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.

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!