New Years Resolutions

Yeah yeah. Everyone makes them, hardly anyone keeps them. But, I’m going to try anyways.

I’ve had this blog for over a year now. I’ve been dedicated to posting… for about three posts. Then it slips my mind and I forget about it. So I’ve given the blog a face lift and set goals for myself. Here we go!

The new year brings a lot of excitement. This year I’ll celebrate one year in recovery, as well as one year self-harm clean. I’m in a brand new relationship that so far holds a lot of promise. I have the opportunity to continue publishing my writings about mental health on The Mighty (follow me here!). It’s going to be a fun year!

So what is my New Years Resolution? Back in October, I started writing a book. Why? I’ll explain in a minute. But after months of working on it, the magnitude of a book just wasn’t sitting right with me. I eventually got so overwhelmed that I stopped writing. Since I’ve wanted to write a blog since 8th grade, my book has now morphed into a blog! How did my writing project come to be? Well..

We’re going to jump right into the middle of my story. I was in the hospital after a suicide attempt. After being cleared physically to be transferred to the psych ward, my at-the-time boyfriend’s mom and dad brought me some things for my stay (shampoo, clothes, a novel, etc.). In this care package was a notebook. That notebook is basically where this whole thing began. Now, this wasn’t my first stay on an acute unit psych ward, and it wasn’t going to be my last, but it certainly was the most important. In the days following my attempt, my already small support system kind of disbanded. My two best friends decided they needed a break from our friendship. My boyfriend broke up with me, therefore his family left me as well. In our final conversation, my boyfriend told me I wasn’t going to get better on my own unless I hit rock bottom. And the only thing keeping me from hitting bottom was him. He was my biggest support, and unhealthily he was the only one who I would let “save me”. I was codependent. It was hard for me, but I cannot imagine how infinitely harder it must have been for him. He was right. Us breaking up was the final straw. I had no one to turn to for help but myself. I made some very harsh realizations of the truth about life. One of them is that the only guarantee we have in life is that we are stuck with ourselves for the rest of our lives. During my stay, I began collecting some mental health skills that I could use to take care of myself and putting them in the notebook. After discharge, I became consumed with filling that notebook with skills, quotes, charts… anything and everything having to do with mental health. Pretty soon it was so full of stray pages from books, pamphlets, and printouts that I had to use a headband to keep it closed. I would read the DSM-4 for fun. Whenever I had extra money, I went to a secondhand bookstore and bought self-help books. I watched Ted Talks, I listen to podcasts. I attended DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) on a weekly basis. I went to support groups. My life became consumed with learning as many skills to help myself deal with my mental illness. I learned a lot of really great things, too. I became my own best friend. I could ground myself and pull myself out of a flashback. Further down my timeline, I was admitted to Roger Memorial Hospital’s residential FOCUS program. I lived at a mental hospital with 10 other psych patients for two months. We had Cognitive and Dialectical Behavior Therapies every day, we alternated between art and recreational therapies, we had daily mindfulness, we went to the gym 3x a week, we had homework and spirituality class and a nutritional class, among other things. We met with the head psychiatrist, our therapist, a dietician and our behavioral specialist once a week. My behavioral specialist quickly picked up on my obsession with learning. She sat me down and we really broke down which behaviors were healthy, and which ones were driving a wedge between me and recovery when it came to learning about mental health. I productively learned as much as I could in the months I was there. Now here I am, five months after I was discharged from Rogers, with three journals filled with skills. At my psychiatrist’s office, nearly all the staff know me as “journal girl”. The whole time this story was taking place, there were a surprising number of people telling me that I should write about my experiences. My boss, my therapist, a friends mom, doctors, old friends on facebook, strangers on Instagram… you get my point. So here I am, sitting down to write. All I can think is “what the hell am I getting myself into?” Let’s go!

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