I was just a child when I asked my parents to see a specialist and start psychotherapy.
I was 11 years old, I didn’t feel comfortable with my peers, and I didn’t feel comfortable in general terms, thinking that there was something wrong with me.
I felt that it was not normal to be so attracted to knowledge at my age.
I was an introvert, loved to stay alone, spending time in nature, or with my books and pets, and occasionally with adults.
I still remember the feeling of disassociation I perceived at the time, probably due to our model of society, that didn’t look appealing to me.
The specialist “diagnosed” just a kind of misalignment between my physical age and my maturity (in other words, I was an adult in the body of a child), and told my parents that the philosophical questions I was posing to him would suggest that I should look more for a spiritual guide than a doctor.
Anyway I wanted to start a psychotherapy, that was useful to help me understand how to deal with my discomfort.
In my life, I never stopped working in order to know more about myself and deepen the way the mind works. I learned that there is no mind “separated” from the correspondent body, and my knowledge helped me to cope when anxiety and panic attacks started bothering me when I was still a teenager. I was studying piano at the time, and one of my teachers terrified me literally.
But this experience made me even more interested to understand how a "simple” fear related to a piano lesson could trigger something so irrational to give me symptoms like it was the end of the world.
I started playing with my breathing to manage my crisis, then I started deepening different kinds of approaches, and I learned how to manage my symptoms.
When I discovered to be a medium I was only 17 years old, and I thought immediately that I was crazy. Maybe schizophrenic or something like that. Fortunately I got in touch with a group of scientists (psychologists, psychiatrists, graphologists) and asked to be tested. So I was reassured because they stated that there was nothing wrong with my mental health.
In a few years anxiety and panic attacks were just a memory. Then, after an accident which caused a mild brain anoxia, I experienced symptoms of depression. I knew that it was something due to my suffering and fortunately my already recovering brain, but it was horrible anyway.
I feel blessed because all the work on myself I did unstoppably since my childhood helped me develop a constructive and solution-oriented attitude, so I am very resilient and never give up.
But it was a nightmare anyway. And years later, when CFS/ME showed up (due to a viral infection that hit my brain again), all the past symptoms popped up again, in a crazy mix making me feel both my body and mind shattered.
But I never give up, so I kept saying to myself that it was just a transition. And again I managed to come out from the nightmare.
I am grateful to have experienced symptoms that, for those who never had this experience, are very difficult to understand.
I consider myself very lucky because those symptoms just “touched" me for a very short time.
And I am even more grateful because my background helped me come out from the nightmare through a somatic approach. The knowledge of how the state of the body and the use of breathing and movement affect positively the state of the mind has been a key to my full recovery. Moreover, I know where I could find support.
But what about those who experience symptoms like those, or worse, and have no tools?
I think that the experience of physical pain is very common and immediately elicits empathy and compassion. But mental pain is difficult to explain to someone who never experienced that.
When I experienced depression, the only thing that saved me was the strong memory of myself before the accident. I was able to remember and “recall” my personality, my attitude, my humour. The sense of self I've had built until that moment was strong enough to help me recover.
But I was already in my 40s, and then in my 50s, and I was equipped with enough inner and outer resources to draw from, until my brain recovered.
What about those who are not equipped? Why is the experience of “mental” symptoms still judged, while in the presence of a broken bone everything looks easier?
Our science is still very young, and the mysteries of what we still call “mind-and-body” interactions (as if the mind and body were separated entities) are still far to be unveiled. But we are making progress.
And I want to remind all of you that mental suffering can be much worse than physical.
It’s something hidden, invisible, and looks out of control.
It’s not noticeable like a physical wound is.
Be gentle, be kind. You never know who is fighting a battle against it.