The truth is out. I'm a mental health blogger who is not entirely comfortable talking about my mental health journey. Yes, I divulge details of one of the most painful and personal experiences in my life on the Internet that anyone can see with the click of a mouse or a tap of a finger, but every time I hit "publish," I get a little rush of fear. I fear that my colleagues will read my articles and think I'm a less competent worker. I fear that the guy I'm interested in will read about my experiences before I feel it's time to sit down and tell him directly. The funny thing about my fear is that it's not manufactured solely by myself; it's a byproduct of societal influence.
The topic of suicide is one that many people shy away from but shouldn't. The overwhelming feelings of despair and hopelessness should receive the attention they need to garner help and guidance rather than shame or humiliation. September is National Suicide Awareness Month, with World Suicide Prevention Day falling on September 10. The more information we can put out there may help people like me who face suicidal ideation. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
My schizoaffective suicidal thoughts used to really scare me. I was frightened to the point that I went to the emergency room three times because of them and was even hospitalized once. I was afraid I was actually going to hurt myself. But slowly, over the years, I realized that, as scary as the thoughts were, I wasn’t going to die by suicide. The evidence is that I have had these thoughts for decades. And instead of hurting myself, I took care of myself and have built up coping skills for dealing with my schizoaffective suicidal thoughts. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
When experienced in tandem, self-sabotage and self-harm can create a unique psychological trap that is difficult—but not impossible—to escape.
During a recent session with my therapist, I felt compelled to ask for her professional take on my relationship with exercise. I told her that I prioritize running over just about every other line item in my routine. I told her that I feel immense amounts of shame if I cannot squeeze in an hour-long workout on a daily basis. I told her that I consistently run in the 105-degree Arizona heat, no matter how miserable the experience is. I told her that I rarely feel like the choice to stop running is even an option. I told her that I am afraid that without exercise, I will lose control of my entire life. She listened to me rattle off all this information, then replied matter-of-factly: "You have an exercise addiction. How is it working for you?"
Throughout my life, I've had an internal dialog of thoughts that offers commentary on my daily life. Recently I've noticed that some of those thoughts can be negative. The negative thoughts occur when I feel that I've done something wrong. These thoughts could come after driving too aggressively, snapping at a friend, or being lazy. Today, I'd like to talk about how those negative thoughts can be damaging and how to accept negative thoughts with grace and build self-esteem at the same time.
I can't stop crying. It's because of personal loss and depression; I know this. But it seems that all the knowledge in the world doesn't help. It seems like I just manage to right the ship, and then I find myself in a pool of brackish water again. Not everyone with depression reacts this way, but I cry far more than my fair share. No matter what I do, I just can't stop crying.
I don't often plan these blog posts ahead of time. Normally, I just sit down a couple of hours before posting, open Docs, and have a think about what aspect of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) I'm going to write about that day.
I've found that my mind looks for logic when I'm anxious. In my experience, one of the difficult things about anxiety is dealing with the lack of control that accompanies it, especially when I feel like I can't make sense of what is happening in the situation I am in. When I feel this lack of control, I become completely overwhelmed and feel as though I don't have control over the circumstances within my environment.
Like many people who live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), the relationships in my life have been turbulent: I've been estranged from my family on several occasions, and my friendships rarely last longer than a few years. However, the most dysfunctional relationships I've had have been with my two long-term romantic partners. I don't like how I behaved in either of those relationships, yet I felt helpless to find a way to behave differently. I watched myself become passive-aggressive, demanding, argumentative and possessive. I witnessed the hurt I caused and wrestled with intense shame, despair, and self-loathing. The turmoil I struggled with in my relationship with my first boyfriend was so intense that, after our breakup, I ended up overdosing as a cry for help. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)