I am not a mental health professional. This is simply my experience.
What is it this time? Maybe it’s F41.1 – Generalized anxiety disorder or F43.23 – Anxiety disorder and depressed mood or perhaps one of the following:
F50.00 Anorexia nervosa, unspecified
F43.10 – Post-traumatic stress disorder, unspecified
Let’s see, throughout the years, my various behavioral health insurance carriers received claims for:
- 90791 Psychiatric/psychological diagnostic interview without medical services
- 90837 Individual Psychotherapy
In addition, a myriad of billing codes coinciding with residential treatment for disordered eating. Of course, all of these ICD-10 Codes for Behavioral Health all begin with the letter F as in
The list of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications prescribed throughout the years jumbled together could make an amazing word search puzzle:
What word did you find first? The first word I see is “well” and this I wasn’t according to all of those F-ing codes.
For most of my life, I felt as if I were shattered pieces of broken glass held together by glue that never dried, a sort of Humpty Dumpty. I felt disintegrated, pieces of myself were constantly falling off. I sometimes picked up these broken pieces and attempted to stick them back on to the wet glue of me and watch them inevitably fall off again leaving a trail of shards in brokenness. There was this mind and this body and I could never see myself as the sum of all those parts, never mind anything to do with my perpetually emotionally stabbed and broken heart.
I existed through the lens of gray and if you bothered to ask me what I truly wanted for my life, after I yelled at you, “I wish I was dead”, “I want a lobotomy” or “NUUUUTHIIIIING,” I might be able to utter a tear-filled plea, “I just want a sense of peace.” Living inside this head was a torture of endless looping thoughts and self-hatred. Like many women, my suffering manifested itself through my relationship with my body that transcended self-hatred into self-destruction.
There’s no need to go into any more detail about what it was like. What I do want to offer is that there is hope. No one ever told me I had a choice about the thoughts in my head. Instead, I was just a bunch of ICD-10 codes along with copays and prescriptions to fill.
I lived in desperation the next pill would cure me
the next therapist would fix me,
Jesus would save me,
affirmations would transform me
I didn’t know the cure for my suffering wasn’t out there. I didn’t know that I wasn’t broken. I didn’t know that this one breath would save my life.
In retrospect, I don’t believe there was ever any sort of chemical imbalance. From an early age, for many reasons, I developed a conditioned physiological response to react to every thought as if it was the truth without any sort of a pause button between the thought and the reaction. For me, each emotion was all there was at the time of feeling it, it engrossed me, encompassed me, became who I was at that given moment. I was racked with guilt, remorse, fear, and regret. I numbed in every which way I could. I was suffering. I didn’t know I wasn’t stuck and I didn’t know I had a choice. I went for zero to crisis in seconds. I grew out many of the self-damaging behaviors but the emotional imbalance, rapid and ruminating thoughts only seemed to accelerate. More prescriptions, more therapy more F codes… The hope for me came a few years ago in the form of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Not long after, no more F codes, no more prescriptions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’s potential health benefits, as tested in scientific studies include:
- Pain Relief
- Stress Reduction
- Improved Sleep
- Depression Relapse Prevention
- Cognitive Improvement
I have continued and deepened my mindfulness practice over the years and I know for me, because of this life-giving, transformative practice, my default state is joy. I am able to hold space for my emotions without becoming them. I am able to observe my thoughts with curiosity and interest without reacting to them except on rare occasions. To this day, I often have disparaging thoughts about my body image and yet I am now able to practice self-compassion, and accept myself with kindness and let go even if I have to mindfully practice this a hundred times a day. I know that everything is impermanent. I can sense into deep appreciation and love for myself and have an ever-expanding heart of compassion for others. I know I am whole.
I have learned that this one truth, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional
Shattered shards, broken glass
Kicked in heart, fell on ass
Pieces of myself, I once knew
Corners broken, held by glue
The glue is drying
(From my poem, The Glue is Drying, 2013)
Perhaps there is something I’ve shared here that you can relate to or provides a spark of hope. If so, please reach out to me. I promise to have a call with you, to hold space for you, to be a resource for you.
May you be free from inner and outer harm
May you sense into your own wellspring of hope, healing, and wholeness
May you live with ease
May you dwell in the awareness and truth of love
I hesitated to make the request for BIZCATALYST 360° to publish this piece as if showing up at an often stigmatized level of vulnerability will somehow diminish my value as a capable professional, however; my compassion for the suffering of others won out in an instant.
I am committed to the continuous study and practice of mindfulness and have dedicated my career as a speaker and workshop facilitator extending an inclusive and accessible invitation to explore this transformative practice.