I Know

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I know what it looks like.

When you see the hundreds of scars on my shoulders, back, and arms – whether it is for the first time or the fiftieth.

When you hear the stories of me being so manic that they found me on some train tracks, barefoot, in the middle of winter, with no idea how I got there.

When people warn you about not one, but two of my overdoses.

When you figure out that the scar on my wrist was intended to end my life.

When you find me curled up on the bathroom floor, crying or screaming or shaking, because this mood swing is consuming me.

I know what that looks like.

Crazy, uncontrolled, scary, unacceptable, insane, desperate…

The thing is, I also know what it feels like.

When I was hurting so bad, and trapped by my own mind, that a razor seemed like the only way out.

When my mind told me I had all of the energy in the world, so I went exploring in places people typically don’t, and simply forgot my shoes because there was so much to see.

When I was trapped in an all-consuming mood swing, simultaneously wanting so badly to die and also to live a totally different life, so I turned to medication to shut it all off.

When I was so thoroughly convinced that the world was better off without me, that I was nothing but a burden, so I tried to remove myself.

When I cannot function beyond the level of simply existing because the chemicals in my brain are at war with each other and it feels as if my mind is imploding.

I know what that feels like.

Painful, terrifying, confusing, hopeless, lonely…

I know that you hate seeing me suffer. You ask isn’t there another medication to try? Can’t you just try going to the gym when you’re upset? What about calling someone?

I know the suggestions are well-intentioned. From my family, and my friends, I know that you just want me to be healthy, but there is something you don’t know and can’t understand. You don’t know what it’s like to live in a head in which four serious mental illnesses coexist. You don’t know what it’s like to look at rain, see a hurricane, and be expected to behave as if nothing is happening. You don’t understand what it’s like to feel your heart slamming against your ribcage because everything inside you is telling you that if you just swallow another handful of pills, everything will be better.

You don’t know, but I do.

So please, give me some mercy. Grant me the same kindness you would to any other person dealing with a serious illness and try to understand why I can’t get out of bed somedays.

It’ll be okay.

Remember, you need to keep your head above water, too.

Emma.

 

How to Save a Life

sad-girlI’ve been told on many occasions that I am an inspiration. People have told me how brave I am, how they look up to me, and how they can’t imagine facing these things themselves.

I’ve been told that I am a lifesaver. I’ve been thanked for my empathy and patience. I’ve been the shoulder to support many.

I don’t say any of this to brag or make a conceited point.

I say it because I am conceding to all of this thanks with the simple statement that I am not strong, I am struggling, and I have been terrified every step of the way.

Today, I am laying in bed, a shaking mess. Caught in a mood swing, with no way to communicate just how it feels, I have isolated myself once again. I tried to reach out for help yesterday when I felt the true chaos erupting and was met with hostility. I couldn’t form the right words, couldn’t tell this person what I needed, and ultimately was left on my own.

I’ve felt this mood swing coming on for days. No one knows.

I don’t know what to do at this point. With everyone in my life, I simultaneously want to pull them close and push them 1,000 miles away. I don’t know how to communicate that, though. I don’t know how to say I love you, but please leave me alone for an indefinite amount of time, or at least until I reach out, probably crying.

I feel like I did during those first two days in BHC. I want to curl up in bed and never speak to anyone again, but I also need to be held and told, repeatedly, that I am loved and worthy of love. I can’t ask for this, though – I can’t physically make those words leave my lips, so instead I cry and get angry and hide.

I have flashbacks to holding my mom’s head in my hands, wondering why brains are actually gray and not pink. I look down and suddenly I’m covered in her blood again. I keep hearing her bones shatter on the concrete. And then, it overlaps with him. I’m underneath him. I can hear his breathing.

My mind is going a thousand miles per hour at this point, and I can’t make it slow down. I work with patients going through this same thing, and I can’t bring myself back to this current moment to look them in the eye and say it will get easier.

I chose psychology because I wanted to save people. I wanted to give the people like me a voice and a second chance and everything I had to fight for entirely on my own. I chose this career because I wanted to save lives that were slipping through cracks no one realizes even exist.

I thought I knew how to save a life like mine. I keep listening to the doubters, though, the ones who question what I am capable of. How can you help them when you can’t even help  yourself?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

But I have to try.

Keep your head above water, k?

Emma.

Being Borderline: You’re Not Damned

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When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I thought my whole world had ended.

But, it hadn’t.

A year and a half later, when I was given the dual diagnosis including borderline personality disorder, I thought my entire identity was a lie.

But, it’s not.

I have spent a copious amount of time researching BPD. I’ve watched so many videos in which BPD sufferers are demonized and others in which they are defended. It seems people have trouble reconciling the idea that people with personality disorders are still very much human.

I can’t change everyone’s minds – I know that a simple blog post will not alter the opinions of so many that can only see evil in someone with a personality disorder. However, I want to at least do my part in adding my voice to the others that are trying so hard to erase the stigma surrounding this particular mental illness. So, I’ll share with you my personal experience with it.


According to the DSM, there are nine clinical criteria for the diagnosis of BPD.

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

      I struggled immensely with this for years. The manifestation of my BPD began when I was about 12 years old, when my mother spent a year in another state receiving cancer treatment. During this year, I also watched my dad leave on multiple short-term deployments. Three years later, I not only watched, but felt my mom die. I held her in the backseat of the car on the way to the hospital, covered in her blood. I then held her hand in her hospital bed as life support was disconnected.

Following this trauma, I’ve developed a massive fear of being abandoned. As a child, my young mind couldn’t process all of it and neuro pathways were formed in such a way to protect me from it. Constantly, I wonder when the next person will die or leave or just disappear. With therapy, however, I’ve learned how to manage it. While the anxiety is still there and sometimes the behaviors creep up, I know now how to better control the chaos.

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

   I was barely seventeen when the sexual abuse began, carried out by someone I considered to be a close friend. It lasted for months. I didn’t know what to do or who to tell. There were moments in which I could believe it was okay – that he wasn’t hurting me. However, they were often overturned by a deep repulsion and fear. The abuse finally ended after I was assaulted by a mutual friend. I don’t know why it ended – maybe because that was when I finally erupted into a swirling mass of emotions and anger.

I see the impact of that trauma in my life every day, though. I may meet someone and absolutely adore them, swear every bit of my loyalty to them, and then the next day want absolutely nothing to do with them. I may have an extremely hostile conversation on the phone with my dad, full of yelling and crying, and then two hours later just want to call him to discuss the weather. Through therapy and personal reflection, I’ve found that my most stable relationships have very clear boundaries. Emotions are kept in check, triggers are minded, and no one pushes to get too close. It’s not detachment, but it’s a healthy amount of privacy and respect.

3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

    This one is trickier. I’ve always been one to maintain several social groups at once, never letting them overlap if I can avoid it. In high school, I had friends in every circle from theater to football. While I maintained my own personality, I found that I behaved differently around each group of people. Once I entered college, I became more capable of keeping a firm grasp on my own identity, but I do notice shifts in perception and behavior in certain social situations.

I think the most alarming part of this symptom is experiencing loss or a breakup. When I lose someone that I consider an important part of my life, it is like losing a part of myself. The behaviors I picked up from them become painful reminders of a loss I always feared, and I may feel unstable until I can reconcile the pieces of myself without the pieces of them. However, I have become remarkably more capable of handling loss in even the last few months thanks to therapy like DBT.

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g. spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). This does not include suicidal or self-harming behavior.

     This isn’t one I’ve had a terrible time managing. It is actually difficult to identify since these behaviors overlap with those of a manic episode. It takes at least two days to work out whether my impulsivity is a result of BPD or bipolar disorder, as one lasts longer than the other and carries with it a myriad of other symptoms. However, those behaviors were previously a pattern in my life that I was able to eliminate through treatment.

5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.

This is the most crippling aspect of BPD for me, personally. I have multiple suicide attempts in my past and my arms are covered in scars from self-harm. Let me be very clear in stating that these were not, are not, and never have been for attention.

Cutting was a coping mechanism I picked up when I was only 14 years old. I kept it a secret from almost everyone in my life. I never flaunted the injuries for attention – I hid them as best as I could. I still try to cover the scars around new people and in public. Sometimes, I am brave and don’t mind the stares or the questions, but the judgement is often too harsh for me to manage.

Trying to kill myself? I did not want anyone involved in that. I just wanted it to end. I can’t even put into words the all-consuming desperation to die. It just hurt so bad and I wanted it to be over. The only reason I am still alive is because there are miraculous people in my life that want me to still be here. I reached out for help not for myself, but for them. I can’t deny the idea crosses my mind still in my worst moments, but I am learning how to cope with it.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood – intense feelings that can last from a few hours to a few days.

This on top of the mood swings that accompany bipolar disorder is the biggest headache of all. I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to maintain a poker face when it feels like you’re about to explode. Little things can affect your mood just as greatly as big things.

That does not make you evil.

Never apologize for having emotions. That is something I have had to work at. I can’t change the fact that the chemicals in my brain are wired to implode when something goes wrong, however through treatment I’ve learned how to manage the mood swings. I have more coping skills that help me to quell anger, stop tears, soothe panic, and enforce positivity. They are not 100% foolproof, but they help.

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

This symptom didn’t really rear its ugly head until I went to college. There are times I find myself seriously questioning my purpose. I look at my schoolwork, my career, and even my relationships and wonder what they’re worth. A lot of people have told me, and will tell you, that you can’t rely on others to find your purpose or your happiness. However, you can allow them to help you reinforce the idea that your life and your work, no matter how small, is valuable. If I didn’t have people to consistently remind me that I am important, I would have offed myself years ago.

8. Inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger.

Hahaha my dad might actually be the better one to discuss this one. I was quite the teenager. I could get worked up in about .5 seconds and have steam pouring out my ears before anyone knew what was happening. I actually started boxing so that I had a healthy outlet for the anger I didn’t understand or maybe didn’t know how to control.

As an adult, I’ve found that this anger has lessened. It rears its head on occasion, but I know better now when it is justified and when it is not. I know better how to calm myself down and not act on impulse.

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideas or severe dissociative symptoms.

    Oooh, I hate this one! It’s like anxiety on crack. When I get super stressed, my mind makes it look like the whole world is ending. I’ve really, really struggled with this one this year. Something may go wrong and, suddenly, rain looks like a hurricane.

I’ve only dissociated a handful of times, and two of those were the times I overdosed. It is a scary situation when you dissociate. It’s terrifying for not only you, but the people around you. This is something that may require medication in conjunction with therapy to manage. I know that my bipolar medication has also helped to ease these symptoms.


I know that I am not a terrible, manipulative person. It is so frustrating when a stigmatized label demonizes someone that is actually suffering. I did not ask for borderline personality disorder – no one ever has. It is one of those battles you have to fight every day. It is a battle in your own mind. There are losses and there are victories, but as long as you don’t let it claim you, you’re still in the game.

Borderline personality disorder may be a part of you, but it is not all of you. Don’t let others define you by it and define yourself by it. You can learn to manage it and have a healthy, successful life. I promise.

Keep your head above water. This is not the end.

Emma.

 

Have a Very Mentally Ill Christmas

screen-shot-2013-12-09-at-6-40-18-pmI hope you’ll forgive me for any cynicism in this post. I’m trying really, really hard to be positive and use every coping skill I ever picked in counseling. DBT, ACT, etc. I’m running through all of them in my head, remembering mindfulness, and working really hard to take things 30 minutes at a time.

I’m alone this Christmas. Very, very alone.

And my medication isn’t working, and my mood swings are very near out of control, and I genuinely do not want to exist tonight. I don’t want to die – there are far too many good things coming my way next month – but, tonight and tomorrow, I don’t want to exist in any form.

My dad, who is the only real family I have left, is 7 hours away. Every conversation we have on the phone swings dramatically from nostalgic to hostile within about 10 minutes. I’m trying to be someone he knows, but this f******g borderline personality disorder is threatening to catapult me back into total isolation. I’m angry and I’m sad and I can’t even find the words to express how badly it hurts.

I can’t sleep, which is what I typically do during depressive episodes. Instead, I lay awake and stare out the window as the snow comes down. I’m restless in the most exhausted way possible. I don’t want to eat or get out of bed, but I am fortunate enough to have an emotional service animal that doesn’t allow me to stay in one place for too long. He brings me a toy to throw or jumps on my chest or runs in circles to get my attention. I’ve admitted this only a handful of times, but this dog is the only reason I’m still alive. Those big, brown eyes are so heartbroken every time I walk out the door. He needs me as much as I need him, and so every time the thought of suicide crosses my mind, I think of him and how I am all he has.Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 6.50.58 PM.png

That keeps me hanging on tonight.

This holiday season – hell, this year – has been my absolute nightmare. The new year, hopefully, brings some relief. Maybe moving, getting a new job, and taking my classes online is just what I need. Maybe leaving this state, and the people in it, behind is the best thing I can do for myself.

I don’t know, though. I don’t have the answers tonight. I just know that 30 minutes at a time is all I can take. For now, I’ll listen to music and write and color and do small things to stay occupied. After that, maybe I’ll take Bear outside and let him run in the snow for awhile. Whatever helps. Whatever gets me through the next 24 hours.

I hope that you’re having a good Christmas, at the very least. If you’re struggling, know that you are very much not alone. Depression worsens around the holidays for a lot of people. There are others laying under their blankets tonight, holding back tears or perhaps full on sobbing, and fighting a battle no one else can see. You aren’t fighting alone. I promise.

I’m sorry this is all over the place, but that’s where I am at this point. 30 minutes at a time. Maybe Monday will bring relief.

Until then, I’m keeping my head above water and I hope you are, too.

Merry Christmas.

All my love,

Emma

Water is Thicker Than Blood

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Growing up, I lived in a happy home. I was raised by adoring parents, and harassed endlessly by older siblings that I knew would protect me from any monsters under the bed. I mean, my big sister literally ran back into our burning house to find me before the firefighters could get there. My brother taught me how to take any guy down before I even knew the difference between boys and girls. There is no other word to describe myself other than blessed.

But, then we grew up. My dad saw more deployments, my mom died, my sister got married and then divorced and married again. My brother saw his own mental health tsunamis, lost his way, and then found a wife of his own. From the age of 15, I was pretty much on my own when it came to decision making. I navigated being a teenager with little guidance, got my first job without any prompting, and was living independently at an age younger than any of my five older siblings did previously.

It was in the very first semester of my freshman year of college that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Following my diagnosis, my relationship with my family suffered a massive rift. Shortly after, I was given the diagnoses of both PTSD and OCD. It rocked my world, but didn’t necessarily surprise me. My family couldn’t seem to wrap their head around it. I wasn’t the same person anymore.

Almost two years later, I am again an entirely different person. Well, at least to them.

You see, I’ve got a couple suicide attempts under my belt now, and the scars on my arms have multiplied by at least ten. There is a dark vertical line on my wrist, and some remaining deficits from my overdose are present in my speech and motor functions.

In October, I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which, to be quite honest, didn’t do much in way of personal opinion, either.

After the events of these last two years, I admit that I must look scary to them. My scars might be disturbing and the behavior they’ve heard about might make them question everything they once knew about me. I can’t say I blame them; I also can’t say it is easy to forgive them.

I learned a really important lesson when I woke up in the ICU. Though not literally, water may be thicker than blood. Friends, when bonded closely enough, may actually be family. And family, though genetically identifiable as part of you, may not be family at all. They can be strangers you grew up with under the same roof. I only say this because when I woke up from that coma, the face waiting for me was my best friend’s – and the texts and calls on my phone were not from a single blood family member, but from friends who had heard what I had done…and they weren’t judging or lecturing or talking to me in pity. They were supporting. When I entered the BHC, those same friends called and visited me without prompting.

I wish I could say my blood had done the same. However, with the holidays here, it breaks my heart to admit I know now, with a surety, where I stand in regard to the people I am genetically similar to. I don’t have a home to go back to. As I watch friends pack their dorms for the break, eager to see their parents and siblings, I am preparing to move to the next state. I did not see my family at Thanksgiving, I will not see them at Christmas, and I don’t suppose I’ll see them again for quite some time.

And that’s fine.

I don’t say that because I don’t care – because I truly, wholeheartedly do. I have cried and panicked and contemplated suicide all over again in the face of this realization. This realization that I am on my own, and that I have been for awhile now.

I say this because it is the only way for me to heal. They feel that they need to protect themselves from me and that is fine, but it is my turn to protect myself from them. It’s time to not be lectured or questioned for being sick, or not to be spoken to as if I am broken doll with a lack of faith. I don’t choose to be sick, but I choose how to cope, and this is the only way I see at this point.

I have friends willing to give up nights of sleep and their spare bedrooms to support me. I have friends who will hold me in the wake of mixed episode, unfazed by the screaming, and refuse to let go. I have friends who will wrestle pill bottles out of my hands and glue my bleeding arms shut and call 911 when I’ve finally given up.

They are my family, even if they are not blood.

And that’s okay; I can live with that.

If you’re alone this Christmas, know that you aren’t truly alone. I’m thinking of you as I lay here, watching the snow fall outside my window. The people that were supposed to love you, the ones that may have failed you, do not define you. You are strong, and you will never truly be alone. I love you, and I am cheering for you every step of the way. You can do this.

All my love,

Emma.

P.S. Merry Christmas, and remember to keep your head above water.

It’s Real

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It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Maybe they just don’t understand, or maybe they haven’t experienced those moments where everything is so surreal that you’re not sure whether reality has crossed with another dimension or if they just begin and end in the same place.

I’m talking about those moments after the fact – after your lip is bloody or in the silence following the flatline or those seconds proceeding the door slam – when you have to adjust to the reality has just become your reality.

I still remember laying in bed after he was gone. I remember chewing on my fat lip and staring out the window, watching the snow slant sideways against the dark sky. The hardest thing to process, however, was that my hands still smelled like the chips and dip I’d been eating just before he got there. I couldn’t make the connection in time between the food and the hour he was on top of me. Those two moments couldn’t possibly exist in the same plane.

I can’t forget the silent scream pouring from my mouth when my mom left this world. It is the only thing connecting the seemingly irreconcilable moments when I first felt her heart stop and, second, when the monitor flatlined.

I cannot reconcile the Monday night I began overdosing with the Thursday I woke up in the ICU. My mind cannot make sense of the years my arms were not covered in scars and the now in which it’s as if I’ve tattooed myself in a hundred purple lines.

But it’s real. It’s all real.

And I know it doesn’t seem real to you – you, the one or the many, who did not experience those moments which have shifted this world from reality to reality. Who did not recognize the difference between the minutes in which I was eating chips and then pinned down and then laying alone in bed. Who does not comprehend the difference between feeling a heart stop and watching a line go flat. Who cannot, or, maybe simply refuses to, attempt to reconcile my healthy face with my broken mind.

It’s so real. Each of those moments were so very real and surreal and impossible simultaneously. Your eyes may have not been witness, but let my words be confirmation enough. My head is not a basket of stories to be picked through, sorted by fiction and nonfiction. It is a constant tape player of moments that happened on this earth, that have burned into my retinas and skin, and it lies only to me.

Trust my lips, though they have been swollen and bloody at times, to tell you what it is like to live with mental illness. Trust my eyes, which have seen so much blood and shed so many tears, to be your looking glass into diseases and disorders that can only be combatted with guesswork. Understand that my hands, which have both held up and dropped the most precious of gifts, have touched the fabric of time in which horror crossed with reality.

It’s real.

Mental illness is real.

It is as palpable as you and me.

If only you had the eyes to see…

…but I fear you may have been blinded by your rose-colored glasses.

Resurfacing

 

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Well, I’m back on the outside.

This is my first night home since I was admitted to inpatient care one week ago.

Last Wednesday night, I downed 20 pills – not even half of the quantity of my overdose a month and a half ago – but it was enough to scare the hell out of me and everyone around me. So, I told my doctor and he sent me to the emergency room. From there, I was readmitted to the same behavioral health center that got me back on my feet last month.

I think I’m only on one foot this time, though.

I have a meeting with HR tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure I’m losing my job because I’ve missed two weeks this year due to hospitalization. My relationship with my family is not just on the rocks – it’s hanging off of the freaking cliff. This depressive mood swing has yet to lift, and I definitely don’t feel near as safe as I did inside the hospital, so my anxiety is through the roof.

I know I am not alone, because I have amazing friends – one particularly incredible one that I know I would be dead without – but I feel alone.

My heart feels broken, my eyes won’t stop filling with tears, and my hands are shaking. I want to crawl into bed and not move again until 2017. Everyone keeps telling me, “You choose to feel this way.” I just want to scream and shake them.

I don’t. I don’t choose this. 

What I do choose is how I cope and whether I fight or not. So, I’m trying. Dammit, I am trying. They may be the smallest baby steps, but I want to live just as badly as my BP and my BPD want me to die.

Keep fighting with me, guys. I think we’re stronger in numbers. If your arms are getting tired, it’s okay just to tread water for awhile – and then? You start swimming again.

Just keep your head above water.

All my love,

Emma

The Worst Part

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The worst part about trying to kill yourself, and failing, is that the desire to die doesn’t go away. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am beyond relieved to be alive. Waking up in that hospital was a miracle.

And, to be honest, it’s a miracle I’ve survived the last few weeks.

I’m not easy on myself, and I never have been. So, coming back to the mess I left in my wake…I’m not sure I’ve ever hated myself more. I don’t tell anyone that. I’ve never even told my psychologist how much it hurts to even look in the mirror in the morning. The reflection I see is not the girl my parents wanted me to be and that hurts so bad.

In the mirror, I see the girl who was used and passed around. I see the girl that didn’t fight back. I’m looking into the eyes of someone so weak that she couldn’t hold it together even a week past her 21st birthday before she tried to off herself. I’m face to face with the person that couldn’t save her mother and now can’t seem to save herself.

I’ve tried so hard to isolate myself, to create walls so that others didn’t get pulled into the crazy. I don’t want anyone that loves me to be witness to the self-destruction. I just…I don’t want anyone to love me. Maybe that seems insane, but it would make it so much easier. I just don’t see the purpose I serve in anyone else’s life. I didn’t three weeks ago, three years ago, and I don’t now. I see the scars on my body and the wrong I’ve done and the lies I’ve told and the people I’ve hurt and the people that have hurt me and I can’t help  but wonder why am I still here?

Tonight, I was running in circles in my head, going crazy, trying to figure out what my next step should be. I’ve burned so many people out in the last year and a half. Between the self-harm and the suicide attempts, I’m a walking train wreck. No one needs to be involved with this. I want to run away – pack a suitcase, take my dog, and just disappear – but I can’t…because that hurts more people…and I don’t know why! I just want to yell at these people: “Stop caring! I’m not worth it!”

I am broken. Those men broke me. Feeling my mom’s heart stop…it ruined me. Bipolar disorder is a mark only so many can look past. I am not worth the love, patience, or time of any of the people still in my life. I want to run away and put them out of my misery.

Usually, I have some form of encouragement at the end of my posts…but I’m so burned out. Just be stronger than I am and keep kicking. Keep your head above water. You are worth it. I promise.

Side Effects

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I speak French, but not as well as I did three weeks ago.

I play the guitar and the piano, but not nearly as well as I did before I downed 50 pills.

I’m fairly eloquent, but it’s not nearly as impressive as it used to be.

It turns out that overdosing and two comas can have some lasting effects.

I notice them when I’m trying to talk and suddenly my words are backwards. It scares the hell out of me when I’m driving and suddenly one or both of my hands have lost feeling. It’s insanely frustrating when I’m trying to remember a simple word in French and it seems I’ve lost half of the language.

This is not the life I imagined living, nor is it the one I truly want. When I was younger, I had this plan – I would be married by 21, have at least one baby by 23. I would have a stable job, home, and a completed degree. Currently, however, I am in a much different place. I’m involved in a completely non-committed relationship. I go on random dates here and there, but this one guy is my constant even though he is not a permanent. I recently moved in with two friends and am living in their spare bedroom with my dog. The lease ends in just a couple months, so I’ll be on the move again soon enough. My job, while stable, is constantly presenting new challenges that I sometimes struggle to wrap my head around.

And my hands are numb, so I struggle to hold onto even a pen some days, so I think to myself…how can you ever hold a child? And I struggle to speak clearly, so I wonder…is my job secure? And now my treasured language is leaving me, so I know…these side effects will have a lasting impact.

This suicide attempt will never leave me.

That could be good – maybe it’s scared me enough into never trying again. It could also be the worst possible outcome, because maybe it’s enough to drive me back into that dark place where the only way out is down.

And…it breaks my heart.

Because all I want to do is live and do good for others and one day raise a family…but I’m haunted by the assault and the abuse. I have yet to forgive myself for my mother’s death. There’s this ball chained to my ankle and it’s holding me back and I swear everyone can, at the very least, sense it.

It doesn’t matter, though. It doesn’t matter if these side effects never wear off or if I don’t have a baby by the time that I’m 23 years old. There’s a lot more to the world than all of this, even if drives me crazy on the bad days. If I can survive the massive tsunami that tried to take me just three weeks ago, I know that I can survive whatever the world throws my way. Even if I can’t protect myself with a left hook, my right hand can still do a hell of a lot.

I have to tell myself every day now – head above water. So, I’ll tell you, too. Keep your head above water, no matter how high the waves rise to be. You are strong and brave and it doesn’t matter if the world tells you any different. I have faith in you.

Emma.

 

A Hot Empty Mess: My Apartment & I

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When I got home from the hospital Tuesday night, I walked into an apartment that was basically a reflection of my head. Nearly everything had been taken by my old roommates, who moved out the day after my suicide attempt. What was mine was left scattered everywhere. A lot of things are missing. I’m not sure where they went. There were no sheets on my bed and nothing had been cleaned.

I’m angry and empty and lost and filled with so many emotions that I’m not sure how to explain them. This apartment, looking torn apart and yet just as modern and aesthetically appealing as the day I moved in, is me.

And I hate it.

I can’t lay on the bed where I nearly took my last breaths. I can’t shower in the bathroom where there are still pills scattered everywhere. I can’t eat in the kitchen where I know people sat judging and wondering and waiting.

And recovery is just so messy and painful and I hate it.

Because everyone expects me to be completely okay or completely wrecked. There is no more in between. Constantly, I am asked “Are you okay?” and the second most popular question “Why didn’t you call me?”

Because this is my life. That was my suicide attempt it would have been my death.

Do I know how selfish that sounds? Of course! But it was my pain, and it still is, and if dying was how I chose to end it, that was my choice and you have no place guilt tripping me for it. I am allowed to suffer how I choose, because this suffering is mine, and I am not required to share it. I don’t care if you want me to burden you with it. These are my demons. I’m in treatment. Not you.

This is my mess, created by me. This is a home, wrecked by others.

That being said, I am not alone and I do not want to be. There are wonderful people in my life still. Some were residents in BHC, others were my family and friends that came before. There are good people on my side, and willing to help me clean up this mess, even the scattered pills.

I don’t know how much of a mess you are right now, but if you’re in a similar apartment, I get it. Just know that there are good people willing to help out. You can do a lot on your own if you want – I know that’s what I want – but it’s okay to ask if you need someone.

And it’s okay to not be okay.

Just don’t drown.

Head above water.

Emma.