WHY.

By: Marissa

That is always the question we as humans have. Why? Why does it rain? Why does this animal do this thing? Why are there no cookies left? I too am subject to always wanting to know why. My questioning stems mainly from my depression. Why does this happen to me? Why am I sad again? Why are there no cookies left? The cookie part then just triggers non-stop crying. Nevertheless, the important part here is the WHY.

As humans, we want to know why things happen. However, for a healthy mental state, I have been taught recently, not to ask why. Why, you may ask?

When I ask myself why, it tumbles me into more of a depressed state. Lets use the cookie as an example. First it starts as noticing that there is no more cookies. In order, these are the questions you will probably ask…

Why are there no more cookies?
Was I not good enough for the cookies?
Was I not eating the cookies in a moderate way?

In the end, while you are sitting on the floor crying because there are no more cookies, you find out that your SO (significant other) ate the last one, and has returned home with a whole new pack just for you. The moral of the story is, if you let yourself be consumed by one bad moment, the moments leading up to you feeling better will be worse. Asking why makes it worse as well. It tumbles you into worse feelings. However, if you just ride out that one bad moment, you know you will end up feeling better either way.

Imposter Syndrome

By: Marissa

Spring Break is over, and now it’s back to getting serious! Got to focus on getting this year done and out of the way, and getting ready for next year. I won’t lie, I am very nervous for next year, as I will, hopefully, be writing my thesis and getting the Hell out of here. I’m not saying that I don’t love it here, cause oh my God I do. I have not had more a glorious experience at a school, than I have had here. However, there are things that keep the majority of students from having a really great time here, especially academically. The biggest thing that does that to us, is this thing called Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is where you, a high-achieving individual, feels as if you are a fraud, a sham, a failure. It is where you feel as if you don’t deserve the success you have achieved, or where you can’t even accept the successes you have achieved. The thing is, with Imposter Syndrome, you don’t really discuss your feelings on the subject with others. For the fear of being discovered or seen as a fraud is more important than seeking validation, or even better, help.

I think what gives me the confidence to be able to write this is the fact that I have dealt with Imposter Syndrome for a very long time, not just in my years here at New College of Florida. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was a very bright student. I still like to think I am, but back then, I felt like I actually knew it and I was confident in my abilities. Around the halfway mark of middle school, I transferred schools to a more demanding charter school on a college campus. I was surrounded by students that were brilliant! Even though I was lopped into that group through the eyes of my peers and mentors, taking high school level math courses in eighth grade, then transferring a year early to the college campus to take math courses.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.  The part that freezes all that for me, and makes me feel useless, is I feel that because of my depression and anxiety, I don’t deserve to be at the level I am.

Last semester was a perfect example. I took a class with one of my favorite professors, titled “Religion & Gender.” I passed with flying colors, as my evaluations say, however, going through that class day to day was extremely difficult. Everyday I would walk into class, having something I wanted to discuss from the reading from the night before. I would sit and listen to everyone else first, then toss my ideas out the window. My papers in that class always received a satisfactory, and I always got good comments, but I always felt like a fraud being in that class.

I was the only first year in that class, and of course, the youngest. My peers had more time to really research and read more than I had been able to. There was one girl in the class who I looked up to the most, but made me feel the most insecure about myself. For sake of conversation, let’s call this person Joy.

Joy was very intelligent in this field. She would come to class everyday having something to say about the reading that was so detailed and backed up with information, that it blew my basic comprehension out of the water. I envied Joy for the longest time. One day my professor for that class, Dr. Marks, pulled me aside, realizing that I had issues speaking up in class. She gave me the best academic advice I feel like I have ever received, and that was to set lower expectations for myself, so when I achieve them, I will feel far better about myself, and will eventually be able to reach those higher goals with ease. Dr. Marks, when I told her how I felt about discussing things in class, how I felt about Joy and the other students, told me that basic is just fine. If I wanted to discuss how something made me feel or what I thought right off the bat after reading the first two paragraphs, that was perfectly fine. As long as I try.

As the next semester rolls around, I had the opprotunity to become closer with Joy, and we saw each other more often. One day I told her how I felt about having class with her the semester before, and how I felt being in that class. I told her how I thought she was very smart, but because of that I felt incompetent. She was taken aback, and visually shocked. She told me that she had felt the exact same way about me and what I had to say in that class, and she felt like she wasn’t good enough.

Needless to say, it was a funny encounter.

Imposter Syndrome affects probably every student at my school. I know for me, it really hits hard because I am moving twice the speed through the program, compared to the other first years. Instead of finishing the program in 4 years, I will be done in 2.

I’m already halfway through.

That being said, I feel as if I don’t deserve these achievements I have scored, and I could never be as good as other upper-years. But sometimes I have to take a step back and realized, I have kicked my own ass millions of times to get where I am, and I won’t let those ass kickings be for nothing. Not only that, but I will not let all those years of my mothers motivation be wasted on me failing because I didn’t feel good enough. Because dammit I am good enough, and so are you.

What makes you feel the most insecure? Work? School? Relationships?

Shoutout to New College of Florida for a great first year!


If you would like to read more in detail about Imposter Syndrome click here, to visit the American Psychological Association that has a great outline on what it means to have Imposter Syndrome.

Where Have You Been?

By: Marissa

As of late, I have been looking at myself in the mirror, and seeing a happier, more centered, me. I have to look at myself and question, ‘Where have you been?’ I ask myself that almost every day. Where has this person been in the past few years? Where have you been hiding? Lately, I have been in a really dark place. Things have happened that have kept me from doing the things I love. Things that honestly, I am afraid to post on social media. Maybe one day I will, but now, the wounds are too fresh.

I can’t express though how grateful I am for the people I have found in my life. Even during the dark times. In the past few weeks, despite the depression, I have found new friends, and even found people who I thought disliked me. Through all of that, I have realized how loved I truly am, how much people actually care, regardless of how I thought they viewed me. Because of recent events, I have been able to find these people and form new friendships and new bonds. I have the strongest support system I have ever seen, and I can’t explain how happy I am.

I can’t truly explain what it is like to live with depression. I can tell you the symptoms and the feelings I have, but I can’t really explain the darkness in my head. It happens to a lot of people, and I have realized that with each person that approaches me and tells me their story, offering their help. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone, so isolated. It took me to be alone in the darkness, just to realize that one the light comes on, there were hundreds of others standing right with me.

That is something I can explain though. As someone suffering with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), I have the tendency to feel as if I was alone. But once a light comes on, once someone comes to me and tells me their story, I realize I am not as alone as I think, and that is an amazing feeling.

I promise I will try harder to present more to you all. While there will be days that I don’t post for awhile, I promise you guys are always on my mind. Even if I don’t know you, you are a community that I can come to when I can’t stand for myself. While there will be bad days, while there will be times where I can’t control the tears, I just have to look in the mirror and say, ‘by God it’s great to be back.’

Taking A Break…

For the past month at New College, we have this thing called an Independent Study Project (ISP). It is where we focus on a specific internship or project for a whole month to better ourselves through that specific task. My ISP is called NaNoWriMo, where I basically write a 40,000-50,000 word book in a month. Terrifying right? I have been trying to write as much as possible to be able to meet my word counts for the day. Everything seems to get more and more bleak as I continue. My hope for this project dwindles as we get closer to the end. It certainly is difficult trying to write everyday and not lose motivation.

My topic, specifically, is about mental health and my gender identity, and how it all meshes together. After all this time of writing, I am taking a break… To write more here. This journey of trying to write all these things has brought me to a point where I realize a lot of things, such as where I’ve been and how far I have come. When it is all in the moment, and you’re jotting down everything you have felt in the past seven years, it gets tough. You start to think, maybe I haven’t come that far at all. Maybe it is just another hole I am letting myself slip into. If you are a writer, and you focus mainly on mental health like I have, don’t fall into that hole. These past few weeks there have been days I haven’t slept, not only trying to get my word count in, but also trying to try and rationalize all my feelings that I have had developing inside me for all these years. It certainly is a great feeling to get it all out, but still. It’s all a work in progress. Life in general is… there I go! Rambling again…

Needless to say, it all gets better. I guess that is my main point in all the posts I make and all the things I try to elude to you all. It may seem tiring and upsetting right now, but it certainly does get better. I hope you all stay tuned with Miss Olivia, my new co-writer, and I, for all our future posts and endeavors!

I Deserve To Be Comfortable

Where do we draw the line between our own happiness and others opinions? I’ve been trying for the longest time to find that sweet spot. I realize I care too much about others opinions on subjects and how they view me, within my family, my social group, and even people I don’t even know.

Example A.
I shaved my head. Not completely bald, but I definitely look like Teenage Negasonic Warhead from the Deadpool movie. It makes me happy and comfortable with myself, so why should I care? The answer is… I shouldn’t. Easy right?

Could it be a side effect of low self esteem? Maybe. I feel as if my life choices somehow make others uncomfortable and therefore I hate the things that I do. Then *ding*! The lightbulb in my head goes off and I realize that:

  1. This is my life. I can’t live trying to make others happy,
  2. You can’t make 100% of people happy all the time,
  3. I love myself, and I should do what makes me happy.

Example B.
I have struggled with my gender for awhile. You all know this. The way I present myself changes on a day to day basis, sometimes multiple times a day depending on how I feel. I sometimes hold off on that switch because I feel that wearing more masculine clothing makes people around me look at me differently and not see me for… me. But recently I’ve been able to break through that barrier, finally. Realizing that if this makes me comfy, why should I hold back?

This college experience has taught me so much in recent months. I can’t believe I am becoming the person I wanted to be for the longest time.

Where do you draw that happiness/others opinions line?

Inevitable Heartbreak: My “I’m Sorry” Open Letter

It is currently 12:26 in the morning, and let me be honest, I am not used to being up this late. This isn’t usually what I do, but feelings need to be written in order to cope with the crushing pain in my chest. Breakups aren’t fun, I think we can all agree on that. But as the tears clog my vision and “our song” blares in my ears, I can’t help but notice that somehow… I can’t even come up with a word that describes what this all even feels like. I’ll admit, I have my faults. And even as I tried to type just one of them, I just delete it because I thought of one far worse then the last. Maybe it is just the feelings talking, or maybe this is the true me that hides under the surface of smiles and positivity breaking through that skin wall. Who knows?

It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be unsure and scared. Maybe your relationship, your education, or your career path worry you on the daily. Whatever fits your situation, it is okay to worry a ton, and be unsure, and be scared. But from what I have learned, wait it out. Not only could all that worry go away, but someone can come along or a situation could present itself that could make your problems dissipate. It’s going to hurt, and you are going to feel your heart shatter every second you think about it. But there is always a better time coming, as long as you wait… If you are dealing with a relationship issue, just wait. Wait for them to come home so you can get on the phone and talk it out. Wait for them to come home from across the country. Don’t give up. If you truly love someone, just wait.

If you can’t wait or if you are dealing with a breakup, I’m sorry. I know it sucks. If it ended with the intention that one was trying to do right, I understand. If you ended it because you were scared or because you felt like you were doing the right thing, the pain goes away, I promise. You just have to breathe, and know that you did what you thought was right. Even though you regret the decision every night, even though you stare at pictures, even though you listen to your guys’ song every chance you get…. God I hope it gets better…

Always on my mind… Always in my heart…

High Expectations

Good afternoon everyone! I hope this Monday has been a good one for you. I started this morning with doing some laundry, coffee, and some good ‘ole organization. I also took the time to reflect on past weeks and how I have been doing.

Last Monday I had a meeting with one of my professors about my approach to the readings in her class. I have realized, making the transition from community college to legitimate college, has been easier than I had hoped. What really has been difficult though is trying to understand the language used. And I vocalized these feelings to her, and you know what she said?

“You need to lower your expectations for yourself!”

WHAT? Me? Lower my expectations? How could I ? I know what I am capable of. But goodness later that day I realized she was right. Not just did she mean lower my expectations for myself academically, but also emotionally.

At 5:00 pm on September 19, 2016, I had my first severe panic attack. I began trembling at first, shallow breathing, feeling like everything was caving in, then came the uncontrollable crying. I was on the bathroom floor surrounded by my roommate and my two best friends, holding me while I cried. As far as I remember, I couldn’t talk, couldn’t think, which is probably why I don’t remember what happened for that hour.

I kept quiet about it for awhile because I didn’t want people to think that I couldn’t handle what was placed in front of me (school, relationships, changes in general). But I need to realize that I am not always 100% okay or capable of being perfect all that time. I, and a lot of people, need to lower our expectations, and give ourselves room to breathe and understand that we aren’t always where we want to be. I’m allowed to cry as much as I need, I’m allowed to have breakdowns, YOU are allowed to cry, YOU are allowed to breakdown. Just don’t apologize for it. That was something I realized while all this was happening, was that I seemed to apologize a lot when it was all coming down. Why should you apologize for expressing your feelings? Stand strong, cry if you need to, but you don’t need to apologize.

BREATHE. You got this.

 

Eternally Thankful

Upon, finally, coming back on this site to try and compose a compelling blog post, I glance at my stats page.. 192 views on my last post, “Coming Out… Again?.” People, I don’t think you understand where this puts me mentally. Sure, it may not be the biggest population of people, but it is a start for me. For years I have feared that I could never make it as a writer, much less someone who blogs about life and my mental illness. At my college though, I am actually taking a course called Writing About Writing, and the course material and concept is pretty explanatory. In the course I have proven to myself that I can write, and I can write well. It just takes time to advance my skills.

I want to thank everyone who has subscribed to my articles, everyone whose read, commented, and liked my posts. I would like to know what else everyone would like to read about! What can I do to continue helping you?

Much love, Blessed Be

Advice from Mama

“We live in a society, that’s not always accepting of who you are. You need to be able to take the pain. But, you need to remember that your going to be who you are, and no one can change that.” -August 19, 2011, courtesy of Facebook’s ‘On This Day’

Whether it connects with you through mental health disorders, personality, religious preferences, sexual and/or romantic orientation, etc., I believe it stands true with everyone. Ever since I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, I felt so different from everyone else. I felt rejected by those who knew, and the anxiety kicked in when I had to tell those who needed to know.

I go to a school now, that I don’t have to worry about that. The people I have met, and the people I have known before and have the honor to be friends with, and even the people I don’t really know, are so accepting, so loving. I have never felt so at peace with my life then where I am now. Granted, yes, I have to write a thesis next year. Yes, the course load will be difficult. But that is a story for another time. Before I got here, I was extremely worried about my social life. Will I fit in? Will I get looked up and down? Will people judge me? Etc. Etc. But now, I am so happy to be a part of this family that everyone looks out for each other. Granted, yes, it is college, and there will always be some social “bumps”, so to say.

I have to remember that I am going to be who I am going to be, and no one can change that. As long as I stay true to myself, I know everything will be okay.

If you went to college, what was your experience like?

A Fresh-ish Start

For the past week I have been pressing on in my college journey. Moving in, doing orientation activities and games, as well as being around all my new classmates. It has honestly been quite the experience, and quite the stressful one as well. While I usually am able to adapt to new situations easily, this one is a little different. Sure, I’m only 20 miles down the road from home, why should I feel homesick? I didn’t feel the anxiety I feel now, snuggled up in MY bed.

But, I digress. I am excited to get started into the school year and continue on with my journey. I have met a lot of new people, seen a couple great friends, it has been amazing. Granted, I haven’t even called home in the past few days because of all the exciting things going on. After taking what we call “Mini-Classes” today, I realize the stress I am under and how tough this is going to be.

This step though has certainly made me think more and more about my depression. How am I going to make sure I take my medicine? How am I going to react when things don’t go the way I want them to? How bad is my anxiety going to get? This is going to get pretty rough, but lets see how it goes…

How bad did everything feel for you when a big step came around?