Found a writing prompt, wound up running with it and this is the result…

The prompt was something like “write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life asking them for help” and I started writing it as a letter and it kind of wound up like a journal, but whateverrrr haha

Dear you,

Dear important human of my past, dear one who helped shape me, dear person I haven’t forgotten and won’t forget probably ever…

I am writing to you go to ask for a favor. I know you’ve already done enough in my life to help me, and I’ve never taken that help for granted; I remember often that you changed my world for the better and honestly, that you were the first one who saved me. You started a chain reaction of positive change just by noticing me. By hearing me. You set the ball rolling for the rest of my life, a future that I actually began to look forward to. I am forever grateful.

You may now know how much your acts of kindness helped me, but they did. I can’t underestimate what it meant to me that you were safe and that you built up trust with me. You were powerfully inspiring. And it resonates with me still. It has for eleven years.

So yes, I realize it may be selfie for me to once again seek your wisdom and advice and assistance.

But my life, that future you showed me could be worthwhile, isn’t going as I expected. I mean, I’ve had high points and I’ve made beautiful memories and I cherish how far I’ve come and I have such excitement and hope about what my world can be. I just…I can’t seem to get myself on track in terms of solidified plans and definite progress.

So my actual question, I guess, is this:

Can you remind me of who I was? Can you remind me of the passion you unlocked inside of me? Can you speak to me about the journey I embarked on and recreate the spark you ignited inside of me?

I hope remembering my teenage self will…I guess reestablish my motivation?

What I really want is to make you proud of me, because lately I feel like I’ve been failing in that endeavor. I want to do something important and significant and worthy of the faith you had in my past self (and my present one!). I want to prove to you that helping me all those years ago was worth it. I know I can do it, somehow or some way, but I’m scared that I’m not.

I’m hearing my words as I write them. And what I’m hearing, as I type them out and process their meaning, is that I want to be proud of MYSELF. I want to feel like I’ve done things I can give myself credit for, things that make me feel like I’m smart. I want to impress others, but more importantly my self.  To find my limits and push myself beyond them, to the better side of success, to the place where I’ll look upon my security and smile. I want to work hard enough to get to a point where forward motion isn’t difficult anymore but is instead simply the direction I’m going in implicitly. I want to do right by me.

I want the passion inside my depths to be set free in a way that aligns with who I am and who I’m capable of becoming. Because I certainly AM capable of becoming what I envision —and mind you, I’m capable of envisioning it only because you instilled in me eleven years ago that I could.

Maybe I didn’t picture it hard enough back then though, since I’m still struggling. Maybe I should’ve worked harder back then so I’d be better off now.

But I’m trying not to live with regret! What good will that do?! I don’t think bashing my sixteen-year-old self is helpful. Although following that logic, it follows to say that getting down on my twenty-seven year old self isn’t helpful either.

I’m trying. I know that I am, and I know if you spoke with me about it now, you’d see that in me. You saw the good in me back then. You saw the potential and the strength and the desire to be whole and happy and inspiring. I know I still have that. It hasn’t evaporated out of me; the most crucial parts of who we are can’t simply vanish into thin air.

I just ask that you remind me of how crucial those parts of me are. How they are intertwined with my very essence of being.

Can you please remind me that I can do this? I need the reassurance.

Or at the very least, can you affirm that I’m not failing you? That I’m still a work in progress but that doesn’t mean I’m not also a masterpiece? That I’ll get there. Hopefully soon, but if not soon then when I’m supposed to get there. That slow and steady wins the race, so long as I’m enjoying being in the race?

I know. It’s different for everyone. I shouldn’t compare myself to someone else’s end if I’m still in my middle. I shouldn’t even compare myself to someone else’s middle, because I’m me. Not them. And I’m glad I’m me.

And I’m glad you helped shape me, because I’m turning out to be pretty fucking cool.

I’ll end with a tremendous thank you. For both what you’ve done in the past and for reading this letter. I’m pretty sure the plea I had for you at the start of my writing this has been dealt with simply via the process of getting these words down. I feel better after a mere one-sided conversation to you. That’s how powerful you are! No wonder you were able to have such a profound impact on me 🙂

I hope you are well and loving life and enjoying your days and smiling every chance you get. I look forward to catching up!

Love love love you,

Laura

 

I didn’t proofread this and I have no clue if it makes any sense. I wrote it in like less than an hour, which I normally don’t do. It usually takes me a longg long time to write anything and everything. And I usually don’t mind it taking that long. After all, I fuckin’ love writing 🙂 But I’ve got this writing prompt app I’ve been using, and it’s really cool! It gives you prompts if you need them, and advice too sometimes.  Cool, right? And you can set a word count goal and it tracks how far you’ve gotten in it.  It’s pretty awesome for people who have a goal to write a certain amount every day. I suggest it for burgeoning writers such as myself. I lost track of what I was saying there (thank you to the racing thoughts and flight of ideas that come with being bipolarrrr ugh)…my point was that with the app I just let my fingers fly and it’s helpful in getting me to write shit quickly.

I wrote a poem-type thing (an artsy essay? I’m always hesitant to use the word poetry) the other day on it, maybe I’ll post that here too.

Aaaanyway. Enjoy, I guess?

 

Writing in the third person might actually be a useful tool for me

Writing in the third person obviously removes the writer from the situation, to some extent.  So I tried journaling that way, which was interesting.  The simple fact is that it turns what “I” do into what “she” does.  It isn’t happening to ME if I write about myself as a character in a story I’m writing.  Because like, I have trouble applying certain logic to myself.  Like when I wrote my resume, I pretended I was doing it for someone else.  I’ve fixed up tons of my friends’ resumes, but I got stuck on my own.  It’s related to confidence and self-esteem and all that jazz, but regardless, removing myself from my resume was helpful.  Even doing the journaling as if my thoughts were someone else’s was helpful.

I wrote a thing.  Gonna share it here, obviously.

“You know that sensation I get sometimes?  The one where something just feels wrong?”  She twisted her hands up so they matched the knot in her stomach.  “I don’t know what it is and I– I don’t– I don’t know how to figure it out.  I just feel off.  Dis…distracted?  I feel, I feel so…” she trailed off, her mind struggling to find the right words, and failing.

But while her words failed to explain the nagging, uncomfortable emotion, her body language displayed it clearly.  The twisting and fidgeting was only the tip of the iceberg. She was folding her body into itself, hunched over, holding her limbs ever closer to her core.  It seemed that she would shrink smaller than her already petite frame if she had the ability to do so. She’d been staring at the floor, but when she looked up, her eyes darted back and forth as they searched for something safe to rest upon.  Or maybe it was that she was hoping she would find the words that matched her feelings written in midair in front of her so she could stop stumbling over what the fuck she was saying. What she was trying to say, at least.

“I…don’t feel good,” she concluded.  Her own eyes widened in a panic-stricken plea for assistance as she stared finally into the eyes of the person she was talking to.

The reply back might have been comforting or it might have been lacking in sympathy, but it didn’t register with her regardless.  She was too busy scouring the depths of her brain for an answer. And when that yielded nothing, she looked to external cues to make sense of the nonsense.

Outside, the sun was attempting to shine through the clouds that had it partially obscured.  Maybe that was why she felt so mopey; the weather had always had an impact on her moods. As annoying and inconvenient as it was, it was a fact.  She cursed the clouds internally. Why couldn’t they just go awayyyyy?

But then again, perhaps this anxiety wasn’t merely a result of the dull, gray day.  Perhaps it didn’t have a reason at all. It wouldn’t be the first time the anxiousness bubbled its way through her being for literally no reason.  It wouldn’t even be the first time it’s happened this week.

She could have cursed her moods as she did with the clouds, but honestly, it wasn’t even worth it.  Resigned to the fact that “this is just how it is,” she decided to move on with her day as best as she was able.  Which meant finishing her coffee and going to the store and getting shit done and then reading her book or playing her video game or listening to a podcast.

Don’t think, just do.  Repeat that as a mantra until the chaos dissolves.  It always does. Don’t think. Just do.

I think I feel better and less anxious now.  Also, the second I was done typing that the sun came out, so there’s that.  Lol.

I don’t wanna write too much more about this because I don’t wanna analyze it to death right now.  And also I wanted to write something else today too, something about confidence today and about who I am in terms of confidence (I write all this introspective stuff, and it’s all for me…maybe I should write something that’s not about my emotions???)

Anywayyyyy, yeah.

The Incredible Hulk: what my favorite superhero taught me about myself (& other lessons)

In my high school, once you got to eleventh or twelfth grade, certain students were eligible to take part in something called Project Adventure instead of going through with the regular phys ed curriculum.  Mr. Dooley was the teacher and he was cool. He tried his hardest to empower each of the few students who got to be a part of the program. Project Adventure focused on team-building and leadership skills, and at the end of the year, everyone would get the chance to go on the high ropes course in the fields between the track and the library.  It included aerial obstacles and a zip line, and it basically just looked really fuckin’ fun (despite my fear of heights).

I was lucky enough to be picked for the class, and I was pretty happy about it because Gym had never been a strength of mine and because instead of boring sports and cruel classmates, I was looking at a year of learning how to harness my strengths and be a better leader.

One of the first things we did in the class was pick nicknames.  There was a reason why we did that, and I’m sure Mr. Dooley explained it beautifully.  I assume the nicknames were supposed to make us all closer to one another since we learned a great deal about trust.  But this was, oh dear God, over ten years ago now, so I can’t fully recall it.

What I do remember, quite vividly, is the nickname we decided upon for me: Hulk.  It was definitely ironic. Or at least it seemed ironic at the time. The Hulk was big and muscular and strong and, well, a superhero.  Plus, he was angry. And in eleventh grade, I was wasting away into my eating disorder and the only thing super about me was my level of anxiety.  I was a little angry, perhaps, but more than that I was outrageously sad.

Due to the aforementioned eating disorder, anxiety, and sadness, I was admitted to a hospital in April of that year.  They didn’t let me out until the school year was nearly over in June, until it appeared as though I’d gained some sort of control over the issues that had previously taken over me.  I could write novels about that experience (and in fact, stay tuned for those novels because I’ll publish them one day soon) but the point of this particular story is that I arrived back at school just in time for zip line day.

I walked out to the high ropes course with the rest of my class.  The almost-summer sun was shining and I was wearing my newly rediscovered smile and life was good.  Mr. Dooley pulled me into a hug when he saw me. He welcomed me back to our crew and everyone said how they missed me.  Then, before we got to the climbing and zip lining, Mr. Dooley handed me a worksheet that we’d all had to complete earlier in the year about our short-term and long-term goals.  I’d nearly forgotten that my goal was to “get healthy, mentally and physically,” but when I read that it was, I looked up at the teacher and proudly announced that I’d done it. I still have that paper in a folder in my desk, and I love that instead of my name written across the top, it simply says “The Hulk.”

Right, so even before I was big into superheroes, the Hulk meant something special to me.  His name continued to remind me of my internal ability to conquer long after high school was over.  In college, or maybe sometime after, my friends and I ran an obstacle course race and we decided that we’d dress like the Avengers for it.  I was obviously sporting purple shorts and a green sports bra during the grueling thirteen-mile adventure, and when I felt myself getting tired, I invoked the Hulk’s powers to keep me going.  When I met the guy I eventually started dating, the guy who happens to be my future husband, he showed me how cool comic books are. During one trip to the comic book store, Andrew bought a thick hardcover called Planet Hulk.  And even though at the time the only thing I purchased was Scooby Apocalypse (yes that’s exactly as amazing as it sounds), my affinity for the Incredible Hulk was growing.

It was recently that I realized another reason why I love him so much.  It’s a very obvious connection, but it hadn’t occurred to me. There are two sides to the entity that is this superhero: there’s the mild and timid physicist Bruce Banner and there’s the supposed “monster” he turns into when he’s angry.  I’m bipolar, and can I just say that I can really relate to that. That whole “shy, insecure person turning into a hulking monster when provoked” thing. Yeah, I fucking get that. When I’m in a mood, I’m agitated and itchy with frustration, and I lash out in anger far more often than I’d like to admit.  And whether it’s set off by a person being shitty or my brain chemicals being shitty, the fact that I become something I’m not (or at least something I’m not always) is terrifying. Because who am I? Which one am I? And how can I understand my experience with both if I don’t really know how to control either?

Bruce Banner definitely struggles with such things in the first movie, but by the first Avengers movie, he’s a superhero.  He can manage the Hulk that’s within him even though he’d previously been living in fear that that part of him would escape and cause irreparable damage (both physical and emotional).  He manages his anger. No, he uses his anger to his advantage without denying its existence.  And he basically kicks bad-guy ass in the best way possible.

Talk about a role model, am I right?!  Especially for people with bipolar, if they make the connection I recently made.  Look, we have to live with this mood shit. Yeah, there are meds and coping skills and cognitive tools or whatever.  Yeah, we can lessen the symptoms. But I don’t think we can ever be completely cured. As Hulk says to Captain America, his secret is that he’s “always angry.”  Just like I am always a little more…intense. Bruce learns how to work with the Hulk, instead of suppressing him and being scared of him. He learns how to be a superhero.  I am learning how to work within the limits of my bipolar stuff, how to not be afraid of the inevitability of an episode, in order to harness my own superpowers.

I reaaaally enjoy the metaphor there.  It’s a much better way to look at my mental illness.  But wait, there’s more! I was thinking about power and what enables someone to be powerful.  I was thinking about this in a place where I feel virtually powerless: work. It’s a sucky feeling.  I work a pointless retail job where I have to be nice to the worst people on the planet, the absolute scum-of-the-earth type people.  It enrages me.  To stand there and take the abuse because I have no choice, the fact that those smug, self-entitled motherfuckers KNOW that I have to stand there and take the abuse because I have no choice…don’t get me started.  I’m supposed to be writing but now I’m visibly fuming. My point, however, is that if I think about things the way Bruce Banner would have to think about them, things look a whole lot better.

Anger is what fuels the Hulk.  He’s basically the strongest superhero of the bunch because his powers, directly correlated to how mad he is, are potentially limitless.  And if you think about it, the longer a villain fight goes on, the more fuckin’ pissed off he’s gonna be. So eventually, he’s gonna win.

Now, I can’t actually turn green and muscular and beat the shit out of a customer (although I’ve daydreamed about it many manyyyy times).  And I know anger isn’t always the healthiest motivator. But I can still allow the anger I feel to give me power. I can use it to motivate me to leave work and apply to a job where I DO feel like I have power, but there are lots of issues surrounding the job thing that I’m not talking about right now.

Anger already kind of does make me powerful.  When I’m mad about something and really just stewing in it, I talk differently.  I speak clearly and articulate my point more accurately and enunciate my words without difficulty.  Whereas when I’m all happy-go-lucky Laura, I rush through what I have to say before I can get the thoughts from my head to my mouth and stumble over my words.  I even move differently when I’m pissed. I feel myself doing it. I stand up taller when I’m angry, I’m sure in my motions and gestures. I don’t shrink into myself.  Of course, it can get a bit out of hand at times. Speaking more articulately only goes so far when half the words I’m spewing are profane. It’s just that once you get me going, I can’t stop.

It’s pretty clear, in my opinion.  There are two extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum and I struggle to get a grip on either.  I can’t make myself speak clearly when I’m not mad, I can’t move more assuredly unless I’m livid.  And I can’t help but unleash my anger about every tiny thing in my life once the anger-key has turned in the Laura-lock.

I’ve gotta get me some balance.  Gotta manage the anger, harness it so it’s within my limits.  And I’ve gotta let the power is that the product of that motivate me.

It turns out my old high school nickname was aptly picked.  Even back then, when I assumed it was irony that made my classmates go with the name, it had been accurate.  I’d returned to school on one of the very last days and I zip lined when I never thought I’d be able to conquer my fear of heights.  This was after having conquered my eating disorder. I learned that I have control over my fears. I control my emotions and how I handle them.  I control my situation and how I respond to it. I control my moods and how I think of them.

I was the Hulk before I realized why, but now that I do, I’m gonna SMASH my doubts and focus only on my superpower.

I’m not good at sitting still. On top of being fidgety, I have this need to be constantly moving or doing or being productive. And I experience annoying guilt when I’m not. I have trouble unwinding. Relaxing is difficult, even when I desperately want to, because I simply don’t know how. Even when I’m not physically moving, even when I’m still, it’s not a relaxing stillness. I zone out in a distracted kind of way. You might think that’s a good thing. You might be thinking zoning out is good because it shuts my endlessly loud brain off for a moment or two. But it’s not a good thing because my brain isn’t off; it’s annoyed that it’s not moving or doing or being productive. Yeah. It’s problematic. The whole issue.

Like this morning. I woke up when my boyfriend woke up for work. Around 6:30 or 7. Which is normal. As I’ve said, I love mornings. Also, I go to bed at like 8 or 9 because I’m either exhausted or bored of being awake. Lol that’s a whole separate problem, but whatever.

Anyway I was dressed and out the door by 7:20 and left with the problem of “what should I do before I go to work, which isn’t until 10:30?”

Here, enjoy my face. I’m not wearing makeup and my hair (although still very mermaidy and fun) is kinda messy. But I’ve just been loving the car-selfies lately. My camera roll is full of ’em now.

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It’s currently 9:23, and I’ve had a full morning. I got coffee at a place by where my parents live, got this delicious sugar cookie latte and it made me happy. I drove to the beach and on the parkway that connects it to the other beach. It’s so relaxing because there’s no traffic or anything. It’s just me, my music, and the sun gathering strength in the sky. Then I went to the marina over there and took pretty pictures because I love love love pictures. And nowwwww I’m at the bookstore. This place has been special to me for a while, and not only because books are magic. I started coming here to meet my friend Meg back in the day. When we first learned to drive we’d meet here and get excited about life and ideas and books, and we’d be super passionate and energetic, and get coffee and ahhh, it was amazing. I dunno. This bookstore is special.

Right, I’ve had a busy but enjoyable morning and I’m feeling good. Which I’m thankful for.

Last night I felt yucky. Just really blahhhh. Weirdly “off.” It’s such a fucking annoying feeling. Because I didn’t know why I felt like that and I was fixated on the whyyy in addition to feeling the feeling I was feeling in general. I mean, it coulda been because my adhd medication wore off around that time. Like I took it in the late morning and then stared at my computer screen frantically typing and concentrating and word-ing for four and a half hours. And then when I was done and the meds wore off I felt empty and frazzled and exhausted. So yeah, coulda been because of that. But it still sucked. I wound up getting in bed at 7:45 and not falling asleep until like 9:30 and then having yet another night of shitty dreams and tossing and turning. Fun.

I’ll admit. For a while I was panicking. As I was in bed just there, trying to sleep, letting my mind wander…I was panicking. Because I know that feeling. And I know where it usually leads. I know where it’s lead me in the past. Historically feeling yucky like that affords me an express ticket to insanity.

I need to not panic at the slightest thing. Easier said than done. Particularly due to the fact that I have anxietyyyyyyy. But ya know. It’s not helpful.

I swear, when I was informed that “it doesn’t have to be that way” I was shocked. When I was told that there another way, that I don’t HAVE to lose my sanity constantly, it blew my mind. I’m still adapting to the news. I still don’t know if I believe it.

Yes, it’s true that I haven’t had a really bad episode in a while. Longer than it’s ever been, perhaps? It was the end of November when I got my life back together fully after the last episode. And now we’re into March. So I should’ve gone crazy already. Ugh, and it’s like. Sometimes I feel like I just want it to happen. You know how when you know you’re gonna puke? You want to get it over with. You wish it’d just happen. Or to use another analogy that makes sense to me, when I roller skate (which is so fun but boy am I the worst at skating), I brace myself for a fall even when I’m NOT about to fall. I brace myself anyway. I think I said in an earlier post, my therapist says I’m white-knuckling life. Which is very accurate haha.

That all being said, I think I’m gonna have a good day. I certainly had a nice morning. It’s 9:45 now and I have to leave for work ughhhhh. It shouldn’t be too terrible today but I’ll still be exhausted by the end. And then Andrew (boyfriend) and I are meeting his cousin to see the new Marvel movie. So yes. I’ll be cranky tonight. But I think I was just saying that it’ll be a good day. Right?? I’m confusing myself.

Alright I’m going to work. Ugh. Bye.

Evolve

I love words and decorating my life with them.  I have signs throughout my bedroom and living room with words like dream and smile.  I fill my planner with stickers that say things like be unique.  Even my body is marked with words that are important to me; an outward expression of who I am inside, most of my tattoos are phrases that I need to literally carry with me when my inside forgets them.  It takes rain to make a rainbow to show that can find good in the bad, and that in fact, we must.  Because without both, we’d appreciate neither. Happiness can be found (even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light) to symbolize my ability to create happiness in the down-periods.  Have a magical day to remind me of my escape even on days where finding the magic is difficult.  Just keep swimming, etched on my thigh, is what I know I have to do when I don’t know what else to do.

As a writer, words are my means of understanding and my source of power.  I use them to process life. Choosing the “right” words allows me to make sense of life, and see the bigger picture I am being shown.  I can live my days over again using words, tasting the sweet parts once more as I write about whichever details I want to preserve for eternity.  Words are how I make you understand, too. The things that need to be understood and the things that need to be celebrated…with my words, I can get you there, too.  I can make you feel sublime as I bring you to places you love and state of beings where you are safe and comfortable and happy. Or if I chose to, I could make you feel the exact opposite.  I can drag you down to hell with me and spit you back out wherever you happen to be reading. To be able to transport you to where I want, to facilitate your transcendence above where you happen to be, is an amazing thing.  Twenty-six letters, mixed and matched as I please, give me that power.

I realize that the majority of people aren’t quite as aware of the importance of words as I happen to be.  But their importance always remains there nonetheless. They influence us. That’s why those decorative signs exist, why those stickers exist, why people (even non-writers) get words inked onto their skin.  It’s a communication thing, a symbolic thing. It’s a human thing.

Alright, maybe it’s mostly people like me who have this obsession with words.  My affinity for them may very well be solely related to my self-given title of Writer.  But my point is that ascribing particular meaning to one can be a phenomenal influence.

The reason I’m bringing all of this up is that in my therapist’s office, there’s a block with the word evolve on it.  I noticed it when I first saw her, but it wasn’t until she related what I was saying to the word one day, excitedly pointing at it across the room, that I felt myself really thinking about evolve.

It looked cool written on that white block, thanks to a font I particularly enjoy.  I liked how it sounded, how it felt in my mouth when I said it. It also sounded cool rattling around in my brain, and it blended well with the other thoughts rattling around, so I kept it there.   And there it has stayed. Evolve.  It’s a great word, but I want to decide why it’s a great word.  What better way to do that than with more words?

 

What I Realized About My Carefully Constructed Comfort Zone

I’ve always had trouble getting myself from where I am to where I want to be.  I have these ideas in my head that are so big they overflow onto the ground surrounding me, and I certainly have enough enthusiasm to water each one until it begins to grow.  But the growth is halted just shy of actually blooming into flowers. I don’t know how to finish what I start in terms of reality, how to make ideas from my head take hold in the real world.  It’s disheartening, to say the least.

I tell myself that no one begins by being finished.  If we all began at the finish line, no one would be doing anything or going anywhere, and that’s not what life is.  We don’t start out where we want to be because we have to get ourselves there. We have to embark on the journey that starts at point A, growing and changing and developing gradually, adapting and improving as we internalize what we’ve learned, until we are able to reach our point B.  We have to evolve. Because that is what life is.

This thought-process works on another level in addition to that more metaphorical one:  When you look up ‘evolution’ you’ll find an explanation of how living species on our planet have become what they are.  Over like, a super long time, a given species will go through small changes in characteristics that ultimately lead it to become more adapted and developed.  It will “internalize what it has learned” by way of beneficial genetic mutations being passed down through reproduction, until a species is ultimately actualized.  Humans didn’t start out as humans; we had to work our way here through the evolutionary pathways. Talk about that journey, right?

So to continue my line of thinking using the analogy, who cares if I’ve spent “too much” time closer to point A than point B?

Which brings me to a somewhat tangential point that I’ve JUST realized is absolutely relevant and that lead me to title this section the way that I did: point B lives outside of this thing called a Comfort Zone.

If you read the first portion of this essay-thing of mine, you won’t be surprised to hear that I looked up the term.  (Yeah, I already knew what it meant, but isn’t the definition a great place to start an in-depth analysis? Because that’s what you’re in for, so strap in.)  A comfort zone is “a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.” It’s a mental state, I guess. It’s where things feel familiar, where life can be controlled.  It is safe from anxiety and stress.

The general connotation of the term is a negative one, and a quick search for “comfort zone memes” proves this.  Good things can only happen outside of it, apparently (picture a Venn Diagram where the ‘comfort zone’ circle and the ‘good things’ circle don’t overlap).  The quote “you’re only confined by the walls you build yourself” also shows up in that search, meaning that our comfort zones confine us, keep us away from those aforementioned good things.  And even if we don’t label the term ‘bad,’ we still get the overwhelming feeling that there’s nothing productive or helpful about the concept of staying in one’s comfort zone. We won’t grow or move forward if we remain in their safety.  And aren’t growth and forward motion kind of key in life?

Isn’t evolution key in life?

We won’t evolve if we aren’t willing to feel uncomfortable or vulnerable or awkward or even scared.  The best parts of life happen when we push through all that crap and come out successful and proud on the other side.  And even if we fail, whatever that word may mean, the effort of pushing our limits would still be valid. Effort is never wasted.  You will still be closer to your point B having tried. You will still have evolved, in some way.

I’m questioning my personal comfort zone now (because exploring ideas through writing never fails to launch me into these near-existential crises).  Where do I feel safe and at ease? Where am I without stress and anxiety? I’m gonna NOT make a joke about how I’m never without stress and anxiety, because using humor here would feel like a maladaptive coping mechanism.  And because there are definitely a few places where I feel safe and calm.

For example, I’m in such a place as I’m writing this.  I’m sitting at my desk which is tucked in a nook by my bedroom window.  I’m warm and cozy. I’m surrounded by my books and decorations. I have my planner out next to my laptop (where I’ve written my to-dos for the week in pastel pens and added stickers that say choose happiness and dare to be different in matching colors).  I have Disney World Area Music playing (the music you hear while walking around the parks, I find it incredibly relaxing).  I am in my own world. Things are alright.

And I feel that way because I’m being a bit reclusive.  And there’s safety in that. I’m alone, the way I want to be right now.  I’m in control. My therapist pointed out that anxiety tends to breed recluses, but that in addition to being an anxious person myself, I’m also an extrovert.  She’s right (she tends to be right quite a lot all the time).  I crave human connection in a pretty obvious way.  Which is why I also feel safe and secure when I’m with someone I know and love and respect and relate to, particularly when someone like that hugs me.  I feel so comfortable in the protective hold of someone I love and trust. Letting myself melt into another person is my favorite because whoever has their arms around me acts as a shield against whatever worries had been harassing me only moments earlier.

Guess what, though?  I can’t live my life inside the hugs of my friends and family.  And I hafta leave my desk at some point. I’m fully aware of that.  ‘Cause even though I wish I could live solely where things are comfortable, I’ve had plenty of incredible experiences outside of those places.

Seriously.  One time I was doing this obstacle course, this Tough Mudder race, and I was on this platform like a billion feet above a pool of water.  I had to jump. I had no choice. I was fucking terrified, but then some muscular dude took me by the shoulders and shouted in a forceful but not-unkind way that I had surely done things in my life that were much harder than this.  So I took a running start and with every ounce of strength I could muster, strength that I got from surviving those harder things, I jumped. And holy hell was it the fun.

That’s a pretty specific experience.  I could have cited countless other examples of having fun outside of my comfort zone, of finding these great aspects of life outside of where it’s safe.  But I think that one sums it up nicely: I was scared but I pushed through, I learned a valuable lesson that I believe helped me mature as a person, and I came out more evolved (and sopping wet) on the other side.

 

Making The Connection (Finally)

There’s nothing wrong with spending time at point A.  It’s probably a pretty great place. But that’s probably because we’re comfortable there.  If we make an effort to get to our point B, if we work hard to finish what we wanted to start, we might, well…we might get there.  We might finish. That’s scary. We might look around at where we got to and at what we finished, and we might not really love what we see.  And then, dammit, we’ll have to call that place A and set out to find yet another B. But staying at that A is still easier than pressing on, so, ya know, the cycle continues.

Life is a journey (ugh that sounds so cliche but go with me here).  It is full of different points and places and experiences.  That’s kind of what makes it fun and great and worth it.  But we have to move. Preferably in the forward direction, but sometimes any direction will do.  We have to adapt and change.

I realize I switched tenses or something.  I’ve been saying we have to do this, that, or the other thing.  But I have to tell myself that this is what I need to do.  And not hide in the safety of we.  

Staying in my comfort zone is not conducive to living an evolved life.  And I guess that’s really my reason for writing this? Clearly I had some thinking to do about the world EVOLVE, and it became obvious that I connected the word with letting go of shit that’s holding me back.

Before I started writing, I wrote down a bunch of words and phrases that I thought related to evolving.  Things like “self-improvement” and “a positive or beneficial transformation” and “a deliberate awakening.”  I dunno, I was just spitballing ideas. But all of that, all of those phrases I jotted down, relate back to doing things that scare me regardless of how anxious I am.  How else will I improve? How else will I wake up to the wonderful things life has to offer me? I have to jump off the ledge because “I’ve done things so much harder than this” and because that’s how I’m gonna get through life.

 

You Made It To The Conclusion, Congrats

I think life has many different comfort zones and I think it requires many different evolutionary processes.  I think we should enjoy the comforts we find and enjoy the processes we go through, so long as we keep going. Life’s about balance, after all.  And although my life has been separated into opposite poles for so damn long (thank you, Bipolar Disorder), I think I can at least balance enjoying life and working at life.  Plus, I’m a writer. So I figure this grandiose shit out in elaborate essays that I can reread at any time. It’s super helpful, I recommend it.

Anyway.  What I’m saying is I don’t believe that staying where it’s comfortable and secure and controlled is always a bad thing.  I don’t think I’m bad or stupid or weak for staying at any point A for too long. I just want to stop living there exclusively.  I want to evolve into what I know I’m capable of evolving into, even if it means digging deeper or challenging myself or going beyond my perceived limits.  Because I’m fairly certain the result of meeting all that with passion is gonna be really fuckin’ cool.

Bipolar Progression: A Retelling of My Moods

I dunno what to call this thing. That isn’t my favorite name up there, but whatever haha, you’ll get the point. It’s about how it all progressed, so I guess the name, although boring, works. I didn’t really title it to begin with, so whatever.

This is the first real WRITING that I showed my therapist, and I think it’s something that gives real insight to my…craziness? (And again, I use the word with love and claim it as my own because I relate to it) Maybe reading this (or listening to me read it) helps people make sense of who I am and how I came to be who I am.

It feels like forever ago that I sat in her office reading this to my therapist, but it was probably like two months ago. Maybe less. I’m revisiting it now because I think it’d be helpful. I was told in this morning’s session that I am actually a functioning human, going about my business in society at a fairly high level of competence. I love when she compliments me and says nice things about me and reassures me, but there’s something to be said in the fact that I still have trouble hearing it. My eyes don’t meet hers when she talks like that.  I guess I’m still self-conscious about…something? I mean, I don’t feel successful. She phrased it in a way that made more sense, something about how I’m not doing what makes me fulfilled inside? Something like that, but dammit, I wish I remembered her actual words. Regardless, I have to consider the main idea. That being that I’m high functioning, apparently. I’m “normal” (is how I interpret it, sort of). Which means when I feel comfortable enough to do so, I’ll add some more to my plate and start looking for a JOB that doesn’t make me feel like garbage.

When I’m comfortable, I’m going to move forward. That’s scary in a whole hell of a lot of ways. But what I’m getting at is: before I move on, I need to come to terms with my backstory. Or whatever.

Anyway.

These words are important to me. I chose them carefully.

My story, my journey, whatever you want to call it…is important to me. I find meaning in it carefully.

I guess just read it and see for yourself?

When I was ten, it tugged at me.

At the time, I was merely confused. Maybe a little curious.

It felt weird more than anything else.

A vague and unfamiliar sensation that wouldn’t seem to go away.

Something…wasn’t right.

I didn’t know what, but it didn’t really matter.

I distracted myself by learning to crochet and going about my regular fifth-grade business.

.

When I was thirteen, it pulled at me.

At the time, I was already agitated, as every new teenager is. I grew annoyed with it.

It was confusing, but no longer curious to me.

A troubling nuisance, forever in the back of my consciousness, on top of everything else.

Something was wrong.

I didn’t know what, and I didn’t have time to figure it out.

I distracted myself with writing, and all the normal preoccupations of an eighth-grader.

.

When I was fourteen, it yanked at me.

At the time, I was stressed and upset and annoyed.

No longer confused, just pissed off with it.

A stupid, scary presence…a lingering sense of discomfort, and it was spreading.

Something was wrong. Very, definitely, completely wrong.

I didn’t know what, didn’t care either. Still had no time to figure it out, nor the willpower to try.

I was too distracted to distract myself. Fucking ninth grade.

.

When I was sixteen, it ripped into me.

I was depressed.

It was empty. Hollow sadness that radiated into every aspect of my being.

Anxiousness that pervaded every thought and action.

A dark cloud looming over me, terrible fears caving in on me.

Everything was wrong. Nothing was okay.

How did it get that way? How could it have gotten that way?!

I wondered how, and why, but had no energy to figure it out.

I distracted myself by starving my body into oblivion and cutting open my own skin.

Fuck.

.

The darkness was first punctured when I was seventeen.

Light washed over everything.

At the time, it was like moving through a familiar world by means that were infinitely more fun.

Happy that the weight had been lifted (figuratively, at least).

It felt weird, but it was a relief more than anything else.

An oddly satisfying sensation that grew more comfortable every day.

It was finally okay.

I was proud of myself, and it felt good.

I celebrated by smiling at the beauty of the world around me.

.

I was eighteen when I fell again.

It was like tasting freedom only to realize it was all some sick joke.

Suffocating sadness juxtaposed next to pure happiness…

A throwback to three years wasted, a body wasted.

Something. Wasn’t. Right. AGAIN!

Why, for the love of God, WHY?!

Exhausted, I begged the universe for an answer.

And instead, I went crazy.

.

A respite came when I was nineteen.

A diagnosis.

“Are you on cocaine?”

“No.”

“Then you’re bipolar.”

It was confusing more than anything else.

But when I finally caught my breath, it started to go away.

A short punctuation, a precarious pause…

And then insanity.

Something was wrong, or right, or something, and what was I talking about?

I didn’t know.

I distracted myself with self-mutilation.

.

I was twenty when it came and went.

Repeatedly.

A roller coaster of twists and turns.

One flash flood after another.

I was twenty-one, I was twenty-two, I was twenty-three.

.

I was twenty-four, and you know the story by now.

Exhausted.

Clawing my way back up, climbing and scaling and reaching…

And falling.

The ground ripped from underneath me.

Again.

Get back up. Again.

Pushed back down. Again.

Frustration.

.

Fifteen years in the making.

Perspective and knowledge and maturity behind me.

Up and down.

I know enough to center myself and ignore it.

UP and DOWN.

I’m hanging in there, struggling, but holding on.

Up down up down up down.

It throws me off balance, but my I have muscle memory from years of this, so I remain standing.

Up. Down.

I push back.

.

I am twenty-seven, and I’ve said enough is enough.

I’m stressed, but okay. Tired, but functioning.

Something’s right, something’s wrong…that’s just how it is.

I don’t know why, but I don’t have to.

I’m distracting myself by living my fucking life.

Morning Musings | welcome to my stream of consciousness

The sky is clear above the window I’m looking out of right now. It’s a pale blue. There are maybe one or two puffy, innocent-looking clouds scattered around, but I’m pretty sure the forecast is for sunshine all day. Thank goodness. I love days like this. I mean, it’s freezing, but it’s bright. So I have this feeling of safety and excitement, I guess because it’s the time of year when we know spring is coming. It’ll be here soon-ish, and when it comes so many other good things will accompany it. And for now, I know today’s gonna be a good day.

Not sure why I’ve been starting my writing by describing the weather. I’ve definitely done that quite a few times lately. It just feels like a good place to start though. Probably because it heavily impacts my moods? Which impacts everythinggggg which includes how I write?

Anyway, I’m sitting here with my coffee and easing into my day because I’m lucky enough to not have to jump out of bed and immediately get my ass to a job. (I mean I do need a better job than what I currently have, but all in good time I guess. I’m not gonna let my brain wander toward those thoughts because they’re so unpleasant ugh!) I’m scrolling social media, responding to notifications and such, flicking through my to-do lists for the day, etc. I’m just trying to get myself together, really. I have lots of random ideas floating through my head. I want to grab a few and latch ’em down. Save them for later when I can really help them grow and flower. Or potentially work on them now. I dunno. My point is that in this kind of meditative morning state, I need to organize my mind. I think I it’ll help set me up for the good day I know I’m going to have.

There’s so much I want to do, though. I’m dying to jump into it all. But I also simultaneously have trouble jumping into anything, even things I know I enjoy. I love reading. But to sit down and read a book is difficult. Well, starting to read it is difficult. But then I get sucked in and I’m good to go. The beginning is always the hardest, I guess?

Like there’s this poet I’m loving now. I found one of his books at Five Below believe it or not, and it was so like. Powerful. And I don’t normally enjoy reading poetry. Some types are great but a lot of times I just can’t get into it. This guy though, he’s such a wanderlust and so passionate about life and every little beautiful thing that makes it up. It’s amazing. I’m not a wanderlust myself necessary; reading about traveling is enough for me in most cases. It still sparks interest for me though. I have two of his books in physical form and he just published a new one that cake out yesterday. And I got the ebook. I can’t wait to read it.

There’s also a ton of fan fiction I want to read!! Because I’ve always loved the concept of fanfics. I really respect fic writers. Taking characters that already exist and writing them in new scenes and doing things fans want them to do, but keeping them in character and true to what we all already know and love about them? That shit it tricky. Plus, I read the fics about girl characters being in love with each other. I love shipping girls together (it relates to my sexuality which is an interesting story, I’m sure I’ll explain that on here at some point).

I need to listen to some podcasts. Particularly my favorite Disney podcast (wdw radio, I’m obsessedddd). It makes me feel connected to the place I call my Home away from home. My happy place! Oh man, now that I’m typing it out, I miss it so much. I need to go back. Maybe I’ll make myself feel extra happy by writing Disney stories. God knows I have tons of them!

I mean I’ll probably have enough time to do all this. I have therapy in like an hour and then I have about two hours from when that’s over til I have to go to work.

Aaaaanyway, I’m really just keyboard-smashing for myself right now. There’s really nothing major I have to or want to say other than what I’ve said already. But hey, this blog can be whatever I want it to be. And today it’s a journal, apparently. Haha

What makes me MAD (and why I strive to be an “Emotional Robin Hood”)

I’ve been planning this post since yesterday morning, since I was sitting in my therapist’s office talking about work and getting angry and then talking about whatever other stuff and getting angry.  My therapist pointed out what types of things seemed to be making me feel that way, that fiercely passionate way.  We talked about it, and she suggested that I write down other things that make me, for lack of a better phrase, fucking pissed off.  Those weren’t her exact words haha (although she does curse sometimes which I find incredibly cool).  I need to find patterns, figure myself out, all that stuff.  I thought about it at work yesterday, and I kept thinking about it when I got home and cooked dinner, and I was trying to type this out yesterday night while Andrew and I watched this documentary about flat-earthers because holy SHIT that made me angry.  Like, too angry to formulate a coherent post despite wanting desperately to write.

It’s a new day, though.  It’s a sunny, bright morning, not even 9am yet, and I’ve been awake and enthusiastic for nearly three hours already.  I got iced coffee even though it’s freezing, and came to my parents’ house to do laundry, which means I hung out with them for a while before they went to work and now I’m sitting with my doggo and I’m comfortable and yeah, good things.  These seem to be the perfect conditions to think about what makes me mad.

And I guess I’ll start by telling you how we got on the subject yesterday.  I was explaining to my therapist that my boss is sometimes really terrible to the older ladies I work with.  She treats them unfairly and unkindly, and it kills me because these women are not only the nicest people but they’re really really old.  Don’t be fucking mean to old people.  Don’t pick on them unnecessarily just because you want to feel powerful.  That is lower than low.  Imagine if someone was mean to your mom or grandma for no reason.  It is disgusting to me.

As you can see, I got angry on behalf of these women, my friends.  I got mad because someone was mean to someone else for no reason.  And there’s a common theme of things of that nature making me mad.  I don’t like when people are mean like that.  I don’t have tolerance for people who are bad or unfriendly.  People who are intentionally not good.  My therapist reflected back that injustice makes me mad.

We talked more while I was in that same fiercely passionate mode (I’d even call it violently passionate?  If only because of how it sounds?).  I mentioned conversations about abortion and it sparked that rage deep within me, because how DARE idiots have opinions on something that doesn’t involve their own body.  I mentioned people not understanding mental illness.  More specifically, how someone told me while I was in the middle of a panic attack that I just wanted attention.  Let me just tell you how much that pissed me off.  Because I DO like attention; that is an obvious and given thing.  But I don’t seek attention by struggling to breathe between the sobs that shake my entire body, because when I want attention I fuckin’ ASK for it like an ADULT.  I learned in a very life-changing way that that’s the best way to go about it.  So don’t you for one second think my PANIC ATTACK has anything to DO with that.

I hope what my therapist saw in me yesterday is coming through in these words here.  I have trouble standing up for myself and speaking up.  But when it comes to this shit, I have NO problem channeling the Incredible Hulk and raging out.  And then I revert back into my nicer demeanor.  And that’s that.

Right so let’s analyze.  Ignorance frustrates me.  Like the abortion issue and the flat-earthers and their ridiculous conspiracy.  You shouldn’t be allowed to be ignorant when it so clearly has a negative impact on others.  Along those lines, you shouldn’t be allowed to make someone feel less-than over an issue you don’t understand.  Particularly when you are LUCKY you don’t understand.  If you’ve never panicked yourself into a dark corner and melted into a black hole, don’t comment on it all.   Also.  It angers me when people act superior.  When they’re condescending.  When they make me feel stupid.  When they insult my intelligence, basically.  Because I’m not self-conscious about my body, really (points to me there), but my brain is something that I feel I have to protect.  Similarly, don’t be rude for no reason.  Have consideration.  Have manners, you should’ve learned how when you were fucking FIVE.  Be respectful or go to hell.  That’s why I hate customers at work; they are so incredibly disrespectful.  Therefore, I don’t consider them to be humans.  They are savages.  I think of them this way to protect myself.  Lastly, overall unfairness pisses me off.  Things should be fair.  End of story.

The general gist of that preceding paragraph, I think, is that large, philosophical issues make me tick.  And maybe that sounds mature or whatever (maybe?) but then these stupid, minor things send me flying off the handle too.  Like when the WiFi doesn’t connect.  Oh my GOD does that annoy me.  Just WORK, is that so DIFFICULT?  Or when things don’t work out how they should (because things never just work out, everything is constantly being messed up by life).  When people drive too slow?  Just gooooooo.  Go!!!  Time limits make me insane.  Because it’s so stressful when the clock is ticking and you’re waiting and you’re trying to be on time or get something done and it just isn’t fucking working and holy shit the anxiety.  Nine times out of ten it’s not my fault if I’m late for something.  So yeah.  Time makes me angry.

[update: apparently these all fall into the category of “lack of control”]

I really can’t think of anything else that I’ve gotten mad about lately.  What makes NORMAL people mad???  Comment with responses, because normalcy alludes me…

Anyway, my therapist and I continued talking.  I said that I sometimes use both sides of myself in combination.  I stand up for myself in an aggressive way but mask it with niceness so as to not cause too much trouble.  I also remember saying something along the lines of “I’m gonna take my emotional baggage and beat the assholes with it,” because I want desperately to protect others from pain.  I referenced how it’s always a shock when happy people commit suicide but that in reality, those people may seem super happy to others because they don’t want other people to feel the hurt they feel inside.  I called myself a sort of “Emotional Robin Hood.”  I wanna help those who’ve been hurt like Robin Hood helped the poor.  I want to steal undeserved confidence from insulters and give it to the insulted.  And do things like that.

Wow, so I dunno if writing has helped me process any of this, but I have therapy again tomorrow so we shall see, I guess 🙂

 

Sunny Sunday! Relaxing at Starbucks before work.

So I didn’t post quite as many things as I planned on posting yesterday, but ya know, there’ll be plenty of time to get all my writings out there. And that’s an exciting thought!

I wound up taking a nap yesterday, which was much-needed. I’m always tired. But lately I haven’t been sleeping well at night. My snoring boyfriend aside (seriously, he sounds like a fuckin foghorn and it’s the most obnoxious sound ever Lol), I just can’t stay asleep. I’ll pass out fairly easily around 9 (or earlier because I’m exhausted by 7) but then I’ll be awake again by 11:30 or 12. It’s infuriating. I just want to sleep.

But it’s morning now!! I’m pretty sure mornings are my favorite time of day. I always wake up enthusiastic and happy and motivated. Sure, sometimes it only lasts like an hour, but it’s something still. Mornings are just great because there’s so much potential still. Also, mornings mean coffee, which coincidentally symbolizes potential and possibility and renewed energy (to me, at least). And it tastes so damn good. Especially fancy coffees and lattes and stuff. Yeah, I’m “basic” or whatever the phrasing is. Haha.

I have like an hour before I have to leave for work at my pointless retail job (oh boy, there’s so much to unpack about that job and why I’m there still). Plenty of time to finish this post and then record stuff on my super detailed mood chart. I have a google spreadsheet where I keep track of everything I think I need to keep track of. I used to use this cool app called Daylio (I have soo ma y useful mental health apps!), but I have major ADHD issues so I tend to jump around in terms of how I record everything. But I definitely do record everything. I’m trying to find patterns and make sense of all of this mood shit. I’ve come a reeaaally long way so far. I know when I’m gonna get set off, how it feels to get set off, what’s gonna send me spiraling down and as opposed to rocketing up. I know the overall patterns and how long it usually is between episodes. I can think back and remember it all with slightly more clarity now. It feels cool to be able to do that. It feels more controlled (at least somewhat). I mean, it sucks to know SOMETHING BAD IS COMING and to know you can’t stop it regardless, but time to prepare for emergencies is always helpful. I guess what I’m saying is knowledge is power. Right?

For an incredibly long time, my bipolar disorder wasn’t in check. It’s a complicated issue. But I was basically up and down every three months for, oh god, years. Lemme take you back, though.

I was put on Abilify when I was in the hospital for the eating disorder. Stayed on that until my psychiatrist declared me “fine” at 19. So I was free and didn’t have to take meds and it was great. Buuuut then I went insane. I went back to the psychiatrist and his exact words were “are you on cocaine?” To which I said no. To which he said “then you’re bipolar.” I don’t remember that period too well. I don’t know how he just figured that out. But it sure as hell makes sense.

I mean of course it makes sense. I am bipolar. It’s definitely a thing I have.

So I went back on Abilify. And I stayed on it until a few months ago. And ya know, it really didn’t do much for me. Because as I said, I lost my fucking mind every three or so months for years.

Back in September 2018, so like a few months ago, I went on birth control for the first time. And now, I totally anticipated mental turmoil. But I didn’t anticipate how fucking bad I’d feel. I called my gynecologist and was like “hi yeah is this supposed to make me feel like I wanna die?” And she was like “uh no go to the ER” and I was like “I’d prefer not to” so I called my psychiatrist who didn’t answer so I went to the ER. Yeah.

It wound up being a good idea anyway. I mean I was in a rough state. It was fucking bad and I’m gonna get to descriptions of how that shit feels at some point soon, because I think it’s important to get that out there, but for now I don’t have the energy to put myself back there. Just picture BAD.

So then in October, I finally got on a new mood stabilizer (atypical antipsychotic, but you get me). I was still pretty messed up as I picked myself back up and cleaned myself off. But by November I was mostly fine. Normal. Or my version of normal. I wasn’t insanely depressed is what I’m saying.

I got into therapy (which I obviously should have been going to in the first place, but again, that’s another story). And luckily the therapist I found by happenstance is the COOLEST EVER, and is super helpful and smart and awesome.

She said something to me that I swear changed my whole life (not to be dramatic). I went in one day super upset and down because I was agitated and emotionally itchy and had that old “I wanna rip my face off” feeling happening yet again. I was like “it’s gonna happen again” and she told me that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN AGAIN. Or at least not every three months. I swear that had never occurred to me.

I mean I haven’t had a really major issue since the one Sept/Oct/Nov 2018. But (as she points out to me frequently) I’m “white knuckling” life, holding on with everything I’ve got because I’m so scared of losing it again.

I have a new psychiatrist now. And she added something for anxiety (an anticonvulsant med actually). I’ve only seen her once so far but I’m still feeling relatively okay?? I think??? I mean I’m up and down throughout the day WAY more than a fucking regular person, and it fucking sucks a lot, but if that’s as bad as it’s gonna take I can handle it???

Like. I’m trying. I take my meds, I record my moods, I reach out when I need to, I take supplements that are supposed to help anxiety, I’m open about my issues… I mean yeah maybe I could meditate more or whatever. Gotta give that a wholehearted shot eventually. But I mean. I’m trying here.

Alrightyyyyy I think that’s enough of an update for now. I really want post some real WRITING later, so when I get home from work I probably will.

If you’re still reading this, I’m sending you hugs and love and thanks. And I hope you have a great Sunday 🙂

Starting at the beginning, I guess?

My first major mental health thing (aside from feeling vaguely “off” and emotionally “different” at the age of ten or eleven) was the eating disorder I developed in high school. That disorder was a tremendously strong force in my life for like, a reaaaallly long time. It was my disappearing act, resulting from crippling depression and anxiety, where I shriveled into a shell of who I once was and lost all sense of how to relate to my body, my self, and my loved ones. It was crying in what felt like every bathroom stall of my school as I hid from anyone who might figure out what I was doing, what I was being made to do, for fear that they might try to intervene. Because if they did, I would just EXPLODE, so I had to stay away. It was throwing myself into my schoolwork, distracting myself with the drive to get straight As and 100s and be perfect so I could graduate and go to a good college and get a good job and be successful and not fail out of life itself because how fucking shitty would I feel if that happened, I already felt shitty enough! The eating disorder was a lot of things. None of them particularlyyy good.

To speak in a way that isn’t full of words that are me just trying to be a fancy writer… I fucking starved myself for three years. In ninth grade, at fourteen years old, I met Depression. My friends didn’t like me anymore, I was lonely and sad, I was stressed out with school, and I was a teenager so like, my relationship with my dad was shit and it caused me a great deal of stress. I stopped eating because I wasn’t hungry. I was anxious and panicky and sad. And furthermore, I was consumed with schoolwork and advanced classes, and the pressure was crushing me. I worked through lunch instead of eating because I thought it’d alleviate some of the ever-present dread, maybe chase away the dark cloud looming above my head or the sense of impending doom. It didn’t, but I wouldn’t eat anyway. Then, weirdly, I was compelled to skip breakfast too. So I skipped breakfast too. And then I was told by some omnipotent presence to get on the scale. So I got on the scale. And thus began the competition I had with myself to make the number I saw get lower and lower and lower. Cue body image problems. Enter physical issues. Bring on the bitter, biting, painful cold that settled in my bones and didn’t leave me the fuck aloneeeeeee.

No one really noticed, or so I assumed, but if they did notice, they left me to it until I was too far gone. By the middle of eleventh grade I desperately wanted to stop. I had realized there was a word for what I was doing, a name for this THING eating me from the inside out, but I didn’t say it. I didn’t write it. I tried not to think it. Because with the awareness that this was anorexia was the feeling inside of me that I was consciously doing wrong. And I wasn’t a bad kid. I was and always had been a good girl. I wasn’t wrong, I wasn’t bad, I couldn’t HELP IT, ughhhhhh.

I was thrown into the hospital in an eating disorders program in April that year. I say “thrown,” but I guess it was my choice? I was brought to this appointment as this office far away from where I lived, and I mean, I had a feeling it was about this eating issue thing of mine. And my stomach went sour when I realized that feeling was right. But the doctor who talked to me and examined me was so nice. I trusted her immediately. And I mean, I wanted to get better. So I was honest with her, said the dreaded word anorexia, and even more said that that was what I had, that anorexic was what I was.

“Laura is very mature,” the doctor told the nutritionist when she walked in. “Came right out and told me she’s anorexic.”

I beamed with pride, but the happiness only lasted briefly, because now we had to “talk about options.” Oh, god. Oh god oh god oh god. “Because you can’t stay sick forever. You can’t stay stuck in this forever. I think you know that, Laura.” Ughhhh, I diddddd, but I was scareddddd.

“You can leave here today. And you’d have to come back in two weeks for an appointment. And during those two weeks, you’d have to try, really try, to eat and gain weight.” The words she spoke hit me like a ton of bricks. “But patients I send home never do as well, and every time I let someone go home, I regret it. I’m afraid that…” she shifted in her chair and leaned towards me. “I’m afraid that if I let you walk out of this office today, you won’t walk back in.”

The subtext of that being, of course, that I was going to drop dead. I knew that was what she meant. I struggled to breathe, I struggled to see straight without dark clouds spotting my vision, I had no energy, my body hurt, I was cold, emaciated, I was going to die.

“Or,” she paused to look at me, “you can stay here. We’ll admit you to the hospital.”

Somehow, as this brilliant doctor and I were talking, the decision was made that I’d stay. She was extra brilliant because she somehow made sixteen-year-old me believe that I had made the decision. Which was important because it made me work extra hard over the coming months in the hospital and the program. It was what I had decided I wanted to do, wasn’t it? I mean, it truly was what I wanted. But goddammit, eating??? Gaining weight??? That shit was difficult. Almost as difficult as processing the emotional shit and talking about my secrets and opening up about my disorder whileeee eating and gaining weight.

I made friends in the hospital that helped me back into my skin and reminded me who I was as a person. My friends back at school (the ones I’d made and grown close to over the prior three years, the ones who came to love me even though I was a miserable, starving mess) were so incredibly supportive. My teachers were incredible, I can’t understate how helpful they were. My family I can’t even begin to describe. And like, holy shit, just feeling such extreme love after having felt the exact opposite for so long…it was enough to catapult me into recovered life.

Not that the “road to recovery” was all skipping through fields of flowers. I gained 50 pounds, yeah, but uhhhhhh that didn’t mean shit? I mean, I gained higher comprehension and understanding and became more self-aware and able to process shit. But I still felt like the sick me. Even though I looked like a “healthy” me. *Identity crisis intensifies*

I held it together as best as I could. I never really had a major relapse and never wound up back in the hospital, but it was a wild ride from there to here.

I’m realizing now I’ve never thought extensively about my actual recovery. I know how I transformed in the actual hospital, and in the very early stages of recovery. But I’ve never truly thought about being in college and grappling with both eating disordered thoughts and the determination to kick the shit out of those thoughts.  Put a pin in this, that’s a blog post for later.

Long story short (not really), I’m 27 and the eating disorder is an issue anymore. I’m thankful and lucky and proud. So yay 🙂

Some people don’t believe in “full recovery,” but I mean, I don’t have an eating disorder anymore, so I think it’s a thing I believe in. I totally get that people are talking about the ongoing process of recovering. And I understand that. I dunno, maybe it’s different for everyone.

It’s also currently eating disorder awareness week, and I posted about it on facebook, so I’m gonna post here what I posted there. Just for funsies, Lol.

I usually like to tie posts and writing up in a nice bow to end things, but my brain isn’t brain-ing right now. So no super-great ending. I just hope you enjoyed my ranting here, internet 🙂