2 Weeks of Progress

It has been two weeks since I had my mom bring me to the ER with terrible thoughts of self harm.

Today is day 13 of antidepressants.

Here is a breakdown of how things have gone:

1/20 – Went to the ER with thoughts of self harm. Left with Xanax prescription.

1/21- Xanax to help with anxiety. Wanted to die. Vivid thoughts of self harm, but not intentions to act on it. Texted the Text Crisis Line a few times.

1/22- Went to primary care doctor. Got prescribed Lexapro. Started on Lexapro 5 mg. Went to 0/2 classes. Went to internship, but returned and had a breakdown. Mom had to leave work to be with me.

1/23- Lexapro 10mg because that was the amount I was taking when I stopped taking Lexapro in Summer 2016. Went to 1/3 classes. Don’t want to be left alone. Text Crisis line tends to help with the panic attacks. Xanax makes me tired and foggy.

1/24- Went to 2/2 classes. Sister had to stay on campus with me, but I go into my classes on my own. Still having thoughts of self harm.

1/25- Went to 3/3 classes. Thoughts of jumping off multi-level building I have most of my classes in, these thoughts cause great distress. Last day I texted the Text Crisis Line.

1/26- Couldn’t go to internship or my club. Went to 1/1 classes and office hours to see slides missed on 1/22. Can’t watch normal TV because afraid of being triggered. Thoughts of self harm become less frequent. Brain now tells me, “I want to die.” all day long. Not fun, but different.

1/27- Went to see my cousin and his girlfriend. Love them! Being in a space that was not secured (all sharp objects and drugs are locked up or hidden at home) was hard, but I made it through.

1/28- Stayed home and caught up on reading (only to fall behind again). Trying to make it through, but having a hard time.

1/29- Had a midterm today (got 88.24% on it, I wish I got a 90, but mom says an 88.24 is awesome with how hard I’ve been fighting. Went to 2/2 classes and internship today.

1/30- Went to 3/3 classes today. Dad picked me up during a gap so I wouldn’t be alone, he stayed nearby while I was in class. Long night because lots of papers. Last time I took a Xanax, and only a quarter of a tab at that.

1/31- Went to 2/2 classes. Still had my sister stay on campus with me. Another long night because more assignments due. My mantra is: I wanna live. I need to live. Still having hard days and wanting to sleep, always tired. Lots of migraines and headaches.

2/1- Went to 3/3 classes. My brain started singing “I don’t even wanna die anymore” from 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. I take this as a good sign because 1) I haven’t had songs stuck in my head since all this began, and 2) My brain is saying I don’t wanna die. I am starting to have better days, but when I am stressed it still starts the bad thoughts. Still having trouble thinking of long term things, my brain likes to accompany these thoughts with “if you live that long” and I’m like “f*** that, I’m gonna live to see that (event/holiday/whatever) in like 80 years”.

2/2- Went to internship, but not my club, and 1/1 classes. Still sensitive to seeing sharp objects. Smiling more and singing along to the radio often. Wore real pants for the first time since everything started. Went to the dog park and gave scratchies to a cutie named Maggie. Went to an a Capella show, thought “see if you had hurt/killed yourself you would have missed this” and brain started the “I want to die again”. When I got home, watched The Intern until I got too tired to keep my eyes open.

2/3- Ran errands with mom, sister, and puppy. Don’t want to do anything today. Really tired and just want to sleep. Otherwise generally okay. Getting nervous about the busy week ahead. Trying to take things one step at a time. Got a bunch of skeeter (mosquito) bites at the dog park last night, so really itchy. Otherwise, doing decently if I didn’t feel so tired and unmotivated. Thoughts still get worse when stressed or when I see sharp objects.

Life seems to have been bringing people from my past back into my life to remind me that I am important and cared about. A friend from elementary school, a friend from high school, an aide from a class I interned in two years ago. Good opportunities have also come my way, more about that in another post though. Let’s just say that things are looking up and looking good right now.

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Starting All Over Again

CW: Suicidal ideation

So going to the mental health conference on Saturday did not go well for me. While I was there something triggered me and I started having terrible thoughts of self harm. I went home early, around 3, and around 7 I asked my mom to bring me to the ER. I was doing really really bad. They assessed me and because I live at home, they released me with a safety plan. They gave me Xanax to help with the anxiety until I could see my doctor today. My doctor and I decided for me to go back on my Lexapro, which I stopped taking because I thought it had stopped working, but I now realize that it was likely just panic attacks from the vacation we were on. We are starting out slow, looking for a psychiatrist, and trying to keep me safe in the time being. Today I had a really bad anxiety/depressive attack, but with my parents and help of the Crisis Text Line (741741 ‘Start’) I have been able to manage pretty well. I didn’t go to school today, but plan on going back tomorrow. Thinking about going back is making me anxious, but I know that it is best for me to stick to my routine and not let the demons take hold of me. The thoughts are really hard to overpower, but when my anxiety is not too high, I seem to manage pretty well. Pretty much, whatever my brain tells me, I have to tell it the opposite. It is pretty funny when I am really in control because my brain is like “I wanna die” and I just went “I’m gonna be okay!” without even really thinking about it and it made me laugh, so I took that as a good sign. I am strong, I have been fighting these demons for a long time and just because they are stronger right now does not mean that they are gonna win. They don’t know just how much fight I have in me!

A Hard Few Days

I have been having a hard time dealing with my mental health this week.

For me, it manifests in thoughts of hurting myself (I don’t act on them), that I am worthless (I’m not!), and the thought “I could commit suicide” (*sighs*). It scares me a little lot when I get in these funks and they last for a few days. They are harder to deal with when I am alone or when I am bored. They also get a lot worse when I am tired or stressed and this week I have been both. Not only am I trying to keep up with the quarter system and all my assignments this week, but I am also sleeping on a rock hard futon until my new mattress comes in (supposedly it’s coming Monday), which means I am not sleeping well and feel more tired during the day.

I have had moments where I feel okay, I feel neutral or even a little happy, but then the depression comes surging back and it makes those happy moments fade to the background. Some things that help me are really good music, taking showers, and sometimes going on walks. Being around other people usually helps, but sometimes I feel like I am just faking it.

I am writing this because I wanted you guys to see that even though I am doing better and I am coping and learning about my mental illness, I still have bad days, sometimes several bad days in a row. This is the second “mini” depressive episode for me (anywhere from like 1-4 days before reverting back to neutral) this year and I just hope that I continue to learn from these experiences.

This weekend is a mental health conference hosted by my school and I am going to go tomorrow for sure because I think it might help me. Still not sure if I wanna go to Sunday’s part too or if I want to stay home.

I am still learning how to do all this. I AM STILL LEARNING!

Sometimes I need a little extra support. I have thought about reaching out to a therapist, but through my health care the nearest location is over an hour away. I can always get a therapist through my school too. It is a possibility I am open to, but I am still on the border because while I am doing okay I feel that I don’t need one, but then when I am having a low I kinda wish I had that extra support there.

Anyways, I hope the next few days help to lift me out of this “episode” and allow me to enjoy the mental health conference and the little things.

Delayed Personal Growth: Social Skills

I keep mentioning that I am socially awkward. The truth is, I can vary in how socially skilled I appear depending on how I feel in the situation.

For example, I always get nervous on the first day of a new elementary school internship. It feels like I am shivering, but it is the muscles in my chest contracting out of anxiety. But once a student asks for my help, I am usually fine. The anxiety goes away and I get to enjoy my time with the kids in the class. I am sometimes unsure how to explain things to them, but that is not due to my social skills that is because I don’t know how the teacher runs their classroom yet. Talking to the teacher on the other hand, can continue to terrify me for a few weeks. I make sure to listen to directions and take initiative, making rounds through the classroom to make sure kids are on task.

In terms of my college education, I have made minimal contact with peers (I have no friends in my major because the two I happened to make graduated) and find it terrifying to go to my professor’s office hours. I have only gone to one professor’s office hours and I only made that initial contact because my friend was in the class and told me I should go to the review session with her.  I went to several review sessions with that one professor, but no other professors. I go through my classes as anonymously as I can, I am a name in the gradebook but my professors likely could not match my face to my name. I have thought about making contact with a professor I have this quarter who I have had before, but I also am terrified for her to know who I am (and her daughter is in the class I am an intern in right now. her daughter know I have taken/am taking classes with her mom).

As far as friends go, I would say that I have friends, but it is more like acquaintances because while I see them at club meetings and stuff like that, we never hang out (or really even talk) outside of club events. I have two friends who I try to keep in contact with, but we come from different lives and are going different places, so while we are friends, they both have friends whose life path are going to be more similar to theirs than my path.

The kryptonite to my social anxiety is talking to/calling people on the telephone. It is an irrational fear that I can only overcome if I have an extreme obligation to make that call or talk to that person. It is almost never as terrible as I think it will be, but I dread phone calls.  Even talking to a majority of my family members through phone calls makes me anxious.

A weird thing about me is that I consider myself an extroverted introvert. I crave time with people, but also know that sometimes I need time to myself or with one other person where we aren’t really doing anything and I can be quiet and in my own little world. I have become more comfortable with getting myself to do things slightly outside my comfort zone. I joined a club last year, I went to a small bonfire/get together in October, I am going to a mental health conference hosted by my school this weekend. I love to intern in elementary classrooms even though it makes me exhausted because being around the kids helps me to feel young (and old at the same time because the 5th graders I work with were born in a world where Pluto was never a planet!). The kids make me laugh and I always learn something new. My club helps me to meet people and has a big focus on self-care (something I should really be more attentive with). On the other hand, books help me when I need some time to myself to just be. Also, I know that a lot of the time I want to be alone, but that the lack of human contact makes me depressed, so I need to get out of the house and just be around other people.

Delayed Personal Growth: Sexuality

I started taking antidepressants pretty young. I was going through puberty and just starting to figure out things like sexuality. Once the antidepressants were in my system, everything started to slow. I was physically a woman (technically), with everything that entails (fun stuff :/ ), but mentally, pretty much everything came to a halt. I no longer noticed crushes on my classmates, or wondered if all these feelings were normal. I didn’t realize that it has stopped because I was more worried about the medications I had to take because “I’m crazy”.

After being on medications for a while, I would notice every now and then cute classmates, but between my social anxiety and the medications, it never surmounted to anything more than unspoken crushes. While my classmates went through relationships, I thought little of them. I was hyper-focused on school, reading in my free time, and eventually, social media. (Thanks a lot Vyvanse. You helped immensely with my “ADD” that I probably didn’t actually have and contributed to my social ineptness.)

Eventually, I got of the Vyvanse, but remained on a cocktail of antidepressants and other medications that were supposedly helping the antidepressants work better. Now I could either focus or not (still the case today, once I get started I usually focus pretty well until I get distracted by something I feel is really important like writing these blog posts). I could notice cute classmates once again, but still could not talk to them unless I had to (also, my major is primarily girls and they all have their little cliques that they sit with in class. I am still a loner.)

I got myself down to just Lexapro, my antidepressant since diagnosis, for a while my sophomore year of college, but still no idea about my sexuality or anything, it was basically nonexistent. Eventually the Lexapro stopped working for me and I tried two other antidepressants before going medication free in May 2017.

Even after going medication free, my brain had little concept of sexuality or sexual attraction. I was having a tough time, and because depression can lower sex drive and the likes, I still felt no changes. I still had no idea who I am as a sexual being. I guess my sexuality is starting to develop again, because I am starting to see changes in the way my brain is thinking about others and the future and whatnot. It is only now that I have been able to think that I could be ready for a romantic partner, to find someone to love and work with to make a relationship with, and hopefully one day have kids with. The thing is, I find all these changes very confusing because my brain is going through the “is this normal?”, and “what the heck is going on?” thoughts for everything now, which is something I feel most people have been through either at younger ages or have some idea about by now. It’s like my brain is going through puberty again, but as an adult, because it didn’t have the chance to do all this stuff when I was younger.

As of right now, I am just starting to come to terms with the idea that this is all normal and trying to let my brain do its figuring out without getting frustrated, and I hope to get a better idea of who I am as a whole in the coming year.

Two of a Kind and Driving Me Crazy

So this week, my mom (A.K.A. the biggest supporter of my mental health and the only one I can freely talk to about it) has to go on a work trip. She will actually be leaving while I am asleep tonight and it is making me really upset. Not exactly because I don’t want her to go, but more because I don’t want to be left alone with my dad and my sister. The reason I don’t want to be left with them is because all they do is fight. They are almost exactly the same, two extremely touchy, judgmental, stubborn individuals who hate anyone who points out any of their flaws. This means, all they do is point out each others flaws and talk bad about one another. And it makes my heart hurt because I always get caught in the middle, trying to diffuse their tempers before they make me completely and utterly miserable. It doesn’t usually work. Just the way my dad talks about stuff makes my sister pissy and defensive, and hearing her complain about him all the time makes me really upset because while my dad says things he probably shouldn’t I can usually brush it off, I’m trying to protect myself after all, but she holds onto it and lets it fester and lets it make her all ugly on the inside with hatred. I am so terrified of being left alone with them that I am causing myself to get all anxious and emotional and it’s not helping me in any way because I should be reading an assignment before I go to one of my lectures tomorrow, but instead I am sitting on my bed, crying.

It is the first week of winter quarter, and so far I am looking forward to my classes. It seems I will have a lot of papers to write this quarter, but I am sure I can manage. I wish my mom would be here though (she will come home Saturday night) because she helps me manage my stress a lot better. Winter break was hard for me because I was bored a lot and my brain likes to wander to things I don’t like to think about. I feel that my stress response to my mom leaving is going to be worse tonight than while she is actually gone, but I can’t seem to get it under control right now and it sucks.

I have been thinking about going to some sort of therapy, but the therapist that my insurance will cover is about an hour away, and I don’t drive yet, and I have classes everyday. I might go to therapy through my college, cause they have free counseling, but I am a bit scared to do that too.

Overall, the best thing to happen today, while terrifying, is that I submitted my graduate school application. I hope I get into the program.

Always Close to My Heart

In 2016, I lost one grandfather. In 2017, I lost my other grandfather. It was really hard for me to deal with their deaths, especially because we expected to have a few more months with the grandfather who passed in 2017. We lost them one day short of six full months apart.

Since losing my grandfathers, I had been looking for some way to feel like they are with me always. I have a shirt from each of them, so I could/can make memory pillows. One is done, but I haven’t gotten around to the other. But I still felt like it wasn’t enough. I kept searching for something that could work. I found rhinestone charms I could add to necklaces I already wear, but I didn’t love any of them.

As Christmas drew closer, I began to feel more depressed and started to miss my grandfathers more. I was searching online when I finally found something that looked like it would work. My aunt was driving me crazy for what I wanted for Christmas, so when I told my mom I was interested in a living memory necklace, my mom relayed the information.

A living memory necklace is like a locket, but with glass panels on the front and back. I got one that screws shut (magnet closures tend to pop open) and my aunt also got me a set of birthstones. I put in my grandfathers’ birthstones and while the set of stones we ordered are a little on the small side, I love how I can have both my grandfathers with me wherever I go. The necklace is simple, small, and elegant.

Something I found surprising is that nobody has asked me what it is. My mom and sister know, but nobody else yet. I have seen some of my family members, but nobody seems to notice. I told my mom that I was surprised and she said that they probably either don’t realize what it is, or they don’t want to ask.

I am so happy that I finally have something I can wear everyday that reminds me that my grandfathers are always with me. I know that most people my age probably wouldn’t want to wear something like this, but for me it reminds me of two people who were such big parts of my life and it helps me to remember of all the good memories we shared.