December 31, 2011


It's New Years Eve, so it's time for some resolutions. I got a list of "How to Love Yourself" from the program I'm in that seems like a really good list of resolutions. So if you need any ideas, choose a few from this list! I've italicized the parts that I'm going to pay particular attention to.
1. STOP ALL CRITICISM. Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. DON'T SCARE YOURSELF. Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It's a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure (such as a bouquet of yellow roses), and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

3. BE GENTLE AND KIND AND PATIENT. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really love.

4. BE KIND TO YOUR MIND. Self-hatred means that you merely hate your own thoughts. Don't hate yourself for having the thoughts. Decide to gently change them.

5. PRAISE YOURSELF. Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

6. SUPPORT YOURSELF. Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. Make new friends and acquaintances if you need them. Being strong means asking for help when you need it.

7. BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES. Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So go ahead, give yourself permission to lovingly release those old patterns.

8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy and vitality? Exercise is a key factor too. Discover fun, energizing activities that you enjoy doing and do them! Cherish and revere the temple that you live in.

9. MIRROR WORK. Look into your eyes often. Allow yourself to express this growing awareness of your love-ability. Forgive yourself while looking in the mirror too. At least once a day say to yourself: "I love you! I really love you!"

10. LOVE YOURSELF - DO IT NOW. Don't wait until you get well, begin a new relationship, or start your dream job. Choose to begin now - and do the best you can.

December 2, 2011


This was an art therapy drawing. I drew nature, green determination, and pink hope that all stave off the blue and grey depression on either side. This drawing seems fitting for the above list as they are ways of caring for yourself.

December 30, 2011

Art Therapy Round Two: Part 2

I'm blogging with my neighbor's cat right now. He's contributing to lowering my blood pressure and head butting the computer. Both very important jobs.

In the following drawing I used crappy pastels. The prompt was to draw a tree of life. I finished early, so I also wrote a description on the back of the paper.

Tree of Life

November 25, 2011
Description: "The cleansing rain is passing over my tree. The parts it already passed are starting to develop and thrive. The supportive sunshine is helping to motivate a flower of hope to grow. The tree grew in an environment that was difficult. There weren't as many nutrients as it needed, but now that the rain is passing, more things can grow and be healthy and the roots can grow stronger. Part of the tree is still on fire. A support holds the branch up so that it doesn't fall. The rain is beginning to put the flames out. After they're out, the whole tree can begin to thrive after the drought. Other trees and shrubs are nearby the tree so it isn't completely alone. They show that the tree can become filled with flowers once all of the flames are out."

The tree represents me. The rain represents both good and bad. It represents bad times passing by, but in its wake I am stronger. My hard work cleanses away some of the suffering, represented by the flames. The sunshine represents the things that give me hope: using skills has been working, my family and friends are being supportive, I am getting help from the mental health system, and I am finding meaning through making goals. The flower represents the growing hope and the sign of one flower growing means that there are other buds that are about to bloom. The ground is yellow because of my abusive past, but the green sprouts of grass are the things that I've started to change in how I view my past. The support that holds the branch up represents therapy helping to keep me on the right track and holding me up where I am struggling. The plant life surrounding the tree show my friends and family surrounding me and reminding me that I am not alone and that I can feel better.

December 29, 2011


I'm going to use this post to recognize my own accomplishments and improvements. Something someone said to me made me take a look at the progress I've made and question whether it's been real or not because a lot of it has been based, at least secondarily, on the situation with my old therapist. I wasn't sure, for a moment, if I had been concentrating on the right things. However, looking at the things that I have changed have made me very sure that I know myself and I know some of my strengths now. I made a list of strengths and changes I've been making over the past two months.
1. Talking to my family about more of the trauma and having more conversations.
2. Practicing and using skills every time I need to.
3. Learning to sit with emotions and allowing them to pass.
4. Making connections in groups, participating and learning.
5. Learning to have some self-reliance and control over my own recovery.
6. Recognizing negative self-talk and challenging it.
7. Gaining determination to make my life better and more meaningful.
8. Realizing that I'm not the helpless victim in my own life and there can't be an infallible rescuer. 
9. Blogging more about my inner life and being more open about my feelings!
All of these things have made me feel like I've aged a few years over the past two months. All of this awareness just flew into sight. I don't have all of the insight that I could possibly have about myself; I probably don't have the majority, but I know enough to feel proud of myself and sure of myself that these are permanent changes. It's an odd feeling looking back at myself and it's hard to not blame myself for being so much worse off two months ago. It's one of the thoughts I have to constantly fight. I'm just so thankful that the fight is easier now.

My art for today is something that I drew while I was in the hospital two months ago to fight the self-blaming thoughts that I have.

(Warning: graphic descriptions in the following paragraph.) It says, "It wasn't my fault: It was theirs." Most of the things I blame myself for are not my fault. I'm an imperfect person like everyone else and I make mistakes and that does not make me a bad person. As a child, it was never my fault that I was being abused. It was always the abusers' faults. They were disgusting disgusting people and, if there's a hell, I hope they rot in it after suffering a miserable life. I hope someone cuts off their genitals and puts them through a grinder. And then I hope someone rapes them everyday so that they know what it feels like to be so helpless. Sorry to be so gruesome, but that's what abusers deserve.

December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I know that this season can be hard for some people and exciting for others. But I want to wish everyone peace and happiness for the holidays and for 2012!

Inner Peace

December 25, 2011

December 24, 2011

Art Therapy Round Two: Part 1

I've been doing a lot of art therapy because of my hospitalization and the program I'm in, so I'm doing another series of art therapy posts.

November 4, 2011
House on Fire

I don't like this picture. The theme of this was to draw yourself as a building. I drew myself as a house without a door but with a fancy window to look out of, but no one can see in. The fancy window and bright yellow color were supposed to represent the happy front that I put on for other people. The foundations are dilapidated with holes, and you can see the base of flames down there. This represents my abuse history from my childhood affecting my whole life and causing problems. The roof is finally starting to burn, making some of my problems visible to others. But the lack of a door makes it hard for me to either escape or let people in to help. This picture doesn't have any of the hope that I've been trying to insert into my more recent pictures, so it's not my favorite picture.

November 18, 2011
Positive and Negative

This drawing is supposed to show both the positive and negative aspects of my healing. Its drawn with crayons, which aren't as fun as pastels, but they didn't have any pastels. At the bottom I drew the waves of negative feelings that I still have. Anger and pain are at the top, shame and guilt in the middle, and depression underlying everything at the bottom. In the top half of the drawing I drew sunshine for hope and the blue sky represents determination. The red lines represent my support, including therapy and family and friends. The colors between the lines represent how art helps me deal with emotions. Under the bottom red line is my resilience and strength, which helps me deal with some of the emotions.

December 21, 2011

A Note

I am, as usual, feeling sad about not having a connection with a therapist right now. I wish it were as easy to get over it as people keep telling me. I was reading part II of 'Trauma and Recovery' by Judith Herman while I was waiting for three hours at the garage today. Part of it really hit home and made me feel so sad. Basically, before my hospitalization I was feeling really helpless and I had a victim mindset and I wanted someone to rescue me so that I didn't have to go through any more pain. I was giving up and my therapist was fighting for me harder than I was. Looking back on it now, I know that, and I know that isn't good, and I know that I can change that now. I know that my relationship with her shouldn't be like that. I'm so angry that I wasn't able to see that before and that I didn't fight harder for myself. 

My CBT therapist said I have a switch that I turned on because suddenly I had to cope with the world by myself. The switch (which I think is determination) has helped me completely turn my mindset around. I am fighting now and I'm safe now but I'm still upset with how things turned out. I'm frustrated that I can't change the past and I can't change how insanely slowly time is moving now because I want to prove to everyone that I can be in control of my own recovery and that I can fight for myself. I know 100% that I can. 

I know that I can do this with or without my old therapist but she was an incredibly important support for a year and a half, she is the reason that I am where I am in my recovery. When I'm feeling invalidated,  I now tell myself all of the things that she told me that I couldn't take in before. I listen to all of the helpful advice she gave me before that I didn't have the energy to use. I now have this little positive coach that sits in my head with her voice.  But I feel a void in my life because I just really miss talking with her. It's a really horrible and hard mourning process.

My parents gave me "love" and "encouragement" magnets while I was in the hospital. I was making phrases to cheer myself on and then I started writing a little note to her, which still represents how I feel.

December 19, 2011


Basically I'm feeling alone and in pain right now but instead of just shutting down like I feel like doing, I'm lashing out in anger even though I realize it's not really about this. But whatever. I have a cold and I'm not in the mood for all of this bullshit. This whole therapy system is so fucking stupid. First I was in the hospital for nineteen fucking days for self-harm thoughts when I thought it was just going to be a weekend. Everyone seemed to think that I was suicidal and it's suddenly this big deal because of that and I need shit tons of support. And yet they throw me into a program where you're supposed to have an outpatient team at the same time, which I don't. And then every clinic from which we tried to get me a team took weeks to get back to me until I finally heard back from one that can only do an intake in January. My discharge date from this program is the end of December. I'm noticing some fucking holes in this process... All I can say is I'm lucky I'm not actually doing that badly. Basically I'm feeling like saying FUCK ALL THIS SHIT. But I'm not going to because I realize that what I do have is helpful and I wouldn't be where I am without it. Even though it's making me feel alone, at least it's making me more self-reliant. But seriously it's a little ridiculous.

December 19, 2011


I just drew this on my computer right now. It's a bunch of anger over a bunch of pain.

December 17, 2011


I have been pretty busy the past few days so sorry for the small delay in posting. A few good things happened that I'm proud of myself for. First, on Thursday, I finally told my parents the rest of my abuse history. Not details, just the who and when - but I'm still proud of myself for doing that since it was so hard to do. I had to decide to do it and then stop myself from thinking so that the the worry thoughts didn't come up and then I had to start saying it quickly after deciding to do it. It was kind of like ripping the Band-Aid off. They had a good response apart from a little bit of a lack of an emotional reaction, which kind of frustrated me and made me worry that they didn't believe me. It made me feel a little invalidated to not see them have an emotional reaction to what happened. But then we talked about it the next day and they assured me that they do and that even though they weren't showing it that they had a lot of feelings about what I told them. On Friday I didn't isolate and I went to a friend's holiday party and had a lot of fun. And then today I got to go play with cats!!! My volunteer job as "cat cuddler and condo cleaner" at an animal shelter started so I got to hang out with lots of adorable animals. I'm really going to have to push my roommate to adopt now (hint hint, J).

So in honor of all of these good things, I'm going to post a piece that I drew pretty much right after I got out of the hospital. It was the first thing I had drawn in a while that is joyful.


November 19, 2011
I kept seeing all of these beautiful colors in my dreams, so that is where this drawing came from. I don't know where the joy was coming from since I was still a mess over losing my therapist but I think it may have come from a lot of the determination I was feeling. I wanted to feel better and so all of these beautiful colors where appearing in my dreams and swirling together and I was waking up feeling inspired to draw. And this is the result of those dreams!

December 13, 2011

Impulse Control Time

Sooo, I've decided that I have to stop being that crazy person who keeps emailing her old therapist because she can't deal with feeling so helpless about the situation. It's only making me more anxious because she doesn't respond and I then hate myself for emailing her. I'm getting the hint. She's not responding. I should stop emailing. But my impulses are like, "But wait! She needs to know this too! And then maybe she'll change her mind!". I'm thinking maybe a little bit of impulse control will help. Distress tolerance for the helpless feelings. All that good stuff. Thank goodness my CBT therapist didn't leave me too - I get to process some of this stuff when I see her. She assures me that I'm not crazy and that I'm doing well with everything. She said I have a switch that got turned on when I was suddenly thrown into the world by myself and I had to figure out how to cope without my therapist. It was like a do or die moment and I turned the switch on and am now fighting and using skills.

However, it's not really helping that I don't have a new therapist yet. For some reason it's taking multiple people fucking forever to call me for an intake despite many attempts at contacting them. So in the meantime I'm left trying to deal with all of the feelings mostly by myself. Which is good practice I guess, but also a little overwhelming trying to process everything.

I'm just going to keep reminding myself that:

December 12, 2011


I drew these two pictures while I was in the hospital. I was trying to draw balance in both of them as a reminder that there are positive things in my life.

November 8, 2011
Trying to Stay Together

In the middle is how I was feeling while I was in the hospital. Broken up and lots of emotions going on. It was contained by the hospital, represented by the blue ring. Outside of that are petals of a flower. Some petals are missing, representing the negative parts of my life such as dealing with the effects of depression and dealing with PTSD. Some of the petals are bright yellow, representing the positive light parts of my life such as having family to help me through the tough times as well as being there in good times and having supportive friends. Outside of that is the scary unknown. At the time I was feeling hurt, so the unknown looks red and painful because I was scared that's what it was going to be like.

November 11, 2011
Sadness Whirlpool

I drew this one when I was feeling like the sadness of losing my therapist was sucking me downwards. Outside of the sadness on the right is pain and anger. I was feeling very hurt and feeling like I had made horrible mistakes and done stuff wrong and that's why I lost her. On the other side I drew hope. I have a wave of silver, gold and pink at the top and glowing yellow at the bottom left. I wanted to draw the balance of feelings so that I didn't get too sucked into the whirlpool.

December 9, 2011


My parents are all proud of me now for trying to be positive on my blog! (It's this new thing I'm trying, if you hadn't noticed.) So today I'm going to post something I drew for them a little while ago. My parents were awesome and bought me a big box of Sennelier oil pastels, which are very very nice. They're pretty different from what I've been using though so this was also an experimental drawing. They blend much more nicely than what I've been using but they don't have the same precision that I'm used to.

November 18, 2011

I wanted to draw something that represented growth. I didn't mean for it to be so literal with the tree but the drawing just kind of naturally evolved into one. This is the growth that I've been feeling within since deciding that I really need to fight for myself and have the determination to recover and heal. I'm really trying to be in a better place and I feel like I've been doing pretty well so far. I'm practicing and using the DBT skills that I've been learning. I'm trying to do what my CBT therapist tells me to do. And I've been trying to be easier on myself and look after myself. I'm proud of the steps I've taken so far though I know that I still have a lot of growing left to do.

December 7, 2011


I'm not usually a big quote person, but instead of art today I'm sharing a quote that I saw that I thought coincided very well with what I've been talking about at the partial program.

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." 
                          - Confucius

DBT is all about paying attention to our emotions and preventing big falls and being able to pull ourselves back up again. Slipping a little isn't the end of the world, we can notice that we are slipping and stop it before it spirals out of control.

I asked my clinician at the partial program if I practiced and used my DBT skills whether I would be OK. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't expecting her to say yes, and when she did I started crying. I have this huge fear that I'm never going to get better so nothing that I do can control the outcome. Every time I slip downwards I believe that there's no point in trying to get back up. But when she told me that if I do this, then I'll be OK, it was the first time I actually believed it. People say "It will be OK" a lot, but this time I believed it and I felt a relief that I can't really explain. I've held the belief that I can never be OK for so long that I didn't even realize that it was a distorted thought. It never occurred to me to question and challenge that thought until yesterday. It's such strange feeling to actually feel like I have control over my recovery but it feels good and empowering.

December 6, 2011


Today in group, at the partial program that I'm at right now, we talked about the strengths perspective. I wanted to share the handout that we got about it because I found it very inspiring. It also reminded me of something I drew in art therapy about making the choice between the negative and positive path.

The Strengths Perspective

The strengths perspective builds on the idea that there are untapped resources of energy and momentum in our lives. We can direct ourselves to guard against allowing ourselves to using the negative labels that dictate or constrain the course of our treatment by emphasizing on solution-focused introspection, goal-setting, and identifying and mobilizing our strengths that are useful in the therapeutic process. We have to identify both our risk and protective factors, and target and reinforce the qualities, attributes, and aspirations that have the greatest potential to contribute to positive outcomes. This is the opposite of looking at our recovery as a prevention-oriented process, and avoiding victim mindsets, and seeing the environment as full of resources and assets.


November 11, 2011
The theme for this was to draw a path representing some aspect of your life. I drew the choice that I see ahead of myself right now between continuing along the path I had been going along before to the left and going towards recovery to the right. The path on the left is painful and obviously not the best choice but I can see where it goes and I know the path, so even though it looks bad it's almost easier to take that path. The other path on the right has growth and a lake with a sunset but it's hidden behind the tree so it's hard to see where it leads to and it's hard to know what to do to get there.

I want to choose the path to recovery and I hope that I have the strength to continue on that path. I always thought of recovery as a preventative thing. I never thought about healing as finding reasons to enjoy life, I always thought of it from the other direction, as finding ways to stop suffering. I didn't care about enjoying life, I just wanted to stop feeling the pain. Maybe that's why some of my coping mechanisms include dissociative symptoms. I need to start looking forward to life rather than being so afraid of it. I also think I need to start noticing the "victim-mindset". I've gotten comfortable with my disorders - I've found other ways to avoid my symptoms and my anxieties and allowed myself to feel helpless in the face of my own life. I need to make the choice to become empowered and to fight for myself because I deserve to have a better life. I want to choose to thrive and not just survive.

December 4, 2011


Hope is complicated. Or maybe it's simple and I was making it complicated. I'm not sure which. At the beginning of my second hospitalization I was exhausted at living because I only had reasons that I wasn't allowed to die. I thought that hope was finding reasons that I couldn't die. I told myself that I wasn't allowed to die because of my family and friends. But I still hated life. We had expressive writing therapy and the topic was writing a letter to hope. This is what I wrote:

Dear Hope,

Where the hell are you? I keep trying to find something that will fill up the depleting well. But I can't find any more of you. Sometimes you appear and hang out for a while but I don't know if that's enough. I don't know where to look. I don't know if I have the energy to keep digging. I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I'm failing because I can't find you. I feel like what I have should be enough for you to be there. I feel like if I just ran a little bit harder I could catch you but I can't make myself do it. I don't have the energy. I hate this empty feeling without you. I'm tired of fighting. I'm so tired. Exhausted. I want to rest but I don't even have the energy to do that. I'm just stuck.

Fuck you for being so hard. Fuck you for not being there. Life sucks without you. I want to give up. I want so badly for this to stop. I wish I could see you. Maybe you're there and I just can't see you. But you're way better than me at hide-and-seek. I'm too tired. I don't want to play this game anymore.


Finding reasons that I couldn't die just wasn't enough. I've started to turn those reasons not to die, into reasons to live. It sounds pretty similar, but I think there's a big difference. It's the difference between something you have to do and something you want. So during one of the art groups in the first couple days at the hospital I made a booklet of things that I wanted to survive for. I drew from things that I enjoy and from things that my old therapist told me that stuck with me.

The Outside

It's a folding book, so this is the outside of it. The front is the Chinese symbol for the dragon, which is my birth year. I chose to use that because, to me, the dragon indicates strength and I know that I need strength in order to hold the hope with me. I lined the rest of it with something that represented color and art to me because art is so important to me. Not only is it something that allows me to release feelings, but it's something that I enjoy doing. I love doing this blog because it gives me some meaning in my life.

The Inside

On the inside I have, first, a list of people that are part of my support system. (I blurred out specific names.) I have my parents, my brother, my roommate, my friends and my old therapist. These are people I would never want to hurt and would never want me hurt. They are people that I know love me and want to be there for me. Underneath I have tissue paper petals to represent nature, which I find beautiful and inspiring. The next thing is a blank list that says 'Due Date' at the top. This is something my old therapist said to me about being there for future family members and not wanting to deprive them of me. This is something that stuck with me because I am excited to know who those people will be. Under that I have more representations of nature. The next thing is a cat to represent my love of animals. I am now volunteering at an animal shelter in order to give more meaning to my life and to be able to spend time with and help animals since I can't have my own at my apartment. The last thing is just something that says 'The Heart Only'. This is the back page of the booklet and represents how much more I could add to this booklet once I find more of those things to live for.

December 2, 2011


I am so sick of feeling sad about my old therapist. It feels like the grief that comes when someone dies and you are suddenly no longer able to talk to the person that is gone. As if it doesn't already make me feel like shit, I have to keep talking about it with other people who need to know why it happened. So I am trying to use my DBT skills to deal with it. I went on a walk around the neighborhood - I've been gradually making my loop longer. I drew my feelings to get some of them out on paper. And next I'm going to use opposite emotion by watching something funny. Maybe I'll hold a frozen orange.

Therapy Grief

December 2, 2011
The bottom left represents the "before" when I felt like some of my pain and shame finally had meaning and borders because of therapy. My emotions were starting to be contained by the feeling of safety that I had with my old therapist. This feels like it was broken by the sudden termination in treatment, which is represented by the jagged and unchangeable black/red line. Black and red flames are coming from that line, representing the anger and pain that I feel and how I feel like I've been abandoned and am now alone (which is irrational, but I can't help how I feel). The blue flames represent the overarching feelings of sadness and helplessness. All I want to do is beg for her to take me back because of the changes I've already made with regards to willingness to use skills and determination to fight the depression and PTSD, but I know that would do absolutely nothing so I'm stuck feeling helpless. The picture fades off into grey unknown. There are some lines of gold and silver that represent the hope and determination that I feel to conquer this stage of my treatment.