Instagram Isn’t Real

by: Alicia M. Blanco

IG

You are beautiful.

…without a filter.

Which leads me to this:

I LOVE me some instagram… it’s honestly my social media of choice. I love looking at pictures and posting pictures…

but it isn’t real! Not all the time.

Stop scrolling through it and comparing yourself to someone’s best version of themselves. You can bet they are ALSO going through some tough stuff, just like you. No one ACTUALLY posts the sucky stuff that’s actually going on.

It’s always a “booked it!” (after not booking five jobs before that one) and “selfie!” (which probably took over 70+ attempts before getting the right angle AND editing it with the right filter) and “on vacation, again!” (its like, where did they get the income to afford to go there, and there, with them, and those people, so often, and I’m over here trying to pay rent?)

I read an awesome blog just a few weeks ago called “What I Instagrammed vs What Was REALLY Happening” and it was soooo HILARIOUS and TRUE. So here it is. READ IT!! So damn good. Applause! I am so obsessed with great blogs. When I see a good one, I can’t help but to repost it. I just want to share the love and keep the wave going.

Imagine a world with no filters… just 100% honesty, transparency, realness.

Something tells me the statistics in depression would decrease if people didn’t have so much comparison throughout their days.

“Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes stuff to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

The Random Act of Kindness That Saved My Life

by: Anonymous Author

lonelygirl

An act of kindness saved my life. I realize how bold this statement is, but it’s entirely true. Three years ago today I had planned to end my life after school.

I was lonely, angry and bitter after spending so many years feeling unseen. I spent most of my high school years as an outcast who nobody wanted anything to do with. I never went to any dances. I never went to any high school football games and I always sat by myself at lunch. It wasn’t entirely the fault of my peers. I just never felt comfortable in large crowds because of severe anxiety, so I shut down.  I was socially awkward and didn’t want to put myself in uncomfortable settings where I would be forced to talk. So I “protected” myself from that entirely and avoided people altogether. It started my freshman year and by my junior year nothing had changed.  Time moved so quickly and I had single handily placed myself so deeply into this “protective” space that I closed off any real chance of friendship. And by then, everyone already had their set “cliques” established on campus leaving no more room for a new friend.

At home my life was also falling apart. My parents were going through a divorce, and everyday was filled with yelling, fights, and one or both of them slamming doors — or leaving. So that’s what I wanted to do — to leave. Forever.

I wanted it to be quick and easy. I planned to overdose on a ton of pills that night and hopefully just die in my sleep. But I still wanted to finish off the week at school and say my “goodbyes” in my head: Goodbye to sitting alone; Goodbye to walking alone; Goodbye to the school hallways that overflowed with students and teachers, but was empty of awareness and kindness.

So the next day at school I followed through with my routine. I walked the same exact way that I always did to each class. I sat in the same exact desk in all my classes. And I planned to walk home the same way I walked everyday for three years.

But today was different. I decided to walk home a different way. I don’t know why I decided to take the longer route but it’s a decision that impacted my story profoundly.

As I turned the corner into my neighborhood a dog came running up to me and started to playfully attack me. The dog was pretty big so he startled me and my books fell to the ground as he jumped up to greet me, eye to eye.  Just then, the dogs owner came running behind him. “Sit, Kermit! Sit!” I smirked as I started to pick up my books but Kermit’s owner stopped me. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! Let me get those for you! Sorry! Kermit’s just a big puppy and very playful. Did he ruin anything? I feel so bad! He didn’t scratch you did he? Are you cool? OMG I love your shoes by the way.  And your orange backpack too, orange is my favorite color.”

No one had ever asked me that many questions in a row, let alone cared, or looked at me while talking to me. I didn’t know what to do.

“I’m fine. I’m ok. Thank you. And cute dog.” That was all I could think to say as I turned to walk away.

“Wait! Whats your name? Kermit obviously really likes you! I’m Samantha or Sammy – just call me Sammy. Do you go to Desert Ridge High?”

Again, I was shocked. I told her my name. She told me how she stayed home from school that day because she wasn’t feeling good. And before I knew it we had spent like 20 minutes talking… and even laughing. We had never seen each other at school before (though I wasn’t really surprised that she never saw me- because no one did right?) Regardless, she kept asking me more and more questions and seemed genuinely interested in anything and everything I had to say. We ended up getting each others phone numbers and she actually text me that night to apologize again for Kermit running up and startling. Little did she know that I would secretly always love that dog for running up to me on that day. Of all days!!

It felt so cool to be texting with someone my age — a new friend. That night I didn’t take the pills like I planned to. I was too busy texting with Sammy. Something so simple that most teenagers do obsessively, but I had never truly done before, with a friend.

Sammy and I had lunch together the next day at school. And the next day after that too. Her friends became my friends and before long, we were hanging out all the time and I felt like I belonged, for the first time in my life.

Things at home still sucked. Mom and dad finalized their divorce by the end of the school year, but for some reason, I knew it would be ok. I had a new sense of belonging and security with my new friends, my first real friends, and all because Sammy put in the extra effort to talk to me that day.

Even today, Sam doesn’t know the state of mind I had on that day. She has no idea that i was ever depressed or suicidal – and I don’t know that I will ever tell her. But her kindness literally saved my life and I will forever be grateful to any kind hearted person I meet. I consider kind people with kind hearts to be angels. I mean, she didn’t have to engage in conversation with me. She could’ve easily grabbed her dog, apologized to me, and then walked away. But she didn’t. And because she didn’t, I didn’t follow through with my plans to end my life that night. Simple as that.

Today, I’m an entirely different person. College is going great and I have the confidence to be around people unlike I was in high school. In fact, I have the passion to be around people because I am aware that there is a dire need for socialization and interaction – simply because you never know who is out there feeling lost and alone like I was. I try to be the same way Sammy was with me three years ago. I make it a point to put in the extra effort to be kind to everyone I meet, because it just might be a game changer or a life saver to them like it was for me. Paying it forward and being kind has become my passion and purpose in life and I pray that anyone who is reading this story and can relate, has the courage to share their story and help this wave grow even bigger.

3 Ways To Cope

by: Carolina Guzman

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It’s normal to feel anxious on occasion. That’s just a part of life. Maybe we have an upcoming event we are in charge of, an important deadline, or we’re anxious to hear back from a potential employer after an interview. But imagine feeling anxious most of the time out of your day… or out of your life. That’s what most of my life has consisted of.

I remember one of the very first times my anxiety started bothering me. I was 7. I remember sitting down in my room and thinking “what’s going to happen when I die? Who will take care of my stuff? Can I come back to visit?”  It seems innocent enough to have an imagination like this as a child, but I clearly remember feeling excruciating tension in my muscles and shortness of breath from these thoughts.

At thirteen, I had my first real anxiety attack.

I completely broke down. I felt so much fear and did not know why and as a result, my breathing became more and more difficult and my body felt out of control. It was one of the most traumatic nights of my life.

A few months later, I started suffering from OCD and feeling the need to organize things a certain way and touch certain things before leaving a room, (or else everything would fall apart!) In my mind, this was reality.

At one point I was given homeopathic medication, which helped, but only temporarily. The OCD went away, but the anxiety always remained. Knowing it could surface at any random moment in time also gave me anxiety too! What a trap.

Finally, as an adult, I sought out professional help and even went to a few workshops addressing mental health, illness and disorders in hopes of getting some more answers. It was there that I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and was given options to take prescribed medications.

But by now I had suffered enough and been under the control of my mental illness. The last thing I wanted was to develop a dependency on medication and be under its control too. Right then and there I committed to change my lifestyle and see if I could take my control back on my own. (Note: I am NOT against taking medicine with mental illnesses especially. I just knew that for ME and my illness, I wanted to control it myself if i could.) It was my one last shot.

Here are the 3 ways I naturally gained control of my anxiety and decreased the amount of anxiety attacks I suffered from:

1) Working out regularly. – This should come as no surprise. When you exercise regularly, your body releases endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain and reduces pain, stress and anxiety levels. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, too. The more positive I became, the less I felt compelled to over analyze and worry… this meant less and less anxiety attacks!

2) Eating healthier/changing my diet. – Once I started working out, my diet changed too. I began feeling so much happier as I sought out different diets to follow and recipes to try. I largely contribute using my brain creatively and with so much excitement to the infrequent amounts of episodes I suffered with.

3) A change of music. – “Music…can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”  – Martin Luther  “Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono  “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

I began listening to more soothing and tranquil music regularly. It really helped me to pause and relax my mind and body more frequently throughout the day.

During this journey, I decided to compete in a pageant. It was hard preparing for it. Some days my mindset was very positive, and other days it would bring me down. People have no idea about the days I used to spend crying and contemplating death. I had come so far and wanted to use the illness to shape me into a better woman that I could showcase proudly. This was hard for me to write, but I hope it can inspire others to not let anxiety get the best of them either.

People associate anxiety and depression with being crazy. I’m not crazy. I may have severe anxiety, but I have accomplished a lot at my 25 years. My advice for anyone going through any sort of mental illness like mine is to know that there are ways to cope with it NATURALLY and medicinally that are incredibly effective. These are the ways that helped me, so I encourage you to find what soothes and elevates you. Seek a hobby that gets your mind off of it, read a new book, be responsible with your health regime.. and remember, there is nothing wrong with being different.

When Anxiety Attacks

by: Anonymous author

anxiety

I remember being younger and clinging to my mother at social events because I was so anxious. I would get a stomach ache whenever she would drop me off at school or at a social function. This began at the age of eight and I still deal  with anxiety today. From a young age this chemical imbalance in my brain made me feel inadequate and scared. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I decided to finally tell my mother how I felt, and I broke down crying and said that I needed help. In high school, I was so anxious all of the time that I barely spoke in class and going to school was unbearable. Imagine the anxiety that you feel before a big test, or something that you are very nervous about. Sure, that may be a temporary feeling for some, but for me it was constant and I could not turn it off. That constant feeling caused me to miss school dances, events, games, and many other social gatherings during my teenage years. I felt so ashamed of myself. I thought, “How could I let this stupid disorder take away my teenage years.” When I told my mother how I felt, I was taken to the doctor and started treating my anxiety with medication which helped immensely. As soon as I started to control my anxiety, things turned around completely. I began having fun my senior year of high school, went to the gym and lost a ton of weight that I had gained from hiding in my bedroom all of the time, and I began hanging out with friends and actually went to the homecoming and prom dances. It was finally then that I had realized that I had taken control of MY life and this chemical imbalance in my brain was not going to take away my life any longer. I think that the main thing to do is recognize it, treat it, and not be ashamed of it.

However, this wasn’t the end of the battle for me. When I graduated high school, I was on my way to college in the fall and I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent the summer on the beaches in San Diego, traveling, and getting ready to start college. Once I started my classes at the university, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of work I had. I had always had good grades, and I was sure that it would be okay but I also was terrified at the same time. As the weeks went by, I was so consumed with schoolwork and a part time job that I began to gain weight again, and I stopped caring about myself. I was always the one to get dressed up and ready for the day, but now I was completely neglecting myself and my health. This is when my depression began. I resorted to hiding out in my bedroom, not caring about my appearance, and ignoring everyone around me. I lost so many friends because I simply would not feel like answering the phone when they called, or let alone go out somewhere. There were only a few of my close friends who understood what I was going through, but others were just quick to stop talking to me altogether. I became almost unrecognizable. I had gained over 50 pounds and was not even the same person anymore. Every time I tried to help myself and get better, I decided that it was more important to immerse myself in an insane amount of schoolwork to get good grades. I was completely neglecting myself and I had no idea if I would ever be the same again. I can not tell you how many different medications I have tried at my young age for depression. All of these medications of course had different side effects. I started gaining even more weight on some, I began feeling even worse on others, and I felt like I was completely spiraling out of control.

I felt pathetic. How could I let this change my life so much. I would show up to family gatherings and could feel the eyes on me and people wondering why I gained so much weight. As college went on, I decided that I needed to finish and not let this ruin my plans of a college education. I pushed through it, and with the help of my best friend and family I was okay and stable and graduated. As time went on and I slowed down on pushing myself to work so hard and I began to focus on my health, I felt better. Slowly but surely, I was going back to normal and deciding that it was important to recognize how I felt and to treat it. It’s never easy to tell somebody that you deal with depression and anxiety. I feel like there is so much stigma regarding mental health. Some people are completely embarrassed to even tell close friends and family that they need help. The most important thing for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue is SUPPORT. The worst thing is the stigma that goes along with it. It is hard enough to deal with a mental health issue, but society makes it even harder when we have so much stigma surrounding it. I learned to not be ashamed. I decide to keep it a private matter since it is my health, but those close to me know that I deal with it and help and support me. I urge anyone who is suffering to seek help and support because you are not alone, and I urge those to make fun of mental health issues or those who don’t take them seriously to stop the stigma and to help those who may be suffering because a single sign of support and encouragement could change their lives.