This another interview feature article that I have written as part of series you can find here. Interview Features – The Series
A Look at Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety
Imagine for a moment. Every second of your existence is a struggle. The struggle is with fear, rituals, anxiety, and depression. It has always been a part of your life. A part of your existence. You have no idea what or why things happen to you. This was the life that Julia Cirignano— from Boston, Massachusett has lived. It was the before her diagnosis life started Julia struggled, something that many in the mental illness community can relate.
“My diagosis with anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder came in high school. I have dealt with the symptoms my whole life.”
Like many in the community she struggled in high school, and it was in this time that Julia received a diagnosis in high school. It has always been hard for Julia to remember a time of peace. A life without an illness. In a life of constant ups and downs it was in high school while seeing a therapist that Julia first found a diagnosis.
The high school years of Julia Cirignano were the darkest of times in her life. It was also her lowest point. The daily struggle for Julia is to find balance in her self-care and in all aspects of her life.
“While I do use medication, one of the biggest things that helped me was focusing on the things I love,” Julia expains. “From a young age, I had a passion for horses, literature, music, animals in general, and more.”
Julia finds solace in her activities and it helps to keep balance in her mental health. Julia keeps her body fit, with boxing, working out, and staying productive. Along with eating well, Julia believes that keeping fit helps keep her mentally fit.
A single day with OCD and anxiety can be difficult for Julia. The key is to take each day as it is, and always stay busy.
“In my day-to-day, I try and keep myself busy because that keeps me happy,” she explains. “Accomplishing chores, no matter how big or small, gives me satisfaction. Nights are hard, like they are for almost everyone with mental illness. I drink tea and smoke weed to help with that.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Julia in the past. It was not uncommon for her dwell on the negative aspects of her mental illness. At the same time her illness has made her an empathetic person.
“Some people may call me sensitive. I like to think of myself as a person who sees and feels all that’s happenings around them,” Julia explains. “I am affected by the energy around me, which is hard in the negative world we live in. I try to put myself in the best situations possible.”
Julia has learned many positive things in her journey. She wanted to share some of that wisdom with the mental illness community. What Julia has learned is to channel the strengths that her mental disability has given her.
“Yes. There are ways in which it has slowed you down,” Julia explains. “But, everyone (no matter if you struggle with mental illness or not) has to figure out their strengths as a human. I believe that with weakness comes great strength. I believe in opposites. I believe that when you hit rock bottom, you’re there to push off and bounce back to even better, richer highs.”
Julia has written a blog not so much for mental health but for writing. Julia recently self-published a book of poetry called White Wine and Medical Marijuana. It was an extremely personal book for her to write. Writing in Julia’s life is theraputic, and it comes as second nature in her life.
“For me. It was more uncomfortable and anxiety provoking to publish my book for my loved ones to see. The process of writing comes easy. It’s easy for me to publish and promote my work to people I’ve never met,” she explains. My fellow writers, or people who can relate to my mental illness. It’s hard to hand my book to people who know me well – especially if they don’t deal with mental illness themselves.”
For Julia, most people didn’t know the internal struggle with her mental illness. It was hard to show the ones Julia loves most in this world her book. In the end it was a positive thing. It brought Julia closer to her family.
The things that make life worth living for Julia are the people and pets in her life. “My family. My horse. My friends. Chocolate. Steak. Mashed potatoes. Ice cream. Books. My Bed.” In this mental illness life we have to find some peace. Julia has come a long way but she is right with her mental health.
I always love to write these interview feature article about members of the community of bloggers that discuss mental illness. Julia has taught us in her journey and her story that with the right attitude you can find acceptance in your diagnosis. It was an honor to write another interview feature.
If you want to learn more about Julia please visit her blog and social media sites.
Interviewee: Julia Cirignano
Author: James Edgar Skye