Lydia Perl

I have struggled with mental illness since I was a young child. I had undiagnosed ADD, and I struggled with severe anxiety and depression. I faked being okay for a long time till I had a severe breakdown when I was 12 after surgery on my abdomen. I struggled with suicidal ideation and self-harm. With medication, I eventually got somewhat better. I didn't struggle with those particular issues when I was on medication but I still had a lot of problems and I still was not happy. Things, as expected, got worse when covid happened. I didn't relapse into self-harm or suicidal ideation but despite that, it was still maybe even worse than when I was 12. I was on 80mg of Prozac and I was on hydroxyzine since I was 13 maybe 14. When I was fifteen I was diagnosed with ADD. I had continuous therapy but things were still getting worse no matter what I did. I would have daily mental breakdowns in the spring of my junior year. I had medical issues (which wasn't new for me) but I would end up in the nurse's office on a daily basis for both them and anxiety problems. I could no longer manage my health. I started taking hydroxyzine for sleep. If the nurses didn't send me home for my health problems the counselors would send me home because I simply could not stop crying, and I could not function. I finished the school year and things were still not great in the summer. I didn't have daily breakdowns as I didn't have to force myself to function but they were still frequent. I had signed up and paid for the SAT but I never showed up because I could not stop crying and I had such severe anxiety. My mother did not think she would even get me into school on the first day of my senior year. This is where things finally started to get better. My mom had a friend with anxiety issues and practically overnight she had gotten noticeably better. My mom was at her wit's end trying to help me before school started so she asked her friend what had changed. She pointed us in the direction of her ART therapist. I thought it sounded crazy and like a bunch of hogwash. However, at that point, I was willing to try anything. I had given up hope that things were ever going to get better. My intake was scheduled the day before school started in September. I met all the criteria for PTSD in my intake. Afterward she gave me 15 minutes of the actual therapy. I felt better after just that and I managed to make it through all of school the next week and I only had one or two nightmares that week as opposed to the nightly nightmares I had previously. It was a drastic and quick change and I was afraid it wouldn't stick. Long story short, I was off both hydroxyzine and prozac by the new year. A week after my last dose of Prozac she reassessed me for PTSD and I no longer met the criteria despite meeting all criteria on my previous dose of 80mg of Prozac. She changed my diagnosis from PTSD to Adjustment disorder. It was such a drastic change over a span of a few months that doctors and school counselors are now advising their patients and students in the direction of this therapy in my community. I know my school counselor is now pursuing training in this therapy. This therapy gave me my life back. I was a complete skeptic as it seemed way too good to be true. However, I gave it a try out of pure desperation and it has changed my life.
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