Future Fears

childrenplayingIn these past few years, my Facebook feed has slowly become not about my friends’ lives, but the lives of their children. I used to do a double-take when a friend’s profile pic showed them suddenly thirty years younger than they were the day before, but now I sigh and say, “Another baby.” What’s really weird is when you are friends with a couple and they move away and then have children. And you get to see these strange hybrids of the people you once knew.

I’ve always been friends with people older than me, due to maturity or just a general sense of needing to run from whatever crowd I’m typically surrounded with. So my friends have been having babies for some time, but the older I get, the more common it’s becoming. And, you guessed it, the older I get the more I stress about having kids one day. I’ve always known two things about myself, that I want to be a writer and I want to have kids.

Only now that I’m twenty-nine, this has become a real problem. First of all, I’ve never had a boyfriend beyond two months because in my mind, dating means sex and sex means rape. And you kind of have to have sex to have kids, at least if you want to be a mother to your own offspring, without paying a bazillion dollars to be artificially inseminated.

Also, I still hate life most of the time. I still have suicidal thoughts every day. It takes a lot of courage for me to not kill myself, so I’m nowhere near believing that life is so great that I should actually pass it on to another person. While I am aware that it’s a fucking miracle to be alive, and that I’m so fortunate to be alive and as healthy as I am, I’ve yet to feel happy with my life. I don’t want to bring a kid into a world that doesn’t have happiness in it that I can count on.

I’m so scared, though, that I could never be happy without having kids because I love kids SO much. I’m beginning to resent my form of happiness.

And most of the time I think that I’m too fucked up to have kids. What kind of parent would I be, covered in self-inflicted scars? I’ve always felt like a target for predators, and I’m afraid my kids would come out just like me, hating themselves and feeling victimized at every turn. I feel toxic.

In a year I’ll turn thirty. My mom had me when she was twenty-five! No pressure, right?

I can only hope that the next five years or so will bring good things for me. That I can accomplish my dream of becoming a published writer, that I can earn enough money to keep myself alive, and then maybe those two things will give me enough purpose and security to think about trying to date. Fighting my fears that every man is a rapist. And then, if I can feel safer in this world, maybe I can find happiness, at least some of the time. Enough to feel like having children wouldn’t be selfish, but the opposite of that.

I also need to look my childhood sexual abuse in the face, really try to understand it because right now, my abuse just makes me feel like every kid out there will be hurt so badly. They are so vulnerable and there are so many bad people out there.

I need to start small. Like this week, I am totally psyched to see The Nut Job with my friend Andrea and her daughter Bea. Bea is the coolest kid ever and she makes me so happy. I feel like no one better than she will understand my excitement for this movie about squirrels AND a pug.

So if I ever seem like this mental health superhero to you, maybe this post will remind you of how much self-doubt and fear I still have. How far I have to go. If you are scared about your future – and really, who isn’t? – think about sharing your fears. Turning feelings into words is a powerful remedy. It gives you something to work with, instead of the swirling pit of chaos it can feel like when it stays trapped inside.

What does your ideal future look like? Where do you want to go? What would you want for your kids one day? Is there a way for you to get there yourself, first?

If you get overwhelmed thinking about the future, plant both of your feet on the floor to remind yourself of your present. Focus on your breathing. It’s super easy to get lost in our heads, thinking about all the “what ifs” we have yet to face.

You aren’t alone!

Pets for PTSD

sleepydigbyI have seen far too much.

I struggle to put my memories into words because the memories feel corrosive, dangerous, and unpredictable. By stringing words together to describe my hell, I’m afraid that the resulting sentences will make my laptop explode.

And you, dear readers, know this by now. My blog is a battlefield.

And yet, my little weirdo dog ends up in my posts as much as my traumas do. Why is that?

ANIMALS HEAL. Digby wakes me from nightmares, keeps me present, and makes me laugh even when I feel like I’ll never laugh again. As I type this he’s got his head on my lap, and his little mushroom-shaped nose is whistling on my keyboard with every exhale he emits from dreamland.

This ad for Post-Traumatic Distress Disorder Service Animals captures it extremely well:

Digby isn’t trained as a service animal. He doesn’t lick me out of nightmares or turn on the light for me, but considering my nightmares stem from sexual assault, maybe Digby knows not to lick me when I’m sleeping. He tends to wake me up by pushing at his nose for me to roll over. Sometimes he just wakes me with a dog fart. He’s subtle and crafty, this little dog of mine.

If you don’t own a dog, there are services out there that can connect you with dogs if only for a few hours. My friend Igor is a therapy dog from London, Ontario, who visits hospitals and provides companionship to kids learning to read. He’s trained so well that he’s become an actor, starring in movies, tv shows, and hitting the stage at The Grand Theatre.

Therapy dogs, even if they aren’t assigned to you personally, are a great way to connect with well-trained dogs. These dogs do not jump up on you, bark unexpectedly, or do things that make may you feel threatened.

That said, I’m not sure if therapy dogs can control their flatulence. Digby and Igor, your cute little faces make up for the gas. This is why I recommend pugs especially. They’re great for kicking addiction, too! Check out Gemma Correll’s classic Pugs Not Drugs art design.

Check out Therapy Dog Services via St. John Ambulance for therapy dog resources in Canada. Or at least follow Digby’s adventures on my Instagram, and friend his pal Igor, too!

Good thing my iPhone isn’t advanced enough to transmit odors, yet.

A Good Secret Gone Bad

LISBETH“Secrets keep you sick.”

I’ve heard that phrase a few times in treatment and it’s really stuck with me. It’s something I say a lot, to both myself and others, but up until recently I thought it only applied to “bad” secrets.

Like, not telling people in my life about my depression kept me really sick for a long time. The shame and guilt that went with my secret kept me alone and frightened. Keeping my abuse a secret also kept me sick, and the more I talk about it the better I feel.

Those are things I qualified as “bad” secrets. But do you know what? I’ve had a good secret I’ve been keeping from you since August, and I think it’s making me sick! I mean, I’ve had a lot of triggers this fall, with my psychiatrist disappearing, my good friend being hospitalized, and winter coming on, but on top of all of those things, keeping this secret from you is draining me of energy and hope. Those things matter a lot when you have depression!

And I don’t even fully understand why I’ve kept it a secret!

So here’s the story:

After my intensely suicidal spring and summer, I knew I had to have something big to keep me going. I had to have a reason to live that I could hang onto. The police investigation into my childhood abuse had fallen apart, and I felt like my story, my identity, had crumpled with it. I knew I couldn’t give up my voice, my story, my version of it all, or else I would die. So I decided that I would tell my story. I promised my suicidal self that I could still kill myself after I wrote a book, but deep down I wondered if writing a book would actually make me really want to live. If I’d just published a book, I think I’d have a lot to stick around for, right?

So I’ve been lugging multiple notebooks and journals around for years, everywhere I go, so that I can write in coffee shops and at the library. Writing is my security blanket, my tie to a world I can understand and describe. So, after this goal I set of writing a book, I tried buying the biggest notebook I could find. I thought maybe it had enough pages to get me started on my book. After three days of lugging it around, however, I knew it wasn’t what I needed and plus, it was way too heavy. I needed a laptop, but still didn’t have the money.

I was pretty angry the day I decided to just go buy a laptop. It had to do with a guy at a small business center laughing in my face about my dream to teach mental health workshops involving zine making and writing. FINE, I thought, I’LL DO IT MYSELF AND SHOW EVERYONE. I decided I’d buy exactly the laptop I wanted and put it on Visa, and then pay it off with the book I write.

I wanted the longest battery life possible, the best screen resolution (for my chronic headaches), and a piece of equipment I could rely on for some time. No more excuses!

So my friend Eva went to the Apple Store with me and gave me the moral support I needed. I whipped out my Visa card and bought a 13″ MacBook Air. It was ridiculously easy to spend thousands of dollars in an instant. After the bus ride home, however, I told Eva I couldn’t come over as planned. I went home and straight to bed, having thoroughly shocked my system.

I told my sister about the laptop first. Then about a month later I summoned up the energy to tell my parents. Then some other people in my life who saw me from time to time. I decided I would tell all of you, my readers, once I had some new zines to pitch at the same time. I’d say, “Look, I bought this super expensive thing that will make me the best blogger ever, so support me by buying these new zines and I’ll pay off my debt while doing push ups on one arm!”

Easy, right? Nope.

Something got in the way. Call it fear, call it uncertainty, call it shame. Call it debt, call it distraction, call it whatever you want. Whatever it was turned this laptop into a secret that weighed on me daily.

The pressure got to me. Suddenly, my chronic pain went way, way up, so I could barely leave the house let alone write. I canceled my table at multiple craft shows because painkillers were making me too woozy to travel. My psychiatrist disappeared, my friend was hospitalized and life just went on being its complicated self.

But after four months, I finally have some new zines to share, and now that they’re out I realize how ridiculous this all is. Buying this laptop was a wonderful move towards a better future for me and for this blog, so why was I so scared to tell you? Why couldn’t my writing – this blog – be enough on its own?

I’ve had some awesome talks with my creative self lately, working all this stuff out. I have a long way to go, still. But, before I sign off for tonight, let me introduce you to Lisbeth:

LISBETH

Yes, I named my laptop after the hacker survivor extraordinaire from the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She’s a victim who takes her life back, with the power of her intelligence and her trusty computer.

In my next few posts, I will tell you more about my Lisbeth (like how I decorated her!) and share my ideas for how you can help me turn Daisies and Bruises into something much bigger!

It starts and ends with you. ♥

Self-Care Adds Up!

selfcaredoorwayIf you’re walking down the sidewalk and you see a dollar, what do you do? You pick it up!

Is it going to buy you a meal?

Nope.

Is it going to buy you car?

No way.

A trip around the world?

Hell no.

But it counts. You know a dollar counts, you know that by saving up your dollars you can buy something bigger.

I used to hate it when someone told me that to help my depression I should exercise or eat well. I wanted to scream at my doctor, “JOINING AN AFTER SCHOOL CLUB IS NOT GOING TO HELP ME!! MY DEPRESSION IS BIGGER THAN A MOUNTAIN!”

His pithy advice felt hollow and insulting.

Now I realize that the small things we do to take care of ourselves add up like money. They don’t fix everything, but they fix a little bit. They make life a cinch easier. And when I’m super depressed, I’ll take all the help I can get.

You don’t have to do them one hundred percent, either. Exercising doesn’t mean running a marathon. It can mean that, but it can also mean walking around the block. Most of the time, that’s all I can do. Even that small bit of movement helps my mood a little.

We’re supposed to have like eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I doubt I’m the only one who laughs at that number. I’m lucky to have even three servings a day. But I’m trying to add some veggies to my meal.

I’m like a little kid at the dinner table, begging to be excused. When I was little, my parents would say, “Okay, you can leave the table if you eat two bites of your peas.” Two bites is better than nothing, right? So, if I’m getting a hamburger, I ask for extra lettuce and tomato. I eat some grapes with my crackers.

Every day I do what I can to make things a little better. I take a multivitamin, I take the stairs instead of an elevator, and I stand in the sunshine instead of the shade, if only for a minute.

Remember what I said about money. Self-care adds up! Be nicer to yourself for five minutes. Give yourself a break! Keep doing the little things and eventually they’ll turn into big things.

One day we will travel the world together.

Halloween Trauma Triggers

AMerryHalloweenI am proud to say that readers from around the world visit and subscribe to Daisies and Bruises. Mental health is a universal issue, so I’m hoping even a few advanced alien species pick up on my site now and then.

So if you’re reading from somewhere that doesn’t celebrate Halloween, here’s a link to explain the traditions and celebrations we do around here in North America: Halloween History

Halloween was always super fun at my house when I was growing up. My parents went all-out in decorating the house with spider webs, jack-o-lanterns and black cats. A massive homemade ghost twirled from a window on the second floor of our house. My mom usually dressed up like a witch to hand out candy, complete with cackling and a scary soundtrack in the background.

It was my favourite holiday until I reached high school age, when trick-or-treating was no longer “cool” and all parties involved alcohol and only sexy-themed costumes.

Ever since I remembered my abuse, some of the fun things about Halloween now seem sinister. Post-traumatic stress disorder takes hold and points out some things that trigger me:

Halloween Props That Trigger Me

- crime scene tape

- fake blood, scars, stitches

- people jumping out at me (this has ALWAYS scared me to death, even as a little kid. Especially as a kid!)

- strobe lights/fog (anything that obstructs my vision)

- fake severed limbs

- overly sexualized anything

- fake chains

- cemetery props

- background sounds of human screams

 

Halloween Props I Still Love

- spider webs

- bats

- non-gory costumes

- candy, candy, candy

- Jack-o-lanterns

- black cats

It feels weird to list the Halloween things that trigger me, like I’m signaling myself as the biggest party pooper or something, but I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

It’s important to think about the messages we give to the world in our actions and decisions, from the every-day to special occasions. Just because it’s a holiday, it doesn’t mean my traumatic feelings go away. On the other hand, what triggers me may not trigger someone else and vice versa. If we stripped Halloween of everything that triggered people (which would be impossible anyway), some of the fun parts of Halloween would be erased too.

This post is about awareness, not scrubbing Halloween of all the potentially triggering things. Ask the following questions when you decorate this season:

- What kind of messages are my decorations giving?

- Is this appropriate for children and feelings of safety?

- Could these props be upsetting to some people, making them feel unsafe at my party?

- Can I add to the fun of the Halloween tradition without jumping out at people or playing “music” involving human screams?

- Is fake blood something to laugh at and decorate with?

This is also a guide to understanding why your friend maybe isn’t enjoying Halloween. Maybe that background music of human screams scares us for a reason, and we shouldn’t be ignoring that sometimes people do scream like that outside of Halloween. Real torture exists in this world, as well as real human monsters and real crime scenes. We should never allow ourselves to become numb to the real dangers in the world.

In two weeks we will celebrate Remembrance Day, to pay respect to veterans past and present. That holiday isn’t a joke to anyone, and most war veterans I know have seen more severed limbs than the rest of us can imagine.

Trauma memories aren’t mindful of the calendar. They don’t just go away because it’s Halloween. They are ever-present. That’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: the painful past remaining present.

This year, let’s find a balance between fun and safety for Halloween. Think about those reflective strips schools hand out to kids now so that they are extra visible to traffic when they’re trick-or-treating in the dark. We can improve on traditions, making Halloween more fun for everyone.

Share this post! Spread the word before the 31st, so we can plan to have a great time.

Little Matchstick Girl

myfutureatthecurb2Sometimes I write an upbeat blog post, not because that’s how I feel all the time, but because it’s how I feel for a moment. For a moment, the other day, I thought, “Hell yes, I’m rocking my unhappiness!” And then later, when I inevitably feel weak again, I can go back to my blog and read up on how awesome I’m doing, fighting the odds, still laughing and taking pictures of my weirdo dog.

And then there are nights like tonight, where it feels like everything is fake. I feel like the odds are truly against me in life, like no matter what I do there will always be something that knocks me down. Or someone.

Remember how, earlier in the summer, I talked about whether I deserve to feel better? Well, after that post, with the encouragement of my psychiatrist, I increased one of my antidepressants, Cymbalta. Withing a week, I swear, I felt happier. Especially in the mornings, right after I took my meds, I felt energized and excited about my day. I had energy to go out, leave my apartment for the morning and the afternoon, or the afternoon and the evening, a previously impossible feat. I was getting more done, I had more ideas, hell, I even started to think about joining the gym because I had energy to burn.

I still felt angry, sad, hurt, and traumatized, but I had the energy to do things to distract myself from those feelings. I even started to envision a future for myself, where my pain wasn’t front and center.

Then, my psychiatrist suddenly disappeared to deal with his own illness. My best friend ended up on the psych ward for weeks. The sun began to set earlier, students came back into my home town, filling the coffee shops and buses and raising my anxiety with their numbers. A thousand big things and a thousand little things began to eat at me. Oh, and the wonderful plant called Ragweed did its fall explosion and took my chronic headaches to skull-exploding levels.

It started getting harder to leave my apartment, especially with so many triggers out there. Too much chronic pain. Too little emotional support.

This week I was offered a job that landed within my comfort zone, with manageable hours, promising me a steady distraction. I said yes with enthusiasm, and then two hours into my work I learned that this new boss wasn’t planning on paying me. Apparently, because she thought that since I pay my rent with a disability cheque, I must sit on my butt all day long with nothing to do. And money aside, this person seemed to think that my disability wouldn’t hinder my performance in any way. I politely asserted myself and left with my dignity tossed casually over my shoulder like a slick leather jacket.

Between leaving that “job” and reaching my apartment, however, I dropped the jacket somewhere. Maybe it got covered up by the fall leaves or the swarms of squirrels shaking walnuts from my backyard tree stole it for their winter’s nest. I don’t know, but I really don’t have the energy to go looking for it.

I lie in bed, aware that it’s too early to sleep for the night but I can’t find a reason to get up. I wonder when I’m going to stop feeling like the odds are completely against me. I’ve lived long enough to see that good things do happen in this world. They do! And one day, if I hang on long enough, good things will happen to me in bigger numbers, so that maybe I can summon the energy to be enthused about life. Right?

Well, that day is not today. It’s probably not going to be tomorrow, either, but I can still hope a little. Sometimes I feel like the Little Matchstick Girl, frozen to almost to death but clinging to her box of matches that she’s supposed to sell. Instead of working, she defiantly lights her matches, one by one, to bask in their glow for a few moments of warmth and comfort.

The warmth of my computer screen lights my face up in the dark, just like those matches. I press keys, telling my story one letter at a time.

An In-Between Post!

stresseddepressedbutwelldressedMy last post on self-injury knocked the wind out of me. I’ve been writing the follow up post for over a week, but my emotions are building me up and knocking me down. I can’t talk about the reasons not to self-injure without examining the reasons I started self-injuring to begin with. And that’s overwhelming.

I feel like the next step is to write about helping you see that you matter and that you are worth protecting, because any avoiding self-injury tips don’t mean a thing if a person doesn’t feel worthy of self-care first.

Clearly there’s a lot more to say on this topic than I anticipated. I’m trying to sort it all out, while also going through family stuff and my own financial crisis. I feel lost and scattered and unpredictable. My writing is reflecting this and ugh, it’s just not coming together.

Anyway, I wanted to post to tell you that I haven’t forgotten about you and that a post is coming soon. I don’t know if I can talk about self-injury coping a few posts in a row or not. I might have to space it out to take care of my mental health. We will see!

In the meantime, I want to direct you to a post I made two years ago called, How to Survive The Impulse to Hurt Yourself. There are some answers there that will hold you over.

I love all of you!

♥ Erin

“She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist, if she dared to find it.”

~ Jeanette Winterson

Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit

patientroomI’m finally ready to write about this. You know how I’ve talked about there being an infinite amount of rock bottoms, at least in my life? During my last hospital stay, I ended up in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit for the first time in my twelve years of being in London Ontario’s mental health care system.

To back up for a moment, let me explain that most psychiatric hospitalizations here in London – and I assume, this is a province-wide trend – begin at a regular hospital. Victoria Hospital, now known as London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) Victoria Hospital, has a psychiatric floor that is for short-term stays. If your treatment team decides you need longer-term care, you are transfer to Regional Mental Health Care (RMHC), London’s psychiatric hospital. There are exceptions to this rule, with some patients staying at Victoria Hospital for a longer period, but mostly, this is how our system works.

So, when I was hospitalized in the spring, I spent almost a week on the regular part of the psychiatric floor before being transferred to the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. At Victoria Hospital’s South Street campus, the old building that is scheduled to be torn down in the near future the intensive care area was called The Acute Care Unit, or the ACU.

Now that the psychiatric floor has been transferred to the new campus at LHSC on Commissioners Road, I’d heard hospital staff referring to something they called the “Pick-U.” I’d envisioned it as some kind of baggage pick-up area like they have in airports, which made no sense but I couldn’t help thinking about airports for some reason. One day I asked an orderly what the “Pick-U” was and they explained that it was how they pronounced the PICU, the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit.

One of these days I will tell you more about the regular part of the psychiatric floor, which is actually quite welcoming and comfortable, especially compared to the old hospital, because I know a lot of you are probably wondering about that. For today, I will warn you that the following description of the PICU is pretty scary. I’ve been hospitalized over ten times, and never experienced the PICU first-hand, so please don’t worry about your first hospitalization landing you in this part of the floor. There are only six beds there (I believe. I was in crisis and so I wasn’t exactly counting stuff like beds but it is a very small area) and it’s only used as a last resort. I was moved to the PICU because they were worried that I wasn’t safe enough on the regular floor.

When I got to the PICU, the first thing I noticed was that the floor was dark. At first I thought it was because it was approaching night-time, but it was actually because power had just gone off in the whole building. Haha! Seriously, this happened a few times during my recent hospitalization, but the power had gone out while I was on a pass (that did not go well, by the way), and I thought that the lights were just off on this part of the floor for some other reason. It was kind of cliché: it was a dark and stormy night and Erin ended up in the PICU. Dun, dun, DUN!

The second thing I noticed in the PICU was the smell. Since no windows open on the psychiatric floor, air can be a little stale but you get used to it on the regular part of the floor. In the Intensive Care Unit, the air is completely stagnant. The unit is small, no doors open without a key, and most patients aren’t in a state to regularly want showers. On top of it all, the other patients I saw in the PICU were wearing diapers, so it literally smelled like shit.

The nurses’s station in the PICU is small and surrounded by plexiglass, with the desks facing the bedrooms. It reminded me of a Panopticon prison.

The night I was transferred to the PICU was terrible, to say the least. I was walked there by two police officers, a nurse, and an orderly.  Once my room was ready I was instructed to change into hospital garb so my clothes could be locked up along with the rest of my belongings. A nurse told me my parents had called, and I could call them if I wanted. They brought me a portable phone from the nurses station. After I spoke with my parents, reality set in.

I cried so hard that I literally collapsed onto the floor. The rest of the world felt so far away. I started having severe flashbacks to my childhood when I was abused with no hope of escape. An orderly half-picked me up off the floor and ushered me into bed, while my nurse prepared a large dose of Ativan. I begged for at least one of my stuffed animals from my locker of belongings; I needed something to cling to besides myself. They gave me both the teddy bear and my Bunny as I fell into a dark and dreamless sleep. I hadn’t slept in over 48 hours.

Previous to my stay in the PICU, I had been on Constant Care, which meant a nurse or an orderly sat and watched me literally 24 hours a day.  I had never experienced Constant Care before this hospital stay either. It helped me feel a bit safer at times and at other times I felt imprisoned. This is another topic for blog post, but Constant Care continued as I stayed in the PICU. I woke after my first night in the PICU with a familiar orderly watching me. She notified my nurse that I was awake and they brought me my meds and the breakfast tray that they’d saved for me. The PICU still smelled, I had to ask to go to the bathroom, and then had to wait for a man in a diaper to get out of the ladies room. The orderly watched me pee and then ushered me back to my bed.

In the daylight, and with the lights working in the building, I could see that my room in the PICU was roughly the same size as my room on the other part of the floor. This room, however, had no furniture besides my bed and the chair that the orderly sat in. To the right of my bed was a window that stretched the span of the room, where I could see the trees of London glowing in the sunshine. The walls perpendicular to my windowed view were normal drywall, but the wall parallel to the window was made of plexiglass. Curtains with Velcro at the top and sides for easy removal clung to the glass to give me at least a little privacy. I can’t remember if my room had a door. I don’t think it did.

The two other patients I saw out of their rooms were in their sixties to seventies, babbled nonsense and paced the floor constantly. A woman with a thick accent was reminded by her nurse about three times every twenty minutes that her son wasn’t dead and that he was coming to visit later.

I stayed pretty dissociated, avoiding both eye-contact and talking with anyone unless I absolutely had to.

Without a clock or anyone coming or going except through the nurses station entrance, the hours in the PICU passed slowly. In my last room I’d had belongings that my mom had brought to me after my admission: some books, my journal, a colouring book and crayons, magazines, and comfortable clothing. I had toiletries and my shoes and all of these things together made my hospital room mine. They reinforced that I had an identity outside of the hospital. Without them, with me in the PICU I was no one. I was merely another patient, stuck and hopeless. The effect was maddening.

When I wasn’t dissociated or having flashbacks of some kind, I sat on my bed mentally beating myself up for fucking up so badly. I’d had a lot of freak outs and meltdowns during this hospital stay. I’d never felt more out of control; I’d never felt more crazy. More than once I was threatened with restraints. It had to stop. I had to control myself. I realized that my good behaviour was the only bargaining tool I had.

Up until landing in the PICU, I hadn’t cared about anything. Being in the hospital for the first time in years made me hate myself with a vengeance.  The only thing I wanted was to be dead. I hadn’t realized how comfortable I had been on the other part of the floor until I was moved to the PICU. Now, I couldn’t stand the smell, I didn’t want my family to visit in fear that they would think I was truly one-hundred-percent crazy, and I had no access to my things. I couldn’t even write in the PICU.  I felt my grip on my identity as a human being slipping rapidly from my grasp. Any longer in the PICU, I felt like I’d never ever get out. It was an almost death, this suspension from the world. And I didn’t like it one bit.  If I was going to live, I had to get back to the freer part of the floor.

I’d finally began to feel something stronger than self-hatred: a desire to survive long enough to get out of that place. To show the hospital staff that I wasn’t a crazed animal. To show myself that I was strong. To show my family that they mattered to me.  I had something to fight for, which is another way to say that I had a reason to live.

As soon as I expressed a strong desire to cooperate with my doctor and nurses, I was moved out of the PICU. I stayed on Constant Care but I started asking for what I needed. I even got my orderly to look the other way as my parents snuck Digby into my hospital room.

DigbyAtTheHospital

He seemed a little confused being at a hospital, but he was definitely glad to see me. I smiled for the first time in over a week. That is my underwear and socks at the end of my bed, and my teddy bear was out of lockup too. (Yes, I’m aware I just shared a pic of my undies online!)

I stayed in hospital for three weeks total, two under Constant Care and then one on my own. I got passes to go out and then passes overnight. Finally, I was discharged.

Two months later, I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, but I’ve stayed out of the hospital. I don’t want to go back to that place so I have to take care of myself. I am learning how. Digby keeps me grounded and small things like setting survival goals are really helping.

What are survival goals? Here are some of mine:

I’m not allowed to kill myself until:

- I get through today.

- I fill these Etsy orders and make a bunch of buttons.

- I see my friend Maranda one more time, hopefully in September or October.

- after I write my first book.

After first being discharged from the hospital, my survival goals were even smaller. I wanted to survive long enough to sleep in my own bed again. Then I wanted to survive long enough to dye my hair. My friends were moving out West in a couple of weeks and I wanted to see them off. Then I had to dog sit. One by one, day by day, these little goals added up to several weeks without attempting suicide. And now, as you can see, I’m thinking in long term steps, planning things for the next few months, and planning things for my life.

I still hate life and hate living, but I’m also getting a kick out of showing people what I can do. Showing myself what I can do. I’m going to die one day, either by suicide or natural causes, but until then, I want to push myself so I can say I gave life my best shot. All I’ve ever wanted to do is be a published writer, so I have to do that before I die. And then if/when I’m a published writer, maybe I won’t want to die because I’ll have reached one of my dreams.

I have so much to share with you and sorting out my thoughts has been difficult lately. But yeah, here’s a big post for you, sharing a bit more of my recent crisis. I’m still not feeling like myself, but I’m getting there.

What are some of your survival goals?

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