The Journey Continues

It has been quite awhile. I would love to catch you up.

Last time I wrote, I told you all about my run-in with Depression while being on Lexapro; Depression reared its head harder than it had in a while. I saw graphic images that would not leave my head; I was afraid of being alone because I did not trust myself to be safe.

After awhile, it did not dissipate, so I ended up switching medications again. This time, I tried Effexor XR. I have now been on it for months (I believe this entire 2017 year, but I am not sure if I am remembering correctly).

It was working alright for awhile. I didn’t have bad side effects this time, which I was very thankful about. Nothing will ever be as bad as Prozac was for me, I’m sure.

Although being on Effexor was better than when I was on the Lexapro, I still wasn’t satisfied with how I was feeling. I would still have some pretty bad days. After some conversation with my doctor, and a month of waiting for an open appointment, I saw a psychiatrist.

At this point, I was really feeling helpless and low about myself. I felt that I was unfixable because I needed a specialist because I wasn’t even “normal” when it came to my mental health.

After a conversation with my psychiatrist, he decided that a mood stabilizer might be a good way to go because I would have valleys where I would be in a low state, but also days where I would spike upward, in which I would want to do everything and would spend too much money, quite carelessly. I didn’t fit bipolar cycles, but I had some highs and lows in my moods, but it depended more on a daily basis instead of days- or week-long episodes; one day I would be spending all my money on a shopping spree, and the next day I couldn’t get out of bed, and would wish I was dead (and, trust me, it wasn’t buyer’s remorse).

When I got out of my first session with my psychiatrist, this was where I felt defeated, unfixable, crazy. The mood stabilizer I was put on is an anti-psychotic (typically for schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder). I couldn’t be that kind of crazy, could I?

Stop. I know what you are thinking right now. How dare I–as a mental health advocate and stigma fighter–claim that there is something wrong with those who struggle with schizophrenia, bipolar, or similar disorder?
Because I got sucked up into thinking that it just couldn’t be my reality. 
Sure, plenty of people in the world have these disorders and are thriving! My depression, my anxiety, the stigma! got ahold of me and told me I was broken.

After a second thought, I realized how foolish it was. No one’s “crazy” is better or worse than someone else’s. If the medication helps, what is so wrong with that?

I felt terrible to had even thought I was above other mental illnesses. That is the stigma that surrounds mental health. The stigma is even hard to escape for those of us fighting against it.

I once read somewhere that your initial thought is what you were taught to think, but what you think after that is what you actually think.

I absolutely love this idea of thought. It carries so much depth.

However, we should get back to the rest of the story.

I was ready and accepting of my new medication to try on top of my Effexor. Sadly, one of the side effects is tiredness. And it hit me HARD. I began taking them in the morning with the Effexor around 8am. By 10 or 11, I would hit almost a comatose-like state where I could barely keep my eyes open. If I was able to rest, it was like waking the dead.

One day I went to town with my mom, stepdad, and stepsister. I was in the backseat and had fallen asleep. Each stop, they would have to yell and practically shake me awake for me to even acknowledge that they were talking to me. I physically could only open my eyes like once or twice, then I would fall back into slumber immediately. I could barely even make it back into the house because I was so sleepy and could not wake up. I went straight back to bed and would not get up until later that evening.

I thought that maybe it was a temporary side effect, so I kept trying. It did not stop, though. Thankfully, I was only working two days a week at that time, so I had the ability to try for 5 days in a row without consequence, other than feeling like I wasted a day. After a month, I did not feel like the medication was doing anything to my benefit.

I saw my psychiatrist again and told him what happened. He decided to change me to a different mood stabilizer. This time I started taking it in the evenings so I would not pass out mid-morning. It worked better than the last, but I had to be consistent on what time I took it, because it would make me pass out as well. If I took it too early, I would pass out at 7 pm and sleep too long so I’d be tired; if I took it too late, I’d feel somewhat of a “hangover” from it and would feel the tiredness lasting into my morning, which made my whole day feel like I was in a fog.

And it wasn’t just the tiredness this time that was affecting me. It made the Depression worse, as some medications do. But it was bad. During this month, about three weeks into the medication, I had the worst day out of the entire month. Something set me off at work and I endlessly cried; thankfully, it happened during our allotted time for paper work and not while I was on unit, and my coworkers are so very supportive and were able to break out my unit so I didn’t have to face the kids with my face screaming “I have been crying.” I love working in a place that understands mental health, because there is so much support. (Shout to you all; love you guys ;))

But then it got worse.

Warning: The following content may be triggering to some readers. I am about to get very real, and be very honest and open about my journey. This is hard to write because it was such a low point for me, but I want to continue my transparency. I will italicize the section that is triggering. Feel free to skip that section and return to reading after it is done. 

My boyfriend picked me up from work and the entire way home, I just felt off. I felt like I had a 50 lb. weight in my chest. I was having hurtful thoughts against myself and felt that I was incapable of ever feeling better. I just wanted some release. 

I hit a new low that I had not hit in years. When we got home, I went to the bathroom, alone. My dog had followed me in there, but I pushed her out. I couldn’t bear to do what I was about to do in front of my loved companion. I stared at myself in the mirror for a minute and just hated what I saw. I, then, took a razor from my boyfriend’s shaving kit–a new one–unwrapped it, and cut myself for the first time in years. 

I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know why my impulse control centers weren’t working properly. I don’t even know what I was thinking in those moments; I just know I was hurting. 

Immediately after, I told my boyfriend and he made the house “safe” so I couldn’t impulsively do something like that again. What I find interesting is that I knew better after the fact. I knew I needed to tell my support system so they knew what was going on. Even if I did not tell them exactly what happened, I wanted to let them know I was not doing well and needed extra support, prayers, positive thoughts, whatever they could offer. 

After that incident, I stopped taking the new meds. There was no way I wanted to keep it up after that. It took a few days for the overwhelming feelings of self-hate to subside, but, with minimal resources, I was able to recover from that episode.


Two months down, two medications, and nothing was helping.

I remember going back to my psychiatrist, telling him what happened, and hearing him say something along the lines of, “I think it is time we try this.” What does that exactly mean?

Now I am on Lamictal (Lamotrigine). Lamictal has been used as an anti-seizure medication, but in 2003, was approved to treat bipolar disorder, specifically bipolar II.

If you know me, you know I will definitely do research on my medications beyond just what the doctor tells me. The biggest warning–which my psychiatrist did warn me about–is a life-threatening rash that may erupt from its use if not introduced to the body correctly, or if an allergy is present. Other than that side effect, I was told I shouldn’t have any more problems, like I was having with the previous medications.

Even though there was the rash risk, I was willing to try. After some research, I found that many prescribing physicians claim that Lamictal is their medication of choice for those with bipolar II. When my psychiatrist prescribed this to me, he told me that is was exclusively for treating bipolar II.

Does this mean my diagnosis has changed? 

From initially being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in November of 2014 and feeling like I had lost all hope…have I finally found the direction towards healing?

Well, here I am, trying. I am two months into this medication–an increase after the first month–and I go back this Wednesday for my next check up. More than likely I will increase again.

Just last week–a month after my “episode”–I was driving in the car with my boyfriend and I suddenly was overwhelmed and had tears welling in my eyes. I realized that it was the first time in weeks that I had not had a “bad day” (barely get out of bed, disregulated eating habits, self-hating thoughts, lots of sleep). In that moment, I felt more like myself than I have in so long, and it felt good. I finally wanted to do things again; I wanted to live my own life in my own skin, and I didn’t hate it.

I know it won’t be perfect from here on out, but I know this direction is the one where I should be heading. I can’t wait to see what is next.


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 🙂


The Heart Knows Best

Last week was the beginning of my last semester of my undergraduate education at George Fox University. Obviously I am excited and terrified at the same time. With all of the stress that comes with it, Life decides that I need more things to worry about: one of those includes my heart.

Because I took 15-18 credits every semester prior to this one, I was able to have an easier class load my final one. My roommate and I decided to take two workout classes, which are back-to-back twice a week. The first is yoga, the second step aerobics.

Last Wednesday (the first day of our work outs), something happened. Yoga went well, but when we started step aerobics, I realized something wasn’t right. I wasn’t just out of breath; it was different than that. Worse. I had to excuse myself after a short few minutes of workouts because I felt like I was either going to pass out or vomit. I decided I should go see someone.

Later that same day, I went to see the University’s nurse practitioner to discuss what had happened. Previously–the times I had gone in the past year+–my heart rate had been high pretty much every time, but I would brush it off like I had rushed over there, even though I hadn’t. I didn’t want to deal with it. However, this recent time was something different.

We decided to monitor it the next few days to see where my heart rate goes in different situations: in class, at home, with friends, etc.

Let me tell you (if you don’t know) what the average heart rate should be: 50-70bpm for an adult resting heart rate is ideal, with some leeway.

That night, I checked my heart rate after I had showered and felt relaxed = 98bpm.
I walked to class the next morning, and when I got there: 158bpm. For walking.
I walk most places and it is roughly 125bpm. Again, for walking.
I rarely saw it dip below 90, and that was only when I was laying down (or sleeping. Shout out to my roommate for letting me borrow her Fitbit during this process so I can track and see the data).

So this became and even greater concern. When I went for my follow up on Friday, she decided to take a look at the history of my heart rate from my time at George Fox. She noticed that before I started any antidepressants, it sat at 75bpm. When I started trying my first antidepressant, it was at 88bpm. It grew from there.

She predicted that it was the medication that I had been taking for the last year and a half.

Just what I needed. My last semester, and I would have to suffer withdrawls from weening off the meds, then potentially horrible side-effects from trying another one to replace the current one. Finding one that worked the first time was hell, and I definitely did not want to be a psychotic, moody, angry, tremor-ing person during my final semester of college. If I didn’t switch meds, however, I would potentially keep putting myself at risk. I would have to “take it easy” during my classes. Either way, I lose.

However, I was told that the specific meds I was on were not typically as bad as other ones for withdrawl. I decided it is worth trying.

I went to see my primary care provider yesterday. They did and EKG and everything looked good, which was a concern of mine: that it was actually my heart. My family has a history of heart problems, so it was relieving to hear that things looked okay.

So now I am in the process of reducing the Welbutrin, and starting Lexapro (because Depression holds hands with its best friend, Anxiety). The goal is to reduce the Welbutrin to a low dose, with the Lexapro the same (except adding the dosage instead of reducing…). If I go back in two weeks and my heart rate hasn’t improved, I will have to go completely off the Welbutrin.

The stressors of this semester had already begun, but I guess the universe thought it wasn’t enough. It’s just one more bump in the road, though. Although it was beyond stressful to deal with this the first week back at school, I feel at peace now. I had remembered my last post about being thankful.
It prompted me to think of why I am thankful to have this heart of mine, even though it’s been acting up.
I am thankful for the two working legs I have, even if walking raises my heart rate a ridiculous amount.
I am thankful for the lungs I have, even though they feel constricted, dry, and make me cough when I exude myself too much.
I am thankful for body I have because it is the only one I get, and it’s functioning despite the few problems.

It’s important to not let yourself get wrapped up in the negatives, because you will drown. However, it’s an incredibly difficult task, but impossible. Just try to remember to not get wrapped up in it, even if you fee like you are; it helps to keep you afloat a little longer.



I know it has been about a week since I posted anything, but I have good reason.

I’ve done more personal journaling or “drafting.” What I have been writing about this week is something that I cannot share with the world yet. It’s something I haven’t really shared with anyone (I’ve only ever told two people). No one in my family knows, and my best friend doesn’t even know. But it’s something I had to finally dig up this week and stop choking it out of existence. Because it did happen.

I just sat and wrote well over 1000 words on what happened…and there is still so much more that I could say. I have never written about it before. I have kept all of the details and emotions that came with it, and its lasting effects without a word to anyone, or even paper.

There are things in my life that don’t just involve me and my secrets; there are some serious things that other people did that really effected me. But it’s not my place to say. It’s more of their secret than mine. There have been many people close to me that have really hurt me because I was involved. I can’t write to the world because then they would be exposed. But this blog isn’t about pointing the finger and saying what everyone did wrong; it’s about my journey to recovery, trying to sort out everything in my life.

I’m a lawn of emotion

One of my biggest struggles is crying.

I don’t like showing emotion because I feel like emotion is weakness. I’m still not sure where this exactly stemmed from, but that’s just how I’ve lived for a long time. Why do we see it as a negative thing? Because I know I’m not the only one who views it as that.

We don’t like feeling vulnerable. I especially don’t. I’ve gotten so good at stuffing down my tears over the years that when I finally give in and let myself, I have a panic attack because my body doesn’t know what’s happening.

So yeah. It’s been difficult to view crying as a form of release and relief. Maybe if I try to see it in my two selves, I can organize it better (I’m a mental processor…I have to organize everything before I do anything. This can be both a good or bad thing).

I see my two selves in two different layers. Have you ever seen those diagrams or pictures of grass and dirt?

Well that’s what I mean, in case you didn’t.

My real self is the dirt; it has the most substance and grounding in who I am. My ideal self is the grass; it lays nicely on top and can grow depending on its environment. The roots grow down, sometimes choking the dirt, fighting it to stay hidden underneath of it. The grass has to be full and thick to show that its thriving and mighty.


The grass is actually that fake grass you can unroll unto your lawn. It can be unearthed easily if not left for a long time, but it has been. It’s actually started to plant more roots. That’s why this process of stripping my ideal self away is so difficult.

I need to start mowing my yard, for starters.

And then mow it again.

And probably again.

Then maybe I’ll take a shovel to it.