Anxiety and depression. The two words have become such a part of my identity that sometimes they lose meaning. Sometimes I forget to talk about them and acknowledge that others are suffering too (it can’t be as bad as mine I think).

Sometimes I look at others and wonder if they have inner demons too, and how they manage to conceal them so well. Then I remember that I conceal them too. It’s important to talk about mental health, and important to recognize that someone going through mental health issues or mental illness can also be joyful, compassionate (often more so than the average person), creative, loving, and passionate.

In 2009, my body seemed to turn on me – I started experiencing intense muscle spasms, headaches, and felt off-balance and disoriented. I went to doctor after doctor and was eventually diagnosed with dystonia (a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms). As I watched the videos on YouTube about the potential paralysis and disability that could occur, I was devastated. I thought that at age 30, my life was over. I took many muscle relaxant drugs and was in a lot of emotional and physical pain.

Eventually I learned that I didn’t have dystonia at all, but was suffering from burn out, stress, and emotional trauma that had manifested in this very physical way. They called it ‘conversion disorder’ but I’ve since learned that the term has a negative connotations, and is synonymous with hysteria, a term used to disregard women’s suffering and basically say that “it’s all in your head”. Which it may be, but it’s far more complex than that. What I was experiencing was in my head, my heart, and in my body. I’m not entirely sure what caused it and what continues to irk me, but I try to see the beauty in the pain and in the journey. And practice gratitude as much as I can for all the beautiful things that the universe has bestowed upon me. And there are many.

Never hesitate to reach out to someone if you’re going through a hard time. No one can do it alone… we are truly all in this together. ❤️

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