Two years into my road to recovery

This week is a special week for me, as it marks two years since my last suicide attempt, 2 years since I was deathly under-weight and it almost killing me, and 8 months clean of self-harm. What an earful, but I am grateful. I am grateful that I am still alive today, I am grateful for having the self-control to not continue to hurt myself, and I am grateful for being at a healthy weight. I have accomplished so much since my last suicide attempt. I graduated high school, I am finishing up my first year of college with a week and a half to go, and I started this blog. I have grown as an individual, in the sense that I change the way I see things, the way I see life. When I was in the deep pits of despair, to the point where I thought ending my life would fix everything, I always thought pessimistically. I never saw the bright side to anything, and I never wanted to. I would lose hope at the smallest inconvenience in my life, and based my whole entire mood around that mindset, and no one could change the way I thought. I found a comfort in my sadness, and when I felt a little bit of joy creeping in id shut it out because it wasn’t what I was used to. I wanted to get better, but a part of me didn’t because I was scared of not knowing what that felt like. I had forgotten what actual joy felt like, and I wasn’t biting at the bit to find out. It always gave me anxiety to know that something good could actually happen in my life because it could go wrong at any moment, and in a way, it did. My eyes saw the world as black and white at this moment in my life. I was so convinced that I would be this way forever, and that the only way to end the constant pain and torture of living and breathing everyday was to die.

I relapsed my second month into college. I was doing so well for about 6 months and then something happened in my life, and I just snapped. I was back to my old ways and it felt comforting because that’s all I knew for the past 4 years. When someone self mutilates, there is a release of endorphins that make you feel good and relieved after you hurt yourself, just like crying. I have more scars on my arms and legs than I can count, but thy are a constant reminder that I am in a constant battle with myself and I am here to win. I used to be embarrassed of my body, mostly my arms because people don’t understand why you would do that to yourself, but no longer am I ashamed of what has happened to me. They are only there to remind me to better myself.

I am now at a healthy weight where I can live without my doctors worrying if I’m going to live until the next year because I couldn’t maintain a normal, healthy weight. Two years-ago my weight was so insanely low that I didn’t eat for 24 hours, that it helped enable a collapsed lung. I was stuck in the hospital for 3 days until they could get my lung working a normal rate again. I was not healthy, and I didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure I was health because I obviously didn’t care at the time, but I’m better now, much better. I haven’t had nearly as many suicidal thoughts in two years, I have been clean for 8 months, and I am at an extremely healthy weight. I have my bad days where I feel myself slipping back into old times, but I remind myself, every day, that I am here to stay. Id say I’m thriving right now and I couldn’t be anymore giddy.

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Relapse means recovery

When we think of recovery from a mental illness, we think that we aren’t supposed to relapse or have bad days. Well, I am here to tell you that we do relapse and we do have bad days, and it’s okay. Some days I feel sad. Some days I think about self-harming again whenever the smallest inconvenience happens to me. Some days I want to go to sleep and never wake up again. Some days I get irritable. Some days I forget to take my medicine. And some days I think about killing myself. I have these thoughts and emotions, and I think I’m not supposed to, and that I’m possibly going down that dark road again. I’ll be doing so well for weeks and then something small or big happens to me that I don’t like, and I feel like relapsing into the old person I used to be. I get scared of myself sometimes because I’m afraid that I’m not strong enough to not act upon those feelings. I just assumed that I’m supposed to have nothing but good days throughout my road to recovery when in fact, I’m supposed to have bad days, so I can appreciate and recognize the good ones.

Having a moment of relapse into your old ways doesn’t make you weak or invalidate all the progress you’ve made thus far. It doesn’t mean you stop trying to become better just because you had a moment of darkness. I used to beat myself up if I relapsed by self-harming, or going off on everyone who came near me because I was irritable because I didn’t take my medicine because I saw that as all my hard work going down the drain, and I saw myself never getting better because I had one minor setback.

These last few months, for example, have been extremely hard for me for various reasons, big and small. I get into arguments with different family members, and it leaves me so angry that I wanted to die. Now, that doesn’t mean that I actually wanted to hurt myself or die because I am doing better, and I am not the same suicidal person I was months ago. I am having a minor setback, yes minor. Some days I get so mad because I argue with them over little stuff and I take it hard and I think I’m failing, but I am actually happier, than I have been in the past four years, because I am getting better, and these past few months don’t define my whole recovery and treatment process.

If you have relapsed in any way while in the process of getting healthy and happy again, I am here to let you know that that means absolutely nothing. Relapse means recovery, and you can’t heal and become a better version of you if you don’t have something to compare the good days to. If all you see is good days and no bad days, then the good days aren’t going to feel as rewarding. I promise it is okay to feel not okay sometimes. It is all a part of our healing process, and that is something I have to remind myself of every single day.

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I found a strange peace and comfort in loneliness

Before I developed mental illness, I was an extreme extrovert. I talked to anyone and everyone who was willing to talk to me. I had zero anxiety when it came to making new friends. In fact, I always put myself in situations to make new friends. I was the girl in school who always cracked jokes and kept class alive. I even befriended my teachers, and was just an all around social butterfly. That all quickly changed when I started spiraling into a depression.

We have all heard that people who suffer from Depression, like to isolate themselves from everyone, and of course that was the case for me. Four years later, from the time I was diagnosed with Depression, I have found myself to be an extreme introvert now. I choose to be alone, and I like being alone. I like to do things on my own, and have found a peace and comfort in keeping to myself. This year was my first year of college and I haven’t made as many friends as I thought I needed and wanted. Fall semester, I was pretty bummed because I felt alone, and I was told college was supposed to be the best four years of my life, and I was going to find my life long friends, but yet every time I had the opportunity to make friends, I found myself straying away from those opportunities. I found myself doing activities around campus alone because I never put myself out there to be seen by other students, and frankly, I wasn’t jumping out of my seat to find my next best friend.

My parents constantly ask me why I haven’t made many friends yet and I realized, I don’t want to stick my neck out for people to just come and go out of my life as they please. I have had some heart break throughout these past four years of suffering from my illness, and I’m just not ready to be that girl again. For the time being, I have found comfort in doing thigs on my own, and being alone. And don’t get me wrong, yes, I get down occasionally because everyone needs companionship, and a best friend they can go to. My friends are back home, and even when I’m back home visiting, I’m not rushing to see them. I have found a peace in taking time to better myself, and getting to know myself before I am ready to be that crazy, fun, extroverted girl again. And who knows, maybe she will never be back, maybe this is me growing into the person I was always supposed to be. I am getting older, and my friends and I are going our separate ways. For now, I am taking this time to focus on my mental health and school, and then my friends will be there if they want and I they don’t they can leave. I’m not bitter about it, I just have found myself turning into a different person, one who isn’t consumed with sadness and darkness, and always feeling the need to please everyone around me. I’m going to continue to keep to myself and see where life takes me.

This post probably sounds like I am opposed to having friends and that I hate my friends, and that isn’t the case at all. I love my friends, and if I make some along this journey then great, but I’m just not going to stress myself out trying to put extra energy into people who wouldn’t do the same for me.

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The signs that helped reveal my mental illness

It was around September of 2014 when I truly started to realize I was not the same person I was a few months prior. I smiled less, I ate less, I socialized less, and I left my room less. Practices were miserable for me because I couldn’t bring myself to smile and enjoy doing the sport I loved so much, and being round the people who made it even better. Every day it was the same routine. I’d come home from school, go to my room, shut the door, pull the covers over my head and go to sleep, until my parents begged for me to come out and eat something that night. Most of the time I lied and said I already ate just so I wouldn’t have to leave my room, but they didn’t care, they weren’t buying it. I didn’t eat lunch at school, and I didn’t say a word during lunch. My friends would sit around me talking and laughing and I’d be in the middle wallowing in my sadness. In the beginning they’d ask me what was wrong, but they soon quit asking after about 2 weeks because I still wouldn’t have said anything. Those first few months leading up to my discovery of my mental illness, I was quite mute. I talked very little at church, and after church was over I would go to the car and wait for my mom to come out, so we could leave. I never cried during those months. I was more numb than anything, and didn’t really know what was happening to me, I just knew I was me anymore.

Every day was a miserable cycle of me feeling empty and not knowing what to call it. I knew why I was sad, I had some personal problems going on in my life that triggered me into this mood shift, as I called it. I didn’t think I had depression until someone pointed it out that, that is what most likely had. I kept telling my mom I didn’t have it, and I didn’t need therapy. I was in denial. In all honesty, I didn’t really know what Depression was until I was diagnosed with it. I didn’t think a mental illness could find its way inside of me, ever.

Here are some of the signs that presented themselves to me and the people around me, alarming them of my soon to be mental illness:

  1. I isolated myself from my friends and family
  2. I stopped eating
  3. I didn’t enjoy doing the things that made me smile, anymore
  4. I hated talking to people
  5. My grades started to suffer
  6. I slept anytime I got the chance
  7. I became irritable
  8. And most importantly, I began to think about dying, excessively

These signs pertained to me, but are generalized with Depression, and are usually the signs in every other person suffering with this illness. If you start to notice these signs and symptoms in you or someone you know, I encourage you to receive help immediately. Catching this infectious illness that manifests its way into your brain early could save someone’s life. Don’t ignore the signs, receive the help, that is why it is there.

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Coping with chronic illness and Depression

Living with chronic illness or pain for any single individual is a pain within itself, but add on Depression, and you feel like you’re dying. I currently suffer from stomach peptic ulcers and heart disease along with my mental illnesses. For some people, their Depression is a side effect of their chronic illnesses. For me, it is a little different. I had Depression before I developed my stomach ulcers. Ulcers are holes in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine, and I developed my ulcers from my first suicide attempt, trying to overdose on a variety of pills. Ulcers cannot be cured, but can be treated. In other words, I will live with them for the rest of my life. Having Depression, along with my ulcers, is a constant battle because when I have a flare up in my stomach, I am further reminded of why I have them. Ulcers cause an excruciating amount of pain in your stomach that will have you hunched over crying for hours. It is a gnawing, burning sensation that doesn’t go away until it is ready. There are acid reducers that reduces flare ups, but they come anywhere, at any time. So, when I am in pain, it causes me not to want to do anything, but lie in my bed, in the fetal position. I don’t want to eat because it makes me nauseas, therefore, I sink into a depressed state because I’m not doing anything except wallowing in my pain, being miserable.

Living with heart disease and Depression is also a constant battle. I have high blood pressure, and systolic murmur affecting how my valves work. I have to wear a heart monitor every single day, every hour on the dot. I am constantly out of breath, I am always sweating, even when it is 30 and below outside, I will most likely be in short sleeves and have the window cracked in the car or my room. I have palpations that make me feel like I am having an anxiety attack every hour of the day. I can’t do dimple things like brush my hair or teeth without feeling exhausted causing me to want to only sit in my room and do nothing because it is easier that way. I am lethargic and sleepy all the time. If I am not in class, I am in my bed sleeping. There are many other symptoms I could list that make me feel dead all the time, but you get it. These symptoms are those alike of Depression, so I can never really tell if I am depressed or my heart is just acting funny.

Chronic illness is very different for certain people. Chronic illness for me hinders my every day activities, so on top of me naturally having zero motivation because of my Depression, I have sickness that makes me feel heavy and sick all of time, enabling my depression. How do I cope with it? Honestly, I have to find different ways to push through it. Sometimes it is calling my parents to receive motivation to just get out of bed, some days I have to just go for a walk around campus to get my spirits up even I don’t feel like it. I will also take my medicine to make sure I am feeling half-way up to par every day, so I can find the strength to go to class. I go to my cardiology appointments whenever I am scheduled, so I can continue to be as healthy as possible, and so I can remind my self that the effort is there.

Chronic illness goes hand in hand whether you have Depression because of your chronic illness, or whether you had it to begin with and chronic illness is just another obstacle that you have to deal with. Either way I encourage you to just do your absolute best. There aren’t any set rules that you have to follow to feel good every day because that just isn’t possible when you’re in this situation If you have, make a list of positive affirmations around your room to remind you that your best is enough. If all you did that day was get out of the bed to change your clothes, and get back into bed, that is perfectly okay, because at least the effort was there. If you are having trouble coping with your illnesses, both physically and mentally, please feel free to contact me and we can help each other in the best way we know how.

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