Why I Bow My Head During Prayer

I struggled with my faith for 2 years before I became an atheist last November. And yet, despite not believing that anyone is listening, I still bow my head during prayer.

Before I explain why, let me just say that if you believe in God, that’s your decision. I’m not going to stop you or judge you. It’s not my place to tell you what to believe.

Which brings me to the why. I don’t bow my head because I believe someone is listening. I do it out of respect for those around me. I don’t want to be a distraction for anyone.

If you want to pray, pray. I’ll bow my head and let you do that if I’m there. But please, don’t get upset if I don’t join in. It’s not in my nature to pretend to be something I’m not.

The Crippling Reality of Depression

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook from a girl talking about how depression hinders her and makes it seem like she’s lazy when she’s not. I almost cried because I thought that I was the only one affected like that. She mentions that she hadn’t brushed her teeth in a week. She hadn’t brushed her hair in a month. I never realized the true extent of the damage depression does. But now I do. And I feel like everyone needs to know.

Full disclosure: I don’t brush my teeth twice a day. I’m lucky if I do it once a day most of the time. I can’t keep a clean room (let alone my entire apartment!) for more than a couple of days. I constantly have dirty laundry, dirty dishes, an unmade bed, unkempt hair, etc. I don’t shave very often. I don’t brush my hair all the time. I often forget deodorant. Why? Weariness. I don’t mean to forget. I don’t mean to walk around looking like a homeless person. I don’t intend to forget to do my laundry or leave dirty dishes laying in the sink. I just get…too…weary, I guess. All I ever want to do is lay around and do nothing. I’m always tired. I don’t like being lazy. In fact, I hate myself for it. It’s easy to tell someone who looks lazy to ‘just do it’. You think I don’t want to? I want to function like a regular adult. I’m 22 years old. There is no reason to be this way. I should be able to act like a normal adult…right?

Wrong.

Depression is a harsh mistress. At best, you have a few good days where you don’t feel the need to lay around and cry all day. Then you have days that you spend mostly just…existing. You’re still weary, you’re still weak, but you aren’t having a mental breakdown. Then there are the days you’ll not only feel worn out from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep, but you’ll have a rough day emotionally, which drains you further.

I moved out on my own for the first time almost exactly three months ago. Ever since, I’ve not been able to keep my apartment clean for a single day. I don’t want it to be messy, I just don’t have the energy to clean it. When it DOES get clean, it’s because one or both of my parents come over and help. It’s a two-hour process we do about once a month. It makes me hate myself even more that I have to have Mommy and Daddy come help me clean at 22.

That’s the thing with depression–it’s crippling. It’s not me being lazy and shirking my responsibilities because I feel entitled and lazy. I genuinely don’t have the energy to try. I wish I did. I cry over it. A lot. I’m crying right now because I know I’m not strong enough to be the person I want to be.

If you struggle with depression, don’t think you’re alone if you can’t manage to leave your room some days, not even to get up and function like a normal person your age. Don’t feel like you’re less of a person. You’re not. You’re stronger than you’ll ever know. Just being able to acknowledge that you want to do it makes you stronger than most people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try. But if you’re trying and it doesn’t seem to be helping, don’t feel like you’re inferior because of it. Reach out to someone. People who love you will try (and maybe succeed) to understand.

I know this was really personal and for once that was intentional. I want to show that if you feel like this, you’re not the only one. And you can talk to me if you want. I get it. I understand what it’s like. And for the first time in a very long time, thanks to the Facebook post, I feel less alone than before. I hope this makes someone feel that.

STORYTIME: Catfished by my bestie

I’m doing something a tad different today, similar to the story I told about ‘Tyler’ awhile back. This is super cringey, so once again I’ve changed the main character’s name. This is the time my bestie catfished me for a summer.

I had formed a friendship with someone at my elementary school in 2006. Let’s call her Sally. Sally was a grade behind me in school, so she was about to start middle school when I was going into 8th grade (our middle school only did 7th/8th grade; 6th was in elementary). That should’ve been the first clue she was lying about what came later,  but I’ll get to that.

In 2008, I was, as a lot of girls my age were, obsessed with the Disney Channel. I had developed a crush on a Jonas Brother (Joe, if you’re wondering), and of course I had gone through a short phase of wanting to be a pop star like Miley Cyrus. Cringey, I know. I was a bit immature though, since I was about to start 8th grade and most girls have outgrown it at that point.

This was what came up when Sally came over for a sleepover one day early that summer. She and I were swimming and she mentioned her dad was pretty high in music and that she had met a certain group of celebrities from the aforementioned Disney Channel. I won’t say who, but it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out based on the info I’ve provided.

She mentioned she was dating one of the boys from this group, and for some reason I believed her, even though he was likely graduated by then and she wasn’t even in middle school yet. I had a huge crush on the brother of one of the girls, so she ‘hooked me up’ with him.

The details on this are a bit blurry, so I don’t remember dates or details as well with this as I did with my Tyler story, but I know later in the summer, somehow my parents found out about what was going on and told me to A. Stop spreading it around and B. Stop talking to Sally if that’s how things were going to be. They read my emails and found out I was talking about it to a friend I’d almost lost contact with when I moved and spied on me for awhile before grounding me when I didn’t shut up about it.

Despite this, I didn’t stop, and it dragged on for awhile. My ‘boyfriend’ cheated on me and I ended up with someone else, someone directly in the group. That dragged on for awhile. By ‘a while’ I mean it kind of lasted until that Christmas, though I still haven’t figured out if that was wishful thinking or if I really did think it was true for that long.

In the end, it died down on its own and just went away. I moved on to crushing on a boy at school and we never talked about it again. I alluded to it once, but other than that, not another word from either of us to anyone. I never did find out why she did it. I went on for pages and pages in my journal about it, chronicling it start to finish, but never did figure that out. One of those forever unanswered questions I guess.

What I Learned from a 40-day Facebook fast

A couple days ago I decided to stop using Facebook for the rest of the semester to focus on the outside world and my studies. Today, Monday, October 17, 2016, I deactivated my Facebook for the next two months while I’m in school. Here I’ll chronicle my journey.

Day 1 (October 17th): I deactivated it before class this morning and so far I’m doing okay. I still can use Messenger and I’m still active on my other SM platforms.
November 10th: Now that I’ve been off FB for almost a month, I realize that I really don’t miss it. I’ll still reactivate it after the semester is over, but I probably won’t be as addicted to it.

November 29th: I caved and reactivated it a little early. I have two more assignments and a final, and my second-to-last assignment, an oral report, I’m completely ready for and am doing tomorrow. The last one isn’t due til December 11th.

So, what have I learned?

  1. Life is much less stressful without it. Being on it all the time meant I saw everyone’s drama and things I didn’t agree with but knew speaking up about it would lead to conflict.
  2. It’s a big distraction. Sure, I still have distractions, but it’s one less.
  3. Facebook really wasn’t as hard to detach from as I was expecting it to be.

Now I will admit, I did cheat a little bit. I have a second account for online friends and while I forgot about it for the first month, I did use it (very sparingly, and mainly for chat purposes) a few times before officially rejoining Facebook. Otherwise, pretty clean break, and I survived. The world didn’t end. I think I’ll be okay.

5 Things We Should Stop Saying

There are a lot of things that are off-limits to say. There are a lot of things that are frowned upon to say. And then there are the things that aren’t frowned upon but should be. Here are a few things we need to stop saying.

  1. “I’m feeling triggered.” (in a feminist aspect). No, you’re not. You’re pissed off because something happened that you don’t like. You’re causing people like me, who feel triggered to cut, into getting laughed at if we don’t provide context because we’re mistaken for SJWs.
  2. “___ porn” (food porn, poems porn, etc). Stop making porn a casual thing. Porn is sexual. Food is not. Unless you’re using it in a sexual way (I’ll leave that to your imagination), it’s not. And when people refer to food porn, they’re referring to stuff that looks really delicious to eat, not sexually titillating.
  3. “I literally died of laughter.” Saying literally before anything that doesn’t actually happen is stupid. Saying “I literally started crying” is a lot better than the above sentence (assuming you did actually cry).
  4. “You’re retarded.” This is frowned upon anyway for insulting the person it’s directed at, but what about people who are actually mentally retarded? It’s an insult to casualize what they go through.
  5. “I hate ___!” I doubt you really HATE it. Hate is an extremely strong word. Strongly dislike is better. Hate is more like when you wish horrible things on it. You don’t hate your parents if you’re just upset that they grounded you. You hate them when you wish they would die or think about killing them yourself.

I’m sure there’s more and if you can think of any, leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Loopholes and Gun Control

The year is 1999. The setting? Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. At 11:20AM on April 20th, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire outside of the school. Their rampage ended around 50 minutes later, leaving 15 dead, including themselves.

The year is 2007. The setting? Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. At 7:15AM on April 16th, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at the university, begins shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall, leaving one of the resident advisors dead. By the time the mass shooting was over around 2 1/2 hours later, there were 33 deaths, including that of the shooter.

The year is 2012. The setting? Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. At around 9:30AM on December 14th, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then began shooting in the elementary school, killing 28 people, including himself. Nobody knows why he targeted the school. Nobody ever will.

These three tragedies could have been prevented. Harris and Klebold got their guns because at the time, Colorado didn’t require background checks on private gun sales. Cho got his because of another loophole–because he willingly checked himself into a mental hospital and wasn’t forced into it, he was allowed to purchase a gun. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s (now called autism spectrum disorder) and it’s speculated that he had schizophrenia that went undiagnosed. He also had OCD. I’m a firm believer that anyone with any sort of mental illness (barring eating disorders and learning disabilities) should NOT be allowed to own a firearm under ANY circumstances.

However, there’s more to it. A lot of shootings happen in gun-free zones. The reason for this should be obvious–nobody can stop a shooter if there’s no law-abiding citizen who carries a gun to defend themselves and everyone around them. You only are made aware of problems like this when it happens. And if it’s prevented, it’s not mentioned at all most of the time.

So, here’s what I believe could be different:

  1. Every gun dealer, private or not, runs an extensive background check.
  2. Anyone diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder should be barred from owning a gun.
  3. Gun-free zones shouldn’t exist, even in schools. Because think about how many shootings have happened in schools.

Stay safe everyone. Put your thoughts in the comments.

Secrets (Work in Progress)

I’ve got very few secrets. I’m usually an open book. I rarely keep anything to myself and when I do, it’s because it’s not my secret to tell.

But I do have a few. Some things are best left unsaid. I have things I don’t like talking about. Last Monday was my first day of my Criminal Justice class. My professor asked the class to introduce ourselves and say something we’ve never told anyone before. I, for the first time in awhile, had something—the fact that I’m extroverted and egocentric is an effort to mask and defeat my insecurities. Until then I’d never told anyone that. Until now only they and my mom knew—and my mom only found out a few days ago. Now I’m putting it out there. It’s one of my last secrets.

I’m a very open person. I figure if I’m open and honest then people know the kind of person I am before they get too attached to me. Plus in some cases, such as my rocky past, I know it could help whoever I’m talking to get through a rough time. Not to mention it helps feed my self confidence and makes me feel better about myself.

Nobody seems to notice how embarrassed/hurt I get when someone points out my flaws. I get that it’s important, but I’m still very insecure. I don’t know how to take criticism. The English class I took last fall was the first time I was able to get past that. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.