Published and Promoting! Plus, a Prize Contest!!!!

Solipsism: (noun) The belief that all reality is just one’s own imagining of reality, and that one’s self is the only thing that exists. 1871, coined from Latin solus, “alone”

I have been published! Solipsist, my collection of confessional poetry, is now available on Amazon and Kindle!

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***SHARE ON WORDPRESS THIS WEEK FOR A CHANCE TO WIN GIFTCARDS TO BARNES AND NOBLE, COFFEE BEAN, AND MORE!!!
I will be sending out thank you gifts to randomly selected WordPressers who share my book on their blog! Please be sure to link lazarusandlithium.com so I can include you in the prize selection! I will be sending the gifts on Friday, January 8th, so please make sure you share and link my blog before then!***

For those of you that don’t follow this blog, in 2010, I hit rock bottom. After struggling with crippling depression throughout my adolescence and heavy drug addiction, I attempted suicide. Thankfully, it wasn’t my time to leave. It has been an uphill battle towards recovery ever since. Every day I needed to make a conscious decision to hang on and get better. Slowly, with the love and support from my family and friends, I began to rehabilitate spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I am very grateful to say that I have been sober (and plan to be!) from the drug that had nearly destroyed me.

Through my arduous recovery process, I had turned to writing for healing. These poems that I have published in Solipsist were deliberately handpicked, as each one was written during a crucial point in my therapy. They are raw, unfiltered. I understand that some of them can be hard to read. They are difficult to share.

So, why open up to the world? Unfortunately, suicide is such a stigmatized topic in our society, along with mental health. I painfully remember not wanting to reach out for help for this very specific reason. All too often, people who are struggling with the above mentioned are labeled as “weak” and “attention seeking.” Then, when someone we love takes their own life, we wonder why we never saw the signs.

I lived through my experiences and I know that my purpose is to spread awareness. If I am able to save one life, my purpose is fulfilled.
That being said, I am VERY excited about my first published book. I am inviting you all to share this moment with me!

 

In dedication to:

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention
https://www.afsp.org/

The Trevor Project- providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

RAINN- Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network
https://www.rainn.org
Thank you all in advance!!
Laz

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That’s a Wrap! Goodbye 2015!

2015 has been an emotional roller coaster with really awesome highs, and really fucked up lows. I was trying to think of a way to summarize it all up into one, comprehensive blog post, and came up with the idea to attach one word to the year. One word to encapsulate it all. One word…

Metanoia (noun) 1. (psychology) the process of experiencing a psychotic “breakdown” and subsequent, positive psychological re-building or “healing” 2. The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.

Mental health, or lack thereof, at times. Thanks to a gentle push from a very good friend of mine, as well as my girlfriend, I found some refuge in a partial hospitalization program in February. Here I began the road to recovery from a psychotic playground swing-set and drug addiction.

Emergence from a heap of hopelessness and a seemingly-perpetual collapse. At more times than I care to admit, I sincerely felt that this would have been my last year here. I am able to recall a vivid moment in my old apartment: I had blacked out all of the windows, peeled all of my clothes off, and sank into a bathtub of warm water. I pulled myself out and curled up in the middle of my living room for literally hours. I cried silently as I held on to my knees, really thinking about how I could just run away from my life, or my body. Somehow, I have emerged from that very sad position and I am standing- still wobbly at times, but standing.

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Therapy. Not only did I receive fucking amazing group therapy this year, but I also found the best therapist in the entire world. Seriously. The hospitalization program offered me a place to be open and unfiltered about my symptoms. I finally found a med combination to combat depression and flashbacks. I was given coping skills and tools to handle everything and anything that came my way. Through the program, I was prompted to find a therapist- and I’m so happy to have her! Therapy has opened a brand new door towards healing from my past. Even though it’s painful and difficult, it has been totally worth it.

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Acceptance that I have actually lived through trauma, that I have other personalities, and that it’s going to be okay in the end. I’ve accepted the fact that I need to stick up for myself more often, and that I need to also give myself credit.

Not giving up. Yes, this pertains to me not giving up on life, but more than that, the people who love me did not give up on me- or for this I am eternally grateful. My friends were there for me, 24/7, despite the fact that I may have disappeared for weeks at a stretch, they were there to listen and help me back up. My family- my actual family who supports me- welcomed me back home. My therapist has proven to be a stable confidant in my life and integration process. And my girlfriend… from the very beginning… thank you to the moon and back. I would not be where I am now without you.

Opportunities to be who I am, speak up about mental health, seek therapy, fall in love, find happiness, and much more.

Integration. I’m not there yet, but I am thankful for the moments of cooperation from my system. I’m thankful for the communication that has grown stronger, and for their protection.

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Appreciation. Every morning, no matter how shit-tastic I may be feeling, I manage to still offer my appreciation towards the people that I love and have in my life, towards getting better, towards my inner-system, towards the roof over my head and food on my table. I have grown to appreciate my family more this year. Especially through group therapy, I’ve developed a habit of gratitude lists everyday that really help ground me.

I am looking forward to 2016. I know there will most likely be some major speed bumps in the road, but I even look forward to tackling those as well.

I encourage you to find a word that suits your year!!

Intruders and Injustice

I have been marvelously intrigued, and perhaps a bit preoccupied, with life’s small forms and their humbling moments of death.

My body seems to stumble upon carcasses on the road, limp corpses of moths and other worthy insects caught in the vents of my vehicle. Each and every time, I linger- almost as if I had just received news of a loved one passing on. I pause here in honor of their simple quiddities, laconicly spilling out a prayer so that they may reach their bug heaven, wherever that may be found.

It sounds rather trivial and puerile. Call it a fascination.

I talked to my grandmother this past Friday about my cousin and the incest. The conversation itself was a success. She shared with me that she had encountered a very similar circumstance with a much older male family member. Although justice was nowhere to be found, I did feel validated as her daughter and granddaughter.

The weekend came and went. Friday was difficult for many reasons. I mostly was triggered to relapse on a needle; I had to have my blood drawn for a lithium level check and the needle and rubber ties were too much for me to handle. I went spinning into a panic attack while in group. I could hear Senka crying over the bruised vein (he had to stick me twice). Overall, it was a traumatizing experience.

My appetite is still trying to get back to where it was. Last night I ate more, which is good.

Everything is okay right now.

Well, actually, I sitting here at my desk with a knife at arm’s reach. I came home about 40 minutes ago. I had turned the corner and saw that the backdoor was wide open. So, butcher knife in hand, I quietly swept all the rooms, closets, under-the-beds, and crevices. No one. I could smell my perpetrator’s cologne, but I think that’s just my go-to sensation when I’m scared. Nothing seemed to be missing or out of place. Still, I feel just slightly uneasy.

My debit card for disability finally came in the mail, so I feel very relieved about that.

No more to report for now. One more day of PHP.

The Vicious Flower

Today during my third group, I was able to come to a very enlightening discovery about myself.

For 45 minutes, we worked on our vicious flowers..

My intrusive belief was, “Isolation is better than seeking help.” Many of petals explained how isolating was a form of self harm in its own, etc. Then, at the the end of the exercise, the therapist called on each person to say aloud to the group one truth about themselves that they have been ignoring. When it was my turn, the following words fell from my lips:

I am worthy and deserving of recovery.

I kind of caught myself by surprise with this one. Wow…I’m worthy of happiness. I deserve peace. The entire day of processing had revolved around my own feelings of inadequacy; many times I have felt that I am the world’s punching bag. I don’t actually deserve happiness, but other people’s happiness depends on me.

Never have I really sat there and thought to recover my own self.

I’m doing better today. The suicidal thoughts have been pretty consistent lately. However, today I allowed myself to just feel shitty. If I didn’t feel like smiling, it was okay. And fuck, the groups are SO supportive. The amount of love and reach I have experienced over the past 4 days is absolutely incredible.

I do notice that I feel very split a lot of the time, and even my speech seems to not be able to keep up with my lips. This should go away, though.

On a last note, I am stressing over my disability insurance. I’m stressing about finances.

Joining the Circus! Be Back Soon

  
Since I’ll be on leave for at least 6 weeks, I’ve decided to tell everyone that I’ve gone and joined the circus- you know, instead of telling them I’ve checked myself into the funny farm (again). 

Yes! That’s me up there! Credits to my girlfriend for her ever-inspiring art! And thank you, Instagram, for your odd filters.

I’m a bit nervous for tomorrow, to say the least. I’m excited to get back to stabilizing myself and my emotions. I’m just very anxious about the inevitable pain, discomfort, and realizations that are to come.

Off to the circus I go!

Checking In, Checking Out- Back to PHP I Go

From the lobby into the evaluation room. Picking at my sweater… takes my blood pressure. I check out.

I’m sitting on the chair. She pushes her bracelets further up her arm. “Victoria? I asked you if you are suicidal currently?” I nod yes, but say no. She scribbles something down.

I’ve answered these questions hundreds of times before. Yes, I was traumatized. I was raped, beaten, father killed himself… well, no, see my mom abandoned me and I just met her 3 years ago- well, I didn’t really meet her.. Yes, I’ve attempted suicide. I suddenly feel that I’m on top of building.

“And how did your family members commit suicide?”

I check out again. I start feeling panicky. I smile, slightly shake my head and say, “I like your necklace.”

She responds, “Thank you. How long were you abused in the Church?” My lips go numb. I wasn’t talking about a church. I ask her, “Which church?”

She looks confused. “You had just told me that you had been physically abused in the Church of Scientology. How long did that last would you say?”

I check out again.

“Do you dissociate often?”

My heart is racing and my eyes are burning with tears that have refused to unfasten themselves. We talk more about medication compliance, self-harm. She asks me if I have an appetite. I stare down at my wrists…

“Last time you used heroin?”

Before I knew it, I was out in a flash. I just now heard from the hospital and my insurance has granted me 4 days of partial hospitalization for now. Hopefully, they will give me more once they witness my basketcasery.

I’m on the verge of a panic attack as it seems right now.

I’m Still Alive! and Lithium Sucks

I bumped up my meds last night. Woke up at 2 am, after a gnarly dream I had, and threw up a few times.

I dreamt that I knew I was still alive, but I was just asleep. So, I tried to kill myself in the dream. Then, someone stopped me. When I woke up, I had this nasty feeling of, “Why the fuck am I still here?” It’s the feeling you have after a failed suicide attempt. At least, it was familiar to me.

The person who saved me in my dream then texted me promptly when I woke up, “Are you awake?”

I called my doctor in the afternoon about it. She instructed me to only take 600mg instead of 900 tonight, just until she can run my blood levels. I felt really woozy all day. My appetite is gone, I’m impatient, and I can’t concentrate on anything. It’s all really stupid.

In other news, I’m feeling slightly more alive today. The perpetuating melancholy was still soggy on my clothes, my skin. Yet, I found that ultimately, I could stay alive today. Which, I guess is better than flirting with oblivion. Yesterday afternoon, I spent 3 hours huddled in a ball underneath my covers- 80 degrees in the room, beads of sweat collecting all over my body. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to breathe. But I just lied there, softly inhaling, letting time wash over me like tepid bathwater.

My boss kept pulling me into for impromptu team powwows. As he recited his orders, his thoughts, and opinions, the running commentary in my mind bellowed, “None of this matters. This is all make-believe-bullshit. Why don’t you see how badly I’m hurting? I want to die.”

Sob-fest. Please, somebody give me a hand off of my soapbox.

It then occurred to me that my last IOP day is on Wednesday…I better have a therapist by then, because I don’t know how much longer I can hang on without a professional.

Anyhoo, I hope everyone else is having a better day! I’d love to hear about some good news.

Day 5 of Partial Hospitalization- Learning to Love Myself

Today was Day 5 of my PHP! Technically, it’s my last day, but luckily my insurance approved me for 5 additional days. I’m going to finish PHP through this Friday, then starting Monday I’ll drop down to IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program).

Group therapy was difficult for me this morning.

In my second group, I processed through my childhood and my sexual molestation via my father figure and cousin when I was 12. I dove into my first suicide attempt as a 14 year old. The feelings of betrayal, abandonment,apathy, and hurt came floating to the top. The whole conversation came about with my origination of “I don’t feel anything.” During the past 5 days, I haven’t felt a damn thing. I can talk about my dad’s suicide, about my attempts, about my homelessness, heroin addiction, self-mutiliation, etc…not one tear or lump in the throat. Our therapist then pointed out that disassociation is a classic symptom and effect of abuse and molestation during childhood. It makes total sense. That’s how I survived- by building barriers around myself, pushing my feelings way down into my psyche, and carrying on with my life. I never really thought about it in that way…

There’s a new guy with us now. He’s really awesome. In the past  year, he has attempted suicide 3 times. He also has a 6 year old daughter. Our therapist asked him, “Where does your daughter fit into your attempts? Did you ever think about how your suicide may effect her?” He replied with, “In the throes of my depression up to my attempts, I thought my daughter would be better off without me in the world.” I broke down crying. I hope that that thought never went through my dad’s mind when he took his own life. I turned to him in group and I told him, “My dad killed himself. I wish he was in my life. You are a blessing to your daughter. Keep going.”

Something really hit me today in group. After I talked about my childhood and really stirred up the memories, our therapist said it’s time to really look back, as an adult and knowing what I know now, I can go back and be with that young child who was hurt, who was abandoned, and angry. I can love and nurture that child. I can stand next to her and hold her- something I didn’t have when I was going through that trauma. The therapist also suggested that I take a picture of myself when I was a child so I could visualize my innocence.

Well, I did just that. And it hurts a lot. I’m in tears right now as I type away. I’m at this critical point in my life where I’d like to be with that child, to forgive myself, to love myself. Which is difficult, because I harbor a lot of unwarranted guilt and resentment towards myself. However, I need to love myself and heal.

So, I’m dedicating this song tonight to the child-me, from the adult-me. Here’s to healing, forgiving, loving, and ultimate recovery. We all deserve inner peace.

When you’re feeling sad and blue
Don’t you know that I will always be here for you
When everything just makes us go out of our mind
Just know that I will always have the time for you
You say that I am your influence
You should know that you inspire me, now until the end
I’ll help you get through the thick and thin
And I know you’ll remember when, I say…

You are strong strong as a soldier
Even when winds are tough you’ll always keep it together.
You are strong, strong as a soldier
I know you’ll get through anything
‘Cause you’re strong, strong, strong as a soldier.

When the waves are crashing down, can’t get up
Just know I’ll pick you up from the ground
When it feels like everything goes wrong,
Just remember to listen to this song

You are strong strong as a soldier
Even when winds are tough you’ll always keep it together.
You are strong, strong as a soldier
I know you’ll get through anything
‘Cause you’re strong, strong, strong as a soldier.

Don’t you worry about the obstacles to your happiness
If you let them get to you, you’ll end up just like the rest.
I know you’re better than those people who get in the way
Just remember what I always say…

You are strong strong as a soldier
Even when winds are tough you’ll always keep it together.
You are strong, strong as a soldier
I know you’ll get through anything
‘Cause you’re strong, strong, strong as a soldier.

You are strong, strong, strong as a soldier
Strong, strong, strong as a soldier

PS- An extra song for us women 🙂

Day 4 of Partial Hospitalization- Seroquellian Dreams

Day 4 went pretty well. The group was rather quiet and mellow in the morning. We welcomed two new members- both came from 2 weeks as inpatients.

I spoke with my doctor this morning. I’m having blood work done tomorrow to check my lithium levels. She’s keeping me on 600 mgs for a while. In 6 minutes, I’ll be taking my first dose of Seroquel- 50 mgs. I’m slightly anxious about it, but I think I’ll be okay.

I talked a lot about my mom in the second group; my frustration with her, my anger because I feel that she is choosing drugs over me, my feelings of abandonment are resurfacing and I hate them. I still haven’t cried in group. I feel very apathetic.

In third group, we discussed depression. I was surprised at how many people understood me, and how I understood them in regards to the symptoms and aggravations of the black dog.

*takes meds*

I played hooky from fourth group and instead went out with 4 other awesome people I met in group. We went to a hookah cafe. How refreshing it is to converse with fellow Glitter Rainbow Imagineers. We’ve come up with a group title:

The 50-ONE-50s.

Tell me that isn’t the best thing ever.

I went to my first AA meeting tonight. It was an LGBT group, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Another fantastic benefit about AA is when I’m finished with PHP, I can continue to participate in group therapy. It really helps me a lot, and I’m so grateful for the experience I’ve been having so far in group. Driving to the treatment center, every morning, I find myself thanking God- whoever that may be- for allowing me to have this new start. Things were really dark there for a second. More than a second. I’ve been struggling for years. I needed this break, I needed this medication, these people, this place to get me on my feet and well again.

I’m also grateful for this blog. Many of you are so supportive and I appreciate you all so very much!

I suppose now I’ll wait for this Seroquel to kick in and make me sleepy. Supposedly, it’s a real ass kicker when it comes to drowsiness. Thoughts? Advice? Personal experience?

My anxiety has improved in regards to my work. I visited my coworkers for a little while today after I filled my prescription. I think everything is going to be okay. I need this time for myself.

Cappuccinos and Pride Flags

This morning started out a bit rocky; woke up at 4 am, greeted the familiar depression, flirted with a glass of wine, then I snapped out of it.

My girl friend took me to the cutest damn cafe today. We talked over cappuccinos and hot chocolate and ended off the afternoon by meandering through West Hollywood. I needed that outing.

The rain is coming down. Meanwhile, I am cozily snuggled on the sofa with a blanket draped over my legs. My dogs are snoozing next to me.

I’m feeling pretty content. Earlier this morning, I feel a little on the sedated side. I felt detached- not in a bad way. I just felt very off. I’m not depressed, nor am I manic, so that’s a good sign! So far so good with the lithium.

I’m still a little anxious about tomorrow. I’ll have to email my boss at work and let him know that I’m still going to be out. I’m going to try my hardest to have my primary care write a note for me so I can fax it in tomorrow. I have a lot of anxiety over not being at work, getting paid, etc. In a utopian society, I would file for disability and get my shit together. It’s frustrating as hell not knowing how long I’ll be out of work. I wish I had a concrete answer so I could plan…

I’m also pacing whilst nail-biting because I’m supposed to receive my prescription for my antipsychotic tomorrow, as well as bump my lithium up to 900 mg (although that will probably be in the mid week sometime). I’m fairly certain she’ll give me a script for Abilify, but I could be wrong. Ahh I just need to calm down.

Breathe, breathe

Tomorrow is Day 4 of PHP! My insurance approved me for another 5 days. Hallelujah.

I was supposed to go to an AA meeting this weekend. I know I should. I really do. I’m running into a lot of trouble admitting to myself that my drinking problem warrants meeting attendance.