September

September is Suicide Prevention Month and Pain Awareness Month.

This month is reminding me that both my mind and body are sometimes (or most times) working against me.

This next March, I will be celebrating (yes, celebrating) 10 years since my suicide attempt.

My mother and I both believe that the fact that I am still here and still fighting my mental illnesses, is something to be celebrated.

But this year, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

During the flare ups, I have a tendency to tell myself that I am fine. And when it comes to the pain, I am just being dramatic.

Then, I go home and take the world longest, hottest shower and cry sitting on my shower floor.

All while the pain and doubt is happening, my depression and suicide thoughts are circling, just waiting.

I want to get something clear; I have suicidal thoughts but am not suicidal.

But today, I am reminded that when it comes to my pain and depression, all optimism falls short.

I am a natural born optimist and I have the ability to get anyone to believe in themselves to conquer their worst fears and biggest dreams. Which is ironic because the mental illness and Fibro have their own way of taking away that optimism, along with my sanity and drive to do anything.

During this month, I mourn the parts of myself that were able to be active without pain and able to live life not according to a pain scale.

I miss the parts of myself that woke up early and had energy for the coming day and never canceled on plans because of pain or fatigue.

I miss the parts that could rally on after a long weekend with my high energy friends, living life with no regrets.

I mourn that person.

But this month I also celebrate being alive.

I am here to see my younger brother graduate college and go into the seminary. I am here to see my parents buy the house by a lake they will retire at. I am here to be the crazy aunt when my nephew is born and my older brother gets married.  I am alive and screaming at my best friends’ medical/dental school graduations.

And I am here to be loved by everyone who has supported me through all the diagnoses, doctors, medical bills, prescriptions, and mental breakdowns.

Although my body and mind seem to hate me sometimes, here I am still kicking.

As I carry on with this Suicide Prevention and Pain Awareness Month, I will keep telling myself one thing:

I am alive.

Pain

I grew up with something always wrong with me.

If it wasn’t an ear infection, then I had an allergic reaction to a lotion, or it was a sinus infection that made my eyes swollen. I had stomach ulcers that kept both myself and my mother awake for nights on end. I had random stomach pain, hip pain, migraines, headaches, and joins hurting.

I grew up to learn that my body will always have an infection somewhere and will constantly hurt all over.

I went to the doctor a lot.

But, was I ever diagnosed with anything other than a virus or an infection?

Nope. 

And so began my anxiety with doctors.

As I got older, I tried to decipher more whether my body was actually in pain or if, once again, nothing was wrong with it and my mind was playing tricks on me.

Now, I still don’t know how to tell.

This year alone I have gone to the doctor for intensive migraines (I thought maybe they could be caused by a car accident), multiple (like 8) UTI’s, loss of vision, dizziness, weight loss, and a few other symptoms that normal people would be alarmed with as well.

But me? 

It always turns out that it is all in my head.

Depression takes a toll on your body. But I am still figuring out just how much. Does a normal, healthy, 24-year-old who eats mildly healthy supposed to feel like this?

At what point will I know if something is seriously wrong? 

My mom is usually the ultimate decider.

“Mom I couldn’t see out of my right eye again. Do I need to go back to the eye doctor even though I just went a few months ago and nothing was wrong?”

“Mom I lost another 5 pounds and every time I eat I immediately feel like vomiting and then my stomach hurts.”

“Mom my poop is that weird color and has blood in it again. No I didn't eat anything different and no I didn’t drink anymore than an average 24-year-old does.”

“Mom my joints hurt so bad today that I had to take a hydro from when I got my wisdom teeth out just to get comfortable.”

This is my life. The pain and confusion of whether I actually hurt or if once again, it's just depression taking the unrelenting toll on my life.

So, do I like doctors?

 Not so much.

I am sitting on well over $1,500 in bills I can’t pay that turned out to be nothing.

But better safe than sorry, right? 

I don’t think I have ever talked to a healthcare professional and laid out all the things I feel in a day's time. It all makes me sound crazy and then nothing turns out to be wrong with me.

I’ve been through this two or eighty-seven times.

Depression doesn’t just make you sad. It takes away your energy.  It gives you migraines that take you to the floor. It makes you lose 20 pounds that you don’t have to spare. It makes your back and hips and knees hurt when all you want to do is go run.

Depression cripples your life more than just in your mind, it continues to take a toll on your physical body.

It gets to the point that you don’t trust your own body.

What is real and what is just in my head?

That’s a question I am forever asking myself.

The story of my scars

He found a scar and asked if I did it to myself.

He has asked that before but man, I am a world class liar.

I could get anyone to believe it was a clumsy catch in the kitchen or a fall because I literally cannot walk, or even say I just don’t remember a trip when I had too much to drink.

I could tell him anything and get him to believe that scar was some dumb accident and nothing more.

Explaining self mutilation is one of the hardest parts when opening up about this disease.

Sometimes, I wonder to myself if people see the scars and think that it was just a clumsy accident or does it run through their minds that I took a blade to my own skin? I wonder if they silently have thought about trying it themselves, or if they already have.

How hard is it to understand the thought process of the disease if your thinking from a perfectly healthy mind?

Why would you take a blade to your skin and cause permanent damage that is so visible?

Is it a cry for help?

Is it just to make sure that you’re alive?

It is to make the outside just as ugly as you feel the inside is?

I was once asked what the inside of my mind looks like.

It looks like dark, deep scratches on grey walls. It looks like a deep hole and you’re stuck at the bottom looking up at the clouds that are covering the light at the end of the long, long tunnel.

Thats what the inside of my head looks like when it gets bad.

When it gets good?

There are covering the deep scratches. The flowers are every lie I tell myself and everyone else. The flowers are the smiles I plant on my face when things start to go good because duh, I have to be happy when “great” things happen. The flowers represent everyone who loves me and relies on me in their life. They shine on my good days.

But after the good days, bad days always follow.

So why the cutting?

It starts with comparing physical pain to emotional and mental pain.

Its the feeling of being emotionally drained, like that after a loss of someone or the loss of a job.

That emotional exhaustion that leaves your body feeling like it got hit by a truck right after you ran a marathon up a mountain in freezing rain.

 Everything hurts for no reason at all.

You feel all this pain inside and out, but there is absolutely no sign of your pain.

So you cut yourself.

Whether it is because you feel like you cause so much pain to others that you must feel pain to, or you're just trying to make the outside match the inside, you cut yourself.

And for a brief moment, there is relief. Just like drugs, it wears off.

Then what?

Well then you get professional help or you do it again.

But the thing is, no matter how many time I cut myself I found myself back at square one. 

(Ya ya, everyone knows it isn’t the solution, blah blah.)

 I also found myself lying to my therapist about it. I was terrified that if she knew, she would lock me up in a hospital or worse, tell someone else.

An act that feels so natural to me, disgusts others.  

But it is all part of my story. I’ve made peace with my scars and now they mix with the beautiful art that is also forever inked into my skin.

Soon, the scars will be completely covered by ink in the shape of flowers, vines, and birds.   

The scars will be part of the past. 

Just adding to the story that is my life.

The truth behind "It's not you, it's me."

I’ve heard mixed reviews about “13 Reasons Why.”  I’ve heard it is phenomenal and sheds a light on an issue that needs to be talked about all while somehow relating to everyone who watches. I’ve heard it glamorizes the after-effects of someone who was taken by suicide and paints a picture somewhat related to mental illnesses, but yet so far from mental illnesses.

It didn’t hit home for me until the 11th episode around 40 minutes in.

As a suicide attempt survivor and someone who continues to battle with severe depression, I couldn’t contain myself. I did not shed any emotion throughout the first 10 and a half episode until Hannah (the main character) said one thing.

“It’s not you, it’s me. You don’t want to be with someone like me.”

At this point, I had a flash back to every time I said that to someone. I flashed back to every time I said something like that to my family. I flashed back to everyone who did walk away when I said that. No questions asked, no conversing months after. I remember what ran through my head that made me say that. I remember the scenarios in my head that made them so miserable because they were trapped with me like they said they wanted to be. I also remember the relief of when they did leave. There went another life I wouldn’t ruin with my dreadful presence as a shitty ass human.

In my head, everyone who chose to make me a significant part of their life has no idea how shitty I am. They don’t understand the pain I cause or failures that dominate my life. They just see a pretty smiling face, a loud laugh, and the world’s best liar.

In that episode, Clay (the other main character) said the he will never leave and he loves her and he isn’t going anywhere. But he said that in his head after she already died by suicide. He started to blame himself then. He started saying that if he had said something at the time then maybe things would be different. He blamed himself for her choices.

This, is what hit home the most.

This, is why I keep secrets.

It took my until I was 23 to find a guy that didn’t go away when I told him to leave. (And I’m lucky to find someone like that this early in my life.)

But the reason why I don’t tell him where the cuts on my body come from is the same reason why I don’t tell my parents. They blame themselves.

My parents did when I went to the hospital after swallowing a bottle of pills, my friends did after they knew of what happened, even my brother did after he found one of my first suicide notes.

I love this man I am with and I knew it when I saw him eating a burrito that he brought to a bar when we were celebrating my friends birthday. I knew it then, burrito and all.

But what he doesn’t know is how hard this relationship has been on me. I have gone against everything that I feel. EVERYTHING. Loving him doesn’t come naturally. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

He has broken down walls that I was born with and that I was waaaay to attached to. But he did it and I let him. He has made me talk when I don’t want to but I need to. He makes me stop apologizing for everything that happens because he knows I will whether it is my fault or not. He makes sure I know when I am not in the wrong because he knows I blame myself for everything. Literally, everything.

Deep down, I know he knows what the scars and scabs and cuts are from. He is too smart to believe my lies, but I love him too much to tell him the truth.

This love that I have with him is not perfect because we are not perfect.

He sees my flaws and I see his, but he chooses to love me harder and harder each day. He choses not to leave.

That is one thing I never understood, and maybe I wont understand. That he is not trapped in this relationship. He is not stuck with me (the shitty human) for the rest of his life.

He chooses to be with me.

Everyday, he chooses to stay.

He choses to push me out of the darkness as much as he can, little by little. He also is learning that I won’t be able to completely leave the darkness that is my messed up mind.

But he holds my hand as we try to get as far away from the darkness as we can.

See what just happened?

He and I turned to we and us.

That’s what happens when someone refuses to leave your broken self;

They start to become the neon glue that puts your dark, broken self together.

And they choose to do that because they love you.

All of you.