This is a project by Dese’Rae L. Stage – about suicide awareness. She interviews those who have attempted suicide and survived. She talks to them, gets their stories, and photographs them. She also has Bipolar 2 and is a survivor of suicide and self injury as well.
Per her website, her project is about:
The intention of Live Through This is to show that everyone is susceptible to depression and suicidal thoughts by sharing portraits and stories of real attempt survivors—people who look just like you. These feelings could affect your mom, your partner, or your brother, and the fear of talking about it can be a killer.
You can find her website at: Live Through This
Be proud of who you are and everything you have overcome.
Word Press Post A Day – When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
I just started doing these Post A Day things from Word Press – I thought it might help me expand on my topics – bring in new ideas to relate to mental health…which is what my blog is about. For the most part, I think it has helped a bit. I think most of them I have been able to relate to mental health/illness in some way, even if it has been a bit of a stretch at times. Except Unlikely Pairing – that one, nope, I just couldn’t tie in. I wrote about it anyway, just to write.
I am passionate about mental health though. I have been affected with mental illness my whole life. There is so much stigma associated with mental illness though. You rarely hear about the great people that have mental illness, just the horrible stories related to it. Everyone just gets a bad picture.
I created this blog to show my struggles, but also my triumphs over my disorders – my bipolar, my borderline personality disorder, and my PTSD. All of which I struggle with daily. I also overcome it everyday though.
Each day I get up, I write on here. I write about what mental illness is, or how to cope with it, quotes related to it, how it has affected me, how it might be affecting me that day, what I am going to do in the future to overcome a challenge that I faced because of it, suicide, sexual abuse, past traumas, therapy, etc.
I’m sure I had writers block in high school related to some silly essay my AP English teacher wanted me to write. When it comes down to something that I am interested in though, something I am passionate about – no, I haven’t had it. I am sure it might come eventually, but so far, it hasn’t hit me. I hope it doesn’t because this is a topic that needs to be spoken up for and needs to be heard.
This is my coping skill. It’s keeping me mentally healthy right now. Or as much as it can anyway.
Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times. In fact, my group of friends is quite small. Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like. But I have friends that do not, and they are great!
I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though. You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.
Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:
1) They listen – My true friends simply listen. They don’t judge me and they just listen. They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking. They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed. Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.
2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone. They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can. They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me. They are empathetic.
3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do. I just ramble on and on. So they ask me what I am wanting. What do I need? This question gets to the bottom of things. Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed. It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”
4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me. They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.” They do not stigmatize mental illness. They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!). This helps so much in the friendship.
5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better. My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc. My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray. My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.
6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them. I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them. Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me. If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend. It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first. Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?
Yesterday I broke down. My anxiety consumed me. I tried to use my copings skills – I went out, went to Michaels – bought some more canvas and paint to come home and paint. I couldn’t handle it though. “Hurt yourself.” “Cut yourself” “Hit yourself” “Break a bone” My brain kept wanting to find a way out of this feeling of extreme dread and torture that was going on.
The minute I got home I knew I couldn’t do what my brain was saying. I had done that before. I did that for two years and all it did was get me put in the hospital, in the ICU, the ER, and the psych hospital. I couldn’t go back to that. I cant go back to that. I am trying to stay in recovery. I am trying to get my life back and stay on track.
I called 211. It connected me to the local crisis line. It is easier than dialing the suicide hotline, all I have to remember is 211 rather than a bunch of numbers, plus the suicide crisis line would connect me to 211 anyway, since it just connects you to your local crisis line. For those of you who don’t know what 211 is – it is a free and confidential informational and referral line available in most cities/counties in the United States. They can connect you with resources to find help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more – and in my area also provide the crisis/suicide line.
Anyway, I spent 33 minutes talking to a wonderful volunteer. Probably 15 minutes crying my eyes out. Eventually we came up with a plan, had some laughs, and I am feeling better. Thank goodness I got my mind set straight because I do not want to end up back in the hospital!
I was assured I could call back as many times as I needed, 24 hours a day, and they could help me.
Today was a rough day, and I suspect it is going to be a rough week. Honestly, I think it is going to be a rough few months. I don’t think my meds are working right, or not well enough anyway – perhaps a dosage adjustment. I don’t think my doctor is getting my anxiety under control at all – at least not quick enough. I know that I can’t give up though. I know not to go back to my old habit – which was just not thinking and just doing. I know I cant be impulsive anymore. Not that it is that easy, impulse is impulse, but I can still keep working on it.
If you are in a crisis reach out for help:
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
In the UK? Call the Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
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
She was one of my best friends. I was a sophomore in college and she had just started her freshman year. We were both stuck in the worst dorm – no air conditioning, small rooms, no elevator, and a bit beat up. She lived across the hall from me.
One night three of us (me, her, and another friend), were sitting in my dorm room talking. We were discussing the hardships of college. Annoying professors, exams, pressures to fit in, extracurricular activities, and all the other stuff that goes along with being in college. We somehow got on the topic of depression. I was depressed. I had been depressed since I was raped my freshman year. I opened up about it. Both of my friends were freshman (yes, I was one of the few sophomores stuck in a dorm full of freshman!) and I felt like being open to them about what I had been through and how I was feeling was important so they would know it was ok to feel down and be open about their thoughts and feelings.
Then she told me something I wasn’t really expecting. She had an eating disorder. She had seemed so happy. She seemed like she was dealing with school so well. How could I have held such a horrible stigma! I was going through my own mental health issues and had kept it hidden, people probably would have thought the same for me – how could she be depressed? She explained how she grew up in an abusive home, her brothers were still dealing with abuse, how she never wanted to eat and when she did she would purge.
I have never had an eating disorder, so I really couldn’t tell her, “I know how you feel.” I could be empathetic though. I could feel her pain. I know what it is like to deal with abuse. I know what it is like to feel out of control. I know what it is like to want control. For me, wanting to kill myself is how I attempt to gain control. When I feel out of control, the only thing I feel like I can control is if I live or die – so I feel like I need to kill myself – I feel like dying is how I can get control of my life. I take my life away, no one else can. Or cutting myself, only I can hurt myself, no one else can.
I was already in therapy, and after much convincing, my other friend and I talked with her to get her to discuss this with our college psych department. She entered therapy. However, through this she realized that the best thing to do was to take a semester off. She never returned to college though. Sometimes I feel like I ruined her chance at an education because of my stepping in, but I also know that if I hadn’t I do not know how far it might have gone and how much it would have hurt her. I am proud to say she is doing well though. She has a beautiful daughter. She is raising her on her own and providing for herself financially. She is happy and seems to be managing her eating disorder well.
People say that is what eating disorders are about – getting control. I am not sure if that is how it is for everyone. As I said, I have never had one. So if you are reading this, please comment and let me know what it is like for you. Any insight is welcome.