Category Archives: School

Why Do I Write?

This is a simple question that deserves a complex answer. Using answers that are expected— such as it being therapeutic, or me being required to do it for my job, or even just for the pure joy of writing— no longer satisfies me. I want to understand the emotion I derive from writing. Does my writing grant me blissful ignorance to the world’s problems? Does it compound the issues I face as a college student?

Regardless, one thing is certain, writing provides me with some form of comfort. While this is a common occurrence for writers, I find myself wanting to know more about the inner workings of my own personal writings. I want to unravel what goes on in my head as I write. Being that I garner no real thrill from academic writing, this self-discovery will mostly relate to my creative writings. After all, it’s the dreaded time of the year that Millersville holds their (or a different verb) final exams.

Throughout my personal history, I have had multiple instances of straying into the dark path of depression and anxiety. During those times, my creativity came alive; and with that creativity came a flair for dark and disturbing writings. When I attended Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), I wrote a piece called “Begotten by Hate.” Looking back, this piece was objectively horrible. Reading that story brought me back to a time where the dark thoughts ran rampant. I hated everyone and everything, and the best way I knew to express it was through writing. Thankfully, I am well past that point in my life.

Nowadays, my writing has taken on a more existential flair. My writing is filled with questions about life and what it truly means to be happy. I know it may seem odd to question happiness, but that is how I navigate my way around such emotions. Happiness feels like a foreign concept, as for most of my life, I have felt the complete opposite. Writing is a beacon of hope in these instances, and it is interesting to see what types of conversations I get in with myself over the meaning of life.

A complex answer as to why I write is that I want to not only inform the public, but I want to protect the American people. In recent news, a journalist was butchered in Turkey at a Saudi Arabian embassy. Parts of my family now question whether or not my career path is safe. In all honesty, it does not matter.  In times like these, the need for journalists is greater than ever before.

The reason I write is because it is my duty to use this talent to help others and inform the public. And, though it may seem selfish, I want to prove skeptics wrong. I have autism and I want to prove that it is not, and never will be, a hindrance to my writing. I was told in high school that I would never graduate, and that I would never end up making it to college. Sufficient to say, I kicked down that door of doubt. I am thriving in college and I credit that, in great part, to my writing skills. I proved that guidance counselor wrong and I am continuing to prove that autism does not automatically mean you won’t make it far in life. Autism is not a hindrance to neither me, nor my writing.

Also, huge shout out to a good friend of mine. My EIC at the Snapper is a great human being and helps me out a ton. She even edited this for me!

 

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Drifting along

I have recently made a decision that will impact my life in a good way. The daily struggles of being in college and not being able to afford not even half of what I would like to afford is emotionally draining. That brings up the question, for me at least, why does money have to be a factor in my happiness?

The sad truth of it is that I measure my happiness based on material goods and generally stuff that I buy. That is not a way to live for me, yet it is becoming all the more harder to force myself to think that way. As some of you may know, I am on SSI, which is a government assistance program for people with disabilities or that cannot work.

I look forward to a monthly benefit from SSI. I attempt to work small, low paying jobs to try to supplement what I am missing from SSI and I get help from my parents. Due to my spending habits, however, I am usually in the lower end of my bank account all of the time.

I am used to the feeling at this point, but I would rather not endure the anxiety I feel when I cannot afford something at a store, or get something to eat that I have been craving. Sometimes, I cannot even afford groceries at the supermarket. At these times I ask my Dad for help and I am very thankful to him for helping me.

The fact of the matter is that I need to learn to manage my money better. That is not the purpose of this post though and it causes me anxiety to think about it honestly.

My depression, thankfully, is at a place where I am able to manage it pretty well. My anxiety, not so much, the smallest thing gets to me and little things that used to just annoy me cause things like panic attacks. My panic levels are at places where I can manage them, but they are becoming a nuisance as of late. I have been keeping track of my panic attacks and, on average, I have eight to ten a week. I feel like I am able to maintain myself at this time and I am not super concerned, but it is something that I am going to be bringing up soon with my psychiatrist.

I apologize for not updating this site for awhile; I have been in college and I never really got a chance to devote time to the blog. I honestly missed writing a lot and this has been very therapeutic for me.

School is steadily approaching

I start school in six days. The fall semester to be a little more specific and I am getting the before school jitters this week. It seems odd to me this time, however, because I have been in school all summer during all three sessions. The main factor, in my opinion, that is causing me this anxiety and stress is the amount of things that I am taking on this upcoming semester.

To start, I am taking two classes, Fundamentals of Math and Feature Writing and Magazine Journalism. That will not be an issue; I just finished Math 090 with a passing grade and I feel pretty confident going into this Math class. Feature writing and Magazine Journalism will not be a problem either. I write for the school newspaper as opinion editor and my articles could always be transitioned into features easily. The two classes I am taking are not the origin of my stress.

I got a job that I will be doing over the Fall semester and I am grateful that I am able to do this as well. My fear here is that I will not be able to go to work sometimes due to my anxiety. I am working on ways to combat this cycle of worry and so far I am having positive results, which is quite good for me. I desperately need the money and my Social Security Disability is not quite up to how much I need for my bills and other expenses. Here’s hoping to a postive experience at work. I really need this to work.

There are a couple other organizations that I am affiliated with this semester as well. I am, like I stated above, the opinion editor of the Snapper, which is the school newspaper. I am greatly looking forward to working on my writing skills and my interpersonal skills with the staff of the Snapper. It has become a place I am comfortable at and I hope it continues to be that kind of place. I have no reason to think otherwise, but my mind likes to do something I call, “Catastrophizing.” What this is, is when I think, I go to the worst possible outcome and latch onto it and fill myself with dread and anxiety over a overly exaggerated manner. It is not healthy for me at all, but it is a bad habit that I have picked up. Something outside of my self-reflection is needed to combat this and to that end I am in therapy with some talented individuals.

The other organization that I am a part of is the Magic Players of Millersville. A club that is dedicated to the trading card game, Magic the Gathering. I love a format in Magic called Commander or EDH. There was a resignation over the summer and I became the president of the club. I hope that I am able to perform well and gain some more social and leadership knowledge. Just like the Snapper, however, I catastrophize all situations that I think might pop up.

I am hopeful that none of my negative thinking will severely impact me this semester. I really want to have a semester, just once, where I do not have to miss class due to major mental health issues. The same for work. It always frustrates me that this kind of stuff happens to me on a weekly basis and I get fed up with my inability to do tasks that I have either set for myself or have been set for me.

Panic and anxiety attacks are just something that I go through and I understand that, but if there was a way for me to lower that anxiety just a little bit; I think I would do a lot better. The same thing can be said for my depression, which has, on multiple occasions, caused issues. Either with tasks I need to do, my attendance, issues with other people and in general feeling like I am not worth the time or effort that others put into helping me.

Right now, I am nervous about school, but more of the excited nervousness instead of the anxiety based one. I hope I have a good semester and to those who read and also go to school I hope you have a great semester as well!

A place that should not feel comfortable, yet it did

I just left New York City. I have been there since Wednesday. I was there because I was attending a conference for journalism. I was quite content there, much to my surprise. Cities are usually a place I do not feel very comfortable in. All the people and all of the sensory things.

I was fine though. Being self aware helped me out for this trip. I had one anxiety spike the whole trip. Not to say there were no stresses, but I did well and had a lot of fun.

My fear going on this trip was that it would be a repeat of last year’s trip and I am happy to say I was wrong. I attended panels and networked with professionals in the journalism field.

I was able to build connections with the rest of the staff for the paper too. I cherish the connections I made this past weekend.

The trip was a success on many levels. I revealed sides of myself that I have never done before. I was communicating what I needed a lot better than usual and I adapted to situations when the need arised.

I am thankful for the group I was able to go with. They are a great group of people. I’m glad that I know them. I never thought I would be at this point in my life. Where I have friends thar legitimately care about me. Before, I did not think I was worthy of that. Now, my thinking differs from that perception.

I learned stuff about myself too during this trip. I revealed my super analytical side to a member of staff and that person is now a confidant for me. I have three now! I never in my life thought I would have such good friends.

Thank you Snapper. I really appreciate you guys.

Ashamed of my own thoughts?

When it comes to sharing my thoughts on mental illness I am not usually one to falter in expressing myself. I have always thought of myself as an advocate for those who have a mental illness. Lately, I feel like I am failing at being an advocate for myself. I have come to terms with autism long ago, but I feel uneasy about other parts of my mind.

I am referencing my high school years and my feelings that I had back then. In direct relation to the most recent school shooting in Parkland. The more I think about it, the more depressed I get, and it has been quite a few days of thinking. I feel ashamed of what I was and I wish there was some way that I could go back and shake myself out of it.

Using a scaling system is probably the best way to describe my mental shortcomings from back then.

Anxiety – 10/10

Depression 10/10

Paranoia – 10/10

Fear – 9/10

Those were the big four for me back then. Specifically when I was 16. It was my junior year in High School. I was always anxious that I was failing at being a good person. That, in turn, depressed me and caused me to fear repercussions. Namely the reemergence of my suicidal thoughts that I had when I was 14. I do not like to think about my ninth and tenth grade years that often, but if I do, I remember the first time I started cutting, the first time I burnt myself, the first time I attempted to kill myself. I hate what I was back then and I am terrified, currently, that it is going to all happen again. I can feel the claws of depression digging at me at this very moment.

I do not currently need a more intensive treatment at this time. The big reason for that is because I am a genius at planning ahead for this kind of thing. I have my support network, I have my family, friends, my roommates, the magic club, the snapper editorial board, my icm, my therapist and psychiatrist, and close friends that I confide in on a daily basis. I am calling out to these people with this post, I need help and I am going to need you to help me get back on my feet. I need to beat the depression once again before it overtakes me one more time.

The first thing that I need to do is tackle the anxiety and the fear. They both feed the paranoia and the depression. What makes me anxious? The question used to be really easy to answer. Being around people was my biggest stressor. That is not saying it still is not a huge stressor sometimes, but its effectiveness at stressing me out has severely diminished over the years.

I think that the dominant stressor now is this: hiccups in social interactions and what to do with said hiccups. What I mean by hiccups are perceived mistakes that I make in conversation or interaction with other people. They could be legitimate mistakes too, I am not above admitting that I am horrible at reading people. I do not understand body language and when I try to read lips, I end up botching it. With this perceived mistakes though, I need a helping hand. I need the people I make these mistakes with to be understanding if they are in my network. I am not a perfect person, but I am striving to do all that I can in learning body language.

A common mistake that I make is when I am talking to girls. This one is embarrassing to admit, but I try to look into peoples eyes when I talk to them. When I talk to a girl that is pretty to me, I cannot hold eye contact. I end up looking directly at their chests and I know that it makes them uncomfortable. It’s not on purpose, I really want to emphasize this. I respect all people and I pride myself on being able to hold eye contact when I am talking to someone. It’s just something that I need to work on. I have no way of getting better at this though, at least that is how I view it. Once I start looking down, I feel embarrassed and try to get away from the conversation so I can privately berate myself for my stupidity. I do not try to make women uncomfortable, I really do not and I do not know what to do about this particular issue.

I could write for hours on what I think my social miscues are, but I do not think that it would be very productive. I think I need to start taking action against myself for this type of behavior.

The second thing that needs to be looked at is my fear levels. They are stable at this point, but I would be lying if I said I was not concerned about them. I have conquered many of my fears lately, but there are still a few that are pretty big obstacles. I have unwarranted fears. Things like fearing that a meteorite will pinpoint my location and surgically hit me so I go into a coma for three years exactly. See how outrageous that sounds. That is the type of thought patterns that my head goes through. It was even worse back in tenth grade though. It was at that point in my life that I had a morbid mind and I would rather not go into specifics of what my thoughts were. Sufficient to say, I needed the hospital at that point. It was not a healthy pattern that I adopted back then.

I am afraid of my old self, to summarize, and I will do anything to not let that person come back. I just need a little help from my friends, as Joe Cocker would say.

Regret? No, not really

I decided something today after yesterday’s rant. It has nothing to do with the rant, just consider that a shameless self-plug.

What I decided is that I am going to be honest with myself. I lie to myself a lot, and that is not a good habit to have. The one that comes to mind the most is my weight issues. I am doing great with my weight loss, but I would be lying to say that I have not had my fair share of “cheat days.” There is also the aspect of my romantic life, or should I say lack of. I have been told by a lot of people that I will find someone someday. I believe that, but I am getting to the point where I am becoming discouraged about it.

It all goes back to the regret that hangs over my head about my high school years and my early college career. There were several people that I wanted to get to know better. Not even for base needs, but because I saw something in those people that I thought was special. I was never able to say anything to them because of my anxiety, but I am in contact with some of them still. I wonder what responses I would get now? It is interesting to think about, to say the least.

What always confused me about that was that they initiated contact with me. Whether it be through becoming a friend on Facebook or just saying hello to me. You see, in high school, I was in self-exile due to what I felt I was doing wrong and I would not allow myself to have any friends. Thankfully that changed in my senior year, but the fact remains I forced myself to feel lonely in high school. I was an enigma in high school. I did not talk, socialize, or really participate at all. That thought takes me back to gym class in my sophomore year. This is a year that I would rather forget but for a few moments. My class was running a mile that day and I surprised myself and actually tried. I wanted to beat my time from the freshman year and I did.

I think what helped me do that is that I was being cheered for. I, at the time, had no idea why anyone would ever cheer for me to finish running. I was embarrassed and mad that people were interacting with me. They did not seem to realize how much I hated myself back then. Looking back, I was starving for an interaction of some kind. I was a self-imposed loner and I had it in my head at the time that I hated everyone and everything. This was all except for Star Wars and my music.

One other thing I remember from that year was a particular girl that I never talked to directly but that I always wanted to. I remember one day she looked at me with curiosity. At least I think it was curiosity. I’m not really sure and it doesn’t matter at this point. It was in my driver’s education class and I remember more from that class than that of any other class in high school. All because of one girl’s look of curiosity.  I do not know if it matters right now, but I would have loved to talk to her at least once back then.

Regret is something that I often feel, but I do not feel that right now, as one might think, but just a sense of loss. A lost opportunity to break out of my shell earlier. The shell was about 20 layers deep and only one person ever got through and broke it.

That person turned out to not actually exist, but I digress.

I wish that I could have spent my high school years mostly at high school. All but my senior year, I was in the hospital for mental health issues. I did make a few lasting friends in high school and in the hospital too, but I feel I missed far too much high school.

I lied to myself so much in high school that I believed myself and it cost me a lot. I will say no more to that notion. I am going to be truthful to myself from now on. I know I can do it and I know that it will affect some of my relationships with people good and bad, but this is something that I must do.

Thanks for reading!

Back at School, Stress gets renewed

Being back at school has brought with it a sense of accomplishment and a sense of dread. The feeling of accomplishment is the fact that I am able to even go to school. That makes me happy. The sense of dread comes from the fact that I have no job currently. I am afraid that I will fail at finding a job and fail my roommates. I do not want them to shoulder the financial burden.

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