When I Can No Longer Avoid the Confrontations Before Me | #mhblogger


It should come as no surprise that I cannot stand confrontation.

It makes me anxious, angry people with passion so deep in their veins that they yell and make noise. It makes me feel unsettled. It makes me feel shaky and nervous, uncertain and on edge.

It makes me wonder what it is exactly that I’m supposed to do…

I’m being confronted lately by the by-products of my avoidance. Avoidance runs with so much depth in all aspects of my life that it’s making me feel unsettled and uncertain as to where I can possibly turn. I try to make progress in addressing it, but there’s just SO much of it, so much that I’m drowning in daily, and just when I can manage it a little bit better, a little bit more, everything else builds and builds and builds and again I am left with the choice, the confrontation of invisible forces: do I take the time to look into it and approach cautiously or do I freeze in my steps, turn the other way and run from it? Essentially, do I continue to avoid the avoidable?

Unfortunately, it always seems to be the latter.

And I’m paying for it now.

The Loki Disney+ series is going to be coming out in about 3 weeks and I’m still as far behind in re-watching the MCU as ever before.

I wanted to be through the entire thing months ago but here I am now, still in Phase One and no closer to getting into it. Unless, maybe, I abandon the process entirely, which I don’t think is likely.

I just get so caught up in the fact that I make simple processes into such large, complicated and complex tasks that I inevitably wind up avoiding because there’s TOO much expectation going hand in hand with them. Which translates into just never getting anything substantial done or really making a nice big check mark off something that I appropriately accomplished.

It’s exhausting.

And not everyone else is like this, I’m finding. And so that’s odd, too.

And on top of that, I’ve thought of myself as one thing and more and more I’m being confronted with the idea that maybe I’m not even that thing at all–and if that’s the case, than who am I really?

I guess, the point is, that I do something towards the things I’m avoiding. I’m gearing up from wanting to edit videos today to then changing my Youtube channel banner art instead, to then moving away from editing videos after I scheduled my next video for release tomorrow and then even further to just writing this post (which I’ll be ending soon because my attention span is already waning a lot) to then just watching a movie, working on my film review TIH blog post and reading a book IYF and watching Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy tonight.

I’m tired, I’m anxious and I’m just deadpan.

I hate that I cannot output as much as I would like or expect of myself, but, I guess it is what it is. I still want to comb my hair today and brush my teeth, because I haven’t quite done that just yet. Then I will watch Thor and also take stock of an estimated updated timeline for the MCU rewatching parties.

I guess what matters is that I keep trying.

And maybe, here I am hoping, that maybe one day that’ll be enough.

Well, I have to go make these things into reality now.

I’ll see you all tomorrow.

πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

Post written May 20th 2021 at 2:45p; then again at 3:30p. Posted by 3:45p EST

PS Another way my avoidance behaviors are impacting all areas of my life include: the time I waste every day on Youtube binges, the avoidance impacting my work at Amaryllis, the avoidance impacting what I actually get done in a day (my productivity), my avoiding MCU and regular movies, my avoiding my fan fiction, my avoiding reading books, my avoiding blog posts, my avoiding (or this relationship in particular is a little trickier) editing videos, my avoiding news related information (so like what’s happening currently in the world like at Hamas; usually I’m about 2 – 3 years late on current events) etc.

The Mental Health Tag 2021 | #mhblogger

Ahahha, I know it’s a TAD big but I just made this today on my Canva account and I really love it! If you’re interested in details, I’ll describe it down below at the end of the tag. πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜™

Hi hi!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by on this post. I have two main things I want to say before we get started–okay, maybeeee three, ahaha.

Firstly: This post is inspired and predominantly follows the amazing Jenny in Neverland’s blog post for this tag which you can find via this long hyperlink! Her post originally existed back in 2017 and I am inclined to reignite the spark and carry it over into this year which is 2021!! Her post was also inspired by another blogger which you can find through her own links there. But on to point number two!

Secondly: If you don’t know and this is your first time on my blog, I used to write articles for my university’s student newspaper about my mental health recovery journey from spring 2016 – fall 2018. The most relevant article for this post is the one I did as an interview with my friend I named Naomi. It was about the impact of stigma upon the mental health community and how it can act as a barrier to receiving the appropriate help for those conditions. When I had asked my collegue from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, USA) about how to conduct the interview, they suggested that I add in fun facts and other interests besides mental health that I want to carry over into THIS blog post. So, that’s how I’m going to be tweaking this post, my contribution to the tag, itself. I’ll add in comments about my hobbies, the types of things I like and enjoy and other factors that have contributed to my far more emotionally stable lifestyle and the hopes and dreams even beyond mental health that I plan to embark on and explore one day.

Thirdly: Within this vein above, I’d also like to describe the different factors that I highlighted and created in the associated thumbnail for this post. Just little facts or small discussions on each item shown and what the process was like coming up with this thumb overall. If I count them all up for both of us…there’s 12 so I shall space them out throughout this post! With that being said, let’s jump in!


QUESTION #1:

Who are you?

Hi there! My name is Raquel Lyons and I’m a blogger here on WordPress, while also managing multiple accounts throughout the Internet, some being:

My Loki centered Avengers fan fiction accounts on both fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own (AO3) where I write a lot about overcoming adversity, hurt/comfort, angst and the intersecting points between mental and physical health conditions. πŸ˜πŸ˜˜πŸ€— I put Loki through a LOT of shit but he manages regardless haha. My most popular stories are A Little Unsteady (fainting) and Distorted & Disordered (mental health fic set in high school and will be a trilogy). I do not shy away from hard topics like trauma, PTSD, suicidality, mental health, eating disorders etc. Another popular story I have would be Severed (waist down paralysis) and An Unseeing Shadow (a spinoff for Come to Pass before I started that story which is about differing forms of blindness). My account names on both sites with just a space at FFN vs AO3 is Unmasked Potential. So, if you’re curious and you’d like to read more of my writing beyond this blog, check those out! FFN and AO3. And leave me a comment or critique if you can and are interested!!! πŸ˜…πŸ˜Œβ˜Ί

My Youtube channel with the same name as here: RecoverytoWellness — where I make videos (I am ending a hiatus soon, within the next few weeks!!) about my recovery (life updates, Support Stands); my artwork (coloring, creative writing, filming (newly), photography, Ink on Skin, etc.); hauls (stationery, journals, books); art time lapses; room care; talking videos and more. I even have a couple of collabs but more so tons of other videos I have to edit and put together soon. I just got a new editing software so I’ll be tinkering with that very soon to see how that goes and hopefully return with a better uploading schedule!!! My most current videos I’ve filmed (but haven’t edited) include room care/reorganizing, a body positivity vid, hauls, going through my childhood stuffed animals, a multiple part Get to Know Me series! (To celebrate 100 subs).

My Twitter page: Recovery Raquel that I, for better or for worse, treat as my online journal, much like here and other sites if I’m honest, where I update about what I’m up to and what I’m creating or sharing some of my artwork or just what’s on my mind at that moment. πŸ˜ƒ

My old (but soon to be resurrected) deviantART account. I made this account back in Feb. 2010 and it’s seen so much of me and it’s where I came up with the name for this blog, even. I settled more into here for my writing and chatting but DA was definitely where I started at sixteen. It has my artwork ranging from creative writing, journals, photography, drawing, coloring, etc. I want to get back into it very soon (this year) but haven’t quite managed to just yet. I do aim to though.

Besides my online presences, I am a twenty-seven year old living at home with my parents with my four year old doggo Mocha (AKA Mokeys). I mention her often on Twitter and I actually did here, too, way back in the day when we adopted her in June 2017 with some blog posts and old photos. I actually just took a BUNCH of photos of her just yesterday but they’re all still on my camera’s SD card at the moment. Regardless, I’m an avid artist ranging from: adult coloring, photography, filming, graphic design (Canva; it’s where I make all my blog and Youtube thumbnails), creative writing (particularly fan fiction as of late, but also poetry and short stories (and more I’ll mention in just a moment); beaded bracelets, scrapbooking/collages; painting, water coloring and you get the idea.

I live in MA, USA and I love rainbows and rainbow lighthouses, even if they are technically only a thing in my imagination (a lighthouse with a seven colored rainbow as the base instead of the traditional plain white or white and red combo) — (I tried to include an image of a drawing of this but I don’t have them on this laptop at the moment and I’m not about to go digging any further than what I just managed for about 15 mins, do forgive me.) Any how, I love to read books and books provide me with SUCH a great comfort, even if my reading ability today is far behind what it used to be. I still love books. I also love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no surprises there. I love rainbows and I’m a small gay little bean. I enjoy my Disney+ and Netflix accounts and I love to create from a perspective of art therapy and mindfulness. I love falling asleep to an assortment of things like ASMR, creepypastas, horror stories and chiropractic cracking ahaha. I have a supportive family and many wonderful friends from all over the years. I love buying books, journals, art supplies and stationery.

This is the best I could find on short notice without my TB of all of my older files. IOS (Ink on Skin) 2017.

:=[[WHAT I’VE ALREADY ANSWERED ABOUT THE THUMB ABOVE]]=:

So, no surprises here, a few of my answers and lengthy about me and my online accounts should have already cleared up a few things from my thumb. Namely, the camera to represent photography (and filming!), the Love wins bottle because it’s aesthetically pleasing and also very gay of me, the cute rainbow because rainbows (they’re my fave color!! I do accept 5 colored rainbows but anything less than THAT isn’t a rainbow to me), the girl reading a book because books and reading and I am a woman (she/her pronouns, thanks very much)–I’d say that totals to about 4 things answered of the 12 thus far. Let’s keep going to see how that changes!

Question #2:

What is your mental health condition?

Aaaa, yes, we’re diving into the actual purpose and questions of this very mental health tag!! I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions (intrusive thoughts in-congruent with my values; unwanted images and thoughts about these usually occurring these days in flashes I most often ignore), secondary depression (with genuine thoughts of hurting myself, urges mostly these days), trichotillomania (hair-pulling), dermatillomania (skin-picking), and this is a little complicated final one but technically Borderline Personality Disorder as of fall 2017 buuuut I don’t know how much I agree with it per se, because I fit at one point more under borderline traits because I didn’t hit five or more of the 9 symptoms so sometimes I just say BPD and sometimes I don’t. Depends how much I want to explain that day ahaha.

But yes, short technical version is: OCD, depression, BPD, trich and derm.

As a disclaimer, I will add that diagnosis in the US (though I imagine it’s applicable worldwide) is more for the purposes of insurance companies and treatment direction, knowing which to apply to what and so on. I also believe diagnostic criteria exist on a fluid spectrum where at one point I may have identified more with an OCD diagnosis and at another a BPD diagnosis. For me, luckily, it’s been over 3 years since I last self-harmed via scratching and it’s been about 3.5 years since I was last hospitalized. I do get urges still today and bad dreams about suicidality or self harm but I definitely don’t act on it as much as I used to. I’ve grown a lot and I’ve really changed in a lot of ways. But we’ll get more into that soon.

Question #3:

Do you take medication or have you had therapy?

Okay, Raquel, this question is a simple question and you’re gonna answer it more in-depth in the next one. Keep it simple. Think simple. BE the simple.

Short answer: Yes and yes. As for my current providers, I’ve had the same psychiatrist “Phil” since Mar. 2015 and my current therapist “June” since Feb. 2018. She began as my family therapist with sessions with myself and my Mom in that same stroke of time but became my main therapist at least in like Jan. 2020. Occasionally we still do family sessions but not as much anymore. Pandemic-wise, I was seeing my psychiatrist in the summer months in person with physical distancing (since winter, it’s only been over the phone and as of yet hasn’t reshaped at all yet) and I’ve been over the phone for the last year and a half with June. Soooo, yep.

Question #4:

What therapy or medication combination worked best for you? What were its short comings and what were its strengths?

So, a more complicated answer and question here.

I tried out various medications at different times and dosages over the years. Largely, I’ve been on my current anti-depressant since about Mar. 2015 (I don’t go into specifics of particular ones because my advocacy work discourages that so I just never have over the years) and I’ve been taking the current anti-psychotic since about Sep/Oct 2017. It took a lot of tinkering but I finally found the right ones that worked for me. I’ve been stable on both of these meds since, hmm, let’s say Feb. 2018. And by stable I mean, we haven’t changed them in any way.

Also, I want to preface my answer to this question in particular with the fact that I am only an expert in my own experiences and I can only tell you what’s worked for ME from my own perspective and I vastly encourage you to take your own liberties in your own treatment up with your treatment team and don’t necessarily spout off what worked for me in your sessions because we’re all very different and what works for me may not work for you! So definitely, advocate, advocate, advocate. Be the main person in your team that stands up for you and helps you get help because you deserve it, you’re worth it and life gets soooo much better!!!

I’ve had a lot of treatment over the years which I’ll spell out more down below, but to put it in perspective, I’ve been hospitalized for psychiatric purposes 12 times over 3 years. Here’s what helped me the most plus an overview of all treatment I’ve had in that length of time (which this will get clearer down below, sorry this is a strange jumble of stream of consciousness and also some parameters set in place for other more specific questions that come later in this tag!!!)

  • I originally began my treatment using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) at the Counseling Center at uni. I did this for maybe like 6-7 months before I transitioned to my OCD specialized therapist.
  • I saw my OCD specialized therapist twice weekly for about a year and half, approximately from Feb. 2015 – Nov. 2016
  • I stayed 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute in Belmont, MA in Sept – Oct. 2015. The main therapy I learned there was exposure and response prevention (ERP), family therapy, individual therapy and group therapies like introductions into DBT and mindfulness and more. ERP is used to treat OCD which is to essentially expose the person to the thing they’re most afraid of (predominantly as a hierarchy so small stuff first then leading up to bigger stuff; we want to avoid flooding ourselves!) and NOT engage in the compulsions that only make the anxiety or distress temporarily disappear.
  • I then saw my therapist April once a week for about a year. We did like maybe CBT and art therapy and crisis management work (I was still very unwell at this point)
  • I was hospitalized on and off through this period of time (fall 2016 – Jan 2018)
  • I began to attend a day program “Passages” from Feb. 2018 to June 2020. Here I would attend groups and activities during the day and then return home at night. I attended three days a week and did activities like group therapy, mindfulness, art therapy, socialization, psychoeducation, and the predominantly taught modality there that was Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT.
  • DBT is comprised of four main modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation. DBT is the therapy that really genuinely and honestly transformed my life to what it IS today. I began to attend the DBT-Intensive (DBT-I) program from May 2018 (leaving April to do so) to Jan. 2020. On Wed’s at the program I would attend the DBT-I session which was to review the last week’s homework assignment, offer an issue we had with the previous week via referring to our diary cards that tracked our moods and behaviors and then in the second hour we learned the next skill and received the next week’s homework assignment. On F’s I’d meet with my individual therapist there and talk about what was going on and all that jazz. I learned SO MANY skills of DBT that I still practice mostly unconsciously today and with many avenues I still have to update myself on and relearn (gwah).
  • My most used skills are probably opposite action, pros and cons and self-soothe. I’ll be honest though, I haven’t really been reading up on them or practicing them more again in the last year or so. However, overall DBT taught me how to tolerate my negative emotions and build a rather high pain tolerance. It also taught me to fall in love with other things and passions like music, fan fiction and Marvel movies. I learned how to sift through my emotions and went from triggers affecting me for 3 – 4 days like back in 2017 to instead having a very painful and uncomfortable 20 mins as more of the norm and the baseline of my existence. I also became super stable and just haven’t needed the hospital setting like I once used to.
  • I still struggle with catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking and avoidance but overall it’s gotten so much smaller and better than it first began as. I struggle more with avoidance, procrastination, denying anxiety and the hair pulling and skin picking these days
  • By Feb. 2018 I started seeing June for family therapy and then in about Jan 2020 I saw her individually once a week until probably these past 6 months where I was able to do biweekly appointments (which would have been unheard of back in the day!!)

Overall, my treatment has definitely taken bits and pieces and various varieties over the years. I am hoping to find myself an OCD specialized therapist again within the next year because I think I’m ready to do that and would benefit a lot more from that as well. Medications weren’t one and done, they took different amounts and unfortunate side effects like weight gain, irregular heartbeats, stiff jaw and the like. Therapy had always felt like something I’d be locked in for for life yet in the last year I’ve been able to play around with the idea that maybe it didn’t always have to be. I definitely still have my struggles today, they’re just different than they used to be.

:=[[Thumb Discussion Time]]=:

I’ll pick the unicorn this time!! I LOVE unicorns. Always have since I was a little girl ahaha I just think unicorns are great mythical creatures and I love their aesthetic and have drawn a few of them throughout the course of my art making days. I just liken them to rainbows and you know how much I love rainbows so it’s a perfect match!!!

Question #5:

How long have you been living with mental health conditions?

I was diagnosed first with OCD back in fall 2014 when I was 21. I was seeing my uni’s Counseling Center until, well, you already read that part. I was diagnosed with depression in Jan. 2015. I was then diagnosed with BPD in fall 2017. I was never officially diagnosed with trich but I’ve honestly had it since I was 15 and it pre-dates all my other mental health conditions, but it only became severe (enough that I was missing my eyebrow two or three times over the course of a year) in 2017. And derm is still new but that’s been since I started to manage my trich so probably 2018/2019.

Photos and discussion of my trich journey.

Question #6:

Do your family/friends know?

Yesssssss, my Mom is most active in my treatment with my Dad thereafter. My Mom is really the main parental figure that attended my family therapy appointments with June. My parents have been active parts in my treatment as I would need hospitalizations and crisis support, even if they were one of the last ones to find out about that stuff (sorry, Mom and Dad!). They would call me, visit me in the hospital, bring in my clothing or books or homework. They were through the original family therapy appointments at the OCD-I. They still carry me financially for the most part. They’ve been there to take care of Mokeys and put up with all of my bullshit (which is the avoidance for sure; I need to do more chores, I swear). I live in their house still and it’s been a hot spot of struggle for years and then just betterment in the last three.

As far as my friends, yes, they also know. Most of them also live with their own mental health conditions to be fair.

And beyond my friends, I do advocacy work with NAMI so tons of audience member/strangers know about my recovery too. And I was open about it via my articles at uni. And, relevant to here, I’m still open about it and I tell the entire world my shit. For better or for worse, haha. So yeah, probably the only people who don’t know might be extended family. But pretty much, everyone knows. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of where I’ve come and all that I manage today, which brings me to the next thing:

Question #7:

What are some of your dreams for the future?

Technically not a question in the original post but I’m adding it, because I THINK this is what I was going to write about next (it’s been about 3 hours of work overall and I’m getting tired to be honest), but I’m definitely looking forward to writing my own fiction novel, a RecoveryHome workbook, my memoir and probably novellas or a series of short stories and poetry books. I also still dream of one day giving my own TEDtalk about my recovery journey. I also want to become a Certified Peer Specialist next in my career. I plan to continue watching the MCU movies. I plan to actually finish my fanfics, ahaha. I plan to become more involved with advocacy work, like with CPS and also just with NAMI in general. I would love to make my recovery art projects a thing (all the different R’s involved with that.) I want to get out beyond my bubble of comfort and into driving around the countryside and looking at homes and houses because I’ve always found that soothing. I can’t wait to listen to more and new and old music. I dream of my house’s front door and having rainbow lighthouses everywhere, haha. I’m starting to explore romance in my life and continually trying to let go of fear and let myself live. Existential awareness is still too strange for me but I’ll take it, and deal with it however I can at the moment. πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŽπŸ€— Okay, let me be honest, that was a necessary mini break that I needed right there!!!

Question #8:

What helps you to self-soothe?

I swear I won’t jump around too, too much in this post, haha. Here are the types of things I find self-soothing:

  1. Looking at houses and interior/exterior design. It shouldn’t be too much to wonder how I have an entire project set aside called Recovery Home, then, right? Looking at the different types of things people have out and in their homes just fascinates me. I love it. Storage boxes in neat rows and colors, art studio things, windows, types of doors, porches, banisters… I just love it
  2. Driving in the country-side. I definitely find this soothing, just roaming about and learning the road, finding new places. It’s nice. Simple and adventurous and nice.
  3. Libraries. God, I love libraries. Also, is this surprising? My idea of a good time is just being in a library. So fascinating
  4. Book stores and stationery shops, plus other shopping things. I don’t know, there’s something just so nice about to do lists and cute journals or finding nice, new or different art supplies and they’re always coming up with new stuff. I love it. Book stores are so great too. Dangerous to be in because of how much money I’ll spend but still it’s nice to look and write down into my journal which I’ve been doing more often now.
  5. Watching a movie or TV show. Like “Mom” or “Grey’s Anatomy” but you better bring the tissues to the latter! Even when I finally do get myself to watch an MCU movie it’s nice. Work, quite a bit, but it’s nice. Just getting lost in someone else’s head for a while
  6. Ink on Skin. Definitely a great self-soothing crisis type of coping strategy for me. Need I say more?
  7. Reading a book (even if it doesn’t happen as often these days).
  8. Watching a Youtube video but I have to be careful with this because I’ll over-distract and over-avoid.
  9. Creating art or listening to other art while I create art like music and horror stories, ahaha.
  10. Listening to music. Definitely a great skill that one is.
  11. Taking even just 10 mins for myself. If I need a reboot or a moment to just peruse a book, without or very few expectations, this helps. I’ve been able to get a little bit further in a book doing this before. So, this is a nice skill. Maybe falls under ‘brief vacation’ from DBT in the IMPROVE skill

Question #9:

What helps or what could you do when you get triggered to re-stabilize?

Outside of NAMI my longest standing employment is at Amaryllis a trauma informed residential for youth where I work with children aged 4 – 12 years old. I’ve been there almost 2 years now. It’s my more traditional 8 hour shift job (which I have all this weekend and once I FINALLY finish this post I’m gonna re-calibrate for that). I work only about once or twice a week. Regardless, if I get triggered (which does happen) at work I can usually take a quick 5 min or swap with a co-worker, get emotional support from co-workers or feedback of some kind, cry, listen to music, call a hotline or call my Mom about it later too.

Making plans is also really important for me so like coming up with parameters ahead of time of skills I can use and resources I can reach out to is important as well as self-care practices thereafter. So things like small mindfulness exercises help, listening to music, IOS, making artwork, blogging, filming a video, and the like. Sorry, I’m a little off now since I just spoke with my dating friend ahaha.

Overall I think having an idea for how to handle it before then after helps me a lot. I don’t always do my therapy homework though, to be honest, but doing like half hour or hour by hour safety check ins like what would happen in the hospital can be a great last resort. Even going for shopping or being around books helps. Getting out of the house or look at other people’s houses etc. Getting support from family or friends. You get the idea.

Question #10:

What is something you want others to know who are struggling?

It gets better. It really, really does. I could never have imagined this type of life for myself over four or five years ago. It won’t always hurt this badly, life that is and pain, too. My tolerance for pain has increased so much and the human body naturally adapts to new situations. The body and the mind can adapt and pain doesn’t last forever. It can definitely come in waves and it can be like a tsunami sometimes too, and at the same time, I think nowadays I’m only ever in a puddle in comparison to the bigger, more life-threatening things I used to deal with.

Know that it’ll get better. It’ll take a lot of work and effort and time and it will be sooo, so worth it. Build those reasons to stay alive, whether it’s looking forward to a new movie or a video game. That helped me so much when I struggled. Finding something, tangible or abstract, to hold onto counts so, so much. I’d cradle my teddy bear dog stuffie and hold onto the hope that it wouldn’t always be so dark or bad.

And it got better. It did. And now I have dreams and a life and new relationships and things I can now explore and imagine and create and that is so, so special. You will be okay again. And if you need hope, I can hold it out for you until you can carry it yourself. I believe in you. And I’ll believe in you until you can light that candle for yourself, too.

Stay safe and above all, love yourself. πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ€

Question #11:

How would you describe your recovery in 5 words?

Optimistic, hopeful, persistent, determination and perseverance.

As for the final points about my chosen thumbnail:

  • The makeup palette: I’m slowly and gradually getting into makeup and it’s been fun so far and I can’t wait to explore more of it in the years ahead!! Most of my artwork of females has always featured makeup so it’s kinda natural this is where I’m headed πŸ˜‰πŸ˜š
  • Ipod: music is SUCH a big part of my recovery and mental health conditions journey. I’m still listening to music even just alongside this post (I’m on some Iron Man instrumentals now) though not what I started out with ahaha. It’s great though and I love to reference it in my art, which I’ll probably share in a future post this month, if you’re curious!!!
  • Kiss and profile woman: symbolizing love and romance, exploring that part of me that I’ve left abandoned and rugged for years. It’s nice though, something different to think of and maybe it won’t pan out or maybe it’ll be everything I always wanted and never knew I needed. I’m excited about it. πŸ‘„πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘©πŸ’Ÿ
  • A photo of me! An old selfie from about fall 2020 sporting my extra big extra glasses haha Just something nice to personalize and humanize this post!!
  • You Got This: because affirmations are awesome, helpful and I love writing cards and letters to people and giving them out which ALSO includes myself!! (though it’s been forever, I’ll be honest)
  • Journal: I feel like using the photo that I did from Canva for this project was perfect to create this little collage-like thumb. It was perfect and I got to create all over it even if no actual physical page was marked. It was great and worked out far better using this blank paged journal for me to spread out all my ideas! Yay!
  • Woman in a dress: I love dresses. I can’t wear them at Amaryllis but I love dresses. They’re just so cute and flow-y. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also mention how much I want to wear a men’s suit one day!! I’ve dreamed of it for years but they’re always too expensive for me. πŸ€”πŸ€¨

But yessssss, that IS ALL THE TIME I have for you and myself and for all of the peeps today.

This post took me many of the hours to write and I’m sick of it and can’t wait to move on to the next thing ahaha. I hope that you enjoyed it though!!!! And we’ll see what post I do tomorrow, honestly, probably celebrating hitting the 500 post milestone!! (at least that won’t wind up being 4k words long)

I lied…. it’s been 5K words long. *sobs internally*

But yeah, I have to go do something else now. I hope there weren’t any or many errors in spelling or grammar because I’m not reading this back over again but do check out the people I linked in this post and the things that I also linked and all of that jazz. Thank you SO MUCH for reading and let me know if you want to do this type of tag on YOUR blog or if you’re interested or want to create your OWN version of it, because I definitely took some creative liberties on mine ahaha.

Thank youuuuuuu. And let me know what you thought down below!! I didn’t do this much work for nothing. Kidding. Ahaha πŸ˜…πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Ά I will see you guys tomorrow. The amoutn of spelling errors at the vrey end of this post is concerning. Sigh.

πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

Written from: 3p; 4-7p, phone break for 10 mins, 7:15-7:35p. All written May 7th 2021. Thumb created around 2p, I think, if I had to guess.

“As always, stay safe, take care and be well. Much love and light to you.” — Me in my tag line for the end of my videos. πŸ–€πŸ€πŸ’œπŸŒˆπŸŒž

Goodbye, Athena: My Grieving Process.

this isn’t easy, I don’t know how and what to feel. Keeping busy: it does the job but it doesn’t heal.

It’s getting harder to feel. And they all say: “You need to take care of yourself, my darling.” but they don’t know how it feels to be broken. I can’t help it, I feel numb. I’ll wait for the waves to leave and come. I think I’m breaking… I’m a mess in the making.

I’m getting tired of the same old feeling in my chest. I’m not a liar, but I’ve got secrets I can’t confess.

Don’t say you love me: ’cause I don’t understand those words.

And they all say: “You need to take care of your health, my darling.”

I’m holding on a tightrope and know I’m not coming home. Hurting, searching–you know I’m not coming home.”

lyrics from Marina Lin’s “this is what self-destruction feels like”


Dear Athena,

….but also dear any other eating disorder or mental health condition survivor Reader out there:

Hi. You don’t know me. You maybe never would. We interacted a couple of times online but I was a fan for a while. I started following your story and your YouNow’s and your Youtube videos back in 2017 when there was one of the first large pickups of your story and the speculation that you were living with an eating disorder. I even made a blog post here about you and what you might have been going through.

Over time I watched more and more of your videos. Just as every other person in the world was, I was slowly watching you kill yourself. Anorexia, eating disorders in general, are those slow, gradual killers–sometimes. I saw you waste away video by video. I cared about you deeply. …I still do.

And then there was that all time low in the beginning of 2019, where Jaclyn Glenn and her friends forced you into treatment for your disorder(s) because you were, you are, a danger to yourself. Your own hand, or maybe even multiple hands behind all the screens, smoke and mirrors, are your ultimate demise.

So you went away for a while. A month in treatment and 4-5 months off the Internet.

You returned with an improvement in your physical health in about May or so 2019, helped along by Shane Dawson’s documentary on you and your story. You didn’t get into specifics, you did admit to an eating disorder, but you didn’t want to label it yet. You said you were better. You said things were getting to be okay.

And we believed you. We always saw the best in you, we saw you for your amazing kindness, compassion, positivity and endless amounts of potential.

It seemed to help for a while. It seemed like things were looking up for you, finally.

And then, then time passed. And you started to have similar behaviors visible to the human eye: placing your fingers around your wrists in a body-checking maneuver, standing up for long periods of time, watching yourself in the image of your camera rather than in the lens, wearing more revealing clothing, streaming on Twitch for 6-8 hours at a time with no breaks, no bathroom runs, no eating and no drinking.

And as it went on like this most people were still saying praise and supportive (enabling) comments. On videos, in streams, everywhere. Except the place you sometimes lurk on, sometimes read about yourself on and definitely a place of honesty and reality that I’ve found myself on many, many times now: Reddit.

People there were more honest, more bold, more informative, more witnessing and putting out their thoughts, their feelings and their fears about the winding road you, Athena, were traveling down towards.

And as the days rolled on, the less and less life shone in your smiles, in your green eyes, in the way you carried yourself. The less Recovery Athena existed the more the hope faded from us passerby’s witnessing you slowly fade away.

And I’m so…annoyed. I wanted you to do better. I wanted you to be more. I wanted you to live.

but you didn’t.

And I have to accept the hard reality that if you stay in the environment that made you sick, if you continue with these eating disorder behaviors, if you continue to restrict or purge or all of the above, if you continue like this, Athena:

you are going to die.

you ARE already dying.

Your skin is so pale but not just from lack of light but because it’s tinged with grey. Your hands and your legs are red, sometimes at the knuckles, sometimes just the back of your hands. You’ve had rings of red around your mouth. Your chest has been red before, too. You stutter more, and maybe that’s nerves, maybe that’s from the weight of the world that you’re holding trying to present yourself as “so much better now” and “fully recovered” and “I really am okay and everything; that was a long time ago and stuff”. But you’re not. You’re not, Athena. You are struggling. You are dying. And you’re doing it in front of the entire planet. You’re doing it for reasons we’ll probably never know, not, not unless some health scare happens and you’re able to get out of your household and away from the people who are so likely hurting you–because it’s NOT normal for a mother or a father or a family to watch you waste away hour by hour and not do a THING to stop it. That’s not love. At worst it’s abuse, at least it’s neglect.

And if anything does happen to you, if you lose your fight in this that I so very much wish would never have to happen, then I hope proper justice is brought to your case. I hope that the millions of people you’ve influenced will see that you were NOT immune to the disastrous and tragic consequences of an eating disorder so severe, so crippling, that you were lying about your recovery and your journey and wanting to be better, that you were struggling and in pain and unhealthy and DYING–I hope they see that this is a real and serious disorder and issue, and I hope that if nothing else, it destroys the illusion you’ve been painting for years that “everything is fine” and you’re “really okay and everything” and that eating disorders, mental health conditions, kill. And they will kill. Anorexia is the number one leading condition that kills its participants. And you will be one too if you don’t change your behaviors, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions.

And maybe as unfortunate and not worthy of a trade it is, maybe the laws and legislation in the United States will decide another life lost–one so public, so out there in the world, so resonating and so deliberate–was enough to finally change how eating disorders are treated; how wellness checks are necessary, how to not have the law and the people in power see someone so ill and believe whatever bullshit falls from themselves because of the fact that eating disorders just aren’t seen as the real and dangerous disorders they are–they’re not seen as IMMINENT danger to the self or others and so they’re allowed, time and time again, to slip through the cracks and failed over and over again by a system that refuses to change its citizens and make their lives whole again. Something has to change in these cases, these lives, something has to be DONE on the matter, like in other countries, in other places, in other situations. There HAS to be something. There has to be.

I don’t know how many people we have to lose in life before the world takes it seriously. Before the state does. The family. The country. The psychiatric system. The educational system. The healthcare system.

I hope that when you go on to the next life, Athena, that you will find peace. And that we’ll remember you. God, I’m crying. I hope that people will remember you for how kind you were. How much life you had in you. How compassionate you were. I hope they remember you for everything that you could have been. That you had so much potential to make a positive impact in the world, and in some ways you did, and in many others you didn’t. People see you as an inspiration–whether that’s from when you started a recovery process (for healthy reasons) or because of how frail and damaged your body allowed you to become (unhealthy). You impacted so many people, whether you realize it or not. And you had a responsibility to teach others, a platform you could have used to teach others, about the dangers of these disorders, about the REALITY of these disorders, but most of all you had a responsibility for YOURSELF.

To get better. To become well. To be happy. To be YOU.

You had this responsibility and it never clicked in your head. You kept up all the old body-checks you’d done in videos and photos, you kept up controversial videos, you apologized for everything that didn’t matter and nothing at all for everything that did, you let yourself go when the world just wanted to hold you close. You denied your influence on others and turned a blind eye to predators and lurkers who meant you harm and who meant others harm.

But at the end of the day, you never took on that accountability. At the end of the day, you went on, down the shadowy path. You didn’t want help. You got comfortable in your disorder and you didn’t want to change. We can’t save everyone. And sometimes, sometimes people don’t want to be saved. And you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.

So all of this is to say, all of these tears and words and ideas, all of it is to say that I have to say goodbye now.

I know how this story ends. That if you don’t get help, that if you don’t enter into recovery, that you die. And I… I can’t be waiting for that to happen anymore. I have to walk away. I have to get out all my thoughts and just never look back. And it won’t mean that I’ll never think of you again. Far from it, hun. But I can’t do this. I can’t consume your content when it fills the void of my hunger pains. I can’t keep seeing you shrink and shrink away and for my mind to play its own tricks on me. I can’t go on Reddit for hours to see how you’ve gotten worse, to see the comparisons, to read the truths there, to see what new way you’re using to distract yourself (usually makeup) from the reality of your situation, the way the mods in your streams try to protect you in the name of “care” but is really just veiled attempts at getting your attention and winning over your praise in the same breath that you struggle to take. I can’t do it anymore.

I’m walking away. So even when it kills me inside that I won’t know what you’re doing, HOW you’re really doing (did anyone ever anyways?), if you’re getting better, if you’re getting worse, that I won’t see you until I hear the news of your death and wonder why and how and everything… I still will stay away. Because I have to. I have to protect myself because I can’t protect you, only you can.

I won’t be checking in on you anymore. I’m not going to click on any Youtube videos about you (maybe save for Jaclynn here and there), certainly not any you make and minimize any about you, I’m not going to go to Reddit until I hear that awful, awful news one day, I’m not going to look at comments or tweets from you (I’ve muted, blocked and everything). And I’m not going to write another blog post, not, not until we hear the news. Because I’ll probably have to process then and this has helped already to process it.

If I want to read about anorexia and the dangers of it, I’ll do so by finding some blogs, some other advocates, hell even Jessie Paege or books on the matter. I’ll finish my own story about it (by that I mean a fictional fanfic) and I’ll move forwards.

With or without you, Athena, I will move forwards. Because that’s all we can ever really do.

So, I’m gonna wipe away my tears and set this into motion.

You’ll never see this, Athena but I really do wish you the best. I wish you could be whole again. I wish your life mattered as much to you as it does to so, so, so many people out there. I’m not sure if it would be a curse or a blessing for you to one day realize how severe your condition is and the legacy that you’ve tarnished and left behind because of some bullshit in your brain that you weren’t able to overcome for some reason that we’ll never ever truly know.

I wish you were stronger. I wish you had more time. I wish we could have seen you grow and evolve and become more than everything else. I wish you didn’t have to suffer. I don’t know why some people do more than others, but I’ll have to believe in the Universe and know that it works in mysterious and often unfair ways.

Most of all, I’m going to remember you like this:

Athena.

I’ll remember you smiling. I’ll remember your killer makeup looks. I’ll remember those green eyes and long hair. That hopefulness and life there within you. The idea, the promise, that things were really getting better. I’ll remember you like this. Because I can’t remember you like how you are now. I’m so sorry, Athena. I wish this wasn’t how you left.

Goodbye.


This post got a lot more emotional than I could have ever imagined. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or some other mental heath condition: know that you are NEVER alone, that you CAN get through this, that there is HOPE and HELP available and that you’re so strong, you’re so amazing and you DESERVE to be here and take up space. I wish you all the best. xxx


There’s strength and a certain amount of courage to write so publicly about your life, to share the journey is a blessing and a beacon for others who may be struggling, because it says, β€˜hey, I’ve been where you are and you can get to this stable place, too.’ And that, above all, is what really matters.” — “My Hopes for My Legacy” by Me back in 2018 (article)


Resources: 
NEDA , National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) , Healthy Place .
thank you for reading and if you have any thoughts on this matter or about Athena or want to encourage her or share your story, please feel free to do so down below. if not, that's okay too. i believe in you and i always will. i want the best for her, i do, it's just hard. it's just hard. thank you for stopping by. sending you light, love and hugs. xxx <3 <3 <3

Β 

One Year Hospital Free | & Get Well Soon Card Day #2

happy 1 year hospital free day THUMB - 2.15.19

Trigger Warning: some mentions of suicidality and self-harm


So, two things:

  1. I don’t know what happened with the alignment on this post’s thumb, but it’s not supposed to cut off at the top but for some reason when I download the image it just does that. Weird, for sure.
  2. This post is a day late because I got busy and went out of the house yesterday with my friend David (we went to see “Happy Death Day 2U”–which I plan on sharing as a film review and possibly, maybe seeing again for that review stuff.)

On the plus side, we got to share the most lovely of drinks from Marylou’s which is the s’mores frozen drink; tropical (insert many Oooo’s here) Swedish fish; gummy Starbursts; and brownie flavored Muddy Buddies (I just discovered the peanut butter treats this week at program and fell in love–they’re everything I never knew I needed in my life lol). We also got to hear an interesting romantic song about having a PhD in romance/in the bed, so you know, that’s cool. I don’t know what the actual song is called yet, but maybe I’ll try to search it while I’m procrastinating on this post. Ultimately though, we should probably get back to the previously scheduled program. πŸ™‚

Oh! Actually, the last thing on this tangent that I wanted to mention was that I want to see the remake of Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” that comes out in April by first, of course as one will do, reading the book (and reviewing it), watching the first movie (and reviewing it), watching the sequel (and reviewing it) and then finally watching the remake this year. Or maybe even later, I don’t know, I’m going to be balls deep in Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame when those come out and I AM considering purchasing DVD copies of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War as those are two very prized loves that I have for them, as well as reviewing them too. So many choices and so many decisions… But, that’s the end of that tangent!


So, as for the meat of this post I guess I will naturally go where the words take me which I feel is going to be a bit of a life update and shenanigans I’ve been up to this week as well as talking about the direct topic of this post and why it’s being born. πŸ™‚

So, if you’re new, hello, and welcome and you should know right away that yesterday, Valentine’s day, marked my amazing journey of being one year hospital free! Meaning, my last psychiatric hospitalization occurred back one year ago to the day!

You may be wondering: Raquel, how the hell did you achieve that? And I know, it’s a HUGE deal, really. And it’s awesome and amazing. I really turned my life around completely, like a full 360, because my natural state of being was instability and in the last year I’ve transformed it to stability.

A year ago if I spilled my coffee (as is something that happened recently enough in the last month and a half) I would have interpreted that event as yet another reason I should kill myself (as I’m so incompetent with coffee I must only be incompetent at life and adulting by extension).

But now?

Now it’s just some spilled coffee. Yeah, it sucks and it DOES, and it’s also just a blip in the road.

I’m not without bumps, bad days, triggers and the like. I just have a higher pain tolerance now. I’ve been able to reshape my identity, learn how to accrue positive attention from others (largely through artwork, project ideas, hobbies I enjoy, the MCU, being the center of attention at times, sharing myself authentically and true) and change a lot of things in my life.

Yes, my pride does get in the way sometimes when I do struggle, and I will still struggle, yet it’s different at the same time now. What would have been instability for three to four days lasts only 15 minutes now. Yes, my triggers do accumulate–vulnerability factors from two or three days ago add up gradually with other triggers that may result in a delayed reaction i.e harm ideations that I do NOT want to act on and won’t act on and such.

And the intrusive thoughts haven’t even disappeared either. They’re still there and ever so slightly expanding, I just react to them differently now. If I couldn’t change the fact that I get intrusive thoughts, I’ve learned in this last year how to change my relationship that I have with them. I may not be able to control the images I see in my mind’s eye, but I can change the filter between myself and them.

With scratching self-harm and suicidal ideation fading into the background, other symptoms have arisen for me to focus in on instead. Hair pulling or trichotillomania has come up often, lip picking which I file away as an OCD behavior unless I draw blood which I then differentiate as self-harm; scalp picking when I started to pull away from the trich (no pun intended); skin picking like callouses on my fingers.

Another thing that also came up was my unhealthy relationship with Luna whom I had to disconnect from while completing my final semester of uni and my unhealthy relationship with the Internet (more specifically Youtube).

Additionally, there are some people that I try to “check up on” routinely but that may have devolved into addictive behaviors without me realizing it and even borderlines on a bit obsessiveness. Athena is one example, and instead of checking on her multiple times a day, I’ve cut it down in the last week to just once a day. I also am working on the Canva cards for her and am sending them over to her every 3 days, which I’ll probably make a couple more tonight to get ahead and all.

But with Youtube, there’s this thing I call the “Deep Dive” which is when I say to myself “I’ll just watch one video” and four hours go by and I’m left wondering what the hell happened and how I ended up in this rabbit hole! I often feel pretty bad about it too, which doesn’t help.

I may still check too much on Twitter (multiple times a day) but if it is an issue, I’m not willing to accept it yet. For now, it’s largely just Youtube. And any time people suggest I just turn the Wifi off, I literally hiss and can’t imagine life, in ways, without the Internet. If that’s NOT a problem, I don’t know what is!!

However, for now as I am out of work and out of school (my diploma came in the mail this week!!), I do have to prepare myself for when I will get a job and I won’t be able to be that active and involved in the online communities. Baby steps, though.

As of right now, I find that fanfiction time, listening to music, listening to creepypastas while I play Kindle games or reorganize my room, using Twitter, answering messages and emails and blogging are acceptable forms of Internet usage.

Probably because I have the Internet and it’s so easy to consume mindless material, I’ve strayed away from reading novels and reviewing them and such. Besides, I got so stuck when it came to reading, either focusing in on coursework or feeling as though I had to perform to this higher expectation that I actually sat in the throes of not being able to read or avoiding it at all costs (books I mean, although it’s expanded somewhat and sometimes to fanfics and such) for many, many months.

However!!!

At program today, some of us walked to the nearest library and I picked up 2 graphic novels and 2 novels and I plan on doing some lovely amounts of reading this weekend and was even able to START reading one of the graphic novels to get my toes back into the swing of things. I am VERY excited. With a few extra days off and wanting to re-engage in all that I create and review, I could really increase my chances of maybe one day working with sponsorships and shit for my blog and maybe my Youtube channel!

Additionally, I have some older books I have to read and review and return, and PLENTY of newer-ish books I acquired to read and review and the like. Plus, I want to actually output some of the old book reviews and film reviews notes and such for you guys too.

ALSO, I re-purposed my shipping box from Canva into a Goal for the Day Box and have been achieving those little goals each day. So far:

Day 1: Film a video (M) [COMPLETED]

Day 2: Write a new blog post (Tu) [COMPLETED]

Day 3: Create a watercoloring image (W) [COMPLETED]

Day 4: Wash the dishes (Th) MOVED

Day 5: Cook a meal (F) MOVED

For the moved: Th I wasn’t really home much as I was with David for the evening and I went up to this place for a recovery story interview which was suuuper snazzy and fun!! And then today I didn’t cook but I plan to make chocolate chip pancakes tomorrow and continue to do the dishes today and through the weekend.

The Box, I will have to show you guys in an upcoming post.

I believe it was Wed that I also stopped by Target for chocolate chips and Muddy Buddies and incidentally got a few other things too, shhhh, don’t tell!! πŸ˜‰

But yeah, I’ve been getting closer and closer to reading books again and I’m really hopeful that I can also spend some time writing for fanfics this weekend as well as other blog posts and videos and such.

 

Welp, I think that’s all from me for now! I really want to get offline soon and start reading more. I’m sure I’ll fall into plenty of other ideas soon too. πŸ™‚

As for the main topic of this post: Stability has been utterly amazing for me and I can say that it definitely gets better. No matter how dysregulated you are with your emotions, you can reach a place of peace and stability, health and happiness. Recovery is possible. You can find a life outside of mental health conditions again. You can make it to a year self-harm free, a year out of the hospital, etc. I know that reshaping my identity has been huge for me (shifting away from being ill and being a suicidal blob having to prove my suicidality, to instead an artist and an advocate) and while I do still have low days, I know that it gets better and that I can survive them to get back to the better days. It’s absolutely awful when they’ve got such a tight grip on you, and I can also say that the lies they tell you are just that: LIES.

Being at a long-term day program has been immeasurably helpful for me. DBT especially has been amazing. I think in part that my time out of the hospital went by almost pretty quickly, and when I started to struggle again I would implement what I would normally be doing in the hospital into my present day out of the hospital regimen–so, coming up with regimens, cutting out unhealthy behaviors like ruminating while listening to music and pacing my room; making no time for the mental health conditions to be “chatting” with me like at a tea party (get that reference? ;)); not purposely re-triggering myself (if I got a nasty comment online I block, mute and delete the email and don’t return to it after); continuing my work with advocacy programs and opportunities; shaping who I am and what I value as separate from my mental health (a good way my family therapist June put this was there are so many people with the diagnoses that I live with, so what makes me different from them? That’s still a starting point to more journaling entries I want to explore in the future! And to eventually share with you all <3); creating art and listening to more new music and everything. Yeah, so much. Just…so much.

Even things like playing video games at night before I fall asleep is great and I guess just using skills every day even if I’m not always skillful (who is??) has been a major change. And journaling my accomplishments each day (mostly) and filling out my diary card, planner, five year journal and trich papers has made so much difference.

But, I’m getting off topic. Before I go, here are some of the ideas I have for my blog:

  1. Book reviews
  2. Film reviews
  3. Life updates
  4. Leftover articles
  5. Recovery based projects
  6. Art
  7. Goal for the DaysΒ  (w/ commentary)
  8. Old tags / New tags
  9. Revisiting old topics (A- Z challenge; song a day’s)
  10. Journaling based entries (like from my own journals into a blog post)
  11. Art therapy/Teachable moments
  12. Fanfics/creative writings

And for my Youtube channel:

  1. Life updates
  2. ART
  3. IOS
  4. Book reviews
  5. Film reviews
  6. Support Stands
  7. Vlogs
  8. Collabs
  9. Hauls
  10. Goals for the Day (weekly based)
  11. Lessons Learned Lectures (L3’s)
  12. Recovery based projects
  13. Article read-outs
  14. AND MORE!

I honestly can’t think of anything else other than wanting to share a haul of Target stuff and things and yeah, I’m tired ahaha. This has been a very long post…. I will end it now. πŸ˜‰

Hope this was interesting and neat and fascinating for you guys!! It was for me and I can’t WAIT to jump back into reading now. πŸ™‚

Have a good one!!!

❀ ❀ ❀

Oh, I forgot, today’s get well soon card for Athena:

GWSC Day 2 - Created 2.12.19

I Googled a picture of her doggo for this one. πŸ™‚

What Stability Taught Me | Article F18

Featured image:

IMG_9628 ==xxxx

I still really love this photo of my baby Mokeys. ❀

Photographer & Author credit: Raquel Lyons (AKA me!)


My symptoms of mental health conditions did not begin to surface until I started college at the age of nineteen. For the first two years, they were relatively dormant until I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions when I was twenty-one and starting my fall semester in 2014.

 

I ultimately bring this up because I want to say that I knew what life was like before the reign of a mental health condition. In 2015 I started the next few years of my life with multiple hospitalizations. I went in and out of treatments–such as medication adjustments, hospital stays, exposure response prevention treatments for the OCD, therapy appointments twice a week for a year, a stay for five weeks at the OCD-Institute and a few repeated partial programs. I self-harmed on and off during the duration of my time in treatment, attempted suicide multiple times and didn’t always stay as safe as I could.

 

It was a whirlwind of years of which I lost my identity to. I became so obsessed and enthralled by the idea of suicide that I began to identify as a suicidal blob that had something to β€œprove” and could only prove so by acting on my thoughts.

 

At the start of 2018 I fell back into a darker spiral than usual, a deeper depression where I genuinely no longer believed in hope, peace and stability. I wrote articles that were out of character, I wrote journal entries about my thoughts and fantasized with a glorified perception of my final acts.

 

But luckily for me, I was given an ultimatum by family to enter myself into the hospital, and I took it. Within the next week I began a partial program where almost a month later I would return to and confess suicidal plans and enter into the hospital once again.

 

In three years I had twelve hospitalizations and four minor suicide attempts.

 

In preparing for this article, I thought 2016 was the year I went nine months hospital free, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t think that was the case at all.

 

If the latter is true, this is the first time in almost four years where I have been solidified in stability for the last six months like feet in wet cement. I have been so stable for such an accrued amount of time that I’ve gotten a glimpse into what life without a chronic illness is like again. And god is it freeing.

 

In six months I have reshaped and transformed my identity. I have juggled many mediums of art like an expert, I have written copious amounts of fan fiction, I’ve done photography shoots, completed a summer course, returned to In Our Own Voice presentations and made new friends.

 

The effort, time, patience, compassion and self-love that I’ve implemented into my life as I’ve attended my day program three days a week for the past six months has been life changing. β€œPassages” has been life saving for me. I have truly blossomed, grown and made better again.

 

For an undetermined amount of time I’ve been attending the dialectical behavior therapy intensive program at Passages that meets for review of homework assignments, lecture and diary cards (a tracking system for thoughts, urges and feelings and the usage of skills).

 

And in that, my recovery has not been linear. I’ve had a few crises over the summer that I didn’t come out completely unscathed. Each day is a continual choice to use skills, whether consciously or not, and to maintain my wellness regimen that is centered around no time granted to ruminations, finding activities to keep myself busy, coming up with a score of the day on a one to ten scale, filling out my planner, journaling my accomplishments of the day as well as filling out my diary card.

 

With this system in place, I’ve been able to track my time, my days, my emotions, thoughts and any patterns that have emerged within them. As suicide and scratching forms of self-harm have erased into the background, scalp picking and trichotillomania have taken center stage. The amount of times I’ve lost my brows and eyelashes in the last year is too many to count.

 

Every day is a new day and while I still live with mental health conditions, I have learned to not become them anymore. I have also learned that anything I am able to achieve in life is doubly impressive for the obstacles I have to overcome. I have been reaffirmed that my voice is powerful and my story matters, so I continue my work in advocacy and, I hope, being inspirational for others to follow in my footsteps. We are, after all, survivors radiating badassery.


Article written: August 25.2018


Author’s Note:

I have two other articles I’ve written before the semester began (this past Tuesday) that I will be adding to my blog within the week. From there, I will probably re-ignite some commentary on mental health TED talks, suicide prevention (minimally), a treatment 101 series and more from here and there. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments down below! Or email me privately, if you’d prefer.

Thank you for reading!!

Stay safe,

❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ xxxx