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.

Self Love

Self love to me is loving yourself, wholly and unconditionally. Loving the good parts of yourself and the bad. It is also taking time to care for your self and to make your self the best you can be.

Self-love is something that a lot of us struggle with, myself included. Loving myself is something I’ve struggled with for most of my adolescent/young adult life. Part of this is probably due to my abusive past relationship, and the rest is probably because of my mental illnesses of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I not only struggle with loving myself as a person, but loving the body I live in as well.

Something that really helps me is reading quotes that are meaningful, and I’d like to share a few of those.

“My first love was some insignificant boy, when it should’ve been myself. “

This one is interesting to me. When I was younger, I sought out validation with my relationships. But, if someone didn’t like me, it made me feel bad about myself as well. I later realized that I didn’t need validation from others, I needed it from myself. How can anyone else love me if I don’t in turn, love myself?

“Get into the habit of asking yourself: ‘Does this support the life I’m trying to create?'”

This is an important one. 2019 for me has been focusing on my own growth. Self love falls into that category. In order to grow and learn to love myself, I want to make decisions that support the life I want. This way, I am actively making decisions to better myself and decisions that make me happy.

Self love can be different for every person. It is basically taking some time to spend with yourself and do something that makes you happy. Some examples of what I do is

  • take a bubble bath
  • go for a walk
  • listen to your favorite song
  • have a dance party
  • read
  • go for a walk
  • cuddle a pet
  • exercise
  • journal

But really, what you do is totally up to you. It is really important to occasionally take time to give yourself love. If you are like me and constantly giving others love and attention, it can be rather draining. So, always make sure you are giving yourself some time as well.

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Mental Illness Really Sucks

You wouldn’t believe this, but mental illness sucks.

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I spend a lot of days just stuck. I lack motivation or a positive outlook or even the will to shower. People telling me that things will get better do not help. I mean, things will get better for them

And I only have depression.

What I’ve read about bipolar, schizophrenia, and anxiety (to name a few general terms) makes me understand the suckiness of mental illnesses can only go deeper.

And the worst part? Stuff like motivation and will power is nonexistent. It’s been sucked away. That’s the analogy I keep thinking of with all the recent news about black holes in space.

That’s it! -Mental illness is like a black hole.

The Event Horizon Telescope, a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration, captured this image of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 and its shadow.

Image: © EHT Collaboration

So… why am I bothering to write about it? It sounds like we ought to just accept our fate and enter another dimension as re-composed atoms, right? Wrong. I’ll tell you why, and you don’t even have to get up from the floor to listen.

Things actually will get better.

No, that’s not a cheery aphorism. I do not believe in those, because they also suck -but not like the suck of mental illness black holes. Go get your own sucking analogy, aphorisms.

But you don’t really care about that right now if you’re in a spiral.

What you need right now is to calm down. That thing you think you really need to be doing will wait, unless it’s a pot of boiling dinner on the stove. Turn that off, remove it from heat, then calm down. Now that we’ve mitigated a fire hazard, everything can wait. The Earth will keep moving and you can take a little break.

Then you need to do something for you. Something funny.


Watch a funny movie, read a funny book, look at funny memes online, ask your dad for a joke, or search for internet fails. Get laughing, or at least get not-crying. Try a smile -that’s it. I’ll take it.

Make yourself slightly more comfortable.
Use the bathroom, eat something reasonably healthy and brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Shower and get dressed.

Lastly, do SOMETHING.
You just got up and ready, after all. It’s not like your couch is a great date, though sitting on it with a great date or group of friends is fine. Text someone (even your mom) and leave the pit house.

Only after you’ve re-centered your mind, aka escaped the black hole, are you ready to do try facing whatever space anomaly sent you near it.

Speaking of, you may want to clean off your stove. That crap’s hard to get off if it stays on there.

 

Photo Credits:
Tiago Bandeira

Y’all Are Crazy, and That’s Okay

Having a mental illness is a lonely thing.

Like most people, we want at least someone with whom we can talk. We want a friend to cry with, or even laugh with. We need a deep connection with another human, to feel loved and validated.

Unfortunately, we have a few things that get in the way of socializing.

Many of us are scared. We have trust issues. When we feel hurt, we feel very deeply and wish to avoid feeling that way again. Often, we’ve had a bad experience of someone breaking a promise or shying away when we shared how we think. Heck, a lot of us have a bonafide diagnosis from a doctor that we have social anxieties.

Besides the hurt and fear, we avoid people for their own benefit. We tell ourselves that we are flawed and unsafe. We justify our anti-social behavior with statements like, “I know I’m a downer,” “No ones talks to me at parties. They can see, in my face, that I’m no fun,” and “If they really wanted to be around me, they’d talk to me.”

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Those reasons and that voice are hard to work with, but our health and mental stability need to fight against them. I mean, did you know that human connections were rated the most important thing in a happy life?

So stop beating yourself up. Seriously. I’ll tell you why:

  • Most people are some level of crazy. They may not be certified, but they have issues. I can’t tell you how many people I talk with who have experienced some angle of what I have, if not the whole enchilada.
  • Even though you are crazy, what are you gonna do about it? I’ve tried starting over, but the person that is me always shines through. I am what I have to work with and I accept that.
  • Crazy people have options, like crazy-people doctors and crazy-people medications and crazy-people blogs. There are even …crazy people groups that meet and talk crazy together. It’s a blast.
  • You are you, and are a work in progress. Just think: are you still crawling around and stuffing car keys in your mouth? NO! You did that as a baby, silly. Now you are older and know better. You are knowing better every day.
  • The future will be better. The future will be even betterer if you keep moving forward -even if all you can manage is a shuffle.
  • If all else fails, there is chocolate.
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I have a few friends. Of those, a few have mental health challenges. Some struggle with depression and social anxiety like I do. One has panic attacks. Another is schizophrenic. A mutual acquaintance is bipolar.

Sometimes when I try to plan a get-together, a friend flakes and doesn’t show up. Sometimes I have a terrible week and have to cancel on one of them. Since we are all in this not-sea-worthy-at-all boat together, however, we get it. If not, we talk about it. We hug. We pull out the chocolate.

I need people. I need understanding. I need connection. So do you. Plus, your challenges and perspectives mean that you are more understanding and empathetic than other people.

I mean, we may all be crazy, but that’s okay. We’re as human as the next person and our needs are just as valid.

You are worth it. I promise.

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Photo Credits:
Sayo Garcia
Ethan Sykes
Anita Austvika

A Swim Upstream And Lessons Learnt

As the year comes to an end, I would like to recap what 2018 has been for me. This year was filled with so many ups and downs. Tears have been cried and my faith has been tested on so many occasions. There were a lot of lessons learned, despite my heartache.

It has been a year since I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and My Bowel Disease. This time last year, I was so malnourished because my gut was extremely damaged and I couldn’t absorb nutrients. It has been such a struggle to get to a point were my bowel disease was at bay. I was also diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and panic disorder about three years ago. I struggled to keep the ship sailing since my malnutrition and my bowel disease made my mental health conditions worse.

I lost so many friends due to us growing apart. I was no longer helpful in their journeys and them in mine. I grew into what I am today because I was shaped by my circumstances and experiences. I became who I was destined to be. I fell in love with myself again, despite having lost myself in the storm of circumstances I had no control over. I gained new hope and I started traveling the world again, with friends and on my own.

For the first time in a year, since my diagnosis of CPTSD. I started living for myself and not being defined by doctrines that people tried to instil in me. I overcame my self harming strategies, my suicidal thoughts and most importantly the guilt I have carried for so many years. I always struggled with guilt and self-hate. Because I was taught by my abusers that I was not worthy of love and that I wasn’t deserving of life. I still struggle with my negative inner critic from time to time but I learnt how to cope and tackle this negative inner critic.

I am grateful for all that Life had to offer me in 2018. Most importantly, I found the new me!

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again soon Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love,

Francesca

A Mental Health Resource – Poetry by Cass

I was asked by a fellow mental health blogger a writer if I would share her newly published collection of poetry entitled Rooted. It is always the point of this blog to celebrate other bloggers and writers within the mental illness community so that the real people in the community are highlighted. Here is the information on Cass’ work.

Rooted by Cass

Hi everyone! My name is Cass and I’m a Canadian blogger, and newly published author! My collection of poems, titled Rooted, has just released and I’d like to share some of my words with you.

Rooted has a strong focus on love and heartbreak, self-love, self-improvement, and mental illness.

Mental illness is something that will affect everyone in some way at least once in our lives, whether it be yourself or a family member that’s suffering.

I use poetry as an outlet; that’s how this collection started. I would just write down the words that came to me, especially on my down days, and it became a collection I can share with others.

I hope my words reach you in some way, and can maybe give you the guidance you need or the reassurance that with whatever demons you are battling, you are not alone.

The poem below is the first in my collection, inspiring the collection title. Willow trees are a big part of this book and my writing. They represent strength and the ability to stand through challenges, and I wish to be the same, so they’ve become a big symbol for me.

You can visit my blog here: www.turningpages00.wordpress.com

And order my debut collection here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1732464324/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539863672&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=cassandra+chaput&dpPl=1&dpID=41e0yxddswL&ref=plSrch

Rooted cover

Rooted

I am rooted.

A tree standing tall, resilient in the harsh, blowing winds.

Strong I stand.

I feel the storm arrive.

The clouds surround the sun, suffocating its light, allowing for dark days.

There are days when the ghosts whisper in my ears, making me question all that I know.

There are days when the clouds cry, making the ground muddy from their tears.

I walk, and feel stuck.

Unable to move

My feet are slowly sinking into the earth

I feel like crying with the clouds.

But I’m too strong for that.

The winds are powerful, and I feel like anything could knock me over.

I’m not the best with balance, but I’m getting there.

When I Finally Knew My Worth

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This has been the hardest road I ever travelled on. This Journey of finding myself and who I was destined to be after trauma has not been easy. I hope that this gives people hope that one can come out victorious even when they had gone through circumstances that were unbearable. I really travelled through this madness to find myself. I became comfortable with myself in this space (on this planet) because I no longer have nothing to prove to anyone. I just have to be authentically me. I had to changed how I saw (my perspective) of my circumstances and the world. I chose me first. I chose to follow my intuition, my inner-compass.

I will never be anything less than me and if that bothers you, step out of my light. – Anonymous

After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. I outgrew people who gladly offered criticism instead of support. I stopped trying to meet unrealistic expectations that were set by my family. I have outgrown my own unrealistic expectations of myself and my need to people please. accomplishment-achievement-adorable-1119981I no longer associate myself with human beings, who wear masks and secretly rejoice at my misfortunes and my mistakes. I ceased shrinking myself for people who were intimidated by my presence and by my intelligence. People who wouldn’t allow me to express myself because they were intimidated by my outspoken nature. Even when I was shrinking myself, I had the courage to break the silence and hear myself sing again.

I have outgrown friendships, love-ships and family-ships that did not celebrate accomplishments. I stopped supporting people who disappeared whenever life got a little tough. I learnt to respect myself. battle-black-blur-260024I no longer associated with people who took pleasure in gossiping and spreading negativity. Dull, shallow and meaningless conversations are a thing of the past. I value my time and energy more than ever before. I have outgrown society telling me that I am not beautiful and not worthy. I ceased filling my mind with negative thoughts, self doubt and insecurities. I stopped finding reasons not to love myself but more reasons to love others before myself because of my emptiness. I have outgrown people and things that don’t enrich my soul, inner-tuition and my life purpose. After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. My soul is finally free. I finally know my worth more than ever now.

I stopped waiting for the world to give me what I wanted; I started giving it to myself. – Anonymous

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love

Francesca

The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Hello, there! Feeling depressed? I’m here to offer you a little encouragement.

Cat

Perhaps you are familiar with James Edgar Skye’s favorite life maxim: Keep fighting.

What does that mean, exactly? Is he encouraging site visitors to violence? I’m sure you all know that’s not the answer. Despite your astute intelligence, however, do you keep fighting?

Or, are you in my preferred category of fence-sitting numbness?

Worse yet, are you all alone, hiding from everything except the dark recesses of your mind?

That is no way to fight.

Don’t roll your eyes at me; you’re the one practicing bad habits. …Yes, I intend to get dressed and eat something besides these cookies. Yes, I’m wearing exercise clothes because I’m going to do something more aerobic than climb the step stool to reach another package of cookies.

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Hmm. Maybe we both need to step up our game.

Way back in May of this year I revealed the most secret of secrets: The Cure for Depression. Over the next few, heavily-procrastinated months I then discussed the secret steps involved.

In fact, last time I wrote about figuring out what’s helping and sticking with it.

Are you still not trying any of these?

Again, that’s no way to fight.

Fight is an action verb, and not one like “yawn,” or “scratch.” Think about what you picture when someone says, “Fight.” It’s not a person laying amidst packages of desserts, feebly raising a hand to scroll through this article and resolve to think about trying something tomorrow.

It’s pride.

It’s power.

It’s a bad-ass mother who won’t take no crap off of nobody!!!

The “nobody” we depressive types need to address is most often ourselves.

Think of how you would get ready for a physical fight. Besides psyching yourself up with a little mirror speech (which, by the way, is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), you place your feet and hands in a defensive stance. Given time to prepare, you might wear protective clothing, train with a professional, and bring something besides air to smack the enemy with.

D’ya see the correlation? Your daily, healthy practices arm you for the fight against depression -a fight with your own, flawed mind.

It’s a battle we face every day, but one that is easier if we’re prepared. After following the recommended steps, that battle doesn’t even happen some days. Isn’t that worth fighting for?

Yes, it is. Now, get out there. Keep fighting.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Photo credits:
Whitney Wright
And Giphy.

Becoming Whole

Full.  Completed.  Perfect.  Undivided.  Fulfilled.

What does whole mean to you?  To me?

For a long time, I didn’t know.  I just knew I felt incomplete, and broken.  Bipolar depression had shattered the me I knew and turned everything on it’s head.  But I knew it wasn’t just the illness making me feel incomplete.  I know this because even when I felt well for several years, I didn’t feel fulfilled really.  I was spending so much time chasing and doing, but little to no time getting to know myself and understanding what I need.

As I have tried to pull myself out of my latest episode of depression I have often told myself, “I need something for me and me alone.”  Caught up in a sea of everyone else’s needs I was feeling lost and empty.  I couldn’t get out of the lingering tide of depression that kept bringing me down.

I thought of several ideas of what I could do just for me.  Maybe I could get a job.  Working a couple nights a week might be just the thing to get me out of the house and into a world of my own.  That didn’t sit well with me, though.  I had a new baby to care for.  It wasn’t likely that I would really be able to leave on a regular basis in the evenings.  This is because I wanted time with my husband as well, and that is the only time he is home with us, due to his work schedule.

Maybe I could do a play with a local theater company.  I loved doing theater as a youth and young adult.  The idea of exploring that art again was very attractive to me.  I also desperately wanted to be creative again.  But this would not work as well, for the same reasons I couldn’t get a job.  There would be numerous evening rehearsals and I didn’t think I could even handle that big of a commitment at that time.  So that idea was also discarded.

Time went on.  I tried my best to find joy in making our house a home.  I do enjoy decorating and painting walls, and beautifying our environment.  I also have enjoyed reading.  I found little things to do each day that I could enjoy while still caring full time for my four children.  I also take time everyday to enjoy my children and the wonderful people they are becoming.  But as years went by I realized that this wasn’t enough for me.  I have spent years giving to others.  And while I love this aspect of my life, I knew that I needed something more–something that I could really throw myself into for my own fulfillment.

When my depression started to dip down again a few months ago, I knew I could not put my own needs off any longer.  I needed to find something I could do right away that would help to nourish me.  So I prayed for help and I started forming some plans.  I decided I might go back to school in the fall.  I considered moving toward becoming a professional counsellor.  I became excited about the prospect and realized how much I could bring to the table with a client, having experienced mental illness myself.  I decided it would be a good idea to make a list of everything that I had learned from having mental illness.  I did just that, and found that I had a lot of knowledge already that I could share.

So I started blogging.  Why wait to become a counsellor?  I could start sharing what I had learned, and my own experiences, with people right now–without going back to school.

It was a short month and half later that The Bipolar Writer liked one of my posts.  I was intrigued.  Who is The Bipolar Writer?  I got onto his website and was amazed.  This Bipolar Writer was doing was I was trying to do–help others with his experiences–and had quite a following.  I loved what I read here and the sense of community and understanding I felt here.  I wanted to be a part of it.

To my surprise and excitement, he posted that he was looking for contributor writers for his blog.  I emailed James immediately and told him I would love to be a part of what he is doing.  He graciously accepted my offer to write.

This is a nice story, but what does it have to do with becoming whole?  I have been fortunate to explore writing again–really explore it and get creative in ways that I haven’t since I was attending college as a young adult.  In doing so, I remembered how much I always loved writing in my youth.  It was something I could always get excited about and I was pretty good at it, at the time.

I am rediscovering a long dormant love and passion for writing!  This is what I have been needing.  Something I can get excited about and look forward to that is just for my own enjoyment.  It’s the missing piece that I didn’t know I needed all this time.

For the first time in many many years I am beginning to feel whole!  I am a becoming full, complete, undivided and fulfilled Chelsea.  I have started work on a novel and am working on developing my writing skills.  Having this outlet is making me a better mom and wife and a happier me.

So thank you.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you, James, for this opportunity.

In closing, I invite you to do some pondering.  Think about what you need, what you enjoy and how you can incorporate it into your life.  I hope in doing so you will find what you need to make you more whole.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Have you discovered your passion?  Do you have something in your life that brings your joy and fulfillment?  Comment to share.