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.

A love letter to Chicago.

Dear Chicago,

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In the four short days that I’ve been here you’ve made quite the impression on me. So much so that I shudder at the thought of returning home, though I know that’s what I have to do.

Ever since I’ve been here I’ve felt like a completely different person. I mean, my anxiety is still hanging above me a little bit, but it’s no longer the foreboding dark cloud that it normally tends to be when I’m home. It’s turned from being fearful of being alone to not being able to get back to my friend’s apartment and navigating the trains. Those pale in comparison to the anxiety that felt like it was literally melting off of me on the train here.

Though it’s a little early for me to say this with confidence I’m pretty sure that traveling (especially solo) is doing wonders for my mind, body and soul.

Since I’ve been here I’ve done more walking than I have in a long time. Which is sad, since I walk around my school’s campus and to work everyday but I think the air is cleaner and brisker here so it fills my lungs and happiness is left in it’s place. Not only that, but my legs are gaining their definition and tone back, which is always a good thing. I’ve also never slept harder. My body is too tired from traversing the city for my insomnia to even have a chance at creeping up and making my night sleepless.

Also, since I’ve been here I’ve written more in my journal than I usually did while at school. Probably because my entries at school were uber-depressing and I was lonely and bored. However, if you read my entries from the past two months up until now you would think that they were written by two different authors. Thank you for that, Chicago. I am forever in your debt.

One final thing that I’ve fallen in love with in this city so far is how genuinely nice the people are here. Sure there are some jerks, but those are everywhere. I just have yet to encounter any so far in my trip and I hope that trend continues for the remainder of my stay here.

Also, in exactly two months I leave on my first airplane ride to Europe to present research in Athens, Greece. Hopefully that trip does just as much for me mentally and physically as this one is doing. Something inside me says that it will be just fine and that I’m continuing to over think things a little bit.

With a mere three and a half days left here I intend to suck the marrow out of this experience and just let anything that’s bothering me about, well anything, go into the infamous winds of Chicago.

P.S.  My desire to move here one day has won out over my hometown of Kansas City and the wonderful agency of DEG Digital. Sorry Kansas City.

P.P. S. Only two and half more years or so and I shall return with a one-way ticket instead of a round-trip ticket.

Love always,

Nicole

Destroying Magazines to Rebuild My Own Heart

My emotions have been all over the place lately. I’ve talked to a counselor, I’ve attempted to get lost in a rotation of at least four books at one time and even in my studies, and yet, nothing seems to work when all of my emotions and nerves feel like they want to push themselves out of my skin and just leave me in a heap on the floor.

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Except for one thing.

I’ve taken to collecting random issues of Glamour, Marie Claire and even a Cosmopolitan magazine or two and reading them and then sharing them with my roommate & then cutting andtearing out random inspirational things that I find in the rags. I then proceed to put the emaciated models and the beautifully placed pictures and semi-cliched but also words of wisdom on the  doors in my room to serve as a reminder.

A reminder of how awesome I am and that my anxiety and weighty depression will not win. No matter how hard they try to pull me down.

I actually used to do this when I was younger but with copies of my sister’s Jane, Delia’s,  J-14 and the occasional Glamour and Cosmo. As they got older and started to pass the Holy Grails down to my other sister that was close to my age and I relished the days when we got a new “magazine delivery” from just a few feet away.

Instead of having walls and doors to plaster the beautiful pictures and inspirational words I kept them tucked away in my bottom dresser drawer in an old glass case that once held a shop’s worth of my sister’s makeup in it. They didn’t stay locked away for long.

When I started to get allowances, I used to buy a lot of random journals from the grocery store by our house because I really really wanted to be a serious writer when I was 12. I had a crazy notion at that age that if the outside of the journals that I hoarded were going to be beautiful then by God so were the inside covers!

I spent hours after school and on weekends poring over the glossy, sweet, perfume-sample filled pages trying to find any and everything that stood out. Thankfully some of the magazines of yesteryear weren’t quite as terrible as some are today and I began to find myself in between the pages.

Now, at the ripe old age of nearly 25 I am still poring over the glossy pages of multiple random magazines on weekends and after school for hours on end and looking for things that jump out at me that make me feel like more of a human.

Only now the magazines are inspiring and shaping my future and creating a sort of solace in hunting down those words and images and cutting them out and exacting the edges to fit in the front and back covers of my journals.

There’s something about taking care of something else, even if that something is as simple as cutting the perfect edge around an oddly placed grouping of words to size, that can make those of us that feel like they’ve been forgotten by those they hold closest feel like they will be okay in the end.

Even finding the perfect placement for the found objects in the covers creates a purpose that has been left dormant for days, months or years and the pieces just seem to fit together perfectly, eventually.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due (or Finding Inspiration in the Financial Aid Office)

Earlier this week I had a meeting with the dreaded financial aid office with my uncle in tow to talk to the head of the department about  my current financial situation.

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Like any normal person I entered the office a little bit on edge because the financial aid office is scary no matter what school you go to, right? As my uncle and I walked into the office of the head of the department the tension started to slowly lift from our shoulders. We discussed everything about how the financial aid and student loans work to my uncle because he has never really had to do something like this before.

Since I was in the office I took a small chance and asked the lady that we were meeting with if I could get a copy of my transcripts because I needed them for another meeting that I had that day. Since she’s a school administrator she had full privelege to them and she pointed out that I had a 3,0 GPA after my first semester of going to school here. As she silemtly read my transcript to herself she began to ask me why it took me so long to come back to school. My answer was basically because I had gone through so much in the four years that I had been out of

high school and that I had finally decided what to do with my life, to a point.  I then preceeded to tell her that I had gone through in those four years including breaking my back, getting diagnosed with cancer, and then my dad being diagnosed with cancer too and then shortly passing away from it.

She looked at me like I had told her that I was actually an alien. After the shock wore off she told me something that immediately added a thick layer of icing to this surprisingly sweet and painless meeting. She to

ld me that I needed to stop being so damn hard on myself for all of the things that I do and to take more credit in life for the things that I have done, like beating cancer and finding the gumption to get myself back into school and setting attainable goals for myself.  My uncle, being the ever-so-caring and loving man that he is immediately agreed with her and began to count off all of the things that have tried to take me down in my lifetime and failed and made my emotions soar even more.  Througout the entirety of that week I basically soared on the high of the words from the angel in the financial aid office and from my caring and loving uncle that always has my back and will cheer me on when others are too busy to.

So, I guess the moral of this long-winded story is that no matter what you’ve been through in life remember to give yourself credit for all that you’ve been through and what you will continue to go through in your life. You will do great things because you are capable of them and make your support system as big as you can get it!

 

The Stories my Scars Tell

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me.” – Across the Universe, The Beatles

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I’m a master at navigating the stormy waters of anxiety and almost chronic depression.

I hide it really well in front of my friends and family and I should own those drama masks that are perpetually smiling and frowing. On the internet however it is another beast entirely. I have a problem with tweeting a lot of my emotional struggles & it’s not okay. Especially when I’m on breaks (like this one) that are only a month long but thanks to the weather they feel like an eternity.

A couple of nights ago while trying to fall asleep my brain started to kick itself into over-drive. It started to create lists that I felt like needed to be addressed then and only then, because who needs sleep, right? It was one of those nights where my anxiety came in tsunami- like waves and my happiness only felt like sprinkles on an unbearably hot day.

Now that I’m back at school and the semester is only two days in I can’t help but feel that anytime now all of the good things are going to come to a screeching halt and I’ll be full of shrapnel.

Today I took a chance to help with the inevitable and scheduled my first appointment with a counselor in two years.

This semester I’ve also started to make promises to myself that I have resigned to keep and they are as follows;

1. If you’re feeling lonely seek out friends.

2. Don’t stress eat with food that will turn your insides into something unrecognizable.

3. If your head is becoming polluted with thoughts that shouldn’t be there go for a walk or something and clear that head!

4.  Don’t let yourself get overly stressed out-some stress is good-too much will probably kill you.

5. Smile more.

Finally,

6. Remember, masochism never looks good on anybody.

Even now looking at my scars from my five open heart surgeries and from my partial hysterectomy that runs from the top of my belly button to the top of my pelvis bone and the scar that my PICC line left, I am often reminded that even though my body has tried to kill me more times than I care to count I can’t give in and let it win now. Not when I have so much more to lose than I did just four years ago.

So here’s to a better today, an even better tomorrow because I have no reason to be as depressed and anxious as I am.

I found this quote last night and had to immediately share in on my Facebook and Tumblr because of how it resonated with me at that moment and as a little reminder to myself I got a picture of me when I was a kid and two note  cards and wrote the quote down and stuck it to my mirror.

“Picture yourself when you were five. In fact, dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you were the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercely while giving her space to spread her itty-bitty wings. She’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventures into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums or meltdowns turned her into a poltergeist, you’d demand a loving time-out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.”
Kris Carr  

On How Not to Feel Guilty for Taking a Personal Mental Health Day while in college

  • eat chocolate
  • wear sweats, hell stay in them for the next two days if you have to
  • study for the test you have tomorrow while eating copious amounts of junk food
  • watch SNL reruns
  • vent to friends and roommates
  • ignore your phoneImage
  • get yourself caught up on your writing assignments so that you won’t be behind once you recover
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  • DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MISSING ONE MEETING BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN UN-TREATED ANXIETY DISORDER
  • breathe
  • talk to your “person” (that’s right I’ve found one)
  • read your favorite magazine
  • take a long hot shower or bath, whichever you prefer
  • drink some hot tea
  • stare at some hotties (see what I did there?)
  • watch your favorite tv shows and/or movies
  • find a dog or cat to cuddle with

Summer, stress and getting lost in the library.

Now that it’s summer it’s time  to de-stress and lick wounds from the previous years punches and jabs. But not all of us are that lucky. This summer so far has been a stress filled one, so the wounds that I’ve been trying to heal keep cracking and bleeding.

Earlier tonight my mom and I sat  down and watched a movie together (which is something that doesn’t happen all that often. The movie was Eat, Pray, Love and yes, I was one of the naive and wishful girls that ran out and bought the book when it was released because at the time I was seeking something, I just didn’t know what exactly.

Tonight while watching the movie and explaining what little I remembered of it to my mom I had a strong desire to go find my copy and bury myself in it again and come out on the other side washed free of all of the stress and worries that I let consume me on a regular basis. To reiterate this past year at school kicked my ass all over the place. My suite-mates were ridiculous and loud and I like to be a hermit some times and lock myself away and some of my classes were stressful, but I managed to pass them by the skin of my teeth and I don’t want that to happen next year. I have a goal GPA to reach by graduation, dammit!

With all of the stress that I’ve been feeling this year it only makes sense that I would want to do something big and refreshing to prepare myself for school next year. Butttttt since I’m currently unemployed for the summer and summer classes start soon for the next eight weeks I can’t really do much except hide myself in the library and try not to feel bad for myself and live vicariously through the protagonists in my books. Although regrettably some times that’s not enough because I want to be doing the things that I read about. For example, I just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and even though I could tell what was going to happen in the end before I was even there I still fell in love with  every character in the book (which I think everyone has a problem of doing) and it was a bittersweet feeling to finish it.

So, in hopes of keeping my sanity intact this summer and my unemployment status changing soon I’m going to keep checking out books and even look for Eat, Pray, Love at the library because I have no idea where in my scattered across the state collection of books where my copy is and hopefully I will begin to feel a good portion of my stress lifting before school starts back up i n the fall.  If you are interested in what books I’m reading you can be my friend on Goodreads.

I think that’s all for now. I’m going to try to keep the blog updated this summer but until I get a new computer (I want a MacBook Pro) and have gas money to go to the library on a regular enough basis to write, but there’s no promises.

Here’s a little something to make your day better!