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Everything's "Fine"

by Jen Cramer

I was a consumer long before I was even aware of what the term consumer even meant. I had struggled through my late teens with periods of anxiety, insomnia, racing thoughts, irritability, and depression. I had no idea that these traits were symptoms of anything. I thought it was "just how I was". I had no idea that "it" had a name.

When I was 22, I went through a major depression. But, the symptoms were all physical - headaches, stomachaches, loss of appetite, and insomnia. I went from doctor to doctor seeking a solution. I went from primary care physician to cardiologist to neurologist. I had test after test of EKG, EEG, blood work, sleep tests, reflex testin - and everything came back just fine. But, I was anything but just fine. My insomnia had been going on for almost 4 weeks. I was getting less than an hour of sleep per night. I felt like my skin was on fire - like I wanted to just jump out of my skin if I could! My thoughts raced - I'd imagined every horrible scenario from a brain tumor to cancer to some unknown disease they hadn't named yet.

At that time, I had just started seeing a therapist - simply to discuss my frustrations with not knowing what was wrong with my health. (I had no idea that I was depressed - NO clue). Following his suggestion, I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist. Actually, that first appointment with the psychiatrist was a bit of a relief. I began to list my odd combination of symptoms and he understood. He and my therapist both validated that what I was feeling and experiencing was indeed real!

Throughout the past 15 plus years since my first official diagnosis, I have used many different types of therapy - talk therapy, vitamin therapy, hypnosis, light therapy, music therapy, acupuncture, medication, massage therapy, guided imagery, and aromatherapy. Depression and anxiety still appear at times, so I do my best to make sure that I have my supports and different therapies in place in order to counteract the symptoms. I use a combination of the above therapies, depending on the time of year and severity of my symptoms. Sometimes a certain therapy helps and other times it doesn't seem to do much of anything. I often feel like a complex puzzle with a different "solution" each time.

The best preventative measure that I have put in place for myself is seasonal trips to the beach. There is just something so calming - so healing to me about the beach. Perhaps it is the vastness of the ocean that reminds me of how small I am in this universe? Is it the fresh salt air that cleanses my lungs with each deep breath? Or it could be the feeling of sand between my toes that lets me know that I'm standing on the edge of a continent? Maybe it is the sound of the crashing waves and seagulls that disconnects me from city life and reconnects me with nature? Whatever "it" is that the ocean provides for my soul I am truly grateful!