Today I went back to therapy. I am now home, and able to return to my work at home.
For a brief moment we talked about the difference between prevention and intervention.
In life, do you start brushing your teeth after you get a cavity? Do you start washing your face after you breakout? Ok- maybe some people do, but ultimately no. You do these things to prevent a certain outcome.
But for some reason- people often forget about preventions when it comes to their mental health. Mental health in its existence, is often forgotten.
Or like many: You wait until an issue blows up before you seek counseling.
In August, I had an intake at the campus counseling center. I wasn't in crisis. I wasn't even nervous about college. But I knew myself and I wanted to seek help before I needed it. I advocated for myself. I was using prevention techniques without even being told to.
Just like that decision, one week from today I emailed my therapist on the car ride home from Boston. I wanted to check-in with her and give myself that reminder that she is there if I need her.
Ok, but besides counseling how can you prevent a fallout with your mental health?
I mentioned to my therapist how I live inside my head. My mind has a mind of its own. I can be a space-case, and concentration can be difficult for me. I have said in previous posts how I struggle with this in my classes, and how it then affects my self-esteem as I tend to punish myself for it. I have learned ways to accommodate for this, though, leaving me less overwhelmed so it is easier to focus.
My therapist asked if anything has been bothering me, (or that I have been anxious about.) I had to think. I realized, I did not have anything. Not a single thing. "Honestly, I've been in a really good place. I just want to keep things this way." I laughed, saying that if I thought too hard about "if" something had been making me anxious, I would only create reasons to be anxious.
Some people may assume that when you've reached this enlightenment or overall content place in your life, that you can say "see ya" and counseling is no longer needed. I have learned that this is one of the best times to go to counseling. The challenge, is finding things to talk about (or vent about), but this way you can listen and build on skills to work on any day despite what current state you're in.
This summer, I am taking a 1 month course, 3 days a week at my local community college in order to get some credits out of the way that go towards my major. My therapist found this as "good timing" weirdly enough. I will have just one course to focus on, and study for, instead of 3 or 4 other courses to follow. With this, I can work on mindfulness this summer with my therapist, and practice skills to use in and out of the classroom.
This is where therapy + prevention come together. You learn skills, not just to get you through the moment, a shitty week, or mid-life crisis. It is recommended you treat these skills as "homework" (many therapists actually give homework) so they can be implemented in your life, and one day these skills won't feel like work- you will just find yourself doing them.
Since I have been doing well, I decided to do counseling every other week instead of every week this summer. We'll see, or maybe I will push it back even more!
Until then I want to create goals for myself that relate to mindfulness strategies. I will start with 3 for now.
Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
- Teddy Roosevelt
** And a question for crystal using folks, Which type of crystal would you find most suitable for bringing into the classroom? Best for grounding, focus, anxiety..
Please comment or contact :-)
Every Mother's Day..I want it to be special. I want it to be perfect. Every year on her birthday AND Mother's Day, she should be expecting a written letter, poem, or blog post from me. I love my mom A LOT but I am running out of new words to express it. And writing is "my thing" it is a "gift" in my mother's eyes, so how can I not write for her, even if my love is repetitive? :-)
Last year's Mother's Day Post was about me leaving for college in the Fall and how that was going to be a milestone for her as well.
This Mother's Day, my post is going to be a little different. I am not just dedicating this to one mother, I am dedicating it to many women that deserve to be celebrated today, and every day.
I was thinking about social media on Mother's Day, and how my news feed is usually blown up with dedications to mothers all over.
I personally don't know what it is like to want to avoid the media at all cost on Mother's Day. I personally do not know what it is like to not have a mother, or to not have her here with me. I do know that there are so many people in the world that deserve a day- that deserve a day to be celebrated. I have even "adopted" a 2nd Mom, Dad, and grandparents outside my family tree.
For that reason, I have many amazing mothers I know who I can wish a happy day to today.
Here are the gems today's post is dedicated to:
My mother, Auntie Sara, Aunt Kelly, Aunt Josie, Nanny, Nana, Grammy, and Mimi.
They are all different, and wonderful in their own way. I am going to write 2 things about each of them.
1) Something I love about them.
2) Something they have taught me.
and, my lovely grandmothers. :-)
and my Mama Pumpkin, of course
We teach each other to love ourselves as we are.
We get spacey, we get sensitive, we are easily excited, and easily pleased. Our minds often wander. We are "look at the moon!" kind of people. We appreciate the little things.
I would not want it any other way.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, and those who have made me into who I am.
This post is dedicated to my friends, and all the new people this year that have been a part in my journey.
By the first day of classes, I had already made over 20+ friends that I could say hello to on the sidewalk. And that, was because of my decision to move in early for the bridge program.
We shared our stories through narrative essays, we shared our nerves about starting college, and we all had a mental breakdown of some sort during those 2 weeks.
I want to stop right here, and reflect. When I started college I was not expecting to stay. I mean, stay here. I was not expecting to become connected to the school, and the people, so soon. [Many of you remember my goal to stay for one year (my mother's wish) and then go to school down south.] I also, was not prepared for the amount of goodbye's I had said by the middle of my freshman year.
Our school is not for everyone. Something I was not expecting to learn about my college decision- was that this school is meant for those who know what they want to do with their life. Like- who does? This school is for people that just "knew" they were going to be child life specialists and have known since they were little that teaching is their calling. It is driven for helping professions- teaching, child life, social work, juvenile justice, etc. This has not affected me. I am drawn to social work, and my school has one of the best programs.
I had to say a lot of goodbye's this year, because my friends were realizing where they fit as well. The small campus size- not for everyone. I thought it was not going to be for me, but it turns out it is helping me to shine, to stand out. Living on campus, or out-of-state is not for everyone either.
Within my first semester I had 2 friends (different scenarios) who withdrew from school, so they could receive mental health treatment. I praise their decisions to do so. It is a tricky decision when your health is rocky. Do I leave school, or do I stay and risk things getting worse? They are both doing amazing now.
My "dream" roommate, decided she was gong to commute her second semester to save money. I miss living with her. It was just easy. It was sad to see her half of the room empty. Things have worked out, though. She is forever my original "roomie" and I still get ultra excited when I see her in the campus center.
I feel blessed to be at a school where the students cheer each other on, and are respectful, and always willing to learn new ways of thinking.
I met some of my friends just by them approaching me as strangers, to compliment me after hearing my bridge essay read aloud. Now, I eat dinner with those people.
A moment that still stands out to me is when a girl in my class expressed her presentation anxiety. I, of course, could relate to. She had never given a presentation in her life because she always had accommodations. She gave her first presentation in our class, and everybody clapped and congratulated her and I just felt so much happiness for her, and to be a part of a community like that which gives everyone room for growth.
There are always the flaws, and the drama you hear about from being on a small campus. You meet people and question their people skills, and sometimes you have to ask yourself "how old are we here?" It is in class, where I forget about that. My courses touch upon big ideas, and current life events, and I am always thinking deeply. It is in class, where everyone is reminded why they chose this school in the first place. A school whose message is to "inspire a world of good" and asks us if we are "tough enough" to do so. There are always those little things that take you back, but you get back up by focusing on a study you are passionate about.
3 of my friends are not returning next year. This makes me sad because we are all so close, but I support their choices and we plan to stay in touch as our journeys take us in different directions.
My best friend this year, worked in our marketing office. She left a few weeks ago to return to her old job. My campus counselor, being this year's intern, was another "goodbye" that had to be said. And my first social work professor is retiring, and we were her last "intro" class.
Those are 3 more people I have connected to this year.
I guess I have not adjusted to this part of life. High school graduation is one thing, but every day we meet people and are unaware of how they may impact us. This isn't a sad thing. You take what you can from people. It's hard to go a day without those who made you feel good, but the point is you can go on without them.
I have learned this year that sensitivity is a part of me, and I am learning to see it as a strength rather than a weakness. College has allowed me to embrace more people in my life, and I am very attached to the feeling I get when they inspire, or motivate me.
Thank to all of my new friends that have stood by me this year. I look forward to seeing many of you again in the Fall.
and now, I am ready for a laid-back summer break
It's here.. Mental Health Month is here!
May is here.
This post is going to be vulnerable because I am using photographs to tell the story.
I chose 3 pictures of myself in order to discuss mental health, and what it means to me.
Did I pick the best pictures of me? Ha. Nope. (As your eyes have already glanced down)
I chose the 3 pictures because of the memories they brought up for me.
I wish I could say I don't care what people think about me. Sometimes, I don't. In a way, though, we all do. We all do care. I care while writing this post, and I will care after. But when does the meaning of "normal" fall out of the dictionary? When does "beautiful" mean something you cannot visibly see? When does the internet become a safe place, a realistic view of what is, and not just what we choose to portray?
Did I send it? No. I kept it for me. Sometimes I think I took this photo to show myself "this. this is what you've become. this is who you are." and sometimes I think I took this picture because I had hope. [What?] I had hope that things would get better, and I knew I would have this picture to look back at and see how far I've come?
and then I have my awful reason. Maybe I took this picture, in case someone were to find it. Then they would know how badly I had been hurting when nobody seemed to understand.
The story at the time this was taken. It was November 2015. I am standing in my bathroom. I would go in there a lot, lock the door, sit on the rug, and lean up against the cabinet, falling apart, questioning every piece of my life. I hadn't showered. My hair looks greasy. I hadn't been taking care of myself. You can see mascara under my eyes. That was me trying. My face is swollen from tears. At school I would sit alone in the hallways and dissociate. I would bang my head against the lockers when nobody was watching. I would leave class to cry in a bathroom stall. I would text my mom at work, obsessively, throughout the day. Leaving her concerned.
I was sick.
I was pale.
I went days on end without an hour of sleep.
And after this picture? I most likely had wiped my eyes, washed my face, and opened the door again as if nothing had happened.
That is what happens when you have a mental health condition. You are just like the girl who decided to show her smartphone what her Instagram doesn't see. When you walk out those doors, there is no room for the what is expected of you. You get dressed, you go to work, you blend in with society, and you smile- because god forbid someone sees you not acting "okay."
And nobody knows that the one who smiles, and shows up, had reached their breaking point the night before.
I think when people see the words "mental health awareness" they think about depression, anxiety, or just the word "mental illness." I think many forget that mental health awareness, includes them too. It includes all in the topic of discussion. There are the sides of pain, the sides of fighting, but there are also those sides that do have pure genuine smiles. And that is an example of mental health too.
People may see me now and forget I have an anxiety disorder, and still struggle with depression at times. At my school counseling center, I take a mini questionnaire as their check-in. The numbers always confirm that I have severe anxiety, but when my counselor addresses it, she learns that those results are my constant. She reads "severe anxiety" but I say, "yes I'm anxious but I've been worse." My heart always races for no reason. I always am afraid I am going to have a panic attack in public. Anxiety is a part of my daily life, but I go about my life despite that. My mental health is also:
showing self respect,
snorting when I laugh, and then laughing even more!
It is the self-talk inside my head saying "this too shall pass."
It is advocating for myself by going to therapy.
mental health awareness IS self-awareness.
We can all feel sad, glad, mad, and we have the right to feel whatever we feel.
Mental health awareness is important because our minds are powerful, and fragile all at once.
Everyone deserves support, care, and treatment.
And unfortunately we still live in a world with oppression and stigma.
Unfortunately many forget there is always more to a person.
And unfortunately not everyone receives support, care, and treatment.
- But we do have a month dedicated to spreading awareness. A month so we CAN talk about it.
It affects everyone.
At times we have to ignore the fact that we care what people may think, and we must be vulnerable to get the attention the world needs.
Here' s a look into the life of a living contradiction! Welcome Welcome! Just a college girl trying to create a peaceful life while managing irrational anxiousness. :-)