Every little step counts

For those of you following me on my journey, thank you for sticking around. It feels amazing to have support. I’m working on putting together a mental health resources page so more people can benefit.

I saw my psychiatrist today for a monthly med check. As of today, I’m officially free of benzodiazepines after 8 years of use. The combination of life changes and coping skills has freed me from being dependent upon a drug that I didn’t think I would be able to function without.

The other major change in my life is that I’m pursuing interests that I never felt I had time for in the past. I’m taking a writing class, finally starting to write a book, and overall feel content. It’s amazing what time can do for healing.

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Words of wisdom

People always say they wish they could go back and tell their younger selves that everything will be okay. In her latest book, “I Regret Nothing,” Jen Lancaster (my writing hero) puts it best:

“Honestly, I’m glad I can’t go back in time and tell myself it will all be okay, because I’ve needed to experience every high and low from the past decade to be not only where I am, but who I am, today.”

Thanks for the inspiration I needed to go after my dreams.

Is it enough?

Everyone experiences anxiety and bouts of sadness. Some take it in stride and appear to be virtually unaffected by these experiences. In other cases, anxiety and depression can be debilitating. It also varies for the person–you can be more resilient during a particular set of circumstances, but something else will leave you unable to get off the floor. You may eventually pick yourself up, but sometimes you don’t. How do you know when what you’re doing to cope isn’t enough?

Maybe you’re seeing a therapist once every two weeks and checking in with a doctor to make sure your medication is working. Over time, you notice that you’re not doing as well as you’d like and your doctor increases the dose of your meds. Say this happens multiple times over the course of a month and your dose has increased six-fold. Despite the journaling, meditation, and benzodiazepines regularly sliding down your throat, you still want nothing more than to hide from the world. Maybe you even wish to die.

It’s pretty clear in this case that the treatment plan was not appropriate for the situation. If what you’re experiencing resembles this in any way or if you have any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call a crisis line. I will tell you firsthand that checking yourself into an inpatient facility is fucking terrifying, but it could save your life.

And you’re worth it.

New me

It has been just over 2 months since I was discharged from the hospital and started outpatient therapy with someone I’ve been able to truly connect with. Today, my therapist told me that I am a totally different person than I was in March. What is different about me? I care for and about myself.

I used to believe that we had to live up to the expectations of others. Everything I did was to get that pat on the back from someone whether it was a teacher, boss, or my parents. I lived in fear of disappointing others, and because of that, I was never content.

Guess what? How I feel matters to me now. Nobody else is going to take care of you so you better make damn sure that you’re doing the job. I’m not going to do something just because I think it is what everyone expects of me. I’m going to forge my own path and be proactive. I will do things that make me happy. I’ve been raw and exposed about the struggles I’ve dealt with and what I really want is for some good to come of it. Most of all, I want to help people that are going through the same thing believe this incredibly important fact–¬†You matter.

inspiration

You are a person of value

Depression and low self-esteem often occur simultaneously. Ever hear the phrase “depression lies”?¬†Depression tells you you’re stupid, not good enough, worthless. It tells you that who you are isn’t who you should be. You’re far more vulnerable to believing the lies of depression, and the cycle continues. The combination of low self-esteem and depression is absolutely shattering. Sometimes I look in the mirror and make a mental list of everything I don’t like about myself.

How can you take the skills you’ve developed and combat this faulty thinking?¬†

When you’re in the middle of a string of negative thoughts about yourself, write it down. Text or email it to yourself. Tell someone else about it. If it stays in your head, it’s only going to get bigger. Once depression’s lies are out loud or on paper, start challenging them. Come up with examples that negate each statement. Let your support people celebrate your strengths. Ask yourself whether those close to you would agree with your thoughts. Finally, embed it in your brain that what other people think *really* doesn’t matter. Just be you.

be who you are

Stop, Breathe & Think

This is an add-on to my post about meditation and mindfulness. Yesterday, I found a really great app called ‘Stop, Breathe & Think’ and it combines education and meditation. I would highly recommend this app for people who are just getting started with meditation. The educational guide includes how meditation works, the basics, and tips for practicing. The app also includes a short self-assessment that allows you to identify specific emotions, and makes recommendations for which guided meditation to use based on your results.

Bonus: the creator of the app recommends a website called Tools for Peace, which is a wealth of information. Go find peace.