the point.

i’ll never understand
why the loud makes me want to cry
why labels in grocery stores make me nervous
why I feel alone in crowded rooms or
why my bed feels safer even on perfect days

i could tell you theories
simple guesses about predisposition or childhood
hypotheses I’ve come up with entirely on my own
on quiet nights when the stars smother me and
no one is around to reassure me that I can breathe

i could blame my parents for fighting when i was small
my mom’s mom for choosing alcohol over her or
my dad’s parents for arguing in front of him
i could blame my grandmother’s mother for using
violence rather than love or my grandfather’s dad for
deeming him unworthy or his parents for focusing on war

i could blame the boy at the lake house who went too far
the person who taught him it’s okay to go too far
the person who taught the person before that and
whatever son of a bitch set it all in motion

when I exhaust the long list of people, I could blame
the stars in the sky for making me wonder why i exist
blame the universe crafting this raging ball of chaos
blame God for being as forged as Santa on a sled
blame people who believe in miracles when in reality
some people get lucky and some people don’t

but then I’d be missing the point
which is, there is none
no rhyme or reason or person to blame
no clear cut ‘he did that’ and ‘she did this’
there’s only a planet with people doing the best they can
people being shit on by pigeons and stomping on ants
with no motive other than we are small, so very small

maybe I’ll never know about the loud noises and
why I feel so lonely; maybe it doesn’t matter
one day, a girl might blame me for the things
I did to her, or to her mother, or to her grandmother.
I hope if she does, she stops to realize that I love her even if
I hurt her, and I’m thinking about her in these moments
so far before she even exists, which has to mean something

so maybe people, with their flaws, just don’t know
anything other than crazy, fearful love;
having been pushed out into the world,
told to do the best with what they have
without much to go by. we all seek answers
only to come back empty handed, for there are none

but I’ll tell you this:
I’ve never met a human void completely of hope
I’ve never met one that didn’t love someone or
something, even if it is whiskey or cigarettes.
regardless of what makes us tick,
we all work towards better things;
even with restless souls and twisted minds,
we know hope and love and maybe that’s the point

Even on Your Shittiest Days, You Don’t Need the Training Wheels

I’ll let you in on a little secret- the past few days I’ve just been… well, miserable. It’s just been one of those weeks where everything seems a little off. I’ve been so busy I feel like I haven’t had a moment to stop or breathe or organize.

It seems I haven’t organized at all because I’ve overbooked myself two weekends in a row, leading me to let down people I made plans with. Saturday I overcompensated for my stress by drinking a little bit too much, which lead me to start Sunday with the shittiest of hangovers. Sunday night I realized I definitely understudied for my upcoming A&P exam and panicked. Yesterday, I got a speeding ticket, developed a cold, took the test that was harder than I could have imagined. By the time I got home I just wanted to head to my bedroom and lock the world out.

Do you have days like this? Days when you just feel shitty and everything seems to go wrong?

I know this is all very whiny, but I’m getting somewhere with this.

When I have these off days, I get really scared. No, I’m not scared about how I will afford my speeding ticket or if I will pass my test… I’m scared of the darkness creeping back in.

The thing about recovering from depression or an ED is that you know you can go back and not even realize it’s happening. In the past, I’ve just woken up one day and realized I was in the thickest, darkest place I’ve ever been in and had no idea how I got there.

Now that I’m in a better place, I’m hypersensitive to my surroundings. I look for every possible trigger and try to avoid it. However, sometimes life happens and you just can’t avoid it. Sometimes you get sick and you can’t bring yourself to run three miles. Sometimes you go too fast and get pulled over.

I wish I could put into words the anxiety I feel because I know that I need to rest because I have a cold, but my irrational thoughts are telling me if I don’t go for a run I’ll gain all this weight. It would be great if I could accurately describe how it feels to get a speeding ticket, cry about it, and then wonder if your crying is an indication of your depression.

When it comes down to it, I guess normal doesn’t feel so normal to me. It feels scary. Almost like the first time you ride your bike with the training wheels off and you don’t fall – you see your dad getting smaller and smaller in the distance and you get a little scared. Although you can do it on your own now and make it, it would still be nice to have that security net just in case.

I’ve been working really hard on staying out of relationships, simply because I need to learn to do this thing on my own. I hate it. It’s scary. When I have a rough week, trust me when I say that I wish there was someone I could call up to say, “Hey, this fucking sucks, come cuddle with me.”

Then I realize that this is the exact reason I can’t be in a relationship – the relationship would be my training wheels. Of course it’s nice to have a shoulder to cry on when the world gets overwhelming, but I think there’s something to be said about the people who figure it out on their own.

No, I couldn’t go home and cuddle with anyone, but I did go home to my parents. I wanted nothing to do with them because although I could whine to them about my bad day, I kept telling myself it’s not the same.

A weird thing happened, though: my dad made me laugh. I was aggravated because I wanted to throw myself the “I’m single and my life sucks” pity party and here he was making me laugh. Instead, I went in my room, lay down in my bed, and thought about how great my life really was regardless of the past few shitty days. I went out to the living room, gave my dad a hug, went back to bed and thanked God for the crappy few days I just had. Because crappy days are better than depressed days and figuring it out on my own is better than having a guy figure it out for me. I think that’s a good enough reason to feel blessed.

–M

Nursing and the Art of Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable

A few years ago, someone close to me became very sick. I won’t go into the details of it, but I will say that it made a huge impact on my life. Those few weeks were terrifying and filled with breakdowns in the hallway of cold hospitals and the feeling of utter disbelief that someone’s body could attack itself the way it did.

I bring this up is because it affected me; it mattered. While I stood in the hospital and saw the people around me in so much pain, I also noticed the kindness and hard work of the nurses. The family came to get to know them pretty well. During their long hours they kept smiling and they were there at the blink of an eye if they were needed.

I was amazed not only by the nurses, but by the doctors in the ICU. I was amazed by the technology, the quick decisions that needed to be made immediately to save this person’s life, and when her life was saved, I was amazed by that as well. In short, this tragic incident opened my eyes to something I never experienced before.

So, now, two years later and countless hours of consideration later, I find myself taking the steps necessary to get into a nursing program.

This decision has been huge for me for so many reasons—I think the biggest reason is because for so long I have had zero confidence in my ability to do anything worthwhile.

I’ve always known that writing was a skill of mine, but with that, my ability to excel in math and science has been doubted time and time again. I made fun of myself for doing poorly and ‘hating’ these subjects. Eventually the jokes became reality — this behavior led to me selling myself short.

When I finished my dual-undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Public Relations, I was happy, but in the back of my mind I felt like I wasted time. I watched as my friends worked towards their graduate degrees and found myself becoming increasingly jealous. Why were they able to land jobs and finish degrees that hold so much importance in the world while my job consisted of posting to social media?

While this may be an enjoyable job for some people—and, admittedly, it can be a fun, stress-free, and social job at points—I just continued to get this sinking feeling that I had more potential. Because I was both incredibly happy for my friends while being jealous, I finally tuned into the feelings I had about my friends’ careers and realized the reason behind them; I did not feel good about my career choice. I was not proud of it and I did not feel fulfilled. I felt like I could have done better.

When this first became a goal of mine, I would toy with it and bring it up occasionally to others. No one took me seriously which angered me and in turn lead me to not take myself seriously. Actually, I don’t know if it was that no one took me seriously or I just perceived it that way due to my own insecurities.  I spent so much time building this image of myself as a writer and an artist – how could I trade that part of me in? Did I really want to abandon the arts for the sciences? Isn’t this an age-old dilemma?

Yes, yes, and yes. Well, I should say, kind of. It took me a while to realize that I was not trading in any particular part of me, I was simply just growing as a person and learning a new skill. The decision to go into nursing had no bearing on the spiritual side of me other than expanding it.

My main goal this year has been becoming more in tune with my own thoughts and perceptions of the world, rather than everyone else’s. It’s been difficult. However, I finally tuned in enough to realize that I’ve been thinking about this path for myself for two years now. If I did not take the plunge now, when would I? Would it be worth it to continue down a career path that I did not love and did not fulfill me just so I could feel comfortable in my own skin?

I decided it isn’t worth it. Comfort is our biggest enemy in life. The best advice I have ever received is to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s hard. I am so uncomfortable right now and I am so scared. There is this chance I could fail and not get into nursing. I could get in and have a hard time with it. I could change my mind. All these things are possible, and yet, if I don’t give it a shot I have nothing. Fear of failure has kept me from so many things in life and I realize now that it’s time to put an end to that.

Science might take me a little longer to understand than I would like and my anxiety may work against me during my time in school – but I understand now that I’m not the only one with these fears and misconceptions. I think the difference between my behaviors and others are they keep going regardless of the fear, while I have let it paralyze me. In short, no one has a clue what they are doing; some just hide it better.

I realize now that I’ve been given the opportunity to do this thing again. I’m fortunate in this aspect. It’s nice to look around and realize that there is not one thing another person has that I don’t. My brain and my work ethic are just as capable as anyone else’s, but others have committed to a set path while I have had trouble with that. For so long I felt directionless, not knowing what I really wanted to do with my life. This made me angry – what was wrong with me? I’ve come to find that since I’ve worked on my self-esteem and own self-image, it’s been falling into place. I couldn’t make a choice before now because I wasn’t emotionally able to. I didn’t believe in myself enough.

But here I am — wish me luck!

Facebook and the Happiness Dilemma

If there is one idea that I wish I could wipe clear from people’s minds, it would be this idealized obsession with “happiness.” We blog about it, we read articles about achieving it, and we create Facebook profiles that mirror the “happy” sides of ourselves; leaving people with an image that just shouts “I’m happy!”

After recently reading an article by the New York Times that explores the idea that social media allows us to have a tiny bit of “fame” in our lives, I started to think more and more about what this meant. It’s no secret that Facebook has become a playground of bragging children who impulsively post about their latest accomplishment or gloat about how well their relationship appears to be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of these children.

While the baby boomers will be quick to point a figure at the millennials and call us out for being the “me” generation, I disagree. I see this type of behavior across all age groups.

In a conversation with a close friend, we were discussing the definition of success. We looked at how people our age are dying to be successful and while most of the people we know are successful, no one really feels like they are, which leads to depression and anxiety among our peers. Why is this? What’s going on?

The thing is, when we do something exciting, we post it on Facebook – whether it’s running a marathon or just going out to eat with friends. Recently, I was so ecstatic from passing my nursing exam that I immediately wanted to share with the world the good news. I’d be lying if I told you I don’t know exactly how many people liked that status, because I do.

So, when my friend and I were discussing the obsession people have with sharing good news on Facebook, I had to share that I understood why people do it. It feels good to have good news that you can share with people. We were raised to believe that bragging is rude, but finally we have an outlet where bragging is not only the norm, but is readily accepted. Instead of people coming straight out and saying, “Hey, I’m awesome. I did it. I got engaged. My search is over. Phew.” with their noses in the air, they can now passively post a picture of their ring and their “best friend” and it all becomes very heartwarming.

On a smaller scale, the best thing that ever happened to Dunkin’ Donuts is the emotion I get when someone Instagrams a photo of a pumpkin coffee and I think to myself, “Man, this average day would be so much better with a pumpkin coffee.” It’s ridiculous!

It all becomes very… happy.

Which brings me back to my first point; our society is obsessed with the idea of happiness. Most people create a goal of happiness for their lives and they take steps to achieve that goal. One person might work at their relationship, knowing that if it ends in marriage, they’ll be happy. Another might work longer hours for a promotion, knowing when they get it, they’ll then be happy.

They will be happy – but what seems to be overlooked is the fact that this is fleeting. They’ll be happy for a while and then they’ll move on to the next thing that they believe will make them happy.

I want to argue that happiness needs to be more flexible, more fluid; maybe happiness can be a spectrum. That way, people do not have to feel so defeated when they get the thing they want and they still are not living their life in infinite bliss. Here’s a quick secret: there is no infinite bliss.

Life sucks sometimes and most days are mundane and boring and filled with humans doing tasks that do not make them very happy. Here’s another secret: This is okay.

If you feel shitty one day and look at your Facebook feed filled with engagements and vacation photos and people bragging about passing tests, please take it at face value. These shiny, happy people have marketed themselves to appear that way. Everyone wants to post the selfie of them and their significant other at a fancy restaurant in France, but no one likes to disclose the details; they fought all the way to the airport, nearly missed their flight, their hotel reservation was lost, and they wanted to go to a nicer restaurant that was filled with reservations.  Let’s be honest, too: no one wants to read that shit either.

Nope, the couple just wants you to know that they are at a restaurant, together, and they are happy.

This constant image of happiness being shoved in our faces can be difficult. For example, when I was depressed not too long ago, I deleted my Facebook page for a while. I just did not want to see the shiny happy people, and I certainly couldn’t force myself to pretend I was happy.

I think the biggest problem this creates is that we lose the ability to reach out to others when we aren’t so happy. It’s a big secret we don’t want people to know.

If I were to fail my nursing exam, not only would I be letting myself down, but I’d be letting down the 67 people who liked my mom’s status that wished me good luck. In short, people would know I failed. It’s a little taste of 2007 Britney Spears and her meltdown.

We all want to appear strong and we want to appear like we have our shit together. We don’t want people to know that we had a meltdown about the scary idea of getting into or not getting into nursing school. We want people to know about how much fun we have on a Saturday night, but we don’t want people to know that we rely on drugs and alcohol to deal with our problems. We want people to know we ran the race, but we don’t want people to know that the reason we started running is because our heart was completely broken and we had nothing else to do with our time but run.

My final takeaway: Facebook away. Share your accomplishments and rejoice on your good days. But don’t look at other people’s pages and think that they never cry in their beds by themselves. Don’t think that the blissfully engaged couple never fights. Don’t think that the person who posted pictures of their ultrasound isn’t desperately anxious about whether they will be a great mother or not.

We choose what we want to share with the world, so we choose the good. It’s important to know that when your life seems a little less than good, you didn’t fail at your goal of happiness. It means you had a rough day or week or month or year. It doesn’t mean you aren’t happy or can’t be happy. It means life is just life.