Surviving holidays without family + Q for readers

Thanksgiving is upon us in the United States, a holiday of deeply controversial origins but good in theory: Announced as a national holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln(1), the intention of the holiday is to reflect on our gratitude and share our good fortunes. I don’t think I have to tell anyone reading this blog how different expressed intention and actual impact are (especially in the context of politics) however, but this isn’t what this entry is about today. It’s knowing what to celebrate when you are alone on a day that is supposed to be set aside for celebrating how alone you are not.

Gratitude is often a sensitive subject for those who have not begun healing from the traumas and pain they have endured in life. Telling someone to be glad they have a roof over their heads when they’re afraid to go home is seldom ever effective in encouraging recovery. Instead, it often perpetuates feelings of shame or indignation. I am grateful to have a roof over my head even when I’m still sometimes scared to go home, but I’m in a position where I am actively working to change that. I know, for the most part, how to keep myself safe from what used to be my self-damaging responses to trauma and pain, and I am not in immediate physical danger here. I am grateful to be so far in the journey of emotional healing, especially in only my 20s. For all that I’ve endured, it’s impressive; but I got to this point because I’ve been afforded resources, services, and people who have substantially helped me along the way. One story is not all stories.

It’s Okay to be “Salty”

I was telling a fellow sufferer of endometriosis not to be too hard on herself for being salty or for taking some time to feel bad for herself. While ruminating on how bad things are can trap a person in an unhelpful cycle, proactive assessment can only come from comprehensive acknowledgment. In other words, if you don’t see what’s wrong, you’re unlikely to apply the right tools to manage it. I know from dealing with intrusive thinking and rumination during PTSD flares that putting a timeblock on sadness and anger and other painful feelings isn’t natural or easy. It takes practice to change lanes, but it’s necessary to move forward. Acknowledging what’s wrong in your life is actually an act of self-compassion when you supplement it with helpful thoughts and the implementation of coping skills. In the worst of times, the invasive thoughts feel impossible to change or get rid of, and psychologists advise not to tell yourself to stop thinking them or they will only get worse. For me, a balance of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy with a heavy focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques are most effective. The balance can change given what state or circumstances I’m in: DBT, which focuses on mindfulness, freeing thoughts and feelings from self-imposed judgments, and sensory techniques is more helpful for me for short-term crisis stabilization. I often seek DBT implementation when I am feeling dramatically overwhelmed, and I am already suffering noticeably apparent physical symptoms of a C-PTSD flare. Upon calming, CBT techniques can help me get back to a healthy, mindful baseline.

Continue reading “Surviving holidays without family + Q for readers”

On body positivity & awareness

When someone ties their physical form to their integrity or character value, that is when they have an increased likelihood of intentionally harming their body, and devastatingly, society encourages this connection all the time. You can want to lose weight to improve your health – or gain weight to improve your health, build muscle to improve your health, etc. But when you do it in pursuit of becoming a person of “value” or increasing your worth as a human being, that is when you are really hurt inside, and you need to begin healing yourself.

I am 162 lbs now, when I was ~195 in mid-April. While to most people this sounds like a cause for celebration because society sees fat as so “unattractive” (and yes, unhealthy but that’s often secondary to the main message and for awful reasons), losing this much so soon is not healthy either, especially because of how I lost it – being unable to properly take in and digest food. I want to take this time to especially send my love to those with illnesses – of any kind, whether it be endometriosis, cancer, Chron’s, EDNOS, etc – who are overweight, lose weight then because of the illness they’re suffering from, only to then get congratulated on their weight loss when they actually feel like they are (or actually are) dying inside. It is devaluing, dehumanizing, and invalidating, and for those with eating disorders and associated thoughts and behaviors, those experiences significantly encourage the chance of related fatality. That being said, eating disorders have reportedly the highest fatality rate of any mental illness, and there are plenty of people who start out as “heavy” before literally overexercising, starving, or purging (including vomiting and/or excessive laxative use) themselves to death.

 

Note: Because of the tragic self-violence of disordered eating, I refuse to more “gracefully” word that.

 

While many people who have lost a great deal of weight are happy to have lost it, feel good about having lost it, and have lost it under medical supervision and/or through a healthy way, please always consider the possible ramifications of telling someone “Wow, you look so good after all that weight loss!” or tbh, commenting on people’s weights at all.

 

For me, today someone close to me commented in a way that was actually very considerate and was not at all hurtful to me (but validating instead). She had noticed the rapid weight loss and was concerned for me, knowing why it has been happening, and she treated it compassionately.

 

But I can’t tell you how many people have seen me in the past month and told me, “Wow, you look great now! Look at how much weight you’ve lost!” to which I must stifle a frustrated “I’ve lost weight because my body literally won’t allow me to eat and drink due to medical problems and I am so hungry and thirsty and miserable.”

 

The fact that I haven’t been able to leave the house much and so I haven’t seen many people is a true testament to how painfully common this response is.

Continue reading “On body positivity & awareness”

Taking my own advice: 260916

Part B to Part A 260916

(I’ve decided to start chiming in on my own reactions to the advice I preach for clarification, actualization, and socialization purposes.)

So….

accomplishmentssample

Part of most kinds of recovery is about acceptance. Being aware that five things doesn’t look like a lot, I have to be mindful that I set a very short timeline, these things were difficult for me, and that is okay. I did them! (Also it’s 05:54 so I’m still a little sleepy. ;))

Please share also if you want to. 🙂

Advice for 09 September, 2016

Embrace today and plan to spend time with someone who plays a positive role in your life; if the plan falls through or is impossible, reach into yourself and enjoy your own company. Suggestions: paint your nails, read a good book, sit down with some tea and admire something calming, et cetera.

Always darkest

I don’t like getting up early right now. Right now, I don’t even like getting up at all. Reopening wounds in therapy last Wednesday was tough. Being in a triggering situation last Thursday was tougher. PTSD is a hypersensitive gun right now, and I’ve had two psychotic episodes in the past two(?) weeks. I don’t know. Everything is running together.

It’s times like these that the positivity is so hard to hold onto or even remember, and of course, it’s times like these when I need it most. I get the “c’est la vie” track stuck in my head, and the suicidality starts back up, and before I know it, I’m lost in a zoo where all predators are loose and hungry and I don’t have a directory to find my way to safety.

But I’ll get through it.

I must remember that.

So many suicide attempts and so many days like this and so many hospitalizations, and I’m still alive. I don’t believe in “plans” or that “everything happens for a reason.” I’m honestly just really hard to kill, it seems.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still alive.

My self-purpose is that I’m here to make the world better:  To inspire and encourage and love and express and strengthen and enlighten all those around me, as well as myself. That’s what I want to do. I want to live my faith in people. I feel so separate from the world, so cut-off. I feel angry and bitter and cynical, but I know the hurt and the damage are at the root of all of that. Because I’ve also seen human beings capable of beautiful, strong, and compassionate things. There are figures in history who prove me right. There are people every day who prove me right. I think at the core, people are born selfish because that’s how people survive, but I don’t think that means people are condemned to selfishness. Like colorism, misogyny, and other prejudices, selfishness is something we must commit to undoing. Ultimately, you still must have great significance to yourself and be addressing your own needs and fighting for yourself. But there is a difference between selfishness and survival. Sometimes it’s a gray shaded area, but I believe there is a strong distinction most of the time.

I don’t have unrealistic expectations. I know I cannot save the world; I know nobody can. And I know that even if it were possible, one would have to save themselves first. People en masse are easily manipulated, and mobs appeal to a hubris beyond comprehension. We can’t control anything or anyone outside ourselves, truly.

And why would you want to? Really? I wouldn’t mind the pain so much if there were less of it. I think pain is vital to growth and development. After all, why would someone invent a better way of doing things if they were completely content with the way they were doing things in the first place? but the pain is massive. It’s hard. Stifling. Suffocating, almost. Just breathing in a world like this feels impossible sometimes. Everything hurts.

But there are good things. Always, always, always. There are beautiful things. There are beautiful people. Beautiful stories, good stories. Inspiration. The world is a sick place, but the diversity and creativity and beauty–often tucked away in details–are important to note.

I remembered just now why I used to like early mornings:
Even in this summer heat, dawn is important to watch.