The Letter Project

Last weekend, I was feeling incredibly sad. No, not sad. I was desolate. I was in my bed, just sobbing, and it felt like all of my limbs had fallen asleep. I wanted my brain to turn off, but everything that was upsetting me just kept replaying in my mind, and I kept falling further and further as my internal voice taunted me, telling me I didn’t deserve love.

But the thing is, I know I’m worthy of love, and more than that, I know I am loved! So, when I began to feel better, I called upon the people I knew loved me and asked them to do me a favor.

I asked them to write me a letter and mail it to me. My plan is to put these letters, unopened, somewhere safe. Then, whenever I feel the way I felt last weekend, I can pull out a letter and read words of love and friendship from someone I know loves me.

I’ve already gotten three letters, and I haven’t opened one yet. That’s great, but also, I really want to read what’s in them.

Know that you are so, so loved. I know that you have people in your life who would do something similar in a heartbeat, or even quicker. Those who love you want you to know their love. If you feel like this letter project is something that could help you, I urge you to reach out to your loved ones, and I know that they will respond.

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In Honor of National Suicide Prevention Month.

As you may know, September is National Suicide Prevention Month. In honor of this, I have some special projects and posts which I will be unveiling throughout the month.

One is a project that I have been working on since news of Robin Williams’ suicide was made public. I’m really excited to share it with you, and am proud of all the work that has gone into this. If you have struggled with depression and would like to help, please email me at cloudywithachanceofcatholic@gmail.com .

I’m also fundraising for To Write Love On Her Arms, so if you are able to donate anything at all, I would really appreciate it 🙂

Thank you so much 🙂

I think we need to have a chat about suicide.

As you know, the other day, beloved comedian, actor, friend, father and husband Robin Williams lost his battle with depression. When I heard the news, I was devastated.

My heart ached for his family, friends, everyone who he loved, and everyone who loved him.

But mostly, my heart ached for him and the pain I know he felt.

Maybe that’s why Matt Walsh’s article caused me so much anguish.

This semester, I found myself in a pretty bad depression. I felt alone, like no one cared, and I was hours away from any of my family or friends at home. One sleepless night, I found myself contemplating how easy it would be for me to simply roll off my lofted bed and end the pain I was feeling and the pain I was sure I was causing others.

Thank God that I never went any farther than that, and a breakdown after daily mass and discussion with the chaplain of my school forced me to reach out to others. But, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like ending my life was the only option, and other times, I had a plan, and attempted to commit suicide.

I have been at the brink of life and death. I have found myself grasping for relief and peace from my suffering. I have seen the light come in the form of ending my life.

So when someone says something about how, by commiting suicide, you are showing “The willingness to saddle your family with the pain and misery and anger that will now plague them for the rest of their lives”, I’m bound to disagree. Vocally.

Were we there when Robin Williams sadly ended his own life? No. no one was, not even the all mighty Matt Walsh. Maybe when he chose to end his life, he thought he was relieving his family, and in a way setting them free of various burdens that he could have felt were put on them. Maybe he realized the wrong too late. Maybe as he died, he regretted it and cried out in sorrow.

We don’t know, and it’s wrong to assume that anyone who committed suicide suicide understood what his family would have to endure after his actions.

In memory of Robin Williams, reach out to people. Love them, show them that they and life are beautiful.

Holy Archangel Raphael, appointed by God to guide, protect and heal, I entrust to you all people who at this moment are contemplating suicide. You guided young Tobias on his journey and protected him from the spirit of death which sought to destroy his life. I ask you to protect all people from the road that leads to physical and spiritual death, especially those in most danger of despair and suicide. Just as you led Tobias by the hand, lead them away from the sadness of addiction to peace and joy. O holy Raphael, whose name means, “God has healed”, bring them the Lord’s healing. Lord God, hear the prayer I make together with your faithful servant Raphael. Amen.

 

Defending the Impractical Students

As of Thursday, I am officially halfway done with my college career. I can’t even believe it. Freshman year went by so slow, but Sophomore year? I feel like I blinked, and then I was done.

I started off the fall semester  but finally taking the classes needed for my majors. I took Introduction to Literary Study I, and Introduction to Christian Theology. I also discovered that I’m good at philosophy, and really like it, to boot! Because I hate myself, I declared myself an English and Theology Major with a minor in Philosophy.

Katie before declaring her double major and minor.

Katie post-declaration of double major and minor.

But really, I am so glad I took on that Philosophy minor. It goes beautifully with Theology and English, and I have learned so much because of the classes I’ve taken and the skills they have taught me. Even though Theology, English, & Philosophy are considered to be three of the most useless majors (rude), I am so passionate about all three and the good they can do in the world.

Really, is any major “practical”? It’s incredibly rare for college students to find a job in their major right after graduation, and most majors require a Masters’ degree to get anything done. You can’t really do anything with a psychology or sociology degree unless you go to school for at least two more years.

There are going to be people who judge me for my decisions, but there are also so many people who support me, and even respect me for it. Something I have learned is that, often, my biggest judge is myself.  That’s also the hardest judge to defend myself to. I can tell everyone why I’ve chosen my majors, “Because it’s what I love”, but when my inner judge comes out, no defense  is good enough to excuse my “crime” of impractical majors.

I find myself second guessing my English major almost daily, “Should I have gone with communications instead? What if no one wants to hire me simply because I’m an English major?” Maybe choosing communications would have been more practical, but it wouldn’t have led me to the self-discovery and passion I’ve found as an English major.

In the long run, I hope that’s what matter. When I’m sitting in a job interview, and my interviewer asks why I chose English as opposed to communications, maybe “because I loved it. Because I wanted to learn to analyze, and understand, and write about what I analyzed and understood. I wanted to see how the world influences art, and how art influences the world. I am learning that.

Would I love to have  a big house with a super stable job and a steady and heavy income? Well, duh. I am human. But I also know that things aren’t going to make me happy. If depression has taught me anything, it is that you can get everything you want, and still feel worthless and unloved. Happiness is found in God.

I started this blog post out as “lessons I’ve learned after sophomore year” and it morphed into this… thing. Yeah, I’m not really sure what it is. But, I guess that’s life, huh?

 

 

Roll Away My Stone

As I said in my previous post, my Lent was not as fruitful as I had thought it would be on Ash Wednesday. I failed in all of my sacrifices and additional prayers I had promised to partake in, and I felt like I was moving backwards in my spiritual life instead of forwards. I recently figured out why my Lent had been so difficult.

It all began back in January or February. I was feeling depressed. It wasn’t a big deal, I have major depressive disorder: feeling depressed comes with the package. For the most part, I was able to get over it on my own, so I didn’t really feel a need to talk about it with my therapist or my mom, or anyone. However, I had no idea that the depression had taken a toll on not only on my mental and emotional health, but my spiritual life as well.

Since then, my prayer life has decreased, and I’ve been thinking things along the lines of “I’m fine without God’s help”. I was locked inside a tomb, blocked by a stone and unable to see the light.

But at the Easter Vigil, I felt something. I felt Jesus’ presence so strongly that I wanted to cry. As Jesus’ stone was rolled away and truth was brought to light, it felt like a stone that had been in my own heart was being rolled away.

Lord, I ask to to roll away all stones which are keeping me from being with you. Bring me to the light and let me live in your presence.

There’s no such thing as a small victory.

ImageYesterday, I was super sad. Like, I climbed up in bed and cried for a good hour sad. It was not pretty. I remember when I was crying to myself, I was afraid that this meant that I was going to be in a major depression for the rest of the semester, like last year. But somehow, I was able to reach out to a friend, and told her I needed to talk.

I never did that last year. I kept it inside until it hurt, and refused to tell anyone, including my mom and therapist. But this time, I reached out and asked for help.

I referred to my ability to do that as “a small victory”, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t small, in the least.

I could have decided to stay in bed crying, feeling sorry for myself, instead of reaching out and asking for help. I could have resorted to self harm, which I had in the past.

But I didn’t.

That’s no small victory. That’s just… a victory. And it shows just how far I’ve come since this time last year.

There’s no such thing as a small victory. Every victory is a sign of strength in its own way. Don’t downplay your successes by calling them small. They’re awesome, and I’m proud of you!

God is too. He doesn’t require we succeed in big huge ways, every small success, He’s so proud of us. He really is. He only asks that we try.

And if you don’t succeed, He’s right there, with a hand outstretched, ready to brush you off and help you try again. Reach out to Him. He wants to love you. Don’t forget: saints are just sinners who got back up.

I’ll be praying for you, warrior. Please pray for me!

8 ways to help your friend with depression

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So… you have a friend with depression. As someone with depression, I know it’s hard to deal with, and sometimes you don’t know what to do. Here’s a list of things that my friends have done for me that have helped.

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or even psychology major. I’m simply a girl who’s speaking from experience, not expertise. Just because something helped me doesn’t mean it will help you/your friend.

  1. Be careful with your wording. This might seem silly, but one little word that seems fishy could through someone off kilter.
  2. Tell them you’re thinking about them and that you care. I know that my depression is often caused by feelings of being unloved and lonely. When a friend texts or writes me a note, it makes me feel better.
  3. Invite them places. Even if you think they already know they’re invited or it’s a normal thing, reinforce the idea that they’re wanted. Sometimes, when my friends don’t text me about dinner, I assume it’s because they don’t want me there. Turns out it’s usually because they assume I already know.
  4. Be there. You don’t have to understand what they’re going through or be able to relate to help them. Just listen to them. Hug them.
  5. Validate them. Even if you don’t think you would feel some way about something, let them know that it’s okay if they do.
  6. Even if they do themselves, don’t make a joke out of their illness. I know it’s something I struggle with. I make fun of things I’m uncomfortable with, but if anybody tried to make fun of my depression, I would be shattered.
  7. Educate yourself on their illness. Even if just on Wikipedia or Google… just learn some general facts. It’ll help both you and your friend.
  8. Ask them how they want you to help them. Maybe they won’t tell you. Maybe you’ll find out that they’d really appreciate it if you forced them to get out of bed when they really don’t feel like doing something. Maybe you need to be gentler.  Whatever they tell you they need, do it.