QPR

Today I attended QPR training at my college. The counseling center was offering training sessions, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn. Overall it was a great experience, but I did notice a few things that I wanted to talk about.

First of all, for those of you who do not know, QPR is short for question, persuade and refer. It is a program designed to train individuals on how to approach the topic of suicide and what to do if you believe someone you know is suicidal. I highly recommend the training, as it was a very informative program.

However, there were some problems with the powerpoints, that my instructor couldn’t change due to their copyrights. I was lucky enough to have an instructor who pointed these things out. However, it is important to be mindful of them.

One of the main problems I had was the term “commit”. On many slides the program stated statistics in which individuals “committed suicide”. I have a problem with this, as I see the word commit as placing blame on the victim. Someone who dies by suicide is not to blame for their death!

Another problem was that in the persuade section, one of the many recommendations was to have the person promise you they will not hurt themselves until they talk to you next. In my opinion this is ineffective and puts shame on the person you are supposed to be helping.

In the past I have had a therapist make me sign a suicidal thinking contract (which listed what I would do incase of an emergency and made me agree not to hurt myself), and it was one of the worst feelings. If he were to have made a plan with me and written out what to do without making me sign anything, it would have been a useful resource. However, by making me sign the paper it was almost like he was making me admit that my thoughts were wrong, and that I was at fault for having them.

Suicidal thoughts are obviously not a positive thing, but they are not anyones fault. Further more, by making someone feel bad for having these thoughts all that you are doing is furthering the stigma and limiting the chances of them speaking up.

Overall the QPR training was a positive experience. We ran scenarios, and I learned local resources and how to contact help if needed. I recommend it for anyone looking to be more informed on how to approach the subject of suicidal thinking. However, I would be mindful of the things that I talked about. Here is the link for the website if anyone is interested: https://www.qprinstitute.com/

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Separation

One of the things that I struggle with most is separating my own emotional struggles from my reactions and responses to other people in my life.

My reaction to stressors and my family and surrounding drama completely take over who I am. I become so focused on what is going on in others lives, that my response takes up all of my emotional energy. And in turn, that anxiety, worry and fear take up a majority of my physical energy as well.

It’s easy for someone to say just focus on yourself, or to not worry about things that you can’t change. But in practice that is a lot harder said than done.

For me trying to not worry and focusing on separation can make things worse. It’s like when you try not to think about it, it turns into the only thing you can focus on.

This is something that I’m working on, similar in a way to how mindfulness works. By acknowledging the fact that yes I am worried, or yes I am stressed, but also telling my self that that is ok. By focusing on breathing and acceptance, I am able to refocus on myself, rather than whatever it was that caused the initial panic.

This is a practice, and one that I am far from mastering. But, I’ve reached a critical point where the level of stress is completely taking over my life. So, I’m working hard on being able to focus inward.

Losing Hope

It’s been a few days since I’ve written anything. The truth is I’m not doing so great.

I’m going into my fourth week of college classes, yet I still haven’t found my groove. I still haven’t found a group of friends that I’m 100% comfortable with, and with everything going on in my family I’m still avoiding alcohol like it’s the plague.

I always imagined joining a sorority, and fully experiencing the college life you hear everyone talk about. But between my depression and the affects of being an adult child of an alcoholic, that dream that I always had is such a terrifying prospect.

It’s not just the social aspect of college that’s getting me down. It’s just my overall state of depression and general lack of motivation. I’m currently taking Fetzima, which is around the dozenth medication that I’ve tried. Yet, nothing has worked.

I’m studying psychology, and it doesn’t take an expert to know that this means my depression is treatment resistant. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have options, but typical medications may not help. I could try TMS, but I don’t know anyone who has experienced it and if I remember correctly it’s a commitment of five days a week for six weeks.

As it is now, I have a hard enough time convincing myself to get out of bed and get to class. If it wasn’t for the fact that if I miss more than a certain number of classes than I fail, my attendance would be nonexistent.

Right now there are so many stressors, my depressions sucks, and I feel like there are anxiety triggers everywhere I turn. So right now, I’m feeling rather hopeless.

Socializing?

Socializing is a pretty mandatory aspect of life. You have to do it, it’s what allows you to survive. What gives you the will to keep going.

But sometimes it is the most difficult thing to motivate yourself to do. When my depression starts to get bad, the first thing I want to do is isolate myself. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to go anywhere. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to watch a show, or listen to music.

It sounds so sad, so pathetic. But it’s the truth. Sometimes my energy is so diminished, and my mood is so low. I lay in bed not wanting to move. But you have to socialize, you have to get involved in life in order for anything to change.

Not to say that by socializing you magically feel better and like the world is all rainbows and puppies. Because that could not be further from the truth. When I get the energy to get out of bed, I usually regret it the instant I am with friends.

Their upbeat energy and mood makes me aggravated. Like I’m missing something. Why do I feel so miserable, and they are enjoying life to it’s fullest. But after the initial aggravation, I usually have a moment where I realize that I’m out of bed. Not only am I out of bed, but I’m feeling something other than exhaustion and hopelessness. Even if it is one of those moments of aggravation rather than enjoyment.

I love my friends, and talking to them, spending time with them, it’s what keeps me going. But I think it’s a topic that isn’t discussed enough. Sometimes it’s hard to be social. Sometimes you can’t help but to lay in bed and accept defeat for the day.

Pushing Away

I have never fully been able to trust anyone, to allow myself to be 100% vulnerable. It doesn’t matter who they are, or our past. It sounds like a horrible way to live, and it is. But sometimes you’ve just been burned to many times.

I’ve always known that I’m not exactly a people person. But today it struck just how truly closed off I can be. I was walking back from class as someone said “good afternoon beautiful.” Rather than accept the innocent complement, I flicked him off. That’s not all, in my head I went to the worst places, and looked down to be sure my pepper spray was on my keys. (I do live on a college campus, it’s not completely unreasonable.)

I’ve noticed that I am always quick to assume the worse. While I am generally polite, and try to be a people pleaser. I socialize very little. I have a close group of friends and that’s how I like it.

Growing up as a child of an alcoholic, you learn that trust can be extremely confusing. Whether it’s the lies the addict tells you, the lies others tell in order to protect you from the addict, or the lies you tell yourself in order to preserve whatever resemblance of innocent childhood memories you have, your world is surrounded by lies.

Growing up with such a limited understanding of honesty and trusting relationships can make it hard to form relationships. Being in a new dorm, meeting new people, I immediately think what is the other person getting by talking to me, rather than just assuming that they are simply trying to make a friend in an environment that is new to them as well.

They say acknowledging a problem is the first step, however I have always known that trust is not my strong suit. However it has allowed me to learn independence.

Either way, shutting people out and isolating your self is one of the worst things that you can do when you are depressed. So in writing this blog, I’m hoping to force myself into accepting that not everyone means you harm. Sometimes people can be nice simply for the sake of being nice. Even if your past makes that hard to see.

The Stigma

Anxiety sucks. Depression suck. And so does the stigma.

You hear people constantly talk about how we need to break the stigma, and how it’s our generation that will make the difference. However, I’m sometimes just as guilty in hiding my disease.

It’s hard to talk about mental health issues, especially when it comes to suicide. If someone asks how I’m doing, I’m often very quick to say, “Oh, I’m fine.” Or even if I am willing to open up, I’m much more likely to talk about my anxiety.

For some reason it is easier to confess to suffering from anxiety. Maybe, because on some level everybody has experienced it to some degree. Probably not to the same point, as to when it impairs your ability to function. But in my mind at least, I imagine everyone having a moment of anxiety.

But depression is a completely different evil. Everyone feels sad sometimes, and most people believe that that is all depression is. However, I think you have to experience it to truly understand. The complete and total feeling of emptiness, of hopelessness, of worthlessness.

There was this article on huffpost. (https://www.google.com/amp/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_598cd864e4b090964295eef3/amp) It was an artists interpretation of her depression. I viewed the photos and was completely overtaken by them. So many of them I could relate to on such a deep level. When I showed it to my friend she was perplexed. She said they were good, but she wasn’t nearly as affected.

It was at that moment that I was happy for her. She had no idea how true those photos could ring. She wasn’t able to relate, or even understand their depths. While when I viewed them, I saw so many different aspects of my everyday struggle with depression.

I was able to see the facade you have to put on for others, and sometimes even yourself. I interpreted the drawings as showing the physical aching and pain that you endure. I pictured how suddenly you can feel although your entire being just shattered, or how at some points you are just so confused and paralyzed with fear.

Suicide is the most difficult of all aspects for me to open up about. If I am to be completely honest, I am almost always suicidal. Having the desire to live is very rare for me. When people hear this, it is scary. Which I completely understand. But it’s important to see the different degrees of suicidal thinking. There is a difference between not wanting to live and having a plan. Furthermore there is a difference between having a plan and having the means the carry out your plan.

At points in my depression I have come to points where I have a plan. I have imagined the different ways I could end my life. But ultimately I’ve always been able to reach out for help when I reach such a critical point.

Its important to listen to people and be understanding rather than judgmental if they do open up to you about their illness. However, sometime I think that we put to much pressure on people to open up. There is definitely an importance in “breaking the stigma”. But if someone is going to be triggered or uncomfortable sharing their story, don’t push them.

That’s why this blog is anonymous right now. At some point I hope to be able to share this with friends and family. But for now being an anonymous voice is the best that I can do. I want to share my story, and help to break the stigma. Even though a face behind it may make it more powerful, it also makes it that much more real for me. That much more to face. On top of that, I would than have to worry about the reactions of those close to me. Which is more anxiety.

The Question that Actually Made Me Think

One component of my depression that I find extremely difficult to manage is the guilt. I have friends, a home, am financially stable… so why do I deserve to feel this way? To allow myself to completely shut down?

Well a few months ago my therapist asked me something that for the first time, made me feel a little less guilty. What is the difference between feeling sad or depressed when people have it worse, than feeling happiness or joy even though others have it better?

This made so much sense! I would never feel guilty for feeling proud of a B I got on a test, even though a fellow classmate got an A. So why should I feel guilty for experiencing depression just because there are people in worse situations??