Hey everyone! It's been a little while since I've written anything, but today I have something special for you! Where I work we have something called QTalks (kind of like a Ted Talk) and you are able to do a presentation on anything you like, but it must be educational and inspirational. Well, I have decided to share my story. I have written out my speech and I want to share it with all of you first, and if anyone has any feedback, I am happy to hear it! I want to make this talk the best it can be! So here we go...
Good Afternoon everyone!
I am here today to talk about happiness, but before I do, I want to do a little questions and answer!
If you’ve ever felt sad, raise your hand and keep it raised. How about depressed? How about feelings of anxiety or anxiousness? Now, look around… You’re not alone. Including me!
350 million people globally are affected by some form of depression.
16.1 million people in the U.S. over the age of 18 are affected by Major Depressive Disorder in a given year.
6.8 million people in the U.S. over the age of 18 are affect by generalized anxiety disorder in a given year and women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
It’s not uncommon for people to diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. Nearly one-half of people who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.
Now that you know all those mental health statistics, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Anna Forcier and I have been diagnosed with Post traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and severe anxiety. So, I’m sure you can imagine how I’m feeling up here right now!
For those of you who don’t know, post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health disorder that is caused by experiencing or witnessing a trauma. It is usually associated with veterans, but anyone can be diagnosed with it.
With all that being said, I’d like to get real with all of you.
Three years ago, I was drugged and raped by a man I had just met. We were having drinks and I can only recall a few things after that. I’ll spare you all the details. After this happened, I felt worthless, not important, pathetic, at fault, and I really didn’t want to be alive. I will refer to this as my trauma.
Which brings me to a year ago. I tried to commit suicide and was put in a psychiatric hospital for about a week. The night I tried to take my life, I was at my lowest point. I kept thinking back to my trauma and had convinced myself it was all my fault and that I was a worthless human, because why would anyone do something like that to me if I had any worth?
By now, you are probably wondering why I just told you all that when the title of this talk is about being happy? Well, I wanted to let you know that I’m not just your typical happy person who has never faced hard times. I have, and I want to share my path to happiness. While I talk through this, I want to mention that this is MY path and there is no one single path, but my hope today is that something in here is helpful to at least one person in this room.
I’d like to take you back before my trauma. I was the healthiest I had ever been in my life, I was working as a personal trainer, I had just finished a half marathon, I loved going out and having fun with friends, and I was just living life to its fullest.
After my trauma, my life went spiraling down. I gained 70 pounds, I was no longer living a healthy lifestyle, I quit my job as a personal trainer, I didn’t want to do anything at all. Laying in bed was all I would do.
Today, I am happy to say that I am in a much better place. I’m working on getting back to my healthy lifestyle and enjoying life again.
So how did I do it? A LOT of hard work. I’d like to talk a little more specifically on how I turned it all around.
The biggest thing that has helped me is therapy. I LOVE my therapist. It took me three different tries with three different therapists to finally find the right one. I’m so glad I was patient enough to find her. She has helped me change my way of thinking for the better. I recommend therapy to everyone! Even if you think you don’t need it! It’s wonderful, but just have patience because it might take you some time to find someone who is right for you.
Medication has been another thing that is super helpful for me. It took me about a year to realize it was something that I actually needed. Finding the right medicine for me was the hard part. It took me 2 trips to the psychiatric hospital and finally getting a psychiatrist to get my meds straight and I’m proud to say that today I am on stable medication.
Family has been another huge factor in my path to happiness. Specifically, my sister and brother-in-law. They are both kind enough to let me live with them in their house. If I come home late or my brother-in-law sees that my car isn’t outside he will text me and make sure I’m ok. My sister took me on a vacation right after my trauma to help me relax and because I was starting my new job at Quicken Loans that next week. She is always here for me if I need anything or if I simply need to talk. My mom has also been a big help in all of this. She spends hours looking up ways to help PTSD, anxiety, and depression and is always having me try something new. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
Marcus, my nephew, is one of the reasons I haven’t tried to commit suicide again. He fills my life with joy and I want to see him grow up and get to know him and I want him to know his aunt and not just the memory of me.
My friends are the best friends a girl could ask for. I only have a few close ones, but that’s all I need! They have all been so supportive of me even though they all live across the state or across the country. Breeyn, has been my biggest supporter. She has been there for me since day 1 of my trauma. She drove all the way from Grand Rapids to Detroit to take me to the ER when I tried to kill myself and waited more than 24 hours with no sleep until I was taken to the psychiatric hospital. Everyone needs to find a Breeyn! If you can’t find someone like her, I’ll be your Breeyn!
Stella is my 3-year-old Yorkie and I love her so much. My sister got her for me about a month after my trauma and it was a little much for me at the time. She stressed me out and I was already going through so much. Now, I am so glad we got her. She calms me down and makes me so happy with her teddy bear face. Animals are so awesome for reliving stress, just make sure you’re ready for them and are in a good place!
Yoga and meditation have been great for me. I had only done Yoga in college, but I never really liked it, I just didn’t get it. After my trauma, a friend dragged me to a class with her and as I sat on my mat at that Yoga studio I began to understand. I suddenly felt my anxieties lift and fade away and I started to relax. At the end of Yoga, you do Savasana or corpse pose (most people’s favorite part of Yoga) and I just laid there with my eyes closed and listened to the instructor speak about the intention for the day. I couldn’t tell you what that intention was because I was so caught up in the moment. I went home and did some research on Yoga and meditation and found out how beneficial it is for someone like me. I haven’t stopped since. I currently do Yoga once a week at Citizen Yoga ($5 drop ins) and I meditate before bed every night.
Finding a hobby was hard for me. I never really wanted to do anything or get out of bed. My sister would pull me out of bed and make me go on a walk with the family which eventually turned into us hiking every weekend and now it’s something I love to do. I just got back from Yosemite National Forest in June and it was the most breath-taking thing I have ever seen. Being out in nature makes me feel so good. Fresh air does the body, mind, and soul good!
Volunteering is another thing that makes me feel happy. Helping others, in general, is my passion. I raise money and volunteer for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I do their walks once a year in September in Hart Plaza and I hold trivia nights to raise money. The reason I chose this organization is because I want to help other people understand that they have other options and I don’t want anyone to have to feel the way I once did. RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. I have been selected to speak about my experience to others whenever there is an event in the area. I love what they stand for and their mission. Also, Haven. Haven is where I went after my trauma. It was very secretive and welcoming. I went to this little house in Royal Oak where I was checked out and my statement was taken. They offer legal console , shelter, therapy, support groups, and can help get personal protection orders. They also offer education to people who are supporting a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Lastly, sharing. Sharing has been part of my journey to recovery and happiness. I write a blog about my experience in hopes that I reach someone who has gone through something similar and finds help in my words. It also helps me. Letting go of my feelings and not letting them sit deep down inside of me until I explode. I’m also standing in front of you all today in hopes that I have inspired at least one of you to try something that has helped me. Give it a try and you can be happy, too!