Being There

My therapist often asks me what I need from others when I am in a rough patch. It’s a harder question to answer than one would think.

 

I think about the question often. What do I need? What do I need when I a having a panic attack? What about an emotional overload? How about when I am suicidal?

 

I search and I search for that answer. I can never seem to think of anything besides one little need.

 

I need someone to be there for me.

 

They don’t need to be trying to solve my problems They don’t need to talk at all. All I need is someone to sit beside me, and maybe give me a hug.

 

Physical affection helps me a lot. A touch of a hand, a rub on the back, or even a simple arm around my shoulder and help me calm down. I crave the pressure of touch, which is probably part of my Asperger’s.

 

Being there with me mentally is just as important as being with me physically. Breathing with me or being beside me can be more than enough.

 

Why is “being there” enough for me? It makes me feel loved, like someone actually wants me to feel better. I feel less alone. I know that somebody cares about me, even when I don’t care about myself. I need validation of my pain. I need a safe space.

 

More than anything, I need to know that I am more than the nothing I feel I am.

 

When my therapist asks me if I need anything else, I am at a loss. What else am I supposed to ask for? I don’t need any material item. No food is going to save me from my feelings. I just need someone to be with me because they care. Hugs and deep breaths are more than enough.

 

I need someone. That’s all that can bring me down when nothing else can anchor me. I am lucky to have people in my life who can fulfill this small need of mine.
Being there is more than I could ever ask for. Be there for me, and i’ll try to come back for you.

Medicine,Medicine

Medicine, medicine

Can you read my mind?

Will you change how I feel?

Will you be right this time?

 

Medicine, medicine

Will you make me well?

Will you keep me out of heaven

And change my course from hell?

 

Medicine. medicine

I heard you were the best

I wish it could be easier

No body checks and tests

 

Medicine, medicine

Please make my mind sane

I don’t need to be distressed

Please don’t keep me the same

What We Need and Victories

We all love the feeling of success. Whether defeating a rival in a football game or getting first place in a spelling bee,  we all want to win.

I’ve often thought winning myself. What is winning in a mental illness? There’s no easy answer to this.

We have victories throughout our mental health journey. We are clean from self harm for a day, then two days, then a week, and so on. We get released from the hospital, and stay out for as long as possible. Even just staying alive for another day can be a victory to someone struggling. All of these examples deserve much praise.

There are also setbacks in the mental health world. I refuse to call them failures, as there are no failures on this journey. Even if you hurt yourself or relapse into your alcohol addiction, there is always a way back onto the wagon into victory.

When you are a member of the mentally ill gang,we celebrate every little positive happening. You ate something today? AWESOME!!!! Even though you cut yourself, you bandaged it and have refrained from it for a day? We are totally behind you all the way.

When you aren’t in our crew, you might not view these as victories. You might see them as a little step. Believe me, every little step is a huge deal. We all know what it is like to see the bottom of the abyss. Every step up is something to praise. As long as we are climbing, we are reaching our goal.

Sometimes, the stairs going up are crumbling down. We are having a hard time staying steady, and we fall down, down, down. However, all of us are here for each other in those moments. We help lift each other up, and get each other back to a healthy place.

I have one request for you, if you are not on this journey: COMMUNICATE. Please listen to us when we are struggling. Yes, other mentally ill people are a great support, but sometimes we need somebody on the other side. We need to see your perspective, so that it is possible to see it your way. Tell us how it makes you feel when we do something negative. Tell us how it makes you feel when we do something positive. Just tell us your thoughts. We will listen, or at least try to. It is hard for us to listen sometimes, but we need to hear you.

While we support our community, and you support yours, we also need to support each others. We need to educate you all on mental illness and our experiences, while you tell us your views. Let us come to you, but please please please, if you see us struggling and not helping ourselves, come to us. We care for you even when we don’t care for yourself. We hope you all will do the same.
(I might not be speaking for the whole mental health community, but U am going by what I see the most)

One

As survivors, we are one

A team that gets what has been done

There are some things we want to forget

We might not be over them quite yet

 

Who cares if we’re unique

We all have goals and strengths

Different means we struggle some

We also know how to help someone

 

Difficulties by a truckload

As we start to overload

Do things to help ourselves

Yet also reach for someone else

 

Miles and miles away from our teams

We are still here when we’re in need

If we need smiles, look in the glass

We all need help, just need to ask

 

Here for one, here for all

We’re here for victories and also falls

Raise us up, set us down slow

Not ‘till we’re ready to go go and go

 

Hope flows through and confirms

We are brave and weather the storms

When one’s down, we help them stand

Then when we fall, they help us plan

 

Truth is told and so is pain

Our lives might be hard to explain

Our minds might be twisted, but we are not done

We keep going ‘til we’re all number one

 

Nothing More- Alternate Roots

What It’s Like To Volunteer At The Library (For Me)

I’ve always believed that the right volunteer position can boost an individual’s mental health and self-esteem. The trick is finding where that position is. Many people feed the homeless, fundraise, or tutor a student in need.

I’ve volunteered many places that are not as common. A children’s museum, the front desk at a hospital, and other places. None of them were as special to me as the library.

My first library volunteer experience happened the same month I got out of residential treatment. I was 16 years old and considered a teen volunteer . I worked in the children’s and teen section. My experience started with training. It was actually the librarian who trained me’s last day at the library. The next day I came in to work for the first time, and I met the new librarian. She was wonderful and I loved working under her. My first few times volunteering, I shelved DVDs. It can be fun to do that. The fiction is put away alphabetically, while the nonfiction are put away based on number and then the letters on it. If you want an explanation of the Dewey Decimal System that is used to categorize and order books, click on the link

http://mcpl.info/childrens/how-use-dewey-decimal-system

After you learn how to put DVD’s away, you can transfer your skills to the shelf. Shelving was easy for me, but could be difficult for others. It’s basically DVD shelving, but with books. I am a moderately slow shelver, but it is because I make sure I have everything where it is supposed to be. Putting it in the right spot is important, because patrons will not know where to find the book they want, and it won’t be easy for workers to find it either.

My life consisted of a lot of time at the first library I helped at. I was involved in typical tasks, such as cleaning books. My hands smelled like rubbing alcohol after my shift with the number of books I cleaned. There was a lot of preparation for children’s activities, including cutting papers, using a machine to make paper into different shapes, making phone calls to patrons about events, and shelf read.

Shelf reading is one of my favorite things to do at the library (of course, I love everything about the library) . It is making sure books are in order. You go through each individual book to make sure it is where it belongs. Most people absolutely hate it. I’ve had librarians tell me they are sorry for making me do it. I absolutely love it. I get to be by myself in a calming environment looking to see if anything is out of order. If they are, I place them in their correct spot. It grounds me and makes me feel accomplished.

A big part of my position at my first library was helping with children’s programming. I did puppet shows, worked game stations at carnivals, watched over a bounce house, helped kids build gingerbread houses, the list goes on. My favorite activity that I helped with was our version of Comic Con. I worked in the lightswitch cover making room, and I got to dress up as Tonks from Harry Potter. I even got quoted in the newspaper for it.

I also attended the teen advisory board meetings, where we helped decide on events for teens. We are the ones who decided to make valentine cards to take to a few nursing homes.We decided on cupcake decorating competition and an anti-valentine’s day party. There were many more.

We also went out into the community. For a special night downtown, we did puppet shows on the sidewalk surrounded by musicians and mimes.

The Christmas parade was always fun. We decorated the car we rode in to get there and made gift boxes that said the highlights of the library, such as free internet or e books, in a cute poetic way. I was good at that part.

One thing that meant a lot to me is that the librarians let me train new volunteers after I’d been there a while. During the school year, I trained individuals, but in the summer, I helped train groups of teens, most much younger than me, a 17 year old at that point. It gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel trusted.

I worked there until the summer before I went to college. I was so sad to leave. I loved the librarians and the work. I didn’t miss the other volunteers as much, as they were all 13 or under. It was a sad day, and I thought my library experience was over.

However, once I was out of college, I needed something to do. My first thought was the library. I looked for one at the library I had worked at, but they were not accepting volunteers. Then I remembered that my favorite librarian had become assistant director at a library not too far away. I filled out an online application, they got back to me, and I had the position after orientation. They told me I don’t have to do the shelf reading part of orientation, but I still learned about the library.

They told us in orientation that all we would do is shelf read in the adult section. I then told them them that I had only worked in the children’s and teen sections. Luckily, they told me I could work in those sections. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been upset if I had to work in adult. However, I loved the younger side.  I shelf read a lot (I did it yesterday and ¾ of the other times) in both children’s and teens. The teen section is always my favorite, because I also get to read the backs of books and find new ones to read. I also got to use a barcode scanner once, helped with a bulletin board, attempted to cut out some shape but got moved to finding books about birds for an activity.

Back to the main component of this story, shelf reading. Teen volunteers will be the death of me. I know I was once a teen volunteer, but I sure hope I was never as careless as them. Yesterday, one of the children’s librarians told me to check over a new volunteer’s work. They got all except two or three right, and those were confusing. I thought I would have an easy day, until I got out of that teen’s spot. The rest of it was an absolute mess. A mix of young kids and teen volunteers made the job much more difficult than others. There were at least 15 books out of place from  Dewey Decimal 396 to 555. I got it fixed as best I could until I had to leave.

Libraries are my safe zone away from home. It makes my head feel clear and I don’t have any worries. I am able to concentrate for long amounts of time. I don’t know how it happens, but even when I am in a funk, or crying and begging not to go in, I enter the doors and I feel great. Nobody can hurt me and I have no thoughts of pain or worthlessness. I feel like I am doing a semi important job and have people relying on me. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.

Volunteering has always been somewhat helpful, but nothing compares to the library. It is what I need. It is part of who I am

 

Our Ears Are Closed

TW: Suicide and self-harm

After being diagnosed with PTSD for a couple months now, I have found what may be an even bigger stressor than the reason I was diagnosed. This one I don’t mind talking about.

I wrote a post a while ago about my last attempt to help people over Twitter, Our Ears Are Open, or OEAO to most of us working together. Let me explain a little, as I was just starting out Beautifully Bipolar when I wrote it.

OEAO was a program I intended to help people by letting them have a person to talk to when they just wanted to talk. I had several people helping me out, including several people from my college, a friend of one of the college student, a person I went to high school with, and a couple I met on Twitter. I made a Facebook page, one for the people we helped and one for the team to talk in. Twitter was where most of the action happened, There was also a website, where we had resources, weekly songs, and  a few other things. I was pretty well set up.

We went for a while. Several people signed up, using an online form maker. Volunteers talked to the people, normally at a scheduled time. We told them that we were not therapists and couldn’t replace one. We had around 200 followers, which at that time was a good number for me. It was going well, as each of us had our people to talk to.  Then things turned downhill.

All of my volunteers were good with their people. Our very first signup decided she wanted to be with me. I was fine with that. She seemed like a good young lady. We talked for a while, about simple things, food, hobbies, books, and so on. We even wrote a poem together, with her giving me different answers to questions, which I then wrote the poem around.

She talked to me about her school. She talked about how much she hated it and nobody listened to her. Sometimes we talked about her strictly religious parents. I promised that we wouldn’t talk religion unless she wanted to.  She confided some very private information that I will not share. I thought she was just a struggling young girl.

Then, in one of our many conversations over Twitter, she started talking. She was talking about how much she wanted to hurt herself or die. Then she disappeared. I would wait 5 minutes, then 10. If she didn’t answer in that amount of time, I would ask her if she was here. I would start freaking out, as I didn’t know what she was doing to herself. Eventually I told her that I was going to have to find her help if she didn’t come back. She would immediately come back and begged me not to call for help. I didn’t.

I think most of our messages went that way. She would act upset, or angry at something and then disappeared. This became stressful to me, and every now and again I’d have to have one of the other volunteers talk to her. They would report back and tell me either she was fine with them or wouldn’t give super long answers.

I was confused. Why would she do what she did to me, but no one else? Was something wrong with me?

Then there was a whole mess with her Twitter friend from another country.  The person I talked to was upset because her friend hadn’t messaged her in days. She was freaking out about how the person was suicidal and was in danger. I told her to call somebody to help, which she said she couldn’t without her parents hearing. I prompted her to go to a crisis chat sites She didn’t want to because she thought it would take longer. When I asked her if I could use the chat and tell the staff that someone was in trouble, she didn’t know where they lived. I  couldn’t figure out what to do.

Eventually, I moved into my dorm room at school. We made a schedule that we would talk to each other at that time. I made the mistake of telling her that if she really needed to just talk, I’d try to talk to her.She messaged me at random times. I had to cancel my plans a lot so I could talk to her. Each conversation went the same. Positive, suicidal messages, not answering for several minutes, then an “okay” with a frowny face when I said goodnight.

During this whole stretch, I was not eating, not sleeping in case she messaged me, and calling my parents every night in tears. They kept telling me to stop OEAO. I would always say no, because I didn’t want to leave the girl. I felt like if I left her, she would kill herself.

One night, an unscheduled night, she messaged me and told me she was going to kill herself and I couldn’t stop her. I stopped for a second and told her that I couldn’t handle it any more. She needed to get help from someone who could actually help her. I never talked to her again.

That night, I called my parents and told them I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t keep talking to her, and I couldn’t stay alive any longer. They told me to sleep a little bit and see if things got better. It didn’t work.

I went to the hospital the next day.

Just now as I write this, I see how manipulating and emotionally abusing she was. I stopped what I wanted to so I could help her. I gave into her need for attention by asking her to stay with me when she disappeared. She knew I would freak out if she didn’t respond. She had me worrying about her when I should have been studying or having fun. I was not able to have fun because I was worried if she was alive. She told me about her self-harm so I would feel sorry for her. I would send her kind notes, and she would dismiss them, just so I would tell her that she was wrong.

I let her take control of me. I let a  young girl take over my life. Yes, I know she was struggling as well. I was not the only one hurt by this. She didn’t have a good home or school life. I still feel like I shouldn’t have left her. I often wonder if she is still alive.

I also wonder if she knew she was hurting me. Part of me tells me she didn’t know. She was young and wanted attention. She found a way to get it through me. I was her only support at that time, and needed somewhere to let it out. Part of me though, feels like she knew what she was doing. She knew I was worried about her, and used that at her advantage to make me feel like I was her play toy. I bent over backwards for her and she knew this. She wanted to control something until some control came into her life.

I am sad for her. It feel’s like her life was in my hands,and I threw it away. While she was hurt, I was also sad for myself. I fell for her tricks. My heart get in the way of my mind. I just wanted to help her, and we were both in harm’s way. She controlled my life then, and still sometimes now.

Falling for those who need help is a big problem for me, but this was a much bigger situation.

I will not hurt myself over someone I don’t even know well. I will let her live her life, while I live mine. She will not hurt me any longer.

I am safe. I’m not sure if she is, but that isn’t my problem. I hope she is well, but she doesn’t have me caught anymore. To answer the earlier questions, I  have two answers. The reason why I she chose me instead of someone else is because I was the only one who gave into her. I should have known that my high levels of wanting to help would get me in the way. The other question asked what was wrong with me.  It took me a while to figure out that question, but no, there is nothing wrong with me. I trust too easily and let others take control. I need to work on those qualities. I might have some struggles, but I am not wrong. I tried my hardest until I couldn’t anymore. That is okay. I learned my lesson. What can be more right than that? Nothing, except complete perfection. Since that’s not possible, learning a lesson is as right as we will ever be.

I will be fine. Emotional abuse and manipulation have been hard to deal with. There are two things I’ve learned. One is I’m allowed to feel uncomfortable.  Two is I am allowed to change it.

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”

  • William Ernest Henley

Superheroes

We might look weak

Our insides might hurt

Rocks in our stomach

Our heads  in the dirt

 

We might have thought things

Were better than they were

Even when we struggle

We are still  hardcore

 

Every tear is stress falling

Panic attacks teach us to slow

Our breath will calm down

When all is out of control

 

Our screams coming out

Are less pain and more help

We support those who struggle

While still caring for ourselves

 

Marks on our bodies

Fade away with time

Turn from red slashed

Into colorless lines

 

Trauma still hides

Then it pops out a bud

Proving our innocence

We’ve always had inside of us

 

Our stomachs were empty

They might still be

We are working on us

So we’ll be healthy

 

We fight against stigma

Battle for our rights

Stand up against haters

Shared what popped into our minds

 

We will  might never be number one

But we won’t be zeroes

Our power is to heal

We are our own superheroes

I