Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bravery, Strength, and Intelligence

For maximum effect, please read this post while listening to Coldplay's "The Scientist."

"To my lovelies:
If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together...
there is something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is even if we're apart...
I'll always be with you."

My Nanna, my mom and I all having these matching bracelets. On the surface, they express some pleasant thoughts, but as with most Winnie the Pooh quotes, they reveal profound truths in their simplicity.

While curled up in bed evening, I looked over at my bedside table and saw this bracelet. It would be easy to dismiss its words. I don't feel particularly brave, strong, or smart right now. I feel awful. But maybe that is the bipolar talking. Maybe I need to readjust my perspective and think about the mental illness context of these words.

For me, bravery is not fighting a lion or starting a revolution. Bravery is fighting to end my cycle of codependency, trying to make new friends, and going to class even when I feel like hiding in my bed.

For me, strength is not running a marathon or lifting great weights. Strength is taking my medicine even when it makes me feel a little sick, getting rid of items I used to hurt myself, and writing instead of cutting.

For me, intelligence is not acing every test or always having the right answer. Intelligence is communicating my strengths and weaknesses with others, sharing my feelings, and adjusting my study schedule to accommodate my mood swings.

I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.

You are, too.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I believe...
there should be a global conversation about mental health.
everyone should have access to quality psychiatric care.
there is no weakness in asking for and accepting help.
a person is more than his or her diagnosis.
no symptoms and feelings are taboo.
sharing my story will empower others to share their own.

There is much talk about "finding yourself" in college. What transformation takes place in the dorms, classrooms, and dining halls? I've been here less than two months, and I can already sense the beginnings of change. I feel myself becoming more passionate as I increase my involvement on campus, more understanding as I meet different individuals, more of a global thinker as I read and participate in conversations. Some of my beliefs have grown stronger, rooting deeper in my heart, while others have grown weak and fallen away, leaving fresh soil behind. Now I attempt to sow new seeds. Some have been rejected, while others thrive as small seedlings.

The beliefs that I post here are some of the strongest convictions I hold. I allow them to guide me as I explore this vast world and the even vaster Internet. These will be the guiding principles of The Awkward Indie Girl. As I expand my brand, I will remain connected to its purpose through these points. They will be trail of breadcrumbs, lingering behind me as a map to my small beginnings as a socially awkward fashion blogger turned socially awkward mental health advocate. It's been a long, weird road, but I believe that I'm supposed to be here.

***I officially have a blog with the Towerlight, my school's newspaper! If you want to read my first post, click here.

Friday, October 11, 2013


My blog has been silent this week as I pondered away from my computer. I have been thinking about who am I as a person, who I would like to be, and the path that will lead me through that transformation.

On Monday night, I had a life-changing experience. I stood up in front of a room of strangers, and I delivered a TED-style talk on mental health. First, I shared statistics, the numbers that rule the mental health world. Second, I shared a brief synopsis of my mental health history, and third, I asked my audience to consider sharing their own stories with friends, family, and the public through social media. The reaction I got was so intense that I thought I was having a hypomanic episode. A few listeners came up afterwards and told me their stories and thanked me for sharing mine. One upperclassman asked me if I spoke publicly regularly. This shocked me, because I had been ridiculously nervous. What shocked me most, however, was how receptive people were to the message of fighting stigma. I felt the tea light within me blaze into a torch, the flames licking my heart and providing me with a penetrating warmth.

I can say with a high degree of certainty that I have found a mission. I had stumbled upon it earlier, through my blog, but now my sense of purpose has been renewed and invigorated. I want to do everything possible to share the message that mental health issues truly affect every one of us. My first step is creating a video version of the talk I delivered so that it can be shared online. I am in the preliminary stages of developing a podcast that will allow others to share their experiences with mental illness. The ideas are spinning through my mind faster than I can capture them on paper. I am excited to wake up each morning and continue this effort.

The only troubling part about this discovery of passion is how it fits into my academic life. I am currently a chemistry education major, but I want to focus more on psychology and media. I'm not sure how this will work out. I'm going to avoid making any decisions just yet as I continue to develop my cause as a hobby.

After such a long time of shiftlessness and murky dissatisfaction, a feeling of usefulness is a welcome change. Despite the rain pouring outside my window, I have a sunny disposition. Bring on the rainbows.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Image from Philadelphia's China Town, taken last Saturday during my manic episode.

After a couple of nights away in an uncomfortable hospital bed, I returned to my dorm Wednesday. Tomorrow I go home to be with my family for a night.

Prior to my hospitalization, my mind had been running a marathon - an entire weekend of aggressive obsessions, frustration, and self harm. I wasn't sleeping enough, wasn't eating enough. I took unnecessary risks and tried to give all my money away.

Finally, my energy dwindled enough for me to fall apart. After the Breaking Bad finale, I crouched on the carpet and cried. I cried because I knew that if these thoughts didn't stop, I was going to die. My body couldn't outrun my mind.

Chris stayed with me through the night. He stayed with me on the way to the counseling center in the morning, and he stayed with me in the police car on the way to the hospital. He held my hand and hugged me close while I panicked in the emergency room. Finally, he had to leave me. I walked to the Psych Ward with the company of an anonymous nurse.

The morning after I was admitted, I could already feel different. Even though my meds were changed, not enough time had passed for the changes to be effective. I developed an appetite, I slept deeply, I felt stable. My thoughts no longer spun, and my manic episode was ending.

I was released to my mother on Wednesday afternoon. I don't know how to keep my mind at a jogger's pace, how to maintain equilibrium and avoid episodes. The fact that I can do my best and still end up in in the Emergency Room terrifies me.

I want to be happy. I want to wake up and feel in control. I want to be normal. I want to share all I have to offer the world sans bipolar addendum. I want to be a positive force. I want to be grounded.