Free Falling

First thought: I am a hypocrite. On my Instagram and blog, I call myself a mental health advocate. I also call myself a feminist. Yet I cannot help but loathe myself a little for not speaking up in the #metoo movement. Even though logically I know that it’s my story and I have a right to choose when and where to tell it and if I’m not comfortable telling my story then that’s ok. Well… that’s what I would say to someone who is not me. but since it is me… this is no excuse.

Second thought… I’m a yo-yo, I both manage to overshare and under share information about myself. I will tell anyone who will listen that I have ADHD in fact, at this point, it’s more like a general disclaimer when I meet anyone new… I also feel the urge to disclaim my borderline personality disorder… it’s my way of apologizing in advance for being me. However, asking for help from a friend, telling someone that I am currently not coping… that I couldn’t possibly imagine sharing with someone. I’d rather just avoid people altogether… and then I get lonely. oh yes! I swing from pushing people away to being desperate for company. I look on at groups of friends talking and all I want is to be a part of it… until I am and then I’m panicking and searching for a way to escape it because people are generally terrifying… what with their words and their perceptions. Apparently, nothing is more terrifying to my anxious mind than being judged by others, whether I know them or not.

Third thought… step back and breathe.

actually, I lie, this is most likely my 10025th thought.  I have so many thoughts at one time that most of the time its impossible to distinguish which thought is which and in what order they arrive. It’s mostly just a hot mess of words and emotion in my head.

See tonight my colleagues will be panicking and burning the midnight oil to be able to submit their essays tomorrow. I won’t be doing that because I have an extension. (because of the ADHD) And never have I felt more stupid, pathetic and worthless than right now (ok that’s an exaggeration but IT REALLY FEELS THAT WAY IN THE MOMENT!).

 

… why am I writing this again?

oh yes.. the third thought.

STEP BACK AND BREATHE.

So simple yet so. fucking. difficult.

I can feel myself wanting to spiral down through negative thoughts, through doubt and anxiety. I can feel myself wanting to run away from my problems anyway I can. I can feel myself wanting to resort to problem behaviors, but I also don’t want to resort to those behaviors because I have worked so hard at my recovery and I don’t want to backslide again.

So I’m here, writing my feelings down as a way of processing and as a way of feeling heard. It’s my way of stopping and noticing that I might just be slipping down the rabbit hole. (This is actually a far too gentle a metaphor for my head but “slipping down Satan’s arsehole” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

I apologize for the slightly nonsensical tangent, and this post will most likely be gone by the morning. But for now, this is my way of expressing my feelings to everyone and no one at the same time.

I have a lot of emotions and expressing them is one of my greatest challenges. Especially when it’s in the moment. So this is a new experiment, writing in the moment, while the feelings are ugly and raw… fresh out of Satan’s arsehole as it were.

Enjoy.

The lonely whale

A couple of years ago I wrote a short play called 52 Hertz. The concept of the play was all about communication, or more appropriately, a break down of communication. My inspiration was from the worlds loneliest whale who’s song rang out on a different frequency to other whales in its species. Meaning that this whale was unable to communicate with others of its kind. Her song fell in deaf ears. I relate a lot to that whale. I feel as though I live on a different frequency to most of those around me. Regardless to how many people surround me, I always end up feeling disconnected and alone. 

I look on at social groups with envy. Everyone seems in sync. They talk, they laugh, they are heard. They belong. No matter how I try I always feel outside of the circle. 

Being diagnosed with BPD has helped me with understand why I don’t connect as easily with people. But it doesn’t make it any easier. When I try to engage in group conversation I feel awkward, my speech is stilted. I’m a mess, because I want so badly to belong and be included. 

I don’t know if it’s all in my head. If it is then I am truly mad. To always feel like I don’t fit, I don’t belong. The only thing I can do is keep trying and keep hoping that it is all in my head, and as soon as I learn to let it go, I’ll find that I belonged all the time. 

Fingers crossed. 

BPD and Back to school

Yay! It’s that time again! Back to school time! Can you feel the crippling anxiety in your bones? I know I can!

It’s been a year since I graduated with BA, I wanted to take a year out to gain some work experience and some perspective.
At least that was the plan… But as we all know things don’t always go as we plan. I didn’t plan to have a nervous breakdown when the structure that the academic world provided me was no longer there. I didn’t plan to spend a month in a psychiatric hospital or to spend the better part of the year in intensive therapy.
HOWEVER. Falling apart have just be the best thing to ever happen to me… in a really dark and fucked up kind of way. If I hadn’t crumpled into a total dysfunctional pile, I may have never gone to Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. I wouldn’t have learnt to understand my borderline personality disorder and taken the steps necessary to rewire my brain. I’m not saying I’m magically perfect now, far from it but when I fell apart, I had the opportunity to learn, grow and put my pieces back together differently.
I feel so much more in control of my thoughts, my emotions (kinda) and my relationships.

I now feel ready to get back in the game. Back to school. Back to reality. I have just registered as an MA student and I couldn’t be more excited or determined.

Having said that. I’m shitting myself.

I may not be depressed anymore but the ADHD, BPD and anxiety haven’t magically disappeared. There will blood, sweat and tears… possibly all on the first day. I have a knack of working myself up into a panic rather easily and panic attacks happen regularly when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Past Nicci would have kept her metaphorical ostrich head in the ground (I keep my literal ostrich head under my bed) and have simply tried to suppress the feelings of instability and panic rising up inside her. But this is present Nicci. Present Nicci has a plan. Present Nicci has a… wait for it…

 Mental Health Care kit!

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Boom!

This bag contains everything I might need to deal with emotional deregulation when away from home.

For my panic attacks which usually consist of hyperventilation, ugly and uncontrollable sobbing I have tissues, my ventilator (cos of all the hyper breathing), rescue remedy (which doesn’t really work but I’m hoping my brain doesn’t know that), eye drops (for the redness) and a small mirror (to fix the hot mess that is my face).  Also like to keep a bag of dried lavender to calm me down and keep me mindful.

For my self harm urges and disassociation episodes I have super sour spray and a fidget cube. Although I would rarely self harm in public I do have a nervous habit of picking at my skin, scratching and digging my nails into my skin. The fidget cube helps to keep my hands busy. The sour spray gives me something strong and sensory to focus on.

For sensory overload I have earplugs. When I feel myself going into overload noise is often the biggest trigger and can be the tipping point from sanity into emotional chaos. For good measure I also have a cheerful aromatic balm to place on pulse points. The scent is delicate enough not to be overwhelming and it helps me to stay present by focusing on the smell.

Last but not least I have an Emergency Action Plan. When I’m deregulated or disassociating it can be almost impossible to think coherently. Having notes in my bag will help me to remember what to do to help myself.

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I also included my STOP notes which help me to make mindful decisions and not act on destructive impulses.

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These are the items that I have chosen for my care bag as I know what works for me. The great thing about a care bag is that you can tailor it to your needs. Think carefully on what helps you feel calm and centred but also consider practical options like tissues. Choose items that will help you to stay mindful and grounded. Maybe you want to add an emergency chocolate bar if your blood sugar drops.

So there we have it. My care bag. It’s my own back to school preparation. I know it won’t be easy and I know that I’m going to have my bad days, but I certainly feel more ready to face them knowing that I have tools I need with me.

What would you put in your care bag? Let me know in the comments.

It’s just a day.

 

Today I am a prisoner to my own mind.
It’s a little cliche but its true. It’s been a beautiful day today, the first real taste of Summer. If I wanted to I could spend the day outside, with my dog. In the park.
I love the sun, I chase after it whenever I have the chance.

Unless I’m “having a day”. A day where it’s hard to leave the house. A day where I’m too caught up in my own mind to do much of anything, writing currently excluded.*

Outside, yes. That’s where I want to be, but it’s like there’s an invisibe force today that’s pushing me down. I’m anxious… about everything, I don’t know how many times I’ve got up to get dressed only to find myself sitting down again.

I keep telling myself I’ll get up, I’ll get dressed, I’ll go to the park. I’ll walk, I’ll talk, I’ll breathe, I’ll function, I’ll be.
It shouldn’t be this hard.
But it is, and that’s okay. That’s today. Today is not over yet.

Today doesn’t have to be a bad day. I’ll be kind and patient with myself but I have at least try. So I can go to bed tonight and say “I really did try.” So I haven’t cancelled my evening plans to go to the theatre… I’m sure I can get myself out the house for that.

The day’s note over;

…Yay optimism.

*I’m actually quite surprised I’ve started writing again. I think I forgot how much of a relief it was to pull the thoughts out of my head and see them on paper. Maybe I have more of a chance of making sense of them then. And this entry literally is just a spewing of thoughts to text. No editing. Otherwise I overthink it and never post it.

A tired toy

I find myself falling into my mind
a tunnel drawing me in

I am falling inwards and outwards
as I split in half
Body and Mind

My body hums a numb white noise
You can touch me
but the echos of touch will be drowned out

By that numb hum

My body a mechanical thing
A tired toy losing
what it is

That makes it run.

Why Stef Sanjati is my Inspiration

I’ve never written fan mail. This feels weird so… bear with me.
Thanks. – My Self-esteem

Who is she?

If you don’t know who Stef Sanjati is: She is a Canadian transgendered woman who has documented her transition on Youtube and is now a year into her hormone treatment. She’s also an amazeballs make-up artist (like camel sized amazeballs).

I was lucky enough to come across her videos a year ago so I’ve had the privilege of following her on this journey. I have learnt so much from her, her attitude towards life and the ferocity of her spirit deserves to be admired.

Her videos definitely speak to more than just the transgendered community. My friends, the people who knew me where surprised when they find out about my strong advocacy for gender reassignment surgery. Why would a 26 year old cisgendered woman be so invested in this subject? Which often led to the question ” Is their something  you want to tell me?” (To be fair I did write a play on the subject.)

No. I’m not questioning my gender identity. I know my sexual identity is bisexual/pansexual. I do have an unstable sense of identity and do struggle with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD)*. Unstable emotions and identity are symptoms of BPD. I’ve really struggled this year because I didn’t know who I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do with my life, this was topped with a depressive episode that led to a short stint in a Psychiatric hospital. I’m now attending  Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

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Did I mention that she’s totally gorgeous as well? – @stefsanjati

 

So why is she my role model?

She taught me to chase after my happiness. She knows who she is, she’s learnt to accept herself for who she is and she has worked hard to do what makes her happy. I, on the other hand, am so concerned with what others think of me.  I have to be the person they want and not who I want to be. In Stef’s (a.k.a Bread Mom’s) videos she discusses her whole journey, and explains how and why she decided to fully transition. Often stating that her choice is what feels right for her but may not be the right choice for everyone and that’s okay. She share’s how her mental health has improved since being able to accept herself and work towards reducing her gender dysphoria. I struggle with my own kind of dysphoria. I often feel a disconnected from who I really am. I know who I am but often my anxiety and depression suppress my ability to be who I am. I hide behind mask,  my own fears and insecurities preventing me from working to be the person I know want to be. To do what I need to do to be at peace with myself.

Stef Sanjati very openly states that she know’s who she is. She always knew she was a girl, no matter how hard others insisted she was a boy. She knew who she was and she’s worked to do what will make her happy and not let society’s opinions suppress who she is. She knows she is worthy of love and acceptance despite the adversity she has faced.

To learn about her journey in her own words watch her video:
My Transition Timeline (so far!) | 1 year on Estrogen

 

So I have decided to take steps to reach my own happiness.

Step one….

Knowing what I want.

  • I want to accept myself as I am and do what makes me happy despite fearing rejection for my life choices.
  • I want to openly accept my sexuality without feeling like its something to be ashamed about.
  • I want to be healthy but I also want to love my body for the way it is. – I know society says I have to look a certain way in order to love myself but I am learning that I really don’t have to apologise for my body, for my opinions.
  • I want to learn to openly and honestly express myself and to not be afraid about communicating my needs to others
  • I want to live lovingly and to fight discrimination against anyone who falls outside the parameters of ‘normal’. 

All of this is a work in progress but I’m getting there.

Stef will be undergoing her FFS (facial feminisation surgery) very soon and I’m so excited for her in this next big step of her life. Do check out her channel on youtube, watch some of her videos. I promise you’ll have a laugh and learn something new.

I’m gonna end this now before this gets all Kathy Bates…

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*Endnote: I don’t believe that being trans or having gender dysphoria is a mental disorder. I believe that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and psychotherapy is the way to treat the condition.