Weekly Wrap Up – March 03, 2019

“They are scared of women like you. Women with hearts big enough to house suitcases full of pain. Women with laughs so therapeutic they can heal wounds. Women with passion fierce enough to start wildfires. They are scared of what they can’t tame or understand.” -Unknown

I have plenty of ups and downs this week – sometimes it feels like I take three steps forward and then five steps back.

Work has been less stressful. My department has hired a couple new per diem employees so they are picking up the extra shifts and I’m not having to work overtime. Going from 55-60 hours a week to 40 is nice. Although I will miss the extra money in my check! I am thankful for the timing though as my classes start next week.

I was able to get my financial aid approved for school and registered for classes. I’m taking statistics and psych research methods, I’m excited to get started!

I have been feeling significantly lonely the last week. Ever since I stopped using and hanging out with the people I used with I have really isolated myself. I only spend time with my boyfriend and dog and immediately family. The longer I go like this the worse it gets and eventually the thought of people around people causes so much anxiety I can’t get myself to reach out and make connections.

This week, my boyfriend went to see one of his friends and I stayed home. This should not be an issue. I know it is VERY codependent and unhealthy for my to expect him to only spend time with me but I still freak out and get so anxious. I’m jealous that he has friends that he hangs out with and it’s so easy for him. I miss my old friends that I pushed away when I used. I hate feeling abandoned. I know it’s an irrational fear and that my boyfriend can hangout with his friends and is still going to come home at night. But I work myself up so. Much.

More on that later. Off to snuggle the pup and enjoy my night off. Have a great week!

Instant Gratification

Lincoln playing in the leaves last fall (trying to remind myself that it is going to warm up eventually…)

I hope you all like the picture of my boy. There is no real reason behind me choosing this picture today. It was 8 degrees out and Lincoln and I are both getting cabin fever. This picture reminds me of sunny days that will hopefully reappear soon!

Anyways, I wanted to write a bit about instant gratification because it’s on my mind today. What is it about my brain that is constantly giving in to short term fixes/rewards. For example, I am trying to get into shape for my cousins wedding. I know how to lose weight, I have lost weight before but I still eat way too much chocolate and carbs! Then I get annoyed at myself after and feel bad about it because I know the situation could have been avoided.

Drug use is another example of instant gratification that I have consistently engaged in. I never developed positive coping skills and the first time I experienced how drugs took every ounce of pain away, I was hooked. Why would I go to therapy and talk about my problems when I can use heroin forget them all? There are obvious answers to this, but for a very long time my brain was wired to turn to dope to deal with my anxiety and depression and any other emotion I could possibly feel. Cutting/Burning was always the same. I didn’t want to feel emotional pain and hurting myself took it away for that moment.

I am working on this day by day and focusing on my long term goals when my mind starts to wander towards drugs or self-harm.  Fortunately, I know what good coping mechanisms are and am learning to slowly develop and rely on them as time goes on. My impulsivity scares me sometimes, but for today I am okay.

You Are Enough: Mandy Hale

Book Review Disclaimer: These are my thoughts and opinions on books that I read related to addiction and mental health. They are in no way formal book reviews, that’s just the best way for me to describe them. Thank you for reading! If you have any book suggestions, I am always looking for inspiration.

“Sometimes it takes getting pushed to the very edge before you can find your voice and courage to speak out again. Sometimes it takes hitting that rock bottom to realize you’re done descending, and it’s time to rise. Sometimes it takes being told you’re nothing — being made to feel like you’re nothing — to help you see that you are complete.” – Mandy Hale

I came across this book on goodreads.com and the title itself was enough to draw me in. I have never really felt like I was ‘enough’ at anything.. Whether it was grades in school, relationships, friendships, sports, etc. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to pick this one up off the shelf.

This book was a bit of a change of pace for me because everything I’ve been reading lately has been about addiction with some mental illness thrown in but not as prominent. Mandy wrote extensively about her journey with crippling anxiety and depression. She detailed the events that led her to rock bottom, what rock bottom can feel like, and how she climbed her way back.

One thing I appreciate so much is Mandy’s openness when talking about treatment for her depression and anxiety. Although our society has come a long way there is still so much stigma around mental illness and reaching out for help can be very difficult. Mandy attended first a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and then an intensive outpatient program (IOP). For those who are not familiar with this level of care,  PHP is normally where individuals attend group therapy Monday – Friday for anywhere from five to eight hours and usually consists of individual meetings with therapists and psychiatrists. IOP is a step down, in my experience three days per week for three to five hours.

I have participated in multiple IOP programs for my mental illness and PHP programs for addiction so I could relate to Mandy’s anxiety when she first started. Walking into a room full of strangers and having to talk about such sensitive subjects is so difficult. Reading about Mandy’s success and the amazing friendships she made while in PHP and IOP really made my heart full. It also kind of made me want to go back. That may sound weird but when I was in IOP a couple years ago I felt like I could actually relate to the people around me and felt comfortable talking about my illnesses. While I love having the support of my family and friends, sometimes I just need someone to talk to who has been through what I have.

One aspect of the book that initially caught me off guard was the sections where Mandy discussed her religious beliefs. Normally the minute I start reading about religion I stop because I have had a lot of bad experiences and I don’t feel like being pressured to believe anything specific. This was not like that for me. While Mandy did talk about her own beliefs and road to spirituality I feel that I actually benefited from reading about it instead of being turned off like I have previously.

Mandy struggled with feeling like she was not good enough for most of her life. She really made me (and I’m assuming most readers) understand that we are enough. We may not be perfect, but who is. Even though I have this madness in my brain and have a history with addiction that does not mean I am not worthy of life and love.

Deja Vu?

I decided last week that I wanted to return to graduate school and transfer my credits to an online program so that I can stay at my current job but also continue my education. I feel like I’m having deja vu. In the fall of 2017 I decided to enroll in a graduate program that started last year in January 2018. At first I did great but I was also working full time and had to drive 4+ hours to school and eventually got so burnt out that I missed two many classes. I actually ended up relapsing shortly after all of this happened.

I don’t want to get to that point again so I’m trying to take precations and be aware of what I’m putting on my plate. I think having everything online and being able to do my school work at home or work (I work third shift 3 nights a week and am able to do homework) will be ideal for me. The four hour commute was torcher last year, plus being around people I don’t know makes me anxious.

I also am only going to take six credits to start out vereses the twelve I took last year. How I thought it was a good idea to be working full time while attending school full time is beyond me. I get in these stages where I feel invincible and like I can conquer the world. Historically though, it only lasts a few months before I’ve abandoned everything on to the next plan or idea. I’m really trying not to do that this time. I am going to plan out a schedule and try to follow it, as I’m much more productive when I’m organized.

I am suppose to start my online program on March 11, wish me luck!

Therapy

As I mentioned in my weekly wrap up on Sunday, I’m starting therapy again this week. Since I went to rehab in 2016 I have been to many different therapists and participated in multiple intensive outpatient programs (mainly, DBT). I have not been in counseling though for almost a year. I have tried to see a couple different people but I didn’t stick with it because I always felt such negative energy when I was working with these therapists. It’s important for me to be able to have some sort of connection with someone in order to open up and be vulnerable.

I am anxious to start therapy again for a few reasons. Starting completely new with someone means I need to explain my life. I know it’s necessary in order for the therapist to understand me and help but I always leave initial sessions feeling like crap. This often leads to me not wanting to go back, even though I know it will be beneficial. I need to remember that feeling down in therapy is part of the process.

I am also a bit anxious because the therapist I am going to be working with is a man. I have a lot of trauma history and have a very hard time being around men alone (besides my partner and father) let alone opening up to them about my life. I have been able to email back and forth and talk to my new therapist on the phone so I feel a little better than if I were to just walk in without any prior communication.

Sometimes I feel like therapy is pointless. I have tried and failed so many times and never seem to feel any better. I work in the mental health field so I know that therapy works in conjunction with medication and that it is definitely necessary for me in order to process trauma but I am still skeptical.

Weekly Wrap Up – February 17, 2019

Back to work this week after having a week off to visit my partner’s family. As much as I get burnt out at work, I do better when I have a schedule/routine to follow.

I had an appointment this week with a new psychologist that I ended up having to reschedule due to a work conflict. I was really looking forward to it and was actually ready. If I don’t do things when I originally want/plan to I often end up canceling or just not showing up. I work myself up and get way too anxious over this kind of thing. So waiting an extra week to see this therapist is stressing me out.

I think part of my anxiety around the whole therapy situation stems from the fact that I’ve had to switch therapists three times and psychiatrists four times in the last couple years. I have such a hard time opening up to and trusting people so having to start all over again gets beyond frustrating. Another huge deal for me is that this new therapist is a man. That may sound silly but I have some significant trauma and tend to only see female providers. This guy specializes in personality disorders and trauma so I think it will be worth it.

I am contemplating coming up with some sort of list of what my issues are and questions I have before I go so I don’t just answer ‘I’m fine’ to everything. I am really looking to see what he thinks I should be taking for medication and what is actually wrong with me. I will make sure to update everyone Thursday on how it went!

I hope every single one of you have a great week!

Weekly Wrap Up – February 08, 2019

“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn’t one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.”

-Marya Hornbacher, Wasted

What a long week! My boyfriend and I spent three days back and forth to the bank and a used car dealership in order to get him a new work truck. I swear if something can go wrong for me, it will. We bought the truck about two hours from our house and it drove GREAT all the way home. The next morning all these dash lights were flashing and the truck had no power. We took it to a dealer close by to look at and they said it needed $2500 worth of work after we just dropped 12k the day before. UGHHHHHH of course. Then as we are leaving the dealership of course a rock smashes the brand new windshield (yes, that’s the type of luck I have). Now imagine a girl with borderline and bipolar 2 and her short tempered boyfriend trying to stay calm during all of this. What an ordeal!

So we’ve been dealing with what to do about the truck and replacing a window in my car that randomly broke in the cold last week. Hopefully it all gets sorted out soon. Yesterday I attended my cousins funeral who died by suicide last week. This was one of the hardest funerals I’ve been and my heart still hurts. I was very anxious going to the funeral because I have a very hard time in crowds and I knew it would be packed. One of my close friends died by suicide at the same age my sophomore year of college as well so I knew there would be emotions and memories surfacing. I am glad I made it though as I saw a lot of family I haven’t seen in a while. I am really going to focus this year on reaching out to my cousins more instead of only seeing each other at funerals. We need more positivity.

I took a few days off from work this week as yesterday was my boyfriends 30th birthday and we are spending the weekend in Connecticut with his family. Another HUGE trigger for me. I love him and his family so much but I am comfortable at home with my dog (and that’s about it). Plus I have track marks and scars all over me from back when I was using and self-harming and I get self conscious around people I don’t see regularly. I am going to try to relax and have a nice weekend though.

I’ve decided to start adding a weekly summary type of post like this one to my blog. Just the highlights and struggles of my week I guess. Plus one of my favorite quotes I’ve read that week! The one above is from Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. I reread this book for the fifth time (at least) this week. I Love Marya and have read all her books. Madness is my other favorite, I definitely recommend.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Happy New Year!

We miss the sunshine!

I am not normally one to take up a lot of time setting new years resolutions. I HATE failing and I tend to set unrealistic/unattainable goals for myself – you can see how those two things don’t mix well together. This year though I want to reflect a bit on the last year and set some priorities for myself for the upcoming months.

2018 was not my year. I started off the year ambitious, taking on way too much and eventually burned myself out. Life spiraled slowly from there.

I started sinking into one of the worst depressions I’ve had in my lifetime. I do not feel that I am out of it completely yet, but I am definitely getting there. I struggled to stay connected to my support system, my relationship was very rocky, I stopped getting out of bed except to go to work and let my dog out. After having two years clean from drugs and alcohol I relapsed and began using IV heroin again. I lost myself. It was a painful year.

November I detoxed and began taking my psychiatric medications again. It has been about seven weeks now and although I don’t feel that this mix is working I plan to continue taking them until the next time I see my psychiatrist. I tend to start thinking I can handle everything on my own.. I’ll stop taking meds, stop reaching out for help from friends and family, quit counseling, etc. I’m sure you can guess what the end result usually is.

Goals for the upcoming year:

  • Write every day (whether it’s a blog post, journaling, or working on my memoir
  • Continue exercising daily (this definitely helps my mood)
  • Less isolation, more connection
  • Get outside – I have always loved the outdoors (hiking, kayaking, running, swimming) but did not do a whole lot of it over the last year
  • Read 52 books (1 per week at least) and write book reviews/recommendations on my blog if and when they are related to mental health.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I do not want to overwhelm myself with tons of goals so I’m keeping my list short. What are your goals for the new year?? Comment below or send me an email, I would love to connect.

Quick Introduction

Thank you for visiting my blog! I thought I’d write a quick introduction post with a little bit about myself and my plans for this site. My name is Krystal, I’m 27 years old and I live in Vermont, U.S. I have struggled with mental illness and addiction since I was around twelve years old. I have been diagnosed with many disorders over the past fifteen years including generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar 2 disorder, major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Although I have definitely met the diagnostic requirements for each of these disorders, I have found that fixating on my diagnosis isn’t all that helpful anymore. So for the time being I am not putting a label on it.

Writing has always been a passion of mine and a way to cope when I am not doing well. I plan to use this blog to document my journey: the good, the bad and everything in between. I want to start honest conversations about mental health and maybe help someone else who is struggling. I read a lot of nonfiction about mental illness/psychology and will most likely write book recommendations/reviews when I find something especially interesting or helpful.

P.S. – The adorable pitbull pictured above is Lincoln. You will see a lot of him as he is my favorite guy ever and constantly snuggled up next to me.