Summer Sanity | Article

This is my second article for the first issue of the Mass Media coming out within the first few days of this new fall semester. I’m pre-scheduling a bunch of these articles for the beginning of the semester as they relate in some way or another to suicide prevention awareness month and more posts will be featured this month about it, too. 🙂

You will be able to find these articles through my Navigation system down below and in the title as I will have them say ‘Article’, as well.

I have 8 from the spring 2016 semester, if you’re interested in seeing where we started out from.

Enjoy!!! (Also, let me just preface this by saying ALL of your friendship, follows, likes, comments and support has been MASSIVE and so wonderful over the time I’ve been blogging for. Keep that in mind when you guys see that awfully short sentence shouting you out, because really, it’s a BIG hot air balloon in actuality. Sending you guys hugs!!!!)

By Raquel Lyons

As daunting as a blank page is to fill with words, summer and winter breaks from school when dealing with a mental health issue can be intimidating. It’s a common theme in the mental health world that unstructured time is the enemy. And when facing three months of that unstructured time for a summer break, well, that can get stressful pretty quickly.

The reason why unstructured time is the enemy is because it is unstructured. Large expanses of blank time not set aside for some task absolutely volunteers mental health issues to spring up like daises. Instead of productively writing a Mass Media article in a set block of time, I might wind up wandering through the bookshelves of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder library and spending my time at a metaphorical tea party than doing tasks I’d much rather be doing.

I know for myself, back at the end of May 2016, I was ready to just get into the summer (preferably skipping over finals, but alas, that couldn’t be done). So when I wasn’t studying for my finals, I was searching endlessly for a summer job. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite find one that matched my interests and my utterly blank space of availability. I began to get agitated and annoyed, particularly from facing multiple prospects of uploading my resume only to re-fill out the information contained in that resume into the provided text boxes.

With a heated sigh, I had had enough. It was a Friday and I was feeling particularly spontaneous after searching for some type of writing centered job. I had experience writing for the Mass Media in that semester, and I had experience with being involved in mental health awareness both professionally and personally and I was aggravated that I couldn’t seem to find a job that would allow me to utilize such experiences. Eventually, I came across a website that spoke about mental health blogging, and I was quite interested. The process for applying was a bit tedious, however, and in the bubble of my spontaneity I decided then and there that I would create my own blog.

So, storming off to WordPress I went, and within minutes I had a blog. I didn’t know it then but this would become the absolute key to my summer sanity.

It may not be my job but I do love blogging. And for the summer, it was a necessary and crucial step in maintaining my recovery gains. I was able to spend and dedicate so much time to blogging that I wasn’t making time for the OCD. No longer was I brushed aside to pamper the OCD, rather I was getting the pampering and the OCD was slowly losing power over me in the corners of my mind.

Through my blog I write about mental health and my experiences with it, as I typically do in these articles. I also write for the daily prompts, share my artwork, create some hashtags (shameless self-promotion here: #RecoveryHome), create gift art for my other blogger friends and do book reviews. Some other topics I blog about include teachable moments, alliteration days such as (re)Framing Friday, and general life updates.

(Re)Framing Friday is all about collecting some positive quote images from Google and sharing them in a post, as well as my music and video recommendations of the week, a thoughtful quote and some glimpses into artwork I was up to that week. And teachable moments are about me returning to some of my art therapy assignments or notes from groups from my inpatient days and discussing them with the perspective of then and now.

The book reviews are an added bonus, as I think it helps me and my readers to break away from such heavy themes like mental health and suicide prevention awareness with some lighter topics. Adding book reviews onto my schedule was especially great as my New Year’s Resolution this year was to read ten books. I’ve surpassed that goal since and completely fallen in love with reading once again. I haven’t read as much or gotten out eight books from the library since I was a small child. The thought of unlocking a new book provides me with great exhilaration.

But before I could chronologically obtain the benefits and sanity of my summer, I had a bit of a bump and a roll in my recovery first.

At the end of May, I relapsed exponentially with self-harm–a term I’m using as a blanket term, scratching myself and with the OCD. I wrote a blog post about it actually, titled “Relapse Blvd.” It was there that I began to think of additional street names for my recovery journey–names like Hope Avenue, Lapse Circle, and Kill Yourself Road–a contribution from the OCD of course–which is a dead end by the way. I began to imagine what my Recovery Home would look like–what would be the scenery, where would it be located, what would be in the town surrounding it. I discovered that I liked the concept of my Recovery Home being a large home, think like a mansion, on the top of a hill where there is a town down below. There’s a rainbow lighthouse on the property and a gazebo, as well as some other details I have yet to uncover. There’s a stationary room inside the home because I absolutely love and adore stationary. I jokingly admit that it’s become a reason for me to live. Especially the deals at the Target dollar spot or at Michael’s Arts and Crafts store. But, I digress.

Watering these creative explorations aided me in spending more time thinking about the details of my Recovery Home, to what I wanted to blog about that day, to writing out my book review quotes in my blogging journal.

It effectively made the summer pass by, for which I am grateful.

My first step in response to my relapse was to speak with my therapist about returning to the OCD-Institute for a partial hospitalization to “reboot” myself. I filled out the paperwork and begun the wait, but until then my parents were urging me to stay busy through either work or school. Granted, they said work and school, but I took it as an either/or option.

I wound up enrolling in the psychology statistics course for the second half of the summer. I also kept myself busy every Sunday for two to three hours visiting a local doggy daycare business open to the public for playdates. In those few hours I could get my weekly hold over of petting dogs until I could come by the following Sunday to do the same.

By July I was realizing that the reboot I was searching for was unlikely to occur, especially with taking a summer course over the second part of the summer, which is when the partial would happen. So I let that ship sail and kept telling myself that once I got through X and Y appointments, I could then go inpatient. Then, when those appointments would come and go, I would tell myself once again that the next set would be what I would wait for and then I would go inpatient.

And so, a pattern of coping formed and I wound up making it through the summer without ever getting that additional help.

There were a few other bumps in the road of my recovery process thereafter, but I did my best to maintain my wellness and I think I did a pretty good job of that.

In August, I began my year-long planner that includes the start of the day at six AM until eleven PM. It is a goal oriented planner and so far, I have been enjoying it greatly–even if I miss a few days here and there.

Also in the month of August, I reached my milestone of one hundred followers on my blog. And while I was taking statistics, I barely had any of the OCD getting in my way.

And now, with the coming fall semester I feel quite accomplished for what I got done and got through over the summer break. I have ideas for last minute photography projects and artwork, and of course catching up on writing for my fan fiction story and blogging in general.

I would say for a time of emptiness I managed well in keeping myself together and sane. The next obstacle is to remain level headed through the fall semester. But, I have a lot of plans and ideas for myself, so I am quite excited.

I hope you are also excited for the new semester! Above all, stay safe.
And if you happen to be curious, my blog is recoverytowellness.wordpress.com

Voice From the Darkness | Attempt 6

This is attempt #6 in the four part series of trying to tell my suicidality story for the website, Art is Survival, as well as this blog, and the Mass Media and my DA account. This is for the theme of self-harm/suicide awareness month and is a story I haven’t often told, although now have about 4 times. XD

Attempt 6 is familiar and similar to the previous attempts, but my goal is to show that the unedited, raw, flawed renditions of a piece before it became what it did, finally, nearly a week later.

TRIGGER WARNING This post and series contains EXPLICIT mention of suicidality. Proceed with caution, please.

This part was written on 8/28

I would also like to thank my friend, PoetsHand, for helping me to choose between this piece and piece #7. ❤

I tried to kill myself.

Wait for it.

I tried to kill myself.

There, that’s more accurate.

As someone dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions–by the textbook I never should have acted them.

But, I did.

Even when I was “just” dealing with OCD, I was acting on the obsessions. I thought, maybe if I did what the OCD said, it would go away.

So I sat on a ledge. So I jabbed myself with car keys. So I scratched myself. So I took one pill of an old prescribed painkiller.

But still, the OCD came back. In fact, it came back tenfold worse after I had acted on the thoughts.

I wasn’t trying to hurt myself; I was just trying to find freedom. Everything in my world had turned upside down, I didn’t know what was right or what was wrong anymore and the doubt was getting on my nerves. I was tired of the emotional whirlwinds–spiraling from anxiety to depression to anger to apathy. I just wanted it all to end, to pause for even the simplest of moments. But I didn’t have the “guts” to kill myself.

Until that is, I did.

Secondary depression set in during the time my therapist “Steve” was away, during the winter break. On the night before New Year’s Eve, I felt depression speak up from the shadows. It told me that suicide was my only way out of the hell that was OCD. It told me that there was nothing I could do to make my emotional pain stop. I had tried every possible positive coping strategy for four hours that evening, just so I could get some blissful, sweet sleep.

Yet the sleep never came.

No matter what I did, nothing was working. Nothing would ever work; there was nothing I could do to make the pain stop, and all I wanted was the pain to stop, right?

For six days, I planned my suicide. That was all I thought about: suicide, suicide, suicide, suicide. Details from what I’d wear to where I would do it, to who I could tell to stop myself, to not believing at all that I would even follow through with it. I dreamt of suicide as my release, my freedom. It was my fantasy of releasing me from the hell that I was stuck in. How sweet, no, how beautiful suicide would be to me. I yearned for it even as I read articles upon articles about suicide prevention, trying to convey their warning signs into my daily life.

I wanted my freedom and I wanted it desperately.

I thought, because of the nature of the OCD that I was dealing with, that if I told someone about the thoughts that I was having on suicide, the fixation of it, that they wouldn’t believe me to be a danger to myself. I thought they might just think I was talking about the OCD again and that they’d respond with thoughts are just thoughts.

I thought that I had to prove I was a danger to myself. And the only way I could prove that, my brain said, was to act on my suicidal thoughts. The only way I would prove I was serious about dying from suicide, was if I died by suicide.

I remember the discussion between my brain and myself. I remember it taunting me, telling me if I didn’t ingest the pills, what I was dealing with was “just” OCD. But, if I ingested the pills, then it was something else. So, was it “just” OCD or was it something else?

I remember my own self-awareness that I knew my true self would recognize that ten pills, twenty pills would be a genuine threat to me, and therefore I would step in to prevent myself from acting on my suicidal thoughts. So, I had to trick myself. I had to get myself to ingest some smaller amount.

Suicide had to be better than the hell that I was struggling to breathe in. Breathing was exhausting, moving was exhausting, everything had just become exhausting.

I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t open my damn mouth to let somebody know–anybody! The secondary depression stole my voice, the OCD my will to live. There had to be a way out of that life and the only alternative that was always on my mind, playing like a charred weapon throwing out bullets, was suicide.

However, first I had to convince myself to let go of life. Before I could act on my suicidal thoughts, I had to ask myself permission to kill myself.

I knew the first hour of the OCD telling me to kill myself would be met with a firm no. But after the three hundredth time, then, then I would waver. And then a little more time after that and I’d be considering and I’d finally, finally give myself that sweet, glistening allowance: Okay, I’ll do what you say.

All in the disillusionment that the OCD would give me reprieve if I just did what it said.

This led up to the first time I tried to kill myself on Tuesday, January 6th 2015, when I ingested five pills of that same painkiller from earlier. I walked into 2015 with the promise to myself that I wouldn’t see the end of the year, because I’d be dead.

But, I lacked conviction.

The anxiety about killing myself was still there, so I had to teach myself how to properly dispose of myself. I realized that the more I scratched myself the more my pain increased, so I purposely scratched more to spur on more of the possibility that I would then proceed in killing myself.

But, I never did.

In sharing my story for this piece, someone told me that I couldn’t prove death. That I couldn’t possibly prove I was serious about suicide if I died by suicide and stayed dead. If I stayed dead by suicide I wouldn’t be able to live my life another day. Life just doesn’t work that way.

And, I think that’s the worst part.

The worst part is not in all the action that I did manage–sticking a pen in an electrical outlet, how I tried slitting my wrist on the toilet paper dispenser after I placed a bag over my head for ten seconds, how I skipped class because I was trying to hang myself in the bathroom about ten feet away from the classroom.

The worst part is certainly not lying within the three hospitalizations I had from the end of January 2015 to June 2015.

The worst part is that no matter what I act on it is still not considered “serious”, not really.

Or, maybe more accurately my interpretation of other people’s concerns are twisted and faulted to a significant degree.

Because I don’t feel warm and fuzzy inside when someone tells me that ‘No, you wouldn’t really kill yourself’ or ‘You didn’t really want to die’.

I may not have wanted to die, but I did want the pain to end. And, that really should be enough.

People don’t mean it to be insulting, but it is how I interpret it. They are trying to let me see the potential within me to live, the desire of my true self to live, but in doing so, it feels they disregard the depth of my emotional pain. It feels as though they disregard the depth of what I’m willing to lose to prove that I am serious in my efforts.

Maybe this is why I do not consider myself a suicide attempt survivor. Part of me believes that if I had really been ‘serious’ I would have properly killed myself. It’s as if my two small overdoses don’t even count for anything. The fact that I tried to kill myself, officially twice, but acted on more than that, doesn’t matter.

All of these feelings burn within me a desire to prove myself, to prove the depth of my pain so that it cannot be brushed aside, but to do that I would have to compromise my values, and for what end?

Instead, my price to pay is to live alongside these thoughts with my lack of conviction that allows me to live another day. Instead, I choose life with its possibilities and brighter futures than the damnation of regret that a death by suicide would extend to me.

Because with my second suicide attempt I immediately felt regret. I was filled to the brim of the thoughts: “Oh shit, what did I do? What if I die? I don’t want to die.”

That fear was palpable when I thought I might die, and I found out that the OCD, the depression, everything in my brain had LIED to me.

Suicide wasn’t freedom. Suicide wasn’t relief. Suicide was painful. Suicide was shit. Suicide meant releasing pain onto others and taking away any chance of the future possibilities of life getting better. Suicide meant never seeing some god damn rock formations in the future, not getting to smile again, to laugh, to listen to music, to just feel and be and breathe. Suicide was painful and sickening and meant ending my life just when I realized how much I had to live for.

For six months I had been lied to, and I had believed those lies. And when I found this out, when I found the truth, I was beyond pissed off. I was also disappointed, because now the one thing I had believed in so much wasn’t true, and there was a loss in that.