The reason I write

For a good portion of my life, I wrote. I had an entire stack of journals, filled from front to back with diary entries or poems that I wrote to express myself. The reason for it was because I was young, and was not aware of ways that I could express it. I definitely did not know how to talk about it with my parents or my friends. I felt that I was the only person in the world feeling the way that I did, so I kept it hidden in the vast pages of spiral notebooks or “cute” graphic art journals.

I stopped for a time; writing didn’t seem to flow as easily as before. I always told myself it was because I was happy, and that I had only written when there was pain in my life. I could never seem to produce poems or entries describing my happiness because I didn’t know what that looked like.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my entire life was miserable and I had absolutely nothing to smile about, but at the end of the day, there would still be a pit in my stomach.

So, when my focus was more on my happiness, I couldn’t put it into words. I didn’t know how to describe the embrace of a friend you hadn’t seen in a long time;
I didn’t know how to explain the butterflies that I felt when I saw my boyfriend;
I didn’t know how to convey how trees reminded me of home and my foundation.

But I do now, because I’m finally opening up and digging out the parts of me that I have been hiding; the parts of me that I have not dealt with or thought about in years. I have reason to write again.

The reason I write is to express things I feel that I otherwise cannot.

The reason I write is to put my feelings into words so I can process them easier.

The reason I write is to paint a picture for other people who may not understand what it’s like to struggle with a mental illness.

The reason I write is to help free myself of my insecurities regarding my depression. The more I actually express myself, the better I process it.

The reason I write ambiguous posts (like the last one) is to not leave you out of the loop, but to show you that I am progressing, even if I am unable to publicly talk about it. But I am talking about it, just privatelyAnd that’s okay!

Ultimately, the reason I write is to share my experiences with you, hoping that you find comfort in my disclosure, even though it’s painful. I hope you feel not so alone.

I now know that my friend’s embrace felt like being wrapped in a blanket, sitting by a fire, and reminiscing about the time you spent with that friend under that same blanket talking about where you were going after graduation; bittersweet.
I now know that the butterflies weren’t contained in my stomach, like they always say; they consumed my insides, fluttering their wings to tickle me until I smiled.
I now know that the trees’ branches were like outstretched arms–much like the arms of my friend–pulling me into my foundation, my home; their height reminding me how small I was, showing me that there are so many places to climb, explore, visit, or immerse myself, and all I needed was the wind to sway those big, wooden arms in the right direction, releasing me to do great things and become someone that my younger self would have looked up to.

I now know that I don’t need sadness to fuel my drive because it was comfortable and safe; I now know that have so much potential at the end of my fingertips and in the words of my voice. I am glad that I have found my true reason to write.

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Today was incredible

And I just want to share it with you!!

So I woke up this morning and saw that mine and Kris’ (my professor) poster was accepted for the 2016 CAPS Conference in March in Los Angeles! We get to present on the data we are collecting from the viral post, including some data of the shares, comments, and private messages. We are also going to look at content of the comments and messages. I am SO excited to continue this information!

Also, I received an email today that the Fall/Winter 2015 George Fox Journal article is printed, AND I’M THE COVER! I didn’t know that I was going to be the cover!
Displaying IMG_9188.JPGGFU J cover

I’m incredible excited! The journal has not been officially released to the school yet, so all I am going to post is the cover until they release it to the public, and the digital version. I will share it on here and my Facebook when it is released!

Anyways, I just wanted to share some of my excitement! Overall, I’m glad this week is almost over because this week was very busy for me, so it was a great way to sort of end my week. I’m excited to see where this goes.

On another note, though, there have been a few things on my mind lately (that I cannot disclose), and I’m at such conflict about what I should do. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to make these things public, but I know my family would be at such conflict, or be upset. I am sorry, family, that I have kept such secrets from you.

I will let you readers know that I had finally disclosed something to my therapist about something that happened years ago that I have never talked about. I also have sought out someone outside of my therapist that has gone through something similar; I am excited to talk with them about it because–even though I’ll be terrified–I can feel that it is something that is well overdue, and I am anxious to hear a first hand experience from someone I actually know and care for (even though I would never wish it upon anyone).

I just want to thank every one of you: to my friends and family who have been by my side for so long, helping me overcome  so many struggles, and loving me no matter what; and to all of you readers and followers that I gained from the viral post: you guys encourage me everyday to keep fighting, and keep talking about my mental illness, so we can begin to see the change in our world. And I am amazed to see the impact that I have had on so many people; I am so thankful for it. I am so encouraged to see and hear so many people seeking help or speaking out. Every time you do, the stigma falls; it becomes less and less of a problem.

Thank you, every one.

Hearts

For my Learning class (yes, the class is titled “Learning.” Yes, I hear it being made fun of all the time. It’s about Learning theories, get over it!) we have to write a research paper analyzing a behavior with two of the theories that we have learned in class (behavior can include abnormal illnesses like depression or OCD, or normal behaviors too). I decided I wanted to write mine on self-harm because I think it would be an interesting topic to look into because of the cause and effect of (for example) cutting; it’s cathartic, or it’s one thing the individual can control.

ANYWAYS

I am looking at self-harm, not specifically cutting, so I Googled common ways that people self-harm, and I came across “carving.”

And I remembered something…

I used to do that.

Do you remember when I said in an earlier post that I would carelessly shave and “accidentally” cut myself? Well, this is different from that. I completely forgot I used to carve into my skin. I still have some scars from where I carved hearts in different places on my body, like my arms or legs. There is one that is still prominent on the side of my right knee.

At the time, I never saw this as self-harm. I used pencils and would draw and redraw and retrace until the spot began to indent into my skin, or break the surface. And then I’d keep going.

I did this in middle school and in high school. It never even hurt me.

I remember my mom being upset at me for doing that to myself, but like I said, I didn’t see it as self-harm. When I carved the one on the top of my wrist, people at my high school saw it during class; I didn’t even try to hide it. Because I didn’t see it as self-harm.

So then, is is self-harm?

Yes. Yes, it is. It was me mutilating my body, in which I found joy in. Do people who self-harm in other ways think it is particularly bad at the time? Not necessarily. Like I said, it’s something they have control over, or it’s a cathartic experience.

I remember looking at the scar on my knee this summer, and it was almost nostalgic. I don’t know why it almost brought happy thoughts to my mind, but it was a time where I had control of what was going on with or happening to my body.

I guess I will explore what this really means.

 

How did I get here?

I’m not sure how I ended up where I am.

Honestly, I’m lucky to be where I am.

The odds were against me. I should not be at one of the top rated colleges in Oregon. It should have been hard enough to go to community college with my financial situation. My parents can’t help me with my tuition; I am lucky enough that my grandparent are willing to cosign for me these past two years so I can pay tuition. I don’t know how I managed to not take out a private loan this year; somehow I was able to pay out of pocket the last bit of tuition, AND pay for rent every month. All on my own.

It’s tough growing up. This would be a lot easier if I could work more than I am, or not go to school. If I wasn’t going to school, I could work a full-time job and make decent pay to provide for myself, and have enough to play with.

But that’s not where I am.

I have a desire to further my education. I love learning, even if the homework is the worst part. However, there have been a few things that I have realized these past few years while I’ve been in college. My professor from my International Women’s Voices class said something along the lines of, “We go into college thinking we have a good idea of what it is we are interested in, or that we think we know a lot. When you leave college, you know it worked when you leave and realize you know nothing.”

It was something along those lines. And she is right. The more I learn about these different subjects, the more heavy the world seems to become. It weighs on me a lot because I know there is not a lot I can do to change anything. Not to be cliche, but I’m going to quote a Disney’s Pocahontas song: “You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” I first realized this in my Gender Theory class last year; that was the class that made me decide to minor in Women’s Studies. I learned so many theories, ideas, and concepts about gender that I never even knew that I didn’t know about (hopefully that made sense;))!

It’s hard balancing all of the information that keeps getting thrown my way. It’s tough to handle at times because it makes you feel hopeless or worthless because there is nothing you can do, and other people don’t care enough to change anything anyway. Is the world actually better if we’re educated, even though we don’t do anything to change the problems we do have?  Or is ignorance actually bliss?

Intermission

I know it has been about a week since I posted anything, but I have good reason.

I’ve done more personal journaling or “drafting.” What I have been writing about this week is something that I cannot share with the world yet. It’s something I haven’t really shared with anyone (I’ve only ever told two people). No one in my family knows, and my best friend doesn’t even know. But it’s something I had to finally dig up this week and stop choking it out of existence. Because it did happen.

I just sat and wrote well over 1000 words on what happened…and there is still so much more that I could say. I have never written about it before. I have kept all of the details and emotions that came with it, and its lasting effects without a word to anyone, or even paper.

There are things in my life that don’t just involve me and my secrets; there are some serious things that other people did that really effected me. But it’s not my place to say. It’s more of their secret than mine. There have been many people close to me that have really hurt me because I was involved. I can’t write to the world because then they would be exposed. But this blog isn’t about pointing the finger and saying what everyone did wrong; it’s about my journey to recovery, trying to sort out everything in my life.

“I don’t know”

That’s my go-to phrase. It’s the easy way out.

I was supposed to try to catch myself this week when I say it, but I completely forgot until right now…when I said it.

And it was exactly for that reason. Because I didn’t want to take the time to think about what I was feeling because that means facing it. That means taking the time to dig up some of that real self and see what’s there.

And that’s terrifying.


I’ve posted three times tonight, but oh well. Apparently I needed it.

Ring, ring, ring

One thing that is so so so so so hard for me is that my ears ring as a side effect of my antidepressants. Thankfully, I don’t tend to notice it going about my day, but I definitely notice it at night. Which is when I get grumpy from being tired. It’s almost 1am, I’m tired, grumpy, and the ringing is so loud that I am about to have a breakdown. I feel like it has gotten progressively louder over the course of a few months. 

It’s insanely hard to sleep with my ears CONSTANTLY ringing. And it’s not just one pitch either; I can hear layers of them if I listen carefully. If I actually concentrate enough, I can start to feel it in my head. Like pressure under my skin. 

Every night, I have to fall asleep to nature sounds, like rain or the ocean, because it’s a type of white noise that is relaxing that drowns out the ringing just enough. 

You’re probably wondering why I’m not in bed, huh? Who freaking knows? I’m tired as hell but so awake at the same time. That’s always one of the worst things, because I cant stay asleep through the night (I wake up at least twice), I toss and turn so many times when trying to fall asleep and when I’m asleep, and sometimes (like this morning) wake up an hour or more earlier than my alarm, even though I slept terribly. Plus! My bed squeaks so loudly and so easily that I get so tired of it (and I have a roommate that I don’t want to wake up) so I don’t move at all. So then I sleep terrible because I don’t move to get comfortable. 

It’s a vicious cycle. And I’m pretty much just complaining at this point, but whatever. This is what happens. 

I’m a lawn of emotion

One of my biggest struggles is crying.

I don’t like showing emotion because I feel like emotion is weakness. I’m still not sure where this exactly stemmed from, but that’s just how I’ve lived for a long time. Why do we see it as a negative thing? Because I know I’m not the only one who views it as that.

We don’t like feeling vulnerable. I especially don’t. I’ve gotten so good at stuffing down my tears over the years that when I finally give in and let myself, I have a panic attack because my body doesn’t know what’s happening.

So yeah. It’s been difficult to view crying as a form of release and relief. Maybe if I try to see it in my two selves, I can organize it better (I’m a mental processor…I have to organize everything before I do anything. This can be both a good or bad thing).

I see my two selves in two different layers. Have you ever seen those diagrams or pictures of grass and dirt?

Well that’s what I mean, in case you didn’t.

My real self is the dirt; it has the most substance and grounding in who I am. My ideal self is the grass; it lays nicely on top and can grow depending on its environment. The roots grow down, sometimes choking the dirt, fighting it to stay hidden underneath of it. The grass has to be full and thick to show that its thriving and mighty.

However,

The grass is actually that fake grass you can unroll unto your lawn. It can be unearthed easily if not left for a long time, but it has been. It’s actually started to plant more roots. That’s why this process of stripping my ideal self away is so difficult.

I need to start mowing my yard, for starters.

And then mow it again.

And probably again.

Then maybe I’ll take a shovel to it.

Let’s make a connection

I’m trying to begin to dig up parts of my real self that I suffocate with my ideal self. I often think that the only difference between my real self and my ideal self is strictly emotional, but I am now seeing that there are more significant differences than I thought. I have thought that my emotional differences are what effect the differences in my actions. One example would be me debating on making this blog public. My two selves are at conflict. For the past two weeks, I have been at battle on deciding what to do; both my selves actually want to make it public, but both are not taking the action. Why is this?

I’m curious to see what I eventually decide because I know, either way, this will help me. I do, however, want to make it public so that people can hear my story. I know that I feel most connected to someone by hearing someone’s story from their own mouth (or fingertips, in this case). I have seen from my viral post that so many people could relate to my words, so why not keep it going? There are so many people out there that are hiding just as I was, and I want to be able to reach out to them in some way. People shouldn’t have to feel like they are going to be shamed for something “wrong” with them. A wise woman told me–not that long ago–that we need to start rethinking what we think is “wrong” and “weak.” She told me that she sees crying not as weakness, but as someone showing who they really are, showing outwardly what they really care about. Having a mental illness is not weakness; it is something that makes us special and unique. It is a part of us, and that’s okay. Some people will escape Depression’s or Anxiety’s grips, and others won’t. And that’s okay. Everyone’s life experiences and body chemistry are different. They will effect everyone differently, but we can still see some differences.

It’s crazy to me to think how little we talk about mental health and mental illnesses in our culture, yet so many people can relate when one person speaks up.

That is why I am here; I want to speak up about my struggles and my journey because I know others have their own struggles and journeys that have got them where they are today, whether that is good or bad. We all come from somewhere, and we are all going somewhere.

A normal day

I felt very motivated today. It was both amazing and strange.

I did 4 loads of laundry (darks, colors, delicates, and whites [I don’t do laundry as often as most people because of my obsessive sorting]), put away the 2-3 weeks of accumulated shirts I haven’t hung in my closet, then also hung up the incoming clean shirts from the laundry, made myself dinner, did some homework (which included a couple hours of reading), and caught up on one of my shows that I missed last week. Which I very surprising because I usually get distracted and keep watching more Netflix, etc….

But today was different.

I don’t know what exactly made it different than other days. I actually got way less sleep than usual, had a late breakfast, forgot to take my pill this morning (my app hasn’t reminded me the past two days for some reason…), and had to return to my college town house. The only unique thing about today was that I saw a play with my professor/advisor/mentor/whatever she is to me. But, honestly, I don’t think that could have been solely it.

What I’ve decided is that it was just a normal day. Something I don’t have very often. And normal is good.