Why I hate birthdays, holidays alike

I hate birthdays.

Last year, I rang in the New Year (and my birthday) with a birthday dinner downtown and cosmic bowling. I felt like I was wearing a mask the entire night. I laughed at jokes that weren’t funny and smiled like I wasn’t thinking about my parents’ fight a few days before.

As soon as my friends went home that night, I curled up in my bed and cried. I scrolled through my phone, knowing I needed someone, anyone.

Needless to say, when my coworker asked me to cover her 3-11 shift on New Year’s Eve, I readily accepted. I enjoy my job, but also I needed an excuse to not celebrate my birthday. Nothing I did last year on birthday was what I actually wanted to do and this year, if I don’t want to have a party on my birthday, I’m not going to have a party.

I hate holidays even more.

Almost every single holiday or break is tainted with one bad memory or another.

Last year on Thanksgiving, it was my incessant crying and cutting. Winter break, my parents fought and ruined my birthday and the rest of my break.

I hate holidays.

This year, I’m being proactive about the holidays and my birthday by picking up as many hours at work as I can. As of right now, I’m suppose to work 52 hours over winter break.

Another reason I hate the holidays is because I feel like they are superficial. Everyone pretends they are happy to see each other, even if they aren’t. The adults get drunk and annoying. The children cry because they don’t get the present they wanted. It’s stupid.

So that’s why I hate holidays and birthdays.

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One Year Later

When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted and wanted coffee. It wasn’t until I was driving to school that I truly thought about what this day means for me.

A year ago, it was the last day of Thanksgiving break. The break had been hard for me. I  wasn’t interested in being involved with my family. I spent most of my break either crying or sleeping. Emotionally, I was spent. The past few months were rather difficult for me, especially with family. Little did I know, things were about to get much worse.

I lay in bed that night thinking about how poorly the break had gone. I worked myself until I was hysterical and only wanted one thing. I turned on my lamp and blinked and then rushed to my bookshelf. I dug around between my scrapbooks on the bottom shelf until I found what I was looking for. My razor.

That was Dec. 1, 2013. Today is Dec. 1, 2014. I made it a whole year without cutting.

That day was the last time I cut, although it wasn’t my rock bottom.

My rock bottom was on my birthday a month later. A few nights before, my parents had gotten in a huge blowout. The days following were hell for me. I spent most of my birthday weeping in bed and talking on the phone with my therapist.

After that, I took my recovery more seriously. I started channeling my energy into workouts and I forced myself to see my therapist pretty regularly until about April when things started to improve. I worked on building relationships with people that would be healthy for me.

In May, I posted my initial blog post about struggling with depression. The support I received was overwhelming. At that point, I decided to be as open as possible about what I had been through and what I was going through. To the point where I’m sick of writing about it and I’m sure everyone is sick of reading about it.

My advice to anyone struggling with cutting is to keep fighting. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the people that love you. You are worth it.

During the summer, I came very, very close to relapsing. I was still on crutches from my surgery and the pent up energy combined with a fight with a close friend pushed me over the edge. I thank God that I didn’t try very hard to cut that night when I did try. I also thank two very special people for responding immediately to my urgent calls.

I can’t tell you how empowering it feels to reach each milestone. At first, I counted days, then weeks, then months, and now I will start counting years. I encourage anyone who is struggling to speak up. You can do it.

The day I decided I wanted to be a doctor

In all honesty, I don’t remember the day I decided I wanted to be a doctor contrary to the title of this blog post. Whoops.

As a measly 8th grader, I enrolled in business and health care electives. At the end of my freshman year, I was still torn between going into the medical field and starting my own business like I had always dreamed of doing. So, I enrolled in Premed 1 and Accounting 1 the following year to hopefully, figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

After maybe a month in Premed , I was sure I wanted to be a doctor. I was fascinated with the human body and all the diseases. When our teacher showed us a website in which we could watch surgeries, I was thrilled. I promptly suggested to my friends that we have a movie night, but watch a surgery instead.

I genuinely enjoyed studying for Premed tests and as a junior in Premed 2, I love taking the tests. I feel like every test I take, I’m one step closer to medical school. I decided as a sophomore that I would get as close to being in the medical field as I could as a high school student. This entailed volunteering at the hospital, which I had done for many years, interning in the vet clinic in the Humane Society for a second summer, and taking a CNA class over my break.

Getting certified as a nurses aide was the only job I could do in the medical field at 16 and I was determined. Being on crutches after my hip surgery for half of the summer made it easy for me to have time to study. I looked forward to class every Tuesday and Thursday and spent my days off studying and quizzing myself on med terms.

Recently, I finally got a job as a CNA and I love it. While it can be more like babysitting at times, it opens me up to the lowest ranks of the medical field and the reward of providing basic care. I do everything from toileting to putting cream up butts to cooking dinner. I love my job!

This year, I am currently in Premed 2 and enrolled in Premed 3 next semester. I couldn’t be happier. I’m learning so much and the thirst for learning about medicine is never quite quenched for me.

I applied to go to the Doctor For a Day program at KU Med back in September and I was accepted. Not only did that day reconfirm what I wanted to do with my life, but it also made me want to  spend time outside of school studying medicine and watching surgeries. I got to listen to lectures on the human body, tour research labs, learn to intubate a patient, and solve medical mysteries. It was an amazing experience.

I’m not sure what I want to do in the medical field yet, but I do know I want to be a doctor. I’ve thought about being an orthopedic surgeon with my own experiences with sport injuries or a gastrointestinal specialist like my mom sees. I’ve also seriously considered going into the army medical after med school because they will pay for med school. I’m not concerned with deciding right away what I want to do. I’ve got plenty of time to decide and I want to enjoy the journey. Besides, the world is my oyster.

things that make me happy

These are not in any particular order!

  1. Going to the dog park
  2. Sleeping in
  3. Working in my garden
  4. Seeing sunflowers
  5. Watching my little sister grow
  6. Reading trashy magazines
  7. Dancing
  8. Burning a candle
  9. Eating Indian Food
  10. Running
  11. Drinking cold water
  12. Listening to music
  13. Visiting The Dusty Bookshelf
  14. Walking down Mass during the Christmas season
  15. Buying gifts for others
  16. Pizza
  17. Learning about the human body
  18. Jumping off the diving board
  19. Catching Fireflies
  20. Eating dinner with my family
  21. Spending time with my residents
  22. Snuggling with my dogs
  23. Sitting down in the shower
  24. Watching Netflix in my warm bed on a snowy day
  25. Running downstairs in the morning and seeing the outside covered in snow
  26. Laughing
  27. Eating at Zen Zero
  28. Black Friday Shopping
  29. The morning of a big trip
  30. The beach
  31. Giving hugs
  32. Receiving hugs
  33. Sweatpants
  34. Grey’s Anatomy
  35. Donuts from Muncher’s
  36. Breakfast foods
  37. Mashed Potatoes
  38. long sleeved shirts
  39. rock climbing
  40. Zoos
  41. Burning candles
  42. Fuzzy blankets
  43. Cross country races
  44. Writing lab reports
  45. Dressing up
  46. Family time
  47. Geocaching with my best friend
  48. Hiking
  49. Tubing in Colorado
  50. Winter Park
  51. Ice skating
  52. Going to the library
  53. Lifting weights at 5:30 a.m.
  54. Sleeping
  55. Coffee
  56. Understanding something I had trouble understanding
  57. Meeting new, cool people
  58. Dreaming about my future
  59. Watching surgeries on Friday nights
  60. Helping other people
  61. Reading classics
  62. Reading teenage girl books
  63. Adventuring
  64. Cleaning my room
  65. Sleeping with the window open
  66. Gelato
  67. Traveling to new and exciting places
  68. Holding hands with my family while walking in park in Rome at night
  69. Gilmore Girls
  70. Speaking Spanish
  71. Cooking
  72. Writing stories
  73. Sister dates
  74. Scrubs
  75. Haribo gummy bears
  76. Milka chocolate
  77. Grocery shopping in Austria
  78. Eating at Magic Pizza with Justice Thomas
  79. Leaves changing colors
  80. Running in the rain
  81. Driving to school
  82. Serving at LINK
  83. My Grandma’s cooking
  84. Bernese Mountain dogs
  85. Old people
  86. Concerts
  87. Pulled pork sandwiches
  88. Driving with the windows down
  89. Blasting music
  90. llama socks
  91. Target
  92. Mountains
  93. Overcoming challenges
  94. Legal pads
  95. Cliff bars
  96. Running tights
  97. French braids
  98. Crime shows
  99. Lifetime movies
  100. Soccer blankies

Two Scars and a Scalpel

The operating room is white and bright. Nothing like the OR’s on Grey’s Anatomy. The nurses move me onto the special table that the surgeon will use to pull my hip out of its socket. Behind me, the anesthesiologist begins messing with my IV. A young nurse in a scrub cap rubs my hand and tells me that I can dream of anything I want. The last thing I remember before the anesthesia kicks in is not being able to focus on the clock. Then my mind goes black.

A few hours later, I start to come around. A nurse is standing next to my bed, rapidly typing.

“Where’s my dad?” I yell. “I want my dad!”

The nurse reassures me that she’ll go get my dad. She doesn’t move from her computer, so I keep calling out for him until finally I hear his voice.

When I finally decide to open my eyes, I yell out in pain. I’m laying in my hospital bed with my knees bent up. My back is killing me and there is a dull ache in my left hip. The nurse re-positions me and the ache in my hip increases.

Eventually, I am forced to go home. The nurse takes away my heated blanket and I groan. It’s not until my dad leaves to get the car that I realize I have no underwear on.  I cringe remembering the one size fits all papery underwear I was given to wear before the surgery that the nurse told me would be cut off.

The nurse hands me my clothes but I’m still groggy from the pain meds and she ends up having to put my underwear and shorts on for me.

When I get home,  I slowly crutch up the stairs with my sister walking cautiously behind me. I’m almost to the top when I feel a wave of nausea roll over me. I throw down my crutches and hobble slowly to my room despite my sister’s protest.

I spend the rest of the day sleeping, waking up every two hours to take the pain pills. In the evening, I wake up enough to go to my CNA class.

I spend the four and half hours with my head on my desk trying not to vomit. We’re learning about infection control and so of course, the first day I’m on crutches, is the day I have to dawn personal protective gear.

The next morning, I wake up with just enough time to get dressed before my friend comes over to watch Cameroon play in the World Cup. She brings me lots of candy and I feel bad because I’m still queasy. My throat hurts too from being intubated during the surgery.

Later, my sister arrives to take me to see my surgeon’s PA so she can change my bandage.

When she removes the bandage, I get my first glimpse of my stitches. My skin is bruised and bloody. They put on waterproof bandages and give me a list of exercises I need to start doing to avoid muscle atrophy. The PA hands me two sheets of paper with pictures from my surgery.

After the appointment, I am fascinated by the pictures and insist on taking them into Panera with me, but my sister refuses to let me.

The next week, a representative from a machine rental company comes to set up my hip machine. He tells me that Dr. Pro wants me to use the machine for 2 hours everyday until I can flex my leg up 120 degrees.

The next few weeks pass in a blur of crutches, pain meds, and hours spent using the machine.

When the day comes for me to finally return my crutches, I am overjoyed. I’m exhausted from navigating areas that would be easy if I had two capable of legs and my armpits hurt.

I start physical therapy a week after I return my crutches. It’s at physical therapy where I realize that being on crutches for four weeks was the easy part. My left leg is extremely weak and I can barely manage to do 10 wall squats.

For two months, I go to physical therapy two times a week. My therapist pushes me hard. So hard, that I leave everyday soaked in sweat. I keep going until Dr. Pro clears me to run at the three month mark.

I start out at a quarter of a mile and work my way up to a mile quarter by quarter every week. I go to see the athletic trainer multiple times a week to check in.

When I finally reach a mile, I start to feel pretty good about my progress. My coach thinks that I could even run a 4k in a few weeks.

But then, I start to have pain. My right glute cramps up periodically while I run because of my body compensating. The athletic trainer refuses to let me run for a week and then suggests that I go back to half a mile and see how it feels.

At four months, I go back to the orthopedic surgeon for a six week checkup. He reassures me that it’s normal at this point to have some ups and downs. I’m relieved.

Overtime, I slowly start to get closer to where I was before I tore my labrum. Last week, I ran three miles for the first time in almost six months. This week, I ran three miles without feeling like I was going to die. On Dec. 12, it will be six months since my surgery on June 12. In a month, I will return to see Dr. Pro one final time before he determines me fully recovered.

Back in May when I first told I would have to have surgery, I thought six months was a very, very long recovery time. But it went by surprisingly fast. Everyday that I run, I feel so grateful for the nonexistent pain in my hip that plagued me for over a year. I’m thankful for my body and for Dr. Pro’s amazing surgical skills. More importantly, I am thankful for everyone that supported me along the way from my little sister helping me shower, to random kids on the cross country team that cheered me on when I ran my first mile.

7 stories from traveling abroad

1. Melbourne, Australia 6 years old

I am 6 years old and this is my first international trip. I barely got any sleep on the 14 hour flight because of the old man across the aisle. He creeps me out and I’m too scared to risk falling asleep. When we land in Melbourne, he asks if I had a nice flight. No, I had to sit by you the whole time. We spend most of the trip visiting zoos and aquariums. My brother, never adjusting the time change, falls asleep at dinner every night. Towards the end of the trip, my dad, brother and I spend several mornings going out to breakfast alone while my step mom stays back. We find out later that she’s pregnant with my baby sister.

2. Limerick, Ireland 9 years old

It’s my first trip to Europe. Ireland is very, very green compared to heat stroked Lawrence. We stay in a small house in Limerick. The family who owns the house leaves some toys for us to play with, one of which is a giant stuffed animal Dora that smells strange. My baby sister is only two years old and carries Dora everywhere. I am mildly disturbed.

3. Venice, Italy 11 years old

My dad, step mom, my sister, Mara and I are spending a weekend in Venice after being in Austria for two weeks. I am enchanted by the gondolas and carnival masks everywhere. The air smells like dirty canal water but in a good way. On our first evening there, we ride into the island in a crowded, sweaty ferry. We go for a walk in St. Mark’s square when it starts pouring. We run to seek cover under an archway and wait for the rain to pass. My sister and I are astonished to see two small children swimming in the dirty canal water. Once the rain lets up, we continue exploring the square. An Italian man comes up and hands my sister, step mom, and I each a rose. Then he turns to my dad and motions for money.

Later in our trip, we are walking through the square, when a pigeon poops on my head. I am not a happy camper.

4. London, England 12 years old

Before our trip, I read all the twilight books. I become obsessed with Robert Pattinson. I am convinced that I am going to run into him in a London Starbucks and he will fall in love with me. Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

5. Paris, France 12 years old

I am at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I can see Paris for miles. I eat the best ham and cheese baguette I have ever had. We spent a decent amount of time at the top before heading down the long flights of stairs. My baby sister is now five years old and thinks it’s a race. When I get a head of her, she grabs my leg and pulls me down on a flight of stairs and then runs ahead.  I’m slightly traumatized by my near death experience on the Eiffel Tower.

6. Cancun, Mexico, unknown age

It’s my third trip to Mexico. My parents sign up for a day long tour to Chichen Itza and Cozumel. I feel car sick all morning in the van. When we stop for a bathroom break, I find I have Montezuma’s revenge aka explosive diarrhea. Chichen Itza is beautiful and we spend several hours haggling with the vendors for cheap souvenirs. The final stop for the day is to some beautiful natural cave pool. However, there has recently been a lot of rain and the cave on the brochure is closed. Our driver offers to take us to another nearby swimming cave. When we get to this cave, we are more than let down. The water is nowhere close to the crystal clear water of the cave we saw in the brochure. It’s green and murky with copious amounts of bird shit. Why my parents let us swim in it, I have no idea except that we’re are lucky we didn’t get catch E. coli.

7. Innsbruck, Austria 15 years old

This is my second time in Innsbruck, Austria. After experiencing my first heartbreak at the beginning of the summer, I am delighted to be away from home. I breathe in the brisk mountain air and I know it will be a good trip. We are staying in a woman named Sylvia’s apartment for the summer while she’s in Canada. There are books everywhere and a spiral staircase to the bedrooms downstairs. Her friend, Iris, brings us the keys and then offers to take us to breakfast the next day and help show us around. We agree to meet the next morning at the bakery across the street. She takes us into the mad hustle and bustle and efficiently orders in German. As I bite into my chocolate croissant, I know once again that it will be a good trip.

 

What I learned this week

This week was filled with ups and downs. It taught me a few very important things about myself and life in general. I am going to share some of those things with you.

  • Subtweeting is not an effective way to handle problems with friends. Nine times out of ten it will backfire on you. Trust me, I know. You gain nothing in the process but “confused followers and a pissed off friend.”
  • You can’t choose other people’s friends. No matter how much I may dislike a person that someone I care about chooses to be friends with, I can’t change it. If they’re happy, then I need to be happy for them.
  • Sometimes it’s better to just let people go. You may not get along with everybody even if they are your friends. At the end of the day, if they’re causing you more harm than good, it’s not a friendship worth saving.
  • You have to rely on yourself sometimes. No one is going to be there 100% of the time for you. Learning to comfort yourself opens the door for true self love.

I made a lot of mistakes this week. I learned things about myself and I learned from my mistakes. I can either punish myself for making mistakes or realize that I’m young and I am going to mistakes. I’m not a bad person because I mess up sometimes. I can’t and won’t let my mistakes define who I am.

Famous Women that I Admire

Nikki Reed. Although she played Rosalie in Twilight, thats not why I like her. When she was 14, she moved out and started living on her own because of a complicated family situation. She dropped out of high school after her first movie Thirteen when parents at her high school started harassing her. However, she still managed to get a high school diploma through homeschooling. I admire the maturity and strength it must have taken to live on her own at 14.

Pink. I remember listening to her second album has a little girl in the car with my mom and my two older sisters. Her second album, Misundazstood, chronicles her battle with drugs and her parents’ divorce. She is now happily married with a child. I have a lot of respect for someone who can pull herself out of drug addiction and become a very successful singer.

Alice PaulLast week in history, we watched Iron Jawed Angels. The movie tells the story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns’ fight for women’s suffrage. Alice Paul was the leader of the Congressional Union. When she picket Woodrow Wilson during WWI, she was arrested and held in jail for several months. In jail, Alice organized a hunger strike to protest the prison conditions and her imprisonment. The prison staff ended up force feeding her to keep her alive. She was willing to die for her cause and fought for women’s vote so women today didn’t have too.

Sandra Day O’Connor. She was the first woman on the Supreme Court. I can’t even begin to imagine how intimidating it must have been to be on a court of such prestige as the only female justice. That takes a lot of nerve and she has my uttermost respect.

Sheryl Sandberg. The author of Lean In, Sandberg is arguably one of the most successful women of the 21st century. I read Lean In and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the criticisms of many. I respect her for speaking up about what its like to be a working, successful mother and wife. It can’t be easy to balance all of that.

From Harry Potter’s Emma Watson to Malala Yousafzai, women are making impacts big and small across the globe everyday.

Mental Illness Awareness Week: What it Means to Me

This week is mental illness awareness week. For the last several days, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what was happening with me a year ago during this week.

It was around this time last year when I finally spoke up about the cutting and depression. However, I know that I was still turning to my razor every time things got to be too much for me. It wasn’t until December that I finally stopped cutting.

A year ago, only a small handful of people, maybe seven or eight, knew about what I was dealing with. Besides my family, only one friend and two or three staff members knew about it. I did everything I could to hide it but the signs were there. The signs were there. They were on my thighs, wrists, stomach, and hips.

The first time I used a razor to cut, it was on my thigh. It was hot outside then so I didn’t bother trying to cover it up with long pants. I went to the school the next day and it wasn’t until the end of the day that someone finally asked me about it. I lied and said that I had slipped while shaving and accidentally cut myself. That was the first lie I told to hide my mental illness.

The majority of the cutting took place at the beginning of the school year during cross country season. I ran everyday in my sports bra and on swimming days I was in spandex and a sports bra. Yet, no one ever noticed that numerous band-aids on my stomach. No one asked because unless you’ve gone through it yourself or have had a personal experience with self-harming, you wouldn’t know what to look for, but you can learn what to look for.

What you can look for though is unexplained cuts or frequent band-aids covering something up.  If they give you some weird, crappy explanation, they’re hiding something.

Mental Illness Awareness Week is not just about learning about mental illnesses, but how to recognize them. As a former cutter, I can spot another cutter from a mile away. I know the signs, I know what to look fork, where to look, and I know the thought process. If other people know the signs as well, we can help more people.

Depression is a silencer. It’s not easy to speak up when everyday is a dark one.  If they need a voice, be their voice. Advocate for them. It’s not a battle anyone can win on their own.

The Challenges of being a Woman

In light of recent events in my life, the obstacles women face everyday that men don’t is becoming very apparent to me. Most of the obstacles are created by men who have no boundaries or manners. I find that many women that I know have lowered expectations for how they let people treat them because they think that it’s normal for men to be degrading. Well, its not. I know plenty of males who are very polite and respectful towards women.

Flashback a year to when I was a sophomore at a home football game. When the game was over, my dad wanted me to walk over to Taco Bell to meet him so he could avoid the traffic. I agreed but asked a male friend to walk with me so I wasn’t alone. It’s heartbreaking that women have to fear walking alone on night because of the things strangers might do to them. I’m not saying that men have nothing to be afraid of because walking alone at night is dangerous no matter what. However, women are more commonly raped than men.

Women in the work force have even more challenges. For one, they don’t get paid as much. Even if they do, it doesn’t mean they are going to be treated fairly at work or respectfully.

I know what it feels like to be uncomfortable in the workplace because of the actions of male coworkers and I quit my job because of it.

Every time I went to work, I had male coworkers follow me around saying that they loved me or wanted me. Occasionally they would even ask where I lived or to if I would come over. I never filed a complaint because it never escalated and it was easy for me to ignore, but it shouldn’t have happened.

It is never okay for a male to make comments about a female’s body or sexually harass her. This is true the other way around as well but my perspective is that of a female’s. Society needs to recognize that men degrading women is not the norm and is unacceptable. Not all men act like that and the ones that do have no excuse for their behavior. Those lacking respect and control must be held accountable for their actions or nothing will ever change.

Women should never have to lower their expectations for vulgar, surly men. Everyone should be held to the same standards regardless of their gender.