Hello my beautiful followers!
Long time no see, eh? Well, I've had a ton going on so here's an update for you. Some good, and some well..... not so good.
I guess the biggest thing that's happened in my life since I've written last is I made the (terrifying) decision to go back to therapy. I had an amazing summer and things were great, but then when I got back on campus things started to be less than great and it quickly became something I couldn't handle on my own. I had a really hard time coping with the fact that I couldn't do it myself.
So many people see me as a strong recovery model and how I turned such negative things into something positive. But only a few people get to see the side of me that I don't show publicly. While yes, it is true that I have made amazing progress and I am doing something positive with my experiences, I struggle with my inner demons more than I let on. That's a completely normal part of recovery and life in general.
I really love that people acknowledge the good things I'm doing, don't get me wrong. It makes me feel amazing and strong and empowered. However, when people acknowledge the positive things I'm doing, it's hard for me to hear what they're saying because they only know one side of the story.
They see that I post things on Facebook about good coping mechanisms, but they don't see that I had a panic attack Tuesday night. They see how vocal I am about mental health awareness, but they don't see that I look in the mirror and pick out every single flaw on my body. They see that I respond to hate with poise, but they don't see that the hate tears down my self esteem that I have fought desperately to build back up. It's exhausting.
And quite honestly, I don't know how to deal with the conflicting voices on my own. So I decided to do something about it, and it's made a world of difference. No, I'm not 100%, but I'm not where I was and I'm making progress. That's what counts.
I'm also in my second year of college, it's pretty great! I've hit some bumps in the road - a family emergency and adding a second major all adds a healthy bit of chaos to my pretty quiet life.
In my first semester I've talked on two separate panels to a group of freshmen. I talked on one about sexuality, and one about mental illness.
Talking about my sexuality to a group of students who genuinely wanted to learn and not judge was the most liberating experience. I like to say that being pansexual (gender doesn't play a significant role in who you fall in love with) is something I'm proud of, but at the same time it's also a pretty isolating feeling. Not a ton of people understand it, and even less people accept it. But it felt so good to be able to talk to open minded individuals.
On Tuesday, I talked to the same group of freshman on a panel about coping with mental illness. I got to speak, alone with some of my peers, about what it feels like to live with a mental illness and how I cope with it in college. Not only am I sure the students learned something from the panel, but I definitely learned a few other coping strategies myself from listening to my friends speak about their own experiences. I also felt so much less isolated. When you deal with mental illness on a college campus it can be a really lonely experience. Yeah, that's true for so many other places, but I have noticed it so much more in college than I ever did in high school or anywhere else. In college it's so easy to shut yourself off from the world because you usually don't have someone making sure you're going to every class or making sure you're spending time with people. It's really independent and it's really easy to just skip a day of classes or to not make plans with friends for weeks - which just adds to the loneliness you already feel. I could talk for hours about dealing with mental illness at college, but I'll save that for another post.
Given that speaking and educating about mental illness is what I want to do in life, you can imagine how amazing I felt afterwards. I have my website which is an open platform, but speaking face to face with students was everything I could have hoped for and more. To add to that incredible feeling, I had a student approach me afterwards about how she was dealing with her mental health and she wasn't sure what to do about it. I could go over the whole conversation but it wouldn't help get me to my point - which is I was amazed that the things I said had such an impact to make her feel like she could trust me enough to guide her to help and listen to her. It makes me warm and fuzzy inside just to think about.
So that's a small update on my life. I've had some struggles lately but I'm thankfully able to get the help I need for them. I have good days but I have also had some really shitty days lately. The important thing is that I'm trying and right now I can't do a whole lot more. I am however back to updating weekly, and I'm so excited to be writing for you all again.