Why Numbers Matter

Numbers give value to a lot of areas in our life. We first learn this correlation of a number and our self-worth in school where we’re graded. All throughout our academic career we’re taught that the higher the grade you receive, the “better” you are. Even when you graduate high school the student with the highest grades get a special recognition as top of your class.

Then there’s the issue of weight. Now that it’s the new year we’re bombarded with weight loss commercials of people showing off their new “healthier” bodies and proudly proclaiming the number of pounds or pant sizes they lost on whatever program the commercial is promoting. Their loss of weight gives them bragging rights and pride; their new weight or pant size is such a badge of honor and we as a society hold them in high esteem. Even though all of our bodies are different there seems to be an acceptable range of weight that everyone seems to be expected to be, but it’s not fair or even accurate.

When I was really sick and rapidly losing weight I experienced that pride of weight loss. I felt accomplished and in a sick way I felt entitled to compliments for my hard work and determination. But now, I’m working on maintaining this higher weight that my meal plan gave me. I know I’m more healthy at the weight I’m at now, but numbers still hold a great weight (no pun intended) in my life. Weekly I get weighed by my therapist and I’m told what I weigh; some weeks I’m ok with it as I seemed to not change, but it’s in those weeks where I go up that I struggle. To me, there’s nothing to brag about when I gain weight, it’s almost shameful in a way. Watching all of those commercials about weight loss pills and programs I find myself getting jealous.

Why do those people get to lose weight? Why can’t I do that anymore? Of course I know the answer to that without having to ask, but it’s still that mindset I struggle with. If I lost weight again I couldn’t do it in a healthy way, I’d end up in the hospital, dropping out of college, possibly be sent back to residential or even die. Although I know all of this, the knowledge of my weight is still a huge obstacle. Normal people shouldn’t have to gain weight, I mean you never see commercials for people saying “hey, I’m too thin and I needed to gain weight. So I took _______ or did _______ program, and now I love my body more than ever!”.

I know numbers are something I’m just going to have to deal with and get used to hearing, but as of right now it’s still a huge trigger and struggle. I wish numbers, especially in regards to weight, didn’t “reflect” our own self-worth.

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Spark of Hope (January 31st)

“Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you”

-Unknown

 

There’s a term I learned in my thanatology (study of death, dying & bereavement) class in undergraduate school called Social Exchange Theory, and in short it says we as humans act or help others in exchange for that person to return the favor. Makes sense right? I’ve found, however, that when I go out of my way to help someone or simply do something nice for someone who I know is not able to return the “favor”, I walk away with a greater sense of accomplishment or what have you. I love the “Pay it Forward” initiative you hear on the news or internet, but what if it wasn’t so stressful to continue that pattern? Instead of guilt, or a feeling of debt, why not do it because you want to?

 

Goal: seek out opportunities to help others who can’t return the favor. Donate clothes to the homeless, work at a soup kitchen, read to the elderly at a nursing home. Get outside of yourself for a moment and try giving back to the community without expecting a parade of praise or cheer.

Sparks of Hope (January 30th)

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

– Steven Furtick

 

I often find it difficult to not compare myself to others. It’s when we engage in this unconscious activity that we end up damaging our own self-identity or self-esteem in ways we never intended. Nobody has their life completely together and we don’t know what that person who we are comparing ourselves to has had to walk through to get to this present moment. On the surface they may appear to have the life or the body we want, but it’s the things lying underneath the surface that matter more. For myself, I am my own worst critic and I can look at others around me and wish to have their life because it looks so much more glamorous than mine. But that mindset is not only a delusion, but a dangerous one that can land you on a slippery slope.

 

Goal: Today instead of looking at others and being envious of what they have, think of your own journey. Write down 5 things you’re thankful for having or experiencing at this moment in your life. It’s when you learn to accept & appreciate what you have, that you can learn how to embrace the path your on and not want to be where others seem to be.

Sparks of Hope

Hey guys happy Thursday!

So last night I decided I wanted to try something a little different with some of my writing time. I’ve found it so easy again to let my negative thoughts come out on paper as of late and writing has become more of a “need to do” leisure activity than a “want to do”. I’ve always loved starting my days off with a positive quote and so I decided to try and come up with my own so-called daily inspiration book. I’m thinking that at the start of everyday I will jump on here and post what I have for the day, and maybe even impact others day by sharing what is on my mind in a positive way.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the bad and forget all about the good things in life. Below is the first entry I’ll be posting and I hope you all sincerely enjoy it. Comment below if you wish, I’d love the feedback from you guys!

canstockphoto-spark


“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”

                        – Rachel Naomi Remen

When you have close friendships or relationships in your life that hold meaning to you those people tend to come to you when they’re facing difficult situations. Often times while our friends or family are talking to us, explaining their situation, we are in our own heads trying to come up with a possible solution. I know for me, I have always been the kind of person who had to fix everything. But some situations I’ve learned don’t need that silver lining or words of wisdom; all that needs to be heard by those who come to you is that you heard them.

 

Goal: This week if a close friend or family member confides in you, make a conscious effort to simply listen. Try your best to hear what they are saying, pause before speaking and remove the pressure from yourself of having to fix it.


It’s ok to be confident

There’s some strange mindset that’s overtaken our culture and it’s the idea that if you show the world that you’re confident in yourself you’re somehow conceded, arrogant or cocky. Now I’m not talking about Kanye, my man is on a whole other planet when it comes to this; his “confidence” in my opinion is more of a delusion that money and fame built in his head. But any who, I digress.

Why can’t we not only be confident in ourselves and share it with others without getting an “ego” complex thrown on us?

If you’re feeling intelligent (or even better, if facts support this feeling) why not let that confidence shine?
If you’re having a day where you’re feeling attractive, why not walk with your head up high?

I want to challenge this subtle mindset society has today by saying this:

  1. it’s ok to have confidence in who you are and live your life as so
  2. it’s ok to think you’re attractive and walk with your chin up all the while radiating that confidence
  3. it’s ok to know/believe you’re intelligent
  4. it’s ok to feel sexy
  5. it’s ok to know you have potential to reach your goals

I’ve spent many years believing that if I talked well about myself it was either undeserved, a lie to make myself feel better, or was somehow making me have an ego. But I’m learning as I continue living my life that hey, I’m fucking good at things that will get me places in life so who gives a shit if I let others know it? I’m not saying I go to classes everyday and brag to either my classmates or those I pass in the halls about what I got on that test, that paper or what my grade last semester was. That, my friends, would make me a Kanye West type of asshole. But what I do now, which is different than how I used to live my life, is go to school and believe that I’m smart enough to get those grades and I try to show my confidence not in my words but in my work. So I kind of went off on a tangent about myself (but it’s my blog so I guess I can do whatever I want to haha) but I want it to sink in for whoever it is that reads this that contrary to popular belief it’s fucking alright to have confidence in yourself and live life and act like you know it. Fuck what everyone else will think; as the old saying goes: if you got it, flaunt it.

*disclaimer: put your boobs away and dress modestly still folks. I wasn’t talking about dressing like you’re about to go to work on the corner or are trying out for a Kardashian spin-off show**

HAPPY HUMP DAY!!

love you guys and once again thank you so much for reading. 1,190 views today! Humbled and thankful for you all 🙂

Psychology of Touch & The Nature of Love

I’ve heard it stated that being on the receiving end of a hug can decrease our stress levels, make us less depressed and even remove some anxiety inside of us and I must say I always chocked this “fact” up to being something people made up for a cool pin on Pinterest or a post on Tumblr or whatever. But when you look at the field of psychology it all begins making sense. First off, you have Maslow and his hierarchy of needs; level 3 on his hierarchy is:  Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.It’s interesting to look at the level on his pyramid that comes after, which involves variables such as esteem, self-respect and so on.

So looking in on my own life and the life of others, Maslow and his hierarchy makes complete logical sense. I think this need to feel/be loved by someone is why so many of us single people long for the affection of another person. As I was thinking on this topic tonight I remembered a groundbreaking study done that altered developmental psychology as we know it today. For time sake I won’t explain the entire study done, but in short Harry Harlow in the 1960’s conducted an experiment on rhesus monkey’s and the impact of physical touch. In short his results after several studies found that when there is a neglect of physical touch from another living rhesus monkey, the monkey that was deprived had greater risks of both psychological & emotional distress or even died.

Now I’m sure not all of you care or find this back story as astonishing as I do, so let me tell you where I’m going with this.

I think a huge reason so many young adults feel a desperation for a relationship and fear being alone is the need for that love through touch. I don’t mean anything sexual by this either; yet it’s been shown that when we are physically touched, even in the most innocent of ways, it releases within our body a hormone known as oxytocin (some researchers/physicians have even referred to it as the “hormone of love and attachment”). Is the longing for a relationship about more than just this physical touch? Of course! But for this post I want to just remain focused on touch & how it influences us.

It’s often wondered why some people in our lives would date another person they are not even interested in. Is it settling? In an emotional sense of the word, probably; but it has more to do with that feeling when their partner holds them as they watch television or gives them a hug & a kiss goodbye as they depart. That feeling we receive from oxytocin can be so powerful that we can go out of our way to seek that feeling of security out by another person.

I’m not sure if this post made any sense to you guys, but if you’d like to read more, below are the sites I got my information from:

1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mind-body-connection/201309/why-we-all-need-touch-and-be-touched 

2. http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/p/harlow_love.htm

“Adolescent Issues” (**May be triggering to some**)

I allowed my mind to wander on my way to class this morning back to the days I was reliant on cutting myself to get through a day. As I drove I couldn’t help but glance down at my wrists and sort of admire the white lines marking them; telling stories of pain, despair and hopelessness. It’s been well over a year since I last resorted to it, but every day is a fucking battle now that I’m in recovery of an eating disorder. I can remember almost every line and the meanings behind why I did what I did. Maybe the word admire isn’t the correct word, but seeing them and realizing they have in a way become a part of who I am today brought me back to the young, hurting and suicidal girl I was since the age of 12. I’m 24 now and no longer wish to end my life, in fact I want to live my life for everything I have in me. But as those of you who struggle(d) with similar issues know, it’s not a simple fix where one day years later those thoughts/urges are completely gone. Call it giving in, but I’ve accepted that these battles are ones I will more than likely face for the rest of my life.

When I was in the depths of my self-injury addiction (some argue it’s not an addiction, while others do) I was ashamed beyond belief about what I was doing to myself. I knew that need to feel physical pain and see what was inside of me come flooding out was wrong but I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why something that helped me feel alive for a second in time was something to be shameful of, but I also knew that this feeling of being alive by physically hurting myself was not acceptable to my friends and family. I knew it was scary but as a teenager, it was all I knew how to do to get through yet another day at the school I hated because it was filled with those who bullied me since Kindergarten.

I went into a psychiatric hospital when I was 21 (I think I’ve written about it a few times on here) and when I was in intake that search the nurse did of my body, the one where she saw every visible & hidden cut/scar I have ever made on myself, was absolutely humiliating. It was like being forced to stand in public, stripped down and naked for all the world to see you at your most vulnerable state.

But as I got older I began getting the sense that this way of coping was too “young” of an issue for me to have, which is where I believe my eating disorder came in and took over it’s role as key coping skill in my life. So looking down at my wrists this morning all of this went running through my head; but then I had a question and I want to ask it here as well…..

What makes such a thing as a manifestation of mental illness an “adolescent” issue? My dad said the same thing in a meeting with a previous whack-a-doodle therapist I was seeing at the time; that meeting was meant for me to tell him I had an eating disorder. He told me only teenage girls get this, which I know was out of ignorance, but the issues of self-injury kind of fell into that category as well. So what makes these things adolescent issues?

Absolutely fucking nothing. They’re not adolescent issues, adult issues, kid issues, black or white issues, rich/poor/middle class issues. They’re fucking mental health issues that don’t discriminate or frankly give a flying fuck whether you’re 5,10,15, 20 or 50 for fucks sake. It’s not an issue of any of these things except the fact that the person struggling with these things have a mental illness/mental health issue that needs fucking help.

Agnosticism

Over the past few months I’ve had many people ask me if I am now an atheist due to my lack of faith in God and I’d like to take the time in this post today to answer this. The answer to keep it short and simple is no, I am not an atheist; but I’m also not a Christian any longer (at least in my mind). Since we as a culture like to place labels on things I guess you could now place me in the category of agnostic.

What exactly does this mean? The definition of agnostic is as follows:

a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God,and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

I know I posted about this before but bare with me here. I believe in God, I believe in science/psychology. I don’t believe that living from the Bible is an accurate way of life and I don’t believe living aimlessly bound to a book for support and guidance is healthy. I don’t believe that we as humans can know everything is true that the Bible says is true and I sure don’t believe in that healing or resurrection power the Bible talks about.

Am I denying Gods existence? Fuck no. But I am saying that you can’t believe everything you’ve read or been taught in Sunday school as a child or in church on Sunday mornings. I’ve always been a critical thinking type of person and I believe that religion has a lot of flaws and loopholes. If you read the Bible you know there are a shit ton of “If….. Then…..” statements throughout the New Testament and lately I’ve been finding that a lot of the religious jargon preached on a Sunday morning creates in the believers mind a sort of placebo effect. The mind is a powerful thing, I mean just look at somatoform disorders for example. Yes this is a diagnosed clinical mental health disorder defined as:

 any of a group of psychological disorders (as body dysmorphic disorder or hypochondriasis) marked by physical complaints for which no organic or physiological explanation is found and for which there is a strong likelihood that psychological factors are involved. 

so when I think back on my days as a faithful Christian, eating up the religious jargon and lifestyle like candy I see a lot of this placebo effect, especially when it came to my own mental health issues. There were symptoms I found to be getting better and hyped it up to an act of God but they always came back to me and I’d be paralyzed by my depression and anxiety which always led to me to being suicidal. I understand a lot of people can argue this with a religious view point but I’m just voicing my own opinion here. Even with topics such as death, I believe religions are placebos. All religions are based around the idea of some form of an afterlife, and if we’re being honest here that idea removes from our minds some of the death anxiety we feel as mortal humans. None of us have eternal life in our physical bodies, yet religion offers us up the hope of eternal life in a spiritual sense, followed by a shit ton of rules we must follow as to qualify us to such things. Am I saying this is inaccurate? No, because really none of us know if the religious belief of an afterlife is 100% true. We can’t measure it and nobody has ever witnessed it, except for the few people who have “come back from Heaven” and written articles and books about their so called experience in Heaven. Who knows, maybe there is an afterlife; I would like to think that we’re not all just empty beings who live for a few decades or so and then die off into the ground without anything after occurring, but will we really know until our time has come? No.

That truth scares a lot of people, not being certain what happens after you die and that’s probably where the placebo comes in. If you’re a Christian or Catholic or any religion that believes in a deity that provides an afterlife for us, then you know that since the day we are born and old enough to learn, we are taught of such beliefs that are meant to instill peace when thinking about death and dying. You hear it all the time at funerals that the deceased is in Heaven and we will see them again. I truly and honestly believe that those words/beliefs are a placebo to get us away from the fear of what is unknown and incomprehensible to our mortal minds.

I know this post probably pissed a lot of you off, if you would like to voice your opinion please feel free to do so; I only ask you do it respectfully and without insult.

atheist-or-agnostic

Anticipatory Grief

For 1 year now I’ve been experiencing what psychologists would call anticipatory grief. On the website abouthealth.com they give a pretty simple definition of what exactly anticipatory grief is; they say “ Anticipatory grief is the normal mourning a person feels when he is anticipating the death of a loved one. Anticipatory grief includes sadness, concern for the dying person, preparing for the death, and adjusting to changes caused by the death   (http://dying.about.com/od/glossary/g/anticipat_grief.htm).

Every day for a year this is what I’ve been living with. My Grandma got sick in December 2013 with a stroke and heart attack; pretty much removing any semblance of who she was my whole life. An independent 86 year old woman turned into a vegetable, unable to talk. The memories of walking in her house that night and finding her laying there, face almost blue from the dangerously high blood pressure levels, will never leave my mind. I suffered from intense flashbacks for nearly 6 months after; I’d find myself reliving the entire night in great detail over and over and over again.

A few months ago I got to a point where I was able to accept that the woman who played a major role in raising me, and who I always looked up to as a role model/influence, was no longer here and not coming back. Thank god for therapy, because I wouldn’t be able to work through that on my own. But yesterday, all of this changed. My Grandma turned 88 on Wednesday, and the day after everything in me and my family’s life changed again..

7:30 in the morning my home phone rang, and I saw on the caller id it was the nursing home. My heart always stops for a second whenever I hear the phone ring, but yesterday as I saw the name pop up I knew something wasn’t right. Her nurse practitioner was on the other side telling me how my Grandma has pneumonia in both lungs now, a fever that keeps going up and down throughout the day and how they don’t think she’s going to make it out of it this time. I felt my whole body shake as she asked me what my mom’s plan was in this case; leave her at the nursing home and keep her comfortable, or send her to the hospital. I didn’t know, but I wasn’t the one they should be talking to so I called my mom and she called them.

Enter in the anticipatory grief all over again. Now, all we can do is wait. I went to the nursing home after class yesterday and spent time with her. I refuse to have regrets this time. My Grandma means the world to me and I would do anything in my power to keep her here with me, but at the same time I want this all to be over. Her quality of life is none, she spends all day in bed because she’s unable to move and seeing her like that isn’t who she is.

Nobody teaches you how to cope with this type of grief, but I’m thankful I’m not alone. I have some of the best friends with me now that support me and are here for me. But that doesn’t stop the fact I’m starting to grieve and nothing has happened yet.

Needing to be the Best

School is seriously weird. I never feel more in my element than when I’m doing my homework, sitting on campus or in the classroom. But I’ve noticed that since I’ve gotten to know some of my classmates I find myself internally competing with them. I’m not sure whether it’s my insecurity or that sick need to be the best at something but I become competitive when I hear their grades if they scored higher on a test or in a class than I did.

I know it’s not healthy, but I can’t help but feel like I should give up some of the down time I have worked hard to have over the past few months just so I can be my best academically. Usually I throw my life away in those 3-4 months school is in session. I hide away in libraries or in my room and bury myself under books and assignments just so I know I am doing everything in my ability to receive the grades I know I am capable of getting at the end of a semester. As I’ve learned to relax I have seen my GPA drop a couple points and it’s terrifying. I am no longer “Jess, the girl with the 4.0”, I am just “Jess, the  undergrad student”.

That 4.0 gave me a huge confidence boost; it made me feel like I was finally the best at something and that feeling was phenomenal. Now, I don’t have that GPA and I feel like everyone else. It’s funny because the entire time I was in treatment being normal and like everyone else was all I wanted. But this semester, with this new life of no treatment and full time school and part time work I feel like there’s a void I need to fill.

I was alright last semester because I still had a part of my eating disorder and that made me stand out. No I wasn’t parading around announcing it to everyone I talked to or made eye contact with, but I knew I had it and it somehow made me feel alright. Now I am working on a new life of recovery and that means I am just like everyone else. I don’t have something that makes me different or stand out since i am trying not to give in to my eating disorder thoughts as much and I no longer have the 4.0 on my record that tells the world “I am the best in my class because nobody can get higher than a perfect 4.0”. It’s a mind fuck simply because when I was still sick, in treatment 3 times a week and individual therapy 1 time a week AND working a job part time I managed to get that 4.0. I’ve been wondering if there was a link between my anorexia and my academic achievement of a perfect GPA, which I know I should probably CBT sheet that shit or something (treatment friends know what I’m talking about haha).

So I’ve been feeling a little lost since school started last week. I feel pressure to once again give up my social life for school work and assignments just so I can get a letter on my final grade report that reinforces the “I am the best” mindset. Life is getting complicated again, so I’m sorry if these posts seem all over the place lately. I’m just trying to figure all this shit out while not knowing what the fuck I’m doing.