How I got Diagnosed with my Mental Illnesses

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Sometimes, it is important in order to share someone’s story with another, that way they can learn what to expect when it comes to their mental health diagnosis. Not every diagnosis is going to be the same, everyone is going to be different from the rest but a lot share similar stories. Many of us were afraid of what we were going to find out from the doctors who we were seeking medical help with, afraid that perhaps, we did have something wrong with our brains. There was a fear within us of what others were going to think of us, a fear of what they might say when they found out that we were ill. It is something that no one wants, to deal with the stigma that others throw at them. Perhaps that is what everyone fears. Well I am here to tell you that everyone who has been in your shoes has had that fear and it is okay to seek help. Seeking help is what you need to do in order to help yourself feel better. This is why I am sharing my story, to let others know that it is okay to seek help; that sometimes, there might be some potholes along the way but it is still okay. If you need help, then you need help.

It started in August 2014, when I was feeling severe periods of depression. I went into the doctors in order to talk to them about it. While there, I was give a high dose of prozac in order to help with my symptoms. Satisfied and believing that this would be work, I went home without complaint. Well, I lasted around three months. During those three months, I acted far more strangely compared to what I normally would. The medicine seemed to make me act as though I was on a sugar rush, making me talk really fast and get really hyper. It was a strange feeling for me, something that I really could not control at all. Along with this sudden shifts of moods came the sudden crashes that occurred with it. I would become depressed and moody, not wanting to do anything at all. I took no notice of it all all, not really thinking anything of my moods. That was until an event that happened in January 2014.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all to be coming from me. I was checking out a client and I had another stylist who had come along. Although I was struggling with the computers a bit, I was more than determined to figure it out. Unfortunately, it didn’t help that I had her commanding me about in the background, trying to tell me what to do. I was getting angry and before I knew what I was saying, I told her to “Leave me the fuck alone.” I am certain she was completely surprised with everything that I had said, especially since I was generally a quiet figure who never said much at all. Afterwards, I was brought into the office and given a written warning and asked why I did it. And in all honesty, I told her I couldn’t even remember what I told her. I told her that everything happened so fact that it was such a blur for me. Probably one of the reasons why I was only given a written. The rest of my week was miserable and my anxiety seemed to increase dramatically. Everything bothered me, including the littlest things that the stylist said to me. I became cautious with everything that had happened around me that I began to worry about my own health, which is where the research began.

I was beginning to realize that what I was experiencing was not just depression but something else. Depression would not make you high and plummet ten times worse than what you were before. It was then in which I began to dig and do a little research, deciding to see what I could find. It was while I was searching that I came across Bipolar and interesting enough, the symptoms were similar to mine. A lot of what was described, including it acting up under antidepressants, was exactly what I was experiencing so therefore, I booked an appointment with a new doctor. It was now February, due to the fact I felt the last one never listened to me at all. Once meeting my doctor, she agreed that my symptoms were similar to that of bipolar and therefore, put me on medicine to help me manage it while setting up arrangements to see a psychiatrist.

Now, for some reason, it took me two years to get a psychiatrist but once I did, he confirmed that I had bipolar, as well as a possible personality disorder. He also concluded that I also have anxiety into the mix (oh goody!). He updated my medicine and now keeps an eye on me every month of so to make sure that everything is going well. Other than that, that is pretty much all I do for my appointments. They are pretty much an in and out basis just to make sure I am alright and that I am not emotionally distressed.

Now, everyone had a different experience whenever it comes to getting diagnosed. Some get diagnosed right away while others get multiple other diagnosis before they actually get the right one. Just don’t get discourage and everything will be alright. I promise.

Please, don’t comment about my skin..

t3sirvhThis is a picture of me. By looking at me, people would assume that there is nothing wrong with me, that my skin is perfectly flawless. If only people actually knew the truth of what I actual deal with. I wish that I could be the type of person to admit that, beyond the makeup that I wear are the endless amount of scars from the picking that I have done to myself over the past years. Perhaps I should explain myself a bit.

I have Dermatillomania, otherwise known as obsessive skin picking.

It was something that I learned was not enjoyable at all, especially with the standards of beauty of today society. Today, we are all supposed to have beautiful skin and hair and when you have dermatillomania, it doesn’t happen, especially when you cannot help but to pick at the scarbs as well as acne that is on my face. No, according to the beauty industry, we are all supposed to have these beautiful faces with no imperfections at all. Imagine how I feel when I hear that is the standard of beauty. It is something that I cannot say that I am proud of. I am not proud of my picking but again, I cannot control it. Not at all. Half of the time, I really do not even know that I am even picking my face.

This became a problem around my High School time, when stress was high and I needed a way in order to calm myself down. The way to do it was to pick at my face. It was an unhealthy way but for some reason, my mind thought about doing it and half the time, I absentmindedly did it. Throughout my time of skin picking, my peers would make fun of me, muttering comments about what I was doing and teasing me about it but I really couldn’t stop. I could not find a way to stop. It was not something that I could do. My mind just did not have any control in stopping. It made it rather difficult for me, making me question everything that I was doing. Not only was I teased for picking my face and causing more open wounds on my face, but I also was teased for my appearance as well. Life was the same after school, but this time, I had total strangers come up to me and comment about ways to clear up my acne. It was embarrassing, considering that they didn’t know what I was dealing with at the time. Even today, people seem to comment about my skin picking, especially whenever they seeing me picking at my skin. They seem not to understand Dermatillomania and what it really means. Well let me explain.

To put it nicely, it is hell. Half of the time, I don’t even know that I am picking at my fact because I am absentmindedly doing it. It is something that I cannot control, something that I really wish that I could control for it would easily prevent the stares and the comments from the other people who seem to enjoy making towards me. Not only has this cost me my face by causing countless of scars but it caused a lot of interior scars as well, making it difficult for me to actually deal with certain things. I used to be so carefree but now, I am cautious with my appearance, hating to get my picture taken without any ounce of makeup on my face. I need makeup on my face. My self esteem has also lowered because of it, making it difficult to actually accept compliments from people whenever they are given to me. Everything is just so much harder now thanks to the fact that this I deal with all thanks to my skin picking.

If you know anyone who suffers from Dermatillomania, please be kind to them. They deal with enough suffering deep inside from the comments of others around them. Try to be supportive and help them out, that way, they have someone to talk to whenever they need someone. You never know who a person might need when they least expect it.

Physical vs Mental Illness

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Above is a comic strip of what would happen if we treated physical illness the same way we treat mental illnesses. As we all know, or as most of us know, both mental and physical illness can be serious and yet, physical illnesses are often treated as more important than mental. Both are serious, both needed to be treated and yet one isn’t taken seriously. But why?

It is believed that mental illnesses are not taken seriously because of the fact that they are invisible illnesses and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Because of this, it makes it harder for a person to believe whether or not a person is ill or not. With a mental illness, it is not “all inside of their head”. A person is not faking their illness in order to gain some sort of attention from someone around them. No, they actually do have the illness, whether it be bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc. they have  something going on with their brains. It is these problems which are common misunderstood and make for an interesting topic. Now when a person is mentally ill and ends up in a hospital, you don’t see flowers and balloons sent in their directions, with well wishes and hopes of feeling better. No, the family tends to hide it from the rest of the world, not wanting them to know that this person, this one person in this household is flawed within their brain. It is a said truth that happens in many households and has been happening for many years. Years before, the mentally ill were locked up, hidden away from the rest of the world. They were classified as an embarrassment to the family. Perhaps, we still see it as that embarrassment factor.

Now lets compare that to when you break your arm and you get on a cast. When that happens, everyone rushes over just to sign it, making sure that they got their autograph on your cast. Sometimes, people send you flowers but there is empathy shown within your direction, people show that they care for you. It is something that most people do whenever someone breaks an arm. Same goes for the fact when a person is deathly ill, people show that same sort of compassion towards them, knowing that it is something that most people  deal with in their lifetime. It is something that everyone shows. Yet people who have mental illness never receive this sort of love, they are commonly ignores and pushed aside.

But what if we stopped to think about how we treated the mentally ill and started to become a bit more accepting towards the illness in general. What if we decided to allow our hearts to open up towards them and listen to everything that we could offer towards them. Maybe a good place to start is to offer a listening ear and not pass any judgement on them, knowing that they deal with enough judgement as is. Also, send them some kind words when needed for you never know when those dark thoughts might be creeping up within their minds and trying to control. Be a friend to them and chances are, you would have a good friend for life.

Just remember, your brain needs just as much care as the rest of your body does, if not more.

The Anti-Social Disorder

Anti-social. It is something that I hear way too often from people who I am around. Often times, when I am around people, I am told to interact more with people, to get to know people who I don’t really know. If only they knew how difficult it could be for me, especially with the fact that I already have Bipolar. So what am I getting at here. Does Bipolar have a connection bring anti-social? I believe so.

I was never like this when I was a child though. I was completely the opposite. A social butterfly, I was more than willing to talk to anyone who I could possibly see. Even throughout High School and College, I had no problem talking to people. It was a gift that I had, being a charismatic person with the ability to talk to anyone. That changed when I got into my first salon however. I was beaten to death by the words of the other stylist, hurting my self esteem, which in turn ruined me. It brought up my anxiety and allowed my bipolar to rear its ugly head and prove that it was something to be feared. I pulled back away from people, including those who I considered my friends and family. I didn’t know who I really could trust anymore. There wasn’t anyone. No one I knew really understood me, I felt, no one knew what I was going through. It became a challenge for me to actually fit in with those around me, to trust anyone who I actually became close with before. Who could I actually trust with my illness? After finding being diagnosed, I didn’t know who to turn to.

When I began to tell those about my illness, I began loosing friends, those who didn’t understand the illness and did not want anything to deal with it. It scared me, considering that I was afraid what I would have left. I pulled back even further from people, to the point of where I am now, i really don’t know how to socialize with people anymore. I have forgotten how to socialize. For me, it doesn’t come naturally and it is troubling when people talk to me. I find it quite difficult at times to start conversations, always finding a way to end them quickly or to pull them away from a subject that is non confrontational. Even the simplest task of asking someone how their day is happens to be of some trouble for me. I lose myself within my words. scrambling within the jumbling mess that rests within my head. It is all too much for me to deal with at times. I cannot get my words straightened out. How I wish I can. Then comes the fact that I want to shy away from other people, that I literally want to pull myself away and hide myself in the corner. Being around a group of louder people exhausts me and while I can be loud at times, I need my space and my peace. I like my time to myself without others bothering me or getting in my way. Is that really too much to ask? I certain do not hope so.

But yet, even my emotions seem to provide me with some problems. I am not one who commonly shows my emotions out loud, as my boyfriend likes to put it and therefore, it makes it rather hard to tell what I am exactly feeling deep inside. I was never one to really share my emotions, I never thought that would be an issue but it has seemed to have gotten worse with age. Now, I hide them well, portraying the famed “bitch face” rather well. Not only that but there are plenty of times in which that I should have cried at a funeral and I never have. Why? I really do not know. Perhaps it was because in my mind, I felt that it wasn’t right for me to cry. There was something inside of me that told me that I needed to be brave and not cry like everyone else. It is something that always seems to be playing in my mind. Put on the brave face and don’t let anyone see your weakness. It is what always plays in my head, especially with my illnesses that I must deal with. I must not allow others to see them as weaknesses. It is not something that I can let them witness, especially with all of the stigma that surrounds them.

Yet, I am not apparently the only one who feels anti-social with Bipolar disorder. It is apparent that other people who have Bipolar disorder also seem to suffer from this as well. While looking on one of the support groups, I saw many topics talking about members being anti-social and concerns about it, especially with how anti-social they were. It seems that this is something that people with bipolar seem to have a common trait with? Perhaps that is due to the fact that we all have this fear that, deep down inside, someone might be out there, judging us for our illness. There is someone out there who is judging us, who doesn’t understand our illness nor doesn’t want to try to understand it. The majority of us have already witnessed what it was like to be judged by another, to deal with the stigma from the people around us about this disorder that we are born with and yet, we still hold up that caution that is around us. Even with our family and friends, there is still that caution that they are going to judge us, no matter what they think about our illness. Perhaps it is unfair of us to think of such things but maybe we do have a right mind. Maybe most of the people with the disorder are like me. Perhaps most of them sit and stare at people, watching them intently and questioning whether or not they should interfere and talk to them or not. Question whether of not they should get to know more about they personality, to get to know the traits that sets them apart compared to others. After all, they say that people with bipolar tend to be more sensitive than others.

Perhaps, people with Bipolar just need to be understood.

Medicine and the Stigma Around It

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First of all, I thought a little humor to my blog post would work well for this post. At least at the moment before I actually get a little bit serious. The reason why I am posting this is because I always seem to get a comment about medicine and how I act. Yes, people seem to enjoy making comments about stuff like that. Something along the lines of: “You should really increase your medicine, you are not acting normal..”. Really? Because I am actually showing my personality, does not mean that I need my medicine upped. So guess what folks, I decided to write something about medicine some stigma around it.  That is right, I plan on getting down to the nitty gritty of medicine and letting you all know the truth about medicine.

So here is my list about the common stigmas that people have about medicine. Please note, this is not everything, for there is so much out there, it would be hard to post everything into one post.

  1. Your medicine isn’t working. You should really be upping your dose? Really? This is a comment that I often hear, especially when my actual personality is beginning to shine through. People seem to be unable to understand that your personality should be allowed to shine through with the medicine that you are on and you should not be a zombie. I have seen so many people who are zombie like in appearance all because of the medicine they are on, it is frightening. I personally don’t want to be like them at all.
  2. Did you take your medicine at all today? This ties in with the first one.  There are days in which the medicine will not work at all. Sorry guys but some days, it just won’t. Some days, the illness is a lot stronger than the medicine itself can handle, making it a lot harder in order to control. It is during these days that you must understand to be patient with us. We did not chose to be like this and we are trying the best that we can in order to control what we are feeling today. We really are.
  3. Perhaps you should go natural. It is much safer. Unfortunately, anything natural is not proven to help any symptoms that I am feeling with my illness. There is also a greater chance of it worsening as well.
  4. Exercise will help those problems disappear. Exercise will only help mild symptoms but when your symptoms are severe, chances are it will not help at all. Yet, it can help with the happiness but the effect is only limited to short term. Certain illnesses need more than just exercise – such as therapy and medicine – in order to keep their minds clear. Some people actually suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain which is severe enough where medicine is the only way to fix it.
  5. You know what that medicine can do to you right. Listen, I know what my medicine can do to me, which is why my doctor talks to me about it with me before he puts me on it. There is always a great disappointment in me when I listen to all the side effects that come from each of the pills that I take on a daily basis. However, I will admit that with the side effects that I deal with, each pill gives me strength to continue forwards and deal with my day as thought nothing was wrong with me. These medicines help me to live a normal life, something which I am rather grateful for to say the least. I could tell you that I could be one of those who hates my medicine but in truth, my medicine has provided me with so much freedom in my life that most would not expect at all.
  6. You take too many pills. Maybe you should decrease them? Are you a doctor now? Seriously, those type of people drive me nuts. Perhaps if you knew what I had to deal with on a daily basis, maybe you would understand why I took so many pills in the first place. There is a reason why. There is always a reason why I am taking that medicine and the reason why I need it. Perhaps it is best for you to just not ask about it.

So that is my list that I have come with and I know that there is plenty more out there. If you would like to share with me of some of the things that you have heard, please feel free to comment below! Also, let us try to prevent the stigma of mental illness and medicines. It is crazy how many times I hear these comments coming from others.

And as always, stay beautiful and happy, my friends!

Mental Illness and Relationships

There is something interesting about relationships and that is that they require a lot of effort. They tend to be rather difficult to deal with, especially in today’s world. Yet, when you add a mental illness to the equation, the difficulty only seems to increase completely. Everyone needs a sense of companionship, a person who they feel like they belong with, whether or not they wish to admit it. It is all apart of human nature. Without it, we are prone to the loneliness of our own minds, our own souls. We as humans are social beings and need socialization in order to keep us happy. It is the way of life.

Now the reason I am bringing this up is because I myself am in a relationship and I am often confused by how it goes. There are plenty of times that I feel like it is a winding path where I really don’t know if I am supposed to go left or right. I really don’t know. And let me tell you this, he is in the Navy so he is away until March so it is less hectic, at least I would imagine it would be, than what a real relationship would be. Yet, there are times that I often question whether or not he is happy. I myself am happy. I am very happy and have been told by my friends that they have never really seen me this happy before. Yet sometimes worry about him. Is he happy or is he just doing this for me?

This is the thing about having a mental illness especially with having anxiety, your mind is always in a constant worry. It is something that I cannot control and often times, I generally imagine that the worse is going to happen, even when I know that it will not. It is the way that it works inside of my head. You see, when I call or text him, my mind always tells me that he is not happy with me – that there is something bothering him that he doesn’t want to admit to telling me. I ask him all the time about it and he tell me that there is nothing wrong and yet, there is that constant fear that he is hiding something from me. It is this constant fear which sometimes keeps me up at night, which I often time have to remind myself to keep myself going and that my worries are not valid. It is hard but it is often something that I have to do.

Sometimes I just wish that I had someone who understood me to ease my mind a bit, who is able to understand me and what I am doing through. I am afraid that most people I know do not understand what I am going through nor do I tell them what I deal with on a daily basis. I am afraid of telling them exactly how I am feeling. Probably why I prefer writing it out on my blog than actually talking about it in person. It helps me to ease my mind and with the help and support of some of the people who read my blog, it just helps. I know that I should talk to him about this but I feel as though I would scare him away. Again, it is this constant fear that lingers within my head which I wish that I could just get rid of. Unfortunately, this is apart of my illness and I get to deal with it.

A Lesson From A Book

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch; To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird. This is by far one of my favorite books ever since High School. I admired it the first time that I read it, admired the small hints that were thrown in there by Harper about the social injustice and stigma of mental illness. For me, the book provided far many lessons that people could take away from, with the one of them being the lesson stated above. Now the reason why I am posting above is because tonight, I actually learned this lesson, learned not to be so judgmental of some other people. And that other person just happened to be one of my coworkers in the salon.

As I stated in one of my earlier posts, there was one coworker who was irritating me because she was scrubbing combs with a brush that we used for dishes.  There have been a couple of other things that have been irritating me about her and at times, I found myself getting snappy at her. Well tonight, I decided to get to know her a bit better. It was a slower night, which was something that was appreciated since the rest of the day had been busy. So while we were chilling out and relaxing, I asked her about her experience in other salons and what made her apply at this location. The answer was not what I was expecting at all.

She was telling me about how the girls that she worked at before were not the friendliest people that she could have possibly worked with. Every day when she went it, no one would talk to her and she would spend six hours in silence. That was not the worse of it. The worst of it is what happened to her tools. Now, before I continued onto that, one thing to understand is that a stylist prides themselves on their tools. They are also only as good as their tools. Any damage caused to them caused mistakes in the cuts. It fit started with someone picking up her clippers and accidentally dropping them, damaging them beyond repair. She ended up going through two more clippers and a pair of shears when someone replaced her disinfectant spray with alcohol, causing her tools to scratch up easily and rust. A lot of her tools were brand new as well. When she brought it up to the owner’s attention, he did nothing, telling her that nothing really could be done with what had happened.

That was until she met me at training and this is how, as she told me, she decided that she wanted to come join me at the salon I was at. She told me how she was inspired by me, by the fact that I had been out of hair after dealing with being tormented by people in the salon and yet, had not given up the hope to continue my dream. I had inspired her to continue her dream and to be apart of a salon in which no one would feel left out and everyone would feel comfortable, which is how we try to make it feel like in our salon. To tell you the truth, I was surprised that she thought that I was inspiring and that I was the reason why she had decided to switch salons in the first place. For me, it took my breath away that someone would find me inspiring. Me, inspiring?

After her telling story, we talked about beauty school and how it was for us. Both of us had similar backstory. For the most part, we kept to ourselves and generally did not have many friends at all. We were always studying for tests and making sure that we did well in class. it was strange to me how much in common we actually had in each other. Both of us had similar bad with bad experiences in salons but both of us had the spirit to keep on driving forwards without anyone stopping us. I was amazed.

I guess this is what happens when you least expect it. Sometimes, you really need to get to know someone before judging them and that is what I had to do. I feel like we both now have a good mutual understanding of each other, which will make it a lot easier for us to work with each other, which is always a plus for me. It wasn’t how I was expecting to spend my day however, I am happy that I did. It actually helped to open my eyes a bit and showed me that maybe, I wasn’t as open minded as I thought I was. It takes a lot in order to admit something like that, especially when you least expect a moment like this to occur. Luckily for me, I was able to have my moment today.