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 🙂

Summer and Your Mental Health

Hello Readers!

Sorry for my lack of blogging recently. I’ve been enjoying the beginning of my summer by relaxing, eating (a lot!), and spending time with some good friends.

Summer time is a time for youth to indulge in activities they may not have time for in the school year. Summer is supposed to be a luxurious time of relaxation and extra sleep. However, mental illness does not take a break the same way school does.

A lot of extra free time heightens depression for many. Extra time to think worsens anxiety. Having a mental illness during summer can halt any activities meant to be fun.

Before I was able to drive a car and get away easily to whatever activity I desired, my summers were spent lying in bed, pondering the world. I stressed over nothing, felt terrible about myself, and played with dangerous diets. Summer time for me meant long hours in bed–sleep for twelve hours, lie in bed for twelve.

Of course as a kid during summer I did go to gymnastics practice, the local library, and spent time with friends, but none of those activities distracted my mind the same way seven hours of school did. The lack of mental stimulation rotted my sanity.

Having nothing to do negatively effects my mental health the most. The best thing I’ve done for myself during the summer has been emerging myself in activities. Going to lunch with my mom, working out at the gym, going on a hike with a friend–there’s so many things to do in the summer that don’t involve your bed!

Keep your stress as low as possible in the summer. Take long baths, do the hobbies that make you happy, and surround yourself with people who make you feel like a good person.

The How-To on Migraines

Migraines are actual hell. Getting a migraine is like taking a small vacation to hell. If you get migraines frequently, you may even characterize yourself as one part devil and one part self-loathing, pain-suffering human. If you’ve only had the pleasure of living through a couple migraines, you still understand.

First off, a migraine is not just a headache. Having a severe headache is not at all like having a migraine. Migraine sufferers often experience sensitivity to light and/or sound, pain on one or both sides of their head, an aura–a physical pre-warning to a migraine, or any of an array of torturing symptoms.

Taking care of yourself is incredibly important while suffering through hell. Below are just a few of my suggestions on better coping with your personal piece of the devil himself.

1. Triggers

If you have migraines, you should be aware of your triggers and attempt to avoid them. For me, bright light, loud sound, stress, aspartame, and dehydration are my most common triggers. Certain foods often trigger people’s migraines, especially foods high in purines. For me, donuts are almost a guarenteed migraine. Moral of the story, figure out what’s causing your migraines and try to avoid those things.

2. Self-Care

Migraines come with a ton of physical symptoms. Some migraines are so debilitating that they force their sufferers to miss all activity, others are just monkeys riding your back and weighing you down. A lot of times my migraines come during the school day and I will have to have my dad pick me up and take me home–driving while suffering from a migraine can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Go to a dark room, drink a lot of water, and relax. Worrying about your migraine will only make it worse. Try to sleep if possible, it’s one of my favorite methods of self-care.

3. Track Them 

Having migraines can be confusing and super stressful. I like to use the app Migraine Buddy to keep tabs on my migraines. Not only does this app keep track of pain intensity, duration, possible triggers, and relief methods, but it also sends cute messages to make you feel good! Overall, it’s a really good idea to keep track of your migraines so it’s easier to talk to your physician about them.

4. Seek Professional Help

If your migraine is the worst you’ve ever had, you need to go to the hospital. If your migraines are taking over your life, see your doctor. Typically the first attempt at treatment is to take Excederin Migraine medicine, so try taking it to see if it helps your migraines. If Exceredin doesn’t provide relief, talk to your doctor about other methods of treatment. Your migraines don’t have to take over your life!

More Info on Migraines:

Am I having a migraine? 

What type of treatment do I need? 

What are some alternative treatment methods? 

 

 

Why I Love Science

Science is like the hot girl that all the guys want: mysterious, interesting, has a lot of depth to it. It doesn’t always make sense and can be a real b*tch when you’re sitting in Advanced Placement Chemistry and can’t explain why bromine is a liquid at room temperature and iodine is a solid. Science is so many things. Science is biology. Science is chemistry. Science is physics. Science is astronomy. Science is the reason why straws are a thing that people use all the time. Without science we’d be living until age thirty and dying of bacterial infections. How could you not love it?

When I was in second grade I hated science. I found it confusing and simply refused to learn about it. I scored in the fourty-second percentile in science on our yearly standardized test, a score that was a stranger to my ninety-ninth percentile in math and english. My mother, who teaches science, was mortified. As I grew older and entered middle school, I hated science slightly less, but I still didn’t love it. I tolerated it the same way I tolerate dairy: not at all (I’m VERY lactose intolerant btw). I rolled my eyes as my outwardly homophobic and sexist seventh grade science teacher explained facts about the soil and facts about endangered species.

Everything changed once I entered high school. My mother coerced me into taking the “dumb kid” science class, Foundations of Science, which included earth science, intro to chemistry, and intro to physics. Along with this I also took Biology I. Taking biology and learning things about the human body and how it functions led to my love for science. Learning about earth science was a lot less painful when my teacher was hot (not sorry if you read this Dr. Ayers o well). Learning about evolution was a contributing factor to my escape from Catholicism, a positive change if you ask me.

In my free time I love to read various non-fiction books about science. I’ve read books covering different mental disorders, epigenetics, and evolution to name a few. Not hating science is truly a beautiful thing.

Although I plan on going into math rather than science in college, science will always be my passion. No matter where I work or what I do, I’ll still be reading science articles and keeping updated on science news.

Below is my absolute favorite video that exists on YouTube. Please watch it 🙂

Not Quite Good Bye

Hello to all ten of my loyal (LOL) followers!!!

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for reading (more realistically, skimming) my hastily-written blog posts for this school year. Whether you’ve been reading since the beginning, or have only glanced at a few posts, I appreciate the fact that you spent your own time reading my crappy work. I’ve slaved my Sunday evenings typing rapidly just to reach word count. I have changed the topic of my posts a few times, but in my opinion these changes were all for the best. And by best I mean it made the required blogs the slightest bit less painful for me to bullsh–carefully craft.

Even though this blog hasn’t always been fun for me, I’ve learned to love it like that problematic family member we all seem to have. Blogging has given me the opportunity to write about things that I’m interested in, particularly science. This blog has been my personal excuse to be constantly reading science articles and journals and watching random documentaries. My poorly-written blog is a sanctuary for the very nerdy side of me that many people don’t get to fully experience.

I’d like to think that this blog has strengthened my writing skills. If my writing hasn’t gotten better, I have at least become faster at writing. Half-asleep, coffee-powered Natalie writing at noon on Sunday after rolling out of bed hasn’t been half bad at promptly spitting out 1200 words.

Not being compelled to write 1200 words a week spread among three posts might actually be slightly disappointing. As much as I hate to admit, blogging isn’t that bad when it’s about something I’m intrigued by. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship.

I’m not saying I’m going to religiously be posting on this blog over the summer and into the next school year, but I may indulge in a few posts just for fun. Expect more informal rants about my personal problems and encounters (hahaha) and more posts covering a wider variety of topics. In general, don’t count on too much from this blog in the coming months.
Thank you to anyone who has wasted even a few minutes of their time to read my shitty blog (including you, Dr. Ayers). I can’t say it’s been a perfect year, but I definitely did enjoy at least a couple minutes of my time as a junior in high school and as a student in AP Language and Composition.