3 Things I Learned From Mental Illness

3 Things I Learned From Mental Illness

"Your life may be perfectly fine, but that doesn't mean you are"

Your life may be perfectly fine, but that doesn't mean you are

I think naturally there is a subconscious need for reason and sense when it comes to our emotions. We believe we need a valid reason to feel happy, sad, or even angry. Well, that isn’t the case for almost half of the people suffering with mental illness. Either spontaneously or genetically, some people can just be depressed. I know personally, this conflicted me the most. I would go visit my psychiatrist or therapist, and they would always ask me if something happened to me that made me get into this headspace I was in. I would always say no, and I simply felt that no one believed me. This is when I had to come to the realization that the answer doesn’t have to be yes. Not everyone surrounding you is going to understand this, but I promise there are people who do. Talk to them, your emotions are just as valid as anyone else’s, even if you cant explain where they bloomed. 

Getting medicated is not an easy process

In my sophomore year of high school, I was put on my first round of medication. Beforehand, I was only told I should feel better soon, and if not to call my doctor. I had no prior knowledge of how this would affect me mentally, and physically, and I feel like people avoid this part of recovery. There are various side effects which include vomiting, nauseau, uncontrollable shaking, insomnia, extreme fatigue, and suicidal thoughts with pretty much any mood – stabilizer/anti – depressant. The extent of these is what really surprised me. I would get sick every morning before school, then it would continue throughout my day. I tried to act like nothing was happening, that I could handle it, but honestly it is so tough. You will go through this huge rollercoaster, extreme highs where you finally feel a sense of relief and the mess are working, and extreme lows where you almost feel like you are back at square one. It is exhausting, and not at all a glorious or beautiful process. But despite this, it was the best decision I have ever made. It took more changes in medication than I knew was possible, but my Senior year I finally was stable, and I know that it was worth every single bad day. One more thing I learned that I believe many others can is the length of medical treatment. There are millions, if not billions, of chemicals that go into our mood and perception. Every single case is different. There is no way to know what medication can help your inbalance, and sadly, it takes a lot longer than most of us hope. So if you are going through this currently, or you are scared to start medication, just know it is going to be challenging, but you will come out strong in the end as long as you hold onto hope!

I am lonely, but I am not alone

Loneliness is one of the main symptoms of depression. Again, there isn’t always an explanation for this feeling. I used to walk the halls in school, or even go to the grocery store, and I could swear everyone would look past me. Sometimes I was even convinced I didn’t exist, and I . No one can tell you that you aren’t lonely, because its not always visible. You can be in a crowded room full of hundreds of people, and either mentally or physically, you just feel an immense amount of isolation. I had to face this alone, because it was causing me to totally detach myself from everyone I knew and loved. I didn’t believe I meant something, I didn’t feel seen, so this healing process was ultimately left up to me. I think the moment that saved me from the emptiness was when I went to an institution. I know, sounds intimidating, but that’s when you can physically see proof that you are not alone. I got to hear children’s stories, and sometimes nurses would come and ask me about my own. This sparked something in my mind, and I’m so glad it did. I realized that although I am lonely, I am not alone. If you are feeling this way, please talk to a friend, family member, or a loved one. There is always someone to prove that little voice in your head wrong!


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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.

It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Lessons I've Learned Throughout College And Life

Learn to enjoy life

Well, here we are. It is the end of another school year. Usually, I am jumping for joy, but this year it became a little more sentimental... I realized that I only have one more year before I graduate and have to become a "real adult." But I'll admit that this has been the toughest semester of my college career. I worked 3 jobs along with being a full-time student.

I know. I sound crazy. But I’m here to share some things with you about my college career. The things I have learned about myself over the past 3 years of college are that I rarely say no, I have FOMO, and I hate being alone. All of these things make me a huge extrovert. But it has been one of the most rewarding things for me in college.

Let me fill you in on some lessons I have learned about how to enjoy life to the fullest over the past 3 years.

1. Your GPA is not eternal.

Remember in high school when everyone freaked out about the ACT and how important it was to get a good score? We were obsessed with getting the highest score so we could look better than our friends. We were also told that was the only way to get scholarships and get into college. We were defined by that number.

But since being in college, I can't recall the last time someone asked me about my ACT score. Why? Because it doesn't matter anymore and it never defined who I was or how smart I was.

Similarly, it seems like we are defined by our GPA in college. But I dare you to ask any college graduate about when they last discussed their GPA. I guarantee they couldn't tell remember a time or probably even remember what it was. Why? Because again, it doesn’t define who you are. I’m not telling you to fail classes, but all A's doesn't make you better than someone else. Some B’s and C’s at the end of the day are not the end of the world and will not matter after college.

2. Build relationships and make connections.

Things that do matter after college are the people you meet, build relationships with and make connections with. The world tells us it’s about how much we know and how much money we have. But I believe that it’s who you know and not all about what you know. The people you surround yourself with are the ones who make you who you are.

My freshman year I was super involved in a campus ministry. I was placed in a bible study that changed my faith drastically. I absolutely loved my bible study leader. Although we kind of lost connection after school let out that year, the following summer we rekindled our friendship and she started mentoring me. Now, I can say she’s one of my best friends. I’m even in her wedding that is in 3 months (EEEEKKK).

My sophomore year, I decided to go through with recruitment. Let me just say that was a decision I’ll never regret. My sorority has pushed me to be a better version of myself, given me endless opportunities, and given me friends who I could not live without.

This year, I finally decided on my major and they repeatedly tell us that it is all about connections to get places in our field. I truly believe that because I would not have gotten my internship for this summer had it not been for the people I knew.

The people in my life are the reason I am who I am today. The people you meet in college will probably be the ones who you didn't even realize you needed. Find your tribe and love them hard.

3. The stress is not worth it.

Stress is the devil. Most days I just have to say, “not today stress, not today." No college kid needs to stress and have grey hair by the time they graduate. This is the time before we begin reality. This is the time we should enjoy life. I used to stress so much that I couldn’t sleep, but it isn’t worth it.

Don’t stress through college about your grades, money, or friendships. Go introduce yourself to your crush, go talk to the people at that table, go apply for that dream job, go eat ice cream with friends, go to that movie even though your paper is due in 3 days. Don’t let things that you won’t remember in 5 years ruin the memories that you will want to remember. Don’t stress so much you can’t enjoy life, because that will be your regret. (Trust me, been there done that).

Friend, listen to the girl who has walked ahead of you and learned some lessons. Enjoy this time in life. Learn from others, make lifelong friends, don’t stress over the little things, and make memories to last a lifetime. Life is too short. Enjoy every moment.

Cover Image Credit: Allison Blythe

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