Depression · Mental Health

The Importance of Community and Mental Health

Thank you Mai for letting me use you creation 🙂

I have been having a writer’s block if you want to call it that. I have had a hard time thinking about what I want to write and as much as it has been bugging me, it has also helped me live more in the present moment. The thing is, writing is very therapeutic for me and helps me articulate feelings and experiences. Lately, I have been trying to not be up in my feels and part of me hasn’t felt inspired to create. I just got done mediating and I know it is suppose to help us think less but instead I started thinking about how I know what I want to write about! So, here we are.

This time last year, I was having a really rough time mentally. I was going through a job change, pressures of school, marriage troubles, finance issues and mainly feeling lost and not knowing what I was doing. My husband travels a lot for work and he was gone all the time and I was feeling very lonely. This lonely feeling that I have had for 15 years of being on my own. When my grandparents passed away when I was 15 I felt very alone in my feelings and alone without them. This feeling led to anxiety but more then anything it led to a dark depression. This overwhelming feeling of sadness of not feeling enough, insecure, sad, hut, and just physically blah. This feeling came rushing back and a chain of frustrating events led to me feeling hopeless and tired of fighting. I remember feeling very suicidal that day in September 2019 and was just done running this rat race of feelings. My husband was overseas so the time change meant I couldn’t call him and we were arguing and so I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that at the moment. For some reason, I called my mom even though we didn’t have a close relationship but she out of everyone understands suicide and depression the most. She has struggled a lot with it and so I know that she could relate and get it. We had a great conversation and I actually ended up sharing on social media later that day how I was feeling. I never thought I would share something so worrying and vulnerable on social media. When you are down you don’t want extra attention or questions and people wondering what is going on. You want to hide from the world and you don’t want to be seen in this head space. That was the thing I would hide a lot from the world and people I care about. I used to be super emotional and share my feelings but I started to not feel as comfortable and would close in more. This moment was huge in my story because I look back a year later and I am so thankful I did start sharing. I began sharing on social media when I was struggling with anxiety or depression and used my voice. I started a blog in December to document my mental health struggles but to also link them to mental health topics to help others. The one thing missing since I moved to Georgia almost 5 year ago was having a sense of community. The thing is that it was really hard to make friends in a new state especially being older. I met a few great people but I wanted more and to be involved in more things. Over the last year here are the 3 things that changed my life.

The Yoga Studio

I got a job a a yoga studio and this completely changed everything in my life. I started to meet so many great people who were free and open to being their true selves. I met people who I could share a lot with and ones who have been there for me through a lot of challenging times. I was able to connect to so many great people and started connecting more to myself. I have always loved yoga and having a yoga studio to go to where I know most of the people always felt like home to me. I had that in California and deeply missed it when I moved. Here is an event I went to in December and we did sun salutations and had glow party. This is where my sense of community started and I am forever grateful.

Soulful Sunday

I started to meet like minded people and people who inspired me to be myself. I met two amazing people who had an event called Soulful Sunday which was a safe space to mediate, journal, talk, share, embrace who we are, and the main thing connect. My beautiful friend Sheri is a energy healer and would do Reiki on us and we would pull cards as well. I love spiritual stuff that gives us the opportunity to explore our true nature and be in the moment. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Through this event, I met so many wonderful people and had the opportunity to connect with others on a deep level. I felt comfortable to share when I was down and I even had moments crying and releasing so many built up emotions. My friend Vale is the other person who held the event at her store Wanderess Collections. I met her through this event and we became best friends. I would say that she is one of the people who has helped improve my life here in Georgia. I slowly noticed that I was apart of a community based on me being vulnerable and putting myself out there. Slowly, I was pulling off more layers of my shell and I was stepping into my confidence and living my life. These type of events are so important in mental health because it is necessary to feel connected with others and have a sense of belonging. These type of groups make me feel less alone and feel like I can express myself when I am struggling. We were all there for the same thing and I am truly grateful for all of you!

Vale, Dawn, Sheri

Rare Beauty Community Chats

February came along and I was still blogging and sharing a lot about mental health on social media and in conversations. Selena Gomez is my inspiration and someone who I consider my biggest role model. She is the reason why I wanted to start being more open about my struggles and not feel embarrassed for having so many feelings. She started a beauty line called Rare Beauty and the mission is “To shape conversations around beauty, self-acceptance, and mental health. We want to help people get more access to support and services, and help people feel more authentically connected to one another and less alone in the world.” I was instantly excited for this brand because I support anything Selena does because I know anything she does she puts in her whole heart and is genuine about it. They posted about an opportunity to share our story with them about what makes us Rare to have the opportunity to be involved in the Rare Beauty line. This was pre-covid and so I had no idea what to expect if I did get picked. The thing is, most things I have submitted to have thousands of submissions and I really did not think I would get picked. Selena’s fan base is huge and I thought the regular fans that she knows would get picked. The thing is, I doubted myself and was comparing myself to others instead of thinking that who I am is enough to be seen.

I never should have doubted myself because my story was picked and Rare Beauty reached out to me. I could not believe it and lets be real I am still in shock! They invited me to be apart of a Rare Community Chat which would be a zoom meeting with the Rare Beauty team and others who submitted their stories. The team was so nice, natural, authentic, and engaging that it was so easy to open up right off the bat. I was so nervous and thought it would feel like some type of Hollywood thing but it was the complete opposite. I was able to discuss mental health challenges and be vulnerable about who I truly am. I heard so many amazing stories from others and it is amazing how easily we all connected and we still stay in touch. A few months later, I was asked to film a video of myself up to five minutes saying what makes me Rare and my story. I was on vacation when they emailed me and needed it right away and I was scrambling and so nervous! I had the most intense anxiety all day because I wanted it to be perfect. I finally let go and just took some breaths and remembered to be myself. I sent it in but had no idea what to expect from it. Shortly after, I was invited to another Rare Community Chat and the others on the call would be the Rare Beauty team and the others who sent in their videos of what makes them rare.

I remember it was a Monday and I was suppose to go to yoga and almost didn’t make it on the call. Someone from the Rare Beauty team said I don’t want to miss the call and I had this weird gut feeling that something exciting was going to happen. I AM SO GLAD I DID NOT MISS THAT CALL! Selena Gomez hopped on the call!! I almost started crying and really did not know how to act. We were all in shock, honestly! She was so real and genuine and exactly how I pictured her. I was called on first and I thought I would be to nervous to talk but she is so real it was like talking to a good friend. I was able to talk about how I am getting through quarantine and what I am doing to help my mental health during this time. We all talked for over an hour and I was able to hear so many beautiful stories from the other individuals. It was such a real and great conversation and I feel like we could have talked for days. I love conversations that have depth and vulnerability. Especially during this time, where a lot of people are isolated and feel like they are losing hope we need these moments to stay connected.

Today, the promo video went out and it was so surreal to see my face in it for millions of people to see. It is beyond that though, of course I get star struck and excited about this stuff but I had an epiphany. A year ago, I was a turtle in their shell and I was feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and was feeling completely lost. When I started being vulnerable this opened doors to so many opportunities and opened my heart to a community of great people. I started to realize that I am attracting all of these people by being myself. My story was chosen because of who I am and these people include me because of who I am. I don’t feel ashamed of my weaknesses anymore and I have learned to fully embrace them and love every single part of me. I have realized that this is all apart of my story and I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I didn’t open the door to being vulnerable. How wild is it that people can actually love us for who we truly are and we can truly be set free and happy by being who we are. We let go of any shame, guilt, fear, anxieties, and doubt that associate themselves with not being who we truly are at the core.

If more people embraced who they were instead of hiding behind these perfect filters on Instagram and perfect images of what you think we want to see, then I truly think more people would connect and people would become happier. Connection is so important and it is why quarantining is so difficult and almost deter-mental to mental health. Humans are meant to connect with others and feel physical touch and feel seen and loved. For someone who struggles with depression and feeling lonely being in that situation can be very hard on me. I am so grateful for the Rare Community and all of the communities I am apart of now. I am so excited for what this company is doing and I really do think they are going to make a huge impact. They already have made an impact on me and the other people of the community. We all stay in touch over messages and we always uplift each other on posts and check in. I have never met these people in person but I feel like I have known them for ages.

My purpose of this post was to encourage you to be yourself and put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to share your story. The right ones will want to hear it and will uplift you when you do. The wrong ones will dismiss you, make you feel less then, make fun of you, and make you want to get back under your shell. We will constantly be tested by these people but remember the ones who love you for who you are and hold onto them. I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been and I feel so loved. I still have moments of anxiety and I still am working through some things but I know that I have made it so far. It now doesn’t matter where I live because I know I have a sense of community and I know that I can meet people who are great because I am willing to put myself out there and be myself. I literally manifested this all into my life by taking the first step and sharing my hard moments. Each one of you are rare, amazing, and loved. Be proud of your story because that is what makes you YOU and that is something nobody else has.

The first community chat
The second community chat
Selena Gomez & I ❤
From Rare Beauty’s Instagram

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I hope this will encourage you to take that chance and be who you truly are! If you are struggling with mental health click on my resources tab for more and contact a professional. I love you all xoxo

Light and Love,

Tuscany

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Anxiety · Bipolar Disorder · Depression · Mental Health

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

I was really triggered this week by the news of Kanye West publicly going on “rants” and saying a lot of things that seemed “out there” to people. I noticed a lot of hate against him and a lot of memes making fun of him. Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about four years ago and publicly had a manic disorder which is symptom of bipolar. I am not excusing hurtful words he said or words that anyone says during a mania episode, but it is important we understand the mental illness aspect. A lot of people struggle with bipolar and some people are misdiagnosed and some know they are bipolar but are to embarrassed to share that they have it or struggle to believe that they do. To be honest, I have called Kanye crazy and have been like what is going on with this guy!? It is human nature to judge when we don’t understand the full gravity of the situation or what is truly going on with an individual. He is a celebrity and so it is easy for the media and people to tear him and his family apart. This is why empathy is so important to have and I have to even remind myself this as well.

The thing is, why did this recently trigger me? I have had an unbelievably emotional past couple months. Well let’s be real the past ten years. My mom was diagnosed with Bipolar a few weeks ago and so this hit extra hard. I have dealt with her for all my life but in the last ten years it has been very difficult to have a relationship with her. It has been difficult for her to want to live because of her intense mood swings. My mom used to go to a Psychiatrist back in Iowa who was pumping her with prescriptions but not finding the real problem. She has always been very depressed, anxious, excited, mood swings, sleeps for days, manic episodes, delusions, obsessions, rants, conspiracy theories, etc. A few weeks ago, she was suicidal because she just wanted the pain to go away and didn’t think she would ever get better. This broke my heart to hear and scared the heck out of me. I immediately called the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255. I was able to speak to a trained professional and figure out what to do. When someone says they don’t want to live anymore WE HAVE TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! This can be so overwhelming and in the moment of panic it can be hard to know what to do. They were able to recommend a hospital for her to put her on a 72 hour hold, then to inpatient, and hopefully outpatient after. Finally, the Doctor said my mom has diagnosed bipolar but was never diagnosed properly. He said he can’t believe that previous Doctors never diagnosed her before. I did a lot of research on bipolar so I could better understand it and now it all makes SO much sense.

Here is some of my research on bipolar to help everyone better understand it and to spread awareness about it but tune in to the bottom where I share more of my experience of being the daughter of someone who has it and how it has mentally impacted me and my family.

What is Bipolar?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks (National Institute of Mental Health, 2020)

Bipolar, is also known as manic depression, and is a chronically recurring condition involving moods that swing because the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Depression is the most pervasive feature of the illness. The manic phase usually involves a mix of irritability, anger, and depression, with or without euphoria. When euphoria is present, it may manifest unusual energy and overconfidence, playing out in in the bouts of spending or promiscuity, among other behaviors.

Misdiagnosed is common; the condition is often confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder. Biological factors probably create vulnerability to the disorder with certain individuals, and experiences such as sleep deprivation can kick off manic episodes. (Psychology Today, 2020)

(This part really got me because my mom was diagnosed ADD when she was in Iowa and they pumped her full of medication for it and a very high dose. The Doctor makes a lot of money on Pharmaceuticals and so instead of caring for the patient it can be all about the money, unfortunately. I even thought my mom was schizophrenic because of her intense conspiracy theories; which schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in these situations since they don’t look into further testing for bipolar)

3 Types of Bipolar Disorders

  • Bipolar I Disorder– Defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder– Defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypo-manic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical Bipolar I Disorder.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) – Defined by periods of hypo mania symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents)

Signs and Symptoms

During manic episodes they may:

  • Feel very “up,” “high,” elated, or irritable or touchy
  • Feel “jumpy or “wired”
  • Have decreased need for sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Talk very fast about a lot of different things
  • Feel like their thoughts are racing
  • Think they can do a lot of things at once
  • Do risky things that show poor judgement, such as eat and drink excessively, spend or give away a lot of money, or have reckless sex
  • Feel like they are unusually important, talented, or powerful

During depressive episodes they may:

  • Feel very sad, “down,” empty, worried, or hopeless
  • Feel slowed down or restless
  • Having trouble falling asleep, wake up too early, or sleep too much
  • Experience increased appetite and weight gain
  • Talk very slowly, feel like they have nothing to say, forget a lot
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feel unable to do even simple things
  • Have little interest in almost all activities, a decreased or absent sex drive, or inability to experience pleasure
  • Feel hopeless or worthless, think about death or suicide

(Sometimes people may experience both manic and depressive symptoms in the same episode)

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis and treatment can help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and active lives. Talk to a Doctor or other licensed health care professional first. The Doctor can do a complete physical exam and medical tests to rule out other conditions. A mental evaluation is important as well and then referral to a trained mental health care provider, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

Treatments

Certain medications can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder and it may take trying a few different medications before finding one that works best. These generally include mood stabilizers and atypical anti psychotics. Other medications can help with sleep and anxiety. Health care professionals will often prescribe antidepressant medications to treat depressive episodes. Combining the antidepressant with a mood stabilizer can help prevent a triggering manic episode.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, is also called talk therapy and can be an effective part of the treatment plan. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that try to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Treatment may also include CBT or Cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Everyday things you can do to help

  • Regular Exercise
  • Keeping a life chart: keeping track of moods and talking with a licensed provider
  • Therapy
  • A structured and regular schedule
  • Healthy environment
  • Safe outlets to talk to

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Genetic and environmental factors can create vulnerability to bipolar disorder. Life events like childhood trauma are thought to play a huge role in bipolar disorder. Research know that once bipolar disorder occurs, traumatic events precipitate its recurrence. Incidents of interpersonal difficulty and abuse are most commonly associated with triggering the disorder. I have noticed that unresolved trauma really plays a part in bipolar which is important for individuals to try and work through the trauma, in order to help manage the manic or depressive episodes.

Resources

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 which is available 24/7

Crisis Hotline: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7

If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide

  • Tell someone who can help right away
  • Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one
  • Call your doctor or health care provider
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department or call 911

If a loved one is considering suicide

  • Do not leave him or her alone
  • Try to get a loved one to seek immediate help from a Doctor, health care provider or nearest hospital or call 911
  • Call the suicide hotline (that’s what I did and they were a wonderful help)
  • Remove access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications

Coping with Bipolar Disorder

  • Get treatment and stick with it. It takes time and its not easy but it is necessary
  • Keep medical and therapy appointments
  • Take all medicines as directed
  • Structure activities: keep a routine for sleeping and eating, and exercise
  • Learn to recognize your mood swings and warning signs, like decreased sleep
  • Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment
  • Be patient; improvement takes time. Social support helps
  • Avoid misuse of alcohol and drugs.

How it has impacted me and my family

I have been dealing with this emotional roller coaster since high-school but my mom has lived in Iowa and hasn’t physically been around for years. I always prayed for her and hoped one day we could have a good relationship. There are other factors of why we haven’t had a relationship but I know a huge one is because of mental illness. It has been hard for me to be emphatic to her because of some hurtful things she has said to me and how she has been missing out of my life for the past 10 years. We have gotten into a lot of arguments and it can be difficult on me and on her. I get mad when she sleeps all day and get mad when she does other things that I don’t agree with. I am frustrated with the mental health system right now. I finally got her some help and she agreed but the inpatient facility she was in was horrible. The workers treated them bad, there were constant fights that would break out, and my mom felt unsafe so she left. I don’t blame her but it’s so disappointing how the system failed her. When someone doesn’t have money they are put into terrible facilities and really just comes down to money. We aren’t rich and don’t have the means to put her in a good treatment center but I wish she could get actual help. I know she would succeed if she was in the right environment that cared for her and made her feel safe. She has always been a great mother and she has a heart of gold. She means really well and she is one of the most selfless people I know. I wish she knew how wonderful she truly was and how we all need her. My brother and sister love her a lot too and I am thankful to have my sister to talk to about all of it. We will not give up on our mom. We know that she can be better but sometimes it gets very discouraging that she won’t. When she recently came back into my life in Georgia a few months ago I was so excited to have her around but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It wouldn’t be easy to be to connect right away, it wouldn’t be easy to relive a lot of past pain and trauma, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch her suffer, it wouldn’t be easy for me to watch this roller coaster of emotions, and it hasn’t been easy. I struggle between wanting to do everything I can to help and feeling like I can save her or fix her but then I struggle with knowing that I can only do so much.

Loving someone who has mental illness is really freaking hard and especially when you deal with mental illness yourself. I am diagnosed with anxiety, panic, depression, and PTSD. I am still working through some of my own experiences and trying to heal and be the best person I can be. For years, I stayed away from my mom and other people because I had to set boundaries for my own physical and mental health. To be honest, I am scared to even speak on this publicly for the retaliation I may get. I know that this is personal and some of this isn’t my story to tell, but my heart strings are pulling on me that it needs to be shared. People need to start to do more research, ask more questions and have more empathy. I am trying to have more empathy but the fact I am a very emphatic person means I need to set boundaries and make sure I am taking care of my mental health and myself first. These past few weeks have been really draining and I have had a lot of anxiety. We don’t know what the outcome will be but I will keep praying and hoping for recovery and for change. I will keep learning about bipolar and many other disorders. For the ones who are feeling like me, just know you are not alone! Make sure to go to therapy, journal, baths, walks, breaks from your phone, learn to say no, and take moments for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope this blog post can spread more awareness and help someone in need. Feel free to comment or reach out to me if you would like to discuss this more!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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Depression · Mental Health · self-help

Fighting the Darkness of Depression

I have been wanting to talk about this topic for a while, and I have also got quite a few requests on how I cope with it. I wish I could say “overcame” it but I am still dealing with it off and on, and as I write this, I have been in a down spot so it has been difficult to even start writing about it.

Depression is such a heavy word and to people who don’t deal with it or know much about it, they may think it looks like someone who looks very sad or down. Not true! There are a lot of times I have been depressed but I have posed for photos smiling and posting acting like everything is great. Sometimes we are trying to fool even ourselves, and want the world to think everything is okay. We also don’t want to come off like we are complaining or not being grateful. People want to see the highlights on social media and want to see the happy photos, right? Although, I am learning through this journey the more open I have been about feeling depressed- I have connected on such a deeper level with people. Once I started stepping into who I am and sharing that with the world, and not being ashamed of it is when I started to get my control back and started to give myself more grace. Not saying my “identity” is being a depressed person, because no it is not. It does not DEFINE me, but it is apart of who I am and I have accepted that.

What does depression look like on me (& maybe the same for you)

  • Overload on social media to get attention
  • Ignoring people for days
  • Not being able to talk on the phone
  • Lying in bed & zoned out for days
  • Hard to connect with others, but longing a deeper connection
  • Wanting to go out and have a social life, but feeling too down to face other people
  • Can’t focus on work, school, honestly on any daily tasks
  • All over the place with emotions
  • Days that are very HIGH and you feel very excited, motivated, inspired, and share a lot- but then come down off that and feel isolated and alone
  • Buying things (online shopping) to make yourself feel better at that moment
  • Constantly looking back at the past
  • Eating fast food, or indulging a lot of food that feels good for that second-for some not eating
  • Binge drinking, and going out when you are upset
  • Excessive guilt and blaming yourself
  • Shaming yourself and speaking badly of yourself
  • Sitting in the bath and listening to very sad songs
  • Thoughts of harm to get rid of the pain
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Feeling like a dark cloud is constantly over you and you are trapped

My story:

 My depression started when I was a freshman high school but at the time, I had no idea that’s what it was. I remember always listening to sad music and watching sad movies to sit there and cry. I would actually crave this kind of sadness, almost like I started to become obsessed with being sad or down. I always longed for “more” and would get into this fantasy world, instead of being present in the world I had in front of me. There were many factors of why I was depressed, so my feelings were completely valid, but I did not channel this energy correctly at the time. What’s the correct way anyways? I would drown the pain being surrounded by the wrong crowds, smoke, pills, drinking, unhealthy relationships. I didn’t know how to process my emotions; all I knew is that I had a lot of emotions. I was always (and still am) known for being very open about my life, and to some people that can be a lot. I used to be too much for people and I used to think that was a flaw of mine, and that I needed to stop sharing so much of myself. I felt so judged and felt embarrassed about who I was. I didn’t want people knowing my mistakes or knowing that part of me that made bad decisions because she was hurting. At that young age, a lot of my friends didn’t understand this kind of deep hurt. They were just regular high school people and trying to live it up and have fun. They were worried about what college they were going to go to, and I was just hoping I made it through another day. I was so envious of this and felt jealous of their lives. I would constantly compare and get mad at myself for how my life was.

“Comparison is the theif of joy.”

I started to hold a lot in and not deal with feelings, and just act like everything was okay. I remember always feeling so exhausted every morning and not being able to talk to people. Going into work and everybody would be bubbly and talkative, and it would give me anxiety to even have conversations with people. Sometimes I would call out of work because I could not face dealing with people in general. I did not want them to see me down, and I felt like it was written all over my face. I stopped wanting to share things with people because I stopped trusting others, and started feeling like I had to be more selective. I felt like people could use it against me, and I did not want them knowing I was weak. I was always a “social butterfly” from a young age, and I wanted to keep that up but so much was going on that I was really losing myself throughout this sadness. For so long, I had to be strong and to continue to survive. I was always in survival mode and that weighed very heavy on me. This is a lot for someone in their teens and twenties to deal with, and it starts to catch up on you.

With my image, I didn’t want to feel like I always had issues or “drama” because didn’t want people to not want to be around me. I know it can be intense to hear things all the time, and you don’t want others to worry about you. I learned this from being on the other side of worrying about someone with depression and hearing about situations a lot. Depression heavily runs through my family and I have seen A LOT of hardships.

At times I would feel like a bad friend for not going and hanging out, or not calling someone. Luckily, I have found a great support system that understands me, and I have been able to tell them these things and now I don’t feel as bad. I definitely have my moments though! I do have moments of feeling crazy, like why am I feeling this way when I have a roof over my head, food, loving husband, friends, family, and I AM HEALTHY AND ALIVE. I feel like I come off ungrateful since I do have so much, and then I say well some people have it WAY worse than me, so why am I sitting here sobbing? Yes, people do have it worse, but that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid and true. Honor those feelings and acknowledge them! When you are going through something, it is very real for you and so do not feel bad for feeling that way.

My depression got really bad before I moved to Georgia and I was going out more, and using tactics to “not deal with it.” I was making bad decisions and felt so exhausted from these feelings for so long. I started to feel super depressed again while living in Georgia because I felt very alone. It always goes back to that feeling of being alone, feeling lonely, lack of connection, guilt over the past, and comparing myself to others and their progress in life. It started to get to the point where I couldn’t go to work or do normal activities. I felt like I was always looking backward and into the past and living there. I would constantly go through old photos, post old photos, and would wish things could be different. This is when I knew I needed professional help, and I was so scared to get it but I was more scared to keep living in these thoughts.

How therapy helped and gave me the tools to heal

I was actually really proud of myself for getting professional help, and for those of you listening do not be ashamed if you do! That is a sight of strength. I have learned it is okay to ask for help, and that I do not need to keep living my life this way, and it is time to rise above. Therapy is where it started and wow that has changed my life. First, I tried Cognitive behavioral therapy which is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. It focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortion’s and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems. I would go into therapy and tell her current situations going on, and she would help me change the way I think about them and the way I react. It was about training my brain to change my “usual” response and to rewire it to a healthier response. These tools helped me a lot! I started to be able to communicate my feelings more and be able to understand myself better. I realized I am not crazy, and that there are reasons why I think this way. I stopped going to that therapist and saw another and it was more basic therapy that worked better for me. I loved the tools from the first, but never be afraid to switch therapist if the one you have isn’t working for you! I love the one I have now and have seen her for three years. She has helped me understand things on such a deeper level, and it is crazy how much comes from our past, and how we are used to handling things. She has been able to really help me work through past stuff and find the strength to create boundaries and loving relationships that will last and to mainly love myself and to not be so hard on myself. My feelings and experiences were very valid and so are yours!

Psychiatry experience

My therapist recommended seeing a Psychiatrist for me to get on medication and this is when a whole new world started. For those of you curious about these appointments, they are an EXPERIENCE, to say the least. I went to my first appointment, and there is a student in school who is the assistant asking me over 100 questions and to rate my feelings about topics on a 1-5 scale. This is so scary because you almost don’t want to be honest about your suicidal thoughts, so you don’t get committed on a 72-hour hold, and you also don’t know how you truly feel. It is a weird experience, and there is no in-between or being able to explain the reason you feel this way. It is based on numbers, facts, and way different than therapy. Then, I met with the nurse and talked to her about my situation, and then the Doctor came in for like 1 min and handed me my prescriptions. It is very business-like and not a “feel good” experience. I left there with 4 prescriptions, and was more terrified than ever! At the time I was planning a wedding, dealing with my husband traveling for work, personal issues, and working and school full time. I needed these meds in order to handle all of this, honestly.

My medication journey

I started my journey with anti-depressants, sleeping meds, and two different anxiety meds. It was very hard because you can’t drink on them, and not like I drink much but the occasional wine I had to be very careful about. Then the weight gain started and this really made me mad! I kept wondering why I couldn’t lose weight, and it made sense because I was on so many medications. The anti-depressant I was on was an SSRI that have fewer side effects than past anti-depressants. For those who don’t know, SSRI is Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by limiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, which increases the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft available to bind to the receptor. Basically, it increases your level of serotonin and makes more available to pass further messages between nearby nerve cells.

I will say medication truly saved my life and helped me connect more to people again. I was able to make phone calls, hang out with people, go to work, work out, and have a healthy relationship with myself. I would highly recommend medication to anyone who thinks they need help and do not feel ashamed for doing so!

Getting off anti-depressants

A few years later, I got to a point where I wanted my body to be more natural and to let go of all the meds. I felt happy and in a better place so thought I could do it. You are supposed to slowly wing of anti-depressants and I did and followed all orders. Although, it was one of the hardest things I ever went through last year. I was having brain zaps, out-of-body experiences, depression, anxiety, fatigue, hard to connect with others, and basically, all my symptoms came back. I thought I was never going to be the same and thought this would never end. During this time, I highly suggest you eat really healthy, get a lot of sleep, and make sure to have people you trust to watch you and support you. Continue therapy because I think that is one of the main things that got me through it. I still take meds to help me sleep, because at night is when I get super anxious and start thinking about so many different topics. I think of things I need to get done, things I have been lacking on, and just things in general. My mind races and I can’t turn it off, and so the sleeping meds and have helped me so much. When I get good sleep then I can be functional the next day, and it also helps me with my depression. After a very LONG 5 months winging off these meds, I started to feel back to normal. Although, I still have very big highs and low lows so I am never against going back on them if I need them.

The Silver Lining

I started being more grateful for my flaws, and for my journey. My heartaches, setbacks, and pain are what has made me a stronger person, and someone who has a story to tell. Through my stories I have been able to help others, and that is something I have always wanted to do but didn’t know-how. I would try to help others see the good in them because I saw their potential, even when they didn’t. That can be very draining and exhausting! This also put me in very toxic relationships of trying to be a “fixer,” when really, that person needs to work on themselves and I can support and love them for who they are. The real energy needs to go into me and worrying about that. It doesn’t mean you are being a bad person, and it is okay to be selfish. Selfish always sounds like a bad word, but YOU NEED TO BE. You need to put yourself first, because if you don’t take care of you then you can’t have loving relationships with others. I am still working on this, but I can say that I have overcome a lot. I have found healthier ways to cope with and actually deal with my emotions. I try not to avoid what I am feeling, but the most important lesson I can give you from my experience is…..

“It is OKAY to feel down, feel your feelings, but do not stay in them”

This was a very hard lesson for me to learn, and I still struggle with it. I think when I would sulk for too long, and continue that sad playlist then I would stay down and in this endless cycle that I could not pull myself out of. I have to put on upbeat music and have to do more things that light my soul on fire, and that inspires me. I have to do more things for me, and do things that make me feel confident, happy, and alive! Your feelings are valid and I hope this post makes you feel less crazy and less alone in your feelings.

“Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness”

What has helped me fight the darkness

  • Don’t do things you don’t wanna do & don’t feel GUILTY for not going
  • When you are exhausted learn to rest and not be hard on yourself for doing so
  • Do activities that make you feel happy
  • Therapy: CBT, DBT, or regular mental health help
  • DBT workbook: From Amazon, it is a workbook that gives you exercises for learning mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation & distress tolerance
  • Getting out into nature
  • Medication(Seek out professional help for this and do research)
  • Showering, washing my face, brushing my teeth! (These simple tasks can even be difficult when feeling down)
  • Less drinking and going out. Alcohol is a depressant and it is easy to drink the worries away, but it can end up bad if you go out in that mindset
  • More me time (Self-care)
  • Yoga
  • Opening up about my depression and talking about it, and to talk to people when I feel down and get support
  • Having people you can trust and talk to
  • Creating boundaries
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Don’t look back at the past, use it as a learning experience and make peace with it.
  • Focus on the PRESENT 🙂
  • Essential oils: Lavender and Frankincense oil are amazing combos! (I always have a diffuser by my bed and in my office) I also spray lavender on my pillow before bed to help me calm down and relax before sleeping
  • Meditation: Apps I use are; Headspace, Insight Timer, Simple Habit, & Mindbliss
  • Journaling: This is very healing and feels good to let things out and down on paper
  • Having my dog helps me get out of bed and forces me to get outside for walks- which can be difficult but ends up helping my mood overall
  • Eating healthier: The body and mind are connected and we store a lot of stress in our gut, and that can lead to stomach issues and more.
  • Connecting with other like-minded people
  • Self Help Books: *The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, *YOU ARE A BADASS by Sincero, *10% Happier by Dan Harris, *Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  • A fun/uplifting playlist (Spotify has ones based on mood)
  • Allowing yourself to feel sad and acknowledging the emotions, working through them, but not staying in that down mindset
  • Forgiveness (Forgive yourself and others)
  • Have compassion for yourself and be thankful for all you’ve overcome
  • My grandma Duffy taught me to put makeup on and get dressed because when you look good you feel good- and feel more confident

You got this

I just want to say if you are struggling right now with depression you are not alone, and you will overcome this. I hope these tools will help and I hope my story will help you feel less alone. There are so many resources so do not go through this on your own. You are loved, valued, and seen. By the way, I am not a professional so this is all based on personal experience and what I have learned along the way.

Sending love and light

XOXO

Tuscany

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