Superheroes, Supervillains, or Both: When Perspective Is Crucial

This week I have been tasked with writing an editorial for my AP Language and Composition class about something I was very passionate about. I chose to write about the exclusion and misunderstanding of mental illness in children. I asked my mom to read it, as I always do, and she encouraged me to post it here. It is only a draft, but I am pleased with the progress. Hope you all enjoy it. ~ Noelle

Everyone loves superheroes, especially kids. The everyday, ordinary people who are secretly exceptional, brave, and amaze everyone around them as they swoop in to save lives. Then, there are the supervillains who everyone hates and hopes against as they are seen as the reason for everything evil, regardless of their tragic backstory. Kids idolize these heroes and wait for the day when they can defeat their own villains. However, maybe not all villains are truly evil and not all can help it. How can we hope for the lonely, hated villain to be annihilated if he really is not a villain at all, but rather a mistreated, misunderstood kid? There are no heartbreaks for the bad guys, rather cries of joy when they are gone. If one looked at the villain from his perspective, would he still be a villain? No, his side would praise him as the hero. For the misunderstood, perceived villain, neither side can connect or support him. They do not belong to either because they are not heroes, but they are not bad. They have mental illnesses. The invisible evil source that the kid has no control over, yet makes him seem a villain. For kids with mental illnesses, they have trouble connecting with anyone, especially other kids their age and this does not go away with age. Because they cannot connect with others and do not fit into societal boxes, most of these kids face continual loneliness, with few being able to find a friend that accepts them  in their ‘bad guy’ times. As siblings of kids with mental illnesses know, the ‘bad guy’ is not them, it is the illness. Understanding this as a sibling is difficult enough, but trying to understand it as a friend who does not have to navigate the good and the bad is too much for most. So, the only people the kid with a mental illness can count on is his family, and even that is not always a guarantee. As they deal with the realities of the world and the eternal invisible battle inside their heads, many end up either suffering alone, homeless, jailed, or facing the villain’s ending with few, if any, tears. Some face all of the above. To be a friend of a kid with a mental illness has its challenges, yet it is still the most incredible, perspective changing thing a person can experience from another. Implementing an understanding of mental illness at a young age could change billions of lives in ways many can not imagine. It’s time for the superhero to learn how to handle the supervillain with understanding and compassion in order to save the inner superhero.

 

A Tired That Sleep Can’t Solve… What About Medication?

I have been getting off my mood stabilizer medication for depression at the request of my psychiatrist. It’s been a rocky road so far. Already resorted to isolation and shutting myself off… unfortunately, there has always been casualties with my depression. I hope everyone knows that I don’t mean it. I don’t mean to spread the pain, the loneliness, the ache, and then the emptiness. I am so incredibly sorry to all those who have been affected by my depression. I have spent the majority of my life struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as PTSD for awhile when I was younger. It’s been really hard trying to figure everything out and understand my emotions. I try my best to pull myself together… it just doesn’t always work.

I am sorry for the pain I’ve caused, the people I pushed away, the misplaced anger, and my sudden disappearance from some people. I try. I always try my best. Getting off my meds has, however, made keeping my act together a little more challenging.

My friend, her mom has been battling cancer and, recently, I went to relay for life with her to support her and her family. The truth is, I’m not very good at comforting people. I don’t think I ever have been. I don’t know what I’m doing when I comfort people. I just try and say what I think I’d want to hear and let them know I care. The other day, I went bowling with her, her brother, and my family. It had been a rough day. I got into a dispute with my mom about my medication and it was frustrating. I was feeling depressed and I didn’t want to do anything, I just wanted to be left alone. But, I said I would go, so I did. I wasn’t good company to say the least, and I know I was closing myself off, but I felt like that was the only way to hold myself together. I am not a person who is good at expressing my emotions, and I never let myself cry in front of others if I can help it. I texted my friend later that night to say I was sorry for my behavior, I’ve just been struggling lately. She read my text… but she didn’t respond.

I’m not mad or upset with her, I just wish I could show her it wasn’t intentional. I told my mom about it and she was surprised. I was a little shocked that she was surprised. I have lost many friends because of depression, and while I’m not sure I completely lost her, I know I hurt her. I take responsibility for some of the friends I have lost, some I couldn’t do anything about, and some left for their own reasons. Most people who I let into my life leave because life gets hard, my depression drags me back into the safety of the dark, or because they can’t handle being around me with my life being so complicated. Not that I ever asked for them to be involved, but I understand that some people feel the responsibility and they don’t want that.

I can’t make people understand my life or my choices, and I don’t expect them to. All I ask is that they accept that this is just the way things are. I won”t ask permission, nor will I seek acceptance. I will make the decisions that need to be made. I will pick up the pieces when things fall apart or the temporary glue that held everything together no longer keeps the pieces together. I do not expect help, nor will I ask most of the time. I am not looking to be saved or rescued, I have been independent and self-sufficient for a long time. All I ask is that those who love me stand by me. If that is too much, I understand. I am not mad, I just hate being abandoned all of a sudden. And, being lied to is absolutely unacceptable.

I have not been off meds in four years. I do not know exactly what to expect when I am off them, but I do know that I will not be exactly the same. I will be challenging and not the easiest to be around. I will do everything in my power to control it, but I will slip up.

My mom had lectured me about going off my medication, and at this point, I am not sure she will allow me to go off of it. If I do, I am sorry to everyone for the change in my behavior, I will just need adjustment time.

My mom’s lecture was part of the reason I am writing this. She thinks my decision is reckless. I understand this. She also thinks my reasons for wanting to attempt going off my medication are because I am ashamed, or think it’s wrong to be on it, or that I just want to please my psychiatrist, or that I want to be normal. I was a little hurt by that, but I understand that she is concerned and does not want my reasoning to be silly reasons such as those. I am not naive, I know it will be hard. It will be one of the most difficult fights I have faced in quite awhile and it will hurt like hell, but I don’t remember how I felt before meds, the good and the bad. I am afraid that if I don’t try going off my meds, I will not remember how to feel. It’s scary not having really lived much of a life without feeling like the only reason I was “happy” was because of my medication. Is that stupid? Maybe. But, when things were bad and I was getting on my meds, I didn’t feel anything. All I knew was apathy. I slept more, I ate more, I had less nightmares, I started socializing a little more, I was more proactive, etc. But, I didn’t feel anything. After a while, I started to feel better. Not necessarily happy, just better. The scary part to that though, is I was never sure if I was actually happy or if the permanent feeling of “better” was simply my medication. I am not sure I really ever stopped surviving and started living. I am scared I don’t know what it’s really like to feel anymore. I am sure this sounds ridiculous, and I probably seem naive. I may even seem stupid for being willing to face my depression and lose any feeling of “better”. Is it wrong to want to feel things without the cloak of medication? The answer I will get from my mom is no, it is not wrong, but any feelings of happiness will most likely be drowned and it is better that you stay on the mood stabilizer. Part of me thinks she is right… actually most of my knows she is right. Why go along with going off your medication then? Maybe it’s my fear, but that small, doubting part of me keeps nagging at me.

I want everyone to know that taking medication should never be a source of shame and if you need medication, you need it. Simple as that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing medication. And normal, that is simply a societal concept that should not have any impact on your decisions. (Besides, with our society, normal seems to be more of a derogatory term rather than something to be proud of.)

Life is hard. There are always problems, we cannot change that nor can we prevent that. We simply must continue to live our lives as best we can. We persist, keep moving, keep trudging along because that’s what people do. Things do get better, but there’s never a guarantee it will stay. We simply have to find our silver linings. Life is hard, sometimes even impossible it seems, but one thing that is always out of the question is giving up. We can be done with our problems, with everything, with life, but that does not mean we stop.

“You’re so much stronger than all of the white noise… Don’t let go.”- Jughead Jones 👑

Music always makes me feel better, so here is a link to another song I like, and I also think it fits with this post.

-Noelle

How do you do it?

I started watching 13 Reasons Why at the recommendation of countless friends, including my best friend. I admit I was actually very intrigued by the show and I got hooked because I, like everyone else, wanted to understand why Hannah Baker completed suicide. There is a lot to say about the show, but I don’t quite know how to articulate it intelligently and I think I need to ponder it more before I give my opinion.

The show got me thinking about the past and it really brought me back to my brother’s suicide attempt. I have so many emotions about the struggles that have occurred in my family’s lives, especially about that evening. I actually wrote a paper about that night and my teacher told me I made her cry. I didn’t write it to move people though, I wrote it because I needed to talk about it. I needed to explain to someone. I needed to tell what I saw and all the emotions I never voiced. That night is not brought up much in my family, mainly because it was such a horrific time and we lived it so why recount what happened? My family has always supported me and my mom was always willing to discuss anything with me, but I’ve never been very good at talk therapy, I have always found more success with healing through my writing.

A lot happened the night of Ryan’s suicide attempt and, recently, when I think of that night I also think of my grandmother. We had been living in my grandmother’s basement for awhile before Ryan’s suicide attempt. At first I thought that living with my grandmother wouldn’t be so bad, but I was wrong. I was miserable there. My family was miserable too. When you have no where else to go though, it’s hard to complain. My grandma, my mom’s mom, had been like most grandma’s, she spoiled us with gifts and treats, and obviously us kids took that for her showing her affection. I love my grandma and I used to think about how lucky I was to have a grandma who loved me so much. My whole view of her changed after that night. I lost any respect I ever had for my grandma and I felt hurt in a way I never thought she’d hurt me. I lost my grandma that night, but I wouldn’t realize that till later.

That night, my mom and Ryan were in the “kitchen” (there was no separate kitchen space… nor do I think it could really qualify as a kitchen) and I was in my bedroom with my younger brothers. Ryan was about 13 years old, I was 11, Aidan was 7, and Liam was 6. I am amazed at how young that seems to me now, but at that time neither Ryan nor I felt like kids. As Ryan was breaking down, my mom was trying to calm him down and get everything under control while worrying about Aidan, Liam, and me. I took care of Aidan and Liam until my mom’s friend came to take over. I blasted music, played games, and distracted them as best I could. When my mom’s friend took over, I walked out of my room to check on my mom and Ryan and watched as my mom tried to keep my brother from going through with his plan. Later in the night, the paramedics arrived and my started tending to Ryan. He was situated on the couch when my grandma came down. She sat down next to him and tried to hold his hand, but he pulled away. My grandma responded with: “Now you won’t even hold my hand?”, then storming upstairs like a scolded child, passing right by me without a glance.

I have been angry with my grandma for many reasons, but I find that as much as I try to forgive her, I never truly get past it. Part of me thinks it is because I never said this to her face, but a part of me never wants to because I don’t want to hear her excuses, why I am wrong, why she is the victim, etc. I try to separate my feelings from my grandma, not because she deserves forgiveness, but because I need to move on. This is the tip of the iceberg in my reasons for being angry with my grandma, but that is what ensured I’d never be able to really think of her as my grandma again. I have thought a lot about why I am upset with my grandma and I realized that I am right to be upset with her. I should not feel guilty for being angry. I should not feel obligated to forgive her. I do not need to respect her because she never gave me a reason to. It is okay to be angry with her for saying that to Ryan. It is okay to be angry with her for not helping me take care of my siblings. It is okay to be angry with her for walking past me without a thought. It is okay to be angry with her for never showing up. It is okay for me to be angry with her for using her illness as an excuse not to watch my siblings’ soccer games when all the other kid’s grandparents came. It is okay to be angry at her for driving up to 45 minutes to go gamble and meet friends, but not be willing to drive the 10 minutes to come to my siblings’ awards ceremonies, concerts, or games. I am allowed to be mad at her for insulting my mom to us. I am allowed to be mad that she kept her bottles of vodka next to the one bottle of juice she brought for my siblings. I am allowed to be angry at her for being an alcoholic who couldn’t go to a restaurant without a bar and who’s first concern in the morning was vodka and lime juice. I should be angry at her for never caring enough to ask about our lives. I am angry at her. I have been angry at her for years, but then again, anger is hurt’s bodyguard.

I remember venting about this to friends and being asked “how can you talk about your grandma like that?”. This happened whenever I told the truth about my relatives. How dare I tell the truth about how they behave? How dare I be so blunt? How dare I not cover up their unacceptable behavior in front of other people? I have actually had friends make excuses for my relatives. I have had friends defend my relatives to me, like I was the one in the wrong. I will not sugar coat my relatives behavior, nor will I make excuses for them. I will not lie about who they are and how they act. I will not let my “friends” tell me what I mean to say, defend my relatives to me, make me believe my feelings about certain situations are wrong, or allow them to tell me that distancing myself from those who cause me pain is wrong because they are family. I will not let anyone make me feel like I need permission for feeling.

Never let anyone tell you how to feel or who to be. Never let anyone make you feel like you are in the wrong for trying to make the best life for yourself and those you love. Family is so much more than genetics. Family does not mean someone can treat you however they please. In the same way, friends should never try and change you or explain your feelings for you. You are the only one who knows how you feel and no one should ever try to explain your feelings for you.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

Be odd. Be different. Be an enigma. (Normal is only a concept anyway).

Recommend: I’ve been listening to this song often since my friend performed an amazing dance to it. Click here to listen. I will warn you, it is a bit of an acquired taste, but there’s something about it that I really like.

— Noelle

A different kind of fake

Life at home has always been difficult and lately Aidan has been having the majority of the difficulty as his medication is out of balance and he is growing. I know he tries and he can’t control his emotions most of the time. He goes to school and keeps everything inside, but at home is when all the issues come out and his trouble is apparent. Aidan’s teachers always say how he’s such a good kid, so well behaved, so kind, so helpful, etc., which is all true but there is a reason he is medicated and attending a therapeutic day school. Aidan is such a wonderful kid with a heart of gold and I am so lucky to have such a great kid for my brother. Aidan acted out a little bit at school recently and everyone there was shocked, but what happened was not even close to what happens at home on a daily basis. I used to have a hard time dealing with Ryan and Aidan when they got home from school, I still do, but I understand it more now than I used to.

Recently I was talking with a friend at school and he was making fun of me like usual, but he brought up another topic on that particular day… white supremacy. My friend is Indian and we get along really well and I do consider him to be one of my close friends, but I got angry with him that day. He started on about white supremacy and I didn’t object because I agreed. But, he then went on to tell me that I didn’t know what it was like to struggle and that it was obvious I didn’t have any real problems. Normally I just ignore these comments, but I was not in a very good mood that day and, I’ll be honest, I was a little hurt because it had come from him. I trust him and we’ve become kind of close, so to have yet another person tell me that my life is piece of cake was not only aggravating, but hurtful as well.

I didn’t tell him it hurt me and I didn’t tell him more about my life because I didn’t need to prove myself to him and he didn’t want to hear it anyway. Some people believe what they want to. Some people believe that they know best about everything, even when it comes to someone else’s life. So, I said nothing. I didn’t tell him that my brother has threatened suicide multiple times. I didn’t tell him that my brother attempted suicide. I didn’t tell him that my younger brother has suffered suicidal ideation since he was seven. I didn’t tell him that I took care of my siblings when my mom took care of either Ryan or Aidan when they were struggling. I didn’t tell him that I saw my brother try to take his own life. I didn’t tell him about the part of my childhood that I spent sitting in the lobby of a mental health hospital. I didn’t tell him all the other issues in my life. I didn’t tell him anything. My friend continued, telling me why I couldn’t have real problems starting with the color of my skin. “You’re white, you always smile, I never see you get angry or upset… you’re privileged”, etc. It’s true, I don’t show my emotions at school, I am white, I do smile a lot, and I am more privileged than many. The color of my skin doesn’t cause me problems, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have any. I do smile a lot, but sometimes it is because I can escape from all my issues at school and I can go back to pretending I am okay.  I don’t show negative emotions at school, but I have many reasons for doing that. I have many reasons for doing what I do. I do what I do because of what I have been through. I am who I am because of my experiences. I’m kind because of my family. Everything that I am leads back to them. So, yes I do fake my way through the days, but I am a different kind of fake. I am sure many of you are the same way. I do pretend things are okay, I don’t just let anyone into my life. I fake my way through the days because it’s easier. I’m not naive, I know I will be judged, but remember that I am more than what you see.

Life has thrown so much at all of us and we all handle it in different ways. Some of us have been hurt and now hide ourselves away. Some of us become bitter and blame everyone for our troubles. Some of us find outlets for our pain and trouble, some good and some bad. We all have ways of going about our lives despite the trouble we face. I have no right to judge anyone, but I would be a liar if I said I haven’t or don’t anymore. I have my moments. Sometimes I overhear people complain about how they have to share their car with their sibling, or that they weren’t allowed to go to that party they wanted to go to, or how their biggest problem right now is that they can’t get the makeup they wanted because it’s too expensive and their allowance only stretches so far. I am ashamed to admit that I have judged these people and actually wanted to have their problems sometimes. To have my biggest problem be makeup, like who doesn’t want that? Despite it all though, I love my life. I love my family. I love who they are and I am proud of them. I don’t trust people with my real life for many reasons, but none of those reasons are because of my family. I could never be more proud of them and I will never ever be ashamed of them. I love it when my dad walks me to school. I love going for coffee with my mom instead of going to that party that person invited me to. I love that my brothers want me to walk them to the bus. I love it when they sing with me. I love it when they get excited to tell me about something they did earlier that day.

Do not let anyone ever tell you your problems aren’t real. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about complaining about your problems. Don’t let anyone make you feel that your problems are stupid. Life is hard. It is okay to complain. Throw your little tantrum and when you’re done, pick yourself up, treat yourself to something, and continue with your day. There are always going to be obstacles, but there will always be something good too. Your life will go in directions you don’t want it to or never expected it to, but something good will always come out of it, even if it is the smallest thing.

My brothers have taught me many things, but the most important of all is that you should never be something you aren’t. It may be hard to be yourself, but it is even harder to be someone you are not. And, not nearly as satisfying. 🙂

Stay safe.

— Noelle

A single story

Is a single story “dangerous” or is it “powerful”? Or maybe it’s both. This question was recently brought up in my English class where we discussed both the power and the danger. Some say it is dangerous because maybe the whole story is not being told, or because it is the only story being told, so everyone who has had a similar experience is assumed to have the same story. Some say it is powerful because you can understand someone’s viewpoint and empathize with those who have similar experiences. Personally, I think that there is truth to both. A single story may not tell the whole situation, but no one experiences things in the same way, even people who endure the same things, still experience them in different ways.

I’ve heard many stories of similar experiences and in many ways it has been helpful, but some of the stories you hear not only break your heart, but you wish you never had to hear again. Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works. In some ways, you never truly can say you know what someone is going through because you haven’t experienced that situation in the same way they have, you can only try your best to relate and empathize. This is only my opinion though, I can not, of course, say this as a fact.

Some days, I wish I could just take a break from my life. I don’t mean to say that I wish my life were different or that I even wish I could change the hardships that my family and I have endured. I don’t think I would change any of it. I feel guilty sometimes when I say that because I never want my family to experience the pain they felt so strongly, and still feel so strongly sometimes, ever again. I never want to watch my brother attempt to take his own life again. Or watch my little brother feel the pain of loneliness. I never want to see my mom have panic attacks on a daily basis ever again. I never want to see that look on my dad’s face ever again, the face he had when he finally accepted the brokenness that was our family and that his son was really suffering from a severe mental illness. Never again do I wish to see the helplessness on my parents’ faces. The look of terror on my younger brothers’ faces. Never again… do I wish to feel the pain, horror, and anxiety, of knowing that I could never make my younger siblings forget about that day, and know that I could never help my older brother not feel that pain. Despite ALL of that, those experiences made us into the people we are now, and I’m really proud of who we are now, so how could I change that if I had the option to? If any of you could change the hardships you endured, would you? The ones that changed you forever?

The reason I brought up the topic of a single story is because lately, I’ve heard too many stories of suicidal ideation. Thankfully, none of the stories I’ve heard have the people acted on their thoughts. But, I have known too many people that have. Two of the recent stories I’ve heard are of people I am friends with. One told me in private, while the other told a group of their friends, including me. The way one of my friends talked about himself made me start to cry…(thankfully it was sent in a group chat so no one saw me cry). It was really hard to hear how he felt about himself when I feel the complete opposite about him. I wish there was some way that I could change how he feels about himself. Unfortunately, the only thing I can do is support him. My friend had sent a message in the group chat that made all of his friends concerned. We had all texted to make sure he was okay… He wasn’t responding. We all waited with anxiety until he finally messaged back about a half hour later. It felt like an eternity. The relief when he messaged back was unbelievable… It felt like I could breathe again. I cried for a couple hours afterwards and, in all honesty, I don’t remember how long it has been since I cried like that. I felt stupid for crying to hard, but I think a lot of my tears were from the memories that wouldn’t leave my head. I could see me standing and watching my brother attempt suicide. I still cry over it, and I don’t know if I’ll ever think about it without crying.

Life is a challenge for everyone and there are days when the world can only be viewed as, for the lack of better words, f**ked up… it is cruel, unfair, and just plain terrible. But every once in a while, there is something that makes us remember that there is still some good in humanity, even if it does not “out weigh” the bad.

I try my hardest to live by this quote: “Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.”(Or a lot harder) -Unknown

Sometimes it is truly amazing to me that any one can wake up in the morning and still feel like there is a reason to get out of bed when they know that it is yet another day of struggles. There is nothing braver than continuing to do what you must everyday despite the feelings that tell you it is no use. I hope everyone knows that you are always cared about by someone. You are priceless… There will truly be no one like you ever again. You are worth the time, effort, love, and care.

“Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”- Markus Zusak

-Noelle

 

 

 

 

I have a black dog

I have a black dog. This is how depression was explained in a video my mom showed to me. It was a great video really and explained depression rather well. I remember those feelings clearly… The feelings of hopelessness and emptiness. Feelings of sadness and loneliness, even in crowded rooms, perhaps more so in those crowded rooms. I never expected the world to be so colorless. I never expected that gray would be the color I related to most. I never wanted to make a fake self to present to the world. I never wanted, nor expected, to have a black dog called depression.

The way I saw the world was like the setting in the Hunger Games mixed with the setting of George Orwell’s 1984. I never thought I’d know what happiness is. Happiness eluded me, hiding behind the shadows… The tunnel I could never pass through to get to the light. I could never grasp how people were so happy in the world I saw. I realize now that it’s because the world is not how I saw it before, it’s beautiful despite some people who make me think back to the world I used to see.

I realized now that life is too short to be anything but happy. I don’t want to think back and remember the years I spent suspended in gray. I want to remember the time I made the freshman soccer team at my high school. I want to remember the time my best friend and I went tubing in the lake, even when I thought I’d have a panic attack, and feeling so accomplished afterwards that I didn’t. I want to remember the feeling I get when I take the soccer field… The excitement and determination as my fears leave me, which my best friend helped me with. I don’t want to only remember the feeling of loneliness as I cry in my bedroom alone. I don’t want to forget anything, but I don’t want to only remember my pain, I want to make memories that I can look back on and be happy about.

Depressed people may push you away, but it’s not because they are “becoming someone else” or because they are just being “hard to deal with”. There are many reasons they may push you away. Maybe because they don’t want to be a burden, or maybe they don’t feel like anyone could understand, or maybe even because they feel that you would be happier without them weighing you down. It depends on the person, but I know that I had multiple reasons for pushing people away. A lot of depressed people have no idea that they are depressed… They just know that their world is crumbling and nothing they do can stop or fix it. Many people do not want to tell people about their depression because they think people will see them differently.

In all honesty, people will see you differently and they can’t help it. But, the people who really know and care about you will look at you as they always have, perhaps with a little sadness that you endured so long alone, but they won’t look at you in a bad way at all. I know that people watch me a little more carefully now, attempting to assess my feelings, but only if I’m upset. It may be a little hard  at times to deal with their looks and glances, but just realize that they only want to make sure that you are not getting to the point of not being able to handle your depression. I get those looks a lot when I’m upset, but it reminds me that they will never let me go to that dark place alone again, and they only want to help. It reminds me that they love me despite my depression. They don’t hold it against me if I take my irritation out on them out of nowhere and always forgive me when I tell them I’m sorry about it all… They understand that I will always have those days now and then.

Depression never leaves… You just learn to live despite it. Depression is not something you deal with alone… You need help, support, maybe therapy, and most of all, you need to believe that you can move on. You are not doomed to a life of bland sadness where the sunshine doesn’t make you look outside and smile. Things get better, life becomes brighter, clearer, and holds more possibilities. Never forget that taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one minute at a time, is more than okay. The baby steps are not nothing and the time it takes to make that move does not mean you aren’t working harder than you ever have.

Start by doing something small. Maybe going on a walk. Then do something small once a week, then maybe once a day, and then you can work towards the bigger things. Do what you need to take care of yourself. Make a playlist of your favorite music, read a book, take a break from people and just relax, take a nap, etc. Giving someone a 20 second hug releases a natural antidepressant in your body, so maybe find someone to hug. Sing a song. Do something that will not make you overwhelmed and go from there.

You are too amazing to live in a colorless world.

Click here is the link to the video about depression explained using a black dog.

-Noelle

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is something I’ve never had to deal with, but my older brother Ryan does. He deals with it everyday. It is amazing when I think about it. Really amazing. My older brother has struggled with this illness since he was 7 years old. He has been hospitalized 5 times. Three of those times he was inpatient and the other two were outpatient. For those of you not familiar with exactly what that means, inpatient is when you stay at the hospital for as long as necessary. Could be days, weeks, or months. Outpatient is when you go throughout the day, and it’s like going to school almost, you do group and other stuff like that though. We saw him whenever possible, and to be honest, it was horrible. It sounds bad when I put it like that, but seeing him in the mental hospital was one of the most miserable experiences I’ve ever had. He sat there miserable, hating everything and everyone most of the time, especially me. I saw an empty shell of the brother I knew, like he was never really there. He refused to talk to me, threw me glares that showed only intense loathing for me. I’ll be honest when I say that it hurt, really hurt, to know that the brother who used to play with me, and try and cheer me up when I was down, had only one feeling towards me. Hatred, pure and simple. I was so hurt and angry, not really at him, more at myself than anyone, but that’s how I showed my pain. I lashed out at him, said things I could never mean and knew would not make a difference to him until later on when I saw what I really wanted him to feel, or I thought I did.

I hear people talk about mental hospitals like it’s a joke. They say loony bin, and crazy asylums, and I get so angry with them for that. These people are human beings just like you, they are just struggling with stuff you couldn’t imagine dealing with. They wake up getting ready for the new fight today that no one sees. Every. Single. Day. They get up and face whatever comes their way, and that is one of the most courageous things I have ever witnessed. The mental hospitals my brother stayed at look just like hospital, just without as much medical equipment. Mental hospitals now don’t look like those scary places you see in horror movies.

Back to Ryan… It was at the age of 10 when things got really bad. I remember he was getting bullied pretty badly in 5th grade when he went to school for the first time. (He was homeschooled up till then, like I was.) One time he came home really angry, I saw him from the window. The moment he walked in, he lost it, I mean completely lost it. I never knew how badly Ryan had been bullied until that day. He started balling his eyes out when he walked in. Turns out some kids at school kicked the crap out of his bike. I remember very few times when I got that angry or felt that much hatred towards others at the age of 8. I wanted to punch someone for doing that to Ryan, like he hadn’t been through enough, but I doubt anyone would be scared of a small 8 year old girl. He has been bullied a couple times now, and every time he has, I want to punch that person, make them feel the same pain he is in, but that’s not the right way to deal with things.

Another time, he came home from school, threw down his backpack, went up to his room without saying a word and slammed his door. Then all of a sudden, we heard, boom boom boom. He has taken one of my dad’s hammers and bashed a hole in his wall. He never did something like that though, because he never wanted to let any of his friends see something like that. He’s very smart though, and bashed a hole behind his door, so no one would see it. A little while later, he attempted suicide. I remember watching my mom try and calm him down after I had helped settle my little brothers upstairs. I don’t know what I thought, like if it did happen somehow, at least I was there and could try and help. I stayed invisible as always though, up on the top of the stairs, waiting without making a sound.That was one of the worst times in my life. He attempted suicide again at the age of 13, and again at the age of 16.

Ryan experienced a lot during those bad times, and he went through some bad episodes. He experienced psychosis and hallucinations. I remember him sitting on the couch for hours staring at a wall, never moving, just staring at nothing. His eyes were completely empty, not with a far off look, just empty. He heard voices and you could always tell when he heard them… he would stop whatever he was doing and be completely still with a look in his eyes that I can’t quite explain, but it was like someone hearing their name called in the distance… like someone straining to hear what a person was saying, trying to decipher their words.

My advice for anyone who knows someone with Schizophrenia is to remember that what ever is going on with that person has nothing to do with you. They may take out their problems on you, and they may blame you for things, but it has nothing to do with you. I can also say that as hard as it is not to get angry with them, try not to….. they don’t mean to hurt you, they just can’t help it. That doesn’t mean you should excuse their behavior because they have Schizophrenia, it just means that they do need you to be a little extra patient with them. You are just as big a priority as they are, and it’s really hard caring for someone with a mental illness, so take some breaks and separate yourself from all the stress and negative feelings. Relax. People who care for someone with a mental illness often need more breaks than other people. I know that life is extremely difficult when you have a mental illness or just caring for someone with a mental illness, both are extremely hard, and it’s more than fine to ask for help. But even in the hardest times, just remember… “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”-Winnie the Pooh. Things will always get better, even when it seems like life is against you, stay strong, it will get better.

Click here to watch a video about a boy named Jacob Bowman who is Schizophrenic. (Warning: He does swear quite often, but he really shows what it’s like to have Schizophrenia.)

Thanks for reading,

Noelle

Anger and resentment

A little while ago, I received my high school entrance exam scores back. I did really well, better than most people expected. My mom is so proud, she kept telling me how amazing my scores were. I naturally said that they were good, but I could have done better. Thats when she said something that, I have to admit, took me by suprise. She said, “You are extraordinary. You have been through so much, and you aren’t resentful or angry.”. She was referring to the journey through my brothers’ mental illnesses, and all our moves and changes. She has called me extraordinary, and kind things like that before, but she has never brought up my anger or resentment before. In all honesty, she wasn’t right, it pains me to say that because I never should have been resentful towards them, but I was. My mom told me that it took her over 20 years to not be resentful towards her mom, I understood why, but she had a good reason. I don’t have a good reason other than selfishness. I am resentful, mean, and angry towards my older brother for a long time, and it was unfair. I could be as angry as I wanted, but what was being mean and resentful doing? Nothing, except making myself miserable and hurting someone I should have helped take care of. Instead, I left everything to my mom, who had panic attacks on a regular basis now. There were, and are, so many things to worry about, especially when you weren’t sure you would have a place to live in a few months. I look back now, and realize that, my mom was functioning with all of that on her shoulders, but I couldn’t function at all.

My mom told me there was nothing wrong with being angry, it was understandable why I was. She’s right, even having a loved one with a mental illness takes a toll on the people around them. I do hate the way I was toward my older brother, but I know that it all happened because I never said how I felt. I rarely do. It’s okay to be angry, but that doesn’t give you the right to be cruel. Whether your sibling, parent, aunt/uncle, or grandparent is the one suffering from a mental illness, it does take a toll on you, and other people they associate with. It’s okay to be upset, angry, frustrated, etc.. It’s natural. You can’t let resentment keep you from having relationships though.

I know it’s hard, and to be quite honest, miserable. Sometimes that’s all I felt… It does get better, but I know from experience that someone telling you that, doesn’t always help. It is the truth, even if it doesn’t feel like it now, it will get better. I can’t tell you how to deal with your stuff, I still struggle to deal with my own, but I know it gets better.  I can’t tell you when either, but you have to believe that the horrible feeling you may feel at this moment will go away. There is a quote I love, I repeat it to myself whenever I feel like I can’t deal anymore. “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” ~Ed Sheeran. You aren’t alone in what you feel or go through. Maybe your friends won’t understand, maybe people will judge, (That’s what humans do best right?), there are a lot of things that may happen, but there will always be at least one person who understands what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to share your story though, no matter what anyone thinks, they can think what they want… what matters is what you think, not them. Click here to listen to Simple as this by Jake Bugg. (One of my favorite songs.)

The need to feel loved

Love makes us do crazy things. Things that, normally, would never occur to us. Although some of us might not realize it, we have a need to feel loved. For some, the feeling is stronger than it is for others. I know the feeling and to be honest, it sucks. Everyone in some way, shape, or form, is looking for love from someone. Whether it’s friends, family, boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, or even from ourselves, we still look for someone who will love us under any circumstance. There are few people who have been able to start loving themselves and then the feeling of needing love outside of yourself might not be there anymore, but we all look for someone to love us. I felt unloved sometimes, but I realized that I was looking to the wrong people. I used to look to my grandma for love because that was where I never felt any. After talking with my mom, I realized my grandma wasn’t really capable of love and the only person I was disappointing was myself. I had to accept that I couldn’t make her love me if she isn’t able to love anybody except for herself.

Some mentally ill people especially struggle with this. The best thing you can do is show them you love them. Don’t just tell them because you can tell someone you love them a million times, but if you start treating them like garbage, are they really going to feel loved? You have to show that you care through your actions. People may not always feel your love or feel your company, but the best you can do is try every time you have the opportunity, to show them you care and you are there for them. I also attached a song. Click here to listen.

~~Noelle

Suicide

Recently I have been struggling more than usual, and I have seen news reports about all these suicides, and it’s painful to watch. My depression right now is starting to take control and I am just trying to keep it together, so seeing all these people killing themselves is heart-breaking and I can’t even imagine being in that place again. I really just wanted to try and help others see what, now, I can finally see. When my brother attempted it, I thought it was selfish and I was angry with him. I didn’t understand how depression could do that, I thought he just cared even less about us than before. I’m sorry I ever blamed him because now, I finally see what I never could before.

Depression is unbelievable in what it can do to you. The life is sucked out of you and those thoughts in your head that told you people love you and everything will be okay, change. You feel alone, like the sun will never shine again, no one cares about you, “you’re stupid, etc.” repeat over and over. It makes you hate yourself, until sometimes this feels like it is the only way out. Suicide isn’t selfish, it’s misunderstood. Depression is like living abused, hated, neglected, with no one who cared or understood; Would you go on living like that with no change in sight?

A mom recently committed suicide and someone decided to make a comment. The comment was ‘How could someone do that to their kids? I have clinical depression and I haven’t done that.’ This is infuriating! How could you say something like that if you struggled with it yourself?!? Suicide isn’t someone trying to hurt others, it is just part of the outcome. It’s all heartbreaking, for the kids, for the husband and for the mom. She was in pain, that’s why she did it. 

My advice if you know someone struggling and they seem to be getting worse, just let them know you’re there. If they start saying things or doing things that suggest they might try and hurt themselves, tell someone. If you are struggling with it and feel it’s just getting worse, let a parent know. If you feel like you are going to kill yourself, tell your parents you need help right away or call here. 

You are not alone, no matter how much it feels like you are. Please try and remember that if you know someone who committed suicide, they didn’t mean to hurt you, that wasn’t a goal for them. Suicide is misunderstood because some people just don’t understand what it’s like and it’s really hard to understand when you have never dealt with it before. I also wanted to add a song I love to listen to when I feel depressed.Tomorrow is gonna be better by Joshua Radin 

~~Noelle