Will The Pain Ever End?

*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about suicidal ideation and mood disorders, and may be triggering for some readers.
If you are struggling, please reach out to someone. 800-273-8255

Hi there! I hope you’re safe & well. Have you been taking care of yourself? I hope you have. You’re worth it ❤

This month is Suicide Prevention Month, so I thought I’d write a short post in honor of it.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, the 2nd leading cause for people between 10-34 years old.

This doesn’t, can’t possibly, account for the number of people struggling with suicidal ideation. Because for every reported case, I can only imagine how many go unspoken.

How many people sit with their darkness instead of reaching out, because they’re afraid to burden others with their pain.

Afraid of the repercussions.

Afraid of the stigma.

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I think a lot of us can attest to how hard isolation has been on us as well.

It’s the responsible thing to do in light of the pandemic, but it can be so difficult for individuals who were already struggling with mental health.

A lot of people I’ve spoken with have said their mood has been lower than usual, and I can totally understand that!

Frankly, my mood has been pretty low as well.

That’s not so much because of isolation, as I’ve been struggling with my mood for many years now, but it certainly didn’t help to feel so alone, so separate from family and friends.

I’m not going to dive deep into my story and give you any ugly details. Partly because it’s private, but also because I want to show you the light, not how deep the darkness can go.

All I’ll say is that, over the course of my life, I have practiced self harm as a (very unhealthy) means of coping with emotions and situations that felt out of my control. I have had suicidal thoughts, as well as failed attempts.

I have made more calls and chats to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline than I can count.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: You’re not alone.

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These feelings you have, the darkness that seems to envelope you, the burden you carry…. I feel that too.

It’s not the same.

Your struggle is your own.

Your story is unique.

Your burdens may be heavier, or they may be lighter, or maybe our burden is the exact same, but that really doesn’t matter.

Because the reality is, however heavy it feels, however easier someone else’s burden may seem to you, it’s heavy for the bearer.

Too heavy.

And sometimes those thoughts start to creep in.

Maybe it would be easier if…
It would hurt so much less if…
I just want ______ to stop…
No one would really care if…

But people would care.

Lots of people.

The dark cloud looming over you makes you feel alone. Worthless. A burden. Like no one would mind if you just weren’t here anymore.

But that is NOT TRUE!

You have value.
You are worthwhile.
You are good.
You are worth the effort it takes to love you.

And more than that, you’re not done yet! You have stories to tell.

And you can’t tell them if you’re not here.

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Once upon a time, more than once truthfully, I dove headfirst into the Deep Dark.

I felt so alone.

I wanted it to be over.

I didn’t want to do it anymore.

It. This. Life. Pain. Fear. Sadness. The abyss that lies within my head.

So I asked myself what would happen. What would happen if I wasn’t here anymore?

The truth didn’t come to me immediately. It took time and self-care. Love from the people close to me and love from myself.

And therapy. Like… a lot of therapy.

The truth I have come to is this:

If I wasn’t on this Earth anymore…
My family would be devastated.
I would never travel the world like I want to.
I would never read another book.
I would never again dance in the rain.
I would never again sip coffee by the fire.
I would never again kiss my husband.
I would never again jump on the trampoline with my nephews.
I would never have children.
I would never publish any books.
I would never write another word.
I would never get to help anyone out of their darkness.

You have reasons too. Sometimes they just become clouded by the dark thoughts taking over your mind.

I dare you to make a list of reasons why you’re worthwhile. A list of reasons you want to live.

Yes, there is a lot of bad in this world. But there’s a whole lot of good too! Don’t miss out on all the wonderful things in store for you.

Don’t let the darkness win.

You are stronger than the weight you carry.

And you never know how many lives you could have touched, never know how many people could be pulled out of their darkness by hearing how you survived yours.

I know sometimes you feel so alone. Like no one in the world cares about you.

But that’s the Darkness talking. And it’s a lie.

There are people in this world who love you. Who would be devastated to know you are struggling all by yourself.

It took a lot for me to reach out. To ask for help.

But I’m so glad I did.

I got into therapy. I learned how to take care of myself, body and mind.

It took work, and I still have hard days, but what’s important is that I always come out on the other side of it. I have things to live for. Things I want to see and do and experience.

I learned how worthwhile I am.

I learned how to love myself.

And so can you.

There are people in this world who need to hear your story. Need to know that you made it, and so can they.

You have stories to tell.

And people want to hear them.

I want to hear them.

Sending love,

MK

This boi is so dang tired of the sad! He just wants everyone to be happy and eat treats and throw tennis balls for him.

My Mental Health Does Not Make Me The Problem

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about mental health and messages of shame and feeling alone. Reader discretion is advised.
Please reach out to someone if you need help.

Hi there, how is your week going? I hope you did something this week that was just for you. Something that put a smile on your face. ❤

I read a book instead of getting some work done. And I’m not cooking tonight. Nothing puts a smile on my face like takeout.

Today, I wanted to touch on some messages that have weaseled their way into my mind time and time again over the years.

-Everything is my fault, because I’m neurodivergent.
-If I didn’t have depression, we would be happy.
-If I didn’t have anxiety, we wouldn’t fight.
-If I was just normal, my relationships would be good.

These thoughts don’t just come from me.

They have come from parents, doctors, counselors, friends, family.

Sometimes explicitly: “That’s probably just the depression talking. It’s all in your head.”

Sometimes more implied: “Are you sure that’s what happened?” Then they go into how I might be looking at things in a negative light.

WHICH TOTALLY HAPPENS

But that doesn’t mean I’m making up my feelings…

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My feelings are valid. The way that I feel comes from somewhere.

For my neurotypical readers, I’d like to put this into perspective.

Saying it’s probably just my depression, that it’s not really like that, is like saying “Oh, you’re just on your period.”

First of all, I’m triggered as heck just thinking about this statement.

Second, my period may influence my mood, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling those feelings. They may not seem all that important to you, but they feel very big to me.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, it could be like when you’re at work and you suggest something, but get dismissed because “You should leave it to the higher-ups.” Your position at work doesn’t make your opinion any less valid. People who dismiss you for that reason are disrespecting you.

Everyone deserves to be heard.

I have a hard time with this in my interpersonal relationships. Family and friends may do something or say something, and I’m left reeling.

But they just say I shouldn’t feel that way.

If you weren’t depressed you wouldn’t think that.”

Maybe…

But it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Because I am feeling it. This is very real to me. And as someone who claims to care for me, that should matter to you.

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The worst part about this scenario?

I have heard these messages for so long, the words don’t even have to be spoken. I can hear them in my head. I see it in your eyes, your body language. The way you laugh and shake your head when I finish speaking. The way you turn away and leave me to deal with these feelings on my own.

Sometimes it’s not even other people…

The messages spiral out of control in my brain and I find myself shaming my brain chemistry, something I don’t have much control over.

There are drugs. Therapy. Doctors. Essential oil crazy ladies coming out of the woodwork.

But the thing about brain chemistry is that it’s unique to everyone.

Some people benefit so much from drugs. They find balance in life and finally get to feel healthy again.

That’s not what happened for me.

But I found that out by trying, not by simply saying they wouldn’t work. So if you’re struggling, please talk to a doctor. There are so many avenues you can take. Find what works for you.

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The ugly self-depreciating messages became so ingrained in my mind that, even when people were listening to me, I would assume they were going to disregard me.

I would interpret body language and facial expressions for what they had sometimes meant in the past, instead of learning what they mean now.

After a while, I stopped reaching out.

Why would I, when no one will validate me anyway? When my feelings will be dismissed?

Why would I reach out when I don’t know if you’ll catch me?

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When I retreated inward, I started to blame myself.

Maybe if I wasn’t like this, my relationships would be better. Easier.

Maybe if I wasn’t depressed, my relationships would be happy.

Maybe if I didn’t have anxiety, we would fight less.

Maybe all the problems, with my friends, my family, etc… Maybe it’s because of me.

After all, what’s the common denominator here?

That’s what I would tell myself. And the funny thing about the human brain is, the more you say something, the more you’ll start to believe it.

This is something I’ve had to work on.

It took a lot of self-reflection. A lot of comparing facts and feelings, finding the truth that lies beneath. A lot of talk therapy. A lot of my DBT Skills book.

A lot of forcing myself to be vulnerable and reach out, even though that’s the scariest thing in the world to me.

And if they don’t… you’re strong enough to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and say next time will be better.

Because, eventually, it will be.

That’s just math, folks. Statistically, if you reach out out to people, someone will eventually reach back.

If you keep letting the cycle of ugly messages get you down, you are letting them win. You are shrinking inwards when you could be growing.

I won’t lie to you, it’s not always easy.

I’ve really struggled with it.

I still struggle with it.

It’s scary.

But when you find someone who meets you where you are, who takes your hand and walks with you through the dark, there’s nothing like that feeling.

It’s ok to lean on someone.

It’s ok to ask for help.

It’s ok not to be ok.

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You are learning to live with your unique brain chemistry.

I am too.

We’re not experts. Sometimes we mess up.

But we will never have the chance to grow, to get better, if we’re not willing to take the risk of putting ourselves out there.

That’s what life is all about.

Testing your limits.

Getting out of your comfort zone.

So what if your comfort zone is a bit smaller than the average bear?

You’re doing the best you can, and in that, we are the same.

I understand you.

And I’m really freakin’ proud of how far you’ve come, and how far you will go.

Sending love,

MK

Mah boi here says he hears you and thinks your feelings are valid. And if you reach out, he will most definitely lick your face. Right after he finishes licking his butt.

How to Stop Letting Others Control Your Mood

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Hi there, I hope you’re doing well. Taking care of myself has always been a struggle for me, but I’ve been making an effort, and I hope you are too ❤

Do you ever find your mood swinging up and down based on the behavior of others? Your friend makes a joke about you and you become sad, dejected. Depression kicks in again and you disconnect from people for fear of what they might say next. Or maybe you and your partner are getting along really well right now, and you feel like you’re floating on air. Your mood is elevated, there’s a true smile on your face, and you feel like you can conquer anything that comes your way.

The problem with hinging your mood on the behavior of others is that, inevitably, people will fail you. I don’t say this to be cynical, or cruel, but just to be real. Humans are selfish by nature. We fail by nature. We say or do the wrong thing, despite our best intentions. Your friend will say something you don’t like one day. I guarantee it. You and your partner will inevitably have a disagreement.

This is normal.

The scary thing is when your mood sways up and down with them.

Sometimes, I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own body. I was a little boat and my emotions were the sea. I never knew what kind of waters I would encounter next. A still, turquoise sea, sunshine reflecting off its surface… or rough waves that threatened to swallow me whole.

The storm of life. Boat on the ocean. Sunny sky. Storm. Overwhelming emotions. turbulent.
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I knew I needed to take back control, but how?

Well, emotions aren’t really something you can control. You can’t tell yourself to stop feeling upset when you and your partner have a fight any more than you can tell yourself to stop being happy when they bring you flowers or kiss your cheek.

Emotions are real, and they matter. They can be overwhelming, but like the sea, if you learn how to navigate them, they are a lot less daunting.

But how?

The first thing I did when learning to navigate my own emotions was to develop coping mechanisms that could help when the waters started to get choppy.

Argument with a friend? Do some deep breathing.
My partner says something that hurts my feelings? Use positive coping thoughts like “this feeling will pass”.
Work is stressful and my boss is a jerk? Imagine my thoughts and feelings are a balloon floating away on the breeze.

There are lots of ways to cope with stressful situations, these are just a few examples that work for me. I suggest seeking out some positive coping mechanisms that work for you. I found these and many more in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. Check it out if you’re needing some help in this area.

Once I had some coping mechanisms under my belt for in-the-moment feels, I brought the focus back to my whole self. I sought contentment within myself.

What makes me feel happy? Well, I like reading and writing. Also baking and watching Disney movies.

What are some things I can do to seek contentment when I feel down? I could read a book or watch a Disney movie. Sometimes I’ll even have a movie picked out for the next time my mood is down. I’ve found this really helpful because the times when I really need the mindless joy of a funny movie, I have no motivation or desire to pick one out. Up next is Tangled 😉

I also thought about some things that made me feel unhappy. Not just generals like “when me and my partner fight” or “when my friend says something mean” but specifics.

Examples:

I need to feel validated by my partner. When I don’t, I feel sad and unimportant. How do I combat this? Well… I told my partner. Simple, right?

Actually no… not for me. I spent a lot of my life being invalidated by others and being punished when I shared my feelings. Opening up has never been an easy thing for me. But I forced myself to. I shook, I held back tears, I was ready to run.

And do you know what happend?

My partner said he would try harder to validate my feelings and gave me a hug.

That’s it.

I felt a little silly for being so scared.

And I’m so glad I told him, because not only did I gain something that I needed, but we grew closer because of my willingness to be vulnerable.

What’s another thing that makes me unhappy? Well, when people make negative comments about things I can’t really change (my body, my personality, etc.) I feel unloved and worthless.

How do I combat this? Just like with my partner, I told my friend who was doing this to me how I felt.

How did that work out?

Not well… they told me that what they said was perfectly reasonable and that I shouldn’t be so sensitive.

Not great, right?

But the thing is, now I know where I stand. That is not a person I can be vulnerable with. And their apologies may not bring me comfort in the future.

And later, when they realized I had pulled away, they actually came back and apologized. A true apology.

It may not always work out the way you hope it will, but it will always work out how it should.

That brings me to the third thing I did, which involved a technique called Radical Acceptance. I learned about it in the DBT Skills book and it has helped me SO MUCH.

I will do another post on this, but to make a long story short, radical acceptance is all about accepting situations for what they are, instead of what you wish they were.

Real life example:

I’m driving to work and I get stuck in traffic. It sucks. I’m feeling frustrated and stressed. I’m concerned about making it to work on time. My feelings of failure are cropping up. I’m starting to use phrases like “I’m such an idiot” and “Why do I always do this?”

But I’m not going to let myself go there. Why? Because I’m practicing Radical Acceptance. I’m stuck in traffic, yes. I’m late. Yes, it sucks. I feel frustrated, and that’s real. But that’s just where I’m at right now, and worrying won’t solve it. I breathe in, I breathe out. I think back to my coping mechanisms, I stuff my feelings of stress and frustration into a balloon, I open my car window, and I watch it fly away.

Let it go, Elsa.

Letting go. Acceptance. Radical Acceptance. Meditation. Self help.
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It’s easier said than done, I know. But I can honestly say that I have used this technique time and time again. And you know what? It helps. I genuinely feel lighter when I watch those feelings float away.

So why do these techniques help me to control my own mood?

It helps me find peace. It’s that simple.

You can’t shake a tree whose roots are deep.

I find contentment inside myself. Other things can bring me happiness or sadness, but my soul finds contentment and peace of its own accord.

I set the temperature for my mood. I am in control.

Frankly, sometimes I still mess up. The threads slip, and I scramble to regain the control I had.

It happens.

This does not make you a failure, it makes you a student of your mind.

The important thing is that we keep trying. That we keep reminding ourselves who is in charge.

I set the temperature.
The wind and the rain may come, but I steer this boat.

So, keep trying. Keep reminding yourself you are in charge. YOU set the temperature. The wind and the rain may come, but you steer your boat.

I hope that you find some peace within yourself. A warm spot inside your soul that you can call home.

I would love to hear your story. Let me know in the comments below what coping mechanisms you use, and how you find peace within yourself.

We’re all on the same team here, and I would love to lift you up.

Sending love,

MK

This boi says he finds inner peace by skipping other players. Or making them draw 4.