Knowing Yourself

Hey :).

So a life update I have is that I got a part time job. I actually think it’s really helping me.

So basically before I got the job, most of my day consisted of procrastinating homework by either watching Netflix or napping. Now I find myself having to time manage otherwise I’d fall really far behind. I’ve been wanting a part time job for a while now but along with the pandemic I just never had enough motivation to go out and find one. I was also terrified that if I had another low point where I’d not move for 2 weeks then I’d upset a lot of people (aka my boss) if I had a job.

I’m a place now where I’m comfortable enough to let my boss know if I do need a mental health day. Besides that I feel like I’m currently in a good place right now. A place where I can start getting my drive and motivation to start doing the things I used to.

Obviously there’s a few things to keep in mind. So when I first started down my mental health journey of getting better, I thought that after a couple weeks of meds and starting therapy that everything would be fine. I took a full course load and didn’t change anything else in my life.

This was a huge mistake. I learned the hard way that you need to gradually build back your mental health. It’s okay to take time, it’s hard work. For me, I didn’t originally want to take a lighter course load because I felt incompetent next to my peers. However I now take a reduced load of 3/4 courses a semester whereas the regular load is 5. Although it doesn’t sound like much, for me it’s a huge difference and gives me the time I need during the school year to relax and provides the opportunity for me not to become overwhelmingly stressed.

Anyways, so when I first went to school after I started meds, I took 5 courses and during the term ended up dropping to just 1. The semester after I only took 2 courses. And now I take 3/4 depending on what’s offered. Yes I do need to take an extra year but honestly for me it’s worth it. This is my one life. So I have to take an extra year. To me that’s a much better option than not being able to function for days one end, having a permanent feeling of tightness in my chest and breaking down crying almost every night.

Just because something takes you longer than other people and may not be the normal way of doing things, does not mean it’s wrong. People function and learn in different ways and if having depression has taught me anything, it’s that you need to figure out what is best for you.

I’m well aware that a lot of people affected by depression think very self deprecating things and don’t want to reach out for help and often can’t think of ways to help themselves. It’s a vicious cycle but with support from others, it’s much easier to break. For me, the support of my parents was a huge deal. They assured me multiple times they were fine with me taking a lightness course load and are the ones who pushed me to consider it in the first place. They made me think about my health (that being my mental health) before anything else even though education is very important for them.

This was pretty impactful to me and definitely changed my way of thinking. I always think about how I can make my life a little less stressful. I think of ways I can healthily cope and now reach out when I feel like I can’t on my own. It’s taken a long time and although sometimes I still shut down, I can see I’ve come a long way.

Anyways, I just wanted to say that I hope you all put yourselves first. I know you may feel selfish or just don’t want to but start with little things. Think about how something will make you feel. When planning your day try to include time for yourself or time to de stress. We can never get the days that go by, back. Start thinking of yourself and how you can change your routine to add a little stress relief/relaxation to your day/week/life.

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie

Random 3am Thoughts

Hi :)!

So it’s been almost three weeks since my last post. In that time I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and opening up to those close to me.

First off I’d like to share that I finally got my SSRI dosage lowered! Although I’m pretty far from going off them completely, this little milestone meant a lot to me. It reminded me of how much I’ve grown and overcome.

Secondly, I’ve started telling a few of my close friends about my blog. I swear I sweated (is that a word??) about 10 buckets just typing up the text for them to come check it out but in the end they were more supportive than I could’ve hoped for.

I know that for me especially, one really debilitating thing I do is over analyze and worry about everything. Even when everything points to the exact opposite of what I worry about. Because of that I need a lot of reassurance. Sometimes I wonder why my friends and loved ones aren’t tired of me yet but mostly I’m grateful that they understand or at least try to understand what I going through and feeling.

I’m currently sitting in the dark at about 3am writing up this post. I’m not really sure what I want to talk about but I would love to hear people’s opinions and experiences about whatever I think of saying.

What are your coping mechanisms? I like hearing about what others do because sometimes it gives me ideas of new things to try for myself. For example, my friend told me about crocheting and now it’s something I do everyday as a way to relax and get my mind off things and I absolutely love it.

Is anyone else on meds or thinking about it? To be honest, from talking to a few people I know who are going to therapy and dealing with their own mental health issues, I’m the only one I know taking meds. Sometimes I hate that I am because it feels like I’m somehow weaker than everyone I know who can just deal with it through therapy. I feel weak and worthless because I need therapy and meds to help me cope.

Logically I know that my type of depression stems from my brain not producing enough serotonin on its own and therefore I do needs meds. But unfortunately, as much as I know and love logic, sometimes my brain just refuses to acknowledge it.

I realize that this has been a really random culmination of thoughts. I couldn’t sleep and realized I hadn’t written in a while so I thought I would.

I’d just like to end by saying thank you. To whoever actually reads this. To the couple of you who emailed me asking for advice. I was never one who shared my deepest feelings. Everything I shared with others was surface level for the most part, even with my closest friends and family. So by doing this and seeing it actually help some people makes the anxiety and fear of writing all my deepest darkest thoughts down bearable.

Yuck I sound like a hallmark movie lol. But it is true so thank you. Anyways. I think that’s enough random babbles from me tonight.

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie

Coping Mechanisms

Hey :).

So oops I have not written in a while. I’ve started two new posts but I just don’t know how to end them. So I’m writing a quick one now while I sit in the tub haha.

Anyways over the past week I’ve been pretty stressed with school so I thought I would write about some coping mechanisms again. And what’s good and bad about each of them.

To start, my biggest coping mechanism during school is still sleeping. If I get too overwhelmed or stressed I’ll take a nap to try and forget stuff for a while. When I wake up I usually feel so so or about the same as when I went to sleep. It’s definitely not a very helpful coping mechanism in my opinion but sometimes when I really need to shut the world out it’s what I go to. However, I can happily say that I have been turning to this less and less.

Another coping mechanism is either Netflix or baking or sometimes knitting. All of these get my mind off of my school work while also making me feel a little better because I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my day away doing nothing (although we can definitely argue Netflix might be wasting time haha). I prefer trying to do another activity than immediately nap because it makes me feel better and puts me in a headspace to try and tackle my problems again.

One thing I have found myself doing again that is definitely not healthy is stop eating. I’ve noticed when I become stressed I eat a lot. However when I become overwhelmed I stop eating altogether. It’s not on purpose but my body just doesn’t feel hungry and I forget to eat. Today, I only realized I didn’t eat anything at 4:00pm and even then I still wasn’t hungry. However, I knew I needed food so I had a light snack of fruits to keep myself going.

I know that the same thing happens to my friends so we check in on each other about eating when we know the other is stressed and overwhelmed. Having a reliable and trustworthy support system honestly does make everything a little easier because you know you’ll always have someone there to help you.

One final thing I want to say is that while on my SSRI’s I find I need a lot more water than while I wasn’t on them. Not sure if it’s just me or a proven thing but either way, water definitely not only is great because we need it to survive but it helps every part of your body.

I know this post was a little rushed and a mess but I just wasn’t feeling up to anything this week. I’ll do better on my next one haha.

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie 🙂

Hiding It

Hi :).

In this post I’m going to talk about how I hid my mental health for so long, what signs others may show and what definitely not to say to people going through mental health issues.

I am a person who always has a smile on her face. Whether I’m happy or sad, as soon as I’m around other people, I cant help but smile. Obviously this is very frustrating in some situations, especially when I’m mad or trying to be sympathetic towards someone.

This is probably one of the biggest reasons it was so easy for me to hide. I can always put a smile on my face when needed and I guess no one around me saw through it.

Another reason was distance. When I was going through my worst, my closest friends and family did not live with or near me and when I did see them on the odd weekend, it was very easy to pretend everything was fine. For a long time, I myself didn’t even accept that anything was wrong with and so it was easy to show others that I was okay.

I know these two reasons themselves don’t seem huge, but it’s what happened. The biggest reason aside from those is the fact that I myself didn’t accept that anything was wrong with me.

Over the years, from dealing with my own mental health, as well as trying to help some of my friends with there’s, I’ve learned that you can’t help anyone who doesn’t want to be helped. No matter how much you push or try, unless they themselves first accept that something is wrong and that they want help, nothing you say will help them.

For me, when I was first starting to show some signs of depression and anxiety, my cousins picked up on it and took me to therapy. However, I only went a couple times and didn’t take anything they or the therapist said to heart or into consideration. I was in denial. I was sure that whatever I was going through was a phase and that I didn’t need any help.

Also, one of my close friends admitted to many self harm practices that they do. However, whenever I try to check in or give them advice, they never listen and always swear that they don’t do it because they’re sad but just because they are bored. In my eyes though, whatever the reason, they still would benefit from help. However, every time I try to talk to them about it, they push me away. So I show them that I support them and that I’ll always be there for them when they are ready to talk about it.

Now I know that sometimes, with more severe mental illnesses, waiting around will not help the person if they are about to end their life. In this situation, the best thing is to go to the police if you believe they are in immediate danger of taking their lives.

If as well, if you don’t think waiting around is best even if its not as severe, you can always go to a trusted authority figure in their life, like a parent or teacher and try to bring them help that way.

No matter which option you choose, there will probably be a bit of time in which the person you are trying to help resists you. This is normal. Mental health still has a huge stigma around it and sometimes people may not necessarily want to accept that they have to work on theirs. Once the person starts accepting it and making some progress, they’ll see that you only wanted what was best for them.

I remember when my cousins first told my parents, I was terrified and upset with her. But after some time, getting help, and starting the process of fighting for myself, I realized she did it out of love and I’ll forever be grateful.

One last thing I wanted to talk about is what everyone says to me when they find out I have depression and am on meds. The most common is “You’re always so happy, I never would’ve guessed” or “Really? I never see you crying”. Honestly these two annoy me the most. Yes I hide it well, but so do a lot of people, and just because someone seems happy, doesn’t mean they are all the time. As well, depression doesn’t automatically mean crying. For me personally I cry very easily and all the time, but the two aren’t interchangeable as terms.

If someone trusts you enough and opens up about their mental health, be supportive. Don’t make offhand comments because even if you mean it as a joke, sometimes it’s not perceived that way.

Anyways, I still suck at ending these. So I’m just going to say, that’s all for now, and maybe try to take some time to check on those that are close to you.

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie

Life Since University Started

Hi again :).

Time for another late night post. So, in my last post I talked about what life was like for me during high school and where I believe my mental health journey to have started.

We last left off with me feeling relieved that I got to go away to university. To give you a frame of reference, I got to move out of my house and 2 hours away from my parents. I know this may not seem like a lot compared to others moving from different countries, but at the time, I thought this was the best thing ever to happen to me. And in some ways, I still believe that moving out was the best decision for me, but we will get to that.

I started my first year of uni in September 2017. During this first semester, it was obviously a huge learning curve, but I had a group of friends I studied and hung out with and life was seemingly okay. It was when first midterm marks started to roll in that I once again felt the pressure of my parents. The university plainly tells all students that most of us will see a drop of at least 15-20% in averages from high school to university. However, at first, my parents did not understand this and were disappointed with the 60s and 70s I got which was a vast difference to the 90s in high school.

This time around however, it was easier to ignore their pressure because I was not living with them and I almost never visited home. At the time, my relationship with my parents was so rough that even when I did go home, I always planned out my weekends so that I spent the least amount of time possible at home. As I found out later, this was probably not the smartest thing to do.

Things continued this way well into second semester, but it was in March when things really started to fall apart. My dad was upset that every time I came home, I never spent any time hanging out with him and my mom and barely even talked to them. So, one weekend when I came home, he said I wasn’t allowed to go out. This of course upset me and I ended up just shutting myself away in my room. However, my mom would have none of that and continually pestered me about what was wrong. It was at that point I snapped.

I finally broke down and screamed. I yelled at my parents for suffocating me, for invading my privacy, for being the reason I never came home. That night, crying and yelling on the couch, I finally started to let go of 3 years worth of pent up hurt and anger towards my parents. To say the least, both of them were shocked. While my mom tried to comfort me and listen, my dad did the opposite and lashed out saying I was ungrateful and even stopped talking to me for a while.

The weekend ended and I went back to Waterloo. My dad only speaking a few words to me and mom trying to be overly supportive. I’m not sure exactly what caused what happened next but it was definitely one of my lowest points in life.

Once I got back to Waterloo on Sunday, I thought everything would be fine. I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel like going to class, so I skipped and slept all day. I woke up around 7/8 pm that day, used the bathroom, had a chewy bar and went back to bed. This went on for 2 weeks. Every morning I’d wake up, being unable to muster the energy to move, and then fall back asleep. During these 2 weeks I sleep for 22-23 hours a day, only waking up to use the bathroom and sometimes eat.

Honestly I’m not sure how I survived. I barely remember eating or drinking much water during that time. I had fallen into a deep depression. I couldn’t move, only when I really had to use the bathroom, and then I would come straight back to bed. No one close to me knew what was happening because I made sure to respond to texts so no one would bother me.

However, my Waterloo friends did notice since I did not go to class for 2 full weeks. They tried to ask me what was wrong and I just brushed it off as I needed a break because I was burnt out. I don’t and never will blame them for not trying harder because at the time, I didn’t want that. And I told every lie that I could come up with to make it seem like I was okay. 

I honestly think that if finals season didn’t roll around, I would’ve been in that semi-comatose state for a lot longer. After 2 weeks had passed, I realized that it was the last week of class and if I didn’t get my act together and study, I was going to fail the semester. I really think that this was the only reason I got up and started living again.

I pulled myself up, went to class, studied 24/7 so I didn’t have to think about my life, and passed my courses. I never told anyone about what happened during those two weeks. I knew that I had the signs of depression but I really did not want to admit that to myself at the time. A big reason for this was my parents.

At the time, they had no exposure to people dealing with mental health issues. Multiple times when I had talked to them about suicides that had happened on campus and how sad it was, their response would be “only crazy people do that”. At the time, I was angry and felt like I could never open up to them about what I had been going through so I didn’t.

Summer came and went and everything was still seemingly fine. I hadn’t had another depressive episode and all in all my summer was okay so I thought that I had put everything behind me and I was okay. Boy was I wrong. All I had been doing was letting my feelings build up more.

In Sept 2018, I started my second year of university. And in October I had my second depressive episode. Similar to the first, I barely functioned for 2 weeks. This time around, I stopped trying to fight it after the first few days. I told myself this happened before, that this was what I needed, and that after two weeks I would be fine again and able to finish my semester. So I let it happen, didn’t function for 2 weeks, hid it from everyone, and then continued about my life as if nothing was wrong. However, I was wrong again.

In November 2018, my best friends (who all went to different universities than me) and I all met up for a weekend of fun and partying. This was definitely not one of my finest moments, but I got black out drunk. It is the only time it has ever happened to me and to this day I still only have flashes of memory of the night.

Turns out, once we got home from the club, I broke down. I cried and sobbed and begged my friends not to make me go back to Waterloo, to go home. I told them I hated my life so much, that I just didn’t want to be here anymore, that I didn’t know how long I could continue like this.

Being my friends for 10 years, this obviously concerned them. They sat me down the next morning and said listen, we don’t know what exactly has been going on, but you need to get help and talk to someone. As much as they wanted to help me, they knew they weren’t equipped to do it alone. They gave me an ultimatum and said if I didn’t tell my family (at the time my cousins were my biggest support system) within the week, then they would do it.

I’m not saying this is the answer to helping everyone, but it worked on me because honestly I did want help, and I did want to get better. The next night, I told my cousin everything, about the depressive episodes, the anxiety and the thoughts about self harm and suicide. She immediately told my parents, knowing that this wasn’t something we could solve alone.

The next day, my parents texted me that they were at my front door here to see me. We had a long discussion and this is when things started to get better. I could see that as I talked about what I was going through, that they didn’t understand. They were brought up in very conservative households and are immigrants. Mental health was a whole new topic that they didn’t understand and were not informed about. But, I could see they were trying.

They took me to my family doctor and when he diagnosed me depression and anxiety, they sat and listened to all he was saying. When he suggested I start taking SSRI’s, I could see that this not what they wanted but they still wanted what was best for me so they agreed.

It was from here on out that our relationship started mending and we are where we are today. Them accepting my mental health did not happen overnight. Sure they tried to be supportive, but I could tell they were uncomfortable with the topic for a long time. Although it bothered me a little, I was happy and relieved that they were trying to help me get better.

Months passed and I started going to therapy. I really do value therapy and think it is a very helpful tool if the person them self wants to get better.

Lets rewind a bit. In March 2018, before my first depressive episode, my cousins could tell that something was wrong but they could not get me to open up. So to try and help this, they asked if I would see an on campus counsellor. I agreed and went to one session, however at the time, I did not want to get better because I told myself I was fine and that they were just over reacting. Obviously, because of this mindset, that session did not help much at all.

Back to Spring 2019. I started going to therapy about 1-2 times a week, and went for about 6 months. For me, it was a world of help. It was through therapy that I realized just how far back everything started, but also where I realized just how far I had come. It not only helped me come to terms with what I was going through, it helped me fully forgive my parents and move past all the hurt and resentment I carried towards them.

My parents and I are now closer than we have ever been. I talk to them about almost everything in my life (of course some things your parents just don’t need to know haha) and they are very open and accepting towards my mental health journey. As soon as they realized this was something serious, they read every article and book they could find about mental health and depression in particular. I was so thankful for this because never in a million years did I think my conservative parents would be accepting of all that I was going through and it really meant everything to me.

I have now been on SSRI’s for a little over a year. Although I have come a long way in my mental health, it has not been without its ups and downs. Mental health is one of the hardest things I have had to fight for in my life but it’s worth it because I want to be happy.

I think that is at the crux of it all – you have to want to get better, want to be happy. For whatever the reason may be, you have to want it before you can truly start to take the steps to get better.

Do I think that I am 100% better? Definitely not. Do I think that I am on the right path? Definitely. Even though I still have days where I really struggle to get out of bed or to do my homework or to do anything, I am happy with where I am in life. I am happy and proud of the progress I’ve made and thankful that I’ve been surrounded by love and support from those around me.

I know that we all have those points of things just feeling absolutely hopeless, where we just want to give up, but you have to think, is this all I want, where I just want to stop? Or do I want to one day be in a better place? Although others will be there to support you, no one can fight your battles. You have to do that yourself, and if and when you do, the progress you make is so worth it. At least that’s what I believe.

Anyways, I think I have rambled on in this post for long enough. I know I didn’t get into too much detail about my highs and lows after starting my SSRI’s and actually accepting my illness but I will get to all that in future posts. For now, I just want to show everyone that this is my mental health journey so far and that if you thought you’re the only one going through certain things, that you’re not.

I kind of suck at ending these things haha. But yeah. I’ll try and have the next post up soon. Don’t even know if anyone is reading this but it’s a good goal for myself lol. Also I apologize for all grammar mistakes, I’m trying me best :).

With lots of love,

Your mental healh Mathie ❤