The Last 97 Days of Jessie Doing Life

Ohhhhh heeeyyyyy, guyyyyssss. . .

It’s been 97 days since my last post! That’s almost 1/4 of the entire year of 2017. A lot’s been going on and I definitely have tons to write about (and have been getting on myself for NOT posting about!) but ya know what? I’ve been living! And thanks to my weekly therapy with Ms. Therapist I learned and have been applying the super solid advice of not getting on myself about “should” or “need to” but instead emphasizing “want to” or “will”.

doinglife

Jessie buys a house

So. . . I bought a house (closed in March after 3 months of a soul-crushing back and forth with the seller – a seller who remained in the house until the morning of the close – cool, right??), obsessed over getting it as ready as possible for public viewing, then hosted a housewarming party where my different groups of friends came together, along with my mom and brother, AND new boyfriend. That was intense. My house is still unfinished and I’m trying not to let it make me twitchy (again, I WILL, not I should. . .).

 

Jessie does dating

I went on 3 first dates in the last week of April (I was supposed to have 4 but I bailed on one guy last minute). The first first date, on a Tuesday, ended with both of us ghosting each other afterward, oddly satisfying. The second first date was like meeting a friend at some chain restaurant and talking about weird things but feeling no chemistry. That ended in an exchange of texts where he asked how I thought it went (I put it gently that I had fun but didn’t feel a spark) and he proceeded to tell me “yeah, I didn’t feel a spark” – THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE??? Gah! But whatevs. Friday I had the traditional dinner and drink date with a guy who seemed super nervous but was funny and easy to talk to, I was pretty sure he was wearing bowling shoes though. He and I said we’d hang out again (no kiss on the first date). Then the following Sunday night I had a date with a guy I thought was the most promising out of the 4 eligible bachelors I had been texting (via Sideline, a single gal’s best friend for using fake digits while dating!). We got along fine, he was funny and nice and flattering, then as it turned out he was going to the same show I was the next night. I was going solo so we agreed to go together. He walked me to my car and we kissed, not too shabby! Anyway, this all was 3 months ago and fast forward to now, the nervous guy with bowling shoes from the Friday date and I are officially boyfriend/girlfriend and it’s super healthy and awesome. Legit, he’s fantastic. And legit, our relationship so far is my favorite. I may write more about it, or I might leave that entirely private, I’m not sure yet. But it’s a big component of my happiness for now so there’s that! Yay!

 

Jessie does her job. . . ish

I feel like my job/office is a disaster at this point in my career. It’s such a mess that I’ve permanently got this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ deal going on. I’ve adopted repeating the mantra “stress is the difference between expectation and reality” so I remind myself that by having no expectations, I don’t really get disappointed by reality! Woooooohooooo lowering expectations! I’m also doing more to work on my business plan for world domination. That’ll be a while and I’m not about to put that in my SHOULD pile, I WANT to and I WILL put that together and rock it.

 

Jessie does political stuffs

I’m super duper excited to be the Co-Curriculum Chair for my local chapter of the New Leaders Council for 2018. Training future progressive leaders and helping them make connections so that they can be the change in our community, that makes my heart so happy. I attended an intense bootcamp-type deal last weekend for campaign staff training, that was exhausting and neat. I learned that with my thin skin and desire to spread sparkles I could be best suited as a campaign candidate’s “Scheduler” – we’ll see if that career path is in my future. . .

 

Jessie does life. . . well. . .

I’ve battled with binge eating for 25 years. I use therapy to try to work on it currently but I haven’t found much help in talking about it. I considered going to a local overeaters anonymous group but that has yet to happen. However, I have been rather successfully sticking to tracking what I eat on an app called MyNetDiary and working on a 30 day exercise challenge (another app!) with my boyfriend and good friend as accountabilibuddies helping keep me on track. It’s been two weeks and I’m getting comments from friends, coworkers, and my family that I’m looking good (even Ms. Therapist commented before I told her what I was doing! – yaaassssssss!!). I only have one body and if I treat this one like crap I won’t be enjoying life very much except from a couch – and eff that jazz.

 

And there you have it! At least everything I can think of right now. . . Hopefully I’ll be posting more! I WANT to! But I won’t be telling myself I SHOULD!

Respond not React – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 01

Safe space honesty time. . . I’m a little defensive. Ok, super safe space real talk time. . . I’m super defensive. Like, all the time. I take things personally that have nothing to do with ME as a person. A recent example: I’m buying a house and it’s in a neighborhood that some people find uncomfortable – that’s a whole deal of its own – and I was explaining this to someone who was asking where I live. Rather than simply explaining where my house will be I started becoming defensive (this was via messenger) and my tone was combative as if where my house was WAS ME.

The person I was messaging didn’t respond for a bit and I had a chance to read back through what I had hastily written then wrote one more message: “not that I’m defensive or anything”

A lot of my recent efforts in my personal growth have been recognizing where I am being less than a stellar human being. My defensiveness is definitely off-putting which pushes people away and rightfully so. I believe it’s another one of my attempts at keeping myself behind a wall of self-preservation so that no one can hurt me. Not a good thing if I ever want to find my partner in crime.

I brought this up with Ms. Therapist yesterday and she had some wisdom to share that I’d like to pass on to you!

A few things. . .

 

Don’t Take it Personally

Seriously, if my group of friends decide to go to a restaurant other than the one I suggested, this has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME! That thought is paranoid and self-centered (my critique, not Ms. Therapist’s). If I’m talking to someone about my house, I am talking about my HOUSE and not me. These seem like super obvious statements but alas, not to my brain. I will be working on this. Within relationships I realize that I would take feedback from partners personally – when truly their feedback is on my BEHAVIOR and not on me. Really, that just feels like getting my head out my ass and being a grownup – which I believe I’ve been getting better at. (maybe?)

 

Respond NOT React

When I’m in a situation or a conversation that has the potential for me to take something personally I will try to respond to what comes up rather than react. A response is something that is thought out after a momentary pause. A reaction is an immediate kneejerk blurting out of whatever is coming out of my brain first. If I know that my brain is (for the time) wired to fire off a defensive reaction then I can put the effort in to retrain my brain to pause for a minute, ignore that defensive voice, and formulate an appropriate response.

 

Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.

I’m pretty sure there are elementary school teachers with this saying on a motivational poster hanging up in their classroom somewhere. I can be REALLY mean. When I REACT (rather than responding) I can go low which is something I am not proud of and aim to improve in myself. In the heat of an argument (which is all reaction and seldom ever response) mean things are said that cannot be un-said. In the last long-term relationship I was in I did VERY well with biting my tongue during arguments because for once it was my partner who had the loudest issues and they were the one reacting so I had to be the one responding so that it didn’t turn into a shouting match. This sentence of sage advice is a skill for sure though – I know we’re taught the Golden Rule and all but I think a lot of kids forget that once they hit middle school and it’s “bully or be bullied” (I was the one being bullied).

 

So there you have it. This week’s takeaways from therapy. And look, it didn’t even cost you a copay!

good-luck

My Vision Statement – She Should Run

Hello everyone!

I’ve been immersed in several useless wastes of energy lately that I’ll be struggling to wrangle into order so that I can start 2017 off right. Fuck 2016, amirite?

One very cool thing that I’ve started is the She Should Run online incubator which is one of the most exciting things to come of 2016.

Lesson 1: Develop Your Vision for Making an Impact

I wrote about 6 versions of this before finally just releasing it into the ether of the internets. I had to let it go in order to move on. I wanted to share what I came up with though because it applies to my blog (it mentions my blog!) and I spoke from my heart 100% – as I feel I do in this here space as well. Please feel free to read at your leisure and comment if you can suggest any edits that may make this vision statement more powerful for a political campaign-type purpose (I’m not running any time soon or anything, but I might as well start getting feedback now!).

 

In 2014 suicide was listed as the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10 to 24 and 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.*

In 1999 at the age of 15 I attempted suicide because I could see no escape from the emotions that I felt trapped within for over 4 years. Because of this attempt I was committed to a psychiatric facility where instead of taking the opportunity to heal I continued to lie to my family, my treatment team, and worst of all, myself as I stood my ground in declaring that I was perfectly fine; there was nothing wrong with me. I grew up in a middle class nuclear family with as much privilege as you would imagine a Caucasian girl in the suburbs would have. Because I was aware of this privilege I struggled with asking for help when I needed it. Who was I, someone who had two working parents and a decent path to college to cry over what seemed like nothing at all? Who was I to refuse to get out of bed every morning when I had a bed in a good neighborhood? Who was I to be sad when I had nothing justifiable to be sad about? I felt so much shame not only for harboring a mental illness but also shame for not wanting to exist when I had so many more reasons that I should be grateful and not miserable.

I suffered my bipolar disorder for 8 years after that suicide attempt before I would admit to a licensed professional that I might need help. That was 8 years of quitting jobs abruptly, arguing with partners over nothing on any given day, losing the respect of my friends, and allowing my self-worth to wan and wax with the cycles of my bipolar; all because of the shame and stigma that went with it in our culture. At 23 I began seeing a therapist and psychiatrist but it still wasn’t until another 4 years later that I actually took my mental health care seriously.  Finally, at the age of 27 I started treating my bipolar like a diabetic would their diabetes; monitoring my medications and my reactions to them, checking in regularly with my physicians, I recruited my close friends to be my support team, recording my symptoms and how they change, and taking it seriously as a life and death matter because it truly can be.

I didn’t talk openly about my bipolar to my friends, family, and previous partner until 3 years ago after I had sought out serious treatment. I was embarrassed that I knew something was wrong that entire time and had failed to do anything about it. I was embarrassed that I had a “mental illness”. I felt like I was now certifiably defective. In reality I had played into all of the damaging stigmas of mental illness and because of that I suffered needlessly for far too many years. It has taken me a very long time to embrace who I am, to openly admit my mental health struggles, and to say that I have something of value to offer my community because of these things.

In November of 2015 I joined Toastmasters in an effort to learn to speak publicly about mental health so that I can help make this a topic that we aren’t ashamed of. I want someone who is struggling at the age of 15 to identify their feelings of total apathy and emptiness as possible depression and be comfortable talking to their school counselor about it. I want us to have conversations about mental health just as we do about physical health, because there should be as much shame about anxiety as there is about a broken arm, which is to say none.

In this past year I’ve shared my story through social media and on a blog that I write somewhat regularly. I’ve been messaged, retweeted, tagged, emailed, and continue to received heartfelt comments expressing gratitude for my candid approach to discussing my own struggles with mental health. There are people all over the world who have not yet found a way to get over the stigma of mental illness and so they continue self-medicating or hide their emotions. I was recently messaged by a reader who said that I inspired them to become more open about their issues with anxiety, and that despite their worries of being negatively received they’ve gotten nothing but love and support from the people they’ve opened up to.

This brings me to why I’m here with She Should Run; I want to help give a voice to those who don’t feel strong or confident enough to be their own voice yet. I want to empower those who feel they don’t have a say to realize that they have much more than they know right now and they have the power to use it for the benefit of everyone in our community. I want to speak up for the homeless, the prison population, the addicts, and the veterans who might not realize that a part of their suffering could come from mental illness. I want to be a part of the governing body that decides to allocate resources to help repair this. I want to fight to end youth suicide due to mental illness with comprehensive mental health programs, especially in at-risk areas. I want to use whatever privilege I have to help those who have less.

 

* Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The Danger of Perceived Security

During my business conference an instructor quoted Helen Keller and it struck a chord.

There truly is no such thing as security. My life right now is about trying to build myself up to be as solid as possible – independent from codependency, debt, possessions, and the need for approval. During this time I’m also prepping for that big jump, whatever it may be, so that I’m completely ready to face my fears. I’m open to any and all opportunities because, like Helen Keller alludes to, there is no such thing as a safe bet.

I hope you can find courage in this quote rather than fear. Embrace the fact that in the end, there’s only you and you’ve got to make the most out of that.

 

announcement

Perspective: Entitlement vs Gratitude

Here’s how I’m seeing things currently: 

My apartment does not have central AC in Florida, I don’t get paid what I deserve, I was just told by my landlady that she’s selling my place, I have to take medications every day to be at a base level of happy, I go to bed alone, I’m stuck working an 8-5 and trying to figure out a side hustle for the foreseeable future because: bills, I have a car payment now after an accident totaled the car I nearly paid off and loved, I miss my dad, and my level of physical fitness is sad. 

Those are the things I think. 
Here’s what I am constantly encouraging myself to replace those thoughts with: 

I have an apartment that I can afford in a place that I like and enough income to buy fans, I enjoy the work that I do and the people I work with – plus I just spoke up about my rate so I’ve said my belief to the person who matters and we’ll see what happens, there are always housing options – they may not be perfect but they might just be even better, I don’t have to take medications to stay alive – I have learned coping mechanisms and have a support system – it would just be a decrease in quality of life, my bed is empty because I’m waiting for my perfect partner in crime and am done settling (let me tell you it took an embarrassing amount of time to learn that) – plus I have my new kitty Ellie who likes to sleep at my feet, I can see there’s a way out of the corporate grind and I am working my way toward it – in the meantime I don’t HATE my job like most people do, I survived two car accidents in the span of a month – suck it up, I have a mom and a brother that I love and I have so so many good memories of my dad, and DAMMIT JESSIE – you have no right to complain if you choose cupcakes over bike rides – quit making excuses! 
So that’s my little internal monologue of practicing gratitude rather than negative entitlement. 

Put my best foot forward and I’m bound to get SOMEWHERE. 

Right?

Also, here’s my kitty, Ellie, she makes me smile. Even when she interrupts my reading. And my one AC unit, it makes me happy too.