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”
I haven’t been hiding that the disease I am trying to manage right now (endometriosis) is both horrific and all-consuming and that I feel that is in fact quite literally killing me. I have had near-death experiences before and in April I did die for a time, or at least was closest to death than I ever was, being in a coma and consciously having to make the choice to stay alive. I didn’t choose to live because I felt I had to tie up loose ends. I chose to live because amindst all of the darkness, I was able to find hope that I could get effective treatment and live a life I wanted to live. That treatment is still far away even with the help
I’ve been receiving and am very grateful for, and I may not get it before my insides are scarred beyond functioning or I develop serious heart problems
(That being said, I know I am being extremely
annoying about this, but I am literally pleading for my life and trying to get the information out there to save others’ as well.) There are a lot of things I want to do and can’t, but I’m focused right now (and trying to stay focused) on what I can
Blogging has been helping me deal with this along with other issues, and I intend to start vlogging about endometriosis and my case specifically very soon. I will not let my suffering be meaningless when I have learned and experienced so much that can contribute to others getting help sooner.
Part of living the life I want to live is becoming who I want to be. I have many limitations right now of many varieties, but I can choose to continue working on myself, regardless of how little time I may or may not have left. Truthfully, I think that is the most honest motivation for this blog in particular. Helping others and advocacy are both integral to my soul’s survival, a huge part of who I want to become, and while this blog does not have a big reach and has probably not bettered anyone else’s life, it has helped me greatly, I have learned better to self-advocate, and so my entries here have bettered my own life, all of which have helped equip me with better skills and ability to reach out to others more effectively elsewhere.
Recovery is not a destination but a process.
This is, indeed, truly a recovery blog for me.
That being said, there are things I talk about here that I feel I need myself to embrace more fully. We are all hypocrites in one aspect of our lives or another, whether always or in certain instances, but hypocrisy is something I have been working very hard for years to get out of my system. I know it will never be 100% out. I am human. I am fallible. But I am human, which means I also have a great capacity to change and take charge of my own behavior.
Continue reading ““Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.” – Jean-Paul Sartre”
Reducing the impact of a vice isn’t necessarily trying to eliminate it. We will probably always have at least a fraction of our childhood vices still in us. Instead, try to funnel it into something good, utilizing it differently to accentuate its potentially positive reciprocal.
Couldn’t sleep at all due to the endo pain but was able to fill eight pages in a random notebook with this before typing it up. Help me sleep. Please.
I have long maintained that many beautiful concepts have deep tragedies to them. I see, acknowledge, and appreciate the oft-ignored nooks and crannies of experience and of being, a strong witness to their darknesses, shadows, and the gems enveloped (or even later produced) by them. I’ve come to believe it’s part of the INFJ type, and perhaps among the reasons we are nicknamed “the Mystic” is because we are likelier to be privvy to the otherwise lost or forgotten gifts of deeper universal significance.
My personal outlook on this has taken a long time to develop. Aspect I share with others that I saw as valuable, beautiful, or forgiveable in them were not in myself. I couldn’t see my victories — small or big — as events or processes worth celebrating but congratulated others for things they themselves reportedly saw as minute gestures. Much of this stemmed from self-loathing, feelings of worthlessness and futility. I had higher expectations for myself than I had for those around me, marginally so. But I criticized my efforts, thoughts, feelings, and conduct in ways completely counterintuitive and ultimately counterproductive to growth. I was angry at myself for imagined attributes I didn’t really have or attributes I associated to others in completely inaccurate ways. I think it’s pretty normal for children and younger adolescents to make faulty connections like this. Normal but unhealthy and sadly, I’d say unhealthy habits, thought processes, self talk, etc are all extremely normal, even in adults.
Having C-PTSD and growing up with abuse from pretty much all directions however, I took those faulty connections to some pretty devastating extremes. (Trigger warning: Disordered thoughts – eating disorder + c-ptsd & casual descriptions of SI behaviors)
Continue reading “Finding strength in your “weakness””
Another apology for a lack of posts. October was so hard on me, and truth be told, positivity is hard to maintain. I’ve been more social than perhaps ever before, which is good, but I’ve also been mega stressed. I have many complaints, but this entry is not going to be a place for those complaints. Instead, I’m going to write about what I’m most grateful for. I feel everything has at least a duality to it. The human experience, when truly lived, is neither singularly joyful or melancholy. It is complex. It is both. It is all. It is neither.
Chronic suicidality makes gratitude hard for me, because every good thing, event, place and/or person is often enough proof to me that I should stay and bear the pain. I don’t resent these, but it makes gratitude itself more complicated. I love, and I am grateful, and I have always loved and always been grateful, but allowing that gratitude to be a positive motivator is something new to me.
- “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” – Walter Winchell ; This is one of my favorite quotes, particularly because of the subtle implications. I don’t believe friendships always last forever, real and true or not. I used to have friendships with people who abused this sentiment but never wholly grasping what it meant–at least to me. To me, “walks in” means “supports;” alternatively, “walks out” means “disowns,” “neglects,” or “betrays.”Real friends are hard to come by, but for me any friend in general is particularly hard to come by. Despite this blog, or tied into this blog I guess, I am in reality a very sad person who is easily triggered. This is something I am working on, both via the blog and life. Books. Classes. Therapy. You know, many methods and mediums. I am difficult for people to handle, because I am intense. That is something that will not change no matter how hard I try. Intensity is tied with me, and so it is tied with my sadness. I have had one friend I have experienced this sentiment with. I am luckier than most in this. Maybe luckier than anyone. Although our friendship is more or less over, my first best friend is one of the most important people in my life. I say “is” because I still and will always love her. She showed me what friendship really is; what platonic love really is. She ran to my house through a blizzard in her pajamas to ensure my safety for the night. She ran to my rescue every time I needed her at such a crucial age. We still talk occasionally, but we were absolute best friends for years. It feels like a lifetime. She defended and protected me. She listened. She reasoned with me. She was my rock, my guardian angel, and my best friend.
My heart bursts with gratitude for her.
- I can eat well and often enough. I have a roof over my head, a pretty safe environment, a loving mother, nice clothes, supplies for creative expression, healthcare, and to sum it up: Enough to live well at this moment.
I have great battles every day, but I’m grateful I do not sleep on a dirty floor or in the streets. Despite financial troubles, I am richer than many and have a lot of support.
- “…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent van Gogh ; I suppose there’s a dark and serious irony here, since the Impressionist painter committed suicide. But he had a beautiful soul from what I know of him and beautiful ideas. And truthfully, in these moments, there are few things more important than these. I am grateful for human expression and creativity.
- My “gray matter” in many matters. I have strong education however informal, I have great creativity, some awesome skill sets, a knack for art, an immense love for the world, and am able to see beauty in small things.
I suffer from mental illnesses that are heavy and complicated and painful. I suffer from chronic suicidality and other severe symptoms that impact my day-to-day living. But yesterday I bought a bag of apples and found one still with a leaf on it. The sun is shining beautifully, and I am not overheated, despite my hyperthyroidism. I am happy. If just in this moment, I am happy. I am hopeful. I have a break from my suicidality. I can breathe. I know what I need to do. I know how to plan to achieve those goals. I am grateful for my flawed, beautiful, and capable mind.
- “When you know in your bones that your body is a sacred gift, you move in the world with an effortless grace. Gratitude and humility rise up spontaneously.” – Debbie Ford
The body I’m in is not limber or ever comfortable. I have days during which I am bedridden and crying out in pain. But it is a vessel to carry me, and I can still–on most days–paint with it, dance with it, and hug with it. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to create, dance, and express affection.
I choose gratitude today.