Why I started smoking in hospital

Arriving at the psychiatric ward, in which I stayed for the last three and a half months, the first thing you spot is the so called “smoking pavilion”, basically the most important place up there. It’s where you meet before and after therapy, it’s where you get visited by old fellow patients out of visiting time, it’s where you go when you’re upset, because you’ll always find someone to talk to. It’s where you meet in the middle of the night, because almost everyone in there has some trouble sleeping. It’s where the nurses and therapists walk you, when they need to have a talk with you. It’s the place you go to when you’re hungry, but you’re running low on snacks. It’s the place you go to when you’re bored, almost every time someone will lurk around the corner after a few minutes. You spend the sunny days in front of it, the rainy ones inside of it.

After you’ve seen the famous smoking pavilion it won’t take you long until you spot either a single smoker or a whole group of people smoking. There’s no in-between. And whilst a single person smoking is rather rare, the groups of smokers belong to that place like the trees that seem to have grown there all along.
You might think these groups are limited to patients, but nurses, therapists and doctors seem to not have learned so much during their education. It’s actually pretty hard to find a person that doesn’t smoke. Everyone’s doing it. The head physician, the well-educated therapist, the nurse that doesn’t even smoke at home, the trainee, the nursing student, even the addiction counsellor.

When a patient is admitted and tells the physicians that they do not smoke, they’ll probably hear the same thing every other non-smoker did on their first day: “Oh, one of the very few non-smokers here, that’ll be fun.”

I got to hear that sentence, too. But a few weeks later, when I lit up my first cigarette there, everyone was left in shock. Maybe, because I was one of the few that didn’t smoke when they were admitted. Maybe, because they thought I wasn’t ‘that type of girl’. I heard it all.

Now, being outpatient, I quit again. But I’m still getting horribly judged for even starting.

But, you know, it’s hard to explain to non-neurodivergents. And now, that I left it behind, it makes even less sense.

As a person who’s among other things being treated for depression, I as well went under treatment for suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation.
Staying in hospital, you obviously can’t easily act on these or any other self-injurious ideas. I mean, you can, but it’s attached to a lot more stress and talks and justifications, as well as incredibly annoying behaviour analyses.

Not being able to actively harm myself all the time, my incredibly smart and disfunctional brain figured, that smoking could be an alternative.
It was something I didn’t like and I was kinda afraid of, the perfect thing to cause some harm to myself. Not forgetting the harm it causes to the body.

Some days I was sitting there hoping that this cigarette I was smoking might be the one that finally killed me. Other days I was just trying to numb the thoughts and the pain I felt. On even other days I just didn’t have stuff to do and I figured, that it would be a better option to smoke some cigarettes than to cut or burn myself.

If you never experienced this situation yourself, it’ll probably be hard to understand the feeling of having a little bit control over the damage you cause yourself, when most of it is taken away from you by rules the hospital put on you.

It was a way to cope, a way to numb my feelings, a way of limiting the damage.

Now that I am outpatient after a quarter of a year, I am proud to say that I quit.
But there are still days on which I can’t refuse, either because I am feeling okay, but not okay enough to not cause any harm to myself; or because I am just so fed up with everything, I have to turn it into a rebellious act against myself; or because I feel like it would be the better and less damaging option I have in that moment.

It were never my fellow patients that pressured me to start smoking, it was never out of peer-pressure, it was me that made that decision and it is me that has to be able to control whatever I choose to do.

I hope, that unlike a lot of people in life, you will question the things a person does, before judging them for their actions. Their behaviour might not fit your idea of reacting to certain events in life, but yours might not fit their idea either.

“Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement.”

Advertisements

These are the things I no longer wish to understand

I no longer wish to understand, why you would give someone the power to make their words become your thoughts. To make you hate yourself so much.

I no longer wish to understand the ongoing panic, even when nothing in particular is happening. The fear of the fear. Developing into a thing so big, that you can’t stop it from attacking you. That you can’t control it, and – most importantly – yourself, anymore.

I no longer wish to understand this constant idea in your head, that tells you everybody hates you. That makes you believe, the absence of the evidence that someone doesn’t hate you equals them actually hating you.

I no longer wish to understand the obsession you develope once you decide to trust someone. The attachement. The fear of losing them. The realization that this relationship only exists in order to end.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would push away a loved one in order to make sure they’ll stay, instead of pulling them closer and holding on to them.

I no longer wish to understand the thoughts that control you every single day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. That make you want to leave this world. That won’t leave you alone even in the better moments.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would wish for death, even though they know that they’ve been gifted with a life.

I no longer wish to understand the way it stings in the shower the next day. The guilt of realizing what you’ve done and the idea that maybe you deserved it.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would prefer the touch of a razor blade to their skin over that of a loved one.

I no longer wish to understand how you have to explain it over and over. How it is so much worse than every other bodypart being sick. How there exists such a stigma on a single topic.

I no longer wish to understand the idea of not being sick enough. Of wasting time others may would have needed more than you. The way the brain is able to deny its own sickness.

I no longer wish to understand why someone would wish to no longer understand the things they have learned to understand.

Speaking up about mental illness

Looking at any of my social media profiles it doesn’t take long to find a post about mental illness. If you want to find out, you will. Why am I doing this?

You’re talking about having cancer online? Showing others what it’s like to get chemo therapy? Wanting to show other patients that they are not alone?
You’re one big hero.

You’re talking about having depression online? Showing others what it’s like to get psychotherapy? Wanting to show other patients that they are not alone?
You’re an attention seeker, a simulant, a lazy teenager that doesn’t want to go to school.

Talking about mental illness still isn’t considered normal, whilst talking about physical illness is perfectly fine.

We live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way.
We are so, so, so accepting of any body part breaking down other than our brains. And that’s ignorance. That’s pure ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn’t understand depression, that doesn’t understand mental health.

 

I don’t like being vocal about my problems, but I speak up anyway.
If you meet me in person it will take a long time until I tell you anything about my problems. I’ve gone years without anyone noticing there’s something wrong. It’s easier to let everyone around you think you’re okay, but not speaking up will make you even more sick.

Mental illnesses often go unnoticed for a really long time, either because the person doesn’t even know that what they’re experiencing might be a mental health issue or because they’re too afraid to tell anyone or to seek help.

In school we teach kids about HIV and aids, we show them how to brush their teeth and tell them how to take care of their body by eating healthy. But we don’t teach them to speak up about their feelings, to take care of themselves even when they’re feeling like they don’t deserve to or to take a break instead of breaking down because there’s still so much to do.

We tell parents to look out for symptoms of physical illnesses in their kids like rashes or pain, but we don’t tell them to take care of their kids mental health and to look out if they’re often angry, sad or anxious.

Why do we pay so much attention to every part of our body but our brain? Why is it okay to rest when we have a cold, but lazy to rest when we had a rough day? Why are we strong when we come to work even though we had a fever yesterday, but weak when we call in sick, because we had a full blown panic attack last night?

I want others to know that they’re not alone, that they’re not weak, that what they’re experiencing is real. I want to raise awareness on a topic that is still considered a taboo subject in our society and to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.
I want to show that it’s okay to take care of yourself, that it’s okay to seek for help, that it’s okay to rest and, most of all, that it’s okay to speak up.

Nobody’s perfect, we’re all humans and we have to take care of each other and, most importantly, of ourselves.

You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.

Not being able to talk at times

I’m sitting in my therapists office and she asks me some simple questions.
“How are you feeling?” – “Not that good” is what I say instead of explaining why I feel horrible. “What happened this week?” – “Not that much” I say, not being able to think of what I did the last few days.

“Tell me a bit about your day” she says. And that’s when it happens.
I want to answer her question, but I just can’t get out a word. I try to breathe, but suddenly it feels like I’m suffocating. She doesn’t say anything. I look around searching for the clock, a minute goes by, it feels like an hour. “What’s so hard?” she asks. “I don’t know” is the only thing I can bring myself to say.
She asks a ton of other questions, but I can’t answer anymore. I’m silent for the rest of the session, my therapist doesn’t know what to do.

It’s not only that I am so nervous I can’t concentrate on anything or that I am too shy to answer. It’s wanting to speak but not being able to find your voice, wanting to express yourself but not being able to do it through words and sentences.

I want to talk to you, I want to look you in the eyes, I want to ask you questions, I want to be friendly, but instead I don’t say a word, I stare on the ground, wait until you give up on our conversation and come off as rude.

It’s not that I don’t want to speak, it’s simply that I just can’t. Even in therapy it’s one of the biggest obstacles. Even my therapist told me a hundred times, that she doesn’t know how to handle it.

Please, if you try to talk to someone and they’re not answering, please do not assume that it means they’re rude. Sometimes it’s just too much.

A day in the life with depression

Hearing my alarm ring I get disappointed for waking up again. I don’t wanna have to get through another day, I don’t have the strength to face another day, I’m tired and I want to sleep.

I lie in bed for another hour, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling, thinking of possible excuses to call in sick today. Who cares if I show up? Does it even matter? I won’t be able to focus on anything, so why should I even force myself to go there?

I’m running late and now I can’t decide what to wear. I don’t even care how I look, so why is it that hard for me to find something that feels worth putting on? I want to go back to bed and just sleep, everything is too much and I’m so tired.

I think I don’t need breakfast today, I don’t have enough time to eat anything, nor do I feel hungry. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, I feel like shit anyways.

I didn’t catch my bus and have to wait another hour. I don’t have the motivation to go back home, so instead I sit in the rain for a bit. I’m getting cold and I think about just giving up on today and going back to sleep again.

I arrive an hour late at school, my teacher says that I have to get up earlier and that this will no longer count as an excuse. I want to tell them that I didn’t even plan on arriving here and that I considered to throw myself in front of every car that I passed on the way.

During class I can’t focus. I want the day to be over already. I start to count: Seconds, minutes, hours until I can finally leave. Just another 45 minutes, I try to count to 2700 to pass the time. I get tired at 300. 40 more minutes to go. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay awake any longer. I’m so tired.

My teachers get upset with me because I didn’t tell them about my missing homework. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t tell them this every single day. I never have my homework. I want to do them every day and every day I fail. I don’t know how to build up the motivation and energy to do this. It’s not that I don’t know the answers or anything, I just don’t get anything done.

During class several teachers come up to me. They’re disappointed because I don’t write everything down. I’m sorry. I’m disappointed, too.

As I finally arrive at my house again, I just want to fall into bed. But I have to do some stuff to help my mum, and oh, I want to help her so much, but oh, I’m so overwhelmed by everything and even the simplest task is too hard for me.
Seeing my family doing so much more than I do hurts and I understand that it comes off as laziness most of the time, but really, I’m trying, I’m trying so hard.

I probably should eat something, I’m feeling a bit hungry, but I just don’t care. I’d rather starve than make myself something to eat. I just can’t find the motivation to get up and walk those few steps to the fridge. Later on I get really hungry, so I just search for something that I don’t have to prepare and eat it. I honestly don’t care.

And day after day I sit on my bed, staring at the wall, thinking about doing my homework and day after day I end up not doing it. I want to do it, I really want to do it. I won’t get a job, I won’t succeed in life, I won’t ever be happy again, I probably won’t even survive until I’m 20.

I avoid to look at my phone, because answering peoples messages stresses me out too much and I don’t have the energy to keep up with literally anything. I binge watch something I can’t focus on until I can finally go to bed at an embarassing early time.

I lie in bed thinking about how I wasted another day and ask myself how I am supposed to get through tomorrow. I’m already tired for like the next three years. I just want to sleep, but please, I don’t want to dream anything, because even dreaming is too exhausting. Some time after midnight I eventually fall asleep, thanks to my sleeping pills.
I made it through today, but it was hard. Will I make it through tomorrow?

Why I push away the ones I fear to lose

I know I get too attached. I always feel like I can’t trust anyone, but if I do, I start to get attached which comes along with the fear of losing the ones I need the most. And then, somehow, I always happen to push away exactly these people. That’s what happens all the time.

And here’s why.

I know I have trust issues, I usually never trust anyone. But sometimes I start to trust people and suddenly they become an important part of my life. I get obsessed, and that’s when I get so afraid of losing them, that it seems like the only option I have is to push them away.

I don’t want them to recognize how much they mean to me, because it might freak them out a bit and they might distance themselves, but at the other hand I want them to know how much of an impact they have on my life.
I don’t want them to think I’m obsessing over their exsitence, but I want them to know that they’re cherished as a person.
I don’t want them to get annoyed with me, but I want to talk to them or spend time with them.
I don’t want them to think I’m like some kind of stalker, but I for sure want them to know that I don’t hate them.
But most of the time that’s probably exactly what they think of me.

Those people are often teachers, therapists or others that did something that helped me or that I appreciated. Most of time I don’t really talk to those people, I probably don’t even say hi when I walk past them, because I am too shy.
I’m 24/7 afraid that someone I like hates me.

I am so terrified of being hated, forgotten or left, that I think I have to be the one who leaves first, because it hurts less to leave than being left.

But I’m not strong enough and so I keep losing people. And I always lose them. Maybe if I told them how important they are to me and that I want to stay in touch, some of them wouldn’t leave completely.

I hope you always remember someone out there appreciates you and your existence in their life, even if you don’t get to recognize it. 

A friendly reminder

Mental illness doesn’t take a break over the summer holidays.

Just because we don’t have to go to school doesn’t mean we’re suddenly doing okay. Our fears and thoughts don’t stop the moment we get out of school for a few weeks, they don’t care about relaxing or swimming pool time.

Having a lot of time now doesn’t always make us feel better and less depressed or anxious, no sometimes it makes us feel even worse, because we’re lacking the daily structure and have even more time to overthink.

Just because we don’t have to get up for school doesn’t mean that getting out of bed is easier when we’re on summer break. No, it might be even harder because we’re not forced to get up in order to be on time.

Not having to go to school gives all of us a lot of free time, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to do things all day. We still get stressed and overwhelmed, we still fear the stuff we fear when we’re going to school and we still struggle with daily tasks.

Being on summer break doesn’t make us able to do fun things with our friends all the time. Often we don’t get to enjoy the stuff mentally healthy people enjoy, we might get exhausted or upset very easy and still need to plan our activities.

If you or someone you know struggles with mental health problems, please remember: Holidays or breaks don’t magically cure our illnesses, we’re still struggling and that’s totally normal and okay. Healing takes time.

What being inpatient really is like

I might or might not have written this to convince myself that going inpatient isn’t as scary as it seems. Yes, I’ve been inpatient before; no, that doesn’t mean I’m not scared of doing it again. So here you go:


Thinking about inpatient treatment for mental illness, the first thing that comes to peoples minds is probably a lot of scary stuff.

Sure, it is scary as hell, but since you’re fighting a war inside of your mind, fighting to get your life back, doing things you never wanted to do and so on, that’s pretty normal.
It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to fear it, because IT IS SCARY.

But there is so much more to this.

Being inpatient on an open station isn’t sitting in your room in a hospital gown crying all day, it’s walking around in pyjamas all day every day and nobody cares what you look like.
It’s playing video games with other patients and fighting about who gets to be Peach in Mario Kart to distract yourself, trying to get into the staff wifi for free and watching at least two movies a day.

It isn’t eating the same gross hospital food alone in your room everyday, it’s sitting at a table with your friends, eating like a family and building stuff with bread and tooth sticks.
It’s playing games like “Who am I” on the table, so those with an eating disorder have something other than food to think about and those with social anxiety have something to talk about to the others.

Staying in the hospital over night isn’t always hearing the alarm go off, people screaming outside your room or ambulances arriving every night.
Sure that happens too, but sometimes it’s sneaking out of your room at midnight to wish your friend in another room a happy birthday.
Sometimes it’s begging the staff to allow you to stay outside of your rooms until midnight and them being okay with it.
Sometimes it’s staying outside until locktime watching the stars and listening to music.

Being there for a really long time isn’t missing home every single day and wanting to escape all the time.
Sure homesickness is real and will come along quiet often, but eventually you’ll meet the most wonderful people in there, with which you’ll be in contact for the rest of your life and still talking about the time you spent inpatient together 20 years after.
Maybe it’s finding out that you’ll consider this place your second home for the rest of your life and that it will always belong in your heart .

It’s experiencing things you’d never imagined before, good and bad. But it for sure isn’t just scary.

Specific phobias

Did you ever fear something so much you would have rather died than having to experience that thing?

That’s what it’s like to have a specific phobia.

Everything I do in my life is meant to prevent on experiencing my fear, every thought I think is checked at least twice in case it could make this thing happen.

I can’t even write about what my biggest fear is, because when I write or talk about it it seems even more real and even more like it’s gonna happen in any moment.

I am ashamed, of my fear and of myself. I know that these thoughts don’t make sense, I know that my fear seems irrelevant to others and I know that my phobia is what holds me back from living a happy life.

Not even one simple action like putting a glas on a table isn’t thought through a hundred times. Did I ever do it like I’m doing it right now and was I afraid or did the thing happen? If I do it like this now, will I be afraid or will this thing happen? If I do it like this now and I will be afraid or the thing will happen, I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, because it will happen again. If I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, I will get afraid and the thing might happen.

My thoughts never stop. My mind is currently working and creating “What if” sentences. I can’t make it stop. I can’t make it stop, because if I don’t think about it, I will be afraid and the thing might happen.

At times it gets worse and I become really afraid. I won’t be able to function like a normal human being, I might escape or try to interact with you, I might talk a lot or not at all, I might sit still or walk around trying to breathe, I might tell you what’s going on, but most of the time I won’t.

I have to get through this and I most probably will get through this, but I never know for sure if I really will.

Sometimes I want to give up, I don’t want to exist anymore or I want to die, because then the thing won’t ever happen again.

Sometimes I just want to hide, forever. I want to find an option to make sure this thing won’t ever happen, at all costs.

Sometimes I just want this fear to go away, because I would like to do something randomly and not think about the same thing all the time, sometimes I just want to know how a normal life feels.

Please, I beg you to never ever ever play down someone’s fears or to even make fun of them. If you’ve never felt like that before, you won’t be able to understand, no matter how hard you try. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Try to find out what comforts the person, what lowers their fear and what you can do to help them a little. Even if it’s just talking random stuff or sitting across the room; the best you can do is to respect the persons fear and to try to minimize the harm they do to themselves, mentally and/or physically. 

[mhaw] ❁ Why not having an ED could’ve made me develope one

[Mental Health Awareness Week – Post 2]

I never had an eating disorder. But everybody always thought I had one.
And that’s the problem.

I was born underweight and I was underweight my whole life.
When I was only 1 year old my mother got asked if I get enough to eat, when I was 3 years old I was told I eat like a bird, when I was 7 years old other girls started to comment on my body and when I was 10 some of my classmates first started to get jealous.
When I was 12 my teacher (!) said that they’d wish to weigh as less as I did, when I was 13 years old, I was forced to eat more than I wanted by someone that doesn’t even belong to my family.
Even when I went inpatient for therapy, I was under an eating disorder treatment and it took me 9 weeks of resistance until they started to second-guess themselves. I had to eat on the tables with people who actually do have an ED for 12 weeks, my weight was checked twice a week for 85 days and even when I was released they still didn’t completely believe me.

I got commented on my weight by family, friends, classmates, doctors and strangers every day my whole life long. I was asked if I have an eating disorder almost once a week, I was asked how much I eat and if I go running or to the gym.

No. I was like everyone else my age. The low weight is in my genes, I wasn’t doing anything for it.

But when you hear things like this every single day, you start to think about it.
Most of the time it was just annoying, sometimes I felt complimented, but I still wanted to gain some weight.
Some day I started to feel like I wasn’t allowed to change anymore. I thought I had to stay that way so people wouldn’t stop liking me, I thought that if I gained weight people would dislike me, because I’d be like everyone else.

I can be very lucky that I can control these thoughts and that I eat what I want, when I want, but someone else might have been even more uncomfortable with how they look and would have started to diet.

What’s saddest about this is, that even teachers, those that are rolemodels to so many young children, were telling me that they wished for a weight like mine. They didn’t know if I had an eating disorder or not. I was lucky that I didn’t have one, but there are so many people out there that do, and they receive the same messages all the time.

Think before you speak.