You asked me how depression feels, and this is all I could come up with.

It feels like I’m walking upstream through a current strong enough to pull me under four times.

There are others with me but they are walking along the banks telling me to “just get out of the water.” But instead of extending me a hand in help, they just move along and leave me behind.

Every once in a while I find a rock that is strong enough for me to lean on, and I can rest for a bit.

But the rock always gets tired of holding me up, and when they let go, I’m left drowning, thrown 50 ft back again.

And nothing is harder than standing up in that current, when everything in you is telling you how much easier things would be if you just let yourself get dragged under.


Imagine it like this. It’s cold and rainy outside. You’re in the middle of nowhere. You’ve got a convertible. The top’s down. The battery’s dead. You can’t put the top up, you can’t go anywhere, you don’t know when the rain is gonna end. It’s gonna take a toll on your mood, your outlook, even if just temporarily.

Depression does that same thing, but it’s not so nicely temporary. And it burrows its way in deeper than just your mood.


Sweetheart, depression hurts. It hurts bad. Some days are worse than others, and some are intolerable. Especially when I’m all alone and I want so strongly to do something, but my brain tells me to stay where I am and be sad instead.

It’s even worse when I have someone I love worrying about me and trying their best to help, but I just can’t. Leaving the house? Impossible. Taking a shower? Forget it. Putting on actual clothes (that aren’t pajamas)? I can’t imagine it. Admit I need help? Ha, you’re funny.

I have next to no attention span (unless I’m watching one of my three shows). I rarely have energy to do more than I have to. I feel like I’m doing things wrong. I feel like I’m stuck and can’t go anywhere. I frequently see the potential negative aspects of situations. I have so much trouble falling asleep at night. Even when I got enough sleep at night I’m still tired during the day. I snap at people for the smallest things. I constantly fidget. I’m pushing myself to read and write so I’m not just doing nothing all day. I don’t want to have sex. My eating goes to one extreme or the other. My head hurts. My stomach keeps cramping I’ve got a knot in my shoulder that won’t go away. My emotions tend to level out pretty low. I constantly feel down, or I don’t feel much of anything. I’ve thought about suicide, albeit not recently, and had a couple dreams about it, but I’ve never made an attempt to do anything.

The times I do force myself to leave the house, I end up pasting a fake smile on my face and acting like I’m okay. Doing that kills me, but it keeps things less complicated with people who don’t know that I was diagnosed. Or at least I can’t remember if they know that I was. Keeping people in the dark is so much more often easier than to let them into this world. But dragging someone into it would mean letting them past the walls that I’ve worked so hard to build in order to keep people out.

I know it probably seems strange to call depression its own world, but it honestly is. Functioning in reality isn’t something that those who suffer from mental illness can do with ease most times. Whether it be because of asshole neurotransmitters in your brain telling you that you should just stay home because you’re worthless, or because of crippling anxiety, or paranoia, or whatever the reason may be. It’s not something that everyone understand, and yet we try to make people understand. Even if they’re not willing, or don’t believe it unless it’s something that they can see.

Unfortunately, for most of us, mental illness isn’t something that others can physically see just by looking at our bodies. It’s mental. It’s inside our minds. Yes, they may be physical manifestations but they’re not always obvious. Shallow breathing that comes with anxiety/panic attacks? It’s not exactly easily seen, but it pains the body as well as zaps your energy and strength. Shaking/trembling hands? It can be hidden with hands in pockets or bracing hands against something.

The racing thoughts, the stomach knots, the walls closing in, the deathly need to flee. None of these things are visible, but they come with living daily with a mental illness. When it comes to facing every day, we have two choices: 1) just get through the day and know that you have another chance to fight harder tomorrow and 2) push yourself to do what you don’t really want to do but need to. The second option is going to leave you drained, both emotionally and probably physically, but it’s going to make tomorrow just a little easier.



Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award


January 2nd, I was nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award by Amy, who writes over at Under the Surface. Her nomination actually came at a good time for me because I’m hoping to get back into blogging in 2016. I’m currently working on a guest post for this blog, and I can’t wait to hopefully have more guest posts up here on CoffeeTattoos this year.

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who gave you the award and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 10 questions given to you
  • Nominate 10 bloggers for the award
  • Write 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Display the award on your blog or post

My Answers

How do you like to write? (Include the environment you like to be in, the mood you like to be in and any extras you like to have such as a mug of tea and a blanket…)

When I blog, I tend to be in my bedroom. Usually I’m sitting on my bed with my computer sitting on a lap desk. Generally it’s late at night when I do most of my writing. Often, because I do my writing at night, I’m quite lonely; however, being lonely gives me a different perspective on things and allows me to be a little more honest about what I’m feeling.
As for extras I like to have with me when I’m writing, there aren’t really any staples. Although I do like to listen to music (this is one of my favorite playlists) while I’m working. 

Where do you find the topics you write about?

I know that some people have certain theme for their blogs – like they’re a music, a beauty, or a fashion blogger – but that’s not something that I think I could commit myself to. So that means that my topics come from wherever I find them. I do tend to write about my mental health journey often however. But as for my other topics, there’s no rhyme or reason as to where I find them.

What are your blogging pet peeves?

  • People who do nothing but product reviews
  • People who try to push their opinion on others
  • People who argue with their readers in the comments when they disagree with them

What draws your attention to find a blog and makes you want to follow it?

There really isn’t anything in specific that draws my attention to a blog. I read all posts on a range of topics.
I mean, yes, one of my favorite bloggers (Sarcastica) blogs a good bit about her kids, but she also do posts about other things – like her writing or MHE (you can find some of her posts about it here) or her depression and anxiety. That’s one of my favorite things about her, she doesn’t limit herself to one thing.
If you’re looking to get me to subscribe to/follow your blog, just give me some time to look through what you’ve posted in the past and make my decision.

If there was something you could change in your blogging past, what would it be and why?

Honestly, I hate how people always ask this question. As much as I would love to analyze my blogging history and give you a precise answer about what I would change, I can’t. Because I don’t that think I would be the same blogger I am today if I went back and changed something in my past.
It’s just like life, if you went back to your past and changed something, everything in the future would change as a result of that and you would no longer be the same person you are today.

What is the main thing that keeps you blogging regularly?

Since I started this blog in December 2013, I haven’t really had a set schedule for when I blog. I would just post whenever I felt like I had something to say, however frequently or infrequently that was.
Now that CoffeeTattoos is two years old, and I put up a post the past two Fridays, I’m hoping that I can continue to push myself to expand my writing skills by finding things to post every Friday.
It may not always be much of a post, but I promise that I will do my best to post every week.

In two years time where would you like your blog to be?

I don’t think I have a dream of where my blog will end up going. I used to think that it was important to have a blog that hundreds, or thousands, of people read, but I’ve realized in the last couple years that that’s really not important.
I just want my blog

  • to continue to be a creative outlet for me
  • to be a place for me to connect with my readers
  • to be a way to reach out and get to know other bloggers

Do you share your blog with people you know in real life or is it all online only?

I am selective with who I share my blog with. There are people in real life who know about my blog (my aunt saw me typing and asked if she was allowed to read it). However, there are more people online who know about it. But when I really stop and think about it, my online friends are also my friends in real life – so the answer is both.

What’s your favorite ways to connect with other writers/bloggers?

This is a awful thing to say, but I rarely comment on other blog posts. It’s not that I don’t like connecting with other blogger, but I just don’t really know what to say in response to what they’ve written.
I guess, this year I should make a point of doing better to respond to blog posts others have written.

Do you have any tips you would like to share with fellow bloggers?

The only two pieces of advice I have for fellow bloggers is something that Rachel Thompson said:

  • Give yourself permission to write on ANY topic (even if it will ruffle feathers)
  • Write what scares you

My Nominees

  1. Sarah Fader (Old School/New School Mom)
  2. Jess Davis (Sarcastica)
  3. Marisa Lancing (Mad Girl’s Lament)
  4. Sarah Comerford (The Real Sarah C)
  5. Nicole Lyons (The Lithium Chronicles)
  6. Allie Burke (Organic Coffee, Haphazardly)
  7. Jessica Scarlett (Dabbling in Food Porn)
  8. Courtney Keesee (Courtney’s Voice)
  9. Bipolar On Fire
  10. Kelley (Free of Her Cage)

My 10 Questions

  1. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?
  2. What are your blogging goals for 2016?
  3. How are you feeling, emotionally, about the year ahead?
  4. When do you think people should have to decide what they want to do with their life? Is 18 too young?
  5. Why do you think there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, admitting that you need help, and getting said help?
  6. Do you believe in love at first sight or soulmates?
  7. Is there anything you want to write about on your blog but you’re afraid to? If so, I think you should write about that for one of your next posts.
  8. When it comes to kids wanting to dye their hair (any color) or pierce their cartilage or nose when they’re in middle or high school, would you let your child do that? Why or why not?
  9. When it comes to planners, what do you do? Do you use a bullet journal, Erin Condren, Filofax, etc? Or if you don’t use one of those, take a few minutes to research them all and tell me what you would like to start using.
  10. What was your favorite nonfiction book that you read in 2015? How did you find it? Who wrote it? What was it about?


I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know about my blogging life and history. I can’t wait to hear your answers to my questions!

Sorry I’ve Been Kind of M.I.A.

The last time a full blog post that I wrote went up was almost a month ago.

The last time a blog post about my life went up, was almost two months ago.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry that I’ve kind of gone on hiatus without any explanation.

School started back at the end of August as I’m pretty certain I mentioned in a previous post. It’s now early November, and we’re over halfway through the semester, so I really should have some sort of handle on it by now. But I feel like I don’t. I’m constantly staying up late working on trying to frantically finish everything that’s due the next day.

When I went to see my psychiatrist just a couple weeks after my classes started, I told him my anxiety was becoming more and more of an issue. Naturally, he gave me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication – Xanax. I’ve been taking that for about two months now and it’s really helped.

When I went back a little over week ago, i told him that my depression was starting to get worse now that darling saving time has ended and it’s getting darker earlier. That led to him asking if it was just my mood that had declined, to if it was my ability to function too. My ability to function hasn’t been affected too much, so I told him it was just my mood that had been dropping. From what I took away from the conversation, there isn’t really another medication that we could add. I left with the direction to keep an eye on my mood and to up the dosage of my Seroquel.

I haven’t officially upped it yet, but I probably will in the not too distant future.

November is National Novel Writing Month – or as many writers like to call it NaNoWriMo.

Most years I see people talking about it all over social media, and secretly admire them for participating and writing a book. This year, I decided that I was going to join in.

However, I’m not writing a fiction book like most people are. Instead I’m writing a memoir about something I experienced about a year and a half ago.

Things have definitely been slow going for me. I haven’t even hit 5,000 words yet. I’m kicking myself for being so slow, but I also know that writing something like this isn’t about finishing it in 30 days.

The whole point of doing it, is to tell my story. I’m only using NaNoWriMo to get myself started and be able to see how far I’ve come with the project in the month of November.

I have my yearly eye exam in just over a week. But that’s a whole separate post because there’s so much more to cover than what I want to cram into this post.

Sex & Mental Illness – The Difficult Truths, Part 1

This is a wonderful guest post by a good friend of mine in Australia. It’s a topic not talk about but widely dealt with. Please read and enjoy this first installment of the two part story.

Women’s magazines. We hear a lot about sex in certain types of women’s magazines (Cleo, Cosmopolitan, I’m looking at you). Invariably we are doing something wrong;

  • Why you’re not getting enough sex;
  • Have better sex;
  • How to blow his mind in bed;
  • Is he the right man for you?

And so on and so forth. So how come talking about sex and mental illness is still such a taboo topic when it seems that talking about  sex has become so common?

I don’t have the answer to that. But I can tell you one thing – mental illness and a happy fulfilled sex life takes A LOT OF WORK.

Let me repeat that – A LOT OF WORK.

I’m going to speak from my own experience here, but I know from conversations with others that I am far from alone in having experienced these problems. In fact the reason I’m writing is because I’m not alone, but there is still largely silence around the topic (although for a good article on the subject by the wonderful Nicole Lyons click here).

First, lets talk about mental illness symptoms themselves. Tiredness, lethargy, lack of motivation. Can you see how any one of these factors would lead to a decreased desire for sex? I can. Add into that the fact that people are trying to live a normal life with these symptoms; holding down a job, taking care of children, taking care of the house, relatives, you name it. At the end of the day, whenever that may be, you are going to be exhausted. Your mind feels fragmented, following up a thousand trains of thought and worrying about tomorrow. All you want to do is escape into the oblivion of sleep. Certainly you do not want to make the effort to have sex, either with your partner, and certainly not to go out on a date / night out looking for a connection. It’s all too hard (well, it’s not if you are male, that’s the problem).


And how about anxiety disorders? They are amazingly common. Or eating disorders, also amazingly common. Both of these can lead to a distorted relationship with your body. You feel fat, even if you are skinny. Or you long for curves, even if other people are envying you your shape. You are worried to the point of obsession about what other people might think of your body, even if that person is a romantic partner who has seen you naked and adores the sight. Your mind tells you lies, but you don’t know they are lies. And as a result you pull away. You are scared of being judged, really ashamed of how your tummy hangs, or your thighs rub together, or that you don’t look like the guys in the gym. So what if that’s not the objective truth – it’s your truth in that moment. And so you turn away from your partner or lover, decreasing all kind of physical contact. The constant anxiety manifests in phrases like “how can anyone want me like this?” “What will they think about the way I look?” And if you do get as far as the bedroom, your anxiety is making you apologise and excuse yourself every step of the way. Hardly a turn on is it?


Lets move on a bit. So you have a diagnosis and you’ve been given some medication. This is good, right? Well, lets be honest. It is certainly good that you are receiving treatment, but what about the side effects of the medications themselves? Yes, you’ve guessed it – not good for your sex life!


Take Lexapro (Escitalopram). One of the most common drugs used to treat major depression and anxiety.  This quote from expresses it well:

“Sexual side effects are common with antidepressants in both men and women, so your concern is understandable. Effects on your sexual function can include:

  • A change in your desire for sex
  • Erectile problems
  • Orgasm problems
  • Problems with arousal, comfort and satisfaction

The severity of sexual side effects depends on the individual and the specific type and dose of antidepressant. For some people, sexual side effects are minor or may ease up as their bodies adjust to the medication. For others, sexual side effects continue to be a problem”.

Great. So the very drug that’s treating your depression can take away not only your desire for sex but also your ability to orgasm. Trust me, that is a horrible experience.  Not only do you not want sex, but if you get to a stage where you are having sex it’s impossible to climax. So you try masturbation, perhaps with tried and tested aids, such as pornography or vibrators. And you can’t get aroused. Or if you get aroused you can’t climax. So what are the odds you are going to be taking an active interest in more and more sex when you know it will only lead to disappointment and frustration for both of you? Yeah that’s right, not good.

And its not just Lexapro, I chose that example because that example is exactly what happened to me. The same source also cites:

“Antidepressants most likely to cause sexual side effects include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Selfemra), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which include venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and clomipramine (Anafranil).
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate). However, selegiline (Emsam), a newer MAOI that you stick on your skin as a patch, has a low risk of sexual side effects.”

Wow. That’s a lot of stuff to think about. A lot of stuff that can seriously mess with your sex life. In a relationship this can escalate into a make or break issue so quickly that before you know it you are on a chasm, Staring into a separate and unknown future. And guess what? Yes that’s right, the worry of this decreases your desire even further.

Let’s be honest, this is especially if the other half does not really understand (and it’s an extremely difficult thing to talk about and a hard concept to grasp unless you have been there). It can make people feel rejected, unloved, cause arguments and unresolved tensions. And that’s assuming you know what is going on and are able to talk about it.  That’s assuming your sexual partner believes you that their own insecurities aren’t lying to them as well.

How much worse is it when that conversation cannot be had because of a lack of knowledge, understanding and simply information?  Not only do you not know what is happening or why, the issues mentioned above are magnified tenfold because of that ignorance.

So, this is part 1 – what can mess you up and why. Next, lets talk about what we can do about it. Stay tuned…

Feeling Quite Overwhelmed

As I think I’ve said before, I’m majoring in American Sign Language Interpreting. Really I’ve been saying that for several years now. But as of this semester, I’m actually in the Interpreting program at my school. And being in the program has presented me with more work than I’m used to.

I have chapters to read and a paragraph to read due every Monday for J. I have video assignments due every Tuesday, and I have chapter papers/videos due every Thursday for KT. And I have work for another class that’s due on Thursdays for N – that stuff I haven’t even looked at yet because that teacher isn’t being strict about deadlines yet. So I’m planning to start that work this weekend. I also have the sporadic projects for L that have to get done. One of which she assigned when she cancelled class on Tuesday and was due on Wednesday before midnight.

I’m trying to figure out how to juggle all the work that I have to get it done by due dates. Especially because KT and N (and I think L) can be strict about them. J said she practically hands them out like candy – you just have to ask. 

I honestly haven’t carried a true full course load since my very first semester in college. I forgot how freaking difficult it is. Many nights, I’m looking at my planner at all the work I have to do and I start feeling like I can’t do it all. For an outsider to look at it, it probably doesn’t look to bad. But I know how much time is required to get everything done. Just to do have of one assignment for KT’s class took me and a friend hours longer than it probably should have.

This is what we looked like after staying up wayyy too late working on interpreting homework

The work is decidedly more intense now than it has been in the past. There so much that I have to keep track of that I had to assign each class a different color (as seen above) so I can see what’s what.

The chapter’s for J’s class are interesting – or at least one of the books doesn’t make me want to fall asleep.
The video assignments for KT’s class are time-consuming, but I do feel better about myself when I finally understand what the signer said.
The chapter’s for KT’s class are better than they could be. It just becomes difficult when we have to record a 3-4 minute video rather than write a 3-4 page paper.
The video work for N’s class is similar to to the video assignments for KT’s class, except that they’re done in spoken English rather than in ASL.
The work for L’s class is different than the others. It’s less time-consuming, in some aspects. There are projects to do, homework videos to film, and Deaf events that we have to go to – but they aren’t handed out every single class.

I have a paper to write this semester where I have to interview an interpreter about their mental and linguistic processes when interpreting for N’s class. For that paper I’m interviewing the on-campus interpreter who teaches linguistics which I took this past spring semester. She’s phenomenal! I have a paper to write for J’s class about which we can choose our own topic – I want to do the requirements and certifications for interpreters in different states since I know two interpreters in states aside from mine, one in TN and one in HI.

M&J fear quote

Even though I’m overwhelmed with work and scared that I’ll never be as skilled as I want to be, I’m not going to give up and quit the interpreting program. I’m absolutely not doing that. I know that there’s a desperate need for interpreters, and I want to help – although I can’t every say that to a Deaf person (but that’s a possible post for another day). It’s just overwhelmingly difficult and work-heavy right now. Granted, that probably won’t change in the near future, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t adjust to it in time. It’s going to take time to get to where I’m actually able to interpret.


Now that I’m back in classes, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve got anxiety. I have a psychiatry appointment tomorrow, and I think I need to bring it up with my doctor. Things just aren’t right. I looked up a list of symptoms for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and I freakishly feel that a lot of them apply to me.

  • Excessive, ongoing worrying and tension
    • The mass worrying, I can’t pin to one thing, but I always feel like there’s something I need to be thinking about because otherwise I’ll end up doing something wrong.
  • Unrealistic view of problems
    • I always think that things are going to be worse than they are, even the smallest things.
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
    • I can’t sit still most times. In class, I’m always fidgeting with something.
  • Irritability
    • I snap at the smallest things, so frequently that it’s absurd.
  • Muscle tension
    • Even if I’m just sitting in class, I feel like I have knots in my shoulders.
  • Headaches
    • I’ve given up on recording when I have headaches because they happen so often.
  • Sweating
    • I don’t really deal with the sweating too much, unless where I am is quite warm – but then I feel like it’s temperature related and not due to anxiety.
  • Difficulty concentrating
    • I find it so difficult to focus in all of my classes, especially Lori’s and KT’s because they’re in ASL. So if I’m not looking, I miss something. And trying to understand a class taught in my second language is difficult enough without difficulty concentrating.
  • Nausea
    • The nausea is worst when I don’t get enough sleep, or if I don’t eat breakfast before I go to school. Other than that, it’s not too bad.
  • Need to go to bathroom frequently
    • I constantly have to go to the bathroom, even if I’m not drinking a whole lot that day.
  • Tiredness
    • Feeling tired is a constant in my life, even if I got “enough” sleep – which is usually too much because getting up in the mornings when I don’t have a plan for the day is a huge struggle.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
    • Even with being on Seroquel with has a sedative effect, I still have trouble falling asleep.
  • Trembling
    • Unless I’m doing a huge presentation, or I’m going to be in front of a huge amount of people, I don’t have problems with trembling.
  • Easily startled
    • If I manage to focus on something, I jump if someone comes up behind me or says something to me when I can’t see them.

And those are just the things that are listed. I also, very frequently, opt out of going to church if I don’t need to go. I really only need to go one Sunday a month because I’m on the video team so I deal with recording the service so that we can put the video on the website for people who couldn’t make it.

I’m wondering if I’ll need to have another medication added to deal with a potential anxiety disorder. This is not something that I like the idea of. I don’t want to have to take more medication. I just don’t know if I truly have something, or if I’m just weird and have issues that don’t equate to a mental illness. I’m just hoping to get answers tomorrow at my appointment.

Oh, I should probably also add that I’ve had panic attacks in the past and was given medication for that. I should probably bring that up because I was seeing a different psychiatrist at that point.

Ugh, I’m really not looking forward to tomorrow…

I Wish People Understood _____ About Mental Illness

Someone on my Tumblr asked me “is there anything that you wish people understood about mental illness?” I knew I could come up with some answers for them, but I wanted to take it a step further and ask my fellow Stigma Fighters and see what they wish people understood about mental illness.

I won’t always look like something is wrong.

There is no one “look” to mental illness. No one’s symptoms show the same way.

I didn’t ask for this to happen to me.

I wouldn’t even wish this on my worst enemy so what makes you think I would’ve asked for this for myself?

Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m happy.

I smile because I don’t want you worrying about me, because I don’t want to be a burden. But sometimes my smile truly means that I’m happy.

We’re not “making it up.”

Similar to the second point – I couldn’t come up with the terrible things my mental illness tells me if I tried to.

It can’t just be turned off.

We cannot “snap out of it”, or “get over it”, we also can’t “take a chill pill”.

We are not faking it and can’t always “just get over it”.

Just like you can’t turn your broken bone off when it’s inconvenient, I can’t tell my mental illness to take a break.

A mental illness diagnosis is not a sign of weakness.

To make it through each day when fighting a constant mental battle takes incredible strength.

Know that telling someone who is bipolar that “what?!? Everyone has mood swings” is really insulting.

Bipolar Disorder is more than just mood swings!

Many people with mental illness have full, productive lives with plenty of happiness, love, and fun.

Perfect example – Demi Lovato. Yes, there are many, many, many more but she’s always the first to come to mind. Also, John Green.

Treatment is not a sign of weakness, but self-care.

A cast for a broken leg is perfectly understandable, so why isn’t medication for a mental illness? We’re just doing the best we can for ourselves.

Using terms like “bipolar” and “OCD” as adjectives is incredibly insulting.

Mental illness diagnoses aren’t just adjectives to be casually thrown around. Honestly, I want to yell at people and/or hit them when I see/hear it.

The link between mental and physical pain is read and proven. Never tell me I’m imagining it or dramatizing myself.

Look up symptoms of mental illnesses and then try to tell me that my physical pain isn’t related…

Yes, I do need those special accommodations for work/study if you want me to function in the real world.

I can’t always focus in class/the office. I space out when working on projects. I just can’t function some days to be a productive person.

Yes, all this medication is necessary.
Yes, I do know what I’m taking.
No, I wouldn’t be better off trying <insert crazy therapy here>. 

I researched the medications I was prescribed. I asked friends who take them questions. Not every medication or therapy is right for everyone, so let me find my own path.

Issues that are so called emotional/psychological are also physical, because they come from the brain. Though they can be affected by the environment, they are, by nature, brain disorders and that’s why a lot of people require medicine to get better (yes, not everyone, but many.) Also, though meds are often over-prescribed and have bad side effects, they are often necessary and worth the price. I want the stigma to not just be taken away from people with illnesses, but also taken from those who choose to (or have to) use medication to cope. Therapy is preferable and meds are a last resort ideally, but they can save lives.
Also, specifically with schizophrenia: it is not about being finicky and unreliable, and definitely not the same thing as multiple personality/dissociative identity. Furthermore, mental illness can be a result of trauma but isn’t always. I have so many people say to me “I don’t get it, you had a great family and a nice life, why do you have a mental problem?“

Pretty sure this one speaks for itself..

Borderline Personality Disorder is not always a result of trauma, sometimes it’s genetic.

I’d never heard that BPD could come from trauma.. Sometimes mental illness just happens with no explanation. Other times it comes from trauma (PTSD, Panic, Anxiety) and sometimes it’s genetic, meaning that it runs in the family.

The fact that it’s not visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Cancer isn’t always visible. Asthma isn’t always visible. Mental illness isn’t visible, but it’s not treated the same. Why?

Conversations About Mental Health Aren’t Easy

163HWith a friend of mine, it’s difficult to have conversations about how I’m dealing with my mental illness. It’s not that he doesn’t care about me and want me to do well, it’s just that we’ve never really been the kind of friends that talk about feelings. And we don’t see each other as much as we’d like, so conversations are usually via text and things often get misconstrued.

I had a conversation with him the other night, and it was rather emotionally raw. I shed several tears – which is something I hate doing in front of other people. Words were said in anger, but he knew I didn’t truly mean what I had said. Comments, which cut deep, were made about where he was at my age. We grew up differently, and we’re very different people. It took some time – some in silence, some in conversation – for us to get to a point where we were able to calmly say what we meant and have the other understand. It was emotionally draining for me, and difficult for both of us. The end result of the conversation was realizing that there are things we both need to do more.

I have a tough time opening up and telling him when I’m having a bad day. So in turn, he doesn’t know how to interpret what I’m saying. That leads to misinterpretations and arguments. Someone usually winds up feeling hurt or offended. It’s just never a pretty ending.

I’ve asked him to make sure that I’ve taken my meds at night if it’s been a particularly bad day. I want him to kind of keep an eye on me and let me know if he’s noticing any changes that might point to a an episode creeping up. If I’m with him and he asks me if I’m ok, I say I’m fine (because I can’t stand the idea that people are worrying about me), and he can see right through it – I just want him to hold my hand, look me in the eye and tell me it’s gonna be ok, that he’s there for me.

SplitShire-3037-1800x1200-970x500It’s painfully difficult to reach out for help, to admit that this is too much for me to handle and battle on my own. I want to be an independent person, but my mental illness makes it incredibly challenging.

Asking for help makes me feel like I’m weak. But the reality is that asking for help actually proves that I’m stronger than I think – by admitting that it’s too much on my own and someone else’s assistance, however minimal it may be, will make it easier.

I’m Angry – And I’ll Tell You Why

bipolarAfter reading Marisa’s post on Mad Girl’s Lament, and relating to it so intensely, I made my own list of things that make me mad/angry when it comes to my mental health. I thought about just making a bulleted list and then having a rant or two about specific things underneath, but then I thought that letting each thing I’m mad/angry about to be its own paragraph would be a better way of going at this.

bipolar 50 shades

Ok, now, I know some of those things probably seem trivial to people, but for me (and everyone dealing with any mental illness) they can be monstrously huge issues. I don’t really have people to talk to (in person) about this stuff, so I’m putting it out here for all my online friends to read – along with whoever else actually reads my blog.

I never asked to have bipolar disorder! I don’t know if it’s genetic or if runs in my family. But I do know of one other person in my family who has it. And for the longest time, this person hid it from everyone. I don’t think they were handling it very well. Eventually they got help and I think they’re doing better now – but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t heard anything lately.

I never asked to have to take meds for (very possibly) the rest of my life. I know they’re necessary for this because of the whole there’s no cure for bipolar disorder thing and that I’m gonna have to deal with this for the rest of my life. Another thing I hate about the meds is that they make me super sleepy and unable to stay up late. I know that’s what they’re supposed to do, because they’re basically tranquilizers and they’re meant to sedate you. But to be completely honest, I usually don’t take my meds on time at night because I’m just not fucking ready to go to sleep yet. But the last time I waited till I was “ready” to sleep, I wound up sleeping for like half the next day. It was terrible. I’m clearly not the best patient…

Going to appointments and talking to the doctors about how I’m feeling with my meds is so fucking annoying. I always feel like they’re internally judging me when I say anything. It’s like the opposite of how I should feel going into the appointments. I mean, I know they’re actually listening to me, but there’s always some piece of me that feels like they’re not doing what they’re supposed to – that they’re being like every other person and judging me while I sit in front of them opening up about what’s going on.

Even on my meds, my moods are all over the place. I never know what I’m gonna feel like throughout the day when I wake up. Seriously, I cold go from laughing at something on Facebook one minute to crying over something that happened in a movie I’m watching on Netflix in a split second. It’s so unpredictable even with being medicated. I fucking hate it.

bipolar eeyore tigger

The smallest things stress me out. I mean, not getting enough sleep at night can leave me stressed out and on edge for the entire day without reason. And my ability to manage my stress levels is so decreased with my mental illness. I don’t understand why, but it is. And it fucking pisses me off because it leaves me unable to do all the things I want to simply because it would be too much all at once.

Oh my lord, stability is never a guarantee. I understand this and I also totally don’t get it. Stability with bipolar disorder is not something predictable. Nothing with bipolar disorder is really predictable. I mean, you can kind of see something coming, but that’s still not a guarantee that it’s actually going to happen. You could be stable for nearly a year, and then the tiniest thing triggers a manic or a depressive episode. You didn’t know it was going to happen. That’s just the way things are with this particular mental illness. And it fucking pisses me off!

Staying with friends who want to be up till 2am just doesn’t work for me anymore. I often have to make my decisions based on my mental illness. Do I want to go out and have fun drinking with my friends? Meaning that I’ll end up taking my meds really late and be a groggy non-human the next day? Or do I want to be sure that I’ll get enough sleep to be functional? It’s so fucking frustrating being 22 years old and not be able to go out with my friends like I want to because I have to worry about the timing of taking my medication. What the fuck kind of life does that leave me with? It’s not fucking fair!!

bipolar tired

Just because we take medication doesn’t mean that everything’s automatically a-ok. There are other things we have to do in order to take care of ourselves as well. Sleep is a big one. It’s also one that I struggle with constantly. I have a tendency to stay up late at night even though I know I should be going to bed and sleeping to take care of myself. I’m supposed to take my meds at 9pm every night. Do I? Sometimes. But recently I’ve been taking it later at night because I want to stay up doing something. I know that if I take my meds at 9, I’ll likely be passed out before 11 and that’s not what I want. So I put off taking my meds for two, two and a half hours. What that ends up meaning is that I then end up sleeping ridiculously late the next morning. I know it’s going to happen, but I just don’t want to sleep yet.

Why does everyone only want to know the good things in our lives? Why don’t they want to sit and listen when we need someone to talk to about how we’re emotionally struggling? Why do we have to put on a fucking happy face for everyone in society? I don’t get it. It’s not easy to fake being happy for everyone when inside we’re barely holding ourselves together as we battle depression with every single breath. It’s not fucking easy to do this for y’all every day.

And that leads me to another thing. Part of the reason I put on that fake happy face is because I honestly don’t want to know that people are worrying about me. But the people who know me well enough can often see through the facade and realize that I’m struggling. And if they know well enough, they won’t tell me that they’re worried. Because if I know people are worried about me, I feel like I have to constantly act like things are fine and I’m always on edge when I’m out because I’m petrified that anything I do could be seen as part of an act and they’ll realize that I’m faking it and start worrying about me. It’s seriously a fucking vicious circle.

Part of the reason I don’t want people worrying about me is because I feel like if they know what’s really going on inside my head then they’ll leave me. And the last thing I need is people leaving me. It’s just a constant fear that if I tell people the truth when they ask if I’m ok or how I’ve been doing then they’ll tell me it’s too much and never talk to me again. And I don’t want that. So I’ve begun to learn what’s appropriate to say to certain people and how much I can say without it crossing the line of too much information.

bipolar coaster

There are some days when I just don’t care about anything at all. I don’t even care enough to bother with making myself food. It’s really quite pathetic. Those are the days that are usually spent laying in bed binge-watching Netflix. And those are the days when I have internal dialogues wherein in berate myself for not caring enough to take care of myself and make food. Which usually lead to me feeling worse about myself and therefore really not wanting to get out of bed because of how miserable I feel about myself.

The one thing that fucking pisses me off the most is how mental health issues aren’t taken as seriously as issues with physical health. I don’t understand why it’s such a different matter. Both are crucially important. I mean, If you’re struggling with your mental health, you may have problems taking care of your physical health. You have to have a handle on both of them to really be able to fully participate in life. (This video from BuzzFeed shows how things would look if we treated physical health the way we treat mental health. It made me smile a little because it really shows how we downplay the severity of mental illness as it’s turned around to dealing with physical issues.)

bipolar mental illness adjectives

Not all of this is normal day-to-day life for people with bipolar disorder. But it’s what I’ve ben dealing with recently.

I’ve got a psychiatrist appointment coming up next week (that I’m honestly dreading for a reason that’s listed above), and maybe, we can make some more adjustments to my meds and figure out what’s gonna work and what’s not working.

I have relationships right now that are struggling because of several things I’ve mentioned, but I’m working on things with the people because I want them to understand what I’m dealing with and how they can help me and be a support. So hopefully things with them will improve as they get a grasp on what’s happening and figure out how to do what I’m asking of them without feeling like they’re being babysitters for me.

Preventing Bipolar Relapse – Necessary Adjustments to Daily Life with Bipolar Disorder

So, I have this book called Preventing Bipolar Relapse.

There are tons of tips and tricks in the book and ideas and suggestions of things to do in your daily routine that can help ‘prevent bipolar relapse’. I don’t know that I would say I’m at the point that I’m trying to prevent relapse right now so much as manage my bipolar disorder. But the book is still helpful nonetheless.

There are different types of medications:

  • mood stabilizers
  • sleep medications
  • anti-depressants
  • anti-convulsants
  • anti-psychotics

I take Seroquel, which is an (atypical) anti-psychotic (according to a google search).

There’s also something called non-adherence. It’s not something that I’ve had to deal with yet, but it can look like:

  • not re-/filling a prescription
  • stopping medication during treatment or against doctor recommendation
  • taking more/less of a medication than is prescribed
  • taking a medication with contraindicated substances
  • taking a dose of medication at the wrong time

There are ways to overcome issues that you have with your medication:

  • simplify your medication regimen
  • use reminder strategies
  • reduce your pill burden
  • involve your support system
  • manage side effects
  • always have medication on hand
  • talk to your mental health care providers

There are also things called triggers which can affect your mood.

  • alcohol
  • sleep deprivation
  • caffeine/tobacco
  • irregular daily schedule
  • illicit substances
  • medications
  • missing doses/misusing
  • lack of exercise

There are also triggers which are environmental and circumstantial:

  • excessive stimulation
  • high stress
  • season changes

Major life events:

  • relationship difficulty
  • marriage
  • going off to college
  • death
  • financial difficulties
  • changes in employment
  • moving
  • divorce/break-up
  • birth/illness of a child
  • school/work problems

Mixed states are also something that people with bipolar disorder sometimes encounter. They often feel like agitation or irritability mixed with feelings of sadness

Your sleep can also be affected. Insomnia is a frequent issue:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • worry/frustration about sleep
  • cognitive impairment
  • extreme mood changes/irritability
  • lack of energy/motivation
  • poor performance at school/work
  • tension headaches/stomachaches

Some frequent causes of insomnia:

  • too much activity before bedtime
  • doing other activities in bed other than sleeping
  • using substances that disturb your sleep
  • taking naps

There are ways of beating insomnia:

  • keeping regular hours
  • creating a restful sleep environment
  • making sure you’re in a comfy bed
  • exercise regularly
  • less caffeine
  • don’t overindulge
  • don’t smoke
  • relax before going to bed
  • write away your worries
  • don’t worry in bed

Nutrition is also a big thing when dealing with bipolar disorder. Some things to keep in mind:

  • balance calories
  • enjoy your food but eat less
  • avoid oversized portions
  • eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains
  • make half your plate fruits and veggies
  • switch to low-fat dairy products
  • make half your grains whole grains
  • minimize your intake of solid fats, added sugars, and salt
  • compare sodium in foods
  • drink water instead of sugary drinks

Activity is also a big thing. There are lots of excuses:

  • lack of time
  • lack of energy
  • lack of enjoyment
  • lack of money
  • lack of child care
  • lack of company
  • lack of success
  • bipolar symptoms

However, there are simple ways of increasing your activity level:

  • park further from the door when running errands
  • take the stairs not the elevator
  • longer dog walks
  • walking/marching in place during commercials
  • use out-of-the-way bathroom, copier, or watercooler
  • take 10-15 minute walk breaks every hour or two
  • do errands on foot/bike
  • wash your car yourself
  • learn to do DIY projects at home

When it comes to people, there are different kinds of support:

  • Emotional
  • Group
  • Material
  • Treatment
  • Financial
  • Employer
  • Crisis

When it comes to asking for help, there are seven steps to remember:

  1. Choose whom to ask for help by considering each person’s ability to provide what you need
  2. Do it in a quiet place at a time when you’re not likely to be distracted
  3. Explain your position with statements beginning with “I need” or “I feel”
  4. Be specific about what you need
  5. Give the person the opportunity to ask questions
  6. If the person is willing to help, thank him/her for the offer
    If not, thank him/her for giving it some consideration
  7. Remember to thank the person or people who helped you

The two kind of support that are the most important to me are:

  • Emotional
    • Someone who understand you well, understands bipolar disorder, and will not judge you for needing support. Having someone to call in the middle of the night when you’re feeling anxious or afraid or simply cannot sleep is what having good emotional support looks like.
  • Treatment
    • Encouragement to follow your treatment plan as outlined by your mental health care provider, as well as encouragement to follow the recommendations regarding sleep, nutrition, and activity in the book.

I have a friend who is new to this whole thing and is still trying to get a grasp on it. So I gave them these notes to look over. When they had finished I told them what I wanted/needed from them in terms of support. All I’m asking of them is to be someone to talk to when I need an ear; but if it’s a bad time, or they’re busy, I need them to tell me “not right now” or ask “can we do this later/when I get home?” When it comes to treatment, if they know I had a bad day, just double check with me that I took my meds at night. And also to follow up with me after I have appointments so that they’re aware of any medication changes.

Really, I’m not asking very much of this person. And what I am asking of them can honestly be done completely over text messages when necessary. Obviously seeing them will be needed sometimes, but not on a constant basis.