Living Away From Home

I am a junior in college. A college that just happens to be 1,192.4 miles away from my family. I chose to go far away for school, in fact I didn’t apply to any schools in my home state. I wanted to try and be on my own.

I have always found it easy to be independent, to think for myself. This being said, being on your own, in a place where you know no one, can come with it’s challenges.

In my first semester I kept to myself mostly. Yes, I made friends, but I was shy and preferred my own company, rather than theirs.

Second semester I tried to be more outgoing. To make connections with people. It was that semester that I came to be close with my little group of friends. k0502332 I ended up leasing a house with them starting this summer. I have never been a very outgoing person, but forcing myself to be around people more gave me the best group of friends I have ever had.

I miss my family every day though. I try to call my grandmother at least every other day, and I text and call my mom at least every day. Being away from my little brother and dog is by far the hardest, and when I am home I try to fit in as much time with them as I can.

When I am home my family treats me like they haven’t seen me in years. They make the food I like, and do the things I want to do, that is until the novelty wears off after a few days and it’s back to normal, like I was never away.

When it comes time for me to leave again it is always hard. I try to focus on the fact that I am becoming more independent, and when I’m away, every decision is up to me. For me, that is an exciting thought.

My advice for anyone moving away from home, either for college or some other reason, is to make friends. Surround your self with people who make you happy. Also, try and keep in touch with family. That will help you feel like you are still a part of their lives, and you theirs.

Family, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.

 

~Maddie

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Long Distance Friendship

I met my best friend through a mutual friend in eighth grade. We became really close, and throughout high school we were each others emotional support. We tried to do everything we could together and spent all of our free time at school together.

When it came to choosing colleges, we never really talked to each other where we were going to go. united-states-map I went to Missouri and she moved to Florida. It was hard to say goodbye of course, and that first summer apart was hard.

We talk all the time, either over text or Skype. It is the fast that we keep in almost constant contact that we are still such good friends. We still go to each other to talk about our problems, and the good things that happen in out lives.

That’s how I know that our friendship will last, even though we are so far away, we are still the first person that we go to.

We have seen each other 3 times over the two years, and counting, of living in different states. 6-1-2014 046 When we are together, it’s like nothing has changed, no time has passed. We still enjoy each other’s company. It is hard to be apart, to see each other making new friends, moving on in life without the other, but we will always be there for each other, and that is what matters.

It is because we refuse to let go that we are so close. Don’t let go of something that is of value, and it will always be there.

 

~Maddie

Scars

Most people have scars, mine just happen to be caused by my own hand. If anyone is triggered by mentions of scars caused by self harm please stop reading now.

I have depression, and cutting was one way that I coped. The marks from that time can be found on my left shoulder, my left forearm, stomach, and both thighs.

At first I hated them and was ashamed of them. But, now I love them and am proud. My opinion changed when I realized that the scars were a record of what I have been through. Each mark is proof that I have fought the demons that reside in my head, and lived to tell the tail.

I haven’t gotten any negative reactions from strangers, just people staring and asking where I got them. Most are surprised when I am so open with my response, which is usually “I have depression and these are the marks of one way that I used to cope.”

You would be surprised how many people answer with their own similar stories.

When it comes to friends I find it easier to handle their reactions. Any friend that has had a negative reaction to my scars has been cut out of my life. If they can not accept or be supportive of what I have been going through then their friendship isn’t worth keeping up with. The friends that I have kept, and made, sense then have been the best ones I have ever had.

Many people with scars from any type of self harm may be worried about how a significant other will react to them. I got lucky, my boyfriend has never treated me any different because of my scars. We have been together for nine months now, and they are normal to us. But, if you are dating someone who doesn’t react as favorably to your scars, I would try to explain to them your feelings behind them. If that doesn’t work, I would urge you to think about your future with this person.

My family used to stare at them, make sure that I wan’t cutting anymore. They have said that they don’t want to see anymore. They have been nothing but supportive. After five years of having them I only catch them staring occasionally.

Have I ever covered my scars?

No. I have never intentionally covered my scars. Even when I was ashamed of them, I wanted to see peoples reactions to them. I think part of me wanted to let someone who may be struggling with something similar that they are not alone.

When I was cutting and hiding it I would look at other peoples bodies, searching for scars. For something to prove that this could be survived with dignity. 

So, I wear what I want, showing my scars, because they are part of me. I am proud of the stories they represent.

If you want more information on self harm and how to help someone going through it click HERE.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal you can find a list of suicide hotlines by clicking on this link.

~Maddie

Journaling

I currently have 5 journals going. To most that may seem like a lot, but each one I use for something different.

The first one (purple) I started my sophomore year of high school. I use it to put down all of my thoughts when I am sad. When I get down I feel it helpful to just rant on paper. This journal is full of rants, poems, and drawings, all done when I am sad, or upset.

The second (blue) journal I started my junior year of high school. I use it for daily journaling. Happy thoughts, things I did that day, my thoughts on the world around me at the time. I like trying to write every day, so that I can look back and see how my views have changed, or how I accomplished something I was once scared to do.

The third journal I started my senior year of high school. I copy down song lyrics I like, poems I want to remember, books I have finished and the date at which I finished them.

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I try to keep this one neat. It is the only journal that I am using where every entry is not dated. I do this because what it written is the important part, not what date they are written. I find that one way to move people is with words, so I try to put beautiful works of writing in this beautiful journal.

The last two I started my sophomore year of college.

The black one is just a plane sketchbook, and I use it as a bullet journal. If you want to know more about bullet joarnaling click HERE. I use it as another calendar along with the one I carry from class to class.

The one with the red binding I use as sort of a “catch all.” I put down random story ideas that come into my head, but aren’t fully formed. I write down blog past ideas that I want to write, but aren’t at my computer. I have just gotten in the habit of carrying this journal with me every where I can. I find it comforting to have something to write down the ideas that pop into my head.

A journal that I want to add to this would be something small that I can carry easily. I would use this just to scribble in. I find that sometimes sitting in class can give me anxiety, and it would help to have something to scribble in, simple to get the anxiety out in a place that wouldn’t wreak my notes.

Each journal is a record of that I have been through, and what I have done. To me that is the most powerful part.

 

~Maddie

A Day With POTS

For more information on what POTS is click HERE!

Everyone’s experience with this syndrome is different, and what works for me may not work for someone else with POTS even if they have the same or similar symptoms.

That being said, this is what an average day looks like for me:

Wake up and take my medication (water and meds are ALWAYS right next to my bed)

Sleep for the half hour it takes the medication to kick in

Wake up, get dressed (if I have a lab, or know it is going to be a long day of standing I wear compression socks, which means long pants. Yes, even in summer)

Eat breakfast (usually a Boost, a high calorie drink that my body can digest easily)

Brush teeth (I stand on my toes while I do this so that there is enough blood to my arm)

Fill up water bottle (I take one with me everywhere and am constantly drinking)

Go to classes (I leave early so I have time to sit on the way there and rest if I have to climb more than one flight of stairs)

Lunch (something light and easily digestible, no bread)

Go to work (I work at the writing center on campus, flexible hours, and NO STANDING REQUIRED!)

Go to the gym (I only do this on the days that I have energy, and am only there for a half hour or so)

Take a nap

Do homework (usually in bed or some place where I can keep my legs up)

Dinner

Bed early (usually 10PM or so)

 

Through all of this I have to take my medication every 4 hours, I am constantly eating small amounts of easily digestible food, and drinking either water or Gatorade. It seems like a normal day, but on some days standing is a struggle. If I get to class early I will sit on the floor, even if no one else is sitting.

My biggest piece of advice is: do not be embarrassed to do what helps you. If you need to take a seat on a crowded bus, do it. You don’t have to prove that you need the seat. There is no shame in doing that helps you get through the day.

Everything I do I have to think about how to do it with POTS. I am not giving into my illness, like some people think, I am learning to live with something I can’t change.

POTS doesn’t change you, just the way you do things.

 

~Maddie

Changing Majors

At the end of last semester I made the decision to change my major from ceramic engineering to psychological science. This was a tough decision, because I have always seen myself as an engineer, and being anything else struck me as a failure. It has taken me a while to see that change can be good, and that I am not failing just because I need the change. I did not chose this major because I thought it was easy, I chose it because I wasn’t interested in ceramics anymore, and I wanted to do something that I could excel at.

I go to a school where the majority of students are engineering majors, so, I went from being in the majority, to being in the minority. The two major things that helped me through this where that a lot of my friends where changing majors as well, along with my boyfriend who is going to the same school for computer science. He has been very supportive throughout the whole decision making process, and has always made me feel that whatever decision I make I am making the right one.

Change can be hard.

Another thing that was hard about this change was the reactions I got from people. Telling people that I am in school for ceramic engineering is met with a sense of aw and misunderstanding. I enjoyed explaining to people what my degree meant and what I was going to do with it. I am scared for the reactions that I will get when I tell others what my major is now, not because the responses will be negative, but because I don’t think I will be able to handle them just yet. One day I will get there.

This is what is best for me.

And that’s all that matters.

 

~Maddie