benzo step down. I’m so glad you found comfort and peace of mind after. I didn’t and had to go back on it. But, like you said, that’s what works for me and taking Klonopin is part of my recovery.

    Thank you for sharing your story. We’re all brave for sharing, and better off for listening to each other.

    1. I feel with Benzo withdrawals that is what happens to many. They just can’t get completely off of it. I feel like I had to withstand an unbearable pain and wished many times I could go back on Klonopin but I couldn’t. I had no choice but to stay off of it because I had a severe overdose on it so the p-docs wouldn’t prescribe it to me anymore. That was a huge blessing in disguise for me. I had no choice but to keep going and once I made it beyond the worst it gradually began getting better for me. Each moment of hell was worth it for me at this moment in my life. Like you said everyone’s recovery journey is different and maybe one day you will try again to stop Benzos and it will work. I wish your the best in your recovery and be very proud of wherever you are in your journey because you are one step closer to your mental wellness and everyone’s mental wellness is unique to them. Keep fighting. You are winning. Enjoy your day.

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