Rising up from the ashes...
Melody studied leadership development and communications in college and was a presenter in Washington DC. She traveled around the US presenting leadership conferences teaching thousands of high school students. She has also presented and led other health and wellness presentations for over 8 years of all ages and group sizes and has taught health and fitness for over 14 years. She is passionate about teaching meditation, health and wellness in a way that leads to true health, healing, self love and kindness. Mel loves and cares about individuals of all ages, backgrounds and cultures and because of the dark days she’s experienced regarding her own mental health journey; she wants to shine a light of hope to anyone who might be currently struggling. Here's her story in her own words...
We had two girls and two boys and thought our family was complete. I went on a form of birth control that we thought was safe, but about a year later I started getting some peculiar symptoms. First, it was intense physical pain that would come and go. Then, as stress entered my life; anxiety became it’s companion. We went through a difficult move and I was cycling through depression, anxiety and physical pain. I went to the doctor for an annual exam on a day that I was really depressed. The doctor was concerned and kind and recommended I try an anti-depressant. Things seemed to be a bit better initially, but also after several months, things became more difficult as I started experiencing racing suicidal thoughts. I felt so much shame and shock that this was happening. I love life. I love my family; I had no desire to end my life; yet these thoughts would uncontrollably race through my brain like I was losing sanity or being haunted. I finally, after many months of suffering alone, opened up to my husband, about what was going on. He’s been a compassionate support system since, but it has been one of the most difficult experiences we’ve both ever gone though.
Interestingly, the intrusive thoughts would also come and go and one day, I came across PMDD. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is an extreme form of PMS approximately affecting 5-10% of women causing Anxiety, Depression, Hopefulness, Physical Pain, Fatigue, Irritability, Mood Swings, etc. the week or two (typically) leading up to the start of their period. Many women who struggle with PMDD experience suicidal thoughts. Finally, I had an answer and understanding, but there were still (and probably still are—for all of us) some missing puzzle pieces.
We unexpectedly got pregnant with baby #5 and the cyclical PMDD symptoms went away while I was pregnant only to return around 3 months post partum. About a year later, we were planning another big move, so I saw a doctor about going on Zoloft which is a recommended treatment option for PMDD. I thought it would help with the stress of the move. For a short period of time, I felt better and relieved. I also gained weight rapidly, experienced some unpleasant side effects and then noticed something scary happening to my mind. The suicidal thoughts went from cyclical to constant. They also became more violent and severe and for the first time, I started waking up to the terrifying thoughts. I reached out to doctors for assistance and was told I should try increasing the dose, that it was all in my head and that it was my own lack of belief in the medication that was causing the problems. In the fall of 2019, the thoughts became so severe and life threatening that it became clear the medication wasn’t safe, so I very slowly and painstakingly weaned myself off and started feeling much better. Still, the cyclical pattern was present and difficult and after the few short months on Zoloft, the suicidal thoughts were no longer constant, but still extreme and severe when they were at their worst. I started consistent therapy with excellent psychologists. I found the right fit (sometimes it takes time) and we started doing EMDR and processing through some trauma from my past and present.
Healing is the journey I’m continually on and it’s sometimes difficult, but also very rewarding. What I’m learning is that healing is possible, necessary and can take time and lots of patience. There’s also many effective and safe modalities that can help us heal emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Some that have been the most effective for me has been therapy, EMDR, Yoga, walking, grounding techniques, meditation, practicing and sharing about MECKA, gratitude, learning from mentors, heroes and helpers, time in nature and with my family, serving others, rest, healthy and cleansing food, upping my vitamin B12 and other important supplements, talking with good friends and my husband, reprioritizing my focus, setting boundaries, lowering expectations and raising appreciation, taking good care of myself and the people I love.
Some really big, important things I’ve learned about healing: it is so important to understand and heal the root cause or causes and often times it can be chemical, biological, hormonal and emotional issues that can cause symptoms. Also, it’s really important to give yourself (or the person struggling) time, compassion and patience. Unfortunately, it’s often not an easy or quick fix and progress can be slow, but incorporating positive daily, consistent habits, support and self care can lead to awesome healing progress.