A Spoonful of Support Helps the Medicine Go Down

When I was a little girl I remember watching an episode of Oprah. Man, did that woman know how to work a talk show and get those tears going. Almost every single time I happened to bump into one of her shows, she was somehow giving the audience members gifts of ginormous proportions.

But there was one episode in particular that has stuck in my head since and it was this whole discussion about medicine. How people in this day and age use pills to numb their aching backs, heal their headaches, relieve their stomach pain or even mend their broken hearts. This guest speaker kept talking about how we are so incredibly dependent on medicine that we no longer know what real emotion, real pain and real human struggle feels like. We use these tablets as crutches and sooner or later it becomes us.

And I remember sitting there as a young healthy nine year old girl agreeing with every word they said.

Then as an eighteen year old, I decided it was time to talk about medicine and the good that it does to society.

When I talk about the good of medicine, I am not referring to people with addictions that absolutely need heroin or cocaine in order to function. There is a difference between drugs and medicine.

I believe we are actually a society that fears taking medicine. For some reason, having a prescription for anything but the common cold makes us feel like we are doing ourselves a disservice. For some odd reason, we are suddenly not normal. We push ourselves and for others to not take medicine, because having to swallow something that sits in an orange pill bottle from Walgreens pharmacy makes us feel defeated.

To say to others, “Yes, I need to take Xanax every single day in order to feel okay” suddenly equates itself with “I am a failure of a human being and I cannot count on myself to be okay.”

I’m saying this because I have said it. Having depression in the fourth grade and then being re-diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder my freshman year has led me to believe the latter statement. I have cried many nights telling myself that I can do without medicine. I have heard people tell me that they wish they didn’t have to see me take my prescriptions.

I have been pressured by my parents to not take medication because their excuse is “it’s bad to take medicine. And you’re so young, you shouldn’t have to take it.” I have cried to my therapist and told her that I didn’t want whatever she prescribed to me. I have seen doctors look at me funny when I tell them what I have to take for my medical history.

I believed that I would be normal if I didn’t take medication.

I have experienced internal conflict where I feel as if I am less capable or less brave since I need to be on something in order to not cry, panic or feel hopeless; I try to not take anything because I would rather fake being normal and believe that I am stronger and I am able to do without what I have been prescribed.

There should never be stigma about taking medicine. As long as you are not misusing it and becoming physically/mentally dependent on it and you are instead using it to forward yourself and to make your life better and more controllable, then you are doing nothing wrong. If what you are taking is giving you the ability to feel normal, then for the love of God, please take it.

Is it nice to be able to say that you don’t need to take pills to be okay?

Yes, of course it is.

But as long as human beings exist, problems will surface and as long as we are alive, we will have to suffer through pain. And sometimes despite all the things that we use to make life a little easier, we need to take what is necessary to get through that one day or that year or that decade.

I am not saying at all that we should convert to shoving pills down our throats constantly; I am saying that with proper use, no one should be shamed or feel guilt for having to do so. How can we expect people to get better if we are slamming down the very thing that can aid them to become better?

A good attitude and healthy lifestlye goes along with taking medication. Taking pills can only do so much, but if we allow ourselves to accept it instead of marking it with disgust and disappointment, then we will be taking the first step to understand what good medicine can do.

Are you weak for having to take pills?

No.

Am I normal?

Yes. 

Life by no means is perfect and neither is the human body. We do what we can, but at the end of the day sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. And you know what?

That’s okay.

This is not a question about strength and bravery. Needing to take medication does not by any means make you any less of a strong individual. If anything, you are your own hero for understanding what your body needs and how this tablet can help you rather than destroy you.

.

Shoot Myself First: Hope, Faith, Love and Suicide

When I watched The Walking Dead I jokingly and obnoxiously told my friends that if a zombie apocalypse were to happen, I would probably shoot myself first just so I would not have to deal with the anxiety and terror of getting bitten, seeing my family die and not knowing who would betray me for the sake of food or shelter. Living in constant fear would be too much for me and I would much rather not take a part in it.

But all jokes aside, if we were pushed to live in a world where everything had ultimately turned against us, what would be stopping us and what would be that fire that kept us going? We don’t have to fight the living dead to understand that type of fear.

What exactly brings us to overcome adversity and choose the path of survival over suicide?

I didn’t find the answers in The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but I did find something quite peculiar. It was then that I was struck by this idea of endurance, but not the silly type where you just use it as a theme in a standard English class. The book is centered around two unnamed characters. A father and his son are trekking across America in hopes of reaching California in post-apocalyptic America. Cannibalism is a means of survival, law no longer exists and societal organization is an idea of the past.

Obviously we’re not facing an apocalyptic threat (I hope we never do), but the question still remains the same. Each of us face something in our lives that make us sing out, “if it doesn’t kill us, it’ll make us stronger.” If not now, we will all face an event, a personal struggle in the future, that makes us question if everything is still worth it. When something does shake us to the point where we reconsider trying again or fighting…what is it that makes us continue? We have a choice and we can end our lives if we want to, but we stop because of fear, of consequences, of guilt, shame etc.

Some people say God, others say hope, but I say its something that each and every one of us is instilled with: irrational faith.

And I’m not necessarily talking about religion and some spiritual meditation (although that works as well); I’m talking about the irrational faith that everyone (religious and non-religious alike) use to cope with the daily struggles of life.

The type of illogical mindset I’m focusing on is when you study and you work every single day for 21 years of your life to get a degree so that you can find a suitable job, a wonderful spouse and a safe home. We’re told that each of us are given the tools needed to succeed academically and we are given the opportunities that can give us that push to live the dream.

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is that no matter how hard we yearn, endure and agonize for those hard earned exam scores, those letters of recommendation that gets you the foot in the door, we may not succeed. And yet, we work hard and pull all nighters because we think there might just be a chance for us to succeed.

Not all of us will, but we continue because we believe that maybe, just maybe…

we can be the lucky few.

This same irrational faith is what pulls us out of bed in the morning, makes us try again and again to perfect that one tennis shot, gives us the ability to give someone a second chance and ultimately it’s what pulls us through the depths of Hell when we feel drowned by the flames.

Am I promoting suicide? No, I don’t believe we should quit and end our lives because something awful hit us when we least expected it. I do believe we are incredibly strong to choose life even when suicide becomes a viable option.

We pride ourselves in being rational thinkers and logical beings but we have a stamina that is beyond description and a hope that extends all reasonable thought. When we learn about the struggles others face in this life and all the people you know that have been downtrodden by unfortunate events, I cannot believe the resilience we show as a race, as a community and as individuals.

I could be wrong. Maybe the reason why people strive to live despite the circumstances held against them is because they are afraid of death. But when life has nothing left to promise you, I would argue that death may be the better option or an indifferent thought.

Whatever the case may be, we allow ourselves to go through Hell and endure the pain that comes with it rather than pushing the gun to our temple and shooting ourselves first.

What You Learn From Reading Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

This is a small compilation of what I learned from reading Wuthering Heights. 

1. It’s almost always okay to act like a complete bitch if you are a character of a literary classic. Apparently it makes you all the more desirable and multi-faceted as an individual. Thank you, Catherine, for helping all of us young girls become more high maintenance than we ought to be.

2.  The myth of bad boys being the ultimate chick magnet is reinforced a heck of a lot more by Heathcliff’s dark and brooding manner. This 1847 novel reveals that even back in the nineteenth century, nice guys still finished last.

3. For those Harry Potter fans that are obsessed with the Lily Potter and Severus Snape relationship, Wuthering Heights just makes the fangirling even more hardcore. We tear up when we read about Heathcliff seeing Catherine’s eyes in her daughter and we sob when we read of Professor Snape telling Harry he has his mother’s eyes. Or maybe that’s just me.

4. Unhealthy relationships that are tempermental, violent and obsessive/possessive make for a great read. Although, it would probably be best to avoid that in real life, Heathcliff and Catherine are glorified and placed on a pedestal in some interpretations.

5. You will never be able to understand Joseph no matter how hard you try. Period.

6. If anyone were to write another sappy love story that modernized the lines, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” it would turn into, “Oh my God!!! We’re like, perfect for each other. We are so totally made for one another, it’s insane. He completes me.” Thank goodness this book was written when sentences were thoughtfully created and people made everything sound elegant. Doesn’t hurt that its British too.

7. The first time you read through this book, there was a part of you that worried that Heathcliff would have a pedophiliac relationship with young Cathy Linton.

8. I have never seen a greater dislike or adoration for this novel. You either hate it to the point where burning the book would be suffice or hold it to your chest dearly while you cry tears of sorrow for the characters.

To the Late Virginia Woolf

I’ll start out by saying that I have never read most of your books. Well, to be completely honest, I’ve dabbled here and there with “To the Lighthouse” and by dabbled I mean I read the first couple chapters and I put it down because my head hurt and I saw something in young adult fiction that caught my eye. But I did read “Mrs. Dalloway.”

It was required. But good, don’t get me wrong.

You are certainly not someone that I have had in my life nor have your ideas been of much influence on me in the grand scheme of things. And I’ll just say right here, right now that the only real time I ever understood what “To the Lighthouse” even meant happened in high school when my teacher went bonkers on how incredible the reoccurring concepts of time and change in the novel were. That intrigued me and the idea of it was fascinating. But not until I actually picked it up and read it did I realize I could not fully comprehend what you were trying to say.

Now the reason why I am speaking to you isn’t because of the legacy you left behind, but merely because I happened to be googling one day and decided to Wikipedia the lives and upbringings of the best authors the world has ever come to know. So yes, you can thank Wikipedia for our little rendezvous today.

When I was younger, I saw a film based on your life and the only part I remember is when the leading lady stuffed her dress pockets with large stones and calmly walked into the middle of the river and silently slipped under the surface.

And that was the end of that.

I remember reading your early life bio and how you were briefly institutionalized after the death of your father and the sudden pass of your mother and half sister led to one of your first nervous breakdowns. I read all this and even though you will never meet me and I am someone you will never exchange words with, I’ll admit I cried when I read it. These were not just facts that someone wrote down on some half updated internet post.

And that’s not to say that I want to suddenly pat you on the back and say, “I know how you feel,” but I want to say nothing and nod my head and hold you while you cry and be there when a rush of emotions comes through you that you wish you could explain but cannot. I’d cry with you when you were too shocked and too removed from the world to function even in the slightest bit because the people that once gave you more meaning to life than you could ever possibly bring into the world is now gone and there is no vacant hallway, deserted kitchen area or untouched piano room you could ever venture into to find them.

When even the most skilled occupation made possible with your pen and paper could not be done because your mind could never be brought back to reality again, I’d hold you and listen to the wails and sobs escaping your throat. That maybe we are not so dissimilar and if we removed the aspects of time, experience, age and upbringing, we could look each other in the eye and say, “I understand you.”

Because I read the last note to your husband before you filled your pockets with stones and said you were going to go mad again and that you could not ever go back into one of those terrible times, I cried because I’ve said it before. And you watch yourself be known as depressed, bipolar, suicidal and mentally ill and all that means nothing because people don’t know and nobody truly knows what it means to be sick and watch yourself become someone you don’t know, someone you thought you would never become. I know why you did it, and as much as people say that your death was an act of suicide, I disagree. At no point did you want to put those stones in your pocket nor did you want to allow the water to enter your lungs. A gun was held to your head, but you were not the one guiding it.

How many years has it been between us and the emotions are still the same, the feeling of being the trouble and burdening the ones who love us and striving so incredibly hard to be one’s own self, but failing each time? Living by merely scraping by and hoping that the next day and the next after that feels less like death and Hell all wrapped up into one. That the ones who are sick are unknown and can’t act for themselves and for them, literal death becomes sweeter and far more gentle than anything they can ever imagine.

To the late Virginia Woolf, I salute you.
May you find peace and know happiness in ways that you could not in life.

The English Major’s Guide to Books You Should Avoid

Not all books are written equally. Let’s be quite clear on this statement: there are some titles that magically appeared in your high school English classes or your syllabus on the first day of school. Who put them there you ask? Tradition, stubborn professors or old literary critics who still worship the classics of the past.

Some titles are wonderful, but become overrated by the constant reteaching of it in schools. As a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criticism, pessimism and disappointment, here is a small list of novels you should run very…very…very far away from.

1. “Robinson Crusoe”

Stupid guy gets on a boat despite his father’s warnings. There’s a big storm, boat crashes, some stuff happens. Still not fazed by the fact that he almost died, he gets on another ship and BOOM another storm. Everyone dies, he gets washed onto a supposedly deserted island.

Long story short, substitute the ship with a plane, and a cannibal who befriends him with a volleyball that has a bloody hand print on it and you got the movie “Cast Away.”

Seriously.

Just like “Cast Away.”

2. “The Grapes of Wrath”

How many people can die or go missing on this family’s desperate trip to California?

Six.

How many novels do you know of that end with a young woman breast feeding a middle aged man?

Just this one, my friend.

I have immense respect for Steinbeck as an author, but my eyes died after 528 pages of this drawn out novel. It could have ended long before it began.

3. “The Catcher in the Rye”

Albeit, I was a sad little teenage girl when I first read this. It was something that hit home with me and I cried when Phoebe got on that carousel. Loved this novel until my high school teacher told us that the message was mainly about how this angsty boy did not want to let other kids grow up. What?! Man, have I ever misread something.

4. “The Great Gatsby”

The green light. We get it.

5.  ”As I Lay Dying”

Dead body + dying wish to be buried in hometown + coffin + dysfunctional family = do not touch this book.

A mother passes and her wish is to be buried somewhere that will take her family nine days to travel by carriage. Okay, let’s stop and think about this. Nine days carrying a decomposing body across land and water (oh yeah, they almost lose her coffin in the river). I’ll be honored to rename this novel to, “As I Lay Dying I Stank Up the Whole Freaking Town and Made Everyone’s Face Look Like This:”

 Yes, James Franco did do a 2013 remake of this novel. No, I will never watch it.

If you love these novels, cool. My opinion is by no means the truth and because I’m constantly being told to read this great novel or this revolutionary piece of literature, I like to poke fun at the classics we all hold dearly. Because at the end of the day, this is just a nerd’s post on a bunch of nerdy books. Don’t hate, just appreciate.

What You Learn from Reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In high school, there was one book that my A.P. English teacher could not get enough of. It was something that we read at the end of the year and it was the one novel that I think she continues to read over and over again after she’s set it down. This is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce…and this is what you learn from a brilliant, yet completely incomprehensible, Irish writer.

1. You read the first couple lines and you set it right back down. Why? Because what the fuck is this?!?!

“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . .”

2. You ask yourself time and time again if this novel is about religion, education, art, beauty, maturation, identity, politics, loyalty, self-discovery….and you get confused time and time again because it’s about all of it and more.

3.  So…..what is art?

4. What is beauty?

5. What is love? BABY DON’T HURT ME, DON’T HURT ME…NO MORE…

5. Where the hell are the quotation marks?

6. You read something thinking you understand it and read it again and realize you never knew what was going on from the beginning.

7. You feel dumb reading any of Stephen’s philosophical words of wisdom:

Rhythm is the first formal esthetic relation of part to part in any esthetic whole or of an esthetic whole to its part or parts or of any part to the esthetic whole of which it is a part.” 

Translation: “How much wood can a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood.”

8. After reading smart people talk for so long, this is your reaction after reading: “when you wet the bed, first it is warm, then it gets cold.”

Why Growing Up Is Actual Bullsh*t

Don’t get me wrong, I think at some point everyone needs to give up thinking that Santa can actually fit himself down your chimney and leave presents for you just because you didn’t stick bubble gum in your sister’s hair all year. I’m not talking about that type of growing up, because understanding the consequences of life and accepting the truths and your own responsibilities or mistakes are a sign of maturation.

What I am talking about is coming to an age where you really have no freaking clue who you are. And in this society, that is never okay. There are some people who have a firm grasp on who they are and what they want do with that identity, but there are some who go miles and miles trying to get the slightest idea of what their purpose is and why they matter in the grand scheme of things. Because you see, not knowing where you are in life at the age of thirty five somehow becomes equivalently aligned with failure, laziness and being a goof up. We become so infatuated with this idea that everyone is going to discover their calling one day and why they are meant to be here, but the ultimate truth is that it does not happen like that. After years of wandering around in high school and then college and then in an eight to five work day, sometimes the bottom line is we never figure it out.

And in this society, that should be okay.

I am not some math problem that takes exactly twenty five years, forty eight days, eighteen hours, thirty three minutes and ten seconds to come to one definite answer. It may be that I will never be able to figure myself out.

And to some degree, there is beauty in that. Since when did the human race ever pride itself on being simple and perfunctory in all that it does? Since when did all the great artists, writers, leaders and scientists follow up with a chant, “WHO WE ARE IS NO TEST, WE HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS CAUSE WE’RE THE BEST!” (alright, maybe they would have been able to rhyme better than me and not be corny). Did we ever come to the conclusion that the reason why we are so special and wonderfully intricate is because we are anything but a straight forward answer? If anything, we have no fucking clue who we are and this pressure to grow up and be sure of what it is that we want is an expectation that defies what being human is.

We will lose ourselves over and over again.

Sometimes we will get lost and confused.

Sometimes we will find something and other times nothing.

Because in the end, we don’t always need to know to be sure.