Addiction & Mental Illness

Hello friends!

To continue with the theme of Mental Health Awareness, I wanted to branch a little further and address addiction and substance abuse as well – as it is not uncommon for some to suffer from both, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders.

**Please remember, I am not a physician – just a gal sharing her experiences and providing resources**

It seems like over the past couple years, I have heard more about heroin overdoses than I ever have. It is scary, I have personally known friends who struggle with addiction and it greatly impacts their lives…their families and children. It saddens me greatly to hear about someone I know who cannot seem to stay in treatment despite what they have been blessed with or the support system around them. I am not sure if stigma has something to do with this, or what. My struggle with substances have never been that level of destruction, so if you have any insight on this and why it can be a struggle for the addict, I would love to hear your thoughts or stories!

“Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, and millions also suffer from substance use disorders. The illnesses can develop independently from one another, or one can cause the other.

Although people with anxiety disorders don’t always develop substance use disorders, or vice versa, research shows strong associations between the two. An estimated 18 percent of all people with substance use disorders have an anxiety disorder.”

– DrugRehab.com

In my own personal experience, the few addicts that I know, do have issues with coping and this is their release. The quick fix if you will, that we have all heard about over the years. We must help encourage change! If you or someone you know is struggling – try to make that first step in assisting them or yourself. There are many helpful resources out there both locally and beyond. For further information or help finding treatment near you, family or friends – please check out the below links:

 

Continue to be strong my friends, not only for you but your loved ones as well!! ❤

xoxo,

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Mental Health Awareness Month!

Hello friends & happy Wednesday! ❤

As most of you probably know, May is Mental Health Awareness month! YAY! This is super huge for me since I have been struggling for many years.

The last year and a half was a big slump for me in regards to recovery in adulthood. My fellow mental health warriors, you may experience this too – but it comes in waves. Some days/months/year(s) go by with little to no symptoms and other times it feels like a brick hit you in the face (or treats to a puppers face) and you feel ALL THE THINGS!

So, in honor of this beautiful month – I wanted to share a summary of my history with mental illness and what I am doing this year to honor it – since I am a bit stronger than last year!


The History: My “relationship” with mental illness probably started when I was in my later years of middle school. I do not remember the exact age anymore as it’s all a little blurry at this point in my life. I do recall the feeling of overwhelming sadness, numbness, anxiety and losing my will to live. Which, is scary thought to have that young.

I remember looking for ways to “feel” again. At that point, it had consumed me and had been for a while. I danced sharp objects along my skin, the burning, the color and feeling was the only feeling that came alive. Glowing red metal rods laid across my skin and pills by masses to try to get away from it all. I also remember driving and being tempted to just close my eyes.

My life, even in my younger years came with its complications. I had mentioned some of it in my “How the hell did I end up this way” post. There is always more to every story but I like to keep things going, I did and will hit all the highlights?? <– I need to find a better word here!

Depression is an evil bitch

Fast forward through the long dark days…There came a time when I snapped to and realized I had to get help. At the rate I was going, I think my story would have ended quickly. So, for whatever reason – inner strength took over my darkness for long enough to gain to courage to speak to my mother. Which…why I chose her to open up to at this moment, I will never know but I did. This was the woman who scrutinized my appearance regularly and informed me that I looked fat several times through out my life. You see, she has always been petite and we have been close in weight for as long as I can remember, so god forbid if I started to look like I as growing out of that mold.

Anyway, informing my mother that I no longer wanted to live and that I needed to go to the doctor was one of the hardest things that I had to do. She seemed to care and then handled it poorly afterward. I remember bits and pieces of going to my doctor, completing tests and having that hard discussion with her. I was put on antidepressants and agreed to counseling. I have never felt so lost and scared in my life.

Counseling was strange for me. I did not care for my therapist or her dated orange and brown decor through out her office. I think part of it was because my mother was in the room with me majority of the time, which she took over the conversations and reminded the woman that I was “fine.” She just did not get it.

She further proved that she did not get it by providing a less than supportive relationship. Which, is still true to this day. Versus actually talking to me, it was like I was living with a prison guard with strip searches to see make sure there were no fresh wounds. Which I can understand, but I feel there are better ways to go about it  – rather than throwing demands around and talking down to your child during these searches. She just looked at me as if she hated me, or perhaps she felt that she had failed on some level and it bothered it and came pouring out of her eyes. She already had a troubled child, so I don’t think she had room for me to struggle too… I suppose I can sympathize with that now?

Further more, my new medication made me feel nauseous – as many others you have taken these kind of meds, they can be rough until your body gets used to them. So now, since I could not eat without wanting to vomit, my mother viewed it as now an “eating disorder.” She would force me to clean my plate even if I told her if I ate one more bite, I will probably get sick. Which happened numerous times because when you have a level of anxiety – you already feel that way. Throw in some anti-depressants and you know what? You just don’t have the best appetite and that is okay, you are adjusting. When I did get sick, she would yell and say see – I told you. “I knew you were throwing up after eating!” No, actually I did not have an eating disorder at the time…but thanks Mom. That did happen, just in my adult years.

I managed to stick to my therapy and medication and I did start to feel better. More alive and a bit more happier.  It took some time and some dosage adjustments but I got to a point of no longer wanting to harm myself and wanting to be able to walk this fine earth as a young person should. I am not sure exactly how long it took as I am getting old these days 😉 but the important part was I made it. It was not easy, reflecting on this point in my life – I believe there were a lot of factors that played into this outside of genes (they were stacked against me too). I am also sure that it took a significant amount of time of general sadness to get to my breaking point as well.

Anxiety and insomnia still was an issue from time to time. It really kicked up again around 18 – probably with adulthood, college and who knows what else. Luckily my college therapist was helpful in providing techniques to help me cope with panic attacks. I started back on my meds and tried to really focus on self care at this time. To be honest though, I have been dealing with anxiety ever since…in those waves that I was speaking of :).

Self image became an issue in my early adult years. I have always been told that I was “small, tiny, petite, anorexic, bulimic, had nothing to worry about and weird/tomboy.” I still remember this time in class when a man asked me if I ever ate without throwing it back up…. thanks fella. Reallly nice.

However, it did become an issue eventually. I was in a bad relationship with someone who made me feel less than. To put it simply, he was physically and verbally abusive and beat my confidence and self worth down. It resulted in me weighing roughly 75-80 lbs in my adulthood. Granted even when I was younger…I believe now, I can call it social anxiety?? But I had a fear of eating in front of people. The cafeteria in school was my nemesis. All the kids. All the food. Perhaps there is some sort of eating disorder theory in there as well??? Lord who knows – I am a mess haha.

When I finally got out of that bad situation, which took time. Planning an exit from someone like this must be done carefully. He obviously did not handle it well and probably would have reacted poorly regardless. Unfortunately, he did end up stalking me, he would show up at the local mall where I would be shopping, or restaurants where I was having dinner with friends and even showed up at my house. Trying to get over that fear while trying to repair myself again – whew. This time, it also meant physically and mentally. Again, I over came and now happily weigh in with triple digits on the scale and have been steadily since 2012-2013ish. While body image is something that I still struggle with after my many surgeries, the important thing to remember is it is progress. I am better than what I was before and that is key.

Mid 2015 is when my anxiety took on a form that I had never encountered before. I had gone through several ups and downs in life regarding my mental health and outside of it but this was different. It was something that I literally could not handle. Feeling anxious and insomnia again was not a stranger to me. I live a life that tailors to these needs – most would probably deem boring but it is my life and I have accepted this.

This was the first time in my life that I would need to check in somewhere for observation. I. LOST. IT. Best part? My breaking point occurred at work. I had to get out immediately, after reaching out to my employee assistance program – I informed my boss in little words as possible that I had to go without worrying her….. but one more issue… I take the bus (which was very hard for me at first too btw)…so I had to step up and take an uber to my car. One, I don’t like not being in control of the vehicle that I am in. If I trust you to drive me – congrats! Second, I don’t do taxis or ubers….the amount of germs, smells and general feeling of out of control does not vibe with me.. third, it was a 35 dollar trip easily. However, it had to be done.

This is where the medical field failed me and I have heard similar stories and it is so heartbreaking to me. I did not feel in control, I could not breathe, I could not function, I literally did not know what happening but all I can say is, I did not feel myself. I was not me, I felt literally insane or that I had “snapped.” I attempted to get into our local psych center…for anything consult, treatment, or whatever. However, they were at capacity and since I was not “that bad” I had to find elsewhere. This was the story for the next 3 calls that I tried. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless, trying to find someone to care when you do not even know how you are going to get home or what may happen to you. I was finally able to get into a physician…. 2 weeks later. How was I able to get manage this? Sadly, this is so common and for some people that 2 week wait has cost their life – no joke. Fortunately, my psychotic break was more controllable? (somehow I managed this…I will never know how) versus severe depression/suicidal. Luckily my boss was understanding enough during this time, my then fiance was….I don’t even know but he was there (at the time). I was able to hang on until my appointment where we had a full work up, got a referral in for a specialist, adjusted my medication and added in more…it was overwhelming but I hung in there the best that I could. I began intense therapy, maintained my strict medication regiment, tried my hand at self care and then my now ex (Fuckboy), abandoned me in December 2015. I guess I should be thankful that I was already medicated at that point. Perhaps he could not face being married to someone with severe anxiety, who knows. The key was, I was trying to take care of myself while planning a wedding with little help. Honestly, I thought I was doing well. I had the “supportive” partner who had been my best friend for years and we had helped another through it all – before and after we were together. Life was on the up and up….until he decided otherwise. Since I was medicated, when he left I always asked people (friends, family & associates) if they saw it coming. The answer was always no – whew so I was NOT crazy :). We even had Friendsgiving where Fuckboy stated he was thankful for me and put on this great speech where he pulled a fast one and even pulled it by my good friend Sunshine- who does not miss a damn thing! Anyway, after I had to handle that mess – I took some serious time off. I had to, granted I am still struggling to this day with building PTO…. it was worth it.

My anxiety/episode recovery has been hard since I did not see that life changing event coming during it. Learning to trust people again, regaining my self worth and learning to live independently has been really fucking hard. However, I have kept up with therapy. I know that leaving someone without reason, leaving all their shit  behind for you to handle, not telling their own family what they did and not forwarding their mail is THEIR problem and not mine. Abandonment is never okay and that is something that I have had to accept and the fact that I will never really know the reason why this happened.

My medication has increased over the past year, I still struggle with insomnia and anxiety but I am stronger than I was a year ago – mentally and physically. I am able to stand on both feet and take on the world the best that I can. Some days are still hard… There are times that I cannot get out of bed for several days, at times my anxiety is so bad that I cannot leave the house and it does impact my day-to-day.

Most do not realize all that is going on behind the scenes in recovery and that is fine – because this is my journey and if they don’t notice – I must be keeping it together…..(right!?) hahaha. I am happy to report that I got through that very dark period aka – all of 2016 without thoughts of suicide and while I have lost some weight, I am still healthy. This has been my healthiest recovery to date and I am quite proud.

I may still be a mess but hey – I have a good heart dammit and worthy of love! Now let’s transition into what I am doing this year since I feel stable, happy and productive during Mental Health Awareness month!

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Present day! May 2017: Since I am someone who has clearly struggled with some shit – it has become my mission to give back to the mental health community in anyway that I can. I have done this by sharing my story with friends, family, here, through sites, beating down the stigma in anyway that I can, looking to become an advocate for local mental health chapters, donations, spreading the word, educating others, remembering to be kind – you never know what people may be fighting inside and by participating and supporting Kenzie Brenna during her self-love boot camp on Instagram- which encourages others with mental health disorders to share their stories through social media (there is a focus on body image but it is helpful for everyone), ensuring others that they are not alone!

You can learn more on the link provided or check her out on Instagram, along with her supporters @omgkenzieee and searching #selflovebootcamp. There is a new topic each day and so many people are opening themselves up to vulnerability – it is beautiful. I am going to push myself to participate every day, but some topics are harder than others as you can see in the calendar below. However, if this will help push me to become a more whole person – why not? Although, I do struggle with vulnerability…my therapist can attest to this :).

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FINALLY! If you made it through that entire post – you get a cookie! I know it was long so thank you for listening to my story, ignoring any typos that came out during the flow! Yoda best!

I want to ask all of you to do something for Mental Health Awareness this month too! It is so important to keep bringing awareness! Sometimes individuals cannot make that 2 week waiting period to see a physician – we need to do something about this! So my friends/warriors, wear some green this month or ribbon! Participate in a challenge or walk, start a conversation, be there for a friend, spread some facts on social media, advocate and help influence positive policy reform, volunteer, share YOUR story if you have one and remember to take care of yourself and others!

Love you all xoxo,

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Follow me! IG: @DiaryoftheMadKatter  P: DiaryMadKatter

INFJ Personality 🤔

Hello friends 👋🏻

As a complex human and since I work in human resources, I’m always looking to learn more about myself, how I work and how others work as well. 

Everyday we deal with personalities. Whether it’s our own, coworkers, friends, enemies or just a stranger that you chat with at the coffee shop. With all the daily interactions, I think it’s safe to say that we have had good and bad experiences. For example, you’re assigned a project with a couple of your coworkers and we all see the differences first hand. You can have the overbearing, the shy and the lazy all in one group if you’re lucky and WOW it can be stressful! 

Let’s be honest, some personalities just clash. 

Additionally, in my work, we find it helpful for managers to take a personality test so they can be more aware of their traits and how they can effectively communicate and lead their subordinates. 
Since I am a curious gal, I took a personality test myself at 16Personalities.com 

I took it several times…just in case but after many trials, I am clearly an INFJ. I took a little slippet from the site and pasted it below. I think over all, I agree! 

If you are curious of wtf an INFJ is… Please read below! Or if you are more eager to know more about you, head on over to http://www.16personalities.com and see what you are! I would love to hear if you agree with your results, comments or personality  humor!

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ADVOCATE PERSONALITY (INFJ, -A/-T)

The Advocate personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population, but they nonetheless leave their mark on the world. As members of the Diplomat Role group, Advocates have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets them apart is that they are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.
Advocates tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.

*HELP ME HELP YOU: Advocates indeed share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. They are decisive and strong-willed, but will rarely use that energy for personal gain – Advocates will act with creativity, imagination, conviction and sensitivity not to create advantage, but to create balance. Egalitarianism and karma are very attractive ideas to Advocates, and they tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften the hearts of tyrants.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Advocates find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that Advocates need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw. Advocates take great care of other’s feelings, and they expect the favor to be returned – sometimes that means giving them the space they need for a few days.

*LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY: Really though, it is most important for Advocates to remember to take care of themselves. The passion of their convictions is perfectly capable of carrying them past their breaking point and if their zeal gets out of hand, they can find themselves exhausted, unhealthy and stressed. This becomes especially apparent when Advocates find themselves up against conflict and criticism – their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.

To Advocates, the world is a place full of inequity – but it doesn’t have to be. No other personality type is better suited to create a movement to right a wrong, no matter how big or small. Advocates just need to remember that while they’re busy taking care of the world, they need to take care of themselves, too.

*ADVOCATE STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES:

Advocate Strengths

    1. Creative – Combining a vivid imagination with a strong sense of compassion, Advocates use their creativity to resolve not technical challenges, but human ones. People with the Advocate personality type enjoy finding the perfect solution for someone they care about, and this strength makes them excellent counselors and advisors.
    2. Insightful – Seeing through dishonesty and disingenuous motives, Advocates step past manipulation and sales tactics and into a more honest discussion. Advocates see how people and events are connected, and are able to use that insight to get to the heart of the matter.
    3. Inspiring and Convincing – Speaking in human terms, not technical, Advocates have a fluid, inspirational writing style that appeals to the inner idealist in their audience. Advocates can even be astonishingly good orators, speaking with warmth and passion, if they are proud of what they are speaking for.
    4. Decisive – Their creativity, insight and inspiration are able to have a real impact on the world, as Advocates are able to follow through on their ideas with conviction, willpower, and the planning necessary to see complex projects through to the end. Advocates don’t just see the way things ought to be, they act on those insights.
    5. Determined and Passionate – When Advocates come to believe that something is important, they pursue that goal with a conviction and energy that can catch even their friends and loved ones off guard. Advocates will rock the boat if they have to, something not everyone likes to see, but their passion for their chosen cause is an inseparable part of their personality.
    6. Altruistic – These strengths are used for good. Advocates have strong beliefs and take the actions that they do not because they are trying to advance themselves, but because they are trying to advance an idea that they truly believe will make the world a better place.

    Advocate Weaknesses

    1. Sensitive – When someone challenges or criticizes Advocates’ principles or values, they are likely to receive an alarmingly strong response. People with the Advocate personality type are highly vulnerable to criticism and conflict, and questioning their motives is the quickest way to their bad side.
    2. Extremely Private – Advocates tend to present themselves as the culmination of an idea. This is partly because they believe in this idea, but also because Advocates are extremely private when it comes to their personal lives, using this image to keep themselves from having to truly open up, even to close friends. Trusting a new friend can be even more challenging for Advocates.
    3. Perfectionistic – Advocates are all but defined by their pursuit of ideals. While this is a wonderful quality in many ways, an ideal situation is not always possible – in politics, in business, in romance – and Advocates too often drop or ignore healthy and productive situations and relationships, always believing there might be a better option down the road.
    4. Always Need to Have a Cause – Advocates get so caught up in the passion of their pursuits that any of the cumbersome administrative or maintenance work that comes between them and the ideal they see on the horizon is deeply unwelcome. Advocates like to know that they are taking concrete steps towards their goals, and if routine tasks feel like they are getting in the way, or worse yet, there is no goal at all, they will feel restless and disappointed.
    5. Can Burn Out Easily – Their passion, poor patience for routine maintenance, tendency to present themselves as an ideal, and extreme privacy tend to leave Advocates with few options for letting off steam. People with this personality type are likely to exhaust themselves in short order if they don’t find a way to balance their ideals with the realities of day-to-day living.

        *ADVOCATE RELATIONSHIPS: When it comes to romantic relationships, Advocates take the process of finding a partner seriously. Not ones for casual encounters, people with the Advocate personality type instead look for depth and meaning in their relationships. Advocates will take the time necessary to find someone they truly connect with – once they’ve found that someone, their relationships will reach a level of depth and sincerity that most people can only dream of. Advocate romantic relationships.Getting to that point can sometimes be a challenge for potential partners, especially if they are the impatient type, as Advocates are often perfectionistic and picky. People with this personality type aren’t easily talked into something they don’t want, and if someone doesn’t pick up on that, it’s a trespass that is unlikely to be forgiven, particularly in the early stages of dating. Even worse is if a suitor tries to resort to manipulation or lying, as Advocates will see right through it, and if there’s anything they have a poor tolerance for in a relationship, it is inauthenticity.

        *IS THIS FOR REAL: One of the things Advocates find most important is establishing genuine, deep connections with the people they care about.

        Advocates will go out of their way to seek out people who share their desire for authenticity, and out of their way to avoid those who don’t, especially when looking for a partner. All that being said, Advocates often have the advantage of desirability – they are warm, friendly, caring and insightful, seeing past facades and the obvious to understand others’ thoughts and emotions.

        Advocates are enthusiastic in their relationships, and there is a sense of wisdom behind their spontaneity, allowing them to pleasantly surprise their partners again and again. Advocates aren’t afraid to show their love, and they feel it unconditionally, creating a depth to the relationship that can hardly be described in conventional terms. Relationships with Advocates are not for the uncommitted or the shallow.

        When it comes to intimacy, Advocates look for a connection that goes beyond the physical, embracing the emotional and even spiritual connection they have with their partner. People with the Advocate personality type are passionate partners, and see intimacy as a way to express their love and to make their partners happy. Advocates cherish not just the act of being in a relationship, but what it means to become one with another person, in mind, body and soul.

        *Feature photo from personality-central.com*