Depression and Anxiety: The Start of a Recovery Journey

Hi everyone! 

For those who might not know, May is mental awareness health month! It just so happens that I’ve been working on taking care of my mental health during the month, which is why I’ve been a little inactive lately. I’ve recently met an awesome mental health blogger, Chaz from Mental Health 360! She kindly offered to let me write a guest post for her blog, which is about my struggles with my mental health! I’ve been sharing a little about my mental health struggles on my blog, and this latest post gives a more in depth look at my journey over the years! Click here to give the post a read! While you’re there, take a look around Caz’s blog! She’s a retired mental health professional, so you will find a lot of wonderful resources there! You can learn a lot from her blog! 

Remember that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Take care of each other and yourselves.

Until next 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

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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