My initial reason in creating this blog was to help people understand the kind of mental health issues I struggle with, and also inform them of other types of mental health struggles. I wanted to help people understand they are not alone. There are people out there that understand how you feel. And I have been absolutely touched by some of the responses I have gotten from my blogs about some of my own struggles. I am so, so touched by those who have also shared their stories with me. I am truly grateful to hear from other people. I am honored.
It’s been a rough last few weeks for me. I have been struggling with accepting who I am, and accepting my mental health struggles. I know I can’t control the mood swings or the unwanted thoughts. I can only fight them and survive. However, I have been walking a very, very thin line lately. In fact, I survived a suicide attempt recently.
I mentioned in an earlier post about my “happy book”…. let me tell you it has continually saved my life. Just being able to open that up and read what people have told me, or to see the pictures of people who care for me helps. Sadly, it simply wasn’t enough when that depression slump slapped me across the face and forced me down that dark tunnel.
It’s been a struggle for me to balance my moods and what I have to do. We’re at the end of the semester which means stress. I have been so, so lucky to have such a great group of professors who understand my situation. They work with me when they are able to, even if I feel absolutely horrible needing an extension or needing to just chat. I have also been struggling with accepting that I cannot control my emotions. There are some days where being happy just is not going to happen. I’ve been lucky to have some of the support group that I have. They do not question my moods or tell me to just cheer up. They support me.
My therapist and I have recently began looking at mindfulness techniques again. I mentioned this before, but it has been very helpful for me. There are a variety of different exercises you can use to help yourself. The breathing techniques only help me during certain situations, but other times they push me over the edge so I am crying uncontrollably. However, we found one on self-compassion that I want to talk about. Not a lot of us show self-compassion. As my therapist described, we tend to talk to ourselves in ways that would hurt someone else if we spoke to them that way. So why do we hurt ourselves like that? I know I absolutely dislike hurting someone else, but I have no problem telling myself that I’m too fat, I don’t deserve to live, I’m a burden on everyone. If I told that to someone else, I would feel disgusted with myself. So why are we any different? There is an exercise that I was given that helped me consider speaking to myself in a more compassionate way. Granted, this is not a miracle fix. It didn’t help me stop cutting, and it didn’t help me realize I’m not a burden on people. However, it did help me give myself some credit in situations that really are tough. When classes get stressful and I can’t get all of my homework done, I did the best that I can do… I can’t be superwoman and get everything done all at once.
It’s been a sort of eye-opener for me.
Switching subjects, I have also been struggling with trying to appreciate everyone in my life, and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they really do care for me. The “happy book” works, but I go through phases where I feel like I need to actually tell my support group how much they mean to me, or I’m extremely grateful for them. I came across this the other day on Facebook:
Two months ago was the first time I cried during parent/teacher conferences. A mom of a student who I have taught for two years showed up at my table with a list of her daughter’s teachers. Each one had “yes” or “no” written next to it. My name had a “yes” next to it, so she proceeded to explain to me the reason for her daughter’s extended absence. Her daughter- a friendly, intelligent, beautiful, driven, young woman- not only planned to commit suicide, but was in the act of doing so when the police got a Safe 2 Tell report, broke in, and stopped her. She had deleted her social media accounts and left goodbye letters; she was ready to leave the world. As her mom sat across from me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. Feeling helpless, I asked if I could write my student a letter to be delivered to her at the hospital; she said her daughter would love that. My student got the letter; her mom said that her daughter cried, turned to her mom and said, “How could somebody say such nice things about me? I didn’t think anybody would miss me if I was gone.” It made me realize that I was way too close to losing another student to suicide. I spent the next 2 months writing cards to every one of my students- over 100 of them- telling each one what is special and unique about them. Suicide is growing to be more and more common, and I can’t help but to think that it’s a direct result of the pressure we put on these kids- to be successful, to fit in, to be the best in their class/sport/etc. We need to remember that each human being is unique, and that is what makes them special. Instead of trying to change it, we need to embrace it, because together, we can make a difference, and we can save lives! #suicideawareness
It’s a bit outdated, but reading this story really touched me. The girl’s response to getting that letter from her teacher really touched me, and I really connected with her response. I am always telling myself no one would miss me, no one would care…. and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes. I am amazed every day to read a story or read a comment on my blog and realize I AM NOT ALONE. Others feel the same way.
I decided to borrow this teacher’s idea for my own use. As my own little project, aside from the “happy book,” I’m going to write a letter to people who have supported me. I suppose I tend to be a more emotional person, and I am constantly thanking everyone around me. Ok, so I’m very emotional. And I tend to latch onto important memories like I’m going to lose them. But I’m surprised every morning I wake up that I made it. And there are people in my life that have helped me. I’m sure most of them has seen me coming or saw my text and thought, “oh goodness, not her again!” (I’d like to think that isn’t the case, but I’m a pretty big burden). So, I’ve thought about how I can thank them. And this is the perfect idea. People don’t hear enough that they’re cared for. I hear it so little I had to make a “happy book” to remember people care.
And you never know. Maybe hearing someone cares is the one thing that will save that person.