Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Shame Spiral: Vulnerability and Emotional Risk

In her TED Talk, Listening To Shame, Brené Brown describes vulnerability as "our most accurate measurement of courage." To be vulnerable means to be honest, to "let ourselves be seen." To be vulnerable is to be authentic. To be vulnerable, according to Brown, means that we have to talk about shame.

The other day one of my friends posted about fitness as she does every day, but I noticed some of the language she used was particularly triggering for me. What she said (in a nutshell) was that we have a choice on whether or not to change our lives.

What I heard from her is that we choose whether or not to be fat and lazy. What I heard, while she was trying to inspire others to live better lives, was that I choose to remain overweight. That I choose to let my pain dictate how much physical activity I can accomplish and that I choose to give into my cravings so that I can remain obese. Really all she meant was that you can make the choice to start changing things--no matter what they are, big or small.

Now I have extenuating circumstances that make these choices much harder for me. I literally cannot do the kinds of exercises that she can, because most of the vertebrae in my spine are bone-on-bone. I have PCOS, which makes my body hold on to fat like it's going to kill me if it lets it go. I am bipolar, which leaves me sometimes out of control of my own emotions and sometimes of my own will. Not to mention the pills that I have to take, which cause me to gain and make it harder to lose weight.

These things aren't excuses these are reasons. These are obstacles that cause me shame. Why? Because most of the world sees them as excuses. Most of the world believes that a real woman is a million amazing things rolled into a perfect package, two of them being THIN and PRETTY.

My friend didn't try to shame me or anyone else for that matter, I felt shame because what she said triggered something deep inside me. I'm ashamed of my weight, which makes me ashamed of myself, which makes me hate myself. Which leaves me with zero empathy towards myself and that leaves me spiraling out of control... all because of shame.

So, in the past I would have put her on blast. I would have commented on her post telling her all the things wrong with what she said (and her, if I could think of anything), leaving her bewildered and hurt. Instead, I knew there was a chance that it was all in my head, so I took my problem to her privately. I allowed myself to be emotionally vulnerable and even though the whole time my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding, I let her know what I was thinking.

She handled it like a champ. She didn't have to explain herself, but she did. She didn't have to acknowledge that maybe she could use different language in the future, but she did. She didn't have to accept my apology, but not only did she--she told me I didn't have to apologize. She was happy that I felt comfortable enough to come to her so honestly. She gave me the space to be open and because of that I have so much more respect for her.

That's what this is about. Honesty. Vulnerability. Authenticity.

Shame is a killer, but it doesn't have to be unproductive. Because of the shame I felt over my friend's post, I have taken a deep look at myself and my choices. I decided that even though it's expensive, I have to start going back to the gym, because clearly we're not getting a heater for our pool any time soon. I have realized that while I may be too stressed out to deal with what I'm eating right now, I can still make little steps to building muscle. Somewhere I can be watched and trained by someone who knows how to keep me from hurting myself.

If I hadn't gone to my friend and expressed my feelings in as constructive a manner as I could possibly muster, I wouldn't have put myself in a position wherein I could actually be inspired by her.

I've been so down on myself for being so heavy when it's not my fault. I'm not just some fucked up food monster who is trying to turn herself into Jabba The Hut. BUT, while there are circumstances which may be out of my control, how I choose to handle those circumstances are not. I cannot allow myself to fall into a shame spiral, where all I feel are guilt and anxiety over everything I put into my mouth.

My weight doesn't make me unworthy. My pain doesn't make me useless. My moods don't make me a burden. I don't have to be ashamed. I just have to allow myself to remain vulnerable and be willing to take these emotional risks when life calls for it.

I will leave you all now with 5 incredibly inspirational quotes by Brené Brown. (If you don't know who she is, check her out--her advice is life changing, and life-affirming!)

1. "Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."

2. "As a shame researcher, I know that the very best thing to do in the midst of a shame attack is totally counterintuitive: Practice courage and reach out!"

3. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. 

4. Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.

5. The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pledging Allegiance to Patriarchy: The American Flag and Toxic Masculinity

Last week I posted on Facebook for Veteran's day in solidarity with those who, because of their experiences in the military, aren't so patriotic. I posted in regret for the lack of mental health care--both in society and in the medical field. As many of us know, some 22 vets per day kill themselves.

My post was greeted with likes and hearts by some and a few people tried to talk me out of thinking the way I do. One was a seasoned vet, who I knew in high school and who when he first joined couldn't stand being there and felt that they had screwed him out of the education he deserved. Later, I guess things have changed, because he's 100% on board with them now.

Another person was young, maybe 19? He just joined the navy and is bright-eyed and bushy tailed about his future. I'm sure he's going to have a blast traveling, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. I hope upon hopes he doesn't have to see the brutal side of the military--the war part. The having to kill an innocent person with complete faith in the government who made you do it.

I'm a firm believer that society as a whole, people who make up communities and activists who fight for civil rights--they are the protectors of freedoms, not American soldiers, who are forced to go into other countries and kill innocent people under the guise of spreading democracy--which is an imperialistic-esce action in itself. Who the hell are we to decide what other people should be doing when we have homeless children starving in our own country?

Ever since 9/11 I have been at odds with everything our government stands for. Not what the good citizens who join the military think it stands for, but what they really stand for: Greed and the spreading of a religious patriarchy.

Our country has absolutely no respect for women as a whole, sure it's getting better, but our own President thinks of women as objects and he's gone as far as saying so. America is about male dominance: big trucks, piss beer and boring sports. Testosterone gone national and the flag is a symbol of this country's toxic masculinity.

I brought up these issues I have with my therapist and she said that she feels the same. The American flag stands for violence and conquest. Of greed and capitalism--of corporatism. Of the military machine. It exists to conform everyone into one image, under the almighty dollar, for conservatism, and a skewed interpretation of an old book used to keep everyone in line. If you disagree, you've gone against the grain and society will expel you.

Every time I see an American flag I feel like some dude just slapped me in the face with his dick. It's like walking into man's room covered wall-to-wall with naked ladies. It creates a hostile environment for me. I feel unsafe. I feel violated.

Instead of considering I might be right, that it really is the people in the streets raging against the machine that fight for our freedoms and not soldiers over seas killing babies, most people rage against me, like I'm a monster who hates people who make sacrifices for their families. I'm a hateful person who hates widows and mothers who've lost boys--for what? Why don't those mothers hate the government who enticed their young kids into fighting for something that has nothing to do with them?

Every day I drive down the street and I see tent cities, mentally helpless human beings pushing shopping carts around, dirty children crying for their parents. This is where our money should be--helping those citizens who make up the country whose freedoms they're pretending to fight to protect.

I'm angry. Angry because I'm the bad guy who has to tell the truth and get spit on for it. I'm the bad guy because I want to spill that fucking Koolaid and shake everyone and scream in their faces to WAKE UP.

US has killed more than 20 million people since WWII

But, my therapist says I need to let it go. That I have to accept that some people are going to guzzle that juice right up and that even though it feels like every day I'm being peer pressured into drinking, too, I have to stay strong. I don't have to be accepted by everyone, but I have to be the bigger person and learn to accept them. I just want to love everyone, no matter what, and if I have to just see people as brainwashed in order to do it, I guess that's what I'll have to do.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Little Patience

I recently read The Four Agreements--not because I'm into New Age stuff, or Toltec wisdom--and the one thing that has stuck with me (for those of you who have read it) is to not take things personally. There's really nothing new in The Four Agreements that I hadn't already read somewhere else or thought myself, and I don't think it's meant to be some profound book of knowledge.

It breaks down the human condition and the structure of society into the combination of a million little lies we have learned, tell ourselves and each other about The Way Life Should Be. It's a quick and easy read, but an excellent reminder of the simple things we can do to make this illusion that is life bearable.

In The Four Agreements, the author, Don Miguel Ruiz speaks about the dangers of gossip, taking things personally, making assumptions and the importance of always doing your best. Four things that seem pretty darn obvious in the realm of what to do and what not do--don't gossip, don't take things personally, don't make assumptions and no matter what, give it your all.

In a way they all interconnect and by practicing one, you may have practiced them all. I feel that I always do my best--whether my best is to just get out of bed and put on pants or write, shoot and edit a movie in a weekend--I never take anything for granted. And for me, that helps me always to do my best, whatever level my best is for any given day. I just need to be less judgmental of myself and to accept that my best isn't always what I want it to be. (That last sentence is my therapist speaking.)

I try really hard not to gossip. I find things slip out, but I usually catch and chastise myself. I do my best. I also find myself engaged when someone else is gossiping, but I don't like spreading what I hear and if I think about it I try to mention that one shouldn't be gossiping. It's a bad habit that a lot of us have. I think mine stems from social awkwardness and an inability to just think of something interesting to say. So I blurt.

The two agreements that I feel really are two sides of the same coin are taking things personally and making assumptions. You cannot take a thing personally without first making an assumption.

Most of my unhappiness comes from paranoia--which I believe comes from having bipolar. My neurons go crazy sometimes and shit just fires wrong. I see patterns where there may not be and I feel passive aggression from those who may not even be thinking about me at all. I feel shame where others might feel inspired. I read between the lines and although I'm quite intuitive and empathetic (and grandiose, obviously), sometimes I think I'm downright psychic. It may be real, it may not be, but the only way to be sure I don't suffer is to just not make the damn assumption in the first place.

I take too much personally.

But what if I'm right? What if that exercise obsessed lady DOES think all fat people are unhealthy and lazy? What if that guy who posted the meme against protestors DOES think I'm an Antifa extremist? What if my friends DO get extra nationalistic around patriotic holidays just to rub it in my face?

So what. What if, what if, what if, like an old friend once said to me, "you can't go tra-la-la-ing through the land of 'what ifs.'" Even if someone DOES do or say something to me out of animosity, it says more about them than it ever will about me.

That's the key.

It's not about me.

What do I do, then? I have to practice. I have to practice catching myself when I find myself getting hurt or feeling shamed or raging out. What am I feeling exactly? Where is it coming from? Often times I'll find that it's triggering something random and instead of lashing out I have to get introspective (without internalizing and hurting myself, which I have been known to do). I need to stop being so impulsive with my reactions. But also, I need patience. Not just from others; more importantly with myself.

Friday, November 17, 2017

An Atypical Thanksgiving Post

I've recently been made aware of a letter my mother wrote before she died that included some very mean things about me. Whether or not she ate her words before she died is neither here, nor there. Since then I've been pretty angry and while that may seem sad, it's actually been super helpful in my grieving process. Instead of spending all my time wallowing over what I've lost, I've been able to step back and look at what I've gained since her death. In honor of honesty and Thanksgiving, I've decided to share something I wrote several years ago.
Thanksgiving around my house is like any other holiday... a futile attempt made by my mother to gather our, what she calls selfish, ungrateful family together under one roof in some semblance of mutual affection for each other. At times I wonder if she merely wishes to recreate a time in our lives when she thought everything was fine; when our broken, nuclear arrangement pretended to wear a mask of neutrality to cover up the drunken, apathetic animosity that existed despite my mother's orders of good behavior.

I will never understand her insistence on being the main cook--her obsession with fattening our bellies with her fervent guilt basted with gravy. These tempting mouthfuls of juiciness now replaced with bitterness. 

Over the years the family has dwindled due to divorce, death, arrests and insanity. No more do we experience the array of aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, brothers and sisters-in-law, friends of family and the local kids of the neighborhood packed in our old apartment house that permeated with the scents of baked turkey, gravy, pies and cider... the scent of autumn, of family and of feigned happiness. 

Now that my mother is dead, I never have to spend another holiday hell bent on trying to make her happy, because she was unable to do that for herself. She depended on everyone else to be who she wanted us to be so that she could be comfortable in her own skin. Unfortunately for her, we were all our own people with our own minds and lives and so she suffered unnecessarily. She blamed us all for her own misery, a bed she made long before we were even born and insisted on laying in even after we were all adults.

No more guilt, no more wondering if it's okay to leave after two hours because everyone was in their own rooms ignoring each other and she couldn't keep herself awake anyway because she was a junkie on morphine before the cancer was even a blip on the radar of her life.

No more finding her sitting alone in the darkness, smoking a cigarette, hoping someone would catch her so she could manipulate their happiness into a depression that fitted her own.

Sometimes I feel like my mother was a cancer growing in my soul. From the moment she told me that I was a mistake and that she almost aborted me; to the time she slammed her ten pound bible on my chest rebuking me in the name of Jesus Christ, because she was convinced I was possessed; to the last thing she said to me: "Jennifer stop HURTING ME," when I was only trying to get her messy diaper off so I didn't have to leave her laying in her own filth--my mother has spent my entire life trying to make me feel worthless and I have spent mine trying to make her love me.

Now I'm stuck with all this baggage and garbage that I have to spend the rest of MY life working through in the hopes of pulling myself together into some kind of whole person.

But I'm thankful that it's over. I'm grateful that I now have a chance to be my own person, whoever that may be. My life no longer has to be about making my mother proud, in the hopes that she may decide one day that it was worth giving birth to me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's My Manic Hubris and I Can Be Grandiose If I Want To

I have to admit, along with using the terms "positive" and "negative" to describe people, I do not feel comfortable accepting the idea that people should just "be happy." It is that type of archaic social pressure that makes some people want to eat a bullet for breakfast.

I don't buy into mob-mentality.

For the less experienced, or for the emotionally unintelligent (or for those who have never experience mental illness), happiness is a thing to be had if only you simply made up your mind to have it.

Perhaps it is easy to make the decision to be happy, but like making the decision to take out the trash, it's the follow through that matters; then you forget and end up stinking like rotten eggs for a while before you finally get around to dumping the garbage. 

One day I realized that "happiness" is an illusion and that it is more than anyone could ever hope for (if they have eyes and ears that work) to just be content and grateful for what you have instead of dwelling on that which you do not.

I told my shrink that I get really frustrated because I feel that a lot of people look down on me; that they feel superior for whatever reason. Maybe because I cuss a lot and they find it easier to watch their tongues. Maybe it's because I have a history of drug abuse and promiscuity and they don't. Maybe it's because I "over share" and allow myself to be vulnerable. Some people see vulnerability as weakness. 

Some people disdain weakness.

Perhaps some find me unreliable and unworthy because I often generalize and become hyperbolic when I'm in a bad mood. I wonder if they realize I have yet to learn how to completely control my knee-jerk reactions. I wonder why they can't just let it slide. They have no idea what it's like to be manic--to feel like a prisoner of oneself. 
"In the case of bipolar disorder, grandiose delusions are considered “mood-congruent delusions” in that they manifest from the manic (or hypomanic) state. During manic or hypomanic phases, it is believed that brain activity changes, brain waves speed up, and neurotransmitter concentrations change, particularly levels of dopamine." -Grandiosity in Bipolar Disorder:
Usually I assume most people think I'm crazy white trash and they only keep me in their lives so that they can feel better about themselves. I’m always just on the outskirts of community. I’m like the stray dog that nobody wants to see starve, but will always be shooed away when anyone’s looking. 

I find that unbearably frustrating, because even though I'm often filled with self-loathing and insecurities I can still see how freaking awesome I am. Why can't they? Why are some people so ashamed to openly care about me?

Sometime I tell myself they're just jealous. 

But they probably aren't thinking of me at all.

I asked my therapist if she thought I was a narcissist and she told me, "no, but you have narcissistic reactions." 

It's all part of the grandiosity that can come during mania with someone who has bipolar disorder. On the surface the grandiosity seems so arrogant and uncouth, but from what it stems is a desperate need to be heard and understood. It's a subconscious defense mechanism to protect myself against feelings of inferiority. 

I find that when I'm feeling my worst my emotions are amplified by my (possibly skewed) perception that other people don't like me when I'm being myself. That often my sometimes paralyzing anxiety is triggered by the thought that I can never say what I'm thinking or feel my feelings because then people will stop liking me and I'll be left all alone penniless and friendless, roaming the streets half-naked looking for a god that doesn't exist (and even if one did, it probably wants nothing to do with me). 

"So what?" asked my therapist. "If people don't like you that's not your problem." 

"I think I make people uncomfortable." 

"Fuck that. People are responsible for their own comfort."

I'm relieved to find out that I'm not technically a narcissist. I hate narcissists.

I'm so tired of apologizing. I'm literally exhausted by all my feelings of guilt and shame. In order for me to survive I have to stop caring if you think I'm being rude or over generalizing or being hyperbolic. I have to not give a shit if you think I'm vitriolic, abrasive or crass. 

If you think I ruined your life or even just think I'm a bad influence, take a number. 

I'll be first in line.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Surveying The Wreckage

I've written about myself several times on this blog, but since I am perpetually under construction, so are these posts. I've unpublished most of them. Some of this may be old news for a few of you, but it's all from a new point of view.
I know it must seem that I'm not myself lately. I've started seeing a therapist who will hopefully help me cope with my bipolarity and teach me how to put together the pieces of my life to help me become whole and to help me see what it is deep inside me that won't stop eating away at my soul. I'm also going to get a new psyche eval, which will hopefully lead to some better medication.

For those of you who are new to the show, lemme give you a bit of background. When I was sixteen, after about ten years of therapy, I was diagnosed with manic-depression, which is now mostly referred to as Bipolar Disorder.


Go back further.

I am a mental time traveler. My memories are so vivid they consume me and I exist in them like a lucid dream. I remember my life non-linearly, disassociated from myself, the child a separate entity for whom I have great empathy.

It all stems from our childhood, ammirite? Those impressionable core years that are disturbingly under-appreciated. The years that draft our basic personalities.

My mother, both nurturing and destructive. Drugs and gangs ruled the streets in my neighborhood, and since all the parents had to work, were hooked on crack or were otherwise too indisposed to care for their kids, my mom became like a den mother. Her best friends were junkies and gangbangers.

She didn't judge, and they looked out for us. She cooked them meals and watched their kids, and they gave her weed or whatever else it was she wanted. All kinds of hard-living folks sought acceptance in our home. We trusted them and they never hurt any of us.

I didn't see it, but I remember my babysitter's boyfriend's best friend had his head blown off right outside my front door.

My parents got divorced when I was just a few months old and spent my childhood fighting over me. My mother was unfit at the time. She smoked too much pot, drank too much vodka and snorted too much cocaine. She filled my head with lies about my dad and my dad constantly tried to talk me into moving in with him.

I'm suddenly four years old and my stepfather has punched me in the face because I got in the way during one of his alcoholic rages. My mother made macaroni and cheese for dinner again. He threw the pan and all the mac and cheese flew up and got stuck to the ceiling and I cried because, fuck I love mac and cheese. He straight up punched me in the face like I was a man and knocked me right out.

I was raised standing in the corner, sometimes bruised and bleeding, peeling paint off the wall in a smokey haze while my folks partied with their friends. I was sent to bed without dinner more times than I can count.

I must have absorbed all of that rage, because I was unreasonable. I screamed and bit people (and the walls). I peed in the laps of my mother's friends. I took a lot out on my sister, who was so young and sweet and just wanted to be loved. I was awful to her.

I don't remember my first therapy session; I just remember my mom was told to nurture my creativity. She encouraged me to write.

So I wrote. I wrote little stories and poems and plays. I filled up journals. When I could stop and write in the middle of a rage storm I was able to prevent myself from beating up on my sister. I was able to keep myself from bashing my head against the wall.

I started my period when I was ten and when I was 11 my mother sent me away--she signed her guardianship over and I moved to Mariposa. At the time she had me believe that it was because I was bad and that she couldn't handle me and that living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere would be good for me. (And it was.)

But a few years ago I learned it wasn't because I was a bad seed. For some reason she thought it would be less painful for me to think that than to learn that my stepfather had begun grooming me. Decades of guilt and self-loathing for nothing.

When I was in Mariposa I was nearly arrested for getting into a brawl on the bus. I broke a window when I threw a large rock at a guy's head for calling me a "dyke." I went back to LA a week later.

So I got this diagnosis and took these drugs and I had therapy and over a period of weeks I descended into total chaos. One morning I woke up and chased all of my meds with a box of No-Doze. My mom caught me. She and her boyfriend dragged me literally kicking and screaming (and begging them to just let me die) to the hospital where I almost did die. I was in critical care for days--nobody was allowed to see me. I was almost institutionalized, but being the great bullshitter I am, I talked my way out of it.

After I was released I decided that it was irresponsible for doctors to put me on that many meds when I was only 16--my brain hadn't even fully developed yet and I was filled with all kinds of hormones that were affecting my moods and behavior. I vowed to never take pharmaceuticals again.

Flash forward to now.

I look back at my life and realize that my diagnosis wasn't wrong, it was just handled poorly. I see now that all of my actions have been textbook examples of bipolar behavior. I got so heavy into drugs and alcohol that I was literally homeless for about a year--lived in my car. I should have died so many times. I should have been thrown in jail. I could have easily killed people. I was reckless and violent and I hurt those I cared about.

I broke my sister's face. I nearly slashed my brother's throat. I threw a pan at my mother's head. One day I was drunk and sparring with my younger brother. I got agitated, which blossomed into rage and I beat him with a garden hose (he was an adult at the time. The only time I ever hit a child was when I was one myself). I'm sure I did a lot more than that, but I was so fucked up I don't remember it all.

When I wasn't angry I was "high on life": maxing out credit cards; blowing through paychecks (and men); stealing from my mom and aunt. When I wasn't manic I was suicidal. I was despondent. And when my dad was killed I was inconsolable. But I blew through the insurance money like I didn't care. I bought a truck that got repossessed and the rest went on vacations, drugs and booze.

For ten years now I've been sober from hard drugs.

Several years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had already been in a wheel chair for a time because of bad osteoarthritis that left her with no ball joints in her hips. Walking was excruciating and, because she also had advanced diabetes, her feet and legs were constantly infected. She had kidney disease.

So they took part of her breast and when they still found some markers they wanted to take the whole thing, but vanity got the better of her and she said no. Since she was unable to lay down they couldn't do radiation treatment, and she denied chemo. Well, in January of 2015 they found something in her lung, and while I was in Portland helping my husband and his mom care for his dying dad, I was informed that my mom had lung cancer.

When I got home I had a breakdown. Acute Stress Attack, they called it; I was put on a regimen of medications. I told my doctor about the bipolar diagnosis and that I felt I needed to see a psychiatrist and he poo-pood me, saying I just needed to manage my stress. The medication has helped significantly, but it's not appropriate for my problem.

The tumor took up 60% of my mom's right lung, and because she also had COPD and was already on oxygen therapy, they said surgery would leave her living on a ventilator. So she said no to surgery. She was given 2 months to 2 years. As angry and cynical as I can be, I'm quite the optimist, so we planned for 2 years.

She moved in with me and my husband for home care, and for two months we developed an incredible relationship. Taking care of my mother gave me purpose. She admitted to being happier with me than she had been in years. We had some really good times in those few months. Then suddenly she started gaining weight, and we thought it was because her appetite had increased since she had moved in with us. A week later she was having trouble staying awake, and within a few days they had moved her from palliative care to hospice care. She died a week later on January 6, 2016, in what is now our spare bedroom.

I blamed myself for about a year because I felt I had killed her. I'm not a doctor, but I've read a lot of medical journals and have researched every disorder, disease and syndrome I've ever heard of, so I feel I should have known she was going into congestive heart failure and that it wasn't just weight gain. I had no idea that I was supposed to slowly poison her to death with Xanax and Morphine and when I yelled at the social worker because Kaiser made me kill my mom she said, "no, you helped her die."

I wasn't prepared.

It was a nice euphemism.

So now it's nearly the middle of 2017. This August I'll have been tobacco free for 6 years. That and my medication coupled with poor food hygiene has caused me to gain about 75 pounds. I'm in the middle of my MFA thesis and I have a hoard of physical problems--disc degeneration in my back (all discs are either bulging or missing and there is blood in my spinal fluid; many vertebrae are bone-on-bone--thanks hereditary osteoarthritis!). I have headaches all day, every day. I also have PCOS, so I have horrible pains and mood swings on my period. I'm still grieving. And now I have the fear that our government will become a religious autocracy where the patriarchy completely takes over and feminists atheists will be the first to go. I either binge eat or I starve myself and I'm too exhausted to exercise.

These aren't excuses. They are reasons.


I'm fucking angry. I'm exhausted. I'm stressed out and I just want to disappear.

My homework for this week was to stop bottling up my anger. To stop trying to mold myself into what I think everyone else wants me to be so that I can fit in with society and be well-liked. My goal for this week was to be totally outspoken and honest about what was on my mind without concerning myself with the consequences. Instead of spending my energy consumed with how others perceive me and thus bottling up my feelings, I'm supposed to blow off some steam and use that extra energy to look inward and question my reactions.

I've come to some interesting ideas, but it's all still kind of confusing to me and I've only had two sessions... Still, I can't help but try to start putting things together. I keep feeling like I have the BIG IDEA on the tip of my tongue and then it's gone. Kind of like taking acid, realizing the meaning of the universe and as soon as you go to tell someone you forget everything.

I have to be patient.

I just wanted to share with whomever is reading because I don't want to go on this journey alone. I don't want to isolate and disconnect from everyone while I'm growing and changing. I want us to do it together so our friendships and relationships will be stronger in the long run. So far my therapist and I have discussed my grandiosity, anger and narcissistic reactions.

I am not completely devoid of self-awareness.

The stigma around mental illness MUST end. People like me need to feel like they can be themselves without having to bottle everything up until they explode because it's rude to be direct (at least if you're a woman). It's crude to cuss. People tune out when you raise your voice. Society has taught us all that the person who remains calm is superior. Avoid all conflict. Smile. Remain positive. Stay away from depressed people, they're toxic.

We have our place in the world.

This is mental health activism.