How to deal with post-Disney depression.

If you haven’t heard, there is a widely known phenomenon know as post-Disney (or in my case, post-DCP) depression. It’s that horrible feeling that smacks you in the emotions when you leave the magical Disney bubble and head back to reality. It sucks when you leave vacation, but imagine having to leave all that behind when you’ve spent months there making a home, friends, and magic of your own. Yeah, it’s rough.

Trust me, I know that there is MUCH worse going on in the world. There are people battling cancer, living in poverty, being separated from their families due to injustice, and so much more. I’m aware of this and that’s why I feel so bad for being such a debby downer lately. It’s the type seven within me beating myself up for feeling such negative emotions. Regardless, I think it’s healthy for me to acknowledge the fact that I’m not happy.

It hits me somewhat randomly now. That overarching feeling of loneliness. I left a place where I had so many accessible and readily available friends to do things with, and if they were busy I could easily make some new ones. Back to small town Tennessee where most of my friends have left, have things going on to keep them busy, or are always on the go traveling. By no means am I blaming any of this on them, just stating the fact that they aren’t around as much.

I also had more things to do. There is always something going on in Orlando from going to Disney parks, visiting a different theme park, driving 2 hours to the beach, going to a huge mall, or just exploring cute towns like Celebration. Not that Johnson City is an empty wasteland with nothing to do, but it’s definitely no Disney World. Now when I’m bored, I got to Target or Founder’s Park. They’re nice things to do, but I miss being able to go ride roller coasters, meet characters, or just take in the visuals that are Disney World. Which I’m aware, that was a very priviliged lifestyle, but one I also worked really hard for.

I don’t know that I’ll be fully able to feel the joy I had during my Disney College Program. It does get better over time. I can finally look back at all my pictures without physically crying (just on the inside now). I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to the Animal Kingdom park arrival music that I found on Spotify for a little while longer, but I’m making progress.

I’m holding onto hope that school starting back will help me feel better. I’ll have more friends around, more to do with homework and joining clubs, and overall more regulairty. I also get to start thinking about the future more as I plan for graduation. Thinking about it has me really excited about what comes next. Maybe a return to working for Disney will be in the cards.

Even if I don’t end up working for Disney again, Walt Disney World will always be a place I call home. So many happy memories were made there and I cannot wait to go back to Orlando. I don’t know when my bext visit may be, but I know I will love every second of it.

So, what are some ways to help cope with post-Disney depression?

Video chats and phone calls are key. Yeah, I’m walking the old fashioned stuff. When all of your friends are dispersed across the country video chats and phone calls can make a world of difference. Texting is nice and a good way to more constantly stay in touch, but there’s nothing quite like seeing someone’s face or hearing their laugh.

Don’t watch Disney videos for a while. This may not be for everyone, but whenever I first came back it was really hard for me to look at content from the parks. Especially my home park! It’s weird seeing it on screen when you aren’t there in person anymore. You’ll work your way back to being able to watch them. As my sister told me, “maybe don’t consume the media that makes you sad.”

Get your pictures printed. I know you took a TON of pictures while you were at Disney. Instead of just letting them sit on your phone, go get them printed. Plaster them along your walls, desk spaces, planner, notebooks, etc. to bring a sense of Disney wherever you go.

Remember how lucky you were to be there. Disney is a magical experience, and one not everyone gets to take part in during their lifetime. To go to Disney, especially to be chose to participate in the Disney College Program, is a huge honor. Don’t take that lighlty and count your lucky stars. Be thankful for the time you had.

Start planning those reunions. This will give you something to look forward. My DCP twin is coming to visit me in my hometown and I know I want to plan several more visits with the amazing people I met during my time at Disney. Also, plan those trips to return to the parks.

Stay busy. If your busy there’s no time to be sad, right? Okay that might not be the healthiest way to desribe. Being busy definitely helps though because it gives you less time to dwell on the past.

Hopefully some of these can help any others who are also experiencing post-Disney or post-DCP depression. It sucks, I know, but we’ll get through it. Walt wouldn’t want us being sad when there’s a great, big beautiful tomorrow to look forward to.

❤ / Bailey

 

 

 

 

Did I make the right decision in coming home?

It’s been almost two months since I’ve been back in Johnson City. I’m settled back into my parent’s house, started back at work at First Christian diving straight into a project, watched several pets, and have been spending time catching up with friends. It’s overall been good. One question keeps coming up from most of the people I meet.

Are you happy to be home?

This is not the easiest question to answer. Most of the time, I just say “yeah, definitely,” and move on. Truthfully, it hasn’t all been a happy transition. I had to say goodbye to so many people and a job I loved in Florida. It was way harder than anything I could have ever imagined. From the first second of being back in Johnson City, things felt weird being back. I actually had an anxiety attack and couldn’t be alone for the first night. It was a struggle.

What’s known as “post-DCP depression” is very true, and something that I’ve struggled with since being back. I couldn’t even watch videos of Animal Kingdom without tearing up for a couple of weeks. Seeing all my friends who stayed posting things made me miss them and long to be back, working in the jungle. As the post-DCP depression has gone down a lot, it does still hit me at random moments. Without the readily available amount of friends that I had in Florida near me anymore, I can often feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Certain Disney songs or pictures set me off and some days I just can’t shake a sad feeling and end up crying it out.

All this struggle within the transition has me wondering: Did I make the right decision in coming home?

For now, I am sticking by my decision that coming home to Johnson City was the right thing to do. I am excited to finish my last year of school at ETSU with the amazing friends that I have made along the way. I do love the program I’m in and am excited to see the what school has in store for my last two semesters. I am thankful to be closer to my friends here and family and be able to see them whenever I want. Tennessee is a beautiful place, and I’m glad to not be in the killer summer heat in Florida.

There are a lot of things I miss though. From the moment I’ve been back, I have felt an overwhelming sense that going back to Disney is in my future. I’m not done working at one of the most magical places on earth. I’m excited to see what will come after graduation and am hopeful Orlando and Disney will be where that path takes me!

It also makes me happy to know I have people supporting me in this decision. While talking to someone recently, my mom mentioned that felt like Orlando was where I was meant to be. It was a place where I flourished and was filled with joy. It made me smile hearing her say that and also knowing she will always be in my corner, even if I end up moving away.

Johnson City, TN will always be home. Now, so is Disney. I plan on going back to visit at least once this year and then *hopefully,* make it home again when I graduate in May. Wherever I go, I know the people I love will remain in my life and be with me. God has a plan for my life and will lead me just where I need to be.

❤ / Bail

What I Learned in My 20th Year

I did it, I’ve made it to actual adulthood. It’s kind of strange. 21 feels like it’s the last significant birthday for a while. Don’t get me wrong, every year surviving and thriving is something to celebrate, but this year seems like the last one of major cultural significance. I have to get a new driver’s license, have more tests done when I go to the doctor, and am widely considered as a full-blown adult. It’s weird!

While I am excited to see what all year 21 has in store, it does have a lot to live up to compared to what happened in year 20. This past year, I fulfilled one of my life dreams by getting accepted to and completing the Disney College Program! What an immense joy that was. I think I’ve already talked enough on here about my Disney experience so I won’t go too far into it now, but it was honestly the best experience of my life thus far. I don’t think I’ll be able to ever stop talking about it completely. I grew in more ways than I can even fully put into words and I can’t imagine a better way to spend half of year 20.

While this year was filled with magic and pixie dust, there were so not so shining moments. I got really sick and diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) in December, witnessed loved ones battle cancer and other illnesses, had some battles with anxiety,  and am currently still trying to overcome the sadness and loneliness of leaving Disney World and readjusting to life back in Tennessee. 20 was a busy year. Filled with mountain top highs and valley lows, I know God was with me through it all, using everything to form and shape me. So, what exactly did I learn in my 20th trip around the sun?

If you put intentionality behind everything you do, even the small things become important and more enjoyable to do. This was something I learned in my job at FCC, but also while working at Animal Kingdom. Cleaning strollers and making a weekly bulletin with events for people to read may seem like tedious, insignificant tasks when you can’t see the bigger picture, but when you have a parent so relieved to have a stroller  to help get their children around a park and see the excitement on their faces at the end of the night as they jump up and exclaim “BEST DAY EVER,” it makes it all worth it. Every piece of the puzzle is important no matter how small, and when you remember that it acts as a huge motivator.

You have to be honest and open about your pain to overcome it. I mean this in both the mental and physical aspects. It’s no secret that when I’m sick or hurting I can be a big baby. My defense mechanism to fight against that is to sleep through it or pretend like nothings wrong when you have obligations to fulfill. That’s not the healthy response. I did it when I was sick in December and I do it anytime I’m faced with grief. I internalize things and keep them their as long as humanly possible until a breaking point is reached. Trust me, you will reach a breaking point and it won’t be fun. Regardless of what your brain may tell you, people won’t view you as weak or unreliable if you’re open about the ways your hurting. One of the bravest things a person can do is be completely honest about their pain. This is something I’m still working on and will likely take a lot of time, but at least I’m trying.

Don’t be afraid to dream big for yourself. With hard work and passion, they can come true. A lesson from Walt Disney himself that I’ve heard for years but never truly took to heart. Doing the Disney College Program was a big dream for me. One I’ve had since I found out about it when I was 16. It was also something I thought I’d never actually achieve. I applied with the sense of “I’ll just apply and see what happens,” expecting to not get accepted. When my application went from under review to the next step in the approval process, that’s when I knew I had a chance if I worked hard for it. So, that’s what I did. I prepped for my phone interview, watched tip videos, practiced some potential questions, wrote down a notes sheet of what I wanted to say, and prayed  A LOT. Low and behold, my dream came true and I got to make magic in merchandise at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If I had let the doubts in my head that said this dream was “too big” I would have missed out on the best and most transformative experience. Now, I know that I can keep dreaming big. See you after graduation, Disney! I’m dreaming to be back.

We all need to be nicer to our planet. I’ve been environmentally cautious for a while now, but after working for Animal Kingdom and seeing all of the conservation efforts they set forth, I’ve got a bigger passion for taking care of our environment. Things like not using plastic bags and straws or recycling are easy changes that we can all and SHOULD make in our daily lives. It can be hard to break our habits at first, but once you do it will be better for you and the future of our planet. Even look up brands to see if the things you’re buying are being sourced and packaged ethically before purchasing. It can be a quick search while you’re in the store to find more eco-friendly brands. Be nice to the earth, oceans, and all its human, animal, plant inhabitants.

Always re-apply sunscreen when you’re spending the day at a waterpark. Yeah, learned this one the hard way. You’d think after being casper white for 20 years that I’d know by now how to properly use sunscreen. Apparently not! I am proud that my whole time in Orlando I only got one bad sunburn. But, that one sunburn was enough. Sorry back and shoulders!

Finding what re-energizes you is key. This was something that was mentioned in a class I took while working at Disney. They told us to find what re-energizes us and use that to make it through the tough and exhausting shifts. For me, it’s talking to friends. When I see the people I love and care about, my energy soars. If I’m having a bad moment or dealing with something frustrating then I turn to a friend and either vent or talk about something else to take my mind off it. Works like a charm. Some other things that also help are soaking in some sunshine, candy, animals, a quick rollercoaster ride, and dancing.

While there was a lot that I learned in my 20th year of life, these were definitely some of my highlights. 20 was a whirlwind year that was better than I could have ever expected. It was filled with more joy then I knew could be possible and made me truly start to believe in myself and my own abilities that God has gifted me with. To those who I met this year, thank you for being a part of 20. I am so glad I know you.

Here’s to everything year 21 will hold! I cannot wait to see what’s in store, who I’ll meet, and what I’ll do. All I know for sure is, with God, big things are in store!

❤ / Bailey

A thank you to the people | DCP Spring 2019

One thing I regret about the end of my program is that I didn’t fully get to say thank you to the people that were a huge part of my life over the last few months. It was the people in my life that made my program so special and one that I will never forget. I made some amazing friends and I wanted to take a moment to really thank them for all they have done. Goodbyes are hard, but this is just a “see ya real soon” because know that you met me y’all are stuck with me!

My Coordinators: Paul, Hunter, John, Evelyn, David, Angel, Pedro, & Joan – it was an honor to get to work with such an amazing team. I honestly couldn’t be more thankful for the influence you all have had on my life in the four months I got to know you. You all gave me the tools I needed to do my job well and put trust in me that has made me grow immensely as a person. You all were always there to answer any questions I had and help me in any way that I needed. You all rock! Keep being superstars. Anyone who gets to have any one of you as a coordinator should consider themselves very lucky; I know I do!

My Leaders: Carmela, Chris, Ashley, William, Al, and Lori – thank you for being amazing leaders. You were all amazing to work for and I’m so thankful to get the opportunity to know each of you! You made work a fun place while also making sure we were doing our best. Thank you for being great leaders. I am so thankful I got to work with you all on my CP.

DAK Stroller Squad: I’m not gonna lie when I found out I’d be working strollers I was a little apprehensive. Now, I wouldn’t have wanted to work anywhere else! The DAK stroller squad is the best group of people. My fellow CPs were just a fantastic group of people who I got to work with every day and all the full-time, part-time, and seasonal people were great to get to know. Y’all made coming to work each day a joy! There was never a time when I dreaded coming to work because even on my bad days I knew I had y’all to lean on & cheer me up. You answered my many stupid questions when I was new & clueless, and I can never thank you enough for the ways you all have shaped my life. All my love to all of you!

Emily: Thank you for being my DCP twin. Who knew I had a twin from all the way across the globe in Australia that I would be paired with for day one of on-the-job training? I am so thankful that I got to meet you during this program. Thanks for all the amazing adventures, from driving to work in a thunderstorm to going to the parks before work or going to Legoland, it was all a blast! Saying goodbye to you was one of the hardest goodbyes, but I’m thankful I got to spend my last day of the program with you soaking in every moment of it. I can’t wait to come back and visit you & remind you to PUT DOWN YOUR ARMBARS.

Jade: One of the first friends I made on the program! I’m thankful we met on day one of training, had merchandise core together, and became amazing friends. You were one of the only people who could always tell when I was upset or frustrated and knew when I needed a hug, to take a break, or have a vent session. We had a lot of great adventures from celebrating your birthday in Epcot & Disney Springs to quite the entertaining day at Legoland and everything in between. Thank you for being my friend & come visit Tennessee soon so I can show you real country food!

Maddy: Also one of my first friends that I met at DAKlimation! You bring SO much laughter wherever you go. I knew I could count on you if I ever needed a laugh or hug. Your positive spirit radiates wherever you go. I’m thankful we got to go horseback riding for the first time together at Disney!! There’s nobody else I’d rather consistently bump into at the parks on my days off. I’m glad you live in my neighbor state of North Carolina so a visit soon is a must!

Esco: I miss your hugs! Thank you for being the amazing human you are. You filled each day of work with so much happiness. Keep on being a bright light to this world. You are going to do so many amazing things!

Quinton: Who thought it was smart to keep putting us together? Nothing but laughter and love came from working with you. I’m thankful for all our times’ stacking, closing Outpost, and just working together. Thank you for ranting with me about the tough times and laughing about everything else. I’m so thankful to have gotten to know you. No matter where life takes us, I’m always here for ya!

Chris: Our friendship formed while an angry old man was yelling at me about change. You always made working in Garden Gate a blast! Every time I was assigned in there I was hoping you’d be there too. I’m so thankful for every hug, screaming my name when I walked by, and laugh shared. Keep being the best and taking awesome pictures!

My roommates: I am so thankful for the five girls from across the country that I got the privilege of living with. Y’all were amazing roommates & really helped make Orlando feel like home! Love you Madison, Ansley, Sam, Kendra, & Barbara! My door is always open to y’all wherever I may be.

Sam: The person I shared a room with & 1/3 of our Three Caballeros! Thank you for being the best first roommate I could have ever asked for. You filled so much of my life with laughter & love. I’m thankful for all the late night food runs, the times you mocked me, laughing at the stupid things we did, talking until 3 am, thinking I was staring at you when really I was sleeping, ranting about crazy days at work, and all the park visits. I miss seeing you all the time! Can’t wait for you to come to visit me & for me to come to Indiana.

Kendra: The other third of our Three Cabelleros & my precious daughter. Thank you for being an amazing friend & roommate. I’m so glad we had Traditions at the same time and got to experience our first visit to the parks as Cast Members together. We had a lot of fun adventures from going to the parks, getting our nails done (talk about a weird place to get engaged!), and going on food runs. Even though my judging may have made it seem otherwise, I am so glad to have you in my life! Reunion soon plz. I’ll make sure to come to you with any health concerns since you’re gonna be a rockin’ nurse!

And to ANYONE I came in contact with, thank you for being you. Each and every person I met along the way had a huge impact on my life. It really is the people that make Disney World so special.

See ya real soon (on Snapchat, Insta, Facebook, and hopefully a real visit), pals. Thanks for everything!

❤ / Bailey

See ya real soon, Disney World | DCP Spring 2019

How bittersweet. That’s all I keep seeing about the end of Disney College Program. It is SUCH a bittersweet feeling.

My last shift working at Animal Kingdom Park Arrival was on May 14th from 6:15 pm – 1 am. That night was filled with goodbyes, tears, and many hugs from people that mean more to me than I ever thought possible for only knowing them for four months. When it came time for me to eventually clock out for one last time I walked over to the computer and as soon as Mickey popped up with “Thank you for helping Make the Magic” I could feel the tears welling up. Me and three of my friends, two of which were also on their last day of work, decided to walk up and see the Tree of Life one last time. Since it was really late the park was pretty much empty and only a few other cast members were around. We stood watching the tree as it was still being lit up and cried. We took a few pictures and said “see ya real soon” to our home parks icon. We walked together to the parking lot, said our goodbyes, gave big hugs, and went our separate ways.

CUE THE SOBBING. I hate crying in front of people, so as soon as I got in my car where I was alone I let out the biggest sob I think I’ve ever cried in my entire life. I cried so hard I almost threw up. Yep, that hurt. The whole drive back to my apartment there were tears filling my eyes. Who knew that a place where I’d be stacking strollers and selling merchandise could mean so much to me? The past four months I’d fallen in love with working for Disney and the people I worked alongside and it hurt to say goodbye.

I pulled myself together the next day in order to head to Magic Kingdom for my last park visit. I went with my mom and sister and met up with my friends Jade, Emily, Aaron, Kendra and Sam throughout the day to spend as much time as possible with some of my favorite people (and take cute castle pics, of course). I ate some of my favorite Magic Kingdom foods, rode a few rides, watched Festival of Fantasy, and prepares myself for that final moment of watching Happily Ever After in front of the castle for my last time as a CP. Yep, more tears. I got to watch the fireworks at a stunning view of the castle with my mom, sister, Emily, and Sam. You could hear a chorus of sniffling and sobs from all the CP’s who’s journeys had come to an end that night as we cried together and reflected over the last few months. The night ended as I said goodbye to two of my closest friends, Jade and Emily, and took the last monorail ride to the TTC (which was also filled with tears, let me tell you).

I got home to my apartment and did a last minute packing dash to try to get everything ready to load up the next morning. My mom and sister met me at the complex, we loaded all my belongings into our two cars, and it was time to say goodbye to The Commons apartment 1311. It was a great place to live during my college program, filled with normal ups and downs, and it was said to see it empty. It really did become home and my roommates became family. I turned in my key and ID, said see ya later to my roommates, and drove out of The Commons for the last time. I then proceeded to curl up in a ball in our hotel room, cry, eat Chick-Fil-A, and then sleep. We got up in time to make our dinner reservations at Sana’a (AMAZING FOOD BTW) and headed to Disney Springs for one final shop.

The next morning, I got up and went to costuming to return everything then it was off to Tennessee. 13 hours later, and I pulled into a town that felt like home but weirdly unfamiliar. The transition has been rough, but that’s a separate post all in its own. As I have more time to reflect, I’ll touch more on how exactly this journey impacted my life. For now, I’ll just say…

See ya real soon, Orlando! You haven’t seen the last of me yet.

❤ / Bailey

I just graduated from the Disney College Program, what’s next?​

Whoa, what a journey. The Disney College Program has been the most life-changing experience over the last four months. I’ve spent every day working and playing in the Disney World parks, and it has been the most joyous time. I loved my job and the people I have been surround with. But, like all good things, it must come to an end. As much as I would love to stay here (and trust me, I REALLY would), I am at peace with my decision not to extend my program. I got my graduation ears yesterday and have five more shifts of work until my program is officially over.

So, what is next? I’ll be moving back to Johnson City, Tennessee. My mom and sister are meeting me here in Orlando to play in the parks for a few days beforehand and then help pack all my stuff up and begin the 10-hour drive home. I’ll have a few days to get settled in and catch up with friends and family before starting back my job with the Communications team at FCC. I’ll be working on a cool project that I am excited to dive into and looking forward to seeing my amazing coworkers there!

I’ll be back on East Tennessee State Univerity’s campus in the fall to start my SENIOR YEAR of college. I can’t believe my last year of undergrad is already here. I only have five classes and two big tests (a critical thinking skills test and a major field test) standing in the way between me and a bachelors of science in media and communication. It’s crazy! I technically could squeeze that all into one semester and graduated in December, but with being gone this semester and getting used to being back on campus, I’ve decided to stick with the full four years and graduate in May 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with Disney, and I can safely say that this isn’t the end. I will be looking into Professional Internships and other positions within Walt Disney World for post-graduation in the hopes of returning next year. This has been an amazing company to work for and one that I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to just yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do another College Program! Whatever may come, I know doing this College Program will be a great door opener and I cannot wait to see what my future holds.

Goodbyes and really hard and this next week is going to be emotional, but I’m going to take advantage of every moment I have to make some magic!

❤ / Bailey

nine years later

Nine years ago today, life changed. I was coming home from school after meeting up with my mom who had been running our mother’s day plant sale. We hopped in the car and hurried home. We got there and dad was home too, which was off because he usually worked late. I began to run up the stair exclaiming, “I’m gonna go get ready for dance class!” When I was told to stop, come back, and sit on the couch. It was at that moment everything changed.

That was the day that I found out my uncle had passed away. It was unexpected. He had a simple foot surgery a few days prior and I had just talked to him on the phone the day of. He was supposed to be fine. Turns out, things can change in the blink of an eye.

My uncle was one of my favorite people. He was constantly showering my sister and me with so much love and joy. He really cared for us and would always remind us of how beautiful and loved we were. He was the person who could always cheer me up and make me smile. Even though he lived in Pennsylvania 11 hours away, he was someone I was super close with. The number of people who came to his funeral and spoke so highly of him was a true testament to the impact he had on this world. He was and still is, a major inspiration as to why I stay so positive and try to make people happy.

To this day, my uncle’s passing is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Grief is a monster and one that in nine years still hasn’t gone away. I went through all the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Except I still think I might be stuck in that last one. Yes, I know my uncle is gone, but there is sometimes a part of me that still thinks he is just at home in Pennsylvania making people smile and laughing with friends. It’s just how my mind copes!

I think about him every day, and when I think about how much I miss him I can’t help but cry. I struggle with grief a lot. I tend to internalize things too much and suppress the sad emotions deep down inside. I’m a glass half full type of person, so much so to my own fault sometimes. However, on May 6th I will let myself grieve. I will tell myself it’s okay to cry about because there is pain from missing home. I won’t let it consume me, though. That’s not what he would want! He brought so much joy to me and everyone he knew, and I know he’d still want me to feel that joy even on this day.

Nine years later, and I still miss him. I’m sad that he missed out on numerous dance recitals, high school graduation, proms, dances, my sister’s graduation, and so much more. But, I know he would proud. He’s smiling down on me from heaven while I’m making magic at Disney and guiding me with light. I hope I am making him proud and honoring him in the way I try to spend joy.

❤ / Bailey