MY HEALING JOURNEY SO FAR …
I wanted to write about my healing journey separate from ‘My Story’, almost as a blog that I can update (as I know there will be many twists, turns and updates). As I haven’t been very present on social media in the last few years, I have felt uncomfortable sharing an intimate story and having a difficult time with everyone. However, yoga and energy healing have been such a fundamental part of my healing that I knew I wanted to write about it so that I could share my story.
Looking back, I can now see that I have had symptoms and unbalances in my body and mind since about 16 years old, even earlier. I started to become quite anxious in my private world as a teenager but managed to hide it well and continue living a relatively normal life. I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and although I did not have significant problems with these substances, I enjoyed being taken away from reality and real life. I had a slightly different childhood from most of my friends at the time in that I did not ever really know my father and was brought up by my mum and my Nanna, then eventually my stepfather as well. Whilst my mum and Nanna did their absolute best to give me everything I needed, I now believe that my young body and mind had already suffered a great deal by feeling quite different to other families and not understanding why this man who was supposed to be my father did not want to see or know me. Later, I had a complicated relationship with my stepfather, who had his own significant issues and was an alcoholic. During university and the years that followed, I continued to experiment heavily with alcohol and drugs, depleting an already very delicate nervous system was. There was always drama in my life, with my friends, me, and my family. I loved the drama; I became addicted to it and chose my career and lifestyle based on this addiction. I craved that adrenaline rush. After surviving and managing to successfully bury most of my traumatic experiences in life so far, when I was working as Cabin Crew during an emergency landing that was quite scary, I made a decision that I could cope with anything life could throw at me as I was so tough, I wanted to work in the Metropolitan Police.
Fast forward a few years, and I have just completed a gruelling five months of training at the Metropolitan Police training headquarters in Hendon (London). The anxiety had been building up during my life. In 2005 at age 26, two weeks into my Street Duties course (for Police Officers) on the streets of Tottenham, I found myself in a doctor's office crying and filling out a form that would ultimately lead to a long-term relationship with anti-depressants. Having taken time off from my new dream job, I knew that taking anti-depressants was the only way I could work in this job at this time. I began taking the medication that day, and after a couple of weeks of strange sensations in my head, body, and some nausea, I was on top of the world and ready to return to my job as a police officer on the streets of London. I then followed a fun time working hard and playing hard in the police. I became a detective and fulfilled my dream of working for the Counter Terrorism Command. I loved my job, but at what cost to my body and mind? Hangovers did not seem a big deal on these drugs; I even remember a colleague telling me how you stay so healthy when you drink and party so much? I now know that I had stuck a huge plaster over my body, mind, and their connection. As soon as some of the old feelings came back, I went back to the docs and asked for a higher dose of my medication, and every time I got what I wanted, I wouldn’t leave that office until I got what I wanted, these drugs were allowing me to function in this big scary world, and I liked it. I had moments when I thought I’d like to be drug-free and came off the medication cold turkey. I went to hell and back but seemed to come out the other side until a few weeks later, the crippling anxiety and depression would return, so I went back on an even higher dosage this time. I then decided to come off my medication during my pregnancy with my first daughter, only to come crashing down five days after giving birth; it was the scariest time of my life.
At this point, my lifestyle and the medication was starting to give me lots of messages that my health was deteriorating. My gut issues had become bad, and I started feeling unwell and very tired most days. I put this down to having a baby and continued punishing my body with alcohol, stress, and medication. Two years later, I decided that I wanted another baby and decided to come off the medication again. Once again, I was okay for a while after an initial two to three weeks of hell, but after two months, I was back at the doctor’s office with even worse mental health than I had ever had. My sister virtually carried me to the doctor that day. I now know that this worsening of my mental health was all part of the withdrawal from coming off the medication far too quickly. After trial and error with a few medications, further destabilizing an upset and disrupted nervous system, I settled on the drug I am still on today (albeit in minuscule amounts). Whilst the drug helped me function again, and I conceived my wonderful daughter Myla, my health was deteriorating fast. In hindsight, this had all been going on for many years; I also found my cognitive skills and ability to make decisions had been reduced. I found myself in a position where I was a constant people pleaser, with no actual ownership of my own feelings and needs, and I completely lacked my own voice. At this time, my husband and I decided to emigrate to Australia to have our second daughter. This was my last big job before my ill health (physically and emotionally) kicked in. I just about managed the move down under and put the fatigue and generally not feeling well all down to the pregnancy. I had not managed to come off my medication during this pregnancy, and after having my second daughter and trying to explain to the doctor that I could not get out of bed, my anti-depressant dose was increased. I duly accepted this and hoped it would enable me to get on with life with two small children and a husband who had set up a new business in a new country.
Again, I went to the doctors to explain how much time I was spending in bed and showed him the horrific hives and eczema all over my face and body; again, my medication dose was increased. I was on the maximum dose of Effexor, an anti-depressant, and still, I could not get out of bed. My issues were getting worse. I saw so many functional medicine doctors and Naturopaths, spending thousands trying to get answers to my worsening physical and mental health. During this time, I tried so many different cleanses and supplements. I was so confused and scared. I had spent so much money, and nothing was working.
Finally, I went to see a local GP, who, whilst I consider her not fit to be practising medicine, what she said had such a profound effect on me and, in turn, changed the trajectory of my life. I explained to her that I could not get out of bed for hours during the day after sleeping for 12 hours overnight. She informed me that I was suffering from depression and that she would need me to see a psychiatrist to increase my medication as I was already at the maximum amount that she could prescribe me and also to get a mood-stabilizing drug added to my medication and possibly an anti-psychotic. She informed me that she was quite sure that I had bipolar disorder and explained to me that she herself suffers from this condition and was on several medications for this. After walking back to my car, I broke down in tears. I immediately called my husband, who comforted me (more about how amazing he has been through this time in a later blog) and looked up details regarding bipolar disorder. He felt strongly that I did not have this. Even though I was in a mess physically and psychologically, there was something deep within me when I realized that more medication would not be the answer for me. What started out as anxiety 12 years before seemed to have grown out of control since being prescribed medicine. I decided to take back a little bit of control of my life and, very soon after, booked into a psychotherapist. She took one look at me sitting in her office, almost falling asleep at 11 am after three double shots of coffee and said, ‘you’re not very well, are you?’ I burst into tears and explained to her the medication that I was on and what the GP had told me. She said that the first thing that I needed to do was to come off the medication that I was on, as that was likely causing a lot of my physical issues; she explained that she had seen many patients with problems on this medication and the dose that I was on was so high she was surprised I was functioning at all. From that day I started lowering my medication, the withdrawals have been brutal, leaving me bed bound for days with crippling depression and anxiety, but I intuitively knew that this was the right thing for me to do.
It has been such a crazy time since I made this decision, as I have been in withdrawal ever since; it has become a full-time job for me to learn how to get off the drug safely to function. There have been many trials and errors along the way. At this time of writing, I am down to about 15mg of my maximum dose of 225mg and have regained energy. There will always be more healing to do. Still, through consistent energy healing, muscle testing, yoga, diet, supplement inclusions, and changes, I am recovering and feeling ready to be back in the real world. There have genuinely been times that I thought I would not get through this, and I have wanted my life to end, as it has been so painful in so many ways. I have had to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally from years of unhealthy habits and suppressed trauma and emotions. Finally, I know that I will see this through, and I want to be able to help others with their own suppressed trauma, emotions, and healing. I want to share the invaluable tools that yoga therapy and energy healing has given me.
I still have a long way to go, and my next post will be about the layers of trauma that have unfolded as I have been healing. I believe this healing will continue for the rest of my life and into the next …
I have not documented my whole withdrawal process as I have sometimes been too unwell to do this. I intend to document the rest of the process here.