Vulnerability – My deepest fear

As usual this week I am combining my Life of a Blogger (by Novel Heartbeat) post with my Friendship Friday (by Create with Joy).  This week’s topic is fears. 

Some fears are easy to discuss, and some are harder to discuss. It depends a lot on what your fears are. For instance, I have a fear of making myself vulnerable. So stating my fears actually goes against one of my deepest fears. However, I’ve been working on this specific fear, so this post will be a good opportunity to test out my new mad skilz at being vulnerable.

The Scream
Artist: Edvard Munch
(who theoretically had bipolar)

One of the things that has been making me feel vulnerable lately is my recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this diagnosis, it used to be called manic-depressive disorder. I’m diagnosed with type 2, which means I’ve only been “hypomanic” and not “fully manic.” Hypomania increased my irritability, irrationality, and impulsivity while (on a happier note) making me feel that I couldn’t be wrong, that I had the ability to climb the highest mountains and take on the world. I lost several people I considered friends during that period. And that still makes me feel abandoned and vulnerable. (Though, I have to admit, the online community is SO amazingly supportive, and I’m very thankful for you guys. You’re all rockstars!)

With the spirit of fighting my fears, I will admit that the reason my blog has been a bit quiet last week is because I was in the psych ward of the hospital. (My doctor was unfortunately not as handsome as the one above.) I was really angry at my psychiatric NP for putting me there, because I didn’t feel that I was in crisis at that time. But now that I’m out, I realize that he was trying to make sure I was stabilized and ready for my new job, which starts on the 2nd of September. He was being forward thinking, and I was very unappreciative. I guess I’ll have to thank him later.

I hadn’t originally planned on writing about my mental illness on this post – nor had I planned to mention that I’d been hospitalized in my upcoming weekly update. But when I was searching stock photos for a nice illustration of fear, I found the one above. It seemed fitting, somehow. Before I can change (and therefore master my new job), I need to admit to myself that I actually am in crisis. And to admit that, I need to make myself vulnerable. 

The picture I wanted to choose for this post is the one above – with the spooky religious images. I’d already been having a bit of a faith crisis before I was diagnosed with bipolar, but the diagnosis put my faith into a tailspin. What if…I thought…what if all this time that I thought I was being inspired or called by God, all those feelings of “rightness” and euphoria were just figments of a hypomanic mind? That is the most terrifying feeling I’ve ever experienced. The foundation of my faith was no longer stable. I’d say on the Richter scale this faithquake was about a 6.5. Most of my faith is still there, but I’m walking around all wobbly. There were a lot of things I felt that God had called me to do – writing is among them. I started writing this blog because I felt that God wanted me to write, and a blog would be a good place to practice both writing and marketing. Now I wonder…what do I blog for? If I give up on my faith, do I stop blogging?

Anyway, putting my vulnerability and faith aside, my own diagnosis of mental illness is a fantastic segue to plug my upcoming Suicide and Mental Illness Theme Read. Don’t forget to stop by my blog in September and October to see what people are reading and watching for this event. I’ll also be having a couple of giveaways. You’re welcome to jump in and participate at any point in time…all you need to do is read or watch something that educates you on suicide or mental illness. It can even be something that’s an accurate portrayal of mental illness – just tell us why you think it’s not. 🙂 I have a list of suggestions for both books and movies.

To ASIST or not to assist…

This month, I have been training to answer texts for a crisis hotline aimed at teens. My first shift is tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to helping out teens in crisis. I think this is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. 

Let me tell you a little secret – I’ve battled on and off with suicidal thoughts myself. At times, to the point where I’m honestly afraid that I will kill myself. Almost no one who is suicidal actually wants to die. These people want to live, and they send out signals. They ask for help. Too many people ignore these signals for one reason or another. 

Some people have absolutely no empathy for suicide – they feel that if someone wants to die, let them die. After all, isn’t that “Darwinian selection”? What these people fail to see (whether they are willingly blind or not) is that suicidal people are ill. Their perception of reality is often distorted, and they honestly feel that death is the only way out. They need to be reminded of why life is wonderful. They need (and want!) help. Suicide is a tragedy – not only for the individual, but for all the friends and family. 

Some people have empathy, but they are squeamish of mental illness and suicide. They are not comfortable talking about such things. And although they might see the signs, they shy away from providing help, often leaving the suicidal person feeling abandoned. I, myself, have felt that way….and it is one of the most painful emotions I can imagine.

And some people would like to help, but they just aren’t able to recognize the signs or they don’t know what they can do. 

But we, as a community, can change this. We can educate ourselves about suicide, and learn to encourage friends and family (and even strangers if we’re willing!) to talk to us. Because it’s the people who talk that end up living. There are lots of ways to educate yourself about suicide. For instance, my blog, Resistance is Futile, is going to host an annual Suicide and Mental Illness Awareness theme read in September and October. I will post about suicide and mental illness (hopefully with guest posts too!) and list book reviews from all participants in the theme read (everyone is welcome!). Hopefully, this will spark discussion about how to raise awareness in our community.

Another way to educate ourselves is by taking awareness classes. Several are offered as community classes, but I highly recommend the one that I completed last weekend. The ASIST workshop organized by Living Works. In this two-day workshop, I learned what signs to watch for, how to address the question “Are you feeling suicidal?”, when to listen to and then remind that person of what he or she has that’s worth living for, and how to create a safety plan. It was probably one of the most important training events of my life. And I hope that many, many other people will also get such training. Living Works also has a less expensive class SuicideTalk (or eSuicideTalk)

Suicidal thoughts can happen to ANYONE. No one is immune. I am lucky enough to have a large, loving family and an AMAZING bunch of friends. I’m intelligent and have accomplished a lot in life. I (usually) have faith in a spiritual system which frowns upon destroying “the temple of our flesh.” I should be immune to such thoughts. But I’m not. It can happen to anyone. And I want to help create a world in which people aren’t afraid to express their feelings and openly ask for help. Who’s with me on that?

Rachel’s Media Update



Update Memes

Stacking the Shelves with @Tynga’s Reviews