About the Author

Expectations for RtW - 2.22.19

Why, hello there!

My name is Raquel and welcome to my Lighthouse! I am a twenty-eight year old who has earned her Psychology (BS) degree from UMass Boston.

I began RecoverytoWellness back in May 2016. Initially because I wanted to write articles about mental health awareness for payment elsewhere on the Web and found it difficult to find such a job. We had just spoken about WordPress in a meeting at the Mass Media, my university’s newspaper of which I wrote my articles for, so I bee-lined it to here and came up with a WordPress account in honor of my deviantART group: “Recovery-to-Wellness”.

I didn’t know it then but I set in motion a path of advocacy, mental health awareness, many, many following social media accounts and a safe place to share my emotions in one of my many creative ways. You see, I am an avid artist. I do creative writing, sketches, water coloring, painting, photography, filming, scrapbooking, graphic design and making beaded bracelets. I LOVE rainbows, rainbow lighthouses (which technically aren’t a thing but in my imagination they totally are!), lighthouses in general, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unicorns, wings, keys, hands (I have some especially nice hand photography, mainly my own, but sometimes other people’s, too!), gazebos, stationery, puppies, music and animals with small hands (like my little Chinese hamsters, Galaxy and Nova!).

Back in June 2017 I got my Labrador retriever mix puppy Mokeys AKA Mocha which if you check out my other socials, you’ll probably know about her! She’s a rescue pup with the most gorgeous gray eyes (though they’ve grown more brown over time) and I love her to bits. Her birthday is March 4th and we celebrated it in 2018 with a lovely cupcake. Galaxy, my former other pet, was two years old when he unfortunately passed across the Rainbow Bridge back in spring of 2019. Totally still miss the little old dude! Nova was my first Chinese hamster and we got him back in February 2016 and he sadly passed away in November 2016. I got Galaxy a few days after (so from Nov 2016 – Spring 2019). (If you want to learn more, there are posts about these guys out on my blog, I’m sure!).

Recovery to Wellness became a mission. It’s birthed multiple projects and dreams that I wish to unveil to the public: Recovery Restoration, #RecoveryHome, Recovery personas and Recovery Reinforcer… Recovery to Wellness is a movement, it’s a way of living by choosing recovery and wellness each moment that that choice presents itself. Recovery to Wellness is about hope, peer support, love, light, going from one pole (recovery) to the other (wellness) in both the online world and the offline world. Recovery to Wellness is where my slogan was born: “Where Survivors Radiate Badassery.” Recovery Home, Recovery personas, Recovery Reinforcer and Recovery Restoration have come out of it and I am ever so grateful. (And if you want more information on these projects, there will be dedicated posts to them in the upcoming future!)

Not only did Recovery to Wellness become a blogging website, but a Youtube channel (RecoverytoWellness) in December 2016 and a Twitter account (since discontinued) in April 2017.

I struggle still, and likely always will, just at differing intensities. Because I am a proud mental health advocate, working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts chapter in In Our Own Voice presentations and a Peer-to-Peer mentor in NAMI’s peer recovery class, I aim to share my struggles with mental health conditions on this platform and many others, for a few specific reasons. These reasons involve becoming a beacon of hope and light and recovery to my fellow survivors and to hold onto life when I am deeply struggling myself.

You see, I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions, diagnosed back in fall 2014. I developed secondary depression in the winter break. I also live with trichotillomania (a hair pulling disorder, my longest actual mental health related disorder), dermatillomania (skin picking) and borderline personality disorder. I’ve attempted suicide a few times, though I don’t consider myself a suicide attempt survivor as the attempts were not severe. I’ve struggled with my identity and knowing who I am and am still on the lifelong journey of discovering that, although I think I did a pretty good job of describing myself to you guys from the start of this About the Author section! In the past, I’ve glorified suicide in my head and I still get urges yet I use my learned DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills to cope through the moment and get through everything. I still struggle with avoidance behaviors, all or nothing thinking, procrastination, self-sabotage, poor time management, the hair pulling and skin picking, balancing my hobbies versus things like chores or cooking, and a few others that I’m probably forgetting.

However, despite all the bullshit I have found stability since beginning a day program three days a week at the start of February 2018. Well, maybe not at the very start of that journey but definitely having Passages as my go to place was HUGE. I’d say by mid-2018 I began full-on stability. I still have rough patches here and there of course but with maintaining my social media outlets and hoping to spread positivity as much of the time wherever I go, I can honestly say that life’s been really, really great. I’ve accessed my Recovery Raquel persona and it’s been a blessing and so utterly amazing. I’ve been able to juggle my hobbies, coursework where applicable, professional responsibilities and upkeep my social medias. Nowadays life is bright and awesome and amazing. Sure, the clouds do roll in, but most importantly, they roll away again, too. I believe in myself just as much as I believe in your resiliency to make it through all your bad days. You can get there, and so can I. ❀

I share my story with these mental health conditions because I truly believe my voice matters. I believe inherently that I matter and depression is lying to me, that my brain is lying to me and that together we can become something more, something better. I believe that we can rise above and dissipate the lies and misconceptions in the face of stigma.

I just want to be someone, really. I want to leave behind a legacy of some kind, and the bouncy houses in my horizon are growing bigger and brighter every day. I aspire to becoming a published author and creating endlessly until old age, ahaha. There’s so much more I could say, but I think my writings from the newspaper and my blog posts in general can represent myself better than the words I’m placing on this page right now (including the dreams I have ahead of me and the projects I’ve mentioned here that I wish to bring into the realm of existence πŸ™‚ ).

I hope you gain something from my musings. Know that you are never alone, that there is hope and to hold onto life because things will get better. I am proof of that, even if I don’t always feel like it. Stay safe.

xxxx


My Social Medias:

DeviantART: H-Everybody-Lies–MD

Youtube: RecoverytoWellness

Fanfiction.net (all Loki centered Avengers fanfic), abbreviated the most as FFN: Unmasked Potential

Archive Of Our Own (AO3): UnmaskedPotential

Instagram:Β recoverytowellness


Lastly, as of October 2020 I am adding a section of just links and a little synopses of videos already dispersed online about myself and my story. These include interviews and podcasts and video submissions. Some my own, some from others. I have not reviewed them all myself as of late but once I do I will likely add blog posts separately for each of them as well as a little description here about them. πŸ™‚ Enjoy!! And feel free to contact me through a DM or through my Contact Page if you have any questions, speaking opportunities, need some positivity or want to chat! πŸ˜€ ❀

  1. #RealOCD” Video Submission from fall 2018 (on my channel)
  2. “Recovery is Real” Passages Interview from Persistent Productions. This was filmed February 2019 and is up online to the Passages (my day program’s) website, Youtube channel and Facebook. If you’d like to comment I’d recommend Facebook as the channel won’t accept them. But yeah, this was such an excellent opportunity and it was something I wanted to feature within this new section here. I want to do a dedicated blog post to it but haven’t been able to yet. I did do a reaction video to it on my channel which you can find here. Lastly, it was so awesome and so cool to get them to come to my house and film my surroundings in my bedroom and I’m so honored by having this opportunity! Who knew exchanging business cards would open so many doors! πŸ™‚ ❀
  3. The Oddball Show Podcast episode with Jason Wright in Dec. 2019. This was an interview styled podcast where I shared with Jason (whom I know in real life and taught my first P2P class with last year) more details about my fanfics (Unmasked Potential) as well as more about my recovery projects, my journey and the like. A future blog post to come very soon. ❀
  4. Helping Parents of Mentally Ill Children, interview with Bill MacPhee in June 2020. This is probably my least favorite interview because I got a little too consumed with details in regards to the OCD and I disliked that I made it sound like everything was uphill from 2016 on when that was NOT the case. Still, though, I’ve never gone back to rectify it but plan to by the end of the year. It may not even be as bad as I’m recalling!!! Curse you, OCD, though! >_>
  5. A Clip of My Video Submission for #BFRByourself launched in Oct. 2020 (filmed in June). You can also find a lengthier portion of this video clip showing various fidget toys here on my channel about trichotillomania and a little on dermatillomania.

And that’s all I have for now! Do check them out and give them some love if you have the time!! Thank you so, so, so much!! Sending you all light and love. πŸ™‚ ❀


Last updated: 5/14/2022

2 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Hello Raquel!
    My name is Kiko, and I also suffer from Obsessive cumpulsive disorder. I’ve been suffering with the illness for so long, I could’nt say when it started. The last three years have been awful. I can’t describe how lonley it is, especially during nights. When you have no peer to peer input, and your psychiatrist attemps to understand but only half heartedly (my feeling), you start to give up. Year by year.
    My primary fear lies in contamination ocd, but has manifested into marginal phobias. Fear of human contact, unknown substances, blood, that sort.
    I already feel like Im rambling.
    Fuck. You managed to find a pocket of normalcy. How? Specifically how? Im very curious. I can’t go on into my 29th bday more disabled than ever. Its so difficult overcoming this. If you dont respond … I get it.
    Thank you for your time!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kiko!!

      Sorry I’m a little late getting back to you–I was at work when I got your message and then I slept most of Saturday and went out shopping later with my Mom (twas fun!). In regards to your question, I would say my recovery has taken about 12 vital steps and processes. Just know that that this is what has worked for me and may not translate super well towards you and your situation. Also, if you’d like to connect more off this site and more over email (I may ask where you’re located in terms of state in the USA or beyond) feel free to message me through my Contact page! Any who, let’s jump in:

      1. Medications. It took some time before I found the right fit but I’d definitely say that medications helped me to get up and above my behaviors–it gave me a new starting baseline that allowed me to better tackle and one up the disorders and everything. I’ve been on a stable antidepressant and an antipsychotic. These were fiddled with a tad here and there, re-introduced, taken out, etc. Do you feel that having your psychiatrist understand the OCD you live with to be a critical part of your recovery? Or is it because you feel misunderstood and unheard that you’d like your treatment team to be more on the same playing field?

      2. OCD Specialized Therapist. I started at my uni’s counseling center (it’s who diagnosed me, too) before I moved into an OCD specialized therapist I saw twice a week for a year, maybe a year and a half. This helped to introduce me into ERP (exposure and response prevention, the main treatment for the disorder) and was helpful to build my tolerance to the pain I was in and often led me to a few different hospitalizations (I made suicide attempts during this time as well as others, was engaging in self-harm, etc.)

      3. OCD-Institute. I went to the Belmont campus in MA for 5 weeks back in 2015 and this really helped me a lot. I found a lot of peace from that stay. There are 3 main OCD treatment centers across the United States and the OCD-I allows for people worldwide to come and receive treatment. Back then, the wait list was 3 months. They had us do like 4 hours worth of ERP each work day. It challenged me with DBT groups, mindfulness practices, family therapy, other groups etc. I still have the paperwork(s) that I received from there if you’re interested in seeing more about that and the specifics regarding it (you can email me).

      4. Family therapy. This was really crucial and can be for a lot of cases because the family surrounding the individual suffering may be engaging in behaviors that help to enable the disorder. The biggest thing I learned from the OCD-I is that I needed to sit in the uncertainty–the ERP’s are done in a hierarchy, there’s no flooding and I worked my way up from easier ERP’s to harder ones–and I’d have to sit with the distress that I’d feel instead of engaging in my compulsions (mine was mostly mental rituals and intrusive thoughts). So, for instance, I would have to tell myself with a particular method: “I’m going to do X now. It’s going to do Y. I’ll kill myself.” etc. and that would cause me distress and then I’d have to sit with it–I’d have to acknowledge that yes there was a chance that I would act on the thought just by having it and that would make me anxious and I’d just have to ride the wave of the urge. Or, a big one for me was focusing and fixating on the ideation and then having me switch to a task that has nothing to do with those suicidal obsessions–which was really hard because I would ruminate a lot and the OCD wants to only focus on “dark days” and fantasizing and all that jazz (still to this day) and I, over time, have learned to completely take out ruminating (but that’s a discussion for later) and fill my time with the things I like to do and that are healthier and productive, hooray. But, I’m jumping ahead. Family therapy is definitely helpful so they can know how to best support the individual suffering. Especially learning that with OCD you can’t offer someone reassurance. (So if you asked “Is this contaminated?” someone working with you would be like “I don’t know, maybe/Yes” which would cause you anxiety and you’d have to not engage in any compulsions such as asking more questions or washing your hands. The automatic reassurance we’ve grown up in society would be to say no or dismiss the fears related to the disorder but with OCD we have to learn to live with that uncertainty, that hey, there’s a 2% chance that it IS contaminated and what are we going to do about it. I hope that makes sense!)

      5. ACT. “The Happiness Trap” is a really good book on acceptance and commitment therapy, something I visited a tad but definitely not as much as I could have. It’s got the principles of cognitive defusion (recognizing that a thought is a thought and not an action or a set, definitive prediction of what is to come) and mindfulness which helps to focus on the present moment in a nonjudgmental stance and realize that thoughts will come and pass in our minds like clouds in the sky. I’d definitely recommend this.

      6. ERP. We went over that, that’s definitely the go-to treatment for OCD.

      7. CBT. Some principles are helpful for OCD. For me, some of the tracking stuff I wrote about is actually a tad unhelpful because it can reinforce the OCD which isn’t good. There are books and such out there for it, so there’s that. It may take some tinkering of multiple things to help (like this entire list, from my perspective).

      8. OCD Support Group. This is particularly critical in many ways because having other people who have a better understanding of similar thoughts, behaviors and emotions one is going through reminds people that they aren’t alone in their experiences and that it IS possible to recover and get better. So, even if it’s not an in person support group, even just online forums or finding communities online could really, really help. I have a few people I followed back in the day, even before I made the site’s accounts, that really, really helped me.

      9. Art. Art is like breathing air to me. Creating projects, blogging, filming, photography, creative writing, fanfics, being inspired, all of that… it keeps me sane. It’s a very enjoyable pleasure of mine. It’s helped me transform and grown with me. It’s allowed me to connect to others. I value creativity and it’s without a doubt a big part of my recovery.

      10. Music. Music is also integral to my journey. Being able to be heard, listened to, seen through a song is so, so, so important for me. Whether it’s a mood mirroring song (a song matching my mood) or a mood uplifter, either way, it matters and helps and impacts my art and my life.

      11. Keeping busy: structure, no rumination, juggling. I completely cut out ruminating and fixating on suicide obsessions/ideation from my life in the last two years. Completely changed my life. Now I keep myself busier (although sometimes in an unhealthy/avoidant way) with watching Youtube videos, listening to music, listening to creepypastas, reading a book, watching movies, making art, graphic design, putting on lotions, etc. I keep my mind engaged elsewhere and that’s been so, so critical for me. I don’t think back on my past from years ago. I keep strong boundaries with myself now, and I learned how to make those boundaries to begin with. I sorta clamp off my past from my present and focus more on the future going forwards. I’m certain in my ability to persevere and overcome obstacles. Optimism is also pretty critical for me.

      For structure: having a day program or something I had to report to day by day really helped. Even just sectioning off time chunks in my planner or writing up to do lists helps.

      For juggling: I do a LOT in my life. Stability has allowed me to have that. I am taking up new projects, professionally and personally and check-in with my friends now and then, listen to music, blog, create, I’m working on completing household chores and all of that. It’s a lot, a LOT of work, but it’s just how I roll these days ahaha.

      12. Changes in Attention & Inappropriate/Appropriate people and places. The ways I secondarily sought attention or validation or help from external sources (instead of having the confidence to provide it for myself (also issues in a co-dependent friendship)) changed into receiving healthier, positive attention from my day program, like being complimented on my outfit or told I’m inspiring, or having others listening to what I have to say. That really allowed me to explore my identity and expand who I was versus who I was as a labeled diagnosis. Additionally, inappropriate and appropriate people and places meant that I learned where I could get help versus where it was best to not (such as like Twitter or Youtube) because the Internet can be an unforgiving place and also not everyone is going to be there 100% of the time and I basically really needed to learn how to self-regulate and know when to help myself versus get outside help. That was really important in my journey and that came only through mid-2018 and 2019.

      13. Day Program/DBT-Intensive. My day program “Passages” also deeply helped to create structure in my life as of Feb. 2018. DBT-Intensive especially was a year and a half of my treatment that utterly changed and twirled my life around. DBT transformed my life and kept me alive and safe for so long. I completed diary cards each day and each week where I tracked my moods and behaviors. I just graduated from there a few days ago and there is a PDF DBT Manual online and workbooks also if that’s something you’re inclined to learn about. Passages in general has communication skills groups, art therapy groups, therapy groups and more. This year I’ll be weaning off from them but yeah that’s been massively helpful. DBT is broken up into 4 segments: interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and mindfulness. There are tons of acronym skills and it’s amazing. Honestly.

      14. I still struggle with different things and severity’s of those things. Nowadays it’s more hair-pulling and skin-picking that I struggle with. I still receive intrusive thoughts or images but I’ve gotten a LOT better at just ignoring or barely recognizing them. This is possible through mindfulness, not taking up the bait with the OCD and yeah, sorry, I’m getting very tired and it’s blurring my ideas and information, πŸ˜›

      I mean, I could probably go on forever too, but those are probably the biggest, main things that have helped me and changed my life to return to this sense of normalcy and commitment to life and focusing on the future and moving forwards. I know that I may struggle again in the future and feel dead inside, and I know that my pain tolerance has massively increased and that when I get stressed out these days I think not of death first as the ultimate avoidance but of problem solving.

      So, really, recovery is absolutely possible. It’s going to take a LOT of work and effort and time and it will be so, so, soooo worth it. I hope that you find peace and understanding and better treatment very, very soon. 2020 is going to be your year. ❀ I believe in you.

      Thank you for reaching out!!! How did you come across my page? You're awesome and I wish you nothing but the best. If you need anything else, feel free to let me know!!
      Stay safe and sending you light and love.
      xxx

      PS Bonus:

      15. Advocacy. Advocacy is a HUGE part of my journey, working with NAMI especially. I want to do a lot more going forwards but having advocacy offline (and online!) helps to spread my story, my dreams and keeps me accountable with my actions and allows me to get a little bit of money coming into the house. It gives me much purpose and I love doing it. It really helps to boost my self-esteem, knowing I'm doing such incredible and powerful work. πŸ™‚

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