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

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        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?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feeling earthy

        When I do my nails, more often than not, there's some meaning between the colors I choose. A need for energy can be reflected by red polish, despair by black, a need for calmness by blue... I've occasionally wondered how uncommon this is, is this something that isn't rare but no one talks about it? Anyway.

         Today I got a mani/pedi, and it hit me that what I need isn't raw energy and passion. I've been going towards reds a lot recently, but that isn't really what I need. I need to step back and focus on a god support, positive growth. I need to get more grounded, and build myself a base on which to dance and sing and, I don't know, spin fire. Whatever. But the point is, that's where I need to focus. Natural, grounded energy.

          So instead of fire, I have toes with a dark, slightly red woody tone and dark green fingernails. I don't know if this makes any sense.

           I feel as if I've been focusing so much on my high aspirations that I've been completely avoiding the gap in between. Trying to build a fire without wood. It feels strangely empowering to recognize that. I'm not in a place to burn brightly, but I can start slowly growing.

           I can't burn yet, but there are wild and beautiful things in my future. I know it. I just have to step back, and deal with what I have, and strive to deal with now, rather than mope over my current state or dream of a distant future. I need to ground myself, and for once, that doesn't feel so bad...

(My first phalaenopsis)

           Even epiphytic, beautiful orchids need to settle into a bit of dirt and moss and whatever before they can bloom.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

... Thinking too much is actually a thing, isn't it?

        I had some interpersonal drama explode several weeks ago. Yes, I have to be vague. It broke my heart, and it consumed my thinking for longer than it probably should have. I rationalized it by saying that I have to "process," but so much of it was just thinking in circles. It was dwelling in the pain, and repeating to myself (especially at first) that I am a horrible no good person in so many forms. I latched on, and it only hurt me further. I did need to process some, if I'd tried to ignore it I probably wouldn't gotten past the "I'm a horrible person" interpretation of what happened. That might have festered, and I might still be walking around hiding behind my hair. But I was too far on the other extreme...  I thought about it to the point of only hurting myself more. 

         I keep coming on here, but right now... writing doesn't help. Not just with drama, but with everything. Writing focuses my thoughts, and somehow right now that seems to be a bad thing. I couldn't say why, because it's not that what I sit down to write is inherently negative. It's as if my mind is telling me to knock it off. 

          Maybe there's something intelligent about my escapism. Watching netflix, spending perhaps a little too much time with my animals. I'm avoiding deep thought, and maybe that part is right. Maybe the key isn't to learn to think more or better or whatever right now... maybe what I need is to gear my "escapism" towards action instead of inaction. Distracting myself from thought with actual endeavors instead of trying to numb myself. 

           My thinking is going in countless circles with very little new insight. I need to break free. I need to explore, I need to do, I need to get more life into my existence. Pure rumination is good... but there is a limit. 

            (I may have started this whole blogging thing prematurely... =/  )

Friday, May 9, 2014

Managing and leading

        I had to go through a few leadership classes with band. I went through a semester program at school. Neither of those made me realize the difference in terms here. Managers are not (at least by definition) leaders. At least, not how I would see it. I took an assessment at work that's intended to see if I would be a good leader, I ranked as "competitive." It asked questions primarily about communication/diplomacy and level of authoritarian/free-reign ness, and about response to feedback. It just hit me how ridiculous this is. I've been contemplating trying to find some weird position I could take, like substitute supervisor when someone is on vacation or something, so that I could develop my leadership skills. And it finally hit me.

          My managers are just that: managers. They point fingers and go "do that." Occasionally they'll point to our bottom line, which honestly is really bad motivation, and that's as close as they get to trying to actually lead. That's not true... some of my managers show a good bit of gratitude, which counts for something. Let's see if I can remember the leadership styles/traits from last year (this isn't mine, but I honestly don't remember the original source. Here's a page that briefly discusses it though:

    • Inspire a Shared Vision: Not really. There isn't much inspiration in the shared vision of lining someone's pocket way up the ladder. 
    • Challenge the Process: Ha. Haha. No, this is a system of "just obey the process, stop asking questions." At least at my level, and as far as I can tell just about all levels in the store. Maybe not the main manager, but I'm pretty sure at least the first three from the bottom.
    • Encourage the Heart: eh. Some of my bosses (of which I have a lot) make a point to compliment me on a job well done, are sure to pass on compliments (i.e. someone I helped out commenting on how awesome I was), and show gratitude. One of them is particularly nice and tries to be supportive, as little as she sees me, and one of them thinks it's totally awesome that I'm looking at leadership. This is something that might be roughly half and half. 
    • Enable Others to Act: No. Kind of? Once in a while input is appreciated, but I never feel comfortable giving unsolicited input because it's rarely received as if my ideas are worthy of any respect. I predominately feel treated like a brainless drone. The best case I've had in this respect is being let to go without orders, which was less about trust and more about bad managing. 
    • Model the Way: Sometimes. For the most part, my managers are at least decent about getting their own hands dirty if needed. But they don't model respect for the individual, or open communication, or anything else beyond the work itself.
             My managers are generally not good leaders. And if I go into this management trying to learn to be a leader, I have a feeling I'll just go even more crazy than I am  on the bottom rung. I'll be in the system, trying to play along. Maybe I'd "model the way" for other managers into trying to actually lead, but I suspect I'd get beat down instead. Granted, it's a moot point right now because I can't supervise and go to school. 

              But maybe I should attempt to be a leader from the bottom. Not in a manage-y sense, but in every other way. Daring to challenge the process when I really think it ought to be challenged, trying to inspire a sense of at least helping others and making each other a little less miserable ("vision" might go a little far).... 

               I don't know. The reality is, I want to be a leader, but I don't care to manage. I was looking at management because I thought it might force me to exercise those atrophied traits and skills... but maybe I just have to resolve to practice leadership without being forced by an official role. And yeah, I have a really crappy job. But while I'm there, I may as well try to get as much from it as I can. 

              And I want to lead. I want to become the kind of person who leads others towards achieving what greatness they are capable of.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bring on the pain

        I have a stupid smile on my face. I don't know why. I have a couple of baby rats, who are adorable, are being accepted by my older ones, and are certainly happy-making... but not that happy-making.
        I woke up late enough that my medicine dose is a little late, and I feel great. I had already discussed with the doctor going off of these meds, and I'm supposed to be tapering off... but honestly, without the incentive of maybe getting better if I push through, I'm not feeling much incentive to take my poison. If my "withdrawal" from going cold turkey is feeling like running in the sunshine, and smiling, and making things... fuck it. This feels like my body saying it doesn't want any more, just stop.
         So I think I will. At least, I think that's my plan. I'll stick the bottle in my bag so that, should the symptoms get bad, I can promptly take a dose no matter where I am. This isn't a matter of being stubborn, I just don't want to take any more poison than I have to. Because it does feel like poison.

          And this isn't being replaced. Not right away at least, not directly. It will be replaced by learning how to work with my natural body. Learning how to plan my activity so that I can do the most possible without causing a flare. Learning how to nip a flare in the bud when it does start up. Learning strategies to get my sense of self-efficacy on an upward trend. If I do everything I can in that sense and still feel like my functioning could be much improved by continual medication, then I'll start playing with drugs again. But I see drugs as a secondary defense, and with a tendency to warp things and interrupt everything good and natural that I've been working on. Too many bad experiences, too little good, and too great a sense of dependency and unreal-ness inherent in such drug use.

           So I'll drop this. I predict that my fatigue will lessen, my activity will increase, and I'll end up with more pain. And I don't care. Bring it on!! If I truly have this condition, I want to face it head on.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Baby steps

        This is a truth that I guess I never entirely internalized, even though it's been thrown in my face over and over and over again. Even though I got it on an intellectual level, I never entirely felt it.
          Life isn't about the big achievements. I can never expect anything to suddenly get better. Not my attitude, not my energy levels, not my social life, nothing. No real change is going to happen over night through some intense burst of will and strength. I'm not going to wake up suddenly able to leap a thousand miles; all I can do is put one foot in front of the other foot. Baby steps.
           I keep finding myself setting these high goals and then berating myself for not meeting them. I'd go to the club (party/barbecue/whatever) and get mad at myself because I didn't magically become a socialite when I walked through the door. I'd get mad at myself for not being busy all day, even though recently I've been exhausted more often than not. And it doesn't make sense. I can't change any of this instantly, it's all a process.
            All I can do is bit by bit start feeding the better parts of me instead of the bad. Feeding good habits, reinforcing good thought patterns, etc. Feeding my creativity instead of depression for example. That's what I can do, that's where the power lies. Not setting unrealistic expectations of instant change.

Monday, March 24, 2014

No pain, no gain

        For a large part of last week, I thought I was doing pretty well. I wasn't feeling much pain, just a very slight, dull ache that I could ignore easily enough. I felt exhausted, but not in pain. But then I went to the gym, and did a very light work out (although, yay, I discovered that I can still do squats if I adjust my feet a little!)... and that ended my "good" period. I felt energetic and happy but also more tense and in pain. And then I went to work, and was miserable by the end because a fogginess set in.

          I can avoid pain if I avoid doing certain things that help make my life worth living. But I can't just be sedentary. Even if it doesn't help long-term with the pain, being unfit isn't going to help my life on the whole. I want to start hiking, I want to dance, I want to be strong.

           I can put up with pain, I just may have to be smart about timing. It would be no good to push myself until I'm totally out of commission when I'm supposed to be at work or something, but I can put up with a level of pain. I would rather suffer pain than a loss of vitality and function, or giving up on being able to enjoy movement. The cliche of "no pain, no gain," feels far more accurate than it used to (true pain is not generally a good sign), and if that remains true, I guess I'll be dealing with a good bit of pain.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Musical mood boosters (for when you feel like slapping positivity in the face)

       Sometimes when I'm in a negative mood, overly happy-cheery songs and such are extremely irritating. They seem so far from the truth that I can't connect, they only seem to highlight how low I am. There are plenty of songs that feel good because I do relate, but those can be dangerous because they help me dwell in what I'm feeling. But some songs manage to be relatable in those low points while still lifting me up...

        "Start Another Story" - Emilie Autumn
        "Yesterday will find you, where you've been before. Let the past remind you what's done. Now look for something more .... never if, only when."
       I'm still in transition, it's easy to get caught up in yesterday... in old chapters... but it's time for a new story. "One Foot in Front of the Other Foot" is another good one by her, which also deals with where things are/were being really bad and trying to move forward (although more powerfully positive and hopeful and definitely stands out among the rest of her music...).
         "Perpetual" - VNV Nation
         "Find it in you, raise your eyes. Look beyond the place you stand."
          This is a song that I hear as encouraging me to fight my way out of the abyss. To see the potential for greater things, and move towards them.

          "Be a Light to Yourself" - De/vision
          "But I'm not letting go, for I know you have to be a light to yourself. Be a spark in the dark. Shine and be a light to yourself. Watch me glow."
          Definitely not a happy song, but a reminder that sitting around waiting for someone or something else to light the way doesn't work so well... and implies the ability to "be a light."
           "Last Light" - VNV Nation
           "Seek no more for hollow answers. Answers that lay within you all along."
            Somehow this song strikes me as affirmation-y without setting off my "positive bullshit" reflex.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

        It's been a bad little while, hence the relative silence. I've been too exhausted or in pain most of the time to be positive and pleasant. I don't have the energy to keep the feelings of emptiness and despair from coming in all too often. There is reason to hope, and honestly maybe I should be proud of myself for not breaking down more completely, all things considered. But I'm not even doing well enough to write a decent post, I thought I could, but by the time I started writing it had drained away.

         So that's why I'm not posting much. I refuse to let this devolve into the kind of miserable drivel I wrote in high school... even if that means never making a set schedule, because forcing myself into a better writing state of mind is not a current skill.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

        I just found a survey that suggests that exercise is actually more commonly a negative thing for fibromyalgia. -_- There are also articles talking about exercise causing "flares." I think I give up researching. I give up trying to collect general treatment strategies. Not because the research disagrees with me, but because it disagrees with itself... I've seen at least as many sources that say exercise is a must.

         All I can do is experiment. Heat seems to be beneficial, so I got an electric blanket, and I feel like I'm waking up more refreshed now. While it's hard to start, dancing leaves me feeling no pain (except perhaps normal burn from working certain muscles). These kinds of things seem more useful for me than looking at what has or hasn't worked for other people. Still worth looking for ideas, but not for effectiveness.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

        Well, it's been a week, and I'm still trying to come to terms with what's going on. With potentially having a chronic illness. I'd be looking at support groups and stuff, except... I feel like doing that could backfire. I feel like that kind of action could give it more power because I'm saying "I identify with this illness, let's find other people who share that." Instead of saying, for example, "I'm a dancer, fuck that, I'm going to put my effort into finding people who help that side of me grow." 

          I'm back to testing the waters. This has taken a huge toll on how active I can apparently be, so I'm having to take huge steps back to figure out where my new baseline is so I can work accordingly. Things like massage might be a higher financial priority for me now, and invested in an electric blanket (aka giant heating pad) for the first time. And maybe I have to be okay going at a slower pace, at least for a while,physically anyway. 

          But what I'm NOT doing is accepting a sedentary life style, because I want to move and I want to dance and I want to be otherwise healthy. I'm NOT giving up on dancing. I'm NOT going to fucking identify myself by another fucking illness because I know how fucking well that turns out. 

          .... and honestly, I've not been doing crap for the past while. Maybe it's because on some level I feel like there's no point, I don't know, I feel like my body crapped out on me in response to me treating it right. I feel quite drained, empty almost. And maybe that makes sense. But it's also time to start pulling things together again.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not giving up

        So last week, I moved up to the next level of belly dancing (well, the "not-completely-beginning" level). This group is slowly working on a routine instead of just isolated moves. So, I was standing in a bit of a pose, waiting for music...

       And my mind went back to standing facing the back wall of a gym, cymbals on my hands, aware of the people forming a circle with me even though my head was down... waiting. That emotion, that space. That vibe. Nothing else existed. I don't know how to describe it to anyone who didn't know it. But. Let's just say that my marching days were filled with stress and anxiety and blood and tears and frustration... and I still think is was definitely a net positive.

         I need to move, I need to perform, I need to create. This touches too deep inside me to ignore.

         And if it means I risk causing a "flare" of pain by not taking it easy enough, so be it. I can't not do this. There is too much joy to be had in moving my body. It is too good a means of expression. My body will just have to readapt, and I may have to take it a little slower, but I'm not giving up. If this is something I'm gonna have to deal with, I wanna be one of those people where you find out they have such-and-such issue and you're surprised.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

        There isn't much use in suffering over suffering. There's a big difference between whining about the cold (even if only internally) and frantically trying to get to shelter as fast as possible, and accepting a bit of chill and being okay with it. The experience of cold is there regardless, but you cut off the emotional response that blows it up about 10 times worse.

         I'm thinking about this now because yesterday I got a tentative diagnoses of fibromyalgia. It's too early to say, but the doctor thinks that's what the symptoms so far point to. I'm having a hard time with the concept that what I've been experiencing might be chronic, might affect the quality of my life instead of just being annoying for a little while. Far as I can tell, the biggest reason it isn't certain is because, well, it still has time to turn out to be a virus taking it's sweet time totally leaving, or something. If it's fibromyalgia, it's chronic with not a good chance of getting better.

         I'm not doing too well with this. I know that far worse things happen, but that doesn't mean that this doesn't kinda really suck.


          All I'm doing in stressing about it and wondering if it's going to lower the quality of my life is giving it power. Whether what I'm dealing with turns out to be fibromyalgia or something more short term... I'm developing a habit of letting pain stop me. I'm coming into this with enough defeatist tendencies that what I'm essentially telling myself is that this pain can control me. It makes me want to give up on many of my dreams: health because I can't exercise as I'd like, dance, relationships, actually doing anything with my life because I'm too sapped from the pain and fatigue...

          I'm not doing myself any favors. I need to block this automatic thinking before it get ingrained any more. I can be strong. I can learn to shut off the emotional pain response a little better. Doing what I want (exercise) supposedly improves the chances of it getting better....

          I've lived under the shadow of depression too fucking long. I'm not letting another illness lay waste to years of my life. If I must suffer, I will be do so while being otherwise awesome.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Breaking my non-doctor-going streak.... in the name of art.

        Yay! I get to borrow the one helpful-looking blogging book I found from the library! Maybe I can actually get this off the ground and in a better direction. =D Or, you know, a direction at all.

         Anyway. I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon. After two weeks of feeling slightly sick and having my muscles ache too much for to want to dance (let alone weight lift and run and other things that help me actually dance well), I finally broke down and called the doctor. I pretty much avoid this whenever possible. It took years for me to go in for depression, I've not gone due to more physical illness since I got strep in 6th grade. It doesn't help that I've learned not to really trust doctors, between bullshit regarding mental illness and even more bullshit in regards to nutrition.

          I probably still would be sticking it out, but well... I have a performance in a little over 2 weeks. I have a feeling this is going to be laughable, but considering I'll have that insecurity no matter how long I wait, I have no intention of changing that intention. I need to get my muscles working right so I can practice and move well. I can't just let it keep going hoping it'll go away.

          Art > just not being in pain.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Light and Dark

        Not everything is bright, and happy. It's not all butterflies and sunshine, and pretending that it is isn't healthy. Pretending that everything is fine only let's things fester.
         There is balance in everything.

         To give a relatively tangible example: body image. It's not healthy to hate oneself over being fat (or skinny), but it's also not healthy to be content with it at unhealthy levels. Literally. This is the problem I have with the positive body image crap, the implication seems to be "you're beautiful just the way you are, don't try to change." I don't know about anyone else, but I'm learning to not hate my body and not be ashamed of it... but I'm also not okay with staying here because it's bad for health and clothes shopping and I know better than to think appearance doesn't matter and everything I'd do to change my body feels better anyway.

           The process is positive, I suppose, but that's kind of the point. I see posts and people that try to be bright and sunshine-y all the time, and all it looks like to me is trying to push everything negative into the shadows where it can fester and fuck things up. It's perhaps better than the extreme I used to be on, but neither is good. The most positive way to be, I think, is a balance of accepting and working with both the darkness and the light.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

negative relationships

        It's common enough to see quotes about not caring about someone who couldn't care less about you. But that doesn't answer the question of why it's even an issue. That is a draining, negative place to be in. Why would anyone have to think about not being in it?

         And yet, that's the position I've been in for years. I've always had uneven relationships. And it's no wonder that I've felt like a hopeless unlovable bit of nothing for so long; it's a message I often got from everyone else. I don't remember the last time I didn't have some relationship that kept bringing me down because I was reminded, oh yeah, they don't care about me. Some of this might be insecurity, but not all. These were people I cared about though, so I couldn't let go. I felt like a worthless piece of shit, remember. I didn't think I deserved anything better.

           Then I left high school, and my social circle shrunk to only a few people almost overnight. My clinging to negative relationships became more than just caring a bit too much for people who treated me like I was less than. It became feeling like I had to take whatever friendship I could get. Shyness, horrible sense of self-worth, and not being very introverted is a bad combination.

            I still don't know what the answer is. Can I break this pattern now, or is it inevitable unless I cut myself off from new people entirely? But I am still affected by the fact that I need people in my life, I'm not a lone wolf. On a longer scale, I suppose the answer is probably that I need to know my worth, and I need to be aware of when a relationship is only hurting me... but that's the longer scale.

            And in the very short term... I wish it was easier to tell if certain people didn't actually give a fuck or really are just very flaky. -_-


Thursday, February 27, 2014

The magic of intent

        "Magic" has always had an appeal to me, even though I don't strictly speaking believe in it. What I believe in is the power of my mind. The power of associations, the power of intent.

         I believe that if I give meaning to something, on some level, it affects my performance.

         Today I created a confidence oil blend. A number of the essential oils I picked actually correspond to confidence according to people who at least pretend to know what they're talking about, but it doesn't really matter in the end (a bit of oil on my wrist isn't gonna affect my brain much). The point is that I put the intent of strengthening my confidence level into this formula, and I was thinking in terms of solar energy plus a bit of rose for love, and I added a tiny amount of glitter than still managed to give it a golden glowey color in the bottle. I added a bit of my voice tincture for communication.

           The point is that whenever I use it I am telling myself, "Today I will make progress in being strong and confident."

           Call it magic, call it positive thinking, call it what you will. But I have a hard time calling it bullshit.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exploring the light

        I don't know myself out of the darkness.

        I don't know how to act with people. Don't get me wrong, I know I didn't act well with people before, but I had a pretty well established mode of operation: try to pretend I'm invisible, barely speak, and if I speak (or even if not) generally give off a negative, almost toxic vibe. I'd spend a good deal of huge social occasions (i.e. parties, dances) off in corners, miserable because I wanna join in the fun but I felt I couldn't. It's similar in all areas of my life. I'm having a hard time actually acting, and I'm starting to wonder if it's because I'm between habits. So many of my routines were negative.

         I know that I'm getting better, but I don't know what to do. I'm slowly degrading old programming, but I don't really know what to put in their place. Could go all cliche and say I need to learn to "be myself," but what the fuck does that actually mean? Acting natural? Well that doesn't work, it still takes effort too much of the time to not be a depressive positivity-killer.

          It feels like I'm getting to know myself when I talk to other people as much as they are. I don't know who I'm becoming. I have faith that it's something better than who I was, but that's about as far as I really know. So, yeah, it's interesting.

         But life keeps moving. I'm drawing closer to my performance goal date, which scares the shit out of me especially since my body doesn't seem to agree with my desire to practice (I'm all aches and stiffness). I'm moving closer to having to work back into school, which similarly scares me because I'm still a ball of confusion. I have to keep moving. I have to keep working on becoming whoever it is I'm becoming, because I can only be in chrysalis form for so long before it gets unhealthy.

          It's time to come out and start drying my wings so I can see what they look like. ... Guess this metaphor might break down at self-awareness, but whatever. XD

Monday, February 24, 2014

Drafts drafts drafts....

        Looking at my posts, probably about fifty percent only achieved "draft" status. I'm not entirely sure how I should feel about this. I suppose it's just a change of view: when I came into this, every bit that I wrote was intended to be a gem. I may have fallen quite short, but that was the idea.

         But that's not how art works. There is no craft where every attempt is going to come out just as you wanted it. Some bits of writing just flow out uncensored and not thought out, sometimes spiteful or angry or sad, sometimes rather self-involved. Sometimes I end up writing something that I'm not ready to share, or that I can't imagine being beneficial for anyone else to read. And at the end of the day, that is part of the point. I'd just be writing in a journal if audience didn't matter to me at all.

         So, sometimes I look at my lists of posts, which by default includes both published posts and drafts, and it makes me sad how many are only drafts. How much of my expression here never actually sees any light, is never even seen by the maybe one person reading. It feels like a waste, but I don't think it is. Artistic expression can be good for the artist even if not for anyone else, and practice is certainly of value. And, anyway, drafts can occasionally prove to be polishable at a later date.

          My point is... I still want to produce good posts. I want to keep this going, and hopefully it'll morph over time into something awesome. I want to get back into poetry, and that'll take even more time before I get anything that I feel is worth sharing. I've also heard that forcing oneself to do art is pointless, but I'd argue that it helps keep things going. You may not produce anything good when inspiration has run dry, but you can help maintain the habits and the skill by doing some anyway. There's no such thing as artistic waste. Just do it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sometimes perfection isn't what we want to see.

        There is a certain appeal to watching growth. Sure, there's beauty to an orchid bought in full bloom, but at least for me it doesn't match the thrill of watching as new leaves form or a new bud come out of a dormant plant. There's a beauty to seeing a new sprout. The leaf buds in spring....

         I think it's true of people, too. Sometimes already developed beauty is what people want, and then they go to the ballet or concert or art museum. But then you have shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" which seem to exist more for the making of. The growth. There is a magic to seeing dreams even before they are realized. 

         So maybe I'm just trying to rationalize, but this feels like a reason to put myself out there before I'm "ready." I feel like, perhaps, there could be good to being transparent as I learn to dance. Letting it show as my performing self takes form instead of hiding until it's "good enough." It will never be good enough, if I set that as a limitation I will never even start. 

         I don't know. But when the worst I'm doing is being some crazy dancing chick in broad daylight... well, do I really need much in the way of proof? No one is wasting money on me since street performance is tip-based, I'm not taking prime time at this point away from other people who might do this (or even pedestrian space at a time when it's crowded)... is there a point where I could do harm to anything beyond my pride?

         I may have to work on setting a more official "event" for the equinox... ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Medication Use

        For a while, I've seen psychological medication as a crutch, except I think I mean that differently than most people who say that. I don't see it actually fixing anything. Medication can help alleviate some of the pain, help with functionality, potentially offer what's not working a better shot at getting better... but it doesn't, in itself, fix much. There is very real use, but it takes other factors to produce lasting change.

        Which is a big part of why I take issue with a shrink basically telling me that meds are the only way I'll get better, or that they are the only possible reason I'm getting better. As I see it, drugs might partially explain relief from direct depressive symptoms. They don't explain my efforts helping me be more productive and hopeful before I even got to my appointment. They don't explain changes in thinking. They don't explain my coming to understand better some of my dysfunctional thinking.

          My life isn't a controlled experiment, which is part of the problem with looking at medicine for a specific person I suppose, but I honestly feel like the trajectory of my improvement hasn't been changed by taking medication. And now, a month after a dose increase, I'm feeling more tired and my muscles are tightening up on me and feeling weak and I know it's not because of overtraining because I've been too tired to train much at all.

         I believed enough to keep going if there was no negative consequence, but not enough to suffer side-effects that keep me from doing what I wanna be doing (although, yes, there's a conversation with doctor that needs to happen). I think it may be about time I prove to myself and doctors who don't believe in self-healing that my improvement is a result of more than popping pills.

         On a more public service-y note, my rat nabbed a sertraline pill from my hand this morning when I went to take it. I don't know if this applies to anyone reading this, but it's not safe to assume that pet rats won't register medicine as possible good eats (my rats like to nab food from me), and I'm guessing that had she succeeded in getting more than maybe a tiny nibble I'd be looking at an emergency vet visit for serotonin toxicity.

---- edit----

        Doctor says that what I'm experiencing aren't side effects. But I can at least call partial bullshit (fatigue is enough of an issue to list on the fucking bottle!!), and saying "such and such isn't a side effect" seems nonsensical when it appears they don't bother listing super rare ones normally. I don't know, doctors probably hate me because I have a problem taking them at their word sometimes. But then, this is the doctor that tried to tell me that my getting better couldn't possibly be affected by anything but drugs, she's set me up to be skeptical.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Late night musing

        Is drinking a moderate amount of (sparkly) wine classy enough to make up for drinking non-corked wines? I need something that stays good for quite a while after opening, dammit. 

        Dancing appeals to me, and I couldn't entirely explain why. It just feels good. The way I move, I believe, is largely what got me the performance part I'm still perhaps the proudest of. I may not have done much in the way of formal dance, but get me on a dance floor and actually moving... I feel amazing, even if I don't look it. I always secretly hope that I'm one of the people that others enjoy watching, despite the lack of props or anything. I've not gone dancing in way too long. But I digress. 

         I don't feel like I'm lying when I say that I'm meant to perform in some capacity. That I'm meant to dance. My goal of performing on the street on the first day of Spring may be overly ambitious, but even if that timing doesn't come true, it will eventually. I'm still "reality" minded enough to accept like I likely need a more typical "9-5," but that doesn't mean my life won't be creatively focused. It can't not be, that isn't who I am. 

        This feels more like the truth, more like my genuine self than I've felt in a long time. Depression isn't me. It may be something that affects me, but it isn't me. Letting the crowd push me down a path that isn't my own (or trample over me and I trip over my feet on a wrong path for me) isn't right. I still suffer. I still get down. I still have days like most of today where I just feel defeated and sad and want to stay in bed. 

         But it isn't me, any more than it'd make sense to define myself by how I am when I get a nasty virus. It certainly doesn't give an indication of who I should be. 

         The story of my life has been filled with wastes and sorrows and pain and failure. 

         The pen is still tainted with bad ink, but it is slowly being washed out and replaced by pretty new ink that suits me... 

          I'm working on a new chapter.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another singular Valentine's Day.

        Valentine's Day has gotten harder as the years have passed. Another year single, another year not really even able to take comfort in friendly love. Not that I'm completely alone, mind you; but the few friends I have aren't single so I fully expect that I won't be able to be with them. My loneliness feels more in my face every year.

        This year has been a touch better. It's amazing how the caring of a stranger can be so touching. I signed up for a secret Valentine's thing this year, and just got a beautiful card in the mail. I don't know how to describe this... in a very real sense, there's a certain type of love that seems to permeate everything. At least compassion, if calling that a type of love is too far a stretch. You see people who seem to love everyone in this way, and I can't help but believe that it is genuine. And it is beautiful. I don't know if my secret valentine is that way, but I believe that affection of some form was put into my card, as it was in the gift I made for this.

         V day also makes me think about what kind of love I'm cultivating. I haven't been cultivating at all: I reject it all too often. I have a hard time believing in the care that others might have for me. If anything I cling to "love" that hurts me, but more often I've held on to the idea that I just don't deserve love, and anyone who knows me must hate me. It's hard to have a relationship of any kind with that block there, as much as I want to connect with people.

         And I suppose it starts with a love I've most resisted cultivating: my own. Which sounds cheesy, but there's some truth to it. It's why I made that mirror a while ago. It's why I fully intend on buying myself flowers today, and maybe some decently dark chocolate or something else happy. It kind of pisses me off that I have to accept the idea that you have to love yourself first, but there it is.

         So here I am. No expectation of having a date tomorrow, or a singles moping party, or anything like that. And I don't much care. Because I find it too awesome that I've been working on how I treat myself these past couple weeks, and it's a full moon on Valentine's Day, and while I certainly wouldn't mind being shown love from others as well... it's about time I learned to show myself love.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This is new for me.

       I'm good at being sad. I'm good at hating myself. I'm good at pushing people away, keeping a wall up around myself or scaring people off. I'm good at crying out for help as I suffer over the pain I ultimately inflict on myself. I know this version of me all too well. I've had a good deal of practice.

       Right now I am in transition. I'm better enough to make attempts but weak enough to be easily beaten down. And I'm not good at much of this. I think that social might be where it shows the most... I don't know how to interact with people normally, and I keep feeling like I should just retreat back into a little cocoon, but of course that's not how I learn.

       I don't know who I am, because I've lived too long under the influence of depression. I'm finally tearing "stupid depressive" away from how I identify myself, which is good, but it also leaves a void. And so many of my other self-descriptions are infected by related thinking. I have this creative drive but I suck at arts and always will. I think I move well and have some potential in dance except, ha, being a dancer doesn't work when you're a blob. I definitely have some writing potential yeah right, how much you want to bet that no one gets what I'm doing when I think I'm being clever?

       So I'm lost, and scared, and confused, and so easily made to feel like I should just give up and let myself fall back to what I know because I'm failing anyway. And this sounds like I'm whining, but this recognition is hopeful to me.

         Because I feel this crappy precisely because I'm progressing. I'm changing into something I don't know. I have every reason to think that ultimately this is a good thing. And I'll get the skills as I go, in learning to be a happy, social, artistic person. All those things that have atrophied in my depressive state, they'll get better. Like starting to walk again after being on bed rest, or something, there's a phase of weakness being more obvious when you first start working on it again.

         I'll be okay.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Music and arts

        The arts seemed more encouraged when I was a child. Sure, there were some obvious biases (saying that playing music improves math skills sort of implies that math is more important, at least to me, and they were either electives or on a three-day rotation instead of being an every day, every year class), but still heard constantly how awesome these activities were for my intelligence and well being and isn't it so awesome that I'm playing flute and writing.
          And then I get into the adult world, and I so often see things about how the arts in schools are being threatened, and we need to protect them. I don't think that this is wrong, but I feel like we're looking at too small a picture.

           Occasionally there will be a call for help supporting the "higher" arts or drum corps. It's a cool hobby to have. But for the most part, no one gives a damn about arts in the "real" world. As if suddenly, its worth for the individual vanishes when they grow up unless they are looking at making a career of it... and even then, that's often considered a foolish ambition.

            I don't know. I started thinking about this because I've recently discovered that I like some folk music. And how that term probably came about to differentiate between "common" music and the kind of music that'd be played at court or what have you (not that I've looked this up). If we were to define a folk music for our current time, it'd mostly just be amateur covers of famous songs. Karaoke, maybe djing for drunken idiots kind-of-sort-of dancing. And at least to me, that seems really sad.

            I'd agree that the arts have a place in school. But I also feel like as a larger society we need to get out of the audience more often. I'm just musing, maybe this is silly. But I do think that either the arts don't matter or they matter for life, it doesn't make sense that the benefits dissipate... and I certainly don't believe that being artistic is worthless.

            When I create, I see things about myself and the world that I may not otherwise. Dancing makes me happy, and occasionally even that most abstract art form helps me see the world through a different lens, or feel empowered.  Writing helps me focus my thoughts so I can see them, and alter them as needed (i.e. being negative). I'd like to think, perhaps, that I have a greater creative drive than the majority, but I also suspect that such a drive is present in everyone. I see it in the number of people who enjoy art back in grade school, and the fact that enjoyment of music is all but universal. But it is so often lost....

             I don't know how to change this picture, but it does seem quite off.


Monday, February 10, 2014

What makes you come alive?

        I've almost always "known" that my career path couldn't be in the arts. I'm not that talented, I'm not that dedicated. I am nothing special. I don't think that this is self-loathing talking, although it likely plays a part in my past lack of success. I just don't think I'm one of the few who could make it.

       But just about everything that's made me feel alive has been in that realm. I don't really get so hyped up over information. Over scientific inquiry. Not really. If I were honest about what I wanted to do with my life, I'd probably say that I want to live more of an artistic lifestyle. Even if that's not all that I do, even if I always have to have a "day job," it'd be a day job that gives me the support I need to actually do what I want to do, not my life in itself. Because I know the odds of my making a living in the arts, but at the same time... what do I really want to do with my life? How would I craft my life if I were coming from a place of fearlessness and confidence?

       And then the question of school becomes not "what do I most want to do with my life" and instead "what path would best support my dreams?" Not chasing after my dreams directly in academia, but more of a second choice. And maybe that does mean science, and maybe that would turn out to me a good balance. Maybe there's my compromise. But maybe with suffering through school it wouldn't be worth it, or maybe I'll get into it later on.

       I don't know. I'm just musing. I think it's an important line of questioning though.

       What really makes you come alive?

Friday, February 7, 2014


         Yesterday was not good. I was doing alright aside from sleep deprivation, up until I got my hand slapped again for what I still bloody well think falls into the "cultivating healthy work relationships" level of talking. I know at least the second part isn't right, but 1) it makes me hate my job, it feels like they are seriously just trying to drag down our well being and 2) it feels like the world telling me that me trying to be social is inherently negative and I should just give up and shut up. I don't know. That's really what sent me on a downward trajectory.
           There's also the fact that I keep having people I feel close to act like they don't care, which is hurtful or irritating depending on if I blame my worthlessness or their lack of consideration. And I get disapproval from people for not doing enough. I wish I was strong enough to just say "fuck you" and go on being awesome, but I'm not just yet.

             Anyway. I pretty much crashed once I got home from work. I felt done. I felt like giving up on everything. Not as deeply as in the past, but still significant. I tried to fix it by working through what I was thinking for a bit, that didn't help anything.

            I'm really lucky to have someone on my side who manages to say the right thing (a lot more often than they seem to think).

            Because I think, more than anything, it's important to keep perspective. Where I was today doesn't mean much without considering the context of how freaking awesome I've been feeling recently and how constantly and deeply I was stuck in depression a couple months ago. I don't know that I'd say I've done anything great, but I'm doing well. I am progressing.

             And the simple fact that evidence points towards me making actual change and just suffering through occasional relapses was enough to unchain my emotions and let them slowly start floating back towards positive. It wasn't a fix, but it helped me stop clinging to the negative that I am so familiar with. I'm still a little low, I'm up way too late. But I'll be okay.


Street performance tour and a thought on art

        I have no idea if this is plausible. It's still in the daydream stage. But if I could get a little bit of money as I travel by busking, I'd expect that to both be freaking awesome in itself and would help me stretch what money I have going in.
         I am not entirely sure I could explain how this seems like such an awesome idea to me. I just miss performing. And the kind of performance I miss most involved being able to use facial expressions and my whole body to convey things rather than just being a body in a chair playing music. So maybe it makes sense. Having people watch as they pass by on the street seems about as intimate a public performance as you can get.

          The thing about the arts is that I think it's important to be okay with showing yourself. I suppose this might be a product of a relatively recent mindset, I keep reading things suggesting that art wasn't always seen as necessarily self-expressive. I suppose it still isn't. I don't know. I was going to say that you can still see that lack in arts such as ceramics, but even then, there's a bit of myself in what I make. It's never completely cold. Or is that an individual thing?

          Regardless, that's how I am. Artistry for me seems to require a willingness to be transparent to the world, and even if it's in a form that may not truly come across (i.e. symbolic color choices), it feels a little scary. Dancing especially takes something very primal, very internal, so even if nothing overly emotional is on my mind it can be kind of intimidating.

          This isn't an obstacle, just an observation. If anything, it just shows how so much is connected on some level.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm about a month in....

        I'm not eating wonderfully, but I'm getting better. A healthy meal has become more the norm instead of the exception. I'm also moving a lot more, and I've kinda made it a habit to go walk outside every day.
        I've not made grand leaps in becoming a wonderful seamstress, but I am at least starting to think craftily (i.e. "I wanna make a hip scarf!!" instead of browsing online stores for one). I've tried my hand at decorating mirrors, which I'm still rather proud of even though my painting skills leave much to be desired.
        I'm not much of a dancer either, but I'm working on it.

        And most of all, I'm not past depression. I'm still really tired much of the time. I'm still not a good advocate for myself. I still get sad. I'm still kind of anti-social. But my thinking has changed. It's not just a matter of depression etc loosening it's grip enough that I can breathe and smile occasionally... My thoughts are changing on a deeper level. The problems I have are still quite at the surface, but I'm learning to deal with them instead of constantly being brought down.

         I keep worrying that I'm just going to crash down again emotionally, but this isn't like every other time. I am here because I fought, and I am progressing (however painfully slowly) because I'm still working on things. Maybe I'll get a decent amount of energy back too late to do a ton with it this semester, but even if that proves to be the case, this time will have served it's purpose on the path that I'm on.

           And I do feel like I'm doing more than I was doing last semester. I mean honestly, I got next to nothing out of a 17 credit semester. Have a mentioned that there's a reason I felt like I should run away?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A new dream, gaining strength....

        I want to get into street performing. I want to get good enough at belly dancing that others would enjoy watching, and I feel like I won't get a chance to perform on a stage without either getting really awesome at it (getting to a professional level) or paying for more expensive classes that include recital. And I love performing!
         I have no clue if this is reasonable, especially when I can't see myself doing any pure dance form improvisationally. And then there's the fact that I still have a hard time seeing myself as capable of looking graceful. So I don't know...

         But my goal is to have my first "performance" on the equinox. Which requires a lot of practice, a lot of other physical work, and sewing practice because I can't afford to buy a costume. And maybe that's too ambitious a date. But that's what I'm aiming for. ^_^

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall (and my first picture-y post!)

    I'm going to start this by saying that I don't really have artistic skill. Not to put myself down, it just isn't something I do much of. But when I have a project I wanna do, for the most part, I do it anyway. Just keep in mind that this idea would probably come out better with someone who picks up a paint brush more than maybe once a year. XD

     Anyway. It's a common suggestion to do affirmations or write a note for yourself to see every day, things of that sort. Things that to me generally seem like cheesy bullshit buuut then I'm having to change my mind about the bullshit-ness of a lot of things lately. I've equally been thinking about how I literally look at myself, and how often times I hate my reflection. It's not just a matter of how I perceive my physical self; sometimes what shows on my face seems to be how ugly I am inside. I've had a thing for mirrors recently. Wanting to see myself more as I try to look deeper.

      So I had this thought of decorating a mirror with the specific purpose of reminding myself of what I want to see. Either positive traits that I should see, or traits that I want to develop.

       Step 1: Think About What You Want To Say and Get Supplies
       I used a 12 inch circular mirror. Glittery seemed like a good idea, so I got extreme glitter acrylic from Folkart (including a clear one... a proper sealer may have worked better in places). I also used dried roses to symbolize love - especially the self-love I'm trying to cultivate -  and ground up voice tea since I associate it with free expression. I also tried to be a little symbolic with colors: green for growth, purple just because that's kind of my color, red for energy and love.
       I cleaned off the mirror (gloves may be good for this project, so the mirror stays clean), and brainstormed words on paper to describe what I wanted to see in my mirror.


        Step 2: Decorate Your Mirror
        This is really several steps in one, I suppose. Starting with my name at the top, I painted my words around the edge in alternating colors with a lining paint brush. It took a couple coats to get bold enough color for my taste. I took apart a couple of roses and set individual petals in dots of clear paint between adjectives, and tried to do the same with whole flowers next to my name. This worked on the petals, not so much for the roses. I ended up removing the whole roses and putting new ones on using super glue.
          Not pictured, but I also did a red heart over my name and a little green sprout. On the sprout, I used clear paint first, sprinkled on ground tea, let it dry, blew off the excess, and then painted over the plant-matter with green.

        Step 2.5: Glitter-fy (or at least protect)
        I painted clear glitter paint over the petals and roses to add glitter and add a bit of protection. This is where an actual sealant might be good. After I was done with the words and such, I did a coat of clear on the edge for both decoration and trying to add an extra bit of durability (since the paint only kinda likes sticking to glass).

        Step 3 (which should have much much earlier): Apply hanging
        Oh, I felt so stupid when I realized that I'd put myself in the position of having to deal with adhesive and ribbon on the back when I couldn't let much touch the front. But oh well. I used roughly half a yard of dark red wired ribbon and super-glued the ends to the back of the mirror. I then reinforced this with duct tape because, well, a bit of ugly on the back beats a broken mirror. 

        Step 4: Hang and use! =D
        I figured this mirror should be placed in a spot where I'd pass close to it, comfortably framing the face. For me this meant behind my bedroom door. I held my new mirror by the ribbon to find the proper placement, and pushed a nail slightly in to mark my place. I nailed about an inch of leftover ribbon to the wall, hung my mirror, and clipped my butterfly (for change, and it's just pretty) to the inch of ribbon.
        So this is my take on the affirmation-type ritual. Look into the mirror, morning and night. Look at my words, the words that I want to see in myself, surrounding my reflection.


         So this has been my first how-to post (kinda) and my first picture post! Yay! I'd love to hear if anyone else tries this, and if you want more of this type of thing. ^_^

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's so cliche...

     I may have to come off my pedestal a little bit. I'm not that exceptional. I'm not that complex. Somehow I seem to have this subconscious belief that I may be a horribly broken person, but I'm broken in an interesting way, dammit. At least, I can't think of many other reasons why the idea of my issues stemming from low self-worth/self-loathing/whatever bothers me so much. Well, that and calling my beliefs "insecurities" implies that they are false.

   So I don't know. It's so simple. On an emotional level, it's easy to go "there's no way it's that simple." But then, you go into science, you hear over and over again about the idea that the simplest explanation is usually the right one (Occam's razor). Not that it being the simplest answer is proof of veracity, but then, emotional response is hardly proof by itself either.

    The other thing that occurred to me is that this is markedly different from the past. I'm starting to consider the kinds of ideas and approaches that I used to automatically label as optimistic/denial-ish bullshit. Very bitterly and dragging my heels and still with a high degree of skepticism, but nonetheless.
     This is actual change. This is evidence that it's not just like last time.

      I'm moving towards somewhere new.

      There is hope.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Relationships on low esteem

    I have a hard time believing that my loneliness is simply a matter of self-loathing, but I can't justify that by any means that don't just circle back anyway. At least potentially. In my mind, I'm a worthless person who doesn't deserve to be loved. On some level, anyway. Am I right, or is it simply self-fulfilling?

    It's frustrating because I know that I was different before I learned to hide away. I can see the spiral, and how it started. At least, I imagine that I can... I seemed to take a turn for the worse when I got bullied when I started school, and the more I hide, the more rejected I became. I'd say that, well, this means that there's no inherent reason for me to be where I am... but almost two decades later, I feel like I've been broken. I developed wrong.

      I don't know. This wasn't supposed to be such a downer.

      Once again, the best plan seems to be a pseudo-scientific approach. I am in no way convinced that I'd be a better person if I convinced myself that I was a better person... but let's test that hypothesis. Let's see what happens if I try to force a nicer self image, just change that one variable...

      Because what I'm doing sure as fuck isn't working.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


    I've been told often enough that I complain about life/the world/whatever, which at least to me, implies that I blame the world for sucking. I'd find this hilarious if it didn't piss me off so much. I keep hearing that depressives have an "external locus of control;" that is, they feel like their lives/selves are controlled by external forces. I can't be the only depressive who feels like this is wrong.
    I don't believe that the power to control my life is in external forces. I believe that the power is in my hands... however (from my depressive thinking), they are too weak to actually wield it. Moreover, every failure hits as proof of inherent worthlessness. For example, if I procrastinated on a major assignment yet again, my thinking hasn't been "oh, I need to figure out a system so I get better about how I do large assignments," it's "I'm such a horrible person, I fail at everything, *commence self-loathing word vomit.*"

    I don't externalize, I internalize. I take things too personally and too deeply.

    What got me thinking about this initially was it being pointed out to me that I legitimately have situational matters that would drag me down. I work a job that I have to work at to stay half-way positive, I don't have much in the way of emotional support (or even just human interaction), I'm broke enough that I can't do what I want to do, including having to keep scaling back the scale of my travels this semester off, I'm out of shape, I lack a lot of the skills I wanna have... these are all largely things I have control over changing, but at the same time, this is where I am here and now. And aspects of it suck.
     Point being: I see myself get down, and calling it failure to get past depression, and feeling like I'm a hopeless person because I'll never actually break out of it. But there are forces that I haven't stopped yet (though I potentially could, in theory) that keep trying to pull me down. So of course I'm not going to suddenly become a ray of sunshine. And yes, I need to keep working on things like neutralizing self-loathing thoughts... but  I also need to keep things in perspective. I need to keep certain flaws and negative situations as more surface issues instead of reflecting major character flaws, and start working on them.

    Flaws like the fact that I really need to work on how I organize these posts. .... It's meant to be stream of consciousness! That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it! Until I get better and I can point back and laugh at myself.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The fear of not being good enough

    I have a couple bits of fabric waiting to be turned into a hip scarf. One in particular, my main piece, is a bit of bright red that flows absolutely beautifully. It's light enough that I'll definitely want to add coins or something to weigh it down, so it doesn't end up just bunched around my waist while dancing, but still. Beautiful.
    And I'm afraid I'll ruin it. Especially because it was on clearance and I took the rest of it, so I likely couldn't replace it. So it's just been sitting there, with me claiming to still be planning when in reality I'm just scared to actually start cutting. I have almost no experience with sewing.

    I started reading a book called Art and Fear. One of the things that it mentioned was a class where the professor at random split his ceramics class in two: one half would be graded on quantity only, while the other only had to do one piece but it would be graded on quality. The group that was focused on creating a large body of work actually came out with better pieces than the group that was worried about creating one perfect piece.

    It's far too easy to let a need to be perfect ruin all chance to actually do any good. Especially as a beginner, when many attempts - or too far-reaching attempts - will inevitably turn out badly. That's just part of the process. I guess this is all fairly obvious, but I think sometimes it's an important thing to be reminded of.  Not doing something because you're afraid it might turn out worse than you'd like doesn't make sense. It doesn't help you in the long run. You don't get better by not doing anything, and the materials are more worthless in the bottom of a drawer, never to be used, than as a failed project.

     So I'm looking at the sewing machine I've yet to use. Perhaps I will hold off a little on my scarf, because it feels like a little too far-reaching a project right now. But I think, if I say that, I need to get to work on a tea cozy or a cushion or something... something to break in my machine where I care a little bit less about things like slightly skewed seams. But I have to do something.

      This is yet another place where I need to stop letting my fear take control.