A Farewell?

This webpage has been up since July 2015. It’s going on four years. I’m quite ecstatic about that. And I’m saddened.

I’m saddened because during one particularly rough mental health year I was unable to keep up with enough positivity, coherency, and drive to keep this site aiming high. And we were going places, too. I’d bought the domain, I’d made connections with other writers, and with the help of all my loyal and fantastic readers/fans we were going to launch something truly spectacular.

I thought about abandoning this website, but I check in on my statistics every once in a while and see that many are still discovering posts that resonate with them and I can’t take that away from anyone.

This has been a place to spout personal dribble and shed light on mental health experiences and the problems with calling ourselves “Sick”. I don’t want to stop that. And I won’t. I see myself in the near future revamping this page and redeeming what was lost.

That being said, sometimes I have to take a step away from mental health and really talk about other things. And so, I’ve created a separate account for that, entitled “Rant, Rave, Dab, Repeat”, and if you click on the link you will be teleported into a realm of writing reminiscent of some of my older posts here on MentalTruths. I implore you to check it out. We’ll have a lot of fun over there.

I started this post intending to say goodbye to everyone. But I realize I can’t do that. Even if three-quarters of the readers I used to have are gone, I still feel an obligation to keep this site alive and keep the truth about mental health experiences out in the open.

So, alas, this is not a farewell, it is simply a polite “hello, I’m back, sort of, and check out my new website” post.

Or, if you’re not a new reader and remember my sassy attitude, it’s a “I’m back bitches, look out.”

Writer’s Block

Do you all remember a time when I would bust out posts every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes thrice a day? That time ended many months ago, and this writer’s block has continued something fierce. Every once in a while I come on and see how everyone is doing, what’s going on their life and where they are heading and I wonder why I just can’t kick my ass in gear and write.

I’m a writer for God’s sake, that’s what I do.

So, as I sit in class right now, it got me thinking about my writer’s block, others writer’s block, and how people just push through it. So that’s what I’m trying to do, for the sake of the cathartic process, and for the sake of my writing future.

Because I am such a broken human being unique individual with a variation of experiences, I decided to do something for myself and attend an outpatient group. This group meets three days a week, for three hours each day, and I’m on the evening schedule. We learn a lot about coping skills, about forming and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as being open and honest about what’s going on in our head. Some people have substance use issues partnered with their mental health, others don’t.

I’m not sure what I’m learning from it. I know that it gets me out of the house and prevents me from isolating, which is good for me, and I know it’s good for me because I absolutely hate doing it. And I seem to hate doing anything that’s good for me. Ever get that feeling?

Meanwhile, the outside world is falling apart and we’re all sitting around twiddling our thumbs like:

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When we should be doing something like this:

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Kanye West is trapped in a perpetual state of “mania”, or at least he’s addicted to the “manic” behavior, Trump is still president, sexual assault victims are coming forward and getting pushed back down, people are putting guns to their heads, overdosing, throwing themselves off bridges and the ages are getting younger and younger, there’s rarely anything positive on the news (in America), everyone kind of flipped the bird to school shootings, cops are still shouting “break yourself fool!”, cocking their gun sideways, and blowing seven holes in innocent people like they work for the crips, and meanwhile I’m sitting here on this computer documenting it all, processing it, and thinking back to similar times.

I think maybe, just maybe, we’re all stuck in a pretty serious delusion about our lives: That we can continue moving forward with all of this baggage on our back. Nothing is being discussed, and when a discussion does arise, it turns into nothing more than the internet being divided on the subject for a couple days. Racism is a hot topic, until a school shooting happens. We’re all crying for the students until a cop shoots another unarmed white, black, yellow, blue, brown, rainbow man/woman. As we writhe from the shock, Trump says something outlandish and/or stupid (mostly stupid), and all cameras point to him. They’re so busy photographing his orange face and blonde toupee that they miss the guy standing on the bridge behind them, tears streaming down his face.

There’s no soft way to put things: we’re living in a society in which things are swept under the rug.

I guess it’s nice that you and your friend on Facebook have these deep philosophical conversations over messenger that ultimately ends with one of you quoting words you don’t understand by some unnamed author, hoping that the way you’ve carried yourself and your political stance will help you sound like an intellectual.

And it doesn’t help that when something serious on social media is trending, it doesn’t get taken serious and its fifteen minutes of fame go by in five. This is my argument against May Mental Health Awareness month. There’s nothing impressive about a month of people saying nice things to each other and being supportive when that mindset falls apart in June.

At this point, I’m ranting, because if there’s one thing we all understand about writer’s block, is that you can’t pull the right fucking words out of your head even if your life depended on it. Something has them stopped up like hair in a drain, and I don’t have a long enough whatcha-ma-call-em to dig the mess out. The only solution is to pour corrosive bleach down the hole and let it set. So, I’m pouring bleach on my brain and waiting for the magic to happen.

What will happen to this blog? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to get rid of it, I want to help it blossom into what it once was. I want to communicate to real people about real topics and still promote mental wellness. I want to commit to writing at least once a day to gain back old followers and shake hands with new ones. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, in my own life and in relation to the rest of the world. I want a lot of things, as you can see, and I’m not quite sure what that means.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Progress and Advocacy

I didn’t think I’d make it to 23. I thought for sure I’d kill myself before then, or get possessed into damnation and die while the priest tried exercising the demon. After the Las Vegas shooter and the stint of psychosis and hospital visits that succeeded it I wasn’t sure what was going to come next. I certainly didn’t expect to move out of my parent’s apartment, start looking for a new car, a second job, and start school again.

I still remember the first day paranoia hit me like I’d never experienced. That was the day I learned the difference between anxiety and paranoia. I was no longer anxious, I was fearful, I was suspicious, and I was sold on the idea that those classmates were jealous of me and formulating a plan to get me kicked out of college. I was for sure they were reading my blog posts and wanting to shut that down as well. On top of that, I believed a coworker was invading my body and controlling my movements, intercepting my thoughts, and preventing me from speaking. I spend days sitting in front of my computer watching YouTube with the lights off and a blanket over my head. I couldn’t go out into the kitchen and get a damn bowl of cereal without feeling my movements weren’t my own.

That was almost two years ago to this date.

Then some conflict happened at work that made me question the trust I had in myself and trust I put in others. I had just begun trusting people for the first time in my life and when that was broken things spiraled quickly out of control. I was convinced the shooter was possessed by the same demons who were possessing my coworkers and they shot all those people as a warning to me. I started seeing women with their heads spinning around like the exorcist and hearing voices telling me to strangle my cat, telling me I was a “dead man walking” (even though I’m a woman) and making my footsteps echo like I was walking through the halls of hell. They showed me where I would be in hell through dreams, and tormented me in ways that would seem normal: nightmares, bad thoughts, e.t.c., things that don’t make me look “crazy” so they wouldn’t be caught. I’d see faceless people following me down the street at night.

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I can’t put these events in order because everything sort of blends together. I worked 4 or 5 days out of the week for two consecutive weeks and it broke me. I ended up back in the hospital and that’s where I received a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, on top of my past diagnoses of PTSD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression, and GAD. Out of the hospital, I received a revised diagnosis of Psychosis NOS: considering I’ve never had a stint in Mania in my life, it made sense from a professional standpoint.

I don’t tell what my diagnoses are not because I’m ashamed but because they don’t really matter. What matters is the experience, how I cope, and how others can cope. I don’t define myself or anyone by diagnosis, I don’t call them sick, I don’t call them “mentally ill”; in fact, I regard that as an insult.

If we want to reduce something like stigma we need to advocate for ourselves in a way that shows we are the same as everyone else, but with a different perspective on things in life. The brain is as unique as a finger print, I’ve said it many times on this blog, and that essentially crushes the idea of standard identity: no one is standard, there is no standard. There is only variety.

If we want people to take mental health seriously, we need to show them we aren’t dangerous, we aren’t crazy, we aren’t sick, we aren’t ill, we are strong, empowered people who struggle and are able to cope with that struggle in whatever way we can. We are people who have a lot of offer to this world, and perspectives to share with the world. We can work, we can live independently, we can choose to take medication or not and if you don’t believe me (even though I’m walking proof of that), please refer to Soteria house with Psychiatrist Loren Mosher and this post here.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

YouTube.

Something I’ve noticed about this world today, and maybe you’ve noticed it too, is that social media has become the main platform for not only giving news, but receiving news, updates, and connecting with people. You all know that I’ve got a Twitter (@Ipenned), and an Instagram (@Written_in_the_photo), as well as a Booksie account (@ImpulsivelyPenned) and this blog. One crucial element I feel that has been missing from my social media life (besides Facebook which I rarely ever go on) is a YouTube Account. I’ve been talking about making one for ages and I think I will finally follow through with my talk.

I will be starting it up in the next few days. What will I talk about it, you ask? What will it be about? I’m thinking of weaving some mental health stuff in, information about peer support, where to find it, how to find it and how to give it.  Maybe some gaming, some rants, a little bit of everything, and some shoots of the ocean to show you the life I live and the travels I go on.

If there is anything you would like to know about me for the first video, or about peer support most importantly, post your comments down below or email me some questions through my contact page. I will be answering questions in the first video. I would also like to collaborate with people who are also up-and-coming YouTubers, people who are just beginning, or who have begun and would like a new face on their channel. If you are any of those people, or any other people, contact me through my contact page and I’ll surely address you.

This is an exciting time for a millennial like me, all this new technology, and I figured I might as well take advantage of it, despite the hate I may get. I think one of the best ways to get a message out there is to try. And YouTube seems like a great way to connect with people I’ve never had the change to connect to before.

So again, have any questions or comments or maybe even concerns, shoot them in a comment below or send them to me through my contact page. We’ll see where this journey leads us.

Rants and Rambles

Songs have a beautiful way of expressing things we struggle to speak. Tonight I am listening to The Strumbellas, and I fell in love with their songs “Spirits” and “Shovels and Dirt”. I think each line has something impressive to offer. It’s hard to miss the main line in spirits: “I’ve got guns in my head and they won’t go, spirits in my head and they won’t go”.

And I think “it ain’t worth livin’ if you don’t get hurt” and “I’ve got a head full of darkness and darkness is good” is also two of the most beautifully truthful lines I’ve heard, along with “Well demons pull me side to side again, yeah well I’m scared to sleep and I hate my friends . . .” I never knew it was so easy to sum up psychological pain.

Is darkness good? A lot of my depressions have been bad, the episodes have driven me into self-destruction and put me through a lot of pain, but the beauty that has come out of that pain has been magnificent. I’ve done some of my best writing. I started this blog. I played some of my best on the piano. Without that little bit of darkness, half of me wouldn’t exist. The darkness is me, and it’s a part of me I couldn’t live without.

That being said, I’ll be in the Santa Monica area tomorrow. Sometimes it’s nice to push aside the darkness and have a little fun.

I don’t talk much about my writing projects on here, but most people know I write short stories as well as some poetry that I think is shit. I’ve been to some fiction workshops, and I’m taking yet another fiction class this semester, but I’m shit at communicating with other writers. Maybe if we write back and forth, I can communicate with them, but not many are willing to do that.

So, if there are ever any fellow writers out there who are serious about their writing, and would be willing to give me some thoughtful, constructive criticism on my work in return for a batch of my own thoughtful, constructive criticism on their work, please get in contact with me. I have a few writing projects that I want to push forward, but I need some more reassurance and criticism before I do.

I’m not quite sure what this post is. Remember when I used to do these kinds of vagabond posts where each paragraph is something completely irrelevant to the previous one? I took some Melatonin and I’m hoping it will knock me out soon so I don’t have to torture you all any longer.

Love yourself. You are enough.

And that’s today’s mental truth. Well, tonight’s mental truth. It’s almost tomorrow’s mental truth. I’ll blog about my Santa Monica experience. I’ll be sharing pictures on instagram, you can follow me there @ Written_in_the_photo, and my twitter @Ipenned. I don’t use Twitter much, and I just created a new account, so there’s not much there, but if you’re a big twitter person, you might get a kick out of things I retweet.

Anyway, enough of this shit post. Ali, Out.

Two Little Pills

I have a poem for you all today about something I’ve been struggling with on an astronomical level. It’s something that’s been hounding me since I first started on this journey when I was 16 or 17. Take a read.

Take it, they say, and I do.

It’s for the better, they say, and I pretend

to believe them.

But there’s no better medicine than human connection,

than walks in nature

where the fireflies conjure

and the Cougars roar.

There’s no better medicine than a domestic cat’s purr,

than a puppy’s head rub,

or the bloom of a rose.

But take it, they said, and I do,

for I understand the consequences of moods

that are self destructive,

that cause more pain than happiness,

that force me to believe

everyone is against me,

even as the evidence proves otherwise.

Two little pills will not dictate my life

but they hound my moral conscience mercilessly:

“You’re feeding the demon, Big Pharma,

going against what you believe in,

what Karma

will that produce at the end of your life span

here on Earth?

You’re hurting your liver, your kidneys, your organs.

How will your heart feel after 21 years of torture

by two little pills?

Don’t you remember Prolonged QT,

or have you forgotten you’re getting a science degree?

It can cause a fatal Arrhythmia after prolonged use of anti-psychotics

and who knows this but you?

A psychiatrist won’t tell you,

a physician won’t tell you

and yet you take those two little pills

against your very own will.

This is all the voice in my head

the one that used to constantly want me dead.

Now he begs for me to save my life

by throwing away those two little pills

that cause me so much moral strife.

 

Check out this poem and more on my Booksie account here.

Living and Breathing with Social Anxiety

If there’s one thing I sometimes wish I didn’t exist because of it, it would be social anxiety. For me, it’s more than the occasional nervous butterflies in the stomach when you get near a crowd, it’s more like the crippling can’t-do-anything-in-your-life kind of anxiety. Let me give an example from this very moment.

My new apartment is about 15 minutes from the main library branch in town, which is wonderful for someone like me, who is an avid reader. The problem is, I’ve been missing my library card since I was about 15 or 16. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except in order to get it reinstated, or get a new one, I have to talk to the librarian.

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Talk.

To.

The.

Librarian.

And some of you might be thinking–wait a second, you’re a peer worker. Isn’t talking kind of your job? And you’d be right. And I’d feel like an idiot, as usual. But you see, being a peer worker is quite different, I’m among my own people and the conversation is more of others talking than me hogging up the space. I can handle that. I can’t handle small talk. And speaking to a librarian about a lost library card is considered small talk to my brain.

So, instead I’m sitting in the library writing this post.

I brought a few dollars with me in case I do decide to get a new card, but with the way my head is spinning and my stomach is feeling, I most likely will not be doing that today. It’s not urgent, but I would like some free reading material.

So how do people live with this? There are some people who aren’t able to step foot outside of their door, and I was one of those people until a couple years ago. What has worked for me may not work for others, but I figured I’d share some things anyway.

add090525_1_560One thing that has helped me was getting to the root of my social anxiety. What makes me most anxious, what makes me least anxious, and where could this have started? For me, what makes me most anxious is crowds. All of the eyes and voices are overstimulating to me, and can aggravate my own voices, and I don’t like the idea of all of those eyes judging every ounce of me. Eyes bother me because I don’t want to be seen. I’ve never been seen before, not truly. When I was a kid I was taught not to be seen or heard by the actions of my parents. Therefore, when I am seen, physically or metaphysically, I am wholly uncomfortable.

What makes me least anxious is one-on-one communication. There is a lot less stimulation. There is still the risk of judgement, but there is always a risk for judgement and that is something I need to get comfortable with, not something other people need to fix. Judgement is within human nature, unfortunately, and some people don’t have the capacity to not judge. Therefore, I need to have the capacity to not care. And I’m working on that.

What fuels my social anxiety is my childhood, and perhaps a predisposition towards anxiety as well. I was yelled at a lot, chased, around a lot of drugs, alcohol, and anger. I wasn’t allowed to speak unless I was being spoken to directly, and not even then sometimes. Silence became my comfort because I knew I wouldn’t get attacked if I stayed silent.

In learning the truth behind my social anxiety I have been better able to manage it. I realize that that trauma is not everywhere. I am allowed to speak if I wish to, and allowed not to speak if I don’t wish to.

58809653-man-at-desk-overwhelmed-hard-work-stress-at-work-fatigue-at-work-vector-illustration-flat-designIt’s easier to say than do. It’s taken a few years of practice, a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, self-harm, suicide threats, hospitalizations–not all related to social anxiety, but in one way or another those experiences have pushed me further towards being less socially anxious, particularly being in the hospital where I have no choice but to “live” with other people.

What has also helped me has been telling people about my social anxiety. I tell people about my paranoia, about delusions, and my mild hallucinations and in doing that I’ve learned to really, really, REALLY not care what people think, because I’m forcing them to judge me. And if you tell someone that when a celebrity dies, their spirit lives with you, they are going to judge you, trust me.

But telling people about my social anxiety has helped them also become aware of what makes me uncomfortable and what makes me comfortable, and that has been really helpful for me. There are some people who don’t care, and there will always be people who don’t care. But of the few that do, it’s been really helpful.

Everyone is at a different level of their anxiety. Mine was severe, to the point where I didn’t leave my house and if I did I would cry, shake, and have a panic attack. It’s now to the point where I can pick and choose some days to step outside, have some fun, and explore my limits. It takes work and dedication. But severity can be reduced. And that’s today’s Mental Truth

Why Writing is Actually the Bane of My Existence.

What a shit title, you must be thinking. And you’d be right, that is a shit title, but I refuse to change it because it is my shit title and I own my shit titles. If I could see you, I’d stick my tongue out at you.

5227758-a-disgusted-girl-giving-a-bratty-expression-toward-the-cameraa-bratty-valley-girl-expressing-towardYou also may be wondering, like smart-asses always wonder, “why are you writing if it’s the bane of your existence?”

<—(How I imagine your face).

Simply because the bane of my existence also happens to be the thing I enjoy the most. Because I, apparently, enjoy suffering. Think about it. If you don’t suffer, you don’t really grow. And if I didn’t suffer as a writer, I wouldn’t grow as a writer. And we all know a stunted writer isn’t really a writer at all, but rather someone who writes.

It’s the bane of my existence because I can never keep things consistent. That was not meant to rhyme, but it did. What I mean is that I’ll take a hiatus for a while, kick myself for taking that hiatus, struggle coming from that hiatus, and then finally breaking through the clouds and pouring my heart into what I do. However, there’s always that looming cloud reminding me: you’re going to fall again. Hey, hey, guess what? *Initiate plummeting to death sounds*

Take this blog, for example. I had a lot of things going for me on this blog. I had consistent readers, consistent followers, I had a nice little fan base and things were moving along quite swimmingly. And then I went crazy and had to take a hiatus and lost all of it. Well, most of it. I lost the rights to the domain because I couldn’t afford it any longer, and I lost consistent readers because who the hell is going to wait almost a year for someone to stop being crazy so they can start writing again? People’s attention spans are NOT that long anymore. Including my own. I can barely pay attention to myself.

My fiction writing suffered. I stop writing short stories, I stopped jotting down ideas for short stories, and what initiated was a complete breakdown of the self. Writing is the bane of my existence because if I don’t do it, I’m at a complete loss. It’s like heroin. Warm, foreboding, deadly, and addicting. I use negative connotations to describe writing because, as you can see, I have a love-hate relationship with it.

not_funWriting isn’t all fun and games, people. Jesus. You can’t just slap down words in any old order you want and call it a piece. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been doing that for the last 3 years on this blog at all. I totally calculate each word that spears through my fingers.

On a side note, I just bought Schrodinger’s “What Is Life” book, because I barely learned about it yesterday and cannot believe I’ve never heard of it. It should be a good read.

See: attention span = shit.

And that’s another bane of my existence: reading. I love it. I mean, I really love it. I read The World According to Garp in one sitting because I was so enthralled by the story I couldn’t put it down. After that, I picked up a second book and read well into the night. I love reading. But it’s always been hard for me to focus on something like a book, unless it snatches my imagination like The World According to Garp, or I’m on some medication like Effexor that makes me highly focused.

But writing. Oh-ho, fuck writing. I love it, but fuck it. And who’s to say you can’t love what you hate? There’s got to be a reason you hate it, right? Maybe you hate it because you love it. Maybe you hate it because it brings out a side in you that you can never project otherwise. Maybe you hate it because you’re just in a spiteful mood, but really you love it. I don’t know your life, man.

That is why you should embrace what you hate. Embrace your enemies. Embrace that one teacher in school who always picked on you. Mine made me a better writer, even when she called mine shit. Embrace what infuriates you the most, and you may learn the reason it infuriates you is something deep within yourself, something you’ve been ignoring.  And that’s today’s mental truth.