It’s that Time Again: Where Mental Health Matters… #StompOutStigma

A new thumb for a new year. Stay tuned for more to come!! Made with Canva.

A very short post, this will be.

I actually began this post back on the first day of May 2022, but I had a spell of perfectionism and everlasting procrastination come over me, plus then exhaustion so I held off. Which, is possibly ironic, I suppose.

But yes, this will be a short post to state that for the month of May 2022, I’ll be gravitating to more mental health awareness posts and recovery tales and stories across my platforms (this blog, this Youtube channel, this Instagram account, all the same usernames as here).

I’ll be doing things across platforms like:

  1. Tags (mental health advocate tag (my own creation from last year that I never debuted, oops); mental health tag)
  2. Song A Day’s (check out my Archives if you’re curious as to what these are) (Mental health editions)
  3. Life updates
  4. ART creations: Insta for some photography and drawings (some new photos I’ve taken in particular that I can do a cool before and after for the state of my alumni college), videos discussing/reacting to my own artwork I made during my early mental health recovery journey, art time lapse vids just for funsies, the usual hauls for vids too, advocacy based vids, shout-out vids, any adult coloring pages, identity and hobbies, updating fan fiction stories, etc.
  5. Books content
  6. Films content
  7. Journaling-like posts on here
  8. Recovery burnout (vid)
  9. Shout-outs (Insta, blog, besides the vids ones)
  10. Shorter vids and posts on here.
  11. Things that I struggle most with today (perfectionism in particular)
  12. Advocacy stuff—and promoting my personal and team page for the NAMI Walk 2022 this year. Please donate if you can!!

And probably more things that I can’t think of right now!!!!

All in all, much of this will lead up to the NAMI Walk but it will also continue afterwards as well (the Walk is May 21st). So, help me raise some money or share my posts or promote my videos and if there’s something that YOU are creating that you want some feedback on, let me know that too!!! I’d love to help support and network and work together on this larger mission of bringing mental health conditions and their recoveries to the forefront of the conversation.

Thank you so much if you read this far! I know it’s a little late but I’m trying. Also I could do some cool shout-outs for Insta posts that have been helping my mental health and recovery journey if that’s something that would be interesting for everyone across platforms!! I’ll also go live on my Youtube channel at least twice this month–posssssibly tomorrow, 5/5/22 but I’m not sure just yet. Regardless, have a happy and safe mental health awareness month and if you know of any tags being utilized for this year’s campaign, leave them down below!!! See you all again soon.

xxx

— Raquel

Bridging the Gap | #WordPrompt #MonthlyWordPrompt 2022

Taken from the monthly word prompt March 2022 WordPress newsletter I got a few weeks ago. Not my image. Just using it as a jumping off point. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š

From partner, to ex.

From friend, to enemy.

From hating my job, to loving my next one.

From active, to inactive.

From free, to held tight. Closed off. Separate. In search of perfection. (Perfection doesn’t exist.) Perfection, the chase of it–the fall, the hurdle, the jump, it all leads back to that: a world growing smaller. And smaller. And smaller. Until you snap or there’s nothing left. And still, still it’ll take. Take. Take. No matter how much you give it back. It just takes.

From present, to absent.

From well, to unwell, to well again.

The world rightens itself. The job takes time. But it does straighten. It does fix itself. There’s work that goes into it, of course, yes, and still, this life, these circumstances, they are imperfect. They are temporary. They do not last forever.

Mortality. An uncomfortable subject among most. Feared of, given power to. Comes with an expiration date. Life is terminal. Got that from a quote I saw the other day. Mortality… this existential awareness, that life will be and life will cease. We just don’t know when or why or how. It’s scary. Justifiably so. And yet, it shall come. One way or another. It shall come. So maybe being aware of our fear, of being aware of our circumstances and for taking this day, this moment, in the sea of trillions of moments we will experience, maybe that is all that matters. Maybe that is all that cares at the end of the day. At the start of the day. Maybe it’s that. Always, always that.

From unintentional, to intentional.

From loss, to growth.

From wondering, to wandering.

From writing less, to writing.

There exist gaps here. Gaps in life, gaps in wonder, gaps in the street, in the pitfalls from one foot to the next. In the way the breeze carries through the air. In the way that a seed forms a true plant. In the way a dog barks, half a bark, before fully committing to another breath of air. Hackles raised, shackles upon their wrists. In the way the train tracks are uneasy. The way thunder claps following lightning. The way the rain patters upon spiderwebs, just trying to make it, trying to exist, trying to live.

Aren’t we all just trying to live?

There are gaps here. From writing much and writing long and writing enough, to silence.

Quiet, quiet silence.

…The Void, if you will.

But maybe where there was once space, then emptiness, maybe there can be space again.

It begins with this moment. One moment. One choice. One change. To pick up the pen, to scatter words onto a keyboard, fingers steady, music blaring, the mood set in, fitting even.

To update. To share. To encourage. To love. To bring hope. To provide light. To explore. To connect. To be not alone. To be whole.

Maybe… maybe not always in all the right places.

But I think I’m finding it… This gap. This bridge.

How do I get from here to there? I’ve often wondered. How do I change the story that I’m writing? Because I enjoyed it once. I loved it once. I was it once. And now… over the years, when I got stable, it vanished.

And I’d like it back. I want it back. I want that for myself, and I want that for my Readers. My friends. My chosen ones.

So I write. I plug in the headphones, I play the song, I count the words as they scrawl past. And I begin.

I begin.

I choose to begin.

Because only with experience, with action, with consideration, with doing does the gap grow smaller. Or, if not fully smaller, than the perception of it grows smaller. And that, that I can tolerate.

That I can live with.

So I begin.

I try.

I move forwards.

From ex, to being enough just for me. For growing into who I can become. For planting my seeds and nurturing my own recovery.

From enemy, to just not in contact with right now. Yet hopeful that in the future, this, too, can change. If I want it, if they want it, it can change.

From loving my job, to excelling at my job. Growing, putting in time and dedication and making a steady and uplifting paycheck.

From inactive, to I’m here again. I’m back. It’s me. Welcome aboard.

From tightly held, to loosening the grip. Because maybe not everything has to be held onto so tightly. Maybe freedom is also in the letting go.

From absent, to welcome back. To showing up. To rebuilding. To regrowth. To reshaping the path ahead.

From well, to well, to well. And some sprinkles of unwell here and there. Because only with the darkest of nights can be truly appreciate and be grateful for the brightest of days.

So I write.

And I write.

And I commit to writing. Because I commit to life and the dreams I have yet to make happen and the accomplishments I have yet (and presently can celebrate) to swim in. I commit. Because it’s my life. And I have that choice. I have that responsibility for what I do with it.

And I want to make something big.

I hope, I do, that maybe one day you can too.

Until then, my Readers.

Welcome back to RecoverytoWellness.

And truly: Where survivors radiate badassery.

— πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š Raquel


Written: 3.30.2022

Music: “Dynasty” by MIIA

Estimated time length to write, edit and publish: <45 mins.


Information regarding my socials:

I’m most active now on Instagram (recoverytowellness), Youtube (I go live on there 2-3 times a month now; RecoverytoWellness), Discord (still super new to this but email me or comment if you’d like to join me there or eventually hop on the RecoverytoWellness server I’ll make there!! A hub for in between Youtube videos, lives, fun stuff and books related things (like book clubs and book content on my socials)), WordPress here of course, if you’d like to see some of my designs on Canva annnnnd I think that’s it. OH! My fan fiction stories can be found on FFN (Unmasked Potential) and AO3 (UnmaskedPotential) in case you’re looking for some creative writing Loki centered Avengers fanfic stories!!!

I’m getting closer and closer to deciding to just delete my Twitter account. More on that in the future and the reasoning and settling upon that, I think.

But yes, check me out wherever you feel the most comfortable!! Much more to come on here soon. Wishing you all a blessed week and good rest of your day. Sending light and love. xxx Thank youuuu

“Almost Everything” (2018) | BES (Oct., Nov., Dec. 2021)


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Almost Everything” (2018) by Anne Lamott

Notes on Hope; ((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Suicide, specific suicide methods, suicidality, OCD, depression, mental health conditions, addiction/substance use disorders, perfectionism, eating disorders, topic of weights/ED behaviors (specific weights), dysfunctional/otherwise unhealthy families, stigma, secrets, “behind closed doors”, intrusive thoughts, romanticizing EDs/active substance use, casual engagement of self-harm/”picking up cutting”, suicide pact, toxic relationships.


THEMES:

Philosophy, life, death, suffering, struggling, hope, memoir, life lessons, spirituality, paradoxes, dialectics, retail therapy, health, recovery, creativity, storytelling, existentialism.


SUMMARY:

Hi, so it’s been a while again since I worked on this blog post of a Book Exploration Station. That said, and the roughness of this post and how imperfect it is, I’m going to try my hardest to pull together all the last stitches and details and make this something I can finally post and then, finally, lastly, be done with it all and wipe my hands clean so I can move forward to the next thing (the next books, the next words, the next stories).

So this particular book is non-fiction and begins with a poem that I wish I was more understanding of its significance for the way the author relates to it and the story she later goes on to tell. Like, it was featured but I don’t know why. What did it mean to Lamott? What sparked something in her soul for it and why wasn’t or couldn’t that be explored within her text later on? It didn’t seem all that relevant. I definitely picked up that I was supposed to pick up something from it but I have no idea what.

It’s a tad frustrating and a let down, I’m afraid. Which, I suppose is a good way to summarize how I felt reading this story. I’ll get into that a lot more later. Hmmm, now that I’ve reread it, I suppose it makes sense:

I think Lamott’s entire book here is meant to show the paradox of a dialectic and that two opposing things can exist in the same space and that this small poem is also an example of that. It sets up what she tries to propose as her life and the way she’s viewed life. So, I guess just, on the surface it seems distant and unexplained and later it’s still unexplained and also very fitting. Poetic, even.

A good and simplistic way to sum up this book, I think, is this:

“This is a very profound book. A little nutty, but very profound” — Me, p. 34

I know this description isn’t going in the way I want it to, and that’s a frustrating process. But I’ve spent too much time on this piece and I’ve spent too much time putting off dealing with this post because of all that anxiety, stress and avoidance so I have to just see this through. I CAN say the rest of this review goes pretty well with some really great gems in it, so please keep reading when you have the time! I’d say this book overall was okay. It wasn’t super remarkable or something I’d carry along with me consciously upon the rest of my life’s journey but it was a nice blip and something to think about for a time. Like, I’ll carry a piece of it, it just won’t be on my entire world’s radar. Something faded and in the background works though. It’s definitely a very philosophical book if you like that kind of thing! And it also brings forth a lot of sharp points that are sometimes hard to digest–the types of truths you don’t want to hear but that you need to hear all the same, like from the mouth of a good friend who refuses to only tell you what you want to hear, instead they’ll tell you what you don’t want to be true and you’ll thank them for it later because you didn’t realize how MUCH you did in fact need to hear that. If you’re looking for a book to make you think this would definitely be it. Just be careful if you’re in recovery though because there’s a lot of inflammatory words and depictions in this. It doesn’t shy away from hard topics but it also doesn’t warn you about them either, which I think would have been better if it had.

Personally, I like trigger warnings because it hands back the power into my own hands where I can then decide for myself with all the information given if I wish to proceed or not. I didn’t appreciate or like that a book seemingly on hope and light and positivity, was immediately throwing me into the deep end because of the language it used and specific methods of suicide it gave ideas to. I almost tossed aside the entire book but we know how I am about reading. Still, it was super unexpected and threw me around for a bit. I just would have liked a head’s up. But yes, onward to the next bit!


BOOK LENGTH:

189 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

Let us note: Thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are temporary. Actions are a whole other beast. And let’s work to continue to dispel the myth that suicide is ever a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem. Another, better, way of phrasing that would be “suicide is a permanent action to a temporary crisis.”

Let us also note and ponder this: At what point does being specific about methods of self harm or self induced death in a fashion such as a book or web post, when does that become too detrimental and dangerous for anyone else out there reading it? I know I’m not much of one to talk, I distinctly recall some of this factoring into my time online over the years, while I was struggling in recovery (that’s probs the most dirt you’d find on me, let’s be real) but yes, at what point is that information more suitable for a therapy session rather than a publishable material? It’s a wonder. A thought. I think we really can run into trouble when it’s more and more specific. I get generally defining a self harm mode, but things to do with what is used specifically or the gore and romanticization of it, that’s tricky territory.

For this book, I really felt at first that I wasn’t walking into a minefield of methods and diagnoses. It was a book on hope but it tackled really heavy things that I nearly walked away from it entirely. Also, there were no trigger warnings. So it could have been super hopeful or super triggering. It landed somewhere in the middle but damn. A warning would have been nice, I think. Hence why I do these reviews for the mental health conditions person out there who may be wandering about looking for some books to read or care to read my thoughts on the ones I choose for myself, haha. Best for me to read it first and then offer one perspective about it later, especially when there are warnings that should have been stated but never would (or is that too harsh a judgment?) be.

As for this particular book, it read to me that the author suffers more from OCD intrusive thoughts than genuine suicidal ideation. And that actually confessing it to those she’s with or in a book could actually be a compulsion stringing her along (which is what happened to me, too). I think because it seems more OCD in nature, it’s not something to be too worried about (easier said than done), because it won’t lead into other complicated territories (like what happened to me, damn you co-morbid diagnoses!).

Β 

“Parents are blown away by something this catastrophic [death of their children] and their roots barely stay in the shifting soil. But life holds on. Little by little, nature pulls us back, back to growing. This is life. We are life” — Lamott, 2018, p. 12

I really just love and enjoy this sentiment and statement a lot. Thought it was particularly moving and I’ve always enjoyed the little sapling/tree roots into the ground to stay within the premises of life. What do you think?

“And that seed pushes up through, no matter what, because this is how life is constructed–to live” — Lamott, 2018, p. 13

I find this to just be beautifully said. A gem within the darkness.

Β 

“I have felt ectoplasmic flickers of my father and best friends, life forces that have been snuffed out in the human realm but exist, like candles in another room” — Lamott, 2018, p.16

This is pretty much the best indicator of how this author writes in this book. Very philosophical and educated and with a depth that most others don’t possess or don’t quite wield in the same manner. It’s refreshing, albeit confusing at times, but still, refreshing. xx

Is it normal to question your perception of reality? Of your sanity?

Or is it more abnormal not to?

Descartes would have a field day with this. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…πŸ˜Š

Β 

On p. 22, I highlight how this book is very philosophical but also question why I should take her statements and experiences of life as fact? It made me feel suspicious.

“Every day we’re in the grip of the impossible conundrum: the truth that it’s over in a blink, and we may be near the end, and that we have to live as if it’s going to be okay, no matter what” — Lamott, 2018, p. 25

The accuracy of this is off the charts!! It’s beautifully crafted, once again and what is the true alternative? We can have moments sitting at the kitchen table where we realize, one day I’m going to die and my life will be over and whatever good (or bad) I did will be what’s left and I’ll just be a memory to those around me. That one day, the story will end, in a final bow, and whatever comes next will come to be, though how aware of it we are is up in the air. And then after having that realization: well, time to get back to the present moment where I’m just drinking my milk with my cookies all over again, like I haven’t just thought of this big mega brain thing of how little things matter before that final fall, and somehow I have to transition back into my present day life and push aside this big moment that I can do very little to prepare for! It’s absurd to have these moments, what I call existential awareness. It’s not truly a crisis but it’s a weird moment where I realize this and then am aware that I’m realizing it and then I go back to whatever I was doing to cope with that realization (most probably a Youtube video, let’s be real haha). But yeah, just, so much truth is in this statement above. We have to believe everything’s going to be okay and we’ll be alive to experience it, even though our experiences of things is time sensitive, we just don’t know when or how or why. Life is a very, very strange mystery.

A hard truth, yet necessary:

“Peace of mind is an inside job, unrelated to fame, fortune, or whether your partner loves you. Horribly, what this means is that it is also an inside job for the few people you love most desperately in the world. We cannot arrange lasting safety or happiness for our most beloved people. They have to find their own ways, their own answers” — Lamott, 2018, p. 35

You cannot force another person to live or love or be in recovery, no matter how much we wish we could, lasting recovery and getting help has to begin and end with them, themselves. You cannot make someone do something they don’t want to do. You support them, you offer advice (if they’ve asked for it, and sometimes even when they haven’t, depending on how well you know them and especially when it’s hard to hear), you be there for them, you accept them and you hope to god that they find it along the way on their own, but you’re never really super sure on it. Lasting recovery and getting help starts with them. Unfortunately, you can try forcing recovery but it probably won’t stick. You can’t help someone unless they want to be helped. It’s a horrible affair, clearly. It’s just how life draws the hand at times. I wish it weren’t true. But it’s not up to you to rescue them. They have to find a way to rescue themselves. (Which is possible, by the way!!)

Β 

[about rescuing your kids/friends/partner] “What’s the harm in that? The harm is in the unwanted help or helping them when they need to figure things out for themselves” — Lamott, 2018, p. 45

I found this to be a particularly hard truth. It seems very unnatural to my senses, as a helper and fixer. But it’s necessary and needed. It just hurts to learn and know. πŸ€”πŸ˜•

“You can raise and care for your nearest and dearest the best you can, put them in the best schools, rehab, or condo, and never, ever give up on their having the best possible life available. But if you do so thinking you can rescue them with your good ideas and your checkbook, or get them to choose a healthy, realistic way of life, that mistake will make both of you much worse than you already are” — Lamott, 2018, p. 47

Well, damn, isn’t that some tough shit news to learn of. Not the type of information I’d seek out myself but very necessary as a reminder!! It’s hard to think it’s your responsibility to save someone or think you have to rescue them when really there’s little we can do to fix or help here on the outside of them. Of course, one can try and help with validation and good faith and words, but thinking it’s up to you to save them? No, that’s up to them. They have to save themselves. Which is really tough, of course, and necessary to be reminded of. Sometimes just shedding that layer of ‘rescue them’ like a cloak can uplift the burden we carry when we fail or it doesn’t work out. So, lift up this layer and carry on a little lighter for the next moment. πŸ–€πŸ–€

Hearing the journey it took the author (and mother) of an ill son with substance use disorder to reach the point of removing her help (that was really enabling) from her son by keeping him in jail and how the parents of unlike kids asked, how did you do that, jail is so cold and dangerous, for Lamott to be like ‘Wow, bummer’ is just SUCH a glimpse of strength, power and inspiration. She still thinks keeping her son in jail and not bailing him out, helped him more than bailing him out would have, and that had she bailed him out, he would have wound up dead. Because helping him and enabling him wasn’t helping him at all, maybe just helping her own psyche, but when she removed this notion that she could rescue him and accepted that only HE could do that, she found freedom and she found the ability to let go for him to take up the reigns of holding on himself. Genuinely inspiring (p. 51) I found this so captivating, engrossing and true. xxx

Β 

Next, at the end of this chapter, Lamott also explains how she had to accept that her son wasn’t going to ask her for help as his mother and would instead look towards others in his meetings and how he would one day tell others the same thing they told him, etc. There was a sense of community that helped him most. I guess, my point is, that this makes me wonder how do I maintain my own sanity with my loved one Fai in a similar self-destructive cycle and where I fit in. Also, I miss a sense of community. I keep searching for that online. So far, results are mixed. πŸ’”

Β 

“We see this toward the end of many people’s lives, when everything in their wasted bodies fights to stay alive, for a few more kisses or bites of ice cream, one more hour with you. Life is still flowing through them: life IS them” — Lamott, 2018, p. 63

A beautiful and captivating description of the fragility of life amongst all of its beauty and its meaning to hold on for one more second, knowing it’s too good to waste, too good to do anything but pause for a moment, recognize the absurdity that is life and what it contains, appreciate it and let it go to pass, so that other lives and souls and bodies can come to be and to experience similar states that is this thing called life.

“No one can take this hatred off me. I have to surrender it every time I become aware of it. But I don’t want my life’s ending to be that I was toxic and self-righteous, and I don’t know if my last day here will be next Thursday or in twenty years. Whenever that day comes, I want to be living, insofar as possible in “joy though you’ve considered all the facts”” — Lamott, 2018, p. 83

I felt at the time I read this book and at the point of writing and editing this review that this line hits like a sack of bricks onto my bare feet. It just rocks so much and radiates so much power to it. Which I wholly believe in. Some great, great words and larger even sentiments. Do you feel the same?

Β 

“My friends’ novels are taking years, because they have to dig deep, and insist on being true to the story, to the story they are called, assigned or moved to tell, and on being honest about what they found, instead of telling the story they thought or wished they’d found. Writing that carries truth uplifts us, teaches empathy, purpose, dignity” — Lamott, 2018, p. 93

I feel like this is such a true and deep running canal for story telling and writing. I know it’s something I always try and remember in my own fan fiction and even with my other more original based creative projects: be true to the story. Sometimes what I write about, especially in fics, is really dark and there’s a large weight in carrying that, but I also do refuse to dampen the blow of what I feel in my soul is the ‘right’ thing for that character or chapter or situation, that there’s some reason I feel compelled in that direction and that I have enough faith in myself and my characters that they can survive it and grapple with it and overcome it. Of course, I give proper warnings and such if it IS heavier material in the chapter or story itself but yeah I don’t really shy away from hard stuff and it reminds me to make sure I also take in and explore all the brighter spots that come thereafter too. To highlight all the hope and all the joy and all the purpose and meaning that comes with life, because life isn’t just pain. I think that’s important; to highlight the dichotomy of both: life is pain and life is beauty.

It always mind boggled me when I’d read a good fanfic and the writer would promise a follow-up to the story or a new chapter if it ONLY got a certain amount of comments or likes. I’m very much a ride or die kind of person, so for me, delaying something because of what other people think is just absurd. At least, in the sense that if you don’t comment X things I won’t continue the story. Like, for me, the story will always be continued. It might be literal YEARS until I continue it. I guess on a related note, these days I’m frozen sometimes in the fact that I’m worried that a couple of my stories with larger followings will be disappointing in some way or that it won’t be as good and “perfect” as I want it to be or that I have to be in the “right headspace” to write for it or what if people don’t like it…

But I always strive to be as true to the story and myself—all these issues NOW are a part of my process (and wasn’t before 2016 when I began most of my current present day ongoing fanfic stories) but like I wouldn’t just rely on other people on whether or not I continue something. Like, if I started it, I’m going to finish it. I’m not swayed by ‘Oh, I’ll only continue this story if I get 30 likes/reviews’ To me, it’s like, ‘No, I’ve started this story, I’m going to finish it. Whether people like it or not, I will write it how I see it happening and be true to what I think the story desires and calls for.’ I hope that makes sense!!!!

I have gotten more aware of how people might like or dislike something, and that that is okay, and I do appreciate feedback of course too, I just also can’t see myself downgrading a story to only if other people want it a certain way if I don’t myself believe that that’s the true way for the story. I’m probably rambling now ahaha. Sorry!! I guess my point is just: Be true to the story. No matter how dark or how bright it gets, be true to it. If you are truthful to how the story wants to be told and you’re pulled along for the ride and it’s authentic, that’s all that matters. Of course, you’ll want readers, but if no one read it at the end of the day and you were true to it and yourself then there will be satisfaction there and maybe if no one sees it today, maybe three years from now so many will and maybe it’ll give them some flicker of comfort or fear or wonder or awe. You have that power as the writer. Wield it wisely. πŸ¦„πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ€πŸ’š

“The universe is usually telling us the same story, that our lives are rich and fluid and infinitely mysterious; that we only thought we were stuck, that nothing stays the same for long” — Lamott, 2018, p. 95

I find this to be so refreshing and brilliant. A beautiful sentiment to share with others who may be struggling–particularly in my life, Fai and Vanessa (my partner). πŸ”†πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’™

“Gratitude is seeing how someone changed your heart and quality of life, helped you become the good parts of the person you are” — Lamott, 2018, p. 117

I love this. Isn’t this just about everything? One could say….almost everything? πŸ˜πŸ™‚πŸ˜…

“Of course, when certain people die, there is anguish. We will never get over their deaths, and we’re not supposed to” — Lamott, 2018, p. 117

Grief is a journey, not a phase by phase destination. It’s fluid and murky and yucky and necessary. It’s the cost to have loved and be loved. It is everything, almost, and ever present. But because you carry it doesn’t mean it has to consume you. Be aware of the journey you have with your grief and allow it space to hurt and be felt, that’s all any emotion really wants: an awareness of it, a letting the shitty-ness be felt and then, gradually taken up by other emotions and other life experiences and more that goes on, because life, life does go on and so we have to decide how we’re going to go along with it: are we stuck in the past and those damning past hurts or have we moved through and onward, over the next hill, the wolves only a distant howl to an otherwise bright sky? That choice, that is truly the only one, maybe the most important one, up to us. πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

“You can’t force people to be willing to face their pain and anger, to own the ugliness that is in all of us. You can’t. I’ve tried so hard” — Lamott, 2018, p. 142

A horribly true fact. This arises at the point of the book where two people in substance use disorders make a suicide pact so if that is something that could trigger you I’d miss over this book. It is still a horribly true fact though, you can’t force people to get better and that’s exhausting and draining and horrible. You can offer what you can and help support them and encourage. But it’s not your place to fight their battles. Only they can do that. And they have to want it, too, in order to do it. Phew.


flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  • I really liked the style of the opening page for the book, with the gold dots on the top and bottom borders. That was really sweet. Plus I also enjoyed the symbols under the chapter headers for each one as well. Just a fancy nice touch
  • There are some great cardiophile moments in this book, huzzah! πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’›β€
  • p. 41’s ending reminded me and made me think of Loki in my D&D fanfic. It made me think of adolescence and Loki and his family in that setting, a sense of belonging through new friends and how that will eventually grow and revitalize him and such. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™‚ At least, I think that’s what I liked about it hahaha It’s been a while again (12/11)
  • (of shoving food into your maw) “Maybe you do [have to shove it all down]. Sometimes one just does and there is nothing wrong with this” — Lamott, 2018, p. 44

    • I enjoyed and appreciated this small validation. It’s nice! πŸ˜‹
  • “Life just damages people. There is no way around this. Not all the glitter and concealer in the world can cover it up” — Lamott, 2018, p. 59

    • Maybe it’s just me but I LOVE this line. The glitter and concealer… Maybe because I’m slowly getting into makeup myself but yeah I don’t know I just thought it really stood out to me. It’s fancy. And true. Life is hard and bleak sometimes (and also hope and light). Sometimes it’s really hard to sparkle up a dark picture. And sometimes such efforts are futile to begin with. Life is hard and unforgiving for whatever reason (and maybe not knowing why contributes to this pain) and in the efforts of paradox, it is also bright and opaque and beautiful. We haven’t quite gotten to this latter part for this chapter it’s from yet but the overall arching theme is there.
  • “We do get a taste of the spheres in birdsong (how nature is beautiful and restorative to the human soul), eclipses, the surf, tangerines. In the dark, we see the stars. In the aftermath of the devastating fire, the sun rose red” — Lamott, 2018, p. 62

    • I LOVE how this was said. It’s just so fruitful and amazing, I find. That, while life is so hard, it’s also so, so beautiful and gives back.
  • So there’s this interesting concept that got the gears turning in my head during this book: This notion that as the Reader reading the work of a Writer, you get taken out of your element either because you can relate or because you can’t and it reminded me of this realization I had in my early twenties (when I was far more creative than I am these days), where I realized that some of the life experiences I gave to my characters, particularly if they were set earlier than my chronological age, were experiences I had “missed” out on living but that I could live through them instead. I don’t know if that makes sense but like I remember I was sitting in the old science building of my university working on my laptop and maybe taking photos and I was just like “Damn, when I write about Susie in a mosh pit, I’ve never done that myself but I can live it viscerally through her” or just generally realizing that maybe the Craft doesn’t always reflect the Experience (like my recent creativity discussion post). It was just like a sudden dawning epiphany that I could write about Susie in a mosh pit all I wanted to but because she did that at nineteen, and I never had at twenty-one, I was never going to be able to go back to experience that or have that as a part of my own life. Like, I guess, it was just this notion that one day I will cease to exist but all these characters and things I’ve done will (hopefully) live on. Like, even if I was one person via body, I was made up of many more in soul because I was creative. Does that make sense? I could probs do a whole post on that separately if anyone is interested. Maybe I’ll start a Creativity Discussion series for this blog…. I don’t know, that was just something on my own mind. I just remember it as a sudden epiphany and existential awareness that was pretty wild at the time. It’s interesting to have a creative mind!! I think that creativity and the characters and plots and scenarios (our imagination, shortly put) we create in our minds is such an incredible talent and to craft that into something so believable that other people buy (physically and metaphorically) it is just such a wondrous thing. It’s wild if you think about it too long. But it’s cool. Art is nice, isn’t it? What do you get out of your craft? What keeps you going when maybe the audience for you is mute? I’d love to know and learn your perspective!!! I definitely will toy with this ‘creativity discussion’ thing too. I think that has some great potential….
  • Β 
  • (I can’t tell if I highlighted this enough so here’s another short verbiage on it: It was that strange notion that my characters would get to experience things that I no longer could because of time passing and experiences and life happening that happens for them differently than it did for me. But that even if I couldn’t have experienced it myself based on how time fell for me, didn’t mean they couldn’t or I couldn’t live vicariously through them. It was that daunting realization that even if my characters were false, they felt very real to me. And they had their own hopes and dreams and stories to tell that I was just the messenger to. I don’t know, it’s… very interesting. I can almost feel them shaking about in my skull and coming out from under the cobwebs… I should do some reading soon about imagination and creativity and all of that. I’d love to re-access all that they have and had to offer. I miss that… A lot.)
  • I also liked the notion on p. 79 about those who have been nearly destroyed may explain why they also destroy. Reminds me of Loki a lot and was something I particularly liked and wanted to highlight here. 😊😊
  • p. 89’s got me questioning myself as to why I want to write and publish books. Is it for creative release? To add my voice to the many others out there? To create? To make a career out of it? To earn money? To do it like those who garden? Interesting question with interesting answers….
  • Any time I see the word “unmasked” it makes me think of my FFN and AO3 account’s name (Unmasked Potential). Same for when I hear “Lighthouse” by GRL the song. Reminds me to do videos, that and my BANNERS outro hahaha. Love it. But yeah, this book mentioned unmasked at one point and so I was thinking, oh! I should write some fanfic soon. Still in progress with that idea currently hooray!!
  • Trees are fucking awesome and we should have more of them (not less! Never less!) πŸŒ³πŸŽ„πŸŒ²πŸŒ΄
  • By the end of the book, when Lamott is commenting on school shootings, she raises the idea that instead of focusing on all that’s wrong with the world, what if instead we focused on what comes after–the humanity and goodness in that that arrives or the new land that still breathes and grows after a fire, etc. She suggests where placing our focus and attention could bring forth another perspective or incidence of thought (so instead of just focusing in on the tragedies themselves, where else could we turn for an uplifting narrative? Even if it’s one we’re just creating for ourselves). I bring that up because it reminded me of an interview story I watched (and was the original inspiration for miscellaneous reviews for this blog, though I never fully wrote it back then, although doesn’t mean I can’t next year!) about the Nice terror attacks a few years back and how the girl the storytelling focused on wanted to give more power to the man who was there to hold her hand after the blast than the guy who perpetrated the evil acts. That always really stuck with me. And it’s such a fantastic strength and spin on what would otherwise be a horribly terrible bad after taste for humanity but is instead a celebration that love always wins. It’s beautiful, honestly.
  • I loved this notion: “The characters in your story are real people to you and include you but they aren’t yet real people to your audience” — Lamott, 2018, p. 96-97
    • I just loved that this is so true for fiction. It’s so true and makes it such a wonder how imagination works and how storytelling is so powerful and so useful and so artistic. As the Writer, you know your Characters so well, but the audience doesn’t yet, and how you go about showing them that and pulling them along to witness whatever story you wish and are destined to show, that’s so remarkable. It also reminded me once again to do more writing soon which I have been able to do so far with my mental health fanfic! It’s actually the first time I’ve EVER written scenes out of order and am then pulling them together to form a cohesive chapter that I plan to update before the end of the year! Huzzah!!! More updates on that in the future (and I’m planning to get this post out by the weekend before Christmas, so, hooray). That’s the pull and the drive I have for today (12/16) at least! [[**Oops, got this out after Christmas, but the intention was there and this is still something (just one day late!)!!]]
  • “More than any other sentence I have come across, I love Ram Dass’s line that when all is said and done, we are all just walking each other home” — (Lamott, 2018, p. 109

  • What I love about the above quote is that it has such a touching significance that I really adore. A beautiful soliloquy, a timeless tale. πŸ’™πŸ€πŸ’™
  • “Get out of yourself and become a person for others, while simultaneously practicing radical self-care: maybe have a bite to eat, check in with the sky twice, buy some cute socks, take a nap” — Lamott, 2018, p. 131
    • This was cute and genuinely a sentiment that made me smile. I enjoyed it and wanted to share it, here, too with you. XX
  • “It’s another inside job: if you are not okay with yourself at ___ pounds, you may not be okay at ten less or even thirty less. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not in your weight. It’s within you” — Lamott, 2018, p. 157

    • Weight specifics aside, this is super duper accurate and so super duper important, for anyone out there suffering with an ED or on the disordered spectrum. A worthy component to keep in mind. Whenever you’d hit that next “goal weight” you won’t be satisfied, it will take more and more (or less and less) to bring you some kind of satisfaction and it honestly won’t be worth it. You deserve to take up space as you are. You don’t need to be “ill enough” or too ‘wide’ or ‘small’ in order to have help and seek support and be worthy of recovery. You are worthy, as you are right now. I don’t know, I thought this was important to also highlight in this review itself. And it will help to add to my fanfic D&D too.

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING & THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

Something that I really loved about this book occurs at the very end of p. 64 onto p. 65, where the author Lamott takes us through what it’s like for her to experience reading books and the imaginations of others’ minds she plays in for a time to forget her own struggles or just to feel something or feel inspired or learn wisdom and to have that accompaniment of humanity with her in her darkest (or brightest) hour. Personally, I loved that depiction so much. I absolutely adore and love books (and plan and dream of publishing my own!!) and they’re just SO transformative and wondrous. I just want to become a life reincarnated again as a whole ass library. That would be SO sweet. Maybe in my RecoveryHome I’ll have a room just designated for books (but let’s be honest, there’s so many I own (let alone borrow!) that I’d probs need a room and a half for all of them). Hahhahaha. Physical hard copies of books are just so… magical. Which, reminds me!!

There’s a book I took out from a further away library that I had to return because it was so overdue and it was a whole thing but it was REALLY hard to let it go so I did order it on Amazon for my own personal copy and though I haven’t read it whatsoever I’m SOOOO enthralled and greedy for the aesthetic of it and what it captures, I think it was… yes, the “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George and oh my gooooodddddd. I’m just craving other things like it by other authors/similar themes and it’s totes a thing for me now. Which, I think George has a few similar to that anyways (those little coffee shops/bistros and there’s some Christmas related one that recently came out by a separate author) and I’m just LIVING for it. I love it. It has piqued my interest ahaha SO, if you know any others out there like that, let me know in the comments what you’d recommend!!! And also, what type of genre would that be? It might make my search a little easier. I guess it’s like a hygge kind of thing, isn’t it? I love it. It’s like getting into Bath & Body Works sprays and lotions–I never knew I’d want to smell like a pastry but now that I can, I LOVE IT. I’m all in, 100%. Hahaha

Something that recently came up for this BES was this conversation I held in previous sections, particularly regarding more of a series from the creativity discussion panels and also from being true to the story that wants to be told, whether it’s what we set out to do at first or how it evolves as is. These are two really distinct moments I had writing this review again today (12/15) and they were really, really nice. I think a good part of me could see the bright spots of creativity from the writing in this book and relate it to other things like the MCU and Loki in particular (and all my fanfics as a whole). I just also loved this section on p. 94 where Lamott talks about her favorite stories being the shifts in points of view, from point B to point A, where something changed and hope unfurls its wings from a previous setting of pain and doom. The paragraph in Lamott’s story details how the details are so important in such changing tides of stories that move us and inspire us and let us see something funny or something remarkable. I guess, the overall framework is this: telling stories matter and how they are told matters and what they leave behind, that matters too. You could genuinely change someone with a story that you tell, so what are you going to tell?

To be fair, when I read the eating disorder heavy chapter, I was pretttttty confused as to what I should have taken away from it. It was a tad unnecessary in how triggering it could be for someone who struggles with that type of thing (and of course there are no warnings for such content) so it just left me perplexed and bothered. It was odd.

Something else I really took away from this book is that notion of how writing and creative writers and writers as a whole really hold a powerful light against the darkness that can crowd out the stars: this symbolism of characters who have gone through hell but came out the other side, this powerful attestation to hope and faith and belief in one’s self (even if for a time, it’s only because of the faith and light we find solace in from others holding it out FOR US until we can one day take it into our own palms). The way a story can be told to inspire and get other people moving…. it’s magical, writing is, and art in general and of itself, and that is so, so beautiful, so precious and so kind. Humans lighting the way for other humans is probably the best of humanity as a whole. (Theme from Lamott, 2018, p. 98).

This book holds a beautiful wrap-up that if this review has done anything for, is worthy of reading again. It’s a beautiful tight bow to everything that was covered. Maybe that’s enough of a tease for you to get it out at your local library or maybe the entirety of this review has made you say “Nah, I’ll pass.” That’s okay. Both can be true, just for different people.

Thank you so much for reading all my rambles here and my interaction with the chosen text for this BES. It was a wild ride. It took a long time to get to the point where I’m able to fully immerse myself and set aside all the time and all the page flags and jotted down notes, to fill in all the empty spaces, read it over again one final time for the editing process and then, finally, finally submitting and publishing it into The Void. It took a long time, it usually does, but after procrastinating on it again and again (and again!), I can finally say it’s done and I can let it go and move on from it to my next few books. Thank goodness. It took long enough!!! Ahahha. Here’s to cheer towards the next books to come!! Rejoice! You’ve made it. Thank you so much for reading and supporting. Sending light and love to all who made it this far. XXX πŸŒ»πŸ”†πŸŒˆπŸ₯‚ I still have so much in store!!! For you, for me, for everyone reading. 🀍😊


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

Other works by the author:

  1. Stitches: A handbook on meaning, hope and repair
  2. Crooked little heart
  3. Blue Shoe
  4. Imperfect Birds

Book reference:

  1. The Magnificent Defeat

Quote reference and following book it arises from:

***”You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on” by Samuel Beckett from “The Unnamable” (ref. p. 180, Lamott, 2018). This seems particularly profound and interesting, powerful and everything. Even the search results on Google were interesting so I want to check out this book some time for sure!! Very cool.


Next up….

Fiction books: “Shut Your Eyes Tight” by John Verdon

Nonfiction books: “A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done” by Jennifer Shannon LMFT

((Now, if I can actually read these today, that would be an entire miracle!!!!)


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

10/12/2021 (super late evening), 11/5 (evening), 11/6 (brief, early evening), 11/7 (morning), 11/8 (evening), 11/9 (noon), 11/11 (early evening, evening), 11/13 (early morning, morning), 11/14 (early evening to evening).

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

11/14/2021 (late evening), 11/17 (evening at the library), 12/1 (afternoon in the library,) 12/11 (3am), 12/15 (evening, late evening), 12/16 (evening), 12/26 (late afternoon, early evening).

Questioning: When Are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

Let me just say this right from the get go:

I don’t have the answer to this question yet. I’m still trying to figure it out and it’s going kind of rough. A few of the pros and cons I have done over the course of time have been inconclusive: running into the problem of how to quantify and numerically decode when my cons are as long as my pros and whether I should be identifying percentages towards either of them. It’s…. complicated. So, I don’t know the answer yet myself. It’s tricky and difficult.

Secondly, here are some of my boundaries (as I’m finding and being taught that they will have to be more consistent in me reiterating them each and every time I can):

  1. I am not a crisis service, mental health professional or expert in mental health. I like to say I’m an “expert only in my own lived experiences” but I don’t have any licenses or degrees besides a BS in psychology. (I do have some trainings though but nothing like a master’s or PhD.) Basically, I’m not an appropriate person or place for others to reveal crisis information or to get direct professional help from. Of course, if you feel that you’re a danger to yourself and it’s between telling me or no one, I’d rather you tell me, because I will not keep safety information private and will instead link you towards local or national resources or call emergency services etc. So, if you come to me for help, I can get you to the appropriate resources, and you can get help in an indirect way, but either way I’ll point you to where you need to go and practice my own self-care to maintain my own health, wellness and stability.
  2. What can I offer? I can offer peer support in the sense of being non-judgmental, pro-recovery, positivity, hope, what’s helped me and worked for me, providing inspiration (I hope!), the skills or treatments that were most life-changing for me, “I” statements (sometimes I use “we” as well though, I try to limit the “you” statements as much as I can) and empathy, kindness, validation, healthy coping strategies, problem-solving and compassion. Again, if it’s an issue regarding safety, I will do everything in my power to get you the resources and help you need and deserve, and will NOT keep matters regarding safety confidential. I, of course, would prefer to not be in that situation, but if it happens, I know where I can go for help to help you, if that makes sense.
  3. Please do not discuss specific methods of suicidality or self-harm with me. In regards to eating disorders (EDs), please do not discuss specific numerical measurements like weights, calories, and unhealthy behaviors (like tools used for purging or things to that effect). For self-harm you can specify the type of self-harm, for instance I’ll say things like scratching or skin picking, but don’t go into what you use to hurt yourself, how to hurt one’s self, etc. That’s just unhelpful information and unnecessary. (As an example: If you want to say you were thinking about “standing on a ledge” that’s enough general information for me to picture what you mean. If you were to say “heights” that’s a little more specific and not helpful. And if you were to say “this specific building on 34th street at this time etc.” that’s WAY too specific and a more appropriate conversation with a crisis line, a mental health professional, etc. The less specific you can be the better. Think of the too specifics being unhealthy or inappropriate people and places for that information. Essentially, you’ll have to be a little more creative to abide by this boundary of mine.) I also as of July 2021 don’t wish for my space on the Internet to be a how to guide for hurting one’s self, because the Internet is already so much a place of that. This is to keep myself safe, keep you safe and keep others safe as well. So, please respect this as best as you can. If you mess up here and there, that’s okay, but continued misuse will result in me speaking to you directly or blocking you if need be or moderating comments, etc. Whatever is in my power, I will pursue. Thank youuuu for your cooperation!!
  4. I am unavailable for support/guidance between the hours of 10p EST and 9am EST. I am also unavailable the days that I work at Amaryllis which is currently Sat and Sun mornings.
  5. If you happen to have known me before 2018 or in 2018, I would rather you didn’t compare how “bad” things were for me in my life then COMPARED to how well things are for me now. The reasoning for this is because when people compare how “bad” things were for me, I know it’s supposed to make me feel proud of how far I’ve come, however, it has the opposite effect. Instead, my brain makes me think that it was “oh so great” back then and wants me to go back to those very dark times. So, it’s unhelpful. Thanks!!
  6. As for confidentiality, unless broken in the case of safety concerns, I won’t repeat back specific information regarding your identity or who you are with others. If anything, I’d make a pseudonym for you and discuss matters of our conversation, not verbatim, with people like my partner, my Mom, my therapist/psychiatrist, or change certain details of who you are and focus more on how I’m handling or struggling with the information you’ve shared with me. For instance, if I felt dysregulated, I’d discuss what led to that dysregulation but keep my focus on how I can problem solve it and work through it going forwards.
  7. As for what you can share about me with others, I’m okay with a changed name (pseudonym/pronouns) or keeping my name (Raquel) the same. Of course, please don’t doxx me but if you want to share my age, my first name, my experiences, etc. then that’s totally fine by me. I do use she/her pronouns just in case anyone was wondering that! Thanks!! πŸ€—πŸ™‚πŸ˜˜


Honestly, I think that’s about all I’ve got!

Which is definitely, definitely plenty it feels ahaha. For those wondering after all of that, regarding this post:

Trigger Warning: Discussion of self-harm, past suicidal ideation, BPD, depression and OCD.

So, what DID I want to talk about in this piece?

Honestly it’s been SUCH a long time since I’ve blogged. Like, far, far too long. And I wasn’t even necessarily going to do this post but it was definitely gnawing at me and I realized I had enough to say and think and do with this information (I’m between journals at the moment, my routine is severely off lately) than to just keep it to myself with no one else to know about it for weeks.

So, here I am!

Let’s regroup for a moment, shall we?

The question I have for creating this post:

When are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

So let’s talk about some context first.

I started going to an OCD support group for the first time ever in fall 2015 when I spent 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute at Belmont MA. It was not a locked unit and it was actually pretty enjoyable for a treatment type of thing. I live, if you don’t know, with OCD on self-harm and suicide obsessions (not genuine intent; though I do also live with depression, BPD, trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking) and essentially intrusive thoughts of hurting myself and genuine thoughts of hurting myself, though I’m much, much better as of now in 2021!!!). I was diagnosed with OCD by my university’s Counseling Center in fall 2014 for further context. I also had an OCD specialized therapist from about spring 2015 – winter 2016.

I’ve had lots of different treatments over the years since 2014: ERP, CBT, DBT, medications, individual therapy, hospitalizations, OCD-I, ECT, group therapy, short term and long term day programs, family therapy etc.

I’ve also been a prominent mental health advocate since spring 2016 to now, both online and offline. Advocacy is the central part of me and who I am, I think, though I’ve become more recovery based over the last three years, I’d say. To me, advocacy is sharing my story with lived experiences in the field of mental health conditions and sharing what’s helped me most and how I handle myself and my situations. For me, it’s overcoming adversity and getting a leg up over the bullshit my brain comes up with on a daily basis. I am VERY open about my struggles, or at least in the past I certainly was, probably a little too much let’s be honest but yeah, I am open and I talk about them and nowadays I like to focus more on what I can DO about them but overall talking and sharing my story has been an integral part of finding meaning and purpose in my life. (If you’ve been with me since the beginning or if you ever plow through some of my Archived posts, you’ll also see I was an advocate while at university as well, sharing my recovery and my journey through it via newspaper articles, something I’m finding in the last year with this pandemic that I miss and wish I could get back into in some way, even if it’s differently.)

I’ve only ever been to OCD support groups over the course of my treatment. I’ve never been to a DBSA group or a NAMI based group either (NAMI being the National Alliance on Mental Illness where I do my advocacy work from).

I started going pretty regularly to the Belmont support group while I was at the OCD-I until about fall of 2017, if I had to guess.

In 2018 I don’t think I really went at all, maybe once or twice over the course of the year?

2019, I think I went a couple of times. I was at my long term day program Passages which was giving me PLENTY of mental health topics and surroundings that I didn’t need something like a support group to go to (same as well for the blogosphere.)

2020, the pandemic hit and by June I was definitely starting to return to more of them. Naturally, all the support groups went virtual on Zoom and I started to attend ones like Cambridge and eventually Worcester alongside the Belmont here and there.

Now is when we get to the meat of this post (or, with the gif added above, the slicing of the cake portion of things). I’ve been going to support groups decently regularly over the last year and I’m no closer to answering this big, big question I’ve surrounded this blog post about. Which is super frustrating–and exactly the emotion I feel when I’m at a support group.

It’s so frustrating.

I honestly don’t know what I live with mental health conditions-wise anymore. I mean, for YEARS, I’ve blamed it on OCD but the more I’m at these support groups, the more I realize what I’m “defining” as OCD may NOT be that at all. And then of course, though, me trying to figure out if it IS OCD, is OCD itself. Trying to find that certainty and conclusion and all.

Personally, I definitely view knowledge as power. And I know that the purpose of diagnostics is to guide treatment and for insurance purposes. So it frustrates me to no end that I can’t pinpoint or understand if what I am feeling and dealing with is even this big bad OCD monster I’ve always said it is but may not actually be all along. Then of course, WHAT AM I dealing with if it’s NOT OCD? Oooof.

To me, I blame these things on OCD, what I’ve identified as OCD and what’s consistent up until today:

And if you don’t know anything about OCD and have somehow found this post, OCD obsessions are the persistent and intrusive thoughts regarding whatever topic that gives the survivor distress. It questions and is often called the doubting disease because it makes a person wonder and question if they’re truly wanting to act on a thought or that they might lose control just by having the thought even if they do not want to act on it, etc. So, there’s all sorts of OCD topics out there, as long as it gives the survivor distress, it will cling to it tightly. For instance, moral questioning like if you’re a good person; harm OCD if you have thoughts of hurting others or yourself; contamination; having to count or check things (mentally or physically); did I just run over someone while I was driving? etc.

Compulsions are the behavioral or mental things a survivor does to cancel out, however momentary and temporary the relief is, the distress or anxiety that they are feeling. So, if it was a contamination thing, maybe one compulsion could be hand washing; or if it was a car thing, going back to check to see if there was any evidence for having run someone or something over; or for harm OCD to others, checking that all the eating utensils are still there or checking memories for any indication you’d want that person harmed etc.

Here’s what I’ve always blamed OCD on that might not even BE OCD but that I can’t find is anything else either (and the act of trying to figure it out is OCD in disguise, as it were, so I’m kinda fucked lmao πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…πŸ™„πŸ˜Ά) ((I’ll start with the classics from years ago and go more into later years/current struggles))

  • Intrusive comments/loop tapes; for me in the beginning it was hearing my brain say “Kill Yourself” or “You should just kill yourself” on repeat for hours at a time.
  • More currently, and I haven’t had a new phrase in over 4+ years, but now it’s “Just do it” in terms of acting on an intrusive image of harm, so, gee, thanks OCD! Ugh. ((I will say it’s a little alarming that in the last month the OCD has come up with and attached itself to a brand new phrase, and so maybe that is some of the anxiety? I don’t know.))
  • Memory checking for any intention to act on the thoughts (way back in the beginning).
  • Now it’s more of the thought action fusion involved so like when I have an intrusive image of harm it’s increasingly more difficult, whenever I am struggling (which isn’t as often, let’s be clear) for me to separate the fact that what is happening inside my HEAD is NOT happening truly in reality. It’s probably as close to hallucinating as I can get. It’s just so hard to center myself and remember that it’s not actually happening
  • Also, trauma memories. I’ve only experienced trauma at the hands of my mental health conditions and what feels like a crisis where there’s a lot of trauma memories in truth is really just OCD and intrusive images of things that I’ve NEVER truly acted on. Trauma memories definitely come up the most often in support groups I find. I went to one last night and there was talk of police officers and all my encounters with them in the past was something I got sidetracked by
  • Avoidance: and this is a behavioral pattern I am STILL struggling with today and have for years and years. In terms of OCD I’ll avoid things like certain places with ledges or certain drives home etc. I’ll avoid my feelings most often by over-distracting with content etc. I’ll avoid, potentially, with support groups. I’m rarely ever in the actual moment, I’m usually doing other things like playing with thinking putty or having music going etc. I honestly don’t know the difference between when is it avoiding and when is it self-soothing. Because when I’m spoken about self-soothing in therapy, my therapist thinks it’s actually avoidance. So, I have no idea on this tactic that’s for sure
  • I don’t, this isn’t really OCD but it kind of is, like to admit when I’m anxious. Anxiety is just an emotion for me that I HATE to admit when I am, so instead of noticing my bodily cues, I just plow forwards until I’m behaviorally acting on the anxiety so like hair pulling or skin picking. It’s something I really have to continue working on. Gwah For skin picking itself it’s definitely an inconsistency feeling on the skin that gets me to start going at it. Bleh
  • Reassurance seeking: A BIG one, from the beginning to now, I’ll wonder if these ‘thought commands’ (Just do it) is really OCD or if it’s something else like psychosis and then I’m researching it and uncovering, AHA it’s OCD in disguise!! So yeah, even reassurance seeking with validation from others and such. Ooof.
  • Rumination: fixating on the OCD, talking about the OCD, thinking about the OCD etc. Wanting to think of old memories, old habits, old behaviors, old stuff. Spending hours and hours doing so (luckily I stop this a lot better now over the last 3 years)
  • Glorification of harm and death. This is the biggest one. My brain likes to be like “Oh hey, you know this [suicide] plan? That would be awessssssome. We should totally go do that. It’ll be so relieving and so much fun. It’ll be great. Let’s go do that.” etc. It’s like this “oh so magical and sparkly thing will be so great and wonderful, you’re missing out on experiencing it by not doing it, etc.” It’s also like this “it would be so ironic/poetic/symbolic thing” or “it’s your destiny to die this way”.
  • Alongside this is the glorification of near death experiences in particular. There’s something so tantalizing to me about a near death experience. Or actual death then coming back to life. And definitely the case if there are NO ill physical effects from it. I remember someone at Passages said there IS a name for this that people with substance use disorders can relate to but I can’t remember or they also couldn’t remember what the word was so I’ve never known
  • Fixation continued: thinking of the OCD and harm, taking up more and more of my time etc. Again, hasn’t happened in ages luckily. If it came out in artwork that was also a compulsion too. I think I’m better at this but honestly I’m not sure.
  • Little things that might become problems: rereading a book, is this OCD or is this me genuinely not paying attention while I read? etc. And the stubbornness that arises when I refuse to let my brain win over me not reading a book etc (I love books so much). Doing certain things in matters of three, so like three heart emoticons etc. Keeping things like price tags for a bit or lots of hand sanitizers, is it hoarding? Eh. Maybe not.
  • Distress: I really can only relate to the distress that these OCD or “OCD” things cause. If it is anxiety, and I’m sure some of it is, I refuse to acknowledge it. But so many more people have the anxiety as the prime and only emotion involved and I just can’t relate.

So, I mean, I hope that all makes sense.

The big thing I’m uncovering in these OCD Support groups I have been returning to is they are immensely triggering for me. And I wonder, is this a trigger that’s healthy (like an ERP opportunity) or is it risking my stability unnecessarily? A question to which I STILL cannot begin to answer, aggravatingly enough.

The biggest thing I’ve been trying on my own, without an OCD specialized therapist (and with little indication I’ll get one any time soon) is that I’m taking some charge in some ERPs myself, I’ve started a new video series on my Youtube channel called “Trudging Through Trauma” where I’ll use an ERP exposure during the filming process and another in the video editing process. I’d like to talk about some of my trauma experiences and name them and think them over and then do the opposite of them, so with the OCD I’d want to fixate and be consumed by them, when in reality I’ll just go self soothe or do something else for a bit etc. I don’t know, it could be self-exploitative I suppose but yeah, and I obviously wouldn’t go into unnecessary detail but for my own head it’d be there, I just wouldn’t vocalize it officially.

My Mom was also suggesting we do ERPs together too. Having someone be there could be safety ensuring and all. So I have that to mull over.

But overall, why I wanted to make this post is for this reason:

When is it helpful and when is it harmful? When is focusing on it vs distracting from it an exposure or just unhealthy?

Another thing, there’s no professional support or, as far as I know, guidance or trainings involved and that makes me wonder two things:

When is peer support bordering on playing therapist? and

What qualifications, if any, are expected in these group settings?

Now, specifically, I have my friend Gretchen (naturally not their true identity of course πŸ’œ). I’ve known Gretchen for, well, since the beginning of my support groups history. Gretchen has some … good and kind intentions but none of the boundaries in place to achieve them. Gretchen tends to bite off far more than she can chew.

And I never really mention in support groups my history with mental health advocacy (something I’ve decided to change actually going forwards, if for however long I may still attend them) but something that really bothered me in yesterday’s support group was this ongoing pressure or resistance to talking openly about the struggles with OCD with non-OCD individuals.

Personally, this just rubbed me in all the wrong ways. Like, is it supposed to be shameful? Should we really be encouraging the beginning types of co-dependency? Should it really be US vs THEM?

Also, what do we do about the pissing contests of whose experiences are worse? And what about how draining and depressing they can be on top of that? It just makes me wonder–at what point is ‘teaching’ skills or ‘experimenting with ideas’ playing therapist and overstepping what peer support is about? Should there be someone, a professional, around to navigate the waters of these groups better? Because it makes me wonder for sure….

Also sometimes they end on such depressing or retraumatizing states that it’s bewildering.

The other thing I struggle with is the line between reigniting my old behavioral pathways (getting attention for unhealthy purposes; i.e. holding a crisis session) and focusing on who I am today and getting help in the most helpful and healthy way today than/as opposed to how I once received it. Which means I’m really just a lot more guarded now and less likely to open up and be honest upfront. It’s very confusing.

(My apologies for how direct of an attack there is on Gretchen down below; she really does mean well. She has the best intentions in mind. Her boundaries and adhering to them is just troublesome.)

Overall, there’s just some things that Gretchen has done or said that makes me feel super uncomfortable, mainly breaking my boundaries, not intentionally but pretty often as is. I wonder if it’s possible to get a professional to sit in on a support group or two and see what their assessment is of the matter. Maybe that’s something worth exploring. I feel like Gretchen needs to (as horrible as this phrasing is) get her shit together to figure out what she can reasonably offer and when she’s overstepping. Like, Gretchen, you’re awesome, you’re great, a little less pissing contest would be best though. I get it was to be empathetic and ‘I’ve been there too’ but a minute of that would have sufficed, not fifteen. (And of course I’m going to be bringing this up to Gretchen herself too, because she’s the only person who can change these behaviors or be aware of them and adjust from there. I’m really not mad at her, I guess I just feel frustrated in general with where I sit on support groups and I REALLY want to be done with this blog post, it’s been sooo long)

My partner did suggest that maybe I’ve outgrown support groups as well. Which, could be very valid and true. They asked if there were different groups for OCD support for different stages of recovery, which I’m not sure exists, but is definitely worth looking into.

Well, I’m done complaining and typing and talking now. My wrists hurt, my words are being misspelled and I’m tired. I’ve been at this for almost two hours. That’s… exhausting.

So what do you think? After all this has been said, what do you think? Do my thoughts and experiences sound like maybe I should take a break from the support groups for a while and do some extra soul searching or could they be okay for me to attend and experiment more with in the future?

I’d love to know what you guys think. If you have the time and willingness to offer it to me. πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ€πŸ˜πŸ˜™

Now I just have to go back and reread this post, edit and then upload. Maybe add another gif or two.

Thank you soooo much for reading. I hope something out of all of this was helpful or interesting or captivating if possible. I feel a strange crux between relief and unfinished. But, I’m going to go eat lunch and get ready to visit a phone store today, hopeful that I can get upgraded soon. So yeah. Maybe I’ll actually try to read that book of mine too. I was going to before I decided to do this post ahaha. Any who, more to come soon.

Let me know if you got this far with a cookie emoticon.

Thanks so much. xxx

Stay safe everybody!!!

πŸͺπŸͺπŸͺπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸŒˆπŸŒžπŸŒŠβ˜”

Feeling Low: Job, Twitter, MCU…Life


Today: I’m feeling low.

I don’t even know how I want this blog post to go.

I just know that I want to capture what I’m feeling and thinking for a frozen moment. Frozen in time, suspended, distilled, captured. In the hopes that I can move on from it. Be unleashed. Free. Liberated. Safe.

The words don’t come easily. I feel the twirling fan’s breath on my exposed arms, a hooded, soft gray blanket dispersed over my head making me look like a nun. Or… Yoda. I want to turn it off, but I don’t because it’s grounding. My iPod is nearby, shouting out music, but it’s never quite high enough, no matter how much I turn it up. It’s never quite enough. And the mind, the mind I have, with the fumbling fingers on the keys, constantly making mistakes, constantly having to go back a space to fix them, still, that mind is swirling. Thoughts are coming half-formed and fully formed. Emotions the height of a tsunami, threatening to overtake me, wash me with its ruin. I’m caught in it, for a moment, I’m caught in it.

Maybe, no, maybe that last song was good. Hmm, maybe I’ll play it back once more:

MIIA – Dynasty

The tabs are open. The links don’t do what I want. The annoyance is there, bubbling to the surface, then, just really formed into disappointment. I remind myself to turn on the repeat function on my iPod along the same time I can smell the sweat from my feet, hunched over, legs on top of one another, crouching before the laptop, from a day’s activities, a day’s work, I think to myself to take them off, maybe even take off all the layers, so I can be comfortable in my pajamas. But I don’t really move. I don’t really move to do any of that.

Too caught up in the words. Caught up in the stories.

No, I change my mind. Place the song on repeat. Crack my neck. Unleash one sock… Then two. The smell still remains.

I’m tired.

I notice it more now, in the crux between the music keys and the way I sludge forwards, onwards, into the mix.

What was I talking about before?

Oh, right.

Feeling low.

…… Where do I begin?

There’s so many avenues to start the story, and each would play across the right one.

I guess, I’m unhappy with my job. I’m unhappy with my place in the world. I want more, and…less. My avoidance is chipping away my soul, slowly at a time, so that I don’t notice it until I realize “No, I can’t do that.” Because my world is spinning and crumbling, ever so slowly, ever so smaller.

My job isn’t where I thought I’d be by now. It’s not the job I thought I’d get after graduating university. It’s, in some parts, not even the job I wanted. But it’s the job I got, and it’s the job I’ve been at and been trying to learn and grow and succeed and go forward.

But I find myself… craving, wanting more. Wanting something different.

But I’m terrified on how or if I’ll ever get there.

I’ve been talking about my dreams with new friends online lately. And it’s reminded me a lot of my dreams. And how what I’m doing now, doesn’t really feel like it’s cutting it anymore. Or, at least, it’s just starting to dawn on me that this may be the case.

But how do I go from here to there? To the land of my dreams?

I want, or I think I want, to go into Certified Peer Specialist.

It’s just…. complicated. I have to factor in the fact that I’d probably work for an agency, that I have to get trained and pass a test, that I have to carve out more hours of my time for actual work, that I’ll be expected in Clinicals and DRIVING peers around, the fears of that, the responsibilities and the strangeness of it all. I’d have to get certified. I’d have to get gas coverage (in the sense that maybe there’d be mileage reimbursement but also I’d be hefting over part of my salary, likely, to the never-ending need for more fuel). I’d maybe still only be earning what I do now.

But, would it be more fulfilling?

Would all of it, everything considered, be worth it? And when would it happen? Soon? A year from now? How do I get from here to there?

I know I have to start small. I know I have the tools ready for me. I’m just… scared. Overwhelmed. Unhappy.

I’m craving more advocacy work. I think that’s what I’m missing now. Summers are always slow for presentations at NAMI and I haven’t had one all month so maybe that’s a factor. Maybe the other factor is that I’ve been talking of my dreams this week. Reminding myself of my potential and how much I don’t want THIS job to be my end goal. It was always just supposed to be a stepping stone. And maybe, maybe I’m finding that I’m finally ready to move onto the next one. I want to go into advocacy work of public speaking, give a TEDtalk one day, build up my 4 main recovery art projects, share my story, write and publish books, etc. So, so, so much more than this.

And it’s taken me a while to get here. I… maybe because of the BPD have … intense attachments. Hell, whenever I take out a book from the library I get too attached–even when the book is past due and I’m accruing fines, I can’t let it go, not when I haven’t completed my end of the deal with it. I most often override this but it’s still a functionality of my personality. At Passages I was the same way, thinking me and my DBT-Intensive crew were a team and flabbergasted when finding out that they were going to go on their own way before the ‘true’ end date. I have problems with attachment. Even if I’m mulling over an item in the store to buy, I get attached, I start to ‘see’ it in use in my life, and once that’s there, I don’t want to leave it behind without buying it. Again, attachments.

So for me, what I’m trying to say is, for me to get to the point where I’m starting to think: Maybe it’s time now, is pretty big. And yeah, I’m afraid in some parts because a few of my co-workers in the last month tried to leave for another job and now they’re back again. So, maybe I’d be the same?

But this was never my end goal. And maybe CPS will be it, for a while. Maybe just blooming into more of that advocacy work, the work I really want to do, maybe that’ll be everything.

I’ve been thinking lately, I don’t have all my advocacy work like from when I was at university. I think I miss that, am missing that. Maybe even finding odd jobs for paid writing work would help, too. I’m just kinda tired. I want more and I’m realizing I have to be the one out there to get it.

So, alas, I find myself wondering:

How do I get from here to there?

And, I’m not sure, not entirely.

Obviously I’d overlap the two careers before I moved on officially, just to see if I’d even like it to begin with. And then, I mean, I guess I just start making little goals? Maybe like a road map or a vision board of my dreams and start plugging away at it a little at a time. I also want to start by asking some of my NAMI co-presenters how they’ve gotten into the field (at least two are in CPS work) and then start that way, too.

Mmm, I’m feeling a bit more hopeful now with that idea.

With my calves hurting (curse those hills at work!), with a newfound determination, I’m going to work on what I can for the rest of tonight: mainly, mayb– oh!

Twitter & MCU: I’m still a lengthy amount of movies and time away from properly watching and being in the loop about everything happening with the “Loki” Disney+ series. So, with less than 10 mins on my Twitter timeline today, I’ve officially decided that I have to now avoid it for the rest of time (at least until I’m more in the loop and caught up, which will probs be July ahaha, did I say that? I meant AUG! Let’s be honest). Soooo that sucks. Also, I just haven’t been as active on Twitter this week. I’ve been discreetly uploading these avenues of content WITHOUT placing it on there: fanfic, videos, blog posts. So maybe one day but not any time that near.

And as for life, I’ve covered the fact that my avoidance bullshit is getting in the way a lot. And I won’t be leaving my job any time soon either, but I’m gonna start chipping away at it. Find trainings I can attend to, roles within the peer support arena, continuing to craft my online presence, teach some classes, do (when the time is right) presentations. Work on my public speaking skills (really rusty on that). Drive around more. List out the pros and cons of my potential decisions. And just grim face and bear the rest as much as I can. It’s not something I’ll have solved tomorrow. But we all start somewhere.

So for now, I’m going to answer a few online messages/emails and texts, read a book, go to bed early tonight, take my meds, eat dinner, network, listen to music and just get ready for the hellhole that tomorrow will bring.

Anyways, that’s it for me. I’ll either shower tonight or tomorrow, just want to make sure I do before Mon when I go to visit my partner! And maybe tomorrow I’ll watch the rest of Thor!!

All right, guys, thanks so much for reading. Do you have any tips or advice for how you made different career plans in your own life? Jumping from one job to a whole new one?

I’ll see you guys next week.

πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

PS There is ONE last thing I didn’t quite cover here but that I had thought of for the ‘Life’ category: the slow burn acceptance that my previous mental health problems and complications (i.e chronic suicidality) will probably be something I always have to deal with. More so in the sense that my automatic go to within my mind and body is to end everything, though I am now EONS away from ever, ever acting on those thoughts now. Regardless, I’m thinking like with most recoveries, the thoughts and emotions will always be there, just the behaviors are up to me. Which, is … nice, in some ways, and empowering and also frustratingly disappointing. But, alas, such is life. I can realize it, recognize it and do the opposite of it. Which is what I will do. Don’t worry, I’m safe!! Just something that popped into my head while at home, after work, before I started writing this post.

Small Disappointments

Hi there.

It’s been a while.

I wound up taking the weekend off for blog posts or really going onto my computer officially. I tried the shift on Sun with the three year old but it didn’t totally work out super well so I wound up switching out with another co-worker while I spent the rest of the time in the main cottage. I tried to pull my weight more though by doing the dishes after lunch and then doing some of the logs. It was definitely overwhelming and tough though and I could write a whole novel on just when, how and where and why buuuut I’m just doing this short post for today then brushing my teeth, filling out my planner and going to sleep.

Tomorrow we have Clinicals and they’ll be in person so I have to leave before 1p from my house. That should be fine, get paid for a couple of hours or so. πŸ™‚

Then on Wed I will have my first shift there where it’ll be me and another co-worker and then just two kids. I’m a little nervous for this too because I’m not sure if lunch is done up in the cafeteria, what the schedule would be like for the two kids left behind rather than in school (like even just setting up laptops and helping them with their schoolwork) and little things like that but I guess I’ll find out soon enough. πŸ˜›

I’m gonna have to go to sleep by 9p tomorrow night though so there’s that. Little nervous on that, too. For now, I am going to bed by about 11p. I actually did fall asleep today during the day so I lost a couple hours that way. I also managed to edit a couple of videos and I uploaded a new one to my channel and now I’m going to be uploading my first video for scoliosis awareness month tomorrow, which I’m excited about!!!

I am pretty tired now though so I think I’ll hop off for now. I wasn’t going to make a post but then I decided I could take the 5 mins to do so. I’ve also just been disappointed in how much I did today vs what I could have done and looking again through Athena’s stuff and becoming anxious from having to edit through the final video cut for tomorrow and then regrettably pulling a lot of my right eyebrow. So, that sucks.

But it is what it is.

Any who, how are you guys doing? Anything you’ve managed to accomplish today or goals you have for the week ahead?

Let me know.

Sending light and love.

πŸ’œπŸŒžπŸŒˆβ˜”

PS This also doesn’t cover the disappointments for what I wanted to achieve and manage for this month’s mental health awareness stuff so stay tuned for some post-May related content about that in the future. I mean, I guess it’s okay but yeah. That just sucks too.

An Even Shorter Post …

Hi.

I’m exhausted and all I did today was sleep, I swear. I woke up around 11a and between 1p – 5p I was in and out of sleep, listening to creepy stories etc. It feels exhausting. I’m just so tired I swear.

I read a tiny bit last night but not as much as I would have liked. I also haven’t been receiving my emails on my public email address upon my phone so that’s odd–if I had, I would have certainly gotten together more motivation and inspiration to actually reply to messages, but alas, that was a hindered project.

I’m just going to snack on some sweets now and then I’m putting together my stuff for work tomorrow morning. I didn’t even edit that video or do creative writing so, bleh.

I found out I may be working in a different cottage on Sun via the schedule so I’m nervous about that because it’s just going to be me with a nonverbal three year old, plus it’s supposed to rain all this weekend, and I’m not sure that I can cook (I really don’t know how) let alone change a diaper and keep a kiddo busy for the duration of 8 hours. I don’t know, that’s definitely gotten me to be more avoidant this night and it’s eating away at me a bit. It’s uncomfortable and I know I have to pull my weight at work it’s just.. the unknown and it’s scary. I should be able to reach out to co-workers and supervisors for support though and maybe I’ll find out more about it tomorrow in preparation. I also have notes I took from that training a year ago. So, that’s good at least.

Tomorrow when I come home from work I’d like to get a coffee, blog, read a book, watch a movie and then go to sleep. Mmm, sleep.

But yeah, that’s been today really. Not much happening. I’m either going to have a tiny chocolate bar now, some Pocky or some ice cream. Haven’t decided quite yet ahaha.

Well, I hope you guys are doing okay!! I’ll be back later this weekend to answer messages. Sending light, love and sweet dreams in the moonlight! ❀ xx

In Life, It Goeth


It’s interesting, don’t you think, how humans adapt to change? Adapt to the adaptability of life because if anything is constant in this human life it’s the fact that everything changes. Nothing quite stays the same, if you really think about it and let the thought digest slowly in your gut. Every new experience is novel and fresh, and if anything is staying the same maybe it’s the mindset we’re looking through into the world with.

Hmm, it’s interesting.

But that’s not quite what this post will be about.

It’s another night at 10p where I’m calling it upon myself to blog. I swear, I dream of myself doing it far sooner in the day, but time it… escapes me.

However, I continued to work on some notes for a new video series I’m going to be doing!! I forget how much I mentioned it on here, but June is scoliosis awareness month–if you happened to be around when I first made a blog post about my experiences with scoliosis back in June 2016 (right at the start of my blogging here) [[I should link it but maybe I will tomorrow, right now I don’t feel like it ahaha]]–then you’ll know a bit of my story already, though, to be honest, I DON’T remember it all that much ahaha

Regardless, I’ve decided I’m going to film twelve videos in a series I am calling:

“Shaped by the Curve: One Story Through Scoliosis Series”

My channel’s playlists (currently this one is unavailable since I haven’t uploaded to it yet)

I will be aiming for two video uploads per week for the entire month of June, tentatively my uploading days will be Tuesday’s and Friday’s. I have a whole list written out of what I’d like each video to be about and I filmed the intro video today and the third entry today.

I also, I think I mentioned this before, I got myself a cheap ring light and it’s been super fun to try out and film with and be on Zoom calls with!!! I’m really quite happy about it. It was cheap (originally $22 but on sale for $17) from TJ Maxx but hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right? I’ve also been happily editing a video where my new software allows me to enhance the lighting and the perfection of it is just… *chef’s kiss*

Oh, I got distracted again. I have 10 mins to post this now while it’s still Wed. Gah.

But yeah, I’m going to be doing some scoliosis awareness videos for the month of June on my channel!! And I was able to go to a support group for OCD tonight, answer some social messages, craft a few others, respond to an email or two, have an ERP and managed through it and the like. I’m pretty tired so I’m heading to sleep now. Just trying to network a little here and there on Youtube. I’m hoping to have a video edited soon and more to come!! Sorry this got so rushed gwah. Take care everyone!!

The Night Before #TrueMentalHealthAdvocate Releases

Hi!

So, I STILL wanted to do that post I was originally going to do yesterday but as it’s turning out we’re not going to be doing that again either today. D: What we WILL do here is talk about my thoughts pre-release of my video scheduled for noon EST tomorrow and my thoughts and ideas and challenges and worries all about that and regarding that. And, assuming that work goes well and I’m in a good, upbeat mood, I will do the post originally destined for Thursday on Sat instead. AND if, for some reason work does NOT go well or it’s a tough day or I’m just too tired, I will try and do something like an award tag like Liebster and such from way back in the day and just do something light and fun or talk about shopping hauls or whatever it happens to be exactly. So, let’s jump in…

Trigger Warning: Allegations of grooming, mentions of suicidality/homicidality

With the situation:

A man by the name of Eric B. Zink back in 2019 (at the time Dr1ven Industries) became very popular on TikTok for his mental health awareness videos where he shared tips and tricks and ways to control anxiety and talking about his lived experiences with mental health conditions and his story with addiction. He had lost two individuals close to him from suicide himself and he made a YouTube channel where he continued to produce similar types of videos like from his TikTok.

I do remember him claiming, at the time, that he was saying he was a mental health advocate and he was giving out his personal phone number onto TikTok for people to reach out to HIM instead of the long wait line of the national suicide prevention lifelines as he was beginning to do research into creating his OWN nonprofit organization in regards to suicide prevention efforts.

He reached 1 million followers on TikTok and had a decent amount, I want to say like 100,000 subs on YouTube as well.

Personally, I didn’t ever see his TikToks on the app because I don’t have that on my devices but I followed his Youtube channel and I followed him on Twitter and I actually did reach out to him and we shared phone numbers and texted a little bit over the Mar. 2019 time period. He started to make more videos specifically about substance use addiction and certain types of substances and his experiences with them which I found to personally be off-putting so I stopped interacting with his content as much. I had even done a collaboration with him, that I believe is still up on both of our channels (my channel has some out-takes and bloopers of it, his has the full on collab, ironically because I didn’t like him right away which aged gracefully) and I had promoted him on my own socials and things too and offered him as a resource while also making it clear to him that I didn’t think it was the wisest of decisions to release such personal information (like a phone number etc.)

Well, he faded into the background by the end of 2019 for me and everything was fine until about Sep. 2020.

I checked on him a couple times here and there when I thought of him but again we just drifted in different directions and I’d lost some interest. He began to become a face for the mental health community as his popularity grew and he became more prevalent as issues from people like the Rewired Soul were taking place.

And Eric was definitely not without criticism being met his way–there were other people within the mental health community that were offering their ideas, their thoughts and their criticisms to some of the things he was saying or doing (and still are). I’d also like to point out that some of the things he did, said or shared about his journey or the suicide prevention type stuff weren’t always what the guidelines suggested to do (so like, don’t share suicide notes from those who’ve passed on which he has violated in a few videos, even just putting triggering images in his thumbnails like depicting substance use/substances and cutting marks).

I obviously have no idea whether he was engaging with the people who were reaching out to him by getting other law enforcement and the proper authorities involved. And I don’t know what content or the depth of their messaging between each other was. Regardless of not knowing this, in Sep. 2020 I decided to see what he was up to, which he had rebranded himself to his name and I found his original videos of him admitting to being inappropriate with minors who were reaching out to him in suicidal crises. He showed text messages between himself and a child and how he had asked them if they had showered and if they smelled and if their butt smelled and other similarly odd statements and remarks. He admitted in his video that that was wrong of him and that he shouldn’t have been talking to a minor like that. (He’s deleted this video since.) I suggest, if you happen to want to learn more about the situation than what I’ve summarized here, there are plenty of videos about it on Youtube.

So.

Where do I come into play?

Honestly, I had seen some of the videos from reproachful content creators who had, like myself, believed him to be a good guy and a good thing for the mental health community until it became glaringly obvious that his ego had gotten the best of him and he’d engaged in some inappropriate and just distasteful behaviors, words and actions. At the time, I watched and engaged with these videos, and felt that I didn’t have much else I could add to the conversation so I let it go.

And I was letting it go until about this past… yeah, yesterday. When I came across a video, someone, Person A, who had called out Eric before on their channel and they had engaged with each other back and forth, I think he deleted this video too, I’m not sure, but it was just kinda sticky, gooey and messy. Well, in that video Person A in question rehashed the situation and admitted that Eric had doxxed them with their full name online in his response video and he had recently said, and admitted, that while he didn’t say he would beat the shit out of them, he said that “I did make a mention of a truck and running somebody over if I saw them” That’s a direct quote from his TikTok video that was included within the video that this main person, Person A, was talking about and updating their followers on the situation.

Cue me….

I was so frustrated, offended, triggered, anxious and fearful when I watched Person A’s video. I could NOT believe that this man, who had claimed to be and genuinely became the face towards some part of the mental health community, had abused that power and abused his place and fucked around with something so, so serious that isn’t often taken seriously (homicidal/suicidal remarks) and made it into this belittled, indirect jab. He made a threat, a physical threat, to someone else who was just calling him out on his bullshit and the fact that he had committed acts heinous and inappropriate. The hypocrisy, the ‘Rules for Thee and Not Me’ and just the fact that he so single-handedly dismantled the mental health advocates out there who are TRUE advocates that don’t say this type of shit, it’s just… and not only that, but it’s providing fuel for people to think of those with conditions as “dangerous” or “crazy” or any other stigmatizing crap that’s out there.

It’s just so anxiety provoking and triggering and offensive, for me. If Eric isn’t the person I thought he was, then who is he? That’s horrifying.

But my point is, in this whole sticky situation, and maybe I talked too much about him and what was going on before I spoke enough about my side of things–and maybe I’m just taking a break from having already said all my pieces in my video, but the video I am releasing tomorrow will go up at noon EST.

I’m quite terrified. My catastrophizing is in full force, I’m thinking I’ll either get ten views or I’ll get a hundred. And I’m afraid people are going to belittle the boundaries I have set or purposefully tell me to kill myself, mention specific ways in which to do so, throw hate at me, have valid criticisms, say nothing, say everything, defend Eric or be Eric himself or who knows what. I’m freaked out but I’m trying to remain calm.

I spoke my truth (sorry, I’ve gotten that new phrase from Demi Lovato I swear lol) and where I feel about the situation. I talked about my own lived experiences dealing with suicidality and gave reasons and examples (and there are trigger warnings in the video itself, too) as to why it is not okay to joke or make light of things like homicide and suicide. From how Person A took the comment, they were upset and they are valid in feeling that way. They should not have to get doxxed and threatened of their life. There’s only a select few that are the drudges of humanity that that should be reserved to. But Person A? Not at all. Not for speaking out publicly about something that happened online.

Jessie Paege is amazing and you should totally check her out. While this post isn’t about THAT kind of coming out, I do feel like I’m coming out from the shadows about something I had ties to, so, yes.

But, that’s where I’m at with things. I am not going to be reading any emails to any potential comments, if I even get them to be honest, about the video until Mon. 5/17/2021. I am also, if I do happen to get a lot of comments about it, if it doesn’t just fall into The Void and disappear, then I will call a hotline and look through the comments while I’m on the phone with them. Because again, I’m afraid and I don’t know what people will or won’t say and I can just seriously picture people trolling with things and such, and it might be too hard hitting to go through alone.

Also, I want to thank so many of you for showing love and support on my last post, yesterday!! I’m so grateful for you guys and if you happen to have any words of wisdom or grounding techniques, feel free to leave it down below in a comment!

My video is definitely only conveying my viewpoint on things and I do welcome other inputs and other ideas too. Maybe there are ways I’m looking at this that are problematic and so if you see that and you’re so kind enough to leave me your thoughts, I’d appreciate it! I will still be on my blog Sat and Sun so that should be fine here. I also will probably work on some fan fiction stuff, read a book, watch a movie and do some adult coloring. I am going to try and see if there are some people online who can support me with this transition from not knowing how things, if anything, will react to my video so, that’s … that’s okay.

I know that I’ll be okay.

And I am safe!! I am. So that is also good. I think any support you guys can lend would be amazing. Again, even just coping strategies or techniques to grounding.

Well, I have to go to sleep now but I’ll see you guys tomorrow once more. I apologize if I spent too much time talking about him rather than myself and such. I’ll try and work on this in the future, not that I intend to do this type of thing again, but yeah, I’ll have to work on this, it’s probably the OCD coming out to be honest haha. But yessss, thank you so much for reading and I will see you all soon.

Stay safe, my friends. πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ€

This piece was written and begun around 7:30p on May 14th 2021, and then completed between 8:45p to 9:45p. EST

My Letters to Avoidance | #itsokaytonotbeokay


Dear Avoidance,

It should come as no surprise to you that I’ve been avoiding dealing with you lately. Properly. As it should be dealt with.Β 

I dislike you, very much. That much is obvious. You take away my time, my satisfaction in life and yet you still seem to serve some type of twisted purpose for me.

Why are you so hard to get rid of? Why won’t you leave me alone? What type of self-sabotaging bullshit do you exist in?

I wish you would leave my house already. You’ve brought it back into shambles and I hate that for you. For us. For me.

But every corner I turn, you are there. Waiting and lurking for me, watching me stumble and trip and then swooping right in to waste another hour of my day, another moment of my breath, another video to watch and lurk in but one is never enough, never enough. More and more you crave and more and more I find myself slipping into you. Into your cool embrace and maybe the feeling is just comforting enough that I forget how much I hate you and how much I am frustrated at myself for once again falling in love with you.

Because you’re so, so, so hard to resist these days. You beckon me forwards. You cling to my soul and you dampen my moods and distract me from everything I’m afraid of. You’re a dangerous pill and I wish I could stop–if only it were that easy.

In moments of revelation, I get myself to break free. To run. To hide.

And in other moments, I let myself slip away, into your grip, your hand (locked) on my wrist, dragging me under and making me believe that I’m okay with this torture and the taking away of everything you want me to (not) feel.

You drag me in. And I let you. That’s my mistake, I’ll give you that.

Β 

Dear Avoidance,

It’s a new day. A new sun has arisen and new clouds are passing through. I thought you were going to pass on through too but today I found that I re-engaged in the same behaviors that for some reason, I was thinking would yield different results. But here I am again, locked in the shadows of a dismantled household and here you are again, watching over me with a sinister grin upon your darkened face. I still find myself broken and with cracks run so ragged my skin bleeds at the tears. I wish to leave, I whisper. I wish to go.

But no, you say. No.

And I whimper close. But no one hears it. No one hears here. They never do.

Β 

Dear Avoidance,

Take me away again, I beg. Take me away from my thoughts and my feelings. Numb me out, make me laugh, provide me with the comfort I’m so incapable of giving to myself. Shield me from the world and make the hard easy again. Make the fear of tomorrow, the worry of regret, make it all fade away. Make it run dry, make it soundless. With you here, you’re all I need. All I need. I need no one, no thing, nothing else but this. You give me peace. You give me pride. You give me life.

Even if you’re the same one taking away my soul and taking away my motivation and my inspiration. You’re taking my life just as you manage to breathe it back into me.

For that, you are a fool. Because one day I will realize and I will leave and you’ll be all alone again, with only your dark thoughts and the shadows to keep you company. One day I will break free because I was born to fly and these wings are not defective, not like you. One day I will scream and cry and someone will hear me and then the beauty of the lies you hold will break the facade as I crawl my way out of your grasp and out of your darkness.

Mark my words, Avoidance, I’m coming for you. And you can’t ever dare to break me again.

I will find you. I will erase you. I will not stop until you are but a speck of dust in my vision. I will tell this tale loud and I will tell of this fight proudly. I will make a road map for those who are also caught within your grasp and through that, I will find purpose and meaning all over again.

My feelings may be large, but my inspiration is endless. All I have is this moment. All I have is this breath. So I will take it from you and explore it for myself. For me, by me, to me. And maybe, Avoidance, that’ll be the greatest gift of all.

Β 

Dear Life Outside of Avoidance,

I may be too scared today to release you. I may be too scared tomorrow to understand your worth and your place within my speck of space in this world. I will try to have an open mind. I will try to do something better for myself, to make beauty out of pain. I will try to take charge of the situation I’ve been placed in and I will try to do better for me because I’ve earned it, no, I LIVE it and that is more than enough.

Dear Life Outside of Avoidance,

You’re so beautiful, it’s hard to look at you for long. But I will try. I will try. And with your grace, I shall move ahead towards the next opportunity. And when I am afraid, because I will be afraid, I will try for one minute to be with you. I will try for one minute to just be here, now, and look not so far ahead but rather just up to the next corner. I know it’s just hard sometimes. Sometimes, life is just hard. I can’t even quite see what you look like, but I’ll keep trying to diminish the blur before your face and live my life as mindfully and spiritually calm as possible. And with the faith that everything else will fall into place, I will live.

Because that is what life calls for. That is what the Life Outside of Avoidance calls for. And I will heed this call. I will take notice of it. And I will follow it. Because it’s right. It’s right.

And after all, there’s only ever so much time in the world.

Β 

All the best,

— Raquel

Β 

Also, PS Avoidance:

Fuck you, too.

Creative liberties taken up on about 8:50p EST Tu, May 11th 2021. A creative nonfiction release of thoughts and emotion. Grappling with the big questions and the big adversities in my life at the moment. I know one day it’ll get easier. Today isn’t quite that day, not yet. Thank you for reading. I have a new video up on my channel if you’d be so kind as to interact with me there. There will be more to come. Always, always more. xxx πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›