Little Things the Make Life Worth Living

So often we look at the things that make us not want to live.  We don’t look at the little things in life that are so simple and yet make us smile.  Here is a list of 25 little things, that for me, make life worth living –

   (oh, and I really had to think about this, it was no easy task.  Although the more I did it, I kept thinking of sillier and sillier things that did make me happy. Thinking of positives is so much harder than picking out the negatives!)

         

1. The smell of a wood burning fireplace on a cold winter day

2. A hot shower when you are freezing cold from the bitter wind blowing in your face

3. Customer Service making everything better without an argument!

4. Being able to sleep in, and actually sleeping in – no kids to wake you up, no sun in your eyes, no alarm going off, and no surprises.

5. Dogs (or any animal) that comes to cuddle with you when you are sad

6. The beautiful color of the tree leaves when fall comes and all you see are red, orange, and yellow

7. Digital photos – you can see if the picture is good and you can delete it and make sure no one sees it if it isn’t!  

8. Indoor swimming pools

9. Kindle (or Nook) – I have all my books in one place! No more having to lug them around. 

10. Of course, I still love the smell of a good old fashioned paper book!

11. The sunset, knowing that tomorrow starts a new day

12. Being in crowded store and a cashier secretly telling you that they are opening their register! Score!!

13.  Clean public restrooms

14.  A stranger’s smile 🙂

15.  Finding money in a pocket of a jacket I hadn’t worn since last winter $

16.  Making a to-do list of things I have already done, and checking it all off.  Accomplished!

17. Walking barefoot in the grass

18.  Popping bubble wrap

19. Breakfast for dinner.

20.  Getting mail, like a letter, not an email.

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21. Talking into a fan and making a robot voice (its fun even when you are an adult)

22. Eating peanut butter with a spoon

23. Free shipping

24. Memories that can make you laugh years later

25. Enjoying something so much you lose track of time.

She Wouldn’t Eat

She was one of my best friends.  I was a sophomore in college and she had just started her freshman year.  We were both stuck in the worst dorm – no air conditioning, small rooms, no elevator, and a bit beat up. She lived across the hall from me. 

One night three of us (me, her, and another friend), were sitting in my dorm room talking.  We were discussing the hardships of college.  Annoying professors, exams, pressures to fit in, extracurricular activities, and all the other stuff that goes along with being in college.  We somehow got on the topic of depression.  I was depressed.  I had been depressed since I was raped my freshman year.  I opened up about it.  Both of my friends were freshman (yes, I was one of the few sophomores stuck in a dorm full of freshman!) and I felt like being open to them about what I had been through and how I was feeling was important so they would know it was ok to feel down and be open about their thoughts and feelings. 

Then she told me something I wasn’t really expecting.  She had an eating disorder.  She had seemed so happy.  She seemed like she was dealing with school so well.  How could I have held such a horrible stigma!  I was going through my own mental health issues and had kept it hidden, people probably would have thought the same for me – how could she be depressed?  She explained how she grew up in an abusive home, her brothers were still dealing with abuse, how she never wanted to eat and when she did she would purge. 

I have never had an eating disorder, so I really couldn’t tell her, “I know how you feel.” I could be empathetic though.  I could feel her pain.  I know what it is like to deal with abuse.  I know what it is like to feel out of control.  I know what it is like to want control.  For me, wanting to kill myself is how I attempt to gain control.  When I feel out of control, the only thing I feel like I can control is if I live or die – so I feel like I need to kill myself – I feel like dying is how I can get control of my life.  I take my life away, no one else can.  Or cutting myself, only I can hurt myself, no one else can. 

I was already in therapy, and after much convincing, my other friend and I talked with her to get her to discuss this with our college psych department.  She entered therapy.  However, through this she realized that the best thing to do was to take a semester off.  She never returned to college though.  Sometimes I feel like I ruined her chance at an education because of my stepping in, but I also know that if I hadn’t I do not know how far it might have gone and how much it would have hurt her.  I am proud to say she is doing well though.  She has a beautiful daughter.  She is raising her on her own and providing for herself financially.  She is happy and seems to be managing her eating disorder well. 

People say that is what eating disorders are about – getting control.  I am not sure if that is how it is for everyone.  As I said, I have never had one.  So if you are reading this, please comment and let me know what it is like for you.  Any insight is welcome. 

Post a Day – Looking Back, I’m Still Alive

WordPress- Post a Day

As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?

 

Today, I have made it to the age of 26.  I never thought I would live this long.  I never thought I would make it past high school to be honest.  Depression plagued me.  Suicidal thoughts invaded my brain from the time I was 11.  I didn’t necessarily think I would take my own life, but I sincerely thought I would be dead before I ever reached the legal age of adulthood – the legal age to buy a cigarette or a few years later when I could drink my problems and thoughts down with alcohol.

I created a fantasy world for those around me of what my life as an adult would be.  Never for myself though. I never believed it.  My world as an adult was created to please my parents, my teachers, and my friends.  I created wild dreams of what I would be and who I would become.  I pediatric oncologist!  I saw Patch Adams and loved the movie – yes I would follow in his footsteps.  I would make kids smile, I would create my own free clinic to help those in need.  I would get amazing scholarships so no one would have to pay for my school. 

I told everyone!!!  Yes, I am going to be a doctor.  Not just any doctor. I want to be an oncologist.  A pediatric oncologist!  I am going to make kid smile.  “Won’t that be sad?” they asked.  “Well, yes. Sometimes.  But you have to look at all the lives I will save!” I would tell them.  I knew none of it would ever happen.  I would never have to prove any of this to them.  This was all a fantasy, I would never be an adult. I would never live to have to actually do any of this. 

Mental illness is a horrible thing.  It distorts your views.  I did grow up.  I did take AP classes in high school.  I did get amazing grades despite my awful suicidal thoughts and severe depression.  I went to college.  I majored in nursing.  I barely got through my last 2 years as I was hospitalized for psychiatric reason 8-10 times during those last 1.5 years.   But I had amazing grades, and I did receive my RN.  I had a nurse fellowship at a outpatient oncology clinic. I loved it.  It did seem to be my calling.  Mental illness is something I struggle with though.  I don’t practice as a nurse right now.  I know it is something that is too overwhelming for me and something that I cannot do at this time.  It is still part of my childhood fantasy – something that I created for others, not for myself. 

I am alive though.  That is pretty far off from what my childhood view was of my adult life.  My biggest view during childhood was that I would be dead. Here I am though, in the flesh, alive – heart beating, mind thinking.  Totally opposite!

Keeping a Routine – Essential but Oh So Hard!

Staying on a routine is incredibly hard for me, but it is one of the most important things to keeping me mentally healthy!!!

I am on disability and so I literally have almost nothing to do all day.  I try so hard to keep a routine.  I try to plan things to do – get up, brush my teeth, take a shower, ummm what else? What else is there to do?  I can’t spend money, I have no money.  I have no where to go.  I really don’t know anyone.  The people I do know are from my support group and they live like an hour away.  That’s a no go.  Hmm, what else is there.  Sit around, read, write, draw paint.  Walk.  Ok, but I can do those whenever I want.  Sleep.  Ruminate on the past.  Have a flashback, a panic attack.  Cry.  Ruminate some more.  Oooh hi anxiety, you are back for a visit! 

The most stable I ever was, was when I was in the state hospital for 6 months.  I had a set schedule, wake up, get ready, breakfast, community meeting, go to groups all day long (all of which I really enjoyed and learned from), made lots of friends, had lunch in between it all, came back for dinner, had option groups (fun stuff like cooking class, movie club, etc), and then we could stay up as late as we wanted to watch tv, read, etc as long as we woke up the next morning on time.  It was perfect for me.  I was held accountable to a schedule. I was expected to be somewhere at a certain time and I had consequences for not being there.  There was really no stress related to it though, if it didn’t happen, there was a consequence, (loss of off unit privileges etc) but I could talk through what happened with the therapists. 

My problem here is the stress of getting a job completely overwhelms me.  I will self sabotage because of the anxiety.  I have attempted suicide on multiple occasions before a job interview.  If I even get a job I end up getting so stressed out I just quit the job or call in sick all the time.  And now, I cannot even get an interview to a job because I have no work history for the last 2 years.  So I cannot even try to see how I would do. 

I have worked with my psychiatrist and therapist to discuss getting on a routine at home on me own – wake up, daily hygiene, daily walk, spend time working on my art, call someone each day (socialization of some time since I isolate), no electronics for more than 4 hours a day (not working so much since I started this blog!), and then a bedtime routine.  As much as I tried to do that, I just cant stick to it.  I am not accountable to anyone but myself and there are no consequences if I don’t do it.  If I had to be somewhere at a certain time to meet someone, I can follow through with that – therapy, NAMI group, those I can do.  But spend 2 hours on art, sure I will do that when I feel like it.  Call someone, I freak out calling people, so that will happen when I decide it happens – unless someone says I owe them a lot of money and I know that my bank account depends on it cause I cant afford it and I know it is a mistake.  Routines just don’t work for me!

I know they are essential to my mental health though.  I have talked to a lot of other people from my support groups and have heard it from many other therapists over my years in counseling and they all agree, routines make things better.  They help you stay focused and busy so you have less time to think about the negatives.  They keep you from ruminating on the past or what is going on. 

Do you have a routine? How do you keep your routine?  Do you feel like it helps with your mental health?

Mindfulness

It is so hard to be mindful. I struggle with staying in the moment all the time. This sums up exactly why we should be mindful though! Excellent reminder!

College on Crutches

Mindfulness. The word alone makes me cringe a bit inside after the absurd amount of times I’ve heard it in various hospitals and treatment centers. Ick. I have flashbacks to the oddly-colored sign in the psych ward dining room, promoting mindfulness and peace. The word brings up memories of sitting in a hospital meeting room with a bunch of other pain patients, discussing ways to take our focus off of the pain. I never thought I’d actually practice this skill, but now I am realizing that I have been practicing mindfulness without even realizing it.

So what is this crazy concept? Being mindful…of what? Well, the way I understand it, mindfulness means living in the moment. It means focusing on the present rather than what has happened or what will happen in the future. It’s about becoming aware of your thoughts but not letting them get to you. Mindfulness…

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