chronic illness, mental health

A confession on staying afloat, nutrition, suicide, grief, and standing up to stigma

For the past few days, I have been struggling to stay afloat. I have been powering through feelings of suicidal ideations. Let’s be frank about this. Just about everybody gets down, sad, “the blues,” at some point in their lives. It’s inevitable. Like I said in a previous blog post, life, especially one riddled with chronic physical and/or mental illness is like riding the waves on a surfboard. I have been feeling this way for some time….like months. But I have been managing it. I have also been managing to be on psychiatric medication since about 1998, until a month ago when a week-long migraine would not allow me to take my daily regimen. I have also been talking with my husband, my therapist, the psychiatric nurses, my psychiatrist, all of my doctors, and some close friends for about 5 years of going off psych meds. This is not something to take lightly when dealing with chronic pain illnesses, physical illnesses, and some mental illnesses diagnosed as severe at some times in one’s life. I have been actively researching holistic wellness and non-medicated strategies and coping mechanisms since becoming a peer specialist in 2012, to enhance my own and others’ daily wellness. I have implemented many of these strategies in the past 6 years. Traditional psychiatric staff members would have me institutionalized in a minute for having suicidal ideations and being off my meds for 4-5 weeks. This is not something I want. I have been slowly implementing natural supplements, including CBD oil in to my life. I am careful about what I put in my body and follow an almost 100% plant-based diet. However, maybe a week or two before that week-long migraine, I had some items with dairy in (which I am highly intolerant/allergic to). Coincidence? The migraines had been steadily decreasing with (I believe) the use of the CBD oil and neurotransmitter and amino acid supplements. I follow “The Food Mood Gal,” Trudy Scott. I have her book, but did not finish it. Which is not surprising, as I can’t seem to finish hardly any non-fiction books. My daily diet does not agree with her suggestions of food intake at some points. She suggested cottage cheese to me, last year for something or other I had messaged her about. Believe me, I would LOVE nothing other than to dive into cottage cheese platters with different fruits, veggies, nuts, and spices. I think out of my dairy-a-holic lifestyle for about 35 years, this was my utmost favorite. Especially when my chiropractor had me following Dr. Barry Sears “The Zone Diet” program to help reduce inflammation and balance hormones in 2011, before my first reconstructive foot surgery. It was like I couldn’t wait for breakfast to have the various cottage cheese bowls I made. And maybe in the future, I will do another trial of that. If anyone has watched The Truth About Cancer (TTAC) docu-series, you may have heard of the Budwig diet. I can’t remember what 1900 decade Dr. Budwig researched this, but she found that having cottage cheese, flax seed oil, and fruit mixed together daily helped reduce some qualities associated with cancer. Unfortunately, that little binge on bakery items made with dairy did not do my GI system or skin on my face, arms, and legs any favors. I am still broken out. And maybe this even played a part in the relapse of depression, in to the dark depths of my soul.

That was alot of rambling about my nutrition….but what does it have to do with my mental health and chronic pain? Well….everything. I was doing fairly well, riding the waves that those of us reading this and coping with complex-ptsd, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, chronic/major depressive disorder, anxiety, panic, etc. deal with on a daily basis. The problem with choosing, after many years of debating, to go off one’s psychiatric medications and utilize other coping mechinisms is this. One spaz, one crying episode, one flip-out, one drop into the pit of depression, and it is because, “she is off her meds.” I believe that the time has come in my life, through many years of researching, consulting, debating the “what ifs?,” etc., that it is time I try. It is time to stop masking my feelings, that I have very slowly over 20 years, learned to somewhat control, review, and rethink how I act outwardly. With the help of medications, which I think may have acted as a Stop sign. One of the major contributing factors to going off of psychiatric medications was the physical symptoms I was having. Including what they were possibly doing to my liver. A swollen liver showed up (if you remember from previous blog posts) on the CT scan in June 2016 for the malignant adrenal tumor I had. Then in my blood work in August 2017, having hyperlipedemia showed up. What vegan has a fatty liver? Also in October 2017, having all but 1 symptom of Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome was a big factor in coming to this final decision about a month ago. And there is the lovely reminder of this time of year, how 8 years ago, over Mother’s Day weekend, I ended up incarcerated for 6 days because of the psychiatric fuges I was having from being WAY over-medicated. So there you have it. It’s now out there.

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Yes, I just was thinking of suicide about two nights ago after a very rough week (actually longer) of feeling useless to everyone and a burden. Big words, I know. And I know those of you in the mental health field, and some that aren’t, are ready to call the crisis hotline. Words that, as a Certified Peer Specialist, I’d be hitting that toll-free number, as well. There are very good, very valid reasons why I did not go to the hospital. Reasons I shared with my husband and the friend in the mental health field that were talking to me through this rough patch. Reasons that my therapist will hear soon. Reasons I chose to make myself safe and away from harm. You see, today I can say that it isn’t that “I want to die,” even if that is what I am saying to someone. I want the pain to stop. It is unrelenting and never-ending. It is horrible mental pain. It is horrible debilitating physical pain….that this ballerina can’t even walk sometimes. It’s not that I can’t find joy in everyday things. I can. And I do.

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I realized in my current read of Megan Devine’s, “It’s OK That You’re Not OK,” that our current world pretty much sucks at giving comfort to those grieving. No matter what the reason. What one might think will be a comforting thought or platitude to the person grieving really, well…sucks. A story of theirs meant to comfort and connect becomes a competition, or one-up. Telling someone platitudes of, “It was meant to be,” or “Your soul asked for this on some unconscious level,” or “Go take a walk,” etc. is not only asinine to the person grieving, but hurtful, and maybe even detrimental to that grieving person’s well-being. Now I have just entered chapter 3 this morning. I am not a trained therapist, like Megan, or some of you. But I did have training and work in the mental health field. More importantly, maybe to some, is that I have been there. I am a peer. Unfortunately, I am responsible for some of those sucky platitudes and would-be comforting comments. This is human nature in the 21st century. The medical community, from what I have gathered so far, doesn’t really get alot of training in grief counseling. And what they did learn has been outdated. Grief is considered a negative part of our person, a “disorder.” It’s not…it’s life, and IT. IS. REAL. It is a very feeling time of our lives. It is a natural part of living. The suffering we feel is real. It is very vivid. It is palpable. What I want, what alot of us grieving want, is to be HEARD. We do not need cheery quotes from the latest self-help guru. We want UNDERSTANDING. Sometimes….maybe most of the time….we don’t need any feedback. Maybe a comforting hand on ours, a passed tissue, a hug (but please ask first).

Again, I am not an expert. I am my own Guinea pig, with the guidance of others, professional and non-professional. My path is not your path. I can only tell you what I have done and what has seemed to work for me, and what has not. As far as the suicidal ideations and past attempts goes, this is something I have dealt with since I was about 4, with the first attempt on my life. There is another blogger I read regularly, JE Skye, The Bi-Polar Writer. I do not know this man at all, only what I read in his blog. He is a professional writer, something I am not. I can not meld the thoughts in one particular flowing format like he and others do. In my almost 8 years of higher education, I only had 2 literature classes. And that was literature….not grammar. As a matter of fact, I failed English the last 6-week terms of both 6th and 7th grades. My 10th grade English teacher told me I’d never be able to write a sentence, even if I tried. Then I got a 4.0 in my college literature (basic??) class in my first semester of college in the fall of 1993 like 2 years later. So there. LOL. So anywho….JE Skye wrote a few days ago that he has (also) been suicidal in his life, and it is something that will always be an option to him. I totally connected with him in that sentence. And I was so very thankful that he, too has decided to Stand Up To Stigma about mental health. It’s time to stop tip-toeing around the fact that more people than you realize have similar thoughts and feelings. I’m not saying this should be the next “fad.” This is a horrible issue to deal with on a daily basis for a short-time, let alone, a life time. I’m not saying to shout it from the rooftops that you have a mental illness. Which is what I kinda feel like I’m doing here. It’s more an issue of being brave and sharing your story. Hopefully your audience will be understanding and not a hater or someone who thinks you are “faking it” to get attention. Which, unfortunately, there are plenty of both jerks out there. Be Brave, My Friends. Be Brave.

Thanks For Reading. Take Care. Be As Well As Possible. And Until Next Time…

3 thoughts on “A confession on staying afloat, nutrition, suicide, grief, and standing up to stigma”

  1. I’m not calling Crisis. You already know that. Just wanted to remind you that I love you, I’m here for you, and I hope you are as well as possible. Talk to me if you are able.

    Liked by 1 person

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