Responsibilities | Article S16

*Trigger Warning: Explicit mentions of self-harm and suicidality*

Values: We all have these. Our values are the flashlights that guide us through life. Our goals are the accomplishable tasks that derive from our values. When we act against our values, we may experience negative feelings such as guilt, shame, confusion or anger. Going against our values may lead to us questioning just who we are exactly. Let’s discuss this in depth, shall we?

If you recall from a few issues ago, I wrote about my experiences with identity and the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You may recall that identity is comprised of the characteristics that make up who we are, such as our favorite colors, patterns, movies, and adjectives that describe us like creative, musician, kind. Identity is not about the roles we play in our lives such as student, mother, and son.

You may also recall that I discussed the differences between a lapse and a relapse in the process of recovery from a mental health condition. A lapse is more of a slip-up or a mistake, while a relapse is a more long-standing backwards reeling. Both are a part of the recovery process, which is not linear but jagged with ups and downs.

Sound good? Great!

All of these forces join together to fit into this new article that you’re reading in this moment.

I haven’t set aside time to review what I value in a long, long time. But setting time aside right now, I know that I value my life, my artwork, my creativity, my openness and my honesty.

I know it’s important for me to share my voice about my mental health experiences. Maybe it’ll help someone out there who is struggling to remind them to stay safe and that they aren’t alone. Maybe it shines with my courage and my recovery voice. Maybe it’s just interesting to read or gives someone out there some perspective. Whatever the impact my speaking out may be making, small or large; I am flattered, honored and grateful.

It’s only been just this year of 2016 that I’ve spontaneously become a mental health activist. I could not have anticipated that heading back to school this semester would equate to me writing for the Mass Media about my mental health, joining the In Our Own Voice presentations that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has, or that I may be volunteering at a crisis hotline in a few months. I’ve taken up more opportunities around me this semester than I ever have in any other time of my life.

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For instance, when I was a kindergartner I was held back a year because I never spoke up. I was always a quiet kid growing up, keeping my nose in fiction books and having friends to hang out with. I dealt with the scoliosis by not dealing with it (which doesn’t work, by the way), I hid in shame from my own body as my spine shifted and moved in a different direction. I felt powerless and guilty for the three years I went against my treatment plan of wearing a back brace. I was very, very closed off, I was secretive and quiet and I didn’t want people getting close to me.

Now that Raquel is just a shadow of the past. And today’s Raquel is a lighthouse of power and strength.

But it’s not always easy and it’s not always cheery either. Going through the self-harm and suicide obsessions of the OCD that I deal with (and the secondary depression that joined the party) is no walk in the park. Some days are harder than others. I haven’t always acted in my best interests. I’m still human and I slip up.

In April 2016 I lapsed in scratching myself when I was feeling ill from the stomach flu. In May 2016 I lapsed in self-harm by abusing an old medication of mine. If I had found the medication I had in my mind, or OCD’s mind rather, it would have marked my third suicide attempt.

Because of the OCD, I deal a LOT with glorification of suicide and self-harm. It lies to me, telling me how much “better” I’ll feel when I’m drowning, how it’s my “destiny” to die by suicide and that “everything would be better” if I were just dead. OCD presents suicide in this flashy, pretty dress, that looks appealing and attractive and not at all like the devastating act that it is.

This cycle has brought out what my therapist has recently dubbed Resentful Raquel. Resentful Raquel is all about acting out on dangerous self-harming thoughts, doing so impulsively, engaging in negative coping strategies, overriding the core self’s true values, asking permission from the core self to die by suicide, enjoying negative power and attention and reminding me how I should have killed myself when I had the chance to. And of course, I’ve been missing Resentful Raquel for a while this year, so much so that I lapsed in my recovery this month.

….Until I realized that I actually miss Responsible Raquel, who is pretty darn awesome. And Responsible Raquel is that part of me that’s getting involved with NAMI, writing articles for the Mass Media and being honest and open. It wouldn’t be in line with my values of honesty to lie to my parents, friends, therapist and any other person I randomly encounter about the state of my mental health for an extended period of time. I make it a point to be honest when people ask how I’m doing. Does this always mean I spill my truths? No, because sometimes I don’t want to, and that’s okay.

Does this mean I tell people right away when I’ve slipped up? No, yet I do eventually. And now it’s up to Responsible Raquel to make more of a point of practicing good self-care, remembering where my identity resides and pushing through the end of this semester as best as I can with myself intact.

Writing these articles has shown to be more impactful and helpful than I ever imagined it to be. It’s good for me to share my story and for me to keep in mind the advice that I am suggesting. I look, now, towards my bookshelf filled with House MD DVDs, books for fun, coloring books and the therapy folders filled with packets of information that I’ve gathered from hospital stays. There’s another shelf with paints and more books, and one book about living in the present moment.

I carry with me tons of art supplies from paints this start of May, to markers and pens and gel pens. I carry with me a bouncy ball with glitter inside of it, bubble wrap, coloring books, books to read, all things I can turn to to cope positively if the moment so suddenly appears before me.

It’s likely that the OCD won’t be such a focal point in my life for the future. But I believe that recovery and positive coping strategies and my responsible self will be. And I am absolutely okay with that. Responsible Raquel acts in line with her values, shares her voice and totally plans to paint her own front door one day. Maybe it will become the case that I can glorify Responsible Raquel, rather than the other. After all, if I can’t change the glorifying filter, I can at least change what scene lies beyond it.

Stay safe, everyone.


Mass Media Article #8. Written May 6th 2016

Sharing My Voice

At the beginning of the spring 2016 semester, one of the registered student organizations or RSO’s held an event in our campus center building on the open first floor terrace. They were open to the public and asking a thought-provoking question: Where do you see yourself in four years?

You would then write on your open palm in Sharpie your answer and they’d take a picture of it and add the photo to their stand, lined with other people’s answered photos.

This is what I had said:

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My signature ‘Stay Safe’ got into this picture, which is just perfect framing, really. Taken January 28.2016

In four years time, I wanted to be sharing my voice. I wanted to give a TED talk about my mental health experiences. I wanted to share my story about my mental health issues and my recovery journey. I wanted to create some platform in real life to spread mental health awareness and I wanted to create a similar platform on the Internet for the same reason. I wanted to be courageous and strong and human. To be imperfect and vulnerable and an inspiration–an inspiration to inspire others to share their own voices and recognize that they, too, have a story worth sharing.

I can genuinely say, four “years” have gone by extraordinarily fast. In four months, I’ve managed to achieve some of these goals. So, in four years… I can only imagine what more I will be able to accomplish–and that’s very, very exciting.

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Day 33: Spend 30 minutes amusing yourself. Write down whatever comes to mind, draw a picture, write outside the lines, whatever you do make it fun and enjoyable, break the rules for today! This day from all its inspiration in the prompt I decided to draw a picture, a tree and birds with flowers and grass. This drawing is nestled somewhere in the middle of the journal I am using for it, with the front cover having a swirling multi-colored tree and the phrase “Life is a Journey, not a destination” 2/12/16

I had the courage to seek out this opportunity and many of the opportunities I was presented with this semester by a 365 daily prompt book called “How to Achieve Anything in Just One Year” by Jason Harvey. I would do a series of the prompts within the same day until I had a good bucket filled with them and would do the same the next day. Of course, life got busy and I’ve gone stretches at a time without filling in the prompts… however twice now I’ve gone back to it, and I don’t imagine that changing any time in the future (I may especially turn back to it over the course of this summer as it will give me inspiration, ideas and strength).

There were a series of prompts at the end of January and beginning of February that I did all involving opportunities. The prompts begin with a quote and then go into a short description and the task at the end for you to fulfill. The ones about opportunities encouraged seeking them out and utilizing them to the best of their ability, without fear of what may or may not come of it.

That gave me the courage and the inclination to reach out to the opportunities to share my voice this year. I reached out to the director of recovery at the counseling center on campus to discuss any way I could get involved to help promote recovery and mental health awareness on campus…. This panned out to restarting the Active Minds chapter on our campus for the fall 2016 semester.

I reached out to this RSO and had to think up a goal and dream for myself, right there, on the spot. And I followed through on it, instead of walking away as I had been doing previously to get on the bus. I spent time there, voluntarily, to seek out the opportunity. And from there grew all the work I did in these last four months.

I reached out to NAMI-Mass about In Our Own Voice presentations….Now I’m an IOOV presenter. Still a novice at it, but sharing my story with a variety of audiences across the state. Opening up my vulnerability and what I’ve been through to help inspire others or spread some awareness of what it is like to live with a mental illness.

I reached out and got to go through a leadership course Active Minds was holding for six weeks. That’s gained me further experience I can utilize in my future (and mention on my resume!).

I reached out and wrote articles in the Mass Media, the first discussing word choice and stigmatization, followed by a series of articles that I loved writing and that gave me a sense of purpose and meaning. Not only that, but sharing advice with others kept my own words in my mind longer. Let alone, maybe someone out there reading is being helped through their hard times.

I reached out and may be able to do a directed study next semester. I’m actually still in the process of reaching out about that.

I reached out and am going to attend the Breakfast for Hope at Samaritans. I want to reach out farther to become a crisis line volunteer.

By reaching out I got to go to an event Active Minds hosted on the Tufts University in Medford campus about sharing your mental health story. I got to play around with that and have some experience of opening up and seeking guidance for work I could then transfer over to NAMI and further towards my own TED talk I want to give in 2018.

By reaching out I got to attend our introductory meeting with the Active Minds representative to discuss what Active Minds is and all the ways we can help spread mental health education.

By that, I got to meet Craig, our campus’ health and wellness promotion specialist.

And through that, I am paving my way to being on the front lines next semester, getting resume building experience, meeting people I may never have met otherwise (awesome people, too, by the way), I am moving forward further and further in ways I’ve only ever dreamed of in the past. Now, I get to actually live it, and that is amazing.

One of the points I’m getting to now is, Craig runs this nonprofit organization with his partner Katy where survivors of a variety of topics can share their stories at their website anonymously or not and also get a painting featured with their story.

As May is mental health awareness month, I recently shared my mental health story (or, well, part of it) and it went up yesterday. I don’t want to repost it here since it’s all over there, so if you do happen to have the time to read about 1,500 words of mine, you can check it out. Or save it for later. Or not, I certainly wouldn’t know!

Art is Survival – My Story

You can even see the AWESOME painting that Craig made for me which I shall be hanging up on my wall over the weekend and is my new wallpaper background on my phone. Here is what the painting looks like (because you seriously have to see it!)

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Painting piece by Craig Bidiman, health and wellness promotion specialist at UMB. ❤

Basically, what I’m saying is, in four months I’ve managed to create a revised version of myself. The aid of friends, family, treatment providers and various sources of inspiration all helped and impacted that process.

Additionally, reaching out through my Mass Media articles gave me the courage and openness to reveal my name, Raquel Lyons, onto my deviantART account (links to are in this mental health story post above and in my About page), an account I’ve had for six years under the signature of HMD. (Which I still and likely always will sign all my artwork as).

Now, that led me to this blog. Where again, I’m sharing my mental health story and aiming to just promote recovery and the awesome bragging rights that come out of recovery and just coping positively and trying to be as well as we can even though we will slip up and have hard days, too. I want this place to be open and honest, just as I am in real life, too. That means naming the ugly sometimes and rushing through the waves of the tumultuous sea when they arrive.

And doing so, getting through that, together.

But, um, I’ve written quite enough for this post!! I hope you’ve managed to make it through this lonnnng reading (if you’ve seen my DA journals I am a stickler for writing a LOT) and I hope that you are doing well and are being safe. And if you ever need a thing, feel free to message me. Write me down as a list of someone to contact if you ever need it. I’ll do my best to be there for you and encourage you. And probably give you unasked for advice, it’s in my nature!

 

Thank you so much for reading and for joining me on this journey!!! I’ve gotten 33 followers now and that is so amazing! Thank you all SO SO SO much!! ❤ ❤ ❤ I hope you gain something from my rambles as I seem to be getting from them as well.

I’m sending you love and warm wishes!

My Positive Music + Phrases

“There will be an answer, let it be, let it be” – “Let it Be,” The Beatles

I first heard these lyrics from an interning music therapist at my first hospitalization. She had her guitar, let us choose songs from a list that she had, and gave us the lyrics to follow along. I had never heard “Let It Be” by the Beatles before, but when her voice ignited the notes, I found myself crying. It was so beautiful, and I realized then that dying by suicide would mean never again having the chance to enjoy the simple, uplifting chorus of a song.

“I believe you’ll outlive this pain in your heart and you’ll gain such a strength from what is tearing you apart…I believe that you’re gonna be alright, I believe that I’m gonna be alright, I believe that we’re gonna be alright.” – “It’s Going to Be Alright,” Sara Groves

This song came up on a list of music to listen to when suffering from depression. It became my lifeline and impacted my recovery journey greatly. It’s a calming, soothing, repetitive message; after listening to it a hundred times over, I truly have faith that I and you and we will be alright.

“I just hope I can find you, and tell you that I know you’ll smile again…I’m begging you no there’s more life left to go.” – “Life Left to Go,” Safetysuit

Another song I found through an online list. It’s emotional, releasing, and helped me through that dark time in my life.

“You’re gonna make it, and the night can only last for so long. Lift up your eyes and see the sun is rising.” – “The Sun Is Rising,” Britt Nicole

This beautiful song has inspired me time and again. I’m always referring back to this song and its lyrics if I need to just to get through that difficult moment.

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“All those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain. I will scream them loud tonight; can you hear my voice this time? This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song…Starting right now I’ll be strong.” – “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten

I first heard this on the radio, and instantly fell in love with it. It’s become my recovery’s mantra song and I was pleased to find that there were quite a few other individuals at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCD-I) who knew of its existence, too. I particularly like the line about regaining a voice. For me, it’s been an empowering song which inspires me to punch the OCD in the face (and what a fun activity that can be!).

“You know you’ve been told, you’ve gotta find something to hold on to. It gets better in time please just keep that in mind. Don’t break more inside.” – “A Better Place,” Jay Putty

I cried when I first listened to this song, and it’s made a lasting impact on me since. I can recall many crises where I was soothed by its cascading “it gets better.” I listened to it so much that the “better place” it speaks of became a psychiatric ward, where the person in my mind struggling gets better and lives a happy, long life.

“You’ve got the fire in you to make it through another day. You’ve got the fire in you to stay…You matter more than all the stars in the sky, don’t want to hear you sing your last lullaby.” – “The Fire In You,” Juliet Weybret

This is another song that brought me to tears, and whose lyrics have inspired many positive messages I’ve given out to others—as well, of course, as reminding myself of my own strength.

“Stick around another day. Give it a little time; believe me the sun will shine. You see you ain’t a loser, your life isn’t worthless, you’re here for a reason, believe it you’ve got a purpose.” – “Try Again,” Seein

This song gave me an understanding of how my struggles with suicidality were affecting those around me, while also reminding me that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes that reminder is all that matters.

“And everybody fights but not everyone survives. I’m still in recovery; help me make it out alive. We will recover, the worst is over now.” – “Recover,” Natasha Bedingfield

This song gives me hope when I’m struggling and I need to focus back on what recovery means to me.

“’Cause I know the smallest voices can make it major…Once I was twenty years old, my story got told.” – “7 Years,” Lukas Graham

I think fondly of this song because it reminds me that there’s potentially a lot of time on my hands in life and that I can get through what’s difficult now to make it to the better days that are ahead.

All of these songs act as positive music that I listen to when I’m either struggling and need hope or when I’m creating a new piece of artwork. The songs are featured in a playlist I made last year called Choose Life; Make Action or CL;MA.

Through the combination of positive music and positive phrases, alongside medications and therapy, I’ve made a lot of progress in just a year. The impact of this positivity is clear in my life, in my recovery, and especially in my artwork. They all have truly shaped my healing perspective.

To see more songs in my CL;MA playlist, you can find me at h-everybody-lies–md.deviantart.com. I have a journal there titled “Positive, Inspiring and Hopeful music” that also features some great artwork from the DA community. And, you know it’s coming, stay safe.


Mass Media Article #7. Written April 28 and 29.2016

Good News!

Wow, now that is quite the nice exclamation point right there. Very bold and distinctly excited! =]

So, I have a series of good news! 🙂 First, found my iPod in the lost and found at school yesterday!!!!! Thank the grace of ALL the gods, I’m so glad I got it back! If I had the capability to cry with joy I would! (For some reason I’ve not been able to cry at all lately, sigh).

Second, I need to clean my glasses because there are so many smudges between my eyes and the lenses and the computer screen. O_o

Third, though! I am DONE with school!!!! *Imagine a grand two arm gesture into the air* Granted, I’m not graduating I’m just done with the SEMESTER. But even so, that is AWESOMENESS!!! I made it through! Woot woot! I will likely make a post about that experience in the future :3

Fourth, actually… I think that’s about it for the good news! Now it’s just general thoughts and things. :3 Although, okay, there IS another one, but I want just a special post about that, so you’ll see it later today! You would have seen it yesterday but I just chiillllled after getting home from my last final.

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If you happened to be wondering what photo is currently set as my profile image, here it is! Taken May 10.2013

For now, I’m probably going to enjoy the next few days, just applying to jobs (euuuuughhhh *imagine a groan for having to write and re WRITE all the same information 24 times into every new application* *also imagine an eye twitch for this chaos* especially when the application won’t go through and everything fucking site asks for a new account….*controlled sigh*)

Hanging out with my hamster (Nova by the way! Chinese dwarf hamster)

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Nova in his little cage! =] He’s pretty fast so this was an excellent capture! 2.6.2016

Getting to play with doggies on Sunday! 😀 Soooooo excited!! Today’s Friday right? Ahaha. Prowling the Internet and blogging whooooooooo! =]

Other than writing down some reminders I need to do, I think that’s about it. I got my IOOV supplies a couple days ago for the Carney hospital presentation I have next Tuesday. And the Samaritans Breakfast for Hope that I’m attending next Th is happening where there will be speakers and lots of people I don’t know to begin the conversation about suicide, so that’s important and fancy. I’m really looking forward to it! I signed up for it way back in February, I think. I also have to contact them again in general (for some future volunteer work on the phone lines). Many, many reminders I need to write down! Gotta call my psychiatrist to change my next appointment, hear back from my current therapist about the application/referral process for MSE’s partial, return a library book and do 2 book reviews about them on here and DA, send a few emails (to my brother about this blog, some about a directed study, and just replies), check my grades on WISER (my JA grade may be up there), do some art work, watch some House MD and ER episodes (yuuuuuuus), update my DA, blog some daily prompts and other news and articles, annnd oh, work on my fanfic so I can update that soon!

Yeah, got a lot to do! Good list, though, good list. I finished another coloring piece =] I was in a scrapbooking mood last night too, but didn’t get a chance to fulfill it, I think today that I will! I’ve also got to reply to a couple of job emails. Oooo, I gotta send back one of my books too. Should do that today. I also want to set up some photography projects for myself, since I’ve been neglecting photography lately 😦 And then I want to spread some more activity on here as well. Think I’m gonna fiddle with the font color again… 😀

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My last doggy Bayya (short for Bella), an Italian Greyhound with her three little leggies. She was so cute and so adorable and forever a puppy. Love this photo I took of her. ❤ She totally knew how to rock out her poses! (I bet she loved it!) RYP. Rest Your Paws. (she passed away end of last July) Photo captured 7.9.2012

I think that’s about it for me for now!!

Hope you’re all doing well, punching issues in the face and sharing a smile with the world today! ❤ ❤ ❤ Stay safe!!