My Trip to the Psych Ward: When Anxiety and Depression Collide

Beneath the question asking about my symptoms, I write the letter “S” and pause.

There are people standing behind me waiting to fill out similar questionnaires, but I don’t want any of them to see me write the word I intend to write. I freeze. I’m hunching over the tall desk, staring at the questions I still have to fill out. A man accidentally bumps into me as he reaches for his own paper of personal, pre-triage questions. The little, yellow pencil in my hand doesn’t have an eraser so there’s no turning back. Or is there?

After the “S,” I scribble down “-everely depressed” with my left hand cupping my fudged answer.

I place the paper right-side-down on the stack of others in the queue. As Ellen Degeneres dances on the small box television bracketed in the corner of the room, I lay my head on Steve’s shoulder.

They call my name, but I don’t want to get up. “Do you want me to go with you?” Steve asks.

I lift my head and open my eyes. “No, I’ll be okay,” I say and immediately regret.

A man asks me run-of-the-mill medical questions, but I can’t really hear anything he’s saying. Every noise coming out of his mouth sounds like muffled mumbling. I lean in and interrupted him. “I’m suicidal,” I whisper.

He doesn’t say anything and instead seizes the phone and dials a number. No one answers.

He hangs up the phone, picks it up again, and dials the same number. I can tell because his hand makes the same rhythm and motions as it had before.

Someone answers this time. “We’ve got a Code 9,” he says. He mumbles something, nods his head, then slams the receiver on its cradle. He doesn’t look at me and instead stares down at his clasped hands resting near his computer keyboard.

Before I have time to ask what’s going to happen, I’m being whisked away by a nurse. “You have to come with me,” she says. She walks so fast; I can’t keep up. I haven’t really slept in days, and I don’t feel like walking fast. “Honey, you’ve got to walk faster,” she says.

I turn my head over my shoulder, while still trying to maintain speed. I see Steve’s silhouette in the waiting room, his back lit by the overhead fluorescents and the sunlight coming in through the big windows. The hallway I’m walking down is dim, and I can’t really see his face. I reach out my hand for him, but he’s 20 feet away. I drop my arm and my hand hits my thigh in defeat.

They place me in a grey room — with nothing except a plastic chair and a hospital bed — and lock the door. I’m alone, cold, and afraid. I begin to cry.

After ten minutes of perching on the hard chair with my knees to my chest and my arms wrapped around, a nurse comes in. She tells me to strip down in front of her and put on a hospital gown. According to her, it’s protocol for them to see me naked so they can see whether I’ve lied to them about hurting myself.

So there I am: stripped of my clothes as well any sliver of self-worth I had left.

They take all of my belongings away. They say it’s because they have to go through my purse and write down every item inside. They take my wallet, my keys, my passport. They take my cell phone. They even take my bra, afraid I might hang myself with it.

A different nurse comes in to take my vitals — a man this time. I ask him if I can see Steve, and he says I can. Elated, I tell him where he is. The nurse says he’ll get him right away.

I have no concept of time in this room. The walls are bare, and there’s no clock. There is, however, a quarter dome safety mirror mounted in the corner and a small, but thick, glass window with wire mesh that nurses peer in every five or so minutes.

I sit on the twin-sized hospital bed and stare at my convex reflection.

I’m lonely sans the privacy.

It feels as if an hour has passed without actually talking to anyone. Thoughts are racing through my head. “I don’t actually want to hurt myself,” I tell myself. “I just wish I were dead.”

Finally, a third nurse comes in. I ask her if the male nurse from before found Steve. She says she doesn’t know because a shift change just occurred and any nurse I spoke to before is gone for the night.

“Did she just say night?” I ask myself internally before asking her if I can see Steve. She nods her head yes and leaves.

Again, I wait. I wonder if I’ll ever get out of here.

Finally, Steve is at the door. We’ve both been crying, but now we’re both smiling. Tears fall down my face as we embrace.

“I don’t think they’re going to let me out of here,” I whisper.

“No matter what happens, everything’s going to be okay,” he says.

A social worker walks in and asks Steve to leave. We both look at each other, and another tear rolls down my cheek. After he closes the door behind him, she asks if he’s ever abused me, physically or emotionally. I gasp and tell her, “Of course not.” She leans in and raises an eyebrow. I’m appalled. “No,” I say. “He’s never hurt me.” After a few more questions, she tells me I’m to be admitted to the hospital, hands me a pamphlet, then leaves.

With Steve back in the room, we read the pamphlet together. It says the average stay in the psychiatric ward is five to seven days, but some patients stay up to a month.

Another male nurse enters the room with a wheelchair. He says it’s time to go.

Steve hugs me tighter than ever before.

The nurse wheels me through a myriad of halls, up walkways, to an elevator. We ride the elevator up a few floors in silence. We travel through more halls, and finally, through a set of two, thick grey doors. As we pass through the second, he puts the brakes on my wheelchair and leaves.

A man wearing a plain blue t-shirt and elastic-waist hospital pants walks toward me down the hallway. He’s holding his arms as he says, “You’re gonna wish you never came here.”

A woman peers out of a hospital room, her fingers wrapped around the door frame. She looks straight at me. This starts a domino effect and soon, four more pairs of eyes are peering at me from their respective doorways.

A nurse appears from behind me and she asks me to follow her. I get up from the wheelchair and we walk past a young woman, maybe in her early 20s. She’s wearing the same blue t-shirt and hospital pants. Her hair is a tangled, frizzy mess and her eyes are some of the saddest I’ve seen. She walks with a slouch while staring at the floor; she’s hunched over so much, her knuckles almost touch the floor.

The nurse and I walk into an interview room. She asks me the same questions every nurse before her has asked me.

“Who the fuck is Elizabeth?” a voice from the hallway yells.

“Oh no,” I whisper to the nurse. She’s typing my information into a laptop and disregards my quiet distress.

A muffled, female voice responds to the first voice, but I can’t understand what she says.

“I can’t really have a roommate right now,” the first voice says. “This isn’t fair.”

The nurse continues typing away, ignoring the happenings just a few feet away on the other side of the door. I ask her what time it is. “It’s almost midnight,” she says as reaches under the desk. She hands me two blue shirts and a toothbrush.

She walks me down a hallway and motions to a room. Beneath the room number, 221, is a nicely written “Ophelia,” and beneath that, a scribbled “Elizabeth.”

Ophelia introduces herself and tells me she’s been here for three days, and that it’s not her first time. She tells me she’s from New Jersey — her accent confirms that. She says she has bipolar disorder, but she stopped taking medication because she “got knocked up” by her boyfriend.

“I guess we’ll get married,” she says while smiling. “But I don’t really love him.”

There are two plain-looking armoires in the room. Ophelia’s claimed the one on the right. I decide not to change into a blue t-shirt quite yet, so I throw them in the one on the left.

The bed I’m sitting on is more like a thin mattress atop a pine box. The white hospital blankets are scratchy. Ophelia won’t stop talking.

I close my eyes and turn my body away from her. There’s no way I can sleep, but I force myself into trying.

I’m still awake, staring at the ceiling. There’s a thin strip of light shining through one of the broken blinds. It’s not direct, so I figure my room isn’t facing east. I wonder which direction it is facing. I close my eyes and finally drift off.

BZZZT. “Attention, patients. It’s 7 o’clock,” says a crackly voice through a loudspeaker on the wall that I hadn’t noticed before. “Breakfast will be served momentarily.”

Turning over to look to my left, I see that Ophelia’s bed is made. There’s a light leaking in from the in-room bathroom because the door doesn’t close all the way. She’s singing in there. Her voice bounces off the ceramic tiles.

I get up and go to the left armoire to grab my t-shirts. I hadn’t noticed it last night, but there’s a message scrawled on the back. In jagged, black letters, it says, “LET ME OUT.” I touch the words with my hands to see if it’s written with eyeliner. It’s smooth though; it must have been written with some kind of marker.

BZZZT. “Attention, patients. Breakfast has arrived on the unit,” the crackly voice says; I jump. “Breakfast … has arrived … on the unit.”

Ophelia’s still in the bathroom, so I decide to quickly change my top. I still don’t have a bra, so I put on both t-shirts.

Not feeling up for food, I lay back down. I must have drifted off again because a few minutes later I awake to Ophelia setting my tray of food on my desk. “Rise and shine, sleepyhead,” she says. “Do you want to go to group?”

I don’t know what that means, and I don’t really care to ask. I shake my head and say, “No, thank you.”

BZZZT. The crackly voice starts up again. “Attention, patients. Groups are starting now,” it says. “If you opt out of group, you must stay in your room until it’s over.” The voice says something about art therapy and yoga. And, I swear, it repeats the options and their respective room locations three times.

“I’m going to art,” Ophelia says. “See you later.” She leaves but she doesn’t close the door behind her, so I shut it.

A few minutes later, a male nurse comes by, opens the door, and props it open.

I fall back asleep.

It’s night time now. I’m happy. Steve is coming to visit. I was able to speak to him briefly using one of three phones mounted on a wall in one of the hallways after lunch. I had just enough time to relay the visiting hours, request he bring me a sports bra (to be approved by a nurse), and tell him I love him.

I can see his face through the thick, glass window on one of the grey doors. They’re checking his ID while he leaves his phone and keys in a locker.

Tears fall as we walk toward each other and hug. I notice he doesn’t have a bag with him, and I start to cry even harder. “Where’s my bra?” I ask through tears. He tells me he was in such a rush to get up to the psychiatric ward, that he forgot the plastic bag of my bra and some other allowed clothing items in the car. “I’m so sorry,” he says. “I asked them when I was back there if I could bring it up to you after visiting hours, and they said yes.” I breathe a sigh of relief.

I show him to the room. Ophelia has a visitor, too — her boyfriend. They laugh and tell jokes while they sit on her bed. Steve and I stare at each other in silence for awhile. We hear someone yell and cry in another room.

“I don’t want to be here,” I tell him quietly.

“You’re stronger than you think,” he says.

Ophelia looks over. “That’s so sweet. Did you hear that?” she asks her boyfriend. “He told her she’s stronger than she thinks.”

BZZZT. “Attention, patients,” the crackly voice says over the intercom. “Visiting hours are now over.”

It’s time for Steve to go, but he assures me he’ll bring my bag of belongings up to the ward as soon as possible.

About thirty minutes later, a nurse brings me a paper bag. She tells me they had to transfer all of the clothes out of the plastic bag because plastic bags aren’t allowed. I seize the paper bag from her. Inside is a bra, a few pairs of underwear and socks, two pairs of sweatpants, and two t-shirts. One of the shirts is Steve’s. I put it on. I’ve never been so grateful for street clothes.

I fall asleep with ease.

After breakfast, I sit back on the bed. A woman comes in and says she’s a doctor. She asks me questions I’d been asked a million times in the past 48 hours. I tell her the same answers I’ve given everyone else. She asks about my childhood, my solo move to New York, and my current financial problems. I lay everything out on the table for her.

After awhile, she tells me I have depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and that the two go hand in hand. She explains that my anxiety makes me feel a loss of control of my life, which in turn makes me depressed, and that the cycle had spiraled. After she writes down all of my information, she tells me she’s going to prescribe me some medication. She gets up to leave. Before she exits, she turns her head over her shoulder and says, “You should really socialize and go to group.”

At this point, I’ve definitely had enough of this place and I want to get out as soon as possible. Maybe if I do what the nurses and doctors want me to do, they’ll let me out of here.

BZZZT. “Attention, patients. Groups are starting now,” the crackly voice says. “If you opt out of group, you must stay in your room until it’s over.” The groups today are art therapy and tai chi.

I like art.

It only takes me five minutes to see that the “art instructor” is nothing but a babysitter who sees to it that we don’t stab ourselves with a pair of safety scissors. We have two options: fashion a tree out of a paper bag, or decoupage tissue paper onto a balloon. I sit in silence.

After a minute or so of rifling through her desk drawers, the art instructor finds two postcards that are made for coloring. A young guy claims the one with sharks on it. I request the other one. The desert scene reminds me of New Mexico, even though it features an armadillo and two saguaro cacti — things that aren’t actually found there. I smile anyway because it’s better than paper trees, decoupaged balloons, and sharks.

As I reach for a green colored pencil, a teenage girl sitting next to me points to my two nose rings. “It’s so unfair that they let you keep yours in,” she says. “They made me take mine out and now I’m afraid it’s going to close up.”

I keep coloring.

As group time comes to a close, I’m still not finished coloring my armadillo. I ask if I can take some colored pencils back to my room. After the art instructor says no, I bargain and ask about markers. I get shot down again.

After group, it’s time for lunch. I’m not allowed to be a vegan while I’m here. And even then, the vegetarian options are limited. I take the lid off my plate and see it’s a salad with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

That evening, I go to another group. This one is called “Dealing with Anxiety.” When the group leader introduces himself as Steve, a sharp pain jolts through my chest. I look at his name tag to see that his name is spelled with a ‘ph’ and not a ‘v.’ I take a deep breath.

Stephen explains to the group that he’s suffered from anxiety before. In the middle of his story, an older woman with wide eyes and unkempt hair starts yelling. “This is bullshit! I don’t want to be here,” she says. “I fucking hate all of you. You’re all crazy!” She’s waving her arms around and it looks like she may hit someone.

Stephen pushes a red button on the wall and two male nurses arrive in the span of a few seconds. They escort her out of the room as she screams.

I open my eyes to see my breakfast tray sitting on my desk. I walk out into the hall to look at the clock. I’ve slept in until 10 o’clock. I must have slept through the BZZZZTs and the crackly voice.

I eat a banana and go back to sleep.

An hour or so later, I awake to the doctor in my room. She’s wrapping up with Ophelia. “Oh, Elizabeth, you’re awake. Good,” she says to me. “Let’s go in the lounge and talk.”

Sitting on the couch, she tells me that she’s glad I’ve been participating in group activities and socializing. She asks me if I want to go home.

“That would be great,” I say, trying not to sound too excited.

“Okay,” she says. “I’ll get all of your paperwork together. You can probably go home around 3 this afternoon, but first, you have to do an exit interview with a nurse and whoever is going to pick you up from the hospital.”

I’m so excited, I may cry. I call Steve from one of the three hall phones. He’s excited as I am.

For the next couple of hours, I walk aimlessly in the halls and pace in the bedroom. I’m badgering nurses, asking them if my paperwork is all set and ready to go and when my exit interview will be. One of them hands me an anonymous survey to fill out on my time here in the psych ward.

Back in the room, I mark the answer to every question as unsatisfactory. Bed? Unsatisfactory. Lounge area? Unsatisfactory. Food? Unsatisfactory. Group activities? Unsatisfactory.

Unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory.

Finally, I’m told it’s time for my exit interview. I can see Steve’s face through the thick, glass window again. I smile.

We walk into an interview room with a nurse who I’ve never seen before. She has a stack of papers in her hand.

She asks Steve questions; she asks me questions. Then she asks Steve how he thinks I’m doing after being in the ward. “Perfect,” he says bluntly.

“Perfect?” she repeats.

“I think she’s doing perfect,” he says.

After being interrogated for a while longer, I’m free to go. Steve gathers his wallet and phone from the locker, and we go through the double grey doors.

We run down the hallways and to the elevator. We run down more hallways. We run out the door. It’s brisk outside and I’m not wearing a jacket. We run to the parking garage. We run so fast and so hard, I start to giggle.

We get in the car. Even though I’m smiling, I cry on Steve’s shoulder for a long time.

He hands me my cell phone. This is probably the longest I’ve been without it. I have dozens of text messages, missed calls, and notifications.

Most of my texts are from Steve.

“I knew you couldn’t see these, but I just had to keep messaging you,” he says. “I missed you so much.”

I smile through the tears.

After more hugging, Steve starts the car and we drive home.

We’re all just faking it

When I was young, I thought all of the adults in my life had all of the answers.

I thought because my mom knew exactly how long to microwave hot pockets without having to look at the instructions on the box, she knew all the secrets to success. “How do they know what to say all the time?” was a common question I internalized when listening to adults speak to each other. They all seemed to have this superpower to memorize strings of numbers: social security numbers, phone numbers, ID numbers, etc. Having a stack of business cards, in my naivety, was equivalent to having stacks of money. And I fantasized that I would one day acquire their abilities.

I put all of the older people in my life on pedestals because these people seemingly knew … well, everything. Everything from the meaning of life, to exactly the direction they were heading with their personal and career endeavors; from what happens to us after we die, to why people suffer. And I thought I would learn all of these things, too.

Now, though, my definition of adulthood is not the moment when you figure everything out, but the moment when you realize no one else has it figured out either.

We’re all faking it. Adults are just better at hiding it.

Think about all the times you’ve lied in response to the question, “How are you?” Even if you were having the most shit day, you’d still make the same exact small talk: “I’m good, and you?” and continue with your shit day. We fake it because we know no one wants to hear our incessant venting. We put on a mask, pretend to enjoy our jobs, then go home and trick ourselves into thinking doing the dishes “isn’t actually that bad.”

Then after we’ve done the dishes, we play video games, watch silly YouTube videos, dance in our underwear, or eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while watching TV.

Adults are just grown-up kids after all.

Sure, when facing obstacles, I try to extrapolate from my (or others’) past experiences in search of a solution or a workaround. I’m not confident, but I think I’ve developed sufficient critical thinking skills to enough “what if” scenarios in order to avoid complete calamity. But in all honesty, there are so many times when I just throw my hands up in the air, say “I have no fucking clue,” and just wing it.

And I’m not alone.

I used to be relatively oblivious. I think of my time prior to my cross-country move to New York — before I gave all of my belongings away, took a low-paying job, knew what it was like to be truly hungry, experienced some of my lowest of lows in life — I was much more naive. I didn’t, on a daily basis, wonder why I was here on this earth when, now, I contemplate my existence every other hour or so.

Why is it only when we’re deprived of our most basic assumptions, we face the absurdity of existence, and ask, “what is this all about, anyway?”

It gets easier, though.

I’ve found solace in realizing no one knows what they’re doing.

But, no, there’s not really an “Adulting 101” class or a self-help book or a DIY tutorial on getting your shit together. As cliche as it sounds, simply doing my best is my number one goal. Some days I fail to reach that goal, but some days I succeed.

And that’s all anyone can really ask of you.

Just 19 funny tweets about becoming an adult




















I asked 9 women what being a 24-year-old was like and here’s what they said

As you may know, I turned 24 this month. Sometimes I look around me — online or IRL — and see other women (and men) my age and I can’t help but compare my life to his/hers. I don’t get out as much as her, I don’t have as many friends as they do, I am not able to go on vacation like a normal person. And I guess this is kind of hinting at what’s known as FOMO (fear of missing out).

I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to others, but it’s sure as hell easier said than done when you see posts on social media of your friends going to live in other countries, or getting a big promotion at work, or starting their own businesses. And it’s not jealousy, per se, because you’re happy for and proud of your friends. It’s just comparison, which, unfortunately, can only lead to feeling inadequate. How am I supposed to find direction and clarity and meaning when I’m feeling inadequate?

Because of these feelings I’ve been experiencing, I decided to ask some friends and family members of mine to tell me how their lives were going when they were 24 years old. Some of them provided lessons they learned; others told me how hard life was for them back then. Almost all of them said it was the start of big turning points in their lives. But most of all, their stories made me feel human, and that feeling this way is just a part of life. Their stories made me feel like I’m doing something right.

Here’s what 9 of my female friends/family members had to say:

1. “At 24, I thought the world would always be good to me, that love would last forever, that commitment is easy when there’s love, that reading books was the only real way to really relax my mind, that walking in the rain is good for the soul, and that drinking straight from the carton is okay … and I still do.”
— Michelle

2. “My 24th year was a big year for me. It was almost half my lifetime ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the year I chose to turn a page and take charge of my own life. I was a young mother with two small children in an abusive marriage. I was becoming increasingly agitated and torn with decisions that had to be made. I’d put things off, made excuses for inexcusable behavior and ignored red flags for years but, I woke up one morning and the clarity about my situation was something that could no longer be ignored. I felt a panic setting in, it was an overwhelming sense of dread that I couldn’t shake. Throughout the day I found myself operating on auto-pilot; doing laundry, changing diapers, cooking, etc. I made a decision that day to take control of my own life. I knew in my heart that if I continued on the path I was on, my children would grow up thinking that that behavior was normal and the idea of allowing that to happen was something I just couldn’t live with. I wanted my children to know that the behavior they’d seen was unacceptable and the only way to send that message to them was to remove myself and them from the environment we were in. That decision was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made but, here I am, many years later and I can recognize it for what it was, a major turning point in my life. Whenever I hear stories about women who stay in abusive relationships and I hear people say, “Why don’t they just leave?” I know why, and I try not to judge them. There are many reasons people choose not to leave abusive relationships. I look back at this time in my life and I am grateful for the support of my family. I believe it’s important to try and find a balance in life. Remember our past so that we don’t allow history to repeat itself but at the same time, don’t allow ourselves to dwell on it.”
— Kathy

3. “I turned 24 in August 2010, I was going to college online to complete my BA and earned a promotion to the day shift with my current company in Logistics. I previously was working 12 hour night shifts 3-4 days a week tracking the location of semi -trucks. Little did I know, the age of 24 was the start of my professional career. I quickly knew I wanted to stay in Logistics when I grew up. I was given a sizeable monetary raise and handed accounts with which I already had familiarity. I learned how to be professional, tackle and handle issues on my own, and forged a great relationship with my customer. That position opened my eyes to a world of possibility and helped me move into the path I’m on today. Not much happened in my personal life aside from figuring out my small circle of friends. My professional life helped with this because I had goals of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I realized that I was completely different from one of my childhood friends who was 2 years younger. While she wanted to play Nintendo 64, eat and get high all the time, I wanted something more. I never partook in getting high and don’t bash those who do (legalize it!), I just realized that aside from playing Mario Kart we had nothing else in common. We became two different people. I was out on my own (admittedly with a roommate) navigating the world and she had yet to start (which is ok because she was only 22). 24 was a good stepping stone year for what ages 25-27 brought.”
— Rachael

4. “I am no longer twenty-four. That year I’d been a college graduate of forty-eight months. That was the last year I’d live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I would leave behind four part times jobs, one I’d held for the same amount of years at a local pizzeria. The others, a vacation rental representative, hospitality specialist, and late night/early morning laundromat cleaner. I’d leave each of these experiences behind when I moved to Greenville, South Carolina in June 2012, to another job as a portrait photographer. My husband would propose one year later.”
— Madison

5. “I felt like a big fat failure. Being a Nanny didn’t work out. The family wanted me to be on call 24 hours a day, so I was watching kids at my mom’s house. When I was 25, I moved to Eureka, SD.”
— Linda

6. “When I was 24, I was the manager of a two screen movie theater. It was built in the 1940s and had a lot of really cool features like a neon marquee, an old, closed down balcony, and access to the roof where my friends and I would go to smoke cigarettes and drink after-hours. I was way too young to be managing, but I loved my job and that building. That year, Saw 4 or 5 came out and a big group of us came to pre-screen the movie after-hours. It was a 35mm film print and, in those days, they came in canisters of four or five reels and someone had to manually splice them together with actual splicing tape and a cutter. It was a long, but relaxing process that I genuinely enjoyed. However, sometimes the reels were mislabeled and we had to watch the movie to make sure that it made sense before we could show it to the public. I was obviously not supposed to invite anyone to come and screen movies but it was a Saw movie and I wasn’t going to watch it by myself. I invited as many people as I could to come and watch it after-hours. There were probably only seven or so people that actually made it out and we watched it. We squirmed and laughed at it. It was a terrible movie. I had a lot of fun, especially afterwards smoking cigarettes outside at 2 in the morning.
I was breaking the rules and it was great. I grew up really sheltered and was not rule-breaker. So having a little bit of power over a building and over my choices was pretty exhilarating. These small incidences of rebellion, of course, led to bigger and more intense rule-breaking. A lot of those had some pretty serious consequences. I think, had I recognized it sooner, I wouldn’t have broken quite as many rules and hearts. I’m really grateful for that part of my of my life and the ability to experiment. At the time, I thought I would never get that desire to break rules out of my system. It’s exhausting being a rebel because some of those rules and norms are there for a reason and it takes a lot of work to not get caught, and even more work dealing with the consequences. Now, at 32, I can honestly say I’m really glad I don’t have to do any of those things anymore.
Except building 35mm film … I really miss that.”
— Maria

7. “I don’t think I want to remember being 24. Working long, horrible hours at WIPP and being totally responsible for two small boys. It was hard.”
— Lisa

8. “When I was twenty-four years old, I had been graduated from college for almost a year, was stuck in a job I didn’t like and was living back at home with my parents once again. I was restless and disappointed that I was back where I had started before going to school- this was not the path I had envisioned for my future. Then, almost out of nowhere, it seemed like my prayers had been answered- a relative of mine in Kansas City, Missouri reached out to me and asked if I would want to intern with him at his company where he did animation and graphic design. I was ecstatic! Finally, I felt like something was going right and I would be doing something that pertained to my interests and be able to learn from someone with a lot of experience. So I did what any unsettled young adult would do… quit my job, packed myself and my two cats up as quickly as possible, and ran away farther than I ever had before.
Moving to a big city is as daunting and exciting as anyone might think- my only experience with a “big” city was Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it had nothing on this sparkly new place I would be calling home for the next two years. But, like with any new adventure, there will always be both the ups and the downs… and the downs is what I seemed to experience right off the bat. The thrill of being in a new place seemed to wear off real fast when not even a few months later my “internship” fell through and I was stuck scrambling for a full-time job to pay the rent. I picked up the first thing that came along, left my part time nightmare of a job and my failed internship behind, and for the next two years, I realized that I was right back where I left off in Artesia- just in a bigger, unfamiliar setting.
Now, don’t get me wrong- there were some positive points in there, I swear! It’s just that those positive points don’t always seem as apparent when they’re happening as they are in hindsight. My positive experiences in Kansas City may have been slightly few and far between, but I do not regret the decision to move there one bit. Moving over thirteen hours away from my home, to a place where my only familiar faces consisted of distant cousins who I hadn’t seen in more than ten years, forced me to really mature and take responsibility for myself and the space I called home. I was once again rediscovering how to make new friends, of which I did make a good few of them that I still talk to now. I also experienced the toil of emotions that come with losing friends that weren’t just created by distance. I experienced my first real auto troubles that I had to take care of by myself, along with the woes of funding said troubles. For the first time, I was completely independent on paying for all of my living expenses with money that I made myself and had to learn how to be smart with my money and budget (in college I did work, but I mostly lived off of my scholarships!). I also learned the hard lesson that, when the idea of something sounds too good to be true… sometimes, it really actually is. My time in Kansas City may not have gone exactly the way I wanted, but I grew a lot from it. I don’t regret it. I’ve learned from it, and with that, I have moved on to my next adventure in life and can’t wait to see where it takes me!”
— Randi

9. “By age 24, I’ve been married to my best friend and graduated from college for over two years and nefariously a smoker for four (not to mention the tattoo I acquired just days ago–I’m a real heathen). I’ve moved cities, switched jobs, purchased a home, seemingly beat my 8-year-long struggle with chronic depression, met my lifelong goal weight, changed the focus of my career, completely shifted my belief system, and managed to keep up with old friends while making many new ones.
At 24, I’m stronger, more whole, more uniquely me than I’ve ever been, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I no longer weep for friendships past or dwell on my former mistakes. To put it simply, I resonate with The Avett Brothers’ “All My Mistakes.” Its chorus reads, “But I can’t go back, And I don’t want to, ‘Cause all my mistakes, They brought me to you.” “You” is myself, you is my husband, you is my best friends, and you is my family, with whom I’ve never been closer. By age 24, my life has seen more hard emotions and high joys than I ever thought possible, and I can’t wait for another 24 years of them.”
— Sarah


What was your 24th year like? Let us know in the comments.

A List of 63 Journal Prompts to Offer Inspiration

Before blogging, there was journaling. Believe it or not — despite the rise in popularity of blogs since the early 2000s and before — journaling is still a popular activity. With a journal, same as with a blog, you can write down lists, sketch ideas, and jot dreams. However, in my opinion, journaling provides a safe space where your thoughts can take on their most raw form. You can write down whatever you want: from your grocery lists to your most wild aspirations.

It’s so cathartic to write everything down on pages. You can always just build lists or create plans in your head, but if you don’t write them down, they can get lost. Journals are great for keeping yourself in the present, as well as maintaining a record of the past. It can be fun to look back at passages you wrote from months or even years before.

Here I’ve compiled a list of 63 journal prompts to get you inspired for your next journaling session.

I recently purchased a journal for myself with the intent of writing down random thoughts and realizations. It’s vintage looking with a detailed embossed design on the front cover and gold-edged pages. I bought it at a local bookstore, but there are many across the internet that I have also come to love. Maybe I should just buy 100 of them and designate them for their own special purposes — well, maybe that’s a little excessive.

I love looking at journals in bookstores and online. They’re full of blank pages waiting to be filled in. It’s a whole book for you to write all by yourself. And all you have to do is start writing.

Here are some of my favorite journals I came across on Amazon:

(1. / 2. / 3. / 4. / 5. 6. / 7. / 8. / 9.)

Most journals are pretty inexpensive, but some intricate and detailed journals can go for upwards of $70. Make sure you choose a journal you would feel excited to write in. That’s the most important part of journaling, in my opinion — feeling excited to write down your experiences.

Do you journal? What do you write down in your journal? Share your favorite journal tips and prompts in the comments below.

Here’s where you should live based on your Myers-Briggs personality type

It’s said that, like people, municipalities have their own unique personalities. If you think about each city you’ve visited, you probably have a specific view on what kind of culture exists and what kind of people inhabit it. Even if you think of cities you haven’t been to, only heard of, you can probably imagine the kind of vibe the city emits.

If you’ve taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, then you know you most likely fall into one of 16 categories: INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, INFJ, INFP, ENJF, ENFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, and ESFP. For those of you looking to move to a new place, it may be fun to see what kind of city fits your personality type.

INTJ – “The Architect”: Seattle, WA

Seattle is known for being a big city with the mentality of a much smaller, quieter one. Plenty of amenities, none of the flashiness or commotion. This is perfect for INTJs who prefer people watching and being around people, but also value their alone time.

INTP – “The Logician”: Boston, MA

For the curious and inventive, Boston offers a smart atmosphere (Harvard, MIT, and Tufts are all nearby) mixed with a funky vibe featuring street performers, interesting startups, and festivals. It’s perfect for those who are looking for like-minded intellectuals with a twist of fun.

ENTJ – “The Commander”: Washington, D.C.

For a natural-born leader like the ENTJ, Washington, D.C. is the place to be. This compact city is bustling with politics, history, and the arts. The National Mall — which is the heart of political protests, concerts, festivals, and presidential inaugurations — is sure to offer inspiration.

ENTP – “The Debater”: Chicago, IL

Chicago, which is considered one of the most important business centers in the world, is the perfect spot for an ENTP seeking a fun, challenging environment. The windy city offers a rich culture, professional sports teams, and many nightlife activities.

INFJ – “The Advocate”: Boulder, CO

For the imaginative, creative and sensitive INFJs, the calm but happy city of Boulder is a great place to settle. It’s been rated as one of the top 10 brainiest cities in the country, as well as a top city for artists.

INFP – “The Mediator”: Portland, OR

A true idealist like the INFP belongs in a place of self-discovery and quirkiness, making Portland the obvious choice. A powerhouse of music, arts, literature, and straight-up-weirdness, the City of Roses offers a friendly and environmentally-conscious counterculture.

ENFJ – “The Protagonist”: Los Angeles, CA

A natural-born performer and leader like the ENJF will thrive in a place like Los Angeles. The cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California provides a “Creative Capital of the World” for the passionate and charismatic.

ENFP – “The Campaigner”: Annapolis, MD

For the independent and compassionate ENFP, Annapolis is a great place to call home. This small but wholesome Maryland capital offers plenty of open park space as well as a rich history and culture for a true free spirit.

ISTJ – “The Logistician”: Philadelphia, PA

A practical and dedicated ISTJ belongs in a space such as Philadelphia due to its vibrant historical and artsy neighborhoods. In addition, Philadelphia is the center of economic activity in Pennsylvania and is home to seven Fortune 1000 companies.

ISFJ – “The Defender”: Baltimore, MD

An altruistic and loving ISFJ belongs in Baltimore, home to Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University, which are the city’s top two employers. Historically a working-class port town, Baltimore has sometimes been dubbed a “city of neighborhoods,” with 72 designated historic districts.

ESTJ – “The Executive”: Albuquerque, NM

For the traditionalists, the small but spirited city of Albuquerque offers natural beauty and southwestern arts. Albuquerque is home to more than the Native American, Hispanic, Latino and Anglo cultures for which New Mexico is well known, such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a yearly festival of hot air balloons.

ESFJ – “The Consul”: Austin, TX

Austin offers a very personable and social environment for supportive and outgoing ESFJs. The inhabitants of Austin include a diverse mix of government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, and blue-collar workers, as well as a vibrant LGBT community.

ISTP – “The Virtuoso”: Missoula, MT

For the ISTP who dares to be spontaneous and different, the cultural center of Montana is the place to go. Missoula inhabits an eclectic mix of loggers, hippies, college students, sports fans, and retirees, and offers festivals, markets, and outdoor adventures.

ISFP – “The Adventurer”: New Orleans, LA

ISFPs looking to push social norms should look no further than unique, cheeky New Orleans. From the French Quarter to St. Charles Avenue, residents of New Orleans sure love to have fun. Seeking adventure is easy in this city, as it’s chock-full of parades and celebrations.

ESTP – “The Entrepreneur”: New York, NY

For the witty and energetic ESTPs, NYC is the ultimate location.  A global power city, the most populous city in the U.S. exerts a significant impact on commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment.

ESFP – “The Entertainer”: Nashville, TN

ESFPs seeking a vibrant music and entertainment scene spanning a variety of genres should look no further than Nashville. Because ESFPs get caught up in the excitement of the moment and want everyone else to feel that way, too, the Music City — which offers a center for healthcare, publishing, banking and transportation industries, as well as numerous colleges and universities — is perfect.

I tried to make a video game by myself and ended up learning a lesson in life

Everything is a work in progress.

I remember the moment I began development on my project. I was bored one night about a year and a half ago sitting alone in my studio apartment messing around in MSPaint. I made something that resembled a cloaked wizard.

“This isn’t half bad.”

Suddenly a flood of imaginative game ideas raced through my head. That was all it took for my runaway project to get underway. I had always wanted to build my own video game, I just never found the right opportunity to begin. I never surrounded myself with people enthusiastic enough to join me in my quest. So one lonely afternoon I decided to go in alone. Making a video game would be hard work. The many components necessary for the video game process would be tough to fill with me alone. The thing is though, just because I had never found the right opportunity, never found the right people, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t give it a try. I think that’s an important part of life. You’re never going to be primed and ready in the best position for anything you want to do. I know I’ve never been.

Going in solo was a hell of a task to undertake, and there was no way of knowing what I was getting myself into until I was already wading through months of solo work. Something I came to realize early on in development was that just because I didn’t have a team to manage didn’t mean project management and organization was any easier. I became the project leader, the design leader, the lead artist, the lead musician, the lead programmer. I learned that while I had to wear many hats, I could only wear one at a time.


For instance, I found myself putting on the hat of the art director for months at a time, only to switch off to the lead programmer for another few months. I can remember a particular time when, while programming some of the scripts for the enemy navigation, I noticed some very small imperfections in some of the artwork I had recently ported into the game. The obsessive part of me felt the need to switch off the programmer hat and put on the artist hat, and while I did, in fact, fix those tiny imperfections, as well as add new content in the game, switching hats had pushed my goals back for that week and made me miss a lot of my deadlines.

Speaking of deadlines. I, of course, had to wear the hat of the project leader, which perhaps is the hardest one to wear of all.

The part of me that dreamed of creating the perfect game had to be constantly reigned in by the pragmatic side of me who understood that with each additional feature came additional time and workload, all of which needed to be distributed to the various hats I had to wear. I realized that even though I was in control of the entirety of the project organization, cutting features that I really wanted to be in the game with the understanding that there were not enough resources to cover them was a hard lesson learned. I suppose that was one of the benefits of going in solo though. The ability to be able to say no to features is easier learned when you know you are going to have to eventually put on the corresponding hat that has to deal with the consequences of the additional workload.


I’m still a long way off with the production of my game. I make progress every day, and one day soon I’ll be able to finally release it and look back on my work with admiration. So what have I learned from this? To reiterate, everything is a work in progress. There is never a perfect time for anything. I’m a harder worker than I like to give myself credit for. And I can accomplish my goals as long as I apply persistence over time.

Recently I’ve been working with my wife on I’m certain that all the different hats I had to wear have taught me a wealth of information on how to make this project successful. The thing is, anyone can be successful. The problem is finding a way to see through the fog in the road and continuing forward even when your project doesn’t “seem” to be going anywhere. I say seem in quotes because when you are in it, and working hard, it’s almost impossible to see where you are going. I can say for certain that there were times working on my game when I wanted to give up when I thought everything I had been working on was terrible looking and that no one would appreciate it. I think that’s a commonality in all of us though. There is a part of our brain that doesn’t let us see the end of the road. I think it’s important in times like those to just acknowledge that you are probably wrong about it and move forward.

So here I am, about a year and a half after started my game, hundreds of art and animation resources, several project restarts and revamps later. What have I taken away from it all? Everything is a work in progress, every time I add a little bit to a project it gets a little bit stronger. I tend to think that nothing is a step in the wrong direction as long as you learned something from it. It might sound cliche, but sometimes cliches are cliche for a reason.

23 things I’ve learned in my 23rd year

Because my 24th birthday’s coming up in a week and a few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve grown this past year. This was, without a doubt, the most difficult year I’ve faced yet, but it was also the best. I made a big move, I got engaged and married, I started (and left) a new job, and started this website with my husband and some friends.

Here are 23 things I’ve learned during this whirlwind of a year:

1. You should not only step outside your comfort zone; you should be spontaneous while you’re there.

Pretty much right after I blew out my 23 birthday candles, I said goodbye to my friends and family in New Mexico. I packed up my little car with some clothes, my guitar, and my Labrador and drove across the country to my new life in upstate New York. It was the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done.

2. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

I spent over $2,000 on multiple trips to the mechanic this past year. The third time my car broke down, so did I. That’s when I learned it’s just how life goes sometimes, whether I think I “deserve” life’s curveballs or not.

3. Making friends as an adult is hard, you guys.

I’ve lived here for a year and I’ve still only met a handful of solid friends.

4. Maintaining friendships is also pretty difficult.

As a teenager, you saw friends at school or on the weekends. Same thing in college. As a real-life adult, your friends start getting married and having babies, and it becomes more difficult to see them on a regular basis. (Moving across the country doesn’t make that any easier.)

5. My favorite movie is The Royal Tenenbaums.

This Wes Anderson film not only tugs at my heartstrings (I cry every time), it’s also full of lessons on love, growing older, and the importance of family. A close runner-up is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

6. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.

Depression and anxiety reared their ugly heads shortly after my big move to NY, but thankfully a great support system comprising my husband, my family, good friends and a couple of therapists got me through the dark times. Along with that same vein, having a mental illness does not make you weak.

7. Saying “yes” all the time is soul-sucking.

Pleasing everyone all the time for the sake of admiration is emotionally draining, so it’s best to properly balance helping yourself and helping others.

8. Scream-singing songs while driving is one of the best remedies for the melancholies I’ve found so far.

These also work: long showers, short naps, hugs, walking the dog, and vegan ice cream.

9. All dressed chips are the best chips in the world.

Seriously, it’s like barbecue chips and salt and vinegar chips had a beautiful, delicious baby. Because it’s a Canadian thing, only northern states are lucky enough to try these delicacies.

10. There is never a “right” time to do anything.

Travel, switch careers, start your own business, etc. when you want to, and don’t wait. The perfect opportunity will most likely never present itself unless you make the first move.

11. It snows a lot in upstate New York.

Multiple feet of snow on the ground for weeks at a time is something this New Mexican may never get used to.

12. Your biggest critic is yourself.

Most people are usually too occupied with fretting over their own lives to notice your visible toe cleavage in your new shoes, or to care when you’ve spilled coffee all over yourself. In reality, most people will have a neutral or positive opinion about you.

13. Travelling brings happiness.

I visited 11 states this year — five of them were states I hadn’t been to previously. I also saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and what a breathtakingly beautiful sight that was.

14. Sometimes good people do bad things.

After all, they’re people, too.

15. Patience is a virtue.

Especially when it comes to teaching your dog that electrical cords are not food.

16. Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

Although my mom taught me this quip when I was still in the single digits, I’ve only recently started to understand what it means. People shouldn’t be described as “normal” or “abnormal” — none of us are one or the other.

17. Call your mom.

Surprise — she actually knew what she was talking about all along. But maybe it’s just my mom who offers good advice, tells lame mom jokes to make me laugh, and offers good Netflix suggestions I may have missed.

18. Live in the present.

Too often, I’d find myself worrying about what the next day at work would bring me, or reliving regrettable moments from the past. Now, I make it my goal to be grateful for each moment.

19. Meditating is good for the soul.

My husband first got me into meditating, and while I’m no meditation expert, I know that it’s been helping me significantly.

20. Be silly.

My husband and I are the poster children for silliness. Let loose, make funny noises and faces, sing made-up songs, and laugh more.

21. Fake it until you make it.

Okay, so that’s a cliche one, but I’ve learned this year that if you look confident, you can make people believe you know what the hell you’re doing. Here’s a secret: everyone is faking it and no one knows what they’re doing more than half of the time.

22. Ask for help when you need it. Offer help when you can.

It is really hard to ask for help, whether it’s requesting financial assistance or asking someone to jump your dead car on the side of the road. People are usually happy to provide aid, but make sure to help others out when you can in return.

23. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school.

If this post is any indication, learning is a lifelong journey.

Cheers to turning 24 — may I learn at least as many lessons in the coming year.

15 big-footed lady problems

1. When one of your smaller-footed sistren complains about wearing size 8 shoes and your eyes roll all the way around in your skull.

2. When you go shoe shopping and the “size 11-13” section is full of cobwebs and your options are narrowed down to two pairs of tan pointy heels from 1996 and a lonely left tennis shoe.

3. Speaking of pointy heels, WHY EVEN MAKE THEM FOR BIG-FOOTED LADIES? It’s unnecessary additional length, people.

4. When you try and convince yourself you can fit into a size 9 (because of the aforementioned better options just three feet to the left of the “size 11-13” section) and you suck in your gut, hoping to somehow also suck in two inches of foot.

5. Sometimes it takes three days to put on a pair of skinny jeans over your feet.

6. You heard all the mean nicknames in the book for having big feet during your school days. “Boat feet,” “flippers,” “skis,” “oars,” we get it; our feet resemble outdoor sporting equipment.

7. When you go bowling with some friends who don’t know you that well, and you whisper your shoe size to the person behind the counter. And of course, they don’t offer the same quiet courtesy, so they say something along the lines of, “HERE’S YOUR SIZE TWELVES!” and plop them onto the counter, which causes a minor earthquake.

8. Packing fills you with dread because you realize your suitcase is half-full after you’ve only packed two pairs of shoes.

9. “One size fits all” is just a sick joke.

10. Your no-show ankle socks are true to their word though — they never show because they constantly fall down in your shoe. Ugh.

11. Tripping on your own feet is just a normal Friday afternoon activity at this point.

12. Forget swimming at a public pool. The first time some kid sees your feet in all their sockless glory, they’re bound to say whatever is on their mind, such as, “Wow, that lady has Sasquatch feet!” or “I bet you could fit into my dad’s shoes.”

13. You can never wear brightly-colored shoes. And FORGET about wearing red shoes unless it’s Halloween and you’re dressing up as Krusty.

14. Wearing a snug pair of high heels for a date night? There will be blood.

15. And finally, you’ve been scolded or shamed for picking up the remote with your toes — and accurately turning up the volume.

Why getting a dog was right for me

I’m a dog person and I always have been.

A year and a half ago, I went into a dog shelter to help my mom pick out a new puppy. Unbeknownst to me, within the first five minutes I would make a spontaneous decision to pick out a puppy of my own: Steven (not to be confused with my husband Steven who I met later on 💁). Through the good times and the bad, having a Labrador for a roommate was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Realizing it’s not for everyone, here are some of the reasons why getting a dog was the right decision for me:

1. It’s good for my health – mental and physical.

I go on multiple walks every day with my pup. My husband, the dog and I go to parks and beaches, walk around tracks, and go for hikes. I probably wouldn’t have done nearly as many outdoor activities if it weren’t for him. The pup has also acted as a great therapy dog as far as cuddles after long days at work go.

2. He’s taught me patience.

While I’m pretty sure I’m the one supposed to be teaching patience, Steven has taught me to quite literally stop every so often to smell the roses. Together, we enjoy the simple things in life.

3. I’m now a much better actor.

I’m good at talking about how great my dog is to strangers at the park while knowing Steve ran full speed into a wall earlier that day.

4. I no longer obsess over material objects.

When I first adopted 3-month-old Steve, he chewed nearly everything he could sink his sharp little teeth into: phone chargers, shoes, books, remotes. One time I caught him chewing on a rock. His destructive behavior made me go bonkers. He eventually stopped (now he only occasionally chews on rolls of toilet paper), and along the way, I learned to place books on higher shelves and shoes in the closet. More importantly though, I learned that my stuff is exactly that — just stuff.

5. I finally have things to post on Instagram.

He’s so gosh darn photogenic. And I’m sure my friends love seeing pictures of my dog every five minutes. Maybe.

As cheesy as it sounds, my dog is my best friend and I’m grateful for him every day.

Do you have a pet? Let us know why you value them as a member of your family in the comments.

1 2