Posted in Anxiety, bpd, coping, Depression, ED, mental health, PTSD

Self-Therapy: How I Had the Best Monday Morning I’ve Had in Years

I started writing this earlier this morning and am proud to bring you the best self-therapy I think I’ve ever had:

My mental illnesses are taking over. It’s taking all the energy I have to keep myself from attempting suicide, and I don’t even want to die!! My nightmares/ dreams are so bad I can’t even tell if I’m awake or dreaming. My eating disorder and self-image is at nearly an all-time low and I’m starting more intense therapy.  My knees ache in the springtime because of the cool, damp air. My back is getting worse and I’m scared wearing an occasional brace and electrotherapy won’t be enough in the near future. My blog traffic is down so low it’s worse than the first month is was live. I’m stressed all the time. My financial situation is dire. My bipolar is temporarily stable, but the fear or losing control again makes it even harder for me to trust my mood. I’ve had life-altering pain in my side for 7 months with no answers, and more my digestive system is revolting against me and doctor’s don’t know why yet. I’m a mess. I need a vacation. I’m curled around a puke bowl crying and browsing Facebook. I don’t even remember what inspired the thought, but something made me realize I need to do my best to live life despite the blows that knock me down. Lake Monona is my backyard. I got a bigger boost of inspiration than I’ve had in months.

IMG_20170522_080844949It’s 7:30 am on a Monday morning and I just got home from the ER about an hour ago. I’m struggling with my Bipolar Depression and thoughts of suicide while struggling with the scary and unknown thoughts of digestive failure or kidney disease. Every fiber of my being screams to just curl up in a ball under blankets and just watch a movie I’ve seen a hundred times over. Something on Facebook inspires me to just make a positive memory for myself and live a happy life, at least for the morning. I needed to just let go of all of the anxiety over unknowns in my life and enjoy myself. I wasn’t going to let anxiety win. I got up, threw my phone, a waterproof speaker and an Ensure in a bag, grabbed my favorite canoe, Pea Pod, and dragged it all down to the shoreline. I was so excited, but also nervous, because I had this gut feeling it was a bad idea to go canoeing in my current physical condition. Somehow my persnickety brain allowed me to throw caution to the wind and go canoeing anyways.

I started out quite clumsily, it was hard to find a way to paddle that compensated for my current right flank pain. It was so early in the morning that the sun was either directly in my eyes or so low that I was in the shade and chilly. After a period of wrestling with the canoe and the sun, I realized I had forgotten to turn my music on! That improved the entire situation 1000%.  I was singing at the top of my lungs, laughing, talking to the wildlife and enjoying the view. I went down this channel that has a great balance of interesting houses, and wildlife, to look at while paddling. img_20170522_082707328.jpgI drank an Ensure, which is a nutritional drink I was prescribed when I was diagnosed with my eating disorder. I’ve been struggling a lot with my eating recently because I’m about to start meeting with a new professional about it, so I’ve been avoiding drinking the Ensures so that I appear “sick enough” for this new doctor (PRIME EXAMPLE OF WHY THE EATING DISORDER STIGMA IS DANGEROUS). It made me feel really good about myself, but there was still this hesitation inside of me that I didn’t like. My thoughts immediately jumped to pushing myself really hard paddling so I’d burn off the calories and not get fat because I drank it. Instead of acting on that thought, I practiced a DBT skill where you imagine your thoughts and urges as leaves on a river, and picture them flowing past you without judging them or acting on them… only I did it in real life on the lake with some leaves from a nearby tree and watched my urges to over-exert myself and self-image issues drift away from my canoe. Then I “took matters into my own hands” and paddled away from them. I decided to make a conscious choice to leave those issues behind me and “paddle towards recovery”. I think my phone heard my thoughts because the next song that played was a song from my library that dealt with physical appearance and learning to accept yourself (as long as you promise not to judge me for being a Gleek, you can listen to the song here).

There were many times I started to turn around. My depression was screaming at me to go back into my bed and just spend the next few hours mindlessly on my phone. Even now, I don’t completely know how I was able to fight those thoughts off and keep going on my planned route. I would mutter a little pep talk (“you got this, remember you’re having a good time?” or “oh no you silly brain. this is my morning and you aren’t taking it from me” or something of the like) and paddle on. At one point my foot fell asleep so bad that I had no feeling in my foot. If you know me, you know I’m ridiculously ticklish

IMG_20170522_083159379
Accidentally wore the perfect shirt…

on the bottoms of my feet. I can even tickle myself! I ran my finger across my foot and couldn’t feel it AT ALL. It was a weird out-of-body experience, and also kinda scary. Needless to say, the rest of the ride I was always wiggling my feet and knees so they didn’t fall asleep. I paddled along, quacking at ducks and then laughing at myself… that’s a really powerful gift, to be able to have enough empathy towards yourself that you can laugh at the silly quirks you have, instead of tearing them down. That thought was another positive thought that I noted to use in the future when I begin hating my childish quirks. I seized the moment and sat cheering myself on for the distance I’ve already run in the marathon to self-acceptance.

 

At this point, I’m about 2/3 of the way through my planned trail to blaze in Pea Pod. Once again, as if on cue, a string of my self-empowering songs played. Pure positive energy seemed to burst from my chest. It was surreal. I paddled with renewed life in me. My cheeks hurt I was smiling so much. I paused long enough to capture a quick video of the moment:

I paddled home in the best mood I can remember ever being in, in recent history anyway. There are a gazillion more thoughts I had and experiences I will treasure from my paddle, but I will leave you with this, recovery is not a straight line. Things had been going well for me these past two weeks, and then everything came crashing down. Even with this paddle to lift me up, I’m still in a funk and overwhelmed. This wasn’t a wand-waving experience that made me feel all better. In fact, I’m still a little low-key passively suicidal. But the opportunity to suspend reality, if only for a moment of relief, was well worth the effort. I’m depressed but rejuvenated. The self-discovery journey I went on today was one I will never forget. I hope this post encourages you to stretch yourself this week, and allow yourself the freedom to take things as they come, and go on a journey with your closest friend… you โค

Want to hear “My Paddle Playlist”? Check it out here.

Posted in bpd, coping, Depression, ED, mental health, stigma

Abuse and the Stigma

The stigma surrounding mental health is still really bad, despite the efforts of thousands if not millions of people standing up and speaking out against it. We (the mentally ill) still fear getting help, talking about their mental illness, face bullying, are told we are faking, or that we are lying, or worst of all are told to go hurt/ kill ourselves.

I myself have been told some pretty awful things. One time an old friend texted me words of hate and shame, she told me I was lying and that she hated me. That night I tried to drown myself in the bathtub with weights. She pursued me over text, Facebook, Google Hangouts and Instagram. I blocked her on all platforms and changed my number. But she didn’t rest there.  It took a huge toll on my mental health. But I didn’t say anything to anyone besides telling a friend about a message here or there. Finally, during my partial hospitalization program with Rogers, I opened up to my therapist and she called the police and the police informed this girl that if she ever got into contact with me again she would be pressed with criminal charges and a restraining order would be filled. Her mom called back and began saying at him that I had just gotten released from a mental hospital and I was unstable. Thankfully the officer had seen my evidence and told the mom that if that was her first defense that there was probably some guilt on their side of things, and he ended the call. Later this was found on her Instagram:

These comments were made the morning after the Orlando murders took place. I was distraught for weeks after reading this. To this day, thinking about me sick to my stomach. These users used to be friends of mine. And in the weight of the Orlando aftermath, I was being compared to mass murderers by people who used to know me! And it was on display for anyone to see. I couldn’t eat and cried for days. I hated myself more than I ever had in my whole life. This and other bullying I’ve faced has made me very scared to open up about any of my mental health issues or the bullies that were telling my support system that I’m a liar. Instead of getting help, I was letting my illnesses get the best of me. I was scared that if I told someone that they’d treat my like I was a crazy person and I’d lose them from my support system. Instead I watched nights turn into days, tossing and turning until I could lay awake no longer. One of my best friends and I went nearly a whole semester not talking because I couldn’t risk being judged – which was compounded by the fact that borderline patients have severe abandonment issues. 

I wish I could say my story is unique or an uncommon occurrence, but I see people with mental health issues receive just as bad or ever worse hate on a daily basis. I see someone post something about their battle against anorexia and read a handful of atrocious comments. Later the same user posts a picture of some hate on a forum about her and it’s nothing but negativity. This user then tried to commit suicide three times and only by flukes are they still alive. When your mental illness is already lying to you, and you’re struggling to hold the tidal waves of depression and dissociativeness at bay, you can barely keep your head above water. Bullying takes down any and all efforts we’re making to stay afloat.

We already have a stigma to battle. If you Google “Borderline Personality Disorder”, you can find websites that tell you we’re “evil” and “liars” and “manipulative.” If someone were to read those, and then hear I have BPD, they would immediately be scared of me and distrust everything I say. But that’s not true. I’ve been called a liar all my life, but the truth is, people who know me can usually tell when I’m lying because I’m so bad at it. And after one lie I got caught up in led to me hitting rock bottom, I strive to always be truthful, even when it means something bad for me. As for calling us manipulative, well… as children, Borderlines often do not receive adequate affection and attention from the people who are supposed to give exactly that. Because of this, we crave it when we get older and feel like we have to overachieve and perform more in order to “earn” it because doing “enough” as kids didn’t have an end result of proper validation. However, we are also often put down, endlessly criticized and even bullied or neglected as children. We feel we don’t deserve the attention we end up getting so we “split” ourselves and succumb to self-hate. And remember, Borderlines feel emotions roughly FOUR TIMES as intense and extreme than normal. With all that being said, hopefully, you can understand me when I say we are not manipulative. This is just one example of a thousand comments I wish I could make to combat the stigma.

The stigma stands in the way of us mentally ill, by discouraging us to go to therapy/ talk about/ get help for our illnesses. It scares us into silence. It causes others to wrongfully jump to conclusions or make assumptions about us, driving a wedge into compassion and community. It causes us to get blamed for things we have no control over and makes us hate ourselves even more. It can cause us to hurt ourselves or even attempt suicide. When you add bullying and negative comments on top of the stigma, it can compound these negative effects. Please, not only make an effort to end the stigma surrounding mental health but help combat the bullying and abuse we receive from less educated folks. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Posted in Anxiety, Bipolar, bpd, coping, Depression, ED, mental health, OCD

I’m Not Okay – An Explicit Truth

TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains profanity and VIVID IMAGERY about SELF-HARM and SUICIDAL THOUGHTS which may be triggering to those who struggle with suicidal ideation, cutting and other forms of self-harm.

This was written a few days ago. 

“I’ll be okay” …is that what you want me to say? Because I don’t know if I’ll be okay. This morning I was in a really good place and now I want to fucking die.

I have healthcare now but I might lose it in the next year or two and with the ACA possibly being revoked I might not get health insurance back. And without insurance, I can’t afford my medication. And without my medication, I will destabilize and probably kill myself. I don’t cut anymore, but I sure as hell want to. I can’t go to Walgreens without walking past the razors and staring at them, trying to somehow convince myself that I can get by another week without cutting. I’ve tried many alternatives to cutting, like meds, sleep, being with someone, coloring, solitaire, word searches, stuff like that. But nothing comes even close to what cutting did for me. I went to Rogers Memorial Hospital for a two and a half month residential stay and after that, I felt like I just couldn’t cut on principle. I cut because it made my anxiety go away, I wouldn’t shake as much, it gave me lots of endorphins which helped a ton, it was a tangible thing because my sickness is “all in my head” (I use that ironically). Plus it’s hard to worry about anything else when you’re covered in blood. I feel physically sick almost every day from stress. I throw up if I eat too much cuz my stomach hasn’t eaten three meals a day consistently for almost 4 years. I throw up if I’m stressed. I throw up randomly. I’ll start shaking in terror while watching a kids movie. I’ll start shaking when I’m relaxing. I’ll start shaking doing a puzzle. I still exit the freeway and then get back on so I don’t have to cross a bridge. I still cry passing a semi truck. I still can’t drive if it’s windy. My blankets have to be with the tag by my feet or I can’t sleep. My car has to beep twice saying it’s locked or I can’t walk away. My mental health kit items have to be organized exactly right or I can’t move on to another task. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about suicide. I think about it whenever there’s a tree by the road, and I wonder if it’s close enough for me to crash into. I think about it whenever I’m off the ground, even if it’s just the top of the stairs, and I calculate my odds of death if I fell/ jumped. I think about it when I see any sort of rope, belt or other stringy things, and I think about how I could hang myself with it. I think about it when I take my medication at night, and I know exactly what to take to hurt/ kill myself. I don’t always have a specific plan, and I usually have no intent to carry through, but I think about it and I crave it. I still get so depressed that I miss appointments and don’t even bother explaining why. It takes me up to two hours just to get out of bed in the morning because my sleep and nightmares are so bad. I can’t work because of my rapid cycling bipolar and unpredictability as an employee. I’m scared to talk about this with my loved ones out of fear that they’ve had enough and will leave me (THANKS, borderline…). I’m scared to talk about it with my treatment team out of fear that they’ll say “but you have skills and lived at Rogers Memorial Hospital and went through DBT” or judge me for relapsing. I’m scared to talk to strangers because they don’t know me or my story. I get lunch dates to celebrate being X days cut free. I get hugs and Facebook likes for being in recovery. But are there “Get Well Soon” cards or hot meals brought over when I’m depressed? No. If I had a physical illness there would be. But with a mental illness? “Shhhh don’t talk about it like that!” I can’t talk openly about my illness without people giving me weird looks. Well FUCK the stigma, I’m saying it like it is. Having a mental illness is hell. I don’t know if I’ll be okay.

“I’ll be okay…” I can’t say it.