Quick Political Post – When the Party isn’t Fun Any More

I’ve been getting more locally politically involved and I love it. I’m learning about racial justice, climate justice, health justice, and about how there’s inequality in nearly every aspect of American culture. I hope to one day run for a local position of some sort to help create equality for all. That’s where I’m at in my political life right now. 

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the American primary election then voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election because Bernie got her to agree to a lot of his platform. Plus trump terrified me. 

The meeting of the German Chancellor and #45. . . How absolutely infuriatingly cringe-worthy. What a childish mysoginist. And that has nothing to do with my political beliefs – I’m stating nothing about his policy – simply his human decency and decorum. It was disgusting and embarrassing to watch. 

Now, I’m a lifelong Democrat. When I registered to vote at 18 I honestly didn’t know much about parties but felt my beliefs aligned with the dems more and I wanted to be able to vote in the primaries. 

Now that I’ve been more aware (or “woke” as people say now) I’m beginning to rethink my political affiliation. I find I don’t agree with a two party system and should I run I want to represent outside of that. I don’t like binaries in any aspect of life. Why shouldn’t I run as a person ready to attempt to dismantle the powerful two party system? I ask this question and even amongst open-minded democrats I find I’m getting pushback. So do I switch to independent and “lose the support of my party”? I’m thinking yes, because that party doesn’t represent my interests any longer and the fact that they can use the threat of losing their power, well, why do they have all that power?? Power is part of the problem! 

I don’t expect answers on this blog, it’s just been something I’ve wanted to get out of my head for a bit. 

Goodbye Depression, Hello Productivity!

 

The bodyachieves

Goodbye, Depression!

Alas! It appears as though the clouds have parted by way of the damn seller of the house I’m buying finally getting his poop in a group and hiring another structural engineer! We had a closing date set for March 14th, with that looming I hadn’t heard from the seller about any of the repairs that needed to be done to the house and that pushed me into a depression. I can say that was the predominant cause of the depression now because once I was told the NEW closing date (the 28th, less than two weeks from now) and that he hired another engineer but all of the other repairs were good to go, the depression almost instantly left. Apparently buying a house that was built in 1925 is not as straight forward as buying a condo or a newer house – oh well, I will love that damn house for the REST OF MY YEARS!

Buying a house as a single female without a ton of money is incredibly stressful. Thank the sweet baby Moses that Florida still has a bond program that helps with down payments/ closing costs for first time home buyers (and that I’m acting before that ish gets taken away) because I wouldn’t be able to do this without that assistance. I’m tired of paying rent and moving EVERY SINGLE YEAR OF MY LIFE SINCE COLLEGE!!!

Hello, Productivity!

Now, on to fun things – PRODUCTIVITY! I’m still a little flustered so my action steps are only on paper for now and likely will be for a while until things get settled in my new digs but my ideas are flowing from my brain, through my fingertips and onto paper, into my Google Keep phone app, or written out old school pen and paper style in my Passion Planner!

I’m narrowing in on my passion. . . what I want to do with my life. It ain’t sitting in a cubicle, I can tell you that! I’m still not 100% sure what it is just yet but I think I might just want to be a life coach for creative entrepreneurs. I am REALLY good at encouraging other people to do things, especially creative things. I make worksheets, do mind maps, follow up with them, brainstorm, give feedback, and GENUINELY care about others’ goals. I may not have my poop in a group just yet but I am damn good at helping other people with herding their cats! Every ex partner from my adult dating life has had a creative interest – music, videos, writing – and for every single one of them I became this ultimate cheerleader – and not the usual “oh, they’re my partner so I support them” but a real deal “Ok, this is your goal, how can we do this together? How can I help you? How about this? Have you seen/heard/done/tried this? Want me to do/try/help/say/blah/whatever for you?” Creativity is MY JAM and helping others with their goals is also MY JAM and if you haven’t read about my entrepreneurial endeavors yet, do so here and here because then you’ll see that entrepreneurship is also MY JAM.

I am so pumped for the schemes I’ve got a’ cooking. It will take time, LOTS of dedication, persistence, focus, support, and remembering my goal on a daily basis (as in, not get distracted with the other pretty colors and random things I can tend to stray to chase).

 

Is there anything YOU’RE working on that you’re super pumped about? Or are you in the mental health roadblock that I had been facing for the past few weeks?

 

The mighty meh

the mighty

I truly am doing my best to keep my head above water and not to succumb to this depression. According to Ms. Therapist I’m doing well at it but to me it feels like I’m putting up with a “pile of shit”, to borrow from the creative genius of Drop Dead Fred.

 

Sure I’m going to work, seeing friends, doing laundry, did my taxes, painting, eating, breathing, talking to humans like a normal human, and I even went to the gym with a personal trainer. . . but it all feels like a stupid charade. I think it’s the distance that being medicated for the past few years has given me that’s allowing me to see just how ridiculous it is.

I talked to Ms. Therapist about this depression and although I know a portion of my current status is chemically caused, she pointed out that it’s also likely environmentally seeing as how there are a lot of things in the “pile of shit” category right now. I brought up how I usually fell into a depression then because it’s easier to process something when there’s a reason I would ASSIGN reasons to what was genuinely just a brain chemistry thing. Already in my week or so of depression I’ve gone through the handy list of: my job is unfulfilling, I’m single, my BFFs live far away, there are too many things to do, my dad’s death, the current political climate, my house that may never actually go through, being overweight with an eating disorder, the mortality of loved ones, and just a laundry list of reasons that combined – yes, do contribute.

In short, I’m tired emotionally and physically because of the mighty meh. I want it to be gone. I have living to do and happiness to feel. If it could just kindly show itself the door and get lost, that would be swell.

99 Coping Skills – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 02

good-luck

Happy Thursday! I’ve been swamped with life stuff while also feeling the drag of depression nagging at me (“the blob” as I call it) so this’ll be short and sweet. 

While explaining my depression to Ms. Therapist and telling her even painting wasn’t helping because it was “too much” she pulled out this handy dandy list of 99 coping skills from some group that I’m assuming is religious. While I’m not religious I thought I’d share it because there are some good ones on this list like building a pillow fort, drawing on yourself with markers, watching fish, and looking at pretty things. 

I hope some of them resonate and can help you too!

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Even the Medicated Get Melancholy

I’ve started scheduling blog posts so there’s already one that I wrote a few days ago but scheduled to post for today published. 

However. . .

I am feeling frustratingly empty right now to the point of tears and I’m practicing opening up – so here’s me sharing. 

The blessing of being medicated is finally going through life with only small shifts in the currents of my moods rather than the turbulent tides I was used to a few years ago. You happily forget what it’s like to feel depression – to feel like you want nothing more than to exist as a blob wrapped in blankets doing nothing, saying nothing, and trying your hardest to think nothing. That’s what my depression looks like. 

Where did this come from? I’m taking my meds, going to therapy, painting, hanging out with friends sometimes (probably not as much as I could), avoiding negative news, and trying to appreciate the positives. So what gives? 

I feel like I’m never going to find love, I’m never going to figure out my full potential, I’m never going to fit in anywhere, I’m never going to manage my bad habits, I’m never going to lose the weight I want to and thus never look how I want to and thus never attract my partner in crime, I’m never going to want to leave this bed.

Seriously, where did this come from? I hate it. I also hate opening up and feeling vulnerable so all of those thoughts – while they’ve been active – have never been expressed before. 

Depression is so fucking tricky because it’s your brain lying to you and convincing you that who you think you are on the good days is the lie, rather than it being the lie itself. 

I hate this. I’m just going to go to sleep and hope I wake up feeling like myself again. I’ve got an exciting meeting tomorrow and if depressed Jessie is the one who wakes up it’s gonna be a tough day of maintaining the facade of being fine. 

Art Therapy

Here in the US we’re going through a bit of a crisis. Well, those of us who are more liberal minded and concern ourselves with causes like social justice seem to be in a state of crisis at least. I think as a country we became complacent with the status quo then for myself personally, I saw in Bernie Sanders a real opportunity to put social issues at the forefront of policy changes should he have been the Democratic candidate to go up against trump. But. . . due to a series of suspiciously unfortunate events he was elected to be our Democratic candidate or even an independent candidate and thus we have landed our country in a position to be mocked across the globe and with absolute reason.

My point in this introduction is that I want to explain how soul crushing this past month has been thanks to “45” (it’s what I’ll call the current president because his name is too triggery) being an uneducated and boisterous child with concern only for attention and money. The emboldened racists and misogynists who are gaining confidence in the acceptability of their beliefs now that they have a PRESIDENT who shares their views are becoming louder than those of us who believe in equality and justice for all. It’s terrifying. Almost paralyzing. Some days I want to shut down and the reason isn’t my chemical depression – it can be traced back to ONE MAN running for PRESIDENT OF A FREE COUNTRY. That sentence is so upsetting and frustrating and makes me feel powerless.

Thus, I have been painting a lot lately to supplement my weekly therapy. And by a lot I mean every other day. . . at LEAST. I have nowhere to put my paintings I’ve painted so many.

I cannot express in words how therapeutic I find smooshing a bunch of bright, pretty paint around a fresh white canvas. I suppose it’s a release similar to what people who are obsessed with running feel? I’m not sure, I loathe running. I sit in my little apartment’s living room with some movie on in the background (no cable or internet so it’s just the DVDs I own), in a crappy lawn chair (I never bought a couch or moved in my real chair – never wanted to haul it upstairs), surrounded by my rainbow explosion of paint tubes and paint 1-5 canvases in one night. All of my angst is gone for those 1-6 hours. All of it. No facebook news feed, no racism, no hate, none of my rights being taken away, just me and my creativity.

Now, I know this is not a long term solution and I by no means see it as such. This has been my escape for the month of February. I told myself I could have the month of February to ignore everything and focus on myself. I am no good to my community if I’m a mess. Now that it’s March, I’m already in full swing activist mode – more on that later. For now, here’s a sampling of my paintings! Just keep in mind, these are THERAPEUTIC – not artistic – so be gentle on the judging!

 

Random grouping that gives you an idea of my style
Rainbow birch bark series
Trying to not use the entire canvas
One of my favorites!
Another favorite – I like lots of bright colors
Rainbows!

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

I’m Seeing Someone. . . My Therapist

You guys! I’ve been going to weekly mental health counseling for the past 5 weeks and I have never felt better. I’ve also been avoiding the news and social media which helps a lot too.

I went to a therapist who my psychiatrist recommended and so far, we’ve been doing very well. She’s around my age, I think (I’m awful at guessing age), and she’s got Gumpy Cat chotchkies in her office which I consider to be a good sign. It’s like the modern version of the old school “Hang in there, baby!” kitten on a tree limb poster. These days nobody has the time or patience to sugarcoat things sometimes so it’s just a big fat NOPE. I like to think of it as a motivational NOPE though.

hang-in-there

So far Ms. Therapist has helped me calm down about the way that I’m usually torn and paralyzed by the amount of goals I have. I’ve realized that although I really do want to get my masters in psychology it isn’t going to help on my immediate goals and therefore it’s ok to put on the back burner and not feel guilty about “ignoring it”. I even created worksheets so that I can track the planning and success of individual goals! Have I filled them out yet? Noooo. . . But shh. . . that leads to my next therapy-driven revelation.

I am trying to stop saying “I should”. I know, it seems like a trivial little action to have an impact on my mental health but holy Hannah it has helped! Because I’m prone to juggling 5 goals at once I have usually been guilt-ridden at my lack of action toward all of them- even when making steps toward achieving one or two of them I would negative self-talk about how I SHOULD be doing a million other things. Even just now thinking about it I’m getting an anxious feeling. But now, I’m training myself to say “I will” which helps to relieve that self-imposed pressure. Like, I should be working on my She Should Run incubator material. But. . . and reference my point in the above paragraph. . . that is not my immediate goal and one day I WILL complete it. BAM! Such a tiny change creates such a grand shift in my emotional state.

I also went on a date last week (ok, I’m not entirely sure if it was like a double date or a chaperoned date or just hanging out with a someone and another couple – I have no idea – this is being single at 32 apparently) and that led my therapist and I into a discussion about relationships and where I’m at with what I want. It was nice to talk about that with someone other than a friend because of course my friends are going to say nice things, meanwhile my therapist asks probing questions to help me figure out what I’m looking for exactly.

She has also helped a TREMENDOUS amount in my house-buying adventures. And by adventures I mean like hiking a really difficult mountain with an overcast sky so that the view’s not even worth the struggle yet. I’m hoping that my struggle will pay off soon. . . March 14th to be exact but apparently this whole house buying game is unpredictable even when there are contracts involved. My therapist has helped put my stress in perspective and appreciate how much I’m doing/progressing. BOOM! Yeah, you’re right Ms. Therapist, I am doing a lot of big things and learning from them!!!

So there you have it, a brief synopsis of the first five sessions with my new therapist.

Hilarious moment from my first appointment – as I’m leaving our session she tells me to check out with the front desk and asks:

Ms. Therapist: You can schedule your next appointment with her. How often were you thinking of coming?
Me: I was thinking like every week.
Ms. Therapist: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

Hahahaha, yes yes, I am in need of weekly mental health tune-ups because ya know what? I’ve been neglecting myself for far too long and it’ll take some time to get my poop in a group (a friend of mine’s replacement for “get your shit straight” when she’s around her kids).

Playlists for EVERYONE this V Day!

Oh geez. . . I started this idea two weeks ago and I neglected it so that I could paint instead – which isn’t to say it’s been a waste.

I planned to write out a quippy little playlist for the lovers, the steadily singles, and the recently departed duos out there this Valentine’s day and I got maybe 1/3 done with that goal. Since this blog is about how my life REALLY is rather than how I could make it seem all pretty and perfectly wrapped in a bow – I shall share with you the rather unfinished work in progress that shall remain a work in progress. . . not a failure so much as an “attempt”.

I hope you enjoy! And if you’d like to listen to them, I’ve linked to my Spotify playlists so you can hear them on your chosen media players!

 

Love-ish Playlist

Open this playlist in spotify by clicking here!

Divinyls – I Touch Myself
Aside from the obvious sexual statement of this song, it starts out with the line “I love myself, I want you to love me” and you know what? That right there is THE KEY to love! You’ve got to learn how to love yourself before you can love anyone else! Real love wisdom right there.

Akon – Smack That
One for the clubs, this little love song will get your girl’s booty bouncing. It’s not often in mainstream radio rap songs you hear something that sounds like asking for consent but if a dude came up and said ”Maybe go to my place and just kick it like TaeBo” I would totally “possibly” let him bend me over and. . . yeah. . . it’s a good song.

Blackstreet – No Diggity
At its core this song is about an OG and his admiration for a certain playette.  Dr. Dre appears to have a very high level of respect for this woman and rattles off quite an extensive list of qualities he seems to deem very attractive. Now tell me, playettes, who doesn’t want that kind of affection from an original rump shaker like Dr. Dre? I know I do.

Bill Withers – Grandma’s Hands
If you’re taking this list and making a mixtape for your boo, I recommend editing this one out. It’s a different kind of love all together but a sentimental and deep love nonetheless.  And, if you actually give it a listen, you’ll notice it’s got something in common with the song above (oh 90’s, the era of “sampling”).

Mariah Carey – Fantasy
Ever notice that when famous musicians write songs that seem mildly obsessive about a secret crush they have we’re all totally cool with it? Meanwhile you know that if that creepy kid from 3rd period algebra gave you a note with the lyrics to this 90’s gem scrawled on them you’d be making a beeline straight to the cop they have in schools now. Regardless, if you’re a girl (or non-girl who just appreciates really good music from the 90’s) and you’re crushin’ on a cutie, we all know you’ve belted this out in your car at least once or twice to work those butterflies out before you know you’re going to see them.

Radiohead – Creep
On the other end of that “it’s cool if celebrities have crushes” spectrum is Thom York’s version of Fantasy. You’ve got to appreciate a dude who is fully aware of how he comes off though. He’s not beating around the bush or trying to play it cool and he is calling himself out as a total weirdo – I believe both in general and for having these strong feelings. I can’t say for sure, I have not met the guy.

Weezer – Only in Dreams

Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life

Blind Melon – No Rain

The Black Keys – Everlasting Light

Frightened Rabbit – Old Old Fashioned

Pulp – Common People

Mason Jennings – Butterfly

 

 

 

Singles (It’s cool) Playlist

Open this playlist in Spotify by clicking here!

Billy Idol – Dancing with Myself
Whether Billy’s talking about dancing or something more, we all know that being single for a while can lead to a need for some form of release and what’s healthier than dancing or. . . uh. . . love vibrations??

Murs – Pussy and Pizza
I know this sounds legit inappropriate and it partially is, but. . . calm down. It’s good, seriously. Give the lyrics a chance and you’ll see that axe body spray, donut-binging cheat days, douchebags, love, lust, and never giving a “mad fuck” are just all part of the game. Oh, and pussy and pizza.

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
Okay, these lyrics are a little scattered but I’ve always thought of this song as a call to take a break from life and be introspective for a bit. What better time than when you’re single to take inventory of your life? Do you want it to be “same as it ever was” or do you need a change? Or did I just send you on a flashback fieldtrip to the 80’s that we may never see you return from?

Weezer – Why Bother
This one’s a little on the whiney side but the fear of getting hurt again from a new love is likely a universal concern. There’s no real happy ending (thanks, Rivers, for your angsty albums) but Why Bother is super satisfying to sing at top volume and lament your single-ness occasionally. Just occasionally though, let’s not get comfortable being a whiney Rivers.

Montell Jordan – This is How We Do It
This my song, this my song!! If you’re of the “go out and mack on potential mates” persuasion, this is the jam for you. Before you hit the bars gather your crew around as you’re pre-gaming and pull this up on Spotify. I will guarantee that 60% of the time it works every time setting the most mackin’ tone for the evening.

The Streets – Don’t Mug Yourself
We’ve all been there, you met the person of your dreams the night before. You exchanged digits. You really dig them something fierce. Naturally you don’t want to let those digits go to waste so you go to text them and lucky for you, your bestie intervenes because: who likes “desperate pursuers”? If you’ve madly fallen in love after a night out (firstly, no, don’t be that weirdo) play this jam on repeat to remind yourself to PLAY IT COOL. Even if their favorite author is your favorite author and you both think Jack totally could’ve fit on that door with Rose and she was just being selfish.

The Postal Service – Clark Gable
I know, I know. The Postal Service. Gag me with a spoon. Even my bestie hates them. I get it, their saccharine-sweet lyrics and impossible-to-live-up-to sentiments could be seen as nauseating (or adorable and like Ben Gibbard is speaking to your soul) but this song just GETS it, ya know? “I want so badly to believe that “there is truth, that love is real” and I want life in every word to the extent that it’s absurd.” Don’t we all want that?? Well kids, there’s hope. Just look at Ben and Zooey! Oh, wait, they divorced? Dammit. . . Alright, well then it’s time to give up hope entirely.

Justin Timberlake – SexyBack

Liz Phair – Fuck and Run

Ben Folds – Capable of Anything

Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Want to be Funny Anymore

Doris Day – Que Sera Sera

Andrew Gold – Thank You for Being a Friend

Marvin Gaye – Got to Give it Up (Part 1)

Ginuwine – Pony

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle

James Brown – Get Up Offa that Thing

 

 

 

The Breakup Playlist

Open this playlist in Spotify by clicking here!

Barret Strong – Money (that’s What I Want)
We’ve all been there, the relationship that’s one-sided and YOU’RE the one footing the bill on everything with no real situational reason. I consider this the classier version of TLC’s “No Scrubs”. On the flip side, sometimes you find that person who cares more about the content of their/others’ bank account than their/others personality and you’d rather have a quality conversation than a fancy car. Either way, get outta there.

En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)
Oh snap, this is my break up JAM!

Ben Folds (feat Regina Spektor) – You Don’t Know Me
Gah, to be in a relationship that doesn’t actually mean anything – it’s the worst. Adding insult to injury is when they treat you like shit for this pointless carrying-on! “If I’m the person that you think I am, clueless chump you seem to think I am, so easily led astray, an errant dog who occasionally escapes and needs a shorter leash, then why the fuck would you want me back?” Ouch, Ben, time to move on.

The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
Ugh, the struggle of the fragile masculinity! A guy breaks a girl’s (or guy’s – or non-binary’s) heart and then thanks to gender norms it’s just simply not ok for him to cry about it. Thank you, Robert Smith, for declaring your love AND calling out the patriarchy – even if you’re a little late in realizing you done messed up.

Brandy and Monica – The Boy is Mine
To be cheated on. . . it’s the worst. To catch them at it and exact revenge – that’s actually pretty great (I don’t know or anything, and by revenge I don’t mean an intervention-style confrontation with all parties involved because the cheated-on parties teamed up against the cheater. Nope, college Jessie knows nothing about that). However, to be cheated on then argue with the person who played a part in the affair that was NOT your boo? No, your boo is the one to blame – that responsibility rests with them. Take up your anger and disappointment with the partner who failed you – and ya know what, maybe don’t write a song about creating a sort of cat fight out of it.

Tegan and Sara – Where Does the Good Go

Marvin Gaye – I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Death Cab for Cutie – We Looked Like Giants

Alkaline Trio – Enjoy Your Day

Backstreet Boys – Quit Paying Games (With my Heart)

Nada Surf – Popular

Genesis – I Can’t Dance

Murs – Break Up (The OJ Song)

The Clash – Train in Vain

Kate Nash – Merry Happy

Queen – I Want to Break Free

The Midwife of Mental Health

In a very surreal moment, the kind you only see in movies or on TV, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my across-the-alley neighbor’s apartment telling her boyfriend to shut his mouth as I tried to soothe her during a panic attack. I had just hung up her phone from calling her mom and realized I should probably call her best friend back, I had got off the phone with her just a few moments ago and left her likely quite confused.

I have not yet once talked to this neighbor in the last 9 months that I have lived in my apartment. I’ve said maybe 12 words to her boyfriend on two separate occasions – he smokes out on their stairwell so I see him in passing. I was leaving to meet up with a friend at a set time and as I was dragging my stuff out of my place I noticed that my neighbors were arguing – very loudly – I just figured it was the 20-30 something typical couple’s fight of whatever and yeah, yelling’s ok to some people. It didn’t seem to be abusive and I couldn’t make out anything. As I came back out for a second round of my stuff to take to my car it had escalated, I could tell she was sobbing and he was shouting orders about standing up and breathing. He stormed out and I heard him on his phone talking about how she was having a panic attack and he couldn’t handle it. Then she was screaming after him to help her – then she screamed “somebody help me!”

So. . . fuck. . . I gotta do something. The boyfriend was being a dick. I can understand both sides of it because I’ve been on both sides. I’ve had bipolar breakdowns and flipped my shit on a partner before – something which at the time I could not control and was an absolutely horrendous mess. I suppose as a test of if I had learned the lesson life was trying to teach me, I have had the same out-lash inflicted on me. I’ve also had a panic attack and witnessed others try to help me with logic then watched their frustration escalate as their logic or “solution suggesting” failed to improve my condition – which can sometimes even further escalate their reaction to anger.

I believe this boyfriend reverted to the “suggest solutions” then “use logic” and once those two things didn’t work and he didn’t understand why – he flipped and started yelling.

Let’s get something clear. You DO NOT YELL OR ESCALATE when someone is having a panic attack.

If you know someone who has a history of panic attacks, it would be very kind of you to ask them what works FOR THEM when they are having an attack. If they prefer to be left alone – then you leave them alone. If they say they prefer to be left alone when they’re not in a panicked state then once the attack hits and they decide they want you by their side – you go be by their side.

I’ve learned these things (through research and experience) and as a completely unrelated bystander I was much better suited to help.

I knocked on their door – kind of terrified actually – and the boyfriend automatically started talking about whatever whatever at me but I went straight over to her, she was slumped over on the floor, leaning against the couch. I shushed him as he kept trying to explain her panic attack – I DID NOT need him to mansplain HER panic attack – I also didn’t need to escalate or assume anything so I just shushed him and focused on her.

I don’t really do touchy-feely stuff unless I’m in a relationship with someone. Even my BFF gets hugs but like, not all the time. This poor girl though, I just instinctively started rubbing the back shoulder blade area and I might have called her sweetie? I never use names like that. She was hyperventilating and asking to call her mom – she was on the phone with her best friend but hung up. I called her best friend back and explained who I was, and decided to call her mom. I assured her best friend that I wasn’t leaving until her mom arrived. Meanwhile the boyfriend was still talking at us – I don’t know their situation and I’m sure he meant to be helpful but no! I did ask her if she wanted water and when she said yes he went and got her ice water, so that was very nice.

I called her mom and explained who I was (this was so incredibly surreal – “Hi, I’m Jessie, your daughter’s neighbor. She’s having a panic attack. Can you come over? She’s asking for you. How far away do you live? Ok, I’ll wait here with her until you get here.”

It took her mom about 15 minutes to get there. In that time I called my neighbor’s best friend back and told her what was happening, I met the neighbors’ cats and learned that they all (the neighbors and the girl’s best friend) think my cat is very pretty (I’m assuming they see her in the window all the time), the boyfriend is bipolar (it was his excuse for not handling the attack well, I said NOPE! I’m bipolar too and that’s no excuse not to put your own shit on hold to help your partner), and I was remarkably composed for such a weird situation.

When I was rubbing her back I was gently saying that panic attacks, and mental health, are not things we can control and are not our fault. I might have given the boyfriend the stink eye some. But he chimed in with his excuses for not handling it well and how he’s had a panic attack once but then he researched it so he would never have one again. I calmly explained that – there is no logic in a panic attack, you as the partner are there to support the person and get them through it. Talk about solutions for the NEXT TIME when this one has passed.

A very very sweet moment where I felt oddly, proudly helpful – I asked her if she had a blanket or a pillow or some stuffed animal that really comforted her that she’d like to have. She didn’t really respond but her boyfriend hopped to and asked if she wanted her squishy pillow to which she perked up and he quickly went to their bedroom and got it for her. He poofed it up and helped put it under her head. It felt like he was finally calming down, listening, and maybe picking up on how this whole deescalation thing works.

As I recounted this story to my mom I blurted out that I felt like a “mental health midwife” and that’s exactly what it was. I filled a temporary need, pulling resources together, sharing information that will hopefully stick, and then left when the real players came in to really do the healing work.

I have not yet been back to my apartment today. I’m hopeful that they won’t be embarrassed or weirded out or anything when we run into each other next. This morning was not the time to tell them that it’s my own personal mission to end the stigma of mental health, but I did try to make them feel like I was a judgement-free zone.

And there you have it. A very bizarre Saturday indeed.

 

w-w-w-j-e-s-s-i-e-d-o-e-s-l-i-f-e-c-o-m

Also, just now researching it I feel like “psych doula” should be a thing – so I totally just registered that as a web domain and shall determine the feasibility of inventing it. I imagine it may be much like a life coach. A supplement to legitimate LMHC or psychiatric counseling. #bam