Please note that there is sensitive material in this post.
TW on everything just in case I miss one.
So, I got a bunch of these questions from a fellow mental health blogger and some others I added myself, but I figured a good way to start this journey with you would be to kinda share my own story. It is cathartic for me and in turn, maybe it could help someone else feel less alone and more hopeful in general and maybe even inspire you to open up about your own experiences, but if you don’t, that’s ok too 🙂 Your story is yours. This is mine, in Q+A form.
What mental health problems do you suffer from?
PTSD, Manic Depression (also known as Bipolar Disorder), Depression and Anxiety.
When did it start?
I remember feeling (what I now know to be) depression as early as age 7, around the time I was first sexually abused. I had nightmares every single night (still do) and would wake up sad every morning, feeling sick, like something was missing in my life. At least, that is how I described it then, and it is still pretty accurate. Those feelings grew over time, and at 15, I began self-harming pretty regularly on my wrists and thighs. I remember racing thoughts, bouts of mania, suicidal ideology, paranoia, anxiety, etc. slowly accumulating during that time as well.
Did you seek any help?
When I was a child, no help was made available to me. It wasn’t until I started self harming, and then in turn, ran away from home, that anyone thought to get me some help. I went inpatient at a behavioral hospital for 2 months.
What about since?
I am constantly working to improve my mental health now in any way I can. Chances are, if it exists, I have tried it. From vitamins, diet change, meditation, yoga, EMDR, hospitalization, talk therapy, and medication, I have tried a bunch of things and continue my care to this day. I have a psychiatrist that I like, am currently looking for a good psychologist as well, and just taking one day at a time trying to learn to use my voice so others don’t have to which doesn’t sound like it would help, but it honestly does. What I do with CB has been a huge light in the shadows of my mental struggles.
Are you on any medication?
Yes, I currently take one pill daily to regulate my serotonin levels, one mood stabilizer and one that helps me sleep so I don’t have nightmares. I have taken several over the past 15 years and it quite literally took this long to find medications that did not have intense side effects or make things worse.
Other than medication what else do you do to alleviate your depression?
Honestly, just allowing myself to feel it helps to move the process along a little faster. I like to audibly tell myself that I am ok, that the bad thoughts are only thoughts, not reality, etc. and when I am in a low, I try to remember that next, a high is coming,. I just buckle down, tell those close to me that I am having a “bad brain day” and try my best to coexist alongside it until it subsides. Journaling and creating art help too. Napping too, I allow myself to nap. So often I feel guilty about wanting to sleep, but I quite literally need it to live, and sometimes you just have to nap it up.
What about with your anxiety?
I (try to) properly communicate them with the people that I care about, I set boundaries in my life to limit my exposure to triggers and allow myself enough time before a potentially upsetting situation to prepare myself mentally for it, and I ask for help when I need it. Shout out to all of my friends who will come and meet me at the door of the restaurant just so I don’t have to walk in alone.
What things do you like to do to relax/ improve your mood?
I create art, I make people laugh, I hug my children, and I talk to all of you. I really can’t overstate how much of a difference having a safe place makes on my life.
How often would you say that you have good and bad days?
At this point in my life, I would say 75% of my days are good ones and I am grateful.
Do you have any triggers?
They vary from day to day, but my family is a big and pretty constant one, crowded places on my bad days, repetitive noises, not feeling like I have any control (i.e. when the movers moved all my furniture and I just had to sit and hope nothing bad happened).
If you you could say something to someone going through the same thing, what would it be?
It is not fair that you have to deal with so much.
The bad, self-loathing thoughts you keep having are irrational, and they will pass.
Your body doesn’t deserve for you to hate it.
You are beautiful and you have people who care about you.
Try not to be disheartened if some people do not know how to handle you.
You never know what another person is carrying around.
You are allowed to feel bad when life is hard, but don’t wallow.
Do not hurt other people just because you are hurting.
This journey will take time, but don’t give up.
Meet people where they are, be a light when you can.
Work on loving yourself as you are, and everything else will fall into place.
Please feel free to fill this out with your own story!
Leave it below in the comments or you can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org future sharing on the blog,
or if you’d prefer to keep it between us, that’s okay too.
Let’s grow in our storytelling. XO