Tag Archives: depression

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.

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.

The importance of listening to your body.

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well. Today I wanted to talk about the importance of listening to your body and speaking up to your doctor when something doesn’t feel right. A lot of times this can be very frustrating, scary and take a while to get your doctor to listen…but it’s very important. Your physical health can seriously affect you, especially if you are already dealing with emotional and psychological issues. 

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when I was only 19 years old. It wasn’t too bad back then, I just felt tired and had some dry skin here and there. A few times it got a little better and then it would get worse. The past few weeks I’ve been feeling very sick physically. It’s been extremely hard to stay awake yet I can’t sleep, my skin is insanely dry and I’ve been having bad cardiac palpitations. I went to the doctor’s last week and she sent me to urgent care. From there urgent care sent to me the emergency room thinking that I had a serious electrolyte imbalance. For once they were listening to me! In the emergency room I was told my blood work looked great other than being dehydrated and my thyroid seemed to be hyperactive!!! They told me to get off my thyroid medication and see my doctor the following day. I was shocked that I was actually getting help and made sure I got myself in the next day to see my doctor again. 

When I came in I was still feeling horrible, but smiled when the doctor reiterated what my blood work showed. Then she scared me. She had me sit up on the exam table and started to feel my thyroid. It hurt really bad when she touched on the right side. She asked me if I’ve been having trouble swallowing, breathing or anything else. I told her “yeah actually”. I have been having a hard time swallowing, pain, trouble breathing at times, feeling like there is something in my throat no matter how much I try to clear it and even losing my voice while singing and speaking. She told me she was able to feel a large nodule on the right lobe of my thyroid. 

I am going in for an ultrasound and biopsy this week to see if the nodule consists cancer cells. At first I was really scared but I started doing research. It is more common to have a benign nodule than a malignant one, meaning it’s less common to have cancer cells in there. Also, thyroid cancer is highly treatable and doesn’t easily metastasize! I feel like crap right now, but I have a lot of faith that once this is over and treated…I’m going to feel so much better. Whether it’s cancer or not I’m not worried, I’m going to be okay! Staying positive will only help me get through this. 

Anytime you start to feel sick, tired, anything not right…please go to your doctor right away. Waiting can only hurt you! I know it can be scary and expensive, but you are worth it! Also, one thing about thyroid problems is that it can mask itself as depression! If you’re really struggling with depression, fatigue and skin dryness/irritation please have your levels checked out! I hope everyone is doing great! 

Have you ever had a medical issue that you’re grateful you spoke up about? Had problems getting your doctor to listen to you? I feel you there! Please feel free to share if you’d like! 

Affirmation Cards

In a few of my previous posts I’ve talked briefly about affirmation card and the many benefits. I’m really happy that I started making and using them a few years ago after a friend of mine suggested them. They were key in me healing and becoming able to say I love and respect myself. Affirmation cards can be about anything negative in your life that you are trying to change into a positive. They can be for addiction, depression, anxiety, anger, eating disorders and so much more. You can tailor them to tie into your spiritual or religious beliefs or leave that out if you are not spiritual/religious. 

One thing I tell everyone is, give them time and use them once a day while looking at yourself in a mirror. It can be scary at first, embarrassing or a little painful. I remember when I first started them I wanted to throw up saying such nice things about myself, but after a week I started to look forward to doing it. Now I completely believe the ones I have worked on. “I am beautiful”, “I don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy”, and “I deserve happiness” are three of the cards I have used, and still use the most. 

I decided to start making affirmation cards and dress them up with flower embellishments and brads. I have an Etsy shop and try to tailor the art I sell from my shop towards healing and recovery. I finally have some up! If you’d like to take a look you can find my shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ValkyrieAesthetics

Have you ever used affirmation cards? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, would you like to try them? Thank you for reading!!!!

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!