Mental Health

My Time in the Psych Ward – Part One

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Writing this is honestly more for myself than anyone else, but hopefully it will help some of you who do read it. I wanted to document the two weeks I spent in the Mental Hospital as a way to process it and remember it. This was a very major event in my life and even if no one else around me talks about it, I want people to know that I’m not ashamed of what I went through. Thanks for reading!

April 14, 2015

I had had a really good day actually. I had spent the day visiting my parents, I was really happy during the two hour drive home, I remember singing and stopping to take a picture of the river because it was pretty. I got back to my apartment and found out that my roommate wasn’t going to be home that night, so decided to spend the night watching movies and painting my nails.

Things were going great for awhile, and then my brain decided to take over… after that, like many nights before, I just sat there crying and begging it to shut up and leave me alone. All I could think about was how I was a failure, how overwhelming my life was, how I just wanted it to stop, how everyone would be better off without me.

I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, pretty severely for the past 3 years and to some extent all of my life. I had moved away from my home town and I was having trouble figuring out life in my new town. Because of my anxiety I hadn’t been able to get a job and my parents were still paying for everything. I was also getting married in just two months. Getting married was something I was excited about, I loved him, but I also felt someone pushed into it, like it was my only choice. And of course wedding planning and a long distence relationship was difficult. I was overwhelmed and I felt guilty for existing.

Suicidal thoughts were not new for me. Especially late at night, but I hadn’t gone through with anything yet.

I had decided that I was going to start saving up my prescriptions so that, if I wanted to, I could take them all at once and just be done with everything. I hadn’t actually done this yet though and I didn’t have that many pills in my cupboard that night. I remember searching on my phone to see if just maybe what I did have would be enough to kill me.

I had tried texting my Fiancé, my friends, anyone I could think of in my contacts, I just wanted to talk to someone. I also sent a text to a suicide hotline. But it was already early in the morning and no one was replying.

I was so tired, and so sick of all these thoughts and my life. I took one of my pills… telling myself I would only take enough to help me sleep and stop thinking. Then I took another, and another. By the time I had taken all of the pills I had, they had started working enough to calm down my brain. To the point where I was no longer sure I wanted to die and I was afraid to fall asleep in case I didn’t wake up. Somehow I managed to stay awake for hours despite all of the pills I had taken (usually just one of the pills would knock me out for the night).

The hotline I had texted finally texted back and I told them what I had done. I also texted my mother saying I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to go to the hospital but because of my anxiety I couldn’t bring myself to call someone (hence the reason why I TEXTED a suicide hotline haha) so the woman from the hotline called an ambulance for me.

I was disoriented so I’m not sure how long it actually took but it felt like just a couple of minutes had gone by when a police officer showed up banging on my door and came in. He walked me out of my apartment to the ambulance. It was probably eight in the morning at this point.

Once I was in the ambulance I signed some papers and they took me to the ER. At this point everything starts to get really blurry, I think they tested my urine, and somehow ended up in an ugly purple hospital gown (those things make you feel more naked in them than if you had nothing on). And then I just sat in the hospital bed in the ER. They apparently asked me to admit myself to the Psych Ward but I don’t remember that part. They sent a guy over from the Mental Ward to watch me ( I found out later that his name was Colin). He was asking me questions to help me stay awake and I managed to mumbled back.

My roommate and another friend came to the ER and sat with me. At one point I asked her if she had seen the girl who just walked by outside, she said “yes”, I said “she had really pink hair, that was crazy!” My friend told me that “her hair was brown”. I was totally hallucinating. Later I also said something about how they had only been there for a few minutes and I was told that they had stayed for a couple of hours! Time was moving so much faster for me. My parents showed up within what felt like minuets even though it would have taken them two hours to drive there.

I eventually was taken in a car to the Psych Ward and asked a lot of questions and who knows what else, I don’t remember any of it. Apparently I talked to staff and doctors who I didn’t even remember meeting later.

Finally I was allowed to go to sleep! It was sometime in the afternoon by now (I believe) and I had been awake since the morning before.

I slept until sometime the next day when I got up to stumble into the bathroom and throw up. I pushed the buzzer and a nurse brought me some ice chips to eat.

The rest of the day is a blur, I don’t remember what I did or anything.

End of Part One.

Do any of you have experiences with staying at a Mental Hospital that you would like to share? I would love to read them!

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Showing Your Self Harm Scars

  1. Tell a close friend or family member and ask them to go with you.
  2. Realize that you’re in control. Bring along a sweater that you can put on if you start to feel anxious, or wear long sleeves pushed up that you can roll down when you feel uncomfortable.
  3. Try showing them around strangers first. You don’t know these people, you don’t have to talk to them, they’re not going to notice your scars, and if for some reason they do? They have no reason to comment on it. And, besides, you’ll probably never see them again.
  4. Visualize showing your scars and having it go well… if you tell your brain that it is going to be ok? Chances are it will start to believe that. And believing that you’re going to be okay is going to increase your chances of actually being okay when you’re in that situation (:
  5. Think of a few replys you can use in response to any possible questions you might get. If you are worried about someone asking about  your scars (which again, chances are most people won’t) it helps to feel prepared by keep in mind a simple answer or two. And remember that you DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER. This is your body, you’re in change, and you don’t have to share anything that you don’t want to. A simple, “I’d rather not talk about it” and then changing the subject is fine. Something I plan to use if anyone ever asks me what happened is, “I got in a fight with myself” and leave it at that. To me that feels comfortable. So find something that will work for you, it can be witty, serious, sarcastic, or maybe your answer is to NOT answer. It’s whatever works for you!
  6. Before hanging out with groups of your friends it might be helpful to (in a calm, one on one, neutral setting where you are comfortable) explain about your self harm to a few close friends first, so that they’re not surprised when they see them and can be there to help support you when showing them around others.
  7. Consider hiding or drawing attention away from them. Bracelets, bandages, makeup, jewelry, creative clothing choices, haha whatever it is, might not completely hide your scars but they can make them less noticeable. Do you plan on swimming but have scars you can’t cover up? Draw a stick figure on a different body part. Sure the scars are still there but theres something else for others to look at. Paint your nails! Get a tattoo! Wear an outfit that you feel good in! I don’t know! Just do whatever you feel will make it easier for you (:
  8. Accept your scars. Yes they’re there. No they’re probably not the most attractive things ever (although I know some people like them). But they show that you have gone through something difficult and made it. You haven’t given up and you’re still trying. You should be proud of that.
  9. Think of something you enjoy doing, that requires showing your scars, and start looking forward to it! Make plans and think about how much fun it will be and all of the things you’re going to do. Look at the big picture. Your scars are just a small part of that day and don’t need to interfere with the rest.
  10. Go try it! Take a chance and go somewhere, for a few minutes or a full day and then tell me how it went! (Here’s how my first day of showing scars went) You can feel good about yourself for overcoming such a big hurdle (:

What has helped you to brave the public eye? Why do you want to be able to show them? Or why do you not?

You can’t show your cuts in public!

Yesterday’s agenda: Travel 2 hours away to go see my therapist, do some shopping afterwards.

Yesterday’s temperature: 78 degrees.

Yesterday’s main issue: Ran out of lightweight long sleeved t-shirts to wear (why can I never remember to do laundry??), grabbed a sweatshirt on my way out the door though.

Result of yesterday’s temperature and issue: It ended up being too freaking hot to wear my sweatshirt!

I digress, basically, I have never shown my cuts, burns, or scars (which cover mainly my left arm and right thigh) to anyone other than my parents and boyfriend. The self harming thing has been a lot better lately but I did end up cutting a couple of times last week. I’ve thought a lot about showing my scars in public, since I’m trying to stop and summer is getting really close and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to avoid it. I’ve never considered showing them before they were scars though or before I was done self harming.

Apparently though, yesterday I didn’t really care. I was going to a city where I didn’t know hardly anyone, and the people I did see (or who saw me) I’d never see again. So whyyy would I care if they saw my cuts?

Considering that I am usually ridiculously nervous just going out in public where there are *gasp* people! This was pretty shocking even to me.

First place we went into I did get nervous but as the day went on (and my therapist assured me that people don’t notice us as much as we think they do) and I realized no one was paying any attention to my uncovered arm? I was able to relax and be pretty okay with it (:

I still don’t plan on showing my scars around people I know until cutting is something in my past, but going out yesterday has given me a little more confidence for when I DO decide to show them.

In conclusion, do what makes YOU comfortable. Anyone who does judge isn’t worth your time and doesn’t really care about you so why should their opinion matter? And for the most part, they’re not going to notice anyway (: Hang in there!

Have any of you, that self injure, shown your scars in public?

My Goals for the Week

medium_5820119430I’m doing okay (:

I went to see my therapist today and even though I’ve had a few not-so-great days, I’ve been able to recover from them fairly quickly so that they haven’t turned into bad weeks. Instead of being triggered by something, getting really upset, and then having EVERYthing get progressively worse from there… I’ve been able to go back to “normal” shortly afterward. This doesn’t mean I’ve been blissfully happy all week but I’ve been pretty stable with only slight ups and down opposed to my usual highs and super low, long lasting lows. It’s nice… I feel more like me (:

All through my 5 months of weekly therapy we’ve focused on mt anxiety, depression, cutting, panic attacks, emotions, and techniques for dealing with all of these. Anytime something came up about any abuse I may have experienced when I was little, my therapist would say something like, “That’s something that we can start to talk about when you’re ready and feel you are at a point when you can handle it”. Which makes complete sense, bringing up something like that and trying to process it when you’re depressed or anxious isn’t going to go well at all! Today, though, she brought the subject up briefly and even asked me how I would feel about exploring other therapy options in relation to that. While I said I didn’t want to get into that right now (because my summer is going to be pretty busy and potentially stressful, and I want to be able to focus primarily on just that when I decide to tlk and think about it) I’m so excited that she thought I was at a point where I could deal with processing something like past sexual abuse…

It means I’ve made progress!!

I really have made a lot  progress. It hasn’t always felt like it over the months, I’ve had some really bad low points, but I’ve worked really hard to understand what’s going on with my mind and what I can do to help it and I’m starting to learn how to even apply some of those things I’ve found. It’s a lot of work! Anyone trying to recover from a  mental illness will understand that. It can be hard too because most people around you can’t see the amount of effort you’re putting into getting better because for the most part the work all takes place in your head!

So I just want to say to anyone who is working towards getting better… good job! I know how hard it is and how mentally (and physically) exhausting and draining it can be. You should be proud of yourself for putting forth that effort to do what’s good for you (:

Anyway, since I have decided I want to focus on just staying where I am at right now, working on using my relaxation techniques, trying to stay on a good sleep schedule, ect, I thought I would share my list on specific things I want to work on over the next couple of weeks…

  • Acceptance. I’m going through a lot right now. I’m doing really good though so don’t let minor setbacks upset you too much… have a bad day? Feel guilty for something you did? Acknowledge it and move on, you have tomorrow to try again (:
  • Sleep. I was doing good for awhile at turning my computer off at 9 and spending a couple hours trying to relax so I could fall asleep before 12 or 1 in the morning. I need to get back into that.
  • Headaches. For awhile I was doing good at noticing when I was starting to feel anxious or down and then using the appropriate coping skills to deal with it. I have had quite a few especially bad headaches over the last couple of weeks though that have made it hard for me to want to DO anything when I notice my mental state dropping. Physical pain makes it hard to deal with mental and emotional pain. So! Work on a few ideas for coping with headaches (not like I haven’t been doing this for years… I’ll keep trying tho).
  • Balance. I have a couple of trips to make over the next few weeks, so I’m going to be busy. Being busy can lead to stress and anxiety and a physical and mental crash afterwards. Try to pay attention to how I’m feeling while I’m away from home and take a break when I need to. Don’t overdo it! (;

So there you have it. Some of the things I am going to try to work on, think about, and keep in my this week. Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what kinds of things you would put on your list for the week! (:
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Take Time to Focus on YOU

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It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary. – Mandy Hale

Many of us grow up being taught to be selfless. To give of yourself to others and to put their needs ahead of your own. I agree with this for the most part and know from experience that helping others can bring you real happiness, distract you from your own problems, and help put your problems them into perspective when you see that, really, everyone has struggles of some kind or another and we need to help each other through them.

However, (yes, here comes the “but”) when you are dealing with a mental illness you need to IGNORE some of this. Telling yourself and hearing that you need to just start thinking about others and realize that “there’s always someone who has it worse”? Isn’t going to help. If you’re depressed or anxious you’re probably overwhelmed enough as it is. You don’t need added pressure. It’s okay to focus on yourself. You’re not going to be any help to anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself first. So don’t try and don’t feel bad about it. Realize that you’re taking time to learn to be easier on yourself, to take care of yourself and to make YOU happy so that, later, you can focus on and help your family, friends, ect, better than you’re able to right now.

You need to be able to love and care for yourself in order to love and take care of anyone else properly. This doesn’t mean cutting off all human ties and relationships, but it means letting THEM help YOU for a change. Allow yourself to take the time to do things that you enjoy and find relaxing. To do the things you know you need to in order to get through this. In the long run it will benefit both you and those who you are close to.

I’m discovering that happiness is contagious. I had to stop worrying so much about what everyone else was thinking of me. I had to stop stressing about how I thought I was making them unhappy. Then, when I accepted that was just how things were right now and learned that they didn’t love me any less for it? When I stopped trying to hide how I was feeling in an attempt keep people from leaving me? I realized that THEY were happier because I was happier. Overall it means less stress for everyone and allows me to relax and be okay with taking as much time as I need to care for me! (:

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Well now they know.

Let it go!

– Frozen

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Natural Supplements for Anxiety and Depression

medium_8116279888I have always been interested in more natural/holistic approaches for just about everything. Growing up with a chronic physical illness, I would spend my days home from school reading about home remedies and studying (yes, studying… I have the highlighter marks and notes to prove it) books like, “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”. Learning how to help my body function at its best without the use of chemicals has always appealed to me.

So, when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety I started searching for things I could do or take to make it better. At one point I found a few pins on Pinterest (check out TAD on pinterest!) listing natural treatments for anxiety and depression. I spent some time researching each one, picked the ones I felt would be the most helpful, ordered them, and now a couple weeks after taking them I am feeling a LOT better. My mood has improved drastically and I have actually been sleeping at night.

In case it might be helpful to anyone reading I thought I’d share what I have been taking and why!

Basic Multivitamin 

Before I started adding on specific things that I hoped would help with my anxiety and depression I wanted to have a good “foundation”.

People have differing views on the effectiveness and necessity of vitamins, common beliefs being that they are not absorbed or that you get enough nutrition from your food. I personally feel that if you are taking a good quality product (I use Standard Process supplements which are actually whole food pills.) your body can absorb it, and that in a typical diet and considering the quality (or lack of) in our food, it would be nearly impossible to get what you need without added help.

B-Vitamins

B-Vitamins are necessary for the production and regulation of neurotransmitters connected to depression. B-vitamin deficiency has been linked with mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.” (see first resource link) Anyone with depression knows about the “chemical imbalance” in their brain, basically your neurotransmitters are misfiring… B-vitamins are one of the things that can help correct them. Yay!

medium_4398689320Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin! I live in Montana and I have been told by one of my doctors that almost everyone in Montana is vitamin D deficient due to lack of sunlight. Michael Holick, MD, PhD says, “One of the effects that vitamin D has on the brain is to improve serotonin levels — which is the same chemical that many antidepressants act on.” 

Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your brains health (as well as you hair, skin, and other things. Added bonus!) and for regulating your mood. If you have a mental illness it makes sense to take something to improve its health right?

Magnesium

Magnesium calms and nourishes the nervous system. It’s beneficial for anyone who has panic attacks and/or anxiety. I’ve also found that taking it about an hour before bed helps me to sleep at night, and that has been one of the best feelings ever.

That’s my list of the things I have been taking on a daily basis. If you’d like more specifics on what brands, amounts, ect I’ve been taking please leave a comment. I really do think that they’ve drastically affected my depression and anxiety for the better. Hopefully by continuing to take these I will be able to avoid going on any antidepressants. Have you found any vitamins or herbal supplements to be helpful to you? Leave me a comment and I’ll look into them for myself! Thanks for reading (:

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I recommend doing your own research and talking to a doctor before starting on any supplements (especially if you are already on medication as they may interfere), and never go off your medication without consulting a physician first.

Resources used.

http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/conditions/anxiety-depression
http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20120627/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-depression
http://www.besthealthmag.ca/embrace-life/mental-health/8-nutrients-to-help-beat-anxiety

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I Don’t Want to Take an Antidepressant

medium_344574172I have be trying to weigh the pros and cons of antidepressants for a few months now. They will be suggested by my parents or my therapist or some random well meaning person, and I’ll think about it. Sometimes I decided that, yes, I could look into them. Then I go to the doctor or do research on them and decide that I still don’t really want to take any.

Maybe seeing all of my thoughts in written form will help. So here are my thoughts on why I don’t want to take an antidepressant and why I might end up taking one anyway.

Past Experiences

About a year and a half ago I went on an antidepressant. Not for depression but for migraines (I was told that I have “constant chronic transitory migraines” but thats a mouthful so I usually just refer to it as a constant headache, that’s easier) which I’ve suffered from for years. (I was also dealing with depression at this point, I just didn’t know it yet). The neurologist that I went to recommended I try an SSRI. I wasn’t super thrilled to try a medication at that point either, for the most part I like to stick to things that are as natural as possible, and the potential side-effects scared me. He told me, however, that side effects with this prescription were pretty rare and any I did happen to experience would most likely be very mild.

So I tried it. My reaction?

It was a NIGHTMARE.

Both literally and figuratively. I spent six weeks completely miserable. It threw off my sleep patterns completely, I couldn’t sleep at all at night, was groggy and lethargic all the time, fell asleep at dinner a few times. I didn’t eat and lost quite a bit of weight. My life was on hold and felt like I was moving in slow motion for a month and a half. Basically my antidepressant made me depressed.

After starting the medication I started having really crazy dreams, some of which were pretty entertaining… a t-rex in a furniture store, several alien invasions, and being adopted by a family of gorillas, (whose names were Chewy, Bacca, and Anakin) were a few. I also became spiderman and fought off purple goop in one. Haha yes I sound like a nerd but they were cool (;

The downside of these awesome dreams was that I was also having nightmares. Making them worse was the fact that I had fairly recently remembered some past trauma that I was trying to process and deal with. When I then started having extremely vivid and realistic dreams about this my life kind of fell apart. Trying to distinguish what memories were real and what may not have been real were made worse when they became mixed up with my dreams that felt like memories.

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Although I, of course, stopped taking Prozac after the six weeks, the nightmares that it triggered have yet to end over a year later. Waking up in the middle of the night crying and wanting to scream was not listed as a side effect. I’m afraid of what I’ll have to live with after taking the next one.

More recently I went to my local medical doctor to ask about options when it comes to antidepressants and the first thing he said?

“You look too happy to be depressed.”

Really? Reallly?? Ugh. He then proceeded to fire off questions and tried to give me a prescription without knowing hardly anything about my circumstances or needs. I told him I didn’t want it and left.

To Take or Not to Take?

These experiences, along with worrying how an antidepressant may affect me or change my mood scares me. I am aware that it can take several tries to find the right pill that works for you. At this point, with as low as I have been lately, I see that as meaning weeks and weeks of torture trying to find it though. And in the process, if I get on one that I have adverse reactions to… it might push me over the edge and increase my already high chances of suicide.

I know that I have to do something drastic though. And while exercise, nutrition and therapy are great for mild to moderate depression, it’s not always enough for severe depression. I would like it to be, but I don’t care enough at this point to engage in anything that would be helpful. My therapy can’t help at this point because I don’t have the motivation to work with it like I need to.

I am going to make an appointment through my therapist for a Doctor she knows who is specialized in mental health this week. Hopefully I will have a better overall experience this way since I’ll have support from her and the Doctors should actually know what they’re talking about and be able to help me. I hope.

Am I crazy for not wanting to take an antidepressant? It really scares me. I don’t know if I have any other options at this point if I’m going to get through this though. If any of you reading this have any suggestions of experiences you’d like to share they’d be appreciated. Thanks!

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