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New Blog Post by Emily Braun – March 14th, 2018

What’s the point? You’re on a page reading stories of people just like you; people always recovering, overcoming, and praying just like you. What’s the point of reading these if it just makes you think of your tough times—that you may be deemed crazy or different by the harsh world. Well, what’s the point of reading a book if you never learn a lesson? What’s the point of turning the page if there’s nothing left on the other side? What’s the point of moving on if you know every chapter is going to end?

Well I say, do it because one day your story is going to be someone else’s history lesson. You started, you grew, you struggled, you healed, you lived, you remembered, and you can always look back and smile at all that you’ve accomplished. But someone else is going to pick up your book and smile at all the love, lessons, and even losses it has to give.

Mind you, I’m about to share a short tale of my struggle, but it’s only a chapter in my life—my low will never be the whole novel. My mental illness will never consume me, and mental illness should not be consumed in an essence of negativity that so many have portrayed.

To clear some things up, I hate reading actual books, but I love getting to know people. I look at every person on this planet as a book—each filled with vibrant chapters of trial and triumph, lessons to be learned and told, and visions to be painted. The point of you reading right now is to know that you aren’t alone with the obstacles of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, or any case you may have.

The main idea is learning and growing. The theme is faith. So, let me get to the chapter of my life where things started downhill, but this isn’t my story—my life—isn’t over.

My name is Emily Braun. I am a young lady from Wheeling, West Virginia with big dreams and bright eyes just like the next person. These dreams got put on hold and my eyes sagged, wet with tears of trauma when I obtained my fourth concussion in 2016, after receiving two in 2015 and one in 2012. My 2015 concussions sent me through three months of distress and depression. My parents said they didn’t even see their own daughter anymore. I was scared to eat, thinking I’d gain weight and deeply depressed due to the major change in pace and absence of sports.

By the time I was released from the concussions, I had developed a full eating disorder. My body became extremely weak and activities were challenging, but I still saw a “big girl” in the mirror. My realization period was when a softball coach put his hand on my shoulder one day, looked me in the eye and said, “You aren’t well, are you?” I didn’t think my weight loss was that apparent and unhealthy looking.

The next step was therapy and a nutritionist. The summer of 2016 lead to another concussion. I felt as his I was cursed or something, acquiring all of these injuries. It was decided softball was too risky anymore and I had played my last games as the doctors ordered me to cut out at least one sport. After a few days off I thought my head was good to go for volleyball season. I was still weak from lack of weight and nutrition, neck trauma was diagnosed, and headaches had made there way into my life again, but this time they didn’t go away. Volleyball season that year was scary and challenging to keep up. It would have to exit my life too. I knew my career as an athlete was coming to an end and stress to eat was at a high, along with pain.

I slipped into a depressive state and that’s when the first medicine came along. Prozac, to Lexapro, to Cymbalta, and by now it was the summer of 2017 and I was worse than ever. I went through vicious spells of screaming and crying while rolling on the floor and pounding walls. I hated my body and my life style, and I was having daily headaches. I lost belief in God and hope for recovery and I was ready to end my life.

A last- straw fit nudged my therapist to call a family meeting and I’d be taken to the Western Psychiatric Unit of Pittsburgh. Walking through a metal detector and knowing the world would think I’m crazy was a wakeup call. “I am Emily Braun,” I thought. “I was a straight “A” student with the biggest smiles, kindest heart, and an idol to many. I didn’t belong here. This isn’t me.”

Luckily, the hospital didn’t keep me, but I was scared out of my mind and wanted to do something to initiate recovery. The next week, I walked into The Experience Church and found God again. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for the realization the weekend before and walking into that church that day, I wouldn’t be here to type this.

Today I’ve been struggling with a daily headache for the past two years, have diagnosed PTSD from sports, anxiety, and depression, but I am in control. Some days I feel like giving up, but I’m much farther along and hopeful than I was in the summer of 2017.

There are plenty more chapters of my life to come and I’d love to hear some of yours, but remember, it takes the worst to create the best. So, I hope you get the point of reading, listening, and sharing—you are not alone. Your story isn’t over!

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