Wednesday, August 30, 2017

From the darkness emerges a bright light...

In May of this year I went through a rather dramatic life changing moment. After enduring one of the darkest depressive episodes I've experienced in years I tried to commit suicide. A friend of mine at the urging of my mother had me go to the emergency room to seek treatment. When we arrived I was in a full blown anxiety attack when we got the to front desk. Thankfully, my friend was with me and she was able to do most of the talking for me and acted as a buffer when all of the strange hospital staff were poking and prodding at me.

All I remember feeling in those first few hours in the ER was how desperately I wanted to be back home. The in and out buzzing of nurses, doctors and social workers was not helping my anxiety and but I was no longer suicidal.

If anything I was more disappointed in myself that I had gone to the edge and almost fell into darkness. I promised myself years ago after my last suicide attempt that I would never allow my sorrow and pain overwhelm me like this again. For 17 years I was able to keep that promise to myself despite all that I have gone through in that time.

All I could ask myself was how did it get to this point where I was so willing to dance with death. I took a look at my life and realized just how unhappy I was. My illness was controlling my life and I didn't even realize it. I bottled up so much over the years and knew the voices in my head weren't real, but in one single moment of weakness I let my guard down and all I could hear was them screaming at me.

I wish I could more accurately describe what it is like in my head. If people could only experience for just a moment of what I live with on a daily basis, maybe they would understand how hard I fight everyday for those moments of sanity where I know what life is. 

All it took was a weak moment and a hateful person to completely undo every coping mechanism and self support measures I had built.

The 36 hours I spent in the hospital with my husband at my side, made me realize that I need more than just myself to survive my illness. I decided to start seeing a therapist (which I do weekly), I'm also seeing a psychiatrist to work on a treatment plan for my condition and most importantly I am devoting 100% of my energy into self care. It took a long time for me to accept that I am not like other people and I need a lot more time and energy to devote to taking care of myself. 

I am now three months into my recovery journey and I feel infinitely better than I have in so long. I'm surrounded by people who love and care about me and I have the ability to get the help I need. My brush with the edge while emotionally painful was also a blessing and a wake up call. Our moments of life are much too precious to just give them up and throw them away.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Process of Unlearning and Relearning How to Live....

I want to start this off by saying that I do not believe that I am owed or entitled to anything.

I have always had a difficult time holding down a job and maintaining a normal life. 

In my short life, I have had over 20 jobs and very few of them have lasted over a year. A few people have jokingly asked me if I was in the witness protection program because of how many places I have worked. 

None of my past jobs have ever been full-time, not until the last two years anyway.  My work history is always marred with late arrivals, absences, no call no shows, etc.

When I was working a normal job I ended up spending a lot of time hiding out in the bathroom crying and muttering to myself. While some people can roll off douche bag comments from others like it doesn't matter, they wound me deeply. When I tried being open about my illnesses with managers and co-workers I felt like I shouldn’t have even bothered saying anything. The bottom line for companies is making money, it is absolutely not the well being of the people they employ. I always ended up feeling like I was a defective product sitting unwanted on a shelf and collecting dust. The end result, I was either let go or I quit the job.

Just because I am not able to work a normal job or function like what is expected, doesn’t mean I am any less valuable of a person. What it means is that sadly I have to fight harder to prove my value.

Why? Because people look at the mentally ill as if they are broken humans. There is very little awareness and education about mental health. A lot of people sadly think that it is all made up and that psychiatrists are feeding us all bullshit. 

Well, every day is a different adventure in my life.

I have no idea what each day is going to be like until I wake up.

There are some days that are really great, I am able to function and my emotions and thoughts are stable. I am productive, energetic and I can be fun to be around.

Most days however, I feel like I am living on the edge of a knife.

There are days that I am so depressed and numb that I can’t even stand the thought of anyone looking at me. I will randomly and uncontrollably break out into tears and have panic attacks so bad that I end up vomiting all over myself. When those attacks really set in I can’t breathe and all I think about is stamping my life out of existence because the pain of living is so overwhelming that I feel like I am drowning.

On days where I don’t feel depressed, I am going through a manic episode. Those are the days where I won’t sleep at all and have all this vibrating energy. My brain has millions of thoughts running through it, I have trouble focusing and I feel like I am running on fast forward. I often talk an excessive amount and the words just come out of my mouth like a speeding train. I have trouble keeping up with conversations and can’t follow a train of thought to save my life. 

My illnesses greatly influence how I experience emotions. I often feel things so intensely and deeply that it is overwhelming to other people and myself. It’s exhausting emotionally when your fears, abandonment issues and paranoia consume large chunks of space in your brain. I am terrified of really ever being truly angry as all I want to do is break things and pull each individual strand of hair from my head all just to torture myself. There have been times where I have been so emotionally unstable, family members have had to throw me into a running shower to try and calm me down.

As if all the other things I live with weren’t enough, I have hallucinations and I hear things. Every day even on good ones, I hear a bunch of static and mumbling. It sounds like the white noise on a fading radio station or an old television set. When I am manic, I will actually have conversations with inanimate objects because I can hear them talking to me. Sometimes, I have trouble telling what is really happening and what is something that came from my head. The lines between reality and dreams are so thin in my world that it is often hard to know what is real. My therapist and I have long since discussed the possibility of me being Schizophrenic, I even have an appointment with a Psychiatrist to explore that possibility.

It is incredibly scary and upsetting to know that you can’t always trust yourself because your brain doesn’t function how it should.

I’ve tried taking medications but I only ever ended up feeling sicker and finding no relief from my illnesses. People have this misunderstanding of how medication works for mental illness. They think if you take pills you are magically cured of all that ails you. Don’t get me wrong medication does have its value and can work for some people but it isn’t permanent or perfect solution. Your body can build up immunities to medications and even when they do work they don’t stop your illnesses from naturally occurring, they only help you manage. 

Like a lot of people diagnosed with a mental illness, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. Therapy helps but it doesn’t make life any easier to manage, it gives me a safe space to talk to someone who understands mental health and doesn’t judge me. 

Trying to live a normal functioning life almost killed me. I could hear the voices in my head louder, screaming at me to do something stupid. I have scars on my body from where I cut myself with a razor blade. I don’t even know the exact amount of money it has cost myself or my family for all the emergency room visits because of suicide attempts.

A few months ago I tried to kill myself, for hopefully the last time. It was a real wake up call, not only for me but for a lot of people I love. I had reached a point where I felt like a caged animal. That day at work was one of the worst so I left. I spent hours collecting all of the pills in my house trying to come up with the perfect suicide cocktail. Had it not been for what now feels like a fated phone call, I would not be here typing this today. I am fortunate to have people in my life who love and support me unconditionally. Their support and love has helped give me the courage and strength to get help.

In order for me to be alive and taking care of my well being I had to rewrite my own reality. The first step was to stop trying to live the life that I was not meant to. Trying to fit myself into another person’s outfit just wasn’t going to work. I’ve been having to relearn what is normal and base it on my perspective. The biggest step I had to take was stop forcing myself to play a role that others wanted and needed of me. 

Taking charge of your life while you aren’t always 100% in charge in the first place, is in reality pretty terrifying. I had to learn how to start loving myself and accepting that my mental illnesses are a part of who I am and that I don’t need to be afraid or ashamed by being honest about it. 

While I will never be completely free of the thrall of my mental illnesses, the narrative of my own story can be decided how I want it to be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Photography

For anyone who is interested in viewing my photography, I post it all to my Flickr account. There are a lot of websites that degrade the image quality of a photographer's work.

Using Flickr allows my fans to more appropriately view my work.

Please check out the link to my photography here Girl Stand Still's Photography.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Opening up and letting the world in...

Throughout the last few months I have been a lot more open about a secret I carried for years. It's really sad that I refer to my mental illness as a secret, as if it's something dirty that we shouldn't ever be talking about.

Sometimes though.... That is really how other people make me feel about it.

When you tell someone you are Bipolar and have Borderline Personality Disorder, all of sudden your quality of personhood plummets. Anyone who knows will unfortunately start to judge you based on whatever stereotype or generalization of the illnesses they are familiar with. 

Even if you are incredibly intelligent people will start to look and treat you like you aren't.

There are far too many people that have very little or the wrong knowledge and understanding of mental health. 

The sort of depression that the mentally ill endure is not as simple as just being sad. Depression as a mentally ill person is layered, complex and much more difficult to put into words. Sometimes it doesn't even involve being sad and it can come out of nowhere or be triggered by something.
Not everyone who is mentally ill experiences depressive episodes in the same way either. 

It is also incredibly annoying, hurtful and condescending when someone tells you to "cheer up" or "just think positive". The amount of pain those seemingly uplifting encouraging words create is immeasurable. When I personally hear those words I start to feel like I did something wrong and that I must be a failure at life.

Each day in my life is a new adventure because I never know how my day will be impacted by my brain. There are some days that I am so manic that I get so many things done. I can be up for days working on new projects, playing video games or howling at the moon.

The latter part is usually when my mind has had no rest and deliriousness kicks in.

Being around people can be incredibly painful for me as I can be emotionally fragile and I have hard time relating to others. 

Normal activities like grocery shopping or driving can cause me to go into a full out panic attack; so leaving the house can be a big ordeal for me.

I have extreme paranoia which can often be supremely damaging in relationships. This is probably a result of my illness but also because I hallucinate and hear voices during episodes of extreme duress and mania.

Medications can work for a lot of people but so far the ones I have tried haven't done anything other than make me sick. I still rapid cycle, hallucinate and hear voices.

Despite how disconnected I feel from people and the difficulty of just being alive day to day, I would not change who I am. The person I am and the art I create is all heavily influenced by the experience life has given me as a person who lives with mental illness. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The bitter and the sweet...

There is always a certain level of risk involved when a person breaks from the conventional path toward true freedom. The possibility of losing everything and having to start all over is a possible outcome of rebellion. 

However, even with the risk involved the pursuit of something higher is absolutely worth it. 

We live in a world that forces us to fit into these boxes and shuffles us around like workers on an assembly line.

None of this is what we were meant for.

Every day should be seen as a blessing and an opportunity to have a new adventure and experience.

Instead people keep themselves plugged into an unhealthy cycle created to control us.

How we choose to spend our time on this earth is incredibly important. The energy our lives project greatly impacts those around us and how we shape our future.

Do we continue to live in the negative cycle that is killing ourselves, or do we make the choice to take control of our lives and be our authentic selves?

I've chosen to embrace my whole self and stop participating in the culture of shame and assimilation. 

Love yourself and those around you!

Spread joy and radiate wonder, curiosity and invention.

Know your intentions and live in your truth.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oh Hey It's The Cool Pups

I am working on a side project entitled "Oh Hey It's The Cool Pups".  My three dogs are all incredibly cute and I've had a lot of people request I set up an instagram account filled with pictures of them.

Feel free to check it out and follow, Oh Hey It's The Cool Pups on Instagram.

New Beginnings....

Hello everyone!

There is a lot of exciting things happening in the Girl Stand Still universe. As of right now I have a poetry book and eBook on Amazon for sale.

I'm hard at work on book number two; a novella I have been working on for the last several years. After all this time it's so close to being finished and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

Currently, I am working on crafting up some dream pillows. They will be available for sale hopefully in the next few months, along with some other products I am working on.

Exciting times ahead in the future!

I'll be frequently updating the site as things transpire.

I am looking forward to being able to get everything all set up and out into the world.