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!

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.

Laying In Bed

I think I have come to the conclusion that my PMS is not just regular old PMS. I think that I have PMDD or something because this past week has been absolute hell for me.

I wrote earlier this week about how PMS amplifies my mental illness. This week has been way way way worse than normal. I can’t function at all!

I have been drowning in my depression for days. Today and yesterday I spent almost all day in bed. I haven’t showered since Friday and I have mostly lost my appetite. Today I am not crying every other minute like I was for the last few days so that is one positive thing!

Where I live we had a snow storm (that really wasn’t even that bad, we’ve totally had worse) so it’s been an excuse to stay inside and not do anything.

Today I keep saying, “I’ll get up at noon.” I stay in bed. “I’ll get up at 1.” I’m still in bed. “I’ll get up at 2.” I’m sitting up but I’m still in my bed.

While I’ve been in bed, negative thoughts keep buzzing in my mind. Stuff that I know I shouldn’t be thinking about but they don’t seem to want to leave me.

Thursday I have therapy so I’m going to talk with my therapist about this horrible week I’ve had. I don’t know if she will have any answers with how I can survive my next period but maybe she will have some ideas.

Online when I was looking for what people typically do for PMDD/severe PMS is to put them on birth control (I’m on it) or antidepressants (on that too). So right now I’m feeling that it’s all hopeless. That once a month I’m going to be losing my sanity and damaging my relationships and health.

I am not ok with that at all.

My mental health had been pretty good until Monday. I felt like I was on the top of a hill then pushed down into the fucking ocean to sink to the bottom where I’m wrapped up in seaweed.

Writing this is actually making me feel a little better. I might be able to get out of bed now, I’m not quite sure. I want to take a bubble bath but I can’t seem to find the energy.

Depression really drains me of all my energy. Doing the simplest task, like showering, seems nearly impossible. I hope I can survive this bullshit.

2018 Mental Health Accomplishments

I have come a long way in 2018 in my mental health. Certainly I have my horrible days where I struggle to get out of bed, struggle to focus at work and I use everything in my mental health emergency kit.

*Please don’t take this as some sort of bragging post especially if you have had an extra shit year.*

Thanks to my therapist affirming me, I feel like I can celebrate these moments.

1. Fewer Therapist Sessions — At the beginning of 2018, I saw my therapist once a week. As I continued to feel better, I went down to every other week for a good part of the year. Now I’m seeing her once a month which helps me stay on track and work through whatever is plaguing my mind.

2. Decreased Cutting — It’s been around 300 days since I last cut myself. This is something I have struggled with since 2011. I have done so good, I’m shocked. Sure I have had desires to hurt myself but I haven’t acted on them. It was difficult in the beginning but I hope I can keep this up. I haven’t gone longer than almost a year between cutting myself. Here are some tips about how to curb those urges.

3. Improved Mood — My mood has been pretty consistently good for the past couple months. I’m actually feeling pretty happy! Not every day is perfect, the other morning I struggled to get out of bed and some days anxiety doesn’t lose its grip. Feeling good has helped me realize that it is possible to take a breath above the rough of mental illness.

4. Very Few Anxiety Attacks — I always carry my bottle of Larazapam with me, it’s a medicine that calms me down when I’m having intense anxiety that I can’t shake. This year I think I have only had two anxiety attacks which is pretty good!

5. Decreased Suicidal Thoughts — 2018 is the first year since 2016 that my suicidal thoughts have not completely controlled my mind. I do sometimes have those thoughts but they are few and far between.

I think that’s all that I’ve accomplished. I have started writing this blog which has really helped me out in expressing myself and also relating to others who also have mental health problems.

I hope the last few days of 2018 are halfway decent for you! Stay strong, my readers!!

I’m An Ambivert

Let’s get the definition of an ambivert out of the way. An ambivert is someone who has some qualities of both an introvert and an extrovert, we are sort of a blend of spices.

Sometimes I hear people talk about introverts and extroverts incorrectly, it’s not about whether somebody is social or not, it’s about how one gains their energy. Introverts gain energy by being alone while extroverts gain energy by being with others. Simple.

As a young teenager and as a child I felt more like an introverted individual, I would spend a lot of time alone reading books and listening to music on my CD player or iPod. Classic. After school I would retreat to my room to recharge.

But once I got to high school and college, I loved spending time with my different friend groups. The time we spent together gave me so much energy that when I was alone for too long, I felt totally drained.

I’m 25 now and I have grown into someone who sits somewhere in the middle which was at first a really strange adapting. I had gone from needing to spend time with friends and family to needing my space to keep myself sane.

After I got severely depressed I spent a lot of time alone ruminating on my suicidal thoughts. So any interaction with others was incredibly draining since I already didn’t have very much energy to begin with. I think all of that time curled up in my bed led me to become more introverted than I ever was before.

Sometimes I am energized by being with friends and family while other times I come away feeling absolutely exhausted. When I spend time with my family (that includes my boyfriend) and we are all eating, laughing, joking, I feel energized by that.

A month or so ago I had breakfast with a friend and then went to this art gallery event with him and a friend of his. I was so drained that I had to excuse myself and go home.

I balance somewhere in between and that’s totally fine by me. I enjoy my ambivertness which I am learning to live with each day.

Are any of you out there ambiverts or have had a shift like I have had? Let me know!

Waking Up Empty

If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, you have probably experienced the emptiness that resounds in your chest the moment you wake up. I felt that this morning for the first time in a while.

I forgot how horrible it feels to be hollow once more. For many weeks I only woke up feeling sleepy, ready to go back to sleep instead of getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. This morning I rose, began to stretch then the empty feeling began to settle into my chest.

I have today off so I should be looking forward to everything I get to do (and don’t have to do) today. I have some work for my side gig to do, I’m going shopping, hopefully going to the gym and best of all, I am getting a sauna and massage. My emptiness calls me to forget those positive activities, instead to focus on how depressed I feel.

This is a feeling I hoped wouldn’t touch me until the new year. I deeply hoped that the light inside me could continue to shine brightly. To light me up like a jack-o-lantern, but it seems that my candle was blown out.

I don’t want my depression to ruin the holidays for me. Not this year!

On Christmas 2016 I was remembering that I had been suicidal for 3 months instead of celebrating with my family. The desire to die was so strong even on my favorite holiday. This year, I don’t want that to be the case! I want to be happy spending time with my family, my boyfriend and his family.

This empty feeling may not go away for a while, that’s reality. I know myself and have learned so much through my long journey with mental illness. In time I will be better. In time I will have my energy back and be able to feel good again.

It’s all in time.

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