Life Update

Well, I’m back with a bit of a life update. I wrote my last blog a couple weeks ago now, and wanted to let you all know how things have been going since then. I’ve been extremely busy, I feel like this month has flown by and I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath!

I left off telling you that I was on a deadline to pay the back-rent that I owed, in addition to the current month’s rent. I had been working really hard to come up with the money, though I hadn’t saved enough at the time I wrote the blog. After I posted it, so many people wrote to me with words of encouragement, many ordered jewelry from my shop, and some even sent me money through PayPal without asking for or expecting anything in return. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response I got – I didn’t think many people would read the blog in the first place, let alone care about the mess I had gotten myself into.

I had spent months feeling completely alone, like no one in the world really cared about what I was going through, and I was too embarrassed to admit I was struggling, let alone reach out for, or accept help. I was so nervous about opening up and showing my weaknesses that it took me several attempts to even write a blog, or record a video. I thought everyone would see me as a failure — I didn’t expect for people to embrace me, to lift me up, to offer help and kindness and friendship. I’ve been rejected and let down so much in the recent months, that I had all but given up on humanity… But I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I decided to open up and vent about what I was going through. It not only lifted a great weight off my shoulders, but it let me know I wasn’t alone, because so many people reached out to me offering support.

I can’t put into words just how touched and grateful I am for the love I have received. Reading your messages, emails, snaps and comments gave me strength, made me feel better, and kept me going when all I wanted to do was hide.

Because of the people who so generously purchased jewelry from my shop, and the people who donated money to me via PayPal, I was able to walk into my landlord’s office with enough leverage to convince them to let me stay. Without you, I would have been homeless right now, and that is no exaggeration.

The landlord agreed that if I had all of the back-rent AND current rent paid by the end of July (which is soon), that the eviction notice would be ripped up. I am still saving to pay rent at the end of the month, but after that is paid, I will officially be out of the huge, huge hole I dug myself in and have been slowly being buried alive in for the past 5 months.

The good news is that I had one interview yesterday for a work-from-home job that I have had my eye on for a while, and it went really well! I am supposed to be hearing back from HR by the end of the week! Not only that, but I applied for another work-from-home job that I am hoping to get an interview with as well, I think I have a pretty good shot, and it’s another I’ve been eyeing for a while and waiting for the right opportunity. If I am successful at securing one of those jobs (I’m confident I will! Positive thoughts!) then I will make a new, updated blog post and YouTube video about working from home, and how to find legitimate work from home jobs. It’s been a couple years since I made that video and I have a few new tips and tricks.

I have also been working really hard at re-vamping and ramping up my jewelry business, Ancora Jewelry. One of my passions is working for myself and I do hope that my jewelry will take off and I’ll be able to support myself solely with my jewelry business and blogging/vlogging alone, but until that time I will still need to supplement my income and that’s why I am applying for various jobs that I can do until I am truly back on my feet.

So, I’m not out of the weeds yet, but I am going to keep going until I am. It’s been a hard couple of months with a lot of sacrifices (I even had to go to the food bank and wait in line for hours to get some free food being handed out, because I hadn’t eaten in days! This has all been a lesson in pride, let me tell you.) I do think that I have learned from this and hopefully one day I can look back and know that I grew from the hardships – but I could have never done it alone… No, without you all, I know I’d be homeless right now. I don’t know what would have happened to me. I owe everything I have right now to the kindness and generosity and goodness of other people, some who I have never spoken directly to in my life… I don’t know what I ever did to deserve such support, but I am grateful for it every day.

Before I go, I also wanted to let you know that since I relapsed about a month ago, I have not self-injured. I made the video and somehow that did help me to feel accountable to people who are rooting for me. Sure, I have had self-harm urges, and lots of rough patches where I didn’t handle it the best I could, but I did not resort to self-injury to get through it, and that is a win. Even when it feels like I’ve been fighting a losing battle, I KNOW that is a win. 🙂

I just uploaded a new video to update those who have not read my blog on some of the details I left out of my relapse video – I talk a little about the eviction, I talk a lot about the outpouring of love and support I received after blogging about my struggles, I even mention how I’ve had falling out with friends and tell you guys something I’ve never talked about before… It’s a super awkward moment in the video but I didn’t edit it out – I figure that it ties into why my life has been a nightmare lately… So if you watch it, I hope you enjoy it. I have a few more videos recorded and they should be up soon.

As always, leave any suggestions or feedback you have, I love to hear it! And again, thank you so much for the support, for everyone who simply read my blog or watched my video, thank you for taking the time to listen to me vent. Thank you for caring, when it felt like nobody did. Thank you for being there, when it felt like nobody was. Thanks for always having my back, and for holding me up. Hell, thanks for digging me out of the hole I dug. You all are amazing, and I am blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

Sending you love and positive energy xoxoxox

-Christie

 

 

 

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Self Injury Relapse, Eviction …and Catfishing?!

Hello, blog readers! Welcome back, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I like to use this blog to write longer updates and more detailed posts than what you’ll see on Facebook, so thanks for being here.

Many people have asked me what’s been going on in my life, because I’ve been really down lately, and only post bits and pieces about it on social media. I’m sure some of you are wondering what actually led to me getting an eviction notice, and why I relapsed and self-injured for the first time in over 5 years… So, let’s talk about it:

First thing’s first – I was laid off from my [work from home] right before the new year, and coincidentally my rent was raised right after that. Long story short, I wasn’t able to pay my rent one month, and my landlord agreed to let me make payments, since I’d never been late or missed rent before. My payments were fairly small – $20 here, $50 there… But before I could get another job and repay it all, the landlord started demanding the full amount immediately, even though we agreed that I could make payments when I was able to, and there was no set-date or time to have it repaid. At that time I was just making it by paying my current rent and bills, and could not repay the entire amount in addition to that. I was completely overwhelmed and started to suffer really badly with anxiety and depression, and I basically shut down.

Fast Forward to the middle of last month, and I received an official eviction notice. I’d been working so hard with my jewelry business, and trying to find another job (which is harder when you are only able to work from home), but it felt like nothing was enough. My family doesn’t believe in mental illness, so I couldn’t explain to them what I was going through – every time I tried to confide in them, I ended up feeling worse about myself – so I shut them out, too.

I felt like I had nowhere to turn to, and felt like a burden to everyone around me. I was mad at myself for struggling so badly with anxiety and depression, mad at myself for not being “normal”, and for getting myself into this situation… So instead of reaching out for help, I reached for a razor.

The decision to self-injure wasn’t something I planned, it was almost instinctual. I received the eviction notice in the mail and not 5 minutes later and the act was already done. As I sat there in a daze after I’d self-injured, I realized that it was my survival instincts kicking in. Part of me was so angry I wanted to confront my landlord, but I knew that wasn’t a good idea and wouldn’t help anything in the moment, because I wasn’t rational. Part of me also felt like such a burden that I considered briefly how I could kill myself and not only relieve my own pain, but the burden I cause to everyone around me when I get this way… I believe that the act of self-harming calmed me down enough in the moment so that I could think rationally and not do something I regretted even more… Although the guilt associated with self-injury is pretty strong, too, so there was no positive outcome to that situation.

I was ashamed and embarrassed to be in this situation, and still am. It’s taking all I have to let go of my ego and talk about it online, but that’s because I realized bottling it inside isn’t helping, and I need to accept that asking for help or admitting you’re struggling isn’t a sign of weakness – we all need help sometimes. I would never look down on someone for their struggles, and I know I do all I can to help people… Why can’t I give myself some of that same understanding and comfort? Why do I feel like a burden, when I’m constantly reminding people that they aren’t burdens? Why don’t I afford myself the same understanding  and compassion? What makes ME so different? 

Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t receive a lot of compassion and understanding from most of the people closest to me. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone I love ends up abandoning me… I don’t know, but whatever the reason, it’s very hard to care about myself in the same way that I care about other people.

I was able to get $200 together and took it into my landlord, begging to be given a chance to repay the remainder of the back-rent owed… It took as much courage as I could muster to go there alone and humble myself enough to beg. I felt pathetic, I felt like a child and not the responsible adult that I am. My landlord proceeded to berate me for over 15 minutes, and managed to make me cry in the process, which led me to having a panic attack and looking even more foolish. The landlord laughed at me, and it was humiliating. I haven’t felt real humiliation in a long time, but I felt absolutely and totally humiliated. Still, I was able to plead my case well enough that I was given a deadline to not only repay the back-rent, but also pay the current month’s (July) rent, by July 5th – that was only a week and a half, but I took the opportunity I was given, because I have no other choice.

I’ve been working as hard as possible with my Jewelry business, while selling off any possessions I could manage to find that had any value. I don’t have any family that can (or who are willing) help me or give me a loan, so I’ve felt pretty alone in all of this. Luckily, I do have a good IRL friend and many friends online who have offered their support and been there for me, trying to help in any way they can. Without them, I don’t think I would have gotten though all of this, without them, I don’t think I can continue to get through this – because my fight is long from over.

I posted about the eviction notice on SnapChat, and have been really overwhelmed with the supportive messages, and the fact that people keep asking me for updates and genuinely seem to care about what’s going on in my life… Most people have been wonderful and really have helped me to not be so hard on myself, and for that I could not be more grateful.

Unfortunately, I also had someone who I’ve known online for many years send me a message and offer to help with the back-rent,  this person went out of their way to make me feel at ease, comfortable and to make me trust them… But in the end, it was essentially an elaborate “catfish” situation, and when I realized they were being dishonest and stopped responding to them, they went out of their way to contact me elsewhere to tell me that I am a vile, disgusting, pathetic human being and that is why I have no one who cares about me… I told this person things in confidence about what was going on in my life and felt I could confide in them, and they used my weakness and honesty against me to say exactly what they knew would trigger me.

It’s really hard for me to trust people, or to confide in people, and over the years I have become more protective of myself because of that, more private and reclusive. I don’t make many videos anymore, I am not open about my struggles anymore, I don’t ask for help or seek it, I bottle it up and pretend I’m fine and suffer in silence.

Though I know that person wasn’t ever truly my friend, it makes me so wary to trust people… To be honest and real with anyone… But in the end, who is that hurting? Me. It’s just making me more lonely, depressed and isolated. I can’t live in fear all the time, I can’t let other people’s opinions define me, I can’t obsess over what people think of me, I can’t do this alone… I know there are lots of genuine people out there who truly do care, and I need to let go of my insecurities and fears, or they will eat me alive.

That is why I made this video today. That is why I am writing this blog. That is why I am taking the risk to be open, no matter what anyone thinks of me. Maybe some of you out there are struggling too, and don’t think you’ll make it. I’m here to tell you that you WILL make it. I need to tell myself that I will make it, too. Anyone who looks down on me for struggling isn’t worth having in my life, because we all struggle in our own ways sometimes. We all need help getting up off the ground, we all have good times and bad times. This just happens to be one of my bad times. I remember back to this time last year, I was doing a million times better than I am now, so I know that good times still lay ahead for me, I just need to try my best and allow other people to love me and give me support. Deep down, I do know I am worthy of that… Just as I know you who is reading this right now is worthy of that.

I can’t say for sure what will happen in my near future. I am still struggling with self-injury urges and working on coping in a healthy way. I am still working on finding a stable job and working on sustaining the business I have created for myself. I am still working on my confidence and self-worth, but I know I will get there. I have to get there. I don’t want to succumb to all of this, as much as sometimes the little tiny voice in my head urges me to give up.

I’ll never give up, because I want to show everyone that when you don’t give up, things get better. Because in the end, I do truly believe that things get better… You just have to keep on fighting and stay strong.

Thank you to everyone who has been with me over the years. Thank you for your support, your love, your advice, your acceptance and your strength. Thank you for caring about me when I don’t care enough about myself. Thank you for being my family when I felt like mine did not understand. Thank you for being my friend when everyone else disappeared.  Thank you for sharing your struggles and your successes with me, because they help me realize that we are all the same, and that I am never alone. I hope in being brave and sharing my story, even though I am ashamed, will help someone else out there feel not alone, too.

Thank you to those who have supported my jewelry business and my entrepreneurial spirit, because of you I am able to do what I love and also take care of myself. Without that support I wouldn’t have a chance to keep this roof over my head, to stay in the home I have lived in for so long and love… So thank you, thank you for watching my videos and visiting my blog and for everything. You are all amazing and a blessing that I never take for granted. I hope I haven’t let you down too badly.

Many have asked if they can do anything to help support me during this time (even though I have essentially ignored the requests due to my own selfish pride), but I have been too embarrassed to accept any help… But a friend recently messaged me and told me there is no shame in reaching out for help, admitting you need help, or accepting it when offered. I have to remember that, and humble myself… So I will say that any jewelry purchases would really help at this time, I hesitate to accept donations without giving anything in return, so my first choice would be for people to browse my jewelry shop and let me make you something! That way, I can feel like less of a burden or charity case.

I set up a special pop-up shop especially for this occasion, because I want to include special goodies like letters and cards in the jewelry orders made by my online friends… Of course, orders on my other sites work just as well, but this pop-up shop will help me to differentiate the orders from my friends, between the orders from regular customers.

You can visit my shop here: Ancora Jewelry Pop Up Shop

Please feel free to contact me if you want something custom-made for you, or someone you love! I love making custom items and can pretty much make anything you dream up.

If jewelry isn’t your thing, you can donate directly to me using this secure, verified PayPal link: paypal.me/xsullengirlx

If you donate, please let me know if you’d like me to make you something, send you a personal letter, have a chat online, or anything you can think of. I’d really like to help you if you help me, that’s just the kind of person that I am.

And if you cannot purchase anything, that’s okay! If anyone knows anything about not having the funds to spend on anything extra, it’s me! I don’t expect financial help, I am just giving the option to those who asked for it.

You can help support me in lots of ways! One way is to just stop by one of my social media sites and say hello! Send me a snap, a tweet, tag me in a post, send me a message, leave me a comment on YouTube, email me at xsullengirlxbusiness@gmail.com and I will be sure to respond to you. All of those things make my day and help me to carry on when things get rough. Don’t underestimate the power of positive and kind words, they can make a huge difference in someone’s life, and each message I get fills my heart with positive energy and love… So don’t be shy, feel free to say hi if you want!

Just reading this massive blog is supporting me, and for that I am forever grateful. I hope to never let you down in the future, I hope that I can go on to show that these setbacks can be overcome, I want to inspire and help others – that is my mission in life, and I will never give up on it, or on you… And I am working on not giving up on myself, too.

Thank you again for reading and for caring, and for all your support. Until next time, take care and be kind to yourself. Sending you love and all the positive vibes I have!

xoxoxox,

-Christie, xsullengirlx

 

 

 

Working From Home For MYSELF + Jewelry Shop Grand Re-Opening!

Hey Guys!

Thank you so much for all the continued support of this blog – and hello to all my new readers who came here for my “Work From Home” blog post! Whether you were referred here from ABC News on Facebook, or my YouTube video, I’m so glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll stick around!

I wanted to update because I have been super hard at work building my own “work from home” empire… (Okay, so not exactly an empire… more like a one-woman small business) and am excited about sharing it with you. I know many of you are here for work from home tips – and maybe this blog will inspire you to turn what you love to do into your full time job like I have!

I wish I could say I had all the answers, or that it’s been simple, but unfortunately; that’s not the case. I have run a small (very, very small) jewelry business for over 8 years, and only within the past year or so have I really seen all my hard work start to pay off, to the point that it’s become my full-time job. For some, it takes even less time – but the more time you invest, the bigger the reward in the end. If you can stick with it, it can be very rewarding.

My passion has always been mental health awareness, while my greatest hobby has been crafting/jewelry making, and only when I merged my passion for spreading awareness with my crafty side and created my Awareness Jewelry Business, did I start making a living for myself while doing the two things I loved.

As most of you know, I have made YouTube videos since 2007, and while I by no means have the biggest channel, I have gained a good sized following over the years, and I truly do credit that for giving me the boost I needed to get off the ground. You have to remember, when I started Vlogging, social media was just a baby, it was not as huge as it is today – Instagram, Twitter and even Facebook didn’t exist and certainly weren’t tools for marketing – so I was left at a disadvantage compared to those who start Vlogging today, with all the numerous ways to share content!

But that’s where YOU can benefit, where I didn’t! It may have taken me many years to get where I am, but most of that progress has been made in the past few years, as I have gotten into social media marketing and branding. You have all of these amazing free tools at your fingertips to share your talents with the world…. So what are you waiting for?!

You may think you’re not good at anything. That you could never make YouTube videos and you’re not handy with jewelry making. That’s okay, those are things that I am good at, you may be good at something else! What do you love to read about? What kind of sites do you have bookmarked and visit on a daily basis? What do you do in your free time? We all have passions and hobbies, and there many ways to express and share your love for those things, while simultaneously making a living for yourself!

  • Do you love to write? Start a free blog on WordPress just like this one! Not sure what to write about? You can write about your daily life, school, past experiences, parenting, animals, movie or book reviews, fashion, celebrity news… Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to starting a blog.
  • Do you love to talk? Start a YouTube channel or a Podcast!
  • Do you love art or photography? Join Instagram, Tumblr, create a WordPress blog, start a Facebook page and start posting photos of the things you love!
  • Do you have a crafty DIY talent? Jewelry making, woodworking, drawing, painting, sculpting, mason jar crafts, candle making, soap making (etc)? Join an online marketplace and start selling! Storenvy, Etsy, BigCartel, Indiemade, and eBay are great free places to start!
  • Do you collect things? Do you love hunting for treasures in thrift stores, garage sales, or even in your own closet? Why not join eBay, Etsy (for vintage finds), Threadflip, or Storenvy and start selling?

Of course, these are just examples of things you can do to start working for yourself and earning a living working from home. There are endless opportunities if you are dedicated and motivated. One thing you MUST keep in mind is that these are not quick ways to start making enough money to live on overnight… These things take time, dedication and patience. You will be working for yourself and that means you have to do ALL of your own business planning, inventory, photo-taking, research, posting and social media marketing and promotion.

That brings me to my final tip for this blog post: SELF PROMOTION!

In this day and age, like I said; social media is everything! It’s an essential part of building your own brand/business/full time job! Social media is how information is spread these days, and if you’re not taking advantage of every social media outlet and tool available, you’re doing yourself a real disservice. Create branded accounts for your business/blog/brand on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Linkedin
  • Google+

If you don’t know how to use one of these sites, find tutorials and figure it out! The more social media accounts you have to promote your product/brand/blog the better! Make sure the names and URL’s are very similar (or identical, if you can) to your online shop, blog, youtube channel or whatever your “home base” is – so it’s easy for customers to find you everywhere!

NETWORK! Search tags and keywords for people who love the same things you do, and follow them! Like their posts, learn from them, gain inspiration, start conversations, make friends, and post your links! If you follow someone, there’s a good chance they will follow you back, and this is a great way to get people to notice you in this HUGE world wide web.

Utilize #HASHTAGS and keywords, tag everything you post to make sure you turn up in search results!

Cross promote! If you’re selling something on Etsy or writing a blog on WordPress, for example, make sure you post links and information to all of your social media accounts! I know it seems tedious, sometimes I even have trouble doing this – but it’s the best way to make sure to catch the eye of potential customers/viewers/readers, etc.

Use Google Analytics and sign up for a Google AdSense account! If you use YouTube or a blog, you can actually get paid for page views through Google AdSense! And Google Analytics helps you determine where your traffic is coming from and how many views you’re getting. It’s essential!

———————————————————————

Now that I have given a few tips on how to get started creating your own small business in order to work from home for yourself – I’m going to get to the second part of this blog, which is my exciting announcement about the GRAND RE-OPENING of my jewelry shop! 

ancora jewelry

Ancora Jewelry Collage

As my business expanded, I decided I needed a more unique, professional name that had a story behind it, a new logo, a new website, better products, higher quality photos, and a business plan. I have spent months overhauling my small jewelry business – I came up with a new name, set up a new jewelry store, bought my own domain name and created social media pages and accounts in order to promote my jewelry. I invested in new, high quality materials and created new items. It’s been a long process, but I am so happy with the results! The response has been amazing and overwhelming – and I am so glad I stuck with it and didn’t give up.

I have a “Shop” section here on my blog that links to my store – and I’d love it if you’d check it out! I’ve put a ton of work into it – and your support means the world. I can only hope to keep on doing what I love, creating handmade jewelry and vlogging on YouTube, as well as hopefully returning to blogging more regularly.

As a thank you for all your support, I have created a special promotional code for readers of this blog – if you head on over to my site (below) you can use the promo code “Blog10” for 10% off of any order! And with your first order, you’ll receive a coupon for 20% off a future order, as well as an offer to get a free bracelet!!

So head on over to my shop: Ancora Jewelry by simply clicking the button below – or feel free to check out the “shop” tab at the top of my blog! Thank you so much for your support!

Visit my store on Storenvy

Enter promo code “Blog10” at checkout for 10% off any order!

I truly hope this blog post was helpful for those who have been searching for alternative ways to make money online, work from home, and start your own small business. I will continue to blog about this topic if you guys are interested in it – so if you want me to keep talking about this, leave a comment letting me know! And as always, if you have any specific questions I can answer, comment and I will try my best to get back to everyone!

xoxoxox,

Christie

Haircut Discussion and Poll!

I have been debating cutting my hair for a while now, and the time has finally come… I have a haircut appointment tomorrow (January 23)! I am so nervous! It’s strange to me that I’m so nervous about a haircut though, because I’ve always been really adventurous with my hair. In the past, I never gave cutting or dying my hair a second thought, because IT’S JUST HAIR, IT GROWS BACK! But over the past 3 years or so, my hair has grown longer and longer, mainly due to me not being able to afford to go to the salon. I think in that time, I became more self-conscious and ended up using my long hair as a security blanket and hiding behind it.

Now, my hair literally reaches down to my butt, it’s longer than it’s ever been – and I keep having second thoughts about cutting it off. But none of those thoughts have anything to do with me loving my long hair, not really. I keep thinking “If I cut my hair, will I look fatter? will my face look fatter? Will I have to wear more makeup to disguise any flaws?” and “I don’t want people to see my new haircut and think: damn, she looked better before, she shouldn’t have cut her hair!” — I don’t know why I am focusing so much on the superficial and letting my body image issues make this decision harder for me! It really boils down to my insecurities and the fact that I am using my long hair as a mask.

However, logically I know that I need to cut my hair. About 8 or 9 months ago, I shaved the side of my head because I needed a change, then I dyed my hair literally every color of the rainbow, and none of that phased me. So this shouldn’t phase me either. My side-shave has grown out to the point it doesn’t look that great with my long hair, and I want to grow it out but it would be easier to do that with shorter hair to grow out along with it. My long hair isn’t healthy, it’s not in great condition and it gets tangled all the time. All signs point to cutting it being a good idea… so I am going to try and overcome my fears and insecurities and just take the plunge, chop my hair off and stop hiding behind it – face my issues about myself and my body instead of just hiding behind it with a hair cape!

It’s just hair. It grows back! I’ve had shorter hair for longer periods of time than I have had long hair… and if I cut it and miss long hair, I can just grow it out again! My hair grows super fast. It’s going to be okay.

With that being said…. I DO value your guys’ opinions because YOU have to stare at my face when you watch my videos! YOU guys know how I look more than I do, because you spend a lot more time looking at my face than I do staring in a mirror. Since my perception is so foggy, I wanted to see if you had a preference about what YOU think would look more flattering on me, my face shape, etc. I want to make it clear that I am not asking you guys to make the decision for me – ultimately I will do what is best for ME and what I want, but I am curious as to what you think! After the photo set, there is going to be a poll, i’d appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion with me! 🙂

This what my long hair looks like now: 

 me long hair collage

This is the short haircut I want:

alysha nett hair collage

This is my long hair with the current shaved side, cropped to emulate the short hair cut above (to give an idea of what it would look like on me)

me sideshave collage

This is me with short hair (from aprox 2004 – 2007)

Me short hair collage

And finally… The other style I am debating is a mid-length “messy” wavy look. I really love this look and keep going back and forth between the short haircut and this one! (although, the short cut would grow out to this… haha)

mid length hair collage

Now that you have seen all of the photos of me, and the photos of the haircuts I am debating (short asymmetrical bob with shaved side – or messy mid-length layered cut) I am wondering which haircut YOU like the best!

I know, I know, most people say “just do whatever YOU like best, who cares what anyone else thinks!” and if you know me, you have to know I ALWAYS do whatever I want, regardless of what it is 😉 However, I am interested in what you guys like too, it might help sway my decision – because I AM cutting my hair, but I am on the fence as to which haircut I like most!

So…. if you can take a moment, please vote in this poll and let me know what you think (or leave a comment on my fb post, or both!)

I will of course let everyone know via FB and YouTube what my new hair looks like! I’m even going to do a hair timeline video of all my hairstyles and colors throughout the past decade on YouTube! Thank you all your your support and for your input on all of my hairstyles and colors throughout the years! You’re the best!

Updates!

ImageWhy Hello There!

I wanted to write a quick entry here (a more thought-provoking entry to come soon!) to let you all know that I have been doing some updating on this blog – I want to use this blog a lot more, but it needed a little revamping! I updated my “About Me” section, and added a page for my Awareness Jewelry (you can purchase direct from this blog now if that tickles your fancy), a page for my YouTube videos and a page talking about my upcoming novel and fundraiser. As always, you can check out my Instagram feed and Twitter right from the blog home page!

I apologize to those of you who are following this blog if you got email updates every time I added a new section or post. I appreciate those of you who follow me here, even though I don’t update often… Hopefully that will change soon!

Thanks to all of you for your support. I hope you’re having a wonderful New Year so far! My greatest wish for this year is for all of us to be healthy, happy and full of love and healing. We are all in this together.

Talk to you soon! 🙂

Christie

ps- Comment if you know what the photo I used in this post is from! 😉

Late Night Drive

I was driving late tonight, listening to music… Sometimes that’s when I feel most alone with my thoughts. Sometimes it’s when I feel the most inspired. Sometimes it’s when I feel the most hopeful, or the most hopeless. There’s just something about being alone on the road, in my car with the music filling that enclosed space that makes me think and feel.

Tonight was no exception – but the feelings that came rushing over me when a certain song came on were not hopeful at all. Quite the opposite.

You know, I used to store razors everywhere with me… just in case. In my car’s glove-box, one stuck in the vinyl of the sun visor, one in my wallet, when I was in school – one or two in my backpack (can you imagine if I’d been caught? Actually — funny(ish) story: One of the times I traveled abroad to England, I took my old school backpack with me. Of course, it was cleaned out and had been collecting dust for nearly 10 years…*gulp*. Anyway, I went through customs and everything was quite routine. But, once I was on the airplane, I was fishing around in a small zipper pocket for something, and felt something sharp knick my skin. I carefully closed my fingers around it, and realized it was a razor. A very old razor, that had been tucked away in there since high school. I had no idea it was in there, must have totally missed it when I was packing. I panicked, obviously. Can you imagine if they would have caught me with that? I would have probably been detained as a suspected terrorist! The horror!)

Back to the driving-in-my-car story… So, this feeling of absolute hopelessness washed over me. Okay, it was more like a tidal wave that nearly knocked me down. And I started thinking about all the things I wish I could change. All the things I lack. All the things I’ve lost. It’s not exactly “healthy” to think of all those things, but what can you do? Once they’re there… you can’t do a lot about it – at least, not when you are trying to recover, like I am. The old me would have had a razor in that car somewhere, and the old me would have cut that feeling out of me before I had a chance to process it (the fact that I was driving would not have mattered to me… I always was good at multi-tasking). But this is the “new me” – the “new and improved version”, so that is absolutely not an option anymore. So, I have no choice but to weather the storm and just deal with it.

I think a lot of people are under the impression I am stronger than I truly am. Especially lately. Lately, I feel like I am slowly cracking more day by day, and eventually I will just fall apart. It’s scary, because I feel like I have some kind of image to live up to – not just to my online followers, but to my family and the very few people I may call friends… And if I break, then what? Will people look down on me? Abandon me? Perhaps. My family always have done that, and I’ve lost a lot of friends that way, too. It’s a very scary thought.

So I’m thinking about what I’ve lost in the past 6 months. My relationship, my constant, the love of my life, my person… Because I am a broken flawed selfish person who is so terribly incapable of making people happy when they absolutely deserve to be happy and not deal with my bullshit. That is on me, and it haunts me every single day that I am aching to just go back in time and make it all right. But I can’t go back in time, it’s not that easy, and that kills me. So there was that, and really even stopping there would be misery enough – but then there’s losing my blogging gig with healthyplace.com and the fact that they robbed me of MY ideas, MY hard work… That was a loss that stung more than I thought. Then, there was losing my job. My actual job, that i’d had for the past year and a half, the job that made me feel like a productive fucking member of society after years of being looked down upon, disowned, judged and outcast for not being able to work normally. And since then, I lost my apartment I was proud to be able to finally afford on my own. And in the month following I have gone back to barely being able to afford to buy food, even toilet paper… stupid shit like that. Who wants to live like this?

I’ve been looking for a new job, something I can DO without having a nervous breakdown. I feel so fragile already… And the more I look for things and apply for things the more worthless I feel, the more incompetent I feel, the more fucked up and broken I know I really am. Before, I could hide it behind “but, I have a job! I make good money!” (and they say money can’t buy happiness – but the person who said that was never selling off their possessions, going without food and using paper towels from the laundry room as toilet paper because they were flat broke. No, money actually can buy happiness – because money = security and security = peace of mind, which is a key to happiness.)

I have been terrified to even tell my family about my situation – they already look down on me. They know something’s going on, but I haven’t heard from them or seen them in ages. Instead of supporting me when I am down and out, they run and hide and look down on me and gossip about what a failure I am. What a disappointment. An adult with the mentality of a child. An absolute fuck-up. Where did we go wrong? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL?! The only time my family really supports me is when I am doing well for myself and then, and only then; can they really look me in the eye and treat me like a human being. That hurts me so much.

I don’t feel sorry for myself, exactly. Before anyone starts thinking that – I actually blame myself for every single thing that has gone wrong in my life. Everything I have lost. It’s on me. Even if it’s actually NOT my fault, I am the kind of person who takes it all on my shoulders and blames myself for everything. I don’t feel sorry for myself because part of me tells myself that I deserve it. The same voice that always told me that I deserved pain, blood, chemicals, deprivation and loneliness…. That voice is still there. Even in recovery, it comes out when I am feeling low. Sometimes, that voice comes back when I am driving alone at night, in my car, listening to music. I just respond to it differently now, and can silence it for longer periods of time.

So I’ve been sitting here thinking about my feelings. Dwelling on my losses. Feeling hopeless and trying to think of something… anything… that I can do to raise myself back up out of this pile of shit I’ve sunk down into – and my mind is screaming at me to just push it away and use pain as a distraction… but I know those kinds of distractions are temporary. As soon as the feeling wore off, I’d just have one more thing to add to my losses: My recovery.

And that isn’t something I want to sacrifice… because as bad as life can get, it’s much better in recovery. I bet it doesn’t sound like it – because hurting myself seems so easy, so quick (much quicker than typing 1,500+ words about my feelings) BUT in the long run, it just makes everything worse…

So… I push on and try to stay strong. I am writing these words on the screen instead of carving them into my skin… And I guess that is something positive I can add to the ever-growing list of losses I’ve been tallying in my mind tonight.

"Maybe I am broken, in some way I can't say
‘Cause I don’t wanna change, but lord knows that I need some help
Won’t you save me from myself?

I wish I was numb, alone here in my cell
Because something in my heart is making me not feel so well
Won’t you save me from myself?

I get no sleep ‘cause I’m all alone
Like a living shadow where there once was bone
One cut deep and the other went sour
And no one’s to blame but I feel so shattered

Maybe I am lying still inside my shell
‘Cause I keep making waves and falling victim to the swell
Won’t you save me from myself?"

-Hanson, Save Me From Myself (from "Anthem" album)

My Apartment Saga…

I am writing this blog before moving out of my apartment tomorrow, so that I have a record and documentation of the ordeal I have gone through while living here. I have taken photos, videos and kept records along the way (thank goodness!) to show what a nightmare it has been, and how much I have done in the way of improvements. Many have known how unhappy Ive been here, especially in the last 6 months or so – so this is the story.

*Warning – this post will be image/text heavy!*

The Beginning:

In 2010, I was living in a nice apartment that I’d been living in for over 4 years. However, I was no longer able to afford the monthly rent, so I started my search for something cheaper. I searched Craigslist and came across the upper unit of a duplex not far from where I lived. I made an appointment to look at it, and when I saw it – It was a dump. For lack of a better word, I was repulsed by the smell, the dirtiness and the general state of the place. But, the price was right. I was told by the landlord who lived onsite in the lower unit that certain things would be taken care of before it was rented out.

After a bit of deliberation and compromising, I took on the apartment as a fixer-upper. (This was mistake #1.) It was a cute apartment if only it could be cleaned, painted, and fixed up. The landlord was willing to work with me and give me reduced deposit for some of the work.

I took possession of the apartment 1 month before I moved in, and my family helped to clean, replace the carpet, paint, and put in things like blinds and fixtures.

The carpet that the landlord wanted to keep in the unit was disgusting. It was filthy, smelled like urine and smoke, and was unsuitable – so we got NEW carpet, pulled up the old carpet in the unit, and installed the brand new carpet.

It went from this:

To this:

Not only did we put in new carpet – but we painted too. The walls had not been painted in what looked like years. There were marks, scuffs, holes, and yellowing paint from secondhand smoke which had seeped into the paint and made the apartment smell stale and gross. The landlord said she would paint, but she was only going to paint the living room, whereas the ENTIRE apartment needed painted due to the dirty/stained walls and the smell. So, I offered to paint it myself for $50 off my deposit. Little did I know, it cost me twice that to paint, not to mention the time and effort it took.

My landlord said I could paint the walls any color I wanted, she said “go crazy!” and I approved my colors with her before going ahead. Grey for the living room, Seafoam green and off-white for the kitchen (because the fixtures were retro and I thought that was a nice retro kitchen color), dusty light lavender for the bathroom, and hot pink for the bedroom. The landlord said that the color in the bedroom (hot pink) would need to be repainted upon move out, since that was too bright and not a neutral color to re-rent after I moved. I agreed and purchased all the paint myself and did all the painting which took me over a month.

Here’s some photos:

The landlord came into the apartment and looked at the paint both during the painting process, and after it was all done. She thought the kitchen was super cute and the paint made it look better. She still said I’d need to paint the bedroom when I left, but I had no problem with that, I had wanted a pink bedroom my whole life and was willing to repaint it if it meant I had a pink bedroom while I lived here!

The paint and carpet weren’t the only problems. The apartment was filthy, and it was not cleaned before I moved in. Some of this was unbeknownst to me, and I should have checked more thoroughly before moving in. However, I deep cleaned the floors, the appliances,  the windows, the mold and mildew, the bathtub, etc.

NOTE: The landlord did not do a walkthrough inspection with me before renting and taking my deposit. I learned that if you accept a deposit, a walkthrough is necessary – but I did not know that at the time. I was told I would get my deposit back at time of move out because of all I did at move in time. I should have never given a deposit, but I was antsy about moving in and didn’t think things through thoroughly.

Some photos of things I had to clean and/or replace once I moved in:

*the tub eventually was cleaned after many uses of bleach & cleaning tools*

After cleaning, I noticed that the fridge would not stop pouring water underneath the fridge into the drip pan. When I looked underneath to find out the problem, I was horrified to find this:

The fridge also constantly ran, and the door seal had been crudely “repaired” with duct tape, but it did not work well. The landlord was somewhat unsympathetic about this issue, and asked me to find a fridge for under $50. As most people know, finding a quality running fridge for under $50 is next to impossible. Luckily, my family was able to find a great fridge, but my landlord would only put $70 (a compromise) towards it. This did not include the delivery, installation by my family or removal of the old one. We did all of this ourselves.

Another problem that arose was that the hot water tank was very old and not working well. I could only run water for less than 5 minutes before it was ice cold. After many complaints to my landlord, my dad finally looked inside and realized it was full of calcium buildup and one of the elements was burned out. It needed replaced, but it took ages for my landlord to do anything about this. Again, I did not know this upon moving in because I had not thought to test the hot water duration! I’m sure most people don’t!

Between the filth in the tub, and the hot water situation, I did not take a shower/bath in my own bathtub for 2 months. I took them at my sister’s house which was not far away.

My landlord tried to find instructions on how to replace elements in a hot water tank on YouTube, and attempted to do it herself – needless to say, it did not work. She ended up paying for a tiny new one, but my family again had to take her to the store to buy it, and then install it ourselves and haul away the old one. This was done for much cheaper than she would have paid to have one delivered and installed by a home store! She constantly took advantage of my family’s willingness to help… If I was a tenant with no family or friends to help, then I’m sure most of this wouldn’t have gotten done.

The last issue regarding structural and replacement was the deck. The entrance to my apartment forced me to cross the deck to enter the door. When I moved in (in January ’11), it was very snowy and therefore I could not see the entire structure of the deck, though I was assured it was a great asset to the apartment & I could enjoy it very much in nice weather. Come to find out when the snow melted, the boards were rotted and if you walked on them in certain places, you’d nearly fall through. It was very dangerous. I found out about this around May 2011, and the deck was not replaced until October 2011 – 6 months since my initial complaint. In order to finally have it replaced for safety issues, I had to contact, meet with, and get quotes from construction companies on my own.

One of the reasons I had to do this on my own was because my Landlord up and moved without telling me in June 2011 – and was not on site anymore, nor in the same state. This left it very hard to get anything done and to stay in contact about any issues.

I finally met with several contractors and the arrangement was made to get the deck replaced. Thankfully, this was done when I was on vacation & it was finished by the time I got back, in November (too late to use it for  relaxing as it snowed as soon as I got home and has not been warm ever since!)

Photo the contractor took in October after the deck was replaced.

NOTE: The landlord did not pay for weather sealing on the deck so my dad and I offered to do this free of charge before snowfall. My landlord was upset with me due to a miscommunication about rent and a grace period, so I was told (probably mostly out of anger on my landlords part) that I was NOT to do any type of work, improvements or replacements on the apartment without her approval – and she did not allow me to weatherize the deck. Therefore, with all the rain & snow we got between November to present day (end of March) the untreated deck is discolored and weathered, and does not look like the above photo at all. This could have been prevented by me but now my landlord will have to fix it herself, or let it rot away like the previous deck.

OTHER ISSUES ASIDE FROM REPLACEMENT/STRUCTURAL –

One of the longstanding issues with this apartment has been that since my landlord moved out in June 2011, and one of her close family members took residence downstairs; there has been secondhand smoke drifting from the downstairs into my apartment – due to a gap in the seal in the floor. I have asked numerous times for the gap to either be sealed, or for the tenant downstairs to smoke outside. Neither has been done, and therefore I am running 2 air purifiers at my own expense, buying “smokers candles” though I do not smoke, and buying air fresheners. I have begun to suffer health issues due to the smoke, and furthermore, my dog has suffered and had to be seen by the vet due to an upper respiratory infection caused by the secondhand smoke. I have notified my landlord, spoken to the tenant below directly, and tried every method I can think of, to no avail.

I wouldn’t tell someone not to smoke, because smoking is their right. But I also have a right to clean air and a healthy living environment. Not only is secondhand smoke entering my apartment, but there are other forms of “smoke” that come through the floor and walls which are not healthy, either. The incident of my dog not being able to breathe properly prompted me to go ahead and give my move-out notice on March 1, 2012.

Jackson's antibiotic, cough suppressant, invoice and informational handout that states cigarette smoke exacerbates his problem.

Not only did the secondhand smoke affect my quality of life (and that of my dog), but the noise downstairs, the domestic disputes and the questionable “activity” (that I will not mention here for obvious reasons but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out) going on made me feel terribly unsafe and at-risk staying any longer.

My landlord, after receiving the move out notice, told me she was having the tenant downstairs move out, and that she would make the unit non-smoking, and that she would get new tenants that would follow the rules and that she’d like me to stay and things would get better. I told her I would consider it if things were to get better… However, as soon as I paid rent for the month and did not move out, I was informed that the tenant would be staying, and in fact the smoking downstairs increased – I am sure in small part to the complaint I made as “retaliation”. The quality of life here decreased even more, and nothing was done. In fact, the questionable behavior only increased.

So, with all that being said – I have stayed here too long (1 year and 2 months exactly!) and I am happy to be moving out tomorrow, as I write this. I will be gone before April 1st and not one more penny of mine is going towards living in this little house of horrors.

The funny thing is, after all of this; my landlord informed me just weeks ago that since I have made such nice improvements in the apartment, that she will be raising the rent between $55-105 per month – because she now thinks it’s worth more. Not only that, but she wanted me to sign a years lease to lock me in – whereas I  have always been month-to-month. As a landlord she has every right to increase rent or require a new lease, but as a tenant I have every right to refuse and move out. And this place is not worth the rent increase, improvements or not. I can’t believe I have put in so much hard work and yet she wants to raise the rent because I MADE IT BETTER!

My landlord is adamant that not only should I repaint the bedroom (as I promised long, long ago), but now I am being told to get my deposit back I must repaint the entire apartment back to white. Even though I bought the paint and had it all approved with her before I began. I am refusing to repaint and will tell her if she has to take $50 out of my deposit (because I was given a $50 painting credit on my deposit) to repaint herself, she is more than welcome to. It took me much more than $50 and a month of my time to paint in the first place, when she refused to. I will not spend a dime more or a second more of my time making improvements to this apartment which I have already improved so much. I feel I will have a hard time getting any of my deposit back, but rest-assured I will fight for it because I DESERVE IT- any court would agree with me, and if I have to escalate it to small claims court, I will.

Living here has caused me so much undue stress, aggravation, time and money that if I had known then what I know now, I would have never moved in in the first place.

As a tenant the law states I have a right to a healthy and peaceful, safe dwelling. This place is not any of those things – and I am so glad I am in a month-to-month agreement and put in my notice to vacate by April 1. I told her I’d consider staying if the situation improved, but she did not hold up her end of the deal, so I am moving.

I do not have an apartment as of yet to move into, thankfully I am staying with someone until I can find a place (I have a few prospects). I know it’s best for me to just get out while I can. So I am.

Thanks to anyone who read all this! I thought it was best to get it all out in a blog so that I have actual documentation of everything all in one place. 🙂

I’ll update again from a new and better place. Thanks everyone for your support!

Self Injury Awareness Day 2012 – My Favorite Inspirational Videos

I was so grateful and humbled by all the amazing submissions from everyone for my Self Injury Awareness Day video project! I was also so pleased to see so many SIAD projects posted around youtube this year, and every “big name” in self injury awareness vlogs on youtube came out to support this important day with wonderful videos! I have compiled a list of all my favorites into one post, so if you haven’t seen them all, check them out! I will be doing more posts with the art, poetry and whatnot that was in my video, so you can admire them more closely. If you have any other faves, or a video of your own you’d like added to the list, just embed it or link it in the comments here, and it will show up! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in SIAD in ANY way. Your actions mean the world to me and every self injurer in the world. Together, we can make a change and stand up for self injury awareness. Sending you all LOVE. ❤

PS – Don’t forget, if you want to support these awesome vloggers and videos, go to youtube to like, comment and subscribe!

 

Inside the Mind of a Self Injurer – Self Injury Awareness Day 2012 – by http://www.youtube.com/xsullengirlx

Self Injury Awareness Day 2012!! – by

http://www.youtube.com/Downtownpatrol

Self Injury Awareness Day 2012 Project – by

http://www.youtube.com/MeAndMyBlackTable

Interviewing People about Self Injury Awareness Day – by

http://www.youtube.com/idranktheseawater

Self Injury Awareness Day 2012 – by

http://www.youtube.com/selfishfake

A Self Injury Awareness Day Post – by

http://www.youtube.com/bluebirdinspiration

Self Injury Awareness and HOPE!!! – By

http://www.youtube.com/ShineOnBPD

 

 

Self Injury Awareness Day Project

In response to this video, I am writing a blog to make it easier for everyone to participate in the Self Injury Awareness Day Project. Self Injury Awareness Day is March 1, so the clock is ticking! The deadline for submissions is one week from now, February 27th.

My thought, in case you didn’t see the video; is that more people can make more of an impact and spread even more awareness than me just sitting in my living room making a YouTube video – I do that all the time anyway!

I want this to be a collaboration between me and you. If you have something to say, a story to tell, something you’ve always wanted to show the world… Then I’d love to help get your message out there.

For one week, I will be taking submissions to be compiled into a video project that will debut on my YouTube channel and all over various social networking sites on March 1, Self Injury Awareness Day.

What can you submit?

That’s up to you! Anything that will work in a video montage.

  • You can record a 1-2 minute video of yourself telling your story, reading something you wrote, singing, etc (or a longer video and I will cut it down at my discretion).
  • You can send any artwork you’ve done relating to self-injury or recovery
  • You can send any poetry, songs or essays (etc) you’ve written yourself
  • You can send photos of tattoos, things you’ve drawn on your arms or body (ie: love on your arms, butterflies or inspiring words)

You can send me any submissions directly to xsullengirlx@ymail.com (NOTE: This is not my primary e-mail address and any e-mails that are not for this project will be deleted! Thank you for your understanding! I just had to have somewhere for you to send your stuff!)

Again, your DEADLINE is Monday, February 27th.

You can send your work as an attachment or as a link. If you need to upload your content to a private hosting site, a good free one to use is www.mediafire.com – just e-mail the link to me.

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND/OR YOUTUBE USERNAME OR NICKNAME OF YOUR CHOICE IF YOU WANT CREDIT. IF YOU DO NOT WANT CREDITED, YOU WILL BE LEFT ANONYMOUS. IF YOU WANT CREDITED, PLEASE SEND ME EXACTLY THE INFORMATION YOU WANT INCLUDED SO I CAN CREDIT YOU PROPERLY!

If you have any questions on being credited or on submissions, you can leave me comments on this blog, on youtube, or you can send them to the email I specified – the subject needs to be something along the lines of “PROJECT QUESTION”.

I need your permission to use your work, so I will e-mail you a form to complete and send back to me if I use your content. I will try to use everyone’s content, depending on how many submissions I get.

*Please note that anything you send in has the possibility to be shared with the world, and by sending it to me for this video project, you are giving me the right to reproduce, distribute and modify the work as needed for the project. You are also hereby granting me permission to distribute the work publicly and understand that this is not limited to solely YouTube, but also Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Google and any media outlets that may re-post the content in full from my YouTube channel.

Thanks so much for participating, together we can make a difference! I know it might sound complicated, but I have to post specific information and rules if I am going to use your content in a legal and fair way. But basically, what I am trying to say is… Let’s make a compilation video for Self Injury Awareness Day and tell our stories to the world! Send me your thoughts, feelings, expressions, be creative and don’t worry about whether it’s good enough… Your submissions will help so many people, so keep that in mind… and have fun!

xoxoxo

I can’t help it, I love the broken ones…

Dia Frampton – The Broken Ones

I know they’ve hurt you bad.
Wide, the scars you have.
Baby let me straighten out your broken bones,
All your faults to me make you more beautiful.

I can’t help it,
I love the broken ones,
The ones who,
Need the most patching up.
The ones who,
Never been loved,
Never been loved,
Never been loved enough.
Maybe I see a part of me in them.
The missing piece always trying to fit in.
The shattered heart,
Hungry for a home.
No you’re not alone,
I love the broken ones.

You don’t have to drive,
With your headlights off.
It’s a pocketknife,
Not a gift from God.
Don’t you learn of love from the love they kept.
I will be your anchor slowly,
Step by step.

I can’t help it,
I love the broken ones,
The ones who,
Need the most patching up.
The ones who,
Never been loved,
Never been loved,
Never been loved enough.
Maybe I see a part of me in them.
The missing piece always trying to fit in.
The shattered heart,
Hungry for a home.
No you’re not alone,
I love the broken ones.
I love the broken ones.

Maybe we can rip off the bandage.
Maybe you will see it for what it is.
Maybe we can burn this building,
Holding you in.

I can’t help it,
I love the broken ones,
The ones who,
Need the most patching up.
The ones who,
Never been loved,
Never been loved,
Never been loved enough.
Maybe I see a part of me in them.
The missing piece always trying to fit in.
The shattered heart,
Hungry for a home.
No you’re not alone,
I love the broken ones.