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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Life · loving yourself · Mental Health · Self-Care · self-love

Choose Empathy

“We want to be there for others but not lose ourselves in the process”

This topic is important to me and especially during these times it is crucial we learn how to choose empathy. What is empathy anyway? It’s a very complex word but basically it is the ability to understand and share feelings of another person and being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is truly amazing to have this level of understanding and skill but it can come with some downsides if you don’t fully take control of it and understand it. I decided to research more about empathy because honestly, I knew I have the skill set of putting myself in someone else’s shoes but to what extent is it harmful to our mental and physical health?


3 Types of Empathy:

  • Cognitive: “Perspective taking.” Knowing how the other person feels or putting yourself in their shoes.
  • Emotional: Feeling someone else’s emotions physically almost like they are contagious. This level can be overwhelming to take over the full emotions and mental state of another
  • Compassionate: We understand someone’s tough situation and want to help (basically considering the whole person) This is the “ideal” level of empathy to have. When someone comes to you in tears about a situation and you want to provide comfort and help in any way you can but using your intelligent side of knowing how to handle the situation and not fully take on all the emotions of the other person.

I was so shocked to hear that there are 3 different levels of this but wow it honestly made sense!

Benefits of being empathetic:

  • Being able to be there for someone else and help
  • Being trusted by another person
  • Being a good listener
  • Being a good support system for someone
  • Someone feels seen or heard by you
  • Reduces stress
  • Healing
  • Personal growth
  • Nourishes connections and deepens bonds
  • More awareness
  • Compassion for others
  • Love
  • Transforms conflict to support
  • Makes a positive social change

Negative impacts of being empathetic:

  • Can cause deep suffering
  • Can put you in a dark mental space
  • Emotionally taking on the hurt of others
  • Caring a lot and not being able to not give your all to someone
  • Difficult on mental and physical well-being
  • Rational decision making issues
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Sadness
  • Depression/ anxiety/ panic disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Making excuses for others
  • Obsessing over situations
  • Drama
  • Anger or frustration
  • Isolation
  • Getting taken advantaged of
  • Not having boundaries
  • Losing money or anything you have to help someone else

Honestly, I have always been an empathic person and it is something that has really shaped who I am to the core. I have been through really tough life challenges and I can relate to people on some deep personal levels which has been a really good thing in a lot of ways. Many people have opened up to me and trusted me with some really personal and sad stories which I am so grateful they feel comfortable sharing with me. I have been able to be there for a lot of my friends and family. I try not to judge and over the years I have tried to listen more then just respond. I know that this is a good quality to have because I see the best in people and have a lot of patience (which a lot of people struggle with). It has helped me as well to learn what other people go through, how they cope, how they struggle, and they have helped give me tips to help me in my mental health journey. They have made me realize things about myself in that process and have taught me patience and understanding. The thing is, I have really struggled with being too empathic and it has been a huge reason I get so anxious and depressed. I think because I have been through so much and care so much that I am in stage 2 of empathy of physically taking on the feelings of someone else but constantly working to be at stage 3.

For so long, I would listen to personal issues from family members or whoever and it would make me sad to my core. I would sit there and worry and stress and try to think of solutions for them. I would talk about it with many different people and get people worked up and get myself worked up and upset in the process. I would sit there and cry and feel so sad for whoever to the point it would leave me in a dark depression for days to weeks. I would sit there and worry about someone so much but then all of a sudden they would tell me that they are fine and everything is solved. I wonder, “why in the heck did I sit here trying to come up with a solution if it wasn’t a big deal to begin with and they are fine!?” or they would disappear and I would sit there and worry about if they are alive or how they are doing yet no response. It would literally PISS me off. I felt so taken advantage of and was mad at myself for caring so much. It started to put me in an anger phase of my healing where I would distance myself from anyone who brought this into my life and would shut them out. I would start to not care and really change the way I handled these situations. The thing is, I am not an angry person and I don’t want to shut people out! I want to still be myself and be able to be caring and listen to what people are going through but I knew I couldn’t physically take it on anymore because of my mental health. I really think because I have suffered so deeply and I know how it feels that I don’t want the ones I love to suffer so I want to help. I don’t want the ones I love in pain plain and simple.

I started to go to therapy and the biggest thing I learned was how to set boundaries with my loved ones. This did not go well with some people who do not understand or like boundaries because that means they can’t throw all their shit on me anymore to absorb and I wouldn’t sit there and feel sorry for them. My therapist taught me to literally tell the people, “okay, you have 5 minutes to talk about this and then I don’t want to hear about it again.” SETTING A BOUNDARY! I want to hear you out and be there for you but I will not let it consume every conversation we have and be the #1 person you dump out all your drama too. (Also, I am not talking about someone struggling with mental health or something, mainly talking about people who constantly have drama in their life and feed off that drama and enjoy it- and make big deals out of things and then say aren’t a big deal, and say one thing and do another, etc!) This also means not answering calls if I cant mentally listen to it and to not feel bad about that. To be okay saying no or that I will call you back when I can. Setting boundaries was the healthiest thing I could have done for myself and it is an act of self-care and self-love. You can still be there for someone and support them without taking on the emotional rollercoaster towards your mental health. I have always been a people pleaser and I have wanted to be liked which meant I would invite drama in just to be liked and I would allow people to suck the energy out of me. I would worry SO much about someone else that I would forget about the most important person in my life, and that was me. I realized I wasn’t taking good care of MY mental health and I wasn’t doing anyone any good by worrying about their problems.

I feel like a huge part of my anxiety and depression and have been from worrying about my loved ones (mainly family). I wanted so badly to control the outcome and for them to be okay. I thought I could save them and by me being there that they would make a change. Instead, it almost completely broke me down to the point I didn’t even know how to be there for myself. This has taken a lot of time, therapy, tears, frustrations, arguments, self-discipline, self-awareness, trial and error, boundaries, and self-love. Sometimes, I ended up being so distant from people because they are not understanding my boundaries and I don’t know how else to show them so I just stay away.

I want you to know that being an empathic person is such a true gift and the world needs more of us. People need someone who truly cares and wants to be there for them. They need someone to try to understand or not talk down on them when they are expressing their worries. Especially right now, the world needs more people to understand how others are struggling and how some situations are a lot harder then others. It is SO great to have a deep care for people and want to help them heal or get better.

ALTHOUGH, realize that you can’t change anyone nor should you want or have to. Love someone for who they are and accept them for where they are at. Continue to be you and show your heart to the world.

Be there for people, listen, truly care, try to ask more questions, try to see their side before forcing your own situations of what you been through on them (but use this as a tool to relate if they need guidance), understand that even though you are OK and these aren’t your fears that they are someone else’s and they are VALID. How you feel is VALID! Never let someone undermine you or make you feel like you are making a big deal for nothing because that is not true.

The takeaway from this is, continue to be you but know how to set boundaries, try not to physically take on someone else’s pain, know that just by you listening is enough, know that you are helping others, know when its time to take a step back, know when you need to focus on you, be okay with not answering a phone call or calling someone back right away, learn how to say no in a kind way, learn how to communicate with people if you’re too emotionally depleted to take on anything more, understand that we can only do so much for someone, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, people are going to do whatever they want no matter how much advice or how many times you have told them and that’s OK, people might be in worse situations but that doesn’t mean your situation isn’t bad! Try to see other perspectives and see where someone is coming from before you judge them or completely shut down their feelings or ideas.

I learned that it was important to take care of my life first and make sure that I am mentally and physical stable. I needed to put MYSELF and my Husband first because that is my core family. I needed to take time away from people who emotionally drained me and to try not to feel guilty or let others make me feel guilty for not being there. Guide people in the right direction and love them but know that I can’t change the outcome of the situation. I am choosing to live a happy life and one that I will continue to learn and work hard at everyday. I am not perfect and I am still learning….I still have my weaknesses especially when it comes to my parents. It is important to not project your anger on someone else and judge someone else for their situation. Ask more questions and try to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself and put your needs first. Have patience for yourself and know that you are making a difference in the world just by that!

I feel like there is still so much more on this topic but I will leave it at this for now..I would love to hear your journey or your thoughts so feel free to comment, send me an email, or message and we can chat more.

We are collectively going through a hard time right now so have empathy for one another. Spread love! Instead of quickly judging someone and commenting something mean on their post- take a step back and wonder why is this upsetting me? Why do I want to post this? Is this nice? Is this kind? Is this necessary? If not, then maybe try to see things from a different light and ask more questions and send a private message and have a conversation. We are all struggling with different things during this Pandemic and with life in GENERAL so just be kind yall!

Thank you for your constant support and love. I am so grateful to have this blog to be able to share this with you and to be more vulnerable in hopes to help someone else.

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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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