IOOV UMB Prep Work #2:
My name is Raquel Lyons and I’m a 23 year old Psychology major, one credit away from being a senior at this university. I’ll be graduating next fall semester.
I am an avid artist–anything from scrapbooking, drawing, watercoloring, painting, creative writing and photography.
Speaking of Photography, I’m also President of the Photography Club on campus and we are thriving in activity this semester–which is awesome!
I am also a paid writer for the Mass Media this semester, which is our school newspaper, by the way.
I also just love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fan fiction (including writing some of my own) and I’d love to dress up as Loki for Halloween this year–it’s my third year of wanting to!
I’m currently taking three courses this semester: evolutionary biology, psychological trauma and a drawing class. I come to school MWF, commuting from about an hour away. I have a Chinese dwarf hamster named Nova and a passion for blogging!
And, my soul is totally the color of the rainbow with sparkles and a bright white light that causes traffic accidents worldwide 😀
- Age. Major. Year.
- Photography Club President
- Paid writer for Mass Media
- Loki for Halloween
- Classes this semester
- Color of my soul
My dark days lasted from December 2014 to March 2015. Even though they were the times I struggled dearly, they also began my recovery journey.
You see, in fall 2014 I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions.
By the winter break I was diagnosed with secondary depression. I still recall the moment the depression came over my eyes–it brought with it the sense of desperation so strong that suicide became a logical, reasonable answer to end my life.
I was then consumed by compulsions and obsessive and depressive thoughts about self-harm and suicide. I made multiple suicide plans over the course of my dark days, and just six days after the onset of the depression, I tried to kill myself for the first time on campus.
Fast forward to spring 2015. I was just like any of you–a student, a friend, a fellow classmate–except that I was actively suicidal. I didn’t show up to many of my classes because I would be too busy trying to kill myself in the bathroom twenty feet down the hall, or scratching myself when I didn’t believe my own emotional pain was serious, or because the moment I stopped moving, I wouldn’t move for several hours.
I thought that the worst it got was in March 2015 when I was picked up by ambulance from the counseling center after revealing my dire suicidality and volunteering over my acquired suicide method.
However, while that experience DOES stick out in my mind, those dark days are farther behind me.
My most recent dark day happened last Wednesday. I took an overdose in the morning. My brain told me that it wasn’t considered a suicide attempt if I was only trying to find relief.
The day before I had expressed dismay as to why I had been given the OCD. It isn’t my fault that I deal with it and I certainly never asked for it, so why was I dealing with it?
I just wanted to find relief. I was tired of living with the OCD, and part of me wanted to die. I knew that I could act on my thoughts even if I didn’t entirely want to act on them. I felt that I didn’t want to live a life with the OCD and be in pain anymore. I had reached my limit and I was done, and I was ready to give into the plans upon plans of suicide my brain repeatedly kept informing me about, against my will.
- December 2014 to March 2015: Dark Days duration
- Fall 2014 diagnosis
- Winter break depression
- Moment depression began: hopelessness, nothing would ever work, nothing was working
- Constant thoughts/obsessions on suicide and self-harm.
- I tried to kill myself on campus
- Spring 2015. Good paragraph, read this bit. Like any other student but actively suicidal and actively scratching myself in nearby areas
- Missing classes due to not being able to move
- March 2015 picked up by ambulance from counseling center
- Memory sticks out but most recent suicidality day deserves to be mentioned
- Last Wednesday
- Overdose, only “relief” seeking
- Why do I have OCD?
- Tired of living with the OCD. Wanting to have relief. Not wanting to live with the thoughts about suicide any longer. Could act on them even if didn’t want to.
For me, acceptance is an ongoing process.
I’ve come to accept that the OCD is something that I will live with for the rest of my life. I don’t tend to think about it like that too often though, as it tends to bring up thoughts of suicide and desperation for me.
I have also come to accept that in the future if I become unsafe, I may need to go in for another hospitalization. I’m trying to think of it now as what a person with say, diabetes, might need to do if their blood sugar levels get whacky. And really, it’s no different.
One of the biggest factors I’ve stumbled across only now in my recovery is the stigma related to OCD and self-harm/suicide. I’ve heard more stigmatizing comments this year than I ever recognized before. I’ve heard people around me say:
“I just killed myself studying”
“The weather has been so bipolar”
“(about one of my positive coping strategies) Isn’t that a bit childish?”
“Those balloons are soooo OCD”
“(speaking about people inpatient units) They’re “crazy””
“Insert any type of suicide joke here” and so forth.
The heaviest material that I will bring forward now is also what my first reaction tends to be: It makes me want to kill myself. Hearing stigma makes me not want to live on this planet anymore, because there are people out in the world who belittle and make my struggles the punchline of some ignorant joke. I’m still waiting for someone to make an OCD joke around me just so I can bring up how funny suicide “supposedly” is to them. I can’t wait to deadpan that so hard.
On lighter material though, it makes me extremely angry. I’ve since been using that anger to propel me forwards into positive action: such as writing articles about mental health in the school newspaper. Such as becoming a mental health blogger and sharing my story. Such as bringing it up in conversation with the individuals, highlighting their new awareness of the words they use and how they may be directly or indirectly affecting those around them.
Besides stigma though, I find people have been very, very accepting and understanding of my mental health issues.
I’ve become a VERY open book about it. I’m so open now, I tend to joke that I’m just loose leaf. If someone is friends with me, and sometimes if they’re a stranger, and they ask me how I’m doing, I don’t tend to hold back. If I’m feeling like crap that day, I’ll be the first to tell them that. Honesty is a huge factor in my recovery journey, and something I hold quite dear.
Other than that, I also do my best in my full time job of punching the OCD in the face–because it’s fun! 😀
Does anyone have any questions?
- Ongoing process
- Living with OCD for life
- Don’t think about too much
- Treat mental health issues like diabetes, may require a check-up (hospitalization) again in the future
- Stigma heard on campus
- How stigma affects me (suicidality)
- Writing for Mass Media
- Blogging about mental health (recoverytowellness.wordpress.com)
- People very accepting
- Punching OCD in the face
So, I was actually diagnosed with OCD at the Counseling Center in fall 2014, literally two years ago. At the time I was seeing a graduate student there.
In February 2015 I transitioned over to my current therapist who I saw twice a week for a year before dropping down to once a week.
I’m on two medications, one for the depression and one for the OCD. I recently went up on the one for the OCD as I was having more difficulties. Medication for me has played an important role in allowing me to do the behavioral work I need to do in therapy, and to help me cope with what I live with.
When I was suicidal last week, I was open to a random stranger who happened across me, and advocated for myself in asking them to walk me to the counseling center. For me, it’s always been that if I can’t ask for help directly (going to the counseling center) that I get help indirectly (telling someone else who will then bring me there).
I’ve learned DBT (describe) skills which are grounding techniques in the present moment, mindfulness (describe) and have used exposure therapy. The exposure therapy (describe) was tailored to me while I was at the OCD Institute for 5 weeks in November 2015.
I’ve also had four hospitalizations, my most recent being on September 16th this year, to keep myself safe.
I feel now that I’m at a different place in recovery than I was back over the summer, which isn’t the greatest of feelings but I’m hoping with time I’ll get stronger again and return to punching the crap out of the OCD (and radiating my badassery).
- Counseling Center diagnosis
- Therapist 2x/wk to 1x/wk
- Indirectly getting help
- DBT (describe)
- Mindfulness (describe)
- Exposure therapy (describe)
- Four hospitalizations (+ recent one)
- Different place in recovery, sigh.
- Radiate badassery
One of the positive coping skills I use I have dubbed Ink On Skin or IOS. This is where I draw on myself with pen (or watercolors) images, words, song lyrics or just have some fun coloring. I’ve used scented gel pens before which were particularly snazzy as they were glittery and I would get the smell of oranges wafted into my nose as I did the piece. I’m good with the smell of ink though, too.
Another coping skill I use is talking to people. Whether that’s Craig Bidiman on campus (CC-3-3407), my therapist, a suicide prevention hotline, or the counseling center, I try to keep myself open to resources around me and utilizing them, especially as of recent. When I feel I don’t particularly want to open up, I know that’s one warning sign for me and that I need to open up regardless. It helps me by allowing others to know where I’m at and their help in acknowledging my pain and validating it.
Another skill I’ve been using has been to listen to my CL;MA playlist. These are songs that are related to recovery and suicide prevention and by listening to them more often in the past week I’ve been regaining my strength in this battle against my brain and living the life I want to live.
Other positive song lyrics that have helped me include:
“There’s more life left to go”
“I believe that you’re gonna be all right, I believe that I’m gonna be all right, I believe that we’re gonna be all right”
“You matter more than all the stars in the sky”
“It gets better in mind please just keep that in mind, don’t break more inside”
“The sun is rising, the night can only last for so long”
- Reaching out to people
- Hotline, Craig, friends, counseling center
- Song lyrics examples
Successes, Hopes & Dreams
Some of my successes, hopes and dreams include:
When I buy my first house, I want to paint my front door a dark green and create a pastel yellow, pink and green iris on the front of it. I also want to create some cool quotes and other uniquely positive and inspiring doors throughout the rest of my house. And to have a snazzy mailbox.
I also want to incorporate this idea I crafted over the summer about a #RecoveryHome and utilize that imaginative place through artwork and physical objects in this world and incorporate that more into my life and my future home.
Blogging has been additionally helpful for me and I want to continue doing that as it helps me to reach out to other people struggling with mental health issues as well as offering my story with the world. In fact, sharing my story at all has been a huge help. Such as doing these IOOV presentations, which I’d seen my first one when I was on your side, sitting as a student in an abnormal psychology class. It really had inspired me and gave me some hope to hold onto when I headed into my dark days.
I want to graduate next year, go on for my master’s to become an LCSW and do a TEDtalk about my recovery and mental health experiences.
I create fabulous artwork, and I like making positive messages for people and giving them out. The most I gave out in a month this year was 69.
I hope to inspire others on sharing their own stories and by working with NAMI thus far, I’ve come to establish a sense of purpose in my life. Lastly, when you go to the store and you see all those different types of socks–big ones, small ones, plaid ones, bright neon ones, polka dots, and more…just remember that like that plethora of socks options, there are many options in life as well.
- Front door
- IOOV Inspiration
- Positive Messages
- Options in life
Hey guys! I’m super exhausted, I had an 8am IOOV Presentation today at UMB (my first time at my school!!) in which I had to get up at 5am to make so I’m pretty bleary eyed and zombie brained at the moment. I’ve got the OCD support group tonight and a biology assignment I have to make up shortly so I have to gather my strength and keep going. I figured I’d share what was my guiding material from the presentation today 🙂 Enjoy!
Stay safe and awesome peeps!