Posts Tagged: mental illness

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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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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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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