mental health

Let Me Sing You A Song

I suck. I can barely keep the lights on for the one project that was not only a creative outlet for me but was a place where I felt I could be truly honest and open about myself, to myself and to you.

I used to think that my greatest motivator was pain and misery. You know, the stereotype for all creatives. Which by the way, I am not saying I am a creative. I aspire(ed) to be one but fail at it consistently. 

But to be serious for a moment, throughout my entire life, outside of my career, I felt like my best outputs were driven by my misery. To be even more specific, it was generally heartbreak. 

When I was in college, I wrote music. I wasn't an aspiring musician, but I just liked to do it for fun. I taught myself guitar and would play tunes and write what present-day me would consider cringe-worthy music. It was a lot of fun in retrospect, but at the time it was the saddest I ever was. Again, this was because I needed to be sad to write my songs. Not all of my songs had a sad feel to it, but I remember how I felt when I listen to these songs. 

For 4 years I was consistently playing and writing. I only performed songs for close friends and it was only at their request, and even then I had to be convinced because I kept this stuff very close to the vest. I shared some songs with friends, usually just lyrics, to get their input but I never posted the audio anywhere on the internet. 

I remember sitting in my room during sophomore year with my shitty blue acoustic guitar with Microsoft Word open and my digital camera recording. For the record, I never recorded my face because, that's a real quick way to feel vulnerable...seeing your true singing face, especially as you write sad songs.

I really hated the sound of my voice but I kept recording anyways. I had received some good feedback, but it was more just encouragement to just do me. I took any compliment I could get to help me overcome insecurities. Just to be clear, I still hate the sound of my voice but at this point, I know that there's nothing I can really do about it so I've just accepted it. 

Once college was over, I still had that drive to play music, but I wasn't able to write songs as easily and consistently as I had. I tried to type stuff out, but they might as well have just been extremely personal blog posts. Eventually, it just turned into full-blown writer's block, to which I still experience to this day when it comes to writing a song.

I keep asking myself, what was it? What really motivated me in college to write all these songs? I've experienced plenty of heartache/break since graduating college. There was no shortage of "motivation". There was plenty of emotional feels that I wanted to expel out of me.

I ended up just bottling things up. Never doing anything about anything while just letting myself suffer. 

Eventually everything caught up to me. I mentally broke down. I didn't have any sort of episode or panic attack (that I can recall), but I just felt emotionally fed up. My heart and soul could no longer take on additional weight. It was at this point I sought out talk therapy. 

Several months after I started talk therapy, I decided to start writing again, but this time for a blog. Now I've had several blogs in the past. The oldest going back to my very own Angelfire website (doesn't exist anymore so don't even bother looking for it on Google), to Xanga, then Blogger, then Tumblr, with a brief stint on Wordpress, to then Medium.

It was on Medium where I really hit my stride. I felt like I had a purpose. What really was the catalyst for me starting my Medium blog was experiencing the worst heartache I had ever felt in my life up until that point. I can confidently say that that moment is still the worst I have ever felt, at least in terms of love, dating, and romance. 

I was on a role with my Medium blog. I felt really good about it and eventually decided to get serious and buy a domain on Squarespace. I was implementing my vision by starting AnxiousAsianMan.com. I moved all of my old Medium posts onto my new page and then continued to write more content on a regular basis. 

I even added podcasting. Got into a really great groove with that for about 10-12 weeks. Then I got into a relationship. It was a bit of a rocky relationship. This relationship lasted about 5-6 months but during that time I didn't update my site once. When the relationship officially ended (I initiated the second, and final, breakup), I wasn't sad. I was more angry and disappointed in myself for letting certain things get to where they were. 

Since then I've tried to post a few times, I even underwent a site redesign. Personally, I'd like to redo my logo too, but...I don't even know where to start with that, to be honest. Anywho, since I started dating my last ex-girlfriend I have had virtually zero motivation to write new content. I had to force myself in the last few posts. 

I keep thinking maybe sadness and misery really are my only true motivators. I fully admit I started thinking about writing this post because I was feeling melancholy today.

I wish I could be motivated by things like "future gains" or "happiness" or "the greater good", but I'm not. I'm a shitty person with shitty, selfish, motivations. Might as well throw in cliché to that list too.

I want to write new blog posts and record new podcast episodes, but I don't want to be sad and miserable all the time to do so. I want to be content and talk about things without the sadness filter. 

Full transparency, I haven't gone to therapy in over a month. Not because I don't want to go, but because my therapist is on maternity leave. I think I underestimated how much I value my time with her. There's a lot that I would normally talk to her about that I've just kept to myself the last month or so and I need to find a way to release some of the tension. I say this only because I know there are people out there who just bottle everything up like I have done/am doing right now. And while it may work for some of you, it's not a long-term solution. 

I think I'm going to start forcing myself to post on a regular basis. Even at the expense of quality (because my shit is fire, amirite?...please don't answer that question!). I've noticed the last few years I have been lacking discipline in general. I want to be better. I need to be better. I will be better.

Thanks again for reading. I will reward/punish you by embedding one of my OG song recordings from over a decade ago. This is just as embarrassing for me to post as it will be for you to listen. I just ask that you keep in mind I was but a boy when I wrote and recorded this and knew even less about life than I do now. This is also the first song I wrote where I attempted self-harmonization. You know, just to really make sure I embarrass myself. 

Enjoy.

YMMV

*This entry was originally posted on Medium on January 6, 2017*

In my first post, I mentioned that I was testing out a text-based therapy app, Talkspace. I had briefly mentioned how I used it and in a subsequent post I decided that the app was ultimately not what I needed. Since then I had cancelled my membership and have ignored all of Talkspace’s attempts to get me to subscribe again.

I’d like to go into more detail on my experience with the app.

This past summer I decided to test out Talkspace after seeing many ads for it on the subway. I have to say, as someone that works in the advertising industry, when an ad is relevant to you it really does stick…

Once you sign in for the first time, you’re connected with someone who administers a few preliminary questions so they get a sense of what your needs are, or that’s how I understood the process to be. After you answer the questions, they invite a dedicated therapist to the chat and from that point on you have a closed chat room where you two can talk privately.

My therapist mentioned up front her schedule and said that she would, at a minimum, chat with me twice a day during the weekdays and was off on the weekends. That was fine with me given the price I was paying was a fraction of the cost of an in-person therapist.

I signed up for a 3 months subscription to start and would make my decision to continue or cancel after 3 months.

The first month and a half were decent. We had good chats and it was nice to have an outlet for me when I was feeling anxious.

I have to preface that at this point in my life, I was not seeing an in-person therapist. In my first post I had mentioned that my first therapist had to stop seeing his patients and at the time I thought I was able to manage my stress/anxiety/depression on my own. Those things started to surface up again but instead of having to hunt for a new in-person therapist, I decided to try Talkspace out.

Funny enough, around the halfway point of my time on Talkspace, my online therapist messages me saying that they have to transfer my account to another therapist because they were taking a more administrative role at Talkspace, whatever that means.

My second Talkspace therapist was…okay. I found myself repeating myself many times…on a text based app that doesn’t delete old messages. I was asked twice if I was having suicidal ideations (FYI: I have never), and there were times where I just didn’t have anything to say so I didn’t communicate anything.

It wasn’t until I decided to cancel my subscription that they reached out to me again. Nonstop. That was months ago and I still get emails.

At the end of the day, Talkspace is a business. And like all businesses, its goal is to make money. Therapists are asked to upsell to more premium live video chat packages, longer term subscriptions, etc.

If a patient is inactive, they don’t bother reaching out as long as the account is still active and subscription fees are still paid.

At first my issue with Talkspace was the service from the therapists themselves, but I realized that this kind of interaction was not what I needed.

I found myself editing my messages and making sure I was fully communicating how I was feeling, but what was missing from the interactions were my unedited gut reactions. A good in-person therapist can react to your body language, your facial expressions, your eye movement, your tone of voice. While we call it mental health, the state that we’re in mentally manifests physically.

I read this article about Talkspace on The Verge a couple weeks ago and it was actually eye opening.

I’m not going to go deep into and recap the article. I think if you’ve ever considered Talkspace, or still are, you should absolutely read this article.

The piece goes into the quality of the service, and the fine line that the company walks regarding privacy and ethics.

Personally, I will never again use the service, but I came to that conclusion prior to this article. It wasn’t what I needed. Now I know I made the right decision.

See for yourself.

These Pretzles are Making Me Thirsty!

*This entry was originally posted on Medium on December 16, 2016*

I was reading this blog post on Scientific American where the headline reads (link included):

Psychiatrists Must Face Possibility That Medications Hurt More Than They Help

12% of adult Americans take antidepressants, according to research published in Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine

“Mental health has declined as prescriptions for antidepressants and other drugs keep surging”

I feel like the current rhetoric is that antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication aren’t working. While it’s possible, I feel like many people are also misdiagnosed.

Chemically we are all very different and some people may metabolize certain medications better than others.

More pressure needs to be put on psychiatrists and doctors who can prescribe such medications. Not that I think they are prescribing haphazardly.

I take an antidepressant and I have anti-anxiety medication. I was very adverse to medication, but the nurse practitioner at my primary care clinic got me to try it. She also suggested that I take a GeneSight test.

I don’t know know the technical details behind the test but it’s a DNA test and they analyze your DNA to see which medications work best for you.

It’s amazing! They color code the medications by type (antidepressants, antipsychotics, etc) with green, yellow, and red. Green meaning it can be taken as usual, yellow meaning certain tweaks need to be made to the dosage, and red which for the most part means you shouldn’t take that medication.

Not a lot of people are aware of this test, from what I can tell.

I don’t see a psychiatrist, so my therapist didn’t say anything but I found out from my primary care.

If you have a primary care clinic that you go to and are curious, ask them.

I got the impression that prescribing medication was closer to guesswork than science. But with this test, there’s science behind it that you can generally understand.

I haven’t been on my medications for too long to come to any real conclusions but they seem to work. I don’t experience some of the problems that I had that were debilitating. I don’t feel dull and I still experience my emotions, but I can manage them better.

Medication has helped me, in conjunction with regular therapy.

There is no ‘one size fits all' solution to mental health, nor should there be. It’s incumbent on both the patient and doctor to make an effort to identify and understand what the problems and symptoms are and to come up with a plan of attack together.

I hate reading about people saying medication or therapy don’t work. Just because it doesn’t work for one person, doesn’t mean it won’t work for another.

End rant.

Sleepless in BedStuy

*This entry was originally posted on Medium on December 10, 2016*

If you tell the truth about how you’re feeling, it becomes funny.
-Larry David

So if you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’m big on mental health. It’s something that I believe needs to be talked about more openly.

I’m not saying that we need to talk about our personal issues out in public, but if it’s normal for people to say that they “need to lose weight” or “are out of shape” then it should be just as normal or OK to say when we’re feeling sad, depressed, or anxious.

emokid.jpeg

There’s a stigma to mental health. Typically a lot of judgement or perceived judgement is associated with it. There’s the “emo” stereotype. There’s the term “mental” to negatively describe someone. I’ve even read posts/articles about how people shouldn’t call others “crazy”. This last one I’ve got some issues with, but it has less to do with the mental health aspect and more to do with PC culture. Will have to dive into that another time. But even people you wouldn’t suspect actually suffer from depression.

Anxiety and depression affect more people than most realize. I am not armed with any statistics (which makes me feel very vulnerable right now…I like having good data to support any claims) but so many people don’t even admit that they might have a mental disorder.

It might just be because they don’t know. I think that’s probably the most logical reason, because education around mental health is so poor. Maybe it’s better now…I haven’t stepped inside a classroom in many years. I’m more than 10 years removed from high school and we definitely did NOT learn much about mental health.

I’ve always had trouble falling asleep because when I close my eyes when I go to bed, my brain goes into hyperdrive and a lot of thoughts just surface up. I over think and over analyze everything.

I don’t hate going to sleep, because who doesn’t like going to sleep? But I do often go to sleep with anxiety knowing that I will have difficulty falling asleep.

I know I’m not alone in this. I also don’t know how to accurately put into words what I experience. I admit I’m bad at explaining things.

Having difficulty sleeping is a physical issue, but physical and mental health is so intertwined that the state of one impacts the other.

I need to learn to chill and meditate. Headspace doesn’t work for me. Self hypnosis is very difficult to achieve (but I try). I don’t drink a lot so I don’t like to have night caps.

I am trying to embrace my hyperactive brain and overall restlessness. Maybe accepting will help me sleep. We shall see!

Self-Sabotoge

*This entry was originally posted on Medium on November 23, 2016*

Have you ever purposefully made yourself busy for the sole purpose of forgetting about something that bothers you?

I find myself doing that a lot these days.

Whether it’s going on long walks, reading, drowning myself in music, going to a new place, trying a new restaurant, going out every night to have a drink and play pool, or eating until I enter a food coma, etc.

I’ve been obsessed with finding new hobbies this year because I’ve been desperate to get out of my apartment when I feel trapped, which unfortunately is often. I tried to learn woodworking. I tried to pick photography back up. I tried writing. I tried music. I kept trying different things but none of them seemed to stick.

I realized that I can’t silo my life. Everything that I do, everything I know, and everyone I know, can be tied back to a single idea, person, or emotion.

I try so hard to find something new to do that seeming has no connection with something I don’t want to think about or be reminded of, yet somehow my brain finds a way to make a meaningful connection.

As soon as that happens I lose interest in that hobby. It’s my brain telling me to stop because if I continue down this path I will just be reminded of things I don’t want to think about.

At first I thought, ‘hey that’s kind of cool’. I DON’T want to think about these things. But as time passed I realized that this was happening for everything.

What was once a defense mechanism all of a sudden became a source of more anxiety.

How does one deal with that? When your own methods work against you. I was sabotaging myself and it was getting increasingly frustrating.

I don’t have an answer. I’m not asking for an answer either. I just decided that I have to deal with it head on. Meaning, choose one hobby and actively pursue it no matter what feelings, thoughts, or memories it brings up.

The past couple weeks I’ve been working closely with a friend to concept a podcast. We’ve conducted two interviews for material and we meet regularly to work on it. We both have day jobs but it’s nice to have a project to work on outside of work.

I don’t want to share too much because we still have a ton of work to do, but I’m genuinely excited to work on this project. I can’t wait to share the first episode, although timing is still very much TBD. I’ll share updates periodically on my various social channels.

Learning to Cope

*This entry was originally posted on Medium as "(Still) Learning to Cope" on October 8, 2016*

I’ve been thinking a lot about coping.

Specifically, I’ve been doing a mental audit of how I cope with various situations. I wanted to see if I could find any consistencies or irregularities in how I handle them. Knowing that there are way too many different situations to consider, I oversimplified it by creating two buckets. Work and Life.

Lets take a look…

Work: If there’s a huge deliverable at work, if something is wrong, or if there is a fire drill, my natural instinct is to just focus on getting that particular task done and ignore all non-essential tasks. One thing I think about during those times is how I’m going to deliver that work.

Just like Panera Bread, You Pick Two

Just like Panera Bread, You Pick Two

On this chart here is a terribly illustrated version of a simplified project management triangle.

You can only choose 2 out of 3. At my old job I got alignment with my management that this is how we would handle urgent requests, but not all of my problems can be managed in this manner.

So to summarize how I cope with stress at work, I try to overcome it by working hard and focusing on the things that will help me deliver the best possible output.

Life: When life gets tough, I put my head down and I work extra hard and focu…oh wait. No I don’t. This one is a bit more complicated. Everyday I find myself in situations that I’ve faced countless times where those coping mechanisms are second nature. But I also face new situations on a regular basis as I live my life (as we all should!).

There are some situations that I find myself in regularly that I’ve been coping with but realized that my coping mechanisms just seemed to stop working. This coincided with my sudden anxiety flare ups late last year. There’s obviously a connection, and it’s been the question that I’ve been trying to answer for the last 10 months.

I find it so fascinating how we as people teach ourselves different coping mechanisms for similar situations. I’m not surprised because we’re all different and unique, but it’s just so amazing how our brains work.

I started going to therapy regularly again, different from the one I had earlier this year. My new therapist is great. I have probably already talked about her but her approach is what I need. She challenges me and provides different perspectives that I wouldn’t normally think about. Which is funny because one of my bad habits is to think about every possible negative outcome in situations.

In recent past I was a more resistant to medication. I didn’t really have any sound reasons as to why, but it was mostly based on not knowing what it would actually do to me. I had just started a new job and wasn’t sure when the insurance was going to kick in too so I delayed the process. I was also afraid of developing dependencies, but I spoke with my doctor and we decided to ease into it and try some things out to see how I would react.

There was also a more scientific approach to it. I won’t go into too much detail but it’s this thing called a GeneSight genetic test, and it basically tells you which medications work best for you based on your genetics. It’s actually pretty cool and I’d be happy to talk more about if if you’d like. If you know me personally, ping me or just leave a comment.

Anyway…therapy, books, medication, these things are not the solution. They are supposed to help me on my journey to figure out how to cope, but that journey has been rocky. I repeatedly make the same mistakes and I have developed some bad habits the last 4–5 months.

I won’t say that I’ve regressed since my first post, but I certainly haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked.

I had a lot of ambitions this summer. I had plans to go see this thing, hang out with thatperson, explore this area, try this food, build a coffee table, donate a bunch of clothes, learn self hypnosis, run more often, read all of my half read books, go to the beach, and so on.

To summarize what actually happened in a paragraph, I turned 30, saw some things, hung out with some people, didn’t really explore, ate the same food, didn’t build a coffee table, didn’t donate clothes but did put clothes to donate in a bag (halfway there), failed to teach myself self hypnosis, ran twice, started new books that have also only been half read to add to my collection of half read books, and didn’t set foot on a beach.

depressed george.jpeg

Summer is obviously over now, and while I’ve done some of the things I wanted to do, I didn’t really enjoy summer to it’s full potential. Like Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth”. Suffice to say I was psychologically punched in the mouth this summer. I must have done something wrong, right?

tyson.jpeg

According to my therapist, I tend to blame myself for a lot of things. Sometimes it really is my fault, but other times I just point the finger at myself because it’s easier and I don’t have to involve others.

She says that I don’t get upset enough. Not in the sense that I need to be upset, or she suggest that I do. She was just reinforcing the fact that I have a bad habit of putting myself at fault for most of my challenges, for lack of a better term.

I really wanted this summer to go exactly as planned. I was going to kick it off by turning 30 and start the next stage of my life. Early middle age. But I got caught up in non-sense and I chased ghosts. I exhausted so much of my time and energy, both physical and mental, to things that I shouldn’t have.

I don’t want to discount the great times I had this summer either. I don’t mean to down play or diminish the significance of who I hung out with and what I did. I mean, I got a new job outside of the agency world which is something I’ve been wanting for a while, and I did go to Amsterdam and Croatia at the beginning of September that was one of the best trips I’ve been on to-date. To all of my friends and family that spent their time with me and put up with my bullshit this summer, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

this isn’t a subject that is always broached with my family, I know they support me and are there. I’ve also got a great group of friends who are very supportive and are there for me too. Is it sad that I have to constantly remind myself of this? Probably.

All that said, I’m still learning to cope with anxiety, depression, and well…pretty much everything else. I’m still very much committed to self improvement the rest of this year and beyond. I have to come to terms with reality and just really dig in and focus on what is truly important to me, focus on what I truly care about, and let bygones be bygones.

 

Mental Health

*This entry was originally posted on Medium on July 5, 2016*

What is mental health? Before I go into my entry, I would like to share with you a definition and some facts from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO’s definition of mental health is:

“A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”

Here are some random facts on mental health (from WHO):

  1. Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems
  2. Mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide
  3. Mental disorders are important risk factors for other diseases, as well as unintentional and intentional injury
  4. Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care
  5. Globally, there is huge inequity in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health

There are 5 key barriers to increasing mental health services availability (also from WHO):

  • The absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding
  • The current organization of mental health services
  • Lack of integration within primary care
  • Inadequate human resources for mental health
  • Lack of public mental health leadership

Being someone who is seeking information on mental health, I’m shocked at the lack of attention paid to it. Sure, there is a lot of information online but there are so many opinions. Who is right? Is there a right answer? I assume no because as far as I know, nobody has truly figured out how the brain works.

Mental disorders of all kinds impact so many people. Yet it is seemingly swept under the rug. It is not viewed as a legitimate issue. People tend to shy away from the unknown and there is a lot we do not know/understand about our psyche.

The last six to seven months I have been trying to educate myself on mental health because I have reached a stage in my life where I am dealing with certain anxieties and stresses and realize that I have no real method of coping. I realize that I do not truly understand what these things are and it is really upsetting.

I have always had this baseline level of anxiety that, to me, seemed completely normal. I just assumed everyone had that same baseline, and to a degree I still think that. There is no person that is devoid of anxiety as every human being in this world goes through ups and downs. That’s just…life.

But what I did not realize growing up was that people experience anxiety in vastly different ways and in, equally, different levels of intensity. In my household, we never talked about mental health. Physical health on the other hand was discussed all the time. I was overweight as a child and remained overweight until I was about halfway done with university. My parents always wanted me to lose weight.

Maybe it’s a Korean thing, but when seeing relatives, there is always a criticism that they share with you, about you. And it’s usually based on your physical attributes. Or if you are of a certain age (18 or older) they will start asking if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend. I digress, as this alone could be a whole other topic that I can touch upon another time.

Back to physical health. Long story short, when it came to health, that is all that mattered, or at least that is all that was taught to me. Sure, in high school health class we talked about mental health, depression, anxiety, etc. But it was so out of context for me. I even joked about it.

My senior year quote was, “Depression is like trying to slay a dragon with a plastic knife.” I did not use that quote because of the content. I chose it because of who said it (a guy from the class below mine that had a penchant for saying odd/funny things), not because of what it actually meant to me. At that time of my life, it meant nothing. I was not depressed. I did not even really know what depression was at that point.

Fast forward twelve years and here I am, a week into my thirties and am almost as clueless about mental health as I was back in high school. The main difference between now and then is that I have experienced more in life and seemingly have more self awareness than my younger self.

In the last year and a half I have experienced more significant change in my personal life since I graduated from university. My relationship with my girlfriend ended, I left the company where I started my career and worked for six years, and I realized that I experience and possibly suffer from several forms of anxiety.

I had mentioned before that I always felt that I had a baseline level of anxiety that was considered normal. Normal in the sense that it is something everyone has and experiences. I couldn’t tell you exactly when but, as if some mysterious force flicked a switch in my brain, my anxiety levels elevated and have not come back down.

Sure, I have good days (even weeks) where I am completely happy and feel on top of the world. But I more often feel the complete opposite.

For illustrative purposes

Six to seven months ago I decided it was time for me to seek professional help in the form of therapy. The problem was, I did not know where to look. How does someone that essentially knows nothing about mental health find the right help? Do I need a psychiatrist or a psychologist? What is the difference? What kind of therapy do I need? I had so many questions.

I was lucky enough to meet a new friend who shared with me their experiences and they were actually the catalyst for me to start going to therapy. Without going into too much detail, having someone to talk to that has also has gone through or is going through similar things is eye opening.

I logged onto ZocDoc and found a place that took my insurance and I set up an appointment. I had my first session on December 30, 2015.

For four and a half months I saw my therapist once every week. At the time I could not say whether he was good or not because he was my first therapist. I had zero expectations.

I would go into the sessions and he would ask things like, “how are you feeling?” or “what has been bothering you?”

Therapy cannot work if you are not honest with yourself and your therapist. I thought it was going to be really difficult to open up but I surprisingly found it easy to just talk freely and openly. Maybe because I knew it was a complete stranger who’s purpose in my life was to listen and help resolve my issues.

I learned a few things. I learned some breathing exercises to help calm myself down and relax. I learned that I need to not use my phone late at night before I go to bed. I learned that I need to be honest with myself.

Unfortunately my time with this particular therapist ended abruptly. I received a call from the owner of the practice saying that my therapist could no longer see his patients. The woman on the phone was actually quite rude and then asked if I wanted to see another therapist from the practice. I declined. I decided to take a little break and see if I could apply the things I learned to my daily routine (as I had been practicing) and see if I could deal with things on my own.

I lasted two months. My anxiety level shot up and I was having a really hard time coping. I was having panic attacks on a regular basis and I actually went backwards. I reverted to bad habits. I put strains on relationships and I was the most miserable as I had ever been.

To be honest, I don’t know why I’m typing in the past tense. This is happening to me now. In the present.

I am at a point in my life where I am open to trying new things that have the potential to improve my quality of life such as online therapy via Talkspace.

talkspace.jpeg

If you are not familiar with Talkspace, it is an online/mobile therapy app. You chat with a consultation therapist and answer some questions. You are then assigned a dedicated therapist whom you speak with in a private chat. The service of course is not free, there is a monthly or quarterly subscription model.

My experiences with Talkspace, to-date, have been okay at best. I signed up for a quarterly subscription so am committing to 3 months. It is a place for me to just type away how I am feeling at any given moment. The therapist will then respond back to you. What I really like is that it logs the conversations and you can just go back to see what was discussed as reference.

The challenge is that I find myself editing what I type. It is not the same as if I was just talking with a therapist in person. It is also hard because you do not get instant feedback. I never know exactly when my therapist will respond, but usually within 24 hours during weekdays. Weekends they log off but I can message them freely at anytime.

Time will tell if Talkspace is effective.

I started seeing an in-person therapist again as of two weeks ago although they don’t take insurance (another barrier to treatment). I entered the session with at least some expectations having gone to therapy in recent past. I realized that my last therapist did not really challenge me. I talked and talked and he offered up some suggestions, but never really dug deep. This new therapist is incredibly engaging and she really digs into the things I say, which I enjoy. It is uncomfortable at first, but is that not the point? To get away from our normal habits and really challenge ourselves…

I have also tried hypnotherapy. Now I cannot tell you what hypnotherapy is exactly but I really enjoyed my single experience. I ended up feeling extremely relaxed and had the best night of sleep in over a year. The idea is to train yourself to self-induce hypnosis. I have not gotten to that point yet though.

Source: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Source: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Throughout the last few months I have come to realize that I take some things really personally. Things that I did not take personally in the past. I keep asking myself why? Why do I let certain things bother me so much? Why do I care so much about X/Y/Z?

I realize that I need to develop a new way of thinking and learn new ways to cope with my anxieties. This requires immense effort because I essentially have to create new neural pathways in my brain.

I am quickly figuring out that this journey I am on does not have an end. I do not mean that in an ominous way. I mean it in the sense that we are always changing and we need to be mentally fit to adapt.

I want to share my journey because one of the problems within our society is the overall lack of conversation around mental health, yet people talk about their weight-loss journeys all the time or their daily CrossFit workouts. I recognize there is a stigma with mental health but I genuinely feel that we need to be more open about it.

I am not spilling my guts to you. I am not giving you the details that I would otherwise only share with my therapist. That said, I am not in a place to talk about mental health objectively because it is so personal to me.

I admit that this entry has been in my draft box for almost a month now. It has been edited so many times because I was not sure if I was sharing too much, or not enough. I cared too much about how people would perceive me based on assumptions that I made up in my head. That is a really dangerous thing to do.

At the end of the day I know that there are many others that are going through similar experiences, and many more that have it way worse than I do.

My goal is to share the things that I learn on my journey. If I am advocating for more openness and conversation about mental health, I should start with myself.

I welcome a dialogue. If you have any suggestions or feedback for me, please leave a comment.