Just Your Average Sunday of Suffering…

Why do I have to suffer so much? Can I just please minimize my problems in a self-deprecating way and say that others have it so much worse? I have a car, a nice home, a good job, so how could things possibly be bad? Well, I could be dirt poor or super rich too and still suffer the same as I’m suffering now. Depression has nothing to do with socioeconomic status, although, those who have money get the best treatment options. For example, there’s a DBT program (dialectical behaviour therapy) but it would cost me an extra $1,100 per month and that’s just not in my budget. My roommate is listening to something upbeat right now and it’s driving me crazy. I want to tell her to shut it off.

It’s Easter Sunday. Happy Easter, everyone! Well, the “happy” in there is just a figure of speech and well-wishing but it does not apply to my Sunday. I actually made it to a church service, the last of four services offered by my church. It started at 11:30. I cried when the band played the introductory songs. Then during the service, I cried a bit more. Then when I went for prayer at the prayer team at the end of the service I cried a lot more. I told her that I wanted her to pray that my depression doesn’t kill me. She’s obviously experienced with knowledge in this area because the first thing she asked me was, “have you ever attempted?” That was just over six months ago, my last attempt, but I’ve attempted many times before. Her second question was, “Do you have a plan.” I answered “no” and I was being truthful.

There’s a traditional Italian cake called a Colomba and it’s very similar to the Pannetone they have around Christmas and new year’s. My Mum sent me one and that’s literally all I’ve eaten today. I finished off the day, after a long nap which prevented me from self-harming, with some beans, cooked kale and sundried tomatoes mixed together. The rice had gone off so I had to throw that away. Yesterday I stayed in bed all day. From 10:00 PM Friday night to 9:00 AM Monday morning I’ve been out of bed for a cumulative four hours. My back was hurting this morning from having been in bed so much. Being asleep during the day and having nightmares just seemed easier to bear over being awake and having to deal with the reality of being alive.

I didn’t want to die yesterday, but today I was on Twitter and saw an article about a young woman who had suicided. There were photos of the self-harm scars on display and it completely triggered me. I went from wanting to cut myself to thinking about jumping off a bridge or somehow drowning… okay. I’ll stop there. Let me just say that I let my imagination run a bit wild whilst I was texting with the crisis line. They have my name saved because they knew my name without me telling them. I guess I text in for help a lot. Their main concern is that I don’t have a plan that I’m going to carry out immediately and if I do they would try to get me help. It’s mainly just someone to talk with when the most painful and overwhelming emotions are happening.

Now I’m overwhelmed and exhausted just having typed out that last paragraph. I’ve been wanting to write a post all weekend but just haven’t had the energy. I barely have any energy now. But the last time I showered was Wednesday night so that’s one thing I have to make myself do tonight. I don’t know what it is, but in my mind showering is one of the hardest things to get myself to do. The actual act of it isn’t but it’s the stories I tell myself in my mind that make it hard. I would just rather never shower and at the same time, I can’t go to work with a greasy head of hair. I discovered dry shampoo which is amazing, so amazing, but since my last roommate moved out six months ago I haven’t bought any. I would always just use hers, with her permission of course.

I got behind on handwashing dishes so I am running the dishwasher now as they were beginning to pile up high in the sink. I don’t consider having to run the dishwasher a failure, however, I do feel bad that my roommate has to put up with my dirty dishes being in the sink. I do not know how some people are just so diligent about washing a dish right after using it. That almost never happens for me. I just don’t have that kind of motivation, perseverance, diligence, or whatever you want to call it.

I think that’s about enough from me for today. I thank you for attending to my words, my lovely reader, and for being a part of my life for these few moments which you have spent reading my journal entry. Thank you for letting me be a part of your day and I truly wish you all the best. Even though I suffer from depression, I am a loving and caring person. It’s much easier to love other people than myself. That’s why I tell my therapist I love him, because if I can’t love myself then I at least have someone I can love. Everyone needs love in their life.

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A Reflection on Coming Back to the Present Moment

I have just been waiting for this moment, a moment where I can sit down and have the motivation to write a journal entry in my blog. I think about it a lot but the actuality of doing it is more daunting, even cumbersome. So here I am on a Sunday morning drinking French Vanilla coffee from a special mug with my small dog in my lap and laptop off to my side. I can hear birds chirping as I have my patio door open, which typically is a rare occurrence. The weather is so nice outside, I just decided to slide the door open.

These are sensory things, grounding things, things to keep me in the present moment. If I notice what is around me, and follow my senses of touch, taste, sound and smell (am I missing one?) then I can stay in the room. However, my mind wanders and goes to other places, far-off distant lands which have nothing to do with my present surroundings. I suppose that is called dissociation. I can be sitting with my therapist and he can be talking and I won’t have registered any of the sentences because I was still busy in my mind bringing myself back to the present moment. My therapist is kind and patient and he doesn’t mind repeating himself for me.

Last week I was suicidal. That was maybe a week and a half ago actually. When I am feeling suicidal it’s like there is an emergency happening in my mind and there are invisible and silent alarm bells going off in my body telling me that I am in crisis. I can be sitting quietly at my work desk and someone could walk by and not notice anything unusual, whereas in reality I am panicking and frantically texting with the crisis hotline to get help and calm the emotional storm. But that’s really what it is, isn’t it? It’s a big storm, something you really have no control over, but you have to hold onto the fact that it will eventually pass and the waters will be calm again and the clouds will be gone, letting the sunlight shine in. For many years I lived in a fog of dark, dark clouds and the possibility of the sun shining into my being was close to nil. These days, things are different. I still feel suicidal but I seem to be able to get out of that state more quickly than ever in the past.

Just over six months ago I took an overdose to end my life. You see, however, I didn’t really want to end my life as in dying. I wanted to kill myself as a punishment to feed my self-hatred and mostly to end the suffering which consisted of overwhelming emotional pain and a deep sea of sadness. There is more sadness these days in my life than anger. Yesterday, seven years ago, is the day I packed up my car and left my abuser. It was either going to be leaving him or kill myself because I couldn’t go on living like that. I have many memories and at times they are intrusive, and I find it best for me not to verbalize any of those memories, lest they become more real and concrete in my mind to the possibility of retraumatizing me. So these images and memories come up as flashes in my mind which involve the visual aspect of memory as well as thoughts and words associated with that memory. As long as I don’t say any of this out loud then the images will fade away. If I were to describe them it would just extend my discomfort.

Those images, those flashes of memory, used to scare me and make me feel that I was living those moments over again and again. I couldn’t sleep with the light off because many bad things happened to me at night. I have to remind myself even now, that nothing he did to me was ever my fault. He was ill in his mind and the things he did to me were not okay and not normal. The sad thing is though, that it was my normal. I didn’t know any different. I was young and naive and I didn’t believe in divorce. Even though I’m the one who physically left (he changed the locks to our home right away) there was a big part of me that couldn’t imagine life without him. He had controlled every aspect of my life including what I wore and how I got my hair cut. I had no say, and when I did try to refuse or speak up or say no, it would be met with emotional turmoil because, in a sense, he punished me by making me feel bad and by making me believe that everything that happened was my fault and not his.

That’s enough talk of the past. I just realized I was starting to go to a bad place in my mind and I needed to come back to the present. I was verbalizing things from the past which are better left there, in the past. I can hear my dog snoring in my lap, which is very comforting and which I happen to think is adorable. My coffee is now luke-warm but still tastes good. I think I am going to make scrambled eggs for breakfast and of course, I have to use a whole bunch of salted butter, to make it really good! You see? Now I actually have a smile on my face and there is less tension on my cheeks, forehead and eyebrows. I’m back where I need to be, in the present where I can hear the birds singing. My roommate just woke up and her noise will also help keep me in the present.

From suicidal one week to looking to become a first-time homebuyer! Really. Due to circumstances, which is that my landlord wants to sell the place I live to me or to someone else and that I can’t afford it, I have begun to work with a real estate agent. I know nothing about home buying and now I am about to hopefully become an expert at it. I can’t afford much but I am hoping to buy a two bedroom, two bathroom condo. My commute to work will be extended by at least an additional half hour if not more because I cannot afford to live any longer in the central location of town where I live now. So there you have it. I’m thinking about my future whereas just prior to that I didn’t want my future to be continued at all. It’s just that, I don’t actually want to die. I just want the pain and sadness to end. That’s what plagues me. That’s what makes me suffer. That’s what needs to change and I myself need to make that happen. I’m going to keep working hard at it every day and when bad things come up in my mind, I will always do my best to come back to where I am in the now, the present, the reality of things. For memories can seem real but they are not and they are not happening any longer. That’s the hardest thing, to remember they aren’t actually happening when I’m remembering them.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it. You know, very few people read these words that I write yet I appreciate every single person who lets me know they read my journal entry by clicking on the “like” button. It warms my heart that my story, my experience, my words, became a part of your life if only for five or ten minutes whilst you were reading this. Thank you for existing, thank you for being you, thank you for gracing my words with your attention, and I hope your day continues with peace and comfort. Just remember, when you are suffering, you are never alone. Let me say it again: you are never alone.

From Suicidal Back to the World of the Living

I recently reconnected with an old friend or acquaintance whose existence I had forgotten because of ECT’s – electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I was suicidal last week. Really suicidal. Do you have any idea how much energy is sucked out of you when you are suicidally depressed? It takes all the energy you have and you’re lucky if you can spend 12 hours out of 24 hours awake because all you can do is sleep. You sleep because it eases the pain of being alive and experiencing the painful emotions which plague you and which won’t go away. But as always they end up dissipating and going away and then 4 days after you thought you were going to have to go into hospital so they could keep you from making another attempt on your life, you feel differently and all of a sudden life isn’t so difficult any longer. It’s a whirlwind to experience, a major storm in the middle of a deep, dark sea of despair and hopelessness. And the only reason you choose to stay alive is that there is one person who, next to your mother, has never given up on you, and that’s your therapist. I stayed alive for my therapist this week.

I am no longer feeling suicidal and the pain has subsided and now my life is back to the painless nagging worries of how I am going to manage to get five loads of laundry done before Monday comes around. Thank God for my dog, he has saved me so many times. His presence in my life is a Godsend and I am absolutely in love with him. His wheezing loud snoring breaths as he sleeps next to me are comforting and as long as I know that his little 12-pound body is right there next to mine, then everything is right with the world.

When you feel suicidal, that’s because there is something which precipitated those feelings and triggered them. I am well aware of the situation which triggered my suicidal ideation. I made the poor choice of putting myself into an unsafe situation with a man, and that’s all I am going to say about that.

My landlord wants to sell the condo I am renting to me. That means my monthly payments will go up by about $400 which is over $4,000 per year which is a lot. I’m contemplating it but if I don’t buy this place then I will have to move and I’m pretty content where I am right now. I’ve been living here for over three years and I don’t want to move. Wednesday I was going to check myself into the hospital and four days later I am considering buying a home to hold onto for the future. I’m actually thinking about the future now. Isn’t that amazing?

My therapist suggested I join a DBT skills group as a reminder. DBT is Dialectic Behaviour Therapy, it’s a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is very useful for dealing with overwhelming emotions. They teach you skills to use when you get the urge to harm yourself. It has been helpful in the past and I know it would be helpful now. I am thinking about joining a group, I just have to make the actual decision.

Now that I’m not suicidal what shall I do? I could touch the electric keyboard that I haven’t busted out for over a year. I could paint, I could colour with my fabulous gel pens in my adult colouring book which I haven’t touched for a year, I could do some handwriting in my journal… then there’s the practical side of things. I need to get my shoes repaired, have the tires on my car rotated, do laundry, do the cooking for the week because I never have energy during the week to do any cooking… all of these things to do. I never end up doing many of them. Today I am going to church, then going to see a friend for coffee. Back to the world of the living.

Sometimes

Sometimes I just want to shout out. But not Hallelujah. It’s more like, “Aaaaah! Urg. Ugh. Grr. OMFG.” Yeah, that’s what I want to convey. I just can’t stand having mental illness sometimes. I mean, it’s an illness, a real illness and it’s not the same as a physical illness so people don’t always give it credit. Damn the stigma.

I’m travelling up North to see my brother and my Mum is flying in. He’s going through a divorce but we still intend to enjoy the trip. My Mum bought squid ink pasta because I had brought some to her from Italy last year, but do you know how expensive this stuff can be?? It’s crazy expensive and it doesn’t taste much different than regular pasta. It’s a normal thing in an Italian grocery store but not in America.

I’ve been spending a lot of time cultivating my online community on Instagram. It just feels good to connect with people who are also passionate about mental health. I’m not much of a person to pick up a book and read and I definitely don’t spend my time watching television or movies, it just doesn’t interest me. So if I spend my time on Instagram, then so be it.

I’ve started to perform my poetry. I’ve been writing for years and years and now I am finally making it a point to “get out there” and let the world know that I exist. Of course, it always starts small, like at an open mic in my town and my community. But I would like for more people to know about my poetry one day. I happen to think it’s very good! I put my heart and my soul into my poetry and it really consumes my life outside of work.

Work was stressful this week. I didn’t feel suicidal until Thursday but Monday and Tuesday were long and by Tuesday night I was craving alcohol to drown out the noise and depression in my mind. Wednesday I gave in and had a glass of wine at a restaurant that is within walking distance from my home and I got incredibly drunk off of it. Then the next night I had some bubbly at an event. I think I’ve gotten it out of my system now. For the last five weeks straight I have been crying during my therapy hour. It’s like the trauma memories all build up inside of me and then I can release it when I am in a safe space, such as therapy. Thank God for my therapist and God bless him.

I like that I can talk and write without a filter here. I mean, for the most part, my blog is anonymous, meaning I don’t share my given name. Eventually, I might come fully out with my story of past abuse and resulting depression, including many years when I was suicidal every single day. But for now, I just enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts and feelings and my life experience as it unfolds. I am grateful to you, my reader, for soaking in the words I have written and letting it be a part of your experience today. In a way, you are experiencing my experience through my sharing. I think that is a beautiful thing.

My grandmother’s third death anniversary just passed and I didn’t make the time to call my grandfather for the occasion. I should probably call him today. Duty calls (to make a pun). Oh, I’m so punny! I love that expression. Hey, I’m just trying to have fun with words here leading off of a not so happy subject like my grandmother’s death three years ago.

So now both of my grandmothers are gone and I have one grandparent left, on my mother’s side. The word for “maternal grandfather” in Hindi is “Nana” and that’s what we call him. The word for “paternal grandfather” is “Baba” and that is what my cousins call him. It’s not very complicated when that’s what you grew up knowing all of your life.

There is an organization for at-risk youth which I volunteer with a few times a month. Even though it makes for a longer day, working 8 hours and then being with the kiddos for two and a half more hours, it gives me energy. I enjoy it so much that it regenerates my energy and fills me with happiness and hope. This job means so much to me. If entry-level positions in the mental health industry didn’t pay so little, that is what I would be doing full-time. But since I have to pay the bills and rent, I work at a bank. I do pretty good work there too.

Today I have to do laundry, go grocery shopping and maybe to Target to get paper towels and water filters which we are out of. But I’ve literally been putting off some of these tasks for over a month. Every weekend which comes around just wants to be filled with poetry creations and through my art I have no time for practical things such as getting a filter for our drinking water jug.

Right, so now, this is long enough and I bid you farewell until the next time. Thanks for taking the time to be a part of my life experience by reading. Loads of love!

 

 

 

Fear Of Living

I’ve been afraid of writing a blog entry for a while now. I have been imagining that it will take out a lot of energy from me and be exhausting and I wasn’t sure I could spare the energy. As always, so many things are going on in my life. Last year when I was in the hospital I met a man who was a suicidal drug addict, I didn’t know about the drugs at the time. He convinced me to let him into my home and then over a two week period proceeded to spend thousands of dollars of my money on drugs and stupid things like an electric guitar. I finally got him out of my home and now his friend, who gave me money which this guy spent, is threatening to sue me. Oy Veh. That’s the last thing I need right now. But he has no legal recourse over the monies? I have no idea. Oh, God.

Anyway, so I’ve got that going on. My brother is going through a divorce right now and I feel sad for him but I know that he is a strong person and will come out okay on the other end. There are just the technicalities of who gets what upon separation, money-wise, asset-wise, debt-wise. It’s just so complicated and it’s bringing up memories of my own divorce, which was just awful and so emotional for me to go through. Of course, there is a difference here: my brother’s divorce does not involve a history of domestic violence and abuse as mine did. There I said it. It’s out in the open.

Now what. What else? I’ve been really into my poetry. This is what has been keeping me afloat. Keeping me grounded. Keeping it real. My world of poetry saves me. When I finish writing a poem, I feel accomplished. Any time I do anything with my poetry, whether it’s making art out of my poetry, or anything really, I feel joy. Speaking of joy, I spent 30 minutes this morning reading a book out loud in Italian. That is a language which brings me joy.

So even though I have all of these difficult things going on in my life, it is possible to find a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been sick and out of work for the last week and so I have lost a lot of money. Thank God I have just enough money to survive right now but I’ll never be rich, especially not if I want to be a writer or a therapist. I haven’t written in any of my blogs lately, not at all. I have been silent, mute. The only thing about this blog is that I can write in a stream-of-consciousness manner without holding back, just as it comes to my mind so it gets written onto virtual paper. There is a certain process that the mind goes through which is different when you write out your thoughts versus just thinking them, wouldn’t you agree?

So what am I supposed to do with my life? Keep my job, focus on happiness? There’s a man who is interested in me and I’m so hesitant because I’ve been hurt too many times before and deeply wounded. Because my first marriage was such a co-dependent relationship, I would have to say I’m a virgin at relationships. I don’t even know what it takes to have a healthy relationship! What am I going to do about that? Go into something new and unknown head-on? I don’t think so! Caution is a must.

So I just titled this post, “Fear Of Living.” All of these difficult things makes life difficult to live. Does that mean I can’t move forward? Not necessarily. But it makes me want to deal with the difficult things less and less, and the less regard I pay to the difficult things the more urgent and looming they seem upon me. Like there is that $1,000 hospital bill that I have six months left to figure out how to pay. Well, that just sucks big time. I don’t fucking know what to do about it. I just swore because swearing is one way to get out anger and frankly, hospital bills make me feel angry. Angry with myself, angry with the system, angry with the world, and most of all, angry with my ex-husband for abusing me and getting me in this mess of mental illness and suicidal depression in the first place.

I am okay now ~ a reflection.

Mindfulness Meditation. It’s what I just now attempted to do. I managed it for a whole ten minutes by focusing on my breath. When my mind wanders, gently bring it back to my breath. According to Dan Siegel, a wonderful psychiatrist and researcher who has written several books, we can rewire our brain and our neural networks just by practising focused attention. If I am not in tune with my emotions, or if my emotions are overwhelming and dysregulated, I can practice mindfulness and eventually that practice, even if it’s only five minutes a day, will help me, in the long run, to be more aware of what is going on inside. Dan Siegel calls it “the sea inside.

I am drinking hot tea. I have delicious-smelling candles on. Today is Sunday. Instead of going to church, I decided to cook steel-cut oatmeal, which takes about half an hour to cook, and I opted for my mindfulness practice to be my church today. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and calm. Sometimes being around lots of people, albeit that they are friendly and smiling, can be, well, just not the right thing at that time. We are all different and we all have different needs. Today my need was turning inward and spending time with myself. It really feels good. I even watered my plants today! That’s a huge accomplishment because it doesn’t often get done. My avocado plant which I grew from seed is about a foot and a half tall and over half a year old. I am very proud of this accomplishment.

Dan Siegel also talks about “the rim of awareness.” This is in his book called “Mindsight,” which I am listening to. It is read by the author himself. The rim of awareness is like a bicycle wheel. There is the outer rim, then the spokes, which are like our different thoughts, and then the inner circle which is the “hub.” I think of the hub as my safe place. Right now my focus is on feeling safe, and if that means I need to sleep twelve hours a day because it feels safer than experiencing my strong emotions, then so be it. I used to get very angry with myself for oversleeping. There was a time in my life when I have slept and stayed in bed for 22 hours a day, multiple days in a row. Now I am not so depressed and this sleeping a lot is still a protective measure and a defence mechanism. I am defending myself against the difficult thoughts and emotions which come up.

Now that I have been in therapy for over ten years, well, I have a better understanding of the sea inside. I can name my emotions. Another saying in psychology is, “name it to tame it.” It’s true. If you can identify and put words and a name to your emotions, then it gives those emotions less power by the simple blessing of your greater awareness. It’s a powerful thing, awareness, conscious awareness and focused attention.

In my mind, it has been many years since I left the man who had abused and controlled me for almost a decade of my life. I left him in 2012, not knowing whether I could survive without him because he made sure I depended on him entirely, in every aspect, and also knowing that I would not survive another day living with him because I was extremely suicidal and had attempted to take my life several times already. I am safe now. I have to remind myself that no one is abusing me. No one is criticising me or putting me down. No one is telling me what to do. No one is making me do things I don’t want to do. No one is hurting me on the inside or on the outside, physically. I pray to God that he protects my mind, my soul, my body and my spirit. I pray that I remain safe and that the nightmares don’t come back. He has been in my dreams lately, occasionally, but he no longer scares me. I have my power back. I have the power I always knew I had but was too afraid to exert.

I am okay now. I just have to keep telling myself that. Sometimes I feel not okay, and those times are difficult to get through. As my therapist always reminds me, “feelings come and go but I remain.” It works every time he tells me that. It’s like a mantra which gives me comfort and reminds me that I don’t have to let my emotions take over and control me. I get to choose to be okay and I am choosing to be safe.

 

New Year’s Hopes

It’s the new year. I could say I have been waiting for this day to come, but I haven’t. It just came. But I am more than just surviving. I am thriving. At least, that’s what I would like to think. I’ve been back at work for three weeks now. After a leave of absence of three months, being back and even doing well is quite remarkable.

Today is a sunny day. It’s nice. I hope that it will be a sunny year. We often think of bad things, like how I spend more than I make and that that is a problem. But bad things aside, there is room for hope. I hope that I never have to go to the hospital again. I hope that I don’t have any more suicidal episodes. I hope that I can just live my life. “Speranza” is the word in Italian for “hope” and it pops into my mind now and then.

April 13 of this year will have been the seven-year anniversary since I left my abusive ex-husband. Seven years is a long time, actually. Then it will be ten, then twenty, and I’ll have made such a meaningful life for myself that I won’t even have to look back at what was. Of course, there will be a day, I know it, I’m sure of it, that I won’t feel the need to count the years or give any credence or energy to the fact that the anniversary of my departure has gone by. I’ll just be living my life.

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately. I honestly don’t know if my poetry will ever actually get published, but I am okay with that. I share my poetry with people I care about and occasionally I will hear back on how much they appreciated reading my poem. Appreciation goes a long way. Other than poetry, I haven’t actually been writing a lot and I know I need to get back to it. I have my leather-bound journal that I write in occasionally, but the two blogs I have running have been rather neglected. I love being able to express myself with words. The written word is something very special. It’s not like oration, not one bit.  You get to put a little bit more thought into something that is written but not said.

I am feeling hopeful. The emphasis is on the “am.” As in, I am. I am and I will be and I will just be. I want to exist. I want to be here, on this earth, living my life. No one is telling me what to do, and I am in charge of my own life. After a lifetime, it seemed, of having every aspect of my life controlled, the feeling of having control of my own destiny is quite remarkable too. How do I describe this feeling? It’s a feeling of satisfaction, of comfort, of self-worth. Can self-worth be a feeling? I know it’s a state of being so I’ll include it in my “feeling” category.

I know I’m going to be okay. I just know it. My dog has been with me for a year and a half already. Every day I walk him, I feed him, and I pet him. I give of myself to him and for me this is healing. Doing everyday things is healing and it’s a part of building my life. If I can just keep on doing everyday things, with calm and peace, then those days will become months and then years, and then a whole lifetime. What am I going to do with my life? Am I going to have children of my own? I still have some time for that left. A lot can happen in five years, and in five years I will be forty years old. From a certain perspective, that’s quite young still. That means that I still have my “whole” life ahead of me. So many things can happen in the decades to come. I just want to be a part of it. I choose to be an active part of my own life. I choose to live. I choose life.

Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

You are worthy. You are so incredibly worthy. You matter. You matter to me. You matter to your Mum and your brother and your other family and friends. You are compassionate. You are caring. You make a positive difference in other people’s lives just by existing. Your existence brings joy to your mother. You used to be her baby and you are still her child even though you are all grown up. She loves you.

Your therapist cares for you. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have been there for you, regardless of your ability to pay him or not, every week for ten years. He has always been there for you. It’s okay to feel angry at people you love. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to feel whatever you are feeling and to have those feelings be validated.

Here is what your girlfriend said to you recently, let’s memorialize it once and for all: You are beautiful, inside and out. You are intelligent. You are intuitive. You are compassionate. You are giving of your time and love. You are also worthy in every respect.

It’s easy to forget these things when you are feeling down and depressed. It’s not always possible to control your depression but you can take steps to have a more positive outlook. You can remind yourself that you are worthy and that you matter. When you feel like taking your own life know that this feeling will pass. Feelings are there to inform us, and we don’t have to act on them. Practise opposite action and do something nice for yourself when you don’t feel like practising kindness to yourself.

Remember your GRAPES from CBT: Gentle with Self, Relaxation, Accomplishment, Pleasure, Exercise and Social. Remember that doing something in each of these categories every day actually does help. Plan it out at the beginning of the day and try to keep that plan in mind. Remember to take deep breaths and let your belly expand. Don’t just breathe with your chest. Use your gut. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do this.

You are strong. You are resilient. You have been through so much worse. You have overcome some of the darkest of times. You are who you are and nothing less. Who you are is everything and you are everything that matters. You are the best you that you can be. Your existence, your well-being is paramount and your survival means everything. Each day that you live you bring hope to others. Each day that you live you bring meaning to the lives of those who were not so fortunate and who lost their battle with depression.

Remember that depression is an illness and you can fight it. You have the tools. Rely on the people around you. Reach out and do not isolate yourself. Pick up the phone and call someone. If you are still reading, then you have proven to yourself that you don’t have to act on your feelings. You can use distractions. You can remind yourself that you are loved, and how much you are loved. Don’t forget that God loves you too. Prayer can help and there is no set way to do it. You can pray however you want and whenever you want. The Lord is here to help you.

With lots of love,

Me

In Recovery – It’s a Process

It has been over two months since my last suicide attempt. I had overdosed on one of my medications. Luckily, there was a part of me which didn’t want to die, and I texted a friend who immediately called 9-1-1. The ambulance showed up right away and it was six weeks of inpatient hospitalization after that. I was released mid-October and I have been in recovery ever since. I have made some poor decisions during this time as an outpatient, but have also remedied the bad results of those poor decisions.

You know, I just want a normal life. I just want a normal life. What does that look like? To me, that looks like working 40 hours per week and then doing things that normal people do. That is, not what depressed people do. In depression, all I want to do is to sleep. Part of what they teach us in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is to practice “opposite action.” That means that as much as I want to pull the covers over my head, I choose to do something else instead. Sometimes sleeping 12 to 20 hours a day doesn’t feel like a choice. It feels as if it is happening to me. It doesn’t feel as if it’s something that I am choosing to do. But the fact is, one always has choices. When I am feeling depressed, I usually choose to do what depressed people do, not what non-depressed people do.

Depression sucks the energy from you. It leaves you feeling worn out, exhausted and exasperated. It is relentless and negativity reigns all of the time. Negative thoughts and a negative outlook on life and your future are not uncommon. Hopelessness sinks in and you barely have the energy to move from the bed to the couch, let alone to take out your dog for a five-minute potty break.

I want to do things that living people do. It’s not that I am dying, but when I feel depressed it is as if my spirit is dying inside of me. I want to have the energy to do things, like drive somewhere pretty to go for a walk outside in nature or to have coffee with a friend at an actual coffee shop rather than at home. Living people stay connected with their friends and loved ones. I will tell you, I am trying really hard at this. I am making a concerted effort to text message and WhatsApp message friends and family whom I know that care about me. I want them to know how I’m doing and I’m not into posting things like that on social media, so it just takes more effort to stay connected.

Before I was admitted into the hospital, that is, before my suicide attempt, my energy was at an all-time high. I felt invincible and felt as if I could do anything, including taking the world upon my shoulders. I wanted to start a non-profit organization, do poetry readings around my community, find and interview for a new job, take some college classes, do my regular volunteer job while still working full-time and so much more. I was doing all of those things simultaneously and my energy was going in all sorts of directions. There was no one thing which I was focused on. I was all over the place. In spite of having had 11 ECT’s (Electro-Convulsive Therapy affects mostly short-term memory), I remember what this time back in August was like. It was like being on a high, high on something, high on life. My mind was spinning and I thought anything could be possible. I talked with people and got them to buy into my great/grandiose ideas.

Now that time is over and I can reflect back. I am two states away from my home, visiting my mother and her husband in a very rainy part of the country. The day is gloomy and you sure appreciate sunny days like yesterday. I am on holiday. This is a vacation away from the loneliness which encompasses my time at my home. My roommate moved out in September and I have been paying the whole rent on my own since then. All I have is my dog. The people around me don’t always have time for me. I have to learn to love myself even when I am alone. Rupi Kaur, my favourite modern poetess, says that if you are feeling lonely, “you are in desperate need of yourself.” I completely agree.

In my CBT course, I am not allowed to ingest any substances including alcohol. Here at my Mum’s home, I have broken the rule. I better not tell anyone lest I get into big trouble. However, I only have two more weeks of that course left before I have to go back into the “real” world and resume my 40 hours a week of work. It’s going to be okay, right? Yes. I have to tell myself that. I have to tell myself that everything is going to be okay and have a positive outlook on the future. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have much. I have to remember that I am valued. Being with my Mum, I feel so worthy, like a worthy human being. She pays so much attention to me and gives me everything that I need including just the right amount of delicious foods. It’s Thanksgiving week and I just want to enjoy being okay right now.

Second Day Back in the ICU

I was supposed to be in training this weekend for children’s volunteer bereavement training with a local hospice organization. I feel badly for not being there and for not having notified the coordinator. However, maybe it was meant to be that I did not do that endeavor.

I told the nurse staff that my goal today is to not act out so that I can get out of the ICU. My one-on-one for the AM shift seems pretty nice. I want to do what the floor staff do. They are good at their jobs and they don’t put up with shit.

It’s lunch time. I am sitting with a lady who has an eating disorder and who hasn’t eaten food for five days since she got in here. I encouraged her to eat some of the carrot and celery that I was eating. She ate and then thanked me.

I’m not feeling particularly profound right now. I simply am trying just to make it to tomorrow without hurting myself. I was in tears last night. What the nurses said was not comforting but eventually the Ativan kicked in. I felt like I had screwed everything up in my life and that I don’t know what to do with my future. This and the false notion that no one cares about me was causing me a myriad of anxiety last night.

My stomach is not full and it hurts. I have been eating but not much. To compensate  I have been consuming liquids. My goal is to not get fatter while  I am inpatient. It’s not like I eat very well when I am on the outside either.

I don’t want to go into my room. I don’t want to stay at this bench with no back support. I don’t want to join group on the patio and I hell of don’t want to be in the day room with all of its fake fluorescent lighting and sterile environment. Being in the ICU is a no-win situation. They don’t even offer yoga mats to sit on the ground. The only good things are that there are more staff and that I can be kept safe.

I have not had any profound revelations today. In fact, not much has happened. I slept for a couple of hours this afternoon and I was very tired. I think it was after I took Ativan for my anxiety. After dinner I had a nice conversation with a woman who is a quarter Italian and I think she said her family is from Piacenza.

I can’t believe I’ve been hospitalized for two weeks now. Once I get out I never want to come back as a patient. I don’t like any of the male patients here. They all scare me. I try to not interact with any of them at all. I wonder what the doctor and me are going to be talking about when he comes. I haven’t tried to hurt myself today yet. Not once.

I look in the mirror and I see a face. That face is neither bold nor timid. It just is. It’s not an angry face but it is a tired face. Being in the Intensive Care Unit is not energizing. It can be exhausting. Every once in a while you make a connection with another patient and it helps to pass the time. Sleeping helps too. I have been on Ambien for the last few nights and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I don’t like being forced to feel drowsy and I believe it has been giving me bad dreams.

I haven’t been recording my dreams in my journal. My doctor believes that I have regressed in my treatment. I think he thinks I’m wasting my time because in his eyes I am not moving forward in my treatment. He tells me that I like staying ill and being the victim. It makes me angry that he says those things because my ex-husband always accused me of “playing the victim,” whereas he was the true victim to my manipulations in his mind. I wish my doctor would just arrive already for our session so I wouldn’t have to think of this anymore.

There are so many people in the day room watching Bruce Almighty tonight. It is affolato (crowded) and so I am finding space for myself in my room, which I share with a lady who constantly sleeps. She only gets out of bed at mealtime.