Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why I'd Lose the Hunger Games

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Hunger Games. I’m obsessed. I read all 3 books in 8 days and basically cried when the last one was done. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the greatest book series since Harry Potter. So yes, along with the rest of the world, I went to go see the Hunger Games on opening day. And yes, it was amazing. But this isn’t about that. This is about why I would immediately lose the Hunger Games. Like, step off of the platform and immediately die.
You see, the main character in the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, has been described as “an independent survivalist, lethal, but good at thinking outside the box”, and “a highly skilled archer, hunter, and trapper. A skilled tree-climber and very logical”. I, on the otherhand have been described as a "nice girl. Compassionate and sweet with a big heart. Has a hard time with change and enjoys following a routine."
I don't see this working well for me in a life or death, survival of the fittest, every man for himself type situation.

So here are just a few of the many reasons I would not survive the Hunger Games.

1. I would have a full blown panic attack before I even entered the arena. Now I could always take a Klonopin before hand to ease the nerves, but I have a feeling it might slow me down.

2. I cannot run to save my life. I can barely power walk. And in this case I would need have some serious speed. So after about 45 seconds of running, I would stop to catch my breath while another tribute knifed me right in the back. And there wouldn’t be a dang thing I could do about it.

3. I don’t eat meat. So even if I could shoot a bird or squirrel, I wouldn’t be able to eat it. So unless someone sponsored me and sent me some beans or cake, I would die of starvation.

4. I like to nap. However, in the arena, napping is not really an option if you want to stay alive.

5. I don’t know how to use weapons. I would probably end up poking my eye out with the bow and arrow.

6. Hygiene matters to me. I shower everyday and brush my teeth twice a day. Not being able to stay clean would be enough to make me grab a handful of nightlock and end it all myself.

So Katniss Everdeen, I solute you (and kind of want to be you). For being everything I am not (except for compassionate).

What about you? Have you read the books? Seen the movie? What skills do you have that might help you win the Hunger Games?


Friday, March 23, 2012

MY story

Agoraphobia, Anorexia, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Bulimia, Depression, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and many many more. These are just a few common mental illnesses that affect individuals all over the world. In fact, one in four adults, or approximately 57.7 million Americans, experience some mental health disorder in any given year. Mental illnesses affects all different demographics and does not discriminate against age, race, religions, or income.

Unfortunately, there is a great negative stigma that comes along with mental illnesses. This stigma affects confidence that these mental disorders are real health conditions. Just like cancer and diabetes, mental illnesses are medical conditions that result from an imbalance in the brain. These conditions cannot be overcome through sheer willpower and are not the result of personal weakness. Unfortunately these negative stigmas have brought about a sense of shame, which keeps people from sharing their stories.

Well, I refuse to be ashamed of my story. But it hasn’t always been that way…

Growing up I was always an anxious child. I sat out during field day because I was nervous I would mess something up and get made fun up. I sat on the side during birthday parties because the noises and people made me uncomfortable. I was certainly not a deprived child and I actually had a pretty normal childhood. In elementary school, and even in middle school, I had trouble sleeping in my own room. It made me nervous to be in there alone in the dark. So up until 8th grade I slept on the floor in my parents bedroom. It was around then that my mom started taking me to therapy to find out the real reason behind my fears. After a year or so with my psychologist, we chalked it up to general anxiety and moved on. I was sleeping in my own room, so there was really nothing to worry about. However that all changed my sophomore year of high school. I was sitting in Spanish class when a boy in my class proceeded to throw up all over the door. It didn’t seem like a big deal in the moment, but that single event was just what I needed to tip off a long, hard battle with panic disorder. Going home that night, all I could talk about or think of was that boy throwing up. I remember pouring a glass of water out on the kitchen floor and explaining to my mom that that is what is sounded like when the boy threw up. My mind was obsessed and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The next morning I told my mom I wasn’t feeling well and I stayed home from school. This pattern continued for the next few days, until finally both me and my mother realized that there was again something deeper going on. So the next week I tried to go to school. And just like that my life changed. I could no longer go to class without having a major panic attack. I was frustrated because I didn’t know exactly what I was so nervous about, but I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I found myself shaking, sweating, heart racing, knees weak, ears muffled, and hyperventilating just from sitting in class. I called my mom and told her she had to pick me up. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I felt like my world was crumbling around me. I tried to negotiate and go to one class a day, but even that became too hard. It was back to therapy for me, where I was then diagnosed with full blown panic disorder with agoraphobic tendencies. I was anxious in the car, in the grocery store, at school, and in my own house. I was living in a constant state of anxiety sprinkled with horrifying panic attacks. I hated myself. I hated my body and my mind for doing this to me. I hated being in my own skin. I stopped going to school and worked from a hospital homebound program. My teachers were very supportive, especially my math and chorus teachers. But it was still hard being away from my friends and not being able to lead a normal life. I thought I was actually going “crazy”. I would cry and cry and cry before therapy sessions, telling my mom “I don’t want to go to therapy! The only people who go to therapy are crazy people!”. And at the time, that really is what I believed to be true. With almost 2 full years of being hospital homebound, I returned full time during my senior year. This all happened 8 years ago, and yet I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was by far the hardest time in my life, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Words can’t even being to explain the isolation, anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger I felt during that time in my life.

I wish I could say that I wouldn’t trade that time in my life for the world. But I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet. However I do know that I am who I am today because of what I had to go through. For a long time I was ashamed of my story. I was embarrassed that I was different, and society made me feel like I was “crazy”. But I wasn’t. In fact, I was far from it. I was strong and I made it through something hard. Does that make me crazy? No. So I tell my story with pride. My personality, my thoughts, feelings, struggles, and victories are all shaped by what I have overcome, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my struggle with a mental illness.

So if you are struggling with a mental illness, any mental illness at all, please don’t be ashamed. Your struggles are molding you to become a better person. To be more tolerant and understanding and empathetic. And stronger. And you will get through it. Although it may seem hopeless and never ending, like it did many times for me, there is always something to look forward to and hope for. Things do get better. And although you may feel like it, you are not alone in your struggles. There are 57.7 million Americans struggling with a mental illness right now! So don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help sometimes, especially when there is something going on with our health. You are important and you matter, and you are worthy of help, just like a person with cancer or diabetes. So don’t let a stigma define you. Define yourself and show others that you are more than an illness. Show them that mental illnesses aren’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you are full of strength. And in the words of Shantel Van Santen, “I encourage you to share your story, because you have been given a gift. The gift of a voice. So honor it and use it for a positive change. Use it so that others might feel inspired by your strength and know that they’re not alone. We all struggle. We’re all human. We all feel things. And it doesn’t matter if we’re male or female; what age, religion, sexuality, job, or walk of life. It’s universal.”

Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Because who you are is exactly who you are meant to be. Whether you are currently struggling or have struggled in the past; you are strong, there is hope, and your illness does not have to define you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gymnastics Bug

Here are some widely known facts about me, that you probably have already figured out:

1. I get entirely too emotionally invested in TV shows
1a. I have the TV habits of a 15 year old girl
2. I used to dance and do gymnastics/acro. It was my life for years and years.
3. I greatly enjoy living in the past.

Which leads me to my next point. One of my guilty pleasure TV shows is “Make It Or Break It” on ABC Family. For those of you who don’t obsessively watch ABC Family, Make It Or Break It is about a group of ultra talented gymnasts who are training to go to the 2012 Olympics. There’s a main group of 4 girls who have different obstacles to overcome, but season 2 leaves us with 3 of the girls competing at Worlds, which is the step before the Olympics. Needless to say, I am really into this show. I started watching it because the gymnastics were absolutely amazing, but I quickly got sucked into the dramatic storylines. I was lucky to meet 2 of the girls at the Team True Beauty event in January, which only really fueled my obsession. So over my spring break, I decided to rewatch all of season 2 to prepare for the upcoming season 3. And with the upcoming season premier and the impending summer Olympics, I have been bitten by the gymnastics bug. Hard. My obsession with Make It Or Break It, combined with my small and very amateur past history with gymnastics, and my love of living in the past, led me to spend a lot of my time in my backyard doing cartwheels, handstands, roundoffs, front walkovers, and front handsprings. However, I am not a gymnast. So if you want to see what all the fuss is about, enjoy this gymnastics clip from Make It Or Break It and see what I’m talking about!

   Me pretending I have gymnastics skills. And hanging out with Josie Loren who plays Kaylie Cruz and Cassie Scerbo who plays Lauren Tanner

 Do you guys have a favorite gymnastics event? Bars? Beam? Floor? Vault?

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's a Friend?

What is a friend? The dictionary says that a friend is “an ally in a fight or cause; supporter; a person who is closest to you". Some quotes say that "a friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same". While I agree with both of these things, I think that it's so hard to describe what a friend is in a few short sentences. However, let me introduce you to my friends and what they mean to me.
I have the best friends in the whole world (I’m willing to put money on it). And the great thing is that all of my friendships are different. With my friend Christine I talk to her almost everyday and tell her everything. With my friend Emily we don’t talk on the phone or text very often, but when we see each other it’s great and comfortable and we have so much fun. It’s kind of the same with Sarah, since she lives in Pennsylvania and we don’t get to talk that much. But she was just in Wilmington for spring break and we had SO much fun. Then there’s Katie and Kelsey and Helen. We all became friends our freshman year of college. We immediately bonded. We lived in the same dorm, we were all a little nervous about college, and we all went through a lot of things together that year. I think since freshman year we’ve only grown closer. And Lindsey. Who was my roommate freshman year, and is also part of the “Sisterhood”, aka Lindsey, Katie, Kelsey, Helen, and me. Lindsey and I live together again and are closer than ever. We finish each others sentences, laugh at the same stupid things, and are pretty much equally as nerdy. And I have a ton of other friends that mean so much to me, all in different ways.
But there is one thing that all of these friendships have in common. I am more myself with them then I am without them. They bring out the best, the worst, the funniest, the saddest, the happiest, the most in me. I laugh louder and cry harder with them. They are the people who I trust the most. Who I trust so much that I feel comfortable with letting my guard down and being me. I feel home when I’m with my friends, and there is no better feeling in the world.
                                             The Sisterhood being goofy

                                 Me and Sarah, best friends since kindergarten

                    Me and Kels (aka Booger aka my Twix buddy aka Mama Kels)

                                      Me, Emily, and Christine at fancy dinner

                                                  Me and Christine

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Yall. I can't even. I had crazy tests and then spring break and now I'm back at school and things are even crazier. And my family is coming to town for the week. So I apologize for my blogging break, but I fear that my head might explode if I try to think of something interesting to blog about.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Starving the Monster

Today I heard something that really resonated with me. “Fear is food for anxiety. And it can’t live forever if you don’t feed it.” Back in high school, when I was having a lot of panic issues, my counselor once said to me “Panic is a monster that is taking over your life. And every time you don’t do something or don’t try something out of fear, you are feeding that monster and helping it to grow bigger and stronger. You have to stop feeding the monster. Starve the monster”. I always understood where people were coming from when they said that to me, but it still didn’t make things any easier. There were times in my life where I was sure that the monster had won and that I was going to spend the rest of my life in my house feeding the stupid monster. But luckily I had people in my life who were willing to help me and who were willing to push me to starve the monster. I found this e-mail from one of my teachers who helped me greatly through that time in my life and helped me to fight the monster. It said:

“I am sorry it didn't work out for you to attend the concert, but no hard feelings, OK? I have never had to deal with anything like this myself, but I know it is very real. I spoke with Mr. Walen today, and he told me something that I believe he told you as well. He mentioned that dealing with this everyday is like having a monster under your bed, and you either feed it and make it grow, or starve it to death. I think that is an excellent analogy, and I hope you can find the strength to begin applying it the next time you're faced with anything that you feel you just can't do. I'm hoping to get by and see you either tomorrow during 2nd period, or Friday, and I want you to also know that the visit will be totally on your terms. If I need to only stay 10 or 15 minutes, that's fine. I know I've told you this already, but I care a lot about you, and want to see you get well. I haven't given up on you, and I will fight for you, and I am happy to do whatever I can to help you.”

So whatever you might be dealing with, just know that it might get harder before it gets easier. And “starving the monster” is tough. But in the end it is so worth it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why I Want to be Selena Gomez

At the age of 22, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I greatly enjoy Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel. I’m also embarrassed to say that me and my best friend (who was also 22 at the time) went to see the movie Monte Carlo just because it had Selena Gomez in it. I know it’s strange, but I just can’t even help it. I love Selena Gomez. There. I said it out loud. And it’s not the first time I’ve said it. And it won’t be the last. So ladies and gentlemen, here are the reasons I want to actually be Selena Gomez.

1. She’s gorgeous. Long hair, short hair, straight hair, wavy hair, dressed up, or dressed down, she’s gorgeous. And so adorable!

2. She’s dating Justin Bieber. Now, I would not say that I have the “Bieber Fever”, but I do think he’s adorable, and attractive (he’s officially 18, so I can say that now!), and talented!

3. She was on Barney when Barney was cool. What kid didn’t grow up wanting to be on Barney? She got to hang out with a young Demi Lovato and a big purple dinosaur, and get paid for it!

4. She was named after THE Selena. Do you even know how many times I’ve seen the movie Selena? Every time we had a substitute from elementary school all the way to high school, that is what we watched. And I watched Selena do her thing, and wanted to be her too.

5. She’s friends with Taylor Swift. I think T. Swift is funny, and nerdy, and probably really down to earth, making her a super friend to have.

6. She’s been on Ellen. More than once. I want to be on Ellen. At least once.

So these are just a few of the many reasons I would not mind actually being Selena Gomez. However, I know that’s not actually possible, so I suppose I’d settle for being her BFF.