Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Just another reason I'm an outcast

It's the end of yet another Pride month, another year has past, and another time when I've thought, it's not my time to tell my story. Not my time to "come out". Well, maybe I should anyway. Is there really ever a "good time" for anything that may come back to bite you in the ass? No. So hello internet, it's me. What, you didn't know I was in a closet? Neither did I.

I finally figured out that I am asexual... about 2-3 years ago. I'm 42... and a half. I didn't know what asexuality was until about maybe 5 years ago. I never learned about it in school. Come to find out asexuality was still considered a mental disorder up until 2013 by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Dang. It was never talked about in any of my social circles. I never knew there was an actual scientific sexual orientation that I actually identify with. Look at me, look at me, I fit into a box! It's a tiny box. Only 1% of the entire worlds population are asexual. 1. One. ONE PERCENT. It's a tiny box, but if I fits, I sits.

Now coming out as Ace, as we call ourselves apparently, is no real big deal. I doubt I will be persecuted in any way for being Ace. We're known as the invisible orientation. We blend in. We are a small group. Majority of people don't even know we exist. I didn't for a very long time, see above. I see all these young people on social media being proud ace's and I'm so jealous. They know what they are. I knew who I was as a teen and young adult, don't get me wrong, but I thought I was somehow just so awkward and weird, and that I wasn't worthy or deserving of a "partner" was why I was 99% of my life single. I thought there was something wrong with me. God bless the internet.

These kids know there is nothing wrong with them. They're just ace. And eat cake.

Okay, let me explain, in case you are ignorant like I was.

What does asexual even mean? Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof. It may also be categorized more widely to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities. These sub-identities are wide ranging from aromantics, grey-sexual, and demi-sexual, and can be across all spectrum's within the LGBTQ. You can be a gay ace, a lesbian ace, a trans ace, bi ace, or like me, a hetero ace, etc.

From here down, this is my life and experiences with being ace. Like stated above, there is a wide range of ace-ness, and this is just mine. So growing up in a christian religion that taught sex before marriage was a sin, I had no problem with abstinence. I had no desire. It just wasn't there. I thought, geez people it's not that hard, why you getting std's and making babies? I didn't realize I was wired differently then. Well, I thought I was to socially awkward to even attempt dating. I didn't realize I didn't want to date was because I just didn't want to. I never dreamed about getting married. Never wanted to have children. I don't have a biological clock. If given the option of sex or cake, I'll take the cake every time.

Ace's don't desire or even need sexual (and in aro's, romantic) relationships to feel whole or fullfilled or complete. And so in my youth and early 20's I even questioned whether or not I was even a heterosexual. Maybe I am lesbian? I obviously don't feel sexual attraction to guys. Maybe I like girls? No. I don't. I feel even less sexual attraction to women, if that's even possible.

I've had a total of two boyfriends. I'm 42, remember? Two. And I don't even think the first one should even count because we were in the 5th grade, and all we did was hold hands a few times and hang out at recess together and make fun of his best friend. The other one was in college. And I had to be told, quite bluntly, by several friends, that he was interested in me. And I tried so hard to be like hey look at me, I'm normal, see? Look I have a boyfriend, I'm not gay (yes I'm calling out my own ignorance here). I'm not weird. Look, I'm normal. I'M NORMAL! But dang was that hard. I had that one boyfriend for two years and that second year was spent in misery because I was too scared to break it off. Not scared for my safety or anything like that but I didn't think I had a legitimate reason. Oh younger me, if I had only known then that you don't need a reason at all. Looking back now, I can see why the entire relationship was so hard and all my flawed thinking. But I didn't know. I do now. And understanding and learning what my sexual orientation actually is is so liberating.

It was very similar to the feeling when I was medically diagnosed with depression. I knew I had it, but the validation from several medical professionals was freeing. A weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew what I had, for realsies. Same with realizing I'm ace. My life made so much more sense.

I'm not a freak for loving the fact that I'm alone. Ace's fill their needs for social human connections just like everyone else. We have friends. We just don't need friends with benefits. And no, it's not a hormone imbalance. It's not a fear of sexual intercourse. No, it's not painful to have sex. And no, it's not from a sexual trauma. It's not a condition. It is a valid, normal sexual orientation.

What I and other ace's get tired of is everyone else. Our society is extremely sexualized. You all are obsessed with it. It's everywhere. It's how most products are advertised. Sex sells. Isn't that the saying? Just watch any commercial or print ad. How are they selling the product? Wear this, buy this, drive this, eat this and whatever sexual orientation you're into will fall at your feet. Even products that don't push sex down our throats are still advocating or insinuating generally the heteronormative sexual lifestyle. And by that I mean, if it isn't selling you sex, it is selling you a sexual partner, marriage, a family with kids. If you're renting or buying a place to live and you're single, it is presumed it's a bachelor pad, temporary, until you meet your significant other.

You know what we really hate? The "Oh you just haven't met the right person yet". Pity. We hate pity. So sorry you're still single. Please. You have no idea how happy I am that I don't have to deal with any of that shit. You all are like, oh my god, I'm so sorry, you haven't had sex in how many days? Uh, try decades. I love the fact that I don't have to share a bed. I love that I don't have to depend on or be depended on for any type of sexual or romantic adoration, need, or desire.

But sex is everywhere in our culture. 99.9% of TV, movies, and even literature is sexual. If the two lead characters aren't together it's either because there is some sort of angst or they have other partners. All the supporting characters have partners or desire partners. If they are single, it's not because they are ace, it's because they have some sort of "flaw" that prevents them from having a sexual partner. I always found it so alien to me why characters were hooking up when they do in media. Why are they having sex right now? I don't get it. They haven't even solved the murder yet. They just met like 20 minutes ago! Now I get that it's just how you 99% think all the time. Do you not find it exhausting thinking about sex all the time? I mean, give it a rest.

I'm happy that I am single. My life is fulfilled. I am a complete human. I never understood the "not a full person without your other half" thing. Like I'm somehow not a fully fleshed person unless I have a sexual or romantic partner. Screw that.

Now don't get me wrong, I can and do enjoy tv, movies, and books with sex and romance. It's been streamed into my eye holes forever. That is again 99% of all media. I mean seriously, how many books have you read or shows have you watched that had an ace lead character? Hell even an ace secondary character? I'll wait...

And before you ask me way to personal questions and you're actually interested in what I just said. Start here:

Then we can have some conversations.

Last thing, the "A" in LGBTQIA doesn't stand for "ally". It stands for me.

So this socially awkward, middle aged, crazy cat lady is trying to wear her scarlet letter with Pride. Step one: step out of the closet and say hello.


Another video you may find interesting and entertaining is Anthony Padilla's series called "I spent a day with" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW29J3nxjis

Monday, June 15, 2020

Wait, what?

As you can see I'm not consistent here. I do have ideas, but I never take the time to write them out. Mostly because I know that it will take time and effort and these days I just don't have the patience. Or maybe don't even have the desire. But when I do actually write something meaningful, at least meaningful to me, I feel better. But just like I know that I will feel better after I go for a run, doesn't mean I'll go and actually do it.

I don't even have the patience for watching tv shows or movies. There's a ton of shows and movies that I just sit here and scroll through and just say, eh, I don't feel like sitting here to watch something that's 45 minutes to 2 hours. I can't even read a book. And I love books. How did my attention span shrink so much in like two years time?

I do watch a ton of YouTube though. I'm on there almost every day. The other day I was watching an interview of Neil deGrasse Tyson. And he said something truly profound to me. He said "Create meaning. Don't spend your life searching for meaning". Those likely weren't his exact words but that is what I paused the video and typed into the notes on my phone. I, along with so many of my generation struggle with is finding purpose and meaning to our lives. Always asking what's the point? Why? What is my purpose? What am I meant to do? Those questions and many like them constantly run through our brains like its an infinity loop.

Stop searching. Make it yourself. That's hard to do. I also recently took the survey to get sorted into a Hogworts House on the Pottermore site. And I got very upset that I was placed in Gryffindor. But there were so many answer options to questions that none fit. So I still think I'm in Ravenclaw.

Then today I watched a video on the differences between INFJ and INFP from the Myers Briggs personality thing (yes I know it's flawed). And I never could figure out which of the two I fit into and thought "hey, this video may actually tell me" but nope there were like six points and I fell evenly three on one side and three on the other. No wonder I'm so confused all the time.

Constantly searching for purpose and meaning and never fitting in to any one group anywhere. Not at school, not into particular personalities, zodiac signs, or even Hogworts.

I'm just a middle-aged adult baby, lost at sea with one paddle stuck to one side of the boat so all I can do is go in circles.

There's a Twenty One Pilots song about this. Of course there is. But I won't nerd out on you about it here.

I'll just be in my little one paddle boat trying to figure out how to stop the infinity loop of my life and start living my meaning, my purpose, my creativity. Now where to find it...

Sunday, May 31, 2020

My little Sweat Pea

I don't know why I didn't post this. I had actually forgotten I had written it when I did. So I guess I should polish it up and send it out to my little world. I wrote it way back in January.

I didn't think I was going to loose her later that day when I and my dad took Miss Grace to the Emergency Vet. I thought they would figure it out, give a shot or something, or say it will pass and she'll get better over time. I really did. Instead I spent over $800.00 for tests, blood work, and ultrasounds that didn't answer the questions I had and as the day went on, the weaker she became. She wasn't going to get better. There was no miracle shot. There was only the realization that my cat was dying... quickly. And so after all the tests were done and the results were given to me, I decided I needed to say goodbye and end her life with dignity. It was not fair to her to make her live the last few hours or days it would have taken for her to die naturally in a state of fear and anxiety. The doctor assured me she was not in physical pain, but still. That's no way to live.

I had a thought after her death later that night after I brought her home and we buried her in the backyard. That she died very much like her OG human, my mom.
My mom knew she was going to die that day and had the night nurse call my dad who then called us and we all went to her. Within 24 hours of my mom telling the nurse to call her family, she was gone. And just like my mom, within 24 hours of Grace's first symptoms, she was gone.

Miss Grace was 14 and a half years old. In cat years, she was an old lady. I often called her a cranky old lady. She often looked cranky or perturbed. Her adopted brother would annoy her and pester her. So she would return his annoyance and pestering with hisses, growls, and very sharp claws to the head.

It was never figured out what was killing Miss Grace. But there was swelling in her brain which caused her almost complete and sudden blindness. Was it just swelling? Or more likely I think, a growth or tumor in her brain that finally grew to a point that messed with her nervous system and such in her brain. Because she wasn't just suddenly blind, she was also confused, disoriented, and felt like to me that she didn't know who I was either. She didn't know who her adopted brother was.

We'll never know. She wouldn't have lived long enough for the MRI to be done, which would have been the next thing.

But also like my mom, when I went back to see her to say goodbye and the tech brought her to me, I could see that indeed she wasn't in physical pain, but she was also no longer there. The Grace I knew was gone already and just a shell was left. My mom was gone before her body stopped working.

Seemed almost fitting that Miss Grace and her OG Human before her, both left this world similarly. Painless, peacefully, and quickly.
Miss Grace died January 26th, 2020.

It took Mr. Quirk, her annoying adopted brother a few weeks to mourn her. He really did miss her. He would search the entire house looking for her. And a few months for him to adjust to being the only cat in the family. I realized that for as long as I had Mr. Quirk, he was never the only cat until now. I adopted Quirk with his gay lover Tom. And when Tom died, I moved Quirk to Grace's abode (my parents house).

I do miss her on occasion and I am glad and thankful I still have Mr. Quirk in my life. I am a crazy cat lady. I have embraced this fact of life, and am a better human for it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

My Coming Out Story

Happy Pride month!!!! Oh right, that was a while ago. Quite a while ago. And I'm not gay. Yes I know I dress myself in a very stereotypical lesbian way. It's comfortable, dammit. But I did learn that technically I am part of the LGBTQ+ community (I'll give you a hint, I'm one of the +'s. Also let's be honest, there are sooooooo many letters now, I'm fine being a +. Also also, it's positive. ahah hah hah yeah...*cough*). There's even a flag, just for me.
But this isn't about a sexuality or gender coming out story. It's a religious one.



So uh... I'm not religious. *gasp* No. How could you. How dare you.

Yup, I said it.

If you're a reader of mine, or know me personally, like, for realsies, then you would know that I've been dabbling in the dark arts. As in (insert movie trailer guy voice) a world in which I choose to live and dictate what I want and need to believe in. And sorry to everyone who helped raise me to be that good Christian girl, but now that I'm middle aged, I have the guts to rebel, I will. And say, uh no. I don't believe in that god, or that other god, or that one over there either.

Besides all my aunts and uncles with whom I don't have a strong interpersonal relationship with, through no fault of their own mind you, all of my familiar elders have passed, except my dad (he's a cool dude). My mom and all four (and a half) grandparents are gone. So in a sense, there is less guilt to be felt because there are less people to disappoint.

This idea of "coming out" came to me because of a YouTuber I occasionally watch asked his viewers a particular question. A very important question. One that everyone should know the answer to. And one that sometimes takes many many years to figure out. Took me 20+ some years. Some never do. Some never ask the question of themselves. But what I noticed was, was that no one really answered. Only one did, and it was very superficial and quick. I only looked at the comments about 4-5 hours after he uploaded so perhaps there are answers now. Maybe I'll go back and check before posting... Maybe not. Yeah, nope. But also in their defense... that's a hard question to answer short and succinctly. I'm using this post and look how long it is. Just look! Scroll back up now. Scroll back up!

I wanted to comment. But I couldn't say what I wanted to say in just a comment section of a YouTube video that would ultimately get lost in the thousands that this particular YouTuber gets. Perhaps he'd see it, perhaps not. But I very well can't write an essay on my life experiences and questions I've been asking myself and figuring out since I was a pimply awkward bumbling teenager in a YouTube comment now can I. But I can here. Yay.

What's the question, you ask? (or not) Well, it has to do with the lyrics of a particular song by a particular band that I happen to have become a sort of groupie of. And I can honestly say groupie now because I really did follow them to another country, so yeah. I've seen them three times this year now, and will once more in December. Yeah, total groupie.

The song: The Hype
The band: Twenty One Pilots
The basic gist: There are internal and external pressures on us all, and it's both a "I wish someone had told me to believe in myself and my dreams when I was younger" and don't believe in your own hype. It's an encouragement to keep going and a cautionary warning to also let things go that need to be let go.
The lyric: No, I don't know which way I'm going/ But I can hear my way around.
The question: What or who do you hear?

So after thinking about this question and how I would answer it, it forced me to confront myself and made me put my workout clothes on and go for a run. Because part of answering that question is doing what I need to do to answer that question. That doesn't make any sense does it. The act of going on a run is part of the answer. And while on this run I thought about it some more and basically wrote this whole thing out... in my head... and then lost most of it because I didn't want to sit down and take the time to even outline it.

Butt, one of the points was this. I grew up in the church. I lived it. Breathed it. Drank the kool-aid. I believed it. All of it. With every fiber of my being. I took my bible to school. I highlighted scripture. I wrote in the margins. I wrote religious poetry. I wrote religious songs. I was in the religious scouting program, went to Christian summer camps, I was a member of the worship team, church musicals, went to the whole U.S. youth conference, joined the christian club in high school, did the pray at the flag pole thing, even went on a mission trip. I wore a cross necklace, wrote "Jesus Saves" on my backpack, had a "rapture" license plate thingy on my car. I tithed. I had all the cool christian rock CD's. Even went to a Michael W. Smith concert. I was in his fan club!!!!!! Oh my this is getting embarrassing.

All that to say, because I grew up in that environment. It was my world. All my family was part of it and therefore all my friends and family friends were/are of the same religion. So when I finally had the guts to stop going to church, I felt extremely guilty. Like I had failed them all. I let them all down. I thought that there must be something wrong with me. Why didn't I ever feel like they said I should. I never felt "the lord" move me. Or feel a presence. Or ever feel that when I prayed, I was heard by anyone, let alone some supreme being. I never felt comfortable. Never liked the rules, guidelines, or expectations. Didn't believe everything that came down from the pulpit. I took issue with what was being preached and taught sometimes. But like the people pleaser I am, I never spoke up and just hugged the walls like a good wallflower and stuck it out.

And I feel like, just like LGBTQ+ people feel like they have to "come out" in our hetero-normative culture, I too have to "come out" to my religious friends and family, so that I can be my true and authentic self.

Crying to god, pleading, asking for guidance, reassurance, forgiveness, strength during the dark or painful times or rejoicing, celebrating, praising during the good never felt true or right or work for me. And it wasn't through a lack of trying. I studied. I began asking questions. I asked god why I doubt him. Why can't I accept him? Why don't I believe? Where is my faith? What is wrong with me? You're god, fix it. Fix me. Why won't you fix me?

But again, I never felt at home in a church. Any church. I went to different denominations, Catholic mass, charismatics, I tried Buddhism, went to a Hindu temple. They were not comfortable places for me. I didn't feel safe or contentment or any sense of belonging or "finding my people". None of the religious faiths, belief systems or constructs, philosophies, or teachings called to me or made sense to me on an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual level, to where I would say, Yes. This is my faith. This is what I believe. This is my religion.

This is just me and my story. My experience. I see nothing wrong with anyone believing in a god, making religion an important part of their life. If it works for you, and you truly believe and that truly helps you navigate this blue ball we all live on, then great! I'm glad. You found something you can latch on to. A foundation. For many, religion, spirituality, the belief in god is the answer to that question. Who am I to say there isn't a god, there isn't an afterlife, there is no heaven. I'm no expert. I'm still figuring this out. I'm not done asking questions. Remember though, this goes both ways. I have no right to tell you you're wrong to believe and practice what you believe and you have no right to tell me that not believing in your chosen religion is wrong either.

So what about those of us who don't have religion as a foundation stone? Are we lost to the winds? Hopeless? Just bumbling stupidly through life? No. Wait, aren't we all bumbling stupidly through life? It was always taught, at least in the church I grew up in, that we are all lost until we come to god and accept him into our hearts and becomes our lord and savior. So going to a non-believer or an ex-believer and telling them they are lost without god, to me is just so wrong on so many levels. But I won't get into that here.

So what do I hear to find my way around? Short answer: everything and nothing. Long answer: In my darkest moments when I realize I'm in a place I shouldn't be and need to leave, I have several tools. I turn introspective/inward. I can calm my mind and focus on a single voice (the one I like to call the quiet one). That one, that part of my mind is good. And I know it is good. I can focus on it. I know that turning external things off helps to calm. I find strength in the world around me. I will go to the ocean. I will go to the forest. I will go outside to some type of nature, some part of the natural world. That grounds me. I can recharge out there. I have a few people I can talk to, if that's what I need. And I have music. I have certain playlists that I can use to guide me. Certain bands, certain albums, certain songs, genres, styles, rhythms, beats, etc. Music with certain instruments, voices, or beats per minute can and does have a huge impact on me. And of course writing. This is my outlet, my catharsis. So what do I hear in the dark? I hear myself speaking to me, guiding me. I hear music. I hear the waves. I hear the wind blowing through the trees, over the grass. I hear my heart beating in my chest. I even hear the purring of my cats. And I hear nothing. Just quiet. Getting to the quiet is often the first step. Shutting all the external and internal things and alarms off. Focusing. And listening for the nothing. The quiet. Then and only then can I begin to hear what I need to hear.

Within the bands mythos, Tyler's inner voices could be the nine bishops and Nico/Blurryface could be his loudest and darkest voice. Who knows. His brain is very weird and complicated and we as listeners only get a glimpse of the inner mechanations of his brain. Many people (I used to be one of them) interpret the many voices as representations of god in that god is one of the voices, another is yourself, and maybe another as the devil. And which you choose to listen to is your choice/free will kind of thing. I'm not sure I have nine different voices. Maybe Tyler doesn't either. I don't know. But in a way it makes sense within the story the band is telling currently. He just has strange names for them. I just call mine the quiet one, or the loud one, or the mean one, etc.

Tyler's good at compartmentalizing. It's a very male brain thing. Everything has a spot, a compartment, a box. Everything has a place. And it is very organized and structured. I like to think that I too have compartments, but in reality it is more of an open concept mindscape in there.

So yeah. This has been gathering dust in my drafts folder for five months now. When I first started writing this, I thought I would send a link to the YouTuber, but then changed my mind. Why? Because I sussed out where he actually works as his day job/nine to five/real job. And I lost a bit of respect I had for him. I didn't always agree with what he was serving up on his channel, but this was a blow. Then I stewed on it for a while and time passed... okay a lot of time.

And just like Levar Burton always says in Reading Rainbow, "but you don't have to take my word for it".

I can't judge him for where he works even though I hate what that institution stands for and promotes. He may be trying to change it for the better by being there. I don't know. I don't know him. I only know what he shares in his videos. I mean, I work for a company that does environmental compliance work on oil and gas pipelines, and I hate oil and gas pipelines. I think they are not needed (new ones), are extremely hazardous to the environment and our cultural history. It's a fuel source that is dirty and should be phased out, not upgraded and promoted. But I know that no matter what, those lines will be built and the earth and culture destroyed, so it might as well be done by a company I know will do its best to mitigate and preserve what it can. Still hate it though, and still hate who this person works for too. But this is a lesson in humility and not knowing a persons true heart and desires and purpose and what they hope to accomplish within said institution and in life.

Still probably won't link this to him. More so because that video where he asked that question is ancient now in YouTube time. And everyone has already forgotten or moved on to newer, fresher content. Consume, consume, consume. And it takes me apparently five months to finish a freaking post now!

Here's something interesting. The band recently released a re-imagined version of this song and they changed that lyric line slightly. "No, I don't know which way I'm goin/ But I can hear the way, yeah." So does that alter the meaning of the song at all? Ehhhhhhhhh, naw. It's almost even more poignant or affirming. Like instead of stumbling around trying to listen, he can hear clearly now and can navigate safely.

I hope that was interesting for you. I have some ideas cooking. And maybe I'll be a bit more productive on here as the holiday season kicks into high gear. Because I know my mood will sour, and the mental state will get darker again. And when I'm farther down that hole, I tend to be more loose and forth coming in writing. That's just how depression and creativity works, yo.

*side/end note: If I scared anyone in my previous post. Sorry. Didn't mean to. I'm fine. Really. I'm just trying to explain and put into words what it's like to live day to day with this disease.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Let's Dig In: Depression Part III (things are getting serious)

This has been sitting, festering in my drafts folder for months. And by months, I mean since May. Yeah, festering. Even the post after this is mostly written... and been festering for... almost one month now. The initial data dump that spewed out the bones of this was easy. The meat? Not so much. But I need this to quit festering. So here we go... It's going to be a little all over the place. Strap in.

Life is cyclical. Depression is cyclical. A great analogy for this is The HeavyDirtySoul music video by none other than Twenty One Pilots. In it, Tyler is in the back seat of a car, dreaming. In the dream Blurryface (or is it Keons) is driving and almost runs over Josh repeatedly, who is brought into Tyler's dream and is sitting at his drums in the middle of the road. He's driving in circles. But with the help of Josh, in that the harder he hits the drums the more the car falls apart, to the point where it bursts into flames and explodes and Tyler escapes. Thus defeating Blurryface. Only to realize it was all in his head, and he's still asleep in the car. It just repeats. It resets. Even before they made this "official" music video, they made a video for HeavyDirtySoul (Circle). Again, where instead it's a concert that repeats. Every day is a battle to be fought, and every day the sun sets, and every new day the sun rises. Start over. Now with Trench (the latest album-almost a year old now), the story continues with the music video trilogy starting with Jumpsuit (which picks up after the car explosion the next day). Either we are still in Tyler's dream and instead of resetting, the dream continues as he walks away from the burning car and conceivably into Trench. Or he broke the cycle. And he's no longer stuck in the car going in circles. He and Josh broke that cycle and are now on a new journey... in Trench, which is full of circular patterns, new enemies, old enemies with new names and faces, and new and old battles. Life continues on, sometimes in circles and other times winding paths.

There are nine Bishops in Dema (the fictional city in Trench). We know Nico is a dick, and he is talked about quite a bit in the album, and we know a tiny bit about Keons (not such a dick) through Clancy's letters, but what about the other Bishops? Will we ever get to learn about them? Interesting aside is that all the Bishops names come from song titles or lyrics from the previous album, Blurryface. Keons: the lyric "choke on smoke" from HeavyDirtySoul. Did you know that if you do a google image search for "happiness" the prevailing color is yellow? Hmmmm, those boys were on to something.

And now to somehow fit the above paragraphs with the ones below. Smoothest transition ever.

Look at this while I figure this out. Here is JaidenAnimations explaining her anxiety: Anxiety is the Greatest

Cool, now that you watched that and forgot about my not knowing how to connect that previous paragraph to this one, here's the next paragraph. Not sure if it was just my generation or not but it was somehow and pervasively so drilled into us that we needed to find out why we were put on this earth. Our life had to be meaningful, a purpose, and we needed to figure that out and go do it. We couldn’t just have a job and enjoy life as it happened. No. We needed to find our passion. Our purpose in life. The dream job. That one person who would make us complete. And you needed to figure this all out by like the end of high school so you knew which college to go to and what degree to get. Yeah, sure no problem.

Some people found those things. I didn’t. I don’t know my purpose in life. Why I’m here. What I’m meant to do. I’m technically middle aged now. I should have figured this all out by now. It's probably why my anxiety and depression is worse now as an adult than when I was younger. But what if what was grilled into the psyche of us all was wrong? What if there isn’t a meaning to life. A point? What if we are just too evolved and self aware. What if I’m suppose to just enjoy the planet while I’m on it?

I wish. But that’s not how my brain works. I need a reason to live. A purpose. I need meaning in my life. Am I saving the world with my job? No. With my donations to organizations? No. With my reusable beverage containers and steel straws? No. Maybe with these things I end up saving a life. But we’re all going to die. Why bother. Maybe my purpose should be to help others.  I can’t just sit back and enjoy. My brain won’t let me.

There are lots of different types of depression.
Traumatic vs non traumatic. PTSD. Survivors guilt. Single event. Multiple event. I haven't suffered a trauma. I don't have PTSD. I haven't gone through a life and death situation where I survived and others did not. I cannot speak of these things as causes because I have not lived them. I know many who have. But I can only speak on what I truly know and have and continue to experience.

And that is my type. Live with it for life. There’s no cure. It will never go away. You can make plans. Be excited and happy and seeing and socializing with friends and doing all the things you’re supposed to do to help with your depression and taking meds, seeing a therapist, and soaking up sunshine. You can be doing everything right. And still have one dark moment that ends it all. People talk about warning signs. Maybe there are. But many times there aren’t. There’s no predicting a dark moment. There’s a warning siren that goes off in my own head but what if some day it doesn’t. Or I ignore it for too long. There isn’t anything anyone can do. No amount of check ins will stop a single dark moment... that you fight.

So what am I saying? Maybe my purpose is helping people understand. Most of us who have depression are extremely self aware and know our brains and how they work. Those of you who don’t have depression? You don’t. You don’t understand. You don’t see how suicide can be an answer. I’m not saying it is the right answer. We all hear after a celebrity suicide about how could they? They had all these things, kids, money, fame, spouse, whatever. They were happy. They were going to do this or that the next day, or why didn’t anyone see the signs. Well you know what? That’s not how it works.

So yeah, I need a reason. A purpose. A meaning. I need a reason to keep listening to that warning siren no matter how many times it goes off. No matter that it will never go away. What’s my purpose?

I've been excruciatingly slowly loosing weight. Do you know how good it feels to wear new jeans that fit? I can’t fit into my regular ones still but no longer am I in my fat-fat jeans. I’m between. Knowing that I no longer have to wear the fat-fat jeans and buying jeans in a smaller size that fit well is amazing. It’s the little things. I need to remember to celebrate the little things. I went out and bought two new pairs and gave my old two pairs of fat-fat jeans to my sister for her sewing projects. Trying them on in the store was amazing. I imagine it's like what people feel like after amazing sex or something. I wouldn't know. But it was euphoric.

The internal depression voice says mean things. The mean one says you’re a looser. You won’t amount to anything. You’re a worthless piece of shit. No one loves you and no one ever will. Why do you think you’re still single and alone?  No one cares about you. That’s what mine says all the time. Now I know what it tells me is lies. I know that if I put myself out there and focused my time and energy on socializing and all that stuff I could find someone if I wanted. If I wanted. I don't. The constant bombardment of that voice and constantly reminding myself to not listen to it is tiresome. You wonder why people with depression are tired all the time? It’s mentally exhausting let me tell you.

And now how giving in to the voice just once can end your life.  Example 1: Chester (he spoke about it in interviews and such): he was sexually molested as a child and as a teen suffered physical and emotional abuse, bullied relentlessly at school, suffered from anxiety, low self esteem, drugs and alcohol abuse, and depression. You name it he did it or was done to him. To say he survived as long as he did is quite amazing. But all it took was just that one moment of listening to that voice and gone. Example 2: You can have all the things (love, kids, money, a job you love, whatever makes you happy) and one flick of the wrist while driving or as simple as getting up in the middle of the night to go pee and just take all the pills in the bathroom and go back to bed... gone. It can be so simple. So easy. Just think about all the things, people, support certain famous people had. They had the loving families and friends. Took medications. Saw therapists. They did all the things you're suppose to do, and yet... Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain, Dolores O'riodan, Chris Cornell, Kate Spade. There were no warning signs. They all had things to do, places to go, they all had plans... to not die. Linkin Park were going to start their European tour two days after Chester killed himself. Dolores was set to record a song the next day. Chris had just finished a concert performance.

I'm not okay. I'm 41 years old, I should have this figured out by now. Why am I even more messed up now? More depressed. More anxious. More social anxiety. More fearful. Why? Shouldn't I have a better handle on my inner demons? Why are they so much stronger now? Am I weaker? Have I grown so weary of fighting that I can no longer keep up? Am I that tired? Am I that exhausted? That's scary because when people like me get too exhausted and weary of the constant fighting, the more and more alluring it is to just stop and end it, once and for all.

I'm now the same age as Chester was when he ended it. That epiphany hit me the other day. And honestly I've had a rough go of it lately. I hate July. Nothing personal July, I just hate you. My mom was born in July. She's dead now. She loved celebrating the 4th of July. I hate this holiday now (for multiple reasons, one of which is because my mom loved it and she's gone now so it lost its appeal) (I wonder if I hate Christmas more now because she's gone and it was her favorite) My parents got married in July. It's quite often too hot to enjoy the outdoors. It's one of the busiest months at work. But I can make reasons for why I like or not like any month of the year. It just happens to be July right now, and I hate it.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand it's now August. I don't like you either. I'm still here. Still have depression. Going in circles. Pretty sure I'm still stuck in the burning car loop. I'm not sure if this shed any light on what life is like with depression. But damn it, I want this piece of garbage out of the drafts. And quit festering. I got two sick cats to deal with, one of which may be dying.

But not to leave you on a sour note. I got out of my home office for a day and actually had a nice time out on a survey with co-workers I had never met before and was not nervous or anxious or have any bad thoughts or problems. Go figure. And we all stood there and went, "It's so obvious. Surely it's been recorded before. We should record it anyway. Right? Yes? Yes."

Let's Dig In Series links: Religion Part I and Part II     Depression Part I   Depression Part II    Obsession     Anxiety Part I

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Attention K-Mart Shoppers, Blue Light Special in Aisle you really should have your shit together by now, where's the cat food

Here's a little something to tie you over till I buck up and get stuff written. I started this well over a year and a half ago now. And it's been sitting in the proverbial death pile known as drafts. I better check the link to make sure it still works. This also ties in to a future post that's partially written. I really have been thinking about this stuff for a while. So on with the oh here's a cool thought that fizzled...

I'm technically not a Gen-Xer, Gen-Yer, or a Millennial. This article tried to call my "generation" Xennials. Wha? Stupid. I was born into a micro-generation or as I like to call it, the Original Star Wars Generation (1977-1983). I was a child in the 80's, a teenager in the 90's, and thrust into adulthood in the 00's. I had an analog childhood and a digital youth. Pagers were all the rage in my high school. I remember the first personal computers. We had an Apple IIc with the big floppy disks and an Atari 2600. I was forced into getting my first cell phone in my late 20's.

I just turned 40 (see, sitting here for well over a year). I feel old now. Because I was born into this strange micro-generation, I don't quite align myself with Gen-Xers or Millennials. I was brought up to be a pessimistic optimist. Sounds ironic. It is. Que Alanis Morrissette. It was believed that we could become anything we wanted. Go to college, get a degree, become millionaires and change the world! But also brought up to realize that Social Security would be depleted by the time we needed it, the environment would be past saving, and the government would collapse, and we'd spend our senior years in a post-apocalyptic hell hole. But dammit, you better amount to something. You better make your mark on the world. You better be or do something important with your life.

So I was going to be a famous author, or astronaut, or a Ranger (the park kind). I was going to be a somebody. Well, I'm not any of those things. I haven't changed the world by writing something groundbreaking like JK Rowlins or Ta-Nehisi Coates. I didn't spend a year in space like Scott Kelly or sing David Bowie's Space Oddity like Chris Hadfield in the international space station orbiting the big blue orb. And I'm no Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest National Park Service Ranger.

I've always felt that I'm an extra human taking up space on the planet. The third child. Not the heir, not even the spare. I'm the oops. The "well that answers the question of do you want to have another"? I didn't marry. I didn't have kids. I never wanted to populate the world with more of me. Is this what a midlife crisis feels like? Is that what I'm feeling?

Get off my lawn!!

I never did make it to Oregon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Let's Dig In: Depression Part II (the good, the bad, the I need all the potato chips in my belly now dammit)

I was trying to go to sleep when this image popped into my head of a vast open space covered in green grass and flowers with trees off in the distance. The sky is blue with white puffy clouds. It's warm. Birds and happy insects flying about (like the big fat fuzzy bumble bees, not wasps and mosquitoes). Sounds perfect. Looks perfect. Happily, I'm sitting on the ground, in the grass looking up at the sky and around at all the beautiful things... with my feet dangling over the edge of a giant deep dark hole in the ground. So why did I have to get up and write this down in my journal at 4am? What does it mean? It is a visual representation of my life with depression. On my good days I get to sit outside with my feet dangling in the depression hole. The warmth of the sun on my face, the breeze lightly blowing through my hair. I'm never very far from the hole. It's there all the time waiting for me to forget it's there and I fall in.  Some days I even get up and walk around and explore. Other days I trip and fall into the hole. Sometimes I get stuck on a ledge and the sun can still reach my face. Other times I fall all the way to the bottom of the hole. Normal people get to run around far from the depression hole. They may trip and fall and skin their knees, but they never have this constant quiet threat of a depression hole. Damn you extroverts and your bomb social skills. I imagine that bipolar people are one day at the bottom of the hole looking up and the next floating in the clouds. They never get to experience the ground. That's sad. At least I don't have that.

I've been having less bad days with some good days sprinkled in. I'm mostly just right in the middle. Not super happy and not super sad which is how I know I'm not bipolar. A song popped to me on my ipod on a run recently that comes pretty close to how I'm doing. And it's not a Twenty One Pilots song! I know, shocker! Listen if you'd like. It's One Republic - Better. The chorus says this: I think I lost my mind, But don't worry about me, Happens all the time, In the morning I'll be better, Things are slowly getting better, Sing it again.

I've been making slow, steady, small changes, one at a time. Making big drastic life changes all at once, like going cold turkey, only leads to big drastic failure, in my experience. So starting way back in September I made my first small change. I stopped binge eating. Once I got that under control I made the next small change. I went from eating three meals a day to two. Once I adjusted to that I made the next small change. I started to exercise. First just walking (I used walking to the coffee shop to get a drink, to curb the binge food cravings), then the rowing machine, and now running. Once the habit of exercise was reformed, the next small change was implemented. I stopped drinking soda.

I need to work on a few things still. I've been running somewhat consistently now. I signed up for a 5K with my boob. My friend. She calls me her boo and she's my boo too so she's my boob. She has big boobs. Never mind. She's my friend. Yes I have friends dammit. I used to use food or soda as a motivation to exercise. If I went for a run, then I could go get a soda. But I can't do that anymore. I needed to find something, some reward for achieving my goals. What are my goals, you ask? Well, I got fat remember? I got 30 pounds overweight fat. So my goal is to loose those 30 pounds. And I needed to set small incremental goals (every 10 pounds) with rewards for hitting them. So what can I use as rewards? Can't be food. I don't need or want stuff. I hate shopping. So I decided on tattoos. I have wanted to expand and add to the arm band I have. Perfect. So when I reached the first 10 pounds milestone I walked into the tattoo shop and gave my artist my ideas and said have fun designing.

As of posting (I wasn't going to post this till I actually reached it) I have hit the next 10 pounds milestone. So my reward? My first session.

There's 10 more pounds. And from experience, the last 5-10 pounds are the hardest to loose. My body is very well adjusted to the new eating habits. And my body is pretty adjusted to exercise. I will start to gain muscle faster than I loose fat so my weight will likely go up before it goes down again. So I have to run farther and faster. Start weight lifting. Eat healthier foods. It has taken about 4.5 months to loose 20 pounds. It will likely take half that, possibly more to loose the last 10. Because these last 10 will be the hardest, I've decided to break it into two. So I need to figure out what the rewards will be for the next and last 5 pounds. I have an idea, and yes they are tattoos.

The next small change is sleep. That's what I need to work on next. Going to sleep at 4am and waking at noon is probably not the healthiest thing. Even with all the small changes I have made, the daily struggle of depression is always there. There are some days I wake up and I just know, instantly that it's not going to be a good day and I won't be a proper functioning adult. But, there are other days I wake up and I know instantly, that it's going to be a good day.

When I first started writing this in... February, I was having a string of good days. Now that I am finishing this, I have been in a long string of bad days. Today was the first good day in a long few weeks. Not to burst your happy bubble, but that's just how it works. When I started this post, I was sitting in the grass, as I finish it, I'm a few steps up off the floor of the bottom of the hole. That 5K? We never ran it. We were to run it in January, and it's now close to the ides of March. That tattoo I got for reaching my 20 pounds lost goal? I didn't actually make it. I was one pound away. And I've since gained some back. It feels like I gained all of it back. I've had two sodas, two days in a row including today. I binged an entire can of Pringles and a family sized bag of peanut butter M&M's last week. I haven't been wanting to write in my journal. I set three goals for the next day in each entry. They're usually easy like: run, work 2 hours, and do laundry or go for a walk, shower, fix the kitchen drawer. Because I failed to do pretty much any and all for a while, the last one from a few nights ago simply was: get up, survive, go back to bed.

And that's exactly what I did. It's what I do. It's what every other depressed person does. We get up every day. We survive however we can (some days we may not make it out of our pj's while other days we accomplish all three goals and then some), and we go back to bed every night. And do it all again. Keep breathing. Keep getting up.

Let's Dig In Series links: Religion Part I and Part II     Depression Part I    Obsession     Anxiety Part I