When help doesn’t help

I’ve been in therapy for years now. I have tried countless meds. I have shared my story and my struggles. I’ve taken all the steps that people say to. I didn’t hide my mental health struggle. I reached out for help. And I’ve worked hard, gosh I’ve worked so hard. I’ve tried my best to work the resources. But all of these things, that are supposed to help, to make things get better, they haven’t. Five years later and I’m still so deep in my own struggles.

For many people getting help doesn’t truly make a difference.  They’re able to find happiness again. And I hope that one day that will happen for me. Sometimes it is just so hard to hold on to that idea, that hope. Especially when you’ve seen so many people flourish after just taking advantage of a fraction of the resources you’ve been using for years.

Self Deprecating

Depression can take a toll on every aspect of your life. For me, when it comes to my self image, it means constantly criticizing myself. It’s pointing out ever possible flaw, making me focus on every little insecurity.

As if that isn’t enough, medications for depression and anxiety can have a significant effect on your body. For me, my weight has fluctuated as much as 14 pounds in 2 weeks. My closet consists of oversized shirts, and jeans in about 5 different sizes. All so that when my weight inevitably fluctuates, I can try my hardest not to focus on it and already have clothes that will somewhat fit.

Todays culture seems to revolve around self deprecating remarks. The majority of my twitter feed is people putting themselves down, but acceptably, with hundreds of retweets. All because it is hidden behind the ideal that it’s funny. I believe that it is important to recognize your flaws, and work to improve them. But constantly focusing on them, and making jokes, putting yourself down? I don’t understand it.

Being stuck in your depression, and such a negative mindset is miserable. But we should all try to take a second before making jokes about our downfalls. Most of the times self deprecating jokes are so crushingly unfunny. Because for whoever made it, they know that it is completely true.

Self Harm… Part II

If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I have been a cutter for a while now. It’s become a negative coping skill that I turn to quite often. It has always been something that even though I do it, I’ve never really understood why.

Of course there is the obvious fact that it is a distraction and something to focus on, it has always perplexed me how I could physically harm myself. But last night as I looked myself in the mirror and took a razor blade to myself, something clicked. I cut because it makes me feel as though my pain is justified.

Every day I feel so hurt. Between depression, anxiety, and just my general disfunction, I always feel upset, feel hurt. But I also feel guilty for feeling this way. Like it isn’t justified. But when I’m cutting, I can see all my scars, I can see blood. In the moment, although I’m in pain it feels justified. It feels like I finally have a right to feel hurt.

Although I hate that I cut, last night it finally made sense to me. It isn’t for a distraction. It is for a moment of relief from the guilt.

Final Exams

If your in college, than this can be a really stressful time. Final exams are quickly approaching, and have even started for many. It’s my first semester in college, so it’s my first time experiencing this. Of course I had finals in high school, but they were never such a big deal. Luckily I only have three exams this semester.

I have to say, I personally am not that stressed. There are a million things in my life that I am constantly stressed about, so it’s weird that this isn’t that big of a deal to me. Of course I’m spending the entire week in the library studying though. It just seems like something that I can prepare for, and that I am in control of the outcome.

One thing that really has bothered me about finals is everyone around me. It’s not that they are stressed or overwhelmed. I completely understand why they feel that way. It’s that they are posting on twitter and instagram that they wish they were dead. Or, they are jokingly saying that they would pay someone to kill them. This is so not ok to me. As someone who constantly struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, in no way are those jokes funny.

It’s important to remember that many times when people with depression are struggling they do their best to hide it. You never know who will see these joking posts and be offended or hurt.

Throwback

This is a post I wrote around a year ago for my high school blog. I was looking back on it and want to share…

Anxiety. It is one word. One tiny little seven letter word. But somehow, it manages to take complete control over me. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. For me it is a lot more complicated. It’s also not typically something that is easy for me to open up about, as it has such a large stigma attached to it. Which makes it so much harder to live with.

Anxiety has always been a part of my life. In fact, when I was born I was in the NICU for 16 days. Although the first day it was because of my health, my stay was prolonged because anytime another baby around me had a problem or their alarm went off, I would react. As illogical as it may seem, anxiety can be more than simply a feeling of fear. For many people, they have very real physical reactions. For me my reaction can be just a feeling of sadness or misplacement, but many times it is accompanies by physical reaction. My heartrate spikes, and I sometime have difficulty breathing. In addition to those lovely responses food becomes my enemy. Even the mention of eating and I will turn so pale, you may as well call me Casper.

As a senior in high school, there are so many things that are can be exciting. It is an adventure into your future. For the first time, you have complete control in what you want to do. The decisions you make are all yours. Although many days, these are simply exciting for me, sometimes

along the way my anxiety kicks in.

Being a 17-year-old, crying in class is one of the most embarrassing things. So of course, on Friday, my anxiety decided to strike right as I was about to walk into school. A nervous thought about my family and my future popped into my head, and unlike someone without anxiety, it was hard for me to just redirect my attention.

One of the hardest parts about anxiety for me is that it seems although you have two completely different thought processes. On one hand I can see that it is irrational for me to become so upset and scared that I literally cannot stop crying as I’m sitting in class. But on the other hand, there is some part of me that completely registers this thought as a fear, as something so real that it needs my full focus.

It may seem like I just completely embarrassed myself, crying at school in the first place, and sharing this now. But this is why. Having these thoughts are hard enough, never mind having to simultaneously freak out about what people are thinking about you or what they would say if they found out that you have anxiety and unfortunately this is a pretty common part of your life. The stigma around mental health is so detrimental, and the only way to overcome it is by speaking up. I have an anxiety disorder, but it doesn’t define me. It allows me to see how many people in my life truly care, and support me.

Standing Together

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Today was the “Out of Darkness” community walk in Richmond Virginia. It’s organized by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It was an amazing community gathering, that showed how many people truly care and are there to support those struggling with mental illness.

Although I was in the back of the crowd and couldn’t hear a majority of the speeches, what I could hear was powerful. People shared their own stories of struggle and loss, and offered hope to all those around them.

Everyone proudly wore beads that represented their own connection to AFSP, whether they had lost a loved one, friend, or struggled themselves. It was an environment where no one was afraid of judgement and could openly speak to anyone around them for support.

I was inspired by the walk today. Our team, however small we may have been, raised over $2000 for the cause. So many of my own friends in family happily donated.

The AFSP is an amazing organization, that is inspiring change, and a start in conversation to stop the stigma.

Self Harm

I saw this photo on Pinterest today. It made me stop scrolling. It made me freeze.

My stomach is covered in scars. Some from months ago. Some that are fresh, only hours old, that are still red, that would bleed if I touched them.

I’m laying in bed writing this post on my phone and I can feel the pain of these fresh cuts. I can feel where I took a knife and cut myself. But I can also choose to focus on that physical pain rather than the emotional chaos that is going on in my mind.

I don’t cut for attention. Very few people in my day to day life know about it. And the one person that I used to talk openly about it with, went of to college and I don’t talk with her about it anymore.

It makes me so mad when people say that people self harm for attention. Is that why people hide it? Is that why people wear long sleeves year round?

It takes so much for someone to turn to physically harming themselves. It’s not an easy thing to do. Although it may turn into a habit, it is still difficult every time.

Ive been cutting for 6 months now. It’s a habit.

A negative coping skill.

I hate that I’m able to hurt myself. I hate that I turn to self harm when I’m struggling.

This is something that is hard to talk about, and I know this post is kind of a mess. But if you self harm, know that you’re not alone.

QPR

Today I attended QPR training at my college. The counseling center was offering training sessions, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn. Overall it was a great experience, but I did notice a few things that I wanted to talk about.

First of all, for those of you who do not know, QPR is short for question, persuade and refer. It is a program designed to train individuals on how to approach the topic of suicide and what to do if you believe someone you know is suicidal. I highly recommend the training, as it was a very informative program.

However, there were some problems with the powerpoints, that my instructor couldn’t change due to their copyrights. I was lucky enough to have an instructor who pointed these things out. However, it is important to be mindful of them.

One of the main problems I had was the term “commit”. On many slides the program stated statistics in which individuals “committed suicide”. I have a problem with this, as I see the word commit as placing blame on the victim. Someone who dies by suicide is not to blame for their death!

Another problem was that in the persuade section, one of the many recommendations was to have the person promise you they will not hurt themselves until they talk to you next. In my opinion this is ineffective and puts shame on the person you are supposed to be helping.

In the past I have had a therapist make me sign a suicidal thinking contract (which listed what I would do incase of an emergency and made me agree not to hurt myself), and it was one of the worst feelings. If he were to have made a plan with me and written out what to do without making me sign anything, it would have been a useful resource. However, by making me sign the paper it was almost like he was making me admit that my thoughts were wrong, and that I was at fault for having them.

Suicidal thoughts are obviously not a positive thing, but they are not anyones fault. Further more, by making someone feel bad for having these thoughts all that you are doing is furthering the stigma and limiting the chances of them speaking up.

Overall the QPR training was a positive experience. We ran scenarios, and I learned local resources and how to contact help if needed. I recommend it for anyone looking to be more informed on how to approach the subject of suicidal thinking. However, I would be mindful of the things that I talked about. Here is the link for the website if anyone is interested: https://www.qprinstitute.com/

Separation

One of the things that I struggle with most is separating my own emotional struggles from my reactions and responses to other people in my life.

My reaction to stressors and my family and surrounding drama completely take over who I am. I become so focused on what is going on in others lives, that my response takes up all of my emotional energy. And in turn, that anxiety, worry and fear take up a majority of my physical energy as well.

It’s easy for someone to say just focus on yourself, or to not worry about things that you can’t change. But in practice that is a lot harder said than done.

For me trying to not worry and focusing on separation can make things worse. It’s like when you try not to think about it, it turns into the only thing you can focus on.

This is something that I’m working on, similar in a way to how mindfulness works. By acknowledging the fact that yes I am worried, or yes I am stressed, but also telling my self that that is ok. By focusing on breathing and acceptance, I am able to refocus on myself, rather than whatever it was that caused the initial panic.

This is a practice, and one that I am far from mastering. But, I’ve reached a critical point where the level of stress is completely taking over my life. So, I’m working hard on being able to focus inward.

Losing Hope

It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything. The truth is I’m not doing so great.

I’m going into my fourth week of college classes, yet I still haven’t found my groove. I still haven’t found a group of friends that I’m 100% comfortable with, and with everything going on in my family I’m still avoiding alcohol like it’s the plague.

I always imagined joining a sorority, and fully experiencing the college life you hear everyone talk about. But between my depression and the affects of being an adult child of an alcoholic, that dream that I always had is such a terrifying prospect.

It’s not just the social aspect of college that’s getting me down. It’s just my overall state of depression and general lack of motivation. I’m currently taking Fetzima, which is around the dozenth medication that I’ve tried. Yet, nothing has worked.

I’m studying psychology, and it doesn’t take an expert to know that this means my depression is treatment resistant. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have options, but typical medications may not help. I could try TMS, but I don’t know anyone who has experienced it and if I remember correctly it’s a commitment of five days a week for six weeks.

As it is now, I have a hard enough time convincing myself to get out of bed and get to class. If it wasn’t for the fact that if I miss more than a certain number of classes than I fail, my attendance would be nonexistent.

Right now there are so many stressors, my depressions sucks, and I feel like there are anxiety triggers everywhere I turn. So right now, I’m feeling rather hopeless.