Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I worry about most with SMI and our next president

I'm worried.

I'm very worried.

I'm so worried it makes me sick to my stomach sometime.

Why, you ask?

Because serious mental illness is not a joke, but looking at the presidential candidates from the two major parties, they seem to think it is.

What is serious mental illness, if not a joke? It's bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder. Diseases that significantly impact a person's quality of life. They're not words that you toss around so nonchalantly as if they have no real long lasting consequences.

I'm afraid because we've made some progress in the areas of SMI, like with allocating funds for the treatment of it, and helping move persons with SMI out of the jails and into hospitals, but I fear for the backsliding of all this good if we elect in a person who doesn't have the slightest bit of appreciation for what mental is, and is not.

Mental illness has a long history of being taboo, and a death sentence, politically speaking, for any politician. This seems to have led to some kind of cognitive dissonance to the subject. Politicians regularly have smear campaigns against their rivals, calling them 'nuts,', 'crazy', 'deranged'. And then this thinking seems to lend its way into the way they vote as well. Many politicians are confused, and know very little about just how devastating mental illness is, especially without safeguards in place to protect some of our most vulnerable members of society.

How does this language help us have an honest talk about mental illness in general, and SMI specifically? I feel it doesn't.

I happened to google the words 'Donald Trump and mental illness policies', and there was very little on the subject to be found, but there was plenty of wild speculations of his own mental health there. I then googled 'Hillary Clinton and mental health policies', and there was a bit more of meat to her mental health policies, but still a good amount of articles trying to discredit her because of speculations on her mental health.

I feel that people with these ideals are not likely to understand the complex issues that surround SMI, and therefore will not appreciate the power they yield to help or harm the mental illness community by signing off on bills that will undoubtedly come before them over the next 4 years.

Until we have a president who appreciates the severity and nuances of SMI, we will not have the voice we need to be heard, the voice that affects real change. And by watching the candidates we have now, I feel this is not the our time to have that drastic change we so desperately need. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ten ways parent when you're having a rough time

Parenting is hard work on the best of days. But when you add in something like depression, for some people it becomes nigh on unbearable. I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but I do have bipolar disorder myself, and after having fought with the ups and downs of that for the last 10 years, I've put together my own little list of things that have helped me be the best parent possible when I've just want to crawl under a rock and hide instead of dealing with those darling monsters I helped create.

1. Take care of yourself! Being sleep deprived, not eating, forgetting to shower can and will make those long days with your kids even longer and put everyone on edge. Adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you don't eat, you will be grumpier and more prone to mood swings and bouts of irritability or crying spells. Showering every day will improve your mood and will give you one thing that you can check off your list of things you've accomplished that day.

2. Exercise as much as is feasible. This is a hard one for me. When I'm depressed, getting up and walking to the fridge is too much exercise. Rolling over on the couch is too much exercise. But research has proven that a little bit of movement, eve just a 15 minute walk can help lift the mood. Load your kids up in the stroller and take them to the park. It'll feel like an impossible task, but the benefits are worth it. You're creating memories with your kids, and helping your mood at the same time. Win-win, right?  If you've got a friend or family member who can help encourage you to go out, take their advice and walk with them. I promise you, it's worth it.

3. Stick to a simple routine, don't let chaos ensue. Even if you're depressed, or maybe especially if you're depressed, having a simple routine can help keep the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness at bay. It can be as simple as 'wake up, playtime, lunch time, quiet time, snack, playtime, dinner, movie time, bedtime'. Don't make things harder on yourself than they need to be.

4. Let your kids be as independent as age appropriate will allow. If they want to have PBJs 3 nights in a row, and can fix them themselves, have at it. Fish sticks in the microwave? It's AOK. A summer dress with snow boots? No problem. As long as your child is safe, and supervised to the level they need to be supervised at, it's okay that you're not being Suzy Homemaker with them right now.

5. Concentrate on the absolute 'have to's' not 'want to's'. You need to change the baby's diaper in the morning. You want to clean and organize her room some. That can wait until you've got more energy or have some help.

6. Ask for outside help! Let your support system take the kids to the park, or over to their house for a few hours while you get a break. Go get a break at the bookstore with a friend while the kids stay with another caregiver. It's important that you take care of you when you're feeling depleted.

7. Find a supportive person to lean on while you're struggling. It could be a trusted friend, a therapist, a family member, a clergyman, anyone who you feel safe talking to that can help keep you making it through each day. This support person can be the one that really helps encourage you to keep trying each day, even when things look super hard. A good support person will be an empathetic ear, is good at validating your emotions, and respects your privacy.

8. Think 'good enough' instead of 'never enough'. If you need to get paper plates and cups so you're doing less dishes, there's no shame in that. If you've ordered take out twice this week, so what? The kids have been fed. Don't let your perceptions of what others may think get you even more down. That's a negative spiral that doesn't help you at all.  Anything to simplify your life right now is a good idea. If you do laundry and the kids have clean clothes, who cares if they're folded or not? It okay to practice this idea of 'good enough'. We live in an age of 'never enough', where we are never a good enough mother, or we never spend enough time with our kids, or never volunteer enough at our kids' school. And it's not right. We are enough just as we are, right now.

9. Practice self-compassion for when you slip up and are hard on your kids. It's going to happen. You're going to yell at your kid. Or not feel like doing something they want to do. Or not put jammies on them and they sleep in the same clothes they wore the day before. And then wear those same clothes all day the next day. It's okay. You don't make a habit out of this. If you were feeling well, this would be a non-issue. If you had a friend who was going through a depression, what would you say to her right now? Would you judge and condemn her for losing her cool, or would you give her a hug and say, "Hey, we all have rough days. You'll get through this. I love you. I'm here for you."? Why can't you tell yourself that? Practice loving yourself.

10. Get regular physicals. If things continue to look bleak and dark, consider getting checked out by your doctor to make sure there's nothing more serious going on. Low vitamin D levels or thyroid issues can cause depression, and just the stress of having children can be hard on many women as well. As always, seek immediate treatment if you have thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else.

In conclusion, getting past a depressive episode is NOT easy! Especially when you've got little ones counting on you for their survival! I beg you to not run faster than you have strength. Things might seem bleak and discouraging now, but like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight 'The night is always darkest before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.". I know that's probably the lamest thing ever, holding onto a promise from a fictional character, coming from an internet blogger, but that promise has gotten me through some of the darkest days of my life. So although your kids may drive you up a wall, and you may feel overwhelmed, or hopeless, or thoroughly discouraged that you're not living fully in the moment with your children, know that this feeling will pass, and joy and light will come again.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Self compassion when you're a bipolar parent

I've made some pretty poor choices as a mom over the years. And because of this mom guilt thing that is so permeated in our culture, it's been damn hard to forgive myself and move past it. In fact, I can't say that I have moved past a lot of the mistakes I've made. Add in a mental illness like bipolar disorder to the mix, and you've got a perfect storm of shame and remorse waiting to drown you in it's waters.

Late last year, my husband and daughter went out to the movies so I could stay in and have a relaxing night to myself. Unbeknownst to my husband, I'd been struggling quite seriously with suicidal thoughts and while he and my oldest were out at the movies, I made the very poor choice to take a few bottles of pills and attempt to end my life. Fortunately I'd been talking with a friend that day who was able to realize that I was in a very dark spot and she sent the sheriff's department out to check on me. This led to my husband getting a phone call as he was leaving the movie from a deputy letting him know that I'd attempted suicide and was at the local ER. Like I said, I've done some terrible things since I became a mom.This was one of those terrible things.

Having a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder and trying to be a 'good' parent can often feel like an effort in futility. Why should I even try because I'll never be good enough. I'll never be as good as my coworker who manages to get to work on time every day, I'll never be as good as my neighbor who gets a cooked dinner put on the table every night for her family. I'll never be as good as the PTA president who volunteers every week at my kids' school. When am I going to wake up and see that my good enough is enough? That all these 'never enough's' is destroying my self esteem? I have a job, that is enough. I feed my family, that is enough. My kids are doing fine in school, that is enough. I can't look at everyone's strengths, and feel less than just because it's not one of mine. I mean, there's the saying, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." That is so applicable here.

So where is the lighthouse in this storm of shame and remorse? I know for me, it's self-compassion. Treating myself kindly, and with respect, and with empathy when I mess up is the key to helping me get through a shameful moment of treating my children poorly. When you've practiced self compassion and have told yourself you're still okay no matter what, then you're making progress. Shame is when you are telling yourself 'I am bad." Guilt is when you're telling yourself 'I did a bad thing'. See the difference? Even though I missed the school play because I was in the hospital, or because they saw me laying on the couch for days on end because I was too depressed to take care of myself, or because they had to shoulder on too much responsibility around the house as children, I'm still not a bad person. 

Although I'm talking about self compassion here, shame thrives in secrecy, and can't abide being brought into the light of day. Once you've told yourself you're okay, if you can, find an empathetic person that you trust to be vulnerable with, and share with them how you're feeling. Share these experiences with them, with someone who will listen empathetically, someone who will hopefully simply say, 'me too'. This will help you overcome the shame you feel and make you realize you are okay and make you feel worthy of the love and belonging you deserve to have. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What does isolation look like with bipolar disorder?

Imagine a desert. A hot, empty desert. A hot, empty desert full of sand and mirages. Nothing else.

And you're there. Struggling to find the oasis. But there's all these mirages throwing you for a loop.

What do you do?

Do you curl up and assume all is lost, or do you press on, trusting one of those mirages will end up being the water you so desperately need?

This is my life with bipolar disorder. And those mirages are the voices in my head telling me I have no-one, and I shouldn't even try reaching out, because even if I did have someone, no-one cares anyway.

When I'm feeling alone and like I need to reach out for help, suddenly I'm thrown into the desert. And I can't find an oasis because I've curled up and assumed all is lost.

Fortunately, I'm not really alone. And people do care. A search party has been enlisted to find me in that desert, and the oasis I need is super close by. Even if I've laid down belly up, the people around me haven't.

Isolation in the real world, desert aside, doesn't look like it does in the movies. There's no freedom there, no moving image of me high in the mountains, all alone, breathing in that crisp mountain air, being rejuvenated. In all actuality, I'm trapped. Trapped in my head. With the negative thought distortions there to make sure I stay put.

And to stay trapped, my body cooperates with those evil thoughts telling me to not reach out. I become a recluse. I stay under the covers of my bed all day reading Orson Scott Card novels. I listen to Tori Amos. I don't hold my morning socials at my house. I stop doing the chores that need to be done to keep my house clean. All minor things in and of themselves, but when combined, it's a sure sign I'm isolating.

How can I stop this from spiraling from simple isolation to full blown depression?

For one, people notice when I start isolating. And they don't let me mull with my thoughts very long. My support team, the one consisting of my family and close friends, force me to go out and do things, even when I'd rather do anything else in the world than be with company.

And for another. I reach out in small ways. I don't lie when people ask me how I'm doing. I let them know that I'm struggling with the 'voices' in my head.

My one random thing I do, is when I start isolating and feeling like I don't matter, I read this list of wonderful things about me, that a friend and I compiled several months ago. It makes me smile every time I read it, and it reminds me that I do have worth, and don't deserve to be alone.

And lastly, I accept people's concern for me, and recognize that even if I don't want to do what everyone is inviting me to do, I know deep down I'll feel better for having gone out and done it. So I force myself to do hard things.

Letting people close to you know that when you start isolating it is a red flag for more a downward spiral, can help a lot. It's what I've done, and now my husband s very vigilant in helping keep me afloat, even when I want to submerge below the cool waters. I know for a fact that he's helped keep a minor hiccup from turning into a major episode.

So, when you find yourself in that desert, hold on fast to the knowledge that there is a search party that's been deployed. And you will be found. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Struggling with winter

When the seasons change, what do I do with as a person with bipolar?

Seasons changing is a dangerous thing when you live with a mood disorder.

When the weather gets colder, and it starts getting darker earlier, there is a good chance your mood is going to shift as well.

I know this because I live it every year. I don't struggle with Fall, or Spring, but I'll be damned if I don't get knocked down every Summer and Winter...especially Winter.

There's just something magical about the dark nights, the bitter cold, and the holidays arriving. Something magically dark and dangerous, much like the Nothing from the Neverending Story.

I do wonderfully up until Halloween, and then on November 1st, it's like a switch goes off in my brain that says 'Holy shit! You're doing awesome! Let's wreak some havoc!'. And then I spiral downward, in a rapid succession.

How can you prevent the most tragic of spirals during the winter months? I don't have all the answers, but I have discovered some techniques that have really helped me the last 3 years.

First of all, I discuss it beforehand with my therapist. We know what to watch for with me months in advance. I don't surprise her with my internal struggles once they're at a crisis level.

Second of all, I have a game plan that my entire support team is aware of, and on board with. My therapist knows what my psych is thinking, and my husband knows what everyone is thinking. And vice versa. There can't be deep dark secrets when it comes to staying safe during a potential time of difficulty.

Third of all, I make time to do things that I value, and decide (before the crisis hits) that I will do them no matter what obstacles I may throw up. For example, it's a very important tradition to me to take my kids to go see the lights at Temple Square in SLC each year. It's one that me and my kids both treasure. We make the journey no matter what. Since that is such an important tradition to me, I make the decision beforehand that no matter how I'm feeling, or how my husband is feeling, the kids and I will make it there.

Fourth, I extend myself some leniency from the hustle and bustle that can happen during the winter months. I know that I'll need to take it slower than the average person, and might have to risk offending someone by turning down an invitation. But that's okay. It's me practicing self care.

And fifth, I try to go with the flow. I can't control everything. And that's okay. I want to control everything, that's something I'm aware I struggle with, so I fight it. The kids don't want to go caroling around the neighborhood? I'll sit down with them and color some cute pages out of our coloring books instead. I can't fight my 4 year old into her adorable new Christmas jumper? I'll softly sigh, 'Let it go" to myself.

Although this won't work for everyone, following this suggestions kept me out of the hospital last year for the first time in 3 years. It was beautiful. I fully plan on doing this again this year. In fact, preparations for my sanity have been underway for the last month now.

Of course, if you find yourself in a crisis situation, don't bother with these suggestions, seek medical care immediately. There are people who care, and want to help. Seek them out.

I wish all who struggle with mood disorders the best of winter seasons. Let's all make this year the best one yet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thank you to the therapist who really saw ME.

I was recently hospitalized for suicidal ideation, for the fourth time in 2 years. I was really struggling with myself, with my identity, my values, my beliefs. I didn't like myself. I honestly thought the world would be better off without me, and especially that my family would be better of without me. I live with bipolar disorder type I, and I go through some extreme mood swings because of it.  I had also made the poor decision to quit my medications because I was so sick of the way I looked. I was doing phenomenally mood wise. but I hated the way I felt about myself physically.

I was rather bitter about this hospital stay because my individual counselor had sent the Sheriffs out to find me, (I sent her a suicide note by text), and she responded appropriately by doing a welfare check. I didn't want to be found though, I really wanted to be dead; at least I thought that was the case. So I spent my first couple days sulking about how miserably unfair my life was. The therapist in the hospital was amazingly kind those first few days. I thought he was great until we had a therapy session with my husband. That's when he seemed to turn on me and laid it all bare just what type of person I really was.

He told me in no uncertain terms that I had a problem with always having to be right, and that I was annoying, and he thought I'd be almost impossible to live with, and that he didn't know how my husband did it.

He also told me though, that I had something innately likeable about me, something that made all those other qualities seem to diminish, and make me a wonderful person. He also said that even with me being a incredibly difficult person, there was something that was just charming about me, that radiated from me, even when I annoyed the hell out of people.

Of course, all I heard from that in those first few days was that I'm a terrible person who doesn't deserve to have anything good happen to her, but eventually it dawned on me that he had basically seen my soul, laid it bare, put words to it, and still found me a good person. And that changed my life.

Once I got through the processing of the hurtful things he said, I realized that he had said some wonderful things about me as well. And that was incredibly freeing.

The shocking thing about all of this is that I believed him. I honestly believed what he had told me because he was one of the most genuine people I'd ever met. I knew he wouldn't say something if he didn't think it to be the truth. And because of that, it sank in.

I changed because of that comment he made to me in our therapy session that day. I began to believe that I have value, that I have worth, and that I'm a good person. I know deep inside that although I can be an incredibly difficult person to handle at times, I'm still innately likeable. And that's enough for me. It doesn't matter if everyone doesn't like me, I still believe and hold onto the thought that I'm charming. Of all things, charming! I'm someone that deserves to be treated well and treated with respect because I am worthy of those things.

I don't know if this therapist will ever know how much of a profound effect he had on me, and how much he's changed my life, but I want to thank him. I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for seeing ME, the real me, the me hiding behind my layers of sarcasm and mean words.He had the audacity to tell me straight like it really is, and I admire that kind of bravery. He has given me the backbone to be myself, in all things, at all times, and in all places. I don't have to people please anymore. I know that I'm enough, just as I am. And his words helped make that a reality for me. And I am so grateful. So grateful. Thank you dear therapist, for giving me the courage to be authentic myself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hi again!

I don't think I'm ever going to be a completely regular writer. It's nigh on impossible to keep my blog updated, work on my book, and write articles for The Mighty. Not to mention cleaning my house, taking care of my kids, and taking care of me.

That's right! I've finally started on my book, for reals. I've got the whole first paragraph written out. I've also written my autobiography, which is the template for my book. I need 50,000 more words for my book, and I really feel I can do it!

Life is going. I went back into treatment in May, and quit my job too. It was a painful decision, deciding to quit my job, but I had to focus on me, and I couldn't do treatment and work anymore. It was too much.

Summer was great. We went to Disneyland, taking the kids for their first time ever. That was quite the experience. I really struggled with being there. I finally broke down after that trip, and recognized that my anxiety was bad enough that I really needed meds for it. My psych out me on Neurontin for it, and honestly, it changed my life. I'm so grateful.

I'm working on going to Haiti to serve orphans there that need our help. If anyone is interested, my daughter and I have a gofundme for this project. Here is the link if anyone is interested in helping us achieve our goal.

The kids started school, and this is the first year all four of the kids are in school. It's been so nice to have a few hours to myself everyday, except I've barely had anytime to myself really. It feels like every day something comes up to keep me from getting what I want done.

Josh and I are doing fantastically. In fact,we're doing so well we're no longer in marriage counseling. It's a Saturnalia miracle.

Mostly thought, and the most important thing, is that I'm doing well. I write about living with bipolar disorder, and right at this very moment, I have my bipolar doesn't have me,

Life has it's struggles, for sure, but I'm content. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I'm doing it!

Hi everyone! I know, I'm a total slacker when it comes to my blog...but it's for good reason! I've been super busy writing my autobiography, doing IOP, and...getting articles published on news sites! It's hard for me to blog when I wonder every time if what I'm writing could be an article instead.

But anywho, IOP. It ends tomorrow, and I'm super nervous about it. I've spent the last 8 weeks working my ass off in intensive outpatient therapy, and I'm really scared that the progress I've made in there is going to fade once I leave. It's been an  incredible experience. I first started out nervous as hell because I was surrounded by recovering drug addicts, and I felt completely out of my element. But I stuck it out, and I'm so glad I did. Many of these people were awesome human beings that I just had to get to know to help me overcome my bias towards addicts. I've learned so much about myself, and feel really good about the path I'm taking in life.

And my articles! So, Josh signed me up for an online course taught by Brene Brown, and I reluctantly started it. It's all about daring greatly, and stepping into the arena and being seen. I've worked so hard on me, and learning about me, and dealing with my inner shit that I've stuffed down for years and years, that I finally felt like I was in a good enough place to start writing again, And it's been amazing! I've written 4 articles since I discovered Daring Greatly, three of which I've done in the last 2 months. If you're interested in reading them, they are here, here, here, and here. I've also written another article and submitted it to the Huffington Post for consideration. I've got my fingers crossed that they respond favorably.

Speaking of daring greatly, and stepping into new arenas...I applied to be a speaker at the TEDx conference here in SLC. I'll know something by the end of April. I really hope I at least make it through round two of evaluations.

So good things are happening, even though I don't post blogs as much as I used to. I'll try and post at least once a week from here on out, just to give updates. We'll see who's reading, eh?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Broken, again

I've got writer's block.

And I'm on a precipice.

I'm always on a precipice; it feels like.I'm constantly walking this edge between stability and falling into oblivion. I'm getting so sick of this constant battle between staying sane and letting go. You've no clue just how much I want to let go, and let the chips fall where they will sometimes.Every time I get into an argument and I feel myself getting closer to snapping, I wonder, 'Is this it? Is this going to be the final straw?'

Although I really took what Finnick Odair said to heart, 'It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.' God knows I've fallen apart and put myself back together enough times to know picking up the pieces frickin blows, but this staying strong when it feels like agony is for the birds. Endure til the end. That's what I'm taught. But this just feels like it's never going to effing end.

I'm trying so hard to feel things, and I get awful close to an emotion, and I almost feel it, but then I recoil, super fast. It's torture.

So my blog is struggling, once again. I want to write, every day. But because I'm having so many issues with my emotions, and being vulnerable, the words can't come out of my brain onto the keyboard.

In exciting news though, one of my articles is going to be published! I dared greatly, and The Mighty picked it up to feature! I can't wait! Well, I can wait, I'm terrified, but I'm so excited at the same time! And I'm continuing to step out and be seen, although Scary Mommy rejected my other article, I submitted it to HuffPo this morning, and I'm nervously waiting to see what happens there.

I think I'm going to start my book. I've got a few chapters outlined. And I've got my journals from my teens out in my garage. I kind of want to go through them. I'm not sure if I'm in a good spot emotionally yet to handle that or not, I'm going to talk to my therapist about that, but I know I'm getting closer to being ready. That's always good right? I want to get my charts from my hospital stays from the last decade, and go through them, and start writing. This is the closest I've ever been to being really serious about getting it done. It feels scary, but doable now. And that's huge for me! Wow.

Hopefully this writer's block lifts soon and I get my ideas back. I've got so many ideas I want to touch on, but the words just won't come. I'll get there though, I'll get there. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gratitude in all things

It's been a rough couple of weeks for me. I made it through though. I had the support of some really incredible people, and I was able to avoid a potential disaster. I can't even put into words just how blessed I feel I am. I've never felt this surrounded by love and oneness by people in my life.

What made this tumultuous struggle different than any other time when I've slipped into a depressive episode? Well for one, I reached out immediately. I reached out to the right people. I didn't call on a poor unassuming friend who loves me, but has absolutely no background in mental health and is hopelessly out of her element when it comes to dealing with a friend who is suicidal. So I called my therapist. And when I couldn't reach my therapist, I called my religious leader (who happens to be a therapist) and didn't mind helping me out in a crisis.

For another, I opened up. I didn't shut down and let the voices in my head rule the day. I admitted that I was having some serious problems, and that I was scared, and I didn't know what the eff was going on. I talked even when talking was the last thing I wanted to do. Even though I wasn't great about keeping people updated, I didn't turn into a hermit completely, I forced myself to go out of my shell and talk, talk, talk.

I talked to my boss and told her I was having a bipolar episode and that I was trying to keep it under control, but it was kind of kicking my trash at the moment. That was one of the best things I could have done because she normalized it for me. She said everyone there needed time off to get their heads on straight, that I wasn't alone in this. She pretty much told me I was having a mental health week and getting myself some help and gave me a week to do whatever I needed to do to without the stress of work on my back. Have I mentioned before how much I love my job?

The hardest conversation was telling Josh that I was suicidal because well, that's never a fun conversation, now is it? He handled it so well, and that was really the turning point for me. That was when I really felt like I might make it through this without needing to off myself. If I can keep talking, I might be able to talk myself out of this.

I used the crap out of my coping skills. I took it hour by hour some days. Minute by minute some hours. Second by second some minutes. It's just so hard. Being bipolar is so hard. You feel like you're on this cliff. And you're balancing there, so precariously balancing. Waving one foot in the air, scrambling for purchase with other, not sure if you're going to be tossed into the insanity below, or if you're going to be able to grab and hold onto the cold ground of reason you're so desperately reaching for.

I want to say that I was so incredibly lucky to have such a great support system surrounding me, but well, it wasn't luck. I've worked my ass off to surround myself by loving people who care for me and have my best interests at heart. That's not luck, that's me making progress to being a healthier person. I am blessed though. So blessed to have met the incredible people who are in my life now.

And I'm grateful. I'm grateful to have gone through this past experience. It's the first time I can recall where I've been suicidal and not have made an attempt nor have landed in the hospital. I feel humbled to be sitting here sharing this experience with you because it's an amazing thing to have gone through. It really puts into sharp relief where I was a year ago and where I am now. I might not see it, but the work I'm doing in therapy is truly making a difference in my life. And for that I can only be grateful.