Faith, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Wore My Illness: A Note on Mental Health

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I was honored to participate in The Heart Project, a project intended to end the stigma surrounding mental health. I decided to wear my illness and show it to the world, because I wanted to show what I am fighting each day, and come out from behind my mask of fineness and share my struggles, being honest with all of you beautiful people out there.

Depression: I was diagnosed with depression when I was in high school. It was my senior year, and I was struggling in so many different ways. Moods were constantly changing and I was more down than up, friends were worried about me, and scheduling meetings with school counselors to try and figure out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t pull myself out of the deep hole of sadness and uncontrollable moods that were constantly swirling around me. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and I could barely stay in school some days. It was hell, and I had no relief.

The diagnosis was the first hint of relief for me, the first sign that I had a light at the end of the tunnel of unknowing. The thing that I was fighting had a name, had a face, and had a community of people that fought to combat it every day. I had a support system, and a place to turn when I needed an ear, none of which would have been possible without that first trip to a therapist and a psychiatrist and trying to find a name for the beast.

Now, I have been on Lexapro for 7 years, been in therapy on and off, and am constantly working on my coping skills. By talking about my mental health, and the struggle I face every day, I am normalizing it, giving it a name and showing depression that it can’t beat me. Some days are better than others, as it is with all struggles, but I know that I can face each day confident that I am going to beat it because I have beat every day before it. The monster in the closet has a name: Depression, and I have a plan to defeat it.

Self-Harm: It was my number 1 coping skill for a long time, my way to escape from the world, and to give something physical to the pain that I felt inside. Too long I felt the pressure building up inside me, and taking a knife to my wrist was the only way that I could let it out. Hurting myself was how I expressed my pain; being mean to my body was how I felt better about the life I was living and the choices I made.

You don’t have to have a knife or a razor to self-harm. Even when I wasn’t cutting, I was calling myself stupid and worthless, wondering why I even deserved to live. Putting my body down, putting my choices down, and putting my life down every day, when I feel like I didn’t belong somewhere or my work hasn’t been up to snuff lately. Hurting myself took many shapes and forms, no matter if I had a sharp object in my hand or not.

March 13, 2015. The last day that I cut myself, put a knife to my wrist and opened it up. Not the last day I told myself something hateful (that was more like the night before last), but the healing journey is not a straight one. It has lumps and bumps like any other road. Every day I don’t cut myself is a victory for me.

PTSD: Was the diagnosis I got after leaving an abusive relationship. I was constantly having flashbacks of the torment I experienced, and once even thought I saw his car on the road, even though I now live 2 states away from him. He still haunts my nightmares occasionally, usually kidnapping me or looking for me no matter where I am. But I have moved on from him and his insanity, his putdowns and his insecurities. Sure, I am not perfect, but the flashbacks and nightmares have calmed down now, and I have learned new ways to combat them when they do arise. Of all the demons I’m fighting, his is the one I am best able to keep at bay.

Support: Here’s to all the people that are out there, struggling just like me. The people who feel they have no one else to turn to, who feel encased by the darkness, desperately looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s to the people who have monsters in the closet and inside of them, and who are seeking a way to fight them. Here’s to the people who get through just one more day, take life one day at a time, who hold the blade to their wrist and wish that they had the courage to open it up and let the blood flow freely, but make the decision to try to make it through just one more hour. Here’s to the people who hit a bump on the healing journey, who got off at a detour, or are just taking a pause while they recollect and try to see what happens next.

The semicolon that I have tattooed on my wrist demonstrates a reminder that a pause is not the end, only an invitation to keep going in a new direction. Just because there is a bump in the road, doesn’t mean the journey is over. There is no shame in taking a breather when you need to figure out what step to take next. The road is rocky, the journey is long, but it’s flanked with love and support along the way.

I’m here for you… You are not alone… I love you… You are strong… You are a warr;or, darling. Things will get better, just take it one day at a time. ♥

Stay fearless, friends (3)

 

P.S. I have joined a group of bloggers looking to put together a mental health awareness collaborative project. Have something you want to see? Have ideas? Fill out this survey and tell us! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HQ826JK

General, Life Talk, Real Talk

I Learned a Life Lesson at the Beach

This past weekend, I spent some time on Tybee Island down here in GA, with some friends. It was a typical summer day down south, which means that it felt like 110º in the shade, and the sun was blazing from the time we got there at 8:30am to the time we left at 2:30pm. Now, the beach is not my favorite thing in the world, but I love spending time in the water, and I was hoping to read an entire book, so I went along for the ride.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a proud BBW, or fluffy, woman. Extra stomach rolling over my waistband, a couple of chins in most pictures, 1.5 chins on a good day, some arms jiggles and thighs that spread like water in a pie tin when I sit down. I have since come to terms with the fact that I will never be a size 2, and have even come to realize that it’s not an obstacle in my dating life, which I long feared that it would be. I am always upfront about my body type, and if men don’t like it, they don’t have to talk to me. It’s really that simple. Still, as much as I have accepted my appearance and who I am, and am still working on body positivity, I sometimes worry how I will be perceived in the world because of my weight.

Hence why this weekend was such a major win for me.

How to Have a Beach Body-

Going to the beach, I was wearing a sports bra, athletic shorts and a long t-shirt that I sometimes use as a sleeping shirt. When we got there, I was determined not to take my shirt off, even though I knew it was going to be hot and everything that I was wearing was designed to dry quickly. As far as I’ve come with comfort with my body, and can even take my clothes off and have sex with a man, I didn’t want to expose my naked stomach to a bunch of strangers and beachgoers. I had images of men, women and children, even the lifeguards pointing at my large stomach and yelling “ewww!” and “gross!” and all over varieties of things that would make me feel self-conscious and not welcome on the beach because of my weight and would send me running back to the tent we set up in shame and disgust.

I got hot, wanted to go in the water, and still wanted to have something to wear for the car ride home, so I decided to take my shirt off and go in the water. As I walked to the water, I just had all the words of hatred and disgust in my head, people screaming and yelling “ewww! why don’t you cover yourself up? there are children here!!” and other kinds of nasty things at me. There were moments when I wanted to turn around and run back to my shirt, just to silence the voices in my head. (And by the way, this was not a long walk to the water.) While I loathe saltwater, I wanted to hurry up and get covered so that everyone would stop staring at me (all in my head, remember). Every step I took, the farther away I was from the water or my shirt, was another opportunity for someone to notice me and be disgusted.

But no one said a word.

I walked to the water undisturbed, unharmed, and possibly unnoticed, just another beachgoer who wanted to beat the heat and hang out in the ocean. No lifeguards screamed at me for people at risk, no mothers attempted to shield their children’s eyes, and no men came up and spat in my face and told me they were never going to date me. Just a young woman, who wanted to hang out and swim, and enjoy her Saturday at the beach, and not bother anyone. I wasn’t told to leave the beach and get my disgustingness away from everyone, and I had a relaxing time in the ocean and on the beach with my friends. And, I’ll tell you a little secret, I actually enjoyed how my body and fluffiness felt in the ocean waves: all free and easy, flowing with the movement of the ocean, and just doing whatever it pleased, taking a day off for itself too, just like me.

This experience was an eye-opening one for me, in a different way than normal. Everyday, I walk around with this body type, in clothes and dresses that make me feel beautiful, and people usually notice the confidence that I have, if they notice me at all. However, walking on the beach, with nothing on but a sports bra and some shorts, I felt exposed and open in a whole new way. But still, no one said anything. I realized that people have their own lives, their own families, and their own things to focus on other than one person walking down the beach leading with her stomach. While looking at the internet, you see people shaming large people all the time, most people in their daily lives don’t really care all that much whether or not the person walking past them is overweight or not. The voices inside my head are the things that hold me back the most, not the people on the street who make comments about my weight because, honestly, most people don’t care. I spent so much time worrying about whether or not people were taking time out their lives to look at me, when I should have been concerned more with myself and how I was feeling. I was taking a huge risk by exposing my naked stomach to the world, and I should have been proud of myself for that, and only thinking of the positive things. And, after realizing that no one else really cared but me, I was proud of myself. I took myself out of my shell a little bit, and I was ready to show the world how confident I was.

Size doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. Weight is a personal choice, and a personal thing. People have a lot of other things to worry about than what I look like. I am proud of myself, and proud of who I am. God gave me a big personality and He gave me a big body to hold it all in. And I thank him for it every day.

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Life Talk

Settling is Only Good if You’ve Discovered a New World

You hear it all the time: never settle for anything less than the extraordinary.  Never settle for anything that makes you unhappy.  Never settle for a person who treats you like a nobody just you can have somebody.  Never settle, never settle, never settle.  On a constant refrain from everyone in your life when you get disappointed, constantly in your head when you’re struggling with something that you’re not particularly jazzed about, even country songs are written about it.

All this talk about never settling and always striving for the extraordinary can be confusing, head spinning, and make you want to stop trying.  At least, that’s how I feel lately.  Despite all the things that I have going in my life right now, I’m feeling like I’m settling for some of the things that I have.

  • Job: For the last three years, I thought that I’ve known what I wanted to do, and have spent a lot of time chasing after those goals.  And now, after three years, countless hours of training, impassioned speeches and facts and figures, and even taking a job that was related to the field I want, but not quite in it was good enough.  Hell, taking two jobs in the periphery of the fields I want I thought was a good way to get me in the door of finding my true passion while I settled down and worked on what I wanted.  The key word though, was settled.  Still, I keep doing it because I do love helping the people who need it, even if I’m hesitant about the field I’ve chosen.
  • Boyfriends: This is probably the thing I have had THE MOST trouble with in the past few years.  Constantly floating around, going from guy to guy, just trying to have someone there who could hold me at night and give me wild sex when I wanted it.  Which of course resulted in a lot more nights crying into the pillow because I thought I wasn’t wanted by anyone or because I was being treated like lower than the dog shit he scrapes off his shoes after a 12 hour shift grinding the gears.  Settling for guys with no jobs, career prospects, money, futures, or even the will/means to take care of me.  And yet, I would have followed these guys anywhere if they’d asked me to, because they were mine.
  • Life: I didn’t end up where I thought that I would, not where I lived, what field I ended up working in (I went to college thinking that I’d be a publisher), or even my post-grad living situation.  I ended up struggling to make ends meet for three months with no income because I was too stubborn to accept defeat and move back home with my parents.  And yet, my stubbornness ended up with me settling for moving back home with my parents and getting jobs that I knew how to do to make some money.  I settled for a life that I was trying so hard to avoid because I was trying so hard not to settle for and made no plan to find another path to take.

Nelson Mandela

Tonight, I was talking to my mom about my life plan, where I wanted to go in this life and how I was going to start pursuing it when I felt like I had lost some motivation.  We talked about where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to get there.  Over dinner, we talked about a lot of things that were bothering me lately, and worked out where I thought I should be.

And I will tell you, it was an eyeopener for me.  I realized that I was letting myself get away with a lot of things, things that I would never let someone I loved get away with.  If I were to see my very best friend acting the way I am, settling for whatever she can get her hands on without putting in too much effort, including men, well, I’d have to slap her silly.  So I ask you, why should I let myself off the hook like that, when I’m supposed to be the one I love most?

Stay fearless, friends (3)

Faith, Feminism, General

Who I Am… And Welcome

WomenArePeopleFI

Welcome all to Fearlessly Flawed Feminist.  I am so excited to begin this process with everyone here, and I hope to meet more people as I continue through my journey.  Today, I want to take the time to introduce myself and talk a little about who I am, what I believe, and why I decided to start this blog.

I started this blog because I have a voice.  I have something to say, and I want to say it.  I believe that everyone out there in the world has something to say, and I want to be the one to listen to them.  We all have a story, we all have a voice, and we all deserve someone who will hear us, even if we have to shout.  And, in 2017, I have decided that I need to use my voice more.  I need to speak up when I have something to say and I need to not be afraid of the consequences if I believe in what I’m saying.

I am:

  • Fearless: Okay, so maybe this one is a stretch.  But I am working on being more fearless in raising my voice and speaking from my heart, not my mouth.  However, I believe in honesty, and not being afraid of telling the truth, so I’m fearless there as well
  • Flawed: The only person who is perfect is God, our Heavenly Father.  Me? I’m more of a trip over flat surfaces type.  I’m the person that you can count upon to give you a nice eye-roll worthy moment or that awkward giggle in passing, and probably will miss one or five subtle hints that you try to throw my way.  And lots not forget, I’m a Christian, but man, can I curse like a sailor.  But I’m okay with that.  Hell, I think it makes me more relatable.
  • Feminist: Came to this one rather late in life, and it’s one of the things that I believe in most passionately, and one of the things that I most want to work on through this blog.  (Recently, I have stumbled upon some good feminist Christian blogs and websites, so I cam curious to explore that concept as well.)  But call me crazy, I believe that men and women are people first, and should be treated equally.  Anyone who gets less than 5 years in prison for rape got off with a slap on the wrist, and any man who thinks that I can’t lift boxes as well as a man is kidding himself and I will just go lift these 12 boxes you have sitting over here, thank you very much.
  • Faithful: Lastly, but certainly not least, I am a daughter of God.  While there have been some pretty major detours in my faith journey, some that many other people have shared, and some that might make me unique.  Either way, I hope to grow in my faith and learning through this blog and this process, and open some dialogues with some of my readers.

I am so excited to begin this process with you all!

Stay fearless, friends (3)