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Bystander

My goal is to start writing and checking in once a week at the very least. I miss the days of being able to post every evening, but life has gotten much busier than it was back in March! Grad school is still going well, almost done with my second class and first semester! Can't believe I am getting ready to enter my second semester of grad school already! It is flying by! Summer sessions are at warped speed, but all my classmates keep telling me that Fall and Spring semesters are so much more relaxed and slower. I am looking forward to that! I am lucky to get one day a week that I am not spending 2-6 hours working on school work. But, I love it. I love it so much. UT has always been my dream school and it has NOT disappointed. Even through the distance education track, I am making friends, building relationships, and learning so much! Being a Tennessee Volunteer feels oh so good.


School has been the only normal thing in my life that last two months. Outside of school it has been an uphill battle with depression and anxiety. Being at home for five months has really made an impact on my mental health. One I didn't really start to notice until the last few weeks. In the beginning I was doing well with keeping a schedule. I still got up in the morning during the work week, kept myself busy with work, house chores that had been put off when "I didn't have time", and read for leisure. All of my days were planned out and structured. But when restrictions began to loosen up in my state and people started feeling more comfortable to get together in small groups, that's when I started to notice the impact the pandemic has played on my anxiety. The plans to leave the house for social events, even the smallest plans with my family, would send me into an anxiety attack. My heart would race, I had an overwhelming sense of fear to leave my house. I wasn't afraid of getting sick, I was more afraid of being away from my home. Away from the place that has kept me safe for months. The place where nothing bad happened. Almost like this mild agoraphobia.


My depression has been fairly constant throughout this entire time. In the beginning I kept it in check with the structuring of my days, keeping myself busy with things, getting out to take walks or go on a run. I even met with my nurse practitioner at one point to increase the dose of my antidepressant. All things that helped at the time but recently haven't been enough. The depression is stronger. I make a plan of what I am going to do the next day and then I am too tired, too sad, too numb to see it through. I struggle to make it four hours without taking a nap. I haven't been running or exercising because it has either been way too hot, my intentions were not in the right and healthy place, or my body was telling me no by having a headache or a back ache because I am long overdue to see the chiropractor. As you can imagine, not exercising only fuels ED's fire to remind me that my appearance and body are not up to par. I have continued to take my medicine at the increased dose, though I haven't felt like it is doing much. If it is, I would sure hate to see how I would feel without it right now.


I've heard that when you are feeling depressed that the best thing to do is the opposite of what you "want" to do. For example, if you want to stay home and be alone, which is what I typically prefer, then you need to fight it by getting out of the house and being around people. Sounds simple enough...that is until you factor in the social anxiety you get around other people. If you aren't my blood relative, chances are EXTREMELY high that I am experiencing social anxiety around you. This happens even around some of my closest friends that I know understand my struggles and love me regardless. If the conversation stalls or if it is getting late in the evening/night, then I am in full panic mode on the inside.


It is just a frustrating, exhausting cycle: anxiety, depression, eating disorder, social anxiety. They are like four people caught in a toxic relationship working with and against one another all at the same time. In the end no one wins.


Lately the four amigos have been plotting together to convince me that I am not good enough, that my life is a waste of time, space, and energy. ED tells me that I am not pretty enough because my makeup doesn't turn out like the makeup tutorials I watch. Don't you dare think you are pretty enough to go without makeup! And there's the tale as old as time with ED, I am not thin or fit enough. Then there is the anxiety spending every minute of class time pointing out how smart my classmates are and how they make connections and deep revelations about the readings that I can barely comprehend, therefore I must be dumb and in the complete wrong place. Social anxiety pops up when I am TRYING to be human and spend time with friends. If I am around friends that are letting their hair down and enjoying some drinks and I am the only one not on their level, social anxiety will step in to explain the situation as a fault of my own. I am not fun. I am not carefree. I am a stick in the mud. No one wants to be around me because I'm stuck up and not fun. If it isn't a scenario where alcohol is involved, well then it is still a fact that I am not fun enough because fun people know how to keep conversations alive and people laughing and having a good time. Then it is time for depression to add to the evidence file of reasons why Kristin isn't good enough. While depression agrees with the evidence presented by anxiety, ED, and social anxiety, depression adds that Kristin is also not mature or successful. Through careful observation of the lives of her friends and other people her age, she is not married, pregnant or have children already, and doesn't hold a job that brings in 6 figures. She isn't taking exotic vacations multiple times in one year, and she isn't hosting parties in a large house with an open floor plan and beautiful white kitchen with marble countertops.


Very nit-picky, right? And people wonder why I am so damn tired all the time.


It is so easy to get lost in all the negative thoughts and buy into the "proof." When I get overwhelmed with my mental health I retreat inward. I push away the people in my life that I know can pull me out of my head and back into reality. I run toward the very thing that is out to ruin my spirit- my own mind. Lately it feels like I am a bystander watching my own life play out without my soul being present. My feet are stuck in one place as I watch those around me take off and go from life milestone to life milestone, leaving me behind in the dust.


This morning that feeling of being stuck and useless was so overwhelming. I was having a conversation with my mom and I told her how I was feeling. She reminded me that there is no timeline in life that we as humans are required to follow. Success and life worth is not measured on a standard timeline. Just because I am not a wife or mother does not mean my life is meaningless. I am accomplishing things that others that I am comparing myself to are not. My mom is good at reminding me of things that are right in my face but my ED, depression, or anxiety make me blind to. My successes being one of the main ones because I too often believe in the inner dialogue that I am a loser failing at the game of life. She reminded me that I am successfully earning my Master's degree from my dream university and I am doing it all on my own. I am sharing my story through my blog and making an impact on other people's lives that read it and can relate to my story. I created a women's empowerment group on Facebook that has grown to over 550 women that regularly share encouraging and supportive content. My job may not bring in the money needed to take trips to tropic islands, but it does pay the bills and still leave me with some to do things that make me happy. She reminded me that there will always be time in my future to be a wife and mother, but this is my time to chase my dreams and turn them into reality and I am succeeding at that.


I have said it before on here and I have said it multiple times to friends. I am repeating it again, but this time for myself. Your journey in life is your own. No one else has walked my path and fought my battles. You cannot compare paths in life. It is like comparing apples to oranges. For every one thing that you see in someone else's life that you wish you had, there is something in your life that they wish they had too. Walk your path, live your truth, and chase your dreams on your schedule.


<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful

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