When I’m lost

Every now and again, emphasis on the again, I get lost.  It happens when the noises on the outside become too frequent and get too loud, before I know it the noise is all I can hear.  I start to think of all these problems and all the things that are wrong and I get overwhelmed because I feel like I have to do something about them.  I lose myself.

Luckily, it’s happen often enough that I have a way to handle it.  Self care is a very important thing.  Life is full of disappointments, stress and heartache, not that these things are necessarily bad, they are necessary but they still take a toll on the mind, body and spirit.  So when I feel like I’ve lost myself in all the noise I find a way to get quiet again.

The fastest and easiest way to get rid of everything is to breathe.  The power of the breath is very much underestimated.  How could something so simple and basic have such a profound impact on you?  Well, try not breathing.

There are many pranayama techniques, I know very few but instead of forcing anything I just listen.  I listen without trying to change it.  When you focus on your breathing it changes.  It changes because your thoughts change, you are no longer thinking whatever you were thinking, you are just listening.  You can hear your thoughts in the breath.   So I sit and listen.  Eventually, my breathing becomes steady and deeper.  My mind gets quiet, even if only for the moment.  Sometimes, that moment is all you need.

Yoga is another thing that helps me.  When you focus on your body and the pose you become more present and aware of the moment.  After an hour or so of this we get rewarded with shavasana, corpse pose, where you just lie on your back, close your eyes and breathe.  You only notice it when you are coming out of it but if you are lucky you get to a point where you think and become nothing.  The noise stops and you have only silence.   It is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world.  I akin it to a mental reset.

All your problems are still there when you come back but they aren’t as loud and heavy anymore.  You gain distance and space.

Next to those two things is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  It’s hard to think of anything when you are rolling with someone else.  All your attention has to be focused on what you are doing.  By the time you are done you are physically exhausted and all the tension in your body has had a chance to work its way out.  The extra cortisol caused by any anxiety or stress has been put to good use and the body can relax again.

And finally, I find it relaxing to spend time in nature, either walking through a trail in the woods or going to the beach.  My current residence grants me access to the trees and I love it but sometimes only the beach will do and when that’s the case I make the drive back home, pick up tacos from my favorite place and go eat them on the beach.  I stare at the waves while I eat then usually soak up the sun for a while before going into the water and walking down the shore to dry off.  It’s the perfect solo date.   Nothing cleanses quite like the ocean, the warmth of the sun is soothing, and the ocean breeze refreshing.  Doing it all in silence is nurturing.

Most of our worries are caused by ruminating over the past or the future.  If you can find a way to be present then you can find the silence that is always there.  If you can find the silence you can experience the peace that it holds.  Maybe yoga or BJJ isn’t for you but there is something out there that is, find it and keep it close.


Sustainable Suicide

Some people suffer from physical disorders or illnesses.  They are easy to see or diagnose, whether it’s from some blood work or an X-ray or CT Scan whatever.  Most of them have clear cut causes and clear cut cures.

Then there is mental illness or as I now choose to call it mental unwellness.  I hate labels.  I hate stigmas.  I hate preconceived notions of strangers or by strangers.  I digress.

Every once in a while, hard to really say how often, I kill myself.  Not in a physical sense but in every other way.  I go through my mind and slay every thought I have about myself, my life and my reality.  If what I was doing or thinking was working for me I wouldn’t have to… actually sometimes I even kill the things that work.  I throw lightning bolts at my tower just so that I can start over again.

I think the human mind has a tendency to want to make things seem logical, we look for patterns and reason.  Our sense of self and life are built on our fundamental thoughts and beliefs but if our fundamental thoughts are beliefs are flawed then our entire perspective becomes flawed as well.

Currently, I’m in self destruct mode.  I’m tearing down everything I thought to be true.  Every time I do this I learn that there are some concrete structures that stand the test of time and hold true no matter how many times I try and tear them down.  These are the beginning of my new foundation.

From here I can start over again.  From here I try again.

I’ve tried telling myself that I can get better, that I can figure this out and that the depression, anxiety and mania will go away one day, I just have to figure it out.  I don’t think that’s true anymore.  I’m choosing to stop believing that.  Not because I’m giving up on myself but more because I’m accepting myself, as is.  If it goes, it goes, if it stays, well then it stays.  I’m done with feeling like I need to be fixed.  This is who I am.  If it changes it changes, if it doesn’t then it doesn’t.  I’m okay with that.

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Hurt so good

I feel like today is the first time in a long time that my life feels like it’s mine again.  This entire month has been a series of waiting games.  Waiting to find out this, that and the other.  Waiting for things to happen or not happen.    I’ve tied up some major loose ends and couldn’t be happier about it but it seems like life is not done throwing shit my way.  The funny thing is that it’s been going on for so long now that it’s almost become my new normal.

I’ve felt so many different things these past 27 days.  I’ve felt so much that at times I stopped feeling anything at all and what I’m learning is that shit happens.  Life just fucking happens and the older you get the heavier the load.  Sometimes you just have to step back, release expectations and lower standards.

That last part is hard for me because my default view on the world is that it can be better.  Things can always be better.  I believe that but at the same time believing that takes away the value of what is going on now and what is going on now is all there really is.  If you can’t appreciate that then you have nothing and something is better than nothing.

I know there are better days to come and I could sit here and dwell on that but I think that my efforts would be better spent taking the small steps to do what I can do now in the present moment with the larger picture in mind.  These little steps may not seem to be making such a big difference as I do them but they add up.

I’m deciding to focus on the good in my life because it’s become clear to me that the bad will always be there and the bad isn’t necessarily bad because without it how can you appreciate the good.  I don’t mind the heartache.  It lets me know I’m alive.  There is a wide range of emotions to be had and although some feel unpleasant they can hold just as much, if not more, value than the ones that feel good.  How else would we learn if not from pain?

It’s too easy to shut down and shy away from the negative emotions that make you feel weak or vulnerable.  Maybe I’m a bit masochistic but I find beauty in pain.  There is nothing more beautiful than the raw emotion of the human soul on fire because it is in the midst of that pain that you know you are alive.

This doesn’t mean that I consciously go looking for it or wish to experience it every day of my life or even on a regular basis but when it does occur I am grateful for it because it makes every other good moment in my life that much sweeter.

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Because I know I’m not the only one…

I could probably write a page from each paragraph below but I just want to keep it simple for now.  Mom, if you read this I don’t blame you or dad for anything and I’m sorry if any of this hurts you.  Some of these things still hurt me too but I’ve moved past them which is why I can talk about them now.  Let me be clear on this, I am not writing this for me, I am writing this for anyone out there who struggles with a mental disorder.  I don’t really like the word “disorder” but that is a different post  and for the sake of simplicity that word is the one I will use for now.  

Everyone goes though shit, I am not special, I am not unique.  I am just one of many who have gone through private hells in their heads.  Also, I no longer identify myself with any of these issues because I stopped labeling myself.  With all this in mind, I hope you get something out of these words.


There is a lot of shit going on in the world right now, a lot of fear and a lot of hurt and I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know that in order to heal the world we must first heal ourselves.  So I’m writing this to share my story.  Not particularly because I want to but more because I want to help anyone else out there that might be going through similar shit.  Mental disorders carry such stigmas and are rarely understood by outsiders.  It’s easier to label someone as crazy and write them off than it is to try and appreciate their situation and understand where they are coming from.  And for those of you who have a disorder I know how difficult it can be to try and talk to someone about something that you don’t even understand yourself.

I, personally, have had a few of these “disorders” throughout my life.  To me they have been more like phases because I’ve been able to work my way out of most of them but there’s at least one I still struggle with.  It’s why I’m up some days and down on others.  Most people are familiar with the term Bipolar Disorder:  a mental disorder marked by alternating periods of elation and depression, well what I deal with is similar but a little different, it’s called Cyclothymia:  a less intense but often longer lasting version of bipolar disorder.  One where the person experiences both highs and lows but not as severe as mania or major depression.  Of course, I wasn’t always this way.

No, I went through a few other DSM criteria before I hit that one…

At 17 I had passive suicidal ideation which simply means that I thought about dying…a lot.  Deep down I didn’t really want to die.  I just didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling anymore and thought that I’d be better off dead.  My issues started before that though, I feel like I’ve always had a certain level of anxiety, since early childhood, but I don’t think the depression started until I was about 12.  I hated middle school and my life throughout all three years of it.  The beginning of high school was a bit better but by the time I was a junior I had developed a few very unhealthy coping mechanisms.  I am not going to go into detail over my childhood and what contributed to my numerous psychological disorders because I’d rather focus more on how I reacted to these triggers than the actual triggers themselves.

Anyway, In early adolescence, I inadvertently developed an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.  I wouldn’t eat.  Not because I thought I was fat but because it was a way to get back at my parents and there wasn’t much that they could do about it.  I was angry at them but as a child there isn’t much you can do so I did what I could.  Food restriction was one of those things.  It started as a way to annoy them and get their attention I guess but then it ended up with me actually making it a goal to not eat.  I had to tell myself I was fat so that I wouldn’t want to eat.  I was more stubborn and angry than health conscious and was willing to do what it took to get my point across, which at the time was “fuck you.”

Concerned family members would ask me if I was okay and would even specifically ask me if I had an eating disorder.  I denied it.  I denied it every time.  I’m not really sure when I stopped that behavior but I eventually did.  My poor self body image however…that lingered.

I became depressed.  I wouldn’t leave the house, partly to annoy my mother, partly because I actually didn’t want to leave.  I preferred being alone than pretending I was okay.  I knew I wasn’t okay but I didn’t tell anyone that.  I got good grades at school, was in honors and advanced placement classes and didn’t have any behavior issues so there wasn’t much they could say.

By the end of high school all of these things were adding up and I couldn’t take it anymore.  In vain attempts to numb out I would drink or smoke but only on occasion and never out of control or even remotely alarming for an adolescent in my demographic.  This wasn’t enough for me though and one day I picked up a small pocket knife and ran it across my palm.  I don’t know why but it made me feel better.  Not too far away from that incident, I took triple or quadruple the dose of some random pills (I don’t recall what they were) but all that resulted was some chest pain.  Part of me was relieved, the other part of me was slightly disappointed.  Like I said before, I didn’t really want to die, if it was just me then maybe I would have but the thought of leaving my two younger siblings behind is honestly what kept me from doing anything too drastic.  I knew that if I did, it would only make things worse for them and that was something I would not allow myself to do.

Not long after those two incidents I finally told my mother that I needed to talk to someone.  I told her because the thoughts of dying were too consistent to ignore and I was getting scared that I would do something I might not get a chance to regret.  I vaguely recall my first therapist, I only met with her two or three times before she referred me to a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist gave me a prescription for SSRIs.  I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and the pills were supposed to help.  Well it wasn’t long before I wasn’t depressed anymore, the pills kept me from feeling depressed but they also kept me from feeling much of anything else so I ended up becoming emotionally indifferent.  I wasn’t sad but I wasn’t happy either, I was numb.  Then out of no where…boom!  I felt something.  I felt great!  I was happy!  I was excited!  I was buzzing!  I was manic.  The pills had triggered my first manic episode.  It felt good at the time but I remember thinking that something was not right, something was wrong but I felt so high that I didn’t care and I didn’t express my concerns to my parents.  After a few days things went back to normal.  Back to feeling nothing.  These manic episodes would resurface sporadically and repeatedly but I stayed on the pills for a while, about 2 years or so.

By the time I got off of them I was away at college.  There I was able to self medicate with other things and distract myself enough to not feel so depressed or anxious anymore plus a big part of my stress was gone just by virtue of leaving my household.  Unfortunately however, by the time I stopped taking the pills the damage was already done.  The manic episodes had become set into my psyche, even without the pills I would get them.  The depression was their too along with the anxiety but now the triggers were a lot less predictable and it didn’t take much to set me off one way or another.

My Sophomore year in college I met my future husband.  Of course, at the time I had no idea that things would get so far.  I had had a few relationships before him but they were all superficial.  I never actually got to know any of the guys I dated before him even though if you had asked me at the time if I had ever been in love I would have said yes, several times.

This time was different though.  I clearly remember him lying next to me in my twin size bed, he had fallen asleep and I remember looking at him and crying.  I cried because I was scared.  I was scared because I realized that I had fallen in love with him.  “Fuck” was my initial thought.  Why?  Because now I was afraid to lose him.  Every other guy I had dated before was less than faithful and so naturally I was afraid he’d fuck it up, I was afraid I’d fuck it up, I was afraid he’d see how fucked up I was and leave.  These fears fed what had already started to emerge, just by virtue of me being in a relationship; Borderline Personality Disorder.  If you are unfamiliar with the term Borderline Personality Disorder it is defined as a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self, and unstable emotions.

BPD proved to be a lot more destructive than any other previous condition I had.  It was also a lot harder to hide.

Fast forward about 5 years.  I graduated college, we left college town and moved to another city where we rented a house together.  At some point the BPD got worse.  Maybe it was because at this point I had so much invested in him that…  Also, my mind just couldn’t accept the fact that I might actually have something worth keeping, something real, a chance at happiness.  Anyway, something happened, something triggered the fear of God in me and my psyche went into full panic mode, I remember sitting in the bathtub with the hot shower water pouring down and all I could do to calm myself down was drag my fingernails along my skin.  I did this repeatedly until there were red marks all along my thighs.  I didn’t tell him.

I think that was the first time, but it wasn’t the last.  It soon became a coping mechanism.  When I felt like I couldn’t handle reality I would go through this ritual of trying to cut through my skin as if peeling of the layers would somehow set me free from the torment I felt inside.  Well, eventually he noticed and eventually I ended up in therapy, again.

This time I went to see a psychotherapist.  She was nice.  She listened and she asked me questions and she did it in such a way that I was able to see how I had ended up where I had.  She told me my behavior was a natural reaction to an unnatural circumstance.  In other words, I was not defective but my environment and circumstances led me to view things in this way and my destructive self-harm coping mechanism was almost to be expected.  That made me feel better.  It made me feel relieved that I wasn’t that crazy after all.  I think it’s safe to say that my healing process started there, with her.  It was still a long road from there but she was the first one who actually helped.  With her I actually felt some sort of hope for myself, I no longer felt like a lost cause or a basketcase and all she really did different was listen.  She listened and she validated me.  Ridiculous how something so simple can make such a big difference but it does.

There is a lot more in between and even more from then until now but I’ll save that for another post.  These things are pretty personal and not really things that most people talk about openly but I wanted to share them because I want whoever might be going through anything similar to know that things get better.  It may take days, months, or years even but things do get better, you just can’t give up.  And if you think you need help then you probably do, even if you don’t think you need help, you probably do.  Asking for it and accepting it is not an easy thing but I can tell you that it’s easier to fight your demons with someone by your side than it is to face them on your own.  When it’s just you, you only have your own limited perspective on the situation and you are limited by only your personal experiences.  Sometimes medication helps, other times it makes it worse.  I think prescription pills for mental disorders are a very personal and individual choice.  You can’t go off of someone else’s experience.

I still have to deal with the cyclothymia thing from time to time but I’ve learned to recognize the signs of an episode sooner rather than later and they are a lot less extreme, partly because of me being able to recognize them before they spiral out of control and partly because I have less triggers than I used to.

So, if you are one of the many people who suffer from a mental disorder or even if you don’t and are just having a hard time I want you to know that things will be okay, you will be okay, and if you need someone to talk to seek out a trusted friend, family member, a professional or even me, I personally have a really hard time judging people for anything because I myself have been no angel.

If you feel like an emotional wreck, you are not alone, if you feel like you can’t stand the sight of yourself, you are not alone, if you feel like the world is caving in on you, you are not alone, if you feel like dying, you are not alone, if you feel uncomfortable in your own skin or on this planet, you are not the only one.  I’ve been through a lot, I’m sure more have been through worse, but you know what I’ve learned?  I’m resilient as fuck.  I don’t give up.  I may take breaks but I always come back and when I come back I’m stronger and wiser.  Hindsight is 20/20 and all these things I’ve experienced have served only to make me stronger.  They have helped increased my compassion and empathy for others who have gone through the same.  These “disorders” have given me the kind of suffering and pain that you don’t wish on your enemies but if it can help me help someone else, even just a little bit, then I say they were well worth the pain.

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