New Beginnings

Forty-one days.

Forty-one days until the basement full of shopping bags will be relocated. Forty-one days until my years of living in my oh-so beloved home in the lovely suburbs of Chicago will come to an end. Forty-one days.

The classes are set and the first of many student payments has been sent in. I am, in only a matter of time, going to be a college student.

I have known I would be leaving for college for months. I have known NIU would be my home for the next for years for some time now-it was the only school I applied to and there wasn’t any looking back-and I am beyond excited to start my next chapter. And yet I am also sad. An emotion that I have been battling confusion about ever since I have linked sadden and college into the same category. Excitement and a sense of nervousness? Normal. But to me I am just sad. Excited and sad.

I am a home girl. Born and raised in Wheaton, its the only home I have ever known. But, I am also fully aware that it will only be a matter of weeks after I back up and head to DeKalb before the dreaded “For Sale” sign will make itself at home on our front lawn. And oh how I will with all my might for that sign to set up camp elsewhere. My home has been my whole life.

It is where I said my final goodbyes to my father, and where I parted with my beloved dog. It was the meeting ground of new hello’s and the sanctuary of where the afternoon naps have always taken place. And when that sign stick its roots in the mud the two people remaining in that house will be up and out of the oh-so lovely and yet oh-so expensive Wheaton. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Where will I go when I have breaks. My new house won’t be home.

Who will greet me when I come home on warm summer nights?

I have grown accustom to the culture of living in a cul-de-sac with such fabulous community. A place where you can receive high quality car washes for reasonable prices, all while supporting a local small business. (Insert heart eye emoji)

Community.

But, with great love comes great losses.

At the age of eighteen I am lucky to say this is the first big move I have experienced and while I know full well it won’t be the last I consider myself honored to have known such love of a home growing up.

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The pain of knowing someone cares, as a person with BPD.

I know, it sounds crazy. Why would someone find pain in knowing that they have people that care about them?

What person doesn’t find comfort in knowing they are loved?

Humans are made to seek love and affection from others. It is how our mighty God made us when He crafted us in His perfect vision.

So why, then, do some people find pain in knowing they are loved?

A little over nine months ago my therapist diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder. While the diagnosis was extremely mild, it was still enough to give me the pieces I needed at the time to complete the puzzle. It explained why I had a tendancy to sabotage really pure relationships and why I struggle to see the grey in things.

Being able to put a label and finally understand why I do the things I do truly solved many of my issues. I understood my actions which allowed me to correct them in situations. I put that diagnosis behind me, as well as I could, and continued on in my healing process.

Until a few nights ago when I sat down in a therapy session.

Over the years I have grown extraordinarily close to my therapist. He has acted as not only a guide in my hardest of times but also as a father. He is the person I can count on to tell it to me frank and I always found comfort in knowing that to him I am just a client. Something about me felt at ease knowing that I could unload my problems on to him and know that it wouldn’t keep him from functioning, as it is his job to listen to peoples crap.

But, and I am not sure when, at some point that changed. This night I sat down and, after an extremely long day, verbally vomited on him. I was brought to tears and confessed to him that I truly did not know how to handle a situation that I was dealing with (of which I will not disclose for my own protection). He repositioned his body and with a furrowed look in his brow told me how much he cared for me. He even informed me that he was truly worried and burdened by the information I had shared. But not burdened in a sense of distress but more out of pure love and concern for me. A type of love I had only felt from one other father figure in my life since my father passed. And it was an odd feeling.

I expressed that I didn’t like that he was burdened and even apologized for any stress I had caused.

He looked at me, in a way where I could tell he truly was saddened by the words I had said, and he told me something that stuck with me well.

“Sarah.” He said. “I am a grown man, and in this job I see a lot of clients and I hear a lot of hard things. And with those clients, and those things, I get to chose what I let impact me outside of these four walls. I didn’t chose to care about you. But I chose to worry about you, that is my burden that I chose to carry.”

And those words hit me hard.

You see, with BPD, I often struggle to realize that people do not have to engage in relationships with me. Not a single soul on this earth is obligated to me in any way. And yes, that does me I have to be careful not to push people away. And I have to be aware to not mistake peoples words for there true meaning.

But it also means that all the love I get, oh wow. How pure of a love it is.

Maybe, just maybe. It’s time we helped ourselves.

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What is it about change that people are so resistant to? Why is it that people stay in dead end, abusive relationships; or stay at jobs that they dread attending every day.

Maybe it is a sense of feeling obligated. To their co-workers, or their spouse, maybe even family. Maybe it is just that the idea of starting over is more of a stressor than the dreadfully unpleasant state of affairs they have found themselves in.

We, as humans, tend to cling to the comfortable, the familiar, regardless of the impact. I am most certainly guilty of clinging. I hold onto the things that I know and avoid facing change until the last possible moment.

When I was thirteen I had a therapist. Denise. I had been seeing her for many years and she had seen me in my worst of times. Finally one day she said something to me that has stuck with me all these years. She told me life is like a child in a dirty diaper.

Ok, don’t stop reading because I mentioned dirty diapers, please! Hear me out!

The matter of the conversation, to keep it concise, was that I was sitting in my crap for way to long and need to snap out of it.

She explained to this.

If a baby wets or fills their diaper you would change it as soon as you realized it to be full. You would not just let the infant sit in the discomfort a full diaper and wait for it “to be more full” She went on to inform me that life is the same way. When we come to the realization that we are sitting in a dirty diaper. Weather that be that dreadful job, or the relationship that is causing more pain than gain. We should not sit in our stew just waiting for something worse to hit.

Now, five years later, I have found myself sitting in my diaper. Why? Well for me the discomfort of the diaper is better than the process of the change.

I have grown accustomed to the home I live it. No, it is not healthy for me, but it is what know. And I have gotten used to boys treating me with disrespect. It is easier to just deal with it.

Finally, I had my blow out. That relationship that I thought was just non-beneficial became toxic. And the “brush-it-off-the-shoulder” techniques for how I let people treat me became unsafe for me physically.

God got right in the way of my stubborn soul. Now, as I leave for college, preparing for a world of new changes, I am finally learning to be proactive.

Eventually, no matter what you do somebody will always change your “dirty diaper”. If you don’t change it yourself then God will send someone in.

He always does.

 

Time is more than just minutes.

There are so many sayings about it.

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

“It has been said, time heals all wounds” -Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

Time passing is one of lifes’ few guarantees.

Life never stops. There is no pause button. No rewind or fast forward. There is just time. Every sixty seconds in a new minute every sixty minutes in a new hour, and every twenty-four hours is a new day. That is never going to change.

In a world full of uncertainty it is rather nice to know that no matter what changes the sun with rise in the morning and set in the evening. But sometimes it can be a real pain. We often wish the world to pause for a week while we mourn the loss of loved ones. We crave to go back to our childhood, or the days when life was a simpler place. We yearn to skip the days of the early morning classes and the late night study sessions, wishing to jump to the good part when we are really living our life.

It’s a nice set of dreams, but it isn’t reality.

I recently turn eighteen, in sixteen days I will be graduating high school and in three months I will be starting college. I now make monthly car and phone payments and will begin working a full time job this summer. It seems as if my childhood has merely disappeared before my eyes, leaving me nothing but distant memories. And while I celebrate my newfound freedom I mourn the loss of when life was easy.

It’s a balance.

Time truly is a balancing act. Managing it, enjoying it, and trying with all our might not to take advantage of it.

As I have gotten older I have noticed that my view on time has changed. I used to view life as a great adventure. Everyday a new page full of things to discover and as I grow and work my way into early adulthood I view each day as a ticking time bomb, and the only way to stop it is to get a list of stuff done.

Make that appointment.

Finish that project.

Fold that pile of laundry that has made a home on my bedroom floor.

I am happy but I am not enjoying the here and now. I do my school work and I eagerly await college because I know that what comes after I will love with all my heart. I am enjoying the outcome that is merely years away.

And that, that is no way to live your life.

I recently stumbled upon a quote that has since changed my perspective.

 Don’t spend more than five minutes being upset about something that isn’t going to matter in five years.

Not more than three hours after this verse was brought to my attention a friend asked me to join her in a hike to a hammocking spot.

Automatically I thought that it would be a waste of my time while I value spending time with my friends I would rather do something productive together, like shopping or preparing for things to do, but I agreed as I knew it was of importance to her to get out and enjoy to sun.

Since that day two weeks ago I have since gone hammocking with her twice and alone once.

There is something about the wind and the fresh air. The sound of birds chirping and the water flowing that completion of any task, no matter how big or small can beat.

Now I see, in all the pain, that you made me strong.

I saw you the other day. You were sitting in your car, waiting. For somebody, but I knew not for me.

I have learned that it is not logical that after all these years you would go out of your way to wait for me. To find me. I have learned that you have moved on.

But I still had fear, because you saw me. You recognized my face, even after all these years. In the dark of the cold snowy night you recognized my face. You perked up from the seemingly comfortable serenity of your car and you saw me. And I saw you.

I guess that fear will never fade because the moment your eyes locked on mine my gut told me to flee, drive, leave. But something in me told me not to. Some part of my being told me that I was skilled enough to move a few lanes over and park my car. My gut told me that I had it in me to step out of my car and walk in that store. My heart knew that I couldn’t let you control me forever. My stomach told me that five years later you were not going to stop me from getting my pita chips. My brain told me that this was my chance to show myself that I have grown.

And I have. I stepped out of my car and I locked it. I placed my keys in between my fingers clenching them with all my might, I pulled out my phone and called a friend. And I walked. The minute I saw your headlights turned off my heart sank, but the minute I walked in that store it felt as it I had just won a grammy. I was safe. He wouldn’t hurt me in public.

In the light. I was safe.

I went about my shopping trip, and I got my pita chips. They where on sale, so now I was really over the moon! I checked out and I walked to my car. I didn’t see your car, but I figured you had just left. I mean rationally that probably is what happened. I stayed alert and I went about my day. The minute I pulled into my driveway I was ecstatic. I had done it.

You were a monster to me, my worst nightmare. The thought of you hurting me haunted my soul for years after I was freed from you. And yet, here I am thanking God that you were at that store that night. You proved me to something that I was too afraid to admit to myself. I am not defined by what you did to me. I am stronger than that.

Seeing you proved to myself that I can know that you are still out there and still be happy.

Still be calm.

It proved to myself that I am a gentle soul. Because when I saw you I didn’t get that rush of anger that I used to get, instead I got a feeling of heartache for you. A feeling came over me that maybe you are one of the best things to happen to me. Because in all the pain you caused me years later you, unconsciously, taught me that I strong. I am lovable. I am brave.

And I am happy.

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What if we changed the way we viewed suicide?

***Trigger warning***

I have often heard people refer to those who have died by suicide as selfish.

Why is that?

It truely doesn’t make sense to me.

“Don’t beat yourself over their choice. It was selfish of them.”

“Don’t get too down about it they knew that they were hurting people when they did it.”

Or the worst thing of all, to say to somebody who has just attempted.

“Why would you try to take your own life. What were you trying to do just leave me here?”

Seems awful. I know. But believe it or not these are all things that people have said to me or to those I care for greatly.

As somebody that had lost friends by suicide and somebody that has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past I can tell you with 100% confidence that none of those words are at all helpful. And to be quite frank I struggle to see why anyone would even think that those words would be helpful in the first place.

While I struggle greatly I also reach my hand out to extend grace to those who say those words. As they may not know the power of what they are saying. Or maybe they are struggling with their own loss and that is just how they are coping.

Understandable.

But what if we changed the way that people viewed suicide.

You see people that take their lives don’t die from suicide. They die by suicide.

They die from depression. Anxiety. Trauma. Addiction.

Ok what’s the difference?

To say somebody died from suicide would be to say that suicide is what killed them.

Now while to some extent this is true that is not what killed them. What killed them was the months or years of torture. Whether that be from mental illness or bullying at school. Suicide is the way the handle it. And unfortunately it is a coping mechanism that once complete can’t be taken back.

And I think that is what people struggle to realize.

Now yes, I realize this is a pretty risky thing to post as I know it is something that people have very strong feelings toward, but I’m not going to hold back.

I am not trying to say that people can not have their own feelings about different topics but somebody has to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves.

While I pray nobody ever has to experience grieving the loss of somebody that died by suicide I also pray that if one should come across this post and then one day relate to it that they would have a new understanding of the pain filled process that those that battle everyday feel.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or plans please call the number above. There is help. You are worth it.

What if we lived in a world full of love? Wow.

This past Thursday my school was blessed with the opportunity to listen to Tim Ryan speak.

A man that, as of this past Wednesday, has been 5 years sober.

Amen.

A man that has been through the ringer to say the least and has see the darkest side. But a man that I respect greatly.

I have never struggled with substance abuse so it was near impossible for me to relate to his struggles but believe it or not there is so much more to his story than just drugs.

I got many things out of Tim’s presentation but the one that stuck with the the most was the much needed reminder that we never know what somebody is going through.

So often in life we judge people by their covers.

Oh that person is on the varsity football team. He has a girlfriend and is always at parties. His life must he awesome.

Little do we expect that the same guy is working three jobs just to make ends meat.

Oh that girl is so pretty and skinny and has so many friends. She is always laughing!

Little do we expect that the same girl is skinny because she hasn’t eaten in days.

That kid is so weird, he never talks to anybody and is always wearing dark baggy clothes, he is so emo.

Little do we know that they are going home from school and slitting their wrist just to try and control the pain.

People make assumptions about others based off of what others say. We make fun of people that don’t fit in and leave them crying and then get heartbroken when we hear the announcement that they are no longer with us.

Makes you think. Doesn’t it?

This world is broken. People are dying every day from drug addictions that all started with one person giving them grief about how smart they are. Or lack there of. How weird they are. Or how much they don’t fit in.

People are being abused every where we look and in stead of leaning up beside the victims we just sit back and say “wow glad that’s not me”

People are being bullied. Harassed in the hallways. And instead of stepping in and saying something we walk past. Because maybe if we just act like we didn’t see it then the issue will magically go away.

It breaks my heart.

What if instead of making assumptions about people we asked how they were doing.

What if instead of making fun of somebody for the way they dress you compliment their hair. Or shoes.

What if instead of sitting back and hoping somebody else will change the messed up world we live in we step up and do something.

My prayer is that one day all my fellow brothers and sisters that struggle can say that they too have been 5 years safe, sober, and happy.

Thank you Tim Ryan. For a much needed reminder.

To the people behind the words “me too” you are so loved.

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If you have been on social media much lately I am sure you have seen multiple people with the status quoting “me too.”

It brings pain to my heart that so many people can honestly put this on their status. I think that it is ever so important to raise awareness to the issue. But there are plenty of posts that are supporting those who are typing those two heart wrenching words and clicking post. My heart and my prayers go out to them as I am one of them myself. But I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about the people that are typing it and deleting it. The people that are whispering “me too.” in their minds but aren’t saying it because of the fear of what people are going to say.

Will people look at me differently?

Will people start asking me question?

Will it bring back the treacherous memories of  the horrors I thought I had dealt with? 

Maybe they can’t post it. Maybe the fear of their abuser shielded them from being able to ever tell anyone in the first place and now, to post those words would cause am uproar of questioning and fear within their social circle. Within their family.

Maybe they were sexual assaulted or harassed. Maybe they were beaten to the ground. Hit or punched or kicked. But they weren’t raped. They weren’t inappropriately touched so they don’t feel they can share that they are struggling too. Maybe they were called a slut by there significant other. Told that they are unworthy of love or a bother. But they don’t think their struggles are “real enough”.

Maybe you are a guy, and that is just “not what this is about” because the internet says that this is to support women who are struggling.

This post is for those people.

Your struggles are still valid. Your pain is just as real. We stand with you.

According to Martin Beckford 80% of victims of assault or rape don’t report it. So imagine how many other people on your Facebook and Twitter were also taken advantage of, in any way, shape, or form, and declined at the opportunity to share that because not a single soul knows. You are not alone.

Victims. The statistic says victims, not women. It breaks my heart to say that with as many girls and women that I know that relate to me too I know just about half that amount of guys that relate to it as well. You are not alone.

To everybody secretly holding on to your me too. You are not alone.

Not all realizations are fun, but they can move mountains.

Recently I have come to the painful realization that my mental illness does not only impact me, but those that love and care for me as well.

I've always known that my mental illness impacts others I just didn't know that people actually cared about me. It wasn't until this past week that I truly realized, in the bottom of my heart, that I am loved.

I know I am loved and cared for, I always have. In a sense of I have never doubted that my family loves me. I haven't even every doubted that God loves me. But what I did not know was that my best friend cares enough about me to text me multiple times when I don't reply within a few hours. Or that the one man that I look up to more than I can even try to form into words cared about me enough to drop everything and drive across town to make sure I was okay.

Realizing that I am loved was a wonderful feeling.

Realizing, not long after, that therefore my illness impacts those people greatly?

Well that was a much harder pill to swallow.

Ever since I have been diagnosed with depression I have become selfish.

I, for the longest time, didn't care if I bailed on my friends, making them feel unloved and betrayed. It didn't cross my mind as a big deal when I ruined family events because I was sitting in a corner crying.

It had nothing to do with any of them. It was a me issue, and so it shouldn't impact them. Right?

Wrong.

I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member who I care about greatly. They said to me that they simply did not understand depression. That the whole depression and anxiety bit didn't make any sense to them. They seemed angry at me for being mentally ill. Like I let them down in some way.

When I hung up the phone I was angry, how could you possibly be angry at me for something that I have very litte control over? It is not my fault. It is not something I asked for.

Then I sat back and thought about it. That family member never said he was angry at me for being mentally ill. He simply said he didn't understand. He said he was at loss for words. But then he said that he loves me.

I realized that maybe, just maybe I needed to stop making assumptions about how people are feeling.

I remembered that the first time I talked to my best friend about her mental illness I didn't understand. I hadn't yet been diagnosed so all her struggles simply confused me. I wasn't mad at her, I just care about her. I didn't know what to say so I told her exactly what that concerned family member told me. I told her that I didn't understand, but that I loved her.

And after I told her that we sat in her room in dead silence. Because was at a loss of words.

Does it stink that my own personal struggles impact others so deeply? Yes. But I choose to see that as not only proof that I am loved but as my motivation to get better.

After all, the Sears Tower wasn't built with only one person that cared. It took a village.

And I, I am a skyscraper in the making.

To the women that has made me the women I am. Thank you. 


I think it is fair to say I am a little biased towards my Mom, but man is she amazing.

Last night as we sat down to discuss our plans for this years Mother’s Day my Mom shocked me with her ideal day.

“I’m so excited! I am going to wake up early before church and make breakfast and then after church we are going to do some housework together and then go on a picnic!”

I looked at her cross eyed. Reminding her that it is Mother’s Day and she shouldn’t be doing work.

She replied to me “I just want to do something with you.”

My Mom has not been handed an easy deck. In the 17 short years that I have known her she has shown me that she is a caregiver, a friend, a mother and and father, a good cop and a bad cop, and a person that loves me more than words can explain.

As I get older and I experience more of life I realize that not everybody has a Mom that will do anything for them.

Not everybody’s Mom will drive to their kids school in the middle of the day just to bring them some Advil for a headache. Not everybody’s Mom will wake up at the crack of dawn just to make sure that they get to school ok. Not every Mom stays up until two in the morning just to make sure her kids get home safely.

I am learning that not every Mom cares.

But mine does. 

My Mom and I do not have to best relationship ever. We are not enemies but of course I would like to be closer. We get in arguements because I don’t put the dishes away on time. She gets mad at me because sometimes I am home 15 minutes after curfew and I do not ask her first. We get annoyed of each other sometimes- but lets face it, that is pretty normal when you live with somebody. But at the end of the day my Mother is the reason I am who I am today.

She is the one that made sure my brother and I got proper counseling when my dad passed away. She is the one that made sure I had rides to my practices. She is the one that drives me to school on rainy days so that I do not have to walk in the rain. My Mom is the person that makes me soup when I get sick, and cuddles with me even thought she knows she will in turn be throwing up 24 hours later.

I lost my Dad at a very young age, and it was awful. I miss my Dad every single day. But God blessed me with my Mom.

Things could ALWAYS be worse. My Mom could have given up on my brother and I after my Dad passed. We could have lost her in a car accident, or a million other scenarios I prefer not to think about. But I still have my Mom.

So this Mother’s Day and everyday, to my Mom.

Thank You.

When my OCD makes me think that nobody cares.

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OCD is not something that I talk about often. It is something that I have just recently been officially diagnosed with but something I have silently struggled with for years.

No my room is not perfectly clean 24/7, in fact more often than not it looks like a tornado came through it. And no I do not have to wash my hand after I touch every door handle.

But I have OCD.

OCD has gotten a reputation. That it is just this thing people have that makes them have to have everything in a curtain order, or that causes them to have to do things a curtain number of times.

Yes, all of this can be true. But it is also so much more.

I obsess over thoughts. Negative thoughts. Thoughts that the world would be better off without me. Thoughts that not a single soul on this earth cares about me.

I have found that it has gotten worse and worse over the months. I have accepted it because I am being treated for it. And I am growing to appreciate it. Because I now obsess over the positive thoughts as well.

A few nights ago as I was sitting having a conversation with two people that, if I am being completely honest, are more like parents to me than anything. I was sitting there pouring out my heart of how I just felt so tired of the constant battle I was facing. I looked up, with tears flooding my eyes, and I saw two people in tears with how much they cared for me. Two people that I thought just put up with me because they wanted to do the right thing were sitting right in front of me, in tears as I spoke to them about how lonely I felt.

I truly did not know that any person on this earth cared about me that much.

Since that day I have not been able to stop thinking about how grateful I am for those two people. Is it healthy for anybody to obsess over any thought? No. Not at all.

But obsessing over my newfound knowledge of the fact that people care about me is a heck of a lot better than obsessing over the idea that I am a living, breathing, burden.

 

Today was a day my depression spiked up. But you would never know it.

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Today was an awful day.

I mean terrible.

But you wouldn’t guess it. Not by looking at me. Not by even talking to me.

Today I woke up to the same alarm as I do everyday. But the moment I opened my eyes I knew what kind of day it was going to be.

I rolled out of bed after five minutes of encouraging myself. I mustered up the energy to go into the bathroom and brush my teeth. I even took the time to take a morning shower in hopes of refreshing myself for what the day had ahead.

It did not help. Not at all.

I got of the shower feeling even more exhausted than I did when I woke up. But I put on a nice often. They tell you to dress how you want to feel. I wanted to feel happy so I put on a nice dress and did my makeup. I put in effort.

Still. Nothing.

I went to school and sat through all my classes. I participated in the class discussion. I laughed at all the jokes. I talked to my peers in the hallways.

But inside I was crumbling.

I came home and went to my tasks. I went to babysit and I laughed and played with the kids. Soaking in every moment, because to me the most joyful thing here on earth is the sound of a happy child.

Nothing.

I went to church and I sang all the songs and listened intently. I prayed asking God to just give me one moment of genuine happiness in that awful day.

Nothing.

You see the thing about depression is that some days just stink. Some days you really do just have to put on your big girl pants and fake it until your head hits the pillow. But that is hard to accept as a Christian. As a Christian I want to just be able to say that it is all in my attitude. That the day is only as good as I make it. That God is by my side so I will be fine.

I think that it is thanks to God that I am able to go through my day without a single soul knowing my world is crumbling around me. Because I know that it is by Gods grace that through all the thoughts in my head telling me I am worthless I am still able to function as an active member of my community.

That, right there, is how you know you have beat depression.