It’s not often I share a portion of my creative writing on this blog, but I feel like I might as well, it might help me get back in the groove of writing. I also don’t write poems often, nor do I ever follow any forms of poetry when I do write them (so cut me some slack on that, poetry fanatics) but here’s a poem I wrote last night just freely, without restriction or editing. I posted it on Booksie, along with the one following it, but would like to put it here as well. I’m changing the title to: “Veiled”
The truth has thorns,
and the darkness has arms;
happiness lies, and anger explodes.
We move along this common ground,
you and I,
a soup of emotions, ready to blow.
The nature of progression pushes us forward;
we move silently through strife,
and why, who knows.
Plant our feet carefully between mines
we know are there yet we cannot see,
and be, we try, with ourselves,
however bitter that may seem.
We come across a stream that flows free,
how we wish we could be,
blue, crisp, and clear,
with a purpose dear,
to this Earth,
and we envy the stream.
But free we are in the mind and heart,
as the stream can never be,
rejoice, I say, for we are unique.
the darkness has arms,
and we have voice.
This one is entitled “Freedom”.
A renewing of strength,
I stretch my fingers, crack my neck,
I feel I haven’t lived for years.
The sun shines bright, an orange morning light,
and I wonder how long this will last,
this time I know this is real.
Birds chirp their welcome songs,
trees dance in the breeze,
and I observe it all,
a caged bird now freed.
A renewing of strength,
this feels contagious,
a bubbling pot on the stove not contained by any lid,
The majority of what you all have heard about this new job I have is the training we went through.
Tonight I figured I’d let you in on the alternative to a mental hospital. The alternative that is severely underfunded, understaffed, and few and far between.
I took you all through each day of that. In fact, the last post I published on the subject matter of IPS, which you can read here, was noticed by the organization and they published it on their Facebook page.
Somehow they found my identity. I’ll worry about that later.
What I think I did not mention, was that it wasn’t so much of a training as it was a chance to experience a different way of connecting with people, a way of personalizing your time with someone, a way to establish mutuality where both people involved learn and grow with each other.
It’s something not prevalent within the mental health system (I.e, Hospitals), I’m sure we can all agree on.
If you’ve read my past blogs, you’re familiar with the fact that I’ve spoken often of, and started this blog on the concept of STIGMA. Particularly the concept of SELF-STIGMA.
The concept of “I’m so sick, I’m broken”.
The concept of “I’m so broken, I can’t be fixed”.
The concept of “being fixed”.
Whatever any of that means.
But most importantly, the concept of self-advocacy. The idea that you are both your worst enemy and best friend, and that no one understands you better than you. That if you don’t put the work in, if you don’t take a step back and see what part YOU play in your behavior, your actions, and your thoughts, than nothing is ever going to change, regardless of your diagnosis.
As you know, we often stigmatize ourselves and each other within the mental health community, sometimes more often than those on the outside do. I read a great post on this issue by a fellow blogger over at A Schizoaffective Story, and if you’d like to read his post on this issue, click here. I think he does a wonderful job of being concise but illuminating some of the main struggles of this stigma within the mental health community. I hope he doesn’t mind me linking this post.
This is where a respite house comes in.
Let me explain how this respite house works.
We do not restrict you. In doing so, we are giving you a lot of freedom and are being vulnerable to manipulation. In that openness, we invite you, tacitly, silently, to also be open. Usually it works. I notice how trained some people are coming from hospitals and the county where they have to ask to do everything: “can I use this dish? Can I color before I go to bed? Can I sit outside to eat?” And being bombarded by these questions saddens me. “Can I color before I go to bed?”
We are 18+
We are free, via government funding. Small government funding.
We have 6 available beds.
You can go for a walk whenever you want. You can come and go as you please, as long as you are home at night so you can stay overnight.
We take field trips.
We do not take care of your medication, we do not handle your food, we do not answer the guest phone, we do not treat you like a child. We do not lock you up, medicate you, or shout at you.
Most importantly, for God’s sake, We are your peers. We have been suicidal, we have attempted suicidal, we have been depressed. We have heard voices, we’ve seen hallucinations, we’ve road the roller-coaster of Bipolar, and the sudden terror of PTSD. We’ve had panic attacks, we’ve had anxiety, we’ve struggled with Ritualistic OCD, intrusive thoughts, and serious mental pain. We are NOT clinical. We are not doctors, we are not psychologists, we are not therapists or social workers or counselors. When you tell us you want to kill yourself, we don’t shove a needle in your arm. We don’t pound a diagnosis on your head. We take you out back under the tree where the birds are chirping and we say: “That’s heavy. I’ve been there. What’s been going on?”
We are support. We’re not your parents. We’re not your doctor.
When you ask “what should I do?” We don’t act like we have the answer if we don’t. In fact, we say “I’m still struggling with that. To be honest, I have no clue. But . . .let’s try and do this together”.
What we do is create a community of people. We’ve all struggled, we are all still struggling.
When I interviewed for a job at this place, I was a little off put by the manager. When he read my cover letter (I believe I included the anxiety, depression, and schizotypy), he said we had things in common. He speaks very softly, but packs so much authenticity and meaning into one word I was momentarily dazed. He told me I wasn’t alone and that we were all in this together (something along those lines) and I didn’t know how to respond.
In all honesty, my first thought was “what the fuck is this? You gunna fatten me up and cook me or some shit?”.
In response to true kindness and understanding, I went on the defense.
Because that’s not the treatment a lot of us are used to. We’re not used to support. We’re not used to people relating. We’re not used to connection on that level.
We’ve gotten used to the idea of “help” being someone trying to fix us, someone trying to give us the answers to our never ending questions, someone we speak to in order to up our medication dosage and spend 10 minutes asking us how the medication has been acting lately.
And then we wonder why we keep ending up in the same places over and over again.
This concept of a respite house is the future of mental health. This is the direction we need to go. This is what funding needs to go towards. Community, mutuality, support.
Not a traumatizing moment of being smacked onto a bed and strapped at the ankles and wrists.
Not a person of authority to tell you you’re broken, or to reinforce the sense of helplessness you already feel.
We’re here to tell you you’re not alone. We’re here to be vulnerable too: to cry with you and tell you how frightening and uncertain things are. We’re here to be human towards you.
This is the program, alongside IPS, that isn’t talked about. It’s not advertised. It’s not given as an option to many people.
Evening for me, probably morning for you, afternoon maybe. I know I get a lot of views from people across the world (which, holly hell, thank you so much for reading, even if all you get to is this sentence and you think *fuck, she’s boring me already* and click out. You’re still awesome to me. -cue thumbs up and winky face-)
Good -enter time of day here-, all.
I just thought I’d take a moment out of my night time to discuss something interesting with you all.
The idea of positive and negative in this world.
We’ve seemed to really . . . well, blatantly, fuck it up.
We’ve got this misconception that “negative” means “bad” and “positive” means “good”and that one is desirable and the other should be exonerated.
At this point all you word nerds out there who are frantically googling the word “negative” for the origins just ready to blast me in the comments saying “negative is literally the definition of bad, idiot”.
But what you will find is word nerds who care much more about semantics than your whining and will kindly, but perhaps aggressively and arrogantly correct you: negative is simply the denial of something, the absence or something. Positive can be seen as the affirmation of something.
Rather than continue the tradition of the original meanings of the word, we’ve transformed them into tools to use against and/or shame people into thinking or behaving how we think they should.
People tell you to “think positively”.
They tell you to “not think so negatively”.
Let’s break these phrases down a little, shall we?
When you say “ugh, this really sucks, I’m so depressed, I just can’t stop all these negative thoughts” and you get that horrendous reply of “try and think more positively about things”, do you realize what that person is actually suggesting?
Before you punch them in the face, think about this, think about how we’re all misunderstanding the terms we use on a daily basis.
By them suggesting you think more “positive”, they’re essentially saying “don’t think negatively”.
Hmm. So how do you do that?
You don’t ever think negative without having thought positive at some point in your life. Humans are like magnets: we have a positive pole and a negative pole. We don’t have one without the other, because their very definitions imply there is an opposite.
The goal isn’t to ignore negativity. The goal isn’t to pretend it’s not there and just think more positively. Do you know what that’s called? Do you know what ignoring the “negative” or more properly, the “bad” and focusing only on the bright side of everything? That’s called repression. And if you struggle with your mental health, repression will only escalate both.
When you have thoughts in your head that feel like they are overwhelming, that feel like they are horrible and “negative” and they’re pressuring you to end your existence because, fuck it, nothing goes right, everything is bad . . .
That’s fine. That’s fine and you will make it through that. It’s okay to feel fucking worthless and stupid and horrible and dumb and it’s okay to be self-loathing. It’s okay to HURT.
You’re human. You’re going to. And if you try and avoid it, it will only hit you ten times harder.
What those people are suggestion when they ask you to think more positively is to essentially ignore the negative and focus on only one side, the bright side.
This isn’t to say succumb to those feelings. It’s only an encouragement to talk those things out. The place I’m working now just avoided a horrible incident of suicide because of auditory hallucinations with the same tactic. It took four days of a lot of talking, a lot of human connection, but to see the smile on someone’s face once more when they realize the people around them have helped them through the negativity, to realize that they themselves can survive when things are horribly rough, is priceless.
They don’t tell people “don’t think so negative”; they don’t tell people “It will help if you think more positively”. They don’t say “oh, sorry, you’re sick, this is your reality from now on”. They tell people “We’re here for you, you can make it through this, and let’s talk it out”.
No hospital intervention. No cops. No forced medication. Just human connection.
That one incident to me is greater than anything psychiatry or psychology has shown me thus far in my studies.
It’s not about being negative or positive, it’s about acknowledging both and working through both.
Now all of you who didn’t believe me when I said mental “disorders” aren’t a disease, to those who didn’t believe me when I said it’s not only a “chemical imbalance”, to those of who you still believe you are doomed to live life stuck behind the idea of “mental illness”, I’ll be giving you various, very general (i.e, no names, or any information about people for confidentiality reasons) real life examples proving you wrong throughout the months, just like the one above.
The reason I say we’ve essentially fucked up by thinking negativity is something bad is we end up wanting to avoid it. We end up wanting it to leave us and trying to force it to leave us. We want it out and we want it gone. We just want to be happy.
But in all that muck we are unable to see by trying to force a part of humanity away from ourselves can easily get in the way of our own happiness. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to scream, then scream. If you want to talk to someone, talk. Get it out. Don’t ignore it, don’t leave it there to fester, don’t put yourself through more pain.
Negativity isn’t bad. It’s not something you should avoid or hate. It’s something you should embrace. It’s something you need to be comfortable with experiencing, or else life is going to be straight hell.
When it is present in your life, it is there for a reason. It’s your choice whether or not you want to ignore it and hope it will go away, or if you want to say “Well, here we go again” and work through it.
It won’t ever go away. You’re a human, not an inanimate object.
By today’s psychological standard, we practically need to be a robot with little feeling both negative or positive to be considered “normal”.
So don’t be so negative about your negativity. It loves you. You need to learn to love it back.
Taoists will understand what I’m saying. It’s all about interconnectedness, am I right? No good without evil, no positive without negative. You need the definition of the other to know about its counterpart.
You guys, do I really have to say anything other than that?
I’m tired as shit.
This post is going to be shit.
Because I’m tired as shit.
And sick of shit.
It’s just all shit.
You see, I have 8 dollars left in one of my accounts because someone was a little too excited these last few weeks and went shopping, went out to eat, bought useless items online while she was up thinking about all the ways she was going to become a millionaire on YouTube and all the ways she was going to build her own PC and get a studio and how she was destined to do this for the world and . . . and . . .
Obviously, those ideas and that confidence and that euphoria was short lived. Last week was my transition week back down to earth. My emotions were spinning out of control as they usually do, I was sleeping 11-14 hours a day, and now that it’s all over with, now that I’m generally stable, I see the damage that was done. I’m broke as fuck, ya’ll.
But it’s okay. I can make it through this.
I’ve been lonely and frustrated with reoccurring thoughts of failure pressuring behind my eyes. I’m really good at fucking things up and not so good at repairing them.
But it’s okay. I can make it through this.
I’m a self-harming addict. Were you all aware of that? I don’t think I’ve spoken much on it. My scars on my wrists are really visible in the day light; I’ve had friends stare at them and say “what is that?” and I say “what are you talking about?” and they say “I can obviously see it” and I’m like “awesome. Let’s focus on something that isn’t my life, please”.
Remember, I’m the clown of the group. I’m not supposed to have problems, I’m too funny for that.
One just gave me a hug instead of opening her mouth any further, and I appreciated that.
But I’m not someone who falls to temptation easily. My brain battles with me to harm myself–yes, you read that right. It spends more time and energy trying to convince me to harm myself than I do telling it no. I’ve been doing this since I was eleven years old. About ten years. I’ve gotten used to ignoring and scolding that little voice in my head that tells me I need to feel the pain.
Then there are times when I let them take control.
I used to harm myself (burn, cut, e.t.c) when I felt depressed, when I was lonely, when I was homeless and essentially forced into public education every day.
Then there were a few good years I didn’t self harm. And those were the years I learned to accept the depression and the anxiety, those were the years I learned I wasn’t alone and that there were other people in the world who felt the same. Those were the years I was generally stable, when medication kinda-sorta helped, when I found a passion in life I wanted to pursue.
Then one day I woke up with slits across the old scars and a wrap around my arm my tired self must have used to control the bleeding. And I thought . . . hmm. This again, eh?
Because a new dilemma has stepped into my life and that dilemma is unidentified emotions. When I’m angry, happy, depressed, disgruntled, elated, confused, fiery, agitated, irritated, generally okay, and lonely all at once, I get frightened. I try and distract myself but I end up crying and planning my suicide . . .until a moment later I’m convinced I was put here on this earth to complete a specific task and influence people’s lives like a messiah . . . until a moment later I want to tackle the next person I see and pummel their face into a bloody pulp . . . until I’m suddenly okay. Until I’m not again, a few moments later.
It continues for hours and hours until I feel I’ve lost control of myself. Every sentence someone speaks to me ignites another bomb behind my eyes. These are the days I prefer to not be around anymore, not my boyfriend, not my parents, not a friend, no one.
So I find a way to physically hurt myself. It’s the only moment of control I have. And it’s often made me calmer, it’s made me present and in the moment.
There are a lot of misconceptions around self harm. That needy teenagers do it for attention. That only idiots do it. That it’s something stupid, it’s something that has no deeper meaning behind it besides how ignorant the human race can be.
First of all, what’s so wrong with wanting attention? Are you telling me the assholes in false advertising, the business moguls of this century, e.t.c aren’t attention seeking little whores? Give me a break.
Second of all, if a teenager is harming themselves it doesn’t become a matter of them being attention seeking or dramatic or stupid. It becomes a matter of you needing to give them attention. Because regardless of whether they are wanting it or not, it’s something they need. Something is not right, and something is hurting them deeply. Think of it this way: the scars on the outside represent the fight on the inside.
That being said, tonight I didn’t listen to the little voice. Tonight was successful because I’m in control of myself tonight.
Quick announcement before I flop my head on this fucking pillow and pass out. I’m a contributor for a fairly new little website called “My Trending Stories” and I want to split the mental health topic I have started here with that site. I figured I’d keep that one a little more informational and critique-y and this one a little less formal and more personal.
If you’d like to check out my profile, click here.
If you’d like to browse through My Trending Stories, click here.
After careful consideration I agreed to write for them because I see potential in this website. It reminds me of a young Thought Catalog. There’s a large variety of articles and writing styles, kind of like WordPress but more Thought Catalog-y. My vocabulary at 4:57 in the morning is fucking amazing.
Anyway, there are tons of categories to read under and stories that can keep you entertained for days.
No, I’m not paid to promote them, I figured I’d just put out a good word about them because they’re pretty cool.
It’s only taken this last week for me to realize I’m not interested in much anymore.
You ever get like that?
Of course you do, everyone does and we’re all apparently “mental” or “psycho” or “insane” here, right?
I’ve been sitting in my robe, chilling in my bed, watching YouTube videos for the past four days now. I have no clothes, it’s too much work to take a shower or comb my hair. I’d like to take some photos or write or do some homework (I think I’m six chapters behind in math) but honestly I have no real energy for any of that.
I’m not depressed, I don’t feel sad or unhappy, I’m just . . .
I can still chuckle at funny YouTube videos, so I guess that’s a good thing. And I suppose it’s better than feeling overwhelmed by a tornado of emotion.
One of the issues I struggle with is my feeling obligated towards people. I’ve always been the person people come to for advice, which I’ve never minded because I’m someone who speaks my mind to people who ask for it and I’m someone who doesn’t care what they think after the fact.
You asked for it, didn’t you? Now you’re going to shun me because you got what you ask for? No logic in that.
At any rate . . .
The college English teacher I took in high school hated when I used that phrase “at any rate”. Now it’s starting to come back after three years of being captive in my archives of dumb transitional phrases.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, my obligation. I feel I’m obligated to show people I’m alright. It’s not that I don’t want them to worry about me . . .
Well I don’t.
But I also feel I have an obligation to myself to show people that I’m alright, because if I show them I’m alright I might convince myself I’m alright through pure social placebo effect.
It hasn’t really worked, it just pushes me further inward.
I think I need to let go of that obligation. I tell people all the time they’re not responsible for other people’s emotions, they’re not responsible for other people’s happiness and yet I have trouble following that advice.
Disappointing people is the last thing I want to do, because then I disappoint myself because I feel I was obligated to keep them satisfied. You see the problem there? That’s setting myself up for a vicious cycle.
That’s where the faking comes in, that’s where the mask is. I fake smiling in public, I fake being happy or not annoyed, I fake it all for the sake of other people so they don’t find out how dissatisfied I am.
But I’m not obligated to behave that way, life didn’t assign that to me. I assigned it to myself.
I don’t feel like speaking with anyone. I don’t feel like going outside or trying to have people cheer me up, I just want to watch YouTube. It’s gotten to a point where I can’t fake it any longer.
What bothers me more so than my imaginary obligation is my loss of interest in everything I’ve worked so hard to get to. I think it’s gotten to the point where the wall I’ve been pushing against and making progress against has gone from a wall of hay to one of wood, to one of aluminum, to one of steel, to one of titanium. I can only push so far before my arms snap at the fucking elbows and my knees give out.
School has been set on the back burner. I don’t have the energy or even the interest for it. I keep falling behind and although I will always be passionate about what I study, I just can’t focus on it like I used to. I can’t spend the three, four hours a day studying math just to get that A on the test like I used to. It frustrates me because I know that I’m smart, I know I’m capable, I just don’t feel like doing it.
Sometimes thinking is hard. Not in the sense of studying, just in the sense of coming up with a simple sentence, it’s as if I have to sift through a soup of letters and put together something that I’m not satisfied with. My vocabulary has disintegrated. Reading frustrates me because I’ve got to read a sentence ten times before I understand what’s being said.
I’m a creative person. Even in my episodes of depression, however long they’d last, I could some up with something beautiful and flowing, something to express how I felt in a way that could touch a part of someone else they didn’t even know they had.
Now everything is so scrambled and hard to grab that I can’t write because I can’t identify the feelings. If I’m not in touch with the emotional part of myself then I’m not able to put out the pieces I want to. Writing is about emotion and human connection; I related to people through words on a page and now that that is severed, I don’t think I’m apart of this world anymore.
It’s only frustrating because writing was my outlet. I know you might say “Well, you’re writing right now stupid”.
To that I would say “shut up”.
I’m speaking in terms of fiction, in terms of creating worlds, the one thing I’ve always been good at since I was aware of my own cognition. I feel that creativity has dwindled to a single, weak stream rather than flooding my eyes like Niagara falls.
That was my outlet. I could escape. I could be who I wanted to. But now that motivation and interest in that has faded, which I don’t entirely understand.
I just don’t care much anymore. I feel that I should, I get angry that I don’t . . . but I just don’t. There are things I want to do, tasks I want to complete, all of which I don’t have the motivation for.
I’d rather feel hopeless and depressed than this. I don’t like feeling nothing, it’s too odd.
So here comes another night to laying in bed in this robe watching YouTube videos of people my age running around doing stupid things with their friends, making backpacks out of raw chicken and sporting it on a catwalk, or downing Ghost Pepper chilies until they hallucinate.
I remember the first time I was offered medication and the first time I decided to try it. I remember, unbeknownst to anyone, the uncontrollable panic that came with the thought that the medication would drain my creativity. I’d heard the stories of people turning into zombies. While that didn’t happen to me like I thought it would, it had always been a fear of mine. Who would have known four years down the line my brain would enact those side effects on itself. That’s what I feel like, a medicated Zombie without being medicated.
I feel in these last few weeks this blog has become a steady diary logging my descent into madness.