Charmaine Gresham is the owner and principal project manager at HLG Scans LLC. She helps small businesses transition to a digital lifestyle, managing their businesses from anywhere, using digital tools and services. This Air Force Veteran is on a quest to help women feel comfortable with mental health to live their best life possible.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 7.7 million adults in the United States live with PTSD. Women are twice as likely as men to develop this condition. Mental illness has been a part of my life as far as I can remember, starting with my mother undiagnosed struggles with mental illness. As a young child, I remember my mother not dealing with daily hardship very well and slowly isolating herself from family members.
By the time I was in my early teens, she had a nervous breakdown, abandoned me to be moved around to different relative homes. Sadly, my mother wasn't diagnosed until much later in life, which prompted me to get clinically diagnosed once I became a mother.
Many consider PTSD a soldier's illness, but in hindsight, twice as many women suffer from PTSD symptoms such as: flashbacks, dissociation, and anxiety. In the past, I was constantly fighting with past trauma and my dear husband was getting caught in the crossfire. I found myself struggling to do simple daily tasks, such as just getting out of bed and taking a shower.
It's not a phase; it's real suffering.
Now, my main priority is maintaining a positive outlook and actively decreasing trigger moments by taking prescribed medication, regular counseling, exercise, and meditation. My husband and I went to marriage counseling and slowly started to heal our relationship.
When your mental health isn't treated properly, everything and everyone you hold dear gets tossed to the side, while you try your best to climb out of that dark hole.
I had to make the decision to try my best to be happy and take full responsibility for my mental health.
I had to examine everything. I started by asking myself questions. Did I have toxic people around me? Was I engaging in anything that caused me stress? Was I actively taking responsibility for my needs, my joy, my pain?
Being diagnosed with a mental illness, such as PTSD, isn't the end of the world and I had nothing to be ashamed of.Once I started treatment, delegating responsibilities in my growing business, and learned to effectively deal with my trigger moments; everything in my life started changing for the better.
I want a happy and fulfilling life. I deserve it.
For anyone suffering from any form of mental illness, things that help me get by are:
- When you've reached your trigger moment and feel yourself sinking, give yourself time to just be! Give yourself ONE day to just feel however you feel. It's okay, we're all human. Negative emotions are still emotions.
- Do something you love to do! Catch a movie, make a spa day, go to the beach. Give yourself permission to do anything that will help you relax and be peaceful.
- Make an appointment with your counselor immediately. A lot of times it's easier to release past trauma with a counselor than it is with family or friends.
- Meditation works wonders! You don't have to be a yoga pro to meditate; it's as simple as going outside, finding a quiet spot, and being still. Think about all that you are grateful for, why you are blessed, things that make you feel happy, etc. Just be still and let God talk to you.
- Medication – my prescription has helped a lot as well. You must let your doctor know if something doesn't feel right. I must see my psychiatric nurse every thirty days for evaluation.
Being a wife, mother, and entrepreneur can be extremely stressful. I'm a firm believer that my family doesn't deserve all my baggage, they deserve the best part of me. I take full responsibility to giving them just that every day. Some days are better than others. But when I have bad days, I try my best to count my blessings and not beat myself up.
With time, I've learned to love and nourish all of me; flaws and all. I hope my story encourage others to speak out and love themselves as well.
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Originally published March 10, 2018
Featured image by Shutterstock