The Depression Mindset

People seek out what is the most comfortable for them. When you have depression that is what becomes your comfort zone. I consider myself in the “recovery” stage of my journey with depression, but sometimes I find myself feeling uncomfortable when I am happy.

When I am genuinely happy, it can be uncomfortable, or confusing. With depression you spend so much time not being happy, that when it happens without you doing anything, it can catch you off guard. You spend years learning how to cope with the sadness that is thick, and overwhelming, that once you break through it you don’t know how to handle the happiness.

I have often found myself watching sad movies or videos, listening to sad music, or reading sad books all in an attempt to make myself sad. I can handle being sad. I know how to be sad. I have to learn how to be happy again.

I don’t mean that I have to learn how to MAKE myself happy, I mean that I havedepression-warning-sign-rev to relearn how to live with the feeling of being happy. It feels weird to me, uncomfortable, wrong, and that is the scary part.

I WANT to be happy, I don’t want to be sad, and I enjoy being happy. The feeling of happiness simply feels uncomfortable and wrong. It’s like putting on clothing that irritates your skin, you spend all of your time thinking about how uncomfortable the clothing is rather than thinking about how good you feel in it when you look in the mirror.

More, and more I find myself wishing I had some sort of coping mechanism for when I feel uncomfortable being happy. I am aware that making myself sad is not a healthy coping mechanism. Recently, when I have felt like that, I have been reminding myself of how bad I felt when my depression was at its worst. That way I appreciate being able to feel happy more than I worry about how uncomfortable it makes me.

I am still working through how I handle my emotions. It is still a daily battle to develop healthy coping mechanisms, and catch myself before I can use unhealthy ones.

All you can do is keep working.

 

~Maddie

Crisis Text Line

Suicide Hotlines

What is Depression?

Smarter Parenting

Looking Chronically Ill

People judge books by their covers. We make assumptions every day, based on what a person is wearing, if they have acne or not, if they are attractive, etc. That’s the hardest thing I have to face when it comes to interacting with people while chronically ill.

I have POTS click here for more information.e4a81806f46084b251789ff91c0dc51c Although I could be in unbearable pain, I look perfectly healthy. Most people would say this is a blessing, and sometimes it can be. I can go about my day without people constantly asking me what is wrong and if I am feeling okay. That makes it easier to ignore the pain and think that I am “normal.” But there are times when I wish the pain I was feeling was reflected in my appearance.

I fly a lot for school. And flying, of course, makes me sick. I’m lucky like that. When I have to take a shuttle I sit down. 

What people see: a perfectly healthy 20 year old taking up one of the few seats that could be taken by someone who could really use it.

Reality: a 20 year old who is on the verge of puking, sitting because she feels faint and wants to avoid passing out, trying to breath slowly to slow down her rapid heart rate, trying to avoid peoples stares

You can see that the difference can cause some confusion.

I have been called lazy, inconsiderate, and many other things.Be-Kind I used to not take the seat. I would stand and push through it, making myself sick in the process. It has been a new revelation that I need to take care of myself as much as the next person. So, if I need a seat, or heaven forbid a wheel chair, I am going to use them. Because I know I need them, people can stare and judge all they want, but I know what I can and can’t do.

I used to see myself as weak, because of all the accommodations I now have to make so I can function. I would push myself to be just like everyone else. I wore three pairs of compression socks and leggings so that I didn’t have to be the only person sitting in my lab. 

I’ve moved passed that mindset. Now I take the seat, because I know I need it so that I can focus on the lab and not passing out. I am open about my illness. If people have questions I try to answer them the best I can. I don’t mind people askinge2916d22aa4db4922e16c65357ff82d8 questions, in fact I encourage it. I would much rather have people ask me why I am sitting than stare and wonder.

If you are someone with a chronic illness, do what is best for you. People’s judgement can hurt and become annoying, but remember how much energy it took for you to get up today. Praise yourself for doing the little things. Some days all I can manage to do is brush my hair, I don’t even get out of bed. Instead of thinking “all I did today was brush my hair” I try to think “I managed to brush my hair today. I did that all on my own, through the pain. I rock!”

That change in mindset can be hard, and it takes time, but I have faith you will get there!

Keep your head up!

 

~Maddie

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

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