*Trigger warning: Mentions suicide and self harm*
Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness. I feel like bad things keep happening and will continue to happen and existing is hard. I was on the phone with a suicide prevention hotline a week and a half ago and I was feeling like I couldn’t keep existing with so much bad. I was having thoughts of suicide off and on for the last month and the bad felt like it was just piling up higher and higher.
I know I can’t keep existing this way. I have decided I’m going to work hard on changing my circumstances instead of hurting myself. Of course, I can’t change the bad things that have happened to me. I can’t change the way my family treats me and I can’t change the fact that I have depression. But I can take the steps I need to in order to understand what I’m feeling and how to feel it.
In the past, although I was making an effort to recover, I had a bad habit of running away from my emotions when they became too much. I did this by drinking, sleeping, by hurting myself, and isolating myself. This not only failed to resolve the feelings I originally had, but added to my anxiety because I was hurting myself and hurting my relationships.
I’ve made the decision to let myself feel my feelings, no matter how scary that is. The only way to get through something is to let yourself feel it. I’ve decided I’m going to work hard on improving myself and learn how to have healthy relationships with others. I’ve made steps to end the bad habits I used to escape from my emotions, including going to support meetings every day and being more honest in therapy.
In my experiences, suicidal thoughts happen when I feel “If this is life, there is no way I can keep surviving.” Thanks to the H.O.P.E. Collective, some close friends, and the support of strangers in the community, I am learning that there is hope, even if I can’t see it right now. I’m not going to give up, and I hope you aren’t, either.
I'm a list maker. I love making list. Shopping lists, movies to watch list, books to read lists, packing lists, crush worthy people lists. Lists help me get organized and they calm me. So I thought it would be nice to have a list of reasons to stick around this year. 📝
1. Cats. Big cats, small cat. Cat videos. Just cats. 🐈
2. Pizza is a thing that exist. 🍕
3. Ed Sheeran is coming out with new music. 🎧
4. My To Be Read list is still miles long. 📚
5. Kyle Mooney on Saturday Night Live. 😂
6. The Cleveland Cavaliers 🏀
7. Music 🎶
8. My best friend is having a baby. 👶🏻
9. Jesus loves me. ❤️
10. My family is pretty rad. 👌🏼
11. I can re-watch The Office a couple more times this year. 🖨
12. Star gazing 🌌
13. Feminism ✊🏼
14. I can look forward to lilacs blooming in the spring. 🌱
15. Rainy days 🌧
16. Road trips with my sisters 🛣
17. Sunsets 🌅
The reasons I've listed are specific to me and I know most of them will not apply to everyone, but my hope is that my list will inspire you to create your own list of reasons to stick around in 2017. Don't feel bad if you can't come up with 17, just one reason to stick around is reason enough.
And don't forget to add The H.O.P.E. Collective to your list because we are here for you and we care about you.
We would love to hear your reason(s) for sticking around in 2017! Share your list with us!
Here's to 2017! 🍾 May we discover new reasons everyday to stick around!
In the past I have put a lot of pressure on the new year. Making a new new years resolution or three can be a great idea, but it can also be frustrating and disheartening. I always find myself making these big resolutions that are nearly impossible to follow through or maybe not impossible, but they feel impossible.
I think that we all tend to view the new year as a clean slate and we feel the need to mark it with grand resolutions. I think we forget that each new day can be a clean slate. We do not have to wait for the new year to start over. And we do not have to make great, big resolutions. You don’t have to make a resolution that in 2017 you will learn a new language, teach yourself to play the violin, lose/gain weight and travel the globe. When you reach the end of 2017 and maybe haven’t been able to accomplish any of these goals most likely you, like myself, would feel like a failure.
So instead, we could resolve to learn one new word in a new language every week, listen to more classical music, eat healthier and visit one new place this year. Less is often so much more. Even if your resolutions are silly or small like mine. This new years I have resolved I will have mastered three things by the end of 2017.
1. I am going learn to rap the entire theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
2. I’m going to learn how to apply perfect winged eyeliner to myself.
and 3. I’m going to memorize Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allen Poe.
Simple, I know, but this year, I decided that I wasn’t going to start the year by setting myself up for failure. Instead I’m choosing not to take the new year as seriously as I normally do. My resolutions are silly, but doable. They won’t cause me stress and I’ll have fun working on them. And I plan on treating each new day, or hour or even minute if I need to, like a clean slate.
This new years I encourage you to put less pressure on yourself and have fun with your resolutions. If you make a mistake or feel like a failure try to remember that each new day, hour or minute can be fresh start.
Happy New Year!
If you're like me, you may have mixed feelings about your parents. I'm here to tell you that is completely valid.
Growing up, I was fairly close to my mom, although our relationship was often superficial.
If you grew up close to one or both of your parents, it can be difficult to realize when they are toxic or emotionally abusive towards you. However, recognizing their toxic behaviour doesn’t mean that they don't love you, or that you don't love them.
In fact, they probably love you a lot. Your parent can love you and still be toxic to your growth.
In my case, my mom was preventing me coming to terms with my gender and sexual identity and contributing greatly to my anxiety. However, in her mind, she felt she was doing the right thing. Regardless, that doesn't make her words any less toxic to me and it is valid for me to distance myself from her.
Some parents can genuinely love you with their entire hearts, but they may lack emotional maturity. This forces you to perform unfair amounts of emotional labor to carry the relationship.
Some parents have mental illnesses themselves, and they may manifest their symptoms in ways that harm you. It is okay to acknowledge that they are harming you.
Some parents desperately want to be good parents, but they continuously fall back on habits of emotional manipulation because they haven't processed their own traumas or because they are modelling toxic behaviours they had to deal with while they were growing up. That doesn't make their actions towards you acceptable. It is okay to feel exhausted or hurt by their behaviours. You are not obligated to forgive every mistake.
I want you to know that it is okay to protect yourself or to need space from them. The love you have for your parents is still valid.
This fall, I have had to place a safe emotional distance between my mom and I, and in the past I have had to distance myself from my father. This has been one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make. I struggled with feelings of guilt, of questioning my own feelings, and I needed constant validation from others that I was doing the right thing.
If distancing yourself from a parent is something you need to do, I promise you are not being hard-hearted or ungrateful. You are not abandoning them. You are making a decision to protect your own emotional and mental health, and I am so proud of you for that.
I understand what it's like to be in a confusing, grey area of love mixed with guilt, anxiety and resentment, of exhaustion and unreciprocated emotional labor. I promise, you are not the only person who feels this way. You are not alone. It is okay and valid and you are so brave to take the steps you need to in order to protect yourself and to grow as an individual.
~T R U S T~
Trust is a scary thing. Growing up I spent a lot of time hiding from people. Making friends and getting close to people meant being open and honest about my past, and my pain. The risk was just too high; in my mind trusting someone with so much of myself only opened up the possibility for more pain.
Telling my boyfriend about my mental illness was a huge step for me, even opening up to, and being honest with my friends comes with difficulties. But what I have learned is that the risk is worth it. Because people will surprise you. There are so many people, just waiting to help you - waiting to love you - and all you have to do is let them.
And it can be hard, I know, because not everyone knows how to handle your pain. But for those who genuinely try - and you will be able to tell who is genuinely trying - don't push them away. Don't be so afraid to let people love you.
At the end of the day they may not have the perfect words to say in a moment of crisis. But simply having a friend to call, having someone to hug you while you cry, having someone who understands your need to sit in silence and breathe, those friends count for so much.
And there are people who want to be there for you. There is always someone willing to be there if you let them. To be honest, most people won't be able to carry you. But you will find that having someone to hold your hand and walk next to you is enough.
This week, I reached 1000 days self harm free.
Six years ago if you had told me that I was going to even be alive today, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy.
I would have told you that there was no way I could survive the hell I was walking through.
I don't know how to count the number of times I caused myself harm, or the number of bad days that I've had.
I am incapable of finding the words to explain just how difficult the past nine years have been.
I've walked through relapse after relapse, and felt like a failure after every single one.
I've struggled to find light in darkness, and fought with myself and others just to stay alive.
Through this struggle, I have experienced many things, and learned many lessons, possibly the most important one being this:
Progress is progress, no matter how small.
We all have something holding us back.
Holding us hostage, and keeping us from living life to the fullest.
For some of us, it's mental health related.
For others, it's an addiction, traumatic life event, or a person.
You are capable of recovering. You are capable of getting through this.
Whether today is day 1, or day 1000, you can do this.
Progress is progress.
If you're anything like me, you've probably been stuck in the trap of expectations and self hate.
I've felt like I had to live up to the expectations society, parents, peers and even myself had set for me. I spent a lot of time hating myself and wishing I was someone else. I worried so much about what I wasn't and I never stopped and thought about everything that I am.
In my mind, I wasn't smart enough, pretty enough, cool enough, just wasn't enough in general. I dug myself into a hole of self hate I felt like I could never escape. Not even the most genuine compliments helped me to feel like I was enough.
Next time you start to think about every thing you are not, try to remember everything you are. It won't happen overnight, but what you and I have to realize is we all have something to offer. You have something to offer and the world would not be the same without you. You are enough. Every part that makes you you is important to who you are, and what makes you so valuable.
Once I realized that I was enough, I started to love myself again. I started to see that I was kind, creative, and important. Instead of putting myself down, I decided to lift myself up. I know some days this concept is much easier said than done and I still catch myself slipping into negative thought patterns and falling into that self hate trap. Some days are better than others and life is not perfect.
Even the most confident have bad days, but just try to remember one key to loving yourself is seeing yourself for who you really are and who you really are is enough. Remember that you have more to offer than self doubt and expectations, you have value and nothing can take that away from you.
When you’ve been going through hard times, it can be hard to feel like good will come again. And when good does come along, it can be even harder to trust that it will stay.
When I’ve been dealing with life’s difficulties and it finally starts to seem like things are looking up, I can’t help but feel scared. Even if things are going well, I worry they’ll take a turn for the worse at any moment.
But life is always going to have good and bad times, no matter what. There are always going to be things beyond our control, things we can’t plan for, and things we can’t fix right away.
In the midst of bad times, everything can feel hopeless. It feels like trying to make your way through a long, tough night with no end in sight.
But no matter what, at the end of that night, the sun will still rise.
There might be times that are dark, and you might only have one good day before the difficult times return again. But the goodness of that one day isn’t negated by the bad days surrounding it. It was still a good day, even if it didn’t last long. The sun still rose for you. As hard as it may sometimes be, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to embrace the good as it comes.
Good isn’t just found when the whole day is good; good is also found in all the little moments in between. Good is smiling and laughing at your favorite TV show. Good is the moment of peace you find when you have a few minutes to read a book you love. Good is getting a text or a phone call from a loved one and knowing they’re thinking of you. Good is practicing self-care and doing things that keep you safe and healthy.
The sun will always set at the end of the day. But in the morning, it will always rise again.
Hold on until morning, because just as the sun will rise, so will you.
Rise above the storm. There, you will find sunshine.
We all run in to storms. For some of us, it's a little rain. For others, it's a hurricane. The rain comes down, and it feels like the wind is going to destroy us and everything around us.
Rise above the storm.
There is a calm. There is peace. There is bright, sunny warmth, just above those clouds. Nothing says we can't reach that sun. Planes do it every day. Hundreds and hundreds of them fly above the clouds in that sun. And you can too.
Rise above your storm and find your sun.
I haven't gotten through my storm yet. But you know what? That's okay. Because I will. I will get through my storm and find my sun. I've had the honor of watching others, including my fellow volunteers, break through their clouds and fun their sun. And you can do it too. We all can.
It might not be today or tomorrow, but we will break through and find that sun. That is a promise.
When bad things happen, especially things that have a big impact on us, it’s not uncommon to find a way to blame ourselves. After all, if it’s our fault, that means we have some control over the situation. And having control means that maybe next time, we can stop more bad from happening.
Unfortunately, though, the truth is that sometimes bad things just happen. And just because bad things happen to you, it does not make you a bad person.
We can’t control everything. The bad things are just as much a part of life as the good things. It might hurt and it might be difficult, but it doesn’t have to negatively define our character.
Sometimes, it helps to take an honest, objective look at a situation. Think of it this way- if a friend told you that the bad thing that happened to you had happened to them instead, what would you say to them? Would you think it was their fault? Or would you tell them that it wasn’t them, that they couldn’t have controlled it, and that they’re not to blame?
Be your own friend. Forgive yourself. Know that even the worst things that happen to you do not make you a worse person for going through them.
No matter what has happened to you, no matter what you’ve been through or what you’re going through, you are not at fault for everything. You are not a bad person for having gone through bad or scary or hurtful things. You are simply a very good person who bad things have happened to.
I am rooting for you. We’re all rooting for you. You can’t control everything, and that’s okay. But I promise, you are not a bad person. And things will get better.