A DAY I WON’T FORGET

Dear Reader,

I’ve probably written about 5 things this week that could constitute as blog posts, but I keep thinking “stop! what are you doing? this is a happy blog! this is a place where you appreciate the good, not harp on the bad!” But I just don’t think that’s the truth anymore. Maybe I’ve just tried to protect myself from the repercussions of exposing the truth of how I’ve been feeling (for quite a while, actually), but I don’t think I can do that any longer.

So let me tell you about my day.

I woke up at 3AM on Thursday morning and cried for over an hour. I cried over things I couldn’t control and I cried about the parts of myself that I hate and I cried because I’ve been bottling it in for so long.

And these random mantras kept repeating over and over in my head, I think as a way for me to try and calm myself down. I just started thinking, crying about this isn’t going to get better. There’s no use in doing this. This won’t get better tonight.

This won’t get better tonight.

This won’t get better tonight.

This won’t get better.

I woke up a few hours later (huzzah for 8:30s) and noticed that my left eyelid was swollen and a little blue and my eye wasn’t able to open fully.

I think I actually managed to pop a blood vessel because of how hard I cried last night.

But I put on some sweats and tie up my greasy hair in a hair tie and head to my 8:30, looking and feeling like less than a person. But class was fine and I was actually invested in the conversation as we discussed the possible relation between Ophelia from Hamlet and Emilia from Two Noble Kinsmen. Then I started to get a bad feeling.

I thought it was just menstrual cramps or something. They’d never been that bad, but I didn’t know what else would explain the stomach ache and nausea. I tried to manage the pain but it kept growing, so I left the class to go to the bathroom and presumably throw up.

I burst through the door and immediately saw stars.

For those who don’t know, I have a tachycardia syndrome (heart condition type thing) that basically means I’m in more danger of fainting than the normal human being and have to watch my diet and fill it with plenty of water and sodium.

So I run into the last stall and lock the door behind me before collapsing on the ground. My first thought was to call 911 (dramatic, I know, and problematic for so many reasons), but I called my close friend, Kassara, instead. She doesn’t answer, but texts “what’s up? I’m in class. I can go in the hall if it’s an emergency.” I respond. “I’m sorry. Please. Can you please.”

And then my phone dies on 63%.

This all has happened in about 20 seconds and I’m on the floor in this nasty bathroom crying, but I think it’s at this point that I realize that I am having a panic attack. And that I’m alone.

All I can say is thank goodness no one came in the bathroom because I can’t remember the last time I sobbed that hard–ugly and audibly. (Usually it’s repressed, like last night when I was in across from my sleeping roommate.) But I managed to calm myself down somehow and ended up with my head by the toilet and my legs up on the stall door so the blood could flow back to my head.

I was just laying there, staring directly at the dim lights of the nasty bachelor hall bathroom, thinking, “this is what my life has become. unannounced panic attacks and episodes of near fainting.”

It’s a strange thing to feel your tears stream up your face and run into your eyebrows.

My phone turned on about fifteen minutes after it had “died” (my phone is so jank, it’s ridiculous), and Kassara ended up coming to my rescue.

Seriously, I cannot say enough nice things about this girl. She is the absolute best in these situations. She knew exactly what to say, she brought me water and bought me chips, and she made me feel so good as I sobbed to her about all I’ve been thinking about lately.

We both decided it was time for my parents to know what’s been going on.

I had this note written out from the night before that I hadn’t intended on them seeing for a while, but I guess life just doesn’t happen the way you expect it to, does it?

I first sent the screenshots to my mom, and then she ended up talking to my dad about it tonight. They’re both being amazing and supportive and I’m really lucky to have two parents who care and a friend like Kassara. And I’m lucky to be at Miami and I’m lucky to be a part of Phi Mu and I’m lucky for my health and I’m lucky for my finances and I just know it could be a lot worse. Everything could be so much worse, so I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time handling my life as it is right now.

But that’s how my day went. I really hope yours was better. And I hope my tomorrow will be better too.

I think it will.

Now I’m going to actually get some sleep tonight so I can take my geography exam tomorrow with a well-rested brain. And hopefully I won’t cry in front of my professor–though it wouldn’t be the first time. It’s just that I can’t remember the last day I’ve gone without crying.

So maybe it’ll be tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Sammy

STORYBOOK: THE TIME THEY TOLD ME I HAD ADD

Dear Reader,

I think I’ve always been lazy. I have the ability to overcome it and can be weirdly motivated for certain projects, but I think at my core, I’m a lazy person. And I think the worst thing you can tell a kid that’s lazy is that they’re gifted.

Because that almost condones it, right? Like, you’re allowed to be lazy because things are going to come easier to you and for some reason, maybe genetics, maybe the way you were raised, you’re just not going to have to work that hard to pass classes. Not like some other students.

And I look back, and I can see that. I see that school was easy for me. I guess. In the sense that I didn’t put in that much effort on projects I didn’t like and I still managed to pass. And, like I said, I am capable of working hard. I spent so much time writing stories and songs and poems and in my personal journals. I even spent a lot of time doing math problems for fun and counting my quarter collection and designing my biome for science class. It didn’t really matter to me if it was for school or not–if I enjoyed it, I would do it. If I didn’t, I would procrastinate. And maybe I would never even get around to doing it.

Trust me, I know how bad that is. It’s one of the things I hate about myself, but I think it’s who I am at my core, which is why it’s so hard for me to change. But it’s gotten me in trouble. It almost got me kicked out of the accelerated fourth grade class I was placed in. And it did get me kicked out of honors English.

But I always managed to stay afloat and get grades that pleased my father and score in the top percentages of all of the standardized tests I took growing up. And then high school came along, and classes got boring.

Really boring.

In eighth grade I took algebra and american history, both of which I loved. So I excelled. Freshman year I took AP government and biology and geometry. Proofs and labs and dry reading were what (should’ve) filled my days.

I couldn’t do it, though. I couldn’t force myself to learn–or to focus. I spent classes daydreaming and looking out windows. But I guess it didn’t really end there. I think it might’ve carried over into conversations and even onto the soccer field.

Funniest_Memes_what-the-hell-is-that-oh-just-my-mind_13355

“Sorry, I zoned out.”

But, come on, I was fourteen years old! Of course I’m not going to be interested in AP government or every time my mother lectures me about my room. And yeah, sometimes it’s bad if I miss the starting lineup because my mind is somewhere else, but that only happened a handful of times.

So I laughed when my two friends confronted me.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but we think you might have ADD.”

I even laughed when I told my parents.

“You’ll never guess what Jaden and Lekha told me today!”

But instead of laughs, I got, “Alright, well we’ll schedule an appointment and go from there.”

What?

I still rolled my eyes on the way to the appointment. I mean, we were going to see a therapist. I didn’t need a therapist! (lol look at me now)

He was very nice, but I didn’t really get why we were doing all of this. I was in this closet-like room at first and had to click the mouse as soon as I saw the white letter X (I think) against the black screen. Don’t click for the other letters.

Eh, I think I was just trigger-happy.

Then he asked me a few riddles and basic math problems. I made sure not to fidget or shake my feet and I focused really hard. But, I mean, it was August. I was a little rusty.

I still remember a riddle about something with six strings on your back. I was stumped and I asked my mom about it in the car and she said, “guitar?”

Okay, so this guy’s going to tell me that I don’t have ADD, but I’m no longer gifted.

How did I not get guitar?

But, honestly, I thought I killed it. Yep, I was like, I know what ADD looks like and the way I presented myself was nothing of the sort. I’ve got nothing to worry about.

Later that day my brother drove me to soccer with his friend in the car and, laughing, I said, “Guess what I did today! Got tested for ADD!”

The awkward silence that followed told me that maybe I shouldn’t be joking about this quite yet.

Well, we went back awhile later and the guy told me that I could get a prescription for adderall. You know, for my ADD. Because my brain doesn’t work like others, he said. When most people have thoughts, basically, their brain can handle it. They can connect them quickly–he explained this as he moved his finger in a circle. But for me, I guess my thoughts go around that circle too quickly.

See? I’m too smart?

Just kidding.

He basically gave two examples. One, he said that’s why sometimes I say things without explaining how I got to that thought. I assume my thought process is the same as everyone else’s, but really, it can be kind of hard to follow along unless I articulate. And I guess that’s because of the speedy circles in my brain.

(I wish I knew something about neurology so I could explain this better)

(I should have at least tried to pay attention in biology)

Two, he said that if a teacher says, “don’t pay attention to the car honking outside,” and then a car honks outside, I’ll basically have to look. It’ll be an instinct that I can’t stop, or once my brain thinks “don’t look outside,” I’ll already be looking.

Yeah, I don’t know either. But every time a car honks outside, I look and I don’t know if it’s because he told me this years ago, or if it’s actually something I would do anyway.

That’s the thing–I feel like anyone who went to this guy could be diagnosed with ADD. I don’t know exactly what his evidence was, but I had a hard time buying it for a while. I’ve been on and off my meds (because I was an angsty teenager who was terrified of permanent, irreversible effects–actually, I am still very much both of those things). And then this year, I had to go months without them at all, and I felt absolutely hopeless. I felt broken. And dependent.

So that sucked.

And the worst thing is that I always see the pictures of how different brains look in regards to depression and ADHD and bipolar disorder, but there’s never ADD. The guy made a point that I didn’t have ADHD (the difference being hyperactive), but I never see anything regarding the struggles of people with ADD. And that sometimes makes me think it’s made up to sell performance-enhancing drugs (I would consider adderall and ritalin to be in this category) to motivationless kids.

Which brings me back to the reminder that I’m lazy.

So I don’t know what to think, but that’s the story of the time they told me I had ADD. And maybe one day I’ll write a story about the day I decided I was over it. Or maybe I’ll go back to that doctor and confront him and make him show me the notes he took on me and why he gave me this diagnosis.

I feel like it wasn’t supposed to screw me up so much, but it did. I feel like it was just supposed to explain some things–answer some questions I always had about myself. But I’ve been more confused than ever.

Sometimes I wish I could just have a full brain scan and they could tell me exactly what’s wrong with me.

But other times I think maybe I don’t want to know.

Sincerely,

Sammy

LET’S TALK ABOUT MINDFULNESS (and what really happened my freshman year)

Dear Reader,

I came across a video yesterday that I felt I needed to share. I can’t fully describe what I felt as I watched it, except that it sort of gave me the answers that I wasn’t fully aware I was looking for yet. Does that make sense?

Well, anyway, I need to share it. So here it is:

And now I’ll tell you why.

I’ve mentioned before how difficult freshman year was for me and how challenging the transition was, but I haven’t gone into much depth about it. I felt very overwhelmingly sad a lot, but I never thought it was depression. I know what depression is–I know it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Even more, I know it requires more than just “thinking happy thoughts” to be resolved. But this sadness that I was feeling didn’t feel like that.

It felt like loneliness. And self hatred. And extreme, unbearable laziness.

So I did some research, called the health center, and scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

I could write an entirely separate post about that therapy session, because it brought out so many emotions and was such a terrifying and new experience for me, but I’ll keep it short for now. I went and talked to a very nice middle-aged man, and he basically told me straight off the bat that he thought I was depressed.

I don’t know how valid this diagnosis was, or if he was just speculating or assuming or what, but I’m still coming to terms with that. Because I still don’t know that I fully believe that it was depression. I still don’t want to label it as something that can be so serious, when, for me, it felt like I was just wallowing in my room all day being sad and lonely–which is not the same.

Here’s another video I found this week that perfectly describes what I was feeling this year–better than I can, at least.

So, that’s where I was at. Faking happiness. Not sure what I was going through. Not sure who was even there that I could talk to about it.

And that kind of brings us up to date all the way to today. I’ve been thinking about this concept of happiness a lot lately. I’ve tried to reflect on times when I feel the most happy and I try to repeat them in my mind over and over, so I can remind myself what it feels like. I’ve read The Happiness Project and made lists of resolutions for myself to keep. I’ve decided to go with the mindset: you are not happy now, but you will be once again. You just have to work for it.

Because that’s my biggest downfall. I am overwhelmingly lazy, and I think that maybe if I had just tried harder this past spring to make myself happy–to create more situations that bring authentic happiness, instead of anxiety and discomfort–then I would have been happy.

But I don’t know how true that thought really is. Because, sure, I can create beautiful scenarios where I’m at ease and I can live these happy memories, and store them to replay at night when I need to remind myself. But what am I supposed to do when I find myself in uncomfortable situations?

Because that’s what college really did to me. Speaking up in class, going to parties, interacting with strangers, praying people will like me–this all gave me anxiety. And I’m using this term lightly–again, I know how serious anxiety can be and these feelings I had may certainly be lesser when compared to others. I never had panic attacks or sought medication or anything like that. I would just feel extreme discomfort. My face would grow hot, I’d feel sick to my stomach, my hands would shake, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else, I’d get head rushes–all of that stuff.

So what happens when I feel like that? I can’t just create these perfect scenarios all the time in hopes that I would remain happy. No matter how hard I work, I can’t do that.

Which is where mindfulness comes in–and where I urge you, if you haven’t already, to watch that first video.

They bring up a lot of good points and insight that I never saw before. Everyone just wants to feel safe. That’s what we crave. It’s what we need. And I so strongly relate to Ashley when she talks about talking to the barista (anyone who knows me can vouch for my awful–and inevitable–drive-thru interactions) and not only thinks about how she’s about to make a fool of herself, but how bizarre it is that this is a problem. And how does this not happen to normal people? Why me?

Wow, I feel like I’ve been writing for too long now.

But that’s where I’m at right now. This is how I’m feeling, and mindfulness is definitely something I’m going to look into. Because reminding yourself to be in the moment, and using simple tricks that mindfulness can teach (such as taking deep breaths and thinking about exactly what is in your control–such as how you are feeling at any possible moment) can really help curb the overwhelming feelings of terror and sadness and all of that.

I think it’s just the next step, and a very important step, that I need to take as I work towards being happier.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Please let me know if you have any information or resources on mindfulness, as well as personal experiences with it. I would love to hear any and all takes on this concept, and it would be great to embark on this together.