Overthinking – Pondering What Could Be the Cause of my Mental Turmoil

When someone is seeking answers to something, they seek out the experts. Meeting and speaking with them, hoping that spilling their innermost thoughts and feelings and presenting the facts that match to things that they know, they hope to receive an answer that matches the research they themselves have conducted. As for myself, I think I’m afraid to know, but desperate to confirm.

I hate jumping to conclusions and I hate diagnosing myself before a doctor can, but as I have been waiting this long to know what is wrong with me, it is only natural that a paranoid, anxious psychology student would start seeing parallels with the many mental illnesses I study within myself.

Last week, I found myself switching from general anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and depression, as those can be diagnosed by a GP, to thinking I might have a more severe condition. Thoughts of bipolar disorders and cyclothymia crossed my mind. I almost drove myself nuts seeing if my symptoms matched the reported symptoms of these disorders. However, I am my own worst doctor, I will always think I am over-exaggerating or under-reporting my own symptoms. I don’t condone Google-diagnosis, but I still find myself doing it, in my endless search for answers.

I can’t seem to sit still, my mind is both exhausted and racing everyday, and I just want to keep moving forward but feel so stuck. The anticipation of finally getting some confirmation and answers are almost overbearing. The stress of this term has taken its toll now; I have felt an anxious nausea sitting in my stomach for almost two weeks, feeling both hungry and repulsed by food, yet still overeating. The weather has had me down for so long, my emotions feel blunted to the point I can’t remember what a strong emotion feels like, and the world is both too bright and too dull. I feel crazy and calm all at once.

I try to keep my mind away from focusing on things like this too much, but sometimes its all I can focus on. I really just want confirmation, so that I can stop adding the disclaimer *not yet diagnosed* to my statements on mental health. I hope someone else who is struggling with a lack of diagnosis can relate to my feelings, and maybe feel less alone. I hope if you are reading this, everything will fall in place for both of us in time.

Til then, good luck and much love.

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My Autistic Experience – My Greatest Challenge Yet

Looks like I am back… at least for a little while anyway.

I’m not much into the whole trigger warning thing, and I suppose that this doesn’t quite count, but I will warn you that this post consists of me ranting. I am in the need to vent my frustration, and I think that the subject of my rant may be of interest to people. That said, it will still be written in my usual style of writing, so if you have read any of my past work, you should know what to expect.

There are many things that keep me busy these days. The main one is graduate studies. As I have said I very much enjoy conducting research and learning new things. There are some things I dislike about being a graduate student, but more often than not I enjoy myself.

I have another responsibility that I very much dislike. I don’t want to go too much into detail regarding what the responsibility is – as doing so would make it obvious as to who I am – but I will share that it is connected to school politics.

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Taking time off…Is it showing weakness??

Since when did needing to step away from everything for a while show weakness…Or does it?

When you come from an old school family, taking time off, stepping away from a situation or anything that involves time to think and reflect meant that you were doing one of two things…giving up or just being lazy. Why it’s believed I do not know. I mean in some cases I understand the rational behind it, you know if it was that I was at home day in and day out on by butt watching TV instead of going to work or doing something with my life, not having a purpose then I get it. But when you honestly just need a little break from the life of school, when you just can not handle the stress anymore and mentally just can not do it anymore when did that become a weakness.

In my family, there is this whole thing of mind over matter, to the point where if anything was wrong they would just insist that if I say i’m okay and keep telling my self I am okay than I will be okay…. And even though for somethings it worked, when it came to mental illness and depression, that wasn’t really the best way to deal with it. That’s just pretty much saying that my problems will just disappear if I try to ignore them. I guess before me and my struggle with mental illness, my family never really believed mental illness to be a thing, and there are still people I know that believe that mental illness is just a hoax, and that I am just over exaggerating and stuff like that. What are you to say to those people, the people that just take you as a joke or a fake, and act like your just putting on a show and that if you really wanted to you could just snap out of it and be “normal”… but what is normal??

As I have stated in a blog before, this year has been one of my toughest mentally and because of it, I think it would be best to take a break from school next year, even for just one semester to just step away and breath. I love school, I always have and I know for a fact that I will go back to school if I take the semester off, or the year because I love learning, but I do need a break. How are you suppose to explain to someone who thinks mental health is not a “thing” that I need to take a break from school for the sole purpose of my mental health, and that it’s not me being lazy or giving up but the fact that the state of my mental health is more important and it’s okay if it takes me an extra year to graduate. I guess I am just tired of having to explain myself, and it’s not even having to explain myself to my own family but its my friends and my boyfriends family as well. Why should I even have to explain myself! To this  day, when you say you have a mental illness a lot of people see it as a weakness, and I just don’t understand how? Why is something that you are struggling with all of a sudden become a weakness, why are we sometimes seen as a lesser person and how can we as a community over come this stigma!

Finding True Friends

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There’s no right way to define what a ‘true friend’ is, everyone has different definitions. To me a true friend is someone you can trust and who will support you through anything. Friends are supposed to be there through thick and thin. Friends are like snowflakes, each one is unique and can’t be replaced. Every friendship is different.

The year 2015 was the year of losing friends for me and finding out who my true friends are. I’ve always had really strong attachments to my friends, and when they leave it hurts. As 2015 started I seemed to be having ups and downs with friends of mine. This eventually lead to a fall out with those friends, with this brought a lot of emotions and feeling depressed again. So I started seeing my counsellor at school again. A friend of mine in my classes was really supportive during this time, but that friend soon left too and got tired of helping me and seeing no change. I struggled with that loss too, I seemed to be losing a lot of friends, which took a toll on me and my mental health.

Slowly, school came to an end, and graduation was fast approaching. With graduation coming and my friends leaving, I tried to stay close to a friend who I knew was staying in town. I tried my hardest to hold onto this friend, and constantly asking them to spend time with them. Which in turned pushed them further away. With this person always being busy it was hard to find time to get together, I would see them out with other friends or working. I took them being busy more personal than I should have.

Things went downhill fast, it slowly turned into fighting and things being said that we couldn’t take back. This friend got their significant other involved and things got worse fast. Despite this friend asking for space, I tried relentlessly to hold onto this friendship. When holding on didn’t work, eventually my pain turned to anger towards them. I tried everything to get attention from them whether good or bad. Which was seen again as harassment, so when police got involved I had no choice but to let go.

Even though I lost a friend of 8 years in the midst of everything because she didn’t like who I was becoming or the situation with my other friend that was going on. I wasn’t going down the messy road of another fallout again. So I let her go to, I pretended to be okay when everything was falling apart.

Letting go was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. It allowed me to move on, be happy, find new friends and make time for old friends. Most importantly, it allowed me to find my true friends. So that’s what I did.

 

 

 

The State of Our Mental Health System

I called into the office of a psychiatrist in Barrie, ON sometime last month. I spoke with the receptionist, who while lovely and helpful, presented me with the next available appointment date for a psychiatric diagnostic appointment: Friday, October 25, 2017 at 9:15 am. As she read off the date and time, the only thing I found myself saying was “Oh god.”

In ten months time I will be able to speak to a psychiatrist and tell him everything that has happened to me and everything that I feel and live with daily. Ten. Months. I am on the cancellation list as of now, leaving my appointment potentially within the next few months if someone cancels.While I tried my best not to be angry, I am still disappointed. My heart aches and I grow tired. I was hoping for an appointment within a month to show this doctor the worst of my sadness and anxiety. But it will have to work much longer, once again.

It still baffles me that in a country with a praised health care system can have such long waitlists and such large date gaps when it comes to psychiatric appointments. For a field that is pursued by a number of students in universities across Canada and the world, there seems to be a lack of these doctors here. It saddens me that while I have the patience and ability to wait this long, others may be near-crisis or creeping towards a breakdown and can’t receive this treatment sooner. I am aware of crisis hotlines and hospitals that provide counsellors for crisis, but I sincerely doubt anyone wants to reach that point. It also disappoints me that while one can see a therapist in the mean time, typically therapists are not covered directly by health insurance, especially if they are in-home or have a private practise. I have seen one therapist and one psychologist in the past three years. The therapist I saw for one session and cost me $100, which forced me to discontinue as I could not claim it under my insurance. The psychologist I saw twice and cost me $150 a session, which I only received 80% coverage over.

I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic, but it’s difficult to look up when money and time are not on your side. I don’t know if I would ever reach crisis point, but the thought of someone else who may not have access suffering is disheartening. I am lucky enough to have a doctor who is willing to help me and treat me as required. I hope that others who are in my position and struggling with their mental health are able to keep their head up and press on until they receive the help they need.

Good luck and much love.

How can I help?

One of the most frustrating things can be trying to help someone who refuses your help. My brother has needed help regarding his mental health for years, but has always refused. When he was younger my parents took him to various psychologists and counsellors in hopes that someone would be able to help him, or at the very least get him to open up. But every time it was the same thing. An hour would pass and he would walk out of the room having not said a single word. He would then repeatedly tell my parents how much he hated them for forcing him to see a “shrink.” We also tried family counselling, but here my brother felt as though he was being integrated and threw a fit. We left the session early and never returned.

Once my brother got a little older it became impossible to get him to even go to his appointments. And now that he is an adult he still refuses to seek help. He has been told by numerous family members and close friends that he should talk to someone and get the help he needs, but he still refuses. It has gotten to the point where myself, as well as my parents have stopped trying to convince him to speak to somebody, as it is too frustrating of a task and always ends the same way.

If anyone has any suggestions as to try and help someone who constantly refuses help, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear any and all suggestions you may have!

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BLOG CONTEST!

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Want a $20 gift card for Tim Hortons, and UOIT Ridgeback swag?

Here’s how to enter:

1. Read the Student Mental Health Services Blog (https://uoitmentalhealth.wordpress.com/)

2. Leave a comment on a BLOG POST stating something that you learned from the SMHS Blog. Include a way that we can contact you in the comment.

3. Be a UOIT student with a valid student ID!

Contest closes on March 13. A winner will randomly be selected from the comments and contacted using the information that they provided.

Continuing the Conversation

Every year on Bell Let’s Talk day we hear thousands of individuals discuss their mental health. People feel as though this is the best day to come forward and share their experiences with mental illness. It makes it much easier to come forward and talk about our own mental health when we see others doing the same, especially over social media where we can hide behind our screens. The numerous posts with the familiar hashtag #BellLetsTalk make us feel like everyone will accept our mental illness and applaud us for sharing. But this is not how we should feel.

We should not feel as though only because it is Bell Let’s Talk day our friends, family, and followers will support us and be there if we want to talk. It seems like this is the one of the only times we reassure our friends and family that we are here for them if they want to talk about their depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. We should be doing these things everyday. A day should not go by in which anyone feels although they cannot talk about not being okay.

In order to stop the stigma we need to discuss mental health on a daily basis. We need to accept that everyone faces different struggles in life and some cannot be seen by the eye. We need to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.

And that is why I love this blog. It provides an opportunity for individuals to talk about mental health in a safe and judge-free environment everyday, not just once a year. It allows us to support one another and reassure each other that we are not alone. It allows us to continue the conversation.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes, it can happen to anyone at any time in their life. Sometimes, all we need is a little support and reassurance that we are not alone and that we can do this.

Here are 15 positive affirmations to live by when you live with depression, anxiety or any other mental illness to remind you that you are a warrior.

  1. Self-forgiveness is essential for self-healing.
  2. Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what can be.
  3. You are enough.
  4. It is okay to ask for help.
  5. It is a disorder, not a decision. Be kind to yourself.
  6. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
  7. Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
  8. You were given this life because you are strong enough to handle it.
  9. Pain is real, but so is hope.
  10. Always remember that the future comes one day at a time, and so does recovery.
  11. Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times.
  12. You are loved.
  13. You have a right to heal at your own pace – you are allowed to take your time.
  14. Whatever it takes. You can make it through it.
  15. Your circumstances don’t determine where you go, it merely determines where you begin.

 

 

Closure

I want to start but saying I’ve been having a bit of writers block lately as you can probably see with my shortness in words and lack of posts but writing is in my blood and I thank those who have been so supportive on my journey!

A beautiful but lost soul, a twisted mind; that is what I found within him and that is what he used to break me. Have you ever spoken to someone and it feels like you’re speaking to yourself- every deep, dark thought coming at you in someone else’s voice? A connection so strong, a conversation so deep that it leaves you questioning the world around you… How did we go from hours of intense conversation to complete silence without an explanation or a goodbye like I never even mattered?

Due to this lack of closure I spent (and sadly sometimes still do) a lot of time reflecting on the hours spent together trying to figure out what I did to make it all come crashing down. During these reflections I have come to realize that no matter how beautiful our minds were together, it could never work because the effort was one sided. I spent so much time trying to help ease his mind of all his demons but he never tried to rid me of mine – in reality he used me. It makes me look back on our conversations, were we really so similar or was he saying what he knew I’d love to hear.

Everyone sees closure in a different perspective and there are many definitions (while they may be similar) for it. Personally my favorite way to describe closure is, “a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of an artistic work” because to me relationships are beautiful and unique, like a work of art they are carefully crafted over time with so much patience. Such effort goes into a masterpiece; you put your heart and soul into it until you can no longer and what a shame it is when that masterpiece is left unfinished because the other person put down the paintbrush and took it with them.

I never thought I could feel closure through writing and sure it is not the same, but finally I have been able to express the way I felt and still feel. I didn’t write this to shame him or those who walk away from someone without a goodbye or explanation; I wrote this to feel closure for myself. I could have written it, saved it (or deleted it) and be done with it but I wanted to post it because I know there are so many others who have been left behind and can’t understand it. I’m writing this for you to remember that whatever the reason may be, you cannot keep it inside. Even if you can’t speak to the person that hurt you, you have a voice and it needs to be heard. Don’t let it eat away at your confidence or make you feel like you’re not good enough because I promise you that you are.