How many of us have been held captive by the prisons we create? How much of is it illusion and how much of is it real?
As a student, studying in a Doctor of Pharmacy program, my textbook didactic studies tell me that the various medicines that Eli Lilly, and Pfizer have spent decades researching, developing, and bringing to market through research and development; these are supposed to have the answers for those of us who struggle and suffer with mental health or addiction. However, as a life-long student who personally struggles with PTSD, fibromyalgia, spinal tissue damage, depression, anxiety, and a history of a suicide attempt — my experience tells me that there is undoubtedly more out there than standard treatment can cure. I truly believe we must utilize these means if we are to not only thrive but survive in a world where mental health is becoming increasingly more prominent, and awareness amongst society is, unfortunately, lacking.
Through my own struggles I have found that true and consistent healing requires many modalities. The concept of a multi-modality approach was first introduced to me while I was working as a counseling assistant at Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Center, here in the heart of Tucson Arizona. I had just graduated with my B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics and minor in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona. What many people do not know, is that as a teenager, I struggled with extreme ranges on the eating disorder spectrum; from anorexia, to orthorexia, to severe binge eating. It was before I was allowed access to cognitive behavioral therapy and I was struggling to maintain any ounce of control within a toxic and abusive living environment. Needless to say, my eating disorder served me nothing but more obstacles and challenges to my health. Fast forward 5 years later, and I was serendipitously gifted an amazing opportunity to work at a treatment center, helping others who had not yet committed to the idea of recovery.
Needless to say, it was challenging in many ways. I built relationships and friendships that I never would have guess I would. I was challenged constantly with the idea of my own recovery and it’s fragility in the face of client’s who were abusive to me, despite trying my best to help them. However, despite all the trials, tribulations, and even success stories – one thing remains consistently true about my employment there: It grew and fostered my empty in ways unimaginable! I was trained in cutting edge therapy modalities such as psychodrama, adventure therapy, DBT, equine therapy, and – how to practice non-violent crisis intervention in the face of multiple active suicide attempts for a variety of clients.
The work reminded me that not only am I not alone, but we as a society are also all not alone. We must choose every day to extend kindness compassion, empathy, and understanding. Even in the face of turmoil.
However, once I started the Doctor of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona, I was quickly reminded and disappointed that most individuals in healthcare do not have any licensed or experienced training in the mental health field. Now, despite trying to keep active in the realm by joining CPNP (College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists), I still was disappointed by the clear disregard that many of my colleagues have with regard to being sensitive about the mental health itself.
In my mission to spread love, kindness, and support to those who are still struggling, I have launched a website that is intended to be an anonymous, online support network for anyone! I continue to regularly post my poetry, yoga training videos, and positive affirmations on my social media platforms, and direct those who may need some extra support to my website so that we can converse in a more private manner that allows the individual to feel safe. More often than not, am able to convince them that they are not weak for needing help, and in the best cases, I have been able to connect with individuals over our shared experiences. Once they feel as though they can actually trust me, then and only then do I recommend they see a licensed therapist here in town or wherever they reside. I wait usually on that recommendation because most people who are struggling with addiction, depression, or suicidal ideations, don’t necessarily want or need to be “told” to go see a therapist.
And, in my experience — more often than not — they honestly cannot afford one.
Thankfully, the personal work I’ve done here in this city — and in employment with organization/corporations such as Medicare, Walgreens Co., and Mirasol Incorporated, has allowed me so many networking opportunities that I know and am friends with many of the medical professionals and therapists in town. So, once I get an individual to my website who is not only open to the idea of getting professional help, but also has the means to invest in it — then I am able to steer them in that direction, if they so choose to take that step for themselves.
And if they do not have the financial means, I use the resources I have at my disposal (years of personal therapy, working in a therapist role, and addiction sponsorship knowledge through AA and Al-Anon) to talk with them and ensure that their mental and emotional state is stable. I ask them if they need anything and allow them to trust first that not only is there hope, but they truly are not alone in this life — even if they feel that way every day, they are truly and concretely, not alone.