Posted in Anxiety, coping, mental health

Self-Harm Breakthrough

I’m back! I apologize for being so inactive on this site lately, but now that my book is in the editing process, I have time to dedicate to the blog again!

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

Yesterday in therapy I had a huge breakthrough in my recovery from self-harm behaviors. It started when I was with my psychiatrist in the morning. I see her once a month, so she likes to check in and see how I’m doing safety-wise, like if I’m having any thoughts of suicide or struggling to stay clean. I discussed with her how in the past week or so I’ve been increasingly obsessed with my scars. I’ll catch myself counting them, or trying to remember when I made certain scars that are crooked or especially long. I am hyper aware of when I’m around people who are close enough to see the scars on my arms. Nothing happened that would really explain the increase in the behavior. My psychiatrist recommended I talk about it with my therapist. Luckily I was seeing my therapist later in the day, so I didn’t have to wait long to really dig deep into the new behaviors.

I had tried to figure out what was triggering this new behavior in me but was unable to come up with anything. I felt a certain emotion when looking at my scars, but I couldn’t name the emotion. I knew my physical symptoms of the emotion I was feeling when I would obsess over my scars, but I couldn’t link the symptoms to any emotion. My therapist suggested we do some brainspotting to try and determine what was going on. Although the process ended up being different than traditional brainspotting at the end of the day, I almost instantly had some profound thoughts about where I’m at in my recovery from self-harm.

My thoughts immediately jumped to my future. I thought about my kids and what they would think of their mom having self-harm scars on her arm. I thought about my husband, and how he and his family will feel about the scars. I’ve never been someone who is ashamed of my scars or makes an effort to hide them. I wear t-shirts without a second thought. Back when I cut, one of my reasons for doing so was so I could prove to myself and others that I was sick, and my scars kept that proof as a point of validation. They’re tangible proof of the intangible, unseen struggles I wrestle with.

So what does this have to do with my new obsession? I realized that I’m at a point in my recovery where I don’t need proof. I know I’m sick, and I know how to advocate for myself and explain that I’m sick to others without needing cutting and scars. If people still don’t believe me, I can use my radical acceptance skill to make sure I don’t feel invalidated by their disbelief.

When I first started my journey to clean arms, I was upset that I didn’t give myself more scars before deciding to drop the behavior. I would obsessively look at pictures of people’s scars online with envy. Now I am accepting of the number of scars I have, and if my scars faded, I believe I’d be okay.

It’s taken me 632 days of being cut-free to get to this point, but I still have a long way to go. I’m still not comfortable having knives in my kitchen, and the thought of buying razors to shave with makes me feel nauseous. Recovery is a slow process, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.

 

Posted in Anxiety, coping, mental health

What is an Exposure?

Exposures are a type of therapy exercise that I learned when I was staying at Rogers Memorial Hospital for my residential stay. They’re designed to help lessen your anxious reaction to everyday situations because unfortunately, simply telling yourself not to be scared simply doesn’t work. When I was at Rogers, I hated doing my exposures. Not going to lie, sometimes I would fake the results just to get out of doing them. It wasn’t until I returned home that I saw a need for exposures, and started doing them on my own. In the past year, I’ve seen the difference that exposures have on my life, and am excited to share my experiences with you!

First off, you’re probably asking me what an exposure is. Exposure therapy is trial habituation to situations/ experiences that give you anxiety. This means you routinely expose yourself to things that give you anxiety in safe, controlled environments, in an attempt to help you reduce your anxiety when encountering the situation out “in the real world.” For example, I get stressed out when I’m driving behind semi-trucks, so for one of my exposures, I look at a picture of the back of a semi. It stimulates what I would see in the anxiety-filled situation, but it happens in a safe environment. While looking at the picture, I take note of the moment when my anxiety reaches its peak. I rate it on a scale of 1-10 and start a stopwatch. When my anxiety has been reduced by half, I record how long it took, as well as the new rating of my anxiety. For example, if my anxiety peaked at a 7, I would time how long it took for my anxiety to come down to a 3 or 4. The catch is that you’re not allowed to help yourself cope with the anxiety, like using fidgets or participating in breathing exercises. Wait a minute for your anxiety to come back down, and then repeat the exercise 4 more times. Record your results so you can see the progress you make!

Now, the above method is very homework-esque and suited me just fine in a therapy-centered environment like Rogers, but at home, it just felt like one big chore that was always looming over me, so I adapted it to fit my at-home life and learning style. I make a conscious effort to routinely expose myself to things that cause me anxiety, and take note of how my anxiety behaves in different situations. Going grocery shopping is a very stressful and overwhelming experience for me. Being around food is very triggering for my eating disorders, and trying to decide what I’m going to buy to eat just makes things worse. In addition, being in public where there are other people around is also anxiety provoking. I make an effort to go to the grocery store during non-peak hours like 6 am or 10 pm (right after opening or right before closing) when there are fewer people around to ramp-up my anxiety. Before I actually go to the store, I take the time and look at a map I drew of the store, and visualize my route. This way I don’t stress about what to buy when I’m surrounded by an overwhelming amount of food, and I don’t have to spend any extra time returning to aisles for things I forgot the first time around.

If the idea of exposing yourself to things that make you anxious sounds scary, you’re not alone. Remember that you can start small. Just imagine the situation, or look at a picture of something similar to what makes you anxious (i.e. rather than looking at a picture of the back of a semi, look at a picture of an angle that’s less threatening, like the side of a semi, to start with). Keep in mind exposures are designed to help your anxious reaction become less extreme, it will not magically heal your anxiety.

Do you have anything that helps you with your anxiety? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Posted in bpd, coping, mental health

Break-ups with Borderline Personality Disorder

So James and I broke up this weekend, just three weeks before our one-year anniversary. If I was given a choice on the best way for me to be broken up with, this break up would have been better than anything I would have come up with. In the end, I’m more okay than I ever thought I could be right after a break-up, and I know that I will be okay. I’m heartbroken, but he didn’t break my heart.

When you have Borderline Personality Disorder, something you deal with is severe abandonment issues. Breaks-ups have the potential to be one of the hardest things to deal with when having BPD because, in our minds, we’re being abandoned by someone who is our best friend and biggest support. Someone who is the #1 person in your life suddenly is no longer around. The separation can feel like the end of the world.

Another common symptom of BPD is called splitting. If that sounds painful to you, that’s because it is. It’s a coping/ defense mechanism people with BPD subconsciously use when facing their inability to deal with opposite emotions. There’s a reason BPD is also called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. We view the world as black and white. Either you love me or you don’t, it can’t be both. You always want to be around me or you never want to see me. James loves me, but we’re not dating anymore, and despite him answering all my questions about it, it still confuses the heck outta me. In my mind, it just isn’t possible for something like this to exist because my borderline tells me everything is black and white. One moment I feel I’ve forgiven him, and I feel a sense of calm about the situation, feeling okay with what happened and knowing that it’s the best choice given the situation we were in, then I suddenly feel such agony because it’s all gone and I can’t live without him because my life is going to be so different that I can’t cope. I’m torn down the middle trying to bridge the gap between two opposing thoughts because my brain can’t do it by itself. I’m on a rollercoaster that I can’t get off of no matter how hard I try.

**Trigger Warning – this next paragraph discusses self-harm and suicidal thoughts**
When people with BPD experience intense emotions, we often feel we are unable to cope with it and turn to self-destructive behaviors like self-harm and suicidal tendencies. 10% of those of us with BPD end up successfully committing suicide. Having Borderline has been compared to having 3rd-degree burns over 90% of your body, that’s how strong our emotions are. Even at 582 days cut-free, I’m facing urges to cut again as a desperate attempt to make the feelings and the splitting go away. I have thoughts telling me I’d rather kill myself than go through the process of starting a new relationship from scratch while dealing with everything else in my life. Even though I’m generally stable with my recovery in terms of self-destruction, all it takes is one little thing to make me feel like I’m back at square one.

So what helped this break-up be something I feel I can cope with, and why do I think it was a good way for me to be broken up with? What happened that makes these symptoms less destructive?

  1. Fear of abandonment: while he left me as my boyfriend, he didn’t leave my life. I wasn’t completely abandoned by him, so my abandonment issues aren’t kicking in quite as intensely as expected. We still care about each other deeply and feel like best friends, so after some time and space, we hope we can still be in each other’s lives.
  2. Splitting: he let me ask all my questions and gave me assurance on all the issues I felt were black and white. I probably asked “if you love me, then why are we breaking up?” just about every way humanly possible, and he answered it every time, giving me my own ammo to fight those splitting thoughts when I’m wrestling with them on my own.
  3. Timing: it wasn’t a sudden thing that happened out of the blue. We spent about a month talking about it with our therapists, friends/family, and each other. I had time to process what was happening and slowly begin to accept it and cope with it, giving me time to get all of my questions answered before the relationship was no longer.
  4. Grief: I’ve definitely experienced the different stages of grief over the past month (before the break-up even happened): denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and some acceptance. Now that the break-up has become a reality, I feel I’ve already begun the grieving process, and that’s helping me deal with the initial feelings you get after a break up in a healthier mindset because I’m not also dealing with all of the initial grief as well.

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Did you like this article? Do you want to read more? If you want to read more about what BPD patients feel and do because of our fear of abandonment, The Mighty has a great article you can read here. If you have BPD, or know someone who has it, you might relate to some of the things I talked about in this article and want to know more about friendships and BPD. This article talks about 6 things your BPD friend wants you to know, and it continues to talk about some of the topics I mentioned.

Do you have any tips for me on getting through this break-up? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Posted in Anxiety, coping, mental health

DIY: Weighted Stuffed Animal!

**DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is designed to provide helpful information to people with sensory disabilities, mental illnesses or other special needs. I do not own any rights from Build-A-Bear or Pokemon, or their affiliates. Any references are for informational use only. I understand Build-A-Bear and Pokemon are not responsible for any problems the product has after it’s alteration.**

If you follow my Instagram, you know I took a plane out west for vacation! It was an exciting adventure, but I had my fair share of nerves as well. When preparing for my trip last week, I knew I wanted to bring my weighted blanket to help me regulate my anxiety while on the plane and in a strange city, but the thought of lugging a 14lbs blanket through the airport was less than appealing. I began trying to think of solutions that were more practical for travel, but still gave me the benefits and feelings of security. If you look on Amazon, there are weighted lap pads and some weighted stuffed animals. I had found the solution! But pricing and the time it would take to ship were far less than ideal. So I called up a friend who’s a wizard at sewing, and we got to work.

I love Build-A-Bear and have been collecting for years. I had the idea to buy an unstuffed skin from them and stuff it at home with the poly pellets used to stuff weighted blankets. When I called my local Build-A-Bear, they informed me that their skins were not tested to hold weight inside of them and that they wouldn’t sell me an unstuffed skin if I planned to weight it. Upon further research (a call to the guest service line), I was told that while the animals were indeed not tested to hold weight, there wasn’t anything stopping me from unstuffing it at home and restuffing it myself, so that’s just what I did.

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I picked Squirtle to be turned into my weighted stuffed animal. I liked the idea of having a Pokemon as my partner in crime to hang out with me, much like Pikachu does with Ash in the TV show. After stuffing Squirtle as usual at Build-A-Bear, we brought him to the sewing room at my friend’s house for some major surgery. We reopened the hole in his back and pulled out all the stuffing. It was an incredible sensory activity for me, I used it as a mindfulness activity, focusing on how the stuffing felt in my hand, how it looked, how it smelled… you get the idea. img_20171004_190157882.jpg

Once Squirtle was unstuffed, the real work began.  We sewed small pouches of fabric into sizes that represented the general shapes of his limbs, head and body shape. Those were stuffed into his body instead of regular stuffing. To make sure small things like his fingers and roundness of his head were preserved, I stuck small amounts of stuffing back into his body to give him the final shape he needed! After being stitched back up, he was all set and ready to go!

I couldn’t believe the effectiveness when I tested him out! We had been able to stuff about 5lbs of pellets into the skin, and while it wasn’t like my weighted blanket, it wasn’t nothing either. Placing Squirtle on my chest helped with my anxiety, and when my legs started to shake, placing him on my lap gave me a warm reminder that everything was okay. These positions are much like the ones a psychiatric service dog uses when it’s owner experiences the beginning stages of anxiety attacks. The dog with lay it’s head on your chest or put it’s front paws on your lap when you begin to feel anxious. Squirtle doesn’t feel unlike a newborn baby when you hold him, and it’s a very comforting feeling.

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As predicted, I experienced a great deal of anxiety while on the plane and while taking a bus from my aunt and uncle’s house to downtown Portland. Squirtle was a real trooper and sat on my lap for the duration of my flight, occasionally crawling up onto my chest when I took a nap. It’s fun to imagine he’s alive, especially because he has the weight and density of a real animal. I feel like I’ve got a real travel pal who I can whisper my anxieties to, and know that he’ll keep the secret. Did I get some weird looks? Sure I did. It’s not every day a 21-year-old sits and talks to a stuffed animal in the middle of the Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport, but it got me through my flights!

Do you have a unique possession that helps you get through stressful experiences? I’d love to hear them- let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Posted in bpd, coping, mental health, stigma

After an Attempt

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

September 2, 2015. The suicide attempt where I would have been successful without the intervention of the police. There’s a wide variety of topics on suicide that you’ll encounter on the internet: warning signs, what to do when your friend is suicidal, statistics and the impact of suicide, etc. What you don’t often hear about is what it’s like to survive an attempt, and how life changes in the immediate and far futures. And when you do, it’s about how friends and family surround the person with Hollywood like gestures of love and support. I’m here to share my story of life after my big attempt and dispell the misconceptions about life after an attempt.

I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts for years. I’ve attempted suicide more times than I’m comfortable admitting. On the day before the big attempt, I was caught in a pretty big lie, and my whole support system was pretty upset about it. The night before, I stayed the night at a friend’s parent’s house because I was feeling unsafe after I had been caught. In the morning I woke up with this giant pit in my stomach. After trying to talk with my at-the-time boyfriend, we’ll call him M, I wasn’t feeling any better. While he said he’d still date me, it was going to take a long time to build his trust back. Since I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, I struggle with abandonment issues, and took his comments as a way to let me down easy and that he was really going to leave me. So upon hanging up, I drove to the local hardware store, and went to go look at the ropes. An employee came over and asked if I needed any help. I was lost trying to find a rope strong enough to hold my weight, so I disguised it as wanting to buy a rope to tie things to the back of my moped. I rode back to my apartment and… well you can imagine what happened next.

I called M’s mom, sobbing, and telling her that my life was over no matter what: if I lived or died. I then hung myself. I won’t go into detail. M’s mom had called an ambulance and the police. The police forced entry and saved me. They took photos of the scene IMG_20150902_191816989_HDRand then threw away the rope. I was put in a neck brace and rushed to the hospital and went through nearly 24 hours of tests. At the end of it all, I was told there was swelling in my c-spine, and I’d have to wear the cervical collar for a month and a half. It was the most traumatic day of my life, and even 2 years later I haven’t told anyone what it was like, but I still have nightmares. Once I was medically cleared I was taken to the psych ward. I’ve blocked most of the following days out, so it’s all a blur, but in the days following I had a lot of phone calls. The first one was M’s mom checking up on me. She had brought me some toiletries and a journal when I had been transferred up to the psych ward, and wanted to know how things we going. I tried to ask about M and how he was doing, but she declined to answer, saying that he’d call me when he was ready. A few days later he called, and broke up with me. I reacted quite violently out of a place of hurt. I was crying and screaming at him, calling him a liar and saying that he was breaking his promises to me. It got to the point where he had to hang up on me. After talking to a nurse, I called his mom back and asked if he was willing to talk to me again, this time there’d be no screaming, and I’d be using my new skills I had been learning. Thankfully he agreed, and we had a mature conversation. I had now lost M and his family, which made up almost my entire support system back then. All I had left were my friends B and F. That didn’t last long… the next day I got a three-way call from B and F saying that they needed a break from me. The deal was no contact for two weeks – every message, DM or voicemail I tried to send would not be read and promptly deleted. After two weeks, they’d call me again, and we’d discuss if we’d stay friends and if so, what that will look like. So when I released to go home, my support system was gone. If I thought that was hard, I had another thing coming.

I was returning to an empty apartment. I had no central support. How do you return to a life you thought you were never supposed to live? I had heard stories about friends IMG_20150911_184413463waiting at the patient’s home with letters about how much they love them or the patient gets a fresh and renewed outlook on life and everything is magically easy. NOT TRUE! Not only was I still in an unstable state of mind, but I had a cervical collar that screamed: “LOOK I WAS IN SOMETHING TRAUMATIC, PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT IT SO I CAN BLUSH, CRY AND RUN AWAY!” Furthermore, I when I did open up and tell someone what happened, many people had the audacity to tell me that I didn’t really try to kill myself and it was all fake. Those really got me. What was the cervical collar THAT THE HOSPITAL GAVE ME for then, huh? Just a prop I stole for my big lie? REALLY?  I know my credibility wasn’t the best at that moment in time, but still. Whenever someone told me my suicide attempt was faked, it drove me to want to kill myself even more. I was so hurt and mad that I’d want to prove them wrong, to show them that I was capable of ending my life.

The whole time I had my cervical collar on, I just wanted to hide. I returned to work during that period, and was flooded with questions from coworkers and clients. Because of the collar, it was difficult for me to do the back work, so I spent most of my time at the front desk, checking in and out clients and managing emails and phone calls. Believe me when I say that you don’t realize how much you use your neck until you can’t use it at all. Especially when it comes to riding a moped. Talking on the phone was rough too, so I felt like I was pretty useless during work. Which didn’t help my mental health. For our September monthly work meeting, we went rock climbing as a team building exercise. Everyone doubted my ability to actually climb the wall, but I made it to the top! It was the first time I felt good about something since my attempt.

Returning to life after an attempt is difficult. It’s hard to know what to say to people who know what happened, but even harder to come up with excuses when you don’t want people to know what happened. Because I attempted in my home, it was hard to walk past the spot every time I had to walk past it. It was hard to restart without any sufficient support. I had to learn my triggers, and if you think about it, to learn your triggers, you have to be triggered (more often than not) and dealing with those triggers can be a challenge. It’s more than tempting to relapse into self-harm, or to attempt suicide again. In my case, I had attempted suicide WITH my support system around me, so when I was triggered after my attempt I felt like there was nothing emotionally keeping me here anymore. My self-harm increased during this time. On social media, I came out as having Borderline Personality Disorder, but I mostly tried to portray having a perfect life and that I was entirely happy. I overcompensated for my “failure” by faking happiness. There’s no magical change where things get better, there’s no party where everyone in your life tells you how much you are loved and then you suddenly are healed.

If you were wondering, I was given a clean bill of health. IMG_20150922_162921780_HDR

What’s important in life after an attempt is that you DO continue to seek professional support once you are released from the hospital – a therapist, psychiatrist, even your primary care doctor works in a pinch. It’s also important that you increase your self-care, and give yourself leeway in your recovery because things will not go perfectly. If you have a support system, give them space to process how they need, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if they’re in a headspace to do so. You’re not alone, and you’ve got this.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts:
Call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
or text  HELP to the Crisis Text Line at 741741

Posted in Anxiety, coping, mental health, stigma

To College or Not to College?

It’s back to school time! For some of you, that’s high school. For others, it’s college. Maybe your kids are heading off to kindergarten or you’re teaching in your own classroom for the first time! Empty nests, the freshman 15, new teachers and new schools. It’s both an exciting time and a time of big change. For many, it’s college move-in time. College is a big deal, and it’s not always possible for those of us with chronic and mental illnesses.

I never went to college, and it wasn’t an easy decision. Today I’m going to share my college experience… or lack thereof, in hopes that it helps those of you struggling with the back to school season.

I came very close to attending college… in fact, I probably got about as close as you can get without actually going. I did everything, college tours, applications my junior/ senior year, picked a college, got a roommate, got assigned my dorm room and signed up for all my classes… I even attended freshman orientation. I had everything I needed for my dorm room, including a mini fridge, and was mostly packed and ready to go. About a week before move-in day, I made the difficult decision to drop-out… before classes had even started! It wasn’t easy, but it was the right choice.

In the spring before college move in day, I wore myself thin applying for scholarships and trying to bring my grades up so I could graduate high school. I was also struggling with worsening mental illness symptoms. I was out on my own, living with a friend’s family. I was constantly suicidal, and my friends and I struggled to keep me safe that semester. I was getting Ds and Fs in most of my classes and my attendance slipped. I skipped physics class more than I attended it. I spent most of my time in the PAC, just wishing I could dance my life away. Even with all my troubles with school, at least it gave me something to fill my time. When summer hit, I was a wreck. I slipped into very unhealthy patterns. I threw all my energy into self-destructive behaviors. I put college on this pedestal and began banking on it being the magic wand to fix all my problems. But as move-in day got closer, I was getting sicker. Going to college and doing it on my own, in a new city, with nothing but strangers, scared me. My support system would be so far away and I’d be alone. I was already suicidal on a daily basis, and I knew that going to college was just opening me up to a whole new list of possibilities in self-destruction, and there would be no one there to stop me.

But as move-in day got closer, I was getting sicker. Going to college and doing it on my own, in a new city, with nothing but strangers, scared me. My support system would be so far away and I’d be alone. I was already suicidal on a daily basis, and I knew that going to college was just opening me up to a whole new list of possibilities in self-destruction, and there would be no one there to stop me. Plus, my last semester of high school was a glaring reminder that I was not able to handle a full school load. Making the decision to stay home was embarrassing. I felt like such a failure because I wasn’t going about my education the “traditional” way. My abandonment issues were triggered by the thought that all my friends were leaving without me, even though logically I knew it wasn’t their fault/ because of me. I locked myself in my room for days, refusing to eat or to interact with anybody. The thought of calling the college and dropping out was overwhelming, but the thought of letting my roomie know that I was dropping out and that she’d be rooming with a stranger all year was even worse. That was the hardest phone call I think I’ve ever made.

Three years later, looking back, I’m thankful that I made the choice to not go to college, or at least not at this time. Knowing the severity of my chronic and mental illnesses now, I can see that I would not be able to cope with everything that college would have brought on. While seeing all my friends “move on” with their lives without me was depressing, I know that trying to keep it together and being successful in college would have been completely detrimental to my health as well as my sense of self.

Have you ever made a choice that was against “the norm”? Let me know how you did it and how you coped in the comments below!

Posted in coping, mental health, OCD, PTSD, stigma

How to Say Goodbye

Before I start, no this isn’t a suicide note. Just wanted to make that clear to keep anyone from a freak-out.

This past week and a halfish I’ve found myself in the midst of my biggest relapse I’ve experienced. Generally, I write about insightful things on the blog, hoping to break the stigma one blog post at a time. I’ll be honest, I had a depressed “realization” that the stigma hasn’t diminished, it’s only morphed to fit in with today’s society. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. Logically I know it’s not a losing battle, just an uphill one. A long, near-right-angle uphill battle. Okay, yeah, I’m depressed. And I’ve got a lot going on. So I’m selfish this blog post… I’ll figure out how to make this mind dump into something worth reading… maybe… hopefully… eventually… I’m going to use the excuse that this is showing people what it’s like to be in my mind. If I come up with something better later, I will. But for now that flimsy excuse I don’t even believe myself will stand. Time to shout into the emptiness that is the www.

So I have a lot going on in my head right now. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the two biggest things. Actual legal reasons. I know. It sounds pathetic even to me.

One thing I am at liberty to talk about is the loss of my childhood home. I spent most of my life in that house, and in the past month, my parents moved. Being the home I grew up in I have a lot of good memories. And bad ones. Casualties of growing up. I’m terrified of saying goodbye to my closet. It was my play place as a kid. I have tried for a half an hour to put into words what a special place it was for me. I lined the walls with pictures I drew of my invisible friends, I created a console for the inside of a spaceship and traveled all around the universe (I wanted to be an astronaut scientist with seven kids when I was growing up). I would read, color, let my creativity run wild. I hung a flashlight from the hanger-hanging-pole thingy. I had my favorite stuffed animals, a pillow, blankets… on more than one occasion I happily fell asleep.  When I lived with my friend’s family during my senior year of high school, my closet was a corner of the storage room off my bedroom. When I found myself in states of great distress, I didn’t curl up in a ball under my covers. I grabbed my favorite blanket and my Winnie the Pooh I’ve had since I was 2 and curled up in a ball on the storage room’s cement floor. When I had my own apartment for the first time, I set up my large collection of stuffed animals, beloved blankets, and 400 page Disney coloring book accompanied by 200 crayons in a nifty little nook at the bottom of my closet. Even now, at nearly 22 years young, I still hide in the bottom of my closet whenever there’s a big storm or a tornado warning… or when I’m really upset. Like this morning. My parents have completely moved out of the house and they have a buyer for it. How am I supposed to say goodbye to my closet?!? I have no time, and I’m panicking… big time. I’m always trying to find reasons and tangible evidence in the physical realm to help explain what’s going on inside my head (my pal John Green touches on it beautifully in one of his latest videos). WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME WHEN I LOSE MY CHILDHOOD HOME? WHAT IF I NEED TO PROCESS SOMETHING AND THE PHYSICAL PLACE IS GONE?!? Yep. Only slightly freaking out. And I’m putting all this pressure myself to say the perfect goodbye to a stupid house. Yeah. Mixed feelings.

Another thing I’m trying to say goodbye to is this weird secret addiction I have. And before you start thinking, I can guarantee that you’re wrong. It’s not drugs, it’s not alcohol or porn or anything. It’s something that not only have I never heard of anywhere else, but my therapist who has been in the business for over 20 years has never come across anything like it. It’s the single biggest secret and source of shame in my life and even talking about it this much will have me reeling in shame for weeks. Please, respect my trust and don’t try to guess or judge. Please. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was in elementary school. And I’ve relapsed. Big time. It’s worse than it’s ever been. I’m disgusted by myself and I don’t know what to do. And I’m so embarrassed and ashamed of this that I can’t talk about it with anyone except around 3 people (before you ask, my therapist is in Europe, just another part of my freak out… her parting advice was to feel my emotions and stop burying them before it killed me… literally). Screaming my panic into my pillow has only gotten me so far… so now I’m screaming into the void.

A week ago I was the mentally the sickest I’ve been in over 2 years. It took waking up friends at 6:30 in the morning to come be with me before my OCD took over and put me in danger. I felt as if I exhausted my local support system with the visits I kept requiring. people to make so I could stay safe and out of the god-forsaken hospital (before you argue with me, read about my worst ER psych experiences here and tell me if you’d ever want to go back when you were in crisis). My head hurts all the time. My room is a mess. My pets miss their playmate. I sat in my new bungee chair for 72 hours straight last week… then slept in my bed for 36. I’m a mess. I haven’t written a blog post in a week. Heck, I have barely written anything in the past two weeks. I just keep turning over how to say goodbye. To my parents’ house, to ghosts in my past, to my secret addiction, to legal battles, to eating disorder therapists rejecting me…

If you actually read all of this I’m genuinely surprised.