“From award-winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Cauty, comes Faces of Mental Health, a short film which challenges stigma and encourages open conversation around mental illness and suicide in young people.
Students in Bristol were offered a space to open up and share their thoughts and personal experiences of mental illness and suicide, with a view to encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds across the country and around the World to step forward and speak out.”
It’s on vimeo, and definitely worth a watch and a share!!
Hi everyone! It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote in this blog.
What’s kept me away? • I started school and became a full-time student (I made honors last semester!) • Willow and I left the shelter and moved into our own apartment. • Willow turned TWO. • I’ve been taking on more responsibilities at work and I’ve been working hard in school.
There are a lot of days that I’ve been happy and hopeful and staying afloat with a lot going on.
There have also been a lot of days that I’m busy all day. When I wake up early and stay up late and I’m exhausted and stressed. And that has been hard.
But I’m also staying afloat, in fact I’m doing well, too. Not all the time, of course, but still, I’m not giving up. If this were a few years ago, normally in a time like this, I wouldn’t be ok. I’d run at the slightest feeling of defeat, self-destruct then hide away. At a time like this, I would be doing the worst I’d ever done, again.
But, I’m not. I’ve been doing better than I remember being for a long time. And I’m so grateful for that. I feel like I have found who I always was underneath the things that glued me to the floor.
Every so often though, I feel scared. Scared because I know I have so much at stake, and because I know I have come so far. I wonder, sometimes, why am I ok? I wonder not if but when I will fail? Then I remember the same things that scare me also help me be ok. They motivate me, support me and remind me to keep working. I think about the things that make me want to be ok.
I think about Willow, about being able to do more than just function, about being hopeful for our future, about school and my job, and I think about peer support. I think about the things I went through, the journey of shifting between the fine lines of patient and peer. About getting to speak with people who I understand, people who are struggling through high school with depression or anxiety or while fighting with their family every night. I think about how much peer support and the opportunity to use my story to better empathize with others, which have helped me be ok in times like this.
And I even though sometimes I feel scared, anxious, or doubtful – I feel good about continuing to move forward. I don’t feel tempted to stop, or give up, I feel excited to see what comes next; that fills me and keeps me going forward through fear and doubt.
Blood drips from the cysts of blistered slits
On a wrist that pissed fits and missed bliss quit
When reminisced, the pessimist’s remnant deficit sifts;
Though shifts amidst its wits persist
This insists to admit the relevant element
Of inconsistent assistance for evident impediments…
Sentiment and venomous resentment remiss…
With this shit’s gist, I desist.
Dealing with Emotions
I think we’ve all had those days where our emotions have totally been too much for us. The kind of days where we didn’t want to be around everyone and would much rather be under the covers all day, or the types of days where every little thing sets us off and we don’t even know way. Either way, emotions are a part of what make us humans, and although some of them can be hard to deal with, when we have good days and get to experience positive emotions, it balances out.
Stages of life
This week I have been thinking a lot about the different stages in my life.
Luz posted something on the forum about changing your expectations of yourself, and reaching goals you may have never thought yourself capable of. She talked about what her life used to look like, and how she once did not believe she was capable of achieving “normalcy”. That made me think a lot about my past; where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, where I’m at now. And most importantly, how I got there, and here. What did it take to go through each age and stage of my life? Where did I go (both good and bad) that I never imagined myself going? How did it change me?
Then today something else happened that hurled me years and years into my past.
I met someone- well didn’t meet, more met again. When I introduced myself she instantly remembered me- we were roommates and friends in the hospital together when I was 12.
That was over ten years ago, and the first time (of over 15) I was put in a psychiatric hospital. At that point in my life, it was one of the most profound experiences I’d ever had. So much happened in those 7 months (it was technically 3 separate stays, but with only a few days of being discharged in between) that shaped and transformed me.
I cannot help but find myself entombed in thoughts and memories. Reminiscing about a time in my life that was both incredibly painful, scary, and difficult; but also comfortable, safe, and sometimes even very happy. These memories are similar to falling in a rose bush. I’m surrounded by beautiful flowers, and covered in wounds. I feel a small light in my stomach, but enclosed within a deep pit full of sadness.
And then I begin to think about what happened after I left the hospital.
From there my life fell apart. From there my journey with mental illness began; and has not ended since. And from there I grew and changed in many ways- both good and bad.
From memories of my first hospitalization, come painful memories of all that ensued afterward; essentially my entire family falling apart both separately and together over a period of 5 years. What each tragedy encompassed. How it felt, and I don’t just remember the feeling, I experience it.
I am once again a 14 year old girl stuffing 200 pills down her throat.
Then, I am 16 years old, saying “no” to a 24 year old man, who was too high to listen. I am 17 years old and waking up from a coma after a suicide attempt I don’t remember making, because all the seizures that resulted from it damaged my memory. Again and again I am experiencing the traumas I left behind years ago.
And it’s like being beaten with a bat. I cannot catch my breath enough to beg for it to stop.
Where am I in time and how do I find my way back here?
How do I accept all that’s happened and the place I’m at now when all I want to do I reject it and bury my mind in a deep pit of sand?
It’s so strange how things continue to change at such a rapid pace. It’s all the time and we have no say as to whether or not it happens. Against our will we are under a constant transformation that will only cease to exist when we do.
How do I swallow the fact that I once wanted to die? That many times I tried to kill myself? That I hurt myself every day for years? How do I move forward knowing at one time in my life I would cry thinking about how much I hated myself? And that at one time I was a teenager and watching my life crumble before me; terrified and powerless.
I ask how do I do this because really, it wasn’t that long ago. And really, I’m still the same person.
Except now I have a daughter and life and set of responsibilities that I was never supposed to have. I was never supposed to be here. I don’t think I ever planned on being 22. Yet against my own will, transformations occurred. And somehow, without my knowledge or consent, I began to get better.
What about the times that that old, familiar dark place seems most comfortable?
It’s funny how small things can begin large, unmanageable spirals. Like hearing a song, or smelling something vaguely familiar. And how simple things, like writing this blog post can begin to bring me back into realignment- even if it’s without my consent or intent.
I come back to a place of normalcy where I remember that sadness is not safety. And that I’m no longer a child, and no longer without control or power.
And most importantly, I am responsible for a little girl. Who needs me and wants me. And it’s my job to be there for her, and be good to her. And I promise to her, and myself, and the entire universe that I will not fail her and I will always try as hard as I can to be what she needs.
What have you Broken free of?
Throughout our lives, many of us encounter different situations that have made us feel like we were trapped, controlled, etc. Some of us my have been able to get out of those situations, some of us may still be going through them. What situations have you guys experienced within your lives that have made you feel like you were in chains and couldn’t get out? What helped you through it? I’ll go first.
I think the thing that had me feeling like I was trapped the most within my life was an abusive relationship I was in. My partner had me controlled to the point in which I felt obligated to send him pictures of where I was at all times, because he threatened to leave me, would either yell or give me the silent treatment, or would accuse me of being with other men if I didn’t. He tracked my phone and where I was at all times, he stole money from me for drugs and cigarettes, he wouldn’t work more than a couple of weeks a specific job before he would quit or get fired and then I would have to become financially responsible for everything while he sat at home getting high all day. For a certain amount of time, he turned me against my own parents, the only people that have been there for me since day one and have never left my side. The amount of control he had over me was scary, and I was really scared to leave him because I didn’t think I could do any better, I didn’t think I would ever be able to be okay without him. With the help of my parents, I was able to kick him out of my place, and start moving forward. The beginning of this journey was definitely tough, because I didn’t feel complete. I felt like the person that had been a part of me for so long had just been ripped away from me and I didn’t know how to survive. But then, through baby steps and the support of my family and friends I was able to move forward, understanding that I was good enough, better than what he had put me through and capable of meeting someone new in due time. I had broken free.
What in your life have you broken free from? What in your life do you still need to break free from?
To the Moon and back
My name is Eliza, I am 22 years old and have a 7-month-old daughter, named Willow. My life is certainly different in almost every way than I had once imagined it might be. Struggling with mental illness throughout high school, my focus was blurred and my vision of myself and the world seemed an abysmal tomb of hopeless sorrow and pain. After a very proud graduation, 6 years in the making, I thought I had begun to creep from the shadows and began to feel ‘normal’. This feeling of normalcy was a great relief, although it was short lived. I soon found myself overwhelmed with a full-time schedule at college and work, coupled with a life that continued to rush past me at speeds I could not keep up with, despite my efforts. I turned inward, and reached for drugs, alcohol, and self harm to give me relief from life, which seemed to berate and beat me until I was left laying in the dirt, begging for mercy. A deep sadness and resentment towards the world and everyone in it filled my being. Finally, I could no longer stand it and sought help. After 45 days of detox and rehab, I emerged, beaten and wary- but grateful for both my life and sobriety. Soon after coming home, I met someone, and quickly rushed into a relationship. We officially started dating in April of 2016. By July 6th, 2016 I was 7 weeks pregnant. Feeling I could not face the thought of abortion, I decided I would have my baby. Looking back, its a decision I made quickly, and without brutal honesty with either myself or my boyfriend. Nonetheless, I committed, and though many urged me to terminate my pregnancy, I continued to move forward- sure I was making the right decision. Nine months later, on February 26th, I gave birth to a beautiful, 8 pound 6 oz, girl, Willow Moon. After less than five minutes of crying, she laid silently on my chest and took in the world for hours. Five months later, my relationship with her dad had been crumbling for what felt like years. How long it actually took, I don’t remember, all I remember are the feelings. Sadness and anger. Suddenly, I was forced to decide to leave or stay in a situation were I feared for our safety at times, and our happiness constantly. Willow Moon and I took what we could, and left quickly. We now live together in less than 100 square feet at a shelter for pregnant women and mothers. And battling life together, we try to be brave and learn what we can from each other. This is our journey to the Moon and back.
Some of the smartest or most gifted people are the ones who go the soonest.
Why is the world losing such greatness?
…Like that Russian bro of mine
…Like that guy I dated for a hot minute
…Like that parent I love to hate calling my dad
Who knows when my time will come
…Maybe even like me
Novels that help
Does anyone else have a book or books that have significantly helped them at some point in their lives? I know mine is (surprise, surprise) The Catcher in the Rye. Aside from studying it twice in high school, I remember reading this book several times from the ages of 13 (right about the time when I started in therapy) until now. It became almost like a checkpoint in my recovery, each time I read the book it was a reminder of how far I’d come since the last time I’d read it, and there was something about the way I will always be changing and growing as a person, yet Holden and the rest of the characters would always remain the same that was very comforting and reassuring to me.
I’d love to hear other peoples’ favorite books!
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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