Coexisting With Yourself

The past few days have shown me that it is a very difficult thing to have ambition coexist with depression. The electricity that comes with working towards your horizon can barely make it past of the shadow of this strange darkness in your bones. Like calcium, it forms and it hardens, concreting itself into your DNA. All of the sadness and the anxiousness and my lying senses will always be some part of me, even if it’s not meant to.

The hard truth of the matter is that I need to find a way to coexist with that other side. And some days, like the past couple of days, I will fail. Some days my bones will turn to iron and chain me to the closet and I won’t want to come out again. The rest of the time I’ll be working, racing against the clock until the moment my shadow overtakes me and I gain the weight of the sun. Until then, I can carry my world.

 

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The Evolution of Color

When I was going through high school, I wore a lot of black. Now, I don’t mean I look like I fucked Edward Scissorhands on the daily, but you could typically find me sporting darker, duller colors. I don’t remember when this started, what I do remember is noticing that I could blend into the background so much easier with a black shirt rather than a bright green one.

It’s safe to say I was an outcast in school. I had a couple of friends, I really didn’t need an entourage, and I kept to myself. I was the kid who sat in the very back seat, headphones drowning out my fellow classmates, and a book shoved into my face. It’s also helpful to know that I weighed one hundred pounds on a good day, and had the worst case of resting bitch face, so it was easy to avoid unwanted interactions. I didn’t want people noticing me or talking to me, I wanted to be as close to the edge of everyone’s radar as I possible could. I had my fair share of bullies, but I wasn’t bullied into invisibility, I just preferred to be unseen.

Fast forward three years and you have present-day Melissa. You would think with all of my mental health problems I’ve had since then that my closet would just get darker and darker. But I think, somewhere along the way, I found that I liked color. All the different shades of blue, and green, and purple, they all have their own feel to them. I liked looking at the clothes I was wearing and seeing reds and yellows. Maybe its a way to make myself feel better when I am depressed, or maybe its a way to drown out all that darkness inside me. Either way, I’m not in the background anymore. I can walk through a hallway wearing bright and warm colors and not shy away from the people that look. I’m beginning to hide myself less. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an introvert through and through, but at least now I’m visible. And if that’s the only progress from the past three years, that’s okay because its a foundation that I can build on.

 

 

My Rap Sheet of a Psyche

I suppose that if I want to write about mental health and awareness then I should go into my own mental head space a tad. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving you every excruciating detail of the fun that is learning you have a mental illness. This is more of a brief summary.

I always thought I had depression and anxiety throughout high school but had never talked to anyone or been diagnosed. During my year at college, my depression seemed to worsen until I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, and I definitely wasn’t going to any of my classes. While I was used to what it felt like to be depressed, I started to experience things I never had before. I noticed quiet whispers in my ears when no one was around. Dark, blurry figures would dance around the corners of my eyes. I began having strange thoughts about people trying to “get” me. When I eventually dropped out towards the end of the semester and returned to living with my parents, I told them nothing about what was going on. I got a job, I tried to get through each day, and pretended like nothing was wrong.

Of course, that never works.

My parents eventually found out, which was not my decision but that is a story for another day, and decided to take me to the ER. I was hospitalized for six days and diagnosed with major depressive disorder with psychotic features, generalized anxiety, and PTSD. Life after a diagnosis is confusing. I was ashamed of my own brain and I didn’t really tell a lot of people. It is something that I’ve struggled to accept about myself since then and it’s something I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. I have a long way to go, but I know that I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at.

Although it’s the extremely shortened version of the story, you got all the big pieces of information. Along the way I’ll probably sprinkle in some more details, but that’s all you get for now!

Influencing Your Own Mental Health

I’ve noticed something that I unconsciously do, and I wondered if anyone else experiences this. Sometimes, all of the chemicals in my brain that usually don’t even show up somehow get their shit together, and I feel like a normal person. I’m not anxious, I don’t feel like I’m walking underwater, and I can see a future for myself again. Sometimes, when I feel like this, I start to question why I feel so great. I start to doubt if I’m happy or just suffering some mental breakdown that I’m not even aware of. Before long, all of those chemicals that were working so hard and so well can no longer keep up. I essentially think myself into becoming “bad” again.

What I mean when I say bad is anything that comes to your mind when you think of mental illness. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar, schizophrenia, whatever comes to your mind when you think of mental illnesses. I’ll go into specifics of my experience in a future post.

But I realized that I could think myself into becoming depressed again. This was one of the first times that I realized that I can influence my own mental health. That I can, sometimes – not all of the time, change how I feel. In this case, I was negatively influencing my mood. So who’s to say I can’t positively influence them as well?

Learning coping mechanisms can actually help you in the future. Whether that’s breathing exercises, drawing, driving, exercising your actual body, or even listening to music, learning to cope with your specific diagnosis can help get you through those bad days.

Comment and let me know what your favorite coping mechanism is!

My Thoughts on the Second Season of 13 Reasons Why

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Anyone who has a subscription to Netflix, or knows someone who has one, knows that the show 13 Reasons Why recently released a second season. Anyone who has a mental illness, or knows someone who has a mental illness, knows that this show is extremely controversial among the mental health community.

I made the decision to watch the show when it first came out because I had already read the book years ago, and I was curious to see how Netflix chose to portray the book. By the end of the season, I thought they depicted the book pretty well and obviously sprinkled in some extra details. However, I was shocked at their decision to show a rape and  a suicide on show that was advertised for awareness. When I think of raising awareness for issues like sexual assault and depression, the awareness is focused on helping victims, prevention, and resources. What I don’t think of when I think of awareness is showing the actual acts of these terrible things. I was able to get through the season with minimal damage but I could see how people with fresh wounds or even scars that had faded can be affected by this show.

Watching through the second season, I realized I was growing more anxious with each episode. I could honestly talk about a number of story arcs shown in this season, but I’m only going to focus on one, and that’s Tyler. In season one, we learn Tyler is a school photographer that gets harassed pretty often. Its clear there are people on top of this school and Tyler is not one of them. We also see that Tyler, like every human being, has major flaws when he takes pictures of Hannah Baker without her knowing. While this is always a wrong thing to do, and ultimately contributes to Hannah’s suicide, life at Liberty High only gets worse and worse for him after this until he is alone. In the new episodes, Tyler becomes isolated after losing the one friend he had managed to make. He is dealing with very intense emotions of anger and frustration with the school faculty for not intervening with the bullying and sexual misconduct that was occurring. We see Tyler become more familiar with firearms. While this is not inherently dangerous, as it is very important to be able to handle a firearm safely if you choose to do so, Tyler begins to associate the guns in his hands as a means to enact revenge on his bullies. As the show progressed, all these hints were leading up to a school shooting in my mind and I was very hesitant to finish the season. I kept at it though, with remote in hand, just in case I needed to not be watching anymore. And then, Tyler goes through a program where he learns to control his anger and learn how to understand all of the intense feelings he was having. It seems like the crisis was averted, he got the help he needed and he actually looked better. Everything seemed like it could get a little bit better, but the people behind this show are good at making you forget that there are still bad people at that school.

In the final episode, Tyler is cornered in a school bathroom, beaten, and sexually assaulted by one of the baseball players with a broom. The moment this scene started I had a physical . I understand that this scene is meant to raise awareness for male victims or rape and sexual assault and that is a very important thing to do. However, this is another example of how showing the actual crime can actually be very traumatizing for people that have actually gone through it. Adam, my boyfriend, and I were in shock after this scene, just very uncomfortable. The episode started to come to a close at their high school dance, with a very emotional scene featuring one of my absolute favorite songs (The Night We Met by Lord Huron – seriously, go listen to it) where all the main characters come to comfort each other after the roller coaster that was this season. We also see Tyler going into his basement, grabbing a case filled with handguns, assault weapons, and ammunition. We see him pack them into his car and drive to the school. He gets out and throws a backpack on, carries a pistol on his leg, and what looks to me like an AR-15 (feel free to fact check me on that if its not an actual AR-15, that’s just my best guess based on my experience with firearms) in his hands. Clay Jensen, one of the shows main protagonist, runs out of the dance and confronts him. He stands in Tyler’s way, preventing him from getting inside, talking with him. As police sirens start to sound in the distance, Clay convinces Tyler to give up his weapon, climb into a getaway car, and drive off. Clay is left holding the rifle as the police get closer. And that is season two.

I’ve got to say, I am so relieved that they didn’t show an actual school shooting. My younger brother still has a year left of high school at the end of the summer, and I don’t think I could watch something like that knowing that it is a real possibility. This is obviously a very important issue right now in this country, and awareness is needed to help prevent those tragedies. This show made a point to show how quickly that can become a reality. Whatever side of the debate you’re on, whether its gun control or more guns, we all can agree that this is a relevant and pressing matter that needs to be dealt with now, and that each side needs to be open minded and cooperative. I’m tired of both sides of almost every political debate refusing to have a conversation and look at problems from all points of view. It is important for people to know that these things are happening, so that they can actively take part in helping

Well, I didn’t think I’d be dipping into politics during this, but I get sidetracked and go on tangents so it’s not a huge surprise. Thanks for not getting lost along the way! Obviously the show also dives further into depression, rape, rape culture, suicide, as well as substance abuse, but it also shows characters getting help. Whether its through small therapy groups, programs, or a stay at a mental health facility. You begin to see characters with mental illnesses start to recover. Whether you like the show or hate it, it can help start a conversation. The more you talk with others and share experiences, the more people can become aware of their own actions and misconceptions.

Tell me what you thought of the show! I’m also dropping some resources that you can go to if you or someone you know needs help getting through this crazy mess of a world. Remember, you are never weak for asking for help.

 

Crisis Text Line:

Test REASON to 741741 or visit http://www.crisistextline.org

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Call 1(800) 273-8255 or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

The Trevor Project:

Call 1(866) 488-7386 or visit http://www.thetrevorproject.org

A suicide prevention organization focused on the LGBTQ community.

 

RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network):

Call (800) 656-4673 or visit http://www.rainn.org

 

 

The First Leaf

I know what you’re thinking, why read this entirely new blog that you’ve never heard of that doesn’t even have any good pictures? Well if you ever find yourself bored and want to read about the really weird things that we humans think about, then you’ve come to the right place! This blog is meant to be my way of putting all the things I think about into something that makes sense.

A little about me, my name is Melissa Hirt, I am twenty years old, and I live in Kansas City, Missouri. Growing up in a suburb south of the city, you get used to telling people that you live in Kansas City. For some reason people can only remember the cities that punch you in the face with their skyscrapers and endless potholes that take months to be fixed.

I had a very suburban, very christian childhood. My mother and father are both devout baptists, so I grew up singing Jesus Loves Me and Bless My Soul, decorating tiny crosses, and handing out endless bible tracks. As I grew older and I realized that Christianity wasn’t for me, I found that there are parts of a religion that (almost) every human being can agree with: love your neighbor as yourself, take care of the sick and the poor, be accepting to all. I think when people leave the church, they can be seen as this immoral heathen reverting back to their sinful ways, but that always seemed a little dramatic to me. When I left the church, I didn’t lose the morals that I had been taught, I added to them. I didn’t suddenly become a thief or a rapist or a liar, I only realized that my values can be different from another’s and still value them as a person. This realization opened me up to an entirely different view of the world. I still keep in touch with many of the people I knew from church, and being able to accept another’s views without having to make them your own was very liberating for me.

When I was seventeen I joined the Army National Guard and reported to a unit once a month for nine months before I shipped out for Basic Training. My older brother had joined the Army three years before that and I had always looked up to him so I decided to join as well. My time in the Army was very strange. I enjoyed getting to know new people and I felt like I could belong to that life. I wanted to succeed as badly as I wanted to breathe. I had made a commitment and I was going to the best goddamn soldier I could be. The first couple of months I excelled. My PT scores were passing and I was improving them every day, I met other soldiers that I got along with, and I was enjoying all the hard work we were doing. I don’t remember when the shift happened, but it slammed into my stomach without so much as a hint. I started becoming nervous, my hands would shake anytime there was attention on me, and I started having panic attacks.  The thing about the Army is that you have to be healthy and mentally fit because your job is to defend your nation, an incredibly important and sometimes dangerous task. So when I started developing symptoms of depression and anxiety, that’s when everything started to go downhill. The drill sergeants talked, or rather screamed, at me differently. The people I had become friends with kept me at a distance because they were focused on graduating. I met with army psychiatrists who asked me hundreds of questions. Eventually they decided that I was not mentally fit enough to serve in the Army, and I was discharged a couple weeks after I would have graduated Basic Training.

This is a very difficult subject to talk about because it was the weakest I had felt in my entire life. I used to tell people that I was discharged for the stress fractures in my hips (which is not a total lie, those ruck marches are a bitch) because I was so ashamed of the reason behind leaving that I didn’t want anyone to know. After I was discharged, I attended college for two semesters before I left to work a full time job and learn how to deal with my deteriorating mental health. It seemed as if I was scrambling for some meaning to my life and there were more failures along the way than I’d like to admit.

I don’t know how I didn’t realize that all of the writing I was doing while all of this was happening was a way to claw myself out of this pitiful grave that I was digging. Writing had always come easy to me, I could cough up a ten page paper in a couple days without really worrying all that much. To think that I could earn a living off of my writing is a completely new idea for me. So I started researching, and reading other people’s work, and I realized that this was something that I could do. My goal is to become a freelance writer and be able to support myself and my future family, and that doesn’t come without hard work. But this is something that could save my life during the times when I feel like there’s nothing left to care about. So if this is going to save my life, I’m going to try to make it sound pretty damn good

I’m excited for you all to join me on this journey!