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