Taking time off…Is it showing weakness??

Since when did needing to step away from everything for a while show weakness…Or does it?

When you come from an old school family, taking time off, stepping away from a situation or anything that involves time to think and reflect meant that you were doing one of two things…giving up or just being lazy. Why it’s believed I do not know. I mean in some cases I understand the rational behind it, you know if it was that I was at home day in and day out on by butt watching TV instead of going to work or doing something with my life, not having a purpose then I get it. But when you honestly just need a little break from the life of school, when you just can not handle the stress anymore and mentally just can not do it anymore when did that become a weakness.

In my family, there is this whole thing of mind over matter, to the point where if anything was wrong they would just insist that if I say i’m okay and keep telling my self I am okay than I will be okay…. And even though for somethings it worked, when it came to mental illness and depression, that wasn’t really the best way to deal with it. That’s just pretty much saying that my problems will just disappear if I try to ignore them. I guess before me and my struggle with mental illness, my family never really believed mental illness to be a thing, and there are still people I know that believe that mental illness is just a hoax, and that I am just over exaggerating and stuff like that. What are you to say to those people, the people that just take you as a joke or a fake, and act like your just putting on a show and that if you really wanted to you could just snap out of it and be “normal”… but what is normal??

As I have stated in a blog before, this year has been one of my toughest mentally and because of it, I think it would be best to take a break from school next year, even for just one semester to just step away and breath. I love school, I always have and I know for a fact that I will go back to school if I take the semester off, or the year because I love learning, but I do need a break. How are you suppose to explain to someone who thinks mental health is not a “thing” that I need to take a break from school for the sole purpose of my mental health, and that it’s not me being lazy or giving up but the fact that the state of my mental health is more important and it’s okay if it takes me an extra year to graduate. I guess I am just tired of having to explain myself, and it’s not even having to explain myself to my own family but its my friends and my boyfriends family as well. Why should I even have to explain myself! To this  day, when you say you have a mental illness a lot of people see it as a weakness, and I just don’t understand how? Why is something that you are struggling with all of a sudden become a weakness, why are we sometimes seen as a lesser person and how can we as a community over come this stigma!

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Am I home sick or is it stress?

Coming back to school after the winter break has been especially hard for me. I don’t really know 100% why but it has been tough trying to get back into the groove of things. I have always been a person who loves school and learning, but lately I always find myself asking why am I here and is this what I really want to be doing. When truth be told I just want to be home with my family. I have always found myself to get home sick, and living away from home hasn’t really been easy for me. Trying to deal with new roommate and trying to get comfortable somewhere that just doesn’t feel like home. Let me tell you it sucks. I’ve never really been a person who makes friends easily, and it’s not because I’m mean or cocky or anything, but more that I am an extreme introvert and unless someone full out makes the attempt to talk to me I’ll just keep to myself. Out of my three years at university so far, I find that returning to school now has been the hardest and most stressful time yet. I find it hard for myself to pay attention and stay focused because all I want to do is be home with my family. My family and I have tried to see if me commuting every day would be worth it, but it is not. I live far and I actually would spend double the amount of time commuting, than the time I would spend in class, so that was out of the question. So it was either live in Oshawa or switch Universities, yet I do love this school and don’t want to change. So it is as if I am having a tug-a-war with myself and its draining me so much that I just don’t have any energy left for school. On top of it I am always stressed, I’m talking stressed about things that there should be no reason to be stressed over. So between the wanting to be home and the stressing over my school work and just school in general, it is as if I have come to a fork in the road and cannot decide which way to go if any, or if I should just turn around. My parents have asked me if I would like to take the rest of the year off or if I need a break, but the issue is I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I am just going through a phase of feeling alone and actually missing home, or if the stress and exhaustion that school puts on me is doing this.

All this to say that I guess I am only to take it one day at a time, because how am I to make a decision if I don’t actually know what I want?
If you guys have any tips on being home sick or stressed please share 🙂

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Staying on task this time of year

The end of the semester is approaching deadlines are right around the corner and stress levels are at their highest, and not to mention the holidays are right round the corner. With all this going on I find it hard to stay on track, stay focused and actually get work done. We are so close to the end yet so far, we still need to hand in our last few assignments, study, make it through finals and somehow find time to sleep and eat in between there. This time of year, I struggle a lot to keep on top of myself to ensure I am getting things done when I need to. So I thought I would share some of my tips to keep on tract for anyone else who has the same issue I have around this time of year.

  1. Make sure to get organized and eliminate as many distractions as possible
  2. Make a to do list and a schedule
    • Prioritize the tasks
      • The hardest or most time consuming item first to get it out of the way
    • Include breaks in the list
      • Allow your brain to take a small break – it will help you stay focused when you get back to working
    • Set realistic goals and expectations
  3. Surround yourself with people that will help push you to study and get stuff done ahead of time
    • Avoid studying with people who are known to cram their studying time
  4. Make sure to eat breakfast
    • It will help you stay focused and energetic in the morning
  5. Set times to eat during the day
    • I forget this one a lot, but it is easier to concentrate when I’m not hungry
    • Stay away from greasy and heavy foods it will only make you feel tired and gross, which will make it that much harder to focus and concentrate when you go back to studying
  6. Must set time to get a good night sleep
    • A good night sleep is key to allowing you to be alert and focus during the day
  7. For a courtesy to other people you should also insure you set yourself time to shower 🙂
    • I personally find water relaxing so I count my shower time as one of my studying breaks
  8. Most importantly let your brain relax now and then and reward yourself
    • At the end of a long hard day treat yourself – whether it is to indulge in ice cream, watch a movie or an episode of your favorite TV show – allow yourself to take a breather it will do you some good
      • Personally since I love the holidays that are approaching, I relax by watching a holiday movie so that the kid in me is happy to 🙂
    • Discipline yourself when it comes to your free time
      • Don’t turn a 1 hour break into a 3 or 4 hour break

Just because this works for me it doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. But I thought it might help anyone who struggles around this time of year like I do, and has not found a good way to stay focused.

Coping With The Loss Of A Friend

This story is a sad one and I am sorry if it brings up some past emotions of anyone who reads this. This story deals with bullying, depression and suicide. I am telling this story because I want people to understand that words are not just words, but they can hurt and in the end, some could even kill. Mother Teresa said “loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

Just over a year ago my childhood best friend committed suicide. It was right before her 20th birthday. And I know it might not make sense to you but a part of me blames myself for not being around to help her or try to get her help.

When we were kids we were attached at the hip and before we knew it we were graduating elementary school and heading off to different high schools. Before her death we had not spoken in just over a year and a half. We were both just so busy with school and work and by the time grade 12 rolled around, we just got so busy we did not keep in touch much, if at all. Everyone at some point in their life goes through a rough patch and for me it was grade 12, but for her it was most of her life. It was as if every time she tried to fight to get over the obstacles, the worse it got.

I did not have many friends in school, I never really have and neither did she. We were odd balls but I believe that is what allowed us to be best friends, we were both weird in our own special way. I personally had not experienced bullying until I reached high school, which is what I wish I could say for my friend. As we were in elementary school and kids got older, they realized she was different than them and would pick on her. No matter what we did, they never really stopped. We could get teachers involved and that would resolve the problem for maximum 2 or 3 weeks, but it never really completely stopped. By the time we reached grade 6, you could tell the bullying was causing her to change as a person. And why wouldn’t it, going to school knowing your going to get laughed at or teased about the way you look, the clothes you wear, or your waist size. It was mentally and physically exhausting for her.

As the bullying continued we grew closer and closer and became better friends because hanging out together, away from our classmates was as if they didn’t exist and that was when she felt as though she belonged. She did belong, but how do you explain that to someone when 20 other people are telling her she didn’t. I was happy for her to go onto high school, I figured things would change, she would meet new people and the bullying would stop. That was not the case though, the bullying got worse and she got pushed into a heavy depression and started self harming. She crosses my mind almost everyday and it tears me apart inside. I always find my self asking “what if” questions.  What if I went to the same high school, would things have turned out differently? These “what if” questions are useless because nothing will change the past and bring her back, nothing can undo the years of bullying and loneliness she felt.

She had messaged me about 3 months before her death. It was exam time, I was so busy with school and work I never got back to her. Before I knew it was too late, I was out of the country, and therefore didn’t even find out about her death until after the funeral when I was back in the country. For a while, I could barley live with myself. I kept wondering if when she messaged me it was a cry for help or if she needed to talk or what. I wondered if me not replying to her was the last straw and a year later I still beat myself up for it, for not taking five minutes to talk to an old friend. Would that five minutes have killed me, I assure you not, but what if it killed her.  I know that what is done is done, and I will never truly know what went through her mind the day it happened, or what it was that caused her to take her own life. What I do know is that she made the decision a year and a half ago and there is nothing I can do about it now. But what I can do is try and help but an end to bullying!

I wonder if people really hear and understand what they are saying sometimes – when they tell you you’re a mistake, or you should have never been born, best of all when people tell you everything would have been better off if you weren’t breathing. I wonder if bullies would still go around bullying people if they knew what it felt like being told you’re worthless. I wonder if they would continue if they knew down the road, the individual would think that ending their life would do good to everyone around them. No one should ever be made to feel worthless, and the fact that bullying still goes on is pathetic.

My parents raised me with the idea that if I don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all! Maybe if people were to think before they speak, the world would be a happier and less lonely place.

 

 

Scared to let people down

I have always had a fear of letting people down. For the majority of things I have done in my life, I didn’t do them because I wanted to, it was more because I knew it is what other people wanted me to do. Whether it was because of friends, boyfriends, and even my family, I never really did anything with out first getting everyone’s approval.  I have struggled my whole life questioning if what I would do or the choices I wanted to make would let anyone down. I have always felt the need to make everyone happy even if it meant that I was not going to be. I feel this really held me back in life and stopped me from following my dreams and doing what I wanted to do with my life. If people would ask me for favors or to help them I would always say yes, no matter what – whether it was to help them with homework or go somewhere for them or do something for them the answer was yes,  even if I knew I didn’t have time to help them or I could not afford to. I was always scared to hurt their feelings or to disappoint them. Knowing that I would disappoint people really affected me, and therefore I always tried to do whatever I could for them even if it was going to negatively effect me in some way need. This issue I had for not being able to say no, and not wanting to let people down caused me to fight a lot with my self and the future I wanted.

Both my dad and mom have been in the business field their whole life and both my sisters followed in their footsteps. I always felt I was the odd one out in my family being the only person who did not want to get into business.  I always knew I wanted nothing to do with business. I knew it was not for me, yet I always fought with myself wondering if I would disappoint my family, especially my dad. My father is a man that no matter how well you do, he wonders why you did not do better. Growing up, it was tough always trying to live up to his expectations (now a days I know better, all he wanted was for us to be the best person we could be). Whenever I spoke about any science programs I wanted to get in to, or any university, it was as if I never had his full attention. Yet the day my sister got into the same program at the same university as my dad had, he was so ecstatic and proud. I had never really seen him react like that. I guess I was jealous and a little hurt because at that moment I felt like no matter what I did in my life, whether I were to become a doctor, a lawyer, a hair dresser, or even the prime minister I though that I could never really truly make him as proud as he was in that moment with my sister.

A part of me always knew my father would be happy with whatever I decided to do with my life, yet another part of me, if not most of me, kept wondering if I followed in his footsteps, took the business route and when to the school he went to like my sister did, would he be any prouder of me or think of me more highly? I spent months contemplating what I should do with my future; do I do what I want to, or do what I think everyone wants from me. It was an extremely emotional and frustrating time leading up to university. I took a year off just because I needed to figure out what the right thing to do was. I know it might sound ridiculous while reading this, that I put my life on hold because I was not sure if following my heart was the right thing to do. I assure you now a days I realize it too, but at the time it was not so clear to me. It was not clear if I should do what my heart desires and if I do happen to disappoint anyone then to bad so sad for them, or do I do what I though would make everyone else happy, even if I was not?

That year I took off, it did put my life in perspective for me with the help of friends and family. I came to realized that no matter what I do, I will never be able to make everyone happy, and that the only truly important thing is that I make sure I am happy with my actions and choices. I came to realize that if people truly care about me, they will be happy for the things I do with my life as long as I am happy. When push came to shove and I chose UOIT as the university of my choice and the thing I feared most never came true. My father was very proud of me and has been since, because of the sole fact I did what I wanted to do.

So all this to say that I learnt no matter what, as long as I do what makes me happy, everyone who loves me and stands behind me will be proud of me. The last thing I should ever do is to put my life on the back burner because what I want is not what other people want from me.