Long Distance Relationships: Living Without Your Personal Therapist

Hello, interwebs! Today I am going to be talking about my experience thus far with my long distance relationship and the struggles we’ve both had along the way. Particularly, I wanted to touch upon the idea of mental illness and how you are deeply affected by the lack of your significant other.

They never said that this was going to be easy. I knew that the moment I left home we would be in an uphill battle that most people had deemed we would lose. We both were very fervent about staying together and we knew that if we worked hard that we would make it out okay. That being said, we underestimated just how difficult it would be not seeing each other every day. In High School, we were around each other constantly with allowed us to share our struggles in school with the other person as well as our mental struggles.  He was always there to stand there and hug me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.

As I’ve started the new school year in college, I was optimistic that my issues with my Anxiety wouldn’t return. I was in a place I loved, surrounded by new friends that truly care about me as well as teachers that were looking out for my well-being and the state of my mental health. At first, I was great. I was going through school like a piece of cake, everything was soaking in; until recently. School started getting tougher and I could feel my anxiety making it more difficult to learn things. Like any dedicated student, I sought out tutors and increased and diversified my studying habits. Even though I did all of these things, I wasn’t getting the results I had hoped for, which of course, allowed my Anxiety to come back in.

Besides school, I’ve always been someone who has been very conscious of my diet. Not in a way that I limit what I eat ( besides the normal trying not to drink soda and what not) I am just conscious of what I eat and try to eat the healthiest I can while still enjoying the food. Now that I am in college, I am very aware of the “freshman 15” which basically stands for Freshman gaining 15 pounds by the end of the first semester because they don’t know how to eat properly. While I was at home if I wanted something I could make it. I cooked all the time, making salads, rice bowls, fish, chicken; anything I wanted to make my body and me feel better. In college, you no longer have that luxury. I have a kitchen downstairs, but that being said, Gordon Ramsey would pass out looking at it ( not exactly built for actually making good food). Therein lies the dilemma, trying to scrounge for healthy foods inside the dining hall, or eating salads for every meal ( not fun). My point being, the lack of healthy foods leads to an anxiousness about the look of my body which in turn makes me want to go to the gym more as well as allowing that not so body positive side of my anxiety to come back.

While I was at home if I wanted something I could make it. I cooked all the time, making salads, rice bowls, fish, chicken; anything I wanted to make my body and me feel better. In college, you no longer have that luxury. I have a kitchen downstairs, but that being said, Gordon Ramsey would pass out looking at it ( not exactly built for actually making good food). Therein lies the dilemma, trying to scrounge for healthy foods inside the dining hall, or eating salads for every meal ( not fun). My point being, the lack of healthy foods leads to an anxiousness about the look of my body which in turn makes me want to go to the gym more as well as allowing that not so body positive side of my anxiety to come back.

After living through this for about a week and a half now, I’ve made some conclusions. One, even without my boyfriend to help me be less anxious and body positive I have some amazing friends that have reached out and cheered me up to make sure that I’m doing okay ( which is really refreshing). Two, I am not perfect nor am I meant to be. I think as a person with an Anxiety disorder, we want ourselves to be perfect in order to make up for the fact that we have a mental illness. However, that’s the point right there – we don’t have to make up for the fact that we have a mental illness- It’s something that is apart of us and we have to accept it and learn to love it like the rest of ourselves. We also have to remind ourselves that we are human and we are not meant to be perfect, it’s just not how we were made. Lastly, the fact that I am communicating with my boyfriend about these struggles and he is too only makes the idea that we really do need each other to survive more prevalent. I know most people would say that is a bad thing but, I’d have to disagree.

I don’t mean to say that I am completely dependent on my boyfriend for emotional support. That being said, it is more of an interdependence. I need him to help with my anxiety and he needs me for his own set of issues and struggles. It allows us to communicate more as a couple and also allows us to remember to open up about our struggles so that your partner can share and help in times of need. As my advice for this post, if you have a significant other or not, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your friends, family and trusted others are there to help you get through rough times and surmount them with power and confidence, so that you can be the person you want to be. Never be afraid to fail, never be afraid to struggle.

As always with love,

Lia

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College Life: Getting used to being yourself

Hello interwebs! I haven’t done a post where I’m just casually talking about things for a while so I thought I’d bring that back today. I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind lately as I am settling into the routine of college, becoming comfortable with being yourself.

 

For some people, this might have always been easy. For others, it takes us a while to fully be comfortable with showing people who we really are. Whether it is because of insecurities or lack of trust it all comes back to not wanting to share your actual self with the world. I always thought of this as putting on different masks. I’ve grown up being a people pleaser, as most people ( I think) who have had issues with this. We want to please everyone around us so depending on our situations we act and dress in different ways in order to please those people. On top of that, the people who have mental illnesses also create another mask in order to hide symptoms or to seem normal.

All through high school, I wore masks, and I became very good at hiding them. I had a mask for my friends, a mask for my family ( who didn’t yet know of my anxiety issues), a mask for people who didn’t know me, a mask for my teachers and fellow classmates. Every day I would flip through these different personas that I had created in order to somewhat please everyone around me. Toward the end of my senior year, and after I was dating Ian for quite some time, I had become tired of pleasing everyone. I had become tired of faking who I actually was so that my extremely fake friends would kinda tolerate my existence. So I stopped. I stopped pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I started calling people out for not treating me right ( as a friend) and demanded that I had people around me who gave me the same time of day as I did them.

That summer, I felt like I gained a sort of independence. Not so much a physical one, that being a free to be the person I wanted to be, but a mental independence; where I gained the courage and audacity to live life as my genuine self, regardless of who liked me or not.  That is when I left for college. Of course, leaving for college was a nerve wracking experience ( as I have previously mentioned) and that dwindled my new found confidence. However, as I have also mentioned, my campus is a place where people from many different backgrounds reside, leaving a hodgepodge of different interests and fashion styles. Getting to the whole point of why I am writing this, college is a time where you are supposed to be yourself or for that matter, try to figure out who that person is supposed to be. In finding that person, you gain a comfort of being in your own skin which for someone who hasn’t ever had that feeling, it’s utterly exhilarating.

For those people out there who are still struggling with this ( trust me I still am battling with my own self-image every day), I offer some advice. The best thing I can tell you is to fundamentally look at who you are, what you believe in, what you want to become, and who you want to be like. This allows you to figure out who you are as a person as well as looking into some of the things that you want to emulate in your daily life. The next thing I suggest is to stop caring. I mean this in the most genuine and nice way. If you stop caring what other people think about you ( which in college they really don’t care) you start living not for other people, but for yourself. You build a reputation off of the person that you’d want to be friends with and when you are truly yourself like that, the right kinds of people will flock to you.

Of course, there will be bad days, I still question my boyfriend all the time about what he thinks of me. I think it’s almost normal to question the relationships around us. Not because we will know they secretly hate us, rather, because we wish that they will tell us how much they need us. Everyone deserves to be needed, and if you aren’t needed right now, someone will come along who needs you like they need oxygen to breathe. And that will change everything.

Best of luck to everyone out there. Stay kind, stay truthful, stay humble, stay you.

Love and best wishes,

Lia

” You have been worth every letter typed on my keyboard, every breath I take for words. You are the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of before I fall asleep. You are worth more to me than you will ever understand”

 

 

 

 

 

First Days of College: First Impressions From an Only Child

Hello interwebs! You are officially reading posts from me in college ( WOO)! As the title suggests, I am going to be writing about my first few days at college and my first impressions as an only child, as well as from a perspective from someone whos kinda shy, nerdy, and full of anxiety.

First things first, of course, I was really nervous about leaving home. If you’ve been reading my college series you know all about my trepidations of leaving home for the first time. From all of those things, I have to say leaving my boyfriend was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time. He’s been someone who has been my rock emotionally and mentally so leaving him behind made me really nervous about how I was going to handle college life alone. As someone with Generalized Anxiety, the feeling of being alone is one of the things that makes me the most anxious. I was also worried that without someone to be there for me I’d be overtaken by my symptoms.

As for leaving my parents, that was also incredibly difficult. As an only child, I have a very close relationship with my parents so not having my mom around to talk to has been really strange. I’d like to think that my mom is my best friend so not having her in the other room has certainly been taking some getting used to. However, I have been calling home every morning so It adds a sense of routine and normalcy to this new situation. For college itself, I couldn’t be more excited. My campus here at UPS ( University of Puget Sound) is beautiful and everyone is so loving and inclusive that you can’t help but feel at home. We are currently undergoing a week’s worth of orientation, which is basically them shoving us into groups to make us get to know our new class as well as campus. For the first few days, I’ve been only going to some things and not going to others. I know myself enough to know that I really need to take time for just myself and shoving myself into a bunch of social situations right off the bat will just overwhelm me and I won’t be happy.

As a final statement, I have to say I am very happy here. I was really worried that I wouldn’t feel comfortable here and that I would want to go home within a week. However, I found that I’ve made this place a home away from home and I am falling in love with college life. I wish you all the best in your school careers and I hope that you are all settling into the new school year with ease.

Stay calm and carry on,

Lia

The Art of Writing Letters: Keeping Letter Writing Alive

Hello, interwebs! Today I am going to be talking a little bit about letter writing and why I am going to be sending lots of letters to my friends and family while I am away in college.

Letters have been a means of communication for a really long time. People evolved and created their own style with handwriting, stationery, wax seals and even stamps. However, over time our culture has moved away from sending hand written notes and toward the technological means of communication entirely. I’ve always loved writing and receiving mail since I was really young. I grew up in the age of computers so there was always this sort of magic and mystery regarding letters and mail in general. When I was growing up, pen-pals and sending post cards to friends during the summer were quite a common thing and I remember always being so excited when I got one.

However, now people have no interest in sending hand written notes and letters. I remember how when I was taking the ACT for the first time that most of the kids in the room didn’t know how to write in cursive, in order to write the statement saying they won’t cheat. This was incredibly surprising to me. As someone who grew up being forced to learn and write in cursive constantly it was unimaginable that people didn’t know it at all.  I digress, as you may know ( if you’ve been following my blog) that I am leaving for college soon. There are a few things that I’m doing while I’m there that I am going to add to my daily routine. Most of those are obvious things, such as skyping my boyfriend and my parents, using my planner, meditation; but there is one thing that most wouldn’t think of, writing letters to my boyfriend as well as my friends.

The reason I wanted to write letters specifically is that a) I love letters and stationery b) think there is something more thoughtful about writing letters and c) as a way to keep in touch with my friends far away that I won’t be able to talk to often. Like I mentioned, I think there is something very thoughtful about writing letters. It tells the person, ” hey I took the time to sit down and put my thoughts on paper” which I think is rather special. I also wanted this as a way for me to show a sort of commitment to my significant other. I wanted the letters to symbolize me thinking about him constantly and making the effort to keep up a normal routine as well as making some things fun and exciting.

To get to my actual point, go out and write someone a letter. It doesn’t take that much time and I’m sure someone around you has an envelope and a stamp. I think people really appreciate it and I am someone who doesn’t want this form of communication as well as handwriting, in general, to go away.

Stay old fashioned,

Lia

 

1 Week Away: Thoughts and Tips about going away to College

Hello interwebs! Today I am going to be continuing with my little series about heading off to college. Since I am leaving in about a week, I thought I would make a post updating you on my thoughts and feelings as I get so close to my final days at home.

 

Like I’ve said from the beginning, college has always been somewhat of an anxiety inducing topic. As an only child who’s never been away from home for long, this is an entirely new experience. However, as I get closer to actually leaving, there is this odd sense of calm. I think it has to do with how insanely prepared I am and my level of anxiety induced OCD. I’ve gotten all of my stuff, I am almost already packed, bought all of my school supplies and not to mention I’m going to the school of my dreams. ( it’s also a nice bonus that I got a super sweet room and an awesome roommate). With the calm and the happiness also comes with an overwhelming sense of melancholy. I am also leaving my family, my hometown, my best friend and my boyfriend as I leave off toward the unknown.

Leaving also feels like some wonderful, great adventure. I’m leaving to become more of my own person and experience people and things that will ultimately impact my life greater than anything in High School. It will make me a stronger person and hopefully, more self-assured. I think college is the ultimate time to figure out who you are and what you believe in. You aren’t surrounded by parental pressures to be one way or the other, which allows you to really delve into who you are on a very intimate level. You also have your future to dream about. What makes you happy? What could you see yourself working on/for, for quite some time? All of these things, with some good introspection and hard work, will come to you eventually.

This is also the time in which we can learn to be individual adults. The first thing I would like to mention is that you really need to take care of yourself. I know you will hear something similar from your parents, but it is important to take care of your health and well-being; both mental and physical. Mental health is really important to your overall health and happiness and like I’ve said a thousand times before, if you need help please do not feel ashamed to get it. You also have to take care of your physical health as well. Staying up all night on Redbull and Doritos won’t help your skin or your brain ( among many other things). This also doesn’t mean starving yourself because you don’t want to gain the freshman 15. Everything of course in moderation and with some light exercise you should be totally happy and healthy.

That leads me to my last point if you aren’t happy, leave. No one wants you to be unhappy and if a college or room mate or whatever is making you unhappy, miserable or depressed; maybe it just isn’t for you. I also want to stress that this is OKAY. Going to a 4 year, big wig, university isn’t for everyone. Of course, I am a large advocate of higher education but if a big private university isn’t for you there are many other options available.

Overall, I am excited for what’s to come and I wish everyone great sucess in college!

Love and hugs,

Lia

Long Distance Relationships: First year of college away from your significant other

Hello, interwebs! Today I am going to be talking about my thoughts on long distance relationships as well as some of the things that we are planning in order to help make the time away not feel so miserable.

 

Long Distance relationships, especially in college seem like this impossible feat. Everyone you know loves to tell you how much it isn’t going to work. However, in reality, like almost all things; if you give it love, attention, and dedication it will work. Of course, this will not work out for every couple as every couple is different but these are just my thoughts and actions regarding my own relationship that may or may not be helpful to you. First things first a little bit about my relationship. I started dating my boyfriend Ian at the beginning of my senior year after both of us crushing on each other for most of the previous school year. The week before school started we started talking, went on one date to the movies and he asked me out two weeks later. We are just about to hit our one year anniversary on August fourteenth and have had a basically bump-free relationship until now. I think the whole thing that I love about us is that we have such a high level of respect for each other and an understanding of each other’s needs ( such as him helping me with my anxiety symptoms and me just giving him love and help with English haha) that have helped us get through without any real hardcore fights.

Long distance relationships take a certain amount of dedication in order to work. I think you really have to take a step back and determine how much you are willing to work in order to keep the relationship healthy. As someone who recently got a promise ring I would consider us rather serious, though of course, you don’t have to be quite that serious. Overall, I think the main thing is that you are willing to take time out of your schedule for the other person in order to continue somewhat of a normal routine.

As for things that we are going to do to help make that schedule, I have a few things. First and foremost, taking time ( scheduling time) to call or skype them every day I think is key. I don’t say texting because you can message them anytime and it certainly isn’t as personal. If you set out an hour every day to call them or video call then this way you can hear their voice and have an in depth conversation like you would if you were actually with them. I also think this helps with the ” angry text syndrome” that happens with long distance couples. If you don’t know what this is, basically from what I understand when you are away from someone for so long you forget their tone when messaging and more things can be misconstrued as angry or mean. If you call them every day to catch up you can somewhat avoid this issue.

Another thing that we are doing is sending letters. This may seem weird for lots of people but I love stationery and writing so to show my work and effort I pledged to write weekly letters and send pictures along with them. Even though it’s from the girl to the guy, don’t underestimate the power of doing something that people know take time. He may be a manly macho man, but don’t think for a second that he doesn’t appreciate you taking an hour to do something as manual as writing letters. It doesn’t have to be this, of course, it could be sending packages once a month, making those ” open when cards” before you leave, or whatever else you can think of. Doing something on a regular basis that makes you stop and think about the other person will definitely help keep things interesting as well as keep you thinking about them in a positive way. As they say ” distance makes the heart grow fonder”

The last thing of advice is to always know when you are going to see them again.When you leave them always say something along the lines of ” see you on ( this date)”. I actually got this tip from Game Theory on Youtube during a live stream. They mentioned how they went through long distance during college and always did this whenever they saw each other. As for my own personal thoughts about this, I think besides being a really cute way of ” saying goodbye without saying goodbye” it helps remind the person that you are going to see them again and it actually isn’t an eternity away. It also makes it something to look forward to in the future.

 

I know leaving for college is already scary, especially when you are leaving someone who has been the backbone of your life for quite some time. However, this will allow you both to grow up and become independent people as well as hopefully, strengthening your relationship even if you aren’t with each other all the time. I wish you all the best with your relationship endeavors. Sorry for the long post but I had a lot of information to get out haha.

Best wishes,

Lia

 

High School and Anxiety: What I’ve Learned To Not Just Deal With It

Hello interwebs! Today I will be talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I think it’s something that many other people will relate to as well.

Anxiety and other mood disorders affect five out of ten people in the United States. That’s a lot of people who might be struggling with the same issues, with little to nothing spoken about it and what it’s actually like. Today, I will be talking a little bit about my own journey with mental illness and some things I have found that have helped me continue to grow throughout high school.

Anxiety is a difficult beast to deal with. On certain days it feels like the world could end at any moment and other days it feels what I can only describe as depression. It is different for everyone and some people, like myself, have become very good at hiding symptoms because of the stigma of being seen as someone with a mental illness. In the last year, I have become very ” in touch” with my anxiety and have decided that in order to free others like me of their fear of rejection, I should open up and be proud to ” show my battle scars” as it were. Anxiety also has its own stigma, due to the fact that most I’ve talked to consider a normal part of life. I think the hard thing for people ( who aren’t closely involved in their own mental Illness or know the struggles of others) to understand is that we aren’t talking about normal, everyday, stress. This is something that is debilitating for most and is something that can often take the normal out of their lives.

On a more happy note I would like to share a few, somewhat philosophical ways of looking and treating anxiety that was helpful to me, and hopefully will be helpful to some of you out there. For starters, knowing as much as you can about Anxiety and any other related mood disorders is extremely helpful. I think better understanding what is happening to you on a neural level is pretty validating. It reminds you that what you are struggling with is real and that there are thousands of people that struggle with the same things, and to me, that was extremely comforting. Second, I found that having at least one person you can trust is crucial. Unfortunately, too often people with mental illnesses are surrounded by people who don’t and refuse to try to understand what they are going through. I had this struggle and so I sought out to find at least one person who wanted to understand what I am going through and that person, fortunately, was my boyfriend. Having that support has been crucial for me as I am just starting to figure out the ins and outs of what it means to me and what I can do to combat the symptoms.

Finally, as cheesy as this may seem I’ve found meditation to be extremely helpful. Trust me, it isn’t some ” let’s sit by the fire and sing Kumbaya. It’s basically me sitting on my bed with my eyes closed listening to medieval fantasy radio on Pandora. Focusing on breathing and then thinking about the things that make me anxious and thinking about their rational/irrational qualities. Generally speaking, I will always be an advocate for introspection, especially when it is a battle of you vs your mind.

Personally, my own battle with anxiety has been a long and winding road. I’ve been struggling with it for as long as I can remember but never understood what I was feeling. Middle school, in particular, was rough for me because ( for those that know generalized anxiety) you are constantly anxious about everything and filled with self-doubt and self-depreciating thoughts. Mix that in with middle school and you can’t help but have a bad time. In more recent history, like I mentioned earlier, I have learned a lot about what it means to have generalized anxiety and how I can find ways to combat symptoms without simply denying that they exist. I share this with whoever is reading, because I want people to become more aware about mental illness, and that just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are any less capable for sucess, happiness, and a fullness of life that normal people seem to think they have the only key to. Though trust me when I say, It’s more fun to be weird.

Sorry for the super long post, but I really wanted to get a message like this on the blog. I think it is extremely important to continue talking about mental illness and to help people understand that not all mental illness is depression or schizophrenia. I hope that some of you can be helped by this and always feel free to email me if you need someone in your life to support you.

Like someone, I loved told me once long ago, ” If no one else in this world needs you I do”.

 

 

 

For inspiration I shall leave you with this rather wonderful message from my boyfriend; ” I’m not going to pretend I can change or repair things that have happened to you in your past with mere words. But I can present you with some of my seventeen-year-old wisdom. Things that happened to us in our past, like the things you just shared with me, while they may be unfortunate or demeaning or painful to remember, they are, as you said, a part of who we are. Considering all that you said has happened to you, you could have turned out to be a depressed, sad, shut in. But here you are, a sweet fun understanding, pretty and intelligent young woman who managed to make her way into my life of all things. So I think that is worth quite a lot.