Thursday, September 18, 2014

I MOVED!

Check out the new host of my blog: http://www.girlinconverse.wordpress.com

Same blog, same type of posts, different host.

Bookmark that shit now. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How did the bird know to trust its own wings?

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.” – Unknown

I’ve read this quote numerous times over the past few years, each time hoping to gain more than just comfort; I wanted to find out the bird’s secret. How did the bird know to trust its own wings? Instinct, right? Well, if so, where was my instinct? How come I didn’t know I was going to be okay?

I wondered about this long and hard. I went through a phase where I wanted this tattooed on my wrist in order to remind myself that I had wings I could trust, not unlike the tattoo I have on rib cage that reminds me I always have the key; the way out to life’s struggles.

I love my key tattoo, because I have used my own "key" before to unlock shackles that held me back and made me feel trapped. However, I felt that if I got the tattoo of the bird, I would feel a bit hypocritical. See, I did not trust my wings. In fact, I never moved from my safe little branch – I sat there, hanging on for dear life, not looking down, and praying that the sucker never broke.

In fact, I took such desperate measures to avoid having to leave my safe, warm, little branch. With the weight of the problems and darkness I carried around with me, this was no easy task. That branch wanted to break, tired and ready to buckle from holding up not only me, but my heavy problems as well.

Knowing I could not bear to fly on my own, I devised a plan. I would hide is the shadows of the biggest leaves I could find, hoping they would never fall away and expose me. I depended on them to keep me safe and warm and happy so I did not need to learn how to do it on my own. When the leaves did fall and I was still there, shaking with fear, I blocked out the outside world.

This plan worked well, until sometime in the middle of July, when I sat in my psychologist’s office and sobbed about all the pain and suffering I went through in my poor little life (on my poor little branch). She looked at me sternly and said, “You don’t want to get better, you want to feel better.”

What? Why would I be sitting in this office pouring out my whole heart and soul if I didn’t want to get better? Also, didn’t "getting better" mean feeling better? Wasn’t that the point?

However, almost instantaneously, my branch snapped – faster than I could have ever imagined. She was calling my bluff—pointing out the fact that I stayed on my safe little branch all balled up with self-pity and lack of courage and called it a life. It became all at once transparent that I could no longer stay there, I needed to move forward. If I ever wanted to live a healthy life, it would have to mean leaving that branch.

For those of you that have read my past blogs, you may have picked up on the depression and anxiety that plagued me for the past few years. I’m pretty much an open book and while I’m always terrified to share how I feel, it’s strangely one of the things I know how to do best.

Looking back now, I read those posts and roll my eyes a bit at my whiny-ness, my own self-proclaimed victimization. I was a victim of the world. I was a victim of my past. I was a victim of the uncomfortable feelings that I was sure no one else had ever dealt with.

This is not to say the thoughts and feelings weren’t very, very real—because they were (and some days still are!). At least they seemed that way for me. I was lonely and felt rejected and had very low self-esteem; three factors that lead me down a road of complete self-destruction.

For a while, I thought I could fix the hole within me by latching on to others or latching on to destructive behaviors. In many ways, these fixes were my branch – they kept me safe. For this very reason I stayed in an unhealthy relationship knowing I was not happy until it eventually completely destroyed me. If I had someone by my side, it would mean that I was normal – the emptiness inside of me could be ignored and I would eventually feel whole.

This was not the case—in fact, it was the exact opposite.

So, when my psychologist said this to me it struck a nerve. It seems so simple, but yet, it was hard to grasp. Judging by my unhealthy behaviors, she was right. I didn’t eat because I wanted to feel better about myself. I became obsessed with guys who treated me badly because I wanted to feel loved. I stayed on the branch because I wanted to feel safe.

However, none of these behaviors actually helped me get better and none of them kept me safe. In fact, not eating led me down a path that pointed right to my grave. Being with guys that were not good for me lead me to lower self esteem. My attachment problems lead me to feel emotionally and physically unhealthy.

As with all major changes, getting better felt a whole lot like getting worse. All of these feelings of self-hatred that I tried to cover up with unhealthy behaviors came back in full force. Taking care of myself—eating right, exercising, therapy—were very difficult at first. The food was the hardest part. I abruptly moved back in with my parents and things were ugly for the first month. They were watching me fall, but no one could convince me that all I needed to do was trust my wings and fly.

No one could fly for me, carry me with their wings, or help me seek solace in their safe branches; recovery does not work that way. You have to want to get better and realize that it doesn’t always mean feeling better. I had to personally commit to my own health and self-esteem, which meant breaking the negative habits I’d developed over that past decade. I needed to be vulnerable, to admit there was a problem, to seek treatment. This would mean opening up to a psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist and scariest of all, my own family and friends.

In a recent Ted Talk, Glennon Doyle Melton mentions, “It’s braver to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman.” If that isn’t the truth, I don’t know what is.

To climb down from this mountain of self-pride and stubbornness and admit that I had a real life problem that was neither glamorous nor easily solvable – well, that was scary. For so long I had fists held high and a shield up to ‘protect’ myself from a world that was ‘out to get me;’ never once taking a minute to realize that I was out to get myself. The real problem came from inside of me and nothing – no guy, no substance, and no low and dangerous number on a scale – was going to get me out of this dark place except me.

For the first time in a long time, I took steps forward. At first I felt completely directionless; I felt blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back. Every time I would start to feel good, the sadness would come back and I’d feel discouraged. The phrase “one step forward and two steps back” became more relevant than ever.

With the help of people who cared about me – truly cared ­­­­– those tiny steps became easier. I wrote down and fought negative thoughts. I worked with my nutritionist and became accountable for my own health by eating like a normal person would. I accepted that the low number on the scale was no true indication of the person inside of me. I challenged all the ‘rules’ I had created about good and bad foods and started to actually enjoy eating again.

The funny thing about disordered eating is that it’s probably the worst solution to any problem in the world. Aside from the obvious fact that your body needs nutrients to survive, sporadic eating habits affect your mood in HUGE ways. This makes perfect sense to me now. However, that is because I am in recovery. I can see clearly; my eyes are no longer broken. I understand now that without food, I will become depressed. When I become depressed, I will stop wanting food. This basic principle was so unbelievable hard to grasp and yet so very enlightening once I did.

I can now proudly say I’m on the road to recovery in so many ways. The pain that I carried on and on about is no longer there. It’s hard to even imagine what that pain is like because I did it; the branch snapped and I trusted myself to fly. I no longer have the urge to engage in destructive behaviors – I know I deserve better than all that. I realize now that no one can save me from myself even if that’s the only thing they want to do.



This is not to say that I’m naïve. I understand my shortcomings and my ability to relapse. However, I now have a better understanding of what triggers can lead me down that dangerous, destructive path and I work hard to avoid them. Life will lead me to many highs and lows but for the first time in a while I feel ready. I feel strong and I feel capable and healthy and blessed, even though not every moment of my life is perfect. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Autumn's Coming & It's Time To Fill the Rabbit Hole

A high school teacher once told me and a class of my peers to pay special attention to the leaves outside. He said this on a day in late August when we were starting our senior year. At the time, the leaves were still a beautiful green, although our eyes had adjusted to them over the summer months.  He warned us that the leaves would soon turn a vibrant orange and fall from the trees. We looked at him blankly – we knew the cycle of the seasons by now. He finished by saying the next time we saw those leaves turn green, our lives would be changing; our high school careers would come to an end.

I can picture the look on our faces as we listened to this, not understanding why he was so deeply poetic on the first day of our senior year. Why was he trying to make us nostalgic when all we wanted to do was leave? Sure enough, though, the leaves changed and that chapter ended. Then the same thing happened while I was at Penn State. Then they changed again during my brief time in Philadelphia.

While this all may seem normal and irrelevant, as I walked outside today I realized that the breeze was just a bit chillier than it has been in months. Without fully noticing it, memories of pumpkin patches, leather boots and plaid shirts came to mind. All of a sudden, I felt calmer than I had in a while.

So I started to wonder about the seasons and why they are so important. After almost 25 years on this earth I should be completely used to the changing of the weather. I know what to expect. I know it will be very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. However, I welcome the changing of seasons every year as if I’m experiencing it for the first time.

The first time I can wear a spring jacket instead of a winter coat is metaphorically a sigh of relief; we made it through the harsh winter. The first day I need to wear shorts because it is just too hot for anything else, I feel playful and unruly, because summer is somehow easier and more rebellious. When autumn comes, I feel comforted, knowing that I will soon bring out my cozy sweaters and fleece-lined leggings and feel the cool breeze through my hair. Finally, winter will numb everything with its breath-taking beauty until you are so numb that you need spring again to thaw you out.

Time heals all; I truly believe it. As one season fades into another season, you find that these quick benchmarks, that sometimes seem so terribly long, are set in place to put a distance between you and your past. They are cathartic and magical; as human beings, if we sit too long we get antsy. As soon as one season makes us anxious, another one gently steps in and changes it up for us.

A year goes by so fast, but if I think about where I was last year and where I am now, it does not feel so fast. Time is funny that way. The people and events that I found important at this time last year have both changed and stayed the same. I have both changed and stayed the same.

Last winter brought me into a deep, dark depression that made me feel a whole lot like Alice stuck in a wonderland. I somehow found myself falling down a never-ending rabbit hole and when I woke up, all I could do was look around and take notice to rapid changes I did not understand. Noises were loud, people came and went, and meanwhile I felt completely mad, but no one was there to tell me the best people were. Finally, I am slowly but surely crawling out of the deep dark hole knowing in my own heart that the best people are mad – to me, that’s the only opinion that matters.

As much as spring elicits a promise of rebirth and life, somehow I feel autumn has taken my hand and led me forward more than any other season ever has. Maybe it is because I spent my first 22 years on earth starting a “brand new” school year with “brand new” clothes during fall and maybe for that exact reason it feels like a fresh start.

Walking outside today, I felt that fresh-start feeling and it wrapped itself around me tightly. It gave me a calmness I’ve been missing for a while. It’s cathartic in a way that my old drawn out past and all my regrets are soon going to die with the leaves and I will be able to start fresh; begin again. I can fill up the old rabbit hole and watch as it gets covered; first in leaves, then by snow. When springtime rolls around next year, the new patch of grass will cover up the spot so I won’t even notice it – it’ll just be a distant memory, built into my timeline, a reflection on a difficult time 2 winters ago. A subtle reminder that time heals all.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Much like their facilities, Inne of the Abingtons’ views could use an update

Recently, a soon-to-be-bride inquired about having her wedding at the Inne of the Abingtons. Since it was a same-sex couple, the venue declined. Here's what happened next.

If you live in or around the Scranton area you may have noticed this image making its way around social media yesterday afternoon:



Since the image doesn’t show any signature or show the name of the business, it was only hearsay that this was sent by the establishment Inne of the Abingtons. At first I was skeptical to share on my Facebook wall for that very reason, but as the day went on and I checked the Facebook page of that business (now suspiciously deleted) I realized that more and more people were writing posts with no rebuttal from the business.

Because I work as a Public Relations professional and moderate a national company’s Facebook page, I understand the importance of communication upfront when the image of your company is being threatened. So, for this to be floating around the internet with no statement released from the actual company, I have to believe that this is their actual stance on gay marriage at their facility.
If it is not, they should be working overtime to respond to each and every post to insure people that this is a mistake. I noticed early this morning that they actually deleted their Facebook page, which is probably the worst thing they could have done. Now when you search their business, you’ll come to the reviews on Facebook, which are filled with people angry with the moral stance this company has. For example:




Please note, there have been zero responses from any person working for this company to address these matters. I also emailed them myself to see if this was true and received no response.
Now, aside from the clear public relation nightmare this is, there is also the business aspect. I understand that every business is entitled to their views and reserves the right to refuse service to anyone – but to openly throw away business in this economy is just brainless. Being that gay rights are on the top of the political agenda, they had to know that this would anger the general public.

Maybe they thought that since they wrote this in a private email they would be safe, but if that is the case they should probably step out of the 1950s – not only in their beliefs, but also because technology now allows us to share bigotry at rapid speeds. Inne at the Abingtons, please note: screen shots are a thing.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only in state in the NortheasternU.S. that lacks a statewide anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. So as unfortunate as it is that this facility feels the need to discriminate against the LGBT community in a way that is comparable to discrimination against the African American community in the past, there are no laws that make this illegal.

On the bright side of this unfortunate situation, it seems the rapid speed at which this image is being shared and angry reviews are being written shows that our generation has made leaps and bounds in embracing the equality of the LGBT community. I have always felt, personally, that this should not even be something we need to “embrace” – it should have just been a part of our culture from the very beginning. However, since it has not, it’s nice to see positive change is happening.

I don’t always love social media, but I do love it when it brings a community together to combat hate:

Please join me in showing the Inne of the Abingtons that this type of hate will not be tolerated in Northeastern, Pa. Write a letter, share this post, share the original picture, etc. I would show a little sympathy if they tried to issue a statement or talk with their target audience about the matter, but since they’ve stayed silent, it makes me think that their hate is more important to them than their customers.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Typical 'Inspirational' Lists That Can Go Shove It

If you have had any exposure to the internet within the past year and a half, you may have noticed a bit of a cultural trend - these 'inspirational' lists that explain to us how to live our lives to the fullest. These 'advice' columns are full of great suggestions - get married in your twenties, don't get married in your twenties, travel as much as you possibly can, etc. It's all really annoying if you ask me - I'm probably just going to live my life the way I want, anyway.

With our lives under a constant social media microscope, it's easy to get caught up in these suggestive lists and develop FOMO (fear of missing out, duh.) Should I be traveling more? Is being single and hooking up with people more fun than being in a five year relationship? Wait, how am I going to complete this list of things to do in my twenties when I'm broke from my glorified party days (aka college)?

I decided to take it upon myself to find 5 lists that I believe to be complete bullshit. Most of these articles have a stock picture of beautiful girls laughing in the sunset - do not let this pull you in. Don't worry, I'll explain why.

(Side note: Did anyone else realize that these lists are mainly geared towards 20-somethings? Does life completely end at age 30?)




Why This Sucks: 

  • Um, the very first reason is that it is almost certain you will get cheated on. Really? Are people more prone to getting cheated on in their twenties rather than their teens or their thirties? Is that the best reason to stay single? 
  • Then we move on to #2, which is the obligatory, feel-good "You're Young - Go Out There & Explore The World!" At first glance this sounds cool; I could totally go out and explore the world. I instantly see myself riding on elephants in Africa and climbing the Great Wall of China. Then I stop and remember the logistics - I'm poor. Now I feel sad. I'm so young and I should be exploring the world! That's what would make my life mean something! No. Just, no. Put meaning into your life by doing what you can and what makes you happy. Traveling around the world doesn't make one life more valuable than another. 
  • Wait, here comes three: "Money Doesn't Come Easy So Save It." Now this I can get behind. Hold on, though, two seconds ago I was daydreaming about elephants in Africa. Surely I can save money AND travel the world, right? 
  • Here is my all-time favorite: "Girls Can Be Too Dramatic and Will Just Waste More Of Your Energy."Wow. Just, wow. I cannot formulate the right words to articulate what I am thinking right now, so I am going to just leave this one for you to judge on your own. 
Bottom line: How about you enter a relationship if you want to and you stay single if you don't want to? Not sure about you, but this list did not persuade me to do anything other than think about the moron who wrote it (sorry, not sorry). 



Why This Sucks: 

  • "It Could Make You Happier." Well, if getting married is not going to make you happier, why would you do it? Also, is there evidence to support that getting married when you are young will make you happier than getting married when you are older? 
  • You'll make more money (at least if you're a man). Hate to break it to the person who put in the research needed to make this statement, but it's a well-known fact that on average men make more money than women. Thank you, Huffington Post, for taking that hideous glass ceiling and putting it to good use in your dumb article. 
  • You'll have more sex and you'll drink less alcohol. Oh, in that case, someone order me a husband pronto! I've needed to curb my out-of-control drinking habits for a decade now - how silly of me not to look at the easy solution of just getting married. As for the sex thing, eh - get it in writing. 
Bottom line: If you are considering getting married, please tell me it has nothing to do with trying to drink less alcohol and make more money. Please. Otherwise, I have completely lost faith in humanity once and for all. 




Why This Sucks:

  • Happy people surround themselves with other happy people. So, that depressed person you know? You should probably take them out to a lake and drown them. It's either that or risk losing your own happiness, right? Oh wait, the article touches on this: "If you’re struggling with a bout of sadness, depression, worry, or anger, spend more time with your happiest friends or family members." Man, if only all the therapists and mental health specialists knew this tiny secret written by a genius on the interwebz!
  • Happy people show signs of happiness. Wait, what? You mean to tell me that happy people don't show signs of sadness? Weird...
  • Happy people see challenges as opportunities. In other words, next time your car breaks down on the side of the highway and you need to get to work, take it as an opportunity to explore the art form of picking wild flowers on the side of the road. No money to have it towed? Use this opportunity to see if prostitution really is the answer to the world's problems. 
Bottom line: Find your own inspiration and your own happiness. While I do admit that some lists do have good suggestions and exploring ways to get out of the slump you are in is a good idea, no one is perfect. These lists will make you feel like you should be. 




Why This Sucks:
  • I actually do not even need to give specific reasons - the list basically makes it apparent that "truly happy people" don't care about much of anything. Which sounds good in theory, but is a bit unrealistic. It's fun to say "Zero F*ck's Given" but it's another thing to completely live by it.



Why This Sucks:
  • This list includes completely original ideas such as go for a picnic, spend time with your real life friends and have a BBQ. Wow. I never thought to have a BBQ in the summertime. Sounds fun, though, thanks Lifehack.
  • Plank yourself 3 times a day. Really? I must plank every single day, three times a day? Someone please tell me what will happen if I decide to run, bike or swim instead - I'd like to know beforehand so I don't mess my life up too much. 
  • Do some housework. Well, I generally like to keep my living quarters a bit tidy around the fall and winter months, too, but I see how this is also important in the summer as well. 
Bottom line: There really is none - just a question: do people get paid to write this stuff? If so, I'm in. I know I am fully capable of doing a great job of listing 25 mundane things people must do to make their summer complete. 


Here are my final words of wisdom: Stop reading dumb lists and live your life how you see fit. That's the real secret to happiness. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My 15-Year-Old Self Kicked My Ass Last Night

While attempting to pack last night for my big upcoming move, I came across my old journals. For those of you who do not know, I can proudly say I've kept a journal since I've been in 4th grade.

This is great for a variety of reasons:

  1. Gaining access to the complete mind of a 4th grader is just top notch entertainment.
  2. I can cringe at how immature I've been and pat myself on the back for how mature I am right now - er, think I am. 
  3. I can look back at so many situations and see them clearly - which has helped me so many times as far as keeping the past where it belongs. 


Anyway, reading old journals is my favorite form of procrastination. It really is. Last night I happened across my high school journal and at first I was reluctant to pick that one to read. High school was bad enough the first time, right? Also, did I really want to read about my struggles to fit in and all the dumb crushes I had?

However, what I quickly discovered was the complete opposite. Aside from the occasional hormonal everyone-hates-me-I'm-so-emo entries, I was a pretty confident girl. In fact, I was so confident during this time in my life that I pretty much jumped out of my journal and slapped 24-year-old me in the face. It seems the 15-year-old version of myself was much less scared and anxious and a lot more "eff you, this is the way I am, accept it or leave it."

I am a writer. If there is one thing I can say I am good at and I like, it's writing. One entry I came across last night was about my passion for writing and just how much I loved it. The pure honesty and enthusiasm is something that I'm not sure I've had in a long time. I can't even write a blog post without second guessing myself.

It seems that it's easier to be less passionate now because than it doesn't hurt so much if people don't respond appropriately. Let's be honest here, no one is patting writers on the back for much. Unless you have a bestseller out there, society seems to think writing is pretty useless being that it does not make you money at all.

Before money was a factor - and judging by my writing from high school, it was a happier time - I was so proud of myself. I wrote about how lucky I was to have that talent and how I wouldn't trade it for the world. I can't count the amount of times I said in college that I would trade my writing for a brain that understands engineering. I wonder what 15-year-old me would think about that. 

The other aspect I wrote about was the standard high school drama. However, back then I seemed to take on the world with a shield up and a sword in my hand. If someone treated me badly I would plain out say, "Oh well, they treated me badly and I'm not going to stand for it." I was adament about my no-drinking, no-drugs policy back then as well, which is good because I was 15 years old. However, I wrote many times about how my friends were getting involved with such things and how that simply just wasn't acceptable to me. To break it down, I did what I wanted, what I felt was right, and if someone disagreed I simply just did not care.

In fact, I was pretty comfortable with saying, "Those people are no good for me and I really don't care what anyone thinks, I'm not going to surround myself with it just to be cool and liked."

Damn girl, step down.

After reading such confident, no-nonsense writing from my former self, I obviously starting thinking. When did that change? Was it after my first heartbreak? Was it when I got bullied a little bit and I let it get to me?

All I know is that sometime in the last 10 years, that confidence got a little lost.

When people told me I would never find a job with my degree I believed them. When they told me that I was in the complete wrong major, I believed them. I believed them when they told me that math is where the money is and money is most important. I still believe them. I believed them when they told me I was too emotional, cared too much, too enthusiastic, too hyper... this list goes on and on.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I broke down and started believing the bullshit that society feeds us every day, I just know it happened. I picture 15-year-old me, fully clad in my Hot Topic gear and headphones permanently attached to my ears, and she's glaring at me with eyes that say, "Get a hold of yourself, Mon."

I think she's right.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Month: Conquering the Stigma


It’s mental health awareness month – and, for me, it’s extremely important. I know there’s an awareness month for just about anything you can think of, so I usually do not pay much attention. But for many reasons, this one is important to me.

It’s a difficult thing to write about – mental health. While the stigma is most definitely lifting, it’s only really lifting at the corners - otherwise, it's still stuck there. For example, I’m comfortable alluding to my anxiety in light-hearted ways. Jokingly, I can say, “I can’t watch the news – it gives me anxiety!” and people will usually laugh. However, conversations get weird when you take it past that. If you start talking about how you saw a headline about climate change 3 days ago and you still can’t pick up a newspaper because you don’t even want to know, well, it gets difficult.

How do you explain - without sounding “crazy” – that the sound of people coughing at work sometimes makes you jump? Or how other days your head goes in constant circles around a problem that doesn’t exist? What do you do when you try to explain these problems and people just stare and question, “You don’t need to worry about these things, though, so why don’t you just relax?” My first thought is, “If it was that easy I would and half of people in the mental health field would be without a job.” After that, I just start worrying about the reasons why I’m worrying in the first place.

It all sounds funny in certain contexts and I think that’s okay. Laughing about your weaknesses makes them more bearable. On other days, though, it’s just not funny. It’s not funny when your family is downstairs celebrating Easter and you are upstairs, alone, just trying to catch your breath. It’s not funny when you finally come downstairs because you are scared for no reason and your dad needs to hold you for 15 minutes while whispering in your ear that it’s a good day, nothing bad is happening and we’re all right here. It’s not funny when you have to explain to your family why there are tears running down your face and you do not even know why.

There are times when I go through spurts of depression, too, which is whole other monster. I once read somewhere that depression could be described as feeling like you are drowning; only, you can see other people and they are all breathing. It does feel that way. It feels like you are screaming for help and no one can hear you, or the people than can hear you just don’t know how to help. So, you need to wait, and you need to work at pulling yourself out. Eventually, you always do, but its tough to remember that in the moment…

The thing is, at least with anxiety you can find the humor – when it comes to depression, there just is none to be had.

I think these feelings are more common than we all like to admit; just some of us go through them more than others. I've sadly known two people in the past year that commited suicide. 

It’s scary to admit the ugly feelings because it feels as though people will run and hide from you. When I meet someone new I try to hide it – I am not anxious and I do not get depressed now and then - that’s the perfect image I try to portray. That sometimes makes it scarier, because what happens when they find out? It’s not true anyway, I’m not perfect and I won’t be, so it’s not worth it to pretend differently.

After a few dates, I once told a guy that I have anxiety. He – ignorantly, to say the least - was going on and on about how his one friend was “crazy” and to really drive his point home, he added that this friend was “medicated.” That’s how crazy he was. Needless to say, I did not like where the conversation was going. So I plainly said, “I have anxiety and I take medicine for it.” *Silence* He then took my hand and said, “I don’t think you have anxiety, I just think you are just too hard on yourself.” Hmm… well, that didn’t turn into a relationship for obvious reasons.

Anyway, I feel to do this justice, I would have to go into some of the thoughts and feelings I have on my worst days. But I can’t do that – there’s too much of a fear there, which is where the stigma of mental health comes in. I want everyone to believe I never have awful, scary thoughts; I want everyone to believe that I am always fine.

The thing is, it’s not something that’s going to go away. I’ve been to doctors and therapists and I’ve cried when they told me, “This is something you will deal with forever. You will learn skills to control it, but there is little chance it will go away.”

I cry because I do not want to feel this way – like my heart is constantly beating out of my chest when there’s nothing even happening. However, not wanting to feel this way won’t change it; it will just make me resist it. The truth is, I do feel this way. I do have anxiety. I did not ask to be this way, I do not enjoy it, and I don’t bother to dissect how I got here – because when it comes down to it, it’s not important at all. It is what it is. 

Another thing I remind myself is that it is not a label stuck to my forehead. I have other things, too - like happiness, love, humor, curiousity, and a deep caring for other people. I have to believe that people will view those things as important and not just my weaknesses.

I have people out there on my side – people who have felt this way, who do feel this way, and people who try desperately to understand even if they haven’t experienced it. I have ways of coping – writing and running. I always tell my mom I’m going for a run “to get the demons out,” and it’s true. It helps.

On my darkest days, I read a quote from The Perks of Being A Wallflower – a book that I believed saved my life many times. I read this not so much for the message, because the message itself is flawed. That's the point, though - it helps to know that the person who wrote this book gets it, they understand. Here it is:

“I know that I brought this all on myself. I know that I deserve
this. I'd do anything not to be this way. I'd do anything to make
it up to everyone. And to not have to see a psychiatrist, who
explains to me about being 'passive aggressive.' And to not have
to take the medicine he gives me, which is too expensive for my
dad. And to not have to talk about bad memories with him. Or
be nostalgic about bad things.

I just wish that God or my parents or Sam or my sister or
someone would just tell me what's wrong with me. Just tell me
how to be different in a way that makes sense. To make this all
go away. And disappear. I know that's wrong because it's my responsibility, and I know that things get worse before they get
better because that's what my psychiatrist says, but this is a worse
that feels too big.”

On my brightest days, I don’t need to read quotes from books. I look up at the sunshine, smile, and think to myself, “Cherish this moment and remember it. Remember that when it gets bad, days like this will always return.”

As with all my writing and many of my blog posts, there’s a specific anxiety that comes with getting it out there. Some people might look at me differently after reading it – but I think right now it’s just important to me that I get this out there. I can sit around and complain about the stigma behind mental health or I can speak out to overcome it.

If nothing else, I hope this helps people understand that mental health problems are not something to be scared of. They do not indicate “craziness” or “weakness.” I do not believe I’m weak. I make it through every day, sometimes with the help of others, but I make it. I might have bad days, but overall, my life is good. Most of all, to those who suffer from similar problems, don’t let it hold you back. Moving to a new city is difficult for anyone; moving to a new city when you have anxiety is harder. I did it and I’m here. That in itself is proof that anxiety does not equal to weakness – don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.