So I’ve been dealing with my emotional and mood dysregulation for months now. It’s really getting on my last damn nerve. We keep switching up my meds and it helps for a while and then I start to feel depressed and unmotivated again. I start a new job on the 24th so I’m hoping to have most of this behind me by then so please send me all the vibes to have a good week that week. I’m also really anxious about these upcoming changes. Changes, while definitely exciting, can be super scary, especially when you suffer from mental illness. Nonetheless, I’ve got this. I started working on manifesting right before I got this job and I’m 90% convinced I manifested this job for myself. It’s hard for me to believe this stuff, but I really went hard with it. I wrote down that I would have that job on a piece of paper and put it in my pillow case. I wrote it on my refrigerator dry erase board and I just adopted the mindset that the job was already mine. And boom. I got it. So I think I’ll be trying that wizardry again.
Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. The smell of pine needles, sparkling lights, pretty decorations, Christmas carols, Christmas movies on repeat...
...and I'm an emotional wreck. I'm not alone either. Millions of people suffer from seasonal depression every year. I'm sure science has its facts, but here's my theory: Christmas used to be magical and felt like it lasted forever and today's Christmas season simply can't live up to that. Everyone's running around making sure they have presents for everyone, work life is nuts, and if you're alone, forget it. Attending Holiday parties alone or skipping them altogether, having noone to enjoy the decorations you spent hours putting up, no one to make Christmas cookies with. It's all around sad. And that stinks because I really do love the spirit of Christmas. So this is me trying my hardest to make the best out of a depressing situation.
So if you're struggling right now, you're not alone, you won't always feel like this and you're stronger than you think. Happy Holidays!
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. It's been kind of crazy with starting up the new podcast, Chasing Awareness, and the book signing last week. So many good things happening right now. Too bad my depression didn't get the memo.
Honestly, it’s been pretty tough recently. I’m not sure if it’s the slight change in my meds or the trauma work I’m doing with my therapist, but things seem a bit off. I’m emotional overeating, I’m not cleaning my apartment like I should be and I just feel kind of blah. It’s hard to explain. I just don’t feel as excited as I should with all of the lovely things I have going for me right now. However, I am trying to give myself grace and am hoping to pull myself out of this without having to switch up my meds AGAIN since I recently just changed them slightly. When you suffer from comorbid mental illnesses, sometimes it’s hard to know which symptoms need tending to first and which illness you’re even dealing with. Lately I’ve been feeling like my ADHD takes a back seat a lot of times and I don’t give it the attention (pun not intended) it deserves. The fact that this illness removes my executive function is pretty key in how I’ve been feeling so unmotivated lately.
Wow, these little blogging sessions are so cathartic. I end up revealing so much about myself and it ends up being really helpful for me. So anyway, that’s where I am mentally and I’ll keep y’all posted.
Today is the first day of suicide prevention awareness week. The reason this cause is so important to me is because I am a two time attempted suicide survivor. It only takes a single moment of despair to end it all. It’s so tempting to some people because that’s how painful depression and living with mental illness can be. Imagine preferring death over symptoms of an illness that is so taboo, you are scared to talk about it. Unimaginable for some people, I know. However, it doesn’t change the fact that people are dying of suicide at an alarming rate. Especially our youth. Is learning or talking about this subject so uncomfortable that it’s worth risking more lives? The longer we go keeping mental illness a dirty little secret, the more friends, children, parents, brothers and sisters we’ll lose to this illness.
We just want people to acknowledge our differences and recognize our struggles. Life would be so much easier if we could communicate our symptoms as symptoms and not have to lie and isolate to cover them up. It’s so scary to come out with mental illness for people that many would rather end their lives than have people know that they suffer from mental illness.
Mental illness is a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be all pain if people could seek help without judgement. I had someone reach out to me recently to tell me I had given them the courage to finally admit to their own mental illness and seek help. That means the world to me, and encourages me to keep fighting for this cause.
If you struggle or know someone who struggles from mental illness, share this to start the conversation. Share this to show you support your loved ones who are struggling. Share this to prove that you are NOT part of the problem. Help me be part of the solution. Help me normalize mental illness and end the stigma.
I know you've heard the whole spiel of exercising to magically turn your depression around. I hate it. I despise it. And whether you mean it or not, saying that to a depressed person is condescending and quite frankly a slap in the face. Why you ask? Because the only thing they want to feel is motivation to do absolutely ANYTHING. You're basically telling them to do something they desperately want to do but cannot find the energy to do. Many of you think you are helping, I know. And it's not like we don't know that physical exercise is good for our mental health as well as physical.
Sometimes you just need someone to lie in the rain with you. No talking. No advice. Just simply being present in their life during their depression, whether it’s situational or chemical. I’m experiencing a little situational depression right now and I expect it to come and go when I least expect it until I’ve fully processed what I’m going through. I have tried to ignore it throughout the day by focusing on my advocacy but I have to accept it and feel it in order to work through it and get past it. Just know I’m resilient. I refuse to accept pity. I’m a survivor and I’m keeping my word to always be transparent throughout my journey with my mental health. If you’re currently or ever have experienced depression, you’re not alone ♥️
My birthday is tomorrow and I just wanted to take note of 38 things I've learned in the past 38 years:
1.) Family isn't always blood related
2.) Support your loved ones in their endeavors whether you like that journey for them or not.
3.) Once you turn 35, it's next to impossible to lose weight
4.) You're not too old to wear that.
5.) Dogs don't live long enough. Cherish time with your fur babies.
6.) It's never too late to mend a relationship with someone you care about.
7.) It is completely acceptable to not have kids.
8.) Those who you made fun of as kids still remember that. Never too late to say sorry.
9.) Life is too short to date narcissists.
10.) Never be embarrassed to be the first person on the dance floor.
11.) Your job does not define you.
12.) Never turn down an opportunity to travel.
13.) Being envious is just an opportunity to give someone a compliment.
14.) Leave after the first red flag. You're better than that, sis (and bro).
15.) Admit you have unconscious biases (because we all do).
16.) Always have a karaoke song picked out.
17.) Celebrate your birthday. The world is lucky to have you for another year.
18.) Don't feel bad turning down junk food if you're trying to be healthy. Good for you!
19.) Don't feel bad getting seconds at dinner. Good for you!
20.) Just because you don't understand it, doesn't make it stupid.
21.) Don't underestimate Gen Z. They're smarter than you think & will run the world one day.
22.) Don't be in a hurry to grow up.
23.) Don't fear getting older.
24.) Wear sunscreen.
25.) Visit your grandparents. You will miss them so much when they're gone.
26.) Just admit your mom was right about everything.
27.) Weed is not a gateway drug.
28.) Don't sleep on antiques. They're making a comeback.
29.) Don't start smoking cigarettes. It's close to impossible to quit.
30.) Know that you are good enough to be in the room with anyone. ANYONE.
31.) Buy lingerie for yourself.
32.) Take care of your mental health in every way possible.
33.) Read more.
34.) Keep your Christmas decorations up as long as you want.
35.) Embrace those who are different from you.
36.) Understand how important sleep is for your health.
37.) Stop saying sorry for things you shouldn't be sorry for.
38.) Call or text the person you love the most right now and tell them you love them.
Someone in my life has let me down significantly. I trusted this person implicitly. They were an authoritative, almost parent like figure in my life. He took advantage of me and made me think it was my fault. He used my mental illness as an excuse to gain pleasure from my vulnerability. I already have trust issues with men so this was devastating. It was like losing a best friend, a parent and even a significant other all at once. Over time, the relationship became strangely flirtatious, but I just brushed it off because I have a tendency to misinterpret feelings and intentions from men. Then he took it to the next level and breached a trust that should have never been breached. The worst part was the gaslighting. He had me going over and over again in my head my actions that led up to this. After it came to a head last weekend, I spent the following week in agony. I thought I loved him. I thought I was going to spiral out of control. Finally yesterday, with a clear head, I realized this was not my fault. None of this was my fault. I was used, I was manipulated and blamed for my vulnerability. I won't say who this person is or what their part in my life was. Just know he should've known better. I have been grieving. I tried to go to a concert last night, but had to leave halfway through after being triggered by someone who reminded me of him. So yeah, it's fresh and I'm a little raw, but I have cried, I have spoken to my support system and once I am done, however long that may take, I'll move on. However, I am allowing myself time to really process this and pull any learning lessons I can possibly salvage from this. My birthday is in a week and I think I'm going into it with a solid mindset. 38 is actually my lucky number so hopefully this is my best year yet!
How EMDR Changed My Life - by Haywood Robinson
Sweating, heavy breathing, uncontrollable weeping, darkness, yelling, sheer terror...it was like I was back there all over again, but reliving the scariest moment of my life was completely worth it in the end.
In this post I will share with you my experience with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and why I highly recommend it, especially for fellow survivors of the troubled teen industry. While it can be a terrifying process to go through, the results can be absolutely life changing.
Since you are reading this, I’m sure you are familiar with the troubled teen industry and the many dangers of their practices. However, you may not be familiar with the abusive seminars primarily practiced in the WWASP programs. These seminars lasted for several days. They restricted your food, allowed very little sleep and made the children participate in humiliating, degrading and psychologically torturous exercises in an effort to “break” the child so they could be built back up again.
In the first seminar that I completed, I was tormented into admitting a sexual assault I had experienced. Later on, I was made to bang a towel wrapped in duct tape on the floor, screaming at my abuser while fellow program boys yelled in my face, “You’re a dirty whore! You’re a little slut! You deserved this! You were asking for this!” At one point one of them pushed a pillow against me simulating the pressure of my abuser while I continuously yelled at them, “I’m worthy! I’m not dirty! I’m not a slut!”
This is the incident that haunted me for twenty years. This defined my worth, my self-respect and my lack of confidence that affected every aspect of my life. This is the moment I wanted to confront. So once my therapist and I had done some preliminary work discussing the details and how the process would work over several sessions, I was finally ready to face this event and rewrite my emotional history.
She began by extending a pointer that reminded me of a short antenna and began moving it back and forth horizontally within my line of sight. I was told to follow the pointer with my eyes. Once I got comfortable following the pointer, my therapist asked me to recall this traumatic event. She asked me to smell the auditorium, feel the towel in my hands, hear the boys taunting me, smell the sweat dripping off of them, fully embrace the sheer terror of being tortured and having no control over the situation whatsoever. I began retelling every moment as if I was back there in this exact moment giving my therapist a play by play.
As this is happening, for reasons believed to be connected to Rapid Eye Movement (REM), internal associations began connecting and I began processing the memory and the traumatic feelings as if I were right back in that auditorium. I began to shake and lose my breath. Just short of a panic attack, the therapist intervened.
With her soothing voice she assured me I was safe and temporarily brought me back into the moment while I caught my breath. Once my breathing became more steady she asked me to go back to that memory but as who I am today. To picture myself standing up in the middle of that auditorium and telling those boys that I was incapable of being broken. She asked me to imagine that this event motivated me to live my life with dignity and respect for myself. She asked me to imagine that I left that program stronger than when I entered. That this moment defined my strength and not my weakness. I did. I began feeling feelings of warmth and acceptance and worthiness. Most importantly, I felt strong, powerful and like a true survivor.
My therapist simply acted as a moderator of my own solitary healing process. Through my own emotional intelligence, I was guided into restoring a huge part of my mental health. This event that defined so many aspects of my life in such a negative way, had now empowered me and transformed my entire belief system regarding what this event used to mean to me. All of this occurred within a 90 minute session, which I find miraculous.
This wasn’t something that simply changed my feelings about this memory temporarily. Every time I think about this memory, I am reminded of my immense strength and resilience. While I still suffer from PTSD, the symptoms revolve around other aspects of my time in the troubled teen industry and the effects are not as strong as they once were.
While EMDR worked for me, it is not a guarantee it will work for everyone. Every brain is incredibly different, but it is definitely worth a shot. If you don’t have success with this treatment, please don’t give up. Our website has plenty of resources to seek out alternative treatments. Whatever you decide to do, please know that you are worth it.
I hate the word "trigger." That word has been so trivialized over the last several years that it's kind of a joke now. A joke to anyone who has never been triggered. I am struggling right now. I can't go into depth about a particular situation, but let's just say it has triggered major rejection issues for me. On top of that, my psychiatrist thinks I may be experiencing cyclical moods which means my medication isn't working the way it should anymore. Which means when I was doing so well earlier last month, I may have been hypo manic which would explain the massive depressive spell I've been under the last week.
"Oh but Haywood, I saw you at a concert on Saturday and you seemed great!" I was. Music is like medicine to me. It was the best time I've had in a really long time. Then when I woke up the next morning, I could hardly get out of bed. I took my friend to the airport which left me all by my lonesome. She and the rest of my friends were out of town for Memorial Day Weekend (even my damn mom lol) so I did nothing and felt like a super huge loser. I did nothing but slept and ate. This sequence of events triggered my abandonment issues. I asked my psychiatrist today why I can't just accept that this is the way I feel, but know it's not logical and just move on. She explained that when your brain has been programmed for 20+ years to react a certain way every time I feel feelings of rejection or abandonment, it's hard to just shut down the automatic responses. Pair this with my mood disorders and it's just an adorable little concoction of "what the fuck am I supposed to do with this?"
All this being said, I feel much better today. I talked to my doctor, I'm writing about it like I told her I would even though I admitted I was afraid people stopped caring about these posts. But I'm not doing this for those who don't want to see it. I'm doing it for those who need to see it, whether that be many or few. Let's share our struggles with the world and let them know they're not alone!!