A Discussion About Mental Illness

I suffer from mental illness. Also known as mental injuries. Those injuries are depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It makes me different from other people. It sets me apart in that life seems just more difficult than it would otherwise without those illnesses. Every person is unique. We all have “mental health” but not everyone has a mental illness. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s not exactly desirable.
What do I think of this? I’m sure a lot of people have mental health “issues” but staying in bed for 48 hours straight on the weekend feels somewhat debilitating. That is just one way my illness manifests itself. I have a lot of respect for people who work in the mental health field, such as my therapist and my psychiatrist. It takes a lot of compassion to work with people who have mental injuries that are chronic.
Then there are the crying spells. I do have times where I just need to cry to release the sadness. It’s a release of negative energy which has built up over time. But then again, I’m not the only person who can cry after watching a sad movie, right? I recently watched the movie “I am Sam” and cried twice throughout the movie. There were some very sad parts, and the sadness spills into my personal life and my emotions that I have just about daily living.


Sometimes living is hard. Sometimes I would rather be dead. But I know there are a lot of people who know me who would rather see me live my life, preferably a productive (meaning, happy) life, and I try to live up to those expectations. It takes a lot of patience, which I don’t always have. When life is going well I dream a lot of things about my future, such as buying a condo one day or going back to school.
Living takes a lot of grit. No one ever said life would be easy, and it really isn’t! It’s hard. We get tired, overworked, exhausted emotionally and physically, and then we have to recover. But living with a mental illness takes just a little bit more effort than it would for the average person to get through each and every day.


Being suicidal takes an enormous amont of effort and energy. With suicidality comes a lot of anxiety, anxious feelings that are intrusive and interfere with whatever else is going on at the moment. When I am suicidal I can’t work, I just sit at my desk making plans for ending my life and finding comfort in the fact that my life could end soon, that the emotional pain would soon go away. Suicide is not selfish, it’s an act of desperation to end emotional pain. If you ever come across a suicidal person, just listen and be there. No special words are needed, except your presence and for them to feel like they are not alone. Luckily I haven’t been suicidal for a number of months now. I am just living my life day to day doing the best that I can.

Just Another Day

I’m sitting upright on my bed with my back supported by a pillow as I type this. Piano music is playing from my phone. Ah, the wonders of modern technology where things like surreptitious music are but a finger swipe away. Some kind of Nocturne is playing and I’m wondering if it’s Chopin. It’s a familiar melody as I’ve listened to this Pandora Radio station many-a-time. My bedroom isn’t my only sanctuary. My home and private space extends into the kitchen which looks out onto the dining nook, filled by an upright piano, and the spacious living room of which a $3,500 couch takes up a copious amount of space because it boasts a queen pull-out bed. Behind the light moss green couch, a colour which I specifically selected, are a couple of dark bookshelves packed with books and my cast iron teapot set which I use once a year for fun. I would never again spend such money on a couch, of all things, but at the time, I was not worried about money. These days, worries of money pass in and out of my consciousness like an ever-present cloud of rain.


This is the life I have made for myself, chosen for myself, won for myself. This is not the life I had on the other side of the state, where I was far from family in a place I had forced myself to call home for over fifteen years, working several underpaid jobs, stressed out by the workload, underappreciated and torn by the remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe clinical depression. I would say that I still suffer at times, but much less so. Torments of the past and extreme states of emotional distress have left my life almost completely. My depression takes the form of entire weekends spent in bed, whilst still managing to feed and walk my dog, a necessity of the life of being a dog mom. When I adopted him five years ago I committed myself to the responsibility of taking care of him. Though he is aging, he is still a spry 11-year-old chihuahua mix and at 10 pounds if he doesn’t listen to me, which is often the case due to poor training and a diminished sense of hearing, I can pick him up and bring him to me. Last night he had his monthly bath. He hates baths but oh, I am such a proud dog mom to say the least, as he is finally clean again! What a wondrous sight and smell. He was beginning to smell a bit like wet dog smells when he wasn’t even wet. I can’t manage to bring myself to bathe him more than once a month due to my depression. If I were a good dog mom I would bathe him at least twice a month due to his consistent allergies. Now he has arthritis to add to the mix, for which he will have to take special medication, hidden in between a “pill pop” flavoured like chicken that I got at the vet’s office today. Dogs are expensive and any pet owner can relate. Vet visits add up quickly. He’ll have to have a chest x-ray due to his heart murmur before we can decide whether his little body could tolerate the anesthesia required to get his teeth cleaned, for he has also been diagnosed with mild periodontal disease. 


Friends of a distant past have moved from my former home to Bali, Indonesia, where the wife of my photographer friend awaits giving birth to their first child. This friend sent me a photo and a video of her engorged, naked breasts. They were very tastefully and artfully depicted in the images. While this may not be a “normal” sort of thing for friends to exchange, I once posed nude for this photographer. We created a collage of artful and very explicit nudes of my then 115 pounds of flesh. I weigh much more than that now and would never get in front of a camera like that again. But in those days I was not afraid of nudity, nor was I a stranger to sexual escapades while I was being taunted by a narcissist who sexually exploited me to a degree which to some, would be unfathomable. I am happy for this couple, my friends of a still-distant past. It’s strange that I’ve remained in touch with them in spite of leaving everything else from that time period behind.


I’ve often dreamed of a different life for myself. Not the life of the 25-year-old new bride who dreamed of being a mom with two children behind a white picket fence. But a life which includes the trauma, now healed, and of being of service to others. I tried one semester of graduate school only to discover to my dismay that it was not good timing. When will it ever be the right time to go to school to become a psychotherapist? Perhaps never, perhaps, one day, when I am fully healed and suicide attempts are a thing of my distant past.


My last suicide attempt was in January of this year. I was so sure, absolutely certain, that killing myself was the right idea. I had come up with a brilliant strategy to complete my impending death sentence, one that I had never thought of before, only to chicken out at the very last millisecond. I ended up hospitalized for the requisite 72 hours, which were torturous because of the way hospital staff treated me, or should I say, county mental health staff. County mental health is notorious for being bad. After I got out my brother took care of me for two days and those days were lovely. It felt nice to be cared for, before I had to submit myself back to the daily grind, sometimes excruciating grind, of being at work five days a week and “pretending” to be okay.


The piano music is still playing and my dryer from a load of laundry is humming in the background. My hair is so long and voluptuous that after a shower, the weight of my wet hair is not well-held-up by one single hair band. I am wearing a baseball hat, so-to-speak, to keep my hair up and off of my back. My hair stretches all the way down to my waist and I normally wear it in a braid to my side, with my hair parted in the middle. That is my “look” every day of the week at work. They rarely see my hair flowing freely at the office.


I had my obligatory weekly shower. I don’t know why, but showering for me is difficult. Survivors of sexual assault and chronic sexual abuse often find showering difficult and unpleasant. Once I’m in the shower, I’m fine, but it’s the “idea” of the shower which assaults my placid mind which makes me want to vomit. Something about being naked, in the nude, in the buff, whatever you want to call it, something about that gets to me and it’s not something I can take for granted as many people do.


Well, this is a window to my world. My therapist, who has stuck by me for over a decade of weekly sessions, five years of which were pro bono and unpaid, has been on vacation for a week. I will finally get to see him again this weekend. I’ve been doing so well that we will often skip weeks at a time, or at least see each other every other week instead of weekly. There was a time in my life back in 2012 whence I was so incredibly suicidal and unable to work, that I would see him three times a week just to keep myself alive and from killing myself. Because inevitably, as all my attempts at my life have been, another attempt would be unsuccessful and land me in the hospital for a number of weeks. I had so many hospital visits and bills that I filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Seven years have almost passed by since then and the bankruptcy will finally exit its doleful place on my credit score report. Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to buy a home: a nice little two-bedroom condominium where my mom can stay in her elderly years. That’s my dream. She took care of me for most of my life, still does to a degree, and I owe it to her to give back to her what she gave to me: self-sacrifice.


It’s almost bedtime now. I walked on the treadmill for an hour this evening. I manage to do that once every few weeks at best, given that one out of the hundred residents of my complex could be using the gym at any given moment as well, and often the treadmill is taken. Because of Covid, only one person at a time is allowed to use the tiny gym anyway. So it’s time to say goodbye. The effects of the red wine are wearing off and I occupied my mind whilst cooking dinner tonight by listening to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” It’s a book which causes me to reflect on my life as it stands today, and on my past. I am really enjoying the listening. I finally got a library card because buying audio books and Kindle books was becoming an expensive habit.


I am in rare form tonight. I actually have energy. Not the sort of boundless energy one could attribute to a 20-something-year-old, but energy enough to sustain me, rather than having to feel the need to go to bed hours before my necessary bedtime. My brother inadvertently mocked me for going to bed at 7 PM one night, asking if I was a baby. I quickly changed the subject but I was hurt and I know he will be able to hear my complaint one of these days, to repair that minor damage to our relationship. Does he not know that I spend entire weekends in bed doing nothing but sleeping?


I just got up to use the restroom as my bladder wasn’t having this typing anymore, and I was delighted to use my bidet. This is a bidet installation to a regular toilet that my brother so lovingly and painstakingly installed when I moved into this apartment almost a year ago. If and when I ever move, I’ll have to get him to uninstall the bidet, as I am not adept at such very specific manual tasks which require a lego-like minded assembly motif to the instructions that come with the gadget. Mind you, my Mum did buy me pink legos when I was young, and I enjoyed assembling those buildings, as per the instructions. But those days are long since over and my patience wanes.


“Pure Imagination,” which played in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is playing right now in the form of a piano composition. The melody is familiar although I haven’t watched that movie since childhood. I’ll get my obligatory eight hours of sleep tonight, though sometimes it wickles down to seven hours, in order to be able to function tomorrow. I can’t imagine functioning on less than seven hours of sleep though some people do it regularly. I don’t know how. Tomorrow I’ll send emails to clients, and be the detail-oriented me I know how to be. I’ll service the clients of our financial firm that were assigned to me, and I’ll prepare for upcoming meetings. I won’t call in sick, though I think about it almost every morning when faced with the prospect of having to go to work, particularly on Mondays. I’ll do my once-a-week grocery shopping trip to Trader Joes, get frozen meals for lunch at work and try to buy some fruit and vegetables since those are supposedly good for the constitution. And then I’ll have another mostly peaceful evening, perhaps punctuated by another glass of red wine, although I’ve been trying to curb my drinking habit as of late. But a bottle of red is open, so why not finish it off? And so the cycle continues. And so life continues, my life, specifically. I’m not dead yet and I am aware that death inevitably comes to us all one day. But for now, I am alive, and I’ll keep living until there is no more life to be lived.

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a secret that I keep hidden from most people. The secret is that I am dirty. I am being completely honest. When I rub my skin, just so, little remnants of dark substance come off of me and I rub it in between my thumb and forefinger into a little ball of… dirt. My aunt, whom I love and trust, tells me this is normal. It’s basically dead skin. We are human, and our body replenishes itself, including our skin. Our skin sheds, and new skin cells are formed. If we get a cut on our skin, our body heals itself. So I am not dirty, she says. I am just human.

I met my abuser when I was 12 years old. We had a class together. He was two years my senior. We reconnected after he graduated high school and started dating. The fact that my Mum didn’t like him made me want to date him more. The fact that I didn’t have a father after the age of three made it to where I didn’t know what a healthy relationship with a male counterpart should look like. I wanted to wait until I was 17 before we had sex for the first time, and my first time ever. He had other plans. Some might call it statutory rape because the age of consent is 18 in the state of California.

Many years later I fantasized about going back to that year and having him committed to jail for the statutory rape. Many years later I fantasized about having taken the external hard drive from our home that we later shared and giving it to the police, as it would have him committed to jail for possession of child pornography. Many years later, after undergoing years of sexual abuse, I fantasize about getting a gun and shooting him. Rage could define where I am at right now with my understanding of what has happened to me in my life. But many years later, I also still think that I am dirty, because men had sex with me while I was drunk and not able to consent to sex. Not once, but for six years.

At times I keep my fingernails long enough so that when I am in the shower, the seldom miraculous occurrence of a shower a week that happens, I stand there under the hot water scraping off the dead skin, off of my inner thighs, my chest, my neck, my arms, my bum, wherever I can reach, just scraping off dirt from my body, as it catches and collects under my fingernails. It’s proof to me that I am dirty, the fact that dead skin that looks like dirt, accumulates under my nails. I wash it clean and do it over and over again. I am dirty. I am dirty. I am dirty. And no matter how long the shower runs, wasting hot water, no matter how much dirt I get off of my body, there is always more.

Imagine how much dead skin needs to be cleared off of your body if you don’t shower more than once a week. I dread showers. I dread the nakedness, my fat, ugly body, appearing in front of the mirror as I make my way to the shower stall in my bedroom bathroom. I dread having wet hair for a night. I have really really long hair, it goes all the way down to my bum. Why don’t I get my hair cut? Rebellion! My abuser would always come with me to my hair appointments and tell the hair dresser how to cut and style and dye and highlight my hair. Never again! I get to have my hair as long as I damn well please. And it’s going to stay long, thank you very much. I’ve also thought about chopping it all off, which would be the polar opposite of what it is now.

So that’s my secret. My secret is that I am dirty. I can’t get off of my psyche the memories of decrepit man after sorry man raping me, not knowing even that I was not able to consent. He would always get me drunk, my abuser. “You’re more fun when you’re drunk” really translated to “I can get you to do my bidding.” My abuser? He’s alive and well, I would assume. There hasn’t been any contact since I left him nine years ago. I left him but he filed for divorce. Thank God! But really, he should be getting ass-raped in prison at this time. One can only dream and fantasize.

Struggles = Cuddles and Self Care

It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself to put words in written form to my experience. My dog is laying by me and asking for pets. Really, this whole month has been a struggle, from beginning to end. I don’t like my job any longer. There’s too much to do at work and there is only one of me. I am struggling so much. Every day is a huge labor of I don’t know what because it certainly isn’t a labor of love. Help me, God… is anyone out there? Can anyone hear me? So, that’s pretty much how I feel.

I should be posting on my Patreon site right now, my monthly subscribers are due for a post but I just cannot bring myself to do it. Why why why. Dinner? Three pita breads with olive spread and some organic grapes. That’s all I could manage to do for myself. Thank goodness for frozen meals for my lunches at work. Tomorrow will be a long day and I am not looking forward to it. Sometimes, like right now, I wish I could just sleep all day. I would do it if I had the time and I’ve done it before. But my therapist wants me to get to church and schedule other activities. I’m supposed to act opposite to what my depressive behaviours are telling me.

I really don’t want to do anything right now. I barely even want to be writing. But I can finish this paragraph, and then see if another one starts. Sometimes you just have to take it step by step and do what they call “baby steps” until you get there, whatever the “there” for you is. In this case, getting “there” is the end of the day and here I am, thankfully, very grateful.

My Amazon Alexa is playing meditation music in the background and that is helping. My dog is snoring. I have twinkle lights on in my room which look very pretty and lend enough light to where I don’t have to have any other lights on. I wish I could stay in this environment all day long. Alas, tomorrow is another workday. I just hate my job. I should be looking for new jobs but you know the funny thing is, at the end of the day, I just don’t have the energy. I don’t have any energy to apply to new jobs and the few I’ve applied for have not selected me for interviews. Can we do this again? Let’s do today all over again and I’ll still be wishing for eternal sleep…

My New DBT Therapist and Using My Skills

I haven’t written about or put words on my experience for several months. I’ve just been experiencing depression. For example, right now it’s 8:30 PM. I just got home from an hour-long therapy session. “Normally” (as in what I’ve been doing these last months) I would go right to bed. Forget having any energy to write about my thoughts and my feelings. But right now I am going to try to verbalize what is going on in my mind. In fact, this is actually quite challenging because I am fighting the urge right now to want to stop writing and go to bed. The idea of going to bed even though I am not too tired is very appealing. Homework. I’ll look at this as homework. I’m doing work. This is work.

In the past, I could never have imagined even considering to see a new therapist. My attachment with my therapist of the last 11 years is incredibly strong. Since then I have grown a lot, and part of that growth is having more strength. I am more resilient now than I have been in the past and that is why, I think, I am okay with having a new therapist. Plus, this won’t be forever. I am going to work with my new therapist for maybe about six months, and hopefully, I will have learned enough DBT skills to be able to be skilful enough not to need DBT therapy any longer. I actually much prefer receiving psychodynamic therapy. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a type of cognitive behaviour therapy and in therapy, you talk about things differently. Instead of experiencing a thought, you word things in the way of, “I am having the thought that…” and then you name your thought. It helps create distance between you and that thought. The same principle goes for feelings.

My new therapist wanted me to do some homework actually. That’s a part of DBT is that you do work in between the sessions so that you learn to use the skills more effectively and so that, once practised enough, the skills will be available to you when you really need them. Last week I was stuck on not wanting to employ skills when I was feeling suicidal and having thoughts of escape (that’s another way to word “suicidal thoughts”). The skill of using pros and cons can be applied here. What would be some pros of using skills when I am feeling suicidal? The most apparent to me would be that I could possibly experience less suffering. That’s huge. What would be a con of using the skills? My thought is that I could potentially feel even more suicidal. But I don’t know that until I’ve practised the skill.

My dog is really annoying me right now. He is licking his paws. That is something that dogs do. It worked when I told him to stop but I get it… he has anxiety too and he is just trying to find a way to calm himself down or comfort himself. He’s a dog. Dogs lick things. Dogs lick bedsheets and people’s bare arms and bare feet and their paws and their toys, just about anything they can get their tongue on. Now I’m putting words onto my thoughts so that they don’t bother me. I could get annoyed with my dog or I could express understanding of his experience as a dog and therefore create a form of empathy and understanding on my end as his dog mom.

I took a break just now from talking about feeling suicidal by talking about my dog. I put words on my current experience, that with my dog, by using the skill “describe” and “notice” and “observe.” I also paid attention to some of my five senses: I could see what my dog was doing, I could feel him by petting him and the fact that he is sitting on my lap, I feel the weight of his mere 12 pounds, and I could hear him doing his dog thing, like grumbling while he was licking himself.

So my homework is to do pros and cons of using my skills. My therapist said I could have a picture on my phone of something that is meaningful to me. The only thing I could think of during my therapy session would be a picture of my dog. The example my therapist gave was if someone was trying to postpone the behaviour of doing drugs, they would look at a photo of their child, who is a reason for them not to do drugs. Here, of course, we are talking illicit drugs I think. So, there you go. But instead of a picture, I need to come up with a phrase. So my phrase will be, “the reason to use my DBT skills will be to reduce my suffering so that I can continue to create more of a life worth living.” Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT, used the phrase “a life worth living” and I like that phrase. Apparently, some people don’t like that phrase but I really like it because I’ve heard it before and have attached myself to it. I want to live a life that is worth living instead of experiencing continual suffering. Feelings come and go and I remain. That’s a phrase I will never forget, which my former therapist taught me. The concept of impermanence. Things always come and go yet I remain. People will come and go yet I remain. I remain. I remain and I am still here.

More On My Inpatient Experience

I am about to have my hearing with a court official. A lady who is a patient advocate came and spoke with me. She is going to speak on my behalf. I’m a little bit scared because the prospect of speaking with a court official is daunting. I’m so glad that I live in America. I think that the health system, especially for mental health, is better here than it is in the U.K., for example. Even the ability to have a court hearing is amazing.

An older, retired couple is coming to visit me at noon today. The doctor said that the levels of my liver went up today, which I guess is not good. My poo has been black, which is the charcoal they made me drink right after the overdose. I can’t believe that it’s five days later and the charcoal is still in my system. It was so disgusting to drink. Let me say one thing though: I think I’m glad to be alive right now. Had I died, my mother and my brother would have been devastated. You can’t recover from something like that, when someone close to you dies of suicide. I don’t know and cannot know what it’s like because it hasn’t happened to me, but I can imagine. I can imagine.

Now I’m just waiting. I don’t know if I will feel like typing this up later for my blog. My new roommate, Olga, is making her bed and straightening her things. There are some construction workers directly outside of the window so we have the curtains closed and the light on, instead of using the daylight. Honestly, right now, I am just waiting for my hearing and I am curious to know what the result will be, whether I’ll get to leave or not.

I am on a 14-day hold and I have 11 days left. That does not mean that I have to stay all 11 days if the doctor deems it safe for me to go home. I did not win my court hearing. The court official ruled that I am still a danger to myself and that I need to stay in the hospital. There is something called a writ of Habeas Corpus and it’s a hearing in the actual courthouse. To me it’s not worth it and I know I just have to work with my doctor and his treatment plan. My former doctor here, his wife died, and that is why he is not here. He must be at least 75 years old now.

My friends should be coming any time now. I put on a fresh shirt for them because I had sweated being out in the sun on the patio earlier today. My shirt stunk! I should probably get my hair trimmed at some point. It has been a year and a half since I last got my hair cut and there are a plethora of split ends.

It’s about late afternoon. I’ve definitely had urges to hurt myself. Definitely. I need to see my Samuel again, my little dog. I have to make it out so I can see him. My poor little dog without his human Mommy. Poor thing. I bet he misses me too.

When we were doing beading to make bracelets, I snuck some pieces of the plastic elastic band into my pocket and then once I was in my room I tried putting it around my neck. But it didn’t do anything so I threw all but one piece away. The bedroom doors have windows in them and the bathroom doors in the bedrooms have no locks. It’s better than in the ICU where the bathrooms had only curtains for doors. Damn it. I want to hurt myself so badly. But I am fighting the urge by writing. Writing is my anchor and my life vest; it keeps me afloat.

I got angry earlier and I was having anxiety. They told us at the wrap up group that we get 30 minute sessions on computers but the computer itself has a timer for 60 minutes. Rhonda, our floor staff, the lady with the red hair, told us to speak up if we want computer time. So I asked both women who were using the computers when I could return for my turn and they both said, ¨I don´t know.¨ I got angry on the inside. After telling a nurse about what had happened, I went back to my room and writing saved me yet again.

I took the velvet art I had made today and turned it into a postcard. I addressed it to my Mum and her husband and left it at the nurse’s station to be mailed out. Then, after I had gotten some decaf coffee from the kitchen, which was still open because the patients were finishing up dinner, my roommate started talking to me. Her name is Ana and she came to America when she was six years old from Russia. She is 27 and got married at the same age as me, at 22. Several people have told me that I look a lot younger than 35, so I guess I have that to my advantage. I need to get out of here so that I can see my dog and pour out my love onto him. I need to get out, I need to get out and I need to live and to stay alive.

 

My Experience of Being Inpatient

The inspiration to write doesn’t always come. Sometimes I just have to make the decision to write, sit down, grab a pen, and see what comes. Then, once I get going, writing becomes easier to continue. It seems less daunting.

I haven’t written any poetry since I’ve been here. Just a few pages in my flimsy hospital-issued journal. The first few days that I was hospitalized I just didn’t get up out of bed. Not at all. My body was completely exhausted after what I had put it through. The overdose of over-the-counter medication really messed up the functioning of my liver, but apparently the liver is one of the organs that, if treated well, can regenerate itself.

My doctor is going to d/c (discontinue) my one-to-one patient status. This means that I don’t have to have someone following me wherever I go, including to the bathroom and the shower, and having someone watch me while I sleep.

It’s snack time right now and one of the benefits of having a one-to-one is that I am allowed to go to places where other patients cannot go. I already had my snacks half an hour ago and right now we are sitting out on the back patio where the calming water fountain is and no one else is out here.

My inpatient doctor just added a new medication on top of the three I already take. He said he doesn’t want me to kill myself in response to me saying I don’t want to add a new medication. I can’t really argue with that.

I graduated from the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) to ITP (Intensive Treatment Program). It’s a step up in the world. Plus, not having a one-to-one any longer is a huge accomplishment and it’s one step closer to getting out of the hospital altogether. I have certain responsibilities at my job and in taking care of my precious Samuel, my adorable puppy who is no longer a puppy because he is eight years old now.

I am thinking about writing a poem. It’s nice to be thinking about that rather than thinking about ways to hurt myself.

We had our afternoon community meeting. I was able to get a shirt from the donations pile and I really like it. It has flowers on it and they are teal blue. The floor staff are talking about when they are going to be taking their lunch breaks and about a nonspecific incident that happened on Friday and who was the first responder.

I need to be off of my one-to-one so that I can shave my chin hairs. Most women, I´ve discovered, have the unfortunate pleasure of having to deal with chin hairs. Some pluck, some wax, some shave, and some do laser hair removal treatments which is what I have been doing.

A bird flew down to the ground near the entryway to the patio and pulled out a Fig Newton from under a chair. He was very bold. When he got done he flew away.

The Immediate Aftermath of My Suicide Attempt

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Today is mother’s day. I took an overdose several days ago and now my liver isn’t functioning so well. Basically, I damaged my liver. There is hope for recovery, physically as well as mentally.

On Wednesday, I left work early and headed to Costco. I had already made up in my mind what I was going to do. I know that a week from now, this is all going to be a blur and I won’t remember much of anything. The 24 hours following my overdose we like living a nightmare. I texted two of my friends what I had done. I also texted the crisis hotline. I pretty much passed out on the floor of the entryway to my home and my neighbour gave the cops the passcode to the lockbox under the stairwell where an extra set of keys was kept.

Before I realized it there were about ten people in dark uniforms inside of my home. By this point I couldn’t interact intelligibly, however, as soon as they got me on the emergency gurney, I fought them and tried to get out. So in addition to the seatbelts, they strapped me down by my wrists and my ankles.

Honestly, I can’t believe that people make such a big deal about wanting to kill themselves. I don’t get it, why saving a life is so important. Its like you feel all alone, isolated and hopeless and all of a sudden all of these people show up to try to save your life. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I just had my nurse read the previous paragraphs and what I wrote really touched her. She got tears in her eyes and she told me that life is a gift and that life is precious. Her name happens to be ¨Precious.¨

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.

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!