I Promised a Positive Post

In my last post I wrote about how social media and celebrities make me feel insecure about myself. I promised you guys a positive post so here it is!

Since the last post was about body image, I want to write about that again.

For most of my life I hated the way that I looked. I would compare myself to my peers and the girls I saw in magazines because I never looked like them.

I have bright, curly, red hair and am pale with freckles primarily on my arms. I almost never saw other girls with red curly hair so it made me feel like I was the only one like this. I also started puberty earlier than a lot of my peers so my body had curves for days and massive boobs in 8th grade which made me feel so awkward.

It took me many, many, many years to create the person I wanted to look like. I grew out my hair which my mom had cut short when I was a kid, I started wearing makeup and tried hard to lose weight (which didn’t happen until I was 23).

I hated the way that I looked for so long that it crushed my self-confidence. I had little faith in myself because I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t get the attention from boys that some of my friends got which made me jealous.

I hate to give my ex-boyfriend credit for anything (this guy is trash but I’ll give him this one positive) but he helped me feel more confident in myself. I had never been complimented the way he complimented me. It helped to open my eyes to see that I am a beautiful person.

Of course I still struggle with being positive about my body but I have more good days than bad days now at the age of 26. Going to therapy has helped a lot too because if your mind isn’t in the right place, you can’t see the goodness on the inside or outside. My therapist helped me to see my own beauty.

My confidence comes from inside myself. I no longer need the external compliments from others because I already know that I am a beautiful human.

Have you struggled with body image issues? If so, have you been able to overcome them? How did you do that or how do you hope to accomplish that?

Speaking Up is Hard

This post is inspired by autumnskiesblog’s post on The Bipolar Writer. She wrote about how it is difficult for her to speak when somebody asks her a question or for her input. I relate to this so much so I wanted to share my experience too.

All throughout school I would almost never raise my hand to answer a question. Getting called on out of the blue was a fate as bad as getting yelled at by the teacher. Teachers felt like they had to call on me because I rarely raised my hand. I either didn’t have anything to say or I was nervous that my answer was wrong.

In college it was the same. One of my professors actually confronted me about it. Her name was Dr. Simcox, very smart and serious woman, who wondered why I never contributed in class. I flat out told her the truth.

I said, “I don’t have anything to say and I don’t want to get the answer wrong.”

I have always been afraid of sounding stupid or saying the wrong thing in front of a lot of people. Oddly enough I didn’t have those worries when I performed minor roles in the plays in high school.

Those fears have stayed with me all of my life. The fear of speaking up (even if it would mean something positive could happen for myself) has held me back. I often leave a situation regretting that I didn’t say something that I wanted to.

I’ve worked with my therapist to try to speak up in meetings at work or in general conversations with other humans. The conversations with my cats go very differently.

Yesterday I found the courage to speak up in a meeting. I don’t know where it came from but I opened my mouth and gave my opinion. My idea was shot down but I think that was good practice to realize that if I’m wrong about something, I can survive it.

Seeing My Past

Monday was the first time it was warm enough to be wearing shorts this year where I live in America. It is always exciting when it starts to feel like spring especially when it is around my birthday (which is this Saturday)!

I was sitting in my boyfriend’s car while he went to get us pizza for dinner. I looked down at my legs which were covered in scars. Sadly they have not faded like I hoped that they would.

*Before you go any further please check yourself because I’m going to talk about self-harm. If you are not in the place to read something like this please check out a different post of mine! Like this or this.*

They’re scars from 2016 when I was really struggling with self-harm during my episode of severe depression. During that time I didn’t care what my body looked like, I wanted the relief that cutting brought to me at my lowest point.

I don’t regret doing what I did to myself during those horrible months. I regret other times that I have self-harmed but not then.

“But Megan why?” you might ask.

A great question! I was having constant suicidal thoughts, wasn’t eating and wanted all of the pain I was in to end. My mind told me that the only way for me to escape my suicidal thoughts was to end my life.  So instead of doing that, I cut myself.

I had been struggling with self-harm for 5 years at that point so this negative coping skill was one that I was very familiar with.

I’m not encouraging anybody to self-harm as a way to cope with mental illness. But as I reflect back on that time in my life, I give myself a pass. I wasn’t myself, my mind wasn’t functioning properly at all.

Even though I am left with the scars on my body, I forgive myself for it all.

I don’t think forgiveness is spoken about much among people who struggle with self-harm. It really should be though! We have to forgive ourselves for what we did when we weren’t feeling mentally well. We forgive then try to find a different coping skill next time.

I still have scars from when I began cutting at 18 so I know these will not fade for a long time. I have to accept my past, love myself despite my challenges and be confident even though my past pain is carved onto my body.

If you struggle with self-harm, have you forgiven yourself? If not, what’s holding you back? Leave me a comment please!

Isolation vs Introversion

Is there a clear line between someone who is introverted and someone who is choosing to isolate themselves? When does “needing alone time to recharge” go from something normal to the extreme of isolation?

I feel that I have become a routine isolationist of sorts. By that I mean that for so long, especially during some very low times in the last few years, I didn’t want to be around most people because I was so deeply depressed. I had zero energy to spend on others because I used it all up trying to get by day to day. I needed that energy for basics functions as well as being able to work a full-time and part-time job.

So being alone became a routine. I would cancel on people, I would keep my free time open so I could truly rest.

Right now (knock on wood) my mental health is in pretty good condition. Things are going well at the moment so I hope that things stay that way for a while.

Since my mental health is fine, why can’t I break out of my isolationist routine?

Maybe it’s because I don’t have any close friends in my life. Maybe I’m turning into a hermit. Maybe I’ve lost my ability to be social.

I had the opportunity today to have lunch with a friend but canceled. I got a flat tire today so I said I couldn’t do lunch because of that even though my tire is fixed. I totally could have gone, but I chose not to.

My therapist encourages me to make friends and go out and do things but I find it very challenging to do when my comfort zone is so cozy.

A Burden

I don’t know if I will ever feel like an important person. Not important as in somebody with influence or fame. I mean someone whose purpose is a meaningful one, someone who matters.

I have felt this way for most of my life so it’s ingrained in my mind.

Other people I can see are important. Others do good in the world and make things better whether for people, animals or the environment. I see people make an impact that I don’t think I ever will be able to do.

I bring down the mood. I make those closest to me sad. I only add problems and hurdles into the lives of those around me.

I feel like a prickly sea urchin that nobody wants to touch. That my mental illness makes me undesirable. That it creates more issues than anything else. That it has made me rotten from the inside out.

I am a burden.

I take up space.

I don’t think anybody likes me.

The only person who actually loves me is my mom. Which of course she does, she’s my mom! She has to love me.

I think about myself in all aspects of life and how if I wasn’t there, there would be room for somebody better.

Like at work, if I quit that would make room for somebody with much more talent than me. In my relationship, he could find somebody 100 times better than me in an instant. It wouldn’t take much looking to do either of those tasks.

Same goes for being a daughter, friend and sister too.

I’m not perfect at all but I wish that I was. I wish I could write beautiful words and create stunning graphics at work. I wish I had no issues, triggers or problems to put on the shoulders of my boyfriend and family.

I’m not considering ending my life so don’t worry about that. I have that sorted out for the most part (thank you therapy and medicine!).

Is this a big shit session directed at myself? Absolutely.

Sorry this was so long and incredibly negative. I really needed to get this off my chest. I don’t have therapy until Thursday so I decided to toss my thoughts up on here.

Self-Harm by Restricting Food

Self-harm is not limited to cutting, burning, biting, scratching, etc. your skin. In a recent post I saw on The Mighty (a great community for people with mental illness, disabilities and chronic health issues) about how self-harm goes beyond those things.

After reading that (which now I can’t find it anywhere so I can’t even link it for you guys), I realized how many of the things I was doing the author classified as self-harm. Two that I think off the top of my head were restricting food and not acclimating to temperature changes.

Food Restriction

This has been a struggle for me for a few years now. Especially when I’m anxious my stomach gets so tense that I feel like I can’t eat. When I’m like that I can only eat a very small amount of food or I will feel sick.

And even if my anxiety isn’t making my stomach tense but I’m still anxious, sometimes I just don’t want to eat despite my stomach growling. This is happening today. I am feeling anxious and depressed today so I don’t want to have anything to eat. I’m quite hungry but I don’t want to take a single bite.

Am I punishing myself? Sort of.

Is this a healthy thing? Not really.

Being Too Cold

I really didn’t realize that this was a form of self-harm. So what I mean is that if I’m cold, I won’t do anything about it as a sort of punishment to myself. I don’t usually do this as often with being hot because I hate being too hot.

In the winter my office is usually quite cold (the building was built in 1929 what can you do?) and I have a space heater to help but I don’t often use it. Instead I’ll just be cold. I’ll suffer through it just because I can.

This is a strange one to explain because I don’t entirely understand my reasoning for it.

Do you have any trouble with restricting food or letting yourself suffer by being too cold/hot?

I am experiencing PMDD right now which makes me feel every emotion all at the same time. So there’s a lot going on in my head right now so it’s very hard to get through this time of the month. Right now it feels like my swimming upstream in a river of peanut butter.

A Letter to My Struggling Self

I am very inspired by Hunting Happiness who did this post on the Bipolar Writer Blog. She called it “A Letter to Myself on the Days I Feel I’m About to Drown.” I love that title and her idea to write up a letter to encourage herself when she’s struggling with her mental illness.

So I want to do the same! Sometimes the most encouraging person is yourself when you are feeling depressed or anxious.

Dear Megan,

Are you alright? Whatever horrible thoughts you’ve been ruminating on, press pause for a moment to read what I have to tell you.

Remember what your therapist said? Not every thought your brain generates is a fact. Your brain loves to lie and trick you, it loves to kick you when you’re down. It sucks to say but you can’t always believe your mind.

Because I am you, I know the dark thoughts that are buzzing around in your mind. Thoughts you’ve been battling since you were little. Just because you’ve been hearing them forever doesn’t mean that they hold any amount of truth.

Worthless? You’re absolutely worthy of existing. Everybody hates you? Also not true. Think about how much your mom, brother, dad, boyfriend and grandmother care about you. They would be deeply upset if you weren’t here.

Your writing has impacted so many people, even those who you don’t know! You have been able to positively impact other people’s lives with your words. Nobody else could have written those stories like you.

Your experiences matter. Your perspective is needed.

I love you and so do all of the important people in your life!

Love,
Megan

P.S. Pet your cats, watch “My Roommate is a Cat” and stretch.