Summer fun with The Umbrella Academy

I’m not a huge fan of the summer. At all. I mean, at least when it’s cold you can put on more layers, but when it’s too hot there’s only a certain amount of clothes you can take off, and you’d still be hot! However, there are some advantages to this season. For one, I don’t have to worry about extra accessories like a scarf or gloves when I’m going out. Another big one is getting a chance to bond with my family. Summer is usually when work and school would slow down a bit for my parents and siblings, so it’s a great time to get some bonding moments in! Our favorite way to bond is by watching shows and movies together, and right now my sister and I are watching The Umbrella Academy!

Birds of a feather flock together. People are generally able to bond best when they have interests in common. For this reason, my siblings and I love sharing movies and shows with each other, especially shows! Clips from the Umbrella Academy started popping up in my YouTube feed, and they were really funny and interesting. The videos and the comments under them made my curiosity pique, so instead of spoiling anymore of the show for myself, I decided to just watch it. At that point, two seasons had already been released. I binged all of the episodes, and got through them pretty quickly. I told my sister about the show, and she decided to give it a chance too. Now she loves the show as much as I do! 

If I had to describe the show in one word it would be chaotic, but chaotic in a good way! The show is so fun! However, what makes watching it even more fun is having someone to enjoy it with. It was so fun having someone to talk to about the first two seasons, and just as fun to have someone to wait with impatiently for the next season! Now that the third season is out, we’re back to binging the Umbrella Academy, and my sister and I both agree that it was another amazing season! We both can’t wait for season 4! Next up, Stranger Things! What shows are you guys binging right now? What are your favorite ways to bond with family and friends? See you in the next post! 

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Mental Health: Stigma, Misconceptions, and Research

Picture taken from Pixabay

I started mental health treatment in 2020, and it has been a very interesting journey. I began therapy for my depression and was quickly diagnosed with major depressive disorder, however, I was soon also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder after spending some time in treatment (I go into a bit more detail about my my experience with receiving the diagnosis and what borderline personality disorder is in a previous post). My first time hearing about BPD was when I joined the blogging community, but when I received my diagnosis, I still didn’t know much about the condition. I decided to do a little research on it and learned a lot. Some of the information was useful and interesting, others not so much. 

One interesting fact I learned is that BPD and bipolar disorder are similar in some ways. In fact, sometimes a person with BPD might be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and vice versa. One similarity between BPD and bipolar disorder is that people with the condition have a lot of mood swings, sometimes severe mood swings. I’m sure a lot of people have heard statements like “she/he is so bipolar today” before. That of course is a huge misconception that many people have of bipolar disorder. I can’t speak for people with the condition, because I don’t have it, but I do know that people with bipolar disorder don’t flip from being happy to being angry or sad in matter of seconds.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by swings between extreme highs and lows. The moments of extreme highs are called manic episodes and the moments of extreme lows are depressive episodes. In order for a person to be diagnosed with with bipolar disorder, they need to have experienced at least one manic episode, and the episode needs to have lasted at least a week. A depressive episode needs to have lasted at least two weeks. There is also bipolar disorder with mixed episodes (when a depressive episode and a manic episode occur at the same time) and bipolar disorder with rapid cycling (when a person has four or more manic episodes in a year), but these forms of bipolar disorder are also very different from how the general public understands the condition. Changes in mood happen much more swiftly with BPD. A person with BPD can switch from being stable to being completely sad to happy within hours. This is due to the fact that BPD mood swings tend to be influenced by events more than bipolar mood swings are. Bipolar mood swings can happen suddenly with seemingly no trigger. With all this in mind, it would probably be more accurate to say “that person is so Borderline right now”, although it would, of course, still be very wrong to say this too. There are a number of symptoms a person has to be showing before a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be made, and the same goes for borderline personality disorder. Also, throwing the name of a diagnosis around and making statements such as “I’m so bipolar right now” minimizes the experiences of people who really have the condition.

Another important piece of information I found during my research on borderline personality disorder is that the condition is very stigmatized, even amongst mental health professionals. When it comes to BPD, I think many people fit into two categories: they either don’t know about the condition, or they do and have negative views on it. Although, thanks to the recent Johnny Depp v Amber Heard trial, it is very likely that a lot of people who didn’t know about borderline personality disorder know about it now. The mention of BPD during the trial definitely did not help with the stigma associated with the disorder, only seeming to reinforce the idea that people with BPD are manipulative and should be avoided. In the past, even some mental health professionals would try to avoid people with BPD, considering them too difficult to work with. I even came across a recent article warning people about getting into a relationship with someone who has BPD.

The truth is that mental illness and a borderline personality diagnosis does not equal abusive or vice versa. If a person does happen to have BPD or any other mental illness and is also abusive, their mental illness is not an excuse for abusive behavior. An abusive person is just that: an abusive person. Also, a person with BPD is not a hopeless case. There is a particular type of therapy treatment just for people with the disorder called Dialectal Behavioral Therapy. With treatment and support, a person with BPD can develop the skills they need to live productive lives. 

All in all, one big take away from my research on borderline personality disorder is that views on mental illness are still pretty warped. We’re much more open to discussing mental illness now, however, there is still a lot of misconceptions and stigma around. 

I’ll wear it with Pride

“It looks like someone tried to chop your head off”, my father joked.

He was referring to the new scar on my neck. I’ve mentioned before in my blog that I have a a genetic disorder called Turner Syndrome. This condition can lead to a lot of complications, and one of those complications include issues with the thyroid gland. Blood tests were showing issues with my thyroid for a while. My doctor first decided to monitor the condition, but blood tests started to show that it was slowly getting worse and worse over time. She eventually suggested surgery. 

For those who are familiar with surgery procedures, I’m sure you already know that a lot of doctor appointments are involved to prepare a patient for surgery. Not only did I have an appointment to meet with the surgeon, I had a lot of appointments to make sure I was in good shape for surgery to begin with. It was definitely a stressful time, but I was just happy that my thyroid issue was being dealt with. I was so relieved, in fact, that there was no room in my mind to really think about the scar the surgery will leave.

After the surgery, my next priority was making sure I was getting rest in order to get better. Plus, there were bandages covering up the surgical scar. It wasn’t until about two weeks after the surgery when my doctor removed the bandage and stitches, but I didn’t see the scar until I reached home. 

“Awww. Now you’re gonna have a scar.”, one of my siblings said.

The healing process proved my sibling right of course. The surgical incision has healed pretty well, but it definitely left a scar. It also managed to form into a small, lumpy keloid that disturbs the otherwise smooth skin on my neck. However, my sibling’s lamentation over my scar is not what stuck with me during the healing process but her words right after:

“But I guess as people age and go through life signs of what they’ve been through start to show”.

Sometimes, what we’ve been through in life definitely does leave scars, whether physical or mental, and these scars tell our story. They are a reminder that we’ve been through some rough times, but we get through them, and that means we can weather through anything else that comes our way as well. This is how I’ve come to see my surgical scar. I thought I’d share this to give an idea of what’s been going on with me lately, and why I’ve been gone for a while. I also wanted to encourage anyone dealing with a rough situation right now that you will get through it even if it leaves a scar. Hope this post did the job, and I’ll see you in the next one! 

Mental Health 3: The Journey Continues

I always knew I was different from my peers when I was a child. What I did not know was why. A blood test taken during my teen years eventually showed that I have a genetic disorder, and that answered a lot of questions for me. I finally knew the answer to why. Receiving a diagnosis of a mental illness is no different. 

I have been seeing a counselor for a little over a year now. My biggest issue when I started going to therapy was depression, and that was the focus of my sessions. However, as time went on, I started talking with my therapist about other issues outside of my depression as well. Around March this year, my therapist added borderline personality disorder to my major depressive disorder diagnosis. 

The American National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes the disorder as thus:

“Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition characterized by difficulties regulating emotion. This means that people who experience BPD feel emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event.

This difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, stormy relationships and intense emotional responses to stressors. Struggling with self-regulation can also result in dangerous behaviors such as self-harm (e.g. cutting)”. 

People with BPD can be extremely sensitive, and HelpGuide describes having the condition to “having an exposed nerve ending. Small things can trigger intense reactions”. 

After doing a bit of research on BPD, I felt my new diagnosis was accurate and described me in a way. After diagnosing me with BPD, my therapist changed my therapy sessions slightly. Research shows that Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is the most effective therapy treatment for patients with BPD. In fact, DBT was created to treat patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT helps patients with borderline personality disorder regulate their emotions “… – it encourages them to solve their problems. It focuses on skills training to equip clients with tools to effectively cope with their issues. DBT also helps them create long-term goals and work towards it”. My therapist started incorporating some DBT techniques into my therapy sessions, and they have definitely been a helpful new addition to the skills I have already been learning. I feel like a puzzle piece that has been missing a long time has finally been found, and now I have all the pieces I need to reach a place of mental stability soon. 

Life is a journey, and we never really stop learning. My BPD diagnosis is helping on my journey of self discovery the same way my genetic disorder diagnosis did. Answering the “why” questions (why I am I having these problems I’m facing), leads to answers for the “how” questions (I know why I’m having these problems. Now how can I fix them). Now the road to recovery can really begin.

Until next time,

Charli ❤️

Sisters no Matter the Color

There are a number of leading ladies throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some are beautiful love interests, some are relatives of the heroes, and some are heroes themselves. Two leading ladies that caught my attention are Cate Blanchet and Lupita Nyong’o.

When the first Lord of the Rings movie (The Fellowship of the Ring) was released, a close relative of mine was the first to see it. He told me about how much he enjoyed the movie, and that he couldn’t wait for part two. As he told me about the movie, he mentioned a good looking blond Elf (not Orlando Bloom), who became one of the protagonist’s many friends. 

For those not familiar with the world of the Lord of the Rings, the protagonist, Frodo Baggins, is tasked with carrying a ring that corrupts its wearers to a place where it can be destroyed. During his journey, he meets an elf named Galadriel. Galadriel gets temporarily corrupted by the ring, mentioning that the ring would make her a beautiful queen. 

“She was already very beautiful”, my relative said. When I finally got a chance to see the movie for myself, I had to agree with him. That is how I was first introduced to the actress Cate Blanchett. 

In 2013, the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” was released, with actress Lupita Nyong’o in the role of a slave named Patsey. It was Nyongo’s breakthrough role. She received many accolades for her performance, including an Academy Award. As a Black woman myself, I was very happy to see Nyong’o get the support and recognition she was receiving, and very excited to see what the future had in store for her. 

Cate Blanchet and Lupita Nyong’o are very different women from very different worlds. Blanchet is from England, Nyong’o is from Africa. Balnchet has very fair skin and silky hair, Nyong’o has very dark skin and fluffy hair. They are very different women, but are equally beautiful with equal value. 

The world is a rainbow, and no two people are exactly alike. Even twins have characteristics that set them apart. The world would be a completely boring place if everyone was completely the same. One thing we all have in common, however, is that we are all unique and have something special to offer. No person is better than another. We are all equals. We all deserve to feel like kings and queens, and it starts by seeing each other in that light. Regardless of your background you, dear reader, are my brother and sister. Thankyou for visiting. Until next time. 

Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald

Drunk History Episode “Legends” Season 4 Episode 2 by Comedy Central

How many of you have heard of Marilyn Monroe? How many of you have heard of Ella Fitzgerald? How many of you knew that these two legends were close friends? I first learned this fact through an episode of the show Drunk History. I found this little gem recently. It aired in 2016, so I’m late seeing it, but I thought the episode was pretty funny. I also thought there was a wonderful lesson that could be learned from it: sometimes we have more in common than we think.  

Checkout Drunk history video above, if you haven’t seen it already, to learn more about the friendship of two legends.

2021: My Hiatus and Looking Ahead

I know I’m late, but Happy 2021 everybody! Last year was definitely rough for everyone, so I hope you were all able to have a good start to the year! Here’s to hoping 2021 will be better and brighter!

I know I’ve been away for a while. I really needed the hiatus to focus, and my focus last year was on my holistic health, meaning my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I’ve reached a point in my life that I used to call “the pause button period”. Life slowed down a bit for me, and that left me feeling worthless and useless. My plans for my future were not coming to fruition like I wanted them to. Unexpected events started to send me on a downward spiral. I felt like a lot of stumbling blocks were being placed in my way. Then the pandemic started, and everything slowed down even more. It seemed like my life was put on pause. 

Little did I know that this pause was actually a blessing. As some of you probably already know, I finally decided to start seeing a therapist. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing that I’m at a slow point in my life right now, because one thing I learned from my sessions is that going through therapy is not easy! You have to work hard, and you have to practice a lot! Change is not going to happen over night! The job of the therapist is to give you the tools you need to mange your mental illness. Your job is to practice using those tools so that using them when you need them becomes second nature. In short, I had been neglecting my mental health slightly for years, and this break has given me a chance to fix that. 

This little hiatus period also allowed me to do a little introspection. I have been spending time asking myself a lot of questions trying plan my future and take control of my life. Taking the time to learn more about myself has been amazing and rewarding. They say that no one can love you better than you love yourself (one of my siblings keeps reminding me of that). I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, but I’m learning to love myself more and more each day. I’m also feeling genuinely happier these days. 

All in all, I’m heading in to the new year with a new attitude, new plans, and optimistic feelings. I hope you’ve all been enjoying the new year so far, and are feeling as optimistic as I am! Until new time!

  • Charli

Mental Health 2: Meeting my Mental Health Specialists

Around the end of January, I mentioned in a recent post that I visited a mental health clinic. I was given an appointment to see a psychologist  and psychiatrist two weeks after my walk-in visit. For those who don’t know, a psychologist specializes in counseling and therapy. A psychiatrist focuses on treating mental illnesses mainly through medication. When I met with my therapist, she asked more questions to learn a little bit more about me, why I was seeking counseling, and what I wanted to get out of counseling. She was so understanding, and talked with me about the type of therapy I would be receiving and how it can help me. 

That same week, I also met with my psychiatrist. She asked questions as well, and patiently talked with me about treatment options (whether or not to take medication, types of medications she recommended, etc). Both my therapist and psychiatrist immediately diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder. I was very nervous at the start of the visits, as I have never received treatment for a mental illness before, but my therapist and psychiatrist made me feel extremely comfortable. I even cried more like during my first visit to the clinic. After talking with them, I finally realized how overdo these visits were. I feel like I’m finally taking control.

If you feel that you also need help with your mental health, please reach out for assistance. You might be happy you did. Right now, the world is going through a pandemic, and many people are in isolation. Now, more than ever, might be a time to really take care of your mental health. Getting in touch with your general doctor might be a good place to start. It might not be possible for you to make trips to see a mental health specialist at the moment, but you might be able to have sessions over the phone or online. Your general doctor might be able to help connect you with services. If you ever need immediate help, please call the suicide prevention hotline if there is one available where you live. In the U.S., where I live, the number for the hotline is 1-(800) 273-8255. They might even be able to help you with getting regular counseling. 

Thanks for visiting, and let’s get through our challenges with mental illness together. Checkout the links below for more information on how to deal with mental illness:

Finding Help:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration National Helpline: 

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Dealing with Coronavirus related stress:

  • National Institute of Mental Health:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/messages/2020/coping-with-coronavirus-managing-stress-fear-and-anxiety.shtml

– National Alliance on Mental Illness:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/messages/2020/coping-with-coronavirus-managing-stress-fear-and-anxiety.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Mental Illness: Nothing to be Ashamed of

Picture taken from Pixabay


During my time in college, the disability office at my school held a career day for students with disabilities. I decided to attend, and one of my siblings went with me. Each student who decided to participate in the career day was given a mentor that they spent the day with. Some of us were put in groups and shared a mentor. Since I seemed to show an interest in social science, my mentors were psychologists. My sibling was not a student of the school I was attending, nor were they a student with special needs, however, they were allowed to participate with me. My mentors started the day with a presentation that focused on facts about counseling and therapy. “What would you say is the number one reason some people don’t see a counselor when they need help?”, one of the psychologists began. “Fear”, my sibling responded. The counselor replied that my sibling was correct.

Many people who need help often fear the stigma that comes with mental illness and needing psychological help. That same fear is part of what kept me from finally getting help myself. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been dealing with low self-esteem for most of my life. There are many times when I’ve reached low points, and those low points were sometimes terrible enough for me to consider seeking professional help. I did contemplate seeking help after one of my episodes, but I decided against it. A couple of days ago, I had another episode and I decided enough is enough. It was time for me to finally look for help, and I started searching for a mental health clinic. 

I was very nervous while trying to find a psychology clinic to go to, but I knew I had to go through with this. I finally found a clinic after a few days, and I was told that first time patients had to show up as walk-ins. I visited the clinic about two weeks ago, and my time there wasn’t very long at all. When I showed up, I was given an assessment form. There were a lot of questions, but this is the case with first time patients at nearly any clinic. After I finished the assessment, one of the specialists looked over it before talking with me briefly and asking me a few questions. The specialist was very kind. At first, I was a little nervous to talk to her, but she made me feel so comfortable, and I ended up opening up to her easily. I even cried while talking to her, which is something I don’t really like doing in front of others. After our talk, she made sure I was ok to go home before making an appointment for me, and she made sure that I would be seen again very soon. My appointment is for this week, which is just two weeks after I visited the clinic as a walk-in patient.

I’m sharing this to say that there is no shame in admitting you need help. There’s no shame in going to counseling. Hopefully sharing this might help someone, and I plan to continue sharing my journey. This might become a series, so stay tuned and thank you for visiting!

Disability Part 2: Nonverbal Learning Disability

Welcome to my first blog post of the year! The topic of this post is one that has been on my mind for some time. I have shared my experience as a person with a disability on my blog before, but I have had yet to go in to detail about what my disability is. Issues that people with disabilities face is one topic that I am passionate about, and one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to raise awareness on the issues we face. In this post, I want to discuss learning disability, and raise awareness on a little known type learning disability called nonverbal learning disability. 

If I were to tell a friend that I caught a cold, they would know exactly what I am going through. Chances are that I am dealing with a cough, a sneeze, and a runny nose. A name and a diagnosis leads to understanding. That type of understanding was what I craved for growing up, and what i’m still looking for in my adulthood years. I came close to that when I was diagnosed with Turner syndrome in my early teen years, and when I was officially diagnosed with learning disability in early adulthood. However, it’s not enough.

In previous posts, I have mentioned that I’ve recognized how different I am from my peers from the time I was a very small child. My Turner syndrome diagnosis answered a lot of questions for me, especially when I started to do a little research on the condition. I found that girls with Turner syndrome often have learning difficulties, and when I was diagnosed with learning disability, I was relieved to finally have a name for what I was experiencing. However, the diagnosis was Learning Disability NOS, NOS meaning not otherwise specified. Learning disability is a catch all term for a group of neurologically-based processing conditions. According to Learning Disabilities Association of America

These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math. They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention. It is important to realize that learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace” .             

Examples of different types of leaning disabilities are

As already mentioned, learning disability is a general catch all term. “Not Otherwise Specified” is also a general term, and is often used to give a general, nonspecific diagnosis. When someone is given a diagnosis of learning disability NOS, it means the psychologist doing the testing recognizes the patient has learning difficulties, but can not pinpoint what his or her specific learning disability might be. As happy as I was to have a diagnosis, I still wished I could have gotten a diagnosis that was a little more specific and provided more answers. However, I understand why I was given the general diagnosis. Out of all the learning disabilities that I mentioned before, the only one that is not considered an official condition is nonverbal learning disability.

According to the U.S. National Organization for Rare Diseases, girls with Turner syndrome often “have difficulties with directional sense, learning math, nonverbal memory and attention. Affected females may also experience difficulty in certain social situations”. Most of the symptoms mentioned are symptoms that I have, and are also symptoms of people with nonverbal learning disability. Unfortunately, learning disabilities like dyscalculia and nonverbal learning disability do not get as much attention as language based learning disabilities that cause issues with communication, reading, and writing. Moreover, nonverbal learning disability is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is now on it’s fifth edition (DSM-5), therefore psychologists can not use the condition as an official diagnosis. Another issue is that since people with nonverbal learning disability often have issues with nonverbal communication and poor social skills, the condition is often compared to Aspergers Disorder. Nonverbal learning disability is also compared to Autism and ADHD, and children with NLD are often diagnosed with one of those conditions, which some experts believe does an injustice to the patients because they don’t get the help they really need with the wrong diagnosis

Do I have nonverbal learning disability? Would be I diagnosed with the condition if it was recognized as an official condition? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I do have many of the symptoms recognized as symptoms of people with NLD. If It were to be made an official condition, then maybe there would be more answers. More answers means learning more about oneself, and learning how to handle struggles due to disability, and learning how to advocate for yourself, starts there.