When you think you’re OK

In the past 9 or 10 months, I have been happier than I can remember being anytime before that. Things are good for me. Good family, good job, good friends, good extracurriculars, I can afford all my bills including cable, etc., etc…

Since I quit my previous job last June, I have tried to keep busy non-stop. As my bff once put it, I was the busiest unemployed person she knew.

And then I became employed again and got even busier.

And I love it. Don’t get me wrong. The nights I sit home with nothing to do – no options of anything, nothing I’ve said no to – are few and far between. And I like it that way.

However, when you have anxiety/depression, that way of life still comes with a catch.

Last week I needed a break. I chose to work from home one day, rather than go into my AWESOME job (and it is so awesome, I’ll tell you all about it soon) with people I love being around, because of anxiety. I needed a day away from people.

You guys, I’m outgoing. I will talk to basically anyone. I am a good time at parties and other celebrations.

Case in point, St. Paddy’s. I have no idea who these people are and also I bought that Captain’s hat I’m wearing (backwards) for $10 because YOLO.

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But you know what I mean. I like being social, I like being outgoing, I am what you would call a people-person.

Until I’m not.

Did you know there’s a thing called an introverted extrovert? I didn’t until the idea was posed to me a couple years ago in therapy. (GOD I LOVE THERAPY).

It basically means you are outgoing AF, but to recharge your batteries, you actually need to be alone, rather than around all of those people you normally love to be around. Weird, right?

In my case, it apparently makes itself known that it’s time for a reboot when I just get grumpy for no reason until getting out of bed one day seems like a bad idea, no matter how great things may be. Oh and in addition to the random grumpiness (for no reason), there’s also the BLINDING fear that because everything’s so great right now, soon it won’t be. That other shoe will drop. That’s anxiety and depression for you… Welcome.

I am 100% grateful that I am able to recognize this need in myself to take a breather, because many don’t. I am 1,000% percent grateful that I was able to text my boss (who understood and supported me) and tell her exactly what was going on rather than fake an illness or maintenance appointment or some crap (which I would have had to do at my last job, because that job was the reason I stayed home. Eventually the PTSD from it will subside. I hope).

And by the next day, I felt better. I felt like me again. Ready to take on the world and all that.

(Aside..ish) I recently read the amazing Jenny Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy. I highly recommend it because I about peed my pants at least 5 times from laughing. And I also recommend it if you want to understand the person you love with anxiety and/or depression or to feel like you’re not alone because she articulates it so much better than I can.

Even on the days I want to be alone, I’m still not alone. And neither are you. And that knowledge is so helpful. You will get through it. I did.

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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.

On hold.

That’s what I feel like my life’s kind of been like for a while now.

Yeah, I’m moving forward-ish. Buying a condo was going in the right direction. But other than that? I felt like I was treading water. I was doing stuff, for sure, but wasn’t going anywhere.

And in keeping with this water motif… as time went on, I felt more and more like I was drowning.

This last year or so has been hard for me. In a time where I should have felt more freedom, having my own home, making it mine..I was sinking, deeper and deeper into that depression that I thought was under control.

SURPRISE. It wasn’t.

I have an idea of what kick-started it all. And there were things here and there that didn’t help at all.

And then, I know for a fact what made it all worse. My job.

It wasn’t always bad. It was quite pleasant, in fact, at the beginning. And for a long time, it was bearable. There were some frustrations about it, as there is in any job, but it wasn’t anything to get upset about.

However, about a year ago, it ceased being pleasant. It became something to “get through.” So that’s what I did. I got through it. I counted down until the weekends, I lost motivation to do just about everything because that required time not being stressed about the work and I didn’t have any of that.

When I did have time to not stress, I filled it with sleep. Or bad habits.

I started looking for new jobs. I started thinking the reason it was becoming more and more challenging to get up and go each day was because I was being punished, but for what, I didn’t know.

The stress dreams came back, constantly. The ones where I find out I didn’t finish a class in high school or college so my degrees and diplomas are invalid and I am not good enough or smart enough to be doing anything I’m currently doing. That does a lot for the self-esteem.

I started this “Me Project” and then laughed at myself because how could I focus on me when I didn’t care about me?

My stomach started hurting. Every day. And no, it wasn’t cheese or appendix-related.

Sometimes I slept. Sometimes I didn’t.

I prayed, every night. For a break. “PLEASE, God, just let SOMEthing good happen.”

I felt guilty because I had a job, which some do not. I had money to provide for myself. People were dealing with worse things, with better attitudes. I was ungrateful and an awful person because of it. Maybe that’s why I was being punished.

Then there came, a few months ago, the scariest time. The time when I was driving my car home from work, and had the idea to take my hands off the wheel.

“What if I do that, take my hands off the wheel right now?” I thought. “I’ll hit the guardrail. And it’ll hurt. I’ll probably have to be in the hospital for a while. But ya know, I’d rather be in the hospital tomorrow than go to work.”

I didn’t go through with it, obviously, because so much more could go wrong and others could get hurt or I could die, and I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to check out for a little while, to get away from the stress.

I told one person that night. And no one else until very recently. Because again, I felt guilty. What did I have to be so upset about?

This past week, I was given the option to resign from my job, with a severance. And because of all that I just told you and more, I took it. And didn’t look back.

I currently do not have a job. I have a few weeks’ worth of money for bills. I had an interview immediately after I quit at a place I would love to work. I have leads on opportunities to earn some money in the interim. I have the support of my family, friends, all of my loved ones.

It’s been two days. And I can’t remember the last time I was this happy.

When I saw my therapist today, she said the difference from when she saw me a month ago was night and day. She didn’t suggest increasing the dosage on my medication as she had before.

I’m MOTIVATED. The past two days I’ve gotten more done than in the past month, if we’re being honest. Because I actually WANT to.

I joined a gym. And can’t wait to go back to it tomorrow because I no longer feel the need to crawl back into bed and shut the world out the second I wake up.

I have absolutely no idea when I will have a full-time job again, or where that will be. But strangely, for once, something like that doesn’t have my anxiety at Threat Level Orange.

I feel peace. Beautiful, wonderful, all-encompassing peace. I will be OK. Things will work out. I am not alone, or doomed, or a complete idiot. I am someone who put herself first, for once. Someone who finally realized life is too short to be stuck somewhere you don’t have to be. Someone who realized, maybe, the reason she felt so negatively all the time is because she was in something so toxic, she couldn’t see otherwise.

I’m using this time to explore my options, fine-tune my resume, focus on myself and my health in all aspects. I’m applying to every job that catches my eye. I’m waking up every day with a plan that is more than “just make it to bedtime.” I haven’t a clue as to what is ahead of me. And I am finally at a place where that’s alright.

Change is sometimes scary. Sometimes necessary. Sometimes wonderful.

I am currently, firmly, in the encampment of the latter. In this case, it is wonderful. And I don’t plan to waste it.

31: The Year of Happiness (or something like that)

If you’ve read this blog…ever…you know that me and happiness go back and forth. I continuously try for it and have gotten so much closer in the past few years in so many ways. So, for a while, people kept telling me “You need to read this book, the Happiness Project.” Never one to shy away from a good book suggestion, I finally gave it a try about a month ago.

I knew the premise – a woman took a year and month by month, she tried to do different things (and in some cases cut out different things) to try and make herself happier.

As a writer, I didn’t really like the book, because of her writing style. She’s a former lawyer, and it read at times like a lawsuit. Small tangent: Yes, I know what those read like because I used to have to read them at times as a part of my job at a community newspaper. JARGON CITY.

And then there was the month where she mentioned in passing that she was trying to curb her habit of eating a spoonful of brown sugar out of the jar whenever she passed it in the kitchen. WTF.

Anyways. Criticisms of the writing aside, I loved the idea. Each month, she was taking a different aspect of her life and focusing on it and how she could be happier in it. One month it was family, so she focused on creating good memories with her kids and new traditions and taking time to slow down and enjoy her time with them. Another month was work, and she made the promise to herself of a certain amount of writing a day. She also planned to write a book in a month – so she did.

The basic principles were there. I wanted to do it. I didn’t wanna copy it completely, but there was so much I could learn and apply on my own. And by doing it on my blog, I would have the opportunity to hopefully communicate with others who may be doing the same or who could give ideas and feedback.

Plus there’s the fact that I need this right now. Maybe more than before. I recently made the heart-wrenching decision to find a new home for my sweet puppy, because it’s what is best for him, though it won’t make saying goodbye any easier. I also recently made the decision to talk to my doctor about my medicine and making a change. My therapist – who I will somehow name a child after one day – and I have had some discussions and think this may help things even more with my moods and anxieties and depression. (I’m not going down in dosage again, it’s not that. Just FYI.)

So I need a distraction. I need a project. I need something.

As for a start date? What better than a birthday? Today I turn 31. (ACK). So why not make 31 the year of my own Happiness Project?

I don’t have it all mapped out yet, but I have started a bit of a list. (Go ahead, act surprised even though I know you’re not.)

But here’s the premise. Each month I focus on something different. The whole month I work on that and that alone. It may be something I only have to do once. It may be something I continue to do throughout the year as I add in the different months and their goals. I currently have 9 ideas for the project and have known since I finished the book which one I would start with.

The way it will work? At the beginning I’ll announce the focus and why. That month, I’ll do different things in that vein. We will see if it makes me happier, but as I’m writing this entry I’m coming to the realization that it’s not even so much about happiness, it’s about focusing on me, something I really don’t do and when I do I don’t do it well. (Drink every time I say focus in this post and you’re too hammered to read this sentence.)

Throughout the month, though, I’ll keep you updated of the progress and of what I’m doing to accomplish that month’s goals. At the end of the month we’ll see what changes/differences if any, it’s made.

And the first month starts today.

I didn’t wanna jump in TOO crazy-like, because turning 31 is a lot to process on it’s own (I’m OLD), but the first month I knew needed to be about cleaning up.

ME PROJECT, MONTH #1: Cleaning up, decluttering and dehoarding

I’m not messy. And I’m definitely not a hoarder. But when I moved last year? Boxes would come in I hadn’t seen or touched since I moved into my last place. So did I need what was in them? Probably not. Yet several are sitting in my guest bedroom closet, just kind of taunting me. Not that I have, like, other stuff to put in there, really, but I know for a fact in there right now are most of my folders from classes from college. WHY? Don’t tell A&E about me, guys.

Small tangent again: Is that show on anymore? I guess not. They brought Intervention back, though, so maybe there’s hope. Also anytime I watch that show it just makes me wanna throw out EVERYTHING. Also vomit.

I also need to admit I got a slight head-start on this month in a way. I have a ridiculous amount of T-shirts from college (because sorority and also free shit). They’ve been sitting in my dresser/closet/giant Rubbermaid container for the 9 years since I graduated just collecting dust, basically. I wasn’t going to throw them out or donate them because the sorority shirts at least, did mean something. And I spent a lot of cash on ‘em.

Luckily, a good friend’s mom quilts and makes blankets and is a pro. She’d just made my friend a T-shirt quilt out of her old lacrosse shirts and I asked her to do the same for my shirts and she luckily, thankfully, agreed. The Rubbermaid container full of shirts is no longer taking up space in my front hall closet and I’ll have an awesome new blanket soon that means something special.

I have a couple of other things in mind to do, but I’ll save those for later posts and update you on my progress as I go.

Have some ideas for my project? Are you doing your own? What’d you think of the Happiness Project book? Do you eat a spoonful of brown sugar every time you pass it in your kitchen?

Oh. And Happy Birthday to Me, I suppose.

#TBT: A bit of a quiet year

In an ideal world, one where I had loads of free time and keeping this blog up and running was my full-time (or at least part-time) job, I’d have posted a lot more this year. It wasn’t for lack of trying, or lack of things happening to write about. In fact it was the opposite. There was too much of that. And no taking advantage of what downtime I did have to get some stuff written and scheduled to post, because that’s a ton easier (behind the scenes of blog world, guys).

This past week, my lil’ blog baby turned six. SIX! Cannot believe it was that many years ago I decided to start writing on this thing with some sort of regularity.

I’m going to keep it up of course, because the eventual hope (don’t tell anyone) is that I someday write a book. And this is a good start for it, plus all the best bloggers end up with a book or two. So it’s bound to happen.

Usually I pick a bunch of my favorite posts from the past year. This year, because six years, I’m picking six.

In no particular order, and in honor of Throwback Thursday, too, here are my six favorites of the stuff I posted this year.

1. That time I wrote down everything my friends said while they watched Magic Mike (and they didn’t know I was doing it).

2. When I got lil’ Charles

3. Turning 30, with a bang (and a sore ear)

4. Saying goodbye to Grandma

5. Lies my brain told me

6. #haganstakenewyork

On deck for lucky year 7? SO much, you guys, most of which is conveniently kicking off right around my birthday. I can’t wait to tell you about it, check back soon!

(Getting out of) my own way

There’s an underrated movie – the sequel to “Get Shorty.” It’s called “Be Cool” and if you haven’t watched it, you should. Even though he’s extra creepy now, John Travolta does alright in it – but the better parts in it are any featuring Vince Vaughn, The Rock or Andre 3000. Best parts (in my opinion) are in the video below (very best is right about the 6:15 mark).

Anyways. Be Cool. The phrase, not the movie, has been on my mind lately. Because, wouldn’t ya know it, one of the hardest things someone with anxiety can try to do or be told to do is “be cool.”

I wish I could tell you that after my last long post – you know, the one about Tinder and being single and finding love and all that – I’ve been MIA because that boy who asked me the trivia question and I fell in love and were living happily ever after.

Not quite.

We hung out, a couple of times. Until it became apparent (which it should have earlier) that he had different ideas about what we were than I did. Which is fine. If it weren’t for the games it took to get to that point. And some other things I won’t add here. And part of it, I will admit, was my own fault, because, silly me, I expected him to want to talk to me and get to know me more than he actually did.

So back to it, right?

Yes, but with stipulations. This next time, no games. And if they say some weird stuff up front, THAT IS A SIGN, LAURA. That meant weeding out guys like the dude who messaged me and asked me to do something I hope no one ever asks me to again because that’s the SECOND time in my life that’s happened and, REALLY?? No thank you.

There is this one though. We’ve texted for a while now. And have attempted to go out three times, two of which were on the days where we got the most snow we’ve gotten in years because OF COURSE WE DID. Thanks, Universe. First time I get a date in a while and you dump a foot of snow on us. Twice. Point taken.

Anyways. So far so good, which means that’s when it gets harder to be cool. And harder to stop worrying so damn much. And harder to stop getting in my own way – second guessing texts or words or as sometimes can happen, lack thereof. I have to remind myself, out loud sometimes, that I am good enough, that I am worth pursuing and being with and stuff like that because this thing that I have – my mind – is doubting me and second guessing me at every turn. By the way, if I don’t remind myself, I have others that are doing it for me, my unofficial life coaches, if you will.

I haven’t had the best luck in relationships. When I got to a point not too long ago where I thought I had, I was wrong, yet again. I guard myself quite fiercely anymore, so when someone gets in, they’re in. Which makes them deciding to leave that much harder.

I’m not punishing people going forward for what others did to me in the past. That’s a new rule. As is the one about being yourself and if they don’t like it they’re not gonna be worth your time anyway.

The fact that I’m writing an entire blog post about it may show I’m thinking about it too much which is breaking the cardinal rule of being cool. But it’s because I want to do things right. I’ve waited a long time for good things in the relationship department, and if I can stay out of my own way, maybe I’ll get them.

Can I blame the weather, partially, for this too? This winter has been miserable, and when you live with already heightened (or lowered, I guess) emotions, it can take even more of a toll. When you only want to stay in bed or on the couch (which is basically your default anyway) because it’s too cold or gross to go out, you have too much time to think. Thus the analyzing and “should I have said this and that” and “I wonder if that was stupid” or dumb things like that.

And then sometimes you drink a 45-ounce margarita and it gets worse.

Long story short – I am trying to be cool. Some days it works better than others. Some days the lies my subconscious tells me are quieter than others.

Dating is hard, kids. Dating in the social media age and when everyone communicates mainly by typed out words is harder. Dating when you have an anxiety issue is hardest.

I refuse to be a hot mess though. And I refuse to rush into anything or settle for the sake of being with someone/anyone.

So. Baby steps. And reminding myself to be cool.

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.

————————————————-

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… 

—————————

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.

Sorry not sorry

I have thought about getting a heart tattoo…

Maybe it will be on my sleeve.

Well, sleeve area.

If you know me personally, you know that when it comes to emotions, for the most part I am as easy to read as a movie-theater screen (is that a good metaphor? I dunno, but you get the point, right?).

Is that because of my chemical imbalance – the one that means I have anxiety and depression? Or is it in addition to it? Those things heighten all of the emotions, that’s for sure.

My therapist told me recently I protect myself/my emotions..possibly too much. And she’s exactly right. Because, for as long as I can remember I’ve apologized for most of my emotions. I say how I feel then get afraid that it’s out there so I apologize that I even said anything. I apologize because I felt this way or that way.

Do you know how stupid that is?

You probably do. I didn’t..not really anyway. I’m getting there, though.

I have RBF/CBF (it’s a thing, really), so I spend a lot of time telling people I’m fine when I don’t look it. And I’m usually telling the truth.

Sidebar: Read this and this. They’re basically about my daily life.

But sometimes I’m not fine. That’s part of these mental issues that I have that are some day 8 million times harder than others. And I have apologized, many a time, for not being fine.

Again – it’s stupid, but it’s reality. And I’m not alone. A friend posted this video on Facebook, and when I shared it on my wall, I wrote about my own struggles with it in an apologetic tone!

Silly.

A major thing that’s happened for me in recent years – perhaps since I started therapy or started medication – is I’ve spoken up more about how I felt. You all know – I’ve written a lot about it on this blog. In a couple cases, it’s cost me friendships (which, would we really call them that if they were so easily lost?) but in others its made things stronger.

So yeah, I’ve spoken up more in my relationships (whether they be friendships, family, romantic/potentially romantic). It may not always be in my speaking voice (I tend to write better than I can speak) but it gets said. People know where they stand with me, as they should.

I’m gonna use 30 as an excuse, kind of, but why not? I’m too old for the drama. If I feel some type of way, I’ll tell ya. If I don’t, I’ll tell ya. And it might not always work out that way but I tend to expect that out of others. Problem with me? Tell me. You love me? Tell me. Because if the shoe’s on the other foot, you’re finding out. It’s just easier that way, I think.

And I’m NOT sorry that I feel like that.

A lot of my favorite things

OK, sometimes I only give you a few links to things I’m loving lately. But I’m feeling generous this time. So feel free to waste time on every single one of these for the next, oh, three days. There’s a lot to go through.

Here are some of my favorite things these days:

This is pure joy, right here.

I love Mateo.

OK, good to know, now how do I become a judge? Because I would pick the cutest ones. Sorry not sorry.

Things like this are part of the million reasons I love photography.

One of the best shows ever. And one of the hottest leading men ever. Timothy Olyphant? YUM.

Kind of want to do this. Especially now that I see Dooce is one of the curators.

Bravo, Newton, for encouraging change.

“So what can we do, we can’t stop the grief, we can’t stop talking. What we can do is spend the time and energy identifying vulnerable kids.”

THIS.

Also, THIS.

Speaking of puppies

Oh man, I miss Breaking Bad

I want to get all of these in prints and wallpaper a room with them. Amazing.

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image courtesy posterology.tumblr.com

One of my favorite cities, even before it got to keep my sister and brother-in-law for a couple years.

Life lessons.

Click on this if you want your heart (and, if you’re female, your ovaries) to explode:

Fucking genius.

Never heard of either of the Kentucky ones.. http://mentalfloss.com/article/27987/15-places-strange-names-and-how-they-got-them

Speaking of Kentucky, this would be a good birthday present for a certain Kentucky girl about to turn 30 in a couple weeks…
yallstore4_1024x1024
image courtesy kentuckyforkentucky.com

Presidential food, because why not?

A startling look at mental health and what college campuses are and are NOT doing about it..

A popular phrase the roommates and I have used lately.

Saved the best for last – I’m gonna miss havin’ Russdiculous on our team, but can’t wait to see what he can do in the NBA!

(P.s. Can someone make me a shirt that says “In Russ We Trust”?)

One Month Checkup

Today marks a few important things. First of all, it’s March now. WOOT.

Second of all, today is the day I would be jumping in cold water for Special Olympics but I did that last year and it was terrifying. I’ll stick to dry land from now on, but I still want to be a part of the event every year, so today I’ll be there helping some braver souls out of the water.

Thirdly, it’s the start of Blog Birthday Month – but more on that later.

And last, but certainly not least, today marks one month since I’ve cut down my dosage on antidepressants. I am now on half the dosage of a medicine I’ve been kinda sorta depending on for the past few years.

How’s it going, you ask? Well, I mean, it’s going.

The main thing I’ve really noticed is my sleep. I’m waking up in the night more now than I was – and not because of the Ghost Lizard (more about him soon…). It’s not back to the significantly disruptive insomnia it was before, but it’s kind of annoying.

But honestly, it’s better than I expected. I was apprehensive as hell about cutting back because I forgot life before that dosage. Not in a bad way, but I guess it was more of a security blanket. Like I knew I’d never get really bad because I had that medicine – Prozac, if you’re feelin’ extra nosy.

So when I made the decision to cut back, I was afraid I’d lose that little cushion. I was afraid that cutting the dosage in half would do the opposite to my emotions, that things would come back doubly strong. I say afraid but I mean anxious, and that, my friends, is why I’m on something in the first place.

Seriously, though, I was unsure what to expect and as a true anxious person, I expected the worst. But it’s not been bad. I think I’ve learned enough from therapy -and life in general – that I can handle what comes at me in a way that doesn’t involve crawling into bed and not wanting to get out for three days. I am learning, without as much medical assistance, what to get bent out of shape about and what to not give a shit about.

I still have bad days, but who doesn’t? I’m human. But my bad days aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be, or as bad as they once were. And silly me thought that wasn’t going to be possible – or was going to take a long, long time – without the help of those extra chemicals to even me out.

We’re (the doctor, the shrink and I) looking at this summer as the time I’ll likely go all the way off. And I’ll probably get scared and anxious and stuff again before that happens because it’s been four years since I’ve been medication-free. But I was different then, I was in a different place in life, in all senses of the word.

But now, I’m older and wiser (ha) and learning to cope on my own. And I think I’ll be OK.