Friday, February 5, 2016

Gawl-lee it's been a long time. I don't even know what my last post was. Let's get down to the most important life updates.

In November, I went to Hawai'i with my family for Thanksgiving vacation. It was our first trip all together as a family since Benn left on his mission. (I don't even know if I wrote about that? My brother Bennett got home from Romania in October.) I woke early each morning and ran downstairs to walk on the beach and watch the sunrise. For the first time in a long time, I was excited about living. I noticed each moment and appreciated my good fortune, and was filled with life and purpose again. It was lovely and though it wasn't what we thought it was going to be (it rained most of the time we were there), I left and felt as though something had changed - as if I had changed in some small way.
I noticed this mostly on the flight home, where I had a panic attack and cried most of the way. I was dreading the life I had to go back to, which is the way that nobody should feel, in my opinion. One of the biggest things that I was sad about leaving was the "aloha" way of life, as well the Maui time. Maui time is all about "no hurry, no worry." I was all worry all the time, and I wasn't especially eager to head back to that.

The biggest problem was my job. I had plans to leave in September, and was offered a position as a sales assistant. I will admit that I was swayed by money momentarily, mostly because I was tired of being poor. Money does not usually motivate me though, but after a few months I saw that I was even more miserable than before. It takes a very specific type of personality to feel comfortable in sales, and I am not one of those people. I knew that though it would be difficult, I had to leave my company. I put in my (three) weeks notice without having anything lined up.

Weeks went by and I didn't hear from a single place that I had applied. I was discouraged. Sitting in my living room one friday night, Tim was over studying and he suggested I apply at schools in the area. I laughed it off and told him I'd look into it, but he sat there and made me fill out applications. The next week and my final week at work, I had 5 interviews for different positions at elementary schools.

I accepted a position at a school around 3 miles from my house as an instructional aide. I work individually or in small groups with kids who are behind in class, with either math or reading. I started on January 4th and it hasn't been easy, but it's always felt right. I have not felt a moment of regret since I left my old job. There hasn't been much training and my paycheck is going to receive a sigggggnificant cut, but I love my kids.

I've gotten to learn so much and it's funny to see the love I have in my heart for all of them - even the ones that are a bit rebellious and make my job a lot harder. It's fulfilling for me to see when their eyes light up as they're telling a story, or to see them finally understand a concept - and that's what I needed/was looking for all along. Prestige or impressive career moves don't appeal to me. Maybe I'll be poor forever and people will think less of me for quitting my job when I could have moved up, but I honestly don't care about any of that. I'm glad I realized that early on, instead of in my 30s or something.

The other big event that happened recently was the fact that Brianne moved home for a few months. Her mom got sick and she felt strongly that she needed to go take care of her and be with her family. It was really really difficult to hear that, because she has been integral in my dealing with depression. I fully acknowledged that it was selfish, but I thought back to where I was in early 2015 and how it was the darkest place I had ever been. Where would I be without her? I didn't want to go back to that place, but what kind of friend would I be if I wasn't ok with her doing this really selfless act? It wasn't easy or convenient to put her life on hold, but she knew she had to. And I knew I had to get on board.

It's only been a month (the longest month of my life) and it's been really difficult, but I'm getting along. In some ways, I'm doing better and in others, I'm not nearly where I want to be. I have to learn not to hold myself to impossible standards. I vacillate between ambition and not wanting to get out of bed, loneliness and satisfaction, and I honestly just have to take it a day at a time. Some days are better than others. I just remind myself that someday, hopefully soon, the snow will melt and we'll see the sun again and Brianne will come back and maybe I won't have to feel alone all the time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I have been absent for a long time. 

It's funny, the way you don't realize the things you're into until you're knee-deep, struggling to lift your legs out of something like quicksand. I am probably neck-deep, at the moment.

I have realized that I am struggling with some of the worst depression that I've ever faced in my life, and I have been for some time - since shortly after I arrived in Utah. It's that thing you feel when you're walking alone at night and you turn behind you to make sure nobody is there, following you. It's looking at the mirror as you get ready for the day and then crying on floor because you don't recognize yourself and you're disconnected from this reflection, forgetting that they are a person who has a family that loves them and friends that miss them - and that that person is you. It's fatigue and hopelessness and apathy and isolation and things that you cannot pull yourself out of, no matter how hard you try. 

That's the thing about depression - it takes you away from yourself. It insists that all of the things that you think about and that you hope for don't matter, and that it's silly to think that you can change. It tells you that you don't deserve to have good things happen or wonderful and caring relationships in your life - that you need to tuck yourself away and distance yourself so you won't be a burden to others. It robs you of the things that bring you joy, and provide meaning and passion. And it terrifies me personally because there is so much of my life that I feel like I cannot remember. It's like I wasn't even there for it at all, and I have to live it through the stories and memories of those that were with me. 

I have a few friends and family members who know what I try to face everyday, and I am so grateful for them in my life. I also have people who don't know, and show up unexpectedly and turn out to be answers to questions that I never asked out loud. I believe the force behind them is intentional, and that they're following some sort of prompting, even if they don't realize it. I know that each time I decide to be brave and honest with someone, I receive similar stories in return. Maybe it doesn't always mirror my own, but it's incredible the sort of power that vulnerability has given us to turn away darkness. 
And with each person that I confide in and that confides in me, I realize how freeing it is to say that we're not doing ok. Putting it all out there - the dark and scary things that would cause others to turn from you - has brought me closer to people. It helps me to forget about myself - to remember that we are all fighting something every day. Every day. More often than not, they're things that others cannot see, and because of this, we turn inwards and think as though we're the only one feeling the things that we do. 

Jamie Tworkowski's book came out today. It was sitting by my front door when I came home from work, and I didn't know entirely what it was about before I ordered it, but I saw it and it felt important. I finished it in about two hours. Over and over again, Jamie stresses the fact that our stories do matter, and that we need other people. This has never been more clear to me.

I'm seeking help. It's taking a bit longer than expected, but I'm on my way. And wherever you are on your journey, I hope you're on your way to getting where you need to be.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I'm not very good at being an adult. Self-care is something I've really embraced the last few years, especially as I have come to terms with my mental health issues and have tried to live alongside them instead of letting them rule me. But lately, I've started wondering if I was just using that as an excuse to straight-up indulge myself. An entire bag of pita chips for dinner? Treat yo self. Staying up late one night to binge watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Treat yo self. Going to dinner and a movie when your credit card is about maxed out? Treat YO SELF.

This isn't to say that self-care is useless, but it's just that I've been going about it all wrong. To the casual onlooker, my eating habits would seem that of an unchaperoned child at a birthday party. I count "not laying on my mattress for 5 hours before I go to bed" as my current exercise routine. I reason that as long as I'm not sobbing somewhere in a grassy field at 10:43 at night after having an anxiety attack, I'm doing alright for myself. The worst part of it all is that these things that are supposed to make me feel better aren't really making a difference at all. I feel the same.

If anything, I feel better in that moment when, after a stressful and long day's work. I'm thinking that I'm going to do something for me "for a change." And that moment is brief y'all - like the time that we've had internet vs. the amount of time that this planet has sustained life, brief.

I'm realizing that some things I would qualify as "self-care" can really be unhealthy practices that I perpetuate - things that help me believe that I'm doing the right thing for myself. It's hard to be responsible all the time - sometimes I just want to let loose and forget about my troubles.
I'm starting to understand that a lot of self-care is what we should do to help ourselves in the long run, rather than what you want to do in that moment to make yourself happy. It means eating a freaking vegetable more that once a week, it means dragging your sorry butt out of bed to go for a walk in the out-of-doors every once in a while, it means being fiscally responsible and going to bed at a decent hour and being honest and brave when you'd rather hide and everything else.

And yeah baby-child, Tom and Donna would want you to take joy in ways that are special and specific to you. But it's also important to remember to take care of yourself as a human who has a body and mind, because it's the only one you get (unless reincarnation floats your boat). You've gotta be judicious about how you balance this, and I know it's difficult sometimes, but this sort of diligence is what might make all the difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I wanted to write about something very dear to my heart. 
About two weeks ago, the organization Invisible Children announced that they are shutting down operations from their location in San Diego and instead, will turn things over to the leaders that they have in central Africa in order for those programs to continue. There will still be a small group in Washington D.C. that will work with policymakers there.

It's not the end of Invisible Children and the work that they are doing, but it's the end of everything that I knew. For those of you have been reading for a while or know me know of my involvement with IC, so of course when I heard this, I was really sad. I wasn't upset, because I understand why they're doing it. 

The point of much of what IC did in the states was to help spread awareness - the campaigns, the tours/screenings, the events, etc. We can all agree that #KONY2012 was a game changer. It became the most viral video of all time with over 100 million views in just under a week's time. I remember those days. Our victories felt so much bigger and grander than anything that we had accomplished. But in #KONY2012, they accomplished what they had intended to do: to make Joseph Kony known internationally for his war crimes. 
It only makes sense then that not much could be done after #KONY2012 in terms of awareness. There really was no need for tours and screenings anymore. People knew, but they were now faced with a decision: do they act upon this knowledge and care enough to do something about it? 

People showed that they did care enough, and consequently, U.S. troops were sent to Uganda to track down and find Joseph Kony. (As far as I know, they are still there.) 

While I agree with and support their choices, my heart feels so heavy. IC has been a part of my life for such a long time, and so many opportunities came along because of the movement. I came to know people from around the world. I was able to go to two of their Fourth Estate summits. With the club that Brianne and I started, we were able to raise over a thousand dollars in the poor college town of Rexburg for one of their campaigns. I was able to be apart of a meeting with one of our state senators to talk about why these issues mattered. I learned what it means to have empathy and to be a global citizen. I realized that I could be a leader, that I could do terrifying things, and that I could be a catalyst for positive change. IC did that and so much more for millions of people across the world.

The great thing about IC is that they encouraged creativity and advocacy and passion. They gave you the understanding and the resources to make effective changes in whatever community you lived in, no matter where you were or what it was. I will never get to be apart of anything like this again, but there will never be enough thanks in my heart for the time that I was able to be a member of the IC community. It was a beautiful time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's been a while since I posted. It's been a rather stressful time, with a lot of changes happening around the same time, so I didn't have time or energy to write. Among those changes were the fact that I finished my final college class (turns out that I was 3 credits short after I walked at graduation, so I had to take something online. It was awful.) and now I am finally a graduate; moving because my landlady was getting married; and work was busy with the holidays. Things have settled down now and I'm feeling pretty good.

Here are some pictures of my room now. It's been a great opportunity to donate/throw things away and feel that cleansing feeling. Perfect for the new year, right? I've been really interested in the minimalist movement the last few months, and I'd like to implement some of those ideas. It makes a lot of sense and it can definitely be taken to an extreme, but there are so many benefits that people have found when they embraced this lifestyle. I think it can be a positive thing in my life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I wish living with anxiety and depression could be easily explained, but it's not. All I can say is that the up and down rollercoasting (often, within hours) is exhausting. People more intelligent than I am have come up with clever metaphors and examples, but at the end of the day - they're just that - ideas that we use to attempt to compare an idea to something familiar. The dragging-yourself-out-of-bed difficulty of it all is lost in the translation.

But on those days when you are free and hope finds a way to radiate itself like sunshine through your lifestream, it feels like the moment before you open the front door, your friend waiting outside in the car to take you somewhere. Like hearing your favorite song playing in the grocery store as you're in the bread aisle. It feels like those golden hours peeking over the mountain and you're 10 years old, running around in cutoff shorts and tennis shoes with a lace that came undone. Like being on the swings pumping higher and higher before you decide to leap off, flying in the air, if only for a moment.  It feels like laughing so much that you cannot see, and later when you go to tell someone, you cannot even start the story without giggling. It feels like you had to be there. Like getting into the car and deciding to go somewhere without planning anything in advance. It feels like a day where you lived your life instead of thinking about it.

Monday, November 24, 2014