Posts Tagged: mental health

How I Learned to Love Myself: Body Image, Self Love and more.

July 4, 2016 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

I wanted to take the time to share part of my journey so far. Today I’m talking about body image, how it has played a role in my life and the slow process of learning to love myself.

july4For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with body image, disordered eating and some mental illness that have all stuck with me in some way to form some pretty unhappy thoughts about my body. I’ve been diagnosed with type two diabetes and PCOS within months of each other. It’s been a rough road.

Most recently, I was seeing a new OBGYN to try and get some long term treatment for the severe endometriosis I am battling and advice on things I can continue to do dealing with PCOS and the issues I’m facing with it. It has been so bad in the last year and has sent me to the ER several times and left me with no help from a few medical professionals.

When I walked into the appointment, I was hopeful. My mom was with me for support and I left shaking – angry, upset and hurt. It started a downward spiral. The doctor I saw that morning flat out told me that I was fat, and she would do nothing to help me other than throw pills at me. She made it very clear she had no interest in helping me at all.

A few weeks later, I flew into Tennessee to visit my girlfriend and one afternoon while we are shopping I had a complete breakdown because I was so uncomfortable, but the outfits I loved just didn’t FEEL right. I went on and on about how this doctor had treated me, how it triggered a lot of horrible thoughts, had started a pattern of disordered eating.

I’m going to be completely honest – that entire situation with the doctor and what unfolded in the weeks following was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. I was so unsure about my body, myself. I felt like a small, scared child unsure of what to do and the doctors words and treatment of me left me scarred and struggling.

For a while, I blocked it out. I was numb. I was upset. I was shocked. I was already uncomfortable in my own body. What that appointment left me with was a lot of hurt that surfaced again. I really struggled but I didn’t open up to people about the situation. I felt judged and looked down on enough with that single appointment.july2

When it all came floating to the surface, I had no choice but to face what happened. I had gone from someone who was constantly on the go, biking at least 20 miles a week for years to someone who had been in the ER several times in a year because of how severe the endometriosis had gotten.

Over the last year, I’ve become more comfortable in speaking out about my health. I’ve realized that by speaking out, I can help others. I can tell people how my life has changed. It’s also made me realize something huge. Something that within just a few days, has changed a lot of things for me.

My body is strong. It’s carried me this far already. It’s carried me through diagnosis after diagnosis. It’s carried me through some hard times growing up. It’s carried me even on the bad days where I can’t get out of bed.

I’ve started eating better. I’m doing some biking and walking. I’m not stepping onto that scale because it will only bring me back to where I was after the appointment. I’ve noticed small changes, small ones, but they are there.

I’m able to wear some of the pants I wasn’t able to wear a couple months ago, my shirts are feeling more comfortable. On the good days, I have more energy. I’m happier. I’m not looking at my body and thinking how much I hate this part or that part. I’m feeling more comfortable, and that is an amazing change for me.

I’m strong. I’m stronger than I realize and I have to thank my body for that. I have to take care of it. It’s carried me through a lot over the past year and I am thankful for that. It can carry me on the worst days.

While I’ve struggled with a positive body image, knowing that my body has carried me this far is enough to really think about doing the best I can to take care of my body and learn to love my body.july3

 

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The (Brutally) Honest Truth About Depression

July 3, 2016 Katie A Chronic Illness, personal: mental health 0 Comments

she’s a bitch.

she will creep up on you out of nowhere and silently. she will hide behind the amazing moments you live for, waiting to strike.

she will follow you around, making you second guess every move you make. she’s waiting and watching and ready to strike when you least expect it.

she will leave you broken. she will leave you crushed. she will attack and tell you things you may begin to believe. she’s left me broken. shattered. she’s left me unable to eat. unable to sleep. unable to get out of bed. she’s left me in the dark, wondering why i am still here.

even with medication and therapy, she’s still there. waiting. watching.

sometimes you just have to wait for it to pass, holding onto your friends and family. sometimes you brave the storm alone, one breath, one step at a time. each storm that passes, you come out a little higher than you did before, piecing the pieces back together.

it takes time. she will rear her ugly head again and again. you’ll feel the storm pushing you back, drowning you but you fight, you push against the wind, you get through the tears, the nightmares. you want to give up, to give in, but you don’t.

some days are harder than others, but you’ve made it this far already.

let her rear her ugly head. let the depression be the bitch she is, but don’t give up.

don’t give up. ♥

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Anxiety, Intrusive Thoughts and Insomnia

December 13, 2015 Katie A personal: anxiety 2 Comments

78f0179c0df2db4e539aaaa01f84d8ecI cannot begin to explain how exhausting, draining and rough these last few weeks have been. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of good has happened, too. . . but the rocky days are winning this around.

I tell myself to keep fighting, to stay strong. I tell myself to take it one day at a time, one step at a time and one minute at a time.

It’s been hard. I’m not going to lie about it and I’m not going to sugarcoat it, either.

It’s that time of the year when everything creeps up on me. Finals. The holidays. Every single thing I have to do. Stress about grades, stress about the upcoming semester.

It’s that gut wrenching, guilty feeling of being pulled in too many directions for the holidays. Where do I go, how do we make this all work – who will I end up hurting if I don’t go here but decide to go there? It’s like being a child again, fresh out of my parents divorce.

Overwhelmed. Hurt. Anxious. I hate it.

Then there’s the panic, and the attacks that have been coming along with it.

It’s the early morning panic about not getting enough sleep. It’s the panic about knowing I need to get up and to campus, but being unable to do so. It’s the panic about what everyone is thinking when I’m not there in class.

It’s the panic over what work will hold for me that day. It’s the panic at the end of my shift when I still have this much to do, and feeling like I won’t get it done. It’s the panic as I try and sit down and work on homework, knowing that despite having taken this class three times now – I’ll never learn the material, I’ll never pass.

It’s the relief that I can finally crawl into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, drained and ready to sleep. Until the panic starts in. My brain is like a hurricane, constantly going and impossible to turn off. It’s the thoughts about today, what tomorrow holds, how much I have left to do just this week.

It’s the panic over the holidays, over money, over my health.

It’s like that first panic attack I had. I was in high school, goofing off on a nearby playground with friends when I slipped just a tiny bit. That gut wrenching, terrifying feeling that everything around me was collapsing. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating. My heart was pounding and aching.

It happened two more times within one week.

I had convinced myself my heart was giving out, that there was nothing anyone could do. I went to the doctors and they told me, no, it’s just a panic attack. What’s going on? What triggers them?

Hell if I knew. I’d never had one before, even though I’d felt that panic before. Again and again and again. It was a familiar friend at that point, but it was quickly becoming my enemy and something I was terrified of. That alone would cause more attacks.

It’s the terrifying intrusive thoughts that come on when I am feeling at my worst. It’s the thoughts of what would happen if I did this? What would happen if I walked out and didn’t come back? It’s the thoughts of self harm, something I haven’t done in years, taunting, calling me back. It’s that terrifying urge to go back to those habits and fighting hard not to.

Those thoughts haven’t won the war, but they’re there. They are in the back of my head on the worst days – popping up when I’m at my worst. I fight them as hard as I can. I turn to those I trust the most, confiding in them about these thoughts. Somehow, we’ve managed.

The thoughts are there on the worst of days, but I’m constantly fighting through them. I have to fight them.

These days, it’s the constant anxiety. It’s the late night panic attacks where I can’t catch my breath and I search for a reason why this attack came on. It’s the nightmares some nights, memories or flashbacks on another. . . sometimes I’m not even sure what triggered them. 5f1ff5ca1c081e5f465e27075323a268

It’s not easy.

I feel drained. Exhausted. Even on my good days, the days where I am laughing, calm. . . the anxiety is there. It’s the old friend who wants to stay in your life despite how much has changed. It’s that dreaded feeling when you know you are doing better, but something is still dragging you down.

It’s a daily battle. Anxiety is a bitch. You think you have it under control and something, even the smallest thing will trigger it and it will all come flooding back, drowning you under it’s weight.

I try to stay above the water, to stay grounded, but the anxiety gets the better of me more often than not. It’s hard to push the thoughts away, but I push and I push and I push.

I can’t drown under the weight of anxiety. I refuse to, but these are the days where it seems like it’s pulling me in all directions, settling in and making itself at home. It’s a demon and a ghost, a friend you don’t want.

It’s a part of me.

 

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#MedicatedAndMighty – Why I’m Taking Medication for Mental Illness

November 6, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness, personal: anxiety, personal: bipolar disorder, personal: mental health, personal: psychiatry, personal: that spoonie life, personal: therapy 0 Comments

04b98602857b22cd85129f52d6e64cd7When I saw this post on BuzzFeed, I instantly knew that I wanted to turn it into a blog post of my own. It had been lingering in the back of my mind for awhile, but it didn’t hit hard until I read this post yesterday.

For a long time, I fought with the idea of getting help. I’d sit in a funk for awhile, debate over finally calling EH where my doctor had set up a referral for me. Eventually, it’d pass. It took awhile, sometimes longer than others – but it would pass.

It didn’t mean I wasn’t sick anymore.

I was. I knew it. Those closest to me knew it. Deep down, I was wrestling with the idea of getting help. I knew that something wasn’t right, that this back and forth, the battle, the flip of a switch mood swings and everything I was feeling wasn’t normal. It wasn’t healthy.

It wasn’t until last winter where I finally knew that I was either going to give up, or find help. My first try got me nowhere and basically was told that I wasn’t “sick enough” to get help from the county mental health department. I still look back and think, had I been worse… that outcome could have been so much worse than it was.

7395b496d3afbe4bb7e0bbfc64a0b70aMy biggest fear at that point in time, was starting to come true.

Getting out of bed was a fight.

Getting ready for work or class was a battle.

The smallest things would trigger an avalanche of emotions.

I wasn’t sleeping.

I was hardly eating.

It was getting worse and worse as every day passed. I felt like I was drowning, sinking and that I was going to feel this deep depression for the rest of my life.

That’s not even including the anxiety that was quickly taking control of almost every aspect of my life.

So, one cold January morning – I walked into my doctors office, broke down in tears and explained what was going on. He was the first medical professional to listen to me. To really listen and see what this was like for me. I left the office that day with a referral to EH to see a psychiatrist and start therapy, but also with a prescription for an anti-depressant.

The adjustment was… hard. I slept, a lot. My moods stabilized somewhat, but then started bouncing around again. I was sleeping 10-12 hours a day once the medication entered my system, and even then I was exhausted. I knew it would take time, that it meant I may have to try other meds.

Yet, I knew that starting medication was the best choice. Nothing I was doing on my own was helping, I’d lost weight, I’d lost friends (later realizing this was their loss and not mine, as they left me when I needed my friends the most) and set out to work through this.

In the end, I ended up seeing a psychiatrist about six months ago.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder. I was given more medication, with some adjustments here and there over the past six months. It took awhile, but I slowly started to see the difference.

Taking medication meant I could get out of bed.

Taking medication meant that I could make it to work and to school.

Taking medication meant that I could finally feel stable again, despite having a low here or there.

Taking medication means that I am taking care of myself, and in the long run – maybe this is what I needed all along. It took awhile to get to here, and previous experience with taking medication in high school left me hesitant and fighting the idea.

Taking medication means that I am on the road to becoming healthy. Taking medication daily means that I can have a chance to have a normal, healthy life. While I’m still fighting my mental illness, I am taking the biggest step I can in order to regaining my health.

I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

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Positively Katie: New Beginnings, New Meds and New Hopes

November 1, 2015 Katie A personal: anxiety, personal: bipolar disorder, personal: health, personal: highs and lows, personal: mental health, personal: positively katie, personal: pretty girl and honey, personal: psychiatry, personal: that spoonie life, personal: therapy 0 Comments

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YOU GUYS. This week has been kinda crazy, but most of it in good ways. I’ve been fairly busy this week, but still struggling with the endometriosis. I’m surviving, but still pushing through this flare.

highs: CANDY! Seriously. I bought all the best candy for Halloween. I knew we wouldn’t have many kids show up, so I got all the family favorites. Good thing, too. We only had two kids show last night. TWO.

FaceTime dates! Every time we laughed until we cried, we talked about some stuff we are both dealing with, talked about our future… it’s the best way to spend my evenings. I am so so lucky and in love.

Interviews…. what can I say here. It wasn’t a job interview. This summer I applied for a local high school diploma program and completed the qualifying process. I didn’t know when I’d heard more as it’s all state funded and based on grants, so I was surprised to see an e-mail asking me to schedule my IN PERSON INTERVIEW for the program.

I just got home from that and I am just so amazed, so excited and just… it’s overwhelming. It’s a dream come true and I am so thankful for this opportunity. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long, long time. 6cbf532a2c119171d6589ef556030310

I still have a final qualifying course to complete once I get the e-mail telling me to start (next week or two, I was told) and need to complete it (two parts) in a month, from there I am officially ENROLLED to work as a high school student and earn my diploma. 9106387b2fd29a4a2136b332a7a30150

Mental health… I have graduated to every two months for visits with my psychiatrist! She is thrilled with my progress over the last five months, so we are keeping my mood stabilizer at it’s current dose and upped the dose of my sleep meds, but I am thrilled with this progress.

lows: anxiety about that interview… especially last night and just minutes before it. I thought of taking an anxiety pill, but I didn’t and I am feeling much better. Once the interview started and all, I felt so much better and confident.

Endometriosis…. this is the flare that never ends. Let’s just leave it at that.

 

1Overall, a great week with a lot of exciting things ahead! I’ll leave you with a photo I took after my interview today. I got all dressed up for the interview and was (still am) feeling amazing!

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Reaching the Surface

October 31, 2015 Katie A personal: anxiety, personal: bipolar disorder, personal: health, personal: mental health, personal: psychiatry, personal: therapy 2 Comments

09e01f3406b1a67399504f3e6b3022a2When I became a patient at EH this past summer, I stepped into the doors full of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. I didn’t know what treatment would be like, I didn’t know anyone there.

All I knew was that I needed help.

The same afternoon I began therapy, I began seeing a psychiatrist. I started seeing LP once a month and we began the process of finding medications that would work for me.

I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, as well as bipolar disorder. We were already treating my depression through my primary care doctor, but LP kept lines of communication open and said if I needed a different medication, she would help me find it.

She was there to help. She wanted to help me get my feet back on the ground, to begin to feel like myself again.

It was overwhelming. Draining. Scary.

It was a lot all at once.

I trudged through, I adjusted to medication, increased dosages, changed medication and finally. . . after nearly six months, I walked into her office yesterday morning for our monthly meeting.

Seeing the smile on her face when I told her how I was doing, how I was adjusting to the change in dosage of the mood stabilizer made everything come into focus. Even now, I’m smiling.

For so long, I had told myself that I would always feel that way, that I’d always be numb, cold and sinking under the weight of depression. LP and my therapist CY have been amazing. I have a support team, these two cheer me on, listen to my struggles and encourage me.

They ask the hard questions.

They ask how I’m doing, and expect me to answer with exactly how I feel. I have to. If I don’t, I won’t be able to keep taking steps forward. If means changing medications over and over, adjusting to new ones – it’s something I have to do.

When I sat in LP’s office yesterday, I never expected her to tell me this:

“You are doing really, really well. You’ve graduated to the next step, the mood stabilizer is obviously working for you right now at it’s current dose. I think our next step is to graduate you to coming in to see me every two months.”

Wait, what?

Really?

It was not something I expected, and yet, I felt a weight lift off of me. I didn’t feel the anxiety sink in. I knew that if I need to come in sooner, that LP is there. They’ll fit me in and we can take things from there.

For now, I am enjoying this milestone. I’m proud of myself for getting this far, for fighting through the worst days, sinking under depression and losing part of myself.

All these little steps I started to take in July led me to today. Slowly but surely, I am starting to reach the surface – I fight the bad days, I fight when depression rears its head and tries to push me back down under it’s weight.

I’ve come so far already, and reaching the surface just a tiny bit is a breath of fresh air. I’m not sinking anymore.

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All Those Words: Starting a New Journey

July 1, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness 1 Comment

You may have seen me blog about my struggle with depression this winter, an eye opening post about what I had experienced. I was then referred to a clinic specializing in counseling as well as psychiatry. That was almost six months ago.

Five and a half months later, I made my first appointment. I walked into the doors at EH at 8:45am yesterday. I was shaking from head to toe. I was scared. I was worried. I was half convinced that no one would believe me and tell me I was fine. It was a new environment and I didn’t know what to expect.

therapy pink

I filled out the stack of paperwork I expected and was soon met in the lobby by my new therapist. I’ll call her V. Older, quiet, but very kind and welcoming. Calm and caring – I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Bonus: a woman. I had forgotten to ask on the phone the day before that I’d prefer a woman therapist.

Therapy isn’t new to me. I had gone on and off for years as I grew up, but coming to therapy alone is a new adventure. I have never really been in charge of something like this, planning my own appointments, getting myself there… these are big steps. Big steps I knew I had to take. I knew the first appointment would be more along the lines of getting to know each other, why I’m there, etc.

We talked somewhat about the variety of issues I’m dealing with, why I’m there (depression, things I’m still struggling with that have happened over the years, etc). It had been several years since I had gone to therapy and she openly asked how I had coped and I explained – sometimes I’d keep it all inside, sometimes I’d isolate myself, sometimes I’d rely on my close friends and family.

She gave me a list of coping techniques to try and said we would work on getting pas my experiences and being able to cope/manage when times get rough. After that, we scheduled my next appointment after V told me I could come as often as I want – weekly, once a month, every other month, etc. WOW! That’s awesome.

I go back next Monday afternoon and I am expecting to work hard that session to address some major things I’ve dealt with.

The  next thing we did was schedule an appointment with their psychiatry department. Originally scheduled for August, V was walking me out back to the lobby and the receptionist ran to us saying there was an opening for right now and was I willing to go now?

Why not, I said. I have no plans!

psychiatry pinkWalking into the office of PL as I’ll call her, felt surreal in so many ways. I couldn’t believe that after so many years, I was finally walking into the office a psychiatrist. I was going to get the help I needed. I was shaking again, overwhelmed but I knew this was what I had to do. This is why I was at EH.

I took in a deep breath and sat down in the chair, gripping the arm rests tightly. I was restless, anxious and not really sure what to expect. But I was here. I was doing this. I had already taken the first steps to the rest of my life.

We did the general questions about what brings me here, what meds I’m on, she asked questions about what my depression and anxiety were like, how often I experienced them, how often I had panic attacks or “down” days. We discussed my family history of mental health, how that has affected me, living with chronic illness and how I feel like a burden to others at times and when my own mental health issues began… it was a lot. It was a lot to remember, to discuss, to openly talk about. Overwhelming in so many ways.

As I’m already on Zoloft (prescribed the lowest dose by my primary care doctor), we talked about that and then began the big talk of what other medications could help me and a diagnosis. I was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s still a lot to take in. It’s hard. It’s incredibly scary to think about, but it makes so much sense. The days where I am full of energy, can’t stop talking or moving… and then the days where just getting out of bed is a challenge.

In a way, I’m mad. I don’t want to be that person with bipolar, but I also know how strong I am. How I’ve struggled with this for so many years without a diagnosis, forcing myself to do what I needed to do to get by. Now that I have a diagnosis, I can get the medication to help keep me stabilized (well, when my insurance decides to sign off on it and cover it).

PL also gave me something for sleeping – something that has been incredibly rocky for me lately. I slept last night. Almost through the night. It’s an amazing feeling (even if I am still groggy today) and I know that getting the sleep I need will also help in my recovery.

I go back to see PL in August and from there, we will discuss what has or hasn’t been working medication wise and likely add in an anxiety medication for me as well. It’s a lot to digest, to think about, to get used to – it’s overwhelming in a numbing way.

These are just the first steps in a new journey, and as scary as it is – I’ll continue to fight, to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other even on my darkest days.

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