Share, Connect, Belong
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Driving back to the station following my nightshift at 1 AM, when out of nowhere, a sense of disorientation and panic came over me.
My mind went from first gear to overdrive in a heartbeat, and suddenly, I felt I was either going to faint or have a heart attack. A foreign sense of deep darkness and dread came over me like nothing I had ever experienced before.
The next 8 days I experienced everything from nausea, lack of focus, unexplainable fear of the dark and being alone, perceived heart racing, shortness of breath, fatigue and worst of all, the feeling of going crazy and not being in control of my mind. I was in fight or flight and I could not figure out how or why I was there.
In the midst, I began to realize I had experienced severe anxiety, culminating with several panic attacks. I began to see a counselor in an attempt to undercover what was responsible for my new perceived reality. Thankfully I had a huge support network around me to help throughout the recovery process. I made progress and returned to work feeling better.
Fast forward 6 months and the severe anxiety returned. This time it was even worse.
Fear took hold of me and I began to wonder what this meant for the rest of my life, my family and my work. Hearing the joyful squeals of my three young girls would launch me into irritability and reaction. A seemingly insignificant and simple issue with the dishwasher turned into a full-fledged panic attack landing me in the Hospital. It was debilitating, embarrassing and most alarmingly it seemed out of my control.
I ended up seeing a psychologist, reengaged with my counselor for additional sessions, started journaling, focused on personal development and began taking medication to ease the anxiety. For the next month and a half I was off work on short-term disability. Slowly the panic diminished and the anxiety lessened as I learned valuable lessons about control, rest, routine, grace, forgiveness, stress and most importantly the role of community support.
I gained a true appreciation for mental health and the unique journey each one of us are on. I realized sharing my story gave others the freedom to share theirs without shame. I began to understand there was liberty in knowing:
I was not alone in my struggle.
I had a story to tell and it was part of a bigger story; a bigger struggle- the struggle to connect, relate, empathize and overcome. There was healing in banding together as a community, by being open, honest and vulnerable with each other.
I recognized holding shame in my circumstance and hiding in isolation within my struggle was the biggest hindrance to my healing.
Out of this experience I felt the need to form a community where shame and isolation were replaced by vulnerability, openness, acceptance, empathy and encouragement. Band Together was formed with the mission to create and cultivate a community of solidarity and support to those who are on the journey to pursuing healing in mental, emotional and physical health.
I believe there is a capacity to overcome in each of us but we can’t do it alone.
Our hearts are to provide a safe place for people to share, connect and belong in order to continue on the healing journey. I encourage you to share your story (anonymously) and join the band of people authentically pursuing health through vulnerability, connection and community!
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