A world of transitions: a personal recollection

Transitions are moments in time where change occurs, where adaptation is required, and growth necessary.

The word “transition” definitely sums up my life these past five months. Transitions have occurred in at least three realms of my life: personally , academically, and occupationally.

Personally, these five months have been the most difficult and rewarding period of my life. The difficulty stems from witnessing my grandfather’s death in March due to pancreatic cancer. The grieving and loss my family endured, and continue to experience, have not left our hearts. The emptiness we feel will remain to be with us as we recall heartwarming memories of him, and wish for his presence as we move on to experience major life events. On the other hand, the rewarding moments center around moving from Los Angeles back to Northern California and beginning my career as a social worker. In addition to the eight hour move, I have also experienced and revisited joy in the special relationships that remain close to my heart.

I believe in order for someone to know what happiness and joy feels like, one must know sadness and grief.

Academically, I graduated with my masters. Completing my masters degree was not solely reliant upon writing 24 page papers or attend class. The achievement of earning my degree also involved developing lifelong friendships, searching for the person I wanted to become, and learning how to remove myself from negative relationships.

Occupationally, I experienced the ideal outcome of the job searching process: I accepted a job offer at an amazing non-profit agency as a wraparound social worker. The process and preparation that it took for me to receive this job offer began in November 2013. I utilized LinkedIn (professional version of Facebook), spoke with colleagues and mentors to learn how they approached and managed the job searching process, joined seven job search engines (i.e. Monster, Career Builder, and more), and made numerous versions of my resume and cover letter. I also researched organizations and agencies I was interested in working for in Northern California. As I believe, my preparation met opportunity perfectly: I received an invitation for my first, and then my second, interview. In April 2014, I happily accepted my position. Before May 2014, I was an intern who wanted to be challenged clinically in order to provide the best care possible to the adults I interacted with weekly. Now, I have the ability to continue touching lives of families and witnessing their unrelentless resiliency.

Below are my three tips for surviving the transitions in life:

1) Plan for what you can control, let go of what you can’t control.. while remaining flexible and open to change. 

This step has been a challenging one for even myself to understand sometimes.

No matter how much I may plan for or anticipate an event, reality may be something entirely different. I’ve recently realized that creating a plan typically looks like a guideline of what I want to do, in order to allow myself flexibility. The flexibility that I allow in my plan allows life to occur. For instance, we can NOT control the people in our lives, we can (sometimes) NOT control the timeline of events, and we can NOT fast forward our personal growth, regardless of how much we want something to happen immediately. While you ‘wait’, please provide yourself with the allowance to enjoy life, take a break, practice self-care, and have some fun.

I have also found that having a positive perspective about change is helpful in living through a life transition or in making a big decision. I am not saying to ignore the “negative”. What I mean is to reframe an unprefered situation into one that highlights opportunity for growth and learning. For instance, my move back to Northern California was part of my plan. However, I was anxious for the new chapter of my life. After I acknowledged feeling anxious and a bit scared, I remembered that moving back to Northern California would allow me to be closer to my family and live in a new city.

2) Remain aware of your priorities and goals.

In addition, take deep breaths… alot. Remaining mindful of your priorities (whether they be family or graduation) will provide you with motivation to continue pursuing your goals even when the transitions become overwhelming.

3) Draw upon others’ experiences and mistakes. Learn from them.

Connect or reconnect with someone you trust that has survived a similar transition and inquire about how they prepared, made decisions about their action steps. Utilizing the people in your life or even finding new mentors can assist in easing any anxiety you may experience. Also, it is wonderful to learn from others’ mistakes because then you can save yourself time and energy from making the same mistake.

All in all, life can be crazy, overwhelming, but also fun and memorable. As a mentor told me, “allow yourself to walk through the fire because after you walk through [the fire], you will be a stronger person”.

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“Depression, the Secret we Share” by Andrew Solomon; a TedTalk

“The opposite of depression is not happiness; it’s vitality”- Andrew Solomon

This is an amazing video about depression, both the humanistic experiences of depressive symptoms and the medical/psychiatric realms that interact with the mental illness.

While you watch this, please keep in mind that Solomon’s descriptions of depression are his subjective experiences of living with the illness. However, the stories he shares about what other people have experienced and the research he mentions can be generalized as a way to provide hope and to remind ourselves about the courage that exists in all of us.

Was the suicide a nightmare or real life: a True Story

A few years ago, I woke up and was unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Since it is September and this month is recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, I thought this would be a wonderful time to share this story with you.

The story goes like this:

One night I went to bed after a long day during my undergraduate years. I woke up sleepily from my cell phone ringing.

“Hello?”, I said.

“Hi, Brittany. I am calling to say bye.” Someone I hold very close to my heart was on the other line.

“What are you talking about? What do you mean by ‘bye’? Where are you going?”, I said from disbelief.

The other person stated, “I am going to kill myself. I can’t live like this anymore. I am sorry I have let you down”.

Tears began to stream down my face uncontrollably.

“What? What are you saying? You promised me you wouldn’t. Wait… Please DON’T!”

“I have to.” The phone hung up. My mouth remained open in shock. My heart felt like it stopped beating and time stopped.

The next moment I remember is waking up drenched in sweat and hearing myself scream. What just happened? Did I cry myself back to sleep after that phone call or was that phone call only a dream? A nightmare? It had to be a nightmare!

To make sure what happened was truly a nightmare, I called the person’s cell phone. The next five seconds seemed like eternity. The phone was not being answered fast enough. It must have been…

“Hello, Brittany.”

Oh my God! I heard the person say my name!

“Hello! Is that you?”

“Yes, are you okay? Are you crying? What’s wrong?” I attempted to explain for the next ten minutes what just happened as my tears of happiness overcame me. I then heard, “That will never happen. I promised you that I wouldn’t do that. And I plan to follow through with that promise”.

I began to cry again. “You promise?”

“Yes, I promise”.

 

Luckily, that phone call I experienced was only a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people’s nightmares do really happen in real life. Talking about suicide or discussing one’s thoughts about suicide is nothing to be ashamed of. Discussing the signs and concerns about a loved one or a friend is what can be done to prevent suicide from happening in the first place. For support, for either you, a family member, or a friend, please call:

The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK
The Youth America Hotline: Counseling for Teens by Teens at 1-877-YOUTHLINE
The Trevor Project: Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth at 1-866-488-7386.

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” An Untimely Chaotic Consistency”

I tweeted on July 8th: “The discussions that are most difficult to start, are the most important conversations!”. I then included these: #mentalhealth, #suicide, #domesticviolence, and #rape.

When I wrote this tweet, I was reflecting on all i have heard and all the various emotions I have felt these past months. I learned of my relative’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which has been chipping away at my heart. Also, I heard details about someone’s unimaginable experience that has propelled me into the depths of my fears. I have felt anger, compassion, fear, happiness, madness, and relief. The only way I know how to describe my life this month is “an untimely chaotic consistency”. Yes, that phrase doesn’t make much sense. However, on the other hand, it sort of does.

As a bystander to what I have learned, I attempt to make sense of it all. I attempt to understand how cancer cells can simultaneously deteriorate a family’s center and question a body’s ability to function. I attempt to question and understand the possible limitations of an individual’s strength. Although I am not the one with the cancer diagnosis and I am not the person that has experienced the greatest degree of sexual assault, I am the one that is indirectly impacted from such experiences. These two individuals are people I thought were untouchable.


Maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. What if, these two individuals are touchable in the physical sense, while their souls are impenetrable? Their souls remain intact within the darkness and chaos.

The souls of these individuals are what remain after damage has been done. The soul of my relative is allowing them to continue receiving chemotherapy treatments. the other person’s soul is sustaining their unweathering strength as they move forward in retrieving the power that was taken from them against their will.


This month has been tough. Now that I think about it, the coming months will be the most challenging for these two individuals personally, and for myself indirectly as I witness their fight against the odds. These will be the most emotionally and mentally challenging months ahead. Fortunately, these two individuals will not go through their path towards recovery alone.

* This blog was written for those that have been impacted by a cancer diagnosis  & have either experienced or know someone that has been raped.

Resources:

If you have been raped, please contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) at 1800-656-HOPE. Visit RAINN.org.
Peace Over Violence: http://peaceoverviolence.org/emergency/sexual-assault-rape.
Safe Horizon: http://www.safehorizon.org.
Safe Horizon’s Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline at 212-227-3000 or help@safehorizon.org (please allow 72 hrs for response)
“Rape Is” Support Center: http:www.rapeis.org/support.html
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (24 hour): 1-800-832-1901
National Child Abuse Hotline (24 hour): 1-800-422-4453

Kevin Breel shines light on the True Relationship between Society & Depression

This movie will provide you with truth, honesty, courage, & insight into the experience of depression in our society today.

To watch, please click on the link below:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-kid-thinks-we-could-save-so-many-lives-if-only-it-was-okay-to-say-4-words

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“Every 30 seconds, someone in the world takes their life because of depression”–Kevin Breel