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.

Happy New Year: Reflecting on the Year and the Year Ahead

Hello everyone! It’s New Years Eve! Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling under the weather for a couple days recently, so I’ll mostly be spending the day relaxing and trying to recover. I hope everyone is enjoying the day though! 

The most important event for me this year was the start of my blog. I started my blog in March, which seems like just yesterday, and now we are heading into a new year. I’m excited to see what the new year has in store for my blog, and for my life in general! Wishing you all a quick Happy New Year! Enjoy the last day of the year reminiscing on the blessings of the year, but also be prepared to move forward to bigger and better adventures life has to offer during 2020! Until next time!

That Christmas Feeling and the Reason for the Season

Photos in collage taken from Unplash

Oh where has all the time gone! It’s that time of year again, but it feels like just yesterday I was bringing in the new year with my family! I love this time of year! I love the decorations I see around my neighborhood. I love the feeling I get, the warmth, the cheerfulness. Sometimes I wish the kindness and cheerfulness in the atmosphere could last all year long. 

When I was a child, Christmas was all about presents. I loved getting gifts, and the moment my siblings and I opened our presents we were off to our separate worlds to play with our new toys. There were times, however, when my family did more than just focus on the presents! We would have fun putting up Christmas decorations around the house together, and painting our front door. To capture memories, my mom often wanted to record my siblings and I opening our Christmas presents. I remember us being annoyed having to wait for our mom to setup the camera before we could open our gifts! Sometimes she had to replace the batteries and the wait would be long! Now that my siblings and I are older, we laugh whenever we reminisce on those moments, and we recently enjoyed watching some of those recordings. Also, whenever we got snow my parents would take us outside to play, my father making sure to take lots pictures during the fun. My siblings and I love looking back at those photos.

As my siblings and I have grown older, Christmas has become much more about spending quality time with each other, and less about the gifts, although we still enjoy getting presents! The spirit of the season is what is most important. Reminiscing on the the events of the year, looking forward to making more memories, and spreading cheer is what this time of year is all about. As we celebrate the Christmas season and slowly reach the end of this year, here is a reminder to cherish what you have and spread cheer and positivity every day of the year! An early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Warnings from a Stranger

Picture taken from Pixabay

How do you feel about random strangers starting conversations with you while you’re outdoors? I suppose it depends on where you live. If you’re from a small town, you’re probably used to knowing everyone in your neighborhood, and you probably welcome new neighbors with open arms. If you live in a large city, even some of your neighbors might be strangers to you, and you may not feel comfortable talking to random strangers on the street. It might also depend on your personality and how comfortable you are with meeting new people. I’ve mentioned before that I’m generally nervous around people I don’t know. I like being polite, however, so I’m always willing to give acknowledgement and a polite smile whenever I catch a stranger’s eye. I suppose this must be a welcoming sign since strangers start conversations with me often. There is one particular interaction with a stranger that really stood out to me, one that I will never forget. 

I was in college during the time, and had class on that particular day. During my lunch break, I decided to go to Burger King to get something to eat (not the healthiest choice! I know). I often ate lunch with some of my classmates during my time in college, but was expecting to eat lunch alone that day. That was until an older woman walked in, ordered her meal, and asked to join me. The restaurant was full at the time, and there was an empty seat in front of me, so I wasn’t surprised. I also didn’t mind, and I told the lady so. When she sat down, she immediately started opening up to me. 

“I’m just visiting”, she said. 

The lady lived in another state (I live in the U.S.) and she was just visiting to attend a funeral. Her daughter’s funeral. Her daughter had been suffering from from kidney failure, and was on dialysis for a long time. 

“Make sure you always drink enough water”, the lady told me. 

Towards the end, we sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes. Then the lady wished me a good day and left. By the time the lady left, I had long since finished my meal, but I stayed in the restaurant until the lady was ready to leave. She seemed to need someone to vent to, and I was more than happy to lend a listening ear. By the time the lady left, she seemed to have gotten her feelings off of her chest. Little did she know, though, that she helped me as well. 

I have a serious love for all things fruit flavored. Whenever my sweet tooth starts throwing a fit, drinking some juice and smoothies, and eating yogurts and popsicles are my favorites ways to soothe it! My family often reminded to make sure I’m drinking enough water. They often shared concern about the health of my kidneys. My father always told me he didn’t want me to end up on dialysis. It’s a very unpleasant experience he’d say. Ironically, I met a woman who who gave me the same warning, and whose daughter suffered the very same fate my family was trying to protect me from. 

Since that day, I’ve started trying to take those warnings seriously. My efforts aren’t perfect. Changing my habits is definitely difficult, but right now I am very proud of the changes I’ve managed to make. I’ve cut back on sugar a lot. My family still gives me reminders to drink enough water now and again, but they notice my efforts. Life has a funny way of giving you advice, answers, or inspiration. You never know where-or who-they will come from.

My Complicated Relationship with Social Media

Picture taken from Pixabay

My first social media account was a MySpace account. I hesitated creating one at first, because of all the horror stories I had heard about social media. Curiosity eventually got the best of me though, and I finally made my first social media account. I immediately started searching for the accounts of everyone I knew, family current friends, old friends, old teachers, you name it. If the person had a MySpace page, I found it. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted, and soon interacting with people I knew only wasn’t enough for me. In fact, there was very little interaction between me and my friends on MySpace, especially since I didn’t need social media to interact with a good amount of them. I eventually decided to broaden my horizons. I start accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know, and I enjoyed the extra attention I started getting once I did. I felt excitement build up every time I saw a new notification.

MySpace started to take up a lot of my time. Every time I went out I had to make sure to take at least one good photo to post on MySpace. When I switched to Facebook there wasn’t much change, except for my privacy settings. I decided to only interact with people I knew. Getting a flood of notifications was important to me, so I started putting up posts on Facebook that would probably help me get some attention, and started to feel a little bitter whenever I wasn’t receiving any. I was always wondering why people wouldn’t respond to my comments or messages, and why my pics or status updates weren’t getting enough likes. Some self reflection forced me to eventually realize that I was building an unhealthy relationship with social media. I felt like I was turning into a different person, and I didn’t like who I was becoming. To fix my problem, I made the decision to temporarily disable my Facebook account, and I was happy I did. I felt instant relief, and was able to focus on all the things in my life that mattered most.

Social media has obvious pros. However, from time being wasted through scrolling to cyber bullying to the pressure to build a large following and gain a lot of likes, the obvious cons of social media are hard to ignore. There has been an effort to deal with some of those cons by some social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Facebook and Instagram added new features that help users manage their screen time on the platforms. Instagram also started hiding likes in some countries. Users are able to see the amount of likes their own content has received, but not the amount likes on the content of other users. This has been distressing to some Instagram influencers, but I believe the feature might be a step in the right direction.

After some time off of social media, I created numerous accounts this year to help promote my blog. My interactions on these accounts remind me of my days on MySpace and why I enjoyed the experience. However, I realize now the importance of protecting my time and mental health. I love spending time on social media, but I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on around me IRL.

Turner Syndrome and My Mental Health: A Second Helping

In a previous post, I mentioned that I have a condition called Turner Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with the condition, it is a genetic disorder when a girl is born with one of her X chromosomes partially or fully missing (boys generally have an x and y chromosome, while girls generally have two X chromosomes). 

The biggest issues with Turner Syndrome is that many girls with the condition are generally infertile, and can’t go through puberty on their own. They usually need hormone replacements. Turner Syndrome can lead to a host of other complications as well. Those complications can include problems with the heart, kidneys, bones, and thyroid gland. Complications vary from girl to girl. Each girl’s experience with the condition varies, and their symptoms can range from mild to severe. 

Girls with Turner syndrome can be diagnosed at any stage in life (before birth, at birth, during infancy, during their teenage, or during their adult years). Generally, the more severe the symptoms, the earlier a girl with Turner syndrome will be diagnosed. Most fetuses with the condition actually have symptoms that are so severe they never make it to term. Turner syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs in around 1 in 2,000 to 2,500 live female births. Around 99 of pregnancies where the fetus has Turner syndrome end in miscarriage.

I suppose that makes me a bit of a miracle baby, or so I like to think at times. I struggled with low self esteem growing up. I always saw nothing but my flaws, and the bullying and I went through during my time in school didn’t help. There was also the fact that I had disabilities and was very dependent on my family. I felt like a burden to them. No matter how hard I tried, I could never fully shake off those feelings, and I hated that. There would be times when someone would say or do something that would make me happy, or I would be doing an activity that would make me happy, but by the time I look around I’m back to feeling low. There would also be times when there was a reason I was down, and other times when I just couldn’t explain why I was feeling depressed. When I was a teen, I kept thinking that one day I will let those feelings go when I finally became an adult. I am now a fully grown adult, and still struggle a bit with these issues. I have learned that what I was going through was not just a phase, or something that I was easily going to get through.

Thankfully, I have a very supportive family. My family has been incredibly patient with me, and extremely supportive. To me, they have been like my therapists. They listen to my concerns, and even encourage me to open up. They never make me feel ashamed of my concerns or feelings when I do share them, and they never make me feel ashamed of my struggles. They also never make me feel like a burden. They are always making sure that I know I’m loved, and that I have a purpose and place in my family and in the world. Considering that I was blessed to be a part of the small one percent of fetuses so h Turner Syndrome to make it to term, I can’t help but to feel they are right. 

My mental health journey is still ongoing. I’m still finding myself, still growing. I’m still struggling with my self esteem. I don’t know why I was part of that small 1 percent, but I do know that I am willing to continue fighting through this crazy journey called “life” to find out.  After all, if there is one thing I know, it’s this: we are all here for a reason.

Note: My inspiration for this post was fellow blogger and disability advocate Amanda Gene, who is also very lucky to be alive today. Give her blog visit and read her story here.

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Falling for Autumn

Picture taken fro pixabay.com

Fall is around the corner! It’s the season of colorful leaves and pumpkin spice flavored lattes and sweets, and the beginning of of a new school year for children and college students (in fact, today is the first day back to school for some children!)! If I had to pick a favorite season I would have to say winter. There’s a special type of “warmth” surrounding that time of year. However, there is also something special about the fall season too, especially for my family. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that my favorite holiday might be Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated in the U.S., Canada, some Caribbean islands, and Liberia, albeit on different dates. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. There is a debate and controversy over the true origins of the American version of thanksgiving, but one thing is for certain: thanksgiving celebrations, otherwise known as harvest festivals, have been around since ancient times, and many different countries and faiths have their own versions of the celebration (Germany’s Erntedankfest and Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day for example)

Thanksgiving is even more special to my family than Christmas. On Christmas Day we’re usually too wrapped up in our gifts to pay attention to each other! That was especially the case when my siblings and I were children! During the thanksgiving holiday, we spend a lot of our time with each other, and I’m not just talking about when we gather to eat thanksgiving dinner. From the food shopping to preparing the thanksgiving meal, everything is done together, and we always enjoy every minute. 

When the meal is finally ready and we gather around the table, we all take turns saying what are grateful for. We aren’t usually overly affectionate with one another, especially with words or touch (although we always show our love for each other through our actions), but we get very sentimental when saying what we are grateful for. In that moment, we hold nothing back on saying how much we appreciate each other. We also spend time reminiscing on all the good times we’ve had together so far, and talking about our plans to create many more wonderful memories. By the end of the day, we are generally very exhausted, but happy.

In short, fall is the bonding season for us, and I always look forward to this time of year! That’s what makes fall special to me! Welcome to the Fall season everyone! I hope you all enjoy the season this year as much as I know I will!