BREAKING THE STIGMA
Since 1949 the United States has recognized May as Mental Health Awareness month (MHAM). Founded by then National association for #MentalHealth, their mission was to bring awareness and education to the public on mental health and wellness, while reducing the stigma around mental illness!
Maybe this topic hits home for you (as it does for me) or maybe this is the first time hearing about the movement to break the stigma. Wherever it is that this finds you, my hope is that you can join the movement to break the stigma.
While this movement has been around for 73 years, it's fairly new to me. Growing up in a Hispanic household coupled with a generation where somethings were best swept under the rug (or so we thought) mental health just wasn't ever really a table talk at home or even a topic I learned about in school.
With mental health problems on the rise, especially after the pandemic, this movement is really making a buzz through social media platforms and I am here to add to the awareness, speaking my truth and #breakthestigma behind the hush hush mentality around mental health.
As I mentioned before, this topic hits home for me. I grew up in a household where even though we didn't talk about it, it was very much so present. My mom fell victim to depression and while at the time I didn't quite understand what it was, I was there watching front row as a little girl. The ups, the downs and all the in-betweens that came with the medications and the actually illness itself.
Fast forward to 2019, I found myself a victim to depression, postpartum and in the midst of a deployment. Just like my mother, I didn't talk about it and In the moment it just felt like the easiest thing to do, less explaining I had to do. While also avoiding getting labeled "unstable" because in all honestly that ignited a deep fear, flooding my body with anxiety. So I did what I knew best, I suppressed the emotions and slowly but surely everyday felt more like just surviving than thriving! Until finally living in survival mode (aka overactive sympathetic nervous system) caught up to me, the emotions became stuck stress and the stuck stress manifested into physical form or better known as dis-ease in the body..
In October of 2019, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Celiac to be specific. According the my PCP, "Its life changing but as long as you stay away from gluten, you'll be okay." Literally, thats all the advice I got leaving the doctors office that day. You could imagine how lost in the sauce I was, he was right it was life changing but not in the way he described it! I would have never imagined that having an autoimmune disease actually meant I'd feel it physically, mentally and emotionally. My lifestyle, internal/external environment mattered more than ever now and everything I did was pretty much like adding fuel to a fire.
Shortly after my diagnosis, the pandemic hit and my stress levels went through the roof (as many of ours did), but if you havn't noticed yet, stress reeks havoc on the body is more ways than one. Not only was my autoimmune disease at its worst, my mental health became a never ending rollercoaster of #brainfog, #anxiety, #depression and complete disconnect from myself and my world around me. Vulnerable moment here, but the moment I knew I needed help was when my husband was hugging me, trying to comfort me during a flareup and in the midst of one of my rollercoaster episodes. I felt nothing... absolutely nothing, no emotion what so ever and none in sight for days to come. I knew this wasn't normal, as my love for him runs deep, yet I felt nothing. I was beginning to feel broken and shattered.
And just like that, I made the choice to begin my holistic wellness journey in hopes to gain my happiness back. I completely immersed myself in learning about the human body and alternative healing methods. Ones that looked at the body as a whole, ones that worked on getting to the root causes instead of putting bandaids over symptoms. It was then that I made the decision to seek external help, as I knew this was not a journey I was meant to walk alone. Not the normal approach society encourages, I looked for professionals that didn't fall under insurance coverage.
MY TOP 3 STEPS THAT LAUNCHED MY HEALING JOURNEY
1) I started working with a #functionalnutritionist Melody Sapien at https://www.melodysapien.com . Not only is Melody extremely talented at what she does, she's also an autoimmine warrior herself. I have never felt so heard and understood, but at the same time completely amazed on how much influence the food we eat has on our mood. Naturally, my why personality ending up taking me down the best rabbit hole of figuring out why food is really a mood. Turns our our #gut is better yet known as the second brain and our #digestion process and gut health has one of the biggest influences on over all health and wellness, especially our mental health! I learned that not only is the gut in constant communication with the brain via the Vagus nerve, but also is responsible for producing several hormones. One of those being serotonin aka, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for producing feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation. I finally started to not only feel better but also put the pieces of the puzzle together. I noticed every time my digestion was off, inflammation would skyrocket in my body, specifically in my joints and in my brain! I guess you could say food really is mood!
2) I started working with a Clarity coach Abigail Gazda at https://www.abigailgazda.com
I came across Abigail through a dear friend of mine and immediately knew I had to work with her! You may be Wondering what the heck does a clarity coach has to do with mental health and in a simple form everything mindset! I originally came with her trying to find clarity in my career field, but being the expert that she is, she redirected me to an area of my life that needed some TLC. My childhood and my relationship with my mom. Very wuickly some childhood traumas surfaced that I had no idea were there. I didn't have a horrible traumatic childhood, I grew up in a loving home. Yeah we had our issues, but what family doesn't? But the truth is #traumas come in bit T's and Little T's and if left unaddented you will secretly be holding them in your mind, body & soul. It was there that I learned that not only was I carrying them throughout my lifetime but I could even eventually pass those traumas on to my children and their children! This then took me down another journey of ancestral healing which ill share later in depth.
3) Thanks to Miss Abigail, my interest for deepening my knowledge on trauma was sparked. So I decided to enroll in a continuing my education as a Yoga instructor. In 2021 i enrolled and received a #traumainformed certification from Yoga Medicine. I normally teach yoga to first responders and though this would be a great tool to have under my belt to help others. however, I quickly learned that in the process of helping others, I was actually able to help myself by understaning what was really goin on. I got to understand the brain, and how certain events/traumas in life have a huge effect on its function, no matter how small the T's are. It was there that I first learned about the #Polyvagal Theory.
What exactly is the Polyvagal theory? According to https://www.verywellmind.com/polyvagal-theory-4588049
(where you can learn more in depth on PV Theory), "the polyvagal theory proposes that the evolution of the autonomic nervous system provides the neurophysiological substrates for adaptive behavioral strategies. It further proposes that physiological state limits the range of behavior and psychological experience." And in even simpler forms, the neuroscience behind the poly vagal theory has broken down the automatic nervous system into 3, which particularly effect or mind body and behavior when traumatized. While this approach to mental health may not be as appealing to everyone (especially mainstream medicine) it was a huge piece of the puzzle for me on my journey to living a happier healthier life!
At this point in my wellness journey, I could go on for days about all the different approaches I have taken and learned about. So I'll end it here for now, but stay tuned as I will forever continue to share my journey in hopes to turn my mess into a message and my pains into my purpose. If speaking up and sharing about my journey can help not just to break the stigma but even 1 other person who may be feeling all the feels that come with the rollercoaster of mental heath, then ill forever continue to muster up the courage and get vulnerable about my journey, while also sharing alternative methods that have contributed to my health and wellness journey!
After the past couple of years I think its safe to say we have all experienced some sort of stress/trauma in multiply ways, but the reality is stress/traumas have been around long before the pandemic hit. Some of us came into the pandemic in a stressful state of mind to begin with. While this crucial time in history has played a major impact of populations world wide, I truly believe that individually we can be part of the change and together a movement can be made. We all have a story and while I respect that we may not all be ready to share, for those that are ready to speak their truth, I stand with with in #breakingthestigma!