Friendships and such.

Friendships are hard (just as hard as relationships in some cases). For myself, it’s hard to balance my needs/wants with pleasing/making my friends happy. I struggle with saying no and setting boundaries because I don’t want to lose friends. As you can imagine, this sometimes leads to not so great friendships that are more detrimental than fulfilling.

I had a situation recently where someone I’ve been friends with (not long, maybe about a year) starting saying things that were outright offensive. This person held a lot of prejudice towards certain groups of people (some of which I’m apart of – yes, they were aware of that). I’m not a confrontational person so I tried to ignore it or justify it by saying they were a nice person, however I came to a point recently where they said something so offensive that I could no longer justify my being close with them. I could be friendly and maintain a casual friendship, but being close in my mind seemed uncomfortable.

I had conflicting feelings because I didn’t want to upset them. After thinking about it further, I came to the realization that I’m allowed to feel uncomfortable and act upon those feelings in an appropriate manner, whether it be through distancing myself a bit or having a conversation with the person. I don’t have to be close with a person that makes me uncomfortable even if it hurts their feelings. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

This situation, albeit difficult, I think helped me understand more how important it is that I take my feeling in a friendship seriously. It takes a lot for me to not just go along with things because I don’t want to hurt other people and frankly I’m happy I stopped doing that in this situation. Have any of you ever dealt with a situation similar to this?

Steph xoxo

(P.S. I know I’ve been MIA for a bit, I’m sorry! My job has been insane lately but hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. new coworkers and more help!). I’ve been posting a lot on my instagram (stephtriesmakeup) so definitely go check it out! <3️)

Advertisements

Suicide Prevention

Wednesday was a bit of a rough day for me. Wednesday 3 years ago was the day when the body of a close friend of mine was found – he died by suicide and it hit everything in his life like a ton of bricks. No one expected it – he was a happy, amazing guy who would do anything for anyone who asked. He helped me through some of the toughest times in my life and frankly I can thank him for saving my life. Many were shocked that this amazing guy was struggling with some serious suicidal thoughts.

Something that still bothers me to this day (despite my knowledge and having worked in the suicide prevention field) is how blindsided I was. I felt that maybe if I picked up on some hidden clue (that to this day I still can’t find) in our conversations maybe I could have helped him. I think it’s a thought that goes through many people’s head after losing a friend to suicide and can be a horrible one to have.

A hard truth I learned from working at the suicide hotline is sometimes there really aren’t many (or any) signs. I’ve also learned this from experience – sometimes the most gut wrenching suicidal ideation just pops into my without any rhyme or reason. Playing the “what if” game, blaming yourself for what you didn’t do can become a vicious cycle that doesn’t accomplish anything. This blog offers some helpful insight into this and also lists someone common signs that are present when there are signs. They can range from talking about suicide, obtaining means, and giving away prized possessions.

The most important thing I think I’ve learned since this is how important it is to spread suicide prevention resources to everyone and anyone. There is so much the suicide prevention hotlines can do to save lives that it’s vital that everyone (those in and outside the mental health community) knows the phone numbers for their local suicide hotline. Someone may not feel comfortable talking to close family/friends about their feelings or letting them know they’re thinking about suicide (the stigma around suicidal thoughts and ideation is real) but may feel comfortable talking to a stranger about it. I still carry a card in my wallet that has the National Lifeline’s phone number on it, just in case I or someone else (stranger, family, anyone) I know needs it.

I spent a lot of the day thinking back to the good memories I have of him – our ice cream trips, being lab partners in Biology, and our talks before class about everything and anything. He was an amazing person and I miss him dearly – I wish he would have talked to someone (his family, other friends, me, anyone) about what he as going through. But I understand that the stigma surrounding it causes so many people to stay silent. I hope someday that stigma around suicidal ideation is erased and people can talk openly about it without fear of being judged.

 

 

How to survive a depressive episode

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about lately, more so because I think I’m in the midst of a depressive episode. For the past week or so my mood has felt…off? My mood has been pretty stable the last few months (I saw my psychiatrist last week and had good things to report to him) so this change was stark. I’ve felt more anxious, irritable, depressed, and looking at things in a more negative light. I haven’t wanted to do things I normally enjoy either. It all culminated into a very scary couple of hours last night; it mostly consisted of ruminating over what has been bothering me and some interspersed suicidal ideation. Thankfully, those thoughts diminished with some time (and rest). My depressive episodes can normally last a few weeks but there are some things that help me (in addition to seeing a mental health professional on a regular basis) when dealing with depressive episodes.

  1. Fighting the urge to isolate. I 100% know that when depressive episodes happen, the urge to isolate is strong. I usually ignore my phone, ignore my fiance, and just want to stay away from everyone. However, even if you don’t feel ready to talk about what’s going on just being in the presence of someone else (someone you love, feel comfortable around, and can trust) can be soothing. Even if it’s through electronic means (i.e. calling someone or FaceTiming them), it can really be helpful to be in contact with someone.
  2. Going out of your way to be “kind” to yourself. For myself, it’s helpful when I write myself little inspirational messages on notecards to take around with me. If I’m having trouble getting through a day I’ll pull one out and read it to myself for motivation. If it’s a really rough day (particularly at work) I might go into the bathroom or my car and give myself a little pep talk. Something like “You’ll get through this day, you’ve made it through so many other days you can make it through this one. You’re strong and have the tools to succeed”.
  3. Treating yourself in someway. Whether it be getting your favorite dinner or snack, watching a favorite TV show, or getting some pampering done (i.e. nails or haircut) it’s something small that might help for a moment to lighten the weight of the depression.
  4. When you feel ready, talking to someone about what you’re going through. Whether it be your mental health professional, a trusted loved one, or a person at a talk/crisis line, talking (when you feel ready) can be beneficial. It can help with processing feelings and sometimes (if it is wanted) the person on the other side may have some helpful insight. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone, journaling (in an online blog or a private journal) can also be a really beneficial way to get feelings out.
  5. Reaching out and communicating honestly with mental health professionals. This (I feel) is a really important one. If you feel you’re at the point where your mood is getting worse and previous coping strategies are not helping as much as they use to, it may be helpful to call your mental health professional (psychiatrist or therapist) and schedule an emergency appointment to discuss everything.  They might suggest an adjustment in medication, increasing in appointment frequency, or even a higher level of care (think intensive outpatient treatment program). If you are ever struggling and need immediate help, in the U.S. the National Lifeline is open 24/7 (1-800-273-8255). This website also includes a list of suicide prevention hotlines across the globe. Your local ER can also be of help as well.

Overall for myself, what helps me get through the episodes are the small moments of happiness interspersed throughout. It reminds me “Hey, even thought I’ve overall felt depressed the past few weeks I can still experience happiness and this depressive episode (like the other ones for the past 10 years) will pass”. I know the next few weeks will be tough, but I feel I’ve learned some good strategies in the past 10 years and have good professional support that will help me make it through a depressive episode.

Steph xoxo

Acceptance 

Hey all! Sorry for my absence, I’ve been overwhelmed (to say the least) with work and class. My class is almost over and I’m in the home stretch! 

Something that’s been on my mind lately (for good reason) is body acceptance. It’s something that I think a lot of people struggle with at one point or another in their lives; there are a lot of outlets in our life (media, family, friends, lovers) who influence what we perceive as beautiful. It can be hard to wrangle with those perceptions if they do not completely embody how we look. 

I think it’s something that I’ve struggled with since I was a little girl. The idea of being thin was big in my household and while I was never overweight I was never thin. I was (and still am) an average size. For a while I felt like as if I wasn’t good enough because of this and was on a perpetual diet from age 10 to about age 22. I did all things that would fall under the disordered eating categories in an attempt to become thin. 

There was one incident I can recall that has always stuck with me. I was seeing a therapist as a teenager and she encouraged me to take a look at myself in the mirror unclothed and just study myself, noticing what makes me unique and what I like. I remember feeling so uncomfortable with my body that I couldn’t do it. 

I’m not sure what exactly changed at age 22 but I slowly but surely started to love myself and how I looked more and more. I didn’t mind my curves or the fact I wasn’t very thin. I stopped counting calories and started just listening to my body – stopped eating when I was full and let myself have a treat every now and then. 

Learning to accept my weight and body was a big step for me. Since then I’ve made smaller (but still significant) steps towards more acceptance. Something I’ve always been self conscious about is my baby hair. I have a ton of (very noticeable) baby hair – I’ve hated it since I was a little girl and always wanted to shave it off. I started plucking it off last year (a task that took up an hour a week) and recently thought to myself “You know what? My baby hair makes me unique, not everyone has it and I should embrace it if I can”. So as uncomfortable as it makes me I’ve let the baby hair grow back and will leave it be. 

I think something that helped me was changing what I followed on social media (as silly as it sounds). I made a conscious effort to follow pages and blogs that were body accepting and overall more empowering. I think it helped to see other people who were trying to love themselves more and more. Seeing those types of messages more and more on social media helped me continue the journey to self acceptance. 

Another helpful thing for myself is learning to do things (dressing up, wearing make up, doing my hair) for myself rather than others. I’ve stopped feeling as if I have to do these things so others will like me and started doing them because I want to.  

It’ll be a long journey to full acceptance but it’s one I’m excited I’ve started. What things help you with accepting yourselves? 

xoxo Steph

Stress is my middle name

Becoming an adult comes with great responsibility – besides the general pay your bills, clean your apartment stuff tending to your mental and physical health is an important responsibility that is often forgotten. It’s easy to push stress and physical pain aside and not handle them until they become a real problem. I’m diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (as well as bipolar disorder) so stress is something near and (not) dear to me. I often ruminate about things that happen at work, school, or some random irrational fear that pops up in my head (funny story about that, one time for a week I had a fear that my dog would get rabies from the squirrel she chases (damn squirrel always steals the seeds from the bird feeder) so I’d watch her carefully on the deck to make sure that squirrel didn’t touch her). I’d turn to food or isolation to help ease the anxiety however as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that those methods aren’t the most helpful.

A therapist I use to see gave me one of the most helpful suggestion for dealing with irrational fears/anxieties. He suggested I create a chart – one column describing the fear, one column describing all the reasons I have to believe the fear is true, one column describing all the reasons I have to believe the fear is false, and alternate theories to why a situation is the way it is. This suggestion really has helped me through some of my more personal, difficult fears as well as some of my more generic fears (I.e. Will I fail in life? type fears). What makes it so useful is getting the feelings out on paper rather than keeping them inside my head.

As childish as they may seem, adult coloring books are also a strategy that helps tame my anxiety. When I’m most anxious just spending 20 minutes coloring a picture helps distract me from the thoughts swirling in my head. Some of the anxiety is still there but the majority has passed by the time I’m done coloring that picture. Another childish one but video games help for me as well. I’ve been playing the game Ocarina of Time for the past month and I forget about most of the stressors of my day while playing. Both of these strategies (for me) help me disconnect from my busy head and focus on something else other than my anxieties for some time.

Learning how to handle stress and anxiety is a big part of that transition from childhood to adulthood. For myself, I feel that I’m still on that learning process of figuring out other strategies to handle the stress and also learning how to not stress about certain things (not sweating the small stuff so to speak). When I’ve talked about my stress to my fiancé (who is about 5 1/2 years older than me) he’s described that dealing with the stressors of adulthood gets easier with time. Things that seemed like a huge deal to him at 23 now don’t seem so huge at 29. I definitely agree with him in that respect but also acknowledge that finding those coping strategies helps make dealing with the stress easier. As with most things, it’s a learning process.

What coping strategies do you guys use to deal with the stressors of adulthood? Hope your week goes well!

Steph xoxo