I recall watching a documentary about Kurt Cobain in the mid 1990s. The psychiatrist being interviewed stated that most people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are mentally ill. I looked down while in a stupor at my pile of marijuana and my glass of rum and coke, and began to see the correlation in my own life.
Like so many others before me, I was self-medicating to deal with the effects of chemical imbalances in my brain and my painful traumatic past. Not long after this experience, I was rushed to the ER because I felt like I was having a cardiac event but was discharged with the diagnosis of a panic attack. No wonder, at the time I was under a great deal of financial strain and felt stuck in a marriage from hell.
I was told these attacks were manifestations of chronic depression. The doctor prescribed Paxil and Klonopin. The meds helped, but I foolishly tried for years to strike a balance between smoking dope, getting drunk and nurturing my mental, physical and spiritual health. This was nothing more then a complete and utter failure.
I had gone through a tumultuous period at one of the best jobs I ever had. I was selling new homes in a golf course community so fast I couldn’t keep up with the mountain of paperwork. In about six months I was outselling people who had been with the company for years. Due to the stress, my insomnia was off the charts and my emotions were barely under control. I found myself crashing into a state of spiritual, physical and psychological decompensation. I walked out of the office in tears from one of the most lucrative and promising jobs I had ever held. Looking back, I realize that I was having a severe episode of major depression.
I reached out to trusted family members and felt the love and support that I needed to finally pick up the phone and make an appointment with a psychiatrist. The diagnosis was devastating. I researched manic depression thoroughly and came to the conclusion that my doctor was correct. I suffered with a mental illness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Without describing my battles with addiction, I will just say that when I stopped the destructive behavior and sought psychiatric treatment, I was finally able to stabilize my mental and emotional well-being. As the fog in my brain lifted, I was able to take the advice of a trusted friend and began therapy from a licensed counselor for my symptoms. Thankfully, I have been able to begin to put my life back together.
I have found the secret to success with severe depression and PTSD is a three-pronged attack and it requires doing the little things consistently every day. It involves a mind, body and spirit approach. I started reading the Bible and praying every day. I had the faith necessary to ask for Divine intervention and I received it. I changed the way I cared for my body. It is imperative that a depressed person get proper exercise and eat a healthy diet. No booze or illicit drugs. For me, I have found the benefit of psychotropic medications to address my brain chemistry by resetting the chemical imbalances that exist in the minds of the clinically depressed.
Lastly, it is critical to find gratitude for the good in our lives, no matter how small. It is only then that we can build the faith and optimism needed to persist and repeat positive habits. Getting into the practice of positive self-talk is key. Consistency and repetition in ALL three areas of physical, mental and spiritual health are the only ways to successfully combat the overwhelming and almost unbearable feelings associated with PTSD and depression.
At this time I am still struggling with the PTSD symptoms on a daily basis, but they have been softened as I keep up on the three-pronged attack. I have chosen to combat the PTSD along with the depression with a professional therapist. As I continue to nurture my spiritual, mental and physical being with healthy habits, my condition has continued to improve, and yours can, too.