Our 200th Post and an Invitation From Me

daisiesandbruisespinWelcome to post 200!

Yay! If I could do cartwheels I’d totally do one right now. This blog means the world to me and it’s so exciting to reach our 200th post! This post is a celebration and a request, because this blog helps both you and me simultaneously.

As with any blogging milestone we reach, I have a million ideas and plans to share with you. I just renewed our domain name for another year and paid the annual fee to remove lame ads from popping up. I wanted to introduce a new layout today but many of the layouts I’m interested in converting to cost more money than I have to spend.

But I do have one thing to offer you, and it comes with a request for your help in my mental health recovery. I’ve designed a new button that’s available in my Etsy shop, advertising this blog. When you buy this pin, your money goes towards maintaining and improving Daisies and Bruises. If you want to support Daisies and Bruises directly, you can donate directly to my PayPal:

Donate Button

Want the Daisies and Bruises button for free? Keep reading!

Since I revisited rock bottom around this time last year, ending up in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit,  I’ve been isolating a lot. The trigger during that time in crisis was the police investigation into my childhood abuse. After that fell apart I gave up on the human race. I decided it was okay if I spent every one of my remaining days simply reading and writing, never interacting with the “real world.” People in books are so much safer than people face-to-face.

Now, after almost a year of hiding, I have to make an effort to get back out there. Isolation is a terrible thing when recovering from depression. It increases anxiety, feelings of alienation, and keeps you in a prison of self-loathing. I recognize all these things in myself and I have to do something about it. Here’s my plan:

Since I started this blog roughly three years ago, about five different people have emailed me telling me that they saw me here in London, Ontario, recognizing me from my blog, but didn’t say anything.

My invitation to you now is to PLEASE SAY HELLO if you see me in public. And if you do, I’ll give you a Daisies and Bruises button for free!

If you’re anxious like I am, try saying the following:

“Hi, I recognize you from your blog and I wanted to say hello!”

Or:

“I want a free Daisies and Bruises button, please!”

Or simply:

“MACARONI.”

This will make my day, I promise! And I’m going to carry around Daisies and Bruises buttons for this very encounter, and doing so will be pointless unless you talk to me.

When I’m out I’m usually alone. It might be hard to grab my attention because I don’t make a lot of eye contact out of anxiety, but I really do want to talk to you!

There a small chance that you might see my sister and think she’s me because we’re always mistaken as twins. To help you out, look for my baby blue backpack, flowered Doc Martens, and straight across baby bangs. If you talk to my sister accidentally, that’s okay too because I’m going to give her Daisies and Bruises buttons to carry around and she’s super friendly and will pass on the message.

Does that sound feasible? I hope so! Just knowing that people out there could be reacting to me positively will help me feel safer.

So help the blog by buying a pin and help me by saying hello in public and get a pin for free. If you’ve already bought a pin and see me in public, you can get a second pin or a pin to give to a friend. Sound good?

Check out my latest post and video on HealthyPlace: Stopping Depression Stigma Starts With You

And as always, follow me all over the web:

Daisies and Bruises on Twitter
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My Google+ Page
My Instagram
My Pinterest

Please show support for Daisies and Bruises through visiting my Etsy shop and/or donating directly to my PayPal:

Donate Button

All proceeds go right back to you in blog content and features.

I love you!! Here’s to another 200 posts and more! :)

*EDIT: Also, check out this lovely review of my zine, Letter to My Younger self by my friend Dani! I feel honoured to be mentioned on her awesome blog, Transferring Energy in Cleveland.

The “Be Safe” App

The Be Safe AppThe “Be Safe” smart phone app is out! It’s the end product of a year-long process involving mindyourmind, youth volunteers (including me!), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and other members of the Systems Improvement Through Service Collaboratives across Ontario.

Be Safe is the app I helped present at the Systems Improvement Through Service Collaborative conference a few weeks ago.

I am so proud of this app! We worked so hard on it. All the youth volunteers involved in making Be Safe have experience with London’s mental health care system, mental illness, and/or supporting someone in crisis. This app is a safety plan, a decision-making tool, a phone book, and keeps all the information you might need in crisis at your fingertips. And it’s 100% free!

This version is designed for people in London, Ontario and area, so it directs you to services in London. It can be downloaded by anyone, no matter where you live, but keep in mind that some of its features (like the addresses of hospitals) will be London-based. Contact mindyourmind with questions or interest in adapting this app for your area.

This is how we help people! This is how it’s done. Download it, use it, share it, heal with it. Visit mindyourmind to download the app for iOS and android.

Be Safe! You deserve help.

April Fools’ Fun

April Fools' FunI’ve had the most ridiculous day. I was out of coffee this morning; I messed up the scheduling for two appointments; my little sister pranked me, telling me we were having a last minute extended family lunch and I totally fell for it; and then I had a giant crying spell around 4pm, for the fourth day in a row. Then I fell asleep for a good hour, waking up with a sore neck.

Now, I need to go to the grocery store to buy coffee before it closes so that I don’t screw up tomorrow from the get-go. But after my whole one hour cry plus a big nap, now I look as high as a kite because my eyes are completely bloodshot.

Remember my whole How to Cry and Cover it Up (If You Need to) post? Well, those makeup tips at the end are a little iffy – sometimes fixing your makeup after you cried it all off just makes everything look worse. It makes me look like a clown who cried and then tried to fixed her face paint.

Here’s the extra funny part: after three sets of eye drops – which are probably going to make my eyes dry up and fall out because they sure didn’t help – my eyes are still BRIGHT RED. Then what do I do? I fucking stab myself in the eye with my mascara wand. So now my left eye is even redder than before, making me look like a stoned person with pink eye.

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right? So I better laugh here because I start crying again I’m entirely fucked. Except laughing too hard might make my eyes run. DAMMIT.

Anyway, things have been pretty shitty lately and it’s kept me from posting. Sometimes when things are bad I can’t think of a positive spin to put on things, and I get really hard on myself and I can’t write a thing.

But tonight I’m cutting myself some slack. It’s April Fool’s day today and I’ve planned this part of the post for months:

Every night before bed I check on my blog stats for the day. WordPress shows me how people found my blog through search terms. Sometimes people Google the most random stuff and find Daisies and Bruises, which is so awesome and hilarious. I keep a list of the search terms that make me laugh the most. Here’s a sample of the best from the past year or so.

“Free printable narwhal christmas gift tags”

“Wearing a diaper”

“Shitty convertible”

“Poetry background with hammy”

“Squirrel pictures to print for free”

“A big picture of a big daisie”

“Horror shower curtain London Ontario”

“No one understands me but me dog bells”

“What is Lisbeth’s secret”

“Where do daisies get their energy from”

“Fight or flight pooping”

Some of those do make sense, but they still make me laugh. Remember when I explained the phenomenon of having to poop when you’re stressed out? Only on Daisies and Bruises, folks. ;)

Okay, so come back tomorrow because I’m going to write a more serious post about one amazing smart phone app that you need to download.

For now, since I can’t stop rambling about silly stuff, I’ll admit that I’m off to bed with the $4 sheep I got at the grocery store. His name is Maddy, short for Madonna, because he has a mole.

Life is too shitty sometimes to stay serious. Laughing makes life better. Comment with something to make us laugh!

Treatment Takes Time & Communication

Mental health treatment takes time and communication with therapistThree weeks ago I told my therapist that I needed to be challenged more in our sessions. I felt bored, restless, and impatient with my therapy. Wasn’t I better by now?

“Challenged?” she asked. “I think you’ve had more than a lifetime’s worth of challenges, Erin.”

She had a point; I also felt like she was missing the point. “I’m not very emotional in here lately,” I said. “I need to feel more. I feel like we’ve just been circling old ground and I’m staying in my comfort zone too much.”

Admittedly, it was nice to have a break from talking about excruciating stuff during our sessions. Talking about depression and trauma so often can get exhausting. No recent crises had stirred me up for a bit but I’d had enough of a break. I needed more.

Fast forward three weeks and I can’t wait to go back in to talk to my therapist. I’m back to feeling challenged, to say the least. I’m back to crying in each session, leaving with two fistfuls of wadded up Kleenex that I stuff into the bathroom garbage can when the session is over.

The shift in our conversation topics has been subtle; I don’t know if my therapist steered me into more “challenging” topics or my brain brought them to surface because I announced that I felt ready. But as difficult as it is to be crying about painful things again, it’s cathartic. I feel safe with my therapist and so I don’t feel alone in these tumultuous waters. I have my floating device and I know how to swim.

This isn’t the first time my therapy has taken this route. Over the years of my treatment I’ve realized that therapy intensity comes and goes in waves. I think our bodies and minds learn to navigate what we feel ready for at almost an equal pace to what our therapists know through their training and experience with us.

This is why I recommend sticking with a therapist for longer than a few months. It takes some time to build trust and get a rhythm going. Like any relationship, communication is something learned and shared easier as you spend more time with each other.

It’s also important to build enough trust for you to feel comfortable sharing with your therapist just how you feel about your treatment. Are you feeling challenged enough or are things a little too intense for your comfort level?

No therapist can read our mind – thank goodness – so it’s crucial to share our opinion of our treatment. Speaking up assertively takes practice, but I can pretty much guarantee that your therapist will be receptive to your feedback. If not, then that’s a huge red flag in seeking treatment from someone more in tune with your style.

That said, it’s also refreshing sometimes to disagree with your therapist. If they agreed with us all the time we’d never grow, change, or recover. It’s a balance, for sure.

No matter what, feedback in therapy is key. You are the expert of your experience but with patience, your therapist can become an expert on you, too.

Anemia: Part Two

Erin Schulthies, author of Daisies and Bruises Blog, talks about anemia, depression, and the Emergency DepartmentI feel like a deflated balloon on the bottom of a heap of garbage. This anemia problem is really getting old.

I felt better for a short time after taking iron supplements. After a few weeks, however, my stomach couldn’t handle so much burning each time I took an iron pill. My indigestion became so bad that I couldn’t even stomach iron-rich foods. So I went to my doctor and she suggested iron shots every other week.

“Great!!” I thought and honestly looked forward to getting a needle just below my waistline, even if I am self-conscious about my bum being half-shown to a near stranger. Needles? WHATEVER, JUST MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.

After stopping the iron supplements and switching over to injections, my energy levels went right back the beginning: nonexistence. I felt so bad that I even went to the Emergency Department and they did an electrocardiogram (ECG) to make sure my heart wasn’t in distress.

Okay, that part makes me laugh a little to say because of course my heart is in distress; I have fucking depression. So I feel in emotional distress, yes. The ECG didn’t find anything physically wrong with my heart, however, so that’s good.

Still, my iron shots are only giving me 2 ml of iron and the nurse says it’s going to take another fifteen shots before I start to feel better. Considering how much I have to do, how much I want to do, and just how little energy I have to get out of bed, I’m fucking annoyed, to say the least.

Yet this is a small issue in the grand scheme of my health. Being in the Emergency Department made me realize how health is everything we have. It is all that matters. When we’re in good health, we tend to forget this, but when our health is at risk, we realize how important it is.

I thought of Whitney Homer when I was in the hospital for my ECG. I thought about her story, her blog, her journey, and her bravery. Definitely check out Whitney’s blog to see some real courage.

Our bodies are our vessels on this planet. We must be good to them and hope that they will be good to us in return. We only get one body, so we must take care of it. Remember, every body has a mind. Our mind is part of our body! We can’t have health in one without health in the other.

In related news, I posted about My Depression Diagnosis on the Coping With Depression blog over at HealthyPlace a few days ago. Go check it out!

Also, the countdown to our 200th post is on! Only four more to go. I’m excited!

How to Stop Hurting Yourself

cutting, self harm, stop hurting yourself, self injuryMost Google searches leading to this blog involve the words, “hurt myself.” So many people are looking for help in stopping self-harm, stopping cutting, bruising or any other kind of self-hurting.

Self-harm is something I know a lot about. I could write hundreds of posts on the topic (and I probably will), but for now, I have two pieces of advice that are my secrets to stopping self-harm.

1) LET YOURSELF FEEL

No feeling is wrong. Absolutely every single emotion you have is legitimate and allowed. Read that sentence again: Absolutely every emotion you have is legitimate and allowed. Sometimes we don’t understand our feelings, where they’re coming from or why, but that shouldn’t stand in our way of permitting ourselves to feel exactly how we’re feeling. Let yourself feel and identify the feeling if you can. Say to yourself, “I feel _______.”

2) EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

You can’t skip this step. This is the answer to stopping self-harm: Allow yourself to express your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve hurting yourself.

Here are some ideas:

Talk to someone, cry, scream, whimper, holler, write, play music, run, dance, or tear up pieces of paper. Go out into a field and throw rocks at the sky. Don’t just punch your pillow, pummel it. Run faster than you’ve ever run before. Use the energy created by your feelings and do something with it.

A lot of the feelings I first expressed through cutting were related to my memories of violence. I felt hurt and damaged and I wanted to damage something to communicate my pain. So I damaged myself.

But, do you know what? You can damage things other than yourself. Never damage another living thing and try not to damage property that isn’t yours, but if you want to destroy something, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE YOU.

Emotions don’t always feel nice and pretty and socially acceptable. I used to cut because I didn’t want to be nice or pretty or socially acceptable. I wanted the whole fucking world to know just how terrible I felt.

Hurting myself didn’t help me feel better. It hurt me! And there is enough hurt without me hurting myself extra. You can’t get better if you hurt yourself.

Writing and making art works a MILLION times better for me than cutting ever did. Remember my drawing from my last hospital stay? It showed black swirls of monstrous arms attacking me. Drawing that helped me feel SO MUCH BETTER. And I showed it to people, I said, “THIS is how bad I’m feeling.” No, it’s not art for a museum. It’s art for me. And it worked.

Go ahead, be destructive if it doesn’t hurt anyone. Let yourself feel and then express those feelings in a healthy way. Never pretend to feel something that you don’t feel. Be honest about what’s in your heart and it will heal you, I promise.

Blogging for HealthyPlace.com

HealthyPlaceBioPicDaisies and Bruises will always be my home, but I have a new hangout on the Internet: HealthyPlace.com! I am their new author of the Coping With Depression Blog, alongside Liana Scott, another warrior in the battle of depression.

I am so excited to be a part of HealthyPlace, because not only do they provide information on mental illnesses, they support and promote people with mental illness who can speak from their direct experience. HealthyPlace is not owned or directed by companies that sell medications or other products. The three main people described in their About section come from backgrounds of journalism, counseling, web design, and psychiatry.

Natasha Tracy, the author behind Bipolar Burble and HealthyPlace’s Breaking Bipolar blog, recruited me for this awesome position. I had the honour of speaking with her and the president of HealthyPlace, Gary Koplin, on the phone Thursday for over an hour and a half. These people are awesome. I repeat: I AM SO EXCITED!

So just for the record, I’m not selling out but branching out, speaking out about mental illness all over the Internet. Daisies and Bruises is still going strong and I think this new addition in my writing life is going to solidify my writing routine so that I have double the number of blog post ideas and double the motivation.

Head over to HealthyPlace to read my work for the Coping With Depression Blog, and check out all the awesome resources and other blogs the site hosts as well. Follow me everywhere and I’ll follow you back!

Quick Links:

Coping With Depression blog on HealthyPlace.com (my new blog)
Daisies and Bruises on Twitter
Daisies and Bruises on Facebook
My Google+ Page
My Instagram
My Pinterest

Please show support for Daisies and Bruises through visiting my Etsy shop and/or donating directly to my PayPal:

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All proceeds go right back to you in blog content and features.

I love you guys! Keep reading here, keep reading everywhere, keep talking about mental illness. Sharing our stories keeps us on the route to recovery!

Planting Roots & Speaking Up: Your Story Matters

SISCTREECOLLAGE The first time volunteered at mindyourmind office four years ago, involved me and some other volunteers playing the Reach Out game, where mental health questions are asked in a Jeopardy-style layout. I knew the answer to every single question but only contributed my voice to the discussion a few times.

I left the mindyourmind office feeling so sad and self-loathing that day, because I felt like a truly crazy person for knowing so much about mental health. My knowledge was all from personal experience like my suicide attempts. I hated myself for having such a dark history.

Yet, four years later, I’m speaking at conferences with mindyourmind, sharing my story and helping service providers in Ontario reach youth at times of crisis, bringing them the resources they need.

It is awesome. I love it! And at such events, I’m told that my input is very appreciated and I’m applauded for sharing pieces of my story. I know the mental health system as well as the rest of the people do in that room, except I know it from a patient perspective instead of as someone who works in that field. My voice is important!

The only thing that’s changed since that first day at mindyourmind when I felt so awful about myself is my perspective. In working with mindyourmind I’ve started to see my mental health knowledge as an asset, not a defect. My nights spent alone crying, self-injuring, wanting to die; the days in the hospital, wishing I could go outside for some fresh air; the scars I wear that sometimes cause people to stare at me – I’ve turned all of these things into something good. Something that can benefit others.

At the Systems Improvement through Service Collaborative conference I recently attended, we from mindyourmind asked the audience of service providers to compare the mental health community in Ontario to a tree. We handed out a copy of a tree collage I had made, and asked everyone to mark their spot on the tree. From the soil to the roots, to the trunk and the branches, every part of the tree has a role in producing those leaves at the top. Every part of that tree is necessary for growth.

Before my involvement with mindyourmind and the service collaborative, I didn’t feel like I was a part of anything. I felt like a stone in the ground, hard and cold and isolated. But one day I decided to walk in the doors of mindyourmind and take a look around. I knew I had something in common with the people who worked and volunteered there: a passion to help others. I wasn’t sure, but I thought maybe, just maybe I had something to offer. The only way I could know for sure was if I tried.

It was frightening, absolutely. It was rocky at times, I felt overwhelmed. But the good outweighed the bad, so much that I now feel like my history of mental illness is as good or better than a university degree on a résumé. It’s real life experience with real life issues that affect millions.

The next time you’re feeling self-hatred, take a step back. Maybe you’re used to putting yourself down, but could there maybe, just maybe be another side to things? Could your experience actually be an asset? What do you know that others don’t? What do you wish the people around you could understand?

You have the power to help others understand what you want them to know. You have the power the change this world. Yes, you. No one is exempt. Maybe you live somewhere or around people who aren’t supportive of your power, your voice, but they don’t have to control you forever. You can go out into the world and find people who make you feel appreciated. You have good things in you that this world needs.

Before volunteering at mindyourmind, I volunteered at the Humane Society, brushing and petting the cats who spent their days in cages. I was only helping one small cat at a time but that was in my comfort zone. I made a bit of a difference.

Start small if you have to. Start where you are. Start in secret if you want or need to, but just start. Plant your roots in the ground somewhere, anywhere that makes you feel safe. The sunshine will reach you if you stick your ground, I promise. You are NOT alone and you have much to offer. Prove it to yourself, the world. We need you! Share your story, your opinion, your thoughts and your tastes. You deserve to be here and be heard just as much as anyone else. We need to hear from you because there is no one exactly like you.

Come on out. Volunteer or speak up or just think about how your passions could change this world for the better. And if you take a chance, it could turn your whole life around. It could give you a reason to get out of bed. It could give you life, meaning, and a place in this world; just like it has for me.

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