I want to talk about Depression and Anxiety

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Probably not what most people want to do.. but I genuinely want to talk about depression and anxiety.

I don’t feel special anymore for having dealt with depression and anxiety. This is because Anxiety Disorders are the most common disorders in the US, with 40 million people (18% of the population). Anxiety Disorders are highly treatable, but only 1/3 will receive treatment.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated 350 million people of all ages who suffer.

I just can’t wrap my head around how this epidemic is so largely swept under the rug. How can we ignore that this many people are feeling hopeless, can’t get out of bed, are empty, are contemplating or completing suicide, and have constant anxiety?

Do we talk about? Yeah, sort of? Most every time I hear a well-intentioned person talking about depression, it’s in such a soft and pitiful tone. Like we are scared to talk about depression because we might catch it.

Depression is scary. Your mind and world turns grey, and often times there is no logic.

I deal with bipolar depression, and if I hear one more time to “just think about what you’re thankful for,” I just might punch something. Depression is not a choice. It can affect anyone, and I do mean anyone. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you own. Sure, circumstances can add to it, but a lot of times depression happens for no reason at all. A person with depression has a sick brain. They cannot decipher reality for the time being.

Let’s be honest, depression sucks. A lot. While writing this post, I’m in a great place in my life. Hindsight on my depression is 20/20. I had the worst depression of my life the spring of 2013. I told myself I’d never be fooled by depression again. Then came spring 2014, 2015, and most recently 2016, which was the worst one since.

If you treat depression like it’s in someone’s power, you’ve got it all wrong already. It encompasses the whole person. Everything feels meaningless. Why try. I’m not good at anything. Everyone is better than me in every aspect of my life. I have no place in this world. No one would really care if I left. Nothing is fun. No one understands. I want to be included, but even more than that I want to lay in this bed all day.

Darkness was my best friend for those 5 months in 2013. All I wanted to do was crawl in my bed and sleep. Because sleep meant nothingness and it meant escape. And I needed to escape from my own brain, which is mostly impossible.

There’s nothing worse than being afraid of yourself.

This is how depression makes me feel. I am genuinely afraid of my own mind. I can’t process most of what someone is saying to me. Getting dressed is a huge process. Following the storyline of a movie is impossible. Laughter isn’t really a thing. Everyone has their life in order. They all look so happy. They know what they’re good at, and they’re making life happen for themselves. God isn’t real. How could God do this to me?

I could hardly talk to my therapist during my sessions this past spring. Back in May, after I told her I’m a stupid person, she asked me, “so, you feel stupid?”

I said through my tears with such conviction that, “No. I don’t feel stupid. I am stupid.”

We both cried.

And I really appreciated it. She carried my hurt for that moment. I made a definitive statement about myself. No, I don’t feel stupid and awkward. I am stupid. And I am awkward.

I look back and I cry, because I was wrong about myself. I am capable. I am smart, beautiful, and loved. But my mind wouldn’t let me see it.

Let’s talk about depression and anxiety. Please.

 

mental illness awareness week film

 

MIAW is this week Oct 2-8. My goal is to shine light where there is a lot of darkness in our country, around the world, and in our hearts right now. Having a severe mental illness has been tough to say the least, and receiving slim to none understanding over the past years hasn’t helped.

If your heart or any other organ is chronically sick, there’s usually no hesitation to get help or to talk to someone about it. With our brains, for whatever reason, it’s a different story. Admitting you have a mental illness is usually done under your breath if at all. And it’s mostly met with “why would you ever admit that.”

I’m a part of 2.6% of the population with Bipolar Disorder. Dbsalliance.org says that 1 in 5 people with Bipolar Disorder will complete suicide. That is a devastating statistic for me. A 1 in 5 chance to live is not a comforting reality and shouldn’t be accepted. This is part of what motivates me to educate others on our illness. Because it is an illness that has been around since the beginning of time, not our imagination. While the manias and depressions are beyond awful, the associated shame and stigma is hell on earth.

People with severe mental illness used to be treated like animals, chained in prisons, hung and thought to be witches, lobotomized, and basically treated as sub human throughout history. I wish I could say this has improved far more drastically than it actually has. (http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/…/the-history-of-mental-ill…)

After I left Clemson finally in the Fall of 2014, after having been sexually assaulted by a student there, being sent into a severe manic episode, and overdosing twice within a week, I went to an inpatient facility for a 2 hour interview where they deemed my case “not severe enough” to stay there. There’s nowhere to go.

I wrote a fan letter to a strong woman in the sport’s industry, Samantha Ponder, where I told her I was coming to terms with leaving Clemson and having Bipolar Disorder. And I was treated by ESPN security like a criminally insane stalker for it. I’m now apparently on a list to look out for, because I told this woman I wanted to be like her one day. I can’t help but feel that if I had a different illness that that letter would have been received completely different.

Education. Conversation. Long term treatment in conjunction with acute treatment. Understanding. Acceptance. Erasing the stigma. These are so desperately needed.

If you would share this post or my one from a couple days ago in hopes of allowing others to be more aware of mental illness, that would be wonderful. Mental Illness affects all of us in some way whether we want it to or not. Might as well do something about it.

“Our purpose is in our pain” -Brandon Marshall

let go

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Letting go is hard. I’d argue it borders on impossible. I’ve advanced closer, waded somewhere in the middle, and regressed. I’ve had one limb in forgiveness, one in bitterness, and a third in embarrassment. I just don’t think I can say I’ve let it all go. I know I can’t say it.

What I’m talking about is my heartache, people I’ve been hurt by, whether intentional or not, and painful memories.

Sometimes I’ll go through long stretches without thinking about any of it, which is nice. But other times I’ll be laying in my bed or driving in my car and an old memory resurfaces, from however many years ago, to taunt me or to remind me that I should be embarrassed. A lot of memories I’ve repressed, but eventually almost all return.

This past weekend was the anniversary of a very painful time in my life two years ago. Today I’m so grateful and happy with where and who I am, but I cannot help but feel a searing pain when I look back.

I’ve held grudges. Some things I truly have forgiven myself and other people for. And other things, if I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t. It’s not because I don’t want to.

The most prominent memories entail embarrassment, frustration, confusion, rejection, and being out of my own control. At the time I felt like no one wanted to be associated with Laura Hogan, the girl who had lost it after her senior year of high school.

I kept hearing this message preached that “it’s okay to struggle, and life is going to be hard and you’re going to need to ask people for help so that they can walk through it with you.” But from these same types of people I found that my struggle was too much. You can hurt, but it needs to be an acceptable kind of hurting.

You can struggle, but it needs to be with gossiping too much, or being impatient with God’s plan, or being too selfish with your time, or not feeling His presence enough, or not getting asked to the dance.

It cannot be that you are battling a mental illness that you didn’t know you had. That’s what I learned from them. I’m not talking about one group of people, but a group at large. Do I think I’ve been there perfectly and every time for other people’s struggles? No I don’t think so.

But I was absolutely amazed by the lack of empathy I received from so many people back then. At the time I thought it might be deserved, but looking back I’m just angry. Not the kind of angry that makes someone want to be violent, but the kind that puts up walls and has given a lot of tears.

I’m still learning to let go.

 

“Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” – Psalm 34:5

the number one treatment for the recovery of bipolar disorder

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Let me start by saying medication has been vital in my recovery, wellness, and maintenance. The arsenal of counseling and psychiatric services has also played a huge role. Without these things, my life would still be in shambles.

However, I’ve come to realize the magnitude of the treatment that helped me the most with bipolar type 1 disorder. It sounds cliche, and maybe it is, but this is what pulled me through and out of some of the deepest valleys of my life.

The best treatment I ever received was love.

The sentiment of love gets tossed around a lot as we know, and the meaning has become diluted.

But the love I experienced wasn’t an ephemeral love. It was a compassionate love that didn’t have conditions. I didn’t have to perform a certain way in order to receive it. I have felt loved by several people, but most notably over the years by the unwavering support system I have in my parents.

In times when mental illness gripped me the hardest and I felt like the world turned its back on me, and when the white noise was deafening, they claimed me. And even more so they were proud of me.

They put the condemning weight of my burdens on themselves and then some. They laughed and sobbed with me. They celebrated my small accomplishments. They held me with a death grip when I felt helpless. They encouraged me. They stood up for me. They loved me when I didn’t have love for myself.

I was more important to them than the appearance of our family. They didn’t run from the diagnosis, but instead educated themselves and are now educating others. They put their own schedules on hold to be near me and to bring their little girl back. They emulated the agape love that God has for me. They were never ashamed to call me their daughter.

I love you mom and dad. Thank you for sharing in both my sorrow and healing. I could never fully articulate how grateful I am that your reservoir of grace never runs dry for me.

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hope

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So I haven’t written in a while. I’ll be honest, I contemplated deleting my blog a few times, feeling like I had shared too much. But then I remembered the people who told me it had helped them, and decided to let it stick around (also, I couldn’t figure out how to delete it – haha).

I’m at a great place in my life right now and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that.

If I’m being candid, the beginning of 2016 was not a walk in the park. It was difficult. But as the year went on, things got better again like they do. I’m happy to say this summer has been the best of my life so far.

I got engaged to Eric! I couldn’t ever explain how happy and overjoyed this makes me. I found someone who loves me for exactly who I am, which is something I never knew if I’d say or not. He’s an amazing man, and I’m beyond excited for the rest of our lives together.

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This post is really just to say that I’m glad I didn’t completely count myself out. In the hard times I’ve learned to love myself and to care less about what others think of me. I haven’t mastered it all – but I’ve gained ground and that’s all I’m going to ask of myself.

Speaking up for mental health and mental illness is still on my heart, and I plan to continue spreading light for it.

– Laura

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts.”

Romans 5:3-5

 

calm to ill

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“And like the sea
I’m constantly changing from calm to ill” -Sleeping Sickness; City and Colour

Is is okay for someone who blogs mostly about looking through a positive lens and advocating for hope to say they’re discouraged?

My goal in this is to be as real as I can be. Because if I’m not being honest, I figure why would it even be worth the read.

I have to admit that sometimes the stigma and misunderstanding with bipolar seems so great when I feel so small.

Like one voice that’s being drowned out.

Like no matter how far I reach to spread awareness, there will still always be people making a mockery of my disorder.

If you’re reading my blog or seeing my social media profiles and thinking I’ve “conquered” my bipolar, you’re wrong.

Some days are great. This year has been amazing overall. I have so much to be thankful for.

And others days I find I fall apart.

This week is emotional for me as the end of the semester and finals are here. It’ll be my first completed Fall semester of college ever, even though I began back in 2012.

It’s funny.. I used to be obsessive when it came to school. From elementary to high school, and even at my completed semesters at Clemson, I didn’t settle for anything but perfect.

I remember not being satisfied with my 98 on a spelling test in Mr. Jones’ 5th grade class. I took less challenging courses than I could’ve in high school to ensure that I was one of the best, and that I’d get an A.

Things changed.

Because then, my heart got broken. My spirit changed. My diagnosis came out of nowhere. Storms came and went, then came again. My withdrawals from college. Three Falls, all for different reasons–but all stemming from my bipolar. My perspectives changed.

Now, nearing the end of my semester at Queens, I’m facing some.. not so amazing grades. Getting by, but not excelling.

In a way, it’s humbling and freeing. In another way, it’s discouraging and a disappointment. It’s success compared to the past three years. It’s failure juxtaposed with my old standards.

My medicine makes it difficult to go to class when not feeling well, which is sort of often. My tendency to mania makes me easily distracted. The fact that I’m almost 22 and taking gen eds makes it hard for me to care.

With the end of Fall semester comes the reality that Spring semester is next, the dreaded season every year. Because I know what’s ahead. A slowed down brain, less energy, a general fog, fewer words to say.

I probably won’t be writing in this blog much, since I’ve had writer’s block every Spring I can remember.

I don’t want a pity party, but I would like some prayer. While I have Christmas to look forward to, my favorite time of year, I know what’s coming after, and I’m gonna be honest, I’m scared.

I do want this Spring to look different. And I still hold to the hope it can be. Though the truth is there’s no cure or stopping my alternations. The cycle will go on, always. It’s just a matter of managing it.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t change, even when my circumstances do. The only constant among my variables.

He gave me the best family, friends, and boyfriend, who I know will help me when things get a little dimmer, as they always do and it inevitably will.

XO- Laura

yeah, forever!

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“And we’ll always be friends forever, won’t we?” -Tod

“Yeah, forever!” -Copper; The Fox and the Hound

This post is a tribute to my best friend, Allie.

Even though we’re a little ways apart right now– she’s at Appalachian State and I’m in Charlotte, I know that we will always be friends.

So I wanna take you back to the beginning of our friendship.

Allie and I connected right away, and let me say, it wasn’t because of me. It’s because Allie has a way of meeting people, finding a way to relate to them like only Allie can, and really caring about that person– right off the bat.

We first met back in the fall of 2011 because of our ex-boyfriends and their bands. ..So thank God for exes! Y’all rock. You both brought me one of my best friends in the whole world.

While we hardly spoke two words that night and later admitted we were both intimidated by each other (lol), for some reason, over a year later after much talked about double dating that never actually happened, Allie decided to reach out to me on Facebook asking to be roommates at Clemson.

I was so pumped! Of course I wanted to. I wasn’t getting stuck with a rando and she seemed awesome. Shortly after, I was a little manic, because this was the end of spring right before the summer of my psychosis. We went to target to go shopping together in the summer, and ended up talking for hours, not realizing the cart of all our stuff had been STOLEN and taken back to where they reload everything back into the store. Don’t worry–we managed to salvage our plastic owl plates just in the nick of time ; )

We became quick friends. And I could not wait to live with my new friend Allie in the dorms.

.. Then everything with my psychosis and hospitalization happened, and I couldn’t go to Clemson that fall with her like we thought.

Allie had to live by herself in our little corner dorm, until someone moved in eventually from the overflow rooms.

I was devastated. But the good thing was that when I got better, I was able to go visit her at Clemson. We went to a football game together. We went as each other’s dates to the first Autumn shag because wdgaf. I even moved some of my stuff into the dorm on my side.. which totally isn’t allowed. It was the best break possible from the mundane of being at home all day everyday, while everyone else was embarking on their first semester of being away at college. To go see this friend– that was what I looked forward to. The first time I came to visit, she had this waiting for me on our door:

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We went to an Ascend the Hill concert. Ate an abnormal amount of Mike and Ikes out of a vase in the dorm. Laughed until our stomachs hurt. Played mario kart. Giggled and conversed with drunk people on the elevators. Drove to the nearby Bi-lo whilst blasting alternative rock classics. Hung out and talked about life with our RA, Emily. Didn’t have the perfect Pinterest pottery barn/Anthro room. It was great.

We were both getting over our exes together, since we broke up at basically the same time.

…And then came spring. Time for me to actually become a student finally at Clemson. That’s when my first major depression hit me like a ton of bricks.

As I’ve written about in previous posts, I was gripped by absolute misery, for reasons I didn’t really know or understand at the time. I didn’t know I was bipolar. All the sudden I was gaining weight, unable to take care of myself, and just wanting to be alone.

Allie’s no psychiatrist (obviously–she was 18, even though she’s now ironically studying psych), but she was the closest thing to exactly what I needed that semester. Even though I’m sure she missed the easy-going light times with me, she had to accept that that wasn’t our reality anymore. And I don’t think it seemed like there was an end in sight for her when it came to my complete numbness.

I never opened up about my depression once, so there was no way of her even being able to address that specifically. But, as my best friend and roommate, it was so painfully obvious how depressed I was, and I knew she was concerned about me.

But here’s the thing everyone, what she didn’t do, is she didn’t give up on me. Even though I know there were times where she was beyond frustrated, didn’t know what to say to me, etc… she ultimately just decided to be my friend. And that was exactly what I needed at that time.

Instead of trying to fix me, she’d leave encouraging notes for me to find around the room. It was obvious I was struggling with self-worth, so she’d put a post it on my mirror saying “You are BEAUTIFUL! And I love you so much! -Allie.” In my closet would be another verse. On my pillow I’d find different notes.

She’d invite me to anything and everything. And always wanted me to come, even though I’d literally just stand there so awkwardly, while people were probably thinking to themselves.. why is this lovely, bubbly girl hanging out with this.. complete downer?

She realized that slapping a bible in my hand and telling me to come to church and campus ministry wasn’t working. And not that those things are bad.. they are great! But Allie soon realized that like I said, I just needed a friend.

I know it was difficult for her, and we talk about this all the time now.. But I hope she knows for sure that I will always be grateful for her loving me through everything that year– when I felt I was unlovable.

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She showed me through her perseverance and her character who Christ is. She wasn’t embarrassed of me. She wanted to listen. To just be there.. To be present. She brought her disney princess personality to the dark grey of my life. She made herself available in a year that I can promise you.. was not easy for her either.

We moved into an apartment together Sophomore year as well with two other friends (shoutout to Jess and Kara!). And well, this semester turned into a total nightmare for both me and Allie.

Allie was getting help she needed for an eating disorder that I didn’t even know she struggled with until a few weeks leading up to her leaving Clemson. She decided on the journey of taking care of herself and taking a gap year. I was in a huge mania from my bipolar, and then soon after, really medicated, making me an unbearable human to live and deal with.

I was a zombie when Allie needed me. While I know she understands that I couldn’t really help it, it hurt me to think back and realize that I couldn’t be there for my friend like she was for me.

Allie transferred to Appalachian after her time off, and she’s happier than ever and more confident in herself. Which says something, because I always thought she was the most confident person I knew. She inspires everyone she comes in contact with, and is incredibly open about her struggle with her both her eating disorder and her passion for helping others with their mental health. She became a mental health ambassador and started a club at Appalachian–called Appsi–for promoting positive self image.

Anyone who is lucky enough to know Allie can attest to her pure heart, bright smile, compassion for people, boldness, deep faith, and just.. her realness.

And that’s why she means so much to me. She’s real. She never cared about what our friendship would mean concerning her reputation. Because let me tell ya, if there’s anything I wasn’t at Clemson that freshman year, it’s that I wasn’t cool, popular, or fun to be around.

Allie didn’t care..

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Her heart for serving the hearts of others outweighs most all else. And she’d tell you otherwise, but I’m here to tell you, SHUT UP ALLIE, it’s TRUE!!!

I’m so thankful for this amazing friend who stands by me. Now that we are both out of Clemson and in much better places in our lives, we’re able to reflect back and be like.. wtf were we doing there.. and just laugh at ourselves, but also we learn.

Because even though neither of us got it all perfect (um especially me) we will still always be there for one another.

Because well, this is what we all need more of!!! Genuine friendships. And this is the gospel lived out, what she did for me. Yes, erasing the stigma is great and it’s what I aim for.. and there needs to be change regarding mental health policies and what not.. but these friendships and commitment to others can be what really gets us out of the pit.

I can honestly say I’m not sure where I’d be without the angel God sent me in Allie back when.

I love this girl with my whole heart! And she deserves any and all recognition she gets. K, No disclaimers, Allie 🙂 

Thank you for being you, Belle, and for everything you do for the ones you love.

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(^^If you haven’t figured out our pose yet..)

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She painted this for me for my birthday last year. Aaaaand Idk who is who because we are both constantly dying our hair lolol.

XO- Nemo

>> “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

>> “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24

is this all your plan

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Aging anger brings me to my knees
My heart still hurts and I need forgiveness
And is this all Your plan? Answer me
My heart still hurts

And I give you control
This sleeper, has lost his way- Hands; Returning

There is something we all have in common.

Though it varies eminently, it’s certain. It doesn’t know race or social status. And it’s suffering.

It’s not about if, it’s about when. 

It’s the job a dad got laid off from. It’s the boyfriend who broke a heart and never spoke to her again. The boyfriend who broke a heart and still keeps her on the leash of emotional abuse. It’s a denial letter from the dream college. The falling out of a friendship.

A mother who passes away unexpectedly. A mother who passes away after fighting for so long. Divorce. Affairs. A relentless bully at school. An incurable condition. Depression. Suicide. The news you have cancer. Or your child has cancer.

It’s domestic violence. Broken homes. Drug addiction. Alcoholism. Giving up a child for adoption that you couldn’t take care of, but wanted to so badly. Having an abortion and enduring the aftermath and judgment. Hatred. Racism. Financial problems. Sexual assault. Senseless violence. The ongoing wars. The sex-slave trade.

The world is broken.

And life’s not fair or always kind.

When I was at my darkest moments, I just found myself asking God.. why? If you truly are such a loving God like I’ve learned about all my life, why let all these circumstances destroy us? It seemed cruel and malevolent.

And it made sense to me that so many turn their back on God after pain. I did.

Back in 2012, I said God, I don’t know if I believe in you anymore. Why would you allow this crippling depression in, just to torment me?  If you truly loved me, why wouldn’t you just take it away? In 2013, I asked similar questions about being bipolar.

And as I see tragedies unfold, in rhythm as they do, I find myself asking again– why? Suffering doesn’t pick and choose. And yes, “bad things happen to good people.” Every single day.

“If you have faith, God will take away all of your suffering.”

.. Is not true. And He never even said that.

He gave us a different promise.

Eventual redemption entirely from this messed up place, if we choose Him. And can I add– it doesn’t have to be done perfectly. Because we are saved by grace, not by whatever we think we do at the community bake sale that’s surely worthy of our escaping hell.

It’s a promise of a place where there will be no more hurt or sickness or death. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. . 

My mom told me a story a while back about my older brother, Wes. When he was undergoing excrutiating treatment for his childhood cancer, he was so weak and sick one day– but he looked up at my parents and he said to them, “It’s okay. God is with me.”

Even though you suffer, just like me, it’s possible to let God hold you and walk with you through that pain. To hold on to the hope that your hurt can be restored.

Sometimes, we let our suffering beget suffering. It’s just our bitterness, spiraling. We justify our decisions because of “what we’ve been through”…And then we ask why, after we’ve walked away, He isn’t giving us everything we think we want and deserve in life.

There’s one thing I know for sure about God now. And it’s that He’s not a God of hate, but of perfect love. That He’s not just idly watching his creation fail. He’s the artist whose work we question constantly, though it isn’t even finished yet.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

We weren’t meant to understand everything that happens or the why. It’s beyond our comprehension right now. And even though it sucks in the moment, the God who knows all things knows what’s best for us, way better than we do.

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” -Isaiah 40:28

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” -1 Corinthians 1:25

The cards we’re dealt can be thrown away. Or, they can be dealt back in a way that reaches for something greater and beyond just ourselves.

I have found purpose in my pain- to try to help others by raising awareness about bipolar disorder, and to tell how faithful my God is to me.

On a rabbit trail, I know it’s technically not a “sound apologetic argument,” but I can’t seem to look at the beauty of the people and world around me anymore, and still question that there is someone higher than us that handcrafted it all.

Even through my pain, I believe it. I believe He’s good. That He has a plan not just for me, but for every person, that I can’t see or understand yet.

“On the day when I see
All that You have for me
When I see You face to face
There surrounded by Your grace

. .

All my fears swept away
In the light of Your embrace
Where Your love is all I need
and forever I am free

. .

I’m believing for the day 

Where the wars and violence cease
All creation lives in peace

. .

No weeping

No hurt or pain”

XO- Laura

how silence can kill

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I can’t help but notice the endless battle for air while being swept by the tides of complacency \ My knowledge is accountability \ And I have to do something. -Sinking; Hundredth

I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have messaged me all saying almost the exact same thing.

The gist is this: “I’m so glad you’re writing this blog, because I would never have been able to. Thanks for sharing your story, because I see myself in your posts.”

Some of these are people I’ve known from high school or college or just however, and others were complete strangers to me. Very few also have bipolar disorder.

The struggles mentioned ranged from depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders.. and just being a freaking human who has issues from time to time! Like don’t we all!?

I’m so glad that all these people decided to reach out to me. All with similar but at the same time totally unique stories. It has been nothing but super encouraging to me along the way, and I’m thankful for every message I get.

I don’t expect everyone to start their own blog. That’d be absurd if I did. I know you’re all like…I don’t have time for that. If you do want to start one, that’s great! I’ll read it.

 What I do want- is to actually start the conversation, instead of talking about starting the conversation. 

Sydel Curry brought this quote to my attention when she shared my blog a little bit ago:

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about illness that affect not only individuals, but their families as well.” -Glenn Close

It’s true, I couldn’t have said it any better myself. More unashamed conversation. If you read along with my blog and you’re like, that’s great and all, but there’s nothing I can do about it sorry..

There is.. how about just talk about it with someone! And I don’t mean talk about my blog. I mean talk about mental illness and mental health. 

We’re so scared of mental illness. And I don’t know why.

Actually, just kidding, I do.

We’re scared because it hits way too close to home for us than we’re willing to admit, and we’d rather it just go away. The problem will surely disappear if I don’t acknowledge its existence.

And then, like clockwork, things happen. Horrible things. Things in our world like school shootings. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Columbine.  Movie theater shootings. The Dark Knight. Trainwreck. In the case of the high school my brothers attended in Boston, a school stabbing of a high school freshman. This list is only the tip of the iceberg in tragedy.

It’s heartbreaking. And it’s so easy for us to be angry. I’m angry. Believe me when I say this hurts me. I don’t understand. I cannot comprehend what brings a human to that kind of conclusion about our world and their life.

Mental illness is serious.

Demonizing the mentally ill who cause these kind of tragedies, and then just waiting for the next one to happen is like shooting ourselves in the foot.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

Before you get ahead of yourself, I’m not justifying any of the mentally ill shooters that we’ve faced in the U.S. I think they were wrong. I think they were insane. I think they were selfish. I think it’s cruel what has happened to all kinds of innocent people. I think they didn’t get the help they needed. I think they should be held accountable for what they’ve done. Though most already end up pulling the trigger on themselves.

But when will we learn just how important this issue is, and admit how close to home it hits for us? I think we read the headlines and just cross our fingers that it won’t happen in our neighborhoods or our schools. That it’ll stay at a safe enough distance. So that we can mourn, but not do anything.

After all the terrible tragedies that have gone on, do you think it’s easy for the mentally ill to want to get help or to speak “unashamedly” about their condition? I know for me, these times made me want to crawl in a closet and never come out. Because I was so fearful of what people would think when they found out and saw me and all they could think was, bipolar. 

In reality, there are people all around you every day who face mental illness. Studies say half of these people are going untreated.

One of the driving forces behind my blog is this statistic.. according to the dbsalliance, as many as 1 in 5 patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide.

With 5.7 million adult Americans with the disorder, that’s a lot of casualties.

If you were told that that was your fate, a 1 in 5 chance of survival, what would you do with that reality? Would you crawl in a hole, or would you just pretend everything’s okay?

Maybe you would you consider doing something about it.

I’m saying we need to start talking.

I’m not the 1 in 5.

XO- Laura

thief of joy

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They say comparison is the thief of joy.

I mean, come on, how true is this in our age of social media.

As we know, long long ago and far far away (like, less than 10 years ago), there was a time where we didn’t know what everyone in our world was doing every second of every day.

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc, have made this curse and blessing completely impossible to avoid now for most of us. But we know this.

So let me say, I love social media. I have an account on every app I mentioned above. I have this blog clearly. I enjoy posting pictures thoroughly, as you may have seen, and I genuinely like seeing what people are up to.

I love how on holidays especially, I can see how people are celebrating with their families or friends. It was cool to see all the halloween costumes this past year, since I wouldn’t have seen any otherwise as I was headed out of the country that day.

But oh woww, it breaks my heart that a significant amount of people don’t realize that social media lives are not real lives! 

I was in that trap of a mindset.

There was a time, a long one, where social media was both addicting and crippling to me. I had anxiety every time I logged on, but I just couldn’t not. It was like I knew it made me feel horrible, but I drank the poison without thinking twice. It honestly made me have feelings of hate towards people I hardly knew.

Because at that time, I had no pictures to post. My notifications were non-existent. My messaging box was empty. I hated the way I looked. My life wasn’t up to my par. I was ungrateful. I was angry at everyone else for posting their perfect pictures with their bright smiles. Simply put, I was envious. I wanted what I didn’t have.

We are so addicted to this immediate gratification lifestyle. It’s like a temporary high, in a way. I think I even read somewhere that is releases endorphins when we post things about ourselves. Getting likes on our pictures. Having people comment how much they love us.

While none of those things are bad in and of themselves, it shouldn’t be our prime reservoir of where we’re getting our acceptance quota for the day.

I forced myself to put on a new lens. A conscious one. Telling myself, more than just once, that what I’m seeing on social media every day is not an accurate reflection of real life. That posts and pictures can’t have the power to dictate my moods and how I feel about myself. That I’m enough. That most all of these posts don’t give a full context.

In a sort of related rant, I am tired of trying to abide by the invisible handbook and rules of social media. If you want to post a picture, even though you posted one the day before, freaking post it!!! If you are following someone that posts things that annoy you, unfollow them! You actually aren’t being forced to keep up with anyone’s life! It’s not that hard. Arrghh. Post when and what you want. You may lose a follower or two. I promise though, you will carry on. Anyway, off that soapbox..

If you take anything away from this, know that most of what you see on social media is life glorified, not reality. 

Also, if social media makes you feel negative every time you’re on it, maybe log off for a while.

Because real life is way better – promise.

XO- Laura

Proverbs 14:30 – A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

 

Song of Solomon 8:6 – Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.