How I Feel About: Frozen

So it’s 2017, and Disney’s Frozen is still one of the most popular Disney movies right now.

Frozen came out in theaters while my family was on a trip to Disneyland for Thanksgiving in 2013. Overnight, all the little girls were wearing Frozen gear, it was kinda cool. I didn’t want to get into the hype, because I prided myself on not going to a movie theater for a few years at that point, but I heard so much good stuff about it that I went to see Frozen in January 2014. I liked it, a story about sisters, no prince came in to save the day, etc. I admit, I played “Let It Go” on repeat for quite a while, but within a few months I was starting to be over Frozen. I would listen to “Let It Go” every now and then because for some reason, I loved that song.

Anyways, the next year Big Hero 6 came out and became one of my favorites because it mentions (not directly) mental health and Baymax became a loved character quickly. Big Hero 6 and the Pirates of the Caribbean series were added to Tangled in the list of movies I wanted to watch when I had a bad day, usually being depressed and stressed out about school.

Every now and then I would want to watch Frozen, like once a year, and when we were at Disneyland this summer we saw the Frozen live at the Hyperion twice because I love musicals and theater. Since then, I have found myself wanting to listen to Frozen more and more, sometimes listening to the soundtrack on repeat as I do my homework and I believe I know why.

It has been theorized that Elsa is characterized in a way that is reflective of depression. And I see it. I see the loneliness and wanting to be left alone, feeling that you are bad for others. I had read about this theory not long after seeing Frozen the first time.

Now, I see myself in both Anna and Elsa. When I am depressed, or even just a little down, “Let It Go” or “Life’s Too Short” (A song that was deleted from the movie) are what I want to listen to on repeat. Even on good days, “Let It Go” and the rest of the movie soundtrack are songs I like to listen to because “Let It Go” makes me feel empowered when I am not depressed, and I also feel that I have a lot of quirks like Anna does when I am happy and carefree. I see myself in both of these characters at times, and feel that the emotions the characters express in the movie are portrayed in a way that makes these characters so relatable.

Yes, I like Frozen. Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I have mental illness. Yes, I am a Disney kid.

And you know what, I feel that being raised with Disney movies with their fairytale stories, awesome messages (especially the newer generation of Disney), and relatable characters is what makes Disney something that helps me to cope with some of my hardest days. It doesn’t make you overthink, the music is ridiculously hard not to sing along to, and if all else fails I can watch it absentmindedly and still keep the bad thoughts away. Disney is one of my coping mechanisms and will always be a source of magic for me.

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Stressed Without Realizing

So I have been under a lot of stress lately. Some of the reasons I was able to identify off the top f my head, but I am afraid that there are some that I’m still unaware of.

To start us off, I got a terrible cold last week, like I thought it was just allergies or something, but I got major sinus inflammation and a terrible cough. My head feels better, but the cough is lingering.

Second, it is week 10. I had my big paper due last week, but still have smaller papers and assignments due this week. AND THEN WE HAVE FINALS. Honestly, I am not to (consciously) stressed about finals because I have been doing well in all my classes so far this quarter and will hopefully do well enough on my finals to keep my current grades. I’m in my senior year, finals are usually not that bad.

Third, it is winter holiday season, for me that means Christmas. I am not stressed about the actual holidays because we spend Christmas Eve at one aunt’s house and Christmas day with the other this year, so no hosting for us. But this will be the first Christmas without my maternal grandfather and even though he passed almost ten months ago I still really miss him. I’ve been missing him a lot more lately and I think it might be cause the holidays are coming up.

Fourth, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a thing that happens to me, and lots of others, and this is my first year since before my diagnoses that I am going through the holidays without medications. I am just really down, especially at night, and I want to cry. Singing in the shower helps with this temporarily.

Fifth, my mom has another business trip when I go back to school in January. Might be stressed about that, might not, can’t tell, but certainly wouldn’t be surprised if I am already stressed about that because my brain does that kind of stuff all the time.

Six, I officially started my grad school application today. It’s terrifying because this can determine what I do with my life for the year after my graduation. I am applying to the program at my current college because it is one of the best. I have all the prerequisites finished and my GPA is higher than they want, but it’s still scary.

These are just the ones off the top of my head. I could probably think of three or four more, but I don’t really want to. Currently I am trying to get into aromatherapy and got a little diffuser for my room. I like peppermint, but I tend to lean towards lavender more.

If any of you have tips with how you deal with stress, please let me know.

 

 

Never Supporting

As many of you know, I am always talking about how thankful I am for the people who have supported me as I learn about myself and my mental illnesses and now, how to deal with them without medication. But I am sad to say that there is one person in my life who has rarely supported me in this area. If anything, this person has made it harder for me to progress at almost every step of the way.

Whenever I mention that I cannot do something because my mental illnesses  (usually anxiety) won’t let me, or are talking about some of my mannerisms that I have as ways to cope, they always rub it in my face that they have mental illnesses too. The catch is, they were never formally diagnosed, refuse to see a doctor for formal diagnosis, and refuse even the idea of taking medication.

I had no choice. I was brought to a doctor, received several formal diagnoses within the span of a year, and was put on medication with my parents’ consent because I was a minor. I had no say in any of this.

This person always does this sort of shit to me, they always rub it in my face that they have these illnesses too, “and they might be worse than yours” kinda shit. You know what, you chose to not do the conventional diagnosis and treatment route. I had no choice and now when I go to verbalize it to others, my journey, everything I’ve been through, what it feels like to me, you bring me down. The only thing you supported me in was the choice to be off medication. You “like me better off medication”, but when I have bad days, especially at the beginning, you would yell at me and when I would say I’m still working on managing on my own, you would tear me down again and wonder why I would be yelling and crying. I needed your support, but I never got it.

Even though I am doing better now, you still never support me. You never show any sort of support on my social media posts about my progress, never even mention that you saw them to me, as if my mental health doesn’t matter to you at all. And it hurts me, because for some damn reason, even though I have a bunch of people supporting me, I am still trying to get your support too.

10 Years Strong

It’s finally November, and this month will mark that officially ten years have passed since I was diagnosed with moderate depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I have gone through so many things in the past ten years, and I am proud to say that I have accomplished things that I hadn’t even though about when I was eleven years old. Of course, there have been many challenges along the way, but I keep making progress.

Everyday is a different experience for me and every year has brought new challenges with it.

I went from middle school to high school to college trying to find out what medications worked for me, only to advocate for myself and decide to go medication free. At the end of this month, it will be six months that I have been off antidepressants. I have been struggling with my anxiety lately because it is now midterms season and I hope that I can find a solution that works for me without going back on medications.

I hid my diagnoses for a while and though I started to tell people within the first year, it really wasn’t until I took AP Psychology my senior year of high school that I started to feel that I was more than my diagnoses. College also proved to be a place where I can advocate mental health awareness and share my experiences with others freely without fear of them judging me. After all, mental health affects 1 in every 5 people and many young adults are diagnosed during college.

I am thriving in college after a particularly stressful transition. My first quarter I had felt overwhelmed with my classes, commuting to school, and feeling alone on campus for much of the day. I made my first friend, a fellow freshman, in my Exercise Walking class that first quarter. By my second quarter, I realized that my major was not the one for me and started working to change it, which is how I met yet another amazing friend who I have shared several classes with over the years. In the past year alone, I have joined a great group on my campus where we talk about topics such as mindfulness, self-care, and balancing academics with other parts of our lives, all things that I am still trying to work on. I have met several amazing people who I can relate to and I feel comfortable sharing my story with that are always willing to listen.

I have learned to find my voice and share my experiences with others. I am thankful to everyone who has been there and helped me, especially those who have made big impacts in my life by supporting me throughout these past ten years. Because of you, I become more confident in myself and my abilities. I have been working hard to do my best despite my diagnoses for the past ten years and you have helped make me stronger.

 

It’s Not Like That

I am sure many of you who read my blog are familiar with the misconceptions about depression and anxiety that are seen throughout pretty much everything. I don’t think that there is a perfect perception of mental illnesses, but even as more accurate portrayals are being made in media, the misconceptions stick around.

Some of the worst misconceptions are:

  1. “It’s all in your head.”
  2. “Just get over it.”
  3. “You’re doing this to yourself.”

To which my responses at this moment are:

  1. Exactly. So how do you expect me to be able to get better? Especially with people like you telling me things I already know.
  2. I’m just trying to cope with it right now. How do you expect me to “get over” a chemical imbalance in my brain that is highly likely genetic and that can cause me to be unable to verbalize what I am feeling?
  3.  Yeah, sometimes I am nervous and send myself into a full blown anxiety/depression/panic attack. Sometimes I am having a great day and my brain picks something to be anxious about from my subconscious. I don’t always know what is causing me to panic or feel anxious nor do I know when an attack may start or how long it will last.

I know that not everyone diagnosed with depression has it forever. Some people have it for just a few months and it never comes back. Others have it for a few months, but it may pop up a few times a year. Some people, like me, deal with it on a nearly daily basis. I think that I feel a little depressed almost every single day.

Anxiety on the other hand is something more people are familiar with in my opinion. A moment of panic before a test or presentation. A fear of some sort that just thinking about can make your heart beat faster.

I have grown used to the fluctuations of my heart in response to my anxiety. Part of he reason I indulged and bought myself a Fitbit last year was to monitor my heart rate. I’ve seen it spike as I get anxious and I watched how my Nonno’s death, which came suddenly and months before we expected, caused my resting heart rate to hover around 89 beats per minute and take weeks to return to normal. My heart rate during the was 129 bpm from the moment we found out and this lasted for about a week. My body was in a constant state of arousal from shock and grief and it took its toll on my body. I was stressed out and upset.

Dealing with grief, depression, and anxiety was, and is, really hard. I muddled through my schoolwork that quarter and still made the Dean’s list. I honestly have no idea how I pulled that off. Maybe it’s because I have been doing well in school despite my anxiety and depression for years or maybe it’s because the grief was the worst when I was trying to fall asleep at night. My nonno has been gone for eight months already, but I find myself thinking about him every few days, sometimes the memories are welcome, but other times they make it hurt all over again.

I am learning how my body responds to stress and lack of sleep and anxiety. I am learning to cope with my mental illnesses and not let them control me. I am learning who I am and I know that those common perceptions about mental illness are not what everyone experiences. I know my experiences haven’t been typical, and I feel a lot of people with mental illnesses feel that way, like “Yeah, I feel that way sometimes, but other times I feel ….”.

My advice to you is to embrace your life despite your mental illnesses, learn how your body responds to different stressors and how you can try to reduce or control these responses. Find who you are and embrace your true self.

I am different. I have trouble socializing with new people. I like glitter and books and cats and blankets and the beach and hammock and music. I like to sing even though I don’t sing well and I can’t really dance, but that is completely OK. I can be sassy and snarky and sometimes funny. I get attached to people who make me feel good and I believe in looking at the best in people. I am working on practicing mindfulness and being a better person. I am me, and I am learning to love myself.

Back to School

It’s back to school for me. Yesterday was the first day of the eleven weeks that will become my Fall Quarter. Now that the back-to-school anxiety has decreased, it is time to get back to work. My professors all seem nice, but this will definitely be a reading heavy quarter. I hope to keep updating this blog, hopefully on a more regular basis, but we will see how it goes.

I am starting to get used to getting up earlier in the morning and know that if I keep at it waking up early should become a habit. I am also trying to get back into the habit of get home, chill for a bit and then get down to work.  I hate working on schoolwork when everybody is home if I can help it, so I try to get as much done before dinner as I can. I also hope to get back into working on CBT because I could not commit to it over the summer easily, because it wants me to fill out my daily schedule and rank importance and enjoyment of what I have done. This was hard to do over the summer because I had no set schedule.

One thing I am excited about this quarter is that I get to be a part of “The Happiness Project”, which is a group on my campus that promotes self-care, mindfulness, meditation, and other mental health promoting things. I was a part of this group when it was an unofficial club for two quarters and definitely missed it over the summer. The group was originally based upon the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I am excited to see where this new school year takes us.

That’s it for now.

~Star Crossed Daydreamer

Any Advice?

So when I get anxious, I quickly move from anxious to depressed to wanting to cry. Does anyone have any advice as to how you stop this type of downward cycle?

I went through this same cycle often when I was on medications, so I am familiar with it, but I don’t like having my anxiety control me in this way.