Category Archives: Mental Health

My Biggest F*cking Aha Moment

Today I had the biggest fucking aha moment. I was standing in the kitchen with my mum, after a dinner that my dad had prepared.

I have been going through a rough patch recently, with constant low mood, which has put a damper on my every day quality of living. On some days it is an accomplishment if I make the 15 minute walk to the Starbucks near my house. The depression feels like it eats me alive sometimes…and although I don’t lie in bed and cry, my body feels numb. I can’t feel anything. I tell people that the mental health aspect of the epilepsy is harder to deal with than the epilepsy itself. I have burnt myself with hot tea due to a seizure. No problem. I was able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix with four months of bandage changes, and a period of time on morphine and Tylenol Arthritis. The physical pain was awful, but I could still get through my every day life.

I have gone into a tail spin when I saw that a peer has gotten their Master’s degree in Social Work. As I told my mum so many times, “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” I wasn’t supposed to have my diagnosis changed to Refractory epilepsy. I was supposed to be normal, able to go out without worrying about what people will think when I ask for the disability seat, and not feel like my soul is drowning in depression on the really bad days. You can tell it’s been a bad time when you see me in the same outfit multiple days in a row, or when I need to put clothes on the floor near my bed so I can easily reach them when I have zero motivation to do anything.

Regardless, while we were in the kitchen, my mum put her hands on my shoulders and said “You are doing so, so, well. For someone in your situation, I am so impressed.” I was flabbergasted. What? I was doing well? ME!? On the days that I hide under my covers? The fact that I am not independent? “Yes,” my mum said. “You still get out there and socialize, and you ask for help when you need it. You could just be in a hole, but you make the effort not to be.

WOAH. My mum is right. I could just hide and be in my own little world. I’m not though! I am taking a pre-requisite at a community college, am an active co-organizer of a queer women’s Meet Up group, see friends, practice yoga, ask for help when I need it,  and spend time with my family….to name a few things.

Holy shit guys, I’m not letting life pass me by! I am living it- chronic illness and all!! I am not a failure!!

Love,
Sita and JoJo xox

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The Isolation of Epilepsy

chronic-illness
Hey friends,

I hope you had a good weekend. My weekend was off and on. It started on Friday when I found out that there were cuts being made to the Epilepsy Clinic I go to and that my psychologist won’t be there anymore. I hugged him, and left his office absolutely devastated. It was a weird mix between devastation and seething anger. It was a stormy day, so I sat in the Starbucks attached to the clinic for awhile, and then braved the cold of the storm.

I  soon realized that my anger distracted me- I ended up taking the wrong bus and then hopped off and went into a Chapters (aka Barnes and Noble). I picked up Brene Brown’s newest book, Rising Strong, and then hopped on ANOTHER wrong bus. GOOD HEAVENS!

I finally hopped on to the Skytrain and found that all of my pent up emotion was starting to come out in small seizure like bursts. I was sitting down next to a dude, and then I leaned to my left ON TO HIM and started to seize. It was a short seizure, and I embarrassedly explained to him that I have seizures. Thankfully he took it well.

That evening was a mess of more seizures. Today I lay in bed on a Sunday evening, where I slept soundly until 3pm. Today I have not left my house. Now one thing is very clear to me: Epilepsy is one hell of an isolating condition.

It is easy to not leave your house in fear of a seizure. This is for injury or for fear of embarrassment. To look like a fool. An outcast. You look ridiculous. All of that attention was not warranted when you toppled over. You just want to be normal in the world.
Even if you WANT to be part of the camaraderie that life has to offer, you might be too ill to jump up and join in. I am an extraverted person, so this can be very hard to take. I miss my friends. I stand by the river and watch.

This. This is the Isolation of Epilepsy.

Learning to Embrace Being an Inspiration

Hey friends! I hope you are doing well wherever you are in the world. I have been having an exhilarating week ever since TedxStanleyPark. (I will have my video up as soon as it is out!)

While I was walking my dog this evening,  I was thinking about what it means to be an inspiration and my struggle with accepting this fact. This was potentially evoked by the fact that I won an Alumni Award from my middle school that I will be accepting at the end of the month. When I was first told that I was the recipient of the Alumni Award I didn’t really know why.

When I think about the past and resisting the idea of being an inspiration, I constantly didn’t want to be seen as inspiring because I was just a “normal person” trying to get through her life. I almost resented being called an inspiration because it made me feel even more different than my peers and friends. As an Epileptic (or PWE) it is easy to feel “different” because my neurotransmitters sometimes misfire, or don’t fire when they are supposed to. (If we are going to get technical here).

After Tedx, I realized that it’s OKAY for me to embrace being an inspiration to other people. I was talking to my friend Debra the other day, and she so eloquently put it that I have not let my Epilepsy define me, and I am not going through life as a “Broken person”. I am still persisting, despite my challenges. Yeah sometimes life sucks, and I have been struck with deep depression in the past. This past week I received a bracelet from my friend that said “my story isn’t over yet” with the semicolon symbol. Not everyone knows this, but Project Semicolon is now a pretty well known symbol for to remember people who have died by suicide, and to bring light to depression, addiction, and self-harm. I want to cry when I look at my bracelet, because it reminds me how far I have come. (Thank you Rikarux and Ryan).
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, Inspiration has several definitions. They are:
“Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create; a force or influence that inspires someone”

“A person, place, experience, etc. that makes someone want to do something”

“A good idea”

So as we can see there are multiple meanings to what an inspiration is. Now that I look back on my past with wide eyes, and to my future with excitement fluttering in my tummy, I can say hell ya. I am an inspiration ❤

SIta's bracelet

The Glorification of Being Busy

empty cup
Hey friends! This is a topic that I am very passionate about, in fact it should be a VLOG but I am working on it. If you are a busy person, don’t be offended. Here we go.

Where I live, Vancouver BC, being busy is almost like a personal badge of honour. For example, it is admirable for many  to leap from task to task in an entire day, and oh-sorry-I only have exactly one hour to meet you at the over-crowded coffee shop to quickly catch up on your life. Look. I get it. People are busy. But why is it seen as such a positive thing?

I was chatting with a good friend of mine last week who is currently in an accelerated program at University. She told me that she had no idea how people would go hiking both days of the weekend, on top of their intensive course work. How did they have the time for that? Isn’t it just nice to relax and spend time with friends or have some quiet alone time? In my experience (okay, chronic illness aside), it is almost frowned upon if you have spent two days of your weekend lazing around and reading a book.

Why is it so awesome to be busy? In my mind, busy and active are two TOTALLY different things. Busy is when you just keep going, with no stopping. You drive yourself into the ground. Active is when you have goals to be met, and you celebrate those with breaks or other things. I just really wish that where I live, being busy wasn’t celebrated so much. As a Registered Social Worker, self-care is super important. What is self-care you might be asking me? Self-care is doing things that make you feel well. It can be something as simple as having a bubble bath or drinking a cup of tea.
If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others? Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Love you lots!

Coming Out of The Depression Closet

depression-in-her-eyes
So this is not an easy post for me to write at all. If you know me in real life, you will understand why, but the majority of you don`t so I will give you a quick run-down. I am a perfectionist, too hard on myself, and nothing is ever good enough in terms of my own achievements. (Well sometimes they are, but they feel short lasting and I must always strive for better). I also disregard my achievements and say they’re “not a big deal”.

Okay let`s keep that in mind. The short of it is this: I am depressed. I know there is a huge stigma in our culture surrounding depression, and it is not talked about very much. Well I am going to take my ax and burst down the wall of stigma and along with many other internet bloggers, I am joining the conversation of mental health.

I’ve learned that through my experiences with depression, different people have different ideas of what depression means or looks like. People who are struggling with depression are often mislabeled as unmotivated, and lazy, to name a few. This isn’t conducive to the healing of people with depression because calling a person with depression unmotivated  will feel even more unmotivated to do something that needs to be done. Honestly, some people with depression wake up in the morning and have zero clue why they feel shitty. People might ask- did something bad happen? Are you okay? Well maybe nothing really “bad” happened, and there is no straight explanation to their mood. People who are depressed don’t want to be depressed. If they could, they would “snap out of it” in a second. It”s not that easy though.  Like I said, depression isn’t all about feeling sad. It’s about lack of concentration, increased or decreased appetite, sleeping too much or too little, and unexplained aches and pains.

Check out this info graphic from buzzfeed to illustrate what I mean http://www.buzzfeed.com/annaborges/depression-101-yo

I have been great at wearing masks in the past- and to be 100% honest, I still wear masks from time to time. When I say I wear a mask, I essentially mean that I have been severely depressed but you would just think I was the most chipper person you knew. It`s a drag being depressed, and I don`t like dragging others through the mud of depression with me. Some people can see through my facade of upbeat moods and smiling. One thing about depression though- people are not always sad. There is a whole host of emotions that happen when someone experiences depression. Some of them are very heavy emotions such as guilt. Try carting guilt around with you every single day. It gets tiring. My depression goes in direct correlation with my Epilepsy, which is most likely because they are not well controlled.

With my Epilepsy, I have experienced depression on and off ever since 2011. It hasn’t been fun, but I just wanted to tell you.It is very hard to describe how I feel. I forget to eat lunch. Always. I sleep too much, and I have little triggers that can set me into a melt down. I have depression. I am working very hard to get better. Feeling better seems like an exceptional plan.

Love you lots xox

How I am Learning to Let Go of Perfectionism

Hey friends!! I hope you have been having a great week!! For some reason I am really tired this week. I am definitely not my usual peppy self, which kinda sucks.

I am imperfectSo I don’t usually let this cat out of the bag, but I am a perfectionist. You must be thinking “Her room must be spotless with everything in its place!” Hardly the case though, I have clothes everywhere, and I hate making my bed. So, from looking at my room you would never guess that I am a perfectionist. The clutter of my room simply represents the stress and of my mind.

I only really started to realize that I am a perfectionist in my first year of university. For some reason it was virtually impossible to start working on an essay if I didn’t have “the perfect opening line.” It basically looked like procrastination, but essentially I just couldn’t do it if I didn’t think it was going to be perfect. I forced myself to work on assignments and essays despite not having the “perfect opener” but it was a struggle, and people knew that I was generally always in the library, and if not I was in the gym, burning off all the stress.

I have become to realize how paralyzing perfectionism was. Only within this year I realized that I needed to get more information about it, and how I could deal with it. So, thankfully I found out that Perfectionism is tied to anxiety. Oh yay! How fun. If you have perfectionistic tendencies like I do, you are searching for some form of control. Being this way has kept me up at night because- I kid you not- I had this thought: “Oh my god I am so not perfect because a perfect person wouldn’t be a perfectionist!”

For a quick overview, you might be considered a perfectionist if you answer yes to any of these questions:

Do I have trouble meeting my own standards?
Do I often feel frustrated, depressed, anxious or angry while trying to meet my standards?
Have I been told that my standards are too high?
Do my standards get in the way? For example, do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or do anything spontaneously?  (Anxiety BC)

Sadly, I answered yes to ALL of these questions. I also was concerned about spelling ‘spontaneously’ correctly.

sometimes its toughYou see, the rational side of my mind thinks that perfection is kinda boring, yet the emotional side of my mind has latched on to the idea that it is the only way to be. It is also difficult being a perfectionist and having a chronic illness, because I can’t do things “the way everyone else does.” F that, right? Because we all have our own journey. It makes me think about people with other chronic illnesses, such as MS, and whether their chronic illness exacerbates their perfectionism? Or how wide spread this is? Is Perfectionism an issue with people who have chronic illnesses?

courtesy of yoganonomous
courtesy of yoganonomous

Anyways, I have started what is called “exposure therapy.” I don’t see a doctor for this, but I do things like have my boyfriend tell me that he thinks I’m perfect (I freaked the F out the first time he told me, and he genuinely meant it), put a typo or spelling mistake in an email, or show up to an event late. I have also bought a worry journal, so I have one little book where I can put all my crap and worries about the world. Realistically, I can figure out a way around them, but a worry is a worry for a reason.

What do you think about this?? Are you a perfectionist? Do you know one?

Lots of love! Stay imperfect!! xox

PS Yes it took me forever to write this!! It had to be “perfect”!

How I’ve Learned That I’m Never Really Alone

depression

Hey friends. Okay I am going to be brutally honest. This week has been rough. I found myself in bed on Monday feeling so depressed that I needed to talk to someone. Of course, this depression washes over me at the most inconvenient of times. It was 12:30am where I was, and some of my best friends were in another province and in a deep slumber at 3:30 in the morning. There was no the fuck way I was going to call them that late.
So I thought. My parents were asleep (and I am sure they would have talked to me), yet  I didn’t want to wake them. I thought of who I could call in my area that wouldn’t mind talking to me so late.

One of my bestest friends currently has a very bad cold and an ear infection. I felt so bad about calling her, but I knew she would understand. We talked for maybe over half an hour, and she told me that I could call her at any time. No matter where she was, and if she got a missed call from me while she was working, she would message me right away.

Feeling less alone when you are trying to pull yourself out of mental health issues (ie depression) helps soooo much.If you are ever in that situation, try to think of a friend you can call, or your area’s crisis line. Thank you, dear friend. You are helping to pull me out of the quicksand that is depression. With Epilepsy, I am at a higher risk of developing mental health issues (just a fact, not playing the victim card) so I really appreciate all the support I get.

Please, please please keep my story in mind if you find  yourself in a tough position.

Love you all! Keep fighting the fight! xox