Post A Day – She Saved My Life, Stopped Me From Ending It All

Word Press  Post A Day:  Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

 

Growing up, I was quite social.  I can’t say I had one BFF.  I had lots of friends, and some I hung out with quite more frequently though.  Leah and Alex come to mind during my 4th and 5th grade years.  I had started a new school and immediately found them to be great friends.

As I went onto 8th grade, I can honestly say that I did grow to have a best friend.  Although I am not sure best friend is the right word…I think true friend is more accurate.  She listened to me, cared about how I felt, and we did things together.  Vicki was there for me when no one else was.  Throughout my severe depression, she showed me that I wasn’t alone.  I was extremely suicidal and I know she did not know how badly I felt this way, but her actions kept me from ever actually carrying out my plans.  She literally saved my life in high school.  I wasn’t social in high school, in fact I was pretty withdrawn because of my depression and past history of sexual abuse, I didn’t trust people. With Vicki though, I could be open and honest.  She kept me strong and I got through high school and graduated.  She was my best friend, but she was more than that – she was a true friend, and honest friend, a real friend. 

I personally enjoy being a lone a lot of the time.  I do however think that having someone to confide in it important.  Isolation can lead to bad things.  It can lead to depression.  Loneliness is horrible.  Many people might say they don’t need other people, they don’t need friends.  I said that for a long time too, and still say that sometimes, but I am really just hiding the fact that I am scared to let people in. In fact, I wrote about this just the other day, how I longed for friendship, but didn’t know how to let anyone in.  I am not sure it matters that you have one person as a friend who matters the most, and I don’t think that you should have a ton of friends, but I think if you at least have someone or a few people that you do trust and can go to and confide in or hang out with and have fun, that is what is important.

 

LGBTQ – Not a Mental Illness, but they are face with mental health issues

Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual.  Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.

These are not a mental illness.  In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM.  All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.

However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals.  It is not due to their beliefs though.  In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis. 

When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high.  Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur.  Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur.  All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.

It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be.  No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them. 

We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need.  All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.”  I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so.  I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help.  Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry.  Friendship and understanding.

I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college.  I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so.  It was hard for them.  They were not treated that great.  But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal.  Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago.  But it still is a really big deal at the same time.  So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources. 

Some resources are:

GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)

Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html

NAMI – GLBT Resources

Crisis Intervention Team – Importance of Having CIT Trained Law Enforcement

Recently on The Journey of Kylie, she blogged about a situation involving the cops handcuffing her in a rough, violent manner during a mental health encounter when she was not violent or resisting them in a violent manner at all.

This got me thinking about CIT officers.  CIT officer stands for Crisis Intervention Team.  These are officers within the police or sheriffs department who are trained to interact and deal with individuals who have mental health illness. 

I have personally dealt with CIT officers when I was in college, on many occasions.  All of my interactions with them were very positive.  In my city, the majority of officers were trained in CIT.  In fact, when they were trained, part of their training was to go to the local psych hospital and talk to the patients and get our perspectives on how we were treated by police officers when they were called to our apartments/houses.  I was in the psychiatric hospitals multiple times, so I talked to those going through training about 3 or 4 times to help them understand what would help me if they came to my apartment, and what would not help me, and my past experiences were like. 

Not everyone has positive experiences though.  As you can tell from The Journey of Kylie, interactions with cops during a mental health issue, is not always positive.  And not every city has CIT trained officers.  In fact, a lot of cities don’t.  There are actually countless stories of people with mental illness being shot and killed by cops for one reason or another when it could have been prevented if another tactic could have been used to help them rather than kill them. 

It is really absolutely reprehensible that these things are happening.  People with mental illness should not be treated like this.  If we are not an active threat to someone else.  If we are not an active threat to ourselves.  Holding a gun.  Holding a knife.  Holding something that could be used as a weapon and actually dangerous.  If we are not resisting arrest and causing problems.  Why are we being shot and killed?  Why are we being slammed against walls and handcuffed? 

Yes, I have been taken to a hospital in handcuffs.  But my hands were cuffed by my sides or in front of me.  I accept this and understand why this was done.  It was explained to me and done in a dignified manner.  While I did not really see the need for it as I was not resisting and was voluntarily going, I was treated respectfully at least.  But these awful treatments of people with mental illness are completely unacceptable.  They are not and should not be accepted by anyone. 

If you do not have CIT officers in your city, talk to your criminal justice department about implementing it, I have listed some resources that you could contact about it at well:

CIT International

NAMI – CIT

Mental Health Crisis Institute – Law Enforcement CIT Training

FBI – CIT Article

 

 

 

You Don’t Make Me Pull My Hair Out, But Seriously, I Do Pull My Hair Out

“You are going to make me pull my hair out!”

Well, let’s be honest, you may get angry or frustrated, but you aren’t going to pull your hair out because of someone.

For some people though, they really do have an urge to pull their hair out.  They have a disorder called trichotillomania – or trich – for short.  The most common places they pull hair from are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.  This will leave noticeable bald patches.

Depending on who you talk to, there is a debate on how trich is classified.  Some say it is an impulse control disorder, some say it is related to OCD, others say it is a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). 

It can be found in all age groups, including infants!  However, most commonly it appears in the tween – teen years. 

According to the DSM V the symptoms of trichotillomania are:

  1. Recurrent pulling out of one’s hair, resulting in hair loss.
  2. Repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling.
  3. The hair pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  4. The hair pulling or hair loss is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., a dermatological condition).
  5. The hair pulling is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder).

There really is no known cause of trich.  It is thought to have a neurologically predisposition.  It is also thought to occur as a coping mechanism during stressful events.  I personally tend to pull out my eyebrow hairs during times of stress when I get anxious.  I do not do it all the time though and have learned to cope with it better when I have something to do with my hands such as play with a stress ball.  I tend not to notice I am doing it though unless someone points it out.  Many people with trich cannot control their urges though. 

Some treatment options have been used.

  1. Therapy is the most common one.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used.  Other forms of therapy can also be used depending on your psychologist (or other type of therapist you see) and how you feel the best way of going about it is.  There are clinics around the US that specifically specialize in treating trich.
  2. Some medications have been thought to help trich although none are officially approved for it at this time.  Naltrexone and Topomax are two that some people have tried. Others have also been prescribed SSRI’s. 
  3. Support groups specific to trich are also important to gain connections with those that are dealing with the same problems you might be going through.

If you want more information on trichotillomania, a wonderful site to go to is http://www.trich.org/index.html

Some other sites that give general information about trich include:

 

***(There is also another disorder called dermatillomania – this is similar to trichotillomania.  It involves skin picking though, where a person will pick at there skin such as scabs until the skin is bleeding. If you would like more information about this, go to: http://www.skinpick.com/dermatillomania.)

 

Longing for a Friend, but Not Wanting Anyone Near Me

I am so scared to meet people and get close to people, and yet I long to have friends to trust and be able to go to and spend time with.  My mind can’t decide which is more important – protecting myself from possibly being hurt, or taking the chance of actually having someone to help me when I am feeling hurt.  I know this occurs partially because of my BPD – pulling people in and pushing people away.  But I think it really occurs with all mental illness in some aspect, and I think mine occurs more because of my social anxiety than anything.

Since the abuse from when I was younger, the molestation by my teacher in 7th grade, I have had a hard time trusting anyone.  I began to isolate from any friendships that I did have.  We moved the year after the sexual abuse happened and I didn’t want to make new friends or have to trust anyone.  Despite that, I really wanted to – I wanted to be able to confide in someone, to have them tell me everything would be ok. 

Now, 13 years later, my mind still works that later.  Constantly arguing with itself – should I socialize or isolate?  I am terrified to go out and meet people.  Will they judge me?  Will they see through me, will they see that I was abused? Will they blame me for it?  What if they find out I am on disability, what will they think of me then? 

What if they actually like me though, and then they want to hang out with me? See, I have been able to meet people sometimes.  I have made some friends.  But I am not someone who can constantly be around people non-stop.  I still need my space or I get overwhelmed.  I feel trapped, just like when I was being abused.  So keeping the friendship is hard for me because I begin to pull away and isolate.  Turning down offers to hang out, quit answering phone calls, and slowly letting the relationship dissolve until they no longer call me.

Isolating is so bad for our mental health though.  It keeps us in a negative state of mind.  Sure, it is good for us to have time for ourselves.  It is actually healthy for us to take time out for ourselves and spend time alone — sometimes!  Key word, sometimes.  But when we let our depression or anxiety take over and keep us from getting out to do things or spend time with others, we are preventing ourselves from actually enjoying life and living.  It is something I really need to work on.  I have definitely not won this battle yet.  I struggle with the social anxiety.  And when I get depressed it compounds my isolation even more. 

It’s funny how we can long so much for company and yet not want anyone near us at the same time.  Our minds work in funny ways. 

Post a Day – My Flaws and Imperfections, I’m Only Human

WordPress Post A Day  -  We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of the summer of 2014?

I’m not perfect.  I am going to screw up.  I can’t live up to everyone’s expectations. 

This summer, I owned up to that.  I took off my mask and quit hiding behind it.  I quit pretending like I could be happy all the time, I could be perfect all the time, like nothing that was said to me or done to me hurt me.  Because you know what?  It did, people hurt me.  They said hurtful things, they did hurtful things.  I suffered from mental illness and I wasn’t always happy all the time.  I couldn’t be strong all the time.  I’m human.  I’m only human.

 I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

I try to make myself believe that I can do everything, that I can be someone I am not.  Throughout my life I have done this.  If you read my Post A Day yesterday, you will see I have done this my whole life.  But this summer, I learned I don’t have to do this anymore.  I can be who I am.  Christina Perri’s song ‘Human” describes perfectly what my Summer 2014 has been all about – discovering my inner strength – my power – to reclaim and show that I don’t have to be perfect.  I can be vulnerable, and that is ok.  It is hard, it is hard to let people in, and I am still working on it, but it is possible and it is ok.

Holding my breath, Biting my tongue, forcing a smile, forcing a laugh – that just isn’t possible anymore.

I can take so much
‘Til I’ve had enough

For me, once I have had enough, my only way out was suicide, and I can’t keep turning to that.  So this summer, I have begun to reclaim control.  Or, work on reclaiming control I should say! It is a work in progress and always will be a work in progress as that is how mental illness is – a lifelong struggle and battle. 

As I look back on the summer of 2014, I will remember this song, and how it showed me – it is ok to have flaws and imperfections, that is what makes us human and quite honestly I don’t want to be a robot! But in all seriousness, flaws and imperfections are just as important as our strengths, they make us unique!

Little Things the Make Life Worth Living

So often we look at the things that make us not want to live.  We don’t look at the little things in life that are so simple and yet make us smile.  Here is a list of 25 little things, that for me, make life worth living -

   (oh, and I really had to think about this, it was no easy task.  Although the more I did it, I kept thinking of sillier and sillier things that did make me happy. Thinking of positives is so much harder than picking out the negatives!)

         

1. The smell of a wood burning fireplace on a cold winter day

2. A hot shower when you are freezing cold from the bitter wind blowing in your face

3. Customer Service making everything better without an argument!

4. Being able to sleep in, and actually sleeping in – no kids to wake you up, no sun in your eyes, no alarm going off, and no surprises.

5. Dogs (or any animal) that comes to cuddle with you when you are sad

6. The beautiful color of the tree leaves when fall comes and all you see are red, orange, and yellow

7. Digital photos – you can see if the picture is good and you can delete it and make sure no one sees it if it isn’t!  

8. Indoor swimming pools

9. Kindle (or Nook) – I have all my books in one place! No more having to lug them around. 

10. Of course, I still love the smell of a good old fashioned paper book!

11. The sunset, knowing that tomorrow starts a new day

12. Being in crowded store and a cashier secretly telling you that they are opening their register! Score!!

13.  Clean public restrooms

14.  A stranger’s smile :)

15.  Finding money in a pocket of a jacket I hadn’t worn since last winter $

16.  Making a to-do list of things I have already done, and checking it all off.  Accomplished!

17. Walking barefoot in the grass

18.  Popping bubble wrap

19. Breakfast for dinner.

20.  Getting mail, like a letter, not an email.

untitled

21. Talking into a fan and making a robot voice (its fun even when you are an adult)

22. Eating peanut butter with a spoon

23. Free shipping

24. Memories that can make you laugh years later

25. Enjoying something so much you lose track of time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers