By a robber in the woods

A very dear friend of mine attempted suicide this weekend. She survived and is safe in a psychiatric hospital right now. But I spoke with her today and she still seems overcome by the depression and the sorrow she faces. I looked briefly through photos of us over the past few months and can see, now with clarity, the smile on her face and the sorrow in her eyes.

I am in hermit mode while I safely heal my own broken heart as she exhaustedly fights for hers. I await to see the success of her fight because I cannot bear it to think she may lose. She is strong, though she doesn't see it. She is brave, though she sees only her fear. I will see the truth of her on her behalf while she navigates the dark woods of her depression.

I do not claim to be religious but have studied numerous scholars of numerous religions. One of the things that has always stuck with me was the idea by Martin Luther in the 16th Century that suicide did not mean that the soul was damned. That having your life taken by the despair the devil attacks you with is no different than being murdered by a robber in the woods. I believe that to be true.

My friend was attacked by a robber in the woods. She survived but continues to fight through these horrifying woods of her mind. I hope she receives the guidance she needs to make it out. Whether through a god, a therapist, a friend, or a family member. I want her to come safely out, back into the sunshine that will heal her.

He’s still processing

I could see that my son was stressed, but unsure why exactly. He's 6 years old so doesn't know the words for what is happening in his mind. We talked and I gave him time to process the words while I listened. And I gave him some new words that might help explain his feelings, and make him feel less alone in his thoughts.

He started out by saying he wishes this was a dream.
"Why do you wish it were a dream?"
"I think maybe it should be a nightmare."
"What makes it a nightmare?"
"Um, because I want to wake up from it."
"Why do you want to wake up from this?"
Long pause….
"I just do."
"If you woke up, what would be different?"
"Well, I wouldn't have to eat all the healthy food" pause…
"Anything else?"
"Yeah, my room would be clean."
"Well, you can make that happen."
"But there's SO MUCH. All the toys all around, it makes me like I'm dizzy."
"Ok. Well we can find ways to make that easier."
Long pause….
"Is there anything else that would be different?"
"Well…"
Another pause…
"You can tell me sweetie."
"Well…. my fish would be back."

And that's when it clicked. He's been more irritable since his fish died. I can't believe I didn't connect the two before. So we snuggled for a bit, he began to cry. I just hugged him. I can see he's still processing the loss of his fish and it breaks my heart. We talked a bit more. I told him that maybe he was stressed, and he asked what that means. I described it as when things make us upset in a way that our feelings make us feel dizzy. But not like spinning around in circles dizzy, just an emotions dizzy.

I could see his understanding. I knew that was what he had been trying to put into words. I explained that when our stress feels really big, it makes us feel overwhelmed. I think he understood.

Today my son learned that his emotions have names, and he is not alone in them. Today I was reminded that he does have strong emotions, and I need to help him learn to process them. I never learned that as a child. I have the emotional (and physical) scars to prove it. I will do all that I can to help my kids learn to process their emotions.

Shifts of mood

I’m shifting from depression to anxiety which sucks but also gives hope. This is common for me when I’m about to feel better. What gives me hope the most though isn’t that I’m likely to feel better soon, but that I recognize it. For so many years I did not recognize my cycles, and it made them more intense and frightening. I felt more desperate and wanted to give up so often. Through 2 years of therapy I am just now finally getting to understand my own mind, my mental monster. I’m so proud of this, and so glad that I stuck with treatment. 


I want to encourage all who face these mental monsters to stick with treatment. You may not see results for quite a while, but stick to it anyway. You didn’t learn to tie your shoes, or ride a bike, or add fractions over night (ok, fractions are a bad example, I’m not sure I ever really learned that). You learned through constant effort. Therapy is the same. Stick to it, keep trying, keep learning. And when you have sessions where you’re yelling at your therapist that “this shit is stupid!” And she asks “what do you want to do?” Schedule your next appointment. That is what you want to do, even if you don’t recognize it right away. Stick to it. I believe in you and your ability to win this fight, and I believe in using all the resources available to you. 
Namaste y’all – I bow to the divine in you

That’s what copiers are for right?

So I forgot my pills this morning. And felt continuously more wonky as the day went on. About 2pm I was ready to curl up into fetal position behind the office copier and have a full blown panic attack. That’s not really considered “professional” though, so I hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes instead and spent the rest of the work day with my earbuds in. Most people assume earbuds means I have a lot of paperwork and need music to keep me going, so it’s not questioned. I made it through the day… mostly… but got home dizzy and with 16 rubber bands on my right wrist to remind me of my failures. Or at least my perceived failures. But it’s temporary, right? The dizzy, the panic, the fear, the anger, the judgement of myself, it’s all temporary. Please remind me that it is temporary. I’m not sure I can trust my brain today, but I’m certain I can trust yours. 

If we were (almost) having coffee…

Thank god for virtual coffee dates cause I don’t exsist today. I had a migraine all morning and so have been in bed desperately longing for the pain to release. It is a dangerous longing for me to have, luckily my room is safe and I was able to sleep. Feeling half alive now I am drinking a small coffee, large water, and eating fruit, hoping I actually keep this down. 

I’m not exactly a lump of joy or energy, but at least I’m a lump so 1 out of 3 at least, yeah? I do want to share a great moment from the week though. Yesterday the kids were arguing and my 7yo stormed out of the room, flopped on the couch, and crossed his arms. This is typical of him being upset, and usually followed with “I’m having a bad day!!!” I’ve been trying to teach the kids that a moment is temporary and does not need to determine the whole day. This time, without prompt, the statement was “I’m having a bad moment!” And I couldn’t have been more proud.

So, to practice what I preach. The pressure in my head is temporary. The frustration I feel is for a moment. It does not define my day, and will not effect the week to come. Wishing you all lots of good moments this week. Remember the bad moments are temporary and will pass, the good moments are temporary and so to be enjoyed as they happen. 

Not a success, not a failure, just a day

I finished my day Saturday with only one rubber band on my right wrist. I was so proud of the proof that I am successfully changing my brain! Then on Sunday morning I had 4 rubber bands on the right wrist before 10am, and as I noticed this fact I was distraught at how I am clearly a failure who can’t change. And then I proceeded to move over the 5th rubber band.

If you didn’t read Saturday’s post then you are probably very confused right now. Don’t worry, we’re all confused about something right now. But to lower your confusion, I am doing an exercise from DBT where you tally your judgmental thoughts through the day. To tally, I am keeping a number of rubber bands on my left wrist, and when my brain goes all judgy I move one to the right wrist. Not only does this open my eyes to frequency of judgement, it also causes a natural pause. As I pause to move the rubber band I begin to rethink and rephrase the statement to be less assuming and more fact based.

As I moved the new rubber band on Sunday I rephrased that I am not a failure. I will have good days and bad. I am taking steps in the right direction and need to be patient. Something that occurred to me later on was that my excitement the previous night was also a judgement. I didn’t realize it at the time because I don’t usually judge myself positively, but it was. It could have been rethought as something like “I had a good day mentally. I am so glad I am taking these steps to become more mindful and honest.” Excitement would still have played a part in that, emotions are not the enemy, but it would have been more rational excitement that wouldn’t have made me feel quite so let down the following morning.

So today was a new day, and I continued to practice non-judgement. I worked hard to be mindful of the day itself and not dwell on yesterday or worry about tomorrow. I am proud that I am making progress regardless of my rubber band count at the end of each day, and I plan to continue my hard work towards better stability.

However I was not mindful enough to stop freaking out over a meeting I have next month that I am not prepared for in any way. But hey, mindfulness is hard and apparently I totally suck at it *moves rubber band*…. and I will continue to practice because these things take time. 😉

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee I would totally be braless. Well, technically I already am, you don’t mind do you? I’ve been having nasty headaches for days. While this is caused by a number of factors such as lack of sleep, a nasty cough I can’t seem to shake, and far too much caffeine, my go to quick solution is take off the bra. The lack of pressure on my shoulders makes me feel soooo much better in the head.

If we were having coffee, I would be having just one, cause too much caffeine, sigh. But I have some juice and tea, so we have options no worries. I would also show you the rubber bands on my wrist that I am very proud of. See I’ve been trying to focus on DBT practice now while I’m stable. Since the symptoms of my crazy are easier right now, finding new ways to cope help me to build those habits for the future. A large part of DBT is non-judgment, which I struggle with to horrendous extreme. Marsha Linehan recommends using a tally system to track judgmental thoughts. Some recommendations are writing actual tallies on a piece of paper, or keeping bits of paper in one pocket and transferring one to the other pocket each time you make a judgment. Well, I’m not carrying a stupid tally sheet, and considering I keep a pocket knife on me, I probably shouldn’t reach in my pocket when I’m being judgmental of myself. So I am using rubber bands. 

What I do is keep 15 rubber bands on one wrist, and move one to the other when my thoughts turn judgemental (if you try this on your own, note that 15 is not a required number, unless you’re OCD and need things in groups of 5). While I was very skeptical of this at first, cause what the hell are tallies supposed to do to help, this works AMAZINGLY. What happens is the moving of the rubber band causes an immediate pause. While I am paused I have a moment to rethink in the ways my therapist has been trying to teach me. I’ve never been able to make that pause before, but the tally system does it for me. I have rethought so much judgment of myself this week it is fantastic. Granted I’m not perfect at it as sometimes I yell internally “that judgment is perfectly justified!” as I move the rubber band, and then my thoughts turn more judgemental and I have to move another. But most of the time it works great.

If we were having coffee I would ask what you have been doing to take care of yourself. I’m seeing a lot of tweets from y’all about your brains being mean and your rough days. And while I try to cheer you up with humor, your struggles break my heart. If I could send you Irish Coffee and face masks I would. But for now I will wish you a braless Saturday, unless you don’t wear bras, then I wish you a shoeless weekend cause shoes suck too.

Namaste y’all 🙏😘

Even when stable

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. As per usual I parked in my normal row, the correct distance from a cart drop off spot, walked next to the same crosswalk I always do, through the same door and to the left as always. With my compulsive requirements met I was able to grab the two items I needed. Then half way to check out I began to panic. I was very suddenly concerned that the cash option of self checkout would be down and, as I was using cash, I would need to go speak to a person to pay. I wasn’t prepared for that.

So what happened? I’ve been doing so well, feeling stable, what changed? Well, nothing changed. The fact is “stable” doesn’t mean symptom free, or at least for me it doesn’t. It means my symptoms are dulled, and my mind more clear. The combination of the two make it easier to cope with what comes my way. A moment of panic over something random is fine. I felt it, acknowledged it, and worked through it. 

This is a normal thing for me. And I felt the need to explain. I don’t want to put out the mistaken belief that by “stable” I’m magically better. That feeling a sense of peace removes all non-peaceful symptoms. That by feeling less overwhelmed by emotion means that they aren’t still intense. That less impactful symptoms make my urge to self harm disappear. Because that’s not the case. What it means is that I can work through them easier, I can cope, I can fight urges with better success, and I also have more energy to do these things. 
I would compare this to taking cold medicine. Taking cold medicine doesn’t make all symptoms of the cold disappear, it simply makes the symptoms easier to deal with. I have more clarity of mind right now, and that clarity helps me more than anything. I don’t need to be symptom free as long as I have the ability to fight the symptoms successfully. 

Love yourself, take care of yourself

From the age of 16 to 22 I fought eating disorders off and on. It completely destroyed my metabolism and when I finally stopped I gained over 100lbs. Since then I have fought to stay healthy. My idea at this point in my life is eat healthy, stay active, let your body look the way it’s going to look. I know how to dress my curves and rock my look. I don’t own a scale cause first of all that number doesn’t define me, and second of all my higher activity level is causing me to gain muscle which accounts for as much of my weight as my fat does at this point.

That being said, I’m not always good at it. When my anxiety hits hard, or I go manic, or my depression becomes overwhelming, I tend not to eat enough. If I notice that happening I begin a food diary and 90% or the time find that I am at half my recommended calorie intake. I keep track of my food until a healthy amount of food becomes the norm again. When I’m sick (as I was recently) I begin to eat too much, and mostly crap. See I feel dizzy and tired when I haven’t eaten enough, so dizzy and tired from being sick makes my brain decide I should eat more to magically feel better. Sometimes I’m not active enough, so I try to add in more yoga or take the kids to the store and walk around. 

Recently I discovered a lack of fruits and veggies in my diet so went to Walmart and got some of that “Super Greens” powder. I’ve been sticking it in my blender bottle with half juice and half almond milk and drinking it once a day. It’s actually pretty good. But while I expected an increase in energy and focus, my body said “bitch, it’s about time you gave me these nutrients! Let me show you how you’ve been treating me lately!” And now I am on an unintentional cleanse. Yuck. But I figure if all natural dietary supplements cleanse me, chances are I needed it, so I’m letting it run it’s course.

As strange and pointless as this post seems, the situation has reminded me of the importance of loving and taking care of myself. I may have gotten out of the eating disorder phase of my life, but self harm is still an issue for me. If I can work so hard to take care of the inside of my body, shouldn’t I do the same to the outside? And if I can love the outside of my body, as lumpy as it may be, shouldn’t I learn to love my mind, as emotional as it can be?

I hope to spend more time focusing on this. Being mindful of this. Perhaps it will give me a greater sense of self acceptance. I hope you’ll do the same. Whatever you may struggle to love about yourself, start practicing that acceptance and care. Maybe together we can learn to heal our wounds, both external and internal.

Letters to myself

I realized something in therapy today. Technically something I’ve realized many times before and always understood about myself, but today it seemed more logically visible (those are the best words I can find to describe the feeling, sorry it doesn’t quite make sense).

One of the reasons I write this blog, and why I journaled before that, is because I don’t listen to myself. The logic in my brain tells me smart things and the rest of my brain looks at the logic part and says “screw you”. I speak to coping with mental illness and then fall into the same traps I warned about. I tell myself the right honest and realistic things and yet allow my emotions to completely warp the situation in my mind. For a long time I felt alone in this, but I no longer do.

In DBT you learn about the wise mind, which is like the middle ground where the rational mind and emotional mind meet. In CBT there is a part in one of the learning exercises that asks “what would you say to a close friend if they were feeling that way?” Just the fact that these are in well received and effective treatments tells me that I am not alone. That others struggle with this and succeed in their fight. So I can to.

When I am struggling I look back at some of my posts to see how I coped before, what I told myself before. And I look at your comments and see that you understand. And I rest in the fact that maybe I make you feel less alone just as you do for me. So I am writing myself this letter. But if it speaks to you you can adopt the letter as your own, or perhaps right a similar one more personalized to your path and your struggles.

Dear B.B.,

You are worthy. Though you often feel that you’re not, and you may believe the emotional mind more than the rational one, you are. Don’t forget that.

When you feel like you are failing, look at yourself through the eyes of your loved ones. See the success through them when you can’t see it through yourself. It is there.

Be kind to yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself. Show your children what it is to show yourself compassion even when the self confidence may not be there. Tell yourself what you would tell others. Show yourself the respect that you show those you care about. 

Remind yourself that everything is temporary. Good times are temporary, cherish them. Bad times are temporary, wait them out. You can make it through, you can succeed. Believe in that. And when your emotional mind gets in the way of that belief, say it anyway. Claim your success over and over again until the words are ingrained in you. You don’t have to believe it at that moment for it to still be true.

I believe in you, please believe in you too. You are worth it.

With Love,

Yourself