FIT GIRL INTERRUPTED
Mental illness has many faces, so you shouldn't judge others because you have no idea what battles they are fighting. You may feel ashamed of your own story but it may inspire others and stop the stigma. Mental illness can be crippling and not everyone may understand, but that’s okay.
If you read my story tab you can understand where it all began. However most don’t know by looking from the outside that from 8 years old I started suffering from anxiety or that my first episode of depression was at the age of 16 years old. At the time I wasn't diagnosed and it wasn't a topic often discussed. On the outside, I would smile but what was happening on the inside was a different story.
After a traumatic event at 19 years old, doctors immediately prescribed me medication but I wasn't given any other means of care. My decision was to try alternative means of natural healing on my own. Although I could share more, let’s fast forward.
I worked successfully as a Manager for 11 years, where I eventually found myself running two stores and overseeing around 25 employees. Outside of work, I kept busy with another passion of mine; fitness and wellness. I was a competitor with the Canadian Physique Association, trained six days a week after work, trained others, and became a sponsored athlete with various fitness organizations. If you have followed me on my fitness journey, you could see all of the activity I was involved in from Olympia to Photoshoots to an athletic team.
As you can imagine, it was devastating in 2016 when I notice a shift in my mental and physical health. I went from feeling on top of the world with a competitive and successful career, to completely unable to manage my mental and physical well-being. During this time, I continued to work and attempted to push through these challenges and believed it was something I could cope with. I began to experience debilitating panic attacks and anxiety due to heightening stress in my career.
I finally sought out prescription medicine for my declining mental health after using natural intervention for years. I was prescribed a medication for chronic depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety by a physician. As a means to mitigate the stress levels in my career and life, I willingly transferred to a lower volume store in hopes of putting my mental and physical health first. I thought that maybe I was just doing too much and I could spend more time working on my passion. Despite this, my symptoms still progressed.
Additionally, the summer of 2016 marked the first time I began to experience physical symptoms that appeared without reason. After eating, I would become covered in heated rashes, experience dizziness/vertigo, and nausea. With concern, I sought medical attention from several physicians that included many inconclusive tests and treatments.
While coping with varying changes in my life because of my symptoms, I was sexually harassed by a superior at a work function in the following February 2017. The situation rapidly declined my mental health further. I became riddled with paranoia and anxious thoughts. I was unable to sleep at night, progressively began to become more anti-social and avoidant of social gatherings (something which I never used to shy away from), and felt unable to work as I normally did.
The combination of these stressors resulted in a further decline in thr quality of my daily work. I became disoriented, experienced memory loss, had difficulty concentrating, and became increasingly overwhelmed with life, work responsibilities and balance. My body began to go into flight or fight mode from this stress. Other symptoms that were present and documented were: gut health issues, lethargy, low blood pressure, hair loss, and sudden symptoms similar to a severe allergic reaction (swelling, difficulty breathing, redness, itchiness, vomiting, and diarrhea), and sleep disturbances continued.
When my physical symptoms progressed I sought help from a Naturopathic Doctor and was finally diagnosed with Small intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth, Histamine intolerance, Micronutrient malabsorption, biliary insufficiency and GAS. Additional co-morbidities include dysautonomia, androgenic alopecia, allergies and chemical sensitivities.
The motivation to follow my passion, work and daily activities started dwindling, I began isolating myself and my family advised me to see my psychiatrist and explain the circumstances. After consultation with my Doctor, it was established that a sick leave from work would be the best plan of action. I was on short term disability for 3 months suffering from Chronic Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks.
I was then prescribed a new medication in May 2017. Little did I know this would trigger my descent into mental illness futher. I stopped going to the gym and it would be a long time before i could go back.
While taking this medication I experienced severe side effects. These side effects included, constant fatigue, irritability, mind racing, headaches and nausea. These side-effects kept me house ridden. By the end of May, I began experience suicidal ideation and spoke with my psychiatrist who suggested I admit myself to the hospital for my mental health. This was when I was admitted to the hospital, where I was ended up staying a week as they monitored and changed my medications. When I was released, I was then prescribed more medication. I came to the realizion that the medicine swapping was becoming excessive and unneccessary .
After my stay at the hospital, I was feeling positive about my recovery process. To my dismay, however, I was to experience yet another decline in my state of well-being. I promptly became dependent on my family and friends to care for me.
As a result of my state of mental and physical health, I let my house become unkempt and required the help of a friend to clean it with me, I began ordering items online as to avoid going outside in public.
I removed myself from social engagements. I went from being involved with the public every day at work and in fitness, to feeling fearful every moment and withdrawn from those I care about. This all occurred despite my attempts to motivate myself to overcome my pitfalls.
After a rollercoaster of results induced by my medicine, I decided to take more direct initiative. I downloaded Audibles books on health and wellness, specifically about gut health and natural medicine, which I have referenced for you. I finally realized that although I was eating ‘healthy', I really wasn’t concerned about the quality of the ingredients and what they were doing to my body.
Thanks to friends directly involved, I started implementing a more holistic lifestyle including a ketogenic meal plan, supplements, and essential oils. I also began working towards regaining my spiritual health. Gradually I was able to stop taking nearly all my medications and lost the weight I had gained from this difficult time. I ditched one product at a time and switched to chemical free alternatives, organic produce and hormone/anti-biotic free grass fed meat. I eventually healed my small intestinal bacteria overgrowth but also discovered I have the celiac gene. Thanks to the motivation of others and this shift in my lifestyle, I began very light forms of exercise at home where I felt safe.
Thankfully, this journey also taught me that I needed to get back in touch with my spiritual abilities. I started mentoring with Alva Folkes once a week. She gave me the confidence to be who I was meant to be. Every day I make an effort towards my recovery and healing process from the prosoective of mind, body and soul.
My experiences may connect to you or someone you know. They say that by sharing your story you not only heal yourself but you may heal someone else.
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