Life Works In Funny Ways...

Just Stop & Breathe

Life works in funny ways.
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You know it is funny how life works. We are raised being told to obey. Then when we mature we are told to understand things on our own and to take care of ourselves. Then we get in trouble for doing just that. Now independence is a loose term, because freedom is not all it is cracked up to be. You are free to do as you choose, but there will ALWAYS be consequences.

Yes, always.

Even for girls who never speak out of turn, for boys who hold open doors, for women who remain humble and maternal, and even the men who remain faithful and morally sound. Everyone will redeem their stream of consequences. Some call it karma, I call it the cycle of life.

See we never really stop going through obstacles because the only way to grow and improve is to keep pushing toward something and never settle. Life is a balance of insanity with prosperity and while that sounds like an odd mixture, we all take part in this vicious whirlwind of emotions.

I grew up doing what I was told, obeying the rules to a T, helping others, and letting others get their way to avoid confrontation. How did that work out for me? I got taken advantage of. Again, and again and again. To this day I still continue to allow those around me to consume MY life, but it is because that while I saw myself as an independent young woman, I would remain in the back hiding my voice and following the rules so that I would stay out of trouble.

It is a choice I made willingly because I figured the outcome would turn to me being able to expand my horizons trying new things. I do things for the experience, not for the compensation. That is where I was wrong.

Now I do not think I am the prettiest or the smartest girl around town. I won’t say I am ugly or dumb either. But I will bring into the light that I, like any other 19-year-old girl, take on self-conscious qualities and take the brunt of others misery. Meaning at times I allow myself to basically get used as a pass-through punching bag. Got problems? I got answers. Need help? I’ll be there. Need someone to take the work load off you? I can take it. It became such an overwhelming feeling for me that I realized I was no longer doing anything for myself. I was doing everything to please others and while I was receiving the credit and awards, I wasn’t receiving the satisfaction I deserved.

My routine to others seems so simple. “You’re a regular teenager” or “You’re a soccer mom in training” are the two most common responses I receive. That’s not the case. I am overworked, overachieving, and overly stressed by my own doing and I didn’t realize it until after I saw myself in the mirror one morning while washing my face and I did not recognize who was staring back at me. Physically, I knew my appearance had not changed. But I had allowed myself to go through 6 months of this work sleep repeat routine that I was no longer happy or doing what I loved. I was forcing myself out of bed to meet the requirements of those around me. I was skipping meals unintentionally because of how busy I would get throughout the day. There are more occasions than I can count where my boyfriend would make me food and he would ask whether I had eaten earlier and a null look of I cannot remember would appear on my face.

With loss of appetite came mood swings, mood swings led to attitude changes, which led to aggravation and before I knew it I went from the little girl who was so excited to grow up into the adult that absolutely hated the world she has surrounded herself in.

I would write my problems away. Literally. My destressing outlet had always been writing and photography and suddenly I found myself hating that too.

It was not by the fault of my career or personal life. I always dreamed of doing exactly what I am doing today, but I didn’t imagine losing my grasp of life during the process. I have always had my outlets for stress relief and while they seem like normal activities to others they completely change my attitude towards, well, everything.

I run to breathe.

I read to breathe.

I sing at the top of my lungs with all the windows down to breathe.

I do yoga to breathe.

I just get away to breathe.

I write to breathe.

Everyone’s life is consumed with a whirlwind of emotions and nine times out of ten you will find them ignoring their problems and finding their outlets to destress and ignore their world.

Let me tell you from experience. That will NEVER work.

I grew up in a high school where basically 90% of my grade has smoked something in the past or uses marijuana as their outlet because it is an easy “medication” to a much deeper-rooted problem. Vapes, E-Cigs, Cigarettes, weed, toxins which rot away your lungs and brain. I am a rare breed and while I have been offered and told time and time again to “just take a hit” I say no. I know it sounds like such a small instance and has absolutely no substance when looking at bigger pictures but I stand my ground and get the rolling eyes or the “don’t be a prude” and the stares like I am some crazy alien… but I say no. And I say this because as far as I can remember, it is the one thing that I have never settled to avoid conflict. I have never lowered my standards to allow others to dictate MY life. I have taken charge of my life, not because my parents told me to or because of all the insanity caused from “getting that one high”. I am sure that one time probably won’t hurt me, and I see everyone else doing it. But if I allow myself to bow down before a drug to forget the world, I will forget who I am. I will forget my goals and settle for average.

I took red ribbon week and made it a 365-day event. “Drug free is the way for me” and “Say no to drugs” might as well be imprinted on my forehead.

You see I say all this because everyone goes through their stages of doubt where they wonder what if I just let myself go and see what it’s like to be wild and free. I personally am too hard-headed and stubborn to allow myself to break the promise I made to that girl in the mirror when I was young. I promised myself to never allow something or someone to control my life and my happiness, and that if I ever didn’t recognize myself, to just breathe.

I know I am not perfect. I know that there will be days where I wake up and wonder why I am not happy. I also know that the only way a caterpillar call become a butterfly is by completely metamorphosing its life. Surrounding itself in chaos within a tiny cocoon. Being under the ruble mess that life throws at you and rising above to not ignore the situation but fix it is the only way that you can transform into the beautiful being that you are. I am not saying all smokers are bad or that they are giving up on life. I am saying that If you want to achieve the impossible, you have to limit your distractions, keep your promises, and do everything in your power to be happy WITHOUT self-medicating and WITHOUT a substance which just causes you to forget.

We cannot grow when we hold ourselves back. Love yourself and know that no matter how bad it may be at this moment, no matter how much you want to curl up in a ball and never spiral out, no matter what insanity is taking over your existence. It just gets that much better as long as you stand your ground and know your purpose. Stop taking in these toxins mentally and physically. Stop making a mountain out of a mole hill. Stop settling for comfort. Stop pressuring yourself to be perfect when you don’t even know who you are yet.

Just Stop.

And breathe.

Cover Image Credit: Tishtrya Cama

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Stop Demonizing CBD Just Because You Associate It With THC

CBD doesn't get you high, do your research.

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I'm sure you've heard about CBD already, but if not, then let me break it down for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant, but unlike the THC in the marijuana plant, it doesn't have any psychoactive properties.

CBD doesn't get you high.

When extracted from the plant, CBD has proven to be effective in the medical field. It has shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy, in the management of pain, in reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving cancer symptoms, among a host of other uses. New research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has revealed that CBD may be beneficial for society as a whole, too.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted the study to understand how we can fight the opioid epidemic through the discovery of alternative treatment options by assessing the potential effects of CBD on craving and anxiety in heroin users.

42 drug abstinent men and women between the ages of 21 and 65, who had recently stopped using heroin, were recruited for the study. Two groups were formed out of the participants: a control group that received a placebo and a test group that received CBD doses ranging from 400 mg to 800 mg per day. After administration, participants were exposed to neutral environmental cues and cues that would be considered drug-use inducing over three sessions. The cues in the environment were tested because an addict's environment and the cues it gives are the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.

The results of the research hold great promise for the future of CBD.

Participants who were in the test group and given CBD had significantly reduced cravings for heroin, and noted feeling less anxiety when exposed to drug-use inducing cues. Moreover, the CBD had a lasting effect on this group as it continued to reduce cravings and relieve anxiety for seven days after the last dose was administered. In essence, this is the most important takeaway from the research: CBD had lasting effects well after it was present in the body. Numerous vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were taken to ensure only objective results were obtained since cravings and anxiety are subjective feelings. Another finding was a reduction in participants' heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, which would have both increased in the presence of anxiety-provoking images.

I think the evidence points to a logical conclusion: CBD is safe, it is effective in treating opioid addictions, and it is beneficial for those who experience a host of issues from pain, to anxiety, to epilepsy or to illnesses. Now is the time to keep pushing for legalization to continue larger scale studies and introduce CBD as a valid treatment option.

"A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll and enormous health care costs." - Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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