Tag Archives: anxiety

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.

You deserve prince charming and he does exist.

Hello everyone! I’m very sorry that so much time has elapsed since my last post! Today I wanted to write about relationships. Specifically, why every woman deserves a prince (or princess) charming. First off. Yes, he exists. Or if in your case you are looking for a woman, she exists too. For this post I am only going to touch on males simply because for a very long time I believed good men (and therefore prince charming) didn’t exist or was already taken. I also believed that if I did come across a good man who was single, I did not deserve him.

This is one of the many lies our brains tells us when we have survived trauma. We have had these untrue notions beaten into our very brain wiring so hard that realizing a simple truth is very hard. For most of my life I believed that I didn’t deserve a good partner. I only amounted to someone who beat me, tortured me and belittled me. I believed that if a good man presented interest in me I was to save him from me and push him away. During my extremely traumatic marriage to a bad man I befriended another man. I met him through another friend of mine while I was visiting her in the hospital. He was immediately warm, friendly and quite funny. What really caught my eye was how respectful he was. Not too much longer after we met I learned another side of this man. He was protective. He was protective, not possessive and he knew the difference. He could see the abuse I was barely surviving and he helped me. During the darkest times of my life he brought light and hope that I could rise from the darkness. He knew of my mental illness, my addictions and my suffering. Instead of fearing me, he worked to understand me.

A few years passed. We spent less time together as my life changed and I had a child. Then we became close again. Next I realized I had fallen in love with him and that he had with me. It was liberating, beautiful, spiritual, celestial…but it was also terrifying. He was a good man. Understanding, loving, respectful, protective and encouraging. He worked every day to show me the strength and beauty of my soul, mind and body…but I wasn’t ready to believe him. I still very much hated myself and believed the lies I had been fed my whole life. At one point we found ourselves very close, sharing embarrassed, kisses, deep conversations and love….but my fear of not being good enough for him, or breaking if I lost him turned me away. I made excuses, I pushed him away…I hurt him deeply. To this day my heart aches that my fear touched his life at that point in such a negative way.

Just shy of two years passed and I had cut him entirely out of my life. I thought about him almost every day. And at night the pain would become unbearable at times. I wanted to forget about him and to stop loving him but I was incapable of such actions. Finally, I came to the realization that the man I believed God had made for me was him…and that I had thrown him away. I broke down, I cried and screamed. I journaled and talked in therapy. I went to God and I begged for further enlightenment and growth. I grew and learned and grew more. After nearly two years, learning to love and respect myself and realizing that my happiness didn’t have to be based off of someone else I gathered the courage to contact him.

I was terrified, actually when we were on the phone my pulse was about 210 beats per minute. It was a scary situation, but it felt right. All he said at first was: “You talk and I’ll listen”. We talked for a long time. We both cried, we laughed…pretty soon many more conversations were had and now…we are together. I finally see the things about myself that he saw years ago and I finally can say I love myself. Now…I know I deserve a good man, my very own prince charming. Yes, I do not need someone else to complete me, but having him in my life I feel as if everything in my universe is as it should be. I can say I have never been happier, healthier or stronger. He builds me up as I build him, we build ourselves individually as well as a couple. I love him and he loves me. We deserve each other and I promise you, you deserve your very own prince charming.

One of the greatest things about my man is that he is patient and understanding of my illnesses and healing journey. When he doesn’t understand, he asks and strives to learn. He is gentle and kind. Just last night I accidentally dropped a dish and it shattered on the floor. I felt the muscles in my body tense immediately, ready for punishment. This wasn’t because I thought he would hurt me, but because the way my mind has been wired to react when I have made a mistake. I had grown very accustomed to verbal and physical abuse as a punishment…even for something as innocent as breaking a dish. Immediately he said: “it’s okay, it was an accident. Let me help you clean it up!” he even asked me to let him do it so I wouldn’t accidentally cut myself on the shards. We cleaned up the mess in a few minutes and he softly reminded me that everything was okay. This, my friends, is how you deserve to be treated. So you broke a dish or forgot an appointment, or to pay a bill. It was an accident and you do not deserve to be met with anger, hostility or abuse of any kind.

You have every right to stop accepting unhealthy and abusive relationships. Don’t listen to the poison abusers have put into your mind. Try to get to the bottom of why you accept bad relationships and then rewire your brain. It’s  often a long and difficult process, but it is very possible! The day I began to know true happiness was the day I started loving myself and believing the truth…not the past. Now that I have gotten there, I am ready for a healthy, happy and supportive love. I know you will be too. It takes time. Don’t give up!

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.

 

 

 

Breaking the silence.

The first account of abuse I can remember today was at age four. I was an innocent, happy, loving and gentle four year old that was in love with being alive. I was abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. No one deserves abuse, especially a child. As I grew up, I was victimized again and again and again. Every single time the perpetrator was someone I knew, usually a family member or friend. Having more than one abuser strengthened the lie I was told that I was bad, dirty and deserved what was happening to me. I began to believe that I was born to suffer and be beat and broken. I made friends with people who took advantage of me, I stayed around family members who hurt me and I picked lovers who tortured me. For a long time I have kept secrets…secrets of my abusers. Why did I do this? Because I was afraid to die. I was afraid that one, several or all of my abusers would track me down and kill me. If you need a second reason…it was also because I was afraid of what this harsh world often thinks of victims. That they must have deserved what happened to them.

I was told that they loved me. I was told that they cared, and this was how people who loved each other proved it. I was told that I was bad. I was told I was a slut. I was told that I was a piece of trash. I was told no one would believe me. I was told if I struggled I would be killed…or my family would be. I was told that a husband could not rape his wife. I was told many sick lies. Do you see what I just said? LIES. I was told LIES. abusers lie to their victims to induce deep and paralyzing fear. They do this to ensure you will keep THEIR nasty secret. You are innocent, you are clean and beautiful and worthy and do not deserve to be harmed. The brainwashing sets in fast, but you can reverse it.

Today was one of the most difficult days of my life. I wanted to write this short entry to tell you that. Today I struggled bad. Today I drove myself to a city where many horrible things were done to me that changed me forever. I went to the police station and it just so happened to be across the street from one of the locations of the abuse. It was hard…no it was VERY hard. I took a deep breath in the car and I looked at myself in the mirror of my visor and said out loud: I am doing the right thing. I walked in and I retold the abuse that spanned many months to a police officer. She took my statement and she comforted me. I was blown away by how well she was trained for this. She knew that I would second guess myself, that I would become fearful and sick. She knew that I would hear the lies in my head and want to dart for the door. She reassured me and helped reorient me. I am very thankful for the people behind the scenes in this process…you know who you are (if you ever read this) and I am very thankful for the friends who support me when I’m strong, and more importantly support me when I am struggling to hold on. I always say…there is nothing wrong with having help. When a storm comes the captain needs more men to help on the ship. Get the help you need, keep your eye on the goal and hold fast.

I know that coming forward and breaking the silence is extremely painful and scary. The thought of it even can induce pain and panic. I strongly believe this is one of the hardest things a human being can go through…but it is possible and in most cases it helps a lot. I can tell you that I feel great relief and confidence already. I am still scared, but I am no longer ruled by my fear. It took me 26 years to get here, so be gentle with yourself. This takes time. I still have many many many more miles to go. I just want you to know there is hope, help and healing. You don’t have to live in the darkness anymore, afraid to live your life. It is them that should live in fear, not you. You aren’t alone, I am with you! I love all of you.

Your friend, Dandi

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 holidays

Hello everyone! I know! I know! I have been slacking again…It’s the holidays and like most people, things have been pretty emotional and busy for me. If you’re anything like me you probably feel ambivalent towards the holidays. You want to feel happy and excited, you think about the yummy food and the gifts you have bought for certain people…but then you think about the people you will be spending the holidays with, or the people you wish you could spend the holidays with. Then you start to feel very alone, depressed, anxious and downright pissed off. 

I have a very very small handful of blood relatives that I can say I care about and enjoy being around them. This is the number one reason why the holidays are normally very difficult to fully enjoy. Because of falling outs, attitudes and grudges most of my family does not want to be around one another at any point in time. I often spend holidays with my kids, my mom and step dad and sometimes a few others. (Most of these people I do not feel comfortable around and have to constantly tell myself it will be okay as long as I stay grounded). “Just get through it, just get through it”. It’s just…freaking annoying. I can’t stand being around negative people and people who judge others. BAM, that is most of the people in my family. Downright no-fun to be around. 

There are people I love dearly and consider my true family in every way imaginable. Most of these people live in other states, others live nearby but have their own little families to spend the holidays with. This also makes the holidays feel a little blue. Despite these two huge hurdles I face every holiday (especially Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/all other holidays in December) I always find a way to enjoy it even if it’s just a little bit. 

I love snow…I live in Michigan. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t have snow. So…that’s a plus! I have two children who I love more than anything. I get to spend most holidays with both of them (sometimes my son is with his daddy). That is a huge plus. It’s cold therefore I’m not nearly naked and still soaked in sweat and the humidity makes me feel like I’m drowning. Yay! Another plus! Doing nice things for complete strangers. Yet again another plus. Just a week ago I paid for the person behind me at Taco Bell. I didn’t know this person, I wasn’t even sure I should be spending the extra money. But I was sure about raising another person up, helping them to feel good. You never know who that person is…maybe that day they were contemplating suicide. Maybe that day they lost their job or their spouse. Maybe that one nice thing some stranger did for them made them decide it was worth it to keep fighting. I am ALL about giving people hope. A quote I remember seeing in high school that really hit home back then: “never deprive someone of hope; It may be all they have”. This is something we should all realize is very true and try to implement the meaning every day. 

I hold onto all of these positives and several others that I find. When you search out the positive and clutch it close to your heart it becomes hard to feel sad and down. It really does, I promise you. There really is a silver lining to every cloud, no matter how dark and ominous. Please know that you are not alone! Even if you don’t have friends or family around you right now, you are not alone. I’m fighting with you and there are millions more out there.

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule, and all the other seasons greetings!!! You’ve got this. I love you!