YOU CANNOT OUTRUN AN AVALANCHE:TRUE STORY – Wendy Blanchard, M.S., CHHC, CPS

“After a very challenging and difficult year of profound loss, family illness, and hardships of many types, and at the same time being that rock and “go to” for my family and clients, it is in my deep awareness of self, and the recognition of the mental health signs and symptoms that I am experiencing, which guides me to reach out to ask for help through traditional talk therapy. This is an adjunct to my holistic tools which I practice each day.

As I have been experiencing severe Lupus symptoms, I am also aware that unresolved trauma of this past year still needs to be addressed in order for me to fully heal.  We know that research shows us that when we do not address ongoing anxiety, and/or other mental health disorders and challenges, it will begin to manifest somewhere in our body through physical symptoms, sometimes debilitating us. Once we work through the trauma, we can begin to heal our overall health.

After a recent IV Infusion that triggered a Lupus flare, compounded by this past year’s trauma, I began to experience severe systemic inflammation and pain, as well as loss of appetite, an increase in my anxiety, and “future tripping,” aka what I call the “What If’s.” I counsel others about this very unhealthy mindset, and still found myself there.

I am a trained mental health professional in areas of Mental Health First Aid, certified by the National Council for Behavioral Health, trained and certified by the Suicide Prevention Center of NYS, and the Office of Mental Health NYS, and have a host of training and education in the mental health and substance use disorder field. This includes De-Escalation, Trauma Informed Care and Education, Motivational Interviewing, Spiritual Wellness, just to name a few. I am also a Keynote speaker, author, and advocate locally and across the state of N.Y. I have extensive training in the field, which includes working on the lockdown Behavioral Health Unit every week for three years with those living with a severe and persistent mental illness, as well as the Detox and Recovery Unit, both of which are in our local area hospitals. In addition, I have been the Crisis contact for 3 years in the county where I resided and worked. I was the first person to be called when there was a suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, when someone died by suicide to work with the family, and/or if someone was experiencing any type of mental illness/substance use disorder crisis that needed immediate attention.

As I said, I have extensive training in the field.

I will be presenting my Wellness Approach to Recovery:Whole Person Wellness workshop on behalf of the Friends of Recovery New York State in October of 2021. An honor and a privilege. I have been providing this workshop to many school districts and private organizations locally to rave reviews. We must treat the whole person in order for us to heal on a cellular level.

I always talk about, and write about, and counsel others, that when we are using all of our self-care tools and we are still feeling unwell mentally, with accompanying physical symptoms for a period of two weeks or more, our best self-care practice at this juncture is to reach out to a professional to talk about the underlying cause of the symptoms. Sharing one’s feelings and emotions, and having one other trusted adult to validate that allows us to begin to heal. WE ARE ALLOWED TO FEEL WHATEVER WE FEEL…We all need validation.

Although I am very well aware of what is causing my symptoms, I have knowingly repressed so much over this past year in order for me to “function” at work, and in my everyday living activities. However, as I am well aware, you can run, but you cannot hide. Eventually, if you do not implement all that you need, ongoing for your individual self care, you are forced down to the ground. The good news is…from down on the ground, we can only move upwards, if we are willing to ask for help to begin the process of getting back up.

I try to not let myself keep on moving “here, there, and everywhere,” in my state of “repression,” but sometimes when I get going, it’s like a snowball gaining momentum down the hill, it picks up speed, and it can out run me. I  don’t realize that right on my tail is an avalanche that is going to take me down without warning. Boom………..

We know that our mental health and our physical health are directly correlated. In my self created professional development trainings, and with my clients, this is a component of all that I teach. I, more than anyone, know the significance of this “marriage.” Now in my ninth year of recovery from mental health disorders and substance use disorder, using prescription drugs for most of my life to numb early childhood, and ongoing lifetime trauma, I live with great recognition that I can never take my attention off of my dis-orders. If I do, then I am not living in an “awareness mindset.” This means that my dis-orders are dormant, but can, and do come alive at any time. I must always be aware of my triggers so that when I begin to feel unwell, I can immediately ask for support. And what I will need to get myself back to wellness, will look different from what someone else may need, and it will change over one’s lifetime. Yet, sometimes, in the busy-ness of my life, I allow myself to think that I can out run that impending avalanche…one more time. “On my own. I’ve got this. I don’t need any help”.

Sound familiar? So unhealthy. So unrealistic. So unnecessary.

So, this has been a self check in, a reality check, and a self directed healthy decision to ask for support for my symptoms at this time.

I do not need drugs to assist in my healing and wellness regimen. I will continue to use all of my holistic tools, and align it with talk therapy. This is what I need. Everyone will inherently know what it is that they need to heal, and for each of us, we must find the humility and the courage to ask for what we need.

We always need to look at what has helped us to heal in the past when we are feeling unwell, and use that as a baseline compass. In addition, I am always open to adding in new healthy practices to add to my tool belt of natural and organic solutions. We can always use something new that resonates with us for support. Trial and error. Try everything once, and see what resonates, and throw the rest away.

Today, I offer myself a gentle reminder that even a “rock” can be swept out to sea by a strong enough current. Stress is a current that will take you down if you are not living mindfully, aware, and if you do not have the willingness and humility to say, “I am feeling unwell. I need support.” We must ask for what we need directly and with confidence.

WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH.

In order to normalize these symptoms, and to offer a space of awareness and prevention where we promote a public health approach to mental health and wellness, we must continue to have an ongoing dialogue, raise awareness, and eliminate stigma, which is why I write about, talk about, and counsel others about the facts of mental health. This is my passion and my mission. I lived most of my life without support, and not knowing where to turn for help for the trauma I had endured ongoing. So, not on my watch anymore.

It is in helping others that I remind myself that I too deserve whatever self care that will be healing for me, daily, and lifelong. I am not perfect, and I too fall down. However, I never stay down too long as I know what I need to move myself back to wellness. I am building resiliency ongoing, and I have the hunger to be well, and to lead by example in serving others through my own journey of my “Wellness Approach to Recovery.”

For information on how I can support you in reaching your health and wellness goals, please email me at wendyblanchard044@gmail.com and write “Mental Health” in the subject line.

Please ask me about my widely, and warmly embraced “Wellness Approach to Recovery” program.

Allow me to offer you support through natural and organic solutions, as well as through talk therapy where we treat the whole person in an integrated approach, body, mind, and spirit. You are the driver, I am the co-pilot guiding you through from an alternative perspective, but you make the final call on what you know that you need.

We must treat our mental health in the same way that we treat our physical health…with ongoing self care, self empathy, patience and being cognizant of our signs and symptoms and triggers, so that we can ask for support before the avalanche gets ahead of us. Managing our stress successfully is our best self care.

Everyone needs validation. Or as one of my favorite client’s said recently, “Everyone needs a Wendy.” The highest form of a compliment. And yes, even a mental health professional needs a mental health professional. There is no demographic, population, or culture that can escape their mental health.

WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH. Let us take good care of ourselves…body, mind, and spirit.

“Self care is the actions that we take to achieve wellness, and wellness is where we stand in our power.”

 

Wishing you wellness, peace and awareness.

Love and blessings,

Wendy