Tag Archives: addiction

Today

Hello everyone! It has been far too long since I have updated my blog, and for that I apologize! I hope that all of you are having a good day today, and if you are not- hold fast, balance will come.

I wanted to use today’s post to let everyone know where I am now. This is also a way for me to see how far I’ve come since I started this blog. When I first started this blog I was still in chaos, I would say about 70% of the time. Even if the people around me couldn’t see it, I was fighting for my life inside much of the time. Yes, I still have these days, but they are far less frequent now!

When I started this blog I was still very lost, confused about who I was and what I really wanted. I attended three different colleges, for three different studies (and almost finished two of them!) but realized I was following dreams that weren’t really mine. My health wasn’t where I wanted it most days, I was still relying on others to make me feel good about myself and attempting to come to terms with the fact I have no biological family to speak of (save for my little sister-who is a freaking warrior herself).

In the past year I have found some amazing doctors who have diagnosed my medical issues and therefore, have given me the keys to unlock proper treatments! I have POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) which is a form of dysautonomia (where the autonomic nervous system doesn’t work the way it should) can can result in horrific symptoms ranging from severe fatigue to fainting upon standing up. This is a great website on POTS http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org/page.php?ID=30 I have also come to terms with the fact that I have chronic thyroid disease and asthma. The great news again is, I have found some kick ass doctors who know their stuff and have great bedside manners.

In the past year, I have completed my first Tough Mudder! If you’re not sure what this amazing event is, it is (approximately) a 10 mile, muddy obstacle course that puts your body and your mind to the ultimate test. I freaking passed it with flying colours! Well….I didn’t finish with the fastest, but I finished! I had an amazing team that represented “I am adaptive” which is a non profit that works to empower individuals with disabilities of many kinds. They are heroes of mine! If you’d like to read more about them, you can find them here: http://www.iamadaptive.com/ 

In the past year I have not attended college or university. Instead I have worked on me. I have been doing some hardcore honest introspection to find out what I really want to do. I have it narrowed down to two paths. My first choice is to finish my Bachelor of Arts (or science) in psychology, move on to my Masters and then my PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) or my PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). The PsyD is more attractive to me, but I may have a much easier time having access to a PhD in my area. The second path (but not my first choice) is medical school. I know…I know…I’m 27. I have issues, I get it. But so far every time I’ve been told I can’t do something, I proved the haters wrong. I have always been interested in the medical field, I’ve read medical books, studies and papers my whole life…it’s been an obsession. I just love to learn! But, I am not sure I am able to start an intensive 8 year (minimum) program. My little boy was diagnosed with autism earlier this year and so I may not have time to fit medical school into his schedule of therapies and school. Anyway! Those are my two loves. From there, my goal is to open my own wellness facility that incorporates highly specialized treatments/therapies and empowering strategies for anyone with a mental illness, eating disorder, self harm battle or addiction. It’s obviously still being planned, but so far I have sketches, brainstorming for each section of the facility and even some bylaws and policies written down. I am a dreamer, and I am excited! I have learned first hand how ugly, jacked up and unethical the psychiatric system is…and I don’t give a shit what anyone says: I am going to do something to help fix it. Even if I never contribute to fixing the entire thing in my lifetime, I want to pave the way. Nothing can stay out of balance forever. This is a beautiful truth Taoism has taught me.

In the past year I have done an insane amount of spiritual growth. I have come to learn a lot of things, including that I can never know everything…and that is a liberating feeling. I follow a mainly Taoist path that has taught me to seek balance, to look within myself for strength, wisdom, healing, but also to look into the Universe for aid. Again…balance. I’ve been meditating and praying much more often, which has helped my health in all areas greatly. It feels so good to know who I am, what I am, what I am capable of and where I am going! I have finally found a good balance of knowing where I’ve come from (past), where I am right now (and doing everything I can to remain in the present, enjoy the present and make the present the best I can) but to also have a clear vision of what I want for my (and my family’s future).

In the past year I have legally changed my first, middle and last name. I did this because I realized something as simple as a name was holding me back. I didn’t want to carry a name two people who didn’t love or care for me properly gave me. The name didn’t suit who I was either…but this one does. 🙂

In the past year my husband has become a Realtor and Real Estate Agent, which has been pretty exciting! He has always been great with rehabbing broken down properties and selling them, now he can go further and help families find homes that suit their needs and wants, and also help them sell properties that aren’t right for them anymore. I am very proud of him.

In the past year I have busted my ass to pay off most of my medical debt…the end is in sight! In the process, I discovered my credit was WAY better than I thought. Apparently my hard work is finally paying off…because I just bought my very first home for our family! We are in a much safer, nicer and happier neighbourhood in a home that gives us more room. Plus we have a yard for our children…….and our new addition (an already huge Great Dane named Valkyrie- or Val for short).

In the past year I have learned that keeping my circle of loved ones small, I have less drama and pain in my life. I have a handful of friends I consider to be family and I love it this way. They make up a very strong, healthy and positive support net and I’m extremely thankful to have them in my life.

In the past year I gained my 5th year of clean time from hard drugs! I have also gained my 4 years clean from self harm…holy crap!

Overall, in the past year I have shed so much negativity, sadness, pain, false ideals (about harmful people who used to be in my life and about myself)….I have gone through a lot of intense “burning” periods that hurt like hell…but all the while I burned, I had vision and I had the strength and mental fortitude to hold fast. As these things that didn’t belong burned off, I rose higher and higher….and I am still rising. Just as you will so long as you don’t give up.

Where are you right now? What have your joys and triumphs been? What have your struggles and pains been? How have you been soldiering on? What coping skills help you? Do you have a strong support net? I want to know, please feel free to leave your stories below 🙂 We are all warriors and far stronger than we often give ourselves credit for. And you are never alone. I love you all!

Love and light, Dandi.

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The Abyss.

Tonight I want to talk about the Abyss. I know when I started this blog I briefly discussed what the Abyss is to me. It is the deepest level of my system. It is darkness. It is fear. It is anger and horrible memories. It is terrifying and can be very very unstable. I want to talk about this place because I am there as we speak.

I thought about writing this for a few weeks, but wanted to spare my readers from my current struggles…until I realized how silly that is. This is a recovery blog. This is not a sugar coated, everything is rainbows and unicorns blog. This is down and dirty, this is how it fucking is blog. This is a, don’t give up…keep fighting blog. I am human, just like each and every one of you who read this. Sure I have a lot of clean time under my belt for drugs and for self harm. Sure, I’ve made a lot of progress in therapy…and sure, a few of my alters and I have integrated. But I am still human and I am still recovering from horrible things that had been done to me repeatedly. Nasty torturous things most people don’t even acknowledge are real because their own lives have been so positive. Things you see in horror movies and documentaries. This is my life. I have great ups and horrific downs. The downs don’t occur nearly as often as they used to, but they still come around. I am there as we speak.

I want this post to be a raw look into a breakdown. I want this post to really help others understand the pain we survivors go through, the battle we fight to survive. I also want this post to speak to those of you who are currently in your own version of the Abyss and persuade you to keep going.

The reason I am in the darkness right now is because an alter who has been with me since I was about 4 years old and holds some of my most traumatic memories has decided to break her silence. Suddenly, after about four months of stability, happiness, confidence and silence within my mind…I hear voices again. I feel a war of emotions within me. I am anxious, angry and deeply hurt. This alter has shown me things that were done to me that I guess she feels I am ready to deal with. Human nature is to avoid the harder, more dark path right? I know I just posted about this recently in my blog post about taking the dark road. Well, now I am fighting against human nature to continue on this dark, horrible road…because it is the one that will result in growth and strength. I know I am more than capable of surviving this and I know what is on the other side is well worth the pain. This is just very hard. I am feeling the same fear and anger I felt then as a small child, being used and abused, neglected and tormented. I feel the intense rage that is too much for my small human body to bare. I must get it out…but in a healthy, safe way. I have been drawing a lot more, painting and writing as well. I told my therapist how bad I feel and we have gone from one appointment every other week back to two meetings a week. At first I was angry and disappointed in myself for this, but truly, this shows my strength. Only a year ago I would not have called him. I would not have told him I needed more help. But this time I did. There is nothing wrong with admitting you are struggling. Asking for help does not denote weakness, in fact, it shows what a badass you are. Because it’s downright terrifying to ask for help. If you are struggling with telling the truth about your pain, please know you have every right to open your mouth…and you are showing your strength.

I have been forcing myself to cry. Allowing myself to get pissed off and journal my angry thoughts and feelings. It can be very scary to see such anger come out of you, but I promise you, it is vital for your health and survival. Get angry. Allow yourself to feel that rage for what was done to you against your will. All I ask is that you make sure you express it in safe ways. Journal, free write, draw, paint, meditate, pray, do yoga, play hockey, punch the shit out of a pillow, write a story and kill off a character (sounds weird, but it helps), hold your loved ones close, call a friend, call your therapist, attend a support group, dance, listen to HAPPY (never ever ever ever EVER sad) music, play an instrument, play with a pet, go for a walk…do something. Writing a letter to your abusers can be very cathartic. Or write to your addiction. Be completely honest. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of who might see it because after you’re done I want you to rip it up in tiny pieces and put it in something safe to burn (like a fire pit) and light that mother fucker on fire. Watch it burn. Realize that holding in that anger will eventually be the end of you in one way, shape or form. Let it go. Let it out and tell it to get the hell away from you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this one before…I bought a nice metal box with a combination code on it. It had a ton of makeup in it. I threw out all of the makeup and filled the box with things that made me happy, and things that reminded me of better times, things worth fighting for. I called this my emergency box. I still have it today. I highly suggest everyone make one and use it before you get as far down as I am now. It can really help you to slow down, calm down and put things into perspective. If it doesn’t help, move onto other coping skills that work for you.

I know it hurts to be where I am now, and where I’m sure some of you are, or have been. I know it feels as if someone is cutting into you with a scalpel, hitting you upside the head, all sorts of horrible things. But I swear to you, it will pass if you fight. Refuse to let this be your end. I know as I write this I am feeling so many negative, scary things. Some of these feelings are mine, others are feelings of my alters who have not let dealt with their abuse. Yes, I won’t lie, I am struggling with urges to self harm. I am dealing with a lot…but I absolutely refuse to lay down and die here. Hell no. This is my life damnit and I am going to fight for it. I will get past this…this is just another burning in the process of rising from the ashes. The pain is immense, but as we speak I am becoming stronger, wiser and more enlightened. I am removing what doesn’t belong, confronting my demons and growing.

Don’t give up. You are not alone. Help is always okay to look for and it is only a text, phone call, email or message away. There is always help. Those voices of doubt in your mind will try to convince you this is not true…but they are liars. Don’t listen. You’re a warrior! You CAN do this.

I love all of you, Dandi

Suicide hotline: 1(800)273-8255

http://www.fortrefuge.com

http://www.pandys.org

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.stepchat.com

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline

Take the dark road

Many times in each of our lives we come to a fork in the road. We are usually faced with many options, or paths. Some are easy and appear sunny while others, even from a distance look terrifying and difficult to say the least. When you get to this place stop. Just…stop. At this point you need to realize something very important that will help you heal, grow and make your life what you want it to be. Don’t take the easy road. Everything about that path will lie to you, seduce you, comfort you. That easy road will look so enticing, but it will do you no good.

I strongly believe in Carl Jung’s works. He was absolutely brilliant. Currently I am reading a book on his work and I came across a section that spoke to me more deeply than what preceded it. It gave me chills. “When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.” ~Carl Jung.

Seriously…brilliant. Brilliant and true. I can attest to this personally. I have lost count of how many times in my past I tried to take the easy route and ended up in a situation far more horrible than the last. I hadn’t learned anything, I hadn’t grown, I hadn’t healed…in fact I had regressed, I had my scars ripped open and deepened. The bleeding began and it was at times, more than I could bear. I reached out to a few friends and to my therapist. Even more so…I looked inside. I was afraid of the most difficult path. The path that went straight into my mind, soul and very being. I was terrified of the darkness and tournament deep within me. There were so many things about me, my thoughts and my memories that left me paralyzed in fear.

I realized that introspection into my own personal abyss that was the network of my mind was the path that would set me free. This was when my true “burnings” as a Phoenix began. I plunged into the blackness, blind at first. I hit rock bottom and everything was silent. I felt disoriented, I felt the scary floating feeling of dissociation take over my body. Derealization and depersonalization attempted to take over, however, I managed to stay somewhat in control. I remained there for a while and began to pay attention to the darkness. Suddenly visions came, voices bombarded me, smells and even tastes came. I saw myself as a small child…alone, afraid, abused. I saw and heard the maltreatment, the process of my early abusers welding onto me the traits and ideals they wanted me to believe were me and my own. I realized that how I acted now and what I believed now wasn’t me at all. I wasn’t a scared, depressed, no-self esteem girl desperate to never be alone. Those were characteristics others had infused in my early personality to keep me weak…to keep me a victim, alone and afraid.

I came to realize the ugly truths about my personality that I had been running from. 1.) I believed my self worth was nothing. 2.) I believed that I deserved to be hurt, abused and isolated. 3.) I was terrified of abandonment.

It was hard to seek these truths out…the journey was dark and painful, but once I arrived I erupted in flames of strength, knowledge and hope. I began my ascent from the abyss and as I continued to rise I peeled the personality flaws, the lies, the untrue characteristics that were hiding who I was from my being. I ripped and scratched and fought. I burned and it was glorious…each burning was painful, yet beautiful.

I have been going through these burning processes for a few years now, but now I have completely risen from the ashes and I now work towards the skies. I don’t see limits anymore. I don’t see a scared, insecure, ugly, broken girl anymore. I see a confident, beautiful young woman with dreams, passions, strengths…I see the bubbly, positive, incredibly happy soul I truly am. You can be who you are too. You don’t have to hide anymore love. You don’t. Your past wasn’t your fault. You were a victim…but now it is time to shed that victim skin, plunge into the darkness and begin your own process of burning off what should not be there. The darkness can be scary, but only if you allow yourself to become lost. Continue working towards the light…when you’re lost look for lanterns. These can be helpful friends, family or therapists who truly understand and love you…they can be friendly spirits, they can be the Divine. They can be alters (other personalities…like I have). Rise Phoenix….rise to your rightful place in this universe.

“In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn.” ~Octavia E. Butler.

Before I die

Yet again I would like to begin this post by apologizing for the insanely long period between my last post and this one. I have been experiencing some slight issues with WordPress during my login and then this past weekend our house decided it wanted to attempt burning to the ground. We were very fortunate, I was home with my kids and I was able to get everyone out quickly and notify the fire department. They arrived swiftly and put the fire out. Hopefully I can get on a much better and more consistent writing schedule! Thank you very much for your patience.

 

Today I want to talk about something that wrenches my gut. I heard a song on the radio today driving back to the hotel from my eye appointment. I don’t usually listen to this type of music or this band, but the song “If I die young” by The band perry came on. At first I thought: Yeah okay, whatever. But I kept listening out of laziness. It got to the part where the lyrics say: “Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin”. Dude…I broke down in tears. I mean, I was full on sobbing. I would be a billionaire if I had a dollar for everytime someone told me to shut my mouth or stop crying because they had no interest in what I needed to convey. Especially when I was attempting to tell someone I needed help and didn’t want to die by my own hand. I would be drowning in money if I had a dollar for everytime I told someone I had a plan to not be around tomorrow and my voice fell on deaf ears.

 

I know I am not alone in this. I am not alone at all. I know many families who have lost someone from suicide said afterwards they wished they had listened. Sometimes they weren’t even aware that person was in such misery. It is a very tragic thing, speaking but not being heard…or believing that you don’t even have the right to speak. It is heartbreaking how many people could have been saved if someone listened. I want to be heard and listened to before I die, and I want that for you too.

 

Don’t ever stop opening your mouth. Talk! Tell your story till you’re blue in the face. Don’t shut up. Don’t whisper. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re strong enough in your recovery that you can…put your name on your story! Don’t hide! If someone doesn’t want to hear what you have to say that is their damn problem, not yours! Don’t censor yourself to make others happy…because then you never will. In this world you truly have to be your own advocate. I wish I could say more people unconditionally want to be there for others and help them, but unfortunately you won’t always have someone like that. It can be very hard and scary for a while, realizing that you have a right to speak up and exercising that right…but I promise you that once you start doing it, it gets much easier. It even begins to feel very good.

 

Another misconception that was planted into my head at an early age was that if I spoke my mind, needs or wants I was being selfish. If I advocated for myself I was a self-absorbed bitch. Well I am here to wipe that lie out of your head! That is one of the biggest pieces of bullshit I have ever heard of in my life. Every human being deserves to voice their beliefs and especially their needs and wants. YOU have every right to voice these things. Realizing this will set you free my friends.

 

I want to share with all of you a recent experience of mine that pertains to this very topic. I have been in the process of prosecuting one of my most brutal and devastating abusers. It is still not over but I am hanging in there. It makes me a little nervous sometimes that this person knows I have opened my mouth about what he did to me, but even more so it makes me feel stronger. I have finally taken some control back and he can’t hurt me anymore. I hope that he can’t hurt anyone ever again and I also hope that this is an example to many people how you can and can’t treat another human being. Even more so I hope that it gives other survivors that extra push they need to report. I know it is scary. I know you will have a million and one worries and concerns about reporting and prosecuting…but I promise you in most cases it will only help you grow, become stronger and take control back. No matter what please remember that you are not alone. I feel I can repeat that sentence ten times a day, every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of hearing it. Every time those words come out of my mouth or from my fingers on the keyboard I feel a deep sense of relief and happiness overwhelm me. I know how powerful that sentence is. You are not alone.

 

No matter what…never shut your mouth. Keep telling your story. Keep conveying what you need and want. There are people who want to help. You don’t have to die for people to listen.

 

A little quote that helps me everytime I read it: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott.

Zero tolerance taken too far.

Zero tolerance taken too far

 

Many schools and places of business have zero tolerance policies on things like weapons, drug and alcohol use and sexual harassment. Most of the time these policies are great and protect people from getting hurt. Have you ever wondered if any of these zero tolerance policies had any drawbacks or flaws? I admit I haven’t really thought about that until now. Just last week a friend of mine’s daughter was put in a very scary situation, but she remained strong, loving and brave. Another student, a friend of hers who is battling against self-harm had brought a razor to school and was using it on himself. Adrionna talked with him, urging him that this was not the way to cope and she took the razor from him. Immediately after she disposed of the razor in the trash. The next day at school Adrionna went to her guidance counselor and told the story of what happened with her friend. She was worried that if she didn’t come forward her friend may harm himself again or worse.

 

What do you think happened after this brave girl took an extra step to protect her friend? I thought that she would have been congratulated and that her friend would receive immediate help, but that is exactly opposite of what the school did. Adrionna was suspended from school and a hearing was held today March 20th, 2014 to determine if she would be expelled from Bayside Middle school. After the hearing today Adrionna’s mother was told that her suspension would end. Despite Adrionna being reinstated at school the school board told her she was wrong in her actions and would barely let her speak. I am more than appalled at her school’s policy and their actions towards a hero. It takes guts to speak up for what is right and even more to help someone in a scary situation. So often in our society the “standerby effect” takes place, where someone witnesses something bad happening but does nothing to help because they think: this isn’t my problem, someone else will help. This is a illogical and negligent way to think and because of it many people are assaulted, robbed and even killed because everyone around failed to act. Adrionna is nothing short of a hero and this world needs more people like her.

 

If you would like to help Adrionna and would like to show the Virginia Beach school system they need to change their flawed policies please write to: mike.mcgee@vbschools.com and tell her school how you feel about all of this. It doesn’t matter if you live in Virginia or not, I am certain her school is not the only school with flawed policies. Please protect Adrionna and all other students! If you would like to read more on her story you can read it many places now!!! Here are just a few links:

http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2014/03/20/us-girl-says-she-was-suspended-for-stopping-cutter

 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/20/va-middle-schooler-suspended-confiscating-razor-se/#.Uysgpz9E2cg.facebook

 

http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2014/03/20/Virginia-girl-suspended-for-taking-self-harming-classmates-razor/3851395334419/?spt=su

 

http://wavy.com/2014/03/19/student-suspended-for-taking-razor-from-self-harming-classmate/

 

If Adrionna’s story is not enough to convince you that this is a national problem please check this link out: http://famous101.com/famous-cases-of-zero-tolerance-in-schools-failing-miserably

 

I love Adrionna and her family very much, they have been there for me in some of the darkest times of my life and I hope that we can all be there for her and her family now! Please let Adrionna be an example of what to do in a situation like this. If you ever see or hear of someone who is in this much pain that they are struggling with self-harm please don’t look away. Please help them immediately! I hope and pray that the boy Adrionna helped is now receiving the care and help he needs to overcome this horrible assailant called self-harm, and if you are reading-you can do this! You are not alone, you are strong and wonderful and you deserve good things. There are many people who can relate to you and who will help you through the healing journey. Here are some resources to help anyone who is battling self-harm:

 

http://twloha.com/

http://www.fortrefuge.com/

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-harm/#.Uyua6_ldWSo

http://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Facts—Information/Self-harm/Self-harm

http://www.selfinjury.com/

http://www.stepchat.com/

 

The last link, stepchat is a wonderful site where you can attend many different 12 step meetings online. One of my favorites is SMA, this is a 12 step program that helps people who self-harm.

 

Stay strong warriors and warrioresses! I love each and every one of you and we will heal a little more everyday as long as we never give up the fight.

I am valuable and you are too!

Ever since I took a sensual/sexual interest in other people (I’m pansexual, I don’t pay attention to gender) I had a terrible habit of getting into a relationship and as soon as it ended, get into a new one. Many people said extremely hurtful things to me and about me. The most common was “what a slut”. It’s funny…most of these relationships never entailed sex. I did this until my son’s father and I split up. I knew it was a problem, but I literally could not stop myself. After my daughter’s father made it clear that our relationship was fake when we found out I was pregnant I realized that I could no longer run from this problem. Facing it was one of the scariest and most anxiety-provoking issues I’ve faced yet.

 

I thought, I bounced my feelings off of two very close friends of mine, prayed, thought some more, journaled, cried, had panic attacks, got angry and broke down within the walls of my therapist’s office. I finally came to the realization that this “relationship addiction” boiled down to three deep seated issues.

 

1.) I had a deep intense fear of abandonment. Growing up I didn’t have two parents who loved and cared for me, I had no stability and my needs were rarely met. I learned growing up that if you wanted a sliver of chance that someone would stay in my life and care for me is to give them everything they ask for. I was terrified to be alone.

 

2.) My self worth was non-existent. I was taught growing up that I was a complete waste of time, space and effort. I did not deserve love, affection, care…I did not deserve anything but to be ignored, beaten, abused and put down. I was supposed to serve without any hope of reciprocation. Because of this I based my happiness off of my current partner.

 

3.) I only deserved abusive, narcissistic assholes. This one plays off of number two. Because I believed all I deserved was shit, all I got was shit.

 

One thing that I want to point out, because I know for a fact I am not the only person that has had this problem. You should never in any circumstance base your happiness and wellbeing off of another person. Even if that person treats you well, loves and cares for you…this is deadly. If that person gets sick, passes away, begins to fall into depression, addiction, etc…you are in huge trouble. To make matters worse, you will always have to live with the inner dialogue that is often demeaning and dangerous. Please…whatever you do, stop living for other people. This is okay in the very very beginning (in my opinion) if you are suicidal. If you need, for a VERY short time, someone else to stay on this earth for, then okay. Once you are out of crisis mode you gotta stop that. I know it is extremely hard and paralyzingly scary, but I am living proof that it is possible. Once you start living for you, loving you, respecting you every aspect of your life will improve drastically.

 

Fear of abandonment. Yes, this is another very difficult hurdle, but overcoming it is possible. One of my beliefs is that if you want something bad enough and you don’t give up when things get hard, you will get there. Perseverance and a positive attitude will get you anywhere.When you start working on loving and respecting yourself you will start weeding toxic people out of your life and surrounding yourself with people who put positivity back into your life. You also begin to realize that even out of a relationship you are special and strong. You no longer require another person to hold you together. A really great way one of my dear friends described it was: “Basing your happiness and self worth on another is a huge burden to bear”. Even if you don’t mean it that way, my friend is completely correct. It is a massive burden to be someone’s only source of happiness. I have personally seen people fall apart over the burden and I have personally broken down due to the same burden a loved one placed on me.

 

Changing how I felt about myself was the key to fixing these issues. My dear friend suggested that I write up affirmation cards. At first I put it off, scared at the idea. Looking at myself in the mirror used to make me physically ill. After a while I listened to her and I will forever be grateful. I wrote on little notecards things like: “I deserve happiness” and “I don’t need a partner to be happy and whole” and “I am beautiful”. I ended up making upwards of twenty. I forced myself to go into the bathroom and receipt each card OUT LOUD while looking at my reflection. It truly was painful at first. I felt embarrassed, like I didn’t deserve to be saying such good things about myself. Pretty soon though, everything changed. I started believing every word that I spoke and I still do. Remember when your abusers told you horrible things about you? They pounded them into your head every single chance they got? You started believing it because it was all you were hearing. It works the same way with positive change. Flood your mind with positivity, happiness and THE TRUTH. You are beautiful, worthy, strong and capable. You are of sound mind and deserve the best! Don’t settle for jerks, don’t settle for broken and tore down. Seek out your value and don’t let anyone take it from you again.

 

My best relationship advice I can give anyone is take time to heal and “analyze” a failed relationship. Don’t obsess about it, but analyze the red flags you ignored (or didn’t see), the needs and wants you weren’t getting met, the things you could have done differently. Time is your friend. TIme will not only help you heal, but it will help you see things clearer and better yourself for next time. Make a list of what you need and want in a relationship and the things you consider a deal breaker. Once you have some time being by yourself (and focusing on loving and building yourself up) very slowly ease into dating. Do not get physical with them, don’t make promises, don’t get too close too fast. Rushing into anything is almost always not a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times I was blinded by “love adrenaline” and thought I knew the person. Yeah, I thought I knew them and the next thing I knew I was being abused and thrown out like trash. I have also learned that taking your time can make things that much more enjoyable and exciting.

 

One more thing I want to share, that will hopefully very clearly demonstrate how I have changed concerning relationships. In the past when (especially a man) would approach me about being physical with them I would shut down. Now? I make sure that person knows exactly how I feel about their stupid and arrogant idea. I don’t let people even talk to me that way anymore. I deserve respect and if you can’t give that to me, you get the Hell out of my life. Just because a man or woman says they want you, doesn’t mean they want you. They may just want to use you. Not always, but a lot of the time. If you don’t take the time to get to know each other…love each other, it will just be using. You deserve good things, don’t settle for crap.

 

 

 

Why we need coping skills

Effective coping mechanisms are very important to have and implement every day. In my life they have helped reduce stress and reduce the probability of a breakdown or panic attack. They have also helped me come back down from a full-blown crisis. There are millions of ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings and situations. Unfortunately some methods of coping are not only ineffective, but deadly. My go-to coping skills for the majority of my life (before getting on my healing path) were self-injury, writing, drawing (and for a few years) abusing drugs. Two of those were great. They were positive, effective and did not take away from the quality of my life. Two of those were very dangerous and at times nearly fatal.

 

One important thing to know about coping skills is to never rely on one. Branch out, brainstorm, look them up online, talking to other people. It is very good to make a list of as many as you can and have several copies of the list around the house. If you can, have one at work too! Many times I find myself in a position where I can’t use a coping skill I often rely on or suddenly, for that particular situation the usuals don’t work.

 

During one of my many hospitalizations all of my art and writing supplies were taken from me. The nurses said they were doing this to keep me safe from myself. Of course, I flipped the Hell out. Writing my stories and drawing are my strongest, most effective coping skills. I also don’t respond well to being controlled by anyone. I got very upset and I shut down. I ended up harming myself that night. The next day my doctor had the occupational therapist come to the unit and speak with me. Both the doctor and the OT disagreed with the unit nurses about taking the tools necessary for me to vent, cope and move on.

 

The occupational therapist gave me several sheets of printer paper and a blue crayon. (I still have these sheets of paper). She told me if I could come up with 50-100 better ways to cope with my feelings than self-harm they would give me all of my art/writing supplies back. I came up with over 300. This exercise not only helped me earn back my things, but it taught me a very valuable lesson. There are millions of other ways to cope than the ways you are used to.

 

Not all coping skills help every person. Not every person benefits from drawing like I do just like I don’t benefit from running (as a coping skill) as others do. It is good to keep them in mind though. Like I said earlier, for one reason or another sometimes you may find yourself in a position where you need to try others.

 

Just off the top of my head, here is a great list of coping skills I use.

 

  1. Drawing

  2. Painting

  3. Creative writing

  4. Journaling

  5. Writing an angry letter then disposing of it in one way or another (Grace also talked about this in her blog for me)

  6. Crying

  7. Screaming

  8. Venting to another person (but don’t turn it into obsessing about the problem)

  9. Watching a funny or calming movie or television show

  10. Listening to music (do watch out though for the effect sad music can have…please be very careful with this. Sad music is great, but it is also very powerful. It actually aided me in relapsing a few times).

  11. Meditation

  12. Praying to your higher power

  13. Holding and petting an animal

  14. Calling your therapist. (This can also be a great exercise in overcoming feelings of inadequacy. If you are in an emotional crisis you deserve to talk to someone and if you have a good therapist they won’t mind you are calling. And if they do…you may want to look into firing them and getting a good one)

  15. Exercise (swimming, fencing, football, hockey, running, martial arts, etc)

  16. Tai Chi (OMG this is a fav of mine. One psychiatric hospital-the Veterans Affairs psych unit in Battle Creek, Michigan offered this for us several times a week)

  17. Playing an instrument-this includes singing!

  18. Writing lyrics

  19. Cooking or baking

  20. Eating. (Again, be careful you aren’t overeating. Overeating and undereating are not positive. Both of them can harm you physically as well as emotionally, but if you are hungry…feed your body. If you are not well nourished you are in no shape to be fighting emotionally. You DESERVE to eat.)

  21. Sleeping. (yet another function of our body that we need. If you are tired, make sure you get some sleep.)

  22. Laugh. (Seriously…look up funny stuff. I do this almost every day. Look up jokes, look up funny pictures…something to make you laugh your ass off.)

  23. Positive affirmations (especially in the mirror. Look at your reflection and reciete these positive statements OUT LOUD. They do help very much as long as you do them very often. The more you hear yourself say them while looking at yourself, the more you believe them)

  24. Go to church (whatever form suits you whether it’s a Christian church or a Buddhist temple. If it works for you and helps you get closer to your higher power do it).

  25. Read spiritual material

  26. Play a game

  27. Go to a 12 step or support meeting of some kind (This has literally saved my life more times than I can count. There are online meetings if you absolutely can’t leave your house at http://www.stepchat.com/ )

  28. Go to a meeting or gathering (www.meetup.com offers some great ones in many different areas and usually your local library and recreational centers have them as well)

  29. Color in a coloring book. (For me this is very similar to playing with a zen garden. It helps me view life a little simpler. It often reduces my anxiety a great deal. It is also wonderful if you have DID and have “littles” **littles are child alters**)

  30. Self soothe. (Engage in activities that appeal to your senses)

You are wonderful and you deserve to feel good and love yourself. I know it’s not easy and that it can take years to believe…but it is okay to love yourself. This is not selfish or wrong. Loving yourself is the key to having a happy, healthy and successful life. If you love yourself then you can start dressing the way you want to, asserting yourself, not settling, expressing yourself the way you want to and so much more. Sometimes I still have days where I struggle with loving myself, but overall I am doing 300 times better than I was just two years ago. I can tell you that the quality of my life has gone from: fuck this bullshit to I can’t wait to experience more. Be gentle with yourself and realize this stuff takes time and that is okay! You didn’t fall into this blackhole of crap in a night (it’s usually a process of things spiraling)…you aren’t going to heal overnight. Try to remember that everyday, every hour, every minute you are making progress so long as you don’t give up.

 

I hope these suggestions helped! If not, that’s okay! There are SO many more out there. Here are some great websites: http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/DiscoverIt/Articles/Pages/99-Coping-Skills.aspx

http://awarenessadventures.blogspot.com/2013/03/100-coping-skills.html

http://www.suzannewelstead.com/resources/SafeCopingSkills.pdf

 

What are some of your coping skills? Do you have any inspirational stories on how implementing your coping skills saved your life? Feel free to share!

 

 

 

Three years.

So the results from the poll had a post on Dissociative identity disorder, addiction and coping mechanisms all tied with two votes each. I decided, since I completely forgot in October to write a little about the milestone I have reached! October 2013 was my three years clean from drugs! I can’t believe that it has been three years and two months now. Looking back over these years it’s truly hard to wrap my mind around everything I have been through and all I have learned. I have done more healing in these last three years (especially the last year and a half) than I have in my entire 26 years of life.

 

I’ve experienced, suffered through, and at times enjoyed so much through my 26 years that it’s really difficult for me to feel I’ve only been here 26 years. Sometimes when I’m tired and/or stressed my alters and I truly wonder if we have really been here much longer. It feels as if I have lived ten full lives already. It’s hard to explain, at least I think, but I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

 

I come from a family of drug addicts, alcoholics, wife-beaters, narcissists, child-abusers, and all sorts of weird dysfunctional stuff. I would say “awww dysfunction can’t be spelled without fun” but that is not the case with my biological family, nor has it ever. My blood family (the ones I have met) are mostly screwed up, sick individuals. I’m sorry if any of you ever track this blog down and read it…this is the truth and you no longer scare me enough to keep my mouth shut. If you have a problem with me opening my mouth to speak the truth, you should have thought about that before you beat, harassed, manipulated, isolated, abused, neglected and molested me. You know who you are. I’m not afraid of you. Anyway….

 

Sadly, addiction does run in the blood. I wish I could say this is some silly fantasy that us addicts make up to put the blame on something, but it is true. I did a little reading into the factors that play a role in a person having addiction problems (no matter what the addiction is to) and it’s a lot more complex than I used to believe. Yes genes play a role (but usually it is up to a combination of genes being passed down and a whole bunch more of science mojo that I don’t completely grasp just yet) but also obviously, how we were raised, what kinds of people were around us, all sorts of nature vs. nurture stuff plays a part. If you would like to read one of the websites I did it’s right here: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics/  

 

I’ve never had my blood tested or DNA examined to see if I have all the genes necessary to make me more susceptible to addiction, but it’s pretty safe to say I do. Just off-hand I can think of ten-plus people in my biological family who suffer from an addiction to one or multiple substances and other things. One of my alters told me today that in high school we used to brag that we would never get involved in drugs and we would probably never drink because we knew the risks and we knew that addiction ran in the family. I realize now how deadly our stupid belief that we were untouchable was. When you start believing that you are above addiction and she will never get her seductive hands on you…you are a dead man.

 

At the end of high school I had already had my first drink…and second, and third, and fourth…It scared me that I didn’t seem to have the tolerance of a “beginner”. A few drinks didn’t seem to phase me the way it should have. But I was young, I was naive, I was being controlled by really sick people. I had no idea back then what I was getting myself into. After I was raped in the Marines my inner system that makes up my DID (Dissociative identity disorder) nearly completely de-railed. I couldn’t take what happened to the body and I withdrew into the deepest part of our system (which is what we call: The Abyss). I got all the way down there and found myself safe there. And so I stayed. I stayed and I stayed and I stayed until I realized that I couldn’t find my way back. I vaguely remember lying in the hospital bed in West Florida Hospital’s “The Pavillion” (their psychiatric unit) realizing that I couldn’t move my limbs, I could move my head. I could not even speak. It was because I could see, but I wasn’t in control. I was forced to remain down there for about a month and every now and then would get a quick glimpse of what the body had been up to. (which was mainly lying in the bed and getting lots and lots of pills).

 

Finally one day I met an internal protector alter named “The Warden”. Back then I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, so I was led to believe that this alter was simply a hallucination, but now I know who he really is. His job was and is to stay inside and keep the system from crashing again. He stays in the Abyss and the level directly above The Abyss to make sure that whoever is that deeply disturbed can receive help. This in turn keeps all of the alters from getting so far disconnected from reality that we were to do something horrible to ourselves. He came about to help us protect us from the inside. I love him for that 🙂 The Warden helped me find my way back up to the higher levels and take control of our body back.

 

After many stays at the Pavillion and at Baptist hospitals’ psychiatric units I was medically retired from the USMC and sent back to Michigan. This is when my addiction truly began. I found that several of my psych meds made me feel very good. I firmly believe that these drugs are needed for a lot of people who suffer from PTSD and C-PTSD (as I do) however, I wish it had been explained to me that I needed to only take them when my coping mechanisms had all fallen through and a panic attack was inevitable. I also should have been educated on the high possibility that if I didn’t use them as a last resort, I ran a good risk of becoming addicted. Long story short, I became hopelessly addicted fast. I took them every day, I took them more than three times a day, I took way more than I was supposed to at a time. I took them via oral route and via routes I should not have. Did I realize at the time I was addicted and that what I was doing was horribly destructive? Hell no. I could barely tell you my fucking name back then. I was so jacked up.

 

The addiction to the anxiety pills spread to other perscription meds, then to cocaine. Did you see what I just wrote? I went from perscription pills to freaking cocaine! Addiction is a seductive, murderous bitch. She doesn’t give a flying you-know-what when it comes to “oh, I have a family” or, “I have a great career”. She DOES-NOT-CARE. She will rope you in and kill you. Oh, but before she kills you…she will make sure that you hurt as many of your loved ones as she can. She will make you lie, cheat and steal. She will turn you into this monster that no one wants to be around. I know…because the monster still lives within my body. I just have the tools and the knowledge I need to keep the monster restrained and locked down deep deep deep inside me. The monster is guarded daily and every time it tries to escape we fight it. We fight it with meetings, with reading literature, with journalling and with talking with loved ones who know what it is like to suffer with addiction.

 

This fight to not let addiction rule your life is one of the hardest things I can think of for a human being to go up against. But it is possible! And better yet, it is possible to get clean and sober and stay that way, all while living a very full and happy life. I have a long way to go on my journey out of the abyss and through recovery. But I have learned to love it and my life only gets better every day I chose to pick up my sword and shield instead of lay down and give up.

 

One thing I did before I learned how to love myself was hold onto thoughts of Alice Cooper. Go ahead…laugh. Then….go educate yourself on him. Alice suffered from a deep addiction for several years, he even spent time in psychiatric units. Alice knew my pain. He got himself clean and sober and lives an amazing life now. He is a great man, and I figured. If Alice can do it, I can do it…and I really admire him. I imagined myself getting through the crap and getting to him on the other side of active addiction. I held onto things and people that made me happy. Once I got there I learned how to start loving me. Now that I have started loving myself, it feels good to live for me. It’s not selfish. It’s the right thing to do.

 

You can do this! Whether it’s you or a loved one, please know you are NOT alone. There are millions of others out there who can relate and will not allow you to go through this process alone. You are strong and you are worthy. Don’t listen to the monster, all it wants is for you to die. I love you, keep fighting!

The night I ended my life.

Please know that all of my blog posts are potentially triggering, and please know that this post is highly triggering before you continue on. I want to talk to you about my numerous suicide attempts, and more importantly, the night that I was successful.

I was still active duty in the Marine Corps at the time, living in Pensacola, Florida. I had been raped by a Sergeant in my class and was having a very hard time picking up the pieces and moving on. Every day it was a battle to eat, get out of bed, do what was expected of me and even breathe. I hated myself, felt dirty and unworthy of living and was fearful. I was afraid to talk to anyone about what had happened to me. I feared no one would believe me or would think I was a disgusting whore. I did my best to act like nothing was wrong with me, but after a while I didn’t even have the energy for that. My addiction to self-harm was strong, I had quickly moved from scissors to straight razors and felt the need to cut myself even when we were “sleeves up”. Sleeves up meant that every Marine was ordered to roll their sleeves up, which obviously meant everyone could see what I had been doing to myself. Cutting because a nervous compulsion, a drug, a necessity to keep living. A lot of people started finding out that I was a “cutter” really fast. I’m sure some people thought I was doing it for attention because we were sleeves up, but the truth was I felt I needed to do it to keep going so intensely that I didn’t give a fuck anyone who knew.

I felt as if I was in this perpetual time warp of Hell. I wasn’t being given any tasks to do that made me feel like a Marine anymore and yet I wasn’t being discharged. It was limbo, which only made my feelings of fear and worthlessness grow and fester like a deep, open wound. The details of this suicide attempt in particular are pretty muddy in some areas because now it is apparent to me that one of my alters, Kristina had been the one to try to take our life. Some time before this suicide attempt I had been hospitalized at West Florida hospital’s Pavillion which was a psychiatric ward. During that particular stay my psychiatrist had tried me on an atypical antipsychotic drug to diminish the voices in my head. Needless to say the drug did me no good and had my blood pressure down to 60/30. If anyone reading this doesn’t know, a blood pressure that low is extremely dangerous. I was very ill and was confined to my bed until the doctor decided to take me off of the drug. I was furious that it took the doctors more than an hour to decide to discontinue the medication, in my mind they should have been in some sort of trouble for that.

At some point during the later part of the day I had switched and become Kristina. I did not know that I had Dissociative identity disorder back then, all I knew what that I heard voices and occasionally saw things that other people claimed to not be able to see. This was dangerous only because I had an alter (Kristina) who did not want the body/host (me) to be alive anymore. Because I was not aware of her, I was unable to stop her attempts at ending our life. None of my alters or myself are stupid, and contrary to what our abusers tried to beat into our head over the years. Kristina knew that this medication was deadly to us and she had found we still had a completely full bottle of it in our barracks room. During the time Kristina was in control, she downed the entire bottle. Sometime after this occurred I came to in the emergency room at the naval hospital. All I remember is that my heart was racing faster than I had ever felt it before, I was extremely dizzy, disoriented, sick to my stomach and absolutely terrified. I remember suddenly feeling it was becoming very difficult to breathe, and when I did breathe I could feel air wasn’t doing me much good.

My vision became more and more blurry and dim. This is when I realized that I was dying. I kept thinking to myself, My God, I did it…I’m going to die and I won’t be able to say goodbye to my Mom. I realized that I wanted to call my mom to tell her I was sorry, I loved her and goodbye but I couldn’t find the strength to ask anyone to call her for me. Then I remember not breathing and everything going black.

I’m still not sure how much time had passed after that, but when I came to I was in the ICU and a nurse had been sitting beside my bed holding my hand. The first thing I felt when I woke up was the warmth of her skin on mine. I clung to it as if I was terrified letting go of her would allow me to slip back into the darkness. She was so happy when I woke up and took care of me. Yet again, I am not sure how long I stayed in the ICU, I have very little memory of it other than the nurse and being hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, blood pressure and pulse oximetry. I don’t remember what else. After my time in the ICU I spent anywhere from a week to a week and a half (still not entirely sure) in the hospital. The entire time I was not allowed to get out of bed because every time I stood up my heart rate would skyrocket. They had special socks on my legs that would inflate every fifteen minutes to prevent blood clots from forming and that damn heart monitor stayed on the me the whole time. After a good chunk of my time there a nurse would periodically help me to walk around the unit to get me used to walking again.

The repercussions of my overdose were immediately apparent to me. I still don’t know exactly what I did because my medical records are still not with me, but I did damage to my heart. To this day I still have issues with my heart rate and heart rhythm. I’ve always had frequent PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions) of my heart, but now they are worse, more frequent and a few times they have caused me to faint. I wish that I could have stopped Kristina from the overdose, but it’s in the past now.

I am telling this for two reasons. One, it’s part of my journey and therefore must be told in order for me to heal, but two, it’s important that people hurting have some insight to a suicide attempt that actually worked. I am very lucky to be alive…I shouldn’t be here, but I am. I may have been very deeply depressed back then and yes, there were many days where all I could think about was how much I wanted to die. But the moment that I realized I was dying I was scared absolutely shitless. The feeling of the life seeping out of my body with each sad attempted to draw air into my lungs was terrifying and painful. I am very thankful that the medical staff there saved my life and that I am alive today.

Please, if you are hurting (or know someone who is) don’t ignore that pain, and don’t believe the lies your pain tells you. You do deserve to be here, your loved ones will NOT be better off without you (they will actually suffer intensely for the rest of their lives over your death), and yes your pain may stop…but you’ll be dead, so what the fuck is the point? And for those of you who say suicide is selfish and condemn people who sadly do it…please realize that people who commit suicide are not able to think logically, their pain has them in such a sad, delusional state they truly believe they are being selfless…not selfish. The definition of selfish is as follows: A person, action or motive lacking the consideration of others. Like I mentioned before, most people who commit suicide truly and honestly believe that their loved ones are hurt over them being alive and killing themselves will remove a burden from their loved ones. It’s very sad that this happens, but it does.

Like I always say, be gentle with yourself and be gentle with others (especially those who are hurting). If you’re contemplating suicide, please…I beseech you to read this and to trust me. It is estimated that 1 out of 25 people who attempt suicide actually succeed, and most of the survivors will tell you that they were sure they wanted to die until they realized they were about to succeed. I can say that I am one of those people. Please live, please fight, I promise you, if you want your life back (happiness, no more pain, etc) you CAN have it! It will be hard at times, it will hurt at times, but it will pass and you will be free.

Please

Please

Please

Live.

Know that you are loved. And if you believe no one else does, know that I do. I love you.

Dandi