Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

Changes

Hi everyone. Again, sorry about a nearly month-long hiatus. Soon after posting “Waking Up Happy”, I started dealing with some pretty bad depression (the worst I’ve had in a long time), actually skipping work because I felt so bad. Though I have been feeling better for about a week, I’ve been preparing for the so-called next chapter of my life: college.

Other than excuses, I have some pretty significant changes I’ve experienced in the past month or so. After over a year of enduring depression, my parents-well, mostly my mother-caved and agreed to take me to a psychiatrist before I go to college. I was exceedingly anxious prior to visiting the doctor, knowing that I usually cry when discussing this topic. And, of course, I did cry when he asked me to start describing how I had been feeling. We discussed the symptoms of depression, how depression affects the body, and how antidepressants can help.

I was relieved when he told me he certainly believed I had depression; I had been clobbered with self-doubt, wondering if maybe I wasn’t really depressed and was just going through a rough patch in my life. But depression is a real illness, which can be treated just like any other disease. When we started discussing antidepressants, my mom related her worries, and pointed out that, based on the symptoms he had described, most of the people she knew could be depressed.

He then related the most important symptom of depression: the disease affects one’s life and prevents one from functioning as they would without the depression. Though she claimed she did not see it interfering with my life, I reminded-or rather confessed-I had skipped work and school because of how I felt. The psychiatrist also stated I had been trying to solve the issue through other means, particularly therapy. Though I feel therapy helps me tremendously, I seem to have reached an impasse and can no longer progress forward in healing.

Soon after, I was prescribed some antidepressants, and have been taking them ever since. It’s been about a week now. In the past week I’ve had trouble sleeping, but I’ve started to fall back into my pattern, and last night got 7 whole hours of sleep.

I’m also looking forward to college more than I have thus far. Prior to this week, I’ve been terrified to embark on my college adventures, to the point where I was dreading my departure date. For some reason-maybe after talking with my roommate, feeling less depressed, rediscovering my love for biology, or a combination of the three-I’ve become obsessed with going to college. It’s one of the first things I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. I’m done with paint crew, my summer job, and just want to get back to academic work.

My first heat-of-the-moment post

I have never been one to write heat-of-the-moment anything: no crazy Facebook statuses about an ex or backstabbing friend, no personal Tumblr posts other than what I have shared on here (which have been carefully edited and looked over, written in a state of calm thoughtfulness). Sometimes I text sort of heat-of-the-moment, but only to my two best friends and/or ex. So sharing a depressive, momentary flash of emotions with the random public is not something I have ever really done before.

In the past week or so, I felt I have not done anything right whatsoever. I have suffered through my own mistakes and procrastination. I have been extra anxious about going places and doing different tasks for school, college or my summer job. I have been relying heavily on my mother’s assistance, and because I have been so anxious and depressed I have begun to take my bad feelings out on her, being mean even when she is trying to help. One night I overheard her frustredly complaining to my father how stressed she is between my issues and her own, partially contributing her high blood pressure to all the stress.

I instantly felt terrible, and wrote the following on Tumblr: “i hate posts about depression that include people talking about how shitty their parents are and thats why they’re depressed because they do not feed my depression. I am not the victim, I am the problem. I take everything out on the people who love me and hurting them because it makes me feel better. I’m a terrible daughter, sister, friend. I’m surprised my parents haven’t had heart attacks from dealing with me. Maybe soon.”

A part of me almost values this transitory snapshot. It’s raw, emotional, and as much “me” as these posts that I write with a calm mind. Is there a reason I should not be posting these things? If they were about a specific person, yeah maybe. It would be an innapropriate way to deal with the situation, and issues are best dealt with through direct conversation. But these were just emotions concerning myself that I decided to express in an unedited fashion.

Is there something wrong with that?

Perhaps I should be discussing these feelings with someone rather than posting them on Tumblr (yanno, direct conversation to solve problems), but the whole cause of my depression was due to feeling like I was putting all of my issues on someone else. I suppose I could have called or texted my therapist (because that’s her job), but it was too late at night.

Or maybe we have, as a society, decided that rash displays of feeling are negative. Most people view those types of Facebook statuses as ridiculous, and some bold people even comment on said statuses and convey their derogatory opinion on emotion-sharing on social media. If you feel something negative, you are told to keep it between yourself and whomever it may concern. However, when it comes to depression, you may be the only one who is involved in the war in your mind (directly at least). So perhaps we are conditioned to bottle these emotions inside of us and not share it with others, let alone those who vaguely follow our daily lives through social media.

Am I digging too deeply into this?

Ungrounded

Whereas last week I did not blog because I was just so gosh darned busy, this week I was plagued by senioritis, depression, and anxiety. I’ve been having a lot of mood swings lately. One minute I’m laughing at a joke my math teacher made or enjoying hanging out with my two fellow lab techs (my best friend and my ex), and the next I am musing how my math teacher stands for so much I hate in the world or despising (and being quite jealous of) my ex for explaining to a teacher how he was given a research intern position at his college over the summer. Just a minute ago I was motivated to write a blog and then poetry, work out, and start making appointments for paint crew as well as summer plans, and now I am amazed I have enough energy to write this simple post.

I feel ungrounded. As if I am just floating around in the middle of space, in the middle of the universe. I am very unattached to reality. I am floating through rough waters in a tiny boat without an anchor or a safe harbor to pull into. As the school year comes to a close and I am almost done with high school forever, I sense a tremendous lack of direction in my life. Previously I have always had an immediate goal to attend to: get an A on the test, do homework, go to a club meeting, prepare for prom, etc.

I still have objectives I need to achieve, such as filling out paperwork for college. However, all of these goals are seemingly abstract. I will be attending college in the fall, but this reality is still surreal, and therefore I cannot perform tasks for college without feeling more ungrounded than before. I was supposed to make my list of things I’ll need for my dorm and create a registry at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but did not get farther than signing up with my account.

In addition to this crazy senior feeling, I am suffering an inescapable case of senioritis, so my lack of motivation has really affected me; for example, I put off a project that was due today, and therefore spent last night completing it. In reality it would not have been too bad because I had finished most of it in class and just had to add some pictures, do a works cited page, and write a final paragraph, but I kept procrastinating and ended up going to bed past midnight, then waking up at 5:10am to finish.

This procrastination and the fact I had to present my project caused my anxiety to increase twofold. This troubling groundlessness-a lack of a sense of direction-also causes my anxiety and depression to skyrocket. I want to be active and work towards a goal, but I feel as if I have nowhere to aim anymore.

The Cotton Anniversary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_anniversary

It has been over two years since I started this blog in my Internet and Web Page Design class. So, I’m going to do what I did on my one year blogging anniversary (blogiversary?), relating 33 ways I have changed/33 things I have done in the past year.

1. I have engaged in therapy to treat depression and anxiety.

2. I have become, not of my own will, single again.

Wow I kind of started off really depressing. I promise it will not all be that bad!

3. I attended my first All Time Low Concert, which was friggin awesome. I started listening to more alternative/alternative rock music.

4. I won a $2,500 four-year scholarship from my dad’s union.

5. I got my first summer job, which was painting buildings for the town’s school district. Basically our paint crew went to different schools and repainted hallways, rooms, cafeterias, gyms, parking lots, etc. It was a really great job, 40 hours a week, and a little bit over minimum wage. This year if I do it again I’ll be paid even more!

6. I survived AP English. That is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but I improved my writing skills tremendously.

7. I applied to seven different colleges: I was not accepted to Dartmouth College or Johns Hopkins University (woah big surprise there), but was accepted to the University of Rochester, Gettysburg College, The College of New Jersey, Pittsburgh University, and Arcadia University.

8. We attempted to visit TCNJ but I was having an emotional low and my stomach felt bad (which could have been a side effect of the emotional low), so we ended up driving up there, driving around the campus, and coming home. We also visited Gettysburg where I got a fantastic feeling, and the University of Rochester, where I had thought I would be attending but when I got there the feeling was not right.

9. Ultimately, I decided to accept admission to Gettysburg College, and am extremely pleased with my decision.

10. I “played” soccer on the Varsity squad; in reality I was a benchwarmer, and soccer made me feel inferior and terrible about myself almost every day, so I am quite happy I will not have to deal with that pressure and negativity anymore. It was not the other players who were negative at all-they were all fantastic-it was just my own low self esteem causing itself to sink lower.

11. I received 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and have made it a life goal to visit as many of these places as possible.

12. I have gotten addicted to gaming videos on YouTube, and regularly follow everyone in Smosh Games. I have also begun watching Achievement Hunter, including Red vs. Blue. I am currently about to start the fifth season.

13. I have also become obsessed with vlogs, some of them including WatchUsLiveandStuff and MostlyMelanie, to the point where during my day I narrate my life as if I am doing a vlog. I have been considering how I would feel vlogging versus blogging. Should I try it? I do not know if I have the right presentation skills or technology, but maybe I can upgrade my camera before college and try it.

14. I survived 18 years on this planet. That also means I upgraded my license and can drive more than one person at a time.

15. For the NHS induction ceremony this year, the teacher I nominated to speak at the ceremony, my AP English teacher, was chosen. Subsequently, I was given the opportunity to write an introduction for her and speak at the ceremony, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because she is such an important mentor for me.

16. I lost my Mommom (my dad’s mom), which has been a complicated and very sad experience.

17. My ex and I came this close to winning our last Science League competition. We were only 8 points, or two questions, behind the dominant school at these competitions, and our two schools had essentially slaughtered everyone else. It was a fantastic way to end one of my favorite extracurricular activities.

18. I felt lonely, unmotivated, hateful, sad and a conglomeration of other negative emotions. I have essentially become a pessimist, which is a bit ironic or funny or whatever because I used to be the most optimistic person I knew.

19. I became a lab tech for my Chemistry teacher. Though most of the work she has given us has been menial, and the fact people always ask my ex for assistance makes me jealous still, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and how chill it is to hang out with the two Chemistry teachers during my SRE and lunch.

20. I saw Frozen, which was really personal for me because of the depression and anxiety Elsa experiences. We also blame Disney for promoting Frozen so much they decided to control the weather and make it the snowiest winter we’ve had in years.

21. Other than on this blog and my sister blog on Tumblr, I still do not share my writing pieces with other people. However, I have given my best friends and my ex (well, when we were together) permission to view my blog.

22. I took German IV (finally), and am so excited to pursue German as a minor in college.

23. I came this close to passing a 2100 on my SATs, but I think a 2090 excellent. Yeah this part of the list is pretty arrogant, but considering how low my self-esteem is, I hope you all will forgive it. Even though it is a worthless number that in no way gauges how smart you really are.

24. I did not attend the senior trip because my two friends did not go; I was not as upset as I thought I would be. I will get to Disney World…eventually.

25. I have decided, for the moment, I want to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while minoring in German; I could possibly add a minor in Neuroscience or English.

26. I have been expanding my comfort zone as far as food goes. Previously I have been a picky eater, but I have been trying new foods whenever I get the chance, worrying most of my family to the point that they will put a hand to my forehead to see if I am feverish.

27. I unfortunately engaged in self-harm, though I have been cut-free for months now. I think that deserves a =).

28. I tried to start learning for the knowledge instead of the grade, and to ingrain information in my mind for long-term learning rather than the short-term, forget-about-it-after-the-test thing I have been doing for most of my academic life. AP Chemistry made this sentiment a lot harder.

29. I attended Black and Gold Night, in which the entire high school is separated by last name and the Black and Gold teams duke it out, first in study hall activities like Pictionary and Wii Bowling, and then on Black and Gold Night, where they have a lot of spirit and athletic competitions. And, for the first time in YEARS, Gold Team (my team) won.

30. We successfully pranked my AP English teacher on April Fool’s Day and made her believe none of us had done our homework. It was one of the most amusing events I have ever witnessed.

31. I started watching Attack on Titan. I am not sure if I am in love with it yet (I have only seen the first three episodes), but I really want to find it subbed instead of dubbed, which is all I can seem to find. I abhor dubbed; it feels weird watching anime without the emotion of the original voice actors. Plus dramatic statements in English just sound awkward to me.

32. I ate at Panera for the first time ever, and have discovered their magical macaroni and cheese. Seriously, the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had. The macaroni, which I think is just spaghetti shells, is soft and the cheese is so gooey, a small cup of that with a piece of bread is enough dinner for me (but then again, I like eating multiple small meals).

33. Though my friends circle has, I suppose, shrunk a little, I still have the best friends in the world and love them dearly. For example, I was emotionally distraught this morning and just laid around the house all day. After telling them what was wrong, they came home over my house for a quick visit to hug me and tell me I’m perfect. They are the reason I have the energy to finish this blog (and hopefully complete other tasks throughout the day).

Well, that is probably the longest list I have written in awhile, so thank you if you actually read through all of it! Happy two years, Just Me and My Thoughts, and here’s to another year of blogging awesomeness!

WTF Bullying Comments

***Note: The comments used in this blog may not all be exact; some time has past between them. I have done my best to recreate the statement as it was said.***

Bullying continues to exist as a major problem in many schools throughout the United States. I have never personally been bullied, but have partaken in acts of bullying (especially when I was in elementary school…gosh I was a real bitch then) and have stood by as a guilty bystander, watching others be talked down to or discriminated against.

Notwithstanding how atrocious bullying is, I have discovered an occurrence that, in my opinion, is worse.

Attitudes about bullying.

You would think people would understand how wrong bullying is, and how we should do everything within our power, especially in schools, to dispose of bullying. But even those in high school who have undergone anti-bullying programs and campaigns for over a decade still retain a stance which lessens the severity of bullying.

On the Day of Silence, during which high school students across America vow not to speak in honor of all those who have been too afraid to stand up for themselves and to raise awareness against bullying, I was appalled to hear a peer’s critique of the Day of Silence:

“Those who have been bullied have had chances to tell someone they are being bullied.”

First, those who are bullied usually aren’t the most extroverted individuals; they are usually introverted people who will experience difficulty trying to tell a trusted adult or peer they are being bullied. Second, this individual failed to recognize how bullying affects one’s mental health. When someone tells another person they are ugly or fat or worthless, many people will just shrug it off because they have the self-confidence to disregard the comment. However, those with low self esteem are prone to taking such comments to heart, to the point where these individuals truly believe what their bullies are saying about them. Ostracization is also detrimental to one’s mental health, and can cause loneliness, depression or (social) anxiety. Even if one musters the courage to report bullying, negative remarks can haunt someone.

Sorry we’re all not as extroverted and self-confident as you.

Flash forward to present day. My calculus teacher enjoys embarking on tangents, and today he began speaking about how technology makes life more complicated; for example, it renders cyber-bullying much easier. This was a fellow student’s response:

“I don’t get cyber-bullying. If you’re being bullied online, just turn your computer off.” 

Oh okay. That’s pretty simple. Because I’m the victim, let me change my lifestyle so I do not get picked on. Because I’m the victim, I’ll just have to remove myself from activities I enjoy, like going on social media websites, so I do not get bullied. As a victim, why can’t you just remove yourself from any place you would be bullied?

But why should you have the deal with it in the first place?

The worst part about these comments is they suggest bullying is not as heinous as it truly is. The first comment essentially states “Oh, if you were bullied you should have done A and B and solved your own problem”. The second relates the victim should simply avoid places where they would be bullied, which is ridiculous, because everyone should be able to enjoy life without being bullied. Furthermore, this comment suggests cyber-bullying is the victim’s fault. Bullying is the bully’s fault, not the victim’s.

I understand these comments reflect an attitude that believes victims of bullying can and should take the necessary steps to stand up for themselves, address the situation, and reach a solution. But they seem to miss the point that bullying is traumatic and thoroughly wrong.

No one, and I mean absolutely no one, should be bullied.

Going Batty (In More Ways Than One)

This morning I woke up and there was a bat in the basement. No, not the baseball kind. This cute lil brown thing with fur, wings and the tiniest little fangs.

Thankfully, I was not the one who stumbled upon it in our basement because I would have freaked out. My dad was going downstairs for some toiletries and heard something squeaking. When he looked on the floor, he saw this thing, which he thought, in a slight panic, was a giant tarantula before taking a closer look. He yelled upstairs to my mother, commanding her to get a sheet, and he wrapped it up and brought the bat outside into broad daylight.

When I got outside, it was sitting in the same spot where my father had left it, a mulch-filled area by our deck where my mom attempts to grow flowers. We threw some apples its way, moistened a rag (in case it got thirsty?) and built a sheet fort for it to hide from the sun and predators.  I felt really bad for the lil thing. Now we aren’t quite sure where it is, but we’re guessing it took shelter in the dark area under our deck.

A literal bat is not the only thing crazy going on around here lately. My car (really my parent’s car that they are so wonderful as to let me borrow) wouldn’t shut off; the key would not turn in the hole. We took it to the dealer and I’ve got to wait a few weeks before new parts can come in. We received a free rental car, but because I’m only 18, I can’t legally drive it. This gives me a few options, which include:

  1. taking the bus (undesirable but not all that bad)
  2. allowing my grammy to drive us to and from school (she scares me a little when she drives, so I might have to take over the driving. Additionally, I don’t want to burden her)
  3. driving my dad’s truck so he can drive the rental car. This would seem like the best option, except this truck randomly shuts off in the middle of turns, which terrifies me. It’s a whole lot larger than my weeniemobile (that’s my name for the car I’ve been driving), so I would be uber nervous driving it. I’d probably end up leaving earlier from school and waiting for all the other cars to leave before I drive home because I’d be really anxious trying to get out of the tight senior parking lot.

I turned 18 this week, which is crazy in itself. I’ll be able to get my adult, no-strings-attached license on Monday, and then I won’t have to drive with the little red stickers on the car and I’ll be able to drive as many people as I want. I can sign up to vote. I’m an adult, but I don’t feel any different.

However, the thing driving me veritably insane is the looming decision of college. I’m choosing between two divergent schools, the University of Rochester and Gettysburg College. Rochester is in a sweet location, has awesome academics in sciences, particularly in Molecular Genetics, is a research university, and has fantastic diversity. Prior to my visit there last weekend, I was set on attending Rochester in the fall. However, Gettysburg’s close-knit atmosphere really spoke to me, whereas Rochester, much like the climate, seemed cold and stuffy, and just a little snooty.

Moreover, I’m terrified I will get really depressed and overwhelmed in Rochester and my family will be really, really far away. Conversely, I feel like by going to Gettysburg, I’ll always be asking myself the question of “What if”. I have the opportunity to attend this amazing school, perfectly fitted for my educational and career goals…so why am I not immediately grasping this chance? Thinking this over at all times during the day has depressed me more and caused my motivation levels to plummet. I’m hoping to make my decision this weekend, though I’m not rushing or anything. I just can see the reasons for going to each school, and can’t decide which is a better fit.

It’s sort of a head vs. heart decision. It’s also choosing between comfort and a less challenging path or deciding to grab opportunity, which leads me to my final question: Does it take more strength to push yourself beyond your limits, risking your own sanity, or to choose a path you like more notwithstanding it’s not the best option for your future?