Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to save a life

Recently I posted a video on my facebook page that struck home for me, but I realize that psychology is a hot button topic these days, I don't want anyone to think that I'm against psychiatry.  I'm against diagnosing someone (especially children) before taking in to account their experiences, their everyday schedules, their environment, etc.  I work at the Arc where I help provide a creative outlet for those that have been diagnosed with autism, downs syndrome, and other intellectual or developmental disabilities, sometimes these adults were labeled as "difficult" as children so I understand early monitoring.  I'm not talking about these issues, I'm talking about labeling a child ADD/ADHD without considering how they learn, what they have to do all day, unfortunately the opportunity to improve the environments to help "problem" children will not be changing anytime soon and I'm afraid that they will only deteriorate.  This is not the teacher's fault, and parents aren't going to be able to change everything about the state of the education system either, our hands are all tied while the government does what they think is best to keep us at the top of the game.  Young ones need time to be creative, (music, art, dance, writing for fun) time to be active, time to practice social skills, and be able to have an encouraging learning environment and be taught how to function within a structured environment, oh, and the all important down time to process their day and their thoughts about the day.

Again I'm not against psychiatry in fact here's my story, it's hard to put these thoughts out in the open never to be taken back but it's important if it helps just one person embrace every aspect of who they are so that they can not only survive but become more than they could have believed possible.  So here is a testimony of who I am, and who I'm becoming, if you want to continue whatever image of me you had in your head you can stop reading here.

At a young age my father was taken from me in a car accident, I remember the phone ringing and my first grade teacher looking right at me when she received the news, I remember coming home to my mom holding my brothers to tell me why I had a bag of candy from my teachers.  I was given a few moments to be a child for a bit longer.  I remember retreating to my coloring book to escape my thoughts, and reading a lot to escape my own reality.  I wasn't a trouble child outwardly but my mind has been in turmoil for as long as I can remember, I use to write notes before I went to sleep about where I wanted to be buried just in case I didn't wake up.  As far as school went I did okay, I was horrible at math, and my folder had notes from my teachers about how I was constantly doodling during class time.  I don't know what my life would be like now if I had not had art class, music, PE, recess so that we could go outside and soak up the precious sunlight and explore the plants on the playground. I had one very close friend in elementary school, and then I made two news friends in middle school (honestly that was it as far as people I could count on) I started to notice "mean girls" around 8th grade.  High School is when things started to take a real turn, I was an honor roll student and desperate for praise and for my teachers to take notice in me.  My mom is a single parent, she never remarried and she was very hard on me especially once I hit high school, I know it was because she wanted me to be a responsible and a self reliant adult but I stress out easily and I didn't take it out on someone else I started punching things to punish my anger and my lack of control, I developed an eating disordered and sank myself into running to escape having to interact.  I was picked on for being weird and honestly I'm weird and I like it, but I still have anger concerning those who pick on others because they are different.  At the same time this was all going on I had boyfriends, strings of boyfriends professing their love for me, turns out I had figured out to take my pain out on others. I'm very charismatic when I want to be, I started to develop no regard for others all the while still craving positive interaction from those I trusted and respected.  It was time for college, I graduated high up in my class, I had been accepted to every college I had applied for.  On condition of me leaving home and attending college I was asked to see a therapist, I didn't think this would matter as I was just a 17/18 year old girl.  I went and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.  A label handed to me along with a prescription to "fix" me.  I had to go once a month to make sure my meds were in balance but no therapy, community was recommended to me and I continued a dark path real quick.  I started hurting myself on a much more damaging scale, I never intended to kill myself but I was punishing myself for how broken I was.  My psychiatrist never noticed, I dropped out of art school unwilling to fight for myself.  Moving home made it worse, I suffered a devastating blow that caused even more pain in my life.  No one could help, every therapist made me angry because they didn't know how to help me, people around me were confused and scared and angry that they had failed me.  The reason I made it out alive was because I was afraid if I ended my life God wouldn't let me in to Heaven.
 Hopefully you all know this has a happy ending, I was at the end of my rope and I was offered a job at Mount Shepherd (my sanctuary throughout my life) and I was given the time I needed to process so much and pray and get closure I needed concerning my character.  During this time I made a friend who never judged me, wasn't afraid of me, he encouraged me and nurtured me in a way that brought me to life.  He never did some grand gesture, he just sat with me and asked me to draw and gave me his ipod to listen to and when I was afraid he let me talk until my fear was defeated.  It's so dramatic to say he "saved my life" but he never gave up and he never enabled my behaviors. We're coming up on our 7th wedding anniversary 9 years of being together in total and still to this day his patience and love remind me constantly that there is good in the world and that I can be good.  I see a therapist and a psychiatrist still, and I will probably always need to, I'm fine with that because I have a support group and a community I can rely on.  It's always going to be  a struggle and I have to be vigilant in my fight but I'm not alone and that makes all the difference.

So why the story?  There are pointers in here about what to do and what not to do if you  or if you have a loved one who is suffering, perhaps in silence.  It's not easy first of all, I went through 8 psychiatrists before I found one I like okay, he's not perfect but he's perceptive.  Find a community group, I am on a subreddit for mental health, also you're not the only one find someone who can hold you accountable.  If someone does confide in you don't tell them they're wrong or not to do something.  Listen to them, let them talk.  Do not interject unless you know personally the hopelessness, and even then it took them a lot of courage to come to you, let them talk.  If you have have a child that is acting out, look at their schedule, look at their opportunity for creativity or active play.  Not every kid wants to be around other children constantly and that is okay.  Let them work it out, kindred spirits can find each other regardless the age (trust me, I found one in fourth grade, the one I could count on to let me be me.)  Everyone is creative in some way it's up to you to find it and allow others to find theirs and their process for how to cope with everyday life (which as we all know is difficult.)  No one is the same and while that is a variable it is a constant variable that I am thankful for.  Please help one another, love one another, and lift each other up.  Your small words or actions could save a life.

If you ever have a question or a concern you may message me, it took a lot for me to post about my struggles but I needed others to see that there is hope.

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