A new Depressing experience, without Anxiety

*This post may contain some self-harm triggers*

It’s been a crazy semester trying to balance my physical health, mental health, work, and school.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about how it seemed that the Welbutrin I had been taking was spiking my heart rate. Last time I wrote about that experience, I was weening myself off of it, and onto Lexapro.

Well, let me give you an update.

I weened completely off of the Welbutrin, and it seemed to be fine. My heart rate steadily decreased to a little bit lower when it was at a resting rate, but still not great. However, high heart rates run in my family, so it is not a huge concern that meds are still causing it. Going off of the Welbutrin did make an impact; for that, I am thankful.

Letting my body get used to the Lexapro was quite the adventure. It gave me extreme mood swings where I would either be so extremely energized that I couldn’t sit still or stop talking, or I’d crash and completely fall asleep for the night (at like 6pm). It made it very difficult to focus on school work at either time.

I had a follow up with my doctor and I told her what was happening with the mood swings, but otherwise it was alright. We decided to continue and see if my body normalized it into my system.

About two weeks ago was when I finally realized its effects. My biggest victory with the successful anxiety medication was that I was able to finally speak up in class and contribute to the conversation, without feeling my heart pounding in the chest, sweat beading on my body, or words travelling in a million different directions as I tried to organize my thoughts. It was a huge small accomplishment, and it felt so good!

However, there was something that changed recently.
Maybe it was switch that had just turned off; maybe the power went out.
Maybe it was a cliff that I fell off and hit the bottom of the canyon, leaving me gasping for air because the wind was knocked out of me.
Maybe it was a stranger watching me as I went throughout my days. Myself unaware, only to find out it was someone I knew all along.

Depression came knocking, and it has been relentless.

There was no warning, no known triggers, no idea where it originated. It hit me like I ran straight into a brick wall. It’s like that family member that never tells you when they are visiting, but just shows up and expects you to drop everything and cater to their needs.

One new development from the last time I hit a valley like this has been the anxiety portion. Last time, I had Anxiety to occupy some of Depression’s demands, but this time I’m medicated so that Anxiety doesn’t visit. Last time, I had Anxiety to keep me stressed just enough to overcome the lack of motivation to be able to get something turned in for homework. This time, Anxiety isn’t staying while Depression is staying. No, it hasn’t reared its little head at all. This time, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. I don’t feel like taking a shower. I don’t feel capable of changing my clothes. I cannot even look and read on my computer screen because that is too much work in itself.

And beyond all of that, persistent graphic images keep invading my mind. Images of myself slicing down my arms and legs, watching the blood continuously flow from my body reoccurs in my mind, relentlessly.
I’m getting impulses just to hide places so no one can find me so I can just hide from everything around me.
I had an instance yesterday when I was in the campus’s library with my group for a class, and I went downstairs to use the bathroom. There was no one when I was in there, and the images came back, but in that setting. I was getting impulses and images to self-harm before I went back upstairs to work on a project, crafting up ways that it would be concealed.

I’m terrified of being alone.

If you’re religious, please pray for me, and for the many others that experience this everyday, or other variations of it. Please pray for the many that suffer from such debilitating mental illnesses. When it is persistent, uncontrollable, and there is literally nothing that motivates you, it’s hard to be and feel like you’re a functioning member of society…and you don’t even care that you’re not.

With all the negativity aside, I have finally begun exposing some of what is happening to me to those close to me, and it has been exactly what I need. Those around me know I need some decisions made for me in times like this, and they know just the ways to make me feel better, even if it is for a little bit. It’s great having a psychology major as a roommate and one of my best friends because she knows what’s helpful in the psychology aspect, but also is able to cater it to what I personally need because she knows me. Another one of my best friends sent me lots of pictures of dogs throughout the day because he knew it would brighten my mood just a little bit more every time. I had people tell me they were ready to drop everything to come “rescue” me and do something to keep me distracted, because they know that it is helpful for me to keep my thoughts on something else.

I encourage all of you who may be going through something similar to find those coping skills for yourself, and find what works to keep you going every day. I encourage you to find those people in your life that know you and know what works for you and can help when they see those signs.

Keep fighting against the darkness with me, and I’ll keep fighting with you.

World Mental Health Day!

I want to wish you all a happy World Mental Health Day!

I also thought it to be appropriate to share with you something that was awared to me this past week.

Through ASHA International, I was awarded the 2016 Hope Bringer Award.

This was given to me because of the world-wide impact my post had; so many people identified and found hope because of it. Although I was only one person who opened up about my mental health struggles, I had a miraculous incident happen to me. Because of that, I used it to my advantage to keep the transparency going; I encouraged others to speak out about their own struggles, seek help, or find ways of positive comfort during these times. I continued to be vulnerable, and encouraged others to be, and reminded people that they are not alone.

Because of the impact my post had, ASHA International awared me with this incredible award. It was amazing sharing my story with so many more individuals, and seeing the reactions in the audience.

I am so humbled by all of the support everyone has given me.

Thank you, and keep fighting 🙂


 

A Monster Called Anxiety

My anxiety has gotten worse. I have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder before; just depression.

This last week, I have been put on a higher dose of my antidepressants to see if it will help the anxiety that has become more prevalent in my life. I want to tell you a few things about it.

I have always struggled with presentation anxiety and nervousness leading up to and during a presentation, or just talking in class. For presentations, I have to write everything out in full sentences because I am unable to form sentences in my head from just bullet point prompts. Even if I know the information like the back of my hand, I can’t say it how I had it organized on paper or screen. Same goes for in-class comments, answers, or discussions. If my teacher or professor (this goes back to 4th grade when I began public school) would ask the class a question–even if I was 100% sure of the answer–I wouldn’t say it.

The same goes for being called on in class; I freeze up, and a lot of times I don’t make sense, or the info isn’t not clear. One of my professors this term–who knows of this problem I have–asked me before the class discussion if he could call on me. This gave me a few minutes to write my thoughts down, but it wasn’t enough time for me to write them out in sentences, so I still didn’t say exactly what and how I wanted to say. My heart pounding in my chest, the shaking hands, and quivering voice made me too distracted to concentrate.

Another recent time was a class group presentation I had just a few weeks ago. Like I always do, I had all my notes written out in sentences to help me during the presentation. This, of course, makes it more difficult to actually present well because I read aloud, which means I talk faster. I’ve been like this for most of my life, so that’s just how I thought my mind worked through it. However, this isn’t the point I want to make. The point is that I was the one who was going to bring the laptop to hook up to the projector for our presentation, so of course that meant getting there 40 minutes early to make sure everything works, even though I have used that same projector in that same room before, with the same laptop. I just needed the time just in case something didn’t work right, even though I was 99% sure that nothing would go wrong. My anxiety took over and made me take extra time out of my day to unnecessarily triple check everything.

The same went for the conference I went to a few week ago. My professor and I had our seminar after the luncheon they provided, but I was so nervous and anxious about presenting that I had to leave early to collect myself and try to calm down because I felt like I was going to throw up, pass out, or break down and cry. Or all of the above. I even tried breathing exercises to try to slow my heart rate, but honestly I think it just made it worse.
I got to the room we were presenting in early–but not 40 minutes, surprisingly. However, I immediately regretted it when I discovered that the video wouldn’t play on my laptop. I didn’t have enough time to fix it because I had to figure out how to set up the room as well (getting the projector the right distance for the screen, but also having the laptop close enough to where we would be standing). My professor didn’t get there until 5-10 minutes beforehand, and we just used her laptop. But my final added notes weren’t on her copy of the presentation. For some reason, I thought that those few sentences were crucial to the presentation so I scrambled to add them right before we started. But I didn’t have enough time to add everything. Whatever calmness that I had found before the presentation had disappeared and my heart was racing, my hands shaking, my stomach in knots, and I was almost in tears…all over again.
But the presentation went beautifully. Better then I had even hoped. I definitely began quite nervous, but it did get a little easier. I think that was the first time in years that I hadn’t felt anxious or nervous for the entire duration of a presentation. That was a huge step for me.

However, my anxiety didn’t just go away after that. Conveniently enough, I needed to renew my prescription for my antidepressants from a doctor, so I decided to bring up my increased anxiety during my appointment. We came to the conclusion that my anxiety stems from worrying, but further than the average person experiences. This made sense because I always have so many things to do, assignments to work on, personal matters, and I get extremely stressed out thinking about how much it is and when they’re due…but then there are the days when my depression shows up and I don’t have the energy or concentration to do those tasks. Even though I had all of these worries that were driving my insane. How does that make sense? To have a mental disorder, it has to impair daily functioning. Which is what has happened, because there will always be something for me to do…which means there will always be something for me to worry about.

So, on this increased dose of my antidepressant, I began experiencing some side effects, like usual. However, they didn’t hit me until two days later when I was at work. I work at a Pita Pit (a sandwich shop, but with pita bread), so I deal with tons of customers, and it’s a very fast-paced job. I was also the stand-in shift lead for that night.
The side effects came onto me gradually. I was kind of shaky, and I thought that maybe my blood sugar was low; when I get low blood sugar, I often times shake. I popped open a bag of chips and nibbled on a few of them to see if it helped, which it usually does. But I was still shaking. Quite badly.
Then it got worse. I then realized what was happening. From then, I began to just feel uncomfortable. I felt like I was in a bubble, and I couldn’t hear people a few feet in front of me. I couldn’t concentrate. I could not remember something that someone just told me. When I was helping a customer with their pita, they would say a couple veggies to put in there, and I could only remember one. That was embarrassing. I also couldn’t grill because it is already loud underneath the hood due to the fan, but I couldn’t hear outside of this “bubble” that I felt that I was in. I also couldn’t even run the register because I was shaking so badly when handing cards, cash, and our rewards points card back and forth to the customers. Again, my memory would not allow me to remember what the customer had just said, let alone try to hear them from the bubble I was in.
I could only do tasks in the back. But I couldn’t just do that. I eventually got so bad that I had to call someone and have her cover for me. I felt so bad that I made her come and work when she had the night off, blaming myself for what was happening, even though I had no control over it.
Obviously I couldn’t take that higher dosage because of work the following few days. I decided to risk my potential insomnia and take the pill at night so I’d (hopefully) be asleep when the jitters kicked in, so I would be able to work the next day. They say that the meds may cause insomnia, but I had to risk it. I was able to work the next two days with no problems. I began taking the dose in the morning again after that so it would be on my normal schedule. That was Friday.

Here I am, still feeling some side effects–especially the shaking–but it is not to the extreme that it was. Last week was Spring Break for me, so this week I am back to school. Anxiety and I will have to face off this week, and I just hope I win this round for once.

It’s a circle — I mean cycle

(Oops, sorry for the Paramore reference)
I feel like I go through these cycles.

This past month I have been so busy and excited about the business, AND I’ve kept up with it all! However, these past few days I have felt myself sinking a little bit. I have come to see this cycle of when my depression decides to show its face.

Even though I am better than where I was a year ago, I still have days when my depression seems to be tied to my ankles.
I still have days when my depression draws dark circles under my eyes, and hooks weights onto my eyelids.
I still have days when I cannot fall asleep at night because I have a thousand things running through my head;
I still have days when my depression encompasses itself in my comforter, but weighs 100lbs, making it difficult to get out of bed.
I still have days when depression ties my hands together so I am unable to do my homework.
I still have days when my depression holds me down so I cannot leave the couch.
I still have days when depression takes over my appetite, whether that is eating too much or too little;
I still have days when my depression decides I need 2 bowls of ice cream and 3 bars of chocolate, even if I really don’t want it.
I still have days when my depression takes the words right out of my mouth, and I’m caught unable to explain how I am really feeling.
I still have days when my depression grabs my stomach and twists it into knots.
I still have days when my depression seeps into my veins and makes me feel anxious for no reason.
I still have days when my depression consumes my mind so I am unable to focus in class.
I still have days when my depression makes me obsess over the simplest things that don’t even matter.
I still have days when my depression looks at me in the mirror and calls me worthless, ugly, and pathetic.
I still have days when my depression makes me act out the “I’m fine” when I am really feeling the “save me.”

I also have days when my depression has gone on a day trip or extended vacation because it needs a break too. I know it is spending time with someone else’s depression, making their life even worse.
My depression will sometimes bring a friend to visit as well, plummeting my life into some ocean of darkness–
drowning–
instead of just letting my head float above the water.

But,

I also have days where I feel like I can do a million things in a day, and I actually  do them.
I have days when I am able to get up with my first alarm.
I have days when I get all my homework done, and have time to relax.
I have weeks where my depression is nowhere to be found.

I will always have good days and bad days. And that is okay.
It is important that I surround myself with supportive people who help me stay connected and engaged instead of drowning in my thoughts.

It’s okay not to feel okay. But don’t let that stop you from trying to reach “okay.”

I know nothing…and I’m okay with that

It’s crazy to me to look back at this past year, or even since the end of August when my FB post went viral. I have changed so much.

Especially since my winter break has ended, and getting myself into the routine of this semester. I feel more confident than I ever have. I don’t feel like the passive, quiet person that I have been pretty much my entire life. I feel comfortable stating my mind for what it is, uncaring if there is judgement. I feel confident in myself because I am finally taking the time to focus on who I am, instead of worrying about everyone else 24/7. I have always focused on other people and making them happy, fulfilling their needs, but I never took time to care for myself. Now, however, I feel like I am a better helper and friend because I am taking the time to care for myself as well. I finally am taking the time to reflect on what happened that day, or think about what someone said in class, and ask myself what that really means to me.

I can already tell that this semester is going to be a crazy one with the dynamic of classes I have, the several side projects I have going on, and preparing for the trip to Thailand. It is going to be a busy semester, but I am so excited about it! It’s the start of my senior year, and I could not be more ecstatic about it because I get to share it with the amazing people in my life. This school year (Fall 2015 & Spring 2016) has been made of classes to get my major (psychology) and minor (women’s studies). I love that these classes really make me question how I have lived my life up until this point, and the reasons I have lived my life how I have.

If we don’t face challenges in our life, or are never apart of conversations that make us question our entire existence, then we haven’t lived at all. When you leave college, you shouldn’t feel like you know everything…if they taught you right, you’ll realize you know absolutely nothing. And I realize that I know nothing…and that makes me all the more excited to learn.

I am endlessly creating myself. 

End of the year

Whenever we reach this time of the year, I always seem to reflect back on it, just as everyone else does.

This year has been a complete roller coaster.

So much has happened to me and for me in 2015. At the beginning of the year, I was struggling with how to deal with my depression; I was not seeing a therapist, and I was unmedicated. I was really struggling.

However, I am still so glad for the support and help I received from so many. Those people really are why I am where I am today. I have come a long way since then.

I can’t believe that the end of summer would turned my life upside down. Getting my ambigram tattoo is something I will always be thankful for. I cannot say enough how difficult it was for me to post. I literally had to look away from the screen when I pressed the “post” button because I did not want to back out of my decision. I knew it was something that I needed to do. I knew it was something that people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about, because it’s real. I am so glad that we can begin to feel more comfortable sharing our own stories; it won’t ever be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Looking back, I can say that some days Depression still wraps its tight grasp around my throat, hindering me from basic breathing.
Some days I feel like Depression is weights tied around my ankles, leaving me slow and unmotivated;
Some days it feels like it ran me a marathon, leaving my body and mind exhausted;
Some days it feels like it is just lingering… like the feeling you’re being watched after finishing a scary movie at night, but not knowing who is out in the dark.
And some days it feels like Depression has gone on vacation and left me house-sitting money to treat myself while it is away.

And here I am now, months down the road; I’m in a place I never thought I would be. I have reached so many people, and I will continue to do so with all of the opportunities that are arising. And I sure hope that some of you will join me.

Thank you all so much. Have a wonderful New Year!

Today was incredible

And I just want to share it with you!!

So I woke up this morning and saw that mine and Kris’ (my professor) poster was accepted for the 2016 CAPS Conference in March in Los Angeles! We get to present on the data we are collecting from the viral post, including some data of the shares, comments, and private messages. We are also going to look at content of the comments and messages. I am SO excited to continue this information!

Also, I received an email today that the Fall/Winter 2015 George Fox Journal article is printed, AND I’M THE COVER! I didn’t know that I was going to be the cover!
Displaying IMG_9188.JPGGFU J cover

I’m incredible excited! The journal has not been officially released to the school yet, so all I am going to post is the cover until they release it to the public, and the digital version. I will share it on here and my Facebook when it is released!

Anyways, I just wanted to share some of my excitement! Overall, I’m glad this week is almost over because this week was very busy for me, so it was a great way to sort of end my week. I’m excited to see where this goes.

On another note, though, there have been a few things on my mind lately (that I cannot disclose), and I’m at such conflict about what I should do. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to make these things public, but I know my family would be at such conflict, or be upset. I am sorry, family, that I have kept such secrets from you.

I will let you readers know that I had finally disclosed something to my therapist about something that happened years ago that I have never talked about. I also have sought out someone outside of my therapist that has gone through something similar; I am excited to talk with them about it because–even though I’ll be terrified–I can feel that it is something that is well overdue, and I am anxious to hear a first hand experience from someone I actually know and care for (even though I would never wish it upon anyone).

I just want to thank every one of you: to my friends and family who have been by my side for so long, helping me overcome  so many struggles, and loving me no matter what; and to all of you readers and followers that I gained from the viral post: you guys encourage me everyday to keep fighting, and keep talking about my mental illness, so we can begin to see the change in our world. And I am amazed to see the impact that I have had on so many people; I am so thankful for it. I am so encouraged to see and hear so many people seeking help or speaking out. Every time you do, the stigma falls; it becomes less and less of a problem.

Thank you, every one.