Why I need and love your love, but why it still can’t fix me

A letter to the love of my life and to those who’ve ever deeply, authentically loved me.

To my loved ones,

I am aware I am a lot. I am heavy. I am a bowling ball, an anvil, a two-ton block. I am sometimes the shackles on your legs and sometimes the heavy frustrated sigh at 3 a.m. when you just want to get some sleep. I am sometimes the worry in your voice, the tears in your eyes, and the anger in your tone. Sometimes I am too much.

I am not naïve enough to believe the best people always stay. It’s true that sometimes I am too heavy. I am too restrictive for the airways. I don’t let you breathe because I cannot breathe and it’s not that I’m choking you intentionally, but I need your air, and you don’t have enough to share with me; in those cases, I understand.

Sometimes you come back.

Sometimes you don’t.

Sometimes you never leave.

Regardless, support like yours is and has been crucial to my survival. Without people like you, I would not be alive. I would have never experienced happiness or a semblance wellness; I say that with certainty. Human beings are social animals. We need love and tenderness. We need to be challenged in a way that helps us grow. We need to be nurtured and listened to and noticed. Each of us has our own identity that is truly fostered by the people around us. I have been greatly hurt. I have been traumatized to my core. But I’ve also been uplifted by people greater than I could imagine.

People are important to people.

But when I talk about illness, I talk about disease.

Continue reading “Why I need and love your love, but why it still can’t fix me”

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5 mental health myths frequently popularized by mental wellness culture

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so many months. I need to come back to this blog, because it really helps me to write in it. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write for a few days now and thought this is a good a topic as any. I’ve been seeing some things related to these anyway that brought this to mind, so I thought I’d share. Feel free to leave your thoughts as well.

5 mental health myths frequently popularized by mental wellness culture

1. Nobody will love you until you love yourself.

This is a common phrase we hear in hospitals, self-esteem workshops, therapy, etc. It is both demeaning and inaccurate, perpetuating a cycle of self-hatred and loneliness that stems from feeling unloved and unwanted. While confidence does win relationship successes, romantic, platonic, and otherwise, never let anyone make you feel you are unlovable just because you feel unloveable. At my lowest dips in my self-esteem, I’ve had the best relationships I’ve ever had with people who have helped me pull through those tough times, and I have met them during periods of low confidence as well. While confidence certainly does make a person more attractive, more magnetic, that is not a lone trait that people look for. People also look for many other qualities, and it varies by person to person. I have not had a lot of successful relationships, but the strong bridges I have built are made of iron.

2. You can’t love anybody until you love yourself.

This is another, albeit less common, phrase that circulates around mental wellness culture. While I do think it is unwise and ultimately impossible to try to take care of other people when you cannot take care of yourself, I firmly believe you can love other people and still have poor self-esteem. Our self-worth affects our view of the world, sure, and it does color our relationships and our opinions of others’ motives, etc. But I know people — myself included — who feel great love for others while not feeling great love for themselves.

3. You’ll feel better if you talk about it.

This one I have to be careful with, because yes, it works for a lot of people. It’s why talk therapy is a thing. It’s why many people journal, why support groups exist, etc. But like all coping skills, every one of them works differently for everybody, and not all of them actually work effectively for anybody. There are endless ways to cope with something, both positively or negatively. Taking long showers, painting, exercising, making lists and plans are some of the ways I cope with my stress. I also talk about it. I talk about it a lot. Talking about it, however, does not help me, and that is why I have had therapy for 15 years and it has, thus far, been fairly useless to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve learned a lot. As you can see from this blog, I use a lot of knowledge gained “in the system” and make references and terms often used “in the system.” But much of what I’ve gained has been gained on my own, in practice, or through hospitalizations. But in therapy, I talk. I “open up.” I open up to my therapist, to my friends, to my family. And I only feel better once we get sidetracked in the conversation. Talking about my problems is not helpful to me. If there are solutions, talking about those can be, but let’s face it, life doesn’t always have solutions for the kinds of problems we face. Everyday life is hard. Stressors come up that aren’t always “fixable” and are ongoing; permanent. You can’t really talk about those things without going half-mad and just falling down the rabbit hole with your own negativity. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on other things. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on better conversations.

4. The Law of Attraction

Some people might really want to fight me on this one, because self-help books like The Secret et cetera have really “changed” people’s lives, I guess. Many people claim the Law of Attraction is nothing short of “miraculous,” and once they began to “adhere” to it, their lives just “fell into place.” I see the value in it; I do. And I think that, largely, it does make a lot of sense. Like #1, in which confidence or a healthy attitude would attract healthy relationships, the Law of Attraction states that positive energy attracts positive things or more positive energy and conversely, negative energy attracts negative things or more negative energy. Yes, it makes sense. Many people who are pessimistic and expect the worst of people will get the worst in people. This is for a few reasons. The first is that they already see the worst in people, and the second reason, one could argue, is something like the Law of Attraction. But the Law of Attraction isn’t a law. It is a guideline. It is a loose philosophy, an idea which improves your life but does not necessarily rule your life.

Like I explained with #1, I’ve been in bad situations and have been met with overwhelming positive energy and people before. The world doesn’t work on rules and statutes. It really doesn’t. It’s a bit of a free-for-all; kind of chaotic. A lot of it is about luck. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. A lot of it, too, is what you have in you, but a lot of it is about luck. I’ve encountered some very beautiful people and some very ugly people at different stages of my life. It hasn’t really mattered. You want to be positive; you should be positive, of course. But just because you aren’t doesn’t mean you earn negative things. Just because you feel overwhelmingly depressed doesn’t mean you deserve to be mistreated or that you will be. You are likelier to be in an unstable relationship than someone who is healthy and confident, because someone who is healthy and confident is less likely to take someone else’s crap, but that’s because they’re healthy and confident, not because their energy is repelling the wrong person. Please remember that.

At 17, I was told in a partial hospitalization program, after watching The Secret for something like fourteen days in a row that every trauma beyond my prepubescence was my fault because I was so depressed. I believed it for a long time, because I had been indoctrinated with this inane idea that because I had bad thoughts and bad feelings, was bad, and I deserved bad things. Don’t do that to yourself, and don’t let anybody do that to you.

5. The only love you should need is your own.

Again, this is one I want to be careful on, because there’s a good reason this one is circulated. Ideally, this is true. It’s important to love yourself, regardless of whether or not you are loved by anyone else. You want to get there someday.  But I believe some people are just not this independent, or that they are more people-oriented than others. Some people need extra support, whether they love themselves or not. Another person’s love cannot fix you. But I’ve learned over the years that sometimes external love is necessary to help heal someone, because sometimes you just don’t have enough on your own. I’m not talking about romantic love necessarily. Support from a friend or a family member can be counted, too. I’ve been helped a lot from friends and family in the past. But I know I would have never made it this far on my own. I need love from other people. Ultimately, I know I need love from myself. That is what will make me happy. But love from other people is what has kept me alive. I don’t think everybody needs it. I think many people are strong enough on their own. But some people aren’t. I’m not. And that is okay. I think it’s okay to forgive oneself for that. It’s important to forgive oneself for that. And I think it’s important to forgive someone else for that, and that is something the mental wellness culture does not really do. It is so concerned with self-reliance that it makes needing support and needing love seem too much like dependence when there is definitely a line between them.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? What are some things you’ve faced that you feel are myths? Please share in the comments below.

It’s been a while.

We are halfway through 2017, and I haven’t written in months. I have been hit by a strong wave of depression, and while trying to commit to usual self-care routines, I have not yet brought myself out of the void. I am tired and sad and weak. The only thing keeping me going right now is the love that I am surrounding myself with, which brings me to a point I haven’t really covered yet.

Many people recycle the line that you have to love yourself before you are loved, but please don’t listen to them. I think there’s credence to that in a sense that when you harp about people leaving, people will tend to leave, but it goes no further than that. I have coped for years in my past with self hatred and have been loved tremendously and wholly regardless, and for someone to further shame you for hating yourself is ludacris; don’t listen to it.

While we can’t control other people and we don’t have full control on who comes into our life, we do have more control over who stays in our life than we realize. Family is of course more difficult, especially when we are under 18, but for a great portion of our life, we can control the kind of love we accept and the kind of love we refuse. This is crucial to quality of life. Even as an introvert, I can safely say positive social interaction is as vital as food and water to human life.

Surround yourself with people who enrich you; who allow you to grow; who are honest with you and respectful; who are communicative and expressive, especially during times of conflict. Be a person who enriches others; who allows others to grow; who is honest and respectful; who is communicative and expressive, especially during times of conflict. This nurtures your spirit. This nurtures the world.

I strongly believe in self-sufficiency and self-reliance; I can even say I admire it above almost all else. But I am far away from it on my journey still, and I would be not be alive without the people who have supported me and who support me now. I will expand more on the concept of recovery from abuse soon, as suffering from abuse related PTSD, trauma from abuse is a huge and serious issue to me that I know all too intimately. But for now, I’m exhausted. For now, this is all I can do. I hope everyone is well today.

Sending all my love.

 

V.

On bridges

Let me begin with this:

I am pretty good at reading people. Unless I’m unusually invested at the time in building a bridge, I can usually and clearly see who is on the other end. The cruel irony of that is not lost to me. I see red flags, and I see them early, but I’ve been known to ignore them, especially during my lowest and most lonely points in which building bridges seems direly important. Once I consciously chose to ignore red flags, there were none that would keep me away. It didn’t matter if the flags were red with fresh blood, because I would make up reasons to build that bridge. Connection is important to me. Humans are important to me. Bridges are how I explore and travel the world. It’s a dangerous system, and I know it, but this is what brings me the most wisdom.

The importance of heeding your gut

Continue reading “On bridges”

Where do we land?

I overwhelmingly connect to the term “Empath.” I am intuitive. I have lived many lives behind many faces. I understand many of the synapses and bridges people find and forge; and while I maintain that the Taste Bud Principle is cosmic “law,” I feel more closely to a person’s pain than I ever feel to a person.

Continue reading “Where do we land?”

An Open Letter.

Hello, traumas.

Let me begin simply by saying you are no longer welcome here.

Your abusers’ language and actions are motivated by a voracious hunger for control, lack of conscience and/or lack of empathy, and deep insecurity. Thus, with me having recognized this, your abusers’ behavior will no longer find my empathy, fear, or obedience. I am not yours to do with what you want. I am not yours to damage.

I am simply not yours.

The people whom you’ve saddled me with have all had problems; it’s true. No one would try to destroy someone else out of a healthful self-love. You’ve sent me ruins of trauma. You’ve sent me shells of people. You’ve sent me killers, rapists, pedophiles, torturers, and bone-breakers. You’ve sent them my way and promised me to them as a way out. But you must understand, traumas, you don’t have that right, and you don’t have my permission.

Let’s get some things straight.

The way I have reacted to you has not been free from guilt or scandal. I have hurt people myself. I have acted impulsively and have even tried to exact revenge–a laughable concept, by the way, since revenge still puts me under your control even though I am tied to it by my own responsibility. I’ve walked down that path and have jumped that bridge. You cannot kill me through me.

That being said, I have attempted suicide in your wake–many times. I have been hospitalized in wards and hospitals both medical and psychiatric in your wake. Many times. I have slit my wrists, overdosed, tried to drown, tried so suffocate, tried to choke myself to death because of how I’ve felt with you.

And consider this:

I am still alive.

There is a girl whose birthday is in a few days. She just found me on facebook, although I’ve only had a facebook under my real name for… less than a month? You remember her, traumas; I know you do. She groomed me well as a kid and early teen: isolating me, hounding me, controlling me, manipulating me, breaking me day in and day out for years. She may have been abused. I do not know. At this point, I do not care. She has had a hard life, I know, and at this point, I do not care. I cannot care. I must be indifferent, traumas, because you will understand this:

Nobody owns me.

I care about the people who could become like her, sure. If I had different neurochemistry and a different situation, I could easily be like her. We all could. But I don’t pity her, and I certainly do not owe her empathy. I do not wish her ill. I no longer wish for her to understand what she has done. She will never understand it, just like I’ve learned I will never understand her. But I don’t cater to or cower beneath these caustic crowds anymore. I don’t feed the snakes, as I’ve learned a lioness needs no pride but her own.

I have a birthday coming up soon, too.

My twenty-fourth is the first birthday I am excited for. One of hopefully many more.

So, goodbye, traumas.

You’ve granted me wisdom and understanding I sometimes wish I never had but am better for. I am still learning; I am always learning. You come back; I come back harder.

You aren’t going to win.

 

 

 

 

How many casualties?

In my experience, the way I handle mental illness has been the #1 killer in my interpersonal relationships, in my successes and ambitions, and generally of all positive things in my life. I have been in therapy for almost fourteen years, in and out of hospitals and wards, and this is still a problem.

Sometimes, it would be the Schizoaffective Disorder. There were times I couldn’t understand what was happening, despite knowledge of my diagnosis. The things I saw and see were and are traditionally terrifying. I would talk about it. I would call friends. I would be crying on the phone in the corner of my room, afraid of what was happening and of what was happening to me. I used to be a hotline, and I get it. Nobody wants calls like this, especially late at night. People have their own stressors. But some of the things I thought were also delusional which, of course, brought paranoia, rage, and obsession. I am still hard to handle.

The way I handle (or haven’t handled, more accurately) my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has caused more interpersonal relationship “casualties” than anything else in my life. It has also ushered me into horrible relationships and truthfully, continues to destroy me from the inside out. This is something that although I’ve had for most of my life and have had the diagnosis for six years, I haven’t addressed until recently. So I am raw. I am more sensitive than usual. This sucks, and I’ve lost someone already.

Some people will tell you that those people don’t matter; that you deserve someone who cares more about you and can handle your flaws. But I lost my best friend to this years ago, my best friend who at 15 had a baby while at 14 was trying her best to take care of me and did a damn good job for where I was in my head at the time. Friendships, interpersonal relationships of any kind, they go both ways. There has to be energy input and energy feedback and balance. I try, because it’s important to me to upkeep a balance, but I’m still extremely sick, and everyone handles things differently. I talk a lot about my problems; she didn’t, so the support I could give her was extremely limited.

If someone uses you or manipulates you through anything–your mental illness or otherwise–then yeah, they’re definitely worth leaving and staying away from. But do remember, there are people who love you who just don’t know how to help or can’t at the present time. That’s okay. It sucks, but it’s okay. Because, really, after emancipation from our parent(s)/guardian(s), we should be learning how to take care of ourselves.

am getting better. There were years, a huge chunk of my life, where I thought all I’d be is fodder for the State system, trapped in a State hospital and having nowhere to go and no way to live. I don’t know the future and can’t say it’s impossible, but the possibility of that reality has become quite slim comparatively. I am getting better. Every day. There are setbacks. There are problems. There is pain. Also every day. But I am getting better. I am getting stronger. I am learning how to manage this. It is going to be difficult. It is going to take a long time. But I know I have the potential to be successful, even with the shit psychiatric lot I’ve got.

Thing is, people come and go. There’s a fluidity we have to allow with social health, even when that health is not crippling and not stunted. It’s important not to forget people. Maybe I should. But I think it’s important not to. I think people can learn most about themselves from their interpersonal relationships, especially in the factors of what a person needs and wants, and the important division as well. I know this philosophy is harder to adopt from people with certain disorders–Borderline, for instance. But this is my truth that I’m speaking to you: Interpersonal relationships are fluid. Imagine them as watercolors. They come into your life and spill onto the page, sometimes spilling off. Sometimes barely leaving a mark, sometimes distinctive and powerful on the canvas. It’s important to show love to people, but it is also important to show self-love. Healthy love of the Self will actually lead to natural and stable love for others. People come. People go. But truthfully, you are the only person you’ll always have.

Worry less about being loved and love yourself. Honestly, no one can truthfully save you but yourself. People may try. They might not. But ultimately, you are faced with the choices, and you are the one who must choose which path to walk.

 

Love to everyone.

 

V.