Setting Goals

I was asked to go on vacation with the family I have babysat for, for the last 4 years or so. It’s a few days away from home and in a different state. The vacation is months away, but because they know me, they asked me way in advance. I felt so honored that they even asked me. Initially, my reaction was disappointment. “That’s something I could never do” is what I told myself. Then I thought to myself- why not?! Who and what is stopping me? The only thing standing in my way is myself.

My illness is a barrier at times, and it does prevent me from living life exactly how I’d like. I do miss out on things, I have had to cancel plans, and I have had to say no solely due to my illness. I gave up my career solely because I knew it would be good for my mental health. I have missed out on life because of it, but when I set small attainable goals for myself, I CAN do difficult things.

In the next few months, I’m going to push and prepare myself. I’m going to start small and work from there. I plan to slowly leave the house more on my own. Quick stops at first, while working up to a whole day or weekend away from home, alone.

Being away from home, and specifically being away from my husband is incredibly difficult for me. BPD makes my attachments strong, so when I’m away I have to relearn how to be independent again. And remind myself that I can be okay alone.

I know I will be anxious. I know I will be uncomfortable. I know my mind will tell me I CANT, but I know I can. I know it won’t be easy, and at points, I will want to give up and go home. But I also know that I will be incredibly proud of my progress and healing.

So, I’m going on the trip. I know that I will have a ton of fun being around people I feel comfortable with and children I adore. I also know how proud and happy I will feel while I’m on vacation. With therapy, support, goals, and increasing my confidence- I CAN DO THIS.

Independence

Asking for help has become a norm for me. That’s a good thing. When I’m unable to do something myself or when I need support, I reach out for help. I much more comfortable with it now, and I don’t feel like a burden as often.

Even though this is a good thing, it has also made it easy for me to be dependent in ways. This, mixed with my struggle to leave my house alone, means I do a lot less independently than I once had.

I want to grow my independence and set goals for myself.

I’m starting this by spending the weekend alone. In the past, this has sent me into crisis. Since then, I’ve learned to cope and tolerate my emotions and distress. Now, I want more. I want to be able to enjoy my time alone and thrive.

I’m going to leave my house more. Maybe I get myself coffee or plants as a reward for my accomplishment. I will likely go thrifting for my reselling business. And I will continue to drive myself to my occasional babysitting job.

These may seem like small goals, but for me, they’re a big deal, a huge deal. I need to remind myself of this and validate my successes.

I’m growing my independence because it’s beneficial for my health, my confidence, my relationships, and my growth. It will be difficult, but I have the strength and skills to accomplish my goals.

Choose Recovery

I’ve been reflecting on my progress recently. Recognizing how far I’ve come and what I have overcome. A year ago I thought I was in a good place, but seeing where I am now I understand that I continue to grow and flourish in ways I don’t even recognize at the time.


This is recovery.


I can look back on three points of major change. First, when I chose recovery. Second, when I chose myself. And lastly, when I chose fulfillment.


I chose recovery after my second suicide attempt. I was done with the list of medications I could no longer keep track of and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. I was done with ignoring my therapist’s suggestions, and the skills presented to me. I was done letting my mind win. So, I tried. It may seem simple now, but this shift in mindset was the start of my recovery.


I started listening to my providers and being honest when my medication was not working properly. I began to try the suggestions and skills, even when I thought they were worthless. I tried my best to create a lifestyle that supported recovery and let things go that were detrimental to my health.


After this initial change, things did get better. Slowly and just a little, but it got better.
The second major change occurred when I left graduate school. I realized I had put other’s needs before my own, and I was working myself to the bone. I began to understand that I couldn’t manage my health and the career I had planned for myself. At the time, it felt like a failure, but now I recognize my strength and how important it was for me to choose myself.


The last major point of change occurred more recently. I looked at my life and I recognized what fulfilled me. It wasn’t the work I was currently doing, and it wasn’t how I was spending my free time. So, I made some changes.


Words, activism, supporting nature, and creating are what fulfill me.


I began to read more, write more, create more. I let go of expectations for perfection and really even an end goal. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time, but I can see how I was choosing my passions.


I want to invest in my passions because my life is worth it. I chose recovery so I could do amazing things, and that’s what I intend on doing.


I feel content, and I think at times, that feeling is more fulfilling than happiness. I have goals for my future and things I want to do. My work fulfills me and inspires me to help others.


Recovery has been worth the blood, sweat, and many many tears. But I wouldn’t change a thing, because if I hadn’t tried to get better, I would not be here today.

My Person

We all need a person- someone they feel comfortable reaching out to, someone empathic, someone who cares, someone who is willing to take the time, and someone outside of one’s relationship.

Having someone to talk to and specifically reach out to is creating a safety net. When I feel lost and don’t know where to turn to- I turn to my person.

When I found someone I felt comfortable with, I told my person how important they are to me. I told my person how empathic and supportive they are, and I thanked them for being there for me when I needed it most.

I am honest with myself and my feelings. I recognize my warning signs. I shared how it can be difficult for me to reach out, and my person prioritizes reaching out to me as well, knowing what I struggle with.

Friendship is a two-way street. The relationship needs to be two-sided and equal. I support my person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions just as they do for me. Supporting each other only strengthens our relationship. Being open and vulnerable creates a safe space for both individuals.

My person has helped me through difficult situations and challenges. It helps knowing I have someone in my corner. My openness and honesty have only brought me closer to my person. I can recognize how close we have become and I am so grateful for that.

Find someone to reach out to. Stay connected and safe.

Suicidal Thoughts

I’m in a safe space now and I feel in control of my illnesses, but I still have and will forever have suicidal thoughts. These thoughts are less frequent and they don’t last as long, but they are a symptom of my illness that I will always have to manage.

When I think back to my past suicidal thoughts, and the attempts, I can sum up my feelings in four little words- well, this is it.

For me, suicidal thoughts occur when stress, emotions, and depression build. At that moment, I don’t know where to turn. Sometimes it’s loneliness and loss of hope. Other times it’s the emptiness and wanting it to end. And it has also been uncertainty, not knowing how things will turn out.

The thoughts and urges are incredibly frightening and I can get stuck in them, like mud, dragging me down further and further. At this point, I feel stuck in emotion mind.

A person should never have to go through these thoughts alone. Yes, one may be able to work through them alone, but why?

Reaching out when suicidal thoughts occur is very difficult, but it is worth it. Experiencing these thoughts are not a sign of weakness, they’re a symptom of a challenging mental illness. Working through these thoughts takes incredible strength and determination.

Talking about my suicidal thoughts and urges has saved my life more than once. These thoughts are scary, but they’re more manageable when I have someone by my side, talking them through, and reminding me how important it is that I continue fighting.

Reach out; save yourself.

Outgrowing Relationships

Whenever I meet someone new, I immediately believe I will always feel the same way about them and they will forever be a part of my life. I have big feelings, so I often accept quickly and love hard. I also struggle to be around others, and I require a lot in my relationship. Often my needs change first and my feelings follow.

In my heart, I never let go of people. If I’ve cared about you in the past, I will forever care about you, no matter the circumstances.

I now understand that it is normal to go apart in relationships, specifically friendships. It is also normal to grow closer to some friends and grow distant from others, for no other reason than life or distance.

I’m currently in a stage of transition in my life. I’ve grown comfortable with after college life, but things continue to change, and I wonder- what’s next? As my life circumstances begin to change, I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly grown closer to some friends, have made unexpected new friends, but overall have distanced myself from others; spending more time with myself and family.

This change is something I used to fear, but now I find it cleansing. I know it’s okay to outgrow relationships, even when it’s hard. It’s also okay to stay close with others but see them less often. I’m enjoying more alone time in my life, something I used to be unable to have. So I want the time I do spend with others to be meaningful and uplifting.

Be around people who make you feel good about yourself, the world, other people, your beliefs and values, and everything that makes you, you.

Confidence

I’ve been struggling with my self-confidence recently. I know it is a symptom of my depression, a period that I am currently going through. Even though I understand the source, I still feel the effects. So I will recognize each feeling of self-doubt, but I refuse to accept and internalize these doubts and fears

I fear my time is not as valuable as others.

I worry my writing is a waste of time.

I fear I am not enough.

I worry I won’t be able to handle future challenges.

I fear others won’t accept me if I put myself out there.

All these negative thoughts and self-doubts have been damaging my confidence. It leads me to a dark place I’ve been to before. A year or two ago this would have made me stuck. Now, I know the pattern, and I recognize what can get me through it.

While depression lingers, I’m still experiencing self-doubt. I’m hearing the thoughts and then pushing them awaybecause these unhelpful beliefs are not going to control me. I am filling my time with things that do increase my confidence: reading, writing, yoga, running, being around kids, talking with someone who understands me, and organizing my space. The thoughts may continue, but I’m going to keep living and fighting.

Reframing Thoughts


Initially, most of my thoughts are negative. I can thank the chemicals in my brain for that. I spent most of my life believing these thoughts, and the awful things I told myself.

This process impaired my health and functioning in a few ways. First, I always thought very little of myself. I had no confidence, I was unstable, and I could not experience joy. I took my negative thoughts as truths, and it almost killed me.

These thoughts affected my relationships as well. I viewed distant friends as intentionally ignoring me, and I took their actions personally. I believed that if I hated myself so much, others likely did too. So I distanced myself before others could first.

The thoughts lead to fear of abandonment within my relationship. I couldn’t be alone because of my negative thoughts. They ate away at my mind and spirit, and I felt trapped inside my own dark mind.

I continued to listen and believe these thoughts, and I questioned why my mental health still was not improving.

Slowly, I began to challenge these thoughts. At first, it was very intentional and it took a lot of willpower to reframe what my mind told me. Over time it became more natural, and I no longer had to work through each thought I had.

Now, I will talk to friends and family and they comment on how I am the voice of reason or how I always find the positive of the situation. I don’t do this to be that bright bubbly person we might associate with positivity. I do this to save and protect myself. Negativity is one of my worst enemies. I’ve had to distance myself and cut off relationships due to negativity, so I try very hard to stay positive.

I always thought I was being a realist by acknowledging and listening to negative thoughts. In reality, though, I didn’t believe in myself and what I could overcome and accomplish. I couldn’t recognize the strength and light that was hidden underneath these thoughts.

I will continue to reframe my negative thoughts. It is essential to my recovery and my health. It might seem impossible at first, but thoughts are just that, thoughts.

New Year, Same Me

Another year has passed, and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. But each year, I’m reminded of how most people view a new year.


Most New Years’ resolutions relate to change. We analyze our life and pick out all the things we don’t like about our lives. There are a couple of issues with this method of growth.


First, a New Year’s resolution tells us that who we are currently, isn’t good enough. To become a better person, we need to change what we don’t like about ourselves. If we do this each year, we will never be accepting ourselves for who we are currently. We will always see what needs to be changed, instead of learning to love who we are.


Secondly, making a positive change in one’s life does not need to occur only once a year. I am all for making positive changes: eating healthier, exercising more, or incorporating healthier habits in our lives. But as we know, most resolutions don’t last. So, if we want to change something, just do it, and don’t wait till a new year to help ourselves. If something is truly important, stick with it and make the change.


This year, I’m going to be the exact same me as I was last year, and the year before, and the year before that. I will continue to be worthy, unique, kind, and strong. I will continue to be honest with myself and my needs. I will keep making positive changes when they arise, and I won’t wait till a new year to change something about my life that I’m unhappy with.


For me, this fresh start of a new year is simply an opportunity to let go of all the negativity and stress that I’ve been holding onto this year. I am not becoming a new or improved version of myself, because I don’t need to. Who I am right now, is more than enough.

With Love

This will be Tyler and I’s first Christmas together as a married couple, and I can’t help but reflect on our relationship.


When Tyler and I got married this past October, I felt many emotions. Excitement, joy, love, strength, and a strong sense of peace. And as I stood at the altar, looking at my best friend, I thought to myself- we did it.


From the outside, most relationships appear perfect and straightforward. Others can see love and devotion, but others cannot see many aspects of a relationship.


The odds have been against us, and we have worked incredibly hard to stay together.
The beginning is always easy. You find that perfect match, and you believe things will continue to be blissful—That’s how I felt when I met Tyler.


Then life happened. My illnesses worsened, I developed a personality disorder, I questioned my future, and I fought to stay alive. Tyler attempted to juggle supporting my mental health, being in a relationship, and transiting from college to career. We both tried to survive the world and simultaneously love and grow with each other.


I struggled with maintaining expectations and communicating my thoughts and feelings with Tyler. I also worked to grow individually and found myself unhappily stuck in an unhealthy life.


Tyler struggled to balance, supporting me as a partner and as an individual with severe mental illnesses. He also found it challenging to balance his own life with our life.


We both needed to learn how to be our own people, and at points, we were holding each other back.


At times our future seemed uncertain, but in my heart, I knew I would never stop trying. That’s really what matters most. We find love, and we never stop trying to keep it.


Tyler, I love you with all my heart. I am so proud of you, us, and what we have overcome and accomplished together. I cannot wait to keep learning, growing, and being happy with you.


With love,
Ashley