#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and My Story
Welcome to the FIRST OFFICIAL POST ON MY BLOG. (I’m not shouting—I’m just excited). It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (and technically Mental Health Awareness Month but this week is the BIG ONE). This week is dedicated to talking about mental health and reducing stigma around mental health issues. So, since this is both my first blog post and Mental Health Awareness week, I wanted to share my own mental health journey by way of introduction. Some of you may not be ready to share your story, and wherever you’re at, that’s okay.
The journey to finding equilibrium and equanimity in my brain has been a long, winding one. It would be very easy to boil down my journey to a few quick sentences about finding the right person/modality/protocol at the right time, but life doesn’t work that way. My own mental health journey probably began when I was standing in the entryway of my elementary school, sobbing my eyes out, as I watched my mother drive away. I cried every morning of kindergarten for the first year. By the time I was 8 years old, I was seeing my first therapist because I was having an unusually hard time with transitions. I saw the same therapist for many years. (She was also a social worker, so that’s extra special looking back on that time).
Things floated along until I reached my junior year of college. I began having panic attacks that led to sleepless nights. When I set a personal record of two sleepless nights in a row, I knew I needed help. But I wanted a specific kind of help: I needed a therapist who worked with the mind-body connection because the panic attacks were such a powerful physical manifestation of my anxiety. I took to the Google and found a woman in Madison who did hypnosis. She was also a social worker, like my first therapist, so my brain did a quick calculation that went something like: “Social worker equals good.” It was either sheer luck or something else, because she was exactly what I was looking for.
Within a few weeks, my panic attacks were gone and the sleepless nights were fewer and far between (not totally sleepless, but I haven’t had a completely sleepless night since I had hypnoanalysis). Within a year, the prowling tiger that had been my anxiety had been transformed into a benign (albeit occasionally troublesome) kitten. In short, hypnoanalysis both transformed my mind and also transformed my future. I was fascinated, and am still fascinated, by hypnoanalysis.
None of this is to say that I still don’t have nights where I can’t fall asleep, or days when the kitten mysteriously transforms by some trickery into a tiger again. But it is never so overwhelming that I can’t function, that I lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. You see, there are bucketfuls and spade-fulls of hope out there. Hypnoanalysis brought me hope. And certainly, hypnoanalysis was one path—people have found that hope and light in many, many other modalities and places. It is all a matter of finding what works for you. Hypnoanalysis worked for me.
That’s all for now. In the coming weeks, months, years, probably forever, I will share more about hypnosis. I am very excited to be on this journey with you.
P.S. “Luminous beings are we” is one of my favorite quotes of all time, thus why it’s the photo for this blog post. It has been the guiding principle for my life and my work as a therapist: underneath all of our very human experiences, beneath the things we carry, we are all luminous beings.