These Shoes

These shoes have taken me to the place where I would get the diagnoses that would change my life. They have taken me to the place where I have met people that didn’t want the best for me; they wanted to take advantage of me, to see me fail.

These shoes have taken me to places I never want to go again. They have taken me to places where I’ve felt pain, where I’ve felt anxiety, where I’ve felt stuck.

These shoes have taken me to places where I would have to share my feelings with complete strangers and hope that they didn’t judge me. They have taken me to places where I’ve waited and waited to feel whole again, to feel something, anything at all.

But…

These shoes have taken me to places that I recover and try my best to feel significant. They have taken me to the place where I can speak my soul and help it to heal. They have taken me to the place where I can feel free, where I can feel whole, where I can feel human.

People can judge us. They can slander our name. They can look down on us because we’re different than them… but they can’t take our soul. They can’t take our voice. They don’t know our lives or how we live, why we do the things we do. What we have fought for up until this very moment.

These shoes are dirty, beat down, worn out… but nobody can take away what they’ve been through. What I have been through.

Keep fighting for you and I’ll keep fighting for me.

Campfire Thoughts

Campfire with my boys

I’m sitting in front of a campfire with my two dogs next to me, I’m looking up at the night sky and I see the stars, I hear the crickets, I see the fireflies… and nothing could ever beat this feeling.

I haven’t felt this happy and content, stress free, no depression, no anxiety, since 2016 when I sat on the beach literally by myself in Okinawa, Japan. It’s a feeling I didn’t think I’d ever feel again. It’s a feeling I thought was just a once in a lifetime type of thing.

I say all of this because I’ve been depressed lately. It started right around my birthday, which is right on time, because I always start getting those holiday blues around my birthday, which is in early October. I didn’t think I’d get out of it. I kept up with my homework, but that’s about it. I was able to have enough energy to hike just once since it’s cooled off. I’m behind on my chores, like cleaning the house. I’ve just been depressed.

I sat at my desk last night and stared at the sand from the beach in Japan I went to (I collect sand from all the beaches I visit), and I thought to myself, “What if I never feel that feeling again? What if I’m stuck forever in this endless cycle of depression?” I can have great days, but it never fails that the bad days happen a day or two after. I have felt stuck in that endless cycle for a long time now. But that day at the beach in Japan proved to me that I can feel like I’m floating and feel like I have no stress or worries, even if only for an hour. But I always thought I’d never feel it again.

Tonight, while I sit around this campfire, I am feeling it again. There’s no better feeling in the world. Tomorrow, maybe it goes back to normal. Or maybe I can live my life like I’m on that beach or I’m sitting in front of a campfire.

It’s time to start living, man. I have to or I’ll feel stuck in this endless cycle forever. It’s time to start traveling, hiking more, camping more, writing more! I’m feeling so inspired to just… write. Everything. No matter how real or honest it gets. I just want to write. I want to live. I want to breathe and not feel trapped. Things are changing, my friends. Keep up with me or get left behind, because I’m not slowing down.

Just Because I Don’t Work Doesn’t Mean I’m Lazy

Just because I don’t work doesn’t mean I’m lazy.

It’s difficult for me to talk about this, but I feel transparency with my readers and honesty with myself requires me to talk about it.

I haven’t worked in almost 5 1/2 years. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past 5 years, you know I battle with MDD (major depressive disorder), social anxiety, and a few other things. When I was diagnosed in 2014, it was at a mental hospital where I stayed for 7 days. I had a mental breakdown. I tried to die by suicide. I was ready to either die or to leave and never look back.

I wasn’t able to go back to work. I was in therapy 5 days a week for 5 hours a day. Even if I wanted to go back to work, I couldn’t. I decided applying for Social Security Disability benefits would be my best bet. People told me it would take months, maybe even a year or two before I would be approved. They told me it would take more than one try. I was discouraged by that, but I applied anyway. I got approved the first time.

From that time until even today, I feel guilty because I don’t work. There are days when I’m exhausted and don’t do anything except watch a movie on Netflix or walk the dogs, and it makes me feel extremely guilty. It makes me feel lazy. It makes me feel ashamed. I’m 29 years old and I still live with parents because I can’t afford to live on my own, and even if I could, I would be terrified to live by myself.

As I type this, I realize I am basically explaining myself, but deep down I know I don’t have to. If I could work, I would. Those that don’t know my story might view me as lazy, but that’s just it…

They don’t know my story. I do not have to explain myself. What people think about me does not determine my worth.

I constantly have to remind myself of those things. From my point of view, I have a reason I don’t have a job. A legit reason. But my anxiety tells me that people judge me and think I’m lazy just because I happen to be a millennial, and millennials are apparently notoriously lazy.

Believe it or not, depression is the second most common medical condition listed on Social Security disability applications.

I know what you’re saying… “Those people just need to suck it up and go to work.” It’s not that simple. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to be able to tell you how not simple it really is. Mental health awareness has truly come a long way in recent years. People are starting to realize that depression is not just this made up thing that people make up to have an excuse for not being able to handle something, for crying unexpectedly, not being able to get out of bed, etc.

Truly people would not choose to have depression if they had a choice. I definitely would not. I want to be normal. I want to feel normal. I want to be a stereotypical hardworking American. But I can’t. I’ve tried. And that’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty for not being able to work. I have a steady monthly income, I help my parents around the house, I do odd jobs (like dog sitting for friends) to have a small extra income, I go to therapy every week… ah, here I am explaining myself again.

If you struggle with a mental illness and you come to terms with the fact that maybe you’re one of those people that just can’t seem to find a job and hold on to it because of depression and/or anxiety, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one. And it’s not your fault. Just do me a favor and stay in therapy (most of the time its required to be approved for disability benefits for a mental illness)… it’s such an amazing service and tool for you to have. Take advantage of it.

Just because I don’t work doesn’t mean I’m lazy. 

 

October 2019 Contributor: Faithe Henry

Today in the United States, we face a serious problem with mental health. See, the problem doesn’t solely lie with under knowledge of all types of mental health. The biggest problems in my opinion are over- and under-diagnosis.

A lot of children are over-diagnosed with mental health issues, such as ADD and ADHD. Additionally, most adults aren’t properly diagnosed with possible depression, anxiety, and other such issues.

With that being said, let’s also think about the way we label such “issues.” These diagnoses should never be considered problematic in the way people today look at them.

Allow me to clarify.

I myself, as an adult, have been diagnosed with anxiety, extreme recurring depression, and to top it all off, bottled emotions. Now, to me, depending on a lot of things, these diagnoses can be problematic. Yet they shouldn’t be problematic to a stranger to the point that I am being judged solely on said diagnosis. I am not crazy, I am not going to go crazy, and I work hard every day to fight through these personal problems I deal with.

There are so many other adults that don’t get the diagnosis they need to tell them they aren’t crazy, and that they aren’t a burden to anyone. But mostly you can feel better and be yourself without feeling totally unloved or forgotten.

Then we face the fact that not everyone’s depression or anxiety is the same. I personally believe that’s why so many people are not diagnosed. To those people out there, there are so many people that are and have gone through this, so don’t believe you’re alone in this!

As for our children, I personally find too many children are being diagnosed with things that are just the way children are suppose to be. Our children are not toys to sit on a shelf or go to a class room to just listen, learn, and repeat. They are children and need to be allowed to be such. They should be able to run around, have bad days, not listen and just throw a hissy fit on occasion. They are still just kids and are always human.

Take a minute with your children and find the problem, and then find the solution. Then fix it in the way it should be done. Just because your child doesn’t just sit down and be quiet doesn’t mean they have ADHD. We as parents need to do more for and with our children. Heck, they may have some good points to teach us! Maybe if we actually let our feelings out more often a few people wouldn’t have some of the mental health issues they have.

Let’s say you have a bad day at work; don’t bottle it up, don’t take it out on your loved ones. When you get home, go somewhere and throw a hissy fit for a minute. Find a safe way to take out your frustrations without hurting yourself or others.

There are so many other mental health issues out there, and I am no where near a professional. I am still researching my diagnosis and finding what works for me. The same thing doesn’t work for everyone. Just remember if you are out there and feel alone, unloved, and that you aren’t yourself, there are people out there in the same shoes as you.

I know I don’t mind talking about my problems and will happily help anyone I can with theirs. Please remember someone cares and loves you.

 

Faithe Henry

Answering Your Questions, part II

I am answering ten more questions that I have gotten from readers and a couple that I looked up that seemed like they would be interesting to answer! Thanks again for all the responses!

  • What is on your current playlist and what does your playlist say about you?

My current playlist is all over the place. I’ve got a lot of different genres, upbeat, with a wide variety of lyrical topics, but mostly inspiring. I think my playlist says that I’m open to anything musically, but also trying to remain upbeat in my life currently. I have to say I am listening to a lot of Lizzo lately!

  • How do you show yourself love?

I take care of myself by remaining mindful of things that need to get done, but also being mindful of the food I eat, the amount of exercise I get (or don’t get) for the day, being mindful of the music I listen to based on my current mood… if I’m depressed, I do my best to listen to upbeat and inspiring songs. Mindfulness is key when showing yourself love! I always make sure to sit down for a few minutes, or shoot, even hours sometimes, and watching my favorite show or movie, listening to my favorite song, whatever it takes.

  • How do you stay productive?

Sometimes I have to make myself be productive, honestly. But other days when I know I have to get stuff done, like my homework, then I just do it. I think I’ve conditioned myself enough when it comes to homework to do it on certain days. Otherwise, sometimes I just have to make myself be productive, and I know that that is okay. I have to constantly remind myself that if I don’t have much of a productive day that tomorrow is a new day!

  • What were some red flags you saw that made you consider burning bridges?

Red flags are sometimes right in front of our faces, but we don’t recognize them simply because we don’t want to. I started burning bridges when I started realizing that my well-being and my mental health are worth way more than constantly being taken advantage of, lied to, cheated on, manipulated, talked about, etc. When someone truly cannot be happy for you when you succeed at something, there is a red flag. That means that they need that upper hand, that feeling of being the best, and you’re not allowed to have it. Or… they simply don’t care that you succeeded at something. That’s when you know that person doesn’t belong in your life. When you feel like you have to fight for their attention, and when you do get it, it’s a constant competition or a constant struggle to keep their attention, let it go. It’s not worth it anymore. When you’re never included in their plans but they get mad when they’re not in your plans, there’s another red flag. You don’t need that kind of toxic negativity in your life. Nobody does. But when those toxic people refuse to see their toxicity and try to fix it, let them go.

  • Where do you want to go, and what do you want to accomplish with your writing?

My writing started off as something fun, random, off the wall… I knew I was okay at it, but I never had any intention of doing anything with it. Now that I’m older and I’ve been writing for more than 20 years, I feel like it’s turned into something so much more for me. It’s therapeutic. It allows me to be vulnerable and advocate for something that means the world to me. I don’t have the talent of public speaking; that terrifies me to no end. But when I write, I feel like I can conquer anything. My main goal for my writing is to inspire people. When I realized that advocacy and helping people might be my purpose in this world, I turned my random, off the wall writing into something that might mean something to someone one day. If I inspire only one person to feel like they’re worth so much more than what their thoughts are telling them, I feel like I’ve fulfilled my purpose in the world. As for where I want to go, I love writing, I love research, I love analyzing data, so I’d love to use those things to my advantage. But I know I can also put those hobbies to use professionally and personally by hopefully helping those dealing with mental illness.

  • If you could invite three people to dinner, who would you invite? What would you talk about?

I’m going to assume this question means only real people and not fictional characters, and both alive and deceased.

If I could invite three people to dinner, I’d invite my best friend Katy that passed away last year, Kelly Clarkson, and my mother. I know it’s quite a difference there, but I’ve strategically picked these people because all three of them have had such an undeniable impact on my life and on my own mental health. I picked Katy because I feel like I’d have so many less regrets if I could just talk to her one last time about anything and everything. I picked Kelly because she’s my favorite singer, yes, but she seems like she’s such an amazing person to be around. I feel like maybe I could convince her to talk about mental health on her new show or something, I don’t know. As for my mother, I talk to her every single day and we still always have something to talk about. I just love being around her and talking about everything.

  • Where is your writing place?

Believe it or not, my writing place is always in my room at my desk. I rarely ever get inspired anywhere else. My little corner is my inspiration station!

  • Describe your writing process.

My writing process is somewhat all over the place, but I have a notebook with my notes in it. I look through the notes, start writing what’s on my mind and just let my fingers keep moving. I’ll go through and edit here and there, but I’m a perfectionist so I usually fix the errors right away. It doesn’t take much for me to just keep writing. I usually always have music playing, but I focus a lot better when I have my headphones rather the music just playing through my blue tooth speaker. My writing process is boring and not fancy at all, but it works for me.

  • If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

Easy. I would get rid of the social anxiety. I know this is against the “rules,” but another thing: I’d go back in time and stand up for myself against the people that bullied me.

  • Who are five bloggers/writers that inspire you?

Ooh, five? This one is difficult.

  1. Matt Haig. He’s my favorite author and a fellow mental health advocate. I love his writing style and how transparent and vulnerable he is in his writing about his own struggles with depression and anxiety.
  2. Jarrid Wilson. He was a pastor and writer that was also a fellow mental health advocate. He recently died by suicide, which was so incredibly rough to hear about since he was such an incredible advocate for people struggling with depression.
  3. Jamie Tworkowski. He founded one of my favorite mental health organizations, To Write Love On Her Arms. He’s such an incredible writer. He’s open, honest, and compassionate in his writing.
  4. Lindsey Hall. She’s a writer of a blog called I Haven’t Shaved In 6 Days. I just recently discovered her and I love her writing style, but also how honest she is.
  5. Kati Morton. She is a writer and licensed therapist. Her book Are U Ok? was so helpful for me, even when I had known about a good bit about the stuff she was writing at the time I read the book (It’s hard to be in therapy and a psychology major and not learn a crap ton of stuff). She’s also a YouTuber who is one of two YouTubers I still actively watch.

That’s all the questions! Thank you for submitting questions and/or reading!

Ali Vee

 

Just another cheesy post…

I was sitting at my desk today and was just thinking to myself while I mindlessly changed tabs… I have had a productive day today despite waking up in a terrible mood, pretty sure I was close to a mental breakdown, and really just wanting to throw myself a pity party. Last week, I had a horrific day; depressed, even harmful thoughts… I pulled myself out of it. Today, I pulled myself out of it.

I’ve been working my tail off in therapy, trying hard to make steps forward instead of steps backward. I’m working through my thoughts, through my depression, anxiety, OCD… but I still have my bad days. The difference between now and even just five years ago is that I am able to focus on getting out of that funk, that depression. I have a way to go with the anxiety, but I can tell I’m making progress and so can my therapist.

If you had asked me five years ago if I could pull myself out of a depressive episode and continue to fight and not give in to the harmful thoughts, I would have looked at you funny and probably laughed. I’ve also learned in therapy that it’s perfectly okay to be proud of myself and that it’s not selfish to be proud of myself like I always thought it was. Honestly, it feels weird…

My point is this: keep fighting. Yeah, I know I say that a lot. But if I had given in to those harmful thoughts last week, I would be back to square one. And guess what? I didn’t and I’m not back at square one. I had a horrific day, but I’m here. I’m alive. I’m not in any extra amount of pain.

I think you can do it too. I know you can do it too. Fighting this battle with depression is difficult, but I finally realize that it’s worth it.

I know it’s way more easy to say it than do it, but once you realize you can do it, and honestly you’ve done it before, then you can do anything you put your mind to.

I realize all of this sounds super cheesy, but I don’t care. I believe in myself now, especially after last week, and I believe in you!

Ali Vee

black and white laptop
Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

World Suicide Prevention Day

I should have died 5 years ago, but it was like an actual hand pulled the gun away from my head and a voice told me to call my mom. And life got better. It didn’t get perfect, and sometimes it doesn’t feel easier. But I promise you, it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

Stay alive for me. Stay alive for your pets, your parents, your siblings, your job, whatever it is. But most of all, Stay Alive for yourself. Give yourself the chance to experience new things. You are loved and you are worth taking up space in this world.

I never thought I’d ever be able to go to college. People (mostly classmates/bullies) always told me I was stupid because I didn’t talk until the 8th grade. They told me I’d never be able to do certain things because I didn’t talk. They told me I was ugly, stupid, mute, castoff… Teachers didn’t want to help because I was too much work, guidance counselors sent me to the school nurse and even therapists, doctors said “well she just needs to talk.” I had a teacher even send me to the principal’s office because I was too terrified to answer her question in front of the class.

I wasn’t supposed to be happy. That’s what everyone wanted. They enjoyed seeing me fail because it made them look better. It made them feel better when I would cry in front of the class. I caused people frustration, people took offense, they called me “their special project” and didn’t mean it in a good way…

I’ll be 29 in less than a month. Do you think I thought I’d ever make it to 29? I didn’t think I’d make it to 20, and I sure as hell didn’t think I’d make it to 25.

I’m a junior in college. I’ll be a senior in April, and I’ll be done with my Bachelor’s degree program in November 2020. I’m proving so many people wrong and I have no plans to stop.

Yeah I’m in therapy every week, I’ve been to a mental institution a couple times, so what? It helps me. Those things helped make me strong and I live now for myself. For my dog. For those drives in my Jeep. For the day I can say I graduated college and made my parents proud.

And that is why I continue to fight.

Don’t give up hope. The battles you’re fighting today will make you stronger in the future.

#WorldSuicidePreventionDay