mental health

Showing Your Self Harm Scars

  1. Tell a close friend or family member and ask them to go with you.
  2. Realize that you’re in control. Bring along a sweater that you can put on if you start to feel anxious, or wear long sleeves pushed up that you can roll down when you feel uncomfortable.
  3. Try showing them around strangers first. You don’t know these people, you don’t have to talk to them, they’re not going to notice your scars, and if for some reason they do? They have no reason to comment on it. And, besides, you’ll probably never see them again.
  4. Visualize showing your scars and having it go well… if you tell your brain that it is going to be ok? Chances are it will start to believe that. And believing that you’re going to be okay is going to increase your chances of actually being okay when you’re in that situation (:
  5. Think of a few replys you can use in response to any possible questions you might get. If you are worried about someone asking about  your scars (which again, chances are most people won’t) it helps to feel prepared by keep in mind a simple answer or two. And remember that you DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER. This is your body, you’re in change, and you don’t have to share anything that you don’t want to. A simple, “I’d rather not talk about it” and then changing the subject is fine. Something I plan to use if anyone ever asks me what happened is, “I got in a fight with myself” and leave it at that. To me that feels comfortable. So find something that will work for you, it can be witty, serious, sarcastic, or maybe your answer is to NOT answer. It’s whatever works for you!
  6. Before hanging out with groups of your friends it might be helpful to (in a calm, one on one, neutral setting where you are comfortable) explain about your self harm to a few close friends first, so that they’re not surprised when they see them and can be there to help support you when showing them around others.
  7. Consider hiding or drawing attention away from them. Bracelets, bandages, makeup, jewelry, creative clothing choices, haha whatever it is, might not completely hide your scars but they can make them less noticeable. Do you plan on swimming but have scars you can’t cover up? Draw a stick figure on a different body part. Sure the scars are still there but theres something else for others to look at. Paint your nails! Get a tattoo! Wear an outfit that you feel good in! I don’t know! Just do whatever you feel will make it easier for you (:
  8. Accept your scars. Yes they’re there. No they’re probably not the most attractive things ever (although I know some people like them). But they show that you have gone through something difficult and made it. You haven’t given up and you’re still trying. You should be proud of that.
  9. Think of something you enjoy doing, that requires showing your scars, and start looking forward to it! Make plans and think about how much fun it will be and all of the things you’re going to do. Look at the big picture. Your scars are just a small part of that day and don’t need to interfere with the rest.
  10. Go try it! Take a chance and go somewhere, for a few minutes or a full day and then tell me how it went! (Here’s how my first day of showing scars went) You can feel good about yourself for overcoming such a big hurdle (:

What has helped you to brave the public eye? Why do you want to be able to show them? Or why do you not?

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You can’t show your cuts in public!

Yesterday’s agenda: Travel 2 hours away to go see my therapist, do some shopping afterwards.

Yesterday’s temperature: 78 degrees.

Yesterday’s main issue: Ran out of lightweight long sleeved t-shirts to wear (why can I never remember to do laundry??), grabbed a sweatshirt on my way out the door though.

Result of yesterday’s temperature and issue: It ended up being too freaking hot to wear my sweatshirt!

I digress, basically, I have never shown my cuts, burns, or scars (which cover mainly my left arm and right thigh) to anyone other than my parents and boyfriend. The self harming thing has been a lot better lately but I did end up cutting a couple of times last week. I’ve thought a lot about showing my scars in public, since I’m trying to stop and summer is getting really close and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to avoid it. I’ve never considered showing them before they were scars though or before I was done self harming.

Apparently though, yesterday I didn’t really care. I was going to a city where I didn’t know hardly anyone, and the people I did see (or who saw me) I’d never see again. So whyyy would I care if they saw my cuts?

Considering that I am usually ridiculously nervous just going out in public where there are *gasp* people! This was pretty shocking even to me.

First place we went into I did get nervous but as the day went on (and my therapist assured me that people don’t notice us as much as we think they do) and I realized no one was paying any attention to my uncovered arm? I was able to relax and be pretty okay with it (:

I still don’t plan on showing my scars around people I know until cutting is something in my past, but going out yesterday has given me a little more confidence for when I DO decide to show them.

In conclusion, do what makes YOU comfortable. Anyone who does judge isn’t worth your time and doesn’t really care about you so why should their opinion matter? And for the most part, they’re not going to notice anyway (: Hang in there!

Have any of you, that self injure, shown your scars in public?

My Goals for the Week

medium_5820119430I’m doing okay (:

I went to see my therapist today and even though I’ve had a few not-so-great days, I’ve been able to recover from them fairly quickly so that they haven’t turned into bad weeks. Instead of being triggered by something, getting really upset, and then having EVERYthing get progressively worse from there… I’ve been able to go back to “normal” shortly afterward. This doesn’t mean I’ve been blissfully happy all week but I’ve been pretty stable with only slight ups and down opposed to my usual highs and super low, long lasting lows. It’s nice… I feel more like me (:

All through my 5 months of weekly therapy we’ve focused on mt anxiety, depression, cutting, panic attacks, emotions, and techniques for dealing with all of these. Anytime something came up about any abuse I may have experienced when I was little, my therapist would say something like, “That’s something that we can start to talk about when you’re ready and feel you are at a point when you can handle it”. Which makes complete sense, bringing up something like that and trying to process it when you’re depressed or anxious isn’t going to go well at all! Today, though, she brought the subject up briefly and even asked me how I would feel about exploring other therapy options in relation to that. While I said I didn’t want to get into that right now (because my summer is going to be pretty busy and potentially stressful, and I want to be able to focus primarily on just that when I decide to tlk and think about it) I’m so excited that she thought I was at a point where I could deal with processing something like past sexual abuse…

It means I’ve made progress!!

I really have made a lot  progress. It hasn’t always felt like it over the months, I’ve had some really bad low points, but I’ve worked really hard to understand what’s going on with my mind and what I can do to help it and I’m starting to learn how to even apply some of those things I’ve found. It’s a lot of work! Anyone trying to recover from a  mental illness will understand that. It can be hard too because most people around you can’t see the amount of effort you’re putting into getting better because for the most part the work all takes place in your head!

So I just want to say to anyone who is working towards getting better… good job! I know how hard it is and how mentally (and physically) exhausting and draining it can be. You should be proud of yourself for putting forth that effort to do what’s good for you (:

Anyway, since I have decided I want to focus on just staying where I am at right now, working on using my relaxation techniques, trying to stay on a good sleep schedule, ect, I thought I would share my list on specific things I want to work on over the next couple of weeks…

  • Acceptance. I’m going through a lot right now. I’m doing really good though so don’t let minor setbacks upset you too much… have a bad day? Feel guilty for something you did? Acknowledge it and move on, you have tomorrow to try again (:
  • Sleep. I was doing good for awhile at turning my computer off at 9 and spending a couple hours trying to relax so I could fall asleep before 12 or 1 in the morning. I need to get back into that.
  • Headaches. For awhile I was doing good at noticing when I was starting to feel anxious or down and then using the appropriate coping skills to deal with it. I have had quite a few especially bad headaches over the last couple of weeks though that have made it hard for me to want to DO anything when I notice my mental state dropping. Physical pain makes it hard to deal with mental and emotional pain. So! Work on a few ideas for coping with headaches (not like I haven’t been doing this for years… I’ll keep trying tho).
  • Balance. I have a couple of trips to make over the next few weeks, so I’m going to be busy. Being busy can lead to stress and anxiety and a physical and mental crash afterwards. Try to pay attention to how I’m feeling while I’m away from home and take a break when I need to. Don’t overdo it! (;

So there you have it. Some of the things I am going to try to work on, think about, and keep in my this week. Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what kinds of things you would put on your list for the week! (:
photo credit: LateEnough via photopin cc

Take Time to Focus on YOU

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It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary. – Mandy Hale

Many of us grow up being taught to be selfless. To give of yourself to others and to put their needs ahead of your own. I agree with this for the most part and know from experience that helping others can bring you real happiness, distract you from your own problems, and help put your problems them into perspective when you see that, really, everyone has struggles of some kind or another and we need to help each other through them.

However, (yes, here comes the “but”) when you are dealing with a mental illness you need to IGNORE some of this. Telling yourself and hearing that you need to just start thinking about others and realize that “there’s always someone who has it worse”? Isn’t going to help. If you’re depressed or anxious you’re probably overwhelmed enough as it is. You don’t need added pressure. It’s okay to focus on yourself. You’re not going to be any help to anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself first. So don’t try and don’t feel bad about it. Realize that you’re taking time to learn to be easier on yourself, to take care of yourself and to make YOU happy so that, later, you can focus on and help your family, friends, ect, better than you’re able to right now.

You need to be able to love and care for yourself in order to love and take care of anyone else properly. This doesn’t mean cutting off all human ties and relationships, but it means letting THEM help YOU for a change. Allow yourself to take the time to do things that you enjoy and find relaxing. To do the things you know you need to in order to get through this. In the long run it will benefit both you and those who you are close to.

I’m discovering that happiness is contagious. I had to stop worrying so much about what everyone else was thinking of me. I had to stop stressing about how I thought I was making them unhappy. Then, when I accepted that was just how things were right now and learned that they didn’t love me any less for it? When I stopped trying to hide how I was feeling in an attempt keep people from leaving me? I realized that THEY were happier because I was happier. Overall it means less stress for everyone and allows me to relax and be okay with taking as much time as I need to care for me! (:

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Well now they know.

Let it go!

– Frozen

photo credit: DonnaGrayson via photopin cc

My Black Dog

I love this video so much… I want to show it to everyone I know so that they’d understand what depression is like. Or I would if I wasn’t too afraid to.

Lately, I feel like I have been constantly trying to explain how I feel to the people who I want to understand… but instead of them saying, “Oh, okay, I see how that could be really hard for you.” I get, “It’s not like I’m asking you to do that much, I don’t understand how that could really be that hard to do… it’s just a car ride (or a prescription or a party).” Or, “I know what you mean! Last week I couldn’t sleep at all. I was laying awake until midnight! (Yeah, no joke, someone said this to me the other day after I told them I was tired) Have you tried *insert any of the following… sleeping pill, tea, face mask, ect* it will help, trust me.” They just don’t get it.

I am running out of ideas and energy to attempt to help people see what I’m going through. Caring enough to even WANT to try sometimes is difficult. The anxiety side of me freaks out because I don’t want to lose the people I love, but depression is telling me that it doesn’t matter and isn’t worth it. And together they make me want to crawl back into bed and not have to think or do anything about it. It’s frustrating.

Do any of you relate to his video? Any suggestions on how to help people understand when I don’t know if I care that they do anymore? How do you do it?

Oh and for the record, I actually have a black lab and he is great. So I don’t want anyone thinking I have anything against black dogs! (; (:

What Does Depression Feel Like?

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Numb. Disconnected. Not interested. Tired. Upset. Drained.

These are just a few of the words that describe how I have been feeling lately. I am in the process of coming out of an unusually bad depression spell, one that has lasted for about three weeks now. It never goes away completely of course, and I’ve struggled with depression for years. But I am hoping that starting this blog will help me to get through my ups and downs with depression and other issues. And maybe encourage some others along the way.

So…

What does depression feel like?

You may be asking this to find out if what you are experiencing is “normal”, or wanting to better understand how someone you know is feeling. Keep in mind that how each person feels when they are depressed is going to vary greatly. Everyone experiences it in their own unique way. Symptoms can fluctuate simply depending on the day and the intensity varies from mild, moderate, or severe. This, though, is an idea of  some common things that people with depression experience.

Brain Fog

Depression can make it incredibly difficult to concentrate. It feels sometimes as if your brain isn’t even there or working. If someone asks, “How are you feeling today?” you might not have an answer for them, you don’t even know how you’re feeling! Or maybe you have a vague idea but trying to find the words to describe it is nearly impossible. It’s as if you can sense all of the words floating around in your brain but you can’t catch any of them and put them to use. Making decisions not only takes way more effort than you’d like but you don’t care enough to think about it and if you did, your brain wouldn’t work enough to come up with an answer. All of this can be very frustrating.

Irritability

Back to the “How are you feeling today?” question. When you’re depressed, the smallest things, like someone asking how you are, can irritate you beyond belief! Things like hearing a fork scraping a dinner plate, or not having milk in the fridge when you really wanted cereal, or your mom saying good morning can make you want to scream , cry, or explode. Or maybe all three at once. Last week I started crying at dinner because I couldn’t stand listening to my parents chewing. Sounds stupid but it drives me crazy.

“I’m so tired”origin_10941256573

Now, I’ve never slept well, it’s always taken me a few hours of laying in bed to fall asleep, even when I was little, but depression makes this worse. During the last three weeks or so my sleep schedule has been really messed up. Not falling asleep until 5 am one night and waking up at that time the next. I can sleep for 14 hours one day and only 2 on another, despite trying everything I know to help me sleep better. You feel like no matter how much you sleep you are always tired, wake up tired, spend the day exhausted, lay awake in bed for hours tired. Depression interferes with how you sleep. Unfortunately lack of sleep also greatly contributes to the severity of your depression, so it can become an awful, vicious cycle.

Lack of Energy

In addition to sleep problems, having no energy is a major part of depression. Even small things can seem overwhelming,  getting dressed, taking a shower, conversing with someone, doing your makeup, the list goes on. Daily activities that the majority of the population do without thinking twice become a full time job for you. It’s as if you are given a certain number of energy points for each day, and because you have depression you are given significantly less than others. And every time you do anything you use one of those points. Got out of bed? 1 point gone. Washed your hair? 1 point gone. Got dressed, ate breakfast, and fed the dog? 3 points gone! And you may only have received 5 points for the whole day and have to go to back to bed!

Struggling with this can make you appear lazy to anyone watching. For example, I will wake up and then spend the entire day hiding in my room, not talking to anyone, browsing the internet, sleeping and occasionally coming out to use the bathroom. To anyone observing this I probably appear like an incredibly unmotivated teenager with no life and who doesn’t care. While this is all pretty true, I do not WANT it! If I could choose to be happy and motivated and to care, I would.  But I have absolutely no energy to do anything else. I will spend countless hours watching episodes of Doctor Who and searching pinterest haha but when I’m depressed I don’t really have an interest in it… it is simply a distraction from the “real world” because life feels too awful, overwhelming, and hard to face or think about.

Loss of Interest  

Did you once enjoy picking up your guitar and playing. Or baking? Or hanging out with friends? And now you don’t care to even touch the guitar or cook anything and you haven’t called or texted any of your friends in weeks, much less seen them? I know the feeling. Depression creeps in and pushes out any interests or hobbies you may have once had. Instead you are left with an empty feeling of not caring. You may feel numb, dead, disconnected from yourself and everyone else. This can takes its toll of relationships. Once you were the “fun friend” the person always doing things and making people laugh, now though, smiles are forced and you make excuses as to why you can’t go out with your friends. You know that you should care about doing things but you just don’t. When I’m at a low point with my depression I go from talking to my boyfriend everyday all day long to just not being able to because it takes too much effort to even text him. At some point you don’t even care about getting better because being miserable is simply easier.

medium_2166290349Feeling Worthless

Depression twists things. It affects how your brain works and views things. It reminds you of every stupid or bad thing you’ve ever done and tells you that because of that, you are a horrible person. And you wholeheartedly believe it. You hate yourself and who you are. Everything is black and white, good or bad. You become overly critical of yourself. Thoughts that everyone would be better of without you or of suicide work their way in. Life feels like too much of a struggle and doesn’t seem worth it because you can’t see it every changing or ever getting better. Depression is like a hole that digs itself deeper and deeper making it seem impossible to get out of. Logically you may even recognize that what you’re thinking isn’t really true but you can’t seem to make your brain understand that.

Changes in Eating 

Normally when I am depressed I don’t eat. Food doesn’t taste good or appeal to me and it takes too much effort to make. Lately though, this has switched, over the last few weeks I have eaten much more than usual because food was distracting from the mental pain and made me feel something for just a little while. Changes in appetite, whether it is emotional eating to fill a void, or eating less due to lack of interest, are a very common result of being depressed.

This is obviously not a complete list of everything that someone with depression feels, but it does cover the main majority of symptoms based off of my own experience and research. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone going through this or who knows someone who is. If not, writing about it is at least something that helps me.  I will be posting more positive articles on how to deal with all of these different things and what I’ve found works to make me feel better.

Thanks for reading! (:

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