A Message To Demi Lovato.

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While my own mental health struggles have been going on, things with Demi Lovato have been going down as well. As someone who also suffers from mental illness,  I know how hard and exhausting the fight can be, and I felt compelled to address some of the negativity I have been seeing surrounding this.

First off, I want to say that Demi Lovato is kick ass. She has battled with mental health since she was a young child. While it may be easy for people to stand there and make comments about how “disappointing” she is, or how she needs to be a “better role model” – unless you’ve been through it, you have no idea. And even then, everyone’s battle is unique, and we can neve really understand anyone else’s. What I do know is that battling mental illness is exhausting. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since your last relapse, or how long you’ve been struggling, it never gets easier. You get better at handling it and you learn new tools to manage it, but eventually it wears you down. We all have slip ups. Look at me. In a year and a half I’ve been in hospital six times. I’ve overdosed more than I can count. I’ve given up self-harming so many time I can’t even remember, and then fallen straight back into bad habits.

One thing that gets me about this world is how negative we are to others. That negativity gets us no where. All it does is spawn hate and sadness. Why not, instead of throwing hate out into the universe, we show love and compassion and understanding? People who are sick do not need condemnation. They need support.

And so I want to write this little message to Demi. Even though I know it will probably never get to her, I hope that whoever reads it will stop and think just for a moment about how too they can show love and compassion to someone in their life who really needs it. Believe it, it really does make all the difference.

Demi, I’m so sorry to hear what you have gone through. I know what struggling feels like. I’ve been there myself. But you have overcome stumbles like this before, and I know you will overcome it again this time. You are beautiful and compassionate and radiate love, and your friends and family and fans see this. Not for one second have you disappointed anyone. Your courage and your openness with fighting mental illness is what makes you a role model – you show young people all over the world what it looks like to fall and get back up again. I hope you take as much time as you need to recover. We’ll all be thinking of you on while you do, and we’ll all still be here when you’re ready.

Life Update.

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Trigger warning for this post.

The last few months I have let my blog slide. I could contribute it to a number of things – returning to work after my last hospital stint, starting a new postgrad course at Uni, just general life business. But the truth is, the lack of blogging is mostly because of the downward spiral my mental health has taken. I have wanted to blog about it, to get it out and try to process it, but each time I try my fingers seize up and a million more pressing things to do fill my head. But for some reason, after taking double my normal dosage of Seroquel, I’m buzzing and my fingers are itching to type. I don’t know where to start; choosing a place to start is always the hardest. So I’m just going to let me fingers flow freely and see where they decide to take me; to take us.

You may remember I had my second psych hospital stay in May/June this year. It was my fifth overall in the last year, and my longest at a month. When I left, I felt amazing. I didn’t feel like I was held together by sticky tape, but rather, properly stitched together just like people are meant to be. My head wasn’t foggy, but completely clear. My anxiety was in check, simmering beneath the surface where I could manage it. It was the best I could remember feeling in a long time. I was excited to go back to work. I’d gotten back into painting. We welcomed a new puppy to the family. I was determined to put in effort with my friends. And I had an awesome breakthrough with my Psychologist looking at structural dissociation. There were some tough things – issues returning to work and some arguing with my partner – but that was to be expected and I worked through it and I was doing it – I was ACTUALLY managing life.

I can’t pinpoint the moment it changed no matter how much I try to. But suddenly the urge to overdose was back in my head. At first it was a hum I could easily tune out. It became louder and louder, though. A hum. A steady beat. And then it was full blast. All the time. Overdose. Overdose. Overdosing will fix this. You’re stressed. You can’t handle this. Overdose. Why are you even trying. You know what you need to do. Overdose. Overdose. Overdose. Stop kidding yourself. Overdose. I fought it. I talked to my Psychologist, my Psychiatrist, my Community Mental Health Worker, Lifeline’s online chat, Mental Triage Crisis Hotline. But soon my mindset changed – I went from fighting it to waiting for the right moment to do it.

A fight with my partner gave me that opportunity I’d been waiting for. We got into a huge argument one night. At first it was the same as usual – crying, screaming, him becoming frustrated. And then he said words he says all the time when I push and push. “I’m done. I’m done with us.” Normally this would make me cry and scream more, however this time a wave of relief washed over me. It was my moment. I spewed out horrible words over and over again – “Good. I’m done, too. I hate you. Get out of my room. Get out of my house.” until he left to sleep in our guest room. And then, without a second thought, I proceeded to take a whole bottle of Ativan, along with Seroquel and Diazepam. I don’t know what my next plans would have been, but Mental Health Triage had sent an ambulance to our house after an earlier conversation in which I failed to call them back. They arrived as I took the last diazepam. I remember leaving with them on that Tuesday night, and then nothing.

I woke up on Thursday morning in hospital. I was completely out of it and repeatedly asked if I could go home. In my mind a nurse told me yes, although I don’t know reliable this is. This is the part that gets really scary for me. I completely disassociated from myself for what followed; I was there but I was only watching. I had no control. I got dressed, proceeded to walk to the shops across from the hospital, and downed around 80 Panadol in one quick motion. My partner turned up (I had called him and told him I was catching a bus home, and he immediately knew I wasn’t okay) and dragged me back to the emergency room. I remember only faintly talking to a doctor before I was out. Apparently it was scary. I was given a breathing tube and put in an induced coma. Doctors told my partner they didn’t know how I was going to wake up and if I would be okay. I don’t remember any of this, of course, I just remember waking up the next day. I guess I should fine this scary; my worst overdose and a definite life and death moment, my paracetamol levels thousands what they should have been. But I don’t. Not at all. Part of me feels detached from it; like it wasn’t me. But deep down I can feel part of me was there. When I overdose it’s usually to “escape”, not to kill myself. But with this overdose it feels different. That deep, down part of me thinks that maybe this was the first time I actually wanted to die.

Following all of this I’m, of course, back in the Psychiatric Hospital I’m becoming a regular at for what I’m estimating must be my sixth stay. My Psychiatrist and I made a treatment plan for a two week stay which I committed to. Except I don’t think I really have. That’s because the suicidal thoughts are stronger than ever. They never leave my mind. I make lists of why I should kill myself. I research and write down the lethal doses of different medications. I make different suicide plans and plan them out to a t. It’s bad. I manage to keep this from her until Friday, where I spent the night with my nurse alternating between hysterical tears about how I can’t do it anymore, calm announcements of how I was telling my psychiatrist at my appointment the next morning that I was leaving and going to kill myself, and then giddy smiles about how relieved I felt about dying and how excited I was. Play. Rewind. Repeat. The next day my Psychiatrist removed my accompanied leave rights and upped my medications, and when I told her I wanted to go home she shut the conversation down immediately by telling me if I took one step from the hospital the police would be bringing me back.

I have spent the remainder of the weekend sleeping. I get up, take my morning medication along with PRN that knocks me out, wake up, skip lunch, take another dose of PRN that knocks me out again, get woken by a nurse for dinner, then take more PRN to knock myself out before bed where my night meds knock me out for the fourth time. I just don’t want to think or feel at the moment; it’s all too confusing. One moment I’m thinking about the upcoming Uni assignment I have due and making plans for when I get home, and the next I’m reminding myself that I need to kill myself and I’m back to noting out my clear and precise suicide plans.

Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken keeps coming into my head as I sit here tonight typing this. I feel as though I’m standing in front of two paths myself – one where I drag myself up and try and again, and one where I admit that I’m just too tired to keep doing this anymore, and end it. Because it’s true – I am so, so tired of this fight. But it also feels like I’m not the one who gets to make this choice; at the moment I feel as though I’m at the mercy of my brain and what it wants to do. It might be my brain, but I feel so disconnected from it. I have no control over it. It does and will do what it wants.

And I think that’s what scariest of all.

 

 

Restlessness.

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Tonight I feel sad. I can’t pinpoint an exact reason as to why, but it’s a sadness that aches. I tried to sleep it away but that hasn’t helped. I tried to distract it away and neither has that. It’s the kind of sadness that makes me feel lethargic and restless all at the same time.

So, with sleeping and distracting not working, I’ve turned to blogging. At first I had no idea what I wanted to write about. There were so many things I COULD write about, but none we’re grabbing me tonight. So I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, and that was where I reconnected with Maya Angelou. I’m sure most of you know Maya Angelou, but for those that don’t she was an American Poet and Activist amongst other things. I love Maya Angelou – her books, her poems, her philosophy on life. As I scrolled through Pinterest reading her words one theme stuck out to me – the theme of doing more. Not being content to be idle and quiet, but to help others and show compassion and grow as a person.

My partner often complains that I’m never content. As soon as I get one thing I want the next – whether it be clothing, house decor, an activity or an interest. I’m never happy. And he’s right. I’m not. The restlessness I feel tonight is not new to me, I’m just struggling with it more than usual. I’m not sure if it’s a BPD thing (the lack of sense of self, etc.) but I can’t remember the last time I felt content. It’s impossible for me to do one thing at once. I can’t just sit and watch a movie, I can’t just read a book, I can’t just cuddle with my partner. I always have to be doing two or three or even more things at once. My brain just won’t settle. Maybe that’s why I find Mindfulness so God damn awful and difficult.

Just like I can’t find contentment day-to-day, I’m struggling to find contentment in life. I always feel like I’m not doing enough. Not enough in my job, not enough for those around me that need help and compassion and just not enough with my life. It’s a constant itch that tells me I should be – no, HAVE to – be doing more with my life. Making more of an impact, making more of a change. It’s like a desperation to leave some mark on this world so I don’t feel as if my whole existence is just a complete waste, bogged down with depression and mental illness. Like Maya Angelou’s words above, I don’t feel content with merely surviving – I want to thrive, to help, to make change.

Unfortunately finding the motivation to make this change is pretty fucking difficult when depression means you sometimes don’t even have the motivation to get up in the morning. And so the cycle of restlessness continues. Of course Maya Angelou also writes about self-loving and knowing you are enough. Maybe if I could focus on this more I could shake this restless, this lack of contentment with life.

 I’m hoping that one day I can come out on top of mental illness and put to positive use the compassion and understanding it has already taught me. Until then, it’s just a matter of day-to-day and trying to find contentment in the small things, which is something I am still yet to master. Does anyone else struggle with this sense of restlessness? That you need to be doing more than you’re doing and every second you’re not you’re wasting the world’s time? I’d love to hear from you if you, and how you manage it. Until then I will take this learning curve that having a mental illness is and, hopefully, continue to learn and grow so that one day I can find the contentment I’m searching for.

Hello Anxiety, How You Doin?

Tonight I had a late night anxiety attack. I seemed to be coasting along okay, managing today, and then suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, pops up my dear old friend Anxiety. For anyone else that knows him you’d know how excited I was for his visit (and yes Anxiety is a he because generally guys suck soooo…).

Cue the lump in the throat, racing heart, shaking hands, pacing, complete loss of concentration and zigzagging thoughts – all the usual anxiety attack symptoms.

And then I was bawling my eyes out. Sometimes it was for totally logical reasons such as current stressors I have in my life. Other times the reasons were not so logical. For example, I spent a good 30 minutes reading the profiles of dogs up for adoption. I cried for the unloved and homeless dogs, I cried at how precious dogs are and what they bring to our lives, I cried for how short their time is in comparison to ours and the unjustness of this. Yep, it went there. In my defence it was midnight. Midnight is always when emotional shit goes down.

I’ve taken medication to help and I’m trying to ride this out and get some sleep. Here’s to hoping I wake up tomorrow as bright as a daisy. Or, if I’m being realistic, at least bright enough to roll out of bed. Gotta keep this shit real, after all.

Veni Vidi Amavi.

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The first time I saw this quote I instantly fell in love with it. Everyone is familiar with the more popular words spoken by Julius Caesar – Veni Vidi Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. But the idea of loving instead of conquering is something I’m much more open to exploring.

Originally I saw this quote only in relation to the world. There is so much hate, violence, prejudice, racism, sexism and homophobia around us all the time. If we approached it with the idea to love the differences and diversity amongst people, instead of wanting to “conquer” what we don’t know, think of how different the world would be. How much better this world would be.

But lately, as I work with my psychiatrist on improving my self-esteem, I’ve begun to connect with this quote on another level; a more personal one. I’m extremely outspoken on my belief for equality for everyone in this world – put me in a room with my parents who share very different views for longer than two minutes and I guarantee I will have begun a perpetual rant on my feelings about this topic within this timeframe.

My job as a special educator means I work from 9-5, five days a week, to remove boundaries and stereotypes and make school a loving, open and inclusive environment for my clients.

However when it comes to me, I don’t share this view. While I openly voice the need for the world to be loving and inclusive to everyone despite their differences, I hate myself for who I am. I hate the way I look. I hate my body. I hate my personality. I think I’m useless and there is nothing I’m good at. I question why anyone in the world would want to be my friend, let alone engage in a conversation with me. I nitpick physical attributes right down to hating the shape my fingernails grow in. Outside of work I hide my self-harm scars even when I don’t have to, simply because I’m ashamed of them. Very few people know I have multiple mental illnesses because I don’t want to be seen as less capable or “crazy”. I preach to other people about loving others and their differences, yet I hate or hide what makes me unique.

I would love to be able to say this realisation has now solved all my self-esteem problems and I’m suddenly the most confident person in the world. Of course it hasn’t; improving self-esteem doesn’t work that way and it will be a long, long, long journey for me (emphasis on the long). However it’s has given me a new way to reflect on self-esteem and self-love – the idea of seeing you for who you are and loving that.

And it’s made one of my favourite quotes even more special to me.