Anatomy of Recovery

I'm Jules, a 23 year old recent college graduate, currently working and applying for grad school. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was 14. I'm 100% committed to recovery because I know how amazing it can be. This blog is about my journey and any help and inspiration I can offer others on their own journeys.
I tag all my personal pics "julespic" so that you can block the tag if you find them triggering. I also tag all photos of food with the "food" tag in case they are triggering to you.

Ask Me Anything

1 2 3 Next
Theme by @yosoyprincesa.
"Do you find hypomania to be a problem for you?" With love, Anonymous.

I get hypomania sometimes, but it tends not to be frequent or severe enough to become very problematic.  The medication that I’m on only treats the depressive part of bipolar, so my doctors don’t tend to think that the hypomania requires treatment particularly.  It’s good for me to be aware of when it’s happening so that I can make sure to keep my sleep and monetary spending in check.  Sometimes I become frustrated very easily, which can be problematic in relationships.  Mostly awareness, mindfulness, and communication help me around the hypomania.  However, many people may experience much more severe symptoms than I do.

When I guy says he’s “into bipolar girls”…

Lol, bye!

"Jules, I am freaking out and don't have anyone else to turn to. I started myself in an intensive outpatient program this week because my depression was awful and I couldn't do it on my own anymore. Today was my 2nd day and I met with the psychiatrist of the program. We are not 100% yet, but there is a possibility that I am actually bipolar II. This scares me so effin much. My outside psych who thought I had just depression told me I probably wouldn't always have to be on medication but... (cont'" With love, Anonymous.

.. with Bipolar II thats like a diagnosis that as I read more about is a life long disease that will always need treatment. Jules what is wrong with me? I feel this diagnosis would be absolutely horrible & classify me as crazy & unfixable which I already thought before but this solidifies it. I am beside myself. I feel like I am never going to function normally & am always going to fuck up relationships& no boy is ever going to be with my fucked up self and I am not going to b able to have a fam

cont…(pt 3) What do bipolar II drugs do? I know they are called mood stabilizers. But that scares me? If I do have to go on them are they going to make me an emotionless person. Am I ever going to be able to know what genuine happiness is? I feel so fucking hopeless and ruined. I don’t mean for this to be triggering but I don’t know who else to ask but do these drugs like lamictal … have they caused weight gain in themselves? I can’t handle this. It hurts. This diagnosis. I am crazy.

Hi hon, I really wanted to respond to this because it sounds like you’re really freaked out right now.  I wanted to address a few things for you and for other readers who might be diagnosed with Bipolar I or Bipolar II, although I’ll specifically be discussing Bipolar II in this case.  There’s a lot of really harmful misinformation and prejudice out there about mental health diagnoses, often about things like bipolar disorder.  Just from the start of this answer, I wanted to classify some of the stereotypes you bring up as valid things to worry about, because all feelings are valid, but as primarily products of the culture rather than things that are native to bipolar disorder.  Around 40-50% of people who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder are eventually reclassified as falling somewhere on the bipolar spectrum.

Getting the diagnosis of bipolar 2 doesn’t change anything about you as a person except for the quality of care that you get.  You’re the same person, experiencing the same symptoms as you were before, but now you have a new vocabulary to use for expressing how you feel.  There are forms of therapy that may be more suited to bipolar, which you wouldn’t have been getting with a depression diagnosis.  They may also try a different set of medications because depression medications might not have been helpful.

Bipolar disorder and depression also come in different levels of severity and these may change through an individual’s lifetime.  Severe untreated depression is just as debilitating as severe untreated bipolar disorder.  Both can interfere with things like relationships, but that’s why you address them and find the treatments that work.  If you truly have bipolar 2 rather than depression, you’re giving yourself a much better chance at finding happiness by identifying the things that can help rather than going on being treated incorrectly for depression.

While some people might be prejudiced about having a relationship with a person who is diagnosed with a mental illness, this is certainly not true of all people and it’s not true just for bipolar disorder.  Treatment for mental illness often makes people incredibly self aware, able to communicate emotions effectively, and in-tune with their needs.  All of these things are very important in relationships.  So no, this doesn’t mean that you will ruin every relationship any more than anyone else messes up relationships.  It might feel like that, especially because now you have a label to put on it, but the secret is that everyone is messy at relationships.  It might be weird to say this, but people have definitely fallen in love with me and had long term relationships with me since I was diagnosed with bipolar 2.  Some people with bipolar 2 have trouble with interpersonal relationships, but so do some people with major depression.  Again, getting a correct diagnosis and treatment are the best way to deal with this.

As for medications, there are a number of different types of medications that are used to treat bipolar 2.  I’ve been on SSRI medications, which are sometimes used to treat bipolar 2, especially when combined with lithium, which I haven’t been on.  But mainly, I’ve been treated with lamictal, which was originally a drug to treat seizures.  It mainly treats the depressive part of bipolar 2, so my up moods stay up but it helps the depression.  This works better for bipolar 2 than bipolar 1 because bipolar 2 tends to be more depression predominant and an individual doesn’t enter complete mania.  I have never felt better for a period of time than I have on lamictal, and that’s after 10 years of being on and off of various depression treatments.  I don’t feel like it numbs my emotions out at all.  I feel that depression numbs out my emotions.  Everyone experiences medications differently, but that’s what I’ve felt.  My medication has not caused weight gain.  There are some other anti-seizure drugs that have higher risks in terms of physical health and can sometimes cause weight gain.  It depends on the person and the medication, but you can work with a psychiatrist to make sure you find something that works for you.  Mood stabilizer is just a term that is used— it doesn’t mean that they will impair your ability to feel emotions.  Medication is often used during an episode, then in a 6-12 month continuation period, and a 1-2 year maintenance phase, although some continue this phase.  A lot of people recommend that you continue therapy for maintenance, but many people are in therapy and if it makes you functional, it’s just an hour out of your week.

How you face this and deal with it are going to have a lot more to do with your relationships, future family, job, etc., than the change in diagnosis will.  I’m wishing you all the best and I hope you can come to peace with whatever happens diagnostically.  Facing something and seeking treatment is the most important thing.  You can absolutely live a full life.  You can have a family, love, a job.  I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder a year ago and I’ve never felt more stable and able to feel happiness.

When you have to choose between therapy/psychiatrist/nutritionist/groups/ED Primary Care and geneticist/physiatrist/physical therapist/occupational therapist/pain clinic because there just isn’t enough damn time to do them all and every one thinks they are the most important.

"I don't know if this is too personal but I need advice. I have tried numerous medications for depression all that have not worked out for me. How do you know if the diagnosis of depression is right or if it could be something else like bi polar? Have you ever been misdiagnosed? If so did the wrong medication effect you? Can I ask you what you take now and how you feel about it? I feel so hopeless right now. Everything they give me stimulates me. I can't sleep anymore. Is any of this even real" With love, Anonymous.

Everyone responds differently to medication, so people often have to try many things before they find something that works for them.  I was diagnosed with depression for many years before they decided that bipolar 2 was a possibility, but my psychiatrist had explored the option of trying drugs for the depression part of bipolar even before we began to explore that.  It’s still not an absolutely definitive diagnosis for me.  These things are often really hard to tease out.  If you think that your depression might be something else, bring it up with your psychiatrist.  What tipped them off for me was that I had periods of very elevated mood, extreme agitation/frustration, and low levels of sleep that were markedly different from other parts of my experience in life.  Again, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think there’s something else going on.

I’ve been on a lot of different medications over the years and I don’t want folks to think that just because something didn’t work for me or gave me side effects that it wouldn’t be perfect for them, but I’ll answer your question.  I’ve been on every SSRI that’s currently on the market.  I never really noticed a change in my mood while I was on them.  They either made me really sleepy or have insomnia.  According to my doctors at the time, there tends to be a spectrum of how sleepy to awake the different drugs make you feel.  I don’t remember now which ones did which because it was a really long time ago.  I think citalopram had the fewest side effects because I was on it for the longest.  I was also on trazadone, which didn’t do much for me in terms of improving sleep, but this might have been because I was at a low weight when I was using it and nothing was making me sleep.  I was on amytriptaline, which is a tricyclic antidepressant for about a year and a half.  I think that it was improving my mood but it gave me side effects like tremors and increased my tachycardia, so we eventually transitioned off of that once I had something else that worked.  

Currently I take lamotrogine (lamictal), which was originally designed as an anti-seizure medication and is used to treat the depression part of bipolar.  I think that this is the medication that really helped turn things around for me and has helped the most out of all the antidepressants that I’ve tried.  However, it comes with the risk of a very dangerous skin rash, especially if you try to increase the dosage too quickly.  I never had a problem with that.  It does make my dreams more vivid, which doesn’t seem to interfere with my sleep but can be upsetting.  It interacts with birth control medications, which my psychiatrist didn’t know and luckily my PCP did.  Basically, birth control increases the dose that you would need to take to get the same effect so when I do a placebo week, my dose spikes.  I don’t do a placebo week anymore to avoid side effects.  I also take propranolol, which is a beta blocker.  I take this for my tachycardia but it’s also prescribed for anxiety.  I LOVE this medication.  I think it’s been fabulous for me because it helps control the physical effects associated with anxiety and then I can get the mental stuff more under control.  I have never had side effects with this medication, although some people find that it interferes with sleep and that they may want to take it earlier in the day.  I also take klonopin at bedtime.  I was prescribed it for acute anxiety, but I find that I rarely need it during the day and end up taking the dose at night to help with sleep.  

Again, just because I had something work for me or had side effects from something doesn’t mean that you’ll have a similar experience. I’m certainly not a doctor, so these are just my experiences and what I know about these medications.  Even when things are working, sometimes you need to switch them up.  For example, my lamictal was working for a really long time but recently my depression increased significantly so we upped my dose and we’re waiting to see if that helps.  The next step would be trying seroquil if this doesn’t work out.  There’s always hope and always new medications that your doctor can try.  If your doctor isn’t willing to explore options with you, you can always get a second opinion. I have been trying medications for over 10 years and only recently started having success when my doctors started thinking outside the box a little.  Best of luck with your medication.  Don’t lose hope.  I never thought I would find the right medication either. <3

Suzanne CollinsMockingjay (via feellng)

(Source: feellng)

"Jules I am the anon that wrote to you about my depression and medicine increase etc. I had a horrible night, completely paralyzed by my depression. I took anxiety medicine to calm me & it knocked me out so hard that I slept through my alarm & missed my final. This has forced me to be completely honest with my professors. 3/4 of my professors now know that I battle depression and am going through medication changes. I feel so embarrassed. They shouldn't know that I am weak. I feel unprofessional" With love, Anonymous.

I’m so sorry to hear that you had all the trouble with your final and that you’re still feeling very depressed.  I can assure you that this is nothing that your professors haven’t heard before.  It really happens all the time.  Tons of people on here will tell you that they’ve had to disclose their mental illnesses to professors and schools.  My mom is a university professor and she probably has at least one person every year who has to disclose their struggles to her and have accomodations.  You aren’t weak for having to deal with something like this.  If anything, you’re strong for going to school and working through this and facing up to things.  In my experience, most professors are understanding about these things and those who aren’t are forced by the school to make accommodations.  I know that it feels crappy, but I think that having your professors know could be a really good thing right now.  Being unprofessional is hiding from the fact that you missed something and that you need help.  Asking for what you need is self-advocacy and it is very commendable.  I’m sure that there’s more going on for you than just finals, but finals can really cause depression to flare up for a lot of people because it really is an immense amount of pressure combined frequently with a change in schedule and social isolation.  Let me know how things are going for you, okay?  It sounds like you’re coming closer to getting through this. <3

I can’t wait until this current bout of depression lifts.  I know it’s going to pass but I hate the waiting and not knowing how long it will be before I can resume my regularly scheduled emotional life.

"think I have dermatillomania. I've picked the skin on the bottoms of my feet since i was about 4, but recently i've started picking skin from my head to the point where it bleeds and i'm going bald. I've been told i have anxiety issues by doctors in the past but that was disregarded and 9 years ago, i'm going back soon but i'm worried they'll tell me i'm just being stupid or treat me for some skin condition when the skin used to be healthy, they're quite old fashioned about mental illness." With love, Anonymous.

I can understand why you would be anxious about speaking to a new doctor after having been wrongly dismissed in the past and it’s very brave that you’re seeking help now.  It definitely sounds like you’ve got something going on in terms of dermatillomania or trichotillomania that is worth seeing a doctor about (the two tend to coexist quite frequently).  I think it might be helpful to bring them some information about trichotillomania and dermatillomania so that they can familiarize themselves.  Here’s a link to one resource for doctors.

A psychologist might be better equipped to treat you in the longer term.  These conditions tend to respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy.  Perhaps you could ask your doctor for your referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  If you look into seeing someone who deals with OCD and anxiety disorders, you might find someone with a better understanding.  Anxiety and compulsive picking/pulling disorders should definitely not be disregarded by anyone.  I’m sorry that it’s taken so long for you to get some help for this.  If your doctor doesn’t listen, I hope you can reach out to another professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist.  One doctor’s information doesn’t have to prevent you from getting the help you need.  I really doubt that they will discount you because it sounds like things are becoming pretty severe.  They may be able to give you some creams to prevent infection on the areas that are bad right now, but you need more than just physical support.

Just so you know, I suffered from dermatillomania and trichotillomania pretty severely when I was younger and I am basically free of it entirely at this point, so it’s certainly something that is treatable.  Don’t let anyone discount you— you can beat this.

Best wishes <3

It&#8217;s so interesting that so many other people have had this experience also!  For me, anxiety meds like klonopin did nothing but propranolol, which is a beta blocker that I take for my heart, seems to make a huge improvement in how often it happens.
People mainly think I&#8217;m cold and try to give me their jackets -_-

It’s so interesting that so many other people have had this experience also!  For me, anxiety meds like klonopin did nothing but propranolol, which is a beta blocker that I take for my heart, seems to make a huge improvement in how often it happens.

People mainly think I’m cold and try to give me their jackets -_-

Does anyone else with anxiety get physically shivery/shaky when they have intense conversations, even if they don’t feel upset or anxious?

I get these pretty noticeable tremors, even if it’s an intense conversation that I’m enjoying or don’t feel anxious about.  Anyone else experience this?  It seems like a physical reaction to intense social interaction?

I need to get my swirling vortex of emotions under control so I stop myself before I ruin every relationship in my life. I need help. And self control.

"Hey there, I am about to start seeing a new therapist and I am very anxious about it. I think what is bothering me the most is having to retell all my details to a new person, almost like starting from scratch or bringing up all the pain again. I was wondering if you ever had to switch therapists or start seeing someone new, and how did you deal with it?" With love, Anonymous.

I definitely understand feeling this way.  It’s always hard to bring everything back out for a new person, no matter if they’re a different therapist or just a new member of your treatment team.  It can seem overwhelming and unpleasant to bring these things back up.  To start, you don’t have to get through everything in the first session.  I find that it’s helpful to first establish a timeline for someone.  I’ll actually write down my story in bullet form from “beginning” to now in order.  This gets my thoughts in order before the appointment and helps me get through it without becoming too emotionally involved.  You can think of this first visit as the beginning of an outline; one that you’ll be filling in with this new therapist for a long time in the future.  You also don’t need to get too much into the emotional stuff if you don’t want to.  If you’d prefer to outline things in a more matter-of-fact way and then get to the hard feelings later, that’s perfectly okay.  It’s impossible to convey the complexity of your experiences in a session or a few sessions.  However, working with someone new can help you to reframe a lot of your past experiences in a new way, which can be very helpful.  

You can also tell your new therapist about how you’re feeling.  Some people won’t want you to retell all your details right away.  You can start with where you’re at right now and go from there as you’re comfortable.  If you have the opportunity, you can have someone else, like your old therapist or someone who has treated you, provide this therapist with a history so you won’t have to re-tell so much.  

Hope this helps and best wishes with the new therapist!

"People say I'm a bad person because I tried to kill myself... I am recovering from bulimia and I'm so much better than I was when I was in that state of mind.... And I've learned from all my mistakes and take care of my body... Am I a bad person like everyone says? ....:/" With love, Anonymous.

I absolutely don’t think that you’re a bad person.  People who say those sort of things lack an understanding of what it means to have a mental illness.  I know it’s hard to let what they say flow in one ear and out the other, but they are underinformed and find it really hard to understand how someone might feel that way.  It might also make them feel scared and angry to hear, but those responses are related to their own emotions rather than being about you.  They have no jurisdiction to say what kind of a person you are.

I am so sorry to hear that you were in so much pain that you felt that you needed to do that.  I hope you can find compassion for the former self, who was hurting so much, rather than judgement.  I’m so proud of you for the work you’ve done in recovery.  Your suffering doesn’t make you a bad person.  You were trying to cope the best way that you knew how, even if you would handle it a different way now.  Taking care of yourself means being gentle with your pain and gentle with your past.

(via c0rktree)

This is so sad and incredibly relavant.

(via tyedyetaylor)

Reblogging for B.

(Source: five--a--day, via badhabitofmine)