Disabled Girls Who Lift

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E37: Depression, Scoliosis, and Powerlifting (Cassie Arenz)

November 16th 2020

Depression, Scoliosis, and Powerlifting. No, they are not mutually exclusive! Now that we got that out of the way... This episode’s focus is on mental health management, living with depression and ... More

this is disabled girls who lift. We are reclaiming what's rightfully ours one podcast at a time. It's mary beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that. A bliss comfort zone. Mm hmm. Hello! Hello! Welcome to another episode of disabled girls who lift. We have someone super awesome joining us today. A strong supporter of the podcast. This is Marcy from south florida, land of the Seminole tribes and it's mary beth in California. We are on a lonely land and so grateful. Um our guest joining us today, cassie erin's she has been a longtime friend, a longtime listener, one of the best supporters of the disabled girls who live podcast since our birth I think, and we're almost at our one year anniversary. Oh my gosh, cassie comes on over from Chicago. Um chi-town. We're gonna talk a little bit about depression, just generalized anxiety, how we handle and manage mental health, a little bit of diet, culture and what we experience, especially online and power lifting.

So thanks so much for joining us casts. Hello! Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. Um and I like your guys intro of talking about what um land you guys are on. Believe this is a line. I weigh land, but I'm not quite sure. So I'm gonna look that up afterwards. Yeah, yeah, it's easier to google. So if you're wondering what the hell we're talking about. Just google whose land in my honor. What native land in my on and you'll find the website because I can't think of the you are off the top of my head. Um But anyways, back to CAssie, So, cassie, so you write a lot about disability and mental health awareness and most of us understand mental health, like what it means. Not necessarily you have good feelings about it or there's not stigmas, but we get what it means like okay, depression and anxiety or something, but people say disability and then they see you and I'm sure people are like, you sure, cassie, uh I'd love to hear what it's like as someone with severe scoliosis, like, is that your whole life?

How has that been? Is disability a new identity for you? It's a very loaded questions to take it down whatever road you want. Yeah. So yeah, having the mental illness and scoliosis. Um we'll start with scoliosis. So I've had scoliosis diagnosed in like 7th grade um and then I kind of never really saw any doctors after that unfortunately, and um started to experience a lot of pain in college and that's kind of when I finally got an X ray by a doctor, you know, years after they just told me you have scoliosis, but it didn't look like I really had a severe one. So they just kind of ignored it. Um but then it turned out it was really bad. Um I've kind of had it forever and the pain has been on and off, but I've never really um I never really identified it as a with a disability because um it never prevented me from doing anything really ever.

In addition to that, I've also had um depression pretty much probably starting around the same time, honestly. Um it's been I wasn't diagnosed until college with major depression. Yeah. Kind of, like you said, with both of those, like, people look at me and they're like, you're not disabled, went through college, I have a a successful career, um you know, I'm lifting and it's definitely been a new uh identify as disabled, um and kind of mentally, like, unsure. Like, do I fit in with the disabled world? Like, you know, is mental illness considered like a disability? And as I've been learning about, like more about it and more about my diagnoses and how they affect me. I've definitely identified more with it, and it's really helped me to realize like, oh, disabled doesn't mean you're not capable of doing stuff, which we all obviously, no, it's just you have different needs and, like, I know I need to rest more, and sometimes it's a it's a hard fight to make myself be okay with those extra rest days.

But discovering this podcast and you guys has helped me a ton in just appreciating who I am, regardless of whatever diagnosis I might have, right? And I just love to that. And we were talking about this community and whether or not we fit in realizing that there's so much gray area and not one disability is like the other, even if we, you know identify as all having S. E. I. R. All having limb differences. All of her experiences are going to be different and that's the beauty of this. Like I remember my one of my first conversations with Marcy a when she was still um talking to herself and out loud about her spoon e. Self, you know, everyone's going to have a different experience especially online Well said yeah all around Well said I am curious of what what happened in college like. Yeah you good, that's a lot of stress like everything is all at once, like what what happened is when you're out on your own for the first time or is it just kind of pain with it?

Yeah. What's going on? The pain, the depression, everything seemed to give to you once you hit college. Yeah college was definitely, I mean college was great, there was a lot of great things that happened in college but there was it was really hard. I mean I was in a top engineering school and that's a lot of stress um that's you know just studying a lot and um I think to just like the like going from having a regular schedule in high school, like you know I'm forced to go to school every single day all day, I have track practice and kind of having that set schedule I think helped me a little bit and then college, it kind of, um, that goes away and you have to create yourself. And then additionally the added component was, I was binge drinking in college a ton, which definitely does not help mental health and I have an address that was your like immediate coping strategy.

I think it was just like, um, you know, I went to a big party school, met a lot of like hung out with a lot of people that partied often. Um, and yeah, it was a huge stress relief at the time that, you know, when you're 17, 18 years old, you don't really know how to deal with stress in healthy ways sometimes and that was my way it was, but everybody else was doing and it definitely brought out a lot of the stuff. I also, I have a lot of family stuff that was happening. And so yeah, it kind of all at that point really compiled. I just, I realized I was like, oh, and I mean I had definitely experienced symptoms in high school, but I was just like, I'm just, I'm just tired all the time. I just need to sleep a lot or this being sad and in my room by myself all the time is like, I'm just a shy person that doesn't have any friends, you know, like it wasn't, I didn't really know what was going on.

Um, and so in college I had a, I was dating a partner at the time who was like, hey, I think you might have depression, maybe you should go see a counselor. And that kind of was the first time I was like, oh, yeah, maybe I do. Um because my mom actually had um she, she was she passed away, but she, she was diagnosed bipolar. Uh so I always knew that it was in the family. I just never really connected my symptoms with what hers were because they weren't the same. Mm It's interesting too, that you had experienced the two binaries, you know, being out, being social drinking and being with tons of different people, thinking that you're extroverted and this level of toxicity because I mean, we all drank, I mean, especially the 1st, 2nd year going into a new environment and then once all of that is over and you're coming back to your monday, it's like, oh, wait, where am I with myself?

That's all pretty interesting that I think a lot of people start to discover in their 20's. Early 20s. Yeah, hopefully where we are, Who am I? And then that was also the time when you went to go see a doctor for like, another X ray. Especially since Yeah, a lot more. Yeah. So, um, I think I, I mean, I don't know exactly why the pain was getting worse. Um but I'd assume carrying around stuff on my back all day long. I don't know. Um it just started to get worse and yeah, so I went to a doctor or I went to a chiropractor. Well actually no, I I went to a doctor for the first time in college and they just said, oh yeah you have a little bit of scoliosis will send you a physical therapy. So much physical therapy and it helped definitely like. Um and then it started a few years later it started to feel pain again after I graduated. And that's when I finally got an X ray. So, and that was that a chiropractor which I find very interesting that no doctors did x rays but a chiropractor did an X ray.

So um, it was my first kind of experience with the health care system, not really helping people health care that doesn't really care. Yeah, never heard that one before. Yeah. So it kind of, it also made me realize just how much you have to advocate for yourself and continue just keep seeing different doctors over and over again until you find something that works. Because I ended up once I saw my X ray, I went to a spinal specialist spine surgeon for scoliosis just to get an idea of you know, what are we, what are we looking at? Is this something that surgery? So to give you an idea for scoliosis. Um they raided by varying degrees And so anything greater than 10° is considered scoliosis. Um and then anything over 50 is usually required or they recommend surgery.

I am right at around 50 degrees. Um two curves at 50. So you know when I went to see them they were kind of like, well you know, we could do surgery but we don't really know that that's going to help anything. And so they recommended against it, which I'm really grateful for because I've heard surgeons who would recommend surgery at the littlest thing. Um but with that surgeon, he was very much like, yeah, the only thing that's going to really happen most likely is you're just gonna get arthritis in your spine earlier and feel old and I was like awesome. I appreciate it. Yeah, so thanks bro. Yeah, so it was it was an interesting experience that's for sure. But I saw, you know, I I always recommend a second opinion, went to go get a second opinion. He was very helpful and he had the same recommendation of just track keeping an eye on it, see if it gets worse because once you're, once you're fully grown there's um it's not likely that it's going to change much but it can still change it can still um especially hormone changes or various different things can cause it to increase.

So we're just keeping an eye on it for now and seeing what happens. Cool. It just kind of weird to just be like, yeah, we're just going to wait and see what happens. Yeah, it's funny because it's not even really what they teach or at least in my program for physical therapy, it was like, okay, they have scoliosis, these are things you do, and then if it's really bad they get surgery. The end just learned how to work around getting a job, did not suck it out more when I see people like You cassie online. Um And then there was someone else that reached out to us from like a Page foundation. She does like dancers of scoliosis. I'm like, wait, what do you mean with scoliosis that I didn't care that that's what we learned. What do you mean living with? Yeah. What does that mean? That's wild. So I so you mentioned in high school you did track. Yeah. And then college, what happened, did you keep doing sports, or is that when you started lifting? Yeah, so I did uh track and cross country and gymnastics for a few years to actually in high school.

Uh And then in college I actually did stay on, I did the club track team um for a couple of years in track, we did a ton of lifting. So I had experience with it throughout all my track years, just because it's very important for any sort of runner to be doing some sort of lifting also. Uh and so I had experience with it and then um I kind of quit working out in general and towards under college I would go lift a few times and so I didn't really pick up power lifting until a couple of years ago, I just kind of felt lost and like what I was doing, you know, I had always been part of a team and I was like how do I stay active now that I'm don't have anything. So I dialed around a few different things and kind of fell into power lifting and it's kind of stuck since I really enjoy it. And in terms of the pain, have you had to adapt a lot of the ways that you do, either main lifts or just how you handle accessories or even just you mentioned you had to rest a lot.

Is that more of a mental health thing? Or are you talking about also in terms of your your actual spine health um it's definitely more mental health. Um the my spine, honestly, the only thing I really have um sometimes an issue with this dead lift when I first started lifting because like I actually also have a fracture in my lower back which doesn't help. And so when I first started lifting I was like having excruciating pain where I like couldn't walk for a couple of days and I was like, well I guess I am done lifting and I actually um when I moved to Chicago, I started working with a coach here, shout out to tom O'Neil um at Rockwell Barbell uh and he, so he switched to sumo because it just puts less stress on your back in general. And he um help me figure out a position where I literally have not had that pain since I switched to figuring out my um sort of positioning for dead lift and then um yeah, I mean the biggest thing is I just have to be careful with um my movement patterns, so if I'm doing anything dynamic, I just have to make sure that I'm being really careful on how I'm just very conscious of my form, which honestly I think benefits me and for as far as accessories, like um I really try to do a lot of single single arm or single leg isolation because I have a lot of imbalances and they're not going to go away obviously, but doing the best I can to keep those as um balanced as possible just because, you know, I'm going to favor certain sides.

There's not really much I can do about it, so accessories help me too, make sure I'm saying bounced on those main lifts. But yeah, as far as the rest component, it's definitely more uh depression sort of um it's fatiguing it, it really can be stuff, there's some days where I'm just tired like making breakfast and that's just not going to be a good day for a squat day and I just have to except that some sometimes or you know, if I'm if I just need three days rest and row because I'm just so exhausted. I just, I just, I just take it because um it's better for me to take those three days off, then try to push myself and then have no more energy and completely just crash and burn for the next month or whatever it is. Um And that's, that's what I've been learning is balancing that time. Marcy isn't she? Kind of like the perfect client example after our last episode, talking about pain management posts like injury or just learning how to do unilateral movements.

Because we've all got imbalances. Yeah, we do. Yeah, that's exactly what we were just talking, like, word for word. So funny. All pts look pathetic. Am I what? Yeah. Empathic by chance. That's one that's one of your powers. Yeah, interesting though, because there are people out there that call themselves spoon ease, which is in generic terms, anyone that's chronically ill. So chronic depression could be a chronic illness, You can call yourself a spoon in those, all those kind of things that you're saying are the same kind of things that I experienced. Like, you know what today is just not going to be the day and that's fine. Instead of being like, oh, I gotta get after it. Like, oh man, I had two bagels today or like, you know, some stupid ship, like no, I'm not totally and I think um you know, the more I've learned about like chronic illness, um I've never identified it with it before and I think it's, it has to do so much for like mental illness stigma because it is like mental illness affects your personality or it affects your, um, a lot of people think it reflects your character or whatever because you know, what, what's happening is, you know, it affects your behavior and your not so much your behavior, but a little bit just like your physical state.

Um and I think, I think though, you know, especially when you first are learning about mental illness, um, you know, you think like, oh, I just have to like fix fix this in my head. It's just my own problem that I have to fix and I can, I can fix it. And that's obviously not the case. It's an illness and learning to, associated with an illness has helped me to just, I think like, be more compassionate and take care of myself more because it's not something where I'm like, oh, I'm just lazy or I'm just whatever, I'm not as productive or whatever, it might be, whatever negative things I have to say about myself to my, in my head, it's helped me to be like, no, I'm, I'm sick. It's like monday for instance, I, you know, I don't know, I had had a bad day and I, I ended up sleeping like mostly day and all my plans are out the window and you know, I was really upset obviously, but you know, the next day, I was like, it's okay, You're, you're sick, you had a sick day and you'll allow yourself to rest and now you're ready to go or a little bit better, feel a little bit better to go today.

Yeah. So and recognizing that a reset is good too, didn't have that reset then that don't mean that the next week for a full week you'll probably be off. But it sounds like you've come to a really good maturity level knowing when you need to stop knowing when you need to be so hard on yourself. Sorry, not so hard on yourself, right? And it definitely, it's still like a work in progress and it's taken a lot of work I think to get to this place to realize, you know, when is it that I need to push myself and when do I need to take step back? Because I don't, you know, I think we, a lot of times it's talking about giving yourself rest and we talk about that. Um but we don't always know, it's hard to tell when the differences when we can push ourselves and when we do need to take that step back. And I think it really just takes time to push yourself sometimes. You don't need to and take some extra rest and been like, oh, maybe I could have pushed myself a little and I think that's just like that progress of, you know, learning when those days work and just being kind to yourself in general, it's the biggest thing that I've learned is just trying to be kind to myself, no matter what.

Yeah, you got to figure it out. It's lifelong and nobody's going to know you better than you. And, you know, some people have like, generic advice and that might not always work. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But I think a lot of times we find people that are saying things online and then we connect with them and that's cool. But then we follow the advice and we're like, oh, it didn't work, I must be a loser, like, right, you have to figure it out for yourself. Or these quote unquote motivational speakers that are like, don't let depression take over your life. Don't let this chronic illness take over choose your productivity. Like, fuck you. Yeah. Oh yeah, I have such a love hate relationship with self help books because there's definitely pieces where you're like, yes, I can take control of my life, but then, you know, there's a toxic portion that's like, um Yeah, well, I also have this uncontrollable, you know, thing that kind of takes control of my life sometimes, and so it's a matter of managing that.

Yeah, Yeah. They're selling. Um Well now that people coined that phrase, I've seen toxic positivity, that's what they're selling. And so if you're supposed to be learning yourself and what coping mechanisms work for you without unpacking the things that don't make you feel good, you're not going to get anywhere. So like just being like, oh, it could always be bad. It's all, it could always be worse. I'm gonna choose happiness and I'm going to take control and you don't spend any time thinking about all right. But what about that one time where I felt like I couldn't choose what did I do that day? Like if you don't acknowledge that, who gives a sh it it could be worse for somebody else. You're you, you know, look at somebody else's life totally, totally. And that kind of attitude just kills me to Yeah, it's hard for me. And then when I have friends were like, oh, you know, they'll be telling me they're like, oh, this isn't anything like as bad as like you've had to deal with. And I'm like, that is that is not, that doesn't matter at all. We're talking about you and you have a different experience than I do.

And I actually um you know, kind of talking about that? Okay. One of the biggest things that has helped me is um I don't know if you've heard of like dialectical statements or like dialectical thinking uh so we learned this in therapy and it's like an statements where, you know, you can say, you know, other people have it worse and this is still difficult for me. So it's like, it doesn't have to be either or both can be true at the same time and realizing that it's like, oh, like, yeah, there are people that have it worse, putting that into perspective. But then this still also sucks like I don't want to go through this, this doesn't make my life any easier. Um, and realizing that like several things can be true that aren't necessarily, um, that are like opposites, opposites or whatever. It's not mutually exclusive, right? Has helped me a ton when I'm dealing with certain issues. Um, so dialectical statements is a good one to look up for sure.

And I think illya might have said it way back when we had them on that were just like obsessed with the binary and not just talking about gender. Just everything. You're lazy or productive, You're disabled or you're not, you're sick or you're well, like that's, we live in the gray area. Uh, that's just where we are. And so how do you incorporate this mindset into power lifting and uh, training into competition? Have you competed before? Yeah, I've competed twice. Yeah, I think a big thing for me is, you know, on competition day, especially like a lot of us have big idea like neither of my meats into as planned. Um, and I would say that's true for majority of people at some point that their meats don't go as planned and the big thing for me is just like taking that thinking and remembering like I didn't do as well as I want and I know that I'm still capable of doing good, you know, it's or doing doing better um that this lift doesn't define me and you know, it's kind of the same things we all talk about like this is just one time, this is just one thing that we enjoy and this one moment doesn't your whole power lifting career.

Um And then in general, I just kind of like with training, I use the mindset of like I I'm doing, I'm doing the best I can every single day and it's gonna look different every single day and sometimes I'm not gonna make it, I'm not going to be going into it being like I'm not going to be that person that's going to, you know, right out my gym schedule and hit it every single day because it's just not possible and there's plenty of people who can do that and that's great. Um and so just realizing that I can still make progress and do well in the sport while my training looks different. Mm That's good. And I also, the beauty and power lifting and sports like strongman to is you recognize, I guess since we're not in not so much in a team environment, like you will always only be competing against yourself and if you do great, great, then that's a personal record or you know, just like constantly building and strengthening like your core and yourself as an athlete as opposed to always winning because even in parallel thing there's gray area, you know, so taking that from the real world into your sport is also like pretty good.

Yeah, and I think I take a lot from the sport into my real life, you know, like the work, like you have to put in the mundane work in order to, you know, see the results and sometimes, you know, when I'm sitting there, like I really don't want to go to work today, but I got to do the mundane work in order to see the results to get, you know, whatever I need, keep my health insurance. Um so I think like taking those aspects to from the sport and then also just like the mental strength coming that comes from training regularly, you know, of putting yourself towards something over and over again. Um and committing to that has really helped me mentally just have a goal that I'm working towards outside of anything else and have that excitement, it's like go work towards that and um do something hard, not every day, but a lot of days of the week and year and it it reminds me that I'm capable of doing hard things even when I feel like I'm not and outside of mental health and para lifting our, is there like any sort of equipment that you find most comfortable using with your scoliosis?

Like para lifting belts? Um Especially with the dead lift. Yeah. Honestly, um I haven't felt like I've needed to really use any special equipment, but the biggest thing that I've noticed with my current belt is that um, it might be like slightly too wide because my rib cage and hips are kind of close. I have like a short torso obviously. And so like it kind of like digs into like my, it's hard to fit it in between. So it's like the only thing that I would probably maybe get a, I think they sell, I think they have smaller ones. I don't really know. Yeah. It's tough though if you're in certain federations that only allow you have certain brands or whatever. There are those thinner ones, especially for the short tour. So folks. Oh yeah, but otherwise same thing for me. Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's hard. It's weird because it's like, well, I got to, you know, try to put it on and then I slide it off my right.

Yeah. Right. Yeah, exactly. Um The biggest thing outside of it though is like recovery tools, like, you know, when I'm in the gym, all of the normal stuff is fine, but like really making sure that I have good recovery tools. So I think I have probably Like five million things. But the thing that is the most useful is just like a one of those circular foam rollers that you can go up and down your back. Like that has been a lifesaver for me just to help those muscles a little bit um you know, regular massages when I can do them. Kind of like not not right now, but um eventually, I mean they are expensive as well, so that's not always feasible. Uh Bass sometimes help anything that really can just help relax the muscles because that's really the toughest thing. But otherwise inside the gym, I mean trying to think if there's any exercises, like I obviously just avoid pretty much conventional dead lists because it just hurts my back.

Um And then there's certain like certain exercises with like my upper back that if they just heard I just don't do them. I'm like there's five million exercise I can do if it hurts my back, I'll just pick a different one. Um So I can't even really remember what any of those exercises are anymore, because soon as I don't already done with. Yeah, as soon as I do it, I'm like okay, I'm not doing this anymore. Yeah. So you figured it out for your dead lift. What what about squat and bench, did you have to go through a whole journey with a coach or did you kind of just find a way to move that clicked right away? Yeah. Ben, I mean bench has been its own process, it never hurt my back. It's just, you know, benches hard hard one. It's very technical. Um So I mean I've had the same coach for all of all of my lift or for I still I still use him, I trained with him and so he's helped me make my technique better. I honestly never really had issues with squat which I was kind of surprised by. Um and like the biggest thing that is important um is for me is just like making sure I'm bracing well and I think that's important for everybody obviously.

Um but just really stabilizing it and I think that I do have a slightly different like situation. I mean obviously everybody's scoliosis is very different and I feel like kind of fortunate sometimes because my scoliosis is actually very even. Um so the curves are like the exact same on both sides. So my hips and shoulders are pretty level. I know it's so weird. Like that's alright. Castle we got this. So it's like it's like the this part is like even and then the curve is just like in between these two plains. Yeah. I think we saw an X ray. It's like it's like a full s shape right? So it kind of um works out because I don't have any um like really big like you know when I hold the bar, it's not like it's a little crooked but it's not crazy crooked or I don't have like very uneven um like legs because of my hips are very even, so that's the biggest thing that most folks probably have to deal with is the Yeah, yeah, the uneven hips and I fortunately have not had to deal with that, so I don't really have any tips for that.

Um But the biggest thing that's honestly helped me with scoliosis is physical therapy and I'm sure I know I talked to you about it before. Um and like honestly I just, I like physical therapy has helped me and send them out because I've gone Probably three or four times. I go, I try to go like every every year to just kind of like a tune up, like I'm kind of in pain, like can you help me out? Always, happy to help, you know? So I appreciate it. Um um like dry Needling I've had done, which is pretty helpful. Yeah, there's, there's like a ton of different things that uh that can help for sure in the bench. Do you find yourself arching more arching, less flat back benching? Yeah, I mean I have like a very slight arch um Anything more than that hurts. I would love to have a big bench because my arms are crazy long, so it's a very long range of motion, but you know, obviously I'd rather just keep inching and not hurt my back.

So I do, I do a slight arch like the, you know, my shoulders kind of on the bench tight and then that's just whatever my natural arches and yeah that that works for me, I haven't really had any issues with it. There's like I do find a little bit of issues sometimes on my shoulders because it is not even in my upper back. So when I'm tightening my upper back and lats it can be a little uneven. So I'm pushing a little bit unevenly. That's just something that's taken a lot of uh honestly I think dumbbell bench press has helped a ton with that to help even out the imbalances on both sides. So unilateral work to try to make both sides is strong as each other is the is the big, I think the biggest thing with scoliosis, just a tiny unilateral work. Mhm. Do any of your pts like watch as you kind of go through the movements because one of my older jim's uh Oakland over here had a biomechanics specialist like on deck.

And so me with a lot of my like asymmetrical, like I'm always overcompensating on the left side because my left arm is shorter than my right. And then all these issues with my back, like he kind of helped me, I don't know, hip hinge a little better know like how to breathe, embrace correctly so that it was more even in the squad especially um I wonder if that would be you know helpful if your P. T. Or whoever works with you like watches um As you venture is like a lot more technical and mechanical when they watch you? Since Harley thing is going to be like you know in your life for quite some time. I have never done that but that would be pretty cool. So yeah not not just like watching as you sit or watching as you stand but also watching as you go through the three movements was helpful for me. Yeah I've never yeah I only have my poach watches me but um I've never had any like sort of like analysis like that which would be I think kind of reminds me similar of like um because I was I was a runner for a long time so the runny whenever getting sized for shoes watching you run and see how you land on stuff like that.

Interesting. Yeah sounds like a similar concept but I guess if your coach is pretty good at figuring out mechanics on different bodies and you work with them for a while and they get to know you they might be able to figure that out but if they can't nothing wrong with finding someone else. Yeah totally. Yeah you could pay more than one person if your budget is good for it fire everyone. It's good to have more eyes on your movement patterns. Uh You posted uh I don't know if you've got only once or more than once but for mental health management. Sorry for switching this a little bit but I'm so curious about this uh what's it called? Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Yeah totally. What does that involved? Is your brain getting shock therapy? We are we going back into the 70s? What are we doing? Yeah. I'm excited to talk about this actually. So yeah. Tms is it's like a newer treatment I believe.

So the one you're talking about, the shock therapy that's E. C. T. O. I don't know what that stands for but it's electrical shock, electro convert your brain maybe. Yeah and so that one is um more intense because you have to be in the hospital, they have to put you under actually and they like actually put like they give you like many seizures essentially. Um And it's effective it just there's some negative side effects and then just the process is a lot more um difficult. So that's actually still happening. Hold on a second. Yes that is still happening. Was not aware. Okay Carrie I'm sorry. Yeah so that is yeah that's the thing um I I know people who have done that and um it's a little scary. So this is an alternative option. It's outpatient. So um I did a six week treatment um or somewhere around there where it was five days a week um for those six weeks and then basically it's you go and you sit down in this chair kind of like a dentist chair or whatever.

Um It was just at my psychiatrist dr office. So you know, I'm already used to go in there and then they kind of have I think it's different, they do different um you know procedures but the one I did was they essentially have this like machine and they put magnetic pulses in your brain and so they stimulate it in various parts depending on what where the doctor says and my session, my treatments were literally three minutes, so I would go in there, Spending three minutes in this treatment and then I would leave and do that five days a week for six weeks. Um And it didn't it didn't hurt really at all except for like towards the end they started doing a couple pulses like here and then you can like feel it like in your I like sort of like your sinus or something maybe. Yeah, it's almost like, I don't know exactly where but you feel um like an intense like twitch behind your eye I guess.

Um It's very uncomfortable but all the other ones didn't really, there wasn't any pain, it was just, it was just weird. Uh there was a couple of times where my hand was like twitching just because a certain area it's it's in and then your hand just like twitches with it, which is kind of cool. Um So yeah, the idea is just to help stimulate under active areas of the brain, so kind of in a similar way just using magnets instead of electricity, you know, there's no, it's it's kind of annoying. It's ridiculous. Oh my God, talking about health insurance. Uh, so in order to be able to get this treatment, you have to have failed a certain amount of medications prior and you've had to you had to have seen a therapist for a year, and I'm sure they all had to write, like, letters and letters and letters for you. Yes. Even though this is safer treatment, there's like hardly any side effects, like, I think the only side effect they told me about was, like, headache and you're not you're not like, adjusting anything, like an antidepressant.

So, so that's a little frustrating because, you know, I'm like, I just don't understand why why insurance has anything to do with the treatment that your doctor decides on. That's a huge annoyance of the mental healthcare industry for me, because it's the same thing with antidepressants. So I've been on several different ones. Obviously, I did Tms, I had two failed a few because I started taking them in Like 2014 or somewhere around there, and, you know, it's like, they work and then it stops working, so they put you on another one and they have to go through this process. So they have to start with like an Ss Ri, which is serotonin selective service something re uptake inhibitor and then, you know, you have to try a couple of those and then if those fail then you can move to this one and then if those fail you can move to this one. So there's like this whole process of insurance requires your doctor to go through which is so frustrating because like if they don't know, it's just like the doctor should be able to choose what medication they think it's going to work best for you and not have insurance go through and waste your time because you have to keep going back and trying something over and starting over and then you have to go back pay another cope like all that money they thought they could save wasn't just always the time anyway totally, totally.

It's like the more that I deal with health insurance as a provider, as a patient, it's just like they just put as many hurdles as possible. So you just give up honest totally. It's infuriating. And then another thing that I recently realized with my insurance, I have great insurance. I'm very fortunate because you know, I know a lot of people wouldn't be able to even get the treatment that I am receiving. So I feel really grateful for that. But you know just thinking of like the whole like everybody in general who has health insurance like you know for mine it's separate my mental health insurance is separate from my regular insurance kind of. So like even though I've hit my deductible, I still have to pay $10 every single mental health session that I go to? So like like nothing nothing else no other doctor I would go to I'd have to pay money except for my mental health one. I don't know how that makes any sense at all.

But you know that's insurance and I know it's been that way on other insurance plans. I've been on where the mental health you have to pay more usually. Which I don't know. It just makes no sense. It makes no sense at all. I don't get it. Like who makes these rules? Like I can't get if I want to see a chiropractor have to pay cash on my insurance. But yeah because I'm a dependent on a military insurance. If I was a veteran I could go to the V. A. And then then they would pay for the chiropractor who like who decided that made sense. Yeah some of the rules are just tell me. Yeah so you don't so nobody bills and they don't have to pay out. So Tms was 66 weeks. And then I have to do regular sessions every so often. So I actually have one tomorrow and then I'll have one in another few weeks. So I have to do that pretty regularly until we'll probably do another six weeks session in about six months or so when insurance allows you to do another session of treatment.

So what use to prove to the insurance that it's worth it? Like, what is there just some uh questionnaire that you fill out before and after or they're just writing more letters again. Like how are you going to get it reapproved? Yeah, I think you have to take like that P A P. Q nine or whatever the assessment is, um whatever depression testing, I don't know what it is, like P. H. Q nine or something like that. Yeah, it's like a questionnaire and then each session I would rate like how I was doing that. So from my last session, so every single day I kind of go in and answer some more questions on top of the before and after and then and then I think they also submit all of my records, like medications, you know, sessions with my psychiatrist, all that sort of stuff, so, and the six weeks of TMS you're off of all of your antidepressants, right?

No, I'm still taking all of those. Oh, jeez. Yeah. So, so yeah, I'm doing that on top of and I'm actually right now, I'm on four different medications, which is a lot. And it just, all of a sudden, like, at the beginning of this year, just kept feeling like they just kept adding on top be like, oh let's try this, let's try this one. And because like this, this year, I mean it was hard for a lot of people, but I definitely felt, you know, I definitely was struggling this year along with everybody else and instead of taking them away, the biggest thing is like, we just want to feel better. So, you know, they added because they were like, we don't want to take this away and then you feel worse. And so that's kind of where we're at right now is we just added a bunch. So I'm I'm on two different antidepressants, I'm on a mood stabilizer and I actually got added um Ritalin, which I was pretty surprised by because I didn't realize that was a treatment for depression.

It actually can be a very successful treatment for treatment resistant depression. It wouldn't be like a first course action, especially since it's a super controlled substance, but it's helped a ton because if you think about it, like, you know, Ritalin is prescribed for like concentrating and focus and all ton of symptoms of depression or not being able to focus, not having concentration, foggy minded, you know, no energy, all that sort of thing, which is the Ritalin helps. Um So yeah, it's not um you know, I wouldn't necessarily want to be taking four medications, but I feel I'm feeling better with the TMS to, but I'm just like, you know what, it's working great and at this point at this point they're not in a position to reject any of these medications because you're basically at the top tier now, you made it to tMS right to the top baby, I've tried them all. They're like, they're already paying so Much for this one.

So give her all of it. But I do understand like the tiresome process of mental health in insurance because even through like this year and people who have never had therapists are seen as psychologists in their life now need it more than ever. And you know, my insurance is Kaiser, I don't know yours or others are. But even that you have to qualify for and they're like, first, you know, first session, phone session. They're like, well, I don't think you qualify for a therapist right now because you're not diagnosed. And I'm like, well, I've never been diagnosed because I've never seen a therapist or a psychologist uh like, well, I think I can put you down for anxiety and depression or like vague of things to start off with. And then from there find like some diagnoses through trail something down right?

That you need to go, well, proof that like, You qualified to talk to somebody and they will pay for those sessions. Like you still have to pay that $10 copay. But are you worth? That doesn't make any sense because like, you don't have to have a diagnosis. Exactly. I always I'm always like, I don't care. Everybody needs a therapist. Like everybody has problems. It doesn't matter if you have a illness or not, not a problem, health care, not according to the health industry and they send you all these ads saying, you know, a therapist is so important now when you're overloading on work and taking care of kids, but sorry, you actually don't qualify. I take that back. Oh, that's mad. Yeah. There's so many, so many interesting things with not interesting, stupid things with insurance, more appropriate word. Uh Remember I I had a therapist and we were doing 50 minute sessions, which is regular, and she was like, oh my God, These letters from your insurance that rejected all of our sessions, because you're only allowed 45 minutes, not 15 minutes.

I was like are you serious? Oh, you don't even get the full hour. Yeah. Right. Well, yeah, I don't know. And so they she's like, okay, I'll just change in the system. But it's like that, just five minutes, five minutes. Yeah, it's it's maddening. I don't know if it's gonna get any better, we'll find out. Hopefully one gets to vote on, and then, you know, we just keep cracking the whip. Oh yeah. And uh, do our best. They're like, yeah, even worse for the folks that have the insurance where you have to see your primary first, no matter what, Like, that's oh, oh my God, why? Why? I have to go to somebody else? Pay them waste my time. So they could tell the insurance. Yeah, yeah, let her go. And then I gotta go pay some. Also gonna waste my time. I could skip the middleman, yep, bullshit. It doesn't make any sense. Some bullshit anyways, so I mean we talked about a lot with scoliosis and power lifting.

Um, we didn't really get into body image or diet, culture or fat phobia or anything like that because I'm sure that is something all of us go through in terms of our disabled bodies in terms of just walking into a gym. Um, so maybe we could do that again next time. So I feel like that could be another hour. Yeah, that could be a whole nother thing. So I guess before we nip this in the bud, what would you give to someone as general advice? Like where should they start for both ends for mental health or disability or anything. Just a person where should you start? I think starting is, I don't know, just going and talking to somebody and the first person you talk to is most likely not going to be the last person you talk to, but I think just going and starting and having that initial conversation with a provider is so important to get some sort of information and just start having that conversation.

Um, it's, it's gonna be a pain in the gas and I think just going and preparing that is going to preparing knowing it's going to be a pain in the ass is a way to start and just don't don't give up. You know, there will be a provider out there who will listen, it might take a while to find one. But there is somebody out there who will and just keep advocating for yourself. Your symptoms are real, even if there isn't a diagnosis for them. So keep advocating for yourself because you are worth it. It's gonna be hard. It's gonna be hard, but it's gonna be worth it to. Yeah, very, very wise words. Yeah, I like that you mentioned that your first person is not gonna be your last because I know a lot of people who have mental health issues only rely on that one best friend or that one, you know, family member and find themselves unloading on just that one person. Um, finding a balance and finding other sources to kind of heal with is absolutely important.

Yeah, I can trust more than when he's someone like your, your first person is not going to be amazingly right for you and if they're not, that's okay. So that's a great point to bring up. Yeah, like everything else. All right. So we'll do this again sometime. But for now to save the girls out. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who left. We appreciate all of your support and everyone who's taken the time to show us some love. Don't forget to subscribe rate already. Review of our channel. We're on apple podcasts. Spotify player FM, google podcasts and more. You can also find us on instagram at disabled girls who left. Yeah, yeah.

E37: Depression, Scoliosis, and Powerlifting (Cassie Arenz)
E37: Depression, Scoliosis, and Powerlifting (Cassie Arenz)
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