Why Sharing Your Story Is Good For Healing

Everyone Has A Story

Over the past (almost) year, I have shared my story. It is not a pretty one, and that is something I knew from the beginning. It hasn’t always been easy. After I finished writing Love Through Bipolar, I cried. That was a hard post to write, but it needed to be written. It’s become one of my favorite blog posts. I think it’s because there is so much emotion and love behind it.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for years. I was a teen when things started going a bit downhill- I have posts dedicated to this. The Journey Through PPD is about the time after Julian was born and I had a battle with Post-Partum Depression. A Letter to my Anxiety and Depressionis just that- a letter to what holds me back from feeling things as I should or doing things as I would like to.

But yet, I still didn’t see the point of sharing my story. I didn’t think it would help anyone or change anything. My life changed again right in front of me as my marriage fell apart and I started drinking heavily, but I was in no shape to talk about it. Everything fell apart the day Jake died, and the aftermath was nowhere near easy. Thankfully, I went into therapy. My therapist helped me develop coping skills and tools to be able to rebuild my life.

Rachel once asked me how I could make something good out of losing Jake. This was a hard question to answer at first. I had no idea how this would happen, because losing him has been one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. It took a while, but I decided on two things: volunteering for the American Federation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and creating this blog.

Going on A Mission

Sharing your story can be rough, and that’s normal. Everyone decides to do so at their own time- some start at the beginning of their journey, some wait a while, like I did. If I had, most of my blog posts wouldn’t have made sense- I was far too drunk to be creative. What makes someone want to tell their story?

  1. Helping others. This is a big one for me. Helping others helps me deal with my loss and helps me stay on track with my sobriety. I know I am far from the only person that has lost someone they loved to suicide. This is a sad fact. I’m also not the only mother out here trying to stay sober. Being a mom who doesn’t drink is not easy these days, especially when there are wine jokes everywhere and kids are stressful. Telling my story of getting and staying sober reminds me of how far I have come and hopefully gives others hope that they can get there too.. I have read a lot of comments thanking me for telling my story of coming back from losing Jake, and it does help a lot, especially on the bad days. It helps me continue Jake’s love of helping others. This is something else that helps me heal.
  2. Helping yourself- processing can come in many ways. I wouldn’t have been able to start this blog much before I did- August 2017 was almost two years after Jake’s death. I needed that time to heal and figure my life out. It wasn’t the easiest process. I did write in journals that became the beginning of this blog. As you write, sometimes you realize things that you hadn’t thought of until then. Writing allows me to let out the things that I cannot say for some reason or another, and this is common in many writers. I’ve been able to look back some of my earlier blog posts and realize how far I’ve come and where my thoughts have changed. This is a good thing.
  3. Marking milestones as you go through healing. When you are deep in grief or in active addiction, you don’t see milestones. You barely see the next day. As of July 1, I’ll have 18 months sobriety. That’s something I wouldn’t consider in 2016. I thought I would just keep drinking forever.

If you decide to tell your story, please take care of yourself. Take time to unplug if you need it. Disconnect from the internet, take a walk, listen to music, whatever you need. It will refresh you to keep moving.

Pics courtesy of Pinterest

5 Unhealthy Triggers

Many of us have certain things that just don’t work for us.

What can we do to fix the triggers that can worsen our mental health issues?

The Triggers

  1. Toxic people. I am not a fan of toxic people. My Facebook settings and block list reflect this in a very big way. In my last therapy session, Rachel said that she was very proud of how I have been able to kick a ton of people out of my life and leave them there. What do I mean by toxic people? People who are consistently negative (nobody is full of sunshine every day, but I’m talking people that are always unhappy and/or never happy for you, put you down, even if sneakily, etc.), spread rumors about you, aren’t there for you when you need them, and so on. If you look hard enough, there are most likely toxic people lurking somewhere in your life. Everyone has a person or two. When you find them- cut them out. It may not be easy, but it is sometimes necessary for your mental stability.
  2. Lack of support. This is a big one. When you don’t have supportive people in your life, you’re more likely to fall into a bad spot and/or stay there. This can mean a therapist, a friend or family member. It’s a lonely feeling to not have support because it is easy to feel that no one cares about you when that is far from the truth. This issue can be changed by reaching out for support when you are not in a bad situation- looking for a therapist, talking to a friend or someone else you trust about a plan for the next time you realize (or they do) that you may be having a problem.
  3. Lack of self-care. I can’t express enough how important it is to take care of yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually, if that is something you are into. If you don’t take care of yourself physically, it will show emotionally and the same the other way around. Taking care of yourself makes you feel better. When you feel good physically, you feel good on the inside. I like to walk outside when I can and even though it tires me out, I still feel good because my body needs it. When we stop taking care of ourselves, we can see the change in the mirror and feel it inside. Changes in self-care can be small at first, but well worth it.
    4. Drugs and/or alcohol. Either of these can really change how you think- in small or large doses. Alcohol certainly changed the way I thought, but that’s what I was seeking. I wanted to forget what I was thinking about. I wanted to be able to forget my pain. I had forgotten that the pain wouldn’t go away forever and that when the hangover went away, everything I was trying to get out of my mind would come back. It always did. Facing the pain of losing Jake and having to live the rest of my life without him was awful but it is something I was going to have to deal with. As of this post, I am 16 months sober. I have faced that pain, and am dealing much better with it. I will always have days in which I miss him terribly but that is something I have learned to accept and deal with. Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol can lead to a lot of other things that a lot of people don’t want- jail, hospitalization, rehab, or a combo of all of these. These can also, in some cases, trigger episodes of psychiatric issues, or make them worse. Some substances can be stopped without professional assistance, like marijuana, but if you are heavily abusing substances like alcohol, opiates, or benzodiazepines, please go to a facility. Trying to detox yourself can be dangerous- you can die from the complications.

5. Lack of outlets for creativity or fun. Adulting is rough. Bills, work and kids can take up your time. Being creative or finding something to do with your spare time can be a way to tune the world out when you need a break. For example, Matthew and his brother have begun to flip houses- buying houses, fixing them up and reselling them. They get to do something they know how to do (they get help when needed) and get to hang out in the process. The money isn’t bad either. Weirdly, Matthew says it’s relaxing for him because he really likes doing it. When you don’t have anything to do that you enjoy, life can get really boring fast. That can drag you down. I think this is why adult kickball leagues have become so popular. It’s fun and brings back memories from childhood.

Not everyone has these triggers and others may have different ones. These are just a few that I’ve noticed.

What are the things that trigger your mental health issues? How do you change the path?

Pics are from Unsplash

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