The Why (updated 12 May, 2018)

Update 18/12/16 20:03: My friend is alive and okay. ūüôā

It is 02:14. I cannot sleep. There is noise in my head and at my fingertips. Voices in different tongues, languages that cannot speak of happiness, where “happiness” has no dictionary wedge, no page, no meaning. I may have lost a friend tonight. So this will be about things I should have told him.

For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know that I used to suffer from chronic suicidality. I used to tell my therapists I have four “moods:” 1. mildly suicidal, 2. moderately suicidal, 3. severely suicidal, and 4. urgently suicidal. #4 is hospitalization. #2 was the most typical on an average day until April 2016.

Even so, every day, I have to make the choice to survive. If you’re familiar with mental illness (whether from chronic pain, trauma, both, or otherwise), this may ring too true. I say “too” because this is a reality many of us must brace ourselves for each night we fall asleep. We have to say, “If I wake up tomorrow, I must continue the fight.” How hard it is to sleep when that echoes in you! It is even harder to get out of bed and face the day when you’re disarmed for the battle.

That’s why the word “why” and its answer are so important.

What is purpose?

Continue reading “The Why (updated 12 May, 2018)”

Bullying vs what people actually go through in school

First, let me state:

I have never liked the term “bullying” when it comes to a student’s peers. It diminishes the effect of their abuse and harassment. There are definitely an infinite amount of “grades” (as in severities) when it comes to “bullying,” but many of these “grades” are enough to damage a person. I understand we are all responsible for our own actions, but even in CBT the general consensus is that you can control your thoughts and invariably take charge with your feelings, but feelings themselves are natural and often do what they want.

Continue reading “Bullying vs what people actually go through in school”

The importance of a “real” bucket list

As a disclaimer, I’m going to iterate: There is no one thing that will help everybody, and one individual thing won’t save your life. But this is something that has helped me, something that is vital to me, and maybe something that will help you as well.

Continue reading “The importance of a “real” bucket list”

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.

For the Qs: Why? Why me? Why this?

Pain at its roots is neither test nor punishment. It is trial we are guaranteed simply by existing. Nothing greater than ourselves doles it out. Nothing greater than ourselves cares if we overcome it–so we must care ourselves if we do.

It varies by degrees and duration. It’s a war sometimes; an onslaught. Sometimes it’s an inconvenience. Sometimes it’s something in between and it exists for no other reason than “we exist.” We live. It is not the price of living, as pain in itself bears its own independent value. It just “is.” It exists with¬†us. It offers opportunity, change, growth, and new perspectives. That alone makes us better than our suicidal thinking and our suicidal urges. Because there’s always a part of our pain that challenges us to make ourselves better. We just have to find it.

The puzzle is not pain. We may always be in pain while we live, discrete pain or concrete or conspicuous or not. The puzzle is the reaction. The puzzle is the loss and gain and how the pain is handled. Stop asking yourself, “Why?” and “Why me?” and “Why this?” There is no good reason except that it is proof we are alive. Don’t think too much on it–for, really, what better reason would there be than that?

Questions that are important to ask, questions with more productive and concrete answers, are as follows:

1. What can my pain teach me?

2. How can I make peace with my pain? and

3. How can my pain help me grow?

This is how healing begins.

Love always,

V.

For the Q: What are my coping skills?

When I was a kid and growing up, I often seemed to almost drown in this question. They’ll ask you in therapy or hospitals, “What are your coping skills?” “How do you cope?” and for me, the answers were ambiguous and nearly unreachable.

“I write,” I’d say, “but it hurts to write. I love art, but art hurts.”

I focused on this one subject so much: Something I value above most other things–creative expression–and how much it hurts to commit to but how¬†much it hurts¬†not¬†to. Art and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. It has saved a lot of people, but truthfully it has only complicated and added weight to my life. It’s okay. I love it. And I feel great sacrifice often comes¬†with great commitments.

So what¬†are¬†my coping skills? Some hospitals will give you print-outs of suggestions that I often found sometimes silly or counterintuitive–holding ice cubes in your hand or snapping rubber bands against your wrist, (which in itself is still self-harm.) I’ve known from an early age that different things work for different people, but nothing seemed to work at me.

I cried a lot. I still cry a lot. Many times it’s worse than crying. It’s that shrieking that accompanies a lot of internal violence and darkness, throwing oneself at a wall and the floor. But crying doesn’t help much, either. In fact it literally¬†physically¬†hurts and ties me too tightly with my pain.

But I have become much more self aware since I was 7, 12, 15, et cetera and have realized I’ve had a really high standard for coping skills. Many people, even professionals, like to act as if coping skills are “it.” They’re “survival things;” “things that¬†make you feel better.” I didn’t really understand this concept, because I felt nothing really helped and that I’d just have to wade the pain out.

Then I started looking at three major elements:

1.) What are my instinctual responses to negative feelings and/or situations and why?
2.) What is something healthful I should try? and probably most helpfully:
3.) Is what I’m doing now¬†something that will¬†bring¬†negative repercussions?

I struggled with self-hatred for a long time and still sometimes do–or, nowadays, low self-worth I guess. Self-hatred is something I feel I had to absolutely shut down some years ago, and I’ve worked really hard to do that. But, speaking of it then, many of my urges to were to act on negative or harmful behaviors that more often than not had negative consequences and added more stress. E.g. although self-harm made me feel calmer, it was something I was obligated to report to my doctor or my mother would see it or I’d have to wear long sleeves in summer¬†to cover it up or et cetera, and truthfully, just pragmatically, it was more trouble than it was worth.

Let’s look at #2 now. We’ve more or less covered #1 and #3, so two is, again: “What is something healthful I should¬†try?” Trying is a key thing in not just therapy but progress and development. It’s important–always–to keep going and to keep trying. If something doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. Move on. Go to something new, something healthful and helpful. I prefer coping skills that work things “out.” They’re rare. I don’t count “venting” because honestly, for me, talking about the thing directly sometimes stresses me out further. And as I’ve said, writing’s not tremendously healthy for me in these situations.

There is something about art I didn’t factor in though–until I tried painting with an OSP (Open Studio Process) therapist. More on the process itself later, but painting was something I had never truly done much of. But when I tried it–awesome.¬†I was 19 and in this therapy session, I was basically asked to use any colors I felt I “jived” with and paint anything I “felt” like painting. OSP helped me to be non-critical of myself and considering it is¬†not¬†a major art of mine, I quickly unlearned the pressure to be good. I bought some acrylic paints, cheap canvasses, cheap brushes, and then realized how¬†freeing¬†it was to paint¬†with my hands.¬†I further connected to the canvas and to my “inner eye” and now in hard times, it is my best coping skill. I can use it to express the pain, to work some of it out. It’s creative, which is something I appreciate and flourish with. So it’s great. And things that have come into play also have been warm showers, although with body image and PTSD that has taken a while to develop into a coping skill;¬†taking walks; adding things to a “beautiful things” list which I suppose is my equivalent of a gratitude journal, etc.

Many of the people I have talked to in the past have gone right along with my old mindset and have said, “Well, nothing works.” But I’ve learned:¬†something’s¬†gotta work.¬†Something.¬†And it doesn’t always have to carry negativity with it. Something positive has¬†got to¬†work. But you have to keep trying and thinking outside the box. With depression, it’s something that is often very hard to do. But you’ll find something if you keep trying. It’s not as unreachable as you might think it is!