Another Cleaning Video

I’ve had a stressful January so far and my room got nasty! Now I am cleaning it over on my youtube channel! Enjoy!

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Back to School and Meet Wellie!

So a lot has happened in the last few weeks!

I moved back to Athens, Georgia.

I got a puppy (more on him in a minute).

I started my (super) Senior year of college at The University of Georgia.

I am working as an intern on a campaign this semester.

Basically it’s been a lot but I am thriving for the first time in a long time. It’s awesome! I am here and fully present (frankly more so than I have ever felt in college). I am grabbing life by the horns and putting myself out there.

It’s not without mishaps but it’s good.

So on to Wellie. He is my new puppy. His name is short for Wellington. He is 12 weeks old now and a fluffy little mess. It took a week or so but we are really bonding now. As I am writing this he is on his way to his first totally accident free day (It’s 11 PM).

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Meeting Wellie

I got him from a breeder outside Mobile, Alabama and picked him up on my way back to college! Then I moved into my apartment with him the next day and started school 2 days later! It was an insane couple of days but we made it through and we are starting to get in a real routine.

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He’s actually cuter than this but I am struggling to get good pictures!

As many of you know I have dealt with depression for the last few years. Wellie is an emotional support dog and so far he is helping a lot (even if it involves a lot of peeing on the floor right now). He is all puppy and all boy but I know he is going to be a great dog.

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Never not blinking in pictures
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Wellie’s first day home

Back at school I applied to an internship on a local campaign and got it! I am earning class credit that counts towards my major while I’m at it! So far I have really enjoyed being on the campaign trail. It has started to reignite my interest in politics. Hopefully my candidate will win in November!

Classes are going well so far. Spanish is going to be challenging but I am going to work really hard to do well in it.

I’ve been working to get involved on campus more too. I am currently attending info sessions for various clubs trying to narrow down what I want to do. I am excited about all the possibilities. It is a bit weird getting involved in new organizations as a super senior but I am trying to push past the awkwardness to claim the college experience I never really had because of my numerous health issues.

In that spirit I also got the opportunity to face a fear this week. UGA Hero’s (a philanthropy that deals with HIV/AIDs) brought various wildlife to campus this week in an effort to attract student’s attention. I got to meet a camel named Thor… and a snake named Mellow Yellow! If you know me you know I am terrified of snakes! It is seriously my biggest fear in life. But I saw an opportunity to face it so I went for it! Thank you UGA Hero’s!

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Mellow Yellow the Burmese Python
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Thor the three year old camel. Did you know they can live to be 40-50 years old!

Well that is about all for now. Sorry this post is so rambling but I wanted to get an update up now that I’m back at school (and crazy busy).

Lots of love,

Paige

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