Stop! In the Name of Stress

Lately, time’s lapsed quickly; I swear it was Sunday yesterday. Regardless, my apologies for the consistently delayed blogs (and the possibly overly corny title of this one). It’s interesting, though, since I can so vividly remember a time where a matter of days was significant. It’s peaceful to know that a week can pass and, though much has happened, it’s as though Sunday was yesterday. It feels comforting to realize that a week is just a week, a piece of my life that isn’t the end of my life…

Anyways, though last weekend wasn’t yesterday, it was incredible. After a few weeks of stress building, I returned home to New York for the long weekend. I wasn’t sure what I needed, but I left BC feeling like something was missing and hoping to get it from the small break. The anxiety was apparent upon my return, as I nearly had a breakdown Thursday night, but after a little bit of sleep, some good food, and the comfort of my own space, everything seemed to fall back into place.

I’m not exactly sure what healed the thing that was breaking. It could have been just a matter of taking some time to think about things besides the periodic table, or maybe it was a cumulation of the various shiny moments that took place. Regardless, here’s the recipe for my relaxation, and for anyone who’s more than a little worried about things that shouldn’t outweigh happiness, I’d recommend trying any or all of these…

On Friday, after a little sister-bonding time over lunch, I headed into the city to reconnect with some of my favorite people. At first, I was running late to get to my meeting and I found myself doubled over on my bus with anxiety and an uncharged phone. Yet, as soon as I got there, I was hugged, not reprimanded, and I remembered the importance of love; self-love and love from others. The mere act of embracing people who know you is something that is so powerful and so often overlooked. In the first semester of freshmen year, there’s an inevitable lack of hugs. You are just getting to know one another and the hugs you do receive are not the same as the hugs that say, “I know you and I care”. This feeling expanded throughout my night. Over words and advice exchanged between people who have seen me through my darkest days and who have ignited my greatest hopes, over good, balanced meals made by people other than those in my college cafeteria, and over laughter shared in common grounds I felt the expansion of calm. Some things can’t be replicated, and one of those is definitely the expressions and understandings between people who truly know and accept one another.

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That night was concluded with the viewing of America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of our Youth. Not only did I get the privilege to be reminded of my own fortune in recognizing and separating myself and my values in the midst of a society that is being consumed by so many distorted messages from the media and elsewhere, but I was also able to see so many familiar faces. I ran into people from my past, anywhere from Manhattan to California and, of course, got plenty of hugs. Seeing people, some of whom hadn’t seen me since I’d fallen off the planet and left NY about a year ago, was such a good reminder of the pride I have in who I am today. Being able to run into people without feeling ashamed by my appearance or my progress, but rather excited to tell them how the past year has unfolded, where I am now and how I’m doing, helped to motivate me to breathe into the positive parts of my life, rather than shrink back in fear of the unknown and unwanted.

The same was true for Saturday, when I flew to Connecticut with my family to gather with all of my extended family for our annual apple picking event. Each year, around Columbus Day my ever-growing family makes their way to the orchards. At some point, the focus was on picking apples, but now I think we pick just to have a purpose to gather. Most of the time is spent over cider donuts and apple fritters, until we make it back to my uncle’s house for more food (lots of home made apple pie) and a chance to catch up. Many of the faces I hadn’t seen since last year, at the event. At the time, I was in PHP and soon after, was back in residential. Though I’m not ashamed of my time in treatment, being able to make conversation about points of interest in my life, without it surrounding who my current therapist is, is something I truly missed and can thoroughly appreciate now. Having the year to reflect on so drastically with the juxtaposition of the gatherings was a necessary reminder that, even when I’m stressed, I have a lot for which to be grateful and I deserve a certain amount of grace.

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Sunday, I attended the wedding of the century, #becomingkatemoss. Again, I was able to reconnect with people whom I haven’t seen in years. Although there was the very similar recognition of the progress I made in seeing old faces and being new, I felt an even greater gratitude towards life, in general. Witnessing two people, one of which I grew up with, make a commitment to love each other unconditionally and spend their lives together was powerful, and seeing so many people come together for it was exciting. I felt honored to be able to attend a moment that will be “the moment” for the two of them, and that was more moving for me. Each time I feel shifts for others and experiences that seem like celebrations of life, rather than just the recognition that I’m alive, I see the motions I’m making towards normalcy again. Yet, I do believe I have the opportunity to allow typical happiness to gain an added appreciation and awe, because I still vividly remember and know what it is like to live in darkness. For this, I think I allow myself the chance to mend the parts that are resistant to accept my past. I make peace with who I was, when I get the reflection of how my present is enhanced by any moments of previous suffering.

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After a long night of photo booths, dancing, and, you guessed it, more good food, I spent most of Monday in bed doing school work. Each day was valuable, but Monday, though probably the most simple, was perhaps the most healing. Each time I go home and feel like a normal teenager, I think a part of me gets back what I didn’t get in high school. It took me a long time to sleep in my bed again after I left home, and to feel comforted by sleeping in my own bed is something I never thought I would reach. Yet, lying around and having my biggest responsibilities be getting my work done and getting downstairs to eat seemed so easy and just what I needed. I wasn’t plagued with the typical layer of depression for not moving, or a series of memories of sicker days to avoid. It was easy; and I got a glimpse of the alternative life I could have lived, and the peace of my current one.

I didn’t know what I needed. I didn’t even know what was breaking. I don’t think you always do; need to know, that is. All I know, is that, after returning to Boston, my body, my mind, and my soul felt realigned. Things were back in a semi-balance. It’s a learning process, but I have this blog to look back on the next time I’m biting one too many nails.

Cheers!

Alexandra

One Reply to “Stop! In the Name of Stress”

  1. You are an inspiration to many , who like you have struggled and conquered. Your writings are so down to earth and self reflective and, seemingly appear to lend strength to you to forge forward in positive direction.
    Good luck and God bless, Alexandra!!
    Eagerly awaiting your next blog.

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