Life Update: July 2018

 

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In front of the Cloud Column Location: Houston, Texas

First off I would like to apologize for my long absence… I know it has been a while and for that I am sorry.

A lot has happened in the last few months and a lot has changed. It has been quite the rollercoaster (god that is a cliche metaphor, sorry guys).

Basically lets pick up where we left off. My last post here was in March so I have a lot of ground to cover.

First let me take you through the tough stuff which is where my radio silence (read: social media silence) began.

I’ve chosen to be open about my health struggles on this blog both mental and physical. Even though part of me feels embarrassed to talk about it, I think it is important to be honest in order to combat stigma. So with that said here goes.

Over the course of the last few years I have been battling depression. At various points it has been mild, moderate and severe. In March/April I would say the depression was making a quiet resurgence. Things got hard again, and they were about to go from bad to worse.

In April, a close friend and I had an extremely intense argument. I do not want to share details here to avoid violating the other persons privacy but things got very ugly. There was blame to be had on both sides and I was in no way a perfectly innocent party. Words were said though and I found myself spiraling.

Living with depression your mind often tells you things along the lines of “you are worthless, you can’t do anything right, the people you love don’t like you, you are a burden…” I could continue but even writing it out is painful. In the heat of the argument I heard some of the things my mind constantly told me coming from one of my closest friends, all my mind could do was continue to pile on leaving me in a sobbing heap for days.

When you live with depression you find yourself living with a crushing amount of guilt, sometimes guilt over mistakes, sometimes guilt for simply existing. All of it creates an enormous burden that for me and many people with depression (note not all, depression presents in many ways) can become paralyzing. That coupled with the loss of a best friend caused me to have a complete breakdown.

Luckily this is not where the story ends though.

In the midst of my meltdown I chose to tell my family and other trusted friends the truth about what was going on. My family is my rock, even when everyone else gives up on me they don’t. 

With their help I sought out resources to help me.

After researching we discovered a local Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). For those of you who don’t know what an IOP program is it is basically a group therapy program that you attend daily for a few weeks (in some cases longer). It is often covered by insurance.

After an initial consultation I decided to participate in the IOP program. Basically it was 3 hours of group therapy a day. Each day would start with a check in with each of the participants about how they are doing. Then during the second part of the session we would discuss a topic related to coping strategies or thought patterns.

One of the biggest reasons I think it is so helpful is because you are finally able to find people who know what you are going through. Unfortunately there is a serious lack of knowledge surrounding mental health and even well meaning friends can sometimes struggle to understand. In “group” everyone relates to each other even through circumstances vary greatly.

In the group I was in, ages ranged from 18-65 and spanned careers, race, socioeconomic status, education level and more. It was eye opening to see that mental health struggles can impact people at any stage of life. It made me feel less alone.

I also learned about incorrect thoughts (like the ones I mentioned above). It helped me to see that I can counter these thoughts with better ones. A striking thing in group would be listening to someone talk about extremely difficult circumstances but beat themselves up for not being perfect while handling them. Everyone in the group would encourage them and point out all that they’ve overcome. Eventually we realized that most of us were compassionate with everyone but ourselves. The concept was “if you wouldn’t say these things to someone else why do you say them to yourself?”

For me the time I spent in the IOP program was life changing. If you or someone you know is struggling I would highly recommend looking into an IOP program.

Okay enough about that because there is so much more to tell.

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My sister and I, seeing GEORGE STRAIT. Location: Austin, Texas

This summer my family and I moved houses. We stayed in the same town but moved to a new neighborhood. It only took me two months to get my new room organized but I am finally settled in, in large part due to the efforts of my persistent sister, Leah.

I am currently working at a clothing store in the mall. I started the job the same week as the argument with my friend. I believe it helped me too as it keeps me busy.

I won’t be working there much longer though because…

I am going back to school. 

Yes, really!

In August I will be packing up my stuff and moving back to Athens, Georgia to finish my last year at The University of Georgia.

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My beautiful graduate friend. Location: Athens, Georgia 

In May, I visited Athens to watch my best friend (not the friend mentioned earlier) graduate. I was so proud of her, and it made me realize just how much I wanted it for myself too. Graduating from Georgia has been my dream since I was a little girl and I am determined to make it happen.

I reapplied to UGA and was admitted again. This summer I took an online class through Georgia and excelled in it despite it being harder than I expected. It helped me feel confident that I am truly capable of being successful in college and finishing my degree.

Part of me is nervous to go back. I still feel the sting of the failure that my last semester at UGA was. I can’t help but be afraid of repeating the patterns of the past but I do think I have set things up so that things will be different this time. Despite my fear I am confident I can do this.

This time I also have a secret weapon. I want to save this info for a future post but I will not be going back to Athens alone this time… Stay tuned.

Also I promise I will be better about posting here, on my Youtube, and on my Instagram. I want to connect with y’all!

 

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Harvey Update

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A nicer day in Southeast Texas, when the water was where it is supposed to be  Location: George Mitchell Nature Preserve December 2016

For those of you who don’t know I live in a suburb north of Houston, Texas. My house is fine and my family is safe, but so many around the Houston area have lost everything.

The day before the storm hit I was able to fly out of Houston to Los Angeles. It was a trip I had planned before the hurricane. One of my best friends recently moved here, after graduating from The University of Georgia. I am getting to stay with him on a not that uncomfortable couch.

Los Angeles is beautiful and I have been having a lot of fun here. Unfortunately, the scenes coming out of my hometown have made it a little bit difficult to stay in the moment and fully enjoy this vacation. I have been writing and taking lots of pictures for the blog while I am here. To post them now though would be quite tone deaf and just feel wrong. I will post about this trip, but not right now.

One of the most distressing videos for me personally was a video of MD Anderson Cancer Center flooding. Part of my treatment was at MD Anderson and they have saved countless lives. The inpatients there and at many other Houston hospitals are being taken care of by the doctors and nurses that have been staying at the hospital round the clock. The entire area around the Texas Medical Center is reported to be impassable. This is the biggest medical center in the world and thousands of people count on these world renowned hospitals for life-saving care.

Here is a link to an article with videos of the flooding in MD Anderson.

http://www.katc.com/story/36227195/md-anderson-cancer-locations-closed-for-outpatient-services

Also here is a video of the amazing work Texas Children’s Hospital is doing in the face of this storm.

Right now all I can really do is pray for Houston and the entire Texas coast. I wish I could be there today to do something, although I know that I will have plenty of opportunity to volunteer once the storm clears. Many of my friends have been expressing feelings of helplessness and frustration. I feel the same way.  It is important to remember though, that the most important thing right now is staying safe. Don’t let your desire to help cause you to make dangerous decisions, and create more crises for the already heavily burdened emergency service workers. Safety should be your number one priority. When the storm ends, and it will eventually end, there will be plenty of work to do.

For now, I ask that everyone pray for the city of Houston, the Texas Medical Center, and everyone impacted by this disaster. Texas and Houston are strong. We will rebuild, but the efforts will take everyone working together. That’s shouldn’t be a problem for Texans though

Stay safe and Texas Forever,

Paige