Wishes while functioning and struggling with mental health

I wish…
…I could self harm just once so that people would take it seriously (too much of a possibility of that causing an added problem)
…I knew what I needed to do to get better
…there was someone who would check in regularly and that I knew what that looked like
…what kind of therapy would help
…what physical ailments were related to anxiety, stress, or depression and what might be a sign of some physical sickness that I should get checked out (problem with having no insurance. You have to decipher when to go to the doctor.)
…that I could find a way to directly reach out to people without it stressing the mess out me. Every time I feel that I am in crisis mode and should reach out, I think about what might be going on in someone’s life before reaching out. Which causes me not to reach out because everyone has things going on in their lives.
….I could get to the root causes of my mental health struggles
….that there weren’t wait lists to see a therapist (then again I don’t have insurance therefore have limited resources)
…that people in the church wouldn’t have such a negative view on counseling/therapy and medication people might need to deal with their mental health struggles. Yes, prayer with time in the bible and memorization helps but doesn’t always bring healing. I can have peace while struggling mentally. God allows people to go through different struggles for His glory. This could be one way He is using me. I got to believe that because I know He is the only reason I am still alive on Earth. If my time here was done, I wouldn’t be here.

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strength vs struggle of mental health

Many people wonder why I choose to post on social media about my struggles. Not many directly tell me this but some have informed of other’s concern.

Here’s the reason: to break the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage others to become informed of the realities of mental health struggles [not just what movies, shows, and books show].

Here’s the main reason people think I post but never my intention: attention

I used to not post about my struggles until they passed and I was back to being positive.

I want to be positive. I really do. The thing is I do not know how to deal with my emotions and I do not have a support system set up. I also deal with the fear of being a burden. Therefore I rarely reach out to someone personally while I am struggling.

I somehow thought I grew up in a culture where emotional issues and any developmental issues was not discussed therefore they could not exist. That’s how I perceived it.  Probably not reality.

I chose numbness as a coping mechanism when facing issues growing up. It still the first thing I tend to do when facing an emotional stressor. I don’t remember much of the details of my life because the numbness blocked those memories.

Over the past few years, I have gotten to a breaking point with my mental health. I have had several moments where a passing thought of suicide will occur. It only last for a moment. Not long enough to make a plan. Just enough time to suggest how. I deal with a thing called suicide ideation which is where it can range from just fleeting thoughts to planning. I am thankful that I just get fleeting suicidal thoughts. What a weird thing to say, right?

I want to be vulnerable but I know I don’t need to or shouldn’t share too much detail about the specifics of my mental health struggles.

There lies the problem where it is hard to know how much to share so that people get an idea of what it looks like to deal with a mental health struggle. I want to share about the faults I have faced with people in my life when it comes to trying to share about my mental health but not single anyone out or have it seem like I am pointing fingers. {Welcome to my anxious mind}

I do not have a support system set up. I have never had one set up. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to talk to someone about being part of my support system. I don’t even know what I need in a support system.

I know that I am worn down from fighting this on my own. I am on a waiting list to see a therapist at the psych clinic at South university where a grad student will attempt to help me with life and how to deal with my emotions.

 

The struggle

The struggle is wanting a forever companion but no desire to marry or even date.

The struggle is wondering why I started with that. Most likely because I miss living in a community. You see, I moved from the Southeast to the Northeast (or is Michigan Midwest?) a month ago.

The struggle is choosing to vulnerable yet not knowing who or where to turn to do so.

The struggle is knowing the thoughts and worries you want to be vulnerable are most like irrational and what’s the use of talking about the irrational.

The struggle is claiming people as my support system but not being direct on what I need from those particular people.

The struggle is facebook deleting a message that I had planned to send to those that I claim as my support system.

The struggle is fighting numbness and to fight to be honest and vulnerable with myself.

The struggle is realizing that anxiety has decided to come back with a raging fire after taking a month long vacation…or maybe it was a business/strategy session on how to attack my mind.

Do know that I thankful that I got a job with full time hours and soon to be benefits within a week of being in Michigan.

Know that God has confirmed many times that He has called me to Michigan.

 

Pulling weeds while thinking it’s the root

The hardest but sometimes the best thing to do is just let go.
 
I have always struggled in friendships. I somehow only know how to be a best friend and have no idea how to navigate any of the other stages. I dive in head first into the deep end without looking back to see if my new friend joined me. I have set my standards and they seem unattainable.
 
God has been revealing that some of my standards and expectations should be only held for my future spouse. I have never been close to my siblings or parents. No one is to blame. Busy schedules and different interests didn’t help. I think un-diagnosed mental health issues add a whole new level. I know that my family loves me [and I love them] but I have never received emotional support or felt a connection. 
 
I have been searching for the connect, the sisterly bond in friends. The majority of people have great family connections who are their built in support system. I have received financial support but lack the personal, emotional support that every human hopes to have.
 
I told a few people that they were my support system but didn’t explain what that meant. That is because I didn’t even know where to begin or how to explain what I needed. I am still searching for that answer and how to explain to those who I have chosen to enlist as my support system.
I am doing good. I have felt complete peace since entering Michigan and God has been good. God is continuing to allow me to see the parts of myself that needs to be worked on. He is showing me the root of my issues slowly. I keep pulling at weeds thinking I had pulled the root. God has been gracious to allow me to work though the weeds to get back to the root and try again to pull the root out.

Handle with tender loving care

It’s easy to forget how bad it sucked to be in a bout of depression when things are going good. I think that is a good thing because why would you focus on bad moments in your life when life is treating you well. What not remembering doesn’t help is when trying to explain those dark times in your life to people who had been there but didn’t recognize that you were struggling. This isn’t me placing blame on anyone. Please do not read this paragraph as that.

It’s been about a month and a half since my first bout of depression while on anti-depression medication. Anyone should know that one of the side effects of anti-depression medication is suicidal thoughts and sleepiness among others that it is supposed to be helping stop. The medication was not the cause of the bout depression occurred from complications with financial aid kept on piling up on me.

I couldn’t be mad at anyone in the financial aid office for me taking to so long to seek professional help for my depression and anxiety. I can’t be too upset with myself for not seeking help sooner. There is no one to blame. Depression and anxiety doesn’t allow for realistic perceptions of life.

It is hard to change how you deal with things when you’ve spent your whole [or the majority of] life coping a certain way.

With school being out and yet to find a job, time is not good for non-dealt with issues that was put on the back burner because the routine of school with a somewhat packed schedule and organizations that were at school. Issues that you and your mind need to wrestle with and some issues involve talking to people. They involve discussing tough topics with people in your life that you’ve been bottling up.

It’s hard to try to describe my depression pre-medication as well as that first bout of depression since starting medication. I literally had moments where I was too tired of not being to change my mindset, thoughts, or emotions from racing thoughts and untrue thoughts from replaying in my mind. Even though I knew most of the thoughts were exaggerated or complete lies, there was no way of redirecting them.

I was tired of trying and trying yet always failing. Failing with school work. Failing in friendship aspect. Failing in any relationship aspect. Failing at having a plan.

God made me resilient. He made me overly loving and gave me the love to want to know people. God made me with a huge desire for community. God gave me the desire for someone to share everything with but not the desire to date or marry. This desire was for a best friend which I know that a significant other is that. For reasons I have yet to figure out, God gave me a desire for friendship, not a dating/marriage relationship.

I am starting to wonder if I treat every friendship like it’s relationship and that is where troubles/issues arise.

In moments that I have felt like that world is against me, I’ve thought about messaging/calling friends to come be with me but I don’t because I think I fear that would be asking too much. I will think about how much they might be stressed about school, work, other people in their life that might have priority, so many other things that I consider are more important than me. Or I know how irrational my thoughts are and I don’t want to bother anyone else because of the same reasons that I listed above.

Well…that’s a little bit what is in my head yet I am afraid to share with others.

 

Mental health

God is in the business of redemption and restoration.
He patiently works his way through out stubbornness.
He allows us to go though messy situations.
He allows for not so great things to happen.
He allows us to struggle
So that our faith will be strengthened.
So that the world gets to see His glory.
So that we fully rely on Him.

He gives patience.
We squirm like a little child.
We want things instantly.
We want things to go overall smoothly.

We have become entitled
Thinking we deserve a good family.
Wisdom and knowledge to do well in life.
Even thinking we have the right to the bask necessities.
All of these are privileges.

God has given us grace
So that we get the chance to have these things.
We take for granted all that God has allowed us to have.
Especially in first world countries.
The majority have the basic needs:
Shelter, security, clean water, and access to food.
We even get pleasures such as education, clean air, and enjoyable food.

These are not bad things but
Since most of are born with these things
And do not know what is like to go without.
It has caused to strive for more, for better.

Having access to all of these things
Are a way of not seeing the internal struggles.

Mental health has been stigmatized for far too long.
Mental health has been the scapegoat for too many tragedies.
Mental health is not supposed to be bad.
Mental health affects other parts of your body other than your brain.
Mental health is as important as physical health.

Mental health problems are not a result of sin or lack of faith.
Seeking help shows strength and boldness.
God gave knowledge and resources so that
Individuals could help others through struggles.
So that there could advances in medicine
To help with imbalances in the brain
Just like medicine can help kill cancer cells.

 

Story of rediscovering my issues with speaking

I overheard a conversation that was something about a child who decided to not talk as often because other kids couldn’t understand him. A comment was made about how lonely the child must feel.

I can relate to the child because I became that person in most situations. Only my tiny circle of friends knew how much I liked to talk.

Unfortunately growing up, I couldn’t grasp the concepts my speech-language pathologist  was trying to teach me. Or it might have been that the techniques I was trying to learn wasn’t the right ones. Plus, I am very stubborn and I probably didn’t want to learn a new way of talking.

I still struggle with annunciation, opening my mouth wider when talking, and slowing down.

It has been suggested by two people that are in separate parts of my life to think about see a speech language pathologist. They’re both worried about job interviews and work environments. I don’t know if I will actually try to find one to see.

I saw the speech language pathologist during my preschool years up to around 6th grade. It didn’t look like I was improving so I decided to stop.

So I just looked up different speech disorders which is something I have never done. Not sure why I haven’t. Probably because I made peace with having a speech impediment.

I watched a youtube video of a girl who has apraxia and she sounded similar to me.

I am not claiming that I have apraxia over myself but it does help with trying to figure out I should go see a speech language pathologist.

Apraxia is a motor speech disorder. The messages from the brain to the mouth are disrupted, and the person cannot move his or her lips or tongue to the right place to say sounds correctly, even though the muscles are not weak. (http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ApraxiaAdults/ )

Learning about apraxia has stirred up emotions such as relief because I somehow never thought of not being able to speak well could be caused by a malfunction in my brain. I used to say I had a speech impediment but as some point I stopped. Not saying I am going to starting using the term again. I blamed people not understanding me because I knew I talk really fast, quietly, and do not annunciate well.

I have known I need speak slowly and more clearly. In situations where I am nervous or excited, I have hard time making myself slow down and try to be more clear.

I remember quite a few time during my freshman year of high school (years before and after as well but freshman year is the most clearest), many times people chose to laugh instead of asking for clarification or for me slow down.

My issues with speaking has affected me seeking help for my anxiety and depression. I hadn’t realized that until today. They may not have a major affect but they were part of why I took so long to seek help.

 

What I need to hear and what you might need to hear

You are enough.

You are not your mistakes.

You are not defined by your mistakes or your past.

You are loved.

It is okay to not have it all together.

Talking helps.

People care about you and love you.

People will meet you in your mess.

People will celebrate your successes.

You are not a burden.

Your feelings are valid.

It is okay to fail as long as you continue to try and/or willing to try a new way or new things.

You will get there.

It is okay to walk away from unhealthy situations and relationships.

 

 

The beauty that counseling and meds have done

Here’s the quick update.
I have been seeing my therapists consistently for a month now.
I have been taking anti-psychotic medicine for two months.
I had to request a change in mg for the dosage.
I feel like I have my life back!

Okay, now on to the meaty details.

It took one long year of being at my weakest after a decade of struggling to do it my own while relying on God. There was a moment during the earlier years where I asked God why. There have been many moments in the year of 2015 that I had asked God if I only needed him then why couldn’t he just take me to heaven.

In those moments in when I knew my strength was dwindling and I had to seek help. I knew I couldn’t just journal, blog, talk to people, try to change my thoughts or mood, or ignore my thoughts or mood. I could no longer push the thoughts, feelings, or mood down and become numb.

I know that God is the only reason that I am still alive. God has shown me so much mercy and grace. He has given me the desire to work with individuals who have been trafficked. This passion has helped me continue to seek my degree in psychology. As of June 2016, I will completed all coursework required to get my bachelors.

Being diagnosed with anxiety and depression and now with the help of counseling and medicine, has given me freedom in knowing that things are on the road to a more balanced, happy life.

I allowed the unspoken stigma cultural of saving face is more important than happiness. That if I act, do, and look the right way then I will be happy. Culture focuses on the outward appearance with no worry on the inner workings of an individual. There seems to be a slow change the cultural atmosphere that is helping show that mental health is important.

There have some who still only belief the stigma when think of mental health. I am fighting along meaning people to break the silence and end the stigma of saying mental illness but to day mental health. We are also working raise awareness of the many areas that fall under mental health. We are working to eliminate the barriers that cause many to not seek help and loose hope.

There are still moments where my anxiety and depression take over where I feel trapped but now I am working on coping mechanisms. It is a trial and error thing and I have high hope that one day I will be able to handle those moments so that I can back control of my life.

Those moments now only last a couple of hours where there used to be days, sometimes even weeks where there seemed to be only darkness.

During those days/weeks were where I couldn’t stop myself from thinking I was not seen, worthy, or heard. I couldn’t stop myself from only thinking about what people were doing and thinking I was not thought or that no one wanted me to be around them. it was a vicious cycle.

God has given me the desire of deep community and the intimacy that a group of people has when they live life together. The desire to be a vital part of the church. The desire to reach the ones who come in hoping someone doesn’t comment on their worn shoes or asking where have they been because they don’t want to share that they barely have enough money to cover the necessities or they had to work to pay for their necessities. I want to reach the ones who are walking in hoping that someone greets them the same way they would an old friend. I want to reach the ones have felt or thought any of the feelings or thoughts that I have had when entering.

i want to do this other places than the church. I just know that God has given me a deep desire of the church being a family.

If God had meant for it to be just you and him then why create the church? Why gather at all? Why server together? Wouldn’t we just go and tell about God on own?

I would attempt to apologize to all the people I have hurt with my anxiety and depression mind but I know that there are many in the background or in the chain of communication that have been affected. I am not even sure if I need to apologize.

I do need to say a thank you though.

Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for the ones who I have been open with.
Thank you for praying for me.
Thank you for reaching out. [even if I haven’t come to you]
Thank you.

Remembering the hard moments is hard yet necessary

For a moment, I didn’t want to be reminded someone I personally knew took their life eight years ago. Every year, I wonder why it still impacts when we never really knew each other. One of the few things that connected us is the reason he is gone.

That reason is a mental illness.

I wasn’t close enough to him to know the details. The only real interaction we had was a week in the summer of 2007 at a church camp. I opened up to the group I had come with. I have no idea what I said but it must have been about feeling depressed or something along those lines. At the end of the week, he wrote me a note [my group writes a letter to each person at the end of the week each year-I’m not sure they still do.] and at the end said something along the lines of I could call me anytime if needed. He put his number on the card.

I never called.

I can recall one time we passed in the hallway at school. I can’t recall if he said anything but I know it was too quick for either of us to say much. I don’t recall saying hey or responding. I don’t why but I recall that moment every time I think of his death.

The other moment I always recall is the day of his death. I’m not sure if I had gotten a text or just had a feeling but when I walked into the living room and my sister told me the news, I said I know the I went for a run.

That is all I recall from that day. I know it was a few days before school started back.

I remember the day of the funeral. I remember leaving school with two friends. I remember seeing  a younger boys’ soccer team who he had helped coach. Every year, I think about how do you tell a child someone they knew and looked up to took his own life.

I recall several moments reflecting on why I hadn’t called. On why I hadn’t given him much thought over the months between that week in the summer of 2007 and that day in January of 2008.

It was his choice no matter what other people did or said to try to help him.

Eight years is a long time.

This day being the first one where I have taken action towards my mental health in a positive way. In years past, there were many reasons why I didn’t seek help.

Pride. Shame. Fear. Stigma. Saving face mentality. Choosing to be numb. Use of substances.

These are reasons why I struggled to want to start the road to recovery.

It seems fitting to officially [social media wise] say that I did go to that counseling session in December and I did see the psychiatrist as well. I had my follow up with my psychiatrist today.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be completely honest with her. I am being treated for moderate anxiety and moderate depression. The meds I was prescribed have seemed to make the anxiety better but I seem to lack motivation. I am going to see what increasing the mg does in hopes that I will have days where I want to do something other than binge watch shows.

I didn’t want to remember the pain that his death caused but I have realized that I need to. Remembering his death also means remembering the aftermath. Again, I wasn’t close to him or his family so I only saw tid bits of how they dealt with his death.

His death affected many. I know the many reasons people say why people choose to take their own lives instead of continuing to choose to fight their mental illness. I don’t know what his thoughts or reasons were but I do know there has to more conversations about mental health. I know there something has to change. I know there are many people and organizations who are fighting to change to conversation and fighting the stigma. I am part of the community of stigma fighters.

Here are some links if you’d like more info on mental health and how to fight the stigma:

National Alliance on Mental Illness – http://www.nami.org/

Active Minds – http://activeminds.org/

To Write Love On Her Arms – https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

http://www.mentalhealth.gov/