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.

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. 

 

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

We Have To Put An End To These Mass Shootings…

Trigger warning… stay safe, friends.

We absolutely have to. Innocent people are dying because of mass shootings, more in the United States than anywhere else, because we’re simply not doing anything about it.

Are guns the issue? Yes. But do I believe mental health is more of the issue? Yes.

It’s so difficult to find a therapist and/or psychiatrist anywhere you go and if you do find one, they charge an arm and a leg.

It’s beyond time to fix this.

Get people the help they need.

Stop spreading the stigma surrounding mental health because YOU are making it worse.

YOU are making people feel ashamed of getting and asking for help.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, my friends. Normal, stable people don’t go around making plans to kill innocent people in public places where they should feel safe.

Those murderers are/were mentally ill.

The thing that gets me is that someone can be mentally ill, and people look down on them for that, which by the way is something they may not even be able to control. Then when that person asks for help, they get called crazy, they belong in the “looney bin” etc.

Someone is addicted to drugs, and they are looked down upon, and if they decide to detox, they get called crazy and a “crazy addict.”

The stigma that you’re spreading is making people feel like it is looked down upon to get help. They feel like they are worthless for going to a mental institution or going to therapy. They feel ashamed. They feel worthless. And that’s the opposite of how they should feel.

They should feel proud for asking for help. They should feel proud for starting to take control of their issue, whatever it may be.

People that don’t get the help they need turn to more extreme ways to deal with their pain; murder, in this instance.

Mental health is what we need to be talking about. As much as gun control sounds like the issue that needs to be addressed (and in some ways, it is), we have to focus on mental health as well.

The country as a whole is shoving it off to the side. Mental health only matters on certain days of the year, then the very next day nobody cares about it anymore.

Stop shoving it off to the side. Talk about mental health. Stop making people feel worthless for having to go to therapy. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy!!

Be open. Share your story. You might be saving someone’s life. Stop condemning people for going to therapy.

That family member or friend that refuses to go to therapy? Talk with them. Don’t give up on them, and more importantly, do your best to keep an eye on them. They may be needing and wanting to ask for help, but they’re too ashamed to.

We have to do better, my friends.

Depression is real. Mental illness is real. Addiction is real (and is a disease, by the way).

If you’ve never experienced it, that’s great! But that doesn’t mean it’s not real or that you should talk down to people who battle with it daily.

To those in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. You’re in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Stay strong.

2018/2019… let’s do this

(Trigger warning)

2018 was a big year for me, physically and mentally. I can’t say it was all good, as I lost 6 people within my family and friend circle. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that many people in one year. It’s been a heartbreaking year, an eye-opening year, and a victorious year. I can’t believe how much I’ve accomplished. I went into 2018 with a different mindset that I had never had before. I honestly still have no clue where the motivation came from, other than working my butt off in therapy. I didn’t realize my mindset was changing until it hit me like a brick wall.

The year didn’t start off great; my uncle passed away on January 1. I wasn’t as close to him as I had been in my younger years since we lived a state away, but it was still a challenging time. My mother lost her brother, my cousins lost their father. We are now upon the first anniversary of his passing and I know it’s not easier for anyone. In July, I also lost my great uncle. It’s been a rough year for my family.

In previous years, my “new year’s resolution” always included losing weight, but it never worked out because, well, I never worked out. I would work out or diet for maybe a week, maybe two, then go back to my old habits. This year, that would change. I couldn’t lose weight on my own, so I talked to my doctor and she recommended weight loss surgery. I went for it and made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. After 3 months of preparation, dieting, and exercise, I had the surgery in August. I haven’t lost weight at the pace I would have liked, but I’ve still lost weight and I’m okay with that. I still have a long journey ahead of me, but I’m still motivated to get the weight off.

As for the people I’ve lost this year, it was rough. I lost a few close friends and two family members. One of them, though, hit me like nothing has ever hit before.

I started my mental health journey in 2014, and I won’t get into details with that, because I’ve talked about it in previous posts. I was checked into a mental hospital and then immediately started group therapy after I was discharged. The first person that talked to me when I walked up to the door was named Katy, and she ended up becoming one of the most important people I’d ever meet in my life.

There were times during therapy and even outside of therapy that she would talk me through it and help me through it. I remember one day in therapy that I was called on to speak, and I ended up crying… hard. I couldn’t get through what I was trying to say. Katy sat next to me every day, and on this particular day, she looked at me and said, “I promise you that nobody here is going to judge you, and everybody here loves you, including me. I’m right here. Just talk to me.” Those words helped me get through the duration of my time in group therapy.

I learned that she had a lung disease when I would talk to her everyday, but I didn’t know how bad it was. She passed away this year, in June. The bad thing for me is that I didn’t find out until July. I missed her funeral, I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I didn’t get to tell her how much she meant to me. It was heartbreaking. I still think about her and cry. I have never grieved over anyone else as hard as I have grieved over her.

As much as her passing affected me, I didn’t let it slow me down. I couldn’t. I know she would want me to keep working hard on my mental health, so I have. I have progressed, I think, a lot in therapy. I’m working my butt off daily to stay alive. Everybody has bad days, including me, but I get through them. Finn (my dog) is definitely a huge help with that. I’ve accomplished so much mentally, but also physically. I made a lot of progress in school. I’ve been getting out of the house more, but one of the main goals I have for myself is to get out even more. I’ve got so much planned; hiking, dog park visits, walking trails, yard work, and even just sitting outside getting more fresh air.

Health wise, I am going to continue to take care of myself. For so many years, I put my health on the back burner because I hated myself that much. I wanted to die so bad that my life didn’t matter that much. But now, I feel like I need to stay alive, and I want to stay alive. Some days are very difficult, and I still have suicidal thoughts from time to time, but I don’t feel as if I would act upon them now. It’s even kind of crazy to think about because I got so used to thinking I would be better off dead.

Another goal is to blog more! I’ve had to take a few months off from blogging, but I’m back at it. I felt like if I had writer’s block, then it was going to happen whether I wanted it to happen or not, and I didn’t try to force anything.

With all of that being said, I want to know how your year was and how you want 2019 to be. If you had a bad year, it’s okay. Not everyone is going to have a good year. And its okay to have bad days! Even if you have perfect mental health (and no one does), everyone has bad days. Try your hardest to bounce back the next day. I know it’s easier said than done, trust me. Depression is no joke at all. But stay strong for me, for your family, for your friends, your pets, your spouse, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, but most of all, stay strong for yourself. Because you’re worth staying strong for. You’re worth the life that the universe gave you. You matter.

Happy new year, and let’s have a great 2019.

Addiction

I’ve struggled with the thought of posting this because I have been told not to “look up to someone with addiction problems.”

Demi Lovato, though, is more than that. I don’t want to sound like a “fan girl” but I guess I just will. Demi Lovato has saved my life a few times. She’s open about her mental health, addiction being one of the main things. She was sober for six years and recently relapsed and went into the hospital for a possible overdose. Luckily she is okay, and I think about how life would change without one of my role models in it.

I know… “You’ve never even met her.” I realize that. But the cool thing about social media or even speaking out is that you don’t have to meet someone for them to have a major impact on your life or for you to impact someone else.

I honestly have no idea how to even continue because I’m so terrified of how people will react to me freaking out, crying, and worrying so hard about a celebrity. Celebrities are human too though and I think people forget that.

I remember when I was in group therapy, I would drive there every morning listening to “Warrior” by Demi Lovato because it would give me a sense of power before I started my day. I would sing the words to myself when I could and it would help me fight. I was so scared of dying, but I wanted to die. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the truth.

I’m done sounding like a “fan girl” as someone has told me in the past.

Someone with an addiction is crying out for help right now. Are you going to help them, or judge them and ignore them? Despite what some may think, addiction is not a choice. Addiction is a mental illness and people need our help. It doesn’t matter who it is. Demi Lovato is in the news right now, so let’s send her uplifting messages, not messages that put her down or messages saying that you don’t feel sorry for her.

How in the world would that help anyone dealing with an addiction? The human species are supposed to be in this together; this life. So let’s help each other. Really.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction, please seek help. There is no shame. Those that do shame you do not matter. There are so many resources to get help, so please take that first step! You are worth it!

Wanderlust

img_6941I recently starting hiking with my dog and I can’t begin to tell you how much we love it. Nature is just so freeing and I have been beating myself up for not doing this sooner. I am planning trips to better nature trails and hiking areas close to me, as well as even starting to plan and save up for trips that are a little further from me.

There are times when I have to stop and see what I am around, taking in the sounds and even the smells. It’s unreal.

I have heard for a long time that going out in the sun helps depression. For the longest time, I thought that was extremely stupid. I tried even, and it seemed to make it worse sometimes. But hiking is something that is truly helping because I am exploring the stuff around me; I’m not just standing around.

I think I finally found something that works, and now I want to travel the state and beyond to hike and one day, it will happen. And I can’t wait.

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