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I know that a relapse is hard, no matter the circumstances. I know that no one wants to take steps backward or feel the way they felt in their darkest times. But when you add the stress of relapse onto being a mental health person and drug addict who constantly talks about how great recovery is, it becomes really, really hard.

It’s no secret that I like to share how far I’ve come in my battle with mental health and addiction, I am probably a little too open about it. But I still have bipolar disorder and I’m still labeled as an addict. I still have a significant mental illness that will always have recurrent episodes. And sometimes being such an ambivert makes that extremely hard to admit.

This means that when I struggle, my go-to coping skill is pretending I’m not. For those familiar with DBT practices, I’m well-known for abusing “opposite to emotion” by not validating, or even acknowledging, when I’m symptomatic. Because it’s hard. I know I’m a light to those around me who also struggle. I give lectures every day about how I’ve overcome the darkest parts of myself and found brightness in the world – and I mean what I say.

And I’m like that even in psych wards. In my near-yearly tune ups, I find myself going in, preaching about my insight and recovery tips with other people, while knowing I don’t want to be alive. Even so, I can’t stop myself from wanting to spread the word about how mental illnesses and addiction recovery can get better – people can be functional after a psych ward. Life will not always be dreary.

Except, since I’m bipolar, some days will be dreary. Some days will always, always be dreary – it simply comes with the territory of having a severe mental illness. But it’s still really hard to admit that without feeling like I’m losing my identity as a mental health and recovered addict. Rationally, I know my diagnosis will always be symptomatic at one point or another, but socially, I can’t bring myself to speak up about that

But some days, it’s hard. Because I still see the world as a beautiful place, but it’s also a place I don’t want to live in anymore. Except, when that happens, due to being this beacon of light, I don’t know how to communicate that with those around me. I struggle with reaching out to my support system, because I’m supposed to be the happy one now. I’m supposed to be the recovered one.

In my mind, it feels like if I admit I’m struggling, I’m invalidating every sunny text I send out about how mental health and being sober/clean can improve when someone puts in the self-work. It feels like I’m suddenly a fraud. And in those times, I really worry other people will see me as less credible when I speak out about recovery again. So, because of all that, when I do struggle, it feels like I lose my whole identity in the process.

Because nowadays, I don’t post about how depressing life is. I post about how far I’ve come. I don’t dwell on hard times with friends. I talk about how those hard times will soon be replaced with better days. I don’t focus on negativity, because my brain is no longer wired to be negative all the time.

But what about when life is depressing? What about when I don’t know if I can wait to see better days? What about when I’m lying on my bedroom floor in the middle of a panic attack, because I feel physically unable to do anything but sob? How do I admit I have times like that when I view myself as this guiding hope and inspiration to those around me?

I don’t. I don’t know how to admit it, so I don’t. It’s something I struggle with every time I hit a low point. Because I’m not the sick girl anymore… but then again, I’ll never be the fully recovered girl either. So, what do I do with that?

Honestly, I’m still not really sure. Maybe I’ll figure out a good balance one day, but for now, I’m simply unsure. I just know it’s something I need to work on, and that’s all I can do.

So, if you know the secret – if you know how to be able to admit that you’re having a hard time – please, let me know. That’s a lesson I haven’t quite grasped yet, but I really do want to learn. I just don’t know how.

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A Girl And Her Insecurities.

Every morning, you probably stare in the mirror longer than you should, worried something about your makeup isn’t right, worried a hair is out of place, worried you’re going to make a fool of yourself if you step out of the house looking like you do.

You probably do the same thing with social media. Before you post a picture, you probably examine every inch of your body, on the search for flaws. But no one else is going to sit there and stare at your photo for as long as you have (unless they like you and are thinking about how adorable you look).

Either way, no one else is judging you as much as you’re judging yourself. No one is thinking the same harsh things you think about yourself. The rest of the world sees you differently than you see yourself. You’re not wearing the same set of lenses.

Even though you might feel like the rest of the world is looking down on you, your insecurities are the loudest in your own mind. The worst possible thing anyone could say about you has already been said by the voice in the back of your head. In a way, that’s a good thing, because it means no one else is judging you as harshly as you think they are.

Even though it’s much harder to be kind to the person in the mirror than it is to be kind to others, you want to start learning how to treat yourself with love and compassion, with admiration and respect. You want to start treating yourself the way you treat your loved ones.

No, you’re not perfect — but no one is perfect. Everyone, even the person you consider the most beautiful woman in the world, has things they’re insecure about. You’re perfectly normal for feeling self-conscious. You’re allowed to be uncomfortable with certain aspects of yourself. But you shouldn’t let that discomfort turn into self-hatred. You shouldn’t punish yourself for being yourself.

You’re more beautiful than you believe, on the inside and the outside. It might take you a while to see that, but you’re going to get there as long as you put in the effort.

Stop assuming everyone is judging you. Stop assuming everyone is thinking the absolute worst about you. Even more importantly, stop thinking the worst about yourself. Stop treating yourself like a punching bag. Stop acting like you have nothing to offer this world. Stop doubting yourself. Stop selling yourself short. Stop practicing self-hatred when you should be practicing self-love.

Your insecurities aren’t as noticeable as you think. Even if someone else sees the same ‘flaw’ you see, they aren’t going to dwell on it. It’s not going to make a difference in their life. They aren’t going to give a shit.

However, in some ways, it’s also a horrible thing. You don’t want to play the role of your own worst enemy. You don’t want to hate yourself over a few tiny flaws when there are a million different things to love about yourself.

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It’s amazing how small someone else can make you feel. One day, you’re on top of the world, and the next, you are lower than rock bottom. There are some days when you can’t even tell yourself apart from the rock, and you wonder how it ever could have gotten so bad. You wonder what you have been doing wrong to constantly be pushed away by everyone you think you might actually have a chance with. You wonder when exactly you became so unlovable.

You are not unlovable. But you are not invincible either. You are human. And the beautiful part about being human is our ability to make so many mistakes and then learn how to grow from them.

So maybe you took a chance on them, and ultimately, it didn’t work out. Maybe it not only didn’t work out, it crashed and burned and turned your entire world upside down. No matter how deep the hurt or intense the wound, you can always come back from it. You still are not unlovable. You could crash and burn and be wrong one million times and then one million more and that still wouldn’t make you unlovable. You just haven’t met your person yet.

Maybe your path has a few more twists than your best friend’s, and that is okay. Maybe you have taken a little longer to find your soulmate, but that does not mean they aren’t out there. Because if they are truly your soulmate, then they are also out there feeling this way too. Your life is not a checklist waiting for you to complete it before you can find true happiness. All you ever needed to be happy was you. Maybe you are your missing piece. Maybe right now you are the only love you need in your life.

I know it hurts to spend another Friday night alone. I know you are sitting there, waiting for a call or a text that might never come through. I know you’re just wishing that life would get better. And I know that you think it would be if only you weren’t so alone. But let me tell you something.

We live in a world where we are constantly barraged with imagery of how perfectly everyone else’s lives are going. It can become so easy to become lost in a world that isn’t even real. Life isn’t a competition, and finding love isn’t either. Some people meet their soulmates early on in their lives because that is what the universe has deemed necessary for them in that exact moment. Others may take years or decades or however long it takes to find this love, but this doesn’t make them any less than their peers. We are all on our own path in this life, and we each reach our major milestones differently. Just because you didn’t fall in love at 15 or get married by the time you’re 30 or have kids before you’re 40 doesn’t mean you are failing. You just haven’t gotten to that milestone in your life yet.

You can be madly in love and still feel alone on a Friday night. You can be in a committed relationship and still anxiously wait by your phone for words you may never actually get to hear. Being in love won’t flip a switch in your life and make everything better. You won’t wake up to all of your problems solved, and you won’t be the person you always wanted to be just because you have someone beside you in your bed at night. Someone else’s love is not the cure to a life you aren’t happy with. Your own love is.

Next time you are feeling unlovable, remember this. Within you, you have always had all of the love you ever needed, you just have to convince yourself that you deserve it. If someone else is so deserving of your love, aren’t you?

Take the time to love yourself, and trust that the love you have been after will find you when it is meant to.

Please don’t give up on love.

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To My Best Friend In The Sky.

To my best friend in the sky, I’ve been meaning to write this for such a long time. You see, writing this would have meant coming to terms with a lot, including the fact that you’re no longer here. Accepting that these words are the closest I’ll ever get to communicate with you for now. And that is hard because your presence greatly impacted the lives of those you touched, and I know you were too selfless to even realize.

I often wish I could have you back for one day. Just one day. To thank you. To share my appreciation and gratitude for all that you did and taught me. For the ideas and ways of being you instilled in me. To relive every single moment I took for granted, assuming you’d always be around. To tell you of all that has happened since you passed. My heart aches for just one more day.

I know that all you’d want for me and everybody else is to rejoice in the good times and remember you for the unique character you were. But you see, sometimes it’s just too heart-wrenching. I feel sad that you aren’t here for me to seek advice from or laugh heartily at my humor that isn’t all that funny. I feel sad that you aren’t here to relay stories from your past or converse effortlessly with me. Sometimes, I feel a little lost without you around, for the gaping hole that’s left can never be filled.

Other times, I just long for a great big hug. After a long day or simply because. Sometimes I feel happy. I feel happy that you were a part of my life. That I shared such fond memories with you that I’ll forever cherish. I cry from laughing so hard as I relay all the incredible times shared with you. Because although you were taken way too soon, I was the luckiest person to have had you alongside me for a period of my life.

It seems that in any given conversation, I can subconsciously make you a part of it, whether I speak like you’re still around and tell those who will listen of the times you can no longer tell or inform those listening of the random information you’re no longer able to pass on.

Although you may be gone, it seems you’ll never leave my side. As the years go by and I grow older, I miss you more than you’ll ever know. I find comfort in knowing that somewhere, you are still with me. I think of you each day. Whether it’s the way somebody’s haircut mimics yours or an interesting fact I long to share with you, you are always in the back of my mind.

I’m almost certain that you’re somewhere above watching me down here. Watching me live my life, make mistakes, and learn from them. I live each day trying my hardest to make you proud because I know you can see me. And I know that whatever I do, you will always be there watching me with such pride. If not, you’re probably puttering about and chatting away to somebody easily attracted to your pleasant and warm demeanor.

You may be physically gone, but in our hearts, you’ll forever stay. To my best friend in the sky, not a day goes by without a thought of you.

For my Nanny!
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To The People Who Love The Real Me.

To the outside world, I look like I have my shit together. However, I really come with a clouded history filled with entirely too much pain. After countless rejections and abandonments, I learned to put on a mask and build strong, defensive walls. Although many people prefer the phony, happy facade, there are a few amazing souls who know and love me just the way I am.

So to the people who see the real me, thank you for accepting the entire package. Thank you for embracing the hot mess that I am without ever shutting me out. It doesn’t matter that I come with lots of bruises, scrapes, and scars; you embrace them all. You take me entirely as I am without question or hesitation, both on the good days and the bad.

Sometimes I feel like a walking diagnosis, or a version of the plague. I do some pretty outrageous things in the moments when I’m feeling dark and twisty. I often feel less than lovable, and my behaviors frequently become too much to bear. Yet those who truly love me find ways to help me walk the middle path without making me feel like a total ass.

So to the people who love the real me, thank you for holding on despite my many flaws. Thank you for reminding me of my better qualities instead of harping on every single imperfection. It doesn’t matter what ridiculous stuff I do; you willingly grant those second chances I truly don’t deserve. You love me unconditionally without even a moment’s hesitation because you see the brightness when all I see is black.

I know I make daily errors in nearly every part of life. I frequently need subtle reminders to keep myself in line, and it’s embarrassing to say the least. And although admitting my mistakes feels vulnerable and downright scary, I know that the people who truly love me will forgive my transgressions in the end.

So the people who admire the real me, thank you for calling me out on my shit. Thank you for being brutally honest even when it hurts. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; I know you’re in this for the long haul. You remind me what I’m working towards, and you challenge me to be my best. Even when I stumble or make a terrible mistake, you’ll catch me and provide a much-needed swift kick in the pants.

So to the people who love the real me: thank you. I will forever shower you with gratitude and love you with every beat of my heart. As long as we have each other, we’re never really apart. I’ll never take you for granted and I’ll never let you go. Because for you to not only see the real me, but embrace her too? That’s something worth cherishing for the rest of my days for sure.

I never thought I’d find a place where I could freely show my true self. Yet somehow along my journey, I’ve found all of that and more. For the first time in forever, I feel like I’m part of a tribe who not only sees me for who I really am, but embraces it in every way. I don’t know how I made it all these years without each of you, but now that I have you, I never want to walk alone again.

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I used to keep a journal and I was going thru my filing cabinet and found it. I’m glad I did bc I wrote something about happiness…something I been struggling with for quite some time. I give great advice but I never take my own. And I like to write my feelings since I have a hard time expressing them. And here’s what I wrote:

Happiness…we are so worried about finding it, that we often miss out on our own happiness altogether. Maybe happiness isn’t this esoteric, mysterious, rarity. Maybe it is more common than we think. Maybe happiness isn’t about pure bliss, but more about magical moments all lined up in a row. It’s the smell before rain. It’s your favorite sweater. It’s laughing so hard your stomach hurts. It’s reconnecting with an old friend. It’s starry nights, clear skies, and your favorite food. It’s good books and good company. It’s living with no regrets and enjoying happiness as you are in it. The reality is, happiness will never be something you find…it will be something you create, something that you become, something that you are. Happiness isn’t something that you chase…it is a state of being. You hold the key to your own happiness…all you have to do is unlock it.

Carla Williams 03/15/2008

Rainbow and happiness. Happy woman jumping at sunset near the rainbow

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Dear You.

Dear You,

Perhaps you don’t have a name in this text, but if you find yourself to be one of those girl who just can’t stop blaming herself for all the wrongs she went through in her life, then this letter is for you. And you need to read it. You need to read it because there are some things I need to tell you since you obviously aren’t willing to accept them on your own.

So, you still lay awake at night and wonder what is it that you do wrong? What is it that you do that makes other people hurt you or walk away from, as if you mean nothing to them? Why can’t you make them stay? You still wonder how come out of all people in your life, you’re the only one that is never good enough?

I need you to stop doing this to yourself. I need you to stop being so mean to yourself and I need you to stop blaming yourself for everything you’ve been through. Life is full of ups and downs and shit happens to everyone, but what determines you is how you deal with it. And frankly speaking, you should stop beating yourself up for the things you couldn’t and can’t change.

It’s not true that you could’ve done things differently. It’s not true that you could’ve been a better person or that you should’ve sacrificed yourself more. You already gave your best to others and they took it for granted. They used your kindness when they needed it and once they healed, they left you. But leaving is something that runs through their veins and nothing you did was going to make them stay. They didn’t enter your life to stay forever; they came because God sent them to teach you a lesson. It’s time for you to understand what that lesson was.

Okay, friends that should’ve stuck around left. The guy who should’ve seen you and should’ve stayed, didn’t. Someone told you how you’re not good enough. You can’t reach the expectations others have for you. So what? None of this means that something is wrong with you. It’s just that you had that bad luck to meet too many toxic people in your life. But there isn’t anything wrong with you. And you need to stick this in your head once and forever.

I pray you quit overthinking, replaying failed scenarios, feeding self-doubt and seeing the good in everyone, but yourself. You deserve more.

Stop blaming yourself and stop recalling old memories that are painful. Stop beating yourself up because of the things that happened in the past. Stop blaming yourself for the things you’re not guilty of.  And most importantly, stop tearing your self-esteem down.

You are worth much more than you think. And you’re better than you allow yourself to believe. And there is much more to life than you can wrap your mind around.

I’m sorry that you’re hurt. I’m sorry that they broke you. But they didn’t get the best of you. Keep that in mind. Nobody stole your sparkle. Nobody took your future from you. And nobody swiped off the kindness of your personality. You’re still able to do bright things in the future. You still have the time in this world to be the person you always wanted to be, but it’s time to start building yourself up now. It’s time to stop beating yourself up, too.

Forgive people who hurt you for doing so. And then put them out of your life forever. Thank them for the lessons they  taught you and remember them forever. But don’t let them haunt you forever. May that be something that builds you up and makes you stronger—not something that destroys you. Don’t allow it all to become something that keeps you awake at night or something that tears your good mood down each time you remember it.

Now is the time to become the owner of your life. Now is the time to stop giving so much power over yourself to the wrong people. Now it’s time to show them, the world and yourself, what you’re made of.

Be strong and forgive yourself. Be strong and move on. It’s time for you to be happy again. Thank your heart for enduring so much pain and still continuing to beat. And promise your heart to never put it through the same hell again.

Accept that you can’t control what happens in your life, but you can control how it affects you. Accept that you can’t control how people treat you, but you can determine their places in your life based on the way they treat you. And always remember that you will never be good enough for wrong people, but you’ll be more than enough for the right ones.

I also learned it the hard way,

The girl who has already been there.