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Community Blog

Hindered

By | Community Blog

Hindered

The sky was layered in a thick blanket of billowing mass.

The world surrounding was concealed in a lonely blackness.
The moon, saddened by its silencing.

Utter darkness.

Not the type of dark that comes
When the moon rises
And the sun elegantly creeps away.
The type of dark that intertwines with the grass,
the shivering branches,
And the very air intoxicating a perky lung.

This heavy mass, inky black,
The deep corner of a gloomy junkyard
And I was the rusting locket
Long lost and buried in the chaos of fading memories.

Once mocking, the stars lingering in the heavens
Hindered.
Like a wild candle light
Smothered and suffocated under a bushel.
Their  unwavering bliss and streak of danger
Deafened.
As if the lungs of the glowing balls of fire
Violently gasping for breath,
Were my own.

I was the army of angered luminosity,
illuminating the limitation of Earth
And I was the darkness smoldering over their being
I was the light fighting to be seen
And I was the thick mustering cloud
stubbornly adhering

I was the moon
And I was the sun.
I was the stars
And I was the clouds.

I was my own darkness
And I was my own light.

-Haylee R. Curry

 

There is always hope, and we’re here for you. Reach out, get help. 
Our 24-hour crisis line is available 7 days/week at 970.252.6220 or 844.493.8255
Colorado Crisis Services
Center for Mental Health Crisis Services

Unspoken

The Unspoken, by Brianna Parcell

By | Community Blog, Featured, Guest Blog

The Unspoken
A real and relatable description of the unspoken pain within

People think depression is sadness. People think depression is crying. People think depression is being “emo” or dressing in black and being a moody loner. But people are wrong. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions, being numb to change, and the world around you. Being blind to everything that is beautiful, important, and unique about you. You feel nothing, and everything is gone, but the emptiness still feels heavy, and the silence is too loud.

Even the simplest tasks become painful, and things that used to bring you joy are worthless. You begin to lack motivation because why would you keep on trying if it means nothing? When you start to believe that life won’t go on for you, you suddenly stop caring for yourself. Sometimes the most joyful and confident looking people are hurting the most. You wake up in the morning and just want to go back to bed, but then once you try to sleep the thoughts keep you awake, and you lay for hours either crying or staring at the ceiling, leaving you feeling empty. The emotional distress of this state tires you physically. Everybody just pushes away the uncomfortable conversation of how you are doing because they only want to think about your future. But how am I suppose to worry about a future if I don’t know for sure that I will even survive through tonight?

Days don’t feel meaningful; they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced. And how do you face them? Through medication, through doubt, through drinking, through drugs, through cutting. Self-harm is a way of expressing your self-shame on your own body; almost like punishing yourself for being this way. While it can simultaneously release all of the pain that builds up inside from the external and internal hate. It can be a punishment, while it also makes you feel better and begins to cradle and comfort you in these times. Every cut lets out all of the tears and pain that build up in your throat making you unable to breathe or think. Then there is one cut that goes too deep, and maybe you weren’t ready, or perhaps you let it happen, and you are free from the fight. Words always hurt, and we have scars to prove it. But then you feel like you cannot hide your story when it is carved into your body and engraved into your skin, so the whole world knows, “oh, watch out, she is unstable, and she must be a sad girl.”

When you’re depressed, you grasp onto anything that can get you through the days, which are filled with the words “slut” “dumb” and “ugly,” and to make it worse, the people saying this is who you thought were your friends and supporting peers. Then when you stand up for yourself, they brush it off saying it was a joke and that you are too sensitive. The vicious cycle of trying to be strong, getting shut down, and then feeling like the only way to cope is to take it out on yourself, never stops. When in this state of mind you feel as if you have a million people that you can tell, but not enough that listen. When they may be “listening” nobody knows what to say or how to respond to the heaviness. Why am I blaming myself for what you said? Well, you should have thought of that before you opened your mouth. The most interesting thing is that these days it is funny to tell people to kill themselves as a “joke.” Really? Are you serious? You are so funny! Take a trip to the hospital and tell the kids on the 6th floor with scars up their arms and liver damage your jokes.

Depression is like watering flowers that are already dead. Depression is like the rotting flesh hiding underneath the soft, pretty velvet. It is a suffering so profound it will never show; I’m dying, and they will never know until I’m lying 50 stories below all they are gonna have to say is “what a shame, she was so beautiful.” This is not a choice; it is a plague and a disease that has no at-home remedy. It is impossible just to flip a switch and be happy and see the world in color again, which is what most people that you open up to ask you to do, assuming it is that simple. That’s what depression is, not sadness or tears; it’s the overwhelming sense of numbness and insignificance through all aspects of life. The whole world seems like it hates you, and convinces you to hate yourself too.

Love,

Brianna Parcell

 

There is always hope. If you’re experiencing any of the feelings that Brianna wrote about, or any other mental health crisis, we’re here for you. Reach out, get help. 
Our 24-hour crisis line is available 7 days/week at 970.252.6220 or 844.493.8255
Colorado Crisis Services
Center for Mental Health Crisis Services

 

Anxiety

Changing Colors

By | Community Blog

As supple greens turn to mesmerizing golds, the changing of colors and seasons can also bring a change in people’s moods and emotions. Some look forward to autumn and welcome the cool weather with a smile and a cozy sweater. But for others, their pumpkin spiced beverages are topped with a sense of anxiety.

These anxious thoughts and feelings can arise from shorter days and longer lists of what needs to be accomplished. Or, a sense of loneliness may begin to build due to less time scheduled to see friends. Perhaps there is a realization of the ceasing time to go on summer adventures. Others may have an unwavering discomfort and distaste for change altogether. No matter what an individual’s reason may be, anxiety can begin to take its toll this time of year. It can be easy to miss the true bliss and beauty of the season.

To keep thoughts focused and controlled, try taking a moment to identify what and why something is triggering anxiety. In anxious ridden moments, acknowledge those feelings. However, be careful not to let the anxiety take control. Get to the root and face it head on. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a break and realize these thoughts and feelings are valid. Being anxious can be the body’s way of signaling that something may not be quite right. It is important to pay attention. Once the reasons become a little clearer behind why anxiety rears its head, it may allow for better preparedness the next time an attack begins.

If anxiety attacks become debilitating, perhaps reaching out to a professional or another trusted individual may help ease some of the suffering. Sometimes, it takes a little more than internal reflection to find a way to cope and overcome. It may be helpful and beneficial to speak about the anxiety. Saying the words out loud, even if it is difficult to identify the reason, could lead to some relief. This method may help in dealing with those anxious moments. With the help of another, there could be guidance and coping mechanisms which were not obvious alone.

The Take Away

The most important thing to remember is that support is available. Take a deep, steady breath. Be forgiving. Show patience to yourself and others during this beautiful, autumn season. Acknowledge thoughts and feelings to see if finding the root of anxious moments is possible – this may lead to an unforeseen solution. Reach out to a trusted individual if feelings of anxiety become overwhelming and incapacitating. Anxiety doesn’t have to be something someone must suffer alone. Even if anxiety is not personally familiar, there are sufferers all around. So it is important remember that a kind smile every season can make a difference.

Follow this link for additional help or for more information about services that are available www.centermh.org/services/

If you are interested in a self-screening regarding mental wellness, please follow this link www.centermh.org/services/self-screening/

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from a mental health crisis, please call 970.252.6220 or visit this link www.centermh.org/services/crisis/

Here’s to a happy and healthy autumn,

Ashley

Suicidal Thoughts

20 Things Suicidal People Wish They Could Tell You

By | Community Blog

Suicidal Thoughts

Having suicidal thoughts can be a scary and lonely experience, especially if you’re afraid of being honest with others about how you’re really feeling. But it’s important to talk about and get support for suicidal thoughts — even passive ones. Because although it’s scary, it shouldn’t be shameful, and it’s certainly not something we should hide.

To get a conversation started, we asked our mental health community to share with us one thing they wish others knew about their suicidal thoughts. For those of you who may be feeling this way, know you are not alone.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Just because I’m feeling suicidal doesn’t mean I’m planning to take my life. I just need help.” — Morgan S.

2. “Understand selfishness isn’t what drives those thoughts.” — Marjorie R.

3. “The difference between passive and active suicidal ideation… I don’t want to end my life, I just have moments where the exhaustion is too much.” — Erin N.

4. “The biggest misconception about suicidal thoughts is that people do it for attention.” — Melanie B.

5. “It’s not something I can just snap out of.” — Valerie R.

6. “I am not the boy who cried wolf. These thoughts and feelings are real each and every time.” — Stevie S.

7. “It hurts to feel this way, I don’t enjoy it.” — Olivia R.

8. “The thoughts exploit every weakness, every argument, even every triumph to make it something it shouldn’t be. The intrusive thoughts torment you until all you can think about is silencing them and that thought is quickly consumed by suicidal ideation.” — Abby W.

9. “It’s so much more common than people realize. Suicide doesn’t have a face. It can be anyone.” –Kellyn R

10. “What I truly want is to be saved — to not feel like suicide is the only option I have.” — Abi T.

11. “If we could use a switch to turn [off] the unwanted suicidal thoughts, we would.” — Natalie M.

12. “My thoughts aren’t caused by others. It’s not their fault.” — Wesley C.

13. “Suicidal thoughts aren’t [confined] to a specific time of when they start and end. [For me,] they are a constant feeling that never leaves.” — Emma J.

14. “ It’s not something I can control. The thoughts come from nowhere and are nearly impossible to will away.” — Christina L.

15. “ Just because I smile and laugh doesn’t mean my suicidal thoughts are me being silly… My smiling is for your benefit so you can’t see how much it’s hurting me to simply exist on a daily basis.” — Monica E.

16. “It’s not about dying, it’s about escaping the noise in my head at the time.” — Meghan B.

17. “I wish people knew that when I seem distracted or in my own world, I’m fighting an internal battle. Some days it takes every fiber of my being to keep going and a kind word can make all the difference.” — Sean H.

18. “Working through these thoughts and feelings is hard, be patient with me.” — Becky B.

19. “I’m torn between wanting to end the pain and not wanting to hurt my loved ones.” — Wade D.

20. “I wish others knew that sometimes these thoughts are just as scary and frustrating to me as they are to you.” — Jessica L.

By Juliette Virzi via https://themighty.com/2017/03/suicidal-thoughts-what-i-wish-i-could-tell-you/ 

Body Image

Dear Body, I’m Sorry

By | Community Blog

Body Image

For many years, my body image has been the main subject of my New Year’s resolutions. For me, this only ever led to disappointment and a sense of failure due to the impossible goals I held in my head and the ridiculous time frames I gave myself to achieve them.

Recently, I had a little personal revolution and decided I was worth more than being reduced to tears while looking in the mirror poking at bits of me that refused to shrink.

My one resolution this year is to continuously try and accept myself just the way I am. Living in a society that makes money from women’s lack of self-worth and insecurities doesn’t make it easy, but it’s a challenge I have accepted!

I decided to write apology letters to my body and here’s what I wrote:

Dear Tummy

Dear tummy, I am sorry for each time I ignored your empty grumbles and left you hungry. Sorry for prodding and poking you wishing you would shrink and for sucking you in with all the effort I could muster. I love you.

Dear bum, I am sorry for all those times I have hidden you away because I said you were “too big.” I love you.

Dear arms, I am sorry for every time I said I hated you and wished you were different. You give the best hugs. I love you.

Dear feet, I am sorry for ever complaining about how small you are. Sorry for declaring you must be the reason my balance is so appallingly bad. You are small but perfectly formed and you get me cheap shoes in the sale. I love you.

Dear skin, I am sorry for every time I cursed you because of a spot and for hurting you with a number of lotions and potions to try and get rid of said spot. I’m sorry for wishing you wouldn’t make my cheeks turn so red so easily. I love you.

Dear body, I am truly sorry for each and every time I have wished certain parts of you were different. Thank you for housing me regardless of my moaning. You are doing a good job and I don’t give you enough credit. You are perfect just the way you are.

By Ellyse Rafferty via https://themighty.com/2017/03/apology-letter-to-my-body/

Eating Disorder

A Letter to My Unbeloved Eating Disorder

By | Community Blog

The Reality of Eating Disorders

My unbeloved eating disorder,

When I first met you, I thought you were going to be my new best friend. I felt so strong and capable with you by my side. I thought I was completely in control. In a short matter of time we became closer and closer and I started to notice things weren’t as perfect as I had once believed. But you were quick to convince me I was overreacting, that everything was perfect, that everything would be perfect forever — as long as I stayed with you.

But you lied to me. I wasn’t overreacting. I was right. The control I found in you had now been completely taken by you. My original confidence faded as you hurled word after word of insult and hate at my thinning skin. I started to crumble, but I was far too late. You had me right where you wanted me.

All the while you were quick to deceive, somehow appearing immaculate in front of me. I could never get away from you because I felt like I was no one without you. You spoke for me, you acted for me, you became me. As much as I hated you, I also loved you. For all the things I saw you do to hurt, I somehow found many more that were meant to help. However, you took my control. You ruined my relationships. You destroyed my trust. And I couldn’t do anything but watch it all slip away.

But now, I see you for you. All your lies and covers can no longer disguise you. My eyes are cleared from the haze and I no longer want you. Instead, I want what you took. I want my friendships back. I want to be trusted and to trust. I want a life outside of pain, hurt, disgust and you. As cliche as it may sound, I want to love and be loved. I want to run — really run — until I feel my heart beating against my chest. And now I know I can have these. As hard as you tried to keep me down, I broke free and I see. I feel. I know who you really are and I don’t want you. I am leaving you behind. And just so you know, I am much happier without you. I am so much better. I’m more kind, more accepting, more loving. I can laugh and enjoy things. I am better because you no longer control me.

So I’m leaving you. I’m leaving you for so much more and I could not be more excited to see you off. It’s been too long that I’ve held on to you and admired you, but that time is over and I have a real life to live.

No longer yours,
Hannah

From: https://themighty.com/2017/03/breaking-up-with-eating-disorder/ Photo from contributor

24 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because of Your Social Anxiety

By | Community Blog

Social Anxiety

When people think of social anxiety, many imagine a shy introvert who doesn’t go out and doesn’t say much. While this version of social anxiety exists, living with it is more than just being “shy.” In fact, not everyone who has social anxiety is even quiet. Social anxiety manifests itself in many ways, some which might even surprise you.

To find out some of the different ways people are affected by social anxiety, we asked people in our community to share something they do because of their social anxiety that others might not realize.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Most people think I’m being rude when I’m not talkative in a group of people. In reality, I’m terrified because my mind constantly tells me I’ll say the wrong thing.” — Maegan B.

2. “I’m constantly glued to my phone. It’s just an excuse to not look directly at anybody! Constantly going over a sentence I want to say about 30 times in my head, then realizing it’s no longer relevant!” — Grace D.

3. “Being quiet – I’d rather listen to a conversation than be in one. I feel like whatever comes out of my mouth may seem stupid.” — Juliana G.

4. “Talking fast, rambling and joking around even though really I’ve zoned out and I’m pretty much not there… I run on autopilot and later when I’ve grounded again I go through and recollect what I’ve said or done… a bit like after being drunk! Of course I joke and talk fast anyway so nobody can tell the difference, including me usually until after I’ve come out of the fog.” — Suze A.

5. “I don’t think most people realize that when I’m out with friends and I suddenly leave, it’s because of anxiety. There’s always a moment when it’s just too overwhelming and I have to go home.” — Lucas Z.

6. “Constantly watching the body language of everyone to see if I’m offending them just by breathing.” — Jennifer L.

7. “I actually find myself talking a lot… in my mind I’m telling myself, be quiet, you’re talking to much, no one cares, everyone is judging you. But I get so anxious when I’m out with friends and there is an awkward silence or no one is talking. So I feel the need to talk more even though I’m dying of panic and anxiety inside. Sometimes after large events, it takes me days of no social interaction or staying in bed to recuperate.” — Jessica G.

8. “Actually talking on the phone can take days sometimes to muster up the courage. Texting is easier, but it’s still difficult to be the first one to start the conversation. I don’t like talking in groups. Will go somewhere, sit in my car for a half hour and decide not to go in.” — Tiffany A.

9. “Being loud, playing the joker, laughter. Anything that will draw away from the fact that I’m extremely agitated and struggling.” — Vikki M.

10. “I get upset before I have to go deal with people. This usually happens at home and is basically the adrenaline aggravating me, but I get snippy and can’t answer questions in any detail until I have to drive and therefore get distracted. Includes, ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘Why?’” — Myrlyn B.

11. “I’ll play with my hair, purse, or anything I’m holding to relieve my nervous energy. I won’t even notice it sometimes until I’m holding a torn up napkin.” — Katie M.

12 More

12. “I will always sit with my back to the wall, will even ask a friend to change seats with me. I sometimes miss pieces of conversation because I’m busy selecting and planning my exit routes and taking mental notes and descriptions of everyone in the room.” — Julz T.

13. “I will either shut down completely and not talk and people think I’m not sociable. Or if I try to convince myself to appear ‘normal’ I ramble and talk fast. It’s a lose, lose situation.” — Bryanna B.

14. “Practicing and practicing what I’m going to say on the phone and writing it down on a piece of paper before calling so if my anxiety becomes too much, I can just read my script.” — Leah O.

15. “Taking a long time to reply to emails, texts, etc., especially group messages, because I’m terrified of spelling something wrong or saying something that is incorrect or could come across as rude or mean. I’ve had misunderstandings in the past with these types of communication and and it scares me. I feel like everyone hates me already, and when I write something silly I feel like they hate me even more.”– Keira H.

16. “Not focusing on a conversation because I’m thinking about if I’ll miss my train or if my hair looks OK or if I look interested enough or if I’m allowing the person to speak enough or if I leave now I’ll get home at X time and have Y amount of sleep. It’s exhausting because my mind won’t stop, and I generally can’t remember anything anyone has said to me during said conversation.” — Stephanie T.

17. “Social anxiety is part of why I keep my hair long. It’s kind of a safety blanket for me, very comforting to be able to play with and soft. I feel less exposed with my hair there like a curtain I can disappear behind every so often.” — Opal S.

18. “Resting bitch face… not that I’m not happy; I’m uncomfortable and can’t really show my emotion. When I zone out I’m deep in my own destroying thoughts. Constantly finding an excuse to leave a room because I’m uncomfortable in a room of people, being glued to my phone or social media to escape myself and everyone around me. Being fidgety.” — Andrea M.

19. “I cancel plans, often last minute, not because I’m rude or necessarily don’t want to go, but because I’m afraid of going out in public sometimes, afraid of what’s going to happen, who’s going to look at me, am I going to be embarrassed, etc. And afterwards, I feel bad for missing out.” — Jessica S.

20. “I start to sweat, ridiculously, no matter the temperature. The worst is the sweat that breaks out on my upper lip because there’s just no hiding that. Before every job interview, I have legitimately wondered if this time I should go through with trying an antiperspirant on my upper lip.” — Angela J.

21. “I always prefer to make plans at least one day ahead. Every morning I mentally prepare for the day. It helps soothe any anxiety and is a comfort to know what to expect. It is difficult to be spontaneous, but as long as a friend let’s me know they’d like to do something on a certain day, I can anticipate that social interaction yet be flexible about exactly what we do, where we go or when.” — Jessica D.

22. “Coming across as completely cold, blunt and uptight – when that’s in fact actually a direct result of the panic and sheer effort taken just to to engage with that person – ironically, in what’s intended to be in a ‘normal’ way.” — Cat S.

23. “I zone out sometimes when there are too many stimulants. I just kind of go somewhere else in my head and am physically just there, usually staring at something weird, like a garbage can.” — Elaine W.

24. “I just awkwardly smile and try so hard not to get in anyone’s way. All the while, I feel like I’m annoying them in some way. I just want to leave, even if everyone is nice. It sucks.” — Emily J.

23 Signs You Grew Up With Depression

By | Community Blog

Growing up, most of us aren’t taught to look out for signs of depression. So if you’re experiencing it, especially as a teenager, it’s easy to think there’s just something wrong with you — and it’s easy for parents and other adults to pass you off as another moody kid.

But young people do get depression — we just need to know the signs. To find out how people knew they were living with depression, we asked our mental health community to share, in hindsight, signs they had depression.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Looking back on it, I constantly felt guilt and had a hard a time fitting in with anyone. I was a very cautious and shy kid.” — Poppy W.

2. “I cried a lot and wasn’t as happy as the other kids. I was unmotivated and didn’t want to shower; my room was a mess and I would stay inside and play games all day. I had trouble making friends because I was super shy, and that turned into anxiety (these issues have some childhood trauma factors and environmental factors as well).” — Hannah F.

3. “For me it was never feeling good enough, like no matter how hard I tried I just wasn’t like everyone else, especially my two older sisters. Then the increased emotions came. I would get so upset or so mad so quickly and without reason. I didn’t realize I had depression until this year.” — Ashley G.

4. “Whenever I climbed a tree or somewhere up high looking down I thought how nice it would be if I was high enough to jump. Never knew that was a concerning thought.” — Brittany B.

5. “When I was really young, like grade-school, I never understood why all of the other children were so happy and carefree. Everyone else seemed great at making friends and enjoyed being a child, but I couldn’t enjoy anything. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness even at a young age. Nothing was enjoyable, I couldn’t make or keep friends, I was constantly doubting myself and worrying about every little thing. I questioned my existence on a daily basis, I just couldn’t be happy, but was too young to understand what depression was.” — Audrey L.

6. “For me, it was not being able to focus. My grades dropped from straight As to Fs from what seemed like out of nowhere. I didn’t feel the excitement of doing anything anymore. I got extremely detached from everyone, I no longer cared what happened to me. I just kind of stayed away from other kids, and it took more effort than I’d like to admit to even talk to anyone. I stopped taking care of myself. I got made fun of for it. I ended up extremely suicidal from everything and to hide the fact that I was suicidal, I ended up just faking a smile and not showing any other emotions.” — Athena C.

7. “Losing all your friends, sleeping all the time, never wanting to wake up, not wanting to eat, never wanting to hang out with the people you would normally hang out with, not bothering to do your normal routine, grades slipping because you just don’t care anymore, jealously and anger at anyone who seems to be happy.” — Danee C.

8. “Feeling more tired, losing interest in things I loved, being less outgoing, more shy. I used to not care what people thought of me until I became severely bullied and beaten. I then started worrying what people thought of me. I felt mentally drained and didn’t enjoy school and was distant from good friends.” — Karalyn G.

9. “In high school, I would wake up and cry because I had to go to school. I was afraid all of the time. I got overwhelmed by schoolwork that should have been easy for me. On one occasion, I seriously contemplated suicide because of an assignment due that I hadn’t started. Looking back, there are years that are very dim and hard to remember — a trait of my adult depressive episodes. I’m lucky I didn’t happen to know anyone who drank or used drugs, because I’m sure I would have used those things as an out.” — Genevieve O.

10. “Your brain will tell you worst possible scenarios. Intrusive thoughts will be mean to you and tell you that you don’t deserve to enjoy life. The thoughts will tell you to abstain from things you enjoy. Depression is a living being trying to always bring you down.” — Keith B.

11. “I quit my first university due to ‘home sickness.’ Now I’ve realized it was depression that caused the fatigue, social anxiety and loss of interest in everything I had been doing.” — Magdalena K.

12. “The psychosomatic parts of it that my family didn’t recognize or even know about. The headaches, the tummy aches, coming home from school with panic attacks, unable to sleep at night, or sleeping too much. I was so young. And looking back, the signs were always there.” — Jessica I.

13. “Longing for death and wanting to die since the tender age of 7. I still have my journals from back then. Perhaps it started even earlier, when I was even younger I played at the local graveyard a lot, laying down on graves and wishing to die. Ever since I was little I always felt unwanted, like I was a burden to everybody and nobody wanted to have me around. When I tried to open up they told me I was being dramatic, oversensitive, I was acting out and I was just weird and it was all in my head.  I had problems focussing, finishing schoolwork and my grades were terrible. I hated the world so I made my own world in my head. I still go there sometimes.” — Ezra P.

14. “I frequently felt frustrated that everyone thought it was funny that I was so unhappy all of the time. My teachers, especially in high school, would revel when I would crack a smile and laugh. Looking back on those moments makes me realize how I went about creating this mask/persona that embraces the comedy to hide the reality of my self-loathing and angry tragedy that rumbles on the inside.” — Sean C.

15. “I had really bad anger issues, and it was hard to control my emotions. I didn’t know what was wrong with me when I was a teenager, it was really hard. I was suicidal and self-harmed. I wish I had been diagnosed earlier, instead of having friends and teachers tell me I was faking it for attention.” — Kate W.

16. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel exhausted. In middle school and the beginning of high school, I begged my parents to be homeschooled because I always stayed up at night crying about having to go there the next day. Either that, or I would stay up to make sure my homework was perfect, because if it wasn’t, that meant I was stupid and worthless.” — Sarah K.

17. “I was constantly dwelling over every mistake. There were times where I wished I would be treated as less than family and that I didn’t deserve a bed. I was constantly feeling as less than my siblings and had a streak to be perfect. I was constantly overloading my schedule with extracurriculars to get more attention from teachers because I felt so incredibly alone.” — Aislinn G.

18. “I was scared of everything. I wet myself many times at school because I was frightened of getting locked in the toilets. I once walked out of school and went home by myself — aged about 5 — because I just couldn’t cope with being there. And I started to self-harm in a very minor way — hitting myself with my hairbrush until I bruised — at around 8 years of age. But I could never tell anyone how I felt, or let my guard down; I was the one who never cried, even when I broke my leg. I was officially diagnosed with depression aged 13.” — Lucy D.

19. “From a young age, I would fantasize about suicide. Stories about me or imagined characters I would think up while daydreaming. I remember either oversleeping or not being able to sleep for long periods. I would get nagged by my mom so I thought I was just lazy.” — Chelsea M.

20. “I remember writing in this diary I had when I was like 7 or 8 that I just wanted to ‘go away.’ Not to run away but disappear completely right there and then. It’s weird because I didn’t really know the concept of suicide back then, but I just remember not wanting to exist.” — Kate Lara Solomons

21. “Always feeling like there was a black cloud casting a shadow over me even when things were happy. Never feeling like I was enough — I always could have been better. Feeling ashamed of myself for no real reason… just feeling like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Like I didn’t belong in this life. Thoughts and feelings I’ve had ever since I was little but didn’t realize it was depression and anxiety for many years.” — Jennifer L.

22. “I had no desire to be around my parents or friends. I would stay in my room and read constantly to avoid being around people. I couldn’t pay attention in school (but still made straight As so my parents weren’t concerned). I would chew on the hem of my shirt and pick at my lips almost constantly.” — Amanda M.

23. “For me, it was not being able to sleep, feeling guilty for no reason, that’s what got me. I was scared of things I’ve never been scared of before, and most of the time the world felt like it was crashing down around me. I’m thankful I had a nurse sister who caught the signs and told me to see a doctor, but not everyone is as lucky. Your feelings matter and are valid. If you feel like there’s something wrong, get checked! Because you never know.” — Devin W.

Journaling for 30 Days Taught Me How to Accept My Chronic Illnesses

By | Community Blog

If my life was written as a book or acted out in a play or movie, The Mighty’s My Mighty Month Challenge would probably be the climax or most important point of the story. I can’t find a way to explain how great this experience has been for me without some background as to how I ended up taking January’s 30-day journaling challenge.

When I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, back in 1996, no one I knew had ever heard of it. With the exception of the pain specialists that diagnosed me, most of the doctors and nurses I came into contact with didn’t even know what it was. As a 15-year-old, I wanted to know what my diagnosis meant, and began researching at school. Back then, the internet was fairly new and there wasn’t as much information available as there is today. I did find some information though, and I used it to explain my diagnosis to family, friends, teachers, doctors and nurses.

Fast forward twenty-years to 2015, when I was diagnosed with a second chronic illness: gastroparesis. At this point, technology has advanced enough that when I began researching gastroparesis, I found blogs, youtube videos and podcasts created by people living with the condition. I found comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone, and seeing others share their stories inspired me to do the same.

In September of 2016, I began sharing my story on my blog. I spent the first few months, writing the details of my diagnoses and life events – chronicling 20 years of my life. I quickly became bored telling my story and was happy to reach the present. I decided to continue blogging with the hope that my story would help someone following behind me, just like I have been inspired by those walking ahead of and alongside me.

One day, I came across a link to The Mighty. It felt like I had reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I read story after story about living with CRPS and gastroparesis. Finally, I decided to submit a story, not really expecting to hear anything back from it. When I received an email saying my was published, I was really surprised. My first story “The Moment of ‘Normalcy’ I Craved as a Student with a Disability” was published on December 28, 2016. A few weeks later, I wrote a second story “What this Picture Won’t Tell You About My Illness,” which was published January 13, 2017.

As a contributor, I receive contributor emails from The Mighty. That’s when I received an email about My Mighty Month. I decided to try using some of those prompts for my blog posts. I knew I didn’t have to share my personal journaling experience with the world, but something inside kept telling me to. I must admit, by day four I had almost convinced myself to quit. However, the word “quit” does not exist in my vocabulary, I deleted it when I was diagnosed with CRPS. I told myself that no matter what I faced in life, I wasn’t going to give up and quit. Due to health issues, some entries were posted a day late, but I believe every one of them ended up being posted. I think posting them online pushed me to think about what I was writing and be more honest with myself.

Having just completed day 30, I’ve come to realize how much this challenge has helped me. By opening up and sharing my story, my true feelings, I feel like I’ve finally come to accept my life as it is, and am taking better care of myself mentally and emotionally. I’d always just survived life with my illnesses and have never really been honest with myself about how they affect me. I thought I was writing to inspire others, but ended finding myself somewhere along the way.

The 30-day challenge forced me to look at my life and realize what is really important. It doesn’t matter what diagnosis the doctor throws my way, what challenges I face on a daily basis, or what I am no longer able to do. What matters is that I take the life I have, challenges and all, and I step up as a warrior and choose to own it. I may not have control over the illnesses I have, but I can control how I choose to live my life them. As hard as it may seem at times, I must fight back and make the most of my life. It’s my life, and life doesn’t always offer second chances, I must enjoy every moment, every joy, no matter how big or small it may seem. This is what I learned from taking January’s My Mighty Month Challenge. I really do feel that it has helped me greatly.

To My Newly-Diagnosed Friend

By | Community Blog

You’re allowed to be scared. Finding out you have a disease that has no cure is scary. Finding out that you will be living with this for the rest of your life is scary. Finding out that you may get worse is scary. Having to explain to your family and friends that you’re never going to just get better is scary, but you can do it. Because you’ve survived this long. You’ve survived all the months and months of appointments and tests searching for answers and maybe it’s not the answer you were hoping for, but it’s an answer.

Yes, this is going to change your life. You may not be able to do all the things you had planned. You’ll probably end up spending a lot more time at the hospital and in doctor’s offices than you do out with friends. But it can also make your life fuller. Every time you are able to go out and spend time with friends you will appreciate it more. You gain this deep appreciation for very little things in life, like being able to go for a walk with your love or cuddling up with a child or a pet. Somehow I think being sick seems to make you love deeper. You may appreciate the little things you used to take for granted, like being able to cook a meal or read a book or take a nap or simply spend an hour laughing with a friend.

Yes, you may lose some friends. Some people just do not understand or become too overwhelmed with all your medical stuff, but that’s OK. Because the friends who stay, the friends who keep texting you even when you don’t answer for days, the friends who want to know all about your life and don’t mind listening to you vent, the people who don’t care that you can’t come hang out with them because that’s what text messages and FaceTime are for, the friends who when you tell them what illnesses you have Google it and find out as much as they can about it because they care about you and want to know, the friends who refuse to let you push them out — they are the ones who matter. They are the ones who will still be there when the dust settles.

I’ve honestly been amazed at the support I’ve gotten from people in my life. My friendships have become so much more important and special. I’ve truly learned that I have been blessed with so many amazing people in my life. Getting diagnosed with rare diseases isn’t really the easiest way to find out who your true friends are, but it’s certainly effective.

Having a rare disease gives you a chance to make new friends, too. There’s this whole world out there of people just like you who are living life with rare diseases. Literally a whole world at your fingertips thanks to social media. In the last two years since being diagnosed I have made some of the best friends I’ve had in my life. I’ve made friends from all over the world. People who understand me and what I’m going through on a daily basis. People who aren’t ashamed to talk about all the embarrassing parts of being sick. People who will make you feel normal. People who will make you laugh at the fact that you fell asleep on the bathroom floor for a few hours. People who also have painsomnia so they are always up for late night chats. I’ve learned so much about other cultures and other countries during those late night chats. I’ve also learned how badly I need to go visit New Zealand.

You might see the people in your life so much differently and appreciate the little things they do for you so much more. You may realize there are so many wonderful people in this world who want to help you, people who want nothing in return but a smile and gratitude. It can be hard at first to accept the help if you’re so used to being independent and doing things for yourself, but let them help. The people that know you and love you are feeling just as helpless as you are right now. They want to help you but they have no idea how. They hate seeing you suffer and wish they could take it away. So let them help. Let them come over and clean for you or come make dinner for your family. Let them take your kids for awhile so you can take a much needed nap. Because these people love you and they may need to feel like they can make a difference in how you feel. Plus, that’s one less thing you need to spend your limited energy on, so you can have a little more time you can spend snuggling with your kids or a chance to go on a date with your love.

Never lose faith. This one can be hard on the days when you are so sick and see no end in sight but I think it’s extremely important. When you are living in a body that’s constantly battling against you it’s so important you don’t allow yourself to get stuck in your own head. It’s not easy. It’s probably going to be really, really hard and you aren’t expected to stay positive every single day, but I think trying to find a small blessing in each day is so important. Before you go to sleep just think of one thing that was great about that day. Maybe it was just that you had some really good food or something your child said or did. Just find it.

Always look for the light because it’s always there, sometimes it’s just a little harder to find. To quote one of my favorite book series and favorite characters ever: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, If one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

You might have some crappy doctors, but don’t keep them. If you feel like the doctor you are seeing isn’t helping you, find a new one. If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening, find a new one. The relationship you have with your doctors is going to be so important in your life now. So don’t waste your time on ones who aren’t concerned about your well being. Make sure you have an open-minded doctor. You need to have a long relationship with this person and the best ones are the ones who are willing to look outside the box. The ones who aren’t afraid of you because you have a condition but instead are interested in you and want to make your life as good as possible.

Do your own research. Don’t just trust your doctors to know what’s best for you. Join online support groups for people with your illness and learn as much as you can. Research the medicines they suggest. You may find information about treatments for your illness that your doctors haven’t heard of yet.

Most of all, just remember this is an unexpected detour and you’re allowed to mourn the life you planned. That’s normal. That’s healthy. But eventually you will have to get up, dust yourself off and start to live again. Your life will never be the same but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be amazing. On the days it becomes too overwhelming and you aren’t sure what to do, reach out to those who love you. Or find a therapist. Many spoonies see a therapist to help them deal with the loss of the life they planned and the stress of life as a chronically ill person.

But please, never forget that I’m here. I understand. I’ve been exactly where you are now and even if I can’t physically be with you, I’m always just a text message, phone call or a video chat away. If you need someone to vent to, cry to or simply to yell about how unfair life feels.. I’m here. I love you and I’m not going anywhere because when I was in your shoes, you never left me.