Say the Word Suicide: The Telling | Article F18

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Apparently, in titling this article I found out the difference between “tattle tailing” and “telling.” Tattling, as it were, is reserved for those who aim to have someone else get in trouble by revealing other’s secrets. Telling is for reporting to another individual that someone is struggling or otherwise needs help (definitions as listed by Safe 2 Tell Organization of Colorado).

 

In this way, it’s only fitting for this series to have a look at the most fundamental rule of dealing with a person struggling with suicidal ideation: to tell and to tell loudly.

 

Assuming that you are close to an individual that has told you whether directly or indirectly that they are having suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you: ask for additional information, assess if they are a current danger to themselves, get them extra support if they are and take care of yourself after the fact, too.

 

It’s not easy to ask someone: “are you having thoughts of killing yourself” but it can be entirely life-saving. I know that suicide is a very loud word most often not spoken about, but I swear that unless you’re talking about specific suicide methods, you won’t be planting the idea into their head when you ask them outright if they’re thinking of killing themselves.

 

In fact, I’ve always found it a breath of fresh air when someone has asked me directly. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes, I might not reveal all of the pertinent information. And yes, it could be the one thing that prevents me from ending my life–because it means someone has noticed me, someone has noticed the pain I’m in and that I don’t feel like I can go on living with that pain as it is right now.

 

There’s something about my experiences with suicidal crises that are the picture definition of ambivalence: I want someone to hear me, see me, acknowledge my existence, my pain and I also want them to leave me alone and not try to help me. But at the end of the day, I do want help. Because maybe I don’t have to die, maybe what’s being said in my head isn’t true at all and maybe there’s another avenue of help and hope that was just within my reach if I hadn’t followed through on suicidal plans.

 

I mentioned in my article “Treatment 101: Resources Part 2” that the hardest decision I had to make in my life was to choose to live and the second hardest was to tell someone. In my years of getting treatment, I was almost always the relatively responsible one in the relationship that would tell someone, even if it meant creating a middle man situation, that I was suicidal, had a plan, had intent and was still uncertain.

 

I think back then I told because I was actively in treatment, much like I am now. I told because that little sparkle of hope was still inside me and I knew from witnessing a NAMI IOOV presentation that that hope had a reason for existing.

 

When I was at the crossroads between choosing to live and choosing to die, I thought about what ending I wanted to be told about my life. Would I want to be the one telling the story about what I did to overcome the darkness or did I want to just give up and let the story end prematurely? This is a concept I still use in my current day-to-day treatment.

 

I know now that from being stable for so long that I’m really not the sum value of my experiences with suicidality and mental health conditions. Back then, I didn’t have this yet, but I believed it could still be there for me if I just kept on breathing another breath.

 

I’ve also mentioned before how just holding on for the moment can be the most important thing, too. When weeks and months are too long, too complex for me to stay alive for, I work with the minutes and the seconds instead.

 

Maybe because the root of my suicidality was OCD I never truly wanted to die. In some ways, I believe this to be true but I also want to add caution to this idea as well—over time a person who is suicidal will try more dangerous and more severe attempts to end their life. Unfortunately, with time a person can learn how to be more effective in ending their life.

 

So, yeah, maybe John is just saying people would be better off without him or that Stacey saying goodbye is just abnormal behavior for her, but do you really want to take that chance? If a suicidal individual tells you to keep their intentions a secret—don’t. They may hate you for it, but at least they’ll be alive to hate you. The same cannot be true if they follow through.

 

Stay safe.


Article written: 10.23, 10.25, 11.7.2018

PD A/N: Boy, I am EXHAUSTED. It’s currently Wednesday when I’m either publishing this or sending into a schedule post for Th. Regardless if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that Wed I did a lot of coursework so I’m feeling super exhausted about that now and am ready to just end the evening on a high note and go to blissful sleep.

Additionally if you follow me on Twitter you’ll also know that I wrote some fanfic (a new story) the other day and I actually had time and inspiration to write more for it today which is really awesome. Although I want to edit a video I also really want to get offline so who knows what’ll happen next.

For now, that’s all I’ve got. I’m utterly exhausted lol. We’ll chat more later.

<3<3<3

Treatment 101: Resources Part II | Article F18

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In between the time of my article on “Resources”, its publication and before the article I wrote called “Giving Myself Credit” I actually had the opportunity to try out some of the phone numbers I had listed in my article. The results were mixed; but having gone through that experience and the aftermath of it, I have more resources to add to the list and honestly you can never have too many resources.

 

A nation-wide National Alliance on Mental Illness phone number that you can call with questions regarding treatment options, psychoeducation and local resources can be reached Monday-Friday 10a-6p at 1800 950 NAMI (6264).

 

Additionally to the crisis texting service 741-741 you can also try the words “GO”, “MHA” and “NAMI” to begin a session. The code word variation for this crisis service is mainly for documenting trafficking purposes (i.e. what brought you to this resource).

 

Another 24/7 call center comes out of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). When calling this number you can find out more local resources specific to your location, the call is confidential but it is not a counseling service.

 

For emergency service programs that are covered by MassHealth, Medicare and uninsured plans there are some South Shore MA crisis lines you can call. The one I found online that is a state-wide ESP open 24/7 can be reached at: 877-382-1609, and you enter the zip code you are in at which your crisis is taking place. Namimass.org can provide a further more expandable list of the different ESP’s across the state, as well. The Taunton-Attleboro crisis team can be reached at: 508-285-9400. The Brockton crisis team can be reached at: 508-897-2100.

 

If the person who is suicidal is undergoing an immediate crisis by which they are determined to be an imminent danger to themselves, it’s best to call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. You can, if you call 911, specify that it’s a psychiatric emergency so as to potentially lessen the intensity of the situation unfolding from already chaotic to traumatizing.

 

In Boston, the Samaritans state-wide number can be reached 24/7 at: (877) 870-HOPE (4673). They also offer a text-based service at the same number.

 

The Samaritans on the Cape Cod and Islands can be reached at: 800-893-9900. Further county specific and nation-wide phone number listings can also be found on suicidehotlines.com.

 

Another resource rich website that I first discovered back in 2015 is called: metanoia.org. It lists out in easy to understand text what a suicidal crisis is like for those who struggle first-hand and for those whose family members, friends or other loved ones experience their loved one’s crisis, what suicidal crises are versus not and continues to offer hope and guidance for those who have momentarily lost their way. They also include some of the national numbers that I have listed here and in the first part of the article series and offer additional book references and websites to learn more about specific mental health conditions and so on.

 

Additionally, specific to not only UMass Boston but also to other college campuses there are other avenues of help that can be referred to. It might be daunting and unpredictable to approach a stranger when you’re in crisis, but it is an option (even if it might be further down the list). You can tell them that you’re not feeling well and that you need to get to X location, and ask them if they can help you to get there (whether that’s the Counseling Center, calling someone else, contacting Public Safety, going to the ER, etc.) You can also communicate to an MBTA officer how you are feeling and ask for someone with crisis intervention training for further aid.

 

Your professor can also be someone you approach to get you to the Counseling Center. You can also get in touch with further resources and communication between yourself and your professors via the Dean of Students. Above all, it’s important to remember that there are many alternatives and avenues of help and hope that you can turn to when you’re lost in the darkness.

 

Suicide, as it were, is a permanent action to a temporary crisis. You can live beyond this point of hell into the brightness of the sun and the blossoming of the flowers nearby. You can be okay again. You can be you again.

 

The hardest decision you will make will be to choose to live; the second will be to tell someone how you’re *really* feeling.

 

Stay safe.


Written: 10.23 & 10.24.2018

12/12 A/N: Okay, you won’t know it but I actually scheduled my Friday post before this one until I realized I referenced this one before that one. What? I’m so tired right now lol. I’m off to sleep soon but I hope that you enjoy this piece. Tomorrow (or today, as it were, being Th and all) I will be reading and notetaking for my final paper that I so, so, sooooo hope I can get completely finished by Sun and then will have less to worry about, yay. Almost there, 2 more days. I’m bringing my camera tomorrow and have to go through space issues soon. Okay, that’s all.

Thanks for reading!

❤ ❤ ❤

Boundaries & Social Media | Article F18

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“When the morning comes and when we see what we’ve become, in the cold light of day, we’re a flame in the wind, not the fire that we’d begun. With all that has happened, I think that we both know the way that this story ends. Then only for a minute, I want to change my mind, ’cause this just don’t feel right to me. I want to see you smile but know that means I’ll have to leave. Lately, I’ve been thinking: I want you to be happier” – Lyrics from “Happier” by Marshmello ft. Bastille.

 

Boundaries, as defined by Google, are lines that mark the limits of an area. Boundaries are healthy, helpful necessities, if not requirements, in our daily interactions with one another–stranger, friend, colleague, family and the like. When we cross a boundary, whether it’s our own or someone else’s, it often brings up a very uncomfortable feeling. You’ll know when you’ve crossed a boundary when everything hits the fan and implodes.

 

One boundary that I know I tend to struggle with is making myself available to help a friend with their life’s issues. I have an often knee jerk reaction to want to overstep my own boundaries that keep me safe and healthy by providing my public email address or giving out my phone number to someone who may be struggling, either online or off. This could be a boundary violation if this person tells me something that I may not be equipped to handle safely on my own (think: suicidal intention). I may inadvertently be opening myself up to a whole world of trouble if I can’t properly compartmentalize my own issues versus someone else’s which would then put a spotlight on my own urges which could have been avoided with a simple but difficult ‘no’ or knowing my own limits and what I can and cannot do (I’m not a mental health professional after all).

 

One way I can approach this particular example is if I place a limit to begin with that I’m not a professional, I can only offer support as a peer and that I can’t be reached from the hours of 9p-8a.

 

The intention of boundaries is to keep each party safe. Burnout, job loss and spite can certainly form if boundaries are crossed repeatedly over time or even just an unlucky once.

 

Social media in particular produces an even more difficult prospect of handling boundaries and doing what’s right versus what *feels* right at the time. If you wouldn’t friend your professor on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t friend your therapist either.

 

The latter is especially hard to handle because issues of confidentiality arises and social media is a giant square of gray where it’s uncertain as to whether things should be a certain way versus not. Even if it’s a person you once worked with in the past, it’s tricky to tell what is appropriate versus what is inappropriate. Additionally, dual relationships are frowned upon. A dual relationship is if you knew your therapist from your weekly sessions but were also a student of theirs in your core class. It’s likened to having two contradicting roles with one person where neither or both of you will not be able to separate one role from the other and things just get really, really messy.

 

Essentially, don’t take it personally if your therapist doesn’t friend you back or respond to your messages online because the legalities and ethics of the situation haven’t been clearly mapped out yet–as far as I know!

 

When I was friends with Luna we didn’t really establish any clear boundaries, not that I can recall at least. This led to a lot of boundary crossing on my part, a lot of feelings and eventually an unhealthy relationship that I’ve been able to leave behind (even with urges to re-engage), avoid completely and unfollow from all social medias whether they were indirectly or directly hosted by Luna.

 

But if I’m being honest with myself, I have to account for the fact that on and off for the last four years I’ve Googled, found social media accounts and knew more things than I should have about Steve. He was technically my therapist four years ago and although he’s across the country now (something I shouldn’t know) I recently found his Twitter and I really, *really* wanted to message him even while being highly aware that it would be inappropriate, unethical and very uncomfortable for both parties mutually. Instead, I’ve run a few pros and cons lists in my head, wrote this article and in all actuality it would be really weird if I did contact him because so much has changed–I’m not the same person now as I was then and there’s no real need for me to reopen old wounds. I also don’t feel comfortable breaking his confidentiality for the sake of too many emotions on my part.


Written: November 6 & 7.2018

12/11 A/N: Heyyyy guys! I’m scheduling this post for tomorrow (Wed) to space them out a little more. This is part 2 of the 3 part saga related to my ending relationship with Luna.

I’m excited for this weekend as I just have my final paper/project to do and to study for my last Biol exam on the 20th and then I’m completely finished with classes!! My friend, whom I have yet to find a proper pseudonym for Vanessa, is in the hospital and I might be visiting her either this Sunday or Tuesday, since classes end on the 13th and the visiting hours at the hospital they’re at is 4p-7p. It’s about an hour and a half away and it would be quite the trek, but I think I might do it. I’ve got to get over my driving anxieties and there’s only one way to do that… I’m hoping I can arrange to go up during the day time instead though, but we’ll see (I’m thinking 2p.)

Any who, I hope that you enjoyed this post! I’ll be trying to write up fanfic stories and upload videos and edit videos, and I also am hanging out with my friend David again for us to film building gingerbread houses around noon on this Saturday. So I’m super excited about that.

But, I’ve said enough! I have to upload a fanfic and shower and do a few other things…and I’m probably gonna stop by Michael’s tomorrow for a cute journal I’m hoping to give to Vanessa. :3

So, that’s it! Oh, and the song:

Thanks for reading!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

Treatment 101: Day Programs | Article F18

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I’ve been to two main day treatment programs over the duration of my four years in recovery. I wouldn’t call the OCD-Institute a day program as I would stay there overnight even if it wasn’t a locked unit (which having been to about three locked units or psychiatric hospitalizations before then was a very strange concept to me) which is why I’ll be making a separate article in this series all about that (and mentioning the use of support groups).

 

Day treatment programs are psychiatric treatment programs you go to during the day but come back to your place of residence at night. So, they aren’t hospitals but places filled with therapists instead–which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

 

The first day program I went to was in a more well-funded hospital chain that I landed in around June 2015. This hospital stay coincided with an anti-psychotic that they started me on for the OCD that gave me a tight jaw and that later, when I attended their day program for a couple of weeks, I actually at the end of it attempted suicide again for the second time with the medication they gave me to help with the tight jaw. On an aside, most of my suicide attempts were done outside of the hospital and only one of them did I get hospitalized for (it was a moderate attempt).

 

Besides that, this particular hospital I’ve been able to go to a few other times over the years since. I remember during my first stay there, there was a nurse they sent in to talk to me as he also lived with severe OCD for a time and they thought I could take some inspiration (which I did) from that and his recovery.

 

This particular hospital’s day program lasted only for a couple of weeks and shorter amounts when repeating it again (as in, I had 2 weeks in 2015, but 1 week in 2017 etc.). They were set up with two different tracks (A and B) and had some psychoeducation groups, therapy groups and the like from about 9a to 2p. To be honest, although I do still have notes about this, I haven’t reviewed them since I wrote them and I don’t completely remember the specifics for this particular day program. One of the therapists there actually helped me to break away from saying “my OCD” to “the OCD”, if you remember my old article on “OCD and Identity.” Additionally, this is the same day program that first told me to put the OCD and all its flattering thoughts “on a shelf.” I literally looked at the woman who told me this like she had three heads. They also brought up the idea that maybe my writings and artwork about OCD were compulsions (as even these articles are repeatedly questioned by many of my treatment providers).

 

However, Passages, my current day program I can speak about more at length! This one is rarer these days as long-term day programs are more difficult to find (although they’re incredibly helpful and amazing if you can find them!). As clients we all have a state insurance that pays for us to be there. Sometimes finding the right amount of treatment that one can actually afford can be difficult, although I’ve been pretty lucky in this regard, myself.

 

Since attending Passages, I’ve been able to make myself comfortable and stable over these last nine months. Passages holds a partial program which is from 10a-3p, and a day program from 9a-3p–the latter is the one I’m in, for perspective I did one week in partial five days a week and then transitioned to the day program three days a week.

 

They offer a *lot* of DBT at the day program, CBT, art groups, psychoeducation, addiction education, group therapy, self-esteem, communications and some game related groups. The lunch period counts as a group called social support. Passages is essentially a house full of therapists and we’re all there for treatment for one thing or another, at different places in our recoveries.

 

They offer a DBT-Intensive program that is a 6-8 month commitment (what I’m in). If you’ve read my other articles this information will look familiar and overall, Passages is an excellent opportunity for a lot of psychological work to come through and be a place of positivity and light. I’ve definitely gotten comfortable with being there and being my authentic self and even having my articles be read over by my therapist at Passages.

 

It is a lot of work, though, and it’s so, so worth it. Getting treatment has given me my life back and made life worth living again. Recovery doesn’t end and it, like acceptance, is an ongoing, active process; they are continual choices to be better, to be healthy and to thrive. We do all have bad days and it’s how we respond that matters most.


Written: October 31.2018

PD A/N, 12/11: Heyyy everyone! Back with another old upload! We’re moving quickly into the last round-ish of articles. I wound up writing MHfML yesterday and plan to write another article today while trying to balance my time to give out goodie bags and positive messages and such (although I feel less confident about doing that, we’ll see what happens, maybe Th I can do more etc.) It’s weird that I won’t be in school much longer where I was able to give away so many things. I wonder how I’ll modify this activity for the future…. Any who, hope you all are well and that you enjoyed this article! More to come soon, of course. ❤ ❤ ❤

Any questions or concerns, leave them down below! 🙂

Treatment 101: Therapy | Article F18

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Note: I will be exploring more specific avenues of therapy in dedicated pieces within this series, but I thought I would add some general thoughts on the idea of therapy as a whole. In fact, those avenues I will explore in the future include: DBT, ERP, mindfulness, cognitive distortions and ECT.

 

Looking back at my teenage years, something I make it a point not to do (I like who I am now much more than my younger self and tend to think of myself as who I became in my late adolescence rather than my earlier childhood) I probably could have benefitted from therapy. At the time I felt uncomfortable in my body having to deal with scoliosis that would later require surgery. I felt a lot of guilt about it; would spend hours ruminating on it and was very ashamed of it and closed off–pretending everything was fine when it wasn’t. Thinking of this now, it’s probably the reason why I’ve embraced my mental health journey and choose to be open about it instead.

 

The first time I started therapy was actually once every two weeks with a therapist at the Counseling Center who specialized in eating disorders that I received help from for my intense procrastination between summer 2013 and early winter 2014. I really liked the person I was working with and although the sessions didn’t come with results right away, over the winter break I did completely clean, reorganize my room and become more organized overall. From my sessions with this therapist I may have been introduced into SMART goals, breaking the tasks I was procrastinating on into smaller, doable chunks and I still have all the notes and scrawled penmanship stowed away from these sessions. My therapist wound up leaving and for a while whenever I saw a woman with brown curly hair I would think of her.

 

I will add, this coincided around the time I began the second year of OCD symptoms but I was too afraid of what they could mean that I never brought it up in my sessions with her.

 

The second time I entered therapy was when I came back to the Counseling Center in fall 2014. This is when I started to see a graduate student once a week for what I fooled myself into thinking was procrastination issues again but what turned out to be a psychiatric diagnosis. We had just covered OCD in my abnormal psych class but I hadn’t made the connection between those symptoms and myself until Steve mentioned it to me and I later researched it, finding an online article that I 100% related to. There were maybe two or three emergency sessions I made with the Counseling Center during this semester when I was duped by the OCD thinking I was actively suicidal when it couldn’t have been further from the truth.

 

Of course, depression entered the party over the winter break which resulted in my first attempt to end my life. One time I had walked into my session with Steve carrying my chosen suicide method and when I realized that they were going to send me to the hospital, I tried backpedaling so hard but it didn’t work and I was picked up by ambulance. I remember Steve actually doodled with me while the police officers were on their way and the EMT’s came.

 

From here, I switched over to seeing my OCD specialized therapist in Brookline for two sessions a week for a year. I didn’t like her right away (mainly because she wasn’t Steve) but I did get something out of my sessions with her for a while. When I found out the OCD-Institute involved a three month waiting list I wound up in the hospital again. Towards the end of my year and a half with this therapist I found I was stalling in my recovery so after being inspired from therapy talk in a psychological trauma class in fall 2016 I began the quest of finding another therapist.

 

In maybe February 2017 I began to see my more current therapist April. I saw April for a year once a week. April was actually the one to recommend Passages to me although my insurance at the time didn’t cover it. 2017 was a tough year for me, and in February 2018 I began my work with Passages.

 

In May 2018 I transitioned over to my therapist who works at Passages, for the duration of the time I’ll be at their DBT-Intensive program.

 

Therapy, like medications, will likely be things I have to use throughout the rest of my life, and I’ve come to accept that. Not being nearly as symptomatic has led me to happier days and vast amounts of stability. So, with the right help, it is genuinely possible.


PD A/N: This piece was written October 22 & 31.2018

So, I only JUST found out that instead of having the last week of classes our final paper production, it was LAST week. Which means I end on a cliffhanger so for my own sanity I’m going to write up my true FINAL 3 pieces this week and send them along to be published NEXT semester. So they’ll be from F18 but technically published S19. Good enough for me, that’s what I say!! I’m a little swung around a loop because of this news although I was aware that it’d be strange if they’d publish this week since classes end the 13th, but I hadn’t thought further than that about it. Oh well, we all make mistakes.

My last three articles will be: Treatment 101: Reframing Cognitive Distortions, My Hopes for My Legacy and A Commentary on My Article Evolution. And I’ll probably mention at the start of them when I wrote them in my journey and online here it’ll be easier to keep them all together, as they should be, rather than with the paper deadlines spreading them out further. Okay, sounds like a good plan! I’ll continue to upload my pieces as it were on here. (Although I’m tempted to take the break to not write these articles right away… gwah. Who knows, MAYBE I will take a break for a while. Not sure yet. Gah, indecisiveness!)

About this piece: I think it tells itself, but if you have any questions I’m actually working up on answering more of my messages so I’ll be around! When I’m not studying, lol. Hope you’re all well!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Treatment 101: Medications | Article F18

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Medications: dosages, kinds, prescribers, side effects, costs, stigma and hospitalizations. One word that carries with it so much more weight than we ever truly stop to realize.

 

I’ve gotten used to taking medications daily for my well-being, stability and peace of mind–but it wasn’t always like this for me.

 

I first got introduced to the concept of medications to manage the OCD back in the semester I was diagnosed, fall 2014. Steve had mentioned that I could try medications as an additional alternative to managing my symptoms but I wasn’t interested in that at the time.

 

During my first hospitalization in January 2015, the idea was brought again to my attention at Unit Z. I was still stubbornly against the idea of having to ‘rely’ on the aid of medications in order to treat my mental health.

 

But, I was given some information on an anti-depressant and a nurse spoke to me one-on-one about the idea. I was wary. But I remember that she observed that trying to treat the disorders ‘on my own’ wasn’t working out too, too well for me (as I was in the hospital), so she brought up whether I had anything to truly lose.

 

I decided that I didn’t, so I took the medication.

 

At this point in time I was beginning to transition over to a therapist outside of UMass Boston that I hadn’t actually met in person yet. Being in this limbo, I also didn’t have a psychiatrist and would get my medications prescribed to me from a nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office.

 

A couple more hospitalizations later I did arrive within the doors of my still ongoing psychiatrist. The medication I was on got increased a few milligrams and I got some nasty irregular heartbeat side effects from it, so I was promptly taken off of it and a new medication was added to the mix.

 

While seeing this outside psychiatrist, who we’ll call “Phil”, I remember the first real trepidation I had over taking medication: would it make me different than who I am and would I have to give up my friendship with the depression? There’s a twisted and almost cruel relationship one can form with their disorder. It becomes comfortable to feel really crappy and when identifying as a suicidal blob as I did at the time, I was afraid of what possibilities and new opportunities would become within my reach again if I got better. It’s as though the idea of getting better became more of a nightmare than being complacent with the depression and OCD.

 

But the person I am in crisis is not the person I am while stable. And I’m more than a suicidal blob or another label of a mental health condition. Yes, the diagnoses are a part of my story, but they’re not the entire picture. This is something I would come to believe and later understand years after.

 

Around June 2015 I was hospitalized again and started on an anti-psychotic to treat the OCD that gave me the side effect of a tight jaw. I was taken off this medication and added to a new one later.

 

In 2016 I arrived on a balance of medications that I stayed on pretty regularly.

 

In 2017 new medications were thrown into the mix again and I believe this was around the time I started on a booster medication to help with the anti-depressant and in September was taken off of that and added to a few different medications, including another anti-psychotic. One of the medications I was on around this time gave me low blood pressure so when I saw Phil again after my inpatient stay I was taken off of this too.

 

By February 2018 I began my current level of medications: two pills of an anti-depressant in the morning and one pill of an anti-psychotic at night. I went up on the anti-psychotic following my last hospitalization and finally received the weight gain side effect that I had bypassed for three years. Which, as I was underweight to begin with, wasn’t such a bad thing.

 

Overall, Phil and I have a good rapport. He listens to what I have to say, takes my concerns into mind and treats me well. I feel heard and listened to when I’m in his office. Medication adjustments for me were often gradual and it felt like an open discussion. He’s helped me to look at diagnoses as a fluid spectrum. He always reminds me when I’m doing unwell that I can call to reschedule an appointment if I need to see him sooner than whenever my actual appointment is.

 

I may be on medications for the rest of my life, but if it’s a stable life, then I’m okay with that. And even when it’s not, I know there are options for me now. That, in and of itself, is a blessing.


Article written: October 23rd 2018

PD A/N: Heyyy everybody! Here’s another recent-ish article from this semester! Because the paper switched from biweekly to weekly this is the semester I’ve had the most written, what’s right now 25 articles and by the end will be 30. 😀 Super exciting!! I’m making lists of all my articles which is helping me to post these newer ones onto here in mostly the same order and I’m reviewing all of my articles in general for a commentary piece I hope to write soon. 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!! It’s currently 12/2 and I’m messing around with a new video in the editing stages. 🙂 I think I’ll put this up tonight as I finished my psych coursework a few hours ago, took a shower, ate dinner, took my meds as it were and got a nice massage. :3 Tomorrow it’s more coursework but maybe I will have some time for fun artsy activities. 🙂 Yay! I’m so behind in videos, but I hope to get back on top of them soon, or  at least before the end of the year!

Any who that’s enough from me! Hope you guys are all well. ❤

Welcome back to another week of blogging/updating articles. 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤ xxx

Treatment 101: Hospitalizations | Article F18

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Two years ago, I spoke at length about what my experiences have been in psychiatric hospitalizations (“Inside a Psychiatric Hospitalization” parts one to four). For this article, I’d like to review some of those experiences and the average layout of most psychiatric hospitals.

 

As is the case in most things in life, there are good psychiatric hospitals and crappy psychiatric hospitals. A particular system that is on the cruddier side comes to my mind immediately and the affiliates that it belongs to, but as a NAMI IOOV presenter, we are trained to not give out specifics regarding hospitals we’ve personally been to or medications we are currently on (similar to not mentioning specifics about suicidal ideation, which is pretty normal for most group settings as well). So, because of that, I have my hands tied on being more particular about those specifically cruddier places.

 

I am able to say what made those particular places more difficult than others though: dysregulation and non-containment. Not only does the milieu of the hospital matter but the people working there on that unit, what groups are offered and also the group of people who are also present as patients themselves. Psychiatric hospitals are the hub of intensity. You would meet people there who are at their lowest low, their hardest hardship and who are varying degrees of ill.

 

Some people never leave their rooms, some people talk to things that the rest of us can’t see, some will shout and be extremely loud, some hit and punch other patients or staff, some are on one-to-one’s because they’re either a danger to themselves or others. Some are on fifteen-minute checks (the normal there) and some are on five, again, depending on their safety level. A mental health specialist (or associate in some hospitals) tracks what you do every set increment of time specified in the last sentence: how much you eat, whether you’re awake or sleeping, whether you’re socializing or in groups, whether you’re being safe or not, etc.

 

You can have visitors, specified mainly on weekends and evenings when most groups have been dealt with for the day. Groups range depending on the hospital—my third hospitalization in 2015 only offered art therapy groups and the black chain linked fence on the outside of the property was pretty frightening (each hospital has a different level of how strict they are, and this particular one I was at has since been closed down). A lot of hospitals will have art therapy groups, psychoeducation groups, SMART recovery groups, therapy groups etc.

 

You’re not allowed to have shoe laces, anything with strings (most of us walk around with our freshly supplied padded socks), anything with wire spirals (pens included in some places), belts, electronics. It’s a locked unit so you can’t go outside of it whenever you want to (and you will want to). Depending on the hospital the cafeteria may be located on your unit or you may have to travel downstairs with an MHS for it. Some of them have exercise rooms or allow you to go outside when the weather is nice.

 

Basically, you’re watched in almost every possible way. Listing it out like this, I can recall why psychiatric hospitalizations feel intimidating and daunting.

 

But, they’re not all bad.

 

They’re necessary for those of us who are struggling with suicidal or homicidal ideation (though I can’t speak much on behalf of the latter), self-harm, medication adjustments, intense emotions, thoughts or behaviors (particularly if they’re unsafe behaviors). Some of the staff, along with some of the patients, you won’t particularly like, but that’s the case in most circumstances anyways.

 

The last time I was at Unit Z was in January 2018 and I had such a great batch of roommates that we’d often be chatting and laughing together and it felt far more like being on a vacation than a psychiatric hospitalization. I remember one moment where someone was telling a story and I proclaimed how wonderful a color this nude crayon was and that I was promptly going to steal it so none of them would ever see it again.

 

I have loads of souvenirs from my hospitalizations: coloring pages friends have given me, contact information of fellow patients (with varying degrees of keeping in contact with people outside of the hospital), my own art endeavors, books, ambulance blankets, scrubs, a coffee cup, a bin for toiletries, loads of hospital bracelets, and likely other things that I’m forgetting.

 

Essentially, the hospital is there when you need it, and I know that one day I may need it again, and that that’s okay. The hospital begins my journey of re-stabilization and the work to do that exists outside of those four walls.

 

But man, is freedom a fantastic feeling.

 

Stay safe.


Article Written: October 18.2018

PD A/N: Honestly? I haven’t re-read over this article and this is the last thing I’m doing this Thursday night so either I’ll come back to edit this author’s note or I’ll just leave it as is. *shrug* Any who, it’s time to rear up the evening into a close for me here. Still got a few things left to do though. 😛 This article is an article and if you read it you’re here now and I don’t have much else to say (feels like that end credits scene with Cap in Spiderman Homecoming doesn’t it?) Take care, peeps! ❤ ❤ ❤

Giving Myself Credit | Article F18

 

NEW Articles THUMB = 11.29.18


Everything we do we do to the best of our ability given what we have available to us in that given moment. Recovery is not about a destination, it’s a journey–there will be good days and harder days, good moments and darker ones, and we do our best to get through the darker ones so that we get to see the rainbows, unicorns and sunlight again. Because they *will* come. Whether it’s in minutes, hours, days or months away–they always come.

 

Recovery is essentially about progress, not perfection. We are flawed and imperfect human beings. Those of us, who choose recovery, choose to take the path of wellness and healthier behaviors every chance we get, no matter how exhausted we may feel. And we will feel exhausted some days. We will slip up. Sometimes we will fall back into old behaviors. Recovery is a continuous choice over the duration of multiple events to choose a healthier action over an unhealthy one. And if recovery is about progress and not perfection, then it’s time to give ourselves credit for everything we do right.

 

I, for one, have been able to keep myself stable for eight months and counting. It’s not that I’ve been pain-free for that duration of time but that despite the challenges I’ve been able to stay as safe as I can. I’ve been eight months without the hospital. Eight months without scratching and a few hours from scalp picking and hair pulling. Only once did I lapse in self-harm back in June, and I promptly told my treatment coordinator about it at program and handed over the method I used to my parents. In all of those eight months, I’ve had near crises and actual crises that I’ve handled.

 

And although I went a year and a half away from the Counseling Center and a year without calling hotlines, that doesn’t mean it was always the best thing for me or the healthiest decision.

 

Because getting help when I need it should never be seen as a weakness, rather an immense strength. Because needing help, more help than what I can feasibly manage on my own, is not a source of failure but of success. To recognize that I can’t, and don’t have to, go through something alone is so absolutely amazing.

 

So, when I found myself struggling with burnout in the first week of October, I recognized while filling out my DBT-Intensive homework that I needed to put down my pride, a difficult task, to call a hotline, because I needed more support than what I could muster by myself.

 

And I tried one, and the wait was a little long so I tried another. And another, and another, and unfortunately, I blossomed into a full-blown crisis. A crisis so severe, something I haven’t had in a very, very long time, that I didn’t know how to handle it on my own.

 

So, I didn’t.

 

I got extra help by crying my way over to one of those blue Public Safety columns and pushing the red button. You see, I knew I needed to get myself to the Counseling Center on campus, but I wasn’t certain I could get there by myself, safely enough. And maybe that was because of all the OCD intrusive images of harm and death, the catastrophizing of the future and consequences that would meet me if I acted on the thoughts (I had an exam the week after that I couldn’t miss), the ‘trauma’ of previous hospital stays and having to walk back through those Counseling Center doors. It was a lot…a *lot*.

 

So I pushed the button because I felt that I needed to. And to put this into perspective–three years ago I would never have considered an active suicidal plan and method available to me as an emergency. A year ago, I only ever imagined pushing the button as I was actively suicidal with a method available.

 

While in hindsight I may have done things differently, it ultimately got me safely where I needed to be: on emergency in the Counseling Center. I got to challenge thoughts about feeling like a failure for needing help by writing this article dedicated to remembering that the messages I represent in my articles apply to my own experiences, too, and that I do genuinely believe in those messages.

 

I also learned about giving myself more credit for my accomplishments. I learned more about self-care, I learned more grounding techniques, challenging myself to look on the bright side, mindfulness and paying attention to my positive triggers, what situations bring me joy and happiness and how can I incorporate more of these into my daily life (positive psychology principles).

 

It wasn’t wrong; it was what I thought I needed at the time. And I survived, and survived well.


Article written: October 10.2018

PD A/N: Heyyyy guys!! Still trudging through updating you all on here about my latest articles! Today I made a new thumbnail for articles (as you saw earlier) so let me know what you think of it!! Additionally, for audio purposes, I made a list of almost all my articles through the years as I’ve going to write a commentary piece to them before I graduate! So, that’s neat!

I made the newer thumbnail to toggle back and forth on Twitter as most of my articles these days don’t include my photography, so, that’s a thing! Any who, I’m going to schedule some upcoming posts now. 🙂

How are you guys doing??

Stay safe! ❤ ❤ ❤

Also, since writing this article I’ve had chances to celebrate my wins and I’m doing a lot better with that in my life overall. 🙂

Say the Word Suicide: Do’s & Don’ts | Article F18

Articles THUMB


“I’d be so lost if you left me alone. You locked yourself in the bathroom, lying on the floor when I break through. I pull you in to feel your heartbeat, can you hear me screaming please don’t leave me? Hold on I still want you. Come back I still need you. Let me take your hand, I’ll make it right. I swear to love you all my life. Hold on I still need you.” Lyrics from “Hold On” by Chord Overstreet.

 

There appears to be a pattern in my articles as of late that so many of them are ones I’ve been sitting on for years. When I heard this original song (I had only heard Amanda Nolan’s cover before) I found that the lyrics would fit perfectly into what I’d like to cover in this article: mainly the do’s and the don’ts regarding approaching someone struggling with suicidal thoughts.

 

Do: Validate the person. Remember this quote and use it as a guide to dealing with someone’s struggles: “It’s not about how bad the situation is; it’s about how badly it’s affecting someone.” Saying things like, “that sounds really hard for you to be going through” and validating a person’s feelings even if you don’t completely understand them is critical. A lot of active listening skills will be key, as often the person struggling with suicide wants, above all else, for someone to listen. So try not to go too heavy on advice, unless they have asked for it!

 

Don’t: Correct the suicidal individual on what methods of suicide are lethal or not. You would think this would be pretty obvious, but I’ve had friends tell me before “Oh, X won’t kill you but if you do Y, then it will. But don’t do Y.” The person struggling with suicidal thoughts doesn’t need advice on what method to kill themselves with. (Unfortunately the Internet is a common place for finding out such answers).

 

Do: Get help. Find resources (you could even refer to my “Treatment 101: Resources” article), stock up your phone with helpful apps and know the different avenues you can go to for extra support–not just for the individual struggling with suicidal thoughts but as a self-care measure for your sake, too! If the crisis is immediate, as in, the person struggling is actively suicidal *right now* contact 911 and do *not* leave them alone under any circumstances. At that point, medical intervention is required and they will likely be hospitalized, which may ultimately be the safest place for them.

 

Don’t: Do *not* say “if you were really suicidal you would have already killed yourself.” No one has to *prove* how suicidal or not they are, and I for one, always took this as a challenge (and for me proving my suicidality was a big issue) and had the distorted thoughts myself that no one would take me “seriously” unless I was dead. Which is convoluted thinking, yes, but in the moment it seems to make sense (when in a crisis, our thinking processes are warped. Rationality goes out the window, which is why having a safety plan on hand is so important with crisis centers numbers already written out.)

 

Do: Provide hope. Comprise a list of people with lived experience who have survived their suicidal thoughts (Kevin Hines) and remind them that suicide is a permanent action to a temporary crisis, that feelings and thoughts will pass and that stability and health can be restored in the future. Remind them that this crisis will not last forever, that they are strong enough to choose to live and that life can get better again.

 

Do: Say you’ll check up on them, only if you mean it, and actually follow through. It’s easy to retweet these messages on Twitter without actually following through. But just a little message checking up on someone could mean the world. So, be good to yourselves, your friends and loved ones, and strangers, too!

 

Maybe: Depending on how well you know the person, it might be beneficial to remind them of who they have in their corner. I think wording here is pretty crucial, and I think knowing your limits in the relationship is also pretty critical. (i.e: “I don’t know how to best help you and I want to be there for you in your time of need. What can I do to help you?”) Be careful with telling them that “but think of your family and what this will do to them” as in my own experiences that only made me feel guiltier, and my brain was telling me that I’d be doing my family a favor by ending my life. It’s a case by case basis, I feel on this particular do or don’t.

 

Is there anything you can think of that I missed?


Article written: October 2nd

Song choice (which will later have its own post):

Present Day Author’s Note:

Heyyy everybody! Back again, finally, with another (older) article! I’m working on getting this blog more up to date with my articles as the semester is rearing towards a close and I’m juggling more things than I can count! Gonna work on another article(s) right now, so for now, here’s this one and I hope that you enjoy it and can get something out of it!

See you all later! ❤ ❤ ❤

xxxx

Treatment 101: Advocacy | Article F18

Articles THUMB


“May you know the meaning of the word happiness. May you always lead from the beating in your chest. And may the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrow’s…Here’s to the lives that you’re going to change…Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have. Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you. I want you to have it all.” Lyrics from “Have it All” by Jason Mraz.

 

I included the lyrics to the start of this article as a way to show how my soul’s essence can be wrapped up and represented in another individual that lives out in the world somewhere. I’ve been honored to meet some of these people, some in real life and most online. People who want to bring light and positivity to those around them by creating little pieces of art or sending goodie bags to others around their country (namely April Rhynold in Canada and Katie Houghton in England). It’s who I aspire to be, and I’ve been lucky thus far in my recovery that I’ve largely been able to achieve this goal.

 

I want to be the person who has something to give to others. I want to be that someone who can help to brighten your day—whether it’s just a little smile, a basic hello and genuine interest in knowing how you *really* are, giving away goodie bags of my own (mainly stationery, let’s be honest) or little art pieces. I just want to be that person who walks around with tools ready to give away to others, in case I happen to come across someone who is having a harder day than usual.

 

And as I said earlier, I’ve already managed to do that in some respects. In 2016 I gave away little positive messages—little torn up scraps of paper with drawings and sayings on them, mainly made up from my own mind that I would then give to people around campus.

 

In 2016 I also got involved in advocacy, something that comprises a *huge* part of my recovery. I reached out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)’s In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentation coordinator from a daily prompt in a journaling book and have been going around MA since April 2016 sharing my story in recovery from chronic suicidality, OCD, depression, BPD and self-harm—oh, and trichotillomania, I always forget that one!

 

Also, in 2016 I began submitting work to this very newspaper. I remember my first article was about stigma and I remember someone who worked at the paper coming up to me and asking if I’d prefer to be anonymous or not. I thought about it briefly and figured, hell, I might as well slap my name on it.

 

I didn’t realize then what I know now. And even now, I don’t completely understand how brave and how amazing it is that I’ve chosen to be very publicly open about my struggles with mental health.

 

I liken the process to waiting on the sidelines for someone to come up to the podium in this little community. I waited and I waited until I just one day stood up and said, “Well, I guess it’s going to be me!” Sometimes if we choose to wait for someone else to do something, we could be waiting forever. Sometimes we have to choose between sacrificing an inch to save the whole worm.

 

I justify my decision to be so open about my struggles in the thought that what I say matters and that it can help someone out there. More importantly though, it can help someone to learn how to help themselves (I’m not a hero in that sense!).

 

If, for whatever reason, stigma or limited job opportunities come to me because I’ve so publicly shared my story, then that’s something I am at peace with. Yeah, it would suck a lot. Yeah, it wouldn’t be fair. But I’d have lived within my truth, within my purpose and in line with my values. And ultimately, that’s all that really matters. (Besides, I plan to go into fields that are centered around mental health anyways).

 

I choose to share my life with you all because I genuinely believe that my voice is worth sharing, that vulnerabilities are a strength and that choosing life and treatment is worth it. I really can’t imagine myself doing anything differently if I had to do it over again.

 

Most of the time though, I don’t realize it’s such a big deal. I’m so accustomed to it now that I forget the impact that I could be having on others. Unless you explicitly tell me, I won’t realize this. I also highly enjoy ego boosts, if you do want to tell me!

 

After all, we are only given one life.


Article written: October 2nd 2018

Links to:

April & Katie

Song lyrics from: (they’re mostly incorrect in this video but you get the drift)

Author’s Note:

I hope that you guys enjoyed this article! I’ll be working on getting out my other articles from this semester up online hopefully before school ends completely as I have a few last article ideas to write up myself (more TM 101, a legacy piece and commentaries)! I’m supposed to be doing bio coursework right now so I have to get back to that. Hope you’re all well. ❤

Reach out any time. ❤ ❤ ❤ xxxx