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My Life Story

If you’re anything like me, you are very skeptical about bloggers, youtubers, and, well, anybody when they say that they know what you’re going through when you mention you struggle with mental health. You’re constantly looking for somebody to relate to, but then end up finding these seemingly perfect people with problems that are smaller than the penny in your pocket. You always seem to ask the same questions, “What kind of problems does this person have? What do they know about mental health? Why should I listen to them?” So why should I be any different? Well unlike the others you may happen to come across, I am open about my struggles and past in hopes that other will be too. I think the only way to make mental health okay to talk about is to, well, talk about it!

So, this is my story:

When I was little, I had a hard working mother that loved every inch of her kids. She was always trying to take care of us, work, and go to school to be a medical assistant, all at the same time. My father was in the Marine Corp but was never really in my life. He wasn’t gone because of work or because he was doing anything important, but because he loved to do drugs with his buddies much more than he seemed to love his family. There was only one time were I remember him trying to be a good dad and stop using, but, unfortunately, this didn’t come without the side effects. One day, he was outside on the porch and he started to seize. The only thing I remember was showing the EMTs and firefighters where my mom was holding his convulsing body. I was about 6.

Eventually he got medically discharged from the military and we moved to Texas. I finally found a friend that lived right next door to me, we’ll call her Bethany. I was always an outcast so meet somebody like Bethany was a really big deal for me. We would always be together, walk to school, and hang out at her house all weekend. In the meantime, my father loved to fuck shit up. He started stealing my mother’s money and buying drugs with it. He would always scream throughout the night and punch holes in the wall when she confronted him about stealing money and cheating on her (which he’d do both). Eventually it got to the point to were the police were called and he got arrested, where they advised my mom to leave the state. So my mom called a good family friend of ours (who was later my step dad (if I say dad from now on, it’s my step dad, and father is the fucker from above). I was ripped away from Bethany and moved to South Dakota.

My father promised to call me every Wednesday, and that he would call me; I shouldn’t call him since he would he busy with his new girlfriend. He called me twice and that was the last I’ve ever heard from him. I was 8.

It wasn’t all bad though. My dad (remember actually my step-dad) ended up being very loving and caring to my family and he protected us from everything. The only thing was that he was very strict on chores and school work. This taught me how to be responsible and put work before play… this taught my younger sister how to lie. My dad would get so frustrated with her because she would never get her shit done and then lie about it. My grandma (Mom’s mom) would see this and think that my dad was abusive. She hated him. She called me evil for standing up for my dad and I’ve always felt like she hated me for growing up to be like him. Her calling me evil caused me to feel like I wanted to kill myself for the very first time. I figured if my own father and grandmother hated me, then I must be truly evil. I was 12.

Around this time, I was obviously in middle school. I don’t remember very much about middle school, but I do remember this one kid, we’ll call him Kevin. He would always try to grab me, whispering gross shit in my ear, like how I got him hard, and that one day he would have sex with me, whether I would want him to or not. I stopped wearing tight clothes; I would only wear huge, overly baggy sweatshirts to hide every inch of myself, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. One day, he made one of his gross comments and my best friend at the time heard it. They got into a fight. All of our parents were called into the principal’s and I didn’t see Kevin at school anymore. I thought it was because he was suspended or expelled, but it was really because he was going through chemotherapy for a cancer that later killed him that year. I wanted to tell somebody about what he did to me and my self-esteem, but what kind of monster would talk ill of a kid that died from cancer. So I never told anybody. Even my mom only thinks it was a one-time comment. I got through it. I had no choice but to just get through it.

In high school, I joined cheerleading. I was a state-wide competition cheerleader. I tried to be the best at it in every way. One year, I guess I was. I was elected to go to London to cheer in the New Year’s parade during my junior year. My team also won conference one year, and first in our division twice! I loved it. I found my niche. I felt important… Then I left high school. I joined the air force because I had panic attacks a couple times daily about not knowing what I wanted to do in college. I then landed a job in intel.

I left for basic training and and that was way too easy for my own good. But when I got to tech school to learn how to do my job as an Intel Analysis… it was a-whole-nother beast. I was lucky in high school, schoolwork came easy to me. I was used to being the smart kid in class, but then when I got to tech school, I struggled constantly to barely pass every unit. I had daily panic attacks and felt so dumb and ridiculous that I should just give up. The only thing in tech school that came easy was the relationship I made there. Well call him Jason, and he was everything I could have hoped for. He was my everything. He was my reason to live, honestly. Then, tech school was over. I got stationed in New Mexico… he got stationed in Germany. If he was 2 time zones West, we would be exactly half a world away. I missed him way too much. My will to live: half way around the world.

I had to two more training sessions in New Mexico after tech school. Without Jason, my stress and depression got so high, I failed them. I felt so stupid. Like a failure to my family, friends, and my dream. My leadership at the time didn’t care about my mental health. They told me that if I would have tried, I would have passed the class. I was begging for a reclassment for a different job, but they told me it was impossible.

I was so overwhelmed and exhausted from feeling trapped in this hell, that in January of 2019, I took an entire bottle of pain killers. I regretted it instantly. I called 911 and was sent to the ER where they charcoal-ed me and I stayed there over night. It wasn’t the crazy stomach pains, the six IV pokes, or the squeezing in my chest that hurt the most, it was calling my mom and hearing her cry. That will always be the most painful this I’ve ever felt. The next day, I went to a mental asylum for 10 days called The Pavillion. They put me on anti-depressants and started me on therapy. The day after I got out, I had to go to work, where my leadership told me that my suicide attempted was a scam to try to get out of then military, even though I was begging them to stay in.

After that, I turned to drugs and lots of alcohol to make myself as numb as I possibly could. This cause a shit ton of problems between Jason and I. He didn’t trust me. How could he? I was constantly around all these guys giving me all these drugs and bottles of alcohol. I gave up. I gave up on begging to stay in the military, I gave up trying to impress anybody, I gave up wanting to be perfect, I gave up on life, I gave up on Jason, and I gave up on me. Nothing mattered, but I didn’t want to hear my mom cry again, so I kept taking the pills that didn’t work, going to the therapy that didn’t help, and pretending I was fine. This worked for a while.

But then in September of 2019, I snapped. I was on my way to pick up supplies to kill myself, but then a friend back home called me. I didn’t want to answer but I did. She told me to go to the ER and I listened. They sent me to The Pavillion again. I was there for 7 days. I started to genuinely feel better after, I got on some mood stabilizers and started therapy that was actually helping me. I got out on a Wednesday. The Saturday after that, I went to a party where I was raped by a good friend of mine. I felt like I cheated on Jason and I was such a shitty person. That nobody should love me. I didn’t deserve to live anymore.

The Tuesday after that, I OD-ed on all my sleeping pills. My friends, we’ll call them James and Frank, found me the next day. They were banging on my window and door and I wasn’t answering. James broke into my window, Frank call the ambulance and my mom, and they sent me to the ER. I couldn’t walk on my own for two days. I was in The Pavillion for almost 20 days and I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. They sent me a to different hospital in San Antonio to help me learn coping skills for BPD (that didn’t include substance use like I loved to do before). I was there for 28 days. I got back and felt amazing and like I could actually be my self again, but Jason and I were still having problems. One time we had the worst fight we’ve ever had. I felt like I was ruining his life so I tried to push him away the only way I now would work. I cheated on him intentionally. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to hate me. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if he left me first. But he didn’t leave me, he stayed with me. I never knew why. I still don’t.

But then later I was raped again by a different friend of mine. The worse part; he promised to never hurt me and to never take advantage of me like that. I learned that I just can’t trust everybody, but that is okay. I don’t need to be friends with everybody. I was 19.

After that, I got a brand new leadership that cares about me and their people, and they kicked off my out-processing so I could leave the military and actually have my life back. I got out of the military honorably due to mental health, sobered up, started a blog to share my process on the road to happiness, worked out the kinks of my relationship with Jason, and I am planning going to school to make something out of myself that I can be proud of. I starting to actually be happy again and can I see a bright future ahead of me. I refuse to let the pain eat me alive like it did before.

Now that you know my story, I hope you can talk my advice and promises in my other blogs a bit more personally. I think that’s why I wanted to start this blog, to prove to both myself and to others that your past shouldn’t define you, but rather, shape you. I’m done letting my bumps in the road convince me that I’ve reached the end of it, and so can you!

What it Feels Like to Fight with Your Brain

I fight with my brain everyday. Some days are way worse than others, but regardless, it’s everyday. Now, what does this mean?

Fighting with my brain means that I have sometimes have extremely elevated emotions about a topic I know and understand the logical thinking behind. It seems weird and complicated, but here’s a fairly normal example of this:

Ex: I am trying a new food.

Logical thinking: I know I am not allergic to this food, therefore it cannot hurt me, even if I do not like it. I also know the food cannot attack me in any way,so there should be no fear involved.

Emotional Response: I am terrified that I will not like it and the world will end if I don’t.

Now I know this is a rather extreme reaction for this example, but this is the same clashing of thoughts I go through when I experience rather large and/or life changing events.

I know my reaction is overdone or over the top, I know the situation is scary, but in no way life or death, and I know I can make it through any challenge in front of me. I also feel like my entire life and my likelihood to succeed are based on the decisions that i make right now, I feel like I am going to fail at everything I do, and I feel like I wont make it through.

Crazy, I know.

Now, for people who have similar experiences to this, I am here to tell you that I’ve successfully moved farther and farther from this way of thinking and it has honestly made me a happier person over all (note, still working on it, but waaaaay less extreme now). Here’s how I did it: notice the two words in the above paragraph: Know and Feel. Those too words may seem the same to you in the moment of heightened emotion, but they are actually extremely different.

You KNOW facts. Things that you can prove one way or another. I know this situation is scary, but I also know that I’ve been through just as scary, if not scarier events in my life and lived. But I FEEL like I have failed at everything in my life, and that is clearly not true. I’ve passed tests and high school, I’ve won awards, and I have joined the military. Have I failed at things? Duh, but clearly not EVERYTHING.

What I have started to do was carry around either my phone or a notebook with me. When I become elevated or extremely emotional, I first do something to try to calm me down in that moment-a distraction technique-like deep breathing. I get myself to the point where I still may be upset, but I can function enough to write my thoughts down. Then I make two lists used to answer the question “Why am I upset right now?” It seems like a silly question, but sometimes this can be hard to answer. I make a list of all the things I KNOW. Facts. Then I make a list of the FEELINGS or THOUGHTS I am having.

What this does is it separates your emotions from reality, because often enough, they don’t align. Separating the two forces you to understand why you are upset and if your emotions are justified. The more you do this, the more natural it becomes to do so. This leads to better, more rational decision making.

This is a problem I’ve noticed a lot of people that suffer with anxiety and depression have. Although it feels like you are crazy while you are going through these overly emotional outburst, you’re not! Most of the population of people who have a mental illness feel crazy for it, but their brain is just fighting them. Nothing more, nothing less. If you wouldn’t judge somebody with a physical illness for their symptoms, so do not judge yourself for your mental illness symptoms. This is just one of those symptoms. Its OKAY! But just like elevating a broken leg can help the healing process, there are things you can do to help with your healing process, and this is just one of those things. I believe that you can heal from this, even if you don’t.

Now, for people who knows somebody who may struggle with this problem, here are some things you can do and say that can help, and also some that will make it worse.

When I was in these emotional episodes and ended up talking to somebody during it, I was rarely looking for advice, but rather validation. I didn’t like people telling me things and giving me logical reasoning, because I knew these things already. It made me feel crazy and like I am too much to handle for overreacting. Most of the time, I just wanted somebody to help me calm down and talk through the problem at hand, NOT to extenuate how over-the-top I was being (because I knew that).

Ask them what techniques help them calm down and think, or simply just ask them questions on what the situation is. If they ask for advice, then give it to them, other wise, they are more than likely just scared and want to feel normal again.

Final words: This is manageable, you just have to believe in yourself that you can manage it. This way worked/works for me in managing if for myself. You can find ways that work for for you. You got this!

Thoughts on Therapy

Isn’t weird how the people who have never been to therapy seem to have the loudest opinions about it?

“Therapy is for the weak.”

“Therapy is just an excuse to complain to somebody.”

“Therapy is a waste of time and money.”

“Therapy is for soft people who don’t know how to handle things on their own.”

Here’s the thing, although these opinions over-saturate the topic of the therapy, none of them are true. What is true about therapy: It is fucking hard!

It is hard to sit there and pour your emotions out to a stranger, especially if you have a hard time doing that to the people you love.

It is hard to hear how almost all your habits are unhealthy.

It is hard admitting that you’ve fucked up so many times within an hour.

It is hard trying to change your ways after doing the same thing for years.

It is hard being open minded to others opinions about your life.

Worst of all, it is hard to keep showing up with so much back lash from people who do not know what it actually takes to go to therapy.

Therapy isn’t just a “safe room” where you talk about your feelings and then go home. It is an intense, hour long session of trying to change almost everything about your thoughts, your habits, and your life. You leave exhausted. Then you are on 24/7 thought control to literally change the way your brain is operating (both emotionally AND physically). It does get easier, but it is never easy. Then you go back and do it all over again next week. Even more so if you are in an inpatient treatment facility. Then therapy can average around eight hours a day, seven days a week. So DO NOT let anybody tell you that therapy is easy, because if it was, you wouldn’t actually need it.

One major component about therapy that you have to consider is the therapist. No two psychologists are the same. It is important to find a therapist that specializes or has a lot of experience with your symptoms. This is somewhat obvious, but something less obvious is to find a therapist that has the same morals, ways of communicating, and maybe even religious believes as you. Here is why:

My first therapist wasn’t a good fit for me (hence why he is my first rather than my only). He was very adamant about being spiritual to find happiness. Now, there is nothing wrong with this type of therapy, he seems to actually help a lot of people, but I am very skeptical about the universe’s energies and them having anything to do with me crying or not. His way of thinking was nowhere close to mine, so the therapy actual made my condition way worse. I got frustrate that it wasn’t working so I gave up on myself a lot.

My second therapist was completely different. She specialized in Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I thought she was going to be perfect for me since she specialized in my condition. She was AMAZING at explaining BPD and helping me understand how to better myself from it. The only problem was whenever I brought up something from the past (anywhere between birth and a couple of hours ago), it always seemed to end in “Well, it is what it is, you can’t change it.” Although I completely agree with this statement, I brought up my challenges in the past in hopes of analyzing the situation and seeing how I can do better next time, so brushing it off wasn’t helpful to me.

My third therapist was extremely religious. Again absolutely nothing wrong with religious therapists, as long as their way of thinking lines up with yours. I am not religious in the slightest, so given the advice “God has a plan for all of us.” and “God will never give you anything you cannot handle.” was not helpful in the slightest.

My fourth (and current) therapist has been perfect for me and my diagnosis. He knows a crazy amount about BPD and DBT and is also very scientifically driven, which means he can explain why I am doing the homework and why my therapy works with my brain. He also runs through past situations with me to find new ways on how to think about similar situations in the future. He’s been an amazing therapist to work with.

I am not saying to find a therapist just like mine because that’s the only way therapy will work, I am saying to find a therapist that works for YOU because that’s the only way therapy will work.

So yes, we’ve now established even considering go to therapy can be hard, let alone actually going and find a therapist that is right for you, but is it worth all the hassle, time, and tears? YES! Finding a type of therapy and a therapist that works for you is life changing. I never thought I could go any entire day without a panic attack, I thought that I was too crazy to love, and that I would never find happiness. That was less than 2 months ago. Now, I feel like I could take on the world. I can makes plans and have it fall through without considering myself a failure. Do I have shitty thoughts that create shitty days – yes – but is it every single day – not even close anymore. I am starting to see myself again and I would have never been even close without reaching out for professional help. Do your research, don’t be afraid of therapists (or switching them), and I can almost guarantee that you won’t regret it.

What Mental Asylums are Like

Everything I have seen about mental asylums has made these facilities, and the people inside of them, look dark and dangerous. I think the stigma around mental asylums is extremely exaggerated by the media around us, which leads us believe that they are only for tremendously unstable/crazy people, and if we go to one, we will be mistreated and left in a straitjacket for days. This is absolutely not the case! I’m here to tell you what actually happens inside of those walls and how going to one (or four lol) was very helpful to me.

First thing’s first, every mental asylum is different and specializes in different areas of help. I have been to only two facilities, but they were extremely different from each other; my first facility was an acute facility while the second one was not. I’ll get into this more later but bare this in mind when reading this blog: these are my experiences that I am using to break down the stigma, your experiences may be different but this can give you a better idea of what to expect from going to one.

The First/Acute Facility: An acute facility means that I had less freedoms and leeway during the stay. This may sound scary, but this was beneficial to me at the time. I wanted to hurt myself, so having less freedoms made me safe. My bedroom door had to be locked while I was out it, and the door had to be completely open while I was in it. This means every time I needed to go to the bathroom, change clothes, sleep, or grab something I owned, I needed to ask one of the nurses to open the door for me. Everybody had to share 3 showers. I could keep all my items in my room as long as they were not electronics, hardcovered books, or did not have hoods, strings, laces, or chords. You could go outside if one of the nurses was willing to sit with you. The nurses escorted everybody, in a line, to the cafeteria for each meal. There was a payphone (I didn’t actually have to pay to call) that everybody shared so we could contact our loved ones.

The Second/Non-Acute Facility: I could do a lot more on my own within this mental institution compared to the first one. My bedroom door was always unlocked, and I could shut the door if I wanted to, plus each room had its own shower. If I wanted to go outside, I had to have a nurse open the door for me, but I could be out there by myself. I could walk myself to the cafeteria for each meal (within a specific time period). We could have our cell phones at night to talk to our families. The rest of the rules were similar to the first facility.

Although these two asylums seem fairly different, the schedule was almost the same each day:

  • Wake up at a specific time each day
  • Take medications
  • Check vitals (blood pressure, temperature, etc.)
  • Participated in group and personal therapies throughout the day
  • Talk to your doctor about medications
  • Personal time
  • Get ready for bed
  • Take medications
  • Check vitals
  • Then go to sleep

Another very similar thing at these two places was the in and out-processing. In-processing took waaay longer than you may have expected. They ask lots relatively personal questions that may be uncomfortable for you to answer at first (such as do you cut, do you have substance abuse problems, are you violent), but this is all to ensure proper care for the problems you are having. Out-processing was rather very quick; it mostly consists of waiting for your ride to arrive and saying goodbye to the people you have met there. Although it may not seem like it, you grow rather close to the people that are going through treatment with you. Without the outside world and everybody there having similar issues, its easy to talk to and relate to other patients.

So now that we established that mental asylums are not full of dangerous people and you are not going to be thrown into a padded room for a week, let’s talk about the point of going to one at all. Is talking to strangers about your feelings really worth not being connected to the outside world?

For me, it had to be. I was a danger to myself. I was always making depression and anxiety driven choices that often lead me hurt or fallen even more into the depression. I didn’t know how to control myself and it was just a matter of time before I was successful in my suicide attempts without the help I need.

Being in a mental asylum helped me go through very deep trauma and intensive therapy in a place where I could not hurt myself. I was surrounded by people in similar situations, which made me feel less alone in the fight. It helped me reshape my train of thought and create a better mental foundation, so now I am less likely to fall into the deep depression periods I was very prone to before. They helped me know myself better and understand why I am the way that I am and do the things that I do. Awareness of your problems creates less of those problems.  

I don’t recommend everybody go to mental asylum, but the people who want/need the help shouldn’t be afraid to take it, especially if it could be the difference between life and death. The facilities are not scary, dangerous, or dark, they are there to help you along side people who are just like you. Your experience may be different than mine, and that is OK! I just hope this blog helps you make a more informed decision on if you should attend one, and if you do, to do it without fear.

How to Be Happy :)

It’s just life, don’t take it so seriously.

-Anonymous

I don’t know about you, but every time that I look up blogs, videos, and websites about how to be happy, they always end up saying one of three things:

  • Think happier thoughts/stop focusing on the negative.
  • There is no need to stress out.
  • Be grateful for what you have

I’m here to tell you why these pieces of advice are bullshit for people with real depression and anxiety, but then I’ll tell you what has actually helped me with both.

Think Happier Thoughts/Stop Focusing on the Negative

Wow, if only I have thought about that! Seriously though, if you have ever suffered with depression, you may relate to me when I say that I know these thoughts are harmful and that they don’t make any sense, but I just can’t stop thinking them. The harder I try to stop thinking about these things, the more I think them! That is why this type of advice is useless to me.

There is No Need to Stress Out

The same argument applies for this advice as the one above, but rather than downplaying the symptoms of depression, it downplays the symptoms of anxiety.

Be Grateful for What You Have

…even if you’re just grateful for being alive. This paragraph is going to be very dark very quickly; when you suffer with severe depression, you’re not grateful to be alive. It’s not right, but it’s the truth.

So, we know why these saying are useless and not helping us, now we can go through activities that actually helped me become happier and less anxious.

Step 1: Whatever you feel like doing, do the opposite!

If you feel like laying in bed all day and never seeing the sun, FORCE yourself to leave your house. Do it. Right now.

If you don’t feel like showering and brushing your hair, DO IT.

Even if all you can handle is putting on clean clothes so you can stay in bed in different clothes, Do it and then try to FORCE yourself to do just a little bit more.

You may, no, you’re GOING to hate it at first, I promise, but here is why you should still do it:

  • Changing location/environment leads to changing emotions and thoughts
  • Doing things tends to distract you to the point of decreasing the amount of negative thoughts you are having
  • Convinces you at that you are way more capable than you first believe (even if it just means getting out of bed to eat)
  • The more times you force yourself, the less often you would have to

Step 2: The goal isn’t to be completely happy, but rather, to be different than right now.

Sometimes I set my expectations way too high and think if I just follow the internet’s advice, I’ll be happy tomorrow, then when I am not happy, I label myself as a failure, then the cycle repeats.

I had to change the way I thought about why I am getting out of bed and forcing myself to do things. What is my actual goal? That answer was easy to answer: to feel different than what I am feeling right now. I HAD to stop doing things to be happy, because if I wasn’t immediately happy, I wasn’t destined to be happy. But, if I changed my goal to feeling different, more times than not, I felt at least a little bit better, making me succeed my goal. I don’t know if you have noticed, but people (and more specifically, their brain) really like success. It creates dopamine in the brain, and you know what that means? Happier. Exactly. Then when you’re happier, you want to do even more, and when you do more, you’re happier, and the cycle continues. Its a good cycle to be in, but the only way to start the cycle, is to start it. You got this. Go be different.

Step 3: No Judgement

This one may be harder than all the rest of them: no judgment upon anybody… anybodyThis includes yourself. If somebody is wearing the most ridiculous thing on Earth, no judgement. If somebody’s art sucks, no judgment. If you make a mistake, no judgement. Here’s why: nothing can be bad if there is no judgment, everything is just the way it is.

This isn’t going to come very naturally or easily, so do not have that expectation going in right now. The goal when you first start is to just notice when you judge things, but don’t judge yourself when you do! It was a mistake and mistakes are okay. The more you notice when you label something good or bad, the less often you end up doing it. It takes lots of practice. You are literally re-routing the way you’ve thought about the world your entire life, so it’s going to take time. Be patient. You’ll get there. I believe in you, and trust me when I say, if I can judge less, so can you!

Conclusion: All the steps I have given you do not have any particular order, you can start whenever you decide that you are willing to change your life for the better. Just keep in mind, you are learning how to be happier and it takes a lot of force and discipline and you will make mistakes, and that’s okay! You can do this the second you decide that you want to. I know you can, and one day, you will know too.