This is probably one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever written. Not because I’m scared of putting myself out there or anything like that, but because this is a really hard topic to write about.
There is so much to say.
And so many ways to say it.
And most importantly, I don’t want to say any of it wrong.
So let me just lay down some ground rules before you read this:
1. I am not a mental health professional. Don’t read this post thinking that I am your new meds expert.
2. What works for me may not work for you. Don’t read this post thinking that I am acting like I know everything. I know everyone is different.
3.Please don’t judge my raw vulnerability. This is who I am. This is a part of my narrative. And I refuse to hide it.
Okay. Ready? here we go.
For a long time I struggled with sharing this piece of my life…
Even before the blog. I felt really insecure about having a “mood disorder.” or a “mental illness.” I worried people wouldn’t accept me for it, or that they would look at me differently because of it. Especially because years ago I had attempted suicide. I wasn’t one of those “just a little sad and grumpy” people – I was one of those people that really wanted to die. The fact that my illness was so serious, it made me scared to share it. I didn’t want peers to think they had to censor themselves around me, and I didn’t want my colleagues to know that I was “one of those people who didn’t have their shit together.” And while that was a total B.S. limiting belief of mine – It still affected a lot of my decisions in life and how I lived it. And most importantly, denying my illness really impacted how I felt about myself.
“You need to hide this part of who you are, because this is weird. And you don’t want people to think you’re weird. Or even worse: crazy.”
So for a while, I pretended it wasn’t real.
My illness is real.. and that’s pretty much all I know….
Pretending it wasn’t there only made things worse. When I ignored it, I went on and off medication. I felt ashamed by it. And stopping and starting regimens made me sick, suicidal and really out of my element. Even to this day “accepting my condition” is something I struggle with.
I take medicine for a while, feel really good, and then decide, “f-this. I don’t need meds.” A few days later I am a psychotic mess. That’s just how it is.
It’s been a long time since that has happened.. but a few weeks ago I ran out of my meds.. and BOOM. Disaster.
Having moments like that makes me feel so ashamed. I am a life coach – and I don’t have my shit together 100 percent of the time guys.
I have an illness. And that doesn’t make me less of a human being. I can’t ignore that I have it.
But I cannot tell you what I have, because the truth is I have no fucking clue. I have been diagnosed so many times in my life. Today I believe that being “diagnosed” is just a ploy for doctors to get your insurance company to approve medications.
Having a label didn’t do anything for me. It only made me feel more lost in the cycle of prescription drugs. But what I realized (and even talk about in my podcast ) is that having a label doesn’t solve any problems. I don’t have to define my illness to know that it is a serious problem area in my life that needs my undivided attention.
So when someone asks me “what I have,” this is my response:
My brain does not absorb serotonin the way a normal brain does. And for that, I need medication.
Who knows how this started. I will never know. Some doctors tell me I was born this way. Other doctors have told me that when you have a traumatic experience at a very young age, sometimes your brain can actually change itself – which would make sense, since I was raped and assaulted in my teenage yeas. But just like I don’t focus on finding a label for my illness, I also stopped trying to figure out what caused it. So that I could focus on the much more important issue: Finding the right treatment.
Because Mental Illness Sucks….and so does Big Pharma.
I have been struggling with finding the right medication regimen for 10 years. Yes. 10 fucking years. When I was first diagnosed, doctors didn’t know about the sexual trauma I experienced, so they used what little information they had to diagnose me.
“She is up, she is down, she is bipolar.”
It pretty much took them all of five minutes to come up with that one.
Ever since then, I’ve been struggling to “feel balanced” with the “medication that works.”
Because all of them have side effects.
I’ve been on medications that made me sleep 16 hours a day.
I’ve taken pills that made me walk around like a zombie.
I was once on a regimen that was known to cause liver damage, so I needed to get blood work every few months.
Meds that made me gain 60 pounds
Meds that made me develop an eating disorder.
And my favorite – I was once on a medication that gave me a serious facial tic. Yeah. That was super fun.
I’ve tried them all… Big Pharma is my worst enemy.
For so long I was conditioned to think that just by taking a pill I could solve all of my problems.. when in fact, often times, taking one pill caused me six other problems that I needed more pills to fix.
I hated it.
Pills solve problems? That can’t be more farther from the truth in my life.
New Prescriptions don’t solve problems… PEOPLE do….
One of the biggest game changers in my life was deciding that I was going to control my mental illness. I wasn’t going to rely on a pill to do it for me. I make sure not to have too much coffee after a certain time (to avoid mania) I stay away from alcohol as best possible. I take supplements (the new ones I’m trying are pictured here – thanks Angie for the recommendations) and I practice meditation and self reflection every single day.
I am the person who has to live with this rollercoaster mind- so I can’t rely on a pill to magically solve my problems. I need to take care of myself.
If you don’t have a mental illness, here’s what you need to know….
When your friend tells you “I am feeling sad today,” it is not sadness the way you know it to be. It is on a whole other level that you probably cannot even imagine even if you tried. If your friend isn’t functioning well, telling her “just get out of bed and go do something,” is not going to encourage her to feel better. And asking her “What’s wrong,” is a question that will sometimes go unanswered… because she doesn’t even know how to answer it when she tries to ask herself.
Still don’t get it? Listen to this chicken cutlet story….
One time, when I was in depression mode, I remember sitting at the dinner table with my parents staring at my plate. I had a chicken cutlet on it. There was a knife and fork on the side of the plate, and in order to eat my dinner, I had to cut the chicken cutlet. Seems simple right? No way. I was so emotionally unstable that I felt like I was dying. I was so overwhelmed and in complete emotional breakdown mode that I could not for the life of me figure out how to do it. Yes. I couldn’t figure out how to fucking cut a chicken cutlet to eat it. I broke down crying. My mom had to cut my food for me. I was twenty three years old.
This is not a joke people. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic attacks – these are real scary serious things. When left untreated they are debilitating.
So take mental illness seriously. Treat it with kindness. Make your mental health a priority.
And stop pretending it doesn’t exist.
P.S. these are vitamins I am taking to help with brain function.