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Beyond the Outward Appearance

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A picture I drew at 12am, in the dark, upset and couldn’t sleep.
June 2012, Kris Hannah

One year ago, I hit a devastating low that I never thought I would ever reach. No one knew the turmoil I was struggling with, as I hid it from everyone around me. Many knew some details but couldn’t handle or comprehend the depth of my struggles. I was in an abusive relationship, dealing with being raped in my past, and trying to take care of my little girl while holding down a job. We had just moved to Wyoming, where I was isolated from everyone and had zero support. When I hit that low, I had no clue where to turn or what to do.

After begging my husband to take me back down to Texas for a week, he finally drove me and I went into the hospital. I was super scared. I went to the Emergency Room at 5pm on Friday, was going through intake Saturday at 2am, where they searched everything and took whatever was prohibited, and by 5am, I was in my bed crying myself to sleep wondering if I had made the right decision. I didn’t wake up until Monday morning. I didn’t want to go to group, and only woke up long enough to speak to my doctor. Things felt hopeless.

I was only inpatient for 10 days but it felt so much longer. They had activities scheduled for most of the day. Group was 2-3 times a day, activity therapy, one-on-one therapy once a week, and we could choose to do family therapy if we wanted. Every morning, we filled out a sheet on how we were feeling and what we wanted to accomplish that day. And after lunch, we had journaling time for an hour.

The problem was we weren’t allowed pens, and the pencils they supplied were smaller than 3 inches. We were allowed to use markers, but they were worn out and run down or went missing. Even though journaling was encouraged, the circumstances weren’t ideal for anyone who truly wanted to journal.

The best moments inpatient were when I was laughing and coloring with the other patients. I realized that many were also depressed, just like me. When I went inpatient, my parents saw me as weak, but in actuality, the strongest thing I could have ever done was get the help I needed. This was the first time I was allowed to not pretend to be stronger than I felt. As I started reaching out for help and journaling, I finally felt a strength I hadn’t felt in such a long time.I flourished and finally found something enjoyable for myself. I took notes in every aspect of therapy, journaled like crazy, and even started drawing again. I went through FOUR composition books and my pages looked like rainbows. It felt great doing such a ‘childish’ thing.

I know many people don’t understand what would send someone into a mental hospital, but it is time to break down those walls. The people in my unit were not mentally insane. They were not crazy or psychos. They were seeking help in the best way possible. Just because their troubles were not physical, it doesn’t make them any less. Just imagine how many don’t get help and choose a more permanent solution. It saved my life and helped me get out of my abusive relationship.

When I left, I vowed that I would help future patients in the same way I was helped. I never realized how significant those markers and composition books were in my recovery, but they were. And I hope that by donating what I can, others can feel that also. Each month, I would love to be able to deliver washable markers, composition books, coloring books, and a set of resources for those inpatient.

If you have any suggestions or would like to help, please let me know by commenting or emailing me at krisahannah @ gmail.

Brain is a little haywire…

I seem to have these moments where I am all giddy and ready to take on the world and then get to the point where I feel I have accomplished absolutely nothing! I get stuck in a routine, an unproductive routine, that makes me beat myself up over. Like today.

I so wanted to organize all my online stuff but all I did was fix stuff that wasn’t broke or make changes that were so nitpicky that it wouldn’t matter to most. I so wanted to make a powerful post about how much I have learned. But I’m going crazy in my head.

Nothing is cohesive. Nothing is perfect. But I want it to be. I went from inpatient and outpatient programs most of the day to sitting in a hotel with my three year old all day. My sanity is getting the best of me and my lack of motivation to take my pills as scheduled is making me shaky and unbalanced. I truly know they work but for some reason I’m losing that motivation I had.

The biggest motivator I had today was thinking about writing a book or creative journal or actually keeping a blog going. Now those are things I’d love to do. Not worry about my hyper vigilance. Not worry about being alone or people walking by my window. The good things. The coloring my daughter and I did. The letters she was writing. The “p” sounds she was learning. Lots of good. But…

Why can’t I focus on the good things??? Emotional and mental issues seem to be my biggest struggle. Finding my faith and facing my past are huge. One day I will. One day it will all be easily meshed into a beautiful me!

Update, Hospitalization, and Progressive Health

Been a long while since I have been on this blog or any. Actually, I haven’t been on the internet in like forever because of what started at the end of May. I got to a point where I wanted to beat my husband up in his sleep, crying myself to sleep every night, major anxiety, and so much more. My husband confronted me at my work because he happened to see that I was talking about partial hospitalization on fb. I told him I was serious. He understood after reading about wanting to beat him up. I just couldn’t handle this “normal” (fake) life anymore. I was hurting and no one cared. Even my cousin (the only one in the family I talk to) told me she was tired of talking about it, and we only talked about it maybe 4 times within a year. Anyways, so off to the hospital I went.

I uprooted my family from one part of the country to the other with my wanting to go back to where I grew up to make sure I got the best care, since there were no trauma therapists or support groups within 2 hours of where we lived. Hated that town anyways!

I went into the ER at 4:30pm, brought to the Mental Hospital here at 2am, and finally laid my head down on one of the inpatient beds at 4am. I slept that whole day or two. I was that depressed. My husband had to go back and work but I was inpatient for 10 days. The best 10 days I could have ever gotten. I really do recommend people going and getting help if they are thinking suicidal or that depressed.

(On the way to my hometown, I wanted to jump out of the car, but I turned my music on and went to sleep for the 23 hour drive.)

After inpatient I was outpatient in the PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) there while I slept on my dad’s couch. Once my husband drove back down we got a hotel for Hubby and Cupcake (*Not her real name, our daughter). The suicidal thoughts started coming more frequent when interacting with my husband and daughter. If only I was dealing with my past rapes. Rape started a long process of unhealthy relationships for me.

Since they wanted to get me reevaluated again, I got sent inpatient for a LONG 5 days. It was unexpected and very aggravating. I made the doctors think everything was fine. It was easier that way because not having jobs or a place to live and my physical health was more important to me.

Now I realize that, yes, I am living my life after rape, but I am not defined by anything. Not MDD or PTSD or anything. I am me and all I can do is me. I took very colorful notes inpatient and outpatient and have finally been released from the programs. I wish I could stay there for those who are just now coming into the program and be an advocate for them. It is so essential that they realize it is more than just sitting there in the groups, but soaking up the knowledge the therapists and doctors are giving them. I feel like I did all I could do there for my own personal growth.

Now that I am out, I am still journalling from time to time (with markers in composition books) and looking into DBT. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses on Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness, which the inpatient therapist tried to go over with me. Thinking more rationally than emotionally minded when it comes to situations where I perceive distress in relationships. I feel like I have lots of resources and help and I will gladly pass them on to others who need help just surviving LIFE, let alone abuse.

Strive for PROGRESSION, NOT Perfection. I want to surround myself with progressively healthy people than people who are stuck and unhealthy to what my needs are.

Think I might coin that phrase if it already isn’t… “PROGRESSIVELY HEALTHY” or “PROGRESSIVE HEALTH”

Seeking out Help for Emotional Healing

Going to bed in a few minutes, but I wanted to thank everyone for reading this blog and for their concern. It truly touches my heart. Just wanted to share two things before I crashed.

1. Monday, I went to a mental health facility to help me with the loads of emotions I have had lately. I’ve had many times in the past months where I just cry out I need some help. So that’s what I did. I sought out help. Now, my therapist and psychologist (at the clinic) are going to work hand in hand to make sure that my therapy helps, along with the antidepressant they prescribed me. Therapy IS what will help me recover and heal from what has happened to me, but temporarily being on Zoloft should help control the mood swings where there’s a possibility to feel actual happiness. I did not come to this decision lightly. I just know that if I cannot actively seek avenues to heal, I will never get there. I’ve noticed how I have been, and so have others. The clinic classified it as PTSD, but I think it’s more depression and anxiety. I could be wrong though. Who knows.

2. I was on Facebook the other day and saw a link from Emerging from Broken. Darlene talked about how Emotional Healing Does NOT Depend On… I thought it was perfect. And SO TRUE! With the current situation I am going through, one part stuck out to me (ok maybe two lol).

“My emotional healing did not happen because my husband stood by me. In fact he DIDN’T stand by me at all.  He fought me and he fought the process. My healing and taking my life and individuality back threatened his control over me. It threatened his orderly little world where he was King and I was his servant.  He had his life all organized the way HE wanted it. He liked me messed up and compliant and he is the first one to admit that today.”

“Overcoming dysfunctional relationships and emotional healing depends only on ME. Not on results, outcomes, negotiations, agreement from others, the law, or whether or not I lost or gained weight. Emotional healing does not depend on people or on “things”, money, or circumstances.”

Her insights and thoughts were so inspiring. I can so relate to what she said and hope that one day, I can finally heal from all of this and look back stronger and happier. I’ve seen other victims who think that “if this” or “if that” they could be healed, but the honest truth is that this is all about EMOTIONAL healing. The physical stuff is behind us. The law could be working with us, failing us, or not even be in the picture, but it CANNOT heal us. The law is for what little justice it dishes out, and that’s it! Whether our perp is dead or alive doesn’t heal us. I know some who thought it would, and they are still as stuck as ever in their own misery. We all have to have the will and fight to move past this. Don’t rely on anyone but yourself and your support system. Keep those who will help you close and push all others away. Be selfish a little. My big problem is I never felt “worthy” to be first, second, third, or fourth on anyone’s list. But how can I have them so high on mine, and they not even feel I am worth more than the last slot on their list? Their list doesn’t matter… mine does. And I come first on mine. HEALING is PRIORITY!

Anyways, my medicine is finally kicking in. Think it’s bed time now. Hope everyone can push all the other voices around you out of your head and focus on what you feel will help you in your healing and recovery. I have had to do a lot of seeking out on this, as I used to be in a group on Facebook, but the negativity and lack of uplifting brought me down and kept me stuck where I didn’t wanna be. What is right for some victims isn’t right for others. We all progress in our own time. As long as we keep moving forward, we are doing the right thing. All I can do is imagine the day where this doesn’t affect me like it does. The day I can say yes, I used to be a victim, yes I still have my days, but I am STRONGER because I DIDN’T let them win. I am a fighter. Are you?