Category Archives: SI

F is for Flying and Friendship and Free; G is for Good as good friends ought to be

(Harold – Thomas and Friends)

Just a note to say that you know that your life is now following a new path when you don’t even remember your 8-year freedom-iversary until a couple days later…so, no, I didn’t celebrate…although celebration is hard right now because most of the time I am not even interested in candy…and feeding my face as always been how I celebrated…

I suppose technically depending on how broadly you define SI I might not technically be free…but my definition is one of the narrower ones that doesn’t include eating issues into the category of SI. It is a definition that works for me.

Also, I have awesome friends. I don’t know how I got to have such incredible, patient, caring friends, but they are a huge blessing.

Also, I need to figure out the words to the song “good day on a bad day.” Today is good Friday eve and it’s a good Friday song so I was singing it to myself…and I am pretty much 100% sure that the lyrics do not go “the devil meant that day to be the worst day, a cursed day, to save our souls and set the captives free.” I’m not sure what the lyrics should be, but I know it ain’t that.

Stand up when it’s all crashing down

(Stand in the Rain–SuperChic[k])

You are not inviSIble.

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Side note…my left hand does usually remember which direction all the letters go…but drawing an awareness ribbon on your right wrist when you are right handed is rather challenging…(that’s what the orange squiggle after fight on is supposed to be)…also, the great thing about the awareness color for SIAD being orange is that it isn’t overly noticeable on my wrist so I don’t have to feel THAT unprofessional just ’cause I don’t have any professional looking orange shirts…

Totally unrelated, but it is really funny how many people move the sign out of the way and try to use the ATM…ever thought that maybe the big sign obstructing the machine that says “out of order” might be there because the thing doesn’t work?? Not sayin’, just sayin’.

Looking back at where you have been

(How You Live—Point of Grace)

So I wanted to write about the alphabet soup of labels that have been used on me over the past few years and my thoughts on each…as always, it is more about thinking things through for myself that for anyone else to read, but I am always happy to share my thoughts to whomever may enjoy them or benefit from them 🙂

So, I started with SI, self-injury…It was a way to grasp onto some small piece of control in a world that I was drowning in. When it had gotten the worst and I finally realized it needed to stop, I had recently stopped swimming, and while everyone thought of me as a swimmer still, to me I had lost that identity and I missed both the water and struggled with the loss of the identity. People at school still thought I was a “smart kid” but my grades weren’t the greatest and I had never fully latched onto the identity of being smart, but it felt that what little bit I had held onto was being ripped away from me…although looking back, the grades were probably at least partially a result of the other things going on in life, although it definitely was partly because I was reaching the point where trying harder and longer was no longer enough to make up for my low reading comprehension level—when reading comprehension only required knowing what the words meant, I excelled, but when it began requiring actually understanding written material I was a little lost. I had made up for it by working harder and longer, but there was more work and it was going farther and farther over my head…and then on top of the school thing, on August 10, 2008, I attended a new church. Taking me away from my old church completely changed what I saw as the course of my life and took away the things I had been looking forward to in the years to come. That was one more thing that was taking away my view of my identity and taking away my sense of control…I was struggling and the SI gave me a way to put the control back into my hands. It could cover up the pain in my life…I mean, yes, it hurt, but it felt better to be the one in control of my pain instead of feeling totally helpless needing to just endure the pain. I never WANTED to hurt; that was NOT the intent…it happens when the pain seems like the only way to feel okay. It isn’t to control other people. It is a way to feel control over myself. I let myself get walked all over, and hurting myself let me feel like I still had control over myself…is it fun to bruise my knuckles on occasion when I bit them too hard, certainly not, nor was it fun to feel the need to pinch myself to control pain, but it felt like a solution to my pain. I knew it was wrong, but knowing and being able to act on that knowledge were certainly different things.

I still refuse to label myself whatsoever with anorexia nervosa…yet…I was headed that direction my senior year of high school, and had I not noticed it and stubbornly known I was definitely not letting myself going there and forced myself to turn around, my life could have taken a very different path. It was NEVER about food, and NEVER about weight…it was simply another way to try to reach for control. I was losing my old church the rest of the way, and I was hurting…I wasn’t going to go back to self-injury, and I guess this was the next best thing I could reach for. It only lasted a couple months, but when I realized it, it was definitely scary to see where it could have gone…At the point I realized it and turned things around, I was NOT at dangerous weight, and was still eating three meals per day and snacks—I was not starving…did I lose weight, yes, but my BMI remained just barely within the healthy range, so it doesn’t feel like I really deserve the label of an eating issues kid, although I definitely know that people don’t usually feel like they deserve a label of AN even when they do…but I feel like for me it never went far enough to really label me that way…

I was going to go in chronological order of when things were suggested to me, and/or became problems, but it is hard to determine exactly what comes next…

I guess I’ll write about OCD next…when I told my friend about the food restriction when I got scared and was turning things around, she mentioned that I should look into OCD…I had no reason at that point to believe I had OCD and I didn’t really understand—I was attempting to research how OCD treatment is connected to anorexia nervosa treatment…and was not overly successful…I never really bought into the whole OCD thing and 99% forgot about it…until first year when I was hanging out with my friend and she said to bring up OCD with my counselor and I agreed to try…a few weeks later I successfully tried…however…when the obvious follow-up question of “why” was asked it was met with an “I don’t know” and the conversation was dropped and never retrieved…I attempted to elicit help later that year when I was terrified because my roommate had gotten sick, but my attempt was completely unnoticed as far as I can tell…which probably isn’t that surprising seeing as how my counselor at this point had not yet given me a way to communicate, and via email I had simply put it as a statement that I was coming unless I got sick because my roommate was sick, so without any way to know how I communicate and without any way for me to get help without drawing attention to myself, it is not that surprising that no one really knew what happened…I think it was that summer that someone else suggested OCD to me, which was what brought it to the forefront again, and when I went back to school in the fall using handwashing as a distraction technique and stuff I was finally ready to actually admit that there was a problem here…It was only the control the people mentioning it had seen at this point—the germ issues were pretty well hidden…If you wanna read more about my struggle with OCD I have written quite a few things about that…but yeah, there is no question that OCD was a problem for me…there isn’t much other explanation for my bloody hands, my refusal to eat and drink, my sanitization of my environment, my holding my breath in dirty spaces, and so much more, and I am SO thankful that I no longer have to deal with that. I thought last year that just not having compulsions would be enough to make me happy…After everything I had been through I had lost hope that freedom was possible. My counselor had told me so many times that it was hopeless and I was never going to be good enough that I started to believe it and lower my aims…but she was wrong. It took some time once I was recovered to really believe this was for real and not just a break or something, but I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. The way it feels when you accidentally touch the oven when it is hot is how your brain feels when you have OCD. But rather than just a brief localized ouch, the whole brain starts to hurt like that. And you can’t just remove your brain from the heat like instinctively happens with your hand…so you do compulsions. Washing and avoidance are like a tiny trickle of cold water…it feels just a tiny bit less hot in just a small point, but that feels SO good you just keep doing it…yeah, the washing is annoying but necessary but it also feels like if you could just stop washing it would feel awesome because that is taking up so much time and energy…and while the OCD isn’t really about the compulsions, it feels like that is all there is, because the compulsions and avoidance seem like the entirety of the OCD—the reason behind the compulsions and avoidance becomes hidden under the compulsions and avoidance…so yeah…I am so glad to have turned off the oven and no longer have to deal with the OCD…no compulsions/avoidance, nor any desire for them 🙂

Completely unrelated side note…I should probably be careful with what I repeat…my radio stopped working like a year or so ago so sometimes I listen to my ipod when I ride my bike…and that was what I was doing a few days ago…sometimes when I am listening to something and I like it I repeat it…so I said “You’re gonna get mean. You’re gonna get tough. You’re gonna get physical. You’re gonna get out there and KILL!”…yep, I said that out loud…haha yeah…anyone who really knows me knows that although I love self-defense, I am not very sure that I could actually intentionally hurt someone even if they were attempting to kill me…but random people on the street don’t know that…

Back to what I was talking about, looking back at where I have been…before my second year, someone suggested that perhaps my reaction to going to the new church had become PTSD. I am not really sure I agree with that, primarily because there was no threat to my life, or anyone else’s…like yes, it was a huge deal to me, but part of the lasting effects I think I kind of brought on myself…I could see that I was being torn away and desperately desired for that not to happen, so I was taping over the weak spots holding it together which meant that when it finally was completely torn away, instead of one straight line taking off a piece of my heart, the was a jagged line that seemed as if nothing could ever match up enough to fill in the gaps…it was my holding on so tightly that I think probably ultimately made it so hard…but when you have built your life around a certain situation, and especially when this is where you have been “studying” social skills for so long but not well enough to have any transferable skills, it is really hard to be forced to leave and completely start over. This year I finally found peace with the situation. Yes, there are things that were hard and things I missed out on through the change, but there are also some good things that would never have happened (okay fine…and some bad things…I would never have gotten into counseling if it weren’t for people I met at the new church…so I would have been protected from some stuff)…but I have absolutely loved doing VBS, and have been the head teacher for the 0 to 2 year olds for the past few years, and that is something I never could have experienced, and while I am sure there are plenty of other activities I could have done instead, this one is not bad and is a highlight of my summer…unfortunately, this year I am unsure if I will be able to do it because of when it falls with my rotation, but I am hopeful that I will be able to at least volunteer a night or two even if I can’t lead (and chances are while I am there I will lead anyway if I make it—it wasn’t until last year that I was even aware that I WAS the head teacher…I naturally am inclined toward leadership so in the past I had taken on that role to some extent, but never knew that I was officially assigned that position…I just thought I was another volunteer in the room…but anyway, I love VBS and am glad I have gotten that experience…and actually, after reading this article , I am more willing to define the experience in the same way as the person who suggested it had defined it.

So yeah…social anxiety…this is another one I am super proud of where I have come. For as long as I can remember, I have been pretty avoidant of social situations. If I really had to do it, I usually could, but if it was reasonably avoidable, it was avoided…which is probably why I had the same group of friends through most of middle school and still didn’t know their names by the end of middle school…and why the new kids were usually my friends until they got in with the cool kids and left me behind…like, it feels good for you to thank me for being your first friend, but it detracts from the thanks when you have no longer been interested in being with me ever since the cool kids accepted you a few weeks ago…You would probably be amazed at how much of life I was able to navigate without speaking out loud and with minimal written communication…At some point first year I was talking to my at home friend and she was shocked to hear that I talked to my counselor even less than I talked to her, because I barely spoke to her…but she was my best friend so I was a lot more comfortable with her, and thus was much more able to speak even if I couldn’t say much…and plus my friend was so encouraging. Some of my favorite memories with her are of how enthusiastically she praised me when I spoke out loud, especially when I said something besides “yes” no” or “I don’t know.” In my records from third year I saw the diagnosis of selective mutism…at first I thought that was stupid because I always could get through the amount of speaking I deemed important enough to push through, but after more reflection, I suppose that I probably was at least on the bubble between JUST social anxiety and having SM…There was SO much more in my head that I really wanted to say that I couldn’t push through my mouth…It was painstaking at times to get words out that I really wanted to say. I would try so hard and not be able to say anything…It was as if my mouth and vocal cords were glued in place, and my feet were glued to the floor…If you imagine that you wanted to do cartwheels in the grass, but were wrapped up like a mummy and tied in place unable to move a muscle without great difficulty, that is what it feels like…it is not fun…I do prefer the older term, elective mutism, to the new term though…selective mutism to me feels more as if there is a choice involved in when to speak and when to be silent, whereas elective mutism doesn’t feel like a choice, rather it feels to me as if it describes more something out of my control that just happens in some settings…I say in some settings, because I have never had a large amount of difficulty in the classroom—that is the one setting in which I could usually speak whenever I needed to…which, unfortunately, means that now that I speak freely to everyone, the amount of talking I do in the classroom is kind of a problem because I start talking to the people sitting next to me, and I talk to myself, and I just say whatever is on my mind as soon as it pops into my head without thinking first about whether it is actually overly important or relevant at the moment…which means I get yelled at occasionally by teachers because I can’t keep my mouth shut and be quiet…but considering I came from being too quiet and getting yelled at by a counselor last year for not speaking enough, I will accept being yelled at for being too loud and obnoxious…although it hurts my heart when my friends tell me to shut up because I am being really distracting, because I try really hard to be quiet and not bother anyone, but it is like I can’t find the turn off switch and my mouth is constantly powered on, meowing like a cat and saying whatever is on my mind, and it bothers them, but I can’t shut up…I don’t WANT to bother anyone…I just want to make everyone happy, and I can’t. Sometimes I feel like I will never be good enough.

I guess next is the last one in my blog title…ASD…There is only one person who ever truly suggested that I had autism. Sure, one person suggested previously that I didn’t really seem to recognize or express emotions, but I believe that I couldn’t recognize them as well as other girls because I had spent so much of my life isolated, and didn’t express much, because expressing emotion tends to bring attention to yourself—attention that I preferred to avoid at all costs. Aside from that, the statement was a completely new proposition…I still do not really know what she saw in me to label me that way…I asked in writing the next week but she refused to tell me, because it is her clinical judgement and that is not my business and not up for negotiation. I was a compliant and respectful girl…okay fine…I was also passive and didn’t know how to stand up for myself…but not knowing is still really hard, because how can I argue against it if I don’t even know your point of view?!…yeah, I do still crave control, which means I want to know everything…I want to know why people have done or said things. I want to know what people are thinking…I get frustrated with books and news articles and movies, because they leave out what I consider the ending…to anyone else all the information needed is there, but I want to know more…One of the times she kicked me out (and then “apologized” and allowed me back) she connected the “autism” to my taking a little time to speak my thoughts…I think anyone with half a brain would realize that if speaking is terrifying then words will not come quickly…without fear I can now hold a conversation just fine…but with the fear, it was hard…The fear clouded my ability to process the words being spoken to me…it was hard to find words to reply, to shorten those words into something I could realistically convey, to force those words out of my mouth…clearly a conversation with me was going to require at least a little waiting if you were going to want spoken responses from me and do not accept written responses, especially if you ask questions that not only require more than a yes or a no, but also requires a significant amount of knowledge that I might not have or thoughtfulness that you are not allowing me enough time to procure…even without fear, I certainly cannot come up with a 10-page case presentation without stopping to think about my response first…in the real world, they call this successfully avoiding impulsivity…yeah, sometimes I start immediately, but I tend to pay for that in stupid things falling out of my mouth or coming out my fingers that I wouldn’t have said/written if I’d stopped to THINK for a minute…So, my opinion currently is that if you are not willing to give me a reason when directly asked why you think I may have autism, then I doubt that your assessment is based on anything about me. If someone I trusted thought there was a possibility I would be more than willing to look into it and collaboratively assess the possibility, working together as a TEAM, but unless/until someone trustworthy objects, I am closing the book on any possibility of autism.

So that leaves ADHD…This one is the newest and therefore the one I have had the least time to reflect on…At first I was a bit offended when it was suggested to me…Although it was someone who likely intended no harm, I guess it just wasn’t coming at a good time and my interpretation of the thought was that of someone looking for something wrong with me to discount my interpretation of how things were going…I thought I was having trouble concentrating because my life was kind of turbulent, and pathologizing that feeling felt to me as if she were telling me that I didn’t deserve to feel hurt after being abused and having my life and livelihood taken away from me…I doubt she intended it that way, but I was already hurting, and upset and this just made me feel blown off, and as if I didn’t matter…I don’t value myself very highly and therefore do not expect that much from other people, but I do deeply crave feeling accepted for who I am…not just tolerated based on what I can do for you, but accepted…the turning point in really believing it was in filling out a questionnaire about ADHD…it was intended as more of a survey than a diagnostic tool, but it kind of opened my eyes to the possibility that I really did have ADHD…every one of my responses fell within the category of possible ADHD…and many of the questions pointed directly at things that really bothered me about myself…I get really frustrated with myself sometimes when teachers yell at me for talking too much in class when I really wasn’t trying to be disruptive…I squirm and am always in motion instead of sitting still facing forward like a mature person…I am impulsive (there is a broken key on my keychain as a reminder from an event in which I acted impulsively…it is supposed to serve as a reminder, but the thing is that when I am about to act impulsively, it is not like I get a little signal or anything to look down at my keychain, see the broken key, and remember to reflect on whether or not what I am about to do is a good idea…but just if you were wondering, cutting your nice (expensive) lock off your bike because you played with and broke one of the keys is not such a good idea, especially when you actually do have four more keys that you could use to unlock it—they just aren’t currently hung on a keychain around your neck…)…and, well, I am distractible (there are a lot of examples I could use here, but a very recent example: I interrupted the sales person at the car place while she was talking about something to which I probably should have been listening to ask what the red button on her computer did—I really wasn’t intentionally tuning her out, but sometimes the background track gets so loud I forget about the foreground…haha…yeah…this is one of the areas in which the social anxiety actually was helpful…when it was harder to talk, I didn’t interrupt my friends or people providing me with information…I may still have been distracted thinking about that bright red button, but my mouth was shut so I at least wasn’t being rude and interrupting them…so yeah…after that long aside…my (former) counselor suggested I either give medication a chance or keep working with a counselor to try to learn to focus better (or do both), but my opinion is that if I have made it this far without official help, that if I set my mind to it I will continue to be able to work around this on my own…obviously if something changes and I discover that the frustration with myself has become too intense or the distraction and impulsivity start causing greater problems in my life then I am all for solving that problem, but I don’t really want to fix something that isn’t really broken…plus, in much of my experience, people are being medicated for ADHD because they are driving the people AROUND them crazy rather than because the symptoms are bothering them, and in my opinion, I am who I am. If you don’t like my unmedicated crazy self then don’t be friends with me, and if you are willing to accept it with open arms I would love to be good friends with you…I have nothing against people that do use medication whether they use it the way I would or not (as long as they are using it legally), but I just think that medication is not really right for me right now…besides how crazy expensive it can be…

…haha yeah…just wondering if anyone actually made it all the way to the end of this post…also, I decided I am tired of being a responsible adult…I kind of want to go back to elementary school where the most important decision I had to make was whether I would draw attention to myself by allowing the teachers to re-assign field trip groups after the groups had been announced when they realized I had accidentally been placed with the bullies, or if I would remain in the group for the end of the year field trip and just assume things would be okay (I selected staying in the group, and it wasn’t really that bad…not perfect, but certainly could have been much worse)…

Stand a Little Prouder…Everyone Needs to be Heard

(Stronger–Megan Landry…Skin Deep–ZoeGirl)

0414101533-002 Celebrate!0405100706-00 So technically this celebration shouldn’t be coming until Saturday, but I needed a brain break and wanted to write today, and Saturday will be way too close to the next T2 exam to justify intentionally writing this at that time…and there is no doubt that celebration is going to be earned…oh, what a difference five years can make…April 10th 2009 was the last day I SI’ed, so April 11th is my freedom anniversary. The very first year was a huge deal to me, and that is what these pictures are from. I changed the spelling of my name as a sign of how God was working in my life (unofficially—my legal spelling is still the original spelling of my name—I had to edit the picture to take away any possibility of figuring out my name) and posted this sign above my bed. I doodled on that day in my planner.,,and most importantly I had a whole bunch of treats: a cup full of skittles, reeses, random other candy, and a grape capri sun without the straw…and this year: no plans…I kind of feel like I should celebrate, but at the 6th anniversary it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I am still proud of how far I have come, but it just is not forefront in my mind any longer. While I have considered myself free all six of those years, I have become a lot more free now than I was then…in particular, the fact that the juice bag couldn’t be saved with the straw because the sharp end was too much temptation is probably an indication of where I wasn’t quite so fully free, but now I have no problem with anything like that, and even went to church for Easter without play-doh, bandaids, and chapstic—my usual safety items to prevent self-harm…and it wasn’t even an accident not to have them—I intentionally didn’t bother to pack them…I still like to keep them around; the bandaids and chapstic more for their normal purpose than for SI prevention, and the play-doh for stress reduction, but I can’t even remember the last time I was anywhere close to hurting myself (or the last time I played with play-doh), and I don’t think I ever really thought back then even when I was partying that a day would come when SI wouldn’t be a concern, and that the anniversary could be nearly forgettable.

20150407_193949Speaking of forgetting, I totally forgot that I ordered this sticker for free online, but it came in the mail and I was kind of excited…I think it is pretty cute, and I kind of wish I had ordered a pile of them and could do some kind of event with them or something at school…instead the sticker I have will go on my souvenir ice cream bucket from Yellowstone with a whole bunch of other random stickers that I have accumulated…

…and speaking of accumulating things, it turned out to be a good thing on Monday that before my third year my parents bought me a new pair of sandals for when my old pair wore out even though I planned on wearing my sandals forever…my old sandals were starting to smell like foot, and I don’t have a bath tub in which to wash them at my apartment and they leak red dye when I wash them so they really can’t be washed and then carried somewhere else and I don’t really want a pair of shoes drying in my bathroom sink because that is just asking for them to be spit toothpaste upon, and it doesn’t seem right to put shoes in the kitchen sink, and the sandals also had developed an extra hole in the side so I semi-impulsively threw them away…and unfortunately I double bagged and tied it off so I can’t get it back even though I had a change of heart this morning and didn’t *want* to break in a new pair of shoes…but hey, one less pair of shoes to pack up when I move out of here…those old sandals have been so many places with me and hold so many memories…they have a few specks of red paint from painting my friend’s house one summer…they remind me of going to the splash park with my friend and her toddler…they remind me of giving me former old sandals to a friend who somehow managed to pack up for a summer on the res without bringing a good pair of sandals…I can’t even imagine doing that, because even at school sandals are an important part of life, so being out on the res they are even more vital…(oh, and sometimes I forget that not everyone knows that when I say the res I mean the Lakota Sioux Indian Reservations in South Dakota—the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations.)

20150407_191858This is my teal ribbon for sexual assault awareness month. I don’t really have time to help hand them out to other people, but as a proud member of self-defense club, I have this pinned prominently to my backpack…Self-defense club, The few. The proud…Self-defense club is amazing and is a place that I feel like I fit in…and that can’t be said about a lot of things, so that is pretty special…this week’s meeting is when I am scheduled to be in class, and if I get out early I will hopefully be able to spend some time there…but what I am really excited for is RAD on the quad…I really hope I am available for that…

20150406_175128This picture was taken to express my frustration with myself. I had supposedly been studying for the past three hours…do you spy my notes…yeah, they are under the bowl, and the page they are on has little if any information on it…I get SO frustrated with myself when that happens…which is more often than I’d like to admit…I really can’t account for where those three hours went…which leads me to something I’ve tried really hard to hold off acknowledging or bringing up, but it came up and I decided I felt safe enough to bring it up in the semi-affirmative when directly asked by someone at school in real life Tuesday, so I’m not even sure at this point if there even is anyone who doesn’t know…I want to believe that the person I talked to wouldn’t share the information, and I 83% trust her, but I also know that she has me blocked on facebook still which makes me continue to doubt how trustworthy she might be…but anyway, I (and a counselor) have been looking into ADHD…I suppose it makes sense…I don’t know much about the patho of anxiety, but I am assuming that since pretty much the same drugs work for depression as for anxiety that the patho of the two disorders is pretty much the same. What I do know, is that a deficit in monoamine neurotransmitter systems is the cause for both depression and ADHD…which means that if anxiety uses a similar neurotransmitter system that it makes a lot of sense that since I used to struggle with one that I might also have trouble with another disorder…I’ve been trying to tell myself I am making things up and this is so not real, but considering the frequency with which I tell myself I am stupid and lazy and the frequency with which most people tell me a contradictory story, I am realizing that like it or not it really is time to admit the possibility I might have a legitimate reason that things can be hard for me sometimes…at this point I am still not at all interested in trying medication—if caffeine makes me nauseous among other unpleasant side effects, then I don’t really want to know what a narcotic stimulant would do to me, and I know stimulants are first line in ADHD, and so regardless of whether I have a diagnosis or not, nothing is changing except for my conception of myself…and chances are I will continue to get frustrated with myself over my seeming stupidity and laziness…

I don’t remember what triggered it, but Tuesday morning as I walked from one class to the next, my brain started going a mile a minute thinking April is kind of like May, red is kind of like orange—basically falling into looking at similarities between the day in front of me and what I seem to remember as the first time I met with HET…although some days blur together, so what I was thinking about might not even match up with that fateful day…but anyway, considering that was the context of my day, it isn’t so bad that I lost a point in my presentation for moving around too much…and it kind of makes sense that when I saw someone vaguely tall and with shortish hair in the hallway I stopped in my tracks and turned, shaking, against the wall…that is kind of a problem though…see, I don’t even know if the person I saw was the person I actively avoid, and considering she didn’t seem to even pause, I kind of doubt it, because I am pretty sure she is somewhat aware that I think she should take her ball and go home way way far away from me…so that is kind of a maladaptive response to the situation…it isn’t overly practical to freak out every time you notice someone tallish with shortish hair…but I am strong. That may have taken me out of commission for a minute or two, but there was definitely a time in my life not too long ago where that could have taken me out of commission for at least an hour if not more…so I am progressing in my ability to move on…Day by day, little by little, life gets easier as I make sense out of the tiny pieces that my life was crushed into…Like Kati says, it’s a process, not perfection! (Kati is so awesome!)…and there are days I can know I saw her and not feel trapped yet also the need to run and hide…

Speaking of moving on, Linkedin finally stopped wanting me to be a counselor…now it wants me to be a pharmacy manager…just setting lofty goals I guess…maybe I should think about residency and then being just a normal pharmacist before thinking about being a manager…just sayin’…although my guess would be that if I set my mind to it I could finish an MPA and become a manager faster than I could finish a counseling degree…especially if I wanted at least a masters degree rather than just a bachelors degree, because the masters degree programs I’ve seen want prerequisites like a BA or BS that included a developmental psychology class or other ya’know relevant things along those lines that I won’t have when I graduate here…’cause while a doctorate might be substitutable for the bachelor degree, abnormal psych probably doesn’t substitute as well as developmental psych…so I suppose maybe LinkedIn is decreasing the loftiness of my goals to something much more achievable…good job linked in learning about those stupid SMART goals we learned about in like three different classes in high school…I very much still believe that if I never have to set another SMART goal in my entire life that I will be a happy camper…

A home is no place to hide…pulling down her long sleeves #keepfighting

(When She Cries–Britt Nicole)

I do not have time to do this topic justice, but it is way too important to just completely skip over…

self injury awareness

March 1st is self-injury awareness day (SIAD).

Self-Injury goes by many names…cutting, self-manipulation, burning, SI, self-inflicted violence, but whatever you call it, let’s #keepfighting for freedom for those afflicted and understanding, awareness, and respect for those who have not experienced it. It is not a manipulative action. It is not a cry for attention. It is not some weirdo who wants to feel pain…yet this stigma is attached and the shame cuts deeper than the knife. No one wakes up in the morning planning to hurt, yet sometimes it seems the only option left to cover the pain.

“Little girl terrified. She’d leave her room if only bruises would heal. A home is no place to hide, her heart is breaking from the pain that she feels. Every day’s the same. She fights to find her way. She hurts. She breaks. She hides and tries to pray. She wonders why? Does anyone ever hear her when she cries? Today she’s turning 16. Everyone’s singing but she can’t seem to smile. They never get past arms’ length. How could they act like everything is all right? Pulling her down her long sleeves to cover all the memories the scars leave. She says: maybe making me bleed would be the answer that could wash the slate clean…This is the dark before the dawn, the storm before the peace. Don’t be afraid. The seasons change and God is watching over you. He hears you…She’ll be just fine, ’cause I know he hears her when she cries.”

10-minute Sunday

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog, so I’m going to devote the next ten minutes to posting whatever I can get through in ten minutes…ready…set…GO!

So Friday I finally made it 5 years SI free! Oh my, it sure was tough getting there. About two weeks in advance I was already feeling the extra tension, and when the Monday before I got three bad grades back, that was the last straw that threw me from really really struggling into full on crisis mode. I caught myself repeatedly with my hands poised mid-way through the action to hurt myself, stopping myself just before I inflicted pain. It is really scary living that way, because you always worry the next time you will catch yourself too late.

HUGE success: I was able to contact my counselor and ask for help. Even bigger success: I was so worried about staying SI free and therefore so desperate for any possible way to get there that I didn’t even include any phrase to indicate that I didn’t feel like I deserved help…I felt that way, but I didn’t include it.

Also, Friday afternoon I emailed my parents to tell them everything…That was really scary…and I should have checked my phone first…I did it a few hours before class so I wouldn’t be making myself super anxious right after getting to Karis House and probably talking about how awesome I was doing due to the SI anniversary…well there was actually a text on my phone that I saw after sending the email that I was not needed at Karis House…so yeah, looking back, perhaps getting extremely anxious and unable to study an hour before class is not the best way to feel confident on a difficult quiz…oh, and my parent’s response was basically just to acknowledge receipt…

I am really anxious because this week is room checks at my apartment. I have been cleaning too much today because I am afraid they won’t think my apartment is clean enough. I know they know someone lives here and they probably don’t expect perfection, but I don’t really know what “clean” looks like to them…I took out my trash today…didn’t plan on doing that until the end of the semester, but when faced with a $100 fee for not doing it…also, I have no idea how to make my air conditioner look good. It just seems so dirty, but I am not sure how to clean it better…chances are it is totally fine, and if not they only charge me $10 to clean it for me, but I don’t want to inconvenience them, and it doesn’t seem clean enough to me…and me ten minutes were up 2 minutes ago…

Hate is strong in this one…

So there is something that I hate with a passion. I wrote about it in my journal, but my blood is still boiling about it so I’m gonna blog about it as well…because I can…

So we were doing My biggest fear and my biggest dream pages at school this week, and someone’s page is displayed that says “To Write Love on Her Arms” next to “My Biggest Fear.” I wish I could claim that paper. Oh my gosh, not necessarily fear, but a lot of hate is coming from me aimed directly at TWLOHA. TWLOHA is a huge obstacle to recovery. I have nothing against Christian self-injury support organizations–I am perfectly happy to support the Lysamena Project, but a self-injury support site that also promotes self injury–NO WAY…For that matter, I have nothing against non-Christian self-injury support either. I am fairly certain SAFE alternatives is not religiously affiliated and I have nothing against them either (and the name is kinda cool). The idea of self-injury support is good, and the fact that the people at TWLOHA are Christian and go on Compassion International trips is good. However, any self-injury support group that also promotes self-injury is definitely misguided and very much on my naughty list.

I guess if you have never self-injured and never really visited “our world” you may not understand the problem, but cutting is also sometimes called writing on our arms, screaming red, communicating in blood, or other analogous phrases. Because I am a music junky I can’t help but quote the lyrics here “Covering up lies that she wrote with a razor sharp pen.” I suppose if you modus operandum is cutting and you are cutting words like “stupid” and “failure” into your skin that cutting the word love with hearts and stars is an improvement, but when that is not the form of self-injury you have been utilizing and you are still somewhat new to recovery, it is extremely triggering to hear about this organization. To be honest, when I heard about it for the first time I was REALLY struggling not to find a knife and cut a heart with the word love around it. At this point I had been “clean” for about a year and a half if I remember correctly, so to be going so far backwards as to do something so much more damaging than I’d done before would have been a HUGE setback, and it was really scary how much that idea got into my head, how much I really wanted that. I got as far as planning how it would look, but luckily I did not hurt myself…and that is why I absolutely hate with a passion TWLOHA. Hate is a strong word, but any organization that can’t take a minute to understand the world they think they are going to save has a problem, and when that problem has impact on my own life I feel justified in harboring some hatred.

Bad Choices

Sometimes I make bad choices…like yesterday morning when I decided it would be a good idea to write all over my arm in red and black sharpie and flare pen…stuff like “bad girl” “failure” “grow up” “I hate you” “stop it” “stupid” “please just study”…oops…well I wasn’t going to give myself the pleasure of scrubbing my skin or using chemicals to get it off seeing as how that would basically be rewarding and reinforcing bad behavior so I had a quick wardrobe change to a long sleeved shirt that would definitely cover up the marker…reminded me of the song “When She Cries” by Britt Nicole…I thought I was wearing a shirt very similar to the one the girl in the music video is wearing, but then I realized the girl I was picturing is from the Headphones music video…similar song though…but anyway yeah…

“Pulling down her long sleeves
To cover all the memories the [marker] leave[s]
She says maybe making me bleed
would be the answer that could wash the slate clean
but everyday’s the same
she fights to find her way
she hurts she breaks she hides and tries to pray
she wonders Why?
Does anyone ever here her when she cries?

Everyone’s laughing and she can’t seem to smile
they never get past arm’s length
How could they act like everything is alright?

She’ll be just fine
because I know He hears her
when she cries”

Sometimes I am fighting all day to get through the next minute. Going back to self-injury seems tempting–it would certainly help to dull the pain, but I know that it is not the right thing to do so I keep fighting and try to hide it and be strong. I feel so alone, but can’t let anyone in. Everyone expects me to be brave, but I don’t feel brave, not on the inside and not on the outside. I want to enjoy the things other people do but I just can’t…but it’s going to be okay. God hears my cries for help, and he knows that everything will turn out according to his great plan even if it seems like I am drowning deeper and deeper.

It is okay not to be brave. Like the Mary-Kate and Ashley song Bravery, “I’m always prepared and when I’m still scared I get my mom…And if I’m still scared and mom isn’t there, there’s always dad.” Sometimes when the fear is tormenting me it is okay to let people know how much it hurts.

Timeline

So I thought I’d just start by writing a short summary of where I have been in life to help set up a framework of the life that I live in order to give my posts a bit of context.

From elementary school until early high school I was bullied a lot. It was really hard then, but I think it made me stronger. Most of the time, people’s words don’t really affect me anymore because I have learned to tune out the things I do not want to hear.

I was a swimmer from 4th grade until ninth grade. I love swimming–as evidenced by the fact that you would be hard pressed to find much writing or art assignments from middle school that didn’t relate to swimming–but it got to be too time-consuming and too expensive. I taught swim lessons from middle school until the end of high school. I loved doing that (and was actually really good at it), but it was time to get a big-girl job. I never officially quit, but I stopped showing up to inservices and stopped filling out intent to work forms and stopped accepting sub jobs.

On August 10th, 2008 my family abruptly changed churches. That was something that really upset me. All my goals, all my expectations, and everything that I knew was taken away, and I entered into a new arena trying to be forced into a clique-y group of girls who didn’t need me and I didn’t really want them anyway. This was made more difficult by the fact that everything I could be defined by was being taken away. I wasn’t doing that great in school like I usually did, and I had recently quit swimming. I did meet someone at the new church who has become my best friend.

That winter I realized that I was hurting myself and needed to stop. On April 10, 2009, I hurt myself for the last time. This summer I lost count of how many days of freedom I have experienced, but I do still celebrate the years of freedom! Although I was free of the behavior rather quickly, I have still not completely shed the inner struggle of temptation. Over my high school years that caused a few people to really want me to tell my parents about things and to consider counseling, but I was not really into that.

Early my senior year of high school I realized that I had started restricting my eating and moving towards anorexia nervosa. I caught it soon enough that I don’t think I was ever in danger, but it was a little scary so I called my best friend (LOT SCARY but I didn’t have texting yet). She suggested that I look up OCD. I guess I didn’t take the hint, and was trying to figure out how OCD treatment was useful for AN…probably not overly surprisingly, I couldn’t really find anything useful, and eventually got frustrated and gave up on that.

At some point (I don’t really remember when) my senior year of high school, someone suggested that I try out the free counseling at school and let him know how it went…and for some reason I agreed–probably mostly because I have difficulty saying no and it seemed far enough off that it would probably be forgotten eventually anyway. He suggested that a counselor could help me be more comfortable in social situations.

On January 17, 2011, my friend accused me of being suicidal to try to get me to tell my parents about my self-injury struggle. That was a really frustrating situation. I was mad for a while…unfortunately I was already planning on possibly telling them on April 11th and was about to reveal that about a week later…as it ended up, that actually ended up being a good thing because I decided I wasn’t going to be pushed into telling, but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my plans, so I ended up telling them anyway, and my parents were relieved that if something had been going on that it wasn’t suicide.

So I made it to school and at the beginning of the year set up a meeting with a counselor…I only planned on meeting once, saying I’d done it and then moving on with my life, but I couldn’t exactly tell the counselor that, so I ended up continuing, and have been in counseling since then.

Over Christmas break, I met with my best friend at her school. She suggested OCD very directly this time and asked me to try bringing it up with my counselor. I agreed to try it and did attempt it. Later that year one of my roommates got sick–I freaked out and was in my room only to sleep and shower for a while, and became a lot more aware that OCD might be a very real possibility.

So that is the big-ish events in my life.