September 14, 2013

It's Been A While...

I figure it's probably about time I post again...

I've had a lot of stuff happen since my last post and it's all been a little overwhelming. I'm going to make another list with everything I'm dealing with right now.

1. The guy I liked turned out to be immature and changed his mind about what he wanted - he didn't want to date anymore, and just wanted to try to use me for sex. So that's not happening.

2. Work has been insane. I'm working more than my hours and I'm working through lunches and being incredibly flexible. All of this is so that the people I work for can go on a conference/vacation and have all of their studies run while they're away. And yet, even though I was assured that they were flexible about vacations, I'm still being made to take comp days so that I can take the vacation I planned months ago for my cousin's wedding... So now I get to work random weekend days after completely exhausting weeks. Luckily I still like the actual work that I do.

3. My CBT therapist may terminate with me. It's still to be decided over the next few sessions. She doesn't know if her style of therapy is in my best interest at the moment. I disagree because I have my primary therapist who is able to provide the things that my CBT therapist is not - it seems balanced to me.

4. I have just been incredibly angry at everything, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I need to be able to express the anger externally rather than internalizing, but it's still difficult dealing with all of it.

5. I'm trying to find groups or expressive therapy so that I have additional supports while I'm going through this "rough patch". My CBT therapist really wants me to find a group to address my issues with alcohol so I decided to go to a SMART meeting this evening to see if it might help. Even though I don't have a dependence on alcohol, I still have problems with it because I end up getting suicidal and making bad decisions about my safety. So I'm hoping that will go well.

6. I've decided that I want to try to go veterinary school. So I need to figure out where to take some physics courses for next year and I need to study for the GREs to take this year.

I'm so glad I have a vacation coming up to look forward to...


June 2, 2013
I drew this in the hospital. I wanted to show the depression side of things and the anxiety side of things. I feel like I've been mostly anxious but sometimes the anxiety will trigger the depressed feelings. I scribbled all over the picture with white after I drew it to make it even more confusing and messy.

July 19, 2013

Drinking is Bad for Me

I am trying so hard not to judge myself right now, but it feels like an impossible task. Drinking has turned into something that is just way too unsafe for me to do at the moment. I ended up taking a very dangerous overdose while I was drunk last weekend and have since been in various hospitals - first medical and now mental.

This time I have absolutely no objection to the 24-hour suicide watch I was put on in the ER. I had to go on a clear liquid diet for a day and had almost 10 bags of saline pumped into my body over the course of a couple days. I honestly feel like it's the stupidest thing I've ever done. I feel incredibly guilty about it and I'm having a really hard time going easy on myself... but that's what everyone keeps telling me to do. I just want to be like, "But don't you realize what I did?! Don't you see what a bad person I am?!"

This means that drinking has officially been added to my list of negative coping skills and therefore is something that I should not use, at least for a very long while. So I am working on making the commitment to myself to not drink as strong as possible.

10 Reasons to not drink alcohol...

1. It is potentially lethal for me because it makes me suicidal.
2. It makes me feel depressed and overwhelmed.
3. It interferes with my medications.
4. I don't like the part of me that comes out when I've been drinking a lot.
5. I often do things that I later regret if I've had a lot to drink.
6. I don't like the loss of control over my thoughts and actions.
7. It interferes with proper sleep.
8. It reduces my body's ability to fight illness.
9. It costs money.
10. It has empty calories.

July 13, 2013

Brain Overload

I'm sorry for being such an ass about posting. I just feel like there's so fucking much going on in my life right now that it's impossible to keep up. I went to the hospital. Did a bunch of art. Did a lot of trauma work with my therapist. And now there's a guy in my life that I'm pretty interested in. And that's weird for me. Usually I try to press the eject button as quickly as possible. But with this one... I really like him and he's so nice and I think he's a really good guy for me. In a drunken confession, I already told him that I have PTSD and it's because I was sexually abused, and somehow he was so nice about it. I'm just so shocked about how nice he is. But my brain is in overload. I'm dealing with all of this stupid trauma shit and then dealing with my present life with this guy that I really like and dealing with staying safe all at the same time and I don't know what to do. I just feel like there's so MUCH going on. I have my new job coming up, this new "relationship" (whatever it is) coming up and I'm feeling so dissociative. I just feel like my life isn't real. It's so hard. I don't know what I'm doing and I can't think straight. Uggghhhhhh. I'm excited, nervous, happy, scared, everything, all at the same time.

June 11, 2013

An Unintentional Rant

I've been avoiding writing a post mostly because I was feeling disappointed in myself, but I think I've gotten over some of that now. I ended up having to go to the hospital for a week because I didn't trust myself to stay safe anymore. I felt really overwhelmed, started getting a little bit self-destructive, and I felt like I was escalating out of control. So after a long conversation with my psychiatrist I agreed to go the ER for a psych evaluation. It was a horribly scary decision. She told me that she felt that I should go to the hospital but she left the decision up to me. I knew that it would be a much better and safer decision for me to go but it was still terrifying to make that call. I was scared to go home and be left to my own devices but I was also scared to go to the hospital because I felt like I was letting everyone down. I sat fighting with myself, trying to get myself to say "yes, I'll go", but all I could keep saying was "I don't know". I think it took me about an hour to finally break down my own wall and agree to go. 

I spent a whole day and night regretting my decision because of the horribly tedious and humiliating process of getting admitted to a mental hospital. The policy at my clinic SUCKS. I understand it. But it sucks. I had to take a two minute ambulance ride from the clinic to the ER that was literally ACROSS THE STREET. I had to give up all of my possessions and wear a beautiful hospital gown. Then it got really fun... I got to be on constant suicide watch... despite being there willingly. It's fun having a person sitting at the window, staring at you while you do absolutely nothing because there's nothing to do in the ER when all of your possessions have been taken away. It's just like the zoo!... but you get to be the zebra instead of the human. I received a lovely evil eye from the psychiatrist when I told her that I would rather go to a different hospital if I was being admitted as inpatient and was then treated like I was being a diva for even asking. I then got to stay there overnight and I even got to sleep for a couple hours before I was strapped into a fucking gurney, still in my hospital gown, to be transported to the hospital I requested in another fun ambulance trip. It all made me feel so good about my decision to go into the hospital.... They seriously need to do something about that whole pile-of-shit process. It reeeaaalllly didn't help my state of mind to feel that humiliated and exhausted. Most of the people that interacted with me during the process tried to be nice about it, but it was still a very dehumanizing process. Luckily the place that I requested to go to (and had a bed for me despite the whole, "They probably wont have a bed, but I guess I can try if you really want me to...") is very good about giving you as much control as possible in how you are treated while you are there.

I guess this turned into an unintentional rant. What I meant to say was that I actually ended up being very glad that I made the decision to go into the hospital for a little while. It helped me feel a little bit calmer and it renewed my motivation to use positive coping skills when I'm feeling hopeless and self-destructive. And I now have a lot of art to share because of it! 


May 2013
This is something that I drew a couple weeks before going into the hospital. I just wrote "I HATE LIFE" on the paper and then made it into a design. I made the 'I' black, the word 'hate' red and the word 'life' green. I kind of see it all as roots and the 'hate' is growing out of the 'life'. There's so much interconnection going on but it also looks isolated at the same time. For example, the 'I' looks very lonely to me. I guess it reflects how I've been feeling alone and disconnected from my life. It kind of looks like it's off to the side, watching everything, but it only has one line to connect it to everything. And then the whole thing is surrounded by a grey fog that makes it feel even more lonely.

May 14, 2013

Brain Meltdown

I relearned some important childhood lessons this weekend. "Don't take candy from strangers" and "Drugs do crazy shit to your mind". Short version of the story: Went to a friend's party. Left with some people that I had just met (dumb). Ate a pot brownie that I was assured was not strong (really dumb). Realized that I was too high. Made a quick exit and got home (smart). Started really flipping out: had waves of intense panic; thought I was dying; thought that I was having seizures; started having crazy paranoia about everything; wasn't sure what was real; felt like I might lose my mind. Finally figured out how to use my phone to call my parents to come get me. Managed to calm down a little knowing that they wouldn't let me die.

I have gotten very high and very paranoid from pot before but nothing even close to what happened this weekend. This was just a complete sensory overload - every sound, light or movement felt too overwhelming. I felt like everything was happening for the second time but then I wasn't sure if it had ever happened at all. I wavered between complete panic and complete detachment. I was seeing things in my heartbeat and I could look into the center of my mind and see a rotating patterned column. And every time I surfaced into a second of relative lucidity all I could think was, "Something is wrong. Something is wrong. Something is wrong."

So either I had a horrible reaction because the brownies were way stronger than they told me and, because I've been stressed recently, panic just completely took over, or they could have been laced with something else. No idea which. Either way I feel like a total idiot for going to a complete stranger's apartment and eating their drugged brownies.

Here was my rationale for being an idiot... these people seemed "safe" because they were in my friend's apartment when I met them and they knew someone who knew my friend. I ignored my anxiety about leaving the party with them because I just assumed that I was having a PTSD overreaction to meeting new people. Apparently I didn't have the sense to also think about the fact that it's normal to feel anxious about going to a stranger's apartment with a bunch of people I don't really know. But I convinced myself that it would be fine because making new friends is a good thing and I need to stop being afraid of flirting with guys. I only realized how stupid I was being once I told one of them I was leaving because I felt too high and he told me that I would be fine, that I should stay, and that I should just trust him. It's pretty creepy when someone tells you to trust them when you don't even know them and they just encouraged you to take drugs.

I think that this might be life's way of telling me to stop fucking around with mind-altering substances. I had a few drinks before I decided to go off with a bunch of strangers, which definitely relaxed me enough to ignore my anxieties about it and probably altered my decision making skills. So I'm going to stop drinking, at least while my life feels this overwhelming, and I don't think I'll be able to touch pot for a long time after this experience.

May 6, 2013


I think life is trying to drive me insane. It finally lets me get a little bit more comfortable with it and then *BAM* my job, which I love, is moving to a different state and I have to look for a new one because I would probably completely fall apart if I lost my entire support system all at once by moving. Obviously major life stressors are unavoidable - people lose their jobs, get sick, lose people who are important to them - but I could have used a little more time without an extra anxiety producer.

I'm trying (pretty unsuccessfully) to think of it as a positive... it's forcing me to deal with some social anxiety. My therapist and I made an anxiety hierarchy and noticed a theme. Instead of "normal" job loss fears such as actually finding a new job, having the right qualifications, etc., my anxiety has a lot to do with social things. My biggest fear from this is having to change health insurance and having that new insurance company make me choose between keeping my primary therapist or my CBT therapist. I know how hard it is to lose a therapist, and even though it wouldn't be the same situation as before, I know that it would still be difficult.

My second fear is the change of people. I like my current coworkers and I'm comfortable with them. Changing that is nerve-wracking for me. The thought of learning the dynamics of a whole new set of people makes me uncomfortable even though I know that I am perfectly capable of normal social interactions and fitting in with new people. But I also know that before I get more comfortable, I'm going to feel very unsure of myself because I unfortunately care way too much about what other people think of me and I usually tend towards thinking they don't like me.

My third fear is the interview process... And the more I think about it, the more I think this might actually be my second biggest fear. Interviewing is basically someone judging you. I don't mean that in a necessarily bad way, but someone is making a judgement of your skills and personality to determine whether you will make a good worker and whether you are right for the environment of the workplace. Knowing that, makes me tear apart every single detail of every single conversation and wonder if I've ruined everything by saying "and" instead of "but".

So basically my brain is melting from all of this anxiety. I am completely incapable of having a conversation without getting distracted or zoning out at least once. I pretty much constantly feel like hurting myself. My appetite has been really weird. And I've been having ridiculous dreams/nightmares.

Change sucks.

April 28, 2013


OK. Continuing on from before.... (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about)

Even though my high school friend's article was really triggering for me, it was also very empowering. She was so brave to talk about her sexual assault like that. She wrote about it under her own name and shared it with the social networking world. Reading about her strength in going through what she did and then her seeing her strength in sharing it was inspiring. When she came up with the idea to start a blog for survivors to share their stories, I decided to write part of my own story and I submitted it to be posted on that blog.

I started thinking about what I wanted to write and then I couldn't sleep until I had written it all down. I'm kind of proud of how the piece turned out. I didn't make it overly graphic and I shared enough of my story to make some important points about the effects of abuse, and at the same time I felt some catharsis from writing it down. I shared it with my therapists and with a couple friends and they were all very supportive and said that it was well written. After I shared it with them, I felt a little bit less vulnerable so I decided to share it with my brother. Clearly I knew it would be hard for him to read, but I wasn't expecting him to be unable to read it. 

I'm not angry with him for not being able to read it - he tried, he got through half of it - but it was disappointing and I'm angry with the circumstances. It's awesome to be able to share my story with my friends and my therapists. The disappointment comes from wishing that I could share some of my burden with my family, but those are the people who find it the hardest to do that because they care the most and don't want to see me hurting. So I know that he's not being unsupportive by not reading it because he's supportive in other ways, but I was sad that people did things to me that were so awful that I can't talk about them with my brother... I hate that they even managed to take that away from me. And then there's more anger that comes from seeing that other people have the choice to not look at my story, whereas I have no choice - I had no say when I was going through it and the memories are part of who I am - I have to look at my story. Despite my anger at life, I'm glad that my brother has that choice because I know how much it sucks when you aren't allowed to decide for yourself what to do.

This was a really hard post to write so I'm going to go do fun and relaxing things now. But I'll end with a little shout out to my brother - love ya bro! 

April 19, 2013

Boston Strong

I am so glad and relieved that law enforcement have managed to capture the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. I'm feeling grateful for all of the amazing efforts and hard work by the law enforcement officers involved in the successful capture. I'm also thinking of the victims of the past four days: the three killed at the bombings and the dozens wounded, the MIT officer who was killed, and the MBTA officer who was seriously wounded in the firefight. I'm proud of Boston for coming together after the horrific events of the last week to demonstrate that we cannot be beaten down.

April 16, 2013


It has been a while since my last post... about a month! Which means that I actually have a lot to say, but I'll probably split it into at least two posts so that I don't go way too long in this one. Long posts are boring and they hurt my brain! My excuse for not posting is that I got pretty distracted because I went on vacation. I'm so glad that I was able to relax and have fun during it too. I got to see one of my best friends, I got to be in Mexico where it was nice and warm, and I got to get a break from the stresses of life. 

Unfortunately I had a backlash of PTSD stuff when I got home. It was like I was able to hide it all away for the week that I was away and then it had to catch up on everything once I stopped forcing it away. So I ended up having this weird kind of reality check because when it all flooded in it felt like, "oh my god this stuff is really part of my life and it actually happened to me; not someone else." Because of that, I was already at a high anxiety level when I found out that someone I was good friends with in high school had experienced a sexual assault. I was so impressed with her strength because she came out publicly about her experience in an article that she wrote. Even though I hadn't talked to her in years, I was still really upset for her when I read it and it also triggered my own stuff. Embarrassingly, I ended up bursting into tears at work because I got so worked up and anxious about it. At first I didn't really know why I had been triggered so badly, but after thinking about it, I figured some of it out.

The obvious part is that I was feeling upset for her because I would never want anyone, let alone someone that I cared about, to go through anything like that. It made more sense to me that around the time that it happened she changed a lot and we pretty much stopped talking and that's such a sad reason for that to have happened. It may not have been the main reason we stopped talking, I don't know, but I'm guessing that it contributed to it.

It was also hard to read a description of a sexual assault. The basic facts of what happened to her made me think about some of the things that have happened to me and the aftereffects of those things.

Those two things by themselves are hard, but I think that the thing that made it REALLY triggering for me was that knowing the person I was reading about made it very real and therefore made what happened to me very real. When I accept what happened to her (because it's impossible not to), I have to accept what happened to me. Most of my defense mechanisms revolve around trying to make what happened go away. I avoid, pretend, repress, deny, I do whatever it takes to make it less real. Having a large dose of reality really sucked.

Despite being triggered, I am proud of how I handled it. Instead of retreating into myself, I talked about it with people. I ended up talking to the coworker who was sitting next to me when I burst into tears and who I trust enough to confide a little bit in. And then when I was still shaking like a leaf by the time I got home, I called the 'on call' at the clinic in order to get some help to calm down. Yay me!

And to end on an extra good note, here's a pretty picture of Tulum, Mexico: 

Tulum, Mexico

March 14, 2013

No Longer Solely an Art Blog

I think that it's time to change my blog description. This has become a place to not only share my art, but to also share my thoughts and experiences with PTSD. I think I would feel a lot less guilty about not having new artwork every time I post something if I changed the description.

So now I can share my thoughts without feeling bad that I don't have any art: I hate St. Patrick's Day. I feel like hibernating during it. A combination of this time of year and having that small contact from an abuser is making it really really hard to want to do anything other than work, eat and sleep. I am having a LOT of intrusive symptoms and it sucks. 

Here's the funny thing about the Facebook friend request from one of the abusers. When I was little, he would write me little notes that asked me if I loved him and then it would have two little check boxes for 'Yes' or 'No'. I always felt like there wasn't really a choice and I had to check 'Yes'. A Facebook friend request is essentially 'Do you want to be friend's?' Check 'Yes' or 'No'. It's kind of hard not to be thrown straight into the past with that. I know in every way that I should not - do not want to - do not have to check the 'Yes' box... but the kicked down, helpless child in me feels like I have no choice. I haven't checked either one yet because I just can't do it by myself. I think I need to press the 'No' button while I'm in therapy tomorrow because I think it's going to be hard to fight the child's voice without someone to support me.

March 9, 2013


I was working on a drawing. And then I accidentally tore it right up the middle. Ugh. I liked the idea behind it but I was actually a little bit unhappy with how it was coming out so maybe it will be a good thing to start over. And that's my excuse for still not having any art to post.

I've noticed that there has been a very obvious and direct link between allowing myself to experience feelings and the emotions associated with the trauma and not feeling like I want to give in to urges to hurt myself. Now, when I get those urges, instead of immediately trying to figure out how to get rid of the uncomfortableness, I try to relax and take down my wall and feel angry or sad or whatever it is that I need to be feeling. It really really sucks. But it's really really really worth it. I spent about 20 minutes crying for 8-year-old-me because I got triggered by something. It felt so horrible... but then it felt so much better. The feeling eventually lessened in intensity and I still felt OK about myself because I didn't do anything to hurt myself and I felt a little bit of catharsis after letting all those tears out. Yay me!

Of course, while I've been experiencing all of this sadness and anger and EMOTION-craziness for the past few weeks or so, NOW is the time that a past abuser chooses to try to add me as a friend on Facebook. Really? My first reaction was just a horrible feeling in my stomach, which was all of the anxiety. Then I started having a lot of sensory memories, which are still going on... I swear I can smell him and I want to vomit. But now I'm thinking that maybe it wasn't such bad timing for this to happen - I'm feeling really angry and upset at him. Before, I would have pushed everything down and turned all of the feelings into a self-hate thing instead of turning them toward the deserving party. It's confusing though, because my brain is still trying to do that because that's the way it has always done things. However, I'm aware of it now and I'm not letting it take over so I almost have two different reactions going on at once. The part of me that is learning to be more assertive is just like, "What the fuck? How dare he try to intrude into any part of my life! He needs to go rot in hell." I guess now I just have to decide whether to ignore, decline or block that shitbag.

February 25, 2013

Om Nom Nom

I am working on some artwork right now... but I have nothing to post at the moment, so I thought that in the meantime I would post some pictures of the food that I've been making because I feel like cooking is similar to art! Last weekend I went on a food-making binge: I made a huge pot of soup so that I could put portions in the freezer to take out whenever. And then I made stuffed peppers and empanada filling (which I also froze). For some reason it was incredibly satisfying to do all of that cooking in one day and I ended up being in a really good mood.

Here are some pictures from the past month or so of cooking:

Stuffed Peppers

Potato & Leek Soup

A Yummy Omelet

Fettuccine Shrimp Alfredo

February 13, 2013

Letting Myself Feel

I've been trying to get myself to draw but I haven't been able to yet. My therapist and I have been talking about anger and loss, so it seems like it would be a really good time to express some of that. Maybe this weekend I'll do something.

I feel like I have TONS going on in my head right now - I've been trying to let myself feel some of the scary emotions that I usually try to push away or "do something" with. I think that I've been coping with it all pretty well though. I haven't been feeling as depressed and I have a feeling of catharsis from letting myself experience emotions. I also feel like I've been able to understand myself a little more. I never truly realized how well my mind manages to hide things from me and I probably don't even fully recognize the extent of it yet. I've become more aware of my brain fighting with itself to change from what I'm used to and what's easy, to what's more healthy.

All of that awareness made me start thinking about what I was like in high school and how I reacted to feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety by immediately pushing them away, often by using unhealthy coping skills like hurting myself. I was so good at it that I didn't even know why I was doing it, other than that it made some sort of discomfort go away. I've been able to deal with some of those things now by using positive coping. I have a new mantra that I've been saying to myself: "I know I'm a good person and I am in control." I've also been doing things that make me feel good about myself, like cooking dinner for myself, and doing things that are distracting when I know I need to not think about things.

I don't know if any of what I wrote made sense or if it was just really repetitive... but the sum up is that I'm feeling pretty good and I'm making some good progress in therapy. Yay!

January 26, 2013



November 25, 2012
This drawing is from the series where I was trying to portray feelings of shame. This drawing is simply showing a body with filth covering the areas that I feel are defiled and disgusting on my own body because of what happened. I put the greenish color over the mouth, hands, and female areas. I also put tape over the mouth to represent how I felt silenced by the shame. The hole in place of a belly button represents the damaged feeling; feeling like a part of me died and rotted away. The full drawing actually has the whole head and face but I hate seeing the eyes on it so much that I couldn't post it here. I'm not sure what exactly it is about the eyes, but maybe they make me identify with it too much and that makes it too humiliating to share with people.

January 5, 2013

New Year Resolution

Happy New Year!

I'm glad that I don't really believe in the idea that your whole year has to go the same way that it starts out... because I had kiiiind of a shaky start to 2013. I had a really nice Christmas with my family, and it was a nice break from thinking about things. But once I got home, I suddenly crashed into feeling depressed and anxious. Maybe I was holding it all back so that I could enjoy the holidays and it had to attack me when the holidays were over. It's not really the worst depression I've ever felt, but I was still surprised because I haven't really felt this kind of grey, flat, want-to-isolate depression in a while.

I had to make a slightly belated new years resolution based on something that happened within the first hour of the new year and also based on a review of the past year. Everything that I did in the last year that I really regret and for which I felt disappointed in myself, occurred because I had at least a couple of drinks in me. So, my resolution is to have no more than one drink in a given day. 

In 2011, after my suicide attempt, I stopped drinking altogether for a while because I knew that I'm more likely to hurt myself when I've been drinking. But this past year I started getting more comfortable because I felt like I was mentally well enough to be able to drink whatever I wanted without doing anything stupid. But I pretty much disproved that theory on new years. When I drink, my inhibitions are down and I start to give into any impulse I have. If my thoughts start spiraling in a negative direction it turns into a dangerous situation and that's what happened on new years. 

After the new years situation, I spent about an hour crying in therapy about how disappointed I am in myself, and then a half hour promising that I'm safe and then immediately after all of that I got a $200 speeding ticket on my way to work. Woo! Soooo yeah, not a great start to the year. But last year started out even shittier and it turned out pretty OK overall. Maybe this will even turn out to be a good year...