Sunday, February 16, 2014

Post-High School Happiness

Hello, friends! Remember that time I said I would post every day leading up to Valentine's Day? Well, clearly that was a big "oops" on my part; my university closed on Thursday and Friday after we got hit with nearly a foot of snow, leaving me perfectly content sitting in bed doing nothing productive. Not that I think of you as a chore or anything, but when it's so cozy under the covers and the Netflix queue just seems to stretch on for miles, it's hard to even peel out to go to bathroom down the hall. But anyway, I had an amazing Valentine's Day, or rather Galentine's Day. Kickin' it single girls' style is some of the most fun you can have on February 14th, if you allow yourself to be positive about the whole situation. And when your roommate gives you a stuffed animal monkey that sings One Direction it's hard to feel glum and unloved. Plus, you can't go out to get 1 AM milkshakes in your pajamas with your boyfriend, but the girls you've met in college are more than willing.



A few fun photos from Galentine's Day,
thanks to my beautiful friends for agreeing to be featured on the blog.

As you can see, I have some lovely college friends, and that's only three out of the fair few. I feel genuinely blessed to have attracted such nice, positive people into my life, but trust me it took some time to come into this current state of friend-bliss. And that's what I wanted to talk about today: as we encroach on the 1st anniversary of my onset of my depression, I find it important and worthwhile to reflect. 

As just a brief disclaimer of sorts, I thought I'd mention that while some of the behavioral tendencies I developed from the disorder will never be 100% eradicated from my life, I have overall moved past that period. I would definitely not label myself as a depressed person anymore, though I can acknowledge that in the past I was. As I explain my story, I understand that the triggers seem very juvenile and unimportant compared to others' experiences, but I would appreciate receiving the same open-mindedness and sensitivity. Anyway, this is still a hard period of my life to talk about so frankly, but as I've come through to the other side of the mental illness, I feel a responsibility to help others dealing with the same issues, especially kids still in middle and high school.

Without delving too deep into personal details, I will say that my depression was caused by lying, destructive secret-keeping, and ultimately what I would consider verbal abuse from supposed close friends. This all happened during my senior year of high school, when unfortunately there's not much of an opportunity to avoid stressors or distance oneself from those causing problems. Around March and April, it got to a point where waking up in the morning to go to school was so difficult that I would stay in bed for as long as absolutely possible, dashing any sense of self-pride and vanity I previously felt. I went to school looking like a slob, reflecting how I felt on the inside most days. There were times when I made my mom call me in sick when I felt physically fine, but mentally strained (though it wasn't made a habit, I'm talking 4-5 days tops, spread out over multiple weeks). 

I never ever contemplated self-harm or suicide, thankfully, because instead I was seeing a therapist that helped me develop cognitive strategies to enhance my outlook. Additionally, I was never medicated for these issues, though I wanted to be. However, at the time I was a minor and couldn't make this decision for myself, and my mom felt it would ultimately be more destructive to rely on prescription drugs. I was originally mad at her, because I just wanted to feel okay again, but looking back I agree wholeheartedly with her decision. Of course, there are people that experience symptoms more dire than mine were, and are appropriate candidates for medical remedies, and I'm not trying to belittle their coping strategies in the slightest. Anyway, the point is, I never turned to hurting myself or taking pills because instead I used college as my motivation. 

I applied early to all four schools I had an interest in, because I wanted my results sooner. Thankfully I did, because once I heard back from JMU in January of 2013, that was the centerpiece of my visualizations. If I had a particularly shitty day at school, I would sulk out to my car and see the Duke Dog bumper sticker, which lifted my mood a bit. If I rolled out of bed late and didn't want to face the mean kids in the hall, I would pull on a JMU sweatshirt as a socially-acceptable security blanket. All the adults in the life were confident that I would thrive in college, and though I didn't really believe them I held out hope that that would be the case. And guess what? They were right.

I think God is doing me a solid this year to make up for the damage He previously set in my path. I have the best, most supportive, most mature friends I could ever ask for and I truly feel loved and cherished. I live with a roommate that I consider a best friend, and every day I navigate a beautiful campus to get to class. I now have the energy and desire to wake up in time to put on cute clothes and makeup that makes me feel pretty, and I haven't once taken for granted that newfound sense of vanity. Sure, I still get homesick and I count down the days until I can go home sometimes, but overall I feel like a walking advertisement for the "It Gets Better" campaign. I'm not perfect, and some days I feel sad or like I've lost hope, but overall it feels awesome to prove myself. Some of you reading may feel uncomfortable with my openness and maybe even angered by my willingness to spill my dirty laundry, but if you fall into those categories maybe this post wasn't for you. I'm not asking for sympathy and I'm not trying to fake a "troubled artist" facade; rather I'm just hoping at least one kid that feels currently stuck in his or her situation will read this and feel inspired to keep going or make necessary improvements. Whoever you are, I promise there are beautiful things and wonderful people waiting for you, and it'd be beyond awesome if you were around to see them.




I love you and appreciate your willingness to read about my past. You are all cherished and such a cathartic part of my life. I hope you have a wonderful week and will reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. xx

1 comment :

  1. you're an awesome, kick ass princess and i'm glad you're happy

    ReplyDelete