|Photo credit: VeryWell Mind|
First, Happy NEW Year! lol It's been a while since I've blogged. The last time I blogged, I wrote about "If you love me, don't say the word "CRAZY"! I shared in that blogpost intimate experiences of me experiencing Bipolar Disorder with Psychosis (out of touch with reality). I am glad that it touched and informed those who read it but I felt I should wait and share those details in my bipolar memoir in the near future. So instead, I thought I would share more on why I checked myself in...
In 2021, I went through many losses and changes. Even with making changes to my health, eating right and exercising felt great and was glad to get some things in order but there were a lot of stressors that caused my mental health to turn for the worst. I experienced anxiety to the extreme. With both conditions, Bipolar Disorder and PCOS, you can experience severe anxiety and depression. It was so hard to know which one was working against me.
With deaths back to back, and even a loved one becoming ill right before school started, it was beyond stressful. Even with all of that my therapy sessions ended abruptly while my therapist and I were working on some deep inner healing. I was taking a sociology of grief class that was very triggering because I had to unpack cumulative grief over the year and share my experiences. I felt so heavy. I did my normal routine with working out, prayer, reading the word and meditating. However, I had trouble sleeping and wasn’t able to get rest. I felt like I was having a bit of crying spells and emotionally distressed.
The week of Thanksgiving 2021, I checked myself into psychiatric care. And I had a totally different outlook this time around. When I went I felt heard. I looked at myself as a patient and not as if I didn't need to be there like how I did 8 years ago when I was in denial about having mental illness. I was given some more coping mechanisms and I felt like God really cares about those who are struggling with mental health. I saw being in the hospital from 7 years ago as a form of self-care! Even though, I battled with like how did this happen and didn’t really want people to share their opinions about my hospitalization especially being a mental health advocate, people would look as if you shouldn't struggle in a sense but a mental health advocate is someone who had the bravery to share their story. See this article to know what it really means --->What Does It Mean to Be a Mental Health Advocate? What I did checking myself in was wisdom. I would encourage others when they are experiencing signs and symptoms to check in, so I took my own advice.
Even with finishing the Fall 2021 semester with all A’s, I shared publicly about my hospitalization and my personal battles. And i I struggled with my thought life about it. Anxious thoughts began to return and it got to a point where I couldn’t control them. My cousin recommended I go seek help because even while I was trying to journal and my other rituals, it wasn’t helping. I went to COPE which is a community outreach psychiatric emergencies where you can speak with a therapist, social worker and psychiatrist. I found out one of my psych meds was causing the PCOS to become worst. So, I had to do a meds switch twice afterwards.
But God wastes nothing.
While hospitalized, I was able to be affirmed even the more by my psychiatrist that said to me, "GOD DOES NOT CALL THE QUALIFIED. HE QUALIFIES THOSE HE CALLS.” That made me feel so good because I was asking God to speak to me through the doctors. The chaplain at the hospital helped me to not to feel bitter about my experience and having Bipolar Disorder and to look at the ways how having the illness made me a better person, like being more compassionate and caring. She helped me to look at it as a gift and not a curse. Because while I was there I was definitely experiencing tons of emotions.
Due to being hospitalized, things were able to get back on track with my therapist thanks to Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN). I was featured in their blog as a success story. You can check it out here with more details: https://www.dwihn.org/Sheree-Braswell.id.4280.htm
I was also featured in a mental health advocacy video that was through DWIHN to spread awareness about current legislations trying to eliminate public mental health services and privatize Michigan insurance companies. Please watch the video and sign the petition if you’re a Michigan resident. The link is in the caption of the YouTube video. You can watch it --->Mental Health Advocacy Video
And more doors and opportunities have opened just by me being open and sharing about my experiences. Even though positive outcomes have happened and I’m extremeIy grateful,I struggled with my thought life about it all. I’ve received compliments about blogging and words of encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing but then there are backhand comments about how if they were me, they would wait until after I met someone. And that rang in my ear for a while, had me questioning my purpose, my blogging journey and pretty much everything. When God told me one of my purposes 10 years ago in 2012 was to encourage those with mental illness.
As I share and un-peel layers of my mental health journey, I’m learning I can’t want or wait to feel validated in my purpose. God spoke it. I’m doing it. That’s it. At the end of the day, I answer to him and no one else. There are millions suffering in silence and wants to know that they are not alone in their struggles. That checking in even after being in remission for a while is not a failure. Having a diagnosis of mental illness is not a sign of failure. That there is no shame in having it and we can beat the stigma with it. That therapy and medication is just fine and having Jesus too is more than just fine! Jesus doesn’t see your faith as weak or not strong enough because you have an illness and because you seek treatment and take medication. Society would never say those things concerning someone’s faith or shame someone with diabetes or cancer for seeking treatment. We have to not allow them to do that to us with mental illness. Whether you’ve been hospitalized once or 20 times, I’ve learned the biggest things while in my last hospitalization, that even though me counting the years since my last hospitalization in 2014... that it was kind of toxic. Because sometimes healing isn’t always linear. Through this experience, I was able to witness the things I’ve blogged about on Things To Do For a Loved One in the Mental Hospital. I was able to see someone send flowers to a loved one that was a patient and I was able to witness an 18 year old Black girl share how her boyfriend encouraged her to check in. That brought tears in my eyes, honestly. In our group therapy, i had to let her know how it was so amazing to have such a supportive boyfriend.
So, I want encourage someone that may be reading this today that seeking treatment is self-care and wisdom. And if you need to check-in, it is okay. You are not alone! 💚 Til Next Time...
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|Headshot by Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN)|