Week 25 of Working on Us: Thankful and Grateful

Working on Us is a wonderful series over on Beckie’s Mental Mess, where each week has a new prompt meant to get people talking about mental health topics. Check out the original prompt for week 25 and click around to find participants of previous weeks’ topics!

This week, the prompt is loose; just write about something you’re thankful/grateful for.

I joke with my family that my life basically revolves around the dog park, and although it’s funny, it’s also kind of true. I adopted Stella when I was in a really tough place, mentally, and her sweetness, affection, and persistence are what have gotten me out of bed and outside over the last year.

black dog with pointy ears laying in grass between person's outstretched bare legs

When I think about how grateful I am to have Stella, I also think about my family’s support and patience, and how willing they were to care for her when I was in the hospital. I’m thankful for the people I meet at the dog park, and the sense of community and routine I’ve found there. I think about the resources I have to be able to provide for Stella, and the fact that my body allows me to walk, run, and play with her.

IMG_4092black dog with pointed ears panting while lying in shade next to concrete structure

When I think about how grateful I am to call Stella mine, it ripples out to every aspect of my life with her. I think that’s a powerful quality of giving thanks; you cannot be thankful for one thing without also being thankful for what contributes to it and leads to it.

I’m also incredibly thankful for what comes from my responsibility for and love of Stella. I’m thankful for long walks with frequent sniff stops and short walks around the block. She gives me stories to tell and reasons to get out of my comfort zone. I’m grateful that she makes me laugh every day.

IMG_4489black dog biting stream of water from sprinkler

I’m thankful that she is instantly joyful when I buy her toys, but is also amused with a simple piece of cardboard. I’m thankful that I can tell when she’s tired because one ear flops over.


I’m thankful for my pup because she makes my life more joyful, she connects me to other people, and she demands that I take care of her and in so doing, myself. I hope that everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, and if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that you had a great week filled with all of the people, pets, and things you’re thankful for all year long.


Week 23 of Working on Us: Medications

Working on Us is a wonderful series over on Beckie’s Mental Mess, where each week has a new prompt meant to get people talking about mental health topics. Check out the original prompt for week 23 and click around to find participants of previous weeks’ topics!

mental health matters

When you first were diagnosed with your mental illness/disorder, did it take a while to get used to your medications that were prescribed to you?  If you answer the question, (YES), How did you feel initially?

It took me a while to get used to the idea of taking medications for my depression, but the first antidepressant I tried had very little effect on me. So, from a physiological perspective, no- nothing wild happened at first. But from a psychological perspective, it definitely took me a while to get used to it. I was a college student when I sought psychiatric help, and I had all kinds of negative beliefs about what it meant for me to be taking medication. It took me a while to accept that I was depressed, instead believing that I was simply not working hard enough. I even believed for a while that I was taking resources away from other students who really needed them by going to my appointments at the student health center. That’s a sad memory.

Depending on how long you have been on medication, how many times do you think it has been adjusted to make you feel stable?

Gosh, I don’t know. Dozens? Counting each medication I’ve tried, there’s been a lot of adjusting. Ketamine infusions have been the most effective treatment for me, but I still take my medications to keep me stable.

Have you ever had a bad reaction to medication?


A couple of years ago, I started taking Wellbutrin and almost immediately felt my depression improve. Unfortunately, I also almost immediately had an allergic reaction and had to stop taking it. I developed an intensely itchy, blotchy rash on my chest that spread to my face, back, stomach, and eventually started to cover my arms.

Somewhat recently, I tried adding Abilify to my other medications. I didn’t notice any improvement to my mood, and it made me incredibly shaky. Going down stairs started to feel a little dangerous because my legs were like jelly!

Have you ever suffered withdrawals from a certain type of medication, and if so… What type was it?

No, I was worried about coming off of Effexor because I had heard it could be difficult, but I didn’t have any withdrawals from that or any other med I’ve stopped.

Do you work closely with your doctor in regards to your medication intake?  (In other words, do you have a good relationship with your doctor?)

Yes! Finding a provider I really like has helped enormously. I had such a hard time speaking openly about my symptoms with doctors, so the first year or so of my medication treatment was tough. Once I switched providers and found someone who helped me be honest and upfront, medications have been much less intimidating.

Since your diagnosis, have you ever tried to not take medication and see if you can handle your symptoms of mental illness/disorders on your own?  If so, how did that work out for you?

Nope. I recently tried to decrease my lithium dose and didn’t get the outcome I wanted. I think I’ll be leaving my meds alone for a while.

Tell us briefly how medication has affected your life?

While medications haven’t helped me nearly enough that I would consider myself fully functioning, they have helped me way more than I could do on my own with talk therapy. That is, they haven’t been wildly successful in treating my depression, but they have saved my life and continue to allow me to live with my symptoms and find other treatments.