The global tag starts below The Classic Brunette: How To Know If It's Time To See A Therapist + My Journey With Mental Health

Monday, August 27, 2018

How To Know If It's Time To See A Therapist + My Journey With Mental Health


This past year has been absolutely insane with everything that has happened. I have definitely had a lot of ups and downs what with graduating college, my parents passing, and moving to a new city and state, it's no wonder that my mental health has been going through an absolute loop. This post is definitely going to be the most 'real' and personal thing that I have written. I'm going to be open and honest, because mental health isn't something that a lot of people talk about openly. In more recent years it has definitely been discussed more, but there are still a lot of things that people keep hush-hush. I completely understand since it's deeply personal, but if I have the platform to talk about my own journey and give someone else the opportunity to maybe understand a bit more, then I will. I always try to treat everyone who reads my blog like a friend, and so I'm opening up the conversation just in case anyone else wants to discuss it as well.

Another thing I want to be honest about is that although the events from this past year have put me through the ringer, I've always known that there was something slightly different with my mental health. I've always been a worrier in many different situations, always had periods where I felt 'down', and a few other quirks that just weren't what others considered normal. Getting myself to the doctor to check out these issues has been on my to-do list for years now, but it was something I continually put off. I kept thinking "maybe everyone feels this way" and "it's not that important so I don't need to mention it right now" or "well I don't think it's affecting me that badly" and just pushed the mental health idea away for another day.


These past few months though I've noticed a definite shift in my mood and how I've been reacting to things, so I thought it was time to reassess my mental health and go talk with someone. I think the toughest thing so far has actually been scheduling the first appointment to talk about the feelings I've been having. It's scary opening up to someone else, especially if it's someone you don't know very well. If you aren't sure how things play out once you decide to take this step, I'll lay it out for you quickly. I made an appointment with my primary care doctor (while also establishing care here in Seattle) and went in with my primary reason being a referral for therapy. She had me fill out a sheet with different things I may have been feeling (to gauge for what looked like anxiety and depression) and then also had me talk about a few of the things going on in my life and why I was coming in to see her now. Y'all I tried going in strong but I ended up crying three separate times. If that doesn't tell you I was ready to see someone I don't know what will. She set me up with a referral and now I'm waiting for my first therapy orientation/appointment. Although the setup for how your doctor does this part may be slightly different, it will probably at least slightly resemble my appointment. It isn't as scary as it seems, I promise!

Here's where I'm leveling with you all 100%. My primary doctor diagnosed me with depression, general anxiety, and OCD. Although this is something the therapist confirms, based on what we discussed it was clear that these were the things affecting my mental health the most. It wasn't anything that I hadn't already confirmed with myself multiple times (hello I have a VERY good reason to be depressed), but it was nice to finally have these disorders recognized by someone else. Now I'm going to talk a little more about how I came to the decision to seek out some help, because this journey is a difficult one! As a reminder, I am NOT a doctor, nor do I have any professional knowledge, just my own experience.

You've Lost Interest In Things You Love

This was a huge one for me. If you've been paying attention to my blogging schedule I typically post twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. This past year I've been taking multiple breaks off, and for the most part it was because I didn't care to be consistent. I kept telling myself that it was just me being lazy or that I didn't have anything good to write about. The truth was that I just was losing interest in it. Since I started blogging I've always been incredibly passionate about it. I used to spend hours a day preparing photos and posts days and even weeks in advance and would have a smile on my face because I loved what I was doing. I knew that I wanted to continue blogging, but there wasn't anything telling me that I should do it, even though I knew I still had a lot of passion for it. Obviously there was something wrong. If you're losing interest in the things you know you love to do (and not just because of a natural falling out of love with a hobby) it's probably a sign that something is happening.


Your Attitude Is Affecting How You Live Your Life

This is where my anxiety and OCD play out the most. When I had my car, I would avoid driving to certain places if I had to take too many freeways, because driving on them made me nervous. If someone wasn't giving me a ride or picking me up, or if I had never driven in the area before, I would decline whatever social interaction or event because it would be too much for me. The same would happen with social situations. If I wasn't going to know anyone there, I wouldn't go purely because I was scared no one was going to like me or I would spend the whole time on the sidelines. This would even happen with events that I was really interested in. On the other side, I have some OCD with food, which made going out to new restaurants with friends difficult unless they knew me well. I also avoided buying a lot of foods I actually enjoyed at the grocery story mainly because they would trigger my OCD when preparing them. This isn't just for anxiety or OCD though, it could be for a number of reasons. If you're feeling any number of things that changes how you would live your life (going to a social gathering, leaving your home for more than just meals, saying no to opportunities you would want to say yes to, feeling like you can't talk to others for any reason, etc.) then you may have a mental block of some sort.

You Have A Lot Of Stress, Sometimes For No Reason

Everyone has stress, because, well, life is stressful! It's normal to get stressed out, but it isn't normal when that stress becomes debilitating. Some people lash out, some people fall into bouts of sadness or frustration, and others bury themselves in even more stress. If you're feeling like you're carrying more than you can handle, it's a good idea to see someone about it. Even if it just means unloading the burden onto someone other than yourself. A reminder here is that everyone has different levels of stress. What one person can handle may not be the same as what you can handle. We all know that one person who has three jobs, goes to school, and also seems to have their life together, but that doesn't mean your one job is any less of a burden. It all depends on YOUR limit.

PIN IT FOR LATER!

You've Been Through Some Trauma Or A Major Event

Maybe you're like me and have suffered a loss. Any loss (even a pet!) is going to cause your brain to go a little crazy on the emotions, and along with the stress and other aspects of daily life, it can be a little overwhelming. Or you could have had any other sort of trauma (car accident, witness to a crime, broken bone, or something even more serious) which could take a toll on your mental health. If you start to notice a change in mood or behavior that seems abnormal or concerning (or even if you just want a safe space to discuss your thoughts and feelings) therapy might be a good place to start.

You're Disconnecting From Friends And Family

Everyone needs alone time, heck I need an exceptional amount of alone time and am happy to have it. I could probably go a week without seeing anyone and still be alright, but I still like to maintain some sort of connection even if it's through texting once a day. One sign that something isn't right is that you're losing connections you want to maintain. You might not notice it, but suddenly you're saying no to all social invitations, you want to spend most of your time by yourself, or you're constantly straining your relationships with fights or just a general feeling of unhappiness.


You're Having Physical Reactions To Your Emotions

During my doctor's visit I kept wondering why she was asking if I was having any stomach issues or headaches. As it turns out, these are some signs that your mental health is taking a toll on your physical health as well. Obviously you might just have headaches or stomach problems (again, happens to everyone occasionally!) but if you're noticing some other changes this might be another little symptom telling you that your mental health is something your should check out. A big one here as well is panic attacks. Luckily this isn't something I have dealt with, however panic attacks are very common, especially with forms of anxiety. One thing here though is to actually check that the physical issues aren't simply just physical!

You Feel Like You're In A Rut Or 'Stuck'

Do you constantly feel like no matter the effort you put into your daily life, your emotions, career, relationships, etc aren't moving forward or changing? For me I always felt like I could be doing more with my blog (but didn't have the motivation/push to change anything), and I was constantly stuck in a state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Even during my highs like getting new partnerships or making networking connections, it still "wasn't enough." For others it could be a recurring emotion, staying in a negative relationship, or just not moving forward at your job. It can seem that no matter your actions, you're stuck in this vicious and unmoving cycle. A therapist can be a great way to gain a new perspective on this cycle, your actions, and how to move forward from there.


Obviously there are so many more reasons out there where therapy might be a good option for you, but these are the ones sticking out in my mind. I know bloggers are supposed to be "goals" but it's good to remember that we're human too. Just because my social media shows the highlight reel doesn't mean that there isn't drama going on behind the scenes, and this is a place where I want to show you that you are not alone. When I started my blog I never wanted to be one of those bloggers who acted as if everything was great all the time, because that's not relatable at all! My blog is purposefully written so that others can relate, and I want to be open with you all because this is a very difficult topic. It's hard to tell someone you have these disorders, and it may be hard to reach out to someone if you don't think they will understand. This is an opportunity to be open with you, and if you ever feel like reaching out to me to talk I will completely lend my ear.

Is this something you would like to see me write more about? I would probably include some tips for dealing with these issues (mostly anxiety) and what it's actually like going to therapy. If I were to write more about this topic, I would definitely try to keep it as positive as possible. My blog is a source of happiness for me, and I don't want to dwell on the negatives of life (besides how to deal with them and provide ways to grow from these experiences). And if you've made it to the end of this post, THANK YOU for reading, and I hope even if it's just hearing my story that you got something good from what I've written.

19 comments:

  1. Hey boo! This post touched my heart for so many different reasons! I am so so glad you have this platform and community to be here for you! I love your blog and this post was a huge eye opener for me! I am so sorry for all of your losses, but I’m here for you girl! I’m so glad I ran into this post...just recently an old trauma resurfaced and I never worked through it...well I decided to take a leap of faith and go to counseling to work through it. I am so glad I did. And I am so glad you did as wel! You are the sweetest and I’m so grateful you wrote this post! Xoxo

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  2. I have seen a therapist in the past when I was suffering from depression and anxiety and it really helped me change my life. Getting help is so important! I know this post will be helpful to so many people.

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  3. Thanks for writing this post Sami. I've been looking into seeking help for a while now and I think this is going to be the post that finally encourages me to go for it. My social anxiety has been keeping me from going out and connecting with people and it's definitely taking a toll on my relationships and myself. Thank you so much for being real and sharing your story!

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  4. My heart goes out to you and I am so sorry for all the loss you've experienced in such a short amount of time. I had something similar happen in 2015/2016 when I lost three friends unexpectedly within a 9 month period and I also got divorced during that time, so I was beside myself. I commend you for seeking professional help because in my mind, every person can benefit from therapy! Thank you for bringing awareness to such an understated health issue! Being real and transparent is what helps others to be as courageous as you've been!

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  5. This is an incredible post! Thanks for being so vulnerable, self-care is so darn healthy!

    Xoxo, Ashley / https://thehoneyscoop.com/5-tv-shows-to-watch-with-your-roommate/

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  6. So brave of you to seek help when you need it! You've had quite a year, and I can imagine that has been so much to deal with. <3 I've seen a therapist at different points in life, most notably when I went through a legal situation a couple years ago, and again last year when I was suffering from situational depression at my old job. I was actually thinking of writing a blog post soon on what lead me to therapy in those situations! Hope this is a positive journey for you!


    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  7. What great tips, Sami! Mental health is so important so thanks for sharing your story!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com 

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  8. This is such an important post! I think this should be more spoken about!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

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  9. Thank you for being so candid and open about your mental health and the journey you've been on. I struggle with anxiety myself and have gone through different periods of my life where grief has manifested itself in various ways that I didn't even realize were happening until I went to group therapy. Sharing these experiences are so important!! I would love to see more posts on the topic.

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  10. Thank you for your bravery on such a heavy subject.
    Also, for the platform to openly discuss this.

    Xoxo

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  11. Oh girl thank you so much for sharing you mental health story. SO sorry you are going through this.

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  12. This is such an important post and I appreciate you for being so honest about your experience. My physical symptoms (headaches, fatigue, lack of an appetite) were actually the reason I finally spoke up about my anxiety and made a lot of progress in coping with it, but honestly, until I read this post I didn't realize that other people might be experiencing the same thing!

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  13. i appreciate you being so honest with your mental health story! thank you for sharing! I know this is something so hard to talk about and share! I personally LOVE and believe in therapy and have personally seen it do such wonders for people! I'm so glad you inspired with this post!
    - Becky // www.thetypicaltwentysomething.com

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  14. Oh my. I'm not even sure what to say. You certainly have had quite the year! It's great that you made the choice to get help, because people say that is often the hardest part. Hopefully things start looking up from here. You deserve to live a full and happy life, and whilst that may be more difficult with such disorders, it's not impossible, so don't give up!

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  15. Thank you so much for opening up about your struggles. I started seeing a therapist recently as well and even though I wasn't diagnosed with anything, I personally think that seeing a therapist or a mental health counselor should be something everyone does.
    You have had a rough year and it is so inspiring to see you coming out of it as gracefully as you have so far. Seeking help is a sign of bravery and initiative and I know you'll come out of this even stronger.

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

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  16. Thank you for this post! It's a terrible thing to go through, but I know you'll come out of it stronger than before!

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  17. Thank you for opening up to us in this post. I haven't needed to see a therapist yet, but I know they can do wonders for those suffering from different things.

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  18. Thank you for being so open with this, I'm so glad that you are able to take this step for yourself, you are so strong!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! I read and appreciate every one!

 
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