I’m feeling pretty agitated. Focused. Annoyed. Distraught. Forgiveless. Oh, I mean, of course: unforgiving. I just single-handedly obliterated my own therapy session from some BS online and so I’m just feeling at a loss. But I have a platform, like Agatha does as well, and I’m going to use that platform now because this comment has been bothering me for months (and it’s SUCH a good comeback, I think) that I’ll never get to properly utilize and all that jazz. So, I’m angry and I want to talk about this key point:
“If you haven’t lived through X, you cannot write creatively about it.”
So, Agatha isn’t their real name of course. And who they are will remain anonymous because it’s not even about them necessarily. I can have my own thoughts and some things don’t need to populate as they already do on the Internet.
Here’s what’s relevant:
Empathy exists but at the same time does not. At all.
And this notion that unless you’ve BEEN THROUGH something (let’s say, mental health struggles (as broad of a term as that is): substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidality, homicidality, on and on–) you CANNOT or worse, SHOULD NOT (NEVER EVER) write about it because… well, I don’t know why you can’t.
But this really has been bothering me. Essentially we’re saying:
“You can’t write fictitiously about a serial killer unless you’ve BEEN a serial killer.”
“You can’t write about time travelers because TRUE time travelers would be offended and irked that you wrote about them so incorrectly.”
“You can’t write about completed suicides because you’ve NEVER BEEN a completed suicider (because how could you if you’re writing about it?)”
“You don’t KNOW because you haven’t LIVED through it!”
Do we see–can we ALL agree–that this notion, this concept, makes very, very little sense?
Can I not write about vampires and unicorns (hopefully separately, nudge nudge) because genuine vampires and unicorns may not agree with the way I convey them? Is this so inherently wrong–that writing about something you have not lived through, you don’t have actual experience in, things you could never (mermaids, fantasy, dragons, queens, kings, war, magic, creatures) and things you just haven’t (sickness, cancer, suicide, homicide, being an actual detective, being a medical doctor, historical fiction, being a prisoner of war, being a veteran, living through depression, and on and on) that that somehow means you could NEVER, SHOULD NEVER write about it?
That not educating yourself on the topic, to researching it, to finding that you could convey something so HUMAN, so natural, so beautiful and meaningful and hell, maybe even some form of relatable, is something you should not do, never do, because… because… because some people, and there will clearly be people, who can’t relate or don’t feel reflected in the categorization of your characters and your plot and your ideas?
That because one person, or five hundred, can’t relate and don’t feel adequately seen or heard, you should, as the writer, just never try to write about things that you may have never or just have not experienced firsthand?
What happened to empathy? What HAS happened to empathy? And why is that not enough?
I just don’t understand. I mean, yes, I understand that not everyone will feel represented so fully and wholly and completely based on just one person’s experiences. That’s true. That’s valid. I just… I can’t believe that because my experiences are my own (and not of those I write about) and no one will ever fully know what my experiences are (they are mine for a reason), that that is somehow an indication or warning sign that everyone else out in the world with imagination, empathy, understanding, willingness to be educated and bring forth more creativity and knowledge than I could even see in my situation because it is mine and I’m blinded to it–to even think of proposing to them “No, you can’t write about THIS because you have no experience with it.” Or, “because you haven’t experienced like THIS you can’t write about it. Because you’re THAT not THIS.” As if it were ever truly your choice.
No one on this earth will exactly experience the same event in the same exact way. That’s what makes us human. Our perception is everything but not everything. It shapes us and how we see things–and how WE CHOOSE to react back to it, that’s up to us. And some people are more aware of this than others. And some people will never get it. It’s true. But for those who are curious, who are willing, who are feeling–maybe we should do less judging of them and how they go about their research and their feelings to not cut them out from a full experience of life and the lives they can write about so flawlessly, so believably that we don’t have to question it, whether it’s true or not, whether it’s been lived through or not, maybe we can let those writers feel and experience and engage with the world in a form of art that other people, that maybe some people may not feel heard or seen, but others, maybe they will.
I think it’s naive and silly (and silly doesn’t have to be bad, inherently) to police what people can and cannot create and for not having lived it to be a huge indication of what can or cannot be written about. Will it reflect everyone’s experiences? No. There will be differences. Maybe accepting those flaws, those inherent cracks, those demented dimensions, maybe the fact that some people, maybe even a lot of people if you’re lucky, will understand, and will feel seen and heard and uplifted, maybe it’s for those and mainly only those that we write for. Because we have stories to tell. And stories to heal. And stories to begin.
Maybe that’s what it’s all for.
What are your thoughts? Where do you fall on this line? What determines something to have art and value and purpose? Or is it all just a waste of time to twiddle our thumbs and feel absurd connections to others that exist until we all become dust again and the world is obliterated into oblivion? Or is there something here? Something worth exploring? No matter how much time we have left?
As for Agatha: Please don’t make puppet accounts to come after me. Your identity is safe with me. And if we can agree to go our separate ways and do our separate things, that will be all I ask for. I hope you feel better one day. I hope that Life gives you more than it has.
As always, be safe, my friends. And be kind. And wonder and ponder and question. Question it all. Because maybe we’re bound to find some very interesting answers….
Until next time. xxx
PS Do you like that I made this thumb on Canva JUST for this post? Ahaha. First time I have in months. Next posts will be book reviews, once I can finally get them done!! XX
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):
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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!!
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.
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!! 🤗🙂😘
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 😂😅🙄😶) ((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 💜). 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. 💚💛🤍😁😙
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.
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 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?
…… 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.
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.
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”
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!!
Secondly: If you don’t know and this is your first time on my blog, I used to write articles for my university’s student newspaper about my mental health recovery journey from spring 2016 – fall 2018. The most relevant article for this post is the one I did as an interview with my friend I named Naomi. It was about the impact of stigma upon the mental health community and how it can act as a barrier to receiving the appropriate help for those conditions. When I had asked my collegue from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, USA) about how to conduct the interview, they suggested that I add in fun facts and other interests besides mental health that I want to carry over into THIS blog post. So, that’s how I’m going to be tweaking this post, my contribution to the tag, itself. I’ll add in comments about my hobbies, the types of things I like and enjoy and other factors that have contributed to my far more emotionally stable lifestyle and the hopes and dreams even beyond mental health that I plan to embark on and explore one day.
Thirdly: Within this vein above, I’d also like to describe the different factors that I highlighted and created in the associated thumbnail for this post. Just little facts or small discussions on each item shown and what the process was like coming up with this thumb overall. If I count them all up for both of us…there’s 12 so I shall space them out throughout this post! With that being said, let’s jump in!
Who are you?
Hi there! My name is Raquel Lyons and I’m a blogger here on WordPress, while also managing multiple accounts throughout the Internet, some being:
My Loki centered Avengers fan fiction accounts on both fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own (AO3) where I write a lot about overcoming adversity, hurt/comfort, angst and the intersecting points between mental and physical health conditions. 😁😘🤗 I put Loki through a LOT of shit but he manages regardless haha. My most popular stories are A Little Unsteady (fainting) and Distorted & Disordered (mental health fic set in high school and will be a trilogy). I do not shy away from hard topics like trauma, PTSD, suicidality, mental health, eating disorders etc. Another popular story I have would be Severed (waist down paralysis) and An Unseeing Shadow (a spinoff for Come to Pass before I started that story which is about differing forms of blindness). My account names on both sites with just a space at FFN vs AO3 is Unmasked Potential. So, if you’re curious and you’d like to read more of my writing beyond this blog, check those out! FFN and AO3. And leave me a comment or critique if you can and are interested!!! 😅😌☺
My Youtube channel with the same name as here: RecoverytoWellness — where I make videos (I am ending a hiatus soon, within the next few weeks!!) about my recovery (life updates, Support Stands); my artwork (coloring, creative writing, filming (newly), photography, Ink on Skin, etc.); hauls (stationery, journals, books); art time lapses; room care; talking videos and more. I even have a couple of collabs but more so tons of other videos I have to edit and put together soon. I just got a new editing software so I’ll be tinkering with that very soon to see how that goes and hopefully return with a better uploading schedule!!! My most current videos I’ve filmed (but haven’t edited) include room care/reorganizing, a body positivity vid, hauls, going through my childhood stuffed animals, a multiple part Get to Know Me series! (To celebrate 100 subs).
My Twitter page: Recovery Raquel that I, for better or for worse, treat as my online journal, much like here and other sites if I’m honest, where I update about what I’m up to and what I’m creating or sharing some of my artwork or just what’s on my mind at that moment. 😃
My old (but soon to be resurrected) deviantART account. I made this account back in Feb. 2010 and it’s seen so much of me and it’s where I came up with the name for this blog, even. I settled more into here for my writing and chatting but DA was definitely where I started at sixteen. It has my artwork ranging from creative writing, journals, photography, drawing, coloring, etc. I want to get back into it very soon (this year) but haven’t quite managed to just yet. I do aim to though.
Besides my online presences, I am a twenty-seven year old living at home with my parents with my four year old doggo Mocha (AKA Mokeys). I mention her often on Twitter and I actually did here, too, way back in the day when we adopted her in June 2017 with some blog posts and old photos. I actually just took a BUNCH of photos of her just yesterday but they’re all still on my camera’s SD card at the moment. Regardless, I’m an avid artist ranging from: adult coloring, photography, filming, graphic design (Canva; it’s where I make all my blog and Youtube thumbnails), creative writing (particularly fan fiction as of late, but also poetry and short stories (and more I’ll mention in just a moment); beaded bracelets, scrapbooking/collages; painting, water coloring and you get the idea.
I live in MA, USA and I love rainbows and rainbow lighthouses, even if they are technically only a thing in my imagination (a lighthouse with a seven colored rainbow as the base instead of the traditional plain white or white and red combo) — (I tried to include an image of a drawing of this but I don’t have them on this laptop at the moment and I’m not about to go digging any further than what I just managed for about 15 mins, do forgive me.) Any how, I love to read books and books provide me with SUCH a great comfort, even if my reading ability today is far behind what it used to be. I still love books. I also love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no surprises there. I love rainbows and I’m a small gay little bean. I enjoy my Disney+ and Netflix accounts and I love to create from a perspective of art therapy and mindfulness. I love falling asleep to an assortment of things like ASMR, creepypastas, horror stories and chiropractic cracking ahaha. I have a supportive family and many wonderful friends from all over the years. I love buying books, journals, art supplies and stationery.
:=[[WHAT I’VE ALREADY ANSWERED ABOUT THE THUMB ABOVE]]=:
So, no surprises here, a few of my answers and lengthy about me and my online accounts should have already cleared up a few things from my thumb. Namely, the camera to represent photography (and filming!), the Love wins bottle because it’s aesthetically pleasing and also very gay of me, the cute rainbow because rainbows (they’re my fave color!! I do accept 5 colored rainbows but anything less than THAT isn’t a rainbow to me), the girl reading a book because books and reading and I am a woman (she/her pronouns, thanks very much)–I’d say that totals to about 4 things answered of the 12 thus far. Let’s keep going to see how that changes!
What is your mental health condition?
Aaaa, yes, we’re diving into the actual purpose and questions of this very mental health tag!! I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions (intrusive thoughts in-congruent with my values; unwanted images and thoughts about these usually occurring these days in flashes I most often ignore), secondary depression (with genuine thoughts of hurting myself, urges mostly these days), trichotillomania (hair-pulling), dermatillomania (skin-picking), and this is a little complicated final one but technically Borderline Personality Disorder as of fall 2017 buuuut I don’t know how much I agree with it per se, because I fit at one point more under borderline traits because I didn’t hit five or more of the 9 symptoms so sometimes I just say BPD and sometimes I don’t. Depends how much I want to explain that day ahaha.
But yes, short technical version is: OCD, depression, BPD, trich and derm.
As a disclaimer, I will add that diagnosis in the US (though I imagine it’s applicable worldwide) is more for the purposes of insurance companies and treatment direction, knowing which to apply to what and so on. I also believe diagnostic criteria exist on a fluid spectrum where at one point I may have identified more with an OCD diagnosis and at another a BPD diagnosis. For me, luckily, it’s been over 3 years since I last self-harmed via scratching and it’s been about 3.5 years since I was last hospitalized. I do get urges still today and bad dreams about suicidality or self harm but I definitely don’t act on it as much as I used to. I’ve grown a lot and I’ve really changed in a lot of ways. But we’ll get more into that soon.
Do you take medication or have you had therapy?
Okay, Raquel, this question is a simple question and you’re gonna answer it more in-depth in the next one. Keep it simple. Think simple. BE the simple.
Short answer: Yes and yes. As for my current providers, I’ve had the same psychiatrist “Phil” since Mar. 2015 and my current therapist “June” since Feb. 2018. She began as my family therapist with sessions with myself and my Mom in that same stroke of time but became my main therapist at least in like Jan. 2020. Occasionally we still do family sessions but not as much anymore. Pandemic-wise, I was seeing my psychiatrist in the summer months in person with physical distancing (since winter, it’s only been over the phone and as of yet hasn’t reshaped at all yet) and I’ve been over the phone for the last year and a half with June. Soooo, yep.
What therapy or medication combination worked best for you? What were its short comings and what were its strengths?
So, a more complicated answer and question here.
I tried out various medications at different times and dosages over the years. Largely, I’ve been on my current anti-depressant since about Mar. 2015 (I don’t go into specifics of particular ones because my advocacy work discourages that so I just never have over the years) and I’ve been taking the current anti-psychotic since about Sep/Oct 2017. It took a lot of tinkering but I finally found the right ones that worked for me. I’ve been stable on both of these meds since, hmm, let’s say Feb. 2018. And by stable I mean, we haven’t changed them in any way.
Also, I want to preface my answer to this question in particular with the fact that I am only an expert in my own experiences and I can only tell you what’s worked for ME from my own perspective and I vastly encourage you to take your own liberties in your own treatment up with your treatment team and don’t necessarily spout off what worked for me in your sessions because we’re all very different and what works for me may not work for you! So definitely, advocate, advocate, advocate. Be the main person in your team that stands up for you and helps you get help because you deserve it, you’re worth it and life gets soooo much better!!!
I’ve had a lot of treatment over the years which I’ll spell out more down below, but to put it in perspective, I’ve been hospitalized for psychiatric purposes 12 times over 3 years. Here’s what helped me the most plus an overview of all treatment I’ve had in that length of time (which this will get clearer down below, sorry this is a strange jumble of stream of consciousness and also some parameters set in place for other more specific questions that come later in this tag!!!)
I originally began my treatment using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) at the Counseling Center at uni. I did this for maybe like 6-7 months before I transitioned to my OCD specialized therapist.
I saw my OCD specialized therapist twice weekly for about a year and half, approximately from Feb. 2015 – Nov. 2016
I stayed 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute in Belmont, MA in Sept – Oct. 2015. The main therapy I learned there was exposure and response prevention (ERP), family therapy, individual therapy and group therapies like introductions into DBT and mindfulness and more. ERP is used to treat OCD which is to essentially expose the person to the thing they’re most afraid of (predominantly as a hierarchy so small stuff first then leading up to bigger stuff; we want to avoid flooding ourselves!) and NOT engage in the compulsions that only make the anxiety or distress temporarily disappear.
I then saw my therapist April once a week for about a year. We did like maybe CBT and art therapy and crisis management work (I was still very unwell at this point)
I was hospitalized on and off through this period of time (fall 2016 – Jan 2018)
I began to attend a day program “Passages” from Feb. 2018 to June 2020. Here I would attend groups and activities during the day and then return home at night. I attended three days a week and did activities like group therapy, mindfulness, art therapy, socialization, psychoeducation, and the predominantly taught modality there that was Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT.
DBT is comprised of four main modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation. DBT is the therapy that really genuinely and honestly transformed my life to what it IS today. I began to attend the DBT-Intensive (DBT-I) program from May 2018 (leaving April to do so) to Jan. 2020. On Wed’s at the program I would attend the DBT-I session which was to review the last week’s homework assignment, offer an issue we had with the previous week via referring to our diary cards that tracked our moods and behaviors and then in the second hour we learned the next skill and received the next week’s homework assignment. On F’s I’d meet with my individual therapist there and talk about what was going on and all that jazz. I learned SO MANY skills of DBT that I still practice mostly unconsciously today and with many avenues I still have to update myself on and relearn (gwah).
My most used skills are probably opposite action, pros and cons and self-soothe. I’ll be honest though, I haven’t really been reading up on them or practicing them more again in the last year or so. However, overall DBT taught me how to tolerate my negative emotions and build a rather high pain tolerance. It also taught me to fall in love with other things and passions like music, fan fiction and Marvel movies. I learned how to sift through my emotions and went from triggers affecting me for 3 – 4 days like back in 2017 to instead having a very painful and uncomfortable 20 mins as more of the norm and the baseline of my existence. I also became super stable and just haven’t needed the hospital setting like I once used to.
I still struggle with catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking and avoidance but overall it’s gotten so much smaller and better than it first began as. I struggle more with avoidance, procrastination, denying anxiety and the hair pulling and skin picking these days
By Feb. 2018 I started seeing June for family therapy and then in about Jan 2020 I saw her individually once a week until probably these past 6 months where I was able to do biweekly appointments (which would have been unheard of back in the day!!)
Overall, my treatment has definitely taken bits and pieces and various varieties over the years. I am hoping to find myself an OCD specialized therapist again within the next year because I think I’m ready to do that and would benefit a lot more from that as well. Medications weren’t one and done, they took different amounts and unfortunate side effects like weight gain, irregular heartbeats, stiff jaw and the like. Therapy had always felt like something I’d be locked in for for life yet in the last year I’ve been able to play around with the idea that maybe it didn’t always have to be. I definitely still have my struggles today, they’re just different than they used to be.
:=[[Thumb Discussion Time]]=:
I’ll pick the unicorn this time!! I LOVE unicorns. Always have since I was a little girl ahaha I just think unicorns are great mythical creatures and I love their aesthetic and have drawn a few of them throughout the course of my art making days. I just liken them to rainbows and you know how much I love rainbows so it’s a perfect match!!!
How long have you been living with mental health conditions?
I was diagnosed first with OCD back in fall 2014 when I was 21. I was seeing my uni’s Counseling Center until, well, you already read that part. I was diagnosed with depression in Jan. 2015. I was then diagnosed with BPD in fall 2017. I was never officially diagnosed with trich but I’ve honestly had it since I was 15 and it pre-dates all my other mental health conditions, but it only became severe (enough that I was missing my eyebrow two or three times over the course of a year) in 2017. And derm is still new but that’s been since I started to manage my trich so probably 2018/2019.
Do your family/friends know?
Yesssssss, my Mom is most active in my treatment with my Dad thereafter. My Mom is really the main parental figure that attended my family therapy appointments with June. My parents have been active parts in my treatment as I would need hospitalizations and crisis support, even if they were one of the last ones to find out about that stuff (sorry, Mom and Dad!). They would call me, visit me in the hospital, bring in my clothing or books or homework. They were through the original family therapy appointments at the OCD-I. They still carry me financially for the most part. They’ve been there to take care of Mokeys and put up with all of my bullshit (which is the avoidance for sure; I need to do more chores, I swear). I live in their house still and it’s been a hot spot of struggle for years and then just betterment in the last three.
As far as my friends, yes, they also know. Most of them also live with their own mental health conditions to be fair.
And beyond my friends, I do advocacy work with NAMI so tons of audience member/strangers know about my recovery too. And I was open about it via my articles at uni. And, relevant to here, I’m still open about it and I tell the entire world my shit. For better or for worse, haha. So yeah, probably the only people who don’t know might be extended family. But pretty much, everyone knows. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of where I’ve come and all that I manage today, which brings me to the next thing:
What are some of your dreams for the future?
Technically not a question in the original post but I’m adding it, because I THINK this is what I was going to write about next (it’s been about 3 hours of work overall and I’m getting tired to be honest), but I’m definitely looking forward to writing my own fiction novel, a RecoveryHome workbook, my memoir and probably novellas or a series of short stories and poetry books. I also still dream of one day giving my own TEDtalk about my recovery journey. I also want to become a Certified Peer Specialist next in my career. I plan to continue watching the MCU movies. I plan to actually finish my fanfics, ahaha. I plan to become more involved with advocacy work, like with CPS and also just with NAMI in general. I would love to make my recovery art projects a thing (all the different R’s involved with that.) I want to get out beyond my bubble of comfort and into driving around the countryside and looking at homes and houses because I’ve always found that soothing. I can’t wait to listen to more and new and old music. I dream of my house’s front door and having rainbow lighthouses everywhere, haha. I’m starting to explore romance in my life and continually trying to let go of fear and let myself live. Existential awareness is still too strange for me but I’ll take it, and deal with it however I can at the moment. 😊😎🤗 Okay, let me be honest, that was a necessary mini break that I needed right there!!!
What helps you to self-soothe?
I swear I won’t jump around too, too much in this post, haha. Here are the types of things I find self-soothing:
Looking at houses and interior/exterior design. It shouldn’t be too much to wonder how I have an entire project set aside called Recovery Home, then, right? Looking at the different types of things people have out and in their homes just fascinates me. I love it. Storage boxes in neat rows and colors, art studio things, windows, types of doors, porches, banisters… I just love it
Driving in the country-side. I definitely find this soothing, just roaming about and learning the road, finding new places. It’s nice. Simple and adventurous and nice.
Libraries. God, I love libraries. Also, is this surprising? My idea of a good time is just being in a library. So fascinating
Book stores and stationery shops, plus other shopping things. I don’t know, there’s something just so nice about to do lists and cute journals or finding nice, new or different art supplies and they’re always coming up with new stuff. I love it. Book stores are so great too. Dangerous to be in because of how much money I’ll spend but still it’s nice to look and write down into my journal which I’ve been doing more often now.
Watching a movie or TV show. Like “Mom” or “Grey’s Anatomy” but you better bring the tissues to the latter! Even when I finally do get myself to watch an MCU movie it’s nice. Work, quite a bit, but it’s nice. Just getting lost in someone else’s head for a while
Ink on Skin. Definitely a great self-soothing crisis type of coping strategy for me. Need I say more?
Reading a book (even if it doesn’t happen as often these days).
Watching a Youtube video but I have to be careful with this because I’ll over-distract and over-avoid.
Creating art or listening to other art while I create art like music and horror stories, ahaha.
Listening to music. Definitely a great skill that one is.
Taking even just 10 mins for myself. If I need a reboot or a moment to just peruse a book, without or very few expectations, this helps. I’ve been able to get a little bit further in a book doing this before. So, this is a nice skill. Maybe falls under ‘brief vacation’ from DBT in the IMPROVE skill
What helps or what could you do when you get triggered to re-stabilize?
Outside of NAMI my longest standing employment is at Amaryllis a trauma informed residential for youth where I work with children aged 4 – 12 years old. I’ve been there almost 2 years now. It’s my more traditional 8 hour shift job (which I have all this weekend and once I FINALLY finish this post I’m gonna re-calibrate for that). I work only about once or twice a week. Regardless, if I get triggered (which does happen) at work I can usually take a quick 5 min or swap with a co-worker, get emotional support from co-workers or feedback of some kind, cry, listen to music, call a hotline or call my Mom about it later too.
Making plans is also really important for me so like coming up with parameters ahead of time of skills I can use and resources I can reach out to is important as well as self-care practices thereafter. So things like small mindfulness exercises help, listening to music, IOS, making artwork, blogging, filming a video, and the like. Sorry, I’m a little off now since I just spoke with my dating friend ahaha.
Overall I think having an idea for how to handle it before then after helps me a lot. I don’t always do my therapy homework though, to be honest, but doing like half hour or hour by hour safety check ins like what would happen in the hospital can be a great last resort. Even going for shopping or being around books helps. Getting out of the house or look at other people’s houses etc. Getting support from family or friends. You get the idea.
What is something you want others to know who are struggling?
It gets better. It really, really does. I could never have imagined this type of life for myself over four or five years ago. It won’t always hurt this badly, life that is and pain, too. My tolerance for pain has increased so much and the human body naturally adapts to new situations. The body and the mind can adapt and pain doesn’t last forever. It can definitely come in waves and it can be like a tsunami sometimes too, and at the same time, I think nowadays I’m only ever in a puddle in comparison to the bigger, more life-threatening things I used to deal with.
Know that it’ll get better. It’ll take a lot of work and effort and time and it will be sooo, so worth it. Build those reasons to stay alive, whether it’s looking forward to a new movie or a video game. That helped me so much when I struggled. Finding something, tangible or abstract, to hold onto counts so, so much. I’d cradle my teddy bear dog stuffie and hold onto the hope that it wouldn’t always be so dark or bad.
And it got better. It did. And now I have dreams and a life and new relationships and things I can now explore and imagine and create and that is so, so special. You will be okay again. And if you need hope, I can hold it out for you until you can carry it yourself. I believe in you. And I’ll believe in you until you can light that candle for yourself, too.
Stay safe and above all, love yourself. 💜💙💚💛🤍
How would you describe your recovery in 5 words?
Optimistic, hopeful, persistent, determination and perseverance.
As for the final points about my chosen thumbnail:
The makeup palette: I’m slowly and gradually getting into makeup and it’s been fun so far and I can’t wait to explore more of it in the years ahead!! Most of my artwork of females has always featured makeup so it’s kinda natural this is where I’m headed 😉😚
Ipod: music is SUCH a big part of my recovery and mental health conditions journey. I’m still listening to music even just alongside this post (I’m on some Iron Man instrumentals now) though not what I started out with ahaha. It’s great though and I love to reference it in my art, which I’ll probably share in a future post this month, if you’re curious!!!
Kiss and profile woman: symbolizing love and romance, exploring that part of me that I’ve left abandoned and rugged for years. It’s nice though, something different to think of and maybe it won’t pan out or maybe it’ll be everything I always wanted and never knew I needed. I’m excited about it. 👄👩❤️👩💟
A photo of me! An old selfie from about fall 2020 sporting my extra big extra glasses haha Just something nice to personalize and humanize this post!!
You Got This: because affirmations are awesome, helpful and I love writing cards and letters to people and giving them out which ALSO includes myself!! (though it’s been forever, I’ll be honest)
Journal: I feel like using the photo that I did from Canva for this project was perfect to create this little collage-like thumb. It was perfect and I got to create all over it even if no actual physical page was marked. It was great and worked out far better using this blank paged journal for me to spread out all my ideas! Yay!
Woman in a dress: I love dresses. I can’t wear them at Amaryllis but I love dresses. They’re just so cute and flow-y. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also mention how much I want to wear a men’s suit one day!! I’ve dreamed of it for years but they’re always too expensive for me. 🤔🤨
But yessssss, that IS ALL THE TIME I have for you and myself and for all of the peeps today.
This post took me many of the hours to write and I’m sick of it and can’t wait to move on to the next thing ahaha. I hope that you enjoyed it though!!!! And we’ll see what post I do tomorrow, honestly, probably celebrating hitting the 500 post milestone!! (at least that won’t wind up being 4k words long)
I lied…. it’s been 5K words long. *sobs internally*
But yeah, I have to go do something else now. I hope there weren’t any or many errors in spelling or grammar because I’m not reading this back over again but do check out the people I linked in this post and the things that I also linked and all of that jazz. Thank you SO MUCH for reading and let me know if you want to do this type of tag on YOUR blog or if you’re interested or want to create your OWN version of it, because I definitely took some creative liberties on mine ahaha.
Thank youuuuuuu. And let me know what you thought down below!! I didn’t do this much work for nothing. Kidding. Ahaha 😅😉😶 I will see you guys tomorrow. The amoutn of spelling errors at the vrey end of this post is concerning. Sigh.
Written from: 3p; 4-7p, phone break for 10 mins, 7:15-7:35p. All written May 7th 2021. Thumb created around 2p, I think, if I had to guess.
“As always, stay safe, take care and be well. Much love and light to you.” — Me in my tag line for the end of my videos. 🖤🤍💜🌈🌞
It’s the third day of this year’s, 2021’s, May march for mental health awareness month. Technically not a march, but if you count the NAMI Walk this year (still virtual) then yes, yes we can call it a march. Let’s me honest, I just ran with the idea right now so we’ve got that going for us, haha.
Regardless, it’s a new post. I am actually probably going to have to either schedule tomorrow’s post or maybe I’ll just skip tomorrow. I have an early work day so I may not get around to sleeping early enough tonight (it’s nearly 9:30p EST) to fully create a post for tomorrow… UNLESS I challenge myself to a short blurb or old poem or something. Hmm, maybe I will do that…
Anyways, hi, I’m a little sleepy and emotionally exhausted.
I’m also a little distracted, not gonna lie.
But I’m gonna try and get through this post. Maybe tomorrow might be a small break or maybe you’ll see something from me. As early as noon and as late as six pm. (Especially if I schedule it).
Sorry, there’s some tension in the household right now.
Right, where was I?
I mean, on one hand I can say that I’ve gotten very tired of living inside my ever constricting fear bubble. There’s been so much in life that I’ve been afraid to do or avoid doing (let’s be honest for a minute) and it’s just irritated me more and more over the years and I got pretty fed up with it. So now I’ve been trying to drive to different towns and places and just get used to the road and actually I’ve definitely associated being in a car to listening to music which could be good or bad, depending (like if you were my Mom today).
I’m also still reeling I think from being so disrespected by a teen at work on Saturday. I only really noticed this today when I continued to get fed up with my anxiety and avoidance and was back to watching videos to waste my time (something I’m really struggling with, back on Day #1 all over again (I started the original day 1 at about Apr. 5th) probably unhelped by the fact that I haven’t properly written out my thought challenges lists) and sleeping during the day (to be fair, I woke up at 8a today, which, besides weekend work days, is super early for me). I’ve also been pulling and picking really badly, I definitely have another right ear infection at the moment and my left isn’t faring much better. Then my left thumb has a scab and my knuckle really, really hurts so I have some limited, stiff movement in that. My other thumb has a mark from some skin picking I did Saturday too. Grrr. Today was a frequent pull day.
Even when I finally got myself to just get up and DO something by 5:15p and I got myself to listen to music and shower (which was such a lovely reset!) I was pulling then too.
That’s why I was really pulling (wait…no pun intended!) for going to get crochet supplies today.
If you’ve forgotten, or you’re new, I wound up on some crochet blogs about Friday or so, or at least late last week, and I’ve finally decided to try it out for myself and see if I like it. But I definitely kept pushing off going and my Mom was gonna come with me and I was just getting super frustrated that we were both not doing what we should be doing (I can say, happily, I ate lunch today and began some blogging notes and goal’s for the month between 2:25p – 3:00p so that was really good and a big highlight!) and it was just irritating.
Then my Mom kinda crossed some boundaries with me verbally, she was joking but I was already kinda off, something else was going on which was worrying me in the back of my mind and it was the one time I didn’t bring my headphones with us going out because I haven’t been needing or using them each time I’ve brought them and it was just too much of a collection of little things plus having been so disrespected on Sat. that when my Mom suggested we just go back home I was like, “Yeah, I’d like that.” You know, she was saying how I could go by myself and I agreed and wanted to.
I just hate being in a car and feeling trapped like that because where can you go when you’re having a disagreement?
Kinda like at work that day. Kinda like when you have to trust your GPS when it’s raining, your windshield wipers are busted a little (true story, I have to remember to tell someone about that), it’s dark so you can’t see well, you’re in unfamiliar areas so you go your stickler slow speed (mine is 35 mph. If it’s a highway: 55 mph), and you have to just trust in the process and that it’ll get you there one way or another and if you take the wrong turn or think you did it’ll just recalculate so the pain of it is a little better than being stuck in a car with someone you’re mad at.
Or kinda like how my phone is dying after 7 years and its functionality is so compromised. I got a bad cut on my phone where the screen at the very mid point of the screen above the physical keyboard got busted so there’s an ever increasing crack and glass falling out; if I send a text message at the same time someone sends me one my phone refuses to load and takes at least 40 mins to actually do so (which drains the battery exponentially); sometimes I can send a message and it eats it and never sends it (like if I get a reply at the same time), and 3/4 of the sites I try and go on when online don’t load because they’re not compatible with my phone. So, at this point, it’s just a mess. And sometimes when I really need to reach out to someone it just fucks me over. Radically so.
Besides that, I don’t know what terminology would fit this next thing but I had a friend for like 3 years that goes by they/them pronouns and we’ve recently revealed that we both had a crush on one another years ago and are now starting to date and see how that goes. I feel like it’s in that weird like, we’re not partners yet but we’re more than friends and conventional he/him, she/her pronouns wouldn’t fit the gender specific friend name so I’m confused. But my dating friend turned out to be really struggling today, they also have mental health conditions like myself (I’m also gay by the way, let’s just air that out. I’ve been meaning to say that since June 2020, not gonna lie) and were thinking they would have to go inpatient and I was super supportive and kind about it (we’ve been hanging out biweekly since maybe end of Feb this year?) and all the good things though I definitely noticed the worry in the back of my mind.
Like, my friend was doing everything preventative in their power and I think while some of it is their stuff more of it is MY fears:
My worry for them: will they be okay? What will happen? How long will the stay be? How soon will they be out?
My pain for my friend because very recently I was experiencing similar (or an inkling of similar)
My questioning my own self: A couple weeks ago, that could have been me.
My questioning what if I need that level of support again? What’s the game plan then?
The biggest thing of course with the fourth thing is the distinction: how would I be receiving that help? Had I volunteered myself to the hospital or did I act on my thoughts before getting there?
And even BIGGER than that: If I was hospitalized again, which I know and have accepted may happen at some point in my life, and depending on how I got there, would my current 3 years hospital free start over from zero? Would I lose all my progress? Would I lose my milestone? Would I have to start all over? Would it be like 2016 where I went 9 months hospital free and then 2018 being 3 years and then this next time another arbitrary amount? (Depending on how I sought help, would it be a lapse or a relapse?)
And lastly: Career. Current but more so future. I want to go into certified peer specialist but you have to be a year hospital free (inpatient) and one year out of outpatient services (I think this means day programs but I’m still not sure) which to me is a big factor in being more hesitant to ask for the help that I may need if I need it.
Additionally, since 2018 things have been different. I’ve noticed this in support groups as of the last year: I gauge the crowd before I say the things that are bothering me. Like, I don’t trust as easily as I used to or something or if I do reveal something I don’t reveal everything, I offer a small morsel, see how it lands and if it doesn’t go well I shelf the idea of actually opening up further.
Part of this is because of a few things:
I’m afraid if I struggle, or more so admit when I’m struggling, I won’t be as much of an inspiration anymore or a “success story”
I “should” learn how to self-soothe and self-manage because not everyone is going to be there for me all the time
I need to relearn what are psychiatric emergencies (I still go zero to one hundred and all or nothing thinking and avoidance behaviors and catastrophizing so that hasn’t changed and so I go fast into intrusive thoughts than maybe the average person might without mental health conditions) like I first did in my recovery 6 years ago and what plans does that all involve now or that need to be implemented
Another fear I’ve been having which I lightly touched on is that fear of romantic or platonic relationships. Fear of living, in a lot of ways. Fear of love because what happens when I lose it? Fear of health because … because two people with health problems is a lot to handle. Fear of crossing state lines driving wise. Fear of my emotions and thoughts (and so over-distracting all of the time to avoid thinking or feeling them; which is only a temporary fix). Fear of reigniting old pathways and self-destructive behavior (and co dependencies; why in some ways I avoid asking for help at work sometimes or am careful about reassurance seeking). Fear of avoiding avoiding. Fear of change. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of less than perfect. Fear of reading comprehension skills because they’re severely lacking than they once were. Fear of attack (although honestly I think I can handle online shit far better than in real life scenarios). And just on and on and on.
Speaking of exhausting… I’m exhausted.
This post doesn’t really have a bright pink bow with a pleasant, smiley happy ending. I don’t really know where it is exactly. I can say that when I did return home I went back out again and figured out a lot of what I wrote here tonight during that car ride aloud. I also wound up in Staples where I bought a NEW video editing software, not something I’ve ever tried before and have already begun to research now hooray. It was even on sale so that was great. Then at Michael’s I bought varnish for painting, finally, and crochet hooks and three piles of yarn. I’ll probs try it out tomorrow a little before work but then I’ll be gone pretty much all day. Actually, shit, yeah, like 12 hours. Damn. So that means I should be going to bed NOW.
I’ll let you know how things go. I’d LOVE to do some reading tomorrow. God, wouldn’t that be nice.
But I have to sleep. I’m honestly falling over right now and I still have tags to work with haha. Overall, I’ve been fed, I’ve rubbed my doggo and I have new hobbies arriving soon. These adventures, these things I’ve never done before, are in fact terrifying. And very likely worth it. And I deserve the good things. So that’s where I’ll go from here. Baby steps, tomorrow is a fresh day and everything will work out in the end. Cool, yeah.
What did you think of this blog post? Is there something you’ve been avoiding in your life? Or something new that you’re about to launch yourself into?
Thank you so much for reading and interacting with this post!!!
Can’t wait to see you again soon. Whether that’s tomorrow or Wed.
Sending all the best hugs, light and love.
PS I’m gonna challenge myself to not reread this post and just publish it without all consuming editing… Maybe just one walk through actually. 😉 Added a couple of things. This post was written 5/3/2021 from 9:30p – 10:30p EST
Welcome to May and it’s Mental Health Awareness Month (alongside borderline personality disorder (BPD) or Emotionally Unstable personality disorder (EUPD) awareness month as well). For the month of May, my goal is to return to the world of blogging each day (if not five or maybe six times a week) with some sort of blog post along the topic of mental health conditions awareness, some fun stuff and recovery oriented endeavors.
As today is the first, I will be sharing a fresh new story that I’m apparently embarking on. It’s actually an original story (so, not fan fiction) with original characters and a timeline that I have no idea will be explored. I’d say the chapters will probably act more as one-shots but that may change at the same time too.** (**If you’d be interested to see my character description for our main character, let me know in a comment and I’ll do a dedicated post to that in the future!! Or you could just wait until I describe it more naturally as the story goes on. Either way 😁😊)
I basically needed to vent from work today so this is what I came up with to do just that. All the names and characters and true inspiration has been changed for confidentiality purposes and so I won’t be discussing so much what happened to me in real life but rather through the bits and pieces of what really happened and how I’m going to handle my reactions towards those things.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to handle either being disrespected or teenagers, thaaaaaat’d be great. Leave them in a comment down below!!! Teenagers are definitely pretty ruthless so any feedback on how to not take their scathing replies personally or how to leave work stuff behind at work and not take it home with you would be SO helpful for me!! I’d love your feedback in any way that I can gobbler it in.
My plan with the rest of today (as I do have work again tomorrow morning): is to reread and edit this first chapter, place it into this post without further much ado, watch maybe a Grey’s Anatomy episode on Netflix, brainstorm ideas for tomorrow’s post (whether that’s a tag, an old film review, watching a new MCU movie, etc.), reading a book, gaming with Animal Crossing and then just going to sleep early is well, erm, that’s it, that’s my plan. 😁😅🤗
So, here is my story and let me know in the comments what you think!! I’ll be back tomorrow to see you all again. I’ve honestly been trying to write a couple of blog posts behind the scenes but this is the first time it’s really gotten further than just rewriting the same sentence or working only a little on a MCU movie review.
Any ways, that’s it. Thanks for reading!!!
“One Woman’s Persistence”
It wasn’t exactly the type of job she’d ever imagined for herself.
Sure, she’d worked with kids before.
Okay, they were her siblings. No surprise there.
But she didn’t realize, didn’t think, couldn’t have imagined that she’d be where she is now, scrubbing running mascara off her face in the bathroom, her shoulders shaking uncontrollably as hot tears rolled down her white highlighted cheeks.
“Damn,” she croaked, her voice breaking between her sobs.
I really thought I was stronger than this.
And, naturally of course, following that was:
If I knew I’d be crying today, I wouldn’t have worn so much makeup.
She couldn’t help but let out an airy chuckle bitterly.
This wasn’t exactly the way she thought her job would go. She was working at a trauma informed residential for youth where they were placed to protect their safety and to stabilize their moods before they went through either adoption or foster care.
They were rambunctious little five-year old’s up to twelve-year old’s that needed a hefty amount of redirection but it wasn’t them she had trouble with. Rather, this crying spell was because of the cruelty in words the older teens had unleashed.
Sure, she understood it wasn’t (necessarily) personal. They were going through hell and abandonment themselves, lashing out at anyone not just because they could but because, maybe, they thought these other adults could take it?
But Jazz would be kidding herself and making a mockery of her tear-stained face if she ever dared to think she could have taken it—because, obviously, she couldn’t.
And it was more than just the disrespect that stung. It was more than the power struggle, the embarrassment that sizzled on her skin for having other teens present to witness her humiliation, it was more than all of that and had everything to do with the frequent verbal leadup that eclipsed the entire event, pushing Jazz past her breaking point.
“Go back to your fucking little kids house where you belong.” The teen, red-faced and blue eyes narrowed in a glare had growled. “Who do you think you are? Telling me what to do?” the teen, Pez, spat, because his words slid out like the candied pieces of a Pez machine, his white skin, freckled and red, resembling more of a caricature than a real human being. “I ain’t some three-year-old you can boss around. I’m seventeen. I’m human. You can’t tell me what to do.” Pez looked down for a moment, hairs bristled. “You ain’t my Momma.”
Hate sliced through him again, “Get the fuck outta here.”
He leaned back in his chair, the wood smacking the wall as it angled.
Jazz had wanted so much to have a clever retort, a witty comeback, a swift end of discussion maneuver, a challenge to return even if it was only verbal.
But instead, all she felt were the tears coming. And she was alone.
No other staff on this side of the house within the facility of five other houses and she couldn’t just run away, either.
Instead, she just bit her lip taunt, teeth clamping onto hot pink, like she was doing now, between the hiccups of pain and the scars of a fresh wound.
When she did manage to get away, about twenty minutes after the air had returned to cool and she could see the lashing fading from the teen’s body, and cast a glimmer of pain at her none the wiser co-worker (save me, please) she drifted away to the bathroom where she was bawling in now.
Jazzelle hadn’t had it easy growing up in her dysfunctional household: with parents that split on each other in a nasty divorce, her mother ending up taking her own life and her father drowning in his guilt as he remarried—Jazzelle often had to be the parent for herself and even more so later when her two younger siblings came into the picture, at least twelve years younger than her, by which Jazz was then sixteen.
By the time Jazz was a junior in high school, she had to lay herself down to the grass and give up: the trauma had been too much to bear alone and she realized she could no longer keep up in school (what was the point anyhow? She’d never make it to college) and had to drop out.
She got small jobs here and there, not much to help in rent or fun excursions, but it was better than nothing which was what she would have had without them.
Yeah, most nights she went hungry, but her sisters Margarette and Janese got to eat and that’s all that really counted.
By eighteen, Jazz was on her feet better than ever, or at least for the time being, as she moved out and got her own apartment with two roommates and assisted state living, succeeding in getting her GED and beginning cosmetology school.
Two and a half years after and thrust in the workforce, she found that while still passionate for her own self-expression and handling jobs on the side focused on hair and makeup, it wasn’t her main source of fulfillment anymore and the thought of doing it for the rest of her life was both nauseating and choke holding.
She had to crawl her way out of that existential crisis alone, too, but once she managed, she found her growing love for photography was maybe something worth pursuing professionally.
So, that’s what she had done.
She applied to a school in the city, packed up her bags and dove right in.
Four years into it after taking one year off, she was still working for her degree when she landed the position, part-time, at the residential.
While toying with the idea of wandering into a sociology degree, in the spare time that Jazzelle never had, she’d be entering into her forty-second week working before she was introduced to the older teens facilities upon her work’s campus. Sure, she’d have covered breaks before or arrived at the very end of the night or given out medications, but this time was her first time really thrown to the wolves as in being alone working on that side of the house with the teenage boys.
So, while things hadn’t exactly gone to plan: between her muffled cries, the snot and all the tears; the disrespect; the incessant tomfoolery; the blaming herself like when she did after her mother’s passing and the high natural order that she’d have to be back to work tomorrow morning—between all of that…maybe Jazz could have done more to prevent this from happening.
She was still slowly getting used to the fact that she didn’t work in a vacuum of space: she and her co-workers were a team and they protected one another, laying upon each other when they needed it, supporting, not always agreeing, and definitely offering feedback and posing the necessary questions.
…Jazz knew this.
It was just hard, still, to ask for help. To not just be the independent, strong woman she had needed to always be for herself, and to finally say, ‘Hey, maybe I can’t and don’t have to handle this alone.’
It was help that totally would have, if supplied right and given at the most opportune moment, completely prevented this sob story for having played out.
Jazz couldn’t have been crying for more than ten minutes but it felt like a forever sense of eternal damnation that she just wasn’t and couldn’t have properly prepared for.
But one small knock on the door, a tapping really, and she was reeling herself back in.
Forget what she could have done, what she could have said, what should or shouldn’t have happened, it was done and over with and while her voice was still hoarse and shaky as she mentioned, “Just a second,” her blue-green eyes fixed their stare at her reflection. She could see the lines on her face, the wrinkles like the Grand Canyon upon her forehead, her face battered from wearing the storm and when she scrunched up her pink lips, half crumpled with gloss and still half in place, she let out a long sigh and put that game face of hers back into play.
She’d handle the rest of the shift.
If she was lucky: away from Pez.
If not, tolerating him would have to be enough.
And while she may have a shake in her step or the hypervigilance to be aware of Pez and where his arms were at, she knew she’d be okay.
She knew she’d make it in tomorrow.
Because that’s just what Jazz did.
In the face of adversity, she persisted.
Written: May 1st 2021 between 4:45p – 6p; typed at 6:15p, edited by 7p, uploaded by 7:30p EST.
Thank you all so much once more, and let’s all hail for tomorrow’s upcoming return!!!
When you’re stressed out, how do you manage your emotions? Is there something you can turn to pretty easily to self-soothe and practice self-care? What could you do to challenge yourself in one small way going forwards?
Themes: Recovery, hope, positivity, wellness, light in the darkness, a couple of resources
I haven’t done a blog post like this in years. I also hadn’t intended for this to BE a blog post. I spend over an hour and a half crafting a lengthy Youtube comment on Tamron Hall’s video interviewing Camryn Clifford, the content creator behind a million and a half subscribers on Youtube’s channel Cam&Fam, but I had so much to say for her video, no place to put it and decided I’d just leave it under Tamron’s instead.
However, upon crafting it, reading it over and editing it, adding the final touches…. the comment button told me it was too long and that I needed to shorten it.
Granted, it was long. I wrote about 3,000 words and either the channel itself or Youtube just wasn’t about that life. I get it. I understand.
So I went about highlighting and copying a part of it, after I copied the whole thing, just in case any slip of the keyboard happened and I’d lose all my work.
So I did that. I made the comment. Then I went to reply to it.
Except Youtube was all “this reply cannot exist” like a big middle finger to my work and I refreshed the new tab to see why….
My comment was not listed under new.
Visible confusion settled on my face.
But how could this be? Maybe it just hadn’t loaded yet?
So I hit refresh, and refreshed. And refreshed. And nope, whatever happened, whatever Youtube or the channel didn’t like just wiped it clean as if it never even took place (which is strange and hey, maybe it’s possible there’s gonna be a delay of some kind, which I hope not but I guess it’ll have me checking back in later regardless).
Anyways, I decided, “Well, okay then.” and mentioned it on Twitter, pasted it to a Word document and now I’m going to share it here because I wrote it, I spent all that time on it, and why the hell not at this point.
So, here it is:
For some further backstory (and there will be a TL;DR at the end, don’t you worry!) I found out all about this story yesterday at, ironically, a doctor’s appointment for some other physical health issue. It was on TV and the show had spoken about the memoirs of a family generational thing about bipolar I disorder. It was interesting, a bit stigmatizing at parts, but interesting. The next story was about Camryn’s family, her life and her husband’s Landon, untimely death by suicide. It was very moving and awfully sad. I found the video today where she spoke about the suicide in much more detail, which I’m hesitant to share directly here because it does cover explicit details of the suicide, the method and her reaction (which my heart absolutely goes out to her and I want her to know that it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know and couldn’t have and hindsight is always so much brighter and understandable than the worst thing happening right in the moment, and my wishes go out to her to get through this hard time with the support of her fans, friends and family) which was very sobering and somber and pretty responsible while still be potentially triggering. There are some flaws in it, of course, which I tried to cover in my recanting of my own story and experiences. I’ll see you guys at the end:
Hello to anyone who finds this comment in the forest of other comments. I’d like to add my thoughts and share parts of my story on the matter because Camryn’s main video on the subject was showing disabled comments. The opinions I’ll be sharing are my own and have been carefully laid out in my mind this morning since I watched her main video discussing Landon’s death. Most of my thoughts are backed up by regulations and experiences with suicidality and suicide prevention measures. For now, feel free to skim this comment or if you have the time, read it word for word (which I shall give you a ray of sunshine for!)….
So, as far as myself, I am a mental health advocate deep within the throes of sharing my own story living with mental health conditions across professional and personal endeavors. I’ve been doing advocacy since Mar. 2016 and am still going strong. I’ve lived with OCD on self-harm and suicide obsessions (not genuine intent, rather intrusive thoughts that I feared would equal action even when the last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself), secondary depression, genuine thoughts of hurting myself, Borderline Personality Disorder and most currently trichotillomania (hair-pulling) and dermatillomania (skin-picking). I became involved with advocacy in 2016 through my state’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which is all about sharing stories of recovery, hope and the darkness in order to de-stigmatize these conditions and spread the message that recovery IS possible and better days are ahead and our lives inherently matter. I also used to write publicly about my recovery journey in my university’s newspaper. At the time, I really struggled with my mental health and trying to find peace and freedom and over the course of three years I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation 12 times. The longest I went being hospital free was in 2016 for 9 months. I relapsed and in 2017 was hospitalized a total of 5 times. I’ve made three minor attempts on my life and one moderate one.
In 2018 the depression came back worse than ever after about two months of stability/symptom free management after having six treatments of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). When that depression hit, everything got very, very dark. I stopped believing that my life was important and that things would get better. I wrote about 7 articles for my paper that were all shrouded in darkness and chronicling how I felt so alone and so worthless and so intent on ending my life. My parents called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and it kicked off my 11th hospitalization and note-worthingly, the first time I ever didn’t ask for help myself. I went in to that hospitalization and came back out feeling no different. I was still intent on my plans and preparing my method, carrying it around everywhere I went on the chance that something would “push me over the edge” and it would all be over with. I felt this immense amount of calm. I was so happy and it felt like I could breathe again for the first time in a long time. I knew I wasn’t going to have to face tomorrow but even with these feelings… I would still question my decision, I would still be ambivalent and wonder “But what if… What if tomorrow everything changed? What if I feel differently in a month or three or a year?” but I was scared. I was scared because I felt in so deep. Like, I had wasted all this time planning my death, going over every excruciating detail, setting up fail safes–ways to reach out in the end just in case I changed my mind–and it was an agonizing process.
The game changed for me when one of the articles I wrote….came off darker and more concerning than I ever thought fully through. My uni called me directly while I was attending a long term day program, and it was a mixture of freaking out thinking I’d have another wellness check waiting for me at home, the chaos that was erupting at school, the fact that some of my peers at the day program were honest about where they were struggling and how that reminded me that /I/ used to do that and it made me wonder if I could do that again (be open and honest about my struggles)…
I wound up talking with my friend from the paper at school the next day and it was really that conversation, that moment of hope shone into the darkness. My friend said how I wasn’t myself and my articles had taken such a dark turn. That normally in all the time before this my articles would shine with hope and positivity but they were lacking in that now. For me, fearing that nobody would notice or nobody would care if I died meant everything so even just having this insight that my friend wanted me to be okay and wanted me to live to see that day meant the world. I decided, after talking with another friend who seemed off around me, that I could either tell them what was happening, go to the counseling center on emergency or I could talk to my day program the next day. I decided I’d wait another moment and the next day I was driven to the day program, for easier phrasing I’ll call it Passages, and at first I was still going to go along with it but then I got a little triggered by something that was said and then I got angry and upset and I was adding another method to my plan and was already planning my exit strategy when in, I think, a group therapy instance it was asked directly if I was safe and I said, “No.” The group leader, who happened to be my clinician on my case, said we would speak privately after.
When she and I did, it was determined I needed to get help right then and there. The thing people don’t always realize is that mental health and especially in cases of suicidal ideation, they are public health emergencies. Just as someone having to go to the ER for a heart attack, the same is true for suicidality or homicidality. There is an excellent acronym for warning signs of suicide from the American Association on Suicide Prevention called: IS PATH WARM? Luckily, over time I had managed to learn when I needed help and when a hospitalization would be more necessary.
I was still afraid. I was afraid to let go of what had become so… comfortable in order to trade it in for a life that felt uncertain to take a risk on. But I did go. I got picked up by ambulance and taken to the ER. I was stripped of my clothing and items. I waited in there for a few hours, was assessed by the crisis team and deemed necessary to be admitted. I honestly don’t remember that much from that instance but I remember the last hospitalization I went through. I remember the weekend psychiatrist made a remark that I found relatable and hilarious when he said, from the hospital previous that had actually decreased my antidepressants, “They kinda fucked you over, didn’t they?” And that’s exactly how it felt. I was hospitalized that last time on Feb. 14th 2018.
Hospitalizations for mental health aren’t like a lot of the movies. There aren’t padded cells and a lot more of the people there are broken internally and just need help and support. Everything is watched and documented and we aren’t allowed laces or belts or strings or spiral bound notebooks and in some places not staples or pens. It all depends on the place. The rules in some places are more strict and in others more relaxed. Sometimes it’s a shit show, other times it’s a moment of restabilization and where the story is just beginning.
I got out of the hospital about a week later. The better days didn’t start right away. But by May 2018 I was recommended to join the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Intensive program at Passages. This meant that (and I should probably mention for anyone who doesn’t know, this day program meant that I’d go three days a week from 9:30a – 2:45p and go to various groups like art therapy, mindfulness, group therapy, DBT therapy groups, goal groups, communications etc.) I would only see a therapist on site at Passages, I would be in the Intensive program for 6-8 months as one cycle and that I’d have to complete homework assignments each week and fill out these things called diary cards that would track my moods and behaviors each day.
I made the decision to enter into it and began it. It was hands down the best decision I ever made. DBT covers four main modules: interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, mindfulness and emotion regulation. Across this time frame I managed to enter my final semester of schooling, I wrote again positivitely and healthily for the newspaper, I ended a codependent friendship I was in (which was so hard but so, so necessary; I didn’t even realize it was codependency until a year later when my friend mentioned they had noticed that pattern, when I told my therapist and family about it and when my family therapist, June, finally said straight up that if I continued with the friendship I was going to wind up back in the hospital, and at the time, I didn’t want that.) I also made the realization with this codependent relationship ending that: “No one and no thing is worth being suicidal over.”
It was such a profound statement that I never could have anticipated would be such a game changer. I went from chronic suicidality to an issue that faded away. I still get urges or I can still get triggered but through DBT and learning the skills and practicing the skills and telling my story and building that life worth living–I don’t ever want to go back to the darkness. And it’s still hard sometimes because my brain likes to glorify those dark thoughts and suicidal ideation was always about fantasizing it in a way for me, I guess like how others would fantasize about sex, I just did it with the ultimate avoidance which was death. Not exactly the healthiest or happiest relationship, by far. But every day I made it closer and closer to being out of the hospital, closer and closer to finding health and happiness and stability, the further away I made it from my struggles.
It took a lot of work. It took a lot of effort. It took a lot of handling pain in a different way than ever before. It took definitely something about signing paper ‘safety contracts’ that always had a great habit of me having that voice in the back of my head saying “I can’t hurt myself because I said I wouldn’t. I meant what I said. I can’t go back.” So I wouldn’t.
I wound up graduating from college. I wound up getting retrained for a few NAMI ventures. I ended the DBT-I in January 2020 and moved on from Passages by June 2020. I got a relief job at a trauma informed residential for youth and, besides NAMI, it’s been my longest standing job (Sep. 2019 – present). I’m so much happier now. With the pandemic hitting in 2020, it was probably the best time for things to go to shit. Because by then I had all the skills, all the time and the effort and the training to be able to handle it in a creative and healthy way.
Sure, I still struggle nowadays with hair pulling and skin picking and avoidance in other ways and procrastination and all of that. But I finally found a life worth living. I spend my days making Youtube videos (though I’m seriously behind in the editing process!!), reading books for fun, blogging, writing fan fiction, journaling and shopping and working.
As of 2021, I’ve been hospital free for 3 years. I know life can be unpredictable and I have come to accept I may need further treatment and support like in a hospital setting in the future. I am wary of it but I know, too, that if I need it, it’s there. I plan to one day become a Certified Peer Specialist and to share my story more through videos, blog posts, public speaking and writing and publishing books. I have SO many dreams. So many things I want to accomplish. It’s been such a hard road here and I’ve faced recovery burnout last year and it still marinates into today at times however I wouldn’t change anything about my journey because it all lead to this moment. I’ve made my mistakes, sure, and I’ve been slow to accept that these times were traumatic, yet how I handle my emotions today is so different than 3 or 4 years ago. Now, stability is my baseline. Now, I’m happy and I’m so grateful that I didn’t end my life. That that didn’t have to happen.
I know suicide, a lot of the time, because of mental health conditions, seems like freedom. But in death, can we truly be free? Because in death, we can’t experience anything really. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just dead. I believe that knowing pain makes appreciating life and the beauty in it–recognizing that it can be absolute shit at times and be so horrible–and still seeing all the beauty in it, that’s life. It’s hard to understand and it’s very difficult to have conversations about suicide.
But we have to have them. Because it matters. Because our lives matter and we’re all interconnected. Sharing suicide methods in those whom have ended their lives isn’t the best and isn’t part of the regulations for suicide prevention programs because it can cause copycat suicides (encourages others to try those types of methods). Being specific about methods is most appropriate in a one to one conversation with treatment teams. Additionally, in the US, people do not “commit suicide”, they die by suicide. They kill themselves. They take their own lives. “Committed suicide” is more like terminology of someone “committing rape, committing murder”, because those are crimes. Suicide, suicide is a public health emergency. And it’s not going away any time soon. All of this social isolation is troubling and mental health systems, the very, very broken systems, are at their wits end and it’s time that reform and true change can happen.
I have no doubt that Camryn sharing her and Landon’s story will help so, so many people out there. I watched her video and it brought me to tears so many times. It’s so, so hard. Landon likely didn’t die, like in most suicide cases, by just ONE thing, it’s almost always a complicated, multiple layered reason. Asking if someone is thinking of hurting themselves or ending their lives will NOT put the idea in their head. It actually can provide so much space to have a conversation, for someone to realize “Hey, you’re not okay and I’m really worried about you. Are you having thoughts of suicide?” because in my experience, I’ve wanted so badly for someone to notice, someone to ask or someone to just say “Hey, I see you. You’re in pain. It’s going to be okay.” And sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, I didn’t really need advice or platitudes or anything like that. I just needed someone to see it and offer specific ways they could help me or just encourage me to see the hope that I felt so blinded to or to call for the ambulance.
I don’t think suicide is ever the solution (particularly in terms of mental health conditions). I think suicide is a permanent action to a temporary crisis. I think it’s important to know that not everyone’s experiences are the same, that it has to be adjusted and tailored to the person in question. For instance, telling me how much people would be in pain if I ended my life only made me feel shittier and more like I should do that. Telling me I had so much to live for invalidated that I was in pain NOW and that I couldn’t cope with it NOW. Mentioning different types of methods or saying how certain things would or would not kill me also wasn’t helpful.
We could spend all day wondering what would have happened differently, that’s the horrible pain left behind on suicide survivors (which are the people left behind from a loved one’s suicide, not suicide attempt survivors themselves). We could spend agonizing time wondering about things that just didn’t play out in this reality. Again, there’s so many factors involved. Had I said something else, had I mentioned this, had I been faster or quicker or… these are the unanswered questions. They will carry pain and hurt for a long time. Even when dealing with a friend in crisis, it’s so, so important to take care of yourself, too. Think of the water pitcher, we can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can put on others. The NSPL is available for anyone struggling with ideation, their friends and family, and others who just need some support or someone to bounce ideas off of. I’ve used the hotline on my phone and over chat many times and if it wasn’t always super helpful, I found it to be helpful to at least be a starting point.
Overall, if there is life, there is hope. I wish for Camryn’s story to help anyone else out there. I wish for Landon to rest a little easier. I wish for those who were fans of them to find not so much closure (grief never ends, it’s an ongoing and changed relationship) but acceptance of the untimely death and to learn how important it is to tell people you love them and you appreciate them or just say a kind word or thought to them. Additionally, I’d like to thank anyone who managed to read this far. Honestly, I didn’t really expect to say this much but that’s how it wound up rolling. I will leave a TL;DR at the very end. I hope that if you’re struggling out there, that you know one day you’ll be okay again. That you’re not alone. That your life really matters. And you’re worthy of this life and you were born strong enough to live it. If anyone needs to speak to a hotline, you could use the US one if you’re here at 1800 273 TALK (8255) or Google your local hotlines in whichever country you’re from. Thank you so, so much for reading. I don’t expect this to make it super far, yet I feel more peace now too. In loving memory of Landon Clifford, who was taken too soon and didn’t get to see, like so many others killed, that there were better days right ahead. For all those grieving, I am with you in spirit and I am sending as much healing and bright light as I can. Be well and above all, stay safe. XXX
TL;DR: This video sums up my experiences with mental health conditions and suicidality and then you can skip to Paragraph #6. I know it’s a lot. I don’t fault you for not reading. Take care out there. xxx 🖤🖤🖤🖤
And that is all that I wanted to say. If you can spare a moment, send a prayer to Camryn and her family–her two young daughters, her loss of Landon, and his family and her own family going forwards. May she find hope and blessings in her future endeavors as she continues to share her story of also living with depression and anxiety, sharing on a large platform her story, his story (that he can no longer tell) and more. She has begun a nonprofit organization in his memory and will be doing a podcast about it too. May everyone find peace, on this plane and the next.
Thank you so much for reading all of my words.
Landon, I didn’t know you before. I only heard of you yesterday. But it feels like I knew you. I would have liked to get to know you. I’m so sorry you were in so much pain. I remember the feeling. It is so, so hard to bear alone. I wish things could have gone as differently for you as they had for me. And I knew, and took some odd comfort in the idea in my recovery and my journey of life and dealing with suicidal thoughts, that some people live to tell the tale and some don’t. And was I going to be the person to tell my story myself or was I going to be one of those that didn’t make it? That choice, ultimately, was my own (which is not to say things couldn’t have stopped me like an ambulance, a hospitalization, worries, etc.) whether I took my life or I took the cards I was dealt and played the hand differently. I wish you could have gotten that chance. I’m sorry that you didn’t. Rest in Peace.
And may all of you else out there find hope and comfort soon. Please take care of yourselves and strive to be the best human out there possible. We all need more love and appreciation. And if we wait too long, sometimes we never get the chance to show it. A difficult truth, indeed.
Relevantly, The Overnight (Out of the Darkness) walk for suicide prevention and for those survivors of attempts or loved ones dying is coming up virtually online in June 2021. If you’d like to join there is a $20 sign up fee and a fundraiser for the event. I believe it occurs on a Saturday. I’ve left the link above. Take care everyone.
I’ve worked on a few book reviews in the months of Nov. mostly but it’s January 2021, a whole new year now, and I just need to find a place to write out my thoughts and work through my feelings and since a fanfic chapter wouldn’t work, here I am.
Returning to my roots.
I just need some space. That’s all.
And then I’ll try and handle everything else.
So, it’s been a while.
I don’t remember what my last post was. I don’t even really care right now either. I’ve had a helluva day and I’d like it to be over very soon. I’ve been more active on my Youtube channel, I attempted a Vlogmas 2020 but that kinda fell flat although I have plenty of footage from trying so that’s something. I posted a video last like two weeks ago, I think. I have more to work on and edit and handle soon. But as with everything in my life these days: I tackle one small thing and thirty others that I’ve been avoiding reappear and pop back up and I’m in a sliding scale of trying to maintain my sanity and my head on a level front and I just… I can’t.
And I don’t know where to go from here.
I’m just so lost, and lazy, and sad, and confused. My headphones jack wasn’t working on my new laptop so that was a hell of a 15 mins of trying to reconfigure that. I tried to install my second–third? Does having Windows Movie Maker built into my old laptop count?–video editing software back on Sun (or was it Sat?) and that blew up in my face and didn’t work because I’ve lost the serial number somewhere and I can’t work with the program. So, that sucked. I’m still only able to edit on WMM on my old laptop. And if that stops working? I’m basically fucked. I haven’t tried Pinnacle yet so I will do that next. But not today. I can’t handle one more letdown.
I managed to do some laundry which I’m glad about. I just have to toss them into the dryer now. I was trying to fix my bed because my Mom’s been complaining about it and made me aware of how much I’ve been avoiding it the past few months but somewhere in the middle of trying to fix it, I lost 1/4 of the space I had due to my pillows, (I almost said planets, ahaha), blankets, pajamas and toys. So that REALLY pissed me off. I tried to listen to music and the washer has been having problems. My ankle hurts today, I don’t know why, it didn’t before, but since 4:45p it was hurting and it hasn’t stopped. Maybe I twirled it wrong trying to crack it. It still hurts. But I was SO close to kicking with a socked foot the washer machine ’cause I was angry and all but I managed to not do that, luckily. Probably would have broken something. I listened to music instead and then I used opposite action and rubbed and talked to my doggo, Mokeys. That helped a lot.
Then the headphone jack happened. That was annoying. Luckily I managed to fix it (the sound was only coming out of the laptop’s speakers and not on my connected headphones)–I fiddled with it from a Google search and then default and disabling functions from speaker to headphones. Luckily it’s okay again. There is some hope yet that it won’t be a further issue in the future.
I fell asleep at 7:30p last night. I woke up at 4:30a today. I was up for two hours. I got together my laundry clothes and played Animal Crossing on the Switch. I woke again at 10a and tried to uncover the reasons for why my memory is so shit now and why and how I can be so distracted and all the things I had to do, spoke to my Mom and felt more overwhelmed and somewhat invalidated here and there and just worried about work and how I’ve been struggling in that realm even–mixing up rules and being too lazy there to do certain things, my difficulties with it, how to fix it or where to even start–and then I fell asleep a little again and was a little late to my saliva COVID-19 test. But I got there and it was okay. I got more gas for my car and the check engine light is permanently on but apparently it’s just from a misfiring connection from under the seat so it’s okay for now. I had work on Sun (as well as Th and Fri for the holidays) and it was a HARD shift. I had a day off and now tomorrow I have another work night. I hope it will go better. I don’t really believe in it that strongly though.
I’m just tired. I’m so tired of my bullshit and I’m just disappointed. I just want to coast by on my little irreparable boat and not have to worry about one thing or another. Like, why can’t I just coast for a while? I’m so tired. I just want it all to stop, for a little while. A break. Something nice. A reprieve. A small vacation.
I’m supposed to be working up to 3 days a week soon and I’m kinda dreading it right now. I’m just so burntout in life and I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve been sad, I’ve been worried, I’ve been rage-induced the last two days, I’d like to just be okay. That’s all I’m asking for.
Someone on third shift tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday evening so the whole cottage (there’s only 5 kids right now though) is under quarantine. Which means we can’t be bringing the kids to the gym or the computer lab so they’re all kinda cooped up in the cottage and we can only be outside the front if no one else is. The kids all have to get tested too. It’s kinda a mess. We’re gonna be in that for at least 10 days, I think that’s the new–next?–quarantine mission.
I feel a little better now. Listening to music and just getting it out somewhere. I really do have posts I can work on and everything, I just have been severely avoiding it all and procrastinating with Youtube a lot, filming or editing some videos here and there, being busy in general, picking up more holidays for Amaryllis, managing to write for SOME fanfic here and there and just rinse and repeat for the last two months.
I don’t know what I need exactly. I would like to listen to “Hold On” by Chord Overstreet but it’s not on the laptop. Maybe I will plop it in….
Ooop, I discovered some extra level bullshit: my headphones are in use and the music on Youtube just played through my speakers instead. Fuuuuuuuck. Maybe my whole “fixing” things didn’t actually. Great. Awesome. Wonderful. Why would it? 😫😣😑
I’ve listened to music so much today that now it all feels stale and boring. 🤔
I have been painting a lot more lately. I’ve been using those glitter explosion paints and really falling in love with them. I’ve done some wood and some coloring pages from my hygge book actually. I’ve had some photos up on Twitter. Honestly, I think that’s about all from me for now. I have to just slingshot my way into (that JUST reminded me: I have to get a new slingshot in ACNH but I think the store closes at 8p, Nook’s Cranny, unless it might be 10p…hmm) other tasks, as per usual. I’m tired but keep getting back up anyways. It’s a never ending cycle.
But I guess that’s life.
So here’s hoping I can write some more fanfic soon. Reread things. Read some BOOKS. Do some reviews. Watch some movies and MCU movies. Write more fanfic. Challenge avoidances and procrastination. Go to work. Manage my moods. Do all my therapy homework. Enjoy my massage. Practice for my presentation. And enjoy a few more days off.
I’ll try not to be gone for two months again. 😊
Thank you for reading what I wrote. I’ll try my best. That’s all I can manage right now. Say hello or tell me how you’re doing (really doing) in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as I’m able to. Stay safe and take care during this whole pandemic thing.
PS I am safe by the way. Other than a few instances where I could have self-harmed, thought about it, considered it, saw it in my mind (the washer and scratching) I did not do them. I won’t do them either. I know where to get help when I need it. I just needed a place to spew it all out for now. And this served its function. I genuinely do feel better now, at least better than when I began, which is a whole other thing I could talk about (mixed signals, not getting satisfying amounts of help, interpersonal effectiveness, friends who are actually there when I need them and not just when they say they will be and just vanish otherwise etc.) but for now it has to be enough. I need to move on. So, I’m going to. Safe, safe, safe. Just don’t always feel that way. 💔🤍🖤
Sometimes when we reach new places we’ve never been to before, we are able to notice how we would have reacted in the past had it happened to us then. Sometimes we’re able to see that how we’re reacting now is different to then. Sometimes we’re able to understand we want to go backwards, to regress, rather than progress further forwards.
Sometimes the battle we are fighting is within our own worlds. Our perceptions, our interpretations, our urges.
Sometimes I get stuck like that, too. Sometimes I see things happening that aren’t the greatest but that my brain interprets as being desirable. Sometimes my Ill Mind wants things for me that I would never want for me again.
It’s all a part of life and the cost of living in this life. Sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us–unhealthy ways of getting attention, junk food, drug substances, disordered behaviors, and more. Sometimes even when we can rationalize how much they aren’t good for us, we still find ourselves wanting it regardless.
That’s surely happened to me before and I’m almost certain it’s happened to you too.
So for now, in this space, I’d like to talk about my own experiences with that lately in as open and candid as a place of any. This is my safe space. It’s also a very public place–and it’s also where I feel most comfortable. I’d like to discuss some struggles I’ve been facing lately and how I’ve handled them well along with the times where I’ve deeply struggled.
Because I believe the story matters. I believe that my voice is worth sharing and I believe that living in my truth holds more power over my experiences and the narrative I wish to convey to the world, to my friends, to my family and to my peeps that is necessary and dare I say, vital, in situations such as these, in perspectives such as mine, even when there’s an intense and detrimental pandemic occurring in the world and a political system within America that’s horrid and unimaginable and makes it feel like we’ve been living in a reality TV show for the last four years. Regardless of ALL of this, my situation still exists and I am still valid in my feelings. The World of 2020 has been falling apart and it’s been very close to The End of Days and right now is as important and crucial as a time to discuss the topics of mental health, mental health conditions and recovery processes. So, here’s a part of my story and what I’ve been dealing with lately and at the end, I hope you’ll have taken something away from my rambles. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll reflect on some of your own struggles. And maybe you’ll leave this post with a newfound sense of how you can pave over your problems going forwards. And if the cards lie just right, maybe you’ll even add a word or two of your own thoughts down below. Whatever you’re comfortable sharing, of course. So… let’s begin…
I got caught up in trying to find a quote for the above section but what I’d like to talk about here involves the concept narrated above:
How do we become our own light within the shadows of darkness that surrounds each of us at night? How do we choose to be brighter and better than our previous selves the day before? How do we choose to not compare against each other and instead focus on shining our brightest, appreciating our differences and head into the battle ahead with as clear a mind as possible, knowing we’re worth it and we’re able to overcome this fight? How do we get to rely on ourselves instead of looking for attention and validation from others?
These are a lot of questions and I think the important thing to be reminded about life is that…. we don’t have all the answers. Look towards science and modern medicine, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the brain and what it does and how it does what it does. We barely know about the universe that surrounds our tiny little planet, the solar system that exists, how the world began to begin with and if there are or aren’t any other creatures out there for us to interact with (which would be pretty scary!). Hell, we don’t know how to even live amongst ourselves peacefully.
So, it’s okay to not know. Life is a giant puzzle and its purpose lies in being uncomfortable and living DESPITE–no, WITH–that which is uncomfortable. A lot of stuff that life throws at us, wasn’t something that we asked for. We usually don’t get a say in what thing it is we struggle with.
Yet how we react to things life throws our way… that, that is within our control.
We can’t control much but ourselves. We learn, particularly those facing illnesses either mental or physical, that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is crucial and critical for existing in life. Having balanced meals, getting enough sleep, taking care of physical (and mental) illnesses, spending socialization time with other individuals (and pets!) as well as having a few other things like hobbies, roles in society, a career, an education, and more. We live, we grow, we age, we die.
We procreate, we find love, we make friends, we make enemies. People like us. People don’t. Some people can’t stand us. Most people project their issues onto other people. We fight, we argue, we struggle, we survive. We are warriors. Some in quite a literal fashion.
We are human.
And being human isn’t something to be ashamed of.
We all have emotions–mostly. We all have preferences and habits and crave interaction with one another. We all need attention. We all need love and care and nice things. We all depend on one another, we are inter-connected. We are human. We will face adversity, sometimes a lot, sometimes not as much, but we will all lose something some day and we will all perish just the same.
But what does this have to do with anything?
You’re right, I got a little sidetracked (such is my attention span for today). What I mean to say, what the point of me saying all these things to begin with, is that life is an uncomfortable phase. Life throws things our way that we weren’t expecting or anticipating or were prepared to deal with.
And still, if we want to get the most out of life, we have to find a way to alight our own flame. While it is absolutely imperative to ask for help when you need it, you also need to learn how to be there for yourself.
You’re the only you there’s ever going to be.
You’re the only you always with you.
No one can live your life for you. They can try, they can help, they can enable you but your life is ultimately your choice. Whether you choose to go down into the dark chasms or instead hike up the next hill and the next and the one after that–that’s your choice. That’s within your control. You didn’t choose to have to go up or down, but the up or down IS your choice. You didn’t prepare the map but what you do with it is your own.
Emotion regulation, your ability to soothe yourself, handle yourself, handle your problems and knowing when and where to get help when you need it, those are all critical and necessary tools for surviving. A friend and a loved one can point you in the right direction. They can be there to hold signs and vigils in your honor. Whether you choose to follow or flee is up to you. No one else can make that decision for you.
We all need to learn how to be there for ourselves. ‘Cause we can be there for others but others won’t always be there for us.
But we are.
We are always with ourselves. It’s the one vessel that will withstand all the hell and all the light. It’s important, as humans that evolve and change and grow, to find healthy avenues and know the differences between unhealthy avenues. It’s important, as healthy humans to control and withstand ourselves. When we feel things, we need to have plans on how to handle them. When we are stuck in the darkness, instead of looking for everyone else’s lights, we need to learn how to ignite our own.
Because this light, this life within us now, is the only light and life we’re given. And it will burn out. One day. Somehow. It will. And what we got to do with it, that’s the only thing truly up to us.
Let me move away from the “you”‘s and the “we’s” because I’ve done a lot of that so far. Let me start with where I am at. And that’s in this moment.
I am enough.
It’s such a complex yet simple notion.
I am enough.
I am enough to handle my own circumstances, my own life. Just like with the light, my own light is enough to wash over the road ahead of me. I don’t rely on other people’s lights to guide me home because I know, deep down, that all I need is my own.
Yeah, that’s a pretty lonely road if I only look at it from that angle, but who makes the rules in my reality?
So if I don’t like what I see, then I can change it. Why not, right?
The big thing I want to talk about here is being able to validate myself. Because a lot of the time I get this idea in my head that I need other people’s validation or praise or attention rather than my own. And yes, that’s nice and it’s needed sometimes too. But I need to learn, in this next new phase of my life, how to be there FOR me, BY me. If I’m going to be the only one in it from start to finish, I better start liking myself, ahaha. Excluding when I need outsider’s influences–like their input, their support, their conversation–I can learn how to validate myself by validating others.
If my friend were struggling with my struggles, what would I say to them? How would I put myself in their shoes? What would I say? Act? Show? Now what if it were me, what would I say, act or show to myself? Maybe once I start to see the rules I make for myself, the cognitive distortions I fall into, the old traps and cycles that my brain easily confines for me, maybe after all of that, I’ll find a way to be there for me–I’ll find a way to be ENOUGH for ME.
That brings me back around to the main topic of this post. I know, I know, it’s been scattered through this and I thank you immensely for continuing to read if you HAVE read this far. I’m sure the Editing Version of Me will have some fun with this post ahaha. But I want to talk about that validation piece again–I want to paint a picture to what started this moment for me in general and that involves the dreaded word:
Remember at the start I was talking about the fork in the road between regression and progression? Yes, well, attention has a big play to do with my experiences thus far.
When I was at my worst, I often sought attention online (as well as in person, I think is fair to say). But it was unhealthy, every time I did it, it was unhealthy. Because:
the Internet is not an appropriate crisis space.
This, of course, is excluding the actual places online that ARE designed as crisis spaces. But the reason I say this is twofold:
It truly isn’t a good idea to place intimate, vulnerable thoughts into a space where it can be taken advantage of, manipulated, tossed into a void or come back to bite you later (the Internet is forever of course, and yes, I see the immense irony or hypocrisy for this notion to exist within this own post, however, I’ve accepted my position far in the past for this type of situation.)
Not everyone is going to know what to do, what to say or how to properly and healthily identify what to do in that given situation. Not everyone is going to respond well, not everyone is going to respond at all, not everyone will be kind, some people may instigate further, some people will just have different opinions, some people will speak their mind or some people won’t have anything to say, to add, to note, to express.
And that, when used in crisis, the Internet that is, can be deadly. It’s certainly dangerous.
And it’s not ultimately, entirely, other people’s responsibilities. It’s asking too much from the Internet, in many ways. Yes, the Internet is changing somewhat and there are definitely amazing, great and compassionate individuals and places on the Internet, however it is also dangerous, unsafe and crippling in other places (or within other people).
So wanting more views, wanting more comments, wanting more of that attention, more of that vocalization, more of that validation, more of that pick me up, more and more and more–it’s all a culmination to a potentially very bad outcome.
This is where balance comes into play. This is where being enough for myself comes into play. This is where I recognize I need to take an Internet break. Because as always:
And that’s where regression can happen. Or, recovery progression.
So what happened was I saw or found out about someone online who confessed they were in a difficult spot and wanted a certain type of reaction out of the Internet. In response, their story, their life, kinda blew up in a very positive fashion.
And it made me SO envious. Like I was legit pissed off.
Because that hasn’t been my type of experiences.
But WHY do I want it to be? And hasn’t it? In some ways, by some friends, hasn’t it been?
So I wondered for a moment or two in that sea of anger and envy, I wondered why they had such pleasant experiences when in the past when I’ve done the same, I’ve gotten a small handful of responses or (more often) an echo of long, long silence.
And this ultimately means to me that I’ve been searching for attention and praise where it’s not the healthiest place for it. So I learn that I need to validate myself more. I need to check in with myself more than I am. I need to recognize what is cognitive distortions and when it is that I’m not practicing as much gratitude as I could be and then re-evaluate the way I’m interacting with the world around me–online and off.
Because validation is very easy to become unhealthy with. And I really don’t necessarily need it from other people or at least not in the same way that I once sought for it.
This means, to me, that I need to find ways to boost my projects, my life and my endeavors in a healthy manner that doesn’t rely on how many views it gets or how many people interact with it or even just analyzing what it is I’m hoping to get out of things that I put out on blast. And then maybe, maybe one day I’ll get picked up and maybe I’ll have a few other people to interact with more than I do now, but gratitude will be a good thing for me to practice more too as well as checking the facts and providing my own light for no one else but myself (and then by extension in living my truth and my authentic life, it will burn brightly for other people, too).
Because I have to ask myself: do I want attention for the hell I’ve been through or the growth I’ve made because of it? Do I want attention for who I am rather than what I’ve been through? And which direction is most sustainable?
I know I have a lot left to learn and to experience. I know I have a voice worth sharing and a story left to be told. I know there is so much more I want to do with my life and it doesn’t all have to be about mental health. I know that my identity extends beyond this plane of field and that I can work on getting there each and every day, every moment, and that sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and it’s in making mistakes that I will learn and grow. It’s within the darkness that I will find my light. It is within the night that I will find my day. The world is a presence of constant dualities and constant instances to try and do better, be better and improve.
I know I’m so much more mature than I was just a few years ago and I know that my happiness and my love for life and light these days is so immeasurably wonderful and not ever something I’d want to trade for a little bit of attention that’s not going to affect my life more than anything else. I, of course, like praise just as the next person, but it’s not my lifeline or my blood or my air. It’s … a bonus.
I have to understand why I create and for what purpose I am sharing it. With time, everything else will follow.
But for now, it’s time to Edit. It’s been a good hour and a half of full-on writing and I’d like to take a break and do something else for a bit. So, thank you for reading and for sticking with me. I really, really appreciate that.
It’s somewhere in the process of breathing and living for myself that I find the most freedom. The ability to be as gracious and thankful as I am able to be now isn’t something I could have ever positively imagined for myself two to three years ago. My stability is amazing and my ability to self-regulate has improved immensely. There are things in my life that I’ve excelled at recently that I’ll lightly touch on here: things like doing ERPs from support groups on OCD; getting certifications for work that seemed daunting and unavoidable (MAP); working more at my job Amaryllis; facing safety issues from youth and exceeding at not getting triggered (and yeah, so I got triggered from a support group but I’m gonna handle it and I’m gonna be okay again, I just need a little bit more time) and other moments that would have crippled me years before are now mere blips in the timeline.
I know that I can use this triggered moment to take a deep breath, then two, then five. I can mindfully listen to music that’s playing on my iPod and work on grounding myself. I can eat some cold ice cream with some yummy pound cake and treat myself WELL and doing the opposite of what’s in my brain because fuck OCD!! So yes, I can manage this, I can use this moment to self-regulate and deal with it with maybe a couple rant-y tweets online ahaha. I’ll even watch some “Kitchen Nightmares” episodes, that would be nice (I’ve been off Youtube ALL day!!!). So yes, I have plans: they include tweeting some more, coughing a bit (I’m getting over a cold), maybe re-reading some fanfic, tracking what I need to track, reading a book, playing Animal Crossing on my Switch, etc. I’ve got this. And I know now that I can believe in that answer, even with all the emotions that FEEL, only feel, otherwise. I am my own hero. I am my own savior. ❤
Thank you so much for reading. If you have the time, you can leave me your thoughts down below. Or don’t, because after all, at the start of the day and at the end of the night, as always, I am (and you are) enough.
❤ ❤ ❤
Background Music to this post: Shuffled playlist; “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson and “I am Enough” by Cimorelli; “Wolves” by Emma Blackery.
Living life with a chronic illness is definitely not easy. But I do my best to push through all the barriers this illness puts in front of me! In my heart and mind, I believe maintaining a positive outlook on all situations in life will carry us through to much better times! I hope you find the information that I provide both helpful and inspirational!