Virtues from Motherhood: Needing Help Will Never Make You Weak

(Please note this is a sensitive post and one that was hard for me to share. However, in the interest of healing and helping others, I felt like I was finally okay enough to post.)

This summer has been a somewhat rough one for me. While it was nice to relax and not worry about commuting and classes it also gave me time to think, maybe too much. I’ve mentioned my anxiety before and I’ve always kept it relatively low key and under wraps because I felt I could control it. This summer though, I felt that control slip away from me. I was constantly on edge; my thoughts ran wild and I was always in constant fear of something bad happening or coming for me. I couldn’t sleep or focus and I was always on alert. I wrestled with getting help, maybe going to speak to the therapist I’d seen as a teenager but I didn’t want to see someone who might diagnose the old me. I ignored the clear need for me to get help for weeks, until my family left for vacation and I was left alone with my own mind.

I was driving across the Manhattan bridge one day after being out with friends and rolled slowly along the span as traffic inched along, admiring the view and the city I love so much, but then I had a truly frightening thought that appeared out of nowhere. “What’s stopping me from getting out and climbing over the rail?” It was the scariest moment I’d had in a long while because the thought just popped into my mind unprovoked. I looked at the narrow beam as traffic continued to roll on, and it hit me, this is bigger than me now and I’d need to get help to defeat the demons I’ve let live inside me too long.

I never wanted to wonder ever again if anyone would miss me or feel like my own breaths were suffocating me. A day or so later, I had a panic attack that made me feel like I was being swallowed into a black hole and I got my shoes on that instant and went to my doctor. I couldn’t let my daughter see me this way, I couldn’t meet my goals or even watch TV peacefully until I got my anxiety under control.

With my doctors help I’m doing that, but I had to ask for help and I’m sorry I waited for it to explode into a flood of emotions and fears for me to do it. Nevertheless, I am on the mend, every day that passes I’m a little less anxious and feel just a little more in control of who I am. People seem to forget that their mental health is just as, if not more, important than your psychical health because your mind does matter in every sense.

Asking for help to me was always a sign that I was weak that I was little and I was letting anxiety win, but anxiety (like other mental health issues) can’t be defeated alone, you need a net of support to catch you when you’re weak. Friends, family and your medical professionals are those people, seek them out. Lastly, be kind to those you know aren’t okay, and even ones you don’t, because even though you can’t fathom what’s going on in their head, it’s dictating their whole life, and your words matter to them.


If you, or someone you know is struggling here are some resources that can help. Never ignore the signs.

Suicide prevention hotline

Half of us

NYC Mental Health

Virtues from Motherhood: The Mental Health Monsters

In August artist and Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington took his own life. He like many other immensely talented individuals, was not immune to their own minds and tragically Chester lost his battle, my condolences to him and all those who love him.

Mental health issues have been in the headlines for healthcare, judicial and medical reform for years; it is the animal that everyone can see but everyone is scared to address for fear of waking an untamable beast. Anyone who has gone through a point in their lives when they struggled with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, multiple personalities or any other mental health issue, knows that it is not just about winning a battle, it is a war you fight, in silence, in your own head, every day. Some are lucky, they are able to overcome the obstacle in their minds, they are able to seek help and find a way to manifest and overturn those heavy stones that make it almost impossible to move day in and day out. Others though, they aren’t so lucky and the disease wins, those who take their own lives don’t want to die, they just want to the pain to stop.

In high school, I had a classmate take his own life, he was such a great kid, he was always smiling and laughing and he always wanted to be friendly with everyone. Nobody could believe it when the school told us that he’d passed away. It was then that I realized that you could be trapped in your own mind, with what feels like no way out. I have anxiety, I imagine I’ve probably always had it. In high school, I saw a psychologist once a week, my parents sent me and at the time I just thought they were punishing me but looking back maybe they saw something I couldn’t maybe they knew they could help me by sending me there, I don’t know. At the time, I wasn’t making the best life choices, I was spiraling out of control and I couldn’t seem to get a handle on what I was feeling, I just reacted.

That doctor was the first person who ever suggested that maybe what I was feeling was anxiety, she asked me if I ever felt this way or that way, and a few of them resonated with me but I wasn’t sold on the idea. What could she know about me anyway? My parents hired her, she didn’t know me or what I was about, so I dismissed her and eventually stopped going.

Fast forward years later, I was now a young mother. I was now responsible for a whole other life, not just mine and every single thing I did not only affected me but her too. That was a whole lot of pressure, that I tried to carry in stride, but eventually the thoughts got to me and followed me around. What if I never finished school? What if I was stuck in my parents’ house, what if, what if, what if. The racing thoughts made my stomach drop, I felt like I’d eaten rocks and it drove me to act irrationally. I got academically dismissed because I couldn’t sit still or focus in classes and I missed my finals. It took me years to get my mind in a place where I could get through school, and even now there are days when I don’t want to walk into the classroom.

Today, I still have anxiety and some days it’s quite and other days it’s a roaring noise that deafens me. The weirdest things might trigger my anxiety and I’m not proud to say I’ve just gotten better at hiding it rather than dealing with it. What people don’t understand though, is that sometimes I seem really mean or disconnected with them or a situation and I seem angry, but I’m not and it’s just my anxiety manifesting itself that way. Sometimes a situation makes me anxious, sometimes there are too many people in a room or too many conversations happening at once and it overwhelms me. Some days I have a ridiculous fear that anxiety is just making worse and approaching me just triggers a nasty reaction that I don’t mean to give you. Anxiety is heavy, it’s random and sometimes it hangs around for a few days and makes me want to just lay in bed and avoid people and places. None of it means that I’m mad at anyone, that I’m antisocial or that I’m blowing you off it just means that today my mind got the best of me and I thought myself into a corner that I need space and time to get out of.

Mental health issues are not a joke, and you never know what the people around you are dealing with, so be kind, always. And let the people you love know that you love them because some days the battle they’re fighting might be too large for them to fight alone, they need you. Mental health issues are not a weakness, they are a disease and they are debilitating, so the next time someone asks you for help, listen.


If you, or someone you know is struggling here are some resources that can help. Never ignore the signs.

Suicide prevention hotline

Half of us

NYC Mental Health

The Social Media Rabbit Hole

I caved last week, and FINALLY became a member of the Tumblr community. Wait, is Tumblr considered so yesterday?
a cartoon blond boy's face

Anyways, while perusing Tumblr, I came across a community called Studyblr. I was fascinated by the aesthetics of each photo that I saw while scrolling: beautiful stationary lined up neatly, planners, stacks of books, an organized desk, laptops, beautifully written study notes, and perfect natural lighting.
Studyblrs are blogs meant to encourage others to develop healthy study habits, promote organizational skills, and even encourage tracking your daily water intake.
Yeah, it definitely caught my attention. Did I just stumble upon the holy grail of organization!?

I found myself asking how was I organizing and balancing my stressed out life and wishing my desk at home was neat like the photos I saw on Tumblr. Why couldn’t there be more natural lighting in my room? Why –?

Wait.

These are the moments in which we need to catch ourselves and break from social media. I was beginning to compare myself to people I’ve never met before. I was assuming that they have it all together. For all I know, these bloggers might not even be as organized as they seem.

cartoon of a young girl that says "it may look like I'm doing well and have my life together. I just want you to know... that is a straight up lie."

There’s a big debate in the community as to whether or not Studyblrs are helpful or harmful to ones mental health. Some stating the unrealistic study habits and pressure that’s attached to it.  After watching a variety of Youtubers and reading blogs on the Studyblr community I was able to develop my own opinion about the whole debate:

1) Studyblr photos are beautiful to me! I’m a huge fan of stationary, contrasting colors, and well organized books.

2) They have some amazing tips! But I’m here to keep it real with you. Their study tips are not for everyone, and that’s okay. Everyone learns differently. Rewriting notes in different colors might not be your thing. I had one professor in college introduce me to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, and encouraged me to create art in class while she lectured. She knew I had my own style of learning. Read more about Gardner here.

3) You don’t have to do everything a blogger is doing. Be you. That means embracing your uniqueness and doing what’s best for you. Pick and choose what works.

4) Stop comparing yourself to everyone on social media. Be who you are in this very moment. We’re all on a different path in life. Inspired by something or someone? That’s great, but remember learning any new skill takes time. 

5) Comparing yourself to others creates unhappiness, which can lead to stress, and can manifest itself into physical ailments.

Interested in Studyblr?
-Here’s a link to a free planner
-Tutorial on how to setup a bullet journal

Check out the Studyblr community on Tumblr and Youtube. Leave your thoughts about the Studyblr, your own personal study habits, or share a moment you fell down the social media rabbit hole.

-Sarah

Brain food

Disclaimer: I’ve been evaluated by my physician for any potential food allergies. Please be aware of any food allergies you might have as they can be life-threatning. 

Let’s be honest. Being a student means being on a budget, and when you’re on a budget you tend to buy foods that aren’t exactly keeping you fueled. If we aren’t hydrating and eating the right foods are body begins to experience symptoms such as feeling dizzy, drowsy, headaches, and feeling cranky. I find when I choose to eat unhealthy, I am more prone to feeling irritable, fatigue, and stressed. So what are some foods you can eat that are cheap, won’t burn a hole in your wallet, and keep you energized during that 3-hour lecture?

cartoon of a face and a plate of food

1) Bananas: Grab it and go. Provides a variety of nutrients such as Potassium which helps to regulate your blood pressure. Bananas keep you fuller longer, and are great to relieve crampy muscles.

2) Yogurt: Perfect after a tough workout or a long commute. Yogurt provides B12 which is known to promote healthy brain function. Healthy bacteria found in yogurt helps to keep you, “regular.” Don’t forget the air freshener!

3) Energy Bar: Read the ingredients list carefully. Some bars are better than others, but make sure you’re not allergic to anything listed in the ingredients. These are perfect to keep with you on the go when your stomach suddenly growls in the middle of class or on the train.

4) Overnight Oats: Not a morning person? Prep this the night before so you can just grab and go in the next day. Find a few recipes here. Add your favorite fruits to the mix and you will start your day with a nutrient rich breakfast.

5) Water: HYDRATE! I can’t say this enough. Water helps to flush out toxins, keep you regular, relieve fatigue, and promotes healthy body functions. Signs you’re dehydrated: Thirsty, dry skin, dizziness, dry mouth, ­­­­­

I’m just grazing the surface with these foods. There are countless ways to mix and match your food to not only satisfy those taste buds, but provide you with the energy and nutrients needed to conquer your long days. What are some foods you grab when you’re on the go?

-Sarah