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  • Diana Ashworth

No One Told Me I Needed a Mental Health Plan

Updated: Mar 27

‘’I woke up and I couldn't feel my legs.’’ This is what I said on May 6, 2016. You see, on this day I had a massive stroke that paralyzed me from the chest down, it was a very rare spinal stroke. In less than five minutes, I lost the ability to walk, control my trunk muscles, use the bathroom, stand, and regulate my temperature. It also took one was 33 years old. I was devastated.


A black woman with long black hair looking at the camera while wearing a sparkly salmon eyeshadow

My mental health was horrible. I already had struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. This life adjustment was a new demon that I could not control. I wanted to know why, and how this could happen. It triggered my depression, and I was looking for the road to peace and solitude.


This story is all too common for people with paralysis. The mental health journey is one that is a struggle. It is a struggle, because you have the same life, house, and sometimes career, (if your career can adapt to your injury) but you have a whole NEW life. How do you compartmentalize your new emotions with your old life?


YOU DON’T!


When I came home, I did not have a mental health plan. I was not thinking about a plan. I just wanted to get through the night.


There was so much anguish and heartbreak, and I didn’t know what to do. I did not know I needed a mental health plan. I cried for over 30 days, and then I decided to seek help. I saw a therapist. I laid out all my feelings on the line. I was prescribed anti-depressants, and more appointments for me to come in and see the therapist again.


I WAS RELIEVED!


So now that I was talking about my pain, and I was not just crying my days away, I felt so much better, but I still had this lingering feeling of just heartbreak. I knew there was more work I needed to do, but I did not know how...


MY EMOTIONS


Throughout this period in my life, I was so confused. My life was just a bottled-up jar of emotions. I was existing. When you are sent home from the hospital, newly paralyzed, they do not give you a pamphlet on mental health. You receive doctor referrals, for things like gastroenterologists, pain management, and neurologists - just to name a few.


WHERE IS THE MENTAL HEALTH FOLLOW UP?


When there is something so traumatic that happens to you, you need a plan. You need to talk about your emotions and feelings. There needs to be some type of follow up with mental health. I WISH someone had told me that I would need support with my mental health, I would have saved a lot of tears and crying. When you are released from the hospital, they give you a plan to keep your body stable. Your mental health needs stability also, it has been through a lot.


I TALKED TO MY THERAPIST, AND I FOUND OUT THAT PROGRESSION WAS KEY.


I was seeing my therapist, and I learned that each day you get a little stronger. I learned that each day you see things with a different perspective. At the beginning, I was trying to make it through, now I am at the maintaining phase. I saw what I needed to do to get through, and now I am using that same subsistence to continue to progress on.


YOU CAN MAKE IT!


Life is worth every minute, memory, and phase of life. It may be painful, but it is worth it. Always reach out for help and know your limits and boundaries. There isn’t a perfect life, but there is a life that is worth fighting for.


Diana Ashworth lives in North Georgia with her husband of 20 years, and they have two grown sons. Diana is a mentor, advocate, administrator, and stroke survivor. Diana enjoys advocating for the incarcerated community, and justice for all individuals. Diana has been a paralysis survivor since May 16th, 2016.


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