Miracle Pill…

So this came through my email a few minutes ago thanks to Live Nation…I don’t even have this artist listed as a favorite, so why this came to me today, I don’t know. That said, it REALLY makes me angry when people judge others for using medication to manage mental health.

Dear Goo Goo Dolls,

Not cool. As someone who takes medication to manage suicidal ideation and panic attacks, this facetious “Are you sad? Take a pill.” commentary is not only offensive, but blatantly adds to the already overwhelming stigma other mental health warriors face. And given National Suicide Prevention Day just passed, I find this even more unsavory- how insensitive can one be? It makes light of the many struggles people face before they even muster up the courage to seek help. Do you know how long and hard I fought with myself before I chose to seek medical help over taking my own life? Do you know the hell I went through when my first medication failed and I had to taper off it entirely before I could even begin to try another one? Do you honestly think I wasn’t also in therapy, surrounded by concerned love ones, and still fighting with every breath not to give in to the overwhelming urge to end my life?

Do you know what it’s like to feel like the you that is “you” is no longer in control of your body? Do you know the overwhelming guilt and shame I felt, knowing I was hurting everyone around me? Do you know that the real issue isn’t that I was “being selfish” and “only thinking of my own pain”, but that I honestly believed I was such a burden to EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING GOOD IN MY LIFE, that the only thing I could do to make things right by those I love, would be to remove myself permanently? Do you know, can you even possibly imagine, how it feels to have that thought running through your head at full volume 24 hours a day for months on end? As the you that is “you” keeps trying to remind yourself that you aren’t a burden and people would be hurt if you left? Do you know how hard it is to convince yourself that you need to stay when everything in you is saying you should go? Do you know what it is like to be afraid to breathe too deeply because it isn’t “you” controlling your body and you are literally terrified that any small move you make will be the one that allows the depression to fully take over, to lift your body off the couch and head to the kitchen and…? Do you have any idea, any at all, how scary that is? How much it hurts? How much I still look back and wish I never had to face those thoughts? Do you know that I TRIED to heal myself without medication? Do you know it is simply one of the MANY tools in my mental health kit to keep myself sane and functioning as a member of my family, my friend circle, my job, and society in general? 

How DARE you belittle the struggle the goes in to even contemplating using medication. And how DARE you shame those who are willing to use ANY tool they can in their battles to KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD. To keep surviving. To keep choosing to stay. Shame on you.
So no, I won’t be buying your new music. Ever. And yeah, you probably don’t care. That’s fine. I got this off my chest. And if someday you see it and it makes you pause for just a moment, that makes this rant worth it.
With all due respect, I sincerely hope you grow up. 

Yours Sincerely,
Katie

How do you say goodbye?

Hello self,

This situation sucks. We know it. We also know we aren’t the first to go through it, nor will we be the last. How do you say goodbye to someone yet living when you both know they are dying? How do you say goodbye?

You leave to visit family a few days earlier than planned, stunned by the news. You frantically scramble to adjust your hotel reservation dates. You go to the doggy daycare in person to request permission to board your dear Gunny later that day. You spend the rest of the day completing all your necessary tasks – get the car inspected today because you don’t know if you’ll be back before the month ends, put together Gunny’s food and medication for Thursday through Tuesday…and add enough for a few extra days, just in case, pack and triple check that you have everything ready. Try to sleep…only get two and a half hours of shut eye before the alarm blares and you race out of bed. Look at your sister, notice the haunted expression she keeps trying to hide as you swallow down two cups of coffee before you get on the road. Pick up Starbucks for you, your sister, and your Mom and drive north to pick Mom up. Say hi and bye to Dad and Annie-girl. Drive and drive and drive, switching off with your sister on the thirteen hour trip. Why didn’t you fly? Too expensive – $845 one way per person…Wonder over and over and over if you’ll make it in time.

You do. You have dinner with your Mom and sister before Mom leaves to visit her brother while you head back to the hotel to unpack. Your sister reads tarot spread after spread, seeking…god, you don’t know what. You practice Reiki and silently thank your teacher for fitting in your level II attunement the night prior. Mom comes back and you get to bed around 11…somehow you sleep in until nearly 7, before spending the day with your uncle at the hospice. The pattern over the next few days – you all go to pick up Grandma, go to breakfast, pick up lunch for your uncle, spend a few hours with him at the hospice. He looks surprisingly good…but for the fact that he’s the thinnest you’ve ever seen him, he has no color in his face, his fingertips are getting more blue by the day, and you try not to focus on how often he seems to stop breathing for a few seconds, how often his voice fades to nothing as he’s speaking, how much your visits seem to exhaust him…because he lights up when you show up. He laughs and cracks jokes and you all try to pretend everything is fine. You leave for the day, letting him rest. Drop Grandma off at home and head to your remaining family on Dad’s side. You pick up your step-grandmother for dinner. You are thankful for her tight hugs when you arrive and when you leave. You enjoy dinner with her, then take her home and spend a few hours chatting in her garage as she has her after-dinner smoke. You all say good night and you, Mom, and your sister head back to the hotel. You spend an hour sending Reiki energy to the hospice center and all within it, to your family, to yourself. You try to sleep. Wake up. Rinse and repeat. You find yourself feeling more and more drained by the day. Your coping mechanisms are helping less and less by the day. Two days remain and that stupid voice of Nox returns. You applaud yourself for recognizing it is a Nox thought instead of a Katie thought, but you are struggling. You tell Nox to go away. You try to pretend you are fine.

Your last day in your parents’ hometown arrives. So how do you say goodbye?

You end the last visit to your uncle with a tight hug that lingers longer than usual and you reminded him that you love him so very, very much and he tells you the same. He smiles as he walks away and you try not to cry. Mom, you, and your sister have a late lunch with Grandma and your other two uncles on Mom’s side. Drop Grandma at home and proceed with the usual evening routine. Hug your step-grandmother longer and tighter as you say goodbye for another year. You head back to the hotel and pack up as much as you can. You don’t practice Reiki that night because you took time for that in the morning that day. You try to sleep, but your sleep tracker says you got barely five hours.

You pack up the car and you manage to upset Mom by insisting you want to drive. She cries for three hours and doesn’t stop until you reach the first stop on the Ohio turnpike. Your sister wakes up and texts you to ask why Mom is upset. You explain. You let Mom drive for the next few hours, but before you get back on the road, she talks about how hard she was trying not to break and you feel guilty, but your sister reminds Mom that she needs to let those emotions out – it isn’t healthy to keep them inside. You remember your posts on this blog about how long it took you to learn to process your emotions in a healthy way. You let your sister and Mom switch off driving for the remainder of the trip home while you sit in the backseat with your headphones on, listening to your “I can do anything” playlist in an effort to re-center yourself and send Nox away. You find yourself tracing the symbols you learned during the Reiki II course into both of your palms over and over and over again throughout the day as you watch the scenery go by.

You get back to your home state in the early afternoon and drop Mom off at her and Dad’s house. You stop in to say hi to Dad and to Annie-girl before heading back home. You drop the suitcase off at your condo and head out to dinner with your sister, and then you pick up Gunny. You return to the condo and take the first deep breaths you’ve been able to take since the 22nd. You take an extra day of leave to decompress emotionally and to rest. You end up sleeping most of the day on the 29th. You go back to work and it is hard. Explaining where you were and why is hard. Hearing people’s condolences is hard. 

You know your uncle is still here, but god, you jump and cringe every single time the phone rings. You dread picking up calls from Mom. You know that call will be coming some day soon. You continue to send Reiki energy to the hospice center and your extended family. You try to go about your day without thinking the worst. Nox is quiet again, and you are grateful.  

You wait. You wonder if you should reach out to your uncle since he’s still being active on Facebook, but you don’t know what to say. You find yourself fighting back tears at odd times and for strange reasons. You wait and you wonder…how do you say goodbye?

Love from yourself,

Katie

I’m wishing

Hello dear friend,

I hope you are doing well. I’ve found myself thinking about wishes a lot lately, both in terms of what I am wishing for and wishes in general. I’ve found myself listening to two songs over and over lately – Airplanes by B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore (linked above) and Wishing On A Star from The 10th Kingdom (which is a FANTASTIC miniseries – I highly recommend it if you like fairytales). What I really like about these two songs is the message that we can wish on things other than stars.

Okay, yes, I know we wish on candles and we can always wish without wishing “on” something, but how often do we do so? When was the last time you made a wish? I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it easier to wish for something to benefit someone else – like “I wish for my friend to get that job she wants” or “I wish for Mom’s test results to come back clear” – it is just so easy to offer a quick wish or prayer for something to work out in someone else’s favor. But when it comes to making wishes for myself? I find myself feeling almost…guilty, I guess, about making wishes without having a reason to do so – like seeing a shooting star or blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, for example. I know that goes back to the ongoing inner work I’m doing to acknowledge my own worth, and yet, when I think of making wishes, I keep thinking about Into the Woods – I keep hearing these warnings to be careful with my wishes. I hear these warnings echoed when it comes to discussions of manifesting what you desire – be careful. Identify your why. Know that the universe will choose the easiest path – beware of situations like “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs.

It’s easy to see why wishes on my own behalf can be…scary? bad? something to think through? There are certainly enough examples in literature and film that offer warnings about making wishes for some form of personal gain. But is it really wrong to want something that benefits one’s self? I don’t think so, not at all.

It is not wrong to dream of success, abundance, love; it’s not wrong to want more or to want to make your life better somehow. I think it is absolutely okay to make “selfish” wishes…with the caveat that it work out for the highest and greatest good of all involved. With the caveat that it brings no harm. With the caveat that we understand if the wish doesn’t come true, it is because it would not actually be in our best interest – and with the understanding that if we aren’t granted one wish, it is because something else is in the cards for us. That’s the attitude I’ve been reminding myself to take as I listen to those songs about wishing. I’ve been reminding myself that I’m allowed to wish for anything I currently desire, so long as I end the wish with “let it happen for the highest and greatest good of all” – and that’s helped. It has helped with that odd guilt I feel over making wishes for myself. I’ve been wishing for things for myself and the betterment of my own life for the first time in a long time – and I sincerely hope you feel comfortable doing the same. I hope your wishes come true, so long as they are in the interest of the good of all involved in the outcome. I hope you feel comfortable making big wishes, life-changing wishes, wishes that would result in a dream-come-true feeling of bliss for you. I hope you wish and wish often, my friend. You deserve to wish – and you deserve your wishes to come true.

Until next time, my friend,

Katie

Reframing thought patterns

#36 Self Talk, Divine Guidance Oracle Deck by Cheryl Lee Harnish
#36 Self Talk, Divine Guidance Oracle Deck by Cheryl Lee Harnish

Hello dear friend,

I hope you are doing well and that your weekend is off to a good start.

I think I’ve already mentioned my recent interest in tarot and oracle readings, yes? I’ve been doing relatively frequent readings to just check in and get some guidance on what I need to work through, particularly in terms of keeping my mental and emotional health on the up and up. In my readings lately, this card has turned up quite frequently. I know I have some negative thought patterns I am working on breaking…and I suspect you have your fair share of ones you would like to break, too. Let’s chat about that for a bit today, shall we? While I can only speak for myself, I hope the rest of this post is of some use or relevance to you, too.

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My Journey – Lessons Learned

Word lessons learned written on miniature chalkboard in classroom against black background. Lessons, school, education concept.
ID 113493380 © Milkos | Dreamstime.com

Hello dear friend,

I hope the weekend has been treating you well. In today’s post, I want to reflect on lessons I’ve learned from my mental health journey. I hope that what I’ve learned may in some way help someone else to avoid falling as far as I did in 2018. I hope that what I’ve learned helps someone else.

Let’s jump in.

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Carrying Guilt

Cartoon depicting stick figure hauling a weight labeled "Guilt"
ID 121202141 © Zdenek Sasek | Dreamstime.com

Hello dear friend,

I’m not sure what to write today. What I had planned to share, upon discussing it further with the person involved, well – permission to share was rescinded to preserve their mental health. And that’s absolutely okay – it is their story to share if and when they are ready and while I think it offers an important perspective in terms of mental health journeys, I’m not willing to jeopardize their journey in favor of clarifying my own. I’m…well, I’m sad and worried and regretful that my mental health journey is still such a pain point for them when I am doing so much better. So I guess what I want to talk about today is guilt.

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Little reminders

Photo of two bracelets on a wrist. The first says "You never walk alone" and the second shows the text "I slay the beast".
My reminder bracelets

Hello dear friend,

Today I want to talk about two bracelets I wear daily.

The first says “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and is based on a song with the same name by BTS. Susie gave it to me for Christmas. I wear it as a small but shiny reminder that even in my darkest moments, I am never alone. Regardless of how isolated I may feel, there are always people in my corner, whether I can sense them there or not. I am always being supported and loved – and wow, what a mindset shift from last spring. I hope you know, my friend, that you are never alone in your journey either. If you are feeling isolated right now, though, I want you to know it is okay to feel that way. I also want you to know that it is absolutely worth it to reach out for help. ❤

The other bracelet I wear came with my donor gifts from donating to The Office of Letters and Light last November, in support of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The rubber bracelet includes a small sword graphic and the text “The sword with with I slay the beast called doubt.” Now don’t get me wrong, I know the bracelet is meant to refer to the doubt that can cause a writer to stop writing, but I’ve taken it to mean so much more. Given the text is on a bracelet, it serves as a reminder to me that I wield the sword that slays my doubts and fears simply by continuing to actively use my mind and body to chase the reality I want to create for myself. I have the power to choose to defeat my doubts.

Between these bracelets, the tattoo on my wrist that affirms “Every Mile Will Be Worth My While“, and the many, many positive affirmations I have saved to my phone to refer to as often as needed, I have many little reminders that keep me going on days when life seems just a little harder than usual. What about you? What little reminders do you rely on to help you through?

I’ve decided to save the Lessons Learned post for Saturday.

Okay, that’s all for today, my friend. I hope the rest of your day is lovely.

Until next time, and with love always,

Katie

Out of the Chamber – this battle has been won.

Wide angle top view of the Initiation Well with no tourists in Sintra, Portugal
ID 115038471 © Saaaaa | Dreamstime.com 

Hello dear friend, 

As mentioned at the close of yesterday’s post, the remainder of my recovery journey to now had a few other bumps. I’ll be discussing those moments of backtracking before continuing with how positive things have been. As with previous heavy topic posts, please note that this one may be a painful read, at least for the first few paragraphs – if you want to skip it, I understand. The post does include mentions of suicide, so if that is a trigger for you, please go ahead and avoid this post, or proceed with caution. Okay? Okay. ❤ 

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Stronger, better, happier…Me.

Wide angle bottom-up view of the Initiation Well in Sintra, Portugal
ID 115125398 © Saaaaa | Dreamstime.com 

Hello dear friend, 

As promised at the end of yesterday’s post, today I’ll be discussing how things got better for me – how I went from panic attacks daily to happier than I’ve been in over a decade.  

If you want to listen to Champion (Remix)It Gets Better, and Happy while reading this one, they are the songs I think about when looking back at last year. 

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