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Luna’s story of getting help with Self Harm

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggled with child hood abuse, social anxiety, depression, and self harm

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

At first I went to my friends that I trusted. They helped me to stop self harm for the first time but did not help when I relapsed.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

When I was 13 my mom found my blade under my bed and got me the help I needed by getting a therapist.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Today I am still struggling with my social anxiety and self harm but my depression is not as bad and I got adopted by my 2 wonderful moms.I’m so much better that 3 years ago.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

Just fight and stay strong. You will get through it

 

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Marco’s Story of Mental Illness, Therapy, Support, and Acceptance

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Many hardships have plagued my life when I think about my existence. Some souls just seem to be predisposed for misfortune. Despite having a happy and loving childhood, this is also the time where my struggles started. I could talk easily speak upon the terrible things that derailed my life at such a young age, but I’d much rather begin with where these things truly began effecting me. I became aware of my possible depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder in high school. A slight identity crisis came over me and it ripped me away from the person I was or wanted to be. I questioned my worth and felt misunderstood in a world that I knew deep in my heart, had the potential to be beautiful. Due to my lack of understanding, acceptance, and most importantly self-love, I allowed my emotions to skew this potential vision. It became too much when I finally tried to take my life at the age of 15. It saddens me to think that I contemplated death before I genuinely realized I needed help, but that’s the truth.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

Throughout the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have received a multitude of outlets for support. It all began with talk therapy. For the first few months worth of sessions, I stayed silent. I had yet to make the realization that if I were to feel any better, I had to be willing to accept the help I was being offered. Once I allowed myself to be vulnerable with the universe, and more specifically my therapist, I noticed gradual changes in my psyche. I was also introduced to a psychiatrist and placed on a few different anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. After doing my own research on mental illness, I came to the conclusion that I knew what was best for me and medication was out of the question. I knew that If were to truly be better, I had to master my emotions and learn to cope with them. Of course there’s more to my support system but that’s how it all began! Looking back, I can truly say that I am grateful for everyone and everything that supported me when I wasn’t very lovable.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Most definitely! Talk therapy did that for me. I was not used to someone sitting down with me and just talking about everything I had experienced and felt the week prior. Besides simply speaking upon my emotions, she gave me tons of techniques to implement and practice in my waking life to be a better, stronger, and more kind human being. It took quite a bit of time and energy to create comfortable state of mind for myself but I can honestly say I feel like a master piece and a work in progress at the same time.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Life feels peaceful. I realize now that all of the pain, struggles, mistakes, abandonment, disappointments, losses, failures and so on that I have experienced has meaning. These things helped me to learn an extremely vital key to my existence: There’s beauty to be found in everything! Some days it’s harder to see than other but I promise you, the world is round for a reason. If you continue to radiate positive energy, kindness, appreciation, gratitude, and love, it will reciprocate in your life. It’s just the way the universe works!

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

Healing starts within! No one in this world can force you to change. You must first have the desire to be better then be willing to seek out whatever it is that will benefit you and your journey. If you do not have an unconditional love, a whole-hearted acceptance, and a true understanding for your own mind body and soul, how can you expect to love, accept, and trust anyone else? Please take the time to prioritize your life to make your energy, your passions, your dreams, your happiness, and especially your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health come first. When you are loving, kind, and gentle with yourself, you are able to perceive the world around you in similar manner. Everything that you could ever want in life is waiting for you. So be accepting of change, embrace the unknown! Fear should have no place in your life. The journey is the destination. Just please believe in the power of peace, love, and positivity. Don’t wait for a better tomorrow, create it!

 

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Monique’s Poetic Battle With Anxiety

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I’ve always struggled with anxiety/nerves since childhood and always just brushed it off and thought of it as a weakness. Coming from a Caribbean background, things like this are easily brushed off, considered a weakness, or even something they think you will “grow out of”. My sophomore year of college, i started my self love journey and my anxiety was at its lowest and controllable. But once my senior year crept around the corner, thoughts about my career path, life after college, intense courses, family issues and financial stability became too overbearing. My anxiety was at its all time high, and depression randomly smacked me in the face all at once and the feeling was new to me. Both the anxiety and depression began to control me and my emotions. I found my self having mental breakdowns at home, at school, in class so i would have to rush to the bathroom. It really got out of control and took a tole on me because I would have these mental breakdowns in the bathroom and go back to class/work as if nothing happened. I would mask those emotions with a smile and laughter (basically delirious behavior) because a happy person can’t be depressed, right? No one knew, or even had a clue.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

i started going to counseling and it did make me feel better to have someone to speak to. I went to therapy once a week and started writing poetry a lot more.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

i began writing poems in the midst of a mental breakdown and started having journals with me EVERYWHERE I went. I would read the poem maybe the day after and my own words began to touch my soul.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I graduate in May so that’s exciting! I still struggle with my anxiety and have really low days, but I just write it out and remind myself that nothing bad last forever. These experiences inspired me to be more open towards mental health and possibly leaning more about the subject to help others struggling with the same problem.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

” remain positive, strong and persevere” was a mantra I created going into my senior year and repeating that in tough times really helped me get through long nights. I would also ALWAYS recommend writing or doing something to release the inner turmoil. In most cases we try to ignore these unfamiliar feelings but we must EXPRESS our self’s! Keep loving you!

 

 

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Tricia’s Story of Surviving Trauma

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Trauma has been a part of my story, for as long as I can remember. Not too long after came PTSD, codependency, chronic pain and then came addiction. My addiction brought me to my knees. Oblivion was my reprieve. I was spiraling out of control with no end in sight. Opiates had me by the throat and I failed to realize just how far down the scale I had fallen.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

Prescription in hand, I felt completely justified. After all, I did have a prescription from a doctor. I failed to mention that I was not taking the medication, as prescribed, ever. Oh and I always finished the prescription long before it was time for a refill. I found myself facing serious legal consequences and I finally surrendered. I left for detox and then a dual-diagnosis treatment center, and it changed my life. Underneath all of the drugs and alcohol was a scared little 5 year old girl that never cleared the wreckage from her past. I was forced to dance with my fears and I never looked back. Accepting treatment was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I will never forget that day in my caseload group… the dreadful day that I was forced to be vulnerable in front of a group of my peers. I am rebellious by nature, but when anything emotional came up, I was an emotional vault. I had been wearing my traumas like a warm blanket for over 20 years and yet I was still refusing to face them. The group facilitator continued to ‘poke the bear’ until I lost my composure. I absolutely word vomited every painful experience with rage and deep rooted pain, in front of a group of 15 other people. The release was instantaneous and the response was so full of love and support. That day was truly the turning point for me. You see, drugs and alcohol were never my problem. The truth is, my fundamental inability to deal with anything emotional was my problem. I felt like I was standing completely naked in a room with spectators and I’ve never experienced more freedom.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I have been sober almost three years now. Today, I gravitate towards things that make me uncomfortable. I know that through discomfort comes adversity, but ultimately comes growth. I continue to seek ongoing PTSD therapy and I am actively involved in my local AA community. I stay connected to the women I’ve met in sobriety. Some days, they carry me when I cannot carry myself. Sharing my experiences with other women struggling with co-occurring disorders gives me hope. I work for Recovery Local and I get the opportunity to spread hope to other struggling addicts daily. I am a successful and present mother to two beautiful children and they give me so much purpose. I have the opportunity to show up for the people that mean the most. Pursuing the things that set my soul on fire has been my saving grace. I have finally found my purpose and this has been the driving force for me to continue the good fight.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

If you are struggling with addiction, be mindful that there is no cookie cutter way to deal with the overwhelming feelings that follow. Allow yourself to feel every emotion as it ebbs and flows, without judgement. Avoid isolation and reach out for support from people you trust. Grief is all encompassing but there is hope found in the most unexpected places. Support groups and tapping into family and friends, saved my life. I found hope when I called detoxlocal.com. The resources on their site grabbed my attention. However, the representative I spoke with held my hand every step of the way. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel judgement but rather unconditional love and support. Detox Local has a nationwide directory of accredited detox centers as well as an overwhelming amount of resources.

Respond to Tricia’s story: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/tricias-story/

Johnathan’s Story of Living w/ Suicidal Ideation

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have struggled with suicidal ideation. At 14 I made my first attempt on my life. I was hospitalized soon after. After a three month stay in a psychiatric inpatient in New York I returned home in Connecticut for two weeks. I made another attempt which had a significant impact on my physical help. I was prescribed an antidepressant soon after. I was admitted to the same New York hospital for the duration of the medication trial, for three more months. Over the next seven years and several medications ranging from antipsychotics, to antidepressants (SSRIs), and mood stabilizers, I had amassed for years and nine months in intensive inpatients and psychiatric residentials around Connecticut. All due to repeated suicide attempts and self harm related incidents.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I was initially repeatedly admitted to inpatients. My family did not believe that I was legitimately experiencing a distorted existential crisis. Our culture does not recognize any mental challenges. I was not receptive to the western therapies provided nor were they modified to fit my background.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Things began to change upon my admission to the state hospital in Connecticut. There, I refused any psychotrophic medication. I was convinced that in order to think differently, I need to seek out information that related to other individuals afflicted with suicidal ideation. This is where my interest in neuropsychology began. After learning about how the brain is left with significant impressions after traumatic events and the means to rewire certain neurotransmitters in people with a fair amount of brain plasticity, I was convinced that I could recondition myself and lessen the impact of my suicidal thoughts. Since then, I have dedicated countless hours of research into the subject and remain motivated to share that medication is not the only option when addressing individuals with varying mental challenges.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I am now a Training Coordinator an warmline operator for Join Rise Be (Advocacy Unlimited) in Connecticut. I am also an executive officer for the NAACP. I intend on continuing down the path of activism and advocacy from those whom are disadvantaged or underrepresented and oppressed by our society’s infrastructure.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I would suggest that they seek out as much information as possible on their affliction. The more information that you have on your “flaws”, the more empowered you are. You should never seek to change but rather, better yourself. And do not lose hope for better circumstances nor an improved perspective on your life. No one will save you from yourself, you must be prepared to fight your own perceived deficits.

If I could give myself some advice then, I would tell myself to learn more about the medication before being convinced that they alone could possibly ease my suffering.

 

Respond to Johnathan’s story: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/johnathans-story/

Luca’s Story of Fighting Against Addiction and Mental Illness

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

From the age of 13 I began to combat developing feelings of Depression and Generalized Anxiety. I grew up in an Upper-Middle class family, in a nice area, I had loving parents that got along and followed the rules. However, regardless of my fortunate atmosphere I started to feel things I’d never felt before. Following were self-mutilation, sleep deprivation, and good ol’ Psychiatric Hospitalization. It was a progressive disease developing in my head in which I had perceived was slowly rotting my brain. A hopeless case of defeat in which there would never be a cure for the sickness in my brain. I was introduced to Marijuana around the age of 14, and boy did that help me out. If I was bored, I could smoke, if I was mad or sad, I could smoke, if I was happy, then let’s smoke!!! Like any other teen I had my justifications, “It’s a plant, they use it for cancer, it evokes creativity, it’s going to be legal soon”, I didn’t understand that without it, I was defenseless against my thinking disease, and in the process unleashed a new one, the disease of addiction. I told myself the boundaries were limited to pot, my addiction told me that it was okay to drink, use tobacco, do whip-its, and then gradually intensified from there. If I didn’t have a way to get high I needed to find a way to, I started rummaging through family member’s pill cabinets, swallowing painkillers and muscle relaxers, stealing money from family to feed my addiction. Of course, at the time I was under no impression at all that I may have any sort of “substance abuse” problem. People told me I did but i didn’t see what the big deal was, I was just doing it for fun, I was just doing it because I like the way it felt, why can’t everyone just get off my back?! Well little did I know, the absence of drugs would push holes into my brain and heart, and when i would get high again it was to temporarily fill those holes for the time being. My diseases progressed with time, morphing into one evil that was separate from myself, a being that took over me, that was very clearly who I had been or was on the inside. My imagination took a sharp turn into sadistic thoughts powered by nihilism. I began to imagine different scenarios of me killing myself, every, single, day. This escalated until I found any excuse to get high, because it’s the only state I felt comfortable in.

 

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Unfortunately for most teenagers and young adults, we are all very ignorant in our ways still, and it usually takes a significant event to change our minds about something. For me, it was the way my actions through using drugs (and alcohol) affected the people around me. It took a while, and those people got hurt so many times, but eventually I began to experience the feelings of selflessness. The pain that I caused around me opened up my eyes and allowed me to finally realize that I wasn’t the only one who was affected by my using. From there, I knew it was time to address my addiction.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life, is amazing now, I would have never imagined making the process I have so far in the short amount of time that I’ve put work into “recovery”. My mood is much more stable, I struggle with depression and anxiety MUCH less and at VERY little amounts of intensity. I can be trusted by my family and friends again. I don’t have to worry about leaving my phone out unattended. I’m so proud of myself for making a turn around in my life, especially being only 17.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

Empowerment, you need to feel powerful. You need to gain a sense of control over your life, you need to feel confident in the words “I can do this”. Sometimes you need to hype yourself up, sometimes you have to listen to some energizing music, or drink caffeine, or sometimes….you just need someone to give a pep talk for you. I still do it all the time, “Hey Rob, I know this is gonna sound weird, but can you give me a little pep talk? I need somethin to get me goin”.

Rachel’s Journey with OCD

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have struggled with pretty bad OCD. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeats over and over. Compulsion’s included counting, checking, ordering etc.… I started exhibiting symptoms of OCD when I was around 9. I’d spend my time checking/ordering my school bag, making sure everything I needed was in there preventing a future panic attack for when I realize I am missing something I need at school. Years ago, on my nightstand table, there was chap stick, glasses, water, and my earrings. I spent hours staring and counting each item on my night dresser until it finally ‘felt right’. I struggled maintaining friends because my OCD rituals would constantly interfere with what we were doing. I began to feel sad, as I was frustrated and confused. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. Once my OCD starting to truly interfere with my everyday life, my parents brought me to see a psychologist

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

The first support I got was from my parents. They listened to me through everything. They brought me to see several therapists to figure out what was wrong. Sooner or later I was diagnosed with OCD. Soon after, I went on medication and went to exposure therapy. Eventually, things got a lot better and I was able to continue on with my life.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I have seen so many therapists in my lifetime. It took months to find the right therapists for me. But once I found her, the search became worth it. This was a huge turning point, as I was finally able to confide in someone and learn techniques on how to subside the OCD.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Now I am mentally healthy. Although I am still on medication for my OCD, I am happy and haven’t experienced any OCD symptoms in a long time. I am now on the track to establish a career in psychology. I took AP Psychology as a senior and got an internship job for TurningPointCT to work with teens and adults with mental illnesses or substance abuse.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

To the people who are having a tough time – reach out. Ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing help. You are not alone.

 

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Beth’s Story of Life After Losing Her Mom

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

My mom died when I was 17. My parents became preoccupied with her illness for the year prior to her death. I had to become very independent and mature at a very young age. My sister, who was my best friend, was away at school leaving me alone in the chaos. I have struggled with anxiety for a while and balancing work and school constantly triggered breakdowns. I felt like I had to be strong at school, pretending that I was happy and my life was fine. After my mom died and I could no longer conceal my family’s problems I did not know how to handle my emotions or the people that wanted to help. My family has issues with discussing their emotions and problems and this can be difficult to handle at times.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I have a very strong relationship with my therapist. She is probably one of the only people that I can fully talk about my emotions to. She knows all of my secrets and understands my insecurities. She has helped me come to terms with my feelings and be able to discuss them. She often helps me through my problems and can aid me in staying on track with my life even when it is very hard to deal with.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

This year I made really amazing friends. They have been incredibly supportive of everything that I have gone through. They constantly listen to me when I just need to talk and relieve stress. They are understanding and compassionate and often talk me through my moments and family issues. They have definitely been a high moment in my life and I am so grateful for meeting them.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My sister is my best friend and is always there for me. We go through everything together. I often use my family as my support system. I am heading to college in the fall and am very excited to begin my life. I have 3 jobs at the moment and love to keeping busy. I am a nanny for 2 adorable little boys, I work in my church nursery on Sundays and I work at a retail store in Westport. I know my mom would be proud of everything that I have accomplished and how hard I work on a daily basis.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

It will get better. No matter how hard life is at the moment it will get better. Always make sure that you are doing everything you can to make yourself happy and find things in life that you are passionate about. It is the things in life that you cannot control that make you stronger. Learn from your experiences and always try to be the best person you can be.

 

 

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Fallyn – Getting Back On Track

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have always had issues with my mother and her way of coping. She was never the nicest woman. But it always seemed to reflect onto me; in the way she tore me down, the way she smacked me around the house no matter how hard I tried to please her. Then suddenly, she was gone. And I was free. But grief, depression, and psychotic episodes broke me down even further than I’d intended. I feared that I would BE her in the long run; that someone who was dead… Was someone who would never leave me alone.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

For a long while I didn’t feel the need to turn to support. It was the feeling of, ‘they won’t understand’, ‘who are they to me?’, ‘they’ll treat me like her’, etc. And they had. They did what I feared and sent me away to a facility to be treated. I was furious, I was hurt, I was… Lost. And it felt as though I was continuing to lose the battle I’d never begun to understand. When I got out for the second time, the psychiatrists enrolled me in intensive out=patient therapy. Even then, I was still confused and bitter.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Ironically, it was during my treatment in IOP that things began to change gears. One person -the man who ran the group- sat across the way and told me how I wore masks, accused me of not wanting to get better the worse. Everyone in the group agreed with him. And it was then that I understood something HAD to change.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I enrolled in a Mental Health CT workshop for young writers, I got back into writing not for the sake of anyone else but for myself, I began to draw again… I look forward to the day I get back on stage like I used to and feel the thrill of taking on a character’s role. Most recently, I got accepted into college to pursue a career in Psychology. I got up and got a job despite the state calling me ‘disabled’. I pushed myself to pursue my interests even if I feel like they’re making me angrier rather than happier. I made the effort to get back on track, and it feels good.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

To those who are having a tough go, or are going through a bad moment… I would express that perhaps it’s not about where they came from at the time, but where they’ll end up. Their scars from their experiences, whether they be shallow or deep, cannot define who we are in the long run even if they follow us for a lifetime. So don’t waste that long licking them, or you’ll lose sight of who you really should be in the end.

 

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HBK- Taking steps forward

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have lived what most would recognize as a charmed life. I am an only child, I have two loving and supportive parents who are still married. I went to good schools, I was involved in gifted programs throughout school and I have always seemed to thrive academically. But no one has ever really known my inner feelings of depression, loneliness, crippling anxiety and my excessive stress overload that I bring upon myself. I am now, 24 years old. Throughout my childhood years, I didn’t think life could possibly be better. I had friends, a great family, school. But inching into my young adult and now early 20’s a lot has happened to me and it has affected how I view myself, others and the world as a whole. I had never been one for dating in school. Boys didn’t interest me and my goals were too lofty to waste time on meaningless relationships. That was until I met my first boyfriend. Joe. We met when I was 19. He was it for me. I thought we would spend the rest of our lives together. Have kids. Live somewhere fabulous. But that dream came to a startling halt. He started showing signs of aggression and abuse. Being that I was always someone who wanted to help others, I stayed, despite the mental and sometimes physical abuse. It progressively got worse. I kept telling myself he would change. It would stop because he loved me so much, he would never seriously hurt me. Well, he did. The ending of our relationship was a physical altercation that ended in his arrest and me going to the hospital. If this wasn’t traumatic enough, I was also pregnant at the time. I would later miscarry that baby and that would start my downward spiral into depression. After this, I played it safe with dating. I dated a few guys here and there but nothing of any serious nature. Then, my current husband and I started dating. He has a very colorful past and little did I know it would come into play in our marriage. It has recently come out that he has cheated on me while he was away for work. We are trying to work through this indiscretion but I am finding that it is almost impossible to do. Aside from that, we are in the middle of a custody battle from hell. His mother, (biological), has had guardianship of his daughter since her birth mother passed away when she was just a baby. His mother was supposed to give his daughter back after he was fully rehabilitated from his addictions and bad behavior after the mother of his child passed away. Well, this did not happen. She withheld his child from him, and he has had to take her to court to get her guardianship terminated. This has proven to be the worst possible idea ever. She has repeatedly tried to get us to end our relationship, she has tried on numerous occasions to get my husband arrested by making false police claims. She is an awful woman. The last 5 years of my life have been horrible. Full of anger, hate, sadness, and guilt. I feel like I am falling down a rabbit hole that I just can’t get out of.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I had thought that counseling wasn’t for me. I had put it off for years. Due to the recent chaos between my husband and I and his family, we decided to try counseling together. I felt that it benefited us for the better, but after a while, we started making excuses and ended our sessions.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I haven’t experienced any turning points yet. I am waiting for karma and God to take the wheel from me and allow me to do what I have been doing and trust that things will get better eventually.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I recently got hired at my dream job, so that has been a plus. My husband was granted majority custody of his daughter for now and we have a final court date this next month to hopefully get our daughter back 100% of the time.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

Everything happens for a reason. If it is taking longer for you to reach a goal, that is because it isn’t the right time for you to have it, or you haven’t put in the correct amount of work to acquire it yet. Just be patient. Your life has a plan and whether you believe in a higher power or not, just trust that your life will work out. Be open to happiness, stay true to yourself, don’t ever change for anyone, and love yourself first. Above everything and everyone else.

 

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Dania- How Sharing my Secret Helped me Move Forward

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I was raped by my uncle and aunt when I was just a little girl. I struggled with it all my life. Couple years ago I decided it was time to tell my story. I knew if I wanted to get better it was time to tell my therapist what happened to me when I was a child.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I never told no one about it because my adopted mother did not believe me. So I figured if she did not believe me no one else would. It take years before I was able to tell my life story.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Yes because when I told my story yo my therapist I was in a group home and if I wanted to feel better and move on with my life. I had to do it. And how I live on my own. I do have staff that checks in on me.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is better then before. I been living on my own for 2 years and it feels good. And now I want to conquer the world and own my own cleaning business and down the road I might write my life story.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I do not know what to say. Because I do still struggle with issues in my life. Where sometimes I will go in and out the hospital for trying to commit suicide. I just told you half of my story there’s so much more to my life. One thing I have to say is if you went your past to stop haunting you you need to definitely trust somebody that you know that will help you and support you and your decisions that you make in your life. I just have to find the right person that I was going to feel comfortable with and talk about my story I promise you it is going to be very difficult it was extremely difficult just imagine this happened to you when you was a child and you’ve been holding it in for years after years I would say I’m 29 now and I told my story when I was about 25 so that’s how long I had held my stories in.

 

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Jason’s Story of Strength

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggled with being bullied, not just being called names, but being hit for no reason off of the football field.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I didn’t have any support, I pretty much became a coward freshman year.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I started to lift, and took the stress and anger on the weights. I continue to lift as a passion since that day, a year and a half difference made people want to talk to me.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is pretty simple. Occasional sparks will fly, but because of what I was put through, and what I did, whether creating a me nobody wants to be around when someone hurts others or when I like to strike a smile on someone’s face, my life has become a whole lot better.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

The people who are being bullied, listen. If they’re calling you names, let them. They’re only doing it because they see something in you they fear. Trust me. If I had known that, I wouldn’t be as challenging as I am today. I think I cause more fights just because of how my physical ability is now. The bullies can’t take you on if you’re smarter, stronger, or faster than them.
Oh, and make sure you have a friend there. If things get bad, they’ll back you up.

D.S.’s story of surviving abuse

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggled with being abused. The abuse was physical, mental and emotional. It became too much when I realized some people would never change.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I received support from my family and friends, it helped somewhat but it wasn’t enough to keep me away.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

Things became better when I left my abuser.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is better I can say. No more stress, drama, and or any form of abuse. I’m a single mother working as a delivery driver and going to college for medical assisting and after I graduate I plan to do videography.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I’d probably say it takes one step at a time. You have to know when enough is enough for you and be strong enough to stick by it. I wish I would’ve known that a person such as him was out there and could reach someone like me. I wish I would’ve known ahead of time the signs to look for that meant ‘run for your life’

 

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Jozlin’s Story of Creating her Life Worth Living

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I don’t struggle, I battle with depression, agoraphobia, and PTSD. It became too much 1 year ago.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I got none. No one wanted to help me and that just leaves me to help myself.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I moved away from those who abused me, made me feel like I wasn’t even worth to be called dirt. But they still try to pry their way back in.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

I have a son. He makes me laugh like I haven’t laughed in years. He’s my accomplishment. My husband and i got an apartment. We don’t have a couch. Just two camping chairs. We literally don’t have much but we’re safe.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

No matter how many times they say sorry, if they’re still doing horrible things to you after that you need to push them away. Get away from them. They make it worse.

 

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Andre J. D. – Building my Social Skills

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

– Social skills
– Friendships

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I attend FCA in Norwalk I went to social skills groups in Trumbull and Westport. I went to Grace Farms. I attend social work. I attend therapy

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

I joined a group at grace farms that meets on Fridays. It has taught me a lot about the social skills. I have to be thankful for the support I have. A lot of people don’t get the support that we get there

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is now a better life. Since I have attended these groups it has helped me. I enjoy the friends that I have. I could not be more thankful for the support I have.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

If you guys are having a hard time talk it out. Join a club or a activity. It is not hard to find a club, People will accept you for who you are.

 

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Lauren’s Story: Breaking Free From my Abusive Dad

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggle with my relationship with my father but it took a turning point when he started being abusive. He hit me in the back of my head and one time saw me naked in the shower, despite me telling him don’t come in, and stared at my body and specifically one part of my body. He also has a temper and is unpredictable. He often made statements saying I can make your life hard or as he said it,” a living hell”. He once pinning my little sister to the wall choking her and when I intervened by  jumping on his back he threw me into an exercising machine. Afterwards he told us we should be lucky our stepmother stopped him or he would have hurt us and if I tried to basically defend myself from him I would regret it. Whenever he calls I start shaking uncontrollably and loose my appetite. I’m scared for me and my sisters well being and wish I could stay with my mom.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

The only support I had was my sisters. We weren’t with my mom, the courts didn’t even bother talking to us, our own attorney had an attitude with us and the night we were taken from my mom she had my sister in a choke hold, my sister’s face turning red, over a phone that my sister put in her shirt that the attorney dug in my sister’s shirt to take, and my therapists eventually stopped talking to me, saying she couldn’t help me.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

The only turning point is when he kicked me and my sister out and now me and my little sister live with my mom we he said our mom could have us back and now my mom is going to the courts so we can be with her. There is a paper where my mom and him make an agreement were we can visit both of them my mom is willing to sign it but he refuses despite us telling him it would be better.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life now is bitter sweet in a way. I live with my mom now and since I left my father, my depression has decreased greatly but, still when I get calls or text from my father I start to shake uncontrollably and loose my appetite and even sometimes use the bathroom more. Having to wonder what will happen being back to that house and when it would happen and what will I do and how I can protect my little sister from our abusive dad.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

For anybody that has a situation similar to me, my advice would be is to focus on your future and imagine a life where your only stress is minor bills and what to eat for dinner or what to wear. Where all your fears have vanished, and know soon once you hit 18 you’ll be free.

 

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Bulimia: The Never Ending Cycle

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

The Never Ending Cycle

October 24, 2009
Dr. E suggested I keep a writing journal along with the food journal, so here it is. She said to write about my progress (or lack thereof) plus anything else I want, and that it will be for my eyes only. I used to write in journals when I was younger, but opted out once I realized how much they brought my thoughts to life. Silly thoughts, dark thoughts, sometimes thoughts I never knew I had were all hastily materialized per blue ink scribbles. I soon learned that past me preferred to keep such thoughts from future me, and with that, the journaling ceased.
Today, the journaling commences.

October 26, 2009
I threw up today. I woke up knowing I would; not a single hint of doubt crossed my mind. I’m supposed to keep track of all the times I throw up and pursue possible motives, although I don’t know that there are any. My life really isn’t that hard, and I feel like naming “triggers” is just delegating blame. Have a bad day? Eat the problems away. Don’t like looking in that mirror? Try the toilet. Dropped a pencil on the floor? Go ahead and purge about it. And I do purge about it. I purge about this and that, every day.

October 30, 2009
Dr. E told me she doesn’t expect my habits to change overnight, and to not be discouraged on days like today, or like yesterday. She says once the new prescription kicks in (Prozac) that things should get easier. I’m finding it very hard to keep the food journal for reasons similar to why I couldn’t keep my childhood journals. Quantifying my binges makes me feel almost as sick as the binges themselves. I am aware that humans are not meant to bring so much food into their bodies. Before and during a binge my stomach has learned to disregard the concepts of “hungry” and “full,” and I’m not sure why.

November 5, 2009
Today’s therapy session brought up something I hadn’t thought about in years: when this all started. The first time I threw up was in the seventh grade. Recalling the details feels more like recalling a dream than an actual event that took place in a conscious state. It was in the bathroom sink, and I used a toothbrush instead of my fingers. The purge was both easy and painless, and I remember getting into bed that night thinking I had a new secret I would have to keep from the world. I lied down with a guileful grin, then drifted off into an effortless sleep. At the time, it was a solution to eliminating the perpetual discontent I had with my body. I thought I’d finally found the key to feeling more comfortable in my own skin. I felt I had discovered a covert loophole to the laws of physiology. Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that this wouldn’t be the incredible weight loss solution I had imagined (if anything I have gained weight since the cycle began), but here I am four years later.
That impassioned and temperamental middle schooler is worlds away from the young adult who stares back at me in the mirror now. Today I don’t ride the same emotional roller coaster. I don’t ride a tilt-a-whirl, or even carousel. I am stagnant in manner, aloof in presence. The anxiety and extreme self awareness we all encounter in our awkward pubescent stages had long been lifted, but nothing took their place. There is something quite magical about going through days uninfluenced by emotion. My ‘emotion log’ I was asked to fill out for Dr. E has the word “indifferent” written on Sunday, with an arrow leading it through the rest of the week. My boyfriend doesn’t get to hear the words “I love you” or experience any sort of sincere passion from my end. My friends are granted loyalty, honesty, confidence, but never genuine sympathy. My eyes don’t experience the swelling brought on by heart shattering tears, or by euphoric tears. I embrace the nothing. Nothing greets me every morning, then helps me sleep well at night. And through the years, my purges watched as the nothing slowly began to emerge.
Purges came long before the binging did. The latter was an inevitable aftermath. Once the two met, they linked hands, then chose my brain as their permanent place of residence. They haven’t parted with me since; they’re noisy and ornery and it’s impossible to forget them.

Nov 21, 2009
It’s been about two weeks since my last entry, and to be honest I’ve been avoiding writing in here. I told Dr. E I’m not fond of the journaling, but she says it might help me in the long run. I haven’t yet been given a reason not to trust her, so here is round two.
I threw up six times since Monday, and Dr. E said this is an improvement. I don’t exactly agree. The urges are just as bad, if not worse, and without them subsiding I don’t feel improved at all. For me, the urges are the worst part. Once one is triggered, it doesn’t go away. The urge to eat everything in plain sight takes over my thoughts until it is satisfied. This leads to the next urge, one just as strong, to relieve my body of every last bite.
I’m not proud to admit, even if it is just to future me, that I’ve relieved the urge in places outside of my own home. If the first hint of compulsion cannot be overcome, the cycle must reach completion. I’ve thrown up in friends’ bathrooms, I’ve thrown up in school bathrooms. One time I threw up in a bush in the backyard in the pouring rain, just to make sure I relieved the urge without my family hearing.
I really don’t like writing in journals.

Nov 24, 2009
I didn’t ever plan on going to therapy. I knew I had a problem, but I was convinced that I could stop the purging whenever I felt like it. I was convinced I was in control. I didn’t make a connection between the eating issues and my degrading emotion for a long time.
In the ninth grade my mother heard me throwing up. She called me into her bedroom after the fact and sat me down. I remember being caught off guard by her reaction; she wasn’t upset or worried, but rather angry and disappointed. In her eyes I was a young tenacious warrior, resilient to the petty pressures of adolescence. “This has to stop now,” she told me, “you need to be stronger.” I nodded and went to bed.
I didn’t receive any follow up questions or check-ins after the incident. The issue was brushed under the rug, and I couldn’t have been more relieved about it. The only thing I hated more than having the problem was talking about it.
Then one day, two years later, I finally recognized that hiding the problem wasn’t helping make it disappear, and that talking was my only other option. This time I called my mother into the room and sat her down. I admitted to my continuous struggles with the binging and purging between hysterical sobs. She cradled my shaking body, holding my head close to her heart. My mother may not have been able to identify with the problem, but this time it seemed as if she sincerely understood and accepted her daughter’s indecent flaw. Those were the first tears to escape my eyes in over a year, a prolonged imprisonment of emotions begging to be let out. I let them all out. A week later I found myself in Dr. E’s office.
I was nervous for my first day of therapy, as I had never talked to anyone about purging, let alone a perfect stranger. My mother offered to accompany me to the primary session for support. I accepted this offer.
I am at a loss for words to appropriately describe the feeling of having my mother in therapy that day. She had to hear her perfect little angel confess to the purges, describe them in their utmost detail. She had to listen to me define what a typical binge consisted of down to the last calorie. She took this all in silently with a blank face, and I have no idea what went through her mind. My voice trembled as it filled the cumbersome office air. It was the first time I’d verbalized any of this.
I was relieved when I first met Dr. E. My first impression was that she was very amicable, a good seven inches shorter than me with ivory white hair and a truly sympathetic demeanor. When I attend our weekly visits she listens thoughtfully and intently for the entire sixty minutes. She often wears a smile, which helps me feel relaxed. Her face is aged from a lifetime of grinning and laughter. In one of our earlier sessions we discussed the option of me going to a month long rehab clinic for other ‘bulimic’ adolescents where they’re given communal meals and daily therapy. I declined this offer, but it is still on the table if I decide I need the extra help. Judging by my food diary for this past week, it is still a viable option.

Nov 29, 2009
Today I was in math class when something happened. The back of my head began to swelter and pulsate, my vision blurred, and I lost feeling in my hands. I felt my brain liquify and begin to drip, drip, slowly down the inner lining of my skull. I became both unaware and hyper aware. Time stood still. I watched myself from a place within my own head, but also from a place thousands of miles away. For those few moments I was certain I was going to die. Once my legs were able to bear my weight, I stood up and walked out of the classroom. I paid no mind to the rest of my peers or the teacher. I had no mind to pay. I sat in the school bathroom until I was physically able to conjure thoughts and words, and to call my mother. Even though the hysteria was descending, she offered to pick me up if I didn’t feel comfortable staying at school. They say the crazy don’t know they’re crazy, but anyone who’s experienced this delusional reality can say that for those brief minutes, which feel like days, they are crazy. I left early with my mother that day. And for the first time in a long time, I was scared.

Dec 4, 2009
Dr. E isn’t surprised about the panic attacks. She says they’re probably a consequence to letting a lot of demons surface by talking about my struggles for the first time. Her words don’t help me because it doesn’t make them go away. She says only I can make them go away, but it’s difficult to believe her.
They have been coming out of nowhere, an abrupt assault of my most guarded possession: my mind. It is such a dreadful realization that I am no longer in full conscious control of my mind. At any moment, something beyond my scope of awareness can prompt its kidnap, and I am left to deal with the consequences. I don’t know where I’ll be when they come, and I am still not convinced that they’re harmless or temporary, so getting out of bed has become a real drag.

Dec 24, 2009
It’s been awhile since my last entry, and things are actually a bit better. The Prozac has finally come into full effect and has helped me more or less regain control of my psyche. I can now feel when the panic attacks are coming on and sometimes I can even make them go away before they fully surface. With the panic becoming my main priority, the binging and purging have taken a backseat in my mind.

Dec 27, 2009
Today I met with a nutritionist. Dr. E suggested it be the next step, since the frequency of purging has gone down, along with the urge. My older sister Maya asked to accompany me. My parents have always viewed her as the fragile, over-emotional daughter, while I was thought to be more stable and calloused. Maya, too, had problems with throwing up at my age, but never sought help. I admire her for being able to get through it on her own, something I could not do. Despite the dichotomous character roles assigned by our parents, I believe she is much stronger than I am, although she says she wishes she would have spoken up and gotten help like me.
The nutritionist gave me a couple of tips on how to eat healthy and to avoid food deficits because they trigger binges, which are followed by purges. She had a bunch of plastic food to help visually represent meal portion sizes. I’m pretty sure they were from those kid kitchen sets, so I couldn’t really take her seriously.

Jan 2, 2010
Since the cycle was broken, it really hasn’t been as hard to keep it that way. I’ve heard the first three days of being cut off from an addiction are the hardest, and then it slowly gets easier. As horrible as panic attacks are, they may have been just enough of a distraction to get over that initial three day roadblock, a blessing in disguise. I haven’t thrown up once since my last two entries, which may be the longest I’ve gone since the cycle began in seventh grade.

Jan 6, 2010
I have just finished my final scheduled therapy session. Dr. E agrees that I’m strong enough to no longer need sessions on a regular basis. Now that I’m not throwing up anymore or frightened with panic, we’ve honestly ran out of things to talk about. I never thought there would be such an abrupt end to such a perpetuated problem. The Prozac has helped with more than just controlling the cycle and panic attacks; I also feel less like a robot and more like a human being. I feel it has almost been too easy.
So, I guess this means bye bye journal. You’ll be going into the box in the garage along with the rest of them. You may have served your purpose these past couple of months, but now that my journey is ending I prefer to keep you with the rest, where I don’t have to see or think about these things anymore.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

TODAY:

Flipping through that journal so many years later fills me with mixed emotions. It brings me back to a time I hate to remember, but a time that is still relevant to me today. I wish I could say that hiding the journal meant closing the door to these problems, but over the years I’ve learned that it doesn’t. All my former struggles with the cycle creep up from off those pages, slither under doorways and around corners, then silently make their way up my unsuspecting body and into my head. I can go weeks, or even months feeling carefree, and then an urge will hit me, the same urge that has always hit me.
I would be lying if I said I could always suppress the urge to throw up again. I have had occasional relapses within the past years, though never as serious or prolonged as the original problem. I do still feel like an addict. As the years progress, I become more confident in my belief that bulimia is a real addiction.
When the urge surfaces, just as in the past, a switch is flipped in my mind that is much more difficult to turn off than to leave on. If left on, I stop thinking clearly. I get anxious and aggravated with the people around me. All I want to do is follow the same cycle I’ve grown accustomed to, and then the urge, with all the negative passion it brings, will go away. First, I eat. A lot. Then, with two fingers, I unearth the lowermost point of my emotions, as I reach the pit of my stomach. There, I find shame wearing relief’s disguise.
Thankfully, I usually do manage to switch off the urge when it first surfaces. Although, this isn’t quite as satisfying as it may sound. It leaves me with somewhat of an empty feeling that must slowly be forgotten throughout the course of the day. This feeling, however, pales in comparison to the awful feeling that overcomes me after a purge.
For every urge I’m not able to overcome, I tell myself that it will be the last time. I come to this false conclusion where I am certain I’ll remember how horrible that awful post-purge feeling is, and that I’ll never want to endure the same guilt again. The guilt of being too weak and hurting my body. The guilt of making a mess and wasting food. There is enough uncontrollable guilt in the world, and by relieving my urge, I add to the pool.
I used to not understand what perpetuated the cycle. The yearning to be thin would never be satisfied by this habit, which was something I learned soon after it began. There was instead something else, a different driving force only wearing the mask of addiction, which strongly persisted to be met. Addiction starts as a means to catch a high, but over time becomes the only feasible method of coping with life. The neurosis that built around the habit acted as a distraction from dealing with thoughts and emotions I felt powerless to. Addiction stands in for control, but it is nothing more than an illusion.
Throughout the years, the panic attacks have mostly retreated, along with my dependence on the little white serotonin boosting capsules of Prozac. It’s been a slow process, but I’ve been able to better accept emotions of all kinds as they initially arise. With a passion for love comes the pain of disappointment, and the thrill of risks brings the anxiety of failure, but in the end, living life makes much more sense to me in the context of emotion rather than the indifference I had once chosen.
Even with all the positive changes, I know I still have a lot of growing to do. I’m confident that, while I don’t think the urges will ever fully dissipate, they will continue to fade away and become easier to recognize and deal with as I become older and wiser. I am confident that one day I will be able to embrace my emotions fully instead of feeling the need to control them, or hide them behind a mask of binging and purging. I am confident that one day, opening the old journals won’t be such a dreaded experience. But, until that day, they will remain in that box.

 

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Estrella C.- How animals helped me heal

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Don’t let people shun you if you ever been sexually assaulted, raped, etc. and if they do, they don’t know your story. They are not in your shoes and know what you been through.
It was a nice summer evening, the sun was still out but on its way down. I just moved into the Continuum of Care elp 1 facility. Continuum of care is a Supportive living program. Anyways. about exactly one week later I was sexually assaulted by a man who does not live there. I was sitting on my back steps just admiring everything when this man walk up, acted friendly. At first I didn’t think much of it because I thought he was a resident wanting to welcome me into the program, as many of the residents there did. Not long after, I began to feel uncomfortable when he pulled out a big bottle of booze and started touching me. People I told were like why didn’t you get up and leave, why did continue to let him hurt you? I kept trying to explain that I had froze. I couldn’t get up, I was too afraid. Maybe about a half hour later, he led me to the basement, holding my arm. I tried to pull away but he gripped harder. In the basement was the wort part of the assault. he stripped me and began to do things to me. I was so afraid, but I still couldn’t move, and I couldn’t scream. That was almost four years ago. he never was arrested. The cops made it seem like I was wanting it because I let him. and his girlfriend would taunt me and have him on the phone on speaker phone saying things because he did get banned from coming to the program. After, my experience, I went through so many different emotions. The one emotion that was concerning to myself and to the staff there was anger. Over the years previous to the assault I was also angry. But this time was different. I would throw glass, plates, you name it. I threw a chair once across the room and even flipped a heavy table. I was so angry because I was building up so much emotions from the assault. Eventually that anger led me to the observation unit at Yale New Haven Hospital many times.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

Over the course of the year after the assault, I went to IOP at Yale. I went to DBT to learn how to cope with my anger. I dropped both as I felt they weren’t helping. I just can’t sit for four hours at a time learning how to cope. There has to be another way. Ding Ding Ding. I began Volunteering at the local animal shelter. I was so surprised they accepted me because they said it could take months for a volunteer to get a call after the orientation. I got a call within a week. working with the dogs was making me feel better. I was still receiving treatment at the young adult program. But in addition, I was helping myself and these dogs. There was one day when I broke down crying while walking one of the dogs, a pit bull to be exact. Pit bulls have a very bad rap. Anyways, while I sat down and cried while holding the dog leash, the beautiful dog came up to me and kissed me. It wasn’t until then that maybe animals were the true therapy that I may have needed. Unfortunately I couldn’t have pets at the place I lived at so I continued to volunteer.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

After thanksgiving, two years ago, I moved into a different apartment complex, still part of continuum but a this time ELP2. I broke the no pets rule shortly after my best friend died, which was several months after I had moved into that place. I adopted two female guinea pigs. I was able to keep them due to my high anxiety, my ptsd that I developed after I was assaulted and the depression. I eventually got a doctors note from my psychiatrist stating that they were my emotional support animals. That was the best thing. I feel these girls saved my life as I was ready to give up on everything.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Now I have my very own apartment, not part of continuum. I still have my girls whom I spoil every day. I’m like, they help me in so many different ways, why not spoil them? I have a job and My anxiety level isn’t as high as it was before I got them. I am able to manage my anger a lot better. I still deal with anxiety, I’m not sure If I will have it the rest of my life. But I learned better, healthier coping skills.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

If you are struggling, it’s OK to fall down, everyone does. Just pick yourself back up and keep trying. Teach yourself new ways to cope, don’t give up because eventually you will find the right one. I wish that someone would tell me that everything will be OK. I wish I had more support in my life. But having these animals are the real support that I needed.

 

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Admitting the Truth; Cheniece’s Story

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. I have also struggled while dealing with being sexually abused. I have also struggled with depression and self-sabotaging myself and also putting myself into isolation lastly I had a big problem with denial. It became too much for me when I was a mother of two children I found it was hard for me to even take care of my children at times because all I wanted to do was lay in bed. It became too much for me when I couldn’t allow my children to be around anyone, family included because I was sure that everyone was going to hurt them in the way that I had been hurt. I had not accepted my experience so in my mind I was just reliving it day to day. It was hard for me to even leave them alone with their father because I could not trust.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I had plenty of supports such as my aunt who was taking care of me, I had a therapist, I was involved in sexual abuse group with peers, I also had friends. I had social workers from the department of children’s and families from Casey family services.
Although I had great support systems I did not realize that everyone around was actually trying to help me so the supports did not work for me at first. I lied to them, I missed treated them, I isolated myself from them even when they reached out to me. In my head I was telling myself that I was alone, I did not work with them or accept any of their help. I had convinced myself that I was alone and I could do it on my own.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

There was a turning point for me after about seven years of doing badly in every way possible. One person that I trusted very much reached out to me and I told her that I just wasn’t doing well and I was lost, I remember telling her how much I love my daughters and even though I knew how hard it was for me to lose my mother at the tender age of 7 and I would never want to have my girls experience that but I had just had enough and I didn’t know if I could go on anymore, the desire for me to live was gone. Then she told me to do a meditation course. At first, I thought what would meditation do for my life, how in the world could this help me, and then I thought well nothing is going well in my life right now anyway and if she believes that this can help me maybe it’s time to try it. I went to this meditation course given by the Art Of Living and I realized that I could be happy again. All the knowledge that they had given to me in that course on how to be happy was knowledge I had already known it was just buried deep under my trauma from the past. I went to another course shortly after called the Art of Silence and for the first time I was able to reflect on my past the trauma, the pain, all the while being in a safe space. Now for me, a safe space is a space where I don’t have to explain why am crying, I don’t have to hold in my tears so that my children don’t see them or anyone else, I can just be without having to talk, I can be within myself, that is a safe space. I was away on a college campus at Northeastern in Boston there were plenty of other people but we were all in silence and we were all healing. This was the first time that I had actually confronted and accepted my past. After that silence course, I decided to move on. When I came home I ceased all contact with people that were not helping me but further hurting me even though a lot of them were my family members, I knew that this was the right decision. I surrounded myself with those people that were helping me, that loved me, that were supporting me and I finally got back in therapy. Instead of denying my problem and denying my post-Traumatic stress disorder I was honest with my therapist and told him everything that I wanted to work on. I started admitting the truth and I continued healing.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is the best it has ever been since I was born I believe. I have two beautiful children that I’m able to love and take care of. I have a wonderful job working at Join Rise Be through Advocacy Unlimited. I am helping young adults to overcome their experiences, which is where my passion is. Since I started in recovery I was able to get my license and to buy my first car. I still have struggles but the difference now is that I know how to work through my struggles. Instead of hiding from them and being in denial acting as if the troubles don’t exist I am able to work through them. I often work with the people who support me the team at my job, my therapist, and my peers to get through it. I am working towards helping all the young adults that I can come encounter with to achieve recovery.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I would tell them to trust the process of recovery, it is for everyone. I would tell them that they are not alone and to realize that there are people that want to help them. If I had paid attention to the people that offered their help and support I would not have made as many mistakes or learned so many of my lessons the hard way. In life, you will realize there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But the most important are the ones who bring out the best in you, respect you and accept you for who you are. Those are the ones worth keeping around and listening to. Lastly to everyone reading this I leave you with this quote “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome. You Can Do It”!!! Also if you would like to get involved in Join Rise Be, go to website joinrisebe.org, follow us on twitter, facebook and tumblr.

Teen Pregnancy; Sierra’s Story

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Teen Pregnancy. It got hard when i gave birth.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I had support from my family and the father until he left me and my baby. It did work but only when i needed it.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

When my little girl turned 1 in October. We were able to find my own place and a job so i could take care of my child.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My little girl is now 13 months and she is the eye of my world. Me and my girlfriend are glad to have a daughter like her.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

If you get pregnant at a young age like i did, be sure to have a plan for when you tell your parents; like have a place you can stay, a job, and medical insurance.

My Struggles and Acomplishments

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggled with my life. It actually became too much at the age of 16. I have family members to talk to, it didn’t help at all.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

No, not even a little bit. My life is at ease a little bit. I accomplished at school. At my studies

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

These people should not give up. Life is full of beautiful things. They should dream. And let their dreams come true

Realizing There’s a Problem; David’s Story

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

My father and sister are both diagnosed with Bi-polar and on a daily basis of my childhood they would have outbursts at unreasonable times. This would cause my family to argue or turn against each other on the flip of a dime, it became a very tense situation. There wasn’t a way in which we could all live in harmony without someone getting upset over a past event.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

My father would take his medications on some days and ignore it on others, when he did take them he would be very approachable, but also lazy. It kind of subdued most of his highs so hes not as loud or aggressive and he seemed to enjoy simpler things. As for my sister she had some counseling on how to manage her mood swings. From what I can tell, both methods helped for some things and not for others. In both cases though, their aggressive ticks were severely decreased and would much rather talk about how or what caused them to become angry and how we could resolve the issue.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

This is kind of answered a bit above, also my dad actually started to take his medication on a consistent basis.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My parents are divorced currently because of the negative side effects of PTSD, Bi-polar, depression and other illnesses and as time goes on and wounds are healed, they are considering getting back together and we think this time its for better and not for worse.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I think the first thing that should be done is talking about the situation and to make sure not to escalate it. Make sure to seek out medical attentions for anyone with anger management issues, whether it is related to bi-polar disease or not. If someone is expecting huge uncontrollable mood swings and cant explain why they acted the way they did, also try to get medical attention. The first ways to mend things are to realize there is a problem and then find a way to solve the problem so that everyone can live in harmony. Your family cares about you, your friends care about you, make sure you care enough about them to realize when you have a problem. You’ll help yourself and everyone around you. No one loses.

Carl’s Story of Asking for Help

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Ever since I was a five years old I always struggled with communicating with people and performing basic tasks. whether it was in school or out in the community I always had trouble fitting in. My peers did not want to be around me and a majority of them bullied me to the point where I would not want to go to school or even leave the house.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I never had any support growing up. I struggled for years without asking for any help. I was convinced to believe that everything happening to me was my fault. When I was thirteen I was always thinking about harming myself and could never sleep at night. I was always feeling sick to my stomach which I believe had to do with how I was feeling emotionally. Eventually when I turned nineteen I was able to find support in my area. The place was called BHcare. They had therapists and case managers who assist people struggling with mental illness. I never opened up to anyone throughout my childhood and teen hood. because I never trusted anybody. But as I started opening up to my therapist I started feeling better I felt like I found someone who won’t judge me or bully me.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

After about a year I found a job that I loved, I built good healthy relationships and started going to college. I felt as though I can be myself and not worry about what everyone else thinks of me.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Now four years later I graduated Recovery University and have a job at Advocacy Unlimited Inc and live on my own.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

My message to everyone is don’t be afraid to ask for help when you are struggling. There is help everywhere you just need to look for it.

Eliza – Finding Wellness as a Young Mom

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have struggled with mental illness since I was a child. When I was around six years old, I began to experience anxiety and school avoidance. As I got older, I began to have overwhelmingly strong emotions that I struggled to cope with. Later, when I was 8 I began struggling with my body image and started going on small diets. When I was 10, it became apparent that I was beginning to struggle from an eating disorder. Throughout my adolescence I continued to struggle with eating disorders by restricting and binge-eating and purging. When I was 12, I was hospitalized for the first time after going to a boarding school. Overwhelmed by anxiety and depression, I began to self harm and think of suicide. This began a journey through mental illness that has followed me since. I struggled with self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, BPD, and PTSD throughout my entire adolescence and have survived multiple suicide attempts.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

When I was 8 years old, I began to see a therapist. Before then, my family and I went to family therapy because of an abusive relationship my mom was in. At this point, neither things seemed to give me any relief from my anxiety or overwhelming emotions. I was in psychiatric hospitals multiple times over a span of 8 years. Some of these hospitalizations helped to stabilize me, particularly after suicide attempts or long spans of self-harm. However, I still was not able to make enough progress to begin feeling ‘better’ during any of these periods.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

With drinking and drug use, I had a big turning point after voluntarily going to an inpatient rehab. Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder at 18, beginning DBT, and learning about my diagnoses was a big help as well. However, this was only the beginning of a long, ongoing journey. I think the biggest turning point in my life was becoming pregnant. When I realized I would soon be a mom, I was forced to look at the way I was raised; thinking of how it felt growing up with an unstable and mentally ill mom, and how my mental illness had affected those I loved. This was the point in my life when I was forced to take my mental wellness and safety more seriously than ever. I was able to stop cutting and begin the work that was necessary to get a stronger handle over my BPD and anxiety particularly.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Being a single mom is hard, and my anxiety is constant. However, I mostly worry about things I can control; being the kind of mom my daughter needs, and taking care of her. I try to use this anxiety to help motivate me to move forward, rather than getting stuck in the worry. Of course, at times, I worry over many things I have little control over. However, I find my mind is so busy taking care of an infant that I have little time to ruminate. Willow helps me to move forward and work towards mental wellness and stability. Although I still struggle with symptoms, I am constantly evaluating myself and trying to work towards my goals in therapy and my personal life. I know who I want to be, and I’m learning how to get there more and more every day.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

My favorite quote is:
“I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” (Joyce Meyer)
This is something I remember throughout the day. We forget our strength and resilience while we are struggling. But, there is never a time in our lives when things are beyond repair- no matter how strongly we may believe so. I remember the darkness I have come from and know that although I received help, I am the one who pulled myself out of it. For that I am unbelievably strong and brave. Hearing that ‘things get better’ can feel uncertain and vague (although its true). Instead, know that it is impossible for things to stay the same. What goes up must come down, and that is a constant flow we live with. As hopeless as things may seem in a moment, they can not possibly stay that way forever. Give yourself credit for the strength and resilience you posses. You have made it this far; you are a survivor and you have amazing strength.

 

If you would like to follow my journey of mental illness recovery, motherhood, and life click the link and read my blog, Well For Willow.

Blog: Well for Willow

 

Olivia’s Journey and Truth

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

My mental health has been an issue I have struggled with for 18+ years. I was very young when my parents realized I had so many irrational fears. I commend them now for getting me the help that I needed even as a young girl. At five years old, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Depression.

I have struggled on many occasions to go about my daily activities while simultaneously suffering from my mental illness. It took many years for me to make progress in my steps toward my mental health.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

The first time I realized I was not alone, I was a freshman in college. I was 18. It was the first time I had been away from home. My best friend had just left for the military. I was going through a horrible and traumatic roommate experience, and I was at the lowest of my lows. Something had to change for me. I went on a trip to the local mall with a few of the people who lived on my floor. One of them being the person I would eventually continue to live with for my remaining college years. She made a comment about something that made her nervous and she so bluntly said, “But I’m this way because I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.”

Before that, I had never shared my experiences or my struggles with anyone. We discussed some of her struggles and I was in complete disbelief that someone shared her struggle so effortlessly and without being scared of judgement.

She inspired me. I became much more vocal about my struggles. I asked for help when I needed it. I demanded to be taken seriously regardless of my mental illness. I continue to speak with my friends and family members daily about the struggles I have, and the struggles that they have. My day goes on as I continue to make progress in my mental health and wellness.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

For the last 20 years of my life, I have been a proud member of Renee’s School of Dance. As I went through high school, college, and now grad school- the members of my dance class have been nothing but supportive, loving, and uplifting. They have been a part of my life for almost my whole life, and they are among the best support system I could have ever asked for.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

As a 23-year-old-grad-student-Harry-Potter-Loving-Cat-Mom, I am in a place in my life where I am comfortable being who I am. It has taken so long to get here and I am finally proud of who I have become.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

As human beings, we are constantly a work in progress. We have bad days, and good days, and then a lot more bad days. Take it one day at a time. Find something that makes you happy. Buy 20 of it. Use the bricks that people throw at you to build a castle.
And once you’ve built that castle, use your strength to help other people build their own.

Takyia’s Story of Surviving Childhood Abuse

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Depression, self esteem, abuse and bullying. Being in 6th grade was the first time that I thought about hurting myself. When I was in the 6th grade I was bullied on my clothes, how tall I was, how I dressed and anything else u could think about. Although I was getting bullied in the 6th grade I was also getting bullied in the 5,6, and 7th grade, but in the 5th grade I got hit by this one girl because she didn’t like me.

When I was thinking about committing suicide it was not only because I was getting bullied, but I was also being abused by my father. He would give my sister a black eye, slap me into the wall and beat us until we had marks on our skin. When I had the thought of attempting suicide I didn’t act on my thoughts.

Here comes 7th grade, still getting bullied, I got tired of it and tried to fit in with people. I tried to fit in with them and what they were doing by stealing from my family. When I was in the 7th grade I had very low self-esteem and one day somebody was making me feel so good and made it seem like he wanted me. I did everything he asked me to do so that I could please him so that he could continue to make me feel good. However, he only wanted one thing and he took that thing away from me, then left me. I was 13 and he was 18. He took my innocence away from me which led me into a depression. I started to act different. I started to come in the house late, lie and tell them I’m going somewhere else. One day when I came in late, my mom was so upset that she had beat on me and made me try to attempt suicide again and that time I acted on it by cutting my arm. Had to go to the hospital and have them keep an eye on me to see if I was danger to myself or anyone else until they let me go home. At that time I was living with one of my aunts that was also abusing me, but she did not physically abuse me. The things she said to us, the way she treated us, acting like we were her slaves because we were homeless.  After that experience happened I had moved with my other aunt and I had done things that made her not want to raise kids anymore because all of hers were grown, so I went to live back with my dad. When I was with my dad I started to have flashbacks of how he treated me and one day I tried again to attempt suicide.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

When I was in 6th grade I was said enough is enough. I finally came out to my school counselor that I wanted to kill myself and it was then that I received help. I received treatment at Kempsville Center for Behavioral Health and yes, it worked.  I took some pills that were for depression and same thing happened again so after that they sent me to Kempsville for behavior health and I had to stay at Kemsville. The first 2 stays were only a week which didn’t help, but the last time I attempted suicide on December 12, I had overdosed to the point where I passed out. I was going in and out of consciousness, then rushed to the emergency room where had to get my stomach pumped because I took so many pills. My plan was to die, so why didn’t I? I didn’t die because I had one chance to give it to the Lord and I got one more chance to get the help that I needed. So I went back to Kempsville and stayed 10 months. That was the optimal 10 months of my life because I stared to know that my life mattered. If I would have died, I would left behind loved ones, friends, and also I wouldn’t be able to tell my story.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time?

My vision was to overcome depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts.  Yes, there are going to be days that are harder than the other. You are going to feel like giving up, but I’m writing this to tell you that I didn’t give up. I’m still fighting depression and low self-esteem, but I know that I am going to be someone in life that people look up to and say, “I want to be like her.” That’s why I didn’t give up. I had so much ahead of me and when I get there I’m going to look back and say I made it and I overcame a lot in my young life. I just had to tell you guys my vision because my vision came true and yours can too, just believe in it and never give up…….

Warm regards,
TAKYIA

Kelsie’s Journey to Truly Accepting Herself and Fighting Anxiety

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I struggled with my weight when I was 15 years old. I was diagnosed with anorexia. I still battle with anxiety. And weight will always be an issue for me. But I went through something that helped me overcome it.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I was sent to Egleston Hospital in Atlanta. The nutritionist tried to help me get over my calorie intake. I wasn’t consuming the right amount of nutrients that my body needed. It did not help until I was sent off somewhere that scared the life out of me. It is a long story.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

The turning point for me was when I was laying in the hosptial bed, and seeing everyone from my school post stuff on my facebook page. My family crying over me and praying over me. God really spoke to me. He has a purpose for my life, and I was killing myself.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life right now seems a little messy. I have so many gifts and talents, and a story that I’ve wanted to share for a while. But I let fear control my life. I struggle with anxiety. I have attacks sometimes. I am trying to overcome my anxiety, but sometimes it gets overwhelming. I am working toward helping girls. Or people in general, who struggle with the same thing as I do. God allowed me to go through what I went through at the age 15 for a reason.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I would say, no one’s opinion of you should matter. I know people can be mean, and I know that words can hurt. I know things seem hard, I know sometimes you may want to hide and run away. I know there are so many things to stress about. God created everyone, differently. Do not compare yourself to ANYONE. Everyone’s body types were made differently. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their OWN way. Know that you are SO loved. God loves you so much and has a purpose for your life. TRUST in Him, ALWAYS.

Rachel

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I have struggled with depression and anxiety and self harm. I have had to deal with multiple residential treatment facilities due to these ailments and family relational problems

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I went to the psych ward and was forced to go to an IOP that contributed no help to me

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

the last treatment facility really turned my though process around for the better

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

my life keeps getting better day by day. i am trying to focus on my photography and begin to find the beauty in everything that i couldn’t see before

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

stay positive and remember to smile even if you feel like there is no reason to it will make you feel better

Kailey

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Depression, anxiety. When I was 16. When I was 20. And when I was 25. It’s been an on-going battle. My later 20s were hard too and 28 kicked off a big bout of severe anxiety and depression again. It’s lingered around to be honest.

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

No. It was counselling and he said I hope things get better for you. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I received psychotherapy. Before that I was going to counselling places that were short term and helped me short term. So I would get ahead then take two steps back most of the time.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

My grandpa dying actually helped me come to terms with a lot of things and cleaned up my drinking problem.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life is ups and downs. There’s lots of goals I have like going back to school and working with animals. I have a rescued dog. I want to change the world.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

It’s going to be a tough road. There will be ups and downs, if you’re fortunate enough to get a psychotherapist work hard on your goals! Don’t give up! That’s the only advice I can give.

Liv: The Stress of Junior Year, Age: 17

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I am a junior in high school.

From the day I stepped into high school, I was told of the horrors that is junior year: AP classes, standardized testing, and college pressure. However, in freshman and sophomore year I vowed to myself that I would try to ignore all the crazy expectations of high school like getting straight A’s, taking hard classes, and trying to do every sport and club I could handle. It was unrealistic!

I put my my mental state first so that I was happy. My philosophy was that I would try any class that I was interested in, even if it was hard or obscure. I probably wouldn’t get a perfect grade in it, but at least I was interested in the topic! This idea made for wonderful two years of stress-free learning and having fun with friends.
Things changed once I entered junior year.

Everything seemed to come crashing down. It felt like college was right around the corner and all of a sudden grades really did matter. Not only that, but every college seemed to expect only the highest standardized test scores along with it. I felt like I had failed myself the past few years. I was more stressed than ever because my grades and extracurricular weren’t enough to get into a good college. My anxiety increased and I felt as if I only had this last year to bring my grades. I was freaking out!

 

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I think once I settled down and got a college counselor, who could guide me through the college process, everything came in to focus again. My college counselor helped me put everything that I had to do down on paper. We formulated a guide to juggling school, weekly ACT tests, and sports.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

My turning point these last anxious 6 months was when I finally came to terms with the fact that whatever school I get into will be right for me. There is no point worrying about getting into a school that has a workload I can’t handle. It would just cause four more years of stress and anxiety! A perfect college for me is one where I can study my interests, see myself fitting in, and, most importantly, a place where I can be happy.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life now is not exactly stress-free, but definitely getting better! Seeing the seniors the year above me getting into the schools of their dreams has given me me hope for myself! Instead of fearing the process, I have began to feel excited for the process. The idea of figuring out which college will be the right match for me seems intriguing now.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I think any student entering their junior year in high school should keep their mental state in mind. It is important to make sure you aren’t too stressed. Always remember that whatever happens, it is for the best (and even if you don’t like the college you initially get into, there is always the option to transfer!).

There are sooo many colleges available that are right for each person. No college is perfect. As long as you do your best, try to learn as much as you can, and maintain a healthy mental state, you will succeed. High school isn’t just a place to learn and compete for A’s every year- it is a place to find yourself and grow as a person. Even if you don’t figure out exactly “who” you are or who you want to be when you are older, it is a place to find what is important in life: happiness, peace, and confidence in yourself.