In-Patient Redux

Last weekend, I was feeling extremely low and realized that I was rapidly going downhill.  So I checked myself into the local mental health facility.  This time, I was prepared for the process…although I was in the waiting area for 24 hours before I was able to get back on the ward.  I brought some reading material, pens and paper.  I planned to just take a few days to get my meds regulated and to figure out a plan.

See, I’ve been really stressed out lately.  It’s a combination of things…my job (where I have a boss who seems incapable of reading her emails and continues to ask for things that I have already sent her)…my living situation (trying to find a decent, inexpensive room has been a challenge)…my future (wanting to focus on my business ideas but sometimes, not even having the energy to write a blog post).

Things that most people do with ease have become a challenge for me.  I expend so much energy dealing with work, that I don’t have the energy to fight the depression.  The depression drapes on my like a wet, heavy, wool blanket.  It makes brushing my teeth a gargantuan task.  There’s a movement called #PoweroftheShower.  This is for celebrating the small victories, like taking a shower, when it’s all you can do.

So why am I sharing all of this?  Because I will not be silent.  Depression and anxiety are real and the people who battle them every day are warriors.  Not only do we fight are demons, we also fight stigma, ignorance, indifference and fear.  We constantly worry that we are a burden to our friends and family, no matter how many times they reassure us that we aren’t.  We fear that when we reach out, no one will be there reaching back. 

I’ve been wanting to get a new tattoo for a while and during my in-patient stay, I decided what I wanted to get.  Project Semicolon’s motto is “Your story isn’t over yet”.  It is usually followed by a semicolon.  I have 2 semicolons already but I wanted something more.  So I decided on “My story isn’t over yet…”  I decided on using ellipses because it is my favorite form of punctuation and it can mean hesitation…a suspension point. 

So I am at a suspension point.  I will have ups and downs…good days and bad days.  I will treasure the good days and ride out the bad days.  I will work to manage the ups and downs.  I will fight every day against stigma, ignorance and indifference.  I am a warrior and my story isn’t over yet…

Tattoo

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Adaptable 

I’ve been retrospective again…usually not a good thing, but lately, it has me thinking…wait, isn’t that what being retrospective means?

Last week, my therapist told me the word that comes to mind when she thinks about me is adaptable.   Adaptable…the dictionary defines it as “to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.”  

I find that incredibly fascinating because I’ve never considered myself to be adaptable. 

I asked a good friend if she thought adaptable applied to me. She said,  “Yes. You pick up and go when you want, then get yourself established pretty quickly. If things don’t work out, you move on to the next thing.” 

Funny how someone else’s observations completely turned me around.  You see, I never considered that as being adaptable. I thought it was sheer cowardice…the need to run away instead of trying to stay and solve the problem.  

Reframing…turning a negative into a positive…stopping doubt…controlling negative self-talk…thinking about myself in a positive manner…these are my goals.

Why? Well, I’ve never had a high opinion of myself.  I’m smart, organized and capable. Those are things I’m quite confident about…but if someone tells me that I’m pretty, instantly, my mind refutes the compliment. My mind says, “they’re just saying that to be nice”. 

If someone says “You’re strong”, instantly my mind says, “They don’t really know how weak you are.” 

If someone says “You’re amazing”, my mind says “Ha! You’re nothing.” 

About a month ago, I was trying to show someone pictures from my niece’s wedding and I accidentally changed my Facebook profile picture. I didn’t realize it until I started getting likes and comments. It was so unexpected and made me realize that I have worth…that I’m important…that I matter. 

My mind tells me lies and I keep believing it. So I’m giving her a name…negative bitch (NB). So now, when I’m having negative thoughts, I’m working on telling NB to shut up (I’ve found some more colorful words as well).  Some times I am more successful than others, but as always, I am a work in progress.

 

Adaptable

Life…or something like it…

It’s been a roller coaster few weeks…

Let’s start with the good…I’m officially divorced! A process that took far too long because my ex-husband wanted to fight every step of the way…claiming to want me back while being as mean and nasty as possible. 

So now that I’m free of that burden, the question is…now what? I’ve spent the last year with my life on hold, waiting to move forward…thinking that I needed to be divorced to figure out what comes next in my life. 

I thought once I was divorced, I would feel this amazing sense of release…and while I do feel better…I’m also terrified. See, I thought I had found the man I was to spend the foreseeable future with…and when that went sideways, I just stopped…thinking…feeling…processing…all stopped…

I don’t want to be hurt again…and I’m not sure I trust my judgment anymore…it’s been almost 10 years of not so good relationships…Yikes!! 

But my therapist (yes, I’m invoking that phrase) helped me realize that I need to listen to myself more…there were signs that I chose to ignore because I’ve wanted to believe that my fairy tale was coming true. 

I’m a romantic…I believe in true love and fate…I believe that there are people who are just meant to be together…maybe it’s watching The Princess Bride one too many times…

I’m also a realist…I know relationships aren’t all puppy dogs and rainbows…there are challenges…it takes work on both sides…but the reward is amazing…

I’ve been assigned homework…I have to come up with some guidelines for a healthy relationship…things I should expect from a relationship…things that are a must…and things I can compromise on…

It feels like a daunting prospect…but it’s a must if I want to truly have my happily ever after…

Life

Faith

Faith…the substance of things hoped for…the evidence of things not seen… 

Faith is difficult for me…I grew up in the church…every Christian denomination, from C.O.G.I.C. (Church of God in Christ) to Assembly of God to non-denominational…

I’ve always believed in God but there have been times when I have felt abandoned by Him. And before I get all the responses of “God is always there” or “Just keep praying”…that’s not what this is about.  

It doesn’t matter what other people say…my faith and my relationship with God is mine…how I feel about it and how I deal with it is also mine…I don’t tell anyone else how to believe or how to pray or how to have faith…

Faith looks different for me…my faith is knowing that God chooses to wake me up each day…my faith is talking to God all the time, not just when I’m in church…my faith is knowing God knows His plan for me, even if I don’t…my faith is reminding myself that no matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me…

Faith is important to me…without it, I would not have made it this far. I would not have the strength to get up each day…I would not have the energy to work…I would not have the courage to keep moving forward in life…

Without faith, I would have made more suicide attempts…without faith, I would continue to live in fear and shame…without faith, I could not be this open…

Faith allows me to share my truth…to speak out about my depression and anxiety…to know there is more to life than how I am feeling in the moment…

I don’t have all the answers but faith allows me to keep going.

Faith

Am I A Quitter

I’ve been in the mode of self-reflection lately…and I’m wondering if I am a quitter…

I never thought of myself as a quitter…actually, there are some things that I hold on to far longer than I should (i.e, romantic relationships).  But there have been a series of things that I have started and not finished…including Etsy business ideas, knitting projects, and the like.

I was told by my soon-to-be-ex-husband that I am a quitter…that he never thought I could finish anything…ouch!  So that has been rolling around in my brain for a while and really has me thinking that I might never finish anything of consequence. 

There are things that I do finish…books mostly.  I’ve always loved reading.  It has been the one constant in my life.  No matter what is going on, I know that I can lose myself in a good book.

But is that my only accomplishment in life?  That I can read and finish a book?  That seems quite paltry.  And looking at my Goodreads account, I seem to have more books to read than I have read.

I’ve always considered my brain to be my greatest asset…but I also hide behind it so that I don’t have to feel hurt, pain, or loss.  I wish I could keep hiding but I know that feeling emotions is an important part of life.

So here I am…stepping out from behind the brain to share my heart.  It is broken and tattered…it has loved fully and been hurt deeply…it does not trust easily…it keeps trying to find peace and is afraid it never will…it still believes in true love, no matter how many times it has been disappointed…it wants to love again…and it will never quit!

Quitter

Plans…

The future…two of the scariest words to me…they invoke a sense of panic…stomach churning, heart stopping, shallow breathing panic.  Head pounding, mind numbing, hot flashing panic…

I used to be a super organized planner…lots of color coding, labeling, file folders, highlighters, pens (a very large assortment) and paper…all designed to keep me on track, focused and in control… 

And I wasn’t just an ordinary planner…I was a long range planner…not only would I know what I was doing next week, but I could tell you what I planned to do for my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.  I was the one in my family who organized our gatherings because I was good at it…and I enjoyed it…

Now?  Not so much…some days, the thought of figuring out what to wear sends me into a panic, let alone figuring out what happens next in my life…

So what am I supposed to do? I’ve always known what comes next and right now, I have no idea. It scares me…worse than my panic attacks…worse than my depression…worse than anything I ever imagined…

I don’t know what comes next…

What I do know is that when I start to feel overwhelmed about the future, I try to celebrate the small victories…remembering to take my meds…taking a shower when I don’t even want to get out of bed…going to a baseball game and allowing myself to enjoy it…

These may seem like small things…but they are major accomplishments to me…they are small steps in recovery…they are me, trying to get whole again…

Plan

 

One Year of Survival

It’s been a year since my suicide attempt.  In some ways, I feel like I’ve made strides forward and in other ways, I feel like I’m exactly the same.  The old saying, “One step forward, two steps back” so aptly applies.  I have days where I feel good…great, even.  I get out and do things and actually enjoy myself.  And then I have days where I don’t even want to leave my bed.  There are days when I feel smart and beautiful…and days where I feel ugly and stupid.  There are days when I feel funny and charming…and days where I feel boring and witless.

I often wonder where my life would be if I hadn’t attempted suicide…would my marriage be intact, instead of in tatters?  Would my mind be full of ideas instead of full of doubt?  Would I have an abundance of self-confidence instead of an abundance of self-loathing?  Would I like myself?  Would I love myself?

It’s easy to think that because I survived my suicide attempt, that I’m fine…that surviving made me appreciate life and that I realize what a mistake it was.  But that is not true Deep down, in the places that I don’t talk about, I wonder if God made a mistake in saving me…if I deserve this second chance at life.  I feel so unworthy…and yet so ungrateful.

I wish I could say that the bad days help me appreciate the good days…but it’s not that simple.  When I have good days, I wonder why I can’t always feel that way.  When I have bad days, I think it’s what I deserve. 

I am a walking contradiction…and I’m learning to live with that…because I don’t really know what year two will bring…and I don’t have expectations.  I do have a wish…I wish to be comfortable…in my own skin…with who I am…with what I do…with what I don’t do…so that is what I am striving for in year two…I survived year one…I want to thrive in year two…

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