Joey

Joey
My PSDit Joey

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

5-year plan


My 5-year plan after finishing high school was simple: graduate from college in 4 years then begin graduate school directly following graduation. It was easy for me to imagine a 5-year plan at 18-years-old. My toughest challenge in high school had been taming my frizzy hair.
My first 2 years of college were very successful. I made close friends, was hired by my college as a writing tutor, and connected with teachers and administrators in the school district I wanted to eventually work in. I was right on track with my 5-year plan.
During my third year of college, the mass shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was shocking and tragic for our country, and although I lived 100 miles away, I felt a very deep connection to the event. In the following months, I noticed that I would be on high-alert when I'd be out in public. I was truly worried for my safety. That April, I learned about the Boston Marathon bombing when I was in my college’s library. I immediately looked at the entrance to the library and wondered where I would hide if a shooter came through the door. A habit of making “escape plans” in my head became uncontrollable. I started to create them for any public places I would go. I began to avoid walking in open spaces or going out at night. Each night, I dreamed that I was trying to escape from a mass shooting; even in my sleep, I couldn't shake this overwhelming fear.
Clearly, these were warning signs that I needed help. I didn't tell anyone about the thoughts and feelings I was having because I didn't want anyone to think I was unstable. Admitting to myself or to others that something was wrong could jeopardize my 5-year plan. I told myself that all college students were feeling this kind of stress, and I’d feel better when the semester ended.
My Junior year ended, but instead of things getting better, I experienced a complete mental breakdown. I had severe panic attacks, paranoia, and anxiety that made it impossible for me to drive, work, or stay home alone. After I sought treatment with a therapist and psychiatrist, they recommended I check myself into a psychiatric hospital, so doctors could balance my medication and I could learn skills to help me manage my anxiety. Within the next months, I was hospitalized 5 times, spending nearly 3 months total in the hospital. I questioned: How could a person as happy and outgoing as me develop a mental illness? Why didn’t I seek help sooner?
My worst day in the hospital was when I had to withdraw from my senior year of classes. I felt like my years of hard work were slipping away. After my last hospitalization in December, I immediately re-enrolled in classes. I didn't give myself the chance to heal because I wanted so badly to get back on track with my 5-year plan. I struggled through 2 classes, but since I wasn’t committed to working on my mental health, I had ups and downs that made it difficult to do my work, and I wasn’t enjoying school like I did before. Seeing pictures of my friends graduating was hard for me. I wanted to be walking across the stage with them.
By the end of 2014, I finally accepted that if I kept putting my education before my mental health, I could risk having another mental breakdown. I decided to take a medical leave from school; I needed to focus on my mental health and regain my strength and confidence.
For the next 2 years, I attended therapy, worked with my psychiatrist, received a psychiatric service dog, discovered skills to help me cope with anxiety, and practiced self-care. I found my love of writing and felt power in sharing my journey with mental illness. I created a mental health blog and started having my writing published, hoping my story would show people that mental illness can happen to anyone, and there is no shame in seeking help. In January of 2017, I began college again. This time, I felt ready.
The deadline of my 5-year plan has passed, and none of the goals I’d set as an 18-year-old were reached; however, I’m happy, healthy, and have a mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. I’m battling a psychiatric disorder, and maintaining my mental health is an ongoing part of my life, but the struggles I faced put me on the path I’m meant to be on.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or warning signs of a mental illness, it’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible. Your mental health is far more important than your 5-year plan. I’ve learned that college can wait, treating mental illness cannot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Guest Blogger- Jennifer Scott of Spirit Finder: Married into addiction- How to identify and confront your partner

Jennifer Scott is an advocate for opening up about mental health.
With SpiritFinder, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.

To read more about Jennifer's experiences and the experiences of others, please visit spiritfinder.org


Married into Addiction | How to Identify and Confront Your Partner

Addiction is a nasty disease that affects everyone near and dear to the afflicted. The ones who love the addict the most are the ones who suffer without pause and also the ones who fight the hardest for healing. If you are in this situation with a spouse or partner, read on for tips on how to identify drug addiction and when to seek help.

Know the signs

Not all addicts present the same signs or symptoms. However, there are a few almost universal things to look for. These include:

     Change in behavior, especially when sudden
     Mood swings; angry and agitated and then suddenly happy and carefree
     Withdrawal from friends and family
     Lackadaisical hygiene
     Unexplainable loss of interest in hobbies or sports
     Altered sleeping pattern
     Glassy or red, irritated eyes
     Constant runny nose

Meta-morphine

An individual with a meta-morphine addiction may remain awake for days at a time and present with extreme weight loss, become talkative at inappropriate times, and seemed paranoid or anxious. Addiction can cause a complete loss of appetite along with feelings of grandeur. Physical symptoms include sweating, shaking, blurred vision, and dizziness.

Cocaine

Like meth addiction, cocaine codependency often goes hand-in-hand with sleeplessness and waning appetite. Decreased sex drive, hallucinations, short temperedness, and scratching at the skin are also common

Inhalants

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes inhalants as substances introduced into the body through the respiratory system. These include aerosol sprays and gases. Inhalant use can cause temporary euphoria and dizziness followed by subsequent headaches and fainting spells. The long-term consequences of inhalant use include emotional instability, tremors, loss of smell and, with continued use, brain atrophy.

Heroin

Heroin affects new users differently than long-term abusers. In the early stages, heroin can offer the user a sense of euphoria and he or she may drift off into a daydream-like state for long periods of time. With prolonged use, the body may react to heroin like a stimulant, allowing the user to perform normal everyday tasks without detection.

The above is not a comprehensive list of drugs and/or related side effects. For more information about drugs and addiction visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online.

Taking a stand

Watching a loved one, especially your life partner, effectively ruin themselves because of drugs and alcohol is devastating and disheartening. It is never too early to confront an individual about his or her drug use. Remember, the longer they are addicted, the less they are likely to realize they have a problem. When you’re ready to confront your spouse, be prepared. First, you must be 100% certain they are sober. You cannot get through to a person in the middle of a drug binge. Let them know exactly what about their behavior is causing issues for you and your family. Know ahead of time what you’re going to say and have a script outlined in your head.

Discussing substance abuse with an addict is uncomfortable for all parties so tread lightly and find an appropriate time to open up the conversation. Watch your vocal inflections and leave judgment at the door. Be careful not to form an accusatory tone, and let your loved one  know you are simply there to help. Once the addict is actively participating in the conversation, make sure they understand that there will be consequences if they don’t seek help.

Special circumstances

Being married to an addict and confronting their behavior is more difficult when children or infidelity are involved. Don’t initiate a conversation while the children are at home, as the addict may become unpredictable. If he or she has found comfort in the arms of another, now is not the time to work through that issue. Once they have begun the addiction healing process, you can confront these indiscretions and resolve them together with a clear head. According to affair recovery specialists Anne and Brian Bercht, you must be direct and clear in your questioning in the same way you confronted them about their addictive behaviors.

While being married to an addict is certainly not easy, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. The important thing is that everybody is safe. Know that it is possible to help them and yourself, even if things seem too tough to overcome sometimes.