Today’s #SameHereHero: Kori Butterworth (Kori experienced physical trauma & scarring at a very young age, which tested her resiliency & forced her to deal w particularly harsh comments most don’t have to so early in life. She’s a testament to pushing thru adversity. While this mate from Australia is still struggling, she has a tremendously positive attitude as she works thru her symptoms).
“As a baby, I was caught in a terrible house fire. As a result of the fire, my brother died & I was left w 3rd-degree burns covering over 60% of my body. While I have always considered myself a pretty resilient person, living with visible scarring had a huge impact on my sense confidence & continues to do so. I was bullied all throughout primary & high school due to my scars. By the time I left school, while I’d consider that I was an overall happy person able to handle most anything thrown at me, I certainly had some neurotic & insecure tendencies.
I also started a relationship that came w a heavy amount of unrequited love, w a guy I had met when I was 17. This feeling like I was chasing his love eroded away at my self-esteem over a # of years & I definitely had my issues with feelings of depression which started to escalate in early adulthood. These feelings became more constant, & manifested in the form of postnatal depression when I became a mother in 2012.
The symptoms related to my declining mental health really started w panic attacks that kind of hit me out of the blue & felt like they lasted all day during some episodes. From the panic, depersonalization disorder started to develop. It involved this feeling like I was ‘out of body’ & not myself. I believe this is because being terrified of the panic all the time was too hard to handle. My mind had enough & sent my emotions away. I also lost my inner monologue. Around this time I was pretty isolated. I lived with my son who was a toddler & we often spent days without seeing anyone else. I was also spending a lot of time on the internet reading about some increasingly morbid topics.
As my mental health deteriorated the aforementioned guy I loved started to see someone else. He eventually left me to be with her. I know the heartbreak from that ‘loss’ was what really pushed me over the edge. The more I think about my depersonalization issues the more I realize how much of them were caused by the feelings I had towards myself. Particularly deeply engrained ‘toxic shame.’ Couple that w a family history of depression & boom: life trauma combined w genetics, it felt like my mind & my soul were gone.
While I mentioned some of my symptoms earlier, beyond the panic & depersonalization, I experienced: memory issues, a feeling like I was ‘frozen in time,’ derealism – where I felt what little self I had left would disappear completely (this would sometimes come w vertigo), anhedonia, anxiety, existential thoughts & attacks where it felt like ‘meaning’ was being systematically erased from my mind, & this overall sense that there was someone in my mind that wasn’t me, taking over.
I decided to ask for help when I was sitting at university having a conversation w a friend when I realized that I couldn’t care about what she was saying. In fact she was bothering me. This really hit me hard because I had always been a very empathetic person. I ran to see a doctor after class. My doctor really started to worry when I told him about the ‘other presence’ it felt like was in my mind & he put me on a prescription of Cymbalta for potential schizoaffective disorder. While I don’t think this was the right medication targeted for me & my symptoms, it did partially stop a significant downward spiral. With that help, however, it gave me brain zaps & other disconcerting symptoms, so I weaned myself off after a month.
While I am still in the ‘thick’ of many of these symptoms, the healing I have found, has come from a number of areas including: a focus on my spiritual health as I’ve attended a number of Reiki sessions, energy healing sessions, etc. While I never really felt like these practices were working, looking back I did overcome the worst of my symptoms during that time. What has also helped has been sessions of yoga, a process called ‘tapping’ & now I am open to looking into what supplements my body needs bc of what it may no longer be producing due to the fight/flight mode I have been in for so long. I also find that when I am around supportive people, a lot of my issues w feeling & motivation lessen considerably – so I am very conscious as to who I surround myself w now.
While I’ve found some healing in these practices/philosophies, I continue to search for answers as I still have anhedonia, issues w feeling my emotions & not having clear thoughts. Not to mention, my memory is shot!
I chose to share because I think it’s important for people to be able to see others that have experienced what they are experiencing & know they are not alone. Depersonalization disorder is particularly isolating..but it’s a little less so when you learn that you aren’t the only one experiencing it. #SameHere& I want to emphasize that I know first hand that trauma does, in fact, affect mental health in a BIG way.”