New year, who dis

I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of New Year’s Eve. Sure, my friends and I have had some awesome parties for it and there was that one time on Bardstown Road, but really, it’s just another day/night for me.

I do try to think of a resolution of some sort – usually involving some sort of cleanse after the massive amounts of eating done during the holidays. And by resolution I mean like 25 things I’m going to start doing, stop doing, or do more of in the year ahead. Because #overachiever.

Then we get to like, day 4 of the new year and I haven’t done any of the things I said I would (or I have even though I swore I’d stop) and the anxiety kicks in. Welp, the year’s a waste. You fucked up. Set the bar too high, try again next year. Because I am nothing if not really easy on myself…

It is fun to go around the room before the countdown begins on Dec. 31 and hear what everyone’s best moment of the year was or what they want to do looking ahead. But for someone like me, who is a ball of anxiety at all times, it can also be a little bit stressful.

Now before you remind me that NOBODY is making it stressful for me but me let ME remind YOU that DUH. That’s what anxiety is. Hi. Welcome.

And it’s not like, the soul-crushing anxiety I get from other things like choosing a good Halloween costume or baking something (more on that here on the blog soon). But it’s me wanting myself to do better. To be better.

Don’t get me wrong, life is steadily improving for me year after year.

Aside: As more and more people I know are joining me in the over-30 club, I am telling them (and meaning it) that my 30s have been so much better and more fun and awesome than my 20s ever were. So, you’ve got that to look forward to, youngins.

But even though life is getting better – I’m getting better – there are still things that gnaw at me. Things I want to start doing: learning how to cook better, taking compliments without deflecting them somehow, giving money to the offering at church. And things I want to stop: being so hard on myself for basically everything, taking other peoples’ bullshit personally, wasting nice days indoors doing nothing.

And I don’t know if it’s the anxiety or the mild OCD or what, but for some reason I seem to get in my head that these things can ONLY be started/stopped at the beginning of a year or else they don’t matter as much. Because I AM THE WEIRDEST.

Here’s the thing though. Couldn’t tell you what my 2017 resolution was if I tried. Maybe I wrote it down somewhere? But I have no idea what my plan was for last year and if I accomplished it. Let’s say I did, just for fun.

I tweeted Dec. 31 that one of my goals for the year was to write every day. I wrote Jan. 1 and 2 but on the 3rd I didn’t make time for it. FAILURE. REDO. START THE YEAR OVER, RESOLUTION IS BROKEN. And that’s when I realized I was going about all of it the wrong way.

All kidding aside – my goal/resolution/what have you, for the past few years has been to take care of me. To get me better – mentally, physically, everything. And that’s been an uphill battle sometimes but I 100 percent believe that the person you see before you today is far and away more healthy than she was a few years ago. I’ll have a story for you soon re: dating that will show you just how much, actually.

I talked resolutions with my cousins and sisters at our family Christmas and everyone mentioned what they were going to try and do or not do this year. One of my cousins said her plan for the year was the same as it was every year – to kick ass.

That’s all. To KICK ASS. Not: “Make sure to eat vegetables with every meal.” or “Go to the gym 4 times a week.” or “Volunteer 40 hours a month.” It was simple. Kick. Ass.

That’s all any of us should strive for, right?

At church recently, the message was about purpose. And getting up every day and saying “Alright, what are we going to do today to live out our purpose?” And he wasn’t talking about your job, or your volunteering or anything like that. He was talking about “What are you going to do today to live out being YOU.” Because that’s our purpose.

And to do that, you have to first be OK with yourself. Be nice to yourself, accept that maybe you can’t do it all. But you can do some. And you can continuously try and get better every day. And that’s a resolution that doesn’t have to start or stop when the date changes.

So, I’m stealing my cousin’s resolution. And continuing down the path I started a couple years back. I’m going to kick ass this year. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

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One Hundred and Eighty

A week from today marks three months since I quit my job and everything changed.

Before June 1, 2015..I couldn’t tell you the last time I was legitimately, not-faking-it, seriously happy. I mean, y’all know. You’ve read this blog. How many times have I talked about my depression and anxiety and the toll it was taking on me?

(Answer: Three or four, I think).

Friends, I write to you from the other side…. and it is amazing.

Disclaimer: I’m not “cured” of depression and anxiety. That doesn’t happen. Nor do I want it to. It’s part of who I am and I’ve learned how to live with it.

The thing is.. now? It’s the most under control I’ve ever had it.

It’s ridiculous almost, how much one bad thing in one part of your life can take hold of the rest of it and completely bring you down. And I fully believe that one thing was that job.

So much has happened since the day I walked out of that office and breathed a huge sigh of relief because I never had to return to it. And now, I’m going to catch you up on (almost all of) it.

First of all, I only really had a week in there where I wasn’t sure what I would do. It was that first week after I quit, and it ended up serving as a little vacation, as much as you can call it that. I slept in a few days, but mostly I spent it trying to figure out my next move. Plus I went to that interview within two hours of quitting (that didn’t end up panning out but softened the blow of freaking out about income until I heard back haha).

Luckily, within the second week, I had not one but two amazing friends who stepped up and offered me things to do part-time. I’ve thanked them both about 100 times but probably will continue to, because they saved me a ton of stress in this interim. One of those jobs potentially could end up becoming full-time and I would take it in a heartbeat, because I’ve loved what I’ve been doing for them.

Not long after that, I got a three-day-a-week baby-sitting job through a friend of a friend. And then recently, I got a couple more regular baby-sitting gigs.

I got a part-time job running social media for probably my favorite restaurant in the city.

And soon, I will start work with one of my athletes from Special Olympics as a CLS worker, helping get him out of the house and involved in the community, working with him on budgeting and getting to appointments, finding employment and going back to school and just spending time with him.

I have said at least five times that I am basically Kirk from Gilmore Girls – which if you don’t get, I’m sorry, but this video should help some.

There’s been a little stress about the job and about money off and on, but I’ve managed to get every bill paid, even if they were a little late once.

I’ve gotten by, cutting back on things I don’t need while not becoming a hermit. I have paid much more attention to any signs I see about earning money — during a particularly stressful week, I saw a couple lost dog signs in my neighborhood offering rewards and thought about dedicating a few days to nothing but finding those dogs because that made all the sense. And money.

Here’s the thing though. That stress? Nothing compared to the stress I felt when I was at a job that made more than enough to pay my bills. Weird how that works.

What else… I have gotten a ton of stuff done for youth group-related events because I finally have time to work ahead. I got to go on a week-long trip with them to Montreat, which I am so grateful for because of the impact it had on every single one of us who attended.

I have become about 5 times more involved in Special Olympics, which I’ll discuss in another post soon.

A friend from elementary/high school got in touch with me early on this summer to join a group that focuses on accountability with getting healthier. It’s proved an awesome motivation for me and I can’t thank her enough. I have regularly hit up the gym, so much so that I need new workout clothes because mine fall off me. I’m not really a fan of my current situation, holding up my workout pants while I run, but it’s a damn good problem to have.

Everyone notices a difference in me overall. I was miserable before and it wasn’t hidden. At least 3 friends have said how much better I am to be around these days and I agree. I am happier to be around myself too.

The other night someone asked “So how are you? Are you ok?” And I said, with no sarcasm or irony or anything – “I am the happiest I have been in a very long time.” And I meant it.

As of June 2, 2015, I was venturing into the unknown, more excited than scared. I had no clue where any of it would lead. But going into it with the attitude that I would be OK and I would get better has made all the difference, because that’s what has happened.

I can’t say it enough, or really even in the right way I don’t think, but the support and love I’ve gotten since I made that decision almost 3 months ago have helped me maintain this new (old) way of living and looking at things. I am very blessed to have the friends and family I do.

Besides those that love me helping me in basically every way they could, keeping busy has been most helpful in preventing me from sliding into the sadness that could have come out of that decision June 1. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t have something to do that is either helping pay my bills or making me happy or both. And it’s usually both. Crazy, right?

When I wrote about my decision on Facebook, it got almost 200 likes and a ridiculous amount of comments. ALL of them supportive. One that stuck out especially to me was from a good friend’s mother: “You will be surprised where you are lead. It will be awesome.”

I was and it is. And I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Lies my brain has told me

Disclaimer.

This is not a happy post. Or a funny one. If you’re looking for either one of those, I recommend that time I posted a bunch of awesome fireworks pictures or when my cousins and sisters and I watched Magic Mike.

I wrote this a couple weeks ago, actually, and debated on when to post it. But with Robin Williams’ passing today, and the suspected reasons behind it, I feel like some more attention will be brought to mental illness and depression than has been in a long time. And that’s as good a reason as any to hit publish.

This post is also not meant to bring anyone down or make anyone sad. It is not meant to make anyone worry about me, or pay attention to me, or feel bad for me.
This is my personal experience(s) with depression and medication and nobody else’s. It helps me to write. It helps me to get everything out where I can see it. When I do that it makes it real, but it also makes me really examine how I’m feeling and realize that it’s often not the best use of my time to be feeling that way.

I’m not apologizing for feeling this way, nor do I plan to. I learned long ago that I could not help who I was or how I was, I could only hope to control it. (That last part, I learned more recently…as I’ve said before, starting therapy will forever be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself). I write this, like I said, for me, but also, maybe, in the hopes that it will help somebody else who deals with this damn disease, because that’s what depression is, a disease. It’s managed with medicine and treatments and won’t ever go away completely, and I’ve accepted that. But it doesn’t mean I have to let it win.

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For the past few months I have not been in the best place. Mentally/emotionally. Physically, I have been in my new condo, which IS the best place. But my mind’s not been as cooperative.

Remember how the doctor and my therapist thought I was doing so well we ought to try lowering my medication dosage? This is the medication that is responsible for keeping everything firing like it should be and keeping me from curling up under the covers and shutting out the world (actually, here’s some levity, when I just tried typing “shutting” I first typed “shitting” by accident).

Lowering it, turns out, was a bad idea. Maybe the worst idea.

I don’t remember when things started getting bad. An approximate day or week or anything.. for a while it was fine. There were some really bad, hard things that happened in March. And then there were a couple of situational things that piled on to that. And then the old stuff, the sad stuff, started creeping back in, slowly, like waves on a beach. That, I could handle.

So, I guess it was a little over a month or so ago that that changed. It got worse.

When you have depression, it’s a constant fight with yourself. There’s the part of you that knows better, and then there’s that dark part that wants you to fail, wants you to be miserable. And it starts to become easier to give in than to fight.

Here are some things that my brain has told me recently:
– You suck.
– It’s not gonna change. It’s NEVER going to change.
– Good try, but did you seriously think you could keep it up? (This one was about running when it got hard and then I got busy and then I abandoned it altogether) 
– Won’t happen for you, so quit thinking it will.
– There’s nothing you can do to fix this, any of this.
– You shouldn’t have quit running. That was stupid.
– Don’t bother other people with your drama. 
– Stay home.
– Stay in bed.
– Who cares?
– It’ll never get better. Any of it.
– Did I mention that you suck?

And then more of the old stuff came back. I wasn’t eating. Or I was eating too much. 

I stood in a place that I really should have been so incredibly happy to be in, surrounded by other people and their happiness and selfishly thought about just leaving, walking out the door, disappearing. Because what would it matter. And that approximately 30 seconds of selfishness I forced out of my head almost as quick as it came. Because I knew it was complete bullshit. And yet, it popped into my head anyway.

(Sidenote. I have never, ever wanted to harm myself in any way. But the feeling of wanting to run away, disappear, scared me and I never want to feel that way again, or anywhere close to it)

See, it’s that kind of stuff that’s a constant with this depression thing. And truthfully, when the medicine was stronger, I was stronger. I could handle it better. I could swat it away and call it what it is – RIDICULOUS. 

That list up there is all ridiculous. Now. When I was feeling it? Not so much. I cancelled plans (which was stupid and unnecessary and unfair to do to other people), I slept and then I didn’t sleep. I was letting it win.

This is the part where I get lucky though. (Not in that way, pervs.)

People saw that I was letting it win. People who love me and care about me and were going to help me fight it until I could do it on my own again. I made an emergency-ish appointment with my therapist who I might name a child after, I love her so much, and she made me feel less psycho by saying “Yeah, I see that there’s been a few situations that have made it worse, but I really think it started and is mainly because we tried to get you off the meds. I think a big part of it is chemical.”

I called my mom, I texted my sisters and my best friend. They reinforced the opposite of what I listed up there. I don’t suck. I can fix this. Other people will listen to my drama because it’s my feelings, and you should never feel bad for having feelings or expressing them. The people who love you will listen. And they will help. They reminded me about the good things… and there’s so many good things, you guys. 

You know what blocks you from seeing the good things? The fog of the depression. Those commercials are no joke. It really is like a black cloud. Only it doesn’t have eyes ’cause that’s just too much. And creepy.

Things will get better. But I’m largely responsible for that – making that happen. The medicine won’t do all the work on its own.

And I’m working on it. I’m always going to have this, so I’m always going to be a work in progress..I think I’ve said that before, but it’s true.

I’m very lucky I – and others in my life – caught it before I got lost in that deep, dark hole. I’m blessed that I have people that care about me like they do and resources that I need to get better. Not everyone has that…not everyone thinks they have that, anyway. But they should.

Depression should never win. I can, and will, be stronger than that dark cloud in my head telling me I’m worthless. 

Because it’s a liar. 

And an asshole, really… 

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We need to talk about mental health. And mental illness. And all those brain and chemical and situational and emotional and whatever things that people have going on…

I wrote this because I want to talk about it. I want the people that have told me they feel better or not alone when they see me or someone talk about it remember that they they aren’t alone. I want to keep reminding MYSELF of that. I want anyone and everyone who is hurting to get better, and I really think that can happen. It has to. We can’t keep letting the disease win.

New year, new plans, new all kinds of stuff

So for my first post of the New Year, I wanted to motivate myself. Thus, the reason it was my past year in review (when it comes to blogging).

It was pretty sad. I posted a lot that I’m really happy with, but looking back, it averages out to less than once a week! Unacceptable.

Therefore, one of the resolutions on my list of them for 2014, is to write more. I feel like I say that a lot, but really, I mean it this time. I find myself missing it, more and more, wishing I had the time to sit down and let the creativity out but then finding whatever (usually silly) reason not to.

So here’s a promise in writing to give you lots more to read this year (or look at, ’cause that photography thing’s getting to be a lot of fun).

I’m also hoping to start a “Photo of the Week” posted every week to help on two fronts: It will keep me posting regularly and taking pictures more often, instead of just when I’ve been hired to.

I said I had a list of resolutions and I wasn’t kidding. I’m sure you’ll gradually hear about them as I work to accomplish them, but in general, this year they are about putting myself first, in all aspects. I will do what makes me happy, I will do what’s best for me, I will take better care of myself: mentally, physically, emotionally, all of the -lys.

And it starts today. Clean slate. 2014.

Let’s do this.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Little ones.

Quick, take a look around this page. Notice anything different? I’ll give you a second to look.

Yup! Up there ^. Or way up there (or waaaaaaaay up there or on the home page) depending on how many posts I’ve written since this one..

It’s a new page!

I decided to go ahead and separate out my Life List, because it’s a lot easier that way and it reminds me that I need to be checking stuff off.

Now you can keep up with me as I try to accomplish the things on that list – and everything in between, of course. And I also will take any volunteers to help me accomplish any of them.

A couple of them I plan to get done soon – as in the next six months, hopefully. And for the rest, well, ASAP!

What’s on your life list? Anything you think I should add?

A Whatchama-tarian

It’s around this time of year that people say goofy things like “(Upcoming Year) is totally gonna be my year.” I usually think that’s corny. And cliche. However, this is probably the one year I’m thinking something along those lines.

Case in point: several big events and trips in 2012, as well as the possibility of becoming a homeowner.

Yes, I could be jinxing it right now..and I could also end up with a New Year’s Eve kiss that somehow throws a kink in the system like previous ones have done. (2006 and 2011 were two such circumstances. What can I say? I have questionable taste in boys. I blame alcohol).

But yeah, 2012 is a big year for a lot of reasons and I plan to, among other things and pardon the French – make it my bitch.

Step 1 in doing so? Shape up or ship out. I’ve already hired a trainer that I’m pretty sure will allow me to pay her in hugs. She’s a beast of an athlete whose motivation and accomplishments I’m in awe of and I’m also pretty sure she’s going to make me run much more than I want to. She’s training for a mini-marathon and wants to do Ironman and I’m lucky if I can run for longer than the 3 minutes the Couch to 5K lady forced me to do back when I was trying to be athletic before.

Step 2? Eat better. Let me proclaim here and now that starting Jan. 1 (actually starting now, I guess, because I’ve done well the past couple of days) I am a pescetarian. I Wikipedia’d it for you for explanations’ sake, but the even shorter version is no meat for this girl. Just fish.

So yeah, that means no ribs, no chicken, no steak. And no hamburgers, which I’ve brought in some help on. My cubicle buddy at work is not a hamburger fan. Naturally, she was the one I went to first to recruit as my at-work conscience. Whenever she sees me leave to get lunch somewhere, she’s to remind me not to get a hamburger. And after a discussion the other day on things that grossed us out to the point of gagging, she found out MY aversion to some things, namely silverfish and maggots.

Excuse me, I threw up.

Being the good friend that she is and the even better coach, coaxing me towards a hamburger-free lifestyle, she made me this:

Excuse me, I threw up again.

So, since making this proclamation to myself and one or two others, I’ve stuck to the fish thing, except for that not-really-very-good grilled chicken sandwich I got for lunch the other day. And it hasn’t been that hard.

Also, everyone I’ve told has been supportive. My family is supportive, however, Mom has yet to grasp the name of what it is I’m doing. For example, the other day she said “It’s a good time to become a Presbyterian or whatever that thing you’re doing is called.”

Well, I’m already a presbyterian and I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with not eating meat. In fact, I think I’ve had more fried chicken — all kinds of chicken, really — at that church and with people from it than anywhere else.

I guess you could call this a resolution, but I’m not going to. It’s a test of my willpower and motivation, and you can expect plenty of updates, I’m sure, on the progress throughout the next year for sure and however long I can keep it up. Maybe forever?

You’ll hear about the good and the bad, too, like when I realize what I can’t have now. Most recent realization? Buffalo Chicken Dip. Dammit.

Promises, promises.

I am making some changes in my life. Seriously. It’s time.
No one thing has really happened to make me change my mind, just decided some things needed to be done.

First – I’m eating better. I honestly feel like I’m addicted to food sometimes. It can be like a drug for me. For about a month now, however, I’ve been changing that. I’m eating healthier, paying more attention to what I am eating and just being careful.

Second – Exercise more. I was getting mad that I couldn’t get motivated to work out, but it was my own fault. I have plenty of time to do it, if I make it happen. I’ve walked in a 5K! Me – who would’ve thought..and I’m signed up for three more! I didn’t do too great in the first one, as far as times. I walked with Jackie, who tried to push me to run. I couldn’t run too far, and realized I needed to get some practice in before the next one.
So now, I’m trying to work out every other day (or at least 2 to 3 days a week, as much as I can). I’m slowly building up my running – jogging, really. I’m walking for about 10 minutes, and running for 1 to 2 minutes. Then repeating that. I’ve gotten up to about 7 minutes so far – not in a row, but baby steps, kids. I’ll never be a runner – I am a slow runner. I really can’t run that fast. So I will work up to jogging as much as I can. I’ll keep you updated after my next 5K – on July 17!

Third – Stop worrying so much. I am so tired of being stressed out about stuff that’s either a) out of my control; b) not that big of a deal; or c) not even my problem. I am also taking it slow with that. It’s hard not to worry about some things. But when it’s as stupid as traffic, it’s really not worth it. Not that I still don’t get pissed at stupid drivers (and there are about a million of them out there) but I am finding myself just shaking my head and laughing now when I see someone driving like they’ve never been in a car before, rather than cussing at them from the safety of my car. 🙂

I’m working on my OCD, too. I heard a good tip from a lady at my church that’s gonna sound funny, but bear with me. What I have OCD about is locking my doors and setting my alarm at night. It comes from living alone, because when I’ve had roommates, I am not as bad about it. And it has gotten better, before I would go to bed and get back up just to make sure I’d locked the door, even though I know I did. I’ve gotten down my apartment steps to my car and came back to make sure the door was locked. It’s pathetic, I know, but I really can’t help it.
Lately, though, I’ve tried to keep myself from going back to check. I tell myself I wouldn’t go to bed without locking the door or leave the house without locking the door. The lady at church said if I feel like I might go back and check, I should make a little mark on my hand when I lock it so that if I feel like I need to turn around and go look, I have a visual reminder. She said I question it because I have a million other things on my mind (true) when I’m getting ready for bed or leaving the apartment and even though I know I’ve locked the door, since I don’t think about it as I do it, it makes me second-guess it.

And my last change is to try and keep up with this blog more. I know it may not seem that important, but it really is. I am the kind of person who really expresses myself best in writing. It helps me deal with things and get out my feelings. Plus, it’s pretty fun. So. Starting today, I’m going to keep up with this thing a lot better.

In other news: Obsessed is the craziest show I’ve ever seen. And I watch COPS and Cheaters and that kind of crap. Obsessed makes me glad that my OCD is as mild as it is. I couldn’t stand to be as sick as some of these people. The episodes get crazier and crazier though. Watch it sometime, it’s on A&E, after Intervention on Mondays. NUTS.

OK, that’s all for tonight. Keep reading, all three of you. 🙂