A Breakup Letter To My Mental Illness

A Breakup Letter To My Mental Illness

Hey, we need to talk.

Wow. I think writing that headline took ten years off my life. My heart started racing, my anxiety deciding to come out to play while I wrote this. I suppose I've always wanted to pretend that my brain functions normally, that my hormone levels are where they're supposed to be, and that I have never had a problem getting out of bed. So, here it goes. The breakup letter with my mental illness.

Hey, we need to talk.

We've been together for a while - we first met in eighth grade, and I was too young. You took advantage of a child, wrapped me into your lies at an age where I was so impressionable. You convinced me that numb was normal, that I was all those things I feared - fat, ugly, worthless, and that no one would care about the things I had to say. You took a girl who used to be so outgoing and turned her into someone who was shy, awkward, nervous around even herself. You became my old paint under the new, a piece of me I could never quite shake, even when you decided to take a break from me. You would release me just long enough for me to get a taste of normalcy, and suck me back in.

You were moderately contained through high school. You'd creep back onto my shoulder for about a week, and get bored again, burrowing yourself deeper and deeper inside my soul. You would make me anxious when I hadn't heard from you in awhile - what horrible, terrible thing was coming my way?

And then, all of a sudden, your interest in me became insatiable, and there was nothing I could do to keep the black hole of your presence at bay. So here's where the meat of this letter comes in: Fuck you. You came into my life in a whirlwind, destroying everything in your path this past autumn. You turned a lively, happy and excited college kid into a phantom of who she was once - uninterested, empty, and overall deep into a pit of despair where the light at the top could no longer be seen. I couldn't get out of bed, couldn't take care of myself, couldn't stop crying and feeling the aches of your presence in every bone in my body. I was in some state beyond empty - I felt the emptiness and numbness deep inside my bones, my soul. I thought I would never see the light again, and old habits came back, biting harder than they ever did before. Do you know how soul crushing it is, crying on the floor of your nasty dorm shower at 4 am because you are so terrified to sleep? Of course, you do; you caused it all. You rooted yourself deeper than ever, telling me every few minutes that no one cared, nothing mattered, that this was the life you were doomed to live. What was the point of fighting you? You'd win every time - sucking me back into the black hole of my bed.

And in a moment of strength greater than I ever thought possible, I dragged my haven't-showered-since-before-Vietnam ass to the doctor, and sat in a chair and cried to some man I had met four minutes earlier as he told me that he had never seen a depression index score this high on anyone who hadn't tried to kill themselves. Imagine hearing that. He wrote some words on a small piece of paper, and I began the long, exhausting and frustrating road to breaking up with you, to leaving you behind. And you grasped my shoulders, dug in, trying to prevent me from being the person I used to be.

But here's the thing: you don't own me anymore. You don't get to choose my moods, my relationships, my self-worth. You don't even get to define me anymore. You are the burden I will always have to bear, but I cannot allow you control over me. This is my life, this is my choice - I don't want to be a person who has no control, who can't even get out of bed, let alone stop crying. I want to live this life to its fullest, and I can't do that with you on my shoulder.

I suppose I do have to thank you. Thank you for showing me the inner strength I always had, for showing me the people who will love me for my relationship with you, not in spite of it. Furthermore, thank you for showing the relationship with God I desperately craved, for showing me that there is something worth believing in, especially when you can't quite believe in yourself yet. Thank you for teaching me how to be a better friend, a more compassionate and caring person, and someone with empathy.

But you owe me an apology. You have taken so much from me, having taught me early on that protest is pointless. You have robbed me of social opportunities, of feelings (whether positive or negative), and from fully living this one life I've been given. You have tainted the memories of the greatest times of my life with shadows of you, confirming all of my worst fears and insecurities. You have made me harm myself in every way a person can harm themselves, and you celebrated me for it. These are all parts of me I will never be able to take back, things that will never fade in my heart, on my body, and in my memory. I will have those horrible moments engrained in my mind forever, and that alone warrants an apology.

I'd tell you good luck and I'll see you around, but I hope no one has to experience you, this horrible combination of hormone deficiencies because you suck so bad, and I hope I never feel you creeping up on me, because you'll recieve a swift punch to the face.



Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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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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