Hi, my name is Porshe and I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I have lived with an anxiety disorder since I was a child but always just attributed it to shyness. It wasn't until my early adult years that I realized not everyone experiences regular symptoms of anxiety like: trembles, shortness of breath, uncontrollable perspiration, and racing thoughts on a daily basis.
For years I was reluctant to seek help because where I grew up, mental illness is taboo and considered to be a myth. This way of thinking kept me in denial for years about my condition. I kept convincing myself that the hell my body and mind went through everyday was normal. The first time I sought mental health treatment was after my second child was born and I was experiencing postpartum depression along with a severe spike in anxiety due to some other troubling circumstances in my life at the time. At that point, I was just completely burnt out and was ready to trying something new to feel better.
Since I still had so many misconceptions about mental health treatment, I didn't see the point in therapy and bypassed straight to medication from a psychiatrist. I think I went to one session with a therapist but I didn't see the point back then. The medication I was on helped me for awhile but began to lose its effectiveness for me and then I starting experiencing more side effects than benefits after reaching maximum dosage. My psychiatrist switched me to a different medication but after a horrific discontinuation (withdrawal) experience and negative side effects from the new medication, I made the decision to wean myself off medication entirely and seek holistic approaches.
With the recommendation of a trusted friend, I found an excellent therapist who practices CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and a mindfulness approach, who also accepted Medicaid (btw, it's next to impossible to find a great therapist that suits your needs when you have Medicaid as most mental health professionals don't accept this type of insurance).
Unfortunately I moved recently and am having a difficult time finding a suitable new therapist in my area who will accept my insurance. However, I'm still practicing the coping tools my last therapist taught me, and have been journaling a ton to transform negative thought patterns into positive ones.
For me, my path to mental health isn't picture perfect or instant transformation, but a journey that requires practice, patience, perseverance, and being okay with failure. I experience triggers daily and sometimes it can be a lot to live with (just ask my husband and kids lol). Some days I feel like a champ, some days I feel like I'm completely failing at life, but I keep moving and try to stay positive.
In America, there is so much social injustice for people with mental health conditions. It is incredibly difficult to find a variety of good mental health professionals who accept low-income/government funded insurance. Poor people with mental health conditions are often treated like criminals and thrown into jail rather than getting the proper medical attention they need. People with mental illnesses live in fear of getting fired or not getting hired in the first place if they are honest with employers about having a mental health condition. Some people with mental illnesses simply cannot fulfil rigorous job requirements, but are also denied disability assistance. The system is set up for people to fail. It's just not right.
We need social change for people with mental health conditions! We need more education concerning mental illness. We need better health care options for everyone despite their economic status. We need more laws against employer discrimination and we need to use our resources for funding treatment centers instead of funding prisons to lock up people with illnesses who simply need medical attention. People with mental illnesses are NOT second-class citizens and deserve equal rights and equal health care.
A huge positive that came from my mental health condition is empathy. I love people deeply and I am driven to fight for the underdog because I have been one my whole life as a Black woman with a mental health condition.
#dontcallmecrazy. My name is Porshe and I have #generalizedanxietydisorder, but it does not have me.
- Porshe Maynard, 2018