Blog for Mental Health 2013

I was so excited to learn about the Blog for Mental Health 2013 Project on A Canvas of the Minds! It is an effort to raise awareness about what it is like to live with mental illness, from the perspectives of people with mental illness. It is also an effort to end suffering in silence, bringing people with mental illness together in a community of dialogue and support.

In other words, it’s pretty much exactly what I want my blog, a day with depression, to be: sharing my experiences, both for my own healing and to help others – whether through educating them about mental illness, or by letting them know they are not alone. By sharing our experiences and insights, perhaps we can help each other heal – or at least cope. Perhaps we can create a world that works with people who have mental illness to help us live fully in society.

blogformentalhealth20131And so I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

I chose to take the pledge after reading about it on Disorderly Chickadee.

My Mental Health Biography

I remember a childhood that included having anger management issues, feeling like I couldn’t express my emotions safely and effectively, and feeling isolated from my peers. I often daydreamed as a coping mechanism; later I would have difficulty paying attention even when I wanted to. My father physically abused me at least once; I have carried the guilt, shame, and fear of others’ anger with me, believing he was justified in how he treated me until very recently. His fight with lung cancer and death 15 years ago left me devastated.

I received psychotherapy / talk therapy a couple of times as an adolescent. I don’t remember it being very effective. I focused primarily on my schoolwork and had some friends and extracurricular activities; I was functional but often felt grumpy, out of place, and misunderstood. Around the same time, my mother started depending on me to fill her emotional needs, often at the expense of my own.

My freshman year of college had its ups and downs, but mostly I remember it as a good time in my life. When I returned for my sophomore year, I felt like something was wrong. I felt sad, isolated, like I wasn’t ready to be back. Spring 2005 was the first time I was diagnosed with depression; that fall was the first time I took medication for it (Wellbutrin). The medication seemed to help; I decided to stop taking it and terminate therapy the following spring. Despite the depression, I tend to think of my college years as the best time of my life.

I graduated magna cum laude and worked for almost 2 years before matriculating as a graduate student. At work, supervisors noticed that I had low energy. I felt tired, sad, and frustrated much of the time (at least partially because of work, but I believe there were mental health issues as well). I felt another depressive episode coming on in early Spring 2010 – my second semester of graduate school – and though it has waxed and waned, it has never fully lifted.

I began receiving music therapy as a client in Fall 2010. My work has focused mostly on self-esteem, assertiveness, expressing emotions (especially anger), and overcoming anxiety. The first psychiatrist I saw in late July 2012 diagnosed me with dysthymia and prescribed Wellbutrin; my current psychiatrist (whom I’ve been seeing since mid-December) diagnosed me with a major depressive episode and prescribed Zoloft. The Zoloft, continuing music therapy, and writing in this blog seem to be helping.

Take the Pledge!

Participating bloggers are encouraged to pledge 5 other people to the project. I’m not sure whom to pledge, so consider this an open invitation.

Visit the Blog for Mental Health 2013 post on A Canvas of the Minds for instructions on how to pledge, including how to be included in their official blogroll.

If you decide to take the pledge, please comment with a link to your “Blog for Mental Health 2013” post and I’ll gladly feature it here. If you do so, please consider using this post as your link to the person who pledged you.