- Hannah S. “Hope”
- Melanie “Me”
- Katie M. “Stigma”
- Marie “The Artist”
- T.L. “Shadow”
- Martyn “Lost Boy”
- Wughangar R. “Tough Lessons”
- Joseph S. “Blessings”
- Lorrine “First Love Yourself”
- Michelle “Love is my Heaven” (poem)
- Megan G. “Not Broken”
- Cindy M. “Strength”
Hannah S. “Hope”
It was during a day with my sisters that I decided to get my latest tattoo. I went last and waited for then to leave the room before letting the artist get too close to my lower wrist. I quietly explained the exact way I wanted it placed over a particular scar and sat quietly while it was completed. I had had this scar since I was 17 and been lucky that it healed too faint for most to notice. I never had to worry about covering it or dealing with the concerned looks normal scars get. But those two silver raised lines on my skin caught my attention more then I liked, each time reminding me of the time I lost hope.
I don’t talk about this time of my life often. As open as I am about myself there are still things that hurt to remember. I was 17, still in high school and trying to make it out on my own. A survivor of abuse, abandoned by my family, I had found comfort with a friend that soon turned into a sexual assault. Suicide had crossed my mind before but this was different. I no longer knew if I even was alive. Seventeen years of experience told me I was worthless and I finally believed it. I was so numb and exhausted I wasn’t sure I would feel anything, I wasn’t sure I could.
I don’t even remember picking up the knife, I didn’t register the pain, the blood was the only thing that showed any proof that I was still alive. I hadn’t tried to kill myself, I wasn’t even near a vein. I just wanted to feel something, to feel like there was life in my body. I would love to say that it was this moment that clarity hit and I made a magical turn around. The truth is it would take me over a year to finally find the surface to the pain I was drowning in. But the important part is that I did.
This tattoo was not meant to cover a scar that I am ashamed of. But rather a symbol of my acceptance. It took time and work but I have finally learned to acknowledge my past and be proud of my survival. After everything I found hope. And now I spread this hope to you by breaking the silence on this part of my story. Managing mental health is not easy. When things are dark it is hard to believe we can ever find a way out. But there is a way out and that darkness will end. Every story in this thread is proof of that. We survived and we know so can you.
Learn more about my story here: https://sillercounseling.wordpress.com/category/diary-of-a-trauma-survivor/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Learn more or contact them at 800-273-8255
I struggle with Complex ptsd and generalized anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed in 2018 and it was a relief. Seeing a therapist and hearing that it wasn’t my fault was a blessing. I would run and hide myself from the world believing I was the problem. I was the freak or the loser. I would pull at my skin or cause myself physical pain. Many times I wanted my life to end or for someone to end it for me. Then I met the love of my life who our relationship was toxic until 3 years in when we fall in love and happily we got married way later! I have gone through therapy a few times and then I fall back into bad habits. I am proud to say with therapy I have found many ways to help me with anxiety and cope. My recovery story isn’t over but it’s well on it way to becoming a happy ending!
I chose this picture because it was the day I realized it was ok to feel and be myself. It was ok to be me.
Katie M. “Stigma”
Written in the sand is: “ERASE STIGMA.” Finding hope and healing for our mental health is overcoming self-stigmatization, shame, and guilt from being different. When we grow to accept ourselves, we are courageous, and healing becomes ours. Recovery takes all parts of us. You can see a fragment of a shell in the sand by the “I” in “STIGMA;” stigma discredits the whole person and defines us by our symptoms. We are more than our symptoms. Our healing is encapsulated in our hearts before we can explore it in our minds. We must cultivate that healing into our lives with faith and fortitude. To me, connecting with nature reminds me of the greatness that is beyond our humanity. There is so much that is bigger than us, and we can feel this when we live purposefully. The footprints in the photograph reminds me that sometimes when we are stigmatized, we feel as if others are walking all over us, but when we bravely push forward, our footprints become a roadmap for those who come after us. I’ve channeled my struggles into creative output, I have found strength and fulfillment from connecting with other creatives. I’m linking my blog that promotes mindful mental health for creatives. You matter.
Marie “The Artist”
Hello, my name is Marie. I have Bipolar and PTSD. Something I found in 2017 that helped me cope with my mental health has been art. I started with a how to draw book and YouTube videos. When I have depression or a flashback, I work on art. Then it inspires me to get my to do list done and work on things for my business. I have had PTSD since I was sixteen. I got diagnosed with bipolar at 18 years old. For long time I struggled with alcohol then when I found art I chose to stop drinking and that when I was getting sober, I found out I was pregnant with my son. I choose my go back to college and work to get my A. S. degree in business for my art. I want to show people the power of art and how it can help you have a healthy coping skill. I am working hard to chase my dreams and art is a more than hobby. I hope to one day own an art studio where I can teach classes but for now I will offer online classes. Still in the process of building up a flowing to start doing classes.
I have battled the anxiety monster in my head for so many years. Sometimes the monster just whispers, but other times it screams and yells so loud that it’s hard to function. Whatever the day, it is always there.
I’m not sure if I will ever be able to rid myself of the monster, but I have tamed it, accepted it and made friends with it even.
For better or worse, it’s part of me and my journey. But it is only one part. There is much more to me, and so many reasons for me to be thankful.
So even on the days I really struggle, I try to focus on the positives and remember that I wouldn’t be ‘me’ without anxiety. It’s all part of the fabric that makes me the imperfect but kind person I am.
Life is full of light and shadows, and together they can make a beautiful image. If anxiety is a shadow within me, then my kind heart must be the light. There is no ‘me’ without either, so I must embrace both in the hope that together they create a beautiful image.
Martyn “Lost Boy”
I have suffered with depression most of my adult life; medicated at times, hospitalised once and under the care of a psychiatrist for a while. The depression itself is a painful symptom of something else, apparently, though exactly what that is has never been properly determined. However, my psychiatrist gave me an unofficial diagnosis (I say unofficial given that it’s not recognised much here in the UK) of Peter Pan Syndrome, whereby I basically rejected the perceived and real stresses and responsibilities of everyday life at a deep psychological level. After failed marriages and long periods of insufferable work (my problem rather than the work itself), I learned and realised that it wasn’t actually treatable. The books written on it say that the only time you can really do anything about it is when you’re a teenager, but seeing as it doesn’t really present itself until maturity then this isn’t much help. By then it’s too late and you’re basically required to ride it out until old age and (hopefully) a lessening of responsibility. Eventually, in my late thirties, I went into teaching (which is one of the only professions recommended for the condition, given that your mental age puts you on a level playing field with the students but your (unaffected) learning abilities allow for the appropriate knowledge.
My coping method: art and writing. The real world is often a little too much, so I either write or paint myself into a preferable one. And, for good measure, Tinkerbell is tattooed on my arm in recognition and acceptance.
The picture below is one of my paintings. It depicts me, in around 1975, leaning out of my bedroom window as the vanguard of an alien invasion makes its way across the sky. This was a childhood nightmare but for some reason it gives me comfort.
Wughangar R. “Tough Lessons”
I never thought mental health will be an issue for me. I always prided myself in being strong and able to stand storms. Then it hit and days become tougher and tougher. I couldn’t place why I was sad and just lost energy to do everything. I would literally struggle through stuff, cry every day. Here is the weird thing, I faked being fine so well that no one picked on any clue.
When I finally visited the hospital because I got to a place where I just couldn’t keep on going. I needed help, I had already started having suicidal thoughts. The little knowledge I had, I decided to seek help, I was diagnosed with depression.
I started my meds and therapy that were very helpful. More of my story on my blog. Bottom line, you are not alone and seek help, please. There is always someone willing to help. Don’t suffer in silence because when you do, you are empowering the issue. I realized if I had asked help or even talked to someone maybe I would have handled it earlier and I would have avoided the suicidal thoughts.
When it comes to mental health, the worst thing you could do to yourself in be silent about it.
Joseph S. “Blessings”
Being schizoaffective and high-functioning autistic is a dull life when you have nothing to do around the holidays while there is a pandemic… Being in this pandemic makes staying positive hard. But you can still be optimistic while still depressed, as I am. I get by because I count my blessings and by being grateful for all of my success and all the people who love and know me! You can be positive while suffering just by remember that there will be better days.
As the Hindus say, great periods of suffering will hasten your recovery and bring much more blessings if you remember there will be better days, as karma would dictate. Hang in there!
Lorrine “First Love Yourself”
My feelings of depression started at a young age. I felt like there was nowhere to go and no-one to turn to. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t understand why I was so unhappy. My support system was broken and non existent. I lived in a house full of siblings and had my Mom, but no one talked to each other about anything that lied beneath the surface of our emotions. I remember the first time I felt like taking my life. I was 16 years old. It was a nice summer night in the year 1988 and the stars were shining so bright. I sat outside on the patio that night and remember looking up at the stars. They were so beautiful and bright. I was surrounded with so much beauty, but inside I was broken and sad. I recall saying to myself that I wished I was dead. I was even begging to the sky to let me die so that I didn’t have to feel so much pain in my heart. I was trying to find ways in my head on how I would take my life. Then I remembered learning in Catholic Church as a young girl that one should never take their own life. I didn’t take my own life that night but the feelings of suicide didn’t go away. Years later, these feelings would come back and more intense than ever.
It took me 24 years to overcome the suicidal depression, feeling of unworthiness and hopelessness. Through hard work, determination, lots of therapy and changing the way I think. Seeing the positive side of life, I overcame suicidal depression and so much more. I finally found what I was looking for my entire life, self-love. This was when I transformed my life and found my true happiness. For those of you who are suffering inside and feel like there is no way out, know that you are not alone and that there is hope. Don’t give up! Envision a happier life and it will happen.
Michelle “Love is my Heaven” (poem)
The Oneness of Love, I had to find it within.
The Love I sought to bring others, I found within.
Loving me within – Actioned an inner peace within myself, to lavish onto others.
For Love holds no games, no pride, no competition, no selfish distain.
Love cannot be restricted, confined or contained.
Love breaks through the above; beyond the seen and the unseen, Boundaries, labels, stigma.
For what is Life without Love; and what is Love without Life.
For Love is many things, Love within brings peace within!
LOVE is my heaven in life now. It takes many forms within my life.
For this is the peaceful freedom of my rejuvenated Loving life that I give back to you through me
A Note From the Author
Hi I am Michelle. I published this in 10/12/2018 which I wrote after a lifestyle change and a course of therapy which I still live by today. It has now became the new heaven for all my senses. Heaven became the best moment by loving
Love is my Heaven
Love is my Heaven…!
Megan G. “Not Broken”
On Christmas Eve 2013, I called my boyfriend in the middle of the night sobbing. I was certain he would leave me once he realized how awful and broken I was. I was deeply depressed, and I honestly can’t remember much of that holiday season. It went by in a blur, with all of the fun and happiness completely blocked out by unexplainable darkness.
Fast forward to Christmas Even 2019. My husband and I are staying the night at his parents’ house. Our son sleeps in the playpen next to the guest bed. We snuggle together under holiday-themed blankets after a night of cocoa and presents and smiling. I’m happy.
In the years since that awful Christmas Even night in 2013, I’ve learned that maybe I’m not broken. Maybe I’m not so horrible. I don’t feel confident enough to say that for sure, but simply questioning whether my self-loathing is based in reality or not is a huge step forward. I’ve healed so much since then, and I know I’m only going to continue healing in the future.
Mental illness wins because it lies to us, tells us there is no “better.” But there is. The road is hard and windy, and it may never lead to “perfect,” but we can get to “better.”
Megan Griffith is a professional freelancer and mental health blogger who writes about shame, validation, and healing at her blog, Healing Unscripted. She is a mom, a feminist, and a poet, and her hair is never the same color for more than a few months.
Cindy M. “Strength”
From people trying to force me to doing projects I used to enjoy to being told I’m just paranoid, depression hit me hard and people around me didn’t know how to respond. Sometimes I just needed a hug or a good kitty cuddle and that is what my soul needed. Many people around me didn’t understand nor did they want to try to understand and just treated me like I was crazy. To add to it, I had someone make others think of me as a monster, when inside I just wanted to cry and I hurt to the point of shutting my feelings off. Support from good friends, kitty cuddles, journaling, self discovery and lots of work have helped me to gain control of it and work to be a better me.