Monday, July 30, 2012

Warning Signs of Depression

My most recent episode of depression hit me like a truck back in January. It was steady but it came on fast. Because I had suffered from it before, I knew what was wrong almost immediately once it had occurred to me that something was wrong. The smart thing to do at that point would have been to seek counseling or a psychiatrist. Instead I let it rage on because I was too unmotivated to save myself. I think deep down I was prepared to self-destruct. Not only was I ready for it, I wanted it. The pain was so great that I would have done almost anything to make it stop forever. Getting treatment wouldn't keep it away. It would come back. It always came back.

Everyone should know what to look for. Sometimes depression just builds up over the years. Other times something happens that kicks the development into overdrive, such as a stressful life event. Whether fast or slow, here are the things to look out for:

  • Sleeping too much or too little. -- I couldn't get out of bed. When I did, I stayed up all night because I couldn't fall back asleep no matter how tired I was.
  • Eating too much or too little. -- I couldn't eat for a week or two at my worst. Other times I would stuff my face til I was a bite away from exploding.
  • Fatigue -- My whole body was constantly tired. Just going to the bathroom took massive amounts of energy that I didn't have.
  • Feeling worthless -- Everything I did felt like it was for nothing because I just wasn't good for anything. I didn't think I added much, if anything, to the world at that point.
  • Feeling hopeless -- I felt like nothing was going to change. I was going to be cursed to a life of a depression, where nothing would ever get better because I wasn't motivated enough to try.
  • Loss of interest -- Class didn't interest me. Video games didn't interest me. Hanging out with my friends was almost the last thing I wanted to do. The only thing I ever wanted to do was sleep.
  • Thoughts of suicide -- Even just a quick, passing thought of how you'd be better off dead should be a warning sign. Recognizing these thoughts and, more importantly, confiding in someone else may end up saving a life.

Depression hits people of all ages, races, religions, and locations. If you think something is wrong, there is a good chance that you're right. Get help. You deserve to be happy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Job, More Panic

My interview at McDonalds went well. I have orientation on Tuesday, and then I'll finally be employed. Of course, this means I'm panicking almost non-stop. Will I do well? I fear that the pressure will be too much for me, even in the most basic minimum wage job. Each day I'll probably end up posting about my latest panic attack, so be well prepared.

In other news, I drove today. I don't have a permit anymore or a license, but my dad had been drinking and I had bad feelings about letting him drive the 17 miles home from the picnic we went to. I did fine in the small towns, but once we hit the highway I felt like I was going to freeze up. Each lane change left me holding my breath. Merges made my heart race and slow at the same time. I'm almost 21, fully capable of driving a car, but I still fear it so much that I continue to go without a license. I wouldn't wish an anxiety disorder on anyone. Two of the most basic actions in life continue to leave me struggling to breathe. It will never stop. No matter how many times I tried to convince myself that driving was no big deal, my hands still tightly clutched the steering wheel.

I'm glad that I at least have this outlet for my anxiety. Getting it out in words makes it seem a little less scary for some reason.

I'll write better, more interesting posts soon. I need to stop letting stress slow me down.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Job Interview Anxiety

Tomorrow I have an interview at McDonalds. I'm absolutely terrified, and not just about the questions I'll be asked. I can't stop thinking about what will happen if I'm offered a job. I'm mostly anxious about screwing up. Most fast food places become incredibly busy and full of people who will eat your head if you so much as forget to put napkins in their bag (I speak from personal experience). I think about those drive-thru workers who have to do a million things at once and I panic. I really need a job, so if I'm offered one I obviously can't be picky. Then I start worrying about what will happen if they say no. My hair has been dyed an unnatural color and I have two lip piercings. For a lot of companies, that is a good enough reason to turn someone down for a job. I'm not going to dye my hair back or take out my piercings though. I like to pretend I'm doing it out of principle. The truth is I'm just stubborn.

I've had three interviews in my life. The first one, before the body mods, was at the community college I spent a year at. One of the longtime college employees used to be best friends with my aunt, so I put her down as a reference which pretty much got me the job. The second one was at Best Buy while I still had my first job at the college, and I bombed. I don't blame them for not giving me a call back. The most recent one was at Chipotle almost two weeks ago. Despite feeling like I did really well and being told to expect a call for a second interview, I still haven't heard back. That's so much worse than not being told anything. All that goes through my mind is, "What did I do wrong? Were they just trying to be polite?" Whatever I did, I hope I do better tomorrow. As much as I hate the prospect of working at McDonalds, I can't afford to be passed up on every opportunity I get. It's not good for me emotionally or financially.

The sad part is that even though all my anxiety is being channeled towards this interview, it'll still be there when it's over. If I get the job, I'll panic about that. If I don't, same outcome. I can't win with my anxiety. It tries to control me no matter how hard I fight back. One of these days I'll get better, or at least that's what I want to believe.

For now I'll just focus on tomorrow and hope that I don't get immediately turned down. If I can get past that, I think I'll be in a pretty good place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

Browsing Reddit today, I saw this on my front page. It really made me start thinking.

(click to enlarge)

If the image doesn't load for whatever reason, here's what it says:

"One of the most profound concepts in psychology is the fact that when you do something (actions), your emotions follow along behind. If you wait around to feel good or non-anxious, you'll be waiting forever. You need to start DOING, and then you will BECOME."
- Sean Cooper

What quotes have you heard lately that really resonated with you? Leave a comment or email me at

Thoughts and Regrets

My life seems like it's at a standstill. Since I withdrew from the university to focus on getting better, days have been hopelessly boring. I sit on the couch all day either playing Sims 3 or aimlessly browsing the web. I fill out whichever job applications I can in hopes that someone will hire me before my financial situation becomes catastrophic. I go to sleep at 4 am and wake past noon. At least in school, there were things I could do if I was in the mood to. Here, there's almost nothing. I'm left alone with my thoughts, and that's almost always a bad thing.

I sometimes wonder if I could have made it through the rest of the semester had I chosen to stay. Maybe I could have been strong enough. What if I hadn't called to go to the hospital that day? I probably wouldn't have gone through with a suicide attempt, and I wouldn't have an ER bill looming over my head. I would have finished my sophomore year, and I'd probably be going back next month. Now, there's nothing. I can't even apply to transfer to other universities until I pay the $2,000 I owe for the financial aid refund. I'm stuck in a hole, and thinking about how far I dug myself in only brings me closer to breaking down.

Writing this helps only slightly. My situation won't get better after everything has been said. In the end, I can't fix things. I can only make new plans and hope that I someday soon I'm strong enough to go through with them.

I promise not all my posts will be depressingly reflective. Today is just one of those days.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Being Social With Social Phobia

Living with social phobia is extremely difficult at times. Previously referred to as social anxiety disorder, it can make doing everyday things nearly impossible. I used to have panic attacks on the way to school because I was terrified of how people would judge me. I moved around a lot, usually going to a new school each year. I would dread the first day of school. Going to lunch and having to find somewhere to sit when I didn't know anyone was my own personal hell. I would keep to myself as much as possible, quietly looking around to see if anyone was judging me. Someone was always judging me. At least that's how it felt.

Social phobia is a disorder that is characterized by excessive anxiety and fear of social situations where one may perceive that he or she is being judged by others. Some only suffer from social anxiety in specific situations, such as public speaking. Others, such as myself, suffer from generalized social phobia. Here are a few of my biggest triggers:

  • public speaking, or almost anything that requires me to speak to people I don't know
  • talking on the phone
  • social gatherings where I don't know most of the people
  • using public restrooms
When I would have to give speeches in class, my heart would start racing and skipping beats. My hands and voice would shake. Sometimes it was bad enough to make me cry. I was so scared that people were going to hate whatever I had to say. They would judge the way I looked. It's really an awful way to live.

Another condition which is similar (I would argue that I actually suffer from this and not just social phobia) is avoidant personality disorder (AvPD). The main difference is that sufferers of AvPD are typically more sensitive to criticism, actively avoid social situations, have severely low self-esteem, and don't think that their fears are unreasonable because they truly believe themselves to be unlikable. I haven't been formally diagnosed, but I can almost guarantee that I suffer from this based on the criteria in the DSM-IV-TR (yes, diagnosing yourself is bad). 

So how does someone with social phobia be, well, social? It's difficult, to say the least. I tend to stick with people I know. Making new friends is hard because I can't usually force myself to talk to strangers, but once that barrier is broken, it's a lot easier. Anyway, here are some tips for people who have problems with social anxiety. 
  • Stick with someone you know. Make it clear that you don't feel comfortable around people you don't know well. If you happen to be that friend, do not leave the person alone with the idea that forcing them to talk to strangers will help. All it will do is make them uncomfortable and possibly damage your friendship and trust.
  • If you have a school assignment that requires you to do something in front of the class, ask your teacher if there is any way to do it in private. For example, in my junior year algebra 2 class, we had to come up with a song for the quadratic equation. I actually cried as she gave the assignment. After class, I let her know about my social phobia and she allowed me to perform it for her after everyone left. This is a really situational suggestion, but it's worth a shot.
  • Breathe. This is just common sense. If you start to feel like you can't control your anxiety, take deep breaths. Do whatever it takes to calm yourself down. 
  • Don't avoid the situation. I've gotten a bit better at forcing myself to do things I don't want to do, but I used to be really bad. My junior year, I missed 55 days of school before finally dropping out. Most of those were anxiety related. 
  • Get help. Seek out a therapist who can help you overcome your fear. I haven't tried cognitive behavioral therapy, but I would be more than willing to give it a shot. There are medication options if necessary. Xanax can help in some situations, and some antidepressants have been approved for use with the disorder. See a psychiatrist if you think that medication might work for you.
  • Do things with your closest friends. No one says you have to meet new people to be social. Spend time with people you're comfortable around. There will be opportunities to meet people when you're ready.
  • Try meeting people online. Try a new MMO or a forum for something you love. A recent study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry* has shown that using the internet as a tool to overcome social phobia can be effective.
Social phobia doesn't have to ruin lives. It is merely an obstacle that takes time to overcome. What are your experiences with social anxiety? Comment or email me at with thoughts or suggestions!

Titov, N., Gibson, M., Andrews, G., McEvoy P. (2009). Internet treatment for social phobia reduces comorbidity. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(8), 754-759.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recovering As A Cutter

The following post may be triggering. If the topic of self-injury is offensive, uncomfortable, or triggering for you, please don't continue reading. Thank you.

When I was 13, I started cutting myself. My mom had just moved to Florida, and I was living alone with my dad for the first time. I remember trying to use a kitchen knife and completely failing. I would eventually start using scissors, then blades from pencil sharpeners. I continued cutting on and off for three years. The longest I had gone without cutting was 10 months before I quit for good. Or so I thought.

April 15th was to mark my fourth year since I quit cutting. I celebrated the milestone every year, and while I had urges, none were strong enough to get me to relapse. Then January came around. Depression hit me like a truck. The urges came back stronger than ever. I would grab my scissors and play around with the thought of starting again. Four years was so close. I couldn't do that to myself. February came. I started to bully myself. I told myself I was too weak to do it until finally I had pushed myself past my breaking point. It was a single cut. It didn't even feel that good. There was barely any relief. All I was left with was a scar that represented the four years that should have been. I was numb. I was never a huge believer in slip ups when it came to my own addiction to cutting. I didn't think of that cut as a one time thing. If I was going to throw away four years, I was going to make it count. For two months, I cut myself almost compulsively. I have scars up and down my left arm. Scars on my leg and thigh. I'm two months clean today. I should be proud of myself, but all I can think about is how it should be four years instead.

I've tried to help a lot of people recover from their own addiction to self-injury. Even though I still struggle with my own, there are things I have learned from my experiences. If you or someone you know struggles with self-injury, keep the following in mind:

  • Recovery is a lifelong process. Self-injury is an addiction. You could go years without cutting, but that doesn't mean you're in the clear. I learned this the hard way. Take it one day at a time.
  • Don't let a slip up ruin your recovery. How you count the days is up to you. If you reset back to 0 after a slip up, don't use that as an excuse to cut/burn/etc as much as you can before you quit again. I wish I would have realized this before I ended up with an arm full of scars, some of which might never really go away.
  • Get help. Recovering is so much harder when you keep it to yourself. Seek out a therapist who can help talk you through it and find alternatives for when the urges strike.
  • Find those alternatives. Have a plan to keep you from hurting yourself when you feel like you need to. Writing sometimes helps me when I feel like cutting. Maybe taking a red felt tip pen and drawing "scars" on your skin helps you by simulating a real cut. Do whatever it takes to keep you from injuring yourself.

Recovery is hard, but it's possible. What experiences do you have with self-injury? Thoughts? Leave a comment or email me at

Friday, July 20, 2012

Anxiety Due to Poverty: Disease or Circumstance?

A new study out of Rutgers University has found that poor mothers are more likely to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. According to the study, poverty seems to be the cause of the anxiety, not a problem with the brain. Generalized anxiety disorder can be a debilitating disease. The DSM-IV-TR lists the following as criteria to be diagnosed:

  • 6 months of excessive anxiety and worry about various situations
  • Difficulty controlling the anxiety, e.g., cannot relax or cope 
  • Shows at least 3 of these symptoms most days: restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleeping difficulties
  • Symptoms cannot be described by another mental disorder. For example, if I only get excessively anxious in or at the thought of social situations, that's described by my social phobia/AvPD and I cannot be diagnosed with GAD.
  • The symptoms must impair the person's daily functions or cause significant distress
  • Cannot be due to a medical issue or substance use

Poverty is a source of much stress for those living in it. My mom raised me on $10,000 a year or less. We moved a lot, which was more often than not because of her abusive relationship with my dad, and often had trouble buying food once food stamps ran out. My mom, like me, suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. She also suffers from panic disorder and PTSD among others. Unfortunately mental illness runs in my family, but for others this study may be a bit of good news. Being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder is still taboo. Because the criteria are so broad for disorders such as GAD, people who are just suffering from anxiety due to circumstances they can't control are getting lumped with those who actually suffer from an illness. This needs to be studied further and addressed in order to make sure that these diagnoses are valid.

This topic still needs to be researched further. It's a little bit tricky because obviously some of those people living in poverty do suffer from a mental illness, and their anxiety is not just due to circumstance. This is however an interesting finding in the ever expanding world of psychology. 

If you're interested in reading the original press release from Rutgers, click here.

What do you think are the implications of this study? How do you think this will affect the way that mental health professionals diagnose and treat those who suffer from anxiety? Leave a comment or email me at I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Depressed Friends: What NOT to Say

According to the CDC, 1 in 10 adults in the US report being depressed. There is a good chance that someone you know has suffered from depression at least once. So what do you do when your friend tells you they're depressed? There are many ways that you can support a friend in need. However, there are some things that shouldn't be said nor done, no matter how good your intentions are.

As someone who has suffered from depression, here are a few things that people have said or done which only made things worse:

"Can't you just try to be happy?"
If you could cure depression just by making an effort to be happy, antidepressants wouldn't need to be prescribed. I've lost count of how many times I've had to fake a smile to get friends off my back. It didn't make me feel any better. In fact, I felt worse knowing that I had to pretend to be happy in front of people I thought I could be myself around. Granted, I most likely wasn't depressed when I met them, but that shouldn't keep them from being supportive and understanding during one of the worst times in my life. If you have a friend who is depressed, please do them a favor and don't pressure them to be happier.

"If you really wanted to die, you'd be dead already."
This one is a little more situation specific. Not all people suffering from depression are suicidal, but many of them are. Even if your friend has never talked about or attempted suicide in the past, you should never dismiss any sort of suicidal ideation. Suicide ideation is a term that describes the presence of suicidal thoughts, and sometimes even a formulated plan, but not necessarily an attempted or completed suicide. When my friend was texting me to talk about what I was going through, I admitted to her that I felt like I wanted to die. She then told me, "No you don't. If you wanted to die, you'd be dead already." Short of telling me to do it, there is nothing worse that she could have said. I couldn't trust her anymore. Even her girlfriend was appalled by it. If you know someone who is considering suicide, no matter how serious he or she may be, take it seriously. It could be the difference between life and death.

"You shouldn't take pills. That crap doesn't work."
Regardless of your thoughts on the efficacy of antidepressants, if you know someone who takes them, let it be. I get sick of hearing people complain about how we've become a Prozac nation, completely dependent on medication to make us feel better. I've noticed that these people also tend to think of depression as a made up disorder. Depression is not just a label for being really, really sad. Most antidepressants have one key function in common: they restore balance in the brain. The neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine all impact mood regulation. However, when there isn't enough of one or more of them, it causes a chemical imbalance that can cause depression.

There are different classes of antidepressants. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. There's this little space between neurons called the synapse. Neurotransmitters pass through the synapse to get to the next cell. When they pass through too fast, the brain can't really benefit from them. So SSRIs work to stop the serotonin from passing through too fast, and it results in improved mood. There are also SNRIs, which work on serotonin and norepinephrine. NDRIs, such as Wellbutrin, are also prescribed. They inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. When an SSRI failed me the last time, my psychiatrist put me on Wellbutrin and it worked great. Not all antidepressants are the same. What works depends on the person taking them. So before you decide to tell your friend he doesn't need medication, try to understand how and why they work.

In addition, here are just a few things you shouldn't do if your friend is depressed.

  • Force them to do something or go somewhere they don't want to. Even if you think they need to get out, they need to be willing to do so. Just be there for support when they want or need it.
  • Act like you're the victim in this situation. One of the biggest problems I had when I was at my worst was alienating my friends. I skipped classes I had with them, stayed behind when they went out for dinner, and didn't make any effort to see them. A couple of my friends told me how much it hurt them, and how it wasn't fair for them to have to deal with that. I understand that it sucked, but being made to feel even worse than I did was not good for me.
  • Make yourself unavailable. Your friend may not come to you often or even at all for support, but it's important that they know you're there. Make it clear that you're available during this painful time in their life. Don't try to hide from them in an attempt to avoid dealing with their disorder. You may not understand it, but you should still be supportive. 

What do you wish people wouldn't say or do to people struggling with depression? Leave a comment or email me at I'd love to hear from you!

How to Be Happy: 4 Ways I Combat Depression

I've had my fair share of days where I couldn't get out of bed. I would sleep for as many as 16 hours and still end up taking a nap soon after. I'm sure there were many times when my roommate thought I was dead, and honestly speaking, I felt like I was. When I could get out of bed, it was hard for me to feel anything and I was too unmotivated to try. There are, however, at least four ways I was able to put a smile on my face even if for a little bit.

Hanging out with friends. 
I know this sounds counterintuitive to someone struggling with depression. The last thing I wanted to do when I was depressed was talk to my friends, let alone hang out with them. I alienated them so much that they were actually hurt and upset by it, and I felt awful knowing that I had done that to my friends. I had to force myself to do things with them, whether it was going out to eat or just going across the hall to their dorm room. When I did, though, I had a really good time. They were there for me if I wanted to talk about my problems, and they took my mind off things if I didn't. Whether we played Uno, studied for exams, or sat around and did nothing, I felt a lot better than I did when I was left alone to think about how much my life sucked. Even if the improvement was temporary, it was worth it.

Eating a food I love.
Food and sadness usually shouldn't mix, especially for someone like me who is heavy to begin with, but everyone needs to eat. Why not enjoy something you absolutely love? Familiar foods can be a great way to boost your mood. Whether you crave chocolate cake or delicious pasta (one of my favorites), indulging yourself may be one of the easiest ways to feel better when everything else sucks. If you're having appetite troubles (I barely ate for two weeks once my depression came back), this may be one of the harder things to accomplish. Try getting a small serving if that's all you can manage to eat. Just being able to taste something familiar and delicious will help your mood.

Writing for myself and others.
I love to write. Expressing myself and airing out my problems has helped me during my darkest times. Whether it's a blog post, a poem, or even just a tweet, it never fails to ease the burden and pain of depression for me. It doesn't have to be a public outlet. In fact, just writing for yourself is one of the best things you can do. I have pages upon pages of poems that have never been read. I haven't even read most of them apart from when I wrote them. It doesn't matter if you intend to show anyone; what matters is that you're taking your emotional pain and turning it into something you can understand. So go ahead and vent your frustrations. Write a blog, a poem, or a 160 character message about what's bothering you. Tell your story, even if it's only to yourself. If you do feel like sharing, I'd love to read what you have to say. Please leave a comment or email me at It can be private, or I would be happy to share it on my blog. Just do yourself a favor and let it all out.

Listening to music.
This may be an obvious suggestion, but I think sometimes people underestimate the power of music. Everyone has different music that helps get them through rough times. Some people prefer happy, upbeat music that contrasts their feelings of hopelessness. Others, such as myself, prefer music that reflects how crappy they really feel. Whether you're listening to your favorite band or someone you've never heard before, finding songs that make you feel something in an otherwise bleak situation can be the difference between living with depression and recovering from it. One song that has really helped me as of late is "Porcelain" by Red Hot Chili Peppers from their album Californication. Whether you listen to music for the words or the melodies, do yourself the favor of finding something that helps you feel.

What do you do that helps you combat depression? Leave a comment or send an email. I'd love to hear from you!

Comfort Food: No-Boil Tomato Pasta Bake

A good meal is one of the best ways to combat my depression. My grandma made this recipe a few years ago, and while not everyone was a huge fan, I fell in love with it. Pasta is one of my biggest weaknesses, even moreso since I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in March. This recipe is originally from Martha Stewart and can be found here. The version below is how I usually make it, which has worked out well for me and my best friend. I don't have any pictures of my own, but you can see some on the original post if you want to know how delicious it looks. This isn't a quick dinner, but it's so worth the wait.

No-Boil Tomato Pasta Bake with Parmesan (or any cheese really!)
Serves: roughly 4-6 depending on portion sizes and how hungry you are (I could and have eaten the whole pan)
Prep: 20-25 minutes
Bake: 60 minutes
Total Time: 80-85 minutes (so worth it!)

3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil -- this is on the high end. If you don't like a lot of oil, feel free to cut some out
1 lb (1 box) penne pasta -- feel free to substitute with a similar pasta such as rigatoni, mostaccioli, ziti, etc.
Two (2) 28 oz. cans of crushed whole tomatoes 
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese -- original recipe calls for freshly grated parmesan, but I use the stuff from the bag. 5 or 6 Italian cheese blend works great. It melts so well and tastes amazing.

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Empty the box of pasta into a decent size bowl and add the oil. Stir it up until all the pasta has been well coated. I usually use my hands for this, and it can get pretty messy which on its own is kinda fun. Let this stand for 20 minutes.
2. After the 20 minutes has passed, empty the bowl of oily pasta into a baking or casserole dish. I usually just use a 13x9 pan. If you want, spray the pan with Pam or another no-stick spray (olive oil flavored works great here) before putting the pasta in. 
3. Empty both 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes into the pan with the pasta. Stir it in so that it's evenly mixed up. Add the salt and the pepper as well. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. If you're using store brand foil, you might want to double up. Also, this is not optional! If you cook without foil, it will not cook properly and you'll end up with some crunchy pasta.
4. The original recipe says to stir every 5 minutes, but I've never done this. You'll want to stir it at least once after 30 minutes or twice after 20 and 40 minutes. You can go the whole 60 minutes without stirring, but there might end up being a few crunchy bits. You can really decide when and how much to stir, so just use this step as a general guideline.
5. After an hour in the oven, this delicious dish is nearly ready to devour. Take it out and remove the foil. Try not to faint from how good it smells. Add the cheese (as much as you want) and stir it in. It should melt fast. If you're not into super cheesy pasta, feel free to just use some grated parmesan (or none at all!) Serve immediately and make sure to refrigerate your leftovers, if there are any. This is a dish that tastes just as good if not better the next day. Bon appetit!

Alternate Version 1: Turn this into a truly baked pasta dish by adding the cheese to the top before it's done baking, after about 40-50 minutes of cooking depending on how baked you want it.
Alternate Version 2: This is a tip from my best friend. Adding meat such as ground beef or sausage to this dish can make it even more amazing. If you're a meat lover, this would be a great addition.

This dish has been one of my favorites since I first tried it. If you liked it or have any suggestions, let me know! I'll try to add pictures as soon as I make it again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hello, World

When I was 17, I was diagnosed with depression, generalized anxiety, social phobia, and panic disorder with agoraphobia. Simply put, I'm sad, shy, and scared most of the time. It was so bad that I dropped out of high school. I grew up loving to learn and having dreams of going to Ivy League schools. If you had asked someone close to me if I would ever drop out, the answer would have been a resounding "no." Yet here I was, a high school drop out at 17 having bimonthly visits to a psychiatrist and weekly appointments with a counselor. I thought my life was over.

Fast forward a couple years. I had gotten my GED and enrolled in the local college with a part-time job. I got straight As and was accepted into one of the best universities in the state. Everything seemed to be working out for me. My first semester at the university earned me a 3.83 GPA. I had made a couple good friends, and I was part of an amazing student organization that had given me opportunities to travel and be part of something bigger. A couple panic attacks had scarred me along the way, but I pressed on.

It didn't last. Following winter break, I came back to school with a different attitude altogether. I started giving up easily. I didn't care about myself, my grades, or anyone around me. I slept all day and stayed awake all night, trying to myself to attend class but usually failing to get out of bed. Depression sank back in. My addiction to self-injury returned after nearly four years of abstinence. I was forced back into therapy and medication. After spring break, I seriously considered killing myself. I ended up taking a very expensive trip to the hospital and realized I couldn't press on anymore. Within a week, I had withdrawn for the semester and would eventually decide to take a break for at least a year.

My decision to focus on myself had its consequences. I now owe over $3,000 between hospital bills and financial aid charges. Leaving the school meant losing access to my insurance and medication. I can't return to school or transfer to a new one because the university is holding my education hostage until I pay them. Yet I can't let any of that get in the way of making plans for a better life. I want to get a job, save money, buy a car and move out of state. I want to start a new life for myself instead of giving up. I've gone through a lot during my life, but I've realized something along the way. It's not always raining. Just because the weather sucks now doesn't mean it's always going to suck. Depression doesn't always affect me the same way if at all, and I think that's true for most people. I'm happier now than I have been, but still not as happy as I could be. That's what this blog is about. I want to use experience, both mine and others', to give people hope. I want to share things that have lifted my mood in hopes that it'll help someone else.

If you have something you'd like to share, email me at If you just want to tell your story but don't want it to be put on the blog, feel free to email me anyway (just make sure to say it's private!)

"In the midst of winter, I found there was, 
within me, an invincible summer."
- Albert Camus