Katie Beecher

@katie-beecher | contributor
Katie Beecher, MS, LPC is a Medical Intuitive, Licensed Professional Counselor and artist.  My incredibly accurate abilities have been featured in Gwenyth Paltrow’s online wellness magazine Goop. My website is www.katiebeecher.com. For more information about me and my medical and emotional intuitive readings please click on my website. I have thirty one years of experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor and I’m writing a book about my recovery from an eating disorder and Lyme Disease using Jungian Counseling, recovering from a dysfunctional family and my life as a medical intuitive. To follow my Facebook page the link is www.facebook.com/beechermedicalintuitive.

Welcome to the Spoonie Community, Lady Gaga

I’ve always admire Lady Gaga – but I have to admit I’m not her biggest fan. I know a couple of songs, but I’ve always find fascinating how she is true to herself and encourages others to be true to themselves too. I think and believe that she has changed the lives of many people, especially neglected and bullied teenagers, by making them feel comfortable on their own skin. Through her music, her wardrobe stravaganzza, and her empowering messages, she has created a community of people who are proud of themselves after years of self-hate and denial. She’s kind of a mental health activist, and educator, without meaning to be so, through her lyrics and statements. For that, she’ll always have my respect. But this week it came to my ears and eyes that a lot of tabloids and comments were talking about her health. I knew she had a chronic condition, but there’s such a variety that even though I felt compassionate and identified with her, I had no precision. And one day, there it was. Lady Gaga has fibromyalgia. I’ve battled fibromyalgia for six years now, and it has been a tough road. Not only because of what it implies for me as a patient to deal with all the symptoms, but because of the lack of information and education. It’s such a complex condition, but no one has any idea about it. Every now and then I hear, “Stop blaming everything on fibromyalgia.” And it’s terribly frustrating for me because fibromyalgia’s symptoms are in the wide range from psychological issues and brain fog, until stiffness, bruises, and muscular weakness. So yes, I blame it on fibromyalgia because it is a damn complex illness which manages to affect every single part of me. I’ll be a psychologist in a few months, so I’ve been through way too many conversations and seminars about how fibromyalgia is the “psychosomatic disease by excellence,” and how all of us who have it “are repressing and don’t know how to express emotions.” And the point is that I don’t care if that is true or not. I’ve been to the ER a couple of times for horrible fibromyalgia pains. When they ran all the tests and saw that it wasn’t a heart attack or a fracture, but ribcage pain from fibro, they just lowered my status to “psychosomatic.” They gave me a few pain killers, brought the on-call psychiatrist and the conclusion was that I need to lower my stress levels. Don’t they think I know that? But then I wasn’t an emergency anymore, and I spent hours at the ER, because it’s somatic… so I just had to deal with it, have patience and keep smiling while people looked at me like I was making it up. And it’s real. And it gets me. Once I got into a car crash because my leg stopped working… and bam. I went directly into the front car bumper. The driver, in this rage and looking me like I was the dorkiest, most unable human behind a wheel, asked me, “What the hell is going on?” In tears, I told him, “Sorry, my leg stopped working because I have an illness.” God knows I had to pay for that. And for the lack of comprehension of friends and family and dates who don’t get why I’m so “lazy,” why I’m always tired, why I cancel plans, why I sleep for 14 hours and wake up feeling unrested, why I use a cane, why I cover my body. So there I was, reading tabloids that said, “What is fibromyalgia? Lady Gaga’s hard disease,” “Lady Gaga’s uncurable disease.” There were also comments saying, “Wow, it seems terrible and awful. I fell sorry for her.” And I couldn’t help but laugh at first, because there are so many advocates who’ve been trying to do that for years, but none of us are famous. So yes, people make fun and tell me if I have Lady Gaga’s illness, and I laugh. I see it becoming a trendy disease, a famous topic and it’s weird. But I thank her because of her courage of accepting the disease and making people, because of mere interest or morbid curiosity, to find out and educate what the hell fibromyalgia is, and that it’s real. That it can affect anybody, and it does affect a lot of us. That it made her cancel her tour, as it makes me cancel plans or skip classes. That it brings depression, and anxiety and this horrid brain fog. Thank you Lady Gaga, for staying true to who you are, even if that means accepting a diagnose not everyone will understand. Thank you for what you are doing in terms of education and awareness to our community. We welcome you, our dear spoonie, with our painful and bruised arms wide open. We love, support, and understand you. May we all have a brighter future ahead. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page

Welcome to the Spoonie Community, Lady Gaga

I’ve always admire Lady Gaga – but I have to admit I’m not her biggest fan. I know a couple of songs, but I’ve always find fascinating how she is true to herself and encourages others to be true to themselves too. I think and believe that she has changed the lives of many people, especially neglected and bullied teenagers, by making them feel comfortable on their own skin. Through her music, her wardrobe stravaganzza, and her empowering messages, she has created a community of people who are proud of themselves after years of self-hate and denial. She’s kind of a mental health activist, and educator, without meaning to be so, through her lyrics and statements. For that, she’ll always have my respect. But this week it came to my ears and eyes that a lot of tabloids and comments were talking about her health. I knew she had a chronic condition, but there’s such a variety that even though I felt compassionate and identified with her, I had no precision. And one day, there it was. Lady Gaga has fibromyalgia. I’ve battled fibromyalgia for six years now, and it has been a tough road. Not only because of what it implies for me as a patient to deal with all the symptoms, but because of the lack of information and education. It’s such a complex condition, but no one has any idea about it. Every now and then I hear, “Stop blaming everything on fibromyalgia.” And it’s terribly frustrating for me because fibromyalgia’s symptoms are in the wide range from psychological issues and brain fog, until stiffness, bruises, and muscular weakness. So yes, I blame it on fibromyalgia because it is a damn complex illness which manages to affect every single part of me. I’ll be a psychologist in a few months, so I’ve been through way too many conversations and seminars about how fibromyalgia is the “psychosomatic disease by excellence,” and how all of us who have it “are repressing and don’t know how to express emotions.” And the point is that I don’t care if that is true or not. I’ve been to the ER a couple of times for horrible fibromyalgia pains. When they ran all the tests and saw that it wasn’t a heart attack or a fracture, but ribcage pain from fibro, they just lowered my status to “psychosomatic.” They gave me a few pain killers, brought the on-call psychiatrist and the conclusion was that I need to lower my stress levels. Don’t they think I know that? But then I wasn’t an emergency anymore, and I spent hours at the ER, because it’s somatic… so I just had to deal with it, have patience and keep smiling while people looked at me like I was making it up. And it’s real. And it gets me. Once I got into a car crash because my leg stopped working… and bam. I went directly into the front car bumper. The driver, in this rage and looking me like I was the dorkiest, most unable human behind a wheel, asked me, “What the hell is going on?” In tears, I told him, “Sorry, my leg stopped working because I have an illness.” God knows I had to pay for that. And for the lack of comprehension of friends and family and dates who don’t get why I’m so “lazy,” why I’m always tired, why I cancel plans, why I sleep for 14 hours and wake up feeling unrested, why I use a cane, why I cover my body. So there I was, reading tabloids that said, “What is fibromyalgia? Lady Gaga’s hard disease,” “Lady Gaga’s uncurable disease.” There were also comments saying, “Wow, it seems terrible and awful. I fell sorry for her.” And I couldn’t help but laugh at first, because there are so many advocates who’ve been trying to do that for years, but none of us are famous. So yes, people make fun and tell me if I have Lady Gaga’s illness, and I laugh. I see it becoming a trendy disease, a famous topic and it’s weird. But I thank her because of her courage of accepting the disease and making people, because of mere interest or morbid curiosity, to find out and educate what the hell fibromyalgia is, and that it’s real. That it can affect anybody, and it does affect a lot of us. That it made her cancel her tour, as it makes me cancel plans or skip classes. That it brings depression, and anxiety and this horrid brain fog. Thank you Lady Gaga, for staying true to who you are, even if that means accepting a diagnose not everyone will understand. Thank you for what you are doing in terms of education and awareness to our community. We welcome you, our dear spoonie, with our painful and bruised arms wide open. We love, support, and understand you. May we all have a brighter future ahead. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page

Alex Brown

My Depression Does Define Me

My depression tells me I’m broken. It’s a sentence that’s been repeating through my head for the past few days. I’m broken. My heart is broken. My soul is broken. My spirit feels like it is irrevocably broken as well. I feel as though this upward climb I’ve been fighting through has just gotten steeper and I, myself, have gotten weaker. I battle through each day with a smile on my face for fear that if someone sees the pain underneath, they’d see the real me. I talk to my depression like it’s another person. It visits me from time to time and I never know how long it’s going to stay. We get into arguments and we battle constantly over who is going to prevail. I keep saying it’s me but right now I’m not sure if it is. I break so easily on things I never thought would hurt me. I miss a time when I used to get through the day without an Ativan. I miss not having to remember to take my antidepressants every day. I miss not feeling like getting out of bed was a chore and that my feelings weren’t a burden. Because right now, my feelings do feel like a burden. I feel like I can’t be honest with people without them worrying I’m going to do something rash. I’m tired of depression being this big piece of me I have to constantly admit to. It feels like something I just want to keep hidden and not let define me. The truth is though, my depression does define me. It’s a part of me, a huge part. It contributes to all of my decisions and my strong paranoia of not being good enough. When I start dating people, I have to tell them the reason I don’t have more than one glass of wine is because it screws up my antidepressants. I can’t just say that one sentence without the follow up explanation as to why I’m on antidepressants.   I hate feeling fragile. I hate the way someone looks at me after I tell them about my depression. I hate feeling as though something is inherently wrong with me even though deep down inside I feel like something’s wrong. My mom once asked if it be the worst thing to be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. It wouldn’t be the worst thing, but then, it’s admitting this is a chronic mental illness I will battle with for the rest of my life. I don’t want to think of it as something I can’t cure because I don’t want to believe in its longevity. But there’s a really weird thing that happens every once in a while when I share my story. I meet other people feeling the exact same way. I meet people who feel guilty that depression makes things feel a 100 times worse than they actually are. I meet people who feel as though while there really isn’t anything wrong in their life, they just can’t seem to be happy. That’s the thing about depression, there’s no real reason to have it, you just do. It’s a part of your brain. It is something that is for some reason your reality. It’s mine too. So I get through the bad days trying to remember that even though my brain is telling me I’m broken or that there’s something wrong with me, there really isn’t. I have a little bit of a harder battle than some, but a little easier of a battle than others. You can’t compare your struggles to anyone. You can’t let your mental illness tell you you’re worthless. You need to find the inner strength you’ve found this far and pull from it when the days get tough. Depression is a part of me but it doesn’t own me. It doesn’t own you either. Not now. Not ever. This post originally appeared on Thought Catalog. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via sSplajn

Katie Beecher

Lessons I Learned After Thinking About Killing Myself as a Teenager

I was just like you. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything so presumptuous or arrogant, but I was. Not all of you, just the people reading this who hate themselves, who are depressed or anxious, who think life isn’t worth living and there is no way it will get better. People who don’t have any friends, who are being bullied, who don’t have support at home, I was just like you at one time. I don’t know exactly how you are feeling. This kind of assumption would be insensitive, but I know how I felt, and I bet we have a lot in common. I often felt unlovable and confused. I’m much older now. Age brings wisdom if you learn from your experiences and face your fears. I love being around young people, often more than adults. Their creativity, energy, new ideas, talents and way of viewing the world is inspiring. They fear what they don’t know sometimes and think they should have all the answers. No one does. Learning is part of growing. I’m not any smarter than any young person, but I do think I have learned some things that would benefit you, especially if you are struggling. 1. You might not actually want to die. I really didn’t want to die when I thought I couldn’t continue on. I wanted to feel better. It took work, but it was possible and worth all the time and effort. 2. When you think no one cares, you aren’t thinking hard enough. If you were not here, you would be horribly missed. 3. High school ends, and real life begins. You will meet people who aren’t jerks. You can make friends and find love. I’m not just saying that. I know from reunions and Facebook that we find our person, sometimes more than one, no matter what our social status in school was. 4. You are so much stronger than you think. Everyone is afraid and insecure, even if they pretend not to be. 5. Most people have no idea how other people really feel about them. They see our beauty, our talents and our heart much clearer than we see it ourselves. 6. The “faults” we hate, most people don’t even notice. They are too busy thinking about their own lives. 7. It is the unusual, unique and different people who have invented or created things we use every day. They are the artists, innovators, changers, people who inspire and often the most successful. When you are common, you aren’t threatening. There is nothing for others to be jealous or afraid of. We need more people like this in the world. 8. An enormous number of successful, brilliant, amazing people have been bullied. They include Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Sandra Bullock, Tyra Banks, Justin Timberlake, President Obama, Robert Pattinson, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, Chris Rock, Michael Phelps, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Alba, Tom Cruise, and I could go on for pages and pages. 9. We are all important, and we all matter. If I were not here, my children wouldn’t be either. I can’t imagine a world without them. It wouldn’t be fair to deprive the world of what you might do or whom you might love or help. It is possible to love yourself and be happy. I am, and I do. I am very loved, and I make a difference. You can have a happy life too, if you stick around. It may not happen tomorrow, but it is worth waiting for. Please, choose life. Image via Thinkstock. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Image via Thinkstock.

Jennifer Lovy

When My Son With Autism Approached Another Family on the Beach

We were at the beach yesterday, and my son Evan kept vacillating between trying hard to be extraordinarily good and having a hard time controlling his frustration. He chose the extraordinary good when he decided to approach a boy about his age and his entire extended family. “Can you please stop making those siren noises? It really bothers me,” I heard him say from across the sand. Evan proudly ran back to me to announce what he did. Evan also told me the kid hit his inner tube after he asked him to stop making the noises. I knew he wasn’t lying, and I was surprised nobody said anything to this boy about hitting my son’s inner tube. I was also mad when I heard the grandmother say, “What was that all about?” I couldn’t understand what was so confusing about a kid asking another kid to stop making a noise that scared him? I waited until Evan was out of earshot so I could tell her “what that was all about.” They saw me approaching, and I watched grandma and some other family members tense up. I never like to have these conversations in front of Evan, but this family clearly needed an explanation because I think explaining autism can help raise awareness and, hopefully, acceptance. I — a person who despises confrontation — was surprisingly calm as I walked over to the family at the beach. “My son has autism and certain noises really bother him,” I said. I was preparing to add more when they interrupted me. “He has autism, too,” someone said. “He’s mostly nonverbal, and he likes to make that sound.” I looked down at the boy, who was sitting in a beach chair, his face obstructed by a wide-brim sunhat, and I saw a 10-year-old boy I would soon learn was named Connor. His mom and I high-fived each other because I guess that’s what you do when you meet a stranger who understands your unique experiences raising a child who doesn’t fit neatly into a box. Among all moms of kids splashing in the water and digging in the sand, we knew we understood each other more than any other parent at the lake that day. We talked briefly, trading stats on our kids like they were professional baseball players. But instead of discussing batting averages, we talked about things like sensory triggers and being nonverbal. I told her what a big deal it was that Evan didn’t just come over and start yelling at her son for making those noises, and that this was the first time I’ve seen him appropriately advocate for himself. But as we both knew, moms don’t always have much time to chat when their kids are around. Our conversation lasted less than a minute before Evan required my attention. We said a quick goodbye, and Evan and I had a little talk about autism, too. I told him that Connor also has autism and that he makes those noises because it makes him happy or it helps him feel better. I told him that Connor, who is the same age as he, may have hit his inner tube because he doesn’t have words and was probably upset someone told him to stop doing something that was making him happy. I think Evan liked meeting someone new with autism, because when we got home he kept saying things like “autism is awesome” and “I love autism and special needs and disabilities.” I never expected the conversation to go the way it did. I was prepared to unleash the wrath of a momma bear on this family and then get a half-hearted apology. Instead, I met a member of my tribe. We shared a high-five and a quick talk about our sons. Evan may say he loves autism. I love that autism can be everywhere because it makes it easier to find understanding in a world that can be cruel and judgmental. It was nice to meet you yesterday, Connor’s mom. I’m so glad you were there to understand exactly what was going on and what a big deal it was for Evan to be the self-advocate he was. I hope the next time someone approaches you about Connor’s noises, your interaction goes as well as ours did today. Follow this journey on Special Ev.

Katie Beecher

An Eating Disorder Nearly Killed Me And I Couldn’t Be More Grateful

To most people, that probably sounds like a strange thing to say. By the age of 16, I was binging and throwing up three times a day on average, during a normal week. When I wasn’t in the act, I was thinking about doing it or thinking about my weight, my body, food, laxatives, how much water I should be drinking, what I looked like in general and if I was good enough. I later realized, after much hard work in therapy, most of it was a feeble attempt to deal with the dysfunction that was my family. I am now 51 years old. As I read about young people and even older people struggling with this issue, I am propelled back in time as if it were yesterday. My chest tightens as my breathing stops, while I recall feeling out of control and completely helpless. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, a charade that consumed almost as much energy as the disease itself. Sometimes, I fooled myself into thinking I could beat it by myself, while other days it seemed like the only way out was death. It was on one of the latter days that the first part of the gift came. Out of nowhere, it seemed at the time, I decided I had enough. I wasn’t choosing death. I was choosing life. I knew I couldn’t count on my parents. Somehow my 16-year-old self decided to call our pediatrician and tell him what I was doing. It  was 1983 and there was little to no awareness of bulimia at the time. So he said I was probably fine, but I knew I wasn’t. Fortunately, he gave me the name of a therapist, and even though it took me a while to muster up the courage to call her, I finally did. I had a job and a car. So I really didn’t need my parents to help with the therapy and they never got involved with it. When they did find out, they weren’t very helpful to say the least. I worked very hard in therapy, harder than I have ever had to work at anything. I was extremely determined to get better. This essay is a quick version of a longer story of course, but I did and I am so grateful. Some people don’t. As horrible as it was, the eating disorder was a gift in so many ways. (These are not in any order of importance.) 1. I realized I had depression and anxiety and it was not my fault. I also learned there were valid reasons for my depression and anxiety. The way that people acted in my family wasn’t acceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated. My feelings were real, whether or not other people liked them. 2. I learned so much about myself. Actually, I learned I had a self. I spent my entire life trying to be who my parents wanted or needed based on their own issues, rather than my own needs and desires. Self-acceptance is the key to recovery. 3. I learned about my gifts of empathy, intuitiveness, creativity and how to use them. My therapists encouraged my gifts and creativity I wasn’t comfortable sharing with others. 4. I was able to separate from my dysfunctional family and connect with my intuition. From that point forward, I was never alone. I went on to college and became a Licensed Professional Counselor. I now work primarily as a Medical and Emotional Intuitive with people all over the world. I am so fortunate to be doing what I love every day. If I had not experienced the pain, then I wouldn’t be doing this work and assisting others on their journeys. I wouldn’t know how to help people connect with their own intuition and accept themselves, like I had been taught and guided so many years before. If I had taken my own life, then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do these things or raise my two beautiful daughters differently from the way I was raised, in a marriage with a person who loves me more than I could have ever imagined anyone would ever love me when I was 16 years old. Life isn’t perfect. I still struggle with anxiety sometimes but I have the tools to deal with it. I would be lying if I said I never thought about my weight. We live in a society focused on appearance. When I read others’ stories of hope, I’m thrilled to know this is available. When I was young, we didn’t even have the internet. You really never know what is going to happen tomorrow. I suppose that is just one of the reasons I feel so devastated when I hear about a young person who ends his or her life. If he or she had waited just one more day, then maybe something would have gotten better. Perhaps, two days after would have been worth waiting for. If anyone reading this is considering suicide, then I hope you will consider waiting, even just one more day. What can it hurt? My life ended up pretty great when at times I never thought it would. I even planned how I was going to do it. I’m so incredibly happy that I didn’t. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.