“Hey you, keep living. It won’t always be this overwhelming.”
— Jacqueline Whitney
“Hey you, keep living. It won’t always be this overwhelming.”
— Jacqueline Whitney
It’s a few weeks into my senior year and senioritis has already set in, which bodes well. It has hit in a lot of different ways, some educational and others personal. With each passing day, I feel it a little bit more. My anxiety has grown stronger as the senioritis sets in, and I’m working to find ways to calm myself down. It’s a new stage of life which always brings along challenges that I have to face. As my therapist has reminded me and I try and remind myself, I’ve gotten through life so far, so there’s no reason to doubt I’ll get through this time as well.
I always heard people talk about senioritis in my classes, but didn’t fully understand what they were talking about or thought they were exaggerating. Now being a senior myself, I see that they were not. In terms of strictly education effects, I feel far less motivated to do my work than I have in the past. From day one, it has been a struggle to make myself sit down and focus on getting an assignment done. At this point in my school career, I have written more papers and done more presentations than I can count. I feel burnt out. This is a weird feeling for me because I have always been a student who tries hard and been a straight-A student. The ambivalence that I have toward school is a new feeling. I still want an A, but I feel no desire to do the work that would get me there. My roommates and friends are feeling the same way and therefore there is not a lot of motivation happening. It’s more just complaining. I’m trying to switch my mindset to being more positive, but it’s difficult. I want to enjoy my last year of college, even my classes. I don’t want to look back and regret not doing my best work just because I was tired. It’s a daily struggle and one that I hope to overcome in the days to some.
My senior year has also given me senioritis personally. This is my last year of college before I enter the real world. Just writing that sentence stresses me out a little bit. Even though it is only first semester, I can still see the finish line up ahead and it isn’t far off. I got an email about applying for graduation the other day. That’s insane. College has gone by so quickly and I don’t think this year will be any different. That scares me a little because it means I have to think about my future. I’m taking a Business and Professional Communication course this semester (sounds super interesting right?) and it is all about applying for jobs and getting ready for interviews and finding a career. It makes everything seem even closer. I am not a person who does well with uncertainty. Most of my anxiety comes from dealing with the unknown and not having stability. Those are the two biggest things you struggle with as a senior. I have no idea what job I’m going to have. Plans I thought were semi-stable with friends have started to shift and suddenly the ground beneath my feet is starting to move. I’m trying to picture what my life will look like, and I can’t and that doesn’t feel great. I’m really working with my therapist to talk through all of this and remind myself of the things that I can see and feel in the moment. I live in the future and play scenarios over and over in my head until I can’t see what’s happening right in front of me.
That’s the other part of senioritis. Trying not to miss out on moments. There’s a lot going on. All of my friends have school and jobs and internships. But I don’t want to look back on my last year of college and only see those things. I want to see concerts and eating ice cream and driving with the windows down. Trying to balance everything is difficult. Trying not to live in the future what-ifs and actually experience what’s happening now is difficult. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Often senioritis, and in turn, my anxiety feels like a looming presence unable to be shaken. As cliche as it sounds, it can feel like a rain cloud is following me around. With each new assignment or each new thought about the future, I feel myself deflating. But this isn’t forever. Also, in the now it is important to focus on all of the fun things about senior year. About all the memories I get to make. About that last assignment being written. As each day passes, I want to try and look at the bright side instead of worrying about all the stuff that hasn’t even happened. Senioritis is a frame of mind, I just have to climb my way out of it.
Hopefully, some of y’all can relate to these feelings whether you are in your senior year or you are just worried about the future. We’re in this together and we will overcome it. That’s the goal.
I didn’t have a blog post idea today and then something happened that really made me mad. My friend was working today and was telling a coworker that her new medication was making her a little nauseous. Another one of her coworkers walked up and decided to insert himself in the conversation. He proceeded to tell my friend several things that made her angry (and subsequently myself and my roommates angry). I wanted to break down what he said and then talk in general about mental health medication stigma.
Things he said:
#1 Anxiety/OCD/etc. are “just personality traits.”
It really annoys me when people try and tell you that what you are dealing with in regard to your mental health is not valid. By saying this, he invalidates the seriousness of mental health problems. Mental health issues are not just personality traits. They are recognized as disorders by psychiatrists and medical professionals worldwide. It is something that is treated by mental health professionals. It isn’t something easily changed or something you can just move on from. A personality trait like getting nervous before a big event is not the same as having a generalized anxiety disorder. A personality trait like cleanliness is not the same thing as having OCD. Having a personality trait like pessimism is not the same thing as having depression. These disorders are not just personality traits and it fully invalidates someone’s struggles when you say that they are.
#2 “I know exactly how you feel.”
Unless you also struggle with a mental health disorder, this is false. This is another way to invalidate someone’s struggles. Even if you also struggle with anxiety and depression, you don’t know exactly how that person feels. It affects everyone differently. This is especially the wrong thing to say before you proceed to give your unwanted and unsubstantiated opinion on mental health in general.
#3 Medicine is just not the way to help. It basically is unnecessary for mental health disorders.
This is what the remainder of my post is going to discuss because my friend’s coworker is not the only person to think that mental health issues are not serious enough to require medication. People often try and tell you that if you exercised more, ate better, meditated, did yoga, or thought more positively you would be fine. That’s not how it works. Don’t you think that we would all do these things if it magically cured us? You can’t just think happy thoughts and get over depression or meditate and get over anxiety. There are a lot of different treatment options from medical professionals because it is an actual disorder. Therapy is an option and one I highly recommend. It has helped me a lot. But medication is also a valid option for people who are really struggling. Sometimes people feel like taking medication means that they have failed in some way or that they’re weak, but that isn’t true. It just means that you need some extra help in dealing with a disorder. When you take an Advil for a headache (physical health), you don’t have guilt, so you shouldn’t put guilt on yourself for taking medication that helps with your mental health.
It is always important to consult with a doctor or a therapist when you are thinking about medication. It’s important to make sure you are a good candidate for taking medicine to help. Once you and a medical professional have decided it is the right next step, it could take some time to figure out what medication works best. There isn’t one magic pill that is going to be an easy fix to your problem. There are side effects to medications and it is important to find the one that works the best in your body. But it is possible to find a medication that helps you a lot.
Saying it is unnecessary is an uneducated point of view. As our friend who is in pharmacy school who heard about this statement said, “there are decades of research and clinical studies that show how medications do what they do.” There are many medications that are proven to help with a variety of mental health disorders. No one should feel ashamed or judged for taking medication. If you feel the need to shame someone who does take medication, I would encourage you to put that energy into researching mental health disorders and research instead. I believe your opinion would change. Medication is not the only answer, but it is a valid option for those who are struggling.
Here are a couple of other articles that talk about mental health medication:
It’s time for another roundup of the books that I loved in the last month. My reading speed has slowed down a little since classes started, but I am reading much more than I have in past years. I struggled with what to put as my number three, so there is an honorable mention this month. These three books are all very different, but they each had something that I really connected with. Hopefully, y’all will enjoy them too!
#3 Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
This book was a mix of mystery and drama and was centered around one of my favorite things: a bookstore. The main character, Miranda finds out that her uncle (who she hasn’t seen in sixteen years due to a falling out he had with her mother), left her his bookstore, Prospero Books, in his will. Not only does he leave her his store, but also leads her on a scavenger hunt, like he set up for her as a kid, to find out what exactly happened that caused a major rift between him and the family. Part of the reason I loved this book was the many book references throughout. As a person who loves reading and works at an escape room, the idea of a book-based scavenger hunt was right up my alley. This book is mainly a mystery but also has romance and drama. The idea of family is a major theme. It makes you look at the question: What makes a person family? It also makes you think about where priorities should lie and what actually makes you happy. I always love when a story that you think is one thing turns out to be another and this book definitely felt that way. I really enjoyed this book and think other book enthusiasts will feel the same.
#2 Trust First by Bruce Deel
I decided that I should branch out from reading only fiction and picked up a few nonfiction books. This one was the first one I picked up from the library and I really connected with this book. It is written by a pastor who felt called to take over a church in an unsafe area of Atlanta. Soon that calling became something bigger and he started an organization called City of Refuge. His main philosophy and the philosophy of the organization as a whole is radical trust. The City of Refuge is a one-stop-shop for those who are trying to escape homelessness, drug addiction, joblessness, and human trafficking. They provide housing, treatment plans, doctor visits, career counseling, education programs, and childcare all under one roof. Their idea of radical trust is extended to everyone no matter their past circumstances and no matter how many times that trust is violated. He found that when you give people respect, trust, and love that they haven’t seen before, it can do amazing things. He shares stories of several people who have passed through the program and who have stayed on as staff. The City of Refuge has helped over 20,000 people and they are still going strong. This story was inspiring and made me look at the world a little differently. Why do people turn a blind eye to those in need? Why don’t we just talk to people instead of looking down on them? I found myself tearing up at the way Christ-like love transforms these people’s lives. Not just the people who come through the program, but those who volunteer and work there as well. If you want to feel inspired, this is a must-read.
#1 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
First things first: this was one of the longest books I’ve ever read. I feel the need to tell you that in case you are a person who doesn’t like long novels. It was 771 pages. However, the story it tells is epic and fleshed out in a way that draws you in. It was worth the page count. The book follows Theo, who survives an accident that his mother does not. You follow him from age thirteen into his adult years and watch him grow, make mistakes, fall in love, and try to cope with what he went through as a kid. The one thing he holds onto is a painting, The Goldfinch, that he gets on the day of the attack. It is intertwined with him and his life from the moment he takes it. His life takes many twists and turns, but the painting remains a constant symbol of hope for him. The characters in this novel are so fleshed out, I feel as though I know all of them personally. Some standouts are Boris, Mrs. Barbour, Hobbie, and Pippa. All of them impact Theo in different ways, some positively and some negatively. This book deals with a lot of hard topics because Theo lives a difficult life. Fair warning: there is a pretty big amount of drug use and there are times when he deals with serious depression and suicidal thoughts. It can be difficult to read, but it doesn’t feel like too much in the context of the story. It is a raw and real look at how traumatic events can impact someone’s life. It also looks at what a support system or a lack of a support system can do for you. The imagery is vivid and I felt like I could actually see it all happening. I found out in the middle of reading that it has been adapted into a movie. I’m interested to see what I think. There is so much in this book and not very much that I feel could be cut out, so I hope that it creates the same emotional impact the book does. It’s a rollercoaster from start to finish and whether or not you agree with the final message, it provides a new perspective. I would definitely recommend reading it as long as you can get over the length.
I am always looking for book recommendations so let me know what books you’ve been loving recently. Also, if you want to see all the books that I’m reading, add me on Goodreads!
Decided that today I would share another poem I wrote. I found it in my notes. In a lot of ways I still feel a lot of these things, but I think I’m in starting to be in a better place. Every time I share my writing, my stomach drops, but I don’t want to just keep it to myself because I’m scared. I refuse to let my anxiety get the best of me. Maybe some of y’all can relate.
Four letters that instantly evoke an emotion
For most people they picture the house they grew up in
The friends they’ve had since preschool
The town they know every inch of
I don’t see anything
Four letters that encompass what I feel sometimes
A vagabond, but not by choice
Wondering what my room looks like
Wondering what town I’ll come back to
I can’t picture it
Four letters said often with no conviction
A barrier between myself and others
A lie so easily told that I hope one day to be true
A word everyone else seems to mean
I hold out hope
Four letters that stand solid and grounded
Used by others when decisions are made
Nothing like the haziness I feel
My indecisive nature grasping for it
I strive towards it
Four letters that grab hold in quiet moments
It lingers in the back of my mind
Unprovoked but suddenly thrust forward
Often talking about my future
I work against it
Four letters that are ever changing
Day to day and moment to moment
Lately tipping towards indifference
Longing for blissful stability
I wait for calm
Four letters often heard in therapy
I don’t always do it healthily
Jokes and sarcasm often mask my emotions
Working to be more open with each passing day
I try my best
Four letters that with each day grow stronger
Wanting everything to turn out better than I imagine
A wish that one day anxiety will be just a memory
A sense of peace I find through Him
I hold on tight
Thanks for reading! Next week I will be taking a week off because classes start next Wednesday. I will be back in two weeks. Thank you for all the support! Let me know what kinds of things you want me to post next.
People today are always busy. There is always something that needs to get done. I am no different. It can be incredibly draining. Sometimes it isn’t just physical things that need juggling, but your thoughts that come in and mess up the rhythm causing everything to fall down. As the next semester looms up ahead, I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Maybe some of you can relate as well.
This summer my life has mainly consisted of working. I love my job. Working at an escape game is like people watching on steroids and I love my coworkers, but that doesn’t mean I never feel burnt out. The past couple of weeks I have started feeling more anxious as the hours pass at work. A lot of this is just the hours of talking to people adding up. I am an introvert and I really need my time alone, so when I feel like I’m not getting that, I start to feel restless. That’s just one part of my life this summer. I am also juggling writing this blog. Finding time to just sit and write when my brain isn’t tired from working all day is hard. I’m trying to read a lot this summer mostly because I enjoy it, but also because I want to be more well-read before going into my internship later this month. I am trying to do some fun things as well because it is my last summer before I am in the real world with a full-time job. That thought alone trips me up often. Those are just the tangible things I am juggling this summer.
Thoughts are no joke. They hold a lot of power. In my case, they interfere with my sleep. There are a lot of things that I’m thinking about this summer. I try to imagine what the next semester is going to look like. I worry that I’ll become overworked and overwhelmed once I add schoolwork and an internship to my schedule. I worry about how I’ll do at my internship. I want to impress the people I work with and learn a lot so that I can find a good job after college. I am going to be a senior this year, so naturally, thoughts of post-college linger in the air. Where am I going to stay? Are my friends going to stay too? What job am I going to have? Am I going to be ready to be a full-fledged adult? I also think about my parents who are in the moving process right now. I won’t see where they live until December. I won’t be able to picture my room at home until then. Then the questions come into my head about the concept of home in general. I think about past moves, good and bad. All of these thoughts hitting at once have made me feel a little blah recently. That’s the best way to describe it. For the past couple of weeks, it has been hard to focus on things, because my thoughts shift or I just feel indifferent. I finally started reading another book yesterday so it’s getting better. But I am juggling all of these thoughts that fuel anxiety on top of the tangible aspects of my summer. But as I talked to my therapist about it, I was reminded that we are all jugglers.
No one is going through life with a one-track mind. We are all trying to balance. What I have come to realize, is that it is okay to drop the ball sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you have to leave everything scattered on the floor. It just means you need to try again and practice until everything is in rhythm. No one becomes a professional juggler overnight. We are the same way. It may take some time to feel confident juggling all of your responsibilities and your thoughts/emotions. That’s perfectly fine. Sure, my next semester might be crazy, but with time my schedule will just feel normal. Sure, my anxiety may still be with me, but with time I will talk those worries out with my therapist, my friends, and my family and I’ll be able to remind myself that everything will work out. Juggling is not easy, but it is something that can be learned until one day it feels like second nature. Sometimes another ball will be thrown into the mix and then you’ll practice again until that rhythm feels natural too.
I really appreciate the support on the blog, especially as I work to juggle everything. As I enter the next semester, my posting schedule may change depending on what my schedule ends up looking like. I will let you know if that will be the case. Thanks for reading and supporting!
There is a lot of stigma that surrounds the idea of going to therapy. It has been lessening some in past years particularly when discussed by the younger generations, but the stigma still stands. Today, I want to talk about some of the common myths about therapy versus the realities and how I personally have found it helpful.
Myth 1: People who go to therapy have serious mental issues or are “crazy.”
Reality: There are a lot of reasons that people go to therapy. Is it true that there are people who are in therapy because they are struggling with a serious mental illness? Of course. But even these people aren’t “crazy.” Them suffering from a mental illness and going to see a therapist is just as normal as someone being diagnosed with a physical illness and going to a physician. They shouldn’t be labeled negatively. But to my main point, different circumstances lead different people to therapy. Sometimes, someone had something traumatic happen in their life. Sometimes, they are grieving the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, they are having work or relationship trouble. Sometimes, they just feel a little off-balance. Sometimes, it is just good to have someone to talk to who can give you more concrete advice than your friends or family. There are so many reasons that people go. I went because of my anxiety, but life happened while I was in therapy and now in addition to tackling my anxious thoughts, grief and the inability to control what happens to us have become topics of discussion. Therapists can help a lot of people on a variety of issues.
Myth 2: Going to therapy makes you seem weak.
Reality: I actually think going to therapy makes you incredibly strong. Allowing yourself to open up to someone and admit that you need a little help is difficult. Stepping into your therapist’s office for the first time takes a lot of guts. It also means you want to take of your mental health. People always talk about taking care of your body, but it is just as important to take care of your emotional and mental health. When we don’t address those problems, it can actually affect our physical health. So going to therapy literally makes you the opposite of weak. It makes you stronger in all aspects of your health.
Myth 3: Going to therapy is something you should be embarrassed to admit or talk about.
Reality: I firmly believe that talking about mental health issues as well as mental health support is incredibly important. That is one of the reasons I started this blog. Going to therapy is a difficult step to take. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to go when I first started. A lot of people who are struggling go back and forth. The worst thing that can happen for someone who is on the fence is for someone to make therapy seem like something that needs to be hidden or kept secret. That makes it seem like going is some taboo thing. I understand if you want to keep therapy private, but you shouldn’t actively be embarrassed about talking about it because there is nothing embarrassing about it. When someone asks you if you can get lunch with them and you can’t because you have a therapy appointment, be honest with them. Just saying, “Sorry, I can’t today. I have therapy.” can be powerful. Talking about it normally normalizes the idea for people and it no longer feels like something that should be talked about in hushed tones. I personally am extremely open with the fact that I go to therapy. My friends and coworkers know who I’m talking about when I bring up my therapist’s name. They don’t know the intimate details of what we talk about, but they know I go and that she has been helping me. Talking about it may help someone take the next step in reaching out to a therapist. You never know. So don’t make it seem like it’s embarrassing. Normalize it and hopefully one day the stigma will cease.
Myth 4: It’s a waste of money if you have friends and family to talk to.
Reality: I’ll speak personally for a moment and say that while I love my family and my friends, they cannot always look at the events unfolding in our lives from an outside and objective standpoint. When an event happens, like a death in the family, talking to the other people affected can be helpful, but the advice or support you get in return comes from a very personal and biased perspective. Talking through your feelings and really understanding what they are and how to cope with them, is something that a therapist can do better than a friend or family member. They are trained to help people. It is also sometimes hard for me to express my emotions to those around me. It is something I’m actively working on in therapy. Also, sometimes being able to talk to someone confidentially about issues you are having with friends and family, makes it easier to talk about. Talking to family and friends has the tendency to become a sticky situation if you are talking about people the other person knows. Often issues surrounding friends and family pass, and keeping those things confidential allows you to move on in the future without those things hanging in the air. It is a safe space to vent which allows you to process your emotions more freely. Don’t get me wrong, talking to family and friends is important and can be helpful, but that doesn’t mean a therapist isn’t necessary or an important extra level of support.
Myth 5: Therapists just tell you what to do so you can fix your problem and move on.
Reality: Therapy is helpful because the therapist guides you in a direction, but allows you to come to conclusions and revelations on your own. Therapy is work. Just like you work out in order to stay fit physically, you come to therapy to stay fit mentally and emotionally. You will not walk into a therapist’s office, state your problem, get handed a list of ways to fix it, and then leave. Therapists rarely tell you exactly what to do. Often they give suggestions, but it is up to you to take them up on it and usually, the suggestions don’t lead to your problems being solved immediately. To really get the most out of therapy, you need to be willing to put in the work. Also, be prepared to be in therapy as long as it is necessary. Some people go for a few weeks, some a couple months, while others have been in therapy for years. There is no right or wrong amount of time to be in therapy. That is at the discretion of you and your therapist. But no one is only in therapy for a couple sessions and then is able to walk out worry-free. It is important to be open with your therapist for them to provide the best support. The need for that type of support to continue is determined on a case by case basis. Find the right therapist for you, expect to put in the work, and be prepared to be there as long as it takes.
Therapy has been a very important thing for me. It has helped me a lot and continues to help me work through all sorts of life changes and issues that come up. I personally think that anyone can benefit from therapy, but don’t go until you are ready. When you are ready, be open to the process and really open up to your therapist. That open communication is what allows them to really help you. Also, don’t be ashamed that you are going, be proud of the fact that you are taking the next step to be the best version of yourself. Being happy and healthy is the goal, and therapy can be a useful step to getting there.
I have always loved reading. I read all the time when I was younger and fell in love with the way that words on a page could form vivid images in your mind. You could fall in love with a character that wasn’t real but made you feel like they were standing right next to you. Reading was a constant in my life. A way that I could escape the real world for a while. My love of reading and writing is what pushed me to become a publishing major. A job where I can be surrounded by books is a dream come true. While in college, the number of books I read decreased dramatically. After reading textbooks all day, I rarely wanted to read more. But this summer, I have had time to read again and have fallen in love all over again. When I’m feeling particularly anxious at night, I pull out my book and get wrapped up in the story unfolding on the page. By the time I put the book down, I’m calmer than before. I have read a ton of books so far and I am showing no signs of slowing down (I still leave with like five books every time I go to the library) so I decided to start a monthly reading roundup post. Once a month I will talk about the top three books I’ve read. I also want all of you to list some of your favorite books in the comments. I know it can be hard to figure out what to read, so starting this conversation once a month can give us all some ideas. So without further ado, here are my top three books I’ve read this month.
#3 The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
This book is extremely clever. I had read one other book by this same author and his writing style is so interesting to me. It’s very meta. In the book, a detective asks Horowitz to write a book about him solving this case of a woman who walks into a funeral parlor to plan her funeral, and six hours later is found murdered. Horowitz writes a book about him writing a book. It’s clever in its style and it’s clever in its mystery. There are many twists throughout that keep you on your toes. The detective asking Horowitz to write the book is quite the character; eccentric and a little off-putting. The layers to the characters as well as the layers to the mystery are deep. If you like this book, I would suggest also reading Magpie Murders. It’s also pretty meta. I’m always impressed when an author can bring a new angle to a genre that has often become formulaic. Anthony Horowitz does a great job of taking a classic whodunnit and injecting new life into the genre.
#2 Nine Perfect Strangers by Lianne Moriarty
I saw this book on a list for summer reads and decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of book it was. I couldn’t tell from the description if it would be a mystery or a comedy or both or neither. It was unclear. After reading it, I would classify it as suspense with humor throughout to break some of the tension. The story centers around nine people who come to a ten-day health retreat. They all come for different reasons that you find out along the way. The head of the retreat is quite the character and has some pretty extreme ideas when it comes to making lives better. What I really love about this book and find incredibly impressive is that each chapter is from the perspective of a different character. Moriarty is constantly switching from one character to another giving you a full picture of every character in the book. The ability to jump from voice to voice seemlessly is extremely difficult, and she makes it look easy. Sometimes with books like this one where there are a lot of characters, things can get muddled and you can lose sight of who they are or where they ended up. Moriarty doesn’t let that happen. By the end, you know each character individually and you know what happens to all the characters. The ending of a book can ruin the whole thing if not handled correctly. But Moriarty finishes this book with ease. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading other works by this author.
#1 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I picked this book off the shelf at the library on a whim because I saw it near another book I was checking out. I’m so glad I did because this book easily catapulted itself into my top five books of all time. I loved this book! It was like the movies The Prestige and The Greatest Showman (without the music) mixed together with a touch of Romeo and Juliet. Two illusionists take on students and have them compete in a competition that is shrouded in mystery. The stage is the circus that they create and the end of the competition seems to be ambiguous. Everything unfolds at just the right pace. It doesn’t give away things too early, but it doesn’t hold on too long. There is never a dull moment. The imagery is staggering. I could picture this circus so vividly that I could have been watching it play out on TV. Honestly, if a movie isn’t made out of this book then Hollywood is crazy. Although sometimes they butcher books, so I’m torn. The book takes place over many years and follows various groups of characters that weave in and out of each other. By the end of the book, I was dying to go to this circus. Man, do I wish it was real. I’m not usually into fantasy type books, but this one blew me away. It has something for everybody. Mystery, suspense, drama, fantasy, romance. And yet, it always feels cohesive. The weaving in and out of storylines keeps you on your toes much like the two characters in the competition. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I truly think everyone should read it.
So there are my top three for this month’s reading roundup. Now it’s your turn! What are some good books that you have read recently? I’m always looking for more to add to my list.