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.
[TW: sexual abuse mention]
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Jocelyn and I am a queer, chronic fatigue thriver, recovery warrior and mental health advocate! I grew up in a large and very religious family in San Antonio, TX. From the outside looking in, I had a wonderful childhood. My family was very tight knit and we had money, we had privilege and we were always together. But there was more to my experience as a young girl than met the eye. For about 6 years of my childhood, I was sexually abused by a family member. What’s worse was that my home was not emotionally safe. The last thing that was acceptable was to disturb the peace and the dynamic of the family. I felt trapped and sure that the abuse was my fault. After all, the only thing my parents ever taught me about sex was that it was shameful and should not be discussed. I felt entirely alone. After “sex ed” in middle school (which was really only abstinence only education), I began to spiral into a very dark place. With no one to turn to and no adults safe to confide in, I hid my abuse and internalized my pain. This is when my battle with anorexia began. I felt empty inside and now I looked as weak as I felt.
My battle with eating disorders continued on and has shape shifted as through the years. I have battled anorexia, binge eating disorder, and orthorexia in most recent years. When I finally mustered up the courage to come out to my parents at age 18, it did not go well. After being told it was my choice, I was given 20 minutes (timed) to “get my shit on the street” and I was homeless for some time. In the 9 years since losing my family as I knew it, I have battled self harm on and off. Most recently, my PTSD has caught up with me in a more physical way and I have been battling chronic fatigue.
My official mental health diagnoses are PTSD, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. I am also proud to say that as of February of this year, I am in recovery for my eating disorder. While I do not want to be defined by my diagnoses, I am no longer ashamed or afraid to share them publicly.
When did your healing journey first begin?
My healing journey began about 3 years ago. I have been actively working on my mental health ever since I was first hospitalized back in 2011. But I feel that during that time I was simply trying to survive. Which is absolutely admirable in its own right. But it wasn’t until about 3 years ago when I really started to look inwards and give myself some compassion that I first started working towards healing.
What are some highs and lows you’ve encountered along the way?
Some highs have been :
-Being 2 years self-harm free!
-learning to set boundaries for myself
-finding and pursuing reiki/ energy healing
-discovering meditation and yoga
-realizing I can continue on no matter how mad of a day I had or how hard I’ve been on myself
-finding myself just as depressed as I was in the past, at times
-volatile mood swings that leave me feeling ashamed and guilty
-being hard on myself for not healing faster
-relapsing in recovery a couple of times
What has the process been like with finding an approach to treatment that works for you?
Finding what works for me as far as healthy coping mechanisms has been one of the hardest things. But I am grateful to have landed in a place where I feel I am having more good days than bad. And that, I am happy with and profoundly grateful for!
I have been on every anti depressant on the market as well as many mood stabilizers. While I completely respect and support other people’s decision to use medication, I found that it wasn’t the most helpful avenue for me due to the side effects my body experienced. For the past 3 years, I have been seeking natural methods as much as possible. The things that have been the most helpful for me to manage both my bipolar and PTSD symptoms have been Reiki & other energy work, Internal Family Systems therapy, yoga, and meditation.
What is one thing you didn’t expect to learn on this journey?
I certainly didn’t expect that sitting quietly with my feelings and thoughts would benefit me but it has helped tremendously. It has helped me see that not only is my experience valid, but that the pain, anxiety and anguish does 100% of the time, dissipate eventually. Present moment awareness is a very powerful tool!
Where are you at today with everything?
Nowadays I am fighting the good fight on a daily basis towards self love, healing, and radical acceptance! Not every day is a good one and I don’t feel like I love myself or my body every day. But, despite that fact, I am profoundly proud of myself because I am learning that my worth is not dependent on whether or not I feel worthy at any given moment. I am learning to be comfortable in my discomfort. Knowing that every bad day I have ever had, I have survived.
I am in therapy and continue to dive into the patterns I have built up in my psyche due to my past experiences of abuse and abandonment. It is incredibly hard work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finding peace in giving kindness and compassion to others through reiki and that has been very healing for me, as well.
Living with bipolar is very challenging. The mood swings take me by surprise just as much as they do my loved ones. It can be so hard not to be overcome with guilt and self hatred in those moments. But I know I would never talk to a friend of mine struggling with this the way I speak to myself about it. So I have been working on affirmations and more positive self talk in conjunction with therapy.
I do also have chronic fatigue so that has taken a toll on my mental health as of recently. Not having the energy to do things I need to do much less things that bring me joy (like dancing) has been very hard for me. Some days I find myself overwhelmed with anger and resentment at my body for not working the way “it should”. But I am trying as best I can to savor the moments I do feel well and remind myself that my body has endured a great deal. Despite it all, it’s never given up on me.
Where can people follow you on social media?