Update: August 22nd, 2017

Hey everybody!

So its been pretty quiet on my blog lately because the past few weeks have been pretty hectic. From my mom going to Las Vegas for work, to taking the CSET Multiple Subjects exam (all 3 subsections), to a vacation that seemed much too short.

Having my mom go to Las Vegas was hard for me because even though it was just for 2 days, she is the base of my support system. I had to find something to distract me from missing her, especially on the first morning. I turned to books, and that helped immensely. Overall, I realized that I was fine on my own, even though I did miss her at times.

I was not worried about studying for the CSET until it was almost too late to start. I looked at what I would need to know two days before the exam. I took a practice test and panicked because even though it helped me get a feel for the format, the questions were written by random people. I downloaded a study guide and spent the day before the test reading my way through it. I also got to see my Aunt the day before the test. She had taken the CSET Multiple Subjects after being out of college for 2 years. She only had to retake one of the three subtests. I took my CSET Multiple Subjest exam, all three subtests, about two weeks ago and I have to wait a few more weeks before my results for two of the subtests to come in. The last subtest had recently been changed, so I will have to wait even longer for the results of that test to come in because they have to first decide what a passing score will be.

Vacation was amazing, but still way too short. We have been planning this trip for quite a while, because it would be late enough into the summer that my sister and I wouldn’t be in school yet, but a majority of primary schools would be. We drove down to Southern California, went to the beach on the first day, and then spent four amazing days in Disneyland. I have always loved Disneyland, and have been lucky to go every few years. Though the magic has begun to wear off as I get older, there are still some things that make the whole trip worth it. My favorite thing by far is the shows. We saw Fantasmic, the Main Street Electrical Parade before it was being sent back to Walt Disney World on August 20th (it was just brought back to Disneyland for the summer), World of Color, and Frozen Live (twice). The shows were all very magical and totally worth standing in line for fastpasses or standing spots. Sadly, we didn’t realize that there were other shows until it was our last day there and the shows had already finished, but now we have something to look forward to next time. The next most magical thing was seeing the little kids and how excited they were for everything. Seeing them experience the magic made the trip all the more magical for me, and I look forward to one day bringing my own kid(s) to experience the magic. Then was the magic of the rides, which while they have lost their thrill, bring back an air of nostalgia for me, because I remember what they were like when I rode them for the first time. The entire trip was worth it and while I got a blister and some sunburn (sunscreen made me burn worse), I enjoyed the trip and just wished my sister had allowed us to take it a little slower, but alas she wants to be either on rides or in line for rides practically every waking moment. Overall, the trip was just what we needed.

So that is what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks. Plus some reading. And I start an internship in a 5th grade classroom for one of my classes tomorrow. I have a couple more weeks before I go back to school, but I can truthfully say that I am looking forward to going back to school.

Grief

On August 21, 2016, my paternal Nonno passed away at 86 years old. His health had been declining for several years and he had had many health scares in that time. On August 1st he had been placed on hospice and we were told that he might pass in a few months or as soon as a few days. In one of my classes that I had just completed the previous quarter, Adulthood and Aging, my professor told us that most people are on hospice for less than two months. The last time I saw him was on August 14th, and I could tell that despite being surrounded by his entire family, he was not present mentally. By August 19th, we were told that he was declining faster than expected and he might live one more week. My dad got a call from my Zia very early in the morning on August 21st that my grandfather was extremely irritable and that she was going to bring him to the hospital. My dad left immediately to go be with his dad. He passed that morning surrounded by his wife and kids. We had been running errands and immediately went to go spend time with our Nonna. I was instructed to try not to show how upset I was because everyone was afraid that my crying would make Nonna more upset. She seemed a little sad, but otherwise fine. She told me not to be sad because he wasn’t hurting anymore, but I felt as if someone had ripped a hole in my heart and couldn’t help crying.

Nonno was the first person in my immediate family that I had lost. And while I knew that he wasn’t in pain anymore, losing him was very hard on me. I had been having anxiety attacks for weeks before he passed because even though I have always known it was going to happen, I had never lost anybody that was such a huge part of my life growing up. Not only was finding out that he had passed hard for me, but everything became much more real during the interment. We were all gathered there for the interment; his wife, both his children and their spouses, his three grandsons and their wives, his two granddaughters, and three of his five great grandchildren. We had all seen him the week before on the 14th, but little did we know then that we would be saying goodbye to him on the 25th.

It took me almost six months before the overwhelming feeling of loss had begun to subside. Christmas had been hard on all of us, but me, my mom, and my sister had some special gifts in mind. After Nonno had passed, we had taken three shirts from his closet and his engraved set of poker chips. He had always worn plaid button ups and we turned these shirts into remembrance pillows. I have one, my sister has one, and my Nonna has one that she has since placed on his side of the bed. With the poker chips, we created a keychain for every single person in the family. Each generation got a different color and my grandmother got one with all three colors. The person who appreciated the keychain most was my three year old cousin. We have been told that he carries that poker chip around with him all the time and whenever he goes to my Nonna’s house (his great grandparents) he still goes around searching for our Nonno. He understands that Nonno went to heaven, but he doesn’t yet realize that Nonno is not coming back. School helped me from being upset during the day and gave me something to think about besides how much I missed my Nonno, but at night the raw feelings made their way to the surface. Eventually, I found myself thinking about him without breaking into tears, but it is still hard sometimes. I still miss him.

As my grief was starting to decline, my maternal Nonno’s health started to decline as did the health of my paternal Nonna. (Sorry if things start to get confusing. I am Italian on both sides of my family, so growing up I have two Nonnos and two Nonnas.) They both went to the hospital in November, and we were worried about both of them. Our weekends consisted of traveling two hours to see my maternal Nonno and Nonna and then on the drive home stopping to visit my paternal Nonna. I was worried that one of them would pass on November 21st, the day that marked three months since my paternal Nonno had passed. By November 21st, both my nonni had their health improve. As the new year started my paternal Nonna was seeing her health remain consistent, while my maternal Nonno began to decline more rapidly.

It had started with weakness in his legs and a loss of appetite and in February, my maternal Nonno had begun to fall more frequently and his kidneys were starting to shut down. If he did dialysis, his kidneys might get better, but it would make his heart worse. We were hoping that he would make it to the end of March, until spring break, but he was declining rapidly and was put on hospice before Valentine’s day. As February 21st came closer, I had a feeling that my Nonno would pass on that Monday (February 21st was a Tuesday, I had figured it out wrong, but I had a feeling my maternal Nonno would pass exactly six months after my paternal Nonno did). Almost every week in January and February, my parents went to go see him and me and my sister tagged along if we didn’t have too much homework. We saw him for the last time on February 19th, and while we were in the car my Zia called to tell us he hit his head early in the morning. We saw him and helped him bandage his head until someone from hospice came to check on him and talk to us. She was saying that he might have internal bleeding from hitting his head and that he might pass in a few days if there was indeed internal bleeding. I had to go take a walk to the park nearby because hearing the hospice worker talk about the possible timeline of the rest of his life was reopening the hole in my heart that had almost healed.

On February 20th, 2017 at just past 1 pm, we got a call from my cousin that my maternal Nonno had passed. He was 89 and 3/4 years old. I couldn’t believe it for we had just seen him the day before, just about 24 hours had passed since we had left. We were torn between driving going to be with my maternal Nonna and staying home. I didn’t want to go, but my family knew that they also couldn’t leave me home. Both me and my sister were taking his passing very hard. I went for my Nonna and my mom. My Nonna was angry that he didn’t say goodbye, while the rest of us were still in a bit of shock. On February 24th, we held the funeral. We had a private interment and again I found that the hardest part. We were all their, our tiny family; his wife, his two daughters and their husbands, and his four grandchildren. We used the flowers from the arrangements we had ordered to place at his plaque, my great grandparents plaque, and the plaque of my cousins’ other Nonna.

I still miss my Nonno greatly. School was a distraction, but I feel that it prevented me from grieving early on. It wasn’t until summer started that I finally felt allowed to properly grieve him. It was hard on his birthday in May because I kept thinking how he would have been 90 years old and how even though he had been saying he was 90 practically since he had turned 89, he would have been able to say it and we wouldn’t have been able to correct him. I find that I still think about him a lot and when we go to visit my maternal Nonna every few weeks I still expect to see him there about half the time.

Though we have not created any remembrance things for my maternal Nonno, we picked out some of his shirts to make pillows.

This past year my family lost two great men. My Nonnas are learning to live independently after being married for 62 and 54 years (paternal Nonna and maternal Nonna respectively). I still find it hard to think about them without crying, and visiting my Nonnas makes it harder. Whenever I visit either of them, it hurts all over again. They still both live in their homes, and it is so weird to be at their houses. It makes my heart ache all over again and sometimes I dread visiting. I know that my Nonnas like to see me and my sister. I always go even though it is hard for me because they lost someone who was much more important. Between visits it is a little easier for me, but when I am at their homes there is so much to remind me of my Nonnos. The photos are the hardest for me to look at because while they captured good memories, it just acts as another reminder that they are gone now. I can usually hold myself together while I am there, but once we are in the car I find it becomes harder to keep the tears at bay and I tend to be more moody/irritable as well. I still try to hide it because I don’t want my anyone to see how upset I still am about their passings. I feel that my maternal Nonno’s passing was harder because it was more unexpected.

I feel that the interments were almost as difficult as hearing about their passings because until then, I do not remember seeing my Nonnas cry. Having the whole family there made it a little better. After both interments, we went to have dinner before we left. After my paternal Nonno’s funeral, we went to a restaurant and then to see my maternal nonni until traffic let up. After my maternal Nonno’s funeral, the whole family went to Nonna’s house and ate dinner and have some drinks and just spend time with each other  and tell stories about our Nonno until we had to go home. I feel that this was the right way to spend the night, remembering my maternal Nonno and being with my Nonna when she needed us.

When it was time to go home I felt a sense of sadness, not because I was upset about their passings, but because I felt like we were leaving them behind. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have them around.

There are somethings that I find provide me with some relief from the sadness.

  • Both my Nonnos got to see all their grandchildren graduate high school.
  • Both my Nonnos got to see all their grandchildren become adults. (My sister was the youngest of all the grandchildren and had just turned 18.)
  • Both my Nonnas have family nearby to help them.
  • I have so many good memories to remember them by.
  • They are watching over us now. (We have even more guardian angels!)

Hard Days

Those days where you wake up and just feel off.

Today it felt as if there was something missing inside me, maybe the happy part, maybe I used it all up when my sister’s friends were over and I had to pretend that I enjoyed being stuck hosting a large group of people. The sadness usually presents in this way or as a numb sort of feeling. Eat breakfast, but not really enjoy it. Browse social media, but nothing seems to hold any meaning.

Distraction. Find something to do to keep my mind off the strange off feeling. Book. I’m about a third of the way through the book. Focus on the characters, the adventures, plot twists that are predictable and those that surprise me.

Lunch. Again, not very satisfying, but I enjoy it enough.

Back to reading. Dedicated to this strange book now. Want to see how it ends.

Finish the book. It ended good. It was worth reading even though it was kinda long.

Go outside with my sister and her puppy. Some of the other dog owners are there. The fresh air is good. Makes me feel content.

Come home, make dinner, eat.

Feel sad again, even as we run errands. Just feeling hopeless overall.

Get home and just feel sad. Wonder if my anxiety medication was actually helping and I didn’t realize. It seems that this is likely. Gonna try taking it for a little while.

Puppy comes to cuddle with me. Don’t feel alone right now.

Blog about it. Feel a little better.


I don’t know if you guys know how much sharing these things actually helps me. Today had been really hard, hence the several hours of reading. Like 6 hours of reading. I want everyone who reads to know that you are not alone, no matter how alone you feel.

Perception

So you know how everyone perceives things differently?

Something that drives me crazy is when people only focus on what they feel are flaws.

I know this girl who is beautiful. She is just over 5′ 6″, 145 lbs, and wears a size 4. Yet all she ever does is complain about her body. She has curves, but isn’t super curvy. She has a little bit of tummy chub, but who doesn’t? She always complains she has no clothes that fit her right, but when we go shopping she is so super critical that she either buys nothing or gets something and has a high chance of returning it later. She looks good in almost anything, and I tell her this, but she only sees the flaws. She complains that she is getting fat, but thankfully she doesn’t skip meals. She also doesn’t get as much exercise as she used to, but that just means she is a little less toned. She doesn’t want to workout alone, but she doesn’t take into consideration that I like to workout differently than she does. She did three years of dance in high school, which included cardio, squats, crunches, and so many other exercises.

I am just under 5′ 7″, weighed 203 at my highest, and wear a 14 or 16. My belly isn’t flat, it has chub. I have curves, more curves than her, but am still not super curvy. To find clothes that fit me, I have to either resort to plus sizes to find clothes that are cute, but actually flatter my body. It is hard for me to find clothes that look good because anything that has a tight waistband or is too tight over my stomach makes me look pregnant. I have full thighs and a belly. Though I get a little down when I see cute things that don’t fit, I take it as a sign that I am not meant to get it. Finding things that fit and flatter my body is hard, but I have tiny victories when shopping at stores. I have a good amount of clothes that I feel amazing in and some that are just comfy. I have exercise induced asthma, so working out is hard for me. I like to take long walks when the weather is nice and I am working on making better food choices now that my appetite has decreased after getting off my antidepressants. This method works for me and I have lost 10 lbs in a few months by just being mindful of what I eat, with no change in my exercise habits.I have been self conscious about my weight in the past. A relative called me fat when I was only 8. When I started antidepressants, I lost a little weight at first, but I gained almost 90 lbs in 9 years.  I now know that most of this weight gain was caused by my constantly being hungry on the antidepressants, and hope that I can continue to lose a little more weight naturally. My goal is 180-185 lbs, and then to slowly get into a routine that could help me tone up a little bit.

I am pretty happy with my body now and most of the time I feel content. I just with other people could see themselves the way I see them. You have a tummy, so what? Practically everybody does. No thigh gap, no problem! Curvy, not curvy, doesn’t matter. Either learn to love your body or learn what healthy changes you can make to get closer to your goal. I know it isn’t always that straight forward, but it is a good place to start.

 

Writing Prompt Fun #4

Finally adding another character to Kenna and Dillon’s little world. Let’s see who we meet today.

Today’s Prompt: “How have you not killed him yet?”     “He pays me not to. Weekly.”


“How have you not killed him yet?,” Evelyn laughs. We are sitting in the park, catching up. I was just telling her about some of the adventures Dillon and I went on while she was traveling with her family.

“He pays me not to. Weekly,” I tease. She stops laughing.

“What? Where can I sign up?,” all traces of joking are gone. Her ice blue eyes widen, her golden brown hair getting blown in her face as the wind blows.

“Eve, I’m just kidding. Besides, I wouldn’t allow that even if he wanted to. I can’t be bought and Dillon is so much more than just a friend to me.” I recline onto the grass and stare up at the sky. There is not a cloud in sight. I feel like I’ve known Dillon forever. I know more about him than myself sometimes. I would recognize his dark brown hair and storm grey eyes anywhere. When I am with him, I feel safe, even in this chaotic world.

“Earth to Kenna.” And like that I am brought back to right now. Sitting in the park with Eve. “You were in your own world again, weren’t you?,” she stares, “Do you think that you and Dillon might be more than friends someday?” I sit up and bring my knees close to my body.

“I don’t think so Eve. I think that would make everything between us weird and I don’t want to lose his friendship. I mean, we’ve been friends for almost three years. We tell each other everything. Well, almost everything. We respect each others boundaries, but understand that sometimes boundaries have to be crossed, like when I was super depressed last school year.” I straighten out my legs and lean back, supporting myself with my arms. “He knew that even though I told him to leave me alone, that was the last thing he should do. I love him, but not romantically. More like our souls are perfect matches, but our hearts belong to other people. We might not have found who our hearts belong to yet, but we are still young. We have time,” I tell her.

Dillon. Before I realize it, my thoughts are back on Dillon and all the things that we have done together. I can’t help but smile. Evelyn notices, but keeps it to herself this time. I can envision a future where Dillon is still my best friend, but not one where we are in love. I have felt this way practically since we met. I know I should ask Dillon about it, but what if his thoughts and feelings differ from mine? What would we do then?  I push those thoughts from my mind for now. I should be present while spending time with Eve.

*************************************************************************************

Why did Eve have to ask if I think about if me and Dillon could be more than just me and Dillon? We spend a lot of time together, but that doesn’t mean we would make a good couple. And if I ask him about it, will everything between us be awkward? am suddenly very aware of what I am wearing and how I look. Before I know it, I am arguing with my reflection as if I were arguing with my brother. “Why am I doing this? Dillon is my best friend. He doesn’t care if my hair is just plain old brown instead of golden like Evelyn’s or so dark that it is almost black like his. He doesn’t care if I wear graphic tees and leggings when we hang out. Or… or.” I stare at my reflection for a moment, tears are pooling in my eyes. Why does he even like me?

“Why does who even like you?” The sound comes from behind me, and I see Dillon walk towards me in the mirror. Did I say that out loud? I quickly dry my eyes and turn toward Dillon. “Kenna, what’s going on here?” There is concern in his voice and I can see it in his eyes too. I take a step toward him and he immediately pulls me into a hug. We just stand there for a while, until I pull away.

“Nothing,” I hesitate, “Well, nothing important really. I’m just driving myself crazy like I do every now and then. Worrying about something that important, but no matter what happens it probably won’t change my life drastically. Or at least I hope it wouldn’t.” I turn back to the mirror. I feel small, weak, and insecure. He steps closer and hugs me from behind.

He whispers into my ear, “You still didn’t answer the ‘who’ part of the question?”. He rests his chin on my shoulder. I make my eyes meet his in the mirror.

“You.” I can’t look at his face any longer, I stare at the border of the mirror instead, and when I speak my voice is quiet, “How much of that did you hear anyways?”.

“Just something about graphic tees. Wait, why I you wondering why I like you? You are my best friend, Kenna, a major part of my life, someone I love. You make my life whole.”

“That’s it. That’s what all of this started with,” I hear the sadness in my voice despite my best efforts to hide it. I turn back toward Dillon and his arms fall to his side as I continue, my words coming faster now, “I was afraid that you love me, but not in the same way I love you. And if Evelyn hadn’t asked me if I thought we, you and me, could be more than friends, then I wouldn’t have been worrying about it all day and you wouldn’t have known that I am worried that if you wanted us to be in a relationship that made us more than friends, that I would have to say no, and possibly ruin the friendship and… and I don’t want to lose you Dillon.” I move to sit on the edge of my bed and busy myself fiddling with the edge of my comforter. Dillon sits down, leaving several inches of space between us. Great, he is keeping his distance now, Way to go Kenna.

“Kenna,” he hesitates, “You could have asked me how I felt. I would have told you that I love you. I love you as a friend. I love you in my life. I love hanging out with you because around you I feel like I can be myself. I love you, but not the way you were expecting.” He laughs, and I instinctively turn to look at him. He’s smiling when he continues, “I love you with all my heart, but I don’t want to turn this into a relationship either. I am happy to just be in your life and share lots of amazing memories with you. And I hope that we both find love one day, and who knows maybe you will get married or have kids one day, or maybe I’ll get married and have kids, or maybe both of us will get married, but not to each other, or neither of us will get married, but I always felt that no matter what happens to us we would be experiencing these things as best friends. You know, the kind of best friends that are practically family. That is all I ever wanted in my relationship with you. Pure friendship.” He lays down and I do to. Everything is quiet for a moment. “Kenna, so many of my friends see how close we are, and they wish they had a relationship like ours. We have one of the purest, most natural relationships I have ever seen, and I don’t want to lose you either.” I release my breath. I hadn’t even realized that I had been holding it.

“How do you always do that?,” I say a smile spreading across my face as I turn to look at Dillon.

His eyes meet mine when he asks, “Do what?”.

“Fix everything.”

“That’s because I know you Kenna. And remember, it wasn’t always like that. The first time I tried to help, I nearly killed you with baked goods. And that is how we learned you were allergic to chestnuts.”

“That was bad, but you apologized like 500 times, so I kinda had to forgive you.”

I laugh and before I know it, all the worries I had are gone. Dillon is my best friend, and I should have been honest with him from the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety and stress. As long as I have Dillon in my life, I know that everything will be okay.

An Inspiration?

I have been told by several members of my family and some of my friends that I have inspired them. Some have been inspired by how open I am about my mental illness. Some are inspired by how passionately I talk about my experiences with mental illness. Others have told me that I am an inspiration for them to work on getting off their medication as well.

I am grateful that I could be an inspiration for them, but I still have a long way to come myself. I am off medication, which is great, but that also means that I am trying to learn to deal with my emotions on my own for the first time since diagnosis.

It means I find myself crying easier, for both good and bad things. I find myself getting irritated easily, and I tend to get upset that I let it get to me so easily.

I also find that it is often easier for me to redirect myself when I start to feel depressed and I find myself feeling better faster. I blog or listen to music or read and if the weather is nice I can go outside and take a walk.

I have realized that I have a sense of humor that has been starting to show itself lately. I can also be incredibly sassy. 🙂

I am no longer constantly overwhelmed by my depression or anxiety. I am slowly getting better at managing it. I have had more days that are neutral or good. This means I am having fewer bad days, and for once, I am starting to feel like myself.

Normal used to be that I was tired, antisocial, and depressed. I am slowly making progress. I have more energy and feel that I am starting to be more social. I am learning more about myself, my brain, and how to deal with this new “normal”.

I owe a great thank you to everyone who has supported my journey thus far and to everyone who inspired me. You have helped me make big changes and I look forward to seeing who I will become.

 

Quiet Person Seeking Quiet

If I am doing something and there is noise around me, I cannot focus. I need a quiet area, or nearly quiet, to do schoolwork and to read. If I am studying on campus, I will put in earbuds and turn on instrumental music or a movie score to drown out any noise around me. This helps most of the time. It is harder for me to avoid sensory overload at home.

It seems my sister never uses earbuds or headphones, despite having several very nice pairs, and she loves to talk. Great for her, she has things to talk about. The thing is, she will tell me a bunch of stuff when I first get home, when I just want to relax for a bit before doing homework, and then she tells our mom all the same long-winded stories when she gets home. This means I hear about everything that happens in her life, in great detail, twice. The thing is, she always decides to tell our mom these things while I’m doing homework. I usually do homework in the living room so that I am not trapped in my room all the time. I hate being trapped in my room to do homework, especially considering that my room is too small for a real desk to work at so I end up working on my bed. My sister almost never does homework in her room, so I am constantly being distracted by her talking and her music, which I can hear perfectly clear through my own earbuds and music.

During the summer is no different. I have mentioned before that I love to read, but to read and actually understand the story, I need it to be fairly quiet. Interrupt me while I am reading and I will get a little angry, especially if it is my sister trying to read things she saw on Tumblr to me. I had a tumblr, but I hated the constant stream of politics and other things I find uninteresting, so I don’t go on it anymore. Anyways, I like it to be quiet and not a lot of activity. But because my sister likes to talk, and listen to music, I have to lock myself in my room a lot if I ever want to get through a book. The only time it is even possibly quiet enough to read in the common areas of the house during the summer is if she is also reading a book or watching anime. Then later, she won’t shut up about her book/anime.

I am a quiet person. I don’t talk much, but if I have even a little bit of interest in something, I might join the conversation. I don’t care about worrying what new terrible thing is being spread through the news, or what a book I probably will never read is about, or anime. I care about the books I read, my cat, my family. Get me talking about what new changes are being made at Disneyland, or the beach, or mental illness. Ask me about me and if I feel you are genuinely interested, I will tell you what is going on in my life.

I hate small talk or hearing about things I don’t care about, but you know what, I know that there has to be someone else in the world who cares about these things that you can probably talk to. Don’t call me ignorant because I decide to not worry about things that are out of my control. I have my priorities set up in a way I like: school, family, cat, books, getting ready to apply to grad school, long term life plans. That I care about right now, plus some other short term things I am waiting for like books to be released, vacation, and movies.