Part IV of my answers from the "Ask Me Anything" post comes from questions submitted by fellow blogger Angella at "37 Paddington."
1) When did you first understand that you were struggling emotionally and how did help come to you?
The first time I really, really understood that I was struggling emotionally was in high school-I think I was 16. I had taken some angled tweezers and scratched up both of my forearms from my wrists to the crook of my elbows during an overnight field trip with the band. I ended up going to my instructor and showing him and breaking down and crying and we had a chat and he told me that what I was going through was something I needed to get help for.
When I got home from the trip I showed my parents my arms and told them I needed to see a counselor and they got me scheduled with a therapist at the military hospital we lived near. I began driving myself to therapy appointments and I saw that therapist for nearly two years, I think. He's actually part of the reason I like birds so much; he was a birder and would talk birds to calm me down whenever things got really upsetting in therapy. To this day seeing birds, drawing birds, watching birds, just birds in general are soothing to me.
It took years for me to be okay with trying medications (stigma and fear) and my current psychiatrist is my first psychiatrist-all my other prescribers have been an ARNP or a doctor. I've been through lots of therapists since that first counselor in high school and I'm currently in DBT therapy which so far seems the most helpful therapy technique I've experienced; it's still early but I'm hopeful. There's been a long road, is what I'm trying to say, and help has come from my parents, myself, campus resources, my husband, and beyond. I've been fighting this beast for a long time and have taken recommendations and resources from many different sources.
Unfortunately, having a baby really threw me for a loop and sent some tricky new stuff down the pike that definitely caught me off guard but as much of a struggle as it has been I'm very grateful to be as empathetic and sensitive as I am, I'm grateful for the people I've met through my mental health journey and I'm glad that I can be a sister to them even though it means being a part of this very painful challenge that we share, and I'm very grateful for the closeness my husband and I have developed through coping with my mental health together. I think he is my greatest source of help, hands down.
2) When you are in a dark place, what can people say or do that will be most helpful to you?
I think the most helpful things that people can say when I'm in a dark place is, "Are you safe?" or "It's going to be okay" and things like "You matter, you're worth it, we just want you to be better" or "It's the depression, it's not the real you."
My dark places usually involve a lot of anxiety so comfort and reassurance is helpful. When my depression flares up I tend to develop a lengthy list of reasons why I'm not worth keeping around and tend to lose perspective that it's a disease meddling with my brain and my thoughts. Reassurance and encouragement that target these pitfalls are most helpful for me and thankfully the hubs and my current therapist are quite good at reading me and offering helpful phrases as well as many of my blogger friends; they are so comforting and encouraging. I am very grateful for all these sources of support :o)
Thank you for the questions, they were definitely "thinkers." I'll post more answers next week. Thanks everyone for reading and submitting questions, I've definitely enjoyed answering them :o)