For Mama, on Mother’s Day

I could write an entire book on my mother because the things that she does for me, my dad, my sisters, and my nieces and nephews are unmeasurable. I won’t write a book (this time), but what I wanted to write today is too long for a Facebook post or Twitter update.

Since before I was born, my mom has worked her butt off to support the family. My dad was severely injured in 1989 in a construction accident, so it left my mom being the only one to work. Now, I could go into a whole different book about how amazing my dad is, but I won’t do that either. At least not until Father’s Day. 😉

I could also talk about how much she’s done for this entire family, but for this particular blog, I’ll write only about what she’s done for me. Hopefully my sisters and dad are okay with that this time. 🙂

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From the time I can remember, my mom always supported me, backed me up, stood up for me, talked for me… everything. See, I was born with some things wrong with my brain; a chemical imbalance. I was diagnosed with severe social anxiety and major depression, but those diagnoses didn’t even come about until I was 23. So for 23 years, despite my mom not knowing what was wrong with me, she still supported me, stood up for me, and talked for me.

It was rough, and I only know that now as an adult. I didn’t know what I was putting my mom through when I refused to get out of the car in middle school. I didn’t know what I was putting my mom through when the guidance counselors and teachers and principals called her and talked to her about how I wouldn’t speak to them. My mom went through so much when I was growing up. Keep in mind, she was doing all this while helping my dad with his injuries; doctor’s appointments, surgeries. My three sisters had their own lives that she helped them with as well.

To be straightforward, my mom is truly a super hero. Wonder Woman. Whatever you want to call her. And I mean that sincerely.

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We have been to concerts together, horse races, museums, a million road trips, hikes, and we even travelled the world together. She taught me to look at the sky for the moon and the stars and just stare at it in wonder. She taught me to always be myself, and to stay strong despite what was happening around me. She taught me to breathe during panic attacks and remind me that I would be okay. She taught me to love animals, to appreciate things, and to love God because He loves me.

As a college student, I started college because I wanted to prove the bullies that called me stupid all of my life wrong. But now two years in to my degree, I don’t care about proving them wrong. I want to prove my mom right, because she always told me I was smart and worth more than what anyone was calling me. I want to make my mom proud, I want to prove to her that all that stuff I put her through in my younger years wasn’t a waste and that she made me into the person I am today.

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The countless doctor’s appointments, taking me in for surgeries and ER visits last year, picking up my medications from the pharmacy, being active in how my therapy sessions went… all of that does not go unnoticed, I promise you. Mama, you deserve the world, but until I can give that to you, I hope all of this is okay.

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for loving Daddy through sickness and in health.

Thank you for loving my sisters and their husbands and all of their children. I’m positive you’re the best grandmother in the world and I believe they’d all agree with me.

Thank you for loving Finn, helping me through the time when I was sure I was going to lose him.

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Thank you for everything; the things that I notice, the things that I don’t notice or even know about, and the things I take for granted.

Thank you for all that you’ve sacrificed.

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You and Daddy have made an amazing family and I hope you know how much you’re loved.

I love that I am half of you. I love that people recognize how amazing you are, because you are!

Thank you… for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Dealing With Depression In College

Going to college is difficult. Having depression is difficult. Struggling with both at the same time? That’s something different. I know what you’re thinking – Everybody that goes to college is depressed. I realize that. But some people can deal with it better than others can.

I go to college online, and all homework and assignments are due every Tuesday. That gives me six days to complete everything, and sometimes it is extremely difficult to do when I’m dealing with depression, especially if it sneaks up on me and I get no signs or warnings of it coming. When it happens, I get behind on my homework and assignments. I lose focus. I lose motivation. I lose all hope that college is even something I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

I am the type of person that HATES being late. I also hate when other people are late if we are meeting up. It makes me feel unimportant that that person wouldn’t plan accordingly to be on time. Turning in assignments on time is no different for me. I can’t stand turning them in late. My college’s late assignment policy is that I can turn them in a week late and get 10% off the grade, or up to two weeks late for 20% off the grade. That’s enough for me to want to turn it in on time in case I mess up and get a few points taken off just for my mistakes, much less any points taken off for turning it in late.

I’m a perfectionist. I have to have that perfect grade.

But sometimes… I can’t have that perfect grade. Sometimes I have to listen to my mental health and take a break, despite losing a few points for turning it in late. It’s still hard for me to cope with the fact that I have to turn in my assignment late, even if it’s just a day late. But I have to realize, and sometimes I do, that my mental health is more important than my grades.

My mental health is more important than my grades.

YOUR mental health is more important than your grades.

Being in college is an accomplishment, whether you realize it or not. A lot of people don’t have the access or the privilege to go to college like we do, so we shouldn’t take advantage of it. But sometimes, it’s best to take a step back, take a deep breath, and take a mental health day for ourselves.

I understand other colleges have different late policies than mine, but why not email your professor and tell them what’s going on? You have to be more honest with yourself that you need another day to turn in your assignment, but be honest with your professor as well. I bet they will understand if you just give them a heads up.

Take a mental health day, rest up, cry, binge watch something funny on Netflix, then breathe, take a shower, and go kick some butt. You got this.

Here are some photos I got of the moon tonight (January 20, 2019). Nothing like I would get if I were actually ready for it; I need my tripod and some more practice in photography again before I can get better shots.

Crazy how a football game almost ruined my night, then I realized it ultimately means nothing when it comes to the significance of life. I was definitely reminded of that tonight while (literally) staring off into space. I have no clue how some people are not just transformed when they look at the night sky. I use to want to be astronaut, but then I realized how scared of heights I was. Life is just silly when it comes to comparing it to the vast significance of space. Events like these ground me and make me realize I need to slow down and just stare up at the stars some nights.
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img_6165All photos belong to me. Please ask permission if you want to use them.

2018/2019… let’s do this

(Trigger warning)

2018 was a big year for me, physically and mentally. I can’t say it was all good, as I lost 6 people within my family and friend circle. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that many people in one year. It’s been a heartbreaking year, an eye-opening year, and a victorious year. I can’t believe how much I’ve accomplished. I went into 2018 with a different mindset that I had never had before. I honestly still have no clue where the motivation came from, other than working my butt off in therapy. I didn’t realize my mindset was changing until it hit me like a brick wall.

The year didn’t start off great; my uncle passed away on January 1. I wasn’t as close to him as I had been in my younger years since we lived a state away, but it was still a challenging time. My mother lost her brother, my cousins lost their father. We are now upon the first anniversary of his passing and I know it’s not easier for anyone. In July, I also lost my great uncle. It’s been a rough year for my family.

In previous years, my “new year’s resolution” always included losing weight, but it never worked out because, well, I never worked out. I would work out or diet for maybe a week, maybe two, then go back to my old habits. This year, that would change. I couldn’t lose weight on my own, so I talked to my doctor and she recommended weight loss surgery. I went for it and made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. After 3 months of preparation, dieting, and exercise, I had the surgery in August. I haven’t lost weight at the pace I would have liked, but I’ve still lost weight and I’m okay with that. I still have a long journey ahead of me, but I’m still motivated to get the weight off.

As for the people I’ve lost this year, it was rough. I lost a few close friends and two family members. One of them, though, hit me like nothing has ever hit before.

I started my mental health journey in 2014, and I won’t get into details with that, because I’ve talked about it in previous posts. I was checked into a mental hospital and then immediately started group therapy after I was discharged. The first person that talked to me when I walked up to the door was named Katy, and she ended up becoming one of the most important people I’d ever meet in my life.

There were times during therapy and even outside of therapy that she would talk me through it and help me through it. I remember one day in therapy that I was called on to speak, and I ended up crying… hard. I couldn’t get through what I was trying to say. Katy sat next to me every day, and on this particular day, she looked at me and said, “I promise you that nobody here is going to judge you, and everybody here loves you, including me. I’m right here. Just talk to me.” Those words helped me get through the duration of my time in group therapy.

I learned that she had a lung disease when I would talk to her everyday, but I didn’t know how bad it was. She passed away this year, in June. The bad thing for me is that I didn’t find out until July. I missed her funeral, I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I didn’t get to tell her how much she meant to me. It was heartbreaking. I still think about her and cry. I have never grieved over anyone else as hard as I have grieved over her.

As much as her passing affected me, I didn’t let it slow me down. I couldn’t. I know she would want me to keep working hard on my mental health, so I have. I have progressed, I think, a lot in therapy. I’m working my butt off daily to stay alive. Everybody has bad days, including me, but I get through them. Finn (my dog) is definitely a huge help with that. I’ve accomplished so much mentally, but also physically. I made a lot of progress in school. I’ve been getting out of the house more, but one of the main goals I have for myself is to get out even more. I’ve got so much planned; hiking, dog park visits, walking trails, yard work, and even just sitting outside getting more fresh air.

Health wise, I am going to continue to take care of myself. For so many years, I put my health on the back burner because I hated myself that much. I wanted to die so bad that my life didn’t matter that much. But now, I feel like I need to stay alive, and I want to stay alive. Some days are very difficult, and I still have suicidal thoughts from time to time, but I don’t feel as if I would act upon them now. It’s even kind of crazy to think about because I got so used to thinking I would be better off dead.

Another goal is to blog more! I’ve had to take a few months off from blogging, but I’m back at it. I felt like if I had writer’s block, then it was going to happen whether I wanted it to happen or not, and I didn’t try to force anything.

With all of that being said, I want to know how your year was and how you want 2019 to be. If you had a bad year, it’s okay. Not everyone is going to have a good year. And its okay to have bad days! Even if you have perfect mental health (and no one does), everyone has bad days. Try your hardest to bounce back the next day. I know it’s easier said than done, trust me. Depression is no joke at all. But stay strong for me, for your family, for your friends, your pets, your spouse, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, but most of all, stay strong for yourself. Because you’re worth staying strong for. You’re worth the life that the universe gave you. You matter.

Happy new year, and let’s have a great 2019.

My Weight Loss Journey, Part III

On August 10, I had vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery, also known as gastric sleeve surgery. Yep, I went through with it. I’ll be honest, I am the first one to admit I thought I would chicken out. But here I am on the other side of surgery, and I’m doing great.

At my highest weight, I was 253 lbs.. I am 5’5″, so that is considered morbidly obese. Surgery day, I weighed in at 251 lbs. After the surgery, I was in some pain, but the pain medication kept it away. I vomited a few times (including in front of both of my guests. Ugh… sorry about that!). I had to walk around the hall multiple times and the next day I was discharged and went home.

It was tough the first few days. I could barely sleep on my stomach, but did. I had no problems sleeping (thank you, Ambien). Getting in the amount of liquids I need is still a struggle because my sleeve is so small now that it fills me up pretty quickly. I am on stage 2 right now, the pureed stage, and I am full after a 3 oz cup of blended soup. It’s so weird to me because before, I would eat because it tasted good and wanted more. Now, while I still struggle with that, I can’t eat more or it physically hurts. My sleeve tells me to stop by making it painful to eat more.

Since 8/10, I am down to 237 lbs., which truly blows my mind. That means I am down 16 lbs. in less than a month and I couldn’t be more happy. I’ve hit a couple stalls in weight loss, but I figured out what I was doing wrong, and fixed it. I don’t lose weight as fast as other people, and that’s okay. It’s frustrating at times because I don’t lose weight as fast as others, but my body is different than theirs, and that’s okay. I’ll get to my goal weight in my own time.

I’m walking everyday, but I haven’t made it to my first goal of 30 minutes yet. That’s because I have an intense back pain when I do walk for an extended amount of time, but I’ve discovered that if I wear my abdominal binder that the hospital gave me, then I can walk longer than if I don’t wear it. So I’ll get there. On October 1, I can go back to the gym and possibly start doing more cardio and start weight training.

That’s it for now, but I’ll continue to update as my weight loss journey continues. If you have any questions about the surgery, you can contact me by emailing me at aliveewriter@yahoo.com, or texting me at (318) 321-8725. Be sure to leave your name and a way to contact you.

Addiction

I’ve struggled with the thought of posting this because I have been told not to “look up to someone with addiction problems.”

Demi Lovato, though, is more than that. I don’t want to sound like a “fan girl” but I guess I just will. Demi Lovato has saved my life a few times. She’s open about her mental health, addiction being one of the main things. She was sober for six years and recently relapsed and went into the hospital for a possible overdose. Luckily she is okay, and I think about how life would change without one of my role models in it.

I know… “You’ve never even met her.” I realize that. But the cool thing about social media or even speaking out is that you don’t have to meet someone for them to have a major impact on your life or for you to impact someone else.

I honestly have no idea how to even continue because I’m so terrified of how people will react to me freaking out, crying, and worrying so hard about a celebrity. Celebrities are human too though and I think people forget that.

I remember when I was in group therapy, I would drive there every morning listening to “Warrior” by Demi Lovato because it would give me a sense of power before I started my day. I would sing the words to myself when I could and it would help me fight. I was so scared of dying, but I wanted to die. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the truth.

I’m done sounding like a “fan girl” as someone has told me in the past.

Someone with an addiction is crying out for help right now. Are you going to help them, or judge them and ignore them? Despite what some may think, addiction is not a choice. Addiction is a mental illness and people need our help. It doesn’t matter who it is. Demi Lovato is in the news right now, so let’s send her uplifting messages, not messages that put her down or messages saying that you don’t feel sorry for her.

How in the world would that help anyone dealing with an addiction? The human species are supposed to be in this together; this life. So let’s help each other. Really.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction, please seek help. There is no shame. Those that do shame you do not matter. There are so many resources to get help, so please take that first step! You are worth it!

Dear Katy

 

Dear Katy,

I know we weren’t super close, but you were my first friend in my mental health journey. You showed me so many things, including how to love and let go. During my hardest of times, you were always just a text away. I remember when we were in group therapy together, you bought me cake and slushies from Sonic. We would walk over to the front entrance and go to the vending machine to get Cokes and you would make me go, even when my lazy self didn’t want to. But our conversations were amazing. From straight up goofy to you preaching to me to you inspiring me, those conversations were conversations that I looked forward to every day.
I also remember the time we went to pick up Little Caesar’s pizza for the group and you drove and I held on for dear life. Good times were had when I was screaming while you drove.
Katy, you were inspiring. Despite everything that came your way, you kept fighting, and you inspired others to keep fighting too. You were funny, you were a great friend, and you were amazing.
I want you to know that things will be okay down here until we meet again. I’m gonna fight in your name. Not only do I fight for myself, but now I fight for you. I’m so glad you’re not suffering anymore; you’re up there with Jesus, probably eating cake and playing with dogs.

Your last Facebook post was Romans 8:18, which happens to be my favorite verse… “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” How perfect.
I love you and I miss you.
Ali