By Rhonda Bayless
Understanding the impact of trauma and abuse on my own mental health, I am determined to promote mental health awareness amongst the women in my life and in my community. As someone diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and mild depression at different points on my life, I focus on the difficult task of maintaining balance. Triggers can set off a firestorm of feelings and emotions and without the proper tools, it can lead to relapse.
I became the keeper of my sanity to the point of developing very rigid barriers against negativity. I live in protection mode. I need to be healthy for me and for my 24-year-old daughter, who confronts serious challenges in maintaining a balance of mind, body, and spirit. After giving birth to my grandson four years ago, she developed Post-Partum Depression and noticeable, but undiagnosed, anxiety issues.
Immediately, I made appointments and sought resources for her. In 2014, while in therapy, I encouraged her to take care of herself. She started treatment but then stopped, which deeply troubled me.
Accessing mental health services is difficult in Indiana with a lack of mental health clinics and providers who specialize in the needs of young adults. Last year, my daughter’s condition deteriorated. I watched her go through troubling situations as her body slimmed down from a lack of appetite. She suffered from insomnia, panic attacks, and chronic anxiety. Sometimes my mere presence served as a trigger. I couldn’t mother my child through her illness and felt lost.
I am blessed by a wonderful team of sister friends who tried to help my daughter when I couldn’t provide assistance. Last year, her anxiety seemed extreme and all seemed lost. Stress finds a way to present itself and she began to experience physical pain, which scared her. She asked me to take her to the hospital. Finally! I prayed for a diagnosis for her sake … and mine.
After an assessment, she received a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder along with referrals and medications. She followed through and understands that she must take care of her total health for the rest of her life.
I fought my own battles coping with my daughter’s suffering, but I continue walking with her on her journey. Life doesn’t take a break for you to understand it. I remain grateful to those who cared for my daughter through this ordeal and appreciate those who understand my hurt. My humanity allows me to grow and to learn. I’m just a mother who loves her daughter.