Posts Tagged: rocky road to recovery

#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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On Chronic Illness, Friendships and Relationships

November 4, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness, personal: health, personal: that spoonie life 2 Comments

Since I’ve become sick and have started living my day to day life with chronic illness, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how strong I am, how much of a fight I have in me, that I can reach my goals, that I’ll have the good days and the bad days. I’ve learned that in order to be healthy and happy – I have to take care of myself.

I’ve also learned a lot about friendships.

And look, it hasn’t been easy.

People I thought would always be in my life, left.

Friends I thought I could trust, I can’t.

People I’ve loved dearly have left me behind, unable it seems, to deal with the plans life has thrown at me.

I’ve been broken, beaten and let down.

I’ve been dragged into situations that had nothing to do with me, torn apart and made to look like the bad guy. I’ve had people blatantly try to sabotage relationships and my own happiness.

I’ve had people I thought would be at my wedding, leave me behind. I’ve said goodbye to more people than I thought I ever would – but…

d478419b81e7d67abdd275e78281880fI learned that letting go is something I have to do to not only be healthy, but to be happy. I cannot sit around and let that negativity into my life. I struggle day in and day out as it is. I cannot let toxic people invade my space, try to silence me and try to ruin my own happiness.

Instead, I stood up. I stood up to the negativity. I stood up to toxic friendships that I let linger for far too long. I used my voice, one that had almost been taken from me. My own voice, that had been censored.

I had been told through others, that by speaking up, by venting and letting my own frustrations out in my own safe place, that I was stirring up trouble. I wasn’t going to allow my voice to be taken from me. I never will. 2a81792fdda015b2b760d614afa4f747

Instead, I severed ties.

I did what I had to do. I did what I had to do for my own health. I let go because having that negativity in my life means I can’t chase my happiness to the fullest. It meant that I would always be walking on glass, paranoid and ready for it to shatter all around me.

No matter what life has thrown at me, my own health and happiness matters the most. I refuse to be drawn into the drama, into the toxic and negative lives others thrive on. I refuse to be silenced.

I’m a fighter. I’m fighting for my health and my own happiness.

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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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The Guilt of Self Care

October 22, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness 1 Comment

Let me be honest here. Brutally honest.

It’s been a bad week. Rough. Emotional. Full of pain. Frustration. Stress. And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get harder – depression started to rear it’s ugly head. All while I battle an unexpected flare up of endometriosis complete with my second period this month.

All of this the week of my birthday.

I missed work Monday because I was that miserable. On my birthday.

It’s been rough.

I’ve missed more class this week than I have in the entire semester. Between the exhaustion, the pain and just being unable to do anything – I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. It was either classes, or work – but not both.

I couldn’t do both. fbc5c7c32a79e92133988542e01f159f

I had every intention of getting up and going to both classes this morning, but a rough night of sleep, pain that left me doubled over this morning and the fact that it was one of those mornings where I knew I had to take some serious pain meds, – that wasn’t going to happen.

I hated it.

I wanted to cry (and still do).

Worst of all?

I felt guilty for realizing that I need to take care of myself.

It’s a hard thing to learn that you need to take care of yourself, especially when you are facing so many chronic health conditions. It’s been my biggest fight sometimes. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. More often than not, I’ve pushed myself too hard, too far and too often. e96032de17b086e2017a2c77765d2777

Lately, it’s been too hard, too far and much too often.

When I turned off my alarm this morning, I sat in bed fighting with myself over the choice I made.

Do I go and push myself too far?

Do I stay home and rest?

I’d look at the clock every minute or so, telling myself I still had time to get up, to get ready and get out the door.

Eventually, knowing that I needed the rest, the heavy medication and to take care of myself won. I still felt guilty. Even more so when I woke up after noon, despite knowing how much I needed the rest, despite knowing how bad the pain was this morning.

I felt guilty.

I felt guilty, horrible and selfish for taking care of myself.

I felt guilty for taking the medicine I knew would help me get some relief. I felt guilty sleeping for another few hours when my body absolutely needed it. I felt like in many ways, I’d lost the fight. I’d given in – that guilt was a hungry thing, grabbing onto everything I had and lingering.

fce7b6e1bf9f77bf30006f84921412b5I knew that I had to take care of myself.

I knew that if I pushed too hard, too fast, too often – I’d make myself worse.

I sat in bed, staring up at the ceiling as I felt the guilt eat at me, repeating quietly to myself that I had to take care of myself. I had to put myself first.

There are times where I feel like people around me don’t see how hard I fight. I fight hard. I always have some sort of barrier put up to protect myself.

Sometimes, I stand surrounded by people – and watch and wonder if they can hear me scream as I drown with the fact that self care is hard. Putting yourself first is hard. Learning to do this every day is even harder – but so many times, I feel like it is a silent scream that no one hears.

Do they see the fight in me? I honestly don’t know.

I’ve been at my job for nine years and I am just now getting to the point where I am comfortable telling my boss how I really feel on these bad days, and that is something incredibly hard to do.

Learning to say no, to create boundaries, to take care of myself (in any way I have to), is a fight. Sometimes it’s more than I can handle and I feel like I’m drowning in the guilt – but these are the times where I know I am doing the right thing.

It’s the hardest times that make you realize that you can be at your lowest point, drowning underneath everything but finally feel like you can breathe and just let go.

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My Health, My Treatments, My Choice

September 29, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness 0 Comments

Yeah, yeah, yeah. . . I know I suck at this whole blogging thing, but let’s face it: this summer was brutal for me. Two ER trips due to Endometriosis, a shitty doctor who told me my pain was “in my mindset” and the agonizing wait to get into a new clinic (which has a much happier ending).

I walked out of that new clinic with yet another diagnosis – one that makes so much sense when it comes to my type two diabetes diagnosis. I was diagnosed with PCOS and told that between this, the diabetes and the endometriosis that I am unlikely to be a candidate for pregnancy.

It was crushing, honestly. I’ve cried about it. I’ve been angry.

This diagnosis though makes sense. The symptoms, the diabetes… it all makes sense.

That being said, this post was triggered and inspired by one of my classes today. I’m back in school after a semester off and while I am loving it, let’s be honest – it’s draining. I come home and nap after my classes before I go to work for the afternoon. I try and get homework done early in the week, but that has yet to happen. I’m just wiped out.

Today we were discussing gender and how our identities often intersect with other aspects of our lives. Some of the things I listed were my sexuality (I’m openly lesbian), a spoonie, endometriosis warrior, a chronic illness fighter and someone who has invisible illnesses.

When it came time to discuss these with other classmates in smaller groups, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to share this because it’s so hard sometimes. It’s frustrating to hear “but you don’t look sick”, or “you’re too young”, or “you’re too healthy and thin to have diabetes”, but guess what? I do. I fight every day. I push myself every day. I don’t want to have these – but I do. 1efbedb94b1252751abd144718c73922

I am sick.

One of the people in my group is very vocal about her approach and a family member who has been ill. Which, I appreciate – it’s nice to hear from someone else about what they may be dealing with.

The problem I have is that today, when I brought up my illnesses – all of them being invisible – I was immediately thrown into a whirlpool of health treatments that don’t mesh well with me. They aren’t something I’m comfortable with, something I feel that would benefit me. She didn’t seem to understand that and kept going on and on.

When I talked about how a recent trial of me being off of metformin for the diabetes sent me back into the range of the 200-300 blood glucose level, she said I just need to get off of the medication and let my body detox.

Yeah, no. I’m not willing to risk that and put myself in a possible position to end up in the emergency room because my blood glucose won’t come down to a safe level. I’m not willing to risk going off of my mood stabilizers or anti-depressants. I know what I am like without them, and I don’t want to go there again.

I know how I am without being on my current birth control pill. It sent me to the emergency room twice this summer. I bled for six weeks. I was sick. I was in so much pain I could hardly even eat.

Let’s face it: what may work for you, may not work for me. And that is totally fine. We all have different bodies that react to things differently. Right now, my body is doing fine on the metformin, it’s doing really well with the new birth control pills to help my Endometriosis, and my mood stabilizer (while I am adjusting to a higher dose currently) is worked wonders.

When my girlfriend and I talked today about this entire thing, this is what she said:

“I, personally, have seen the amazing benefits your treatment plan has had on you: a happier, healthier katie.  ❤”

Having her and my friends and family at my side helping me through these last few months has been life saving. I’ve been in a very dark place for a long time before I finally started getting treatment and for others to see the changes in me? Means the world and really hits home that I am doing what is best for me.

Let me make my own choices with my doctor and psychiatrist and gynecologist about what works for me. Let me take the medications that keep me stable, keep me out of the emergency room. Let me handle my own treatment, knowing what works for me.

Being chronically ill is hard enough as it is, but knowing what works best for me? Has been amazing and I am not letting that go anytime soon.

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The (Rocky) Road to Recovery: My Journey So Far

April 18, 2015 Katie A Uncategorized 0 Comments

The last few months have been… interesting. Now that I have insurance, I have been in and out of doctor’s offices, blood work drawn, trips to the pharmacy have been more than I can count – but it’s all part of a process. It’s all part of being healthy again, living a new life and on the road to recovery.

On February 12, 2015 – I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

My entire life changed in that office. For awhile, I didn’t even feel like it was real. This couldn’t be my life. I was healthy, active and while yes, I could have eaten better at times, I tried my best to live a healthy lifestyle despite a hectic work life and balance school.

It didn’t matter. My blood glucose fasting results were a sky high level of 236. Any higher, and there was a very real chance I could have headed to the hospital because my glucose was too high. That’s a very scary thought and one that pushes me daily to get myself onto a healthy diet, keep active and make sure I take meds to help control my diabetes.

It’s barely been two months since I’ve been diagnosed. In that time I have:

– seen my numbers drop from the high 200’s to the 100’s (with a couple hypoglycemic episodes in there)

– started on two medications for diabetes, with insurance denying a third

– I attend my first diabetes class Tuesday morning

– Tackled a fabulous vacation and did well on my first big trip as a diabetic

– Proudly wear a medic alert bracelet

But it hasn’t been easy. Not at all. I still have not been able to cry over this diagnosis, because in a lot of ways – it doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem like this is my life. But it is. This is my life and I have to live it in the best way that I can to keep myself healthy. I have seen what out of control diabetes can do to people and I don’t want to go down that road.

I have had people tell me to my face that I “need to get on that” without understanding the negative impact it has on me. I’ve had people tell me that it’s because of all the sugar I’ve had that caused it, nope. That’s not it either. I have a family history of it, it’s genetic.

Recently, I’ve had someone I was close to decide to cut me out of their life because I was unable to make it to an event due to the fact that I was sick from the diabetes. I had been dealing with highs and lows and numbers bouncing all over the place, feeling weak and like I may pass out and realized, I have to stay home. I have to take care of myself and cannot risk an ER trip.

So, I stayed home.

Then I was berated, belittled, accused of some pretty nasty stuff and now feel like I have been cut from their life. All because I needed to take care of myself, because I was sick. Because I knew that had I pushed myself more than I already had, I would have ended up in the hospital.

This diagnosis is hard.

It means that I have had to make major changes to my life immediately. It means that I have had to give up things I loved, change my diet completely, test my sugar, learn my limits and make sure I take my medications every day at the same time so I don’t get worse.

Diabetes means that I have had to learn who really stays at my side and supports me, or who walks away. It means that people I thought I was close to had no idea I had diabetes until I mentioned it randomly. It means that I have had to say no to things I wish I could do because I am battling a low moment or I feel sick from the medications.

Most of all, it means learning to take care of myself. Learning that I have to take care of me and put my health first. It means that I can’t ignore the symptoms or a high or a low and that I have to act quickly. It means that there are days where no matter how well I eat and stay active, I’ll still have a high. Diabetes means that I have a life long, chronic illness.

It’s not going to go away. Yes, it can (and will) get better with management – but it’s been a long two months. Two months in and I still have so much to learn.

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far?

Take care of myself, no matter how hard it is, no matter how draining it can be. I have to take care of myself so I can be healthy for life and for my loved ones.

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