“Each of us can make a difference. But TOGETHER we can make a change”.

Recently a lot of people have gotten into the series “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix. This series displays a vast majority of mental health issues that teenagers face in their many growing years.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with a mental health condition. I suffer from severe depression. I have practiced self-care for many years along with therapy, to help alleviate my episodes of sadness, and writing was one of those tools. Writing has become a necessity for me, and proved to be an invaluable way to lessen my anxiety and to help with managing my depression.

Kate Spade’s recent passing has started an uproar of awareness regarding suicide that was no where to be seen before. No one was aware she was suffering from mental illness the same as Robin Williams. Why is it still such a taboo to speak out on mental health when it’s very real?

I’ll tell you why, because in today’s society we have found it to be more acceptable to discuss visually noticeable diseases and traumas. The brain cannot be seen; therefore, goes unnoticed. However, everything happening to us, each thought we have, each emotion we face, all comes from the chemicals and hormones our mind releases. This is how our brain controls the messages it relays.

I recently spent a couple of days in the hospital in a psych unit where I was able to purely witness things from a journalistic capacity. I felt like I was ripped out of my normal environment and placed in an episode of American Horror Story Asylum. People had real illnesses and it made me shift the lens from which I viewed even my own mental illness. Although not as severe as many others, people battling mental health rarely ever become completely aware of it. There is still a part of us that wants to believe we are perfectly healthy, because of the stigma.

Until this stigma is removed from “mental illness”, and our current society truly, genuinely accepts it as an illness.. those suffering from these illnesses will continue to hide their condition(s).

Depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anorexia, substance abuse, anxiety, borderline etc. are just a few very common mental health disorders. They feed the mind messages that are not true. Our mind will send mixed signals sometimes. We start to become fearful of daily activities or things that we should not be fearful of. Our mind begins to set in this feeling that we are not good enough or don’t deserve to live because our mind feels as if things won’t get better.

Our brain is a tricky beast. It will have you convinced that everyone is out to get you, looking at you, and/or judging you. And sadly, the last sentence comes with TRUTH! People do judge those with mental illness!

Yet would you judge someone with a visually acceptable disease such as heart issues, or cancer? Or would you tell them to just “get over it?” As though people suffering from mental ILLNESS could somehow just wish it away? Don’t you think we would if we could?!

These mental illnesses may impact us daily, but I’ll let you know they won’t ever define us! We are daily survivors who fight a battle no one will ever be able to see. “Each of us can make a difference. But TOGETHER we can make a change”.

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The Truth About Starting Over After Divorce In Your 20’s

Help, I lost myself again. Almost divorced at 27, I shamefully turn out to be the statistic I fought so hard not to be. I have looked through blogs, articles, and pretty much anything that would help me make sense of how I am feeling. I was starting to become desperate, with no luck. So I figured why not, set the trend, maybe it’ll help others who end up in my situation.

To be painfully honest, it is going to be extremely heartbreaking. I have felt like a failure for many months now at a time. It continues to hit me in the form of waves. Even when I wouldn’t feel sad about the act of divorce itself, I knew I had the right to mourn the loss of my eternal future.

In the beginning people who knew looked at me with nothing but pity, paranoia, and all of the above. The whispers were getting louder and clearer and then came the social media unfollowing. These actions are just some of the things you encounter, learn, and begin to tolerate when going through divorce… even if the divorce is amicable.

In the United States, about 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Just breathe that in for a minute.

In thinking about life, imagine you thinking that you are starting your life at 25, trying to enjoy your husband, get pregnant in your marriage, all while focusing on the new life you started because that would mean the world to you… but honestly should you have to “try”? It should come pretty naturally and it didn’t for us. It felt more so like we were stuck. My words of advice? Move on.

Backstory:

I knew the night of  my wedding that I would end up divorced. If you even have an inkling of that feeling, trust me and save yourself a lot of heartache and headache. My husband and I were relatively young but most certainly in love. The day and night of our wedding we danced, drank, and enjoyed ourselves with our families and friends who were in from out of town. Shortly after I knew for sure it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. However- I stuck through it. I saw my husband get visibly upset the night of our wedding due to his groomsmen all arguing with significant others, not being attentive to bridal party pictures, and much more. Which in turn began upsetting me. People were visibly TOO drunk, not that it should matter at a wedding, but these people were becoming belligerent, rude, and sloppy. I saw myself growing angrier and angrier along with my husband. He began taking his frustration out on me during the wedding, as well as once we were settled in our hotel.

That night should have been the most special night of my life, but it felt like a complete disaster internally. I cried myself to sleep that night and woke up to find my husband still on the couch in another room. We had fought the night of our wedding about our toxic friends and him being extremely drunk went to sleep without me.

It was the morning of our brunch, and I knew I had obligations to fulfill. So I got up, took a shower, woke him up – still incoherent partly, got us both ready. I ignored the previous day/night (again which should have been the most special day of my life) and left to meet our families for brunch.

It was comforting to see my parents there and smiling. This made it relatively easier and made me feel as though last night was just another bad night. I pushed past the feeling from our wedding day/night and enjoyed brunch with ONLY family and family friends. That’s when I began realizing the issues were not us or our families, it was our friends. We each had a group of people in our lives who were not taking our relationship or marriage seriously. They were all either single, dating casually, or not quite ready for that next step. Which made it difficult to get them to feel serious about the MOST important day of our lives. They were all pretty selfish and caused a lot of pain to my husband and I unknowingly.

This made me start to resent them more than I already did due to previous painful encounters both him and I were put through. As we left for our honeymoon the following day, I was feeling much better. I was starting to see a glimpse of what married life is really like. I was growing happier by the minute knowing we were leaving Chicago for a week. On our honeymoon things were great. We rarely had any arguments until we returned home. This is when I knew it was safe to say, it was the people in our lives, because I encountered more pain than ever before caused by his friends.

Almost a year into our marriage, I was still being mistreated by certain females that were friends with my husband or dating their friends. I was made out to be delusional but in reality the truth unfolded on its own once we separated. My husband stood by me like a rock once we were married, and tried very hard for them to not mistreat me, but things had gone too far by 4th of July. I genuinely helped his friends throw a party at their home, to find myself becoming the issue because one of the females in the group was upset, bad mouthing me behind my back, but also accusing me of mistreating her when that was not the case. I was keeping my distance from toxic people (such as her) and that turned me into the wrong doer somehow. I was almost always blamed for things I did not do or act on.

6 years of roller coaster emotions, screaming matches, horrible communications, more tears than I’ve ever had in my life, I made the scary decision to leave my husband. I felt that we both have stable careers, and can start over. For the record- it really WAS like a light switch– when you know it’s over, you know, DON’T question your gut. Your gut is NEVER wrong. You deserve to feel loved. You deserve more than being ignored, or mistreated by your significant others friends.

Now- let me be clear, the gruesome and painful details of what happened in my marriage will remain in my marriage. That was what we agreed upon during our separation. Plus my husband is an extremely amazing guy!! I have nothing but love for him, and I would never bash him to anyone. However, between the two of us, there were issues that could not be fixed. Once the communication, trust and love is gone.. there’s nothing left to fix in my opinion.

Once you begin to feel this way, or have been through this, you should not be afraid.

Moving On:

Getting an apartment on my own was extremely terrifying the following year. I was going backwards in life. Having individual responsibilities such as bills, food, going out to learn who you are in your new life is all going to feel daunting. These things are all expensive, but every penny is worth it. I lived off of $100 a week for months, and while it was tiresome, nobody was in my space making me wonder if I was loved or not. Finances were tight, but my best friend was supportive, and that’s all that I needed.

Once you learn who you are, you find the best part of your life. If I had taken the time to do this soul searching earlier, I could have avoided all the pain I felt during my marriage and relationship for so many years. I questioned every group outing with his friends because I was fearful of what encounter I would face. I began to wonder if the person on the other end making me look/feel bad is going to attempt to take my husband and stability away from me. Many times I ran into other women being disrespectful of my marriage. You know who you are, all of you. Shame on you… but I guess I also owe you the biggest thank you in my life. You gave me my freedom back. You gave me the key to happiness. So even though you’re sucky people, thanks. 

Post-divorce or separation you learn some of the biggest lessons in your life. You may have made the decision that you deserve better. If so, you are on a roll! No one will stick up for you the way you will stick up for yourself. Speak out when you are feeling certain ways, tell yourself and people around you that you are better than this.. even if it’s hard to quite believe at the moment. You will eventually be ok!

People ask, what comes next? Learning how to love yourself and date again. Dating, the most daunting of tasks you have to embark on. You’ve been in a committed relationship for many years, and you didn’t have to worry about things like shaving your legs or someone judging you, or being home alone. You were comfortable with these things and so was your significant other.

Whereas, dating is just plain hard! You have to just pick someone and decide whether or not you two are compatible. It’s definitely the most awkward thing ever. It shouldn’t seem so foreign since that is how you got your husband in the first place, but it becomes a completely foreign concept. You will find yourself spending hours having sometimes what’s considered a pointless conversations with this date over Mexican food to find out this might not be what you were looking for. Or you find a pretty decent guy who ends up selling pot out of your kitchen, forms sentences that he thinks sounds smart but don’t make sense, and is high 99% of his awake time. Dating is plain ugly! It’s not always sweet and romantic, it’s awkward, lots of times uncomfortable, but sometimes it can be gratifying.

When you find the person that you decide to date, good for you.. they’re not paying your bills, so who cares?

Dating someone post-divorce is hard. You constantly have doubts, question every decision you make, and even if you don’t want to admit it… it’s always on your mind that he or she may betray you like you’ve been betrayed before. You’re not alone though. What you can’t do is act upon it. Learning to trust your judgement and your new partner is a scary process. Scarier than you’ll ever let them know, and I think that’s a little normal. Just don’t allow your insecurities to project on your new partner. He’s not your ex (for a reason). ALLOW YOURSELF TO BELIEVE YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

In terms of losing friends.. you need to be prepared for that. People will pick sides, talking about what you’re doing to your ex, rumors as if there weren’t some there to begin with and much more. You will end up losing more friends than you thought you would. It will hurt, but if they don’t want to stick around, it’s their loss. This part of life is inevitable, unfortunately. Go through your friends list and cut ties with anyone you question. People will not like it, but this is your new life.. YOU have control.

Want to know the TRUTH about starting over after divorce in your 20’s? You need to look past the pity and pointed fingers. Know you WILL get through this, be grateful that you got a second chance to live your life the way you want to. Even though it isn’t what you planned, be a little thankful that at least you got to cut ties with the toxic people that faked liking you the whole time. They were really awful anyways. Find a healthy way to vent it out, and put one foot in front of the other and start taking steps. You’re not the first or last person to go through this. Your heart will mend, and I promise you will be okay!

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Shhh.

WHY DO WE FIND IT SO HARD TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH?

Hello,

There’s a question I ask myself nearly every day and there are so many ways in which it could actually be answered …

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Why do we find it so hard to talk about Mental Health, when 1 in 4 people will be affected at some point in their life and around 450 million currently suffering?

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I know when I was in school/college, mental health was not something that was discussed openly, which is one of the reasons I didn’t tell anyone sooner.  I was young so I didn’t really understand what mental health was. I didn’t know the thoughts and feelings that I was having/experiencing would turn out being a mental health diagnosis.

So why don’t we speak out?

Lack of Help

We all know that when there is physically something wrong with someone when they are the priority and in most ways, I can see why patients who suffer from a mental health illness should not get neglected due to this and unfortunately some do. 

There are people who are meant to be there specifically to help, like doctors for example, but I don’t have the best experience with doctors and my mental health after I turned 18 but that post is yet to come! I don’t believe we have enough help and support being offered for Mental Health nowadays.

My family has always been supportive, since the day I finally spoke openly about it. Although they’re not specifically trained or the most knowledgeable in the subject (unless you have a mental health professional in your family), so the main thing family can offer is support, which believe me is much appreciated! 

Lack of Understanding

I don’t believe that anyone really understands mental health, there are so many ways it can affect different people.

No two people suffer the same!

 You can always try to understand by listening, but I think unless you’re educated in the field or have experienced a mental health illness in one way or the other you may struggle to understand & that’s more than okay because if you lend your ear and take the time to listen it will be appreciated that you dedicated your time.

This is what I believe health care professionals are missing. They may have the medical knowledge of Mental Health but they don’t care about you, as they would their own family or friends.

People suffering are also some of those included when talking about ‘understanding’ mental health. I didn’t have a clue when it first started happening, even to this day, after battling my mental health for around 10 or more years, I still struggle to explain what I’m feeling, how it happens and what it means. This is why we need further education on the subject.

Independence

 I don’t know if this one is as big of a reason as the rest, but I believe this is something that I felt when I had just started experiencing my mental health symptoms. 

You know when you’re young and you think you don’t need anything or anyone? You think you’re finally becoming confident & mature on your own? … but then your body takes a different route.

That’s what happened to me and probably many other people, it doesn’t even have to happen when you’re young. No matter what your age, you want to be independent and conquer things on your own but sometimes this isn’t the best way.

There is no shame in needing help! If you take anything from this post, please, if you’re suffering in silence, ask for help.

It took me 8 years to finally talk to someone about what was happening because I thought I could deal with it by myself but I was so wrong!

Embarrassment/Fear

I think these two fit perfectly under the same umbrella here because they’re both fairly similar. My mental health is pretty much an open book nowadays but in the past, I have been so embarrassed by it, especially my self-harm scars but that is something I have learned to love. I call them my war wounds, as I continue to fight it and stay strong.

No one knows exactly how someone will react to anything so it can be really scary talking about it for the first time … & many times after actually.

You may be scared what people think and whether they will treat you differently – Most people have been supportive of me throughout this part of my life but I’ve also had a select few people who have decided they ‘didn’t want to continue being my friend, until I had gotten over it’ safe to say that I cut them out of my life! 

Make sure to put your health first and stay strong!

Stay Weird …

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She’s not a bitch, she’s just real

She’s not all antisocial. She’s not lying alone in her beds, staring at her phone and waiting for someone to call and make plans, to invite her to do things.

She’s not blowing you off because she has something better planned.

The truth is she likes being alone. She appreciates good company of course, but that’s not the only thing that she looks forward to. Just because she sometimes looks and acts like she doesn’t know how to talk to people, how to interact, how to make friendships or relationships stick, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want a person, or people around her.

It’s the exact opposite.

There is so much more to a girl who likes her own space than she will ever lead on.

Because she has hobbies that she doesn’t need a companion for. She knows what she wants to do, she knows what makes her happy.

And trust me, she really isn’t willing to put her wants and needs on hold because someone doesn’t support them or understand them.

Because she has been there before.

She used to be a social butterfly, out every night, making tons of plans with every person she ever knew.

Until she finally saw that not everyone in her life needed to be her friend. Not every guy she dated had something to offer and not every BFF saw her and liked her for the things that she wanted to do for herself.

She’s very down to earth, and when everyone she knows is out, hanging out, doing the same things they would do by themselves with friends, she smiles.

Because she knows that she needs to take care of herself. Mind, body and spirit.

And she doesn’t believe that interaction is something that should never be turned of.

She has time to think, to listen, to observe, to wonder, to dream.

She might even be the smartest girl you will ever meet.

And the most loyal.

Because when she does makes connections, she does everything in her power to keep them, whatever it takes, she’s always down to make something work. Be it a friendship or relationship.

It’s not that she’s closed of, that she isn’t fun, it’s just that she’s too smart and seen too much to make time for anyone who doesn’t make time for her.

So the next time that you met a girl like this and think to yourself, she must be really lonely, remember that she has done this by choice, not by force.

And for that, she’s stronger than most anyone you will ever have the pleasure of knowing.

I’m the best damn *enter expletive/word of your choice here* you will ever meet!

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For years I’ve written, and people would ask me, over and over, WHY don’t I share my work?

You see, when I was between the ages of 13-18 in the middle of being bullied by people, I began to believe them.  I would write in a journal, which soon became a secret blog.  I have kept my past as my “past,” until recently; I was victimized once again, but as an adult this time. I felt helpless, hopeless, and enraged. Yet, we still don’t tend to talk at length as adults about a very common problem.

Bullying

Kids get bullied; the “weak” get bullied.  Adults presumably are neither targeted nor affected by bullies.  However, the reverse is true.  Adult bullies, whether in work or within social situations, will target very specific individuals.

For those bullied by their so called, “friends” there is no Human Resources department to whom you can turn to.

Social exclusion and isolation are very powerful weapons in a bullies court.  They will wield these brilliantly once a target has been identified and enablers are present.  Enablers are NOT bullies themselves, but sheep who will turn a blind eye through silence or fear of their own social exclusion.

This is where phone calls/texts don’t get returned. Group activities get arranged without your invitation.  During the times when the rest of the group meets, you are belittled, branded delusional and laughed at.  You can challenge it, you can complain about it, but it’s ultimately pointless.  As wrong and as devastating as this sort of behavior is by the BULLY or the SHEEP, there is nothing you can do but withdraw.


So today, I decided to talk about being bullied.  I thought you bullies have a lot to call me, well, I’m the best damn *enter expletive/word of your choice here* you will ever meet!

The thing is, I’m not a what you bullies portray me to be.  I never was.

I am just Nida.

I am someone who WAS a victim, and someone who found the strength to fight back. I am someone who believed that I was worthless and fought hard to realize that I wasn’t.

So now it’s time for a change.  Change is scary.  Change is good.  I want to share more of myself than just my bullying stories.  I AM more than my bullying stories.

I’m a good writer.  I like music.  I love concerts.  I like fashion.  I’m a wife.  I’m a sister.  I’m a daughter.  I like making friends and I really like helping others to know that they are pretty terrific, too.

So, I have decided, I am no longer allowing bullies to control my life.

I am just Nida.

And that is pretty perfect for me.

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The Age of the Power Couple

Today is our annual MAGAP (Midwest Chapter – The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management) Conference at DePaul University.  While sitting there I began to think about, how as women claim more leadership positions, the power couple is becoming a model for modern relationships.

Now mind you neither my husband nor I have SUPER high power careers.  To paint a quick picture for you, we both work in Higher Education as Assistant Directors at the same institution, and are relatively young in our mid 20’s & early 30’s.  Both of us take pride in our careers and strive to do well each day individually, as well as together.

Speaking of working “together,” that is the piece I cherish the most!  I not only get to spend my day with my husband, but it is not a complete foreign concept to him when we talk about work.  He shares the same success, failures, and accomplishments as I do and that is what you call in my book the definition of a true, “Power Couple”.

We consistently push each other to be better, stronger, and strive for greatness! Although sometimes that can be challenging, I always appreciate him being my personal cheerleader & coach.

Well today, I would like to not only be his BIGGEST FAN but his cheerleader too!!  My husband served on the CRM Selecting & Implementation panel at our conference today (and he did truly amazing).  I am ever so proud and a little envious of him. 😉

My husband is influential and instrumental in the functioning of our family. He is instrumental in me not losing my mind at the end of a hard day at work.  No matter the day there is always a foundation of love and commitment to one another. The concept of soul mates and being deeply in-love is a state of emotion that we believe is built throughout a marriage rather than an emotion a couple begins with. We believe this because our love now is stronger and deeper than it was on our wedding day. Each day we are together we are sharing more moments, having more experiences, and obtaining a greater understanding of each other. All of these moments building on each other creates a deeper and stronger connection between us.  My admiration, appreciation, and respect for my husband is much stronger now than when I was doe eyes and carefree on the day we said I DO.

After we said I DO is when life happened. The I DO is the wedding. The marriage is bills to pay, houses to find, new in-law family dynamics, first time conflicts to discuss, children to prepare for, and work to be done. The moments of adversity intermixed with the moments of pure joy is what makes love deeper and marriages stronger.

At the end of the day, I am thankful for being what is called a, “power couple.”

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Sweat is just fat crying

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@neeeedzzz

This summer I’ve decided to begin going to the gym at least twice a week.  I don’t have a lot of free time, but prioritizing my health is super important to me after a few recent scares my husband came across.  I found that helping motivate him, helps me along the way as well.  Plus we can totally squeeze 1 hour of exercise into our week.

I felt that it takes a lot to physically conjure up the courage and make it to the gym your first time, and below are some tips that have helped me.

Go with a friend

Everything feels easier when your with a friend, and going to the gym is no exception to that.  Talk about your health and fitness goals before signing a gym membership.  Try to find a time in your schedules that will allow you to go together.  Working out with a friend can not only motivate you, but it makes you feel a hell of a lot more comfortable in a sometimes intimidating environment.  Plus, having a friend around means that you’ll always be covered if you accidentally fall off of a treadmill when you’re running too quickly!

Meet with a personal trainer AT LEAST once

My husband and I had our first sessions at the gym yesterday, and each of us met with a trainer.  My trainer was a female around my age, and she had a similar body type as well.  This was actually really helpful in my case, because I was able to discuss my body freely.  Trainers don’t make you feel self-conscious, in fact she acted more like a workout buddy who had tons of valuable feedback to provide.

She was able to conceptualize a workout plan for me, before I could (to be fair, I had no idea where to start).  She educated me about the various machines there that looked extremely intimidating, and by the time I was half way through my session I felt like a pro.  Although there are people who prefer a full-time trainer, I am not one of them.  I feel as though, I got everything I needed from one session.  I plan to create my own workouts moving forward.

If the thought of planning a workout routine sends you into sweats, then consider following a workout tutorial online. Whether you’re off to the gym or you’re exercising from the comfort of your own home, it’s entirely possible to lose weight and have fun by following the advice of some experts.

Take is fashionably slow

The single biggest piece of advice that you should take from this post is not to overdo it on your first visit to the gym.  I started to get that nauseous feeling, and I knew it was time to stop.  Be sure to pay attention during your gym routine, and learn how to use each piece of equipment properly – the more you know about it, the better your workout will become.

I’m not super into fitness and I don’t particularly like going to the gym, but it’s something that I do for my future self. For me, going to the gym is more about preventative health measures than looking beach body ready. I definitely think that exercise is an important healthcare practice, but whether you decide to do it in the gym, the comfort of your own home, or outdoors is completely up to you.

Also, there is nothing wrong with adding a little swag or flare to your workout gear.  I took this opportunity to go shopping (of course), and found some really great things.  I’ll be sharing all the goodies I purchased very soon! but that is for a different post, at a different time.

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