When Someone Understands

My entire life I have dealt with not being okay. There are different reasons why I might not be okay- maybe it is too loud or too bright or too hot or there are too many people or there is too much going on or I am hungry or tired or anxious or just not okay for some other reason. Sometimes I do a pretty good job of getting myself to become okay again; other times not so much. I have learned over the years that there are times I simply cannot handle a situation in a positive way because of how I feel. I have also learned to find a way to escape when I feel this way so that I won’t do something I would regret. But, until recently, I was generally alone in figuring out how to deal with all this.

A few days ago I was at a family event that was overwhelming for me. I felt crowded and hungry and the noises around me seemed extra loud. I went to a chair in the corner of the room and tried to pretend like I was okay. I didn’t really expect anyone to notice or do anything. I was just trying to disappear into my head. But, my sister did notice. She asked if I was okay and if I needed to go to a quiet place to be alone for a while. She and her husband hugged me and told me that it was okay that I was having a hard time. They showed me where I could go to get away from everything for a bit, and while I was away trying to calm myself, my sister made me food and brought it to me.

It felt so amazing that I cried. I cried because people are starting to understand. They are starting to realize when I’m overwhelmed and need a break, and they are helping me. When someone understands it changes everything. It is easier to become okay again when others don’t expect you to be okay in the moment. If they get upset with you or frustrated or scared or react in a way that makes you feel abnormal, it invalidates your feelings. You get upset with yourself because you should not react in that way, you should be able to control yourself, you should not be overwhelmed by the situation.

I feel like I have pretty good self control. I can generally hold in a meltdown until I get to a place where I am alone. I can generally calm myself down enough to get to another room before I get overly upset about a situation. It is hard though. It is hard once you are not okay to do everything on your own to become okay. It is hard to be alone, yet that is often how we believe we must deal with how we feel.

Over the past few weeks, I have had a lot of times when I was not okay. But I have been amazed at the positive, helpful responses I have received in these times. Not everyone has responded positively, but a few people have let me be not okay with them for a few minutes so that I could get to a point of being okay again. It has helped me to become okay so much faster and be able to still participate because I didn’t have to leave before I really wanted to go. Maybe it is not always that easy. Maybe sometimes other people can’t really do anything to help, but if someone can understand, if they can let you know that it is okay to not be okay, that can change everything.

 

Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!

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Coming to Terms

I know I have been posting a lot lately about abuse, suicide, self injury, and things of that nature. I know it worries some of you. I know it saddens some of you. And I know that it may annoy some of you. I know it can be hard to read or difficult to understand or tempting to avoid, but I’m glad you read it anyway.

Right now, I am coming to terms with a lot of things. I am starting to understand myself and the philosophies that have governed my life. I am starting to see my thoughts as they really are and slowly learning to change them. It is hard. I know it is hard for you to read, but it is also difficult for me to comprehend.

I need you. I need this. I need a place I can come to to be completely honest with myself. As long as these thoughts stay in my head, I must deal with them alone, and it is a heavy burden to bear alone. Posting about my thoughts does not diminish the burden, but it does decrease the loneliness. It allows me to receive feedback that I am doing okay, that I am making progress, that even though I must bear the burden alone, the weight of that burden can be shared.

So thank you for being part of this. Thank you for allowing me to share my burden. Thank you for trying to understand even though these may be things you never experienced before or don’t know about. In all honesty, I hope you don’t understand. I hope you don’t know what it feels like. I hope you have never had to go through these things. But I’m glad you care anyway. I really couldn’t ask for any more than that.

Life is Hard: Be Kind

Yesterday at work, one of my coworkers told us about a vocational rehabilitation counselor that ended her life this past week. We don’t know the circumstances surrounding her death or her reasons for choosing to leave this world. What we do know is that life is hard. It’s hard for everyone. Whether you are a counselor or someone in counseling or a human being in general (actually I would include animals too), life is hard.

This post isn’t about suicide. I post a lot about suicide for many reasons. The most prevalent reason is that I know I’m not the only one who thinks about it. I may think about suicide more than the average person, but almost everyone has thought about wanting life to end at some point. This post, though, is about hope.

We are all fighting. We are all living hard lives. We all struggle and fail and fall and falter and wish we could do better and be better and live better. But as hard as life is, there is an undeniable beauty in it. There is beauty in our struggling. There is beauty in our brokenness. There is beauty in everything not being okay. It’s beautiful, not because it is attractive or desirable, but because in our brokenness we can understand. We feel more; we hurt more; we cry more. And in that feeling and hurting and crying, we understand something. We understand the pain of life. In this beautiful understanding, we connect.

We connect to others through our struggles because we know the pain that they feel. We don’t understand their exact situation, but we understand the hardness of life. We understand what it’s like to not be okay, and we can choose to be there for that person. That’s what makes it so beautiful. The struggle is beautiful in that we can be broken together. And in being broken together, we can become whole.

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Suicide

The demons are real.

It is hard to post about certain things because they are so real that you really don’t want people to know just how real they are. Especially when the people who would worry are probably going to read what you write. It’s like giving your mom your journal to read. I could, of course, hide this from anyone who it might hurt, but then they would never know. That’s the problem with mental illness, you don’t want the people who should know to ever know, but the silence solves nothing.

So, here’s the truth: I want to die. I know you don’t see a reason for it. Neither do I. I know I am doing good things. I know I am loved. I know I am needed. I even know I have worth. But suicide calls me like a familiar friend. It greets me with open arms and says, “come find peace”.

I try to stay away. I pray. I search for goodness. I try to stay healthy, to think good thoughts. I listen to uplifting music. I have faith and hope and love. I do good things.

But I scream silently. I struggle with the noise inside of me. I gasp for breath past suicide’s alluring arms. Death… It seems so easy… So near… Just a respite away. I long for it like a parched throat longs for water, yet I know I cannot drink.

The demons are real. I won’t do it… I can’t do it… But the demons are real… Please understand, the demons are real…

Mental Health

I don’t understand the dichotomy between how we treat physical health and how we treat mental health.

I have been experiencing some health issues lately that make it difficult to eat food. To me, these issues don’t really seem like a big deal, but when I tell people about it, their reactions make me think that it may be a bigger problem than I realize. The thing is, I compare my health issues to my mental health issues, and in comparison, my physical health doesn’t seem like much of a problem.

Not being able to eat without being in pain doesn’t seem as bad as not being able to eat because I had an eating disorder or because I was too depressed to eat. Being in constant physical pain doesn’t seem as bad as when I tortured myself for days at a time because my mind told me I deserved it. Feeling like I’m dying doesn’t seem as bad as wanting to die and constantly thinking of suicide or attempting to kill myself.

Yes, my physical health issues are kind of a big deal and affect nearly every aspect of my life right now. But compared to my mental health issues, I hardly consider them worth anyone’s time.

What is worth helping, saving, and taking people’s time is when I want to die. That’s something people can change. That’s something they can help with. Bringing me food because I’m in pain is nice, but it doesn’t change much of my condition. Giving me love when I feel hopeless could change everything.

I’m not saying that mental health is more important than physical health. They are both important. They both need attention and care. But if you really want to make a difference, it’s probably not going to be by finding the cure for cancer. In my experience, the biggest difference is made not on the giant scale of curing disease, but on the tiny scale, the one person at a time scale, of curing loneliness.

Mental health isn’t just a statistical arena. It’s not something you just hear about on the news. It’s something that someone you know is struggling with. It’s something that is just as important as keeping someone physically healthy. It is the most real thing I have ever experienced, and it’s not over. I have hope, but it’s still not over. Mental health is real, and it is serious. Don’t forget that.

Remembering

I spend a lot of time trying to forget. I have spent hours online or playing video games or just lying in bed staring at the ceiling in attempts to forget the pain, to forget myself, to forget that I’m alive. I go running to forget. I drive to forget. I eat to forget.

Sometimes though, I remember. I remember why I want to remember. I remember that life isn’t all bad. I remember the good, the love, the happiness. I remember laughing and singing and jumping and dancing. I remember playing and racing and swimming. I remember joy that rushed through me in moments of sheer bliss. I remember fun times with friends and family. I remember excitement over little and big things. I remember love, just plain loving someone for no other reason than that they were themselves.

And this remembering is amazing and I remember why I am alive and why I want to be alive. I spend so much time trying to forget when I really should focus on trying to remember.

My Story- Suicide and Depression

Five years old. That’s how old I was when I first thought about suicide. I was sitting in the car on the freeway and thought, “if I open this door and just fall out of the car, it will all be over.”

Twenty years later, I still have the same thoughts. “If I just turn the steering wheel, it will all be over.” “If I just use that knife or take that rope or walk off a cliff or loosen my seat belt on a rollercoaster, it will all be over.” I know it’s faulty reasoning. I could miraculously survive one of these methods of suicide, or if there is life after death, it may not be over. It just seems like such a good option sometimes. It seems like the only escape.

I don’t remember when I first felt depressed. Much of my childhood memories are flashes of pictures, glimpses of what may have happened with some vague feelings attached to them. I know that I cried a lot. I remember crying in bed nearly every day from elementary school through middle school. I remember the loneliness was so real that it felt like an extra layer of skin too tight for my body, suffocating me daily.

Therapy seemed useless. How can you cure loneliness? Drugs seemed useless for the same reason. In fact, no one even knew. So there was no way I would have gotten help anyway. I couldn’t tell anyone I wanted to die. Telling someone would make it real. I was afraid of it. I was afraid of the feelings, afraid of the thoughts, afraid that if anyone knew, it would give me a reason to follow through on those thoughts.

I wasn’t always depressed. In fact, I was usually pretty happy, at least with the people who would notice if something was wrong. That was part of the problem. Why would anyone believe I wanted to die when I smiled so much? I had no good reason for wanting to die except for being bullied and not having friends and not being able to communicate how I wanted to and stresses at home and difficulties in school. But I knew I had things good. There were lots of people who were worse off. At least I had a good family and freedoms and God. Life couldn’t be that bad. So I convinced myself to keep living, and I did, and I did a pretty good job of it until college when I started my first suicide attempt.

I practically begged to be heard. I blasted loud music in my room with lyrics about suicide. I wrote Facebook posts and notes stating how much I was hurting and how hopeless I felt. It wasn’t fair to my roommates to expect them to save me, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was drowning and had no where else to turn. I wanted someone to blatantly ask me if I was going to commit suicide because I had a plan and I needed help, but I needed someone to recognize how serious it was because I didn’t know what else to do.

I did end up going to a therapist, which helped minimally, and I attempted suicide again when I returned to school after summer break. It was a slow downward spiral with little hope of changing. Of course, with the periods of happiness and hypomania, it still didn’t really feel serious. I made it through college though and moved back home for a while.

The thing is, the suicidal thoughts never really went away. I took medicine, I went to therapy, I did everything you are supposed to do to feel okay, but I was still broken. I had one year of happiness. One year where I felt so happy that describing the feelings produced happy tears of gratitude and appreciation. There were still dark moments, but they were few and far between.

I became depressed again, plunging into the same cycle of suicidal thoughts and darkness of the mind. I finally found a therapist that helped. I finally had hope.

I have hope. I still think of suicide. I still get depressed. I don’t think people realize the extent of it. How can you take it seriously when you know I’ll never act on it? Or at least will likely never act on it? Even though the threat is minimal though, I sort of wish it was acknowledged more.

I don’t want people to worry, but I do want them to know. I just want positive thoughts, understanding, prayers. I mostly just want to know that I’m not alone, that I don’t have to do it alone. I have accepted depression. I have accepted that the suicidal thoughts will likely never go away. I just don’t want to do it alone. I don’t want to face this alone. You don’t have to understand, but please just let me know I’m not alone.