My Boobs and Me

boob-35.jpg

I want to take this opportunity to be very honest and vulnerable with all of you. If you’ve read any of my past posts or know me in person, you know that I tend to be brutally honest about a lot of difficult topics: depression, anxiety, grief, suicide- the list goes on and on. However, there is something I tend not to be as open about, and that is my chest. I have written a few posts meant to be funny regarding my chest, however I never get very deep about it. The truth is, my chest has always been one of my biggest insecurities and is something I have struggled with for most of my life. Because of that, I would like to take some time to share my story with you. If you are reading this because you get some disgusting pleasure from reading about boobs or are hoping to get some nasty details, you are reading this for the wrong reasons. I want to share my story for anyone else who is on this path, because it’s a tough situation to be in and not one many people are able to relate to. I’m writing this so people can understand on a deeper level what it’s like to have a giant chest.

I started growing boobs when I was 10 years old. By the time I was 13, when most girls are starting to sprout a chest, I was already a full C cup. I don’t know how many of you remember what 13-year-olds are like, but my classmates were not kind. I went to school every day to have boys poking at my chest with their fingers or pencils or anything else they could manage. I had boys “accidentally” brushing their hands against my boobs and constantly making jokes and comments about the size of my chest. I never said anything, because I didn’t realize what they were doing was harassment. I just laughed along and pretended it didn’t bother me. Boys weren’t the only problem; the girls were just as bad. I can remember a day that I wore a pink camisole with a gray button up sweater, and one of the girls in my class told a teacher that I was dressed inappropriately. I was wearing more clothes than most girls at that age, and to be totally honest, I dressed like a 35-year-old house wife. Almost every girl in my school wore camisoles all the time, but because I had a larger than average chest someone felt the need to call me inappropriate. A girl once wore fishnet stockings, a tiny denim mini skirt that barely covered her ass, and knee-high boots in the seventh grade, and no one said a thing to her. No one said she was dressed inappropriately and somehow, I was the one being held after class by the teacher to be talked to about the way I was dressed.

At that time, it seemed like as soon as I bought a bra it was only a matter of time before it didn’t fit anymore. It seemed as though my boobs would never stop growing. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was a triple D and could barely find bras that fit. I was self-conscious about what I wore, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was showing off my chest. I had to give up running, which was something I loved and was very passionate about, because it caused me so much pain in my boobs. I never told anyone, including my coaches for Cross Country and Track, the real reason I stopped running. Instead, I said it was because I didn’t like it anymore, or my knees and ankles were too messed up (which wasn’t exactly a lie, but not the main reason), or that I had other things to do. How could I explain that running even short distances caused my breasts to be sore for hours afterward? That taking off my bra after a run was agonizing? That the bouncing of my chest made it hard to breath evenly? I was so self-conscious about my chest, I was constantly checking to make sure my cleavage wasn’t showing. I starting getting frequent headaches that I managed with copious amounts of ibuprofen, but they ended up just getting worse.

By the time I was a freshman in college, my back would hurt so bad at times that I could hardly move. Just inhaling sent shooting pain across my back and shoulder blades. I had terrible neck pain that made school work difficult and my headaches had increased in pain and frequency and were becoming harder to get rid of. By that time, I was bursting out of my triple D bras, but didn’t know where to go to get new ones. I wore clothes to try and cover my chest as best as I could, because I didn’t want to be subjected to the same ridicule I faced growing up. That year, I also began rugby, which I fell in love with almost instantly. The problem was, several of my teammates could not understand the situation my chest put me in. Long runs and any type of jumping workouts caused me intense pain. Push-ups were difficult for me because of the strain that position would put on my shoulders. They would tell me to just wear a second sports bra, but wouldn’t hear me when I told them I couldn’t even find one that fit, let alone two. I endured the pain it caused me because I loved the sport too much to quit, but I definitely paid the price with the soreness I felt in my boobs.

When I was a senior in college, I had spent a great deal on bras that ran from $60 to over $100, grown out of a $250 swimsuit top that I had worn a handful of times, and was sized at a 34J. I had experienced the clasp on my only bra snapping apart halfway through a work shift, headaches that left me unable to get out of bed, and constant back and shoulder pain that would cause me to lay in bed and cry from the pain at times. I couldn’t ride in a car without the seat belt creeping up around my neck and finding clothes had become an Olympic sport. I finally decided to do something about my chronic pain, so I made an appointment with a local chiropractor. She told me that my insane headaches and my back and shoulder pain were a result of my large chest. During my first adjustment, she told me that my back and shoulder muscles were on fire- which meant that they were in a constant spasm which caused them to be extremely tense and tight.

I started getting regular adjustments, and it did wonders for my back pain and my headaches began to disappear. I wasn’t making progress as fast as I should have, so I started coupling my adjustments with weekly acupuncture to relieve some of the tension in my shoulders and neck. While the chiropractor provided me with a lot of pain relief, it didn’t last forever. About a year into my adjustments, while some things, such as my lower back, vastly improved, my headaches began to come back, although they were less frequent. My shoulders and back started to get tight again, and I felt like I was going backwards. As my headaches worsened, I decided to go to my doctor to see if she had another solution. She told me that the cause of my headaches was that the muscles in the right side of my neck were all in one huge knot. This knot was caused by the weight of my boobs pulling down on my shoulders, causing the muscles all the way up to my neck to be strained and tense. She recommended physical therapy and referred me to plastic surgeon.

I started physical therapy the next week, and there I was told that I had so much tension in my muscles, that it would take months just to work it out before I could start doing the exercises and stretches. During that time, I had a consultation with the plastic surgeon. At the end of that appointment, I was told that I was an excellent candidate for breast reduction surgery.  Things moved very quickly after that, and before I knew it, the surgery was scheduled. This is not a decision I came to easily, as many may think. I spent a lot of time going over the pros and cons in my head before I reached a decision. I know it may seem like it should have simple, it was far from it. I’ve spent half of my life as “the girl with the big boobs,” and it had become a part of my identity; a huge part of who I was. I had to seriously consider if I was ready to completely change who I was physically and the way I was treated by others; could I give up a part of myself? After a lot of obsessing and sleeplessness, I decided to go through with the surgery because I knew it was the best thing for me.

Now, something I want to bring attention to is the reaction I got from several males concerning my surgery. I heard from several of them that I was “doing a disservice to guys everywhere,” and “such a disappointment to men,” by choosing to make my breasts smaller. As if my body’s sole purpose is for males’ viewing pleasure; as if what men thought of my body played any type of role in my choice. Never mind the physical and mental problems I was having as a result of my body or the fact that I was choosing to have life changing surgery; people still found a way to make this all about men. My job is not to give men something to look at and I am not here for male entertainment. I will do whatever I choose to do with my body for ME, and a man has absolutely NO right to tell me what I should do with my breasts.

With that said, it has now been almost a week since the surgery. My boobs are about half the size they were before, I’ve gone from a J to a small D, and it has taken some adjustments. When you look in the mirror at the same body for your entire life and then suddenly that entire image changes, it takes time for that shock to wear off. It doesn’t help when you also look disfigured and feel yourself being revolted and disgusted by the sight of your own body- my self-esteem has taken a few hits. However, I am still confident I’ve made the right choice. My clothes fit better and my shoulders are already less tense than they usually are. Every day comes with more healing inside and outside. I’m anxious to see how different things are a few months down the road; I am confident that my self-esteem will increase as I am more comfortable in my body and am able to do things I used to love, such as running. Even though right now, I have pain from incisions, can’t do a lot of things for myself, and have breasts that look like they were made by Dr. Frankenstein, I do not regret choosing to undergo this procedure. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for my boobs and me.

Advertisements

My Rescue Dog

Today marks a very important day in my life; one year ago, I became a dog mom! Anyone who knows me at all knows that my dog is a huge part of my life and one of the things I value most in this world. Adopting Koda was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I have never regretted it. I wanted to use this post to talk about the adventure Koda and I have taken together in the past year. I also wanted to advocate for rescue dogs. A lot of people shy away from this because they aren’t usually pure breeds, they tend to be older, and you can never be sure what you will get, however I think that rescue dogs need loving homes the most. They need humans that are willing to be patient with them and work with them and love them unconditionally. This past year with Koda has come with a lot of struggles and frustrations, however those struggles were beyond worth it. Watching the progress he has made has been so fulfilling, and I cannot wait to see how much he continues to grow. Rescue dogs can be some of the most loyal and loving dogs I have ever interacted with, and rescue has become my favorite breed.

I don’t know a whole lot about Koda’s backstory, but here’s what I do know. Koda had been abandoned and left in a Walmart parking lot in Alabama. He had several scrapes and scratches all over his legs and was terrified of people. He was rescued by a shelter there and would just spin around in circles in a panic whenever someone approached him. The shelter that had rescued him was a kill shelter, and due to his age and behavior, no one wanted to adopt him, so he was meant to be euthanized. Thankfully, a shelter in Minnesota rescues dogs from kill shelters in the south. They brought him up here and named him Ice because of his blue eyes. He spent one week at a foster home while I was back at home, scanning a website for adoptable dogs. He happened to catch my eye, and after reading about his anxious personality and looking at the picture of his big blue eyes, I knew I had to apply to adopt him. I felt that an anxious dog would be perfect for me, as I also struggled with anxiety. I was approved to adopt him and set up a time with his foster mom to meet with him, but I knew then that I would be taking him home with me that day. I scoured through lists of dog names, and eventually decided on the name Koda.

When I finally met him for the first time, he sat several feet away from me and shook with terror. His eyes were wide with fear and he flinched whenever I reached out to pet him. After sitting with him for nearly an hour, we decided to try taking him for a walk. He did not want to leave the house and the further we got from it, the harder he tried to pull away and go back inside. His foster mom explained that he had been dehydrated and very overweight, and she had been working on getting him rehydrated and back to a healthy weight. At the end of our short walk, I was dead set on taking him back home with me. He laid down on the floor of my backseat, shook with fear, wouldn’t eat any treats, and didn’t move the entire drive.

When I finally got him home, he went into his new kennel and would not come out. He didn’t try to explore the house or come out to see me, my roommate, or her dog. He didn’t relax, even when he was eating his food. When he finally started coming out of his kennel a few days later, he wouldn’t leave a certain corner of the living room and was even afraid of laying on his bed. It took a week for him to approach me on his own, and he would nervously allow me to pet him for a few seconds before retreating back into his corner.

IMG_4071

(Koda’s first night in his new home in the kennel he wouldn’t leave.)

As frustrating as the first few weeks with Koda were, I didn’t give up on him. Within that time, he began exploring my apartment and sleeping in my room with me. He was happy to see me when I got home, and soon started laying in my bed with me. Taking him for walks was extremely difficult at first, but he soon started to love them. He even started playing a little with my roommate’s dog.

img_5065.jpg

(Koda, about six months after he was adopted, being all smiles.)

Now, a year later, Koda has made a lot of progress. He has learned how to play with other dogs (for the most part), and isn’t so scared of them. He loves to go on walks and play in the snow. He is so cuddly and is full of love. He gives Koda hugs, follows me everywhere, enjoys car rides, and absolutely LOVES belly scratches. He still gets nervous around unfamiliar people, but has found a few that he is comfortable around. He greets new people (after taking some time to himself to adjust) and will accept treats from just about anyone. He walks around the house like he owns it, tells me when he needs to go potty or when it’s time to eat, and has acquired a little bit of confidence. While he still gets very anxious around new people, still flinches when I pet him unexpectedly, and still gets scared of unfamiliar noises, I cannot believe how far he has come. Watching him change and grow has been one of the best parts of this past year. Helping him work through his anxiety has also helped me work through mine. He has also showed me how much power there is in love and kindness, even with dogs. Rescuing Koda was one of the best things I have ever done, but in a lot of ways, Koda has also rescued me.

img_6348.jpg

(Koda right now as I type this, laying in my bed, on my feet, and snoring.)

You Might Have Big Boobs If…

I’m sure many of you have seen, or at least heard of, Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck” popular bit, so I thought it might be fun to put my own spin on it. I got the inspiration for this post this morning when I was getting dressed. As I was pulling my sweatshirt down, it got caught up on my chest and hurt my wrist. While my wrist throbbed, all I could think was, “This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have giant boobs!” Thus! An idea was born! So, without further ado, you might have big boobs if…

If you can catalogue everything you’ve eaten in a day by the crumbs found in your cleavage, you might have big boobs.

91

If crop tops look like bandeaus on you, and regular shirts turn into crop tops, you might have big boobs.

If every T-shirt you find with a cute design or phrase gets all distorted and demented as soon as you put it on, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.19.00 PM

If you’ve ever ended up with food on your chest after leaning over the table, you might have big boobs.

If you have to dig holes in the sand for your chest when you lay on the beach, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.21.06 PM.png

If the thought of finding a bra that fits you for under $50 is laughable, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.30.22 PM

If you have to hold down your chest anytime you run, even when you have a bra on, to keep from knocking yourself out, you might have big boobs.

61

If you’ve ever inhaled a little too deeply, and blew out the zipper on your coat, you might have big boobs.

If you have to lift up your chest and set it on the bar when you lean against it, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.09.24 PM.png

If you have a definitive line of sweat under your boobs after a workout, you might have big boobs.

58d4ac97d272b

If seat belts are impossible for you to keep from wrapping around your neck, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.10.34 PM.png

If you’ve ever lost something in your cleavage, and had to go digging for it, you might have big boobs.

If people are constantly bumping into, brushing against, or running into your chest, you might have big boobs.

If you put on a button down shirt and discover gaping holes between each button, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.12.08 PM

If your boobs hit the floor every time you do a push-up, you might have big boobs.

If every time you change sleep positions in bed, you have to readjust your chest, you might have big boobs.

1c28da9884f2edad0094951ee6cd1343

If painting your toenails turn into a painful stretching session, you might have big boobs.

d288b6b44d0b8b5e9d9c09e97705a6ed

If you’ve ever knocked things over, knocked things off a table, or caused mayhem on a store shelf, you might have big boobs.

If you spend a good portion of your day readjusting your wandering cleavage, you might have big boobs.

i-hate-when-your-boob-starts-falling-out-of-your-bra-and-youre-like-excuse-me-maam-please-return-to-your-assigned-seat-12751

If strapless dresses are impossible to make work, you might have big boobs.

If you have to hold your chest in place while walking down the stairs, you might have big boobs.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 7.45.05 PM

If putting on a bra before your boobs are completely dry is comparable to wrangling a bull, you might have big boobs.

If you have to take your bra off slowly and carefully at the end of the day to avoid the sudden pain of your boobs dropping too fast, you might have big boobs.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-14904-1382482106-13

If people with a size D or DD talking about their “giant boobs” makes you laugh bitterly, you might have big boobs.

If you are the butt of countless “big boob” jokes at the hands of your friends, you might have big boobs.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-22410-1382474757-31

I think it’s fair to say having big boobs is no easy task, but somehow, we manage. To my busty sisters out there; keep on being your glorious selves!

If you liked this post, check out my other posts on the big boob struggle

https://historyiswhoweare.com/2016/05/15/the-busty-battle/

https://historyiswhoweare.com/2018/01/05/1318/

If I Had Known What was Wrong With Me

If you have read any of my previous blog posts or if you know me personally, you may also know that I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and moderate depression at age 20. After a year of medication trials and errors, three different doctors, and a lot of research and education, I am now 22 and feel better than ever where my mental health is concerned. I have an understanding of my disorders, my symptoms, and how to better cope with these symptoms in healthy, useful ways. I am very open about this because I wholeheartedly believe that this is how we end stigmas- by being honest with ourselves and others. With that said, I wanted to take some time to dive into my personal past.

My struggles with anxiety and depression didn’t just pop up at age 20- they are things I had been unknowingly struggling with for most of my life. Because of this, I often wonder how different my life would be if I had known what was going on my brain earlier in life. Education on what’s going on inside my head has helped give me power over it; understanding it has made it easier to manage. Now, when my body completely freezes up when someone I don’t know sits next to me, I can tell myself that it is my anxiety and I am better able to work through that anxiety. When I feel myself spiraling down into a hole of sadness, I can recognize that it’s my depression creeping back into my mind, and take steps to prevent it from getting unmanageable. But what about when I didn’t know what was going on? What about those times I felt myself losing control and breaking down, and couldn’t seem to figure out why? What about those times I didn’t know what was wrong with me?

I truly believe that if I had been aware of these things earlier in life, my life would have gone much differently. I probably wouldn’t have checked my grades 3 times a day, because I probably wouldn’t have been so obsessed with doing everything perfectly. I wouldn’t have fallen apart at just the thought of getting a B, and I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about my grade on every little assignment. My social anxiety probably wouldn’t have been so crippling, so I probably would have had more friends. I would have ended my toxic friendships so much sooner, instead of letting them destroy my self-esteem and my trust in people. I’d probably be better at making friends now, because I would have learned how to do it then. I would have known why I couldn’t handle things out of order and panicked when there was a sudden change. The announcements of group projects wouldn’t have caused my body to be paralyzed in fear and my stomach to lurch. I wouldn’t have thought so much about self-harming and suicide. I wouldn’t have spent a period that lasted months of obsessively tracking my calories and eating as little as I could, which was sometimes less than 1,000 calories a day. I wouldn’t have spent day in and day out in my bedroom, secluded and isolated. I wouldn’t have felt so miserable all the time. But that’s just high school.

I can trace some of the symptoms I have now back even further than that. I remember having days in middle school where I felt such a deep sadness, but I couldn’t figure out why. Days where I didn’t want anyone near me and just wanted to be completely alone. Days where every little noise was just too much, and would drive me up a wall. I would have these intense stomach aches that would spring on so suddenly, that I thought it had to be the flu. I called my mom to pick me up on two different occasions when I was in the fifth grade, but as soon as I was in her car, the pain would completely disappear. As any mom would, she thought I was faking, and because I didn’t understand what was happening, I just started learning to cope with them. I would just curl up as much as I could, gripping my stomach or ask to go to the bathroom to just sit until the pain passed. I remember always feeling like people were talking about me or trying to “get me,” and being terrified that my friends were all planning to turn on me. I would lay awake at night because the pain in my stomach would be so bad. Often times, in the middle of the night, I’d go downstairs and kneel over the toilet, because I was positive THIS would be the time I’d throw up. Of course, nothing ever came up, so I’d just curl up and press my cheek to the cold, bathroom floor until the pain subsided enough to allow me to walk back up the stairs.

There are even times in elementary school that I remember experiencing symptoms, but never understanding what they were. I remember the fourth grade when we’d have color by numbers with math problems in each space. I never understood why I never could seem to get mine done. I did the math really fast, usually faster than anyone else, and would spend the rest of the time coloring, but still never get them done. Looking back now, I understand why. Most kids saw a cluster of spaces that were meant to be colored blue or red, and color the entire cluster, but I HAD to color each space individually because I have obsessive-compulsive symptoms within my anxiety. As a nine year old kid, I didn’t know this. I didn’t know I was coloring “wrong.” All I knew was how embarrassing it was for my teacher to say that I didn’t have my work done in front of the whole class. I knew that I felt ashamed and wanted to cry every time I couldn’t get them done. I felt so stupid, despite the fact that I could do my math the fastest. I remember having stomach aches almost every night in bed, but assuming my parents wouldn’t believe me, because no one’s stomach hurt that often. I remember laying in my bed, surrounded by stuffed animals, and rubbing my hand gently over my aching stomach until I could fall asleep. I remember being so afraid to ask to use the bathroom, that I would try to hold it until I got home. In the case of what elementary teachers refer to as “bathroom emergencies,” when I could no longer hold it, I would have to talk myself into asking and feel terrified when I finally worked up the courage to do so. I remember being in second grade, and every morning there would be math problems on the board to solve. I remember walking in one day and seeing the problem “6×7” and feeling like I wanted to cry, because I didn’t know how to solve it. This was the first day I was introduced to multiplication, but I didn’t want all my classmates and my teacher to think I was stupid, so I listened to conversations around me, and eventually figured out to add the number 7 six times. I think a lot of why I became so intelligent is that I was always so scared to ask for help, so I figured out almost everything on my own. Eventually solving new problems became easier and easier, that it seemed odd to me that others couldn’t get it.

So why am I telling this story? It’s not like it’s fond to remember- in fact, it makes me wish I could go back and give my younger self a hug and explain to her what was going on in her brain. I want to go back, knowing what I do know about my disorders, and do my life differently. A part of me even wants to cry for that little girl I used to be. I don’t tell this story to try and get people to feel sorry for who I used to be. I tell this story because I hope I can help other kids not have to suffer in silence like I did. The more we as adults are aware of how these symptoms can present in younger children and in teenagers, the better chance we have at identifying them for what they are when we see them. When we are better able to identify these symptoms, the better chance we have of helping these kids before they spin out of control. Before they self-harm, before they develop eating disorders, before their self-esteem is destroyed, before they get themselves in trouble, and even before they become suicidal. The more we understand about mental health, the more we can do to manage it and maybe even prevent it from getting any worse. The more we understand it, the easier we can identify it at younger ages to teach them how to cope with their symptoms in healthy, constructive ways. Most of us who struggle with mental health know that the more we can learn about our disorders, the better we can manage symptoms and prevent mental health relapses. Maybe I wouldn’t have to work so hard at this at age 22, if I had known what was wrong with me back then.

Dont-be-ashamed-of-your-story-it-will-inspire-others[1].png

 

An Inside Look

As you are all aware, I try to be very open about my mental health. I’m honest about my diagnosis and delve into my past experiences with it without holding back. The reason I do this is to try and end stigmas surrounding mental health. When I am honest about what happens in my head, but still show that I am able to function normally (for the most part), it helps people to see that mental health is not who someone is- it’s just a small part of them. With that said, I’d like to use this post to dig a little deeper into the inner workings of my twisted brain.

When people hear the words “depression” or “anxiety,” certain thoughts and images tend to come to mind, but often times, it’s so much more than what we commonly understand. There are symptoms that you wouldn’t even think are a part of a disorder, but rather a mere flaw in personality. There are so many parts of life that can be impacted by these things that most people may not have noticed or even heard of. This post is about the deeper symptoms I experience as a result of my disorders, but also ones I have found, through research, to be quite common. My hope is that by learning these things, people can start to better understand people who struggle with these symptoms everyday of their lives, whether you notice them or not.

katie-crawford-photo-series-shows-what-living-with-anxiety-really-feels-like-e1444645883747

To give you a better understanding of my personal story, my official diagnosis is Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Severe Social Anxiety Disorder, Moderate Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive-Like Symptoms. I don’t have OCD officially, but I do experience some of the symptoms that tend to be associated with the disorder, such as an intense need for order and an obsession with the feeling of my hands that can cause me to be unable to function if they don’t feel “right.” Because my anxiety affects me so much more than my depression (most days), my psychiatrist (who I no longer see) seemed to think that my anxiety fuels my depression. While each disorder comes with its own list of common telltale signs and symptoms, many of which I experience, there are also many that run much deeper than what you may see on the surface. There are also symptoms I experience that you may notice, but never realized were a part of a deeper problem. I would like to add that these are symptoms from my own personal experience. While I have found a lot of them to be quite common, I am in no way saying they affect everybody. This is purely based off of my own personal experiences. With that said, I’m hoping that me being open and honest about these things can help others better understand their own disorders or that of someone else.

The most noticeable one would be my picking. I have gotten a lot of comments on this, because it is obvious for a lot of people. What this means is that I pick at myself; I pick at the bottom of my feet, my cuticles, and my face. Others may pick other places, but these are my hot my hot spots. I have taken chunks of skin off my feet so big, that it hurts to walk. I have picked my cuticles and the skin around my nails until it bleeds. I run my fingers over my face to look for even the tiniest bump and claw at it until I can’t feel it anymore. There are times that I claw at my face so much, the skin becomes completely red and angry and even bleeds. A lot of times, I’m not even aware I’m doing it. I’ve since discovered that this is a side effect of anxiety, and I’ve realized I do it most when I’m feeling anxious. I know a lot of people find this habit gross, but I can’t seem to stop it.

Another thing I tend to do a lot is catastrophize. While this probably sounds familiar, I feel that not a lot of people really understand how it can happen. For me, it mostly comes from unanswered text messages. I will text a friend and he won’t respond, and I’ll start feeling like something is wrong. When I can’t take it anymore, I’ll send another one. When no response comes I start spiraling down by thinking I did something to make them angry. I analyze everything I’ve said to him in the past few days, looking for where I might have made a mistake. I’ll take every tiny little phrase that has the tiniest possibility of being the culprit to try to figure out where I went wrong. I start obsessing over how I can make it right, and drive myself crazy thinking they are mad at me and that I’ve ruined everything and they will probably never talk to me again. The hardest part is that the logical side of my brain knows there is most likely a simple, harmless explanation for this, but no matter how many times I tell myself that, I can’t seem to stop the part of my brain that is creating scenarios in which I am the bad guy who needs to beg for forgiveness. This can make life extremely stressful, especially when it’s multiple people at once. If I do finally get a text back, I am filled so much relief, it’s like I wasn’t able to breathe normally until that moment- like whatever was squeezing my chest has finally let go. But when they don’t, I get an overwhelming sadness that takes hold, because in my mind, I’ve lost another friend and it’s all my fault. Catastrophizing happens in all sorts of situations, but this particular one seems to happen the most.

Going off of that point, another thing I struggle with is abandonment. I am constantly afraid of losing the people of care about, whether it be literally or figuratively. I try extremely hard to keep my friends happy, but I mess up and make mistakes. When I do, I freak out at the thought of losing them and find myself consumed in a full blown anxiety attack. I often feel as though I am being replaced by someone “better than me,” or cut out of a group to be left on the outskirts. I got to extensive lengths to try and prevent this from happening, such as not using a certain spoon because a friend mentioned it was her favorite, or never giving my opinion on simple things like where to eat for fear of picking something someone else may not want. I adjust my lifestyle to fit others’ wants without even discussing it, even when I don’t want to. I try really hard to be this perfect friend in hopes I won’t lose someone, but I always seem to inevitably fail.

I get into a period of sensory overload where every little noise irritates me. Sometimes this gets so bad that someone clearing their throat or shifting in their chair makes me want to scream. The ticking of the clock gets so loud that I can’t hear anything past it. Every tiny noise sounds like thunder in my brain and I just want to yell at everything to just shut up. This tends to happen when I am extremely anxious or depressed, especially when I’m a store that’s more busy than usual or something along those lines. Noises make me feel like I’m going insane. It tends to go away within a few minutes, but that doesn’t make the minutes it’s there any easier.

I get physically exhausted. I’ve written a post on this before, but I still wanted to include it to reiterate how important this is. Having anxiety and depression is unbelievably draining. Simple tasks like getting dressed or taking out the garbage suck up all my energy. Too much time spent in an anxious state can wipe me out completely for the rest of the day. When I’m depressed, I’m too tired to eat or change my clothes or even shower. Every little task feels like running a marathon. When it’s really bad, I get muscle aches from being so tense. My legs ache to the point where walking is a pain and my head feels too heavy for my neck to hold up on its own. I am so drained, I don’t want to do anything but lay down and maybe watch T.V. Even sitting up feels too difficult. A lot of people will perceive this as laziness, but in reality, fighting a battle inside your mind sucks the life right out of you. It bothers me when people comment on how I’m not doing anything or that I just lay around, but some days I don’t have any energy left to give.

Mental illness can creep up in a variety of ways that run so deep, it’s amazing to learn that it is a side effect of a disorder. There are things you thought were just your personality that can end up being another symptom. The good news is, the more we understand about mental health and how it affects people in different ways, it’s easier to recognize the signs and do our best to maintain better control over them. I hope some people found this post helpful, whether it helps you discover things about yourself or helps you to recognize these symptoms in someone close to you. The more honest we are about mental health, the more we can destroy stigmas that hold us back.

 

#97: Raising Awareness and Ending Stigmas

  In recent years, the NFL has been plagued with a variety of scandals and controversy. There have been reports of teams cheating, referees being paid off, players accused of abuse, and, of course, the heated debate of players taking a knee. Lately, it seems the NFL is always under fire, but instead of focusing on that, I want to reflect on something I feel an NFL team did right.

            Many people know I have always been a ride or die Vikings fan, no matter what kind of season they have. I absolutely love Vikings season, often get a little too into the games, and find myself in a lot of overly excited discussions. No matter the outcome of a season, the Vikings have always been my number one team. For the most part, the Vikings have steered clear of scandal. With the exception of a few incidents, such as the Adrian Peterson scandal, the Vikings seem to avoid the drama spotlight. But in spite of recent events, I think they deserve it.

            I have been watching Everson Griffin’s impressive career as a defensive end for the Vikings since his rookie season. In that time, he’s made some questionable life choices, but he has still done amazing things for our team. This past week, it has reached the news that Griffin is being banned from playing for the foreseeable future, despite the Vikings rocky start to the season. The reasons surrounding this decision all stem from Griffin’s struggle with his mental health that have been prominent in his angry outbursts at practice, as well as incident that occurred last Saturday that ended with Griffin being taken by ambulance to a mental health facility, where he is hopefully receiving the help he obviously needs.

            While I love my Vikings, Griffin being a part of that team is not the reason I want to shed more light on this topic. Instead, I see this as an opportunity to not only shed light on mental health, thus helping to end the stigmas surrounding it, but also to give credit where credit is due.

            The thing that no one wants to say or believe is that mental health does not discriminate. Everson Griffin shows that it does not matter if you are a successful man that is following your passions and making a ton of money while doing so- mental health doesn’t care. Many like to think that mental health is something you can simply grow out of or be too successful for. They think they are immune to it. But Griffin shows that you can do everything right- you can get a well-paying career in something you’re passionate about, get married, have kids, buy a house, and all things we are taught will make us happy, and still end up struggling with mental health. He shows that no one is immune to it, but also that people can still go on to have successful lives despite it. It doesn’t have to define anyone and it’s not something people should fear and look down on; it’s just part of some people’s lives. Having a mental health issue does not make Griffin “crazy” or “psycho,” it just makes him a human being that has an extra barrier to work through and has hit a minor setback. It doesn’t negate all the things he’s done and all the things he will do in the future.

            I also want to comment on the beautiful way the team is handling this. Sadly, people seem to like to make men feel like they are above mental health. All too often they are told to “man up,” “suck it up,” or “get over it.” We live in a society that loves to portray mental health as something that is only for females. Men aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings, have mental breakdowns, or seek help- they are supposed to grin and bear it. For this situation to occur in a setting as “manly” as a football team is nothing short of incredible. To see a coach step up and ban a player from playing until he had a better handle on his mental health is not something many would expect. It would be easy to discredit Griffin, call him week, or bash him into the ground, however I am inspired to see his team rallying behind him to let him know he has their support. Seeing a group of football players offering support for someone who is struggling with mental illness is honestly something I was surprised to see. To see Coach Zimmer and his teammates continue to talk up Everson Griffin without trying to cover up his struggle is inspiring. To hear them say that sanity and safety is a priority above football is shocking in the most beautiful way.

            While I’m sure this is far from their intent, I think what the Vikings team did and continues to do is a huge win in the ongoing battle of mental health. I don’t see a team that is weak or trying to cover their asses- I see a team that is saying “It’s okay struggle with mental health.” All throughout the country, there are grown men seeing this happen and maybe seeing these symptoms in themselves. How the Vikings are handling this could very well be the nudge those men needed to go seek help. Little boys who dream of playing in the NFL are seeing that mental health doesn’t have to stand in their way; that their heroes struggle to and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, but also doesn’t have to consume someone’s life and it definitely does not need to be kept quiet or ruin someone’s life. The more awareness we raise, the more when can educate about it. That’s how you end stigmas. I didn’t think it was possible, but this story makes me love and respect the Vikings even more. As for Everson Griffin- I hope he gets the help he needs and I cannot wait to see what else he is capable of, on and off the field.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

The Racist Agenda

Usually, I try to stray away from hot topics on my blog, but this one in particular gets my blood boiling. This one makes me want to scream from the rooftops and call people to action. This one makes me sick. What am I talking about? Mollie Tibbetts. While the crime itself is sickening and infuriates me, the responses are what really gets me worked up. Before I dive into that, I want to pose the questions “Would this be getting the attention it is if she weren’t a white woman?” While her race does not take away from the fact that a young girl was brutalized and murdered, however I can’t help but wonder would her case be plastered everywhere if she were a woman of color. Here’s the thing; thousands of women murdered and never receive any media attention, so what sets this one apart? Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s because a white woman was murdered by a man of color, and the media loves to use these examples to nudge us towards a racist agenda. But here’s the secret they don’t want you to know; being a man of color did not make him a murderer. Being an “illegal” citizen did not make him a murderer. If he had been a white man, people would be saying he’s “mentally ill” or preaching about how “one bad person doesn’t mean all white men are bad.” And those of you who are using the death of an innocent woman as fuel for your racist agenda are disgusting. A young girl died for no reason. The race or status of the man who did it does not change that fact. A woman was murdered, but for some reason I don’t understand, the focus has shifted to race. This is despite the fact that our current white president has been accused of sexual assault and was recorded saying he can do whatever he wants to women, even if he has to force it, but that’s an entirely separate issue. The problem is not immigrants or people of color; the problem is the world we live in.

How many people, for one second, doubted the fact that when Mollie disappeared, a man was behind it. How many of us even toyed with the idea that a woman had kidnapped her. What does that tell you about our society? Mollie was murdered because she said “no” to a man- plain and simple. This same scenario plays out over and over again, but yet nothing ever changes. Women are killed for saying no and rejecting men so often, and yet this message is not plastered over social media. My Facebook feed isn’t littered with messages saying to put a stop to this violence. Instead, it’s full of things about building a wall and blaming immigrants for everything wrong with this country. To say that this would never had happened if this man hadn’t been in our country is saying that it would have been okay if it had happened to someone else in Mexico had he stayed there, because I can guarantee that’s what would have happened. Being an immigrant doesn’t make a murderer- if it did there wouldn’t be the vast number of American killers there are today. But there are. Instead of using this horrible situation to justify a racist agenda, maybe it should be used to show that male violence against women is a very real problem that needs to be taken more seriously by the government, by society, and by individuals.

If a white man had murdered Mollie, a situation would have played out that women know all too well. What likely would have happened would be that police, judges, defense attorneys, news reporters, and people everywhere would be asking “What was she wearing?” “What did she do to lead him on?” “What did she do to aggravate him?” “What did she expect to happen, going out jogging by herself dressed like that?” And on and on the cycle goes. But because this man is not white, the victim blaming goes away and the racism comes out. When people say “This wouldn’t have happened if we had better immigration policies” what are you telling victims and families of those who are attacked and murdered by legal citizens? That their cases matter less? That their cases are unpreventable? Because even if we took all the immigrants out of the country, women still wouldn’t be safe. They’d still be murdered for no reason. We are all so scared of pointing our fingers at ourselves, that we blame race, immigration policies, and victims. But reality is that we are responsible. We are responsible for fueling a society that is okay with violence against women. We fuel a society that blames the victim for her own murder. We fuel a society that looks to place the blame anywhere we can. Mollie was a young girl who had a long life ahead of her; a life that was stolen from her for no reason at all. Stop using your racist beliefs to take away from that, because when you do that, you disgrace her memory.

Reaching Out

Lately, there seems to be an abundance of messages telling people who are struggling with depression to reach out. Reach out to friends and family for help dealing with the overwhelming sadness that plagues their mind. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, part of depression is inhibiting the ability to reach out. People are who are deeply depressed often find themselves unable to leave their house and unwilling to talk to anyone. A common side effect of depression is participating in isolating behaviors. Because of this, it’s important to know that if you see someone struggling, it’s important for YOU to reach out. Sometimes that’s what a person needs- someone to reach out and remind them that someone is there for them. If someone seems depressed or seems to fall way out of touch for no reason; reach out to them. If someone who used to be around a lot is suddenly not around at all, reach out to them and let them know you are there for them. It may take some effort, but it’s important to remember how hard sending a simple text message can be for someone who is deeply depressed.

With that said, there’s another side of reaching out- one that may not be as well known. There are messages telling people to reach out, but what happens when people who are depressed do reach out, and they people they reach out to don’t get the memo? Often times, someone who feels like they are slipping into depression will try to reach out to others because they know what’s coming. People who have suffered a long battle with depression tend to have a better understanding of their symptoms, including when they are dangerously close to isolating themselves. They know that if they put off talking to people, they may be too depressed to even pick up the phone. So, they try to reach out, but sometimes reaching out simply does not work.

Sometimes reaching out is sending messages to five different people within an hour and getting no replies. Sometimes reaching out is sending message after message to the same person day after day and never having them respond. Sometimes reaching out is sending an outrageous picture that made you laugh to someone and waiting hours for a response that never comes. Sometimes reaching out is desperately trying to spark a dying conversation back to life because you can’t stand the silence in your own head. Sometimes reaching out means continuously finding yourself at a dead end. Sometimes, you reach and reach and reach, but no one notices. And when this happens, it can reiterate the feeling that no one cares. All those thoughts about how you don’t matter to others that come with depression seem to solidify with each unanswered message.

This is why it’s important to be aware of the fact that someone may be reaching out to you. Most likely, they won’t say “I’m reaching out to you because I’m starting to feel really depressed again and I’m trying to let you know so you can help me before it gets bad.” They aren’t going to say, “I really need you to respond because I feel unwanted by everyone in my life and your response reminds me that I’m not a burden.” You won’t read the words, “Please don’t let this conversation end because your messages are my life line right now.” It will be much more subtle than this. Reaching out is someone continuously trying to make plans with you, no matter how many times you bail. Reaching out is someone who sends you several messages even though you never respond to them. Reaching out is someone who won’t seem to let a conversation end, despite the fact that you’ve been giving one worded replies for over an hour. When someone is trying to reach out to you, it can be frustrating and just plain annoying.

It’s not your responsibility to help someone who is depressed. It’s not your job to make them feel better and it’s not your job to “fix” them. You do not have to take on the responsibility of supporting someone who is depressed. However, if someone you care about seems to be blowing up your phone for no real reason, you might just want to reply. If someone you know is sending you a boatload of mindless texts or messaging you on a regular basis, they may just need you to respond. They know you can’t take away all their problems and often times, they don’t expect you to save them. More often than not, those who are depressed just want to be reminded that they matter; that people want them in their lives. They just need a little support to help them from spiraling downward into depression. Reaching out isn’t easy for those who depressed, so if someone you care about seems to be reaching their hand out to you, you may want to reach out and grab it.

798733

What Could Have Been

When I think of you, I can’t help but think about what could have been.

Had things gone differently- the way they did in my mind- where would we be?

If things had gone differently, would we have

Morphed into our own version of perfect?

Would we be the people I still see inside my mind?

We had a chance to jump in together,

But only one of us was willing to take the leap.

Maybe I misread the signs and maybe

I was a fool for thinking we could be something, but maybe

We will forever be in state of missed opportunity.

There are times when I find myself lost

In the world of what could have been.

Where we are in a place where the universe is shaped around us-

Where we discover happiness together.

In my mind, we find peace in each other’s arms

And share secret smiles in the moments we steal.

But then reality sets in, and I remember who we really are.

I sneak glances at you, but you never look at me.

I rehearse what to say inside my head,

But the words never pass my lips.

I pretend it doesn’t hurt as we remain

Trapped dancing around each other

In this hollow state.