Fighting mental illness and winning

Note: I came up with  a new and catchy for my blog: The Feisty Introvert. Stay tuned for upcoming changes!

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been seriously slacking off in keeping up with my writing. I contemplate and brainstorm topics, only to turn my nose up at them and discard them after coming to the conclusion that I wanted to write what was already being written about. (i.e. Trump’s presidency being a serious threat to human rights, the environment, the middle class, the world, etc.) We all know he’s a threat to the entire human existence along with the rest of his cronies. I could go on a tangent that would last for hours.

This time, I thought I’d write about the personal changes and growth I’ve encountered in the last year.

It’s two months into 2017 and I feel like I’m a stronger person than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Sure, I’m still overcoming years of childhood trauma that affects every aspect of my adult life along with constantly battling depression/anxiety, but this time I feel like I’m winning the fight instead of losing it.

Last year and years before, I couldn’t say that with honesty. I was losing the battle. I lost my identity, my sense of self and my well-being. I lost a job and nearly lost my education because I found myself feeling trapped in an abusive relationship and developed unhealthy ways of coping with the stress and abuse.

I was falling fast and could have lost my life more than once in those dismal times. I wish I was exaggerating about the “could have lost my life more than once” part, but I’m not.

As each day passed, I found myself thinking darker and darker thoughts. I was being gaslighted and manipulated on a daily basis by someone who was a textbook narcissist and a master manipulator who did nothing but bring misery, chaos and empty promises into my life.

One day I’ll write more about that moment, but now is not that time. I’m still not ready to publicly share everything I went through and some poor choices I made along the way.

Today, I can truly say I’m happy and I feel the best I’ve felt in my life. Of course there are always improvements to be made and growth that needs to occur. I’m always eager to continue learning and growing as a human being.

I am fighting mental illness and winning.

Funny story — I’m literally learning how to fight. My best friend started doing heavy armor combat fighting with a group known as the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a lover and not a fighter, at first I was hesitant out of fear of hurting others. I’ve been reassured multiple times that I’m not going to hurt them. I am always nervous before going to practice. Sometimes I feel silly in the armor, but I know I look badass. (I’ll look even more badass when I have my own!)

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Yes, that is me fighting! Photo courtesy of Charles Mizikar.

I’m grateful to my best friend Jax for encouraging me to join and pushing me to go to practice on days when I’m not feeling so social or chipper. Once I get there and start fighting, I am having a blast with all of the endorphins flowing and adrenaline pumping through me.

It is challenging at times, but it is worth it. It’s helping me fight my depression/anxiety and boosting my self-confidence, which has been and still is sorely lacking. However, I’m more confident than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

I don’t have any plans to stop fighting either. I’ll keep on fighting and I’ll keep on winning.

Getting back to me

In the last five years of my life, I have lost pieces of myself in relationships that I was certain were meant to be until a harsh reality sunk in more and more each day.

I had to make a highly difficult decision this weekend and end another relationship that I was certain was meant to last forever. Even though I still love and care for this person, deep down I know it was best for us to part ways. It was painful; tears were shed and hearts were broken.

It still hurts. I haven’t been on my own since 2011. After I ended an engagement in 2014, I immediately started a relationship with someone I had been friends with for a long time and we fell in love with each other. I jumped from one relationship to another without thinking about the repercussions of that decision. Fast forward to now, I came to the realization that we needed to part ways and take care of ourselves on our own.

I will not go into the details of our relationship as that is not anyone else’s business but ours. Instead. I will focus on the premise of getting to know oneself, working out issues and maintaining confidence and self-esteem before committing to a serious relationship.

After the breakup, I realized that I am “alone” for the first time in a long time. Frankly, I am terrified. I am not used to sleeping alone or being alone when I am not at work or elsewhere. I will admit that I am scared because being “alone” is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me. That just tells me I need to get back to me and take care of myself for quite some time.

I put “alone” in quotation marks because I am truly not alone. I have my family, friends and my baby, Olivia. (She is not a real baby for those that don’t know me, she is a cat, but she is my baby.)

My heart is still heavy. The tears have stopped (for now), but I am slowly starting to feel OK with being on my own. I know I need to take a step back and reflect on what I want out of life, meet my goals, take better care of myself, focus more on work, school, friends and hobbies.

Without going into detail, I reached a point where being in the relationship became so stressful that my work, health, sleep and overall well-being were suffering. I was suffering. However, I denied that anything was wrong and convinced myself that everything was right. It wasn’t.

I need to get myself back on track before I even think about dating again, let alone entering a relationship. That will happen when the time is right and I have all of my shit together.

The coming days, weeks and even months will be hard since I invested two and a half years in this person and built a life with this person. It breaks my heart to know his is broken too. It is a loss, so we will both grieve. In fact, I am grieving the loss of the relationship. It will take time, self-care, self-reflection and strength to move forward.

It is time to get back to me and get to know me. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I truly knew myself. I don’t, I’m still getting to know who I am. Yet, I believe all of us are in one way or another.

I’ll take it easy and take it one day at a time instead of dwelling on the past or obsessing over the future. That is easier said than done, but I believe I am capable of learning to live in the present while planning for the future.

This won’t be easy. Like my dad said, “If life were easy, we’d all be living on Easy Street.” Nothing good or worth having comes easy.

Even when I am having a hard day, deep down I know I’ll be just fine and this is a fresh start. When the time is right, I’ll find love again. For now (and always), I have to love me.

 

 

 

Thoughts on the tragedy in Kalamazoo

Disclaimer: My opinions on gun control discussed in this post are just that – opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? Right.

Another mass shooting occurred this weekend. It’s become such a common occurrence in the United States of America that I’m no longer shocked to hear the news of yet another person with a gun ruthlessly taking innocent people’s lives.

Except this time it happened in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It happened at home.

It’s different when it happens 15-20 minutes from your apartment in a town that you feel safe to walk around in at night in most neighborhoods. it’s terrifying, it’s surreal.

I’ve lived in Kalamazoo for almost a full two years now. I moved here after graduating from Ferris State University in May 2014. While searching for a university to attend graduate school to pursue a Masters of Social Work, my best friend helped convince me to move down here, continue my education and work at the campus newspaper, The Western Herald. I already worked for Ferris’ campus newspaper, The Ferris State Torch. My friend and I worked together there for two years, so she suggested I take a job as the news editor. I accepted and began a new phase in my life in the great town of Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo is a wonderful, vibrant city full of kind people, great art, great food, craft beer and an awesome downtown scene.

This past early fall, my best friend and I walked from back to her place from district square, which was about a 20 minute walk. I felt perfectly safe, because Kalamazoo is not a dangerous, crime-ridden city that some people may believe it to be because of the news reporting bouts of violence here and there that occur in a few neighborhoods, which are a result of high levels of poverty and wealth inequality. This is a widespread problem in cities across the United States of America. This is a societal problem.

When I was in a car accident this past summer, I had three people I’d never before in my life stop and help me when I was in a state of panic and distress.

In Kalamazoo, people smile at you and say “hello” when you are walking down the street. I’ve met so many friendly and generous people in the time I’ve lived here.

I never imagined it happening here. I don’t think anyone imagines such a horrific tragedy and act of violence happening in their town/city.

On Saturday, February 20, a 45-year old Cooper Township man by the name of Jason Dalton went on a rampage, shooting and killing six innocent people and injuring two. The tragic events began at 5:45 pm at the Meadows in Richland Township when Dalton shot a female in the parking lot who was babysitting four children. She suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries. Her name is Tiana Carruthers. She protected the children from being shot.

That evening, I was perusing social media per usual after working that day while lying in bed and watching TV.

While on Facebook, posts began appearing on my news feed about an active shooter on the loose in Kalamazoo. By this time, I learned six people were dead and two were injured. I checked reddit.com/r/kzoo to seek out real time information on the incident. I checked Twitter as well and saw tweets warning others.

I saw posts that read, “Stay inside, active shooter on the loose in Kalamazoo!” and “Stay off the streets, active shooter in Kalamazoo!”

As news of the events began to unfold, my heart sank. I went into panic mode. I took to social media to warn others as well. I knew this was bad. Very bad.

I took the most common sense safety precautions a person could take in this situation. I made sure my door was locked and chained. I shut off all of the lights. I called my parents, who live an hour and a half away to let them I know was safe. I called my boyfriend who was out of town this past weekend to let him know I was safe. I turned on the police scanner app on my phone for updates. (Most of the traffic was encrypted so media doesn’t report any inaccurate details, which did happen throughout the night. It takes time for accurate details to unfold in such a treacherous situation where an entire county is in alert and panic mode.)

At 10:08 p.m., Dalton fatally shot 17-year old Tyler Smith and his father Richard Smith at the Seelye Automotive Car Lot on Stadium Drive.

At 10:24 p.m., Dalton fatally shot Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy Brown, 74, Barbara Hawthorne, 68, all of Battle Creek, and Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Michigan in the Cracker Barrel Parking Lot on 9th Street near I-94.

He also shot a 14-year old girl named Abigail Kopf. Kopf was also at Cracker Barrel. She suffered critical injuries and is fighting for her life.

Dalton was arrested around 12:40 a.m. near Ransom and Porter. He is being charged with six counts of murder.

What’s also terrifying is that Dalton was an Uber driver. My boyfriend and I just took an Uber last Monday to pick up a loaner car after a winter fender bender occurred. Thankfully Dalton was not my driver, but I would be dishonest if I said I wanted to take an Uber again anytime soon. I understand this is not Uber’s fault, but it’s frightening to know that Dalton was driving around innocent people.

I am thankful for our brave officers who apprehended and arrested this monster early Sunday morning. Thank you for your courage and protection. Thank you for taking this terrorist off our streets. Sincerely.

Several vigils have taken place to honor the memory of the innocent lives lost. These six individuals had families who love them, they had hobbies, thoughts, ideas and a lot to offer to this world. Now, they are gone because of another senseless act of gun violence.

Their smiles, their laughter, their presence – gone. Gone because of another senseless mass shooting.

I did not know the six individuals who were killed nor do I know the two who were injured, but I cried for them. I cried for their families who are currently in immense pain and grieving the loss of their loved ones.

My heart aches for them. My heart aches for this community. Not only does my heart ache for the families of the victims, but it aches for Dalton’s wife and children. None of this is their fault. They are hurting, too.

I was unable to attend to Monday night’s vigil due to work obligations, but I did watch the live stream. As soon as I started watching, I erupted into sobs.

I thought, “How the fuck could another human just take the lives of other innocent humans, erasing their futures and shattering many lives?” “Why? Why does this keep happening?”

“It’s not OK that these types of incidents keep happening in this country. It shouldn’t be so easy for someone who the mindset of Dalton to walk into a gun shop and purchase a gun.”

The 44th mass shooting took place in Kalamazoo this year. We’re not even out of the second month of 2016 and there’s already been 44, actually now 45 mass shootings in the United States.

Even though this event was tragic, horrific and absolutely disgusting, it will not break Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo is strong. The people of Kalamazoo are strong and will rise above this tragedy. The outpouring of love and support from the community to the victim’s families has been amazing. We stand together in this time of horror and heartbreak.

However, something has to be done. Something has to change or else these mass shootings won’t stop. This past January, President Obama took executive action to reduce gun violence.

The President also offered his condolences to Kalamazoo after the shooting.

It’s about time. Sadly, change won’t happen over night, as we’ve learned yet again. The NRA (National Rifle Association) and gun manufacturers profit too much from, well, memberships and the sales of guns. The NRA also spent $3,360,000 on lobbying in 2014.

I don’t have a problem with smart, responsible and safe gun owners who use them for sport, hunting and home protection. I don’t have a problem as long as they are educated on gun safety and aware of the harm they can inflict if handled improperly.

What I do have a problem with is the lax gun laws that exist because of lobbying from the NRA and irrational fears that the government is out to take all of the guns away. That’s not true.

I’m sure this opinion piece royally pissed off overzealous gun enthusiasts, but I can’t say I don’t disagree with it.

Bryn Mickle of the Flint Journal has a point. Where was the “good guy with a gun?” Spoiler: He wasn’t there.

If you’d like to learn more on how the likelihood of a good guy with a gun a stopping a bad gun with a gun is extremely low, I recommend you watch this Daily Show segment titled, “Jordan Klepper: Good Guy with a Gun”

Another unsettling fact about this incident is Dalton did not have a concealed carry license. He also purchased the gun at a gun shop in Plainwell hours before the shootings took place.

Evidently Dalton did not have a criminal history or a history of mental illness prior to the shootings.

So far, Dalton hasn’t presented a motive as to why he did it, but he admitted to it.

I know some people are going to come out and say our mental health system is to blame, like they have in every other mass shooting. While our mental health system does need improvement, it’s not fully responsible for these mass shootings. We do need tougher gun control laws.

This is my opinion, yes. It is also the opinion of many people affected by the Umpqua Community College Shootings in October 2015, the people affected by Sandy Hook Shootings in December 2012, the people affected by the San Bernadino Shootings in December 2015 and many more.

How many more lives are going to be cut short by gun violence before something constructive is done to enforce tougher laws, expand background checks and improve our mental health system?

Guns should be regulated in the same manner that cars are. We just don’t let anyone (i.e. people who consistently drive dangerously and recklessly and/or intoxicated) possess a license and drive a car. Guns kill people and cars can too.

Except a car’s purpose is transportation, not to kill. Guns were designed to kill.It should take the same amount of time to obtain a gun as it does to obtain a driver’s license. It takes more than six months to obtain a driver’s license, but it takes less time to purchase and own a gun. I see a problem with this.This opinion piece from 2012, Regulate Guns Like Cars by C. Robert Gibson makes a solid point:

“Like any driver, before even getting my driver’s license, I had to take a written test to get a learner’s permit. This meant I could drive a car, but only with a licensed driver in the car with me. Then after 6 months of waiting, I could take an actual driver’s test with a police officer in my passenger seat, and only become a licensed driver if I drove, parallel parked, and did a turnabout absolutely flawlessly. And if I ever moved to a new state, I would have to get a new driver’s license within 30 days of relocating, keep my license and registration up to date, get yearly inspections, and have liability insurance for my car. The same should be done with guns.”

Yes, it should be. In my view, Gibson was absolutely correct in 2012 and he is even more correct in 2016.

It makes me ill that some people believe it’s more important for people to have too easy of access to guns over protecting human lives.

How is it logical that a weapon designed to kill is more important than a human life? It isn’t. At least not to me. I’m referring to people who believe that having loose gun laws are more important than protecting more innocent people dying from gun violence.

Kalamazoo has been rattled by this tragedy, but it has not been broken. We are not broken. We are Kalamazoo Strong. We love you, Kalamazoo. I love you, Kalamazoo.

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Life as an ACOA

I am not a “normal” 25-year old.

No human being on this planet is “normal”, but what I mean is I don’t feel exactly feel that way.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA). ACOAs tend to not act like “normal” adults because of a dysfunctional, chaotic and unstable upbringing.

According to the study “Personality Subtypes in Adolescent and Adult Children of Alcoholics: A two part study” on personality sub types of ACOAs, it was found that ACOAs are categorized as the following:

  • The Enabler
  • The Hero
  • The Scapegoat
  • The Lost Child
  • The Mascot
  • The Placater

More information can be found in the study here

I am the “lost child.” I learned I was the lost child while in therapy years ago. I still feel that way today. I struggle with being who I am and constantly desire to be someone else. Most days I don’t want to be Jessica. I’m in my mid-20s and nearly every day I still feel like the lost child I was many years ago. I continue to work on alleviating these problems through counseling and plan to attend an ACOA or Al-Anon meeting.

We struggle with forming and keeping intimate relationships. We struggle with forming and keeping friendships because of the impact from years of broken promises and empty words. If we were teased or bullied in grade school, it makes it even more difficult to make friends and let people in.

We walk around every day with wounds that are still healing or never fully healed.

For some of us, waking up and getting out of bed takes all of our energy, because a lot of us suffer from depression and anxiety. For more information on mental illness and ACOAs, check out Psychological Characteristics of Children of Alcoholics

A lot of us are still those fearful, lost, and broken children living and functioning as adults. Sadly, some of us are still learning how to love ourselves and come to terms with the fact that we can’t be perfect and we can’t control others’ choices or actions.

Oh, we’re also four times more likely to become alcoholics/addicts ourselves. When we drink or use any type of substance that has the potential to become addictive, we’re playing genetic Russian Roulette.

In college, I was that student who hesitated to go out and get “wasted” at a frat house on a Friday night. I didn’t want to be in a situation that would cause painful memories to resurface or end up making memories in that type of environment. Also, I don’t like being around large groups of drunk people. It isn’t fun to me. It’s fun for others, and that’s OK.

There is a part of me that feels resentful I didn’t live the whole “college experience” because of my upbringing. I feared taking risks, or opening up to others and putting myself out there.

When you are hurt multiple times by people who are supposed to prepare you for our dysfunctional world when they’re completely dysfunctional themselves, you end up spending all of your energy trying to not be dysfunctional.

This dysfunctional up-bringing challenges your ability to trust. You keep your guard up and feel more comfortable spending time alone, even though the loneliness gets to you and you crave the company. Isolation is common, when you expect to encounter dysfunction anywhere else.

However, these are the thoughts that run through my mind:

But don’t let that company become too close to you, what if they hurt you?

Most people are out for themselves.

You don’t have a lot in common with most of your peers, so why even bother?

We think these things on a daily basis. We learned to dislike ourselves from a young age because of the negativity that enveloped us for so many years. We never asked for this. Nobody asks for the lives they were born into. I work every day to overcome the problems that cloud my judgement and the truth of who I really am. A lot of this is all in my head, but it was planted there during the years of critical brain development.

I’m defensive, insecure, uncertain and constantly compare myself to others’ lives, wishing I could trade lives with someone else.

I am aware there is not a damn thing I can do about my past. All I can do is continue to work on myself through therapy, positive self-talk, exercise and form healthy habits.

I have to consistently remind myself that I am worthy, loved, intelligent and capable of succeeding in life. I am not broken, damaged or worthless. Even though I am an ACOA, I have to work on not letting it take over my identity.

This quote seems to sum up the issue perfectly:

“Most of us spend our lives protecting ourselves from losses that have already happened.” – Geneen Roth

If anyone else who considers themselves as an ACOA would like to share their story, wisdom or experiences, feel free to do so in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

The introverted journalist

Recently, I began working as a full-time staff writer for the Three Rivers Commercial-News. I can now call myself a full-time journalist.

When people think of a journalist, they picture an individual with a camera, notebook and recorder in hand, chasing down their source while shouting questions at them. Some may picture a tenacious individual going to any length possible to get the scoop for a story.

While there are times a journalist has to be “pushy” so to speak to grab certain information for a story, whether that be ambushing a reluctant source or tracking them down relentlessly, I admit that I am not your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical journalist.

I am a journalist who happens to be an introvert.

Being an introvert means that I become exhausted after being around a large group of people for a long period of time. It means that I would rather stay in on a Friday night binge watching a show on Netflix. It means I need alone time to recharge my batteries.

I know it sounds like being an introvert and a journalist don’t mix. To some people, it may be a faulty combination. I don’t agree. I know which questions to ask and I know when to turn on my inner extrovert when it is necessary. I love writing, that is why I am a journalist. I love telling stories and meeting new people, learning about their lives.

Admittedly, some days it is not easy for me to pick up the phone and call a source for a difficult story, or charge ahead after a prominent person after a controversial meeting. Oftentimes, I am standing and waiting quietly for them to finish their conversation with someone else before I begin asking questions. I make sure I get what I need, though.

I have been working in journalism for the last six years and it has served me well for the most part. Sure, I take it personally when someone criticizes an article I wrote or criticizes me, but then I remember that opinions are nothing more than opinions. I don’t do well with confrontation, either. It is a skill I am working on.

I do have days when I would rather be home in my bed hiding from society instead of sitting in a meeting or conducting an interview, but we all have those days. It’s more a matter of my introversion creeping in. That is when I have to force myself to adapt to the situation and become a “social butterfly” for that allotted amount of time.

Afterwards, I am usually exhausted. That is when I need to go home and recharge.

Let’s face it, introverts have received a bad rep in the workforce and society in general. Society adores extroverts. This article, “Introverts pose a problem for hirers” published on ft.com in January 2014, states that organizations are more likely to hire individuals who “relish social life, and are energized by interacting with friends and strangers – people who are ‘assertive, go-getting and and able to seize the day.'” This is a description taken from Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

It’s easy to understand why companies would want to hire an extrovert over an introvert; extroverts are social, they get their energy from socializing. Introverts can be drained from too much socializing. However, just because someone is an introvert doesn’t make them a bad candidate for a job.

In fact, the article states Cain argues that “introverts require much less stimulation and operate at their best when they are allowed to do so in quieter and lower-key environments. A reader can conclude that noisier extroverts might not always be ideal and that introverts can be better for business.” Cain’s views are supported by a 2010 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania management school that found introverted leaders typically deliver better outcomes than extroverts. (ft.com)

An excerpt from the article says the problem recruiters have with introverts is they don’t sell themselves or present their skills in the same manner that extroverts do, putting introverts at a disadvantage.

Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I’m a bad journalist. I still do my job, and (most of the time; I’m only human) I do it well. I simply don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical journalist. I don’t find anything wrong with that. I’m an introvert with a passion for writing and telling stories.

And that’s OK.

What path should I take?

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my thoughts on where I want to be in life.

I just finished up my first year of graduate school at Western Michigan University’s MSW program. It was tedious, to say the least. I fell ill during the spring semester, which caused me to lose hours at my internship, struggle at work and in class. In the winter, I wrote a post about struggling with severe depression again and how it affected my outlook on life, my thoughts, actions, school, work and everything else in between.

It has been a daunting challenge while struggling with depression, anxiety and ADHD. I was diagnosed with ADHD in April, which explains a lot of my thought patterns and behaviors.

What I find interesting is that ADHD goes undiagnosed quite a bit in girls/women. To show you that I’m not making this up, here is a news article discussing the issue:

Expert: ADHD underdiagnosed in girls

I’m 24 years old and didn’t learn I had ADHD until this spring. When I discovered I had the disorder, I understood myself a bit better.

I understand why I go through periods of self loathing and beat myself up internally over small mistakes.

I understand why I’m easily distracted.

I understand why I procrastinate so much.

I understand why I become so unmotivated at times.

I understand why I make impulsive and “snap” decisions.

I understand why I lose focus so easily.

Even when I was a child, my grandmother told my mom I should be on Ritalin. My mom disagreed, insisting I was just being a child. I have to agree with my mom, I was likely just being a normal child. I believe ADHD is more of an adult disease. It can manifest in childhood, but I feel it affects adults with a higher intensity since adults have obligations and responsibilities that children do not have.

Do I believe that children who are diagnosed with ADHD aren’t deserving of the same treatment as an adult with ADHD? No, I don’t. However, a child’s brain is still developing and medication may not be the best option for all children. It might be for some, but not for others. Everyone is different, and medication affects everyone differently.

What I do know is how disruptive ADHD can be in one’s every day life. It disrupts my life when I lose my car keys or absent mindedly lock them in my car; it disrupts it when I lose something important in my apartment because it’s a cluttered disaster and items are scattered about

It doesn’t make every day life easy. In addition to already dealing with depression and anxiety, it just adds onto the pile of issues myself and many others face on a regular basis.

Lately, I’ve been going through a lot of highs and lows. Medication adjustments, changes, becoming acclimated with a new job that I am struggling in, but it (sort of) gets a little easier day by day. It’s a position that I’ve never been in before, and I’m learning a whole new set of tasks, responsibilities and becoming used to a brand new routine. I noticed just how difficult it can be with ADHD and anxiety. I won’t go into the logistics of it, otherwise this post will turn into a novel, but it’s been a little bit of a struggle.

With all of this in mind, I often wonder if I’m on the right path. Some days, I feel out of place with where I’m supposed to be. Not to mention there are times when I feel “stuck” or “lost”. It could be one of those “quarter-life” crises, perhaps? I’m not sure. I’m still searching for the right path, searching for the right way.

I often wonder, “Am I going to become a social worker who helps children, teens or adults?”, or am I going to work as writer/editor or for a public relations firm? Am I going to help people or am I going to keep my feet planted in the world of writing and communications?

Some say, “Where you are is right where you’re supposed to be.” I’m not sure if I believe that statement. I wrestle with that concept, as I’m sure all of us do.

Only time and my progress at this job will tell if I’m where I’m supposed to be. Learning to manage and live with ADHD in addition to depression/anxiety has added a few more challenges along the way, but I can overcome those challenges. I’m resilient. That’s the considerable element about being human: resilience. We can bounce back from adversity, just as I’ve had to do more than once.

I’ll figure it out. I always do.

The monster’s return

It’s been a rough start to the semester.

Not long before I began part two of my first year in the social work masters program, I fell ill again. I don’t mean I fell ill from a cold, the flu, or a medical ailment. I fell ill with depression.

Blogging about this very personal issue is a form of a therapy for me. Writing is therapy. I hope to let those know who are also suffering from depression or any other mental illness that they are not alone. I’ve said it and have written about it before. However, it has to be said even more.

I knew something was wrong when I had an adverse reaction to my antidepressant in late December. I began to frequently experience nausea, a loss of appetite and a heart that was racing so fast, I became scared.

These symptoms lasted for about a week or longer, then I noticed I started to feel that dark cloud moving in over me. The crippling anxiety crept its way back into my life at the worst possible time. Keeping up with my studies, internship and work has been an uphill battle.

Some days, I don’t even want to leave my bed. All of my motivation, my will, my drive, is gone.

Gone. I become a person who merely exists, going through the motions of life. I don’t feel like I’m truly living.

I’m quick to anger, quick to tears. There’s a heaviness sitting in my chest and waking up and bringing myself out of bed can be a daunting task when I’m having a depressive episode.

For those who have never suffered from depression or anxiety, this is what it feels like:

-The heavy weight resting on your chest that you can’t lift off no matter how hard you try to push it off.
-A dark fog that surrounds you and makes it hard to think, to concentrate, to breathe.
-A never ending sense of dread that overtakes your spirit and holds it hostage.
-You stop caring about your ambitions, your goals, your dreams.
-Small tasks become exhausting.
-You aren’t yourself. You find yourself irritable and becoming agitated with the most absurd and trivial issues.
-All you want to do is sleep during the day because you lie awake at night with unpleasant thoughts and irrational worries and fears overtaking every space of your mind.

Luckily, I have a solid support system and I’m in therapy and going through some med changes. Some days are great, some days are OK, some days just fucking suck.

Today is an OK day. Just OK. Not great, but OK. I’ll take it. It’s better than the bad days I’ve had.

I’ve heard the phrase that depression is anger turned inward. I admittedly still harbor anger from issues in my past. However, I’m being proactive and working on them.

I’ve also read several articles that state some research has shown depression may be a result of inflammation/allergic reaction within the body. I am not sure of that since it’s new and is still being researched, but if the main culprit(s) are discovered and can be cured, that would be wonderful.

Read more about that here.

I hope with time, therapy, the right medication and some positive lifestyle changes, I will be back to myself again.

One day at a time.