ANNOUNCEMENTS & EXPOSURES!

Hello beautiful people!

Today was a very big day for me! A lot of people saw I made multiple Instagram Live videos to share some exciting announcements that I’ve got for y’all! I figured folks who don’t have Instagram would want to hear the news, too, so here you go!

First of all, drumroll…

I’m starting a podcast!

Yes, you read that correctly! I’m putting myself out there and am starting a podcast that will also be titled Putting Down the Rope. I plan on branching off of this blog and diving more into mental health and its relationship to art. I will be interviewing guests, accepting stories from folks who would prefer to remain anonymous (and I will read the stories on the podcast), and featuring music/poetry/writing/art in any auditory medium (and will even link to visual art in the description of the podcast).

If you would like to be involved, PLEASE send me an email at PuttingDownTheRope@gmail.com. I will always be available to chat, bounce ideas around, and hear your story. This podcast is about you as much as it is about me.

Now, second of all…

I am raising money to fund my new project that merges mental health awareness with art! You can see the inspiration for my project here.

Basically, I want to show others that art can be used as a coping skill for things like self harm, poor body image, recovery from eating disorders or addictions, and beyond. The concept is that my subjects paint their bodies on parts of themselves they find the most vulnerable, or parts of themselves they struggle with. For me, it was self-harm. I knew using paint would be a more effective skill than actually self harming, and it actually had a better result in the long run.

My overall goal is to show others that they are seen, they are beautiful– because I think folks with mental illnesses often get overlooked or don’t think they’re special or beautiful– and above all, they are not alone. 

The problem is, I currently don’t have the key ingredient to this project: a camera!

So, I started a GoFundMe! My anxiety was very much telling me not to publish that, but here it is. I need help to make this dream a reality. I plan on buying a super cheap DSLR and the lens my friend recommended for portraits. I believe wholeheartedly in this project, and I think it will take off.

I would so appreciate any donation you can give. You can find the link at https://www.gofundme.com/cameraphoto-series.

Thirdly…

I made today’s Instagram live videos an added exposure and I played a song I recorded on live video. Un-flippin’-real.

Those who know me are very aware that I hate singing in public, or in front of anyone, really. Yet, today, I did the thing I have been most terrified of for a many, many years now. And it feels awesome. Just had to share that with the blog. 🙂 #WarriorPrincess

Lastly…

I’ve had some major mental health setbacks lately. And here I am, coming back swinging. I am so excited about life and what life has to offer, and I want to inspire others to find that spark, that zest for life, too!

I’m telling you, when you put down that rope, the world opens up. I can’t wait to share all that will follow.

Endless love to all!

K

Allowing Failure

“You become a writer by writing, there is no other way. So, do it. Do it more. Do it better. Fail. Fail better.” -Margaret Atwood

I haven’t been blogging for a while because I’m working on a larger project in my free time. It’s time I put myself out there and allow myself to fail.

This is the largest project I’ve ever worked on and it’s pretty daunting and hugely exhilarating. I hope to share it with you eventually.

As always, thanks for reading.

-K

judgment police

I’ve been having judgments lately about myself, and my poetry, in particular. Nothing seems to measure up to the standards I have set for myself. The content– what I have to say– doesn’t seem worthy of publication. In fact, I believe it only encourages judgments from others.

The last poem I wrote, unnamed 1.49, was one that I have many judgments about. Specifically, the topic: someone’s hands. I don’t know what it is about hands that I love so much, but I wanted to try and write about it. After all, the blog is all about me challenging my perfectionism. So, I posted it. And as soon as I did, I started beating myself up.

But the thing is, that’s not what art is about. It’s not out there for the sole purpose of being judged by others. It’s for you, the creator, the artist.

I don’t know if that poem was any good. I do know two things, however: that it came from me, which makes it the right thing to post here, and that it is imperfect. Nothing is perfect.

I’m going to challenge myself more and not call the judgment police each time I have an idea that I want to explore in my writing. This blog is for me, not you. I’m just privileged you would want to come on this crazy ride with me.

So, thanks for reading and please be sure to challenge perfectionism in your own life!

when you put down the rope

Good afternoon, readers. Happy Saturday!

So, do you remember when I told you why I named this blog “Putting Down the Rope”? (No shame, if not. Read it here.)

Well, since treatment ended I’ve been feeling much more like myself. I’m sure recovery and the right cocktail of meds is doing the trick, but it’s so relieving to feel more productive, creative, etc. It feels like I’m putting down the rope.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an art installation at my friends’ art co-op, Holy Unlikely. It was a gathering of some really amazing people, both extremely talented and exceedingly kind. I brought some of my photographs/poems to display in the visual art/gallery-style portion of the evening; something I would have never done a month ago. But now, I wanted to display it. My self-doubt was no longer shrouding my consciousness and I was proud to display the more vulnerable parts of myself. (Recognize the work?)

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My unnamed collection, which I plan on expanding into a series. Keep your eyes peeled.

Later on we arrived at the performance portion of the evening– open mic style–  where anyone and everyone were encouraged to sign up to share music, performance art, poetry, random thoughts, etc. I already knew I was going to abstain from participating in this part of the show; I was perfectly content being invisible in the audience. The last time I said I was going to do an open mic night, I ended up hiding in the bathroom when it was my turn. (I still can’t apologize enough to my friend who took the time to learn the song I planned on singing that night…I owe you one, Skyler.)

But last night was different. I felt safe. I felt comfortable. And I was surrounded by people who were baring their souls, just like I wanted to.

You see, art got me through some of the worst times. If it weren’t for this blog, I don’t know if I would be this far along on the road to recovery. It carries me when I can’t lift a leg to walk, it flies me into the clouds when I’m elated.

The memory of this feeling is what made me decide to share the art that got me through some of the hardest times of my life with a group of mostly strangers. I read three of my poems. I didn’t stutter, choke on nothing, or shake so badly it looked like I was having a seizure. And, most importantly, I didn’t hide in the bathroom when they called my name. I told everyone I have an eating disorder, and got applause when I mentioned I discharged from treatment. I read the poem that helped me realize the staff at clinic knew what they were doing even if I thought they didn’t. I read about love, I read about feeling invisible. You can’t take that away from me. Neither can Sasha.

Afterwards, the strangers, who I suppose weren’t strangers after all, came up to me to thank me or share their opinion. One person came up to me and told me they were proud of me and gave me a hug.

The thing is, I feel like shit most days. I’m warring with that rope most days, unable to believe what I have to say or create makes any difference in the world. But yesterday was not most days.

Yesterday I stood up in front of a crowd and delivered three poems into a microphone. My first public performance.

When you put down the rope you can live your life worth living.

Art is subjective, it’s meant to be shared. Art helps me exist in the world. My wise mind knew this enough to allow me to put down the rope, and walk to the microphone- raw hands and all.

 

 

 

Self-Harm vs. Authenticity

*Trigger warning: Self-harm*

 

 

Well, it’s time for me to out myself. I’ll do it AA style: Hello, my name is ____ and I am a self-harmer.

And I am working on recovery.

It’s difficult to admit to the f*cked up things I’ve felt or thought in my life. But I know now that hurting myself will not make things better for me. Maybe in the short term, but after that, people will just go back to living their own lives.

After a recent journey of self-discovery, I came to the realization that I hurt myself because I deeply want someone to notice me. Most of the time, I feel invisible. Unwanted, boring, the last person someone calls when they are looking for a good time. In my depressed mind, I convince myself that if I have a broken foot or a bruised and bloodied hand or a scar on my face, I will be more beautiful and, ultimately, more seen. To those of you who don’t struggle with mental health, I know you don’t understand. It’s a difficult thing to understand. Hell, sometimes I don’t even understand it. But my head does a great job of twisting the truth into lies that are nearly impossible to recognize. If it acts like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it must be a f*cking duck, right? Not in my head. I’m still learning that just because there’s a part of me that wants to beat myself senseless, doesn’t mean doing that is actually effective. Which is why I decided to write this post.

Earlier today, someone asked me if there was something that I’ve been wanting to blog about but have been too scared to write. Well, yes. There always is. But this one in particular is a big one. And I need to out Sasha. Because posting this will last a hell of a lot longer than any bruise or cut I could give myself. And maybe this way, I can stop being afraid and start being more authentic.

I don’t know if I’ll ever know or believe what it’s like to feel needed or wanted. Hopefully I will. But what I do know is that hurting myself will not get me the attention I desire. It won’t give me the love and connection I crave.

Earlier tonight I was having a tough time. We went on a meal outing in program, and I came really close to not showing up at all. I sat in the parking lot of the restaurant for a long time, crying, not understanding why I couldn’t just get up and go inside. Eventually, with the help of my therapist, I wiped my tears, pulled my hair up, and got out of my car. As soon as I walked in the restaurant I wished I had gone home. I felt all eyes on me. But I sat down at the end of table with everyone and stared at my hands, forcing my tears to retract back into my eyes. Within a few minutes I had a meal sitting in front of me, and I still hadn’t looked up from my lap. The conversation continued as it had before I was there, and I sat waiting for it to be over. But then, something happened.

I saw my friend stand up from her seat on the opposite end of the table and make her way towards me. I wondered if she was going to walk out the door like I wanted to, but she didn’t. She pulled out the chair across from me and sat down. I had been isolating myself. As much as I want people to see me, I want them to see the me that I want to present. Not the snotty, pale, broken me. And yet, here she was. Looking me in the eye. Asking me if I was ok. Willing to make that connection. And suddenly, I knew I could share myself with her, pain and all.

You see, even if I hate admitting it, I recognize that the attention I seek comes with authenticity. I can’t expect people to see me if I hide the parts of myself that I don’t like or am uncomfortable with. So, instead of creating the wrong kind of attraction by hurting myself, I’m publishing this post.

I don’t want this post to be misconstrued. I’m not looking for your pity, and I am certainly not begging for attention. What I crave isn’t superficial. I long for deep human connection. And I know that some of you reading this don’t know me very well, and I don’t want you to feel obligated to reach out to me. I’m doing fine. Just ask my therapist.

 

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when you’re lying on the bathroom floor
and you feel like giving up
don’t forget that there is at least one person
who will extend their hand
to help you stand back up
but they can’t reach out
if they don’t know where you are
it’s ok to let them see your heart
translucent through your skin
they will put their hand on your chest
and remind you that you are strong
tell them where you are
give them the opportunity to reach out their hand
they will come
they will help you up

 

-dedicated to the one and only train to my gilly

Finding Pride in the Progress

*TW: Self harm

I am discharging from UCSD’s Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research in three weeks and yesterday my dietician told me I’m under my admit weight. Meaning, I’ve lost weight since I started this program. So before I talk about my progress in program, let’s talk about how much that sucks.

Basically for the duration of program, I will be adding a fattening shake to each meal in a final ditch effort to get me to a restored weight. The thing about weight restoration is, not only does it mess with your already crappy body image, but the added volume to meals is incredibly uncomfortable. When you start an eating disorder program, it’s pretty uncomfortable for you and your GI system. You’re basically teaching your body how to eat again. I firmly believe that the closest friends you will ever make are in an ED program only because of how often we pass gas in front of each other in a desperate attempt to maintain a sliver of comfort in our guts. And, of course, nothing is quite as sobering as supervised bathroom visits. I feel bad for all the therapists in our program…they’ve heard more than they ever should. Bless their hearts. Long story short, I’m not looking forward to my body doing yet another adjustment to the volume of food I’m having to intake.

In other respects, I feel more ready to discharge than I ever have. It’s terrifying, but earlier this week I was able to get a glimpse of how much I’ve progressed in the four months I’ve been in treatment. Not just with eating, but with other urges.

A few nights ago, I was suddenly overcome with self harm urges. Instead of trying to handle it myself (which I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do) I reached out to my therapist (Nikki, remember her?!).  After some pretty low-key discussions about effectiveness and long term goals, I realized that it wasn’t going to be enough. I quickly told Nikki that I needed to use a TIPP skill because I was coming dangerously close to ruining the near 50-day streak of no self harm.

In short, TIPP is a DBT skill (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, for those unfamiliar). It stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and Paced Breathing. Basically, it’s a distress tolerance to get you down from a 10/10 emotional state. When I first learned about distress tolerance, I learned that anywhere from seven to a ten on the emotional scale was the “danger zone,” and a DT skill should be used to get below a seven. After that, you can begin using emotion regulation skills to continue managing the emotion that decided to go haywire.

Back to earlier in the week. I knew that I needed a shock to my system; everything was triggering me, from the walls and door frames that I wanted to hit my wrists against, to the dinner fork sitting next to me that made me wonder how sharp the tongs actually were. The most effective letter in the TIPP skill for me is T: Temperature. The goal is to shock your system enough to clear your head. It uses the dive reflex, referencing what your body experiences when diving into deep water. To enable submersion for a long period of time, heart rate slows and blood rushes to the major organs to keep them going. By using ice on your face, getting in a cold shower, or even getting your hands, arms, and face wet with cold water, you are triggering that dive reflex.

So, with shaking hands, I filled my tub with the coldest water I could muster and dipped my toes in. But, as I stood with icy water lapping at my ankles, all I could think about was punching the shower wall in front of me. When I got to the point where my fist was resting on the cool surface of the wall, I realized that simply dipping my feet wasn’t going to be enough. I grabbed my book of cryptograms- one of my go-to distraction methods- and sat my ass down in the tub. I was crying, shivering hard, and trembling from the intense anxiety I was experiencing. On top of that, I was fiercely trying to focus on my latest cryptogram, as I had only decoded two letters at the point that I entered the bathroom.

Here’s the thing: it worked. I had no hope of it working, in fact I was convinced that my urges would overwhelm me and I would end up with bruises that I would have to explain to Nikki the next day. But the freezing water slowed down my breathing, and the puzzle held my attention while TIPP did it’s job. When my distress slipped below a seven on the intensity scale, I changed the water temperature from cold to warm, and sat in the tub with my book and relaxed my muscles. An hour later I was drifting off to sleep, bruise and scar free.

Upon reflection, I am so damn proud of myself. Not giving in to an urge that seemed so overpowering when it started is something I’ve marked as one of my biggest recovery milestones. It made me realize how far I had come since I started my first treatment program that targeted my self harm. A month ago, I couldn’t have done that. A year ago a sure as shit couldn’t have done that. Not only couldn’t I have done it, I wouldn’t have even tried.

So, yes I am still underweight and discharge terrifies me. Meals are still overwhelming, as are all other urges. But this week taught me that I am fully capable of progress, and assured me that it never ends. I will always be moving forward, and just because I have a more positive attitude about recovery now doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to make mistakes along the way.

The Bitch Bag Breakup™️

So, listen Sasha. We gotta talk.

You and I both know we have a long history. I’ve been wrapped around your finger for years. Our hands stay intertwined no matter where we go, and when I can’t find you I panic. It helps that you’re gorgeous; everything I wish I could look like (and more). I think you did that on purpose. You see, while I was fawning over you for all this time, you figured out exactly how to keep me around. Promising a life of beauty, happiness, art, and endless pain to foster my creativity. After all, you were the one who told me good art comes from suffering. And I believed you for a long time. Until now.

I’m outing you, Sasha. You’re emotionally abusive, and I can’t take it anymore. It’s time to shine a spotlight on you in front of the world. You thrive in secrecy. The shadows is where you like to play. Not anymore. It’s time everyone knew you for who you are: an emotionally manipulative piece of garbage. In fact, you’re more like the gum someone scraped off their shoe and stuck to the garbage in the trash can. Someone close to me recently described you as a “bitch bag.” I’m sorry to laugh but…you know what, I’m actually not sorry at all.

I’ve written a lot of posts about you and your devious ways, Sasha, but I always end up slinking back to you at the end of the day. Desperate to cover myself under the cloak of your shadow. But this is my promise to fight you. To not let you seduce me into your twisted ways. To not hinder my recovery for the sake of your comfort.

So, there it is Sash. I’m declaring this our official breakup. I’m taking back the reigns from your thin, frail hands. I’m going to live my life now. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

 

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The inspiration for this breakup is funded in part by Demi Lovato’s Sorry Not Sorry. Please find the lyrics here, as I have been playing it on repeat all day.

*If this post has left you thoroughly confused, please feel free to learn all about who Sasha is and why we are so codependent here.