The Broken Record of Silently Suffering

This week has been a tough one for those of us with mental illnesses with the sudden passing of designer Kate Spade earlier in the week and then today’s morning news of the death of Anthony Bourdain.  The sudden deaths of these wildly talented celebrities sheds light and sparks a much needed conversation about mental health and how it needs to be seen as just as important as any other kind of health we monitor on a regular basis.

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 3.14.48 PMAccording to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Almost 75% of people with mental disorders remain untreated in developing countries with almost 1 million people taking their lives each year. In addition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally suffers from anxiety. The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide with specific phobia, major depressive disorder and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders.

While these statistics are bandied around anytimea tragedy such as this happens it doesn’t help those that are just trying to survive day to day no matter how “together” they seem because sometimes the strongest people are going through some deep and dark things that they don’t want to bother someone else with because they feel like they’ll be a burden to anyone they talk to. This has been my personal experience anyways, since I too struggle with depression and anxiety. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to get out of bed and work my retail job where I have to have a feign happiness even if I’m feeling completely empty inside.

According to The Huffington Post, 50 percent of Americans with major depression don’t seek treatment. The stigma surrounding mental health is something that is doing more harm than good to Americans and many other countries citizens. However, there are some countries that care far more about their citizens then the current state of America does.

Unfortunately, I and many others are not immune to the sadness that comes when a loved one commits suicide. However, there are many resources available for survivors and those suffering:  1-800-273-8255 is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Along with the number one of the best resources is you. If you notice that one of your friends or family members is becoming increasingly withdrawn or distant from you and your loved ones gently take them aside and try to have a conversation with them to see if there’s anything that you can do for them to help them out and to make them feel less alone.

As reported by The World Health Organization (WHO)  each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds.

You are loved and needed on this earth and you are not alone. Please reach out or reach out to those in your life that seem to have become more withdrawn and distant or are just the strong friend that doesn’t seem to need anyone, because there’s a good chance that they do and they’re just really good at hiding it.

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The Loneliness of Higher Education

Well, I’ve made it. It only took my 10 years, but this fall I finally got to proudly declare that this is in fact my final semester as a college student and that I would be graduating at the end of term.

However, as I posted that jovial post across my social media platforms I had a weird feeling in my stomach. An emptiness of sorts. Not because of my lack of my food that morning, though it probably had something to do with it. It was more the realization that I am going to be graduating once again another year behind my friends. Unfortunately last May a lot of my friends that I loved and had even started out my college career with turned their own tassels and took that step closer to adulthood and real life.

Now that I’m a college graduate the loneliness has really began to set in. Especially because I’m still living on my mom’s couch and because the current state of affairs is, for lack of a better word, insane. It also doesn’t help much that my mom lives 25 minutes away from anything resembling a city, but I don’t mind the drive and I won’t mind it if I get a job in the city in the near future. I just want to get to the point where I have a job and an apartment of my own because on top of it all I don’t have a lot of my own space at my mom’s house, which is fine because I’m just happy to have a roof over my head. But it’s hard to go from four and a half years of having my own space to being downgraded to a couch and a small closet.

At this point I’m just trying to keep my anxiety and depression in check so that I can actually attempt to get stuff done because as it stands right now I’ve been out of school for a little over a month and I haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped I might. However, I’m trying like hell to pull myself out of my funk no matter how unmotivated my mom and brothers may think I am. To be fair though, it’s hard for me to be motivated there when I have very little to room to think.

I just hope that at some point in the near future I can find a job and get my life together better than it is right now. I hate living like this.

Talking About It

A few months before the election I posted on Facebook warning my friends and family that if He Who Must Not Be Named became our next president that I was going to start doing drugs. Today I picked up my first prescription of anti-anxiety and depression medicine.

A day or two ago I went to my school’s health clinic to get a pap smear while I could still relatively afford it. While there my doctor asked me about my mental state and as I’ve been closely keeping watch over this election for the past 18 months along with tremendously supporting Hillary Clinton the entire time I, and many others,  were obviously devastated on Tuesday night.

So, the next day I stayed in for most of the morning. Not unlike many others due to  total emotional and mental fatigue. Thankfully, during the time of my appointment my doctor also noticed that I seemed distraught and so she gave me several tests to get an idea of where my head was. She came back, added up the totals and after a little bit of discussion she diagnosed me with mild depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, I have already known this fact for roughly the past 7 years and since I’ve been in school I’ve been taking advantage of my school’s counseling services. However, for the past 4-5 years that I’ve been intermittently going to see my counselor he had never told me that I can be given a prescription through the doctor’s at my school. Thankfully, I have this information now and I’ll be getting a prescription for at least the next year of anxiety and depression meds. However, once that year long prescription is up I’m not sure what I’ll do.

However, my self-preservation skills are pretty sharp, so hopefully they’ll get me by for as long as we have to endure this.

I Want to be Weak

“They comment on how strong you are as if you have the option of being weak.”

I found this quote not so long ago in one of the many corners of the internet that I frequent and it resonated with me on levels that I hadn’t yet come to terms with.

My life has been a serious of literal and figurative fights for my life. Ever since birth I’ve fought harder than any newborn should have to. I mean, as if an actual hole in my heart wasn’t enough to deal with and fight through I suffered a stroke on my fifth and so far final open heart surgery in my fourteenth year of life which left the left side of my body numb and basically inhuman. When I was twenty years old I was diagnosed with Stage 3 or 4 (I’ve kind of blocked that detail out) ovarian cancer and I fought tooth and

nail from the removal of the seven pound tumor that had taken up residency in my ovary and through the ghastly chemotherapy that I received shortly after. Even when I caught pneumonia after my first round of chemo and my mom came home to find me on the couch cold and gray and near death my body still fought.

Now my latest fight has been dealing with depression and extreme anxiety that I believe is stemming from school and my general lack of friends that I’ve pushed away due to my workload from school which has caused me to lock myself away in my room on weekends to do homework and ignore the world because it’s just easier that way for everyone. My replacements for most of my friends have been books, the internet and heavy doses of Netflix because the friends that I used to have at the start of college have began to slide away from me, and could you blame them?

Every time I was sick with anything my family and some friends have been by my side to cheer me on during my fights, but sometimes I just want to be broken and sad and unresponsive to the outside world for a little bit. I don’t want attention for it. I shouldn’t have to fight for the attention of my friends nor they for my attention.

I shouldn’t have to fight for the attention of my friends nor they for my attention.

At the same time I desperately want love and affection because while I get it from friends that I consider family at school it’s just not enough. I wish it were, but in the small doses that it comes in it never seems to be enough and I really hate it. I don’t want to be this person. I want good things in my life. I mean, yes, I do have them. I just want them to come in floods instead of random spurts. At least that seems how they come to me.

I know that in reality I have no “real” problems and that there are people out in the world that are suffering lives worse off than mine but, like love, sadness is a universal emotion.

Outsourcing my Heart

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.56.24 PMA couple of years ago I jokingly told one of my professors that I was going to have to start expanding my boundaries when it came to finding love because my prospects here in the states were starting to get really bleak.

Well, six months ago something happened. I traveled to Iceland as a part of my second study abroad trip, and one night while randomly browsing Tinder with my roommate just to see how different it was from what I’m used to (gun toters and dead fish wielders) because the Midwest is a weird place, I came upon a match. It wasn’t long after we matched that we started to talk and get to know each other, and we both seemed to click really well. The next and last day of our stay in Iceland, my group was scheduled to go to The Blue Lagoon. Suffice to stay I stayed in the hotel to leech their internet so that I could continue to talk to this intriguing stranger, and I don’t even regret it.

This December, during my winter break I did something that I would consider an achievement and traveled to a foreign country on my own: that country being back to Iceland for a week with him. Though it was a short week, it was also one of the best weeks of my life. I met a good portion of his family, ate some traditional Icelandic food, and got to relax for a while. 

Over the duration of this relationship I’ve been sent articles from various friends and family members about the trials and tribulations that come from being in long distance relationships. While he and I have felt most of the items listed in these articles, we have also seemed to overcome most of them, at least for now. Also, there’s this funny thing called technology which allows he and I to have a better relationship than those ten years ago did that were also in LDR’s. 

Later this summer/end of the semester I’m going to Norway to participate in a four week writing course with one of my professors here at school. While I’m there (the boy) will be coming down from Sweden to meet me and take me out for my birthday and even to meet his parents while I’m there. I gotta say, I’m pretty excited for it too.

Later this month he and I will have been together for seven months and have been talking to each other for almost a year. While to most people this isn’t much of an accomplishment, it is one of my greatest accomplishments since I have been single for the past three years up until meeting him and so far it has been the most rewarding relationships that I’ve ever had, even with 3,000+ miles of ocean and some land between us.

So, yeah, I had to look outside of my own country to find love. But it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Fate, Destiny or whatever you want to call it has a funny way of making things work out, especially for those that have started to think that they should probably start collecting cats and yarn balls. 

The Weight of Love

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

— Charles Bukowski

Over the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time alone. They say that that’s supposed to help you to “find yourself”. Well, I call bullshit. I’ve known myself for 25 years now. Sure, I learn new things about myself everyday, but that’s a part of the human experience, right? You’re supposed to learn from the trials and tribulations that this wonderful thing called life puts us through. I guess the good news though is that we’re all in this together and no one gets out alive.

But I digress…

I’ve been alone for more than long enough to get to know myself properly. I know what makes me happy, what makes me tick, what can demolish me in a second and what can build me up when I need it the most.

But now, I think I need, or at the very least, want a giant spoon to scoop out all of the heaviness that’s wrapped itself around me, both internally and externally. I don’t want to be sad anymore.

This year marks the five year anniversary of my dad’s death. Two days before the anniversary I’ll be on a plane coming back from a two week trip with my classmates. In almost five years I haven’t been near my dad’s grave or to his house that had to be sold upon his passing.

In the years since his death, especially this one, I’ve contemplated going to his house or to his grave. However, now I’m not so sure about going to his gravesite since it’s just a box under the ground. Whereas at my dad’s house, provided if the new owners will let me on the property, my dad’s spirit is still there and things that he has touched and built with his own two hands are there. My family said our last goodbyes to him there. It only makes sense.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for at these places, but something inside of me is telling me that I should go if I can just to find out what it may be.

I’m not entirely sure what I need to do to get this leaden armor off of me or to stop the gnawing in the pit of my stomach to go away, or even the void in my heart to go away. I just know that I want it gone.

Since I’ve been in college I’ve been trying to find ways to get these feelings to go away. I’ve tried to be as least self-destructive as I could be. So far I’ve seen a counselor, I’ve been told to get medication twice now and I’ve also attempted to get out and be social. However, that’s a bit of a problem  when you’re a person that never stops thinking no matter how much they try to shut off their brain.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Though upon reflection, maybe trying to ease my wounds by throwing myself into one of the most stressful environments that a single person can willingly throw themselves into wasn’t the greatest of ideas; but here I  am. 

With one year left of school and the rest of the world at my feet I want to try to go out into the world and not be weighed down by sadness.

Edit: It’s been four days since I’ve published this post. Today I called one of my dad’s closest friends and who was basically one of his main caretakers when he was sick. He (his friend) is going to get me the number of the guy that currently lives in my dad’s house so that I can go out there this summer on the anniversary of my dad’s death.

Roots and Wings

I graduate college next year. I graduate college next year, and honestly I think that I’m a little terrified. I mean, that’s usually the natural response to something like this. Or at least it has been for everyone that I’ve known that’s graduated already. But they eventually picked themselves up and have started to make something out of themselves.

I just hope that transfers to everyone that turns their tassels come graduation day.

The only difference between me and most of them is that while they are laying down roots I’m trying to figure out where my next travel destination will be. There’s so much more of this world that I have yet to and want to see and explore. So, unless I get a job out of college that lets me travel and work at the same time that I actually enjoy than I may be forced to start rooting myself. That would be cool if Missouri was where I wanted to stay all of my life. Which I don’t. I’ve lived here for going on 26 years, and while they’ve been some good years, they haven’t made me want to stay much longer.

A while ago during a late night Facebook conversation. a friend of mine pointed out to me that I was restless. Of course I am. I’ve seen five countries in the span of two weeks and what I saw was very little. Of course my natural inclination right now is to fly rather than fight.

Google.com

A few things that I’ve noticed while I travel is that that big black cloud of depression that likes to hang over me in my daily life seems to dissipate and the straight jacket of anxiety tends to loosen up its hold. So, obviously I’m doing something right. Right?

However…..

I have this nagging feeling deep inside that I want to lay down some roots or something. I think what it is is my desire to want to take care of something and in turn be taken care of.

While I’m quite fond of being the independent woman that I am (I think I am), I have also been single for going on four years now. I realize that that’s not a lot of time compared to some people. For example, my mom; she’s been single/divorced for almost eight years now and she seems to be doing pretty well. But there are days when I know that she would do anything to have someone by her side to help carry some of the weight of her stressful life. For that I don’t blame her either. If anything, I want her (and my brothers by proxy) to be happy.

I come from a family of tough, driven and stubborn women so it could be years before I reach whatever it is I really want out of life. So for now I’ll just have to work at chipping away at this shell that I’ve built up around myself by myself.