1096 days.

For nine years, cutting was the only way I had to ease the pain. Every stress, every feeling was etched into my forearm. A jagged, visceral reminder of the devastation in my heart. It was an elaborate metaphor. The injury was like a vent, the blood, my feelings, spilling out from it. I had no real way to express myself without injuring, as emotions were somewhat scorned in my family. I was expected to be happy and a high-achiever and anything else was a failure, so I was forced to cry in secret and bleed my tears. For nine years, this was my method. Everyday, for every reason, I spilled my blood in desperation. For nine years I could not stop. It was as ingrained in my heart as breathing, but at 19 I knew I couldn’t continue. I had more damaged skin than intact, and had been on several treks to the emergency room. I knew my life was in danger, that one slip and I’d bleed to death on my bathroom floor. On September 9, 2007, I resolved to stop once and for all. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up. How many nights I spent crying, my nails bitten to the nubs, my heart screaming out, but I didn’t give up. I fought on and those fretful nights clicked on and on, adding up to weeks, months. Now, three years later, I’m still going strong. I’ve learned REAL coping skills and no longer need to hurt myself. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be sad or angry, that having a negative emotion is not a failure. I’ve got an amazing support system, a literal bag of tricks, and everyday is a little easier.

Self-injury is extremely difficult to overcome, but it CAN be done! No one deserves the pain of self-injury, and there are places and people who can help any of you who may be suffering. I’m passionate about self-injury awareness, and am always available to talk to anyone who needs it. Tweet @ me, I’ll reply. Another amazing resource, one that helped me so much is S.A.F.E. Alternatives.

Nobody should ever suffer in silence. Everyday I beat self-injury.

So can you.

Does Spring Cleaning Have an Autumn Equivalent?

I admit it — I struggle with clutter. Highly organized clutter, but still clutter. Over my 22 years, I’ve adopted many strategies to deal with my anxiety, ranging from severely self-destructive (self-injury) to potentially severely self-destructive (hoarding tendency). To combat my tendency to hoard things, every 3 months I “Deep Clean”. Every room, every drawer, every closet is sorted and unneeded things discarded.
Today’s the day.
Wish me luck as I attempt to avoid being on A&E.

Journal Entry Sunday

March 8, 2010 “Undress”

180 this morning. Won’t make my birthday goal unless a miracle happens. I’m hoping to get to 170 instead. I’ve been doing well, so I think I can do it. Pilates everyday. No soda. No more than 1000 cals per day. No exceptions.

So today was Eden’s doctor appointment. She’s going to have surgery on april 14th. We’re going to replace the tubes in her ears and remove her adenoids. I’m a little nervous, but everything should be just fine.

Her doctor asked me today if I’m a single mom. I said Yes and he said I’m a really good mom and that he was impressed with me. =) Made me really happy. It’s nice to be validated like that. He’s told me I’m nice before. He’s a nice man. And a good doctor. He’s done a really great job taking care of Eden and making me feel at ease.

I want to buy a new car. Maybe I will.

I’m so ready to graduate and start working. Can it be next march yet? I’m starting to think I might want to work on the administrative side of things over clinical. Either way, I’ll be happy, but that’s what I’m thinking. I’m definitely going to do an hour of pilates tonight. maybe more. And I’m going to take a bubble bath and pamper myself a little bit. I deserve a little self-care. I need to finish my homework too. Just math and anatomy. Shouldn’t take too long. Maybe 45 minutes.

Anyways.

I’m bored.

Love-Amber

One Horse Town? We Don’t Even Have a Stable

Another weekend too short. Another reluctant goodbye. For 13 months, he’s been miles and miles away from me, our lives too busy and conflicting to successfully blend. April can’t come fast enough. As hard as it is to watch his jeep speed him away from me, I know that the distance is about to close. I finish school in March — In April, Eden and I are pulling up stakes and moving to MC. A new city, a new job, a new place with my two loves. While I’m a little scared to move away from my family and 90% of my friends — I know this move will be for the best.

MC is a pretty big place, with thousands of people, one of the best school districts in the state, and so many opportunities for me and the Girl. But MC is also a fairly small place — large by my standards (my hometown has 900 people in it), but tiny by national standards. It’s safe and friendly like a small country town with the advantages of a city.

I’m excited. This will really mean a new chapter in my life. I’m ready to make the transition from awkward not-quite-teen-not-quite-adult to adult getting a place with her partner, raising her children and working in the field she’s been training in for years. No more research papers, late-night cram sessions and juggling single motherhood with midterms and a long-distance love affair.

I hope “The Real World” is all I’m hyping it up to be.

Love and Hairdye

Okay, I get it–I don’t look like this
Yeah, not at all like that.
I look like this
Yeah, that's more like it.
But my daughter…she looks like this.
Cute. Pretty much Adorable.
Happy. Healthy. Beautiful. Smart. Strong. Well-adjusted. LOVED. I don’t have to be June Cleaver to be a good mother. I might not be perfect, but who is? Sure, sometimes I get frustrated, sometimes I forget to pack just enough things in the diaper bag. I’m only human-I’m not SuperMom. But I do love my child, and I do my absolute best. Everyday Eden is told how much she is loved, how happy I am to be her mama. She’s kissed and cuddled, tucked in to bed with lullabies and her favorite blankie. I teach her all that I know and love her with all that I am. She’s my Miracle baby and I love nothing more than being a mom.
People who pass us in the grocery store can make their judgements. I’ve heard them all. Too young! Single! Why is her hair purple?! Yuck, tattoos! I bet she’s ANGRY! I bet she’s on drugs! I bet she dropped out of high school! Judge all you want, because we know the truth. My daughter has already learned a valuable lesson you’ve apparently missed- Never judge a book by its cover.

Or a mommy by her hair color.
Save your judgement.

Of a Life Lost

2006 wasn’t good to me.
I turned 18 that year and I graduated from high school, but after that it was pretty downhill. I struggled through my senior year, having been diagnosed as bipolar the year before, being subsequently overloaded on meds and frequently hospitalized. The trend continued after graduation and I went away to college. I was only there a week, when the campus psychiatrist said I had to take leave and enter an eating disorder treatment facility. I convinced my parents to keep me out of treatment, but in return I had to leave their house. I was on my own.

Very on my own.

More hospitalizations, more and more meds. Then the headaches started. In january of 2007, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Not cancer, but still horrifying. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

My world had ended.
I was an 18 year old unemployed college dropout, living on disability, and very sick. I had no family, mine having long abandoned me. I had no friends, having alienated everyone around me. I spent all of february psychotically depressed. Perpetual panic attacks and mocking voices punctuated the time, eventually culminating in my february 27th suicide attempt. Everything I had was lost, including my future.

That night, I turned off my phone and swallowed over 200 pills. Thousands and thousands of milligrams of psychotropics and narcotics. I took handfuls of pills, puked, passed out, repeated. I cut my arms, took more pills. I kept going and going until I couldn’t bring my hand to my mouth any longer, and then I laid down.

Hours passed.

On february 28th, I was found. I was taken to the emergency room, then transported to a larger one. I spent the next few days floating in and out of consciousness, some section of myself continuously pulling me out of the coma.

Something in me wanted to live. Something in me begged my heart to beat, my eyes to open. On march 2nd I woke up. I saw my arm, the cuts held tight with steri strips, bruises from multiple needle pokes, and an IV site, I followed the line up, then noticed an EKG lead, followed it up to the monitor. To the right of the monitor – my father. He sat there and he smiled through tear-soaked eyes.

I knew then that I was loved.

After recovering in the hospital, I returned home and started again. My suicide had been successful, that girl died that night. Three years later, I’m a new person. No meds, in school, a new mother. I don’t regret my actions. Death gave me life, new perspective. Everyday I’m grateful for being given a second chance, and I make the most of every minute. I’m actively involved in my medical care – now knowing I’m neither schizophrenic nor bipolar. My future was not taken away from me – It was given back.

New life, Indeed.

The List of 100 Dreams

At the suggestion of a recent issue of Whole Living magazine, I made my List of 100 Dreams. In doing so, it really helped put things in perspective. Made me see what is REALLY important to me.

1) Master knitting
2) Garden more, grow my own veggies
3) Learn to can said veggies
4) Pay off my credit cards and never get another
5) Learn Italian
6) Give up soda
7) Exercise daily
8 ) Do daily “gratefuls”
9) Go vegetarian
10) Embrace an earlier bedtime
11) Get my BSN
12) Take Eden camping
13) Run a half marathon
14) Read all the books in my library
15) Learn to sew
16) Achieve a healthy body weight
17) Volunteer at an animal shelter
18) Be a foster parent
19) Climb a mountain
20) Ride RAGBRAI
21) Own a small business
22) Open an Etsy shop
23) Tour the mediterranean
24) Get married
25) Have another baby
26) Go to the Smithsonian
27) Be an extra in a movie
28) Write a book
29) Restore an old house
30) Plant a tree
31) Lay in a hammock and drink an umbrella drink
32) Go on a cruise
33) Learn to speak Polish
34) Become an ARNP and work in oncology or hemotology
35) Learn to play the cello
36) Teach Eden to play the piano
37) Coach cheerleading
38) Go to a tattoo convention
39) Take a class in criminal psychology
40) Go to every state in the USA
41) Learn to surf
42) Go blonde
43) Be in a commercial
44) Go to a spa for a weekend
45) Go ghost hunting
46) Stay in a bed and breakfast
47) Plant a sunflower garden
48) Get a henna tattoo
49) Eat Belgian waffles in Belgium
50) Restore a classic car
51) Read Proust
52) Go backpacking
53) Make homemade candles
54) Try sushi
55) See Niagara Falls
56) Go skiing in Sweden
57) Learn to tattoo
58) Go to all the zoos in the midwest
59) Work at St. Jude’s
60) Start an advocacy group for suicide prevention and self-injury awareness
61) Take the exam to join mensa
62) Learn to decorate cakes
63) Tour castles in Ireland
64) Ride a horse on a mountain trail
65) Get a mohawk
66) Climb a tree
67) See Dracula’s castle
68) Illustrate a graphic novel
69) Campaign for a politician
70) Learn to crochet
71) Go snowboarding
72) Go to an IMAX movie
73) Be a contestant on a game show
74) Kiss a celebrity
75) Go rock climbing
76) Donate a gallon of blood
77) Do a voice-over for a cartoon
78) Write a song
79) Break a world record
80) Make and bury a time capsule
81) Do yoga in front of a waterfall
82) Help my parents open an orchard
83) Be in a musical
84) Be a girl scout troop leader
85) Learn to skateboard
86) Rescue a shelter animal
87) Go to Disneyland
88) Go bungee jumping
89) Speak at a conference
90) Be in an art exhibit
91) Be tattooed by Kat Von D
92) Go white water rafting
93) Invent something
94) Make a quilt
95) Visit the Crayola factory
96) Home brew
97) Inspire someone
98) Learn sign language
99) Walk my daughter down the aisle
100) Be happy