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jessie does life

jessie's blog about life, leadership, mental health, relationship wisdom, empowerment, and a lot of misadventures

You Have Value

A friend from college posted on the Facebooks today asking for friends to share a memory they have with her – something positive, because she’s having a tough time. This woman was a bad ass in college; she was a sorority sister of mine who was a known local DJ and even though she was popular she never let it go to her head and she was always very genuine. Shortly after college her and her boyfriend were in an accident where they were hit by a drunk driver. Her boyfriend did not survive the accident and she was left with severe brain damage. She had to relearn how to speak while she grieved the loss of her boyfriend – while she was in her early 20’s. In her late 20’s she fought hard and ended up going to Purdue and getting a masters degree. So yeah, she’s still a complete bad ass. But, even bad assess forget who they are and need a boost from friends from time to time.

I commented on her wall that I thought then and still think now that she’s a bad ass, for being strong enough to get through that obstacle and strong enough to ask for help now – which is just as important if not more. She’s someone I’ve loosely kept up with through Facebook and have messaged her with my support – letting her know that I can understand mental health struggles.

Recently I’ve forgotten my own value. I don’t feel valued at work, a recent “rejection” of sorts with my ma has me feeling dejected, I’ve been eating like crap (valuing myself very little), and this house limbo bullshit has me on edge. I haven’t been in a relationship since March of last year – June if you count that super painfully awkward debacle with Nice Guy. I’ve been talking to my therapist about waiting to move into the house, get healthy habits established for a while, then signing up on some dating site and see what’s out there for me. I think I should really wait for the time to be right, for ME to be right, before I try to find a partner.

Well, with the news that the house closing was being pushed ANOTHER week, I said “Nope! Screw that, I ain’t waiting!” and reactivated my account on a dating app just for funsies – to see what’s out there.

Again, just like the previous foray into dating apps, I was overwhelmed pretty quickly with the amount of “no, thank you though” guys that were messaging me. I just don’t respond well to “Hey beautiful.” But there were a few that messaged me that I thought were cute, they were “my type”, and they didn’t say anything offensive (yay!). I was heading to the annual business women’s conference with my ma this week so I gave the few eligible bachelors my Sideline number (fantastic app where you can have another phone number that routes to your actual one) and disabled my dating app account for the weekend.

I know my self-value should come from within. Most of the time it does. But sometimes, my self-value crumbles from the weight of all the bullshit of the exterior world and usually, as a serial monogamist, I’ve got my partner in crime to help pick me up when I’m down. Being single though, I have my cat – who’s super cute and all, but she mostly likes me when I’m feeding her or giving her exactly 3 pets and 5 scratches behind the ears – NO MORE, NO LESS! Well, messaging these 3 strangers for the past 3 days has made me feel valuable again. No, they didn’t say anything about how amazing I am or try to flatter me to death – nothing over the top like that. But they’ve SEEN me. Texting with them I’ve been myself and they’ve responded enthusiastically. I feel attractive again. (no, no nudes were involved) I feel like I CAN attract my partner in crime.

It’s painful to admit that I haven’t felt that way in a long time. It’s also embarrassing to admit that I haven’t been able to find that from within myself – I’ve found it through three strangers on a dating app.

I’m trying not to analyze this too much or judge myself too harshly, just embrace it and help it grow. Ok, so I briefly forgot my bad ass-ness but I think this glimmer of it is enough to hold onto and build it up like an epic snowball that I can just keep rolling around until it’s big enough to knock down a skyscraper.

Yeah. . . I’m not really sure where I was going with that.

Anyway. I feel a little better today and I’m going to embrace that. Embrace it and NURTURE it.

 

Judgement-free zone!

It’s a Process – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 05

good-luck

Oh Geez, you guys, it’s been a doozy lately. Work has been a mess, packing up to move (maybe?) in two weeks has been a mess, closing on a house when my realtor is a mess and the seller is a mess has been. . . a MESS, working on a business plan for a dream I’ve been doubting for over a decade has been a mess, and my eating habits have been a mess. All of this leads to my life feeling like I’m constantly worrying about a tornado that could come at any time, then in the worrying I cause a tornado myself somehow.

I’ve been talking to Ms. Therapist about a combination of this MESS and my childhood a lot lately. It’s brought up a LOT of shit and while we’ve worked through some of it together, there’s a lot of it left that I’ll be working on for a good, long while.

Mental health isn’t something you can just slap a band-aid on and call yourself cured – despite how much I’m sure we all wish it was. Though I’m happy to have started on this journey I’m sometimes overwhelmed with the viewpoint I’ve got from here. It’s like being stuck on the top of a hill in a traffic jam and you can see below you that there’s at least another 20 miles of bumper to bumper traffic between you and your destination. If you’re doing well your gas gauge is reading at least half-full, your AC is in good working order, and you’ve got some good jams or podcasts to keep you company (or an actual person/furry friend in the copilot seat). If things are a mess, everyone’s horns are blaring, your windows are down for any relief from the heat, and the only thing that works on your stereo is the tape player which has had Hanson’s MMM Bop single stuck in there since the 90’s – it’s ALL you can listen to. I’m somewhere in between those two traffic jam rides right now. I’m hopeful that this house will go through and within 3 weeks I’ll be cruising at a moderate speed with some uplifting episode of “Modern Love” playing and I dunno, if I’m dreaming big, getting a text from a cute new boo.

Anyway, times are stressful right now and I’m incredibly thankful to have a therapist there to remind me that I’m ok. I’m working on myself and my life – this is a PROCESS and I need to give myself credit and patience to work through it all.

Sometimes I just gotta tell myself to hug it out. With my cat. Ellie. (for now!)

Your Mom – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 4

I didn’t really know how to title this post and I figured “your mom” jokes were still in from the 90’s, yeah? 

No? 

Oh, alright. 

This week’s therapy session inadvertently centered on my mom. She and I (her and I? I’m not sure) had a very strained relationship for a very long time – up until my early 20’s. In my freshman year of high school I attempted suicide and ended up in a psych facility because I had thoughts that I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about, especially my mom. She’s always been a “suck it up, buttercup” parental figure and I resented that. 

Today during therapy I said something aloud that I’ve never really allowed myself to before. I know my mom means well and I believe that she believes she’s doing the best she can so I’ve never told this to any exes because I didn’t want them to judge my mom based on a history that’s nearly two decades old. But today I was talking to Ms. Therapist who will never meet my mom and is paid to listen to this kind of thing and help me work through it so out it came. 

When I attempted suicide at the age of 14 I felt that ceasing to exist was the only way to get the painful/confusing/sad thoughts I was having to stop. Looking back I realize that really, I wanted to do something that made my mom listen, that would hopefully make her realize I was in so much pain that she couldn’t ignore me. I ended up being Baker Acted (a mandatory 72 hour hold on someone who presents a threat to themselves or others in the state of Florida) and stayed in an adolescent psych facility. 

I don’t remember a lot about my time at that place – random snippets here and there but one thing that’s seared into my memory is a visit from my parents. My mom brought me a nice bath robe (they removed the belt) and some books to read which was a very nice gesture. But (there’s always a “but”!) on her way out she said something about how my stay there was “costing her a fortune”. Ya know, paying for my own health insurance now, I understand that sentiment but I will NEVER understand how those words came out of her mouth at me in that situation. I wanted to SCREAM at her at that moment. I wanted to rage at her with a rant about how I felt like nothing but a burden to her, how she probably wanted to have babies and NOT actual children who would grow up, how I was so hurt that she never cared about how my day was at the dinner table every night, how hard it was to be a teenager, and how much I just wanted a parent to TALK to, how much it was killing me inside to have to quiet my feelings because our family didn’t do emotions.  

As I got older I started forgetting a lot of the bad bits of my childhood. As I dated and made friends with people who had abusive or entirely absent parents I began to replace my resentment with gratitude for my emotionally stunted but overall supportive parents. Sure my mom didn’t dote on me but she didn’t beat me either. 

Saying that story aloud in therapy today felt freeing. Ms. Therapist helped me work through it a bit but mostly I explained that I’ve moved on and accepted my mom for who she is. I can’t change her; she’s in her 60’s and I’ve only got a handful of family left so it’s much easier to move on than dig up the past and try to explain something I don’t think she’ll ever fully understand. In her mind she did an excellent job because in comparison to how her parents raised her, I had a cakewalk. 

So there ya have it. The classic “mother issues” therapy session. No, I don’t blame all of my woes on my mom. I do believe my unease with letting people past my defenses can be traced back to how I was raised. I’m sure you can see how being the “baby” of the stoic family that doesn’t talk about emotions or ever cry could potentially cause one to shut people out. . . But I’m working on that! For reals.

Mental Health and Uncertainty

Today is the Pride Parade in the city I’m moving to (the city I work in, across the bridge from the city I live in) and I’ve been all kinds of excited to go with my friends this year. 

I was supposed to close on a house I’m buying this upcoming Tuesday but for whatever reason the seller didn’t get a structural engineer out soon enough and now I’ve got to wait another month before the repairs can be done. Originally I was supposed to be closing on March 14th but that came and went because supposedly the first engineer he hired never gave him his report. 

Buying a house is stressful. Buying a house solo is even more stressful. Buying a house and relying on a bond program from the state when your current president is cutting assistance programs left and right and your seller is delaying the purchase is 10 times more stressful. Adding bipolar disorder to this mix is making it a fucking obstacle course like American Ninja Warrior or whatever that show is. My tiny apartment is full of half-packed boxes because I don’t even have a signed addendum from the seller saying he’s going to pay for the repairs yet (they’re up to 7K now just for the structural and we originally agreed to 5K total, he’s already spent about 3K) so why finish packing?

I’m in a weird state with my mental health. I’ve gone into protection mode, like a turtle withdrawing into my shell.  The uncertainty is not easy to handle. The thing with buying a house is that even if you get to the closing something can go wrong with your finances and as someone who has lived paycheck to paycheck up to this most recent job promotion 2 years ago that terrifies me. I’ve done the math and budget 20 times over and know the mortgage is manageable but all of this uncertainty in the closing has me questioning everything. 

I backed out of going to the Pride Parade today because I don’t think I can handle the crowd or put up a front that everything’s ok for an entire day. I’ve become a blob of negativity and I hate that. 

I just want to move into MY house and pay MY mortgage and have friends over to a place that I’ve made my own. 

I’m hopeful I’ll get a new contract on Monday so I can let my mortgage company know. 

I’m so incredibly grateful for a good therapist, psychiatrist, and my own commitment to my mental health because without those things I’d be more lost than just a mess. 

Until I’m in that house though, my social life may just have to suffer. 

 Someone to Listen – Weekly Therapy Takeaways No. 03

Who knew paying someone to listen to you for an hour every week could be so freeing??

I watch a lot of TED Talks and listen to a few podcasts so it was only natural that I find the TED Radio Hour podcast hosted by Guy Raz eventually. The episodes are about 45 minutes long and focus on a central theme then weave together interviews with several TED speakers on the topic and bits of their talks. Well this week I stumbled upon the “Act of Listening” episode – how fitting!

I can’t put in words how clarifying it feels to talk to a professional about my life – she can call me out on my BS, applaud me when I don’t give myself credit (or rather encourage me to see it for myself and give myself applause), and suggest actions or thought patterns I would never think of when I’m stuck in my own head. It’s like having a personal trainer – sure you can go to a gym and try to figure out the equipment for yourself, OR you could have someone who knows what they’re doing show you the ropes and cheer you on!

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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