It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and mental health is a BIG topic for us here at Dear Gabby.
If you’ve listened to the podcast before, you’ve heard me go deep on mental health issues. You’ve heard callers bravely open up about their own struggles surrounding mental health. And if you’re here for the first time, that is no accident! I welcome you with so much love to this important conversation.
I’m grateful that the Dear Gabby platform allows us to get real, raw and introspective about mental health. We experience real-time miracles in this setting, and I’ve designed it to be a safe container for callers to get curious and come clean about the state of their mental health.
But I wasn’t always as clued in about mental health as I am today. In fact, there was a time in my life when I was unwittingly contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health.
By the grace of God, I was able to see things differently. On today’s episode of the Dear Gabby podcast, I share a deeply personal story about how my own struggles with depression and anxiety led me to understand mental health on a whole new level.
You’ll understand why I’m now SO passionate about busting through stigmas surrounding mental health!
Listen to the full story here.
My Mental Health Story
Five months postpartum, I was living in complete denial. I was holding the most beautiful baby boy in my arms, but something was off. I didn’t feel like myself. And my spiritual tools were no longer working to bring me back to safety.
The reality was that I was having a biochemical reaction to the postpartum experience. I was battling severe anxiety, insomnia, depression, agoraphobia and even suicidal ideation. My brain chemistry was changing!
And though my daily practice of prayer and meditation certainly didn’t hurt, I could not meditate my way out of this situation. This did not come down to a lack of faith or a failure to repeat positive affirmations; it came down to neurochemistry.
But as always, the Universe had my back. I was led to a psychiatrist who prescribed a medicated course of treatment. With her guidance, I was able to get back to a baseline of safety.
And from there, I could begin a process of profound healing, using the therapeutic and spiritual tools that I share in my new book, Happy Days.
A Lesson in Humility
Accepting that I had a biochemical condition—and being willing to treat it—kicked off the deepest healing journey of my life. The moment I picked up the medication my psychiatrist had prescribed, I let out a deep sigh of relief …
And got real with myself.
I had someone I needed to apologize to.
Years before my own diagnosis, I had asked a woman I knew and loved—one of my team members—to share her story on my blog. This woman had been on prescription medication for anxiety for years, and that treatment had saved her life.
She was proud of the progress she’d made. And when she sat down to share her story, she didn’t hold anything back. She wrote about how her medicated path to recovery had saved her life, and her courage and conviction showed up in every word.
When I read her blog post, I was moved. But instantly, I started thinking about possible blowback. (The comments section on a blog can be a loaded place!)
Busting Through Stigmas Surrounding Mental Health
“Listen,” I told my friend, “I love this post—but it’s going to set off a heated discussion in the blog comments. People have such strong feelings about medication! I don’t think we want to go there right now.”
At that moment, I had no idea that I was contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health—but I see it so clearly now. And I saw it then, as a new mom, when I was holding my first bottle of psychiatric medication in my hand.
That’s when I picked up the phone.
I called my team member and we had a beautiful heart-to-heart conversation. She handled my apology with grace and maturity. And from that moment on, she’s been one of my biggest supporters on my own healing journey.
Today, I am committed to shifting the stigma surrounding mental health. I believe that shift starts with having open conversations about mental health, and being honest about the ways that we all suffer. Yes, even self-help authors suffer—and I’m not afraid to admit it!
So sit back, press play and prepare to dive deep into mental health on this episode of the Dear Gabby podcast.
Healing and Hope
If this topic brings up any funky feelings for you, know that I’ve got your back. If you’re struggling with mental health issues of any kind, it is my sincerest prayer that this episode opens you up to possibilities for healing and hope. Most of all, I want you to know that you are not alone.
In this episode, I’ll share candid details about my own journey with mental health—and some key lessons I learned along the way. I’m also answering BIG, brave questions that were sent in by Dear Gabby listeners! I’ll cover:
- The best way to get more support from your family and loved ones if you’re struggling with mental health (I know this from my own life experience, and I offer this advice with so much love)
- How to build a support team that can guide you through a mental health healing journey (you don’t need a huge budget to assemble this team!)
- The mindset shift that helped me stop resisting treatment for my biochemical condition and finally get myself on a healing path
- A simple prayer you can use to expand your awareness of your mental health and open yourself up to healing
- How our own childhood wounds affect the way we parent—and my BEST advice for overcoming excessive worry about the children in your life
- How to befriend your anxiety and loosen its grip on you
A Journaling Exercise
I also share a powerful writing exercise that will help you take inventory of the ways you might be running from your own well-being. This is from Chapter 2 of Happy Days. If you have the book, you can begin the exercise on page 38; if you don’t, just follow my guidance on the podcast.
Be Proud of Yourself
If you’re listening to this episode of Dear Gabby today, reading a book like Happy Days, or just cracking open to a willingness to explore what lies beneath your suffering, you can know this with every fiber of your being: You are already on a healing path.
Be proud of your commitment to transformation. Believe in your path toward peace. And allow yourself to feel some relief, knowing that you have a mental health first-aid kit as soon as you press play.
For more tips on mental health and anxiety relief, check out this video:
Get More Gabby
The following are helpful resources and books I mention in the episode:
Want even more Gabby? I created the Miracle Membership to help you design a spiritual practice you can stick to—so you can feel connected, supported and inspired every day. Each week I deliver coaching, guided meditations, community connection and so much more. Plus, it’s easy to access on your phone, computer or tablet. Click here to join
In this episode, I reference my new book Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace. This book tells the story of my own healing journey, and in it I share the spiritual, therapeutic and medical tools I used to heal my own mental health.
If you feel that you need additional support, please refer to my list of safety, recovery and mental health resources. Support is available to you, and I’m proud of you for being here.
To learn more about Somatic Experiencing, check out Episode #56 of the Dear Gabby podcast. It’s a chat with Dave Berger, who’s a leader in the field.
You can learn more about IFS therapy in Episode #19 of the Dear Gabby podcast. This is a Big Talk with IFS founder Dick Schwartz.
This podcast is intended to educate, inspire and support you on your personal journey toward inner peace. I am not a psychologist or a medical doctor and do not offer any professional health or medical advice. If you are suffering from any psychological or medical conditions, please seek help from a qualified health professional.
If you’re a writer, blogger, content creator, entrepreneur or anyone who wants to learn how to turn your message into a book, check this out! I’m leading a FREE live training on Wednesday, May 11, at 1 PM/ET or 8 PM/ET, and you are invited! It’s called 4 Secrets to Your Bestselling Book, how I went from ZERO writing experience to #1 NYT bestselling author, and how you can too! Sign up here!
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hi there, Gabby here. This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I’m not a psychologist or a medical doctor,...
The following podcast is a Dear Media production.
Hi there, Gabby here. This podcast is intended to educate, inspire, and support you on your personal journey towards inner peace. I’m not a psychologist or a medical doctor, and do not offer any professional health or medical advice. If you are suffering from a psychological or medical condition, please seek help from a qualified health professional.
Over the years I’ve witnessed so many of my readers and students go on to awaken a part of themselves that they never knew was there—a part of themselves that feels called to share their empowering message, a part of themselves that feels called to give voice to their stories and their experience, or to bring their creative visions onto the page.
I’ve witnessed a lot of people make the commitment to write books. And it’s really beautiful to see that commitment come through people. And that’s why I decided to do something very special for all of you out there. Anyone who has had the dream of writing a book or written a book before, I wanted to share my expertise with you.
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Hey there. Welcome to Dear Gabby. I’m your host Gabby Bernstein. And if you landed here, it is absolutely no accident. It means that you’re ready to feel good and manifest a life beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s get started.
Welcome back to Dear Gabby, guys. Welcome back. Oh, it’s just a big month for us. It’s a big month ahead. It’s mental health awareness month and this podcast is all about mental health. It’s all about learning how to care for your inner world, for your internal system, learning how to calm your nervous system to regulate your energy.
To care for and respond to yourself with compassion, with love, with curiosity. To be resilient in the midst of discomfort. When I say that, I imagine all of you are like, yes, I want that. Yes. That’s why I’m here. Yes, Gabby, more. Because what happens is that we walk through life with all this baggage and we just carry so much suffering.
And for some of us, it’s just historical storylines that we are ready to undo; for some folks it’s biochemical. Sometimes it’s something that needs psychiatric support. Sometimes it’s trauma recovery that we need to face into. Sometimes it’s unresolved trauma we’re not even aware of.
And all of this, you guys have begun to address if you’re reading Happy Days, you’ve been listening to the podcast. I’ve gone deep here. I’ve really gone deep here. And I want to really just touch into this topic of mental health today to really end the stigma. Shift the shame, make it so that people don’t feel alone in this conversation.
If you’re someone who’s personally struggling with mental health issues, that could be addiction, that could be depression. That could be anxiety. That could be postpartum issues. That could be just not feeling safe in your body, that you are having physical problems. And you’re not sure why, because sometimes we have these physical problems because they’re psychosomatic and we are creating tension in our body due to unresolved stressors in our mind.
And so today I want to answer a bunch of questions that came through from Dear Gabby listeners about mental health. And I want to really open up with you about my own journey and what this has meant to me. I’ll start by getting really honest with you right now.
I lived for decades with an unresolved anxiety disorder, unrecognized, truly, an unrecognized anxiety disorder. And it was really rough. It took a toll on my body. It took a toll on my relationships. It took a toll on everything and just how I functioned, how I woke up in the morning, how I went to bed at night, how I brushed my teeth, how I ate my food, how I digested my food, how I led my team, how I showed up in public settings.
It just affected every corner of my life. And I build my spiritual practice as a way of self-soothing as a way of moving through as a way of healing. And that was the first responder for me was my spiritual practice, my spiritual faith, transitioning into a different mindset, changing my thought patterns.
And that was, that was step one; that was really, really necessary. But then by the grace of God, I was, as many of you have heard me share on this podcast in my books, I was struck with postpartum depression right after having my son. And I went for five months, just completely avoiding the reality that I was actually having a biochemical reaction to the postpartum experience.
My brain chemistry was changing. I was having severe anxiety, insomnia, depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia, suicidal ideation. And this was really just the manifestation of what was already rumbling for many years undiagnosed. And then in the postpartum period, it got blown out and by the grace of God, I was led to a psychiatrist.
I was guided on a medicated path. I was able to get back to baseline and then I was able to go do extraordinary therapy to undo the mental patterns that got me there in the first place. But what’s most important about me sharing the vulnerable truth of that story is that one of the things that I was doing for many years was I think I was part of the stigma.
I was part of the stigma around mental health issues. There were people coming to me in my lectures and saying, Hey, Gabby, I’ve got depression. I have severe anxiety. And I’d be like, try this meditation, or here’s a prayer. And while that was a beautiful, loving, generous response. That’s not always going to be the best response when someone is having a biochemical condition, when someone is going through something that needs psychiatric support.
And it got so bad with me being so unconscious of my unconscious awareness of how I might’ve been contributing to this stigma. And it got to a point where I asked my team, two of my team members who struggled with anxiety. Very cherished people in my life. People who had been with me for a long time, really loved them deeply.
I said, listen, I know you guys have worked through a lot of your anxiety. Could you work together to write a blog about it? And so they wrote this gorgeous blog and they shared their anxiety journeys. They talked a lot about it. And one of my team members has been on medication for many years and really saved her life.
And she wrote about that. And this is way before my diagnosis. This is way before I even knew I had any mental health issues or even was able to accept it or admit it. And they wrote this piece. And one of these team members wrote this whole story about how she was so proud to be on medication and how much the medication had saved her and supported her.
And I called her up and I said, listen, this might create a whole conversation on the blog. And I just don’t want to have all the comments talking back and forth about medication. Can we take that out? And my goodness, this just was so heartbreaking for her. She was so, so rocked, so, so sad. And I didn’t get it.
I was like, well, don’t you get it? This is a big topic. I don’t want to go there. And she was sitting there in the seat of this experience, thinking, are you serious? Like this medication saved my life. How come I can’t talk about it?
If you’re a frequent listener of this show, you know, that I’ve been very, very vocal about how important my gut health is. In Happy Days, I write a lot about my struggles with gastrointestinal issues for over a decade. Really took me down, really just affected every corner of my life. And this episode today is all about mental health and our gut is our second brain.
So when we have gastrointestinal issues, there’s typically a mental health condition. That’s what we’re going to be addressing here on the show today. But then we also have to address the physical condition. And so our gut literally impacts everything. It impacts our weight and impacts our mood impacts our skin, our digestion, everything, just everything.
And because your gut houses literally 80% of your immune system, a healthy gut is really the only way to be your best. It’s truly the path to feeling your best. And unfortunately, our bodies are being attacked all the time and wreaking havoc in our guts. Stress and toxins, even just one day of eating the Western-style diet can really mess up your microbiome.
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The moment that I got my own diagnosis and made the trip to the pharmacy to go get my medication and accepted that this wasn’t something I could meditate my way out of, I called her. And I said I am so sorry that I put this stigma onto you. That I was so unaware of what this was. And in turn, shamed you.
And then, within a few moments of her accepting my apology and really being very, very graceful and very, very mature about it. She then became one of my greatest supporters at that time because she was able to help me understand my journey and what I was going through. And that’s a really important message for me to share humbly.
And of course, it’s quite shameful to think about the fact that I was part of the state. That’s how the stigma begins. You know, it’s even in this space of wellness and, and self-healing and all of the things that we are absolutely capable of doing through our therapy, through our, our mental health, through our food.
There are times in places for many of us where our brain chemistry needs support. So I really have to speak to that before I get into the self-help methods and the practical methods and the therapeutic methods. I really want to acknowledge those listeners out there who may find yourself needing additional support.
And one of the things that really helped me get my head around taking medication when I needed it was the belief system that God was in the medication. That the same way God would be working through a therapist, or the same way God would be working through a book. God was working through the psychiatrist who ultimately saved my life.
She saved my life. I was having suicidal ideation and she gave me a proper diagnosis and put me on a healing path that saved my life. I also want to emphasize that I didn’t just take the medication to get to baseline. I went into deep three times a week therapy. Healing the trauma and the unresolved wounds that had been definitely a contributor to that postpartum experience as well.
And so, I really want to be a voice for all forms of care when it comes to mental health. I want to be an advocate for those of you who need additional support with psychiatric medication. I want to be an advocate for those of you who need additional support with changing your diet. I want to be an advocate for those of you who need additional support with therapy or self-help methods.
I’m here to talk about all of it today. And we can’t talk about one piece of it without talking about the full puzzle, because there’s different needs at different times, too. Sometimes people need that support and sometimes they can let it go. And there’s a lot of big, heavy conversations these days where people are really, really, really suffering.
And my prayer is that wherever you are on the spectrum of your own suffering, that this podcast really offers you a gentle hand, a guided path to really opening up your awareness to all the possibilities for your own recovery and healing. And so I’m going to dive in with some of the questions that you guys sent in.
Tons of you sent in questions. I’m going to go riffing through the Dear Gabby’s on mental health and just really celebrate the fact that you’re here, that you’re listening, that you’re open, that you’re willing, that you’re ready to go into this conversation with me. It’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal.
And so this is the first question, Dear Gabby, how can I get more support from my family or partner as I’m struggling with mental health?
This is a big one for me. This is a big one for me. I really am feeling that deeply. Oh, my friend, wherever you are in the world, the best way to get that support is to tell the truth about where you’re at. Often, when we’re going through a mental health struggle, we minimize it. We can also be in our own denial of it.
Oh, it’s not that bad or so-and-so has it worse or I’m going to be okay. Everything’s okay. So if that’s what’s happening, I’d really help you get grounded in the truth and speaking your truth and going to your family members and saying, this is the truth of where I’m at. I need help. I need support. I need guidance.
I need you to just hold me in this. Now, if it’s the opposite and you’ve been speaking up and you’ve been talking about it and you’re still not getting the support from these people in your life, then the next step is to find that support elsewhere because sometimes it’s, this is the sad truth.
Sometimes the people closest to us are so triggered by our own stuff, or they can also be not capable of handling and holding us in this kind of conversation. And that’s when we really need the support of a therapist, or we really need the support of a friend, or we are maybe you’re in the Miracle Membership community. And you have me as your coach every week in your inbox, or you have the group, the miracle membership group.
Whatever it is. I would want you to open up your conscious awareness to the support systems that are available to you. And that’s actually where prayer truly does come in. You can pray with me now.
I pray for support. I pray for guidance, support, compassion, and love. That’s a gorgeous prayer. I pray for guidance, support, compassion, and love. Opening up your consciousness to that prayer will then be a beautiful way for you to start to raise your awareness of where that, that is in your life, where it might live in your life.
Coming back to this podcast, being in the miracle membership, getting a therapist, these are all extraordinary ways of really diving deep into the possibilities for support outside of your immediate family. Yeah, wouldn’t it be great if our immediate family could just show up, but that’s not always the case.
And we also have to realize, you know, when we’re going through a mental health crisis, our partners and parents and family members may check out. They may be so overwhelmed and triggered by our reactivity, our experience that they may have parts of them that dissociate and check out. And while that’s difficult and tough, it’s also very common.
And so we need to make sure that we build our own support team. And that’s actually what I did. When I was going through my trauma recovery, I knew that I couldn’t put it all on my husband. I knew that certain family members could show up and certain family members couldn’t. And I just built a team—a team of friends therapists, a support team, books. Happy Days can be your team right now.
Happy Days is a book that could really hold your hand through your journey. So it’s really important to just give yourself the prayer of opening up your conscious awareness to support and love and compassion, and also to open up to creating in establishing a team for your journey forward.
A few weeks ago, I shared about the coolest company called NutriSense. It’s a company that tracks your blood glucose levels to help you make changes and achieve your health goals. In addition to my commitment to move in some way every day, I also make sure I’m eating the right foods and getting enough sleep.
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Next question, Dear Gabby. I worry constantly about my child. Am I suffering from anxiety? Yeah, I believe that constant worry, incessant worry is a form of anxiety. And often, those worries and those anxious reactions stem from our own unresolved childhood wounds.
In Happy Days, I talk a lot about, a lot about all the different ways that we experienced trauma as children, big T trauma or small T trauma. And so if we were anxious in our own world as children, we often will carry that anxiety over to our projection of our littles—the babies and the children in our life that we, that we care for.
If we were not cared for. And we were not given a safe, secure, soothing environment where we were seen, we often lived in a very reactive way. We continue to live in a reactive way because those, those little children within us were never cared for.
And so if those inner children within us are still, uh, scared and anxious. Of course, we’re going to project that anxiety onto our own little people. And so the best advice I have for you is to go read Happy Days: The guided path from trauma to profound freedom and inner peace, and care for your own inner child.
That part of you that is still anxious. That part of you that’s worrying for yourself. There’s a chapter once you get through the book, you get to chapter nine, which is about reparenting yourself. And then in that chapter, by that point, you’re going to be really doing some big, heavy lifting to care for, and heal and honor your own internal condition and your own inner children.
And that will also give you the beneficial practices for caring for your own children. We have to retrieve our little inner children, bring them back to safety. That’s why I wrote Happy Days, go grab that book. Or if you’ve read it, read it again and again and again, and continue the journey of soothing and creating a safe, secure environment for the little inner children within you that never got that care.
And as we start to heal that relationship, our anxiety will subside, our fear for our own children will release we’ll stop projecting our own stuff onto our kids. So that’s a big, big one, whether you have children or not, we all have children, our own inner children, and they need a lot of love. They need a lot of compassion.
They need a lot of creative energy, curious energy. They need to be cared for. I’m so happy that today can say, oh, there’s a book for that! [LAUGHTER] Head over to Happy Days, or go listen to any of the episodes on the introduction to Happy Days. Uh, I, I shared about chapter one in this, in this podcast and see if it’s for you. I really can’t recommend it enough.
Next question, Dear Gabby, how could I identify if someone I know is suffering from a mental health problem? Well, let’s put it this way. I think all of us in our own ways have our own forms of mental suffering. When you would define it as a mental health issue or a mental health concern, it’s typically when it’s blown out in a way when it’s unmanageable.
When the person becomes powerless, like they say, in addiction, recovery, if you’re powerless or your life has become unmanageable, that’s when you know you have an addiction, you’re powerless over the substance and your life has become unmanageable.
And I can probably say the same for mental health. It’s when you become powerless over the mental health issues. You just can’t soothe yourself anymore and you can’t control your experience. And I hate the word control. You can’t care for yourself to bring yourself back to safety when we’re blown out in that way.
And then of course, if your life is unmanageable, right? So can’t show up to work that day because you were up all night with insomnia, or you can’t go to a, a birthday party because you have agoraphobia or you can’t get through the day because of you have extreme anxiety. Those moments of unmanageability and powerlessness are a sure sign that there’s something that needs tending to—whether it be therapeutic, psychiatric, through a book like Happy Days, whatever it might be.
And so that’s the questions I would ask yourself about yourself or about the folks in your life. Is this unmanageable, are they powerless? What’s going on for them?
Next question. Dear Gabby, what is the best way to improve mental well-being? Ooh. Nice question. I think the path is going to be unique to all of us, but first, it starts by having the willingness to change and the willingness to heal. that you can check off because you’re here.
The fact that you’re listening to me right now, it means that you have the willingness to heal. And the best way to begin that journey of improving our mental wellbeing is to just be conscious and aware of the ways that we have been feeling. The feelings that we may be running from. The thoughts and the experiences that we may be avoiding looking, taking an inventory.
In Happy Days, in the first chapter, there’s a practice that is designed to help you look at your triggers and then look at the feelings behind the triggers, and then look at the ways that you run from those triggers. And that audit—I’m going to teach it to you now—that audit is such a profound way of taking an honest inventory of where you’re at with your mental well-being.
And then with that great awareness, you can take the next necessary steps to begin the healing path, but you can’t heal what you cannot see. So we must look more closely at what’s up so that we can show up for it. And so, the practice is to get out your notebook and make three columns. In one column, and this is all written out in chapter two of Happy Days.
It’s all there. You can grab it from the book. You can do it right here, right now. Column one, writing out what triggers me. So it could be, you know, when someone tells me to be quiet or when I’m out of control or when my kid’s having a tantrum. What are the triggers in my life?
Make a list of five triggers and then next to each trigger, write down what’s the feeling that’s ignited when the trigger shows up? Right? So for me, the example of being out of control at work. And then the feeling is I feel a tightness in my chest. I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel like I want to just push something. I feel, I feel this rage inside of me. And then how do you react?
What’s your reaction? How do you run from that feeling? How do you push it away? How do you not face it? And for me it would be trying to control everything or raging, or, you know, doing, doing, doing to not have to feel that suffering. And so making that list of what’s the trigger, what’s the feeling behind the trigger and how do you run from the trigger.
And that powerful, profound step of taking that inventory of the ways that you run from your wellbeing, your serenity, the ways that you run from and push past feelings that are triggering is a humongous step forward in the path towards wellbeing because we cannot heal what we cannot see.
So that’s step one. That’s really where I want you to start. And then if you want to keep going, you can keep going with therapy. You can keep going with the Happy Days, you can keep going with this podcast. I’ve got a lot of resources for you here. Thankfully. I’m so happy to be able to say that.
If you know me, you know, I love to cook. It’s something that’s very meditative for me, but some days I’m so busy and I just can’t fit in the meal planning and the prepping. And honestly, I love cooking, but I hate prepping. I hate prepping. Maybe just cause I like to move so fast. And sometimes it’s just nice to get straight to the part where the great meal requires no prep, and just creative flow.
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Oh, my God. So good. And there’s always this like incredible flavor that also inspires me as a chef because I think about the ingredients and I wonder, oh, I could probably sneak that into my food one day. And so I love to be surprised with these plant-based dishes. They just taste so good. Splendid Spoon takes the work out of eating healthy. Splendid Spoon meals are shipped right to your door, ready to eat.
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Dear Gabby, my doctor suggested drugs, but I’m worried about that. What do I do? If you’re worried about a medicated path that you may have been suggested to go on, possibly consider getting an additional diagnosis.
If you have worry often, there’s a lot in there. Maybe you don’t trust this doctor. Maybe you have a stigma that’s up. So one option is to go get a second opinion from a reputable psychiatrist to make sure that you’re actually gonna make the right move. I say, you know, is it, oh, I thank God. I got a medication saved my life, but that’s not a small thing.
It takes a while sometimes to get on the right medication. All people are different. All of our brain chemistry is different. Thankfully, luckily for me, I found a medication that really fit well with my body and my brain, but a lot of people, it takes a while to get on the right medication. There’s side effects.
You can’t skip your meds. You can’t just get off meds right away. You have to slowly titrate off of them. There’s a lot of things to be aware of. And so it’s not something to jump into. And there is the other side of medication, which is that things are very overly prescribed at times. Sometimes somebody is just like, I’m having a hard time.
And someone throws them a medication. Well, you know, maybe just try therapy first. So there’s two sides to every story and it can’t be one or the other. It has to be a balance. But if you’re worried and you’re concerned, I would say, go get another opinion from a reputable psychiatrist. And at that stage, if they come back and they give you the same diagnosis and the same medical suggestions, then the next step would be to really sit with yourself and ask yourself, is this something that I believe I can do in therapy?
Or is it too overwhelming? Am I too taken out? Is my life unmanageable? Am I powerless? Am I feeling destructive towards myself? Do I want to harm myself in any way? Am I unable to function in the world? By the time you want to get on a medication, that’s really where you want to be. Asking yourself, not just, oh, I’m sad or I’m just having a bad day because there’s a big difference between panic attacks, insomnia, suicidal ideation, deep depression, some of this can be healed.
A lot of this can be healed through trauma therapy, through EMDR, through somatic, experiencing through all of the above. Everything I write about in Happy Days, but there are times in life when the brain chemistry is so rocked and the nervous system is so. I don’t even know if you’d say the brain chemistry is rocked, but that’s my language that you need that medicated support.
But I want you to really take that decision seriously. Like I said, it took me five months to get medicated. Now I don’t recommend that to people because I suffered for five months, but it is important to really exhaust all other options first. And then if you come to the place, where you’re like, okay. Yeah, you know, this is, this is seeming like I got two diagnoses.
Two different doctors who told me, yes, do this. I’ve done my research. I’m going to slowly try out this with one medication. I’m going to do it with the support of a psychiatrist. You don’t really want to do this. Any kind of psychiatric adjustment in your life needs psychiatric guidance. So you want to have that great support system. Check in regularly with your doctor.
Be very honest about what’s going on for you. And just go slow. Do your due diligence first, if you’re worried about it, you know. Sometimes people, in my case, like in my case, you hit such a bottom that there’s only one way out, which is okay, I’m going to surrender to this. And I just got to go. That was my experience, but many people they’re just suffering and they maybe haven’t tried other things yet.
Maybe they haven’t tried therapy yet. Maybe they haven’t tried EMDR or IFS, which I wrote, I write about all of these therapeutic practices and we just had a somatic experiencing podcast with David Berger that came out recently. You can go listen to that. We’ll put it in the show notes. There’s a whole podcast about internal family systems with Dick Schwartz.
I also am trained in IFS and have been using it all over the place here on the podcast. So that’s something you could look into. There’s a lot of different therapies that we talk about here on the podcast that are going to be extremely valuable for you. Maybe exhaust those other options first. But if you’re in that acute situation where you’re really not able to move forward, then get another diagnosis and really make that decision from an educated place.
Dear Gabby, when do I know it’s time to see a therapist? Now. I think everybody should have a therapist. I think that being alive, being human is hard. And it’s scary. And whether it’s a therapist, whether it’s a self-help book, whether it’s listening to a podcast like this, we all need help. We need support, we need guidance, we need direction.
That’s why I love my Miracle Membership for folks who maybe don’t want therapy or can’t afford a life coach, they can just have weekly coaching with me, direction, guidance, get weekly meditations, and weekly coaching practices. Challenges, all the support that we put inside that membership is not to replace therapy, but it is, it is, it is like having a coach in your inbox every Sunday or your coach in your phone.
And so that is a great way, but I think all of us need support in whatever form that comes. We all need it. So the answer is now. Now is the time.
Let’s end with this one. Dear Gabby, how do I control my anxiety? You don’t. Don’t control it. Befriend it. Witness your anxiety. And just in this moment, notice where it lives in your body.
Notice what it feels like in your body. Notice if it has a shape or a color. Notice, if it has any words attached to it, is it tight? Is it soft? Is it clenching? What do you know about it? Does it have an age? Does it have a gender? Are there any images that come to your mind? What do you know about your anxiety?
Just think, don’t judge any thoughts that come to mind. How long has it been with you? And now ask your anxiety with a lot of curiosity and compassion. Anxiety, hat do you need from me? What do you need from me? And just hear what you hear. Maybe you hear, I need a hug. I need love. I need you to create a boundary.
I need breath. I need to be seen. I need connection. I need a calm presence. We can’t control our anxiety. The more we try to control it, the more elevated it gets; we have to befriend it. Befriend your anxiety by noticing it. Knowing what you know about it, giving it a voice and then asking it what it needs, respect your anxiety.
It’s a part of you it’s been with you likely for a very long time, and it needs your compassion. It needs your curiosity. It needs your courage to face into it. It needs the calm presence that’s within you. It needs to be seen, take a deep breath in and breathe into that. And on the exhale, let it go. Big talk, guys—big, big talk.
If you listened all the way through to the end. I’m wanting you to know that I’m really proud of you. Proud that you’re here and proud that you’re listening and proud that you’re showing up and proud that you’re facing your truth and proud that you’re listening to your inner voice. I’m proud that you’re talking about stuff that people don’t talk about.
That you’re open to this conversation. You’re a rock star. If you know anyone who is struggling with mental health right now, please share this episode with them, help them know they’re not alone. Help them release the stigma, give them direction, support them. If you want more support on this path, go grab your copy of Happy Days.
Let me be your guide. So proud to be in this conversation with you. And there is healing on the other side, I promise you there is light at the end of the tunnel. My friends, I promise. I’m proud of you.
If you made it to the end of this episode, that means you’re truly committed to miracles. I’m really proud of you. If you want to get more Gabby, tune in every Monday for a new episode. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the guidance or special bonus episodes.
Your experience at this show means a lot to me. So I really want to welcome you to leave an honest review. And you can follow me on social media at @GabbyBernstein. And if you want to get in on the action, sign up for a chance to be Dear Gabby’d live at deargabby.com. See you next week.