Losing My Mind: My Story of Managing Mental Health

Happy Mental Health Awareness week!! Here is my story! I hope you can connect to some of the things that I talk about and that this post is helpful to you! WARNING: This post may contain some content that may be triggering for some readers so go forward knowing that and being aware of it!

 

Since the very beginning of my life, I have been a very happy person. I never really got sad and if I did it was because of something really small and insignificant that would happen and nothing major. The more I grew up, the more times I heard that I had “such a positive attitude and outlook on life.” I had good friends and a happy life and I never lost these things despite all of the hard times that I have endured. Everything started to change when I began middle school. I saw girls cutting themselves and people being bullied and was even made fun of myself. This made me very insecure and look down on myself. When I saw all of the struggling people around me I was very scared for them. I internalized this sadness and became very depressed myself.

 

During my middle school years, I would stay up all night long and not be able to sleep because I felt an emptiness in my heart that would not go away. I was nervous to go to school because the kids there were so mean to me and made me feel like an outsider. During this time in my life I began to write in a journal and I would write about how I didn’t want to live anymore and that I felt like my life was a mistake. This depression and feeling of isolation continued for years. There were times I would think about hurting myself and would look at knives and think about how easy it would be if I could just end everything right then and there. I would lock myself in my room and cry and feel completely alone and feel like I had no one to turn to.

 

When I got into high school, I started to feel happier. People were more accepting of my differences and didn’t really care what I did as much. I felt great for about a year and it felt like a weight was finally lifted off of my shoulders. Then I went into my sophomore year and the depression made its way back into my life. However, it wasn’t as bad this time. I had good friends and I felt like for the most part my depression was triggered by stress and feeling like I had to smoke and drink. I started taking medicine during this time and went to see a therapist regularly. I had random bursts of sadness and then random bursts of energy and happiness and I didn’t know how to make sense of it, but they were all very minor mood changes.

 

All of that changed when I went into college. My mood swings became much more drastic and when I was low I was really low. Of course I was also drinking heavily so that had a lot to do with the problems that I was experiencing. I would have several days of being really energetic and making impulsive decisions, then the next couple days I would be really depressed and even suicidal. My grades started to suffer from it and my whole life felt like it was consumed by these problems. I then went to a psychiatrist in Nashville about these problems and he put me on medication. I still feel like I have highs and lows but I am finally a little more balanced and don’t feel so out of control.

 

I have been able to do a lot of good things now that I wasn’t able to do before. I am able to actually know now that when I feel sad it is for a real and legitimate reason. Now I am able to sing and play ukulele again, which I wasn’t able to do when I was depressed. I’ve seen my productivity increase as I now have such a clearer headspace without all of this depression consuming my life. I feel that I have learned so many things from my mental illness. I have learned how to handle the hardships that life will throw at you. Everyone experiences struggle in their life and I am actually thankful to experience mine so young so that I can grow from them and that when new problems come my way, I will be ready for them.

 

Doing positive things every day is what keeps me happy and being around my friends gives me so much joy! I am finally living a happy and fulfilled life! If you are feeling depressed, anxious or suicidal, reach out for help! There are so many people that are willing to help you if you just say that you need it. I do not feel week for reaching out for help or for having a mental illness, because it has made me appreciate my family, friends and myself that much more! I would like to thank everyone who has seen me go through my struggle and come out on the other side! I love you guys!

 

Until next time,

-Lola

Let Your Hair Fly Free

For those of you who know me well, you know that I don’t shave my legs. This is a personal choice of mine that I have been very proud to have made. Although this decision has not come easily to me. I used to be someone who was very self-conscious about the way that I looked (as you could probably gather from my post about makeup). I used to be very insecure about how the world saw me and what I would wear. Now I dress for comfort and could care less about what anyone has to say about it. This is the story of how I got to this point in my life where I just don’t care anymore and do things for myself only.

 

I started shaving when I was 13 and I was so excited to, because I didn’t like having all of this unwanted hair. When I started shaving I was frustrated with how fast the hair would grow back. Always without fail, the hair would grow back within a couple of days and this made me so mad. I wished I didn’t have any hair on my body at all. It was the same for my armpits. I am blonde naturally so the leg hair wasn’t as big of a deal (it was blonde), but I had brown armpit hair and I hated it so much and would have done anything to change it.  

 

Not only was my body hair an issue, but so were my eyebrows. My dad comes from an Italian family and his eyebrows show it. I got these bushy eyebrows from him, and I have always despised how they made me look. I would pluck them and wax them and go through all of this pain to change the way they looked. So many days I would spend wishing that I had my mom’s thin, pretty eyebrows. The thing I hated the most about my eyebrows were that they were brown, while my hair has always been blonde. This led to me bleaching my eyebrows this year. Let me tell you; it was not a good plan AT ALL to bleach them myself. I ended up burning my face and I still have little scars from it because the skin around my eyebrows became burned from the bleach and started bleeding and scabbing. So needless to say, that was not my best idea.

 

So back to my hairy story (haha hair puns). I first saw girls not shaving in high school during my freshman year. At first I thought it was weird, because I was just so shocked culturally. Since I had never seen anything like that before, I was honestly a little bit freaked out. I decided to try it out though for myself because I was curious. I remember going to summer camp and the boy I had a crush on at the time asked me why I didn’t shave my legs. I told him it was because I didn’t feel like it. He seemed pretty shocked at that. This made me feel even more self-conscious of myself again; like I had made a big mistake or something.

 

Reluctantly, I started shaving my legs again. Then I remember seeing my good friend Lauren with leg hair and armpit hair. It inspired me to say “fuck the system, I’m going to do whatever I damn well please!” So it was settled, and I began to let my leg and armpit hair grow. Soon after this, I noticed I was starting to have body odor from the hair in my armpits. I am not a normally sweaty person, so this kind of surprised me. I know now that not shaving my armpits, is not for me. It might be a good idea for some people, but not for me. I shave my armpits when I notice that it is a problem, but other than that, I don’t shave them obsessively.

 

I refuse to shave my legs, because it is something that I feel like is part of me. This is a choice that I have made for many different reasons. Not to be all depressing, but I used to self-harm and would use razor blades to cut myself. The biggest reason I don’t shave my legs, is because using a razor reminds me of that painful time in my life. I usually just use Nair if I want to fix up my armpits and be all fancy. I don’t think not shaving is unattractive at all. My friend Grace, showed me a drawing of a girl shaving her leg hair and the leg hair was flowers. That is how I feel about my hair. I think it is part of me and it makes me beautiful. My leg hair is the flowers that my body has made for me, so why would I want to get rid of it? I embrace the way I look, hair and all. I’m so grateful I have gotten to that point in my life where I can celebrate my body instead of trying to fix it every chance I get.

 

If you don’t feel like shaving, you don’t have to. Don’t feel like you have to be totally hairless to be appreciated by society or some boy. People always ask me, “Why do you not shave your legs?” or they’ll say “Doesn’t it ever gross you out?” My answer is that I love the way I look just the way I am and I don’t need criticism from people who are only judging me because they are not confident in themselves. If you do choose to shave your legs and armpits, then that’s great for you and you should do what makes you comfortable. I just wish that more people would embrace the way that they are and not judge others for doing just that. So I have leg hair. So what?! I am more confident than I have ever been in my whole life. Just let me slay at life in peace with my hairy legs!

Until next time,

-Lola

Makeup Free and Flawless

The evolution of me wearing and then deciding not to wear makeup is a saga of attempts and fails that have led me to ultimately saying “fuck it, I’m done” and just casting my makeup brushes to the side. I will say that as of right now, makeup and I have a love-hate relationship. I love the way it makes me feel like a girl and that I actually have eyelashes, but I don’t at all feel like taking the time to put it on and go through trying to make it all even and ugh I’ve just had enough sometimes. I mean let’s be real, my everyday look consists of no makeup, messy hair, sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Today was the first time in MONTHS that I actually wore jeans. I call that a victory. But alas, the first time I fell in love with makeup was many ages ago.

 

The first time I became obsessed with makeup was when I was 6 years old and my mom got me an eyeshadow pallet of cheap drugstore eyeshadow. I fell in love with makeup right then and there and was hooked. I would make one eyelid green and one purple or put sparkles on my eyes. I always looked like I was on meth but in a cute 6-year-old way. Then one of my friends gave me lip gloss and I put it on constantly and talked about it so much that my bus driver called me “the lip gloss princess”. One of my favorite memories as a child was going through my grandma’s makeup (while she was still alive); and making a masterpiece out of my face with all the different lipsticks and blush. She would always say I looked “beautiful”. I would love getting dressed up for performances as a kid (I was always performing as a kid) and my mom would put my makeup on and it was always so fun for me.

 

I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was about 14. I only really wore concealer to cover up my acne which was all over my face and refused to go away. When I turned 16 I started wearing eye makeup, once my braces came off and my face started to clear up. All of a sudden I started getting attention for the way I looked and I started noticing it. It wasn’t a lot of attention but it was definitely happening and so I just kept wearing makeup. Suddenly I went from wearing a little mascara and some blush to trying turquoise winged eyeliner and dramatic lipsticks. Makeup became a way to express myself and I loved it. Sometimes the boys I would date would tell me that I needed to wear less eyeliner or not wear purple lipstick. That would make me extremely upset so I turned to black eyeliner and tried to keep it simple. I got to a point where I was wearing makeup every day and wouldn’t leave the house without it on.

 

I felt like I relied on it to make me feel beautiful and when I wasn’t wearing it I felt naked and ugly. It felt like I was putting on a mask and couldn’t let anyone see what was underneath. Every time I looked in the mirror without makeup on, I was disappointed that I didn’t look a certain way. So I went to college and I continued to wear makeup every day. I would really spend a long time on it when I went to parties. There were some days were I didn’t feel like putting a lot on and would just do mascara and concealer but I almost always wore it. Then over the summer going into my sophomore year, something happened.

 

There was one day I didn’t wear makeup just because I didn’t have the time. I drove over to my boyfriend’s house (Pierce). When he saw me he told me I looked incredibly beautiful and I shrugged it off, because I thought that that’s what boyfriends are supposed to say. But he wouldn’t let it go and he said I didn’t need to constantly wear makeup because I was pretty without it. Other people had told me this before but I didn’t listen to them. I went to the bathroom and looked at my face. For the first time in my life I felt pretty bare faced. I went into my sophomore year wearing makeup when I dressed up to go out, but other than that I didn’t bother and I still don’t.

 

The way I see it, why should I try to make myself look anything other than what I naturally look like. Some people might choose to wear makeup and I sometimes will choose to wear it. Makeup highlights my features and makes me feel confident in myself. Yet now, even without it I still feel like I am beautiful and if others disagree than that’s on them. I am confident in the way I look and it’s about damn time!! If you are struggling to feel beautiful at times, know that you are not alone. Almost everyone wishes that they looked like someone else. I spent my whole life wanting a different nose and eyelashes that weren’t blonde. Now I just embrace the way I look and could care less if anyone doesn’t like it. I still get insecure from time to time but I only have one face, so I want to love it while I can!

My Journey to Sobriety

This day February 17th 2018 marks my six months of sobriety from alcohol. I will not say that it has been easy. There have been times where I missed the way she made me feel and I thought about giving her another try. Yet all good things must come to an end when they are destroying your relationships with others and with yourself. Alcohol was something that made me feel alive and full of possibilities. I will never forget the first time I drank and actually got drunk for the first time.

 

I was 16 at my first party I ever went to. Everyone was talking and laughing with each other and I was just standing there; in the middle of a big room feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and never would. Then I went into the kitchen and this girl who I really looked up to named Claire gave me a bottle of champagne and said “Drink up!” She was stumbling and sweating a lot. Naturally I felt uneasy, because I had only had small sips of alcohol in my life and seeing Claire like this made me feel like I didn’t want to get on that level of drunk. I then saw a gleam of happiness in her eyes that showed she was having a good time, and I thought to myself that maybe just drinking a little wouldn’t hurt.

 

That night something changed within me. I became so in love with the feeling of drunkenness that I didn’t want to feel any other way. My parents were fine with me going to parties as long as I was being responsible and not drinking and driving. I didn’t go to a lot of parties in high school and it was hard for me to find alcohol since I was underage. Because of this I only drank rarely in high school when I went to small parties or gatherings, but every time I drank it was a problem.

 

Every time I drank in high school I would get really confident and say things that I probably shouldn’t have said. I then would get really sad all of a sudden and go lock myself in a bathroom or room by myself and cry for hours. Sometimes people would find me and other times I would just pass out like that. One time I blacked out crying in a bathtub and woke up with the water on. I knew I couldn’t keep this up but I kept drinking anyways.

 

When I got into college I was so much happier. I felt so free that I had a blank slate and no one knew who I was. I could reinvent myself and no one would ever know the old me. I went to parties every weekend and always blacked out at every one. I would say a typical night for me included 6 shots of vodka, two beers, and maybe three more shots of Fireball. And keep in mind I am 5’3”. So needless to say this did not go over the way I thought it would. I was always making crazy decisions and getting myself into trouble. Even one night went into the hospital with alcohol poisoning. I knew it was bad when 4 of my friends sat me down and had an intervention for me and made a big sign that said “intervention” on it.

 

Anyways, I feel like many people who stop drinking say they hit rock bottom and that’s what made them stop. That wasn’t the case for me. I actually feel like some of the times I’ve had this year have been my rock bottom, and I don’t even drink anymore. Yet through everything that has happened and will continue to happen, because rough times don’t just go away; I have learned that going through it level headed is so much easier than being in a drunken haze.

 

I would love to tell you that a life of sobriety relieves you of all of your problems, but I can’t tell you that. Sobriety has definitely rid me of many of my problems in relationships and I feel a lot safer than I was last year. It is also nice to not be hungover all the time. The biggest change I can see in myself is now I have come up with new ways to occupy my time and I have gained friends who are true to me and want to be my friend because of who I am and not because I’m the entertaining drunk girl. Life is still hard and sometimes it even sucks, but I know that my parents have my back and so do my friends and my supportive boyfriend who is sober with me. These people have always been there through my struggles and I thank them for trying to stop me when I was spiraling out. I wish I would have stopped myself earlier, but I am happy that I got to where I am now. Here is to many more years of sobriety to come! *glasses clink full of non-alcoholic champagne*

People Come and Go But True Friends Are Forever

There’s really nothing like making a new friend. Making new friends gives me a high that drugs or alcohol never could. I thrive in social settings because I am the definition of an extrovert. So making friends is something that comes naturally. However, it wasn’t always so easy for me. As you now know from my last post, I used to have major social anxiety. In fact, when I was younger I would always consider people way younger than me or decades older than me, my friends. To me, the definition of a friend was: someone you can be yourself around. And I always felt more myself around people who were not my age.

 

When my mom’s friends would come over I would get so excited. I could always talk to them about new boys I liked or what school was like, or ask them why friends my age were acting weird. The moms always had the answers that I wanted to hear. Knowing I had people older than me that could guide me through life’s challenges was something that always put my racing mind at ease. I knew I could always talk to them about whatever I wanted and they wouldn’t judge me. One of my mom’s friends in particular became like a mother figure to me. This actually happened often with the moms I would talk to. I was very fortunate to have very strong and insightful women as role models in my life. Anyways, after lots of advice on how to make friends, I started to make new friends along my journey.

 

My best friend all growing up was a girl named Harper. Harper and I would do everything together. I would ride on her handlebars. We would sing and make up songs together, skip dive team together and hide in the bathrooms and we would even write each other letters that were in a code we made up together. Nothing could stop us when we were together. Harper didn’t care what people thought of her. She lived in the moment and with no regrets. I always admired that about her. I also had another friend named Maddie. Maddie was incredibly smart. She knew everything about music, art, politics and really just everything. Even at a young age I knew that Maddie could outsmart just about anybody and it was no problem for her. She taught me so many things about life that I would have never known. Maddie was always there when I needed someone to talk to about what I was feeling and I learned I can be myself and should always be myself from her.

 

As I grew older and I hit my teenage years, I became friends with a girl named Morgan. She was unlike anyone I had ever met. She was super girly and loved makeup, and was really good at applying it, but also had a rougher side that spoke the truth and didn’t take shit from anyone. Morgan was outspoken and people didn’t always treat her with the compassion that she deserved. I always saw something in her that was unique and special. She was kind and cared about me and wanted me to be happy and when things got hard for me, she never let me down. I remember we would have sleepovers and make up dances to Chris Brown songs, dye our hair pink (temporarily), and talk about boys. Morgan was the first friend that taught me that life is a party, and you should always embrace it with music and good friends!

 

I made more friends once I got into high school. I had my friends, then I had people I talked to in my classes who were more like acquaintance. Then I had friends in chorus: Lauren, Jenaya, Ariella.

 

Lauren was soo talented and when we would sing together I would always hear her voice and think it was the prettiest sound ever. She was always tough and quirky and I appreciated how she never let other’s opinions get her down when she would make wild decisions. I always wished I could live as freely as she did. Even when people were judgmental of her, she was so poised in how she carried herself that none of it really mattered. She was also incredibly beautiful inside and out and was friends instantly with anyone she came into contact with. Lauren is the definition of a genuine soul.

 

Ariella was a friend who was four years younger, but I didn’t care. She was mature for her age and we got along great! She really knew how to carry herself and she was talented but not arrogant. She always listened to me and gave me really great advice and I will always cherish the talks we have had. Jenaya was my really fun and spontaneous friend. I would call her Gigi and she would call me Coco. Together we were a force that could not be stopped. We would always joke that someday we would take over the world. I remember we would harmonize together and twerk outside during chorus class. She gave me so much confidence in myself that I never knew I could have.

 

These people were my high school friends and still are my friends. I had many other friends in high school but most of them I don’t talk to anymore. I was going through a hard time in high school and many of my friends were taken aback by it which was understandable and so we stopped speaking to each other. However, I am not upset at this at all because I have so many amazing friends today. My newest friends include: Jazzy, Tay, Cass, Jake, Cole, Haley, James, Claire, Andrew, Kaela, Angie and so many others. I even made a new friend tonight named Sarah. I will talk about these friends later but that is a post for a whole other time.

 

The point is, these friends I have talked about have shaped me into the person that I am today. I am stronger because of the friendships that have helped me through so many struggles. Without these people in my life I wouldn’t be where I am right now. So if you are reading this and you are one of those people, thank you for being there for me and loving me no matter what. I really don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing group of friends but I am so thankful that you have made a mark on my life and have changed me for the better!

 

Until next time -Lola

My Anxiety

I almost feel kind of selfish for writing this post. I say that because my anxiety could be a lot worse than what it actually is or what other people feel. Yet, here I am wanting to talk about it because it has played a big role in my life even without me noticing it. Here is my story and if you can relate, I would love to hear from you or hear your story. Everyone has a different story about their struggle with anxiety, some rarely get it and others get it every day and then there's those who are in between. Regardless, I am here to tell my story in regards to how it all started and why I think it did in the first place. I will also talk about the steps I have taken to reduce my anxiety.

It all started when I was in middle school and I think what really sparked it was my depression. I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I would get these terrible feelings of death that would linger over me and it was all just horrible. Those started when I was about 11 and I became obsessed with death and suicide. However, that is a whole other topic in itself. Anyways, my depression led to me having anxiety because I didn't know WHY I was feeling or thinking these terrible thoughts. I thought something was terribly wrong with me and I couldn't control these feelings of despair and darkness.

I started doing strange things to cope with the anxiety I was feeling. I would stay in my room for hours on end and write about the anxious and dark feelings that I had, along with sleeping way too much. I would also not sleep at all at some points and developed insomnia and had to skip most days at school to catch up on my sleep. 

At the time I only had one friend my age and would play with the neighborhood kid next door who was 6 years old when I was 12 or 13. This was certainly weird behavior, since I felt like it was a chore to have to talk to people my own age. I dreaded it. Every time I talked to someone my own age I thought in my head "They don't have the same depressing thoughts that I do, so what's the point?" I kept this mentality up for a long time and it actually really worsened my anxiety altogether.

Avoiding people definitely worsened my anxiety. So by the time high school came around I was even more nervous. I would get these terrible feelings of anxiety when I talked to people because I thought they were judging me. I was in an A'capella group of mostly seniors and juniors and I was one of the only freshmen. It was me and my friend and we were the only Freshmen who were in the group. I got a solo and was sooo scared of singing it in front of all the boys in the room. I felt like all eyes were on me and I couldn't stand that feeling. 

Lucky for me, with lots of practice, my social anxiety went away within a couple of years. Things that were once so terrifying to me, were suddenly not so bad. And then all of a sudden I had to apply to colleges. I was someone who got pretty good grades in high school. They weren't amazing but they were manageable, but the idea of college scared me more than anything in the world. Around this time, was the first time I experienced a panic attack when I was thinking about my future, and it was in my car while I was driving.

This then led to me being TERRIFIED of riding in cars, being in cars and driving. I don't share this with most people, but I would rather break both of my arms than be in a car for more than two hours. It is a nightmare for me. I hate the highway; the cars that speed ahead of you. I hate when it gets dark and I hate being in the car with someone when I am not used to their driving. I have had multiple panic attacks in cars. Some even happened outside of the car when I was just thinking about it.

I have several fears: cars, small spaces, being abandoned and not finishing college or getting to where I want to in life. Listing these fears makes them seem so small like they could just all fit in my hand. These are things that give me anxiety now. Sometimes the anxiety is so bad that I can't sleep and I throw up because I am so scared. However, one thing is for sure, I know that there are things I can do to help ease it.

One thing that really helps me get all of my nerves out is working out. And when I say working out, I mean sweating my ass off and really working hard. This may sound terrible to some of you, but it actually makes me feel so much better and leaves me feeling relaxed and refreshed. Also essential oils help tremendously. I have a diffuser (which I am using at this very moment) and I put a few drops of whatever essential oil I am feeling and turn it on. Ta-da! Goodbye anxiety!

Another helpful tool for calming down anxiety is writing. I am not afraid to say that I have a journal (two actually). And they are so good for when you have a racing mind (I always do), to calm down the nervous energy and transform it into something you can make sense of. Also calling someone you trust when you get anxious is great and it's free and it will help so much to put you in a better state of mind1

These are all great ways to reduce anxiety and stress and I hope my story helped you to know that if you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone! I am someone you can reach out to! Anxiety is something that you can tackle and I hope you choose to like I have! I think this has been a good first blog! Sorry if it was kind of heavy but I will only be posting truth on here and I can't wait for more posts to come!

See you next time! -Lola