Health · Let's Get Serious

Mental Health Week

Hey y’all! I hope everyone is having a good week. It’s finals week for me, so needless to say, I can most definitely be doing better. Buzzfeed is holding their own mental health week and it has inspired me to share something about myself.

I have been pretty open with y’all about my mental illnesses. I think talking about them is healthy and important. It hasn’t been easy. It is always emotionally exhausting to pound out a blog post about my own personal mental health. I put this enormous amount of pressure on myself. Thoughts like: “Am I being positive enough?”, “Is anyone even understanding?”, “Is this helping?”,”Did I end my post with a lesson?”, “Am I teaching enough?”. The truth is, I don’t have all of the answers. My anxiety and depression are self-diagnosed and even admitting that is frightening. To some people, a mental illness can’t be an illness unless a doctor diagnoses it. But that’s not fair because I know myself better than a doctor can. I know that these feelings are not normal and knowing that they are anxiety and depression help me feel validated. Along with my self-diagnoses comes self-doubt. I am constantly wondering if I’ve made up my mental illness, because come on I’m not that sad. Or people have it much worse, I’m probably just doing this for attention. The stigma in our society only validates these thoughts. But my blog has been a haven. I feel comfortable enough to write openly about these struggles because I want others to know that they’re not alone. Especially with something as complicated as a self-diagnoses.

While I have been open and honest with my anxiety and depression, I haven’t been open about my other mental disorder: Adult ADHD. My junior year of high school I was diagnosed with ADHD. My doctor, my parents, and I saw improvements instantly after I began taking medication. My grades went from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s. School made sense finally. Since then, I have struggled to find the right dosage to keep me at a healthy weight, to keep me active, to keep me focused, to keep me “normal.” My first year on medication, I lost close to thirty pounds due to lack of appetite from my Adderall. We decided that thirty milligrams of Adderall reduced my appetite too much to feel comfortable keeping me on that dosage. We switched to 15MG instead. Well, that didn’t even last me six hours, which was my typical school day. We then moved on to a 20MG once a day. I stayed on that for close to a year and a half. It used to be that I only needed the medication throughout the school day and didn’t really need to focus once I got home. Freshman year of college I didn’t have much homework and could make the pill I took at five a.m last until the end of the day. Sophomore year of college has required me to be able to focus for a much longer time period. So as of late, I’ve started taking 30MG again. One full 20MG in the morning and 10MG once I get out of my afternoon classes. So far, this balance has been working. The issue here is trying to remain on a consistent time schedule and that includes taking my medication daily, regardless if I’m in school or not. If I don’t take it, I experience extreme fatigue and can hardly manage to get out of bed. This struggle with medication hasn’t been easy and doesn’t make my mental health situation any better.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chemical imbalance of the brain. It is a very real genetic and biological disorder. Symptoms aren’t always the same. For example, I don’t experience the hyperactivity aspect, but ADD and ADHD are still considered the same disorder. I have to live with the fact that it can’t be “cured.” The medication that I take reduces the symptoms of that chemical imbalance. It is something that I will live with for most of my life, and that’s okay because I have accepted this as a part of who I am. It is also pretty common for people struggling with ADHD to have other mental disorders. “Adults with ADHD are likely to have an anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or other comorbid psychiatric disorder. (The term “comorbid” refers to a condition that exists with another.) About 50 percent of adults with ADHD also suffer from an anxiety disorder. Adult ADHD symptoms that coexist with an anxiety disorder or other disorders may significantly impair the ability to function.” (Source). We don’t realize how common this disorder is in adults, some facts:

  • Up to 30% of children and 25-40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder. [12]
  • Experts claim that up to 70% of those with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives.

The stigma and ignorance that revolves around mental illness is enough to stop people from seeking treatment and talking about it. Especially for my ADHD. As a college student, it’s hard to admit that I rely on Adderall to function in everyday life. Adderall is called “the study drug” and it’s no secret how prevalent this is among college students. In fact, one in every five college students have admitted to using Adderall to help study without having an ADHD diagnoses (source). It’s frustrating because I don’t abuse it–  I NEED it to balance out my brain chemistry. You can see my hesitation about opening up to y’all about this, especially so publicly. But I want to end this stigma and I want this to be talked about in a judgement-free environment. Get educated this week with funny videos and articles from BuzzFeed. I’ll link below the video that inspired this post.

Thanks y’all for reading and for the support I’ve receive since my latest blog post. Stay positive and loving.

xo- Heidi

 

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