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Normal in Training – The Dilemma of Being Human

I am currently reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which is awesome! . . .

The other night I read a line in the book that gave me pause: “Harold cold no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and this was the dilemma of being human.”

This statement is at the heart of what my blog is about. I have always felt different from others in a way that makes me feel alone in the world. For being Filipino and for not being Filipino enough. For thinking too much and for being too shallow. For not being married, for being divorced, for not having children. For having depression and anxiety. Even without these specific differences to point to, I have felt fundamentally flawed in a way that I can’t quite put into words.

But as I blog about my flaws, I realize that other people feel just like I do–alone in their craziness. The details make us unique, but the pain of feeling separate from others is universal.

So in a way I feel like I am Harold Fry, on my journey to self-acceptance, but with a much less rigorous physical activity component. And as I tell my story, I give others the opportunity to reflect on their own story so that we can share the joy and pain of being human together.

Read more of Christy’s story! Visit The Dilemma of Being Human | Normal in Training.

The Elephant in the Room – Here Comes the Anxiety

I’ve suspected for a while that I have been developing some form of social anxiety, I’ve been avoiding people, staying in bed longer than I should and not wanting to go to work. But today, for the first time I truly realised the severity of my “new” condition.

When I was younger, I can’t pinpoint the exact age, Sometimes, when I was surrounded by a lot of people, or I had to talk in front of the class or even sometimes just randomly for no reason I would suddenly feel like I wasn’t ok and that I wanted to be at home lying on the sofa with my blanket and a milkshake. I used to refer to it (in my head as I never told anyone about it) as the “milkshake feeling” (I used to drink nothing but strawberry milkshake from about the age of 3-12) I hadn’t had the “milkshake feeling” for a long time but yesterday I had it twice.

It doesn’t last long, but it makes me feel like I need to get away from things, I feel like I want to go and lie on the floor, and curl up or hide, I feel scared, like I’m going to lose control and start crying and all I can think about is being in the one place that I must assume is “safe” my sofa. With the things that made me happy as a child. Is this a panic attack? I don’t know, but what I do know is that sometimes this is accompanied with a breathless feeling and worry and it is panic induced. . .

I think the “milkshake feeling” is a nostalgic feeling of being content. It reminds me of when I would have a sick day from school and I would lay on the sofa (with my milkshake) and watch TV. I guess I felt safe because I was indoors, happy because I wasn’t at school and looked after because I was a child and my mum was there watching TV and making sure I was ok, of course, this is different now and I wouldn’t expect her to drop everything and look after me if I threw up a few times. It’s that feeling of safety that I guess is my brains go to juncture when I really start to panic.

Read more of The Elephant in the Room’s story! Visit Here Comes the Anxiety | The Elephant in the Room.

Normal in Training – Declaration of Independence

I like to think of this process as a kind of declaration of independence–from our demons, from judgment, from fear. It happens every time someone goes to AA and admits they’re an alcoholic. Every time someone finds the courage to say I have an eating disorder. I struggle with depression. I live in fear. In making this declaration, they take away the power that their condition has to make them feel weak. Defective. Crazy.

To a lesser extent, I think of my blog as a kind of declaration of independence. I’ve tried to hide these things about myself all my life. I don’t want to be held hostage by them anymore. I want to be able to embrace everything that makes me who I am–especially the things that I am ashamed of.

The president of the student organization I advise, Active Minds, told me that he reads my blog, which kind of freaked me out at first. But he thought it was the most powerful way to fight stigma and to let other students know that they are not alone in their struggles with mental illness, which is the primary goal of Active Minds. So he is finding ways to give students the opportunity to make their own public declarations. It is a wonderful feeling to know that this has come out of my willingness to share my vulnerabilities.

I’ve always liked the expression that freedom isn’t free. You have to fight for it. Although blogging has been a surprisingly supportive and positive experience, I am well aware that there will be times when someone will judge me for what I say. I try to prepare myself for it by doing what my client is doing–to remind myself that ultimately, the only person who counts is me. Then I take a deep breath and hit Publish.

Read more of Christy’s story! Visit Declaration of Independence | Normal in Training.

Trigger Warning: Brief talk of sexual assault

Passion for Life, Love, and Health – What it’s Like to Feel Suicidal (or, How to Make Sense of it All)

Trigger Warning: Extensive talk of suicide – in a sensitive, non-graphic, but still potentially triggering manner. But something I felt strongly enough about to share here nonetheless.

Suicide is an irrational thing.
When you ask that question, you are trying to find reason in the unreasonable. Rationality in the irrational. Sense in the senseless. It’s just not there.

However.
To the individuals considering this potentially final act of their lives, it feels VERY rational.

There can be all kinds of reasons in their minds that make it desirable, or even seem as though it’s their only option – that they have no other choice.

And when confronted with rational statements – perhaps explaining why their reasons aren’t as valid and solid as they feel they are – believe it or not, that (at least in my experience) doesn’t help. In fact, it can make the individual feel even worse. . .

Making sense of it all
Suicide rarely – if ever – makes sense to those left behind.

But this is the nature of suicidal thinking. It doesn’t make sense to you because it really shouldn’t make sense.

The only way you can make sense of it is to recognize that the individual is not thinking 100% rationally (despite how they might feel). . .

When you berate someone for contemplating or even completing suicide, you are displaying a blatant misunderstanding and ignorance about the issue. Of course, this probably isn’t your fault (so please don’t take that statement personally), as there are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas out there.

I’m writing this post to help combat those misconceptions and stigmas. To bring a smidgen of understanding to an oft misunderstood act. . .

And it can go the other way, too. Sometimes I feel like such a burden on my loved ones that I think I would be doing them a favor to leave their lives. That my fiancé deserves so much more happiness than I can provide, for example. It is selfish of me to stick around when my existence causes so many problems.

That is another example of when the irrational feels rational.

So rather than think of us as selfish for wanting to do something that can cause so much anguish to others, keep in mind that often times we’re doing everything in our power to keep from being selfish. Whether it’s hanging on to spare others’ their pain or letting go to spare others’ their pain, the sentiment is still the same.

And for those who do follow through and succeed, remember: it’s not rational. It doesn’t make sense. Chances are very good they held on much longer than they wanted to, to keep from hurting anyone. And to go through with it anyway, they must have been in unimaginable pain.

Read more of Ashleigh’s story. Visit Passion for Life, Love, and Health – What it’s Like to Feel Suicidal (or, How to Make Sense of it All).

Trigger Warning: Talk of suicide (as previously mentioned)

Normal in Training – Self-Soothing

It is as though I am a new mother with a baby that is easily upset but I have no idea what’s wrong with her or how to comfort her. And obviously she can’t tell me because she’s a baby. And I am not a patient mother. I am in a hurry. I don’t have time for this.

My therapist would always tell me that I haven’t learned ways to soothe myself–to comfort myself, calm myself down–which is part of the reason why I’m so anxious. I sort of understood but not really. I was kind of like, well then tell me how to soothe myself!

But now I realize that learning how to comfort yourself is a lot like getting to know your baby. You learn from trial and error how to distinguish the hunger cry from the tired cry. You learn the idiosyncratic things that make her feel better–like driving around the block, or putting music on, or cradling her in a certain way. . .

I am slowly learning how to be a better parent to myself. I am trying to be more patient when I appear to be anxious for no reason. I am trying to be more compassionate. More comforting. More understanding. It’s unfortunate that being mean to myself comes so naturally but being nice to myself takes so much practice.

Read more of Christy’s story! Visit Self-Soothing | Normal in Training.