Gone Fishing!

boy-909552_1920

Howdy all,

First, to anyone that’s left me a comment in the past couple months (0.O) that I haven’t answered: thank you, and I’m sorry. The short explanation is, life happened.

Some things happened externally: I got another (better) job. I moved. But some things happened internally too. A lot of soul searching. I surprised myself: usually I write while I’m soul searching. But the last couple of months, I’ve just been wanting to read, and journal privately.

I hope you all are well, and writing your hearts out. You are all so talented. Your words bring light to a world that desperately needs it. Even if your words are full of pain, trust me, they mean something to others who read them and see a reflection of themselves.

I’m not quite sure what the future of this blog will look like. If the muse comes to call and I get inspired to write again, I will. In the meantime, I’ve gone fishing. Your job is to just keep swimming.

Be well…💙🌟

Jenna

Advertisements

Guest Post: To My College Roommates Who Shunned Me For My Self Harm-Thank you

*Trigger Warning: Contains descriptions of self harm*

Self harm is a difficult topic to talk about. Yet now more than ever, we need to have the conversation. According to Time magazine, anxiety and depression are on the rise among young people. In 2006 the estimated number of teens in the United States who had at least one major depressive episode was 7.9%; in 2015, that number had reached 12.5%. And experts believe nonsuicidal self harm is also on the rise, though it’s “hard to quantify” because the behavior is “deliberately secretive.”

I myself have never self harmed, though I know people who have. I remember two girls in high school who had razor-thin scars up and down their arms. One I went to Sunday school with as a child, and yet in high school, I had no idea how to reach out to her. On WordPress, I see many bloggers who describe their urges to self harm. On Instagram, the #mentalhealth feed occasionally contains an image of someone’s self harm that they’ve chosen to post. My heart goes out to people who experience this, and so in that frame of mind, I’d like to introduce my guest blogger, Kate Branciforte.

My guest blogger today, Kate Branciforte, has experienced self-harming behavior; however, she is now celebrating one year harm free. Kate’s story upholds my commitment at The Wishing Well–it is honest, and at the end, shares her message of hope.

Her story does contain graphic descriptions of self harm–so for those that are sensitive to it, please be mindful. However, her message is ultimately uplifting. With the spirit of facing the truth and sharing hope, I now turn it over to Kate. -Jenna

In Kate’s Words…

pretty-woman-1509956_1920

To My College Roommates that Shunned Me for My Self-Harm: Thank You

I’ll never forget how I spent my 21st birthday. Unlike most, it wasn’t spent hung over in bed reliving the epic tales of the night before. Instead, it was spent hung over in the psych ward of Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, in a room with cinderblock walls and plexiglass windows. I shared this small space with a severely mentally ill young woman and her bored caretaker. This troubled woman was constantly banging her head against the wall, moaning, and throwing things while her caretaker sat there on her phone ignoring her. I sat in the corner, watching this. I have never felt more alone.

Rewind to the night before, a night that was supposed to be full of booze and celebrating, ended up being full of tears, shame and self-harm. After a long night at the bar and too many gin and tonics, I ended up in my apartment and crashed on my couch. Not long after, my roommate and our mutual friend came home and sat in the kitchen talking. I was in that half awake, half asleep drunken state, but I will never forget the conversation I ended up over hearing; the conversation that triggered this entire debacle.

The friend that was over was a guy that I had previously hooked up with, a guy that I had a huge crush on. While they were talking, my name came up when my roommate asked our friend what had happened between us. His response? “That was a huge, huge mistake”. When I heard this my heart stopped. And not because it was confirmed that this guy didn’t like me or want to date me or anything like that. I get it, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m fine with that. But the thing that got me was his words confirmed the thoughts I had constantly been battling: that I didn’t matter. I was a mistake. I was unimportant. I didn’t belong here.

After hearing this, I snuck to my room, found the razor I had hidden and went to town. This wasn’t my first encounter with harming myself. I had started that summer and it had been consuming me ever since. After I had enough, I tried crying myself to sleep but my roommate returned and asked what was wrong. In a cry for help, I turned on the light and revealed my bloody arms and legs. My roommate was confused and left, and proceeded to call her mom, who in return called the school.

The next morning I woke up to a whirlwind of RAs, EMTs, and police officers in my apartment. They were going through my things, questioning me and telling me I had to go to the hospital. I refused. A police officer then told me that if I didn’t cooperate, he would “put [me] in handcuffs and wheel me out of here on a stretcher so everyone can see.” Just what a suicidal girl in crisis wants to hear, right? Needless to say, I obliged. I was put in an ambulance and driven off to the hospital alone.

I was in the hospital for six hours. My parents eventually picked me up and to my shock and surprise, my roommates had come to the hospital and sat there all day waiting for me. When I got back to campus, I was told to pack a bag because I wasn’t allowed to live on campus until I was “stable” enough. That meant no class, no rowing, no going out on the weekends. Nothing. My life was seemingly just getting worse and worse. Long story short, eventually everything was figured out. Things shortly got back to somewhat normal with my friends and I finished out my junior year. Over the summer I battled depression and self-harm, but I made sure no one knew about it this time, except my therapist.

Senior year comes along, and again, I had another very memorable birthday. I don’t remember at all what happened or what triggered this bout of cutting, but all I remember is coming home crying and drunk, going to my shower, taking my razor and repeatedly cutting my arms and legs. I just hacked away until I felt better. I then lay down on the bathroom floor, crying and guilty when one of my roommates walked in. I’ll never forget the look of horror on her face. But instead of coming to me and comforting me, she turned and shut the door. I then proceeded to hear her talking to my other roommates and then heard their bedroom door shut.

Not soon after, an RA came into our apartment, talked to me and called my parents in the middle of the night. Before I left, I went to my roommates’ door and knocked, profusely crying and apologizing, begging them to open the door. I just wanted to see them, to tell them I was sorry, to make sure everything would be okay. Well, all I got was nothing. Silence. My parents dragged me away from the door, sobbing. From that day on, those girls, ones who I considered to be some of my best friends, never spoke to me or contacted me ever again. I moved out shortly after and commuted for the rest of my college career.

Now, the point of this story isn’t to bash these girls, or to look for pity from people. It’s actually to thank them because if it wasn’t for what they did to me and how they treated me, I would never, ever be where I am right now.

sunflower

If I never went through this storm, I surely wouldn’t be the person I am today. I would have never gotten my first job, which truly shaped who I have become. I would have never started Crossfit, where I met some of the most amazing people I know and who have become incredibly close friends. I would have never had the opportunity to meet coaches and athletes who have pushed me to my limits, helping to define my character. I wouldn’t have strengthened my relationships with my five best friends, who continually and constantly love me no matter what; the ones who were there for me even though they didn’t understand why I do what I do. I wouldn’t have discovered the sport of weightlifting, which has given me a new sense of purpose, and again, introduced me to some really incredible people. I would have never found the strength I have found to keep living.

If it weren’t for those roommates who slammed the door in my face when I needed them most, then the doors that have opened to me over the past four years would have remained closed. If it wasn’t for their rejection, I may have stayed at school, fostering toxic “friendships” and stuck in a cycle of depression and self-harm. Who knows if I would even still be here?

Today, I am still suffering from depression and anxiety and recovering from my self-harming ways, but I am the happiest I have ever been. I haven’t taken a razor to my body in just over a year. I rarely, if ever, have suicidal thoughts anymore. I am able to cope with my stress and anxiety most of the time without spiraling out of control.

So, to those girls who locked their door and their hearts to me: thank you. Thank you for shunning me when I needed you most. Thank you for cutting me out of your life so easily. Thank you for not being there for me. You unknowingly changed, and perhaps saved, my life. You showed me who my true friends are; the ones who have helped me rebuild myself from the ground up. You’ve made me realize that I am not a mistake. I am important. I matter. I have a purpose on this earth, although that still remains uncertain and unknown. But now, instead of being worried and scared of that fact, I now revel in it.

Life is so uncertain, but the one thing that has remained constant for me is that everything happens for a reason. And that closed door was the best thing that ever happened to me.

And for anyone suffering, anyone thinking of harming themselves, or taking their life, listen to me: YOU matter. YOU are important. YOU have a purpose. YOU belong here. YOU are NOT a mistake. You may not see it now, you may truly believe you never will, but I promise you, you will. Keep going. Weather the storm and when you make it out, you will be stronger. And there will always be another storm…that I know all too well. But you will always make it through. Find your support system, cut out the toxic people, do something you love. And know, one closed door may be exactly what you need to open the next. I love you so much.

Kate Branciforte is a 27-year-old from the United States celebrating one year harm free. She enjoys olympic weighlifting, writing, eating and naps. Feel free to reach out to her in the comments. 


If you are interested in guest posting on The Wishing Well, send me an email or leave me a comment and we’ll touch base. I can’t promise I’ll take every submission, but I am dedicated to sharing stories of recovering from mental illness with honesty and an uplifting message. 🌟


Source: Schrobsdorff, Susanna. “Anxiety, Depression and the American Adolescent.” Time. 7 Nov 2016: 44-51. Print.

Image Credits: Images picked out by Kate.

pretty-woman-happy-young-female by jill111, CC0 Public Domain

sunflower-flower-nature-plant by Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain

Guest Post: A Journey Through Self Harm

This post is for people ready to dig deep into a challenging topic. I want to welcome Chelsie from You, Me & Emetophobia, who is ready to share her story about how she overcame self harm. Many bloggers struggle with self harm currently or have struggled with it in the past. I have never experienced it myself, but I am grateful to Chelsie for her honest and ultimately hopeful story. She’s guest-posted for me before, and she has a great blog of her own. Be ready to read a moving story.

In Chelsie’s Words:


The first time I resorted to self harm I was in high school. Or maybe it was middle school. To be honest, I don’t remember and I don’t really try to remember. I guess it’s because, like most people who self harm, I don’t exactly beam with pride over the thought of having done it.

There is no pride in self harm because it’s usually done out of desperation. Desperation to feel something other than emotional pain; desperation to feel in control amidst the chaos they are experiencing externally and internally.

And let me tell you, my life was definitely in chaos. With my parents going through a messy divorce, three consecutively terrible boyfriends (which I was probably too young for anyways), a cancer prognosis for a loved one and a phobia with no name all hitting me at once, it was a perfect storm. Then, when you factor in the already teenage angst that came with puberty, looking back it’s not exactly surprising I resorted to such extreme measures.

But I think there might be a common misconception that only depressed people will self harm, and I think there is also a misconception that people only self harm because they are suicidal. Neither of those were true for me. Of course, I could have probably convinced you I was with all the emo poetry I wrote at three in the morning while listening to HIM and Panic! At The Disco.

No, despite all the wrong in my life and the struggles I endured in my high school years, I never once felt as if I was truly depressed or ever considered taking my own life. I guess that’s because deep down I must have known it could have always been worse, or someone out there could have had it worse than me.

I recently read an article from TheMighty.com titled 39 Messages to People Who Self-Harm, From People Who Have Been There. Despite being seven years self harm free, all of the messages resonated with me. They reminded me that despite all that life had put me through, and despite all the scars I left behind, I am still a person, with valid feelings and tremendous worth.

It’s nice to be reminded about that from time to time, and I think for those of you who currently self harm it’s nice to feel like someone out there hears you and understands you. That being said, I’ve waited a very long time to share my story of recovery. I’ve carried a lot of shame and regret over my past decisions, and I think it’s finally time for me to start letting go of that. I’m going to do that by sharing how I overcame my battle with self harm, and hoping that it can help at least on person see that they can do it too.

Support is vital. It doesn’t have to come in the form of a significant other or a family member, or even a friend. Support can come from within, it can come from a support group on Facebook, it can come from your favorite poetry verse that you have hanging on your wall. Support can come from playing your guitar when you feel the urge, or going out for a walk with your dog. Support doesn’t have to be a physical person; support is anything you use to help you through the urges.

During the first few months, despite heavily leaning on my boyfriend (who is now my husband) I would constantly find other things to do. Activities that required a decent amount of focus and use of my hands always worked best, as it would occupy the mind and reduce the seemingly crushing waves of guilt and shame that would hit me when the urge struck. When my husband wasn’t around, I would sit in my room and breath, and try to find help from within.

I’ll be honest, there will be relapses, but that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up, because chances are it’s been a week, three weeks, a month, six months since you last did it. Pick yourself up, remind yourself why you decided to stop and keep pushing forward. Remember what worked and what didn’t, and tell yourself next time you’ll go a day, a week, a month longer. Power through, and remember that you stopped before, so you can stop again.

And it takes trust to continue pushing on. It’s important to trust yourself, your strength, your courage. Trust your ability to persevere in the face of a relapse. Trust that you will one day be able to forgive yourself, to look at those scars and realize that despite all that you’ve been through, that you healed. You put one foot in front of the other, you climbed that wall, you emerged the other side and then destroyed it piece by piece until you could clearly see the road you came from.

Lastly, be aware of your triggers. Know what your body feels like when an urge hits, be mindful of items, sounds or pictures that make you feel a certain way or take you back to when you would self harm. For me, I always knew when my body needed to self harm because my wrists would burn. Without fail, the feeling to cut was always preceded by my wrists burning, almost like it was simulating the act of cutting to get me by until I actually could self harm.

I also tried to avoid Secondhand Serenade for a long time because it was almost always the soundtrack to my self harm. It was always playing when I felt my worst, and it triggered those feelings I was trying to conquer. So, for example, if you know listening to Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol reminds you of a bad time, remove it from your playlist for a little while, until you are better prepared to handle the emotions that come with it.

There was a quote I heard the other day from a woman on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that really spoke to me. She had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, and they were discussing a time when the woman removed her shirt and proudly displayed her scars. Ellen ask the woman why, and she replied:

“It hit me that I have scars because my body healed, and that’s beautiful.”

If your body can heal from the trauma, so can your mind. It will be a long road, but recovery is possible; healing is possible. I have dealt with a lot of negative emotions towards my self harm. I feel a lot of shame, a lot of regret and it never gets easier to talk about. In fact, I usually avoid it but what I’ve learned throughout my time is that holding it in is worse. Not telling someone makes the burden that you feel, whether consciously or subconsciously, heavier.

In fact, sitting down to write this was very, very hard. These are memories I buried deep, purposefully trying to forget them because I didn’t like what I had to do to keep myself sane. I had never even gone as far as writing about it, so as I began this process, for the first time in six years I was overwhelmed with the feeling and urge to self harm (but I didn’t). After a day or two, I came back to this because I knew I had to push through, and I knew I had to do this.

No, actually, I wanted to do this.

I wanted to do this because my battle with self harm was real. The pain I felt was real; the trauma that caused it was real and the scars on my wrist are real. I wanted to do this because like so many others, those scars are a constant reminder that I literally chose to etch every negative emotion on my skin instead of screaming into a pillow or talking it out safely.

But you know what else? My recovery was real too. I may not have struggled with depression or thought about taking my life, but overcoming self harm is a huge feat. The sleepless nights tossing and turning while my wrists burned were real. Learning to not be triggered by seeing knives, scissors or exacto blades was real too. Feeling overflowing pride after hitting one month, six months, two years, four years self harm free was real.

I wanted to do this because like so many others I sat on this emotional burden for so long. Even with my recovery well over, I buried those feelings and sometimes that secret is harder to carry than the actual self harm. Don’t do that to yourself; don’t wait to get the help you rightfully deserve because while there may be no pride in self harm, I’ve learned that there shouldn’t be any shame either.


Chelsie, thank you for your willingness to help others who are struggling with self harm.

If you would like to email Chelsie, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@youmeandemetophobia.com. She says, “I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. Also, feel free to join our Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.”

If you are interested in guest posting on The Wishing Well, leave me a comment and we’ll touch base. I can’t promise I’ll take every submission, but I am dedicated to sharing stories of recovering from mental illness with honesty, humor and heart.

Image Credit: Image Credit: pinky swear by cherylholt, CC0 Public Domain

 

Reblogged: Got Hope? (Hint: It looks a lot like weeding…)

Quote

This is one the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve come across in a long time. Leslie of Suicide Survivors writes about finding hope after suicide with unimaginable insight and even beauty. You’ll be glad you decided to read it! Thanks Leslie for permission to reblog.

suicidesurvivors

As a guest-poster, Josh Rivedal also invited me to guest-post on his blog, too.  I feature a ‘teaser’ on his blog (http://www.joshuarivedal.com/blog.html) for today’s story.  Today’s post is about hope lost and eventually, hope regained.

When I was 15, I lost my mom to suicide. Despite the profound loss of my mother, the fallout with some family members afterwards, and the feeling that my world had completely upended, I still had ambition. Even with the sense of betrayal and the long-gnawing fear of possibly ending up like my mom, I felt myself moving forward on a trajectory that whispered softly in my ear: “history is not destiny”. I stuck to my goals: I went to college, I traveled, I found a city in which to live that felt like home (3000 miles away), I went to grad school and became a professional social worker which I’d felt was my calling…

View original post 1,484 more words

Guest Post: Intro to Emetophobia

Calling all people who dig mental health blogs! Welcome to my first ever Guest Post! Chelsie’s blog, You, Me & Emetophobia, introduced me to a mental health struggle I had never heard of. Chelsie is in recovery from emetophobia, “the irrational and intense fear of throwing up.” This phobia “attacks you from all angles,” Chelsie says in her “Open Letter to Emets Everywhere.” She writes about her commitment to healing in an honest and personal voice. I find her willingness to share her experience with others moving, and I have no doubt you will find her writing moving also. Please welcome Chelsie!

In Chelsie’s Words:


“Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends but hating to socialize. It’s wanting to be alone but not wanting to be lonely. It’s caring about everything, then caring about nothing. It’s feeling everything at once then feeling paralyzingly numb.” – Unknown

Life is full of oxymorons (and regular morons if we’re being honest). Some of them make complete sense, like organized chaos or being alone together. You know exactly what that looks like and feels like, despite the two words being completely opposite. I think oxymorons are put in place to describe situations that seem indescribable – perhaps another oxymoron? But in some instances, I think the universe just has a unique and occasionally cruel sense of humor.

Case and point? Anxiety and depression.

Anxiety is this constant, 100 mile per hour feeling, whereas depression is this numb, no urge to move at all feeling. Together, those emotions create this painfully taxing mental state that has people worried to fail, but no motivation to achieve their dreams. Many people who have anxiety and depression struggle in a generalized way, meaning that they just feel those emotions without any specific pinpoint trigger; they just feel the way they do all the time.

Then, there are people with emetophobia.

Emetophobia is the irrational fear of throwing up. This fear can be specified towards just the sufferer throwing up, someone else throwing up, or struggling with both. This is not to be confused with just not wanting to get sick or being squeamish. This phobia is typically classified as a panic disorder, because many people who struggle with emetophobia experience severe and sudden panic attacks.

The concept of emetophobia is complex in the way that many people don’t understand it. How can someone be afraid of throwing up? To an emet, throwing up is a crueler fate than death, and the emotions that are stirred up by a panic attack are terrible and range all over the emotional spectrum.

Many emets spend their days in a constant state of anxiety, similar to those who struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). They are worried about going out, their children, their friends, their spouses, whether or not that surface is contaminated with a stomach bug, what their sudden stomach ache is, whether that food has expired and will make them sick… that list goes on.

However, when an episode happens, many emets will start with panic and anxiety, and then fall into symptoms of depression. Why? Well, imagine if every time your loved one got sick you ran from them; you left them there alone. Then, even after they feel better, you struggle to hold them, be near them or even stay at the house with them. You think every stomach growl, every moan or awkward pause is a signal that they are sick and you avoid them like they are a literal plague.

After this happening many, many times, you begin to be down on yourself. Why can’t you handle a little stomach bug? What if your child or other family member thinks you don’t care for me? Or that by them being sick they are making you not like them?

While an emet with depression may not feel like they can’t achieve their dreams, they may become stuck. They may begin to feel they will never conquer this phobia, that they are doomed to struggle forever. That, to any emet, is the worst feeling of hopelessness.

We wouldn’t wish this phobia on our worst enemy, because the amount of ways it impacts daily life is too long to explain. And despite being a very common phobia, there is very little research to help licensed professionals accurately treat a complex panic disorder like emetophobia.

I once read a book that was supposed to let you get inside an emet’s head. I picked it up, hoping that it would give me answers to why I was the way I was. It was the first book I had ever found about emetophobia, so I splurged on it. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations.

In a sense, it did actually let me know some important things, and that was many emets do struggle with depression. The entire book was stories of women who were battling with depression because they just couldn’t handle the constant panic, anxiety and emotional toll that emetophobia was producing.

I also am active in a lot of support groups, and many of them, even if they may not be serious, are constantly saying that they no longer what to live this life. They are tired of fighting against themselves and the unseen, they wish they could end it all. I am not in a position to tell them that how they are feeling is not justified, because I know how hard it is to fight with your own mind every day. However, there are always solutions to problems if you believe you can find them.

Anxiety and depression are serious battles by themselves, but when you have both of them together and have other issues that amplify it it can be even harder. If you are concerned you could be depressed or are considering harming yourself, please seek help. Counseling and the proper medication can help you overcome your fears, worries and depressed state – or at least manage it so it’s not as difficult.

I believe that with the right mindset, anything is possible. Don’t let your mind have control over you any longer – if you want to make change, you CAN change. You just have to take that first step and believe it’s possible.

Until next time, Internet.

If you would like to email Chelsie, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to youmeandemet@gmail.com. She says, “I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. Also, feel free to join our Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.”

Image Credit: pinky swear by cherylholt, CC0 Public Domain.