The healing process is such an interesting topic to explore. Every story is unique but often the same as well. We’re all working towards something in regards to a better future and improved health, among other things. It isn’t an easy journey to navigate nor is it ever one that seems particularly black and white. In this series, we will hear from different individuals within the mental health community about their healing process, how it began, what the journey has been like and where they are today.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Rachel Brady, and I’m first and foremost a woman in recovery – without that, I would have never been able to live my most authentic, creative, and service-based life. I also am a Southern California native obsessed with food truck finds, an Air Force wife, a rescue fur mommy, and an avid weightlifter. I started my mental health journey in college when I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and C-PSTD.
When did your healing journey first begin?
I had my first panic attack in 8th grade, and it was the first time that I felt out of control in my own body. I slowly started noticing symptoms of depression and anxiety throughout high school, but it wasn’t until I started college that alcohol abuse poured gasoline over my mental health. Through an intervention with my closest sorority sisters, I tried therapy for the first time – even though I felt ashamed and even pissed off that I “had to” go. But after spending my whole life believing that I had to be perfect, do perfect, and could control my mind at all times, learning about mental disorders and their validity was the first step towards true healing.
What are some of the highs and lows you have encountered along the way?
Oh, man. The first high definitely had to be choosing to show up for myself no matter what. Even in the muck of my alcohol addiction and mental health struggles, I knew that there had to be some glimmer of hope on the other side, even if I couldn’t see it at the time. My lows included being ostracized by my peer group in college, particularly men, acting out in blackouts, and isolating during major life changes such as graduation and moving across the country. The lowest low, in my opinion, was attempting to end my life in October 2017, and subsequently being involuntarily committed to 72 hours. After that, I voluntarily checked myself into rehab for a whole month, tipping the scales once again towards hope and another high point. Funnily enough, the highs and the lows are all relative – I now look back at my lows and notice that they helped to swing the pendulum the other way and sparked new breakthroughs in my healing and recovery.
What was the process like trying to find out the an approach to treatment that worked for you?
It definitely has been a process of trial and error to find a treatment/self care plan that is sustainable. The biggest common denominator, however, was cutting alcohol out of the equation. There was no question that it provided nothing beneficial for my life and would only dampen the breakthroughs that I did have in other aspects of healing. Since we are a military family, moving to two different states within three years has affected my ability to find and form a bond with a therapist, so it’s an ongoing process as well. However, I am excited to have found medication that has balanced out my brain and helps me manage anxiety and depression on a more level scale. It is always a work in progress, and always will be, but internalizing that I am worthy of healing has made all the difference.
What is one thing you didn’t expect to learn from this journey?
One thing that surprised me in particular was how it would affect my storytelling capabilities. As a communications major in college, I’ve always been pretty adept at writing papers or analyzing rhetoric – but when I spoke my truth and came from a vulnerable place, words flowed out like I had never experienced before. That’s why I’m so adamant about helping other women who may still carry shame around, whatever that may look like. Once you’ve cracked open and looked inside, there is a story inside all of us that is needed in this world.
Where are you at today with everything?
Today, I am 16 months sober with a passion for helping other women own their narrative, whatever that may be. My main focus in content creation involve sobriety training wheels, destigmatizing mental health in daily life, and celebrating the small wins in recovery. I currently utilize journaling, exercise, meditation, virtual support, and my husband/puppy as my recovery life jackets. I’m also in the middle of adjusting medication situated for my anxiety and depression, which is a resource to be immensely grateful for in healthcare. Although these are conditions to manage on a daily basis, I’m proud to be a voice for normalizing and encouraging mental health awareness.