Inspiration From: Rosa Diaz

I’m not even sure if there are going to be Brooklyn Nine-Nine spoilers, but I’m so accustomed to typing something in italics at the beginning of these that I wanted to at least say hi to all of you before I start the blog.

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Image from FOX

Ah yes. The final Inspiration blog. It’s been a fun, reflective journey that I’ve wanted to do for some time. Three of the characters were in the plan to write about for about a year, Petra and Emily entering a couple of months ago. I wanted to write six, only because I like even numbers (oh sue me) so I was trying to figure out someone else I drew a lot of inspiration from. So naturally, I took to my Instagram and like a message from above, a post from Stephanie Beatriz graced my feed.

(*Doug Judy voice* Rosa Rosa Rooooosaaaa, oh yeah, beautiful Rooooosaaaaa)

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Image from FOX

Yes, I’m talking about Rosa Diaz, the true badass of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

I relate a lot to Amy (painfully so…) and I quote Gina on the regular, but every time I watch Rosa do almost anything, I find myself wishing I could be more like her. Rosa is who she is, and she doesn’t apologize for it. She takes command of any room she enters and even goes as far as to slightly terrify everyone around her. You take one look at her and you know she’s tough. You take one look at me and wonder what grade I’m in. I want to be Rosa.

I tend to be a bit of an open book to anyone and everyone. No, not every person gets to hear my entire life story (except for what I write about, which is honestly almost everything) but once I’m comfortable with someone, I pretty much lose my filter. Nobody knows anything about Rosa, to the point where she lets the squad come to her apartment to hide one night and the only reason she does so is because she was already planning on moving so no one would figure out where she lived. When she’s pressed about her past, she uses her typical methods to stop the conversation. I’m not saying I want to be that closed off, but I could probably learn to ride that line a little bit better.

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Image from FOX

Rosa is another one of the bisexual baddies I admire so much on modern TV. She’s even portrayed by a bisexual actress Stephanie Beatriz, whom I also admire. I touched on this a bit in my blog about Petra, but still at the age of 24, my bisexuality is still a part of my identity I struggle with. Watching Rosa try to make sense of it while being able to clearly reference feelings for women when she was younger really hit home for me, as it was something about her she always knew but never really understood or knew how to express.

She also knows how to take care of herself. How many scenes have we seen where she’s just an absolute kick-ass cop? She can stand up for herself both physically and mentally which is amazing in my book. I’d be lying if I said the scenes where I said the scenes I most wished I were Rosa weren’t the ones where she’s doing something absolutely badass, like catching a criminal. She’s just fierce.

So while I’m not season one Boyle or Doug Judy level obsessed with Rosa, she is someone I’d put on the “Who should I be like?” Mood board. Especially when I’m rocking my formal leather jacket, the one without any blood on it.

Signing off for the inspiration blog series! Not sure what’s coming next, but hopefully I can keep up with a mix of light-hearted and deep. Hopefully you all enjoyed reading these as much as I loved writing them.

Inspiration From: Katniss Everdeen

If you don’t at least have a baseline knowledge of what happens in The Hunger Games books or movies, I’m judging you a little, but spoilers ahead.

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Image from Lionsgate

Okay, you all knew that this one was coming. How many Katniss quotes have made it onto my weekly letterboard? Every time I’m in need of a little dose of badass, I marathon The Hunger Games movies and remind myself of what I’m capable of.

When I was really struggling this summer when I started IOP at St. Vincent’s and my mom was staying with me, I asked my mom if she would mind if I put Catching Fire on while we were eating dinner and hanging out at home. Much to my surprise, she not only ended up liking the movie, but ended up invested in the franchise. I explained that when I’m feeling low, I draw strength from Katniss. My mom laughed a bit and said, “Yeah, I can absolutely see that.”

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Image from Lionsgate

Part of what I love so much about Katniss is that she really didn’t know quite what she was capable of until she was thrown into it. She points out to President Snow in Mockingjay that she didn’t ask to be in the Games (which we all know, but hearing her say it gives me chills because it’s me). I don’t just admire her finding her strength because it’s great character development, I admire it because of the parallels in my life as a sexual abuse and assault survivor.

From the moment Katniss steps on the train, she’s determined to make the best of the situation she’s handed. Does she sometimes become overwhelmed with what’s thrown her way? Absolutely, but she doesn’t back down at any moment. Even when she’s one of the tributes who’s smaller in stature, she makes her mark as one of the strongest fighters, partially because of her will to survive. That fire to keep her going is something I try to channel as much as I possibly can.

Am I Team Peeta or Team Gale? Or do I have a love triangle parallel there? No, but my parallel for that debacle is part of why I can’t stand Gale with his selfish, narcissistic “yes but I don’t like how the pain you’re experiencing affects me” attitude. Not that I’m going to call anyone out, as I pretend to be better than that, but I will admit that’s something I have a fair amount of experience with dealing with one of those, which is why I choose Team Katniss. But for the purposes of who would be her better match? Peeta, hands down, as we don’t deserve Peeta Mellark.

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Image from Lionsgate

Katniss also cares about the people in her life. She volunteers for the Games to save Prim’s life. She’s more than willing to give her own life in the Quarter Quell if it means keeping Peeta alive. Even when she isn’t quite sure of her feelings for Peeta, she’s hellbent on keeping the romance picture alive to keep everyone in her life safe. She’s even furious when she finds out her prep team had been kept as prisoners in District 13. If Katniss decides she likes you, you’re taken care of and I’m very much the same way.

So am I going to pick up a bow and arrow and attempt to overthrow a dictator? Not likely, mainly because I never quite got the hang of archery when we tried it in middle school P.E. But I will keep Katniss in mind when I feel like I’m in over my head in a situation, or when I know I’m about to walk into something that I want to run away from. Even without Cinna’s armor keeping me safe, reminding myself that I can be the Mockingjay can be enough of a motive to stand up for myself.

Inspiration From: Olivia Pope

Do I really need to do spoiler warnings for these anymore? Fine, potential Scandal spoilers ahead.

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Image from ABC

I remember seeing previews for Scandal right before it premiered in 2012 and thinking it looked intriguing, but it wasn’t until I was a public relations major that I really felt the strong urge to watch it—it’s a show about a tough woman who works as a self-proclaimed fixer for high-powered clients with biiiiiiig problems. Olivia Pope, portrayed by the outstanding Kerry Washington, is independent, glamorous absolute badass with so much depth and a close group of friends who are just as incredible.

Olivia Pope is the epitome of “never let them see you sweat.” In the pilot, you see her negotiate with literal criminals without showing even an ounce of concern or fear. One of my favorite quotes of Olivia’s is, “I am very good at what I do. I am better at it than anyone else. And that is not arrogance, that is a fact,” because I feel that it truly demonstrates the amount of confidence that she has in her abilities.

One of the central plots of Scandal is the love story between Olivia and Fitz and while I love Fitz (and Tony Goldwyn–why do these blogs keep turning into me thirsting over my subjects and their costars?) my favorite thing about their story is that 90% of the time, she’s the one calling the shots. They don’t have the best beginnings (infidelity is not good) but they are two problematic people in love that can’t quite seem to overcome their obstacles. When he wants to try and just use her for sex while they aren’t on good terms, she sets the boundaries and turns her attention toward work.

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Image from ABC

This one’s a little more personal for me, but watching her evolve as a trauma survivor was incredibly empowering for me. While our traumas are different, the storyline where she’s kidnapped was almost like watching a metaphor for what it’s like to feel like you’re being kept from speaking up about what happened to you–like her finally being set free was a parallel telling me I could share about the abuse I experienced as a child. I’ve often felt like some of my random, strong reactions that come with my PTSD are out-of-line, but seeing a character that’s so put together struggle with them too (and even act on a couple… the chair, anyone?) made me feel less alone.

Of course, there are about a million other things in Olivia’s life to be a little envious of. Her amazing coworkers and friends, her kick-ass wardrobe and her beautiful apartment but when I think of Scandal, it’s Olivia’s altogether makeup that makes me admire her. And yes, while I always eat up the on-again off-again drama of her relationship with Fitz (and I wholeheartedly blame this show for the fact I want to name a future son Fitzgerald and have him go by Fitz), watching her independence has helped me become who I am today.

And to that I say, it’s handled.

Inspiration from: Sutton Brady

Do I even have to say The Bold Type spoilers ahead?

 

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Sutton, Jane and Kat (Image from Freeform)

Freeform’s The Bold Type is a fairly newer show, especially compared to some of the other shows and movies I’ve talked about and are planning to talk about. It premiered in 2017 and from the first episode I was hooked. Watching three close friends (Jane, Kat and Sutton) navigate New York City and work for Scarlet Magazine (based on Cosmo) while dealing with personal and professional struggles.

 

So of course, as I had just started my internship at Hoosier Park and was getting ready to graduate that upcoming December, the show grabbed me faster than most shows had. I wanted to work at Scarlet! I wanted to be friends with Jane, Kat and Sutton! I wanted a boss like Jacqueline! Where’s my Richard? This show is amazing!

My first go-around watching the show, I identified with Jane, but even then, the connection was lukewarm. Jane’s a writer and feels strongly about what she believes in, but she still felt too lost (and sometimes, whiny—so not a knock on Katie Stevens, all the love to you!!) for me as this was the time of my life I was really starting to discover my drive. While my career path was taking me to harness racing rather than Scarlet and my Jacqueline went by the name of Emily, I had my sights set on my own greatness. 

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Image from Freeform

I rewatched the first season just before season two came out and realized that not only did I identify Sutton more this time around, but I felt this strong desire to become as much like her as I could while still keeping, you know, me. 

Sutton had to pretty much build herself and while I’ve had help from some key people in the way of support and advice, that’s something I had to do with my career. Sutton’s life looked like getting out of her hometown, paying her way through school, creating the job that would get her what she wanted (which was intimidating but wow) and taking different career leaps throughout the show. Mine was getting out of my hometown,  taking an internship I knew nothing about, starting a career in an industry I had only recently learned about and learning to be assertive with my career. Each new season has premiered while new things have happened at work, so I feel like Sutton and I have grown together.

With a previous point, Sutton did indeed create a job for herself. When we’re treated to the flashback episode in season 3, she’s working as a temp and we learn that she only starts as Lauren’s assistant because she approaches Lauren, who is one of the more intimidating people in the office, and tells her that she needs an assistant since all of her male counterparts have one and she doesn’t. Sutton works her butt off there and then spends the first season exploring other career options,like the safe ad buyer position and the fashion assistant position that she ends up taking. She isn’t afraid to take career risks to get what she wants.

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Image from Freeform

While her relationship with Richard isn’t one of the reasons I admire her (though I’ve always had a sentimental fondness for Sam Page, even when he played a dirtbag in Mad Men and Gossip Girl) I admire the voice she uses in their relationship. Yes, I’m pretty vocal about how I think Sutton and Richard are relationship goals, especially in season three, but as someone who’s historically had trouble speaking up in relationships, the way Sutton says what she wants in her relationship is something I know I can do more of.  Right off the bat, in the first episode, she tells him what I think is one of the most iconic quotes in the series:

“I want to go out on dates. I want to be asked out on dates, and if that’s not what you want, I understand. But I need you to know I want to be that girl you can’t stop thinking about. I deserve to be that girl.”

But she not only sets her own boundaries, she also believes in true love and she isn’t afraid to take risks for love too. When she’s in Paris for Fashion Week, she’s ready to drop everything and fly back to New York to tell Richard that she still loves him, even though being at Fashion Week is all she’s ever wanted. Unbeknownst to her until she’s getting ready to get in the car, Richard was already on his way to Paris to meet her (they are so my favorite TV couple) and they have the cutest moment ever. Sutton believes in love, which I adore.

This has already been my longest admiration blog, but like I said, I sometimes have felt like my growth has run parallel with Sutton’s. The Bold Type is an amazing show with a kick-ass cast that I believe is one of the better-written shows for women that’s come out lately. So whether my admiration of Sutton is shown by me slyly imitating outfits of hers or trying to pick up on Meghann Fahy’s aesthetic through Instagram, Sutton is absolutely the character I’ve felt most connected to in a long time.

 

Inspiration From: Emily Nelson

As with all of these, spoilers ahead. For this post, spoilers for A Simple Favor specifically

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Image from Lionsgate

Okay okay okay, I know I might lose some of you here but bear with me.

“But Emily is a villain!” Yes, I know.

“She is a manipulative psycho.” I am aware.

“SHE IS A MURDERER.” Will you let me get my point across?

I’m not saying she’s a good person. Not even a little bit. I’m not saying you should aspire to be her. I’m saying she has some traits that I wish I had, not that I’d trade places with her or mark myself as her on a personality test.

I read the book before seeing the movie and to be honest, I preferred the book ending where she gets away with everything. A Simple Favor is a story filled with TERRIBLE people (anyone who tries to tell me Stephanie isn’t terrible can go home) who do terrible things, but Emily, while being the worst of the bunch, is the one that you find yourself rooting for. If you watch the special features of the movie, they reveal that’s specifically why they cast Blake Lively for the role–she can play a compelling villain that you almost want to win.

Her number one driver in the entire plot is her son. An argument could be made for money being a motive, but she wants that money to provide a comfortable life for Nicky. Does she go about it in the best way? Absolutely not. Faking your death and killing people is never an okay thing to do. But down to the end, she loves her son and that’s why she does everything she does.

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Images from Lionsgate

She’s also the picture of confidence. When Stephanie is apologizing for anything and everything (which is an AWFUL habit of mine), Emily fires back with, “You don’t need to apologize. It’s a fucked up female habit.” She owns who she is and doesn’t back down from a tough situation. She’s a little too tough when talking to her boss, but she won’t let anyone walk all over her.

Of course, she’s absolutely glamorous. Part of this might be the Blake Lively casting (because I’d give up my voice Little Mermaid-style to look like Blake Lively… kidding!… kind of) but the radiance that emanates any time Emily is onscreen is captivating. Not only are the characters fascinated, but it turns her into a character that you want to watch and know more about, which is why the story is so intriguing.

So if you’ve stuck with me, you can see it’s not her moral compass that intrigues me, but her traits that exist despite that. This is another one that just might be influenced by the double Taurus in my birth chart, but for now I’ll keep turning on A Simple Favor when I need a nice shot of a beautiful aesthetic, in the way of a pretty movie or just Henry Golding’s accent.

Inspiration From: Petra Solano

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Image from CW

My blog is my blog. The url is my name. So I get to write about what I want to write about. However, I feel like lately the focus has been almost entirely on mental health and while advocating for open discussions about mental health and general awareness about mental illness are things I care very deeply about, I want to try and change the mood here a little bit. This somehow turned into the idea for a series on fictional characters that have shaped me into who I am now, especially throughout my recovery from my time at St. Vincent’s and coming forward with my story in a public way.

Because it’s my blog, and I’m going to do what I want.

I had recently made a post on my Facebook about identifying with Jane from Jane the Virgin but sometimes feeling like a Petra, but a friend pointed out that after a quick Google search and without even watching the show, I was Petra without a doubt. I thought about this for awhile because it confused me quite a bit at first. No, I’m Jane. I’m awkward, I wear sundresses all the time, I’m a writer and I’m even Catholic! We have the same personality! But as I watched Petra’s character development under a closer eye, especially in the final season, the lightbulb went off and I realized that I was indeed Petra Solano, HBIC, Bisexual Badass of the Marbella.

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Image from CW

The source of my confusion when compared to her at first is the fact that she starts as a villain—you very clearly are not rooting for her when the show begins. The more you learn about her, though, you learn she has faced some serious trauma (her abusive relationship with Milos, and don’t even get me started on her mother) and she’s had to survive a rough upbringing. While that does not in any way excuse her unkind behavior in the beginning of the series it explains why she so desperately wanted to cling to Rafael and the life he could provide for her, because she knew the things she needed to do to survive.

I’m just beginning to rewatch Jane The Virgin again, and even seeing how she acts in the beginning when she is very clearly a villain is something I can identify with. No, I’m not saying I’m a villain, but she’s motivated by money, status and love, which admittedly are all things that drive me (oh don’t act surprised about money and status, I’ve got double Taurus in my birth chart). She wants to cling to her marriage to keep her money and her power, but also because she still loves Rafael.

As time goes on, though, she learns her worth. Not only does she make it clear that she won’t be anyone’s second choice, when she’s pregnant with the twins, she makes it clear to Rafael that her and the twins won’t be playing second fiddle to Jane and Mateo. She knows she and her girls are worth the effort and she isn’t afraid to voice that. Also, the fact that she names her daughters Elsa and Anna without getting the Frozen reference is pure gold, and later has Elsa go by Ellie.

This isn’t something I talk about a lot on my blog (or publicly anymore, because I’m 24 and it’s still a part of my identity I struggle with) but Petra coming to terms with her bisexuality is something I strongly related to. The confusion with her feelings for JR from the start later turning into her looking Milos in the eye and declaring, “And I’m bisexual, by the way,” after he tried to claim the only reason she didn’t love him is because she was a lesbian. That was a kickass moment for bisexual representation on television. Also how can I not relate to anyone attracted to both Justin Baldoni and Rosario Dawson, because, same.

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Images from CW

All in all, I know I’d like to spend more time channeling my inner Petra. Not only would I love to base my wardrobe on hers, but I know I could be more of a boss like she is in times where I want to cower. So this time around watching Jane The Virgin, I’ll be doing so through Petra’s eyes, while only wishing I could rock a pastel blazer and shorts combo the way she does.

I Am Enough; I’ve Had Enough

I want to be very clear, right off the bat: My goal is not to be vindictive. My goal is not to hurt anybody. I simply want to set myself free from this burden I have carried for most of my life and that has been the reason my mental health has been as bad as it’s been. I also want to make sure the truth gets out there to set the record straight. I refuse to live my life suicide attempt to suicide attempt, treatment program to treatment program. I’m regaining my voice and taking control of my story. I’m setting myself free today. I am moving forward from this moment on and I’m not letting anything or anyone stop me.

Also this is going to be a long one, but it all needs to be said.

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My Dear World picture from 2016

I’ve been very open about my struggles with my mental health. It’s no secret I struggle with depression and anxiety and that I had to go inpatient at Community North’s adolescent psychiatric ward for a suicide attempt when I was 16 and have struggled with self-harm since a little before then. Now looking at my genetics and what sorts of things run in my family, I know I would have probably ended up with some form of depression and anxiety, but for them to the level where they’re at is a little extreme (especially my depression).

The last time I wrote about my suicide attempt, I mentioned that I had experienced a childhood trauma, and that’s been the big thing that threw me so off balance. I’m currently coming out of a significant mental health dip where the passive suicidal thoughts (like, “I want to be dead and these are ways I’m could kill myself” not “I’m going to kill myself and this is how I’m doing it”) had made their way back into my brain for some time. I recently finished intensive outpatient therapy at the St. Vincent’s Stress Center, and each assignment I worked on showed just how much this trauma and the aftermath of it has truly affected my life and my mental health.

I’ve learned keeping it in has been detrimental to me. In the past few years, I’ve started to become more open with people I trust, but I still have family that won’t speak to me and parts of my hometown still feel like a battleground. In one of my sessions, I realized that the only way I could lift this burden would be to talk about this publicly, which would also be the best way to make sure the truth is what’s out there, and not the lie that the other side has been floating around.

So what happened, is my oldest  brother John sexually abused me when I was nine and he was 16. It happened once. I would prefer not to have the details out publicly as sharing them is difficult. Again, the abuse happened and it happened one time.

For anyone that’s confused about the weight this has been on me, I have a timeline written out.

He told me he would kill me if I told anyone about it. When you’re nine and your big brother is really scary, you tend to take that to heart. About a year later I remember first having a passive suicidal thought. Yes, that would be age 10. They continued up until my attempt at 16. When I was 14, I first opened up to a friend that had been sexually assaulted when she was younger. I could show you where we were sitting if we walked into the choir room. When I was 15, I entered into a relationship where I was sexually assaulted. I know that can happen to anyone, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d have had more strength to stop the situation if it weren’t for what happened with John.

Obviously, 16 is when I started turning to self-harm and eventually attempted suicide. When I told the nurse doing my intake paperwork at Community North, though, she said that I “didn’t seem that affected by it” and it didn’t seem related. I remember feeling confused and dismissed, but this was also significant because I didn’t receive any sort of counseling for it during my time inpatient. When I got out, I told a few more friends, my boyfriend at the time (who for all of our faults, was so supportive through the situation) and my counselor at the time. My time inpatient mostly scared me out of any suicidal thoughts or actions.

Right before senior year is when it started to get very rocky again. When my grandpa died, I had to ride up north with John, and he and I talked a bit. Between our conversation and us cleaning out my grandpa’s apartment with my dad, it became increasingly evident that time around him was suffocating me and I was going to need to speak up soon. That September, I had my first self-harm relapse. That Thanksgiving, John and I got into a big blow-up fight where I came so close to telling my mom about what happened but panicked thinking she wouldn’t believe me. Instead I sat outside and figured I’d kill myself that night, but calmed down before bed. In January or February, I told a trusted adult what he did so I could have an ally on the inside. They were instrumental in helping me recognize when my emotions when he would berate me and they could tell I was close to blowing up. This helped me get out of stressful situations with him. That spring brought my second self-harm relapse.

My graduation open house was the match that lit the fire. I didn’t want an open house in the first place, but the one bright spot was that John wasn’t going to be there. When he ended up showing up, it threw me into a panic. I couldn’t handle it. The next day, my mom and I had some sort of argument (I don’t even remember what about) and she wouldn’t listen when I kept trying to tell her I didn’t want John there. I tried to just walk away, but something tugged at me telling me to say something, so I did. It came out and I couldn’t stop it. That was June 15, 2014, and I’ll tell you I did not feel a single emotion for about two weeks after that. The aftermath was bad and stressing about the future was worse. About three weeks before I was set to move into Ball State, I planned to kill myself because I couldn’t handle this new life with everyone so on edge, but then I heard that ever important quote for the first time: “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.” That’s why that quote is so important to me, for anyone who’s ever wondered.

I hate that my mental health controlled so much of college for me. I look back and regret not going out more, not being more involved, but I was drowning and should have reached out for help. When my niece, John’s daughter, was born in September 2014, I nearly went catatonic for the entire day because I knew that was going to add a new element to the mess. My mom drove up to Ball State to stay with me that night, and I’m so grateful she did because I truly don’t know what I would have done if she didn’t. I pushed myself to start seeing a counselor in the spring of 2016 (and my counselor is AMAZING), because I had just had my third self-harm relapse. I stayed mostly okay until the fall of 2016, when I was ready to kill myself yet again.  I had a relapse that I had been planning for two days because I knew if I cut when I wanted to, too many people would notice.

The spring of 2017 brought not only another (but my last!!) self-harm relapse, but also a suicide attempt. I was headed to an on-campus meeting and saw my opportunity. I drove out in front of oncoming traffic. The cars barely stopped in time and I got screamed at (and then promptly had a breakdown in the commuter lot because I really realized what had almost happened) but I truly wanted nothing more than to be dead. I’ve not revealed that attempt to anyone other than my parents before (and they’ve only learned recently) because my fear of having to go back inpatient was that strong.

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Dear World 2017. Tried adopting this attitude. Didn’t last long.

Not too long after this I found out that John was going to family members to tell them that I was spreading a lie about him and that’s why he doesn’t speak to me. I still don’t know how this didn’t trigger me beyond belief at the time, but the fact that my own family was so quick to believe I’m a crazy liar and cut me off has been the cause of a lot of stress and depression over the past couple of years. Flash forward to December 2018, when my Uncle Jimmy died and my depression took a major nose-dive for about a million family-related factors. This was the most recent time I thought of suicide with an active plan (and what prompted me to get rid of anything lethal in my apartment) because I could not handle the betrayal, the grieving and the pain all wrapped together. Every time I felt like I got over this dip, it reared its head again in another way.

Which brings us here.

I was already thinking maybe I should change my meds, as I was still not feeling quite like me. Then one day about a month and a half ago, my mom and I ran into someone from John’s “side” (I hate thinking of this in sides but I don’t know how else to say) that I’ve always considered a kind person. She spoke to my mom warmly and caught up with her, but refused to even acknowledge my presence. And that, my friends, is when the storm really kicked in. About a week later was when I called my mom and told her I was going to check myself inpatient because I didn’t trust myself alone in my apartment. So my mom came and stayed with me for a week, I changed my meds and was enrolled in intensive outpatient therapy. IOP has been such an incredible experience for me, and I am so glad I took that step to better myself. Like I mentioned earlier, it also showed me just how much what happened has been weighing down on my life.

I’ve been in counseling for three years (plus a few years in high school), and I’ve spent the past seven years heavily involved in church retreats in some way–I’m not saying I’m perfectly healed, but I’ve put in the work to move past this. I would love nothing more than for everyone to put in the work to be able to move past this–including John.

I don’t even know if he’ll read this or get this far, so I’m not going to bother writing “to him” but make no mistake–I have so much empathy for him. I know he has his own demons, everyone does. That does not make what he did okay, and I would still like an apology some day or at least an acknowledgment that it wasn’t okay. I know we’ll never be best friends, but I would like us to be able to be in a room together for the sake of our family. While I don’t know personally the personal battles he fought in his life or things he’s trying to overcome from any age, I know that facing those things takes work and it hurts. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time in IOP (and while writing this) it’s that holding things inside and not facing your problems only makes the problem worse. I sincerely hope he’s okay and can get to a place where he isn’t carrying any weight from past issues, because I know how much that can literally kill you.

12243516_10207123547459638_4002680869221560368_nI have been so overwhelmed with support from the people I love as I’ve navigated this trauma. I would not have survived without my family (you know, the ones that do believe me and speak to me), my amazing friends, my church family (of course God is included in that family!) and my incredible coworkers, especially my bosses for being so flexible with me while I was in IOP. I love all of you with all of my heart.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I want to thank you for hearing my story and for letting me get this weight off of my shoulders. Thank you for believing me. I still ask for prayers and good vibes for everyone involved, as I don’t know what comes after I hit “publish,” but I know one thing’s for sure: I’m taking care of myself, and I am not going back to that dark state of mind. I’m moving forward, starting today, and I’m only taking positivity with me.

IMG_0252And make no mistake–I do not see myself as a victim in any way. This situation does not define me. I have a wonderful job, incredible friends and a strong faith that have kept me going. If his intention that day was to destroy me, he failed. I’m a survivor who is intent on making a beautiful life for myself. To anyone else who has struggled with something similar who is wondering if they should tell their loved ones about what they’ve been through, please do. The people in your life want to help you and they care about you. Take it from me.

And as always, “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are options. The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, or if you’d prefer to text someone instead of call, you can text CONNECT to 741741. You don’t have to go through this alone. There are always people that will listen to you. The national sexual assault hotline’s number is 1-800-656-4673. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

Seven Years Stronger

Many of you have come to expect this post from me each year. Whether you’ve been with me from the beginning when it started as a Facebook post or when I posted it as a blog for the first time last year was your first time reading about my story, it’s no secret this is something I do every year.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been called to share more authentically and openly. I’m not totally sure what that looks like yet (I think I have a bit of an idea, but I’m not 100% sure yet) but we’ll see where that takes me. For now, getting my story out and reflecting on how far I’ve come as each year passes works for me.

You would think this would get easier, too. I first spoke openly about it on a church retreat when I was 17 and started sharing VERY openly about it four years ago, but this is still very anxiety-inducing for me to talk about so openly. But it’s important, so I do it.

So anyway, deep breath, here I go, yet again.

Content warning: Self harm and suicide

You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.

When I was 16, you couldn’t have gotten me to hear those words no matter how hard you tried. I hated myself. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. Genetically, I didn’t really stand a chance since both sides of my family have a history of depression and anxiety and I suffered a childhood trauma before I even hit double-digits, which really threw my brain chemistry out of whack. Dealing with life became more of a struggle than it should be, and once I hit high school the amount of stress I was dealing with skyrocketed, as it does when you begin taking advanced classes.

When I was fifteen, the depression became overwhelming to the point where I can’t even remember most of my high school experience, and when I was sixteen, I started using self-harm as a way to cope with everything going on. I was struggling to stay afloat, and even the things that brought me joy couldn’t keep me going.

But why do I talk about it today? What makes today so significant? This day seven years ago was one of the worst days of my life. On March 26, 2012, I decided that I didn’t want to live anymore. I made the decision that night to take my own life so I didn’t have to deal with the pain anymore. I’d worked out the details in my head, and turned to self-harm in the meantime to hold myself over.

That’s how bad I was: To hold myself over.

Thankfully, my mom found me in my room before things could go too far, and about an hour later I was in the car with my parents on the way to Community North Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. When they found out I was planning on killing myself and considering I had a backup plan for my backup plan, they decided it was best for me to stay in their teen psychiatric ward for a few days.

Even though I was only in there for a few days (I was focused on recovery and the doctors described me to my parents as “one of the most compliant patients they’d ever seen”) it was a terrifying experience that still haunts me to this day. My triggers from it are less severe, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still panic a little when I get a hospital bracelet put on me (don’t even get me started about the smell of hospitals).

Why am I talking about this publicly though? Well I want to start by saying that I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me (Very important, I don’t want pity). I simply think that education about mental illness is extremely important, and it will be easier to talk about the less we make it into some giant taboo. Mental illness has faces, and many people you love deal with them every day. I don’t want people thinking I’m weak for what I’ve gone through and what I struggle with; I want those in similar situations to know that it can, and it will get better. In fact, here’s some great things from the past seven years of my life that I almost missed out on:

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So much love for Jordan and Lita

I finished high school and still have some key friends. Would I go back to high school? Absolutely not, but I got to student direct a musical and have a leading role in a play. I survived a class that challenged me more than any class I took in college. A few of my friends from high school are some of the people I talk to every day, and they’re some of the people that keep me going. Even the ones I don’t talk to every day never fail to make me smile.

I graduated from Ball State–a semester early. I had some major mental health lows during my time at Ball State, yet I still managed to graduate in December 2017, a semester early. During my time at Ball State, I had the privilege of being a part of Cardinal Communications, which even interviewing for was a huge step. I also served as the secretary for Ball State’s PRSSA chapter and even attended the PRSSA 2016 National Conference.

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Race Marketing family photo on the last day of racing last year

I had an internship that I loved–which lead to a job that I love even more. When I was at Ball State, I really thought I was going to go into a normal job at a normal PR agency. Enter my internship at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and wow did that change. I was fortunate enough to get the job I wanted after graduation (which I still can’t believe) because of how hard I worked as an intern. I love all of my coworkers, and each of them are a light in my life in their own way. I’ve been in this role for about a year now, and I’m so thankful for it every day.

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Beth and Jenny are the best

I’ve gotten to lead fifteen retreats with Saint Susanna. Saint Susanna, my church, has always been another home for me, and leading retreats has always been something I’ve loved to do. Something about leading as an adult really made the experience more fulfilling and I felt like my eyes were opened to more of what was going on.

I’ve learned to love myself. I’ve always considered myself an acquired taste; You have to spend a bit of time with me to realize that you like me. But I’m comfortable in my own skin (most of the time) and I’ve learned to love me for me. I surprised myself when I ended my relationship with my high school boyfriend, because I had put all of my worth into being with somebody. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be alone, and it’s almost more fun. I also discovered the “You Are Enough” quote from Sierra Boggess, which has been huge in my recovery process and even in my life as a whole.

There are so many more great things that have happened, but I think these are the big ones. Would I like to say that I’ve been perfect and say I’ve never had self-harm relapses or thought about suicide in the past five years? It would be nice, but I’d be lying. It has been over two years since I’ve last hurt myself, though, because I’ve started taking my mental health seriously and I’ve started to make sure I try new coping mechanisms even when things are going well (working with makeup being the newest, and wow that’s a fun one). This past year has held some of my highest highs and my lowest lows, and I’ve learned so much about coping with how I’ve gotten through it.

Again, I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. I just want to stop the stigma about mental illness, and also I want people to know that they are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling, needs someone to talk to, or has any questions about anything I’ve talked about, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Having a support system for things like this is important, and I don’t want ANYONE feeling alone like I did. 

So now again, everybody say it with me:
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE SO ENOUGH.
IT IS UNBELIEVABLE HOW ENOUGH YOU ARE.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are options. The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, or if you’d prefer to text someone instead of call, you can text CONNECT to 741741. You don’t have to go through this alone. There are always people that will listen to you.

Through Heaven’s Eyes

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 8.58.31 PMEvery time I’ve had to share about key moments in my life, I always joke that God has a tendency to talk to me through music, whether it’s by sending me a new song on the radio or making me really hear a song I’ve heard a million times. Most people who know me know I love the song “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt,” so I’ve found myself bringing up the soundtrack on Spotify more than usual these past few months. One day last month while driving to work, I went to play “When You Believe,” but something tugged on me to listen to “Through Heaven’s Eyes.” It’s another song from the movie I love, I just didn’t know it as well since I didn’t have to sing it at graduation every year in high school (although if you haven’t listened to either, you must look them up on YouTube right now–go on, this blog will still be here when you get back).

I was taken back to a couple of retreats from years past where the theme of the song has been brought up. I enjoyed the talks that touched on the theme, but I have to admit that I never really put too much thought into it. Flash forward to January 2019 as I’m driving to work and listening to Brian Stokes Mitchell’s magical voice singing about how you can’t see your value through the eyes of man, but only through Heaven’s eyes, and lately it’s really struck a chord with me.

I talked before about how December was a rough month for me, but I didn’t get into why, and the stress ended up carrying into January, which honestly scared me. One of my uncles died suddenly a couple of weeks into December, and it brought up about a million unresolved family issues for me, which tanked my mental health farther than I’d seen it go in awhile (and yes, that includes the dip from a few months ago). I felt like I was a soulless body just going through the motions trying to make sense of everything going on. I didn’t want to admit how upset I was, but it really rattled me, and it still really hurts.

I thought I’d moved past it by the time the new year started, but I wasn’t putting up as good of a front as I thought. I was starting to feel like I was doing a terrible job at everything I did, whether it was work, keeping in touch with friends or even existing. There was one day where I honestly started to weigh whether I needed to seek treatment, so I called a friend to talk it out. She first pointed out to me that the fact that I was asking for help showed that I was in a better place than I thought. She also told me that I had so much more to work for and look forward to. I shook off the dread, got ready for work, and moved forward.

On that drive to work, I put “Through Heaven’s Eyes” back on. It was a reminder that I’m not just me, but a part of something greater. I haven’t even discovered my purpose yet. There’s so much world out there for me to face and so much more for me to experience. I’ve survived much more difficult things that this. I’m going to be okay.

I even reflected back on Sierra Boggess’s word/phrase for January (because of course I’m bringing it back to Sierra), which was “Be Curious.” I’ve allowed myself to take on some new challenges this year. I’ve even started learning more about makeup, partially as a new coping mechanism, but also because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and the only thing stopping me was me. February’s word is “listen,” so I’ve been trying to be extra attentive to God’s call, especially when I think it’s about me being a part of His bigger plan.

Our old priest used to say that God has three responses to prayers when you ask for something, and those are, “Yes,” “Not right now,” or “I have something better planned.” I’m learning to accept the “I have something better planned,” for the times I need to remember I’m that single thread in a tapestry, a part of the grand design.

Oh dear I get way too honest on here sometimes. But another song I’ve grown remarkably fond of lately is Francesca Battistelli’s “If We’re Honest,” so as long as I’m helping at least one person with my words, I’ll keep writing them.

As always, you are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.

November’s Light – Trust and Release for December

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Jenny and me at this year’s Confirmation Retreat

I’ve been so nervous about writing this blog. The last month of 2018 absolutely kicked my ass. When I sat down to try to start writing this past Sunday, I struggled to find lessons about light, trust and release for the end of the year because it seemed like every time I got back on my feet to tackle the end of 2018, something else would knock me down.

As cheesy as it sounds, it took until the first day of 2019 for me to stop and reflect on how grateful I am for the challenges that 2018 handed me because they’re going to make me an even stronger person in 2019.

I’ve held onto a lot of anger in my life because of some things that I’ve been through, and that anger was especially present this holiday season with everything going on. When I was really scrambling for how to handle this (because you can only eat so many Heath bars), I found myself back at Sierra Boggess’s website to remind myself of the word (or in this case, words) for December: Trust and Release.

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My wonderful mother 

I spent much of December praying and putting my trust in God for life to work itself out the way it needs to, and mostly to release my anger. Through the pain and frustration, I’ve spent my December in my living room with candles while sipping on wine and curled up on the couch. I’ve made small splurges for myself and been there for my friends to the best of my abilities.

Throughout the mess that December has been, I’ve made my own light and learned to trust in God and release the pain and anger I’ve felt for so long.

Even if this blog isn’t one of my most profound or lengthy, as always, it feels good to get these feelings out in an honest way.

And again, as cheesy as I’m going to sound, here’s to 2019 and making new memories. I truly can’t wait to see what the new year has to hold for me.