I’m starting this blog in an effort to document my own ways of coping with narcolepsy, PTSD, addiction recovery, and bipolar disorder. I’ve had a tough life, obviously, but I’ve learned recently through going to an intensive outpatient program to deal with drug cravings that were getting stronger than ever after a year and a half of sobriety, that a lot of my past suffering could have been prevented if I had known about the practice of mindfulness and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). So I’ve decided to write about my search for happiness and peace through mindfulness in order to provide a resource out there for others suffering from invisible illnesses, mental illness, trauma, and addiction so that maybe what I’ve been through can help others to avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made, and find their own happiness using some of the tools that help me survive the bad days and the good.
For me, the triggers for addiction often stem from a feeling of deep unrest and boredom that I can’t predict, that can make me miserable and desperate to change my state of mind and mood, as fast as possible. Since my trauma is centered around a sexual assault that I suffered after I believe I was drugged, there is a messy intersection between PTSD and addiction that means that often the cravings themselves can trigger a panic attack, leading to a circular perpetual dance of anxiety and regret, frustration, and self-loathing. It’s no wonder that it’s taken me years to figure out how to find my own measure of happiness and peace in this world. Life can be random, chaotic and unfair, and people can often be ignorant, cruel, cynical, and governed by their own mental demons – too damaged and isolated to reach out to others to give or receive help. But there are also moments of great beauty even in lives that have more than their share of suffering, and it is in communities that are full of people who have lived messy, difficult lives where I have found the most strength and wisdom, bravery and empathy, altruism and humanity, and those are the people who have taught me that happiness is a choice that we can make for ourselves if we allow it, and believe we deserve it.
And for me, at least, that is the concept that mindfulness hinges on – that when we allow ourselves to be fully present in the world at all times, not stuck regretting the past or worrying about the future – we can choose to do something different. So if I’m in a lot of physical pain, for example, I know that my mood will automatically turn darker, so I will make the choice to distract my mind from that pain by using one of an arsenal of techniques that I’ve been taught, or realized, that distance my mind enough so that I can acknowledge my distress, as well as what has worked in the past to get me through it.
Bear in mind that I’m no psychiatrist, just someone with a lot of history coping with pain, emotional and physical, and that DBT and mindfulness, especially expressive coping techniques, are the reason that I’m alive to start this blog in the first place.
I’m hoping that my experiences can help at least a few people to learn how to stay sane a day, an hour, and a minute at a time, because I refuse to let my suffering be meaningless, and I have the power to define that meaning. Everyone out there who has survived and fought back – rape survivors and domestic abuse survivors and people who live daily with illness and pain – if you are reading this, we are part of an extraordinary community of fucking superheroes, living secret lives with enourmous courage and capacity for greatness. Part of my identity is built around being proud and open about my experiences, mistakes, traumas, and recovery, and I feel like I finally have a purpose to devote the rest of my life to: recruiting other superheroes and using our combined strength to make the world a better place for the people who are still suffering. This may seem like a blog about crafts and DIY, art, and expression, but it’s actually the X-Men headquarters. Welcome to the team. Take care of yourself and those around you. There is a lot to change about this flawed world, but that’s what superheroes do. Now grab an empty notebook and we can get started. Because the first thing we have to do before we help everyone, is to ensure that we’re alive and healthy and happy and sober, and that’s the blog that I want to write. The first step of the superhero project: self care of your superhero selves.