Recovery Diary 08/26/18

Classical music in the early mornings is not a foreign concept. It feels repetitive; meditative. It puts me in a trance able to ease racing thoughts and any bodily discomfort. Mornings are a time of reflection to sit and think, think, and think some more. Mornings are sacred. Mornings consist of mediation, reading, writing, and quietly staring off into the distance allowing creativity to scream loud and exciting thoughts into these commonly absent ears.

I paint a lot. I draw a lot. I write a lot. I read a lot. Does that make me an artist? Everyone is an artist is my response every time someone calls me one. I say this because I want so badly to be an artist that I am afraid of being one. Does that make sense? It is staring at the gold medal at the Olympics, afraid to take it out of the announcers hand because once it touches your fingers it is all real. Everything you worked for is real.

I had a dream last night that I was in the Olympics. I was an aerialist. They don’t have that sport in the Olympics, but behind my close eyelids the competition was very real. I was the best so naturally everyone hated me. I was ostracized from the team and forced to train on my own. Despite all odds, I won…? I actually woke up just before the results were in. I finished the dream for myself. I got the gold. All the hard work paid off. I took the medal. I touched the gold. I allowed that dream to be achievable.

I’ve always been drawn towards seemingly impossible goals. When someone says I wish I could just do ______, I automatically want to do that thing. I want to prove to them and to myself that whatever they have deemed unachievable in their mind is actually within arm’s reach. Go do it! Go do it! I always want to scream in people’s faces, but that would be rude and uncalled for and so I bite my tongue and let them vent about all the things that want to do in life but never will.

I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to do whatever is on my budget list. I want to be open to changes in my goals, to growth along the way. I never want to lose my determined spirit. I want, I want, I want… damn I want a lot of things.

Meditation helps me let go of all these racing ideas and thoughts. I need to be more present is what my therapist tells me. I’m motivated she say, which is good, but sometimes it’s okay to just be. Yesterday I tried to just be. I didn’t know what to do so I sat on my bed and listened to classical music and read. I don’t think I give myself enough credit for how present I can be. Each morning is filled with meditative and present rituals.

I like to write unconsciously, spilling all the thoughts onto paper as if to help sort them out. But, sometimes they don’t need sorting. Sometimes they are fine just the way they are.

Bee’s #myunpolishedjourney Story

#myunpolishedjourney stories are stories individuals share about their journey with mental illness and recovery. Interested in sharing? Email us at info@unpolishedjourney.org.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

My name is Bee, and I am 21 years old. I am hoping to return to education in September to study Psychology after taking some time off to focus on my mental health and to truly start to put my all into recovery. I love reading, writing poetry, spending time with the people I love, and spending time advocating and talking about what I am passionate about (which is a big part of @madetobebee). I’ve also recently started doing yoga and incorporating more activity and exercise into my life, which I am doing gradually and carefully due to living with chronic illness (fibromyalgia). But so far, I am enjoying it!

What has your mental health journey been like?

I was trying to find one word to sum up my mental health journey, but it’s not possible. I have felt the most shattering depression and hopelessness imaginable, but also the most overwhelming happiness and joy that I would not trade for anything. I first started experiencing mental health difficulties when I was 11 years old and just starting secondary school. I remember feeling all of these heightened, intense emotions and not knowing how to deal with them or what to call them. It wouldn’t be until 8 years later that I would be diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. And so I turned to self-harm, which became my coping mechanism when all of the emotions became too much – that is, until last year.

For around a year now, I have been clean from those kinds of behaviours as my emotions and moods have become much more regulated by taking a break from education and focusing on my mental health. Leaving University was an incredibly hard decision for me, and one that I was pretty much forced to make; I was in a dark, dark place and was phoning crisis numbers practically every other day. I was holding on as hard as I could for the people around me – but I was falling, deep and fast.

I ended up coming home for Christmas break early and was put under Home Treatment care with a crisis team, as an alternative to hospitalisation. At first, nurses were coming out to see me every day or every other day to make sure I was still here and to monitor my mental health. This saved my life. I’m here now, and I aim to do my best to help others in similar places because I want to show them that living with a mental illness is entirely possible.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in pursuing recovery?

I’ve always compared myself to other people – which isn’t a surprise, considering that’s what we are all encouraged to do. We’re never good enough, pretty enough, funny enough, thin enough. We’re never enough – we are always told we have to strive for more. This has been one of the hardest things for me to overcome; in fact, I’m still learning how to. It’s a process, and that’s okay. At the start of my recovery, I was constantly comparing myself to my friends and the people around me. “They’ve all nearly finished university, and now I’m a dropout. I have no job, I have nothing. I’m a failure.”

But now I know that’s not true. Sometimes my mind tricks me into believing it’s true. But most of the time, I can talk myself down from it. I left education to focus on myself and my mental health. I’ve come so far in my own mental health journey and recovery, which you might not be able to see on paper, but that’s not important. What’s important is how I feel, and the progress I’m making. I’m hopefully returning to education later this year, which, yes, is later than my friends. But that’s not important either. We shouldn’t compare our journey’s to others. All lives and all journies look different: that’s the beautiful thing about them. I’m not a failure, I did what is best for me – and that self-awareness is something I’m incredibly thankful to have developed and will continue to use to my advantage. I will access the help I am deserving of instead of believing I am not worthy, I will pace myself and take breaks when I need to, and, most of all, I will be kind to myself. And if I do not achieve this all of the time, that’s okay. We are doing our best, and that’s all that we can ever do.

What helps you maintain recovery?

Writing has been a massive help to me. I love poetry; listening to spoken word, reading poetry, and writing it. It helps me release a lot of emotions I may have been suppressing, and I can come to terms with them in a way that I find productive and helpful. Listening to and reading poetry also reminds me that I am not alone in my pain, or my struggles, because it helps unite me with others that are experiencing similar things in words. Using our energy for things that make us feel whole and happy is something we should always make time for.

What advice do you have for someone in the early stages of recovery?

I know that this is difficult, and believing that things can possibly be different is harder than anyone can ever imagine. I know that sometimes it is easier to live in darkness than to risk finding light and losing it. But you are worthy of living a life of love, and hope, and happiness, and joy with meaningful relationships. One with the kind of good moments that make things worth holding on to. Yes, there will be sadness too. But the love, the hope, the good moments we bank, we can use them. We can hold on to them. So know that it’s okay to feel and express all of the feelings. Recovery and healing are not linear. There is no right or wrong way to heal. Go at your own pace – it isn’t a race. Take as much time as you need to focus on yourself, on your mental health and wellbeing. Prioritise it. Don’t ever feel guilty for learning to put it, and yourself, first. You are important, you always have been and will continue to be. It’s time you know that.

When

By: Morgan Blair

For everyone who has ever had a bad day.

When you cry from deep in your belly,
And your sobs turn into heaving,
And your body is clenched with no hope of tasting a breath.

When you can bathe in the tears pouring from your eyes,
And the saltwater burns as it leaks onto your chapped lips,
And it tastes like a heavy, sad ocean on your dry, dry tongue.

When you lie on your bathroom floor with the lights off,
And you sob until you physically can’t anymore,
And you’re nothing more than flesh flickering in your candle’s light.

When your thoughts swim to the dialogue of too much,
And that your body is too much,
And you are too much,
And life is too much,
And hoping is too much,
And thinking is too much.

When you have that night that you don’t think you can survive,
And you fall asleep,
And when you wake up you find a way to begin again.

I am a Sailor

So this week I decided to take a break from the short stories depicting various mental illnesses and video for my latest spoken word piece.  This spoken word is meant to describe what it is like to navigate recovery from mental illness.  I wrote it from personal experiences therefore it pertains most strongly to eating disorder recovery but can be applied to other areas of mental health as well.  Watch. Enjoy. Connect.

https://vimeo.com/164832307

Suffering

A poem I wrote in response to the sculpture called “Suffering” by Constantin Brancusi. 

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Two hollow caverns

Resulting in absent slimy white spheres

That cause the evolution of unnatural movement.

Disjointed. Harsh.

Forced to draw a right angle whose

Direction becomes a guide from blindness

And when oriented the nostril glacier’s

Icicles melt into an overflowing jar.

Where the liquid spills, forming a

Puddle of organs:

The flesh of thoughts,

And the blood hearts of ideas,

Which drip through the cracked floor

Burning away the strings bound to the blind.

Ropes of smoke equating to

The evaporation of bondage.

Real.

Not an illusion,

But an illusion of perception.

Slowly falling away into

Showers of blood hearts

Raining through the kitchen tiles.

A million particles.

A million droplets.

The blind has severed physical relations

Forcing a painful disintegration

Of breaking down to a microscopic felt space.

A Transformation into an existence which is no longer solid.

Courage

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Black and white become an enmeshment of grey. The black is beautiful because only in complete darkness does the authentic gift of the white become apparent. The white is beautiful for it showers me in silent cotton balls. A tangible experience of air that I am able to hold, able to see, and to collect within my body’s casing.  It is a memory to the bliss that the day has to offer.  I hold onto it for the times when night knocks on my door to steal me away once more.  The grey is beautiful because it encapsulates both the black and the white, becoming the duality of life.  It has the ability to hold both, know both, and acknowledge both. A perfect housing for the highs and lows when the mundane routines overtake our time.

Yesterday, was all white for me. Not because there wasn’t some grey and a heavy coating of black, but because I actively chose white to be the dominating color.  The weather was magical.  Nearly 60 degrees and sunny on a February Saturday in Chicago.  That in and of itself laid the foundation for my day’s intention, white, white, white.  Breathe in positivity and out the negativity. Magic. Renewal. Gone with the hopeless brokenness.  The sun of my face thawed the icicles that had formed around my heart over the past week.  Each step along the sidewalk, each sunray meeting my cheeks melted my insides a little more until the waters freezing my heart were leaking down my legs, leaving a trail of black and grey beneath my feet.

Since the beginning of my recovery journey, I have stopped believing in New Year’s resolutions.  In the past, they have developed into unhealthy, unattainable goals set with the intention that when I failed to meet them I would have an excuse to beat myself up.  Instead, I now make New Year’s intentions.  This year’s intention being courage or the willingness to face things that make me fearful.  The intention has yielded positive results so far and to further my exposure with situations that force me to practice courage, I decided that for Lent I would add in activities that forced me to be courageous. My intention for the Lent season is each week to seek out an experience or situation that has the potential to foster connection.  For me, someone who is very shy and very closed off, this seemed like the perfect combination of fears and necessary growth.

Last week my connection was visiting a new small group.  Though, extremely difficult I did so and the experience was positive leaving my Sunday last weekend showered in white cotton balls.  This week my connection element was attending an alum event for my last treatment center.  And, once again, though very difficult to channel my anxiety and attend, it proved to be a positive experience that then led me to reconnect with a friend which in turn led to a weekend full of connection and new friendships.

For me, the basis of my recovery is built on connection.  If I don’t have that then the white days slowly fade away.  I am left with grey and black and then slowly even the grey darkens and only black is left. Dark. Unforgiving. Heavy. Black.  This is precisely why my intention for the year is so important because the most courageous thing I could do for myself is to pursue relationships with people.  And, that act of putting myself out there is centered around fear.  But because it scares me so much I know that is what I have to do because it is the presence of fear that shows me opportunity for growth.

Thoughts in Hearts

Mind and Heart

My mind is shooting out words that don’t exist so my thoughts are unable to translate into anything outside of myself. That leaves me misinterpreted as a translucent sheet of ice, but, actually I am opaque and dense and dark.  I am, in fact, as black as midnight, a mixing pot of anything and everything, a dismantling and welded together of, what are forced to become, paraxial pieces. My words are gas for them and therefore they don’t exist as more than a passing inhale, digested, used, and gone. But my thoughts leave my existence clouded by their chained estranged infantry to my god damn mind. My thoughts therefore become real through the debilitating power they have, the alienated existence they possess, the gas they embody which suffocates my entire reality. Thoughts that they don’t know, can’t know, will never know because the words formulating them don’t exist. Forever fostering a storm of intangibility determining an inevitable madness within because who wouldn’t become mad if trapped inside of their self with the compiling weight of words left unspoken? But the words can’t be spoken because they are created in the language of my mind.  That language only exists among my thoughts and is unable to be translated to them because the words only make sense in the realm of my own reality.

So instead I abandon the idea of the mind, thoughts, alienation, and the failure of these elements to actually exist.  Instead, I look to melt my heart, my many hearts. The one in my chest, the one in my gut. Leg heart. Calf heart. Heart Heart. A powerhouse control center for each pulsing activity which dictates my physical existence. My leg heart, frozen as all of my hearts are from a winter formed from years of manipulation, annihilation, culmination of false truths.  My leg heart must melt so that the pillars of solid ice can become water.  They must be water if I am to move, to run, to dance, to swim in the form that once was my legs. If I was to move now shattered shards of ice made glass would crumble beneath the weight of my frozen body and leave my face heart plastered against the hard pavement with the blood of my head heart pouring down the grey ground and steam forming to note the process of the rising temperatures. Warm pavement meaning the winter of passed traumas is gone and as a result leaves a pool of red leaking from my head heart’s icy center and a mosaic of painted glass surrounding what once was two pillars, my legs, my statue legs, my frozen legs.  It was the collapse of the hearts that began the melting promising the future of Spring.

But snow is still falling and I find my mind swimming in the magic that exists inside each individual flake.  Each unique, complex, different.  Each with their own story and yet together is when they start of become seen, formulating a blanket of white which cloaks a dark and somber world.  I walk in the snow, the flurries melting in my hair and hands.  They are frozen and I am not because I am warm and I melt them.  Maybe it is only within me that Spring is beginning to arrive and everything around me is still living in a never-ending winter? The snow paints me with wonder and incomprehensible excitement for the complexity of the one dropping the flakes.  I look up with certainty that these flakes are for me because I understand the language in which they fall.  It is the language of the heavens, of the universe, of the other worlds.  The ones of angels and demons and God and Andy.  The one where that which doesn’t make sense is real.  Pain and heartbreak and trauma and illness, makes sense under the language of snow because the snow speaks of a collective beauty comprised of individual artistic masterpieces. So in the context of the white, even the darkest of experiences become stunningly beautiful.  Suddenly the words which my mind is shooting out, the one’s which don’t exist, I can become exceedingly grateful for because it is through my comprehension of the language of snow that I come to realize I am living a four dimensional existence in a three dimensional world and that is a magical thing.

Air is Reminiscent

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A poem that came to fruition after a heavy day leaving me exhausted by the idea of life.  Not that it wasn’t beautiful, because life is and always will be caked in beauty.  But that life is hard and scary and unpredictable.  That navigating the ups and downs of not only life, but life in the context of recovery is exhausting. That is where the metaphor of air comes from because it is the basis for everything.  Breathing reminds us we are alive and the lungs are the gateway to that source of life. All is too much and too little at the same time, but worth every moment spent seeking meaning in the waves of circumstance.

For the ups and downs of your days, here is a poem:

Air is reminiscent

Of a thousand tongues,

Whose language is of rhyme.

Voices become isolated

As air is from the eyes.

The lungs speak true

Sounds of a forgotten time.

Oxygen dissipates

Ancient of the calendar.

Fossils resonate in stone

Of once conscious lungs.

Living is warm, but icicles

Have voided the passageway

Between the lungs and throat.

Gasping. Trying. Choking.

Air is reminiscent

Of another time

Where oxygen was tangible

And lungs were attainable.

Mosaiccs and Stained Glass

412124593_756365dbf0_bAt birth every person in this world is a flawless slab of glass.  Clear, smooth, a frame of translucency and fragility. But as we move through life knicks, cracks, and sometimes even bullet holes mark up our glass leaving areas damaged and dangerous.  Dangerous, because, it is a known fact that glass, when broken, cuts you.  Now, some people experience more cracks in their slab of glass than others.  Some even come to a point in their life where their entire slab is shattered and not a single crevice resembles the original flawless glass that their existence once was.

People make cheesy statements about how “you have cracks so the light can shine in” and “people who have more cracks are able to shine brighter”.  Or the quote “she never seemed shattered.  To me she was a breathtaking mosaic of battles she had won,” which I have in my blog’s bio.  I can say that I agree with these cheesy quotes, not because I have seen them personally play out in my life (though I have on more than one occasion), but because I have to believe in them in order to keep moving.  Because the moment I stop and decide that my shattered piece of glass is just broken and will always be broken and there is no way to find beauty in it, I loose all hope in my pursuit of emotional healing.

This doesn’t negate the fact though that being a shattered slab of glass hurts.  Sure, you 9can paint it in attempt to create a stunning stained glass window out of your brokenness that has ten times more light peering through it than so and so next to you who only has one little crack in her slab.  But still it hurts to be a stunning stained glass window, to be cracked, to be a beautiful rendition of what was supposed to constitute the end of your existence.  There is something incredibly powerful about rebuilding your slab to reinvent it from the pure, perfect existence it once was into a collection of knicks, cracks, and bullet holes that now are uniquely complex and direct reflections of your experiences.  Yet, still we all know that broken glass cuts.  So those of us who feel as though our past experiences have shattered parts, if not all, of our existence’s slab of glass, we know that each movement throughout our day cuts.

The waters of our showers are acidic.  The mattresses on which we sleep are lined with nails.  The backpacks we walk to work with are loaded with five insanely heavy boulders.  The days are hard.  Arbitrary tasks become burdensome.  Breathing becomes exhausting.  But no one knows.  Because to everyone around, we are a beautiful mosaic of strength.  We are overcomers and survivors and caked in resilience.  The pain is in the space between the mosaic pieces. The cracks whose edges are marked by sharp shards of glass.  Those are the parts that cut at the light streaming in.  Those are the parts that leave us hurting. But those are the parts that to everyone else become a beacon of hope.

hqdefaultThere is a reason why those of us searching for emotional healing, whether that be from past traumas or mental illnesses such as an eating disorder, depression, or anxiety, or tragic losses or chronic illness, or anything in between.  There is a reason why it is the very nature of humanity to create, fix, render, and grow.  We want to understand the meaning of all this pain.  We want to understand why some of us have more cracks than others.  We want to make sense of it all.  So we take those cracks and reframe their meaning.  They are the spaces where light shines through.  They are the spaces that act as the foundations for the mosaics and stained glass windows created in our pain.  And somehow, the reframing of the brokenness makes it all bearable.  It makes the acid showers, nail lined mattresses, and the boulders on our backs somehow less painful.  It makes all of this hurt we have endured worth it to have someone else look at our glass and think it is beautiful.

Fragmented Thoughts

d1grThere was something oddly upsetting about my positivity and spontaneity as I skipped through the conversations of the evening.  It simultaneously scared me, made me feel like a fraud, and yet left me with an ease of satisfaction.

I don’t like the idea of recovery because it feels like something I am undeserving to have.  I know myself to be nothing and therefore recovery, which is everything needed to become a whole individual, is not compatible with my make up.  After, all I am nothing so how can nothing obtain everything.

I love the idea of recovery because the spiritual parts of me know it is a true and tangible goal.  That I am deserving of recovery, that I owe it to myself and my past experiences to obtain it, that I am capable of helping others if I am to accept it. My spiritual center whispers to me in moments of peace and serenity that I am on my way to feeling human again.

imagesI cooked today.  It is something I am actually pretty good at, but would never admit.  I am good at putting stuff together and creating random, delicious, and cohesive meals with all the necessary components.  But when I cook, I am convinced I don’t have an eating disorder, that I have no problems with food, that I am just a fraud who spent years inside treatment centers for the attention and comfort that “being sick” brought me.  Then, I accidentally put more butter in the dish than I intended and I panic and feel like crying, and as the imaginary tears are streaming down my pathetic face, I realize that the eating disorder is real and the extra half tablespoon of butter developed, in that moment, the difference between life and death.

Butter makes things taste better.  I think butter can be added to almost anything and it taste better.  I use butter all the time now.  I used to never touch it.

Butter is the visual representation of everything I hate about food. Dense. Thick. Fat. Tokyo-scattered-likes-bees-on-wind-1024x687Unpredictable and yet necessary. I don’t want to touch it or think about it let alone consume it.

Butter is a just like my mind.  A slimy blend of solid and liquid that seeps into everything it comes in contact with.

It is midnight and I curl up into a ball on my big fluffy bed.  I feel like I am six years old as I am unsure about whether it is safe to close my eyes.  I want my mom to sing me to sleep and promise me that the butter won’t come and visit me in my dreams tonight.

I zoom out and look at myself.  The pathetic little ball in her big bed, clutching a pile of stuffed animals. The mess of melted butter, drying on the black kitchen counter-tops. A ball of fears and uncertainties, of regrets and irrationality.  I zoom out more and more until I am just a speck and the butter is microscopic.  That is reality.

The universe is so big and I am so small…

…I think I am going to sleep….people-300

 

…For once I am going to close my eyes…

…But I can’t.