Today’s #SameHere Hero Stacie Fisher (Stacie is our lead volunteer and without her support, I don’t know that I could have gotten through my own horrific stretch. We barely knew each other as my descent began, but she could relate to what I was going through when not many could, and stood by my side and encouraged me, daily. She’s a huge asset to our Movement, and now even more so as she shares her own incredible story in the hopes of helping others.)
“I debated as a volunteer whether I should tell my story and whether it was fair to be featured when there are so many other amazing stories out there. But, with the recent post Eric put up about the risks that our military men and women face, and how I had a father who served…and finally how some of my mental health complication stem back to his complications when he returned back from war, I felt the time was right. Hi I’m Stacie , usually, the one posting what’s written by Eric or others, commenting back on your comments, and inviting those ppl who show interest in our posts all over the world on to this new but quickly growing page/community.
My father was a Vietnam vet. Returned back in 1970, and eventually had me and my brother. PTSD was not a common diagnosis back then, so what was ‘normal’ in my house was seeing my dad go through fits of rage, avoiding doing things like changing diapers, or going to our events. Because of his condition and how things would just get to him easily, he would act like ‘children should be seen, never heard.’
I always thought that the way he acted meant there was something wrong with me…why else would he neglect me in such ways? This became a core belief in my childhood and now something I fight throughout my life bc it is deep-rooted. As a result, I developed clinical depression and anxiety (and am recently being told PTSD has also been at play throughout). I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
At 12 years old, my parents didn’t tell me we were moving from our house in NJ to Florida until we literally – moved to Florida. They picked me up at a camp I was at, all packed up, ready to go, and we were on our way. Because my parents had a hard time “getting” me they recruited my dad’s sister (who I adored and recently passed of cancer :/) Pia, to deal with me.
To say I hated Florida would be an understatement. I was an old soul trapped in a discontented young old girl’s body. The first major manifestation of my anxiety was a newfound phobia of bad weather. Florida weather is a lot different than Jersey weather and the possibility of hurricanes didn’t help the situation. A thunderstorm would make me hysterical. The things I worried about would change: it would be storms for months (actually years), then it was an obsession with working out and food. This lead to eating issues…..I would go a while mostly ok and then something would happen and it would all unravel for me. So my coping mechanisms only went so far. Despite my aversion to Florida, I ended up staying in state for college and attended UF. I got married relatively young, only a few years after school.
When I was 27 I was trying to get pregnant and couldn’t. This reaffirmed the false belief that I was not good enough or there was something wrong with me. This would develop into a semi-nervous breakdown and, psychotropic drug Rx’s and various increase for a hopeful quick fix (the different drug trials is something that helped me relate so much to Eric’s experience). I remained in varying states of anxiety for many years.
At 29 I had the miracle of my first daughter. However, this led me to be neurotic about everything with her. I would constantly think of scenarios (all negative) and subsequent reactions to these made-up situations about what could go wrong w her health. I ended up calming down with respect to her susceptibility, but the neurosis migrated back to me and I would think I was dying of whatever malady I read about or saw on a show. I stopped watching tv and was more mindful of the books I read afterward. These types of patterns persisted for many years, they would just change shape. Once I felt I conquered one thing, something else would rear its head.
I had my second daughter at 33 and the pregnancy was tough mentally. The hormones and lack of meds (obv I had to go off) was a lot for me to deal with. When my second daughter was around a year old I noticed a darkening of my leg with what appeared to be some atrophy. This sent me into an abyss. I wound up going to a lot of doctors and none could figure out what was wrong. I had neuropathy and was showing some loss of function which had an unknown origin. One neuro thought it may be Lyme, one said ignore it…..you get the picture. I am the type who has to know everything and don’t do well with ‘I don’t know.’ During this period my anxiety was through the roof and I was convinced I had ALS and my kids would have no mom. I had to sedate myself to do everything. Going to kids bday parties was torture, I would stay with all the kids to avoid the other parents. I didn’t go out socially with my husband, or anyone for that matter. I missed out on a lot of living.
Despite all of this, I am a lucky, lucky person because I have had amazing people along the way, to guide and support me through my battle. The thing is, although my road hasn’t been the easiest, I wouldn’t change it for anything because it has made me stronger and given me such a better perspective on life.
In my home, knowing what I went through, we have an open dialogue about mental health. I took my girls, at the time ages 8 and 4, to see the movie ‘Inside Out’ so I could use it as a vehicle to explain to them what they intuitively must have already known about the conditions I’ve dealt with, and they too might. I constantly share with them and explain how I am feeling if I am having an ‘off’ day. They know that this is a lifelong endeavor, but that I will always strive to keep myself on an even keel through therapies/practices, supplements that I research that my body is deprived of from my constant state of anxiety, some medication, and above all (for me) optimal nutrition and meditation. My mental health complications makes me perceive emotional pain greatly, but they also allow me to perceive beauty, joy, and wonder in an amazing way. I literally hear music in four-dimensional technicolor at times. I know that won’t make sense to many, but to me it is everything. Having tough times gives me a perspective and an appreciation for the good/normal times that always follow. I know, regardless of the circumstance, I can get through anything. You learn how to navigate the world in a way that works for you individually, to minimize environments or possible situations that can potentially be unfavorable.
So my hope is, by sharing my struggles today, you will keep your eyes, ears, and hearts a little more open. You will trust your gut and take positive action if someone seems a little off, like things don’t quite make sense. People with major mental health complications should be treated no differently than we treat people with diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It sucks that someone like me has traditionally been perceived differently when they’ve shared this information than those with other more “accepted” physical illnesses. This misconception must change. This is a big reason why I am so excited to be a part of this ‘Crazy’ Movement Eric started. I knew even when he was at his lowest, he would turn this around at some point and help change the world. The messaging just “gets it” in that it makes those of us who have had major complications feel validated and like we have a place to come – but it also softens, in a fun and playful way, the fact that we all at different levels deal with stuff – and we’re all in this together and can all ask for help without shame. I’m excited that by being asked to be a lead volunteer, this too has become my life’s calling beyond being a parent. I’ve also gone back to school for integrative nutrition because I know how much supplements and nutrition make a difference.
If there is anyone who reads this and feels alone, please DM our page or get in touch through email@example.com. (Funny enough Eric first assigned me the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂). I am with you. WE can do this together, one day at a time. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’ve felt like I’ve described/other stories have described in any way (more or less severe). #samehere🤙 and you are NEVER alone as long as I am alive and we are running this ‘Crazy’ Movement.