{SB2K16} GULF SHORES: DAY ONE

Dear Reader,

I’ve never been on a “rowdy” Spring Break trip before, so when my friend came to me and said I could go to Gulf Shores with him and some guys for $200 (which clearly beats the alternative of going back to the middle of nowhere for a week), I happily jumped on board.

So that’s how I ended up sharing a condo with three complete strangers, one acquaintance, two good friends, and a guy I haven’t even met yet (who is coming tomorrow).

We left Oxford at 5 this morning (after a nice McDonalds breakfast) and started the twelve-hour road trip to Alabama, already slightly behind schedule.

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But after only a few pit stops

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and some traffic

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we finally made it to our condo on the beach.

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I’ve decided I kind of want to keep my blog updated with the details of this adventure because 1) I don’t get a lot of opportunities to travel these days and 2) there’s sure to be some things worth documenting on this trip.

I already have some concerns.

My biggest is probably the fact that over 600 arrests have already been made in Gulf Shores since Spring Break “season” has begun (about two weeks ago). We’ve already seen tons of cops and cars being pulled over–even a Domino’s delivery car was pulled over on the main stretch by our place.

It just seems that they’re really cracking down and, although I know that I can personally handle the temptation of drinking on the beach, I’m worried that we could get into some serious trouble down here.

Another thing is that the friend of mine that arranged this is a pretty petty person. He just blows things way out of proportion and tends to make a bigger deal than ever needs be. Already on the way down here, he was starting things by constantly complaining about his need to be the “lead” car.

This, as I’m sure you can imagine, can get really annoying, and this quality is only amplified when alcohol is involved.

Fortunately, there are two other groups of people in the fraternity that he’s in that we can hang out with, and there are two other groups of people in the sorority that Paige (the other girl in our group) and I will most likely be spending some time with when the sausage fest becomes too exhausting.

And lastly, I’m worried about myself. Self esteem has never been my strong suit, and while I thought I made a lot of progress in Hilton Head, I realized the fact that it was strictly family really helped. So far I’ve only seen a handful of girls in bathing suits here (it’s cold and cloudy and we got here around dinner), but they all have flat abs and skinny thighs.

And, of course, we have the fact that I’m currently hiding out in the bedroom writing this blog post instead of drinking with the people I’ll be living with for the next week.

That’s half because I’m exhausted from hardly sleeping last night, and also half because we only have beer and I think my beer gut is far big enough for the moment.

So I’m worried I’m going to be a little more reserved this week or just simply sadder because I still hate how I look. I still don’t know how not to without changing it, and I still haven’t gotten around to putting in the effort to make that change.

So for now I’m stuck in a body I despise with the knowledge that it’s purely my own fault.

Okay, I really didn’t mean for this to become another one of those posts where I’m hard on myself and harping on my thoughts, but I can’t say I’m surprised it took that turn when the fact that I’ll be spending the next seven days in bathing suits on the beach is my reality.

I am really excited for the trip, though. I know a ton of people down here and the ones I’ve just met seem to be a lot of fun already.

And hey, it’s spring break!

No time to be stressed about things that don’t matter.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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MY MEETING WITH STANDARDS (HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO ME)

This Friday I really only got out of bed two times, and only to get food or go to the bathroom. I slept a lot, I missed my one class, and I really didn’t do anything productive.

I had a few days like that last semester, except the doctor had a different name to explain it. That was called “depression”, whereas Friday’s diagnosis could just be called the flu or a head cold. But the difference is that I didn’t need to go anywhere to get that diagnosis because I knew I could basically just sleep it off, drink some orange juice, eat lots of sodium (for my POTS), and in a few days it would correct itself.

I didn’t know that last semester. Or even throughout freshman year, for that matter. I didn’t know if I’d ever wake up, not feeling heavy, or numb, or just yearning to feel something. I didn’t know if a day would go by where I didn’t cry or I didn’t constantly think about dropping out of school, or just quitting. I didn’t know what these feelings were and that they even had a name, and that’s mostly because of the stigma behind terms like “depression” and “anxiety” and “ADD.”

There’s this statistic I read somewhere about people who take their own lives, and how they normally don’t have that feeling of community–whether it’s a support system or a church group or just close friends or family. In many senses of the word, they feel alone.

When I joined Phi Mu, I felt less alone. We had a sleepover before initiation and we went around the room and talked about the best time and the worst time of our lives. I was so moved by the openness of everyone and the atmosphere that was created–people talked about drugs, rape, the death of loved ones, even stories of walking in on a brother attempting suicide. Nothing was held back because these were all stories of things we had overcome. And now we had each other as a support system, should we need it. We knew what everyone went through at their worst, and we felt less alone.

My story of seeking out therapy after a professor referred me (due to a few rather dark, personal essays) seemed trivial in comparison, but I got a lot of love for sharing. And a few months later, a girl in my pledge class reached out to me with questions about it, because she was feeling the same way and wanted to find a professional to talk to.

Depression isn’t some rare, terminal disease that needs to be whispered about, but sometimes it is. People don’t know that much about it, and it’s because people are afraid to talk. I didn’t even know until last month that my ADD medicine can sometimes be deemed useless due to my depression. The brain is confusing AF, and we shouldn’t be scared off from trying to understand it and talk to one another about it. Because when we don’t, that’s when people can slip through the cracks.

Tomorrow I have a meeting because right now I’m on probation for not meeting grades–meaning that last semester I received a GPA of 2.6, which was actually pretty surprising for me. I mean, I didn’t think I did that bad. But I guess I did, and that requires a punishment–a probation period–because I didn’t meet standards.

And it’s interesting, because you could ask me anything about the Shakespeare plays I read or the media and communication class I took. Ask me about rhetoric or geography or how to write a solid news story for video or promote literacy in a high school class, and I could answer. I did learn a lot last semester, but just not in time, I guess. I didn’t always meet deadlines, I didn’t always go to class, and you can’t reward that behavior. It’s not fair to.

So tomorrow I’ll have to sit in front of a committee and give my side of the story, because although the numbers don’t lie, they never tell the full truth either. And it’ll be good practice for me, I guess, because I know that for the rest of my life, I’ll have to fight to be seen as more than a number. More than a transcript of grades or a piece of paper. Because I know I’ll be able to make a great teacher or a journalist or whatever I choose to do, and I know that this education will help me in the future, but the numbers aren’t really helping my case right now.

And it’s funny because I can tell them all that I’ve learned. I can tell them about all the wonderful relationships I have with my professors, and I can even talk about the article I’m co-authoring that’s going to go in some scholarly journal at the end of the semester, but they won’t really care about that. Because I could contribute all I have and work to the most of my ability, but if I don’t make grades, I could be dropped from Phi Mu, no questions asked.

So tomorrow, I don’t really know what I’m going to say. All I know is that at the end, I’ll ensure them that this semester is going to be better. I take adderall in the morning and citalopram at night. I have a supportive doctor and supportive friends. I’ve finally told my full family about what’s been going on with me. I haven’t had a panic attack in a month, and I even have a therapist I can turn to, should I need even more help. And I’ll end by saying that so far, I have all A’s, because that might be the only thing they really want to hear.

Because, again, we don’t know how to validate anything if we can’t quantify it.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. You should listen to this wonderful song by Dodie Clark:

{VIDEO} MY PILL JOURNEY: KELSEY DARRAGH

Dear Reader,

I went to the doctor’s today and I had an entire blog post written about it, all ready to post, but I decided to save it. At least for now. I’m just trying to figure out my feelings at this point and I normally don’t push “publish” unless I’m certain of my thoughts.

But not much is certain for me at this point. Except this video.

Buzzfeed had this “Mental Health Week” (which I loved) and this video is one of my favorites. I watched it within the first hour or so it was posted and about halfway through I realized that it was Kelsey Darragh telling her story.

I love Kelsey. If she’s in a Buzzfeed video, I automatically love it so much more. She’s absolutely hilarious, which is why she’s often featured in the “People Try” and “Debatable” videos. But she’s also so real and insightful, which is why she’s featured in videos like, “I’m Bipolar But I’m Not…” and this one: “My Pill Journey.”

I so relate to this story. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with ADD. I think I tried four or five different medications because of things like my insurance or certain side effects like increased heart palpitations.

(In fact, it was that medication that led me to be diagnosed with POTS.)

And today I was given another prescription for antidepressants.

Because apparently depression and ADD have a venn-diagram-like-relationship in which not all depressed people have ADD and not all people with ADD are depressed, but when there is that overlap, medication tends to not have the desired effect. So you kind of have to take both to get what you want.

And that’s still what I’m trying to figure out: what do I want? What do I want to sacrifice in order to be happy? What do I accept as personality traits and what do I turn to medication to change?

That’s what my original blog post talked about, but it was kind of a mess because I simply don’t have the answers.

This video gives me hope, though. It comforts me and makes me feel not so alone. I’ve watched it over a dozen times and shared it with a lot of people–and today I’m sharing it with you.

I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

FINDING THE HAPPY

Dear Reader,

I’ve been reading a blog lately, and I think it’s bad for me.

It is a blog of someone I went to high school with–someone who is going through some very real things right now. He doesn’t know that I read his blog, and I probably won’t ever tell him because I feel like I’m invading his privacy in a way. Plus I’m going to try to stop.

He uses his blog as a journal. As therapy. Which is great! But it’s also very real. Uncut. Raw. Dramatic, but also serious. And just downright depressing. But I read it and I relate so. Much. Not with the cutting or the psych ward or the anorexia. No, he has very real problems that I am not about to sit here and pretend like I understand. But I relate to the social anxiety and the self loathing and the depressing thoughts and the overwhelming feeling like you’re drowning and you don’t know whether to stay or go and all you want is someone you can turn to.

And often I find myself inspired to vent my own feelings after reading posts from him. I just finished reading about his awful birthday this year, and I almost made a blog post about my own. About how I cried so much on my birthday this year. How I walked in the rain because it was so fitting somehow. And how I told everyone who asked that “yeah my birthday was good! Uneventful, but good.”

And then the next day I got blackout drunk.

But I began thinking about this blog post and I realized the turn that my blog has taken. I went from writing “Motivational Mondays” at 8 in the morning to “Late Night Thoughts” at 3am.

But I don’t want that. I have my journal for that. I want this blog to be something different. My latest post was a “thank you for 300” and I sincerely mean that. I like sharing cool things with people on the internet. I like it when people follow me and like my posts and comment and relate. And while I can still use is as this therapy and this creative outlet, I don’t want it to turn into this mess of depression.

Here’s the bottom line. Whenever my blog thrives and is filled with happy posts, I do okay. Not every minute of every day, but it generally means that I’m in a happy period of my life. But when I wallow in self pity, things go bad.

So I’m making a change. I’m going to make a conscious effort to notice the good in my life. I’m even thinking of taking part in #100HappyDays. tumblr_m6yho4FApm1ralymko1_500It’s not about ignoring the bad days, it’s about finding the the singular positive moments in each day.

And, hopefully soon enough, it won’t even seem like I’m looking.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK TWELVE: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (and intro to my own Happiness Project)

Dear Reader,

I adore this book. I picked it up at a bookstore in Columbus (post about that road trip coming soon) and immediately started reading it when I got home. And I don’t mark in every book I buy, but about four pages in, I knew I would have to for this.

Whether or not you want to start your own happiness project, I would recommend that you read this book. It’s full of awesome quotes, really cool resources (how did I not know about the website lulu.com???), and good tips on how you should go about making yourself happier. I finished this book last night and I already have a mental list of people I want to lend this to to read, as well as an actual list of resolutions I want to start implementing in my life.

In 16 days, I go back to school. And while I’m extremely excited, I’m also kind of nervous as well. I haven’t talked about it on here yet (though I’m sure I alluded to it), but freshman year was really hard for me. I found myself struggling with feelings of unhappiness and signs of depression–which was very new to me. But this year, I’m determined to be better.

So today, on August 1st, 2015, I am starting my own Happiness Project. I may not be as prepared as Gretchen was when she started hers, and it may seem kind of weird to start a year-long project in August, but waiting until January seems dumb to me. I don’t want to wait. I can’t wait.

So today, it begins.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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MY WEEK IN HILTON HEAD

Dear Reader,

When I was younger, my family used to take a trip to Hilton Head about every other summer, but somewhere along the way the tradition died. So this year, we decided to bring it back, and it turned out to be one of my favorite weeks I’ve had this year.

This is that week.

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It all began with two days spent in the car, which Sarah documented with ugly selfies of us for her snap chat story.

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Then we showed up to the condo and met up with the rest of our family. It consisted of my parents, my grandparents, my aunt Susie, her son Mac and his girlfriend Ashley, and then my sister, Caitlin, my brother-in-law, Zac, and their baby, Molly.

Molly sort of stole the show for the whole week, but can you blame her?

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And all in all, it was a very relaxing week. We got henna tattooes.

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We found an “Island Bagel & Deli,” where we rode our bikes to one morning.

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We had family jam sessions where Mac would play the chords to songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Hey Jude, and American Pie, and the rest of us would attempt to sing along.

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We went to the beach, which I found out that I hate, but took pretty pictures nonetheless.

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And there was an awesome rainbow one day!

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We sort of recreated a picture from our childhood (sorry I don’t have the original).

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And we continued to take ugly selfies.

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But then our seven days on the island came to an end, so we said our goodbyes, took our last pictures with Molly,

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and headed back to Ohio, all promising that this is the start of a new family tradition, and we will return.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

INFINITY DREAMS AWARD

Dear Reader,

The other day I was nominated by Nysha for an award (thanks again, girl!) that I haven’t seen around yet, which got me very excited. Even more than that, this award is about dreams and ambitions, and anyone who knows me knows that I have had some crazy ones in the past. I’d like to think they’re more refined now (I no longer aspire to be a lounge singer in England or a truck driver for a year), but I still try to live by this age-old sentiment:

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Anyway, I think that’s enough of my rambling. Let’s get onto what this award is!

The rules are:

  • link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • list 7 dreams
  • nominate other bloggers

The dreams:

Travel the world with my sister and document our journey via video and blog posts and travel journals. Collect stories and memories and knowledge through experience on the way.

Publish a book. The “old fashioned” way. No kindle or ebook publications will suffice when I go to check off this goal. I want to see my thoughts come alive on paper and I want to search through bookstores just to see my name in print again. I want these stories I’ve created to be told, and I want to have hard evidence of that achievement on my bookshelf when I’m older.

Learn to play the accordion. It’s going to happen, people. Mark my words.

Live in New York City. Maybe a few stories above a frozen yogurt place or a small bakery or an antique store or something. (This is how I’ve always imagined it). Have my own spot at Central Park where I can be frequently found. Be able to see all of my favorite musicals and plays on Broadway (and off). Go to the Tony Awards. This one really encompasses a lot of the other dreams I have, and I guess that’s just because New York is the place where I see these dreams coming true.

Travel to Thailand and swim with elephants. This has been a dream of mine since the day, maybe three years ago, that I found out it was possible (via Pinterest). It’s been #1 on my buck list ever since.

Run a Half-Marathon. Considering I haven’t even ran a 5k yet, this one is nothing more than a dream at the moment, but one day it will happen. I’m thinking the Princess half marathon in Disney World.

Cook Thanksgiving Dinner. This one may seem weird, but it is a dream of mine to one day be surrounded by a group of people I love. I don’t know how many of these people I’ve already met, but I see myself spending all day cooking with them, enjoying each other’s company and having a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

The nominations: 

The Old Fellow Goes Running

Britta Bottle

The Happy Lifeaholic 

Lisa Tiller

Thinking Out Loud

Mary’s Average Adventures

Sparkle and Shine

FAMTAQ

Girl in Between

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Happy Canada Day everyone 🙂