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!!

When Will It Stop?

I am in this state where it seems that anxiety and depression are reaching their claws around my mind in a slow and dramatic fashion. Each day it all seems to be getting worse.

The negative thoughts, the inescapable self doubt and physical strain on my body is becoming more frequent. I’m getting to the point where I feel that I’m going to have a depressive episode to kick off 2019.

Who doesn’t love those? -_-

I am a professional ruminator. By that I mean during my low points I have the same few thoughts on repeat. Right now those thoughts are starting.

I’m reading so deeply into every single word and action of the people around me. I am reading everything as signs that they don’t really want to be speaking to me. That they wish I would go away and leave them the hell alone.

I keep thinking that they are sick of me being around. That they wish they never began speaking to me in the first place! That they wish they never started a relationship or friendship with me.

My therapist told me yesterday that just because I have a thought, doesn’t necessarily make it true. She said, “Pretend these thoughts are leaves flowing down a stream. Watch them pass by, don’t pick them up and hold on to them.”

My reply to that was, “I can’t not pick them up! I have a little basket and I collect those leaves. ”

Do you, my beautiful readers, ever feel this way? What do you do to stop ruminating thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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.

Oh the Guilt!

I hate feeling guilty and shameful. The other day I posted about guilt and right now, I’m having one of those moments where I feel so guilty that I want to curl into a ball so tightly that I disappear.

Have you ever felt that way?

It’s a cycle for me with guilt and mental illness. My anxiety will tell me that nobody loves me, that I’m stupid or that I’m a bother to everyone around me. Those thoughts are so loud in my head, it’s hard not to hear them. When I say them out loud or assume someone actually feels that way, I end up feeling guilty for saying my anxious thoughts out loud because it makes the person I said them to upset.

I say, “You don’t like spending time with me, do you?” Then that person gets frustrated, they’re blindsided by that comment and why I would say something like that in the first place. For me, that question makes sense because I have been hearing it for years.

My anxious statements make me immediately feel guilty. I tell myself that I’m a bad girlfriend/friend/sister/daughter, I’m a person that nobody wants to be around. I wish that I could vanish into a small space where nobody can find me. A place I can hide until the guilt subsides and I can breathe again.

I’m going through this right now so the emotions are really fresh. I feel ashamed when I let my anxiety speak because I know I should not let it have a voice. From my perspective, those anxious thoughts ring in my ears so loudly that I forget that nobody else can hear them. I forget that maybe what my mind tells me isn’t actually true.

What do you do when you’re feeling incredibly guilty about what your mental illness makes you do?

I hope that you guys will 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