My Story Part 8

This is a continuation, part 8, of my daily journal of life after outpatient treatment for depression, and anxiety. Please click for Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

Part 8, Day 1:

I’ve been so tired lately. I have a feeling this job is starting to take its toll on me. Working overnights and sleeping during the day is harder than I thought it would be. My new puppy has been driving me crazy lately. She won’t listen to me at all! It’s very frustrating and on top of being tired all of the time my patience is at an all time low. I need a break.

Day 6:

I’m nervous about this upcoming vacation/wedding. Things are tense with this side of the family, so it could be an interesting trip. The BF and I are killing two birds with one stone by going camping instead of staying at the hotel. It gives us a little  more room, more privacy, and this way I get to bring the new puppy with. Hopefully there is no bloodshed at the wedding and everyone is on their best behavior

Day 12:

The wedding/camping trip went very well. My cousin (the one who got married) and I had an interesting heart-to-heart and he told me that he only wants me to be happy. Of course, he and I were more than a little drunk when this occurred. I spent most of the reception getting drunk but had a lot of fun. I caught the bouquet, but I’m definitely not the next person getting married. That would be my other cousin. Unfortunately, I can’t go to his wedding because I have to work. I’ll be working 10 days in a row now because of this vacation and my next trip. This could be interesting.

Day 18:

I’m heading to my grandparents’ house this week. They live on a lake and I love it up there. It is so peaceful. Plus, being born a Pisces, I love the water. It’ll be fun spending the ‘weekend’ during the work week with my boyfriend in a place that I love. I am a little worried because sometimes I get cornered and have to discuss (or receive someone’s opinion) about a topic I would rather not talk about, but all in all it should be nice. When we get back, I’m going to help my best friend with his fundraiser and meet his new girlfriend. I’m a little worried about that, but then again, I worry a lot anyway.

Day 23:

The trip was amazing although the weather did not cooperate. We (the BF and I), ended up going to a couple of wineries because the weather was bad. This brings our total to 15 wineries in 3 months!! Good thing it’s something we like to do! We had nicer weather on the last full day before we left. We spent the day on the beach. My puppy wasn’t very happy because I wouldn’t let her out of her crate, but she had just gotten spayed and I didn’t want to risk infection. When we go up in 2 weeks, I’ll let her out and see what she does in the water. I have a feeling she’ll love it as much as I do!

The fundraiser was an interesting day. He ended up not needing my help which made me feel useless and unwanted. Plus, it seemed like I was ignored by everyone there like I was the plague. I felt like a social pariah. I met his new girlfriend and she seems nice, but I don’t think she likes me very much. Of course my BF says ‘you only said two words to her!’ but some things you can just feel. I hope this doesn’t cause problems between me and my best friend!

Please stay tuned for Part 8. Here are the links for Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

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100th Post

This is my 100th post.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog. While this blog is therapy for me, it is also written to inform and educate others regarding mental illness. Without you, this blog wouldn’t have a purpose.

Secondly, I would like to give some background on where I was when this blog was started versus where I am now. When I first started this blog, I was freshly graduated from outpatient treatment. I was writing not only as therapy, but because I was inspired. I wanted to inform and educate others. I wanted to share my personal experiences and take the stigma away from mental illness. And while there was some rockiness in regards to this blog (my two year absence), I have come so much further. I have learned so much and made great strides in my personal life.

While I should never have stopped writing, it was a necessary break for me. I need the time to separate from the friend who started the blog with me. The friend who walked away.

I hope to continue writing and educating others on this blog as I continue my own journey through depression and anxiety. I hope this blog has helped you and I continue to encourage you in your own journey with mental illness. I know it’s a difficult path, however you can make it through. Know that I am here for you and I am rooting for you just as I hope you are rooting for me.

Please note that for the future, because of time restraints I will be posting only once a week.

The Trouble with Psychiatrists & Doctors

Until my stint in outpatient treatment, I had my fair share of struggles with psychiatrists. I often felt like they weren’t listening to what I was saying. And out of the 3 that I had seen, the 5 different medications they had prescribed hadn’t worked.

With the initial psychiatrists I had seen, I felt ignored. You walked in for a 15 minute session, perhaps a 30 minute initial session and you talk to them. They ask you how you feel, and you give them some background history on your mental illness. At the end of that 15 minutes, they either up your dose, change your medication or tell you to continue taking it. This often frustrated me, because I would be told to continue taking something that I felt wasn’t working.

I’ll admit that a psychiatrist’s job isn’t easy. There are no tests that they can perform to find out exactly what medication you need to take for your illness. It’s all guess work based on what you tell them; trying to figure out which receptors in your brain are working overtime or are not working at all. But it’s still frustrating trying different types of medications and having them not work or getting viciously sick on them because of the way they are interacting with your body.

My previous therapist had heard so many complaints about psychiatrists and medication that she decided to go back to school to become an APN, or nurse practitioner. She felt that because she saw her clients weekly, it would be easier for her to prescribe a medication that would work for them. I think this is admirable because at the age of 50, she is going back to school and getting her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate to become a nurse practitioner.

Now that I’ve finally found a medication that works, I feel better. I’m not so down anymore. I’m glad I followed my doctor’s directives at the outpatient center and I’m glad that I’ve found someone who listens to me.

If you don’t feel like your doctor is listening to you or if a treatment plan isn’t working, speak up. Try and explain to them how you feel or, look for another doctor. You’re allowed to see other doctors. Find a fit that works for you and will provide the best treatment so that you can recover. Be proactive, it’s your health that’s at risk.

What’s In A Name?

When you are first diagnosed with a mental illness, it can be very confusing regarding the number of people you are going to meet on your journey to better health. All of these people are here to help you, but what exactly are the psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists doing to help you? Here is a short guide on the difference between all the medical professionals you will meet when you are diagnosed with a mental illness.

A psychotherapist is an umbrella term for any professional trained to treat people for their emotional issues. A psychotherapist can be a psychologist, social worker, counselor, or psychiatrist.

A psychologist is an expert in the field of psychology which is the “science of the mind or of mental states and process”. Psychologists have to attend graduate school and obtain their doctoral degree, a PhD or PsyD. The difference between a PhD and PsyD, is that PsyD psychologists are trained specifically for clinical work, while PhD often focus on research. Psychologists often have to complete years of internships to gain further training and experience. They also must be licensed by their state boards of psychology. Psychologists are not medical doctors and can not prescribe medication. Psychologists are licensed to do counseling, psychotherapy, and provide treatment for mental disorders.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness via medication. A psychiatrist usually has 4 years of medical school, followed by an internship and residency. They have a M.D. A psychiatrist can write prescriptions for medication. Psychiatrists must be licensed as a medical doctor in their state of residency. They must also pass the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Psychiatry Certification Examination. Many psychiatrists have a special focus such as major depressive disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They will often work together with a psychologist to provide treatment for mental illness.

A therapist is a person trained in psychological methods to help patients. Therapists can be psychoanalysts, marriage counselors, social workers and life coaches among others. A therapist provides support and guidance and helps patients make decisions and clarify feelings to solve problems. Selecting a therapist is a personal experience. You should always feel comfortable and welcomed by your therapist, but also consider their licensing and professional credentials. It may take time to find the right therapist for you, so feel free to shop around for the right fit.

A licensed mental health counselor has at least a master’s degree in psychology or counseling. They are focused solely on providing therapy to individuals, families or couples. The mental health counselor has to have 2 years of additional experience working with a mental health professional after graduate school in order to be licensed. They are qualified to evaluate and treat mental health problems, with much of the emphasis on working with problems of normal living rather than mental illness.

A clinical social worker has at least a master’s degree in social work and very specialized training. Social workers provide case management and hospital discharge planning. They can also act as an advocate for the patients. Some social workers also practice psychotherapy. There are many different types of licensure depending on the state in which they are licensed.

Psychiatric or mental health nurses have specialized training in providing mental health services. They often work with the doctors to form an individualized therapy and medication program for their patients. Some nurses can prescribe and monitor medications depending on the states where they practice.

Here is a quick cheat sheet for clarification:

Psychologist Therapists Psychiatrist
  • Advanced degree in psychology
  • Does research or therapy
  • Diagnose disorders or problems with patients
  • Determine appropriate treatments
  • Work in tandem with psychiatrist
  • Help patients make decisions & clarify feelings
  • Provide support & guidance
  • Includes psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, life coaches & social workers
  • Any number of degrees or certifications
  • Help patients make decisions & clarify feelings
  • Provide support & guidance
  • Medical degree
  • Does research or therapy
  • Diagnose disorders or problems with patients
  • Determine appropriate treatments
  • Work in tandem with psychologist
  • Prescribes medication
  • Help patients make decisions & clarify feelings
  • Provide support & guidance

 

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/psychology-vs-psychiatry-which-is-better

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling

http://education-portal.com/articles/Psychologist_vs_Psychiatrist_Whats_the_Difference.html

http://www.allpsychologyschools.com/psychology-careers/article/differences-therapist-psychologist/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/couch-meets-world/201107/psychiatrist-psychotherapist-whos-who-in-mental-health

 

A Black and White World

Why do we view the world in black and white when there is so much beautiful grey?

This is a question I recently posed to myself. Oftentimes we look at things as good or bad, dangerous or safe, real or fake. Why do we have to put such black and white labels on things? Why can’t something just be; just exist?

There are times when the world can be seen as black and white, but most of the time the world is filled with grey and it’s that grey that we need to embrace. One suggestion is to attempt to rate  something on a 1-10 scale rather than call it good or bad. In this world, we have a need to neatly label something into a box and put it away. We can’t just let things be; there has to be reasoning or justification

I often find myself viewing my world in black and white. In fact, I find myself viewing my world in mostly black. I have a very negative outlook on my life and on things that happen in my life. When I get into a mood, everything becomes bad and I have a very hard time seeing the good or the positive. Even when my friends are pointing out the good in life, I’m knocking it down with something bad.

I don’t know why I view life that way. It’s a hard way to live your life, always being negative, but I don’t seem to know any other way. I need to learn to see the grey in life and maybe I’ll even start seeing the good. My life isn’t all good or all bad, in fact it’s mostly grey but I insist on treating it like it’s black. Hopefully I can one day get rid of this negative cognitive distortion.

Until then I just have to remember that we don’t have to pick sides. Life can be a little good and a little bad.

Rumination

Rumination is the continuous dwelling on issues in our past and difficulties and things that distress us in the present. It is becoming preoccupied with something and not being able to get it out of your mind. There is helpful and unhelpful rumination. The problem comes when you are focusing on what has gone wrong and this leads to negative thinking. Too much negative thinking can lead to depression and maintaining a depressive episode.

Rumination is normal because everyone dwells on their problems to a point. It’s when the circular thinking patterns that are rumination continue in overdrive, that it becomes a problem. Rumination is different than worry in than worry is future focused and often leads to anxiety. Rumination is past focused and leads to depression. Rumination is a learnt strategy for dealing with our problems however unhelpful rumination can lead to inactivity and avoidance of problem-solving.

Unhelpful rumination Helpful rumination
  • Ask my “why…?” questions
  • (Evaluative mode)
  • Why questions tend to focus on the problem, its causes and it consequences
  • “What did I do to deserve this?” & “Will my life ever get better?”
  • Is continuous
  • Asks more “How…?” questions
  • (Process-focused mode)
  • How questions tend to focus on solving problems
  • “How can I make my life better?”
  • Is time-limited. It stops when the problem is solved

One of the biggest strategies for unhelpful rumination is accepting the situation and being mindful in the present moment. Mindfulness is the most useful coping skill for dealing with depression and will be discussed in a future post.

There are many steps to stopping rumination. Some examples would be accepting your situation, being aware that you are ruminating, or distracting yourself. Please follow this link for a list on 11 Steps to Stop Ruminating.

Remember rumination can be helpful if it is time-limited and problem-solving. However, unhelpful rumination can cause and continue depression, so it is better to find ways to stop rumination if you want to continue your road of recovery.

http://jayuhdinger.com/chapters/chapter-3-practice-11-steps-to-stop-ruminating/

http://jayuhdinger.com/chapters/chapter-2-rumination-faulty-thinking/

Trust

I have a hard time trusting people. I’ve watched so many people walk away from me that it’s hard for me to trust that friends are going to stay in my life. I wonder if it’s something wrong with me that makes people walk away. As I’ve been told, there can’t be something wrong with the entire rest of the world, so it has to be me. There has to be something wrong with me. Too bad I can’t figure out what it is.

Maybe my standards are too high. I think that friends should be there for each other no matter what. I’ve answered the phone before at 3 o’clock in the morning because a friend needed me. Why can’t someone do that for me? I think that friends should stand by each other through thick and thin. I only have two friends that I can count on, and even then I’m hesitant to do so. A part of me thinks that if I push too hard, or make too many demands, they’ll walk away and then I’ll be left with no one.

Maybe, a part of me pushes at people because I don’t expect them to stay. It’s almost like I’m pushing them to see where their breaking point is. Because I expect them to leave, I push until they do. Unfortunately, I’m still disappointed and upset when they do. I’m not sure why I push at people. I wish I wouldn’t though. I would like to have more than 2 friends.

I wish I could trust people, but they haven’t given me any reason to believe that I can. In many ‘friendships’ I feel like I have to do all of the work. I’m the one reaching out to them and trying to plan things. That seems to be something that they don’t reciprocate, so what’s the point of trying when they won’t do the same for you? I wish I could believe that my friends wouldn’t walk away from me, but so many have left me that it’s impossible to believe that. I wish I could figure out what the problem is, then maybe I’d have friends.