Successful Coping Skill for Self-Injury

Long time no see.

Grad school is stressful (duh) and living on my own, in a new state, means much less support. However, I’ve managed relatively well. I’ve caused some bumps along the way, but I still have my internship and I’ve passed 2 out of 3 semesters. I’m about 1/2 through with my last semester right now!

I haven’t forgotten about the peeps who are just here for the inspirational pic 😉

SIB quotes adaptive - Copy

However, this week, stress has come to a head. Long story short: I was battling severe Self-injurious behavior urges today.

Details: I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours because I am overwhelmed with the workload this semester and anxious I won’t pass. Granted, I am always anxious I won’t measure up. To be fair, this semester, the concern is warranted. I am currently failing one class. Uh oh!!

Using the syllabus I calculated the remaining possible points in the course and I can still pass as long as I do well on the midterm and final exams. The midterm is next week! I am extremely behind in reading. The exam is essay based and the questions come from the reading. Of course, this is no ones fault, but my own…

Anyway, the urges were intense enough that I was unable to function. I did not go to work yesterday. I got nothing done for school or my practicum, even though (for once) I was awake all day. This morning, intrusive images made it tough to distract from the urges. When suicidal thoughts and a plan entered the picture, I decided riding out the urges was not a safe option.

Buffy_too much for me want it to be over

In treatment, people sometimes held ice as a coping skill because it causes pain, but no tissue damage (as long as you are careful to watch for frostbite and are able to curtail the SIB urges enough to take off the ice as needed, if tissue damage begins). I find that a little helpful. The pain works to elevate my mood. However, blood is a strong motivation for me as well. It is a discriminative stimulus for relief from overwhelming negative emotions. The sight of my own blood is so strongly paired with SIB that without it, the compulsion remains.

Therefore, I tried something new! I froze ice cubes made by mixing red food coloring with water.

20190212_121022 - Copy

 

 

It worked wonderfully!!! 🙂

 

20190212_120014 - Copy

20190212_120206 - Copy

Next time I’ll do a few things differently. I’ll put a towel down under my arm to avoid staining. I got the red  out of the counter tops, but it took a few seconds with a Brillo pad. Additionally, I’ll have paper towels within reach.

20190212_121059 - Copy

Surprisingly, the red dye came out of the silicon ice cube tray without a hitch,

The important take away is I avoided self-injuring despite struggling with the urges for over 24 hours.

 

If seeing blood and feeling pain are part of your self-injury, are there other ways you sublimate the urge? What works for you? I hope this helps someone avoid SIB.

 

 

Advertisements

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade: Fighters

“If someone were to die at the age of 61 after a lifelong battle with MS or Sickle Cell, we’d all say they were a “fighter” or an “inspiration.” But when someone dies after a lifelong battle with severe mental illness and drug addiction, we say it was a “tragedy” and tell everyone “don’t be like him, please seek help.”

Sorry, but that’s bullshit. Anthony Bourdain sought help his entire life. He struggled for decades. He saw a therapist. He quit heroin and cocaine. He went to rehab. He did this for decades. That’s HOW he made it to 61. For some people, 61 is a miracle. I know so many people who didn’t make it past 31 and I’d do anything to have 30 more years with them.

It was almost me. Before I started doing comedy, I was depressed, anxious, confused, and without a purpose in life. Now I am…still all of those things…but I do have a purpose. The past 5 years have been a gift from God, and have not been possible without constant struggle. Every day is a decision to not give up.

So thank you, Anthony Bourdain. Thank you for making it to 61. Thank you for sharing decades of your life with us. You truly were a blessing.

And for all of those who are staring into the abyss and want to give up, don’t. Struggle. Get a purpose in life. Reach out to friends and family. Go to therapy. Stay alive and give all those extra years to the world. We need you.” – Jeremy McLellan

First Day!

Starting something new is hard. I suppose it is hard for most people. I’m anxious that people will think I’m inept and stupid. *deep breaths* Time to put all these positive thoughts into action! Fake it til you make it.

 

don't panic you've handled this before and this time you havemore experience - Copy

 

I’ll update you at the end of the day. I know no one here cares about my complaining; people are understandably interested in the positive posts. :p However, the reason I revived this blog in 2016 was to sublimate my urge to vent about excessive worry and maladaptive behaviors to family and friends because those conversations bugged them. So please bear with me. Talking to you often helps get that out of my system, especially when people comment because then it feels like someone hears me.

Anyway, have a good day!

Pessimism Creates a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I did well until I was alone with no accountability or schedule.

I slept for 36 hours and didn’t get out of bed for almost 48. Unsurprisingly, my weight is no longer stable. However, I’m not as happy as I usually am about weight loss.

I’m not talking to friends. I worry my quietness indicates I don’t care, I’m too busy, or I’m not thinking about them now that I am far away, none of which are true. Unless, you count literally staring at the wall as too busy.

I’m lying to family about functioning and daydreaming about locked psych wards.

Passive suicidal thoughts are back.

This can’t be over before it even began. I don’t start the internship until next week.

I identified a few contributing factors. I missed meds accidentally for 2 days (now 3 as a result of sleeping). I’m afraid. While I’m sleeping a lot, I’m not sure if it is restful sleep because I’m tossing and turning all night and having unpleasant dreams.

For example, I was talking to student, who shares my past, about getting kicked out of school. I’m trying to explain that being placed in a more restrictive environment than a normal school does not reflect on your ability to succeed in a typical environment and it doesn’t make you bad. Suddenly Ginny’s daughter appears, we make eye contact, and I know she overheard. I immediately feel ashamed and wish she hadn’t heard. Then some random person enters and says, “I heard you guys are weird and into crazy stuff.”

Another dream: I’m at prom with a friend who left high school to go to residential treatment and then went to a new school. We get kicked out because former students aren’t allowed to attend prom. Then transporting, in time and place, I’m at a middle school dance for the school that kicked me out and I’m “asked” to leave the dance for the same reason my friend was asked to leave prom.

It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to determine my dreams’ meanings. I’m scared I won’t fit in and I can’t handle this. I’m ashamed of numerous facets of myself like getting expelled from middle school and my perceived culpability in abuse. I worry I don’t deserve this internship and they’ll soon figure that out and ask me to leave.

Using behaviors ensures that outcome. Of course I won’t fit in if I’m constantly subtly self-injuring or I never talk to anyone because I’m too busy planning binges. I won’t be “smart enough” if I’m restricting and can’t think.

Part of the problem with posting all this positive stuff is I feel like I can’t post when I am struggling. On the other hand, that feeling forces me to TRY to be a little positive. I spent over an hour looking for inspirational sayings that tie into this situation. Many rang hollow because of my mood, but this one still resonated with me. 

I know I can still turn this around. What can I do to be successful?

So far, I’ve got:

1. Stick to a sleep/wake schedule (proving very, very difficult!)

2. Plan activities that get me out of the apartment and seeing other people

3. Create and use a daily schedule for studying, ADLs, and talking to loved ones.

4. Tracking positive, recovery oriented actions, instead of only focusing on “failures” Ex. Today I got out of bed at 8 am, took my medication first thing, and ate breakfast.

Big Changes Need Big Reminders

This is the first time I’ve been on since leaving for a 2 day drive to my new state. I scheduled uplifting posts before I left, hoping if I tell myself positive platitudes enough, I’ll believe them.

Thanks for reinforcing my lack of sharing guys! ;p

My parents left yesterday. Things are going well so far.  I love the apartment complex and my apartment, which is about as big as one room in my childhood home! I’m debating sharing the view out my window, even though it shows the climate I live it and could be used to identify my whereabouts. Then again, so could my IP address if anyone cared enough to stalk me! I’ll consider it further; the view is wonderful. I’m also in love with my decor. It prominently displaying my favorite color: Blue. It is a light blue that I find calming.

While my parents were still here, I went to see a new provider to get medication. She gave my all the prescriptions I need and didn’t try to mess with my meds. She was nice, but the meeting upset me because I could tell she is afraid of me. Not afraid I’ll hurt her, but afraid I’ll hurt myself and she’ll be liable. Her tone of voice and demeanor changed when I mentioned my 2 suicide attempts, even though they were 15 and 11 years ago respectively. She also asked what I thought I needed to be successful since I’d “pretty much been through mental health treatment, in all its forms over the years.”

She made me feel sick and not in the “affirming my difficulties” way, but in the “I find it foolhardy that you think you are capable of navigating this gigantic change” way.  I doubt myself enough already. All my loved ones, from family to close friends like Ginny and Jessica, seem confident in me. Their faith buoyed me more than I realized because the practitioners’ reaction knocked the wind out of my sails.

However, she doesn’t know me and only has my self-report to rely on. I’m not a reliable narrator. The psychiatrist I’ve known since I was 14 thinks I am strong enough to do this and he saw me through suicide attempts and inpatient treatment for ED. He did NOT think I was well enough to go out of state for undergraduate and I managed that, with a few hiccups, but without a higher level of care. As a result, his confidence should mean more to me than someone I met for 45 minutes and only has the boiled down statistics of my psych history to judge me off of. Likewise, the opinions of family and friends I’ve known for years, should also count for more than her assessment. Logically, I know these things to be true, but emotionally, I’m still dealing with the impact days later because someone confirming my fear is more salient than the voices telling me I am more resilient than I realize.

On that note, I need to add a reminder for myself. In addition to the scheduled post today, I give you:

dont let others define you - Copy

 

Take your medication without shame

stigma-associated-with-mental-health-quote - Copy

I’ve seen a few articles pop up on my news-feed about the cons of psychiatric medication and it is making me angry. One talked about how they’re addictive and another discussed decreased empathy in patients taking anti-depressants.

store bought is fine - Copy

First of all, depression decreases empathy because you’re enveloped by your own guilt and self-hatred. Therefore, it is possible that the decreased empathy is not a byproduct of anti-depressants, but a symptom of depression. I did not even open the link, much less read the actual journal article. So , it is possible the journal article addressed this confound.

chemistry not character - Copy

Regardless, my 2nd point is more important. I, along with many others, would be dead, in a long-term institution, or thanks to deinstitutionalization, homeless,  without psychiatric medication. As much as I talk about suicide, I haven’t attempted since I was 16 years old. Before finding the right combination of medication during inpatient, I attempted multiple times.

Because this idea is SO IMPORTANT, you might need to see this image again: stigma-associated-with-mental-health-quote - Copy

I often struggle with the idea that I *shouldn’t* need psychiatric medication. My thoughts range from “I’m weak and if I can’t handle life without medication, then I don’t deserve life” to “It is just a placebo”. Whenever I stop my medication, my life spirals downward. The times I’ve been closest to hospitalization since eating disorder inpatient, were all times I was messing with my medication.

mental illness isn't simple - Copy

Evolution or Reinvention

I’m moving to a state where no one knows me. I could be anyone. Other than my stupid scars, I don’t have to have a past. I know I can pretend to be bubbly and extroverted because I was as a camp counselor. I also know I can make small talk because I managed to be the talkative one at a high school friend’s baby shower, where I knew no one.

Ginny told me a while ago that I’m too intense and it is off-putting to some people at work because I’m always serious. On one hand, I’ll be surrounded by other graduate students and they may be more serious as well. On the other hand, I could try being less Olivia Dunham Season 1 and more Olivia Dunham Season 5. ;p

quicker with a smile

 

In the meantime, I’m sad that I have less than 9 days of work left. I’m avoiding packing. As I feel more sad, I’m withdrawing from friends. I’m not sure if I’m isolating to decrease the pain of leaving or if I’m isolating because that is my MO when I’m sad.

 

Have you ever moved states? If so, how did it feel and how did you handle it?