Salem: Part Two

After the plane touched down in Boston I was completely elated. I kept looking at the itinerary that I made for myself on the plane and was ready to embark on my new adventure. After gathering my luggage and walking for what seemed like fourteen miles to the rideshare pick up lot, I met with a lovely man who just so happened to be my Lyft driver. On the way to Salem from Boston, he showed me awesome looking buildings with such enthusiasm, and it gave me reassurance that I made the right choice with choosing Salem for my first solo trip.

I was staying in downtown Salem, and boy was it different than what I had been expecting. It was small. Like incredibly small. There was one section of the town where my hotel was that had older cobblestone, so the only vehicles that were allowed to drive on it were delivery vehicles. As a first impression, Salem left me in awe. The town seemed quaint and adorable, which was shocking to me due to the morbid history that took place on its very land. There was a cemetery that was a two-minute walk from my hotel, museums galore, and homes that were centuries old. There were shops and small restaurants everywhere, and they were incredibly enticing. I was so excited to start exploring and to learn as much as I could possibly learn about the place that I had always wanted to visit. 

My hotel, Hotel Salem, was hands down the best hotel that I have ever stayed at. I saw the same people basically every day and had pleasant conversations with one person in particular. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the hotel was GORGEOUS. I checked in early, and my room had just been cleaned and set up for my arrival, so the door was sitting open waiting for me to occupy what was inside. When I saw my room my jaw literally unhinged itself and involuntarily opened. I stood there, in shock and in amazement at how perfect the room was. I actually left my room just to make sure that I was in the correct spot, and to my excitement, I was. When I travel, which is rare might I add, I usually stay in Holiday Inns or places like that. So I was expecting the same old same old with my hotel, but what I got was so much better than anywhere I have ever stayed. The ceilings were tall. I am not great with measuring heights and whatnot, but I would estimate probably like twenty-five-foot ceilings. I had a king-sized bed with multiple pillows, (which I got extra excited about because I was going to have that all to myself) and I immediately wanted to curl up in it and take a happiness nap. My bathroom was probably the most beautiful bathroom that I have ever seen. There was this stunning dark blue tile on the walls and in the shower, which I immediately told my husband I wanted for our bathroom. The tub was huge and it looked like I could easily unwind in it, and the shower was pure magic. The shower was huge, and every day after exploring I would just hibernate in the shower for a bit to unwind. That hotel made me comfortable and relaxed, and I will stay there every time I go back to Salem. Oh! And I simply can’t forget to mention that my room had an interesting little bonus feature to it. I am pretty convinced that a spirit lingers there. One of my dresser drawers kept opening as if my little friend kept trying to prank me. One night it kept opening and every time I would turn my back after closing it would open right back up. I was (am) still so convinced that it was a spirit that I set up my phone on video to try to catch it in action, but I think my spirit was too smart to be caught. Sneaky little bastard. 

Anyways, after seeing my room I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before and from traveling, so I simply ordered some lunch and took a much needed two-hour nap in my ginormous comfy bed that I could actually sleep on diagonally. It was a spiritual experience having that kind of restful slumber. When I awoke from my nap I was so out of it that I had to remind myself where I was. I got up, splashed my face with some water to help wake me up more, and then I grabbed my jacket to go explore my temporary home. 

I feel like I started exploring at the perfect time. It was chilly, but not too chilly. And the sun was starting to go down. As I mentioned before, there was a cemetery that was about a two-minute walk from my hotel room. So I decided to make my way towards that spot. When I arrived at the cemetery I was shocked that it was actually one of the places that I wanted to explore. I was at Old Burying Point Cemetery, which is the oldest cemetery in Salem. It was beautiful. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but man it still took my breath away. The gravestones were incredibly old, and just seeing them was very humbling. You know I am not oblivious to the fact that one day I will die just like everyone else, but even with that knowledge there still is that sense of invincibility. I know that I will die, but it is still hard to process that. But seeing all of these graves, all of these people whose ages ranged from a year old to people well in their eighties, it reminds you of the fragility of life. The cemetery was the most peaceful spot in Salem in my opinion, and I could easily spend hours there. But the sun was almost completely set and everything was starting to shut down, so I headed back to my hotel for some rest. 

I actually went back to Old Burying Point multiple times during my time in Salem because of the peace that I felt almost became addictive. I loved looking at each gravestone and paying my respects to the people who are there. I felt such a magnetic energy pulling me to Old Burying Point, almost as if the spirits of the people that were residing there were trying to keep me there to tell me something. Call me crazy, but I do believe that spirits are a real thing. And I think that when we die, we learn everything that there is to learn about the universe and about life. Every single secret becomes common knowledge, and I think the people on the other side are screaming at us to listen to them. They want us to know these secrets, and maybe we just aren’t listening. Anyways, now that you guys know that I am crazy, (hi, I’m Brookana) Old Burying Point is as breathtaking and beautiful as they come. It is hands down my most favorite part of Salem. 

Luckily, adjacent to Old Burying Point was the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This particular memorial was for the victims of the witch trials, and it was truly moving. The memorial had large stones with each of the victim’s names engraved onto them, and it seemed as if that was Salem’s way of trying to apologize to each of the people that they executed. Some of the stones even had flowers on them, which I found beautiful. It is important to remember that despite how fascinating the history of the trials is, there were still innocent lives that were taken and we should always remember who they were. I visited the memorial three times while I was in Salem, and each time I felt a tremendous amount of sorrow for the souls whose lives were stolen from them.

 

 

Another great memorial that I visited was Proctor’s Ledge, which was where the victims of the witch trials were hung. I found this memorial even more moving than the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. I felt as if I could feel this heaviness to me. I was grieving the loss of these innocent people, people who lived many centuries before me. I can’t imagine the fear and the agony that they felt, and the pain that their families felt when they were taken away from them. When I learned about the witch trials back in middle school they never really talked about the humanity behind the victims that were executed. They never talked about the repercussions that the families had to face or the torment that the victims had experienced. But seeing the place where the majority of the victims took their final breath is an indescribable feeling. It is a chilling feeling. A feeling of pure terror and disgust. And it makes you respect the trials even more because of the people who had their lives wrongfully stolen from them. 

I also paid a visit to the Salem Witch Museum. This was a cute little museum that consisted of two exhibits, and I feel like I definitely learned a lot about how the trials had begun and the hysteria behind it all. The first exhibit was basically the story of the trials told over a loudspeaker and the second exhibit talked about the history of witchcraft. It was a very interesting experience, and I am happy that I went. 

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Past six o’clock at night there isn’t really much to do in Salem since all of the shops pretty much close down, so I decided to embark on a walking tour through Salem Night Tour. The tour meeting spot was a shock to me. We met at a store that sold Harry Potter merchandise, and I knew that I was about to have a wonderful evening. I even purchased my very first wand. The tour was a lot of fun. I was in a smaller group, which I loved because it gave me an opportunity to ask the tour guide questions when one would arise. They were very knowledgeable about Salem’s past, and I found myself to be intrigued throughout the entire tour. We walked by where the prison used to be during the trials, we walked by Salems Town Hall where the movie “Hocus Pocus” had filmed a scene, we walked past Old Burying Point, and we walked by the house that the board game “Clue” was based on. The stories that the guide told us were equal parts scary, horrifying, and enthralling, and despite the chilly weather, I had such a great time gaining more knowledge on Salem’s past. 

The Witch House. There is not enough time to discuss how much I loved Witch House. The Witch House is a home that was owned by Jonathan Corwin, who just so happened to be a judge during the trials. I was told that eighty percent of that house is original, and I could feel that that was true. I did a self-guided tour throughout the home, where I was fortunate enough to see many pieces of furniture that are dated back centuries. Throughout the home were various papers that had intriguing facts about how people lived back in the 1600-1700s, and it was totally captivating. There was something about the house that had a similar magnetic energy to the energy that I felt at Old Burying Point. I felt oddly comfortable in that house. Like I never wanted to leave. It felt peaceful and welcoming, and like a place where I could learn so much. It was one of those places where you could feel the history, and it just made me feel like I went back in time and experienced what it was like living in that house back then. But it wasn’t just the history that made me feel like I never wanted to leave. There was the sweetest woman who worked there that was incredibly knowledgeable about not just Witch House, but Salem as a whole. I definitely monopolized her time for upwards of forty minutes, just asking her questions about the home and about Salem. She answered every question that I had and was eager to share the history of Salem with me. She even showed me markings around the house that left me in awe. There were builders marks and marks of protection etched into the walls and ceilings of the house, and it made me feel as if I found a time machine and when back to the 1600s when the house was built. I was fascinated, and the house still has me fascinated to this very day. I would say that Witch House is my second favorite place to visit in Salem. There is so much to learn about the trials and about that time period, and the house helps you understand the history so much more.

 

A fun little activity that I decided to do was get another tattoo. There was a tattoo shop that was about a minute walk from my hotel called Witch City Ink, so to commemorate my first solo trip, which happens to be my most favorite trip that I have ever been on, I got a witch hat with a couple of sprigs. The shop was incredible, and my artist was so talented, and I constantly catch myself staring in awe at my newest addition.

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There are a ton of really adorable shops in downtown Salem, but my favorite shop hands down has got to be Emporium 32. They have a fantastic collection of oddities and just cool items that range from books, art, alcohol cups, absinthe spoons, jewelry, and hats. Everything was so unique and breathtaking, and I spent more money than I would like to admit at that store. My wallet is going to be in trouble for when we buy our house because I found out that they ship artwork and I plan on utilizing that convenience

There is so much to see, do and learn in Salem. Everything about Salem is so special to me. I loved the feeling that I felt in Old Burying Point and Witch House where I felt like I could feel the history. I loved learning about everything that happened there and why everything happened. Even though downtown Salem was adorable and beautiful, the history of the land is unscathed, and that morbid feeling that you get from that pain and suffering also turns into appreciation and gratitude for the generations that have lived before you. It truly is a magical town filled with magical curiosities.

I am strong but I am fragile

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I have had people tell me that I am weak because of my mental health. I have had people tell me that I need to cope better with life. I have had people tell me that I need to grow up. I have had people tell me to put my big girl panties on.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I feel like I am like a windshield with a crack. With time the crack gets bigger and bigger until you fix it or it just shatters. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

My strength stems from not following through with the things that my plagued mind wants me to do. Pills, knives and the garage give me haunting thoughts that chill me. I don’t want to do anything, but sometimes I do. I am constantly in a fight with myself, with my heart and my mind constantly playing an intense game of tug of war. I want to stay but I want to go. At the end of the day, I choose to stay so my heart always narrowly beats my mind. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I have worked so hard on making the best out of my life. Medication and therapy have been incredibly helpful. The days where I wake up and I don’t feel like I want to die are my favorite days. Being in love feels sweeter, being outside with the air caressing my skin feels freer, friendship feels more special, life just feels like it is finally getting easier. I can breathe, I can appreciate, I can feel bliss. 

I am strong but I am fragile.

As hard as I work on my strength and my well-being, it can also be easy for me to crash right back down. My mind is funny that way. I have a strong inkling that my mind is sitting at the edge of its seat, just waiting for something inconvenient or unfortunate to happen so it can have another chance to bring me down. Sometimes my mind can swoop in so fast to bring me down that I can almost feel my heart break from defeat. Here we go again, time to fight for life once more.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

When my mind wants me to end my life I do whatever I can do fight against it. I listen to music. I snuggle with my animals. I clean. As much as I try to distract myself, my mind can sometimes be stronger than me. It has this need for me to harm myself, and it won’t shut my thoughts down until it is somehow satisfied. So it is almost like we make a deal, or a compromise one might say. So when I dig into my skin with that razor it is almost like I can breathe again. I held up my end of the bargain, and now I can have a few moments of freedom from my tormenting mind. 

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I am sick, but I am trying to get better.

I am strong but I am fragile. 

I want to live.

I am strong but I am fragile.

Misophonia

Everyone has their pet peeves. But what if your pet peeve brought on an intense feeling of anger? Or what if it made you feel the urge to cry? What if it gave you anxiety or made you sweat? I have a pet peeve that has the ability to make me feel all of those things. Hi, my name is Brookana and I have Misophonia.

 

Misophonia is basically when certain noises result in a reaction that may seem senseless to others. My “trigger” noises consist of the following: gum chewing/popping, loud breathing, loud obnoxious eating, pen tapping, crunching, and slurping. I know that these are noises that most people can’t help but make, but I can’t help but feel a rush of emotion whenever I hear them.

 

I haven’t had Misophonia my entire life. I believe I was about six or seven when I experienced my first rush of anger after hearing a noise, and the first trigger noise to present itself was gum chewing. My middle brother always chomping on gum and it never used to bother me, in fact, I don’t really recall ever really noticing it much in the past, but there was just one day where his incessant chomping just filled me up with rage. I just remember wanting to punch him every time he chomped on that gum, and that was the day that my life started to crumble. 

 

Trust me, I understand how utterly ridiculous and dumb this sounds. Every time I would become upset over someone eating or chewing gum I would feel so bad about myself. I have never understood why these trigger sounds have to get under my skin the way that they do, and I am positive that my friends and family who know that I have this think that I am crazy. Hell, even I feel insane sometimes. The term “Misophonia” is fairly new, and when I found out that more people were talking about this and that there was an actual disorder for the thing that I have been feeling ever since I was young made me feel so validated. Perhaps I am not as crazy as I always thought I was, and that felt great. 

 

I feel like the older I become the more intense my Misophonia presents itself. I avoided the movie theater for years because I couldn’t handle the sounds people would make with their candy and their popcorn. Going out to dinner has become increasingly difficult because if I hear people around me eating it is all that I can fixate on. Being with my family can be hard for me because I have quite a few family members who make sounds as if they are starving animals fighting over their prey. Although being in public can result in me feeling upset and defeated, I have found new techniques that help me cope better with the sounds that can make me feel so horrible. I have started carrying earplugs with me everywhere I go so that if I start feeling overwhelmed by noises that I can’t control, I have the power to just turn them off. It may seem odd or silly that I put earplugs in public, however, if I can have solutions to help soothe my escalating emotions I will most certainly take advantage of those. 

 

Although there is not a cure for Misophonia there are ways that you can cope with it to help soothe yourself in stressful situations. I have learned ways to help myself when I am starting to feel anxious over my trigger sounds, and although it may come across as rude I would rather be rude with my coping mechanisms than be rude with my outbursts. Some ways that I help ease my emotions when they are starting to escalate are:

  1. Walking away when someone is eating and I feel my anger starting to form.
  2. Using my earplugs to help cancel out unwanted noises.
  3. Exercising my right to alone time whenever I need to calm down from a situation that I couldn’t walk away from. 
  4. Using headphones and listening to music to cancel out undesirable noises. 
  5. Distracting myself with a book while using earplugs to keep my mind off of the noises.

 

Everyone has their own coping mechanisms to deal with their Misophonia. Every now and again I learn new ways to deal with my emotions. I feel like although my Misophonia has become more intense and I have acquired more trigger noises, the way that I have handled them has improved. There once was a time where I used to wish that I could go deaf so that I didn’t have to hear these noises anymore. Or I would just hide in a bathroom and cry hysterically because the noises would make me so mad. Now I still get angry, but I have learned to walk away or use my earplugs to prevent me from getting even more overwhelmed. The truth of the matter is that I will never be able to escape the sounds that bring me so much angst. Hearing people eating or chewing gum is unavoidable when you live in a world where over seven billion people exist, and expecting people to change themselves just to appease you and to make your life easier is just plain selfish. Adapting and finding ways to cope is the best thing that you can do for yourself and for the people around you.

 

Just remember this one thing: having Misophonia doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you a little more quirky and interesting!

Stress

The older I become the more that I learn about myself. It is an interesting experience having a revelation about yourself. I have always been confident that no one knew me more than myself, and that although I am aware that I am constantly evolving as a person I always knew what was changing about me as the changes were taking place. With that being said, there is some new information that I have realized about myself that I was not expecting and that I find truly troubling, and that is the fact that I handle stress in a very poor way. 

Don’t get me wrong, with the amount of anxiety that I deal with I have never been excellent at handling stressful events, however, I always thought that I had some tact with dealing with unfortunate issues. Perhaps that was how I used to be, and now as I am getting older and have experienced more things the way that I handle things have changed, but if I were to be perfectly honest I don’t remember how I dealt with intense issues in the past. From what I can remember, I used to internalize things a lot. I would think about what was stressing me out constantly until it was resolved or until I didn’t have a need to think about it further. It wasn’t until I started therapy that I realized that internalizing things that were a bother to me was unhealthy. I know that there are coping mechanisms when dealing with stress, and I loathe the fact that at twenty-six years old I am still having trouble with it.

I think the biggest stressor in my life would have to be my animals. My animals are my literal world. Most of my joy stems from them, and I love them more than anything in the universe. (Don’t worry, I love Stephen as much as them. He is not being neglected.) So when one of them becomes sick, even if it is something small, I fall apart. This is something that I feel an immense amount of shame for, and I know this flaw should be at the top of my priorities to try to fix. When one of my animals isn’t feeling well, I immediately think the worst. My anxiety starts to get worse and worse, to the point where I feel like I can’t breath. My heart beats so fast, and I turn ice cold. I cry uncontrollably, and sometimes I even throw up. 

A few months ago Gimli wasn’t feeling well for about six hours. I noticed something was off because he wasn’t eating his food, and that is so unlike Gimli. The moment he hears me reaching for a can of wet food he starts meowing and running towards his bowl, and then starts immediately chowing down the instant his food plops down. So for Gimli to be uninterested in his food had me worried right away, and then we he started becoming lethargic a full blown panic started to take over me. All of my symptoms that I mentioned before were at the forefront of my internal battle of attempting to handle this properly, and the worry that I felt was so strong. When I am having anxiety like that, I truly feel like I don’t have any control over myself. I know that what I am doing isn’t rational or right, but I can’t help it. I just lose control. That was when I did something that I am even embarrassed to say. Before I switched my medication I was taking one anxiety pill in the morning and then one anxiety pill at night. Those pills helped me stay leveled throughout the day, because the smallest thing, like driving for instance, would give me anxiety. Well anyways, with Gimli not feeling well and with me being as panicked as I was, I took an extra pill. Then a little while later when that didn’t help I took another. Taking those extra pills was something that I had never done before, and when Stephen saw my pill bottle next to me he immediately took them away from me and hid them. Luckily, Gimli felt better not too long after that happened, and I instantly felt better because I knew that he was going to be okay. Please believe me when I say that I know that this is shameful behavior and quite frankly immature, but I think I have a theory as to why I have these reactions to stress when it comes to my animals. 

Back in October 2018, my little lion, Lupin, passed away. Watching Lupin go through everything that he went through for a month was one of the most traumatizing and difficult things that I have ever seen. When you love someone or something as much I loved Lupin and you’re watching them die in front of your eyes and there is literally nothing that you can do can change a person. I know that I have never been the same since Lupin died. Every little thing that is not typical with my animals or even with Stephen gives me instant worry and anxiety. Even when I try to talk to myself through the situation with logic and try to convince myself that everything is okay, I still can’t convince myself of that. I think that when my Lupin died he took a huge part of me, and not just the part that loved him more than life itself. I think my security is gone, and now every time something happens I just instantly think back to Lupin. 

Thank god for Stephen. When something happens and I shut down he becomes the voice of reason. He takes control of the situation, and helps with everything. I am so lucky to have a partner who can handle a stressful situation with ease, even when I have gone crazy. 

The way that I handle stress is probably one of my worst flaws. It is definitely something that I am attempting to work on with my therapist, because no matter how hard I try to avoid stressful situations that is just not how life works. I need to develop better coping mechanisms, because how I handle things, or lack of handling things, is so unhealthy. It is going to be a long journey, but I look forward to the day where I have a stressor come to light and I am able to handle it in a mature way. 

Changes

It has been a year and a half since I have been able to sit at my desk and open up my heart and soul to the world. A year and a half of pain, tears, laughs, and big decisions. Many moments of loneliness, worry, pain, love, and excitement have ticked away.  A lot has happened since I was able to write, and now I am ecstatic to finally be doing what I have been longing for so long. Here are some things that have changed within the past year and a half:

 

  1. My beautiful, loving, wonderful furbaby Lupin passed away in October 2018. There were about three times in the past year and a half where I thought that I was going to die, and this was one of them. Without going into too much detail, Lupin suffered from a urinary obstruction that landed him in the hospital for a while. The vet warned us that it could happen again, however, since he was so young he couldn’t tell us when it might happen again. Less than a week after his release another obstruction occurred, and that is when we decided to surgically widen his urethra to prevent this from ever happening again. Although the surgery was successful, Lupin was unable to cope with all of the trauma and sedatives and passed away about two weeks after the surgery. Lupins’ death took a part of me that I will never get back. Anyone who knows me knows that my animals are my world, and I literally felt a piece of my soul get ripped right out of me the moment Lupin drew his last breath. It was when this was all happening that I was almost involuntarily placed in the hospital for being suicidal. I was in such a bad place that I admitted to my endocrinologist (who also monitored my mental health) that I was having suicidal thoughts, and she wanted to send me to the hospital. I convinced her not to do that (which I regret) and she ended up calling my psychiatrist to see if he could see me right away. He also wanted me to go to the hospital, but I eventually talked him out of it by agreeing to different medications as well as seeing him weekly. 
  2. Stephen and I adopted a new cat. After Lupins’ death I needed to place my negative feelings somewhere where they could become positive. That is when Arya came along. Arya was a six month old kitten named Lindy when we first saw her, and I fell in love with her the moment my eyes landed on her. Arya is so petite and tiny, and yet so spunky and insane. She keeps me laughing from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I close my eyes at night, and my soul is so happy that she is my daughter. 
  3. Stephen and I made a huge decision back in February to move back home to Chicago. This decision actually came to us while we were visiting our family back at home, and it was definitely unexpected. We had been toying with the idea of moving back home for a while, but then on the last night of our visit I woke up to several missed calls and text messages from my friends that were watching our apartment and our cats that our apartment had caught fire. Also, to add more trauma to the situation, they couldn’t find my cat Gimli. I just remember crying and throwing up from the stress, and frantically trying to figure out how we could get down to Dallas last minute. Luckily my friend was able to get Arya, but the idea of Gimli being missing, as well as my friends being in danger from the fire, sent me over the edge. Stephen and I were set to fly home at eight that night, but unfortunately, it was too expensive to change our flight to an earlier time. That was one of the most agonizing days that I have ever experienced, but something good came out of it. One of my friends remembered that there was a small hut that was being remodeled near our apartment, so I called the apartment complex to see if they could go see if Gimli had sought out shelter there. After about forty-five minutes of waiting, I got a phone call saying that they had found Gimli in the hut and that he was safe and not hurt! Tears uncontrollably just streamed down my face for what seemed like a lifetime. Tears of sweet relief and bliss. Everyone was safe, no one was hurt, and Stephen and I were about to be reunited with our furfamily once more. It was when that fire happened that Stephen and I ultimately decided that where we were living was too tainted from all of the bad memories that had happened there, and that was when we had decided to move back home.
  4. Earlier this year I experienced another severe low. This low started in about April, and to be frank I am still coming out of it. As all of you know, my lows tend to be very scary. With that being said, this one has been quite a doozy. I think that the scariest thing about my depression is that my suicidal thoughts start to become more and more frequent. Usually, the thought of suicide alone scares me, but this time around the scariest part about my suicidal thoughts was the idea of actually doing it wasn’t scary to me anymore. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have come close to actually doing something to myself within this past year and a half, and especially since April. Because of this, my cutting was starting to become an everyday thing, to the point where I would go out of my way to try to hide it from Stephen. Somehow Stephen would always find out what I had done, and because of my downward spiral, Stephen sat me down and said that if I didn’t try harder to get some help in Chicago then he would have to leave me. He couldn’t handle the stress of constantly wondering if he was going to come home from work and find me dead, and the fact that I was cutting myself so frequently made him even more upset. So I found a new psychiatrist, and I have been speaking to a therapist a couple times a week. I still have my really off days, but I do feel like I am finally getting better. 
  5. One of the reasons why I was diagnosed with PTSD this year was because of a sexual assault that I was a victim of before I met Stephen. I will get more into this at a later time, but looking back it has been something that always did trigger me. I suppose I never knew the extent of the damage that it had done to me until I started to talk about it more. For the past few months I have been really trying to heal from that past incident, and I hope that healing from that trauma will help with my future low episodes. 

 

So those are some changes that have been a part of my life for the past year and a half. If I have learned anything at all it would be that I need to allow myself time to heal from the past and not look down on myself if I have a setback. Words can not describe how free I feel right now, and I can feel my passion through the tips of my fingers.

Lows- Part Two

When you’re about to go into a low, you know. A couple of days ago I woke up and I felt different. For the past few weeks, I had been feeling so great. I felt happiness, a sense of calm, and I found joy. I attributed my feelings from my marriage being in a really happy, wonderful place as well as getting back into writing. I was sleeping again, and I found a balance to keep my life and all my emotions in line. Then, I woke up one morning, and my sense of security was no longer there.

Anyone who knows me knows that Harry Potter is my all time favorite story. I love everything about it, from the silly moments to the lessons that you can apply to your own life. J.K. Rowling, to me, is the beautiful soul who has helped me get through a lot of undesirable life moments. I have watched and read many of her interviews, and I truly can relate to her. One of the things that has always stuck with me is the symbolism with dementors. Dementors in Harry Potter are the guards that watch over Azkaban, and they basically suck out all of the happiness from within a person. Now it is possible for a witch or wizard to ward against a dementor, but the witch or wizard must be very powerful to succeed. In order to be protected against a dementor one must use a patronus, which is essentially powerful magic that takes the form of an animal to act as a guardian between you and the dementor. Now J.K. Rowling has stated on numerous occasions that she has suffered with depression, and the dementors represent depression. The past couple of days I could feel a dementor lurking by me, and I have been trying to be powerful enough to produce my patronus but I can feel it failing. The light that I had been feeling inside of me is starting to dim, and I can feel my soul starting to detach.

I am starting to not feel anything positive. This is the one thing that I hate about depression because you feel hopeless. Anytime something positive happens I lack the ability to really care, because I feel like something bad is going to happen to balance out the good. Every time I do a simple task, like brushing my hair, I feel myself exerting an immense amount of energy to complete that task. I haven’t even brushed my hair today because I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The reality is, I’m slipping back into a low, and as a result I’m slowly turning in to my empty shell of a person. I’m metamorphosing into a zombie a little more every day, and I can feel it happening but it is almost as if I can’t reverse the process. I am losing my strength, so now I am losing me.

Depression comes along with a lot of really fun sidekicks. Insomnia, fatigue, crying, and overeating are all crowded around me constantly pushing me down. My depression is the main bully, but every bully has their goons. Not sleeping regularly is really starting to fuck with my head. It has only been a couple of days and I am already feeling the repercussions mentally and physically. Depression is a trickle of symptoms. Once you start to feel one of the symptoms, you know the other ones are not too far behind. Every time this happens I try to gear up with all of my armor. I try to channel every ounce of energy to defeat my depression before it fully invades me, but it’s usually successful in taking down my blockades.

I don’t know if everyone who has depression experiences it the same way that I do. With me, it’s not intense right away. It slowly creeps up, with every day more and more of me slipping away into the darkness. At this moment I am feeling my depression, but I am still somewhat functional. I am not having suicidal thoughts, so I am not concerned about that right now. But this is the phase that is kind of scary for me because I know what is about to happen. I know that in a couple of days or in a week I will be on my bedroom floor crying hysterically holding on to my dog. I know that I am going to be in excruciating pain, and I am going to question if I want to be here or not. I know my soul will be completely detached, and knowing that is what my future looks like is terrifying. I know myself and I know my patterns, and I know that I can try to deflect the depression as much as possible but once it starts creeping in there is no going backwards. You’re basically forced to take it in, like you’re the host and your depression is the parasite. The more you wither away the stronger it becomes, and you can feel your armor breaking away.

I am not sharing this with you for pity. I am sharing this because this is my reality. This is something that I deal with on a regular basis, and unfortunately I am being forced to deal with it again. There are so many people out there that have depression, and I feel like they are afraid to talk about it like I was. Because depression is not really talked about, I am afraid that there is a lack of knowledge on what one goes through when they are in the midst of it. I would consider myself successful if I can help everyone understand depression a little bit better, so I am officially inviting everyone into my mind for a better understanding.

I hate mental illness. I hate how it feels like it is entitled enough to invite itself into someones life and take away everything that they are. I hate that it uses torture and pain to get what it wants, to take over you. I especially hate that no matter how many times you overcome it it still comes back for another try to take you away. The best thing you can do is fight it with everything that you have, and constantly tell yourself to stay strong no matter how much strength you lack. Depression is a bully, and bullies never should be given the opportunity to win.

Suicidal Thoughts

***As a warning, this article is about suicidal thoughts and my experience with them.

PROJECT SEMICOLON: https://projectsemicolon.com/

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255

Let’s talk about something that most people try to avoid talking about. Let’s talk about something that is affecting a good number of people, but still people don’t want to talk about it. Let’s talk about about something that is a great fear in peoples lives, so it’s not talked about. Let’s talk about suicide.

I can’t speak for other people who have suicidal thoughts, so I think the best thing that I can offer is to give you insight from what I go through. As I have stated in my previous post, “Lows,” I have bipolar disorder and severe depression. I was officially diagnosed back in high school, but it has been something that I have had to deal with for as long as I could remember.

The first psychologist that I was saw was as sweet as could be. I remember feeling like I could instantly open up to her about everything, and I truly felt safe. She had a way of talking to you that felt so maternal, as weird as that may sound, but it was always just so warm in her office. We would talk about my parents divorce, my misophonia, my goals, my fears, everything. I would look forward to seeing her, because I knew I finally could unload everything that I had been holding in. My first suicidal “event” happened one night after seeing her. I had not been feeling well mentally for a couple of weeks, and it was one of the things where you could feel your soul separate itself from your body. When I get like that, I am aware of what is happening around me, I know who I am, and I know the people that I love, but I feel like a zombie. Everything becomes hazy. I feel like I am an empty shell, and there is nothing to me anymore. I thought about death off and on before that night, but I never thought I would ever come close to doing anything. My mom and I were in the kitchen, and I literally felt as though I were already dead. My physical body was here, participating in life, but my soul, the thing that makes me me, was nowhere to be found. The medicine cabinet was in the kitchen, and I just felt drawn to those pills. I stared at that cabinet for what felt like hours, thinking about what it would  be like to take everything. Would it be painful? How much would I have to take? How long would it take? Is this what I want? Those were just a few thoughts that were going through my head. After sitting there, I got up, went to the computer, and wrote an email to my psychologist. I told her what I was feeling, what I wanted to do, and that I was scared but I felt like I couldn’t go through this anymore. After I sent it, I didn’t feel sad, angry, or relieved. I didn’t feel anything. I think I went up to my room after that, and I laid down on my bed. The pills were still on my mind. Death was still on my mind. I don’t know how much time passed from the moment I sent the email to when my mom came in my room. She looked worried. She had just gotten off the phone with my psychologist, and wanted to check on me. It was decided that I would not be attending school the next day, and that I needed to go see a doctor. I felt like I didn’t sleep at all that night. It felt like every ten minutes my mom would come in my room and put her finger underneath my nose to check if I was still breathing. I pretended as though I was asleep, but I knew she was there every time she came in. The following morning my mom had informed me that she had spoken to my endocrinologist and he wanted me to be taken to a hospital immediately. So my mom, step-dad, and I went to a hospital and went into a little room and waited for a doctor to come speak to us. When someone eventually did come in, they started asking questions about what I was going through, and then they started talking about how while I was there I would still be able to work on my schoolwork. That was when my mom freaked out a little bit. She was under the impression that we were just going to talk to someone to see if I could get more help, she did not want me to be admitted. So we got up and left.

The next few years was a giant cycle. For a couple of months I would be okay, just skating on through life like anyone else, but then, just like clockwork, my soul would detach. Junior year of high school was when I officially had to be admitted to the hospital. This time it was my psychiatrist that wanted me to be admitted, so for six days I was a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Rockford Illinois. It was hands down one of the worst experiences of my life. I was terrified every second that I was there, to the point where every time my family came to visit me I would be crying hysterically for them to take me home. I wasn’t getting help, I wasn’t feeling any better, I just felt like I was in prison. I couldn’t bear to be in that place for much longer, so I learned how to be manipulative so I could convince them that I was fine. In hindsight, I should have been there a lot longer than six days. But it was an environment that I did not feel safe or comfortable in, so it was doing more harm than good.

I never have been powerful enough to just will the suicidal thoughts and depression away, and I know that I will never be. Mental illness is a part of me, just like my diabetes. I do what I can to cope with it, to control it to the best of my abilities, and to get through it, but every time I’m in low, it’s just a waiting game to see  how long it will last this time. My most recent low happened a couple of months ago, and it took a lot out of me. If I were to be honest, I think that was the closest that I came to doing something since the first time with the pills. I think the thing that made me reconsider was when I was crying on the floor and my dog came up next to me. I could feel her weight on me while she was licking my tears away, and it felt so comforting. I try to distract myself as much as I can when I’m having my thoughts. That particular night I cleaned and scrubbed every square inch of my apartment. Then, when there was nothing else left to clean, I sat on my bedroom floor, put on my headphones, turned on Falling in Reverse, and just held on to my dog. My dog, Luna, is incredibly intuitive, and she always knows when something is wrong with me. We have such an amazing bond, and I really think that she gives me strength when I am in a low.

Every person has their own way with handling things. My way is the right way for me, but it’s not going to be the right way for everyone. For me, when I am in a low, I know how to mask the pain that I am feeling. I guarantee that if I didn’t tell people what I go through then no one would ever know. But after all of these years, I’m sick of hiding this illness like it’s a shameful secret. I shouldn’t need to feel ashamed or suppressed because of the fear of how others would react. I have had people tell me that I am crazy, that I need to just get over it, and that I am dragging other people down with me. But the thing is, I am not crazy. I work hard every day to cope with my mental health. And the absolute LAST thing that I want to do is drag people down with me. I know that this is my battle, hell I have been battling this for most of my life, but every time I come out of a low and I am still alive and breathing, I feel as though I just added another piece of armor to myself. A little less than a year ago I added something to my body to help me when I am in a low. I got a semicolon tattoo, and every time that I am in a low I hold on to it to help me realize that my life doesn’t need to end yet. The semicolon tattoo is actually from a project called “Project Semicolon.” It is to bring awareness to mental health and suicide. I will set up a link to their website, and you should really take a look at it.

One of the last things that I want to say in this article is actually a favor that I am going to ask of all of you. When someone is in a low and they come to you for help, please don’t turn your back on them. If they are expressing to you that they are feeling suicidal and you try to change the subject or avoid it because you are uncomfortable, you are not only doing an injustice to them but also being incredibly selfish. You might feel uncomfortable with the topic, but imagine the pain that they are feeling. It takes a lot of courage to realize how bad of a place you are in and to ask for help, so please, just do your best and help them. Hold them. Tell them that you love them. Give them strength. Make them see their worth. Please don’t ignore their pain.

I hope I gave some sort of insight to what it feels like to be in a low. Just remember this: just because you may not be able to see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

PROJECT SEMICOLON: https://projectsemicolon.com/

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255

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