An Open Letter To Shame

An Open Letter To Shame

It's Time I Let You Go.

The weight of a boulder sinking from your tongue to your belly button.

The sound of a clock at the back of your brain; a feverish ticking that will never cease. Unspoken words sunk to the bottom a dark abyss like an abandoned ship- waterlogged and seasick.

Dear Shame,

When I was a child, you draped over me like an old quilt.

You placed your finger over my lips when my cries interrupted the peace of passengers on airplanes. You squeezed my shoulders tightly when I could not paint inside the lines. You were a library with no exit signs, an eternal home for silent speakers. With flushed cheeks, I learned to apologize for the sound of my voice.

You slowly climbed up my legs and down my throat like a malignant vine until you became a part of me. Now, when I inhale air into my asthmatic lungs, I exhale shame as carbon dioxide and poison from all the lives I have not lived.

You've devoured my insides and placed them carefully in a recycling bin- now I see them in plastic bottles and refurbished furniture. I hear my stories in the mouths of other girls who look nothing like me.

You are the sand I consumed on the preschool playground. Grit in my teeth, I did not tell anyone I had tried to swallow the beach. I did not want to be scolded for silly sunbathing. You are elementary school slivers, when I walked barefoot to feel the ground beneath my toes. You are school lunches I was hungry for, but was too afraid to eat. You are carrot sticks and celery, and pizza stains behind my bed.

You are ghost skin in middle school hallways and boys with cruel intentions. You are bottled sunshine and liquid gold that streaks my kneecaps. You are sports bras that I wear to make my breasts smaller. You are the two bras that I wore to make them look big.

You are olives on finger tips that I ate like blueberries. The scales I counted and the meals I skipped.

You are the tiles I measured in high school hallways.The skirts I held down when I walked up stairs. You are the shoulders I covered with two-finger straps. The fingertip lengths my dresses did not match. You are the ripped jeans I wore on weekends. The cigarettes I wanted to smoke. The friends I wanted to have, the friends that I lost.

You are the mountains on my skin that erupt like volcanos and craters that got left on the moon. The scars on my wrist that I covered in tar. You are fingerprints left on my bedroom mirror. You are roses left on my bedroom floor.

You are the nose that I pierced so that I would always smell metal instead of the perfume of my almost lover.

You are the shadows that I used to hide in my closet. The clothes that are too small and the clothes that are too big. You are the letters I wrote but never put a stamp on. You are my legs the moment before I trim off the hair. You are the sadness with which I play hide and go seek.

You are the boys that have looked at me like penny-candy, and the girls who have looked at me like gold. You are broken piano keys and a pas de deux where I always step on my partners feet.

You are in my throat, and do not let me speak.

Dear Shame,

You've fertilized flowers in my small intestine and bees sting my insides whenever you are near. It hurts, but God, how good it feels to grow daisies.

Dear Shame,

My acne scars are purple constellations dotting my pale skin. My sexuality is a map of bruises and self discovery that leads to glorious places. My sadness is low tide on the ocean, and oh God how I love to swim. My weight is measured by the meals and conversations I enjoy with friends.

My skirts are hiked up, you can see the creases of my skin. My legs are unshaved. My poems do not rhyme. My homework is unfinished on my unmade bed. My nails are chipped, my lips are chapped, I am undone.

I have mailed my letters. I have forgiven myself. When I sing off key, I write it into the song. I run naked on the pavement to feel the lives I live boiling inside of me. I paint outside the lines and strangers call it art. I tell my stories to strangers and recycle them into soda cans for the girl who is too thin.

The sand between my teeth has created beautiful scratches of enamel and beaches are blooming in my bleeding gums. I am a hot air balloon, I am a noisy airplane ride. I am a screaming child in the library in town. I am a torn flag waving in a summer parade. I am free.

Dear Shame,

You are a five letter word...but so is "pride".

Dear Shame,

I lived within your darkness for a while, but I had to see the light.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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How We Can Help Millennials With Mental Illnesses

Make Mental Health Less Taboo.

Over the course of my childhood, there have been people here and there who, including myself, have suffered from various mental illnesses. But recently, as I began college, I noticed more and more people having to deal with severe mental issues. Why is this happening? Were they always there and I just noticed? Or are we at that age where our brains are put under so much pressure that they cannot handle it without some type of medication?

This is a subject that has bothered me for a while. In high school, I had to tip-toe around others to hide that I'm dealing with things like anxiety and depression. But in college, as you are scrolling through your social media accounts, there are many jokes that normalize these mental illnesses. They become those "relatable" memes that everyone "likes." These memes include "funny" captions like "Netflix and Avoid People"

or "Me to me," with Kermit the frog talking to himself about self-destructive behaviors.

Not that comic relief isn't a good thing, but that makes it so normal that people don't understand the actual amount of suffering that happens while you are experiencing mental illnesses. There are "funny" memes where there are fake text messages saying phrases such as "I'm in the middle of a mental breakdown, you? / Just got through a mental breakdown."

While this is light, the main issue isn't addressed. Why are millennials (people approximately 18-early 30s) suffering from these mental illnesses?

My theory is that as we develop into adults, much like a sorting hat, it seems we are each assigned a battle to fight as we develop into who we are supposed to be. Maybe we are healthy children, but the habits we develop as adults cause some type of mental or physical illness.

According to an article for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

"Millennials are often referred to as the 'anxious generation.' They were the first to grow up with the constant overflow of the Internet and social media. The Internet can make life better, but it can also make life complicated, as Millennials often compare their personal and professional achievements to everyone else’s. This can result in low self-esteem and insecurity."

The article is right about social media causing low self esteem. I know when I was growing from a teen into an adult, I started to want to be friends with certain people because they looked "cool" on Facebook and Instagram. I diminished my achievements because it didn't seem "good enough" to match everyone else's. I'm not saying social media causes that actual chemical imbalance that is a mental illness, but it certainly doesn't help it.

Also, as I said before, maybe it's the fact that we are given more pressure somewhere, starting from the most important year in high school- junior year -and all throughout college when we are trying to figure out our career paths. We have deadlines, are expected to manage our time between rest, work, school, maintaining appearance and a social life. I know for a FACT if you have no social life, and I've had that, it can lead to depression; a socal life is just as important as the other parts of life.

I like to reference the mental and emotional health pyramid, also known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

The pyramid is not properly taught growing up and should be included in the school health curriculum. Now I'm not saying that knowing all these things will actually deter the medical problem that is mental illness, but it will give you at least an idea of what important factors to focus on in your life. Also, therapy is still a taboo subject. Therapy is not just for people with mental illnesses; it is like having a life coach. And it is all about you. THAT is what needs to be normalized. WHY so many people experience health problems at this age; I'm not a doctor so I don't know, but we can help each other by opening a discussion about it.

Cover Image Credit: geralt / Pixabay

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The 5 Best iPhone Fitness Apps

I'm workin' on my fitness.

Turns out, your phone can be used for more than just scrolling through Instagram or endless online shopping (Although, let’s be real, many of us would be fine if that were all it could do). There is a plethora of health and fitness apps on the market, that, when used correctly, can be very beneficial in one’s journey to a healthier lifestyle. If you are anything like me, I am obsessed with finding (cheap) new apps that somehow enhance my life. And when it comes to health and fitness, these are the 5 best ones that I have found so far:

1. Yoga Studio: Mind & Body

Price: $1.99 per month

There are many things to love about Yoga Studio. The session lengths range from 10 minutes to 60 minutes and target specific areas such as balance and flexibility. My favorite thing about the app is the fact that the yoga for beginners is actually possible for a beginner to do. It is challenging enough to be worth it, but not so difficult for a beginner that it is discouraging. The intensity of the sessions goes all the way up to advanced, and there are classes for certain things such as back pain, deep relaxation, and even prenatal yoga. You can also make your own classes by selecting the poses that you like. You can create a yoga schedule on the app and even link it to the apple health app.

2. Fooducate

Price: Free

Fooducate is a fantastic app. You can search for or scan the bar code of almost food item and the Fooducate app will assign that food a grade, ranging from D to A, based on how healthy it is overall. There are detailed explanations as to why certain foods or brands receive that grade, along with all of the nutritional information of that food, and a list of healthier alternatives. You can also track your caloric intake on the app and find free diet tidbits and healthy recipes.

3. Nike+ Run Club

Price: Free

Nike Run Club must be the best app on the market for runners. The most basic quick start feature tracks how far you run and how long it takes, but the app has many more features. It shows you specifics about your route, pace, and splits. There are also guided runs, where you have a coach in your ear, and you can pick a running plan that lasts either 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or up until an upcoming race. The app has challenges and personal achievements. Music can be played through the app.

4. Meal Time

Price: Free, with some recipes premium.

Mealime is a simple app to navigate with a multitude of healthy recipes, most of them free. You set your eating preferences and can build a personalized meal plan or just check out the recipes. The app details the cookware needed along with the ingredients and instructions needed to make the dish. It is easy to save your favorite recipes so that you can cook them again and again.

5. Sworkit: Abs & Core

Price: Free

While it’s mother app, Sworkit: Workouts & Plans, is not free, this mini-version is. You can select if you want to focus on abs or back strength, as well as the duration of the session, which can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. A Person appears on the screen to demonstrate the workouts while a voice-over talks you through it.

Cover Image Credit: We Know Your Dreams

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