A Step in the Right Direction

01.31.2017

Do you ever take a step back and evaluate yourself and how you’ve evolved? I always seem to focus on the bad things I’ve had to overcome on my journey, but sometimes you just have to take a second and see how far you’ve come as a person. I recently did this when I got back to school after winter break.

In the past years, I’ve practiced some unhealthy habits that weren’t very beneficial to my self esteem. The worst was that I craved acceptance from everyone. I needed it so much that I would do anything for everyone I met to like me. I had to be everyone’s friend and be liked by everyone. And that desire led to me pretending to be someone I wasn’t, pretending to like things I had no interest in, and doing things for people who barely noticed me. And if I thought someone didn’t like, I would obsess about it constantly. What did I do to make them not like me? What did need to change about myself for them to think I was cool? There were times when I would catch myself and wonder why I needed approval so badly. I could never answer that until now. I craved this acceptance because I couldn’t give it to myself. I was struggling to accept myself and I thought that if everyone thought I was cool, maybe it would rub off on me and I would suddenly love myself.

It happened on New Years Eve. I was with my friends and some other people. There was a girl, we’ll call her Karen, who I could never win over. We would always butt heads or she would think everything I did was crazy or weird. Every time she was around I would over-analyze the things I said and did to make sure she would like it. I would agree with everything she said and when she made fun of me, I would laugh and pretend like it didn’t bother me. But that night was different.

The day before, I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that from that day forward, I would never change myself to fit someone else’s expectations of me. I knew I wasn’t going to magically stop giving a crap about what other people thought of me, but that night I saw a change in myself. Where I would feel panic at the judgmental look in her eyes, I felt apathy. So as Karen began to mock everything I did, I stood my ground. I refused to laugh at her mean and condescending jokes. I refused to change  my opinion when it didn’t match hers. And I refused to apologize for my “weirdness”. I didn’t care if I made her uncomfortable and I didn’t care if I lost her approval. Because not everyone in this world is going to like you, and that’s completely okay. You are not everyone’s cup of tea and you have to be okay with that.

I didn’t realize how monumental this was for me until a few days ago. Sure, it seems small compared to other things in my life, but it was still something. It was proof that I am growing. That I’m making progress on this excruciatingly long journey to self-acceptance. I hope me sharing this encourages someone else to make that change. Never apologize for being yourself. Don’t change yourself to fit someone else’s mold. Make your own.

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Beginning Tomorrow

So it’s that time of year where people start looking back at their lives and see what they can change. When they think of all the resolutions they are going to make to improve or change their lives. And then proceed to ignore all of them.

Since I know any sort of resolution I make is doomed to be broken by January 2nd, I have decided to go a different route.

Next year will mark the end of another decade in my life. And in my (almost) 20 years, I have done absolutely nothing worthy of recognition. I don’t know if this is just shock from the fact that my teenage years are almost over, or the fact that I am no longer a child, but I am not happy with the way my life is going.

So I have made an executive decision, starting from today, I will no longer be overwhelmingly ordinary.

So what am I going to do about it? I have given myself until the end of 2015, to make as many changes in my life as possible. I don’t know what those are going to be, but I’m excited. And one thing you should know about me: It might take me forever (about 10 years) to get serious about something, but once I do, I never do it half-assed. And just to prove it, I’m going to documenting my progress. Wish me luck!

My Depression Story

*name has been changed

This past year was my first year in college. I had friends, I was doing well in my classes and I talked with my family everyday. But everything came to a head when my best friend tried to commit suicide in the dorm bathroom.

I was out with friends when I got the text. It was from a blocked number and it said *Sara had been rushed to the hospital with slashed wrists. I left everyone and ran back to campus. I was too late to see her before she left, but I saw the aftermath. In one word, it was traumatic.

I pretended I was fine. I visited her in the hospital and called her everyday, and everyone thought I was such a good friend. People kept telling me how strong I was. But in truth, I was breaking down. Everyday, I was on the verge of tears from the minute I woke up. The only thing that took my mind off it was class.

Then I got an email from the Dean. I was on financial hold and unless I paid my tuition of $20,000 immediately, I wouldn’t be able to continue my education there. I called my parents in tears. They tried to apply for loans, but their credit wasn’t good enough. The verdict was that I would have to come back home and work for my parents instead.

I guess the stress of my financial situation combined with the trauma from earlier that year was too overwhelming. My downward spiral accelerated to an all-out plummet. Anytime I was alone, I couldn’t stop myself from crying, all I ever wanted to do was sleep, I stopped going to classes, and I was barely eating.

I thought being out with my friends would help. But every time I was with them, all I wanted to do was get back in bed. I know they knew something was wrong with me, but I think they just wanted me to get over it. And so did I.

I hated myself for being so weak. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and it made me angry. My mom is a nurse so I thought she would understand, but she thought I was trying to make up excuses for my poor grades. Eventually it got so bad that I tried to hurt myself and ended up in the hospital. But since I didn’t have any medical insurance (don’t tell Obama), they couldn’t even help me and just sent me home.

Help came in the form of my English teacher, Dr. Jan Armon. He realized I was missing classes and he reached out to me. The only reason I went to the meeting was to save my grade. But he looked so worried, I had to tell him everything. And instead of telling me to stop overreacting. He just gave me a poem. He told me to recite it whenever I felt overwhelmed. I lost it during move-out day and I forget most of it now, but I’m really thankful to Dr. Armon for helping me.

“Depression is like trying to peel a potato. It’s not fun, it doesn’t work and you just want to cry. And then people are like, “Why don’t you just use a peeler?” And then they hand you another potato.”

This quote is from a tumblr post. This metaphor is a perfect description of what it feels like to be depressed. Most young people with depression don’t even know what’s wrong with themselves. They feel like they have no one to talk to. Like the whole world is against them.

I really do think that the reason the suicide rate among teens is so high is because of undiagnosed depression. If you know someone who is depressed, please don’t take it lightly. Just listen to them, you could save a life.