My Therapist Left

We tend to forget that therapists, counsellors, and psychiatrists are humans just like us. They have families and responsibilities outside their jobs. They have bills to pay, children to watch, and relationships to foster just like the rest of us. We see them as guides through really tough times in our life. Sometimes, they’re the only voice that can speak to us while we’re drowning. It’s natural that they seem almost untouchable; above our everyday problems. Still, they have them. Sometimes, you might find yourself in my boat: my therapist left.

Clearly, I don’t have any photos with my therapist…. but, this is right around the time that I started seeing her in 2016! Lipstick is killing it. Mental health? Not so much.

The best thing in the world is meeting and working with someone that you click with. The therapist that I’ve had for the last few years has been that. Where others have been quick to prescribe meds, she knew that I always wanted to try another route first. She knew that I was unbelievably analytical, so self-diagnosis was a serious problem if I let myself go too long without seeing her. Lastly, she knew that I was stubborn. I would go to my dying day saying that I was fine. If I had to handle school, work, and stress while dealing with a severe mental illness, I would without help. But, I would do so until I absolutely broke down. 

The Realities of Having a Therapist

Finding the right therapist can be difficult. It’s like a blind date. You’re not really sure how you’re going to click with this person. However, you’re expected to unload a lot of intimate thoughts onto them. I’ve definitely done an intake with someone who I totally did not click with and requested a new therapist.

Sometimes, the therapist you’ve heard amazing things about isn’t taking new clients. You have to wait for a referral from someone that’s higher up the food chain. In the hospitals, where these therapists are more accessible and insurance carriers are more likely to cover it, the faster therapists fill up. Can we all just agree that we need more mental health resources at LOWER COSTS?!

Once you find someone that clicks, you kind of cling to them like a weird stuffed animal. You get attached pretty fast. They become part of your family, but like an objective part that will tell you that you’re being irrational. You know? It’s all part of the realities of having a therapist and being a client. 

My Therapist Left

Another harsh reality is that your therapist might move! As I said before, these people are human beings with families, lives, and responsibilities that exist outside of their offices. In my experience, therapists that have moved practices or from one state to another have done so with ample notice to their patients. Obviously, I’ve been blessed with finding a great couple of providers, but I’ve never called to make an appointment to find out they’ve vanished. Usually, when they leave, they’ll refer you to another therapist that they think will work for you. You get the final say, of course. They give you time to see them and make those arrangements.

All of that being said, however, doesn’t make that loss any easier. Being understanding about the fact that my therapist had children and a life outside, doesn’t invalidate that that is a loss in my life! A therapist is someone that you share intimate thoughts and traumas with and you are allowed to feel a sense of loss – they know that which is why they try to make the transition as easy as possible!

Truthfully, it’s not something that is a “typical” occurrence by any means. You’re more likely to move to a new place or need to switch providers far before you’d ever deal with a therapist moving, but it does happen. When it does, we need to know that it’s okay to feel that loss, feel it all, and reach out for help during that transition.

The Takeaway

Here’s me without a therapist! A LOT of healing has happened since the first photo. As with any human, I still have more to heal, more to work on, and growth to make in this life of mine! Therapy ROCKS because we make it rock, not just because of our therapists…. even if they rock too 😉

Most recently, I called my nurse practitioner about some more guidance in choosing who to schedule my next appointment with. Something that I thought was totally in my own hands was made very comfortable by having a professional walk me through my file and talk to me about therapy I preferred! A quick telephone call can save you hours of scouring the Internet looking for a name to jump out at you, when you might not really know what you’re looking for! There’s NOTHING wrong with asking for help in times of these weird transitions – in fact, everyone involved wants you to! 

So yes, my therapist left a couple months ago. She absolutely rocked. I’m going to miss meeting with her. The relationship that I had with her was so beneficial for me in some of the darkest times of my life. At the end of the day, I’m allowed to miss her! But, I know that there’s therapists that are smart, able, and willing to accompany me in my mental health journey just as she was all those years ago!

If you’re having trouble finding a therapist, getting yourself involved, or just want to talk about other options/my experience with therapy, PLEASE get in my DMs below! I want to chat!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My brother and I were pondering what could be the most contradictory message that I could sharenon my blog. Maybe something like “You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Mental Health,” where I advocate for everyone keeping their traps shut. There are already many people in this world who spend their time writing articles with titles such as “Depression is a Choice,” so I think we have that base covered. Then I started to realize, I should probably write that contradictory blog. I should probably address all the people that scroll through my website and roll their eyes. 

No, I’m not going to sit here and side with you. First off, it would piss off quite a few people who trust me to write with an open mind and heart when approaching something as delicate as our mental states. Secondly, I wholeheartedly disagree. Every single blog that I write has a goal  of connecting to your inner self, your mental health, and your mind. If you don’t believe that some people might face some problems in that department then maybe this blog will change your mind. Seeing the world as more than just a binary  of “happy” and “sad” will seriously change your life. 

My parents knew almost nothing about depression when I first started my high school cry for help. They didn’t say they were clueless. They definitely didn’t know what to do or where to start when it came to addressing a situation that was unraveling before their eyes. Like most in their generation, they were raised to rub some dirt on it, wipe away tears, and get back up again. For all intents and purposes, this isn’t a terrible mindset to have. I mean, these are the men and women who have fought a couple of wars and whose parents survived the Great Depression. Was there really another way?

Generally speaking, in their generation, problems were dealt with in the home. Even then, no one really had the resources, technology, or knowledge about mental health to advocate for it or understand it like we do now. We constantly say that more and more people have mental illnesses now, but what if people just weren’t willing to be anything other than “normal?”

All that being said, my parents are definitely outliers amongst their peers. When others didn’t really understand or support my confusing disdain for everything around me, my dad was driving the mental health support train with my mom blowing the whistle. I’m blessed. People often applaud me for being open about my mental health journey, but they never think to applaud my parents for taking the leap with me. Being so vocal about my experiences has meant putting some really vulnerable moments online that people don’t always understand, especially when they think that I just wake up every day and choose to have depression or anxiety.

Yes, I did have pink hair & no, I don’t regret it.

I was probably 19 when I first had someone ask why I couldn’t just be happy. The look on their face was a mix of judgement and genuine curiosity. I’ve gotten the whole “I would NEVER take medicine,” thing too many times to count. I still tease my mom about saying “I think you should just get some exercise and you’d feel way better,” when she started to notice my mood shift downward. 

If there was any possible way that I could wake up, press a button, and decide my diagnoses wouldn’t  bother me that day, I would do so in a heartbeat. I’m going to take a leap of faith in saying that literally every single person that has a mental illness would do the same thing. I absolutely don’t blame people for not feeling like medicine is their thing. It’s not my thing either! But damn, you don’t wanna hang out with this homegirl without  her meds because it’s what WORKS FOR ME! Also, I would love to just sweat/eat right/meditate/sleep/work all of it out, but that’s not how it works. 

Mental illness is exactly that: mental. You can’t see my social anxiety from across the room at the doctor’s office, but it’s very much there and it’s very much real! That classic Bob Marley song that I conveniently used as the title for this blog also used to piss me off when I was younger because I was worrying all the time which in turn made me the exact opposite of happy. You know the one. I get it. It’s a song. It’s supposed to make you feel good. But, just because you haven’t felt mental illness in your mind or coursing through your body doesn’t make the experience less real for someone else. 

I haven’t personally broken my leg, but I understand that it would probably hurt. I don’t need to feel my bone break to believe in that kind of pain or suffering. More importantly, I trust the opinion of doctors that study and treat those people in the best way that they know how. Does a psychologist need to put someone’s head in a cast to have the world believe that you can’t just wake up and be healed? Maybe I’m comparing  apples and oranges, but if someone asked why you can’t just choose to start running on your broken leg you wouldn’t know where to start. If they shamed you for taking ibuprofen because when THEY broke their leg THEY didn’t have to, how would you feel? If they told you to just get some more sleep and it would go away, what would you say?

So yeah, don’t worry and be happy, my friends. But know, that there’s a time and place where you or the people around you can’t easily fit into the mold that is “happy.” Understanding each other is the first step in advocacy for mental illness. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have a first hand experience with mental illness, knowledge in the fact that there’s not just two camps of “happy” and “sad” can go a long way in how we love and treat one another.

Even if this blog still seems like some sort of persuasive essay and you still haven’t been convinced, I hope you’ll take a look at resources like National Alliance on Mental Illness who can say all this stuff more technically and less based on personal experience. Moral of the blog: I hope you never ever question why someone’s “choosing” to be sad. I hope you tell your kids, grandma, dog, lizard, succulent, and any other life form that will listen that happiness isn’t a choice. It’s something that you work at. Some of us just need a little support in that department.

Here at EmyD you’ll see an ongoing narrative that if you’re trying your best, no one can ask anything else of you. That goes for happiness too. If you’re trying your best to get up, show up, and just survive, in whatever that looks like right now, I’m proud of you!

Have you ever felt misunderstood or misrepresented in your mental state? Even after explanations, examples, and tears? You are not alone! Connect with me on any of the social below – I want to hear your story!

Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page.

A Little Medicine Mishap

I’ve posted a blog about my medicine before and I’ve talked a lot about it on the podcast as well. Recently, someone asked me my opinion on prescription drugs for mental illness. Though I’m very loud and proud about how helpful prescription antidepressants have been here for me, that question made me realize that some people are either liking the medical treatment that they are receiving, or they’re struggling with the side effects or stigma of medicine.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a success story. Finding the right dosage and the right medicine has been a hell of a struggle, but I’m finally in a place where I’m comfortable with all of it. I truly know that I’m one of the lucky ones, as some people struggle with finding the right fit (or not finding one at all) for years and years longer than I did.

That’s not to say that I don’t have days or moments when I don’t wanna throw the whole bottle away. When I introduce new products, medications, or regiments, I have to be really really aware of my mood changes. In the past, when I’ve changed birth control methods, it drastically effected my mood the days immediately surrounding my period – like my antidepressants were just a wash. Most recently, I had a huge issue with migraines. Let me just tell you, finding a headache medicine that didn’t make me feel like either a Zombie or She-Hulk has been a hell of a time. I settled on a pretty big dosage of Topirimate.

Coincidentally, this medicine effects my current birth control method AND my hormones!!! So, I was sporting THIS for a good amount of time before I had enough:

I’m embarrassed that this pic is even going anywhere on the Internet. But, you guys follow me to be real with you! This painful cystic acne was a result of taking 100 mg just to not get a migraine every day for 10 days.

Grand scheme: this isn’t that big of a deal. I bought some expensive full coverage foundation and did some more cleansing face masks in an attempt to rectify. However, the medicine was working to quickly, and my skin & hair were NOT fans. Of course it’s TMI, but I also went from almost never having a regular period, to having one for 3 weeks straight. Hell. on. Earth.

Again, having a good relationship with medical personnel is always a benefit. I was able to shoot my primary care doctor and my psychiatrist about the problem. They advised to half the pills and see if the problems persisted… which puts us to right about now. I have gotten more headaches and migraines because of the lower dose. My skin, hair, and menstrual issues have cleared up though. So, it’s really weighing my evils at this point – deal with migraines as they come occasionally and experience a little pain before I can stop them OR going through puberty for what feels like the second time & be worried about my birth control being ineffective sometimes. I chose the former.

End of the day, even the people who have a good fit when it comes to one medicine, might find it really hard to ever take antibiotics or other prescription medications. I’ve dealt with the physical icky feeling, the absolutely impossible to deal with acne, weight gain, and changes in birth control because of the medicines that rectify one issue in my body. It’s so so so hard. It sucks. It also sucks that some people’s bodies need these little boosters in the form of pills while others don’t. It just further adds to the stigma that is mental illness medication. Sometimes, medicine isn’t the right path for you. Holistic approaches can also be really helpful for mental health specifically (I’ll do a blog about some that I’ve experimented with very soon!)

My face when I’m expected to act normally but the medicine that fixes one part of my being makes my skin hate me, my hair feel like straw, my sleep suck, and my period go haywire.

No matter what your path may be, stick with it. Work with the medical professionals in your life to find the right fit because I promise it does exist. Even people who are thriving at one end of the medicine spectrum might not be thriving at other parts of their medical well being. As much as it sucks, you are strong and you can persevere. You’ve gotten through all the moments to make you brave enough to reach out for medicine or make the professionals prescribe you with some. You deserve the feeling of finding a good fit for YOU and YOU only.

Next blog goes up on Tuesday! Anything specific you want to hear about? Hit me up on socials, slide into any of my inboxes, or email if you want to chat about anything going on in your life!

Sad with SAD? Huh?

I’ve been trying to write this one for a while. I’m not kidding, I have about 6 drafts of this thing half written that I’ve like kind of scrapped but that I like some parts of… which is honestly kind of on brand for the topic, I guess.

Let me first start off by saying that I’m a hypochondriac. If any of you bitches start using that against me though, I’ll never say it again. I get a sore throat & I instantly think I have strep kinda thing. You get it. But there’s a difference between swearing on all things holy that your foot when you stubbed your toe and feeling like your hitting rock bottom again… for the millionth time… every year around the same time.

When I was first diagnosed with major clinical depression, my psychiatrist called it “Stage 3”. (Listen, I still don’t have any sort of degree yet, nor have I ever studied an ounce of medicine… so a Google search might make more sense out of this, BUT) how I understand it is Stage 1 your normal behavior starts to change aka isolation, more sleeping, appetite, etc. People around may or may not notice it. Stage 2 you might feel physical symptoms like aches and pains, exhaustion, headaches, upset stomachs, physical illness as a result of the lack of regular behavior your body has been used to. Stage 3, your body is kind of like “Ok, I can’t do this anymore so I’m going to sleep 18 hours a day” or you’re having a lot of depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts, etc. Again, this was explained to me at like 16 years old & I’m not a doctor so if anything at all these are the hypothetical stages that I went through. Okay? Don’t cite me as a scholarly source.

I struggled for a long time with episodes and the rollercoaster of depression. I’d have little increments where I didn’t need any thing from anyone – which included my meds and my therapist. Foreshadowing: it was a bad idea. I had really bad moments where I wondered why I was even taking medicine in the first place if I was still feeling shitty enough to cry myself to sleep in my college dorm every night.

I started to see this HUGE change in the winter. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Attendance has been an issue since the first diagnosis days… but this was different. I wasn’t skipping my 8:00am high school geometry class… I was skipping a class at 2:00pm. That I was paying $15,000 a semester to live and learn here… and sitting in a shitty dorm room because the thought of doing anything besides laying awake in my twin bed made my heart pound. I was awake. I was healthy. I could read. I could write. I could physically get there, but it’s like something was holding me in that bed and I didn’t really get it.

Above you’ll see an 18 year old Emily who was coming home from college every weekend to avoid interaction with literally anyone

When my therapist brought up seasonal affective disorder, I actually got pissed. As far as I knew, that was what people who didn’t really understand depression said that they had when weather started to get cold. As far as 18 year old Emily knew, that was a slap in the face for all of us that suffer all year long… summer, fall, winter, and spring. Didn’t she understand that I was depressed, I didn’t just have seasonal affective disorder? AND I had been deny the fact that anything was wrong for so long, here I was calling for help to get was I felt was a bullshit diagnosis thrown back in my face.

So, we started talking about my specific symptoms (some of which, honestly, I still struggle with today, guys):

  • I sleep 12 hours a day and I’m still exhausted
  • I don’t want to see anyone. It’s exhausting.
  • Showering seems like a lot of work.
  • Some days I don’t really eat.
  • Other days, I can’t stop eating…it makes me feel better.
  • Last night, I stayed up till 6 crying…. just crying.
  • I have increased depressive episodes
  • I’m extremely irritable in situations I wouldn’t be.
  • I lack empathy or interest in daily activities.

I was on anti-depressants. I was doing the coping mechanisms we were working on. But I felt like I was being sucked backward after huge strides forward I had made with managing my mental health. At that point, my friends, I didn’t understand seasonal affective disorder. She had to drop the bomb that I had just upped my mental illness chart another diagnoses AND another 20 mg of Fluoxetine.

Every single year, the winter months knock me on my ass. You can tell that my family has gotten used to me needing a little more love and patience this time of year, because my family group chat is much more active, despite my inability to hold a texting conversation. Guys, I mean I couldn’t even write a damn blog about seasonal affective disorder because it’s been such a bitch to me! But, my friends, that’s part of the beauty of this community. I see so many of you are going through similar situations – whether you only struggle seasonally, you have both major depression and SAD like me, or you are just in a tough place.

Sometimes, I actually run errands like this if I’m having trouble getting out of the house that day or REALLY don’t want any social interaction. I’m so outgoing. I love the people in my life. Sometimes, you just can’t, ya know? I guess do this to kind of hide, run through the store, and return to my little cave. Unhealthy, yes. Stealthy, also yes. I’m also starting to realize I look kinda fierce.

I know that mental health bloggers are supposed to provide you with this crazy list of like “99 Ways to Cure your Seasonal Depression” & I don’t have that (nor do I think it really exists in the way that we all want it to). I’ve skipped thousands of dollars worth of classes because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve felt the grip of depression get a little tighter on me as the days got darker and colder around me. So, I fucking believe that what you’re going through hurts. You are validated in needing help, needing space, needing time to heal, and just needing a moment to regroup. It is okay to not be okay…but, it is not okay to this you are all alone in that mindset.

Psychology Today says that 10 million Americans struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder every single year. So, the fact that once again I felt like I was weak, unworthy, or less because the winter months give me depressive episodes is a little fucked, in my opinion. There was the stigma and narrative 18 year old me was running with… and I’m not doing that bullshit anymore. So, if you or someone you know are struggling with the season (or at all) PLEASE seek help or reach out for some great resources. I might not have a list of 99 Ways to Instantly Cure SAD, but I do have a couple things that work for me: making to-do lists (and getting that shit done some how and some way), candles, baths with epsom salt, undereye treatments, rolling out your calves (even if you’re not an athlete this just feels good), naps, good podcasts, and long SAFE drives.

I’m going to leave you with this quote from “Endless Night” in The Lion King, which has gotten me through some of my worst days. It’s relevant and I think that it might be my next tattoo. *don’t tell Becky* The sun does always come out, my loves. Even if we have to push really hard to get through right now.

Wait, you take MEDS?

Yes. Yes, I do! Believe me, there wasn’t always a time when I would proudly proclaim that to the world & there’s still people in my life that think this skeleton should be shoved back in the closet. Nah. It’s out here, because taking medication is nothing to be ashamed of. When I tell people that I take Topirmate because I have chronic migraines, no one tells me to lower my voice. When I tell people that I have to take Zyrtec or Benadryl every day for like 6 months out of the year, they don’t look at me like I’m this incomplete human being or like I’m some kind of unstable addict just looking for a buzz. So, what’s the deal with medication that addresses mental illness? More importantly, what’s the deal with thinking that if we can’t see it on others, it’s not allowed to exist?

I put this picture on my Snapchat story a few weeks ago. Guess what, people’s first reaction wasn’t “OMG, you’re crazy” because they could SEE that something was wrong that the doctors were treating. For my mental health, though, the pain isn’t visible.

My parents getting me to talk to someone at age 16 was hard enough, getting me to take medicine? Virtually impossible. There was no way that I was taking a pill to “make me happier” in front of my friends. What would I say when they asked? When they asked me how it worked, how would I explain that I didn’t really see a difference yet? Nope. Not happening.

Here’s a good look at 16 year old Emily a couple months into taking an antidepressants. I wasn’t good at consistently taking them, nor was I really convinced that I actually needed them. I mean, I could smile….even if it didn’t feel right.

As first-born, my mom and dad didn’t really know how to “force” me to take the anti-depressants I desperately needed. This was like 2013, so it was way before the time of people posting their pills or talking about their dosage. Truthfully, I didn’t have any role models that I could turn to that were also in a position where they needed medication to jump start a mental health journey. Until one day, during musical practice, I saw my friend slip a tiny oval pill out of her bag and into her mouth. To anyone else, it was an antibiotic, a pain killer, irrelevant to their day to day life. To me, though, it was an indication that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone in my city, my school, even my friend group. I had no idea that she was taking pills either.

One day, I got up the courage to ask her. “Hey, um, I know this is weird, but are you on Sertraline…? I just got prescribed it, but I don’t know anything about it.” Her eyes lit up. You could tell she didn’t really talk about it either. Just like that… I had a person that took pills just like me.

Now, this isn’t where the story ends. I’ve been on a roller coaster with my meds for a long time. There have been times where I’ve just cut them out cold turkey because I start to freak out about the idea of taking them until I’m 80 years old. Let me just tell you, there’s reasons doctors don’t let you do that. I went She-Hulk on everyone around me. I’ve gained a bunch of weight on some types of medication. Some didn’t work during the cold seasons so I needed to up my dose.

My story with medication is not perfect AT ALL. Even today, I’m writing this blog as someone who has experienced a lot of medications that affect my mental illness. I’m on Fluoxetine now. 60 mg. It’s a decently high dosage, but it’s one that the professionals around me and I are super happy with at the moment. So, why am I writing this?

While my parents were desperately begging me to take my meds, I had no role models that were taking meds proudly that weren’t also in the peak of emotional turmoil. Well, babe, here I am. I can confidently say that I have hit rock bottom, bounced back, hit it again and grown to a point where I feel called to help people that are going through what I did.

I’m writing to say that the weight gain, nausea, stomach aches, and other symptoms are unfair coupled with what you’re already going through. But, you can’t let it deter you from the goal of finding the right fit. There WILL be some prescriptions that are perfect for some and NOT good for you. There will be some doses that actually help you and are WAY too high for others. In this sense, we need to start thinking about antidepressants and antipsychotics in the way their meant to be viewed: as medications. If you were ill and a certain prescription didn’t work, you wouldn’t just give up, getting sicker. No, you would work with your doctor for a new prescription!

I’m also writing to say that the relevance and awareness about these pills is much more real these days. Odds are someone in your life, whether you know it or not, is taking pills for mental health reasons on a daily basis. These days, doctors know more about the pills they prescribe and people know the point in which they need to ask for medical help.

Most importantly, I’m writing to tell you it’s all going to be okay. Taking medication doesn’t correlate with being crazy as I once really thought that it did. If these medications weren’t needed, they wouldn’t exist… it’s not like you can walk up to a dealer on the street and they’ll have a hefty supply of antidepressants on hand. Some professional, who took all the chemistry, psych, and biology classes, thinks this is the best thing for you… you’d trust them for anything else, what makes this different? Taking medicine means that you need help. Guess what, it is OKAY to need help.