happiness

Timeout

I need to take a minute to write some of this down. I am feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment and need to get it off my chest.

As many of you know, I am currently around 600 miles away from my family. Something that has been made infinitely harder by the fact that I have recently decided to move back to New England to be with them this summer. Another thing that has made my time away even harder recently has been the engagements of not one but both of my sisters. It has come to my attention that I am one of those people that can’t be without their family, especially not for long periods of time. And with all the family joy spilling over, it’s becoming even more difficult.

wedding bellsAnd currently, my little sister is trying on wedding dresses.

I wish I could be there so badly and it absolutely sucks that I cannot. Instead, I’m stuck in what I’ve come to think of as my dungeon, also known as my bedroom, attempting to do the mountains of homework that are required of me to pass the four grad classes that I am taking this semester. (For the record, three is the recommended maximum amount of classes.) But my concentration has been totally shot all day, especially now that I am receiving pictures and wondering how much better everything looks in person.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m miserable because she is getting married and I am not. On the contrary, I am very happy for her, for both of my sisters. But not being able to be there is one of the hardest things. It’s one thing to miss the snow and the weather, it’s another entirely to miss out on events that I would love to be there for.

I’ve tried all my normal avenues of distraction: my favorite tv show, a book, homework, music loud enough to shatter an eardrum. So far, nothing has worked. I’m hoping if I tell you about it, that might help. Or you might have some other suggestions.

Although I guess I should give that book thing another try since I know you’re expecting a review this week 😉

I guess that’s all I can say and just hope that it gets easier.

Original Work Friday: ‘Til You Make It

Sometimes you just have to grin

and bear it.

Put on a happy face

even when your insides feel shredded

and your heart is torn in pieces.

Pretend it doesn’t bother you

say it’s all okay.

Sometimes it’s all you can do to say sane,

to stay standing

when your legs are about to give

and the world is collapsing around you.

The loneliness creeps in and

you start to believe it.

Losing the faith you had in yourself

as you watch the happiness fade.

Sometimes the tears, the pain

are all the focus you can handle.

Because without that,

you might just fall to pieces

and can’t be put back together again.

Rage against it,

fake it ’til you make it

and keep standing tall,

smile with everything you have.

Because that just might be

enough to get you by.

Official Countdown

‘Tis the season for counting the days. There are 26 of them until Christmas but that’s honestly not the most important one at the moment. Here’s what does count:

14 = the number of days until I will be in my home state again

2 = the number of presentations, papers, and finals exams (each) I have left to do

1 = the lightning talk I have to give on Wednesday for a class that I have come to seriously loathe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd of course I’m excited about Christmas, but I’m more excited to get home and see all the wonderful snow that will hopefully be there when I arrive. Although not having another ice storm this year would also be nice.

Oh, I almost forgot:

21 = the number of days until I see my first Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance!! I just bought the tickets today and I cannot wait to experience that.

One of the many things I am looking forward to doing next month. The others include making the famous Webber gingerbread house, picking out and decorating the Christmas tree, and wrapping presents. All while relaxing in a house that smells deliciously of wood smoke and enjoying some peace and quiet while everyone is at work but me 🙂 So I guess having a short vacation will also be something I will enjoy!

Original Work Friday: Battlefield

holding hands

Two people stand alone together, facing, in a field. Perhaps this is the first time they have met, perhaps it is not.

They are here because they have convinced themselves ready and able to make this commitment. Whether they actually are, remains to be seen.

They came to be here after searching for an opponent worthy of meeting in this place. They have approached others and discarded them like a sweater that did not fit properly, was too itchy, or the wrong shade of blue. Each has been waiting innumerable years to be able to come alive in this situation. Certainly they have been in similar locations and circumstances but never quite like this. This is something real, something true, something bonding.

This place, it is not something to be easily thrown away or easily kept. Staying upright can be as much of a challenge as looking the opponent in the eye at times. There are unexpected events, flowers cropping up, rocks becoming overturned, secret powers revealed and wonders to be beheld if only each can remain on equal footing.

When these two people are first viewed, each is equally unarmed. Although either might be wearing armor, that is natural defense and not a cause for alarm, only a boundary for the other to work around in this quest.

As each stands there contemplating the other, several futures race ahead of them before the eyes of fate but unseen by the players. Every move they make from now on will affect an outcome that they are not yet aware of. Eventually one or the other might catch a glimpse and alter the course to the greater good or steer harder towards it endeavoring to win for themselves.

The longer they stand there, the more they study one another, size up the opposition, the more battle ready each becomes. They stand gracefully, at first an appropriate distance apart, before ever so slowly inching closer. And the closer each moves to the other, the more intimate the battlefield becomes. They more knowledge each gains.

The weapons appear in many forms. From the sharpest of swords and rapiers, to throwing stars, bows and arrows, dull knifes, axes and hatchets, there are maces and bludgeons and strange things not able to be described. There are also needles and bouncy balls, there are pillows and potted plants, handcuffs, and skillets.

From the time these two begin gathering weapons and disaster strikes, one of these outcomes becomes inevitable. For enduring battle is more than just standing in a field.

First, the years trudge on with nothing significant happening, the players remaining close, possibly touching, but not fully encased in one another. Until out of nowhere, a storm brews but they take no notice. A large gust of wind comes and finding the players unprepared, sweeps both off their feet. One is knocked out and the other remains conscious. And so it continues.

Once both are alive and well again, a sort of infection occurs in the one who was unharmed by the storm, a sort of resentment against having to lay quietly while the other rested in preparation. And so they begin to use the weapons against one another.

While each knows the weaknesses of the other, the one who begins the fight does so with the intention of vengeance and hurt. The one who receives the fight, retaliates without being positive that this is the correct outcome, but they must duel if they are to survive.

Sometimes it can start with something as small as a needle, a pinprick of blood drawn and the lust of battle takes full force. The use of the mace and the sword, the sharp stars and the lances grow until it cannot be contained by either side. There is no thought but blood and pain.

If it is not reigned in, it will rage on until each player has worn themselves out or forced the other to their knees. There is no victory here, only death. Shards of glass and bits of self lay scattered in the grass. Weeping can be heard but neither knows if it is themselves or their opponent.

One might eventually have the strength to get up and walk away. Or they might both remain forever in that desolate place, trapped, broken, and alone in their mutual despair of imprisonment.

If the first then perhaps the fates granted them this endeavor.

The opponents become close, each trying to best the other without the use of weapons first. They use skills of the body to seduce, to overwhelm, to overcome. But they are equals without being equal to each other.

The more they learn about the other and in turn, themselves, the more they realize that they are standing in what they thought was the right field but turned out to be the wrong field. They are not battling with the one they were meant to.

This can be confusing and one or the other might try to convince that this is the right place. If this goes on for long enough, there can be an earthquake which will awake each to the truth. While they protect each other from harm, it is not for the right reasons.

They fight and become angered, agitated and afraid. Each is unsure of how to proceed. They cut into the other without knowing why, but not truly wanting to cause permanent harm.

But eventually each will agree upon the right conclusion. The shallow wounds are not worth the price of the occasional shelter or frenzy. This set of players chooses to walk away from one another and this battle ends in a draw called friendship.

If not the first or second, then the final becomes the inevitable conclusion.

The players continue to creep towards one another, ever exerting the right amount of caution and curiosity until they are touching. A light touch to simmer the blood, to heal, to learn, to evolve. Eventually they are drawn up so close they it is hard to distinguish between one and the next.

The years pass and the weapons remain present but relatively unnoticed. The two remain pressed together. Suddenly a great thunderstorm approaches, seeing this, the couple breaks apart and decides on a plan of action.

There is no shelter, nothing to prevent the storm from breaking, so they strip off the armor, discard all attached weapons and sit together, huddled on the ground for warmth and wait it out. There is thunder and lightning, all manner of terrifying things that come howling, but still the pair do not separate.

Tempers can be short when forced into such situations and though each might pinch or prick the other at times, it is not enough to cause any lasting damage, nothing irreparable.

When next the sun finally arises, days or years later, each is tired and sore but alive. They take again to each other in mutual affection, thankful that at least the other made it through intact.

They once again noticed the discarded weapons and do not think much of them except in jest. They toss the bouncy ball at one another, playfully lob the pillows, and put the handcuffs to a better use than torture.

Here the stay in this field together, seeing it not as a prison but as an oasis. They continue to have occasional strife and first blood but the war never has a chance to begin when the two are ensconced in so much mutual respect, desire, and affection that has endured such a rough storm.

Teen Topic Tuesday: Suicide

suicide

This week’s teen topic is one that I feel very strongly about, and no, it’s not for religious or moral reasons, it’s actually rather personal. As someone who has seen firsthand the affect that suicide can wreak on a family unit, I want to share some of that experience with you and attempt to make you understand why, regardless of what you think, it will have a resounding impact on those around you.

Suicide in teens (and anyone else for that matter) is a devastating thing. In today’s world of bullying and potentially shitty home lives, it seems that suicide might be the best option. And when it comes to depression or bipolar disorder, it might feel like it’s your only option. But it’s not. You might think that you are alone and no one can possibly understand what you’re going through but you’re wrong. There is someone out there who cares, whether you realize it or not. It might be a friend, a sibling, a parent, a cousin, a classmate, or even a teacher. You aren’t the only one to experience how you are feeling and giving up on life isn’t the solution. And if you’ve gone through all of those people and you are still depressed and still think that suicide is your only option because no one understands, then you are probably not talking to the right people.

Now, don’t think I’m writing this to reprimand you, in fact, I want to encourage you to not think of suicide as an option. I know that seeking help can be scary. As someone who has struggled for years with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (and no, that’s not just saying I have it in the sense that I am a compulsive cleaner or alphabetize my DVD collection, I have actually been diagnosed), I know how difficult it can be to admit, even to yourself, that something is wrong. I didn’t even know what I was feeling was OCD until I talked to my doctor. I’d suspected for years that I had a mild case but being diagnosed officially with it made me feel ashamed and less worthy to be around “normal” people because I had to be on medication to make my brain operate at a functional level. I didn’t even admit it to most of my friends or family until long after I had been diagnosed.

And while OCD might not be the same as depression, it actually a lot of the same markers: loss of interest, feeling overly tired, withdrawal, moodiness, frustration, anger, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, changes in your sleeping pattern. I experienced all of these things (plus anxiousness and panic attacks) because of a chemical imbalance. My first therapy session was uncomfortable, to say the least. I felt like I was being judged and misunderstood. Of course, that was about the time that I discovered that it can take a few tries to fit the right fit for a psychiatrist. But I didn’t give  up, even when I really wanted to because it was awkward and uncomfortable and disconcerting. Eventually, I found the pace and the medication dosage that worked for me (about 3-5 difficult months after my diagnosis) and I was glad that I didn’t just throw in the towel.

help

And in my younger years, like most teenagers, I contemplated the benefits of giving up on life when it got too hard or too stressful, especially with some of the things I experienced at home. And even at my lowest, most frustrating point, all it took to know that it wasn’t even a choice I could make was to remember how it had previously affected my family and how it would affect them if I chose to take my own life. I had a family member who took his own life and can remember the grief that ran through my family, even though I was quite young at the time. I had another family member who attempted suicide on several occasions and seeing her in the hospital was a terrifying experience. It threw into sharp relief what the consequences of those actions might be for me. Every time I felt desperate or depressed and felt like no one understood me and wanted to give up, I remembered how I felt when others had attempted or succeeded in taking their own lives. And it was not something I wanted to make others I cared about experience again. And still to this day, though it hasn’t happen in quite a long time, that’s all it would take for me to turn away from that path.

 

Why suicide is the most selfish thing you can do

While it might make you feel better, you are looking at the world through the lens of “me, me, me”, not even bothering to give a thought to how it will affect those who care about you and will be left behind to clean up the mess you’ve made, figuratively speaking. The people who will still be alive after you are gone will grieve and suffer for this choice. Whether you are a “nobody” and think that no one will notice, I’m here to say that someone will always notice when you are gone. It may not be your absentee father or your workaholic mother, your spiteful sister, your pain in the ass brother, your best friend turned enemy, the principle who thinks you are up to no good, or the friends you thought were real. But maybe it will be someone you didn’t even know you impacted. The grocery store worker you always smiled at, the sibling who looks up to you, the parent who loves you, the grandmother who has already lost more people than you realize, the friend who secretly wants to be back in your life, the teacher who think you have potential, the bus driver who knows you never cause any trouble, or the fish who is depending on you to feed him.

I know people say it all the time, but you have so much life ahead of you. High school is not the end-all, be-all that people think it is. High school is just 4 years of your life. And while people there might be cruel to you, there is probably a reason why. One that has more to do with them than it does with you. Kids can be mean but that doesn’t make them correct in their perception of you. Only you can give value to yourself and if you let their thoughts dictate your worth then you will never be happy. One opinion doesn’t make it the correct one. If you spend high school trying to find your identity instead of letting other people define it for you, then you will be much better off in the long run.

But where to begin? Whether it’s you or someone you know that you suspect is thinking about suicide, the best option is of course to talk to them, or try and convince them (or yourself) to talk to someone else. Anyone will pretty much do to start off with. Guidance counselor, teacher, principle, mutual friend, parent, or sibling. And if you would feel more comfortable talking to a stranger, there a plenty of hotlines (like the one below) that you can call and seek help. But the important thing is to open a dialogue. Communication is essential to the healing process. Don’t give up before you begin.

suicide hotlineRead this article for a slightly different opinion.


Along the same lines, I would like to mention celebrity suicides. A phenomenon that has been sweeping across the nation and is devastating so many fans along the way. One look at how people with unlimited access to the best this world can offer is enough to make you realize that fame and fortune aren’t enough to make someone happy. It makes me wonder if they were getting the help they needed or were too self-conscious to seek it out. And it goes further to prove my opinion that finding the help you need can be unnerving but worthwhile and that your self-worth is the one that matters the most. The more you let other people define you, the unhappier you might be in the long run.

So take a deep breath and pick up the phone, or walk downstairs, or down the hall and start the conversation that could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Or if you would like to talk more to me about this, my email is kataweb416@gmail.com

Chasing Life (and Happiness)

As any of you who also follow me on Twitter know, I religiously follow a few shows during the summer. One of them is a new show on ABCFamily that has touched me greatly in the last few weeks. The show is called “Chasing Life” and it is about cancer. Think of the show “The Big C” that was on Showtime and then change the main character to a young woman.

Cancer accounts for nearly 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States every year. And as someone who has been personally impacted by this statistic, the portrayal of April’s story of leukemia really hits home.

I often laugh, cringe, cry, gasp, and rage at my television during every single episode. The executive producer is actually being encouraged to show the rough, real side of cancer and how it can impact families and friends, not just the person who is diagnosed.

While the show might not be easy to watch some of the time, its message is definitely worth listening to. In fact, one of the main characters, Leo, has some great quotes that really make you realize what is important in your life. For it is usually when we are faced with death that we understand what it means to live.

Thank you, ABCFamily for making a show with love and struggle that isn’t just a bunch of drama. Having lost several people in my life to this disease, it makes me remember that I am not alone in experiencing this trauma. Approximately 1.7million people in the US are diagnosed every year which means 1.7million families are affected by this. And while research continues to bring us closer to a cure, there are millions of people who will never live to have it administered.

Chasing Life wants us to notice what is truly meaningful in our lives. I know that I am personally guilty of spending way too much time worrying about the future or planning out my every move. How many of you are the same?

Maybe it’s not about changing your entire lifestyle. Maybe just pick one small thing to change and see what an impact it can have. Check out the show and see how it affects you.