TIFFANY MELTON: MY MENTAL HEALTH

I've posted blogs about my battle with my mental disorders before, I've talked endlessly to others about my depression, but it wasn't until recently that I have finally been honest with myself for the first time since I was originally diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety at 16. In the last six years, I spent much, if not most of the time being bitter and in denial. It wasn't fair. I didn't do anything to become depressed. I didn't choose it. I don't think I'm the only one who couldn't grasp it, as my parents raised a daughter that was known for her never-ending smile and bright outlook on life. They didn't ask for my depressed outbursts and emotional instability. I was spunky, positive, athletic, smart, overly kind. I'm still that girl, just sometimes my depression heavily masks it. It turns me into someone I don't like and don't know. 

Of course I was told it was a chemical imbalance, that I inherited it, but I also was told I would never outgrow it. It was with me for life. None of those things I wanted to accept, and I didn't. Being in denial was the worst decision I could have made. Not only has it caused me to go into periods of deep depression because of my lack of ability to manage and completely recognize the depression, but it has also pushed me to make numerous negative decisions out of extremely low self confidence, a lack of self worth, and a lack of self respect. But the worst part, is what I've lost. And it took my recent loss, the biggest loss I've faced so far in my life, to finally accept who I am, and to face it without hostility. I was forced to harshly evaluate myself, to see the girl I was when I was depressed and not helping myself. I was angry, I was sad, I couldn't control my emotions, and I hated myself. I took all of that mental anguish out on those closest to me. 

All it would have taken to avoid pushing someone I loved away, was for me to have stopped convincing myself I didn't have depression anymore. But I do, and I always will. It's been a part of who I am since I was 16. What I can do going forward is make managing my depression an everyday habit in my life. This means doing things that make me the best version of myself and things that make me happy. This means learning to gain true confidence. To be able to love myself with no forced or fake confidence and love. 

As big of a mental health advocate I've been, I was making the biggest mistake myself. While I recognized I have battled these disorders, I wasn't truly owning the fact that they were a dominant part of my life and forever would be. And that is completely and totally okay. 

TIFFANY MELTON: TAKING MY MENTAL HEALTH INTO MY OWN HANDS

When I first shared my story, I had a list of disorders that I had been diagnosed with since first seeing a psychiatrist when I was 16-years-old, up until age 21. Not to mention my own personal, never-ending mental list of all the prescribed medications that had been put into my system in attempt to “fix” my illnesses.

When you’re 18, or any age, feeling helpless in a dark, deep hole of physical and mental pain, all you really want to do is to get better. To feel better. So I accepted my psychiatrist’s aid with desperate open hands and the ultimate vulnerability. Now at 22, I wonder if that was the biggest mistake I ever made.

After seeing the same psychiatrist for three years and feeling as if I was not being listened to and that my depression and anxiety was only worsening with every new medication I tried,, I finally got the courage to escape comfort and find a new one. I started seeing my recent psychiatrist just this January. After my first appointment, I was filled with anger and pain. To my disbelief, and to  hers, she quickly pointed out that I did not show, and seemed to have never shown any symptoms related to my diagnoses I walked into her office with, other than what I already knew without a doubt: depression and minor anxiety. I had been taking medications for Borderline Personality disorder and Bipolar Depression for as long as I could remember, along with an addictive anxiety medication that I also found out is never supposed to be taken for more than a month, but I had taken it for three years at a high dosage. It finally clicked on why I seemed to feel worse on those medications, and why I never saw much progress : those pills were never meant to be in my system and were in return, harmful to my mental and physical health.

My recent psychiatrist immediately began to wing me off my anxiety medication, a medication in which I had become physically dependent on. This is a process which has been extremely long due to my “addiction” and the withdrawal symptoms I get when missing just one dosage, and especially when lowering dosages. I’m still in that process, experiencing at times panic attacks, a tight chest, blurred vision, nightmares, irregular heart rate, short-term memory loss, fatigue, and the feeling of being “disconnected from reality.” Those are just a few symptoms I’ll endure. That is just a small amount of them. She also put me on a mood stabilizer. While winging myself off my anxiety medication has been successful, I still didn’t feel “right.” Just this September, I began to take less and less of my mood stabilizer, until just recently I cut it out of my system altogether. I was careful, but to my surprise, I began to feel like myself again. I was happy. With endless and conditional love and support from my boyfriend since meeting in May, I have had the courage to push myself through withdrawal symptoms, and to analyze myself. Not just listen to others and what they were saying about MY mental health. Because who knows us better than ourselves? I had become so reliant on others to tell me how I was feeling, to analyze my progress. People who unfortunately did not help me when all I wanted was help. My boyfriend and I  both have noticed the very obvious and positive changes in my overall mood and health since removing the medications from my body, and for the first time since 16, I feel like me.

It’s important for me to note that I am not promoting going off medication, or being anti medication, psychiatrists or any help, as I am now set up with a new psychiatrist to aid in the process of slowly removing my anxiety medication out of my system, and then we will evaluate everything THEN. My situation happened to be different. I had unfortunately been in the care of psychiatrists who did not help me in the correct way. Who did not listen. Who did not seem to care.

Now six years later I’m filled with questions: How bad was it really? Why were my psychiatrists so quick to prescribe me medications, and then to keep on endlessly prescribing different ones when it didn't seem as the other ones weren’t “working?” And finally the one that causes the most pain: Had I actually ever beat my depression and anxiety over these years, but was convinced I hadn’t due to symptoms caused by physically addicting medications and careless doctors?

As hard as it is, and trust me, it’s HARD, I have to let go of the anger. I can’t hold onto what has happened in the past, I can’t waste my time hating those who wronged me or lacked care, but instead I need to look forward, and be grateful that I am making huge strides in every aspect of my life. I am unconditionally loved and cared about, and I am blessed for the life I was given.

My experience has taught me many important things, including that you should never stop looking for help, especially if you don’t feel like you’re receiving the correct help. Whether the help is people or other resources. Most importantly, do not stop talking about whatever disorders you have, or how you feel, because if I hadn’t been so open with my boyfriend about all that I have gone through, or just telling him every single day how I honestly felt, he wouldn't have been to help me as much as he has because he simply wouldn’t have known ME; the raw-emotioned girl who just feels everything a little bit deeper.