Staying Positive

So I’m going to start by saying this is me being pretty vulnerable, and addresses my mental health. I have been very vulnerable and honest in many of my posts, but if that makes you uncomfortable, don’t continue to read! But for those of you who like to know how I’m honestly and truly doing, this is for you. And for me.

Some of you may know that I go to therapy consistently. I have been going to therapy weekly now for a few months, and it has been very good. One of the things my therapist wants me to start doing again is journal. This usually helps me process and recognize my thoughts, which is one of my goals. I want to start noticing some of my distorted automatic negative thoughts so that I can work to reframe those thoughts into more positive and realistic thoughts. So although part of this is to pay attention to the negative thoughts I might be having, she does want me to focus on the positive things that happen on a daily basis, whether they are big or small. So she asked me to come up with three things everyday that I am grateful for in the past 24 hours, or positive things that have happened. Now that I’ve explained that, I want to share with all of you some of the positive things in the past 24 hours I have noticed.

  1. I am in a much better place mentally and emotionally than I was a year ago today.

This came up when I was looking through my timehop actually, and my facebook memories. I posted a picture of freshman shift, and how that was a happy part of an overall pretty horrible day. Shift, for those of you who don’t know which is probably many of you, is the weekly meeting of Cru, a Christian community I am involved with on my college campus. Freshman shift was the day the freshman got to lead it, and I was a part of the worship team for the night. I got to play my violin with some other wonderful people and worship Christ. That was the good part of the day. I was happy. Why was that day horrible, you might ask? Well that day, I decided to go into the emergency room and admit myself to the mental health ward for suicidal thoughts. It was scary. It would be the second time I was going to be in a mental health ward. I had been in a mental health ward in may of the previous year, not for suicidal thoughts but for extreme anxiety and depression to the point of my body just shutting down. It was scarier this time though, because I was now 18. I would be going in to a facility and staying with other adults, barely being an adult myself. Leading up to this decision was a lot of emotional discomfort and fear. I had told my therapist the day before that I was having some passive suicidal thoughts. I didn’t actually want to follow through with them usually, at least I didn’t think so. However, they were starting to scare me. They weren’t my typical thoughts of I would be better off dead, they were thoughts of plans to actually kill myself. My therapist made me promise to call a help line if I continued to have these, and promise to check myself into a hospital if they got any worse. I didn’t want to go in right away. I thought they could just go away. I thought I could fight through it. Also, I was so obsessed with trying to be a good student, and was afraid of going in and missing classes and getting behind with the end of the semester coming up. My grades weren’t great to begin with. My therapist assured me that legally my university would have to accommodate for my hospitalization and could not just fail me from my classes.I left and promised her that I would go in if I felt I needed to, but even leaving therapy I wasn’t convinced I would need to. I still thought my suicidal thoughts would just go away. The next day they weren’t. And  I realized that having plans to take my life, while they often came into my head and left, were not things I wanted to risk acting on. As I went to my classes that day I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t stop myself from crying in lectures, which were luckily large enough for most people not to really notice. I told two of my closest friends in my classes that I would probably check myself in to the hospital later that night. They were very supportive and worried, but I was glad that I could trust them and warn them that I may be disappearing for awhile. I went back to my dorm and told my roommate, who was also very supportive. She knew I had been dealing with these issues from the first time I was in the hospital, and she was also supportive. The hardest part was deciding to tell my parents. Even if I was legally an adult I knew I couldn’t just go in without telling them. My dad wanted me to go right away when I called him after class.  But I wanted to be a part of the worship team I had just practiced with, and I knew worshipping would bring me joy and peace. He finally agreed and decided he would drive me to the ER on campus that had a mental health ward. I am happy that I was able to experience that hour of community and joy of worshipping God before I entered into a very dark week or so of my life. I realize all of this is very dark, and you might not even remember that I am being positive right now. I am. This was a positive thing. I was able to recognize that I was not safe and healthy, and was able to seek the help I needed. While I was in the hospital I was able to share and connect with people the things that I struggle with, learn from them, and heal. Why else is this so positive? Because since I have left that hospital, I have only had one episode of suicidal contemplation. That is something to celebrate! My anxiety and especially my depression have improved so significantly since then!  I am so thankful and grateful that God has brought me through those tough times, and that I was able to find the support and help I needed to make it through freshman year.

2. I am grateful for deep spiritual conversations with good friends

I just got back from meeting with two wonderful ladies, reading through a book and talking about our spiritual lives. Its so great to be in the presence of people who share a love of Christ, and to have great conversations about that love and our lives in general. I love that I can be so open and honest with them, and know that we will support each other through anything we might be struggling with in our lives.

3. I am thankful for the wonderful abundance of music in my life and joy that it brings me.

I bought tickets today to see a band that I love, and I am very excited to see them in October!!!! (NEEDTOBREATHE IS WONDERFUL GUYS) I also get to go with some wonderful people, which makes it even better! I’m also so thankful that I have been a part of the worship team this year with Cru (that thing I did as a freshman turned into me being a part of it regularly which has been wonderful!!). Music is something that has always brought me joy, and even today just listening to my happy playlist enjoying the beautiful weather walking back from class lifted my spirits.

So those are some examples of small and big things in my life that have been positive and that I am thankful for in the past 24 hours. I know that went from some pretty deep and heavy topics to lighter ones, but they are all positive things that I wanted to share. Some people may not understand why I am open to sharing these things with the public. I understand that many people still think discussing mental health should only be talked about in certain settings or with certain people. But I personally, am tired of that stigma. I want to be able to share how I’m doing honestly with the world. I want people to realize that the topic of mental health should not be shoved under a rug and hidden, because bottling those things up does not help anyone. Anyway, that small rant is over. These are just three positive things, I could probably come up with more. But this is already a very long post and I’ve said what I’ve wanted to.

I will continue to do this challenge of staying positive and noticing positive things daily, and would encourage anyone else who maybe struggles with depression or even just optimism to join me!  Happy Friday everyone:)