Healing Is Not Linear

Healing Is Not Linear

It's a process and it does take time.
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As much as I'd like to believe that healing happens overnight, it doesn't. No amount of praying or hoping or wishing will fix all of your problems in one day or even a week, for that matter. It's time for people to understand that healing, both mental and physical, can take a lot of time. I've heard the argument "people treat mental illness different than a physical ailment because they can't actually see mental illness" and it's true. You wouldn't look at someone with a broken leg walking on crutches and tell them "just shake it off buddy, get some sleep and you'll feel better in the morning". So why, in today's society, is it still acceptable to tell someone struggling with depression to "just shake it off, you'll get over it... things can't possibly be that bad!!!" Well, the thing is that's actually not okay at all.

Every single person struggling with any form of mental illness (whether it be an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, or anything else that might not always be physically visible) deals with their illness (as well as their healing process) differently. It is unfair for anyone to assume that they know what's best for another person and even more unfair to try and downplay what someone else is going through by telling them "it's not that bad". Just stop. It's not a contest to see "oh, woe is me! my problems are so much worse than yours". It's not a cry for attention. Mental illness is real. Trying to recover from a backslide is hard to do and even harder to do when you have people constantly trying to invalidate how you feel.

It's time to end the stigma associated with mental illness. Not every depressed girl desires to be "saved by the man of her dreams" like the damsel in distress of some cheesy teen romance novel. Struggling with anxiety doesn't simply mean every single person is afraid to speak in front of a room of people (while this obviously does still occur for some people). Anxiety manifests itself in many different forms and it's not as simple as just being afraid of public speaking. For some people, anxiety can be crippling and make it difficult to even order food in a public place. If you personally struggle with this form of anxiety, you might see ordering food for yourself at Taco Bell as an accomplishment... and you should, good for you! It's not fair for anyone to try and tell you that your experience is unimportant. We all track our own progress and growth in different ways, and that's completely fine. The human experience in general is different for every single one of us, as is how we deal with our own illnesses (in any form).

Healing, whether it be from something physical or mental or even both, is not an easy 1-2-3 step system that automatically leads to 100% operating efficiency in your life. True healing is not linear. People who suffer with depression don't just wake up one day and decide "hey I suddenly don't feel like I want to die anymore!!!". Happiness is never a choice. It's not a daily decision (even though a lot of people think of it that way). Healing can take weeks or months or even years and it can have backslides along the way. You can't expect everything in your life to be perfect at every single moment because things happen (beyond your control) to disrupt the flow all the time. It's important to remember to take things one day at a time because you never know what tomorrow may bring. When you have a really strong uphill flow going for yourself on your healing journey, it can be really discouraging when you backslide. Please remember that this happens to everyone and you shouldn't let it stop you from trying. You don't have to worry about making mistakes and you don't have to worry about disappointing anyone but yourself. Worry about what's best for you. Do things that you need to do for your own healing process and most importantly, NEVER apologize for the way you choose to heal. You don't owe ANYONE an explanation for what you do to better yourself.

For those of you fortunate enough to have solid mental health on your side, please make an effort to be more understanding. I know it can be difficult to understand something like depression if you've never experienced it yourself but just try and be more open-minded when interacting with those who are struggling with it (or any other form of illness, for that matter). After all, just because someone might seem put together on the outside they could be fighting through every day just to make it out alive. Looks can be very deceiving. You never really know what demons someone else might be struggling with inside their own head.

And for those of you who are struggling with any form of mental illness: always remember that things do get better. There were several times in my life when I thought I couldn't possibly sink any lower and I didn't see the point in trying to be better but then I remembered that it was up to me to make an effort to change the things in my life that were hurting me.

You have to do whatever you can to help yourself. Cut off toxic people, stand up for yourself, change your diet, get more rest, see a therapist, or even talk to your doctor about getting medication to help with your mental illness. The first step in the healing process is admitting to yourself that you want to start this journey.

Just remember this if you ever feel discouraged:

Healing begins within.

Progress is still progress, no matter how small.

Happiness is not a choice (and don't let anyone make you feel like it is).

And please, always remember that you're not alone on this journey. So many people are right there with you, fighting to get better every day. Plus, know that there is always someone out there who cares about you.

Just as a reminder, here's a list of people/organizations that can help you along the way during the dark times and backslides that might happen along your healing journey:

Family members that you trust

Close friends

Roommates

Venting to a pet (it seems silly but it always makes me feel better)

Therapist

Talking to a priest or other church member (if you're religious)

Teachers at school that you can trust

School guidance counselor

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (available 24/7):

1-800-273-8255

National Eating Disorder Hotline (NEDA) (available Monday - Thursday from 9 AM - 9 PM and Friday from 9 AM - 5 PM):

1-800-931-2237

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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9 Teas You Can Add To Your Diet Today

Here's the addition to your lifestyle you never knew you needed.

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In the age-old debate between coffee and tea, I'll take a cup of green tea any day. It's both relaxing and energizing, and if that sounds like an oxymoron, then so be it. I've recently started making a cup of Chai Green Tea and honey a regular part of my evening routine.

This small addition to my day has helped me relax, sleep better and wake up easier. Interestingly enough, it's also sped up my weight loss goals, even if by a little.

It's difficult to find anything that's healthy for you and delicious, but this beverage makes enjoyment a realistic goal. Between being rich in antioxidants, aiding in burning fat, increasing metabolism, and improving heart healthiness, it's hard to be steered wrong.

Of course, as with anything, there are ways to make it unhealthy. It can be challenging finding the right tea for you and your health, so I've decided to start you off with a list of teas to kick-start your journey.

1. Chai Green Tea

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Not only is this tea delicious, but it also tastes a bit like Christmas. A perfect blend of black tea, herbs and spices, its origins can be traced back to India. It has amazing antioxidants, improves digestion and your immune system, and fights inflammation. What does antioxidants even mean, you may ask? In a nutshell—it has anti-cancer properties, fighting to keep your body as healthy as possible.

Add a couple spoonfuls of honey, and you're all set.

2. Matcha Green Tea

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I'm sure you're sensing a theme by now. Green tea is arguably the healthiest tea you can drink. Add Matcha powder to the mix (pun intended), and you've just created a dynamic duo for yourself. It's important to note that best results occur with a healthy diet and exercise.

3. Chamomile Tea

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Having trouble sleeping? Are you stressed or experiencing uncomfortable premenstrual symptoms? Chamomile can help with this, particularly those with Type II diabetes.

4. Ginger Tea

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The tea that gives you the kick you need, but in a nice way.

5. Peppermint Tea

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Peppermint in general is a fantastic beverage for digestion, but it also contains a load of antioxidants and nausea-fighting properties. It's perfect if your stomach is upset or you're suffering from anxiety.

6. White Tea

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This is another tea that I'm personally adding to my list of things to try. It's light, and you can drink it at any time of the day. It has a higher antioxidant count and lower calories and caffeine—perfect if you're looking for a non-caffeinated pick-me-up. Benefits include reducing the risk of tooth decay, increased heart healthiness, cancer-fighting properties, skin protection, and it aids in weight loss.

7. Black Tea

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Black tea is great for your digestive track and bone density. This drink enhances energy by increasing blood flow to the brain. Choosing a specific tea for yourself is more a matter of taste than anything else since they all contain roughly the same benefits. More benefits include decreasing chances of a stroke and arthritis, as well as relieving stress. Anyone can benefit from drinking it.

8. Rooibos Tea

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Rooibos is a new name for me, but it's another I'm adding to my "try" list. It helps with skin conditions such as eczema, alleviates muscle soreness and insomnia, and aids in hypertension.

9. Oolong Tea

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This delicious looking tea is great for cancer prevention, weight management and your health overall. It's also a great way to boost your metabolism and help make your skin look healthier!

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