“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” ~ J.K. Rowling
It was the summer of 2014, and I didn’t have a care in the world.
At least I thought I didn’t, until the night before my friend’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid, and I felt a strong sense of responsibility to help things go smoothly.
You see, I have had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and anxiety my whole life and so this event triggered my desire for perfection. I lay down in bed, having just had my usual two sips from my water bottle—the routine that just felt “right” to my brain. Completely illogical, but it filled an inexplicable need.
But as I lay there, I had a lump in my throat and began to cough. Uh-oh. I was going to have to sit up, messing up my routine, and have another sip of water. The horror. So I did, and as I lay back down, I felt anxious and fidgety from this disruption, unable to get comfortable.
Cue the anxious thoughts about not being able to sleep. Cue the thunderstorm. Cue the panic attacks, which I’d never really had before. Not like that. Everything went wrong at once, and my mind couldn’t deal. I stared at the ceiling, clenching my sheets in my hands, twisting the corners of them desperately, methodically.
I literally did not sleep one wink, which I had never experienced until that night—and I love and need my sleep. I felt insanely tired and just plain terrible the whole day of the wedding. I wasn’t able to enjoy myself or act “normal,” and I hated myself for it.
This all set off a nightmare chain reaction for a couple of months of hardly any sleep at all, which caused me to throw up from exhaustion and severe anxiety from not sleeping. It was a vicious cycle. My anxiety and panic reached such a height that I thought I would surely die. Or become totally crazy.
So, I became desperate, and went to see a psychiatrist for the first time in my life. I had never felt like I needed medicine in the past, and had always done what I could to avoid it.
The level of apathy and almost disdain I received from two different psychiatrists and the system in general was startling. The first psychiatrist put me on medicine that made me feel suicidal, and the second one put me on medicine that made me unusually angry, which was a listed side effect for the drug.
When I questioned this side effect for my own well-being and pointed out some research I’d done on the drug, he exploded in an egomaniacal rage.
“How dare you question me! If you’re going to be my patient you will do as I say. I’ve never seen that happen to another patient before in my entire 30 years in this profession.”
He shouted all of this at me, and continued his tirade for a good five minutes. I was shocked. The very person who was supposed to care so much about me treated me like sh*t and disregarded my personal experiences. I felt totally hopeless—a true Dark Night of the Soul.
After being yelled at and lectured by the psychiatrist (who then decided to put me on a different medicine), I resigned myself to believe that I’d be on medication for the rest of my life—or put in an insane asylum.
But then my mom, who had been watching me struggle and doing everything she could to help, had an idea. She knew there had to be a better way.
A newfound clarity and intuition washed over her, and she found a natural vitamin called Inositol, also called Vitamin B8, that took the place of the medication. No side-effects. It helped with my panic and sleep almost instantly, and the anxiety, OCD, and depression improved soon after.
As time passed, I got into yoga and meditation. These practices were the best medicine for my mind, body, and soul. I was also introduced to Reiki, which soothed my overactive mind.
Now, almost three years later, I am the happiest and most positive I’ve ever been, with zero pharmaceutical drugs to thank for it. I drink my Inositol powder mixed in tea morning and night, do yoga, and meditate.
I also discovered I was sensitive to gluten, which exacerbated everything psychological I was experiencing. I recommend the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter for a further understanding of this gut-brain connection. Now I am on a gluten-free diet, which has helped me tremendously as well.
I also try to think more positively, love myself more, and acknowledge that things are indeed out of my control sometimes. I can’t be perfect all the time. Nobody can, so why put that pressure on myself?
I am by no means trying to convince anyone they don’t need traditional medication or need to do exactly what I did to help myself. Medication might work well for some people. Everyone is different. I want to emphasize the power of advocating for ourselves, and that we each are always our own best advocates. Yes, doctors are essential to an extent, but ultimately, we know our bodies and brains better than anyone else.
We must trust our intuition. Follow our guts. Do our research. Take an alternative route if that feels better and safer. Not blindly take suggestions to do something drastic without checking in with ourselves.
That Dark Night of the Soul taught me so much about my life and things I needed to change. Rock bottom became my way up, leading me to the light, to my passion for natural health, and to helping others by telling my story.
So, no matter what we choose to do to help ourselves physically, emotionally, or mentally, we must remember to stay empowered and stand firmly in what we know is best for us.
Author: Molly Johnson
Image: Global Panorama/Flickr
Editor: Callie Rushton