This is Personal, This is Me

I know many of you come here for Luke updates so I’ll quickly start with that. He is doing so well. His platelets are coming up, his hair is growing in, and aside from some swelling in his feet he looks amazing. I’m so proud of him

This blog is not just about Luke, but also about life, and for some reason I feel inclined to let you see a glimpse of my life that I don’t often show. I haven’t publicly been open about my mental health before. I advocate for mental health when I can and I am fairly open with those close to me, but I have never publicly talked about my struggles. For a long time I have gone through periods where I am stressed, depressed, I dislike who I am or how I look, or I feel completely alone even in a crowded room. It comes in waves and some days are okay but other days it feels like I am drowning.

When I first started college I was starting over. I had to make new friends and find where I fit in with the world. This is not easy for someone like me. I am introverted and struggle with getting out of my comfort zone to develop new relationships. I was able to form a pretty close group of friends over my four years at Salve Regina and they helped me get through so much and to really be true to myself. That doesn’t mean I was always happy and perfect though. I started talking to a counselor during my time in undergrad and it changed everything. This was someone I could go to talk about everything. The issues I had with past relationships, new relationships, my own self negativity, my body issues, even if I was having an amazing week or month, it was still nice to have that person to talk to who could offer advice in a judgement free zone.

Then I graduated and moved to Maine to start pharmacy school and this meant leaving behind this person who had become a constant in my life. Luckily when I moved, I got to live with my best friend. It’s hard to feel alone when you are with someone who is always there for you, but I was also in a long distance relationship. That can take a toll on anyone. I began seeing a new counselor at school and while she was friendly, it was not the right fit. For anyone out there thinking of starting therapy or talking to a counselor, don’t get discouraged. It’s not always a perfect fit and it’s okay to change counselors, don’t give up. After my best friend moved to be closer to work, I was truly on my own for the first time in a long time. This was a whole new challenge for me to navigate, but with the help of my pretty Penny, I truly felt okay. Pets are some of the best therapists.

As I mentioned before, this comes in waves. That summer/fall I was on a medication to prevent migraines. I was getting them 3-5 times a week and it was really affecting my life and my ability to work and focus on school. The medication worked and I was down to maybe 1 or 2 migraines a month and this dramatically improved my life. This came with a cost though. Some of the side effects of this medication were increased anxiety and weight loss. I got both; I lost 20 pounds over 1-2 months and my anxiety was through the roof (not helped by the challenges of being a pharmacy student). My body was weak and I felt so sick. To be honest I didn’t open up much about this before because of judgement. I would hear people say that I looked so skinny and good, or when I mentioned losing weight people would say they were jealous and wished that they could take the medication.

I was under 100 lbs. That is not healthy. My body felt so out of shape and I got tired on the short walk to school. I felt so alone. I would NEVER wish this on anyone.

Luckily after stopping the med and fighting with insurance I got in to see a nutritionist and also started seeing a new counselor. This was truly a lifesaver. I was able to put weight back on slowly and healthily and talking with my counselor I was able to work through many issues and really calm my anxiety down.

I have dealt with body issues for a long time now. It’s something I don’t really talk about because I am afraid of being judged. When I was younger I limited the food I ate and if I ate too much I would exercise like crazy to “work it off”. My past relationship made me feel like I was never good enough and that feeling has stayed with me for a long time. When I went to college I gained the freshman 20 which put me at a healthy weight for the first time in a while, and being away from those toxic past relationships made me stop caring so much about what people thought. Over the years I would go through spurts where I would work out and then stop and couldn’t find a consistent routine because I was nervous about falling into past behaviors. I never got unhealthy until the medication incident. This brought back so many memories. I had come so far in learning to love myself and now all that progress had been ruined. Being so thin, I had to buy new clothes to fit me and I could see my abs again. It brought me back to a time when I thought being thin was the end all be all and that gaining weight was bad. I knew I had to put on weight, but doing it wasn’t so easy. If it wasn’t for my support system helping me persevere, I would not have gotten through it.

To this day I still struggle with my weight and my appearance, but now I am trying to be healthy. I am not trying to lose weight but rather put on muscle and eat a more balanced diet. There was a time when I thought stuffing for dinner was a good idea. Not anymore. I am only four weeks into my workout program and I already feel so amazing. The improvements in my strength may be small but they feel like over coming mountains to me.

When Luke was diagnosed with Cancer in January, some of the first things I did were to seek help. I started talking to an online counselor and looking into support groups, anything to help me through. Most of our relationship Luke has been my rock. He has helped me through more bad days than anyone, but I couldn’t put my pain on him this time so I knew I needed to find help. I am so thankful for all the resources we have in this day in age that offer help to those in need.

I am not talking about all of this to get pity or for people to look at me differently. I am talking about this now because I want to raise awareness. I want people to know that it is okay to not be okay. Get help, talk to someone, talk to me, find ways to cope when you have those days that feel like you want to drown, and enjoy the days where you feel on top of the world. We should be talking about mental health, not hiding it like it is some sort of shameful secret. Now if you made it this far, I hope you learned something not only about me, but about yourself.

Please be nice, this took a lot for me to open up about, but this is me, crazy Har and all.

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