What hurts the most…

As quickly as she could flinch, facing the anger she’d seen so many times before, he raised his arm and threw the glass of whiskey across the room, striking her in the side of the head, tearing her skin less than a fingertip’s distance shy of her right eye.

‘How about you take a long walk off a short cliff!’ he exclaimed as blood trickled down the side of her face. ‘You’re a perfectly good waste of a human life. Nobody needs or wants you here.’

She bent down to start picking up the pieces of glass that had shattered across the floor. Attempting to hide her tears, she couldn’t help but think there had to be more to life than this, that she deserved better than this. That this was the last birthday she’d spend at the helm of such a monster.

People have scars in all sorts of unexpected places, like secret road maps of their personal histories, diagrams of all their old wounds. Often times the hardest part is not knowing what we’ve been through or how far we’ve come, the hardest part is how people react. What hurts the most? I’m not sure. It’s a toss up between people not believing you, or people downplaying what happened as though it wasn’t anything at all.

That’s why people stay silent for so long.

That’s why people get away with it for so long.

Letter to a struggling soul

Dear Self,

The struggle is real.

It really doesn’t matter what others might say or think about what you’re going through, what matters is what you say and think. And truth be told, they’re not you so expecting them to understand what is happening is, in itself, a bit of a lost cause.

Remember that age old wisdom that says ‘Don’t fix a temporary problem with rash decisions’? Listen to that. You know it’s right. You know that quick thinking, or perhaps even no thinking, isn’t going to fix this for you.

The universe is testing you. And let me tell you IT SUCKS. I know it sucks. Every second of it. But, how you react, here and now, to what is happening, this will have a ripple effect throughout the rest of your life. Act wisely. Accept help where you can, give help where you can and keep going, always.

The hardest part of being in this time and place is that you don’t know when this test will end, when things will fix themselves, when things will be normal. Will they ever be normal? There’s no crystal ball to tell you for certain, all you can use for a guide is hard work and hope. Hope for a better world for you and everyone else who lives in it.

When you really stop to think about it, it’s important to be thankful for the things that you do have. You’re not starving. You’re not on the street somewhere, struggling to stay warm. You have a lot of blessings in your life that are very easy to overlook if you allow yourself to. So just remember, as bad as it might seem, you are one of the lucky ones. Because you are.

Remember how far you’ve come. Remember that this is all for a purpose. And, when it’s over, remember that you’re going to be stronger because of it. Scratch that, you already are stronger because of it. Silver linings, self, you need to remember them more often. Struggle teaches us just how strong we are. Struggle teaches us just how far we can bend without breaking. And last time I checked you were still standing, in one piece and all.

Hold on, self. I promise you better is coming. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can feel it. Better is coming. I need you to believe that. This struggle won’t last forever. It can’t. You’re stronger than it.

Sincerely,
Me

Real thoughts

I’m scared.
I’m sad.
I’m anxious.
I don’t know how to fix any of it.

Winter is weighing on me. The darkness is weighing on me. The cold, making it hard to be outside for any length of time, is weighing on me. Looking after sick people is weighing on me. Rejection is weighing on me. Not having a plan for life is weighing on me. Feeling lonely is weighing on me. Lack of steady income is weighing on me. People telling me ‘just do it, it’s easy’ is weighing on me. People saying ‘stop worrying so much’ is weighing on me. Feeling like a disappointment is weighing on me. Feeling like my problems aren’t real problems is weighing on me. Everything is weighing on me.

These thoughts, while I invariably avoid them day-to-day, every once in a while tend to pop up all at once and consume my brain to the point where I can’t do anything but worry.

And so I sit here, trying to distract myself, but inevitably, worrying more than anything else.

Christmas and anxiety

If you’re anything like me, Christmas and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Being around family is extremely stressful on the regular, even more so when they have heightened expectations of the holiday at the front of their minds.

I’m proud to have survived yesterday. I kept it cool, calm and collected the entire day. I wanted to set some people straight, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I knew the fight it would start would not be worth it. I wanted to remind people of expectation versus reality, but I didn’t. When their reality doesn’t live up to expectations, that’ll be for them to figure out. I don’t have to tell them about it.

I took a brief, one hour hiatus to hide in my room and calm down. Family is stressful, and I’m a firm believer that if you need to take a break, you should take a break.

I survived. No one fought. No one left in a fit. No one broke any dishes or threw away any presents or any of the other things that have happened in previous years in my family’s home. Everyone just existed, cohesively.

Next year, though… next year I’m taking Knight and we’re going to Mexico. Or, somewhere far, far away.

Hope everyone had a wonderful, stress-free or least-stress-possible Christmas!

Insecurities

Perhaps instead of telling people their insecurities are stupid, or to just ‘not worry about it’, we could try to help them. Perhaps we could try to empower them.

You don’t just ‘get over’ an insecurity because someone tells you to stop worrying about it. We all know our insecurities are irrational. That doesn’t stop them from being very real and very present. It takes, coping, encouragement, confidence… it takes effort. So, if someone is strong enough to admit their insecurity to you, offer help instead of your own opinions.

Sometimes there really are ways in which you an help and you might not even know it. You really don’t know what kind of a difference you could have in someone’s life until you try. So just try.

More empowerment less judgment.

I got the blues.

This is not directed towards anyone in particular (more like a handful of people in my life), this is just a culmination of thoughts I’m having as I reflect on the week that has passed.

To be totally honest, I just don’t know how to talk, or motion, my way out of this funk. I’m unhappy. Immensely unhappy. I know why I’m unhappy and there’s quite literally nothing that I can do to fix it. Not a fucking thing. This dark cloud has decided that it’s going to sit above my head for the time being and, from what I can tell nothing will dissipate the shit storm that it’s brought with it.

I’m tired of people telling me to just be happy, or just smile, or just let it go, or just go for a walk. Someone left a comment on here the other day that said ‘Perhaps if you went for a walk once in a while, rather than blogging, you’d be happier’. You want to piss me off in a real hurry? Explain away mental illness by implying that if someone exercised it would just go away.

I do walk. Every fucking day. Even when it’s -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). I walk. I run. I routinely get 20,000 steps on my smartwatch. I also listen to calming music. I try stay away from stressful situations. I try to get adequate sleep. I take my vitamins, every single day. I try to nourish my body with the food that I’m putting into it. I try to do everything that possibly I can to minimize the effects of truly debilitating anxiety. And I still have it. Go figure!

So now what? Go for another walk? Will that fix it?

I’ve had a lot of things making me angry/unhappy this week and I’ve just been trying to keep my head afloat. I’m trying to do for others and occupy my mind, but some nights, like tonight (clearly), my thoughts just get the better of me. So, let me state this explicitly for anyone who does not understand…

Mental illness is not something that can be swept away with a brisk walk in the park. Mental illness is not something that people want, choose or ask for, and it’s most definitely not something they can control. Yes, you can take certain measures that help you cope. But that doesn’t fix things. That doesn’t make someone better, and it certainly doesn’t make the issue disappear.

If all of someone’s problems can be fixed by going for a walk, or smiling or just being happy, that’s not mental illness, that’s just a bad fucking day. So the next time you want to say something ignorant to someone who is suffering, don’t. Educate yourself. Ask yourself ‘will this really help them or am I just believing what I want to believe because I don’t know any better?’

I didn’t ask for this anxiety. I don’t want this anxiety. I certainly wish I cold be normal and happy-go-lucky and always see the brighter side but that’s not real. I need to be me.

Am I kind of a bummer sometimes? Yeah. I try my absolute best to not let it get the better of me but sometimes it does. Sometimes I just need to vent and let it out. I guess that’s what this is, because people have been pissing me off this week and I just need a break, a holiday and maybe a beer.

Oh mother

Today my mother told me that I’m way too focused on being sad all the time and if I put half as much effort into being happy, I would just be happy.

‘How do I do that?’ I asked her.

‘I don’t know. You just be happy. It’s easy.’ She said.

I try not to fault her too much because she really doesn’t understand mental health issues whatsoever. She’s never dealt with them so she doesn’t know that they’re very real and very difficult to overcome. And, if you’ve never dealt with them before, I can understand why it would be hard to grasp the complexities of it.

The thing is, though, it’s not as simple as she makes it out to be.

I can’t just think happy thoughts and become happy.

I can’t just be happy.

I’m not trying to be miserable. I’m not trying to be sad. I’m not trying to feel anxious. I’m not going out of my way to make any of this my reality. And I think when people stereotype it as a choice, that’s what makes it harder for people to talk about their mental health.

I want to laugh because something’s funny, not because I feel a social obligation too based on the people that I am around. I want to smile without having to think about it, without having to force it, because of the people that I am around. I want to just ‘be happy’ as she says.

But, if I don’t face these issues that I have, these internal struggles that plague my mind, I fear that they’ll plague me for the rest of my life. If I just grin and pretend they’re not there, they’re never going to go away. They’ll be there… probably forever.

Mental illness is a difficult subject for people to talk about. If someone breaks their leg, people can see it. They can see the physical injury and understand that person must be in pain because of said injury and they provide well wishes, support and hope to said person with broken leg that will invariably help them with their recovery. But, you can’t see an anxious mind. You can’t see a depressed soul. You can’t see a distraught heart. And if you’ve never felt something that you can’t see, this is, I think, where people struggle with helping those who suffer from mental illness.

You’d never tell someone to ‘just walk it off’ if they had a broken leg. So why are so many people so quick to say ‘Just be happy’ to someone who struggles with anxiety, or depression or bi-polar, or any of the other mental illnesses. Because they can’t see it, so they don’t understand it.

Talking helps. Sometimes it really can. If you feel safe and are able to open up to someone, sometimes talking can really benefit your situation. There are people who, though they’ve never been through it, do all that they can to try to understand.

But then there are people who won’t ever understand. Because this is the kind of thing that, unless you go through it yourself, is difficult to grasp.

To everyone in this world suffering in silence, I’m with you. I understand. To everyone being told to ‘just walk it off’ or ‘just be happy’, I know that life doesn’t work that way. Please, take the proper time and resources that you need to find yourself healing. Because, just like a broken leg, you need time to cope and to heal.

I’m wishing you peace, and for family/friends that understand. But, even if they don’t, I’m wishing you time to cope, to deal and to heal. Because everyone needs that – whether your hurt is physical (and visible) or not.

Anxiety is

Anxiety is waking up with a fear that something is wrong, without having talked to anyone or seen the world outside of your bedroom. There need not be proof, or even an explanation, that fear that something is wrong always takes over.

Anxiety is jumping to the worst case scenario without reason, rhyme or hesitation because you can’t do anything but. It’s second nature. Actually, it’s first nature. It’s what you do, no matter how hard you try to break the habit.

Anxiety is being worried that you’re going to say the wrong thing to someone who really doesn’t care one way or another.

Anxiety is needing to check one, or two, or maybe even three more times to make sure that you locked the door when you leave.

Anxiety is trying to deescalate the angry customer at the register ahead of you because, while nothing is likely to go wrong, there’s always that ‘what if’ running through the back of your mind.

Anxiety is not wanting to answer the phone if it’s not in your recognized callers list because… how did they get my phone number?

Anxiety is wanting to go, getting ready to go, but not allowing yourself to step foot out that door.

Anxiety is staying quiet, biting your tongue and keeping out of the discussion or argument because… people will think you’re an idiot if they hear your opinions. They likely won’t, but you think they will and that’s enough to keep your mouth shut.

Anxiety is laying awake at night because this isn’t done and that isn’t done, she hasn’t called and he hasn’t checked in, something isn’t right and while you just can’t quite put your finger on it, you know that you don’t get to.

Anxiety is not believing you’re good enough for them, to be around them or to be loved by them. It really doesn’t matter if you actually are, you’ll never feel good enough.

Anxiety is pretending to be self-deprecating so people don’t think you’re quite as insulting towards yourself as you are.

Anxiety is not being able to explain it to them because, you know it’s irrational, so how could they possible understand?

Anxiety is believing in your heart of hearts that the stranger three tables away, who glanced at you for three seconds, is judging you. Whether it’s your appearance, your mannerisms or your clothing, or ANYTHING else, they’re just judging you.

Anxiety is believing the worst in people because it’s better to believe the worst in people and be prepared than to believe the best and be disappointed, heartbroken or hurt physically, mentally or emotionally.

Anxiety is so hard to explain. It’s… debilitating, frustrating, all encompassing, difficult to see past, through or around. The fight or flight, the constant sense of fear, it’s different for everyone, and I think that’s why people have such a hard time trying to understand. You can’t wish it away, you can only learn to cope. And hopefully, if you’re lucky, if you’re really, truly luck, someone in your life will bear with you and try to help/ease your mind.