SPEAK OUT: Medication-Why I hated it & What changed my mind

Thara Gould
Edinburgh, UK
Full diagnosis: Depression, anxiety, EDNOS/OSFED, and Insomnia.

Medication-Why I hated it & What changed my mind

Hey Guys,

Recently on social media, I have seen negative posts surrounding medication, and while it’s not always the solution, I believe it is an option that should be explored. During my 8 month stay in a Psychiatric Unit, I refused my medication, this was due to a variety of reasons.

Firstly, I thought I wasn’t unwell. During some people’s ill state of mind, they often don’t realise how unwell they actually are, I consistently told the nurses and doctors that I wasn’t unwell, I just simply wanted to die… I was convinced it was a personality trait rather than apart of a mental illness.

Secondly, my father had brought me up from the age of 8, and he had given off a vibe that told me taking medication was a sign of weakness. He was already disappointed in me for being hospitalised, and I didn’t want him to be further disappointed in my weakness, I.E taking medication. Not only this but I myself, saw it as a weakness and I didn’t want to have to rely on medication and have a ‘weak mind’.

Thirdly, side effects. Ew, side effects… the worst thing about starting a new medication, or coming off one (or even being on the wrong kind). They made me feel sick, dizzy and even more unmotivated. My first medication was Fluoxetine, the main side effect I got from that was pure rage, and increased suicidal ideation and tendencies (the complete opposite of what the medication is meant to be doing). This obviously didn’t encourage me to take that particular medication and put me off exploring other ones.

When I decided to be more positive towards recovery I took a step back and looked at my options. Realistically, medication was an option, and I made a decision to explore it. Therapy didn’t work for me, and the next course of action was to give meds a go. While medication didn’t work for me then, I know it works and helps so many people now, and maybe it will even help me in the future. I do not think people who are on medication are weak or have anything to be ashamed of. In a way, I wish medication had helped me because unfortunately, I am yet to find my ‘thing’.

Life is a big adventure, and I guess during my adventure I will find out what works for me. So, if you find medication helps you, and keeps you safe and happy, please do not look at the negative posts on social media and feel bad for taking any form of medication.

Love always,

-T♥

Read more about Thara, a Mental Health, Lifestyle & Beauty Blogger from Scotland, at her blog Versablogs.


Shame. Hurt. Anger. Confusion. And the Power of Sharing Your Story.

 

I walked into the classroom, sat down and stared at the other 20 people.  The first thing I  noticed was I was that almost everyone was older than me.  There were about 3 of us that appeared to be early to mid-thirties, everyone else was 20-30 years older.  Next, I noticed that about 5 of the people were Black. Some people looked rich, some looked poor, some looked happy, and others looked stressed.  Do I belong here? Can I quit this class without being Add headingharassed via email? I hope I don’t fall asleep.  These were the thoughts in my head as I sat waiting for the class to begin.  Two hours later and several tear drops later all I saw were people who understood my struggle for the last 25 years. Read More


11 Things that made us talk Mental Health in 2016!

What made us talk about mental health in 2016?  The short answer is a little bit of everything!  From senseless killings to hashtags to Solange’s latest album to Myleik Teele’s podcast mental health, mental illness, and self-care are becoming more common for us to talk about.  Even though there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness and self-care, 2016 can be classified as a year of progress!  In no particular order, let’s take a look at 11 things that made us talk about mental health last year!

NYC Well & Chirlane McCray:  ThriveNYC: A Mental Health Road Map for All was released in November 2015 and gave an outline of 23 new initiatives for New Yorkers img_3189mental well-being (there is a total of 54 initiatives outlined).  The NYC.gov site gives data on why these programs are needed, and one of the numbers that stands out is 14 Billion; that is the estimated amount of dollars lost annually because of losses in productivity.  This astounding amount isn’t the only reason NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray made mental health her signature issue. In September 2016 Chirlane sat down with Essence and discussed promoting mental health, read it here. In the article, she is open about mental illness in her own family, which many people in the spotlight don’t discuss.  In October 2016 NYC Well launched and it is a free, confidential connection to mental health support for New Yorkers.   

The Veteran’s suicide Rate:  The Department of Veterans Affairs released a study in July of 2016 that states on average 20 Veterans a day are committing suicide.  About 18% of all suicides in the United States are U.S. Veterans, however, they make up only 9% of the U.S. population. Throughout 2016 Veterans Affairs had come under fire for various issues related to the care of our veterans, but the release of this number is staggering.  While providing assistance can be difficult if Veterans are not reaching out for help, the VA has increased the amount of mental health providers, support personnel, and established partnerships with community health providers.  

  

The shooting death of Deborah Danner:  In October 2016 an NYPD officer shot and killed img_3185Deborah Danner; she was well known Bronx resident that had been living with schizophrenia for years.  In New York Times article it states that an officer shot her twice after Ms. Danner took a swing at him with a baseball bat.  NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and the Police Commissioner agreed the incident was not handled according to protocol. This is only one of several incidents that led us to discuss the training officers are receiving or the lack thereof.  Ms. Danner’s attorney shared an essay she wrote a few years ago about Living with Schizophrenia  (The essay IS worth a read!)

Dr. Phil’s interview with Shelley Duvall: Shelley Duvall was a famous actress and not many people knew she had been diagnosed with a mental illness until she appeared on The Dr. Phil Show.  Dr. Phil offered to get Shelley professional help, however, many people felt that this interview was exploitation.  Even though Duvall consented to the interview, those that opposed the interview feel if she were well she wouldn’t want the interview to be aired. The controversy of this episode was so serious, to date, we have not been able to find the full episode online.

Kid Cudi:  Black Men’s Mental Health captured the spotlight when Kid Cudi took to img_3187Facebook on Oct. 4th, 2016 and shared his own struggles with depression.  The post, which has 137k shares, states he has been living a lie, living with depression, anxiety, and suicidal urges. He also admits he is nervous about the next steps but he has to do this not only for himself, for his family and fans.

#yougoodman: According to the Huffington Post, #yougoodman began on Twitter during a conversation between @DaynaLNukolls & @TheCosby.  The hashtag was created for Black men to have a safe place to discuss mental health.  This hashtag is significant because men have higher rates of suicide and also because mental health in the Black community is swept under the rug and not discussed.

Kanye West:  In November of 2016 Kanye West went on another rant during a show.  At this point, a Kanye West concert isn’t a Kanye West concert without at least one 20 minute rant!  However days after he abruptly ended the Sacramento show he was hospitalized in  LA, some reports say due to exhaustion other reports say he was placed on psychiatric hold.  There was even a leak of a mental health evaluation that supposedly belonged to Kanye. Although we may never hear from West about why he was hospitalized it reignited the conversation about Black men’s mental health.

A Seat at the Table:  Solange Knowles released her third studio album on September 30, 2016.  This album was described as a therapeutic collection of soulful tunes by VH1.com and some features include Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland and BJ the Chicago Kid.  The interludes on the album from Mama Knowles, Papa Knowles, and Master P make img_3191you really understand that this album is about the Black experience.  A Seat at the Table is Solange’s first number one album in the U.S. and the song Cranes in the Sky is grammy nominated. This song is the most therapeutic song on the album for many.  “I tried to drink it away/ I tried to put one in the air/ I tried to dance it away/ I tried to change it with my hair”, this opening verse makes you want to hear more probably because we have all had issues we have tried to deal with in various ways.  Cranes in the Sky describes a metal clouds in the sky (those things that weigh on us and that follows us everywhere).  

Bipolar Faith:Monica A. Coleman’s great-grandfather asked his two young sons to lift him up and pull out the chair when he hanged himself, and that noose stayed in the family shed for years.  The rope was the violent instrument, but it was the mental anguish that killed him.”  These are the first two lines of the description on Amazon to Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression & Faith.  This book was published in July 2016 is “both a spiritual autobiography and memoir of mental illness” that discusses Monica’s own journey with bipolar II.  What is sure to make her story more interesting is the fact that Monica is a minister and a Professor of Constructive Theology and African-American Religions at Claremont School of Theology in southern California.  Click here to read more about Bipolar Faith and other books written by Dr. Monica A. Coleman.  

Myleik Teele asked a therapist:   Myleik Teele is an entrepreneur and does a podcast when time permits about lessons she has learned in business and in life.  Curl Box is a huge success and Teele is open about her struggles with starting the subscription-based business, previous relationships, dealing with her achievements.  One area she has also been open about is the fact that she has a therapist.   A happy, successful Black woman that discussed having therapist was bound to get a lot of questions from her followers, so she dedicated an entire podcast to questions for a therapist.  Myleik has met all of her podcast guests, so when she ran into Jor-El Carabello again, she asked him to do the podcast!  Jor-El Carabello, who isn’t Myleik’s therapist,  is a licensed mental health counselor in New York.  The interview ranged from ways to find a therapist to advise for a young woman whose mother is suffering from mental illness.  Listen here on podomatic or find it on iTunes.   A couple of Teele’s other podcasts that made us talk about self-care, self-fulfilment, and self-esteem: How I Found Peace & Happiness: A chat with Necole Kane.  Myleik and Necole Kane, of xoNecle, have girl talk about dealing with change and what finding happiness looks like.  The other was a surprise podcast sparked by a listener’s letter.  A Letter for Late Bloomers & Comparison will make you rethink your own success and question the story we tell ourselves.  Check out a listing of all of Myleik Teele’s podcasts here.

TRUMP! Yes, our President-elect Donald Trump made us all discuss mental health and mental illness.  Even though we questioned his mental wellness at times, our main concern was the way he answered questions about our Veterans and mental img_3184health while on the campaign trail.  While he acknowledges the high veterans suicide rate, he also seems to suggest that some soldiers have mental health problems because they are not strong enough to handle things they see during wartime.  His comments upset many people,  but also made us take a closer look at PTSD and the Veterans suicide rate.  Trump becoming our next president is sure to give most of American some added stress and anxiety so he may make the list again next year!

Read More


Not “Eliminate”… but “Manage”

Last week I shared my story about meeting my first therapist.  That post has become the most read post to date-THANK YOU!  Due to the response, I received via email and text, I wanted to share a blog post from mental health professionals.  I came across Dr. Amber Thornton on Instagram and I thought her blog post ‘Not “Eliminate”…but” Manage” would be a great follow-up to “Her Name was Jane”

Dr. Amber Thornton is a  licensed clinical psychologist, currently practicing in the Knoxville, Tennessee area.  Read more about Dr. Amber Thornton and her professional approach to mental health.

Not “Eliminate”…but “Manage”

Whenever I meet a new client who comes to me for mental health counseling/psychotherapy, one of the first things I say is this:

“I am not a magician, so I cannot make the difficult things in your life go away.  I cannot make your difficult emotions go away either.  But we can work together to help you manage them because they are a valuable part of life.”

Every day, both personally and professionally, I meet people who attempt to stuff and suppress their difficult emotions, with the hopes that this process will make them all go away.  Within our families, friendships, and even through the media, we are taught that we should be able to “control” our emotions.  We are also taught that if we avoid feeling our difficult emotions, that they will eventually go away.  Unfortunately, none of this is true.

Many days, I can’t help but wonder what our lives could be like if we embrace the idea that life will include both ups and downs, happiness and sadness, joy and dismay.  I truly believe that if we are able to accept our difficult emotions as being an integral part of life, then they may begin to feel and look much different.  I realize this can sound confusing or paradoxical even, but many times, the very thing we try to avoid is what we need to embrace the most.  It’s like the elephant in the room: it is big and takes up so much space while we try to ignore it, but once we acknowledge that it’s there, it’s not so big anymore.  It becomes quite manageable and we eventually learn ways to manage the discomfort.  Sometimes it may eventually fade away.  Believe it or not, our emotions operate in the very same way.

So what contributes to difficult emotion?  The list is endless, but a few of the most common contributors include:

Continue reading here


Are we ignoring mental illness? 

Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness.  Every one of us is impacted by mental illness.  One in five adults are dealing with this illness, and many are not seeking help because the stigma prevents that.~ Margaret Larson

Depression.  Anxiety.  ADHD.  BiPolar.  These are some common words were use or hear almost daily in our conversations, on the news, or on our favorite television shows.

We are hearing more about the importance of mental wellness, and self-care.

We see the green awareness ribbons and read the stories about our veterans’ suicide and PTSD rates.

We are hearing and seeing more and more about mental illness, mental health, and mental wellness more than ever before, but what are we doing with this information?  According to a report by Mental Health America (MHA), a non profit organization, Americans are not getting the treatment they need.  Many people may immediately say that there is a lack of access to the help they need, however the report’s findings disagree with that.  The report entitled “The State of Mental Health in America” gives facts, statistics and other data on mental health from across the United States.  The report also list the best and the worst states for mental health care, and Connecticut is at the top and Nevada is at the bottom.  Even though Vermont is the 3rd best state, 43% of adults that have been diagnosed with a mental illness did not receive treatment.  This number is just under the national average because 56%
of Americans with a mental illness did not receive treatment despite there being more access to insurance and access to treatment. Read More


I Am Solid She’s Cupcakes & Conversations: The October Edition

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Cupcakes & Conversations in an event in support of  I Am Solid She’s campaign: “Breaking Barriers to Silence Stigma…One Conversation at a Time”.  The goal of this campaign is “to encourage open dialogue about mental health which creates a platform for women to share stories, information, and empowerment through conversation.

The most recent Cupcakes & Conversation was held this past Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the Myers Park Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC.  The topic:  Silently Suffering…Can You Hear My Cry?”  The guest speaker was Dr. Arloishia Israel, and she spoke with total transparency about living with a chronic illness and how that led to her depression.  Dr. Israel discussed how at she had to accept that she had Rheumatoid Arthritis in her THIRTIES!!  She as well as many other people only know older people to diagnosed with this condition, so she had her husband began to educate others, beginning with their own family. Everyone seemed to appreciate the transparency with which Dr. Israel spoke, because it is not common to hear such honesty when discussing mental health or chronic illnesses, especially  in the Black community.  The attendees were also educated on how chronic illnesses can lead to depression and that depression often occurs in cancer, Parkinson’s and heart attack patients.  Often times people are so focused on the physical healing that little to no thought is given to the mental well-being.  One word that this therapist, wife, mother, sister and daughter had to learn to use was “No” and it wasn’t easy.  Dr. Israel shared moments when her hands were extremely swollen  or when she wasn’t able to stand up long enough to sing one song in church, people still continued to ask so much of her.  She discussed how she had to set boundaries and prioritize because if she didn’t she would not have the energy to put into her own well-being.  Through medication, a therapist, the support of her family and prayer Dr. Israel is doing much better and although she still battles with RA she was able to stand in heels and share her story!  The comments and questions from the attendees’ showed that many were deeply impacted by Dr. Israel’s story.   Read More


@KrisNichole Celebrates Her Life Anniversary!

The Pain.   God Saving Me.  Me walking to become the me GOD had planned

When you first look at these pictures of  Kris you may see a beautiful young Black woman.  In speaking to Kris, you will sense she is sweet, intelligent and kind.  What you won’t see are the scars that are healing, from several suicide attempts. (Yes there were several)  Kris had been diagnosed with depression, sever panic attacks and anxiety.  She has been admitted to what she refers to as a “Psych Prison.” Dealing with all of the things that life can throw at us is difficult.  Dealing with all of these things while suffering in silence with mental illness can take a toll on even the strongest person. On August 11, 2011 there was another suicide attempt, however after this one Kris made a decision to fight and fight Read More


Mama has “the blues”? The Carmichael Show gets serious about depression

Many families share the good, the bad and the ugly with each other, especially spouses.  But how do often do spouses speak about their mental health?  Some moms and daughters and sons and fathers are best friends, but would they open up about being depressed?  In this week’s episode of The Carmichael Show, Cynthia, the wife, and mother (Loretta Devine) is caught crying while she is in the kitchen alone.  While this is a comedy, the response of husband and father, Joe, (David Alan Grier)  is that she has “the blues”, which he describes as some crying, sadness, and excessive sleeping.    

 

Maxine, the girlfriend of Jerrod Carmichael (one of the shows creators), pushes back and the family has an open conversation about depression.  Surprisingly, well maybe not actually, all of the responses are common in the African-American community;  “only rich people get depressed”, “your mom isn’t depressed, she is strong”, and there is an “uncle that hasn’t left home in 15 years” that gets swept under the rug.  The episode goes on to discuss therapy, shows how the Carmichaels deal with the news that mom is depressed.  Jerrod Carmichael, encourages his mom to seek help.  He and Maxine are in the minority as other family members chime in on the subject.   

According to the National Institue on Mental Health, “Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States“.  Depression is defined as “A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image”  according to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).  It is understandable that many parents, especially moms, feel like they cannot open up or even address their own feelings or needs.  It is accepted that parents are supposed to be the strong ones, and be the “backbone” for their children and sometimes the rest of the family.  Parents are supposed to be an example of  perfection and strength, right?  Not all of the time!! Children need to know that sometimes mom and dad need their own time and that mom and dad have rough days too.  They need to see examples of self-care and self-love!  Letting anyone believe that you have it together 100% of the time is a disservice to your family, as well as yourself.  The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can continue to take care of our families.
The Carmichael Show tackles this sensitive topic with truth and laughter!  Tune in each Sunday for new episodes of this great comedy!  NBC.com has full episodes of season 2 online.  The link to the full episode is here.


Kevin Breel Speaks about Depression #NSPW

Would you rather make your next Facebook status:

I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I hurt my back.” OR “I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I am depressed.”

That quote is one of  the most powerful questions asked by Kevin Breel during an inspiring talk for TEDxYouthTalk.  During the talk, he discusses being depressed and his struggles with suicidal thoughts. The question is a powerful one!  It a perfect example of the stigma associated with mental illness.  To add to Kevin’s question, I ask what would be your thoughts if your best friends Facebook status was  “I’m having a tough time getting out of bed because I am depressed.”? Your answer to that question reveals how you feel about mental illness.  Would you question their claims of a hurt back or offer up a “Feel better soon!” reply?  It’s time to really consider how we view mental illness.  Check out the video below and share your  thoughts, so we can begin to Speak Away the Stigma!


7 Tips for a (Menatlly) Healthy Freshman Year

FROM LUMBERJACKBLOG

It’s a time for new beginnings!

It’s a new chapter in life, but it feels like a whole new book!  

Freshman year is a year of first and forevers. This is a time when new friends will be made, and experiences will yield life-long lessons.  This year of learning and transition will be exciting, yet stressful. One thing that needs to be maintained is during this time is your mental health.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, As you head off to begin the next phase in life, here are 5 tips that will help you have a mentally healthy freshman year.

Designate your support  system NOW!!

You will have happy, sad, and WTF moments the entire year, have a person to call and share these moments with. Real life situations will happen and you may not have your family and close friends close by.  Get your family up to speed on using how to use Facetime, Oovo or Glide and email if necessary.  Set up group chats if your close friends that are going to different schools because sometimes they will be the only ones that will understand those WTF moments!

Exercise!

Exercise is an important habit to work into our daily routines.  Not only will a regular routine help keep the “Freshman 15” away, but it will keep your mind fresh.  Balancing a college workload, a social life and sleep can be stressful, and one of the best ways to alleviate stress is to get moving.  Head to your schools gym/rec center to shoot some hoops, treadmill time, or a Zumba class.  SN-This is a good way to see and meet upperclassman too!   

Learn your school’s resources!

During orientation is a great time to ask about the services on campus.  Some schools may offer counseling with professionals while others may offer peer-to-peer counseling.  Some services may have a fee, but there should be some services that are covered by the cost of tuition. Your residence hall staff is a great place to ask questions about available resources.

Be Social!

More than likely your school as social media accounts, and that is a great place to find out what events are happening on campus!  Join interest groups, attended meetings, form study groups, and volunteer.  Ask when your roommate or neighbors are having lunch or dinner and ask to join them!  Your professor may offer or know of study groups, or campus organizations, so don’t be afraid to ask.  One of the most important things you need while in college and once you leave college is your network, so work on building a good one.  

Journal

Keeping a diary or journal can be therapeutic during tough times.  It is also a great way to keep those college memories forever!  Do a recap of your week, or write about your frustrations.  Physical journals that require the use of pen and paper may seem outdated, and if you’re one of those millennials, then there are a few journaling apps available.

Just say no to drugs and alcohol

Maybe this should have been number one, lol!  As we all know drugs are illegal and so is alcohol by those under 21 years old.  What many people don’t understand is that drugs affect the chemicals in your brain.  Different people have different reactions to drugs, plus if there is a history of mental illness in your family, using drugs can increase the chance you may develop a mental illness as well.  People drink for various reasons, if you drink because you are stressed or because you “loosen up” after a few drinks review the tips above.

If you are reading this have passed your freshman year, what tips do you have for upcoming freshman?  If you are a freshman, what tips will you use to increases your likelihood of having a mentally healthy freshman year?