July 25, 2019

Mental Health

I started having symptoms of depression when I was very young--probably even younger than eight years old. As I got older, the symptoms were more severe. At around age 16, I recognized the symptoms as depression, although I didn't seek help from my doctor until age 18. I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

I started antidepressants at age 20, but they never really helped much. I would go through "good bouts" and "bad bouts", and I always thought that was typical of depression. Depression has very real physical symptoms, and they really took a toll on me. In 2016 and early 2017, I was so depressed that I was having thoughts of suicide. Rationally, I knew that wouldn't help anything; but I honestly thought my family would be better/happier without me.

That is when I finally got in to see a psychiatrist (I had been on a waiting list for about eight months!). The psychiatrist diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, and after reading about it, I saw just how obvious it was. And that's the reason that the antidepressants never worked for me. The doctor prescribed mood stabilizers, and ever since I made the switch, I have been a completely different person. I feel truly happy!

There is such a stigma around mental illness, and I hope to help break that by sharing my own experiences with it. There are so many people out there who don't understand it or who have it and are afraid to talk about it. It's for that reason that I haven't shared much in-depth on my blog; I downplayed how bad it was, because I was ashamed. I felt guilty for being depressed when I have such a great life! (In reality, depression is not something you can control; if it was, I would have controlled it a long time ago.)

Anyway, here are some posts that deal with depression and/or bipolar disorder. The ones with asterisks* are the deeper, more personal posts.

The Lump in My Throat (Sep 2011) - An uncomfortable physical symptom of anxiety.

*A Little of My History (Aug 2012) - The times I started recognizing depression, and the role it played through my teens and 20's.

Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise (Aug 2012) - My favorite comfort meal when I'm feeling sad. Here is the story behind it.

On The Right Track (Jun 2013) - I wrote about depression, but looking back on it, it explains the bipolar disorder signs pretty well.

A Short Break (May 2014) - Going through a rough spell with depression, and not wanting to write on my blog.

Hopeless (Aug 2014) - Robin Williams' death by suicide shocked me.

Confessional (Dec 2014) - After my friend Mark died, and I had spent the last five months doing what I could to make him feel loved before he passed, I got into a bad funk. It last about half of 2014, and quite a bit into 2015. Again, I tried to downplay it on my blog.

Struggles (Apr 2015) - Have a very tough time while injured and unable to run.

September Recap (Sep 2015) - Another "hindset is 20/20" post about bipolar symptoms.

Week 22 Weigh-in (Jan 2016) - A little about my anxiety.

Maintenance Struggles (Jun 2016) - Watching my weight climb as my depression gets worse.

*Getting Real with Depression (Jul 2016) - Explaining that I have good bouts and bad bouts of depression, and I'm waiting it out (in retrospect, I was waiting for a manic episode).

Getting a New Therapist (Jul 2016) - I was not meshing well with my previous therapist, so I found a new one--and I love her!

Future Running Plans (Aug 2016) - The calm before the storm; just when I think I'm getting better, the worst depression of my life hits.

*A Candid Post About Depression (Jan 2017) - In this post, when I was in a very dark place, I wrote an explanation about depression for people who may not understand it; and also about how depression can affect our weight loss efforts as well.

California Therapy (Feb 2017) - When I finally hit rock bottom, I did something drastic--I hopped on a plane to San Diego in the hope that the nice weather would help my depression.

Questioning my Identity as a Runner (Feb 2017) - Frustration with my insurance company and finally getting a new medication. Still on the waiting list for a psychiatrist.

Maybe New Weight Goals? (Mar 2017) - Questioning whether my new medication is causing me to feel horrible when I run.

Finally--A Psych Appointment (Apr 2017) - Finally got in to see a psychiatrist! I received the bipolar diagnosis, but I didn't share it yet. I was reeling after the appointment; just in total shock.

A Long Walk (Apr 2017) - Starting to feel better with the mood stabilizer; and a funny podcast about depression.

Mood Journaling (Apr 2017) - Doing well with the new meds; keeping track of my moods with an app on my phone.

My Watch, Wednesday Weigh In, and Alcohol (Apr 2017) - Feeling super energetic and "normal".

*A "Crazy" New Chapter (May 2017) - The post where I finally reveal that I have bipolar disorder, and not major depression as I'd thought.

*Saying "Yes" (May 2017) - Instead of turning down plans due to anxiety or depression, I decided to start saying "yes".

Candidly Katie (May 2017) - The aftermath of telling everyone about the bipolar diagnosis.

*What to Expect at a First Psych Appointment (May 2018) - Several people told me they wanted to go to a psychiatrist but were afraid to, so I wrote this post about what to expect.

*Ten Months of Depression (Sep 2017) - The worst depressive episode I've experienced, and the turning point.

*The Pursuit of Happiness (Sep 2017) - A breakthrough in therapy that changed my life.

*How My Bipolar Diagnosis Affected My Marriage (Sep 2017) - A candid conversation with my husband led to some big changes for us.

The Most Important Tool I Learned in Psychotherapy (Sep 2017) - At my first session, I learned a technique of communication that works wonders on my friendships/relationships.

*Freeing Myself of the Anxiety from Social Media (Oct 2017) - Finally talking about the topic that caused me horrible anxiety for the last several years.

The 7 (Very Effective) Life Changes I've Made in Pursuit of Happiness (Nov 2017) - The things I've done this year that have had a big impact on my mood.

The Top 5 Ways I Relieve My Anxiety (Mar 2018) - Things that work (and don't work) to calm my generalized anxiety disorder.

*The Big Fat Mess That Is My Life Right Now (Apr 2018) - Feeling like everything is out of control from my blogging to my weight to my self image.

Mentally Healthy Habits (May 2018) - Healthy habits versus the unhealthy habits for dealing with anxiety and depression.

A Very Personal Post I've Been Questioning Writing for 10 months (Sep 2018) - Coming to terms with my husband developing signs of depression when he'd never felt depressed in his life.

Bipolar Decision Making (Jan 2019) - How my bipolar disorder affects my ability to make decisions.

What My Anxiety Feels Like (Feb 2019) - And how it affects me (physically AND mentally).

Children With Anxiety and How Parents Can Help (Mar 2019) - Some advice, based on my own experience, on how to handle anxiety in children.

100 Funny Memes About Mental Illness (Jun 2019) - While mental illness isn't funny, looking at it with humor makes it easier to cope. These are my favorite memes about mental illness!

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