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  
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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
  • Tumblr
  • 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

Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck, & I feel bad about my anxiety

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”
Tina Fey, Bossypants

I have a problem. I’ll be the first to admit it too. My problem is that I have some major anxiety issues and I take it out (pretty aggressively) on my fingernails. It’s not something that I mean to do, because now it’s just become a habit whenever I’m in a super stressful situation. For example, last week my fingernails were well on their way to growing back, and then I somehow got myself into like eight stressful situations and before I knew it they were gone again.

Last night while tossing and turning in bed I decided that as soon as I can get on some decent healthcare plan that I would go see someone to help me deal with my problem(s). Sure, I could go drink my problems away, but that’s expensive and one of my stressors is my lack of  being able to find a job for the summer. So you see, it’s just one big cycle of excruciating and some times numbing pain that gets taken out on my health and (lack thereof) fingernails. Image

One of the odd things about me though is that when it comes to things like people and being at school, I have noticed that I don’t get as stressed out. For me being at my school, in my dorm room or out with friend’s or even just studying with them relaxes me and even if it’s a stressful semester or it will be I still feel more at ease there then I do at most places.

I wish that I could afford to get more help than I have been getting for my anxiety but mental health seems to be a luxury for the rich right now. But until that day comes I guess I’ll just stick with my methods and prepare for the future because I know that’s going to be stressful.

Mental Health on college campuses

Mental Illness, it’s becoming a very hot topic as of late. It’s everywhere and the media has only helped to perpetuate the stigma and has also helped to glamorize the important issue at hand.

As a college student and a survivor of multiple setbacks of my health,  mental health has always been a worrisome topic for me, especially because I currently live on a college campus and I see people that may be suffering it’s debilitating effects. Depression, OCD, anxiety disorders, and stress are all major problems that college students (such as myself) are faced with during those crazy college years.

Even though I’m only a sophomore in college I have seen both sides of the spectrum. During my first semester of freshmen year I was placed by the office of Residential Life in a room with a fellow student who was a year ahead of me. Little did I know that this girl was the victim of a mental illness that she had yet to get diagnosed and treated. As the semester continued and I learned more about her I tried my best to help her but I also didn’t feel qualified to do very much for her other than just be there when I could and listen to her when she needed to talk. Unfortunately, for other college students, their roommates aren’t so welcoming to always talking to their roommates about their problems because they aren’t friends with them, or they just aren’t interested at all.

Most college and university campuses offer free or low cost counseling services to the students, and if the on-site counselors can’t completely help students then they will refer the students to the closest available hospital or therapist that could help the student out more than what was offered on campus.

So to my fellow college students, if you are worried that you may have a mental illness, please go and find out if your campus has a counseling center that can help you to feel better and to find out what may be wrong with you.

Later this semester I’m going to be writing an article about mental illnesses and how it’s affecting the women that live on college campuses and how the subject of mental illness needs to be a less taboo issue in this day and age, and I plan on posting all of my freelance articles from my school’s paper as soon as I get them written and edited because right now my laptop is dead and I have yet to buy a new one.

Helpful links for college students about mental health:

Graphic courtesy of Google images