The Physical Scars

*TRIGGER WARNING* I’m talking about self-harm today, if you are in a sensitive place please stay safe. Skip this post if you need to!*

I have been ashamed of the physical scars that have been left behind from years of self-harm. Some are fainter than others but all are still reminders of miserable, painful moments in my life. Times where I fell to the bottom hoping I would bounce back up like a ball and not lay there on the ground like a rock.

Each scar was created out of desperation for relief from loneliness, suicidal thoughts and heartbreak. In those moments, cutting myself was what I thought would help me.

When I started hurting myself on my legs I got very nervous about wearing shorts and swim suits in the summertime. I worried that someone would see (whether that be a stranger or someone I know) what I had done to myself. Most of the time I never told anyone I had hurt myself, it was my little secret.

Showing my skin meant my secret was out for the world to see. It was kinda of terrifying.

This past summer I read a few perspectives of others who had a similar problem with scars on their bodies. Some of them said, you know it doesn’t matter, wear what you want and if somebody makes a comment then they’re the asshole. That was a good enough explanation for me so I wore shorts all summer.

I braved the world with my legs out and nobody said a damn thing to me.

If this is something you’re struggling with, if you feel super uncomfortable at the thought of people seeing your scars then cover them up for now. I hope that at some point you will be able to let your guard down and show the world your beautiful skin!

Stay strong! –Megan

Curbing Self-Harm Urges

When you’re in one of those intense waves of depression, it can be difficult to think clearly. I’ve struggled with this countless times, there were times where I thought the only way to calm down or feel better was to self-harm.

For seven years I’ve been faced with the decision on whether to cut or not. I have chosen to act on that desire more times than I will ever admit. They are scars I never want to count. Turning this into a positive, I’ve said no many more times than I have said yes.

Coping mechanisms and rational thinking have helped me through this tough journey. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Rubber Bands and Hair Ties

One of the first coping mechanisms I learned about was snapping a hair tie or rubber band wherever I wanted to hurt myself. This really hurts depending on how hard you snap it. It has helped me and of course there are no scars left afterwards which is a plus.

Find a Distraction

Finding something to take your mind off of the urge to self-harm, anything positive or makes you feel better. My most often technique is to play a video on YouTube that I can really pay attention to. I will watch very intently to push the desire to hurt myself back down into my brain.

Sometimes I’ll combine this with knitting, covering up with fuzzy blankets and dabbing essential oil on my wrists to engage more of my senses. I’ve learned the more senses I can engage, the easier it is to distract myself from my own thoughts.

Leave

Wherever you’re at try and leave that place even for a couple minutes to clear your mind. Go to a different part of your house/apartment, go to Target (that place has healing powers), walk around your block or sit in your bathroom for a moment. A change of scenery can sometimes put me in a different state of mind.

Think of Someone You Love

This can be a sensitive topic for someone with mental illness because so often we are told by our depression that there is nobody who loves us. My brain has screamed that at me for so many years that it can be difficult not to believe it.

Let’s push the possibility that depression is right out of the picture; there is someone who deeply cares for you. Think about that person before you hurt yourself. If that person was in the room with you, what would they say? If you showed them the marks, how would they respond?

One of the things that has helped me not resort to self-injury is thinking about my boyfriend. I know he doesn’t want me to do that to myself, it has brought him to tears seeing what I have done. So I think of that moment, I think of him because my actions don’t only affect me, they affect him too.

Well that last part got intense for me. I’m going to write a couple more posts about self-harm that I hope can be encouraging/relatable for anyone reading. I’ve been ashamed to tell anyone that I’ve cut myself on and off for 7 years but right now I feel brave enough to share my experience with others.

Stay strong and I hope you’ll all be alright! –Megan

Feeling Understood

In my last post, I wrote about how difficult it can be to feel misunderstood when you confide in somebody about your mental health situation. It’s painful. I found it difficult to open up to others because of how many people could not understand depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or self harm.

But sometimes people do understand! That is the best feeling when you tell somebody what’s really going on and they don’t call you weird or crazy. Even if they don’t understand what it’s like to experience a mental illness, they are still there as a support system.

Oddly I found support in a former coworker. She knew I had been sad but did not know the extent of my suffering until we had dinner together one night. We were having a delicious Mexican dinner to get us through the final hours of our shifts in the newsroom. I’m not sure how it came up but I told her that I was going to go on antidepressants so she asked if I thought that was the best choice. I told her yes because my depression is severe. Then I said it, “I want to kill myself.”

Tears were streaming down my red cheeks as the waitress is asking if our checks were together or separate. I couldn’t believe I showed my heart to her. What amazed me was that she didn’t run away or stop speaking to me after I confessed that to her. She was the best person to have in my life at that point in time besides my therapist.

We took walks together, we had a sleepover once and I even called her when I could not get my suicidal thoughts to shut up. We talked about random things so I could calm down so I could go to sleep.

I’m so appreciative of her as a friend. We don’t see each other very often anymore since I have a different job now but I look back on those memories and am thankful for all of the times we had together.

I hope you, my lovely reader, have somebody who is there for you. If not, maybe it’s time to try and open up to a safe person in your life.

Stay strong survivors! -Megan

Silencing Suicidal Thoughts

In my last few posts, I’ve been focusing on my journey with struggling with suicidal thoughts. This one I want to make a bit more happy and talk about ways that have helped me to silence those thoughts.

**Just because these things have worked for me does not guarantee they will work for you. This is to give you ideas of what could be helpful for you. We are all different with unique likes and needs.**

Aromatherapy

I never really liked smelly things, they usually gave me a headache. During my time at rock bottom, I was willing to try almost anything to feel better. My therapist suggested essential oils to soothe me when I was anxious or having suicidal thoughts. I went to the health food store and picked up lavender (to help me sleep), peppermint (to relax me when I was anxious) and tangerine (boost my mood).

This shit changed my life! The aromas somehow really helped to calm me down and bring me back to the present moment instead of stuck inside my head. I also became a frequent customer at Bath and Body Works, I got lots of scented body washes to make showering less scary and miserable.

Makeup

Ok ok you’re probably judging me right now but yes, makeup was my escape. I don’t know how it happened but I started watching beauty videos on YouTube, it let me go to a happy place where I didn’t have to worry about anything. I watched video after video after video to silence my thoughts.

A special shoutout to YouTubers KathleenLights, Glam Life Guru and Emilynoel89 for creating amazing content!

Maybe makeup isn’t your thing but finding some sort of hobby can be helpful. Watching those videos lead me to buy makeup and use my face as a canvas for art. I love expressing myself through makeup! To give me something to do, I started an IG  @megandoesmakeupxo.

Harry Potter

I have loved Harry Potter since I was in third grade when my teacher read my class “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” He did different voices for each character!

That book series has the power to pick me up and transport me far away from my day to day problems. When I got depressed in my third year of college I picked up the first book at a used bookstore in Old City Philadelphia.

Those books are still my escape. In the world of Harry Potter I am safe and will always feel safe in that realm even though it isn’t real. When my suicidal thoughts would not shut up, I opened my book and dove in.

I hope some of these things gave you inspiration to help with your suicidal thoughts! Find safe spaces (whether they’re IRL, online or in your head) where you can find solitude from your thoughts. Leave a comment below with your tips on silencing suicidal thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Until next time, survivors! –Megan

2 Years

The moment is still as clear to me as when it happened exactly two years ago when I had my first suicidal thought.

A few days earlier I had sank into a deep depression after a bad breakup. Those days were filled with lots of tears, laying in bed and hugging my cats.

Two years ago I attended an event for my former job and in my ear I heard loud and clear, “kill yourself.” I heard it over and over again. I never had experienced anything like it before.

I was absolutely terrified.

After the event ended I drove home as fast as I could. I called my therapist, who I had only seen once at that point, who did not answer her phone. So I called the suicide crisis hotline and spoke to a really nice woman who encouraged me that I would be alright.

We talked and she helped to calm me down until my therapist returned my phone call.

The rest of the day was a blur. I know I went back to work to write my story then I left.

Those suicidal thoughts flew around in my brain for months until I got on the right antidepressant. Check out my post here about that journey!

Two years later I am still living. Two years ago I could not have envisioned getting to age 25. I could barely see myself getting to the end of each week, thinking long term wasn’t possible for me to do.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the different things I did to soothe myself when the suicidal thoughts were too loud.

Thank you for reading this, sharing this day with someone makes me vulnerable but I want to show others that they are not alone.

Pills and more pills

Making the choice to go on medication for any sort of problem can be huge. Two years ago my therapist suggested I go on antidepressants to help with my overwhelming suicidal thoughts.

At first I did not want to. I thought I would make it through this season and all I needed

was talk therapy to get by. But days turned into weeks and I still was seriously struggling with my depression and anxiety. So I took the plunge to try using medicine to make me feel better.

Guys I’ll be honest, finding the right medicine for me took six long months. I would try a new pill almost once a month and increase my dose until I could not go any higher.

Every time nothing worked. I wouldn’t feel any better and often times I felt nauseous. It was awful.

One of the worst experiences for me was having withdrawal. I had been taking one medicine for probably six weeks and it was not helping so my doctor switched me to the next brand on a list my psychiatrist made for me.

It was possibly two of the worst days of 2017. I had been uncontrollably crying for hours, I couldn’t stop the tears no matter how hard I tried. I felt nauseous, anxious and that I was actually losing my shit. I was absolutely terrified.

I called my boyfriend who had been at home with a cold to come over on a Sunday afternoon. He didn’t quite understand what was happening either but he held me while I cried and watched Star Wars.

Only after speaking to my therapist during the week I found out that I was experiencing withdrawal.

Don’t let my experience scare you or make you doubt that antidepressants can help people. Once I found my right medicine at the right dose, it all worked out. I have been on it for a year and a half and I’m doing pretty good!

I’m sorry this is so long!! I just had a lot to say about the topic of medicine for mental illness. I hope my story helped you to better understand how it can benefit people and give you the strength to go on medicine if that is the right choice for you.

Suicide Prevention Week

Every September I look forward to Suicide Prevention Week. For one week out of the year, the mental health community comes together to discuss the various aspects of suicide. It is a time that we can all talk about a topic that is often swept under the rug and ignored.

Suicide is something that is very close to my heart and is a major part of my mental health journey. I had struggled with severe depression two years ago which manifested into constant suicidal thoughts. Every day for months my brain would say, “Just kill yourself.” I heard it so often that I thought that maybe I should.

What truly helped me was contacting healthcare professionals which was the best choice I could have made. I got myself a therapist, I saw my doctor and eventually saw a psychiatrist. Their support and genuine desire to help me changed the game.

I went to therapy twice a week and had monthly checkups with my doctor to find the right medicine for me. I’ll talk about both of these topics more in a future post.

If you’re reading this and struggling, I have been at rock bottom and I survived. You can live, you can make it through this. I truly believe in you.

If you need to talk to someone please call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. The person on the other end of the line has helped me multiple times. I cannot thank them enough.