I’m a big advocate for mental health awareness.   I believe that people should use the tools and resources available to them and seek help when they need it but I know it’s much more difficult than that.  I know that asking for help can come across as a form of weakness and that our own beliefs get in the way of the bigger picture.  Asking for help doesn’t make you weak; it means you’re strong enough to know you can’t do it alone.

I don’t often publicly write about things like depression or suicide because of my personal attachments to them.  I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to suicide and how hard it is to battle depression but I think with anything that happens in our lives, the best thing we can do is be our own advocate.

The first time I saw a therapist was in 2002.  I was a Sophomore in college and stuck in an abusive relationship.  I spent every Saturday for two years sitting on a brown leather couch, trying to talk to this therapist that I didn’t really like but just going through the motions because my mother forced me into it.  Two years later I walked out with the same problems I had when I first stepped into the office.

I hit an emotional roadblock in 2010.  All of my past demons had finally caught up to me and I decided to give therapy another chance.  I had to because I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown that could have put me over the edge.

After many email exchanges to a few therapists, I finally decided to meet one of them for a consultation.  One thing I learned from my last experience with therapy is the importance of finding the right therapist.  I wanted someone I could feel comfortable with sharing my story and explaining why I need help.  It was scary to put myself out there to a complete stranger but I didn’t know what else to do.  After the initial consultation, I decided to commit to seeing her once every fortnight.  I worked through my emotional past with my father’s suicide, the guilt over losing my mother, the frustration of my many failed relationships, and trying to figure out whether happiness truly existed for someone like me – someone who is so damaged and broken she may be permanently damaged.

Two years of therapy and I had reached a point where I could openly talk about my past demons without bursting into tears.  I accepted much of what happened to me as a series of unfortunate events and learned to find a way to move forward and create something better.

Eventually, I decided to take a break from therapy.  Not only did I think I was “healed” but the financial commitment was putting a severe dent in my bank account and, at the time, I wasn’t bringing in a steady paycheck to support my mental health.

Three weeks ago, I found myself on the verge of another mental breakdown.  I could feel the onset of depression but I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle it.  Do I ignore it?  Do I try to fight it?  But the difference this time was that it wasn’t just affecting me – it was affecting my relationship.  I became more sensitive over trivial details.  I started using details from the past as an excuse for current situations.  I was taking my fiance for granted in every single way.  Slowly, over time, I started losing myself and it was severely affecting our relationship to the point where he should have walked away from everything.

Admitting that I needed go back to therapy was tough.  I spent two years working so hard on getting myself back together and all of that hard work quickly dissipated.  But after seeing my actions and his reactions one weekend, I knew that if I didn’t seek help, I would lose him and everything we had built over the last 18 months.

So, here I am, two weeks into therapy with the same therapist I had two years ago (FaceTime is a blessing!), trying to trudge through all of these new, raw, painful emotional demons and learning how to transition into soon-to-be-married life.  All of the things I have been struggling with throughout our relationship are now surfacing and I realise that this isn’t about him; this is about me.  It’s about my own insecurities, my trust issues with men in the past and my abandonment issues that stem from my childhood.  

The most courageous thing we can do for ourselves is ask for help.  

I know there are a lot of negative stigmas attached to mental health.  I know that a lot of people out there shun the idea of therapy because they think they can solve their own problems.  My father committed suicide when I was 10 years old and one of my best friends has fought an ugly battle with depression and suicide.  These things don’t just affect you – it affects everyone who knows you and cares about you.  I know how painful it is to experience this kind of loss and watch someone you love fight through it.

I share my story in the hopes that it raises more awareness for mental health issues and saves another life.

We’re all in this together.

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on getting engaged

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I don’t know where to begin.  The last few days have been a whirlwind of excitement, shock, happiness and feeling overwhelmed but in a really good way. I can’t remember exactly what happened.  We were walking along the beach at Shoal Bay on Saturday night and as we stopped, he said some words to me [...]

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an overdue update

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reflections, honesty, taking risks, staying in Australia and turning 29

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The Aussie and Yankee Adventure: two countries, five cities in sixteen days

July 20, 2012

Back in February a friend encouraged me to enter a travel writing contest to write about one of two topics:  “What inspires you to travel?” or “How has traveling changed your life?” Two days before the deadline, I sat down at my computer and typed a 2,000-word essay detailing how traveling has changed my life. “Ultimately, [...]

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two worlds collide

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So much has happened over the last thirty days and it’s been incredibly challenging trying to process all of it gracefully.  I struggle with sharing it on the internet because while blogging has always been therapeutic for me, I do believe that much of what goes on in my every-day life doesn’t necessarily need to [...]

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China, Thailand, Cambodia

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A decision that I had been putting off for about a month now has finally been made.  Three teaching positions were offered to me but I couldn’t make a decision without really weighing the pros and cons of each school, their location and the offer package.  Today I signed a contract and on August 20, [...]

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