California, I’m Coming For Ya

After a few horrible days of mourning the loss of Southern California in my life, I have decided to do something about it. In session today, I made a plan with my therapist on what I need to do in order to get back to California.

I’ve got myself on a one-year plan.

Hopefully in one year I will be back in either Los Angeles or San Diego. I plan on getting a job, saving up my money, and getting healthy so that I won’t just be able to live in SoCal, but I’ll be able to thrive.

My goal for 2019 is no self-harm. I made a list of coping skills that I plan on practicing this year and beyond. I want to return to CA with no new scars as of right now.

Some exciting news is that part of my plan involves applying for graduate school! I’ve made the decision to go back to school for mental health counseling, and I’m terrified and so excited to see where this journey will take me.

I also plan on figuring out ways to incorporate the SoCal vibe into my current environment as some added motivation and comfort while I wait. I’m lucky that I’ve found somewhere I call my home, while it’s unfortunate that I discovered it after I left.

California, I can’t wait to get back to you!

Happy New Year!

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I found myself missing California more than I have since I moved back to Tennessee. While I know I should be celebrating that I survived the hardest year of my life so far, I can’t help but wonder where I’d be if I had stayed in LA.

Though I am sad, I now know what my goals for 2019 are: find my way back to Southern California. I know I want to be in a better place when I return, so I’m going to fight like hell to live in accordance with my values of independence and ambition. While I recognize it may not happen this year, I will still focus on what I need to do to get back eventually.

TW (next paragraph only): self-harm

One of my goals of this year is no self-harm at all in 2019. Getting that tattoo was a big deal for me; I haven’t self-harmed since, nor have I wanted to. I mentioned to a friend that getting that tattoo was the best thing I could’ve done because it provided me with enough of the sensation SH would give me, but instead of a scar it gave me something beautiful. I was scared I would regret getting my first tattoo, but in fact, I feel quite the opposite. I can’t wait to get my next one. Another goal I have for 2019 is whenever I feel the urge to self-harm, I transfer one dollar into my tattoo fund. Because I now know of a more productive way to mark up my body.

In 2019 I want to spend more time on photography, the blog, and getting healthy. I want to work towards grad school, and not let my fear of what others think impact the decisions I make. I want to follow my heart and my gut; no one else can tell me what I feel in my own gut.

2019 shows a lot of promise for me. It gives me the opportunity to start fresh and really work on myself. I grew so much in 2018- it was easily the hardest year of my life so far. And look at me! I survived! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me this year, and I am so grateful to myself and my friends, family, and mental health professionals that I am still alive to see this year. I am so glad I have the chance to continue my story.

Happy New Year!

 

My Story is Not Over

Well, folks. I took a leap.

Last night I got a tattoo. My first tattoo!

I couldn’t wait to share this with you; this is something I’ve wanted for a long time and thanks to some Christmas money, I was able to make it happen! Merry Christmas to me!

Many people have heard of Project Semicolon; the organization that was founded to prevent and raise awareness about suicide. The movement began by explaining “a semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

Obviously, the idea of Project Semicolon means a lot to me, as someone who has struggled with self-harm and suicidality for quite a while. I’ve had close friends of mine attempt suicide, and I know of far too many who have succeeded in their attempt. I am lucky that I am still alive, and when I relapse in self-harm it helps to remind myself that my story has not ended, but instead, a new chapter has begun.

This is why I got the semicolon tattoo. Because I have chosen life. I have decided that my story is not over.

The other night I was watching A Star is Born, *spoilers ahead* and one of the characters mentions a suicide attempt at the age of thirteen. That’s when I knew I had to get the tattoo, because far too many end their lives before it even begins. It breaks my heart, even as someone who struggles with the very same thing. I remember when I was in the hospital for self-harm and they brought in a very young girl who had just attempted. All I wanted to do was get out of my bed and go give her a hug and tell her that her story is not over. As Lady Gaga says, it gets better. It sure as hell doesn’t seem like it a lot of the time, but I promise that it does.

I got the semicolon on the arm that I’ve bruised and cut…the arm that has the most scars, that has seen all the battles I’ve started with myself.

I am so grateful to be alive. That is what this tattoo represents for me. My decision to keep fighting.

 

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Just Your Friendly Neighborhood Reminder that Gender is a Construct

Do you feel like binding your breasts today? Cuz I do.

What about painting your toenails? Me, too!

This is just a friendly PSA that gender is fluid, and just because society tells you that men have to dress like men and women have to dress like women, you don’t have to abide by that.

Wear heels, or boxers, or chest binders (please be safe), or makeup, no matter your gender identity! Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

I need to hear this every so often, and I believe you should, too.

Love always,

K

Introducing #DBTDay

Hello everyone!

I’ve fallen off the wagon of my #MentalHealthMonday posts, so I decided to revamp that, and add something new!

Once a week, I will explore a DBT skill on the blog! For those who don’t know, DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is used by many treatment centers and therapists across the country. It is a cognitive behavior therapy developed by the extraordinary Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.. As its name suggests, DBT is focused on dialectics; balancing opposites, and using “both-and” ways of thinking rather than “either-or.”

There are four sections of DBT: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each section offers unique skills to help you stay in the present moment, tolerate stressful situations (without making things any worse), manage intense emotions, and communicate effectively in relationships.

In an effort to raise awareness about DBT, and increase my own personal use of the skills, I will strive to post about one skill per week. If anyone has heard of DBT and would like to request a particular skill, or if you are interested in any of the four models mentioned above, just send me an email from my Contact page.

I can’t wait to refresh my memory of DBT; these are skills that saved my life. I hope they will have some effect on you, too.

Bouncing Back

Well, I’m back at day one after my relapse and feeling good! I know now that I don’t want to relapse again, and I’m going to work harder than ever to achieve success in recovery from self-harm.

I start my new job in less than a week, and I have just started a Perfectionism Group on Facebook to continue working on challenging my perfectionism! Lately, I have been taking a lot of photos, and there are a lot that I find imperfect in some way, only to be told that folks actually love the photos.

That being said, I am going to throw a photo on this post, as well as link you to my 500px profile, and my Perfectionism Group on Facebook! Feel free to peruse/join either or both!

Happy Tuesday!

-K

 

500px: https://500px.com/kelsgillyphotography

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1839577182756698/

relapse

trigger warning: self-harm

 

it’s hard to admit, but i’ve relapsed in self-harm.

Sasha found a weak spot and she took hold of me. I didn’t want to admit that she’s been running the show lately, but she has. And when I was all alone, she found me in the darkness and whispered dirty lies in my ear. She tricked me into giving up 10 weeks of no self-harm. Now I am back at square one; hour one with no self-harm.

I know I shouldn’t have let her in. I have ways of shutting her up. But she was so loud and alluring, I didn’t want to use my skills. I didn’t have a frozen orange to squeeze, and the rubber bands seemed too far away. I didn’t care about doing something else. So I gave in to her.

I have been really proud of how far I made it without self-injury. Even when I went to the hospital I managed to stay clean. A good friend of mine reminded me that what I did is now in the past, I shouldn’t dwell on it. But I should remember this feeling, of guilt, embarrassment, and shame the next time I want to hurt myself. Because it’s not worth it. No matter what Sasha tells me.

 

To find out more about who Sasha is, click here.

10 Weeks is a Lot of Weeks

Today marks 10 weeks free of self-harm! I can’t believe I made it this far; some days it seems impossible, but I keep pressing on.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the ER and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for the next few days. While it wasn’t super helpful, it reminded me of the tools I have, and reminded me what I had to live for. Also, I managed not to relapse in self-harm, which was a huge win for me.

It also gave me insight into the field I’m now pursuing, and made me realize that a hospital is where I want to be working. Not only that, but getting a job in this field is great incentive for me not to self-harm. I don’t want to be hypocritical by helping others who are struggling with self-harm if I’m secretly doing it, too.

That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle. On my darkest days, when depression rears its ugly head, I wish I had something to relieve the nothingness that seems to fill me to the brim. But I don’t want to ruin my streak. After all, 10 weeks is a lot of weeks.

Breaking News! (don’t worry, it’s good!)

It is with insurmountable joy and gratitude that I’m announcing I have just accepted a position at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute as a Psychiatric Technician. This job is a dream come true, and I’m hoping it will lead me to more work in the mental health field. I’ve been exploring careers in the mental health field off and on since I was bullied in middle school and developed a relationship with my school counselor. I used to want to grow up to be just like her, and I’m so thrilled to finally be making some moves in that direction. I am equally as thrilled that the job is located here in Nashville, so I can still be with my family!

I want to thank the mental health professionals who have taught me and inspired me; it is because of you that I aspire to work in this field. Thank you so much for everything you do.