My Student Identity | Article

By Raquel Lyons

Technically, if you remember my article a little under a year ago, “OCD and Identity”, you will remember that “student” is more of a label than a facet of one’s identity, but to make things simpler, for now I am adopting my wonderful new identity as a student for the three and a half months this semester will last.


What does my student identity comprise of?


First, I have had this first week of school to figure out what works and what will not work according to this new identity change. A nurse I had spoken to for a very long time in my last hospitalization, discussed with me the importance of my job as a student. He described from his own self-disclosure of dealing with anxiety and depression and having once been a procrastinator that making school his number one allowed him to focus extensively on the work he had to do and making sure he did it. He practiced a lot of mindfulness while doing the schoolwork, being present in the moment and not judging the experience for anything beyond “it just is.” By using mindfulness he was able to enjoy the process of schoolwork rather than focusing too much on what the outcome was going to be.


This has inspired me quite a lot as I have already gotten down into the books (so much text!) and have decided for at least the beginning of the semester that I will be hitting the books heavily during the weekdays. My best time to work will be mornings and early afternoons to late afternoons at the most. I definitely have to put away the books by seven pm, as anything after that distracts me from getting to sleep. I also want to have my weekends spotless of any academic work. I do not want to even glance at a textbook over the weekends.


I want to stay on top of my schoolwork and may be even slightly ahead. Now, I’m certain these expectations will change as the semester goes on, so I am aware that I will need to adapt my style to whatever circumstances arise. That will be…interesting to say the least.


Another thing as a student I will be expecting myself to do is attend classes.


I will also need to get enough sleep. This means I have to make my nine pm sleep schedule a priority. So far I have been having trouble staying asleep throughout the night and with less naps to no naps during the day, it is already starting to wear me down. Luckily, I have school only MWF so my TuTh’s are more open.


Hand in hand with sleep is getting enough to eat. Making sure I eat plenty before classes is a must and number one in my proper self-care.


I will also require breaks during all this intense academic work. So far, I’ve experimented and came to find that I cannot take Internet breaks. Otherwise, I just get lost on the Internet and wind up procrastinating. So, instead I will use listening to music and art as breaks, or reading for a different class entirely.


Another motivating factor for me on this new identity is that I want to be able to do the fun things I enjoy. For instance, I still have about nine books out from the library and I absolutely want to read all if not most of them. Having the weekends and evenings open will allow me to do that–plus blogging and vlogging? Gwah, I miss those.


While the nurse had school as his number one priority, I am tweaking that a bit in order to have my health and wellness (physically and emotionally) as my number one priority.


This leads me to my concluding point that all of this identity stuff is founded in ignoring the OCD, the depression, self-harm and suicidality. So far, I have been able–with waning focus–to push aside OCD’s intrusions so as to continue reading. But, in the future, will I be able to do this? I’m not sure.


I know that so far I am extracting a LOT of inner strength in order to keep up with my own demands and expectations. My trepidation is that this will require more strength than I am able to expel. At the same time, my cognitive reframing says that I am stronger than I think and I am stronger than I feel.


Lastly, I need to work on giving myself more credit. Putting this new identity forward is no easy task, and so I need to remind myself that while it may only be the first week, I am a shining badass unicorn!


Stay strong, peeps.

Just wrote this and edited it today, hooray!! It’s up already and now it’ll be up on here! Then it’s time for me to video my first article at least this weekend, hooray!! 😀

Hope it’s good!!

Winter Woes | Article

By Raquel Lyons


I think it is accurate for me to describe about a year ago this semester (i.e. spring 2016) as the written perspective of where I have been in recovery. Then, in the fall 2016 semester, I wrote articles from the perspective of where I am. And now, for spring 2017, I will be writing articles in the perspective of where I am going.


It feels as though not much happened over my winter break, yet, some things are definitely changing. I would like to explore these changes in this article now.


First, finals really kicked my behind. The sudden change from social interaction to what felt like sudden isolation was enough to ruffle my feathers. I certainly put in the majority of my work during that finals week than I had throughout the entire semester (which means I need some serious newly enhanced expectations for this coming semester). But even I had my breaking point. Somewhere within the dark four days of working on finals, procrastinating on finals and then avoiding finals, the feeling of depression came knocking on my doorstep. Once the enemy returned, life just got weird.


I began two weeks of extensive suicidal planning. I had obsessions and compulsions all over the place and read many, many forums about my method of choice. I scratched myself in order to avoid a compression form of self-harm and engaged in a few other self-harm tactics.


In between this happening, I made a YouTube channel. I made videos out of my articles, Ink On Skin videos and a few vlogs. I like the IOS videos as they are creative and have some awesome background music. I use my webcam to film for now, which I am justifying as the best thing to use since it does its job and my camera is too backed up with photos for me to go through and delete them (i.e. it requires more than one step and that’s enough for me to avoid doing it). I came to find that I enjoy the basic level of editing that I do and brainstorming how to create a video out of the words that I’ve written.


In reading out my articles for my YouTube channel, I got a better, more comprehensive understanding of what I’ve been writing about for nearly a year. One of those revelations is that I am awfully repetitive and yet it was with that repetition that inevitably helped me out in the end.


Instead of following through with my plan for suicide, my parents found out about what I was planning from a blog post I had written and confronted me about it. The idea of the hospital came up again, and when I went to see my psychiatrist the following day in January 2017, it was decided upon that because I was already harming myself outside of the hospital that I needed to go back on the inside.


Thus, my sixth hospitalization was born.


The first couple of days I was on the unit I was not behaving with the idea of recovery in mind. In fact, I came onto the unit prepared with methods to hurt myself and in retrospect that was not the nicest of actions. I did advocate for myself and asked for a one-to-one which I received for a half day. A one-to-one is essentially when one of the mental health specialists follows you around and keeps an eye on you. After that I graduated to marking off my own fifteen minute checks on a sheet of paper by the nursing station. And then, over the weekend I was meant to do reverse checks with the staff which meant I initiated the check-ins–which I mainly did when I was not either napping or reading.


The good thing about this breakdown of check-ins is that I was not relying on other people in order for me to feel safe, rather I was learning to trust again that I could keep myself safe. Alongside this theme, was the question posed to me of where the mental health conditions were stemming from for me. The answer to that, as of yet, I am not quite sure. In part, I think it stems from a fear of death. And then suicide became a way of controlling the uncontrollable.


Beyond this, someone I spoke to told me to think of my mental health conditions as a time that has come to pass. That the conditions have served their purpose and now it is time for me to move forwards and let go of them. There was also the mentioning that I am labeling myself as well, which will not be easy things to let go of.


Yet, with time, I think I’ll find my way.

This article was written January 16th 2017. I just finished up my second article and will be uploading that momentarily. I’ll probably make a life update post after my last class, too. 🙂


❤ ❤ ❤