Statistics

Everyone on my mom’s side suffers from depression. Some members on my dad’s side are alcoholics and suicidal.

Addiction is 50% genetic and 50% due to poor coping skills.

Depression is 40% genetic and 60% environmental.

Due to this, I am 90% screwed.

Mental health is something that has affected my life for years and will continue to.

When I was thirteen I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and OCD.

By fourteen I was engulfed in an eating disorder that controlled and altered my life. My eating disorder was a blend of all evils, a coping skill for all my problems.

I hated my body, felt out of control in many aspects of my life, experienced great anxiety around food, and believed people would love me if I was skinny.

Starving myself fixed my problems, or at least I thought it did. I lost weight rapidly. I felt in control when I refused to eat. I got hooked in my ways.

But like for all things, the high only lasted so long… Even after losing sixty pounds, being underweight, and having every rib and bone in my spine visible, I still looked in the mirror and thought I was fat. My anxiety began to get worse, the panic attacks were hourly occurrences, and my heart began to fail due to the lack of calories and nutrients. I felt out of control once again, so I restricted even more.

It was a vicious cycle, and it continued… leaving me falling deeper into darkness, insanity, and sadness.

By the summer of that same school year, I was in the hospital. My struggles with mental health were close to taking my life.

Years have gone by now, and much has changed.

I no longer cope with anxiety and depression by restricting my food intake, I no longer weigh 80 pounds. I’m back in school, back in sports, and am much more emotionally stable.

But some things haven’t.

I still have anxiety attacks weekly, I still hate my body and worry about weight, and I am still extremely insecure and it affects how I act (making me seem full of myself when in reality I just need someone to reassure me that I’m not absolute shit). And lastly, I still feel out of control around food. I am unable to stop myself around certain types of food and it scares me.  I feel like my previous ability to say no to food has disappeared, and it scares me. I feel like I have gone from starving my self to binging. It scares me a lot.

I need to find balance and balance is hard to find.

Due to statistics and my past, mental health is something I am going to have to deal with for the entirety of my life.

I don’t like this, but I can’t change this. So every day I strive to find healthy ways to cope with the way my brain thinks, the emotions I feel, and my general outlook on life because I believe, with effort and dedication,  everyone has the opportunity to be happy, no matter how hard it may be.

Photo via usablilygeek.com
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Can’t Forget About Jew

I have always considered myself a person of faith. I was lucky enough to be born a Sephardic Jew in one of the most welcoming periods in world history. Because of this, I never had to hide my beliefs, I had the opportunity to inform countless masses of friends what the laws of Kosher are, sharing stories about my main man Moses, and having a global network of strangers and friends alike that I could rely on, that I could confide in. But that’s not what I wanted to highlight today. Recently, I went to Yom Kippur services for the “Jewish New Year” where I fasted the whole day and prayed in repentance of the misdeeds committed by me and fellow Jews this last year. At the end of the second night, after nearly 30 hours without food, water, or bathing, as night falls, your fate for the next year is sealed, your past year is wiped clean and are given a chance to start anew. As I left services with my father, I felt invigorated, I felt fresh, I felt strong despite my thirst and hunger, and it was all due to this faith of mine. I realized I possessed a luxury that many of my friends grew up without and still live lacking. 
 
My faith has always been something I could rely on. From a young age, when I questioned something, I found my faith would always give me a confident answer, giving me a sense of closure, a peace-of-mind not afforded to my peers. When my friends grew to understand the finality of their mortality, when they struggled to find meaning in their lives, when they tossed and turned trying to comprehend our loneliness in our vast expanse of the universe, I had Judaism to fill the gaps in my young mind, sheltering me from the despair. Now I’m not saying it by any means encourages ignorance, some of the best Jewish scholars throughout history have integrated the scientific understand of our universe and Judaism because “[Both] were understood to be two different manifestations of the same divine truth.” (MJL, 2007) I was always encouraged by numerous Rabbi and teachers from my Jewish primary school to find my own truths, but if I couldn’t find a why for any of these, an explanation for my truths, Judaism would always be there to support my conclusions, to give me confidence about my role in our universe, no matter how small. I can go to sleep every night knowing if I were to not wake up in the morning, it would be because I have served my purpose and my job is completed, for this I am incredibly grateful.  
Photo Credit: Kenzie Bruce, The Denver Post
Mjl. “Judaism & Science in History.” My Jewish Learning, My Jewish Learning, 4 Feb. 2007, www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-science-in-history/.

reflections above the water

the pool, hot on a september slab of concrete. a speaker singing a distinctly weekend song, listing back towards the heat of summer struggling against the onset of school. but we just repeatedly submerged ourselves and lie on hot things in the sun roasting to save a bit of heat, sort of fattening up for the winter. Peter was ripped of course, how could he not have a six pack at 16, he’s just that kinda guy. strong silent type, super cool, badass; also relentlessly nerdy, shy as can be, and definitely one of the guys you have to know well to know at all. he’s perched like a lizard on the high dive rolling over to toast each side, occasionally and jarringly rolling off the diving board upsetting the water 10 feet below and the less fit, less shy, me on the low dive (because heights aren’t my thing.) 

you feel like the sun is shining through you when you lay on a black diving board like that, the surface burns your skin and the sun does its worst on the other side, you lie there. the closest we will ever feel to a cold blooded animal, or a zucchini in the midst of the broiling of a lifetime. we just lie there thinking that maybe if we didn’t move time might pass us by and leave us happily stranded in constant farewell to the pregnant bliss of the weekend. and teal, blues in abundance like a brochure to mykonos, both the sky and the water both are cloudless and still moving.

in those peaceful hours i saw fleetingly like a stag in your peripheral, the adolescence people tell you to hold onto. we did. we savored it. an experience we never talked about partly because it might seem gay and partly because what would we say. in a way it was my connection to the schoolboys i see in black and white, with my white gloves flipping through ancient yearbooks. content to lie on a hot rock by the creek with a friend you have been through hell and back with. i saw a glimpse in that moment, a glimpse of the school we would’ve attended had we been born in 1900.

Peter never chose me. he was content with the friends he had, i wasn’t cool, and i idolized him. terrible way to make a friend. but i just kinda showed up, next door, and i would just come and sit with him, uncomfortable as all hell at first, but within days we became happy to distract one another and would spend study hall sneaking back and forth between our rooms talking about rock climbing season and expensive climbing shoes. like two freshman boys did in a hundred years prior, one running into the others room discussing the intricacies of a new radio. wasting a two hour study period and leaving homework for 5 am the next morning before we went to muck their horses. and tomorrow we’d plan to sleep through study hall as a result of our long day but instead chose to scour ebay for deals on aforementioned climbing shoes.

 we weren’t fast friends, but when we needed to study we could sit in silence and study and that was comfortable. also wasting our time nerding out over lame climbing equipment, but both were necessary evils and a part of our lives. for me silence was always the enemy of friendship because good friends always had something to talk or argue about. but Peter liked to listen, to say nothing, to test if it would be awkward, sometimes it was, most of the time it wasn’t. but now when i see him once a month silence is my enemy again. i want him to tell me everything, tell me the gossip, what’s happened since i left, who’s with who, who hates who, funny stories. and Peter just wants to be with his friend and sit and eat obscene quantities of brie and just exist and pretend nothing happened.

from yours truly

Lately, I find myself complaining quite frequently. Whether it is about people or the clothes I am wearing, I find something to dislike about the situations I put myself in. But really, I am thankful for everything that this world has given me.

I am grateful for water. The water that cleans my soul of the dirt from my day. The water that keeps my skin glowing and my body fueled.

I am blessed for the music that you have gifted me. The music that brings my spirits up and gives me new ideas. The music that bonds my family together as we sit in the living room and discuss.

I am thankful to have travelled across the nation.

I am grateful for the friends that support me through thick and thin. Who fill me with laughter and joy.

I am thankful for my teachers who are guiding me through my adolescence, making sure I don’t screw up.

I am blessed to have been raised in California with the sandy beaches and the warm weather.

I am thankful for the food that represents my culture like the salty Filipino food that my grandmother would make me.

I am blessed for my rights in this nation as I am able to speak my mind and express my feelings whenever.

I express my gratitude to the land, the elements, and the people that surround me.

Thank you world.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

The Coffee Dilemma

Many people prefer beginning their day with a cup of coffee. One of the most famous coffee shops in the world would be Starbucks. To some people, nothing really compares with fueling themselves with warmth and energy with a tasty drink. However, it’s proven that coffee causes cancer. 

I went to a Starbucks shop last week and discovered a notice sign that put me in shock. The notice sign’s title was “Proposition 65 Warning” and it indicates the existence of acrylamide in coffee, baked goods and other products of Starbucks. 

Acrylamide is an organic compound that’s often found in food where sugar or amino acid is present. The American Cancer Society have stated that acrylamide is likely to be a carcinogen—a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue. Although it is also mentioned that dietary acrylamide is unlikely to induce cancer, the fact that it has the potential to be a carcinogen panics many. Starbucks claim that their products are without acrylamide at first, whereas it’s the process of baking them that leads to its existence. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t risk my health for coffee.

It is indeed a dilemma, that coffee-drinkers should either forgo the beverage they enjoy for health or drink for pleasure. Whilst we should indulge in the joy of consuming coffee sometimes (which is the drink some of us need to survive), our health weighs much more. So, it is necessary for us to find a balance in what we put in our bodies. The coffee dilemma isn’t much of a dilemma when you side with health.

Photo credit: dailycoffeenews.com

Fine Line

Kindness is a virtue, but some people use it as a weakness.

I try to be kind to people.

Sometimes I stay up late doing work for others so then they’ll be happy.

Sometimes I do things for people that will get me in trouble, but I do it anyway because they asked me to and I don’t want to say no.

Sometimes I don’t say what I feel when I really should because I want to focus on them. People like talking about themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, being and kind and helping people is something I love. But sometimes people abuse it; I don’t know how to say no. It leaves me broke, busy, and feeling used.

Hey can you drive me to Ventura? sure

Could you run to Von’s and grab me some chips? sure

I’m not allowed to have him in my room if it’s just us two, want to come over and hang with us? sure

Could you grab me some water? sure

Could I borrow your shirt? I “swear” I’ll give it back. sure

Hey could you send me the Physics? sure

I like helping people a lot. But there’s a balance. I can usually tell when I’m being used, when someone is kind to me because they want me to help them with their homework or give them rides places. But I usually let that slide; I like it when people are nice to me, it feels nice to think someone cares. But I’m starting to draw a line, if you are going to be mean to me, don’t expect me do your shit. I don’t like being used and most definitely not abused.

If you abuse me, no way you’re using me anymore.

Think before you yell at me and accuse me of things, because I have to draw the line somewhere, so have fun doing things for yourself.

Kindness is not my weakness.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The Smiling Effect

How can someone stay happy all the time? Physiologically, it’s due to chemicals like dopamine. They get released and you feel great. A single smile can lift your mood, some might say. I too agree with the “smiling effect.”

However, I am moody in many scenarios. In those situations, I find it hard to smile—I can’t smile when people let me down. When someone has messed something up for you and you’re in a position with the power to either forgive that person or not because of the gravity of the situation, you won’t find yourself smiling. 

Okay, you might be wondering why I’m explaining where your negativity comes from. But sometimes, you’ll have to lower your expectations in people in order to be happy. Once I asked a friend of mine about why he felt depressed, he told me it was because the people around him were all letting him down. 

When he said that, he wasn’t smiling. His expectations in others were too high to achieve. If anything went wrong, he felt let down. Oftentimes he was in the shoes of either forgiving someone or not. That someone would apologize to him because of the stiffness of his face—that he wasn’t smiling. 

However heavy the gravity of the messy-situation, the position to choose either going against our own impulses to forgive or indulging them by attacking that someone can be even heavier. With all that weight on his shoulders, my friend couldn’t smile. So we need to lower our expectations in people to feel happy, it’s not the end of the world. Say if your friend has forgotten to return your text messages and you feel undeserving for it, you should lower your expectations, smile and think that he/she might just be in the middle of something—and in most cases, that is the reason why they’re not replying. No one is failing you because they want to, and they’re not really failing you, because in my opinion, standards that are too high can bring nothing but frustration. 

So, how can we feel happy and deserving? When lowering your expectations for happiness seems to be too much to ask, start by giving your friend a smile.

Photo credit: sites.psu.edu