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I don’t even know how to start this blog post. It’s been so long, and my blogging muscles have lost their strength. The words used to flow through me at an unbearably fast rate, that I had no other choice but to type it out. To express myself. To share with the world my own inner monologues.

But the past 6 months have turned out to be quite the opposite. I’ve turned inward due to my own internal battles, and I’ve lost the drive to move through my pain with writing. Perhaps that’s part of the reason this healing process has been so damn difficult. I’m my own worst enemy.

I don’t want to go into too many details, partly because I don’t even know where to start. The important notion I want to get across is that I indeed struggle with intense anxiety and depression, and I’m writing so candidly about this right now because I think this is an important story to tell.

Throughout college I’ve had difficult months and moments, but never with as much force as I’ve experienced this summer. For weeks I was spending every moment with either my partner or my family, far too scared to be alone. It was difficult for me to be around friends because I was far too ashamed to be as honest with my pain as I needed to be. I had this desperate need to isolate myself from my community, yet every time I did, it worsened my anxiety attacks and depressive episodes.

I was sucking the life out of important relationships in my life because of how incredibly needy and lost I had become. It felt like every morning when I’d wake up and step out of my bed, my legs would go weak and I’d have to require someone else to hold my body and head up all day just to get through. My dependence for others was entirely unsustainable and insufficient because even in a room full of people I loved and who loved me in return, I had this heavy depression that pulled me down with what felt like the weight of the world. I constantly avoided eye contact with strangers, feeling entirely incapable of making any form of small talk.

The anxiety attacks occurred multiple times a day. I would vomit nearly every time, and was barely able to keep any food down. I lost 15 pounds. It took so much energy out of me to even get up and shower. I stopped showing up to work. I became a shadow of the person I thought I was.

I was in constant contact with my doctor, unsure of whether or not to go on medication or to check myself into an out patient mental health program. We were at a loss for what to do. It came to a head one day when I decided that I could not live like this any longer. I made an emergency appointment with my doctor, and she prescribed me anti-depression medication. It took a lot for me to get to that point. For so long, I was deathly afraid of taking medication. I didn’t want to become dependent. I didn’t want it to change my personality. I convinced myself every morning that I could get through this without it.

I took the medication immediately and felt a wave of relief wash over me. Then the terror kicked in. For people under the age of 25, there’s a higher chance anti-depression medication will actually worsen symptoms. Sometimes people even become suicidal and far more depressed than when they had been medication-free. I was terrified to start this process, but I didn’t know where else to turn.

That first night on medication I barely slept. My thoughts turned far darker than before, and I was restless and uncomfortable for hours. At around 4 am, I heard this voice in my head. It was my own. Do not take this medication. This is not right for you. There’s another way.

The next morning I woke up next to my mother, just like I had for weeks, and told her I couldn’t go through with it. I couldn’t continue with the anti-depression medication because I just had this gut feeling it was not the right fit for me. She trusted my instinct, and I called my doctor.

Now don’t get me wrong… Medication can save lives, and it is the best option for so many people in this world. I do not shame anyone who uses anti-depressants by any means. I just knew that it was not the right path for me.

From then on, I decided to just take it step by step. Moment by moment. Day by day. I started meditating again. Praying. Attending Kundalini yoga & deep gong meditation classes. I reached out to a practitioner, started reading spiritual texts, and did everything I could to stay in the moment.

It’s been some time since then, and I am happy to say that I can be alone once again. I’m alone right now, sitting in my new apartment as I write this blog post. I still feel uneasy, and the anxiety comes and goes. I get in my head and worry if I’ll ever feel happiness again. I feel aches and pains in my body and immediately jump to the conclusion that I have some health crisis looming over me. I’m still struggling.

 But I feel more at peace than I did a month ago. I feel like I have tools and resources to reach out to. I feel like I can get past this. I also have this deep sense that what I’m learning right now in my life is leading me exactly where I’m meant to go. I’m doing all I can to tap into that Trust every day.

For anyone reading this who can share in my experience, please know this: You are not alone. You have survived 100% of your worst days, and you will survive today. Keep moving forward… No matter how small the steps may seem. 

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Hello again! It’s been some time, hasn’t it? Over three months since I’ve written on my blog. Hi. Hey. Do you remember me? I’m back.

I don’t have a single reason why I’ve been absent from my online life. It’s not just my blog that has been bare, but my YouTube content has been next to nothing as well. Truth be told: I’m just really, really busy. I’m in my junior year of college, and if I thought life couldn’t get any crazier last year… Well, this year has given me a run for my money. I also haven’t been making time for blogging the way I used to. I tend to write and create when I’m heavily contemplating something or someone, and lately I’ve just been so busy experiencing and living that I haven’t actually taken the time to reflect much at all.

I think that’s problematic. I don’t want to only make the time to stop and think when I’m forced to. I want to make it a habit regardless of where I’m at in life. But ’tis life. I’m imperfect. Oh well.

I guess let’s take this time to catch up then? And by catch up I mean let me type out my feelings and thoughts while you read them from the other side of a computer screen. I honestly wish I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with each and every one of you. I really do.

Instead of talking about all the shit that’s been keeping me from you all, I’d like to share some things I’m looking forward to:

THIS SUMMER. I seriously am craving some time off from school. I’m losing momentum and focus and passion.

HOPEFULLY GETTING AN INTERNSHIP FOR THE SUMMER. That’s still the works, but I’m hopeful.

HAVING TIME TO WRITE AND FILM AGAIN. I miss you all. A lot.

TAKING SOME VACATIONS. I’m going to Las Vegas, Pemberton Music Festival, Denver, and now Cape Town & Zimbabwe! Yes… That’s right! I won an all expenses paid trip to Africa just YESTERDAY during a raffle. My mind is still blown.

READING AND SLEEPING. Because I barely do either of those things anymore.

SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE I LOVE. Because I always am in need of a little TLC.

Let me know what YOU’RE looking forward to! Tweet me, message me, email me, slide into my DMs. What’s something exciting that’s around the bend? Even if life seems a bit drab right now, I promise you there’s always something on the horizon that’ll shake things up. There always is. 😉

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Welcome to yet another book haul!  This is my first book haul of 2016, and I have to say it’s a great one to start off the new year. In addition to the many pretty books I’ve collected since the holidays, I also have a giveaway this time around, as well as an exciting announcement! I will be on the BookTube + Blogging Panel for Emerald City Comic Con in April. The panel is taking place on April 9th from 1:45 – 2:45 pm, and I would love to meet some of you there! To learn more and buy your tickets to Seattle’s Comic Con, click here. In terms of the giveaway, all the information and rules are at the bottom of the post. xoxo.


Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

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Goodreads rating: 4.54 | Click here to buy Stars Above


Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton

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Goodreads rating: 4.46 | Click here to buy Humans of New York Stories


This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp *Giveaway*

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Goodreads rating: 3.69 | Click here to buy This Is Where It Ends


The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

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Goodreads rating: 4.37 | Click here to buy The Bronze Horseman


The Martian by Andy Weir

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Goodreads rating: 4.38 | Click here to buy The Martian


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Goodreads rating: 4.01 | Click here to buy Passenger


Milk & Honey, A Thousand Mornings, American Primitive, The Best American Poetry 2015

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Click here to buy The Best American Poetry 2015 | Click here to buy Milk & Honey | Click here to buy A Thousand Mornings | Click here to buy American Primitive


Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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Goodreads rating: 3.53 | Click here to buy Brooklyn


Just So Happens by Fumio Obata

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Goodreads rating: 3.65 | Click here to buy Just So Happens


The Sandman: Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

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Goodreads rating: 4.34 | Click here to buy The Sandman, Vol. 1


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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Goodreads rating: 4.53 | Click here to buy The Nightingale


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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Goodreads rating: 3.84 | Click here to buy The Curious Incident…


 

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Goodreads rating:  4.03| Click here to buy Tuesdays with Morrie


Giveaway Rules:

  1. First, you must be a subscriber to my YouTube channel.
  2. Secondly, you must follow me on Twitter & Instagram.
  3. Comment your Twitter & Instagram usernames on my February Book Haul + Giveaway video.
  4. You must be a U.S. resident.
  5. Complete all steps to participate in giveaway before February 12th, 2016 at midnight PST.

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I wonder what it’s like to be you. I wonder where your mind wanders when you drift off to sleep, and I wonder who you sleep next to. Who would you call in the case of an emergency? Or after a bad day? Or just to say hello?  There was a time when it would have been me.

I think often about that night on the pier. I wouldn’t let you take a photo of my face. You begged and begged, but I refused. “Only silhouettes,” I said. I didn’t want my insecurities peering back at you through an unforgiving photo. I didn’t want to look through images with you and feel embarrassed, insecure, nervous. I was unsure about you, a little shy. It was so unlike me to be so quiet and reserved, but somehow you brought that out in me that night on the pier. “Only silhouettes,” I repeated. And I turned my back on you and looked out at the water. Click.

 I wonder where you are sometimes, what you’re up to. I remember the days when I always knew. You were in the library, or at work, or in your apartment, or on your way to mine. When we weren’t side by side, I still knew how you were spending your time. Now I know next to nothing about you, or how you spend your days, or who you spend them next to. Remember when it used to be me?

Memories. They’re fickle things, you know? As each day passes they become dimmer and grayer and more difficult to recall. When I’m in those moments with someone I love, they’re full of color and life. But once they’re gone, now that you’re gone, they’re just words and faces and shapes blended together. Shapeless and lackluster, slowing slipping away.

I think often about that night in the yard out back. The music was blaring, I was crying, you were yelling. “Choose,” you said. “It’s either all of me or nothing at all.” I knew the ultimatum would come. But I didn’t quite believe it when it arrived right in front of me. Looking back, I think about how I should’ve chosen you. But for some reason, after all that time, I just couldn’t.

Time. It’s a funny thing, you know? Always moving forward, never looking back. It’s selfish, indeed, but also the most consistent and sure thing I’ve ever known. Time always puts one foot in front of the other. Time doesn’t stop and look back and remember.

I often think about that night in the kitchen. I often think about the night eating barbeque chicken wings. I often think about the paint streamed across your face. I often think about our nights on your couch. I often thing about the hike that started it all.

You brought your camera with you that time, too. You always brought your camera. “Only silhouettes,” I repeated. And I turned my back on you and looked out at Mt. Rainer. Click.

The view was beautiful. Absolutely breath-taking. But somehow, I just couldn’t keep myself from looking back at you.

*Note: this is a very rough draft of a lyric essay I wrote for my creative non-fiction class. 

harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-trailer-voldemort-attacks-hogwartsI’ve been carrying around a heavy heart today. A large lump has been stuck in my throat as I carry myself from one obligation, one class, one meeting to the next.

This morning I woke up to the news of Alan Rickman, beloved stage and movie actor, passing away from cancer at age 69. I know of Rickman most intimately from the Harry Potter movies. Surprise, surprise. He played the character Professor Severus Snape, and he ultimately shaped and performed one of the most unlikely heroes of modern book to movie adaptation. Not only would the movie franchise not be the same without Rickman’s portrayal, but the hearts and minds of so many young children who grew up reading and watching the movies would be subpar if he hadn’t inhabited the mind and body of Professor Snape. He brought to life one of the most complex, beautiful, and tragic characters in children literature. He will not be forgotten, and not only because his vocation was that of timeless art, but because of the kindness and compassion he gave to the many he encountered.

This blog post isn’t meant to be a tribute to Alan Rickman specifically, although I truly believe he deserves that and so much more. In reality, this post is what his passing has brought to light for me today: the uncertainty of life, as well as the certainty of an unavoidable death. Whether I meet death with cancer, as Alan Rickman did, or with tragic accident, or natural causes. Death for us all is the one truth we hold. Mortality is one thing we hold for certain. There are existential moments we all experience throughout life where we graze death, and come to the realization of our finiteness. But to live with that constant and consistent reminder would be an undoubtable cause for insanity. It’s brief moments that root us once again in our undeniable finitude.

I don’t know when my life will meet its end. To say that I have no fear surrounding that fact would be a lie. But quite honestly, I fear the loss of my loved ones far more than the loss of my own identity and personhood. Because that is a reality I would, and will, have to live through. What Professor Snape’s narrative brings to light is the courage and dignity we all can carry throughout this life, until we meet our death. What Alan Rickman’s passing reminds me is the choice we have to say yes to love and life in spite of our unavoidable demise.

I got a Harry Potter tattoo a few months ago, and people have asked me “Don’t you think you’ll regret having that when you’re 80?” My answer is consistently “No”, but I realize that my answer is actually much deeper than that. The world of Harry Potter gave me hope as a bullied child growing up, it gave me a world of magic when the realities of the harsh world started to set in on me, and it showed me the light of grace and forgiveness in spite of a world that can seem so dark.

When my grandchildren one day ask me about the 9 3/4 etched into my right forearm, they may ask the meaning and significance. They may ask “After all this time?”

And I will say, time and time again, “Always.”

R.I.P. Alan Rickman. February 21, 1946 – January 14, 2016.