Am I Going to Be on Meds Forever?

pills on counter

After being medicated for 12 years, it feels like my pill bottles have become an extension of my own body. Pill popping has turned into an art that comes as naturally as breathing. At this point in my life, coming off of my meds isn’t something I can see happening anytime soon, or anytime at all, for that matter. As my 24th birthday rolled around, and I realized I’d been medicated for exactly half of my life so far, I couldn’t help but wonder — am I going to be on meds forever?

In middle school, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and started seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed me an SSRI to take daily and a benzodiazepine to take as needed — which ended up being almost daily. The doctor didn’t tell me how long I’d be taking these prescriptions, but I also never asked because it wasn’t something that crossed my little mind. All I wanted was to stop feeling so horrible. Not to mention, growing up and becoming an adult was unfathomable to me. With anxiety and impending doom clouding my mind, I could barely picture getting through the day in front of me. Continue reading Am I Going to Be on Meds Forever?

Women Share Slut Shaming Stories — and Admit Why They Do it Themselves

still not asking for it poster woman at rally

In an era when it seems we’re celebrating feminism more than ever, and sharing stories in solidarity of abuse and assault, why are people still tearing women down over their sexuality? Both in person and online, slut shaming is way too common an occurrence — and oftentimes, the perpetrator is a fellow female! It’s so common that the term is in the Oxford Dictionaries, defined as: “The action or fact of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behaviour judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative.”

I took to a secret women-only Facebook group to get some input. Only minutes after asking “Does anyone want to share stories about being slut shamed?” responses were pouring in. Even in just this 200 person group, it seemed a majority had stories to share, ranging from accounts happening only days before to experiences going back years. Continue reading Women Share Slut Shaming Stories — and Admit Why They Do it Themselves

5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

woman in red sweater looking at small square mirror

Imagine what life would be like if we stood in front of the mirror and focused on what we love about ourselves instead of what we wish we could change?

It seems instead that a majority of us veer toward thinking negatively, giving attention to our so-called flaws. We are bombarded with images of beautiful celebrities and models on television, in magazines, and on billboards. Even our own cell phones — Instagram, I’m looking at you — can be culprits, inundating us with photographs of people who have likely slapped on a filter and Facetuned themselves to “perfection.” What’s the result? A never ending supply of edited images and a load of viewers feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in their own skin.

All of this leads to unrealistic expectations of what we should look like, dress like, and act like. As technology advances and we’re more connected than ever, it seems that self esteem — especially of millennials — declines. Recent studies show a definite link between social media usage and low self esteem. It’s way too easy to fall down a rabbit hole on Facebook or Instagram. You can be on your feed and next thing you know you’re on your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s best friend’s page wishing you had abs as great as hers. Continue reading 5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health

The Stigma of Depression

woman fading away in pieces illustration

The stigma of depression is alive.

When we have depression, we are “lesser people.” We are incapable of living a “normal” life, holding down a job, or keeping a relationship. We are the ones that “normal” people don’t know how to deal with. They keep away, because we are contagious. They don’t want to contract the “crazy.”

At least, this is what many people think. None of it is true, of course. This is the stigma that follows us around daily when we suffer from depression — like a mosquito we keep swatting away that keeps coming back to bite us.

On whom can we place the blame for the creation and longevity of the stigma? Our friends and family who don’t fully understand depression? The media? Society as a whole? Continue reading The Stigma of Depression

Traveling With Anxiety

woman traveling on train blurred view

Mental illnesses like anxiety disorders often hold us back from living life to its full potential. For many people, traveling is a dream. Who doesn’t want to see the world, explore new arts and cultures, and try native foods?

Anxiety is a naggy voice in our heads that loves to tell us what we can’t do. It creates scenarios in our mind, generating “what-ifs” that make us scared to live our daily lives, let alone venture out of our comfort zone.

Once your own voice overpowers the nagging, anxious one and you decide to take the plunge and travel, well, it’s expected that a little anxiety will kick in. Even people without anxiety often feel anxious when they’ve got a flight approaching.

As a very anxious person who just returned from a month-long Euro-trip, I have a lot of knowledge to share that can help, no matter where you’re traveling to, or for how long. Never in a million years did I think that I could travel successfully without having a nervous breakdown. These tips will help calm your nerves weeks before departure through the day you land back home. Continue reading Traveling With Anxiety

How To Get Over A Breakup

woman crying in bed arms folded smartphone

Breakups suck, whether you’re the one who’s dumped or the one doing the dumping. When overcome with such intense emotions, it can be difficult to keep your mental health in check and figure out how to get over a breakup. Already plagued with depression, breakups are particularly difficult for me, often leaving me bedridden and writing bad poetry.

My first serious boyfriend made my biggest fear come true when he broke up with me because he could no longer handle my mood swings and depressive episodes that were “bringing him down.” I thought he was the man I’d marry…and then that was shattered. My next boyfriend broke up with me for strange reasons I can’t begin to get into, and then drove across the country to move to California. This split left me unable to be awake for more than a couple hours at once, let alone eat.

I’ve experienced some pretty serious heartbreak that really messed with my mental health, but I at least learned how to get over a breakup. Here are my pointers to stay well during a turbulent time. Continue reading How To Get Over A Breakup

The College Student’s Guide to Mental Health (What I Wish I Knew)

female college student stressed grabbing hair holding binder

Society and pop culture portray college as a wild time loaded with sleepless nights and packed with parties, but I’ll tell you the truth. College is filled with a different type of sleepless nights when you’re suffering from mental illness — nights filled with long anxiety attacks and horrible thoughts and mornings filled with dread of attending class for fear of having an anxiety attack in the classroom.

There are things I know now that I wish I knew then, but the good news is, now I can share my tips with all of you. If you’re feeling hopeless about getting through college alive, here’s a guide for you. Continue reading The College Student’s Guide to Mental Health (What I Wish I Knew)

Why Mental Health Conditions Shouldn’t Be Pejorative

people pointing fingers at sad woman with back turned

My then-boyfriend and I were at a hole in the wall pizzeria that served the greasiest pizza in town. We were with some other guy that he knew, whom I’d just met that night. Somehow, conversation turned to a discussion about mental illness, so I opened up about my depression and how it was resistant to most medications.

This guy looked back and forth between me and my boyfriend, an expression of confusion in his eyes. “How do you deal with her? She’s crazy.”

Never in my life had I been overcome with such an overwhelming urge to punch someone. I excused myself from the table, pretending I was receiving a call. I ran down the block into an alley and called one of my best friends and then it all came pouring out — the sobs and garbled words barely audible between gasps of hyperventilated breath. Continue reading Why Mental Health Conditions Shouldn’t Be Pejorative

Confession: Sometimes I Use Mental Illness as an Excuse for Flakiness

woman in bed holding head phone on desk

This story is a part of our Mental Health Confessions series, a collection of stories from people who open up about times they felt guilty or conflicted about their mental health issue.

I’m pretty tolerant of most types of people, but I absolutely hate flakes. I have cut off friendships because I can’t deal with others’ flakiness, especially when it comes down to repeated incidents of bailing on plans at the last minute.

However, some might say I’m a hypocrite. Why? My mental illness, at times, causes me to become the very type of person I hate.

Friendship is a two-way street. We expect our friends to put in the same amount of time and emotional labor into maintaining a relationship as we do ourselves. Of course, we know this isn’t always the case, and I’ll be the first to admit it: with some of my friends, I feel like I am giving less than I’m getting. I’ve flaked on even the best of my best friends, and I fear one day they’ll decide to cut me loose because of it. Continue reading Confession: Sometimes I Use Mental Illness as an Excuse for Flakiness

A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace

millennials meeting open office

I was 21 the first time I had a nervous breakdown at work. It was my first job out of college, working retail at a flagship shoe store in Manhattan. One task was to stand in the doorway, smile, and greet customers. Sounds easy enough, right? Usually it was, but other times, when I was going through depressive phases or masking an anxiety attack, forcing a smile felt like having teeth pulled.

I’d stand fidgeting with my name tag, quietly saying hello to customers, giving my best close-lipped smile, trying my best to look charming without breaking down. A new manager-in-training approached me, and I knew some criticism was coming. They rarely approached employees to say, “Good work.” I was right. He told me to speak louder and smile.

Tears started welling and I speed-walked downstairs to the bathroom. Slumping down to the floor, I sobbed. I cried so hard I thought I was going to vomit. Faking happiness for eight hours a day was nearly impossible, and I didn’t have the energy to pretend I was OK for a second longer. Once I’d gotten rid of most most of the tears, I went back upstairs and asked an older manager if we could talk in his office. Continue reading A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace