Tag Archives: hurt

The Past that Follows

How do I move on when the past is a part of me?

“Scars remind us that the past was real..”

– Shakespeare

I struggle with the present. I know it’s a “gift” and all but I’ve always dwelled on the past and worried about the future. I have moments of laughter with friends, contentment in my surroundings, or pride of my actions where I know I’m happy in the moment. True euphoria. I cherish and recognize these moments because of their rarity.

Everyone has had obstacles to overcome and in that we can all relate. Unfortunately I don’t often meet many with similar experiences to me, leaving me feeling isolated and without the understanding I for some reason so desperately crave. I’ve overcome my obstacles, but in a way I’ve been unable to move on. Traumatic in nature, some of my experiences have shaped me into who I am today. So I ask again-

How can I move on when the past is a part of me?

“My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.”

William Golding

The reason I try so hard to make others laugh is because I know what it’s like to be in pain. The reason I ask frequently for reassurance is because I’ve been told enough times I’m worthless. The reason I worry is because I struggle with mental health. The the reason I strive to be kind is because I don’t ever want to treat anyone in the undeserving manner I’ve been treated in. I don’t want to perpetuate the cycle of hurt and cynicism that I’ve witnessed.  I want to be a ray of sunshine that brightens people’s day. A reminder that, as cheesily as it sounds, that like Samwise Gamgee said in Lord of the Rings Two Towers, there’s some good in this world and its worth fighting for.

My past has shaped me. To move on from it is to move on from myself. To forget it is to fight the daily battle I fight to overcome the challenges that continue on from my past and the lasting effects of some experiences. To accept that in some cases I don’t get closure is to leave my world tangled.

At the same time I can’t continue to let the past distract from the present. Too often I spend too much time wrestling with thoughts of times gone by. What happened in primary school shouldn’t be effecting me now. But it does. Questions of what if shouldn’t keep me up at night. But they do. Those moments could be spent being present, being content, being appreciative of the amazing people and things in my life. There’s enough in the present to think about without the past clouding my judgement.

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

The past made me who I am, and I shouldn’t forget who I am. But I can’t let the past take over. It may have a place in my life but not at the expense of my happiness. I don’t know how to change the past’s power. I don’t know how to alter my ways, thoughts, or patterns. But I know I must try. The past might have led me to where I am but I can’t let it dictate my life. I can appreciate the good and bad that’s come before and it’s place in my journey without letting it define me.

Thinking of Others

A personal and extremely sappy post.

I love interviews. I love talking. I’ve done so many at this stage that I have stock answers for generic questions. Whenever asked what my biggest weakness is I always tell the truth. My biggest weakness is also my biggest strength: that I care too much. It both fuels my efforts and fuels my emotional downfall. I take things far too personally.

Somewhere along the way caring about everything became too much- too much for my heart which has always felt things a little too deeply. I try now to care only about the things I can’t help caring about. I care about making a difference. I care about nature. I care about people. I care about performing. I care about film. I care about mental health. I care about injustice. I care about spreading love.

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”

Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Unfortunately, I can’t shake that I care deeply what other people think of me. I’m certainly not too sensitive for banter and jokes, but  I can’t cope with bad blood. I can’t deal with someone not liking who I am as a person. For an unfiltered and brash individual, who is nowhere near perfect, winning over the universe is not easy. My preschool teacher told my mom that I was “unique in every sense of the word” and I’m not convinced it was a compliment. I try to win people over with my open-minded nature. I’d like to think I’m witty too, though my puns are often questionable at best. My memes are pretty dank though. I digress. I live my life under the principle that people should be able to do whatever they want so long as they are not hurting someone else. If they’re not hurting anyone it’s not my place to pass any judgement. I don’t know their story.

However, the world doesn’t work in a way that being nice guarantees positive feedback. Especially when you’re as anxious as I am, because you’re bound to seem annoying at some stage. But in all honesty, aren’t we all annoying sometimes? Nonetheless I try. I don’t change who I am, but I try too hard. My fear of inter-personal conflict is so great that I will take the blame in situations that are not my fault. I only vent, avoiding gossip if I can, because I’d feel awful it getting back to someone. Inevitably I’m sure I’ve hurt someone along the way, but never intentionally. Over the years I’ve worked at getting better at standing up for myself when wronged, but am still not great at it.  Causes I can make a commotion about, but not little old me. Little old me wants to keep the peace. The world would call me a pussy when it comes to self defense.

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate […]”

Anthon St. Maarten

Inevitably, it’s hard for me to swallow when someone doesn’t like me. Especially when I myself don’t really generate the feeling of dislike towards others. I always try to see where others are coming from in their actions. Even if they break the cardinal rule and hurt someone, and even if their actions are not justifiable no matter where they are coming from (which I’ve experienced many times in my short life), that does not make me hate them. I’m not weak, it’s not easy to forgive, but in hating I stoop and am only hurting myself. I fundamentally feel everyone deserves happiness and it is not my place to stand in their way. If they’ve done wrong it will come back to them without me. I will continue to like everyone.

“You are what you love, not what loves you. ”

Charlie Kaufman

Not being liked triggers other thoughts, it emanates feelings of not being understood. Surely if my peers who don’t like me knew what I’ve overcome, why I am the way I am, what is happening in my life, they’d have more empathy for annoying quirks. I haven’t even broken the cardinal rule. Hell, I wasn’t even supposed to make it this far. Making snap judgement about my character takes away how hard I worked to get where I am.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

I know I should just say fuck it. It’s impossible to please everyone. Sure I’m the only person I have to live with at the end of the day. It’s silly, immature, and pathetic that I want to be liked by everyone. I know I shouldn’t care. I know. Caring too much is just who I am, and as I said I don’t change who I am. But if my call home taught me anything, it’s that I can’t let what I don’t have take away from what I do; which had unknowingly happened. I’d become so concerned with pleasing the world that I wasn’t appreciating the love and understanding coming from numerous friends, family, and a great boyfriend. I wasn’t letting it be enough. I wasn’t letting my own love for myself and the good qualities I have be enough.

So, though I can’t change caring whether the world likes me, I can shift the focus to the positive people in my life. Let them serve as a blockade against my wishes that will only lead to disappointment. I can’t change that I care about everyone but I can change the depth of field in my life, the true friends in focus. Not letting negativity get to me.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Bernard M. Baruch

It Does Not Define Me (My Mental Health Story)

My mental health story, a change in structure.

So this is highly personal, and something that is hard to openly share, however I am a big believer that the more people talk about mental health the more it is normalized and the more change can be made for the better.

I was an anxious child. That much was clear. Maybe it was the prednisone I was on for much of my early years, to help me breath through my asthma, that triggered it. I’ll never know.

I had rituals. I had to be the last to say goodbye to visitors or else I acted as if the world was ending. I had to stomp my feet when I got in the car. I had to look at my self a certain way in the mirror. I worried. I worried all the time and about everything. I had so much going on in my head that in kindergarten and first grade I was in a slower reading group.

By age 6 I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I was put on medication. I started therapy. I jumped from the bottom reading group to the top. However, this was just the start of a long journey.

Bipolar Disorder ran in my family. The anti-anxiety medication I was put on at such a young age, an SSRI, triggered the Bipolar gene in me that might have otherwise remained dormant. At 6 I had a manic episode. I thought with every fiber of my being that everyone, including my family, was trying to kill me.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar by age 7. I was put on Lithium and never had a manic episode again. At first, looking at the pamphlet made for early onset Bipolar in kids, I was happy. Sure anxiety was always my main issue, but seeing a book made for symptoms I experienced was amazing to me. I wasn’t alone. I thought I would be understood. Little did I know what was coming.

I had reflective days in the early years, upset I had to take medication, feeling like an outcast. Society surely didn’t help. In second grade a fellow student’s parent found out about my conditions. Worried her son would be negatively influenced, she requested her son be kept away from me. The school obliged, even recess aids were informed to keep us separate. I was full of hurt and pain at 8. I knew all of what was happening, and the embarrassment and shame was indescribable.

All of puberty was tough, adjusting medications regularly to match my ever changing hormones. The side effects of long term medication being fully realized. My home life at the time was less then ideal and a struggle in it’s own right, not aiding my mental state. I would break down in school. Panic. Fear.

Some teachers were a help, letting me be with sympathetic words, allowing me to calm. Some only made it worse. There were rooms the size of a telephone booths with windows in the counselor’s hallway. They were for in school suspension, kids that did bad things. Kids had a habit of looking in the rooms to see who was in trouble on their way to the counselors. When I was having panic attacks, break downs, because the world around me was too much, I would get thrown in these rooms until I stopped crying. I remember my panic only intensifying.

I’m trapped, scared, I wish I had a phone to call someone to rescue me. Shame. I wasn’t in trouble. Everyone walking by will think I’m in trouble. I’m a good kid I swear.Adults and kids are laughing at me. Get me out please I’m hurting. I want to die. Please. I can’t breathe.

I stabilized in middle school, but for the rest of my time I had to fight for my place in many higher level classes because I got extended time on exams due to my anxiety. I developed secondary conditions due to my medication. I never stopped taking it, I was fortunate to not know any different, and see the dangers of trying without a doctors supervision.

In college, my roommate made fun of me for being on medication, calling me crazy, saying I have a drawer full of pills. The school made it difficult to get a single room.

I lost friends and opportunities during a rough patch in life when I was having multiple panic attacks a day, struggling to function. I was going to therapy and following the rules, but sometimes that’s not enough. They didn’t understand. My anxious behavior, which I actively challenged with every fiber of my being, and did not ask for, was too bizarre for some.

Depending on external life factors, and my condition in general, my anxiety ebbs in and out. Some periods are grand, some are not. Regardless I give it my all. Every day I try. There are days where getting out of bed seems like too much to bare. Almost every day is exhausting. Existing takes everything I have.There were times I wanted out. There were close calls. But I know now the good times are worth the bad, and I will fight for the good times.  I have to pay for medication, which isn’t cheap. I’ve known my whole life I will have that added cost, on top of the emotional cost. I hope one day I can go off some of them with a doctor’s supervision. I deal.

Above all in my journey I learned you have to help yourself. If you don’t, no amount of external help will get you anywhere. You have try. And sometimes that’s not enough. That’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to need help. Seeking help isn’t weak. It shouldn’t be stigmatized. It should be like going to a physical doctor. Your brain is an organ it, needs check ups too, which could even save a life.

For a number of reasons, including my mental health, I wasn’t expected to achieve this much. To go beyond community college. I graduated in the top 10% of my class. I got a full ride to college. I earned a spot at the Clinton Global Initiative University. I’ve appeared in commercials. Ran clubs. Moved to another country. I succeeded in spite of my mental health. I am more empathetic because of my mental health. Anyone can do the same. Most have. That’s just not the image portrayed in the  media.

However the more we speak up, the more we normalize the discussion around mental health, the more the struggle becomes apparent, the better of the world is. I deal with mental health issues. So do 1 in 4 in the US. 1 in 4 is not homeless, a psychotic killer, an outcast. 1 in 4 should not be treated as if they are. Those who treat people less because of their mental health should be scolded, not those trying their hardest to overcome. The more we personalize this issue, come forward and put faces to it, the more stigma goes away. The more the diagnosis becomes less of a defining feature for a person. It’s not easy, the fear of judgement, the fear of being viewed as having a character flaw instead of a medical condition, is very real. But it’s necessary.

I am Kelley, and I have OCD and mild Bipolar.  I am not my illness. It has shaped me, but it in no way defines me.

Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring

Nothing is perfect.

How many times have you heard this uttered throughout your life? A dozen? A thousand? A million? So, why do we so often try to idealize people, places, and things?

We let exes ruin tastes. We let negative events ruin wonderful places. We hold grudges against friends and family, ruining good memories. We let the bad trump the good, to define our world. If nothing is perfect, we are going to be really unhappy campers- letting imperfections ruin everything for us.

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dalí

The world isn’t absolute. How else would you be able to explain a murderer who happens to be a great father? Varying memories from a place like New Orleans, that thrives culturally yet has suffered extremely from the effects of a natural disaster? Good and bad are intertwined, sometimes deeply, in every sense triggering feature of the world. You can’t have one without the other. But would you want to?

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”

Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

It’s hard to be thankful for pain, agony, or downers when experiencing them- but that doesn’t mean they’re not helpful. Would you not be desensitized to blessings if they were free flowing? Would you be as deeply appreciative of the ups without the downs? Would you have as much depth if you’d not known hardship? Still be empathetic? These questions may not be poignant enough to raise awareness on the worth of dark times, but hopefully they show the purpose of them.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen

Nothing is perfect, and imperfections serve their purpose, so a great option is to embrace blemishes on the world around us, or at least not let them ruin something that previously provided joy. Life has enough misery on it’s own, more doesn’t need to be applied to aspects of life that have potential happiness.

Don’t let the bad define the good. Let the good shine, and take joy in anything you can, tainted or not. Mentally remind yourself that you deserve it. I still do.

Say you’ll remember me?

A dark post, but it doesn’t have to be.

We all think it. We all care. Wondering what other’s think of us, valuing their opinions. In our darkest moments we ponder if they’d miss us when we’re gone. We see heart bearing social media posts for friends who passed too soon, even from strangers to the deceased. We wonder if our own untimely passing would elicit such emotion, such regret, such love.

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.”

Anne Frank

For my own part, I know I often feel underappreciated. Whether this feeling is supported by fact or the outside world is a debate for another time, but nonetheless it is a thought that passes through me often and probably through many others. I go out of my way to be kind. In fact it would hurt me not to be. I enjoy being supportive and lovely, even in the face of adversity. What I do not appreciate is being taken advantage of or being  taken for granted. It happens all too frequently because it is not in my nature to be anything but nice, even when standing up for myself. Inevitably people regret hurting me because my actions never gave them a reason to deservedly treat me so poorly, but that takes years of self reflection and leaves me wallowing for a good while beforehand.

I wonder, would it take a tragic end to me for people to appreciate the light I try so hard to spread. I don’t spread it because I am weak, or because I never have seen pain. I spread it because I’ve suffered and I wouldn’t wish others to feel that low. Because though my faith in humanity is shot, I have faith in every individual I meet.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

Robin Williams

What is so wrong in our society that it often takes death for overwhelming support to truly show from a community? Support that the person being supported may never feel. Why can’t we reflect on those in our lives while they are in them. When the impact will matter for the person. Maybe if we could express our love openly there would be less sadness. The fact that more than once in conversation the logic of “I wish I was dead so people would appreciate me” has been uttered by multiple people is appalling. Tragedy shouldn’t be the spark for love. Love should flow constantly and consistently. Maybe then we will feel comfortable enough in our own skins to shine. And light spreads far more efficiently than darkness.

So please tell people in your life you love them, and why. Who cares if it’s sappy. Who cares if it’s hard. They may need to hear it, and you could be giving them the boost they need to change the world for the better.