Awareness · Depression · Mental Health · Uncategorized

World Mental Health Day

As many of you may or may not know, as I myself was unaware, World Mental Health Awareness Day is today, October 10th. First started in 1992, it is now celebrated in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its goal is to bring attention to mental illness and the major effect it has on people (1). When I was deciding what to write about for this post, a picture and an idea was making it’s way around the internet.

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Over 41 million people in the United States take an antidepressant (2).

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States (3). It affects 16.1 million adults over the age of 18 (4). Depression can cause severe symptoms affecting sleeping, eating habits, personal relationships, and work life. It can cause a loss of interest in activities, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, irritability, decreased energy, appetite changes, physical pain, digestive problems, and thoughts of suicide and or attempts. These are just some of the symptoms that people with this disorder have to live with everyday. This is a serious illness that affects a large population and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

A diabetic cannot go without their medication and you would never expect them to. So why do we treat mental illnesses and depression differently? Without insulin a diabetic could go into diabetic ketoacidosis, a coma, or even die. Without their antidepressants a person can fall into a deep depression, become recluse, and or commit suicide. This article explains perfectly how suicide is a symptom of mental illness  Stop Looking For Answers: Suicide Is No One’s Fault.

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I prefer this version!

The original post of the above especially got to me, not only because it is Mental Health Awareness Day, but because of a pharmacy snafu, I found myself without my antidepressant for 3 days this past week. That might not seem like a lot of time, but in my experience abruptly stopping any antidepressant causes me to quickly show signs of withdrawal. After the first day I started to experience severe stomach pain. I later realized, after blowing it off, it was withdrawal when I suddenly started getting dizzy. My eyes felt as if they were throbbing in my skull and I felt as if I was sea sick. I knew I wouldn’t be getting my medication for a few more days but I was already so sick without it. I was terrified. I found myself struggling for control over my depression. I would just cry for no reason. Finally, after three days and countless phone calls I was able to get a 2 week sample of my prescription from my doctor, but my pharmacy still could not fill my prescription for a week.

Even after being back on my medication for two days, I was swinging in and out of a depressive state. I was afraid to be alone. All of my fears and worries came rushing back, as if a dark cloud was looming overhead. The next day I called my doctor and  we figured out a new game plan and I’m feeling better, but I’m still not back to where I was before. I’m afraid I may never get back to that place again. That is the delicate balance of a mental illness. After all that I’ve been through, to say that depression is not a real illness, that it is something that can be brushed off by a walk in the woods, is ignorant to those who struggle everyday. On today of all days, everyone should know that depression is something that many people can’t manage on their own without relying medication.

I am one of those people.

I have depression, and it doesn’t have me. Everyone with a disorder, disease, or illness are not defined by it. It’s important to understand managing whatever you have, so that you can express who you really are to the world.

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Let’s not shame those who are brave enough to seek help for their illness. Only 44% of adults with a mental illness ever seek treatment according to this insightful article about Mental Health Facts and Myths. So many suffer in silence, too afraid to ever get the help they need. Let’s raise each other up and embrace our differences, instead of judging one another.

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Read more about my battle with depression here.

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Sources:

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Mental_Health_Day

2: https://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/people-taking-psychiatric-drugs/

3: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml

4: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

5: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/

Life · Lists · Uncategorized

Hiking, Crafting, Cooking and what’s in between…

Now that you’ve read My Story , let’s get to know each other a bit better! Here are some interesting facts about me, make sure to tell me something interesting about you in the comments!

1. I love to hike. I’ve only been hiking for 4 months now, but I instantly fell in love the second I started. That doesn’t mean it’s been an easy road. I went through a long phase where my feet were constantly in bad shape and I had to take long breaks to let them heal. Thankfully the right shoes, socks and TLC has defeated the problem and is allowing me to hike to my hearts content.

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2.I was raised on classic rock and it’s the music my soul loves. Play me some Led Zeppelin, Van Halen or Queen and you’ve won me over.

3.I’ve been with my boyfriend for over 5 years now. We’ve known each other since we were kids and started dating the day we graduated High School (I asked him out).

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4. I love the company of animals. I have a dog named Henry, he’s a Havanese/ Poodle mix. He’s seven years old (I cant believe it! He’s still such a puppy). He is a total ball of energy and love, all he wants is to lay on your lap.

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5. I’m interested in all things related to art , but I love crafting. I love the joy of making something from scratch.

6. I taught myself to sew when I was a teenager.

7. I do not drink alcohol, ever. I’m no fun at parties.

8. My whole family calls me Nans, I have a million nicknames in my family, including Nannanators!

9. I love cooking! I especially love finding a great recipe and adding my own twist. I cook for my whole family every night. My dad is diabetic and I’m vegan so putting together a meal can be a challenge, but it’s a lot of fun experimenting and trying new things!

10. I’m in love with movies, especially scary ones! I’m also a bit of an oldie as I enjoy black and white films and I’ve watched some silent pictures. Some of my favorite movies are Jaws and The Birds.

11. As a matter of fact, thanks to Jaws, I’m terrified of lakes, ponds, and the ocean. It’s one of my biggest fears. When I’m in water where I cannot see to the bottom, I immediately believe there’s something lurking beneath me.

12. One of my idols is Frida Kahlo, as the result of a bus accident when she was 18, Frida was in severe pain all of her life and endured 35 surgeries. Her struggle with disability has always inspired me to cope with my own problems.

13. Ever since I saw the movie We Bought a Zoo, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of opening up my own animal sanctuary when I’m much older. I want to save every animal I see, and ever since my boyfriend’s parents started fostering dogs from Lulu’s Rescue and ASF Rescue I’ve been inspired by the dedication and work they put into every dog they rescue.

14. I’m a natural redhead with unruly curly hair. It’s always been a struggle to tame my mane.

15. I can memorize the lyrics to any song I hear after one listen and remember it forever. I constantly have one song or another playing on a loop in my head and my boyfriend likes to taunt me by tricking me into singing old 80s songs cause he knows I won’t be able to stop myself from singing them too.

16. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the colors, leaves, the fashion, and Halloween. It is my favorite holiday because I love everything spooky!

17. I’ve donated to Locks of Love twice,  a total of 22 inches.

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18. I attend Get Your Rear in Gear events every year, in honor of my Uncle Pat who passed away from Colon Cancer. Our team name is Pooper for Pat and we do two 5ks every year, one in New Hampshire and another in Philadelphia.

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19. I’m a collector of  anything that tells a story. A few of the things I collect include antique bottles, skeleton keys, feathers, and old family photos.

20. And finally, my family means the absolute world to me. I love them more than anything. We’ve all been through a lot and we are always there for each other.

Please tell me some facts about you!

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Depression · Grief · Life · Mental Health · Vegan · Weightloss

My Story

   My story is a long one, it spans over eight years of my still young life. It deals with loss,  disappointment, and ultimately triumph. So bear with me as I sift through the mess that has been my life for nearly a decade.

   It started out when I was 15 with headaches, but not your everyday typical headaches. I went to my local doctor and was put through every scan, procedure, and medication in the book. Nothing worked. I was poked and prodded until the doctor finally shrugged and said “I don’t know what else to do”. I walked out of that office and never went back.

  I started my 16th year with a new doctor, and new symptoms. The headaches that once plagued me had transformed into searing debilitating pain coursing through me. On my first visit with my new doctor I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, amongst other symptoms. I almost always was in pain and unable to gather my strength to make it to school most days. The people in my life didn’t understand, and neither did I. As the stressors in my life gradually got worse so did my symptoms.

  As my symptoms worsened into the next year, it affected my attendance so bad that my High School forced me to drop out. I had to attend online school. I rarely got out of bed, everyday activities were almost impossible. I had hit rock bottom.

   One day while watching TV I heard about a new vegan cookbook coming out. I bought it immediately and started a strict vegan diet. I lost 60 pounds in a short amount of time. My pain was alleviated and I felt amazing. I finally had something to be proud of. I returned to high school for my senior year and over the course lost an additional 30 pounds. Everything seemed perfect. I went to prom, graduated, and was heading off to college.

    All of my dreams were coming true.

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I graduate at 145 pounds.

       Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way for long. Shortly after graduating High School I decided to stop my vegan diet. My symptoms slowly became apparent again. I started college, but after one semester I had to take a break. I began to feel unmotivated and my pain came back. In 2013 when I was 20, everything got worse when I lost two family members, who I loved dearly, within a few months of each other. I started gaining weight rapidly.

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The summer of 2015, at my heaviest, 261 pounds.

 In 2015  I was tired of feeling sick all of the time, so I decided to get help. I finally found a doctor  who I was comfortable with and she recommended that I should see a psychiatrist. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. The most painful part of the process was learning I never had Fibromyalgia. For eight years I mistook the physical pains and symptoms I experienced as Fibromyalgia, I was convinced that I would live with that diagnosis for the rest of my life. But I know now that depression can cause physical side effects. Now I had to learn how  to treat this new diagnosis that I had no experience with.

   In 2016, after a year of trial and error, I finally found the right treatment that worked for me. I am able to be my true self. I am back to being vegan again. Before, I was stuck in bed, but now, I hike every morning and I’m as active as I’ve ever been. I just started and I’m down 26 pounds. I couldn’t be happier.

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Now, at 249 pounds.

    This is not a road I have walked alone, though many days and weeks and months have felt that way. I have been isolated from emotions and the physical comfort of youth, stripped of these things by depression on a long road full of twists and turns. But, always remember this: It has been so worth it to get to where I am now.

    Some days it feels like I have lost so much… people in my life, opportunities I was too incapacitated to take advantage of, a typical high school and college experience… It’s made me a minority in my age group, but I am not willing to play victim. Now it’s my time to play catch up. I’ve spent the last 8 years healing myself, now it is time to move forward and get on a new path. A road with less rocky twists and turns, but more adventure, experience and enjoyment. I am thrilled to be starting my journey to me and I hope you’ll take it with me!

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