Exclusion and Confusion

I normally don’t dive too deep into certain aspects of my life, especially when it comes to getting all caught up in wallowing in the past, however there is something I just haven’t been able to get out of my mind. I debated writing this, but then I realized this is my blog, and I’m allowed to write whatever I want. Story time:

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a close-knit group of friends. This seems like it would be a good thing, however the problem was that they were all close to each other, but not so much with me. I chose to overlook this fact, because I did genuinely enjoy spending time with them. During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I purposed the idea of going hiking at a place about 40 miles away. Everyone was on board with the idea and all seemed super excited. The night before we were supposed to go, half of them texted me to tell me they were no longer able to go, so I texted the other half to let them know we were postponing. Everyone seemed completely okay with this, so I figured we would just figure out a different weekend. Fast forward one week later; I was scrolling through my Facebook when I saw pictures of all my friends. At the hiking place. Together. Without me. They all went on a day trip that was my idea and that I had planned without me. Then when I called them out on it, they gave me half assed excuses like “We assumed you had to work,” “It was a last minute thing,” or, my personal favorite, “We figured you wouldn’t want to go.” I was so angry and hurt, but by the end of the conversation, I was the one apologizing.

Now, I’ve told this story a lot over the years, and I do so for two very different reasons. I tell it because it shows just how bizarre my life has been and always gets a lot of laughs, and I am able to laugh about it now. I also tell it at times to help me illustrate how hard high school was for me to get through, but I got through it anyways. And when I tell this story, often times people ask me “Why did you stay friends with them?” Because after this happened, I still stuck by them. When two of them (the two I was closest to) sat me down in the school counselor’s office my junior year, and preceded to tell me everything they thought was wrong with me, I still considered them my friends. At this point, you are most definitely thinking the same thing; why did I stay friends with them. Usually, I shrug this question off and just say “I don’t know,” but the truth is I do know.

After I saw the pictures of them all hiking and having fun without me, I was crushed. I didn’t understand how people could be so cruel and kept asking myself what I had done to deserve that kind of treatment. But while they were feeding me crappy excuses, I realized I had two choices: I could sever all ties with them and go through my last two years of high school completely alone, or I could take those feelings and bury them down deep inside myself and figure out how to look past the whole thing. I stayed friends with them because I had no one else. And each time they did things that made me feel worthless, I did the same thing- I buried my feelings and pretended not to be hurt because at least they included me sometimes. At least I had someone to sit by at lunch. At least I had people to talk to.

By the time I was a senior, I had found a different group of people to hang out with, and began to drift apart from them. I still talked to them on a regular basis, still sat with them at lunch once in a while, and still hung out with them at times. But after I graduated, I moved on with my life and never looked back.

The thing is, I have been excluded my entire my life. In my AP Government class my junior year of high school, the other nine people in the class moved to the opposite side of the room leaving me to sit completely alone on the other side. I had friends come over to my house almost every night during the summer growing up to play night games, but I always picked last when it came time to pick teams. I did group projects alone because everyone else had friends to pair up with, and I was left alone. When I was in eighth grade, I begged one of my classmates to let me be in her group for a video project so I wouldn’t have to be by myself. When I got to college, I thought I was finally with people who accepted me when I joined rugby, but when we were scrimmaging for practice, I was once again the last picked. Every. Single. Time. I’m no stranger to being left out, but I always promised myself I wouldn’t let people treat me the way my group of friends in high school did ever again.

Flash forward to now. I’ve been out of college for over a year and have what I think is a solid group of friends. All summer, I’ve been telling my friends I want to go to a popular amusement park. They say “We’ll find a weekend,” or “Why don’t we wait until the fall?” About two weeks ago, I’m scrolling through Facebook, and I see a picture of the four of them at this park. I was, once again, crushed. When I called them out on it, I got half-assed excuses like “We figured you were working,” “It just happened last minute,” and “We didn’t know you wanted to go.” Talk about déjà vu. I decided that I was done being the one to reach out. I was done being the one to start conversations and make plans. I spent a week fighting the urge to send messages or tag them in Facebook posts and waiting for one of them to reach out to me (and not in response to a group chat with a separate group of people)- to show me they actually did care about me. When none of them did, I again found myself faced with that same choice. And again, I chose to stuff my feelings away, ignore the hurt and anger I felt, and figure out a way to move on because I felt that something that seemed so minor was not worth ending friendships over. It wasn’t worth isolating myself over and it didn’t negate all the good memories. So, I reached out. I buried the sadness and frustration and pretended I wasn’t still hurting.

Except now, I keep asking myself if I’m just making the same mistake again. Will things like this happen over and over again? Will I tell this story years later and have people ask me “Why did you stay friends?” Will I, once again, be continuously left out and forced to pretend that I’m okay with it? Will I be edged out and pushed away? I ask myself why this keeps happening to me. What is so wrong with me that I keep finding myself back here, feeling like I don’t matter to anyone? What more do I have to do to prove that I’m a good person who is worth being friends with? How many more times will I find myself doing things for my friends, when in the back of my mind I know they wouldn’t do the same for me? Am I stupid for choosing to overlook this incident and move on? How many more times will I be stuck feeling this way?

And the hardest part is that I can’t even bring myself to tell them how I feel- to tell them how much they hurt me because I don’t want them to feel bad. I don’t want them to think they’re bad friends, because they truly are the best friends I’ve ever known. They’re the people who come to my rescue whenever I have car problems (which seems to be often). They’re the first people I tell my good news to. They’re the people who take me out to celebrate my success, like getting a new job. They’re the people who ask me to be a part of one of the biggest days of their lives. They’re the people I take vacations with, and don’t even care about what goes wrong. They’re the people who come over just to spend time with me. They’re the people who come to my house at 3am just to make sure I’m okay. They’re the ones who make me laugh in my darkest hours. They’re the ones that put up with my mental health and all the baggage that comes with it. They’re the ones who listen to my problems without trying to “one up” me. They are the people who help me find humor in everything. They are the ones who accept me, even though I have a million flaws and annoying habits. They love me even when I’m not very lovable. They are the people I can’t even picture going through life without, and I just can’t seem to stop trying to show them how much they mean to me. I make their favorite baked goods because I know how much they love them. I ask questions about things I know mean a lot to them, because I know how it feels to have no one to talk about your passions with. I stay up late even when I’m exhausted, because spending time with them is more important to me. I sit outside and freeze for three hours to watch softball games, because I know how it feels to have no one come to support you and I don’t want them to feel that way. I send them pictures that I hope make them laugh to brighten up their day just a little. I tell myself they didn’t mean to hurt me, and that it was just an honest mistake, that it doesn’t bother me, and that I’m over it. I laugh off the hurt and the sadness because I don’t want them to think badly of themselves. I ignore the voice in my head, no matter how loud it gets, that keeps asking me if I’m just making the same mistake.

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The Top 10 Reasons I’m Single

Okay, so I’m not actually listing reasons per se. I don’t really want to wage an attack on my personality or appearance, because that’s just not healthy or enjoyable. Instead, I’m sharing with you my favorite stories involving things I have said or done that may have something to do with my current relationship status. Some revolve around my failed attempts at flirting, some paint a picture of how blunt I can be when I’m not interested, and a few just paint a small picture of my bizarre personality. Here are the top 10 reasons I’m still single.

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I was eating at a restaurant with my mom for my birthday, and we had a cute waiter that I was trying to flirt with. The key word there was trying. When we were done eating, my mom told him it was my birthday, and apparently that meant I got a giant chocolate chip cookie. He brought it over and asked if I wanted some plates, and my dumbass responded, “Plates are for amateurs.” I’m honestly surprised I didn’t follow it up with finger guns.

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I was at a local bar, dancing with a group of girls, when a guy just randomly started dancing on me. I was just out to have a good time with my friends, and was definitely not in the mood to be hit on, if you can even call it that. After trying to move away from him a couple times, and having him continue to try to dance on me, I finally turned around to face him. This creepy ass looking guy that was probably about 10 years older than me had the audacity to sheepishly smile at me, and I noticed he was missing just about every other tooth. Me being who I am, looked him dead in the eyes and said “I’m sorry, you need to have all of your teeth to ride this ride.”

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I make memes like this and post them on my social media:

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A little backstory on this- I was at work one night, and my coworkers were talking about celebrity doppelgängers. One of my coworkers asked me if I had one, and I responded as any normal person would, “Yeah, Danny DeVito.” When I got home, I took my hair out of my top knot and it was sticking out everywhere, and one thing led to another and this meme was born.

I was at a bar, and this time I was half hoping to meet a fella, when a very cute guy approached me. I knew he wasn’t a total creep, because he was friends with my twin brother. He did exactly what a guy should do, and came up to me and introduced himself. In my head, I was thinking, “Wow, this guy is really cute and actually seems like a semi-decent human being. I should respond with something cute and witty.” What came out of my mouth in the coldest tone that has ever happened in the history of the world was, “Congratulations.” Needless to say, that shipped sailed away very quickly.

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This one is not quite a story, but more of an ongoing thing. While I try very hard to promote body positivity in my posts, I do admit that I have a pretty impressive (not sure if that’s the right word, but it’s what I’m going with) beer belly. I enjoy drinking beer quite often, however it does cause a less than attractive gut. I have a habit of sticking out my beer belly as far as I can, and holding it like a pregnant belly, usually in public. I keep telling people it’s going to be a Mich Ultra, or a Budlight, or whatever beer I happen to be drinking at the time. While it’s the opposite of attractive, I usually get a lot of laughs from it and find it hilarious. I will admit, that I should maybe stop doing it in public if I ever hope to change my relationship status.

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I was at a local bar (why do so many of my stories start this way?) sitting a table with some buddies and playing dice. I got up to walk to the bathroom, and as I was crossing the dance-floor to get to my destination, a guy began to attempt to dance on me. I turned around and said “No thanks,” and kept walking. As I was on my way back to the table, the same guy, once again, tried the same routine. Now, a little backstory on me. I have a huge problem with men just coming up to me and starting to dance on me- not with me, but ON me. However, I’m not naïve enough to think this will never happen, and I therefore have a rule. When this occurs, I will ask nicely once and only once. After that, if he chooses not to respect my answer, all bets are off. So, when this guy, again started trying to dance on me while I was clearly walking away, I whipped around and told him, quite sternly, “I will end your f*****g life.”

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I was out shopping at the mall, and it was obnoxiously busy for a Tuesday. I think it goes without saying that I am not what you’d call a “people person.” I do not like stores or malls that are loud and crowded, mainly because I suffer from social anxiety. On a Tuesday afternoon, one wouldn’t expect the mall to be so busy, but there we were. While buying whatever we were buying at a store, my mom commented to the cashier that it was overly busy for a week day and I agreed. The cashier (who was a moderately cute boy) looked at me and said, “You don’t like places when they’re busy?” My response? “I like my stores as empty as my soul.”

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I was at a restaurant (seriously why do these always happen when I’m eating or drinking) and the T.V. had a rugby game on (my favorite sport) and the All Blacks were playing (my favorite team), so of course, I was invested in this game. The waiter (who was very cute) noticed that I was into the game. Here in the United States, not a whole lot of people know how rugby is played, let alone are invested into the game, so I knew this was probably a rarity for this guy. I suspected this when he said, “Oh! You know rugby?” I nodded, and he said “I learned all about rugby in a class I took in college.” I was attempting to be flirty and seem impressive, so I responded with, “That’s cute. I play it.” Now this might have worked had my tone matched my intent, however instead of sounding cute and coy, it sounded extremely condescending and detached. And another one bites the dust.

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I was at a bar for my 21st birthday and was at a steady level of intoxication, as I had been drinking non-stop for the past three hours. My 21st birthday was on a Friday night, which also happened to be during the biggest drinking weekend of the year at my college, so pretty much everyone was out that night. I had gone all out with my hair and makeup and was wearing a sparkly, black sling dress, so I was feeling pretty confident. As I was stumbling my way through the bar to get another drink,  I ran into a guy I had been majorly crushing on for the past couple years (two years later, I’m still crushing). He told me Happy Birthday and pulled me into the best hug I had ever gotten before. In my drunken state, I did not realize I was saying the thought that crossed my mind out loud, where he could hear it. What was said thought? “Oh, it’s even better than I imagined.” Face, meet palm.

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Make no mistake, I do not tell these stories because I am desperate for a relationship; I tell them because I think they are funny and say a lot about who I am. While I sometimes wish I was in a relationship to have someone to share that bond with, overall, I am very content being single. I’m at an age where I’m trying to figure out what direction I want my life to head, and I love being able to plan that solely around myself, without having to factor in another person. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding a forever love at a young age, I enjoy being able to focus solely on my career and MY life. I am very open to starting a relationship at this point in my life, but it is not something I am actively working towards because I am happy being on my own, for the most part. I tell these stories to show just how deep my single brain really goes; I’ve been single for so long, I don’t even know what I’d do if I wasn’t. More than anything, I hope these stories make people laugh, because being single is not the worst thing in the world. Whether you’re single or not doesn’t matter- all that matters is whether or not you’re happy.

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Ways to Entertain Yourself on a Super Boring Day

Ever have a day where you’re so bored, you just don’t know what to do with yourself? Days where there’s no one around to hang out with, but if you spend one more second on your couch, you’re going to lose it? I have days like this all too often, so I’ve become somewhat of an expert at finding ways to pass the time and even enjoy the day. Since it’s taken me years to perfect this list, I figured I could save you all some time and share it with you! Here’s my list of ways to suck joy out of an otherwise boring day.

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Take the longest shower ever:

Nothing leaves you feeling more relaxed and refreshed than a shower where you spare no expense. Most of the time, we shower before going to work or bed and don’t have time to do all the things that make a shower satisfying. When you have nothing else to do in a day, why not take the extra time to give yourself a luxurious shower? Crank up the heat, scrub the gunk out of your hair, exfoliate your skin, shave your legs, and do whatever else you never have time to do. Maybe even take a bath, if that’s your thing. Bottom line- spending an extended amount of time in a hot water will leave you feeling like a whole new person.

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Scrape the dead skin off your feet:

Maybe it’s just me, but something about getting all the flaky skin off the bottom of my feet is so satisfying. If you’re the same way, here’s how I do it. Fill up a container big enough to fit your feet in (Doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it holds water) with as hot of water as you can comfortably stand. Pour about a half of a cup to a cup of Listerine mouthwash into the water then plunge your feet in and let them soak. You can add some Epsom salt if you want to get extra with it. Give it a good fifteen minutes then take one foot and use a pumice stone to scrape off as much skin as you can get before you swap feet. Then put them both back into the water and add some hot water and/or more Listerine as needed. I usually repeat this process three times before drying off my feet and slathering them in lotion. I have yet to find anything that works as good as this method.

Make yourself a bomb-ass meal:

Instead of spending the day scavenging your kitchen for unfulfilling snacks, get up and cook yourself something really good. We all have a Pinterest board full of recipes we want to try, so pick one that looks delicious and make it! I make it a goal to make at least two of my Pinterest recipes per month, and I’ve been slowly making my way through my entire board. Some turn out amazing and have been added to my permanent meal roster, while others have been deleted off the board. So, find a recipe you’ve always wanted to try, and try it! This may require leaving the house for ingredients, and if that’s a hard no for you, find a recipe that you already have the stuff for or alter one to fit what’s already in your fridge. If you’re a person who loves to cook, but hates the cleanup then save the cleanup for tomorrow and just enjoy the cooking process. Make it extra fun, and crank up your favorite music while you work. At the end of it all, you have yourself a (hopefully) bomb ass meal. If cooking seriously isn’t your thing, then order your favorite takeout meal and treat yourself that way.

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Do your make-up:

At some point, you’ve probably seen some dramatic makeup and thought “That’s awesome, but there’s no way I can pull it off.” If you’re just going to sit home all day, why not try one out? I have a Pinterest board of make-up ideas I love, and I try them out when I have nothing else to do. It’s a safe and fun way to experiment with different colors and techniques that you’ve never tried before. You may even surprise yourself and find a look that looks amazing on you. I know make-up is crazy expensive, so if you struggle to waste it, find a look that uses the colors in your palettes you never use; this way you’re not wasting your good stuff. If you look awesome, snap a few pics and post them on social media for a little self-esteem boost. If you look ridiculous, just wipe it off, and no one will ever know.

Deep clean all or part of your house:

Okay, I know this one isn’t for everyone, but getting your clean on can make you feel like you actually accomplished something on an otherwise waste of day. Start with something small to get you in the groove, such as doing the dishes or picking up the clothes scattered on your bedroom floor (I know you have some- we all do). Once you start, you’ll probably be more motivated to keep going. Take it one room at a time, so if you lose all your momentum part of the way through, you’ll have a whole room or two done rather than a ton of half clean rooms. I love to start with my kitchen, because I use it the most. I do the dishes, take everything off the counters and scrub them, wipe down the cabinets, clean the stove, mop the floors, and whatever else I need to do to make it look spotless. Sometimes, I stop there and other times, I continue to the next room. I keep up this pattern until I’m done with my whole apartment or run out of gas; whichever comes first. Again, crank up your favorite play list while you clean to make it way more fun. By the time you’re done, whenever that is, you’ll feel like you actually got something done.

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Set up camp outside:

I firmly believe that there is a HUGE difference between sitting inside and sitting outside. The mixture of the fresh air and getting away from the T.V. is super refreshing. So, grab a blanket or lounge chair, and get your butt outside (depending on the weather). Sit outside and read a book or a magazine, do a work puzzle, play a game on your phone, or turn on some music (or an audiobook, if you’re me) and close your eyes- whatever it takes for you to just unwind and enjoy the fresh air.

Do a workout:

This is a great way to not only pass some time, but also to give yourself a jump start. The possibilities here are endless! Go to a local gym and do some intense cardio or weight lifting. If that’s not your thing, do one in the comfort of your own home. The internet is loaded with different workouts to fit your needs, whether you want something to get your heart rate pumping or a relaxing yoga routine. If you prefer the outdoors, go for a walk, jog, or bike ride, or do some aerobics in your backyard. If you do it right, you’ll feel tired when you’re done, but you’ll also feel empowered and maybe even inspired to get some sh*t done!

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Do a craft project:

If you’re anything like me, you have all the supplies for a project that’s been sitting in a closet for months and you have a Pinterest board full of fun ideas for craft projects you’d love to try. If you have nothing else to do, get off your butt and finish one! When you get one done, you might even be inspired to do more, and you’ll (hopefully) have an awesome new piece to display somewhere. Many of us complain that we have zero time to get these things done, but when time presents itself, we waste it away watching Netflix instead of getting up and actually doing it. You can even pick a craft project you can do while watching Netflix and have the best of both worlds. Make yourself something and be proud of it, and even if it turns out to be an epic fail, at least you tried it!

 Call someone:

I much prefer texting to calling, but sometimes it’s so nice to hear the other person’s voice. We live in a world where people talk on the phone less and less, because it takes up too much time and it’s less convenient than texting. But sometimes, the cure to boredom is actually hearing another person’s voice. So, call a friend you haven’t chatted with for awhile and spend some time on the phone and really talk. More often than not, I’ll call my mom when I’m bored and spend an hour or two just talking. I think we all forget sometimes how nice it is to actually talk out loud to someone and hear their voice when they respond. You can get deep and philosophical, vent about who or what has been pissing you off, or keep it lighthearted and fun. Talk inside or outside- wherever you want- just let yourself become fully immersed in the conversation.

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If all else fails, and none of these seem alluring to you or you just don’t have the energy to do them, grab yourself a case of your favorite beer, settle in, and drink up!

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Why Dogs are Better than Kids

Maybe it’s because I’m at the ripe age of 23, but lately it seems the common goal among my peers is having kids. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t completely turned away from wanting kids, however I’ve been trying to determine if the things I thought I wanted in my life are what I actually want or what society tells me I want. Kids are on that list. I have always wanted to be a mom and often saw my future as having three to four kids and an adoring husband, but as time as gone on, finding a desirable man that I like enough to want to be with has proved to be a challenge. I can’t help but think that maybe that’s not a path I want anymore, and instead see myself with a boatload of dogs. The more I think on this, the more I like what that future looks like and the more I see reasons why getting dogs are better than having kids.

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  1. For starters, there is far less physical pain and suffering with getting a dog. Having kids (the conventional way at least) involves nine long months of pregnancy, during which your entire body changes. And when these long, hard months finally come to a close, there’s an intense pain like none other just to get the thing out of your body. You then spend weeks waiting for your body to figure out how to go back to normal. On top of that, there are tons and tons of things that could go wrong. I don’t think there is a woman alive that would call child birth fun, but do you know what is fun? Picking out a dog. There is far less stress and pain and nothing is growing inside of you. You just get to go out, hang out with one or more dogs, fork over some cash, and go home with your new fur baby!

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  1. Speaking of picking out a dog, you get to PICK OUT a dog. If you have a kid, you are, to put it lightly, stuck with what you get. With a dog, you get to literally pick and choose exactly what you are looking for. Gender, age, color, size- the list goes on and on. You can look in a variety of places at a variety of times until you find the perfect dog. Don’t want to do the work of potty training? Pick an older doggo that already knows this trick. Landlord says it has to be under 30 pounds? You can choose a smaller breed. Because you aren’t time limited, you can take your time and be carefully selective. If you don’t care about such things, you can keep it short and just get the first one you like. Either way, the choice is yours.

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  1. If you do pick out one that you have to train, it’s 100 times easier than training a child. It’s years before a child is properly potty trained, whereas a dog takes a few months tops. It’s also easier to train a dog to sit down, stay put, and be quiet- all things you often see parents struggling with. 8 out of 10 times a dog will do anything you ask it to if you’re holding a treat. Plus, no one judges you for using food as a main motivator with your dog.

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  1. Getting a dog is WAY cheaper than having a child. The average cost for having a baby in the U.S. ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. This huge gap is due to vaginal births versus a C-section birth, amount of time spent in the hospital, and the care required by mom and baby. You can easily find a dog for $1,000. Yes, some purebred dogs are a few grand, the dog will still most likely be cheaper. If you don’t care about breed as much, you can get a dog for a couple hundred or less, maybe even free! This doesn’t even include all the fees that come later, like clothes, food, activities, hospital bills, etc. While some dogs can rack up some bills, however the total cost will be way less than the total you will spend on a kid.

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  1. Speaking of money spent, dogs are way lower maintenance than kids. Dogs don’t require schooling, unless you choose to send them (and even then, it’s only a few walks). Dogs aren’t involved in 15,000 sports and activities that parents need to pay for and feel the need to attend. Dogs will usually eat whatever you put in front of them and won’t spend a half hour complaining about it. They don’t fight you tooth and nail on bedtime, and when they don’t want to get in the tub, it’s perfectly acceptable to pick them up and dump them in. Dogs don’t need new clothes and shoes and don’t scream and wail when they don’t get the toy they wanted. They also don’t need your constant, undivided attention for every hour of every day. You can leave a dog home alone for a few hours or they are often perfectly with laying down and napping in another room.

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  1. When they are misbehaving, you can put a dog in a (size-appropriate please) cage. When your dog chews up something he wasn’t supposed to or is driving you insane, it’s not illegal to lock him in a kennel for a few hours. If you do this with a kid, someone will (hopefully) call the authorities. It’s not cruel or inhumane to put a dog in a kennel, however you just can’t do that to a screaming child. This is way easier than putting a child in a time out that he constantly tries to sneak out of or putting a kid in his room while she screams bloody murder the whole way down the hall. You put a dog in his kennel, close the door, and forget about him for a while.

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  1. If you happen to need daycare for whatever the reason may be, doggy daycare is so much cheaper. Child care is usually a huge financial burden on parents, but you can leave a dog home alone during the day, and no one calls CPS. In the off chance you do need dog care, it’s probably going to be a less money. I can send my dog to daycare for 8-10 hours for $20; that’s less than you’d pay a babysitter for five. You can also usually find someone to watch your dog for free, but finding the same for kids is next to impossible.

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  1. Dogs are quiet, whereas kids are very seldom quiet. Children yell and scream and cry and shriek and never seem to stop talking. Dogs, on the other hand, cannot speak and are therefore much quieter. While some dogs have a barking problem, most of them can be trained out of this. If you are a person who values quiet time, a kid is probably not for you. A dog, however, is a great match. Even when they do make noise, it’s usually so cute that you can’t even mad about it. Kids NEVER stop making noise, but dogs, on the other hand, are happy to stay silent.

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  1. Dogs are more fun than kids. With most kids, you have to be so gentle, careful, and age appropriate that you can only have fun with them for like 10 minutes before you’re bored. Dogs can entertain you for hours. You can say what you want around them and no one seems to care and you can play rough with them while they have a blast. Dogs can provide endless amounts of fun and entertainment, while the fun side of kids is short lived. Either they end up throwing a fit, crying, or yelling, but dogs don’t do any of things. With dogs, you can also stop whenever you want to.

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  1. Dogs will love you blindly in a way kids will not. Dogs appreciate everything you do for them and try to show you how much you love them, whereas kids often take you for granted and will probably rebel against you. Dogs don’t have teenage rebellion phases, they don’t scream that they hate you, and they don’t get mad because you got the wrong brand of cereal at the store. Dogs will love you more than they love themselves and will spend the better part of your life trying to show this to you. A dog will love you no matter the flaws you have or the mistakes you make. A dog will never point out your failures or make you feel guilty for the choices you make. A dog will show you more love than you deserve; you are their world, and they will love you blindly.

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I know a lot of people in the world love kids, have kids that they adore, and want kids more than anything, but this life path may not be for everyone for a variety of reasons. I always thought I was destined to be a mom, and I always pictured human children for this. But lately I’ve been thinking I’ve had it all wrong. Maybe, I was destined to be a damn good dog mom. Maybe some people love kids more than anything, but I for one, definitely see the benefits having a dog has over having a child. Even if you disagree, you can’t deny the “scientific” evidence I’ve just given. I think at this point, it’ll take a whole lot to change my mind. Maybe I need to have a kid to know for sure, but for right now, I’m perfectly happy just being a dog mom.

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New Boobs, Who Dis?

It’s now been a whole six weeks since I underwent breast reduction surgery, and as of yesterday, I have been officially cleared of all restrictions. The past six weeks have flown by and I am still in awe of all the changes that have come with this experience. Officially, I have had approximately 8 pounds of tissue removed from my breasts, and I feel every single one of those pounds. The most obvious change is the change in size. It’s strange to look down and not see the enormous boobs I was so familiar with; to not have to constantly adjust them or move them out of my way. While majority of my clothes fit much better, some have become too big and I look as though I am being swallowed. I have gone down a size in shirts, and many of my older clothes that no longer fit over my boobs that I couldn’t bear to part with can now be worn again. I can walk around my house without a bra on and even do some housework while being perfectly content. My back and neck feel a million times better. I have had one migraine in the past six weeks, which is a new record for me. My shoulders don’t feel as tense and I can feel myself moving easier. I’m not kept up at night from the pain in my back and driving has become so much easier. I can feel my posture slowly becoming better, as I am no longer weighed down by my chest. It’s almost as if I can slowly feel the tightness in my muscles loosening. For me, the reduced tension in my back and neck has been the most astonishing.

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*Old Bra: Size J and New Bra: Size D (Koda’s tennis balls for scale)

As much as I am loving my new body, it certainly has not come without some setbacks. The first time I went shopping for bras, I became so overwhelmed by all the choices and options that I had to leave the store. I have been relearning how to shop for my body. It’s strange for me to even take the time to look at bras when I never even bothered before. I am so used to simply buying one solely because it came in my size online, that I don’t even know what I want. Having color options outside of beige, black, and white is like an out of this world experience that I am at last for where to start. The swimsuits are just as terrifying. Yesterday, I decided after my final doctor’s appointment, to buy myself a bra and a swimsuit. When I finally worked up the courage to try some of these things on, I ended up having a panic attack in the dressing room at Target; my first panic attack in years. While my first instinct was to run out of the store and hightail it back home, I forced myself to buy at least one thing. I ended buying a dark pink sports bra for $20. I have not had a sports bra since 2017, and this one had cost me $136. I had bought it year and a half before and wore it until the strap gave way to the strain of my boobs and snapped. Once I finally got home and calmed myself down with some Supernatural, I decided to take another stab at the swimming suits. I went to my local Walmart and tired on several more before landing on one I was comfortable in. It is plain black, as I didn’t want any flashy colors to draw attention to me, with a halter top that shows no cleavage what-so-ever. I am so used to covering up my chest as much as possible, that I’m still not comfortable with showing cleavage. Maybe next year I will have the courage to get something a tad showier, but for now, I’m sticking with what I know.

I have longed to work out for a very long time, but with my giant boobs, it was just too painful and difficult. Yesterday, I decided to keep challenging my anxiety and went and signed up for a membership at the local Y. (Of course, this was after a lengthy pep talk to myself and talking the situation over with my dog.) I then slapped on my new swimsuit, and headed into the pool… where I skittered to the hot tub to sit and hide beneath the bubbles. I sat there for about 15 minutes, working up the courage to head into the pool. When I finally slid into the cool water, claimed a swimming lane, and started going I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. I was amazed by how much easier it was to glide through the water and move my arms to swim down the length of the pool. I was shocked that I had never realized how hard it had been to swim with my boobs. I continued doing laps in the pool until I couldn’t catch my breath any longer (mind you, this wasn’t very long because it had been a LONG time since I had worked out). The feeling of accomplishment I had when I left the Y was unlike anything I had ever felt. Instead of feeling like I had to work against my body, it felt like my body was working with me, and I cannot wait to see what else it can do.

These past six weeks have been intense for me with all the changes that have come, but, I cannot stress this enough, I have absolutely no regrets. Every challenged I have faced since my surgery has been worth it. The benefits I have been experiencing have been jaw dropping for me, and I cannot wait to see what others I discover along the way. I can feel my confidence improving as well as my self-image. I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Yes, I have several large scars as a result, but I don’t care about those; I have never in my life felt more beautiful. I have achieved the first step in getting my dream body, and now there is nothing holding me back from getting the rest of it. I don’t feel like I’m living in a stranger’s body anymore, and instead finally feel like it’s my own. As we all are, I am still working every day on feeling completely comfortable in my own skin and accepting my body in its entirety, however I have finally made a huge leap in the right direction. I’ll keep working on me, and hopefully you will all keep working on you.

My Boobs and Me

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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.

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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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