I Am the Ultimate Optimist

“A feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen.” This is how Merriam-Webster Online defines optimism.

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The other day, I said to my husband, “You know, I’m the most optimistic person you’ve ever known.” With a blank stare, he stood there, looking at me. I knew he was thinking, “On what planet are YOU considered optimistic?!”

“Think about it,” I said, “I never give up. I always keep trying to get better.”

He said, “I’d call that persistent, not optimistic.”

I sat for a moment, understanding where he was coming from…19 years of my depression and anxiety affecting our lives for the worse. I knew I had to explain:

“I am persistent because I know there is an outcome that is better than the past. I’m optimistic because, even though there are times I feel as though I’m broken, I stand myself up again and again, fighting for a better tomorrow. Why would I keep trying if I didn’t have HOPE for a better future?”

So, thank you anxiety and depression for teaching me how to be the ultimate optimist.

The Discomfort of Healing: Being Our Own Worst Enemy

Healing anything is a process.
A bruise healing? A process.
An emotional illness? A process.

A process is a “phenomenon marked by gradual changes”. What gradual changes do we allow in our process? What gradual changes do we not allow? We often get in the way of our own process of healing, physical and mental, by being afraid to embrace the discomfort of change. I mean, who likes the process of pulling off a Band Aid, but we heal better once we change that old bandage, don’t we?

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Pregnancy & MI: Tenacious Reclamation of My Life

My pregnancy has been a wonderful “tool” to add to my Wellness Toolbox. Being completely responsible for the physical and mental well-being of my child has helped soften many edges of the negative thinking that I suffer from due to my Negativity/Pessimism Schema. While it has certainly been no cure, I find myself falling back upon the most negative of my thinking, “I can’t do this anymore”, “Life is not worth the struggle”, “God, please let me not wake”, etc. less and less. I love my unborn child and want desperately to parent him to become an all-around healthy young man. If I am constantly considering that there are options to life other than living, I do not think I’ll manage my parenting goal. In this way, I am thankful that the reality of my pregnancy has helped refocus, in a healthier manner, the filter through which I interpret thoughts and feel emotions.

That being said (there is always a however, huh?)…

The past few weeks have been LOUSY.

“But Redheadcase, you just talked about how a major difficulty of your MI has grown a bit healthier. Are you grateful for nothing?!” a reader may ask.

That is just the thing…being healthier in any increment does not mean I am at the end of the journey to reclaim my life from MI. I will always be on the road to better mental health and must always remember that there are no quick-fixes or complete goal attainment. Being healthier, whether it be mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. is a lifestyle and not any single choice. Success is not found in a moment or a day, but all those individual moments, days, weeks, months, and years can absolutely add up to a well-adapted, content, and emotionally healthy life for all of us. We just have to accept that we will stumble and fall, make the choice to pick ourselves up when we can, and tenaciously seek help no matter how uncomfortable or hard it may feel. Piece all those battle wins together to claim the victory of the war. =)

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On a side note, I wanted to discuss how the past few weeks have been lousy. Just a few shared experiences and thoughts…

-I have always had much more difficulty with the fluctuation of my mood when I am physically drained and/or hungry. My husband can look at me, seeing me wilt like a flower out of water, saying, “We need to get you something to eat/need to get you some rest because your mood is dropping.” When I am fatigued from a lack of sleep or from running errands or when my blood sugar drops from not having eaten recently enough, I become much more susceptible to the depressions and anxieties of my MI. And I have found that with being pregnant, I wilt at a much more rapid pace, making it harder to catch my decline in time to prevent. I point this out because self-care is of the upmost importance, especially when you are suffering from an illness and ESPECIALLY when you are pregnant, dealing with hormones that fluctuate as they please no matter how carefully you care for yourself. Proper sleep, rest, and diet are essential to an MI-er’s well-being, and we must be willing to tell the people around us that we have to take the time to rest and/or eat. Putting ourselves first is a very good thing because when we are our healthiest for us, we can be at out healthiest for our loved ones. It is a “win-win” for everyone.

-I have really been struggling with feeling useless. (Yea, I am growing a life, yet I feel as though I contribute nothing to anything. 😉  Losing school this semester has really taken a toll on me, as I have discussed in previous posts. I had worked so hard to return to school and to have to stop (again) due to pregnancy-related illness, I find that I feel as though I am good-for-nothing (see how that Negativity/Pessimism Schema sneaks into any crevice of a person’s thinking to try to bring them down?). While I still volunteer at a local hospital, I feel I do little to contribute to my family or the world, in general. This is a thought, and resulting feeling, that I cannot seem to shake. I need a purpose to pursue outside of my home but cannot seem to find one. …Work in progress, right? =)

Well, that is all I have for the moment. I hope this finds everyone feeling well and a little less alone in a world that can feel really lonely. Take care.

AFSP

 

 

 

Out of the Darkness Walks

Walk to Save Lives

Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.

When you walk in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks, you join efforts with thousands of people nationwide to raise money for AFSP’s vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. The walks raise awareness about depression and suicide, and provide comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED. YOU CAN HELP. JOIN THE MOVEMENT.

Suicide Prevention

 

 

 

 

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Get Help

You aren’t alone. No matter who you are or what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn’t the answer. We want to help you find hope.

Mental Illness & Higher Ed Make for Odd (But Helpful) Bedfellows

Going back to college after a LONG break for a few years of depressive “bed rest” has been a challenge. My brain is rusty, my thoughts run rampant, and my time management skills need a lot of fine-tuning.  Simply put, I am really out of the practice of using my brain by choice, versus MI using it to manipulate my emotions and thoughts.

Slowly but surely, I am taking back control of all things Redhead…well, some things, anyway. The most difficult hurdles I have encountered on this intellectual journey, both educational and mental, are the ever-present feelings of having few people to lean on, to talk to and finding the confidence to believe that if I keep sanding away the rust on my brain, I will have something worth working with. Who knew confidence, or a lack thereof, could be such a deal maker or breaker? Multiple-choice tests, short answer essays…no problem. I have those down pat. I have always been a pretty good test taker, but paper-writing is kicking my proverbial butt because anxiety locks my brain through my lack of confidence. I know I can write well enough (as long as I proofread, write multiple drafts, and allow time to walk away from the assignment), but I find myself overthinking and overshooting so often that I have difficulty managing writing down an elementary sentence that simply states the subject of my work, let alone writing a paragraph. The first paper I wrote this semester…oh my. At one point, it took me two and a half hours to write one and a half paragraphs. The rampant thoughts cause me to edit as I write in the hopes that gold will poor forth on my first draft. The lack of confidence and the feeling that I need to overshoot all come back to the BPD and trying to manage validation from professors that I am something other than a soon-to-be-found-out-fraud…a woman who is too old and too rusty to be in school…a woman with nothing unique to add to the academic mix.

This semester has been about putting out one paper-writing fire after the next (anxiety induced by assignments and timeframe pressures), with personal and family medical issues to add a little fuel. But I have been hanging in with each blaze, taking a little bit of new knowledge away from the experience to help me fight the next fire more efficiently. Darn those assignment fires…professors ask too much in expecting work from me. =P The last paper I wrote was a wonderful success. I expected a decent grade but did even better than expected. I was proud that I handled my anxiety by walking away from the assignment when needed and, when it came down to it, accepting that if I worked hard and did my best, my best would be pretty good. Somehow, accepting my hard work as its own validity in my effort to write helped free me from the need to perform at a level that is difficult to manage when I have been out of school for so long, and fight the lies of anxiety and depression, in regards to my ability. I learned more from the process of writing my last paper than I did from the text itself. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that! LOL

I went back to school looking to use it not only as a means to a degree but as a tool in continuing to conquer my MI. With each leap of faith I take in allowing myself to write bubble outlines that are not refined and high-browed (Ooo! I need some Crayolas for my next bubble outline!), I take a step further away from the anxiety depression, and BPD that tell me I am nothing.

I will never be without the experience of MI, but I can, and am, overcoming it each day I work towards my goals.

 

Suicide Prevention

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

 

 

 

AFSPThe American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s leading organization bringing together people across communities and backgrounds to understand and prevent suicide, and to help heal the pain it causes. Individuals, families, and communities who have been personally touched by suicide are the moving force behind everything we do.

  • We strive for a world that is free of suicide.
  • We support research, because understanding the causes of suicide is vital to saving lives.
  • We educate others in order to foster understanding and inspire action.
  • We offer a caring community to those who have lost someone they love to suicide, or who are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves.
  • We advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk.

Suicide and Me

***TRIGGER WARNING***

Nothing explicit but could still be triggering.

Suicidal ideation: Thinking about, considering, or planning for suicide. CDC, 9/12/12

I suffer from suicidal ideation (SI for the rest of the post). Almost every day, I think about the action of taking my life to relieve the pain of living. It is not about wanting to not live; it is about not wanting the emotional pain to continue and believing that physical death is my only way out.

Over the past few weeks, I have, for many different reasons, fell prey to physical fatigue. Between moving with a week’s notice, going on a long trip, and working, I became corporeally exhausted (I can use a thesaurus!). I fell into a depression due to this extreme fatigue and it’s accompanying stress. I was unable to pay bills, keep track of important dates, or go through day without a nap. I was tapped out both physically and mentally.

The funny thing is that through it all, even while at a forum for suicide prevention in Washington, D.C., I found myself “escaping” from the exhaustion and stress by picturing, as though a movie in my head, how I might die by suicide (saying “committed” suicide is now un-PC, but it does not offend me. I figured I’d just be kosher for the sake of this post). Another “funny” thing…I do have a suicide plan and a back-up for the original. Do not fret…my therapist knows. How is that for transparency? I could teach the POTUS a thing or two about transparency, couldn’t I? =)

Now, allow me to educate you for a moment. Suffering from SI IS NOT the same as suffering from suicidal intent; I do not INTEND, have not determined, concluded, or decided to put my plan into action. Please, do not call 911 because they will simply wake up a then-cranky redhead who was (hopefully) sleeping peacefully. What I want to share is that thousands, perhaps millions of people suffer from SI, and you would  have no way to tell. I know that at the AFSP Suicide Prevention Forum in Washington, my own husband had no idea how much I was suffering.

The issue is that SI does bring a person one step closer to a consequence that cannot be undone. Each time a person reviews all the details of their plan or simply thinks to themselves, “If only I could die, all this pain would end,” they tread closer to a decision that will ultimately break many people’s hearts. Parent’s are left wondering what clue they missed; siblings are left with the guilt of not perhaps voicing an opinion that “something seemed wrong”, and children ask where Mom or Dad is. The village, the community, the world loses the chance to see the beauty of live unfold as it was meant to do.

I will not go into detail about my plan for obvious reasons. I will share that due to the emotional pain of perceiving (due to BPD) being lonely, invalidated, unessential to peoples’ lives, and having little active support, I lived today with a picture show in my head…a show that relieved stress and caused pain all at once.

Be blessed and ask for help. It is the hardest thing you can do but the biggest step you can take on your path to recovery.

Suicide PreventionPlease call 800-273-TALK (8255), 24/7 if you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness. When you dial you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and  will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.

AFSP

Mission

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

I’m Pretty Happy! No…For Realz!!!

For people who know me predominately through my presence on social media, I can understand how a person might think I live as MI/BPD 24/7. I absolutely admit that, depending on a person’s own experiences and interpretations, I could come off that way. However, I apparently need to share that, in fact, I do live outside of the influence of MI once in a blue moon. =)http://alxa.ru

I actually get to just be Redhead a lot of the time. I do not always have the weight of MI on my shoulders. I do not always feel MI’s pain. Sometimes, I actually get to be pretty happy and content…more or less. Heck…just think about what I was processing, very publically, this time last year. Yeah…I know, right?!

So, if you find yourself picturing me as a 24/7 unhappy, pained, living in the past kinda gal…you can let that go and picture a getting-back-to-a-level-place kinda gal. A work in progress…but I AM progressing, and I am SO happily thankful for that! Bahahaha!!!

And if you do not feel the need to adjust your interpretation of me, I am actually pretty ok with that, too…finally.

 

AFSP

 

 

 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:

  • Fund scientific research
  • Offer educational programs for professionals
  • Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
  • Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
  • Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

~http://www.afsp.org/about-afsp/mission-and-history

 

Suicide PreventionWhen you dial 1-800-273-TALK  (8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.

~http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

 

 

If Kitchen Tables Could Talk…

I went to middle school with a boy named John. I loved that guy for a million different reasons because he was such a level-headed, untroublesome, and good person, not to mention a really good friend. He was popular with the guys for being a “guy’s guy” and with the girls for being terribly cute and easy mannered. John was always ready with an easy smile and kind word to most anyone who passed by. https://twimg0-a.akamaihd.net/profile_images/3187652247/7a1676c79eac4fd55e4958e38df4a83b.png

I remember sitting in our science class one day, John and I surrounded by a group of hormonal teens gossiping about the latest drama to travel our school’s halls. I really did not have much to add to the conversation as I was uninvolved in whatever theatrics had taken place but found myself feeling sucked into the conversation for the sake of participation…the sake of feeling as though I was a part of something. (Knowing what I now know about BPD, I assume the skewed need to participate came from my skewed need to feel validated by joining in on the gossip…establishing myself as a part of the group). I thus added generic comments into the conversation where I thought they would fit, feeling successful that I had participated in the group dynamic in an “important” manner. (LOL) At some point, I happened to take notice of John, surrounded by the same people, hearing the same gossip, and not joining in to even acknowledge the conversation. He was not being rude. He simply did not partake in the furthering of the drama.

Suddenly, I experienced one of those moment where time stood still for a second or two, and I found another reason to love John even more. John did not need to gossip to find validation through being a part of the group. He was comfortable just being John. He did not need to find any sort of empowerment or sense of belonging in talking about the business of others. He had his life to think about, and that was enough for him. I realized in that moment how fresh and new the concept of not gossiping was, as I do not come from a family that refrains from discussing each others’ business with everyone else in the family (and if you are a family member reading this and find yourself feeling defensive towards me, my guess is that the defensiveness you are experiencing is your guilt trying not to show. If you are not a gossip, you should know this post is not about you and therefore, not feel defensive. Just keepin’ it real.). The idea that a person did not have to share every piece of information or their opinions about others had simply never occurred to me. Gossip was how parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. communicated with one another. And in that moment, I realized how very sad that was.

Anyhoo, in the past year, with having to step away from many of the few relationships that survived the difficulties of my MI, I rededicated myself to really focusing on #1-not looking for validation through gossiping and #2-doing my best to make sure that information I share with anyone is just that-information and not gossip. I want my new friendships to be good & healthy and gossip does not play a role in either of those descriptions. Have I failed at times? Heck yeah! Old habits are hard to break, but I have made great progress. Even when venting to my husband, I try to refrain from sharing my thoughts or feelings that could be construed as gossip. Becoming better at not gossiping will help me to continue limiting my need for outside validation until the urge for outside validation no longer is a main goal in my life.

One day, my validation will come mainly from within, and that is something to work for!

Oh…and where did the title “If Kitchen Tables Could Talk…” come from? Well…most of my family would not speak a word to one another again if our kitchen tables could regossip all they know! Relationships would crumble!