Roller Coaster

Image result for roller coaster quote
Sometimes it feels like I’m on a roller coaster that doesn’t stop, a series of ups and downs. As soon as things look up there’s always a 5ft drop.
The year after high school ended and going into college, I started becoming super close with my friend and her family who lived in my hometown, they were like a second family I guess you could say. Before I started college, even when she was at school, I’d be there with her parents and siblings. Most nights I went to sleep there, and most mornings I woke up there. It was like a second home to me. I spent every waking moment and chance I had with them. My parents during this time seemed rather annoyed that I spent all this time with them and not my family. During this time my depression and suicidal thoughts were on the rise. My “second family” was always there to support me, and even at one point brought me to see a counsellor.
Summer 2012 I had a falling out with these friends, this was difficult for me. Going from spending every moment with them to not at all was a big adjustment for me. I tried endlessly to work things out with them, but every time I did I made things worse. That summer, they ended up calling the police on me. I guess you can say when I tried to work things out, I was a little bit persistent with it. I’ve never been one to give up on people or let people walk away, even when they tell me time and time again to leave them alone. With summer coming close to an end and me moving to Peterborough for college, this was a positive for me. I’d have something to do, and would meet new friends. But as the school year started my depression and suicidal thoughts continued to climb. My “second family” eventually came around shortly after school started, on weekends I would go there. Slowly, the good started turning bad again with them.
With the end of first semester rolling around I learned that math and science wasn’t for me and dropped out of the pre-health program that I was in. I later applied to the Child and Youth Worker program for the winter semester.
Over the Christmas holiday marked my first suicide attempt that brought me to the hospital. I ended up over dosing on Tylenol and my sister brought me to the hospital. I spent a couple days in emerge, and a couple in the intensive care unit. This was a hard time for me over hearing doctors that I might need a new liver if things didn’t improve, and the concern my family had for me was really hard. I was so glad to be alive, it made me realize that I would never want to put my family through losing me. Eventually I was released from the hospital.
January 2013, I was back in school and meeting new people again. My parents were constantly on my case post-hospital visit and didn’t allow me to see my “second family” as much, along with that “second family” didn’t want me there as much. I think they were worried that things would go bad again. Slowly but surely, I lost them again. This was difficult but I managed to push through it this time, and even started seeing a counsellor at school. The child and youth worker program wasn’t for me either, but I applied to Police Foundations for the fall of 2013.
Fall fast approached and I started Police Foundations at Fleming College. I started making new friends, I got more involved in school, and my grades were well. Things were good, I had a group of friends at school that supported me, I found a program I liked and was happy with where I was at. But the roller coaster I was on went down again.
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Walking on Eggshells

I have a close family member who makes almost every situation stressful. My entire family dreads coming home at the end of a long day because you never know what kind of mood he will be in. He might happily greet you at the door, or be screaming at you the second you walk in. Being around him is like walking on eggshells, you never know when he’s gonna crack.

Around a year ago, I came to a realization – as soon as I am in the same room as him I become extremely stressed and tense. Driving in the car is the worst and one night is a prime example of why – I brought him along with me to my friends’ house to help cheer him up. While we were there he suddenly grabbed my arm and said that we needed to leave immediately because he knew he was going to have a freak out. I politely told my friends we had to leave and that I would see them all later. We were driving home when suddenly he punched the dash board and began screaming. I stopped the car, terrified. He was in tears and got out of the vehicle, proceeding to walk down the street. We were in a neighbourhood he is unfamiliar with, so I followed him close behind. He then began screaming at me to leave him alone so I drove back to my friends’ house as it was closer than my own. I called my mom and asked what I should do. She said to go back and try and pick him up to bring him home. But I was scared to get back into the car with him. It was lucky that we were still in the subdivision when he first began freaking out as no one was around and I could safely stop the car. Had we been on a main road an accident was likely to occur. I decided to just drive home. My mom of course then had to go back and pick him up. He got home and yelled at me for leaving him on the side of the road, even though he was the one who told me to leave him alone.

Over the years I have learned the best way to cope with living in the same house as him. It’s important to stay calm when speaking with him and not to approach him without first observing what his mood is like, which can often be determined quite instantly through his body language and tone. By sticking to this approach, I have been able to avoid being the target of his anger in numerous situations and can only hope that this will continue in the future.

Where it all started

*Trigger warning*

I’ll start with some boring background information on how it all started.

My childhood was for the most part normal, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at a young age which made my childhood a little bit different but not much. I didn’t let my disease define me. My parents fought and eventually got divorced, I was too young to remember this. My sister however has more of a vivid memory of it than I do.With that we moved away from Toronto to Kawartha Lakes. This is where my mom met my step dad. Overall, I had a pretty normal upbringing and would say I have a good relationship with my family, with the exception of my younger brother. My younger brother and I have not had a healthy relationship for as long as I can remember. He’s like the typical bratty teenage brother who thinks he’s always right and has rude come backs for everything. I try to tell myself that he’ll grow out of it.

I never had many friends, growing up I was the “outcast”, having 1 or 2 good friends.

High school rolled around and with that I met a more stable group of friends. Being a teenager isn’t easy and most of us don’t even know who we are at that point, add on mental health issues and it makes the teenage years even harder. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 years old that I realized I was “different”. A lot of my friends during this time were discovering their own mental health and I noticed they were resorting to self-harm. During this time I was facing relationship problems with my on-again-off-again boyfriend of 3 years. This made me depressed and down at times, so I decided to do what my friends were doing and resorted to self-harming in hopes of this helping what I was going through. Self-harming slowly became thoughts of suicide as time progressed, none of which I ever thought I would act upon.

Stay tuned my fellow bloggers,

Montie93

Exam crunch and how to stay healthy

Everyone is busy finishing last minute projects, bonus assignments and preparing for their finals, whether that be papers, projects or formal written exams. I am currently enrolled in the SSH practicum program and at the last minute came to the realization that come Dec. 6th, I must present my poster to the faculty and community partners.

My exam schedule is all over the place to put the icing on top. I have exams the first and last day with two others in the middle – however this isn’t my worst exam schedule. Second and third year I had three exams within 26 hours of each other, which meant I was super stressed. If you have this exam schedule, or a similar one I suggest you start studying now or at least plan how you will study, I believe in you though!

Here are some tips for staying calm and healthy during finals:

  1. PLAN- everyone I know who does well, studies over a period of time.
  2. Take breaks- your brain can only handle so much and after four hours your brain doesn’t remember as much; so take a quick 5-15 minute break
  3. If you can’t get a full 6-8 hour sleep try napping, there are so many articles on added benefits of naps – however, aim for 30 mins or less, you don’t want to be groggy.
  4. Eat regularly – eating regularly helps you focus and keep the energy you need to complete assignments and exams. Also eat healthy – we often grab take-out or pre-made meals and eating healthy will give your immune system a boost to keep you healthy during this stressful time.
  5. Breathe – during an exam or project when you feel frustrated, take a quick deep breath and clear your mind.
  6. Trust your GUT – you often know more than you think you do, even if C has been your choice for the last 5 questions.
  7. Visit office hour for last minute clarification.

If you are starting to feel a cold coming on battle it head on with soup, orange juice, and if you feel like it take cold and sinus pills. Sleep will be your best friend, take a day for yourself, it could help you in the long run.

Good luck my fellow readers on your finals! You can push through this semester and have a great break 🙂

Avoiding Financial Stress During the Holidays

This time of the year many of us face financial stress. The holidays can be expensive and fees for the winter semester are due soon. As students, most of us do not have unlimited funds and it is important to try and not rack up additional debt. There are lots ways to save money around the holiday. Here are a few:

  • Give yourself a spending limit – Figure out how much money you have to spend on the holidays. Don’t forget to including any additional costs you may face. Set an amount to spend on presents for each person on your list. Only donate what you can to charities, or even set a specific amount for this too.
  • Keep track of your spending and store all receipts – Your budget does no good if you don’t track your spending. A spreadsheet is an excellent way to keep track of where you have spent your money. By keeping receipts you are able to return things if you need to rearrange your budget. Having your receipts organized also becomes handy in case the sweater you give your dad doesn’t fit and he needs an exchange.
  • Cut back on extras/treating yourself – The little things add up. Avoid buying a coffee every morning and put that cute black dress back on the rack. If you are strapped for money, buying yourself gifts isn’t the best idea.
  • Try cheaper traditions – Holiday traditions don’t need to be expensive. Trying watching a favourite movie or building a snowman with your family. Going tobogganing is always fun too. Make cards and crafts with your friends, or have a baking party. If you love to sing, find a group to go caroling with. There are lots of fun activities you can do around the holidays which won’t break the bank.
  • Have a potluck – A great way to get your friends and family together is hosting a potluck. Ask each guest to bring one dish. You can enjoy some delicious food with great company.
  • Look out for sales – There are always sales going on. Keep an eye out for these when shopping for gifts and food for holiday events.
  • Start shopping early – There are lots of gifts you can buy all year long, so start shopping as soon as you can. This will also make your life a lot easier as you can avoid the jam packed malls.
  • Save money throughout the year – If you know you will be struggling to pay for everything during the holidays, put away a small amount each month in order to prepare.
  • Reuse wrapping – Bags, boxes, ribbons, and bows can all be reused for wrapping presents. These items can also be bought on sale after the holidays and found at the dollar store.
  • Know when to stop buying – You don’t need to buy everyone everything on their wish list. Most people would be content with a simple “Happy Holidays” or card. Getting gifts for people always feels great, but make sure you don’t go overboard.
  • Pay for things on debt or with cash – The best way to avoid debt is to put your credit card away.

Hopefully these tips help to reduce financial stress from the holidays. Remember to enjoy time spent with your loved ones and have fun.

Happy Holidays!

Burning Out: Is it to early to think about this?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Burning Out” as   1) to drive out or destroy the property of by fire; 2) to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse.

Of course I am talking about the 2nd definition. As we are finishing up assignments and heading into our exam periods, it can become hard to be motivated. And for some, the potential of a good grade or passing a class, isn’t enough any more. The fire that was once lit under them – like the saying goes – is burning out. However, there are always signs. Below are Forbe’s “Top 10 Signs You’re Burning Out – And What To Do About It”. But like anything, please take this with a grain of salt and even add some of the signs you think were missed or even how you deal with it:

SYMPTOMS OF BURN OUT

  1. Exhaustion

A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

  1. Lack of Motivation

When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for to do work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.

  1. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions

You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything; feel more generally pessimistic. Negative emotions are becoming unusual for you.

  1. Cognitive Problems

Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate.

  1. Slipping Job Performance

Compare your work performance now to your performance in previous years, because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time.

  1. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work (or School)

This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers (peers) and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.

  1. Being Preoccupied With Work … When You’re Not at Work

Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. [Similar may go for when you are out with friends and you are thinking about school work]. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

  1. Generally Decreased Satisfaction

This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life.

  1. Health Problems

Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO PREVENT BURN OUT

Take Relaxation Seriously

Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Personal Life

Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).

Unplug

While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is key in resting your body and mind for the following day.

Get Organized

Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.

Stay Attuned

It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions both physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. As well as, mental signs like some of the top 10 signs.

Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them

Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones.

 

So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.

Well wishes, L.R.

Gerry, L. 10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It. (2013). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/#2d31e7185e01

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.

End of the Semester Stretch

Every time the end of the semester hits I always get super lazy and complacent. It always happens… I want to get my stuff done and over with, but I can’t seem to just get it done. I stare at the paper for hours… I just want to give up and be done, but there is still so much more to do that I just want to sleep and not worry about finals.

Finals aren’t even a thing for me. I can’t study because all I want to do is again sleep. Maybe do a little crying and some stress eating.. and some more crying. I literally just want the semester over and I somehow cannot see the end in sight yet it is LITERALLY RIGHT THERE. I can never know why I cannot just get my butt off the couch and get the stuff done!

How do I beat this stretch and get on the ball? Well… usually I stop crying and hike up my socks and just take a mass amount of breaks and eat waaaaay too much chocolate. It may be hard but somehow I always get it done.

Basically, just try your best and breath. You are not the only one who is trying to fight the stretch and you can do it!! I believe in you! Good luck and kick some finals butts!

Time to get back on track

To say the last month has been a whirlwind would be a severe understatement. Having submitted my law school application (!!!!), I can finally sit back and relax to some extent. However, the last month I haven’t been taking care of myself mentally or physically.

I haven’t been following my prescribed nutritional plan because it’s so much easier to pick up a piece of pizza than cook a full meal, and a healthy one at that. Usually I’m in the gym five days a week, but I haven’t been in nearly a week. I also haven’t been taking the time to care for myself mentally – I’ve been letting everything pile up, not engaging in self care, and not opening up to my friends about my feelings as much as I should be.

That being said, I’ve been able to recognize that it’s time to get back on track. Taking a break was something I needed; pushing myself beyond my limits would have just made everything worse. But now that things are a tiny bit less hectic, I’m excited to work towards feeling better mentally and physically. There’s no sense in being hard on myself because I’m only human, and sometimes we all need to take a step back and do what makes us okay in that moment – and if that includes eating 15 mini Kit-Kats while I write a paper, so be it!

What I think is most important is not being hard on myself – it’s so easy to beat yourself up for eating that chocolate, or for not going to the gym when you know you probably should have. That being said, sometimes it’s a struggle to do the things you should, and as long as I get back to where I need to be, I’m not going to make things harder on myself.

Plus…that chocolate was totally worth it!

Are You Overworking Yourself?

Let’s face it, most of us have overbearing schedules and too many commitments. We wish there were 48 hours in a 24 hour day just so there would enough time to complete all the tasks that are required from us. I’ll admit it, I have experienced work overload way too many times in this school year alone – and it isn’t even half way finished! Responsibilities like family life and babysitting my brothers, attending class and completing assignments, my volunteer commitments, my job commitments, and of course having a social life (when I have time..) sometimes crash down on my shoulders all at once leaving me face down in the dirt. I have felt miserable over not having time to myself, I have felt stressed out because I didn’t have time to relax, and I have felt alone because I didn’t have time to see my family and friends. We all overwork ourselves at one time or another. Whether it be from procrastination (and having to write a 10 page essay the night before its due – P.S. don’t do this, its a bad idea), working too many hours at work, or whatever other reasons you may have. To simply put it, overworking yourself sucks. When you put too much time and energy into your responsibilities without allowing yourself to regenerate, you’ll experience burnout. Here are some tips and tricks to help you refrain from overworking yourself.

(1) CARRY AN AGENDA – Seriously, this is my NUMBER ONE tip for you. Having the ability to plan ahead and actually see when your commitments are due is a miracle. Have you ever had that panic feeling when you look at a syllabus and realize you have a paper due that week? Guess what – an agenda will save you from this nightmare. Write down every class time, every assignment that is due, every midterm day, every volunteer date,  your job schedule, and whatever other commitments you may have.  You will officially have the advantage over your workload, you will be able to tell what weeks are super busy and prioritize where you should focus your time. And lets be real, you’ll actually have a valid reason to use the phrase “let me check my schedule” when booking an appointment. Organization is the key to help you relax, I promise.

(2) SET DATES FOR YOUR SOCIAL LIFE – The one thing that irks me is when my friends and family ask me to go out to dinner or a movie last minute and I can’t make it. This happens all of the time, us busy bees tend to always miss out on fun things because we are occupied with other commitments at that moment. Key phrase – we are busy AT THAT MOMENT. We aren’t busy all of the time, so instead of missing out, plan ahead with your friends! I’ve been through weeks where I have felt gloomy because I’ve been constrained to the 4 walls of my work space, no contact with friends, and no nights out. Don’t pull a me – plan ahead and enjoy your time while you have it!

(3) DO NOT BE A PROCRASTINATOR! – I know it is easy to say, but procrastination is a huge contributor to burnout. I struggle with procrastination – it is the one thing I have struggled with from the beginning of high school, it has continued throughout my university career, and it has made me go bonkers. Having a start on your assignments means having more time to relax and do things that you want to do. Do you know how great you feel when you have a paper due in a few weeks and only have to work on the last couple paragraphs because you’ve already started? Or how much easier it is to study when you already have your notes printed out prior to the midterm week? When you have free time or are bored, instead of spending meaningless hours on your phone watching cat videos, why don’t you start looking at assignments that are due later on? You won’t have the added stress of having to complete hour long assignments if you break it down beforehand. Scheduling in time for my assignments is one *new* technique I’ve tried this year, and being a chronic procrastinator – it has helped!