As I have so frequently mentioned, I have depression! I’ve been actively treating it for about two years now, but it’s very clear to me that it’s going to take fairly involved management for the rest of my life. I would love to just crush it with my mind a la Jack Donaghy, but my therapist tells me I have to be realistic. So I’ve made myself a list of things that help me manage my depression as a long-term illness. This includes things that make me feel better in the moment, but it’s mostly about taking care of myself, and building a foundation during my better days so that I have support during my worst.
Content note: discussion and graphic description of a rape
He goes by the name Mateo now, but his full name is Matthew Maldonado. He is a MMA fighter and last year he spent ten months in jail because he and another man allegedly raped their inebriated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) teammate in a parking garage after offering her a ride home. They left her unconscious on the cement ground in the middle of a Washington DC winter. The account was caught on a security camera and the endeavor shook the entire BJJ community. Continue reading
So many of the posts I’ve written over this past year have dealt, in one way or another, with learning to love and accept myself as I am. I’ve written about my struggles with infertility, body acceptance, depression, perfectionism, more body acceptance . . .
Over and over, I’ve talked about learning to reject the internally and externally imposed judgments and criticisms for my perceived failures as a woman in our world. And over and over, I’ve moved through those pieces from a place of struggle and self-loathing to a place of strength, love, resolve, triumph. Sometimes, writing the post itself was the catalyst that brought clarity to my thoughts and took me from incredible pain to something approaching peace. The catharsis of communication is real, and powerful.
And yet. Two days after writing my most recent body-acceptance post, I was sobbing on the floor of my shower because I was so terrified of the weight I’d gained. Over a year after publicly repudiating the idea that infertility made me less of a woman, I considered breaking up with my partners because if I couldn’t “give” them a child, what could I possibly bring to a relationship?
I’ve been feeling like a fake for trying to write inspirational anti-perfection manifestos when my therapist just called me out on the exact same self-judging thought habits that have been making me miserable since I was 13. I’ve been feeling like I’m misrepresenting the catharsis and triumph of my writing as somehow permanent, a lasting shift in my mental landscape, when really it’s all just sandcastles at the water’s edge.
So, you’ve decided to finally take the plunge and find a therapist. Good for you! Your mental health is super freaking important and you deserve to get it taken care of! I’ve gone through the process several times myself, and I know it’s not always easy. Having had good therapists and bad therapists, I certainly know all therapists are not created equal. Indeed, bad experiences in therapy can even make people feel worse, not better.
To be clear, I am not a mental health professional. Lucky for me, my mother is a clinical social worker who ruthlessly screens providers for the people she loves. After observing her, I adopted a similar process once I moved away from home. In sharing these tips with you, hopefully I can make the task of getting help run a little more smoothly for you.
First off, “therapist” is an umbrella term encompassing a variety of mental health professions. To help you out, I made you a chart: Continue reading
Content Note: this post is about personal experiences of self-harm and suicidal thoughts & urges, including detailed descriptions. Style independently similar to “Please Don’t Call Me Ma’am.”
Please don’t make that gesture.
You know, the exaggerated one where you pretend you’re cutting your wrists.* At best, it’s tasteless. At worst, it’s hella triggering.
Let me tell you about my personal relationship to self-harm and suicidal thoughts so you can understand where I’m coming from.
Throughout my struggle with mental illness and my experimentation with medication, I’ve noticed that it’s very difficult to find detailed information about how different drugs affect different people. There’s lots of info about people experiencing the more uncommon, severe side effects, but very little chronicling of the day-to-day changes in mood, or information about how long things take to work.
Everyone’s different, so psychiatrists will never tell you “this is when you’ll begin experiencing results.” And that’s perfectly fine. But I’ve found that just knowing a handful of other people have had a similar experience to me calms me down significantly, and allows me to weather the rough process of adjusting to a new medication. So without further ado, here is some information on how my experience as a patient under the care of a psychiatrist taking Sertraline (a common Zoloft substitute) has been.
Happy Friday y’all! Have you heard of Maria Bamford? She’s a voice actor on the cartoon Adventure Time, Legend of Korra, and CatDog. You might recognize her from Arrested Development. All that and she’s an excellent stand up comic! I find her delightfully weird. Her style is impression-heavy and she’s not shy about distorting her face and voice. Here she is on Craig Fergusen:
And at the Laugh Factory:
Happy Thursday everyone!
As many of you know, tomorrow is Single’s Awareness Day… oh wait, I mean Valentine’s Day. Now, maybe it’s because I’ve been relationshipless for the past three Valentine’s Days, but I really am not a fan of this holiday. I’ve never grasped the concept of why we need a single day to tell someone(s) how much we love them or how much they mean to us. Shouldn’t everyday be the day to tell people these things?
Anyway, I digress.
So, real talk, I’m a bit of an archetype.
On average, I get at between 3-5 phone calls/emails/instant messages a day from people who need to vent. Once a week, a stranger, unprompted, tells me something difficult going on in their life. In my 11 person group house, I am the designated “mom.” In college, was that person who took care of my sick one-night-stand and his hung over roommate the next morning. Working in a social services-adjacent field, I am what’s called a “helping professional.” Even in my office of helping professionals, my coworkers say I put metaphorical flowers on the acerbic, get-a-grip quips the rest of the team wishes they could say.
I am a caretaker through and through. It’s simultaneously what gets me up out of bed each morning and what occasionally keeps me riddled with anxiety at night. Over the past 10 years, I’ve put a lot of thought, learning, and intentionality into becoming a better caretaker. There are many ways to do it, but here are the five essential ways I work to maintain a healthy relationship with myself while I help others: Continue reading
Content note: discussion of serious illness, mental health, and patient rights
How many of you, if you went to a hospital for a serious and life-altering illness, would want to know what your treatment options are prior to receiving treatment?
How many of you would feel comfortable being treated with a medication that had not undergone any randomized, controlled clinical trials?
If the medication being prescribed to you had undergone such trials, and the evidence had shown that this medication was no more effective than a placebo, how many of you would want to spend a few thousand dollars to receive this medication?
Would your answers to any of these questions change if the doctor was very nice? Would you stay with that doctor in order to avoid hurting their feelings?