Friday, April 29, 2016

A Letter to my Mental Illnesses

Dear mental illness,

I get so mad at you. You mess up so many things in my life. 
The first and probably the biggest thing you mess up in my life is my relationships. I can make friends, yes. Friendships start off normal. But once friends realize I have mental illness they either run away and hide from it completely making it awkward or they try to offer support and end up getting overwhelmed with everything that is you. Then they turn the other way and things are never the same again. And forget about romantic relationships. I'm too afraid to even venture into those waters. Because who wants to date someone who is emotionally unstable?
The next area you mess with is my job and livelihood. For me, I am on disability. At the age of 21. Thanks to you. I still try to work but it is so exhausting that by the time the end of the day comes I can do nothing but go home and go to bed. I can't cook dinner. I can't clean my apartment. I can barely keep up basic hygiene most days. And I struggle so badly financially. Because what pays the bills when I only have the disability money coming through cause once again I ended up in the hospital and missed 2 weeks of work? 
The next area you mess with is my dreams. I once dreamt of becoming an amazing teacher and trumpet player. Now I hardly pick up my trumpet. I imagined finishing college with the rest of my friends. Now they have all moved on to masters and I'm still struggling to get a bachelors and failing at it. I can't get my schoolwork done because you steal my motivation and my concentration. You have messed with the dreams I had. I wanted to become a foster parent. That can't happen until you become completely under control and I can handle the stress of another human being in my life. 
But probably the biggest things you have messed up are my joy, my passion and most importantly, my hope. You have stolen them. And I fight every day just to find an ounce to do my job. Just to get out of bed in the morning. And my hope that things will get better doesn't exist. I can't look more than a day or two in the future or else all becomes hopeless. Sometimes I can't even do that. Sometimes all I can do is focus on this very minute and not hope at all but just focus on surviving it and then the next one. Hope for the future is gone. Hope for now is gone. You have stolen my hope, mental illness. And I want it back. I want to be able to look forward and not see black. 
Mental illness, I want to be able to look up and see sunshine. I want to be able to have friends who are not on one end of the spectrum or the other. I want to be able to finish college and fulfill my dreams. I want to have joy and passion. I want to have hope again. 

I want my life back. I want ME back! 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

PTSD and Triggers

So in the past I have talked about Borderline Personality Disorder and Chronic Suicidality which is part of Major Depressive Disorder as well as part of BPD. But I have never really gotten around to talk about PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This disorder is commonly associated with the military and veterans returning from war. They suffer because of things that they have gone through based on their experiences in the war. However, there are other categories of people who can also suffer PTSD. Those can include abuse survivors - this means all types of abuse (physical, verbal, sexual), domestic violence, rape. This can also include traumas like car accidents or natural disasters. There are a lot of things people can go through and develop PTSD from.
According to, there are 4 main symptoms of PTSD.
The first is Intrusive Memories. These include things like flashbacks and nightmares. Flashbacks and nightmares can be set off by things called triggers. This could be a smell, sound, sight, taste, or touch that causes someone to revert back to what they went through in the past and almost re-experience it.
The second is Avoidance. This means avoiding areas that remind someone of the event. This could be avoiding a road where a car accident took place. This could be avoiding a certain section of a store because a certain item sets off flashbacks. NAMI also includes this "A person may feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed, or have trouble remembering the traumatic event" as part of avoidance. Avoidance can also include avoidance of feelings related to the event.
The third symptom is Dissociation. This is a hard concept for many people to grasp or understand. The best way to explain it to people is to relate to when imagine driving somewhere and reaching a destination and not remembering the process of getting there. Except instead of driving, having episodes in life like that. People have episodes where they don't know what they are doing or they dissociate to other personalities and don't realize what they are doing and don't remember what they are doing. It's something the body does to protect itself a lot of the time so it doesn't have to deal with the pain from the trauma.
The fourth symptom is Hypervigilance. This is where someone can be easily startled or are over aware of their surroundings. One example is constantly checking the parking lot to make sure their attacker isn't there. It could also mean not sleeping well or having outbursts of anger.

Triggers are the biggest thing when it comes to PTSD. When one is triggered, the body usually does one of three things: flight, fight or freeze. Until we give ourselves a chance to heal and go through therapy and work through everything those are our three options. 

So how does this apply to my life?
Well I have PTSD from growing up with a physically, and mentally/emotionally/verbally abusive family. I have a few very specific triggers that I have a really hard time with. If I hear a belt snapping or being hit against something, that is a trigger. Seeing a paint stirrer (or paint stick as I call it) in any size is a trigger (granted, not as bad as it used to be). These types of things send me back to instant memories of growing up and they haunt me for days. I can't concentrate or think straight and have images constantly going through my head. I have nightmares with it too. Those are my main triggers when it comes to the physical abuse part of it. My response to these triggers varies. Sometimes it will end up being a combination of the three before I can get the images under control. For the other section, if I feel like I'm being targeted, ganged up on, personally attacked among other things, I will almost automatically shut down. If I am getting yelled at, or someone raises their voice at me, I will shut down. If someone raises their voice at someone else, I will probably shut down. This is the freeze part of the three options. I know there are other triggers but I can't think of them at the moment. But those are the real basic ones.

So what can you do to help me if I do get triggered and you notice it or figure it out?
The biggest thing you can do is help ground me. Bring me back to the present. When I am triggered I'm freaking out and having a lot of mixed up emotions but primarily anxiety and my head is not in the present moment and I need to be brought back to the present moment. This can be as simple as taking me outside if possible and pointing out the obvious or talking to me about what's around me and what's going on at that moment, even the littlest things. If my dog is laying on the floor, you can say that. Bringing my dog over to me is something to help me. I have a pillowcase that is comforting to me and helps ground me back into the present. Grounding is one of those things that I struggle doing on my own sometimes. Sometimes it is silly but it helps. Making me laugh or getting my mind off of whatever is going on helps as well. Getting me engaged in something else helps if I am ready for that. If I am still really anxious and shaky, then I still need to be grounded some more first. It will take me a while to be back to baseline again but any help (even if I try to fight you on it) will help in the long run. Trust me. PTSD is hard and is horrible to deal with alone. It can be crippling. Which is why the more people around who know about it the more people can help others about it. 
A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed or having trouble remembering the traumatic event. - See more at:
A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed or having trouble remembering the traumatic event. - See more at:
A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed or having trouble remembering the traumatic event. - See more at:
A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried or depressed or having trouble remembering the traumatic event. - See more at:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Poems and Songs I have written and kept

Over the past couple of years I have written many poems. I have posted some in various locations but never on my blog. So I have decided to try to post them in increments of 3, based on which ones I feel like posting out of my journal my my various experiences that I have been through. Some may be older. Some may be newer. It really just depends. Hope you enjoy. 

4/2/16 Song/Poem (Not quite finished)

Suicidal Thoughts
Running Through My Head
Making Me Wish
That I Was Dead

Giving me false hope
That this pain will end
But it will only pass it off
To my other friends

Die! My head screams.
Die! It's not worth it.
Die! The pain's not over.
It's a never ending pit.
Running gets you no where.
It's a brick wall that you hit.

Your tears stain your pillow
Your fight leaves your eyes
You just want to give up
And give your soul a chance to fly

Fly among the eagles
Fly among the trees
Fly into the heavens
Until you sit down at God's feet

There's a never ending battle
That you're tired of trying to fight
When you want is peace and answers
And one quiet restful night

You ask all the questions
Yet can never get any answers
To why you're stuck suffering
To why you're still here

And your fight leaves your body
You want to give up
And give your soul a chance to fly

Fly among the eagles
Fly among the trees
Fly into the Heavens
Until you sit down at God's feet
Fly above the oceans
Fly into the sky
Fly above the world
And leave it all behind
And leave it all behind.

1/24/15 Poem

I have an illness.
Its name is depression.
It paints the world black.
It feels like a dark hole.
Or a cloud that follows me everywhere.
It engulfs me.
It encompasses me.
It is like a chain around my neck.
Constantly there.
I have an illness.
Its name is depression.

I have an illness.
Its name is anxiety.
It feels like the world is spinning,
the colors blending together
The room shakes, the chest tight.
The overwhelming fear
Of anything, everything.
The inescapable sensation
of unrelenting chaos.
I have an illness.
Its name is anxiety.

I have an illness.
Its name is PTSD.
Triggered by past hurt,
betrayal, trauma
Nighttime is my enemy
Daytime is a freedom
But only a small freedom
The color is red
Like a screaming child
Who's childhood is ruined.
I have an illness.
Its name is PTSD.

I have an illness.
Its name is BPD.
Its colors are black, white and blue.
Black for the depression, and the thinking
White is for the smile before the black,
the other end of the thinking.
Blue is for the tears, for the hurt
Caused by others and by self
Nothing in the middle, just extremes.
I have an illness.
Its name is BPD.

I have an illness.
Its name is RA.
Its colors are blue and purple.
Blue for the tears caused by
the pain, pain caused by the
rain, by the ever changing weather.
Purple for the swelling and the color
of the joints inflammed.
Pain is a reminder that life is
not what it should be, a reminder
of my limitations, a reminder of the
no cure, of the pain.
I have an illness.
Its name is RA.

I have 5 illnesses.
Each one has a different name.
They paint different pictures
of pain, suffering, tears.
But they also paint a picture
of hope - hope for recovery.
Recovery is possible.
I have 5 illnesses.
Depression, anxiety, PTSD, BPD and RA
But those illnesses are NOT me!

1/29/15 Poem
This place is not a place for me
A place for me to get help
A place where meds are changed
Friends are made
Life controlled.
This place is not a place for me.

This place is not a place for me.
A place where people want to help.
A place for a new journey to start.
But mine won't.
Mine won't.
This place is not a place for me.

This life is not a life for me.
A life full of suffering and pain.
A life slowly spun out of control.
Friends lost.
Family too.
This life is not a life for me.

This life is not a life for me.
A life that doesn't give breaks.
A life that spins round and round
Rest is what I need.
What my body longs for.
Eternal Rest.
This life is not a life for me.
And soon I won't be in it.

12/08/16 Poem
Beaten Down
Lying in a puddle on the ground

Passerbys stare on their morning stroll
Wondering why I can't get control

My mind is freaking out
Wondering how to get out
Out of where you ask
Out of this place
Out of this town
Out of this state
Out of this world
Out of it all
Never to be seen again
By those passerbys on their morning stroll

Now there will be just a hole
Where that puddle once laid

No crosses, no flowers
No candles on the sidewalk
No teddy bears to take the place
Of the person who once took the space
Where that puddle once laid

Beaten Down
Lying in a puddle on the ground
No more
Just a hole

Sunday, April 10, 2016

When it's time to go to the hospital...

The past couple of weeks have been quite interesting. On the 25th of March, I ended up checking myself into a psychiatric hospital because I needed help and I needed help fast. It was to the point where the night before a friend had to come home with me for a couple hours so that I could stay safe and not hurt myself because I was in such rough shape. So I agreed to sign myself in and try to get some help that I needed. Let me tell you it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I have been involuntarily committed multiple times before and hated it but it was still not as hard as this stay was. I had multiple opportunities where I could have signed myself out, where I could have lied to get myself out sooner or where I could have said screw it and not done the work and not cared about getting better. But I didn't. I had friends behind me, who came to visit me every and I mean EVERY chance they got and answered almost every phone call they could and spent countless times on the phone with me crying and begging them to just let me give up and let go.
One conversation I specifically remember and I hope that I will remember it the rest of my life is the conversation that changed my viewpoint on a lot of things and changed my mindset about the whole thing was the conversation we had about me just wanting to give up and end it all. She told me about her experience about losing a loved one to suicide. She told me that her and her friend (who also was constantly visiting me) could not lose another person to suicide. She told me that "Just because you are told it's not your fault and that there was nothing you could have done doesn't mean that you don't sit there and blame yourself and ask yourself how did I mess up? How did I screw up? Why wasn't I good enough to keep this person on the planet?" And it was this conversation that really hit me. Not right away. But after sitting with it and sitting with it and sitting with it, things started to change. My thinking started to change a little bit.
Luckily, with this hospital stay I was able to get a fantastic doctor who was able to switch up a couple medications which have helped a TON in managing my condition. The doctor was really helpful in challenging my thinking about my situation and how I handled my situation overall and how I handled situations that took place while I was in the hospital.
Another big thing that I learned while I was in the hospital was how crucial it is that I ask for help. I am horrible when it comes to asking for help about things like mental health or even with simpler things. I have started to learn that I need to ask for help before things get to a crisis stage and that this can help me prevent getting to that crisis stage. I have friends that can help me stay away from that point and my therapist is back now and can work with me. I have learned to ask questions when I need to ask them and reach out when I need to reach out. This has been a tremendous learning experience. I made a couple new friends through it and hope to slowly gain more friends as time goes on. I hope I can remain stable for a while and make things okay for a while as the medication begins to start to work in my system and things level out.
I started back work last week and LOVED it and got back to fostering kittens which has been an absolute blast to get back into.
Recovery is a process and this was a huge bump in the road. But it helped me move forward. And hopefully things will continue to move in an upward direction. We shall see. More details about the hospitalizations to come..........