Friday, October 30, 2015

3rd Annual Depression Awareness Post and Fundraiser - Get Ready for TMI!

Well, it's that time of year again.  The time of year where I write the hardest post I've ever written as well as the most hopeful post I've ever written.  It's time to talk Depression.  This is going to be a very long and very wordy post without pics, so if pics are what you want, scroll down to the end.  This also might be a trigger post for some of you, so please proceed with caution.  I'm going to start out with some general information about depression from the World Health Organization, and then we'll delve into the deep stuff that I've come to realize about my own path and struggles with depression.  We'll wrap it up with information about the fundraiser benefiting I Need a Lighthouse, Inc.!


First, let's take a look at some basic information about depression as well as some statistics.  (Since this is a blog post and I'm lazy, you aren't getting footnotes...  The following information comes from the World Health Organization's Fact Sheet on Depression.)  I feel that everyone should check out the info they've provided in this fact sheet because it's really interesting and also very easy to read and understand.

Depression is common worldwide and affects approximately 350 million people.  Depression is defined as not a short-term emotional responses to immediate stimuli or challenges to every day life.  Instead, depression is long-lasting with moderate or severe intensity and may become a serious health condition.  Specifically, the WHO states, "It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family.  At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.  Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds." [Emphasis added because, whoa.]  Let those numbers sink in.  Yeah.  It's horrifying, and it's time we keep the conversation going about mental health, bust the stigma associated with it, and push for changes in our mental health care system.

There are three categories that depression can fall into - mild, moderate, or severe.  The WHO goes on to explain the effects that depression causes within these three categories.  They state, "An individual with a mild depressive episode will have some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social activities, but will probably not cease to function completely.  During a severe depressive episode, it is very unlikely that the sufferer will be able to continue with social, work, or domestic activities, except to a very limited extent."

And this is where my own struggles really come into play.  If you've been following me for the last few years, you may have already read my previous posts on depression.  (If not, you can catch up here.)  Some of this may be old material you've already heard about before, so I'm sorry if anyone is frustrated by the repetition.  (I don't typically go back and reread my posts about depression because they can be triggering for me, so I'm honestly not sure if I've said everything I'm saying this year already.)  This year, I'm going to go into more detail about the first time I had a severe depressive episode as an adult and the ensuing path I took to finally feel good in my own skin.

I was diagnosed with Severe Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder at 21.  I had just graduated from college, a close family friend had just suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, and I was getting ready to embark on a huge insane new chapter of my life that included moving 1200 miles away from my family and almost everyone I knew to start law school.  Obviously, it was a stressful situation.  The pressure of doing well in school, having the perfect resume, and being the perfect person was enough to make me finally snap.  I started self-medicating with alcohol and immersing myself into video games to escape from my real life.  My relationships were strained, and I was pushing away everyone that cared about me.  I was reckless and cavalier with own personal safety.  My life was out of control, and I had no idea how to make it better, so I ignored it.  I ignored the pain, the fear, the desire to make it all end.  But I couldn't ignore the self-loathing, the fact that I knew I was a disappointment to everyone who cared about me.  Depression was in my head, and it was telling me some pretty gnarly lies.  And, of course, I ate it all up.  I believed every word.  I went farther down the rabbit hole.

No one knew what was going on with me.  I kept it all very well hidden.  Until the day I couldn't keep it hidden anymore.  On a trip to Boston with my parents to look for my new apartment, I completely broke down.  The stress of the move, of not knowing anyone, of the problems I had been having in my relationship, was all too much.  My behavior during that trip was so scary that my parents were justifiably freaked out and insisted that I speak with someone once we got home.  So, I did what every kid from a small town does - I went to see my primary care physician who had been my PCP for pretty much forever.  We chatted shallowly about my issues, I told him about my escapism and suicidal thoughts, lack of sleep and yet inability to stay awake during the day, and he diagnosed me with having severe depression.  My parents were surprised, but they said that it helped shed a light on my life - that it explained my behavior and my moods, and, honestly, I completely agree.  I had been dealing with this my whole life, but it was my norm so I never knew there was something wrong.  I never knew that I needed to get help.  I was just a kid, so those kinds of feelings were hard to understand and hard to explain to my family.  My doctor gave me some samples of Lexapro and told me to come back in a few weeks to see how it was working.  It was the worst medication I've ever had in my entire life.  I fell asleep at work.  In the middle of the day.  I was the person in the front greeting new clients, and they would catch me asleep.  Yeah, it was bad, and I have no idea how I didn't lose my job.  What's worse, the Lexapro didn't make my depression or anxiety feel any better - it actually made it feel much much worse. I went back to my doctor about two weeks later, and I told him that the medication just wasn't working out for me.  I told him that I was still having the same thoughts as before, except they almost felt amplified by the chaos that Lexapro was causing my sleep schedule.  So we decided to try Zoloft next, and I went on my merry way on to Boston and the most grueling school work of my life - 1L year of law school.

Needless to say, law school didn't exactly help my mental state.  I was constantly on edge and I still felt completely out of control.  The side effects for Zoloft were also pretty horrible, with the excessive weight gain being one of the top two offenders.  I wasn't happy, I was barely making it by on Zoloft, and I was still hearing all of those lies in my head.  I stayed on Zoloft for two and a half years until I realized that, while the horrible monologue in my head and become more of a whisper than a scream, I had stopped caring about everything all together.  I had stopped studying for classes, I barely made it to the Ethics portion of the Bar Exam (and I have no idea how I passed because I didn't even study), and my relationships with my friends were all a bit strained.  At that point, I realized that I would rather feel a bit out of control off of my medication than continue another day as a wrongly medicated zombie.  I quit Zoloft cold turkey.  (Please please please, don't do this if you're thinking about it!  Speak with your mental health provider before you take this step.  I am not a very good role model in this situation, so please do as I say and not as I do!)  Once I was off of Zoloft, I could feel that zing of aliveness that I had been missing for the last two years.  Yes, the lows were much lower, but the highs were enough to make it worth it for me at the time.  At least, for a while.

A few years later, I went through an extremely traumatic period in my life, considered suicide because my brain was telling me that it was the only way that I could stop being a disappointment to everyone and myself and the only way to make the hurting stop.  I can finally talk about the origins of my mental health path now, but this second traumatic experience and depressive episode is still a trigger, which means I won't be getting into it.  Suffice it to say, this situation opened my eyes.  I knew that I could no longer go unmedicated and without a counselor.  I found four professionals that I trust implicitly, and, as a team, they helped to craft a plan to get me healthy and back on my feet.  I am now taking the correct medication, so my brain has adjusted to correctly feel feelings without the chaos and turbulence that I once felt.  Further, I don't abuse alcohol and am able to drink and eat socially without relying on it as a crutch.  Sadly, I am not the type that will ever get to experience life unmedicated.  And that's ok!  Now that I know this and I know the signs of an oncoming depressive episode, I am better equipped to handle my problems and to get help when I need it.

So, that's my story.  Please know that EVERY SINGLE PERSON'S story is different.  Every single person's path to recovery and well being is different.  No two people will be able to have the same cookie cutter plan for recovery.  It's just not how it works.  Some people can take on more exercise and physical activity to help push them through their depression.  Others will be able to see a counselor or take a pill for a few months to regulate themselves.  And then there are those like me who will have to deal with this their entire lives.  Who will have to stay constantly vigilant in our observation of our needs and mental state.  And let's not even get into the different types of medications and how different types of medication are ineffective for some while they're perfect for others.  It's all a very individualized experience, and you need to make sure you communicate everything you're feeling, seeing, thinking, and experiencing to your medical/counseling team.  Otherwise, you might just turn into a zombie like I had.

Depression isn't the same for everyone, so it's NEVER alright to assume that someone can just choose to be happy.  If you have friends who are suffering from depression, all they need to know is that you will be there to listen to them, to support them, and that you aren't going to leave because they are having issues with their mental health.  They already think that you don't like them and that they're a huge disappointment, so please make sure not to add to their spiral of self-hurt and self-loathing.  For those of you with depression - IT LIES.  100% it lies.  It makes you think you're a horrible person that doesn't deserve love, who is unworthy of affection.  Don't listen.  There are people who want you to succeed.  People who want you to get better and feel your best again!  Don't give up on them because they are surely trying not to give up on you.  Just keep reminding yourself that the thoughts in your mind are all a creation of some chemicals going haywire trying to make you believe that you're a waste of space.  You aren't.  You have value.  You are loved and cherished.  Just keep reminding yourself of those truths, and it will make a difference.  It'll help you remember what you're fighting for and whom you're fighting against.    You are important, so be good to yourself.

I chose I Need a Lighthouse for a very specific reason.  While I think that "awareness" is great and all, I prefer to support organizations who are on the front lines doing what needs to be done to protect people from themselves and their own harmful thoughts.  I Need a Lighthouse's mission is to educate teens and young adults about depression and suicide.  Sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like had we known what was wrong with me for all of those years.  Would things be different?  I love the fact that INALH focuses on treating children.  Children who can't really comprehend the complex feelings they're having.  Children who have no idea why they feel so alone.  Children whose families don't understand what's happening and don't know what to do to help their child just feel better.  And that's why I chose them.  They make a real difference in the lives of real people.  For more information about their organization, please check out their website.  If you would like to make a donation and aren't planning to participate in the fundraiser tomorrow, they have updated their system to a super easy to use payment system here.

So now, let's get to the fun stuff.  Let's shed those sad thoughts and remember that we can help improve the lives of children and their families by giving to such a great cause!  100% of all money raised will be sent straight to the non-profit via eBay's Giving Works program.  I will not touch a single cent of the money, and eBay won't take fees out of the final winning prices because we are donating 100% (yay, eBay!).  Please note that there will be 2 other non-profits represented in this fundraiser as I still have some polishes left from Crystal's Charity Lacquers, and she's asked that their donations go to the American Cancer Society and the the Hawaiian Humane Society.  So keep an eye out for those two as well!  There are some seriously amazing individuals who have come up with some pretty epic polishes that will be up for grabs starting at my eBay shop tomorrow at noon edt.  Here's final a list of the contributors!

I will be listing items starting Saturday, October 31 at noon edt and adding more intermittently throughout the day.  All auctions will last for 4 days with starting bids listed at the polish's retail price (or as close as I could figure out the retail price!).  There are a few one-offs, but there are also quite a few with two or three bottles that will be up and ready for bidding.  I will also have a few lots of Buy it Now polishes, which will include unused items from my stash paired with a color coordinated BEGL and the Special Edition I made just for this fundraiser, Siren's Guiding Light.  There will only be one set of the Buy it Now stash/BEGL lots, so you'll have to make sure you grab what you want quickly!  Siren's Guiding Light will be available for everyone to purchase for 2 weeks.  Once the two weeks have passed, I will pull them down from the shop.  I will do my best to commence shipping on 11/7, but please note that I'm waiting for a bottle shipment!  It shouldn't be an issue, but I want to put it out there before anyone bids on anything!

Now that I've talked your ears off, let's take a look at some of the items that will be available during the fundraiser!  I'm not going to bore you with all of the BEGLs because, honestly, you already know what they look like (and if not, check out my Pinterest Boards or my Facebook Albums!).  Just know that I'll have all of the following up as well as the awesome items from the lovely makers above: all Sirens from 2015, all Addicted to Holos, <3, Hypothermia, 5x5, 40/41, all of my polishes from the Destination Duos this year, Sordid End, and a few others!  Let's take a look at the stuff you haven't seen before!  Click on them to see them in more detail!


  Photos courtesy of Polish Etc.
  Photo courtesy of Cosmetic Sanctuary             Photo courtesy of @sugar23


Friday, July 31, 2015

BEGL July Releases!

Provided for Review and Made Myself

Wow.  I don't even know what to say except, hi?  I'm back, sort of?  I would love nothing more than to get back into my normal groove of blogging, especially because I was on a roll before I fell off the face of the earth, but I'm not sure how steady I can be.  However, I wanted to make sure to share a few items that will be up for sale today at my shop!  The Fan Favorites Collection will also see a small restock today at 3:30 pm edt, so make sure you grab yours as soon as they're up!  They will likely go fast!  

Alright, let's take a look at the new releases!  This will be a picture heavy post, so bear with me and click on the photos to enlarge them!  First up, let's take a look at this month's Destination Duo Collaboration!  The Destination Polish Duo Collection was actually an idea thought up during a conversation with Morgan of a rhyming dictionary.  The thought was that we’d take one photo from one of our vacations/travels and each come up with our take on the photo.  In the end, we will each have a polish that draws inspiration from the same photo.  Each duo will be a collaboration between myself and another indie maker. This month’s Destination Duo is with the ever amazing Amy of Literary Lacquers.  We chose this photo of a sunset over the ocean that I took while spending time at St. George’s Island in Florida.  Included in this set will be:

Literary Lacquer's Gulf Coast Twilight, Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer's Happy Hour at the Blue Parrot, and beachy cocktail water slide decals.

Let's start first with the Lit Laq. Gulf Coast Twilight is described as a soft dusky twilight purple linear holo with iridescent gold flakies and a touch of orange shimmer. Application was great as always with Lit Laq, and it had a nice fluid consistency without the dragging you see with many holos. It was also thick enough that it didn't flood my cuticles or require much cleanup. I used three coats with one coat of KBShimmer's Clearly on Top, but I probably could've used only two coats if I weren't taking photos. Unless where specified, these were taken outside on the lake in the direct sunshine. The blurry one was taken indoors but in full sun.

Next, we've got the BEGL portion of the duo - Happy Hour at the Blue Parrot. This is a juicy sunny orange jelly with purple and copper shimmers. This is a true jelly, so you'll need to either use undies or use a few extra coats. I tried to make this one a little less thick than my normal consistency since jellies tend to gum up when exposed to the air for long periods of time. As such, it's a tad more fluid than I tend to like and required a touch more cleanup than my normal lacquers. Here, I've used four thin coats for my photos, but I truly could've gotten away with only three. I did wait a few minutes between application of coats, so I didn't have any issues with dragging, balding, or self-leveling, so you may want to make sure to take your time to ensure a perfect application. It dries ever so slightly dull, so I used one coat of KBShimmer's Clearly on Top. Even though it's an orange polish, I didn't have any issues with staining of my nails or the skin around when I cleaned up and removed the polish. All photos are taken under a daylight lamp.

The decals are two each of five different designs for a total of 10 images. I won't be reviewing them as I didn't get very good photos of the one I wore before it got destroyed by the lake. The box will cost $25 shipped domestically.  You will be able to purchase the box at both shops.  International customers can purchase their boxes for $22 plus a shipping fee. You can purchase a set at both my shop and Lit Laq's shop here.

Next up is the next polish in the monthly numbered limited edition Siren Series, Siren Channels the 80s. As always, this is a super LE batch, so make sure you are there on time to grab your bottles! These are limited to one bottle per household and all orders over that amount will be cancelled and refunded. Luckily, my shop has a cart hold, so you should be able to stash one in your cart for up to 10 minutes while you pickup the other items you're hoping to grab! Siren Channels the 80s is a neon/fluorescent green crelly packed with silver holo, gold holo, lime holo, and rainbow iridescent microglitters. Here, I've used three coats for full coverage. I made the consistency of this one similar to Happy Hour to ensure that it won't gum up while you're working. I would still recommend, though, that you wait between layers to ensure an even application. It dries a tad satin and with a slight textured finish, but one coat of KBShimmer's Clearly on Top really smoothed it out and shined it up nicely. All photos are taken under a daylight lamp.

So, there you have it! Everything in today's post will be available to purchase today at 3:30 pm edt. Here are the important links for both Literary Lacquers and Blue-Eyed Girl Lacquer!

Are you planning to pick up anything from today's sale? Which are you most excited about?