We Are All Warriors. Every Day.

Culture & Society

I was racking my brains for what to write for today. I wanted to write this glowing post to honor World Suicide Prevention Day.

And then I realized something.

The reason why I couldn’t write that glowing post wasn’t because I had writer’s block. It was because I felt like everything I had to say on the subject had already been said.

I am not at that point in my recovery where I can believe that no one else can play my part. I’m at that place where I’m struggling to find the balance with living life and relying on my story as fuel. I went from not sharing my story at all to sharing it very publicly. And now I’m trying to find that middle ground.  Recovery is a daily process. It’s battle we fight every day. Everyone goes through pain. Pain and disability do not make us special. We are ALL warriors.

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The Truth Behind Depression & Suicide: My Thoughts On Robin Williams’ Passing

Culture & Society, Miscellaneous Musings, Re-framing Your Thinking

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I am not a numbers person. Contrary to my stereotype, I was horrible at math. But consider this:

 

With numbers like these, you would think that depression would have been more widely accepted as a real disease. Sure, people are talking about it a lot more (which is great), but how long will that discussion last?

Will people take Robin Williams’ passing as the final kick in the pants and continue the discussion after his unfortunate suicide fades from headlines? Or will we forget about it and go back to our merry lives until another celebrity lends their voice to the issue or passes away?

The choice is yours.

I know where I stand because I’ve been on the verge of ending my life before. I’m still battling the demons of depression.

The hardest part was not the swallowing of the pills. It was not sitting for hours on a therapist’s sticky leather couch. It was not suppressing the urge to cut every time the medicine hit my system.

The hardest part was staying.

Staying alive for my friends and family.

Staying alive and hearing things like “It will get better,” even though life kept giving me reasons to throw the towel in.

Sometimes letting go is easier than staying.

 

I know that I didn’t believe that my life could get better. All I saw was the reality in front of me. And that reality was that my life wasn’t fun.

You could argue that suicide only benefits one person and leaves so many hurt people in the wake of tragedy. But I know that when I was thinking about dying, I wasn’t thinking about how selfish I was. I was not thinking that suicide would be a free pass. I was thinking about how I would no longer be a burden to my family and friends.

You could call Robin Williams selfish, but I’d be willing to bet that he held on for as long as he did because of his loved ones.

 

My friends are the only reason I’ve held on for this long.

 

Robin Williams was the one who said that we are all given “a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

What will you do with your one spark of madness?

 

The 3 Biggest Mistakes I Made As I Tried To Get Over A Block

Re-framing Your Thinking

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We all have those days where we feel like we’re slogging through molasses.

Like we’re getting nowhere.

 

You’re working toward you goals day in and day out but you’re not seeing results. You want to scream at the ceiling, “What the [insert your expletive of choice here] am I doing wrong?

 

And no matter how many times you read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and cover your bulletin board with colorful sticky notes with his quotes, there’s going to be a point where you just run out of gas.

 

Because we’re not robots.

 

 

A few months ago, I broke down. I felt like I had shaken off anesthesia and come across the international dateline while trying to fend off jetlag.

 

Woozy. Sluggish.

 

People tell you that things will pan out, that you’ll be okay. But sometimes encouragement can turn around and bite you where you don’t want to be bitten.

 

Anyone who’s followed the blog knows that I have a love-hate relationship with Japan. There’s one word in particular that I have a love-hate relationship with. Ganbaru: to do your best. It’s used to cheer people on, to give encouragement.

 

Sure, it’s great if you’re watching someone run a marathon, and it’s great to have encouragement, but there’s a flip side to that.

 

I don’t know about you, but if I kept hearing “Do you best” being screamed at me every day, I’d push myself.

 

And I’m not sure pushing themselves has worked well for the Japanese, considering the suicide rate.

 

When you’re going through a hard time, often people will tell you that things will pan out, that the things that you’re experiencing will stretch you. And you might believe it given time.

A few hours, months, years, maybe. But in that moment?

 

Not so much.

 

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It’s probably the most unhelpful thing to say to a person when they’re going through a hard time (at least in my opinion). It’s nearly as unhelpful as the StayStrong hashtag.

In fact, that’s how I’ve come to think of the Japanese word Gambaru: the Japanese equivalent of the Stay Strong hashtag.

 

You can only stay strong for so long.

 

Then you fall apart. And if you don’t take the time to put yourself back together, you make mistakes.

 

These are mine.

 

Taking Criticism Too Seriously

 

I’m not saying to NOT take criticism seriously or to completely ignore it even if it’s being screamed at you through a bullhorn; it helps you grow. As a figure skater and a student, it pushed me to perform better, practice harder, pay attention to detail.

I wouldn’t call those things bad, would you?

 

A few months ago, my career took a bit of a detour. I received so much criticism that I began to micro analyze myself and the writing I was putting out.

I would start to write, add things and delete over and over again, wondering if it was good enough, if this was what they wanted.

 

I let it bother me so much that I lost my confidence. I lost the very thing that I had been brought on board for: my passion that had leaped through the computer screen.

 

It’s normal to take a detour; it’s normal to doubt yourself, because everyone does. It can be tempting to let your mental CD player get stuck on one track, one line.

 

But chances are, you got that criticism as a way to help you improve.

 

Feel the emotions that come along with the criticism. It’s a lot easier to feel the emotions and let them pass through you than it is to push them down. Sit with the emotions and punch a pillow if you need to.

 

Lying To Yourself

 

I recently started this thing called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) where you tap on various points of the body while you talk to yourself about your feelings to help yourself move through an emotional block.

 

Yeah, woo-woo, I know. I’m not doing a great job of explaining it.

 

Long story short, there’s one line in this tapping meditation that beginners are taught to use that says, “Even though I (have or don’t have fill-in-the-blank), I deeply love and accept myself.

 

When I saw that line, I wanted to high-tail it out of there. The fact was that I didn’t love and accept myself. I mean, come on. We’re all a work in progress, aren’t we?

 

But I thought I had to do it in order for this new thing to work.

So I tried it.

Let’s just say that I dropped it like I was holding molten lava.

 

It’s hard to really heal when you don’t believe the positive things you’re telling yourself.

 

You won’t feel beautiful if you don’t believe that you are.

 

Yeah, those negative emotions won’t be pretty. But lying to yourself won’t make the truth go away.

 

You don’t have to spill your secrets on a public platform, but at least admit it to yourself. If something doesn’t vibe with you, acknowledge that to yourself. It’s a lot easier than becoming a human volcano.

 

Don’t Push Yourself

 

I read over and over again that the best way to become a better writer was to write more.

 

And while I believe that, let’s just say that more drafts ended up in the trash can icon on my laptop this week than in my Posts folder.

 

Sure, perseverance is great, but when feel like you’re shoving yourself up against a brick wall, a breather is necessary.

 

People can tell when the stuff you put out into the world is forced, not genuine. Which is why I decided to refrain from posting on my blog last week. I’d rather do that rather than force something that’s not genuine.

 

YOU know yourself best. Sometimes blocks are good things in disguise. You have to do what feels right for YOU at that particular moment.

 

What sorts of things do YOU do to get yourself out of block?

Image Credit: Pinterest.

How To Turn Your Pain Into Power (And 3 Little Things To Know Before You Do)

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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How many personal social media accounts do you own?

1?

2?

3?

(Or better yet, 0?)

My inner communications major has never been a huge fan of social media. I mean the term “privacy” has gone out the window, the word “friend” is a verb (how weird is that?) and don’t even get me started on cyber-bullying.

On the plus side, social media has given birth to a whole wealth of jobs. It also lets people communicate with their loved ones and friends using something that’s a lot faster than email.

They can be really helpful if you use them right, but they can also bring a lot of pain.

Everyone goes through pain. Sure, other people around you might have gone through similar issues, dealt with them in different ways, but everyone goes through it. No one got anywhere zooming around a real-life Monopoly board collecting $200 every time they passed Go.

Yes, it’s scary as heck, but people relate to vulnerability.

The girl I was a year ago would have looked at the person I am now and thought I was on some kind of drug for saying that. She would have thought I was crazy for starting a blog.

At the time, I thought blogs were reserved for companies and people like Perez Hilton.

I wasn’t the CEO of a billion dollar company, and I had no interest in which celebrity was dating who. All I wanted to do was find a job.

Therefore, I had no interest in starting a blog. Who would want to read about my daily woes anyway?

Then a friend asked me 2 questions:

“What do YOU offer the world? Where can you share your experiences and stories to help other people feel like they aren’t alone in their own experience?”

That made me realize that I could help other people by sharing my story. So I bit the bullet and claimed a WordPress account.

When I shared my story back in November on my blog, I remember my fingers shaking as I went to press the Publish button. I was staring at the cursor for a long time, listening to the battle in my head.

“Yes.”

“No.”
“DO IT”.

“DON’T do it.”

“You’ve already come this far, just hit the big blue button.”

“Are you crazy?!”

“Yes, little voice in my head, I heard you.”

“No, no, no, no.”

“Do not press that blue button. I repeat. DO NOT PRESS IT.”

“Too late.”

“OK fine.”

I spent the next 48 hours wondering what ungodly power possessed me to a) start a blog and b) share the most painful part of my past with the Internet.

But then I realized something.

I was free.

That post gave me freedom. There was nothing to hide from anyone anymore. It was already out there.

There were no likes on the post, no comments, but I didn’t care. Setting myself free was a greater gift than the fleeting stab of joy we all get when we see a little notification on our social media networks.

A few months later, I got a message from a college friend, who told me that they really related to what I had already written, and found it extremely helpful. They encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.

Cue the waterworks. Knowing that I helped this person was better than the feeling I got walking across the stage at my university’s commencement ceremony.

Fast forward to now.

I’m still chugging along, struggling to figure out my issues. I forget to meditate sometimes. I can’t tell you that I haven’t thought about going back to my not-so-happy place.

But I know better now. That little Facebook message made me realize a few things:

1.    Putting Yourself Out There Can Be A Good Thing

Yes, it’s scary as hell, and you’re going to want to turn back because sharing your pain is…well…scary. But even if you aren’t a celebrity with thousands of Twitter followers that sing your praises, being vulnerable allows you to connect with people. You may not be finding the cure to cancer, but your story can help someone in some way.

2.    The Little Things Matter

Have you been bullied? Than you know how powerful words can be. Sometimes all it takes is one little thing to turn your day upside down. By the same token, it could be the smallest thing that makes your day magical.

It could be:

  • A conversation with a friend.
  • A kind email from a supervisor.
  • A smile.

Some of us live in places where we learn to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Some of us spend hours worrying about what we look like and starving ourselves when there are children (and adults) out there who eat out of trash cans to survive. There are those of us who take our education for granted when there are people who can’t even complete middle school.

I’m not trying to say that we should all volunteer abroad (although that is really high on my bucket list). The important thing is to recognize that the littlest things can make a big difference. YOU have the power to inspire others, to make someone’s day. Why not embrace that?

3.    Take Your Time

Have you ever rushed through something? What happened afterward? Were you happy with the result, or did you want to go back and do it again?

OK, maybe you’re that person who can pull really amazing things off at the last second, but in my experience, I generally felt like I’d cheated myself out of a job well done.

Sharing your story with the world is no different.

You don’t have to disclose everything once the floodgates open.

You have the power to choose what you put out there into the world. If you’re not ready to disclose certain things when people ask you, don’t.  

Honor yourself instead for your courage and the boundaries you set. Honor yourself for how far you’ve come. Sure you may not be Demi Lovato, but your story can have an impact that is just as powerful.

I’m going to say that again just in case you didn’t get that.

Your story matters.

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So be the warrior you know is inside you. Do not fear change, because your story could change someone for the better.

What can YOU offer the world?

P.S. Love the jewelery? Go to my website and tell your story  with customizable jewelery TODAY!