Staying Inside The Lines… #MHBlog #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention

So the other day I was looking through my room for some documents, and I found this…

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This isn’t what I was looking for…

And you’re probably thinking I colored this in when I was a kid, but I actually did this when I was 23, at a mental health hospital. Coloring this was actually one of the highlights of my stay there, because it was the first time in a very long time that I experienced what I believed was complete peace in my heart and silence in my mind. There were many people in the room for that group therapy session, but I couldn’t hear or really even see anyone while I was engaged in an act you would think is reserved for children and insulting to my age and intelligence… If your ability to be prideful supersedes the ability to be humble, that is.

After I finished this (in my opinion), I felt proud of myself. More proud than I’d ever felt. I’m not exaggerating… I remember being extremely happy during the coloring process and afterwards, telling myself that I would always keep this on my proverbial “refrigerator” as a reminder that I could contribute to something beautiful and elevate something simple, even though I had to be treated under special circumstances and/or restrained (essentially) to figure that out.

After my stay at the hospital I would look at this picture and get all nostalgic about the “good times” at the mental hospital, how I felt I could more freely express myself there than out here in the real world and how I was way more understood then that I was in any present moment. But the thing that brought me joy was starting to become a trigger to depression… so much so that I considered a voluntary stay at any hospital… so much so that I considered attempting suicide again in order to extend that stay. I knew that was bad though, to understate it just a bit, so I put the picture somewhere I thought it couldn’t be found.

So years later when I found this pic the other day after completely forgetting it and the actual lesson associated with it for some time, I was reminded of what I’d learned and was given insight on how it could be applied to my life today because depression and anxiety still try to punch me in the gut today, just to a lesser extent.

Let me elaborate…

There are times when I have expressed myself to people (both when I was in my right mind and when I wasn’t), and because of that I now have limited access to them. They have placed boundaries on me and walls against me, understandably so, and it is their right to do that. Those boundaries and and walls however, unbeknownst to them, feel like the same bounds that were on me at the mental health hospitals. They feel like handcuffs.. and that if I ever dare make the choice to try crossing the boundary line and breaking through those walls I’ll be put in my place, to put it a different way. Just like I stayed inside the lines on that picture, I have to do so in life.

But look at the shades of blue on the butterfly’s wings… Just because those wings are a certain length/width/etc, it doesn’t make it less beautiful or diminish its value, nor does it negate the creature’s ability to fly. I bet if you looked up in the limitless sky you would notice THAT or ANY butterfly for that matter.

We have to see ourselves in that way… as butterflies. Sure there may be limits on where you can go in certain circumstances, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. There might be boundaries and walls against or around you for whatever reason, good or bad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fly upward and onward. When people set limits and labels on you, let them; but REMEMBER to NEVER other people’s limited understanding/compassion dictate or diminish your value or worth. Get help from communities of people who know how to show you who you really are and can enhance your ability to express yourself and stay away from people who put limits on you.

Stay strong, survivors. You are loved.

Helpful resources here: https://yourenotfinished.com/get-help-2/

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Just Some Encouragement…. #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention #EndSuicide

Every time I set out to write for YNF addressing mental health/illness and suicide, I seem to draw a blank, which is weird because it use to be so easy…

A part of me felt like since I didn’t have much support for the task of preventing suicide and addressing mental health matters that I should probably stop and leave the advocacy to the pros… another part of me felt like since I can’t address those things within my circle of friends without it leading to an in-depth, analytical conversation (that can be extremely exhausting) I should just seek help for myself and pray that others are doing the same…

But then I had to be honest with myself.

I got distracted… then I got lazy.. and then I got scared.

Distracted because I started focusing on other people and things that caused me to not take care of myself the way I should and to forget that I needed to cultivate and be part of true community… lazy because I didn’t want to keep writing with the constant reminder that I have been labeled and defined by mental illness and can only connect with people who also have in order to feel some kind of normalcy… scared because I thought that if I addressed it, it would become all I am.

Before I turned 29 (June 16th) I was desperate to fit somewhere, but I didn’t want anyone to define me either. I was hungry for connection, but no one could get too close unless they already were close… I didn’t need to deal with the punishment.. er.. stigma of being a human with faults. We all know how that goes.

Something happened, however, that I’m not sure I can explain properly… but I’ll do my best.

The people who were closest to me started distancing themselves from me. That not only hurt, but solidified my reasons for not establishing true community as I knew I should. I knew from experience that community heals, but I also knew that breakdowns in community would cause me to break down, and for a second it did.

But only for a second.. which is significantly less time than it would normally take for me to deal with perceived and actual hurt, pain, feelings, and emotions.That’s probably because everything that was leading up to my birthday seemed to be preparing me for life, and healing me mentally and emotionally without me even knowing it.

As I said earlier, I was desperate to fit somewhere… at least that’s what I thought… but I was really trying to discover who I was with the hope that that would never change regardless of whether or not I have a depressive episode or anxiety attack and whether or not people decide they want to punish me for that.

But while I was searching for my place in the world I actually discovered my true identity… that neither I or anyone else is defined by suicidal thoughts, mental illness, or ANY illness for that matter… that I needed to accept myself for who I was… who I am… who I was created to be… and so what if I’m unaccepted by some or even most? It’s definitely not all, and It doesn’t mean that I’m not loved, valuable, and cared for. I had to remind myself of that every day and I still do… and I firmly believe that speaking the truth to yourself over and over can and will break the lies that any mental illness can cause you to believe about yourself or others to believe about you.

So if anyone decides they want to label you and define you by what you struggle with, don’t stress over showing them who you really are… just be yourself. If you don’t know that yet, take some time to get help and care for yourself and you will discover who you are and you will realize that your diagnosis is NOT your identity.

Resources: https://yourenotfinished.com/get-help-2/

Much love, survivors.