There's a ton of online gurus for every topic you can imagine. Some have degrees for studying their craft and knowledge, while others can only offer you their experience and research. I find both acceptable when it comes to reading content from either a qualified scholar or from someone who has experience of their own in whatever topic. Take for instance psychology. There are people like me who talk, write and live stream about mental health awareness, anxiety, depression and other related topics, only because I have struggled with it since I was sixteen years old. I cannot give you advice on medications or worse off, diagnose you. I can only tell you my story, and maybe relate to yours. I can tell you what worked for me, and leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.
Qualifying Your Therapist
How do you know if someone can truly help you? Say for instance, a self-proclaimed "life coach" approaches you---do you ask for their qualifications and practice? What about qualifying your therapist? You might find a therapist with the LMSW or LCSW in their title of qualifications. Some are actually called, "psychotherapists", leaving patients to be confused with the word "psychiatrist." A psychiatrist can administer therapy, but more so are there for the medical side of it: medications and evaluations, etc. With all that being said, I guess it depends on what you're looking for. I know for myself, I see an awesome therapist who is listed under the LCSW label, who uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and other relaxation techniques to help calm panic attacks. She also teaches me coping skills that have truly worked. I also have an MD who is listed as a "psychiatrist." It's talk therapy and a prescription for anti-anxiety meds for the month. In my own opinion, (and many professional opinions as well) it's important to have both therapist and psychiatrist.
How Do You Trust What You Read?
In the meantime while you're waiting for your appointments, it's okay to read up on what other people go through, or to read a blog like mine about mental health. Generally the rule of thumb is, don't take everything to heart. Take what you can and throw the rest out. When I talk about God and my prayer time, it may not be for everyone. But that's the one thing that truly helps me overall. Some blogs are bias on one practice vs another. Some may suggest yoga, which goes against my faith. Others may suggest a different approach that may not be your cup of tea. Find the right author or online 'guru' and stick to it, only if they help!
I Was Recently Psychologically Evaluated
Yep. You read that correctly. For the first time in my life, I was recently psychologically evaluated by the hospital's psyche team for having a complete meltdown after experiencing a panic attack nonstop for over two weeks. Between still grieving over my sweet mama and moving out of my ancestral home, my heart rate was at a steady 130bpm. I couldn't take it anymore, and when I went to my doctor just for a check up (notice I didn't say ER,) they called for an ambulance because this time, I had passed out from the extreme fatigue my rapid heart rate was giving me. I also muttered out that I wish God would just take me home. That's code for: I wanna kill myself. But I would never kill myself. But you can't joke around or say things like that to medical professionals, because even if they know you're joking, and they discharge you, they'll be liable for what you do afterwards. When the psyche team came into my room, they closed the curtains and spoke softly.
"Hi Debra, do you know why we're here?"
I sure did. They asked if I wanted to harm myself or others. I told them I was too much of a coward to do anything. I'd probably pass out before I even did the deed. One of them chuckled. They asked a series of other questions which would determine me fit or unfit to sit in a padded room for 72 hours. Then the head doctor said, "You don't belong here. Your grief and this change of moving to another home is exasperating your anxiety." I was ready to just say, "YES take me!" I was so done with all of this stress that I didn't give a rat's ass if they zombied me out on Lithium and fed me jello. I just wanted some peace! So the prognosis was, that I up my therapy sessions and take more magnesium. On top of that, they wanted to put me on a medication that conflicted with my doctor's opinion, called "Mirtazapine"---which is a medication used to amp up the appetites of anorexia patients. I'm already 'well rounded' and didn't need more weight gain in the process. Then the social worker came in to give me a final evaluation. She asked me to talk about my mom---I guess to see where my level of grief was. I was telling her funny things like, she was so lively and funny, a bit of a drinker, but enjoyed her life with her family. The social worker looked straight into my eyes and said, "You may wanna follow the footsteps of your mom and do what she did in life, wink wink." Then she said, "Go home and have a stiff drink." You can't make this stuff up! It's like the worst thing you can tell somebody who is being psychologically evaluated. But it was funny, nonetheless. And yes I had a glass of wine when I got back home.
Why Are You Sharing All of This On Social Media???
Because it's important. Because you're not alone. Because there are people out there made to feel too ashamed to speak about mental health issues. This is the number one issue we ALL share, whether you self-medicate to stifle the symptoms, or you deny it---it's the one thing we have in common! And one day, when it gets to be too much for you, and you find yourself in an ER cubical with a curtain being psychologically evaluated, you'll need other people like myself to understand and relate to what you're going through. There is nothing embarrassing about admitting you need help, or that you need someone to talk to, be it therapist or a friend. There's nothing wrong with having anxiety or depression. Especially in the world we live in today---it's important to know that you're not alone in this and that there are people out there who can help and share their own experiences with you. And when your therapist isn't available, isn't it a blessing you can hop onto Google and find some websites that teach you coping mechanisms? I mean, Google can also be a curse and amp up your health anxiety, but nonetheless, we have resources we can use if we use them intelligently.
That's actually a medical term, "Smiling Depression." It's exactly what it means: people who smile through their depression. Look at Robin Williams. He not only smiled and laughed, but he made millions of people smile and laugh right along with him. You'd never think in a million years that Robin Williams would be suicidal. The majority of people out there have it. Those who are seemingly catapulting their way through life laughing and joking with us are sometimes the saddest of all people. Mental illness has this awful stigma that many don't want to be associated with. It doesn't mean you're "crazy" or "unstable"---it simply means that you are HUMAN. I'd be more worried if you didn't feel anything in life.
In conclusion, I hope that as time goes on, we can be less afraid to admit to our struggles, and find help and support instead of hiding it at the bottom of a pill or wine bottle. And if you ever need a supportive ear, please message me. I'm a little unconventional about giving out the suicide crisis hotline, because if you're like me, all you want is somebody to HEAR you and that you truly don't want to die, that you just want to LIVE and be yourself again. Some of these psyche wards are like prisons. A cold bed with no sheets (for obvious reasons) and you won't care because they'll be pumping you up with the most sedating of all drugs. But sometimes, that's what some people need---some people---meaning dangerous to themselves or to others. From my psychiatrist's mouth---you'll come out ten times worse than you did going in. Trust me. Find someone to talk to. There's also a mental health mobile unit that will come to your home in a regular car, and just sit and talk with you until your panic attack or suicidal thoughts pass. They're there in cases of a crisis, where you feel like you need to go to the ER. Call the mental health mobile before a suicide hotline. This is my unprofessional advice of being an expert of having gone through this since I was sixteen years old.
- Be good to yourself.
- Forgive yourself.
- Like yourself more---love yourself more.
- Allow yourself to express your feelings.
- Know that you are not alone.
- Reach out.
- Help someone else to get your mind off of yourself.
- Always practice your coping mechanisms.
- Pray without ceasing.
- Conjure up positive thoughts & plans for the day ahead every evening.
- Visualize having the best day ever before going to bed.
And just feel better...
For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com
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