*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.
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.
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.
Standing up for myself, while staying true to my moral standards of kindness and respect.
Boundaries can be stated in a kind and healthy way.
This is something I was unsuccessful with at first.
I swung in the opposite direction and sometimes came off as rude or aggressive.
Also, people were so used to me “just being nice” that my new outlook rubbed some people the wrong way.
Especially people who were used to using my doormat-ish tendencies to their advantage.
That sounds gross, and manipulative, but it’s true. Honestly, everyone uses “too-nice people” to their advantage every now and then. We’re human. We err.
It’s been quite the learning curve, to watch who accepts and who rejects my boundaries.
It says a lot about what I mean to the people close to me.
For example, I recently told someone close to me that driving causes me a lot of anxiety. I asked them to give a little more space from the car in front of us, just while I’m in the car.
They listened, and they changed their behavior to make sure I felt safe.
Here’s another example:
A while ago, I asked someone close to me to be respectful towards myself and my husband.
They refused, then took steps to cut me out of their life.
It was shocking.
I had not expected them to run from my life after such a simple request.
It’s been a couple years and we’re still not speaking. And honestly? I’m ok with that.
I know how important I am to that person now, and I’m not interested in cultivating a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in respecting me.
Yeah, it sucked. But I’m better off knowing the truth than continuing on thinking they care about me when they really don’t.
Nowadays, I’m doing more to set boundaries.
I’m saying no. It’s become my favorite word.
I’ve learned that downtime is a good enough reason not to make it to every event.
I don’t have to hurt myself to make others happy.
My mental health is a priority.
But how do you go about setting boundaries, when standing up for yourself seems so scary?
The first thing you should ask yourself is what is important to you?
For me, I value kindness and respect pretty highly.
People are important to me.
My mental health.
Then you ask yourself what you need.
I need to feel valued by my loved ones – wanted and important.
I need hugs and affection from the people closest to me.
I need kind words and compassion from those whom I consider friends. (I don’t like to be touched, which is why my needs differ from friends and family, to close friends and close family. This is a boundary I’m still working on establishing with people.)
Then you ask yourself what is not ok with you.
I’m not ok with unkindness or disrespect, in any form.
I’m not ok with physical touch, except from those closest to me.
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself “What am I feeling right now?”
Get to the root of your emotion.
I’m going to use a specific example for the sake of your ease of reading. But you can apply this to whatever you’re going through.
A coworker said something negative about your recent performance. You feel angry. When you look inward (later, when you have the time and privacy to dig into your emotions) you realize your anger was actually stemming from hurt and disappointment with yourself. You accept that, yes, you are hurt. Yes, you are disappointed in your recent performance, as well. Maybe you feel embarrassed they called you out. You give yourself space to feel those feelings. Then you develop a game plan for how you will deal with work tomorrow.
That anger you felt may have been overwhelming.
You may have been seething all day.
But by looking inward, you found that your anger was actually some other, more vulnerable, emotions putting on a brave face.
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*Trigger Warning* This post deals with depression and negative self-talk, and may be triggering for some readers.
Hi there, I hope you’re doing well! Are you taking care of yourself? Maybe it’s time to do a check-in. How’s your body feeling? How’s your mind feeling? Don’t be afraid to give yourself some grace. ❤
My mental health took a dip recently.
More often than I’d like.
Sometimes I feel kinda up and down. I’m doing fine, then something switches and the tide pulls me under.
I thought I’d share some feelings I was marinating on while trying to get out of my funk.
I was talking with my therapist recently (if you don’t have one and you are struggling with your mood, please find one, they can be really helpful). She was checking my negativity.
She’s very sneaky about it. She watches me spiral, lets me get it all out, then says “Was there anything good about it?” or something of that nature.
It kinda makes me stop and think.
Yes there were negatives.
We’re not going to ignore any feelings here.
But if we’re going to spend so much time thinking about the bad, let’s not forget the good.
So my recent mood swing… I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure why my mood dips.
But it did, and I found myself coming up with all the reasons my life sucks.
Hardship in my relationships with friends and family. Work has been rough. Writing is not going super great right now. My mental health seems to keep getting kicked down, despite my best efforts to even out.
Then I really start spiraling.
I feel discouraged. I feel alone. I’m not good at anything. I just suck.
It can be so easy to get trapped in the negativity spiral. It’s like the thoughts have a mind of their own.
One minute I’m recounting things that happened, that are in fact negative… Then next thing I know, I hate myself and my life is awful.
It can get out of control really quickly.
So how do you fix it?
I think the hardest part is recognizing what you’re doing.
You have to take a good, long look at yourself and say, “Is all of this really that bad, or am I in a negative spiral?”
I’m not saying things in your life aren’t bad.
We all have stuff we have to deal with.
Stuff we wish we could just drop and leave behind us.
But that’s not how life works.
So what I’m asking you to do is use Radical Acceptance like I talked about in this post, then ask yourself: “Is everything truly awful, or am I letting the negativity take over?”
Say you have an arguement with your partner.
Arguments/disagreements/fights (whatever you call them) suck, but they happen in every healthy relationship.
You’re human. It’s not possible for two imperfect people to perfectly agree on everything all the time.
So you have this argument, and instead of leaving it where it is, you begin to spiral.
We had an argument. My relationship is awful. I’m not a good partner. They don’t like me. I’m a burden. I don’t like me.
But instead of letting the spiral continue, you take a pause.
You use Radical Acceptance.
You say, “We had an argument. That sucks. I feel sad.”
Then you stop the spiral before it takes root.
The ugly thing about thoughts is that if you say them enough in your head, you start to believe them.
So if you spiral and reach the self-doubt stage, those words you say to yourself are words that take root in your heart.
I’m a burden. No one likes me. I don’t like me.
At first they’re just words, but if you keep saying them enough, they will become your reality. You will honestly believe that you are a burden, no one likes you. And you will actually begin to not like yourself.
Don’t go there.
Because you are not a burden. You are worth the effort.
People do like you. You have friends. Family. That partner you just had an argument with. They stick around because they like you, not because you have somehow tricked them into it.
Not liking yourself can be a real feeling that is so hard to pull yourself out of. You run down that hill without a care in the world, but the trek back is quite the climb.
So don’t go there. And if you are there, go look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself. It sounds stupid, but like I said, the more you say something, the more you believe it.
Before you go any further down the negative spiral, take a breath. Say to yourself, “You are spiraling. You need to stop before this goes any further.”
Am I asking you not to feel your feelings? No. Not at all.
Your feelings are real and valid. But these thoughts are cropping up because of your feelings, and they are not always true.
Negativity leads to more negativity, so you have to stop before you go too far.
If you continue down the negative spiral in the name of “Feeling your feelings” you’re fooling yourself. This is not helpful. You are punishing yourself by piling on more and more ugly thoughts.
So take a breath. Pause. Say “no” to the ugly thoughts. Do not allow any more to pass through your mind.
So now you’ve stopped the spiral. Yay You!
But there’s still a little ways to go.
Don’t worry, you’ve already finished the hard part.
But it can be easy to slip back into the negativity, so you have to run in the opposite direction.
You feel pulled toward these negative thoughts, so instead you should seek out positive thoughts.
Let’s start with some opposites to the ugly thoughts that cropped up before.
We did have an argument, but that’s normal in a healthy relationship, and we’re stronger than this fight. My relationship has more good days than bad. I am a good partner. My partner cares about me. I’m worth time and effort. I love myself.
Then take it a little further.
What are some redeemable qualities about the relationship? What is something good that happened recently? What is something you love about yourself? What is something you love about your life? Name 2 things that bring you joy. Name 3 things you have done that make you proud.
These are just examples, and I encourage you to find whatever works for you.
Just like negative attracts more negative, positive will attract more positive.
Feel your feelings, but don’t let yourself spiral.
You can still acknowledge that something sucked and you’re sad without going down that ugly road.
You’re worth the effort, so don’t let yourself go there.
I know the sadness can be intoxicating sometimes.
Like you’re so angry with yourself that you deserve to feel this pain. So you list all the reasons why.
But you don’t deserve it. There is a child inside you who lacked something growing up, but didn’t have the capacity to fill that void.
You’re grown up now, but you still have to raise that child inside you.
If a 6 year old was sitting next to you, saying all these ugly things, you would stop them. You would tell them how wonderful they are and that things will be brighter soon.
Maybe you should use some of that kindness for yourself too.
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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…
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.”
But it doesn’t matter.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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Hi there, I hope you did something just for you today ❤ Practicing self care is important, even if others like to call it selfishness. It’s not, you’re just taking care of you. So read a book. Watch a move. Eat ice cream. Do something that brings you joy. You deserve it!
Today I’d like to share about the technique called Radical Acceptance. I learned about it in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. I’ve mentioned this book a few times now, so if you’ve been following along, you can probably tell I like it. A lot.
In truth, I’ve been dealing with some big things. Mental health has always been a struggle for me, and as an adult I’m having to learn things children are usually taught. Emotion regulation. Coping mechanisms. The fact that it’s ok to feel my feelings. Being vulnerable. Self Care. The list goes on.
So what is Radical Acceptance? Basically, it’s when you accept a situation for what it is.
One thing that throws a wrench in this is judgement.
Judgement can have a negative connotation, but it’s actually just coming to a conclusion or making a decision about something.
That person is rude. That sweater is pretty. That man is ugly. That woman is attractive.
The main piece of Radical Acceptance is letting go of these judgements. Letting go of labeling a situation as good or bad, and instead accepting that it just is.
Our examples from before could evolve in our mind to leave either a negative or positive imprint.
That person is rude, and that’s bad. That sweater is pretty, and that’s good. That man is ugly, and that’s bad. That woman is attractive, and that’s good.
Radical Acceptance encourages you to let go of these judgements. To see situations for what they are, then let go of any feelings that crop up. To not seek out whether something is negative or positive, but to simply give it a nod, and move on with our day.
Sounds great, right? But you’ve been making judgements for as long as you could form coherent thought. So where the heck do you start?
One way to start is to take note of how many judgements you make in a day. I actually wrote my judgements down for two days, then went back to see what I had written.
I realized I spent a lot of time labeling things as good or bad, positive or negative. That time, when I could have been living my life, was totally wasted to judgement!
And the worst part? Once I started down a path of judgement, I tended to keep on judging.
I don’t like this sweater. I don’t like any of my clothes. I’ve gained a lot of weight recently. I’m not attractive. I’m worthless.
See how it can spiral?
What if when I made the judgement “I don’t like this sweater” I simply gave it a nod and moved on?
Yep, I don’t like this sweater. That’s true.
How much more peaceful does that sound?
But sometimes it’s harder to stop that spiral than to simply smile and nod. Sometimes you need to employ a coping mechanism.
What does this look like?
You’re running late for an event. You are feeling stressed. You say to yourself “My partner always makes us late”.
By doing this, you are labeling your partner as a tardy person, possibly implying a lack of respect for the time of others. This stirs up feelings of anger, then old wounds start cropping up.
My partner made us late today. My partner was also late to that dinner with my family. My partner doesn’t care about other people’s time. My partner is just a disrespectful person. My partner doesn’t care how I feel.
Wow, that escalated quickly…
What can you do when the emotions are intense and you’ve already fallen down the rabbit hole of judgement?
Well, you can choose to crawl back out.
It’s honestly that simple.
My partner does care how I feel. My partner is not a disrespectful person. Yes, my partner was late to dinner with my family, but there’s not much you can do when work runs late. And they were pretty stressed that day. My partner was not the only person running late today, I could have helped them get ready or reminded them of the time sooner.
See how we climbed back out? You’ve reversed the negativity and reminded yourself of reality.
Now, you can accept it.
You’re late. You’re never going to be not late because you were pissed about it. So why not show up late holding your partner’s hand, as opposed to slamming doors and glaring at them across the room?
Accept the situation for what it is, and move on.
Breathe in, breathe out.
That brings us to another key piece of Radical Acceptence: accepting the role you played in the situation.
I know, I know. It’s not fun to think about. Trust me, it’s my least favorite part too. But bear with me, because it’s important.
Let’s circle back to the situation where you and your partner were running late to an event.
I hate being late. I get so stressed out. My anxiety goes through the roof and steam practically shoots out of my ears. It’s not fun – for me or the people around me.
So I employ my coping mechanisms. Some deep breathing, some balloons full of stress and frustration floating away on the breeze. Then I get to Radical Acceptance.
Yep, I’m late. That is a fact.
Now I need to accept that my partner is not the only one who is late today. Yeesh, I know. IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT THOUGH!
But is it?
We had to leave by noon to be on time. I started getting ready at 11 am, which would have been enough time for me. I noticed my partner was still scrolling through the black hole of YouTube, but I decided not to remind them of the time because I’m not their mother. They started getting ready with 10 minutes to spare, and I began to seethe. They always do this, I say to myself. We left 20 minutes later than we should have, and I felt angry and like my partner did not care about our plans.
Now, using Radical Acceptance, I will take a look at both of our behaviors.
My partner made an irresponsible decision with time management. I failed to communicate with my partner that we were getting short on time. I failed to communicate how I felt when they were late.
Now, let’s take a breath here. This is not to say that you are responsible for your partner’s behavior. You’re not. You are only responsible for your behavior. But, at the end of the day, there are things you could have done differently in order to avoid tardiness, or maybe to avoid bitter feelings between the two of you.
It takes two to have an argument. It also takes two to avoid one.
Radical Acceptance says not to dwell on the what-ifs, but lets just take a detour here…
What if you had told your partner they were running short on time?
Well, they may have thanked you for the reminder and started getting ready. You might have been on time…
Or they may have gotten annoyed at your “mothering” and you would have still been late.
Either way, you did your due diligence. You behaved the best you could.
Now let’s look at the other piece: you lack of communication about your feelings. It is your responsibility as a romantic partner to communicate your feelings. Whether you feel comfortable or not is another story, and one you should broach with your partner or with a trained counselor or therapist.
Your job as a partner is to communicate your feelings, because how else will your partner know when you’re upset?
They’re not psychic, no matter how much you wish them to be.
So, what if you had said, “Hey babe, when you are late, I tend to feel stressed, and sometimes I get angry with you because I feel like you don’t care about my feelings on timeliness.”
Maybe your partner would have heard you, and would have apologized about their tardiness, and for hurting your feelings. Maybe you would have been late, but walked into that event hand-in-hand.
Or maybe they would not have validated your feelings. Which would suck. But then you would use Radical Acceptance to think, yep they didn’t validate my feelings, and that makes me feel sad.
You can then use that knowledge to make informed decisions about the longevity of your relationship.
I suggest counseling if this is the norm. An outside perspective can really work wonders when you’re in the thick of it.
So now that you’ve learned to accept your responsibility in a situation, as well as your partners, you can accept reality for what it is.
You’re late. Nothing’s going to change that now.
Radical Acceptance allows you to separate your feelings from fact.
Feelings are real, and you should not ignore them. But sometimes they paint a different picture than reality.
Think back to the sweater example. Feelings spiraled out of control and you ended up having some serious hate for your body, when it all started out as not liking a sweater.
So I encourage you to weigh your feelings against fact. Is what you’re feeling really an accurate depiction of reality?
And when you’re in a situation, good or bad, just give it a nod.
Enjoy the feelings of happiness and satisfaction that come along with some situations.
Understand the feelings of sadness or frustration that come along with other situations.
Acknowledge them, and move on with your life.
Seek contentment within yourself, like I mention in this article.
I’d like to mention that part of Radical Acceptance and learning to let go of judgement also means not judging yourself.
You are going to fail sometimes, especially when you first start trying this technique. Judging yourself for making a judgement is the opposite of helpful.
So be kind to yourself.
Acknowledge when you’ve made a judgement, and move on.
If you feel frustrated with your progress or disappointed when you make a judgement of someone, give that feeling a nod, and let it go.
Dwelling on judgements of yourself is no more healthy than dwelling on your judgements of others (or situations). Actually, it kinda defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.
Whatever you do, try not to let your emotions consume you. Feelings come and go like a tide. Make sure that when the tide passes, you have behaved in a way you can feel proud of.
Do your best. That’s all anyone can do.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn about situations where you practiced Radical Acceptance in the comments below. Even situations where you totally failed! This is a learning process and we’re here to support each other.