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My Diagnosis Isn't My Destiny

Written by: Tiffany Manbodh

I was infatuated with him.

He was every girl’s dream, including mine. I felt like I had to compete among several other girls vying for his attention some years ago. For the first time in a long time, he gave me the attention that I sought. Someone I liked had actually liked me back. I was ecstatic. I’d wake up electrified, feeling like I was on cloud nine each day. We stayed up in the wee hours of the morning catching up on the details of our separate lives across different continents.

All I wanted was a simple kiss and my year would be complete.

However, it was not exactly so during December 2016. I found myself in a compromising position where my power was taken from me. After saying “stop” multiple times and him being unrelenting, I lost my voice and my body became numb. I was in complete shock. My body had recognized what happened before my mind could process it two months later. 

I was leaving on Thursday morning to head back to the U.S. I had a hard time waking up. My body felt more exhausted than usual. Taking a shower and putting on my clothes seemed like a chore. The entire flight home, I was tired and my mind kept racing. I felt strange. I felt guilty— but this wasn’t any type of guilt. This guilt weighed all the way beneath my bones. I got home and remember passing out from the exhaustion. I felt ashamed going to church, sitting there.

I felt so out of place.

After getting back home, I was to begin my student teaching internship in January of 2017. I showed up to the location that morning only to be greeted with simple tasks that I had a hard time focusing on. My supervising teacher asked me to design and label some kind of chart and all I remember was that it took a long time for me to finish.

After the school day was over, I went in my car and called my mom crying. I was experiencing another crying spell. It was my second one that day and this, along with my decreased cognitive abilities, was an indicator that something wasn't right. My previous episode of depression in 2012 had similar symptoms and I didn’t want to wait long to see a doctor. 

I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life, which involved withdrawing that Spring semester from FAU. It broke me. I worked my butt off, even receiving the academic scholar award for the College of Education and now I had to give it all up, temporarily of course, until I was better. I remember one of the department’s assistants trying to console me through email. She knew how hard I had worked to get to where I was, having taken all of my professional exams earlier than a lot of people in my department and passing on my first attempt.

Now here I was, sobbing, because everything seemed so uncertain. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take to get better.

I just hoped that I would be able to graduate. 

I started seeing a doctor and was diagnosed with PTSD. Some of the medicine my body didn’t tolerate well. I was having vivid nightmares which made it feel very real even when I woke up. The same combination of medicine that worked for me when I had my first episode of depression wasn't working this time. My muscles became weak and walking was not as easy as it used to be prior. My eating habits were different as well. Over the years, I had gained a lot of weight. I tried my best to manage it with diet and exercise but nevertheless, weight gain is common with my medicines.

My relatives' first comment when they saw me after a while was something along the lines of my weight gain. I became immune to hearing this from individuals of Indo-Caribbean origins. I bounced around from doctor to doctor, medication to medication. At last, I found a good combination for myself. I was also seeing a therapist regularly who was helping me to process all that I had gone through and was experiencing years after the actual traumatic event.

Experiencing mental health issues effects multiple facets of a person’s life.

It gave me a chance to see how uninformed and ignorant some of my family members and acquaintances were. There are certain relatives that I do not speak to currently because of this and I have no regrets. I don’t need that kind of negative energy around me when I am in the process of healing. Some of my relatives would often use the tactic of gaslighting during discussions where I stated my observations and opinions on different subject matters. Some called me “mad” behind my back, thinking I would never hear them but this world is very small.

My condition was easy to hide. I managed it so well that no one would know unless I confided in them. It also affected my personal relationships with others.

I became very distrustful of people and the world around me. 

I was in misery for a long period of my life, bouncing around from resentment to anxiety and depression and even insomnia. I even thought of ending it several times but thankfully, I had a friend who helped me through it. He was there to listen and would talk to me every day. I think having one good friend that checks on you each day is necessary.

I continued my therapy and would write poems from time to time. Poetry was my outlet and then one day, a dear friend gave me the idea of writing a book. I toyed with the idea for a while and then I started writing more poems. Before you know it, I had completed my book entitled “Forget Me Nots” and published it through the Amazon KDP platform. I was now an author. I was nervous and thrilled simultaneously. It was not easy sharing my vulnerability and what some people from the West Indian community would consider “shameful."

However, it was necessary for me to tell my truth and to light the way for others who maybe didn’t know light existed at the end of the tunnel. After all, I am a living testament of it. 

So this is my story of living and coping with PTSD and other related mental health issues, as they are all interconnected. My own concern for my health has led me to investigate alternative methods including energy healing, meditation, breath work and herbal remedies. Additionally, I've had to manage my diet as certain foods can contribute to better moods. I hope to inspire other people with similar issues to keep being their own advocate and taking care of themselves each and every day. Sometimes, this can mean ridding themselves of anything that doesn't serve them which include toxic people, relationships and/or situations. When I left certain unhealthy environments, I began to heal and get better over time. I learned that there are certain environments that are conducive to both my physical and mental health and that's where I desired to flourish.

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