Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first

Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first

I guess this is a “for the girl about to turn 23” post. If you’re turning 22, click here. If you’re turning 21, click here. There’s that classic Blink 182 phrase, “nobody likes you when you’re 23.” However, it may seem like that, but I promise you it’s not true.

At 23 it’s as though people expect that you know what you want to do. I promise you it just seems that way, but it’s all about figuring out who you are! If you’re like me, you WILL go back and forth between law and publishing, only to decide that it’s been publishing even before you even transferred colleges.

I binge-watched the entire “Sex and the City” series, and I watched the final episode tonight, and I found myself reciting Carrie Bradshaw’s most famous line: “there are relationships that will take you unexpected places, there are relationships that will get you far from where you were, there are relationships that will take you home, but the most important relationship, is the one you have with yourself.” I think that’s the only quote that I memorized throughout that entire series besides “hello my name is fabulous.” These are both true for when you turn 23. It’s all about how you see yourself — not through other people’s eyes.

In just eight days, I turn 24, not to mention it’s officially GEMINI SEASON! So without further ado, here are 23 tips when you turn 23:

  1. You will want to/or explore going to graduate school. But if you don’t, that’s still okay.
  2. Watch “Wonder,” even if you read the book. It will change you, and you will relate to it in some way or another. Also, watch “Joker,” because it’ll give you another aspect of psychology, for all of you psych majors out there!
  3. Binge watch “Sex and the City,” no, I am not biased. It has hidden life lessons that will help you later on.
  4. Treat yourself to a shopping spree! This could be the last time unless you make bank and you have a steady job. Maybe after you’ve watched “Sex and the City” you’ll want a pair of her blue Manolo Blahniks.
  5. Go back to your roots. It could be bible-study, it could be going back to the country you were born in, or it could simply be the hobby you were born to make a career out of.
  6. Thank your fifth-grade teacher, even if they don’t reply to your email. They knew you better than any other teacher. If you’re graduating from college, thank your professors.
  7. If you’re in a non-related teaching field, you probably don’t want to go into teaching. I’m just telling you from someone who tried to explore that route.
  8. You will make friends on the internet, if you haven’t done so, already. Just be smart about it.
  9. You will be so thankful you didn’t end up with what you thought you wanted.
  10. Ambition is key to no matter what you do.
  11. Rachel from “Friends” will be the most relatable character from “Friends.” Yes, you will be watching that show a lot because adulting is hard.
  12. If you do choose to go to graduate school, pick whatever field you choose with no one’s influence — including your mom’s.
  13. Cry — it doesn’t matter how many times you cry this year, or how many people notice, just cry.
  14. This year is about staying true to YOU — no matter if you’re post-grad or just getting out of undergrad.
  15. If you are a newly-minted college grad, conGRADulations!
  16. Don’t listen to your brain after you’ve had an entire bottle of wine. Your wine-induced brain doesn’t know what the hell she/he is thinking. Besides, you’ll realize that drinking isn’t ostensibly so cool like you thought when you were 21.
  17. Again, it’s okay if you don’t have a “cool job” or internship, yet. You’ll get there with time, patience, and perseverance.
  18. Please let your loved ones know if you got home safely.
  19. Tell your loved ones “I love you,” and mean it.
  20. Especially in these times, go for a job on the front-lines, like working at a Veterans’ or Nursing Home.
  21. Your opinion on love will change, and it will be YOURS. In fact, all opinions will be yours, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You’ve learned, you’re educated, and you should make a cohesive argument by now.
  22. If you haven’t learned how to say “no” by now, it’s time.
  23. With that being said, speak up!

Well, nonetheless, welcome to your own Jordan Year, as I transition to my Kobe year. 🥂 Bottoms up. (BTW is a “Kobe year” even a thing?) Well, I’m making it a thing.

xoxo,

April 💕

The Year Of The Rat, The Year Of 4, The Year Of ACTION | New Age Morning Rituals and Reads

The Year Of The Rat, The Year Of 4, The Year Of ACTION | New Age Morning Rituals and Reads

Happy New Year, everybody! Here we are in the… new roaring twenties? This year came in like a lion for sure, especially with Gronk being a co-host with Steve Harvey on FOX’s NYE special — boy, is that guy a party animal!

I’ve preached on Instagram to not be “all-talk” about yours/mine/our goals for 2020. I can’t stand when people are “all-talk” and no do or action. My Enneagram type is 4, which is coincidentally my number for this year as well as 2020 in numerology. According to a little something I also shared on Instagram, Enneagram 4’s are the artist who will not only bring the action to the new year but to actually act. Here’s the key to resolutions: your “new year” will be the same as the last if you don’t change your habits. As I’ve also preached in Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall, you can bitch and moan or you can freakin DO SOMETHING!!! Change and manifestation don’t work unless you do. The (in)famous New Years Resolutions similarly don’t work unless you do.

With that being said, I took some inspiration from The Gem Goddess on YouTube and created my own little morning routine. Even though I have been doing this said routine for two mornings thus far, I remind you that it does not take much time to develop a habitual routine. Moreover, I light a vanilla-scented candle (you can use any scented candle — that just happens to be my favorite scent). I also light vanilla incense and use it until it comes to a stub. I then take my red, polka-dotted journal and jot down my intentions for the day and to what and whom I am grateful. The trick is to say your intentions in the present tense; that way, you can write your intentions as if you already have them, which is KEY in manifestation.  I then meditate on my intentions with the sounds of Inspirabel, high-vibrational music that will also increase your vibrations. Classical music has a way of “doing that.” I recommend listening to it with headphones, or you could also listen to a guided meditation. If you don’t have heat in your room, wrap yourself in a soft, weighted blanket. Comfort is also key. Like I said, I did this for two days and it WORKS!

It also helps if you have some tea to calm your anxious nerves (especially if you haven’t taken your meds yet), or some coffee to wake you up. I know, those two do sound contradictory. I personally have one cup of coffee, then make myself a cup of green tea. In 2019, and in the years before that, I went a little crazy on my coffee intake, but not this year! It’s just not good for you! Speaking of which, I’m not going to drink alcohol unless it’s on a holiday, special occasion, or when I go out to a restaurant to eat. This will do wonders for your body, as well as your mental health.

Another thing: READ MORE! Take a couple of hours to stay off of your phone to read. This January, I am reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson, and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. This won’t be easy considering I’m taking a course in British Literature this semester, but I always find a way. 😉

 

 

 

 

Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

In “Sex and the City: the movie” Charlotte mentions to Carrie she hasn’t been running because her anxieties about life are stopping her. I remember when I wrote Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management, I was in a terrific state both physically and mentally, ultimately providing myself with a healthy lifestyle by working out (almost) every day and getting a salad and drinking plenty of water. Come to the end of that semester, I found myself falling off the rail and into some (very) unhealthy habits. This was due to the stress of finding a job and taking a whopping SIX CLASSES two semesters in a row. This only led me down the rabbit hole of doubt. It wasn’t until the end of the Spring 2019 semester, that I learned the importance of balance (which may seem like a course on repeat.)

Balance is essential. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and balance each other out. Your education, relationships (with yourself and other people), work, and overall well-being need equal attention, which can prove itself to be difficult. No one is 100% “on top of their sh*t” 24/7. Nobody’s perfect. Life happens. But it’s important, like I said in Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again — the title speaks for itself! And can I just say that drinking a lot of coffee and/or alcohol does NOT help? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually self-medicating.

The best kind of medication without making yourself sick is 1) tea and 2) therapy. Tonight I saw a tweet by a fellow writer who was struggling with health anxiety and (for ladies, only) period stuff with accompanying physical ailments. That accurately described what I was feeling this afternoon (and prompted me to write this post.)

On the topic of therapy, I see my therapist every two weeks, just to check-in. I’ve been going to therapy since I was a freshman in high school. I’ll be honest, there were extended periods of time when I ignored therapy and didn’t make appointments. Let’s be real, a diabetic doesn’t not take their insulin because they “don’t have time.” With mental health, it’s the same concept. I remember when I used to always keep saying “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have time to ‘make time!'” For this, this, and that, I kept using that same excuse. In fact, when people told me I needed to make time, I got pretty annoyed it hit a nerve. Now, I’m understanding the importance of it.

This brings me to my next point: you can as they say in the movie, “Tammy,” “bitch and moan” about something, or, you can do something about it. As I used to preach all the time in my Insta-stories, if you want something to happen, YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO 👏 MAKE 👏 IT 👏 HAPPEN.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing is impossible, remember that. And as to paraphrase what it says in the Bible: “The LORD helps those who help themselves.” Life is truly a blessing. So live it to the fullest and in the healthiest possible way.

This is an example of what I like to call a ROUTINE:

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No, you do not have to get up at 5:30 AM unless you’re really feeling ambitious. But a routine helps to ease the anxiousness.

In fact, by the time this goes up, I will be in bed getting my beauty sleep and getting up at a good hour for a jog.

Thank you for listening to my “Ted Talk.”  😊

xoxoxo,

April 😘💕

Self-Care and Spirituality Tips

Self-Care and Spirituality Tips

During this time of year, you’ll notice that everything and possibly everyone around you has been acting “funky–” and not the good kind of funky. That is because the planet Mercury is currently in retrograde and that can affect all astrological signs, but especially Air Signs (like mine.)

You’re reading this thinking, “April, I think you’re being ‘funky’ because you don’t usually get into things like this.” Since transferring schools, I’ve gotten a lot into astrology and even gotten in touch with my spiritual-psychic side (I’m not Raven Baxter, I’m not actually psychic.) You can fight me all you want on this, but even when I went to Catholic School, we learned how others practiced believing.

This time of year actually happens to hit me right in the heart these past two years because we are actually approaching the 2-year-anniversary in which I was hospitalized. If you’re new to the Diaries, check out ‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es) for the whole story.

So, how will I cope? Or how do I cope with something so heavy and tumultuous to remember? I have luckily learned how to achieve this hard-to-grasp aspect that is self-care.

Since practicing my spirituality, I have learned to replace “I want this…” with “I have this…” or “I am this…” PRESENT TENSE!!! It’s essentially a mantra! Another part of it is living in the present, which may sound like a cliche, but I promise you that’s it’s just common practice that a lot of people do struggle with. It’s just a habit that you have to get yourself into. It also helps if you write to your guides. Guides? Really, April? You’re insane. Eh, just a little😉 Learn more about them here. Listen, I’m not trying to “convert” anyone here. I’m just here to give advice and share what has worked for me these past three months of 2019. I have also learned how to treat myself (responsibly, of course) and immerse myself into things that I love to do, or have always wanted to do.

Hey, April, I’m friends with you on Facebook and I noticed you have a camera in your profile picture? What’s up with that? 

Writing may be one of my passions, but I can’t do it full-time, and I’ve been known to drive myself crazy with it. I desperately needed a hobby, not a hobby-turned-full-time-job-that-drains-the-sh*t-out-of-you. So, I branched out into the arts (which I’ve always loved), and I’m in the process of making a documentary for my Arts Administration Capstone and… wait for it…

A YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

Taking time for yourself to do what you love is an important part of self-care, even if it’s just doodling in your notebook. And who knows? You could make a living out of it! Taking time for yourself, in general, is imperative to your overall being. So, you could go for a run, go get yourself a cup of coffee and avocado toast (like I did yesterday!) at your local coffee shop. The other day, I gave myself a facial and I also bought jade rollers, which you will see in another blog post to come.

Right now, I hope you’re in a nice pair of leggings or sweat pants because you deserve some serious comfort from your 9-5 job and/or studying! Happy Friday!

xoxoxo April 💕✌😘

 

 

 

Learning How To Say ‘No’ And Learning What You Want Out Of Life

Learning How To Say ‘No’ And Learning What You Want Out Of Life

This hasn’t really been my week, I’ll be honest. But you know what they say, the dark brings out the stars. Light has always been a motif in my life. In fact, my horoscope for today said, “don’t feel bad about wanting more.” In some cases, you need to push for what you want, which often means sacrifice.

If you know me, you’d know I always say, “October isn’t my month.” It really isn’t. No matter how much I love fall, the leaves, the weather, and even people start to show their true colors. I can’t help but think to myself, “do I really love fall? Or just the fashion and the pumpkin spice lattes I can get at Starbucks?” I had to ask myself a different question last week, but in a different context: “do I really want to write about fashion?” Needless to say, I wound up quitting my fellowship at CFashionista, but no worries, I’ll still be writing about fashion in my school newspaper.

Another thing: I took it upon myself to schedule a phone call with a graduate student at a prospective graduate school I really want to attend once I graduate from RWU. After sitting in countless senior seminar poetry classes, I’ve come to realize that the one thing I truly love to write is… guess what… POETRY.

I rediscovered poetry December 2016, when I was in the process of transferring colleges. It helped me cope with a lot that was going on in my life. (My poetry portfolio will be coming out within the next year or so, I figure.) Moreover, I’m planning on pursuing my MFA in poetry after I graduate.

Pursuing poetry as a concentration meant saying “no” to fiction writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love both; but poetry is my strongest avenue. This is where I’m going to get into saying “no,” when you need to.

I often call myself a “people pleaser,” which doesn’t necessarily work out for me. But in reality, you have to learn how to start saying, “no,” especially if it’s something you don’t want to do. I laugh as I write this because I’m remembering this Jimmy Fallon clip of Kevin Hart being scared shitless of Robert Irwin’s animals. No joke, I’d be scared, too. But like a lot of people, I have a problem with saying “no,” at times. Saying “no” will end up working out in your favor, when necessary. We know what we want, we’re not stupid.

So, moral of this blog post, don’t be afraid to say “no,” because, in the end, you’ll learn what you really want out of life. That goes for absolutely everything. Need I say more? I think not.

xoxo,

April 💜

Burnt Out

Burnt Out

I know, you’re thinking “it’s only week four (five now) of classes. How could you be burnt out?”

As I was typing the words, “burnt out” in the title, I looked at it and said, “has it really gotten to this point?”

As I sit in the atrium next to the Starbucks on campus, I am busy submitting poems to potential magazines and thinking about what to do next. Do I get lunch? No, not quite yet. Do I submit more poems for consideration? No, wait till you generate some more. Do I do work? Yes, April, you should OR you could write another blog post.

I wrote a blog post a while ago called Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management. Maybe this is just me, but I think that my time management is more up-to-par in the second semester. I’m sitting here yawning my like no other (mostly because I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for my 8 a.m. Management class.) I want to yawn some more just saying, “I have an 8 a.m. class Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” Yup, there I go again.

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Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how tired I am (constantly), I’m here to talk more about time management so your head can stay clear.

My morning routines (particularly Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I wake up at an ungodly hour, get dressed, get my usual venti-iced-white-mocha at the campus Starbucks and go to class. Since I commute to campus, I usually go home a half hour after my class. But today, I’ve decided to stay the entire day to catch up on work.

While I don’t have a set to-do list, I do have a consistent plan to get sh*t done. That means having a killer attitude even when you’re absolutely cranky. A constant theme I’ve noticed in the podcasts I listen to is the idea of “faking it till you make it.” To me, what that means, is faking it until it becomes reality. Last Thursday, I was so cranky and burnt out that I refused to take a joke or even smile. But then my mom, oddly enough, made me laugh about a Nacho Mama’s delivery car or something. (Nacho Mama’s is a Mexican place in Bristol). And I actually smiled!

But as I write this portion two weeks later, I have my sh*t together, and I even completed my first exam of the semester! (Pray for me, it was Management). Another thing: I started dancing again, and I completely forgot how much I loved it. Being a part of a team/club (or two, or three) really gives you balance, plus you discover what you’re truly passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. But dance has been my first love since I was three years old. (Thanks KD for persuading me to come to dance last Wednesday.)

That goes back to my theory about balance. Balance is a necessity of life, and even if you think you’re so busy, you actually can make time for your friends and the things you love. My friends and my mom keep telling me, “you need a hobby outside of writing.” I think I found it ☻

 

Finding Your Place | Transferring | Look At Me Now

Finding Your Place | Transferring | Look At Me Now

I quoted this in another blog post, and I’m going to quote it again:

“Sometimes to chase after your future, you have to stop running and plant yourself in one place. Take a stand and fight for what you want. And know that even after the darkest of nights, the dawn will come. And you will find a place where you don’t have to hide. A place to call home.” — Carrie Bradshaw, The Carrie Diaries

This past year was a time for reflection and starting a new, and honestly, I have zero regrets. I remember almost two years ago, my family packed up our stuff in Medfield, Massachusetts and moved to Bristol, Rhode Island. I wish I had a better attitude about it, at the time. But it wound up becoming an adventure. Who knew that a year later from that I’d be switching schools, too? Transferring was something that was on my mind for a really long time. And according to my great philosopher, HelloKaty’s YouTube video, “If you’re not happy somewhere, or with someone, get out.” She also touches upon the complex and surely complicated process of transferring. To back up her argument, transferring someplace else is one of the most courageous things you can do. It is not a cowardly act. Everyone has their opinion, but I was certainly not happy. Being on the phone crying in the corner of the library is not healthy, whatsoever. And yes, it happened frequently. I knew that I would become a “double transfer” (as I switched high schools, too), but I knew in my gut and my heart that this was the right move for me.

For those of you who know me personally, you’d know that I switched my majors a billion times. Now, I can finally say, I’m 1,000,000x more confident in my choice at RWU. One thing that’s true about anything is that it takes time for anything to grow and find out who you are. It just took me a few more trials and errors than anyone else.

Listen, why am I telling you this? I was recently inspired by my poetry professor whom I talked to yesterday about poetry, and we both agreed that poetry would be my focus for next year, as I’ll be a junior writing my thesis and taking a senior seminar. This is not a “go to RWU!” ad, but I’m just saying the Creative Writing professors really influenced my choice to come and to take a shot at higher level classes and dip my toes into a few things. I’m now taking a Literary Publishing course, and I’m absolutely loving it. RWU students also reintroduced me to fashion: my second love (writing being the first). I’m slowly heading back into my Audrey Hepburn phase by taking a chance with vintage clothing, as seen here:

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I love playing with neutrals, as they are really in this season. I decided to put a little “spring” (and heel) in my step by appropriating my mom’s lace-up kitten heels — no, really, talk about vintage! Florals are definitely in this season, as well. And any printed pant with a v-neck sweater? Totes vintage and adorbs!

In short, I’m grateful to my parents for deciding to leave Massachusetts. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be interning at Rhode Island Monthly this summer!!! That’s right, I will be an Editorial Intern at the premiere publication in Rhode Island! ☺

Moreover, wherever one door closes, another door opens to a new opportunity (or more). I’m one step closer to becoming a published journalist and poetry author. My professor said my voice is really strong and authentic. I was right when I said I had dreams too big for that small town in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts at large. Sure, Rhode Island is not that much bigger, but I’m following and achieving my dreams more than I ever thought possible.

This is me, and this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. (Yes, I just semi-quoted that song from Camp Rock).

Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management

Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management

Back by popular demand! Thanks to one of my good friends at RWU, I finally figured out what I wanted to write about after a month’s hiatus.

Where do I begin? Well, put simply, I’m on cloud 9! I finished my first semester at RWU with a 3.665 GPA (and made Dean’s List for the second time in my overall college career!), and I recently made some changes in my lifestyle. In my freshman year of college when I was writing for The Odyssey Online, I wrote an article about my struggles with body image in eighth grade and during my first couple of years of college. I didn’t like my puffy face in pictures anymore and I often found myself looking at old pictures of me in high school when I was in my prime fitness. I found myself body-shaming myself. That’s when I said, “enough is enough!” and started back at my local gym again, and even got myself a personal trainer. I’ve learned over time that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen. I began stocking up on fruits, vegetables, and protein shake mix. You know you’re getting old when you get excited about going grocery shopping! X-D

I’ve heard about this program for a while, and I recently decided to give it a try. It’s called 1st Phorm where you get to sign up and get free access to workouts, diet plans, etc. In my two weeks of utilizing the program, I’ve been feeling (and looking) leaner, and more confident. *Insert Demi Lovato’s song here.*

When I look back on my high school track & field/cross country days, I made the connection that working out also helps me concentrate on my school work. When I first came to RWU, I wasn’t working out and I was eating pizza and diet coke every day… NOT GOOD!!! Plus, I was busy with tutoring and editing, but that’s still no excuse! We all come up with excuses for not paying attention to our well-being. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things in life. That means fueling your body with proper nutrients and getting enough physical activity, no matter what it is. As Elle Woods said, “exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!” I also took a couple of pages out of a People magazine about women who, literally, lost half their weight. One woman said that she is teaching her kids that food is meant to be a source of fuel and not a means of happiness. But, of course, food can make you happy, especially when you’re hangry. So, don’t punish yourself when you slip in a cookie, or something — OWN IT! Everybody deserves a break, right?

Another thing I really got into during my time at RWU was fashion. As some of you know, I was recently appointed Style Guru for College Fashionista! So, if you’ve seen me hashtagging #stylegurulove and #gettingsomewhere, they’re affiliated with that platform. I’ve gotten excellent tips on acing an interview, and of course, fashion advice. I am sort of correlating my new ~healthy lifestyle~ with fashion.

As seen on (both) my Instagram(s):

 

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret; I’m always in for a good bargain. So, I occasionally buy my leggings/tops at WalMart, and recently (as in an hour ago) Fabletics. Both places/brands have really cute stuff! My blue leggings even have pockets 😮 Another site I discovered is RainbowShops.com (their leggings are less than $10!). As you can tell, I’m addicted to leggings!

In terms of time management, I’ve learned to really “schedule out my schedule” and prioritize my health and my school work at the same time. I don’t have my own car, and I have late classes Mondays and Wednesdays, so I use the time in between getting my ride home and in between my earlier classes to do homework, tutor, and workout.

Here’s an example of what my schedule looks like:

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This will be a busy semester, for sure! But I’m determined to make Dean’s List for a third, fourth, fifth time and get leaner and stronger. *Insert muscle emoji here*

‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es)

‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es)

*NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT & RESPECT PEOPLE’S PRIVACY & IDENTITIES*

So, in case you were wondering where I’ve been for the past ten days and where I am right now, I’m currently in the process of treating my mental illnesses. Like any writer should (as stated above), I’m altering names of where I stayed and respecting other patients’ privacy and identities while telling my story at what I’ll call “Radley” (like in PLL, but much more comforting).

To start the story, I might as well mention that I was scared sh*tless. Naturally, I cried after my mom left. It was like the first-day kindergarten, but this time, I was going to be a resident at “Radley” Hospital, unable to see my family until 12:00 noon or 5:00 p.m. — both for 1.5-hour intervals, and I’d be staying overnight.

*DISCLAIMER: I checked in to get a diagnosis for an illness that was interfering with my everyday life and the overall quality of my life.*

All I had in my room to entertain myself were various poetry books, my trusty journal, and my poetry notebook (not that I’m complaining, lol). They had group activities for us to participate in, like games, how to stay healthy, crafts, and my two favorites: open discussion and meditation. I’ve taken to meditating every night since I’ve been there and since I’ve been at home.

There’s one piece of advice I’d give to my younger self, and that would be to say, “you’re not damaged, you’re on a journey.” My mom said this to me as I expressed my anxieties about my diagnoses, returning to social media after being off-the-grid for 5-10 days, and finding out who my next roommate was going to be. After stress-crying, I was shortly introduced to my new (Spanish-speaking) roommate. So I had one weight to take off my shoulders. Just like all of us, she just wanted to go home.

There are many things I learned while staying at “Radley;” one of them is that talking about what was going on with me does NOT make me sound crazy person. But after going to an open discussion, I’ve learned a few more things: 1) I chose to be there, to seek help, and to get better and 2) it’s perfectly okay to say “I’m anxious,” “I’m depressed,” etc. I have a new one to add:

“I have PTSD.” There. I said it.

Go ahead, judge. I know most people will. But in the end, I’m not going to let my mental illnesses define who I am. Correction: they don’t define who I am.

All in all, there’s no shame in getting the help you need. Before I came to Radley, I didn’t like the idea of being a “mental patient.” But really, I’m getting the help I need to move forward in life — the type of treatment I can’t get at home or at school. I felt resentment towards myself for feeling what I feel, and for putting my life on hold in order to be there.

My roommate kept telling me, “you’re so beautiful and you’re so young, you don’t need to be here.” What I have to say to that is that you don’t know what a person is going through. You don’t know a person’s story until you hear it firsthand. One thing I challenge you all to do something: (and I know, this is beyond cliché) but I challenge you all to not judge a book by it’s cover. Another thing, don’t assume people have some sort of disorder based on the way they act or the things they do.

And, in terms of treatment, you can’t just pray your illness away. Treatment and recovery are like a fine wine, they take time. In order to make something happen, you have to be the one to make it happen. I put myself, or my demons, rather, in Radley, and I need to dig myself out of this hole that I’m in — that I’ve been in, I should say. That’s why I keep saying, “there’s gotta be more to life,” because I’ve been stuck in a rut and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it. For the longest time, I’ve been ashamed of my depression because it prevented me from performing even the simplest tasks, like going to school, getting out of bed, concentrating, and just going out in general. What’s worse is that whenever something bad happens to me, I take it to my heart and let it stab me to let myself bleed. I once came to the conclusion that there’s no shame in being vulnerable. So again, I have no shame in my depression, but I’m so ashamed of how I would let the smallest thing cut me so deep. Even worse, I’m ashamed of letting unimportant things and/or people get to me. It’s like something I learned in my current outpatient program, “If you don’t know them personally, don’t take it personally.”

Looking at what I wrote in my journal, I’ve decided not to go into depth about what my mental illnesses have done to me while I was in the hospital or what affect they have in my daily life. But I will share a poem by my literary husband, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What Is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children; 

To earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child, a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed 

easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Kyoko Escamilla once said, “your twenties are your selfish years.” One of my fellow inpatients told me that I have to be “selfish” sometimes. Not in the sense that you only care about yourself, but doing the things that will benefit you and your well-being. Right now, what’s important to myself and my well-being is that I treat these new diagnoses and to continue living a normal life. But, let’s be real, is anyone really “normal?” The term is overused and might as well be nonexistent. It’s just one of those words you wish you could ban.

I’m just going to add a conversation I had with my dad:

DAD: “What happened to me seven years ago?”

ME: “You were diagnosed with cancer at a late stage.”

DAD: “And the people at Tufts told me there was nothing they could do, because it was so late. And what happened to me?

ME: You’re still here.

DAD: That’s right. I beat it. Never give up.

I preached this to my group discussion one night, and I can honestly say that I’m seeing the world in a whole new light — a way I’ve never seen the world before. It’s as though I became a completely different person with an actually positive attitude instead of seeing things through “depression lenses.” For a long time, I thought to myself, “If I am giving, I’m giving up.” But not anymore. That group’s discussion was called “getting out of your own way.” I’m not going to get in the way of myself, anymore, nor am I going to let my anxiety, depression, and/or my PTSD get in the way of me living my life. Again, you have to be selfish at times and put yourself, especially your health, first. Just like my dad took all the necessary steps to beat cancer, I’m taking the necessary steps to create a new life for myself, like exercising more, eating healthier, reading more, and being on social media less. In fact, I’m giving up social media for 30+ days and giving myself a good cleanse.

So yeah. There’s my story about being an inpatient at a mental hospital. Now I’m just going to leave this here: My Fight Song “because I still got a lot of fight left in me.”☺☺☺

Keep fighting.

xoxoxo April ♥