Reflections (3-27-2020)

What a week it has been. As the world clamors for some sense of stability, it unravels it’s resiliency once more; we will make it through.

This week in isolation has brought me to look inward at what I’ve become. The lack of control to our situation has reminded me of the anxiety I try to suppress. Yet, I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone. If you’re in a state of mental negativity, please remember that this is only temporary. We will come out of this stronger.

As for me, I have honed in on specific elements I’d like to work on in and for myself: exercising my individuality,  writing and reading more (and not just my textbooks!), and dedicating time to finding what makes me happy.

This sci-fi fantasy we’re currently living in will not be forever. Keep your mind busy, especially when the negativity washes over. Stay strong and be safe!

-chellbun

The wilting rose adorned with thorns.

Though they promised, one day years ago, that they’d find their way back, she stood before now him in bewilderment. His eyes were sad, as if the years they spent apart had worn down the radiant gleam they once held, now only glossed by the fresh tears that sent a burning sensation throughout his face.

Somehow, the time had made her more beautiful, as if that was possible. Her once black locks were now blonde. She looked…happy. Without him. Her faint smile sent him through a cascade of emotions. He recalled the last time. The final goodbye and empty promises to find each other at a better time.

Now. Now could be that time. The final end of the saga where high school sweethearts separated by the mishaps of youth meet eyes and remember what their love once was.

But instead his eyes met a pair of arms that wrapped around her small waist, just as his used to, and pulled her back to safety. Safety from his curse. His inability to love without hurting. A wilting rose adorned with thorns.

I lost 30 lbs in one year: Am I happy?

The short answer: yes.

Warning: This post will be delving into the depths of problems with body image and the negative mental state that accompanies them. Please proceed with caution if this is a triggering topic for you. Much love xx.

A year ago today, I stood in front of my mirror and took the first photo. I looked at myself, completely ashamed of what I’ve let myself become, embarrassed by how much weight I’ve let myself gain, and disappointed by the fact that I was letting the ‘haters’ win by hating myself in that moment. I swiveled around on my feet to take pictures at different angles and proceeded to agonize over how my gut spilled over the garter of my new yoga pants.

A year ago today, I vowed to myself that I would never let myself get “this bad” again. I challenged myself to get to my goal weight that would require me to lose 37 pounds. (I’m almost there!) I said, “By the time of my 21st birthday, I want to be able to wear whatever I want and be comfortable in it.”

I remember not even being able to muster the courage to send that first set of pictures to my boyfriend. They were too raw, too real. They showed pretty much everything I never wanted anyone to see: the way my stomach spilled over and protruded under the band of my pants, how my stomach fell in rolls on my sides, and the way my thighs hugged each other like inseparable newlyweds. I hated everything about those pictures.

However, something was starting to change within me.

I had taken those pictures after my third kickboxing class and although I had this overwhelming negative reaction to the images that lit my screen, another feeling was bubbling underneath. I felt energized and motivated; my negative reaction only fueled my will to make my goals a reality. I was on some form of “runner’s high” that made me need this rather than want it.

Growing up in a mostly overweight to obese family didn’t stop the inappropriate ridicule I received as a young girl. The routine of my family gatherings consisted of relatives pitting me against my sister as they glorified her beauty and subjected me to derrogatory comments such as “pig” and “hippo” or the family favorite: “big kahoona!” I’ve always been on the pudgy side while my sister remained safe from the crossfire in the lanky realm. It didn’t help that I ate everything I saw; my eyes were inherently bigger than my stomach and I was never taught the bodily cues of hunger and satiation.

Unfortunately this consistent negative commentary inhibited me from forming any reasonable level of self esteem which led to years of self harm and early stages of eating disorders.

The only way the severity of my state came to my parents’ attention was when they found the rotting lunches, that my dad worked meticulously to make each morning, hidden in an old bookbag in my closet. I remember the contorted look on his face: a mixture of disappointment, anger, but most of all hurt. I remember the guilt I felt, knowing I had hurt him. I remember the pressure in my chest as I sobbed to them, trying to explain how much I was hurting. I remember the anger masking their worry as they struggled to understand. I remember the end of that lengthy family meeting resulted in a promise to eat, one that I broke for months following. I remember thinking “I just need to hide them better” because it was working.

Or so I thought.

One toxic relationship later, I found myself in a new territory of self hatred and depreciated self worth that led to the other side of the spectrum of eating disorders: binge eating. In early high school I finally got out of that relationship and found myself hiding from the resulting trauma in my food. If I felt anything negative, I would eat. Then, cue the typical high school drama where anyone who deviated from “perfect” was ridiculed. I was far from perfect. I was preyed on because of my lack of confidence and my lack of confidence was rooted in this unhealthy relationship with food. After every comment, I’d vow to stop eating again and that would go on for weeks until I’d break down and eat again. It became a viscous cycle.

It took years of battling my inner turmoil, my hatred for myself, and my poor relationship with food to get to the moment in that first photo; the moment where I despised how my fat distribution fell, where I struggled to find anything lovable in myself. But that moment was the exact moment where I told myself that this was in MY control. There were things I hated, but these were things I could change. That exact moment was when my mind chucked the “I wish” and reeled in the “I will”.

Today marks a year since that moment. It’s been a perilous year of crying to my boyfriend about plateauing once again and how I’d never lose it all because I was “destined to be fat”. But this year also had victorious moments where my confidence levels were so unreal, I couldn’t recognize myself. This year, I’ve made such a strong bond with my body as it proved to me time and time again how strong it really is, and not only from withstanding the beatings I gave it in the past. I’ve learned so much about how working out can help with my overall mental health. I was able to extinguish so many moments of despair, stress, and anger with a 20 minute workout!

Today marks a day of victory, change, and progress. I’m elated to express that my mental health is in the best place it’s ever been. I’m not as close to my goal “body” as I’d like to be, but I sure am proud of myself for all the hard work, literal sweat, and streams of tears that brought me to where I am today.

The mental health of a college student

As you may, or may not know, I am currently in the process of earning my bachelors of science in nursing at William Paterson University. I’m in the last semester of my second year out of four. (I know, totally a mouthful to say, but I do anything to make it seem like there isn’t much left.) But basically, I’m almost done. After this semester, though, is the real tough stuff: clinicals, nursing classes, and the NCLEX! It’s all so intimidating to think that what I think is overwhelming in Advanced Anatomy and Physiology will be light work in retrospect once I enter the next stage of nursing school.

With that said, what am I, along with my many fellow peers, supposed to do to protect the last bits of our mental stability? Hopefully none of us are as strung out to say that we don’t have much left, but how can we prevent it from getting that far?

I’ve spent my share of nights crying to my boyfriend about how much I hate nursing school, how I don’t want to go through this torture just to realize I learned nothing useful about the actual practice. Many of these nights, we were able to talk me out of my momentary slump and get me back on my plan of reading chapter 22 of Tortora, but some nights, I would cry until I didn’t have any tears left to spare. The pressure of needing to be good enough for my high standards by earning A’s in all my classes as well as the imbalance of hustle and relaxation brought me to a very dark place in the beginning of my college journey.

It wasn’t until recently that I really looked into myself and said “that’s enough”. I wish I had done it sooner.

I’ve spent a majority of the past month pining over Tortora and Porth’s Pathology, reading and rereading the text while taking an endless amount of notes. Each night, my warm cup of peach tea cooled beside me as I checked off my to do list of chapters read. My planner filled with a multitude of tasks sat like a drill sergeant, making sure that I compiled my notes from the text with my class notes into a forty page pile of loose leaf and post-its. Conversely, my laptop took another approach to motivation and cheered me on by playing soft tunes as I hunched over a yellow legal pad, handwriting my answers to the study guide. The printer agreed and whistled words of affirmation when I asked it to print my five pages of EKG strips to learn.

Today’s the day of my exam and I’m glad to say I don’t feel particularly stressed. I woke up around seven o’clock to review while I ate breakfast and even took a break to play animal crossing on my phone.

Life is about balance.

I know I’ve worked relentlessly for the past few weeks, and at this point, I know what I know. Hopefully it’s enough!

There is no straight answer to the question about student mental health because everyone is different. What’s worked for me is staying on track with the lessons and compiling my notes. Knowing that I’m on track has helped reduce that drowning feeling that many students fall victim to. Additionally, I’ve tweaked my night and morning routine. I’ve been trying to wake up earlier instead of staying up through the night to study. Each morning, I’ll make my bed and get the day started, whether it be a small workout or getting a head start with breakfast. As a result, I feel more relaxed getting back to work instead of tense and irritable after staying up all night.

The most important thing to remember is that life demands balance. If you don’t lean into this necessity, your body will force you into it. Let yourself fall into that space of harmony between work and play; I promise you will see a difference in your productivity!

Thinking Traps

In my relationship with S, I’ve fallen into many of what we call “hypotheticals”: the rabbit hole of morbid possibilities.

I always thought it was a problem with how my mind was programmed. I believed that I had something inherently wrong with myself that I had to fix before I could be in a healthy, functioning relationship.

Today, I learned that I’m not crazy and some psychologists have deemed these instances as “thinking traps”.

One example of a thinking trap is black and white thinking.

Boy, do I do this. It’s easy to fall into, especially when it comes to an intimate relationship that requires you to give the responsibility of protecting your heart to someone else. Terrifying.

He’s planning on pursuing a career in acting while I’m working on my nursing degree before I fully dive into writing. Given this, the most common trend of thought is “there’s no way I could fit into your future, so we should break up” or “well, if you get a role that’s romantically intensive with someone else, I’m too jealous to handle that, we should break up” then the grand finale of “this mindset I have will be a hindrance to your success, we need to break up”.

He would always ask why my mind goes to such extreme measures for something that we could work on, together. I had never heard of that. To me, a relationship is a silk garnment; smooth perfection until tarnished irreparable by a nick of the slightest degree. So we can’t possibly be together, and I can’t possibly be happy, if I continue to be plagued by all these insecurities about our future.

What I’m learning is the key to taking back control of your mind is not in diminishing these negative thoughts. Instead, focus should be placed on realizing they’re natural and remembering that we have a promise to work on our relationship, no matter what life shall bring. I shouldn’t force these thoughts out of my mind, but I should realize that they are hypothetical situations I’ve made up. Things that haven’t happened and, in some cases, things that may never happen. The best solution is to remember our promise and trust that we will both keep it.

I’m glad to say that acknowledging these thoughts as normal instead of writing myself off as crazy and trying to suppress them, has proven to be quite beneficial. We are able to talk about my feelings without it exploding into an argument as I spiral through an emotional rollercoaster.

I’m lucky that he’s been so patient with me these past two years and I’m excited to see the growth we will achieve as a couple.

It’s interesting to see how much we’ve flourished in the past weeks as I’ve decided to dedicate more time on working on myself. More on my journey to a better mental space to come!

For more about thinking traps, check out the Savvy Psychologist Podcast on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts! 🙂

The Bliss of Possibilities: a writer’s diary – writer’s block edition.

How comedic the past hour has been. 10:15pm, I finally slam my anatomy textbook shut and proceed to delve into a short story idea I’ve had brewing for years. I typed to my hearts discontent. With every word added, I deleted ten.

First, I formed the plot to encircle a middle aged woman and her lost husband. She was struggling to pay her rent, but she decided to visit the flower shop on her way home and becomes entranced by the roses. They were the exact roses that her late husband would come home with before he was drafted. He would somehow find a way to send them every week and she grew to expect them. Until they didn’t come. She comes to find out this was the exact shop her husband went to every week. He had asked the owner to continue to send her the flowers when he was away.

Then this couple morphed into a young college student scrounging to get by. She has a dollar in her bank account that can barely get her enough ramen for the night, yet she was captivated by the beauty of the roses. The cute worker: beard, blue eyes, black rimmed glasses, walks up to her, reading her defeated demeanor, offers her the flower “on him”. Thus, sparking a budding romance

THEN. yet again, the characters molded into the same young lady but with an old man. He calls her by a name that isn’t hers and talks to her with an air of familiarity. He offers her the rose and she asks him why he thinks shes “Delilah” as he addressed her. He looks confused and looks at her closer. He begins to laugh a hearty laugh until tears well in his eyes and he is overcome with sobs. “Why, you look just like my Delilah. Sometimes my silly old brain forgets I’m not as young as I was and she’s been gone four years.”

See, the bliss of possibilities is more like a morbid curse. My mind runs maniacally with ideas, yet they fall short of becoming stories.

Maybe the idea was stale. I remember thinking of this story on a drive home from New York maybe two years ago. I thought of the sadness of poverty and longing for a better life after loss. But the reason I struggled was because I don’t know this character or where they came from.

Having a clear pathway to your plot is imperative before writing a story, whether it be short or a whole novel. You must know where you are going.

I clearly don’t.

This is almost embarrassing to document, given my aim as an aspiring writer. But, let it be an example; a lesson where I see that skipping over the fundamentals leads to…well, leads to whatever this is.

 

Reflections (2-16-2020): three years later.

One thousand and ninety five days, approximately. Thirty six months. Here I am to start again. The hiatuses are over.

What have I become in these three years?

Rusty, yes. As I write perched upon my bed, the words come to me fragmented, like a fountain with a coin jammed in the waterway. I feel as if my hiatus from creative reflection has dulled my “expertise” into anything but that.

Discouraging as that may be, I have to awaken the part of my soul that ignites my flame.

 

I do believe that I have come to peace with many things that once plagued my mind. G, J, are distant characters replaced by the promising S who has resided in my life for the past (almost!) two years. Reading my past posts, I knew it would have been unfathomable to me in my post G era to see how happy I am now. How content I am with the love I share with S.

However, that contentedness has not always been so. More on that another time.

 

The fact that I feel so distant from my former self offered me the idea of starting over completely, forgetting this page ever existed, and burying it in the depths of the inter-web space.  But this journey, though skewed far from the truth with rose colored glasses and then with the taint of despair, is mine.

I wondered if the name ‘aporcryphallyme’ still remains relevant. It does.

Today, I’m in my second year of a four year program for nursing school. I’m succeeding, getting the scores I work hard for. But in the plight of that success, I lost sight of my true endeavor. I plunged myself headstrong into a career I cannot find my fire in at the expense of leaving my passion for writing in the dirt.

Now, I come to brush off the dust and mend the gashing wounds. Life is about balance, after all. Although I feel I have come much closer to finding that harmony, how could I ever come close while leaving my truth behind?

 

That’s a wrap on the sap-show, this is the dawn of a new era.

-chellbun