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Meet Keara

Mental Health Mondays

Meet Keara

Morgan Daniels

Photo by Keara

Photo by Keara

What brings you joy?

Things that bring me joy include anything dealing with art whether it be painting or attending an art gallery to look at other artist's artwork. I also enjoy traveling and beach vacations, along with gym workouts.

Keara's Mental Health Story:

My name is Keara Douglas, and I suffer from depression and a common sleeping disorder referred to as insomnia.

My depression often came out as either rage or me lashing out at others in anger. This went on for years before I was told and explained what it really was. Most of the time friendships would end because of how I would react to certain situations or things very irrationally, but I just always assumed "that was life" and that "people come and go" not really taking into account of my actions and how I was affecting others. I was first diagnosed with depression, along with insomnia, in the year of 2014 when I went to the doctor simply because I just could not sleep. There are times right now where I may take a nap for 20-30 minutes during a random time of the day and won't sleep again for another two or three days. Now when I say "sleep", I mean to where I'm actually dreaming and asleep for more than an hour. Just imagine only getting at least 25 minutes of sleep for days at hand, and then going to work and school everyday and just being down right angry. Not only from dealing with past trauma and incidents that have occurred throughout your life, but also just being mad due to lack of sleep all together. It drove me into an isolated state mentally. I had no problem being around people physically, but my mind was hardly ever there.

In the year of 2014, what really triggered my depression and what made me really go downhill emotionally was a head on car accident on I-85 between Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA in which a lady was traveling on the wrong side of the interstate and ended up hitting me. I was traveling in the southbound lane to go back to work the next morning after a great night out on the town of Charlotte with family, but there was a lady driving north in the south bound lane. I thank God I was able to walk away all together and I am still here, but I ended up with a concussion, a contusion and now a curved spinal chord. I spent no time in the hospital which is a blessing as well due to the severity of the accident, but I did end up in physical therapy for at least 5-6 months. With both drivers including myself, not hitting any brakes on impact, the force from the impact ended up curving my spine like the letter "S". This lead to my left arm being out of place and muscles just all messed up all throughout my arm, so I really had to regain strength in it and complete therapy to push spinal disks back into place so I could walk straight again and just to sit up straight again.

I took this very hard but I always covered it up with jokes and laughs and smiles so I wouldn’t have to explain to anyone what I was feeling at the time. My insomnia got really bad because of the nightmares I would have about the accident and my fear of what could have happened. My friends didn’t understand what was going on because I just felt like they had their own lives and I didn’t want to become a burden on them with my problems. Crying became a daily activity. Either I would cry all night or I would get up in the mornings crying after laying in my bed the entire night not being able to sleep. The accident left me without a job because they wanted and needed me to come back to work as soon as possible and would not work with me and my injuries. I guess they just thought I was making it up or something, I’m not really sure but even after turning in doctor’s notes and the accident report, they continued to pressure me to come back to work before my body was healed properly. I guess they didn’t understand that at the time I couldn’t pick up anything heavy so not only was I unable to really do anything physically, I wouldn’t have been in the right state of mind mentally and emotionally as well. At the time I was in college and had to leave because of the emotional toll it took on me. I could never focus on my work at all, I really couldn’t focus on anything. My small business began to go downhill because I just could not focus on my work and I didn't know how to explain that to my clients. Some stuck around through those bad times and waited for me to get things together mentally and emotionally, in which I owe them the world, and others never even asked me, “what’s wrong Keara?”. This led to me isolating myself and just wanting to be by myself and that's a disaster waiting to happen when you are suffering from depression.

I ended up finishing physical therapy and regaining strength in my arm, so now I can pick heavy things up again and lift weights at the gym. The gym has become a stress reliever especially for helping me to sleep again. I’m beginning the steps towards finishing up my degree this year. I bought me a brand new car and got a new job. I still battle these bad feelings and lack of sleep today, but I channel things through painting now instead of crying and lashing out at others who just don’t understand what I’m going through mentally. I never took any type of antidepressants nor sleeping aids, as I just didn’t personally agree with it. I didn’t want to become dependent on it, I wanted to learn how to control myself and self-discipline for me, ways to naturally be happy again and I found that in creating artwork. This was a huge lesson for myself that true healing takes time. It also taught me that my mental health matters because before I was actually diagnosed, I had no idea I was becoming a problem for myself just based on how I was thinking and handling that one situation of my life out of at least five different situations from my past that had just piled on top of each other. I hope telling my story helps someone else who may have been through a traumatic accident that has changed their life. Things do get better but you must patient, have faith in God, and let time run its course.