An open letter to my readers…

Dxuw4T9neWmVAEDDwRawan_lmA0f384rrvuQ-QUrhS1j6oFFQA4BuzTanDo0ByS89w-L8CeHOmhCuLVJLLu1gqCThXe4hmT7nP5GiOG-LHAde6aEkrWwxBWCNDyaTdItZ4VWXi7QoK8cZASykA=s0-d-e1-ftHi friends!!

It’s been a while.

So- it turns out, this blog is one of the best, and worst things that I’ve ever done.

Lets start with the good stuff. Its been amazing, simply because I have gotten to share my message with so many people who have suffered like I have. The amount of people I’ve connected with over these subjects is truly amazing & I’m so thankful to have so much support!

But to be honest, it kind of put me in a shitty place for a second there. Writing constantly about my depression and anxiety and all of my struggles caused me to lose sight of who I am.

I am not my anxiety.

I am not my story.

I am not my circumstances.

I AM SO MUCH MORE.

I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a girlfriend. I love animals! Especially dogs. I could eat chicken wings for every meal, and am known to enjoy a glass of wine here or there! I’m one of the most open-hearted people you will ever meet, and I will bend over backwards for all of the people I love. And lastly- I may or may not have a few guilty pleasures such as The Bachelor and Justin Bieber.

I AM HUMAN.

Just like you.

We’re all only human.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of the things that are wrong with you, or wrong with your life, but at the end of the day, we are all just human. We are trying to find our way in a world that’s not always kind to us.

It’s very easy to focus on the struggles- I did it for a long time. Until I didn’t.

The moment I decided to open my heart and let love in, my focus changed. I was able to start re-writing my story, and I will say, it’s going pretty damn well so far.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Lots of love & light,

Kate

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday rant..

 

The Bachelor is my guilty pleasure. Before you judge me, try watching an episode. It’s a great way to take your mind off of your crappy Monday at work! Anyways…

A few episodes ago, one of the girls put on a hideously embarrassing performance on stage at a talent show. I mean, it was really embarrassing. Anyways, after she was done, she proceeded to have a “panic attack,” aka was dramatically crying and putting on a show with her “tears” and “I can’t breathes.” Now, who knows, it could have been a real panic attack, but in my humble opinion, it was for show, and her, like many others, were throwing the term “panic attack,” around like its nothing.

This pisses me off. Because its not nothing, its something. Something very real. Something that effects peoples lives on a daily basis.

Panic attacks are not the feeling you get when you’re crying because you did something wrong and can’t catch your breath. Panic attacks are truly debilitating, painful and horrifying. They are feelings you cannot control. And most of the time, they occur for no reason.

While were on the subject of all the things anxiety isn’t…

ANXIETY IS NOT TRENDY.

All of a sudden every 20-something girl has anxiety and loves to talk about it. Yes, everyone gets nervous, has periods of anxiety, etc. but the girls I have heard this from in no way shape or form suffer from an anxiety disorder. There is a true difference between having a disorder, and having a stressful life.

So please, next time you go to say something along the lines of, “I couldn’t find my mascara this morning, I was having a panic attack,” or “ugh, hearing her talk literally gives me anxiety,” just don’t do it. You never know who’s around you, or who you will offend. You would never say something as ignorant about a physical disease such as cancer or lupus, so don’t do it about a mental illness either.

 

 

Rant over.

Attention: High School Girls 

High School.

Let’s be honest, it’s a shitty time for everyone. The ever-changing friendships, relationships, and hormones are enough to drive anyone towards insanity.

For me, high school was where everything peaked. The anxiety, panic, agoraphobia and depression.

Sitting through classes were the worst. I’ll never forget holding onto the bottom of my desk because the feeling of being on the verge of fainting was so real. My hands would sweat. I would visibly shake. [I don’t know how my teachers didn’t notice, but I guess I was just a great actress by then.] I wanted to sit by the door or windows at all times (being able to “escape” if the panic got unbearable) and if I had an assigned seat in the middle of the room, I’d be going to the bathroom to collect myself and catch my breath every 6 minutes. If that wasn’t bad enough, the hallways were a nightmare. So crowded. So loud. I hated when people tried to talk to me in the halls, but as always, I would do everything possible to put on an “I’m fine” front, and get through it.

By sophomore year, I became a frequent (like very frequent) visitor of the nurse’s office. I would lay down in the back room. Give my brain some time to rest.

I couldn’t be in the lunch room either, so would eat my lunch alone in the computer lab, or I had a friend who would eat with me sometimes. I don’t think I ever told her why I couldn’t be in the cafeteria. I felt so unbelievable anxious in that room. The bright lights, the noise. It still gives me a stomachache when I think of it.

Through all this time, I was seeing a therapist, and my parents were doing everything possible to help me. I often caught my mom crying. I knew what a profound effect this was having on her, and that broke my heart even more.

As I’m sure you can imagine, my grades were less than stellar throughout this time. I quit the cheerleading team, because I couldn’t handle the games. I got Lyme disease, so dealt with constantly feeling like I had the flu, on top of all of this. THEN, I lost two of the people who meant the most to me- my grandma and my Uncle Jimmy, in a 2 month span. I became so absolutely depressed, constantly feeling like I was a victim of my mind, and not able to control any part of what was going on around me.

After 2 years of this, in March of my sophomore year, the nurse, my parents, and the school social worker decided enough was enough and I went to treatment. Thank god.


 

Now that’s the backstory, I guess what people didn’t know. During this time, when I was absolutely miserable, I was being tormented by a group of girls at school. Tormented, I know that word sounds so dramatic, but bullied doesn’t seem quite enough to explain what was going on. I guess they saw me as someone who was popular and just another “typical girl” involved in their drama, but I wasn’t. Every single day I was struggling to keep myself alive. To keep myself above water and just keep a tiny bit of hope.

I’ll never forget the things they did.

I remember at a pep rally, they wrote things about me on the shirts they made.

I remember one of them throwing water balloons at me in the parking lot.

I remember, after they found out I was in treatment, they would yell “go back to Saint Francis” at me in the halls and lunch room.

I remember they started rumors that I was pregnant and got an abortion when I was in fact, going through treatment. As if an abortion caused someone to be out of school for 4 months.

I remember them calling my cell phone and screaming at me, and me crying the entire time. (And then my mom came upstairs and took the phone from me and one of them proceeding to call her a “fat bitch,” which surely she did NOT deserve.)

I remember them egging my house. A few times.

I remember them writing things about me on MySpace, and their AOL Instant Messenger away messages.

I remember having to sit in the principal’s office and listen to them yell, and laugh, and make fun for what seemed like hours. I remember gripping the hand of my one friend who was in the room with me. The two of us, against a group of kids cycling in and out of the tiny office, each getting a chance to “say their piece” to us. The worst thing about it is- we truly DID NOT do what they thought we did. It was all rumors, and hearsay. That will forever be one of the most mind blowing and horrible things that happened during that time. How in the HELL the school officials though that was appropriate, is beyond me. Taking us out of class for almost 4 periods and allowing us to be ridiculed by our classmates, as if we were in a police interrogation. We were kids, 14 F-ing years old. I’ll never understand.

Was I completely innocent? Probably not. I’m sure I said some things at some point that I shouldn’t have. But I also know that I’m a kind person. I didn’t deserve that, and neither does anyone else. That went so far passed the normal high school drama. That’s the kind of things that make kids choose suicide.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t hold on to anger. I do. Every time I think about it, my blood boils. But this isn’t about them. This isn’t about me. This is about the current and future high schoolers. And to them I say..

Be kind to each other. PLEASE. I’m not saying everyone has to be best friends with everyone, but remember that the people you’re talking to/about have real feelings and fragile hearts. It doesn’t matter how the person appears from the outside.  REMEMBER- RUMORS are called rumors because there is no solid evidence to prove they are true. Unless you see it or hear it with your own eyes/ears- do not believe it. The things you say, cannot be unsaid. Words stick with people. 11 years later and it still stings for me. Yes, I’m a very sensitive person, but there are manyyyyyy people just like me. I know it’s high school, you’re young and get wrapped up in it all. But you never know what people are going through underneath. Some of us are great actors. I can’t believe that anyone would want to be the reason behind someone choosing to end their life. I know it seems far-fetched, or something that wouldn’t happen in your tiny town, but it very well could. It could have happened to me.

If I didn’t have my support system, I truly believe it would have pushed me over the edge. I am so thankful for my family and the true friends I had through this time- especially my life long best friend Kayla. I love you more than you’ll ever know, no matter where life takes us.

Anxiety is..

not being able to quiet your mind.

  • Feeling like you can’t “shut your brain off.” Being taken over by “racing thoughts.”

 

using anything as a form of distraction from your thoughts.

  • Staring at your phone. Blaring music in your headphones. Focusing on your breath.

 

overanalyzing every decision you make.

  • Asking everyone you know what the right choice is, because you don’t trust your mind.

 

overanalyzing every relationship, with every person.

  • Do they actually love you? Are they actually going to do what they say they will? Is this friendship one sided? Does your friend talk about you behind your back?

 

panicking for “no reason.”

  • Suddenly feeling so nervous that you’re literally SICK- and there’s no “valid reason” for it.

 

avoiding places where you’ve felt anxious in the past.

  • Had a panic attack at that restaurant- never going back. Last time you were at a concert, you were so anxious, so can’t go again.

 

being impulsive. and compulsive.

  • Can’t control your thoughts, and can’t make decisions, so let’s just go with the “first” choice and hope for the best!

 

constantly battling the “fight or flight” feelings.

  • Should you stay in the situation that’s making you anxious? Should you push through it? Or should you flee?

 

being aware of every sensation your body feels. and convincing yourself something is wrong, all the time.

  • Pain in your head- must be a brain tumor. Stomach ache, clearly you have an intestinal blockage.

 

always feeling pessimistic.

  • Nothing’s ever going to go right. You’re going to have a panic attack if you go to that place- so you should just stay home.

 

having unbalanced brain chemistry.

  • Taking cocktails of medications to calm the anxiety and balance things out.

 

feeling “unsure” about almost everything.

  • Constantly feeling confused. Questioning everything. Not knowing which way is up.

 

being hypersensitive.

  • Becoming angry and upset at the drop of a hat, over the smallest things.

 

needing constant reassurance.

  • Hoping and praying someone will tell you that everything is going to be okay.

 

a constant struggle.

  • A battle some people will deal with everyday.

 

curable. 

  • Never stop fighting. XO

 

 

 

it’s not you, it’s them. 

“You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.”

-Dita Von Teese

 

This has always been one of my favorite quotes when it comes to dealing with “not-so-nice” people. It reminds me that, no matter how much I try, no matter how sweet or loving I may be, there is still going to be someone who has a problem with who I am or what I’m doing.

Unfortunately, I have always been someone who has cared A LOT about what people think of me, even the not-so-nice ones that I described above. In the past, I would do everything possible to change people’s views of me, or make apologies for things I didn’t need to. As an anxious person, I’m predisposed to overthinking, and being hypersensitive. Its just the way I was made. Every little thing that someone says (or doesn’t say) goes through my mind WAY too many times before I can let it go.

With the holidays coming up, and many forced interactions with family and friends, I thought it would be a great time to give some advice on handling “tough people,” especially when you have a mental illness.

  1. Although its all still a work in progress for me, I have made strides by remembering this one piece of information; usually- the problem is THEIR OWN, not mine. Unless I have truly done something wrong, which I am always the first to admit, I know that there is something inside this person which bothers them, and they project that onto me.
  2. Its easy to get swept up in the negative. But you have to make a conscious effort not to, just as I do. Focus on all of the good that comes from the holidays, and all of the people you get to see who are supportive, loving and make you feel good about yourself. That will help make the tough people and their opinions just a little less important. 
  3. Have a plan. If there’s something you’re worried about someone bringing up, think ahead for something you can say to deflect the question. For example- if someone brings up my depression, I could say “yeah it’s tough, but I’m feeling great right now! I’m going to go grab some more wine- would you like any?” That was kind of a joke, but you get what I mean! 
  4. Practice self love. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s easy to feel down on yourself because of others, and for me, it helps to remind myself of all my good qualities, and how much love I bring into the world! 

Personally, I’ve been blessed with an amazing family, but I still do have to deal with people that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking to. That’s just life.  For example- since writing my blog, I now have another layer of questions to answer, and another layer of comments that I need to deal with. I know it’s been challenging for some people to read and understand, and this just shows my view is not the same as theirs.

Listen, it’s not always easy-BUT, when I’m having a hard time dealing with it, I remember- these people just don’t like peaches. Its not me. It’s them. All I can do is pray, and hope to educate them to be a little less judgmental, and a little more kind. XO 

 

the toughest topic.

 

my new semicolon tattoo

 

The semicolon, in writing, is used when the author could choose to end the sentence, but they don’t. The semicolon, in “the world of mental illness”, is a symbol of support, love, and hope for those suffering from mental illness, addiction, suicide and self-injury.

I am proud to wear the semicolon on my wrist for the rest of my life.

___________________________
I didn’t want to talk about suicide.

It was the only topic I really had no interest in covering in my blog, for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it is such a sensitive one, and people are so full of opinions when discussing it.

But I’ve decided- the toughest topics are usually the ones that need to be talked about the most.

I want to start by giving some facts (according to S.A.V.E.):

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
  • Every day, approximately 105 people in America die at their own hands.
  • Depression that is untreated, incorrectly treated, or misdiagnosed is the leading cause of suicide.

As someone who advocates for mental health- and someone who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, those statistics really disturb me. Every single day over 100 people decide that their life is not worth living. And I will bet that the majority, if not all, of them are suffering from some kind of mental illness.

I know I said I didn’t want to talk about opinions but now I’m going to give mine….

My opinion is- we cannot have opinions. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge suicide.

Unless you’ve been there (which if you’re reading this, you’re still here with us- so you haven’t) how can you judge?

My answer to the above question is this- you can not, and you should not. 

Yes, you can have feelings about the topic, yes, you can wish and pray that things would be different (like I do) but you can not possibly form a valid opinion or judgment about the person’s intentions when you just don’t have the experience to support it.

Out of all of the talks I’ve had, one of the most common phrases I hear when suicide is discussed is, “that is so selfish.” Those words make me cringe. I almost want to crawl out of my skin. Not because I am angry at the person for saying it, but because I know that means they’re uneducated about mental illness, as so many are. I don’t feel anger toward them because its not their fault. Its society’s fault. It’s America’s fault.

Suicide is absolutely heartbreaking.

It is heartbreaking for the people who are left behind, the ones who love the person who didn’t love themselves. They will forever be left with guilt, questions and a huge hole in their hearts.

It’s equally as heartbreaking for the person who passed. Even though they are no longer suffering. I’ll be honest, I have had some very low points where I’ve felt hopeless- but I can’t begin to comprehend the amount of pain and suffering someone must be going through to decide the only way out is to end their life. To leave your family and friends, to be struggling so deeply, is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

The truth of the matter is, from speaking with people who have attempted suicide and failed- most of them did it because they truly believed life would be better without them. They thought they were a burden. They believed they were going to save their family and friends from pain and suffering at their expense.

Sadly, so many people who have so much love and support around them, still become victim to suicide. Even the lucky people are still plagued by the view society has on mental illness. It does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you come from, who your family is, or what you look like- it’s a disease, and like a physical disease, we do not choose it, and we often cannot control it.

I can’t help but think that if, as a nation, we were just a little bit more open, a little more supportive, and a little less judgmental about mental illness- there would be many less suicides.

We can change it. But in order to change it, we have to talk about it. We have to listen. We have to do it for the people who have already become victim to their illness. I am standing up, and I hope others will follow.

 

To learn more about The Semicolon Project, visit projectsemicolon.org!

 

a thank you to YOU…

In the spirit of thanksgiving, I want to give a big thank you to all of you who have supported my blog. It means more to me than any of you will ever know. It has really shown me who the truest people are in my life, and I’m so grateful for each and every one of you.  It wasn’t easy to bare my soul to “the world,” but I have never been more sure that I made the right choice. The amount of people who have reached out to me, baring their souls, has been worth more than anything I could have ever recieved through this journey. I am so glad that I have been able to help people, even in this small way. I love you all!!!!!!!!