Several weeks ago, in the podcast Raw and Vulnerable, I began sharing some of the paths I traveled along my quest to wellness. I discussed mindset, gratitude, positive affirmations, not being a victim and attracting positive energy with our thoughts.
Now I want to go to the other side of healing. Practical things to move the needle.
At the time of my bout of depression and anxiety I was a mother of three and the youngest was 2 years old. I was not able to function nor be of any help to my husband and children. I knew I needed to change the situation as it was. I went to my general practitioner and told him, ‘I need a doctor to help me.’
He recommended that I try a local psychiatrist. LESSON #1. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BEGIN ANY TREATMENT! After hearing my saga with panic attacks and my nosedive into depression and anxiety he prescribed medication. I am highly sensitive to all medications. This one ratched up my anxiety immediately. I had suicidal thoughts and landed up in the ER.
Turning to my aunt who is a highly regarded therapist I asked for a referral for the best psychiatrist she knew. Dr. Samuel Pauker was her recommendation and he was a pivotal factor in my ability to heal.
Dr. Pauker’s initial intake visit lasted about three hours. He took time to listen to my background before and during the mental morose. With patience he explained what my body and mind had dealt with and were still dealing with. He encouraged me to ask questions so that I would fully grasp my situation and what I needed to do to overcome it. Then he explained the need of medication and the likelihood of tweaking it until we hit on something that worked properly FOR ME. Some of the medications, Dr. Pauker clarified, would be temporary and others likely long term. The noise of my mind needed to be quieted in order for me to really get well. But he emphasised, medication was only a crutch to be used to enable me to do the real work. I would need to start yoga, meditation, prayer, exercise. Medication alone would never get me where I wanted to be – a healthy, happy and functional member of society.
Dr. Pauker encouraged me to be in touch with him as often as necessary and to keep a journal of how I was feeling and reacting with the medication. I left his office convinced that someday I would be my old self. Little did I know that what I became was a much improved version of the old Matana. Wiser; able to face difficult issues and deal with them, rather than running from them.
I also needed to see a therapist. I had one previously but now I needed someone who could deal with my new state of affairs. I asked around until I found the person who fit the bill. Go back to LESSON #1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Keep searching until you feel comfortable with the therapist and you are getting what you need.
My best friend from before I was married was a yoga buff. She started her day early with a walk, meditation and yoga. She once convinced me to come with her. It was agony for me. Being alone with my thoughts was torture. Now Dr. Pauker insisted I needed to do it.
Yoga eventually became my island of safety. I did it daily. The women there became my friends and support system. Even though I didn’t share much of my situation, they were warm, accepting and encouraging. The teacher told me to do it at my own pace. There were times I just lay on my mat and breathed. I wouldn’t get into any poses. But the tears would come, releasing something hurtful within me. I would leave lighter and calmer. I continued doing yoga daily for about 2-3 years until I became pregnant and my ob/gyn instructed me to stop. I can’t stress enough how important yoga is,. The breathing helps to open ourselves, to release pain, increase blood flow and teaches us how to be still with our thoughts.
A lovely woman, Rebecca Ness, who reflects love, kindness, calm and healing taught me meditation. Every week there was a meditation class. I began doing it on my own at home daily. First one minute, then three, five and eventually fifteen minutes. I realized I needed it not only for my mental health, but for sanity in dealing with everyday life. The more I practiced meditation, the calmer I became. There is a book by Dan Harris, 10% Happier which I highly recommend.
At this point I had been on medication for a year. I would say I felt 70% better. I was carpooling, cooking, hosting and functioning, but there was still a cloud that hung over me. A fog enveloped me and I wasn’t as sharp as I used to be. I thought that if I changed my medication or shifted off my meds a bit I would improve. The meds were switched and I became hyper and gained 40-50 pounds. This is not what i wanted.
I felt that after doing all the internal work, the time might have come for me to be able to stop medication. Under Dr. Pauker’s supervision, in the next 6 months I slowly was weaned off of medication. A very small dose of mood stabilizer was all that remained.
The next step I was looking at was getting pregnant. My ob/gyn warned me that if I did become pregnant I would need to be off ALL medication – even the mood stabilizer. To complicate matters I was experiencing early menopause and didn’t seem to have much chance of becoming pregnant and sustaining the pregnancy.
A short time later, to my delight, I was pregnant. The doctor told me to stop my medication which I did. The results were that my hormones went wild and I had a panic attack. My ob/gyn explained that I needed to get through the first trimester and then likely my hormones would settle down.
In order to navigate the next three months I hired an energy practitioner. I spoke to her three times a week. We would do mind/energy work to get myself to a state of ‘I’ll be okay.’ I had done EFT and read books about energy healing. I made it through the crucial three months and I was on a high. I didn’t need to take medication was now a new and improved Matana. Even better than before the panic attacks.
As we got closer to my due date I became anxious after hearing stories of people falling into a post partum depression. My energy practitioner helped me work on my fear and get ready for the birth.
The baby was born and I felt amazing. I was exercising, doing yoga, and meditation. Exercise is so important. If you enjoy the outdoors get out there, walk, run, jog or bike. Find what resonates with you.
Looking back I realize that I needed to get on medication in order to get off of medication. I believe that had I not waited so long to get help, but had started with yoga, meditation, and exercise I might have been saved the severity of my situation and would not have needed to be medicated. Some people need medication for the rest of their lives and that is okay. If it brings you to a happier, healthier state, then that is the way to do it.
Another segment of my life that I examined and subsequently altered, was my eating habits. I noticed how I was adversely affected by eating sugar, coffee and chocolate. Healthy eating is important not only for our physical health but also for our mental health. I stopped and asked myself, ‘What is going on in my mind when I reach for that cookie? What is that inner voice telling me?’ I try to drink more water and eliminated carbonated stuff. When I wasn’t able to eat Ari would use a juicer to prepare drinks from celery, carrots, oranges, filled with vitamins and it infused me with energy.
Vitamin D is very important. If you’re feeling low on joy and happiness, see if you may not be missing Vitamin D. Research the good brands.
In summary, surround yourself with positive people. I got that when I went to yoga. The women there were mindful and positive people. Get a good psychiatrist, therapist, energy practitioner. Exercise, meditate, do yoga, eat healthy foods.
You live one life and gift yourself the gift of wellness,. When you work so hard to get well, you will be like a sumo wrestler in wellness. You’ll feel so accomplished.
I give you all a blessing to find the right cocktail that works for you and that you’ll find the time to implement it. To see that you are worthy of gifting it to yourself. Choose health. Choose life. Let it come easily and with clarity.
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