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.

The Holidays

Christmas is quickly approaching. For me, the last two Christmases have been the most bittersweet days.

On one hand I love it. I finally get to have the pure Christmas experience. Waking up on the 25th to a decorated Christmas tree, with family all around me. Spending the day watching movies, playing board games, decorating ginger bread houses that have were made from scratch the day before.

But on the other hand I’m full of heartache. And so conflicted. Do I call the family that I have been so hurt by? Do I let the past go, if only for one day. Do I tell them that I love them, and that I’m sorry that I can’t see them. Do I put my own feelings, my own hurt and anger aside.

I’ve ignored texts for weeks now. “What do you want for Christmas?” “Are you going to come visit when you’re on break?”

I know that I am going to try and have fun. Enjoy the holidays. Friendmas, Christmas, New Years. But how will family fit in? Will my anxiety and depression keep me from truly enjoying myself.

It sucks that I become so anxious about what is the most festive time of the year. But it’s also something that I’ve become so accustomed to.

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.

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.

Disappointment

I’ve known for a while now that living in a dorm wasn’t working for me. Campus life just definitely wasn’t my style.

I’m not one for parties, or even study groups really. I’m more of a lone wolf. I like to study in quiet, and alone time is important to me.

Being in a dorm, there are people around constantly. There is always noise, and you can never get your room dark.

For me personally, I was place in the honors college dorms even though I wasn’t in the honors college. This made me feel like an outcast. Everyone in my dorm had classes together, and had group outings as the honors college group. Then there was me, who had a completely different schedule and very little in common with any of them.

This makes living in the dorms even harder for me. I never felt welcomed. I never had a moment free of anxiety.

So on Monday, I went to the office of student accessibility. I have accommodations through this office, listing my anxiety and depression. They allow me to leave class if I feel panicked and other small adjustments like that. I was told that by going through their office I would have the best chance of getting out of my lease.

Only a day later, I received an email saying my request was denied.

So I feel trapped. I feel disappointed.

Triggers

I’m a freshman in college, and I’m living on campus. I’m quickly realizing that that is a huge mistake. I’m surrounded by triggers 24/7.

I get it. It’s your first time living alone. Why not party? Drink, smoke, have the time of your life.

However, I can’t stand being around it. I makes me think of my dad and how sick he is. And how addiction can completely destroy someone.

I’ve always said that when I grow up I’m never going to drink. For as long as I can remember, even in elementary school.

Then high school came around and I was like fuck that. I drank, and had my fun.

But now even being around other people drinking is such a trigger. It makes me anxious, puts me on edge.

So now here I am, living in a college dorm. Surrounded by people partying. And I’m sober, and can’t handle being around any of it.

I’m trying to figure out if moving Home is the right thing. But wherever I go, alcohol will be there. It’s not a trigger I can avoid. I need to learn to live with it.

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.

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.

Socializing?

Socializing is a pretty mandatory aspect of life. You have to do it, it’s what allows you to survive. What gives you the will to keep going.

But sometimes it is the most difficult thing to motivate yourself to do. When my depression starts to get bad, the first thing I want to do is isolate myself. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to go anywhere. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to watch a show, or listen to music.

It sounds so sad, so pathetic. But it’s the truth. Sometimes my energy is so diminished, and my mood is so low. I lay in bed not wanting to move. But you have to socialize, you have to get involved in life in order for anything to change.

Not to say that by socializing you magically feel better and like the world is all rainbows and puppies. Because that could not be further from the truth. When I get the energy to get out of bed, I usually regret it the instant I am with friends.

Their upbeat energy and mood makes me aggravated. Like I’m missing something. Why do I feel so miserable, and they are enjoying life to it’s fullest. But after the initial aggravation, I usually have a moment where I realize that I’m out of bed. Not only am I out of bed, but I’m feeling something other than exhaustion and hopelessness. Even if it is one of those moments of aggravation rather than enjoyment.

I love my friends, and talking to them, spending time with them, it’s what keeps me going. But I think it’s a topic that isn’t discussed enough. Sometimes it’s hard to be social. Sometimes you can’t help but to lay in bed and accept defeat for the day.

Pushing Away

I have never fully been able to trust anyone, to allow myself to be 100% vulnerable. It doesn’t matter who they are, or our past. It sounds like a horrible way to live, and it is. But sometimes you’ve just been burned to many times.

I’ve always known that I’m not exactly a people person. But today it struck just how truly closed off I can be. I was walking back from class as someone said “good afternoon beautiful.” Rather than accept the innocent complement, I flicked him off. That’s not all, in my head I went to the worst places, and looked down to be sure my pepper spray was on my keys. (I do live on a college campus, it’s not completely unreasonable.)

I’ve noticed that I am always quick to assume the worse. While I am generally polite, and try to be a people pleaser. I socialize very little. I have a close group of friends and that’s how I like it.

Growing up as a child of an alcoholic, you learn that trust can be extremely confusing. Whether it’s the lies the addict tells you, the lies others tell in order to protect you from the addict, or the lies you tell yourself in order to preserve whatever resemblance of innocent childhood memories you have, your world is surrounded by lies.

Growing up with such a limited understanding of honesty and trusting relationships can make it hard to form relationships. Being in a new dorm, meeting new people, I immediately think what is the other person getting by talking to me, rather than just assuming that they are simply trying to make a friend in an environment that is new to them as well.

They say acknowledging a problem is the first step, however I have always known that trust is not my strong suit. However it has allowed me to learn independence.

Either way, shutting people out and isolating your self is one of the worst things that you can do when you are depressed. So in writing this blog, I’m hoping to force myself into accepting that not everyone means you harm. Sometimes people can be nice simply for the sake of being nice. Even if your past makes that hard to see.