Project Immersion

Before the depression hit, I was always diving into projects head first. I would come up with crazy ideas and hair-brained schemes and I would enjoy diving into a new project. Sometimes it fizzled out or I would grow bored, but often the project would be completed and I would have immense satisfaction.

After my depression, I could barely find the motivation to eat let alone do any projects. I couldn’t even get my school work done and I often found myself quitting whatever projects I had tried to start, before they had even gotten off of the ground.

During therapy on Week 2, Day 11, I was feeling much better. In fact, here is the journal entire I made for that day:

“I feel better today and I really can’t explain why. (Which is ok because there are times when you can’t explain why you feel the way you do.) I’m looking forward to things. I’m coming up with ideas that I’m excited about and that I want to implement immediately. Sometimes I want to just dive into a project which might be part of the problem. I dive in, then feel overwhelmed, don’t know how to continue so I quit in the middle. (Not necessarily that I quit but that I become distressed & depressed and can’t complete the project because my mood drops.)”

Why do I want to dive into projects? Why do I want to immerse myself into projects? Is it because the focus is then taken away from me? That I don’t have to look at myself?

Do I lose momentum and steam? Why? Is it because the project has gotten difficult or troubling? It hit a snag so I don’t want to continue?”

I’ve discovered that part of the problem now, is that when I dive into a project, I don’t focus on myself and right now that has to be the focus. I guess you could say that the project for me to do right now is me. I’ll never get better if I don’t focus on myself. Honestly, this is probably going to be one of the hardest projects I have ever attempted and it’s going to be one for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to work at myself, at being healthy, at being ok with being Talia, for the rest of my life. And it’s not something that I can give up halfway. It’s not something that I can lose momentum and steam at because then I’ll end up back where I started and seeing as I didn’t like square one in the first place, this project is my number one priority.

I have ideas. I have dreams, but I have to take it slow and be realistic. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and to realize that I’ve gotten in over my head. There are a couple of dreams that motivate me and push me onward but I have to go slow. I have to allow myself the time so that I don’t become self-destructive again. Projects are good. Projects are healthy, as long as there are healthy boundaries and you pull yourself out of that immersion every once in a while to see the realistic world around you and stay grounded.

Cutting

To this post I would like to attach a TRIGGER WARNING. This post will contain information about self-injurious behavior which may be triggering to some people.

I used to cut. I found it therapeutic and punishing. I felt like I needed to cut because I needed to be punished. I felt like I needed to be punished because I was a bad person, because I was always doing something wrong, because it felt like there was something wrong with me. There had to be something wrong with me, right? Afterall, that’s why I don’t have any friends. Right?

I was very wrong. Cutting or self-injuring as it is known, is the deliberate act of harming your body. Self-injury is an unhealthy way to handle your issues and is most often done impulsively. There are many ways to self-injure, but I don’t want to get into the how of self-injury. I would like to discuss the why.

For me, there were three reasons why I cut myself. The first was because I was feeling too much emotion and I couldn’t find a way to let it out. These emotions were negative, but I must admit that they were triggered by specific situations and instead of addressing these situations and facing my emotions, I cut to let these emotions out. The second was when I felt numb. I cut because I couldn’t feel any emotion and I wanted, no I needed to feel something, anything, even if it was physical pain. The third reason was because I felt a need to punish myself. There had to be something wrong with me and because I couldn’t figure out what it was, I cut and I punished.

I learned that self-injury wasn’t going to fix my problems. Self-injury could, if continued, make my problems worse. Often, it is seen as a cry for help. Self-injury is not meant to be suicide but it can often follow that path if the person doesn’t seek help.

If you see someone who is self-injuring, talk to them. Don’t accuse them of doing something wrong, just ask them what is wrong. Often times having someone honestly ask, ‘what is wrong’ or ‘is everything ok’ can open up the self-injurer to seeking help. Sometimes all we need to know is that someone cares.

Self-injuring can be a part of mental illness and needs to be treated as such. Therapy can help a self-injuring person with this issue. It can be a temporary, situational issue like mine or it can be a continuing circle. Self-injury is never the answer, and although I understand why people do it, I hope you’ll seek help. I hope you’ll find the help and treatment you need. You don’t need to hurt yourself, you don’t need to punish yourself. Everything will be ok.

Cutting

Mayo Clinic

Stuck

Sometimes I wonder why I’m writing this blog. Is anyone even reading it? Does anyone care? Is it making a difference?

I face these questions every day while I’m trying to write. As well as these: What should I write about? Will anyone care? And I suppose, even if no one cares, I should write anyway because I know that it helps. Writing helps me deal with my depression and often, putting things down on paper helps get them out of my mind. (Hence this post.) But I’m struggling with the fact that I feel stuck. I’m not sure what to write, even though I have an entire list. I’m not sure what people would like to know.

I’m trying to remember that this blog is the first step to bigger and better things. I’m trying to remember that this blog has a goal. A goal, that if reached could make a difference to millions of people. A goal that could make a difference in the field of mental illness. But sometimes, that goal seems so far away, it might as well be impossible.

I feel stuck in my life, in my therapy and in my head. I know the theories on what I need to do to get better and I’m taking my medication, but there are just days when I feel like they aren’t making a difference. I wake up and there are days when i just wonder why. Why me? Why now? Why this? Why?? And nothing I’ve learned, nothing I’ve tried has helped me on these days. These are the days when I struggle. I struggle just to get to the next day. I struggle with my brain and trying to keep it on the right track. I just struggle and honestly, I’m very sick of struggling so hard and so often.

It’s not fun and it isn’t easy. If I had a choice I wouldn’t be this way, but I don’t have a choice. Having depression isn’t my decision to make. It was made for me by my genetics, psyche, biology and environment. I can’t just ‘get over it’ and I’m not just lazy. I have limitations because of my illness. And right now my brain is telling me that I’m not important, that my ideas aren’t important and that this blog isn’t important. And maybe it’s not but I have to keep trying and I have to keep fighting. There is only one other alternative and I don’t consider that an option.

But I honestly want to know, what do you want to know about depression? What questions do you have regarding mental illness? Please message me or comment below.

Stuck

Music

I’ve always loved music. Since I was little, I was involved with music and I was learning how to play the piano by the time I was six. I remember a time, I was about 4 or 5, and I was singing along with the radio. My mom turned around, looked at me and asked how I knew the lyrics to the songs. I couldn’t really give her an answer besides saying that I’d heard the songs before.

Music can be very much a universal language. Musicians can often find the music or lyrics to describe a situation that you couldn’t otherwise find words for. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve played a song for someone rather than trying to explain exactly how I felt. The music explained it better than I ever could.

I often use music as my inspiration. Music can make you feel a variety of emotion and as a depressive, I use it to motivate myself, to tell myself that I’m not the only one feeling this way and that I can get through it. I have a specific playlist on youtube that I can pull up at anytime when I need that inspiration and motivation. This playlist contains songs from Skillet, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and P!nk, as well as the specifics songs ‘Dare You To Move’ by Switchfoot and ‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons.

Find what helps you, whether it’s listening to music or painting; playing video games or watching movies. Find an outlet for what you have inside, because you do have something self-destructive inside of you. And depression’s only goal is to destroy who you are. So don’t let it.

Here is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I feel down:

http://getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/Music.pdf

Hurt

Today I woke up hurting. My brain seems to have decided to review past events and people in my life while I’ve been sleeping. I end up dreaming about them and often wake up in a frustrated, annoyed or upset mood. While it’s helpful to review these people and events that have affected me, it also dredges up memories and pain that I didn’t realize I still had. It’s causing me to rethink past situations, which is what I’m supposed to do, but I’d prefer to do so under my own power, not in my dreams.

This first occurrence of this was just a couple of days ago. My brain decided to review an event that occurred near the start of my depression. I woke up confused and a little annoyed because this wasn’t a walk down memory lane that I wanted to take. But after reviewing the event over the past couple of days and talking with one of the person who had been involved in the situation, I realized that this event was probably the crux to my depression. This event is the most likely to have been the start of my depression and now that I have this information, hopefully I can use it to get better.

The second occurrence happened just today. I woke up after only a few hours of sleep and was so distraught and hurt that I couldn’t fall back asleep. This time my brain decided to include an old friend from high school in my dream. Thinking over it, I hadn’t realized how hurt I was by the separation that occurred our senior year of high school. I realize that people lose touch, but we had been best friends and being a naive teenager, had thought that we would be friends forever. At this point, I can’t ask her what happened, or why and there isn’t a reason to. People fall apart just as easily as they fall together. We were friends at the time, it just hurts realizing how easily that friendship fell apart.

It’s easy to feel hurt by the situations in our lives especially when things don’t go the way we planned. But how we deal with that hurt, makes all the difference in the world. Do we allow ourselves to be crippled by that hurt even if it occurs years after the event or do we move on and allow that hurt to make us into better people? I believe that these situations and the people who have passed through my life have occurred and been there for a reason. They have helped create the person I am today. And while that person is a flawed human being, I am trying to bring what little good I can to the world and I am trying to be a better person. Everyone is flawed, but it’s how you deal and cope with the flaws that makes the difference.

“I’m Sorry”

“I’m sorry.”

It’s two of the easiest and most overused words in the English language. ‘I’m sorry’ just rolls of the tongue for anything from being late to a meeting to breaking your mother’s favorite vase.

Over the years, ‘I’m sorry’ has lost the meaning that it once had. It’s become a phrase that once full of meaning has now lost all possible meaning. When you say, ‘I’m sorry’ do you actually mean it, or are you just fulfilling a societal norm? Do you actually mean the words; are you actually apologetic when you say ‘I’m sorry’? Or are they just words; something to say to fill the void but not really meaning anything.

Why do we say ‘I’m sorry’ if we don’t really mean it? Why do we say words that we don’t actually mean? Is it because that is what society expects of us? Are we just following the social norms by saying things we don’t actually mean and won’t ever follow through with? Why have these words been reduced to just words?

So many of the things we say today have no meaning behind them. They are empty societal norms that we instinctively follow without putting any thought, or emotion behind them. But I want to mean what I say, so from now on when I say ‘I’m sorry’, I’m going to mean it. When I speak, I’m going to mean exactly what I say and I’m going to say exactly what I mean. Words should always have meaning and impact. They are an integral way for people to communicate.

‘I’m sorry’ isn’t the only phrase that has lost all meaning. There are many more. Which ones can you think of?

Dying Inside

Somedays, I wake up and I just want to scream at the world. How can nobody see that every day, I’m dying a little more inside? How can everyone who knows what is going on with me, ignore it and pretend that I don’t exist?

It’s funny the reactions I get when I tell people I only have one friend. They either insist that I have more than one friend or they try to by sympathetic. I don’t understand these reactions. I’m not saying that I have only one friend for your sympathy or your insistance that I have more friends, I’m telling you this because I want you to understand my life. I want you to look outside of your own life and consider others.

I feel like I’m dying inside and that nobody cares. That nobody can see. I put on a smiling face and pretend everything is all right, but in reality I’m thinking would anyone actually care if I wasn’t here? Would anyone really miss me if I was gone? Would it really be a bad thing if I wasn’t here?

And I know the logical answer to those questions. I know that my friend and my family would miss me. And I know that I wouldn’t be able to achieve all that I dream I can do. I know I have the potential, there are just days when I don’t care. There are days when my feelings, while knowingly illogical, win over my logical side. There are days when all I can do is feel. And right now, I’m trying to learn that feelings are not reality.

There are days when the researched posts are easier to write and there are days when the personal posts are easier to write. It’s hard to face your issues. It makes you face down the parts of you that you’d rather leave alone. Parts that you’d rather leave hidden. But if you keep leaving those parts alone, you’ll never fix them and you’ll never get better.

I face this everyday in therapy. And they make you look at the parts of you that are messed up and you wonder how it even got to this point. How certain things got so bad that you couldn’t cope or that you never developed the skills you needed to cope. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You wonder how it all went wrong. And you wonder if your world will ever be right again.

I’m working on it. And I’m hoping. At this point, that’s all I can do.

My Life in Outpatient Treatment: Week 3

This is a continuation, Week 3, of my daily journal while in outpatient treatment for depression, anxiety and avoidant personality disorder. Click here to read Week 1 and Week 2.

Week 3, Day 14:
I don’t know what to do. I supposedly ‘need’ people but I honestly don’t want to need people. People are unreliable and dishonest. People hurt me.
I don’t know how to like myself. I have this craving for validation from others. It’s a need. And I know I have to break this need but I don’t know how.
My birthday is tomorrow and I’m honestly not looking forward to it. I feel like the day is just going to be crap. I don’t feel like I have anything to look forward to tomorrow. It’s just another day. Just another boring day with the same old schedule.
Being at therapy today has made me feel worse. This card project is just reminding me that I don’t have anything in my life. I don’t want to be here.
(Note: The card project was to create a card from someone you would probably never get a card from. Who would it be from? What would it say? This was a very difficult project for the entire group.)

Day 15:
Today was my birthday. It was more fun than I thought it would be. I didn’t have anything planned because I had to work, but one of my fellow patients brought in cupcakes & she gave me an awesome present of candles and scent hand soap. Hopefully I’ll have more fun in 2 days when I celebrate with my best friend and my family.

Day 16:
I need to start practicing my happiness sheet. (Link)
I need to change my perspective on life.
Homework – Go do things and keep an open mind. Don’t judge things, including myself & my opinions. Catch the judgements before I make them.

Day 17:
Get out and volunteer. It’s a good way to meet people with similar interests.
Trust = consistency/time
I need to get approval from myself first. I need to ask myself; Do I approve of this? Am I living by my values?

Day 18:
I had another quick mood change today. I don’t know why I have these mood swings. I was feeling all right. Now, I’m upset. I’m not sure what triggers these changes.
I need to figure out what my triggers are.
Today’s trigger – When I feel like I am being perceived or am accused of being childish or childlike.

Please stay tuned for Weeks 4 and 5. Click here to view Week 1 and Week 2.

My Dream

“I have a dream….”1 Ever since Martin Luther King Jr. uttered those words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, they have had a unique meaning. But in all honesty, I do have a dream. I have a dream that mental health will be regarded without stigma and prejudice. I have a dream that one day, people will realize that mental health is important and a mental illness is a disease much like cancer. However, unlike cancer, mental illness does not generally show major physical symptoms. There is no hair loss, no chemo or radiation treatments and a mentally ill person does not look physically sick. But this does not mean that they are not suffering just as much.

I truly believe that depression and mental illness is a disease. It’s like getting a tumor; it’s not your fault. Are you going to turn around and tell a person with a tumor or cancerous growth that it’s their fault for getting that? Would you tell a person with a broken leg to ‘just get over it’? Why would you do the same to a mentally ill person who also is struggling with the question; ‘Why me?’.

My dream is to start a nonprofit foundation to not only help those with mental illness, but to also fight the stigmas and cliches that have permeated the idea of mental illness. Those with depression and anxiety are sick, not lazy, crazy or faking it.

The name for this nonprofit would be ADAPT. Advocates for Depression Awareness, Progress & Tolerance, all of which is needed in the field of mental health. If I can educate or bring awareness to those who don’t understand depression, progress and tolerance will follow.

Martin Luther King Jr’s most famous words were uttered that day. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.1 Today, people are still judged by their looks and actions rather than their character. So let me ask you, how do you want to be judged? Or do you even want to be judged at all?

I have a mental illness; this makes me sick and I can’t just ‘get over it’ and I’m not ‘being lazy’. There are days that I struggle to make through. There are habits and behaviors that I have to change, but this is not a disease that I have to fight alone. Just as people support friends and family with cancer, people also need to support and help those with mental illness.

So my dream, to start a nonprofit; ADAPT, could change the world. I want it to change the world and I want it to change your mind about mental health.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speech “I Have A Dream”

Expressive Therapy – Kite

In this exercise, we had to draw ourselves as a kite. The line was to be what was holding us back, the ribbon was to show our support system and we were also told to draw the environment in which our kite was in. Expressive Therapy Hopefully you can tell that according to my kite, there are light and dark places within me. My ribbon is bright and colorful because my support system is cheering for me. The line is held by me and symbolizes that I am holding myself back from what I could become. The environment is dark and cloudy and it looks like my kite is heading for a tree but you can also see the sun peeking out in the corner. I was hoping to show the light and the dark that pushes and pulls at me and my life.