“Why do you talk about mental health?”

I asked strangers on the internet to send me questions yesterday so I could film a video, and I got a lot of fun things to talk about, but one pretty heavy question that I actually get very often; “Why do you talk about mental health?”

Until this year I only really chalked it up to “because I want to.” It started as a coping mechanism for myself to log my emotions and try to clear my mind that has now grown in to a bit of an obsession for me.

I didn’t really realise it’s importance to me until April when my dad told me to stop writing about my mental health and my experiences in my life that have influenced the person I am today. [This story is a lot a larger than that, but that’s all I can say right now. My dad has since been able to understand things on my end, and all is as well as can be.] I was incredibly enraged to the point that if I had to choose between him and writing, I would choose writing. But, something quite incredible happened.

In my life, I feel like I’ve always had to lessen myself in order to “be the bigger person”. But by accepting my mental health more and more, I’ve realised that sometimes being the bigger person means doing what is best for you. For once I fought head on for what I enjoy. I was able to use all the messages strangers have sent me; how I’ve helped them, advice they’ve given me, stories people vent to me when they feel no one else can listen.

I realised that this is much more than just ‘venting’ for me. I genuinely hope that the things I say can help others. Especially people who feel that they cannot talk to anyone or relate to anyone. However, when I was asked this question yesterday, I kind of realised something else.

Yesterday was the year marker for Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester, on his suicide. I was pretty caught up in my feelings about it and also disappointed in how people react to suicide, and I realised… if I ever decide to kill myself, I don’t want anyone to feel surprised.

That’s probably why people like me can joke so easily about it. I understand that this is a complicated matter to people who don’t really get it… people always think that if you hear someone joke about death or talk about sadness, then you should step in and “help them”. But, this is just how we live. Death is an every day theme for us. An every day consideration. And there’s nothing you can do to change that. Support simply just makes the day to day a little easier. Which in some cases is all it takes, but mental health is a spectrum and it’s not the same for everyone.

But in my case, I guess I want people to know that it’s a possibility to me. I don’t want people to see my name pop up in a newspaper or someone’s facebook status and think, “Wow… I never would have thought.” “What could I have done?” “I guess I should have taken her more seriously when she said xx.” I just can’t imagine leaving that kind of thought behind. Like anyone could have made me make a different choice. Because that’s not how it works in most cases.

It’s really kind of fucked up to write it out like that when I read it back. And for reassurance to anyone reading, it’s not something I’m actively pursuing. However, death is apart of me as it is for so many other people. And I guess by writing about it I hope to be a comfort to people who deal with it, while also trying to offer insight to those who can’t really ever understand it because it’s not something they face.

With chronic mental illness there aren’t guarantees. But that’s how life is in general, right? No one knows what even a few hours can bring. All we can do is be kind, and honest, and offer others support and hope for the best in life. And I guess when I write, I just want to offer those things like support and honesty and kindness to others.

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If I Ever Have A Baby.

There is a story in my life that I have always wanted to tell. I feel with each passing month I’m gaining the confidence to to share it, however tensions are still high, and for the courtesy of someone I care about, I’m giving things ample time to run their course.

In a short explanation; in my writing I refer a lot to my childhood and forces that I could not control that played a huge role in my mental frame and how I view myself. I believe I was born depressed, but my experiences since I was young may play a huge part in my paranoia of the world and the humans that inhabit it. It’s unfortunate, but some kids see and hurt a little too much before they’re even old enough for elementary school.

I feel like, despite the things I saw and felt during those young tender years, I was still a spunky and confident little boyish girl. But as life happens, sometimes we aren’t met with the best influences. It’s difficult because sometimes maybe people genuinely believe that they are trying to help you. Perhaps they’re sick too and believe by cutting a person down, it’s the best way to make them prepared for the “real world”.

For most of my life I’ve been a source of someone else’s hatred and pain. A constant reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I’ve tried desperately to cling on to hope that one day I’d be so far away that they couldn’t reach me anymore, but no matter how far I distance myself, they always catch me somewhere along the road.

There was a time when I just took the beating. The onslaught of words that cut like razor blades. I wanted my outside to look as damaged as my inside, and I’ve hurt myself a lot over the years. But, I still can’t feel like I can blame anyone. Because everyone is hurting, and if I’m the source of pain, then naturally they would lash out, right? For the sake of keeping the peace I’ve always apologised and tried to become smaller and smaller until I couldn’t even see myself. Sometimes I still can’t see myself…

But this year I said no more. Because despite the negative emotions I have to battle inside my head every single hour of the day, I have found so much love in this world. I’ve made life long friendships. I’m experiencing a healthy romance. I’ve been working on reconnecting with family. And also trying to learn to love myself more and more.

Even so… after completely erasing someone from my world, I find that I’m still hurting their life. That what I choose to do in life could still negatively effect people I care about because this person is so unhappy… That if I had a child then a marriage would be ruined?

Maybe it’s best we don’t hear everything someone thinks about us.

It’s hard to explain those words about me ruining a marriage when I can’t yet explain the whole story. But I was shocked that ultimatums like this are given to people you care about. To make people that care about one another divide to cater to your pain. I can’t understand it at all. And people I care about want me to one day resolve these issues?

I’m really not sure I ever could. Because if I had a child, it would be seen as another seed of hatred. And it terrifies me to my core to think that this human that doesn’t even exist is already despised. How could I ever allow a tiny innocent soul to ever be around feelings like that?

I absolutely never would.

If I ever had a child I would be sure that this soul was filled to the brim with love. That even when they needed to be scolded, told no, smacked on the butt, etc. They would always, always, always, be given an explanation that didn’t cut them down for who they are. Whenever they were in trouble or accused of something, I would also listen to their side of the story first and we’d have a conversation before we discuss consequences of any actions. When they achieved in school, sports, art, anything, I’d be there as their biggest fan. And if for whatever reason the father of this child could not love me and raise this child in the same home, I would show nothing but compassion for that father when the child is involved because there would be no doubt that he would love this tiny soul too. My negative feelings are separate from this child.

In terms of my mental health, we would have an open dialogue. They would know that mom is “sick” and sometimes gets moody and quiet and cries. They would know that it is never their fault. And they would know that if they ever felt this way that I am with the most open of arms here to support them no matter how crazy they feel.

I would never make them feel like they owed me a thing because they did not ask to be apart of my life. I think we should be stern with our children, but at the end of the day, they should never question if they are loved.

If I ever had a child they would not live my story. But they are welcome to read a few chapters from my book and choose to see the world how they wish to see it. This child would have so much love from the people in their life that one person couldn’t even put a dent in the shield of smiles that surround them.

And even though I’ve never really wanted to have a baby. And the thought of having one terrifies me more than anything in the world. Just having been told those words recently makes me want to be even stronger and kinder for and to those around me to build a world that if this soul ever came into my life, I could be and do all these things I have written.

I don’t regret any choice I’ve made this past year.

Sometimes we’re just bored.

I feel like this isn’t really a blog that people will be able to digest so easily, because how can you just accept something that everyone seems unable to grasp. Death.

Death is, to our knowledge, unavoidable. I feel like the notion of death scares most people, so they tend to disregard it entirely unless they are forced to face it. So how could anyone choose to welcome death?

I’m not sure I’ve written about this, but for awhile I’ve been tempted to.

Recently in the past few years it seems like more and more celebrities are gaining attention for committing suicide. Like it’s something new. I saw an article the other day discussing the increase in the acts of suicide overall. And to my incredible annoyance, because of these two things, everyone seems to think they are a mental health expert now. So I felt like making a few things clear.

Note: I’m no expert either. Just your run of the mill depressed person with a side of anxiety and these are only my observations and opinions. Every individual is different and requires attention catered to their INDIVIDUAL needs.

There are MANY different types of depression. There are MANY different ways to handle the various thoughts and situations people tend to find themselves in. Every individual requires something different.

For some people, they have experienced a depressive episode. They don’t suffer from a depression disorder, but just like anyone, they go through the ups and downs of life, which some times have depressing periods. In this case, talking with people is probably best. A person can relate and see that they are not alone and that all of us experience these day to day life battles. Eventually things get better, and those feelings pass. Maybe to occur again when times get rough. But it’s a very natural come and go type of thing.

Then there are people who live like this EVERY SINGLE DAY. For me, I personally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t think about death or wanting to die. I believe I was born this way. So, I believe that others can be born this way. There are millions of variables that could lead to someone developing a depression disorder. I don’t feel like diving into the childhood aspect of things.

In either case, there is no one solution. And there is NO cure for depression. Some people are lucky to shake it off somehow. They somehow get to a point in life where their brain seems to function in a way that society deems as normal. I don’t know how the fuck that happens. I consider them the lucky ones.

But there are some people who no matter what we do, it doesn’t change how our brain works. I’ve had various run ins with counsellors growing up, whom all made me feel absolutely worse for talking about my problems. It wasn’t until my early 20s I found someone that was able to introduce to me to what I would consider the proper foundation to work with. And though the tools I have allow me to create a conversation with myself, they are not a cure. They do not make me feel overall better and “okay”. People without depression have absolutely no idea what it feels like to fight the inside of your head over every thought every fucking day. It’s exhausting.

People think it’s so simple. Just call this number or find a therapist. Have you ever called that number? The results are always varied. You might get a good person that knows how to talk to people. You might get someone that actually confirms your choice to kill yourself. Well then, just go to therapy, right? It can take YEARS to find someone compatible for you. I’ve had friends call me straight after seeing a therapist SOBBING that the person made them feel stupid and they felt no one could help them. There is no easy fix all solution.

But here’s the real kicker. Sometimes we are going to kill ourselves no matter what. I for one, completely respect it. Is it sad? Are people left behind hurting? Do I wish everyone could push on and die naturally? Of fucking course. But guess what… we don’t get to decide that.

People with mental illness can kill themselves for various reasons. Not just because they are sad or upset about something. Sometimes we’re happy when we want to die. Things have been going spectacular lately, and it’d be great to die that way. Sometimes, I’ve had conversations like this, we’re just fucking bored. Nothing in life is particularly amusing. We’re just going through the motions. The same as everyone else. It’s dull. Even if we’re having a nice moment, it’s still boring. Dying just seems like something interesting to do. The grand adventure.

Not everyone with depression needs a hand to hold. A lot of us would rather be left alone to digest our feelings until it passes and feel like we can fit the mask of society again for a little while.

Though I think everyone in our spectrum appreciates that others want to create a dialogue, it’s a little frustrating that no one wants to listen to the people who actually live this life.

Personally, I think the best thing that you could do to help people with depression is work towards a better world. Because our world and how we treat nature and each other these days is in shambles. My greatest “I have to keep living” moments come from my travels and meeting new people while learning about different ways to live. Will this alway sustain me? Who knows. But I genuinely believe that if we had a world full of more compassion and acceptance for what makes us different, suicide and depression wouldn’t be as common as it has become.

But, that’s just my opinion.

Playing victim to my fears.

It’s no secret to the people that know me that I am the worst when it comes to change, the unknown, and things that are out of my control. But I’ve learned something valuable these past couple of months.

During Christmas of last year I landed in the Yucatan of Mexico. I was feeling rather depressed about my closest friends having left for Japan to spend another glorious year of challenges while I was left in what I believed to be the depressing, boring, every day routine that is life in my city. I was beat down with anxiety about being surrounded by family during the holiday season when I was feeling like a failure. So, as I tend to do, I wanted to run from all of these feelings to some place beautiful. I wanted to find inspiration that I felt I was lacking, and learn to become a better version of myself again.

I hadn’t expected to start that journey in Mexico. My first night I was sucked into panic attacks and dread about a new country and all of the things I couldn’t predict. I couldn’t speak Spanish. I couldn’t read signs. My family was probably saying bad things about me for skipping Christmas. So, I bought a journal and began to write about reasons the past year perhaps hadn’t been going my way.

The more I wrote down the events of the past year. The deaths. The stupid actions. My thoughts. My feelings. The more they sounded like excuses. Of course all of these obstacles play a role in shaping my thoughts, but at the end of the day, I realised that I’m just scared. I was afraid to face my family. I was afraid to face new trials in an unknown world after university. I accepted my defeats as faults in myself instead of learning and growing. And I was afraid to face myself. I was afraid to admit my own wrongs.

On my journey in “becoming a better me” I’ve been through a few phases. First was accepting what others had done to me that I couldn’t control. But, for a period all I could do was blame them. Second, was a time frame of accepting myself for my “faults”, but not taking responsibility with how those things could hurt others. Now I am on a path of accepting myself for who I am and how my brain works, but trying to work with others in a way we can coexist and accept each other. I am a very flawed person with extreme ways of thinking. Along with much of the world. We all really aren’t that different in how we feel about ourselves.

I’ve spent the past few months dealing out many apologies and explanations for how I chose to handle the life I was given. I’ve been met with a lot of acceptance. Humans are surprising. We can hurt each other and cause massive confusion in the lives of others, and yet our ability to care for another can always outweigh these pains.

Recently I’ve been faced with something interesting. The initial attack was nothing new in my life. You see, I have someone that hates me very much. Or at least someone who likes to blame me for everything in their life that they find distasteful. And I can understand that as a person who used to do the same thing. This person tried to take away my family. At least those are my personal feelings. I grew up thinking that this was okay.

In the past, I was the type of person that would let this happen. I would back down and isolate for fear of “losing”. For fear that I was the sole factor of this person’s pain. I was actually a problem to everyone in my life and without me, they could all find happiness. I was afraid to accept those things as false, because then what was I without my pain?

But for the first time I truly stood up for myself. I was unafraid of the consequences to what I had to say and how I felt. I spoke up to those around me. I found support and I made a change. Even though I feel a lot of hurt, even though I can’t control the outcome for others, I can control my own outcome.

I want to continue to apply this to the rest of my life. I let these fears of change, the unknown, lack of control, control me. “What if” haunts every thought in my mind. But, I’m learning to rise above that. I really hope I can find a way of life where I continue to push myself through these negative feelings. Even as I write this, part of me laughs because, “there’s no way I can overcome this”. But, I only let myself down if I don’t push on past what scares me.

I always celebrate others. I always love everyone as their own complex individuals, even if I can’t stand them. For once, I’d like to celebrate myself.

I think that owning up to your insecurities, the ways you’ve hurt others, and the ways you’ve hurt yourself are scary to think about. But we can’t get over our fear of the monsters in the closet if we don’t sleep with the door open for a night.

The Future.

It’s graduation time once again. Even though it’s been a year since my own graduation, I’m still bitter. I remember being enrolled in my undergraduate program and seeing people before me graduate. The cheesy cap and gown photos… the families making a big fuss… I longed for that kind of feeling… a sense of accomplishment. To think, despite everything growing up, I had come so far.

Mine was a little different though… I had worried about being an inconvenience… I had filled myself with so much anxiety that select people in my life would complain about the hours spent at a graduation ceremony. They would deem it a waste of time and a day I was excited about would be ruined. I decided to believe myself that a graduation ceremony was a waste of time and money. So I opted not to graduate that way and invited family for dinner instead. A dinner which no one was bothered to come to. And like so many other times in my life I brushed it off. Who needs family, right?

I realised today I’ve been holding on to that bitterness ever since. But, I want to change my attitude to never let myself or others feel like their accomplishments aren’t worth celebrating.

You see, I have incredible friends. Three special humans that put all of their own differences aside, their own stresses, etc, and took me downtown for dinner and drinks. Seeing all of the families around me celebrate was hard… and I wanted mostly to just cry and lock myself away. But here I was with these three smiling faces that refused to let me be alone. The same way that they had been doing for the past couple of years. The family holidays I would skip. The no good boys I would cry over. ALL of the stupid shit I would do or say. My anxieties. My depression. My sometimes rude sense of humour. My struggles in Japan. And even now I as I look to the future with uncertainty.

Those are the memories and feelings I should hold on to. People like that are the only ones that should matter during my accomplishments.

I spent some time after graduation feeling sorry for myself. And that’s something I never want to do again. Nearly all of my life I have spent placing my worth in the hands of people who simply will never be pleased with anything I do. Be it family, strangers, or people I had called friends. The truth in life is that sometimes, certain people come along and can not accept us as we are. And that’s no one’s fault.

I don’t want to live a life where I feel sorry for myself. And I certainly don’t want to blame others. What does that do? I want to just spread positivity, especially on the days that are hard for me. Because, let’s face it, even though I’m saying all of these things, I’m going to be sad, and mad, and so hurt some days over events of the past.

But all we can do is aim to grow stronger and build something brighter. Surround ourselves with people who bring light into our lives despite the darkness we wish to bury ourselves in.

I don’t know about my future. I don’t know if the things I’m stressed over now will pay off. I won’t be able to meet the timelines of others. My way might not be the best way. But it is my life, and the only thing I can try to control is what I put into it. And the people I allow to be involved in it.

So if you’re ever questioning yourself… am I doing a good job? Is it okay to celebrate this? Am I awesome? If you have to ask yourself, then you’re doing just fine. Even if it feels like your family or friends or anyone isn’t rooting for you, I can guarantee that people are.  The amount of times in the past few years that I’ve gotten messages from near strangers or people I haven’t talked to since high school just to tell me they get inspired from me or to offer encouragement is wild. We may feel alone, but we never really are.

So yeah, you’re awesome. And make the future whatever you want it to be.

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The Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming

I’m noticing that every Spring I come face to face with the same feelings. Somewhere in the coldness of Winter’s grip I tend to lose something… They say that’s pretty common for everyone; “seasonal depression”. The days are short, cloudy, and cold. We keep hidden in doors and under thick blankets while breathing in the same suffocating air for months at a time. The holidays creep up on me and I’m reminded of feelings that I wish I could have left at the doors of my childhood home. Winter is not my most sparkly moment despite my love for Christmas lights and fireworks and the fresh start of a new year.

I write about this all of the time lately. Honestly, I’m sick of hearing it myself. But, maybe that means I’m getting to the point I need to be. Usually once I piss myself off enough, I can finally change in the ways I’ve only been longing for. Since coming back to America I’ve regressed into the timid girl I was before I started working so hard to accomplish my dreams. I let people tell me I was stupid, childish, making all the wrong choices. I allowed the disappointing moments dictate how I would move forward. I’ve fallen deep into depression and self hatred that I haven’t been able to shake for the past year.

But today, the sun is shining. People are in good spirits for the Irish holiday, I’m in a cafe that’s playing reggae music working on which will hopefully be an accomplishment soon, looking forward to seeing someone special as the day passes, and I’m mostly content.

Maybe I’m not where I want to be yet. I don’t even know where that is anymore.

But, the cherry blossoms are blooming. And I want to with Spring as well. However, the sakura trees are such a short lived thing… As soon as they come, they are gone, and though these delicate flowers always seem to come and save my life every time I am falling, I shouldn’t focus on being like them as I have until now. I should be stronger and more vibrant. I should allow my own branches to stretch higher and let myself bloom so high into the clouds that no one else can ever pluck me back to the ground.

This year’s spring, I want to be stronger than the person that I keep wishing I still was. I’ve been looking at that version of myself as the strongest version, but if she was really that strong, she wouldn’t have allowed herself to succumb to the negativity that has always held her down once again.

I want to recognise my own accomplishments for what they are to me, not to anyone else. I want to walk at my own pace and not care anymore where others say I should be.

Negative Reactions

I spent half of today in the hospital, wearing one of those super trendy robes where your bare tush hangs out the back. And all I could think about was how I was inconveniencing everyone around me. How these busy nurses had to run tests when there were probably other people more worse than I was. How I should be with my students and professor grading homework. How my boyfriend could be sleeping in instead of sitting by my side. How at work everyone had to accommodate for my absence.

So after all was said and done and I was assured the first doctor was just being over pre-cautious by sending me to the ER, I felt even more that I had wasted everyone’s time when all I left with was a positive influenza result. I quickly felt upset with myself that people were worried over me. And I remembered all the times I was made to feel ashamed for concerns in my health.

The time in high school when I made some stupid choices and had to go to the hospital for a rapid beating heart. The time when I wasn’t sure what a panic attack was. When I had a kidney stone. When I was small and had the worst migraine.

Each time someone in my life made me feel that I was inconveniencing them. So today when my boyfriend was genuinely worried, I mistook his feelings as being annoyed by me. That I’m just this weak person that gets sent to the hospital and can’t take care of herself. That I’m consumed by anxiety most of the time. That I over think the most small things and seem to cry all the time. That I can’t pick a life path because they all seem meaningless.

And since earlier I’ve been thinking how sad that is. That there are tons of people like me that have been made to feel that way. That our worth is based on how much others perceive our strengths. That even when kind people enter our lives we have no idea how to accept genuine care from another person. And I’m realising that I’m kind of terrified to accept that sort of thing. Because what if people change? What if I am as awful as people have made me out to be? And what if I accepted this kindness just to see it turned around?

But I want to learn to not always think in the worst case scenario. I want to believe that there are people capable of accepting others just as they are.  And I want to believe that I’m worth that much.

Just my thoughts today as I’m ordered to rest in bed.