I first recognized that I felt “different” at the age of 8. At the time, I had no idea why - I just knew. I had a positive childhood, but couldn’t help but notice that I felt sad or worried about everyday situations. At the time, I didn’t attribute it to depression or anxiety because I was unaware that these words even existed. I ended up getting mad at myself for not being able to shake the feeling.
These feelings progressed until college, because I was still uneducated about mental health. Additionally, in high school people would judge and negatively gossip if they found out that others experienced mental health issues or were on medication. It wasn’t for years that I had the confidence to speak openly about how I was feeling, and realized that there are medical reasons behind why I feel the way that I do.
Throughout my life, I have lost so many people to suicide and addiction. Some of these people were still in grade school. At least in my case, I wish that mental health was taught more widely so that young kids are able to realize that their struggles may be attributed to mental health, and know they are not alone and can find resources and others who relate or can help. My story and their stories are what make me want to continue to vocalize these messages. Not only to help break the stigma, but bring awareness to mental health in general for those who may not understand it.
In college, I had a traumatic incident happen that added a layer of PTSD. Additionally, I realized in therapy that I blamed myself for this incident for years. I was also able to attribute this incident to my lack of self-love and self-worth. It wasn’t until last year that I recognized this correlation. I was also in an abusive relationship that contributed to my lack of self worth that I blamed myself for for far too long. This is why I had the panic attack in Mexico. I had shared this with Nick, and because I blamed myself for it, I was scared he would blame me for it as well and think differently of me. Now that I have worked through it, my self-worth and self-love has drastically increased and I feel silly for thinking he would ever judge me for it. I shared with him additional traumatic experiences that had happened throughout my life and I was scared that all of this baggage could be too much for another person to handle after such a quick engagement. Having to be filmed during this moment only led to increased anxiety and contributed to the reason we both asked to leave the show.
I had PTSD for years, and didn’t realize why so many “normal” interactions or instances would trigger me or cause me to have panic attacks or increased anxiety. I always minimized my own experiences and traumas by comparing them to others and thinking that there are always others who had it worse. This only caused more self loathing and stopped me from fully getting the help I needed to overcome my challenges.
Knowing that there are so many realizations I had later on in life, that I would have really benefited from understanding earlier, is another reason that this communication is important to me.
I didn’t see a psychiatrist until I spoke openly about the complexities of how I was feeling. I was first put on SSRIs which negatively impacted me both mentally and physically. (All medications interact with people differently, but so many people benefit from SSRIs)
It wasn’t until I ended up doing a DNA test that was able to look into both my DNA and liver enzymes that I realized there are certain medications that not only have adverse effects mentally, but are toxic to my body physically. Finally I was finally properly medicated with SNRIs because I have short serotonin receptors and am missing certain enzymes that 99% of the population have, that make certain medications very harmful to my body. (My test was called Genesight and I did it through my psychiatrist's office).
Therapy, psychiatrists, and guided self-love and anxiety workbooks helped drastically. I also found that finding positive outlets or hobbies while experiencing increased depression or anxiety helps me in the moment. My favorite is writing down my feelings metaphorically. I have written songs since I was young about how I was feeling and it not only helps in the moment, but helps me when I go back and re-read them. I also find that lavender, deep breathing (into lavender essential oils), baths, cooking and doing other things I enjoy helps. Again - everyone's ways of coping are different but I found my own unique ways to help myself.
Mental health isn’t linear. It is a constant journey with ups and downs, but being able to recognize the triggers or continue to learn about the medical and emotional nuances about my own brain and thoughts has been incredibly helpful. Everyone's journey, ways of coping, etc will always be different and I hope everyone finds theirs.
There are also many resources for those struggling financially provided by amazing charities. More info below:
There are resources available 24/7. Text IDM to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can find more 24/7 resources, including international resources at idontmind.com/findhelp and mhanational.org/finding-help. If you’ve been struggling with your mental health and aren’t sure where to start, you can take a mental health screen at idontmind.com/screen. It’s free, anonymous, and confidential."
After hearing a small portion of my story you may ask:
Why would you go on this show with a history of depression and anxiety?
I was in the best place mentally since I can remember before deciding to go on the show, but that was an ignorant thought to have knowing the ups and downs I have experienced throughout my life.
I had two psych evals, in which I was honest, because I didn’t want to put myself in a situation in which I couldn’t handle. I trusted the therapist’s opinion in deciding it was not a bad idea.
I thought there were going to be therapists on set.
I genuinely thought that this was a concept that would work for me, and while rocky, it proved to be true.
I was extremely ignorant to how reality tv shows actually work, I thought I was just going to be able to be myself with hidden cameras around. If I had any idea what actually happens to create these shows I would not have participated.
Once I realized I was not mentally fit to participate in this type of environment, and noticed it was already negatively impacting my mental health, I was transparent with everyone who worked for the show in saying that I knew this would bring me back to a dark place I worked so hard to dig myself out of. Nick and I wanted to leave together, but ultimately did not.
After filming wrapped I felt so low from how the experience was, I worked every single day with multiple psychiatrists, therapists and with my own workbooks to dig myself out of the hole participating in this experience put me in. Knowing that I was in such a low place, but was able to dig myself out of it, is another reason communicating this is important. I really didn’t know if I would get through it or not. However, it lead me to ultimately being able to fulfill my biggest goal in being able to help others feel not alone. Something I have always tried doing with strangers and friends, but now can on a broader scale. Sometimes the most difficult times are there for a reason in able to achieve what you are meant to do and I do feel lucky to be in the place I am now.