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“Familiarity Can Go To Hell!” – Guest post by Kelsey G.

I thought it was probably time for another guest post.  I haven’t published one for a while now and if honest haven’t really felt like writing much myself lately.  So I was absolutely delighted to have received the following article from Kelsey G, who is not herself a blogger but who has a wonderful writing style.

So it gives me great pleasure (and of course my thanks go out to Kelsey for allowing me) to publish this piece for you…

Familiarity can go to hell.

go to hell
I turn the light out and stand stationary in the doorway of the bathroom, waiting until I can act on the realization that I shut everything down again too quickly. I flick the light back on, continue to brush my teeth, take my pills, re-evaluate my perception of “self” in the obnoxiously brightly lit mirror. Just on time – that catch in breath that sends shock waves down the spine. A signal of impending doom without the gratifying feeling of inevitable death soon to come, the guilt of viewing it as gratifying in its place.

So this is life. This is life? When did this happen? I’ve cried so many times: over The Office finale for an hour until I was ridden with such a nauseating stress migraine I couldn’t even think about moving; over numerous failed dates with failures of human beings, just wanting someone to listen to their rendition of “all seven types” of their cat’s meows; over food – so many times over food. There’s something intrinsically different about these involuntary fits of tears, though.

I turn on the decorative hanging lights in my room, hung on a night when I desperately needed to forget. To move. To do something – something that required planning and space evaluation and every other “completely legit!” concept we make up when so desperately avoiding what’s most legitimate in life – pain. PAIN! Woe is me, you, but definitely me, the bearer of all pains when feeling any pain.

Seriously, to hell with it. But don’t for one second doubt its ability to shake every foundation you’ve ever known, as naive and already fractured as they may be.

color-earthquakeThe floor at the foot of the bed will have to do this time; my body is too exhausted to make it downstairs again in an attempt to crawl beneath the dining room table and pull in all the stools, creating as tight and secure a panic room as possible, courtesy of IKEA. This room will have to do. The lights strung along its walls are usually a source of invaluable relaxation, their pattern still unpredictable in the most time-consuming and mind-numbing way. But tonight they just remind me of every conversation we’ve had under them. I fiddle with the empty socket on the strand right next to my pillow.

“This little one looks so sad. So empty.”

“Just wants to be loooved, poor thing.”

I compare the dark and lonely socket to myself in the following moments of silence between us and immediately have to recount all the ways to stop from tearing up. Who the f*ck am I?

Back in the present, the pressure of god-damn living these past several months is condensed into a sudden burst of heinously bizarre sobs and choking noises, followed by the familiar snapcracklepop of salty snot bubbles erupting from each nostril and I wonder why I’m still so alone in these critical moments. I say “critical” like I’ve actually experienced anything substantial, and I say “alone” like the internalized sad clown, moon-boot-fanatic version of my eighth grade self. The fact of the matter is, I have several people in my life that I can talk to about this- this, anxiety? Panic? Stress overload?

Three people, to be exact. More, on a good day. Far fewer on a normal (every) day. First, there’s the “number-one-go-to, hands down will always understand friend” who’s lived almost exclusively “substantially”. Oh, crying under the table again? Talk to me. But then, should probably check on that. Here’s why. Go. Then there’s the “obligated/still concerned family members”, one of which just doesn’t understand to the point of complete destruction, bless her god-damned, unintentionally ignorant heart. The other knows everything about mental health (or the lack thereof) but just can’t express the necessary emotions needed for a conversation on account of her inability to feel them in typical ways. On good days, there might be one of the occasional passers-by in life, the meaningful people who share their lives and expect the same in return and inevitably disappear into god-knows-where at the time of their choosing. I don’t call on these people in these moments, though. Actually, I don’t call on anyone. I drop a story here and there about these little panic episodes, making sure to add the precisely measured amounts of humour and sincerity in order to have the fresh-out-of-the-oven product: depth, desirability, just enough sanity (or the lack thereof). I don’t call when the breath catches and the tears start and the fetal crumpling kicks in, because what would I say when or if they answered? What do any of us say?

Things happen. F*cking duh, said every person ever who ever said something obvious. But really though. Things are always happening, and we learn to always expect the always-ness. Life has been pretty saturated these past few months. Anyone could see that the resulting anxiety attacks are a pretty natural reaction. Graduation (but maybe not?), moving cross-country and getting real jobs like real people and getting into actual graduate schools like actual assholes (after graduation FERSHER, but like..
maybe, maybe not even then), coming to terms with the most twisted, embarrassing and realistic cause of complete shame, misery and longing for portable IKEA panic rooms: Tinder.

Cue: An unlikely match that killed the conversation one minute in, only to still be the topic of most, months later – with myself, my friends, mycrosoft word at four in the morning after this “Shit Show Beneath the Stars.” Beautifully introspective and self-deprecating, everything I’d want to be but also not, because it would mean not being able to see it exactly the way I see it in him. The deal was “casual”. Why would we do anything else? I’m leaving in two months. Fuck, Two Months came and went over a month ago. Close to the time I hung these lights, hoping to avoid the inevitable darkness these realizations would hurl me into. The power of unstated discomfort cannot be overstated, but my god, what hope do the socially inept, anxiety-ridden souls of this world have? The simple (ha!) act of living is one disproportionate belch of unstated discomfort, wriggling and writhing within us until we throw up in our mouths as the inexpressible discomforts of existence finally force their way out, knowing we can’t possibly take anything else on in that instant. But in a moment, the crying will stop, the strange choking noises that I’m sure have been reported by neighbours as criminally offensive sex acts will subside, and the snapcracklepop of snot bubbles will dissipate.

This come-and-go routine is just as familiar as any other. But while we’re left seasoned and more impervious to the timing and mechanics of these unwelcome, gut-wrenching reactions to anything and everything, the fact still remains: this is life. What does that mean, exactly? No idea. “Knowing” this leaves us just as lost and helpless as ever. But I do know that I’ve had some really great days and some incredibly beautiful moments in this life as well, and I know I’ll have them again. And when I do, I’ll probably appreciate them for what they are – great, and beautiful – because I’ve gone through hell to understand the alternative. So we wait. And wait. And maybe wait some more. Because eventually the sun has to come up and shit on all this darkness, because this is life. And that’s how life works, right?

[Editor’s Note: I would again like to thank Kelsey G for sending me this piece and for allowing me to share it with you all.  I believe that real, raw, well written, descriptive and informative pieces such as this one are so very important.  And I hope that you will have enjoyed reading it as much as I did and will take time to comment accordingly.]

 

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Here Here, There There. Guest post by Emily Camille Boullear

The following is a guest post – which I am delighted to be able to share with you all – submitted by Emily Camille Boullear, in which she writes about her isolation growing up, and later living on and off as an adult, in Kansas City with Schizotypal Disorder.

It is by design meant to be “a pretty quippy read that is meant to be at times humorous as well as insightful“.

There are some very real and raw emotions expressed in this piece and I am so pleased to be able to share them with Emily’s permission…

 

Here Here There There

Emily Camille Boullear

 

Swollen, bitten and itching, hyperventilating Kansas City, I’m so very disappointed in you. Still tethered, I try on contentment in between the phases of my escape.

My disappointment isn’t my right here. There’s something wrong with my body, psychology and words here. Until recently, I was a very diligent survivor and tried to match every small movement in my life to my highest imagination of good. But my imagination isn’t a working paradigm here. I’m asked with judgmental eyes to sacrifice my own mores and after I do, there’s no end to what I’m supposed to mutely accept for some abstract reward or promised solace.

Kansas City, you’ve possessively collected my individuality, conviction, imagination, creativity, optimism and confidence. I’m repeatedly caught in your webbed simplicity. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt for years but you’re still a bully and I’m a pained cliché.

I birthed these sour emotions during my miserable only-childhood. As a defense mechanism, my imagination desperately grafted non-existent worlds onto my inevitable adulthood. For this, I was diagnosed with Schizotypal Disorder. Adulthood doesn’t even house the pretty justice I used to imagine.

This city is delusional. Really basic things go unnoticed here. Like, how imitating someone’s accent doesn’t really help that person understand your language. And, if you hit someone’s pet with your Bush era SUV, you should probably turn around to take her pulse, not just mutter something about crosswalks and speed away.

This city is a karmatic nightmare, and once again, I need to leave. A prolonged low cost of living is among the few true benefits I’ve enjoyed while playing along with this capture-bonding archetype. The first decade of my adult life has dedicatedly alternated between triumphant moves away and thoroughly cursed, prodigal daughter moves back. It’ll only take me a few more months of serving tables and living with my estranged, divorced parents to finance my next move. Suspend your disbelief. My soon to be therapy dog and I will (not) see you en Paris.

With clarity, I know I am my own problem here. I don’t fit in. Don’t worry Kansas City millennials. I’ll show myself out again. You don’t want an artist or activist who is shrouded in self-doubt and likes to imagine beyond the threshold of what you can handle. You shouldn’t have to change your city so I feel safe in your presence and just because I feel so twistedly comfortable with the terribly low standards here, doesn’t mean I should keep coming back to you.

[Editor’s note:  Our thanks go out to Emily for sharing this piece with us.  We don’t always here the less brighter side of having such conditions, but all our experiences are valid and should be given voice in the right setting and at the right time, I feel.  Not just the ones which bring entertainment to others]

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Anxiety – Guest Post by Faith.

This morning I would very much like to share a guest post with you which simply comprises of a poem sent to me by a twelve grade student called Faith.  Here is what Faith said…

Hi!

My name is Faith and I am currently a grade twelve student. There have been some really difficult times in my life and as a result, I have written some pieces. This one is about anxiety and I would really appreciate, if you wouldn’t mind, to read it over. It’s a short poem.

Thanks so much,
Faith

As someone who knows these feelings well and also as someone who loves reading and writing poetry, I am delighted to be able to share this with you..

teenage anxiety

Anxiety

I can’t breathe.

I’m drowning and crying for help.

I’m screaming at the people around me,

But no words come out.

Panic fills up inside me,

As I surrender to the monsters.

Another attack,

Somebody help me, please.

It’s over now.

I try to regain my breath.

The people surrounding me stare at me,

Looks of uncertainty cover their faces.

I didn’t know it was going to happen,

Sometimes the trigger just comes.

I can’t do this on my own,

Although I’m in a crowd,

I feel all alone.

“It gets better” they all say.

“Just breathe and calm down”

They don’t understand.

There’s more to it than that.

I need help. But where can I find it?

Somebody save me,

I can’t do this on my own.

[Editor’s Note:  I am extremely grateful to Faith and want to thank her for sharing this with us.  But more importantly I want to send a message to you Faith asking if you are getting any help with your anxiety and any other mental health related difficulties that you may be facing.  No-one needs to face these things alone and we are here for you as much as we can be.]

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What One Thing Can People Do To Reduce Mental Health Stigma – Featured Article

PsySciI have recently been contacted by Marcus over at PSYSCI.CO regarding an article that he had written with the help of some of the guild’s members.  This article entitled ‘What One Thing Can People Do To Reduce Mental Health Stigma‘ asks and answers exactly what the title suggests and makes for interesting reading which very much affirms what many of us who write about mental health and mental illness feel/believe.

In his introduction to the piece the author explains….

I recently set out to ask this one question to as many mental health bloggers as I could get my hands on, in an attempt to provide a full and hopefully useful answer to the question.

And this is one area where the Mental Health Writers Guild came into play, with a number of Guild members being approached and responding accordingly.

Additionally, among the comments/responses made by members of the guild, was this comment from Mary Widdifield from Behind The Wall.

It is our responsibility to speak about mental illness openly in an effort to help those who will be diagnosed sometime in their lives. Because talking about mental illness openly is a first step toward reducing stigma, which is the first step our society must take to encourage the newly diagnosed to receive treatment.

Something which I think all our members would no doubt agree with.

I would therefore invite all Guild members to pop over and read this article and to show support.  And I am very grateful to Marcus from PSYSCI.CO for letting us know about it.

 

 

 

 

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Your Story – Guest Post From The Author of The “Out of The Dark” Blog

The following is a poem written by the author of the “Out  of The Dark” blog and sent to us as a way of encouraging other who might be going through the same or similar things.

We are very grateful for this submission and would encourage members to pop over to “Out of The Dark” to see what else is on offer over there.

Your Story

inspirationYour story is your own to write
Each moment adding to the plot
You can control your character
But other things you can not

When depression takes a hold

And you can’t see a way through
Please remember it is just a chapter
And it does not define you

being-in-lifeIt may be a very dark time
When the world feels empty
Even your sense of self changes
Full of loneliness, pain and apathy

But in managing to carry on
Just surviving each day
You show your inner strength
And nothing can take that away

You can not foresee a good ending
It seems impossible for it to be happy
But in the best stories darkness is overcome
And in you it is the hero that I see

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Her – Guest post by Silke

The following is a guest post written and submitted not by a known blogger or guild member but by someone who is aware of the guild and who is still going through education. She writes about her own personal experience with what is a very important issue faced by so many today.

I therefore have absolutely no reservation in sharing it with you and thank her for sending it to us.

Her.

She had never been the kind of girl that felt comfortable in her own body. She had always been fat. She had always been the girl that didn’t eat birthday cake at parties, or changed in the safety of the bathroom stall because she was ashamed of her body. She didn’t know when it began, only that it did. She supposed that perhaps it was when, in her dance class at age five; the teacher suggested that perhaps she should lose a few pounds. Or maybe it was when the nurse came to grade one and weighed all of the students, and she was the heaviest girl. She didn’t know. Not that it mattered.

school-bus1She stood shivering out in the cold desolate curb that was her bus-stop. The wind howled angrily as it raced by, whipping her hair against her skeletal face. Soon, the bright, happy yellow school bus arrived. The sound of the obnoxious, unnecessarily loud laughter wafted by her, its discernible stink making her crinkle her nose. She scowled, but determinately set her feet on the first step, then the second. Their attempts at whispering failed miserably. Or maybe they weren’t even trying. ‘That’s the one I was telling you about’ and ‘What a freak’ travelled to her unwilling ears as she made her way to her seat. Fourth from the front on the left side, with ‘Autistic Andy’. Not that he was really autistic; he was thus named for the stutter that often wracked his speech. She smiled at him as she sat down, then quickly looked away, her cheeks reddening slightly at the eager smile he gave her in return. They passed the rest of the bus ride in silence. Listening to the giggles of the girls as they flirted with the boys that were only interested in their bodies. And to the rude remarks that the boys made to prove this. And then again, the giggling of the girls, to show that they didn’t care.

She lingered on the bus, waiting with Andy. She wasn’t eager to plunge into the mess of emotional pain that was her high school life. Once everyone else had left, she had little choice in the matter though. She walked out of the bright yellow bus, and headed for a place far worse. Its muddy-brown walls were riddled with black eyes that watched her with malicious intent as she approached. She gulped nervously as she got nearer, and then allowed herself to be swallowed by its huge, gaping mouth.

The day passed as most did, for her. Her classes, anxious interludes to the dreaded walks through the hallways. Lunch, her sitting by herself on the rickety old picnic bench while she engrossed herself in the life of someone whose life was so much better. Her traitorous mouth salivated when people walked by with food, its scent so tempting to her forcefully empty stomach. ‘No’ she reminded herself. ‘You know how many carbs are in that.’ Or ‘You’d be a cow if you ate that!’ ‘No’ seemed to be the answer to everything these days.

It was not until she stepped off of the bus after her long day and onto safer ground that her shoulders released the tension that she had held there. ‘Another day done, only 182 more to go’, she thought to herself with a sigh of remorse. ‘That’s a long time.’ Even the chirping of the birds and the cheerful sun shining down couldn’t cure her dark temperament.

Walking into her small house in the country with a white picket fence all around it and a garden of pink and yellow gladiolas she heard her mom cheerily call out, ‘dinner’s almost ready! I made your favourite- lasagne!’ ‘Sounds great mom!’ She forced a happy tone to her words, as she did everyday (with varying amounts of success). She groaned inwardly though, silently lamenting that something as delicious as lasagne was still off-limits for her. Dinner was as delicious as her flawless blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother had promised. She ardently devoured three pieces of the cheesy, greasy lasagne before excusing herself on the pretence of a test the next day. She rushed to the bathroom upstairs, and, as soon as the door was securely locked, she shoved her index finger down her throat.

[Editor’s Note:  I would again like to point out that this article was sent to us by someone who is neither a known blogger, nor a member of the guild.   She (Silke) is instead a young lady who is still going through her education and who – aware of the guild – was brave enough to share her own personal story with us in the hope of reaching others.

I am so very grateful to her for sharing this with us and want to encourage her to continue in her writing and in expressing herself in this way.  After all, aren’t the principle reasons why so many of us blog in order to find a voice for what we are experiencing and in the hope of reaching others?

If what Silke has shared with us has effected you in any way, or you would also like to encourage her, please feel free to comment below.]   

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Bipolar Makes A Mess: Can Counseling help? – Guest post by happygrumpymom

The following is a guest post submitted by happygrumpymom from over at www.happygrumpymom.wordpress.com and is published with both her permission and my thanks…

Bipolar Makes A Mess: Can Counseling help?

Managing my bipolar disorder is difficult – and yes, sometimes it makes “normal” life impossible. For the times when I come out of the mess – through counseling, medication, and lifestyle choices, I am hoping to find the solutions that are right for me. I am happy (most of the time) to have the rest of my life in front of me as someone who takes responsibility for and does my best to manage my illness so I can be a positive support to my family and community.

Recently after going through the denial stage (off medication) where I experienced a few months of depression ending in a manic mixed state, a helpful friend who knew I wasn’t doing so well and also knew I would need to have good habits in place in addition to my medication, asked if I was making any progress with my counselor. He asked if my counselor makes me mad… hmmm… well… seeing that I’m already kind of in a “mad” mood – but, I knew what he meant… does my counselor push me? Does he bring up aspects that I need to change that make me uncomfortable? The answer is… at first, yes – absolutely, yes.

Cunseling 101aWhen I first went to my counselor I didn’t want to go back. He started out with some sheets of skills to work on that I took rather personally. In addition, I figure… these are tough chemicals… you want me to outsmart them?? But, eventually, I had to admit that there were more than a few things there I could work on. So, I kept going back, and after a while I didn’t feel so “mad” that I had needed to work on some things – rather, I just wanted to change them.

It’s been a while since I began meeting with this particular counselor and although I’ve taken more than my share of steps backwards, I’ve also done a lot to move forward. I think often, because I can be stubborn and sometimes slow to catch on, I have to go through something big in order to really commit to change and make it a reality. And sometimes I just have to accept that each day brings something new – sometimes crappy feelings I have to sleep off and sometimes good feelings I want to live for and work for.

So, yeah, I’m asking my counselor to keep making me mad and doing my best to actively make change a reality in my thoughts and lifestyle. New habits take time, and when bipolar isn’t completely kicking my butt, I’m up for the challenge.

[Editor’s Note:  I am sure that many of the Guild’s members will have been through counseling at some stage or another in their journey.  And some are or have been sat in the other seat and are the one’s giving the counseling.  So this is something that many of us can relate to.  I am very grateful to happygrumpymom for sharing this with us and would encourage members to pop across and visit her blog and see what else happygrumpymom has to share.]

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