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Musings of a 20-Something-Year-Old

Just another 20-something-year-old trying to make it in this crazy world

Positive Changes Inside and Out

Hello all!  I know, I’ve been MIA for like 5 months.  I have been extremely busy with the ph.d/working on me.   And honestly…I am doing so much academic writing that the last thing I want to do is write.  But, I am here to fill you in!  These past 5 months have been critical for me.  Let me share with you what has happened.

I started Beachbody and a virtual gym accountability group that a co-phd student/friend of mine coached.  I’ve been doing Beachbody workouts and eating clean for 5 months now.  I am down 53 pounds and have lost over 30 inches off my entire body.  Seriously!?!?!? Seriously…..  Check out the difference.

Crazy isn’t it?!?!?!!?!!?!?! I’ve dropped sizes in clothes and skyrocketed in confidence.  You guys, I am actually truly happy again.  I have actual hobbies again.  My depression is completely gone.  I have made peace with my past and the hurts that were there.  That pain no longer exists.  How did I do this?  Let me tell you!

Part of my Beachbody experience is that of doing 1 hour of personal development a day.  The philosophy is that you can’t change the outside if you don’t change the inside.  It’s true.  So true.  So, everyday I listened to Chalene Johnson’s podcasts, The Chalene Show <—– Can be found on iTunes.  I did this as I got ready in the morning, or during my morning commute.  I became obsessed because her advice on healing past hurts worked.  I endured some hard core reflections as I listened to her and found out so much about myself.  I realized the amount of strength I have and came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my past.  I should own it because you know what?  It’s my story that I need to share so that it can help others.  So, owning my past I am.  I also no longer care what others think about me.  I am me.  I am unique.  I am designed by God’s plan and doing his works.  So, why should I care what other people think?  I shouldn’t.  So, I don’t.  I have also switched to turning to fitness and hobbies instead of food to regulate my emotions.  This is a huge success for me!

I am so excited to see where Beachbody takes me.  I can’t wait to see myself reach my weight loss goal and to continue getting healthy on the inside and out.  I am loving this process and would love for you to come on it with me.  Are you ready to make some changes?  Are you ready to move on with your life?  Talk to me, and I’ll get you hooked up! 🙂  You won’t regret it!

Love ya all like crazy!  Stay positive peeps!  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Takin’ Back Life: Challenge for You/Me

Hello from Tennessee!  I am back and getting ready for the semester to start.  It is nice to be back home.  An update for you on changes I have made to my life.  I have started the Core De Force workouts and 21 Day Fix eating plan.  I feel so much better now that I am getting exercise and nutrition again.  After each workout (which is built on the foundations of MMA), I feel more alive.  I feel like I am beating up my depression.  It feels great.  I have already lost weight and am toning up.  I can’t wait to see where this takes me.  My Beach Body coach has entered me into her year fitness challenge/program, so I get a whole year dedicated to hardcore workouts.  She has seen her program decrease depression symptoms and help eating disorders.  I am ready to change this part of my life.  I am sick to the depression, not wanting to get out of bed, and suicidal thoughts.  It is time to take back my life.

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For my fellow followers who also have issues with depression, grief, anxiety, and eating disorders, I want to help you this year as I help myself.  Let’s make this the year we learn to fight back from our mental disorder even harder.  Let’s punch it in the face and knock it down with all we have.  Sure, it will win some days, but let’s fight it with all our might.

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My first challenge for you is to find an exercise you love.  Something that is fun and you want to do it.  Walk in the park, take up boxing, go skiing, etc.  Try something new.  Yes, it is hard to take that first step and find something.  But, force yourself to do it.  I promise there will be some good benefits.  Since I have started MMA workouts, I have noticed a decrease in my depression symptoms.  It works.  Take the first step and challenge yourself to try something.

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Times Need A-Changin’

 

Hello All!  I am back!  Sorry for the long break in writing, but, as it turns out, ph.d school gets insane at the end of the semester.  I survived and completed it with a 3.9 GPA (thanks to one A-). In addition to being busy, I hit a HORRIBLE depression again.  One of doubt and impostor syndrome.  I had continual feelings that I didn’t belong in graduate school.  The work was easy, but I just felt that I couldn’t do it.  That it was a huge mistake for me moving to get my ph.d.  Yes, I made great friends, but the lack of guidance and support made me feel lost.  Attacked.  Defeated.  Dumb.  A loser.  Not at the level of that of the others in the program.  Thoughts of cutting came and another suicidal idealization.

Now, that I have come out at the other side, I look back and realize that I am MUCH younger than most people in the program.  I am 27.  They are in their 40’s.  There is a huge difference.  I have also endured more conflict and issues in my life span that probably most of those people in that room.  They all have families and friends.  I don’t.  I stick out like a sore thumb.  There was also the issue of financial means.  As a graduate assistant, I make very, very, very little to live on.  It’s not even enough to pay rent.  So begins the look for coaching and tutoring positions to at least be able to live.  With all of this begin said, I decided to change in 2017.  I need more confidence.  I need to get my depression to calm down.  I need to focus on making and maintaining GOOD friends.  This is what I am doing to change:

  1. I have joined a co-worker, that works in my shared graduate teaching assistant office, on her Beach Body team.  I am beginning with a 21 day fix and the Core De Force workout.  I am excited to begin hardcore workouts again.  I need to do this to get my confidence back (the enormous weight gain from my depression doesn’t help my confidence AT ALL.  If anything, it makes me want to hide).
  2. I am leading my own research team starting this next semester and working hard to get three of my own studies published by the end of 2017.  I am also entering some graduate research symposiums where I will be able to share my research and start to get noticed.
  3. I am traveling all over the U.S. for conferences in my field.  It is expensive and most of it is on my dollar, but I NEED to start networking to get ahead and start making a difference in this field. I am heading to Florida in a few weeks and Boston in a few months.
  4.  I am going to take charge.  I am no longer going to sit and wait for opportunities to come to me.  I am going to find the opportunities myself.

Wish me best of luck as I go through this.  It is going to take a lot of mind power and maybe starting therapy again.  I haven’t seen a therapist since I moved in July and I think it is time to start.

Help Needed

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Hi ya’ll!  I am reaching out to you for advice.  I really don’t know what to do and this situation has really put me into a deep depression this week.  Not even my dog is helping me.  I am not seeing a therapist here, but probably should be.  So, I am reaching out to you for help.  Here is the situation:

As all of you know, I am in a ph.d program and I just moved half way across the country to do this.  There is only one other girl that is new in this program as well.  I worked EXTREMELY hard to get into a doctoral program.  It turns out that she didn’t.  She came here because our mentor graduated from high school with her.  They were friends in high school.  Things started out ok with us.  Then, it turned into something else.  I don’t know what happened.  Now, she only talks to me when no one is around.  If others are around, she ignores me.  If professors are around, she talks LOUD to me.  When I schedule meetings with our mentor to talk about MY plan of study or career goals, she shows up and it turns into something else.  She went and got an advising meeting with him for classes for next semester.  Then, she sent me the list of classes to register for.  I was angry because my plan shouldn’t be the same as her’s.  I have different career goals.  I went to meet with him about my plan of study, but he said that mine would just be the same as the other girl’s and to do what she emailed me.  Last Friday, I scheduled a research group with her and my mentor to write up some IRBs for studies.  It turned into me sitting there for half an hour listening to him talk to her about a paper she wrote.  NO IRBs were even discussed.  I could have been home letting my dog out for the bathroom.  I have met with my mentor like once seriously this semester.  Only once.  I feel so unguided and like I can’t get the guidance I need right now because this new girl comes and takes over.  I also found out that she may go out with him for food and drinks.  He invited me when he saw that I overheard them talking about it, but I just don’t feel like that is professional.  I don’t feel comfortable doing that and don’t want to be put in that situation.  This week, I am supposed to collaborate in a group with this girl and another student.  I emailed them yesterday and tried to set up a meeting because my Mondays are INSANE.  I only have an hour and a half that is free.  She emailed me back saying that she can’t come until 12.  I said I was open from 11-12.  Can’t she come to campus early for once?  I gave up my time to meet with them, so she can give up a little right?  She tried to plan this whole group meeting without including me and when the other guy asked about me she said, “She told me last week that she preferred to do this alone.”  Which I did because I seriously don’t have time to meet up with people.  BUT, the main point of the project is collaboration.  It can’t be done alone.

Anyways, I am SO SO frustrated right now and don’t know what to do.  I even considered looking into different doctoral programs.  Ones that will give me what I want and set me up for the career that I want.  Not someone else’s.  I don’t know what to do.  If anyone out there can please, please give me some advice that would be awesome.  This is bringing me down and taking my depression back up.  I have cried every night since Tuesday.  I am lost.  So lost.  Please help.

 

Depression Has Never Been Better

Two weeks ago, I went to a pet store to hold and play with little puppies for stress relief.  I went right to a white little fur ball.  He rolled over for a belly rub.  I gave him one and we fell in love with each other.  An hour later, I walked out with him.  A 4-month-old purebred Pomeranian.  I have named him Teddy.  Everyone asks if it is because of Teddy Roosevelt.  I just say, “suuuurrreee…”  But no, it’s really because he looks like a teddy bear.

These past two weeks have changed me.  I have noticed that I get more done and turn out better work.  I ACTUALLY get up in the morning because now I have a reason to.   I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in 2 weeks.  That’s a record for me since my father passed.  I noticed this and asked myself, “what changed?”  Well, I now have a reason to live.  I have something that truly loves me and I love it.  We have a bond that I have never had with a dog before.  It’s like he knows my condition and wants to heal me.  Someone told me the other week, “he needs you and you need him.”  I have had two people comment on how I glow now and seem happier.  Teddy is my therapy.  My life will never be the same.  He has saved me.

I am working on getting him to therapy classes to train him to be a therapy dog.  He makes me happy and is saving me from my depression.  He makes everyone he sees happy.  I want him to help others the way he helps me.  My dream is to get him fully certified as a therapy dog and take him to the Children’s hospital here to spend time with the children there.  We are working on it.

So, Teddy…I know you can’t read or talk, but I know you know how much I appreciate you.  You have saved my life.  I will never be the same.  ❤

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You Can’t Go Home Again

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As everyone who suffers from depression knows, depressive shutdowns are bound to happen every now and then.  I had one this week.  It was pretty rough.  A social situation happened and then my sister (the only one I talk to) broke the news to me that there was a scare of some lymph node swelling on her lungs being lung cancer.  Well, I got into full blown can’t breathe panic attack mode as I laid on my bed (still in my dress clothes from the day) and sobbed.  I wanted my mom.  I wanted to talk to her.  It took me 4-5 hours to stop sobbing and I had a splitting headache so all I could do was go to bed with an ice pack on my head.

I had a four day weekend this weekend, so I decided to take Friday off and venture out into the mountains to a little town.  Just to give my soul some rest and marvel in the beauty of a new place.  Traveling alone to new places just helps me get grounded again.  While there, I traced the steps of Thomas Wolfe (he was born and raised in this town).  I went and toured the house he grew up in, looked at monuments dedicated to him, and even went to see where he is buried.  Honestly, I have never read a Thomas Wolfe book.  I didn’t even know who he was until I watched the movie Genius a few weeks ago (and only because Fitzgerald was in it).  I quickly came to realize that I relate to Thomas Wolfe.  Passages from Look Homeward Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again spoke to me.  He had a situation much like mine and wrote about it.  He was traumatized by the death of a loved one at a young age and moved away from the town he grew up in, vowing to never go back.  That is just like me.

I sat down to lunch by myself at a nice little bistro.  I watched people walk by as I ate.  Then, I got the idea to text someone that used to be a friend pictures of Thomas Wolfe’s stuff because literature is something she enjoys.  It made me think of her and I just thought she would enjoy it.  One thing led to the other and we got to talking about “us.”  We were pretty much unbiological sisters before my father passed away.  After my father passed, we hardly talked and decided to just stop being friends.  It was a lot for me to handle.  The death of a parent, family, and best friend all at once.  No wonder I went crazy.

For some reason, I just kept hoping I could open this relationship back up.  That we maybe could go back to being friends.  But, I was wrong.  Every time I open the lines of communication with some hope, I am wrong.  I understand there is hurt on both sides.  I finally admitted to her that all I ever wanted was for her to be there for me.  For a hug from her.  For some comfort from her.  For some indication from her that she cared about me during my time of sorrow.  It never came.  All that ever happened was fighting or silence.  Both therapists I have had told me to just let it go.  To let the friendship die because someone that can’t be there for you in the worst of times, can’t be there with you in the best of times.  I agreed with them.  I understood.  I tried to tell myself to not look back and just cut the line.  But, I kept hoping.  I finally understood on Friday that I can’t do this to myself anymore.  I am so tired of life and fighting.  Why should I be tired and exhausted from one more thing?  I have got to stop hoping and trying.  As Thomas Wolfe says in You Can’t Go Home Again:

“The human mind is a fearful instrument of adaptation, and in nothing is this more clearly shown than in its mysterious powers of resilience, self-protection, and self-healing. Unless an event completely shatters the order of one’s life, the mind, if it has youth and health and time enough, accepts the inevitable and gets itself ready for the next happening like a grimly dutiful American tourist who, on arriving at a new town, looks around him, takes his bearings, and says, “Well, where do I go from here?”

Final Stage: Acceptance

Hi ya’ll!  I apologize for not being able to get a post out.  Doctoral school has been insanely busy.  Emails to publishers, doing statistical analysis, reviewing the quality of research studies, etc.  It’s kept me more busy than I have wanted to be, but it’s a good thing.  I have been meaning to write to ya’ll about the final stage of grief: acceptance.  I decided to take some time off from the academics this morning to do just this.

Let’s talk about the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression, and acceptance.  Those of us who have lost some we dearly loved know these stages quite well.  Hell, I didn’t even have to look them up.  Pretty much an expert on each of those.  When you lose a dearly loved one, you do go through each of those stages.  It doesn’t happen in any specific order and sometimes you regress and hit several stages more than once, twice, three times, etc.  It’s a true roller coaster.

Through my journey of grief, I found that I spent most of my time in the anger and depression stages.  The anger stage took me about seven months to get out of.  The depression stage, well I am still in it.  Still medicated for that.  This stage got me a diagnosis of insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, binge eating disorder, and major depressive disorder.  All straight out of the DSM-5.  I was given two different sleeping medications and the highest dose of an anxiety/depression combined medication.  All of these I still take and don’t see myself getting off of them any time soon.  I went through two different therapists with weekly sessions for over a year.  I almost got sent to the ER for an evaluation and an eating disorder clinic, both of which I begged and talked my therapists out of.  I was irrational, angry, not of sound mind, and wanted to end it all.  I didn’t care about me or any of the accomplishments I have made in life.  I had no pride.  I was worthless and not deserving of anything or anyone.  I tried self harm….many times.  Alcohol….went there just once, then never again.  Point being: My grief story is intense.  Many of your grief stories are quite the same.  Grief is intense.  It’s all consuming.  I wish it on no one.

Two months ago, I relocated far away from where my “home” was.  It took this life altering change to snap me back into things.  I am slowly recovering from my depression.  I am a work in progress. I will get there.  Stages still come and go, but I can pull myself out of them more easily now.  I believe I have finally hit the acceptance stage.  I can say, “You know what, my parents are dead.  They aren’t coming back.  That’s the fact.  They are gone.  I still love them like mad, but they aren’t here in person anymore.  They won’t be at anything I do.”  I can now tell people more freely that my parents have passed away.  Before, I used to clam up and never talk when people asked what my parents did.  Now, I am able to talk about how they died, how it happened, and what happened to me when it happened.  I have come to the conclusion that I have a survivor story to tell, so why not tell it?  Why should I be ashamed that my parents have died.  It wasn’t something I could control.  I should be proud of myself for surviving both of their deaths at a very young age.  And you know what, I am.  None of my attempts to end it all went through.  I should be proud of that.  And you know what, you should be proud of yourself too.  You are a survivor.  We can play a “victim of life” role so easily.  But, we must change our mindsets.  We are not victims.  We are survivors.  All of you enduring grief right now remember that.  You are a survivor of the hardest circumstance any human being can ever go through.  You lost a piece of your heart and you survived.  You ARE a survivor.

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Research and Ramblings

Hello y’all.  I know, it’s been like forever since I have written a post for you.  I have some major ideas and revelations that I have been meaning to get out to you, but just haven’t had the time.  Here’s why….

I am now permanently located in Tennessee and working on my phd in special education.  I am here for a minimum of 4 years.  Life is been pretty busy with research, readings, teaching classes, grading, and basically just trying to stay on top of it all.  This has certainly been a major learning curve for me and has come with major brain exhaustion.  But, let me tell you, this is some pretty exciting stuff.  I’ll just say that something great always comes from throwing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I will catch you all up with my grief/depression/eating disorder in my next post.  Just wanted to explain my absence.  I promise you some hard hitting info in my next one.

Taking One Life Altering Chance in Life

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A few weeks ago, I spent a week in Knoxville, Tennessee to discover what will become my new home.  It was my first ever visit.  People from work have been telling me that I am crazy and have a lot of guts to sign a 4 year contract to a place I have never been and where I don’t know anyone for over 1,000 miles.  I just kept shrugging and saying, “I have nothing to lose.  I took a chance and we will see how it goes.  It’s time for me to find my place in this world.”  I haven’t been nervous about this move.  I have been looking at it with great optimism that everything will work out.  That God wants me here and will provide for me.

I was excited the day I flew out of Fargo.  But, when I boarded my connecting flight in Chicago, I became nervous.  I had butterflies and kept thinking, I am crazy.  What if this place is nothing like I think it is.  I pushed these thoughts aside and kept thinking about the chance I was taking and how much I would make this work.

As I viewed the city from the window of the airplane, I was nervous.  Extremely nervous.  This place was going to be where I lived for the next four years, whether I liked it or not.  I looked more out the window and noticed how beautiful the mountains and surrounding area were.  A smile came to my face and all I could think was, I can’t believe I get to live here.  It is so beautiful.  

My week was filled up with finding a place to live and meetings at the university.  I was lucky enough to love the apartment I looked at the day we arrived.  It was an amazing community that made me feel right at home.  And the apartment….well that was fabulous.  It is NOTHING like what you would get where I am currently from.  It was so “Southern.”  I loved it and signed the lease.  The ladies were extremely nice, well mannered, and made me feel right at home.  It will be a great place to live.

Since I found a place to live so fast, I was able to do the tourist thing on my spare time.  So, I took in the town and area for four days.  I noticed while I was walking through the World’s Fair Park that I was actually smiling and laughing.  My depression wasn’t there.  It was like all burdens and depressive thoughts were lifted from me.  I felt normal.  I felt happy.  I liked how I felt.

My sister and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory for supper one night.  The waiter looked at my ID to make sure I was 21.  I told him to look at where I was from.  He was all like, “Whoa!!!! North Dakota!  Is this real?”  I then told him I was moving to Knoxville to get my Ph.D.  He got excited and gave my sister and I both free sundaes with candles on top and said, “This my ladies, is for your new beginning.  Here’s to new beginnings!”  My sister and I laughed and blew out the candle.  We couldn’t stop smiling.  Everyone was so nice there.  Everything was beautiful.  As we ate our sundaes, my sister looked over at me and said, “Everything is just falling into place for you.  It’s almost like……..almost like mom and dad are making this all happen for you.”  I smiled and thought about this.  As I thought, I came to the conclusion that she was right.  It was like my mom and dad were saying to me, “Darling….it’s finally time for you to be happy again.”  All I could do was smile.  I felt closer to them there then I ever did/do here.  My heart no longer felt hard and cold.  It felt warm and fuzzy.  It felt love.  I could finally feel it beat again.  I came to the realization that I now have to try my hardest in everything I do and love everyone that much more because everything I do shows my parents.  I want the love and kindness my parents had to radiate through me.

On this visit, I had many adventures.  I noticed that I quickly ticked off items from my bucket list.  The ones I can cross of include:

-Rode in a hot air balloon- and viewed the mountains from a good 1,000+ feet in the air.

-Saw actual Titanic artifacts- from the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge (including the $1.7 billion dollar violin and case that was played by Wallace Hartley as he played hymns while the ship was sinking to calm the passengers).

-Hiked in actual mountains.

-Immersed myself in the culture and way of life in a place I have never been.

As I was walking through downtown Knoxville on one of these days, a thought came to me.  This thought was, my dreams are coming true.  All my dreams are finally coming true.  This is all I have ever wanted.  I am going to fall madly in love.  Head over heels in love.  And I know this will be true.  I will fall passionately in love with the place I am going to live and maybe even with a man that I may someday call my loving husband and father to my children.

 

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