“I Jumped Off the Golden Gate Bridge”

I found this amazing story about a man, named Kevin Hines, that shared his story with mental illness and a suicide attempt. He was one of few survivors to have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived to tell his story.

I love how he made a point to say he felt like a burden. I don’t think that people who don’t have a mental illness understand that piece of it. Recovery is possible and this man is living proof.

Parenting and Mental Illness

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One of the most difficult challenges I face is being a single mother in recovery from BPD, aka emotionally sensitive. I often struggle with managing my emotions and leading by good example to my two little ones, ages 8 and 6, not to mention helping manage their own emotions too. I used to have mental break downs over the thought of my kids getting the same emotional struggles that I do. Prior to recovery, I prayed and hoped my kids didn’t end up like me but over the course of my recovery I see my strength, my resiliency, my positivity, and my optimistic perspective and then I realized that my kids will see all of that. They see the calmness in me, the mindfulness, the mom who focuses on self-care and the person that doesn’t give up.
My kids have pushed me to better myself; they are the reason I get out of bed and fight this battle everyday. We go on adventures together, hop in the car and drive somewhere, sit outside enjoying nature. We talk about our emotions together, knowing full well that emotions are not bad and we can talk about how we feel, calmly. I truly believe that our children’s behavior is driven by their emotions. So the best way to help our children to behave is to teach them how to manage their feelings. With that being said, anyone that knows my kids knows they don’t have temper tantrums or break downs. Sure, they get upset, mad, sad, cry but their emotions aren’t out of control and they are learning how to manage those feelings in a healthy way, like I do and that alone inspires me to keep going. Being a single parent is difficult. Being a single parent facing a mental health condition is a far greater challenge. If you struggle with this and want someone to talk to, DM me.
I’m going to be adding a huge portion to my blog on parenting with a mental illness for all those single parents out there that struggle like I do. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I help teach my children how to manage their feelings.
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Friendships In Recovery

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Especially when you’re in recovery. It’s important to have a solid support group around you. If your “friends” don’t support you or help you through the hard times then maybe consider taking a step back like I did and continue to do. Maybe they don’t understand your journey or difficult times. They don’t need to. Just be you and continue on with those who do support you and understand. Surround yourself around people who inspire you and motivate you through recovery.

I recently went through my personal Instagram and Facebook and deleted a few hundred people. Not because they are bad people or I don’t get along with them, but simply because it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality of those friendships. Not to mention the amount of negativity out there on social media, I have to keep my environment positive. I keep those around me who are there for me, motivate me, inspire me and support me. Thank you to all that do.

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My Experience with Borderline Personality Disorder

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Internal Borderline

The 9 Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder explained as experienced by me in an “internal” sense. A lot of these do not apply to me anymore due to my hard work with recovery but I sometimes struggle with a couple of them.
  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5)

Sometimes I would have frantic thoughts about how I’m going to handle, manipulate and control certain situations that have not happened yet. During an episode, I can but not very often get myself very worked up with facts and detailed research about situations in reaction to something that has not happened, causing myself to get extremely upset.

  1. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

The love-hate relationships, oh yes!  I can feel the intensity inside me just thinking about it; feeling so loved, extremely happy and cared about to suddenly feeling forgotten, neglected, or disappointed.  I’m feeling that way right now and I’m not even in a relationship. This can happen for me with coworkers or friends, even family members. Usually I don’t say anything because I’m aware that it’s not necessarily something that others are doing, it’s just how I’m feeling or it’s just a part of the disorder. In my past relationships before I was diagnosed, the intensity was bad. The break downs over nothing, really. Just because they wouldn’t return a text message or they were dealing with something and I felt neglected, it all turned into… “I hate you” I never want to see you again to – Wait, don’t leave me, I need you, desperately. That happened far more than I care to admit.

  1. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

I was always chameleon like. I adapted and identified myself with whoever I was around or associating with. I never had a personality or a sense of who KAYLA was. If I was asked what I liked, I would tell them something they would want to hear or something someone else I was hanging out with, liked. If I liked what my friends liked then I wouldn’t feel alone or different and we would all get along better. I was easily convinced that others ideas and thoughts were always right and I was always wrong. The idea of thinking for myself or working on my own personality was terrifying. I was a follower, I needed decisions and ideas and thoughts to be made up for me. I was scared of being me, scared of being different. I had no sense of self, or what I liked. NOW, I can’t tell you how much I love being different. At 27 years old, I finally came into my own. I  finally figuring out what I like and don’t like. I discovered a huge sense of self and it is the most liberating feeling. BE YOU!

  1. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5

Promiscuous sex, alcohol and spending money. If I didn’t feel loved by someone, I cheated or slept with someone just to feel something, anything. There wasn’t even any real connection with the person, I just wanted to feel wanted during times that I was feeling so empty and alone. I truly thought that my worth was defined by someone loving or not loving me.  I would drink often, almost every night just to not have to deal with my problems. I would spend money that I didn’t have like nobody’s business, put myself in extreme amount of debt and lost a lot of valuable things around me just because shopping was what I thought, therapeutic. NOW – I will never put myself in these situations ever again. Maybe its maturity or recovery but I’m entirely grossed out by the thought of informal sex or drinking myself to sleep to not deal with my problems. If I feel empty or alone, I embrace it and sleep it off or I will surround myself with friends. If I’m dealing with an issue or problem in life, I will face it head on and not drink at all until things are resolved. I still struggle with spending, but I’ve come a long way.

  1. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.

I have never self-harmed or tried to commit suicide. I have had thoughts of not wanting to live anymore because life became too painful. Yes, I’ve thought about ways I could end my life but never attempted them. If I didn’t have my two beautiful children, things probably would have been different. They are my life and I can’t and won’t walk away from them. They are the reason I get out of bed every day.

  1. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

I’m not sure if people can accurately see how intense my mood is and how quick it changes. Some say they can but often times I try to keep it to myself unless I see it affecting somebody else. I get irritable and depressed a lot. I used to have intense anger but I’ve come a long way with it. My mood swings or episodes can last from a couple hours to a couple days depending on the trigger. Self-awareness and realization is most important, once I realize I’m having an episode it is so much easier for me to control my actions. Sometimes it takes a stupid reaction to something to realize I’m not doing okay but luckily with a lot of work I can catch it before I react. My episodes happened more often a couple years ago than they do now, In part due to medication and better understanding of the illness. If I miss one day of my meds, I will be in a dark place within 24 hours and it’s tough to get out of because I blame myself for causing it, albeit unintentionally.

  1. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

YUP! Sometimes I feel so empty I can’t feel emotions. I can’t cry, I can’t feel anger, or sadness, I can’t feel sympathetic towards others, I’m not happy or unhappy, I just simply don’t feel a damn thing. I walk around like a robot. This one rarely ever happens for me but when it does, it can be bad. I have nothing inside me to give or care. I have no filter or motivation to care about anyone including myself. I feel useless and helpless. Empty.

  1. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

Oh boy. I can’t explain how many things I’ve thrown and broken because my anger was so out of control. The name calling, and berating. I had and sometimes still do have a short fuse. I grew up watching it and living with it so I became it. I didn’t know how to control it or work on it. Now with therapy, I can’t remember the last time I reacted on anger, maybe 2 years ago? I still get angry, that’s an emotion we can get rid of, but I can control it much better than ever before. My kids used to see me get so angry and yell. Yelling solves nothing. Now if my kids are around, I will explain to them that for whatever reason, mommy is feeling angry so she is going to put her headphones in for a few minutes to calm down. They see me reacting to anger in a positive way rather than by me yelling, screaming and throwing things. I don’t want my kids to turn out that way, I don’t want them to see what I saw growing up and because of recovery – they won’t anymore.

  1. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms.

I dissociate in my nightmares at night over traumatic experiences in my childhood but nothing severe or in the middle of the day. I’ve never been paranoid or had delusions.

What this means.

To all my fellow mental health bloggers, please check out Inner Light Legion’s blog!! Here is his wonderful speech from last Thursday at Sac State University for the Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental illness. He did such an incredible job, I’m so proud of him. 🙂

INNER LIGHT LEGION

I was asked to speak this past week for a walk that brought awareness to mental heath, mental illness, and suicide prevention. When the coordinator asked me I jumped at the opportunity but I really didn’t know what to speak about. I asked her is there anything specific you want me to speak about, after a solid week of trying to come up with to talk about. She replied through email and said give a little description of what this means to you. She continued by saying what does suicide prevention mean to you? What does mental illness mean? Why is this important to you? I sat for another couple of days thinking this over. And I kept asking myself,”what does this mean”:

This means we have all come together. This means we have all come together as one. This means we have come together as one to bring light…

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Anxiety

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A fellow blogger and follower of mine has all great content regarding anxiety, I highly encourage those who struggle with anxiety, fear, panic, and/or agoraphobia to check out his website Time For Anxiety. I personally struggle with social anxiety disorder (SAD) at times and it can be difficult for me to get through the tough times in social settings. This fellow blogger was kind enough to share some of his views about anxiety with me that really helped me, as I’m sure it will for you too. Below are a few words from him:

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Introduction to anxiety – The anxious mind is a tornado of fear based thoughts that seem to be never ending.  A brain loaded with anxiety can create disaster out of the innocuous.  It is important to remember that these thoughts, feelings, and sensations are all a creation of the mind, and not a result of a person’s environment.  People with anxiety may believe that their mental discomfort comes from their parents, their environment, a mean boss, or a hidden health emergency.  All of these excuses are wrong.  Anxiety may be enhanced by these reasons, but it is all a creation of the individual.
There is good news.  Anxiety is one of the most easily treatable conditions in the wide world of mental health issues.  I know it sounds unbelievable, but it is true.  The part that is most enticing is that medication is not needed for a person to transform from an anxious thinker to someone who can handle any situation or thought that is thrown their way.  Medication for anxiety does help to calm a person down who finds themselves in the depths of an anxious episode.  This is good, but when the medication fades away the anxiety will come back.  It is an endless cycle of anxiety, pills, anxiety, pills.  The medication is merely a band aid.
Every person has within themselves all of the tools necessary to confront their anxiety and take their lives back.  It is important to remember that everyone has anxiety, but those who are not affected by their anxiety have the ability to not give into the fear.  Anxiety is important.  It is a mental process that has evolved over time to protect humans against predators.  Sadly, the anxious brain was molded during the times when people had to worry about dangerous animals.  We still have the anxiety, but the fear it used to react to perfectly is no longer a part of our daily lives.  We now worry about our health, speaking in public, getting a job, and plenty of other life events that are scary, but in no way life-threatening.
Fight or flight is something everyone with anxiety experiences.  When faced with anxiety we can choose to stare it in the face, or we can choose to run from it.  I’m here to tell you that running from your anxious thoughts only gives them more strength.  It is frightening whenever your heart feels like it is going to pound out of your chest, or your mind starts creating the most frightening of thoughts.  Those events feel real.  Those sensations can give the person feeling them the sense that their world is crashing down, but what happens a few minutes after those sensations appear?  They go away.  They always go away.  The mind and body will always find their way back into a normal flow, perhaps a little bit shaken, but closer to normal than a few moments ago.
Anxiety is real.  Fear is real.  Both anxiety and fear will be with all of us forever.  The key is to accept these emotions as a part of life that everyone experiences.  Let these feelings in, take them for what they really are, and believe that you will not let those emotions control your life anymore.

Bullying

I’ve done things at the age of 23 that I’m not proud of, somewhat similar to Monica’s. I’ve had horrible names written on bathroom stalls about me, the whispering, the shit talking, people looking directly into my eyes asking me how I can show my face in public, some family members and friends have bullied me on Facebook and stopped inviting me around. Someone harassed me for months stalking my every move making me feel unsafe to walk to my car alone, texting me from four different untraceable phone numbers a day, knowing what I was wearing and what my plans were every day and even talking about my children.

I was, at a time, left feeling completely alone wanting to end my life. To top it all off, during this time trying to seek help through therapy I was diagnosed with a mental illness that I was suffering with for years prior and the stigma associated with it didn’t help, people called me “crazy”, some people didn’t believe me, or said it’s just made up for attention.

The lack of support, compassion, and empathy from others at a time I was at my lowest was awful. I made mistakes, we all have but nobody deserves to be bullied online or offline. You have no idea what internal battles people are facing. It can take just one person, or in my case, two little people, to help keep us moving forward. Please be kind to others.

It has taken me time and effort to accept the truth that my story is unparalleled and powerful. It has taken me time to finally forgive myself, to stand up for myself and to take back my narrative and to realize that I play a necessary character in the narrative of those around me, as do you.  This is my story, I’m not ashamed to share it.

“It’s time. It’s time to take back my narrative.”

Mental Health Awareness

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Created my first t-shirt for MLO. On the back has a list of mental health conditions to support mental health awareness. I also ordered a few hundred awareness bracelets. Big things are happening this year, it’s going to be great! I will have an online store set up soon for those of you interested. I haven’t been blogging much in part due to preparing more for upcoming events in the Sacramento area, setting up booths to share my story and help others. May is mental health awareness month and Minds Like Ours has a lot planned. Lets stop the stigma and raise awareness!

If any of my fellow bloggers have shirts they have created, please share! I’d love to invest in more shirts to help support and raise awareness and also get your name out there too. 🙂

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Staying Positive

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How does one stay positive in today’s world?
You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind. Remove the negative things in your life. Negative habits, negative people, negative thoughts about yourself and others. It may seem tough at first but I can assure you, it makes life so much better. I used to brew beer with my ex of three years, it was fun and challenging until the drinking got heavier. My health was taking a turn, and my moods changed with it. It wasn’t a healthy atmosphere for me and I wanted to eliminate it from my life all together. I wanted healthier hobbies that didn’t consist being cooped up in a garage with a group of people trying to start up their new business- great for them, but it wasn’t for me. I ended the relationship to focus on me and my kids. I got rid of an unhealthy, negative and toxic relationship to be healthier and happier. It’s hard to stay positive when you have negative people or habits in your life. You have to put yourself and your mental health first, focus on the now and be mindful. Go after what you want and don’t let negative people, or negative thoughts stop you. Remove those who gossip too much, or talk badly about others. Turn your negative thoughts about yourself into positive thoughts, love yourself and others. Surround yourself around people who challenge you to rise higher, people who inspire you, and make you a better person.