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Health & Wellness

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A Healthier, Happier Lifestyle [Morning Musings]

Morning Musings

The past few weeks I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the semester before it comes to a close. Although I always try to do my best and live my best life, there is always room for improvement, so today I’m sharing a list of all of my thoughts in order to have a better semester.

I will spend less time on the computer. In today’s age, so much of our homework is online and on top of blogging, I spend a lot of time on the computer.  This time is necessary, but a lot of the time I spend scrolling through social media, procrastinating and waiting for inspiration, which makes me want to just turn off my computer. So in order to improve productivity, when I’m not doing homework or writing, I will shut of my computer.

I will get back to working out. Last semester, I worked out almost everyday. This semester, I haven’t even stepped foot in a gym. I am attributing most of this to the fact that I had a gym in the basement of my gym freshman year, and now I’m a long walk from the gym. In all reality, however, the fresh air and work out would help with stress and happiness.

I will pay attention in class. Although at the time, it may seem like a better use of my time to fit in an extra 50 minutes of blogging or replying to emails, in the long run, it isn’t beneficial. If I am going to take the time to go to class, I should be paying attention. It also helps to prevent cramming before an exam.

I will remember what I’m thankful for each day. This may be the most important part to a healthy lifestyle, knowing how fortunate you are even on your worst days. God has blessed us with our lives, and he gives us the bad so that we can appreciate the good. I am thankful for so much in this life. My opportunities, the people I’m surrounded by… On top of this, so many special, little things get overlooked on a day-by-day basis. Leah over at My Favorite Adventure has inspired me with her Giving Thanks series to write down what I’m thankful for everyday in order to always remember.

What do you want to do to improve your lifestyle?–Don’t forget to get your ad on my sidebar with Ali in Bloom’s new sponsorship program & sign up to receive Ali in Bloom posts in your mailbox once a month (sign up on your right)!

What OCD Really Stands For

This post has been in the making for a long time. Ever since 5 Days on the Pill: My Nightmare, I have felt empowered and encouraged to share more personal aspects of my life and more serious topics on my blog. I’m so thankful to all of the people that supported me and read my article from May. Your support helped me so much.

As a child, I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety; I began taking medication and attending weekly therapy sessions. This lasted for years as I was too young to cope with this psychological disorder on my own, but as I gained years and coping abilities, I was slowly weaned off of my medication, and I stopped therapy. I was fine for a very long time. I functioned normally, and I went about my childhood.

The summer before my freshman year of high school, my mom started noticing peculiar habits… well just one to be exact: I spent an overwhelming amount of time washing my hands. I thought it was weird for her to question such a thing… “Well I guess I have been, but I only wash them when my hands are dirty”, was the only thing I could say to try and justify my behavior.

When my hands became bloody and dried, my mom reached her breaking point, and she took me to a psychiatrist. I still don’t really know if she knew what was going on with me. If she suspected Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

The day of my appointment, I was sat down on a couch, facing an average looking man presumably in his late 30s/ early 40s. He had his broad leg crossed atop his other and a clipboard resting in his lap. My mom sat beside me. He asked me questions about everything and anything… things that didn’t even seem relevant at times. At one point he asked me if I saw things that weren’t really there, and I began to wonder if he suspected I was crazy. I was offended. Then there were questions about the hand washing. Rails. Cleanliness. My past with anxiety.

My disorder enveloped me. I was counting everything. 4s. Everything had to be done four times- pumps of the soap, number of times I washed my hands. There were cracks in our wood flooring that could not be stepped on otherwise bad things would happen. I had to erase previously written words just because they didn’t feel right. I retraced my steps. Even my thoughts were beginning to repeat themselves.

At times this was too overbearing to handle. I would lie in bed and close my eyes to avoid anything that would trigger obsessive thoughts. I had lost my ability to keep up a facade completely. Secretly, my parents watched me. My dad still remembers the days I would get up from the couch, have to touch the leg with my foot, and come back around full circle to stealthily repeat this action, but in reality, there was no stealth behind it. Full of concern, he called another doctor, but we knew everything there was to know. I was lucky that I could still function semi-normally. Tasks just took a little longer. Some people didn’t have that ability.

Over time, somehow OCD has been downplayed. Maybe as a result of self-diagnosed, anal people or the result of inaccurate portrayals on TV shows and movies, but most people don’t seem to understand the true severity of this disorder. Some fail to even comprehend its status as a disorder at all. It’s a shame, really, for all of the true suffers to have to standby and listen to people joke about their struggles with such ease.

I’m lucky that I’ve had the ability to subdue my disorder with the help of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive- Compulsive Behavior and my own found willpower, but no one can truly understand the difficulty of fighting your own mind and changing your own brain chemistry until you have to do it yourself. Your brain is supposed to be one of the main parts of your identity; your thoughts are what define you, so what happens when your thoughts aren’t your own?

I just want to support everyone that is going through this right now, reading this article or anyone that ever has gone through it. It took me countless months of bloody hands and breakdowns to get through this, but what matters is that I got there… and I did it free of therapy or medication. And for those of you that are reading this that don’t have OCD, pause for a moment before you make the next joke or stick up for the person next to you that is too afraid to say anything…

I’m here for anyone and everyone that needs moral support or a few words of wisdom.
Love always,
Ali

Self Love: A reminder to always love your body and yourself

Epiphanies are often great things. I bet some of the world’s best inventions were made by epiphanies. I had one today; maybe not seemingly as great as the invention kind, but for me – life changing. In the past I have been a girl of many weights. I started off like most healthy, active kids of my generation, at a healthy weight, but medications and hormones had me at my top weight of almost 140lbs during the 8th grade. I kept most of this weight throughout the early years of my high school career until I finally started shedding pounds my junior year.

By senior year I was at the lowest I had been in a long time at 112lbs. This only lasted for about a year, however, when post high school activities caught up with me. By mid-freshman year of college I was back at 132lbs. I looked in the mirror and I wondered how I could gain so much in such a seemingly small amount of time. I longed for the body I once had, but more than that, I scolded myself… maybe a little for gaining the weight, but what really bothered me was that at a mere 112lbs., I didn’t think I was skinny enough. I would look in the mirror and not appreciate the body that I had. I scold myself for not appreciating what I had. For not loving my body or priding myself in it as I should have. At 132lbs I had wished that I could remember what my body looked like then. I remember thinking to myself that if I could have that body back, I would appreciate it now.

Second semester of my freshman year I worked hard and although it might not be much in some people’s eyes, it means a lot to me. I have lost 8lbs and am down to 124lbs. Even at this weight, I look at myself in the mirror and know that I want to lose more. 124lbs still isn’t enough for me… or so I thought, but for the first time today, I looked at myself in pictures, and I saw a beautiful girl, and I didn’t think she needed to lose weight.

Self Love
It all started as I was heading off to my PR internship this morning, where they have a loose dress code. No shorts and look nice. I was rushed, but I managed to pull together an outfit that I actually really liked. When I got home afterward, I looked in the mirror one more time, I touched up my makeup, and I decided that I loved the outfit so much that I wanted to share it with you guys.

I got out my camera, set it up, and took a few images. As I uploaded them onto my computer, I got a better look at them. Then I started to add them to the post editor and looked at them even more closely. I almost didn’t recognize myself. I started to wonder if over the years, my weight had fluctuated so much that I never really was able to get a good look at myself.

Sure, the stomach under my shirt might not be completely flat or hard as a rock, but I looked healthy. I was proud to call my body my own. I will continue to workout and have goals. I want to get toned, but if I stay 124lbs for the rest of my life, I could be happy, because for once, I feel like I am seeing an accurate picture of myself, free from any harsh self-judgement and criticism. I need to love my body to feel good about my body to want to treat it better. Today and hopefully every day forward, I pledge to love my body, love my mind, and love myself. Today I pledge to feel beautiful.

Self Love

5 Days on the Pill: My Nightmare

birth control pill side effects

I know that this really goes against my normal content, and stereotypically, I should be typing away about finals or the end of the school year, but I just thought this story was more important and one worth sharing. I wish someone would have told me their story earlier. Sunday, April 13th, I took my first birth control pill. I had previously gone to my “lady doctor”, had a routine checkup, and been prescribed the pill after being assured that this was the most common and easiest method of birth control, so I never even thought to ask questions about it. It was supposed to be easy. The perfect solution, but it wasn’t.

April 15th, just two days after starting the pill, I had my first major breakdown. I had a statistics test that night at 7 pm, and I was stressed to the max, but why? I had received A’s on the past two, and I hadn’t changed my study pattern or attendance rate. Nonetheless, my mood plummeted; my boyfriend (all too knowing) asked about my mood change. “I’m not okay”, I texted back through my jerking sobs. My mood had taken on something new, and it was far more than just the typical college stress. Tyler called me then, having skipped his next class to talk, but I couldn’t say anything reasonable. I think it went something along the lines of: “I don’t know anything. This practice test looks nothing like what we learned. I don’t know anything. I’m going to fail. I’m just so stressed out. I can’t do this. I can’t do this” (mumbled together through sniffles and tears and almost too fast to comprehend, of course), and he sat there, listening to me, somehow not coming to the conclusion that I was a crazy person but blaming it on the stresses of the week. I hung up and let him eat his McDonalds.

For the next few day, I continued to complain about not being able to eat due to nausea. I mentioned several times during Skype conversations with the aforementioned boyfriend that I was dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. It still didn’t occur to me what was going on though. Looking back, I wonder how I had been so dense.

April 18th, 5 short days after taking my first pill, the whole situation blew up in my face. I woke up early before class (which I normally do) in order to finish a paper due later that day. It wasn’t something to stress over. I was almost done; I had less than half a page left to type, but I couldn’t do it. I could barely get out of bed. Something must have clicked in my mind then as I lay there hopeless and unmotivated, and after I managed to take a shower, I dug through my baskets for the birth control warning/instruction sheet. There were all of my symptoms listed out in front of me: depression, nausea, and dizziness. I called my mom immediately, not sure where else to turn. I was already crying before she even answered the phone. I don’t think I had ever cried so much in my life? I have always been an emotional person, meaning I emphasize with other people’s emotions greatly and easily, but I was never emotional about nothing at all. “Mom, I think I’m having side effect from my birth control. I just don’t feel like myself,” I explained, trying to down-play the situation. My mom supported me the best she could in the middle of a busy work day. She encouraged me to stop despite the fact that she was the one who encouraged me to start and regardless of my pleas that I could get through this and that it would get better. I still couldn’t help but feel that she didn’t understand the severity of what I was feeling.

I sat down at my desk in an attempt to try and work on my paper with a now closely approaching deadline. I sobbed quietly, fully aware of my sleeping roommate. In that moment and all of the moments since I started this pill (but especially in that moment), I WAS NOT myself. I was helpless. Lost. Severely depressed and sad. I typed nothing. Instead, my heartbeat quickened and my body temperature spiked. I was having what I now have recognized as a panic attack, because I was afraid terrified of myself and how I would make it through the next fifteen minutes let alone the next day. My thoughts were so heavy and dark that I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. I stood up, paced the room, trying to find a way out of my own mind. This was it, I thought. I have lost it. “Someone please come and sedate me”, I thought, “Someone get me out of here”. I was trapped in my possessed body with nowhere to run. I was afraid of my own actions.

Through a series of desperate phone calls and trips to the doctor’s office, I made it through that day. I never took another birth control pill after that, and I have returned to my normal, cheery, optimistic self.

I started doing research, and I was amazed at the number of women that had had experiences just like mine… if not worse. Blog posts like Jessie’s My Birth Control Gave Me a Mental Breakdown shocked me. Comments and health forums were overwhelmed with concerned and confused women. I wasn’t alone. I could’t help but wonder, however, why hadn’t I heard these stories before? Sure, there were side effect warnings on the instructions, but I had never had problems with side effects before. There was a 1/10,000 chance I would get them, right? That was my mentality, at least… I never in my whole life imagined that I would be complaining about every single one listed on the packaging.

For me, this experience was horrifying, and it will greatly change the way I approach medications and the idea of putting foreign substances into my body in the future. I am not, however, trying to discourage anyone from trying birth control pills. There are college girls and others around me everywhere that take it and rave about the convenience and  ease of use. It just isn’t meant for everyone. As for me, I will be trying another brand soon enough after giving my body a short break. A large part of this process is trial and error. Just a warning to all: know your body, know your mind, and don’t settle for anything short of happiness.