Brace for Impact

Anxiety & Depression. They’re common. They’re nothing to be ashamed of. They’re fucking pains in my ass.

Anxiety is something I deal with on a daily basis. Every single day. Even if it doesn’t look like I’m experiencing anxiety; even if I’m acting completely at ease & relaxed, it’s there. In the back of my mind, just trying to convince me that I’ve done something wrong or will do something wrong or at the very least will make a fool of myself. Every day. Sometimes it’s even over things that are 100% out of my control – anxiety over being attacked or in a car accident or even contracting some ridiculous illness. Logically, I know the odds of these events occurring are minimal. But that doesn’t stop the anxiety. It doesn’t stop my heart from racing and my chest from tightening at the slightest flicker of something gone wrong. Then the panic sets in & the tears start flowing, and even though I still KNOW deep down that whatever has triggered this attack is complete & utter bullshit – I am helpless to stop it. Helpless to control it. So I just have to wait for it to pass. Every. Single. Day.

You get used to it, I suppose. The anxiety. You learn the personal effectiveness of basically every home remedy for a panic attack – for me the effective ones are: hot baths, great music, fluffy kittens, cheesy rom-coms, getting lost in a good book, connecting with another person, and sometimes even cleaning. Feeling in control is a great way to ease an anxiety attack. And I feel surprisingly in control of my surroundings – and life – when I clean or organize something. Like I said, you kind of get used to it. And of course medication is a completely viable method of controlling one’s anxieties – I personally don’t feel comfortable with mood stabilizers/antidepressants/etc…, so I’ll avoid that at any cost, but I know they really do help a lot of people.

Depression, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. It’s debilitating and physically painful and just plain devastating. And that, my friends, is the boat I’m in today. Even as I’m writing this, the physical pain caused by this depression – the worst it’s been in over 10 years – is practically suffocating me. The disassociation & derealization I’m experiencing is so surreal that I’m losing entire parts of my day without realizing it until much later. I’m walking through a fog somewhere between feeling like everything is falling apart & also kind of not caring. Except I do. I know I care, somewhere deep inside of me, I care. Obviously. I wouldn’t be writing all of this if I didn’t fucking care.

The problem with depression is that it is much, much more difficult to manage on your own than anxiety. Sure, those same remedies I listed above can help slightly if my mood drops too far, but depression is far more than just feeling sad. You can’t cheer someone up from depression. Usually, it requires medication to balance your hormones or some shit. Or at the very least, professional therapy – but still usually a little medication. And that scares the ever-living shit out of me. The human brain is still such an incredible mystery. Medicating mental illnesses is usually just a “let’s try this & see what happens” kind of thing. It’s 2016 and with all the medical advancements we’ve seen, treating mental illness is so fucking unscientific it’s astonishing. And one time in high school, we tried something that didn’t work. It backfired. I had the scariest week of my life because for the first time ever, I actually wanted to kill myself.

I was lucky that somehow through the haze I understood that I didn’t ACTUALLY want to kill myself and I told my mom, who got me the additional help I needed; but I do know that I never want to take the risk of feeling that way again. I can’t even tell my mom what I’m going through right now because every time my depression resurfaces she gets terrified & thinks I’m going to hurt myself. I’m not. I most definitely am not going to hurt myself, physically. But it’d be very easy for me to screw up pretty much every other part my life right now. Again, I’m not. I’m fighting like hell to get myself out of this on my own. But how?

Well, this random-ass blog post, for one. Writing this is a means of expressing my experience coherently, seeing as every time I try to talk about it aloud I turn into a blubbering mess, unable to form complete sentences with real words. We are over 750 words into this ramble-fest, and the weight on my shoulders is noticeably lighter. My body feels more alert. I guess it’s working?

I think it’s really important to understand what your personal triggers are when it comes to depression. Not every depression is caused by a trigger, but it is common to have one or two specific things that really jump-start a depression & fuel the fire. For me? Chaos. And under-appreciation. The instant I feel like I don’t have a solid grip on my life, I can feel the spark of depression just ready to burst into flames. It’s like clockwork. Every time. And, ok. NOBODY has a solid grip on their life 100% of the time. It just doesn’t happen. Life is full of bullshit & curveballs and nobody, nobody, NOBODY can escape that fact. My anxiety & OCD-riddled brain, though, refuses to accept that life can be anything other than what I want it to be. It refuses to accept that anything can be outside of my own control, and when something goes wrong it essentially throws a tantrum and blows every possible fuse (those of you who have seen The Force Awakens, may have a nice visual to go along with this metaphor) and shuts down.

The under-appreciation trigger is actually something I very recently realized. I just finished reading Patrick Ness’s “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” over the weekend, and the protagonist, Mikey, is perhaps the most personally identifiable character I’ve ever read. Mikey suffers from Anxiety & OCD, although his primary concern is the OCD, whereas my OCD is pretty mild & has never really affected my life in any measurable way. But regardless of what the illness is, it’s easy to see myself in Mikey’s character. I’m probably going to write a  full review of this book, because it was very important to me – one of those books that finds you at just the right point in your life & makes a genuine impact. But anyway, one theme throughout the book is that Mikey feels like a burden to his friends and constantly feels like the least-wanted person in the room. And holy shit if fireworks didn’t go off in my brain when I read that – like the epiphany of the century. I, too, feel this way. In damn near every social circle I belong to. And I always have.

This really has nothing to do with the way people treat me, or whether or not I’m ACTUALLY unwanted in any of my social circles (I’m sure I’m wanted more in some than others, and that’s fine – just the way things go), it’s all about my perception. I’m perceiving that people don’t want me around or don’t find my contributions valuable or just plain & simple don’t need me. And to me, that is devastating. My social needs/ habits are actually highly complex. Annoyingly so. I am 100% an ambivert (smack in the middle on the introvert/extrovert spectrum), and that makes everything complicated as hell. My willingness/desire to socialize fluctuates by the day. Some days I’ll want to be around every human I know, and I’ll be the ultimate social butterfly – and some days I won’t even be able to tolerate being in the same room as my own child. Does that sound terrible? Probably, but I’m trying to be honest here. Now, obviously both of those extremes are highly rare. Usually I’m somewhere in the middle of those things & willing to socialize, but not really interested in putting forth any effort to make it happen. And then weeks go by with me like that & nobody is reaching out to me to make plans, and boom. All of the sudden I feel like the weak link, the one standing in the way, the one who needs her friends more than they need her. And that is certainly a recipe for emotional disaster.

So, this is about as far as I’ve been able to analyze my own mental health so far. From here I really need to figure out how to address my two primary triggers. I’m pretty confident that if I can get my life under more control and recognize that my friends are my friends because they WANT to be & not because they feel obligated to be, maybe I can beat this thing without medication? I certainly hope so. And if not, then I suppose I will bite the bullet and seek professional help. It’s not fair to my family or friends for me to be this constant weight just because I refuse to seek the treatment I need out of fear.

If you have read this whole blabbering mess, thank you. You clearly care what I’m dealing with & that alone shows me that I’m not unwanted. I want everyone to understand that even though I’m feeling hopeless, helpless, miserable, and a thousand other things right now, I’m in no way giving up. I have zero desire to remain this way for long. But even though my words are tough right now, I still might slip farther into this abyss before I’m able to climb back out. Maybe not, but it is a possibility. I might be cranky, and I might cry for no reason, and I might be a complete & total downer. I might have days where I’m physically unable to get out of bed, and I might have days where everything is just awful, including my ability to behave like a functioning member of society. So I’m going to apologize right now for all of that & pray that it doesn’t push you away. Because I need you. And I’m grateful for you. And I’m going to make myself better. For you. But also for me.

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[Closed] Giveaway: Passion Planner (times two!)

Well, I’ve been meaning to post my full review of  Passion Planner for MONTHS, but clearly I suck. You know what I’m gonna do to make up for it? I’m gonna give one away! Actually, let’s make that TWO 🙂 Just in time for 2016 planning, right?


Before we get to the giveaway, though, I realize you may not be familiar with Passion Planner – although if you’ve followed me for any length of time or talked to me on any platform, I’ve probably given you the schpeel by now – so let me enlighten you.

I discovered Passion Planner earlier this year, while trying to get myself organized between the blog, AdultBooklr, work, family, socializing, etc. I was hunting hard for a multi-functional tool that had space for meal-planning and a blog content calendar, among a zillion other things. Everything I found either came up way, way short, or cost way more than I could ever justify spending on a day planner. Until that fateful day when the heavens opened & Passion Planner came into my life (cue angelic background music & weird shimmery spotlight).

The planner comes in two sizes – Classic & Compact. I started out using the Classic, which was a great size for all the things I needed to plan, but kind of cumbersome to carry around & leave out on my desk all day. So when it came time to order my new 2016 planner, I went with the Compact, which I feel is the better size for the majority of the general population. Both planners in this giveaway will be the Compact size (5×7″).

Here’s a great example of how you can use the monthly planner pages. You get your full monthly calendar, a section for projects & goals, and a blank space for whatever you want/need. Over on the left, you have sections to help keep yourself on track.

Here’s a couple different looks at the weekly planner sheets. You get SO much functionality in these pages. There’s a weekly focus, daily focus above each day, schedule, to-do lists for both personal & work items, and a huge block of blank space for whatever you wanna use it for (like cute doodles). And then, of course, over on the left you have some inspirational/motivational quotes as well as a section to track all the good things that happened throughout the week.

Alright, so that’s all pretty awesome, right? But it’s not even the best part of this planner (in my opinion, at least). The beauty of Passion Planner is that it does just that – helps you chase your passions. It’s like a life coach that’s teaching you to be your OWN life coach.

The very first pages of the planner are all about mapping out your plan. What are your goals? How can you achieve them? You’re creating miniature, actionable goals for yourself, which all have one major endgame: whatever you want. There is no shortage of encouraging words or invaluable life lessons. This planner will become your guru, and you’ll see changes in your life that you never dreamed possible. But, of course, you have to USE it.

BONUS FEATURES:

  • Blank lined note paper & graph paper sheets towards the back of the planner are wide open to be filled with your thoughts, plans, journaling, priceless works of art, or random thoughtless doodles.
  • Cover is made of premium vegan leather – soft & flexible, but durable
  • Attached ribbon bookmark ensures you never lose your place
  • Back cover pocket stores loose papers & notes (I keep a pad of sticky notes back there!)
  • Paper is thick, preventing bleeding from *most* pens

If I don’t have you convinced yet, please feel free to ask me any questions about this thing. I’m clearly passionate about my Passion Planner and will answer anything within my power!


 

Ok, so now for the good stuff… well, ok, who am I kidding? It’s ALL good. But now for the FREE stuff 🙂

PRIZE(S):

  • TWO winners will each receive ONE Undated Compact Passion Planner.

To Enter: Use this here Rafflecopter link 🙂

Take Me to the Rafflecopter giveaway!

*Disclaimer: my blog and this giveaway are in no way sponsored by Passion Planner. The prizes for this giveaway were obtained through the company’s referral program, “Refer 3, Get One Free”.  All images for this giveaway are directly from the Passion Planner Blog. Due to shipping restrictions, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents. Winners will be contacted within 48 hours to provide shipping information for the giveaway. If no response is received 48 hours after initial contact is made, a new winner will be selected.

February Reflections & March Aspirations

March
Monthly Goals

February was actually a really big month for me. I started focusing on my goals & making more of a point to live my life exactly how I want to live – expending energy only on the things that are either necessary or enriching my overall life experience.

  1. Blogging.  I have always wanted to start a blog – a place where I can literally babble on about whatever I want. It’s nice to have a connection with people who share my interests & to have the opportunity to interact with anyone who enjoys what I’m writing about, but my ultimate motivator here was to just have an outlet to get all these thoughts & ramblings out of my head and into the world. I really couldn’t be happier with the impact this blog has had on my creative juices and general sense of self. I’m less than a month into it, but for the first time, I absolutely see myself sticking with it. I’ve actually tried to start blogs before, but I always tried to make them similar to the blogs I’m obsessed with reading, which really isn’t my forte. I never stuck it out longer than a month because it was just so exhausting to come up with content that I thought people would want to read.  Adjusting my expectations and theme for this blog has really made it that much easier to set aside time to write every day & I’m rolling in topics that I want to explore in coming posts.
  2. Embracing the Nerd. I’ve always known I was a huge nerd – and in certain circles, I’ve always worn it proudly, like a badge of honor. Bragging about my storm trooper tattoo or admitting how much I love Star Trek. This month I made a conscious effort to let the nerd seep into every corner of my life and stop trying separate my modern-crafty-girlie-young-mother persona from my nerdy one. I’m one person and I need to be the same person all the time.  Allowing myself to geek out about things to people I have never geeked out to has not only made me feel more like myself, but has also made it incredibly clear that those who love me have always known I’m a nerd, even when I wasn’t talking about it. They’re not going to stop loving me just because I love to talk about sci-fi or books.
  3. Purging. Towards the end of the month, I began a huge purge-fest of things (mostly clothing, craft supplies, & baby gear) that I have been hoarding for years. Getting rid of all this extra junk is easing a lot of the stress in my life & I can’t believe how much easier I can breathe knowing that I’m so close to having an orderly home. Once I’ve pared down my possessions to only those that I use or that make me happy, I can focus on decorating & making it a relaxing place that I love to spend time. Because right now, that is mostly not the case.

I don’t really have very lofty goals for March, except to keep on this path I’ve begun. I definitely have some work ahead of me in the purge department, and I’d like to see the whole project complete by the end of March so I can be done with spring cleaning by the time spring rolls around.  Some other things I’m going to be working on this month in my life:

  1. Making a Budget. We’re terrible at this. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is not a great way to exist as a young homeowner & parent. Hubby & I need to sit down this month & really look at our finances. I’ll ashamedly admit that I have no idea what expenses we have each month or what our financial situation looks like & I’d really like to get a handle on it so we can take steps towards eliminating debt & building a nest egg. There’s a ton of work that our house needs – BIG work like windows, a new roof, tree removal, and new floors – and right now I don’t see us being able to take care of most of it for a few years. If we could accelerate the timeline a bit, I think we’d both be happier. Especially the windows situation, because I can’t even tell you how high our utility bills are due to the EXTREME inefficiency of the windows. I’m surprised the rain doesn’t leak in.
  2. Starting a Capsule Wardrobe. As mentioned in my post last week, I have committed to building myself a capsule wardrobe for spring. I really think it’s going to simplify my life & leave me a lot more time to devote to my passions instead of laundry & outfit-picking. Also, it’s gonna be nice to completely curb that whole impulse-shopping thing that I tend to do.
  3. Solidifying Career Goals.  God, I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life for …well, my whole life. And I still don’t have a solid answer. I think my ultimate requirement is that I just want to do something that allows me creative freedom, as well as the freedom to work when & how I want to. I’ve got a good thing going that shows a lot of promise, so I’m hoping March is the month that helps me make a leap into something that becomes a career instead of just a job.

These all feel kinda huge & vague at the same time, but I’m turning 27 in just under 2 months & I really want 2015 to be the year where I get my shit together & start living like an adult. That’s not to say I’m ever going to begin ACTING like an adult, because where’s the fun in that? But there’s a difference between having your shit together and being a boring grown up. You can have your shit together & still know when and how to be silly or ridiculous. That’s what I need to do.

How about you? Any growing up to do this month? Being an adult is hard, but it’s weirdly fun. And it’s going to be super-satisfying to feel like my life is in order.

Until Next Time ❤

OGF Signature


 

CURRENT OBSESSIONS:

  1. Book: Silver Shadows– Richelle Mead
  2. Comic: Saga, Vol. 3 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  3. Music: Walk off the Earth
  4. TV: Gilmore Girls, Season 7 (SO CLOSE TO THE END)
  5. YouTube: OnlyLeigh
  6. Blog: A Beautiful Mess