MY MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains discussions of self-harming behavior which may be triggering.
I have been wanting to cover my mental health journey for a while now. But now that I'm sitting here writing it, I'm really struggling to find the words to start this post. I mean, where do I start? I have no idea when it started but once my depression became more prevalent, the more I struggled to keep it and myself under control.
Mental Health seemed like such a taboo topic growing up. I have never heard anybody in the Asian community discuss it at all. I hoping that I can reach out to at least one person and let them know that they're not alone.
Let's just dive in.
I have absolutely no idea when I first started noticing signs of my deteriorating mental health. I think they're always been there, perhaps it was a lot quieter when I was younger but when I started high school, everything got a lot worse. First off, high school already sucks on its own and now I'm now feeling so many feelings that I don't have the words to describe but it's eating me alive. I feel like I've known on some level that I was depressed but growing up, my family never discussed mental health issues so I wasn't entirely sure what it was that I was feeling. I racked my brain for all sorts of excuses. Like maybe I'm PMSing, or just had a bad day, or I'm just stressed because of school.
It wasn't until Sophomore year of high school that I decided to seek help. Being the tech savvy 15 year old I was, I googled "Ways to Seek Help for Depression". I was seeing a lot of go to therapy and make an appointment with your doctor ASAP and see if you're really depressed or if medication is an option for you. So I made an appointment with my doctor the next week. I figured it was best to receive a medical diagnosis and not one that I gave myself after surfing the internet for 15 minutes.
That next week is when I'd like to think that my "road to recovery" began. That sounds way more intense than it is but I was actually very proud of myself for taking that first towards a better me. With my doctor, we began discussing different methods of treatment. She suggested that I go see a therapist and start exercising more (I know right, a doctor, asking "are you getting enough exercise???") as well as starting anti-depressants. I had no idea what to expect or what I had just gotten myself into but I was ready to try anything.
Not too long after that doctor's appointment, I found a therapist for teens that was a reasonable price and not too far from home. So I thought, why not? I've got nothing to lose...
THERAPY DOESN'T WORK FOR EVERYONE.
After going to a fair amount of therapy sessions, I felt like therapy wasn't right for me. I'd like to mention that I think my therapist is such a sweet woman and she's great at her job but I personally didn't feel like therapy was doing much for me. I mean, I've heard a reason why therapy may not be effective because the client quits or gives up on it but I truly don't think I felt like I was making any progress after a substantial amount of time.
I wish that people would quit pushing therapy as treatment for depression and anxiety, you've got to realize that people work through things in different ways and find different ways to heal.
My 5 Year Long Journey w. Various Medications
I was informed by my first doctor that this would not be a smooth and easy-going road. I'm going to get sick, lose weight, gain weight, be nauseous, and have increased thoughts of suicide. And she was right.
I struggled A LOT with the side effects of the anti-depressants. It's pretty standard to start a new medication and stick with it for a week or two. Often times, those two weeks will pass I find that nothing is different except for the fact that I have now gotten used to these side effects. But then it starts all over again when I start a new prescription.
I'm not gonna lie. It's taken five years for me to find the right combination of medication because I quit many, many, many times. I just gave up. Why was I the one being tormented? It's bad enough I'm depressed and have severe anxiety, now I have to suffer from all these different medications to help the chemicals in my stupid brain stabilize. But I'm glad I tried again. I may have taken multiple breaks but I came back and didn't give up. I'm proud of myself.
Forever Grateful for Family & Friends
I'm so incredibly thankful and grateful for my support system. They were there for me when I needed them the most and never held anything against me. I owe my parents the world and more. They put up with mood swings, my panic attacks, and watching me harming myself. I will never be able to repay them. I can only try to be half the people they are.
As for my friends, I'd really like thank you all as well. Thank you for understanding that sometimes I need to isolate myself meaning that you may not see me for extended period of time. Or being understanding when I tell you can't bring myself to leave to house, having to cancel on our plans. I always feel so incredibly guilty, like I'm taking advantage of you guys, but I really appreciate it when you let me know that's not an issue and that you'll be here for me no matter what.
This past year and a half have been particularly challenging for me for personal reasons (I'm typically pretty transparent about things that are going on with my life but I want this to remain private), and my friends and family have been there for me every step of the way. When I'd wake up from a nightmare or just cry for hours on end. You guys are the true heroes in my book and I will always be forever grateful.
My Self-Destructive Behaviors
There were a lot of self-destructive things that I did to myself over the years. In high school, I weighed a mere 82 pounds when the normal weight I should have been according to my height was 95 pounds.
I struggled with having any control in my life. The only thing I could control was how much food what kind of food I ate. Because of this, I was constantly dizzy, weak, and I felt like my mind was turning blank, like it wasn't even my own mind anymore. In addition to this, I'd go out with my friends and get stupid lit. On an empty stomach. Which is one of the worst feelings in the world. I would eat in front of my parents because I knew they were worried about me but go up to my bathroom and purge it out. It made me feel like I was in control of my life. Being able to determine what happens to me even if it's hurting me. Sometimes I still struggle with this issue but it helps me to remember that I must take care of my body in order for my body to take of me.
Another lovely habit I had was isolating myself from the world. I used to literally lock the door to my bedroom and refused to come out. While I still do this during the occasional depressive episode, I feel like I have a better grip on everything. I won't necessarily "force myself to go out or follow through with plans I've made with friends, but I do know myself very well and sometimes isolating myself even further can cause me to go down a rabbit hole.
I don't anybody knows about this but I got to a point in my life where I wrote Goodbye letters to my parents and friends. I'd write them and then destroy them but I did this often. I'm only imagining that this could have been great for me at all. The only thing that stopped my from taking my own life is my family.
How My Mental Health Has Evolved Over the Years
I'd like to believe that I have made tremendous strides in terms of where I started 5 years ago. I have learned to grow as a person, how to work through issues that arise such as those sneaky little panic/anxiety attacks, how to not take myself so seriously and what works for my own person.
Over the years, I have become more anxious. I have seen an increase in my anxiety and panic attacks but I now have found a way to help myself through it. I also have medication specially for panic attacks!
Close your eyes.
Take deep breaths (count to three for each inhale and exhale)
Put your head between your knees if your breathing doesn't stabilize after that
Once your breathing is somewhat stable, count to 10 as many times as needed
This is what helps me get through those difficult times when I feel like I can't breathe, I can't guarantee that this will help you any but perhaps even just one of the methods mentioned above can help you!
My mental health journey will never end but this is what it's been like up to this point in my life. I don't see it as a burden anymore, it's just a part of who I am and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO REACH OUT TO ME ON ANY FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA OR EMAIL ME AT DKONGSOMBOOT@GMAIL.COM IF YOU EVER NEED ANYBODY TO TALK TO. YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE LOVED.