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.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Courtney. I am 34 years old. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with my own private practice. I started therapy for the first time in my second semester of my freshman year of college. And started medication at that time as well. I’ve been in therapy and on some sort of medication regime since then. 2019 has been the year of my greatest growth. And while a lot of days have their struggles, I have more hope than ever and I cope better than I ever have. I am a completely different person than I was before my major depressive episode, but I am fever grateful for who I’ve become.
At what point did your healing journey begin and what lead you to the route that you did?
I can’t remember the particular reason why I started therapy my freshman year of college, but I feel my journey started when I was able to identify and label how I had always felt (since about 12 years old). Now I knew why I was always nauseous, why I always felt impending doom, why I couldn’t control my emotions– because I had an anxiety disorder. The counselor suggested I go to my PCP and ask about medication. I got on Zoloft and continued therapy and felt a lot better. Over the years I was in and out of therapy. Over the years I was both compliant and non-compliant with my medication. I was relatively stable, but not really healing, not growing my emotional maturity, not working through trauma. I feel my healing started only a year and a half ago.
What were some of the highs and lows you encountered along the way?
I managed life pretty well and thrived in my schooling and in gaining independence for the majority of my 20’s. I had my first major depressive episode starting around January 2017 that lasted a year. I almost didn’t survive. It was the first time I truly felt suicidal. I had encountered a lot of loss starting July of 2013 when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That is when my grief started. Over the next 4 years, I lost my marriage, my father died in 2014, I ended a 2 year relationship January of 2016 and my mother died 6 months later.
What was the process like with finding a treatment that worked for you?
Over the years I’ve had 3 different therapists that were all very helpful in their own way. I have been with my current one for 4 years. I’ve tried 6 different mental health medications. I am currently on 3.
What is something you didn’t expect to learn from this journey?
That it’s going to be okay. But you got to work hard for it. My depression lifted in May. What helped was an increase in one of my medications along with EMDR therapy. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt– hope. I hadn’t had hope for the past 5 years. I started getting serious about doing the work in therapy and attending weekly and I made a commitment to myself to take my medication every single day. And, you know what? It may not be easy. But yes, it will be okay!
Where are you at today with everything?
“If you can’t produce your own dopamine, store bought is fine!” Medication saved my life and therapy improved it. Since my depression lifted in May, the past few months have been transformational. I continue to be med compliant, consistently attend therapy, and have begun taking responsibility for regulating my own emotions. I am the best version of myself that I have ever been. And I would endure the past 5 years over again if I had to in order to keep this version of myself. She was worth the all the pain.