Blogust 2018: The Series, Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

Day 7: Let’s Talk About Mental Health Medication.

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Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH.

Yeah, I know, it’s another mental health related post. I get it. Maybe that’s what you guys are thinking, or maybe that’s just my misconception and just my worries talking because let’s face it for the umpteenth time: I have some severe anxiety.

Not everyone in my life knows this, but there are some who know my anxiety to the exact extent. I guess what I’m trying to say to you (and to myself ) that I shouldn’t care if I’m sharing too much about myself or too much about my anxiety; this is a very important part of my life and it’s a very real part as I’m trying to deal with it, and life that continues to go on around me.

I should’ve saved this topic as a voiceless rant, but let’s save that post for something more positive and upbeat…

Anyway, things with me personally haven’t been the greatest. I’ve gotten into arguments with those around me, I’m anxious way more than I used to be, and my mental health seems to be taking a detour from the road to recovery. The journey has not been easy for me.

Before I started to get more in deep with therapy, I had a conversation with my mother about the potential use of medication to help ease with my anxiety. Already having a family member on medication for their own personal reasons, I’ve singlehandedly saw how life was before and after the medication for this person. In my opinion, it hasn’t been that bad. I’ve seen improvements here and there and to a certain degree, I see this person being a lot stronger than I am since starting. Again, I could be completely wrong, but on the outside, I saw a difference. But I brought up this situation with my mother telling her the opposite: I didn’t want to take medication for my anxiety.

Continue reading “Day 7: Let’s Talk About Mental Health Medication.”

Voiceless Rant: The Series

A Voiceless Rant: June 2018 Edition.

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.

It’s that time of the month where I get to write my favorite posts on the blog:

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June has been a crazy month. It’s been a month of trying to relax and trying to give myself a break, but alas: most of the time I was all over the place. One consistent thing that happened in June was really me just going to therapy once a week and talking about these same feelings (its why a lot of my recent posts are so mental-health related, and surprise, this one is too.)

Since I started therapy, I’ve become a lot more self-aware of my behavior and the way I’ve been feeling. Slowly but surely I am trying to get some control back into my life from my anxiety, I’m trying to feel better after not doing so for a year now, and yes, I’m even trying to get a better understanding of the behaviors I’m not aware of because they are second nature to me.

Therapy sorta taught me that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply “because it just got worse.” I always thought something major and big had to happen in order for me to feel the way that I do, and to a certain point, there was, it just didn’t happen within the last 6 months.

Sometimes, you get “worse” because you’ve been on a downward spiral for years without even knowing it. So, how do you expect those around you to understand what happened all of a sudden?

Recently, I had a discussion with my therapist about something extremely personal that I haven’t spoken about with anyone besides my family and my partner. Sharing it with a person who I’ve only known for a month was scary but when I did, it seemed like things started to connect. Despite being anxious in social situations and with other people, I tend to become extremely anxious in confrontations, arguments, fights, disagreements; whatever it may be, I’m always on edge. I mean, everyone feels this way, it’s normal, but when you instantly feel your heart sink to your stomach, don’t remember what you’re saying, and feel like you want to give up on yourself and on life, then it’s not normal. It’s now a trigger.

Although it coexists with my social anxiety, triggers are most likely linked to trauma. Of course, people assume that trauma is only considered when something horrendous happens to a person like having an almost death experience, you fought in a war, you were sexually assaulted, you were held hostage/kidnapped, things that people will excuse your behavior for because of those things being traumatizing to society.

But what about the things that some people can move forward from, but others can’t? Like bullying? Drug/Alcohol abuse in the household? Losing close people in your life due to fights and arguments? Some of these things are extremely traumatic to some people to the point where whenever they are put into situations similar to these events, they completely shut down. Unable to move. Unable to speak up for themselves. They just sit there and hope that the moment passes as quickly as possible. And when those same people get into the same situations over and over again, they don’t remember how it happened in the past; they just remember going into protective mode and don’t see what actually is happening. That’s called being dissociated. That’s called being traumatized to the point where you don’t have control over your body anymore. That’s called knowing what to do but can’t because you feel like it’s not your body anymore.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s called dissociative amnesia and it’s a scary fucking thing to experience.

I won’t get too deep into it because that’s not what I am seeking therapy for and I’m not fully aware of its symptoms and causes and all that jazz. I’m mentioning it because you have to understand those around you. You have to understand that the people in your group of friends all have stories and secrets that they are burying and that are trying to move past them to live better lives.

Most importantly, you have to understand that people are the way they are for a reason, whether or not you personally know that reason. Whether you’re battling with a mental disorder or not, you are responsible as a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, sibling, parent, classmate, whoever you may be at a certain time, for being respectful and present and understanding to a certain degree.

Personally, I want people to understand that yeah, I’m very successful with my education and yes, I have many passions and talents and I am generally a happy, bubbly person. What that doesn’t mean is that I don’t hurt, I don’t get sad, I don’t feel negative things, and that I don’t deal with triggers on a day-to-day basis. Call it sensitive, but you truly don’t know what you’re doing to a person when you aren’t aware (and don’t care to be aware) of a person’s internal battles with themselves.

This post may be all over the place, but I truly wanted to write this because I am tired of shutting down. I am tired of looking at myself and knowing what to do in situations yet I’m not moving or speaking up. I am tired of being easily triggered by other human beings in negative situations. I am tired of being misunderstood, mislabeled, and looked at as another person who is just always in their feelings and with issues.

You are hurting the people around you when you do that, and the only time people like you will care and finally listen up is when it’s too late, and they aren’t physically here anymore.

Don’t just be there; be present.

 

-Liz (:

 

Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

Dear Extroverts: Signed, A “SAD” Introvert.

Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH!

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In the recent weeks, I’ve been on this new path to bettering my mental health now that I don’t have much distraction in my life. For the past year, I’ve been noticing this “downward spiral” of anxiety that kept creeping up on me, and it wasn’t until the past couple of months that I began noticing my anxiety get worse. I finally started to seek out professional help to find ways to overcome this newfound anxiety… well, anxiety that I always had but just recently became out of hand.

In a couple of posts before this one, I mentioned that I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In a way, it’s an umbrella term that describes a whole variety of different fears and phobias. When I went to see my psychiatrist for the first time, she ultimately deemed me as having Social Anxiety Disorder. At that point, I went to do some further research on it, and might I tell you, it explains a lot more of my anxiety than I ever thought it would. To be more exact, social anxiety is more than just being “shy” or quiet” in social situations. It’s the incapability to not go out or interact with other people because you get anxious doing it, even with the closest people in your life. 

Honestly, it explained a lot of the questions I had in why I was behaving in the way that I was.

Just like depression, anxiety is always misinterpreted as something else that people think is easily curable. People who don’t have SAD may find themselves wanting to stay in instead of going out for reasons that are actual reasons: they are busy, they are tired, or maybe they are just not up for it. People with SAD find themselves staying in because they are already thinking about the hours in advance, worrying that something bad might happen for they might get an anxiety attack in the middle of a social event, even if it’s with your closest friends or even your significant other. People with SAD tend to stay in because it’s more comfortable and safe to be by themselves instead of around other people.

Dear Extroverts,

Please understand that Social Anxiety Disorder is more than just being shy and quiet and “socially awkward”. It’s a chronic illness that can be treatable, but it doesn’t go away on its own. Plus, only 5% of the U.S population is actually diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, yet its considered the most common anxiety disorder because so many people who live with it are not diagnosed. The reason for that being is even people with SAD feel like it’s such a ridiculous thing to have and our behavior is ridiculous that we often feel ashamed for being this way.

And extroverts, your introverted friends who may have SAD may feel discouraged because of you.

We are not asking you to be our therapists. We are not asking you to constantly ask us if we are okay if we are out for dinner or at a party. We are not asking you to speak for us in social situations (unless requested) and most importantly, we are not asking you for your unsolicited advice on how to “get over it” in order to live like a “normal” person.

We are asking you to be supportive of us. We are asking you to at least understand the words that come out of our mouths. We are asking you to be okay with the fact that yeah, maybe four months ago we were okay going to that restaurant across the city, but our anxiety has gotten worse since then and the travel to get to that restaurant is a lot of us to handle. We are asking you to be informative on what we had at least at the basic level. No, we are not asking you to know every little thing to do when faced with someone with SAD, we are asking you to at least know what we are going through when we are feeling anxious, and that we are constantly fighting to try to overcome such ridiculous feelings and worries about something that is supposed to be fun. We are asking you to not change who you are to us and change the friendship, we simply just want to feel as if you have our backs while we deal with it. You’re saving us a lot of worries if we absolutely know you will not judge or belittle us for not being able to control our behavior and emotions.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN that you are doing us a favor when you don’t invite us to hang out or to important events in your life just because you think you are doing us a favor or if you think we are going to always decline on your invites. People with SAD are not happy when we don’t have to face social interactions or situations; we hate that or anxiety holds us back from having a good time. In most cases, we want to actually go out and have fun; what human being doesn’t? We want to go out to birthday parties, we want to be around other people and hang out, we want to have a good time in the same way you want to, the difference is our body and our mind circulates the “what if” questions to the point where they will only stop if we don’t go. If you are our friends, we want to feel like you are our friends, so even if we do decline an invitation time to time, know that we appreciate you still are thinking about us.

All in all, we appreciate you and are very thankful to have you in our lives. You balance us out and we look up to you for being so outgoing and unapologetic for being who you are. As different we may be, we are able to connect with you for the qualities that you have, and although you may not understand how we feel about dealing with SAD, we understand that you try your best to be present and available for us while going through something so weird and confusing like SAD.

We value your friendship more than you ever know, even if we have a difficult time showing it. We value your presence in our lives.

Signed,

A “SAD” Introvert.

-Liz (:

Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: Therapy isn’t a Sign of Weakness. (5/19/18)

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Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH after its very long hiatus!

With the semester finally over and graduation just a few weeks away, I can finally focus my energy on TNTH and provide some new content for you guys! I’ve missed writing on here for many reasons, and one of them being that I have so much to share with you guys. It feels good to be back.

With that being said, I wanted to share something that I mentioned a while back on here about mental health and not being ashamed to ask for help if you need it. I’ve been going to therapy for the past month.

The act of going to therapy gives me anxiety every time I have to get up and go, and only because I know I have to go and talk about things that I’m uncomfortable with. I’m still in the early stages of therapy so I’m very much still trying to build a relationship with my therapist, but I know once I get into the swing of things, that anxiety will go away. In my first session, I actually learned a lot about myself that I couldn’t see due to my anxiety. Everything I was concerned about, my therapist told me that it was impressive of me managing in the way that I do, and that my best qualities are the ones I’m not taking consideration for. For example, I told her that I’m a bit of a “control freak” because I tend to find comfort in having every project in my life outlined, and she told me that it’s not being controlling, but organized. The point is that I have to start seeing things from a positive perspective; not everything I do/am is negative.

While there are so many other things I’ve discussed with my therapist, I walked out of the session feeling lighter and more… at ease if that makes sense. Like I felt like I didn’t have anything bothering me or causing me stress on my walk home, and it felt pretty good. I didn’t feel ashamed of going to someone’s office to talk about my issues instead of just talking to a friend, I felt like I had a better understanding (and motivation) to start seeing things differently and applying the things my therapist told me into action.

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In modern day society, the conversation about mental health is becoming one that many more of us are joining. People deem mental health was “crazy” and “ill” when really half of the time that’s never truly the outcome. Mental health is just as important as physical health because you should always seek help no matter what type of pain you are in. The misconception of mental health and therapy has discouraged a lot of people to stray away from it; in a recent study by Refinery 29, more than half of Black and Hispanic Americans are more than likely to never seek therapy in their lifetime due to the stigma it carries. Therapy isn’t this place where they hold you against your will if you say something like “I feel sad all the time”, therapy is a just a place provided for you to talk out the things that are bothering you, and hopefully get unfiltered advice and techniques to overcome those issues. 

Many people my age go to therapy because the struggle of living in a city like NYC while juggling college and jobs is a lot. Times aren’t how they were when our parents were our age, and sometimes as a 20-something young adult, we constantly feel burned-out and stuck in the position we are in. Therapy, for many of us, is just a place where we could get extra help and guidance in order to move forward with our lives. It’s not this place where you have to be deemed as “insane” or “crazy”, and for the love of the god you believe in, it is nothing like the depiction that television and movies make it out to be. It’s not talking about zombies eating your cereal in your dreams and asking your therapist what it could possibly mean. It’s not you talking for an hour straight while the only words your therapist say are “and how does that make you feel?” It’s not a padded room with 3 security guards holding a stray jacket waiting for you to say something crazy. It’s not that different from visiting your normal doctor, to be honest.

If you’re thinking of reaching out and asking for help from your primary care doctor, please don’t feel ashamed of doing so. There are thousands of people like you who seek therapy possibly for reasons related to yours. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to seek out help and talk about things that make you uncomfortable, but one thing my therapist told me that I’ll probably always apply to is that you have to accept that it’s okay to be uncomfortable, because it will get comfortable all in time. 

Therapy is just the first step into bettering yourself, and the biggest step to take in the process. After that, it gets better.

 

-Liz (:

*If you or anyone you know is going through a difficult time in their life, please refer to this page of numbers that can help get you the help you need: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources 

 

 

Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: My Social Anxiety Story. (4/22/17)

Over the years, I’ve realized just how bad my shyness can be, especially at social events and gatherings. I always wondered why it scared me whenever I was invited to a party, and why I decided to never go. I’ve always enjoyed having a good time, so why did I never allow myself to by just saying yes to the invitations I get? I realized that as I got older, the anxiety got worse, and when I tried to take control of it one time, I realized that this wasn’t just a little episode of anxiety, but that I have some sort of social anxiety.

When I was younger, I was extremely outgoing. I had tons of friends in my neighborhood, school, and going to parties and to friend’s houses weren’t so nerve-wracking. I would classify myself as a leader when I was younger; I never followed anyone and I was always fearless to do the things that no one else wanted to do. I guess after I graduated middle school and moved on to a school in a neighborhood that none of my friends lived in, I became very timid and shy. Even though my high-school experience didn’t make me introverted since I had tons of friends in high-school, the fact that I felt like I couldn’t fit into most groups made me fall into the category of “quiet, smart people”.

The earliest memory I have of feeling anxious at a social gathering was when I was invited to a friend’s “Sweet 15” back in 2009. I went with a couple of my guy friends from middle school, and when I got to the party and they started to talk and dance with the other girls there, I was left at the table by myself. I left at midnight, crying because none of my friends were there hanging out with me, and I felt super awkward being there. After that whole thing happened, I declined Sweet 16 invitations and decided that my best bet was to stay home and be comfortable in my own setting.

When I graduated high school and started college, I realized that because the school was so big and filled with thousands of people, I knew it was impossible to be “popular”. It was also going to be impossible to make friends and actually keep them because most of these people lived in Staten Island, and me in Brooklyn. For four years, my only friend was Obie, my high-school best friend since 2009. I didn’t have a group of college friends until I was in my senior year of college when I decided to take acting classes for my drama minor requirements.

When I made this group of friends in acting, I was very anxious in interacting with them outside the classroom setting. The first time my friend, Tori, drove me home after class, I was definitely a different person than the one I was in that classroom. Tori was like my other half in that class, and everyone knew it. But something changed in me once we both left that classroom; I was nervous, I was quiet, I was wondrously looking around to keep myself from focusing in on the situation itself. I remember sharing this during a “human behavior” session in Acting the following class, and she admitted that she saw that happening to me. It was embarrassing, to say the least.

Because I was determined to keep this new group of friends, I wanted to put myself out there more. Not only did I have this new-found group of friends, but my best friend is Obie, aka “Mr. Social Butterfly”. No matter what day it is, he constantly has someone to hang out with because he’s just so sociable and outgoing. He’s been that way since as long as I’ve known him, and I realized that if I wanted to be a part of his friend circle and interact with everyone in it like a normal fucking human being, that I needed to fight this battle I have with social anxiety. For years, Obie has known my struggle with my social anxiety, and I appreciate that he doesn’t try to put me into situations where it could be overwhelming. At the time though, I felt left out in that part of his life. I wanted to be cordial and on a talking basis with his friends and family, I wanted to be invited to his gatherings or to the bar whenever he went with his friends; I just wanted to feel like I was able to fit in with him and his friend group. After the many failed attempts in trying to be sociable with the people who came over to his place while I was there, I told him I wanted to be formally invited to his 24th birthday party. He warned me, and after not listening to him, I realized I should’ve.

Over the years, Obie has cut down his “turn-ups” and parties a lot, but the only big bash he really throws his one for his birthday. His birthday is usually during the “unofficial start of the summer” weekend, aka Memorial Day weekend. Of course, he was throwing another party at his house, and I finally wanted to be a part of his birthday celebration. We went back and forth on whether or not it was going to be okay for me to go, yet I told him I needed to do this for myself. So, I went.

That Saturday night, I got to his place two hours before the party was supposed to start. (Red Flag #1: people who tend to show signs of anxiety usually make it their mission to be one of the first people at a social gathering so that they don’t walk into something that’s already crowded.) When I got there, I was one of 6 other people there, and these other six people were friends and family that I see whenever I’m at his place, so I felt comfortable. As more people came and the more crowded his apartment was getting, I was getting a little anxious. From the time I got there to the time I left at midnight, I stayed in one spot of the entirety of the night. (Red flag #2: people who tend to show signs of anxiety usually stay in one particular spot at social gatherings, making it hard for them to mingle and socialize with other people, and even feeling anxious to get up from their spot to use the bathroom because you’re afraid someone is going to look at you when you do get up.) The people who I was first there with were now all over the apartment talking to people, playing Uno (which I wanted to join in but was too scared to get up which is Red flag #3: people who show signs of anxiety don’t create opportunities to join into something, they wait until someone who is doing the activity ask them if they want to join, which in that case you say yes.) Of course, no one asked me to play, and I sat in my spot, just watching those around me, feeling awkward.

Every once and awhile, Obie came to ask me how I was doing, and when it became too transparent on my face to continue saying I was fine, I told him “I feel weird.” In his attempts to keep me company and to help me feel better, I knew he couldn’t cater to me all night; it was his birthday and his party and those who came to his party wanted to see him. He had to be the host that night, not my only friend at the party. After awhile, there was no room to get by and my anxiety began to skyrocket. By 11 o’clock, I was ready for my father to come and pick me up because I started to get really hot in the face and every person that came up to try to talk to me, I responded in jibberish. I was a mess, to put it kindly, and when my father finally texted me that he was downstairs of Obie’s building, I pulled Obie to the side and told him I was leaving.

In my attempt to remain calm and content, Obie saw right through me. He knew that something was wrong, and after trying to play it off all night, I finally told him that I was having a really bad anxiety attack. I saw him through blurry, panicky eyes. I was hot, I couldn’t breathe, and I don’t remember if I actually heard anyone or anything around me besides Obie. He handed me a glass of water and walked me downstairs. He hugged me bye and I cried all the way home.

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Most people will never understand the severity of social anxiety, and that’s just a straight up fact. Every now and then, anxiety can go away and be prevented, but it takes more than “just start talking to people” or “just be yourself, silly.” It’s when you feel stuck in your seat and no matter how badly you need to use the bathroom, you hold it in because you don’t want anyone to see you get up. It’s when you rather let someone else answer the question that a professor asks because you’re too afraid of answering and being told that it’s wrong. It’s the awkward jibberish that comes out of your mouth when trying to socialize with people and then feel embarrassed when you sound dumb because your mind is too nervous to function right. It’s when you unintentionally make yourself the oddball in a group of people but at the same time screaming in your head “please talk to me first!”

It’s all these things and more, and it’s something that people will write off as being rude or “not being friendly”. Some of my old friends don’t even talk to me anymore because they think that I don’t care about them anymore because I never reach out when really, being the first to text someone scares the shit out of me because I’m afraid of annoying them. The truth of the matter is is that’s the last thing I’m trying to do.

I usually keep my anxiety to myself because it’s definitely one of those things that people will easily write off as being weak because everyone has anxiety in one way or another. I also keep it to myself because no matter how bad I’m feeling, I always feel like my little episodes of anxiety bother people when I express them. The fact of the matter is that yeah, I tend to make the littlest things and think about them all damn day, not realizing that it wasn’t that big, to begin with.

I don’t know.

I guess I’m just trying to be okay with myself and sometimes, it’s just not enough.

 -Liz. (: