No Longer Hiding my Emotions

Over the years I’ve become extremely good at hiding my emotions from others.

I grew up with the belief that sadness & tears made me weak so I did my best to never cry in front of people.

I believed that my problems didn’t matter because out there in the world there was someone else with bigger problems than mine.

I believed that people wouldn’t care about what I was going through or that I would be considered a burden.

These beliefs have stayed with me up until this very day. While I’ve gotten more & more comfortable sharing my emotions & problems with others, it’s still something I struggle with today.

This has probably been one of the most difficult habits for myself to break because it’s become natural for me to just hide my emotions & bottle them up never sharing with anyone.

My entire life I’ve done my best to remain strong through all the difficult situations I faced up until now. I didn’t let others see or know the true pain I was in. There were periods where I would spend many nights crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to dump my own problems on anyone else because I didn’t want to be a burden. I ended up not only carrying my own weight of problems, but the weight of those closest to me as well. I put off working through & healing my own issues, to help the ones I loved most.

It’s taken me up until now to realize that it’s important to take care of our own selves first. I neglected my own healing & stuffed my emotions deep down inside of me. In order to be of service & help to others in our lives, we must heal ourselves from within as well.

Because of the difficulties & pain I’ve faced, I never want others to feel alone or feel like they’re a burden. I am here for anyone and can be that shoulder for you to cry on. Never feel like you are a burden to others or that your problems don’t matter because they do! No matter how big or small the problem you’re faced with, it still matters.

A Special Thank You to my Friends & Family

Right now I’m at a period of my life where I’ve been focusing more and more on my own inner work & personal development. It’s something I neglected and put off for far too long. I held the belief that if I pushed away the painful memories & experiences I could forget about them forever. I’ve learned though, that’s not the truth. At some point they will resurface and force you to deal with them.

For being 23 years old I feel I have experienced so much already in my lifetime. I grew up in an abusive household for almost 18 years being abused by my mother on a daily basis. I was sexually assaulted at the age of 19. I struggled with an alcohol addiction during that period as well. I hit rock bottom and almost killed myself. I was hospitalized for my mental illness. I was in & out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes. It was only two years ago when I got the help I needed & became stable again.

During the years when I was away at college and struggled with my alcohol addiction I stopped caring about the others around me. I stopped caring when my friends voiced their concerns about me and wanted to help me. My actions became careless and reckless that cost me friendships at that time.

I think back and wonder that if I did listen to them or if I showed more compassion maybe some of those people would still be in my life. I wonder that if I didn’t struggle with alcohol and mental illness that some of those people would still be in my life. It also showed me, who my true friends were, the ones who stuck by me through it all and are still in my life today.

It’s why I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my family and closest friends who stuck by me through my darkest moments. I thank you for not giving up on me when I was at my lowest points. I thank you for not getting mad or leaving when I wouldn’t listen to your advice. I thank you for always being there to support and show me love even when I didn’t want to receive it.

I believe it’s always through our darkest struggles and moments that shows us the people in our lives who truly care. It strengthens us to rise up even higher than before. So again, thank you to all those who showed me support and love through my darkest moments.

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How Living a Healthier Lifestyle Saved My Life

Three years ago I made a decision that changed my life for the better. I was 80 pounds overweight, extremely depressed, and was struggling to stay alive. I had hit a low point with my depression and anxiety where I had stopped caring about myself that I allowed to let myself go. Food had become my best friend causing me to gain so much weight back then.

Three years ago was when I had my wake up call. I remember that moment when I worked up the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year, I knew deep down I was gaining weight, I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. When I saw that number on the scale, tears immediately filled my eyes. I began to feel embarrassed and upset with myself. I was upset that I had allowed myself to do that to myself. I was ashamed of what had happened. It was that day when I made the decision to get my life back on track.

I was living in such a haze, going through the motions day after day I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself. I had stopped loving myself and it was taking a toll on my mental and physical health.

I wasn’t taking medication either at the time and made an appointment with a psychiatrist to get started on medication again. That was when I received the correct diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder and got put on proper medication that has helped my recovery process.

Along with getting back on medication, I changed my diet and added exercise into my routine. I was eating a lot of fast food (mainly Taco Bell) and a lot of junk food. I wasn’t eating any natural whole foods and was only putting junk into my body.

I started with cutting out the fast food first, then the junk food, and replaced those with natural whole foods. I did it in a slow transition so it helped me build that habit to create a healthier diet.

I then started to exercise three to four days a week. I would either go to the gym or I would go on a run in my neighborhood. Every week I started to increase the length of time I would spend exercising to build my strength and stamina up again. About three weeks into my lifestyle change was when I started to notice the positive changes it was bringing me. I was feeling happier again, I wasn’t as anxious anymore, I had more energy, and I was starting to feel alive again. It made me realize that it wasn’t only helping me physically, but mentally as well.

By staying consistent with my exercise routine I was building up my strength and was starting to lose the weight I had gained. With the new medication I was on and my new lifestyle was helping my mental health immensely.

I truly believe that it was because of fitness that helped save my life. Three years ago I was at my lowest point. Everyday was a fight for me to stay alive. I was struggling with the negative thoughts everyday and wanted to give up so bad. When I had that wake up call and made the choice to change my lifestyle is what brought me back to life again.

Exercise has become a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle now. It’s become a part of my healing and recovery for mental health. With taking medication, exercise, and eating healthier all helped save my life and got me onto a better path.

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Why I’m Thankful for Hitting Rock Bottom

Four years ago was when I hit rock bottom. I was sexually assaulted and that experience broke me. I was drinking everyday not wanting to deal with life sober.

I was eating all the junk food I wanted because I didn’t want men to look at me anymore.

I stopped caring about myself and everything around me.

 

I allowed my depression to consume me.

I was cycling in and out of depressive episodes along with manic episodes.

I stopped taking my meds because they weren’t making me better.

Instead of seeking out help at that time, I turned to alcohol.

 

I drank to numb the pain and to take my mind off of what I was going through.

I didn’t want to deal with reality or that my life was crumbling around me.

I wanted to forget the pain I was dealing with.

 

I believed the negative thoughts my depression told me.

I believed I was a burden to others.

I was fighting every single day to survive.

I had lost my will to live and wanted out of the world so bad. I spent days in bed only leaving it to shower and eat. I was a total mess, but I didn’t want to accept that.

I was living in fear and denial. Food and alcohol was my comfort and best friend at the time.

 

During that low point of my life, I never thought I would feel happiness again or live a life where I was sober and successful. I was fully convinced that I was going to be miserable my entire life.

 

It wasn’t easy climbing out of that dark pit and getting back into the light again.

It was when I looked at myself in the mirror one day and didn’t recognize the person I was. It was when I got the courage to step on the scale for the first time in over a year when I saw how much weight I gained. It was when I promised myself change needed to happen.

 

I had no idea how I was going to do it. But something inside of me was saying to just try.

It told me to take baby steps everyday so I could make progress in the right direction.

To slowly climb my way out of that deep dark hole I was living in.

 

I look back now and while I was miserable then, I’m thankful for going through that.

I’m thankful for hitting rock bottom and going through some traumatic events.

I’m thankful because it made me strong. It challenged me to build up mental toughness.

It broke me, shattered me into a million pieces, leaving me to figure out how I was going to put myself together again.

 

I prayed and prayed to God to give me the strength and will to push forward.

Everyday got a little easier and I got stronger. It showed me what I’m truly capable of and that with enough will and determination I can get through anything. Sometimes you have to hit that low point in life to climb back to the top.

How an Emotional Support Animal Helped With my Healing

I got my cat Calypso five years ago when I had moved back home from University. That period of my life was when I was struggling badly with my mental health. I had withdrawn from University because I had been sexually assaulted and my mental health was on the decline.

 

Moving back home, I felt alone and was battling negative thoughts on a daily basis. I had a friend suggest to me that I look into getting an emotional support animal to keep me company and help with my healing. I did research on emotional support animals and found that some of the benefits were that it lowered stress & anxiety levels, reduced feelings of loneliness, and offered companionship. I was living with my grandparents at the time so it took some convincing for them to let me bring a cat into the home since they had a dog. When I shared with them the benefits of having an emotional support animal they quickly got on board with the idea.

 

I’ll always remember the day when I brought Calypso home. My best friend and I were out shopping for the day and figured we would stop by the pet store to look at the animals. I saw Calypso there and it was love at first sight. She was the cat I wanted to bring into my life.

 

The pet store was partnered with the local humane society so we gave the lady a call to meet us at the store so I could interact with Calypso. Like any cat meeting a new person she was a little skittish and apprehensive, but quickly took to me. The lady told me that another family had looked into adopting her, but she didn’t think they were a good fit. She saw the connection between Calypso and me and could tell it was going to be a good fit.

 

The first day I brought her home she immediately took to me. I’ve had cats before and sometimes they’ll spend a couple days in hiding getting used to their new surroundings, but that wasn’t the case with Calypso. She spent about maybe an hour in hiding and was already comfortable in her new surroundings.

 

Adopting Calypso to be my emotional support animal was the best decision I made. Even though she’s a cat she’s become my best friend and part of the family. During my healing with mental health she was there for me every step of the way. I had days where it was a struggle for me to get out of bed and find any motivation to do anything and she was always there to give me that extra push. She helped me keep a routine since I would have to feed her twice a day and it forced me to get out of bed every day.

 

They say animals can always pick up on people’s emotions and I believe that is true. I had days when I would spend hours crying and she would sit with me until I was feeling better. Whenever I was having a bad day, she would be glued to my side. She would follow me around the house like a little puppy dog and would let me pet her as much as I wanted. She would give me that extra motivation and push I needed to get through the day to get daily tasks done. She helped me feel not so alone and gave me that love I deeply craved and needed at that time.

 

I am forever grateful for having Calypso in my life. Even though she is a cat, she played a big part in my healing journey. She was there for me every step of the way and gave me that extra love and support I needed.

 

If you have considered adopting a pet for an emotional support animal, I highly encourage it. Having my cat a part of my life helped with my healing process and kept me motivated each and everyday.

You Don’t Need to be Ashamed of Being Hospitalized for your Mental Illness

Why is it that we’ve normalized being in the hospital for physical illnesses; but when it comes to mental health you’re immediately labeled crazy for being hospitalized. Society has played out hospitalization for your mental health in a negative way. Only the “crazy” people go into the psych ward.

I’m here to tell you that is wrong and the stigma needs to end. I was embarrassed and ashamed for a long time that I was hospitalized for my mental health. I kept it a secret from family members and friends because I was so embarrassed. I knew the negative stigma it had behind it and I didn’t want to be labeled as the “crazy” girl who spent time in the psych ward.

If you’re in the hospital for a physical illness it has a completely different stigma and no one is quick to judge over that. But God forbid you go into the psych ward people will immediately judge you for being crazy.

I committed myself into the psych ward when I was 18 years old. I was at an extremely low point with my depression. I was struggling on a daily basis with suicidal thoughts & self harm, and I knew that if I didn’t go to the hospital to get help I was going to harm myself.

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me when I was in there, but I knew I needed the help. I didn’t know much about a mental hospital except for what I read in psychology books and some movies like One Flew Over’s the Cuckoo’s Nest. My perception was completely wrong and that’s why more people need to speak up about being hospitalized. If I weren’t hospitalized I probably wouldn’t be here writing this today.

I stayed the full 72 hours in the mental hospital and it was an experience I would never forget. My first day there I was a little scared because I was the youngest in the adult ward. I was admitted into the “crisis” ward since I had tried to kill myself and was with others who had struggled with suicide like myself. I was surprised with how normal everyone was though. In books and movies they make it seem like everyone is bat shit crazy going off their rocker screaming random words every second. That is not at all what it’s like.

Yes, there were some in there with more severe illnesses than others, but it wasn’t as bad as society makes it out to be. They had separated the sections to where it was a female section of the psych ward along with a male section of the psych ward. We were allowed “rec” time once a day for an hour where we got to go outside and socialize with everyone.

They had taken most of my belongings when I was admitted, so I was without a phone for those three days. There was a small library so, I did a lot of reading while I was in there. I also got to know the other women in my area as well. They were all very nice & welcoming towards me. It was interesting hearing their own stories, some were rape victims, domestic violence victims, been on and off medications, and just wanted help & support.

I’ll admit I was a little quick to judge my first day there and kept thinking to myself, “I don’t belong in here. I’m not crazy at all like the other people in here.” But the more I got to know the others, the more I realized they were normal too. Just because we’ve struggled with self-harm and have a mental illness doesn’t mean we’re crazy and should be an outcast to society.

Having spent the three days in the mental hospital taught me a lot. The biggest lesson it taught me was to not be so quick to judge. Each one of us is doing the best we can to survive and it is perfectly okay to reach out for help. It helped me accept my own mental illness and to receive the help I needed for a long time.

A Little Reminder to Myself.

 

Depression has consumed my life. I take my medicine, I go to the doctor, and I push myself to list the positives when I want to dwell on the negative. I just stopped living. I have had more suicidal thoughts than I can count in the past three months and my life is in shambles.

Today, I feel good. I woke up well rested….and I actually slept a healthy 8 hours uninterrupted. I have plenty to be happy about. I just came off a week vacation from visiting my family in Arizona. (I moved out of state in July 2018). I started a new job and even pulled myself off of academic probation in school. So why have I felt like this? I feel that I need a reminder sometimes that my mental health is an ongoing issue. It creeps up and kicks me in the ass as if to remind me that I am not as okay as I think I am.

I am okay. I just have bad days. I have good days too. Days that are so great that I almost feel like the bad ones were all in my head, that I was focusing on the negative and just got lost in it. Depression is not just bad days. It is an all-consuming monster that eats at you until you have nothing left to give and nothing left for yourself most importantly.

Ironically, I woke up to a very foggy day in Houston….shocker I know. I felt refreshed and it was as if I could think clearly for the first time in a long time. I made myself an impromptu appointment with my doctor because thoughts of self-harm are no joke and I have never experienced it like that before. I hope that I have the courage to tell her what has been happening.

I am sure someone can relate. I write this because I need to remember. I need to remember the good day that follows all the bad ones. I need to remember reflecting on the never-ending thoughts of wanting to just be done and know that it happened. Unfortunately, I need to remind myself that I have an illness and I cannot let my guard down. Even on my best days it is still there waiting for the opportunity to take over.

I write this because I had a lot of shame in reaching out to my family in Arizona. Having to tell someone 1000 miles away that you feel worse than ever just felt like a dick move. I needed to for accountability. I needed someone to check in on me and remind me that my actions affect others. I needed to be reminded that I am important to others.

I write this because it is the truth. I am ashamed and quite frankly in denial that these thoughts even cross my mind in my depressive cycles. I have a print out of one of those sappy posts that people put on social media whenever a suicide occurs (blunt but true). The ones that say, “please reach out to me if you feel this way, you are loved!”. I have it on my bulletin board above my desk to remind myself that thoughts turn into actions and people are aware of that. It reminds me that this thing I think is so taboo is in fact not.

I write this because I think someone else might need to read it. You aren’t insane. You shouldn’t hide it. You should tell anyone that will listen if you feel this way. You should tell them until you don’t feel that way anymore. My text conversations with my family have consisted of this:

 

Famiy member: Hey babe. Just went to the store and we are planning on seeing a movie tonight. Just wanted to check in and see how you are today. Let me know if you need anything. Love you.

 

Me: Still not having a great day. I am going to work and have homework tonight. Call me around 8 PM my time? Love you.

 

My phone conversations are just them telling me about their day and asking how work was. It lasts about ten minutes. 9 of the minutes are them and one is me.

I don’t want to talk. I don’t have anything to say. I feel like shit. That call makes me accountable. I have a goal, get through the day and answer the phone. It is stupid and insignifigant but it is something to strive for.

 

Find something to strive for on your bad days.

 

*also, Texas has had approximately five sunny days in 2019 (no exaggeration). I would love to hear any experience or thoughts on seasonal depression.