To my Mental Health

Thanks for being my longest friend. You have been here for six years, starting out by kidnapping my mind as a young eleven year old in the heart of figuring out how to go about this life thing. You gripped my brain and molded it into what you needed it to be like in order to control me. You had me right where you wanted me and you got me. Congratulations.

 

Thanks for being the only one that loved me. Or so I thought. You trapped me inside of myself and let me live in ignorance. Made me believe that no one cared, but you my friend, you put up a black sheet in front of my sun. In front of my only hope of light. Smothered me in darkness away from my family, friends, and those that realized something was wrong. You sheltered me from what I needed most. I thought you took away my reason and those who loved me, but they were there the whole time.

 

Thanks for keeping me up at night. Yeah. You. The one with the painted on grin gazing into my soul absorbing my confidence and turning it into shame. The one that wraps my dreams into nightmares and brings my worst fears to life. I found a lot of new music because of you. I learned that if I listen to it loud enough, I can tune out your voice and finally allow my eyes to close.

 

Thanks for taking away my sense of reason. The lack of sleep I got just up thinking about you drove me insane. It took my reality and wrapped it up in terms of unrealistic expectations and nonsensical worries. My insanity meshed the shapes of people that I had grown so fond of and turned them into the demons that haunted my nightmares. A dark box that blurred my hopes and dreams.

 

Thanks for going on adventures with me. You were there in the heart of my birthday parties, all my social gatherings, and my nights out with friends. You are there as I stare into the mirror each morning and you are there in the smooth reflection of the water on my lake days. You are everywhere past and present.

 

In all honesty, thank you truly. You’ve taught me how to depend on myself through good times and bad. You’ve taught me that I don’t always have to be okay and I don’t always have to explain my feelings. You’ve made me learn that I can’t be so fast to judge other people because I don’t know what they’re going through. Last but not least: Mental Illness isn’t the end, it is just a start to a new beginning and I will always remember that. Thank you my friend.


(this was a collaboration piece written for Roads We Take- they share the life stories of others in order to try to help people feel less alone. Highly recommend reading the things they have on their site and check them out 🙂 )

Also, I work 2 jobs and am a full time student. I’m okay I promise and regular posts will be coming soon. Thanks to all who have been checking up on me. xx

Lots of Love

Kales

Wind

What is in the wind? Science says its just moving air. 78% nitrogen. 21% oxygen. 1% Argon. That is the chemical makeup of something far much greater than a moving mass of air. Embedded in every gust of wind, there are breaths: breaths of life and breaths of death, breaths of homelessness and breaths of royalty, breaths of change and breaths of constants. A swarming mass of life absorbs us every time we walk outside and yet we just complain about it messing up our hair. On this same brisk blast of air, one may have gotten proposed to, it could hold memories of a first kiss or memories of a last, it could hold particles of a last goodbye, but the wind is too cold; it is time to go in now. We stay inside sheltered from the lives of others as we stick our noses into a laptop or put our heads under covers to sleep. We try to forget about the hardships of others and their triumphs as we focus on us and wanting ourselves to come out on top. The next time you’re outside and that wind picks up: think about everything that could be happening right now, to people you have no idea about, people you have never met before and let it wash over you. The wind holds far greater wisdom than it gets credit for.

Finding Your Own North Star

 

North Star: a star that is used as a reference point in navigation or astronomy.

A necklace. That’s all it is on the outside. A necklace that we found on sale for $30 towards the end of what would’ve been my first semester of high school. It’s nothing too special: it has no monetary value, the chain is severely tangled, and the pendent is dirty looking beyond the fix of a simple cleaning. Yet, this necklace means so much to me. Why? I was in line at Target a few days after I got it when the lady ringing up my purchases told me she liked my necklace and asked if it meant anything to me. I told her no it didn’t actually, I just thought it looked cool. That turned out to be the last time I ever said that.

For about three months before buying the necklace, I was in the hospital for a swallowing disorder that has a super fancy name that I honestly don’t remember. It was brutal. I was told I was lying, that I was wasting money, and that I was ultimately killing myself for “refusing” to eat, drink, or speak. This was the first time I was introduced to the phrase “find your own North Star” that I heard in passing conversation in the Children’s hospital wing. That phrase sunk in and then it was forgotten in the bustle of medical tests that I was enduring. Flash forward.

I’m sitting in English class in my first day of high school (three months late) rubbing my new necklace between my thumb and forefinger (which for some reason calls me down a great bit in stressful situations), and thinking about the question that was written on the board “What keeps you going?”. I was stuck. I had absolutely no idea. My life had been a living hell the last few months and I didn’t want to keep going. But here I was. So why was I here, what kept me on this Earth right now. It was in that moment that I went back a few pages in my notebook to try to jog some inspiration and saw where I had absentmindedly scrawled “find your own North Star” between notes and a study guide. I didn’t remember writing it, but in that moment those words hit me deep. Find your own North Star.

My necklace is a compass. It’s a dainty necklace with the cardinal directions on it, and in all honesty I had no idea the other directions were on it until just now because the others didn’t mean anything to me. Fun fact of the day 🙂 The find your own North Star meaning to me goes a little like this: No matter what situation you’re in. No matter where you are. No matter where you go. No matter what tragedy hits or celebration occurs or if you lost motivation or if you feel empowered. The stars are always there. They never go away. The stars in your life can be a goal, a dream, aspirations or anything else you could possibly want. In life, there are times you will feel lost, like you have no where to go. You’ve lost where you came from, your sense of direction and feel like you’re ultimately spinning in circles. I encourage you to look up. Find your own North Star. Keep moving. Move towards your goal, dreams, or aspirations. Move towards what you want. The best thing is: it’s your North Star. No one can tell you which one will take you the right way or what decisions will bring you closer to it because their star is different from yours, they’re going another way and that’s okay. North Stars will guide you home.

This necklace (see picture) and its symbolism has guided me through a lot . It’s been through two boyfriends, the loss of a house, the loss of family and friends, two surgeries, more hospital visits than I can count, two trips out of the country, and has inspired me to share my thoughts with you. It is my hope that those of you who read this, whenever you see a compass remember this and look for your North Star and if you’ve gone astray get back on the path. I have faith in you to reach where you are going. You are capable. Find your North Star to bring you home.

Struggling to Breathe

We breathe in an excessive amount of air every single day. Most sources report an average of about 550 liters, but yet many of us forget how to breathe. Life comes at you welding tragedy, suffering, and hardships and the simplest thing, the thing we have been “practicing” all our lives ends up being the hardest thing that we as people will ever have to do. Breathe.

Life is full of intricacies. You have the solar system, the laws of physics, magnificent buildings, and the human body. The human body is built to keep itself alive and do the bare minimum functions to keep it going. The average human does not have to think to breathe. We go through life and our body without us thinking about it breathes for us. Steadily. In and Out. So why when hardships come we find it so hard to do what was so easy for us to do all along?

I have faced many hardships in my life and I know I’m only seventeen and haven’t faced true hardship or whatever and I get that. I believe hardships do not discriminate. At the age of seventeen I have faced: foreclosure, death, an abusive relationship, mental illness, and an uncontrollable dangerous family member. This list isn’t all inclusive and it isn’t meant for you to pity me, just for you to get perspective on why I’m talking about this tonight and why I struggle to breathe.

Foreclosure. A scary word to most home owners who aren’t sitting comfortably and something that I had to learn about the hard way eleven months ago. When you get foreclosed on, you forget how to breathe. Life as you know it is being ripped away from you and it’s scary. You feel the need to find something you can control, something that you thought you had, something you thought you couldn’t lose. That it was guaranteed. You turned to your breath. You long to hear that steady flow of movement draw in and out, but it’s gone. Only a faint whistle sound remains.

Death. An eternal lasting consequence of living in a broken world. When someone close to you dies you feel wrong for breathing, for having something they no longer have. You wonder why and how. Why did they leave you and how does this breath that is supposed to be locked inside their chest cease to exist for them and still thrive for you. You try to stop. You focus so hard on trying to stop it that your breathing gets irregular and rough and you’re not winning. You won’t win. You’re unsure of how this can ever be normal and your chest go back to a slower rate. You are struggling to breathe.

Abusive Relationships. A living hell on Earth. When you are in an abusive relationship you’re told you’re not worthy to breathe. You are not worth the air to sustain you. You are worthless. Every day you fall toward the idea that they’re right. That you walk this earth as a burden and you’re a waste of what was put on this Earth to keep creation alive. You struggle with the concept of what you’re worthy of and this puts a sour taste in your mouth. The taste of failure. You try to breathe in but are constantly reminded of how unworthy you are. You struggle to breathe.

Mental Illness. When your mind takes control of a false reality. With Mental Illness you are not you. Your body is a child’s toy in the hand of your mind, moving and breaking all to the same beat of worthlessness, panic, and failure. You move like a robot breaking at the joints and being stuck back together in a haphazard fashion. Your mind tells you what other people cannot and tells you the truths of a make believe world. Mental Illness throws you through a roller coaster of insanity and lets you reach for that bottle to escape. Allows you to throw those pills back. Allows you to inhale deep and exhale once and for all. Breathing has almost ceased.

An Uncontrollable Dangerous Family Member. You are locked into your house with a person who might as well be Satan himself. He comes bearing knifes and threats, with fists and heavy objects just waiting on you to fall asleep. He’s an outside normality with a built in monster. You’re told you won’t be breathing much longer and you believe him. You count your breaths as you shut the door between him and the knife. You count your breaths at night wondering if they will be taken from you before the next morning. You breathe heavier when you leave the house finally free. You count your breaths because you don’t know how many are left. You are struggling to breathe.

 

Skinny

I am skinny. Not the “cute skinny” or the “fit skinny”, I am just skinny. No, I’m not anorexic and no, I don’t have any illness that’s causing it. I just am.

Today I want to talk about my experience with skinny shaming. Yes you read that correctly. Skinny. S-K-I-N-N-Y. wow that’s a new phrase to some people which is honestly pretty weird in my opinion, but we’ll roll with it.

For starters, let’s clear up some things. First, I’m not trying to get you to pity me. That’s ridiculous. Also, I don’t want you to tell me how happy I should be for being skinny and how you wish you were or how lucky I am, because in all honesty, that’s ridiculous too. It’s a body type. Secondly, I don’t actively try to stay skinny. I don’t work out regularly unless it’s tennis season and even then it’s not much and i don’t go on any elaborate diets.

Let’s start by discussing the way I feel about it. As a person, I don’t notice body type. I notice things like eyes and smile and hair. Is that cliche? Probably. Although in my defense, it’s easier to stare right in front of you than scanning up and down someones body upon just glancing at them. So with that being said it is slightly infuriating when you see someone staring at your body like it is a product for them to buy and to have the nerve after they stare to get a look of pity in their eyes and resort to the default comment of “you need to eat a cheeseburger”. Really? I need to eat a cheeseburger. Well that sounds great if I hadn’t just ate some chicken nuggets, a large fry, and a milkshake from the nearest Burger King. Thank you for reminding me that I, a seventeen year old girl, need to feed myself. I can and I have already taken care of it and I have been for a long time, but thank you anyway. I appreciate your concern.

My favorite thing I think anyone has ever said to me about this issue is “are you anorexic” that one shocks me the most. Now someone tell me: Why on earth would you ask anyone if they had anorexia? Anorexia is a serious illness and is not to be taken lightly. For example: I was out running some errands one day and decided to pick up a smoothie from smoothie king. As I was ordering my smoothie of choice, the lady behind the counter was curious if I have anorexia asked if my smoothie was a meal replacement and invited me to a support group her church had, all within the first two minutes of our interaction . For a minute I stared at her and when I focused back in on this middle aged lady I put a smile on my face and told her thanks for the offer, collected my smoothie, and walked straight to my car. Hurt.

The heaviest I have ever been in my entire life is 106 pounds, but I at average sit around 99 pounds. I am anywhere between 12-19 pounds underweight if I take the bare minimum of the healthy weight. When my boyfriend picks me up, he notes that I’m as light as a feather, and when my best friend makes comments that she’s 140 pounds and that’s what I should be and I know that should be my goal and it hurts. It hurts a lot. You can tell I’m 99 pounds. You can see it in my pictures by looking at my twig like legs and my arms that look like chicken wings. You see it when I’m in a bikini with my hipbones protruding and my spine lightly sticking out. This was how I was made and something I shouldn’t be ashamed of and shouldn’t have to be considering going on weigh gain pills. I should be proud of who I am. I am not my weight. So why to others does it seem like I walk around with an I am 99 pounds sticky note taped to my back.

To end this all, once and for all (hopefully). I know what I weigh. I stand on the scale every day see the numbers. I know. I see it for myself and I know what I look like. No I don’t have an illness and yes I’m perfectly normal. I am just me, although to you, the people that call me sticks and skinny minis and anorexic: you know me as 99, because thats all you seem to care about anyway.

Confidence In a Tube of Lipstick

I finish tracing my lips with a blue- gray lipstick and walk down the stairs at the beach condo we’re staying at for the week smiling from ear to ear and a look of confusion sweeps over the faces of my family. The first comment was “have you been drinking koolaid?” and another “well that’s not your color.” Ouch. My confidence plummeted. I decide to go hype myself up and go model for my brother (he’s gotten really into photography) and it worked for about ten minutes until I decided to send my boyfriend a selfie of me smiling in my new lipstick. “That makes you look less attractive” was the response.

I wanted to talk about confidence today. Confidence in yourself. It’s honestly super hard to come by in today’s society and I wish it wasn’t but today my confidence came in a lipstick tube. Just a simple thing: lipstick. My simple thing was blown to shreds by those around me without a care because they did not know that words hurt. Words destroy. Words burn.

Many people walk around every day not comfortable in their own skin. We change for others around us just to appear beautiful in the eyes of another. As soon as I started getting comments on my lipstick, I was itching to scrub it off. I instantly felt in the spotlight as people were staring at my lips with a scrunched up face as I was trying to talk to them. What gives? I’m happy so why aren’t you?

We say “Honesty is the best policy”. Okay you’re right, but is telling me my face looks awful from the lip color the best way to use this “policy”? Why do we want to tear others down so much? Why do we not think about what we say? In the eyes of a teenage girl we need to. I’m trying to find the best version of me I can. I’m trying to live my life. Why are you breaking me down when I need to be built up.

As we go through life we need to learn how to talk to others and how our words can change people. I may never put on that lipstick again and I can hear people now: “Stop being so dramatic” or “It’s just a lipstick”. Yes, it was just a lipstick and yes it doesn’t really matter what people think of it. But it does matter how we feel about ourselves. It matters how we speak to others. And it matters if we’re treating the others around us in such a fashion to where they feel uncomfortable in their own skin. We’re limited in our time here on this Earth and the way that we feel while we are on it can make a difference in our quality of life

The next time someone asks you, “how does this look on me?” and they look genuinely happy. Are you going to take liberty upon yourself to inform them that this is a fashion disaster in your opinion and that they looked better before or are you going to build them up and let them be happy, because after all it is only a tube of lipstick.

 

Anxiety: My Captor

Anxiety is my Captor. It controls me: my heart, my soul, my life and I feel so defeated, like nothing can stop it.

My journey with anxiety started four years ago during my eighth grade year. It started out with little things such as not being able to focus in my volleyball games and being hesitant to eat in front of people, but nothing really past that. My family and I didn’t think much of it, I mean of course it was annoying but medical attention for something that we considered so simple was too much for my family to handle at the time. So, I went about life just trying to make it through middle school and juggle my friends and the boyfriend I had at the time, but no one even considered the obvious trigger that was occurring in my life at the moment. We just tried to push it under the rug to where no one could see it and no one could tell. Anxiety doesn’t necessarily say “normal” to everyone my family interacted with. So we carried on.

Fast forward to ninth grade and I had a medical incident that rocked my entire world. I was weak physically and emotionally unstable. After I regained control, I got to visit my first psychologist and she was amazing. We talked for a little while twice a week and came to terms that my anxiety was being triggered by an emotionally abusive relationship that I had no idea existed due to me never really knowing how a relationship was supposed to go. Fast forward to after we had broken up and the problem still hadn’t just dissolved. Why? We learned as a family that anxiety isn’t a one and done situation, it’s here and in my case here to stay.

If we skip over the series of panic attacks we couldn’t find a cause for in tenth grade and me stopping visiting the psychologist, we get to eleventh grade. My eleventh grade year was not good to say the least. In August, I learned what it truly meant to be homeless and I had to live with my grandparents for a year. That was a disaster. With all the stresses in my life and an unstable situation, my depression and anxiety hit hard. So hard, that I had no idea what to do and I began a downward spiral into suicidal actions and thoughts. I returned back to the psychologist.


Okay. Now you’re all caught up. That’s been a short run through of my life with anxiety thus far, now for the reason I wrote this.

Last night, I had an encounter with anxiety that moved my progress with this beating this condition backwards about ten steps. I was starting a new job the next day and I came home from church throwing up and I thought it was just nerves, well over the next 6 hours I had around 5 panic attacks lasting about twenty minutes apiece. Twenty minutes, five separate times of not being able to breathe or think and just wishing I would die.

But this post isn’t all negative. I want to talk about having a support team. A support team contains people that help you through the tough times and have your best interest at heart. Support teams can contain friends, family, significant others, and medical personnel. My support team last night really stepped up and are still going consistent into today as I continue having immense anxiety while writing this post. For example, my boyfriend came over about 1am this morning helping me through a panic attack from his house 20 minutes away and my mom rubbed my back while I was crying and tried to help me get some sleep. Support teams through mental illness is so important and I truly don’t thank mine enough.

Did you know 1 in 5 people have a mental illness of some kind? According to those stats there are more of us around than you think and we may not all be strangers to you. Open your eyes and look into the lives of those around you. People around you may be silent sufferers needing a support team to help them through it. Now I’m not saying be abrasive because that is not what they need, what I am saying is just be there. Allow yourself to be attentive and open your heart and together we can all take a stab at mental illness.

 

 

Lake Days

Today I was blessed to spend the day out on the lake in the midst of friends, and not only did I have an amazing time, it inspired me greatly. Somewhere between flying off the tube and running barefoot in the grass, I picked up an inspiration I feel i couldn’t have found anywhere else. Can I describe it? No probably not. It was just one of those things…you should’ve been there. Only kidding.

 

I was inspired to live in the moment. Yes, there are Pinterest posts that tell you all about that. Live your life NOW for you! and all that jazz. But do you really put forth the thought in to being like, yeah.. I should really do that. I sure didn’t. I live my life on a worry based planned out lifestyle to fight the horrors of basic anxiety and whereas spontaneous situations are fun and amazing; I choose to avoid them in terms of a safe and sound environment, such as staying inside and watching Netflix in bed, that sounds fantastic, really. But today was different. Something inside me had completely changed.

 

I sat on the dock with my feet in the water listening to the people around me talk just to talk and the kids across the lake preform wheelies on their jet skis (cool right???). And something inside of me just started turning. Maybe it was the hot sun or the murky lake water, but I turned around with a whole new mindset. The girl who is terrified to do anything in water, or anything at all really, was all for going jet skiing and tubing and just wanted to have the time of her life. For someone with my type of anxiety this would have caused an immediate panic attack. The dreaded fear of being outgoing and being in the spotlight, was happening but I was doing it to myself.

Why do I tell you this? Well for starters, I wanted to encourage you that it’s okay to do something different. It doesn’t have to agree with your typical lifestyle or hobbies or favorite pastimes. The only thing that matters is if you yourself are truly growing as a person. We live and we die. We start and we finish. Now will we start and finish in the same spot or belong to a whole different dimension by the time it’s over? If we continue our lives on one straight path, in our comfort zone, and never acting spur of the moment, we may just lose something very important to us. Our lives wasted. Try something you don’t want to do, try living on the edge for a little while. GET OUT OF BED!!! Did you hear me? No? Let me try this one: STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE AWAY LAYING IN BED ON NETFLIX. yeah, you. I get it, The Office is super addicting and that Friends marathon is calling your name, but get up and live. Life is still moving while you’re in bed. Get out of the house and get inspired, you may find that there is better things out there than that bed you call home.

 

 

 

Eyes?

Eyes are cool, super cool actually. I may just am being a nerd here but it’s whatever, really. When you look into the eyes of another you see things, really see things. You can see emotion, personality, motivation, and anything else you can possibly imagine. The eyes are the key to finding one’s true soul. No matter the color, no matter the body they are attached to, you find things in people whether you want to see the things or not. You find reality. Examples are as follows:

I look into the dark eyes of my boyfriend, physically I see depth with different swirls of  browns but deeper I see love and happiness and sincerity and a kindness that whether young love has anything to do with or not brightens up my existence, literally. I see a man equivalent to an open book, for his eyes hold no apparent shame. His eyes hold a passion, a passion for the things around him, a passion for life, and that passion he spreads on to others with ease, almost naturally which I admire tremendously.

I look into the bright eyes of my little sister, physically they’re bright green, big, and sparkling, but deeper I see innocence. An innocence not yet stolen by society, a conscience not yet developed. A mind not yet settled into the realms of reality. A child not condemned by the world around her, just yet. Allowing her soul to shape into its form to allow the eyes, the ultimate mirror of the soul, to allow us a quick gaze.

I look into the soft eyes of my mom, physically I see their softness, their tenderness, their lovingness, but deeper I see triumph, sorrow, pain, and forgiveness. A series of triumphant sparkles from all of life’s victories: marriage, the birth of three children, family life, a fulfilled spirit. A tender touch of sorrow under life’s grieving moments: a dad left behind, medical tragedies, instability. A painful realization of reality which is absolutely all of the above.  A glimpse of forgiveness for those who have wronged her as she tries to maintain who she is and what her family is all about amidst the purposefully scornful eyes of the passerby that just seem to keep coming.

“The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden; and like a mirror, they also reflect the person looking into them.”

                                     -Paulo Coelho