Sunday, November 6, 2016

THE ATTEMPT



This is potentially the hardest blog post that I will ever write. I contemplated even sharing this experience with anyone outside of my immediate family and yet here I am again telling the Internet. It's weird how life works out that way for me time and time again. I prefer to write when I'm in an okay state of mind but I'm absolutely not in that place right now and haven't been for awhile. Despite that, I've put off writing this for too long and I feel so strongly that I need to tell you this. So here it is - I'm really struggling right now. After my last post I really wish I could come back here and talk about all the progress I've made and how I've embraced this new information that has been thrown at me, but I'd be lying. In fact, I'm so far from embracing it that I have used any and every excuse to not learn about bipolar disorder. Every single time I sit down to learn more about it I end up overwhelmed and in tears.

My first mistake - I started keeping all these emotions inside and not letting anyone know I was struggling so badly. I know that bipolar disorder is the answer I've been searching for. I can very clearly look back at points in my life and see them as depressive/manic episodes. As I look back I realize that this started when I was in high school, maybe even earlier, and now here I am 26 years old and barely figuring my life out. It's hard not to feel like my life up to this point wasn't mine. Like these past 26 years were a dream and here I am now, facing a reality I never thought I would have to face. I've been living with this disorder for years but I'm just now realizing how ill I've been all along. I can't help but to feel at times like this disorder has taken everything from me. Before this I was working/going to school and was finally becoming a proper adult ready to take on life. In an instant that all changed for me. I’m unable to work and go to school because most days it’s a miracle if I make it out of bed and that frustrates me. I’m so dependent on others that it’s hard to deal with at times. It makes me feel guilty and like I have nothing to add to this world. Which leads into this very personal very scary experience that I feel like I need to share with you.

A few weeks ago I tried to commit suicide.

I've had suicidal ideations for months now but this time was different. I subtly said goodbye to people. I wrote goodbye letters to my family. I had the plan and this time - I attempted it. I'm not going to go into details but it's pretty obvious that it didn't work. I'm still here and I'm very grateful for that. I did something that I've spent years saying I would never or could never do. Yet I fully became this other person who could do those things. Who could say goodbye to their family and friends. I don't even know who that person is, but I know it's not me. It is from this experience that I have learned that I cannot do this alone. I cannot keep everything inside and to myself anymore. I need people. I need to talk. I need to share. I need support. I'm not good at needing things and asking for them, but I've reached a point where my pride cannot be in the way anymore. I'm asking for help. I need it now more than I ever have before.

As for where I'm at right now - I honestly don't know who I am anymore. I feel that this person I thought I was in the past wasn't really me; it was an illness. I was in there somewhere, but it's hard not to wonder how life would have played out had I been diagnosed sooner. I've been me for 26 years and yet I feel like I've never really known my true self. I don't know my "normal" anymore. Any emotion I have I find myself asking if it's a manic or depressive episode. I feel completely lost within myself because I don't have any sense of what normal/stable for me looks like. The more I force myself to learn the more afraid I get. I'm still overwhelmed with all this new information and honestly I'm unsure as to where I go from here. With the diagnosis I was able to get into my state's mental health program, which is absolutely a step in the right direction. I start meeting with my team on Tuesday and I'm hopeful but trying not to get too invested in case it doesn't work out. All I know now is that I need help to deal with this. Professional help. I know that I'm surrounded by so much love and support but at the end of the day - I have to do this myself.

This is absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm nowhere near being finished, but at least I'm trying right? That has to count for something.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

THE ANSWER

Sometimes we have really defining moments in our lives. Moments where we remember exactly where we were and what surrounded us when they happened. Moments that we truly will never forget. September 24, 2016 was one of those days for me. It is on that day that I walked into a psychologist’s office one person and came out feeling like I never knew myself at all.

If you’ve been following me for a while you will know that 7 years ago I realized that I needed to seek out help for what I thought was depression. After some minimal testing I was diagnosed with major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety. At the time I felt that the diagnosis fit perfectly. It really did encompass everything that I was feeling. For 7 years I held onto that diagnosis and re-arranged and figured out my life based around it. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at handling things and living a normal and happy life. Sure there were times where I was really depressed but everyone gets sad right? I could deal with it. Here’s the thing; I think I’ve always known in the back of my head that this was more than just depression and anxiety. I just refused to acknowledge it. I had been tested for other things, like mood disorders, and while I did have some of the characteristics that fit some mood disorders I didn’t fully fit the criteria and so they were ruled out. After hearing that, I held onto it for dear life. Well, here I am 7 years later dealing with something that is very clearly not my original diagnosis. The majority of this year I have been very depressed, moments where I have felt so completely out of control; so much so that I voluntarily admitted myself to an emergency room under suicide watch one night.

My whole life all I have wanted is to be happy. At times in my life I have felt like I would never know true happiness. There was too much wrong with my life. Too many negative things that I had no control over. There were so many things I needed to start/stop doing before I could achieve true happiness. It was daunting, not to mention really hard. I didn't even know where to start. At the beginning of this year I met someone who truly pushed me to become a better version of myself. I finally started to be the person I always wanted to be but had previously felt like I never could. I kept thinking, wow I've really got it all together, shouldn't I be happy now? I was finally where I wanted to be - and you know what? I was happy for a couple months; truly happy. It was then that it all came crashing down.

I’m not going to go into detail about what I've been dealing with recently because I already wrote about it here but long story short, these past few months have been really rough for me. I have felt so out of control and all I've wanted was to get another diagnosis and find out what I'm dealing with now because it very clearly is not what it used to be. After months of fighting insurance and getting nowhere; an amazing human who I am so grateful to have in my life provided me with a way to bypass insurance and pay out of pocket to get the diagnosis right away. We were all tired of waiting, we needed answers now. After intense testing I found myself two weeks later on September 24, 2016 at my meeting with the psychologist to get the one thing I've wanted all year - a diagnosis.

I was the most nervous I have ever been for anything in my entire life. I think I knew in the back of my head that what I was going to hear was going to be the one thing I've run from my whole life. Despite my personal mental health journey only really starting in 2009 I've had experiences with mental illness my whole life, pretty bad experiences too. With people I swore I would never have anything in common with. People I never wanted to be anything like. I've always been such an advocate to end the stigma of mental illness yet this whole time I've had a personal stigma attached to this one word and I didn't even realized it. When my psychologist finally said the word to me I was terrified. My worst nightmare had become my reality. What do I do now?

It's taken me awhile to wrap my head around it. In fact, I cried for 3 days straight after finding out. Actually, I still cry almost daily. I feel alone, scared, and unsure of what to do next. I feel like I am a stranger to myself; I feel betrayed by my mind. How could I have this disorder and not realize it? But the truth is - I've known all along. I just always pushed it away and focused on something else. Trying so desperately to not recognize the signs I knew were there. This diagnosis is serious. This diagnosis is life changing. I honestly still don't know what to do with the information I have been handed. I couldn't accept it right away and while now I have come to terms with it, I haven't yet been able to truly embrace it. If I embrace it, it becomes absolutely real. The few people I really have talked to about it are so supportive and yet I feel almost no comfort in their words. I feel lost. I feel alone. I feel afraid.

Despite all of that; and after a very much needed getaway with my family, I have decided that I no longer wish to hide this. By keeping this secret I am keeping myself from fully embracing what it means for me and my future. I know without a doubt that this is the right diagnosis. I can see the signs not only now, but linking back into my high school years. So much of my life up to this point makes so much sense now. And while I'm grateful and feel comfort in knowing what has been going on with me all these years, I also feel terrified. I feel a loss for that perfect dream of who I was hoping to become. I know that now, I can still become that person, it's just going to have to be in a different way, it's uncomfortable, it's scary. I can no longer live like I used to. In order to be healthy and reach my true happiness I have to change basically everything about my life. It's quite a daunting task and I feel overwhelmed by it daily. I know that I'm no different today than I was in 2005; I just have more information now. I need to use it to my advantage. I've been living with this disorder for years without knowing it but it has now spiraled out of control and I need to take care of it. I think I needed everything I've been through so far to happen so that now in this moment I will take this diagnosis seriously and really put everything I have into living my best life with this disorder. I know it's going to be hard and there will be many ups and downs but with help I can figure out what I need to do to achieve the one thing I've always strived for - happiness.


Hi, I’m Mandi and I have bipolar disorder.

Monday, October 10, 2016

World Mental Health Day

📸: Kellie Harley

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay which is something that over the years I have become very passionate about. I received my first diagnosis 7 years ago but if I would have had the knowledge I do now and if there wasn't such a stigma surrounding mental illness I would have been diagnosed many years earlier. 7 years ago I had no idea what mental health was and how to take care of it. Over the course of these last 7 years I have learned a lot about myself, my mental health, and ways to take care of it that work for me. Along this journey of learning about myself, I have become very passionate about mental health and educating those who, like me, grew up not knowing anything about it.

With everything that I've been through this year I am more passionate than ever about speaking out and educating others on not only my personal experiences but about mental health in general. Mental health is not just for the mentally ill. Much like our physical bodies, everyone needs to take care of their mental health as well. Mental and Physical health come together to create who we are as a whole human. Not all of us have a mental illness but all of us do need to pay attention and take care of our mental state. It is truly just as important as the things you do to take care of yourself physically.

As someone who has mental illnesses, some of which I've shared and some of which I haven't yet, I have learned the hard way how much of an impact mental health can have on you. I have learned how important it is to be aware of. I have learned how important it is to be educated about it. When someone you love is suffering with something that you may not know anything about it is still so important that you be there for them. Reach out, research, try to understand what they might be going through. A good support system is so so SO important.

For me personally I have an amazing support system. I honestly would not be alive today were it not for my core group of people. When you go through something as hard as this you realize just who you can depend on and who is just saying what they think you want to hear. If you feel inadequate to help someone, you aren't. Don't back off and distance yourself, just support and be there for them. When all this started for me my core group knew nothing about the mental illnesses I was dealing with. Some still don't really understand it but they are totally and completely there for me. You never know what reaching out to someone in distress might do. Be there for the people you love. Be present for the people you care about. It makes a world of difference. Trust me, I know.

In summary I guess what I want to say is; to those with mental illnesses - You are not alone. It may feel like you have no one and no one truly understands you but I PROMISE that is not the case. Let others help you. Let others lift you up. It's okay not to be okay. For those of you who don't have a mental illness - You still need to take care of your mental health. It is so very important, don't forget that. For those of you who have someone you are trying to support - You don't need to know everything about the situation to help. Just be a friend, be someone that they can turn to when they are needing someone. Just talk and listen and offer support. You never know when you're saving a life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"SOMETIMES TO STAY ALIVE YOU GOTTA KILL YOUR MIND"

You know that something is wrong when you listen to 21 Pilots and start relating to their words a lot more than you used to. But that's not the point, we already knew that something was wrong with me. That something in my head seems to be just...not right. It's frustrating to have that knowledge and yet everywhere you turn to for help there is one reason or another that they turn you down. If I've learned one thing these past couple of months its that getting mental health services is hard. My options are so limited, especially as a student who is on AHCCCS without any money to shell out for services. If I'm physically sick getting in to see a doctor is easy; it doesn't even take that long, a day or two at most. But because you cannot see this illness, because this illness is invisible, it is somehow less important. I've had my fair share of physical illnesses in my life and very few come anywhere close to this illness that's in my head. Dealing with this disease in my brain is at times torture. It's much easier to have a major surgery than to deal with living with these thoughts inside my head.

One night when I was having a really bad suicidal episode I sat alone in my room trying to figure out how to get myself out of it. I ended up grabbing my computer and writing out everything I was feeling. In the moment it helped but the next day when I read what I had written I was terrified. How did I write this? How did I feel so low and how was I so close to giving up? Often when I'm going through an episode like that I don't feel like myself. I feel so out of control and that is definitely reflected in the passage that I wrote. I wasn't sure I was going to share this but for whatever reason I feel like I need to. What's going on in my head and the things that I'm feeling are really scary when laid out in front of you. It's a shame that because this illness is not physical I have still yet to find any medical professional to help. To me, that just isn't okay. Mental health and physical health should be treated the same. They work together to create the whole person. They need to be treated as equals. Maybe someday they will be.

DISCLAIMER: If you choose to read this just please remember that this was weeks ago and as of writing this I am doing okay. I still feel this way occasionally but most of the time I am in a much better headspace than this. This is an extreme.


For the past couple of days I have felt like I've been walking on a ledge. I appear to be holding it together but in reality I'm a mess. I am just waiting to tumble. To spiral. To be where I am right now. I saw and felt the warning signs but chose to push through and keep my mask on. I don't like to let people down. I don't want to fall apart again. I've got it this time. Except I don't. I see the start of a spiral and I immediately shut it down. Leave the house, get out and keep my prior commitments, and then come home. Coming home is fine, home is safe. It is then I lock myself in my room and let it happen. Let the darkness overtake me. Suddenly I'm drowning. I reach out to people. This is what I've been told to do. I get frustrated because no one has the answer. Everyone talks logistically. Bless their hearts but they don't have what I'm looking for. I don't even know what I'm looking for. I try anyway. I already know what everyone will say. I've heard it time and time again. What no one realizes is that I'm tired. I feel helpless, useless, and utterly alone. I'm surrounded by the best people but no one understands what really is going on in my head. No one understands that at times like these I feel like I have zero control. I'm scared. Terrified. How does this happen? WHY does this happen? I wouldn't wish this feeling on my worst enemy. How do I stop this? Isn't there a way I can just make this all go away? Sleep. Death. It all seems so appealing. But no, back to logistics. I can't do that. So many people would hurt. I help people. I don't let people down. I don't hurt people. No death. So now what? I'm tired. How can I make this all stop. I'm tired. I don't think I can fight this much longer. I'm tired. Everyone keeps telling me how strong I am but I don't see it. I'm tired. Haven't I reached my breaking point yet? I'm tired. How much is too much? I'm tired. I can't do this anymore. I'm tired. You'd think I'd have run out of tears by now. I'm tired. I give up.

I am tired.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

📸: Kellie Harley

When 2016 started I never would have imagined that halfway through the year I would be where I am right now. I started off this year with a medication revamp which ended up turning out really well for me. It was a rough few months but finally around April I started feeling amazing. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I felt that good; that happy. I finally thought that I had found my solution and that I was going to be able to finally live the life I'd always dreamed of. So I started to do just that. I was finally able to not only live in the "real world" but be comfortable there. I took advantage of this and started doing things I hadn't done in years. This was great, but along the way I stopped doing certain things to take care of myself. This is where the problems started for me. I slowly but surely started taking the medications that manage my hormones (my hormones are imbalanced because of my PCOS) less and less until ultimately I wasn't taking them at all. I knew that I could never miss a dosage of my anti-depressants because that's dangerous, but a missed dosage of the other meds/vitamins would be okay, right? While that's probably the case I didn't realize that eventually this would turn into me not taking any of my other medications and vitamins at all. Once I realized what I was doing I knew I needed to fix it. I figured I could just jump right back into taking everything as normal and all would be well. So that's what I did.

July 4, 2016 started off just like any other day. I was happy, all was well, things were good. I spent some time with my family at my Aunt's house where we ate and celebrated the holiday; everything was great. I then left to hang out with a friend for a bit; everything was great. I ultimately ended up at home ready to get into bed. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, I was just hanging out doing my own thing and all of a sudden I started crying. Then came the sense of hopelessness that just surrounded me so out of the blue. I couldn't pin point anything I was upset about; nothing was wrong, nothing had happened, I couldn't even remember thinking about something that would make me so upset. This continued for an hour or so while I started to get ready for bed. Everyone in my house was asleep so no one knew that I was upset or had any idea that something was wrong. Finally it was time to take my nightly medications and as I sat there and looked at them I suddenly realized how tired I was. Then a thought came to mind, "I could take this whole bottle of Xanax mixed with this whole bottle of anti-depressants and just go to sleep and never wake up." At the time, that sounded pretty great to me. It sounded like the perfect plan. I had everything in place, all I needed to do was start swallowing the pills. Then something happened to me in that moment that I cannot fully explain. It was in that moment that I stopped and was able to look at myself and really see what I was doing. I immediately started sobbing and went to get my mom out of bed. Through tears I told her how I was feeling and that she needed to take all my medications from me and hide them. My mom took the medications away while I took my usual dosage for the night and got into bed. My mom then sat there with me until I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a bus. We're talking body aches, headaches, grogginess, the whole thing. I was still incredibly sad and would have bouts of sobbing for absolutely no reason. My mom called my doctor and they couldn't see me for a couple of days but told me if I felt suicidal that I needed to go to the emergency room. So a few hours later I checked myself into the ER. After being medically cleared I had to wait for a crisis psych evaluation. Those hours that I spent laying in a hospital bed were miserable. I had to constantly have a hospital staff person with me and nothing was allowed in my room. It was during this time period that I realized just how serious all this had become. I felt so out of control, so powerless to do anything. I was scared because I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I didn't know how to deal with these new feelings I was having. Nothing made sense to me and I just wanted everything to stop. How did I end up here? A few hours later after an evaluation I was released into my mom's care with a list of mental health clinics, an appointment with someone who would help me set up various doctors visits, and a promise to follow up with my primary care physician. Finally, a couple days later I was able to meet with my doctor and she felt very strongly that this was happening to me because I went off of the medications that kept my hormones under control. So we took all those medications and cut the dosages in half in order to slowly reintroduce them into my system. Finally a game plan was in place! The problem was potentially solved! All I had to do was follow my doctors instructions and everything was going to be fine.

That was about three weeks ago. Things have not been as easy as I hoped. In three weeks I have had 2 suicidal episodes which have been pretty scary. My mental state is completely unpredictable and very unstable. Messing with my other medications has had huge effects on my mental state and so we are having to slow down that process and do a whole lot of waiting while we try to figure out exactly what is going on with me. In the meantime I have met with a counseling center to get that process going. I will be having another evaluation done where I will get another official diagnosis, just to make sure I am still dealing with what I was diagnosed with 7 years ago. I will also be set up with counseling and various other things to help me learn how to better deal with this. I thought I knew myself well, I thought I finally had things figured out but it turns out I really don't. I still have a lot to learn about myself and about what I really am dealing with. I need help navigating how to live life to the fullest while still dealing with mental illness. I clearly don't have everything under control, but I'm willing to learn and I'm asking for help. I don't want to have these feelings anymore, I don't want to be so out of control. I don't want to feel helpless.

I hate asking for help. I hate needing people. I hate having to be so dependent on my friends and family. Even though I hate all of this I have realized that I need help and I'm not ashamed of that. Mental Illness shouldn't have such a stigma. It shouldn't be something that's hidden or just brushed under the rug. It shouldn't be something that we are afraid to talk about. I know, for me at least, it's therapeutic to talk about; to write about. I feel empowered by having no secrets and sharing what I'm going through. I know I've been very vague about what has been going on with me lately but I'm finally ready to talk about it. I need to talk about it. I need it to not be a secret. I'm dealing with some pretty heavy, pretty scary stuff right now and I need it to be known. I need help, I need support, I need to be able to talk to people who I trust who know what is going on with me. I'm not ashamed of what I'm going through but I know many other people are and they choose to suffer in silence. If you're reading this and that is you, STOP. Don't do it anymore, it's not worth it. I did that for awhile, but if I've learned one thing these past few weeks it's that so many people care. So many people are willing to help out; even if they don't know you. You never know what kind of impact you can have on a person. Live consciously.

I am certain that life is worth living. Now I just have to figure out the best way to do it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

THE UPDATE

📸: Kellie Taylor

"We've all got scars as big as ours
A token for the pain we hide inside of us
Everyone's scared that somebody knows
You keep it inside, yeah, that's how it goes
If you've ever heard a beating heart
A rhythm for the songs we're too afraid to sing
Nobody here is perfectly fine
A delicate frame, a fragile design

If there's a hole in your heart
You gotta pull it together
It takes the courage to start
But now is better than never
It takes a push and a shove
Somehow it's never enough
And it's alarming how quick you could forget that

Nothing's bigger than love
All you need, all you need is love"


These past two months have been some of the hardest months of my life, but also some of the most rewarding. I have learned things about myself that I could have never even imagined before. The first thing I realized was, I am strong. I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for. I literally went through hell and back to get to where I am right now. I have realized that my mental health isn't something that can be fixed but rather something that I will have to take care of constantly for the rest of my life. My mental health is part of who I am and managing it is a day to day thing; there are no quick fixes.

I'm still learning. I may think that I have a grasp on what I'm feeling and how I'm acting but I am constantly still learning things about myself and why I do the things I do. This is something that has been important to for me to not just know but to understand and be open to. I've had to learn that sometimes I can't do every single thing that I want to do RIGHT NOW. I need to slow down; not everything has to happen all at once. I have had to learn to pace myself and set realistic goals. If I don't do this I find that I constantly feel like I'm not good enough or that I can never get anything done. I never want to feel this way and it is up to me to make sure that I don't.

When I started this whole thing I decided that I was going to blog a little everyday just to update on how I was feeling. That lasted for...a whole week. While yes that first week was really rough it just got harder as time went on and I found more and more days going by that I just didn't write anything because it didn't seem important. In the end I bailed on blogging because my feelings scared me and it all just seemed so uninteresting. In hindsight though, I do wish I was able to see that it was my mind telling me this and it wasn't at all true. That's what your mind can do to you. It can literally make you feel and think things that aren't real. I'm lucky that I have people in my life who are willing to help me through those times and see what is true and what isn't.

So where am I now? I'm actually in a pretty good place. What was supposed to take one month took two but in the end we got the result that we wanted. I am so much happier than I have been in months and I am ready to take on the world. I'm still learning, I'm still trying to pace myself. I cannot do everything all at once and that's frustrating for me. I am not the person I was 10 years ago and I have be okay with that. This is me, this is my new normal. I'm still figuring things out but at least I'm happy while I do it.

Things get better, they really really do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

WEEK 1

Day One: 1/6/16 I took the new medication before I went to sleep last night and it made me very drowsy. Despite that though, I slept horribly. I finally got out of bed around noon and spent the whole day exhausted. I've been jittery all day and yet tired at the same time. How does that work you ask? I don't know but somehow it's a thing. Even though it was a pretty rough day I decided to go ahead and go to my brother's basketball game. I was okay through most of the game but by the final minutes I was done. I just needed to go home and crawl into my bed. Unfortunately the night wasn't over yet and we continued to go out to dinner. At dinner I was mostly nauseous and jittery all around, I just couldn't wait to get home. Fast forward to now, I'm at home, in my pajamas, and snuggled up in bed. I feel so calm and at peace after a long evening away. I was filled with so much anxiety that I couldn't even enjoy myself. In hindsight spending so much time around people and being out and about was probably not the smartest thing to have done on day one of new medication but I'm glad I did it. I'm proud of myself for getting out there. Now we take on day two.

Day Two: 1/7/16 Still not sleeping well during the night. Finally fell into a deep sleep around 10:30am and woke up around 2pm. It rained all day so I'm sure that wasn't helping anything. I spent all day basically in bed but felt rather productive about the things that I got accomplished. I was able to focus on some things unlike yesterday but it still took me a long time to get anything done. This is frustrating to me but I'm trying to just go with it. I have to remember that I need to take it all one step at a time. I still feel jittery but mostly today I just wanted to sleep forever. So, that's that.

Day Three: 1/8/16 What is sleep? Is that even a thing anymore? I know I'm only on day three but man alive I feel like I haven't slept in a week. I have been for awhile now and continue to take Trazadone to help with my Insomnia but it's not working as it used to. I get really tired and fall asleep for about an hour and then BAM! I'm wide awake again and it's toss and turn toss and turn until I give up and reach for my phone to see what's going on with social media. Spoiler alert: nothing is going on. Later today I decided that maybe I wanted to take a drive to Starbucks and get a drink. I got in the car and stopped to get the mail and already I felt this sense of dread coming over me. I decided to push through it and continue my trip. By the time I was driving home I was in full panic attack and honestly I don't know how I made it home. So, we're not going to do that again for awhile. As soon as I got home I took a Xanax for the first time and while it worked to calm me down I don't really like how it made me feel. So uh, we'll only be taking that when absolutely necessary, which hopefully isn't much.

Day Four: 1/9/16 I feel like static is coursing throughout all of my body. It makes me itchy and makes my head hurt more than usual. Sleep is still not a word that exists in my world and I can't help but feel that maybe if I could sleep good for just one night I might just feel better overall. I am now contemplating ways to make sleep happen for me. I just need it to happen soon. I went over to my dad's house tonight for his birthday and while I didn't feel great I was still okay. Afterwards my mom wanted to go to the store and then to another store and then on the way home I just started crying. There was no reason, I wasn't sad or anything, I just think maybe I was overwhelmed and exhausted. After coming home and taking a bath I'm feeling so much better. I'm just ready for bed and try again tomorrow. That's all I can do.

Day Five: 1/10/16 I think I might have figured out how to fix the sleeping problem but more on that tomorrow when I truly test my theory. So today I took a sleeping pill at 6am and woke up around 2pm feeling somewhat rested. Already today was off to a better start than previous days. I think it might be the new medication that's keeping me up but I'm not sure yet. What little sleep I did manage to get did make me feel so much better though. I could tell a difference and my family could tell a difference as well. I'm not fixed yet but I'm at least not walking around like a zombie unable to focus on anything so...progress, I'll take it!

Day Six: 1/11/16 So here's the day I test my theory. Last night before bed I did not take my new medication and instead took just a sleeping pill. I slept really well last night but had some pretty bad dreams. So it was somewhat restful but at the same time...not. I took my new medication at around 11am today and have been pretty groggy all day but never really went back to sleep. So, not sure if my earlier prediction was right about the medication but I will give it a few days to figure itself out. Another side effect has come up though, dizziness. I cannot stand up or walk without being somewhat dizzy and lightheaded. It makes me just want to stay in bed all day but I made myself go out with a friend tonight. It was fun and I'm glad I did it but by the time I made it home I was ready to crawl into my bed and cry. It sucks not having control over your own body and emotions. I worked so hard to be in control and suddenly I've lost it all.

Day Seven: 1/12/16 Well so much for that sleeping plan, now I think I screwed it up even more. So last night I couldn't sleep at all, I think I finally went to bed around 5am and I woke up at...get this...3:30pm. WHAT. That's too much sleep and at the wrong time. I felt horrible the rest of the day. Just groggy and my headache was still there of course. Despite all that I went to ASU Gammage to see Idina Menzel in If/Then. I bought these tickets months and months ago and I was not going to let anything stop me from going. I was pretty miserable the whole time but I sure am glad that I made myself go. Now it's almost tomorrow and I feel like I've ran a marathon or something. All I did today was sit and watch a musical and yet I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. I hate that I feel like this but I'm still going to try to do the things that make me happy.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

MY MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY


I honestly don't even know where to start this thing so I guess let's just go back to the beginning of my mental health journey. Sometime in 2009 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and Social Anxiety. It took until 2011 before I finally found any type of medication that made a huge difference. Finally, medication along with years of therapy seemed to be working, I was ecstatic and so ready to start living my life. I've since stopped therapy but have continued taking my medication religiously, which is normal and what was suggested to me by my doctors. For four years I've been living my life and doing exactly what my doctors have suggested and I've felt great, Like I was finally living my life to the fullest. Everything was fine until about a year and a half ago, something changed and I'm not sure I can pin point exactly what it was. I felt like maybe the medication wasn't working as well as it used to and so my doctor upped my dosage and suggested that if it didn't work we should maybe try a new medication. Let's just say...I made it work.

Fast forward to May of 2015 I graduated with my bachelors degree in psychology, and it was time to get a job or apply for grad school. So many life decisions, I was overwhelmed. Then suddenly I was experiencing so much pain on my right side and back and the doctors told me I needed to have my gallbladder removed. For about a month I had to take some pretty heavy pain meds just to survive the day in bed. After that month or so it was finally the day of my surgery. Unfortunately for me that meant that I was unable to walk in my graduation ceremony because my surgery was the same day. I opted to do the surgery because I was tired of being in pain and I wouldn't be able to walk anyway with the way I was feeling. Now fast forward a month or so, I'm basically recovered from surgery and am completely off of pain medication. It is then that I start to realize that my medications aren't working like they should be. I proceed to blame it on the surgery and recovery process and decide to push through. I cancel a doctors appointment because I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling mentally and physically. Clue #1 that something is wrong. I tell myself that if I start eating right (and more because I was hardly eating at this point) and exercising all this will go away. Problem solved. So I do just that and pretend that it's working.

Next comes the fall/winter season. The sun comes up later and sets earlier. This is brutal for anyone with depression as sunlight is a form of therapy for us. Every fall/winter season my depression and anxiety tends to flare up. I've always had to deal with it and somehow I make it through. Until this year. This year it was different but I decided to pretend like it wasn't and everything was fine. I pretended that yeah my "bad days" were just because it was winter and I'd be fine soon. Then my "bad days" became more frequent and now here we are. January 2016. A week into the new year and I feel like I'm drowning. I've pretended for too long, I simply cannot do it anymore. I'm scared out of my mind because I'm feeling these feelings that I haven't felt for years. I'm desperate for help but don't want anyone to know because in my head I will then appear weak to them. I worked so hard to be happy and well, I don't want to go back to being that person who is just trying to live day to day. The person just going through the motions of life. The unhappy person who puts on a smile so that no one will ask what is wrong. The person who pretends everything is fine when it really isn't. Somehow I let myself become that person again. I'm embarrassed, ashamed, I just want to be happy. If I pretend to be happy eventually I will be right? Wrong.

Tuesday January 5, 2016 is the day that I finally admitted to myself and to my doctor that I wasn't okay and probably haven't been okay for a good while now. Now that I've said it out loud I feel so much better but I am also a nervous wreck. I didn't realize just how bad I had let it get until I was no longer pretending. With that mask ripped away I realized just how far I let this go when I shouldn't have. I'm back to where I started four years ago and that scares the heck out of me. My doctor and I decided to change my medication completely. Something I haven't done in four years and something that when done previously had never been a good thing. Changing medications is scary, you're messing with the chemicals in your brain after all. We're talking side effects that range from insomnia to not being able to wake up. From a jittery all around feeling to being numb to everything. From suicidal thoughts/actions to manic episodes. I'VE HAD THEM ALL. That's scary to say and something that I've not previously shared outside of a few people but now it's out there. I preach so much about understanding mental health and taking care of yourself yet here I am...a mess. Lying to everyone saying that I've got this figured out when I really don't.

So this is how I deal with it. I'm sharing my story so that someone else might not feel so alone. So that people see that yes while depression/anxiety/ptsd is manageable it's something that's going to be a life long process. I thought I found my fix four years ago and I did for the time being, but I'm a different person now. I've grown up and changed since then. Because of that I now have to find my new normal, my new happy. It's going to take me awhile to get there and it's probably going to be very challenging but I know I can do it. I've done it before and I'll do it again. There will be bad days and there will be good but all I've ever wanted in life is to be happy. I know that this is what I have to do to achieve that. That this is something that's going to help me grow as a person and be able to help others out there who might not have the amazing support system that I do. I know that I have to go through this to learn something. Whether I learn something that ends up helping me or someone else I'm not sure, but there's a reason for everything. There's a reason for this.

This is my now. This is where I begin 2016. This is where I start to live again.