LAWRENCE CHOY, MD
Stanford Trained Board Certified Psychiatrist
"I always wanted to share my journey but did not know how to start and here I am writing about my life few paragraphs. I am a woman who instills power, freedom, strength and determination. I will fall get hurt but have the courage and determination to rise and fight back. I may not be there yet but I am closer then where I was yesterday.
I have struggled my whole life trying to combat mental illness, having had different diagnosis by many professional on what my real issue has been over many year. In 2000 after few years of marriage while visiting my parent I felt being engulfed by this overwhelming stimulus over my mind and body, I felt trapped in my own body. It came as a surprise that my speech pattern started altering after a stressful event, I felt dry in my throat and feeling that I have lost my voice. I was unable to make any sense to people around me and felt paralyzed, confused and fearful. Thus the pattern of anxiety, depression started which further was confirmed that I was under extreme stress and severely depressed.
I was kept in hospital for two weeks and sent home with pills, but still not enough information about what my core underline issues were and why I am sinking day by day.
I searched for therapist but never really trusted them or would quit going to them after a few sessions. I felt I was not being understood and words were not enough to describe my feelings and struggle. I woke up one morning and found myself curled up at the bottom of a deep dark hole where I could barely breathe, wondering what happened. Wondering how I got here. And not really caring if I ever saw light again. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but so many things had happened over the years that pushed me here. Little by little, until I hit the bottom.
I came to this country as a student leaving a non supportive family, during the course I met my ex and got married at a very early age. I was not happy with my marriage and like most Indian family tried to adjust myself with dominating partners and in laws. Having no family in this country i totally relied on my husband for support and slowly became very dependent that the very thought of him not being there around me would be terrifying With struggle I completed my masters and got myself a decent job trying to be mentally and physically drain to get over the feeling of emptiness. My marriage had become complicated and my emotional problem became an excruciating factor in my life and others around me. I met several professionals to help me head in the right direction but nothing seemed to work. I knew I had some personal things I had to be conscious of, but I didn’t realize the extent of my problems.
Much later in the year 2009 that happened to be a turning point in my life I fell very ill and was admitted in ICU to get treated for Steven Johnson. Steven Johnson is a rare reaction to some drugs which effects the skin like a burnt victim. My chances of survival was remote however with the good work of some able doctor I recovered though it took almost a year to heal to a certain degree. During the time I quit my job and started focusing on recovery and caring for my 5 year old daughter. My emotional problem become so severe that there were moments when I wanted to end my life. I was put on several drugs struggling to manage a life and my day to day activities. In pursuit of finding the right treatment the following year I met Dr Lawrence Choy and he become my psychiatrist and my therapist as well. I was a non believer of therapy and had never really benefited in the past from any therapy. My physical health was also in jeopardy and my visit to ER were so frequent almost close to one visit per month. Every session where I discussed my problems I felt myself extremely resistant to letting down my guard and getting exposed. Up to this point I had not allowed myself to trust the therapist I met and I couldn’t establish the safety that is crucial to healing and moving forward. Dr Choy taught me a lot about trust; about my own self-awareness and emotions.
The beginning months with Dr Choy was spent to just get a little stability to my daily life. He helped me feel validated in my experience and instead of protecting my story and ultimately self-sabotaging (which is something I didn’t even realize I was doing!), I was actually able to set my pain free and started to develop my own life without the plaguing pain from the past.
He revisited my medication and put me on drugs that I really needed and taper off and eventually eliminate some medication that was absolutely not required. Until then I strongly believed i needed all the medications and without them I will not function. I also stressed on what is it that I really have and medical terminology for my problems. At that time Dr Choy made a statement “it does not matter what the terminology or definition for my issues are, the emphasis is recognizing and treating it. I finally found the strength to get help. It was a long tough climb for me out of that dark hole. I kept slipping back down time and again. Dr Choy recommended mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to be practiced on a regular basis which significantly decreased my stress, negative feeling, rumination, and anxiety, and increased the positive affect and self-compassion. After months and years of raw excruciating work in therapy, I was feeling better, but still vulnerable at times.
One of the moist interesting and fascinating subject that I came across during my sessions with Dr Choy was understand what’s going on in our brain and the factors that build up our experiences and functioning. He helped me understand how our brain got wired from your individual past experiences, and the neurochemical patterns for every person are different. How as a child our brain is very changeable or neuroplastic and neurons build new connections easily but as an adult, it’s not as easy to build new circuits to turn on in new ways and requires a lot of repetition and focus. But it can be done. He put emphasis on picking new habit and start implementing it with repetition and consistency and over time new happy habits will be formed.
The gray veil of confusion that had clouded my vision for so many years was lifting. One of the main causes of my illness has been fear: fear of not being loved, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of discovering that every negative prediction about my worthiness as a human being was indeed true. I am slowly developing the basic ability to embrace each day, each moment without being judged or reassurance from another human. I am able to make a mental shift to accept and love myself and my ordinary life. That is the essence of my ongoing recovery.
This is for my most amazing doctor - At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."