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A Lesson in Living

Before I start my post, I have to say that I know I am blessed in many ways, and that my experience with depression is not the worst thing that could happen to me. I know there is very real suffering all over the world… destruction and death, and that I am lucky to have a future at all. Sometimes I post about other people’s stories who have had it worse than I do, and I really try to count my blessings as I do so.

So, thanks for bearing with me, and that said, I read an interesting article today on the “Crazy Sexy Life” blog which really resonated with me. It’s called “Five Lessons Tragedy Taught Me About Living.” The author unfortunately was a bystander at King’s Cross station when it was bombed in 2005, and was so shaken by the experience that she found recovering from it difficult and drawn out. She now calls herself a survivor, and the article she wrote comprises of her reflections and her tips on getting through difficult times.

http://crazysexylife.com/2011/five-lessons-tragedy-taught-me-about-living/

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The link to the article is above, and following are my favorite sections of it.

“This experience shook me to my very core. I was left feeling unbearable sadness, hopelessness and traumatized as any person would be. Yet, in the weeks and months that followed, I realized I could choose how to respond to the experience, and I could grow from it.

My path since this day has been one that amazes me to look back on; my life has changed so dramatically. But the most amazing thing is that all these changes were for the better. I am healthier, happier, stronger and finally following my heart and living the life I had always dreamed of. That is why I don’t call myself a victim of the London bombings. Instead I’m a survivor of the London bombings. I survived that day and created a better life for myself.”

“Flood the world with love and compassion and help heal the world. Every bit of love, every bit of understanding, every bit of non-judgment you send out will be felt and appreciated by those around you. These emotions are so health giving and powerful that they can shift negativity, take the edge off trauma and provide a shiny light at the end of a tunnel of gloom.”

Choose to take the gifts of learning from all experiences: the good, the bad and the awful. There is always something we can take from our experiences to grow and use in a positive way.

I took that experience and let it force me to embrace who I was and who I wanted to be. I made the hard decisions I’d been avoiding. I chose a long and challenging path to wellness. I chose to take every right, wrong, advantage, disadvantage, experience, friend, loved one and moment from my life and embrace them wholeheartedly, to love my life, my mind, my body and my health. I chose to take these things and work towards a life where I can be sharing my story with you, right now, and hopefully helping you realize everything you are capable of, right now, just as you are.

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I sometimes feel like I’m two different people. On one hand, I have a hard time simply getting myself through the day, and on those days I end up sleeping more, and thinking more negative thoughts than positive. On the other hand, I really want to do things, so that I can make the most of this experience. I want to study and learn things and develop new qualities that will allow me to say “I am a better person now, because I dealt with depression.” So I try to push myself, but a lot of the time I find it difficult to get my moving on my ideas and I end up a bit disheartened.

This article resonated with me because I realized that it is only with love, understanding, and non-judgment that I can heal, and when I’m up for it, entertain my ideas. I think that I can push myself to do things that are good for me, like taking a long walk when I feel going back to bed, or studying for an hour or two when my concentration isn’t there, but overall, I shouldn’t expect so much from myself, because the whole problem right now is that I’m not able to put myself out there and live life day to day. My focus should be there, it should be on taking care of myself and rebuilding my thoughts and confidence so that I can have that again. That’s what matters, so if I have to focus what feels like my limited energy on anything, it should be on whatever will help me feel better and back to life again. I’m finding that therapy, diet changes, exercise such as a brisk walk or a yoga session, meditating, studying, listening to music, watching movies/tv/reading books (as much as I feel like a bit of couch potato), and just simply talking to friends and family and maybe my dog, lol, help me so much.

And I think that is good enough, and enough for me to ask of myself right now.

In the article, the author asked, if you had one day to live, what would you do? My answer to that is different than it would have been a couple of years ago. I might have said that I want to skydive, tell some guy I love him (a few years ago I was like, 19 years old lol), hop a plane and a train to an exotic place, etc. etc. But honestly, right now, it would just be to have a happy, peaceful day. Maybe walk my dog, get dressed, eat nice food, do some nice yoga, hug a friend, learn something, and enjoy that day without a care in the world.

I know I’m going to be okay, I can feel it in my bones, and even though I am struggling and I’m young and life shouldn’t be this hard, I think that I’m gonna make it. So with that in mind, I just wanna live like it’s my last day, and just enjoy that experience of being alive. I must remember that each day is a step forward, that little positive things will add up, and most importantly, that I’m already doing it…I’m already being a better person when I treat myself and then others with love, understanding, and non-judgment.

And that’s good with me.

Happy Monday<3

Getting Focused

I’ve come to realize that a big part of my depressive thinking style has me feeling worried, guilt ridden, and anxious much of the time. I worry so much sometimes that I find it difficult to feel positive, and I also have a hard time acknowledging anything I do to help myself as a step forward.

I’m ready to change this.

Two weeks of journaling about my thoughts and goals, as well as an insurance scare that had me thinking I wouldn’t be able to continue therapy has pushed me to come a place where I have cultivated very real and pretty exciting goals.

Okay! so, my online classes through Northeastern are going well, and by getting in touch with a few friends who have the same major as me, I’ve come to learn about a research opportunity being offered at Rutgers University called Project Learn. It’s a summer internship that gives students a place to live on campus with a stipend for their expenses, and connects them with a professor to do research in the health field. Many students do it after their junior year, which for me will be the summer after next. I have to apply to it with a resume, good academic record, and essays about my research interests, and since I have quite some time before that summer comes around, I can work towards getting to a place where I feel ready to do some volunteer work at a local hospital and get involved in some community activities before I apply, which will give me some good experience for my application. I feel happy about this, because it feels uplifting to have a nice opportunity like that to work towards, and the friends I have that did it said that they got to meet a lot of people, which I think would be good for me, in addition to getting to see my long missed friends around the time that I would like to volunteer.

Also, as far as feeling comfortable in my own skin again, I have noticed that my hair has been steadily improving. It has its natural texture and curl back, it is shiny, and it feels strong. The only thing is that I have a lot of breakage so it still looks frizzy and uneven, but I know that it is only a matter of time before I can eliminate that as well by staying away from a lot of heat styling and getting trims. For awhile I was upset that I was going to be left with short and dark hair, albeit healthy, but I have decided that come next fall, I am going to get a small part time job so that I can afford to get my hair blown out and styled once a week at a salon. I’ve come a long way in eliminating my feelings of guilt and worrying about my unhappiness about my appearance, and I just truly think that I deserve to feel happy and comfortable in my own skin, and if it means putting in extra effort into looking nice and presentable, than I feel that I am doing the right thing. Also, with the extra effort of dressing nicely and doing my hair and makeup, I at least know that I will be more inclined to be productive and active in my day, because that is a different feeling than being okay with being in sweats for the day.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine encouraged me to stay busy and focused on where I want to be. I wasn’t sure that I could do it at the time, because while I’ve been working towards doing better for a long time, I just didn’t know where I wanted to end up. I felt so torn down that I didn’t know what I wanted, or what I could have anymore, and that was heartbreaking.

I’m happy to say that I basically have three major goals that I would like work towards for next fall. In no particular order, they are to take care of myself mentally and physically, to continue studying and working towards being social again (with plans to see my friends, volunteer in the community and put myself on track for the Project Learn opportunity),  and the most exciting one, which is to continue singing and to learn how to play guitar over this next year, which has forever been a dream of mine.

Getting clear on my goals and my vision feels like a powerful step forward, and a good place to act from. Everyday can be a step forward, and that is so uplifting. I need to keep myself super busy, because the only time that I can stop my train of thoughts is when I’m focused on tasks. I don’t want to think anymore. I know what I want, and I am getting focused.

That being said, it’s sobering when your problems seem so small compared to the suffering others can experience. I can’t believe that another natural disaster has occurred in the world, and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, may the country recover safely and as soon as possible<3 .

Kelsey’s Giveaway

Gotta love getting special packages in the mail <3.

Love the squirrel sticker.

 

Thank you so much Kelsey! You are a wonderful friend as well, and this definitely put a smile on my face =).

Never Say Never

I was expecting to come back to the blog and post more of my eats, but this past week turned out to be very meditative for me. I found out last week that my health insurance has changed and my therapist is no longer part of our network, which means that if I want to continue to see her I will have to pay the full amount for our sessions. I’ve been able to attend therapy at a total bargain with insurance, paying about six or seven dollars per session. Without insurance, her fee is $125 per hour, not exactly affordable.

So, not knowing how things were going to work out, I spent the past week in a sort of ‘meditative state,’ kind of keeping to myself as I assessed where I am now, how far I’ve come, what has changed, and how I’d like to see myself moving forward. When I went in for my session yesterday afternoon, I was able to have a really productive session. I started by talking about an outing that I had with my parents last week. My brothers weren’t available to come out to eat with us, so it turned out to be just my parents and I. My siblings have always been my buffer when it comes to family outings with our parents, but this time there was nothing separating me from their vibes–they don’t have a good relationship, which makes them unable to work together as a parental unit, which is really never much fun to be around. Don’t get me wrong, I love them for doing what they can for me, they do well providing me with some things I need, but I definitely had a moment at that dinner where I sensed that I am essentially raising myself. This is all very deep and personal, but one thing I know for sure is that I have been raising myself for most of my life. It’s not an easy thing to do, and having the opportunity to do some powerful work in therapy has been priceless for me, because it gave me an opportunity to have a helpful adult in my life to talk to and help me tap into certain qualities that can help me do a better job of this in the future. As a direct result of therapy, I can say that I am now a more resourceful and purposeful person, more open to learning, and more loving, all qualities that I can already feel are allowing me to set out and sort of ‘recreate’ myself.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to my therapy sessions, there’s a negotiating process going on right now, but overall I can firmly say that they have truly helped me.

On a slightly different note, on Friday afternoon I also went out and saw Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” movie. I know what you’re likely thinking, but I promise, it was great! It was more of a documentary, and I loved it. What can I say? I laughed, I cried, I sang… the kid works hard and what I loved even more was his natural talent, charisma, and genuine spirit. He’s a sweet and humble person, and I was inspired.  I’ve been vibing to his music all day today, and it’s got me looking forward to the life that I can have as a reward for turning my experience with depression into an opportunity to grow and better myself. I know there’s a reason that I’ve had to battle this illness, and I think that I’m coming close to being able to say that I am happy in the present. Getting up each morning is sort of turning into a personal growth project for me, and it’s all a bit exciting.

In the meantime, I’ve got some weekly exams to finish up, so I’ll be back soon to follow up on some eats and things.

<3

 

New Groceries

Groceries =). I made a grocery list of whatever I may need in order to adopt a nutritious, mostly plant based diet that I’m hoping will support me in my efforts to overcome my obstacles. Seen in the picture are a mix of groceries from Sam’s Club, Walmart (they have the cheapest sweet potatoes, it’s wonderful), Whole Foods, and some items I already had at home.

I’ve put together plenty of greens and veggies: Spring Greens, Kale, Romaine, Spinach, Celery, Sweet Potatoes and Squash (which are supposed to be very soothing on the digestive system), and cucumber. There are also more veggies in the fridge =).

Gluten free grains: Brown Rice Tortillas (a discovery made on Kelsey’s blog), Quinoa, and Millet

Animal products: I initially felt that I could do well on a vegetarian diet, but in the last few weeks I’ve been having really strong sugar cravings and haven’t been feeling well. I decided to incorporate chicken and fish into my diet. I cooked the chicken last night and froze it along with the salmon so that I can have meat once in a while.There’s also some goat cheese there which I read is easiest to tolerate, but I tried it and really didn’t like it unfortunately.

Some condiments and things: Light Coconut Milk (The organic Whole Foods Brand was cheaper than most commercial brands which was a pleasant suprise), Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar which is supposed to be very helpful with digestion, coconut water, and NuNatural Stevia drops.

I also bought a box of gluten free cookies which are so.yummy.

and some small air tight jars to store my grains in.

Overall, I had a nice time shopping and I’m looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen.

<3

Sweet Disposition

Sweeeet…Diispoosition <3Listening to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack right now =). It’s one of my fav. movies and the music is one of the reasons why.

To recap the week, I spent much of my time finishing up my school work for my Public Health class, which ended today. I also had a midterm exam in my Biology class, and was somewhat unpleasantly reminded of what it’s like to have to spend hours studying and preparing. Thank God that’s over (for now, lol). Now that the school-consumed week has passed, I finally have a couple of days to regroup and focus fully on the steps I’m trying take towards making improvement. This week, I got back into email correspondence with Rebekah, who pens a blog at clarityincreation.blogspot.com–I’m having trouble linking websites on these posts and it’s getting annoying–but anyway, Rebekah is a sweet penpal who is a great listener, lender of advice, and who never fails to ask caring and engaging questions.

In her last email, she asked me this: “can i ask you a question? is your hair and skin the worst of what happened, or was there something deeper? because hair and skin doesn’t sound like “losing health” to me. i know it was crippling, don’t get me wrong! but that’s just on the OUTSIDE… is it possible you are far healthier than you realize? i would hate for you to look back on your 20s and realize you spent most of them just…. waiting. how sad, right?”

I did email her back and provide her with more details, but I still kept the question with me all this week, because I felt the need to answer it in the most truthful and best possible way. I do know there is absolutely so much more behind it, as I’m learning in therapy as time goes on. As for explaining my situation as ‘losing my health,’ I believe that I am using ‘health’ in a different way. It’s gotten much better, but I have been struggling with a depression that crippled my ability to live my life. A few months ago I read an interesting article by a doctor whose purpose it was to help people heal their depression. He said in the article that with billions of people in the world, there isn’t any individual anywhere that’s suffering from a problem that someone else in the world has also suffered from without getting depressed. His point was that whatever the problem is, there is something deeper to uncover, and when that’s addressed, there is a way to come out of it. Going back to the question of health, ‘losing health’ to me means a loss of a healthy mind and soul, in addition to struggling with my physical appearance, with other physical problems such as very low energy and stomach problems. By no means do I compare myself to people with chronic diseases or illnesses, but to me, that is ‘losing health.’

As of recently, I’ve really been getting the sense that I am doing important inner work by addressing past experiences and thought patterns, which is helping me grow and change in ways that give me more confidence that should I pick up and move on, I can feel the peace of knowing that I will not run myself into the ground again. Not that whatever has happened is mine or anyone else’s fault, as a good friend of mine told me, “shit happens.”

I’m still continuing to learn and grow as time goes on, but the time has come for me to practice taking control of my body and my mind, so that I can create a future. I think I’m getting stronger and clearer in what it is that I want, who I want to be (I’m sure this will always be growing and shifting), and how I’m going to get there. I can tell that I’m getting stronger because the concept of age isn’t affecting me so much anymore. I hope that soon enough I can feel a better quality of life through my own efforts to feel better and take care of myself, and I think that right now I just need to trust myself (so long as I know I’m doing the necessary work that it takes to progress and heal). I have many more years left in my twenties, and if I spend the better part of their beginning doing strong inner work and guiding myself towards healthy goals and a healthy mindset, then I am peaceful, and maybe getting happier about it.

I had a lot of trouble answering Rebekah’s question at first, and one thing that helped me do it was a lucky random subscription I made to a motivational speaker’s blog. His name is Dr. Sukhi, and this week I got a series of five videos in my email mailbox that basically summarized what his message to people is all about. As someone who struggled with making his life work for him, he has done a lot of work throughout his life and is in a place where he wants to share what helped him get through things and reach a happy place (I may be getting sappy, sorry). I got ‘part 5′ today and I just really resonated with all of his ideas and strategies. He is a powerful speaker and his message is so genuine. The link is here:

http://www.drsukhi.com/5-step-manifesting-formula-video-5

I think anyone and everyone could benefit from his advice.

So I’ll leave it at that…I’m making trips to Costco and Whole Foods in the next couple of days to acquire what I need for my diet change and will be back soon!

Ode to Natural Hair =)

Well there won’t be any poem about it, but I’ve been noticing that my hair is starting to improve lately. Such a relief, and a helpful reminder that nothing is permanent.

…except for all of the hair coloring I used to do! Now that I’m beginning to get reintroduced to a fresh new head of hair, I’m realizing that I don’t know if I could ever stomach using hair dye again. But it makes me nervous because I have a feeling (highly likely that it is a silly, unnecessary feeling) that I can’t look good without highlights or color =\. Thanks, by the way, Ravi/Rebekah/Hayley for the incredibly nice comments you’ve left on this blog so far.

So to help me change my mindset, I set out in search of inspiring natural hair.

Aishwarya Rai has pretty, warm hair…but a quick search led me to a picture of her more natural look.

I think I actually prefer it dark!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shay Mitchell is an actress that’s currently appearing in

“Pretty Little Liars.” She also has great natural hair.

I love the idea of focusing on my health and building new self confidence that way. Restful nights, eating fresh foods, green juices, and smoothies, drinking enough water, meditating, doing yoga, spending time outdoors in nature, exercising, practicing gratitude, getting dressed everyday and believing that I am healthy and happy, focusing on my schoolwork, reading and learning with an open mind, staying loving when I feel bitter, and of course…daily chocolate. Maybe in moderation. =)

I guess it’s a good thing I won Kelsey’s giveaway over at snackingsquirrel.com. I’ve never won a giveaway and this was very exciting, lol. Thank you Kels!

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