growinghumans


The anatomy of an anxiety attack
August 29, 2014, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It is 7:45 pm. Eastern standard time. Monday evening. 

The audition is at 8. 

The audition that I have been clutching to my chest for weeks and perhaps even months. 

The audition that has been acting as my talisman to keep me moving forward forward forward and to not stop moving because if I stopped moving the enormity of my depression would get a chance to engulf me. I could feel it nipping at my heels. 

It is now 7:47 pm. Eastern standard time. 

My husband is delayed. He was caught up at work. He will not be home until 8:30 pm. I have no one to watch my Tiny Human to allow me to leave the house. 

I am going to miss my audition. 

I am going to miss my chance and though it may seem small and trivial to hopefully everyone else in the world, it was for a fleeting moment, my world

My chest seizes up as I watch the clock turn to 7:50 pm and then 7:51. 

My breaths come in gulps and I feel the water pool onto my eyes. Tiny Human is downstairs watching tv and will undoubtedly hear the commotion that is about to escape from my body but there is no time to shield her. It is coming and building and suddenly 

I am on the floor. 

I am curled up in a shape that some call fetal but I feel more like a lima bean or one of those snakes that eats its own tail. I am sobbing and gasping for breath and clawing at the skin on my arms.

My skin feels hot, itchy, too tight. I am not meant to be in this skin. Something has gone wrong. I am not supposed to be here. 

I am moaning words. Do I get nothing in this life? What have I done to deserve this? I cannot do this any longer. I will not do this any longer. 

And, just like that, depression takes the opportunity to wrap me in her cold embrace. To whisper to me, that’s right. You get nothing. You are nothing. This is all you will ever be and it’s not enough for anyone. 

We lay there for some time, my depression and I. My heavy sobs slow to quiet whining. My gasps for breath punctuate each moment. I stare into space, feeling how excessively heavy my limbs feels against the floor.

Anxiety has passed the baton successfully to depression to run the remainder of this relay race. 

As my chest loosens up and the air flows more freely, I am aware of the child. She is sitting on the bed, above me. She is watching me, without alarm or fear. 

Mommy, why are you so sad? 

We have spoken about this before, you see. I let her see the sad. I shouldn’t, and I know this, but it is something I do. 

“Everything”, I tell her. “Everything is making me too sad and I couldn’t stand. I had to sit down here on the floor for a second.” 

She blinks. 

Everything is making you sad? 

It seems so trivial when a child repeats it. Surely not everything; but I couldn’t articulate anything in particular. It was the world. The world presses down on me, brake checks me. 

I simply nod. “Yes, love, everything.”

Silently, she climbs down off the bed and curls her small body inside of mine on the floor, mimicking how I can only imagine she would have been while inside of me for those 9 long months. 

I wrap my arms around her tight and realize, of course of course of course, that she is my talisman. 

Of course. 

 

 

 

 

The next day I get an email from the director at the community theater. There is a specific role they have in mind for me and would I still be interested in reading for it? 

 

 

 

Screw you, depression. I get something. 

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A post that I feel like I need to write, but I don’t really want to read.
August 13, 2014, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know that I just posted Sunday evening, guys.

But so much has happened. Robin Williams killed himself.

And I am so sad and so angry about it.
Everyone is writing about mental illness awareness and reaching out to people when you feel the darkness and/or the monsters creep up your spine.
I know this feeling, most severely depressed people know this feeling.

It’s terrifying in its familiarity.

What is more terrifying is when you don’t notice it.
Robin Williams was the man of a million faces. What a perfect defense mechanism against yourself; if I am not a real person 90% of the time then I only have to deal with my own terrible thoughts 10% of the time.
People often wonder why the funny people, the comedians, are the saddest people around.
To hide. To forget. To ignore.
That is why.

But, like most drugs, the more you use a mechanism, the harder it is to come back from it.
Years and years of relying on other fake identities to push through life will corrupt your coping skills.
Poor Robin.
Poor Robin must have woken up yesterday alone.
I don’t mean in the physical sense in that no one was around him to hold his hand and help him through this crisis.
I mean, his mind was quiet. There was no screaming old lady, no Jewish tailor, no Genie to lead him away from the monster that had been clutched around his brain stem for years and years.
He was unarmed, you see. The worst kind of alone.

Suicide prevention is important; depression treatment is even more important. People walk around every day, smiling, with monsters on their back–like ticking time bombs. Maybe they drink, maybe they use drugs, or maybe they hide beneath a happy facade.

The happiest people aren’t the most depressed; the most depressed people are just the best actors.
If you stick a person in the jungle for 10 years alone with a bow and arrow, that person is going to be the best archer you have ever seen. Humor was Robin’s survival mechanism. He wore different faces so that his depression could not recognize him.
But what has happened is that expert archer was thrown into a cave with a dragon and only given a sword.
Maybe he brushed off therapy. Maybe he thought just taking medication was enough. Maybe everyone around him just simply bought his charade.

But poor Robin was unarmed against his monster and that is the biggest tragedy about this.
I don’t care if he hanged himself with his belt and slit his wrist. I don’t care if his toxicology reports come back with drugs in his system. I don’t care if he had just completed another round of rehab.

Robin Williams is dead and that is unacceptable to me.

If you are feeling depressed, go to a therapist. Do not wait until you have suicidal thoughts and rely on a 1-800 number. When you are at the point when you are having suicidal thoughts, you will forget what a phone is, most likely. Take care of yourself. Acknowledge your emotions and deal with them in real time. Do not be afraid of your mind.
For Robin.



On thinking happy thoughts
August 11, 2014, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The world seems too heavy lately. 

I keep seeing “positive challenges” on Facebook and “100 days of happy” campaigns on Instagram.

I know I am not alone in this. I know I am not the only person out there that has to consciously notice the things in her life that make her happy.

 

And I know I am not the only person aware that this is a false sense of happiness. Thinking  you should be happy in a moment is not the same as organically being happy. 

As a society, I think we are blurring this line too much. 

Last month, we took a family vacation to Maine. It was glorious and beautiful but I still found myself pulling out my phone to take pictures of things that I should have been singularly impressed with, but instead required validation from the internet to confirm my satisfaction. 

We all know we use our phones too much, though. This isn’t a new thing. We just all ignore it. 

But guys, we are all just so unhappy. It’s not even about the phones in our hand–I think we’ve all forgotten that we are present

This isn’t the Matrix. This is real life. You can touch the things around you and breath the fresh air and swim in the cool waters of it. 

I’ve been so unhappy recently. And by recently I mean the last few years, but let’s not get into the mathematics of things. I’ve been short of patience for everything around me, all the people, all the things, time itself. I loathe what I have let myself become–which is a spiteful regretful person and you see, don’t you see, how that is a viscous cycle in which I just sit on my couch, waiting for things to change and hating that nothing has changed? 

Everyday, every Monday, every first day of every month, I tell myself that I am going to take steps to be happy. I want a simpler life. I want a life full of travel and adventure. I want to get back into school if only for the basic purpose of learning something again. I want to be Belle. But I cannot seem to jump start myself. I have all of the bridge pieces lined up before me, but I cannot take the first step off of the cliff. 

I think that I am so terrified that I am not even aware of it. It is all-consuming and has adapted into my life so seamlessly that it is just how I live. Like The Silence from Doctor Who. 

 

My husband has told me to take smaller steps; to ease into the happiness. To trick myself into being happy. 

Today, I sat down on the couch and watched Hook with my 3 year old daughter. I watched the movie and I watched her watching the movie. 

Do you ever do that? Just watch your child? I do it a lot and I caught myself doing it today and thought, “I am not a secondary character. I need to reengage.” 

I moved closer to her. I asked her questions about the movie. I held her hand.

But, most importantly, I watched the movie. 

I think what has  happened with my life is that I have allowed myself to no longer be the main character in my story. 

I need to stop needing validation. 

I need to stop viewing things through devices that are not my eyeballs. 

I need to stop reminding myself to be happy. 

 

I need to reengage, and you probably do, too. 



We are going to talk about a hard thing today.
August 4, 2014, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My dear, Tiny human.
I have been trying to find a way to talk about bullying for quite some time but everything I seem to say about it seems cliche; forced.

Yesterday I learned that a friend I had while growing up passed away. I do not think he passed in a very dignified manner and people will say what they will, but I am not here to talk about how this boy–this man, died.

I am hear to talk about how he was kind to me.
When I was younger, not too young but in the harsh youth that happens when one hits middle school and puberty, I was bullied.
I was bullied because I was different and shy and maybe a bit clever. I wore bright colors and baggy pants and wore beanie babies on my head. The girls that all dressed the same and smelled the same started rumors about me; they isolated me from happiness at the time when I needed it the most. I was very alone.
I entered high school feeling the same way.
But this boy, this popular, football playing boy, was always kind to me. I remember him always asking how I was; was I ok? Was anyone bothering me?
His kindness set him apart from the other “popular” kids at school and I was amazed at it. I am sure he was kind to everyone in this same manner. I am sure it wasn’t just me, but at the time it felt like just me and that was enough to build up my self confidence. When a popular boy is nice to you, you will feel special. It isn’t the correct way things should be, but it is how things are.
I saw this boy, years later after graduation. He was still kind.

I suppose what I am saying, Tiny Human, is that in life you may be bullied. It will feel like you are drowning. You will not only feel alone, but something far worse–you will feel like everyone is talking about you all of the time. You will feel like there is something fatally wrong with you.
Bullies cast out darkness in this manner. They are full of unhappiness and hatred and want to see weak people suffer. Walk away from them.
Find the people that give off light.
Follow those kind people that make you feel bigger than you really are. Stand next to THEM.

Or better yet, become one of those people.

Because it is the gentle, subtle kindness that will pull you through the darkness and the least you can do is turn around and extend your hand to whoever is following you.

The world leads us to believe that to get through dark times, we must garner inner strength. We must find something deep within ourselves and get through the hard times.

No one is able to get through bullying alone. I will say this with sincere honesty. I was tormented and the only way I survived was through the surprising and unnecessary kindness of people like my friend who is no longer on this earth.

I will always remember this young man as someone who was kind when everyone was cruel, and that is the perhaps the best legacy to leave this world with.