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jessie does life

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

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

Lacunas Between

Life, how you distract me, let me count the ways:

  • buying a house
  • work stress
  • NLC Institute
  • whole 30
  • finally getting around to seeing a therapist
  • Women’s March on Washington

I last posted exactly a month ago (how do I keep doing this?) and of course with not keeping up the blog – a lot has happened.

Shall I go in order?

Buying a house: Now, this here is some real adult shit. I’m 32, single, I’ve had the same job going on 5 years now (technically I’ve been promoted so same company but higher up positions), I’m fairly comfortable where I’m at in my life, and after moving at least once a year, every year for the past DECADE I am ready to have a HOME. This started when my landlord announced she was selling the house that my above-garage apartment is affiliated with. I’ve got an adorable little 1bed/1bath apartment and a neighbor with the same – both above a big ol’ garage in an eccentric artsy neighborhood. Anyway, the landlady sold mine and my neighbor’s apartments along with the house where two nice girls lived but fortunately the people who bought the house wanted to keep my neighbor and I while they moved into the house (unfortunately for the nice girls). So while I’ve still got a place to live I am looking for a house to buy and live in for at least the next five years. There are two cities I’m looking at. I’ve fallen in love with a house twice now and had my heart broken twice. Buying a house was fun for all of a month. Now it’s made me into a bitter and sad pessimist who will honestly most likely change her tune once she falls in love with another house – then I’ll be head over heels all over again. I’ve likened it to dating – you get to know each other, sometimes you find out some shady ish about them, sometimes that shady ish is bad enough to merit walking away, and sometimes you let yourself fall enough for that shiny, pretty facade to be sad to let it go.

Work stress: At my job we get the week between Christmas and New Years off. I took this time to really think about my work situation and how I wanted to go forward. I decided to let everything from the past remain in the past and start anew. I’ll show up for 8 hours and do the work I’m paid to do. I will work hard this year to find what I truly do want to do, my life’s passion, and I will work toward that. I will be putting my energy there – to my OWN end. Of course, this is easier said than done! My 9-6 will get to me from time to time but I’ve made the decision to focus my positive energy on my own efforts and not let negative energy take over my days.

The NLC Institute: This is a post all on its own and will be – soon, hopefully. In short, I was chosen to be part of the New Leaders Council Institute in my area. Out of 100 who applied and 60 who were interviewed, I was one of the 25 chosen to participate in a 6 month leadership training program (1 weekend every month) aimed to gear young progressive leaders up to influence their local communities through government or entrepreneurship.

Whole 30: 2017 is my year of taking myself seriously and a part of this equation is physical health. The Whole 30 is meant to reset your system – it’s a diet that you can also use as an elimination diet in an attempt to weed out any foods that could potentially be triggering a reaction in your body. With a diagnosis of lupus (autoimmune disease) this intrigued me – if I remove gluten and other things then slowly reintroduce them to test if I react, could I possibly find that food is the immune trigger? MAYBE! Ok, let’s try it! I’ve also struggled since childhood with a SERIOUS addiction to sugar that I would like to finally be rid of. Unrelated to the diet, I’ve also declared this “sober 17” so it’ll be a completely alcohol-free year. That’s for MENTAL health!

I got a THERAPIST!: Ok, it’s a little early on in the relationship but I think she might be *the one*. Yeah, if you don’t know me that can probably sound super creepy. It’s not. I just mean I’ve got a new therapist that I’ve had three sessions with and they’ve been pretty productive. I think being single and having my BFF’s far away and my local friends in random groups or with kiddos it’s going to be super helpful to have a skilled therapist to work on my issues with. Because I definitely have some issues that need some working. We all do though. Anyway, I’m excited to have the opportunity to grow with the help of a licensed professional. After many many therapists that I did not jive with, it’s so nice to work with one I think will help me.

The Women’s March: This is an entire post of its own as well. As a last minute gift of serendipity I ended up on a 32 hour round trip bus ride from Florida to DC to march with 400,000-600,000 (depending on which crowd scientist you consult) other people who were there to stand up for the rights of those less privileged (women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and those with lower socioeconomic standing) and say that we’re not ok with being put down. It was momentous.

 

So there you have it. The guts of the update – before I forget! I’ll be explaining more soon – there’s so much more to these things. I just wanted to make sure I unpacked my brain before it exploded.

2016 In Review – the Tumultuous First Half

I wanted to recap my year, for my own failing memory purposes, and figured I may as well share with you how it’s all gone down, the lovely as roses bits, the gory murder-y bits, and the sad rom-com bits where they never quite end up together. It ain’t all sunshine and daisies! But in the end, it does all lead to growth and getting to know yourself better. Plus, now there are only a very few ways that 2017 could be worse than this last year – so that’s a bonus!

January – at the end of December I moved back in with He Who Shall Not Be Named across the bridge in a lovely artsy town where I now reside (I reside in the town, NOT with him – eww no, never again). We joined the gym, were supposed to go to Chattanooga to feed red pandas (the flight was canceled due to a huge snow storm, which HWSNBN did NOT take well at all), and I started making crystal pendants with copper tape and solder – finally being creative again.

February – I made up business cards with my fancy DISC certified behavioral consultant jazz on them! I saw a new Rheumatologist who wasn’t much more helpful than the previous one – she still vaguely diagnosed me with lupus and prescribed me the same medication as the previous guy. Because HWSNBN wasn’t asking me to pay rent, I asked my job if I could go down to 32 hours a week – which they agreed to! I used my days off to unpack and start getting a little more creative (but mostly unpack and run errands those first few weeks). HWSNBN and I went to a hockey game with amazing seats. Then I went to a different hockey game with my job people, including the C suite execs and my admin team – I got drunk enough to where it wasn’t wise to drive home, so HWSNBN had to pick me up – this did not end well although I did apologize. That hockey game was on the same day that I got side swiped by another car on my way to work, he just merged into me – like I wasn’t there. HWSNBN and I went to Chattanooga finally to feed the red pandas! That part of the trip, as well as some other little parts, were enjoyable. However . . . a huge blowout occurred when I suspected he was messaging someone and trying to hide it, he then proceeded to “gas light” me and it escalated into how I was being paranoid. Not fun. I started to plot how the hell I could move out when we got back to Florida.

March – I competed in my local Toastmasters Table Topics where I got second place, out of two people! But, I did try and I was proud of that. I got to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary, which was super exciting. I still love that man. I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist. On the 22nd, on the way home from work this time, I was rear-ended which then smooshed me into the car in front of me – my car was totaled and I could barely lift my head off of my pillow the next day. I’ve been getting various treatments for the neck and back injuries since, to no real resolution.

April – I was moved on to the second round of the Table Topics contest for my local Toastmasters where I got 3rd place . . . out of three people! I learned that I should make my topic universally accessible – as in don’t just talk about making the world a better place for little girls when the judges are mostly men. HWSNBN and I had a big fight, I don’t even remember what it was about, but he ended up sleeping on the couch, then the next day I discovered he wasn’t exactly faithful so it was time to move out. Rather than giving me time to find a place – I was told that I had a couple of days. Fortunately my brother just moved out of my mom’s house so in a matter of 2 days I moved all of my stuff out of HWSNBN’s place, into my storage unit and a suitcase of necessities into my ma’s, bought a new car (because mine was totaled the month before), and was again picking up pieces after a shit storm caused by trying to help the lost cause that is HWSNBN. Within a week I had found a new apartment in that artsy town! Within two weeks I moved into it (in May).

May – Moved into my new apartment. Had a “second chance” date with “Nice Guy” – someone I had had a crush on for like 3 years (I use crush for lack of a better word, it sounds creepy, but it wasn’t! I just always thought he was super cute and nice)  – that started “a thing”. So many quotation marks – all of which are code for “I dunno, man, it was a hot mess”. I started going out and doing things with people I didn’t actually know that well. Not in a scary stranger danger way, but in a “I don’t actually know anyone who’s going to this well enough to hang out with them, but I really want to go . . . so I’m just gonna go.” kind of way. That was the single best trend of 2016 that I plan to continue for years to come. It was the bravest activity I’ve forced myself into. Anyway – I went to a fun arcade place in another town with a crowd I don’t know that well and I had slightly awkward fun trying to make conversations with people my age. I hung out regularly with the Nice Guy and it was nice (I liked him). I launched an employee engagement effort at work where I talked to every employee one on one to get feedback – it was exhausting and fulfilling and I finally felt like I was contributing. I GOT A CAT!!!! Ellie, a Siberian kitty, needed to be rehomed and since it’s the only breed I’m not allergic to, I jumped at the chance. She’s three years old and the perfect combination of a total bitch and an adorable fuzzball of cuteness. I love her to pieces.

June – June was a whole lot of NOPE. A whole lot of it. I went to the beach with a new group of friends, one friend from roller derby and a bunch of her friends – which was fun. Then I got completely and unfairly overlooked for a raise at work. It was blatantly discriminatory and possibly even meant to get me to quit. Work took a serious turn for the worse – meaning, where I spent EIGHT HOURS A DAY, FIVE DAYS A WEEK became soul sucking more than I could have ever imagined. Nice Guy and I had spent May hanging out, then we learned that he wanted biological babies while I wanted to adopt – this turned out to be a deal breaker but for some reason we kept going. Well, June was the breaking point. He invited me to spend his birthday weekend at the beach with him and his friends, knowing that it would be “just for fun” – ok, sure, why not? Welp, during that stay the Pulse shooting happened. I found out in the morning from the news on the tele and I just started crying – I’m not good at processing things or letting things out/talking about them. Pulse was a place I called my own in college (I went to UCF). Going to that gorgeous club with its fun décor, bright lights, dancey music, complimentary patrons, and incredibly welcoming atmosphere was such a change of pace from the dude-bro clubs that lined Orange Ave. I never once worried about roofies or getting grabbed or hit on or even just annoyed. My friends and I would go to dance and be ourselves completely. And that morning, while staying at a hotel on the beach, I found out that more than 50 people were shot there, in a place that so many people called home. I shut down. I’m still shut down from it. The beach weekend continued – a lot more muted. Then the day after we were back, I went to his place to “break up” – that weekend showed me how much I could like him and if we were just going to break up eventually because I didn’t want to bring a bipolar baby into the world (and have to go through a bipolar pregnancy) I didn’t want to get more attached. Ugh, he said he called me his girlfriend for the first time to the maids (he’s an oddly adorable Nice Guy) and we agreed to postpone talking until I got back from my planned trip to visit my BFF in NC after I texted him. My trip to NC to visit my BFF was amazing – we just did leisure activities – hiking, tubing, dining, drinking, chilling in hammocks, and mostly talking. It was so so so needed after hearing about Pulse – it was one of our favorites. I discussed Nice Guy, she asked me what “my type” is and I realized I have no idea. It was a good trip. I came back and asked Nice Guy when he could meet up – he picked his birthday – that wasn’t my choice! I asked at the end, since we had planned to talk when I got back, and I thought that was the plan, if he still wanted a biological baby and I don’t think I ever got an answer other than it wasn’t really the right time to do that. Oh man – I’m really not the best with timing or patience or any of that. On MY actual BIRTHDAY (ok, the day before) it was the gay pride parade in my town and my friends (the roller derby girl and her crew) came over to my place to hang out before going to check it out. It was fun and loud and so colorful and full of love. They had a dedication to the Pulse victims at the beginning and you could tell that everyone had so much more appreciation for each other – or maybe that was just me. Then the next day on my REAL birthday, I went to Orlando with my ma to visit a couple of friends living there so I could see them for my birthday. I got to meet a friend’s brand new baby – he was adorable, and her toddler girl who is hilariously awesome. My other friend had her baby shower – zombie princess theme – and that was fun to bring my ma to. After that trip, I realized that I had done the same with having a baby that I had done with having a cat for my entire life. Ever since I learned I was allergic to cats as a kid I decided I hated them – you can’t miss out on having a cat when you hate them, right? Being bipolar, I assumed I shouldn’t actually produce a child – I should be on my medications and I shouldn’t be passing on my bipolar to a kid – so therefore, how can I regret wanting to adopt when I really shouldn’t be birthing a baby? Well I researched it and discovered that biological babies and bipolar are doable. And thus a whole new conundrum appeared.

And there you have it! The first tumultuous half of my 2016! It was a bit messy (a lotta messy) and I would probably skip some parts if I could, but the latter part of the year wasn’t as bad so I suppose it’s a wash in the end. I’ll be posting that wrap up later this week!

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)

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