Disclaimer: not everyone will have the same experience as I did.
This Friday will be my "1 year" since my hospitalization for suicide ideation, and the start to my mental health recovery. This week I am focusing on the importance of self care, and suicide prevention.
There are many things we don't talk about, or put out there out of fear and judgment from others. I'm choosing to be vocal, especially starting while I'm young.
I wanted to do a post dedicated to my experience, especially for those who ask "what was it like?" This doesn't sum up my experience, which is why I titled it 'random memories-"
I sound complain-y in these, but keep in mind..I didn't want nor choose to be there and it's uncomfortable being away from your usual things, routine. It is a different living situation.
Here are some little things that come to mind. It's weird what you remember.
Again- I am just days away from acknowledging my strength this past year.
More posts to come.
We are all so quick to give advice to others when they open up about the tough stuff.
People don't always take advice very well when they see things from only one point of view.
From experience, when it comes to mental health, do not give advice unless someone asks you for advice.
Don't pretend you understand.
simply be there for support.
"I'm here for you."
"I'm sorry you are going through such a difficult time."
"I'm not leaving."
"I care about you."
"You are so important to me."
Those words can go a long way.
It's hard to know what to say when someone is going through a tough time.
Instead of risking the wrong words, at an attempt to just say something, turn to confirmation of your support first.
I hate this feeling.
Like I'm happy, but I'm not.
Like I'm trying too hard to be happy.
That I feel so many things all at once, to the point where I almost feel nothing at all.
I keep searching for a "reason" because that's what everyone wants to know, right?
There isn't one. Sometimes there just isn't one.
I have been making efforts to get out of my yearly winter slump. I haven't been isolating as much as I want to, and I have been getting out, going on drives, seeing friends, and I know that has helped.
I haven't been writing much, mainly because I have been so busy since Christmas. I brought my laptop to a local coffee shop and opened to my blog. I started writing, but after every sentence I found myself deleting words, starting from the top, having no clue what to say. It was frustrating. Often times writing is what I can count on, it helps me to feel stable, and less alone. When my fingers freeze above the keys I feel very very lost. I could feel the frustration fuming and my eyes becoming glossy. I slid my laptop into its case and walked back to my car after 15 minutes of looking out the cafe window. My mom had called me, asking if I could pick up my stranded brother at a shopping plaza on my way home. I didn't give her a full answer, and I hung up the phone after a long silence. I have been so sensitive to the little things lately and I don't know what is going on with me. I took a long way home and drove some roads that really didn't make sense to go on. I was fighting tears and I just felt so awful and empty and sad and the worst part was that I had no idea why. "Not knowing what to blog about" didn't seem to cut it. No, it had to be more than that.
As much as it seems like I should not be alone at times like these, I have learned that these are my moments to recharge. I cry, I jump to conclusions, I get irritable, but then I go for a drive, grab a snack, take a nap, and recharge.
When I got home I tried my best to bite my tongue. When I don't feel well, all that comes out it is attitude and I was trying to prevent that. If I snap my mom and I will just fight and I will feel worse. I couldn't have that happen. I told my mom I just needed to rest so I knew I would be alone. I took a nap and a few hours later I was calm and back to myself again.
That is what I call my "recharge."
I was so proud of myself after last week's therapy appointment. I talked a lot, and did a good job at explaining what was on my mind. I was prepared as well, I had emailed her a word document prior to the appointment, so in case I was choking on my words, I would have something to turn to. She read through my writing, telling me we could go back to some things next week.
Today's appointment, didn't go so great. I showed up, but I had no idea what to talk about. I began talking about a challenge she had given me the week before, and why it was difficult for me to complete. I expected I would have more words about it, but I guess I no longer found them necessary. So the question came, "What do you want to talk about today?" and I let the dreaded words "I don't know" slip. I let her babble, and I had my short responses and I could feel my face getting heavy, knowing she could tell.
"I know you want me to just keep talking for you, but this is your session." She smiled, and I know she was giving me permission to just open up about whatever, but I had nothing. I felt stuck.
I have been reading articles on Psychology Today trying to find any ways I can to improve in therapy and get the most out of it. One thing I have been working on is taking the time as my own and saying whatever is on my mind and being more open, and having trust. I have been working outside of therapy, so that I can get down to business in therapy.
Some days, it is easier for me than others.
I just started crying, and I hate crying in front of people. She asked if I wanted to sit in silence for a while and I agreed. I just sat there awkwardly wiping my tears and biting my lip when a thought popped up.
I know that I shouldn't be hard on myself in these moments. I know it is okay to cry, okay not to be okay, okay not to know, okay to feel whatever you feel, okay to sit in silence, but I did not want that.
I want therapy to help me so I can stop feeling so poorly all the time. I want to use that time to work on me so that I can help me, and I can not do that when I sit there not knowing what to say, shutting down and struggling to wake myself up, and just crying when I feel embarrassed, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable.
I often feel like there is something wrong with me. It is hard to help another person understand me, when I hardly understand me.
It is hard feeling so tired all the time. My personality screams energy, yet my soul seems sad and tired. Exhausted.
I have been hiding from the blogging world lately because I have been feeling off though I have been active and happy and smiley as well. Writing always helps me, so this post here may not be one I am excited about sharing, but I am doing this for my own self care.
All I can do is just wait because this too shall pass.
I am back in Connecticut.
I have tackled my first semester of college and I am excited for this 1 month break. A long winter break is reasonable after the many mental breakdowns and stress filled assignments that the finals period creates. I had never been swamped with that much work before. At least now I know it is manageable.
I'm not sure how I feel being home. It's nice to see my family, my friends, my cat and all, but I'm not super excited to be here. I like being on campus and feeling like the world is my own. My living space is quiet, I am not bothered, and I feel relaxed that way. It's not that I don't have freedom here, I guess I just like being on my own, and returning to family mode makes me irritable. I realize as I'm writing this how "typical teenager" this sounds, but in a weird way I think it is much more than that.
This time of year does not help my mood. I spend the wintertime wanting to fly south, move away from home, and start fresh somewhere new.
Growing up, I never really felt connected to my home. My family is here, my friends are here, everything is here, but I've never considered this my happy place. I never imagined that I would like being in the city as much as I have these past months. I think the busyness is good for me. The noise, the lights, the life. I am much more active. I walk everywhere even if it is to a "T" stop. There are so many things all in one place, that I feel like I don't have to escape quite so far.
I feel like I am definitely putting a lot of pressure on myself. I feel as though I should know by now where my "happy place" is, meaning an actual place in this world. It doesn't help that I haven't really been many places. I work every day on my mental health so my anxiety does not get the best of me. Sometimes I wonder if I would be even happier somewhere where the grass is greener and I can feel the sun in December more than anything else.
This break, I am in Connecticut, therefore I shall plan to see people in my life who represent the sunshine I seek. Seasonal Affective Disorder can really pull on you and trap you inside the darkness. My plan: I created a schedule for every day during my break and I am going to make sure to go somewhere or see someone each day to stay busy and active and keep my spirits up. This Wednesday I am having a friend over to bake cookies with while we both wear pajamas. It's the little things.
In one of my last posts, I wrote about how I was struggling to find my fit at college. Last night I ate dinner with two friends and I was effortlessly being me. When we left the dining hall we were all laughing and I could just tell that they were enjoying my company and it felt so good. I was my crazy, giggly, goofy, silly self, and I found friends that love that.
I do have people that understand and adore my personality. It was a reminder to me.
It hurts, but I can't expect every person I meet is going to like me, or isn't going to judge me at first glance. I can't expect someone to see me as I see them. Sometimes, people just aren't a good fit for you, and that's okay. I know this, I have just forgotten this while I was in my lonely rut. I do have friends that fit, maybe I was just looking in the wrong places?
I left campus knowing that I have friendly faces to see and hug when I return to campus come Janurary.
I have formed positive relationships with my professors. One, encouraging me to work at the writing center, as well as to visit her sometime.
I have the counseling center on campus as a support, and at my last appointment I was left with the reassurance and confirmation that I am "resilient." and that it is something I am. I have people that help to build me up.
Now, I need to relax and have fun this break. I do not enjoy being irritable, but luckily I have writing as an outlet to help me out. Irritability is a main symptom of anxiety disorders. I am not accepting any anxieties this break- no no no.
And that was my post-finals babble!
I'm back to the keyboard, folks! Stay with me these next few weeks.
Winter break begins. :-)
It is the end of the semester, finals are coming up, and I can now see the difference between a high school and college workload.
My sleep schedule is just insane. Some nights I only sleep 2 hours. I get in bed before 11pm most nights, but some nights I don't fall asleep until 3 am. On the nights I get very little sleep, I find that I am struggling to keep my eyes open during the day when I am trying to get assignments done. I then choose to take a nap in order to regain energy for the rest of the day, but then my sleep schedule is even more destroyed when nighttime comes.
Welcome to college!
I have never been a good test-taker, and though my school gives very little tests, I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel on my written work so that my grades balance out.
There is this one class that is getting to me. It's mandatory for first-years and I have to take the first part now and second part next semester for my major. I just don't clique with my professor. I have him all year so I am worried about that. Most of classes are discussion based, with a mix of a lecture. This class is just an entire lecture at 8 am and he goes way too fast and rarely goes back to old powerpoint slides, and I'm basically learning more just by reading the textbook on my own time.
Besides my sleep problems that are always existent, and my overload of assignments, I just haven't been feeling like "me."
I'm stressed, I'm not even anxious. I am irritable, and the smallest things are getting on my nerves. I'm at a small school, so it is more of a challenge to create boundaries from negativity.
I loved Thanksgiving, but honestly, I couldn't wait to go back to school. Going home has been changing my mood in a negative way, and I don't know why but I need to improve that before winter break or I will just be miserable.
I started crying yesterday about nonsense. It was one of those moments where I knew I was being ridiculous and my logic was fighting against my emotions, but I still felt them anyway. I basically was putting myself down about numerous things and convincing myself to believe them. Why can I be my own worst critic?
I called my mom. I just needed to vent to her that I was "going crazy" and hated feeling like this. I needed to hear her make norm of it. "Well, Haley, at least you know you're being silly."
I haven't been my happy haley self. I haven't had my typical silliness of dancing and Disney music. I am in an extreme introverted fog. Except this time, I don't like this feeling of being alone. Not this way.
Sometimes I think I should try to isolate myself, because I lose energy when I'm around people. But then I think, maybe I'm just around the wrong people. I have made a lot of friends since the start of college but I am still unsure of who "my people" are and that is making me more upset right now than it should.
I can think back to every year since freshman year of high school, and possibly before that, I always seem to shut down at this time of year. I definitely get seasonal depression, but oh no I'm not taking it this year. I'm done with feeling like this.
I went online and was looking at light therapy boxes, and salt lamps. Why not try it? I still don't know the difference, but they both have similar effects.
I started taking Vitamin D supplements, so we'll see how that helps too.
Whenever I feel the least bit "off" I get scared. I worry that there is something wrong with me and that I'm depressed or that I don't fit in with anyone. Just scrolling through mindbodygreen yesterday made me feel better. There are natural ways to feel better, because this feeling is normal. I'm new to college, this is more work than I have ever had in my life, and on top of that my sleep, mood, and my health have always been a work in progress. I know that this time of year is hard for me. I don't do well when it gets dark early. That's when my negative thoughts and worries creep in and it's hard to leave my room.
I must be doing okay. I'm aware of these things. I am going to my classes, getting dressed, wearing makeup most days, and trying the little things to keep me moving. I do not like this feeling, and I need to work on not letting my "off" days or feelings scare me. They happen. I'm doing okay.
This isn't me. This is not myself. I know what is "very haley" and this just isn't it.
So, That Happened.. !!!
Note: Trigger warning this post.
About a week ago, I posted this picture on my blog instagram @hctblog. I participated in the #PerfectlyMe campaign by Seventeen Magazine to help promote positive body image. Little did I know, SEVENTEEN was going to regram my picture later that week, and my message would reach far over 1,000 people!! Whaaaaaat?
It is unbelievable to me that all of these good things keep coming one after the other. Each time I leave my comfort zone, I am rewarded in some way.
So here's the thing..
Left: Me, July 2016.
I told myself that with recovery, I was not going to be the girl who wore long sleeved shirts in the summertime.
One, because I love the summertime.
Two, because by protecting myself, I would be shaming myself as well.
If I was going to work on treating myself with care, I was going to have to learn to accept myself as I am.
It wasn't immediately, because it was very new. It pained my family to see those marks, even though I was doing better.
The weather got warmer, and I wanted to wear short sleeves. I started with 3/4 length sleeves, and passed the school halls with little attention on me. I soon gained the strength to wear short sleeves and tank tops. I sat in my classes. I was aware that some people would stare, but I just continued to act as me.
Some of my friends would say, "What happened to your arm?" I just looked at them, and they said, "Oh, I'm sorry."
Now this is it. This is how I would respond:
"Don't be sorry. I'm better now." I would smile, despite how hard it was. Eventually it got easier. The "I'm better now" showed me that these marks were a symbol of what I have survived, and a reminder that I am still here. A "yeah, shit happened" "but I'm not gonna hide because of it."
I find that college is so much different than high school. People notice, but they don't ask. They've had their own shit. They are more understanding, respectful, educated, and less judgmental. They don't treat me any different, or express sympathy for me. I carry myself with a "yes I have my battles" attitude, and use that confidence to show others I have no shame, and we should not stigmatize those who do.
I do not condone self-harm.
I have made mistakes.
I need to be my friend again.
To be my friend again, I shall make up for it by treating myself with love and self-care.
People stare. Let them. People talk. Don't listen to them.
I have found that you do not own anyone an explanation for your own journey.
It is yours for a reason.
5 examples of how I show myself that I love myself:
- I listen to my body, and meet its needs
- I surround myself with positive people
- I do what makes me happy
- I move. Some days I do yoga, or go for a run, and some days my only exercise is walking outside. And that's okay.
- I make sure that each day, I laugh really hard, and smile very big.
"Senior year." It's supposed to be the best year? That is what I imagined. I can sure say that I will never forget my senior year of high school, but it is not how I would have wanted to remember it.
This year, I lost myself. I became disconnected from myself, and the world, and I found myself in a dark place that I never thought I would come out of. It was a rollercoaster. I would reach the top and I would feel powerful and hopeful, but it would only last a few weeks, and then I would be back down to the darkness again.
I always had this skill, you see. I was always able to hide my feelings with a dorky smile and a constant stream of chatter. This year, my friends discovered that I was not so good at hiding it anymore.
It has been a bumpy year.
The main reason why I became so invested in mental health awareness is not just because I struggle with my mental health as well. It is because I discovered something that made my life worth living. I became passionate about advocacy, and my dream to become a school social worker someday.
This is the first time I am saying this in writing, and the first time I am putting this out there...
This past March of 2016, I reached bottom. At 17 years old I found myself sitting in an ambulance all alone on my way to a hospital without my family, where I would be hospitalized for suicidal ideation. While my friends were going to school, and hanging out with one another, I was in a room with my zentangle coloring books and a pile of quarters for the payphone. I was at my lowest point, and I didn't know when I would be able to go home.
When I did return home and back to school, I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. I never would have wished for that experience, but everything happens for a reason and in many ways the experience itself, and the truly amazing people I had met, changed me for the better.
Despite my social anxieties I am insanely proud of myself for advocating for myself this year. It was a long and painful process for me to get there, but it was all worth the effort. My support system helped me to get here, but it was I who had to make it happen.
Months ago I didn't think I would make it to Christmas, and then I didn't think I would make it to my high school graduation.
But I did, and I'm here. And if I am choosing to be here, I would like to use my voice and my time here for a bigger purpose.
I'm tired of hiding the struggles in my life. I want to celebrate every tiny victory they lead me to.
MS, thank you for inspiring the idea of blogging for me. You have saved, changed, and inspired me more than you know.
I have been scattered.
I never wrote a blog post on my insomniac sleep plan update because honestly I did not follow it. I tried, but I couldn't. I have been sleeping, but it is unfortunately because my depression has been back more than my anxiety, and I have been sleeping 14 hours school nights.
A lot of words are triggers for me. This week, ever since a death in my family, I have been triggered by the thought of suicide.
It just sucks the life out of you, you know? How can you go about your daily life while knowing that we live in a world where people think they will be better off dead?
This week, I have cried in all of my classes, concerned my classmates, and reunited with some of my old bad habits.
The most motivating thing I have done all day is opening my laptop and starting this post. I'm dragging weights.
I am numb, I am scared, I am anxious about school ending, and sad about certain goodbyes that will be made after all of the continuous support I have had this year. Next week will be Papa's birthday. 1 year ago on his birthday-was the last time I saw him. I am dreading school that day. The following week will be the anniversary of his death. I am consumed with emotion, but I'm making myself blog. I must keep writing- always.
I am still here. I am still fighting, and I must keep going. I have already made it this far.
Here' s a look into the life of a living contradiction! Welcome Welcome! Just a college girl trying to create a peaceful life while managing irrational anxiousness. :-)
Mental Health Awareness Month
Monthly Blog Challenge