Staying Inside The Lines… #MHBlog #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention

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


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 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.

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