I’ts OKAY to not be Okay.

“I’m not okay”

Who knew 9 letters could make a human feel so vulnerable.

From my experience, saying these three words does not bring the relief it should, but brings feeling of defeat. I have been working on myself and my mental health for years, and this is still one of my biggest struggles. Anxiety, Depression and all other mental health issues present in everyone differently. People on the outside may not even know we are struggling, which is why it is so important to vocalize our weaknesses when we need help.

I’ve decided to delve into this particular blog topic because lately, I have not been okay.

In a previous blog post I briefly mentioned receiving treatment when I was 14 years old for a depressive episode. I didn’t go into grave detail at that time for a few reasons: one being that it was not the main focus of my post and it’s also really hard to voice your very personal struggles on the internet.  But, when I think about it, I think that is where a lot of our problems with the mental health stigma begins. If we don’t talk about it, the taboo nature of this topic will just continue to grow.

I will start by saying I suffer from “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and “Clinical Depression.” I use quotations because those are the terms my physicians and insurance companies use. These are umbrella terms that manifest so differently person to person and everyone’s experiences are not the same, despite the same diagnosis. I for one, suffer mostly from anxiety, which doesn’t present itself like it is portrayed in the movies.

I am often overwhelmed with feelings of anger and irritability at a moments notice, with no clear cause or reason. I feel as if I am unable to cope, like I need a physical release to feel better. And when you don’t have that ability to let the feeling go it becomes overwhelming, the air feels thick, my hands sweat and I am encompassed with feelings of rage.

A perfect example of this was a few days ago, I was running late for work and my dog was whining to go out, I was trying to make my coffee and I drew one of my eyebrows on too thin. All of these things may seem so insignificant, but my blood started to boil. I was so enraged with my surroundings I had a delayed response to the fact I was accidentally burning my wrist on my curling iron.

By the time I finally got to my car I was fuming, white knuckling the steering wheel. And I just started to scream till my throat was hoarse. I needed to get this anger out, I was desperate to feel better. Instead, the tears started to flow and I just cried, in the parking lot of my work place.

It was there in my car I realized I couldn’t do this alone and I needed help, I needed support. No one should have to feel this way, and absolutely no one should have to feel it alone.

One of the most difficult things about asking for help is realizing it’s okay that you can’t do it alone. And that it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or you’re defeated. I think as humans we all want a sense of control. We want to be in charge of our life and our choices, let alone our feelings, and when we’re not, it can be devastating.

I often surprise people when I open up about my struggles and get responses like “but you’re so happy all the time” or “I would have never known” and that’s because I AM happy, outgoing, compassionate and dedicated. But I also hurt sometimes.

It is okay, to not be okay.

With that I say Good evening and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

I Went Viral, What’s Next?

April 25th, 2018 I was on my weekly overnight shift for the fire department when my phone started vibrating off the table at 2am. When I opened the screen I found hundreds of tweets on Twitter… about me. Half awake I was confused, I rarely used twitter, what could this be about?

The funny (and sometimes unfortunate) thing about the internet is once you post something, it’s out there forever. And that is exactly what was happening to me.

8 months prior, I was driving home from my overnight shift at the hospital when I (stupidly) ran out of gas on the highway. I pulled over to the far right, placed my hazards on and unbuckled my seat belt to reach into my glove box for my insurance information. While on the phone with roadside assistance, a distracted driver hit my car going 55mph and I was launched forward into my steering wheel and dashboard. The flustered, young driver called 911 as I shook and cried in the front seat of my car. The police arrived and instructed me not to move as I had a head laceration and was bleeding. The Paramedics arrived, pulled me from my vehicle and quickly brought me right back to hospital I had just left, as a trauma.

Internal bleeding was ruled out, an MRI was run and multiple X-Rays taken. Once all life threatening diagnoses were ruled out, I had my husband call my mother. I sent her a picture of myself to prove I was OK because, knowing my mother she would fly from New England to Hawaii in a heartbeat if I was hurt. She advised me to keep the photo for police evidence, if necessary. I was treated for a closed head injury, cervical strain, head laceration and knee contusion. Overall though, I am one lucky woman. I never thought I would be so happy to have someone tell me I was “hard headed” as most are not as lucky as I am with that hard of an impact.

Fast forward a week: as all millennial’s, I couldn’t not post online about my experience and recovery. Along with my health update I posted the picture I had sent to my mom. With every few “Happy you’re okay!” posts came “How did your make up stay intact?” Until this moment I hadn’t thought about it, why would I? Second glance at the photo though, I notice what they were saying. My mascara was running down my face and yet, my eyeliner was unaffected by the tears and hours of tests in ER. So, I decided to write a review on the eyeliner- any make up that can last through that deserves positive feedback. So I posted the review below, and never thought of it again.

review

Well, I never thought about it again until a user on Twitter read the review 8 months later and tweeted it out.

tweet

Within hours hundreds of thousands of people were tweeting me and news outlets were emailing me. Articles were written about me in Buzzfeed, TeenVogue, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Perez Hilton and dozens of others. I was even in a segment on CBC Boston News. At the peak 15, 500 people were following me on Instagram.

Slowly my followers have been dwindling and climbing down, probably because they realized I am not some beauty guru and am just an average joe. But I hope to use that as my advantage. We often look to social media influencers for advice on what to buy or where to go, but maybe we need opinions of average, day to day people. If I have learned anything from this crazy experience it is that my opinion matters. I now have this wonderful platform to build off of and hope to continue voicing my thoughts and ideas, whether it be mascara or mental health. I hope that you will all continue to support and follow along in my journey.

With that I say Good Night and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

 

A List of Daily Activities Good For Your Mental Health

Over the many years that I have struggled with depression and anxiety I have truly come to realize that it is the little things in life that we take for granted, and shouldn’t. Below are is a list of  things I do everyday for my personal Mental Health Wellness. Despite if you struggle with any Mental Illness, I think these are things we ALL can benefit from to be our best selves.

 

1, Make your bed- There is something so satisfying to a freshly made bed to come home to at night. I do it when I first wake up because it validates I have gotten up and done SOMETHING productive today.

2. Change your clothes- I don’t care if it’s you changing from one pair of sweats to another, change your clothes! Slipping into something fresh and clean automatically motivates me to move forward with my day and get shit done.

3. Shower- This may seem like a given but for people who suffer from depression, we lack motivation to meet our most basic needs. Listen, I won’t judge you if you throw your hair in a bun and only wash your body (mostly because I do this multiple times a week) but just get in the shower. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You deserve it.

4. Eat Breakfast- We all grew up hearing “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And its true. If I have to choose between putting on mascara for work or making an English muffin- The carbs will win every time. Plus I like having those few quiet moments to myself in the morning before work to eat and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

5. Say Please and Thank You- Yes, believe it or not, basic manners can make you feel better! I am a firm believer that what you put out into the world is what you will get back. So Thank your waitress, hold open the door for the person behind you. These actions take an extra 5 seconds and can make the difference in a person’s day.

6. Get outside- Even if it’s just to walk my dog around outside I try to get out once a day. It is all to easy to hole up in your bed with your laptop all day, but I personally feel junky if I do that. Just 5 minutes of fresh air can re-motivate and reset my brain to be productive.

7. Have Hobbies for Yourself- Pick some things that you genuinely enjoy, who cares what others think! I have been playing Sim’s since it first came out and currently still play to decompress. I also love to Bullet Journal and Read(which I need to make more time for)

All though the human experience is different for us all, at the end of the day we all need to make time for ourselves. What are some things you want to make time for everyday? I thoroughly encourage you to do so.

 

With that I say Good Evening and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

My Tattoos Define me, But Not The Way You Think

” Did you think about what you will look like 50 years from now when you got those tattoos?”

Yeah…I’ll look 75 years old, just like you. There is this natural, unstoppable process in life that we all go through (Except Jennifer Aniston) called aging. We’re all going to get old, that’s the way it goes. So please refrain from implying that your wrinkles will look so much more divine than mine due to my tattoos.

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I am not here to sway your opinions of tattoos but, I am here to try and show some perspective. Growing up tattoos were often perceived as “trashy” and NSFW. Tattoos were only for burly bikers or soldiers. Tattoos to a women’s back were labeled a “tramp stamp ,” implying she was now of lesser value than before.

Often people seem to have the view that tattoos are ruining your body or tainting you. My most recent experience with this was having a modeling agency director tell me “It’s a shame you have those (meaning my tattoo’s) because you have such an angelic face, and your tattoo’s ruin it.” I felt so small and belittled in that moment.

What she doesn’t know is my tattoos all have a story and give me strength.

“Qualis mater, Talis filia” is scrawled across my right shoulder stating “Like mother, also like daughter” in Latin within my mothers Sagittarius constellation. My mother has been a pillar of strength, love and loyalty and I strive to be the same. But that woman would never know that, because she was too busy judging the ink rather than reading it.

I have a large Phoenix rising on my back because I rose from the ashes of a dark and helpless place and carried myself out. But she wouldn’t know my struggles nor see I am a warrior. She just see’s blurred color on a “ruined” canvas.

She wouldn’t know the flowers on my ribs, I drew myself. Or that my Dad and I both have the solar system on our skin. She would never know the anatomical heart on my arm represents the science and intelligence of my nursing career with poppies throughout to remind me nursing is about nurturing and growing as well. She wouldn’t know anything about me because she didn’t care about me as a person, she cared about my appearance. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that way regarding tattoos; that tattoos define you.

And in a way, they do define me. My tattoo’s define me because they describe my struggles, my victories and some are there because they’re beautiful pieces of art. But no matter the reason,  there is so much more to me that I wish people would be willing to see. People don’t have to like tattoos or want them but I really wish they would respect me despite me having them. See me for who I am and not what I decorate my body with.

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With that I say Good afternoon and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords

Just Because You Can’t See it Doesn’t Mean it Doesn’t Hurt: Living With Ulcerative Colitis

I was 19 years old when I had my first Colonoscopy. Yes, you read that right, 19. Most people dread their 50th birthday for this procedure. But me? I was a sophomore in college, attempting to get into the Nursing program and trying to pass exams.

What started as occasional abdominal pain turned into severe weight loss, constant nausea and pain so severe I would crumble to the ground in pain- no matter where I was. I would lay in bed for days at a time, only getting up to crawl to the bathroom.

By the time I received medical attention I had lost 15lbs, couldn’t stand longer than 10 minutes due to weakness and was anemic due to the blood loss.

The day I was diagnosed was one of the best and disappointing days of my life. To finally be able to justify what was happening to me and put a name to the illness was such a relief. But the next thing the doctor said was “incurable.” This was something I would have to deal with; for life.

One of the most frustrating struggles of this illness is that there are no immediate outward symptoms, so when you miss work/school/events because you physically cannot move from pain, people don’t take it as seriously. When I am frantically searching for a restroom in public people tend to laugh, rather than realize the embarrassment and pain I am feeling.

For those of you who are unaware Ulcerative Colitis is an Autoimmune disorder that targets your colon. Your own cells attack your colon and create inflammation and ulcers.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Blood or pus in stool
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent, recurring diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tenesmus: A sudden and constant feeling that you have to move your bowels

There is no definitive cause of Ulcerative colitis, therefore making it incurable, but manageable. Remission can be managed with medications and a balanced diet. I managed to remain in remission for 2 years until recently.

I relapsed this January requiring adjustments in medications, less than desirable treatments and time off from work (hence my absence from the blogging world.)

I appreciate you taking the time to read this not so interesting, but informative post on one of my struggles. I encourage all of you to do your research when people confide their struggles in you, so you can support them in ways they need.

With that I say Good Night and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswrds

Please support the fight for a cure! Mightywell is donating 50% of all proceeds to The Crohns and Colitis Foundation. Buy a tee shirt and support finding a cure for me- and millions of others.

 

https://mighty-well.com/pages/nonprofit-partners