RX to Self: Please Slow Down

RX to Self: Please Slow Down

It’s been 12 years since I started this path. Mental illness wasn’t the problem. The struggle was how to regain my confidence and self-esteem after the first onset of symptoms. 

In retrospect, I felt like an observer. I was aware of my surroundings and the people around me. The constant struggle to try to belong to the scene that was right in front of me. Family reunions, going out with friends, going to a concert. Anything social was uncomfortable to me. 

More importantly, I felt I wasn’t my true self.

When I’ve moved to the US 10 years ago, the idea of being an observer started to fade. I became careless about it. I was happy to start a new chapter in life where I could be more independent. I’ve lost school years during my time in Mexico, and I was determined to never let that happen again. Until my symptoms started to take a slow and tender grip on me.

And there I was, going to school with the best intentions to not breakdown. I had the will to not surrender. I had to prove myself that I could do it, that I could belong to the group. Instead of being an observer, I’ve became a witness of my own thoughts. I’ve started to become anxious about others being witness of my symptoms. 

The daily inner battle lasted for several years. I’ve started to evolve with it. Faking that nothing was happening with me. I became desensitized of my needs, and it took a toll  on me from time to time. By this I mean going to the hospital several times because I couldn’t take it anymore. 

Stigma is real and I believe that mental illness is a topic that not many of us like to discuss. Perhaps is lack of understanding, or simply lack of sensibility. 

What if instead of talking about mental illness, we reframe the context to mental wellness? The emotions and ideas portrayed by the word ‘illness’ and ‘wellness’ are diametrically opposed. However, these two terms are interwoven, they are connected. You cannot have one without the other. 

I’m a human being that’s working towards that balance. I tend to overextend myself when I’m doing something that I love. It may be when I’m working or studying, being with friends, being in a relationship, or making music. These are things that I tend to have trouble to keep in harmony.

I’ve got the opportunity to recover my path after a recent hospitalization. I’ve moved the start of my graduate program for the spring, and I’m working on getting more experience on the field of psychology and mental wellness. What I’ve noticed about this, is the way I’m experiencing it.

I’m becoming more aware and attuned to my body through meditation. I’ve been doing it more often, and now I’ve got the opportunity to join a group of guided meditation. I’m learning to regain my attention and focus on what’s around me. Sometimes is hard to practice it, but I try my best on every chance.

I haven’t played much music, nor composed anything. I just don’t feel ready for now. I’ve been writing on my journal, and talking with family and friends. Trying to pick up my pieces together after my resent episode. I’ve been applying to different jobs and trying to reconnect with myself, once again. 

Taking stock on how I’ve dealt with my relationships with people I love is something I’m working on this morning. In order to that, I need to slow down.

Thank you for reading.

On Wellness,

-Ernesto  

Rx to Self: Part Four

Rx to Self: Part Four

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: Trying to do beyond of what I’m capable of, without proper rest

At the beginning, I was having between two to three hours of sleep at best. Specially the night when I took grandpa to the Emergency Department.

I’ve done this before for others in the US, but not in Mexico. While he didn’t need an ambulance, I took him because he was showing signs of a hearth attack.

I asked him to gather all his paperwork. I packed the medicines and lab work. I drove him to the hospital. 

Then I started thinking when he drove me to the doctor 11 years ago.

Things changed a lot for me since then.

Now things were going to change for him.

I felt that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

We both knew that I was scared of not making it on time. Hell, we were both scared.

And there we where, driving at night. Sharing small talk and lots of silence. We didn’t had a proper meal during the day, nor the night. We weren’t hungry, or tired. We were unusually calmed and worried at the same time.

Call it being fine with chaos.

Rx to Self: Have your meals and rest in order to get things done

Rx to Self: Part Two

Rx to Self: Part Two

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: Not having health insurance

I didn’t really had an idea how to find, and be able to qualify for health insurance for my grandpa in Mexico. My intention at this stage was to get him on the healthcare system. I looked for options online to find possibilities on the private insurance sector. 

It turned out unsuccessful. 

My grandpa didn’t qualify for those insurances because of his advanced age and his now pre-existing heart condition. Also, for the couple of insurances that didn’t have an age cap, there was just not enough information to make a decision on them. Mainly because there were new.

I looked at binational health insurances that were tailored for individuals that cross the border on either side to get healthcare. Again, while they provided great services, prices, and co-pay options, my grandpa couldn’t qualify for them either.

By this point it was believed that he needed a pacemaker, therefore, surgery was necessary. Without proper health insurance, this procedure was too expensive given our socioeconomic status. 

I had a feeling of emptiness and few options. 

I managed to get both of my grandparents government insurance as a last resort. However, I was lost on how things worked.

Thankfully, there were people giving us their wisdom, time, and expertise. 

I was clueless, but not alone anymore. 

Rx to self: Think about your longterm health, and the health of your loved ones, too

Rx to Self: Part One

Rx to Self: Part One

This post is part of a series of experiences on healthcare. From realizations, patient navigation, and the implications of being divided by a border.

Symptom: I was taking the health of my loved one for granted

This idea applies to myself and to my loved one, my grandpa. For instance, just because I’ve never seen my loved one ill, it doesn’t mean that nothing is going on inside. Its like a great looking car, and assuming that runs fine. 

Until the car starts giving you signals that something is wrong.

 Along the way, you realize that the car its a classic, and that it has been on the road for quite sometime. And because it never really had any problems, you rarely gave it service other than gasoline and oil change.

You realize that taking anything or anyone for granted is in itself wishful thinking, to the point of believing that things shouldn’t change too much in life. 

Rx to Self: Question your assumptions

I’m talking about the impermanence of life. The first time you experience your own memento mori. The moment of awareness of your own mortality and its almost unpredictable end.  

After my own first attempt, I realized that it didn’t take much for me to do it, and with no hesitation. However, when someone you love and care about deeply is showing signs that life is compromised, the story is different. 

I felt the necessity of being present in the moment. I wanted share and experience life with my grandpa before it was too late. After all, he was the one who raised me and took care of me during dark times. 

It hit me hard when I got notified that something was wrong with him, and that there wasn’t a clear answer at the time. The uncertainty was nerve-racking.

Also, I felt guilt because at the time I wasn’t visiting him as much. 

My excuses were many. For instance, that I’m over-scheduled, that I have to cross the border back and forth in order to see him, and that in itself made me anxious and could trigger symptoms.

All of that bullshit vanished after knowing that he was ill. It was time to take action and prepare for the unknown. I wanted to be part of the process and provide help. It was my way of giving back.

This happened during the winter break. 

I never felt so focused, motivated, and with a courage that I didn’t even know I had.

It was time to get my act together and help my grandpa have a better quality of life. I wanted to do it, and that’s all I cared at the time. 

The problem was that I had no clue on how to navigate a healthcare system that wasn’t the USA. 

I had a lot of unanswered questions.

Time was running out.