Asking for Help is HARD

As far back as I can remember, I see symptoms of mental illness.

I have had varying diagnosis from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to borderline personality disorder (BPD) and ore. The diagnoses are not as important to me now as they use to be. I don’t define myself by them anymore. Asking for help when I need it, regardless of the symptoms I’m facing at the time, is what I focus on today.

Asking for help has always been difficult for me, starting from a young age. I grew up in a great home, I have loving parents and an amazing sister. I had every opportunity and was given anything I could ever want. So why was I depressed? I did not understand that here didn’t need to be a triggering event or traumatic history in order to have a mental illness. I didn’t understand that it could happen to anyone, even me. I didn’t ask for help because I couldn’t face the “cheer up, your life is perfect” comments that would come from my peers and family. Instead, I struggled through school, engaging in extremely self-destructive behaviors with only a select few friends having an idea of what was going on.

Although I was struggling on the inside, I tried not to let it affect my outward appearance. I went off to college, as I had always planned, to become a social worker. These were some of the best and worst hears of my life. I got good grades and made amazing friends but I was struggling silently. I continued having the attitude that I needed to deal with my issues on my own, and that asking for help would show weakness. After graduating it became even harder as I began working at mental health agencies and having clients with significant trauma history. I compared my life to theirs and convinced myself that my problems were not worth talking about. I turned to self-harm behaviors and self-medicating in order to get through day-to-day life. This led me down a long road of what I can only describe as emotional turmoil. Eventually, it had to come crashing down.

The first time I really asked for help, I was terrified. I didn’t want to deal with the stigma around mental illness. I didn’t want to deal with the judgment I’d face as an addict. I didn’t want to let my family and friends down. Facing my fears and engaging in treatment was the best thing I ever could have done for myself. I realized my brain doesn’t produce enough of the ‘happy’ chemicals. I realized I have a hard time regulating my emotions and that those emotions can lead to rapid mood swings. I realized all of this is okay. I realized there are healthier ways to cope and that, with help from others, I could get better.

Asking for help is never an easy task, but today it is doable. Although I will most likely deal with mental illness for the rest of my life, I can see a brighter future for myself than I ever could before. A few years ago, I never thought that I could experience happiness. With the way y life was going, I never thought I’d live past 25 years old. I can only imagine what my life would have been like if I got help sooner. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of; neither is asking for help.

In My Skin: Kate Holden

I spend a very significant amount of time reading and learning. It has always been a passion of mine and I’ve decided that I want to incorporate it into my blog in some way. I am going to call these book reviews but they are mainly going to be made up of my thoughts and opinions on what I read and how I relate to them. The books I write about will focus on mental health and/or addiction in some way including memoirs, self-help books and educational resources. I am going to be doing about one of these per week!

I recently finished Kate Holden’s In My Skin for the second time. I didn’t realize until after I bought the book that I had read it previously when I was fresh out of rehab. I actually like to read books multiple times through because I always pick up on and learn new things.

Kate’s journey with addiction is very similar to mine. Like Kate, I had what people may call a ‘picture-perfect childhood’. Supportive parents, a great sister, ideal neighborhood and given every possible opportunity I could imagine. But addiction doesn’t discriminate. Kate began using heroin with her boyfriend occasionally while still holding a job and studying. It doesn’t take long for using only on the weekends to turn into a few times a week and then eventually to every single day. After stealing money from her place of employment Kate was fired and eventually resorted to prostitution to fund her habit. I could relate wholeheartedly to every stage of Kate’s experience. I know what it’s like to lie, cheat and steal in order to fund a habit. I appreciate Kate’s honesty about what heroin addiction is really like as well as being a sex worker.

Kate attempted to get clean multiple times and her parents were always there to help and support her in whatever way they could. Incorporating Kate’s parents struggle with boundaries and enabling made this book stand out for me. Families of addicts struggle to understand the disease of addiction and are often torn about how and when to help. I would recommend this book not only to those struggling with addiction themselves but also parents and families. Reading about Kate’s struggles and triumphs and her overall experience gave me hope.

Kate attempted to get clean multiple times and her parents were always there to help and support her in whatever way they could. Incorporating Kate’s parents struggle with boundaries and enabling made this book stand out for me. Families of addicts struggle to understand the disease of addiction and are often torn about how and when to help. I would recommend this book not only to those struggling with addiction themselves but also parents and families. Reading about Kate’s struggles and triumphs and her overall experience gave me hope.

This book was a bit triggering for me due to trauma I have from my own experience with prostitution and drug use but I still enjoyed it and am glad I read it again. Reading about someone’s experience that paralleled mine so much made me feel less alone.

Therapy

As I mentioned in my weekly wrap up on Sunday, I’m starting therapy again this week. Since I went to rehab in 2016 I have been to many different therapists and participated in multiple intensive outpatient programs (mainly, DBT). I have not been in counseling though for almost a year. I have tried to see a couple different people but I didn’t stick with it because I always felt such negative energy when I was working with these therapists. It’s important for me to be able to have some sort of connection with someone in order to open up and be vulnerable.

I am anxious to start therapy again for a few reasons. Starting completely new with someone means I need to explain my life. I know it’s necessary in order for the therapist to understand me and help but I always leave initial sessions feeling like crap. This often leads to me not wanting to go back, even though I know it will be beneficial. I need to remember that feeling down in therapy is part of the process.

I am also a bit anxious because the therapist I am going to be working with is a man. I have a lot of trauma history and have a very hard time being around men alone (besides my partner and father) let alone opening up to them about my life. I have been able to email back and forth and talk to my new therapist on the phone so I feel a little better than if I were to just walk in without any prior communication.

Sometimes I feel like therapy is pointless. I have tried and failed so many times and never seem to feel any better. I work in the mental health field so I know that therapy works in conjunction with medication and that it is definitely necessary for me in order to process trauma but I am still skeptical.

Weekly Wrap Up – February 17, 2019

Back to work this week after having a week off to visit my partner’s family. As much as I get burnt out at work, I do better when I have a schedule/routine to follow.

I had an appointment this week with a new psychologist that I ended up having to reschedule due to a work conflict. I was really looking forward to it and was actually ready. If I don’t do things when I originally want/plan to I often end up canceling or just not showing up. I work myself up and get way too anxious over this kind of thing. So waiting an extra week to see this therapist is stressing me out.

I think part of my anxiety around the whole therapy situation stems from the fact that I’ve had to switch therapists three times and psychiatrists four times in the last couple years. I have such a hard time opening up to and trusting people so having to start all over again gets beyond frustrating. Another huge deal for me is that this new therapist is a man. That may sound silly but I have some significant trauma and tend to only see female providers. This guy specializes in personality disorders and trauma so I think it will be worth it.

I am contemplating coming up with some sort of list of what my issues are and questions I have before I go so I don’t just answer ‘I’m fine’ to everything. I am really looking to see what he thinks I should be taking for medication and what is actually wrong with me. I will make sure to update everyone Thursday on how it went!

I hope every single one of you have a great week!

Weekly Wrap Up – February 08, 2019

“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn’t one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.”

-Marya Hornbacher, Wasted

What a long week! My boyfriend and I spent three days back and forth to the bank and a used car dealership in order to get him a new work truck. I swear if something can go wrong for me, it will. We bought the truck about two hours from our house and it drove GREAT all the way home. The next morning all these dash lights were flashing and the truck had no power. We took it to a dealer close by to look at and they said it needed $2500 worth of work after we just dropped 12k the day before. UGHHHHHH of course. Then as we are leaving the dealership of course a rock smashes the brand new windshield (yes, that’s the type of luck I have). Now imagine a girl with borderline and bipolar 2 and her short tempered boyfriend trying to stay calm during all of this. What an ordeal!

So we’ve been dealing with what to do about the truck and replacing a window in my car that randomly broke in the cold last week. Hopefully it all gets sorted out soon. Yesterday I attended my cousins funeral who died by suicide last week. This was one of the hardest funerals I’ve been and my heart still hurts. I was very anxious going to the funeral because I have a very hard time in crowds and I knew it would be packed. One of my close friends died by suicide at the same age my sophomore year of college as well so I knew there would be emotions and memories surfacing. I am glad I made it though as I saw a lot of family I haven’t seen in a while. I am really going to focus this year on reaching out to my cousins more instead of only seeing each other at funerals. We need more positivity.

I took a few days off from work this week as yesterday was my boyfriends 30th birthday and we are spending the weekend in Connecticut with his family. Another HUGE trigger for me. I love him and his family so much but I am comfortable at home with my dog (and that’s about it). Plus I have track marks and scars all over me from back when I was using and self-harming and I get self conscious around people I don’t see regularly. I am going to try to relax and have a nice weekend though.

I’ve decided to start adding a weekly summary type of post like this one to my blog. Just the highlights and struggles of my week I guess. Plus one of my favorite quotes I’ve read that week! The one above is from Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. I reread this book for the fifth time (at least) this week. I Love Marya and have read all her books. Madness is my other favorite, I definitely recommend.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Drowning

I am writing to write today. I don’t have a specific topic on my mind but a lot has happened this week that I’d like to reflect on. I have been feeling very down recently for no specific reason but I guess depression can take a toll. You wouldn’t think that staying at home isolating myself from the entire world would be exhausting, but it totally is. I have been managing to get myself to work when I’m scheduled but I am not all that productive while there. I feel like I was at least managing up until Sunday.

Sunday morning my 21 year old cousin committed suicide. I think I was in absolute shock at first because of how much I did not expect this. All I could think of was how he always looked so happy, how much potential he had and all of the great things I knew he would have accomplished in life. I have lost people to suicide in the past and I work in the mental health field so I have been through this but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it.

It wasn’t until I was listening to a podcast about feeling lonely while also being surrounded by people that it started to make more sense. From the outside when people look at me and my life they would not know that I suffer the way I do. I can only imagine my cousin was suffering silently. This almost makes my heart hurt even more because I know how he felt. I know what it’s like to feel helpless, hopeless, like nothing can or will get better and that ending it is the only option. I still feel this way often. To know that someone so close to me could have been having similar thoughts and I didn’t know and couldn’t reach out to help breaks me.

I never realized the extent of mental illness in my family until recently. I know I need to take care of myself and try to have some sort of optimistic look on life but it can be so difficult. I feel like I am drowning and the rain just won’t stop.   

Addiction Sucks

I am beyond frustrated with myself this week (well the last few weeks I guess). I can’t seem to get out of my own head and just make better decisions. I know what I need to do in order to get my life back together but for some reason I can’t (or won’t) put one foot in front of the other.

As I’ve previously mentioned I’ve struggled with addiction on top of my mental illness for quite some time. I have always had very destructive coping mechanisms (self harm, eating disorders, promiscuity) but the drug use is one that has affected my life the most over the last few years.

I detoxed from opiates a couple months ago and have not used them since but am still struggling immensely with other substances. Heroin was going to kill me quickly so I am thankful that I am off that shit but sometimes it feels like everything else is just as bad. It may not kill me immediately but what it is doing to my emotional and mental health seems just as detrimental.

I haven’t used today and don’t plan to. Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow and feel the same way. I can’t stand the thought of being a drug addict for the rest of my life. There is so much more I want to do and accomplish. I am trying to find things that keep me busy and make me happy without self-medicating. I am writing and reading and cleaned my whole house today so that’s a start.

I know this post is not the most uplifting but it’s where I’m at.