Cannonball.

I’m holding myself accountable to keep writing. Especially when my last post was about how I want to write my way out of this slump I’ve been in and then I go a week without writing at all. So we’re off to a great start.

I lifted today for the first time in awhile!! I made it to the gym on Monday morning and I was so exhausted and still somewhat depressed that I just did some cardio, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Today I was just feeling it. The temperature finally dropped a bit, and this morning it was 75 so my dog and I went for a two mile power walk. It was great. We almost kept going for another mile but people were beginning to take advantage of the cooler weather and do yard work, and the fresh cut grass smell was really hitting me hard. I cleaned up the kitchen, did some dishes, ate lunch, lounged around for a bit, and then finally got restless enough to go hit the gym.

I am weak AF. Again. But it’s okay! I’ll get it back. It’s not like it’s permanently gone. My body is naturally really athletic so the nice thing is that if I’m just consistent then I can build strength pretty quickly. Plus it just feels so goooood.

I ended with abs and I literally just laid on my mat for a good two minutes before I got up, and the biggest smile was on my face. I love working out. I love lifting.

I’ve been at a crossroads lately at work. Another new opportunity presented itself to me.

I haven’t even been with this company for a year yet. I’m almost there, I started on August 1st.

On March 5th, I moved into my current role that’s a pretty boring desk job that I’m already kind of over.

And recently I was offered yet another move within the company.

It scared me. When I’m mentally in a good place, I love constant change. It’s thrilling to me. I lean into it and just see where it takes me. That’s how I wound up in Saint Louis. Something was calling me to this city and instead of questioning it, I just went for it.

But I haven’t been in the best mental space lately. So this new opportunity, this new change, scared the shit out of me. I’m terrified of disappointing people. This is something I’ve never done before, what if I’m not good at it?

I turned it down at first, and about a week later I realized that was a mistake. Lucky for me, the offer was made by a woman who fully understands that sometimes you just need a little more time to think.

I’m going for it. Once again, this newness is calling to me. There’s something in this decision that I honestly feel like I am supposed to do. Plus there’s a slight pay bump, which is always nice.

I think deep down, we always know what is right for us and what isn’t. The trick is just not letting other people or our own fears and insecurities get in the way of that.

On top of all of this, I’ve spent the majority of my previous weekends doing nothing. I got an offer to go out tonight with some friends, and I’m going. It’ll be fun. I need some fun in my life.

Lean into the new. Forget wading into the pool from the steps, just do a motherfucking cannonball in the deep end.

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Day One.

So. I’ve mentioned that this year has not been the best for me. I’ve been slowly coming out of a several month long depressive episode and I’m rather overwhelmed by the amount of damage control that I now have in front of me. So I’m going to try and make it fun.

Consider this my own personal Find Your Happy Challenge. I’ll be documenting how it’s going, things I’m doing, etc. in a series of posts. I haven’t decided how often I’m going to hold myself accountable to write, but I want to put out at least a couple of posts a week. This isn’t a self-help series. I’m not going to be telling you how to get your shit back together if it recently all went to hell, I’m just going to be talking about things that I’m personally doing to get my personal shit together, and if something I share strikes a chord with you, then fantastic.

I’ve been drinking WAY too much. And I don’t mean partying, I mean drinking at home by myself. Over the past four weeks, I’ve spent about five days per week drinking. That’s way too much. For my own personal self-challenge, I’m not going to drink alone. Maybe for the rest of the summer, I’m not sure. Social drinks are fine, but no more getting drunk on my couch by myself. And yes, drinking with my dog is still drinking alone, I’m not using that loophole.

I’m going to push myself to go to the gym regularly, take care of my skin, and even cook more, so you guys may get some recipes/cooking epic fails out of this as well.

For today, I’m off to Schnucks to buy groceries for the week, and then I’ll probably clean the house a bit and head to the gym this evening. My body is the thing I’m most disappointed in. I worked my ass off in 2017 to drop about 40 pounds and I was in incredible shape at the end of last summer. While I’ve only gained a little, I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass and my body looks very different. I miss lifting heavy, and I’m going to get that back this summer for sure.

For now, I’ll end this with the song that I’ll have on repeat all day, Birthday by All Time Low.

Getting it back.

I haven’t been in the best place over the past few months. The decline was so slow that I didn’t even notice it until a couple of weeks ago when I almost couldn’t get out of bed to go to work. That was when I began to look around at what had been happening and realized that I needed to start actively trying to get out of it. These moods don’t just vanish and everything is okay. I always have to fight my way out of them.

It started so innocently. The things that I began to neglect were things that average, non-depressed people do regularly, but are really out of character for me. I stopped shaving my legs twice a week, which is a totally normal thing to do. Who shaves twice a week? I do. I stopped doing my at home pedicure routine. I stopped cleaning up after myself. My kitchen counter began to accumulate pantry items that should just be put away but instead I left out.

Then I stopped vacuuming. Stopped cleaning. Stopped brushing my dog. Stopped going to the gym. Stopped doing laundry.

I finally started to realize it when I was getting ready for work on a Monday and I had nothing to wear. Everything was dirty. I always do laundry on the weekends, and that hadn’t happened for a couple of weeks. Then while I was doing my makeup I noticed that my skin wasn’t looking too great, which was because I had stopped my nightly skin-care regimen. I was just wiping my makeup off with a wipe, and that’s nowhere near enough care for my skin.

I wasn’t taking my vitamins, I was making easy food for dinner that had no nutritional value whatsoever, and I was feeling like total crap.

I’m finally starting to get it back. I went to start deep cleaning my house this morning and (of course) I was basically out of all of my cleaning supplies. I vaguely remember trying to clean one weekend and using that as an excuse to not do it. I just made a massive Target run and I am now fully equipped to make this place spotless again.

Take care of yourself. It makes such a difference. I’m still not fully mentally okay but having a clean place and clean clothes, and eating good food helps. I’m hoping to get back in the gym tomorrow for the first time in over a month, and while I’m dreading how sore I’m going to be, I know it will be worth it in the long run.

I’m now going to spend the rest of my Sunday afternoon blasting Pray for the Wicked and cleaning this place from top to bottom.

 

 

Here’s some existential dread to go with your Monday morning.

          The longest relationship I’ve ever been in has been with my depression. Which pisses me off because I want to scream from the rooftops that it gets better and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for everybody else, but here I am, lying in bed at 6:30 am, staring at the ceiling, trying to psych myself up for another day of the mundane. The older I get, the more my depression feels like a chronic illness than a curable disease.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal. I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. I think I might have finally learned to deal with it, and I can go for periods where it’s not an issue at all, but then one morning I’ll wake up and feel exhausted despite just sleeping for a solid 8 hours. My whole body feels heavy. When I notice that I feel detached from my body, then I realize what’s happening.

            Oh hey. I was wondering if you were going to show up again.

            It’s partially situational. When I start to lose a firm grip on my life, that lack of purpose triggers my depression to stick its head out and greet me.

            I’m experiencing a lot of existential dread lately. A lot of “What the fuck is the point?” type of thinking. Again, not suicidal, just nihilistic. Which isn’t me at all. I’m the glowing optimist that proclaims that everything happens for a reason and everyone has a purpose. But when I feel detached from myself, I lose that thinking. It feels more like I’m on autopilot and have no real control over my life. I fall down a rabbit hole filled with sleeping entire days that I don’t have to be at work and drinking a lot, because nothing matters and we’re all going to die someday anyway.

            The drinking tipped me off that I was really starting to slide back down again. I disregard my weekend drinking when I’m being social and having fun, but drinking during the week is usually a sign that I need to administer some ~self-care~.

            I still have yet to learn what self-care is for me. It sure as hell isn’t bubble baths and yoga retreats. Usually it’s going for a walk with my dog, blasting stupid happy music, trying to get myself to feel literally anything other than the void of darkness that is creeping into my mind.

            It’s exhausting to fight it back into submission. I’ve been doing this pretty much my entire life, and it is fucking exhausting. But the good days are finally more common than the bad, and what happens on those good days is 100% worth sticking around for.

            See, there’s that glowing optimist making an appearance again. I’m not totally dead inside.

            Not yet, at least.

Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why.

TW: Discussion of suicide, self-harm, rape, and mental illness.

I also relate a lot of it to my own personal experiences, so if you’re not familiar with my story, you’re about to be.

Aaand, spoiler alert for the show, I guess. Although I’m not sure why you’re reading this if you haven’t watched it yet.

I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why. Well, actually about twenty minutes ago, but it took me ten minutes to lower my heart rate from the brutal break down I had during the suicide scene.  A few days ago, I had firmly decided I wouldn’t touch this show.  I wouldn’t watch it. I didn’t want to wind up hyperventilating while sobbing hysterically during the rape and suicide scenes, like I knew I absolutely would (and I did).  Yet, all I’ve heard and read about lately has been this controversy. There’s a pretty clear split: people either love it or hate it.  I’m one of those people that likes to form my own opinion, especially when it comes to things that everyone is talking about, so I finally took a deep breath and began cautiously watching this show.

I have a lot of things I want to discuss in relation to this show, and I apologize if I go off on rants or tangents.  I’ll try to make my points eventually.

13 Reasons Why makes me so frustrated that I want to scream.  It’s decently close to really nailing what it’s trying to do, but the errors it makes in telling a story about suicide ruin the entire thing, even the good stuff.

As a writer, and someone who appreciates the art of storytelling, I think the mechanism it uses is really interesting.  Not necessarily something new, but still interesting. The tapes. Each episode is a different side of a tape, and through flashbacks and voiceovers, the story is told.  It’s intriguing.  It keeps the audience interested.  Who’s on the next tape? What did they do?

This entire concept is ruined by the fact that each tape is supposedly a reason why Hannah killed herself.  It’s an artistically detailed suicide note blaming those responsible for killing herself and overlooking the real culprit: mental fucking illness.

It’s 2017, so I hate that I have to state this, but mental illness is serious.  It can kill you. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  Approximately 121 suicides occur every day, with 25 attempts for every success. Think about that. This is real. While other diseases weaken your immune system and wind up killing you with pneumonia or organ failure, mental illness kills you with suicide.  It’s the fucker that gets you to do the dirty work.

There’s a movement to start saying “died by suicide” instead of “committed suicide” because “committed suicide” makes it sound like it was an active, coherent choice.  “Oh, I think I’ll die today.”  People who have never been in that place call it selfish.  Weak.  Inconsiderate to your friends and family.  But until you’ve been stuck at the bottom of the rabbit hole for months or years, don’t try to tell me it’s a choice. It’s the glowing exit sign out of the dark hell your mind has been trapped in.  It’s the warm sense of relief that in just a few minutes, all of your suffering will finally be over.  It’s warped perception, because your mind doesn’t go there until shit is really bad. It’s bullshit. And to this day, I will still scream from the rooftops that it does in fact get better if you just stick around to find out.  Like Hannah, I needed someone to pick up on the fact that I wasn’t okay.  And luckily for me, someone did. That didn’t magically fix my issues, but it bought me a little more time to at least get my head above water.  However, I didn’t attempt to get someone’s attention or to get back at anyone.  It doesn’t work that way.

It’s not a place you get to just because people are shitty to you.  People being shitty to you amplifies already existing issues.  Bullying does not cause suicide.  Bullying can amplify the symptoms of pre-existing mental illness, and in severe cases, that can lead to suicide.  There’s a difference here.

Another massive issue I have: this show basically walks you through a successful suicide step by step with visual aids.  If it’s something a viewer is considering, lo and behold! A perfectly good way to do it.  You can tell the story of suicide without a step-by-step visual.  I have a lot of issues with exploiting trauma for views, and that’s what the suicide and rape scenes felt like to me.  Showing a violent rape doesn’t help the story in any way.  You can get the point of what happened across without fully depicting it.

The suicide scene fucked me up. My attempt was basically the same method, only I didn’t bother with the tub, and I only had enough time to do one arm before someone was banging on my apartment door.  While watching, I was hysterical and seriously considered fast-forwarding through it, but instead I just closed my eyes and tried to not pass out from hyperventilating.  Even though I knew how the scene ended, I kept wishing someone would knock on the door like they had for me.

One thing I really liked about this show is that it showed the aftermath of suicide.  The people left in its wake.  The scenes with Hannah’s mother almost always had me tearing up.  Her daughter is dead.  She’s trying to cope and figure out why.  I feel like Kate Walsh nailed this.  The desperation, the grief, all while trying to hold her life together and barely doing so.  The only unbelievable moment was when she found Hannah’s body, and her first reaction was a very quiet, almost nonchalant, “oh no,” like she left her phone in the car.  After that, the shock built and it became more believable, and I once again lost my shit over imagining my mother finding my body.

Early on, I was so annoyed by Hannah.  Her tone in the first few tapes is superior, like she’s happy to finally get her revenge on these people. But as the show continued to develop, and her condition begins to get more and more unstable, I began to see myself in her.  Which is interesting, because I know a few people that have the opposite opinion: that as she becomes more unstable, they find her more annoying.

As Hannah becomes more unstable, she begins to lash out more. She pushes people away while secretly hoping they’ll run back, and then is disappointed when they don’t.  She screams at Clay and tells him to leave, when she just wants him to understand that she’s been through some serious shit with dudes and has trust issues.  People cut her out because she’s a lot to deal with, and she winds up alone and isolated and contemplating suicide.

I actually overheard someone talking about the show today and they mentioned how crazy she was.  Boy, did that strike a chord with me.

The general public seems to be way more understanding with internalizing disorders, because to some degree, almost everyone has experienced some type of depression or anxiety, and they can easily wrap their head around the concept of, “Okay it’s like that day you were really in a funk but every day for months or years on end.”   People who don’t suffer from Major Depressive Disorder or an anxiety spectrum disorder can sort of understand that and try to empathize.

But as soon as symptoms become external, it’s a completely different situation. People can’t wrap their head around irrational thoughts or saying one thing and meaning the exact opposite. That makes no sense in their minds that are fully capable of rational thought. They don’t understand what it’s like for your mind to jump to conclusions so fast that you wind up with a version of reality that defies all logic. They don’t understand how crippling paranoia can be.  They just see you, yelling about something that doesn’t even make sense.  And all of a sudden, you’re difficult. Or a drama queen. Or overreacting.  Or crazy.  Or psycho. Insane. Too much to handle. The list goes on and on.  For some reason, people don’t want to recognize that those people need help too.

I’m not part of the intended audience. I realize that. Trauma survivors are not the intended audience.  But we still have to watch to see if they’re telling our stories correctly, and when they don’t, we have to call them out.  Because our stories matter.  Our stories help eliminate stigma and assure others who are struggling that they are not alone, and it’s okay to ask for help.  Our stories of rape and suicide and abuse deserve to be told correctly.

So I will end by restating my main point that prompted this giant rant.  The parts that 13 Reasons Why gets right are completely ruined by the overarching theme of the story: that thirteen people caused a girl to take her life.  I’m sorry, but that’s just total bullshit.

If you have thoughts of self-harm, seek professional help or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you have experienced sexual assault, call RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).