Posts Tagged: therapy

#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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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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Exhaustion, Endometriosis and Endless Appointments

July 9, 2015 Katie A Chronic Illness 1 Comment

I’m sure many of you will understand how utterly exhausting it is to just get through one appointment, much less three appointments in one week – two in one day. Wednesday was brutal and I am beyond exhausted and still trying to sort everything out, even though they were both good appointments and I got a lot accomplished in one day.

Monday was my second round of therapy with V, where we briefly talked about my recent bipolar diagnosis, how I was adjusting to medication so far and then we moved onto talking about my coming out experience (you can read about that here) and how it’s been such a struggle for me since it happened. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I thought I’d break down in tears, but I didn’t. I thought quietly at several points during the session, but I really felt somewhat better when I left.

I go back next Monday morning for round three before I head to work for the day. I’m assuming I’ll be going weekly for awhile, at least until we start to make a dent in some of the things that I need to deal with and start working through. It’s overwhelming, but I know I have a good team behind me.

Wednesday morning started off crazy. By the time I was ready to leave to pick up my mom to go to my appointment with me, I couldn’t get my car started. I didn’t pick her up until ten minutes before my appointment and then I had to speed over to the office, but we made it on time. The entire way, I could feel myself start to panic. The stress of the morning plus knowing I could get some huge results had me all worked up. No matter what I did, I couldn’t calm down.

We waited forever. Nearly over an hour. So frustrating, but what can you do?

Finally get called back, and no surprise – my blood pressure is fine but my pulse was fast. I explain it’s anxiety, it’s always that way… so they recheck it in a few minutes. Still high. Telling me to “relax” doesn’t help, it just stresses me out more. Ugh.

Doctor M comes in and tells me my lab work results and I am floor. My A1C dropped from a 10.3 at diagnosis in February to a 6.9, which is under where they want a typical diabetic patient. I almost fell out of my chair and I am still in shock, holy crap. He also said that I can stop all medication for diabetes and just continue to eat healthy and exercise and test daily. I go back in three or four months for another round of lab work to check and see how things are doing.

I also left with an inhaler for exercise induced asthma and a refill of my anxiety/migraine/heart rate medication. Apparently the new call center that was forced on the clinic never relayed the refill request I asked and yeah… not happy. My nurse told me the secret about who to call and what extension to use, so now I don’t have to worry about it!

The big news is that I left with a referral to a gynecologist since my Endometriosis has only been getting worse these last few months. I’ve had a period for two weeks now, doubled over in pain nearly every day and nothing I’ve tried in the past seems to be helping anymore. I’m going to be pushing for surgery. I can’t stand this pain anymore. I go in on July 28 and hopefully we can get things rolling and begin some serious treatment.

Wednesday afternoon was my visit to Planned Parenthood. The pills I got in November just… weren’t working. I was still in pain, still having crazy periods and just… not working the way we’d hoped. After paperwork, waiting and surprise another slightly high pulse, I finally talked to a doctor and got new pills. I started them last night so it’s still too early to tell if they’ll help.

The doctor there also said it sounds like surgery is the next step since everything we’ve tried hasn’t worked and to make sure I tell my new gynecologist this when I see him at the end of the month. So, that’s what I will be doing.

It was an exhausting week for appointments and I know it’ll be this crazy for awhile.

I’ve spent today resting, and plan to curl up again and watch some television for the rest of the night. I go back to work tomorrow for a short shift, and I’m excited to see my work family but I am hoping I am not this tired and sore when I go tomorrow.

One day at a time, right? Just keep breathing. Stay strong.

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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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