i am sad and i am angry

The US 2016 presidential election results are in, and I can’t even say the name of the winner because he and his actions disgust me so much. He’s managed to insult and threaten every marginalized group, making many, many people absolutely terrified for their safety today. Today and for the next four years. Among those groups is disabled people, although a group of people being treated terribly should be something you care about even if you are not a part of that group of people. 

So maybe you aren’t even severely mentally ill and poor like me, and you don’t have to worry about your benefits being cut, or your health services, housing, income, etc being taken away as a result. So you aren’t a Muslim woman having to refrain from wearing hijab for safety reasons. You in no way are negatively affected personally, maybe even those you love aren’t. You should still care, you should still feel empathy, because I like to think my readers aren’t, idk, fucking monsters. I don’t know. I’m so scared that so few people seem to feel empathy or care, that so many people are expressing such violent misogyny, and that that person and his running mate could ever possibly be in power, with a republican house and senate to back them up.
For the record, yes, I voted early, for Hillary Clinton.
I would love to direct those of you who will be affected, who are terrified and crying and angry and so many things (so many reactions are valid) to a suicide hotline list in case you need it, but while you should absolutely try if you think you need to, national hotlines have been busy since she lost and he won and we were handed four years of fear on a platter. You should still try but please don’t expect to necessarily get through to anyone right now. I’m so sorry, and I’m going to do my best to list other resources you can draw on after listing these currently unusable helplines:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
The Trevor Project (LGBT): 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
Okay. So maybe you don’t want to call a helpline, or maybe you tried one, or two, or three, and they were all busy. Okay. Deep Breaths. Here is a gif about breathing that might help with that:
source
Maybe you’re angry. I get that too. A personal favorite coping technique of mine when I have feelings of anger (usually directed inward in my case, although not this time for once) is to play a song that helps me get some of my emotion out and maybe even sing along, really loud.
For this presidency, I think that the Dixie Chicks’ Not Ready to Make Nice is pretty appropriate (or find something you like better, if that’s not your jam!)
So what have I got to recommend besides deep breathing, music and hotlines that may or may not work? WELL, ladies and gentlemen and non binary people also wearing formal wear for some reason, here’s a list! I may add to it over time:
  • Got extra money burning a hole in your pocket/sitting around? Help out with the situation we’re in for a tangible feeling of having done something good. Of course, you can do this for free in many ways, by helping others, and volunteering, for example, but what I’m talking about is donating money to a charity that will probably really be needing it soon thanks to our future president – such as Planned Parenthood, NAMI, or Radical Monarchs. There are many more, and I hope to blog with a longer list included soon.
  • Learn how to fold a paper crane.
  • Spend time with your pet if you have one, cuddling or playing with it.
  • Take a bath, keep sharp objects away if that’s an issue, and use some relaxing essential oils or a bath bomb to help de-stress and indulge in some physical and mental self care.
  • Take a hot or cold shower, even if it’s quick.
  • Brew a cup of caffeine-free tea. The caffeine could increase anxiety so I’d recommend avoiding that, but the warm beverage itself can be very soothing.
  • Look into volunteering somewhere local. You’ll be benefiting your community and also have a reason to feel good about something in this world – the hard work you’re putting into making it better!
  • Write. Journal, write poetry, or blog. There are other options too. Express the emotions you’re feeling. They are valid.
  • Coloring books are extremely soothing, even if you haven’t heard of the adult coloring books trend and it sounds silly to you. The simple act requires some concentration but not enough to make it difficult, and you may find it very helpful in coping with negative feelings or anxiety.
  • Put your hands in cold ice, or hold ice tight for a minute. The bearable pain from the cold is especially good if you are struggling with a dissociative disorder or strong sadness.
  • Reach out to those you love. Let them know you care. Send an email with cute animal pictures to your favorite people, or call someone who matters a lot. Talk, make sure they’re okay, make sure you’re okay.
  • Deal with anxiety preemptively if you need birth control but need it covered by insurance to afford it by looking into longer term options, since we may have access to birth control restricted in the next four years. Implants that go in your arm can be effective for up to four years, and IUDs can be effective for up to 12!
  • Paint your nails, do your makeup, or use a face mask, if you enjoy that sort of thing. It may not help much, but you’d be surprised how soothing these acts can be for many people.
  • Look into local community events coming up protesting the election results, and other similar events. I don’t think anything can be done about the situation, but you’ll meet like-minded people who may help you cope with your frustrations and fears.
Okay. That’s all I’ve got for now. Feel free to share suggestions for coping or helping things be better in the comments. I’m emotionally drained and still crying more often than not. 
Stay strong.

putting vodka in your coffee for your ptsd

Three truths.

One: I started drinking vodka in my coffee at 1pm today.
Two: I tweeted at least five times in a row on my private twitter about very personal, sad things and am probably going to lose some followers on that account.
Three: I watched most of Jessica Jones episode one (give me a break RE: not finishing an episode, I can’t watch long things easily), cried at her PTSD scenes, and noted to get something to memorize and list when things get bad in my head.
It’s a technique I’ve seen used before, but only when I saw a tumblr post quoting Hick by Andrea Portes, which I have not read in full, but that section which I saw and read made me cry. Me crying is a regular and frequent thing, but also not insignificant.
I feel like I’m going to vomit. The lines between my PTSD and BPD and myriad of other super fun (sarcasm) diagnoses is a blurry mess but here I am, surviving and writing about it, and how I cope with it. Hopefully this helps someone, whether it be with coping or with feeling less alone in their struggles.
Alcohol, and other substances are one way, but I’m certainly not going to advocate for them as a means of coping with PTSD. They’re really just an escape in that sense, no good in the long run and not healing at all, no matter what some cute stoner bro with long hair says to you about certain psychedelics…they aren’t my area of expertise, but I find one thing that really helps (I’ll go over this again later) is staying present. Not easy with PTSD! It makes such a difference though, especially if you are prone to dissociation (like I am.) Substances are nice, like I confessed above I drank vodka in my coffee because I just didn’t know what else to do, but that doesn’t mean I want to endorse it. It’s definitely not one of my healthier habits, or even one I utilize frequently (also– be careful mixing alcohol and certain medications. Just be careful, okay?)
So here is how I do cope, listed neat, concise and tidy as I am capable of for those who don’t want to read my rambling above from that time (today) that I wrote and almost certainly posted this piece without editing it beforehand, because that feels ??? right now:
  1. I just mentioned this, but it is so important. Stay present. Be mindful. However you wanna phrase it, this is free, and it’s some good stuff – meaning it will most likely be very helpful for you if you have PTSD or BPD. Practice focusing on something and only that something for a bit of time every day. It doesn’t have to be yoga or meditation, although I’m looking into both since I’ve heard they’re so helpful to many and I want to write about them (and help myself get better of course!) You can also learn how to do this in DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), which is offered through many service providers as a group therapy or in other forms, and worst case scenario, there are books and workbooks that I use and find helpful that are good for mindfulness, like this one.
  2. Trauma dreams are a thing. High quality essential oils can be very helpful, especially lavender. I like using lavender oil in a diluted dose on my pillow to help ward off nightmares – currently specifically this lavender and chamomile pillow spray with essential oils to help soothe and calm me at night, and to avoid unnecessary trauma nightmares. I am looking into purchasing a therapeutic grade essential oil set with lavender and also a humidifier/oil diffuser to help relax me during the day with water and a few drops of lavender oil or other oil blends, too – updates on those techniques coming because I haven’t tried them yet.
  3. Eating sour candy or spicy food to help with dissociation. Remember to focus on the flavor, even if it’s unpleasant, and to ground yourself with the sensation of the flavor and its intensity.
  4. Journaling and writing things down. Get yourself a nice journal and writing utensil that you’re hopefully even excited to use but at least feel good about using, and write regularly about your life to help keep track of things. I write down everything I absolutely need to remember, because if I do not, I will definitely forget it. Journaling is helpful with dissociation and feeling like you haven’t done nothing over long periods of time – look back at everything you will have written in the future! I blog, too, you can even try that….I hear it’s pretty cool.
  5. This is similar to the above coping technique, but taking pictures of things that are part of your life – and they don’t have to be fancy dslr ones like mine, they can be phone pictures – helps me to stay present and focused on a task, and most importantly, to remember what things I did and when. I don’t do this every day, but whenever I do, I find it so helpful.
Hopefully that short list with some (but not all) of PTSD coping techniques will help someone out there, even to feel less alone.
xoxo
Z

smartphone apps & computer software for coping

Hello!
I know it has been a while since I’ve blogged here, especially regularly – my mental and especially physical health has been pretty terrible for a while, and on top of that I am getting ready to move into a new apartment in mid September. I’ll totally do my best to update you guys on all kinds of things going on in my life in another post soon, but for now, I really want to share some resources with you, specifically some of the apps, and software I have found to be very helpful in coping with my mental illness. Some of these programs and apps have adds, but none of them are extremely intrusive or stressful advertisements in my experience.
Many of these apps and programs are free, and the ones that aren’t are low-cost! I’ve suggested free and low-cost apps/software both because I don’t have the extra money to spend on expensive software and also because a lot of mentally ill people (and people in general!) don’t either. I think that the majority of these could be helpful to neurotypical people as well, especially if they struggle with stress or insomnia, for example. I’m very excited to share these with you since any tools to help someone cope can make a huge difference in their life!
I will note that while some of these may be helpful to mental health professionals, this post is aimed at people who are struggling themselves. I also want to mention that not a single one of these companies/programs/etc has sponsored me, and everything I write here is my own honest opinion. Some of these apps are for iphones only and not on android and so unfortunately won’t be accessible to everyone, even everyone with a smartphone. There are also some browser extensions that are very useful, but since I don’t currently use any of them I don’t want to recommend them here, yet. I will, however, mention that if you have difficulty with viewing gifs or autoplay music/audio while browsing the internet, there are multiple extensions to help with both of those – extensions to not allow any music to autoplay, and extensions to stop gifs from displaying and/or animating.
I’ll start with the software section, because so far I’ve only found one program that is helpful to me, but it is pretty great – so I’ll cover it quickly and move on to the apps and extensions after! This might be kind of a long post in general, since I want to share many things that could be helpful for all kinds of problems neuroatypical people have.
SOFTWARE:
  1. Optimism – this is available as a program for windows and mac, an internet extension, and as an app! You can sync your account between these devices if you use more than one, and it’s also totally free. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty exciting. Optimism allows you to track your mood, exercise, and sleep, catch your symptoms worsening early on, and create a “wellness plan” which can remind you what is helpful to you when you are too distressed to think clearly. Here is their website.
APPS:
  1. Mango Health – this is my favorite app for tracking when I’m taking or missing doses of my meds, and for helping to remind me to take my meds. Sure, I have a billion and twelve alarms set on my phone (and other devices!) to ensure I don’t forget doses of my by now multitude of medications, but this app doesn’t just remind you to take your meds. It sends you a second reminder if you don’t let it know that you took them, it allows you to log which meds you are taking (and have taken in the past), it gives helpful tips, and it has a feature to allow you to show your prescriber your history of which med doses you’ve taken and which you’ve missed.  It can also warn you about possible negative interactions between different medications that you’re taking. Honestly, I don’t even use every feature on this app, because there are so many, and yet it’s very easy to use.
  2. Reach Out – this is an app that I installed recently that gives you easy access to a list of helplines and other people you can contact when in crisis. You can add phone numbers for people or organizations you may need to call when in crisis. It also features some short videos that are reassuring.
  3. Colorfy – I use this app to help soothe my anxiety when it isn’t super severe, but I can feel it getting worse and I want to use a discreet coping technique on the go to help calm myself down. It is basically a digital coloring book. There are a lot of different “coloring pages”, divided into categories for you to choose from, and you can color the little spaces in the pictures by clicking on them, and choose colors to fill them in with (there are a lot of color choices, too, and you can purchase more color choices within the app) I find this to be a great and distracting app that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy to utilize.
  4. DeepCalm –  I love apps that make a rain sound, ocean sound, or other soothing sound (sometimes even several at once, depending on the app!) to help me calm down and/or sleep. This app is one of my favorites that falls under that category.
  5. Balanced – this app is great because it reminds you to do five activities of your choosing (or more if you spend $3.99 on upgrading the app to get more) regularly with notifications. I personally have chosen activities that I find therapeutic or helpful for my mental health in order to keep my mindset as positive as possible.
  6. Stop, Breathe & Think – This app is fantastic for anxiety, since it helps you to breathe and especially to meditate. It allows you to select a mood from a fairly extensive list, among other factors such as your physical wellness, and then automatically selects several guided meditations for you to choose from (or to choose to ignore and do something else instead if none of them appeal to you at that time), or you can choose from their entire list of guided meditations to use.
  7. Good Habit Maker –  this app reminds you multiple times per day (you get to choose how many times) of a statement of your choosing. I have mine set to remind me to hydrate and drink a glass of water, but it would also be very useful for other tasks you need reminders for, such as taking meds or stretching.
  8. Infinite Storm – this is another app that I use to make calming sounds that help me relax, de-stress, or get to sleep. You can also play music on your device at the same time as the relaxing sounds, if that helps you.
  9. Pacifica – this is an app that lets you focus on your mood, or your anxiety, and track your health habits and mood. My favorite thing about this app, though, is that you get to choose a daily activity that makes you feel better – such as going outdoors at least once a day, or spending time with a pet or pets. It also includes some unconventional things you can track, such as caffeine, alcohol and cannabis usage.
  10. SleepySounds – another app to create soothing sounds to help you relax (there are many of these apps, including many I don’t even know about!) that also allows you to play your own music on your device. This app is especially helpful for getting to sleep, as suggested by its name.
  11. Grid Diary – this app was recommended to me by my lovely friend Farrah, who also has a blog, and it is currently one of my very favorite apps. It allows you to choose questions, either preset questions or questions that you write yourself, and answer them each day. You can also track your mood from a limited list of mood options, and the weather that day. Then, you get to look back on each day you’ve written in your grid diary for, which I think is so darn neat! I paid $4.99 for extra features within the app such as being able to add pictures to your question answers, although it’s a great app even if you only use the free version.
  12. Bellybio – (EPILEPSY SEIZURE WARNING for the website) this is an app that is great if you have difficulty with deep breathing from your belly but do still find it helpful. In order to utilize it you recline in a chair and place your phone above your pelvis on your lower stomach area. It tracks your breathing physically, while also providing information about your breathing, and can help to guide your deep breathing with colors and sounds, letting you know how you’re doing and when to inhale and exhale.
I also want to mention that if you’re on any medications (psychiatric or otherwise) then your pharmacy likely has an app of its own that you can use to refill prescriptions and check on the refill dates. Since different people use different pharmacies I won’t link to any of them – but search your pharmacy on the app store on your phone (for example “CVS” if you use CVS pharmacy like I do) and it should be easy to find, unless you use a small local pharmacy. I know that this is very helpful for me since going out in public and talking to people is difficult for me with my anxiety, and this reduces how much I have to do that.
That’s all for today – but I’m hoping to update again soon – I love blogging for you guys!
xoxo,
Zelie

how to cover self harm scars with makeup

Hi!

I’m back with a new post today – and I think it’s an important one. I’ll be explaining how to cover self harm scars effectively with makeup, but to do so in the most helpful and simple way possible I’m going to include pictures of the covering process. That means I am going to slap a big ol’ TRIGGER WARNING for self harm/self injury on this post, because my legs, especially pre-makeup, have obvious self harm scars. They are scars, not cuts, all at least 6 months old, and they are not nearly as bad as some self harm scars I’ve seen in my day – but still, if you think that seeing images like that might upset you, please stop reading now. I don’t want to upset or trigger anyone.

To add some content below my trigger warning I’ll include a silly selfie with me wearing black lipstick that I took tonight – I don’t want triggering pictures near the very top of this post/the page, because then someone might see the images before they see or read my trigger warning and leave. Plus you all know how I love to show off a cute selfie and promote self love. The lipstick is Black Knight by MAC.

yes, I’m making a silly face! Why am I doing that with my mouth? Who knows.

Sometime you may need to cover self harm scars, for instance you might potentially want to for a job interview, if you have self harm scars. If you’ve got this problem, fear not, I can help you! This is the most effective method I’ve found, and I’ve tried several methods of covering scars (including photoshop, haha!) If you are reading this and you haven’t self harmed yet, but you are planning on it and want to know how to cover the cuts after, PLEASE don’t. Just… please don’t. Call a crisis line, talk to someone you trust, try using temporary tattoos instead or using another coping technique (there are even more on google!).

Also, hopefully by now anybody who could be triggered by self harm scars has left… so let’s get right to the how-to process!

I’ll be covering one of my most visible scars to demonstrate for this post. I want to note that, unless you use all waterproof products (which I didn’t – and don’t worry, there’s a list of what you’ll need below), this probably won’t survive swimming, rain, heavy sweating or other things that tend to make makeup rub or wear off. This is very long-wearing, but it isn’t waterproof (or magical).

Here’s a picture of my leg with the scar I’ll be covering, with no makeup on it whatsoever:

the arrow points to the scar I’ll be covering up with makeup

Not so pretty, right? I imagine you can totally understand why sometimes I’d want to cover that scar (and other scars).

Here’s a list of What You’ll Need for this (I haven’t been sponsored by any of the brands I mention, but you can substitute a similar but different product for any of these, there are many out there):

  1. a heavy coverage creamy concealer in your skin tone (tip: try to not only match the shade, but also the tone to your skin – you either have warm, neutral or cool toned skin, and a matching concealer will look more natural) such as this Physician’s Formula concealer
  2. a powder foundation in your skin tone – either pressed or loose powder is okay – two pressed powders that I like are this Lorac powder or this L’Oreal powder
  3. a setting brush – I like the Real Techniques setting brush, but any similar brush will do. In a pinch, a powder brush/kabuki brush/sponge works too, but a setting brush will add more coverage and help the makeup last longer.
  4. (optional) a face/skin primer – this isn’t necessary and I didn’t use one for this tutorial, but if you want then you could apply a primer to clean skin where you want the scars covered before you start using the other products. If you do use primer, make sure you don’t use one with shimmer!

as you can see, I’ve hit pan on this powder from using it so much – it’s also a great face powder 🙂
First I made sure your skin is clean and dry. Next, if you’re using a primer you’d apply your primer over the scar. I didn’t use a primer, so onto the next step – take the heavy coverage creamy concealer:
I applied the concealer to the area I wanted to cover (that one bad scar). This particular concealer that I used by Physician’s Formula is so heavy coverage that a little really goes a long way. I still apply it somewhat generously for such a heavy coverage concealer, though, to ensure that I really cover the scar(s) as much as possible when I do this.
here you can see some concealer next to the scar I’ll be covering…
…and here I’ve used my index finger to spread it over the scar and surrounding skin to fully cover it.
Now the scar is fully covered, but it doesn’t really look like skin (yet!) it looks like makeup over my skin. That’s where blending the edges comes in – but be careful, I made sure to blend the edges by tapping/patting with my finger instead of rubbing it or using another harsh motion that would remove some of the product from my skin! By gently tapping it outwards and blending carefully, I get the most natural effect and also didn’t lose any coverage from rubbing off the concealer. I even made a gif to show you the tapping motion I used, although you want to do it repeatedly in different spots, not forever in one spot like this gif will loop and show you 😉
I use the pad part of my finger, not the very tips of my fingers
After I spent a small amount of time blending out all the edges of the concealer, it looked like this:
It almost blends in with my skin already, but I wasn’t quite done yet! Without the final step, the concealer will wear off much more easily throughout the day, and it isn’t quite as covered as I like it to be. Also, if you use a different concealer if/when you do this, depending on the concealer you might want a more natural (less shiny) finish over your skin. 
So, then I used a powder foundation (just a translucent powder work to would set it but would not add more coverage like a foundation would) and a setting brush to apply it.
I pushed the brush’s fibers into the powder foundation to pick up a good amount of powder onto the brush. A good setting brush should be able to hold quite a lot of powder, and I don’t worry about using too much powder – excess powder can be brushed off/away after.
My setting brush ended up looking like this:
Then I patted on the powder over the area I applied concealer to with the brush. If you are doing this and you are covering a large area, you may need to get more powder on the brush one or two times to set the whole area. Once I have powdered the whole area, I brushed over the area (it’s fine to do this with the same setting brush) to remove any excess powder. It ended up looking like this (remember, I was only covering one scar, so no comments on the others, please):
a vast improvement for that particular scar!
Especially if your scars are big, dark or raised, it’ll be harder to effectively cover them, but I’ve found that this method does an excellent job of a very difficult task.
Below is a zoomed out picture of my thigh after this process, with and without arrows pointing to the area where I covered a scar with makeup to show you how it’s even less noticeable from a small distance!
Hopefully this was helpful to you! Thanks for reading 🙂
xoxo,
Zelie

update and medication management strategies!

Hi!

Guess who’s back?!?? Haha, not really completely back. I don’t think I’ll be blogging – regularly, at least – for a little while. I’m not coping well. More on that later (in another post), probably.

I did feel I owed it to you guys to check in and update you. It’s been… a long time. Updating this blog crossed my mind a lot, and I even sat down and tried to write updates a couple of times, but they were just way too bleak and depressing to publish. I know a lot of my readers are mentally ill, and I don’t wanna be posting if all I can say is “hey, everything sucks right now and I want to stop hurting” basically.

I mean, I’m still in that place. However, I did manage to start taking my meds regularly! This still isn’t helping with the depression enough to allow me to function properly, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I really, really struggle with taking my meds, and I have for years. For almost a month now, I’ve been taking my meds daily without accidentally skipping any doses (okay, I missed ONE day, but that’s really good compared to how it was). I wanted to share my strategies that I’ve been using to help me remember with you.

One thing is that one friend made me put up a sign on my bathroom wall that says “TAKE YOUR MEDS” and a reminder that he wants me to, so I see that sign several times a day and I’m reminded every time that he wants me to take them, as well.

I think, though, that the two things that have helped the most are not that sign. They are an app designed to help you remember to take your meds, and… a piece of paper with stickers on it. I’ll explain, don’t worry.

The app I’ve found most helpful so far (and I’ve tried several of the free medication management apps available for iphones) is Mango Health. It has totally helped me a huge amount, honestly. You tell it what meds you’re on and when you have to take them, and it sends you reminders, and follow-up reminders. It has other features too, but those are what I find most helpful!

The other thing I’ve been doing is using a piece of paper my therapist made up for me (that would be simple to recreate, especially with a computer, but could be done even with a ruler and pencil) to mark down which days I take my meds. There’s a space for each day, and every day I take them, The idea is that you fill up the month’s worth of boxes with stickers because you’ve successfully taken your meds each day (or maybe you haven’t, but you’re trying to!), and then when you get a whole month of taking your meds every day (or almost every day, as my therapist and I agreed, if you prefer or feel like every day is unrealistic for you right now) you reward yourself. Depending on what you can afford, you could buy a candy bar, or something you’ve been wanting. My therapist and I talked about it, and on a pretty low income like mine, I can afford to spend about $5 every month on a treat if I manage to take them almost every day. I’ll probably get a nail polish or something similarly cheap but cute. Something I’ll enjoy but that won’t break the bank! The idea is to combine positive reinforcement with a visual representation of when you’ve taken your meds so far so that you can keep track.

I like using cute star stickers on my chart 🙂

A final tip I’ll share is something I’ve found isn’t enough (for me, at least) on its own but that does help a little, which is using a weekly pill organizer to sort your meds. If, like me, you often forget whether you’ve taken your meds yet that day, this will help you remember, because if there are no meds in today’s pill organizer section, that means you’ve already taken them (go you!). This is great because with most medications it isn’t safe to take them twice in a short time, but it also helps prevent the missed doses from if you didn’t take them yet. Without a pill organizer, I skip a dose if I’m not sure, just to be safe – but this way, I know for sure.

Okay. Hopefully you’re doing okay, and hopefully I start doing better soon. Taking my meds isn’t making a huge difference for me yet but I’m really working hard at getting better. I’ll try to update again soon – but you know what’s going on if I don’t. I promise I’ll update again eventually, at least.

xoxo
Zelie