Tori Noriega Tori is a student at Pace University in New York City and Creative Director/Staff Writer at TFP. You can visit Tori's blog at- www.dailylifeofvictoria.com/
Time to talk about one of the most dreaded things… weight. Can you believe little numbers on a scale determine so many people’s happiness? Can you believe those little stretch marks and tummy rolls ruin our moods for days on end? I can’t lie and say it doesn’t determine mine from time to time. When you look at a scale and all it gives you is something you don’t want, your spirits drop a little. Coming from someone who has struggled with their weight for their entire life, I know the effects of weight. I know the toll it takes on your mental health and the way it affects how you live daily. I grew up the overweight little girl in elementary school; I was always the biggest girl in the class. It was always a struggle to be around all of the tiny little girls who could fit through the tight desk spaces and in the playground. Their uniform skirts wouldn’t bunch up at their stomachs and their thighs wouldn’t chafe whenever they’d walk. They wouldn’t cry in the mornings when their uniforms never fit right. They were never told by doctors that they had to go on a diet at the age of 7. Their lives haven’t been ruled by how much they weigh since they were children. They wouldn’t sit down and see tummy rolls through their polos. Other little girls wouldn’t point out their flaws not in a malicious way, but only because they’d never had them. I honestly can’t tell you what it feels like to not worry about your weight. I can’t tell you what it’s like to look in a mirror and love what you see. I’ve never known what it’s like to love myself. I was child who grew up only knowing that her body wasn’t what it was supposed to be. I grew up thinking that the way I looked was wrong, it wasn’t right. I couldn’t eat that second cookie; I couldn’t have that little piece of cake, because if I did it would all just sit in me and add weight. I had to be put on a diet at a young age just to control it. I was trying to sign up for weight watchers in fifth grade. My life revolved around weight management. Now, here I am at nineteen years old and I have more weight issues than anyone really wants in their lifetime. I have been constantly trying to lose weight, for how many years I can’t even keep track. My mind has been clouded with thoughts of weight loss and being skinny for years on end. Whenever I do lose weight I still see the same sized girl no matter how hard I try to see someone different. I’ll become unmotivated and eat away my feelings. It’s an awful cycle of loss and gain. You lose yourself in this battle with your body. All you want is for you to love yourself, but it takes over everything you. All you think about is how you should eat, or when you should workout. Did you work out long enough? Did you really need to eat those cookies? All of these thoughts run through your mind, at least they run through mine. It’s just a pain to live. Everyday it’s the same routine and thought process, it’s never ending. It isn’t a life. I have yet to find a way to stop this cycle, but I’ve had some successes for a few months. It all goes to shit again soon after though. This isn’t rare and of course I know that. Most girls throughout the world experience these issues. If you don’t, I can’t express how lucky you are. These feelings rarely go away and truth be told I don’t think they ever really do. You gain control and you understand how to better yourself, but they never go away. If there were to be someone or something to put the blame on it would be society, the media and the way the world pressures women to look. You’re told you can’t be too skinny or too fat, but if you’re fat you can’t be. Except if you have no curves you’re doing it wrong. There is a never a way of winning in this world. Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel. It’s better to love yourself and the way you look than listen to what society tells you is beautiful. Because, honestly, you’re beautiful.
the author of this essay has asked to remain anonymous
For years, I’ve dealt with many mental health issues, I’ve been told its depression, severe panic disorder or something to do with me being lazy. I believed it was just how I was supposed to feel. For nineteen years having the constant need to bite my nails till the most painful point. When my heart would race for hours on end and I couldn’t breathe with sweat dripping down my face from how nervous I was. I would sit in bed not being able to enjoy a single moment of my life without feeling guilty or sitting in bed wishing I could do something but not having the motivation to do anything but wallow in self-pity. I’d dealt with emotional issues due to the fact of having a toxic relationship with my father as a child. I still to this day make excuses for him. He was going through a hard time. He struggled with his own issues, but I was only three or four and I was terrified to go home and face him. I was terrified I’d do something to upset him and I’d ruin his day. I had to grow up and learn that being a child wasn’t an option. Then I move on to high school and meet a boy who I thought truly loved me for me. I thought that finally I had reached the peak of love fairytales. Then I was used and thrown out like a used tissue and when I told my mom I was told that what I did only prostitutes* did back in her time. It was a moment where I felt that what I did with that boy wasn’t what I had wanted, but I was told by my mom that I was something she deemed as a lowlife. I felt useless and empty for years. I couldn’t really talk to anyone about it. I had one person that listened to me and honestly that person is the only reason I’m alive right now. I had to convince myself that I was worth something again. I had to tell myself that these people don’t mean anything. Their comments don’t mean anything. I am more than these comments. I didn’t handle it the best way with getting into fights with my mom and ignoring my dad. I would skip school not wanting to show up and see anyone. I’d ignore my friends and shut them all out. I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize. A girl that use to be happy and bright. Someone who always had a smile on their face and was laughing as if there was no tomorrow. To this day I don’t fully recognize the person I’ve become. I’m happy with who I am, but it’s not who I was. The point of this article is that for years I had no idea what was wrong with me. Why did my mood change so much? Why was life so hard when I was at my lowest? Why do I constantly have these feelings of insecurity and pain when I come into contact with men? Why did no anti-depressant or anxiety medication ever work for me? Over spring break, I got only part of the answer, but it was a step to something I knew that would begin to help me more than anything had in my past. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II, which is a less severe BPD than I, but it still affects the daily life of someone severely if not controlled. The idea of telling someone frightened me because people have predetermined stereotypes of people with Bipolar Disorder. Would people turn on me? Would people think I was unstable? I know I’m not. I know I’m strong, because I’ve been dealing with this for most of my life without any medication or true help and in my personal opinion I’ve done it beautifully. I have convinced myself now that I deserve to be self-absorbed. I deserve to love myself and compliment myself relentlessly. I deserve to appreciate myself. Now there is more to deal with. I know I still have relationship issues that I need to deal with. I have more psychological issues to work through, but for once in my life I’m at peace with myself. I’m finally ready to begin self-help. For anyone who is dealing with things they don’t understand or with pent up emotions that they feel like they can’t let out. It will get better, but you have to work towards it. You have to open yourself up to it. It will get there. You will get there.
*I in no way believe prostitutes are lower or lesser than me or anyone else. They are working women/men that deserve respect.
Kendall Kindred Kendall is the Editor and Staff Writer for TFP.
I spent years blaming myself for things that were caused by illnesses I did not yet understand. I was convinced that I was going insane. I started failing classes, something I had never even imagined doing. I distanced myself from my friends. I blamed my family and my environment for the constant storm in my head. I spent years refusing to get help because I didn’t understand how badly I needed it. Although I didn’t know it when I was young, I have always dealt with severe anxiety. The feeling of my heart pounding in my chest is more familiar to me than the back of my hand. As a child, I would have panic attacks if my dad was late coming home from work or if my mom didn’t immediately answer when I called. I became a professional at convincing myself that the worst had happened. I sent myself into a panic, crying and fighting for air on more occasions than I care to admit. I got older and depression found a home in me. Paired with my anxiety, it was nearly lethal. I lost interest in things I cared about, and stopped putting effort into my schoolwork. I could not force myself to do it, but in my mind, I obsessed over the potential consequences of not doing it. It was a constant back-and-forth in my head, worrying about all the things I should’ve been doing but never finding enough motivation to do them. My grades slipped and I stopped writing music. I couldn’t explain what was causing the sudden shift because I didn’t have a single clue what was wrong. All I knew was that there was a heavy weight in my chest that made it impossible to function normally. I took a lot of my own confusion out on my parents and my siblings, who just happened to have the misfortune of living with me in a time when I could hardly handle living with myself. They had no idea what I was dealing with, and I didn’t care to enlighten them. How was I supposed to look at my little siblings, the kids that I am supposed to be a role model for, and tell them that I felt broken and small? How do you look at your family and the life they gave you and tell them that you don’t feel like you deserve it anymore? It is overwhelming and terrifying. It was impossible. Throughout all of this, I felt completely alone. I had no idea how common mental illnesses really were. It wasn’t until I started reading other people’s stories that I really started to understand what was happening. People that I looked up to opened up about their own battles with anxiety. I heard them speak candidly about their mental health and started taking control of my own. Truly, I owe my life to them. Years later, I still have days (weeks) when I feel that way. If I’m being honest, I barely even had the energy to write this piece today. Most days, I have a hard time getting myself out of bed in the morning. I am fighting to keep my head above water, but I’m so much better than I was before. I still have a long way to go, and I know that, but I’m trying. My point in writing all of this is to remind people who may be struggling with the same things that they are not alone. We live in a world that often casts mental illnesses aside, ignoring them for “real” issues. Mental illness is a real issue. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it should be treated as such. Ask for help. Talk about it. Take care of yourself. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for it in the long run.
Candy Barzola Candy is a student at NCTC in Texas and is studying business management. She is a Social Media Director and Staff Writer at TFP.
It was around 10pm on a cold night on February of 2016 when my mom started to realize something was off about me. I knew for 2 years that I was struggling with some sort of mental issues, but I didn’t want to believe it. “Sad” wasn’t the right word to describe it, but something more severe and constant than that. The next day, my mother made an appointment at the doctor’s so I could take a test for depression. I was shaking with nerves, already knowing what the results were going to be. The lady was nice and gave me a brief explanation of what the test was going to be over, gave me an ipad that already had the first question popped up, and walked out of the room to give me time. I answered the never-ending questions truthfully, and waited patiently for my doctor to tell me the results. When she came back, she sat down and carefully explained to me that I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I know what I was expecting, but I didn’t think it would hit me that hard. The kind doctor proceeded by giving me cards on recommended therapists and physicians. Once I walked out the door, I told my mom everything, and she started to blame herself for it. None of this was her fault, and I told her that, but I know she feels like she let herself down for not knowing earlier. I hope she knows that this was all on me, not her, and I appreciate her for all the support she’s given me. As time passed by, I have been going to a physician who has prescribed me the right medication that thankfully has worked. Although I don’t believe there’s a “cure” for depression, I do believe that it’s possible to have it under control. My therapist has been the most loving and supportive woman, and I am grateful to have her in my life. She has huge hope for me in the future, and I couldn’t have possibly lived an easy year without her. It’s been almost a year since the news, but I have made such huge progress. Although all the panic attacks, the suicidal thoughts, the self harm, the stress, the episodes, and all the self doubt that I’ve been through, there is a fight to win. My mental illness does not define me. I am not ashamed of my mental illness because it has made me the strong woman that I am today. I know that hearing the words “it will get better” gets exhausting, but I believe it. My life has been getting better since I’ve started to manage my mental health, and I couldn’t thank the people who have helped me with this more. Take my advice, don’t reject those who are there to help you, because they are truly there for you to guide you into a happier life. I’m not cured, I don’t think I’ll ever be, but I am at a good point in my life. That’s the closest thing to content that I’ve ever had in years, and I’m grateful for still being alive today for it.