Invisible Illness: Scoliosis Awareness

This post is brought to you by the inspiration of my friend In My Eyes whose blog is all about bringing awareness to invisible illnesses. She is wonderful, refreshing and takes a very interesting, positive spin off to her struggles with invisible illness. She is an inspiration in perseverance and creating soulful art. The following post is my own account of invisible illness in my life, so read on, and then check out her fancy dandy blog to read more about her!!! 🙂

While it is the very end of June, this month is dedicated to Scoliosis awareness. Scoliosis is when there is lateral curvature and rotation of the spine. I don’t know much about the statistics for the condition, but it’s a brutal condition that can really run amuck with your self-esteem and body image.

Some people experience back pain or related pain because of their scoliosis, luckily though, I wasn’t one of them. I count my stars for that.

every_day_is_a_battle_ - Scoliosis post

“Every day is a battle” from March 2011

I was diagnosed early with scoliosis, at about the age of six, by my family physician. I was referred to Boston Children’s Hospital for a doctor in Orthopaedics. Up until three or four years ago, I was still seeing that same individual. I have to actually call up soon to make a new appointment.

I always felt that I was somewhat different as I grew up. Not in an excessive fashion, rather I could feel how my right leg was longer than my left. Even today, I leave more of an impression with my right foot than I do with my left.

I also grew up being born with a birth defect, called spondylolisthesis. This is when there’s a fracture in the vertebrae and one of them slips forwards.

I had an ‘S’ shape of scoliosis, but it was well controlled for the majority of my life.

That is, until, I got a spinal fusion surgery for my spondylolisthesis. This involved a posterior (back) surgery where the piece of bone they used to fuse my spine came from my hip (I felt it for a day or two after for sure), as they fused the L5-S1 area. I’ll include a picture here if you don’t know what that means:


Image from Google.

I had that surgery when I was 14 years old on November 16 2007. I took some time out of …. eighth grade … in order to have the surgery. I was given a support brace afterwards to wear to help me support myself so I wasn’t using my back to do so. Keeping the junk in all the right places, essentially.

It was around this time of post-operation that my Mom started to notice the more classic signs of scoliosis. That my shoulders were shifting, one was getting higher than the other, and that my hips were doing the same too.

When we went back to the doctor’s, it turned out that an unforeseen consequence of the surgery meant that the scoliosis was getting worse. I felt crushed. I felt it was somehow my fault, when in truth, it wasn’t at all. I recall asking myself why I was someone to have to suffer from scoliosis. Why I couldn’t be ‘normal.’ Why I couldn’t have a straight spine, and feeling envious over those who did and weren’t even grateful for it.

They walk along
     The shoreline,
      Laughing and
          Cheering, with
             Smiles on
               Their faces —
                   Their bikinis
                    Are on fit and
                    My eyes follow
                  The way their
               Body moves,
           How each
       Aligns so well,
    How their hips
  Move from side to side
Skin flawless,
No scratches
Or scars
To be seen
Just perfect
It’s like they’re
Taunting me,
  Though I know
    They aren’t,
      Showing off what
        I can never possess
          Uplifting the emotion
             Inside of me that
                 Grumbles how
                   I should have it,
                    That it’s what I’m
                      Supposed to be,
                      It’s a sticky,
                     Black liquid
                   That just desires
                  So desperately to
               Consume me —
             I wish I could
           Shake it off,
           To rip its grasp
           From me,
           But it always
           Finds a way of
            Coming back…
And each time it comes I feel myself shattering within,
Incapable of possessing something they don’t think
            Twice about having…..

I didn’t like going to the beach or to pool parties because it was like being flaunted with everything I couldn’t have. I felt ashamed of having scoliosis and tried to hide the condition as best as I could. I was very private and very closed off about speaking about it. I didn’t want to talk about it at all. I felt too emotional about it, felt too vulnerable because of it and thought if I opened up about it people would mock me for it. So I stayed quiet. And quiet. And quiet.

I feared rejection from my peers so when the scoliosis got to the point where I was required to wear a Boston brace for some 16 hours of the day, every day, I refused to wear the thing to school. I tried proposing wearing it to be bed instead and whenever I was home and that worked for a while. I think I told people I wasn’t comfortable with it, but really it’s because I didn’t want to be bullied for being different (as this was right around the hell of middle school *shudders*).

To wear a brace is quite uncomfortable. The purpose of it is meant to keep your spine from moving in the directions it wants to go. It’s to keep it as close to okay and not bothersome for you as possible.

However, treatment for scoliosis still isn’t in its prime, not that I’m aware of. It turns out that sometimes you can do everything right and STILL have to wind up with a spinal fusion surgery because things weren’t enough. Braces aren’t even all that effective to keep people from having to have surgery.

When I was 15, in ninth grade of high school about a year and a half of wearing my brace when I could, my Mom got surgery herself, as she was my biggest pusher to wear my brace, and I seized that opportunity to refuse treatment.

I never out rightly said I was refusing treatment, but I knew that I was. I made the disillusioned decision into 2009’s new year, that I wouldn’t give up on anything I hadn’t already given up on. Unfortunately, I had already given up on myself.

My all or nothing/black and white thinking got me to believe that if I couldn’t have a straight spine, that I didn’t care and wouldn’t do anything to stop the progression of my illness. I used the strategy that if I didn’t think about it, about the scoliosis, then it wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t have to care about it and I wouldn’t have to deal with my emotions about it. Essentially, I dealt with it by not dealing with it.

I also remember being told that if I were to wear my brace, I’d go on to live a happy and fulfilled life. Or at least, that’s how I took it.

However, growing up as a child, for no reason in particular, I felt very lonely. I felt alone. And seven years of feeling a devastating amount of loneliness and having no one know about my suffering had caused me to think that I deserved to be alone for all of my life. So, when at that crossroad of getting better, I chose the unbeaten path. I felt I deserved to be alone and unhappy, so I chose the route of lack of treatment that I thought would give that to me.

I created and chose a hell for myself that I was stuck in like a rut for 3 years of my life.

I hated being told that there were consequences to my actions, and would angrily snap at anyone who told me that. Did they not understand I knew that all too well? That I was living trapped inside of a body that I could not control?

Sure, I could of tried wearing the brace again, and some times I did, but what was the point? I was only going to stop wearing it again. There was no point. I was a failure. It was all my fault.

Day in and day out I would shun these thoughts and emotions from myself, trying desperately to pull free from my self-induced agony. Once a month I would be in the throes of guilt as I sobbed quietly in the night, knowing I had made a horrible choice and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

The worst part was when my Mom, having seen so much of my fake unconcerned attitude, truly believed I didn’t give a crap. I felt I had played on the act too far and too well.

By that point, I was sucked in so deep, I didn’t see a way out. I couldn’t let anyone in because it was too emotional for me to deal with. Every time I spoke about it to myself, I would sob, and I couldn’t, just couldn’t, communicate that pain effectively to anybody else without crying, too.

I hated being hugged, as I felt other people would be able to tell that I was different. I hated showering most of all, because I could feel every bone that was out of place, every vertebrae that was out of line. It was horrible. I didn’t know how to let go, even though I desperately needed to.

I can only be grateful that self-harm and suicide was so out of the question for me, I didn’t even know about self-harm and I didn’t ever consider suicide to escape my problem. I felt I had deserved to suffer, so suffer I did.

I would have moments and days where I would feel inspired to change, but the feeling would fade or I’d give up too soon, relying on myself with the negative self-talk, that I was just going to fail once again, so fail I did.

For three years, this went on. My first romantic relationship I found it difficult to be close to my boyfriend, because of all the shame I held about it. I did admit to him my issue, while crying, and he assured me that he wouldn’t judge me for it. I felt a bit better, but I knew that I was going through too much of my own hell to be there and available to another person, so our romantic relationship ended (we are still friends to this day though).

As the scoliosis got worse, I could begin to see more of the changes in my body. I’ve always been slim and so these changes were horrible to witness. I actively avoided mirrors because I didn’t want to be reminded of my mistakes.

When I joined deviantART in 2010, it gave me the opportunity to return to artwork. Artwork gave me the courage and strength to survive and cope through my scoliosis. Over time, I slowly began to open up about my struggles. I wrote indirectly about scoliosis and then directly about it. I shared my concerns and my despair, and I made friends with people who had my back, and one friend in particular, PoetsHand, who got me to realize that some of the grudges I was holding onto from 2008 weren’t necessary (and so I let them go). While this activity online occurred, I socially withdrew from those around me. I just wanted to be alone with my scoliosis. I began to identify completely as scoliosis, and lost who I was to the condition. It ruled my life. It was my shadow.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

It’s coming for me.

I know it is, but this time I don’t run, this time I don’t cry, I don’t look away, I don’t move. I stay there with a blank expression on my face. My hair doesn’t move, I barely even breathe, it’s like the air around me has suddenly died and everything is quiet. Except for the approaching noises.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

It’s gaining speed and my eyes narrow as I see part of the black, smoky figure curve around the corner of the wall. It’s turned so dark and evil over the years and I feel a dagger of emotion strike me hard, and the tears well up in my eyes, I just never seem to have any control over them.

Never have any control over anything….

The blackness is swirling closer, I can see things inside of it that represent myself.

The guilt, the pain, the desperation.

It’s so evil, so dark, and all I’ve done is allowed it to feed over me for so long.

I never picked up my life jacket, never strapped it on when it really mattered, never persevered when something could have changed.

Even now,  it just feels like a hopeless cause, that it’s speeding through my body wreaking havoc and change that I just can’t get the life jacket on fast enough to stop it.  I don’t know what to do and that in itself freaks me out the most.

Am I supposed to just continue on like I have before?

Am I even strong enough to do that?

Why did I make this stupid decision? Why did I let it take me? Why did I let it control me?

The black cloud gains more speed as it can see the effect its presence is having on me. And I sit there, yet again, watching it, letting it come, not bothering to do anything. Because that’s just how I am. I don’t do anything. I just let it come. Why stop now?

Within seconds, the cloud is around me and I look up at it slowly. I take in the look of it, the emotion I feel every time I stare at it….stare at myself… It grins its invisible smile and slides in all around me. It nips at my body, pulling down my right leg, pushing out my left hip. It goes up my spine and shapes it in that “S” that’s not supposed to be there, kicks at my rib cage, protruding it forward, brings down a shoulder and then it sits back and watches its masterpiece.

And I stay there, the guilt washing over me, as I look down at my battered body, unable to fix it.

Change it.

Unable to do something anymore…. or at least that’s how it feels.

My decision, my own decision, allowed this to happen. Maybe I didn’t ask for it, but I didn’t stand up to fight either. I sat here, in this dark, cold room, and let it just come in through an unlocked door and let it take control of me however it pleased.

At first I hadn’t… but time lost itself and my willingness to fight disappeared.

And now, here I am.

In a room all by myself, alone with the feelings of guilt and sadness. My life jacket hidden in the corner with a blanket thrown over it…so I wouldn’t have to look at something so simple that could have helped me so much…if I just would have tried.

The black cloud still hangs over me, breathing its truths into my ear whenever I think about it…think about what I did or more correctly what I didn’t do.

It likes to run a finger down my cheek, and catch my tears in its hands, and maybe it even likes to laugh at my pathetic form.

Or maybe it’s not even real to begin with. That would be nice if it wasn’t but I know all too well that this is real.

This is who I am.

At least, who I am now.

I’ve let it take so much away from me, I don’t think I want it to keep taking…. I think I want to take something back, I want to at least get out of this room. To really seem like the person I am on the outside, because this darker self on the inside is just too much to bare. And time is still changing, despite how long I sit in this room.

How much will I miss if I just let it keep me here?

Maybe this black cloud can take away who I am, or who I was meant to be, can change my being into its own little creation…but can it change me for who I am emotionally? I suppose it can, it has in a lot of ways that I failed to realize myself, but maybe I can gain some of that back.

All it takes are some steps forward. Some steps out the door, out into the world.

Some steps into accepting that I can’t change the past, and no matter how much I dwell over it, I know I’m still doing the same thing…so maybe it’s time to just get the hell over it… and just live.

At least in ways, I can take something out of this, some sort of messed up life lesson.

That if, there’s ever anything you can do, do it. Don’t just give up, because it’s not worth it. A disease can take your body, but it doesn’t have to take your mind too, not if there’s something you can do to help.

It always bothered me when people would post or talk about those quotes:

“Never give up”

Because I could NEVER find a quote that addressed the issue if you HAD already given up. To me, I felt, well gee, that’s great but I already GAVE UP a while ago, so what now? Is there no hope for me?

The truth was, not at all.

In fact, in 2011 everything changed.

At the start of that year, I knew I’d be getting my second spinal fusion surgery to help with the scoliosis. It would happen on August 5 2011.

I found myself entering 2011 and saying, fuck it, why am I doing this, why am I letting my life go on like this? I was tired of hiding, I was tired of being ashamed, I wanted OUT of the rut. I wanted to CHANGE. I wanted to better–I no LONGER wanted to live a lonely, alone life. I wanted MORE for myself.

In the summer of 2011, I got that much more.

It grips me.
Grips me like an ever tightening rope
Around my head


It pulls at me,
Jerks me back and forth,
Laughing at me,

And that same emotion,
Grips me again,
And I’m struggling between
The monster,
The demons,
Inside and the ones
That stare back at me
Through the mirror

I am afraid,
So, so afraid

What will happen?
Next week?
Next month?
After that?

I’m afraid that I will lose…

That I will lose myself

That I will walk down the
Same dark path,
Because it was the same one
I walked down before

I’m afraid I don’t have
The strength or the power,
Or the right personality
To change things
Once and for all

And even if I did,
Will that cure me of my
Past demons?

Or will they still be there?
Staring at me?
Laughing at me?
Mocking me?

Will they always be there?
Will I always be their slave?

I don’t want to,
I can’t

But I don’t think I’m
Strong enough,
Smart enough,
Willing enough
To go down the other

If I did it once,
That means I can do it again,
No matter how much it will
Break me,
Shatter me,
Kick me

If I did it once,
If I was weak once,
What makes now any different?

I’m so afraid.

Afraid of myself.

I made some self-discoveries:

I feel as though, emotionally I’m still thinking I’m 14 or 15 years old. And emotionally I still haven’t accepted or realized that I’m 17 now, and who I am today is NOT the same person I was back then. Who I am TODAY knows more now, has learned more and has changed. And maybe I haven’t changed massively but I do, personally, feel as though I have changed, in quite a few ways. And that’s what counts the most, I think.

Basically, I am emotionally afraid that I will make the same mistakes I made before. And I don’t want to, I can’t handle doing so. But I still don’t know if I have that internal strength to do the right thing, THIS time. I am afraid that I will fail again, or I will do that one thing you should never, ever do: Give up.

But I reminded myself something important in this pep talk of mine. I reminded myself that I am NOT the same person – or as much of the same person – as I was back then. That NOW and THEN are two different things. This time, I have more things to fight for, and I think last time I never had a set goal or idea of that.

But this time I’m fighting for someone or something very important: Myself.

I did some photography:



And then I got my surgery: T12 – L2.

I got some of the pre-op and post-op pictures:

pre_op_scolio_by_h_everybody_lies__md-d499l8eAnd this photo shows the way my hip was off and therefore I was off into another realm:


Although it was just another support brace, I made sure that time around that I wore my buddy old pal, even to the point I was wearing it a little TOO much ^^;



Bandage art! Woot!

The second surgery I got they went in anterior (by the side) and used a part of my rib for the fusion process (by the way: Ouch.) This is what it looked like post-op:


Here’s what my hip looked like after the surgery:


I had taken off a month of school from my senior year in 2012. I returned to school going half days for a week before I joined full time. I wore my brace, and although I was self-conscious of it, nobody noticed lmao. Here’s me in a photograph with it on:


This was early on in the healing process:


In February 2012, I did a photo shoot with an interesting concept. I didn’t believe it at the time, but this photo shoot paved the way for me to in the future.


In the spring of 2012, I experienced that wonderful day where I looked in the mirror and thought to myself “You know what, this’ll do.” I had come to accept myself and my body as it was. Finally, I could say confidently that I thought of myself as fantastic, snazzy and beautiful 😉

It’s been months
Since these words
Splayed across
This paperThings have
Changed so much
Since then,
That now
They can
Be addressed

I am no longer
A monster.

I am no longer

I am
Not afraid.

I did not
Lose myself,
If anything
I gained a
Part of myself
That only
Time and change
Can bring you

I’ve learned
A lot.

I am no longer

I am no longer
In the rut.

I am no longer
Stuck in the past.

I am
Strong enough,
Determined enough,
Proud enough,
Willing enough,
Hopeful enough,
And as ready
As my unsteady
Feet can be
To face my
Future brick walls
And crush them down
One by one

If I did it once,
It does not
Mean I will
Do it again.

My past,
My Scolio,
My mistakes —
Do not
Define me.

I am more
Than them.

I have found
I am loved,
I am cared about,
I am helpful,
I am empathetic,
I am willing and
Wishing to do
More than I seem
To be able
To do now,
But that doesn’t
I cannot do them
In the future

I am me,
I am free.

And most importantly,
I  am
Beautiful in
All my asymmetries

And better yet,

I am okay.


I went on to actually do some scoliosis inspired drawings throughout the years. See below!!




I also used more photography:


“Still Beautiful”




Concept of the “Golden Apple”

Description to this piece:

The golden apple is all about medicine. It represents the cure, the answer, the thing that will “fix” you, the drug that has no side effects, etc.
The rotten apple [this one like EXPLODED when I threw it, it was AWESOME] represents everything BUT the golden apple. The gloves actually worked out for what you’d normally think of [:cough: doctors :cough:] but also because the glittery paint on the other two apples [dark red and green] was sticky xD

But while this rotten apple isn’t QUITE focused [my fucking tripod was pissing me off SO much! And my camera too XD] I liked the gesture the most, quite ‘Just take it damn it!’ XD

But yes, the golden apple concept. I quite love this concept =] Been using it a few times lately… Oh how I wished to have the golden apple before…

[Concept born September 3.2012,
Apples painted October 6.2012 and photoshoot accomplished October 6.2012]


“A Life that’s Awfully Rotten”

Concept is about: “The Golden Apple” an unachievable, idealistic dream of those who may be both incurable and unaccepted of themselves – and the line they may balance precariously on if they do not come to such an acceptance (and certainly the willingness to try something even if it won’t “fix” you. (Damn you all or nothing thinking!)) Also, major on the teenage angst, but likely also applicable to other scenarios and ages. =] Because this shot features a rotten apple – it’s more on the realistic side of the concept. The Golden Apple shoot was heavy on having “golden apples” in the person’s clutches, but then (as the photo linked above shows) showing you, the viewer, an extended rotten apple (the one shown here).

It’s about a sort of taunt, like “here’s what you COULD have (or be, etc) but here’s what you ACTUALLY have” You either can see or wish or hope for something that you can’t actually have because of the limitations of the concept itself. It’s not about getting the golden apple, it’s about finding acceptance and okay-ness and good enough-ness with the rotten apple. Using the rotten apple to grow and learn and be the best you that you can be even if you’re not in a position where things are as good as they had been before or have always been a little off.



And lastly, an old essay from my first year of college:

     You cannot fix a Scolio. It does not matter how much tape, love, determination, glue, socks, screws, rods or surgical hours you have to spend. You can never fix a Scolio. Scoliosis is one of the many medical conditions that has no golden apple. A doctor cannot reach into the magical, fuzzy pink apple tree and hand you down that pleasant, ripe fruit. Instead, all they can reach for, all they can ever hold, is a bruised, bent, battered and helpless looking apple. It is important to remember that it is neither their fault nor yours. You simply just cannot fix a Scolio.

But, near the age of fifteen, I did not realize this truth. If anything, I wanted to hold on so desperately to it. I wanted there to be a golden apple, more than anything else. I wanted the golden apple to be within my reach, and I settled for the fact that if the bark of the tree, the Scolio brace, could not give me that gift, than I would not bother in trying to wear it. It seemed pointless at the time. Why bother with something if it won’t make any difference? Why not jump the steps to what will lie there waiting regardless?

And so, I did. I do not think I ever realized the weight of this decision. Not until it felt like it was too late, at least. And by then, even when I did realize, it no longer mattered. I was not worth the fight for any apple. It was my fault that I lay defeat for Scolio, that I raised a white flag too early. It was my consequence to get screwed up, and I ‘deserved’ it. I let Scolio take me, when I merely should have been someone who had Scolio.

And Scolio was no walk in the park, either. Scolio took me down to a rut I never thought imaginable when I first turned away from the bark. I don’t think I even knew such a world existed, and at the time, I wished I never had.

But I did not fight it. I still let it take me by the hand. I still allowed myself to sink ever deeper, watching as the light faded from the room and hope dragged its body out of the air. As the walls grew thicker, the psychological effects doubled. I went from one day being ‘normal’ to the next where my anatomy got all twisted and asymmetrical, in a manner I never thought possible.

My hip extended out to the Pacific Ocean – wanting to become an island, apparently –  one shoulder became longer than the other, my dancing spine rotated ribs, and then of course, clothes just wouldn’t fit right anymore. Most people worry about how jeans fit their legs, I had to stare with a frown at how the waistband got lopsided. And it wasn’t like something you could hide either, I mean, you could try, I certainly did, but how well I pulled it off is another question. Granted, people aren’t that observant, but when you know it, good gosh, that’s all you need. You’ll find yourself staring at the mirror with your eyes overlaying every particle that’s misplaced. Oh, that’s off, and that too, you’ll think, watching the reflection you wish would just go away. But it doesn’t go away. Scolio never goes away.

“This isn’t you, scoliosis does not define you.” The words are sweet, true even, but they can’t twist through the smoke. They can be met with a tear and a nod, but nothing that can break through the walls that Scolio has surrounded you in. Because by that point, it does not feel like something to just get over. It doesn’t feel like you can so easily accept the person staring back at you. You want to keep pushing it away until it just disappears, but it never budges, never sways, only tightens its grip instead. It becomes so much more than what you are. You’re no longer a name in the crowd but a walking diagnosis. You’re a prisoner in a messed up body you never asked to have, but when it came down to your control, you shoved it away as if it meant nothing.

So every morning thereafter your decision, you have to wake up to see the trouble you have caused. What you could have prevented, had you only worn that annoying bark. And you still know, deep down, that you could still do something to change it, but because you have already predefined your fate, you know there isn’t a point. You know that you will fail, so again, why bother trying?

But to have these thoughts is a horrendous cycle. All you ever do is go around and around again, never leaving the forest, never taking a step forward, just spinning all day long. You get so wrapped up in having Scolio, of being Scolio, that all other connections to the outside world falter and fall to the ground. Then it’s as if Scolio is all you have, all you are, and there’s no way out.

And Scolio isn’t even a temporary problem, not that I believe, at least. You don’t just wake up one day with the blessed straight spine that other people do not even think twice for having. You do not just turn around and all of a sudden get better. It takes baby steps: to heal, to change, to forgive and to move on. But Scolio is always there, alongside you, tapping you on the shoulder. Scolio can be gagged, but never silenced. Scolio can be fused, but never straight. Scolio can be healed, but never forgotten. Scolio can be moved on from, but it will always be there, waiting, watching, and waving from the edge of the forest.

And while that may sound awful, it really isn’t. Because while Scolio may be attached to the forest, I no longer am. And because of this, I can now look at Scolio positively, lightly, hopefully and from a voice that has been through the darkness but now appreciates that darkness for what it was: experience.

Of course, such a drastic change didn’t occur all at once. But it arrived in baby steps. Part of it came when I had a spinal fusion at seventeen. Another came when I realized my fifteen year old self wasn’t the same self I was at present. Yet another came as I committed to a new brace, even if different, and instead had the opposite problem of wearing it a little too much. But I didn’t want to get myself back into the previous situation. And, in a way, minus the scratches I couldn’t itch, and the trouble of getting pants over it, and the uncomfortable factor, it wasn’t so bad. At the end of four months, I even found it hard to let go of, not just out of plastic, but out of the whole ordeal and experience. I wanted to hold on for as long as I could, but it had gotten time to say goodbye.

And on a larger scale, at a year after surgery, everything itself came to a close. I found myself packing away my things in the middle of the forest, of being ready to move on and to not have any attachment left to the abyss, other than a thin, thin slice of string.

But, you won’t ever hear me calling my experience a mistake. I mean, it wasn’t the smartest or the best decision by far, but it wasn’t a mistake. Some crooked, uneven lines, just aren’t mistakes. Scolio itself, is not a mistake. That special apple may still be out there, somewhere between the stars, waiting to be grasped. But you won’t ever find me searching for it. I don’t need that apple anymore. I’m wonderfully okay with my bruised apple and it’s the best apple as far as I’m concerned.

Scolio may be a challenge, Scolio may be a pain, but without it, I wouldn’t be me. So the universe can keep its golden apples and straight spines, because I’m no longer interested in either of those. Scolio may always be tapping me on the shoulder, but until I get annoyed by it, I won’t mind. And as far as I believe, the reason you cannot fix a Scolio is not because it cannot be fixed, but because there’s nothing there to fix.

PHEW! So, uh, that’s my story! Maybe the golden apple concept explains why I don’t search for a fix all cure all for Recovery from mental health issues today. I don’t know. But I like being OPEN about my stuff nowadays. I’m SO over those scolio days. I’ve shut the book on that, and have moved on! WOOT! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this read and all the PRETTY PICTURES! 🙂
Stay safe, peeps!!!


Living with Severe OCD | Book Review

Living with Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Marie Gius


Taken from my notes in my blogging journal:

In this book, Marie Gius tells her whole life story. In a way, I can see how this rounds her out as a person–someone beyond a mental health issue, however I also feel it’s rather unnecessary and had me questioning its significance multiple times. I think it lays out the foundation of how she struggles before she attempted suicide, yet I feel it was rushed after that revealing truth.

Granted, she does have a lot of ground to cover, from her teenage years to her early fifties. I also would recommend this book to an OCD sufferer who is a teacher, however I’d advise not to read beyond the point where Marie tries to kill herself. There are distorted thoughts after that point that I don’t believe are conducive to anyone’s Recovery process and I think Marie would have a different perspective of it now, a decade later than she did when writing the book. I found those parts to be particularly triggering myself (which is a good exposure) but so much so that I’m muddled in my recommendation score.

She doesn’t focus much on the Recovery process, however this is how she defines her own Recovery journey. She doesn’t believe she can recover or be cured from her OCD and so if you’re looking for a book to inspire you to motivate yourself in Recovery, this is not the book for you.

Her aim is merely to tell her story, in all of its mistakes and truths. At least in that, she did a fine job. I do congratulate her on that courage, especially since she struggled with being open about her condition for many years. I still find it difficult to respect her definitions of Recovery, but maybe it is a work in progress for me to do that, as well.


3/5 obsessive compulsives.

If you’re an OCD sufferer and also a teacher, I’d recommend reading her story in this book, but don’t be looking for much inspiration, rather just learning about another’s experience and how they managed through it. So, if you’d like to learn about OCD and don’t have it, or have OCD and want to learn about another’s journey with it, then I do recommend this book. 🙂


  1. “I was shocked she knew about my illness, but again, I think many people found out after I tried to ‘commit’ suicide in June 2000” – p. viii

There’s no actual quotes around ‘commit’ in the book, but that’s just my insertion into it :3 It makes me cringe whenever I hear the term ‘crazy’ ‘insane’ and other stigmatizing comments like that just flung around carelessly by people, apparently in books and in real life and any other source. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Same with someone who mistakenly says a “successful” suicide, it’s like, “Ouch, no, you mean completed suicide” or “died by suicide” or “lost their life to suicide”. There’s an interesting TED talk about these word choices and suicidality here:

In addition, when I read this part of the prologue, I was surprised and unfortunately I found that it made her story, as little had been mentioned thus far, more … serious or impactful for me. 😦 In the sense that I’m sad it got so horrible to deal with for her and that it also just packs more of a punch when it gets ‘that bad’ too. 😦 Hope that makes sense!

2. “For decades, I have wanted to share my story. I feel such relief now releasing what I have had to hold inside” – p. ix

This is just to show how her main objective in this book (published in 2006) was to tell her story, in all of its intricacies and complexities. As I said above, it’s not much of an inspirational Recovery centered book, but rather what treatment she had over the course of her lifetime and how her condition worsened as she grew older.

3. “Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins” – p. xiii

She refers to this anonymous quote before the start of Chapter 1. It is a nice quote, hence why I’ve included it within this list, and I think it’s also especially good for me to keep in mind as I often struggle with this when it comes to learning about others’ OCD stories and Recovery journeys and attempting to RESPECT them in their uniqueness and vulnerability. *sigh* I am still my own work in progress.

It also reminds me of that post I deleted about one person’s OCD journey that caused a roaring reaction within my soul. I can understand now more of her journey from what I’ve read and learned from this book. That’s a solace, at least!

4. “My behavior is compulsive and irrational because I don’t have control over how I react to situations that bother me. At least, I don’t feel as if I am in control of my actions” – p. 1

This first sentence had really spiked me on the wrong foot, but I relaxed again once I read the following statement.

FEELING like you don’t have control over your actions and NOT having control over your actions are two VERY different things. I’m not just being nit picky. That difference MATTERS. I’m sure there are exceptions to this concept, ones you may be able to point out to me better than I can try and think of them off the top of my head, however, if there are few things we do control in our world, it’s OUR ACTIONS.

We ALWAYS have a choice. That choice may be minuscule or on a microscopic level, yet it is STILL a choice. Lying to yourself that you don’t have a choice can be damaging and put you backwards further in your Recovery, to the point of regression or relapse.

I think it’s very critical to realize, recognize and be aware of the power we have of our choices and actions. To believe I don’t have a choice for instance, means I’d just go off acting on the OCD thoughts without any regard to my Recovery process. And that is NOT how my Recovery works at all. I may still have the OCD thoughts about harming myself, however it is my CHOICE whether I stay on the road to Recovery or if I veer off course. That doesn’t mean I’m ALWAYS choosing Recovery, sometimes I don’t, and that’s just life and how shit goes sometimes. And really, that’s okay. Unless I’m dead, than it’s not. ^^;

I just feel this is a very important issue. It reminds me of idranktheseawater’s video about her revised edition of Lady Injury where she recognizes that she did have a choice in regards to her previous history of self-injury:

5. “No one really understood what was going on inside me. There was no one I could talk to who could help me” – p. 18

I’m including this quote because I think there are people who have struggled with any mental health issue or non-mental health issue who have felt alone and that they didn’t have someone in their life to help them through it or that could understandably wrap their minds around what was going on with them. So, this is for any of you out there, to remind you that you are not alone. And, if you ever need someone to chat with, my blog is always open. ❤ ❤ ❤

Sometimes just being heard means the world.

6. “At last I had a name to describe my problem… I was determined to learn everything I could about this mental illness” – p. 20-21

The neat thing about this bit is that she was also diagnosed by her university’s counseling center! Also, I hope it’s obvious that her treatment went back into the 1980’s, so some of the discrepancies in her book make sense.

I do want to point out here, as well in a few other places, that researching or learning all you can about OCD in particular, can actually be a form of reassurance seeking. When I was first diagnosed, I read a TON about OCD and self-harm/suicide obsessions and the differences between them and suicidal thoughts, and I continued this behavior into the new year when I was researching suicide prevention tips and everything. For me, it was a part of my compulsive behavior because I was fixating on the issue, giving it more importance than necessary, and finding out if I was dealing with OCD vs actual suicidal thoughts gave me some reassurance that it was OCD…only for me to doubt it again, research it, and so on and so forth. I also had some crisis appointments I made in the fall semester where I was also reassurance seeking as well.

So, just be careful (god that sounds so OCD lol) what your MOTIVATIONS are behind the action. Reassurance seeking has always been the slimiest behavior for me to understand and specifically determine.

7. “Keep telling yourself that the toilet is clean and it doesn’t need  any paper on it” – p. 25

This is a questionable response to dealing with OCD that she was told to introduce into her life. I think it’d be more accurate instead of reassuring herself that it’s clean, to admit that there’s the POSSIBILITY that it IS NOT clean and that that discomfort is something she has to grow more accustomed to.

8. “When I would drink beer my OCD wouldn’t bother me. I could act in a way I considered normal and have a good time. But it was really hard for me to deal with my OCD when I was sober again” – p. 32

I think this is important to highlight because it shows how substance abuse and OCD can play a role together, hand-in-hand. Also, whenever going to treatment programs, at least here in MA, one is often told they have to be sober from any drugs/alcohol, to be able to receive treatment. I know this is especially the case at the OCD Institute, at it can run amuck with the treatment you’re receiving to handle your OCD. Probably one of the main reasons I’m going to stay away from alcohol in my life. No, thank you, let’s move it along now, shall we? 😉

9. “You’ve progressed more than you think. To be able to talk about your OCD and be willing to go through steps to help yourself takes a lot of effort and courage” – p. 36

This quote is what I’d like to refer to as a #TMtruth (TM = treatment, my shorthand). This was something the psychologist had told Marie early on in her treatment at college, and I felt that it’s important and true and good to mention on here as well. ❤ This is also true for other mental health issues, too. 🙂

10. “Different situations and people started bothering me more and more; I could hardly function. I would avoid walking up and down the aisles of students because I didn’t want to become contaminated  by someone who wasn’t wearing clean clothes” – p. 59

This shows the depth of Marie’s OCD and how it was affecting her deeply and troublesomely.

11. “…Knowing that I never would be cured or completely free of my problem. I asked myself a question that had been haunting me for years. Did I really want to get better? OCD provided a perfect excuse for me not to do anything I didn’t want to do” – p. 63

#TMtruth. Recovery is a hard road to go on, even if it’s the most rewarding. Not having to be so hunkered down by the OCD or other mental health issue, having hard days but more often having better days, shedding yourself from the gunk that is mental health issues… that’s what Recovery can offer us, one moment at a time.

Recovery is not a cure all dream. At least, I don’t define it as such, which gives me the hope and inspiration to want myself to get better, not to be rid or “cured” from the OCD, but to just manage living with it in a positive and effective manner. That’s my goal. Anything higher than that might be idealistic and delusional.

I think because Marie had trouble defining her Recovery process in such a way, feeling it was an all or nothing task, she wasn’t able to get enough out of her treatment process with such a dim light ahead of her.

Also, it’s so common and a unity moment that we all wonder if we can recover, if we want to and if it’s something we can truly manage. My answer? YES! Listen to your true self, what your values are and head in line with them! You may not believe you can recover, however there are people in your life (or who will be in your life) who will encourage you and believe in you until you’re ready to start believing in you, too. ❤ ❤ ❤

12. “If you’re going to get better, you’ll have to force yourself to do activities you want to avoid” – p. 67

#TMtruth for our other OCD fighters out there!!! Remember Robert Frost: “The best way out is always through”

13. “‘Here in this world. I wish I were dead so I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this anymore. I’m so tired of living with OCD day after day'” – p. 69

Living with OCD, or any other condition, IS tiring day by day. However, I think if someone had further addressed this confession of Marie’s early on, she may not have gone on years later to act on these thoughts, in her blinding desperation to feel heard, understood, and to communicate the pain she was going through.

If someone you know is expressing suicidal ideation, please ask them more about it. Don’t shy away from the topic. Learn what to ask and how you can best respond to help them, and get them the help they need. ❤ It can make all the difference.

14. “After lunch, I took a nap. Sleep was the only time I could get away from OCD” – p. 71

I can understand this behavior, I sometimes engage in it myself to this day. However, it’s important to note that behavior like this to get away from the OCD can be avoidance and in that, is a compulsion. So again, tread lightly.

15. “But you’ve got to force yourself to go through these steps if you want to get better. How are you supposed to cope with situations if you don’t expose yourself to them?” – p. 76


16. “Those 2 weeks in the hospital seemed hardly to have helped me in coping in the real world. Just as I had told Dr. Montgomery, I went back to my old ways once I was home” – p. 77

*Insert facepalm here. Insert facepalm here*

17. “I was very emotional and needed the support of my family as there was no special person in my life to help me with my OCD. If my principal had fired me I think I would have ‘committed’ suicide as teaching was my life” – p. 80

I quote this part because I recall in a Philosophy class once we spoke about how, as humans, we tend to have the inability to imagine ourselves going through and SURVIVING terrible situations. We either underestimate our strength or overestimate the pain, however, when put through the situation, we wind up keeping it together better than we thought we would. That’s what this reminded me of.

18. “I was told to practice my tension reducing techniques, but I wasn’t diligent with my efforts” – p. 80

I get that Recovery and treatment are no easy endeavors, but this part made me a little annoyed because I just felt like, well, what would you expect? If you’re not an active member of your own treatment, it’s likely that doing nothing isn’t going to help you.

Yes, we all slip up and make mistakes. But if it’s an ongoing problem, then it’s our decision when to start looking for solutions to it rather than continuing with the problematic behavior.

19. “Normal? I don’t think so, but they keep reassuring me that there is no such thing as normal and I only have a disorder” – p. 82

I think this concept could be borderline reassurance seeking. See my comments from above for more. (We’ve got nearly 18 more to go… O_O DX GAH)

20. “Killing myself seemed like a good idea” – p. 84

It always does, and it never is. -_-

21. “The last statement about hiding my OCD is very accurate. I have learned many ways to cover up when something is bothering me” – p. 89

This reminds me of the idea of hiding your mental illness from Fuck Feelings by Michael and Sarah Bennett, and how that’s often not helpful for either you (the sufferer) or the people around you because they will often become upset and angry at themselves and feel at a loss for how to help you if you don’t open up to them about it. So, in fact, trying to hide it can be more damaging. At least, that’s what I recall from the book, check out the book review about it for more of my thoughts on it! 😉 Shameless self-promotion 😀

22. “I would remind myself that anger, like any other emotion, is something a person cannot control. What humans can control is how they react to anger or any other emotion” – p. 91


23. “‘The way I stop worrying is to do my best and accept what comes and know it will all work out in the end. Your thoughts on depression are very real and a lot of people experience it. It’s hard to overcome sometimes. We all need meaning and a purpose to survive. There is meaning and purpose to your life. You are part of the web of life. We are all interconnected and all are needed and useful. The difficulty is in recognizing how needed you are…So keep going; you can conquer anything if you want to‘” – p. 95

Some powerful words Marie was given from a friend. I thought they were too good to not include, as they can reach out to many from her story. ❤

24. “Just like living with Leslie, being around others was good for support, but the group also reinforced each other with more negative habits and ideas” – p. 110

I’ve heard this concept before from someone, that people who suffer with OCD can pick up the obsessions or compulsions of each other. I don’t know how much truth is involved or if there are studies about it, but I thought I’d include it as it’s interesting.

Phew, we’re getting there, peeps, we’re getting there.

25. “This whole process was extremely stressful, not just to my body but also to my mind. I would continuously replay what quantity of food I ate, and it made me nervous to monitor my food intake. It is very common for people with OCD to control their bodies because they feel they cannot control their minds. I had power because I could decide what I would and would not eat” – p. 121

This is the part where I can now better understand how some people with OCD develop secondary eating disorders. It reminds me of a few stories that I know of where this has happened, and it clears up some discrepancies I once had.

I also feel the power play reminds me of myself whenever I talk about that ‘negative power’. That’s interesting.

God, my laptop is ON FIRE. D:

26. “People with OCD need constant reassurance from loved ones that events in their lives are acceptable to live with” – p. 141

NO. That is another form of reassurance seeking, which is a compulsion which means one is engaging family members in the act of enabling the OCD and only making it stronger and worse for the sufferer in the long term.

This Youtuber is pretty great who talks about his experience and journey in Recovery from Harm OCD:

Mark Freeman

27. “…Suggested I use a nasal CPAP to control my breathing, but I did not want to use anything unless I had no choice. I still have problems sleeping, but I am able to continue functioning” – p. 143

Some of us peeps out there are rigid in what we allow or don’t allow ourselves to use or have. Just like some people think that going on medications is unnecessary or “bad”, some people will see the aid for what it is: an aid. Even so, I just included this bit as it shows how treatment resistant (for better or worse) Marie was in all aspects of her life, not just with the OCD. Maybe continuing to function even if it’s with some impairment is how she wants to live her life. *shrug* Just something to point out. *cough I’m criticizing *cough*

28. “I was tired of the day to day routine of living. I wanted to crawl into a fetal position and forget the world even existed” – p. 145

It tends to sound nicer than it is though. What’s better is to face whatever difficulty is impeding upon your progress and punch it back in the face as you gather up your strength and courage to face another day as another victory. We all have tough days, with and without illness, and it’s important how you make it through those tough days that really counts. Be aware of your victories.

29. “I didn’t realize I need consistency to take the proper dosage of my medications to remain stable. I thought I was doing better, but I wasn’t thinking properly” – p. 162

Remember: Do NOT stop using your medications without first consulting your doctor!!!

When it came to Marie’s suicide attempt, I found that Recovery Raquel could understand it and relate to it with anger and shock, since it would have been better for her to have gone to the ER beFORE she acted on the thought. However, her attempt, like ANY suicide attempt, is very serious. I’m glad, although she wasn’t all that willing, she got some of the help she needed. OCD has a different opinion, but fuck that, that’s not important!

30. “I had been unstable when I had seen him, but I have learned over the years how to be a great actress. I had agreed to start seeing him on a regular basis. And I had assured him I was doing well. I was not.” – p. 166

It’s very important, crucial and critical for us to be honest to our treatment providers as we are going through hard times, especially if we are aware that we are vulnerable to acting on self-harm or suicidal thoughts. It will not only cause undue pain onto yourself but the people you depend on or who depend on you likely won’t be happy either. That’s not to guilt trip anyone. That’s just the truth.

I’ve always felt in my journey that the second hardest thing to do was to tell someone and ask for help. The first was to choose to live.

If you find it difficult or near impossible to say it to your treatment provider, write a document or a blog post and use that when you go in next to speak to them. Keeping your suicidality to yourself only lets the idea sink further into your brain and makes it more likely that you’ll act on it. Remember, there are hotlines you can reach out to. If you need me, you can reach out to me, too. ❤

31. “How dare the medical system – anyone – force me to stay where I did not want to remain” – p. 166

Yeah, so Marie wasn’t all that cheerful for getting in the hospital that time. However, it makes me more grateful to myself that I’d been so open to hospital help in my past!! True, some things and some people annoyed me, but as long as I didn’t punch them or myself in the face it was a fine time.

32. “My family was concerned about my safety and how my OCD was affecting me” – p. 170

#relatable 🙂

33. “I was on a constant merry-go-round without the choice of ever slowing down or escaping. Was there any way to get out of this chaos called OCD? The “only” way to get rid of all the agony, hate, pity and sorrow was by ending my life. I had reached the point where I had [retracted]. I knew it was the ‘cowardly’ way to deal with my problem, but I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to stop feeling anything, and I didn’t want to live another minute where I would be so concerned about keeping clean” – p. 170

Remember, “only’s” and “just’s” and “not that bad’s” are all suicidal ideation talking. They are not true depictions of reality and what potential and strength you have within you to get through another day.

Think of a time when you’ve gone shopping. Have you noticed how many different designs there are for socks? Different lengths, different polka dots, stripes, themes. There’s different color schemes and sayings and toe socks. There’s such a VARIETY of cereals and food and stationary and beads and artwork. The point is, just as you have many OPTIONS in shopping, you have many OPTIONS in life too.

Suicide ends the possibility of life ever getting better. To be alive is to experience this world once and once only. At least once as who you are today, that is. When you’re in that struggle between living another day and ending your life all together, make sure you have a safety plan before you get into that crisis. Write out who and where you can contact people, help lines, ER’s. Write out what you can do to push off your acting on those harmful thoughts. Remember that this feeling will pass. That feelings are temporary.

Find some music you relate to, preferably positive and hopeful, and use those messages to guide your way through your journey into the light.

I can’t promise you that the thoughts will ever go away, that the urges will disappear, however I can say it’s rather likely that you’ll get better. And if you are the few who find it still is difficult to live, try another treatment program, try another treatment method. Try to accept what you were born to deal with, and make the most out of your good days, as best as you can.

More of us will get better than not. But if you die today, you’ll never get to experience the good in life again. And that’s the truth.

34. “I had not practiced with [retracted] for three years, I did not know what I did wrong. I don’t want to know what I did wrong because I hope I will never want to kill myself again” – p. 172

Hoping suicidal ideation won’t come up again could be a death trap, literally. It’s better to plan out solutions you can employ if they do come back again, like a safety plan, a guideline of coping strategies, etc. Don’t just blindly hope, put the work in to make it more difficult for yourself to act on your thoughts.

The more time you give yourself to think through what your actions are, the better. So lock up your medications or have someone hand them out to you, put other things under locks, or remove access to things that you feel a part of you would love to act on. Make it more difficult. Choose Recovery.

35. “You are the kindest and most genuine person I have met. You have had a positive impact on so many people by what you say and how you live. Our time in this world is limited. This world will be a lonelier place without you. There are people you have yet to meet and who will be blessed by your friendship and company” – p. 176

Another something someone had wrote to her. Again, I think it is sweet and applies well beyond her single life, too. PASS IT ON! ❤

36. “Sometimes a crisis is the ‘only’ way to get a message through. My attempted suicide let those close to me as well as my medical advisers know how serious I felt about my situation” – p. 176

I wish it were NOT true, and I guess that some TIMES it’s not will have to be enough for me. I think that sucks, having to resort to such a terrible, risky action before other people start waking up and recognizing how badly things are affecting you. Again, I wonder how things may have been different for her if this was addressed earlier on…


ANY WHO!!!!!!


Do it Now, how to break the procrastination habit

ALSO YOU BEST BE READING THIS, IT TOOK ME ALL DAY TO DO. lmao Just kidding, it did take me all day to do D:


Teachable Moment #3 | Art Therapy Series

*snaps fingers* Welcome back, again!! We are currently in our third spot of this Art Therapy Series about teachable moments! 😀 Hooray!!

Today’s assignment is from March 6 2015.

The assignment was to create your Recovery ship, include who or what helps you within it (the Tools in your Toolbox), I believe to name something about the journey of Recovery that’s important to you (you’ll see what I mean in orange shortly), name your ship and write a little blurb around it. And you could stylize the ship and surrounding area however you wanted to, of course!

So, here is what I did: (It’s an aerial view of the boat–by the way, I love ocean metaphors with Recovery, if you hadn’t realized that by the ‘voyage’ daily prompt XD)



Okay, here it is, above!! So there’s some clouds and waves in the background as you can see. The name of my ship is:


And I chose:


as my Recovery word…or something, I don’t really remember, it’s just there though! XD

I like the idea of the ship, still, being called Serenity, it’s like a ship name and all and I think that Acceptance is very important when it comes to healing and working through Recovery and being able to accept what has gone and happened and move forward to what can be new and fulfilling in life. 🙂

Within my Toolbox is this (at the time):

The blue person represents my current therapist til this day, the red person represented the graduate student/Counseling Center of my university. The red plus sign at the top represents hospitalizations and the people there that I came to meet.

Next, there is me, the brown dot, surrounding my one of my friends, Melissa in green, and someone else I can’t quite remember. Then there’s all the other heads of everyone else. 🙂 Well, every one of my other friends, online or not.

Next the black and yellow people are my parents. And then there’s another group of friends or something, I think.

At the very bottom, there are my coping strategies:

a telephone for calling for help, “breathe”, music, bracelets, photos, drawing, writing and “imagery” (that I’ve used as a grounding technique in the past, which is quite effective and creative for me, we’ll go over that one day, peeps.)

This reminds me a little of this drawing I have yet to finish, in my first sketchbook, that uses the concept of ‘The Coping Tree’:

IMG_8947 Upd

An unfinished WIP. The Coping Tree has different coping strategies hanging from ribbons on its branches. 🙂 Damn, I need more of my marker pens, they look so great here!!

At the very top of this piece I’ve written the following words:

Tomorrow is a new day. Every moment is a new opportunity. You are not alone. I have support, I have potential, I can overcome this stormy sky, I can make it through this. Get rid of what I can and accept the things I can’t, and move forward. I know have what I need to recover”

It’s still important and makes me smile when I see that I crossed out “knowing” and stated that I HAVE what I need to recover. That power and potential is already within me, I just have to learn to access it and let it brighten my way through the storm. 🙂 Having hope in yourself and your Recovery journey is HUGE, even though you won’t always feel hopeful, I encourage you to find something to hold onto in your life.

I’ve known friends who want to publish a book in their future, so they hold onto life for that possibility, because if they die by suicide before then, they’ll never get that chance to write their book.

I’ve known friends who hold onto their family, not wanting them to hurt after their own suicide, so they stay alive for them.

I know that it matters more to stay alive for your own SELF than for others, because sometimes it can mean the difference between a relapse and a lapse.

I know for me, that I held onto the possibility of life getting better. I held on when I didn’t know what I was holding onto. It didn’t really make sense to me, but I tried holding on anyways. I held onto my life having a brighter future, I held onto the possibility of Recovery, I held onto living life again, I held onto freedom, I held onto being okay.

And now, when I struggle, I tell myself that I’ll go inpatient if I need to. And then I get through that crisis or moment of stress, and don’t need to go inpatient any longer. And so I make the same goal, that after this stress I’ll go inpatient, and again, the stress will pass and inpatient is not where I wind up going. I’ve been telling myself this since April 2016.

Now, when I struggle, I think of my #RecoveryHome. I think of the streets in the village, the stationary room I’d have, the structure of the home, the other houses and streets that reside in that small town, what the landscape may be like, the lighthouse on the property. I make scrapbook pages and art and hang out with friends to keep me busy. I tell myself I’ll go to the partial at the OCD-I and hold onto the hope that it will come, and if not, at least hold onto the idea of it.

Now, when I struggle I remind myself of the story I have left to tell. I know that my story matters so much more if I’m still around to tell it. And there are things I haven’t yet told that I want to be able to live for to tell. I also use the anger motivation that if I were to die by suicide, it’s likely that no one would call it what it was–a suicide. So I have to stay alive because we HAVE to get talking about suicide and mental health and illness, because LIVES are on the line, and those lives MATTER. And if it’s up to some of us who’ve been through that experience to open up and talk about it, to encourage others to seek treatment, get help and to live another day–than I think that’s an utter HONOR and I will happily put myself out there in the crossfire just to raise awareness–because this issue is LARGER than I am and any way I can be of help MATTERS.

There’s no doubt (other than a 1% for uncertainty’s sake) in my mind that I have what it takes to recover. That you have what it takes to Recover. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will all recover. I believe that we can’t save everyone, yet it means for those that we can help to save themselves, that they can lead lives that are so impactful to other people struggling that it is SOOO worth the effort of trying to begin with.

I’d also like to share with you a song that I was listening to this morning:

Some of the ones that stick out the most in what I was just saying are:

“Everybody’s got a reason to cry / And everybody fights but not everyone survives / And everybody’s searching not everybody finds / And I’m still in Recovery, help me make it out ALIVE”

I also used some of these inspiring lyrics in a acrylic painting before:

IMG_1064 Upd

This piece is the group icon on DA for the Recovery to Wellness group, which is the name that inspired this blog, too. ❤

Remember, that Recovery IS possible. Find what you need to hold onto, and don’t let it go. Your life matters and you are worthy of receiving help. ❤ ❤ ❤ You are a SURVIVOR. Keep on trekking and keep on staying alive.


Keep on Smiling! ❤

(I could go on more of a tangent, but this is a good place to end for now ;))

I hope you enjoyed this teachable moment!!!

Lethargy and more Lethargy

Blegh! After an afternoon nap I am feeling more unmotivated and just bleh than I had been before! :O

I know I have a lot I can do today, I just can’t quite imagine what all that stuff is… :/ So here’s a blogging post about me..trying to figure…it out. :3

  1. Today is Tuesday, which is a DA day. So I gotta spend some time today there updating and submitting artwork and whatnot.
  2. If I spend time blogging and commenting today I’ll get more enthusiastic. 🙂
  3. Today is a drawing day and positive messages creating so that will also bring me smiles and activity.
  4. I can also read today for a bit, even though it is a hard read and I keep having OCD in my dreams… 😦 Still, it’s a project.

Something I have noticed that’s odd, is whenever I finish reading a book (or sometimes while I’m reading it) I get more of an influx of the OCD. Some of that is still because I need to make a phone call (which I should do twice today, actually) so there’s that, but yeah, odd. There are ways I can build up my walls too, so that happens less, so that’s something to journal about and look into.


Today it has been 4 weeks since I last scratched myself!! WOOT WOOT!

AND it’s been 8 days since I last self-harmed in that more complicated manner *waves hand in air*

Hooray! 🙂 *claps for myself*

Also, fun fact: When it comes to these asterisk movements, I tend to act them out behind my laptop. Just in case you ever wondered 😉


I think I may try to do a teachable moment next, and then do some of the daily prompts I’ve missed in order to play some catch up… especially since tomorrow I am out of the office for therapy and campus time. :3 So I’ll give you a LOT today and a LOT on Th 😉


Also, Sunday was very fun! Jeanine and I had a great time and there were like 20 doggies at the play day!!! It was LOADS of fun. I didn’t get any pictures though ^^; I’ll try for reals next time!! I’ll bring it in a plastic bag and everything. When my brain is working better, I’ll update you guys on some of the stuff you missed out on. :3 So, watch out for that, too!!


Any whoooooo, I’ll go off to write another post now.

Hope you all are SWELL and WELL and CHIMING like a BELL! 😀

Stay safe! ❤ ❤ ❤


He’s Gone | Book Review

He’s Gone by Deb Caletti


From the best of my ability, I shall summarize what this book was about and what some of my thoughts were initially reading through it.

So the main character and our narrator, is Dani, a wife whose husband has suddenly and without a trace, disappeared. It becomes revealed as the story unfolds that the novel has started as her way of confessing that she’s not sure what happened to her husband, Ian, because she had taken two Vicodin and drank wine at his work party the night before, and subsequently dealt with a blackout. She is an anxious woman who came out of an abusive relationship with her ex-husband Mark, and found herself trying to rescue yet another man, Ian, in her second marriage.

The book involves the themes of rescue and transformation. Ian was someone who never quite earned his father’s approval and so he went about attempting to earn it throughout his life. His father had a hobby of preserving butterflies so Ian took it up when his father passed and so the symbolization in that is used throughout the novel.

It becomes clearer to the reader how much Ian and Dani’s relationship was a replication of her and Mark’s, up until a confession where Dani reveals how Ian once grabbed her and how traumatic that was for her. Dani decides she wants to leave the relationship but never has the chance.

Ian is eventually found and Dani moves on with her life, transforming into a better and stronger woman after this ordeal.

Some of my initial thoughts were that (prior to page 100):

Dani annoys me. She’s so anxious and worried as a character over conventional (social) issues that she could likely benefit from psychological treatment. She was in an abusive relationship for years though and Ian sounds like an Asshole with OCPD or at least some excessive significant perfectionism and controlling issues. She’s better off without him, really. There are some descriptions that I enjoy but I’ve thought a few times of dropping off on the reading. However I’ll hold on. My rating thus far is 2-3/5. The book needs to backtrack on their relationship but it’s not my style for this piece. I find her somewhat difficult to relate to and the use of ‘crazy’ bothers me to no end. She also moved away from her values and her interactions with the reader feels unnecessary and childish. Might be too harsh with ‘crazy’ and such as characters have their own views that don’t necessarily reflect the author’s but the stigmatization in books is unexpected and bothersome to me.

Looking back now, I can see how it was necessary for Dani to reveal in parts how her and Ian’s relationship was. It was just very long and drawn out, in a way. I feel if you’ve been in a romantic relationship, you could relate more to this book than I have. I thought it’d be more inspiring or spooky and less romantic and issue oriented, but that’s a misjudgment on my part. I did enjoy parts of it, but I definitely felt the way I felt about ‘The Creature of the Night’, in which I wanted to stop reading before I finished it.


3/5 rescues.

However if you meet any of these three criteria:

  • You struggle with rescuing other people
  • You see someone struggling and wish to fix them
  • You’ve dealt with relationship abuse in the past

Then I recommend this as a 4/5 rescues you need to read.


A. “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nia

B. “Transformation is a marvelous thing. Though wonderful to watch, transformation is not a particularly pleasant process for the subject involved” – Vladimir Nabokou

These are two quotes that are stated before the novel begins. I can see now, after having read the book, how necessary and revealing they were about the story line. The book discusses a lot about past histories and the selves we bring along with us in our lives and how we repeat the same mistakes we either grew up around or have learned to incorporate in our lives. If you like that sort of thing or are interested in a woman growing from abusive relationship to abusive relationship and then leaving it all behind, this is the book for you!

I also really like that second quote as it’s something we can all likely relate to. And it’s true for Recovery and Wellness. 🙂

  1. A rare moment of peace, the kind you take in and vow to hold on to but never can. Those moments are gone at the first traffic jam or botched bank statements, in spite of your best intentions” – p. 10

I liked this quote from the novel. 🙂 I was caught by the description in the first chapter when I began reading and maybe it was due to my restrictive deadline that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. Either way, this is a piece that stood out to me, as I like the idea of it and it captures how fleeting our emotions can be, whether they’re negative or positive, even when–especially when–they feel like they’ll go on forever. Look out for and hold onto the little moments. ❤

2. “Ian’s father need–it was the kind of hole you saw and wanted to heal for someone you loved. After trying that routine twice, and failing, with Mark, with Ian, I knew something else, too: It’s human nature to want to help and soothe and save with your love, but it’s also arrogant” – p. 51

This really sums up this book and her character progression through it. She recognizes the mistakes she made in the past, compromising her values and staying with someone who didn’t truly respect or love her, and never quite having the strength or courage to leave. This is alluded to later on in the novel as well. I don’t have deep issues, if many, with rescuing people and having read ‘Fuck Feelings’ I can see the demise of trying to do so and how it’s just not possible. So I couldn’t relate to her on this end as it wasn’t something I’ve deeply struggled with. I’ve likely had a little bit of that feeling but not enough to think my love and caring would patch up someone else. If anything, I’m quite aware of how that love and caring isn’t enough. Even in the best of times :/

3. “In marriage there are things you don’t know about your partner. Always. The real thoughts in his head as he drifts off to sleep with his shoulders turned away from you-you can’t even guess. But you want to believe you do know. That a person is knowable. You need this belief, it’s a necessary denial. How can you go about everyday life otherwise?” – p. 81

This novel explores a lot about how there aren’t ways to truly know a person, a thought I’ve used before in my own characters and one that’s particularly interesting if you enjoy any of those investigation Discovery channels. Just thought this was neat. 😉

4. “I was elevated by love. I felt connected to all people and things, struck by our common humanity and the beauty of it… I noticed the lovely curve of orange peels, the bittersweet tenderness of twilight” – p. 84

I loved this description here. True bliss can be like this ❤

5. “It’s your own brain. It should be on your side. So often it’s your very own self that betrays you, that’s the thing” – p. 99

Thought this was exceptionally nice. 🙂 Especially for any of us out there with mental health issues. It’s funny to come to realize that just because it’s our brain, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily looking out for our best lives all the time. It’s good to realize through Recovery that there’s a difference between your brain and your mind. And that you’re more than a head, but a body, too. Also, just because you think something doesn’t make it true. And, you are not your brain. ❤

6. “I wanted to be small but large too, I wanted to be both. These were the themes of our relationship: Dominance, control. Abuser, victim. It’s what you get when you give up your power, when you don’t realize that your strength is your self-respect. No one has the right to abuse you, sure, but no one should hand over that right, either” – p. 108

I feel this might be the most controversial quote to include here, but I’m going to swing for it. I don’t know how true or untrue this is, but it stood out to me so I thought I would include it within the featured quotes section. I like the concept that you have power and strength in your self-respect and that not handing it over to someone exemplifies defiance and survivorship. If that makes sense? It’s sort of like a two way relationship in a sense, like the idea that someone who is bullying you can only really hurt you (words wise) if you let them. I don’t know how accurate that is, but the concept of it may be simplified and it seems honest like that?

7. “Oh, how we love and overuse fine, our all-purpose little evasion. Fine means not fine. Fine means pity me. Fine means don’t ask” – p. 113

This reminded me of the FINE acronym, fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional. XD

8. “There’s a hand on my arm and just in time, because the floor appears to be moving” – p. 126

I liked this quote because I found myself getting really sucked into what was happening. So I thought I’d include that tidbit here.

9. “I look out at the city. So many stories there, in each of those windows and tiny cars. Every single person has his or her own story line going on at that very moment, one that involves the urgency of right now, but with motivations and themes that go back generations. Out there are lost fortunes and broken hearts and great ideas and daughters who’ve never truly left home” – p. 126

See that theme of histories here? Mmhmm. I liked this concept a lot. I’ve always thought about it in moments like these, wondering where that next car is going, who they are, what their home is like, who they’ve been… I just find it fascinating and incredibly mind-boggling. Like how you can think about someone who has crowd surfed at 16 and now that you’re X age, you never got that one experience at 16 of crowd surfing, but someone out there, in the world, has. It makes me think of this existential crisis I had while in college, of how as a writer, I’ve created tons of characters and lives through words, and yet, very few of them have been things I’ve actually experienced…and that headspace of creativity and literary vision is so wonky and flattering and floaty. It’s interesting how you can KNOW someone without them even truly existing.

10. “It hadn’t really disappeared. Of course it hadn’t. It was right there all along” – p. 136

Talking about a magic trick with a coin here but it fits with Ian’s disappearance as well XD

11. “Your history, it follows you. It’s under your skin and in your cells and it flows through your blood, and so you can’t escape it. You grew up hiding from the storms under your own roof, so you look for lightning to live with. The two of you, he and you, you rescue each other. You dodge the big shadows and cling to each other, two lost souls, as night falls on that lifeboat” – p. 185

More about history. ❤ And rescue.

12. “Ghosts never show themselves in the daylight. Nightmares don’t come during an afternoon nap” – p. 190

I really love this quote. It reminds me so much of my own short story series, that maybe you guys will one day see here: the Dr. Cory Matthews series. I’ve used that prior sentence in this quote a few times in his series, and so it was neat to see it fitting elsewhere with other characters in another book. ❤

13. “So much of your life is loss–contemplating loss, avoiding loss, dealing with loss. Objects go, cereal goes, time, places, people” – p. 203

Thought this was poignant. Can you tell I’m getting tired of writing for this book review? *blushes* sorry!!

14. “Abandonment and the self-sufficiency she’d had the guts to muster had left my mother with a don’t mess with me toughness that would occasionally burn fierce and frightening. It was a monumental display but a trick of the eye. There was no fire, not really–only a child waving a plastic flashlight in her own dark night” – p. 251

Dani describing her mother, this jumped out at me.

15. “We have messes, but mostly we’re just trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got” – p. 251

I’ll be honest, I’m getting cranky and irritable, I haven’t had breakfast yet and am working on finishing this before I do ^^; Oops.

I like the honesty and the plainness of this quote. It’s very true, sometimes we are so hard on ourselves, when we’re just doing the best we can with what we’ve got at that very moment. Never forget that. ❤ Life is a process.

16. “He had to rescue himself but couldn’t. I had to rescue myself but never did” – p. 320

If you wind up reading this book, this revelation is amazing. It ties in the whole theme of rescue so well. It’s sad yet wonderful. I hope these quotes can get you thinking if rescue is a theme in your life, and what you may want to do about that, if anything at all.

17. “‘I never want to live anywhere else. I could die here and be happy.’ . . . that’s weirdly comforting. I never got to say goodbye, and this is the last place he was and the rightest place for me to grieve him, to grieve us. I could run from here, but there are things I need to look hard at–my own guilt, but even more, the place where I’ve been merely human, too” – p. 322

Dani is finally transforming. I’m glad we get that glimpse, even if it’s at the end 😛

18. “In this cocoon there is work to be done. Old structures are remade. I think, I write, I read. I try to make peace with myself. I try to remember the simple but difficult truth that we mostly do the best we can, given that we’ve got to drag our histories along with us” – p. 323

The theme of transformation continues. 🙂 I like the idea that structures are remade and that next sentence right after. It’s very nice. And again, doing the best you can and giving yourself credit for that.

19. “So I will build my own protective layer, made from experience and hard-won awareness. I have promised myself this. I will change, slowly, over months and years. And when I emerge, I will not fear long voyages over water. If I become tired or terrified and the promise of rescue arrives–a boat, a net, an outstretched hand–I will turn my back to it. I will turn my back to it and rise and fly, my tissue-paper wings evolving in midair, becoming strong as I  soar over now that hill and the next and the next” – p. 323

A fitting final note. At least Dani becomes aware of her troubles and what she needs to work on for self-improvement and we’re left with the hope that she can manage this, after all she’s been through, and that if we’re in need of such transformation ourselves that we can also achieve it. It’s fitting in a way that we don’t get to witness the work she puts into herself to improve, just as Recovery is a process and for instance, right now, today, I don’t know where my Recovery journey will take me three years from now. It’s unfinished, it’s a work in progress, and I’m very aware of how I’m along for the ride and the story is left unwritten from this point on. (And for some mind bogglingness: if you think about it the past is being written as you exist in the present…each moment, each second, weird, huh?)

At the same time, I would have liked to see how she grew and maybe that’s the type of book I’m attracted to. 🙂 That and ghosts/paranormal/afterlife and murder/psychopathy and mental health stuffs. 😀 So diverse!!

I’m also glad that Dani has grown to not be welcoming of rescue, and that she is strong enough now to rescue HERSELF. 🙂

That’s where our true power lies!! Maybe you weren’t able to rescue yourself years ago, yet, NOW you can. ❤


The previous book review was brought to you by a couple days worth of work. So enjoy it! XD So aggressive 😉

The next book I’m reading is: Living with Severe OCD by Marie Gius. It’s already annoyed me and it’s going to be a wicked exposure.

Look out for more posts today!!! Doing ALL of the blogging.

Stay safe. ❤

It’s Sunnnnnndaaaay

You know what that meaaannnnsssss!!

I am heading out shortly to see the doggies! 😀 And I’ll be meeting Jeanine there, too! Hooray!

Today’s daily prompt is “fence” and I have lots of ideas to do for that, so look out for a fence post later this evening! I am bringing my camera this time too, so we’ll see if I wind up getting pictures or not 🙂


Hope you ALL are well and that you have (or have had) a terrific Sunday with sunshine and warmth. It still boggles my mind that we’re only in the beginning of summer! It feels a bit like it should be over by now ahaha.

Anywho, I’ll see you guys later ❤ ❤ ❤


Stay safe!

Teachable Moment #2 | Art Therapy Series

Hello again, my friends!! Welcome back to the spankin’ new teachable moment, art therapy series!! 😀 *flaps hands in the air back and forth* That’s the sign of my utter joy and excitement 😉

So, this one is relatively simple today and involves a few pathways of journey. There’s more writing in this one than the first one, and it’s only one sided. The funny thing about doing these, so far, is how much work I have to do to decipher just what the hell the instructions were to begin with and how that explains what’s on the piece of paper XD

Any who! I believe this one was our map to Recovery. Here’s what I did:


The goal was to draw what our road map was towards Recovery. I created 3 different paths, one for depression (in blue), one for the OCD (in red) and one for the suicidal ideation (in black). I also included phrases within the paths that involved things I either told myself or that other people told me. Throughout each path way there are yellow strips when the light brightened and Recovery Progress were made. There are more loop de loops with the OCD (some of them are cyclic if you look closely) and there are stopping/dead end points with the suicidal ideation, showing how I reached points where my values overran my ‘desire’ to harm myself, and I reached out for help instead. 🙂

In the Depression category these are the phrases listed:

“Depression is a haze, but the clouds will clear”

“I can see you’re struggling.”

“I support you”

“I’m here for you”

“This will pass”

“Are you okay?”

“Stay safe”

“You’re doing the best you can”

“You can be okay again”

In the suicidal ideation category:

“Talk to someone”

“I want you to live”

“I want you to overcome this”

“This is not the only way out”

“I want you to get better”

“Stay safe”

“This is not the right way”

“I’m worried about you”

“I love you”

“You can get through this”

“Hope exists”

“Things get better”

And in the OCD category:

“That is not a threat”



“Let it go”

“You are not your diagnosis”

“That’s just my brain doing its thing again”

“Thoughts are just thoughts”

“Break the cycle”

“Stay safe”


“Everything will be okay”

And then, if you can see, all three paths join together again and brighten out to the banner of Recovery. (Which is particularly interesting because I made Jeanine this type of watercolor this year:


Created with watercolor pencils :3 That’s how I started getting into watercolor. 🙂 Neat, huh?

This reminds me of how sometimes I’m not as original as I may think, since often I’ve come up with an idea or phrase MONTHS before I start using it heavily. That, at least I think, is interesting! 🙂 Recovery then, is a process that just grows on you.

You can see with each pathway there are a similar breadth of concerns:

That life will get better, it’s important to stay safe, that Hope exists, and that Recovery is possible.

Some of the techniques I listed like mindfulness have been incredibly helpful in my journey towards Recovery.

It’s also nice to see how my eventual belief in myself and others to get through the cruddy moments began. Of course, it was propelled forwards even farther from this song:

And it’s how I still hold that belief for my friends out there who are struggling today, that I KNOW they will recover and get through the hardest times. I know they’re strong enough, and I’ll hold onto hope for them, until they’re able to take it into their own hands, too. It makes me think a little bit about this photograph I did years ago:

IMG_2405 Rocky 3

In this, I am holding a jar with a broken butterfly inside of it, and there is a flashlight held between my legs that is shining through it. The photograph is meant to symbolize inner potential and inner strength, no matter what the outside may feel like. From April 2014

The inspiration for this theme in our Photography Club on campus was ‘Interpretation of Inspiration’ And I used these song lyrics:

“Although today you may weep ’cause you’re weak / And everything seems so bleak and hopeless / The light that you’re seeking it begins to seep in / That’s the only thing keeping you from leaping off the motherfreakin’ deep end” – “Beautiful Pain” by Eminem ft. Sia

For an added bonus, since we’re on the topic, these are the other photos I included in this theme:

IMG_9415 - Rocky 1

A black&white photo of my hand with the sunlight flaring over it. From a stairwell in the Wheatley building on campus. Feb. 11.2014

IMG_1967 - Rocky 2

My boldest piece at the time. I wasn’t open yet about my struggles (in fact, I didn’t know I had any) but I was passionate about suicide prevention (although not nearly as much as I am now) and so I made this piece, because this piece was the most I interpreted from the song lyrics. Meant to represent a ledge, of course. Taken at school, April 2014

IMG_2509 - Rocky 4

This one features a broken, decayed bench but sunlight still reaching through the empty woods to bring hope to it. This concept still makes me smile. April 2014

So, what’s there to learn or take away from this teachable moment?

Well, the pathway to Recovery is not a linear journey for one. And there are many paths and detours and dead ends we may face before we get to the point in our lives where we’re able to feel free and happy more days than the days we feel irritated and drudgery. Life is a complex wonder for many of us, and I believe it’s important to hold onto hope and all the dreams a person can imagine so as not to become corrupted or empty inside. Or, unfulfilled, as they say.

It’s natural to want more, but seeking perfection is unattainable. It’s important to recognize when you’ve done the best you can and to find satisfaction in that process rather than the outcome, whether that outcome is good or bad.

That’s a lot of what mindfulness is about. About accepting the presence of thoughts or emotions in a nonjudgmental manner, that allows them to exist and pass by as they naturally will. As well as to find bliss and light in the moment, engaged in it 100%, rather than getting caught up in the past or the future.

It’s a useful skill to learn, and a pretty great stress buster too. But, we’ll talk more about Mindfulness another day.

I suppose it’s important to just keep in mind that things in life that we are dealt with aren’t usually fair or deserved. Shit just happens, sometimes. And it’s up to us what we choose to do with those circumstances. We may not be able to control very much in our chaotic lives, though we do control our actions and behavior. If you can’t change your thoughts or emotions, at least you can act within your line of values. And for what you can’t change, just remember, you’re doing the best you can. And give yourself credit for doing that, because some people never do.

Recovery IS possible. Remember that, too. Until next time, my friends. ❤ ❤ ❤


Stay safe.



Voyage of #RecoveryHome

Today’s Prompt ~~ Voyage

It sounds about right to me to think and call Recovery a voyage. As we know, Recovery is not a linear process. It’s a process of ups and downs, of struggles and strength, courage and hopelessness. Yet, it’s one of beauty and hope and happiness and satisfaction, and a tale of victorious survivors. It doesn’t always feel that way for sure, but it’s a magical process to engage in and a journey that is rewarding each step of the way.

Recovery is about managing one’s mental health issues in a positive, effective manner. At least, that’s how I like to define it for myself. Every person’s definition of Recovery is unique to their own journey, much like how broad ‘you’ statements can irritate another person’s readers due to how general it is and consequently if you don’t fit into the portrayed ‘you’ category, how irritating it can be to hear it. Basically, we all have different experiences in our lives that have shaped us to be who we are today, and what may have affected you in X way, may have affected someone else in Y way. It’s like how medications work differently for each person. Symptoms and values and Recovery definitions work the same way.

Any who, that lecture out of the way…


I like to think of the Recovery process as a lighthouse. Because lighthouses are awesome, and also they carry hope, a light streaming through the stormy night. Recovery is a journey, and for this prompt, it is also a voyage. I like to mix my metaphors together at times, and this evening, is one of those times.

I’ve thought of Recovery for myself before as reaching the green hills, to warmer and brighter days ahead.

Recently, I’ve been thinking up some street names for a new, fictional village I’ve manifested in my mind. For instance, I’ve been residing more often on Struggle Lane which is nearby Lapse Circle. Quite a few streets away is Kill Yourself Road (it’s both a Dead End and an OCD contribution to this imaginary place) and Relapse Boulevard.

Today, on the scenic tour through the back roads from my psychiatrist’s appointment (which I brought my Mom in tow for and we stopped for yummy ice cream that had ACTUAL cows in the back fields!!) I thought about what I’ve officially dubbing the:

Recovery Mansion.

It’s a fictional place, or an imaginative place if you will, where my mind can wander to create it. I mean, what style house is it, after all? I know I have two dogs in it, for example because pets are awesome and my parents aren’t open to the idea of having any more dogs. (I do have a hamster now).

I know it’s on a hill and it overlooks the village with the street names down below. There’s also a lighthouse on the property. And there’s an ice cream place in the village, too. And stationary, there’s a shit ton of stationary too. Probably even a store just for cute things. And a Barnes & Noble. And a Paperstore. And Target. That Target Dollar Spot, after all!

I know the front door is painted in the design I have in my mind for my first front door of the house I will one day own. But as for the rest of it, so far, I don’t know.

It will take more thought, and in part, this was inspired from a dream I had earlier this week where I drew this Recovery Home. (And woke up disappointed since it didn’t exist on paper!)

Not only am I mentioning this here, and now, I also want to create some type of blog wide project for it, possibly even in July, where we talk about what our Recovery Homes look like. I’d like for it to be a type of interactive project where we can share our hopes and dreams and our imaginations whether we’re of the creative type or not. If words are your pal, than you can stick to that! If you’d like to dabble in scrapbooking or drawing (whether or not it’s “good” doesn’t matter! It’s YOUR imagination and YOUR vision) or photography, those are all good choices too!

I just think it’d be cool, ya know? I was thinking of creating like a #RecoveryMansion or more simply #RecoveryHome, in fact, I think the latter would be better as it means that’s where our home is, our natural setting, and having a setting of Recovery is welcoming and wonderful. Besides, some people may not like the mansion idea *insert my astonished eye roll here (with all due respect of course! I kid, I kid.)*

So, I’d like to know what you guys think. Would you like to participate in some type of month of July #RecoveryHome? I know of another blogger who did a super awesome Kindness Challenge for 6 weeks that was super awesome and popular. She’s actually inspired me to do similar types of projects in the future. Like, now for instance. Lmao

The challenge can be found here: Kindness Challenge


I am also thinking of doing a Positive Messages Project in the month of August. You may recall that I create little positive messages out of shredded pieces of paper, color them in a pattern or a small drawing, write an inspiring phrase on it (sometimes song lyrics from songs that inspire me) and sign it as (“2016”). Well, I’d like to bring that project into other spaces of the world, for anyone who is confident and daring and wants to brighten other people’s day to those around them even just a smidge. You do get some rejections, for different reasons I’m guessing, but more often than not, people are kind and considerate about receiving a positive message. 🙂 That is a project thought that is still under some construction as well, hehe.


For now though, I am curious if anyone else is curious about this #RecoveryHome idea. :3 Do leave me your thoughts, whether you’re a fellow blogger or a fellow free spirited reader who has magically happened across this blog. I hope I can hear from some of you about the idea, and I’ll try and make my rounds to get to your guys’ posts as of the last couple of weeks. ❤ Share the love and all that jazz. 🙂


Take care and stay safe. ❤

Teachable Moment #1 | Art Therapy Series

*imagine this said in a low voice* Why hello there, friends.

Welcome to the latest edition of Recovery to Wellness’ awesomeness featuring teachable moments everrrrr! *applause is heard from the back of the theater*

This is the first of many teachable moment posts that I’ll be sharing with you all here on this lovely blog front of ours. 😀 This is also about two weeks later than I said I’d have it up so hooray to finally being here right now!!

Today’s teachable moment comes in the form of art therapy. I just added to the title–SERIES! Because this series will feature all the art therapy work I did in my second hospitalization at WWL. What that stands for, you’ll never know! Unless you read my DA posts, buahahaha. It’s just an acronym for the place I was at 😉

Any who, there was a lot of art therapy done during my second hospitalization and the aim of this series will be to share what I made and what value it had for me then as well as to now. 🙂 I’m hopeful that this process of sharing my experiences and my notes and my artwork will remind you of how recovery IS a journey and IS a process and I didn’t wind up where I am now in recovery out of the blue. It took time and it STILL takes time. And that’s okay. I’ll also share some of those ideas I mentioned cooking in my last post in the NEXT post. All of the foreshadowing, buahaha!


Any who, let’s get down to the meat of it!!! Here is our first art therapy teachable moment, (which is super fitting for how we get started on the road to recovery):


What is ‘Recovery’ and what is ‘Wellness’? Two VERY good questions for the name of this blog!

The prompt we had for this piece was defining (on one side) what recovery and wellness meant to us. And on the other side of the paper, to create what was blocking us from achieving that wellness or that recovery and how we can work through that wall.

So, at this point in time, on March 11 2015, I described my definition of Recovery as:

“Living alongside mental illness. Not letting OCD or depression overtake me.”

If I take a moment NOW, June 24th 2016, to define Recovery I would say:

“Recovery is living alongside mental health issues. It’s about dreaming big and not letting the OCD overtake me, and instead telling it to fuck off and punch it in the face for trying to. It means taking back my life and working towards a better tomorrow. (And trusting in that process).”

Overall, both are pretty similar. I don’t really like the term ‘mental illness’ personally, so I tend to say ‘mental health issues’ nowadays, myself. Everybody has different terminology they’re okay with, just like we all have different positive coping mechanisms that work for us or different definitions of recovery. Maybe someone’s definition of recovery is learning to manage their depression and take mental health days when they are struggling more. Or maybe someone’s definition is that they don’t think recovery truly exists and haven’t found what they’re working towards yet. It’s all different.

It’s actually pretty neat that I used the term ‘living alongside’ back in 2015. That, later on, became a huge part of my recovery definition and what I strived for. Not so much eradicating the OCD or the depression, just striving to live alongside it, side by side. Or me in the front mostly with them tagging behind. I’m sure there’s some dance involved.

I also think my current definition of Recovery is a work in progress. It’s something that if I truly thought about more, I could change and add more phrases to it or edit out other ones. That is a good project for me for the future with those ideas I’m cooking up all nice and tenderly. 😉

Question time: What is YOUR definition of recovery? Or, if you don’t have mental health issues, what is your definition of a happy, fulfilled life?

Back in 2015 I described Wellness as:


Taking life as it comes.

Falling down and standing taller again

Having hope and happiness


Having support and socializing.

In 2016 I would describe Wellness as….

Wellness is being capable of managing mental health issues in a positive and effective manner. It means balancing the good days with the tough days, and recognizing that both can exist and both will fade away in time. I like the idea of wellness having hope and happiness and positivity, too.

It’s interesting to see I wrote ‘stability’ there, as that’s a value I strive for but have yet to properly attain or balance out. I hope you guys find this interesting, too!!

Question Time: How do you define wellness/health in your life?

Now, onto the other side!


In 2015, my wall to Recovery involved this:

The cyclic nature of the OCD, some bricks of OCD repetitively mentioned, a brick of intrusive/obsessive thoughts and images, the Depression Dude, the haze of depression blocking out the sun, and two text boxes saying:

No to coping. Let the crisis come. Immobile. Don’t cope. Don’t listen to true self.

In response to these last two boxes, I wrote how I could get through those bricks by:

Choosing to cope, acting on thoughts in line WITH my values. That thoughts are just thoughts. I control my actions. I can choose to be kind to myself, to care for me, and to work on overcoming these cyclic darkness’.

“Cope Now”

The very interesting thing about looking back on this first teachable moment, is that I’m finding so much of what is the foundation of my recovery journey, here, in these little snippets of hope and words. It will likely take time for your recovery journey to fly into the heavens, however, I encourage you to look out for the signs of when your adding to your recovery journey and pulling away from the depression or the OCD or the schizophrenia or whatever it is that ails you. It’s so often in life that the big scale movements we manage, began with small scale seedlings dropped here and there months prior. That’s at least, what I’m learning and what I hope you are also seeing from this post thus far.

For instance, I recognized a year ago that I controlled my own actions. That I was making a choice between coping positively or coping negatively. Was that easy? Fuck no. Yet, it’s crucial. When I was at the OCD-I, I was reminded that I always have a choice. Even now, when I’m residing on Struggle Lane, I recognize on some level that I have a choice. It’s my choice whether I choose to act on an OCD thought or choose to act in line with my recovery. Choices are decisions about to be made, and then acted upon. This morning I was contemplating choosing the OCD over my recovery. Now? It’s the opposite. Things change.

I also like that I spoke about self-love here, too. I was telling my therapist yesterday how I got a tough question at my last NAMI presentation on an inpatient unit from someone who was struggling to see why they had to stop cutting because it wasn’t hurting anyone else and was seemingly helping them. I explained a couple of times that in my own recovery, I had questioned that too, but came upon the idea that I didn’t have to choose laying more physical pain over my emotional pain. Instead, I wanted to care for myself and give myself love and kindness rather than hate and spite.

And for the “Cope Now” part, I still use that to this day. Back when I was really struggling in 2015, I had a habit of telling myself I’d cope LATER and act on a thought now. Definitely it needed to be the other way around!! So once when I went to a crisis appointment at school, the therapist there suggested I make some kind of phone notification to tell me to ‘Cope Now’. From then on, ‘Cope NOW’ became my 4:00p reminder. It still is, now.

I even added a ‘Cope NOW’ to 12:00p over this past spring, probably even in May, when I had more free time and needed the reminder. So, that’s still something I use in my recovery even to this day.

The next bit in purple reads:

“I can clear the sky by voluntary movement. I can’t control my thoughts and that’s okay because I don’t need to. I can choose to step back from the ledge and tell someone and cope. ‘My’ OCD, ‘My’ depression will not control me. I am more than their abstract powers.”

So much for them not controlling me with all that MY ownership flinging around! Lmao. I didn’t know better, yet. 😉

It is true though, voluntary movement, my actions, those are things I can control. If I don’t like where the OCD is heading in my brain, with its chatterbox of a mouth mucking around in my brain meninges, than I can change the story line by moving and getting up and doing something else. The OCD may control my brain, yet I control my movement. I mean, technically the brain controls that too but for the metaphor, man, for the metaphor!

Trying to control your thoughts is like trying to catch smoke. Actually, that reminds me of something I was told once in my third hospitalization and subsequent partial. Because you can’t catch smoke, it’s important to write the thoughts down on paper, so when you go back to your treatment provider, you can share with them those raw unfiltered thoughts and come up with come-backs to the thoughts to utilize for the next time the thoughts come back up.

A person’s thoughts are plainly just thoughts. Just as easily as you can think up OCD’s worst case scenarios, you can create five-eyed creatures or unicorns shitting rainbows. Of course, with OCD, the problem is getting stuck in those loops of thoughts and thinking that if you can just (sorry for the ‘you’ statement) stop the thought or stop the anxiety than everything would be all right.

But, you can’t stop your thoughts. And the more you try to, the more unpleasant your experience will become. Because the problem is NOT the thoughts, it’s the compulsions, the behavior either mental or physical that you’re engaging in to combat the anxiety created by those thoughts. That’s where exposure and response prevention treatment comes into play.

You have to confront your worst fears (gradually, of course) without doing the compulsions so that you can learn that the anxiety will naturally come down on its own and, really, you don’t have to act on any thought to make it end.

That’s what was so liberating in my experience at the OCD-I. That despite whatever emotion or thought I was feeling, I did not HAVE to act on those thoughts. I could just do whatever the hell it is I wanted. That’s awesome!

Again, easy? Fuck no. Worth it? Fuck yes.


One of the things I can tell from this art therapy is that I was way ahead from the get-go with my treatment and recovery journey. I’m lucky that when the OCD truly formed and could be seen as OCD from the outside, that I got help for it right away and even with ups and downs I was getting help for it all along. I didn’t always choose the right behaviors, I didn’t always look out for myself in a good way, but I was in treatment through the worst of it. I was asking for help through the worst of it. I was GETTING help through the worst of it.

I can’t relate to people who have suffered from their OCD for years before getting treatment, as I began my treatment when the OCD really kicked up a few notches. Maybe, just maybe, that explains the losses and gains I’ve made in my journey thus far.

The last box reads as such:

“I challenge myself to take this into account and recognize when I am appropriately doing so. It’s why I’m still here.”

I think that last statement is still really important. Just as I’ve been told in my experiences before, there must have been some part of me that wanted to live otherwise I wouldn’t still be alive.

It’s one thing to cope effectively and another to give yourself the appropriate credit for doing so.

For now, I’d like to say: Damn, Raquel, you’re doing one hell of a good job. This shit isn’t easy and you’ve seen that come and pass. Just remember that feelings are temporary and there are people out there who support you and who want you to get better. They’re only one phone call away, when you need them.

Remind yourself of what you have to live for. Become your inner tree soul and root yourself to the ground. I use that technique even now. If I plan to give a speech on X future day, that means I’ve got to be alive to be there for that speech. That means no acting on thoughts of suicide between now and then.

If I’ve made it a week clean from scratching myself, and have someone to answer to who will ask about it, then that means I have to stay clean until I can tell them I made it X amount of time. And so on and so forth.


So, look, this post has gotten long. I hope you’ve stayed in with your brains intact throughout it. I hope it’s been helpful of some kind to you. I’d love to hear your feedback on structuring these out in the future and how helpful this was for you.

My goal for these is to plant the seedling in your brains, too, like it was planted in mine. Or, even if it’s just popping a seedling down on your plot of soil, the little thing resting on the top for a while, well, that’s a success to me, too. Again, a lot of these will be directed at OCD sufferers most, yet you can stretch out some general concepts to apply to other issues, mental health or otherwise.

Also, these are just my experiences and I’m not a mental health professional *cough yet cough*. If anything, you can raise your questions to your own treatment team and speak it out with them, god knows I’ve done that enough times from my explorations on the Interwebs. 😉


Hope you enjoyed!! Until the next post….which may happen soon as well! 🙂 (this was my ‘break’ after all).


Stay safe and recover faster! 😉 XD


Coloring Fun!

At last, it is here!!!! The coloring fun transformation!!!!

Here is the two page spreaddddd final product!!




Catching the shine of the pearlescent watercolor of the background!! 😀

Watch le transformation in this slideshow!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And again, here are the closer up images of each side:


Shiny left!


Dated right! 😀

This whole thing took me these many days to complete:

June 6th–11th & June 19th. 2016

ALSO! I did ANOTHER coloring page that I mentioned to you guys this week, and here is how that bugger came out!


Marp! Here it is!


Picking up the shine.


A more angled capture of the shine and the bird.

This one took two days, June 20th and 22nd! 😀

I used mixed media here as well, watercolor and pearlescent watercolor, pens, marker pens and a white gel pen.

For the prior coloring page I used watercolor, pearlescent watercolor, pens, and I think that’s it! 🙂

I’ve now completed about 3 works in the “Enchanted Forest” coloring book, alongside the three I’ve completed in the “Secret Garden” one. 😀 Those ones, though, I’ll have to upload for you all another time. 🙂


Here’s what that fancy lantern looks like:


Today I have scheduled some scrapbooking, a potential photo shoot, some reading and some blogging it up to do! 🙂

I’ve also been cooking up an idea for a project I want to share with you all here, so tune in for that later today! I may be able to write about that in the daily prompt today. 🙂


For now, it’s break time for me! Hope you enjoyed this colorful flare!! 🙂

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Stay safe!