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 💕✌😘

 

 

 

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 ☻

 

FASHION AMBITION: School-y Style

Before I get into my FASHION AMBITION post, let me start out by saying that I am back on this blog and (feeling) better than ever. I don’t know why, but I started to feel like I was putting on this constant “persona” that ultimately controlled who I really am. But according to this blog post about what I went through around this time last year, I’m not going to let this define me, and I never will let it define me.

Also, I might as well announce that I am officially a Glambassador! This means I am (sort of) officially an influencer. This is a huge step for me and my blog, and I can’t thank you guys enough for the overwhelming amount of support, from the time I made this blog to now.

So without further ado, let’s get fashion-ambitious!

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So, I saw this really cute jumpsuit and I thought to myself, “ooh I gotta have it.” Jumpsuits are definitely in right now, and I’m jumping in full-swing on this trend. What I love about this jumpsuit is that it has this sort of gaucho-palazzo pant style to it. Stripes and other patterns are also in for the spring, along with colors such as this rose-gold, and other shades of pink. These neutral tones are also trendy this season. These can be paired with any military-style or leather jacket, like the one I’m wearing in this ensemble. If you haven’t already, check out my spring colors article from the Hawks’ Herald. 

I was going to wear my snakeskin boots with this outfit until I reminded myself that I’d be walking from one building to the next. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing heels on a college campus, I just thought I’d save my poor little feet from the pain and suffering. So, I decided to go with flat shoes that are, surprise surprise, rose-gold. For a more edgy, casual look, I decided to put my hair up in a high ponytail. High ponytails with a jumpsuit = tré chic.

At this time, I’d like to say I’m thankful to be happy and healthy and thankful to RWU for being a safe haven for me.

In Case You Lose Hope | Always Try to Help

October 10th was World Mental Health Day. So naturally, I posted a picture of myself from the month of March — the month of my mental breakdown. Just to debrief for those of you who haven’t seen it: I’ve been struggling with anxiety my whole life, was diagnosed with depression at 15, and was diagnosed with PTSD last spring.

I’m not here to “fish for compliments,” but rather to say that there’s no shame in being vulnerable. I’m not ashamed of telling my story because it’s a story of how I kept fighting. I knew going back to school was going to be difficult. I’m always tired, and sometimes I find it hard to keep going. But really, getting the education and experience that I have now is all I’ve ever dreamed of.

Now, I’m going to share with you another story that’s not mine, but a story that did give me hope. This is a story my dad’s oncologist shared with me. This is one of the top oncologists in Massachusetts, if not the nation, and she took time out her busy day with patients and a family of her own to write out this story in an email. It went a little something like this:

“After some prompting, your dad did share with me that you transfered to Roger Williams. I also ask about you and how you are doing at Saint A’s. I could tell he was concerned about something. As his doctor, I encouraged him to open up a little but so he did confide to me that you had gotten sick and were in the hospital. I was sorry to hear that for both of you. Any kind of illness is a difficult thing. Certainly your dad knows that first hand.

I relayed to him a story about one of my other patients and her daughter. I have known both of them for 20 years. The daughter was just a toddler when her mother got cancer. Mom is doing great. The daughter grew up to be a lovely young woman. She went to Wellesley College where she excelled. After graduation she got a great job in Boston and an apartment with her friends. Then everything fell apart for her. I can still remember the email I received from her mom, so worried about what was happening. We got her daughter in to a good medical-mental health care. With some time and and medication adjustment she got better. She just graduated from BU with a Master’s Degree and has a wonderful boyfriend.”

She told my dad this because when you are in the midst of something like this, it’s scary for everyone. Sometimes it feels eternal and hopeless as if it will never get better. But her job is to preach over and over to her patients to take things one day at a time. At times, it may seem like hard work, but you have to keep at it. The same thing is true for my Creative Writing studies, editing for the paper, and so much more. My dad’s doctor reminded me that I, too, have supportive parents as I’m making my way down recovery road.

Someday when I have a publishing career or writing/editing for Vanity Fair, I hope I can take the time to write to someone, or, even better, help someone when I can.

I guess I didn’t preach this when I talked about my hospital stay, but mental illness isn’t one of those things you can’t power through on your own.

Moral of the story: never be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and there’s always time to help someone else out.

Did you know my goal going into college was to become a doctor? Yeah, things change, and that’s a fact. But I still want to impact people with my writing (but that’s another blog post). ☺

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Why I’m Glad I Stayed In Rhode Island

“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

Carrie Bradshaw (the AnnaSophia Robb portrayal) says this after she decides not to go to Malibu with Sebastian. As I approach my 21st birthday, I’m starting to realize all that I’ve been through this past semester. Sure, it didn’t go as planned — nothing ever does! I’ve been places, I’ve seen/tried new things, met new people, and I’m transferring to a new college to pursue a degree in Creative Writing — all because I stayed in Rhode Island to fight for my life and for what I want. Rhode Island has become my adopted home, and I feel like I’ve been living here forever. And since living here, I’ve discovered the things that are worth standing up and fighting for.

I was originally going to write about how to achieve a healthier lifestyle, but I decided to save that for a Her Culture article. After finishing The Carrie Diaries on Netflix, I naturally sobbed… in the corner of a coffee shop lounge because I’m just sooo subtle, right? I started to think about my own future. My heart, right now, is settled in Rhode Island. I’m determined to make a name for myself instead of feeling like I have to be somebody else. As much as I love the city, I find more comfort by the water. But I’ll get to the city someday (but hopefully to New York or Boston for grad school).

This involved some bittersweet sacrifices. On Sunday, I said “that’s a wrap, SAC!” and proceeded to crying on the way home while listening to “I’ll always remember you,” “Wherever I go,” you know, those Hannah Montana songs that are bound to make you shed a tear or two (or a million). But, as a writer, I must say, when a chapter ends, you start another one because my story isn’t over yet, as said on my tattoo. This is when my mom would say, April, snap out of it, you’re going to see your friends over the summer. Well, some people are worth crying in the car for. ☺

I’m going to be 100% candid here, as always, and confess that I never thought I would make it to 21 years old. I first said this when I was 18 and at my lowest point. Well guess what? I’m turning 21 towards the end of the month, and my future is already looking up. I’ve had meetings with Creative Writing professors at my new college (whom are very accomplished, I still can’t get over the fact that I’ll be working with them for the next three years), and I’m in the process of applying to summer publishing internships. In fact, I’m being considered for a fall internship for a Providence-based magazine!

*At this time, I’d like to thank everyone who has been there for me this past semester, y’all know who you are ♥ *

‘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 ♥