For the past 5 ½ years I have concentrated on one thing and one thing only … getting my son’s and my own mental health in tip top shape. Finding the answer to decades of issues with my diagnosis of bipolar illness in 2009 was just the beginning for me. At the same time, my son, age 8 at the time, was diagnosed with mood disorder, ADHD, and General Anxiety Disorder. Not only was I overwhelmed with my own diagnosis, I also had a little boy who desperately needed help as well. Life seemed hopeless to me and I nearly gave up. I am not exactly sure how I made it through, but I survived, and chose to keep fighting. I know now that my parent’s love, my faith and my God’s grace played a huge part. In this time I found hope and strength to handle the difficult problems in my life, as well as guidance. I was lost without it. That being said, your higher power may not be the same as mine … but I believe that everyone can find and use their own higher power, whatever it may be, in difficult situations in their own lives and find the strength and guidance they need to make it through.
The therapy and psychiatrist appointments became my life. Not only my own, but my young son’s as well. My life revolved around appointments, how to pay all the doctor bills, and weekly visits to the pharmacy to fill medicines that were changing constantly. It took the first 2 ½ – 3 years of different medicine combinations before the right one was found for me. My son went through the same thing, although on a smaller level, with less changes. Patience is a necessity while being treated for any illness, whether mental or physical. Everyone’s minds and bodies react differently to not only different medications, but therapy as well. I have heard too many stories of people who have given up on treatment, due to lack of patience with the process. Although I am quite an impatient person, I found the strength to bear with the process and it was well worth it.
While I was busy regaining my mental health, I completely neglected my physical body. I gained over 80 pounds in the first year due to the side effects of the medications I was on. Although I successfully took off 40 of those pounds, I still have some work to do. I put my physical health on the back burner, as I was overwhelmed with all the doctor and therapy appointments, not to mention the growing medical bills … yearly physical wellness appointments were an afterthought. I knew that in the back of my mind all along … but still over 5 years passed before I went to a physician or dentist. Actually, I didn’t visit the “regular” doctor until I recently became physically ill this past August. After many sick days, medications, and tests, it was discovered that I had a benign tumor growing in my body. This was something that could have been found and treated with medication years ago, if I had only gone for a yearly checkup. Now I am facing major surgery in two weeks to remove the tumor. I also didn’t go to the dentist during this time and recently ended up having many thousands of dollars of dental work done.
Therefore, my point is obvious … that we need to take care of our WHOLE self – mind, body and soul. Not just some of it, some of the time, but ALL of it, ALL of the time! It sounds so simple, yet I know that while we may be working so hard on one part of our self, another part may be falling apart. It wasn’t apparent to me until now. If you find yourself (or someone you know) following the path that I did, please just do whatever you can to take care of yourself, ALL of yourself, ALL of the time!
Until next time –
Andrea Piekarski-Susalla J
Photo by chibird at http://chibird.com/