Understanding

I understand depression

I understand alcoholism

I understand suicide

I understand substance abuse

I understand anxiety

I understand self-harm

I understand addiction

I understand sadness

Of all my understandings, what I understand the most, is that there is no cure. There is only coping. That’s all any of us really want, we wish we could cope with the feelings that lead to all the things listed above. The feelings that tell us when we’re surrounded by friends, we are an annoyance. Feelings that make us believe that life is better without us. Feelings that overwhelm our minds. Some days, it’s all just too much and we want so badly to just have a moment of value in ourselves. Or even just a moment where we don’t feel like our existence is a plague to everyone and everything around us.

I understand. I wish I didn’t. But I do.

We try and try to find that path to happiness. But every path that winds back to the same feelings just cripples us even more. Every dead end chips away at the hope we started with. How do we keep going? What’s the endgame? Do we drag others with us for support or do we learn to walk alone? Hoping, coping, understanding. What do we do with the knowledge of our own faults? We just have to keep going, find another path, cope a different way, hope for a better tomorrow.

Understand one another.

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Embracing The Chaos

I wake up everyday to the sound of my cat purring and circling the bedroom in anticipation of his morning meal. I brush my teeth and put my toothbrush in its place, I grab my “work” vest and hat from the hook where I always place them, unplug my phone from the outlet where my phone is always plugged, take my keys from the “key basket” near my door, walk down to my car that is always parked in the same space that I’ve carefully considered and chosen, and I head to work. After a few hours, I get to take an hour lunch break, I drive home to eat and spend more time with my cat. I park in the same spot, keys go in the basket, phone gets plugged in, and my cat meets me in my recliner, ready for cuddles. When I later get off work for the day, I repeat this process.

My life is pretty routine and I’ve come to learn that’s what I need to maintain. It’s comforting and makes me feel in control of at least some aspects of my life. But, I also crave spontaneity while simultaneously fearing the madness of a broken routine.

Yesterday my niece and nephew came to see “uncle Diju’s” apartment and cat (mostly cat)….now, I love and cherish these kids like they were my own blood and while I have become accustomed to the chaotic family dynamic at their home, I was not fully prepared for that dynamic and my dynamic to collide!

I found myself constantly worried with where they were setting things, reminding them “that’s not a toy”, coaching them to be nice to the cat, don’t run, they need a snack, all my food is spicy, now they need water, I don’t know the answer to any of your questions about my aquarium, bathroom break, throw that away, don’t throw that away, etc . . .

When the time came for them to go home, to say I was frazzled would be an immense understatement. All I could think about is how wonderful their mom is. How unstoppable and powerful she must be to push through everyday embracing the chaos. She’s my best friend and she’s amazing.

When I think of all the different types of moms in the world and what it must be like to love a child so fiercely that you learn to live in the lunacy that is motherhood. I find a new appreciation for all the moms who wake up everyday and find the truly beautiful moments throughout their days that remind them how special family is. I am reminded of how remarkably strong women are.

To all the Moms out there (especially mine) You’re doing an amazing job. 💚

The first month

I am coming to the end of my first month of officially being on anxiety/depression meds. It’s almost time for me to see the doctor again and evaluate myself and how to move forward. What I have learned is that the meds are definitely not a “fix-all”. They are part of a process that, while helpful, are not the only components to the solution. I feel so much more at ease about some things that have previously sent me spiraling into anxiety attacks and I thankfully haven’t had an attack since starting the medicine. I do still feel stressed and anxious, but it feels more controllable. I do still need to talk to people and process my emotions from time to time because it’s not something I can do on my own yet. But, as I’ve recently found out, in moments of extreme stress, I am able to remove myself rather than let my emotions control the situation. I’m getting better at recognizing that, sometimes, problems are created by my own self-destruction and my need for things to be “perfect”. Walking away is often times better than staying to focus on how wrong I feel.

What I am most happy and proud about is that I am able to identify and express these things in a more clear and constructive way. I am seeing the areas I need more help in and I am starting to be able to form a plan for how to better navigate my own emotions rather than having them work against me. Like I said before, it’s a process and I have a lot of work to do still. But I no longer feel overwhelmed by that fact. I no longer feel helpless. I no longer feel isolated. And most importantly, I no longer feel hopeless. 💚

How it feels to unfeel.

I used to wake up and most days I would look forward to whatever was planned. I have a good job with nice co-workers, amazing friends, a loving family, and a pretty great cat at home. Then some days I would wake up and think “I have an exhausting job with co-workers who expect me to be fun and perky, friends who will worry if I’m not happy, a family that wants to be proud of me, and a cat that I need to take to the vet with zero money.”

At some point, I began having a lot more of the latter days. It made me want to stay at home and not bother my friends, I would call in to work because I couldn’t handle the thought of faking a smile for 8 hours. I even stopped looking in mirrors because I would find myself expecting a smile back as well.

Then the guilt and self-berating would set in. I would get so angry with myself for not being able to live up to the person I had chosen to be. So I eat. Then I gain weight and I hate myself even more. It’s an endless cycle that I am very aware of but unable to control. Until now.

Now, I have seen a doctor and I have started medicine to help me. This may not be the medicine that does it. I may also need counseling, or a different prescription, or church, who knows. What matters most is I am searching for what I need.

The biggest change has been that I don’t feel as much as I did before. That may sound like a negative, but for someone who felt a hell of a lot of emotions before, it’s very comforting. I haven’t lost any of my happy, and I don’t feel numb in anyway. I’m a bit tired but overall it’s just soothing to not constantly be anxious and now I’m at a more neutral emotional start than I was previously. I never thought I would need to “unfeel” anything, but the truth is, I could never control the feelings I was having and that was something very difficult and important to admit to myself.

The world and my life have many problems, but they are not all dire and they are not all things that should be holding me down any longer. No matter what, I have people in my life who make it clear to me that I am never alone. So if anyone is reading this that is nervous or scared of starting these kinds of meds because you don’t want to stop “feeling” things, trust me when I say, it’s not at all what you expect. Most importantly, talk to your friends and family about it, don’t be ashamed, let people in your life know what you’re going through and ask them for patience and understanding. Once you begin to unfeel those anxieties, you gain a lot of perspective. This is my experience/opinion and mine alone, I do not represent everyone with a mental health disorder, but I do represent myself in saying that, so far, I feel a little less alone in the world. 💚

Blocked

Over the last few years, I have gone through many different emotions and self-discoveries. I made a decision to cut negativity out of my life as much as I could. This meant becoming comfortable with letting go of people. So, I started in the obvious place, social media. I blocked any and everyone who became toxic to me or didn’t seem to bring peace to my life.

The problem that comes with this new mentality is something I don’t hear people talking a lot about. It may seem simple and obvious, but apparently blocking people does not cause them to stop existing. Who knew!?!

Perhaps this is easier for people who live in larger cities. But here in Lufkin, it’s difficult to go anywhere without seeing everyone you know. Blocking and choosing to keep people out of your life is healthy and all, but it doesn’t cause the feelings you had for them to get blocked as well. My heart stops, drops, skips, whatever you want to call it, every time I see one of my blocked friends in public. I want so badly to speak to them while simultaneously being anxious about how they hurt me in the first place.

We just don’t talk enough about this. I still love and have very fond memories of these people. So fond that it’s sad and painful to even look at my Facebook memories anymore. I don’t go out any longer and I am always on alert when running errands so I don’t bump into the wrong someone.

All anyone wants in life is to be happy and to be around people who contribute to that happiness. But it’s often difficult to find our way through the emotional journey that happiness takes us on. Regret is not shameful. Being apologetic is not weakness. Exclusivity when it comes to who is allowed to stay in your life is not selfish, it’s a necessity, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Try your very best to hold on to the fond memories of those blocked individuals. Forgive them for the hurt they caused, and forgive yourself for letting it happen. Learn and grow, understanding that nothing is forever. All our lives move forward, friends come and go and sometimes come back, but time continues no matter what.

Time doesn’t not heal or fix things, but it does allow us to step back and gain some clarity on our lives. We learn to process and deal with things, almost like a reboot. We come through it all, a better version of ourselves. So stop beating yourself up (speaking to myself here as well) let go of the anxieties and guilt in your heart. Keep moving forward and learning how to be the version of you that you can be proud of!

Energize Yourself

How much energy do we really need?

I’ve been overweight, I’ve been thin, and I’ve been average. My weight affects my energy as well as my moods and this is something that is common knowledge. Doctors, scientists, and all kinds of experts tell us that we lack energy because we aren’t getting enough sleep, we consume too much sugar, fast food is killing us. But do we listen? Or do we just buy into this energy craze?!

I can list so many products that are geared towards giving us more energy. I’ve fallen victim to it just like anyone else. Before I started Zumba and lost the weight, I never drank energy drinks or took supplements, I just accepted that I was a rude person and I wouldn’t change. Then I started exercising, I naturally got more energy and was a much more pleasant person most days. I later found that I suffered from anxiety and depression and I had to deal with that, but my problem was not a lack of energy. It was a lack of will.

Once I became a Zumba Instructor, I thought I needed even more energy before so I started taking pre-workout, and even though I could attest to all the negative ways it made me feel, I stayed with it because, well, it gave me energy. As a result, I also had to start taking melatonin to help me sleep at night. I had become a person who couldn’t be awake or asleep without some type of aide.

I have since stopped taking pre-workout and other things like Herbalife, Thrive, or teas that were supposed to be helping me. I’ve become so much more aware of how “ENERGY” is thrust upon me every single day. Now, don’t get me wrong, having energy to accomplish life and do so feeling great is a wonderful thing. But, I have to examine how it’s truly making me feel.

I constantly think I have to accomplish so many things a day to be successful. I continually remind myself that if I’m not smiley and upbeat for people then I have somehow let them down. It causes me to wake up with dread for my day which just enhances my need for man-made energy.

This is my experience and mine alone, I don’t intend to condemn anyone who uses any of these products or truly thinks they don’t have the natural energy to get through their days. But I have to wonder for myself, why do I need SO MUCH energy?

On my own, without everything else, if I am getting enough sleep and eating well, I can tell how much better I feel. I know that if I drink 4 Dr. Peppers in one day that I will have trouble sleeping and will wake up feeling drained. I know that my health is directly related to my overall well being.

I have recently had some problems with my stomach that I still haven’t seen a doctor about. This has forced to to give up soda, fatty food, grease, and sugar. It’s only been a week and I feel like I am withdrawing from a major drug. In a way I am. But I don’t want to continue this way. I want to let go of my constant need for energy and my cravings that are manufactured by companies to keep me eating their junk.

I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but I have to try for my health. I have to wake up and realize that I can have natural energy, all on my own, I just have to.

Rose Colored Lives

There is a new social media challenge going around. It’s a challenge where people post a photo from years past alongside a recent photo. What I’ve found the most entertaining about this challenge is the use of filters on all the new pics. I myself did the challenge and (although it was an ugly filter) I also had a filter on my recent photo. I think it’s so interesting because it truly mirrors our lives and how we conduct ourselves on social media now.

The filter I’ve used in the picture with this post is a very popular one. It’s from Snapchat and it takes away wrinkles, thins our faces, brightens our smiles, and adds a rose-like tint to the picture. Some may call it Sepia, but for the purpose of this post and keeping in line with my title, we shall say rose colored.

My generation and younger are all about a good selfie. We have filters, light rings, face-editing apps, and selfie sticks to help us get the perfect photo. We post and bask in the incredible feeling of likes and compliments we get, until the moment passes and we have to create another like-worthy picture for our friends.

This is because we are the most insecure and self-loathing generation ever in my opinion. If you look closely, you will find people who are overweight and unhappy with themselves, only posting photos from the neck up. You find people whose profiles only have photos of their pets or children because they are unhappy with their appearance. I have scrolled through so many instagrams that were full of only selfies, but not a single one without a filter. This is all a product of being told we have to fit a certain mold or represent ourselves in the best possible light we can.

I am a product of this mindset as well. But, I decided long ago that I would love every picture of myself, with or without a filter. Not only that, but I would never want to meet someone in person and not be recognizable because they only saw the filtered version of myself. I love a good filter as much as anyone else, but I also love all of my wrinkles and the things on my face that remind me of my dad and my grandpa.

I am challenging myself this year to not only use less filters, but to also stop filtering my life. The lives we show the world on social media are just like that rose colored filter, we edit and delete all the problems we wish weren’t there. I have been on a journey for a long time to become as transparent as I can to those around me. I want my friends and family to know and understand my struggles as well as my triumphs.

I think we could all benefit from being a bit more honest with each other and ourselves if we dropped the filters and truly saw life, with good and bad. No matter what color it ends up being, at least it’s real. Right?

Confidently Insecure

I recently dyed my hair black. My hair changes periodically but generally stays in the pink or brown range. Now that the color has had a few washes and looks less like I dipped my head in an oil pan, people are starting to compliment the change. I always confidently say “Thank you!” Followed by some reason or validation as if they are already condemning my choice in their head. Similar to when people compliment my weight loss and I feel the need to say “thanks, I’m still working on it.”

We have created this bubble around ourselves that cannot accept positivity without always acknowledging the negative as well. I am the most guilty of this the older I get. Which, to me, is so strange. With my age I have become more confident and authentic, but it seems that I cannot be those things without also allowing more room for insecurity and double-guessing as well.

I even posted to my Facebook today about people who comment on my political posts with positivity while still feeling the need to defend their entire belief systems in the same statement. We won’t let ourselves say “I love that idea” without “but I don’t agree with everything else.”

In my experience in retail, we are trained to coach our teams and co-workers. We are encouraged to always focus on what people are doing well when they are struggling to first learn the job. We are not trained to constantly remind the employee of their shortcomings. (Although I have worked in places where this is the norm)

I get it, we live in a place and time where every opinion and statement is scrutinized. It’s a need we have to qualify ourselves at every conversation and with every choice we make. I am guilty of it myself, just admitting my guilt in itself is doing the exact thing I’m talking about. I am just now opening my eyes to the fact that, myself and so many around me do this.

I see it and recognize that I think it’s unnecessary, so I am going to make an effort moving forward to own myself and my views. I will take compliments with pride, I will love people and things that don’t align with my own personal agenda, I will stop trying to make the world understand every aspect of my being. I will try.

That’s all any of else can really do, is try.

Life of a lazy Millennial

I’ve worked in retail for 10+ years. The majority of my employers have promoted me within the first 3 months of my employment. I always get good reviews on my evaluations and my assessments. I’m often commended on my work ethic, customer service, and people skills. Every company is the same format, so once I figure out what the terminology is for a particular brand, it’s fairly simple to adapt to be the employee they need.

I recently left my job to pursue more Zumba and a costuming business. I have technically been “unemployed” for a few months and now, due to being “financially unsuccessful,” I’m reluctantly rejoining the workforce. I say reluctantly because of everything I have experienced working for corporations and different brands.

You see, every company I’ve worked for has loved me and promoted me until they stop and look at who I am. What they see at first is a smart and hardworking man, someone older than the 18-22 year olds they tend to hire. Someone who listens, absorbs, and applies their policies and practices. Then they give me more responsibility, they are always impressed how quickly I pick up on things like scheduling, inventory, and payroll. They are less impressed when they look closer and see that I am an advocate for employees. I learn the company policies and procedures and they love that until I turn the critical eyes towards them.

What companies truly want is someone to recite a script of equality and acceptance in the workplace, but they don’t want someone who tries to uphold that standard.

Living in Lufkin, there are so many employers who choose to run things differently than the company standard because we are so far from the district managers that our stores rarely get visits. When visits do happen, everyone is prepped on what to do and say for that short period of time.

I don’t want to be a part of that system any longer. It kills me inside to hear the way other managers talk about their employees and to see the way they treat them is even more terrible. I make mistakes myself, I don’t always handle situations in the best way, but I always strive to grow and get better. That is not encouraged behavior in my experience.

I say all of this because I have made a choice to not stand for this anymore. I am direct and open about my experiences and I refuse to go on lying for the sake of finding a job. Since I have been unemployed for so long and I’ve had to move back with my parents, I am labeled a lazy millennial. People are now telling me that I am entitled and whiny. I’ve been called a victim and accused of wanting everything without working for it, au contraire my friends.

You have to stop belittling my generation for wanting more. We will work hard, we do want to be successful in what we do. But not on your terms, not at your price, and certainly not by your measure of success.