Planning Paper Part 2

Okay, so I wrote my introduction paragraph, a good 3/4 of the page.

Now it’s time for me to start the first research paragraph. In this paragraph I want to discuss the first reading and fifth reading sources I have so I can tag team them in that one paragraph, but if I need to I can also split them up into two paragraphs if I have a lot to say.


Okay, I’m gonna try and remain calm. Phew. Wish me luck!

*heads into the deep woods again*

1 page in! Yippee!!!

Hope and Mindfulness in the Tea House (PLANNING)

Because maybe if I start writing my paper here, where I’ve been able to successfully write posts, maybe then that’s a place to start and a way to bite back the procrastination and anxieties I am feeling.


My paper is 9 pages long (or it will be once it’s written). In the first page, I’ll have my polished introduction. I want my tea house project piece to be incorporated in nature and to have a safe space feeling to it. I likely will be adding skia (sp) accents to the piece, by having wall decals, a pale yellow color, positive messages and maybe some other added elements. I need to think where in nature my tea house would be located. In what season?

Then I have to apply the research. I need to give myself 45 minutes to review the material so that it’s fresh again and I can then have a better time writing it since right now with nothing in my head but fear and worry and paralysis of words, isn’t helping me out at all.

I want to get all the research part of it done tonight. I have to go to the stinkin’ dentist at 4:30p and to school afterwards to get some rental books back and extend one which of course I can only do in person and of which the bookstore closes at freakin’ 6:30p Gee, great. I feel like by now I’d rather just pay for them and deal with it later. *sigh*

I have to try and focus on what I can do. Gosh, before I dealt with OCD  I could do and handle these kinds of assignments. Now…it’s just a mess.

I can likely wake up early tomorrow, but I have to stick to an early bedtime tonight. Being awake but barely at 4am won’t help me at all. I have to finish this paper. I have to write it. Grrrr you fingers and brain for putting up a fight!!


Let me try and write now, I’ll return in half an hour with an update. Gotta keep myself sane somehow.

My Friend, Jeanine

Today’s Daily Prompt: Buddy

As I don’t have permission yet to use my dear friend’s name on here, I’ve dubbed her as Jeanine instead. This is the story of our friendship.

Jeanine and I met during our psychology class together, about behavioral research, it was a research methods course, one of those required major courses sort of thing. I spotted her, maybe before she spotted me. It was fall 2014. I got diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions and I was brand spankin’ new to the mental health world. I hadn’t struggled with mental health issues before this point in time, although the OCD began making its way through me the two years prior to that point in time, I just didn’t realize it was OCD–or any type of illness, anyways.

There was some blur of a day where I saw Jeanine was wearing shorter sleeves. Her long dyed hair would sparkle in the sunlight and she had brown eyes that you could tell had seen a lot. I saw on one of her arms a series of lines, and I had a hunch about how they got there. I wanted to talk to her about it, to offer my hand to her, but I didn’t know how. It makes me a little squeamish to say, but I knew I wanted to be her friend right then and there. Maybe that’s not the greatest way to start a friendship, but, it’s where ours began on my side of things.

Jeanine is a very smart, intelligent young woman. She would answer questions a few times in class and I couldn’t help but marvel at her knowledge, since from where I sat I had my nose in the books falling asleep because the OCD hadn’t given me a break the night before.

I believe there was one day we saw each other on the train or something. I can’t quite recall… but we spoke about Halloween and I was telling her how I wanted to dress up as Loki from Thor and the Avengers movies and how she told me I’d be able to pull it off. I think that was the first time I told her how amazing and beautiful she was. She said I was awesome too (a bonus!).

I would notice the times where she wouldn’t be there for class, and I would be worried. I hadn’t yet known of what she was going through, and I know it’s not my place to share such details on here. When we would see each other, I was happy.

I recall one afternoon we were speaking with each other in the Quinn building on campus, and I think I had asked her how she was, and Jeanine had expressed how the semester was going roughly. I offered her what small amount of hope that I could, telling her that for me, too, the semester was rough, but it was at least coming to an end soon. I think in this semester I had mentioned to her that I had been diagnosed with the OCD, I think mentioning even that I was struggling with the self-harm and suicide obsessions, which is a feat for me because I hadn’t been too open about the matter yet during this time. We worked on a project together and with a few others and that went pretty well. I think that’s how we got each other’s email addresses, even.

Then the winter break came along… and come and pass it did.

We were both surprised to see each other again in the spring 2015 semester, in the same adolescence course. I believe it was around this time that we wound up sharing phone numbers to stay in better contact with each other. Or maybe it was in the fall…it all blurs together, really.

But I know that after my first hospitalization, in February, we met up together one day at lunch in the cafeteria and I began asking her about her scars and what mental health issues she was dealing with. We began having a very open discussion back and forth about our troubles then. From there, we would catch each other when we could, and we’d talk, even when I had to withdraw from the course we were in together again. Even when we’d be struggling or when we found out our therapist’s office were near each other’s. Then a few times we went on the train together to get there, and I’d try to snag my appointments to be on those same days too, so we could ride together for a while.

I remember, possibly even that first day in the spring where we spoke with each other openly about mental health issues, that I asked her what coping strategies she had. Maybe, too, that was the day we rode together to therapy, because I recall counting off a list of coping strategies to her, one involving coloring.

The next time we met, she said she’d gotten a coloring book. I was shocked! “Those exist?” “Yeah, I got one at the bookstore around X” “Oh my god, I must see these things!”

And so, one day we did. Jeanine had discovered ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘The Enchanted Forest’ coloring books by Johana Brasford. I fell in love with them, just as much as she had. It blew my mind to know there were coloring books out there, as I had gotten freebie coloring sheets from the hospital.

I remember Jeanine telling me she had mentioned me to her therapist that day I sparked her imagination. I, too, had told her to mine.

Jeanine and I began hanging out, even going over to each other’s houses which still marks the few college friends I’ve had where we do that. I would be by her apartment, not actually going in until this year, and she’d come over to my house.

We made it a goal to watch the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie together. That, and Jurassic World. We did go on those movie watching days. They were wonderful.

As we hung out together more, able to confide in one another about mental health, I began seeing how else we could get along and mesh. Jeanine enjoys drawing and has created some beautiful pieces, may I add, and she likes coloring and MCU and reading and the colors red and black and we even made bracelets together a few times!

That was our first hanging out together, in the library up in the city making bracelets. One of hers, tied precariously so, wound up sputtering all over the place in a tragic yet hilarious fashion.

As we’d hang out together, I found there was something different about discussing mental health issues with Jeanine than any other person–and then I realized it was because we were BOTH still in the midst of our issues. Others I had spoken to about my troubles were people who’d been through it and were striving now. But with Jeanine, we were both caught up in it, still.

I like being the positive force in our friendship, and Jeanine has it in her too, because she’s helped me out plenty of times, too. It’s an honor to be the recovery voice and I can share that with her and hope that at least while we see each other, it brings her some joy and light for when the other days don’t quite measure up.

She is a gifted musician as well, oh my, and her singing voice is lovely! I hope and dream for her to be able to use her talents one day, possibly even incorporating them into what career path she aims to follow.

I want her to be well and happy and loved, because I certainly care about her a lot.

Over the last summer we managed to stay in pretty good contact. Over the fall semester 2015, which I had taken a leave of absence from, I saw her a couple of times, especially when I got out in December. We met multiple times then, until there was about a three month break or so.

Sometimes I think I need her more than she may need me. It was tough being on that break. I texted her a bunch during it, and would think to email her, but would often forget to. I thought about her a lot, hoping she was all right and that she was carrying on. A few times, and even in the last small break, I worry that I’ll have to look for her name in the obituary. More than once I had to just push aside my thoughts and feelings of concern for her because if I thought about it too much it’d be too upsetting. I just kept holding onto the hope and faith that we’d see each other again. That we’d get into contact again.

After about three months, I sent her an email and soon after, I saw Jeanine’s name pop up on my email. CONTACT WAS SUCCESSFUL!

When the spring break came in 2016 I marched my way over to her and where she was receiving some treatment. We went to Joann’s Fabrics, Friendly’s and got lost in Boston that day. With me driving. For the first time. In Boston. Oh, my GPS, leading me astray ever so!

It was …. quite the adventure, put mildly so. But we did make it out alive! I didn’t know how to get home from her apartment that night so thinking on our feet, we decided to have a double sleep over–she came with me on the way home and slept over my house and then I went back over to hers after taking the train in later on and after I saw my therapist, and then headed to her apartment. I even got to see some of the plants (almost said planets, haha) that Jeanine has!

It was such a fun and enjoyable time, then. And we came to the conclusion we hardly knew any of the same songs together! But, that’s a work in progress now.

We were going to hang out another time in April but it didn’t work out for Jeanine and the next time didn’t work out for me, either.

Slowly, another small break began then, and texting and emailing wasn’t yielding me with any results.

So, a week ago, I did the next best thing. My Mom and I were in the area, we genuinely were, she drove me up to Brookline for my therapy appointment which she sat in on and then we were around the Boston area anyways after I had gone to school that day, and so we stopped by Jeanine’s.

Buahaha, that’s right, I unexpectedly and without forewarning showed up at Jeanine’s to pop on in. Except, well, I couldn’t get IN so I left two notes for her–one on her car and one in the little mailbox.

I can happily say, she contacted me the next day. (I left all my info for her in the note)

And even more happily, we’ll be seeing each other tomorrow.

Buddies, pals, friends, buddeh, they can be tough to contact at times, but when you’re really there for them, you’re really there. Just as they are for you. Jeanine is a wonderful, gifted and beautiful young lady, and I am so very honored to call her my friend. ❤

Caring for you deeply, Jeanine. ❤

— Raquel


Above All, Love Yourself | Article S16

Imagine this: You’ve taken an exam in one of your classes, didn’t feel so great about it, and upon getting back the results your worst fears are answered. You did terribly on it, and you chastise yourself about the bad grade, thinking things like “You’re such an idiot, how could you screw this up? You’re a failure, you can’t do anything right.”

Sound familiar?

Now imagine it was a friend of yours that came to you with the bad grade. Would you call them an idiot, a failure or that they couldn’t do anything right?

Most likely, no, you wouldn’t. You’d probably advise them that they’d do better next time, ensure they adopt some better studying habits to do better the next time, ask if they’ve tried study groups or give them a chance to just vent to you and then get their mind off the subject matter.

So why can we treat others top notch while we neglect our own selves?

In truth, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can assure you that it’s a normal, common experience to treat ourselves poorly even though we would share kindness to those around us. Maybe it has to do with our expectations, our ideals or how much quicker the negative self-talk comes to us than positive self-talk. Whatever it may be, I’m here to tell you that there are ways for you to increase your positive self-talk and practice some much needed self-love.

What is self-love? Well, it’s all about treating yourself kindly, gently, with forgiveness, understanding and genuine love. It’s about giving yourself some slack when you make a mistake, and to recognize that we humans all make mistakes. It’s about treating yourself well especially when you’re not feeling well. It’s about loving yourself when you may just want to tear yourself apart.

Sounds huge, right? But don’t worry there are small things we can all do each day to choose self-love over self-hate.

The first step is to be aware of when we’re using self-hate talk over self-love talk.

If you notice you’re thinking in terms of black and white or all or nothing thinking, catch yourself, call yourself out on it, and try and look for the shades of gray instead. So, for instance, let’s say I had a twenty page reading to do. If I got through only, say, five pages and was using a cognitive distortion such as all or nothing thinking, I may accomplish those five pages but discredit myself for that effort because I didn’t do ALL of the reading, all twenty pages of it! Then I may start thinking about how the whole world is going to implode because I didn’t finish it, which would be catastrophizing, and then I may call myself an idiot or a failure (personal attacks on myself that will decrease my sense of self-worth) which will propel me to feeling guilty and lousy and then I go off to procrastinate those feelings away for the rest of the day.

Not a very productive or healthy cycle, now, is it?

If I wanted to practice some self-love instead, what might that look like? Well, going with the example above, let’s imagine that I caught myself thinking in black and white, catastrophizing and calling myself an idiot. I can take a moment to say, “Hey, Raquel, sounds like you’re being pretty harsh with yourself. I mean, you DID read five pages, yesterday you weren’t able to, so doing that today is amazing. In fact, you’re pretty amazing! Maybe I just need a new song to listen to while I work on this assignment.” Now, this change won’t happen right away, but that’s what practice and experience may one day provide you: a list of how genuinely awesome and amazing you are.

Other ways of practicing self-love include treating yourself well with good self-care. This means taking responsibility of whether we’re getting enough sleep, eating enough, getting in exercise, keeping our appointments and making it to class.

Next, we’ll want to employ some positive coping strategies. Again, in the future I’ll expand on a whole list of positive coping strategies that are out there, but a few for now could be artwork, talking with a friend, coloring, writing articles for the Mass Media, volunteering, taking a bath, and buying something cheap and nice for yourself.

This last tip was mentioned in an article I found online by Elise Curtin about self-love (I needed to start somewhere) and is a pretty neat idea. One day I needed to practice some self-love after having lapsed a second time in my self-harm recovery, and conveniently I bought a new book to read at a little bookshop set up at South Station. That worked pretty well for me since it was a book I found interesting, artsy, and would continue to help get my mind off the parts of life that were bugging me. It was a nice, simple self-love treat!

Again, reminding ourselves to be kind to ourselves is another good approach we can use to practice self-love. When we catch ourselves slipping back into negative self-talk, going on about failures or what not, we can realign our thinking instead to, “Well, I made a mistake and as a human being we all make mistakes, and next time I’ll do better by doing X, Y and Z.” Or we can remind ourselves that a grade, in the large scheme of life, really doesn’t matter all that much. I mean, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I wouldn’t be that upset about my GPA. My GPA is far less significant compared to me having my life. I’d be more concerned with having been hit by a bus than that numerical output.

Another interesting strategy from the article is mentioned by having words or phrases painted onto stones. That’s where the picture attached to this article comes into play. I bought three stones from a store in the Providence Mall, two that say “Courage” and “Healing” and another I gave to a friend. I’m often carrying these stones around with me nowadays, as I find them helpful and cheery to look at when I’m going through a tough time. They remind me of my journey and what courage I’ve taken along with me as well as the healing I’m continually expanding. And, plainly put, at the end of the day, they are something to hold onto. If you’ve ever felt suicidal, you’ll know how dire and how important it is to have something to hold onto for one more day (or hour, or minute, or second).

Lastly, I will end this article by briefly discussing a self-love activity I received as a handout from my third hospitalization. It depicts imagining your hurting self before you. Then, you imagine a kinder self. The kinder self then speaks soothingly to your hurting self, treating them gently and kindly. At the end, the two selves hug it out.

So if you can take anything away from this article: Be kind and be gentle, not only to others but especially to yourself. You’re the only you you’ve got! Stay safe, everyone.

Article #6 – Mass Media. Spring 2016. Written April 28.2016

Know Your Place

This concept has been on my mind over the weekend. And, I’ve tried writing this three or four times by now and I can’t work on my essay because I have a writing block, so, I need a place to start again, somewhere.

I’ve thought to myself, Raquel, Know. Your. Place.

There’s a heavy weight that comes with knowing your place. But it’s necessary, I think. At least, these are my current thoughts on the matter.

First, I’m not a licensed professional of any kind. I’m not a therapist, though I’d like to get my LCSW one day. But I’m still not a professional right now.

The words I write and the words that come out of my mouth are unasked for advice. Suggestions. Experience from being an expert at my own life and my own treatment and merely suggestions of what works for me, what may work for you and my encouragement for you to try those things.

However, I am not responsible for your actions. I am not you. I am only responsible for myself and the actions that I choose to do or not do. It’s my responsibility to write my own paper, pacing myself as best as I can doing so. That IS something I can control.

And, I can’t control you. How could I? I’m not you, after all.

I can only extend my welcome’s and be there for you. I can encourage you. I can give you advice and suggestions. I can be there for you. That’s all.

And I suppose in many ways, that IS enough.

If my words or suggestions aren’t helpful for you, ignore them. I mean, you could bite my head off too, but I wouldn’t suggest doing that.

I have to know my limits. My boundaries. My place. I’m a person on the Internet, with a blog that I hope creates a positive wave of effects. I want to be honest and open. I want to give advice on how to cope positively. I want to share what’s been beneficial to me and what has been told TO me from my own treatment providers, and if that sparks an idea in your mind that you can bring to your own therapist, that’s awesome. But remember, that my experience is simply my experience and what works for me may not work for you. Remember, I am not a professional. I just want to dispense my strength, my courage, my hopes, my positivity and my growing wellness. I only encourage you join me on this journey, wherever you may be in your own recovery.

I don’t deal with extensive depression anymore. The depression I’ve dealt with was only secondary. OCD is my main problem, but even then, I don’t find myself “fitting” into either category anymore. I’m not perpetually anxious, although I get anxious from the OCD at times. I’m not perpetually depressed, because my meds are working and it’s often when the OCD builds up that the depression than builds up too.

I can’t relate to everyone else’s experiences. I mean, can we even do that?

Sometimes I just want to talk to people. I want to reach out to people, because in a way, I’m reaching out to myself, too.

It sucks to feel helpless, but it’s another feeling that as humans we have around to experience. And life is about experiencing.

I want to help, but I have to know my place. I have to balance, my recovery and my health comes first, just as yours does in your life. I have to take care of myself first. That’s the only way I can truly help anyone else.

It’s not my job to be your therapist. I volunteer to be your cheerleader though. That, that I can do.

It can be overwhelming to see how deeply so many of us humans out there are struggling, I don’t pretend that I can help every single person out on this planet, like someone once posted, I am only one person. But I can team up with other people and together as a group we can make a difference. We may not be able to save everyone (and is that really our jobs anyway?) but maybe we can help save that one person who is inspired to save themselves. Maybe by helping one of you you’ll go on to help inspire others and help them, too. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?

I may not be able to save everyone or to aid them in saving themselves, but if I help one person to make that difference, the possibilities of happiness and a bright future are endless from there.

I want this blog to be as positive a place as it can be. Because I need it to be, and maybe someone out there needs it, too. I will try to balance my honesty though, when I am struggling, because we all struggle sometimes and that IS okay. We wouldn’t be right in the head if we were pleasant and happy all the time.

Feelings are MEANT to be felt. Feelings are temporary. This crisis will pass. Moving through pain is healing.

Stay safe, my friends. ❤