Inhale, exhale.

As I breathe in deeply, I exhale anxiety.

In my breath, I hold the power to move forward.

What is it about the air?

When it is at perfect temperature it satisfies my bones so much to the point that I can be so weak yet feel so strong?

Some may say when they look out into the distance, among the sky, the water, or the mountains…that it makes them feel minuscule.

But I feel empowered.

The purified pink sky with its orange undertones fill my lungs until there is no more space.

No worry.

No remorse.

I am exhaling fear.

Rejection runs through my veins and up into my throat until it suffocates me.

I could hate my body, myself, and my actions, but when I step foot into the tall grass, I feel freedom.

I am exhaling guilt.

The warm air feels like silk against my skin.

The fresh, intense smells of a new season, I inhale.

And with that life-giving breath, I exhale.

Releasing all the pain and sorrow that thinks it still has a hold of me.

No matter what the pain of the past, present, or future holds, when I exhale, I feel redemption.

I lay, feeling the depths of despair; with roars of death and hopelessness my heart swells.

I lay there, exhausted, but unable to rest.

Tormented, yet unable to escape.

But when I breathe deeply, I remember that with every roar there is a whisper.

For every drop of pessimism there is a drip of hope.

For every tear, there is warmth.

It sends satisfaction through my bones as I remember the sunrise that awakens me every morning.

I wake up flooded by emotions.

I am filled with depression, rage, rejection, and disconnection, but when I remember to breath, I have the power to dismiss them.

I have the power to dismiss my toxic feelings because I have oxygen in my lungs, a heart with a pulse, and an empowered mind.

 

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Recognition

As I turned from page to page through my journal dated in 2010 my eyes welled up with tears.

I promised myself I would never look at any of my journal entries from throughout the past six years unless I was totally ready, and finally, I felt like I truly was.

I was so astonished; I laid in bed and cried all night long.

I have thought about publishing this blog post for the last month, but I guess I felt a little ashamed.

This is because about a month and a half ago my dad asked me , “who are you truly doing all this for? All the counseling, reading, and medication. Yourself or others?”

I felt my throat begin to swell up and my eyes shifted towards the floor because there was no doubt in my mind what the answer was.

I know I had been doing things for others instead of myself.

I had been doing things because I wanted people to accept me.

Maybe I am the only one to admit it…even though we all do.

I have a fear of being left, boring, aggravating, and forgotten.

I have loved being diagnosed this past year because it has given me so many answers, but it has also given me so many insecurities.

In order to get anywhere with the issues that actually hurt our inner being…there will always be an uphill battle.

As I have talked about in my previous blog posts, this past year has been very hard on my pride and me.

If I had any pride what so ever it has definitely been stripped of me.

I have heard criticism and I have applied it.

I have read books about my issues and I have absorbed them.

I have been given medication, and I have cooperated.

I go to counseling weekly and I am given life skills to better myself, consistently.

And I have decided I am tired of being judged by others, myself, and society.

I could not be more ready to move on to the accepting stage of my diagnosis.

I am ready to own who I am.

To no longer hate the face in the mirror, the heart that I hold, and the mind that is stuck within my far too small brain.

That’s exactly how it feels. Like I have a mind the size of Texas with only enough space for something as small as Rhode Island.

There is no where for my mind to go.

Its trapped within my brain which is trapped within my skull.

Which is trapped within my skin.

It is never ending. I will never get away from whom I am.

That night of reading my journals from middle school up until the end of my senior year of high school was full of tears of regret, but also of victory.

I have come so far.

I am proud of myself.

To anybody else this night may have sounded extremely sad and strange, but to me it was such a statement to myself.

With every single page turn I read about how deep and dark my depression was even in the seventh grade.

How it boiled within my soul until it finally erupted and left me as nothing but what I believed to be useless trash.

But these journal entries brought me comfort.

People will always throw labels, stereotypes, and whatever other hateful things they can at you, but I do not care about trying to make every single person like me any longer.

Because when I read those journals, I saw how far I have come, and that is all that matters.

I want to be in the “acceptance stage” of my grieving process from my diagnosis and I am going to be.

I am done feeling angry.

I am going to use my mental health issues which can be debilitating and actually show people they CAN be the exact opposite.

I am going to use my excessive amounts of energy to converse with as many people as possible everyday and remind them how beautiful they are.

I want to be going 100 miles an hour and then sink down to o, and instead of being so embarrassed and upset with myself, acknowledge it.

I cannot suffocate who I am, and I will not.

I have spent too much time trying to figure out how I can still be normal and how I can still keep everything perfect all the time and that is impossible.

All I can do is take care of me, and that is what I am going to do.

I am putting up this blog post because sometimes you just need to recognize yourself and your achievements.

Everyone needs recognition, and sometimes that is the thing that keeps us pushing.

So if you have not recognized and appreciated yourself lately, go take yourself out for coffee, sit outside and enjoy the fresh air, and congratulate yourself for still being here and pushing every day, because everyday is another uphill battle, and you are winning.

 

Stop the Silence

When I look around and I see people say that God is dead, or was never real, my mind is so boggled.

But can I really blame them for making these claims?

When I turn on the news, read magazines, or even participate in conversations with strangers, I am bombarded with tragic stories of what has become the norm in our world today.

But my mind is not boggled just because I am a Christian girl who has never even once opened up her mind to all the other possible outcomes.

Because I have…

I have spent hours researching different religions.

I have read books on different religions.

I have studied different sections from the key religions that make up the world we live in.

This is simply because I want to be educated and open-minded to those around me who may feel or view things differently than myself.

I want people to know me for who I am and what I stand for, yet still consider me to be one of the most loyal and kind-hearted people they have ever met.

It seems like in today’s society the two do not seem to mix any longer.

Love and religion in today’s generation are drifting farther and farther away from one another, even though they are supposed to be the exact same thing.

But progressive thinking does not have to come with the loss of religion.

To me, if society is progressing in its thinking and religion chooses not to accept those people for who they are…then we are being just as large of hypocrites as anyone else.

Could Christians themselves truly be the ones who have caused people to be so hateful towards their religion?

I do not think that all things that are claimed about Christians are true, but some of them we must admit to.

Once I chose to truly own my faith in high school, I realized…Christians are constantly under a microscope.

Some people choose not to believe in God solely because all they are seeing around them is hateful, fake, judgmental people.

It is sad that a religion that is supposed to be so loving, is so legalistic.

I wish I could see when this happened, and why religion and rules can turn people from people of peace, to people of disgust.

Christians may say it is not fair that we are held up to such high standards, that we are the first to be ridiculed, but it is fair.

2 Timothy 3:12 and Matthew 5:10 are perfect examples that God does in fact say that this is what is supposed to happen.

I know this post may sound like I am ranting, but the point is to say that in situations like we are seeing in today’s society, the people who claim to be the most loving, peaceful, and caring should be the first to be there for those who are being discriminated against in any way.

It does not matter what someone’s race, sexual orientation, mental state, economical status, or anything else may be.

We are called to love, and that is all we should be doing.

Could it be that in today’s society the reason why so many people hate religion and specifically Christianity is because of the people they meet?

I have met many people in my life who have told me they never want to have a relationship with the Lord because of the attitudes they have seen illustrated through other Christians.

Just like our country is progressing in its thinking today, I believe those who love the Lord also need to stay educated in what is going on in order to continue loving people in the best way possible.

With all that to say, this past week’s tragedies have burdened my heart so badly.

Our country needs more love, more protection, more affection, more regulation, and more acceptance of all individuals.

And I believe it starts with you and I.

 

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

TW: Mental health, OCD, phobias

This post contains brief mentions of sexual violence; if you in any way feel you may be triggered by this, do not read. Here is a resource for support: https://www.rainn.org/after-sexual-assault

One of the main reasons why I began this blog was to help people better understand mental health, and fight against the stigmas that come along with them.

I want to talk about OCD.

I feel like this mental illness might be one if not the most downplayed, overused, and generalized disorder out there.

I have gotten so sick of hearing people make fun of this issue, or say they are “so OCD” about something, when they have no idea what really this illness entails.

When people overgeneralize words and feelings, it makes it much harder for those who really are struggling deeply with this issue to stand up and try to be heard.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neurobiobehavioral disorder that entails obsessions followed by compulsions in order to temporarily relieve anxiety.

Obsession is the part of the disorder that cause a one-track mind. It can cause someone to be unable to focus or think about anything else because of how bothered and consumed he or she is with the obsession.

Compulsions are behaviors, rituals, or mental thoughts that, for an extremely short amount of time, can relieve anxiety or distress from the person.

There are six types of OCD: Checking, Washing and Cleaning, Ordering and Repeating, Pure Obsessions, Hoarding, and Scrupulosity.

I have put the ones I struggle with in bold.

Checking may be self-explanatory.

My entire life, literally, I have spent checking everything, not thinking it was strange…I just thought it is what everyone does.

What is frustrating is that many times OCD can be amplified by fears and anxiety, or in my case, having a phobia.

Since I was even as young as four or five I have been absolutely petrified of the dark. As a child, I had five or six night-lights at a time and my brother would pay me a quarter every time I would get rid of one.

I shared a wall with my parents growing up and whenever my mom would come in and tell me goodnight, the second she would shut the door, I would scream and cry and slam on their walls because I did not want to be alone in the dark.

Therefore, my OCD was amplified because of my phobia of the dark and of being harmed, and it has followed me forever. I never explained to anyone my rituals until finally my senior year of high school I told my mother that it had been taking me over an hour and a half to get myself into bed every night. This was because I had to check all around my room and the house before even attempting to try and fall asleep.

My fear of the dark and being harmed had driven me all the way to walking around and making sure every door in the house was locked two or three times before going upstairs, checking behind the shower curtains, and then once I got into my room I would look in my closet, in all the corners, under my bed, ect.

Then I would turn off the lights and do it all over again in the dark. After that, I would get in bed, and then get out of bed and do it again, until I had completed this ritual four or five times.

When I told my mom this I guess it was brought more to my attention that these things weren’t normal.

My OCD progressed so badly through out high school that I would not even attempt to go to sleep at night because of my phobia of the dark, and how long my rituals would take me.

Pure obsessions are when you have repeated, intrusive thoughts of harm and danger that cannot seem to escape your mind. The compulsions for this all happen mentally. This can entail replaying the disturbing thought or image over and over in your brain until you feel as though you have “perfected” or “fully understood” the situation.

So for me, I can distinctly remember since I was around ten years old having extremely vivid and gruesome dreams of being sexually violated.

As I entered into high school the dreams became worse and I would have them monthly, and then by the time I was going into my freshman year of college, they were happening weekly.

These dreams were so disturbing that I would wake up bawling and shaking.

I would run into my mom’s room, crying, and lay in her arms for almost an hour without speaking because I could not understand or vocalize how disturbed and disgusted I was.

And finally, the OCD that people have probably heard the least of, Scrupulosity.

This is when your OCD patterns enter into your spiritual life.

It is obsessing over the idea of offending God to even the mildest degree. Then, feeling the need to continually repent, and feel mass amounts of guilt to an unhealthy level.

When I first heard of this type of OCD, I flipped out.

It was right up my alley.

Through out my life I have continually felt this insane amount of pressure to be perfect, or else God would hate me and think I was less than.

If I messed up in even the slightest way, I would beat myself up for months.

This caused me to end relationships that I was scared were unhealthy and imperfect.

This drug me away from others because I could not handle not being in control.

This has controlled me.

OCD is controlling and unyielding.

The problem with mental illnesses is if they are not controlled, they WILL control.

OCD has run my life for years and I am just now realizing it.

It has been keeping me chained to anxiety.

It has caused me to be late to work, class, and vacations because of fear that I may have burned my house down.

It has caused me to have the darkest thoughts of pain and suffering that wake me up in anguish and agony.

And it has strayed me away from God time after time, fooling me that I am never going to be good enough.

But I cannot express my happiness, because I am fighting it, and I am winning.

I still 100% have obsessive thoughts, and yes I do have compulsions that I act on, but they are declining.

After reading books on my brain, making charts in counseling, and lots of self talk, I am at the point where I am able to get in bed within twenty minutes!

I am able to disregard hallucinations I may see, sounds I may hear, and images that may disturb me because I know it is my mind trying to trick me into fear.

And I am learning that I am a human being.

I am starting to understand myself, even the parts that make zero sense.

OCD can be battled.

Up From the Ashes

TW: Depression, dark thoughts, suicide, mental health, Bipolar, OCD

Life is full of disappointments.

I have spent so much of my life feeling disappointed.

Disappointed by others, myself, experiences, love, and so much more.

 

Recently my grandfather shared so much wisdom with me.

We talked about how life has 4 quarters, and I am in the first: ages 0-25.

He explained how so many great and amazing things happened to him within his first quarter.

I am not going to lie…my eyes immediately welled up with tears.

I always feel so terrified when people tell me that the years I am in right now will be the best of my life.

Within the conversation with my grandfather, I had a flashback to a night during my senior year of high school.

I was having to make a timeline of all the bad things I had experienced within the last 6 years of my life, and then I was supposed to rip it into shreds and leave it in my “past”.

My timeline reached from wall to wall.

It was full of sorrowful and saddening experiences I had felt and walked through towards the end of middle school and all my years of high school.

 

I look back at my first quarter thus far, and all I can see is that timeline.

Four or five brutal times through out high school of having dark, suicidal thoughts.

Experiencing tragic heartache that I did not even think was possible to feel.

Depression that was so consuming that it left me isolated, with only me and my pessimistic thoughts.

And fear, lots of fear.

 

But as my grandfather talked to me about the four quarters of life, he told me how someday when all of us reflect, we will truly see just how amazing life was, and how the good always outweighed the bad.

I stand today, alive, seeing that this must hold to be true, or else I would not still be here.

I would go through all the heartache that I have endured all over again if it meant that it would lead me to whom I love today, because he is so worth it.

I would go through the friendships that have come and gone in my life that I miss so dearly if it would lead me to the couple of great friends I have now, because they are worth it.

I would take on the uncomfortable and excluded feelings I had all through high school because I was not like others if it meant that I would have the opportunities to pour into some one, somewhere, because he or she was worth it.

My grandfather helped continue to open my eyes to see that it is all worth it.

So often I look at my past and see wasted space and wasted time.

I see a messed up teenage girl with no idea what to do with herself.

For years I had dreams, images, and replayed moments in my head reminding me of the time I had someone I loved tell me he would never feel the way I felt for him.

I remember times that I have been lied to and left in the dust.

I remember continually giving more than I ever got back, but it was all worth it.

I hope I drove the people insane who I loved so deeply because at least they saw what it meant to be truly loved.

I hope I made people so uncomfortable by how much I cared for them because they deserved to be that cared for.

Even in moments when I feel like I have been done so wrong, it was worth it, because it was all supposed to happen.

It has left me with who I am, who I have, and who I want to become.

None of that matters now. What matters is what is ahead.

Do I look at my past and feel proud? Absolutely not. I was broken and defeated.

But now I look at it all, and I see how much it has shaped me.

I was forced to reinvent myself from my ashes.

I felt like I was thrown overboard.

Like I was left, abandoned, and forgotten by the person that I would have literally died for, but it is fascinating because it lead me to the person who did die for me.

I do not even care if that is the most cliché or mushy thing I have ever written, it is true.

I stand today alive and better than ever! Still not great, but I am getting there.

My grandfather taught me something that I will now never forget, life is about perspective.

It is about reflecting and not seeing all the times you failed or were forgotten, but about how many times you rose from the ashes and continued to fight.

I have always been told that my “first quarter” would be my best quarter, but that clearly has not been the case.

But it is not too late to turn the tables.

It is not about me, it was not about me, and it will not be about me.

It is about what is supposed to be, and if that was what needed to happen, than I am thankful.

I know what I want now.

I always felt like throughout high school the tragic moments I had felt within my heart were just going to cause me to grow more and more bitter as I grew older, but I think the opposite is coming about.

I think times are looking up, at least for now.

Since the eighth grade I have been taught lessons that could not have been shown to me any other way other than through experience.

The lesson of love, losing it…and it never returning.

The lesson of trial and error.

The lesson of fighting for my heart.

The lesson of fighting for my joy.

The lesson of fighting for my life.

The lesson of fighting my mind.

The lesson of fighting off demons.

And the last and most important lesson, the lesson of Christ’s faithfulness.

The number one person that I felt like left me was here all along, or else I would not be here.

I spent endless nights lying in bed bawling thinking, “where is the God who said He so desperately loves me? If you love me, than why am I am so empty and disgusting.”

I felt like I was better off dead, and I figured He thought the same of me since I was not progressing what so ever.

But now I see the devil’s nasty tricks.

He fooled me into thinking a human’s rejection meant I was unloved, forgotten, and dismissed by all people.

But God proved me wrong, He always does.

The very times I think He is the farthest away are the times when He is standing not even beside me, but in front of me, fighting off the demons, and fighting for my life.

 

And that is where my fresh, new, and beautiful perspective starts.

Life still scares me.

Love still makes me sick to my stomach for fear of losing it, yet again.

I am still terrified to trust.

I still have my questions, anger, and doubt.

But my perspective is literally being changed each day because of faithfulness.

God is removing the callous’ from my heart that the devil so desperately tried to cover me in.

 

I am my own worst enemy.

Medication- it is a beautiful thing.

But, as a person who struggles with bipolar disorder, it can be viewed as an enemy. A prescription given to me to take away the feelings that I view as normal.

The feelings I have had for nineteen years.

After seven months of working up to the therapeutic level of Lamotrigine (lamictal), a mood stabilizer often given to those with bipolar disorder, I am truly feeling it.

It absorbs itself more within my bloodstream each and every day, taking away my highs and lows.

My times of being overly wired, hyper, talkative, engaged, introspective, and the list could go on, feel as though they have been brought down to a slower pace. And how does this make me feel?

Numb. Boring. Uncomfortable.

Yes, I am aware that people with bipolar disorder highly struggle with staying on their medication, because it takes them away from their different forms of mania.

People want to feel what they feel.

Their moments of feeling unstoppable, invincible, powerful, and alive.

Sometimes, taking this medication can make me feel like I am losing who I am.

So many thoughts run through my head saying, I don’t feel like I need this. I can handle myself. I wont have another hypomanic episode. I wont fall into a deep depression again. I wont lose control. I will be okay. I can be normal.

The tension that can come along with taking medication can be heart wrenching.

I feel as though I am having to learn a new way of life after spending nineteen years of being an insanely passionate, depressing, overly anxious, hyper, excessive human.

Now do not get me wrong, I will always carry these traits with me, but the lamictal will help to stabilize them.

Sounds like such a good thing right? Then why is it so hard to view it this way?

My mind whispers things to me about how I am being told to take this medication because I am supposed to “fit in.”

I have to take this medication to be “regular.”

My own judgmental and angry thoughts try to take me away from the point of my medication, which is to help me be safe and sustainable.

Half of the challenge of having a struggle related to mental health is choosing whether or not you are going to fight it.

It is so much easier to give in.

To not take my medication when no one is looking and then lie and say that I did.

To stop going to counseling.

To allow myself to go off the charts again.

To lay in bed until I am forced to get up.

To wallow in my own self pity for weeks, cry until I physically have no tears left, and reflect on my life, thinking about all the “what if” questions.

 

But the real challenge is standing up to myself.

I would have to say that I am by far my own worst enemy.

Therefore, I have to choose to have a stronger voice than my own whispers and thoughts.

I have to learn to tell myself the exact opposite of how I feel.

For the past month…I have felt numb.

Am I actually numb? No.

But my mind is used to vigorous peaks of hypomania and depths of depression.

 

This medication helps to keep me sane.

This medicine helps me to not be depressed.

This medication helps me to be stable.

But I have to force myself to see this bright side, or else all I can see in front of me is a pill that is trying to alter who I am.

I have always been so overly in touch with my emotions that I am terrified of the idea of feeling emotionless.

Emotions are a beautiful thing, but we can so easily abuse them.

Befriending Yourself.

With my freshman year of college behind me, it has caused me to reflect.

This year has been insane, literally.

I have officially been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder as well as OCD.

Many mental illnesses have been overgeneralized, downplayed, and even made fun of because people are not fully grasping the severity of them.

As I continue this blog I will definitely go into further detail about what exactly these disorders are as well as my personal experiences with them, but for today I will stick to my other thoughts.

I waited to post this until I felt like I was ready to come to terms with it myself.

I have been battling my own judgmental thoughts for the past seven months.

How do I allow these labels to bring me peace when I feel so shameful of them?

How do I remain confident when the stigma behind so many disorders is that “those people are crazy” or “those types of people just need to stay on their medication.”

We must change this stigma.

Souls, moods, personalities, hearts, and minds are broken because people feel out casted for things they cannot control.

My entire life I have questioned my sanity.

Now that I have learned about my final diagnosis, I have had to remind myself that it is okay that I am different from others.

That my mood may be more rapid.

That my thoughts might be more intrusive.

That I may be much more emotional.

More depressed.

More anxious.

More talkative.

The likelihood of me having Bipolar disorder as well as OCD was slim to nothing.

There was a 1.5% chance of me having Bipolar disorder, and 2-3% chance of me having OCD.

I do not line up with any of the statistics.

So, this has left me with two options: to hate myself and every single way I operate, or to realize there is a specific reason I was made this way.

I was made this way on purpose.

My extreme highs and very low lows are painful and can be harmful, but through out my life I have been able to connect with others in ways I did not even think were possible due to how many different feelings I have endured.

My intrusive thoughts that have caused me to stay awake until 5:00 AM, only to be woken back up at 7:00 AM from morbid dreams that leave me speechless.

These exact moments are the times that make me empathize with those around me the most.

I want to comfort people’s minds.

That is why I am here.

The issue with our society is that everyone feels so alone. They think no one understands them whatsoever. But we are all thinking this exact same way…that no one understands us.

Therefore, we never even give people a chance to, and this leaves us completely isolated with our thoughts and ourselves.

You are not defined by what the world tells you that you are.

Male or female, you are a beautiful creature.

The goal of this post is to express that nothing is too weird, nasty, or intense to not share you story.

It does not matter how different it is from others.

In order to bring souls together all over the world we must break free from the bondage of our own minds, and the world’s critical remarks.

Embrace your creative, intricate mind.

I have spent my entire life staring at a reflection that I loathed.

Sometimes, I definitely still do, but I want to change this so that I can really understand what it means to love myself.

I do not care if this takes me my entire life, I will fight for my mind and my mood.

When intrusive thoughts crowd my mind and suffocate me, I will befriend them, and speak things over myself to reiterate that I am in fact okay.

I will welcome my disorders so that I can better love myself.

I cannot keep running from who I am, and who I will be my whole life.

They make me the overly passionate person that I am.

Yes, this makes me different from my peers, but I must move past this in order to continue doing big things in the world around me.

Do not ever think you are too emotional, too unstable, or too crazy to have a say.

I stayed quiet for so long because I thought I was psychotic, and needed to get over the things that haunted me from my past.

I thought my dark thoughts were normal.

I thought my extreme mood swings were just part of “being a girl”, but these things are not true.

So today, I am openly speaking about my diagnosis, because I am choosing to love myself.

If this is you, speak out.

Remember you are unique. Not strange.

Yes, this journey will be long, but I am no longer ashamed and no one should have to be.