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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