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  • richelle1074

Breaking Free

In the summer of 2019 I was hospitalized for an illness that no one could figure out. I could not hold anything in my stomach, it was just as awful as it sounds. My family Dr (bless him) suspected it was anxiety related, but I shut it down immediately. Yes, I knew I had an anxiety disorder, yes, I knew I had PTSD, but it didn’t *feel* like anxiety, it felt like my stomach was on fire and everything I ate only made it worse. I was in and out of the hospital for weeks, tests, more tests, IV fluids, scans, no one could tell me why nothing was staying in my stomach. I was scared, my family was scared. I finally resolved that these drs could not help me, so I started a journey of healing myself, listening hard for that inner voice that the world forces women to shut down. For weeks, I ate the blandest foods I could think of, anything that stayed down was the goal. After about 2 months of feeling sick, I finally started to see my way out of the haze.

The trauma and gravity of the situation still fresh in my soul, I sat my husband down with tears in my eyes and said, “I need more experiences with these children. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to see the world with them, and I don’t want to wait anymore.” That November we bought a travel trailer, and then just months later, we went into lockdown thanks to Covid-19.

My thoughts on the pandemic and how my fellow American’s handled it are a post for another day, but with the pandemic came the nausea, the inability to hold anything down, and the sinking feeling that I was going to lose myself again. It was in those first few months of the pandemic that I reflected on my first few weeks of illness, could this *really* be anxiety?? I called my family Dr. I was ready to listen, I was ready to heal, I was ready to face having a severe panic disorder.

Following my diagnosis, and accepting that I should try an antidepressant, I went on a deep dive into intuition. What is my nervous system asking for, how to I shed the shame that comes with mental health disorders, and how do I make myself whole in a world that is falling to pieces. The answers that my soul shouted at me and allowed me to finally breathe? Art and nature (and Zoloft). When the world is spinning out of control, I ask myself, what does my heart need to express, where does my soul need to go.

With the (preventable) resurgence of Covid-19, I was feeling the familiar tug of my anxiety, as were our best friends, who are our adventure partners, so we booked a trip to Muncy County, PA, where we stayed at Don’t let the website fool you, its a beautiful campground! We did hiking, stargazing, and some of us (not my family, it was cold, and we chickened out) even went tubing down a river, but my favorite spot was the immense rock wall at World’s End State Park. When we descended off of the hiking trail to the bed of boulders, the wall took my breath away. My heart skipped beats, I walked to the edge, sat on a rock and just stared. Disappointment, heartbreak, anxiety and fear unwrapped their grip. I was being held by Mother Nature herself, and I was home.

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