Tag Archives: coping skills

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.

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

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!