Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vote for TWLOHA to win $1 million!

Thanks to Chase Community Giving, To Write Love On Her Arms has the chance to win $1 million! But they will only win if enough people vote.

The money ($1 MILLION! That's a lot!) will be used for the launch of IM Alive, an online suicide crisis call center. 100% of the staff of IM Alive will be certified by the QPR Institute, and it will run 24/7 and should be available to anyone with internet access. Basically, it will be an Instant Message- based version of 1-800-SUICIDE.

If you think the idea of an online suicide crisis center is "silly", or "not needed", consider this- about 1/3 of people who call 1-800-SUICIDE hang up as soon as they hear a human voice. How many people do you think are so nervous that they hang up before someone picks up, or maybe they don't even call in the first place? How many people may have committed suicide because they didn't get the help that they need?

IM Alive could change that. Some people feel much more at ease talking online, and so an suicide crisis center that's instant-message based could make these people feel more comfortable in terms of reaching out.

IM Alive won't just be "send an AIM to this screenname"- it will have a custom-built instant-message platform, and as previously said will have 100% of its staff certified by the QPR Institute (training is approximately 50 hours, plus required service- I believe quite similar to the training required to work at 1-800-SUICIDE, except it's all online).

Some people may disagree, but I believe- and I believe very strongly- that suicide is preventable. But suicide is only preventable if people who are having suicidal thoughts reach out for help, and IM Alive could give people another way to reach out. IM Alive could help prevent suicides. Please vote for TWLOHA so they can get the money they need to launch it.

Become a fan of Chase Community Giving here-

A few clicks will help @TWLOHA win $1 Million for suicide prevention. Please share this with others. Vote here:

Attend the facebook event here-

Please vote, share this event with your friends, set it as your facebook, myspace, or twitter status... do whatever you can so TWLOHA can win the money to launch IM Alive!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Awesome Thing #1- Discovering a new song by your favorite band

Yesterday (er, two days ago) I discovered the song "You're Gone" by Good Charlotte.

Now, I've been a huge Good Charlotte fan since I bought their second album, The Young and the Hopeless, when I was in sixth grade (2003). I bought their first (self-titled) album later that year. In October of 2004, when they released their third album, The Chronicles of Life and Death, originally I was going to wait a few days to buy it, but my dad bought me a copy of the CD the day it was released (he also started singing "I Just Wanna Live" around the house, but that's a different story). A few months later, I went on eBay and got 4 CDs worth of Good Charlotte bonus tracks/b-sides, demos, live songs, and acoustic versions. Win.

Less than two years later, Good Charlotte started hyping their fourth album, which was to be titled Good Morning Revival. Of course, I pre-ordered a copy as soon as I could, but when I found out, about 10 days before the release date (which was March 27, 2007), that someone had leaked the entire album online (I think it was released earlier in Japan or something), of course I downloaded it (okay, it was an illegal download; however, I paid for the CD, so I didn't feel too bad about not wanting to wait). The illegal download came with two bonus tracks- "Face The Strange" and "Jealousy". I heard about another supposed bonus track called "You're Gone", but I didn't bother looking it up (I'd heard "Jealousy" was actually called "You're Gone" so I never bothered looking for the song called "You're Gone"... also I was lazy).

The other day, I was on Youtube, and stumbled upon a Good Charlotte song I had never heard before- "You're Gone" (no, not the song "Jealousy"). It was so cool. I loved the song, and the fact that it was "new" to me was awesome. This brings me to Awesome Thing #1- discovering a new song by your favorite band. I mean, it's great listening to all the album material by your favorite band. But finding an old, unheard of track is like finding a piece of previously unearthed gold- sure, you're not the first to hear the song, infact many people have heard it already, but there's something about finding an older song (preferably a b-side, bonus track, demo, or unreleased song- like "You're Gone") by your favorite band that's supremely satisfying.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tomorrow Holds Such Better Days

I'm really not sure why I'm posting this story here. I've never posted a story I've written on my personal blog before, but for some reason I guess I figured it would be a good idea.


Author's Note- This story was inspired by the song "Adam's Song" by Blink-182. It's not a word-for-word interpretation of the song, as some song-fics are.

The lines in italics (except those right after Adam wakes up, and right at the very end) are the letter Adam is writing. Strike-outs mean he's crossed out the word or words.

This story was written pretty quickly, so forgive me if it isn't perfect , but I really felt like it was a good idea to publish it now. The story was pretty rushed, but something told me to publish it. A revised version isn't impossible in the future.

I hope you like the story. Please comment if you do.


"Fuck it," I said. "Fuck it."

I was fed up. Fed up with life. I had been depressed for a year, and it wasn't getting any better. I was in pain all the time, and finally, I decided to do something about it.

It's funny, really, the way my life is about to end. Out of all my friends, I was always the one who was happy, smiling and laughing. I'd had a great sense of humor, and though my grades were (at one point) respectable, I was a class clown. I was the class clown. I lived to make people laugh, to make them smile. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, but it never felt like it mattered.

But that all changed one September, two months after I turned sixteen. I had just started eleventh grade, and all of a sudden… things were different. School was tougher, and more stressful. I didn't want to disappoint my parents, or myself, or my teachers, so I tried to work, but I couldn't- I just couldn't. I felt like the only one in the world, or at least the only one in my small San Diego suburb, who didn't know exactly what they wanted to do after high school. My grades slipped- first a little, and then they hit rock bottom.

I stopped laughing. I didn't want to think about the future, and I figured- if I didn't have a plan for the future, that would be okay, since my life could end early anyway. It became harder and harder to get out of bed. I wasn't sure if my parents realized anything was "wrong" with me, but did it even matter? No matter how amazing and loving they were to me, they fought with each other, and nothing they did could cure my depression.

So I began writing my letter to say goodbye.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Dear Mom, Dad, Farky, Jeff, and Josie,

Dear Mom, Dad, Josie, Farky, and Mr. Jones,

Dear Josie, Mr. Jones, Ryan, Matt, and Dave,

Dear Everyone,

If you haven't noticed, ever since the start of junior year, I've basically been not myselfupset pissy acting like I have PMS- suici- depressed.

I'm not sure if any of you will care


I know you'll miss me, but I'm sorry I just couldn't do this anymore.

Does it even matter that I'm dying? God, I don't know. I loved life at one point, but eventually, it was just too much.

Every day after school, I'd just come home and sit in my room, staring at the ceiling. I used to skateboard to and from school, but then I stopped enjoying it, so I just walked. The town's streets were made for skateboarders, but that no longer mattered to me.

Skateboarding wasn't the only thing that I had lost my love for. Everything that used to matter to me- school, my guitar, the school newspaper. I wasn't very good at the guitar, but I had fun playing it nonetheless. I had been playing it outside of school when I met Josie. I couldn't get rid of it, even if I was never destined to be a rock star. Even if I no longer played it again.

I longed to feel normal, to feel happy, to be the guy that I used to be, before eleventh grade. Before I became depressed. Before I started wanting to die, before I became… not me.

The truth was, I was a coward. I never faced my problems. Once upon a time, I loved life. But then the pain became too much, and I couldn't deal with it anymore, so made the decision to end my life.

It's not your fault, Mom and Dad. It's just that life became too much pain for me to handle, and I had to go.

The pain inside was too much to bear, and after almost a year of it not getting any better, I couldn't take it. Sixteen was horrible. Who's to say seventeen would be any better?

It's funny, really, the way my life is about to end. But does it matter? Six months from now, I'll be long gone. Dead, buried in a box six feet under, beyond all of this.

Six months from now, everyone will have

In six months, you'll probably

Eventually, everyone

I know this is going to hurt you, but I know that eventually, you will pull through, and you will all forget about my death, or at least get past it.

Also, please don't throw away my things. Give everything I own to Give all my stuff to

Give my guitar, my notebooks, that Rancid t-shirt I used to wear all the time, and my Converse, to Josie. Give my CDs and my stereo to Jeff. Give my t-shirts, my jeans, and the rest of my clothes to Dave. Give my studded belts, that Dickies messenger bag, and the wood things I made at day camp to Matt. Give my skateboard and the posters on my walls to Ryan. Also, give him the picture of the two of us that he took at Warped Tour last year.

Ryan and I had gone to Warped Tour together every year since we were twelve. It had become a tradition. I knew he'd want the picture. It was the last time I remembered being myself- being Adam.

Since then, I didn't know who I'd become. But I wasn't myself. And I hated it.

Mom and Dad, I know it's going to be too hard for you, so please, once you clear my stuff out, please, don't go in to my room again. Just close the door. Lock it. Board it up, if you have to. Leave my room alone. I know this hard, but it'll just make it harder if you're in there.

I could imagine my mom, sitting on my bed, staring at my empty, poster-less walls, crying her eyes out. I couldn't let that happen.

Jeff, remember that time when I was eight and you were six, and I spilled that cup of apple juice in the hall?

There had been a cup full of apple juice, sitting outside of my bedroom door. Jeff knocked on the door, and I opened it.

"Mom says it's time for dinner," he'd said. I had followed him downstairs, and, in the process, knocked over the cup of apple juice.

I'd blamed the incident on Jeff at the time, but my mom, who had put the juice there (I'd said I was thirsty, but I was in a "phase" where I didn't want to come out of my room), blamed it on herself.

The truth was, though, it wasn't Jeff's fault, or my mom's. It was my own.

Jeff, I'm sorry I blamed you it was my fault just like that time, this isn't your fault. It's not Mom's fault either, but please, tell her. If she hears in your words that I said it's not her fault, then I know she'll believe it.


There was enough pain, but I was done. Done. I was done with life, and soon, it'd all be over with.

I don't really have anything else to say. You're all probably wondering why I did this, and the reason is because I just couldn't take it anymore.

So I guess that's all.


I swallowed a handful of pills, and for good measure, using the razor blade my dad had given me when I first started to get facial hair, made a nice, deep cut across my wrist.

I lied down on my bed. I was tired. Everything looked fuzzy, and I just sat there bleeding, for several minutes.

Then I heard someone shout, "Adam!" and suddenly, everything was black.


I blinked my eyes a few times, unsure of what I was seeing, then opened them fully. All I could see above me was white, and I was in a warm, comfortable bed.

Is this heaven?

I blinked again, and then turned to the right where I saw my mom.

Why is mom in heaven? She's still alive, right?


"Adam?" her comforting voice said. "Oh, Adam! Adam, how are you feeling?" she asked soothingly.

"Is this heaven?" I asked.

"No," she replied, "you're in the hospital."

"What- what happened?"

"You swallowed some pills, and there was a pretty big cut on your wrist. Josie called 911. The paramedics took you to the hospital. Adam, they- they found a letter," my mom's normally confident voice was shaky. "Adam, you tried to kill yourself."

"So... I'm alive?"

"Yes, you're alive."

"What time is it?" I asked.

"Just after seven in the morning."

"Morning?" I asked. "What day is it? How long have I been out for?"

"About seven hours. Josie came by and found out just after midnight- she wanted to be the first to see you on your birthday."

My birthday. God. I used to love my birthday, and yet I had almost missed this one.

"She's here, too, and Dad and Jeff." I sat up a bit, and looked around.

"Ryan's on his way," Josie said. "He wants to see you. We all do. I can't believe you almost left us."

"I can't believe I'm alive," I admitted.

"I can't believe you almost died," Josie replied. "I love you, Adam."


"Adam!" My best friend Ryan interrupted, as he burst into the hospital room and ran over to the bed. "Man, are you okay?"

"I guess I'm okay now."

"I had no idea you felt so-"


"- yeah. Adam, why didn't you talk to me about it?" Ryan's normally cheerful expression became one of concern. "I'm your best friend."

"And I'm your girlfriend. You can talk to me about anything," Josie added.

"I- I know, it's just-" I struggled to say. "I don't know."

"I can't believe you did this, but you're okay now, right? I mean you're not going to…" Ryan's words trailed off.

"I don't know if I'm okay now."

"But you will be, Adam, right? I've known you forever, I know you'll…" again, Ryan was unable to finish his sentence.

"I know you'll be able to be the person you were before you started feeling this way," Josie said.

"I hope so." I said. There was a silence after that, which was slightly awkward. I loved Josie and Ryan- Josie was my girlfriend of nearly two years, and Ryan had been my best friend practically since birth- but right now, I just wanted to be alone with my mom and dad.

"Ryan, Josie, I think Adam wants to be alone with us," my mom said, referring to herself and my dad. "Can you take Jeff to get some coffee?"

Without word, Ryan and Josie left the room with Jeff.

"Adam, I wish you would've spoken to us about this," said my dad, who had been silent the whole time. "If we had known how you were feeling, we would've gotten you help."

"I know, it's just-" I sighed. "Ever since the beginning of junior year, I just started feeling depressed. I was scared of the future, and everything was stressing me out. Being sixteen was great at first, but then it was just…" I didn't know how to finish the sentence, so I started a new one. "I thought I could do this alone. But I couldn't. I thought I'd be fine, I thought I'd be happier eventually. But I wasn't. Sixteen was so horrible, how did I know things would get better at seventeen? So I gave up."

"But why, Adam? Why didn't you just talk to someone, if not us, Josie, or Ryan, or Mr. Jones?" Mr. Jones was my English teacher sophomore year, and the faculty advisor for the school newspaper. Even after I stopped writing for the paper when I became depressed, I still went to talk to him after school all the time. I never told him how I was feeling, but did he know anyway?

"Because I'm a coward," I admitted. "I didn't have the guts to go tell someone how I was feeling. I thought it would mean I was weak. So when I couldn't take it anymore, I just…" I saw my mom's eyes fill with tears. My dad's eyes were shining, too.

"Oh, Adam," my mom said, pulling me tightly in a hug. "Adam, we love you so much, don't you understand that? We're going to get you help. We're going to make sure you get better." I smiled a half-smile.

"Thanks," I said.

"We love you," my dad told me. "I love you. Your mom loves you. Jeff loves you. Josie loves you. Ryan, Dave, and Matt, they all love you, too."

"I- I love you guys too," I admitted.

"You know, by the way, Adam," he replied, "today's July eighteenth. You're seventeen now."

I was seventeen. I had lived to the age of seventeen. I was alive. Sixteen was over, and as sure as I had been that seventeen would be no better, I knew I now had to give it a shot. I would get help, and maybe things would get better.

But I was seventeen. Seventeen years old, and I, Adam, was alive.


It was awhile before they let me out of the hospital. I was on suicide watch at first, and spoke with multiple doctors- physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists- as they tried to figure out what had been wrong with me (depression was the conclusion). The day after they left me out, Ryan and I went to the Warped Tour together. Not only did we get to see all of our favorite bands, we even got to meet some of them. Out of all the times we had been to Warped, that time was the best.

After we got back, Dave invited us over to his house for pizza. But I declined the invitation; I wanted to go home, and be in my room.

Only this time, I didn't want to just sit on my bed and stare at the ceiling lifelessly. I wanted to sit down, and figure out what I was going to do after high school. I had decided I wanted to be a journalist, and now that I knew where I was going, it was only a matter of figuring out how to get there. The future didn't scare me anymore, because I knew that whatever happened, it would be better than the past.

It's funny, really, the way my life almost ended. But I'm still here, and I'm not sixteen anymore. I'm seventeen, and I'm alive. What happened in eleventh grade, and the pain I felt inside, is behind me now. Sixteen was hard, but I know that tomorrow holds better days.


I never conquered, rarely came
Tomorrow holds such better days.


Author's Note- So, what did you think of "Tomorrow Holds Such Better Days"? I hope you liked it!

This story was inspired by "Adam's Song" by Blink-182. I didn't interpret it 100% word-for-word; I feel like if I had done that, it would've felt forced.

Exactly how the song "ends", I'm not positive. The kid- who I assume was named Adam- that it was written about apparently did go through with suicide. In Mark Hoppus's words "there are better things to do than kill yourself"- so maybe the character in the song didn't end up killing himself.

Either way, I knew that I wanted to tell a story of hope, that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel that, for Adam, happens at age sixteen? I didn't want to write a depressing story, that ended with a suicide. I wanted to write a story that would showcase that even after you have lost hope, it is possible to find it again.

The first short story I ever wrote was "Hold On", inspired by the Good Charlotte song of the same name. Again, that one deals with suicide and depression, only the main character doesn't go through with her attempt. However, I realize now that it's kind of a mess. I interpreted the song just about 100% word-for-word in that case. I tried to be a little less literal with "Tomorrow", which I think worked better.

Also, yes, the name Josie was taken from the Blink-182 song of the same name. Josie apparently wasn't a real girl, more of an idea of Mark Hoppus's "perfect girl". I imagine that Adam was absolutely smitten with Josie, but that he tried to push her away when he started feeling depressed, who, in his case, is "real". Props to anyone who figures out where I got the names of Adam's friends (Ryan, Dave, Matt).

If you are considering suicide, please, please, please reconsider. I know it might not seem like it now but there are better solutions to your problems. Please, talk to someone. Talk to a parent, friend, teacher, counselor, anyone you trust, or even call a hotline such as 1-800-SUICIDE. It's okay to get help. I know you may be skeptical, but getting help works- I'm living proof.

I really hope you enjoyed this story. Please comment and let me know what you thought.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Completed?"- YES!- Three and a half years later...

So, three and a half years ago (June 2006), I began work on a story called "Faded, Stupid, and Reckless" (title inspired by the song "Jaded" by Mest). It was a young adult romance. One year and 70,000 words (or so) later, in June 2007, it was finished. Soon after, I wrote a short "companion" piece- basically an epilogue to the story. I told myself I wouldn't write a sequel- "what's the point?", I'd said- and for the next year (year!), I didn't even think about it. But I couldn't let the story go completely. Instead, I let it rest for a few months, and in printed it out in March 2008. I read through the entire thing, start to finish, and later took a red pen to it- correcting grammar mistakes; crossing out unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs; rearranging things that didn't make sense.

In September 2008, I started the sequel to "Faded, Stupid, and Reckless", "Life's Waiting To Begin" (title from "The Adventure" by Angels & Airwaves). Both stories are definitely inspired by their titular songs, although there are other songs that have served as a soundtrack to both stories. I wrote down a list of songs that had served as inspiration for "Faded, Stupid, and Reckless" and created a soundtrack, which is fun for me to listen to.

The story centers around two main characters- I'll call them P and K for short. I've been writing about P and K for three and a half years. Their story spans over a decade (in fictional time) and is over 90,000 words long.

I've grown up with P and K, in a way. I created these characters when I was 14 (almost 15) years old, and this past August, I turned 18. These characters feel so real to me- of course, they're just words on a page, but they've existed for a pretty long time (I've been writing fiction for almost five years; P and K are the characters that I've written about the longest).

I've known for over a year how I wanted to end "Life's Waiting To Begin", and in fact had the "finale", or last chapter, already written out. And today, I finally finished it. I feel so accomplished now, to have finally finished a story that I've been working on for so long. I've known pretty much since I started writing "Life's Waiting To Begin" how I wanted the story to end, but the fact that it's actually complete now is so crazy to me. It feels good. It feels amazing.

It's weird, though. Because for a long time, like, after I was done with my homework and everything else I had to do for the day, I'd tell myself, "Okay. I should probably work on 'Faded, Stupid, and Reckless'/ 'Life's Waiting To Begin'." Only now, it's all done. I'll still be writing, of course. I just won't be writing *this* story, which is weird (I always feel this way after finishing a story, only this time, it's on a bigger scale because I was working on this one for so long). I'm not sure what I'll write next. Often, after I finish a story, I'll take a break from writing for awhile (that most definitely happened after I finished "Faded, Stupid, and Reckless"- I wrote almost nothing at all for a few months). But not always. I've been writing a lot for the past few days, and I sort of have that "fire" in me. So it's not unthinkable that I'll be working on something else (possibly even starting something new) soon.

The above is a screenshot of the uploader page where I've published "Life's Waiting To Begin". On the left hand side, you can see the chapter titles. On the right hand side at the top of the page (which you can't see in the picture), it asks if the story is completed. And today, I was finally able to click "YES"- yes, "Life's Waiting To Begin" is completed.

To add to my feelings of accomplishment: I'm off crutches! I've still gotta wear a knee brace like the one below, but not being on crutches is liberating, since I can finally do some things for myself.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Knee Injury #3

I have made allusions to it in other recent posts, but if you haven't caught on, I had my third semi-serious (serious? I'm not sure what to call it, but it wasn't minor!) injury to my knee on October 1.

I used to do gymnastics. In March 2006, I tore my meniscus in my right knee while hurdling before a vault. I had surgery (just an arthroscopy- basically, they snipped off the piece of cartilage that had been torn) in late April 06, but it was a really fast recovery- I was walking without crutches the next day, and in physical therapy for only a month. I was able to dance in a recital less than a month after the surgery.

I went back to gymnastics in July 06. My third day back, I tore my meniscus and ACL in my left knee (landing a front handspring... on the Tumbl Trak). I had surgery (meniscus repair and ACL repair- they used a patellar tendon graft and now I have 2 screws in that knee) in September 06. I was in physical therapy for about 7 months, but it wasn't until about a year later- September 07- that I was 100% back to normal (before that, I had to wear a knee brace while dancing and doing other activities). July 06 was the end of my gymnastics "career", although since then I've been able to occasionally go on my backyard trampoline at home- wearing the knee brace, of course, and only doing what I'm confident I can do.

This fall, I joined my college's cheerleading team. I haven't been tumbling (I wanted to, but I knew it wasn't the best idea, at least until I spent a few months really focusing on getting my legs strong).

On October 1 at practice, I was front-spotting a liberty (if you don't speak cheer- click here for a pic) - basically, I was holding the wrists of the girls that were holding the foot of the girl on top). The flyer sort of wobbled, and came right at me. I tried to catch her... and my right knee just buckled. It twisted, or something, and it made a noise- I wanted to say it sounded (and felt) like something had shattered. I stood there shocked and then just collapsed to the floor, crying and in pain. My coach and another cheerleader helped me off the mat (I literally had to hop- my knee was so painful, and so incredibly unstable, that I couldn't put any weight on it at all).

I rode in the ambulance to the ER (which, luckily, was just down the block- literally). They did an xray, and nothing showed up wrong on the xray, so I'm supposed to see an orthopedist this week. But I knew from experience that "no broken bones" isn't always a good thing in terms of injury diagnosis.

But until I saw the orthopedist, I'm in a knee brace and on crutches. I hate being on crutches, but I really couldn't walk without them. The swelling has gone down, but the knee is still REALLY unstable. I couldn't bend my knee all the way, but I couldn't completely straighten it either (my knees normally hyperextend a lot, and I can't do that). The ER doctor prescribed Naprosyn, which helps with the pain and swelling, but by the time it started to wear off (I take it at breakfast and bedtime, so usually midafternoon/dinner) my knee starts to feel really, really sore. I hated being on crutches. I hated not being able to do anything for myself- when I go to the cafeteria, I had to get someone to carry my food for me; if I drop something on the floor, I often need someone else to pick it up for me. All of my classes are on my campus's main quad, which is almost a mile from my dorm. Luckily, I'm able to get rides from campus security (which I am amazingly thankful for), but it sucks having to wait for someone to pick me up and not being able to walk back with my friends.

I saw an orthopedist on October 6. She said my ACL felt "loose", but so did the ACL on my "good knee" (the left knee, which has been reconstructed in 2006). So, she ordered an MRI. I had the MRI on October 9. They weren't able to see anything right away, but there was a ridiculous amount of fluid, they said. On October 12, I got a call from the orthopedist, confirming that I had a torn ACL and (as if that wasn't enough) torn lateral meniscus. I was still on crutches and in the immoblizer, although a few days later I was allowed to exchange the immoblizer for a neoprene sleeve (which made my life SO much easier).

I went home that weekend, and saw my home orthopedist. He brought up the images from my MRI (which I had delivered on a CD), and let me look at them. We tentatively scheduled surgery for a few days after New Years. Oh, and he said I could get off crutches as soon as my quads were strong enough, which they were. So no more crutches, but I did bring them back with me when I went back to college. I also got a hinged knee brace- pretty darn fancy, haha.

Fast forward a week. I was at a club meeting, literally standing around, when I must've taken a bad step, or something, and I felt this sudden, horrible pain on the inside of my knee. I knew I wasn't okay, so my friend helped me get back to my dorm (we were able to get a ride, but she helped me get to the car and then to my room). I was on crutches for the rest of that evening, but was able to walk the next day. Of course, I was in so much pain that I called my parents multiple times, and eventually ended up with prescriptions for Tramadol and Naprosyn.

On Halloween, I took the Tramadol without food (BIG MISTAKE), and felt so sick I couldn't go out (unfortunate, but at least I had been able to go to a costume party the night before).

A few days later, on my way in to work, I slipped and fell, barely avoiding another visit to the ER (the police officer who I waived over to help me actually called an ambulance to come get me, but I didn't actually go to the hospital). I was on crutches the rest of that day, but felt a lot better by the next morning. After I told my home, we talked to my hometown orthopedist and the dean at my college, and decided that it would be best if I could get the surgery earlier, so I'm not scheduled for December 3.

Since then, my pain has been on and off. I do leg exercises a few times a day, after which I ice it. I can't take the stairs normally, but at least my dorm building has an elevator (that only breaks sometimes... ugh). Recently I've been having a lot of pain in my shin. I'm not sure why. Ice helps, though. Since the surgery is so near, I can't take anti-inflammatories (that is, Naprosyn or Advil) anymore. I've been having more pain than I had before, but it's only a few more days till I get it fixed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things Worth Doing

So I've been at college for over 3 months now (okay, I went home for a long weekend in October, but that's it!). In that time, I've done a lot of things. Some of them, I never thought I'd do, or at least I never thought they'd be worth it. I'd like to share with you some things that I've done (some since I've been at college; some from before then) that I think are completely, 100% worth doing.
  1. Volunteering for a non-profit charity/ organization that means something to you. Volunteering for any non-profit is rewarding. Knowing that you're helping people- whether you're helping to organize a 5K to raise money for cancer research, or giving food to people that don't have any, or anything else- is amazing. You might not be doing everything, but you could be doing a lot, and you're making a difference. Really. But if you want to get the MOST out of volunteering, then try volunteering for an organization that means something to YOU, personally. What does that mean? That means that you find a cause or an issue that strikes YOU as something that needs to be "changed" or "fixed", and find an organization that does something to change or fix the issue. For me, one of the issues that strikes me as something important is the stigma of seeking help for mental illness, and the fact that because of that, many people don't seek help when they really need it. So that's why I'm getting involved with organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), The Jed Foundation, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), and MTV's social campaign Half of Us. Knowing that I'm helping a cause that means so much to me is such a good feeling.
  2. Going to class. Seriously. Once you're in college, especially if it's a big lecture (introductory math and science classes usually are), it's pretty easy to skip class. You can tell yourself it doesn't matter- you'll get the notes from a friend, or do the reading "later". But you (probably) won't. And your grades will, therefore, suffer. I know a lot of people in my introductory chemistry class that skip class a lot. A lot of people are also not doing well in the class- many are failing. Not surprisingly, a lot of the people that aren't doing well (not all, but a lot) are the ones not going to class. I go to class. I'm not doing spectacular, but I go to class, pay attention, take notes, and do the homework, and my grades are better than a lot of people's are. I'm thinking there might be a correlation. Seriously, if you go to class, you're forced to, you know, learn. Which is kind of the whole point of school.
  3. Doing your homework. In correlation with the above post, if you don't do your homework, you won't learn the material. It's true. Look at it this week- you might have piano lessons a few times a week, but in order to really get anywhere, you need to practice on your own outside of that. Math class may be a few times a week, and going to class is necessary, but you have to practice math outside of class- that is, do your homework- in order to really learn it.
  4. Taking Computer programming. Unless you're a computer science or engineering major, it probably has nothing to do with your actual major. However, computer programming really does teach you to think. A huge part of knowing how to program a computer is being able to think logically and come up with an algorithm to solve a problem. My computer programming class may or may not be related to my major, but I'm glad I'm taking it. An introductory class really doesn't involve much math (knowing some algebra is helpful- in most cases that's a prerequisite- but for "Java 101" or the like, advanced math shouldn't be necessary). For my computer programming class, our assignments consist of a "problem" or question- for example, write a program that takes a list of 100 randomly generated numbers between 10 and 100, and print out a numerically-ordered list of all even numbers. In order to do that, you have to break the problem down in to steps- first, determine which numbers are even, and then save them into a separate sub-list; then, determine the lowest number and place it at the beginning of the sub-list; then, determine the next-lowest number, etc. Or maybe it makes more sense to sort the list (determine the lowest number and place it first, then determine the next-lowest number, etc.) first, and after that take out the numbers that aren't even. Get the idea?
  5. Not tearing your ACL. I know, tearing your ACL sounds like fun (everyone's doing it these days... haha), but it's really not. First, the injury is painful, and you might not be able to walk afterwards (the first time I tore my ACL, I was able to walk- carefully- a few hours later, but the second time, I was on crutches for 19 days, on doctor's orders). Second, there's a good chance that if you tear your ACL, you'll get other injuries too (such as a torn PCL, MCL, LCL, medial or lateral meniscus, or a bruised bone)- most people get some kind of secondary injury with the torn ACL. Third, the recovery is pretty long- it's usually at least a month wait until surgery (you have to see an orthopedist to diagnose the injury, usually get an MRI to confirm, and wait for the swelling to go down and range of motion to come back)- often more; then you've got several months of physical therapy; and even after that, it's awhile until you're 100% back to the way you were before the injury. Seriously. Don't tear your ACL. Or your achilles tendon. Don't break a bone either. Injuries suck.
  6. Going to that toga/theme party. Just do it. Why? Because it's a toga party, and there might be more, but heck- why not? Go with a group of people (and stay with a group of people- it's just common sense; don't drink/eat anything that you didn't see opened and poured; you know the drill). Theme parties- any kind where you dress up, whether it be toga, luau, or a specific decade- are fun. Plus, even if the party isn't great, dressing up (at least for girls) is a lot of fun.
  7. Driving 3 hours to see a band that had previously been broken up for 4 years and which you had never seen live before. By this, I'm referring to the fact that I drove 3 hours with one of my best friends to see Blink-182 this summer. The tickets weren't cheap, and on top of that we had to pay for a hotel and gas and food. But every single cent was worth it. I had never seen Blink-182 pre-break-up, so getting to see them live this summer? Yeah. Amazing. They played all of their best songs, and Tom, Mark, and Travis are seriously awesome performers. They know how to work an audience. It rained pretty much the whole time they were on stage, but it was possibly the best concert I had ever been to.
  8. Learning how to cook and bake. Seriously. Once you can drive, if you can cook for yourself, then you're practically there on the way to independence. You don't have to be an expert chef, but if you can read and follow a recipe, you're good. Extra points if you can "throw something together" without a specific recipe, or write your own recipe. I've done it, and it's not as hard as you might think. Learn how to wash, peel, and chop fruits and vegetables. Learn how to make grilled cheese, pancakes, and scrambled eggs. Learn how to make cookies, brownies, and cupcakes (from mix; kudos if you can do it from scratch). I've been cooking for as long as I could remember, and it's so awesome to be able to not have to rely on someone else to do that for me.
Of course, there are other things that I've done that I think are worth doing. But more later.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pick Up The Phone

I'm a huge supporter of the organization To Write Love On Her Arms (as you may have noticed from some of my recent posts). Their mission statement, if you're not familiar with it, is: "To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." I really couldn't put it in any better words.

I've never had the chance to go to a TWLOHA event, so I was TOTALLY excited when I heard about the Pick Up The Phone tour, featuring Blue October with opener B.O.B. The Pick Up The Phone tour was dedicated to suicide prevention, with people from 1-800-SUICIDE, TWLOHA, and PostSecret scheduled to be at the events. The tour was going to come to the House of Blues- just a quick bus ride from campus- on November 15. I definitely wanted to go.

I didn't purchase a ticket right away. In fact, it turns out that TWLOHA needed volunteers (18 and over, and able to get to/from the event) to help out at the event! I don't think I could explain in words how excited I was. Naturally, I sent an email and filled out a volunteer application. I was so, so excited to actually volunteer for an organization that means so much to me. I have had previous non-profit experience, but it was "behind-the-scenes"; I was so ready for the opportunity to go "out there" and meet people and tell them about To Write Love on Her Arms. Going to the event and meeting members of the TWLOHA would've been cool, but actually volunteering and knowing how much I would've helped? Yeah, that would've been pretty much amazing.

However, not long after that, I found out that the Pick Up The Phone tour had been cancelled, due to Blue October's lead singer, Justin Furstenfeld, being hospitalized due to an extreme anxiety attack. I was definitely a little upset that the tour had been cancelled, because I had really been looking forward to volunteering. But having struggled with mental health issues myself (I won't go in to detail here), I know that you can't always control it, and sometimes the best thing to do really is to rest. It is so, so important to get treatment.

So that was awhile ago. Today (okay, yesterday, be technical) was the date the show was going to be. I wish it could've happened, but I really think Justin did the right thing, and I know that it is important for him to heal.

For anyone struggling with mental health issues- whether it is depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, recovering from abuse of any form, self-injury, anxiety, addiction, suicide, or anything else- please, get help. Reaching out can be the hardest thing in the world. But please, please, please do it. If you are struggling with any of these things, please be aware that you are not alone.
Recovery is not easy, but it is possible. I promise. I've held off on the cheesiness till now, but if you are in a crisis, please, please, please "pick up the phone" and call 1-800-SUICIDE (or any other hotline). Or talk to a friend, a parent, a teacher, a counselor. Just reach out.

"Presenting hope" to those dealing with mental illness may seem like a small thing, but it in no way is. I don't think it's possible to measure the impact of TWLOHA directly, but I think it's pretty clear that they've had a big impact. Friday was "To Write Love on Her Arms Day". I wrote "LOVE" on my arm, and if anyone questioned it, I'd planned to tell them all about the organization, and write "LOVE" on their arm. But I didn't get to write "LOVE" on anyone else's arm. Why? Because just about everyone I knew had already done it themselves.

I would like to add that you do NOT need to have personal experience dealing with any of the aforementioned issues in order to support TWLOHA, 1-800-Suicide, or any other organization. Writing "LOVE" on your arm, for example, does not mean you yourself have struggled with any type of depression, self-injury, or addiction. It means that you support the organization.