My Recovery

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I am happy.  In this moment, I’m actually a little grumpy.  I am always a little bit grumpy in the morning because I’m not much of a morning person.  What I mean by saying that I’m happy is that I am, overall, pretty happy at this point of my life.

This is the first time I have ever felt this way, at least that I can remember.  I’m not going to say that everything is perfectly fine.  That’s not true.  But I can say that I am doing extremely well.  Everything in my life is going well at the present moment.

I have started an online course in grammar as part of a creative writing program that I have decided to enrol in to keep myself busy this year.  I got a job that starts on June 17.  There were five positions, and one-hundred-twenty people applied.  I made it.  I have started to see someone who is not abusive, and that’s going well so far.  I’m doing everything the average 19-year-old would be doing: college, summer job, dating, etc.  Not only am I doing that, but I have accomplished some pretty amazing things in the past little while.

I am extremely proud of myself.  I reached my rock bottom a few months ago, and I have been able to build myself up even stronger than I was before my downward spiral.  Not only that, but I have been open about everything that I am going through.  It hasn’t always been easy.  There have been times where I have thought to myself, “You should have kept all this to yourself, Sophie.  You shouldn’t have told anyone what was going on with you.”  However, that thought has only occurred to me a few times.  Most of the time, I feel proud and happy that I have shared my story.

I had a few goals that I hoped to accomplish when I made the decision to be open about my mental health issues.  The first was to provide a voice that would hopefully be able to speak to others who are going through similar issues.  Nobody should feel alone when they are in a battle against their illness.  The second goal was to help people who don’t know what it’s like to have a mental illness gain some understanding.  In my case, members of my family didn’t know how to react to my issues because they had no way of knowing what I was going through.  I know that the not knowing really worried my parents, so I wanted to provide the families and friends of individuals dealing with mental illness with some information.  My third goal was to open up people’s eyes to the lack of mental health care in our society.

All that being said, there have been some challenges.  There are always going to be people who can’t see things from your point of view, and that is something that I have had to deal with.  Not everybody is going to be understanding.  I occasionally have people say things to me that make me feel very small.  Whether someone tells me that mental illness isn’t really an illness, or that I’m not capable of something menial because I am mentally ill, I am always taken aback by negative comments.

However, I think that these comments say more about the person who said them than they do about me.  If someone doesn’t believe that mental illness is a real kind of illness, then their opinions are trapped in the stone age.  If someone thinks I’m not fully-functional, I would really like to see them handle everything that comes with being mentally ill.  If I believed that everyone who is mentally ill wasn’t really ill and that they weren’t able to function, I wouldn’t have been able to recover as well as I have.  It was my belief that I am more than my illness that gave me the strength to get as far as I have in my recovery.

I really hope that if someone has the belief that they aren’t really dealing with a real illness, or that they will never be a fully-functional member of society, they might read this and possibly reconsider.  I know this sounds cheesy, but determination is a huge part of recovery.  There are many other aspects to recovery (medications, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, having a strong support system, etc.), but I think that believing that you can get better is the most important part of actually getting better.

I also just want to put this out there:  If you know someone who is going through a hard time, even if it is not due to mental illness, don’t be a dick about it.  Even if you don’t want to offer your support, you don’t have to be rude.  Be kind to people no matter what their story is.

Depression: Part 2

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Depression: Part 2

Depression Part 2

I used to read this blog all the time, but then the author stopped posting.  Just recently, she posted this.  It resonated within me, so I wanted to share it here.

I’m putting links everywhere in this post because I really want to to read it.  Click on the link at the top, click on the photo, click on the link attached to the word “this,” or click here because it is a really good post.

You can also click here to read the prequel, Adventures in Depression.

The Adventure

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I embarked upon a quest the other night, a quest to collect something and bring it to its rightful place.  I had to get my bike from the university, and bring it to my new house.

I have been putting off getting my bike for a while.  I don’t really know why.  But that night, I was dog sitting for a friend.  I had just taken the dog for a walk, and I was full of adrenaline.  It was getting pretty late, but I decided that it was the perfect time to go get my bike.

I drove from my friend’s house to the university.  I parked my car, and then I walked to the bike rack that held my bike.  My car was too small to fit my bike, so I would have to bike to the house and then walk back to the university.

As I approached the bike rack, something stopped me dead in my tracks.  There was a skunk sitting right near my bike.  What could I do?  If I tried to go get my bike, the skunk would be startled and spray me.

I started to go over what would happen if the skunk did spray me in my head.  You’re supposed to bathe in tomato juice.  I would have to go into the grocery store, smelling like skunk, to get the tomato juice.  Then I would have to go to my new house to take a bath, since my friend only has a shower and the house I was currently living in was 45 minutes away.  I didn’t have any of my soap-free cleansers, since my skin is so sensitive, so I just couldn’t afford to get sprayed by a skunk that night.  As you can see, I was in a real pickle.

I decided to wait the skunk out.  It seemed like it was eating something, so I figured it would move on when it was finished.  Sure enough, it did.  But it didn’t go far.  I decided that it was far enough away that I could make my move.

I slowly approached the bike rack with the key to my bike lock in hand.  I put the key in the lock, and turned it.  At least I tried to turn it.  It was stuck.  As I was fiddling with the keys, I noticed something moving in the corner of my eye.  The skunk was approaching.  I froze immediately.  I couldn’t leave and come back later because my keys were stuck in the bike lock.  I had to get the lock opened.

I waited until the skunk seemed to be distracted, and then I started to wiggle my keys in the lock.  The noise alerted the skunk to my presence.  It looked at me, but it didn’t move any closer.  I was eventually able to turn the key in the lock.  The skunk started to slowly walk in my direction.  I slowly took the lock off of the bike, and I slowly reached up to grab the handlebars of the bike.  Then, I grabbed the bike and ran.  I was able to escape without being sprayed by the skunk, and my mission was a success.

Psychiatric Assessment

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About a week ago, I had an appointment with a psychiatrist.  Yesterday, my case worker went over the psychiatrist’s assessment of me.  I found the results kind of depressing.  I have four psychological disorders, and I function about half as well as most people.

The four disorders I have are: recurrent major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.  I’m actually still researching these because I don’t totally understand what all of this means.  My case worker knows that I like to know what is going on.  He knows I like to learn everything I can about whatever condition it is that I have, so he wrote them all down for me.  Once I learn a little more about them, I’ll probably make a blog post about each of them.  But for now, I will tell you what I do know about them.

Major depressive disorder is what you probably know of just “depression.”  Usually, people who have major depressive disorder experience an extremely low mood for at least two weeks.  Then these people, with treatment, come out of their depression.  Since mine is recurring, I will have depressive episodes than can last for a few weeks to a few months.  Then I will come out of this depressed state.  It’s not bipolar because I never experience the extreme highs that come with it.

Dysthymic disorder is similar to major depressive disorder, but it is less severe and lasts longer.  Dysthymic disorder lasts at least two years.  Although, I have most likely been dealing with it for much longer than that.  It is characterized by a low mood that is relatively consistent over a long period of time.

Panic disorder means that I will experience intense moments of panic, and I will sometimes have panic attacks, for seemingly no reason.  All of a sudden, I will have catastrophic thoughts that will cause me to freak out a little.  These thoughts will be something like: “Something bad is going to happen,” or “I am going to die.”  I can go from 0 to 100 in 30 seconds.

Agoraphobia is common when you have panic disorder.  In fact, it is more common to have both than it is to have panic disorder on its own.  Agoraphobia means that I have a fear of being able to escape.  This means that I will feel panicked if I feel like I am stuck in a place that I can’t get out of.  This means crowds, the subway, etc.  With me, though, I often feel the most panicked when I am alone with a stranger.  I am afraid that they will try to do something to hurt me, and that I won’t be able to escape them because nobody will be around to help.  The reason that agoraphobia is common with panic disorder is that because I sometimes have panic attacks for no reason, I worry that I will have one in public and not be able to leave the situation.  For example, if I have a panic attack in a mall, everyone will see.  It might freak some of the people out, the strangers around me won’t know what to do, and I will be embarrassed when it’s over.  I’m usually a lot more calm when I am with someone I feel comfortable around.

Anyway, I hope to learn a lot more about these disorders so that I can find out the best way to combat them.  I will keep you posted!