Grief (TW: Death mention)

Hey there, friends!

I know there should have been a post yesterday and there wasn’t. I have a good explanation for that for once.

Last week, I found out a dear old friend of mine had passed suddenly. Her funeral was yesterday, and I frankly wasn’t in the right headspace to write here.

To be honest, I’m still not in the best headspace to be writing, but I did want to make a post to acknowledge 1. that I screwed up my schedule again and I’m sorry, but 2. that I lost someone important to me.

We hadn’t talked in nearly two years since I moved to my new city. We were coworkers a few years back, though, and though we never hung out outside of work, I always considered her a friend. She was one of my favourite people to work with. She was always such a ray of light, even on my worst days. Or her worst days. Even if she wasn’t feeling well, she’d always try to make people smile.

Everyone that knew her was so lucky to have that privilege. It’s something I took for granted, and I wish I hadn’t. You never expect someone you love to go so soon, or maybe not at all. The idea of my friends and family passing is so foreign to me, though I’ve experienced loss before. It just feels like something that shouldn’t happen.

To say I was shocked when I opened up my Facebook feed on Thursday night to the news of her passing would be an understatement. She was a bright, beautiful, funny soul, and I am absolutely devastated knowing that I will never see or talk to her again.

I wish I could turn back time and stay in touch with her. Though I’m sure that would break my heart even more to lose her now.

There are so many things I wish I could still say to her. I hope she knew that there were so many people that loved her, even if they didn’t talk to her often anymore.

I’ve been struggling with my grief, because we weren’t close anymore, but it has still been breaking my heart. I almost feel guilty grieving over someone I haven’t talked to in so long, but I don’t have much choice over the way I feel.

Anyway, that’s it for this post. I don’t know if I’ll be back on Friday or not. I’d like to be, but things have been difficult lately.

Rest In Peace, my dear friend. I will miss you forever.

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Mental Health Monday #4 — Personal Update

Hey there friends!

We are back with the forth instalment of this series, but today I don’t have any skills to share (well, I have lots to share over the coming weeks, but not today), instead I’ve decided to take the advice of my therapist and share something kinda vulnerable.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m on new medication, and today’s post is about that. So if you’re sensitive to medication posts or anything like that, feel free to click off, no hard feelings!

I think I’ve mentioned in old posts that I’ve changed medications a lot over the years. I tried Zoloft and Cipralex which both made me break out in massive hives, and then I was on Wellbutrin and Abilify, which didn’t do much for me either way.

Then my old doctor switched me to Cymbalta, which helped a lot for a while, but in the end it was making my manic episodes worse.

I was almost at the point of giving up on medication altogether, and then my new doctor put me on lithium for my new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and I started to see some change. I had more motivation, and I actually wanted to do things for once. It was nice to feel “normal” for a change, but the side effects were a lot to handle. I was dizzy all the time and couldn’t sleep, I was nauseated and hallucinating, and my doctor said I should try something else.

So along came Seroquel XR which made me EXHAUSTED and dizzy, and I thought my depressed episodes were getting worse, but my doctor actually upped my dosage this past Friday, despite sounding counterproductive to me, and you know what? I think it might be working.

I am still super tired, and now I’ve got the added symptom of restlessness, but I’m actually way more motivated than I’ve been in a long time. “Happy” is still a stretch for me, but I’m doing okay.

So, I guess the point of this post is to tell you that it may be frustrating finding the right medication, or the right doctor, or the right therapy, but it’s worth hanging on for.

Again, I’m still not where I wish I was, but I’m getting there. Don’t give up. You deserve to get help, too.

If you’re on psychiatric medication, what are you on? Does it work for you? How many times did you have to switch before you found something? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your stories!

As always, and especially in times like these, stay safe, friends.

Until next post,

Paige 🙂

Mental Health Monday #3 — A Few DBT Skills (TIPP & cold water)

Hiya friends! Welcome to third instalment of my mental health Monday series.

To be honest, I nearly forgot about this handy little acronym, though it’s one of the first skills I learned in DBT! The TIPP skill is great because it’s about basically tricking your body, which tricks your brain. Both TIPP and the Cold Water skill are great for when you’re experiencing extreme and potentially dangerous or harmful emotions that you need to change such as anxiety or anger.

T – Temperature

I – Intense exercise

P – Paced breathing

P – Paired Muscle Relaxation

Temperature. The idea here is to cool your body down. Take a super cold shower. Put an ice pack over your eyes and cheeks. Put your face in a bowl of ice water (another skill I’ll discuss at the end of this post!)

Intense exercise. Exactly as it sounds. When we experience strong emotions, our bodies create excess physical energy, that can lead us to being impulsive or doing something harmful. So, go for a run! Walk on the treadmill at a brisk pace. Lift weights. Do Zumba. Make sure you get your heart rate going and work up some sweat!

Paced breathing. Take big, deep breaths in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth for even longer periods. I learned a technique a few years ago called the 4-7-8 method for breathing. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds (make sure to count your Mississippi’s!), hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds through your mouth. Do this 3-5 times until you feel calmer. 

The paces breathing especially is honestly a God send for anxiety, but works well for anger and sadness as well. Probably other things too.

Takes some practice, but I would highly recommend it!

Paired muscle relaxation. Breathe in and tense the muscles in your body, notice how that makes you feel. Then, when you breathe out, relax all that tension, and notice how you feel when you aren’t all tensed up. I recommend starting with “easy” muscles like hands, legs, toes, shoulders, etc.

For the cold water skill, it doesn’t actually have to be ice water, but make sure it’s cold. Hold your face in a bowl or sink full of cold water for somewhere between 15-30 seconds.

Scientists say that this triggers a response in your brain called the “dive response”. 

It tricks our brains into thinking that we’re actually quite literally diving under water, so to compensate, our brains will send signals to our heart to slow down a bit. Blood flow to our extremities get slowed way down, and instead the blood gets redirected to more “vital” parts of us, such as the brain and heart. 

Alrighty, friends! That’s all I have for today.

Like I mentioned last week, I’m on new meds again and I’m so tired, so writing is a bit harder than usual but I’m trying to stick with it.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have, but keep in mind, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m still learning myself.

Keep your chin up.

As always, and especially in times like these, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends!

Paige

Mental Health Monday #2 – An Apology and a DBT skill (Wise Mind ACCEPTS)

Hi again, friends!

Sorry I didn’t make a post last week. I bet you thought I disappeared again, but I didn’t.

These last few weeks have been rough. I’ve changed medications twice since I wrote last, I think, and I’ve had a lot going on mentally and situationally.

Today is day two of Seroquel and it’s kinda kicking my ass, honestly. I’m exhausted and having a bit of a rough day mentally, but I decided that if all I get done today is this post, then that can be enough for me.

So with that said, I’m going to write about this skill in DBT called Wise Mind ACCEPTS.

If you recall my last post, I talked about the difference between wise mind, emotional mind, and reasonable mind.

Wise mind is the place where reason and emotion meet.

ACCEPTS is an acronym. It stands for:

A – Activities. 

C – Contributing.

C – Comparisons.

E – Emotions.

P – Pushing away.

T – Thoughts.

S – Sensations. 

These are all distraction techniques, but the acronym is a helpful way to remember them. In no way are you meant to do all of these things at once.

Activities can be things like exercising, cleaning your house or bedroom, watching your favourite movie, or starting that new show you’ve been meaning to watch, or reading a book. The point is to do something you enjoy.

Contributing can be things like volunteer work, or donating things you don’t want or need anymore, or messaging an old friend and giving them words of encouragement, or heck, even go hug someone you love.

Comparisons are when you think back on old situations and appreciating how far you’ve come. 

Emotions. Try to evoke an emotion in yourself other than the one you’re feeling right now. If you’re sad, watch a comedy that will make you laugh. If you’re angry, listen to your favourite happy or sad song. The point is to feel another strong emotion other than the one that caused you to use the skill in the first place.

Pushing away is about setting your current emotion aside for now. This doesn’t mean forgetting about it or avoiding it forever, but if you’re unable to deal with your present emotion, try to find a way to think about other things.

Thoughts are about distracting your current thoughts. Start counting, whether you just want to count to 10 or 100, or count the colours you see in a room, literally anything you want. Or if numbers aren’t your favourite, try to remember all of the words to a song you know, or focus on the words in a book. It’s all about focus.

Sensations are about creating new physical sensations in your body to distract from emotions. You can do this by holding an iced cube in your fist, taking a warm or cold shower, getting someone close to us emotionally to scratch your back or “pet” your hair. Squeeze a stress ball. Eat spicy food. Stuff like that.

These things help distract us from our current situations and emotions until the emotion is “cooler” or more calmed down, or the situation feels less overwhelming, and we can (hopefully) return to it in wise mind.

Alrighty, friends, that’s it for me for now because I feel like garbage. Hopefully you find some help in posts like these. Feel free to ask any questions you may have, but keep in mind, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m still learning myself.

Keep on keeping on.

As always, and especially in times like these, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends!

Paige

Mental Health Monday #1 – A Personal Update & A Coping Skill (DBT // STOP! Skill)

Hello friends!

Wasn’t actually planning on posting this post until next Monday because I had another post planned for tomorrow, but tomorrow’s post has been postponed or possibly cancelled, depending on whether I can ever get it to sound the way I want.

So, instead of just saying “forget it” and not posting a blog post at all this week, I’ve decided now is the perfect time to start this series I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

First of all, for the sake of those uninterested in my own personal updates, I will talk about a coping skill that I’ve found helpful, and then I’ll talk about what the heck has been up with me at the bottom so you can just skip the “boring” stuff.

So, I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was about 15 or 16, I think. I’ve tried talk-therapy, religious therapy, medication, no medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), that I can remember. I am NOT a mental health professional in any way, and I would always advise seeing a professional if you need help, but I still want to share a few things I’ve learned.

My favourite form of therapy has to be DBT, but I have definitely gleaned a good amount of information from other forms of therapy.

The skill I want to talk to you about today is the STOP skill from DBT.

The STOP skill is especially helpful in crisis situations, but can be used in other situations as well.

It’s an acronym that stands for:

S – Stop! You’re probably experiencing a strong or “hot” emotion right now, but do not react to that emotion. This is hard, but it’s important. Reacting to strong emotions often leads to regrets, fights, or sometimes damage or harm to ourselves.

T – Take a step back. When possible, remove yourself from the situation entirely for a while. Take some deep breaths at the very least. It’s best if you can take some time to really cool down, but this isn’t always possible. We’ll be discussing distraction techniques in an upcoming post*, though, in the event that you do get the chance to take a break from the situation. The main goal here is still NOT reacting to your strong emotions until you’ve “cooled down” a bit and can return to it with a “wise mind”.

DBT teaches us that there are three mindsets to be in. 

These are emotional mind, reasonable or logical mind, and wise mind.

Emotional mind is often the easiest mindset to slip into. It’s where our emotions take control of our actions and thoughts, and can cause us to act impulsively.

Reasonable or “logical” mind is where we approach a situation completely with our intellect and fact. This may sound like a good way to approach things, but we can come across as cold or unfeeling this way. 

Wise mind is the mindset where we try to see both the emotional side and the reasonable or “logical” side, and find the course of action that fits both sides, if there is one.

O – Observe. Take a second to notice your surroundings, and how your body feels, and finally your emotions. The trick is to just notice these things and try to let them go. This isn’t always possible, but noticing is the first step. I’ll talk more about that in another post as well.

P – Proceed mindfully. Think about your desired outcome in the situation, and take the necessary steps with a new awareness. What can you do to make the situation better, and what actions should you avoid that will make the situation worse?

And that’s it! This skill is to hopefully help stop us from making bad decisions.

*As much as I’d love to discuss distraction tips and what they call “non-judgemental stance” in this post, I feel like I’m already rambling too much, and I want to keep these Monday posts as “bite sized” and easy to digest as possible.

And now quick update on my own personal mental health, because as mentioned, I’ve already rambled too much!

I was diagnosed three or so years ago with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and have tried a bunch of medications, and honestly, I just seemed to be getting worse. I was in and out of the hospital, increased intensity of my manic and depressed episodes, and more. So I recently changed doctors and wouldn’t you know it? I have bipolar disorder!

It was scary as all get out to get a new diagnosis after adjusting to my old diagnosis and learning to “cope” with BPD, but ultimately I think it’s probably a good thing because now I can try proper medication and get proper therapy. It’s been a long, hard road. But for the first time in forever I’m starting to feel like maybe I can get better.

It was so frustrating to be working so hard at getting better and not getting anywhere, but now I understand why.

It’s too soon to know if the new meds are working, but I am optimistic.

Thanks for reading.

As always, and especially in times like these, take care of yourselves and your loved ones, friends!

Paige

2020 – Back Again?

Hello Friends! I’m back. Again. Hoping that maybe I can actually stick to this habit this time.

I used to enjoy blogging, but I got stuck in my head a lot, and to be honest, I still am, but this is me, trying to push past those mental blocks and get back into the swing of things.

So much has changed since I was here last, and I intend to talk about as much of it as I can remember over the next few weeks, but as a quick summary to whet your whistles:

  • I live with my fiancee now, as well as our two cats, and a crested gecko! It’s a crazy, wonderful life. That’ll be a whole post in itself, I think, but not because I live somewhere else. You’ll have to read the post, I guess 😛
  • I don’t really write poetry/prose anymore, but I want to get back into it. We’ll see how that goes. If it goes well I might post that on here, but again . . . we’ll see.
  • My mental health has been a rollercoaster and a half, as usual, but now I have a diagnosis. After being misdiagnosed for a while and on the completely wrong medication. I am currently unmedicated again which is a mess, but hopefully not for much longer. I have a phone appointment with my therapist on this upcoming Thursday and should know more then.
  • I think I’ve gotten two new tattoos since I made my initial tattoo post, and am hoping to get another one sorta soon. I’ll update for sure with pictures of my newer ones, and if I end up getting a new one soon I’d like to post about that a bit more, as well. My tattoos are important to me, for lots of reasons I will probably go into in the tattoo update posts.
  • I didn’t think it was possible for me to get more anxious about writing than I was before, but somehow I have, and it’s caused a huge mental block, which is no fun. But I’m taking baby steps to get back into the swing of things and I love it.
  • Unfortunately no longer working, which is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.
  • I turned 23! Oof. Feels like I was 16 just yesterday! Where does the time go?
  • Of course there’s SO much happening in the world right now. Not entirely sure how political I want to get on this blog, despite viewing myself as a fairly socially and politically minded person, I don’t want this to turn into a super negative space.

I think those are the major things for now.

So, I know I’ve said this before and failed, but expect a bunch of posts over the next few weeks (no more than two a week, though!)

Let me know in the comments if you have any feedback or questions!

As always, but especially in times like these, stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones, friends!

Paige

An Update

Well, my friends, needless to say sometimes life does not go the way we plan it. 

The past week and a half-ish has been rough. First of all, I’ve been struggling with my mental health something fierce (but I’ll touch more on that in another post, I think!), and everything that could go wrong seemingly has. 

My computer fizzed out on me, and I’m the idiot that never backs up her work*, so I lost EVERYTHING for my NaNoWriMo project this year, as well as the half-finished draft of Awake.

*Or at least I used to be. I certainly won’t be anymore! 

I’m honestly heartbroken, but I’m trying my best to get back on track — though I certainly won’t be finishing NaNoWriMo with 50k this year now, and I probably won’t have the rough draft of Awake done by February, I know I did my best. 

And it taught me a valuable lesson: BACK UP YOUR WORK EVERY TIME YOU QUIT! To several places. Just saving it to your computer isn’t enough. 

And maybe it’s for the best. Maybe I’ll write a better story now that the old draft is gone. Or at least that’s what I have to tell myself to keep from getting too discouraged.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Love you guys, 

Paige

How to Win NaNoWriMo (+ A Personal Update)

Let me start by saying I’m afraid to make this post, but it’s been a few weeks, and I owe you guys an update.

There are several reasons making this post scares me:

For starters, I’m afraid you’ll judge me for jumping ship on Awake for the next few weeks. I’m about halfway-ish through it, and I’m going to finish the rough draft at least by the end of January, you can hold me to that.

But more than that, I’m afraid to write this post because I have some kind of performance anxiety. As soon as I tell people “I’m doing [X]” I start to panic about doing X, even if I’ve been doing it well up until that point.

That’s the case with this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m a few thousand words behind where I’d like to be at the moment (though technically I’m still on target!), but I’ve written every day so far and I fully intend to finish with 50,000 words at the end of the month if it kills me.

Anyway, Arrival is in full swing, and as much as I want to bang my head off my coffee table (because I don’t work at a desk) and scream, there’s also a huge sense of pride that I’m creating something new again.

The feeling of writing a novel is slightly intoxicating to me, and that’s why I write.

NaNo’s been difficult this year because I’m working 35-40 hours a week, and so I’m trying to keep up with that, plus trying to keep up my relationship (thank goodness she’s ALSO doing NaNoWriMo this year, so she understands) is kind of exhausting, but it’s been good. I haven’t felt this Alive (pun intended) in a long while.

NaNoWriMo is always kinda hard, though. You’re writing an entire novel in 30 days, for heaven’s sake! But it’s totally possible with a few key things to help you along the way:

GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE

Up ’til this year I’ve always novelled at home, but this year my fiancee and I have decided to get out as much as possible, and it’s helping SO MUCH.

I was always against the idea of novelling anywhere else, thinking it would be distracting or I’d feel too much pressure, but honestly, just finding a Starbucks and settling down with a caramel brulee frappucino and some good music in your earbuds is where it’s at, my friends. I wrote 2000 words in a McDonald’s yesterday, too. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything fancy, it just has to be somewhere outside of your house that you can sit down and focus.

CAFFEINE

I understand that caffeine isn’t for everyone, but for ME, caffeine is a lifesaver. Like I said earlier, I’m working 35-40 hours a week, which isn’t really that much, but it’s enough to make me want to come home and nap for eight hours, and then go to bed for another eight hours. (I guess the depression doesn’t help here, but that’s another story for another day!) So anyway, my caffeine consumption has at least DOUBLED since I started NaNo eleven days ago. Whoops.

SLEEP

On the other side of caffeine there is my other best friend: sleep. I already mentioned that it’s something I want to do far too much of, but human beings really do need to sleep to repair our bodies and refresh our minds, so during NaNoWriMo, allow yourself to get some sleep. I don’t know what your schedule is like, but try to make sure you’re getting at least 6 hours of sleep. I’d recommend more, but then I’d be a hypocrite.

HARD WORK

This is the one most people don’t like, but it’s important. The fact is, you won’t succeed in anything, especially not NaNoWriMo without putting the effort in. If you think participating in NaNo will be a cake walk, it won’t. But I promise you, it will be worth it in the end.

And this is not something you ‘need’ per se, but something you need to DO, rather: ditch your inner editor.

Of the 2000 words I wrote yesterday, I’ve already decided I’ll probably cut 1250 of them in editing later, but is that stopping me from continuing the story? No. Am I cutting those words out now? No. Because I still know where my story’s going, and I’m pretending those scenes/words don’t exist for now, and I still wrote those words, and they’ll be part of this story until the editing process, so I think it counts.

Because I’m working in Scrivener it’s really easy to just separate the scenes I don’t like and label them SEMI PERMANENT or [DELETE LATER] but if you’re working in Docs or Word or any other writing program that doesn’t separate your novel scene-by-scene, just use something to separate it for yourself like highlighting or [!]’s at the start and end of the paragraphs/scenes/whatever you want to delete and you can worry about it later.

If you get hung up on fixing and editing and tweaking right now, you won’t finish NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, that’s my ‘advice’ for finishing NaNoWriMo, do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!

Lots going on!

Hey everybody, it’s been a while since I made a post here, and I’m sorry for that, but! I have some exciting stuff going on that I hope makes up for it.

 

  1. I started a Patreon! So if you want to support me on a more consistent basis, head on over there for the rough drafts I’m working on + Alive in all its glory.
  2. No worries if you can’t/don’t want to, though, because all of my rough draft work will be posted on my new Wattpad account approximately a week after my Friends on Patreon have it.
  3. Awake is in full swing over on Wattpad already, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys.
  4. I’m PLANNING on doing NaNoWriMo this year, so you can find me over there if you want to. I’d love to be friends, if you’re participating! Now, whether or not I’ll SUCCEED in NaNoWriMo is a whole different story, but I’m going to try!

I think that’s all the major stuff. I’m going to go work on Awake for now, and I’ll talk to you guys again soon, I promise.

Long Time Coming

Hello hello, friends!

It’s been far too long since I made a post, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make this one either, because that means Coming Back, and I’m not very good at keeping up with this blog anymore, but y’know what? I’m gonna try my best.

And my best may not be very good, but it will be my best.

 

Today I have exciting news! I finally published Alive: A Journey To Redemption!

After five freaking years of writing and rewriting, it’s finally done and ready for public consumption!

It feels a little surreal, to be honest. I feel like I should still be fussing over describing Riley in the diner, and nitpicking at words in the end scenes, but I’m not.

Instead I’m working on Awake: A Work In Progress, and it feels good.

 

I don’t really have much else to say in this post, but I promise I’ll try to be here more over the next little while.

Thank you for your patience.