My *Fun* Summer Meals

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The best part about moving back home from college? Food at home! Rather than arriving to the dining hall at odds with the menu, I now get to choose what I eat. What a concept!

With my extra free time, I have been spending more time planning and cooking meals. I am not quite Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart, but I’m trying my best. I have maybe three meals that I love to make so I thought I’d share them with the like three people who read this blog.

  1. Pasta with Sausage and Kalelink

This recipe is fairly simple in terms of cooking ability and ingredients. The hardest part for me is timing everything correctly. This meal is also great as leftovers, so I would recommend making more than you need! This pasta mainly involves large shells, chickpeas, sausage, and kale.

2. Tacos!

No recipe here, I just like to wing it for my tacos. What I typically like to do is cook chicken that I slice into small strips in some salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne; then heat up tortillas and add my toppings. My choice taco ingredients to go with chicken are: chopped onion, tomato, lettuce, and medium salsa. Add your choice of dairy products as you please.

3.  Breakfast For Dinner 

This one is underrated and super easy. There are lots and lots of ways to do breakfast for dinner (or lunch!), but I will share my favorite. It starts with the Pillsbury biscuits that come in a tube (v healthy, I know). Throw a fried egg and maybe some bacon into a biscuit, and now you have a delicious breakfast sandwich! As a side, I would recommend hashbrowns.

After writing this blog post I am realizing that I probably was not meant to be a food blogger. Well, I tried!

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Summertime Slump

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For many young people, summer time is a glorious one full of tanned skin, tropical vacations, and care-free adventures. While I do love the abundance of fresh fruit and the warm sunshine, I find re-adjusting my routine difficult. I thrive off of being busy; in fact, the more things I have to do, the faster I accomplish them.

During my first year of college I fell in love with my routine of going to class, studying, and having fun. I loved my independence and even my new research position. My classes were intriguing and rigorous.

I think that the reason why I am so productive when I am busy is because I am forced to cut out a lot of the second-guessing that goes on in my mind. I am able to tell myself that there is simply no time for wondering if I’m good enough at X or Y. If I made a small mistake? Well, I was busy, and busy people make mistakes.

Another reason why I miss being away at college is the constant opportunity social interaction. While sometimes draining, it was great to always have someone to chat with or eat lunch with if I wanted. Being at my parent’s house, if I want to eat lunch with a friend, that involves planning around both of our schedules and buying or making the lunch a drive away. Being social with people besides my parents now requires extra effort and planning. And it all sucks.

I was going to make this post into a how-to for staying positive during the summer months, however, I haven’t fully figured that out myself. Some things that I have tried in order to stay busy/happy:

  • Making a list of things I want to get done in the day
  • Arranging to do fun things with my friends
  • Trying out new recipes
  • Going on walks outside
  • Finding any reason possible to leave the house

ALSO! I decided that I want to write in this blog more because it is something that I enjoy doing. So, this is my declaration that I am going to put in my best effort at making one post per week.

Math and Mental Health ??

lulThe words “math” and “mental health” surely don’t sound like things that have much in common. Because I have recently been thinking a lot about my own mental health, I realized that the two have much more in common than it seems.

Doing math can be grueling and tiresome. The mere mention of math elicits feelings of disgust for many. When most people think of math they may remember their frustration in high school math solving problems that seemed meaningless or maybe even the naps they took in math class.

Being good at math and having good mental health have some surprising things in common: they require relentlessness; to be successful, you must be willing to go through anger and feelings of helplessness; and not many people are able to be good at them.

That being said, in no way am I trying to say that being good at math means your mental health is great (I am a living contradiction to this one), or vice versa.

As I went through therapy, I recognized that I had a hard time dealing with feelings of discomfort and guilt. Around the same time, I remember I took a math test and spent almost half of the time on one problem; I was determined to figure it out, and even eventually did, despite disliking the struggles I was having with it.

Soon after I realized that in order to be “good” at my mental health, I had to sit with my negative feelings, rather than push them to the side. Just like the times that I had to stop working on my math homework after spending too long doing it, dissatisfied with my progress, I had to be able to be disappointed or sad or guilty and let it be.

 

Just Another Day in the Life

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photo from tumblr user minus-the-negative

In one of my more recent public blog posts, I made a declaration to getting better mental illness-wise. This post is an update on how I’m doing on my journey.

I sought out therapy within my university, which (amazingly) is free. My therapist is a woman named Aurora who is great. My first consultation appointment could only be described one way and that is awkward. I felt really uncomfortable trying to open up to a stranger. I even considered canceling the second appointment that I scheduled because I had a strong feeling of being stuck. My one bad experience made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to open up to anyone. This was far from the truth and I am very happy that I was too scared to tell the receptionist why I wanted to cancel my appointment.

Being in therapy is great, however, recovery from mental illness is rarely linear. Therapy often brings out problems that you may not know you had. For me, therapy allowed me to open up about some things that I did not realize were as bad of a problem as they are.

An aspect of therapy that I really like is the feeling of control that it gives me. Even though sometimes it feels like my mental illness is uncontrollable, being in therapy makes me feel like I am making progress towards better days.

Not every day is easy; I have lots of good days and lots of bad days. The best I can do is to take life one day at a time, attend my appointments, and keep working hard.

Don’t You just Love Having a Stigmatized Illness?

Having mental health problems sucks. I’ve said it so many times and I’ll keep saying it. Along with the personal struggles that come along with mental health, stigma and misunderstanding comes along too. It’s a lot easier to call into work or miss class because you’re coughing up a lung than it is to say that you really just can’t get out of bed today.

Having people understand what you’re going through and sympathizing with you makes whatever you’re going through much easier. Recently, my grandpa passed away. It was incredibly difficult to take on emotionally, but going home and seeing all of my family and mourning with them made it easier. It was helpful to receive support from the people closest to me. Support for mental illness, however, is often much harder to find.

Having people know that you’re struggling, and understanding that struggle takes off part of the burden. If a professor hears someone coughing constantly throughout class, they may not feel as inclined to call on that student to answer a question. The professor has probably also been sick before and knows that it is hard to get things done when you’re ill. Unfortunately, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can be invisible to the naked eye. Friends that I have known for years have told me later on after learning about my mental health struggles that they had no idea that I was struggling.

It has always been hard for me to admit when I’m having a hard time. What I have learned throughout the years is that it is crucial that loved ones know what’s going on. They cannot help you if they do not know you need help. You don’t have to tell them everything if you don’t want to. You can be as vague as saying, “It’s been hard for me to do X lately, I just haven’t been feeling myself.” They need to know.

Do not worry about burdening your loved ones with your problems. I never wanted to tell my parents that I was sad because I didn’t want them to worry about me. But they probably should’ve been worrying about me. Think about being on the opposite sides of things. If one of my friends was struggling, I would want to know about it. Hearing that someone has been having problems makes me sad and makes me want to help.

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The Beginning of a New Beginning

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 5.30.04 PMFor my whole life I have struggled with crippling anxiety and a constant, mild depression, among a myriad of mental health struggles. I have been living this way ever since my childhood, so these problems have become just another part of my daily life.

Many people who develop mental health struggles later on in their lives have some normal self to compare their new symptoms to; I couldn’t tell you what mentally-healthy Natalie looks like. I say this not to discount the struggles of those with new mental illness, but to highlight the identity crisis I’m facing. For my whole life I have been described as hard-working, respectful, and bright. However, my whole life I have spent constantly agonizing over being good enough, trying not to hurt anyone or anything, and doing anything and everything to be perfect (whatever that is). I find myself wondering if I truly am these things, or if they are my mental illness. Am anything apart from my mental illness?

I have found myself grappling with existential questions like the one I just mentioned. I don’t know very much about myself right now, but I do know that I want to get better. I want to stop worrying all of the time and I want to find enjoyment out of enjoyable things. I want to be able to cope properly when shit flies my way and I want to be able to cry when I need to cry.

Mental health help is out there and I seek to get it. This post is my declaration that I am going to get better, no matter what it takes. I am going to challenge my long-held beliefs about myself, others, and the world around me. I will get better.

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Update!!

Hello nonexistent followers!!!! Just thought I’d check into my blog to remind you all that I am alive and breathing, not surprisingly.

Recent life updates:

I got a job as a math tutor. I’m extremely excited about it, but slightly anxious that I won’t be able to help the kids adequately. Irregardless, I am now officially employed and one step closer to having my life put together.

Today I started interning. In my internship, I am learning about statistics in the workplace and its business applications. I am overjoyed to be privileged enough to even be able to have an unpaid internship and make connections for my future.

Lately I have been working out daily. Going to the gym is a nice getaway from my house, not that my home is torture but alone time is nice on occasion. I hope that I can continue to exercise daily through the school year.

AP scores came out. Very pleased… For the most part. Not feeling like talking about it.

Went on a really bad date…. LMAO

I will not be doing diving again this year. I am very, very happy about my decision to quit. This past year diving did nothing for me but stress me out and I already have less stress knowing that I won’t have it on my plate anymore. The sport was fun when I was surrounded by fun, easy-going people… But that’s not the case anymore unfortunately.

My stress level has been fairly low, but I still have been getting fairly anxious for nothing. My job stresses me out significantly less than my last job, so I’m moving forward. I keep worrying about what my peers think of me, which has caused me a lot of stress in my school days (which is all of my days LMAO). Overall I just hope that I can learn to accept myself my senior year and move on.

Hope you enjoyed my little life update 🙂