**Trigger Warning**: Discussion of Self-harm
I’ve been on Twitter today, if you follow me there (@RecoveryRaquel), so you may know where this post is coming from but I just felt so floored by this revelation that I had to process it somewhere and maybe part of me is trying to self-soothe with a blog post too and actually more importantly to distract myself from what’s upsetting me at the moment (which is largely not being able to focus to read a book and then beyond that the growing pile of books I have to read, sigh).
But all of this started yesterday.
My friend Vanessa at program during the DBT lecture group where we were returning to discussing interpersonal effectiveness skills (and of which I just got two new [SCENTED] Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty (orangesicle and chocolatta, suuuuuuper good!!) so I was more focused on that then what I felt was a boring group lmao) asked about what do we do when we have to tell staff that we’re going to miss program (for whatever reason). This additionally translated into taking time off from program which also meant vacations.
And I sat there and I thought,
Damn, I’d like to take a vacation from program. What would I do if I took a week off?
And largely I think I’d probably just read and write and Deep Dive (which would be less than productive or good, which is also what I’m managing to avoid by writing this now which is better) and browse Twitter and do artwork and things to that effect. It probably wouldn’t be all that much, to be honest.
And now it’s really, really worming its way into my skull.
Like the last last Friday I had a really bad headache when I woke up so I went into program at lunch (noon) versus 9a. Then last Friday I just woke up significantly late and got there at 11:30a.
And it’s a problem because I can’t make it become a pattern but now I’m just really realizing that I’ve been going to program for a little over a year now and that’s a 3 day a week commitment that…maybe I don’t have to do. But I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried anything–like take a week off, go somewhere else, get a job, juggle school, etc.
Maybe it’s on my mind more now because June (my family therapist) has been asking me what the next steps are from after program. Maybe it’s because I’ve needed to find a job now that I’m done with school. Maybe having school before was more out of limbo than where I’m at now.
I don’t know, not for sure. But it got me thinking of vacations.
And I was thinking about it even today when I couldn’t get my eyes and my mind to read my book that when was the last time I took a vacation?
I know it was Florida, and while I was sunbathing this morning out on the sunny porch, I remembered that it had come out in August when I went with my Mom there and there were more islands (turns out, spoiler, it was Fort Myers) and I remember noting the difference between fancy hotels and hospitals, so then I thought it was 2017 and then maybe even 2016. But 2016 didn’t make sense because I was out of the hospital for 9 months. So then I was confused.
I remembered that the night my Mom and I got there it was about 11p and it was raining and we accidentally went over this very tall, intimidating and triggering bridge with the water underneath it and I got incredibly upset. I was crying and incoherent (I realized if I had lived there all the time this would have been the place I’d attempt to end my life) and we got into the hotel and the bedroom and I curled up on a ball and rocked back and forth for 20 mins listening to Colbie Calliot’s “Brighter than the Sun” which I’ll link here:
Once I cried, I felt better but it was still such a pronounced shock of what life was like pre-mental health conditions and post-mental health conditions.
I knew I had taken photos of some of my time there, and I KNOW I have uploaded them SOMEWHERE (but where I can’t seem to find, sadly), so a few minutes ago I was like, what about that vacation thingy again? after I was ordering my next Tools4Wisdom planner on Amazon, browsing other sites and shops for journals after I finished doing today’s work of job applications and browsing through ads.
So, I went on my deviantART and didn’t find it there, tried searching my blog with the term “vacation” but also didn’t find it, so then I went digging through my folder files and I found it.
My last vacation was almost 4 years ago (in August).
I mean, I really don’t have an interest in traveling, it’s never been one of my dreams, but damn. I didn’t realize it had been THAT long ago. And it bothers me a lot.
Maybe more because I know I can’t go on vacation now, not so soon, not yet.
And then that’s when I find myself in a love and hate relationship with program. Because program is limiting me while it’s making me limitless. Having such a powerful support system when I need it (and yes, I haven’t often been needing it which is a whole other discussion, to be honest) rivals against my living my life and furthering my career and doing what’s best for me rather than just what’s comfortable.
Which in turn reminds me of what IS limiting me: my mental health.
I don’t drive much because I’m scared of getting in a car accident, someone getting killed and the like.
Then in turn,
(if) when I get a job I’m going to have to drive to more unfamiliar places (until it becomes familiar) which is something I’ve ACTIVELY avoided for years. But it’s how I’m gonna have to live so I can earn some money, pay bills, further my life and everything.
In fact, I finished editing my resume yesterday and started to apply to some jobs. I got a phone call today about an interview for one of them, which is awesome (it’s on Th). But it’s a little farther away than I realized when applying but it’s also just part-time like 10 hours a week so that’s not bad at all. I am excited for it!
But back to my many emotions: I hate that I can’t look for jobs that will further my career because I can’t earn more than $2k or else my state insurance will be dropped and then I won’t be eligible for program. And without program… I don’t know who I am. Or what I am. Or what to do.
June has been saying that I over-distract myself with blogging, reading, reviewing, art, etc. And it’s true. I know I’ve been over-distracting myself for a year to avoid situations like these where I’m confronted with all of my many emotions that apparently have just been lying dormant over the last year with my increased recovery time and stability factors. Because I’ve created such a baseline of stability as my new normal I forget at times of my medical history (specifically of course the psychiatric portions). I think not only do I sometimes put others on a pedestal, I think I’ve been putting MYSELF on a pedestal.
Which I was rudely knocked off of Monday evening when I’ve been encountering a new problem since 2-3 months ago: I complete my diary card every night when I’m alone in my bedroom around 9 or 10p (which tracks my moods and behaviors). Upon doing this, I’m reminded now that if I hadn’t pulled (my hair) during the day, and my diary card asks about my pulling, that I’m reminded “Ah, yes, I do do that! I should do it now!” Or just the reference of it when I can’t sleep a few minutes later makes the idea more upfront and tangible where I think if it weren’t on my radar at all, would have made the behavior obsolete or at least not as “go-to”.
Which, of course, was exactly what happened to me on Monday when it came to the self-harm.
Part of the issue I’ve had with my self-harm is that I’m very much a “monkey see, monkey do” person.
When I was first hospitalized way back four years ago actually, I saw another client with self-harm marks and it reminded me that I could also do that. Which probably isn’t the best.
So sometime last year when I started at my day program, I saw another individual pick at their scalp and have scabs over it (although they often wear a hat to hide it) but sometimes they would pick at it during group and I would see it.
Which then led me to adapting that behavior too.
I think that’s what I REALLY hate about recovery: mental health conditions don’t have an end date. They don’t come with “cures” or time limits or death dates. They just continue and linger, or hide under the surface, or have half-lives and form and reshape and turn into other things.
They’re persistent. They grow and change and adapt. Sometimes a little too well.
So over the last year I’ve had to come face to face with several notions:
- I have not scratched myself probably for almost 2 years
- Minus one time I cut myself but that was almost a year ago and was an isolated incident
- I finally accepted that my lip biting was a problem (self-harm if I bleed; anxiety/OCD behavior otherwise)
- I finally accepted how my hair pulling can be self-harm and it grew more into a problem (when I decimate my entire brow into nothingness)
- I accepted that I have an Internet addiction (more predominantly Youtube, or maybe that’s still some denial lol)
- I accepted that I over-distract to the point, and this is probably important to define, that it’s UNHEALTHY. That I’m using it to AVOID everything (like jobs and moving forwards and things to that effect (the roles of adulting as it were) or when I watch Youtube when I eat my meals because I’m afraid of being alone with my thoughts/ruminations (which don’t happen as often anymore minus Monday))
- About 2-3 months ago I started to pick at the dry skin inside my ear canal and am keeping the skin in a plastic baggie for what purpose I have no idea other than it looks cool and I could maybe get a diagnosis out of it if I went to the doctor (I actually have two bags, even. :/) But only once has it been self-harm (bleeding about a week ago) Largely an OCD behavior
- Scalp picking. This has been newer and transient. But when I bleed, when I really go into it, that’s self-harm. Like it was on Monday night.
- (Self-harm Trigger Warning) There are peculiarities that I’ve run into as well: I like the smell/taste of blood, I like the feeling of pulling out a scab/dry skin, I like collecting the scabs/skin, if I have urges during the day I wait until it’s nightfall and I’m alone to pick/pull, I don’t like the pain during the picking but I appreciate the dull ache afterwards
- I’ve been segmenting myself into parts and time spaces rather than as a collective whole: I clamp off my memories from childhood, high school, college, psychiatric, etc. I make it a rule of mine and a designated point not to review old memories, thoughts, feelings, etc. In an effort to not trigger myself into realms of self-sabotage or because I’m afraid of what happens when I do (which has been rarer these days).
- I can kinda remember time before mental health conditions (normalcy) and time after mental health conditions (in normalcy I could achieve anything; in post-MHC’s I can still achieve anything and it’s even more impressive)
- I still struggle with acceptance portions and identifying as the diagnoses. Like I don’t believe I have “full” BPD rather traits/tendencies of it. Then again, I also didn’t think I had any OCD left but that’s not the case either (the intrusive thoughts/images, compulsive behavior like pulling/picking, etc.)
- I’m a stickler for correct/accurate terminology versus slang/inappropriate language (“died by suicide/took their own life” vs. “committed suicide”) to the point where I’ll be triggered and irritable if used inappropriately
- I came to realize some other unhealthy relationships with people (just Luna, actually) that I had to cut ties with and move on from too
- I think I struggle with knowing when to get support from something versus when re-exposing myself is detrimental and triggering all over again (which had never happened before with my recovery)
- I don’t have to give ALL the details to something, I can break it up into smaller, more concise bits (clearly have a problem with that lol *points to length of this blog post*)
- I struggle with thinking I have to handle everything by myself when I’m struggling/not doing so hot because I’ve been able to do REALLY WELL for a long time
- I struggle with understanding when something is just a boundary (not going back in my memories) versus avoidance/over-distracting (I will also note here that June has said that my activities are good and necessary and everything, it’s merely a problem when I’m using them to avoid and escape reality)
- I still have access to my past history (as I am a whole person, not just who I present as today) and largely the glorification I have regarding self-harm/suicide. Especially details
- I have a problem with taking LEAPS instead of small steps (which I’m aware I’m already doing with jobs and everything now)
Well, I feel I went off track there for a bit!
But I guess this is all just to say that I probably have new things to talk about in therapy and some direction with program moving forwards.
Back to vacations… I’d like to take one. Maybe even if it’s not official or maybe after I have a solid job for a while or maybe just a week off of program. Maybe I can just go drive somewhere new within reason and spend the day out. I don’t know. Something though. Because it’s been a long time, and maybe I need to push myself a little more than where I’ve been resting in my nest.
Maybe I can do a pros/cons of it actually. And read books and watch movies and eat food and write blog posts and fanfic and so many things to dooooo.
But I’m gonna go for now. I’ll bring up these issues tomorrow at program. I guess I just have to get back into the grind of what’s actually happening right now versus jumping ahead so much. I’m even a little tired now.
Welp, that’s it from me.
I guess I’ll see you next time? I hope so.
I guess like life there is no official conclusion to this post, just more things to think about.
Thank you for reading.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤