How Blogger, Mackenzie Brown Uses Self-Care to Combat Multiple Diagnoses
KK: Can you tell KK Readers about yourself and your blog?
MB: Last year I was diagnosed with PCOS and thyroid disease, and then I’ve had depression since 2012. That was my first serious episode. My grandma passed away and then six months later one of my friends passed away. It was just a really bad time. I got on antidepressants, and things got better. In 2018, I had to have thyroid removed and then 2 or 3 months later I had an ovarian cystectomy. In that period I got really depressed because my thyroid went from hyper to hypo. It was basically like I quit taking my antidepressants. I forgot how bad the episodes could be. I never attempted suicide, but I just didn’t really care to live. I was hopeless. I thought it would be better if I died in surgery, it would be better and easier. My friends were all in relationships, getting houses and making money and I just felt really discouraged in that area, so I decided a blog about what I’ve been through. There are a lot of young people who go through chronic illnesses and mental health issues. Many people just don’t get it, and they say things that are very cliche. A couple of my friends were also diagnosed with chronic illnesses, so I decided to tell my story in hopes of helping someone.
KK: How does PCOS affect your battle with depression?
MB: PCOS effects my hormones, so it definitely makes a difference. Before I had a part of my thyroid removed and I was creating all those extra hormones, I would go through short little bouts of depression, so I thought it was just normal. I felt emotionally unstable for like a week, and then I would be fine. I’d be irrationally angry, and then I’d feel ashamed about how I reacted. I’d cry about it. Then in July after I had my tumor removed, I found out I had hypothyroidism which I noticed really affected my depression. I had terrible mood swings. It was extremely overwhelming. Everything I felt was magnified. It made me realize that my depression was real. I had been depressed most of 2018. I began to withdraw and isolate myself from friends. Texting and going out required so much energy that I just didn’t have.
KK: How does mental health stigma affect your battle with depression?
MB: For me, it doesn’t affect it because I’ve always been a super open person. I’ve never felt ashamed about what I’ve gone through. When I apply for jobs, I worry that if I check that I have a disability, they’ll discriminate against me and not hire me.
KK: How do you motivate yourself to keep your blog running in the face of your chronic illness, mental health issues, and other obligations?
MB: I had to take a break from my blog recently to focus on myself to produce better content. I keep a running list of all my blog topics that I want to cover. I read a lot of self-help books that keep me very aware of myself and how I’m doing. Some of them give you things to think about and helps me see other perspectives. There are times when I want to give in to my depression, I can read, and it reminds me to be positive. I like them because they show me that I’m not alone. It’s a part of my self-care.
KK: What advice would give you to anyone struggling to manage multiple diagnoses?
MB: Your health is important. Don’t take one diagnosis more seriously than the other. Also, don’t take everything your doctors tell you at face value. They don’t know you like you know you. It can be overwhelming but do your own research, take notes, ask questions. When you have the knowledge, you have the power. Remember it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but don’t it consume you. Hopelessness is the worst feeling in the world if you ask me. It’s also dangerous and effects everything. Start a journal, start a blog. Make time for you! Self-care is number when facing all of this.
You can catch Mackenzie and more by following her blog, themackbrown.com or on Instagram @imperfecthealth_pcos_thyroid.