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.

Intuition: My Sixth Sense

I recently started a new job that I expected to love. I ended up quitting after two days of orientation.

I originally wasn’t going to blog about this; I felt incredible shame and embarrassment and I didn’t want anyone to know that I had failed.

But now that I have done some reflecting, I don’t believe I failed at all. In fact, what I really did was trust my gut and made the right decision. And there’s hope on the job front! Keep reading to learn more…

 

I have had multiple therapists tell me that I have a great sense of self, and a great intuition. This week, I was able to use that intuition in a sticky situation. I started off being very excited about this job; I had an idea of what it would be like, and I was thrilled to start. However, when I did, I learned things about the hospital that sounded like they would push me to an unhealthy place. On my second day, I worried if I had made the right decision. The hospital seemed intense, and I was slowly feeling myself breakdown under the stress of it all. On my lunch break I had a full-fledged meltdown.

I managed to stick around for the rest of the day, all the while convinced I would not be returning once I left through the automatic doors that evening. I was a wreck that night and the following morning. After turning it over and over in my head, talking to my parents and one of my best friends about it, I decided not to return to work.

I was in agony, convinced I had failed and that no one was going to take me seriously in the mental health field anymore. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go back to that place, but devastated that I lost out on an opportunity to grow in this field.

A day after I quit, I started thinking about opportunities elsewhere. And then I felt guilty for thinking those things. Who was I to start looking for another job, when I had just quit a perfectly good job? I started worrying about what other people would think, especially after my very public announcement of my new job. I knew I had a shot of interviewing at another hospital for a similar position, but I didn’t want people to think I was just going to quit that job, too, or not be able to hack it in a similar environment.

What I explored in therapy, today, however, is that doubt is the main thing that gets in my way. My fear of what people think stops me from doing great things. I think this other position will be a much better fit for me, and so I was able to set up an interview. After session today I am feeling so much more positive and confident in my ability to nail this interview and rock this new job. Much more comfortable than I was at the old job.

I’m trusting my gut.

My intuition has never led me astray before. I feel as though this is a “when one door closes, somewhere a window opens” thing. The job I left was not a good match for me, and I had an uneasy feeling going in. But this new potential opportunity feels totally different to me. So I’m running at it, with open arms.

My interview is next week…wish me luck!