My Story: Part 7

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

Part 7, Day 1,:

Vacation was amazing!! I lived in the moment and all of my stress and depression melted away. I felt so good on vacation. Of course, the minute I walked through my door at home, everything came crashing down onto my shoulders. So I guess I need to learn how to live like I’m on vacation. That’s easier said than done.

Day 5:

So I’ve decided to get a dog, or more specifically an emotional support animal. I’ve been putting it off lately, but I’ve finally decided that it’s now or never. I can’t keep waiting forever. I’m looking forward to having an emotional support animal. Hopefully it will help me with my depression.

On the flip side, learning to live like I’m on vacation is not an easy task. I’m struggling with it. I was so happy and living in the moment while on vacation and now that I’m home, everything is getting to me. I feel like I’m upset every other day. I wish my depression would get better. Hopefully a dog will help.

Day 12:

Today was a horrible day. I spent most of the day crying. First, I found out that the third dog that I was interested in was no longer available for adoption. Then, I found out that my best friend had changed his plans, making me feel like he had lied to me. Normally, we get lunch or dinner every Thursday, but today I feel like he is blowing me off. I feel like I’m not important or wanted.

All of which is a little ridiculous, because my boyfriend was hanging out with me today so it should have been a good day. At least he lets me use his shoulder to cry on. He even cried a little because I was so upset and he hates seeing me that way. He can be so cute. Of course, I cried when he left. I hate when he leaves. I know I’ll see him again, but I hate that we only get to see each other twice a week. I wish we could be together more.

Day 15:

It’s hard to stay angry at your best friend when he does nice things for you. I’ve been angry at him ever since I felt like he lied to me. But today, he might have found me a puppy and then he stopped by my work on his way home just to say hi. It was very nice of him and I made sure he knew that I appreciated it. It’s just been a struggle with him having a new girlfriend. I feel forgotten until he suddenly decides to do something to show me that I still exist in his life. I just wish those gestures weren’t so few and far between. That can make it difficult to remember.

Day 18:

I got the puppy!!! I was so nervous that my application was going to get turned down. I went and visited them yesterday, but they didn’t have any of the unadopted puppies in so I was told to come back tomorrow. Boy, was I surprised when she asked me if I wanted to take the puppy home with me that day. I wasn’t ready at all!! I had to ask my mom to puppy-sit so I could go get everything I need for her. I’m sure she’ll be a handful but it’ll be so nice having a dog to come home to. I can’t wait to train her!!!

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

Reprogramming Me: My Issues & My Struggles

According to the doctors, I have ingrained personality traits that are causing my depression. This means that I have learned certain ways of thinking and doing things that are actually part of the problem. This basically means that I have to learn how to reprogram my ways of thinking and my outlook on the world. Here are a couple of things they believe I need to work on:

  1. Mindfulness
    1. I’m not very mindful. I’m constantly reviewing the past or worrying about the future, so I have a very hard time being present. I need to learn to stay in the moment and be mindful, to pay attention to what is going on around me and to what I am doing in the moment.
  2. Quick Fix
    1. I want a quick fix to everything. I don’t want to have to struggle for answers or solutions to problems, I just want them fixed immediately.
  3. Catastrophize
    1. This is one of a couple cognitive distortions that I have. I tend to view situations in the worst possible light and look for the worst possible situation to occur. You can read about Cognitive Distortions here.
  4. Avoidance and Fixations
    1. I tend to avoid situations that I don’t want to deal with and fixate on things I shouldn’t.
  5. Negative outlook and worst case scenario
    1. I tend to have a negative outlook on life and believe that the worst possible scenario will occur.
  6. Expectation for things to go my way, or the way I plan.
    1. I have an expectation for things to go the way I plan and for everything to work out exactly as I specify. This is often not the case, and I can get extremely upset when the plans I have made go awry.
  7. Fixation on connection.
    1. Because of a lack of friendships, I have a fixation on connection. I yearn to connect with people and make friends. Oftentimes this connection causes me more harm because I form connections quickly and often believe I have a close friendship with someone who may only consider me as a passing friend.
  8. I also need to explore why group social settings are so uncomfortable
    1. Despite my need for connection, I have a hard time thriving in a group social setting. I need to explore why this is the case. I yearn for connection, but feel uncomfortable in group settings. Why?

I also have issues with my primary support group (my family) which I have discussed here and problems related to social environment which I will be discussing in a later post.

Some of the ways the doctors and therapists have suggested that I work on these issues is by focusing on and accepting myself. I’m holding onto ideals and an old relationship with myself that is only hurting me now. By focusing on myself, something I’m not very good at, I can form a new relationship and connection with myself that will make me a stronger person, and help me fight depression

All of these problems are works in progress and I will continue to update you on my progress in my journey to mental healthiness.

Forgotten

I often feel forgotten; by my friends, family, even acquaintances out in public. It’s almost like I fade into the background of life. Perhaps because of this, I long to be a priority to someone. I long to be important because I rarely feel that way.

As you know, I have my best friend and my boyfriend. They are my two biggest supporters and I rarely feel forgotten when I’m with them. Recently, my best friend just got a girlfriend and while I’m happy for him, I’m desperately scared that I’m going to be forgotten. Based on past personal experience, I’m usually forgotten about when a ‘friend’ finds a new significant other, so because of this I’m afraid I’m going to lose my best friend.

Only having two good friends, I long to make more and am scared of losing the ones that I have. They are very important to me and because of them, I feel stronger in my fight against my depression.

In a world where people just don’t pay attention, I don’t want to be one of those people lost in the crowd. I want to stand out but so often I feel like I just fade into the background, like I’m just another face in the crowd. Feeling like you’ve been forgotten is one of the worst feelings in the world because being forgotten leads to loneliness.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I have depression. I have been forgotten and ignored by so many people whom I once called ‘friends’. Maybe someday I won’t be one of the forgotten. Until then, I will continue to do what I can to stand out in a crowd. I will continue to fight against my disease and against the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Hopefully, my voice, my fight, and my non-profit will one day be heard. Maybe then, I will no longer be forgotten.

My Story: Part 6

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

Part 6, Day 1:

I feel like my life is a rollercoaster. Somedays I feel good and other days, the IBSC is out in full force. I hate the IBSC so much. It messes with my mind. It makes me think things that aren’t ‘normal’. It makes me hate myself and my life. It makes me feel unwanted, unimportant, and unloved. The IBSC whispers in my ear telling me that I’m not a priority and making me wonder why anyone would  want me around. And unfortunately, my life experience agrees with the IBSC. Experience has taught me that most people don’t want to be friends with me; that for some reason, I fade into the background of their lives and am forgotten.

My BFF just found himself a girlfriend, and while I’m thrilled for him, I’m also scared for me. Am I about to lose my best friend? Because that is what experience has taught me will happen. I get dropped like a hot potato when something or someone else comes along. What happens if she doesn’t want him to be friends with me? And I know that this might not even be an issue, but my mind is constantly thinking the ‘what ifs’ of every situation. I’m just scared that I’m going to lose my best friend and then I’ll only have one person left. I’m so lonely lately.

Day 7:

I’ve been in a funk lately. Yesterday was a bad day. After my boyfriend left, I just sat on the couch and cried. I was so lonely and alone. Getting on Facebook and seeing everyone else having fun doesn’t help and I realized that I don’t have anything fun to post on Facebook.

I’m so frustrated with my life. I have 2 friends who I rarely get to see. I never have any fun and that’s all that I want. I want to have fun hanging out with my friends. Instead, I get to watch everyone else have fun, while I’m alone.

When I first started working nights, it was a huge change but now I’m grateful for it because my schedule is backwards. I’m usually asleep when everyone is out having fun so I don’t feel so alone, but now that I’ve adjusted, that feeling is starting to return. Forgotten, lonely, worthless.

I feel like I’m not worth people’s time or attention. I feel like there’s something wrong with me and that’s why I don’t have friends. I wish there was something wrong with me because then I could fix it and everything would get better.

Maybe the medication isn’t working anymore.

Day 11:

I’m excited and nervous because I’m going on vacation. Why would I be nervous about vacation? It’s the first time that I’m going on vacation having planned and paid for it myself. It’s actually my BF’s birthday present and I hope he enjoys it, I’m just nervous because it’s my first time saving up money and spending it on something that could be considered  frivolous. But I’m also excited to go on vacation with my BF. I could really use a break after the move and a weekend/weekday getaway (called such because we’re actually going during the week), will be perfect. Hopefully I will relax!

On the depression front, I’m still struggling. It’s better when I’m busy and don’t have as much time to think, which will make relaxing interesting. I think I’m going to see my doctor when I get back. I’m not sure if I need a higher dose of the medication or if something else could be the problem. Guess I should probably figure that out!!

Please stay tuned for Week 7. Here are the links for Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4 and Week 5.

Perceptions

I once sat in on a communications college level class where the teacher said that when you communicate with someone, there are actually 6 ‘people’ involved in the conversation. There is you, the other person, how you perceive the other person, how they perceive you, how you perceive that they perceive you and how they perceive how you perceive you. That’s a lot going on in one conversation, but perceptions are a huge part of communication. How we perceive ourselves and others can color our views of ourselves, others and how we communicate.

Our perceptions are often not based on reality. What we perceive is often based upon our own personal realities and not based on fact. Our perceptions are colored by our experiences, feelings and beliefs, none of which are the exactly the same as another person’s. Perception is defined as ‘the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding’. Perception is a cognitive act and can therefore be distorted. Cognitive Distortions are thoughts that cause reality to be inaccurately perceived. Please see the article “Cognitive Distortions.”

Perceptions can cause problems because oftentimes one person will perceive something one way while another person may perceive it in another way. This can cause complications and confusion especially when the two people are not actively communicating with each other. Active communication can clear up any issues caused by misperception. By making sure that your perceptions are communicated clearly, and by understanding other people’s perceptions, you can have a better understanding of the world and environment around you.

Perceptions are a fact of life. Everyone is going to perceive ideas, beliefs and actions in different manners based on their experiences. Just because their perception is different from yours, doesn’t mean that either perception is wrong. The world is full of perceptions and beliefs that help us view and understand our worlds. Perceptions are not good or bad, black or white. They are what they are and it is helpful to understand that to better communicate with the world.

 

The Definition of Success

Success is defined as the accomplishment of one’s goals or a person or thing that achieves desired aims. In this definition, it doesn’t matter what your goals or aims are, you are deemed successful as long as you complete them. The goals could be short term like finishing a book or long term, like going back to school, however you are only successful if you complete these goals.

Our goals change as we grow and change. I know that I started off with one life plan only to be heading in a totally different direction once my depression hit. And while, I’ll admit that I like this plan better than the old one, I’ve discovered that my life rarely ever goes as planned. I find that even my daily plans change constantly which can be frustrating for someone who is searching for stability.

I don’t feel successful. Honestly, I feel like a total failure. I feel like I’ve let down so many people in my life because I don’t have a college degree and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get one any time soon. There are days when I feel successful because I am independent and live on my own, but because I don’t have a degree or a decent job, I feel like my family looks down on me with disapproval and disdain.

I want to be successful and I need to stop looking for approval from other people. I only need approval from myself. Do I approve of what is going on in my life? The answer is I’m not sure. I feel like I’m headed in the right direction with my dream of starting ADAPT, but I’ve had enough plans go awry to know that it might not happen the way I plan.

Do I feel successful now? No. In fact, I mostly feel like a failure, but will I continue to strive for success? Yes. I have to. There is a part of me that is constantly climbing that ladder to success and maybe someday, I’ll be able to look back on my life and say that I’m successful. I know I need to look at my life now, and say that I am a success. I am still alive, I am still fighting and I have new goals to accomplishment. I am successful because I am alive despite a disease that kills so many, but I don’t feel successful. Hopefully one day, I will.

 

I Feel

I feel forgotten and ignored, like the whole world has forgotten or no longer cares that I exist, that I have wants and needs that I would like fulfilled. Forgotten that I’m a real person with feelings and emotions. Ignored like I’m not important enough for their attention, like I don’t deserve their time.

I feel lonely and alone like I’m on the outside looking in. I’m watching the rest of the world hanging out and having fun, while I’m stuck by myself. No one wants to hang out with me or be my friend and I can’t figure out why. I’m like that little kid watching everyone on the playground having fun while I stand off to the side, never invited to play.

I feel lost, like I can’t find my way. I can’t figure out how to get out of this funk that I’m in. I can’t find my way out of my depression. I have tools to deal with the depression but they don’t seem to be working when I’m down. Lost in my own life, trying to find my way, trying to find the next step and failing.

I feel worthless and unwanted, like no one cares what happens to me. I feel like no one wants to be around me and I don’t know if it is my depression they don’t want to be around or if it’s actually me. I feel like if it’s my fault, then I can fix it but nothing I seem to do works. I feel like I’m not worth people’s time or attention. I feel like there’s something wrong with me and that’s why I don’t have friends. I wish there was something wrong with me because then I could fix it and everything would get better.

This is how I feel when I’m depressed.

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 5

This is a continuation, part 5, of my daily journal of life after outpatient treatment for depression, anxiety and avoidant personality disorder. Please click for Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4.

Part 5, Day 1:

I’m starting to get really frustrated with this apartment search. I think being on medication has helped because I’m not as low as I could be, but I’m still not feeling very good. Half of the landlords won’t answer their phones or call me back and the other half don’t accept animals. I know I could submit my application for my ESA, but I really don’t want to have to fight my landlord for my rights as a tenant. This whole thing situation is a giant headache. Lately, all I want to do is sleep so I don’t have to face the problems that are in my life right now.

Day 3:

I found an apartment today. It happened totally out of the blue. I got a message from someone on facebook, I went and looked at it with my bf and ended up accepting it an hour later! My bf, the eternal optimist, is really excited about helping me move and I’m surprised he has refrained from saying “I told you so”. He was very optimistic that I would find a place before I had to move. I guess he was right. They even accept pets with an extra deposit. I’m actually starting to get excited. Initially I was just worried and nervous, but now, I’m honestly excited about starting over in a new apartment. Hopefully this is the next step toward happiness for me.

[Update 6/27] We actually talked about his lack of saying “I told you so”. He was amused that I had written about it in my journal entry.

Day 17:

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a journal entry. I’ve been very busy with packing, moving and cleaning. Now starts the unpacking portion of my move. I’m a little overwhelmed by all of the things I have, but a part of me doesn’t know how to downgrade. I’m a little bit of a packrat so it can take quite a bit for me to get rid of something. I’m actually very proud of myself, I’ve already gotten rid of two giant boxes and a couple pieces of furniture. It’s a good start, and hopefully I can get rid of more as I unpack.

I’ve been feeling better now that I’m back on the medication, unfortunately I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately and that is starting to take it’s toll. I’m a little more irritable and easily upset. It’s frustrating because I know that if I could get more sleep, I’d be feeling a lot better. Hopefully sleep will get better as I unpack and have less stress regarding the move. 

Please stay tuned for Week 6. Here are the links for Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4.

How to Deal With Being Mentally Ill Part II

So you’ve just been diagnosed with a mental illness. You’re scared, you don’t know what to do and you don’t know what other people are going to think of you now. You feel like you’ve been labeled and this label only makes you feel worse. Don’t worry, I’m here to help. Here are some things you should know.

I’d like to first describe depression for you. Depression is like your high school bully. Except, unlike that bully who is taking stabs in the dark trying to find what to say to hurt you the most, the depression is in our mind and knows exactly what to say. It pulls out everything we don’t like or that we think is not good enough about ourselves and shouts it at us just like that high school bully would. The depression knows exactly which nerve to strike. And while you can walk away from your high school bully, you can’t walk away from your mind and the depression that preys on it.

So you’re probably going to need medication and therapy. This doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, this makes you a better person. You are doing what you need to do to be healthy. Medication will help fix the chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s necessary just like the treatment needed for cancer and you shouldn’t be ashamed to have a little help. This fight is just as important as fighting cancer, or any other sickness.

Your next step would be to find a therapist. Make sure you find someone that you like and whom you feel comfortable talking to. They are there to help you. Don’t be ashamed of asking for a little help. These are trained professionals who deal with mental illness on a daily basis. They want to help you and they want to help you help yourself. Learn what works best for you. Everyone’s struggle is different. You’ll have to learn of your triggers and warning signs and figure out what coping skills work best for you.

Mental illness isn’t easy. It is a disease of the mind. It is something you might have to work against for the rest of your life, but you are not alone. I urge you to seek out groups in your area for people with mental illness. Depression often makes you feel isolated, so hearing of other people’s struggles will remind you that you are not alone.

And I am here for you. If you need to talk, please don’t hesitate to message me. I understand the struggle you’re facing and how much of an upward battle it can seem like. I am facing it myself, every day. Just remember, you are not alone and you can do this. Win your fight!

 

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 4

Week 4, Day 1

I’ve been feeling really down lately. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m off of the medication or if there is something else that is bothering me lately. I can definitely say that lack of sleep is not helping the situation. But I wanted to write today to share some good news!!

I gave my second speech today, again at another local church and it went very well. I had an even higher turnout than I did for my first speech and I got a lot of good questions from my audience. I’ve been considering starting a ‘group therapy’ class where it’s one part moral support and one part teaching about coping skills. I brought this idea up to a couple of people from my audience after the talk and they were highly interested. The pastor even suggested that I keep their church in mind for a location if I need one.

I’m getting such a good response from people about mental illnesses and mental health awareness. It makes me very excited for the future of my nonprofit and the future of our world. The stigmas will always exist, but if I can lessen people’s beliefs in them and teach people that mental illness is nothing to be afraid of, maybe I can help make this world a better place!!

Day 3

I’m definitely going to be talking to my therapist and my doctor about possibly going back on medication. Something was obviously working because I’ve been down ever since I went off of my medications. I don’t like feeling this way and nothing that I’m doing mentally seems to be working. I hate the idea that I need to rely on medication to feel better, but I guess it’s better than feeling the way I have been feeling lately.

I guess we just need to figure out if I can take one of the medications or if it was the combination that was working for me. This can be so frustrating but if I can find out which one works, I’ll hopefully feel better.

Day 6

Well, I’m back on medication and it’s a good thing because I just found out that my landlords are refusing to renew my lease. I have 30 days to find a new apartment and move. I’m already starting to freak out. This means finding a new apartment and moving all in less than a month. I’m hoping I can find an apartment that accepts pets, that way I don’t have to fight my landlord regarding my emotional support animal or ESA. I have a feeling this is why I’m not getting my lease renewed, because my current landlords don’t want an animal in the building. They’re using some other excuse however, because it would be illegal for them to deny my request….

Hopefully finding a new apartment won’t be too much of a struggle.