For Island Girls Who Weep In Silence By Kamara Louisy
About 15 years ago while living and going to school in Barbados; after having my daughter I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. After the initial diagnosis I did not seek any treatment due to the stigma attached especially with me being a new mother. The relationship that I was in at the time of my pregnancy caused extreme turmoil to the point where I made my first attempt at suicide, while pregnant. The relationship was verbally and emotionally abusive. Even after that relationship ended the verbal abuse continued.
Compound that with a sexual assault, bad breakups in between, the struggle of single parenthood, family issues and reluctance to seek help, well my mind was definitely struggling to cope.
Segway to my return to school in 2011 to study Veterinary Medicine; I initially had everything under control. That is until the summer of 2012 where an incident in the family occurred and I suffered a nervous breakdown. I lost focus, had panic attacks, frequent breakdowns, insomnia, fatigue and migraines. I fumbled through my last semester after a stern warning from a professor.
It was while I was in the United States, in my final year of Vet school that I realized work was a coping method that kept my mind busy. However, after returning home to Nevis to work, I was plagued with body aches, migraines, fatigue, foggy brain, forgetfulness, insomnia, over eating then under eating, anxiety, isolation, feeling numb, feeling useless and lost. It felt like I’d never gone to school and never ever achieved anything in life. That was when I decided to investigate more. Due to my family history of thyroid disease, that was on the top of my differential list as symptoms can begin showing up even before test results can indicate the problem. Second on the list was mental health issues due to what I recognised as unresolved trauma. My doctors eventually came to the conclusion that based on familial history and the results of a psychological evaluation, that I had both top differentials.
Fortunately, I was open to treatment and the necessary self-care. Unfortunately, the relationship that was i was in ended after I confessed my condition.My next relationship didn’t fare much better as that person used my condition against me to make me feel like I couldn’t do better and he also made me feel that my previous sexual assault was my fault. The whole ‘ rape is not a real thing belief’
After that I was relationship free and quite happy for some time. My next partner seemed perfect at the beginning, he made me feel perfect and that he understood my condition. I began to lapse with my self-care. My financial situation didn’t help also as appointments and medications were expensive and my student loan took a severe chunk of my salary. I also convinced myself that I didn’t really need medication, I just needed to do more enjoyable stuff. The unfortunate thing is that depression can fool you into thinking that all is well. So I focused on work and caring for other people while neglecting myself. I was getting worse as time progressed and I realized that I was getting triggered more frequently due to behaviour patterns that were similar to the ones present in my emotionally abusive relationship prior. There was another breakup and then things came to a head after some truths came to light. Several things transpired and in the end I was triggered to the point where I attempted suicide again. Please note, I did not want to die, I just wanted the pain both physical and emotional to end. Thankfully I was unsuccessful. Two evaluations and several blood tests later indicated that I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and hyperthyroidism was rearing its ugly head.
My mental illness is not something that I want, need or that I can control. Even if trauma wasn’t present my thyroid problems would cause it. In Nevis with such a small population I was already deemed crazy, not because of mental illness but due to the fact that I am goofy, joke around, speak my mind, and express opinions different to Nevisian social norms. Hence, I really have nothing to lose by speaking out. It is my goal to help as many persons who I can by sharing my story.
Kamara is Canadian born to a St. Lucian father and a Dominican mother. She resides in Nevis and is currently a veterinarian assigned to the Livestock Unit of the Agriculture Department. She is also pursuing a Masters in Research at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts. Being a former Ms. Nevis she often chaperones contestants for pageants as well as conducts interview and speech training. She owns PAWFECT PETS, pet care and training services along with her most important job, that of being a mother to her daughter and several pets too numerous to mention.