Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fresh Ambition

        Occasionally I forget who I am. I get lost in the fog of the every day, and I know that something is missing, but I don't have the energy to change it.
        This is my life. But it shouldn't be.

        Last week I went to a poetry reading at a cafe. A lot of it was open mic or slam, with one featured poet. There were a lot of different styles, but they all shared the characteristic of being poems that were either intended for the stage, or paper poems made performable. This was a huge paradigm shift.

        I'm used to poetry being written for the page and the mind. Speaking, if anything, only seems to break it. As if the words formed in the mind are more beautiful than those heard. And so I never understood the purpose of reading poetry. And maybe that's the key.

         Reading poetry adds little. Performing poetry is just that, a performance art. I was never aware of the performance piece before. No one ever showed me. I'd never seen a case where poetry, by being read, was brought any more to life than it was on the page.

        But now I am, and I want to scream. I want to make my words flow somehow, despite my stutter, and I think that with practice it is certainly possible; I managed to act a memorized piece with reasonable fluency, so why not something with greater rhythm for my voice to ride along with? I want my verse to sing, to shout. I am tired of it living only in my notebooks and in the word dobs currently multiplying on my laptop.

        This is me, fighting. This is me remembering who I am and what I must do. To create, to express. Perhaps this is sheer vanity. But perhaps not... I am driven far too much towards the arts to never know.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


        The reality is that most of what I write isn't worth sharing. This isn't a shot at me, exactly. More like a shot at my current place as a writer. And as a human being. I know that some people move through depression and, if anything, become better creators for it; I am not one of them. And yet, a small piece of me can't help but hope that there's some good to be gained by writing on my little corning of the internet. My tiny little drop in the ocean of writing out there...

          I started school again about a week ago. I had taken Spring and Summer off after a very bad semester last fall, in hopes of getting on top of my mental health. That... didn't really happen. I'm still suffering. I'm better, but not so much better that I feel secure. I will probably crash again. I will hate myself, and I will feel completely numb, and I will be in near physical pain.

          What changed is the idea that that's okay. 

          For a long time, my life has revolved around pain. Experiencing pain, avoiding pain, fighting pain, being happy because of lack of pain. But this isn't effective. If I hate myself for whatever reason, and I try to mentally argue my way out of it, I only summon more negative thoughts to back it up. It's a waste of time and energy. Avoiding with comfort food and Netflix and desperately clinging to company beyond my own mind only makes my life - and therefore my mood - worse.

          And then I can't feel much joy, because my greatest aspirations have been reduced to things to do in order to cope. My mindset is such that it seems I can't aspire to more than neutral. To not be in pain. For a long time, my greatest goal has been "stop being depressed." Somehow, that doesn't seem healthy. It doesn't seem very useful to have negative goals in the first place. The "don't"s and the "stop"s.

            I'm still sad. I'm still in pain. I still don't really believe that I have any worth, or that anyone not connected to me by blood could ever love me. But that's okay.

             Because what really matters is that I strive for those things that matter to me. That's where my energy should go, not feeling bad about being depressed, or fighting things that only seem to get stronger for being fought. This is the truth that a majority of self-help and motivational quotes and such don't get. "Think positively." "Love yourself." No.

             I'm still scared. But I know rationally that there's every reason to think that I can pull off a good semester, if I keep my wits. I know that this is where I'm meant to be. And that's really as far as I need to go. If demons keep wanting to come up claiming that I'm not good enough, that I'll fall on my face, that I'll never amount to anything no matter how much education I get... they can go yell in the corner while I do my homework.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not-such-bullshit around depression

  There are some ideas around helping with depression that just stink of bullshit, or that seem like they can't apply, or otherwise seemed worthy of being blown off. Over the years I've had to accept that some of that thinking isn't very conducive to my well being.

          1. You can't argue yourself out of needing help. For a long time I convinced myself that seeing a shrink was pointless in my case. What I usually hear is that it "doesn't make you weak." That's not the problem though, at least it wasn't for me. I'd convinced myself that I was intelligent and self-observant, so what could they offer me? But here's the thing: intelligence and reflection doesn't go very far when the thinking is distorted, and that thinking generally doesn't feel distorted at the time. It's not about intelligence. Therapy offers help identifying and dealing with those distortions. What I still struggle with is finding a therapist who is good at their job, but in theory...

          2. Sometimes, yeah, you need to pull yourself up. You can't just will yourself out of depression, but the simple things you can will yourself to do can have an impact. It's way to easy to dwell in depression and ignore the fact that you could probably make yourself at least go hug a puppy, or step out to the patio. At least file down the edge a little. And then from there maybe you can go for a walk or do some writing... It doesn't solve the problem. But the more you do, the more accomplished you're able to feel and the more happy-making things you do, the better things are. Letting yourself stay in the doldrums does nothing good, as tempting as it may be.

          3. Smile! As fucking annoying as it is when I'm told this by other people (usually strangers who make it sound like I owe them a smile), well, smiling is a good thing. You smile, your brain thinks you must be happy. There's chemical feedback. In a mirror, it gives a mental image of you as a happier person. And of course, people like people who are happy, and social isolation does nothing to help depression. Faking is a good skill on all fronts, at least a little bit.
              I'm still trying to figure out where the happy balance point is where I'm owning my faults (not being ashamed) without letting them consume me.

           4. Self-love/belief isn't pure bull. If you expect to fail, you don't honestly try. You can't honestly push past depression if part of you thinks you deserve it (I suspect this may be where "you just like being depressed"-type accusations come from). This is the piece where I largely want to call "bullshit." How the fuck am I supposed to love myself as I am?? I hate myself for a reason. Many, actually. And yet...
             I can understand in an academic sense how this is a decent hypothesis. I would be a different person if I believed that I could do what I set my mind to. I would probably be more loving if I could believe that I was lovable in return. We have a tendency to prove ourselves right when we say we can or can't do something. Maybe the person I am right now doesn't deserve to be loved, or to be happy. Maybe. But it doesn't matter. Let's try testing the hypothesis that the version of me that loves and believes in herself is a better person, and then I can better handle the flaws that remain.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Just a story....

          The problem with using the past to predict the future is that our lives are not controlled experiments, and there are a lot of variables. There are lessons to be learned, to be sure, but we can't always predict responses and failures. People change, environments change, specific circumstances change. The most important of these is that people can change and grow.

            I've fallen more than I'd like. Fibromyalgia and drama opened the door for depression to come back, and I've not managed to beat it back again. Not entirely. I've always been mystified by it coming and going, but I think maybe there is one component I can pin down. One, or perhaps two that I see as intertwined, which I'd been told in classes for years which I always scoffed at... locus of control.

             The idea is that people who believe that things just happen to them - aka, have an external locus of control - are more prone to depression (side note: how does this work with religion being good for mood?). I always put this down, at least as applying to me, because I know damn well that the power is mostly in my hands, I just thought my hands to weak to use it. But... maybe that's not really a good argument against, because it comes out the same. If I'm not using the power that I have, then yeah, life is given free reign to push me around.

               I don't remember triggers. What I do remember is that my depression started easing last time around when I realized that being in school was a choice. That all I really had to do was make it through the semester, and then I'd be free to do whatever would be best for me, and ultimately that meant a semester off, and dance classes, and working on health....

                And then there was fatigue and illness that'd be predicted to be chronic - even more so than depression at this point - and would have me likely on antidepressants the rest of my life and still not at 100%. Then there was drama that made me feel resigned to isolation, to the point that I went through a phase of covering up my face to hide myself. I felt control and hope being taken away... and the depression flared up.

                 And I stopped doing very much to try to take control.

               I've had a problem rationalizing optimism and self love because, well, look at how much I fail! And I don't think, objectively, it's much better. Life sucks, and for the most part it sucks for reasons under my control. But it doesn't matter.

             Maybe this sounds egotistical. But let's say I don't deserve to be happy, and pursue my dreams, and go off and connect with people and generally be and feel awesome. Just for the sake of argument, because I know some part of me will try to argue that point.

            "If you are giving up on your dream…not only are you taking that gift away from yourself – you’re taking that gift away from the world.

Don’t you dare take your gift away from me." -
Veronica Varlow

             I don't know if I have anything special to bring to the world, but it doesn't sit right with me to not find out. What does seem evident is that I am a better person when I am kind to myself, and hopeful, and letting myself be who I am instead of worrying constantly about fitting in. When I believe, I actually put in effort instead of - at best - putting in half-hearted attempts. 

             I owe it to the people around me to become the person I'd be if I learned to love myself and believe that I am powerful.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Vulnerable heart

Embedded image permalink

        I believe in love.

        I believe in hope, and second chances, and forgiveness. I believe in the power of communication to heal, or at least help cleanse the wound. I believe in keeping my heart on my sleeve.

        I believe in fighting, and standing up, and putting effort into relationships. I believe that sometimes I have to accept that most of the effort may come from me. I believe that sometimes people don't believe as I do, and it takes them longer to open up, and that's okay.

        I believe that anyone who can't see me for who I am has no business telling me how I should feel about myself, and no business controlling my heart. I believe that sometimes I must cut ties.

       I believe that love and hope can rescue and restore you from any scope.

      I believe in staying open, even as I walk away with wounded heart. I believe that there is no pain worth closing up over. I believe, in spite of everything, that the best path I can take is to believe.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Heavy Lifting

 I don't really make a big deal of my "glory days." Which I hope will one day be eclipsed but anyway... if I've had glory days, I'd think it would be in high school. In marching band and winter percussion. To this day I feel a twinge of pride in the fact I marched fucking bass 5... well, technically 4, but the biggest drum in any case. Despite the fact that it was the one position that, even in our atypically feminine line, was always filled by a guy.

         Even before then percussion gave me, among other things, a certain pride in my strength. And it isn't even so much that I pride myself on being extremely strong (I'm not, really), so perhaps pride is the wrong word... I simply refused to accept the idea that "oh, you're a weak little girl, you can't do that."

        Maybe men overall have more physical strength. I'm frankly too tired at the moment to do proper research to refute or back up that common belief. But the idea that in every day tasks, it makes sense to assume that a woman can't do what a guy can? Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

         I'm thinking about this right now because there was a heavy box that needed lifting at work. And while I was right there and it was my task, the guy I went to for help (because it should be team lifted) grabbed a little scrawny guy to assist instead of letting me. The other woman who happened to be nearby made a comment of "find a man to do it", which is almost worse. I guess it's a joke, but where do you think jokes get their humor? And then I got to deal with a tire display, and a coworker mentioned that they shouldn't be making me do that. Actually said something like "are there no guys there?" I just. Ugh.

            And, sure, maybe the guy in question was being polite, or chivalrous, or something along those lines. The (female) coworker who got mad on my behalf I certainly wouldn't get angry at, she was being protective. But what underlines this is still seems closer to sexism than anything else.

         I am a woman, that does not make me a delicate little flower. It doesn't in itself make anyone a delicate little flower, I'm not special. I'm not as strong as I'd like, especially now. But I am strong enough to do what needs doing.

         And I am tired enough of the perception that I'm not able just because I'm female that I feel like smacking everyone who acts according to that paradigm, even though it's never intended as offensive. And that's really the part that bothers me:

         No one actually says "you can't do, you're a girl." They just imply that I can't help them move something, or that a guy should have to do what I've been tasked with, or call someone in so I don't have to do work. It always sounds nice, or at worst business like. No one says it in a way that I feel like I can yell at them for.


          And then I decided that I'd go almost straight to the gym from work and go for some at least recent power lifting records. And then I crashed and ached. But the fact that I'm sick has nothing to do with missing-Y-chromosome related weakness (well, technically maybe, for some reason myalgia is far more common in women, but I digress), except that my mind tried to make that connection. One of these days I'll get better at not just ranting.

          POINT IS! I'm tired of society saying that women are inherently weaker, and shouldn't - or can't -  do heavy lifting.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New story

         I don't know the version of myself I want to become. I know traits that I admire, but this isn't really the same thing; not everything which I can appreciate would fit me. I've spent the "go explore, make mistakes, have fun" phase of my life - which I feel like should be coming to a close - wasted in some level of depression and isolation.
           I know this version of myself quite well, and I'm very practiced in this area. I'm good at ruminating until it's too late to actually do anything. I'm good at pushing people away, and assuming that there's just no point trying to make friends. I'm good at staying in the shadows. I know the pain and emptiness that I tend to feel, and how fleeting moments of joy are, and how I'm never able to tether dreams to the ground because, face it, they'll always be only daydreams....

            I think the last time I truly had an identity based on something healthy was when I was a "band geek." And even then, if I elaborated on that, it'd be "band geek who is severely underachieving and depressed and about as isolated as one can get within marching band." I don't know if I've ever had an identity without the negative aspects of that... can a five-year-old be said to have an identity?

           Everything before now, before now, before now, is just a story I carry around. I guess that would apply to anybody in the world. What I need is a new story about who I am.” - Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk. 

                    Just a story, but how do I force myself to look forward to a new premise, new themes, new characters? This old story, as horrid as it is to live, is comfortable. It's what I know. 

                   A new story...

                   I am going to go back to school in fall, and in a couple years I will graduate with a neuroscience major and a minor in something artistic. I am open to the world, and growing towards being the kind of person who others look to for inspiration. I am learning to pursue my dreams, and have a dance solo performance to prepare for.  I'm outgoing, and cheerful, and confident...

                   And there are still a lot of gaps. But it's about time I kick depressive-empty-worthless-me out of the spotlight. It's time I work on a new story. 

                  What would your story be?