Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Help is not a Personal Defeat

As I've established Bottom of the Top, I've never been sure whether I was sharing too much about my life or whether I was merely being transparent about being a student.  It's been crazy living as a student here at MIT, and it's always been important to me not to only show one side of it.  Like I said last week, there's been a lot going on in my life that has been causing me to rethink how I've been living and how I'm going to move forward once I graduate.  One things I've decided is important is my physical and mental health.
I think the hardest thing to take care of is your sanity and mental well being.  This is something I have been struggling with for years, especially during my time at MIT.  I won't sugar-coat it; I've sometimes likened studying engineering as a form of mental abuse.  The pay-off is amazing, but for 4 years you have to tough out grueling hours of getting incredibly difficult work done.  It's physically and mentally draining.  To a 20 year old, 4 years seems like an eternity to struggle through this.  As I finish my time here, I look back with many fond memories, but many troubled ones too.
I'm telling you this because two years ago I came to a pivotal decision that I think is one of the most important of my life.  
After finishing a little under half my degree I was utterly frayed.  My nerves were shot, I was physically twitching and I couldn't handle listening to more than one person talk at a time.  I would literally start to cry anytime anyone talked about school or my future to me.  My free time was spent staring at a wall listing things I needed to do.
One day my sophomore year I realized that I was not supposed to feel like this.  Now, I had always been a person to "tough it out".  Fall off your bike?  Tough it out.  Didn't get any sleep?  Tough it out.  Kids are mean at school?  Tough it out.  I considered myself a tough person who could weather anything life threw at me.  This is when I began to take my feelings as a personal defeat of character.  I was no longer tough enough to handle my own life.  
As someone who studies chemistry, I should have know this was not true.  At this point I was so exhausted that my brain couldn't produce enough serotonin to keep up with my lifestyle.  I was physically ill.  Mental illness has a huge stigma attached to it; we think we're crazy like Norman Bates if we need help regulating ourselves.  When we realize this isn't true, we can help ourselves get better, just like getting antibiotics for strep.  This realization was essential for my time here, and if I hadn't started taking sertraline I don't know what my mental state would be today.
I'm writing this now because I've arrived at another crossroads: do I continue taking it?  With less and less work on my plate I'm becoming tempted to see how I function without it.  I want to try to function on my own because I'm still stubborn and still want to tough it out.  This is the point where I have to recognize what's stubborn, what what's healthy.  After mulling it over and talking with my doctor (don't not talk to them!) I'm tapering down and easing off.  So far it's been promising and I've been able to handle the day-to-day stresses of my life.  
However, I'm also going through honest to goodness withdrawals right now.  I wake up nauseous and with a splitting headache.  Sometimes during the day I'll start sweating and shaking.  It's been bad enough that I've considered staying on this drug forever, but I know I only have to make it through 2 weeks and it'll be out of my system.
The moral?  Take care of yourself always.  There is no such thing as a healthy person, but that doesn't mean every little thing wrong with you is a condition.  Just do what you need to get by and know you're not the only one who sometimes needs help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Updates and Getting Back

I realized I've been 100% MIA from Bottom of the Top for months now.  It's sucked because I've let sponsorships slip by and it's looked like I've forgotten about the site.  To be totally honest I've thought about shutting the site down and saying bye.  I don't know why but lately I've really hated doing anything on my computer that wasn't totally necessary, but I also haven't really been doing much of anything.
I'm currently still on winter break, which means I'm only working part time and I'm not in school.  I'm self-studying for an engineering licensing exam (sort of the engineer version of the MCAT or LSAT) which has put me into a deep funk.  On top of that Doug and I have been having trouble with some family members in the wake of making some life decisions (I won't go into it here) as well as one of my family members falling seriously ill.
A routine is beginning to form around my life again as I roll into my final semester here at MIT, so I'm starting to feel like my old self again.
I'm not really sure why I'm posting this.  I guess I've always tried to be transparent with the blog so you can see that lifestyle bloggers aren't perfect.  Most of us are actually pretty off because who else sits and shares their lives with strangers?
Bottom of the Top will stay up, I noticed people were still looking at it even when I wasn't posting.  A big thank you to those of you who read this regularly.  I do notice and appreciate you taking the time to read something I've worked on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Internet for a Month

Ok, back on campus after a month.  Before finals I peaced from campus and visited my grandparents and aunt and uncle in Ohio.  From there we visited Doug's family in Wisconsin then spent the rest of the holiday with my parents in New York.  It was a great break and one of the best things was I didn't use my computer at all.  
Ok that was a lie, I used it to watch Christmas movies.  But other than that I didn't even turn it on.  It was great.  I only answered urgent emails from my phone once a day and other than that I just relaxed.
Seriously, it was the best break ever.  I spent everyday outside with my dog or out hunting.
Chillin in the duck blind

Margarita night!

I got a pheasant!
All in all, I highly recommend unplugging for a while.  I had the most fun I've had in a while just chilling with family and spending time outside.  That said it's good to be back, and I'll be devoting more time to Bottom of the Top again.