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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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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An Open Letter To The Girl Who Just Feels... Alone

Because "look around you, you aren't alone," is cliché and helps no one. I've been there.

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Dear strong soul,

You feel alone now more than ever. Your recent move/breakup/relationship/mistake/change in character has brought you to this point, and you don't know what to do. I want to write to you to prove that I am here, and you aren't alone.

Guess what? We get to grow!

I know you feel like no one knows you can feel your heart breaking and that you feel lost and isolated. Please, resist the urge to compare yourself to the people around you. In an age where it seems we're constantly reduced to a social image and a following we can display online, it's difficult now more than ever to "see" loneliness. In the same way, you often feel like your loneliness is masked by the image you let people around you see, you don't see half of what those around you're struggling with.

You don't see that you're not alone.

Ask yourself, what does it matter if those around you are less lonely than you are? You're YOU. You are special no matter who's around you succeeding in their own ways. You will get to the place you want to be.

This stage of life is normal and it's temporary.

You should take this time to pour yourself into what you're best at; you're so talented! Create art. Treat yourself. Grow flowers. Learn how to do something you've never tried before Don't be afraid to try new things! If you focus less on digging yourself out of loneliness and spend more time embracing this stage of life and growing strong, you'll be so much happier.

Lastly, don't lose heart. We got this. You're doing an amazing job.

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