Day in My Life

Hey guys!

Here is a brief day in my life video to just show what I’ve been doing lately.

Love,

Paige

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The dark night that made me face my depression

 

It was a Wednesday night around midnight when I left my friend’s house. It was about a 10-minute drive to my apartment. That night though I was in a really broken spot. It doesn’t make any sense but I started driving and driving fast. I as I drove tearing up the empty roads I realized I didn’t want to go home.

So I drove past the road my apartment was on and got on the loop around my city. The speed limit was 65 but under the night sky I was all alone and I decided to test the limits of my car and my driving skills. The road was empty as I accelerated. Faster and faster I drove until I hit 105. For the first time in weeks, I felt alive. I couldn’t really remember feeling anything but numb in a long time. The feeling of speed, freedom, and control. The type of control I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was amazing for just a moment.

As I neared the exit to my apartment I began to slow down. The short high I was riding made me feel like I could finally go home, face going back to my room, and sitting with my thoughts and feelings. That was before I saw the lights come on behind me.

I was already on the exit ramp so I continued to exit then pulled over to the shoulder after getting off the ramp. The numb feeling returned immediately. I couldn’t find it within me to say much of anything or even care. I had no idea how long the officer had been following me or what he had clocked me at. He approached the window and I handed over my license. I felt the heat in my cheeks reminding me that I was still there but beyond that, I felt nothing. I didn’t have it in me to cry, to beg, to lie. There was nothing there. The officer asked if I had a reason to be going 90. The question barely registered to me. I mumbled no as I felt that saying anything else would have him arrest me or involuntarily admit me. I knew I couldn’t sound reasonable in that moment. I couldn’t be charming, or witty, cunning or intelligent. I couldn’t be anything. Just numb. I took the ticket feeling nothing and drove myself home.

The next morning I decided to call my Dad. He has always been a bit of a speed demon himself so I figured out that maybe he would be more understanding. His response was “Ninety? Ninety???” I didn’t know what to say. He was mad but not overly furious. After my confession, he figured that was it but then I just let everything that I had bottled up and tried to fix on my own pour out at once. I finally said the words out loud. Words I suspected were true but had avoided acknowledging for over a year. “Dad, I think I have depression.” 

I had kept thinking it would get better. That I could fix it. That I could find the motivation to start living again. To get out of bed. To go to class. To be a person. That night on the road though I realized that I couldn’t fix this on my own. That speeding ticket was a hard blow to my bank account but in some ways, I think it may have saved my life. It finally made me admit I needed help and seek it out.

Sobbing to my dad on the phone that morning as he sat hundreds of miles away was the beginning of my journey to healing. He was shocked, but he responded better than I could have expected. With his help and the help of one of his coworkers, we set up my first therapy appointment for later that week. I was nervous but now I was finally committed to getting help and I had the accountability of family.

Going to therapy helped me learn that I wasn’t insane or lazy or stupid but that I had a real condition that millions of others deal with too. Finally having someone who believed me when I explained that sometimes I just couldn’t get out of bed, or that I just couldn’t go to class, or I just couldn’t do anything was such a relief. While I still had tremendous feelings of guilt and shame I could see how being listened to rather than judged as many of my friends had done was helping me. I could also see how his understanding, not approval but understanding regarding that night on the road helped me forgive myself a little bit for one of the darkest moments of my life. My therapist also gave me hope in the pit of my despair that recovery was possible. I couldn’t see that future from the hole I was in but it was a small bit of hope.

He also encouraged me to seek help from a psychiatrist. I am currently taking an anti-depressant. I also moved home with my family so that I could have a stronger support network. While I still have ups and downs I am finally able to be a person again and act like myself the majority of the time. I have managed to hold down jobs, Be present in the moment most of the time, and feel positive about the future.

I wish that I hadn’t endangered my own safety and the safety of the people who could have been on the road that night but I have managed to mostly forgive myself. My bank account is a little lighter but so is the weight of depression now that I have sought help.

If you are dealing with depression or another form of mental illness I hope my story encourages you to seek the help you need long before you are looking at red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror and being handed a  citation with a court date. Seek help before you hit rock bottom. The sooner you get help the sooner you can start the path to healing. Asking for help is brave. Never feel ashamed to need help. You don’t have to hide this or face it alone.

With love,

Paige

Hurricane Harvey and Reflections on Returning to Houston

(Sorry about the hashtags. I am learning how to use Instagram stories and forgot to save before I added text)

Here are my reflections on Harvey over the past few days. They are a bit scatterbrained but hopefully you can follow my thoughts. I am lucky that my family and our home were safe during the hurricane. So many weren’t as lucky as us.

As Harvey was coming in, I was fortunate to be going out. I felt glad in a way, that I was outsmarting the hurricane, although typing that statement now makes me feel disgusted with myself. It wasn’t really until I got to LA that the real magnitude of what was happening hit me. You can hear predictions and statistics all day long but the ugly truth is, there is nothing like seeing something in action.

See Harvey, I and the world did.

My social media, usually filled with puppies and fashion on Instagram, and politics and cat videos on Facebook, was inundated with videos showing devastation around my city. The rain came pouring down, and there was nothing any of us could do to stop it. All we could do was watch in horror, as streets and homes filled with water. I watched as families and their pets were rescued by boats from their houses, they believed would always keep them safe and dry.

There I sat dry and 1373 miles away, watching catastrophe unfold at home, as the city around me operated business as usual.

In LA I found myself in a bizarre world where simply saying “I’m from Houston” suddenly received responses not dissimilar to the ones I get when I say “I had cancer”. No one ever wants their hometown to be the subject of pity and awkward silences. Suddenly home became a headline, synonymous with utter devastation. I never thought I’d miss the days of people asking me if I rode a horse to school. Now all the Texas stereotypes seem welcome.

It’s frustrating because, I want people to know Houston for it’s achievements not Hurricane Harvey. I want them to see a city that produces energy for the world and has the world’s largest Medical center. The 4th largest city in the US, has been reduced to dirty water and people canoeing down interstates, as the eyes of the nation and the world gaze upon us. It’s a very odd feeling.

Flying in this morning a sense of relief washed over me.The rest of the people on UA 2027 from LAX to IAH seemed to share the feeling. It was nice to be home, even if the landscape of that home is forever altered.

Viewing the remains of Harvey from the air was a unique and sobering perspective.

From the window seat (my favorite) I had a front row seat. I’ve always appreciated the way that rivers shine on a sunny day as you fly overhead. The sunlight glistening off the water creates a fleeting sparkle that almost feels private, as you know that few will have the chance to see this view. Today though the sparkling of the water shined not just in the designated lakes and rivers but in entire forests it had swallowed. The water was mercifully receding but on certain streets and in many backyards it was still showing its circumstantially insidious light reflection. Harvey, like many disasters in our lives, has a way twisting beautiful positive things into darkness and misery.

After take off this morning, I also felt relieved that I could finally get involved in a more tangible way. Sitting in Malibu on the beach was amazing but my heart was hurting for those dealing with catastrophe back home. Now I feel like I can at least do something, rather than watching helplessly a thousand miles away. As I type this I am currently sitting in my church office, fielding calls of both evacuees and potential volunteers. It is only the start of a long road though for this city and I intend to help in anyway I can.

I take comfort though in knowing that Houston will rise again, better and stronger than ever before. The acts of generosity and sacrifice that this storm have brought are the things I hope will be remembered when we look back upon the history of this great city. I also hope they will be remembered when we see our neighbors. I hope that when inevitable trials and disagreements come we will look back to this time of pure love and community. For it is love that will fix Houston and heal the hearts broken by this devastating storm.

With Love and Texas Forever,

Paige

What I’m doing instead

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Shirt: Urban Outfitters Location: Keene, New York

So yesterday I decided to publicly state that I am not going to college this semester.

It kinda feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders honestly. They say honesty is the best policy and it’s true. It is a relief, to tell the truth.

Part of the reason I was so reluctant to make this decision, however, was trying to figure out an answer to the question “What are you doing?”

Frankly, I don’t have a perfect answer for you but here’s my list of ideas so far. Worst comes to worst this post will help me perfect my listing skills so I can write for Buzzfeed.

  1. Working- I am currently working at J.Crew part-time as an associate and love it. My coworkers are nice, which is great. Also, the discount is my life. I could say I’m doing this to make money and while that is kinda true it’s mostly just to fill my closet with more J.Crew and Madewell. I feel fairly certain I will be blogging about my J.Crew and Madewell addictions very soon. The world holds its breath, I know!
  2. Travelling- If you have known me for a while or have scrolled through my Instagram you will know that I love to travel. In fact, I have studied abroad in twice already and might aim for a third when I return to school. That’s cool right, Mom and Dad? Anyways I definitely plan on using this time to visit my friends around the country. It’ll be like that Big and Rich song “Comin to your City”. I am already booked on a flight to LA this weekend to go see one of my best friends and I am pumped. I will also be trying to return to Georgia at least once to catch a game between the hedges. You can take a girl out of the SEC but you can’t take the SEC out of the girl. Go Dawgs! I will definitely be posting about these trips a lot and may even try to post some travel guides.
  3. Blogging- You’re here so duh. I definitely intend to be trying my hand at blogging and posting regularly. Let me know if there is something you’d like me to write about!
  4. Recreation- And no I don’t mean recreational drugs people. Tomorrow I am scheduled to go horseback riding for the first time in a long time. I can’t wait. I am also going to try and rock climb some by joining a climbing gym here in the Houston area. Other than that I will be looking for other ways to get active in a fun way. I may also try playing the piano again since I was a brat as a child and didn’t practice enough.
  5. Volunteering– I haven’t decided where exactly I will be volunteering but I am exploring several opportunities at the moment. I will definitely update once that is decided. If you have any suggestions let me know!
  6. Getting Healthy- This is the less exciting part. I will be going to doctors appointments and working to get answers and find solutions. My mom wants to go vegan together. I’m not really down for that plan but I do realize I may need to alter my diet depending on the results I receive. I love food so that will be very tough. That is another thing I will be eating! I am hoping I can eat my way to maybe a little extra weight and a little extra energy. I also would like to work out a little to try to gain some flexibility and strength. I could use a lot of improvement in both areas. Tips in this area would definitely be appreciated too!
  7. Learning- You don’t have to be in school to learn. Reading will be something I’m going to try to prioritize. Maybe I will even try to read War and Peace this fall? Has anyone managed that feat? Is it worth the read? I just want to make sure that I keep mentally active so I can stay sharp when I do return to school.
  8. Resting- While I have a lengthy list of things I’d like to do, I am also going to prioritize resting this semester. Resting is important. Self-care can only help both my mental and physical health. I hope I get to do a lot this semester but I am also going to try to be gentler with myself. If I need a break I am going to allow myself to stop and take it. I am not going to beat myself up over a few days spent just relaxing and allowing myself to feel refreshed. We need rest to heal and grow, so I am not going to deny myself of it.

Much Love,

Paige

Taking a Break from College

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Top: Madewell Shorts: J.Crew Factory Location: Dallas Museum of Art

I have decided to take a break from college.

When I started college I was the typical over confident “I’m a sophomore by credit hours’ freshman. In fact, I started college with 47 credit hours from AP classes. I planned to graduate in 3 years, then go straight to law school. Preferably a highly ranked one.

Then life happened.

I finished my freshman year, the Spring semester of which I spent studying abroad in Italy. I came home to Texas and worked for the summer. Then as I was getting ready to go back to Georgia, everything fell apart.

“We found a tumor in your abdomen”

Those words changed my life in seconds. Instead of getting to enjoy the fall of my sophomore year; I got to spend fall of 2015 in and out of the hospital where I had 4 surgeries to both remove pancreatic cancer and then repair the damage that removal caused

As soon as January 2016 came, I stubbornly wanted to go back to college and resume my “real” life. I wanted to get back to the plan.

But I was so weak. Cancer had drained me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I returned to campus weighing little over 85 pounds. I had so little energy and had a lot of bad days physically. I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t keep up and be like everyone else. For the first time in my life, my grades were struggling significantly. I was dropping classes like it was hot.

In an act of desperation to try to get my life back to the plan, I applied to the UGA at Oxford program. In my interview with the program director, I told him how I had beat cancer and was back as a student and doing great. I felt like such a fraud. I hadn’t been to any of my classes that week yet there I sat telling him how amazing I was doing.

The UGA at Oxford program ended up being a bit of a saving grace for me. It was extremely challenging academically but I was able to excel. There I gained back confidence in myself and my intellect. I finally felt like I could accomplish big things again.

Unfortunately, January came and back in Georgia; I fell apart again. Everything felt so similar. It was almost claustrophobic, as though I was always on the cusp of reliving my nightmare again. Deja Vu in the worst way.

I started the semester so hopefully, yet along came several difficult to explain health bumps and I began to spiral. Everyday it felt like something new and awful was going to happen. Each doctors appointment and new concerning symptom added to my misery. I found myself in almost the exact same place as the previous spring.  For me, Poor physical health beget exceptionally poor mental health. 

All of the physical issues are still pending. Even tomorrow I am having another CT scan to try to find an explanation for all the symptoms I have been experiencing over the course of this year.

One diagnosis I did manage to get this spring though was clinical depression. I had spent so long trying to force myself to stick to a plan I made at 18, despite the fact that the circumstances of my life had changed so much in those three years. I perpetually felt like a failure when I didn’t meet the high expectations I held myself to. It took a long time before I finally decided to admit that I needed help. I am so glad I did though. While the physical issues are not completely resolved I am in a much better place mentally.

I have decided to give myself a break though. I want to figure out what is going on with my physical health, and what solutions there are to treat it. I also just want to stop making myself miserable by being so overly harsh with my self-assessments. I always felt like if I admitted that I needed help if I admitted I needed a break, or if I admitted that I wasn’t going to graduate on time; I would be a failure. I’ve realized that this narrative in my head is a lie. I am going to be successful. I am going to graduate from college. But if it takes me a little longer that’s okay too. So I’m taking a gap year or gap semester. I’m not really sure right now. I want to focus on myself and my health so that I can accomplish all I am meant to. 

I’m going to be blogging my journey here and also posting fun stuff relating to my various interests. I promise it’s not gonna all be about cancer! Follow along if you’d like.

With Love,

Paige