Monday, September 17, 2012

To Write Love on {My} Arms

I hope that those who read Trial By Sapphire understand that this blog is not a tell-all.  I have great admiration for those who post with the utmost honesty and genuinely unravel themselves to teach others by exposing their own experiences.  I think I do this... but to a point.  For as private as I am and as guarded as I can be about my relationships, I feel like I've shared quite a bit on this blog.  However, I feel confident that I have shared personal stories of mine within reason and always with a purpose in mind.  I don't see my blog as a place to vent, but rather, a place to share insight and encourage others to see "the other side" of a given situation.
* * * * * * * * * *

Last week was National Suicide Prevention Week.  Many organizations take part, and you may have noticed commercials on TV and announcements on social media.  There is a non-profit organization called To Write Love on Her Arms, and as they share on their website, they are:

"dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with  
depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  
TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire 
and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." 
 
They aim to raise awareness about taboo but serious topics that affect millions of people.  Over time, those who have a history (of any of the bolded topics above) and supporters have taken pictures of the word "love" on their arms and shared them.  It's something that I had never done before last week, but I guess my new love affair with Instagram called for a change, as you can see from the picture above!

* * * * * * * * *

A lot can change in eight years.  In October 2004, I was in the hospital after four years during which wonderful things happened but I rarely felt worthy.  After a hard life lesson and intermittent health issues with my mom, I struggled to piece "normal" life back together and balance all the moving parts.  I filled my time with the activities that brought me joy, but I rarely dedicated any time to healing or making sense of what happens to those left behind by death.

I was having the best academic semester of college to date, I had regular social commitments with friends, I was a student director for a choir on campus, I spent the summer playing the lead in a musical I had a ton of fun in, I enjoyed multiple jobs (university admissions, theme park performer, choir soloist), and I was head-over-heels in love with my boyfriend.  But for the year before that, I was fighting a hard battle.  My lack of sleep and emotional well-being dictated my self-esteem.  Somewhere in all the excitement of everything going right, a small internal whisper told me it was too good to be true.  It threatened to topple my Jenga tower of mounting successes.  Loving the praise of being "so busy and accomplished," I didn't want to blemish the illusion.  Doubt morphed into fear until, one day, it was hard to just be with myself.

I had a menagerie of private self-medicating techniques.  If I couldn't be the happiest or most outgoing, I wanted to be the thinnest.  If I wanted to fool people into thinking I could eat "eat like the guys" and still be thin, I would lose my food afterward.  If people upset or disappointed me, I spitefully showed it on my body, though they would never see it. I did not discriminate against any tool.  I was creative in making my marks.

I will forever be grateful to two people who confronted me, on separate occasions, in the most heartfelt manner without baby-ing me.  It was with their encouragement that I started regular visits with a counselor at my university's counseling center.  (It's one of the most important free student services at a university, in my opinion!)  It was a bumpy ride at first but got better and better every week.  But one day, I knew I was on the verge of a complete melt-down.  I made an emergency visit, and after an intense two hours of being brutally honest with her, I was on my way to the hospital.  I was reviewed by three doctors.  I was questioned about the marks on my body.  My 90-lb. frame was weighed and photographed.  I was put on a strict in-patient schedule for a few days.  It was my rock bottom.  It was a terrible reality check but the necessary break from life that I couldn't give myself.


Now I can speak very honestly about my experience with people who ask about it, but I don't think this public blog is the forum for all the details.   There are people very dear to me who supported me through it, and while it's my story, I feel like it is theirs as well and that I don't have the full authority to share it at will.  Isn't that odd?

One of the most important lessons I've learned from those darker days is how every action and word has a ripple effect.  At the time, I felt like the world was crumbling in on me and me alone, but the things I did took a toll on everyone around me, thus proving that one person can make a difference.  Back then, the difference I made may not have always been good.  (I lied a lot.  I had a sharp tongue.  I distanced myself from good people.)  But now, no matter what kind of day I've had, I make a conscious effort to make a positive difference, or at the very least, maintain my status quo.  I haven't taken a poll recently, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job.  :)

Sometimes, it's a feat to survive life's circumstances, but I feel so accomplished to see how I've grown.  With more clarity and confidence every year, I feel like I am stretching myself into every corner of my being in the best possible sense.  With last week's awareness campaign, this was a worthwhile time to share something so personal.  I am positive that I am not perceived as a hardened soul.  Even people who knew me during that time have admitted that they had no idea something so serious was happening.  I guess I feel like I am proof that everyone is fighting a hard (and different) battle, but more importantly, the hard battle does not have to be life-long.

* * * * * * * * * *

To those who know something is not right with a loved one but don't know how to approach him/her, there is no "right" way.  Sorry to have to tell you this!  :)  My best advice is to:

+ address that person as an equal, without pity.
+ be attentive, and if you're really close with that person, be somewhat intuitive.
+ be honest but with tact.
+ keep ultimatums as a last resort.

To anyone with a dark cloud looming overhead who feels out of control, it will get better.  You have more power than you think.  
Accept help from others.  
Take a deep breath.  
Take the reins.
And then... 
Be kick-ass at life!

37 comments:

Whitney H said...

I just have one thing to say about this post: Thank you.

(Well, I have lots more but they are being delivered via text message. <3)

Gesci said...

Love you.
Love your strength.
Love your vulnerability (NOT to be confused with weakness).
Love your heart.
Love you.

Michelle said...

Wow. Lindsay, it is so, so, so good that you shared this! You have no idea who will benefit from it, and I applaud you for being so vulnerable and brave and committed to being positive.

Love you SO SO SO SO much!!!!!

Kate said...

This is a great post, Lindsay. Thank you for sharing this personal piece of your life with us! Like you said, this is a great reminder that everyone is fighting their own battles. Thanks for being such a positive force in blogworld! (and the real world, too :)

The Mrs. and The Momma said...

You're definitely an inspiration to all. How beautifully written and with an uplifting, but honest, attitude. Thanks!
-kristen

Empirically Erin said...

Lindsay, thank you so much for sharing this. It is so intimately personal, but at the same time so universal. I appreciate your honesty. I've thought often about writing about my anxiety, but have worried about sounding too whiny or too negative. You've written this in such a positive way, I hope I can do the same.

Tyler said...

I cried reading this post.. I've lost an aunt and close friend to suicide, and have a friend who's struggled with eating disorders in the past. I really appreciate your honesty with this post, and thank you for sharing it. And I so applaud your effort to make positive differences. You are awesome girl :)

Alana Christine said...

Wow, girl! Thank you so much for sharing! I already adored you, but I have even more respect for you now. You are amazing!

Meg Cady said...

Linds,
Im glad you decided to push publish. Thank you for giving advice for "helping/confronting" people. Your story is so powerful. Thank you for being you.

love you sweet friend!

Megan G. said...

Thank you for publishing this. I think a lot of people (including myself) use the blog as a way to share good experiences with people and rejoice in the happiness. It's hard to let people in to something so deep and personal; I'm really glad you did, though. I went through a lot of similar things -- lots of things which are still hard to talk about -- but it's comforting to know that we're not alone in our struggles. Thank you for being awesome! <3

Meg O. said...

What a powerful and moving post, Lindsay. It is a story that needs to be heard and I applaud you for sharing it with us. I've told you time and time again, you are an inspiration!

Jasmine said...

LOVE YOU!

You need to be a motivational speaker, fo realz. If reading your words can get me all emotional then I presume I would just be hysterical if you presented them in speech form.

Continue doing what you do and sharing what you share - a lot of people out here in the big wide world appreciate it :)

Xx

tara said...

thank you for writing this. seriously. you never know how many people this will touch. support and awareness are so important in leading others to get help and in removing the stigma related to mental illness. <3

deertale said...

What a genuine honest post! You are such a neat little lady and I love what you share with us on your blog! Your stories are so inspiring! Thank you!

Artista said...

What a beautiful post. I am touched.
xoxo Artee

KC said...

I have so much more respect and genuine love for you! You are amazing and I thank you for sharing this!! xoxox

Kristen Danielle said...

I think all of the comments above pretty much summed up my feelings about this post! You are so beautiful inside & out, girl. Glad you are an inspiration & rock for others.

xoxo

Kristen @ KV Confessions said...

You are so brave to share this. It just goes to show that positivity and attitude can make tremendous impact on one's life. I'm so proud of you girl!

Faison said...

You are such a beautiful and strong woman, and this post further expresses that. You are such an inspiration, and such an amazing person for sharing this! xoxo

Jessica @ Lovely Little Things said...

I can't even muster up words to put into a comment.
I am blown away, Lindz.

This post is one of the reasons why I look up to you and really do consider you my big sista! You are so strong, so beautiful, so talented.

Thanks for making us step back and evaluate our attitudes.

I love you to the mooooon!

Katie Lee said...

Oh my gosh thank you for sharing your story. I know it must have been hard to write, but It's so important to put out there. If you help just one person it is worth it.

Ellie said...

I had no idea at the time that this ever went on. You and I knew each other but we weren't really close yet. However, when I started recalling sophomore year stuff when reading this, I do vaguely remember you missing from choir for a while and people just saying that you had personal things going on that you were dealing with. I had no idea up until now.

Everyone has a story. It has good parts and bad parts, and most of the time it will surprise people how much we've all been through. This is another reiteration of that fact.

I love you! And I'm glad that you're still around (and weigh more than 90 lbs)

Kayla C said...

Lindsay, you are so brave for what you've been through, who you are today and for also having the courage to share your story. I really love TBS, but now a lot more, thank you for your honesty and encouragement!

xo

Miki {Becoming What I Always Was} said...

Incredibly story. Thank you for sharing, and being so honest.

Jenn said...

Thank you for sharing this with the blog world. I totally understand what you are saying that your story is not just your story but it is the story of everyone that was involved too. I feel the same way with the sexual assault that has happened in my past. All I can do is help people move on and make better decisions in the future.

Devon @ TheMermaidChronicles said...

This is such a beautifully honest post. I really enjoyed not just how this was written, but what you said. I'm sure you've inspired and comforted many. I'm very impressed by your strength! You are a beautiful person.

Annelise @ Aunie Sauce said...

yes. this is it. the post we've been waiting for. you are AMAZING. your journey, all the bumps - big and small - brought you to where you are today. i'm so happy to have you as a friend, a friend who know's what's up, and who lives each day to it's fullest. you say it best, "be kick-ass at life." YOU are amazing, Linds.

Allyson [Mimosas in the Morning] said...

What a wonderful thing to share. Your strength is so inspiring!

Lauren said...

girl, please. you are incredible. (and just convinced me to do a little soul-baring on my blog, too) keep being awesome, k?

Leanne @ Simply Beautiful said...

Always inspiring. Always uplifting. And always honest.

Lindsay, I'd say that you are doing a pretty darn good job at being kick-ass at life! I would have never guessed this about your story, but I can see how it has made you the person that you are today.

Once again, thank you for having the courage to be honest. Who knows how many people's lives you've touched today, just by simply sharing your story.

caitplusate.com said...

Thank you so much for sharing, darling. You sparkle just like a sapphire, so your blog's name is so appropriate and I'm so happy to have found it and you through Grow Soul Beautiful. To read this and know you have come out on the other side gives me hope! I have been at that 90 lbs before and though I'm not physically in a healthier place, mentally I'm still fighting those hateful thoughts each day and knowing women like you out there can relate to me and understand what I'm going through is really what gets me through this fight and journey. <3

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been struggling lately. This post came to me at the right time. Thank you Lindsay. You're an inspiration. I'm so sorry for the hard things you've gone through in your life. Thank you.

MindBodyandSoul Yoga said...

There is something about your smile that just fwlt so honest. Reading this made me realize that you live life trying to appreciate every moment. You are such a strong woman and I am so glad you have chosen to share your story. I'm so happy I even got to meet you last weekend, even if I DID have camera technicalities! ;)

Gaby said...

you are so brave & wonderful for sharing this xo

lesley: the dream tree said...

awesome post. we all have our own inner struggles and it's always nice to hear others' so we don't feel alone with ours. glad you were able to overcome it!

Kerry F. said...

Re-reading this again today and boy are you amazing! I think you may just be my hero...

Kerry F. said...

Re-reading this again today and boy are you amazing! I think you may just be my hero...