Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I have been absent for a long time. 

It's funny, the way you don't realize the things you're into until you're knee-deep, struggling to lift your legs out of something like quicksand. I am probably neck-deep, at the moment.

I have realized that I am struggling with some of the worst depression that I've ever faced in my life, and I have been for some time - since shortly after I arrived in Utah. It's that thing you feel when you're walking alone at night and you turn behind you to make sure nobody is there, following you. It's looking at the mirror as you get ready for the day and then crying on floor because you don't recognize yourself and you're disconnected from this reflection, forgetting that they are a person who has a family that loves them and friends that miss them - and that that person is you. It's fatigue and hopelessness and apathy and isolation and things that you cannot pull yourself out of, no matter how hard you try. 

That's the thing about depression - it takes you away from yourself. It insists that all of the things that you think about and that you hope for don't matter, and that it's silly to think that you can change. It tells you that you don't deserve to have good things happen or wonderful and caring relationships in your life - that you need to tuck yourself away and distance yourself so you won't be a burden to others. It robs you of the things that bring you joy, and provide meaning and passion. And it terrifies me personally because there is so much of my life that I feel like I cannot remember. It's like I wasn't even there for it at all, and I have to live it through the stories and memories of those that were with me. 

I have a few friends and family members who know what I try to face everyday, and I am so grateful for them in my life. I also have people who don't know, and show up unexpectedly and turn out to be answers to questions that I never asked out loud. I believe the force behind them is intentional, and that they're following some sort of prompting, even if they don't realize it. I know that each time I decide to be brave and honest with someone, I receive similar stories in return. Maybe it doesn't always mirror my own, but it's incredible the sort of power that vulnerability has given us to turn away darkness. 
And with each person that I confide in and that confides in me, I realize how freeing it is to say that we're not doing ok. Putting it all out there - the dark and scary things that would cause others to turn from you - has brought me closer to people. It helps me to forget about myself - to remember that we are all fighting something every day. Every day. More often than not, they're things that others cannot see, and because of this, we turn inwards and think as though we're the only one feeling the things that we do. 

Jamie Tworkowski's book came out today. It was sitting by my front door when I came home from work, and I didn't know entirely what it was about before I ordered it, but I saw it and it felt important. I finished it in about two hours. Over and over again, Jamie stresses the fact that our stories do matter, and that we need other people. This has never been more clear to me.

I'm seeking help. It's taking a bit longer than expected, but I'm on my way. And wherever you are on your journey, I hope you're on your way to getting where you need to be.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I'm not very good at being an adult. Self-care is something I've really embraced the last few years, especially as I have come to terms with my mental health issues and have tried to live alongside them instead of letting them rule me. But lately, I've started wondering if I was just using that as an excuse to straight-up indulge myself. An entire bag of pita chips for dinner? Treat yo self. Staying up late one night to binge watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Treat yo self. Going to dinner and a movie when your credit card is about maxed out? Treat YO SELF.

This isn't to say that self-care is useless, but it's just that I've been going about it all wrong. To the casual onlooker, my eating habits would seem that of an unchaperoned child at a birthday party. I count "not laying on my mattress for 5 hours before I go to bed" as my current exercise routine. I reason that as long as I'm not sobbing somewhere in a grassy field at 10:43 at night after having an anxiety attack, I'm doing alright for myself. The worst part of it all is that these things that are supposed to make me feel better aren't really making a difference at all. I feel the same.

If anything, I feel better in that moment when, after a stressful and long day's work. I'm thinking that I'm going to do something for me "for a change." And that moment is brief y'all - like the time that we've had internet vs. the amount of time that this planet has sustained life, brief.

I'm realizing that some things I would qualify as "self-care" can really be unhealthy practices that I perpetuate - things that help me believe that I'm doing the right thing for myself. It's hard to be responsible all the time - sometimes I just want to let loose and forget about my troubles.
I'm starting to understand that a lot of self-care is what we should do to help ourselves in the long run, rather than what you want to do in that moment to make yourself happy. It means eating a freaking vegetable more that once a week, it means dragging your sorry butt out of bed to go for a walk in the out-of-doors every once in a while, it means being fiscally responsible and going to bed at a decent hour and being honest and brave when you'd rather hide and everything else.

And yeah baby-child, Tom and Donna would want you to take joy in ways that are special and specific to you. But it's also important to remember to take care of yourself as a human who has a body and mind, because it's the only one you get (unless reincarnation floats your boat). You've gotta be judicious about how you balance this, and I know it's difficult sometimes, but this sort of diligence is what might make all the difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I wanted to write about something very dear to my heart. 
About two weeks ago, the organization Invisible Children announced that they are shutting down operations from their location in San Diego and instead, will turn things over to the leaders that they have in central Africa in order for those programs to continue. There will still be a small group in Washington D.C. that will work with policymakers there.

It's not the end of Invisible Children and the work that they are doing, but it's the end of everything that I knew. For those of you have been reading for a while or know me know of my involvement with IC, so of course when I heard this, I was really sad. I wasn't upset, because I understand why they're doing it. 

The point of much of what IC did in the states was to help spread awareness - the campaigns, the tours/screenings, the events, etc. We can all agree that #KONY2012 was a game changer. It became the most viral video of all time with over 100 million views in just under a week's time. I remember those days. Our victories felt so much bigger and grander than anything that we had accomplished. But in #KONY2012, they accomplished what they had intended to do: to make Joseph Kony known internationally for his war crimes. 
It only makes sense then that not much could be done after #KONY2012 in terms of awareness. There really was no need for tours and screenings anymore. People knew, but they were now faced with a decision: do they act upon this knowledge and care enough to do something about it? 

People showed that they did care enough, and consequently, U.S. troops were sent to Uganda to track down and find Joseph Kony. (As far as I know, they are still there.) 

While I agree with and support their choices, my heart feels so heavy. IC has been a part of my life for such a long time, and so many opportunities came along because of the movement. I came to know people from around the world. I was able to go to two of their Fourth Estate summits. With the club that Brianne and I started, we were able to raise over a thousand dollars in the poor college town of Rexburg for one of their campaigns. I was able to be apart of a meeting with one of our state senators to talk about why these issues mattered. I learned what it means to have empathy and to be a global citizen. I realized that I could be a leader, that I could do terrifying things, and that I could be a catalyst for positive change. IC did that and so much more for millions of people across the world.

The great thing about IC is that they encouraged creativity and advocacy and passion. They gave you the understanding and the resources to make effective changes in whatever community you lived in, no matter where you were or what it was. I will never get to be apart of anything like this again, but there will never be enough thanks in my heart for the time that I was able to be a member of the IC community. It was a beautiful time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's been a while since I posted. It's been a rather stressful time, with a lot of changes happening around the same time, so I didn't have time or energy to write. Among those changes were the fact that I finished my final college class (turns out that I was 3 credits short after I walked at graduation, so I had to take something online. It was awful.) and now I am finally a graduate; moving because my landlady was getting married; and work was busy with the holidays. Things have settled down now and I'm feeling pretty good.

Here are some pictures of my room now. It's been a great opportunity to donate/throw things away and feel that cleansing feeling. Perfect for the new year, right? I've been really interested in the minimalist movement the last few months, and I'd like to implement some of those ideas. It makes a lot of sense and it can definitely be taken to an extreme, but there are so many benefits that people have found when they embraced this lifestyle. I think it can be a positive thing in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I wish living with anxiety and depression could be easily explained, but it's not. All I can say is that the up and down rollercoasting (often, within hours) is exhausting. People more intelligent than I am have come up with clever metaphors and examples, but at the end of the day - they're just that - ideas that we use to attempt to compare an idea to something familiar. The dragging-yourself-out-of-bed difficulty of it all is lost in the translation.

But on those days when you are free and hope finds a way to radiate itself like sunshine through your lifestream, it feels like the moment before you open the front door, your friend waiting outside in the car to take you somewhere. Like hearing your favorite song playing in the grocery store as you're in the bread aisle. It feels like those golden hours peeking over the mountain and you're 10 years old, running around in cutoff shorts and tennis shoes with a lace that came undone. Like being on the swings pumping higher and higher before you decide to leap off, flying in the air, if only for a moment.  It feels like laughing so much that you cannot see, and later when you go to tell someone, you cannot even start the story without giggling. It feels like you had to be there. Like getting into the car and deciding to go somewhere without planning anything in advance. It feels like a day where you lived your life instead of thinking about it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

        It should be said that I am a strange mixture of incredibly shy and obnoxiously talkative. I have yet to figure out how I can be both, or contain two very different personalities, but here I am. Call me a social anomaly. My theory is that because I use humor to mask my (often) crippling social anxiety, many people in my life do not know that these are issues I struggle with. Humor is the only way out, from my standpoint.

       It's not difficult to guess, then, that I don't "put myself out there" very often. I am far too concerned with the worst outcome could be, convinced that the worst is exactly what will happen. And then I'll spontaneously combust or the world will stop turning. Or something.
      The first time I tried putting myself out there is, funny enough, also the most embarrassing event in my life. It happened when I was a junior in college. Maybe I was feeling old and mature in all of my 21-year-old glory, or maybe I was tired of watching all of my friends get engaged around me. Who could know what motivated me this particular time, but it was six weeks in the making, all unraveled in the vulnerability of a single minute. 


I have changed the name of the ignorant to protect myself, in my account of what seemed to be a harmless crush. It started because Justin was a nice guy—pretty cute, and more importantly, he was smart. Captivated and intrigued, I was drawn to his intellect the way an insect is drawn to a fluorescent light. 
Because I saw him every day in my classes, I worked to create different schemes, different reasons for us to talk to one another. As I sat in my desk each day and packed up my books, my stomach churned and my mind raced, trying to think of something to say before Justin left for the day. I asked him what teacher I should take for Advanced Research next semester, even though I had already planned out my schedule. I lagged behind after class so we could talk about the technology proposed in Jurassic Park, and how probable it was. I sat through and absolutely hated every bizarre minute of Being John Malkovich, just because Justin recommended it. 
       Though these predetermined situations provided fuel for my social cannon, I was upset; I had betrayed myself so I could have a three minute conversation with the guy. But even in my state of regret, I was smitten.
It made me happy, talking to him, and I realized that I wanted to take things to the next level. I thought Justin was worth it, so I made the plan. Having discussed Tolkien in the past, my friends and I decided to have a movie night where we would watch Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition, and I would invite him to watch with us. It seemed like a perfect way to take advantage of our common interests—an innocuous way to immerse him into my world. 
It was a beautiful friday in early June when I built up enough courage to make a move. After class, I tagged along with him as we walked down the hall. Using the recently released Hobbit movie as an introduction, I rambled on as we turned the corner, completely unaware of the words coming out of my mouth; my sporadic heartbeat made me all too conscious of the act I was about to perform.
“So anyways,” I began, feeling as if I was plunging into a deep body of water. “My friends and I are watching Lord of the Rings tonight and I was wondering if you wanted to come?” There. It was out, finally. I could only wait.
An odd expression came over Justin’s face, one that slowly turned into a curious smile. Was it surprise? Surely by now he had to know that I liked him. Was it...embarrassment? It was only a movie with my friends. Completely impersonal, not even a date—we didn’t even have to sit on the same couch. 
“I’m married,” he answered, grinning awkwardly. 
I was paralyzed with shock. Looking at nothing in particular, I stared off in the distance as my mind flew through the past six weeks, searching for a clue, any indication that would help me realize my mistake. Was there ever talk of a wife? Not that I could remember. How could I have missed his wedding ring—I would have checked, right? I was 21, going to a Mormon private college. Being single felt like you had not received your invitation to some exclusive club. We were of a rare breed. And more importantly, you always knew to look for a ring. 
       It all came to a halt as I stood there in the midst of students heading to their next class. There was nothing, nothing I could think of.
Realizing that I needed to respond, I tried to brush it off. 
“Oh, you are?” I asked truthfully, quickly glancing at his left hand. I was right—there was no ring. “It’s just, you seemed cool...” I trailed off, unsure of what to say, where to go from there. 
“Yeah, I keep that part of my life private. I’m flattered though,” he started, obviously trying to appease my embarrassment. 
“Yeah,” I remarked. Still staring off with eyes wide with panic, my hand brushed the back of my neck. I knew I had to get out fast. “Well, I gotta go,” I said in falsely cheery demeanor, and I immediately turned to head down the stairs. 
“Oh...kay...” I heard him say as I walked away, understandably confused. 
I walked outside in a daze, my eyes wincing as the sun shone bright. Grabbing the straps of my backpack, I held on tight as I walked, uncertain of what to do next. I could hardly think, but I pulled out my phone and called my best friend, Brianne. In a somewhat secluded cement corner on campus, I tried to bury myself into the wall—his rejection, a metaphorical dunce cap hanging over my head.
I couldn't contain the sobs as I explained the situation to her. People walked by, some looking on with intrigue, and others uncomfortably trying to ignore this weeping girl. Brianne offered kind and supportive words, but they weren’t enough. As I stood there, absolutely mortified, it seemed like there was no possible way to recover from what I had done. I wanted nothing more than for gravity to stop working, so I would fly off the face of the planet.
Though, in my head, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I still felt like a homewrecker. Vacillating between anger and guilt, I cried, overcome with a shame that should not have been mine to take on.
“It’s his fault!” My friends cried. “He should have known what was going on. I mean, what kind of married guy has a friendship like that with a single girl?” 
I didn’t care. Or I cared too much. But I figured that we were either both at fault, or neither were, and as upset as I was, I didn’t want to place blame.
      This event haunted me all weekend. Every minute was flooded with all of those little moments that we had shared—the little moments that had brought me such joy only days earlier. Those two days were spent trying to figure out what to do. Monday would come, and I would have to see Justin again. And the day after that. And every miserable day after that for the next seven weeks until the semester ended.
On monday, I intentionally arrived to class a few minutes late, quietly slipping into my assigned seat next to his. (Of course, this was the one class in my entire college career that had assigned seating.) Focusing my attention on the board in front of us, I took notes with a diligence that my teacher had never seen in me before. 
After an excruciating hour, I packed up my things, finally facing him. Apologies tumbled out, one after another, as we walked down that same hall. Justin was kind and understanding about the whole matter, but all of the kindness in the world couldn’t carry the embarrassment resting on my shoulders. I never wanted to see Justin again, but here I was, in the same spot as the friday before, asking him, "Can we just be friends?" 

        I had no intention of being friends.