September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

My Healing Journey

At the beginning of the year my number one goal was for me to work on healing myself from the inside out. I had put my own inner healing on hold for a long time. I had pushed down the most painful memories of my childhood in hopes I would never have to think about them again. Over these last eight months more and more old wounds have been resurfacing. Old wounds that I forgot were even there were resurfacing. This was finally my time to work on healing myself.

 

I grew up in an abusive household facing abuse from my mother on a daily basis. I suffered from this abuse from a very young age up until my early adulthood. I suffered from physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. The most damaging towards me was the psychological abuse.

 

Growing up I always knew there was something “off” about my mom because of the way she treated me. I was the oldest child and I guess my mom figured she could take out all her aggression on me. My brother was extremely lucky because my mom treated him completely opposite of how she treated me.

 

A month ago I read a book about healing from Narcissistic abuse. It opened up my eyes to what narcissistic abuse is all about and it confirmed for me that it was the abuse I suffered from growing up. It confirmed my theory that my mom was a narcissist and the symptoms & actions described fit my mom perfectly.

 

My entire life I could never fully be myself. My mom was the one who called all of the shots during my childhood. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do, if she didn’t like it then I couldn’t do it. It was like my mom was trying to live out her life through me. I wanted to play piano and my mom hated that, she threw away my piano books because she didn’t want me to play it. I wanted to do gymnastics, but she told me no & convinced me that I was never good enough to do it in the first place. She hated me having friends and never let me hang out with my friends. This occurred throughout my entire childhood.

 

She terrorized me, manipulated me, and controlled me my entire life. This book opened up my eyes to how abusive a narcissist can be and how evil they can be.

My mom caused me immense pain growing up. She told me things no child or person should ever have to hear especially from your own mother. I was screamed at so many times. She told me lies like that she didn’t want me born, she wished she aborted me when she had the chance, no one in my family likes me, I’m a burden, I have no friends, I’m fat, I’m not pretty, and I’m not good enough. She RARELY told me she loved me & meant it.

 

Now that I’ve reached adulthood and have started my own healing, I feel like I’m starting to find myself all over again. My mom never let me express who I was so I was always fitting into the mold she wanted. I finally feel like I’m starting to find my own identity and who I truly am as a person.

 

At first I felt like I was going through an identity crisis because I didn’t know who I was as a person at first. It’s forced me to dig deep inwards to get in touch with my true authentic self. I’m still learning who I truly am on a daily basis. I’m starting to finally feel free again since I no longer have to conform to what she had led me to believe my entire life.

No Longer Hiding my Emotions

Over the years I’ve become extremely good at hiding my emotions from others.

I grew up with the belief that sadness & tears made me weak so I did my best to never cry in front of people.

I believed that my problems didn’t matter because out there in the world there was someone else with bigger problems than mine.

I believed that people wouldn’t care about what I was going through or that I would be considered a burden.

These beliefs have stayed with me up until this very day. While I’ve gotten more & more comfortable sharing my emotions & problems with others, it’s still something I struggle with today.

This has probably been one of the most difficult habits for myself to break because it’s become natural for me to just hide my emotions & bottle them up never sharing with anyone.

My entire life I’ve done my best to remain strong through all the difficult situations I faced up until now. I didn’t let others see or know the true pain I was in. There were periods where I would spend many nights crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to dump my own problems on anyone else because I didn’t want to be a burden. I ended up not only carrying my own weight of problems, but the weight of those closest to me as well. I put off working through & healing my own issues, to help the ones I loved most.

It’s taken me up until now to realize that it’s important to take care of our own selves first. I neglected my own healing & stuffed my emotions deep down inside of me. In order to be of service & help to others in our lives, we must heal ourselves from within as well.

Because of the difficulties & pain I’ve faced, I never want others to feel alone or feel like they’re a burden. I am here for anyone and can be that shoulder for you to cry on. Never feel like you are a burden to others or that your problems don’t matter because they do! No matter how big or small the problem you’re faced with, it still matters.

Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

A Special Thank You to my Friends & Family

Right now I’m at a period of my life where I’ve been focusing more and more on my own inner work & personal development. It’s something I neglected and put off for far too long. I held the belief that if I pushed away the painful memories & experiences I could forget about them forever. I’ve learned though, that’s not the truth. At some point they will resurface and force you to deal with them.

For being 23 years old I feel I have experienced so much already in my lifetime. I grew up in an abusive household for almost 18 years being abused by my mother on a daily basis. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 19. I struggled with an alcohol addiction during that period as well. I hit rock bottom and almost killed myself. I was hospitalized for my mental illness. I was in & out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes. It was only two years ago when I got the help I needed & became stable again.

During the years when I was away at college and struggled with my alcohol addiction I stopped caring about the others around me. I stopped caring when my friends voiced their concerns about me and wanted to help me. My actions became careless and reckless that cost me friendships at that time.

I think back and wonder that if I did listen to them or if I showed more compassion maybe some of those people would still be in my life. I wonder that if I didn’t struggle with alcohol and mental illness that some of those people would still be in my life. It also showed me, who my true friends were, the ones who stuck by me through it all and are still in my life today.

It’s why I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my family and closest friends who stuck by me through my darkest moments. I thank you for not giving up on me when I was at my lowest points. I thank you for not getting mad or leaving when I wouldn’t listen to your advice. I thank you for always being there to support and show me love even when I didn’t want to receive it.

I believe it’s always through our darkest struggles and moments that shows us the people in our lives who truly care. It strengthens us to rise up even higher than before. So again, thank you to all those who showed me support and love through my darkest moments.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

We practice personal hygiene, dental hygiene, etc. But have you ever thought to practice mood or mental health hygiene?

The word hygiene was derived from the Greek goddess of health, Hygiea. Hygiene is defined as the science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Mood hygiene is when you practice and build habits that will promote good control of your mood symptoms. For those who have a mental illness this helps take preventive measures to improve the symptoms over time.

Living with mental illness, I never thought to add mood hygiene into my routine. The more I learned about it made me realize how beneficial it can be. Practicing mood hygiene doesn’t have to be just for those who have mental illness; it can be for everyone to practice. There are a few ways to practice mood hygiene and incorporate it into your daily life.

  1. Stress and conflict management

When you find yourself in stressful situations, it can sometimes trigger symptoms of your illness like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. There are several ways that you can take to help and prevent stress in your life such as exercising regularly or meditating.

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

  1. Lifestyle regularity

Having structure in your day-to-day life is extremely important. By establishing and sticking to a schedule will help build that structure in your life. For example, I wake up at the same time everyday and have a morning routine that I stick to everyday. I start my mornings by journaling and listing out a few things that I am grateful for each morning. By practicing that gratitude also helps get me in a positive mindset for the day. I then get my workout in before I start my workday.

By having a schedule you stick to on a regular basis builds the structure in your life that will help you feel in control of your life.

  1. Track your moods

By keeping track of your moods will help you determine if there is a certain pattern or cycle in your moods. I started tracking my moods a couple months ago in my journal and it has helped me become more self-aware. It’s helped me notice a pattern in my moods and it allows me to get my moods more under control. It allows me to prepare for the month so I can be strategic with my commitments and make sure I don’t over extend myself.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

These are just a few ways on how you can practice mood hygiene and start implementing them into your own daily life. Practicing mood hygiene on a regular basis will help immensely in the mental health recovery process. It allows you to have a new sense of control in your life and can be empowering for the individual.

The Dark Side of Social Media

We live in a society today that is ruled by technology. We have access to so much more than we did ten years ago. There are a number of ways for us to stay connected these days thanks to social media. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. There are times when social media can get toxic and bad for your mental health.

 

Living with a mental illness, I’ve found at times that social media has been toxic for myself. When I find myself feeling negative towards social media or I start being overly self critical; I know it’s time for me to take a breather from social media. While there are many positives for having social media, there are also some negative aspects to it.

 

Social media has been a blessing for staying connected with family and friends across the globe. It’s great being able to stay connected with those in your life who you don’t get to see as often as you would like. I love scrolling my feed seeing pictures of my family and friends enjoying their lives. Social media has been an incredible tool for staying connected with those in your life.

 

There are situations where social media can get to be toxic. We have the Internet at our disposal and it can be so easy to get lost in that void of being stuck behind a computer or phone all day long.

 

One way that social media can be toxic is cyber bulling. Cyber bullying has become more popular in a negative way. Unfortunately, it’s become more common for individuals to go through cyber bullying. Cyber bullying has made it easier for those bullies to target more people since they aren’t face to face and are doing it from a computer or phone.

 

I was cyber bullied during my years in high school. Experiencing it first hand, I know how hurtful it can be. It caused my depression to worsen and it dropped my confidence levels. It’s heartbreaking to see others go through that because I know how hard it can be facing a situation like that.

 

Another way social media can be toxic is comparing ourselves to others we see on social media. Majority of people on social media only share the “highlights” of their life leaving out the behind the scenes and not so pretty moments. I’ve gotten caught up in the comparison game numerous times especially on Instagram. I will catch myself comparing my body to another girls, wondering why my stomach can’t be flat like hers.

 

I’ve now learned that the comparison game gets you nowhere. The comparison game is only toxic and harmful to your mental health. It’s when I remind myself that what that person shares on social media is just a tiny part of their life. We don’t know their entire story or what their current life situation is. We are all uniquely and individually made so no two people are the same.

 

When you find yourself getting caught up in those negative thoughts or find yourself feeling negative towards social media; give yourself a break. It can be so refreshing to take a breather and focus on the other areas of your life. Spend a little extra time giving yourself love and attention that you deserve.

How Living a Healthier Lifestyle Saved My Life

Three years ago I made a decision that changed my life for the better. I was 80 pounds overweight, extremely depressed, and was struggling to stay alive. I had hit a low point with my depression and anxiety where I had stopped caring about myself that I allowed to let myself go. Food had become my best friend causing me to gain so much weight back then.

Three years ago was when I had my wake up call. I remember that moment when I worked up the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year, I knew deep down I was gaining weight, I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. When I saw that number on the scale, tears immediately filled my eyes. I began to feel embarrassed and upset with myself. I was upset that I had allowed myself to do that to myself. I was ashamed of what had happened. It was that day when I made the decision to get my life back on track.

I was living in such a haze, going through the motions day after day I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself. I had stopped loving myself and it was taking a toll on my mental and physical health.

I wasn’t taking medication either at the time and made an appointment with a psychiatrist to get started on medication again. That was when I received the correct diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder and got put on proper medication that has helped my recovery process.

Along with getting back on medication, I changed my diet and added exercise into my routine. I was eating a lot of fast food (mainly Taco Bell) and a lot of junk food. I wasn’t eating any natural whole foods and was only putting junk into my body.

I started with cutting out the fast food first, then the junk food, and replaced those with natural whole foods. I did it in a slow transition so it helped me build that habit to create a healthier diet.

I then started to exercise three to four days a week. I would either go to the gym or I would go on a run in my neighborhood. Every week I started to increase the length of time I would spend exercising to build my strength and stamina up again. About three weeks into my lifestyle change was when I started to notice the positive changes it was bringing me. I was feeling happier again, I wasn’t as anxious anymore, I had more energy, and I was starting to feel alive again. It made me realize that it wasn’t only helping me physically, but mentally as well.

By staying consistent with my exercise routine I was building up my strength and was starting to lose the weight I had gained. With the new medication I was on and my new lifestyle was helping my mental health immensely.

I truly believe that it was because of fitness that helped save my life. Three years ago I was at my lowest point. Everyday was a fight for me to stay alive. I was struggling with the negative thoughts everyday and wanted to give up so bad. When I had that wake up call and made the choice to change my lifestyle is what brought me back to life again.

Exercise has become a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle now. It’s become a part of my healing and recovery for mental health. With taking medication, exercise, and eating healthier all helped save my life and got me onto a better path.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

Why I’m Thankful for Hitting Rock Bottom

Four years ago was when I hit rock bottom. I was sexually assaulted and that experience broke me. I was drinking everyday not wanting to deal with life sober.

I was eating all the junk food I wanted because I didn’t want men to look at me anymore.

I stopped caring about myself and everything around me.

 

I allowed my depression to consume me.

I was cycling in and out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes.

I stopped taking my meds because they weren’t making me better.

Instead of seeking out help at that time, I turned to alcohol.

 

I drank to numb the pain and to take my mind off of what I was going through.

I didn’t want to deal with reality or that my life was crumbling around me.

I wanted to forget the pain I was dealing with.

 

I believed the negative thoughts my depression told me.

I believed I was a burden to others.

I was fighting every single day to survive.

I had lost my will to live and wanted out of the world so bad. I spent days in bed only leaving it to shower and eat. I was a total mess, but I didn’t want to accept that.

I was living in fear and denial. Food and alcohol was my comfort and best friend at the time.

 

During that low point of my life, I never thought I would feel happiness again or live a life where I was sober and successful. I was fully convinced that I was going to be miserable my entire life.

 

It wasn’t easy climbing out of that dark pit and getting back into the light again.

It was when I looked at myself in the mirror one day and didn’t recognize the person I was. It was when I got the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year when I saw how much weight I gained. It was when I promised myself change needed to happen.

 

I had no idea how I was going to do it. But something inside of me was saying to just try.

It told me to take baby steps everyday so I could make progress in the right direction.

To slowly climb my way out of that deep dark hole I was living in.

 

I look back now and while I was miserable then, I’m thankful for going through that.

I’m thankful for hitting rock bottom and going through some traumatic events.

I’m thankful because it made me strong. It challenged me to build up mental toughness.

It broke me, shattered me into a million pieces, leaving me to figure out how I was going to put myself together again.

 

I prayed and prayed to God to give me the strength and will to push forward.

Everyday got a little easier and I got stronger. It showed me what I’m truly capable of and that with enough will and determination I can get through anything. Sometimes you have to hit that low point in life to climb back to the top.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helped With my Healing

I got my cat Calypso five years ago when I had moved back home from University. That period of my life was when I was struggling badly with my mental health. I had withdrawn from University because I had been sexually assaulted and my mental health was on the decline.

 

Moving back home, I felt alone and was battling negative thoughts on a daily basis. I had a friend suggest to me that I look into getting an emotional support animal to keep me company and help with my healing. I did research on emotional support animals and found that some of the benefits were that it lowered stress & anxiety levels, reduced feelings of loneliness, and offered companionship. I was living with my grandparents at the time so it took some convincing for them to let me bring a cat into the home since they had a dog. When I shared with them the benefits of having an emotional support animal they quickly got on board with the idea.

 

I’ll always remember the day when I brought Calypso home. My best friend and I were out shopping for the day and figured we would stop by the pet store to look at the animals. I saw Calypso there and it was love at first sight. She was the cat I wanted to bring into my life.

 

The pet store was partnered with the local humane society so we gave the lady a call to meet us at the store so I could interact with Calypso. Like any cat meeting a new person she was a little skittish and apprehensive, but quickly took to me. The lady told me that another family had looked into adopting her, but she didn’t think they were a good fit. She saw the connection between Calypso and me and could tell it was going to be a good fit.

 

The first day I brought her home she immediately took to me. I’ve had cats before and sometimes they’ll spend a couple days in hiding getting used to their new surroundings, but that wasn’t the case with Calypso. She spent about maybe an hour in hiding and was already comfortable in her new surroundings.

 

Adopting Calypso to be my emotional support animal was the best decision I made. Even though she’s a cat she’s become my best friend and part of the family. During my healing with mental health she was there for me every step of the way. I had days where it was a struggle for me to get out of bed and find any motivation to do anything and she was always there to give me that extra push. She helped me keep a routine since I would have to feed her twice a day and it forced me to get out of bed every day.

 

They say animals can always pick up on people’s emotions and I believe that is true. I had days when I would spend hours crying and she would sit with me until I was feeling better. Whenever I was having a bad day, she would be glued to my side. She would follow me around the house like a little puppy dog and would let me pet her as much as I wanted. She would give me that extra motivation and push I needed to get through the day to get daily tasks done. She helped me feel not so alone and gave me that love I deeply craved and needed at that time.

 

I am forever grateful for having Calypso in my life. Even though she is a cat, she played a big part in my healing journey. She was there for me every step of the way and gave me that extra love and support I needed.

 

If you have considered adopting a pet for an emotional support animal, I highly encourage it. Having my cat a part of my life helped with my healing process and kept me motivated each and everyday.