Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 65

This is the 65th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Tammy lived an invincible youth till one day she lost all control of her life. This is her story:

Photo from: Tammy
Photo from: Tammy

Tammy is from South Florida and she loves different forms of art, from fashion to film. Tammy said, “I Love creating and acquiring new skills. I’m very passionate on self-improvement and strive everyday to be a better person. I’m hands down stuck in the 90s! Still watch Hey Arnold among other cartoons religiously. This might sound weird, but one of my favorite movies of all time is Coneheads! I just love weird and silly things.”

She is proud to say that five years from now, she sees herself finally settled in a job that she feels completely comfortable in and her ultimate goal in life is to be content and proud of herself. Tammy was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with panic disorder two years ago, and has experienced Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies and agoraphobia. She still deals with occasional panic attacks and general anxiety disorder (GAD) on a regular basis. She said, “It’s been a long road to get to where I am today. Two years ago I never could have imagined having my life back again.”

Tammy thinks transitions in her life is what caused her disorders. She had just finished her cosmetology program at the time and kind of felt like she was thrown in an abyss. She said, “I felt that my entire youth I was invincible and never realized how fragile life really is. I never thought about my own death. I feel like uncertainty triggered it. I lost my dad when I was 8 and two years ago I lost a good friend in a car crash as well and it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Art found at:
Art found at:

Tammy has visited countless doctors and have gotten every test she could possibly get and it all lead to anxiety. Antidepressants was her treatment of choice as well as psychological therapy. The symptoms she felt were strong and it interfered with her life. She didn’t have prior symptoms before her first panic attack. It just fully developed and escalated quickly. She said, “I felt severe derealization, out of control thoughts of every wrong possible scenario. I Lacked appetite, ultimately I ended up weighing 99 pounds.” Tammy lost about 15 pounds or more and couldn’t do anything. She lost all control in her life. Not only that, but the physical symptoms were unbearable, she would hyperventilate and deal with migraines regularly.

Due to this Tammy had to quit her job and move away. She thought her life was over and that nothing could help her. Sadly, she considered suicide and had thoughts of it everyday, but thankfully she did not want to take that route. This disorder isolated her from friends and family. Tammy said, “I feel like mental disorders are so misunderstood. Just because it can’t be seen physically doesn’t mean it’s not there and I feel like I wasn’t given the support I needed and lost so many friends because of this.” Tammy still feels extremely betrayed, but she discovered she has herself and God. She said, “It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions I met so many amazing new friends whom have been the support I needed and I feel like the people who truly want to be a part of my life are there.”

Art found at:
Art found at:

She still deals with anxiety and panic attacks, but she is officially off antidepressants and actually feels better without them. Her good friend Anson from South Dakota took her in, from there she became independent and it was a life changing experience. Eventually, Tammy moved back to Florida, took matters into her own hands and decided to get MRI, multiple EKG and X-RAY done, but they all came out clear. From there she went to a Good Samaritan counselor and took therapy every week. It helped her tremendously. She said, “The antidepressants stopped working for me and I experienced multiple setbacks from there I decided it was time to get off the pill and started working out more and drinking more water. Guided meditation helped as well. It definitely takes a lot of will power and self-love to get better everyday. I’m not 100% recovered, but I’m just thankful I’m not where I used to be.”

Tammy cut off all forms of caffeine, eliminated alcohol and any extreme sugary or processed foods. She kept her mind occupied and began using her creativity. In all the chaos, she decided to indulge herself in creating a brand. It’s still in the works, but it is her big project at the moment. Others helped her through prayer, but most importantly they would not take it personal when her anxiety got bad and she had to ask them to leave. They would also reach out to Tammy at first to check that she was okay.

The biggest lesson she learned is self-love. Tammy said, “I always placed others before me and I compromised myself my whole life. It was an eye opener seeing how I had neglected myself and that this time I had to take care of me.” She also said, “My perception of life changed 100% I doubted my existence for the longest. I feel like this experience changed me for the better and now I’m incapable of judging others as I know internally we’re all fighting a battle.” She now stays true to herself to prevent this from happening again. Tammy has the out most respect for others and will always value people’s opinions, but she will no longer take negative comments personal.

This is Tammy’s advice for other struggling:

“Stop searching for every symptom online! This was something I did every hour of the day for two years. It made me so sick. Please just don’t do it. Believe the doctors and follow what they tell you. Work out and drink water. I know we’re not perfect, but to work out at least twice a week for 30 minutes helps tremendously. Also quit trying to get people to understand you. Be your own hero. Likeminded people like you will come to your life at the right time. Have faith.”

“It may seem like it won’t ever get better but it does. Not immediately. It’s all a process. Slowly but surely with positive thinking and a lot of will power it does get better. Stay strong!”

Tammy was able to bring her life around, and that takes strengths. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.

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