Suicide Awareness Week

*trigger warning: suicide*

Suicide…one of those things that you’d never think you or someone else you would do. When it’s someone else (or if you are seen this way), they may appear like they’re happy all the time and the signs are not as obvious. I’m not gonna lie, I myself have felt suicidal.

Last month, I was afraid I was gonna lose my room, because I didn’t know how else to pay my rent. The LAST thing I wanted to be was on the street again living in my car. I felt like a loser, because I was in my 30s and couldn’t provide for myself. I couldn’t find a job for the summer (substitute teaching wasn’t going to return at the district I worked until the end of last month), I haven’t been able to pass or even afford to take my state exam in order to get my teaching credential and now I was facing the possible reality of being evicted and being homeless…again. AGAIN! The thought of being homeless alone after living through it last year was consuming and terrifying. I didn’t want to face finding a place to park at night, only to be forced to park my car elsewhere. I didn’t want to face saving face to show people I wasn’t homeless or lead their prying eyes away from me and my car. I didn’t want to face knowing I had struggle finding a place to shower and/or brush my teeth. I was DONE. I was EXHAUSTED. In my head, I was contemplating how I would take my own life and what I would write to my loved ones. My brother, my sister, my mom… My brother I think would handle my loss harder than my sister. My boyfriend…how was he going to handle it after losing is a family member to suicide? For once thinking for others (because I’m not good at being selfish) actually saved my life. Something inside me told me to contact the Suicide Hotline. I prayed though the person who answered was going to be a good person and they were and they were reassuring and understanding. I felt heard.

The thing is if I had not known to call the hotline, I don’t know if I’d be here writing this. Heck, I felt like a hypocrite. Here I was talking about mental illness and I felt suicidal and so I took a break to get myself together. I had to take time for self care, I had to take time to ask for help. Surprisingly, my dad came through (because growing up my dad never came through for me as a kid financially and emotionally) & helped save my place.

So, here I am opening up to you to share my experiencing of just even thinking about it, in hopes that it will promote awareness and recovery from it. Also to promote a resources for it if you or a loved one may come across such a situation .

***Please be clear, I’m not saying that people who die by suicide are selfish, because I know that the pain of depression and hopelessness are as real as the air we breathe. I’m just saying that my character trait of thinking for others saved my life****

Mental Illness Is Not Hate

I’m really tired of politics and news equating mass shootings with mental illness. I see it as a cheap excuse and also a means of showing “sympathy” to mass shooters. It’s too bad that everyday Americans are not given this kind of… “sympathy”. When a person with mental illness discloses their condition, it’s dismissed as a weakness or laziness or condition (particularly with those who live with anxiety and depressive disorders) that “everyone” goes through or as a way of “getting attention”. But when it’s a mass shooter, they are automatically assumed their are “mentally ill.” Suddenly every news station in the nation starts debating about the seriousness of mental illness. Society has built such a stigma around mental illness and now all of a sudden society can “tell” when a person has mental illness??? Ha!

But you know who’s making the stigma worse? Trump and his posse in congress. This is what Trump said last week:

“We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people, not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement…mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

I can’t stand this guy. He’s ALWAYS picking on the voiceless or the people who are easily forgotten or shunned and then blaming them for something they have little to no contribute to. This means anyone with mental illness like you or I could be “confined” for being a “potential threat” to society. So don’t be surprised in a couple of years we (if we’re not careful to vote) may no better off than illegal immigrants being rounded out by ICE. You might say at least we’re legal, but Trump won’t see reason. As long as he’s proving to his base he’s “doing” something regardless of the harm he’s causing, he’ll do it.

It’s so sad that instead of having universal background checks for guns, he wants to pinpoint another particular group of people to dehumanize. Why not he and his posse just call a spade a spade and just call these shooters a group of wicked people? What’s hard and wrong to say about that? Yes, there are wicked people in the world, but no, not all of them have mental illness. I mean,hell I have mental illness…am I going to shoot up people??? No.

Besides why are there people treating universal background checks like some modern day boogie man? No their guns aren’t going to be taken away…unless those same people are planning to do some kind of heinous crime, then they should have nothing to hide…right? And do we have to always make shootings a race thing? Are politicians afraid that it’s going to cause an uprising against white people if they say the mass shooter is wicked? Are they feeling that by saying that, it would be saying they’re wicked too because they are also white? Do they think that we, the American people, really think that way?When a shooting happens you wonder where it’s coming from or are the victims safe or if the gunman was caught. Anyways, there’s no need in perpetuating such a lies like “mental illness and hate pull the trigger” because we all REALLY know hate pulls the gun NOT mental illness. We need universal background checks now.

Look Who Has a New Diagnosis? This Girl Does

Again I’ve been MIA. I haven’t been much in the mood to write. Well…it doesn’t help that I’ve been worrying about paying my rent and that my new job has been giving me 4-7 hours a week. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the job, I just don’t like the hours.

Then not too long ago, I met my psychologist and I told her that while the additional anxiety medicine helped reduce my anxiety, my focus still needed work. I couldn’t stand still…always fiddling with my fingers and my hands…this couldn’t just be anxiety. There are moments when I don’t always have that “impending doom” feeling that often comes with anxiety. So what the heck was it?

My psych suspected I might have ADHD. For a sec, I was skeptical because I didn’t want to feel she was giving me meds just she can make an easy profit from my insurance. However, she referred me to one of her colleagues that specializes in ADHD testing. Though after that referral, I found she WAS legit.

About a week later, I meet the ADHD specialist and he interviewed me, fill out an assessment and take a computer test. That all happened in 45 mins, but man I was tired! I felt like my head was spinning.

Then a week after seeing the specialist, my psych told me that I had combined ADHD. Huh…that’s new…never heard of that. Basically combined ADHD is a combination of both…well…the Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD and Inattentive ADHD. After that…surprise, I began doing research, just to double check if the diagnosis was true. The ability to become easily confused…becoming easily distracted…having difficulty following through on tasks or assignments, losing or forgetting things and events, fidgeting or squirming, talking nonstop, being impatient, saying inappropriate things without thinking and being unable to remain seated too long periods of time. Holy crap! I DO have ADHD!

Knowing about my diagnosis helped me to answer all the questions to my quirks and learn how to better live with them. Living with it is tough as an adult, because the symptoms of ADHD are seen to others as the immature actions of a child. And when you have to work and take on other responsibilities, it can get in the way of being an effective adult. In fact, that’s where I see the symptoms of ADHD show up the most…at work. I talk too much during work and I get over excited (especially when I talk to the kids who share the same interests as I do), and I get bored easily. It’s gotten me into trouble a couple times and I don’t wish to get into any more trouble. The medication I’m now taking has helped me be able to focus a lot more now and help me to better priories. Not to mention in addition to another anti-anxiety medication I’m taking, it’s helping me to better control my anxiety. I have more confidence in pursing the things, especially the responsibilities that I need to do, just like any adult.

However,she has made some tweaks with medication regimen, because she put me on Ritalin (used for ADHD) and one of the symptoms it helps with is anxiety. Next, she took me off one of the two anti-anxiety medications I’ve been taking. She also reduced the dosage of my anti-depressant. The last thing she did was to also get a baseline of my high blood pressure, because one of the side effects of Ritalin is high blood pressure. My psychiatrist took my blood pressure, so that the next time time I see her, she’d see if it’s changed.

At end, I believe this newly found diagnosis will help me with is to encourage kids with ADHD and try to be a role model, because even I know from my own experience growing up how children with ADHD can be perceived. So yeah I don’t see this diagnosis as a bad thing but as another way to better get acquainted with myself and to help students with ADHD. It took a long time coming finding this out, but better late than never.

Shaken Up

I have to since the earthquakes on July 4th and 5th, I’ve been a bit shaken up. I did do the whole under the table thing when I was at my brother’s house—seems I’m pretty good when it’s time to be in survival mode, but I was still shaken up by it (especially since there are a lot telephone poles in his area. I was planning an escape route in my head). It was a lot more powerful and longer by two minutes compared to Thursday. Regardless, it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. I’ve never noticed how scared of earthquakes I am, especially that I live in California. It doesn’t help either that it’s been hard to find work. Like I have a job, but I’m only working pretty much 6 hours a week & I’m struggling to pay rent & I am hoping to fix up my laptop, so that’s why I’ve been MIA. I have things to write about but not much motivation to write them. But I gotta say after not writing here for awhile (I’m writing from my phone), I will do my best to write again. It feels good to do so again.

New Job

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I got a new job! I got offered the job yesterday during the interview. It’s for a learning center teaching job (I wanna say it’s more of tutoring job) where I will be able to perform duties such as:

  • Preparing for each instructional session; Gathers and prepares materials as appropriate
  • Evaluating and recording the progress of each student on their program assignment
  • Managing students, tasks and time to create a balanced and robust instructional session

It starts at $12, but that’s fine, because at least I will be able to practice my teaching skills. But what’s even better is that I got this job before the school year ended this week. I was so worried because I was afraid I wasn’t going to get a job before the end of this month. I feared of being homeless again. I didn’t want to relieve what I went through last year living in my car especially during the upcoming summer months (it’s already hot right now, but it’s going to get worse). I don’t want to roaming to place to place looking for places to park my car.

I’ve been putting in applications since January of this and NONE of the jobs contacted me for an interview. I was wondering what did I put or put down for me not to be employable? I mean…I have 7 years of customers service skills under my belt. Yes it’s been AWHILE since I’ve worked at such jobs, but it’s not hard to do. Anyways, a couple weeks ago, I got called for an interview for another job I wanted, but I didn’t get it (which is fine because it was only for the summer).

Let me tell you… the thought of NOT getting that job, the ONLY job which contacted me for an interview was heartbreaking. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, the fear of my landlady kicking me out of my room haunted my thoughts. And like it wasn’t bad enough, I gained weight (due to stress; not eating)! I was bloated! When I’m anxious/stressed I tend to develop a lot of gas, most of it going to my stomach, making me look (as students have told me) pregnant. But after I received the good news of getting interviewed at the job I have now and getting hired on the spot…I let out a BIG burp! In fact, I gave TWO big burps. I was THAT stressed out and I could’ve sworn my stomach got smaller after that.

I got my needs met which was to be financially stable. Without that, my anxiety disorder and depressive disorder will worsen. But now it looks like I can take a breather (for now) and just focus on the upcoming training I’ll be able to partake in. Finally…I’ll be able to sleep with a peace of mind.

Perfectionism

I am terrified of failure. Absolutely terrified. I know that out of failure you can, for example, learn how to write a better or how design a better classroom instruction. But it’s still terrifying, because I want do so well on those activities. I want people to know I’m an expert in what I’m talking about or presenting. It can be so terrifying that anxiety begins to settle in me that I don’t want to do activity anymore…until the last minute, making easy for others to think I’m a procrastinator, when I am not. I’m really a perfectionist.

Perfection is defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect or even believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection. The thing is…true perfectionists think nothing they do is good enough, regardless of how much they have achieved. What they do has to be absolutely perfect. Instead of giving themselves a pat on the back or kudos, they may withdraw from the activity (something I’m too good at). Having such personality traits may lead to and/or coincide with anxiety. Though perhaps if we conquer such unreasonable expectations, we can achieve more practical, achievable goals.

To begin with there are different types of perfectionism…3 kinds to be precise: personal standards perfectionism, self-critical perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism (Good Therapy, n.d):

    • Personal Standards Perfectionism-This person may have a set of standards they live by. These standards may look high to others, but it’s what drives the individual to achieve their goal. This form of perfection (as long as it doesn’t leave the person fatigued, stressed or paralyzed) can lead the person to success.
    • Self-Critical Perfection-This person is more likely to be intimidated by goals they set upon themselves (haha! Me!) thus making themselves less driven, because they feel the goal is hopeless or it may never come true. This form of perfectionism can lead to stress, anxiety, avoidance and self-condemnation.
    • Socially Prescribed Perfection: This kind of perfectionism can affect a person in one of two ways:

A) when a person is in a job in which precision is heavily required. People who work as, for example, lawyers, medical professionals, and architects can be affected by perfectionism. Such jobs can cause professionals to experience hopeless thoughts, stress, and a higher risk for self-harm and suicide.

B) The other form of socially prescribed perfectionism is when individuals aspire to meet unrealistic goals that can be set by high cultural or societal standards. this can include when kids try to meet the goals set by parents or individuals trying to obtain a particular body type high regarded by society.

So which one, do I think I identify with? I would have to say self-critical perfectionist. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have procrastinated on projects just because I fear how I won’t execute them well. I expect nothing the less from myself, but possessing such a mindset can be crippling because I think can’t perform the task well. Such mindsets can also induce major anxiety for me. Speaking of which…

How can anxiety trigger perfectionism…or visa versa? Well that relationship is …complicated (Kvarnstrom, 2016). All that is known is that one, perfectionism is the onset of the individuals’s inability to cope with the stressors they ave set upon themselves and then on top of that, perfectionism itself worsens anxiety that in turn prevents the person from achieving their goal. Huh…go figure. Makes sense why I procrastinate.

So how can you help yourself overcome perfectionism. According to Healthy Place article, “How to Stop Being a Perfectionist” try to:

+ Recognize perfectionism as a problem

+  Set realistic goals for you

+ Look for positives in yourself and your life

+ Love yourself in your entirely, including your imperfections

+ Embracing your uniqueness

+ Stop procrastinating (This includes when something is just not right)

+Think of mistakes as lessons

Speaking for myself, failure should not be looked as a stain that would forever blotch out any opportunity for success. That’s not what failure is. This is what it means to F.A.I.L: First Attempt in Learning. It’s only in failing it’s pushes us to reach deep within ourselves and pull out sleeping and dormant skills and resolve we thought we’d never had or we thought we exhausted. However, this cannot be achieved if we strive for perfection instead. Perfection only leads to a shallow, unreasonable and perhaps unattainable goal(s). As the old saying goes: To err is human. So it’s not just much we should accept our errors, but our humanity as well. We need to start accepting our humanity.  

References

Agathanelou, F. (2015) How to Stop Being  Perfectionist. Retrieved from: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/09/how-to-stop-being-a-perfectionist

Good Therapy. (n.d). Perfectionism. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/perfectionism

Kvarnstrom, E. (2016). Why Perfectionism and Anxiety Disorders Go Hand-in-Hand. Retrieved from: https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/why-perfectionism-and-anxiety-disorders-go-hand-in-hand/

Other Readings:

You Aren’t Lazy–You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis and Perfectionism

Anti-Vaxxers

Honestly I don’t get anti-vaxxers, they’re either afraid of one thing or another, but one thing is for sure…they believe autism is due to being vaccinated. The funny thing is most of them HAVE been vaccinated and two it shows how ignorant they are about autism. Autism does not have a cause to WHY it happens, it just does. Instead of practically hating on autistic individuals, why not they learn how to love them??? Is it so hard to love someone who is different than themselves? But apparently, they think that autism is “far worse” than polio or the measles. This shows how ignorant not to spoiled to have such amenities compared to other countries.