Tag Archives: anxiety

Night Three

Here I am. It’s Night Three: the third night in a row of the wild swings, from giddiness to despondency in moments, that characterize my depression and anxiety. I am twisting and writhing, trying to fit myself into a world that I’m sure doesn’t want me. I am worthless, stupid, ugly. Wasted space, wasted potential. I should have been better, different. Somebody else.

The refrain from that chorus of voices, the youngest parts of my psyche: Why can’t you just be somebody else? Somebody normal? You’re broken. We’re broken. Fix us. Fix yourself. Be better. Please. Be better. Please.

Be better. Please.

I know these are defense mechanisms formed in my early years. Parts of me saw the world and how shitty and unfair it was — fuck, were they in for a surprise in 2017 — and figured the only way to survive was to internalize ALL the bad and make it my own. Make it me. If I was the bad thing, I had some control. I could improve me — the world, not so much. But I could be better — had to be better — or the world would swallow me and spit me out like so many others who couldn’t “handle it.”

God only gives you what you can handle. I don’t believe in god, haven’t for many years, but that saying still makes my stomach sink like a stone before the rage bubbles up into my chest where it burns red-hot. You only give us what we can handle? Do I look like I am handling this relatively easy life to you, you vindictive, omnipotent fuck-face, lying on the floor in a heap of tears and snot and sweat? How can I handle anything with this useless, broken brain you saddled me with? And don’t even get me started on those who have it worse. You accept their prayers while killing their kids and destroying their homes and tearing holes in their bodies and devastating their souls. Either make yourself useful for the first time in thirteen billion years, or go back to your cloud palace and leave us the fuck alone, you gossamer-winged douche canoe. Also, your wine fucking SUCKS.

Okay, that felt a little good. For a moment.

Still: four years of steady therapy and sixteen years of every medication under the sun feel worthless tonight, on Night Three. I’m exhausted to the point of collapse, but when sleep comes, I dream in rapid, flickering images, full technicolor and too well-lit. Vignettes of violence and humor and fear and love and death and that British lizard from the insurance commercials. Snippets of songs and whispers and horns and sirens and bad-movie dialogue.

I wish I could say that I had a good reason to feel this way. There isn’t, though. It’s just me, and my brain. It’s not Vegas, or the Orange Fucker, or work stress, or life stress – though none of those things help. It’s just me, and the voices.

Be better. Please. 

My therapist says to be nice to these voices – they’re only coping mechanisms, after all. They’re trying to protect me. And they are asking politely.

But I cannot be better right now, tonight, or really anytime. At 32, I am mostly baked – I am doing my best, and I am not going to become a superhuman anytime soon. I also cannot control the shitty, unfair world we are stuck in. But I do have work tomorrow, so, voices, here’s my offer: calm down, shut up, and go the fuck to sleep. Be better at being my psyche, will you? Please?

Here’s to a better Night Four.

 

 

Fatass (A-Z Challenge)

One evening about three years ago, I left my apartment in the Haight in San Francisco to go meet some friends for dinner (or maybe it was just wine? Lol it was usually just wine.) at their place, which was about a three minute walk away. I reached a crosswalk at a four-way stop sign intersection, where there was a white pickup truck stopped across the street. I began crossing the street, and the truck suddenly lunged forward; I thought it was going to kill me. I jumped back, shaken and panicked, the truck stopped about a foot away from me. The driver, a white dude around age 30, stared at me angrily, as if it were my fault that he’d almost run me over. Still shaken, I yelled something along the lines of, “You almost killed me, you asshole!” He revved his engine and sped past me, yelling out the window, “Watch where you’re going, you fatass!”

I stood stunned in the intersection for about five seconds, and then I started walking–and crying.

I cried all the way to my friends’ apartment–heaving, sweaty sobs that wouldn’t let up despite all efforts to control myself. I think I frightened every hipster in Cole Valley as I staggered unsteadily down Cole street, but through a combination of muscle memory and luck I somehow managed to make it to my friends’ place and rang the doorbell. They buzzed me up, where I immediately collapsed on the couch, wailing and saying I wished I was dead. And in that moment, I truly meant it. I wanted to die, because some asshole in a pickup truck almost killed me, and, more importantly, called me a fatass. Let that sink in. A dude called me fat, so I wanted to die. I almost wished he’d hit me.

My friends (a married couple, two of my best friends) were bewildered. They obviously agreed that the dude was an asshole, and they consoled me, calling me beautiful and a good person and all the great things friends say, and they were wonderful. I was so lucky that I was with them that night, because I honestly don’t know what would have happened if I’d been home alone. I don’t remember too much after finally calming down, presumably because I got really drunk. The next day I went to work as usual, if a bit hungover, (I was still at Google then) and tried to forget all about it.

I failed.

That moment occupied my thoughts for weeks, making me cry repeatedly. Even now, from time to time, I still replay that incident in my mind, and feel a huge combination of shame and anger. Ashamed that I was apparently fat enough to invite insult from a stranger who almost ran me over; angry that he’d insulted me; ashamed that I’d broken down like that and said such horrible (if true) things about suicidal ideation in front of my friends; angry that I let this guy get to me and couldn’t just brush it off. Sometimes I go weeks without thinking about it; sometimes months, but at least three to four times a year, I remember that guy and it’s like I’m standing in Cole Valley crying my heart out all over again.

Lately, I’ve been reading more and more about the body positivity movement. I think it’s a great thing, but it’s been really hard for me to internalize its messaging. The images that surround us and the expectations that are forced on us (“us” meaning mostly women, but men get this shit, too) regarding body shape, weight, and general beauty standards are out of control and pervasive. I get this. I also know, from my own experience and from #Science, that no matter how much I diet I will never be anything below a size 8, and that would be pushing it, so loving myself the way I am is the right way to go. I also know that I am not a repulsive-looking human to most people. I know that my physical health is good. I know that we are all perfect the way we are. I’ve read the blogs and watched the vlogs and am a regular commenter on feminist sites to the chagrin of bros everywhere. I know that I will be happier if I can let go of my body issues, eat well and exercise, and just let my body be what it is. I know that this will be a wonderful thing.

So why, three years later, am I still so upset about what one asshole with sub-par driving skills had to say about my body that I let it screw with my head–and my eating habits? Why does the word “fatass” still fill me with self-loathing and the urge to throw up or binge? Why do I sometimes conjure up an image of his face (though I never really got a good look at him; my subconscious has filled in the details, I guess) in my head and feel so much rage that I imagine inflicting serious physical harm on him? Seriously, I’m not kidding. I fantasize about punching him in the head, kicking him in the balls, stabbing him in the chest with a knife, shooting him between the eyes with a gun. I hate this stranger so much because he made (who am I kidding, he still makes) it easier for me to hate myself, and then I give into his words and hate myself some more. I call myself a “fatass,” and not in an affectionate, self-deprecating way. I look in the mirror at my thighs and my stomach (and this is after losing some weight over the past few years, ironically!) and cry at how much of me there is.

There are many reasons why I do this, I suppose: society is a bitch, my depression and anxiety are shitty, being a perfectionist is the worst, a history of hearing fat-phobic and sexist comments from people (men and women, but in my case especially men) my whole life has not helped. I also carry guilt for having, thinking, and once or twice even expressing similar sentiments about fat people in the past. What right do I have to let go of my feelings about this one-time incident when I’ve thought equally mean things about other people, even if it was years ago?

I wish I could overcome these barriers to self-love, but where I stand right now, even with all the reading and self-educating and therapy and life changes that I have experienced in the past three years, it is still really fucking hard. Some days, it feels impossible. For every time I eat a piece of cake and don’t care, there are four instances when I cry out of guilt over eating a piece of bread. The bad days still far outnumber the good days.

So, you may be thinking, what the fuck is even the point of this post, Jackie? Just to depress us? No. I think the point is to acknowledge, in writing, where I am and who I am right now in the “journey” of self-love. I am a girl who is still thinks that being fat is the worst thing I could be. I am a girl who sometimes eats cake and doesn’t care. I am a girl who sometimes cuts carbs and feels great about it. I am a girl who reads body positivity blogs and loves the shit out of them. I am a girl who looks in the mirror and hates herself. I am a girl who puts on my favorite black dress and thinks back to that asshole on in the white pickup truck and thinks, “He wishes he could get a piece of this fat ass!” I am the girl who still imagines punching that asshole in the stomach.

Maybe by talking about this and telling you all that I want to punch him in the stomach, I’ll be able to let some of that anger go. I don’t know; we’ll see if it works.

think, I hope, I want that my progress to date will be enough for now. I know that when I die, no one is going to give a shit about the size on my pants, or what I weighed, or whether people thought I was hot or not. No graveyard ever sports headstones reading, “She died thin!”

I will try to remember that. I will try to remember that I am enough. I hope you remember that, too.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments. xo

Bad Blood and Mad Love

You know that feeling when you wake up after a week of being sick and stuffed up and achy and the cold or flu or whatever the hell it was that was making you miserable is just GONE and you feel fabulous? That just-after-sick feeling? Well, that’s similar to the way I feel when the veil lifts after a depressive episode. After the crapfest that was the past few days, that’s how I feel right now. Flyin’ high, and also motivated as hell. I’m ready to kick depression and anxiety’s ass and take some names. I’m gonna get in shape and heal my foot and write thousands of words a day and learn to grill fish and take a multivitamin and be a movie star. I’m high and I’m singing to my mental illness, adapting the words of the glorious Tay-tay:

Hey depression: Remember when you tried to write me off? We used to be mad love, but after what you’ve dooooone, NOW WE GOT BAD BLOOD (HEY!).

This feeling won’t last, of course–that’s the thing about feelings, they never last. But it’s an important feeling. It’s an anchor, a dock I can tie my boat to when the waves get rough. It’s a third nautical metaphor I can’t come up with right now.

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It’s a compass to shore? Eh? No, that sucks. Sorry, shitty writer here.

It’s a high partially fueled by the amazing support I got in the comments on this blog, from facebook posts and texts from people I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s from knowing I’m not alone.

I wrote that post the other night in the aftermath of despair, wanting desperately to connect and pay forward the kindness my mother shared with me to the internet at large. I wanted to see if I could help others and let them know they aren’t alone. I did, to a certain extent, but those same people made me realize that I am not alone, too. Really realize it.

So depression and I may have some bad blood, but you guys and I? Y’all, we got MAD LOVE.

HEY!

Would love to hear from you! Leave a comment on this post, and do share and like, too.

 

 

Not alone

Be warned: this is an honest post about depression and self-harm, so don’t read if that is not what you need right now.

Tonight was not a great night. Depression combined with PMDD combined with injury combined with rain combined to form a cocktail of true shitty-ness.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have an intermittent history of self-harm. My depression and anxiety kick in, I get angry and disgusted with myself, and instead of just crying or shouting or hitting something else, I hit myself, usually in the head or leg, or both, to the point of bruising. Obviously, this is not good.

Tonight I was thoroughly convinced that I was a mean, fat, disgusting, stupid, lazy, weak-willed, worthless, uncouth, ungrateful, shallow, timid, and boring person, all at the same time. The cognitive dissonance required to think all of these things about myself at the same time was pretty impressive, but the result was not–I hit myself for the first time in probably over a year.

Besides the physical pain I caused myself, I also caused my mother, who saw me do it, emotional pain. I feel awful, and thinking about her distress brings tears of guilt as I type. But I am also grateful to her for helping me calm down and redirect the urge to hurt myself into actual discussion of my feelings, which she often shared when she had PMDD in her twenties and thirties. I’m grateful that she hugged me and dried my tears and told me she loved me. I’m grateful that she forgave me for the fear and hurt I made her feel by hurting myself.

I am lucky that I wasn’t alone.

I’m still somewhat stuck in a depressive a black hole, but my mother’s being present with me tonight was like a tiny sliver of light in that darkness. So I want to pass it on, right now, before I lose my nerve and delete this post:

If you are in despair tonight and there is no one there to comfort you, you are still not alone. There are millions of people who are with you. I am one of them. Even if no one is there to physically hug you and tell you that you are worthwhile, I will tell you now: you are not alone. You are a good person. How you are feeling is temporary, but whether this feeling lasts one hour or one day or one week or one month, you are NOT alone. 

Consider this a hug from me ❤

Love you.

 

 

Rollin’ with the homies…

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My life right now.

So being laid up by this broken foot has been overall less fun than you might think–being waited on by my brother, while necessary, got old really fast due to my cramped apartment. After a couple days off my feet to alleviate some major swelling, I determined that staying in a third floor SF walkup (with extra rickety stairs) during my ~6 week recovery was going to end in one of two outcomes: 1. I fall while trying to use the stairs with my crutches and break every other bone in my body and die, or 2. I stay in my apartment alone and go slowly insane, assign names and personalities to every inanimate object around me and talk to them like friends (OHAI, MR. TEA KETTLE! DID YOU JUST WHISTLE AT ME? DAMN, I’M FLATTERED), choke on mediocre pad thai and die. So I sucked up the cost for a last-minute cross country flight and am now at my parents’, where my mother in particular is saving my sanity by taking me on daily trips to see the suburban sights (Target and Starbucks, WOOT!) and saving me from further injury by helping with daily tasks that have gotten a LOT harder since the accident, even with my new baller KNEE SCOOTER, Y’ALL.

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I’m rolling with the homies…

I even got a basket for it, which came in handy at Target the other day as we stocked up on essentials like a dog toy shaped like an easter flower, soap with a mustache printed on it, and cadbury mini-eggs (YOU’RE WELCOME FOR MY SUPPORT OF THE COMMERCIAL CIRCUS SURROUNDING YOUR CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION, JESUS!). I must say I look pretty cool on my scooter with my giant broken foot boot, dripping sweat as I propel myself across the just-waxed floors of every big box store in southern New Hampshire at speeds that astound of the kindergarteners I whiz past while squealing, “Wheeee! EAT MY DUST, RUGRAT!”

But yeah, besides the scooter (which I’m very excited about, unless you can’t tell), this kind of sucks. I am definitely showing my able-bodied privilege here, but I have a renewed respect for people with disabilities. Many places are not as friendly to the mobility-impaired as you might think, despite the ADA. Everything from a curbs to a rain mat to a sidewalk seam is a possible death trap if you land your crutch the wrong way, and maneuvering scooters and wheelchairs through crowds at the airport and aisles at the supermarket can be really frustrating. I’m SO fortunate that this is temporary (and that I didn’t need surgery!), and I feel sheepish and naive for having to get injured myself to realize that. Also, as a depressed person, I haven’t been dealing with the limitations of even temporary physical disability/injury well, which has made the last week kind of hard. I don’t say that to ask for pity, it’s just a reality of having depression and anxiety–I take physical illness really hard and often see it as a personal failing (like, oh, if I had washed my hands more, I wouldn’t have gotten the flu; or, if I had worn a different pair of shoes, I wouldn’t have broken my foot). Pointless self-blame is super fun, right, fellow depressed peeps? :/

That being said, I’m finally getting into a rhythm, and I’ll survive, obviously. Having my parents and Roxie around has been a life-saver. Roxie especially provides great emotional support as she’s a big fan of cuddling me in the evenings when I watch TV or write:

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She really liked “The Martian.”

So my main life advice to you all at present is to avoid drinking wine and then walking, put away some money in a rainy-day fund in case you ever need to buy a knee scooter on Amazon, and don’t pay attention to the election on Facebook (this last one is not broken foot-related, just general advice. We still have eight months of this, guys. EIGHT. MONTHS.).

Enjoy your feet if you got ’em! ❤

 

 

Medication Frustration

This is the top drawer of my bedside table, a.k.a. the “med drawer”:

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This is where I keep the stuff that most folks organize neatly in a medicine cabinet. Mostly, it’s full of your typical and over-the-counter remedies: ibuprofen, pepto bismol, benadryl, cold medicine. It’s also where I keep my meds for anxiety, depression, and migraines. It’s a necessary, if messy, drawer. Usually, I open this drawer at night to take my daily medications without so much as a thought; it’s automatic, an action I’ve taken every night for years.

Sometimes, however, I really fucking hate opening that drawer. This week is one of those times.

I’ve been on some sort of daily medication to treat anxiety and depression pretty consistently since I was sixteen, which makes fifteen years of me opening this drawer (or its previous incarnations at my parents’ house and other apartments and dorms) every night. I’m incredibly grateful for this drawer, for the drugs in it (which have changed over the years several times–if you want to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of prozac vs. zoloft vs. lamictal vs. lexapro vs. a couple others I don’t remember at this point, I’m your gal) and for the doctors and therapists and friends and family members who have helped me get my shit together and get the help and medication I need to treat my anxiety and depression.

And yet, right now, I really hate that fucking drawer.

I hate that I have to cut my lexapro doses into little quarters as I wean off a higher “winter” dose to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I hate the bitter taste of the pill residue that gets caught in my throat sometimes when I don’t cut the pills perfectly. I hate the fact that that higher dose made me incredibly drowsy in the afternoons for two months and eliminated my libido. I hate that these pills make it hard for me to lose weight and even, sometimes, to experience joy. I hate the fact that I rely, to some extent, on a pill to make myself “normal,” if there is such a thing.

I know that these feelings are valid–and likely temporary. I also know that there are alternatives to medication that I may try down the road in addition to my current therapy regimen. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they work, that’s great. I also know that if I decide to try those methods and they don’t work, that’s okay, too, and meds will still be there and probably still be able to help me from falling into a non-functional depressive black hole.

I sincerely hope no one thinks that I’m saying meds are inherently bad or that no one should take them; I don’t think that at all. If you are feeling low, and especially if you are thinking of harming yourself, please go get help, and if a doctor or therapist thinks meds will help, consider their advice seriously. I’m also not advocating that anyone take meds if they truly feel they aren’t working for them. Basically, I’m the non-judgmental ninja over here, promise!

All I’m doing is sharing with you that, for whatever reason, this week I’m just tired of the process. I’m tired of opening that drawer. I think it’s okay to be tired sometimes. It’s okay to hate the drawer and to feel grateful for it at the same time. I hope, if you have a drawer, you know that, too.

 

 

The Thirty-First Year of the Jackie

So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).

Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.

This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby!  What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”

I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.

This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.

What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.

I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.

I experienced the love of my family, and the grief of saying goodbye to a family member, albeit a furry one. I also experienced the excitement of welcoming a new love into my life, though this created drama with my old love, which was iced coffee (sorry bae).

I experienced the stress and exhilaration of travel, from people-watching the crazy costume-clad nerds of San Diego Comic Con to getting knocked up by food in Florence and trudging through the rain in Paris in super ugly shoes and seeing Britney dance way worse than when I saw her on tour when I was sixteen.

I witnessed two amazing couples get married on opposite-ish sides of the country and cried my eyes out both times because I AM A SAP, OK?

I experienced breakdowns and bad nights, and discovered new coping mechanisms to pick myself up when I fall or when the world seems too much to handle.

In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.

So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂

Love,

The Birthday Girl

 

 

The Power of the Doodle

I had a great weekend.  On Saturday, I worked on NaNoWriMo and followed it up with a fantastic evening complete with Thai food, wine, friends, and Mad Men.  Then, yesterday, a friend visiting from out of town and I took the Caltrain down to South Bay to see our other friend’s (too adorable to exist) new baby.  Finally, last night I started knitting a new sparkly scarf and decided to re-watch a couple of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls before conking out for NINE UNINTERRUPTED (HUZZAH!) HOURS OF SLEEP!  It was a fantastic weekend, full of friends and activities and fun and personal time.

It was also the weekend containing one of the worst breakdowns I’ve had in recent memory.

From about 11 to 2 am from Saturday night into Sunday morning, I cried uncontrollably and felt like a horrible, worthless, bad, evil person.  The demon voice in my head was at full volume.  I’m not sure why I lost it so hard.  It’s likely that the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine I drank had something to do with it (note to self–when your brain chemistry is already effed up and making you clinically depressed, do not consume additional substances that are known depressants), but I know it’s also likely the effect of the season and the upcoming holidays.  November and December are two of the best and worst months of the year.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas in general, but I hate the pressure to enjoy food and drink without gaining weight (ha! hahaha!) and the societal expectation that I have a significant other to share all the festivities with (whether or not I want to be coupled at present).  I love the decorations and lights, but hate the fact that the sun sets IN FREAKING CALIFORNIA at 4:45 pm, which makes me want to vomit endlessly and also live inside a giant onesie until March.  As Dickens said, it is a good and bad epoch at the same time (I think that’s what he said…ish?  I’m paraphrasing.  I haven’t read that one since high school because I have an aversion to stories depicting decapitation).

The point is, I had a really bad night of weeping and dark thoughts.  I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, but it was too late to call friends or family without being exceptionally rude.  So I had what turned out to be a good idea: I went online to my favorite website’s Saturday Night Social open thread, where a wonderful poster gave me the following advice:

If you’re at a loss for something to do tonight, while you’re in this dark place, create something beautiful. A painting, a sketch, or (as a friend of mine who battles self-harm herself does) use markers to draw beautiful designs wherever you’re tempted to harm. Make beauty there.

I read this person’s post and immediately went to my “Crafts” box (yep, I have a crafts box because I AM IN MY THIRTIES AND LIKE TO MAKE HOMEMADE GREETING CARDS SOMETIMES OK?) and dug out my markers and colored pencils, and I drew this:

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It took about 30 minutes to make, and it’s obviously not, you know, good*.  But in those thirty minutes, I stopped crying.  I also had some fun.  I explored, uh, symmetry (is that a thing you can explore, art people?  You know what, I’m just going to say it is.  Go symmetry!).  Best of all, after finishing my doodle I was able to curl up in my bed and finally fall asleep so I could spend the following day with my friends and one hella cute baby without passing out.

So it was still was a great weekend despite the breakdown–not just because of my great friends and fun activities (and in spite of too much wine), but because I discovered a new tool to dig myself out of a tough spot.  I discovered the Power of the Doodle as yet one more way for me to manage my often unruly brain.  All Hail the Doodle!

Have a great rest of the week, and stay strong through those early sunsets 🙂

*So, art people, if you actually do think this is good in some sort of avant-garde way please let me know so I can sell it for one million american dollars.  That’s how art works, right?  RIGHT? 

How to remain sane in a crazy world

I haven’t blogged in over a week, and there are several reasons for this:

  1. I became engaged to Iced Coffee and have been spending a lot of time planning our wedding (wedding planning is no joke, especially when your fiancé is a chilled caffeinated beverage and also SO EFFING NEEDY AND YES HONEY THE WEDDING WILL BE IN A REFRIGERATED ENVIRONMENT CHILL OUT – WELL, CHILL OUT MORE, OK?).

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 11.26.22 PM2.  I had like actual editing/writing things to do which took actual time because I AM A PROFESSIONAL WRITER NOW OK?

3.  I may or may not have started reading Twilight Reimagined and then cried because I spent twelve bucks on a CTRL-F name/gender replacement of a book I didn’t like too much to begin with it because I thought it might be mildly interesting, and, you know, an actual new, original book (Lies.  All lies).

4.  The world SUCKS.

This last one has been the biggest reason for my radio silence.

Murder, rape, bigotry, mayhem, climate change, gross pictures of Justin Bieber’s naked body – these are just some of the atrocities we are bombarded with on TV, in the newspaper, and on the internet on a daily basis.  However, the shooting last week in Roseburg, Oregon kicked off such a week of complete and utter world stress shit that it shut me down, including but not limited to: the Kunduz bombing, presidential candidates saying more ridiculous shit about how victims of gun violence are somehow at fault for their own deaths (?), that new Muppets show, and another TWO school shootings in the last two days alone.

So I did what you sometimes have to do to remain sane in a crazy world: I hid.  I hid in work, and long walks, and HGTV (David won on Love It or List It and it was NOT OK), and long talks with my mother on the phone, and even in that new Twilight book (seriously, though, guys, just don’t buy it).  And all of that was ok, because it made me more ready to face the world again.

So I decided today was the day to jump back in, starting with this post.  Ironically, I found out from Twitter that today, my day of jumping back in, is actually designated as World Mental Health Day.  What a great day to acknowledge that I needed a break from this imperfect, stressful, often sick world, and that there’s no shame in that.  What a great day to remember the things I’m grateful for – things like family, and friends, and my new fiancé Iced Coffee (love you bae), and humor, and art, and all the people who work so hard to fix everything wrong with the world.  What a great day to celebrate the necessity and beauty of self-care.  What a great day to remember that I’m not alone.  What a great day to go get some more iced coffee.

I wish for you, dear reader, the ability and time to step away from the world when you need to, so that you can rejoin it stronger and ready to help make it better in your own way 🙂 ❤

Shame (Part I)

Disclaimer: this post is not about the film “Shame” starring Michael Fassbender.  I have not seen this film, but am assured by many that it is great, and also that you get to see Michael Fassbender naked in it, so I understand if you got excited upon reading the title of this blog post and are now intensely disappointed.  Sorry.

Brené Brown, a researcher/therapist/speaker type person who specializes in shame and vulnerability, defines shame as the sense that we are not worthy of love or belonging because we are deeply flawed.  This is a definition of shame that I am familiar with after 2 years in therapy, but only recently have I truly understood this definition in my heart and soul and come to grips with the extent to which shame has shaped my life.

Some of my earliest recollections are of feeling ashamed, especially regarding my body.  When you’re a young girl who, ahem, develops early, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in your life feels the need to comment on your body, from fellow students to teachers (oh, the skeezy male teachers, how I DON’T miss you), relatives, and strangers on the street.  Now, I’m not trying to be all “woe is me!” because I had boobs at age 10 – ALL kids, especially girls, are shamed by others about their bodies at one point or another.  The point is that I, like most people, grew up with shame, and it still defines me – except now as an adult, my shame about my body has lessened (somewhat) and has been replaced by other shames…pieces of myself that I’m afraid to name out loud to my closest friends, family members, and therapists, much less to the internet at large.

And that’s too bad, because the way out of shame is vulnerability.  Being open and honest and risking failure or rejection or hatred or disgust – THAT is how to regain a sense of worthiness, of belonging.  That is how to overcome the limitations of shame.  Vulnerability is the light shining in the darkness, the sun revealed by a shifting cloud, the…other metaphor about light?  I dunno, insert one yourself, I’ve run out of metaphors because I only had one cup of coffee.

Here on this blog, I’ve shared a lot of myself, especially regarding my depression and anxiety and even body confidence.  But I still feel unworthy and like I don’t belong.  Why?  Because there’s so much more I could share, that part of me is DYING to share, but that I can’t bring myself to even whisper aloud.  I don’t have the courage yet.  There are secrets (not, like, “I murdered someone!” secrets, to be clear, but still, secrets) that I rarely, if ever, discuss with the most important people in my life because a primal part of me just KNOWS that if I talk about these things I will be rejected and banned from the human experience.  The universe will confirm what part of me has always known – that I am fundamentally and irreversibly wrong.

So basically I feel like a coward – another source of shame.  I’ve been vulnerable on this blog and in my personal life, but only about certain things, so I vulnerability-shame myself (#vulnerabilityshaming, let’s get it rolling peeps) to the point of paralysis.

So how do you overcome shame with vulnerability when you’re ashamed of your lack of vulnerability regarding your shame?

I’m not the therapist, I don’t effing know, but I’m going to give it a stab by posting this entry and being vulnerable to you, dear reader, about my lack of vulnerability.  I’m saying it out loud (well, out loud on the internet): In my own mind, I am a coward for not being vulnerable enough.  I don’t have the courage to say the things I really want to say.  I am a fraud.  Sorry.

So there it is – my entry on Shame: Part 1.  I don’t know if this will make any sense to anyone; it hardly makes sense to me.  I don’t when – or if – I will write a Part 2.  For now, I hope that this is enough, and I wish you all the ability to be vulnerable in the face of shame, because you are a worthwhile, lovable person.  You are enough.

xo