If We Were Having Coffee // I Feel I’m on the Edge Again

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up and moving at a decent time today despite the protest I feel in my bones.

I haven’t been sleeping well and with the new morning jog routine, and some of the errands and housework, not to mention the evenings out with family and friends, my poor body is just exhausted. Too much activity, plus chronic illness, plus weaning off of medication means an unstable mood and a fragile motivation. We’d better chat while I can.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup—today we’re trying something new, a little coffee and lemonade concoction I read about called the Laura Palmer, or the Thunderbolt, or, simply, Lemon Brew—let’s talk about last week!

Update: the 1:1 cold brew to lemonade ratio most recipes call for is super nasty. Don’t do that. Instead, mix 1 ounce of simple syrup and 4 ounces strong cold brew or espresso. Then, in a tall glass drop four mint leaves in the bottom, add 4 or 5 ice cubes, pour in the coffee syrup mix, and fill with lemonade. Stir and enjoy!

“I hope one day I’m happy enough to hold my coffee with both hands.”

Glenn Rockowitz

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still playing the waiting game with my health. I’m happy to report that at more than halfway through my last week of steroids I am doing well. My blood work came back looking good, and besides this persistent fatigue, I do feel pretty good, considering.

Mentally I’m not as good. I feel on the edge of depression again. I’ve struggled my whole life with depression—and anxiety—and I’m all too familiar with the signs: moodiness, the blah feeling, the comfort food cravings, the longing for solitude, and the circadian rhythm reversal.  I’m aware of it and fighting it with plenty of fresh air and coffee, but it’s frustrating to feel so powerless against, well, myself.

I’m stressing over my medical bills as well. Anyone who lives in the U.S. and has ever been sick can relate. Our healthcare system sucks. I’m in a program where I am reimbursed for some of my medical costs but while I wait for my claim to be approved and the check to arrive in the mail the bills are stacking up, and my anxiety is rising.

I’m constantly worried that something might go wrong. What if I filled out a form wrong? What if I misunderstood the terms? What if they don’t pay for the medication? How we will live under such a financial burden?

It shouldn’t be this way.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are finally working on fixing up this old crappy house of ours.

I’ve never really liked our house. It’s not a bad house, and it’s certainly not in the worst location, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and I never feel like I have the time, the know-how, or the energy to do it, but we’re trying. We’re starting small and working our way up to the more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive projects.

We’ve replaced a few light switches and did a small plumbing project. This morning we put in a new light fixture, and this week we’ll replace some screens and fix the light above the garage. We have a whole list of little things to do and a few big things we can break into smaller steps. We’ve agreed to check off two things from the list every week, and you know what? I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore. I actually feel kind of excited.

It feels good to learn something new, and put my problem-solving skills to work when something goes wrong. It feels good to accomplish something and to make your home your own.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my best day by far was spent at a small pop up carnival that opens every summer near us. I’d never gone before thinking it’d be boring but my mom, my youngest sister, and my nephew were heading there and wanted to know if I felt up to tagging along.

The place was pretty small, and there weren’t a whole lot of people there. The rides didn’t look terribly exciting at first, but I found myself shocked more than once after getting on one and realizing halfway through that the tame-looking ride was rather wild and terrifying. By the end of the trip my legs were shaking, and I was incredibly nauseous. In other words, I had a fantastic time!

I want to go back soon, this time with all my friends, the rest of my siblings and my girlfriend to experience this rinky-dink little carnival with me all over again.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I don’t even know where to begin with what’s been going on in the news lately. I’ve been watching, paying close attention and feeling heartbroken, confused, and furious right along with you but for some reason, I haven’t been able to write about it.

It’s all so disturbing, disquieting, and disgraceful I cannot find a place to begin. Before I can wrap my head around some new atrocity or outrage, another one is in the headline right behind it, and I’m at another loss for words.

In just the past week, with the supreme court decisions, the upcoming supreme court vacancy, the mass shooting in Annapolis, the separation of families at the border, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war have made it hard to want to stay engaged and informed. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is okay. I know I can’t, but I’m tired. I’m discouraged and despondent. I’m disappointed beyond words in humanity.

And I’m scared. For someone like me, a queer woman of color, and others like me, it feels like we’re at the mercy of the majority and the majority doesn’t care a whole lot whether we are happy—or even alive.

This country is increasingly devoid of compassion and inclusively and for those of us who are different and who want a different world where everyone feels valid, equal, and safe we can see the tide changing. We can feel the hate from the other side, and we are afraid, but we are also strong.

We’ll fight this like we always have.

What else can we do?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my stomach has begun to grumble and that means lunchtime has snuck up on me. The day is half over, and I still have so much to do. The laundry is piled high, and dirty dishes are spread far and wide throughout the house. I’d better get a move on if I don’t want to be cleaning until bedtime.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are still hopeful and that you are taking care of yourself. Please, if you have a minute, drop a note in the comments, so I know you are okay.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

 

Advertisements

The Little Things Are Where Recovery Begins

“im team ‘cool karen ive got depression and that means i’m going to try this because i’ve got to try something’ i’m team ‘romanticize recovery’ i’m team ‘it isn’t working now but it might in the future and it’s worth staying to find out’.”

inkskinned

For as long as I can remember depression, anxiety, and god knows what other undiagnosed mental illnesses have been a part of my life. Some of it is nature, I believe. Some of it is nurture, I’m sure. But some of it is just being alive, being a person, being scared, and being hurt and disappointed by life.

Healing is a long journey I am still walking, and one I may walk forever, but I am always getting closer. Through trial and error, research and professional help, and, mostly, fumbling around in the dark, I am learning more and more about what works and what doesn’t.

The first time I sought help a therapist told me—after hearing about the bad things that happened to me, the stupid things I cried about, and all the ways I was hurting myself and others—that everything I felt and did was a perfectly normal response, considering what I had been through.

That is, anxiety, self-loathing, self-destruction, unstable relationships, and depression, were not at all indications that I was broken, or flawed, or unworthy of love. Mental illness is a perfectly human way of existing in this world.

The second time was someone I loved very much pointing out that depression and anxiety are not just illness. They are lies told to you by your own mind. The voices telling you that you are stupid, that you are ugly, that you don’t deserve happiness, that you don’t deserve life, that nothing will ever get better for you, it’s all a fucking lie. Every time that lie is spoken to you, you can speak right back. You can call out the lie. Like any liar who has been caught, your illness will double down when you confront it, but you just let it know that no matter how loud it gets, or what evidence it twists, you will never believe it.

It took me a long time to internalize these lessons, and some days I still struggle to stay on the track, but lately, It’s like I’ve hit a roadblock. My progress is slowing, and now, on my bad days, it feels more and more like I’m taking steps backward.

But my instincts tell me that when roadblocks are met, there are more lessons to be learned.

 

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

Earlier this year I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis—a chronic, incurable autoimmune disease that primarily affects the colon. Learning to live with a chronic physical illness, with the impact on my life as well as my emotions and the bunk advice from people who just don’t get it has really opened my eyes.

I’m learning to accept that life isn’t fair, but it’s still good. I’m learning to accept that even when your body fails and betrays you, it’s still a good body. I am learning that even when you are in a bad situation, there is still room for gratitude.

But the biggest lesson of all, the one I really need to internalize right now, is that just because there is no cure, that doesn’t mean treatment is useless, and that treatment is in every little thing that you do.

After my diagnosis, my doctor explained that treatment meant more than just visits to her office and medication. It included taking care of my stress levels, getting in tune with my body, asking for help when I need it, exercising and learning to eat well, drinking water, and making self-care a top priority.

She literally told me to meditate, do yoga, think positive thoughts, and do whatever it takes to get to my “Zen place” because the immune system is directly influenced by stress, anxiety, and emotions.

She added that, of course, none of that will stop my immune system from attacking the lining of my large intestines. There is no cure for ulcerative colitis, but taking care of myself in these little ways will help me achieve remission, and stay in remission, longer. She told me that even when I am too tired, and even when it hurts, even on my worst days, I have to try.

Depression, anxiety, and many other types of mental illness function the same way. You start with the little things, and all these little things are part of your treatment. They keep you healthy enough and strong enough to fight.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of frustration and anger in the comments and replies of posts and tweets regarding simple self-care reminders and tips as part of treatment. The new thing is to shout about how no one understands depression and nothing can help, that reminding people to shower, eat well, take a walk, drink more water, text their friends, or say something positive to themselves when they can, is bad advice. Those, in my opinion, are the lies I was talking about before and now, with social media taking up so much more of our time and attention, and with our online relationships becoming more and more significant, these lies are finding a new way to spread and take hold.

It’s understandable that after years of being dismissed or misdiagnosed a person might be sensitive to the ways mental illness is discussed by “neurotypicals,” but a lot of what I’ve seen online is too far to the other end of the spectrum. Mental illness may or may not be curable, depending on the cause, but it is under all circumstances treatable. Saying that out loud doesn’t have anything to do with how serious a person’s condition is, and it isn’t dismissive of the struggle and hardships sufferers endure on a day-to-day basis.

And, yes, some of the pushback is warranted. Some people do believe that mental illness is a choice, a weakness of character or failure to control one’s thought, or to properly care for the body and that a diet change and a little sunshine will cure you. Yes, those people fail to understand what depression is, but you have to learn to separate their misunderstanding from what it means to properly care for yourself. You have to take a step back look at how you might be perpetuating bad practices and beliefs about mental illness when you dismiss advice that might help someone else.

We have to be careful how we say things, and we have to be open to letting people heal in the way that makes sense for them. We have to be careful about confusing what doesn’t work at all and what doesn’t work for me.

There are some who may be losing a battle right now, they may be looking for help and what you say can sway their resolve either way, especially when they are young, or newly diagnosed, or undiagnosed but in need of help. To tell them there is no getting better is to perpetuate the same lie their illness is telling them. We have to change the narrative. You may not be cured, but you most certainly can get better!

Every treatment option doesn’t work for everyone, and certainly, none of them work for the same person all of the time either, but any doctor will tell you that to fight a disease you have to do all these little things if you want to be strong enough to fight.

Let others start with just being able to get out of bed and eat something so they can take their medication. Let others start by getting outside, taking a walk, and enjoying a damn sunset, so they can get out of their own heads for a minute. Let others have their face masks, bath bombs, and glittery nail polish so they can love themselves for a moment today. Let other people have silly conversations, and laugh a little, so they don’t feel so alone. Let other people try things!

Some days wallowing might be the best you can do, but it is no long-term strategy. Remission is the primary goal. You might not know what “no evidence of disease” will mean for you yet, but you don’t have to. All you have to do is keep working toward the best and healthiest life that you can have.

So I guess that’s what I am trying to do here. I am saying to you and to myself that, yeah, it sucks to wake up every morning feeling the way we do, and I know that people don’t get it and everyone thinks they know what’s best for us but please, don’t give up. Please, don’t shut yourself off from things that might help.

Be honest with yourself about what healthy means and what you know you struggle with. Be honest about what you haven’t even been trying to do, and try to do it. Try eating something today. Try taking a shower. Try drinking more water. Try a face mask. Try getting out into the sun. Try texting a friend. Try looking in the mirror and saying one nice thing. Try breathing. Try helping someone else try.

It might not cure you, but it might make you strong enough to find a cure someday.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash

When Time Slips Away from You Hold Tight to Emotion Instead

“We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs.”

— Philip James Bailey, “Festus”

I am one of those people gifted with an acute awareness of my mortality and a near constant anxiety over the amount of time I have left. There is nothing wrong with me—that I know of. I have no reason to think I won’t live to a miserable old age. I have no reason to be so afraid and yet; I suffer from terrible death anxiety. I lay awake most nights staring at the ceiling contemplating what death means and what it means to be a being that will die. The thoughts have begun to seep into the the daytime, stopping me in my tracks and bringing tears to my eyes. I’m obsessed, in the worst way. I’m scared, and I’m angry too, and I don’t know how to stop thinking about the end so that I can finally live.

I want to stop seeing all this time flying by and start seeing all the life I have in and around me instead. I want to be free, but I don’t understand how I can when my life seems so small and death, even if it comes 50 years from now, feels close enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. How is everyone else doing it?

When I reach out to tell people how I am feeling and get a little advice and reassurance I get the most puzzling looks and responses. No one seems to be crushed under inevitability the way that I am. No one else seems to be lying awake at night with their heart pounding in their ears wondering when the end might find them and how. No one worries how long it will take to be forgotten by the world and no one is devastated by the unfairness of it all. I don’t understand why I feel time slipping through my hands so painfully and no one else does.

I know I need help, but it’s hard to admit I am so weak and strange. I suppose I believe I’m somewhat beyond help or that there is no help I can be given by another person that I can’t give myself.

Still, I long to talk to people who suffer the way I do. I want to know I am not alone. I want someone to understand that to me the rest of humanity must be walking around blind to be so calm. There has to be someone out there who understand that this life feels like nothing but a death march to me.

I’ve tried to live mindfully, aware of every minute I am alive but I think I only got half the picture and that is why I suffer so now. When I became aware of time passing this way, I wanted to hold onto it, but no matter how hard I tried every moment they keep slipping, slipping, slipping, wasted and irretrievable out of my reach. And that is all I can see of my life now. All I see is how I am always dying. All I see is that I can never go back. I live in near constant panic over all the choices I have left to make, and the ones I won’t get to make before it all goes dark. I am furious over all the life I won’t get to live as the eons pass without me.

Becoming aware of every moment means becoming aware of how few moments there will be. Seeing what you have doesn’t stop you from wishing for what you can’t. Taking control of your life doesn’t stop you from seeing what you can never control. Living doesn’t stop you from dying one day.

So, I guess I need a new perspective. I need to find out what it is I am missing that everyone else has grasped.

I’ve been thinking to myself, rationalizing and trying to make sense of my fear of dying, of leaving my work unfinished, of one day not being, and of being forgotten. I try to remind myself that I have time and that even if I didn’t, even if the end came for me this very moment, I have had a good life. Not the best life, not exactly the life I planned, but a life most people in the world only dream of. I have been loved, and I have been happy more often than not, and maybe that is the answer to my problem.

Maybe instead of looking at what I won’t have, I need to focus on what I could have. Maybe I measure time all wrong, and that is why there seems to be so little of it left. Maybe, for humans, time is best measured in memorable moments, and emotion invoked.

So, what if I stopped counting all those seconds? Most of them were empty anyway and, if I’m honest, I hardly remember them once they are gone. Maybe a richer life isn’t found by hoarding time but in bringing time to life? The seconds that matter are the ones full of wanting and connection, of passion and curiosity, of novelty. I need to stop trying to hold on to every moment, trying to freeze myself and everything I love in place as if I could stay any longer by doing so. I need to move and make things happen.

After all, the only time I am not worrying about when my heart would stop beating is when it was beating out of love, or fear, or excitement. The only time I am not worrying about how much time I have left is when my time is filled up doing something new, fun, or fulfilling. I’ve become stagnant, tightened and tied up, I need to be loose, to laugh more, to let go!

If death is to come either way, if time is going to slip away no matter how tight my grip, I suppose it all ought to make it worth every second. My heart ought to come alive whenever possible. I should be learning, doing, loving, yearning, every day. I have to cling to the right things and measure time in laughter, kisses, candies, fears, and triumphs. I need more good books, good friends, new experiences, and new ways of living.

I don’t even think I need to make any huge changes in my life. I have plenty of love and laughter around me I only need to take the time to notice it and muster the courage to participate in it. In the moments where it doesn’t exist, I can certainly create it and make other lives as rich as they make mine. Even when I am alone, I can at least love myself. I can learn to enjoy my own company and make even the most mundane activities into a joy simply by being grateful and noticing the miracle that my life is.

I have only so much control over the length of my life, but the width and weight of it are up to me. I can have more life by measuring it by heart throbs rather than the ticking of a clock.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Stress, Depression, Fear, and Anxiety, Oh My!

Hello, dear readers! I’m so happy you’ve stopped by for a bit of coffee and catching up, it’s been too long since we last caught up and I’ve missed it more than you know.

This past week and the one before were so much busier than I anticipated and I just could find the time to get out of my head and onto the page or screen. But this morning I woke up and told myself that no matter what, no matter how hard or how late I had to work at it, I was going to write something and I wanted to start by catching up with you.

“Where coffee is served there is grace and splendor and friendship and happiness.”

— Sheik Ansari Djezeri Hanball Abd-al-Kadir

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my anxiety has been at an all time high this month.

It all started with my girlfriend. I’ve been so worried about her. She’s been working such long hours that I have to call her in the evenings and tell her to come home, and I made her agree not to work two weekends in a row either.  She’s under a lot of pressure, and she’s dealing with a new boss, an employee shortage, and tense meetings and phones call one after another. On top of all that there were two weeks of interviews and anticipation over a promotion, she was hoping for. Then came the disappointment when she heard she didn’t get it.

My heart is breaking for her, and I’m doing everything I can to pick up the slack at home, cleaning and cooking, the pets and keeping track of event and plans but it isn’t enough. I want to do more, I want to take over her job, or yell at her bosses, or find a way to get rich quick and take her away from all that crap. But I can’t. So, instead I sit at home, alone, and brood and worry and spiral out of control.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had quite a work week too. I’ve busier all summer than I anticipated and with the shortage of drivers, I’ve been doing my best to help management out with smaller tasks. I had lots of testing and training to do as well as get my own route figured out.

I may not have had much time for myself during the day, but I’m trying to keep in mind that I’m actually pretty lucky compared to some of my other coworkers. I got the route I wanted with decent schools, decent hours, and the driver I wanted to work with. I have little to stress about, I still have the respect of all my coworkers, and no one is watching me or riding me about anything.

It’s nice, and I’m grateful, but there is also guilt at watching so many of my coworker’s struggle and a feeling of being completely useless.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’ve made very little progress on overcoming my driving phobia and that is getting to me too. My girlfriend is working too much to work with me. I haven’t given up at all. I’m just thinking of it as a temporary setback, a postponement, that’s all. But I can’t help thinking being so down on myself about it. I feel like a failure. I feel stupid and cowardly. I feel like I am not a real adult or a whole person and I get depressed. Add the anxiety and a sprinkle of loneliness, and you can see why I just couldn’t write anything.

Plus, my death anxiety is getting so much worse. Last week I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic because I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that one day I was going to die and never get to see anyone I love again. I was afraid for my girlfriend and grieving for all the things I would never get to do. I was picturing my funeral and all my family and friends crying over me, and I was hurt knowing that everyone would go on living without me. Ever since then I can’t stop worrying if this is the die I will day and wondering about how it will happen.

I’m considering finally seeking help with this. I can’t go one trying to deal with it all on my own, and I can’t keep burdening my girlfriend. There is simply no comfort she can offer to calm me. I know there is no point in worrying about it and I know there is nothing I can do but live the best life I can, but I still can’t stop agonizing over it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t even begun to process what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. In case you haven’t been online or turned on the TV since Friday, a bunch of white supremacists descended on the city to protest the decision to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee Saturday morning. In response, a large crowd of counter protesters showed up to challenge them.

From what I understand small street fights broke out, again and again, tear gas was used, rocks and bottles were thrown, and people were beaten with clubs until authorities declared an unlawful assembly and finally attempted to disperse both crowds. Sometime after that, the violence came to ahead when a man drove a vehicle into the counter protesters, killing one and injuring close to 20 others.

It’s so heart breaking that there is still so much hate in the world and frustrated by those who continue to believe racism is no longer a problem in this country. I’m furious that a life was lost while trying to speak up for what is right. That is as far as I have gotten emotionally.

If we were having coffee, I wouldn’t even touch on Trump, North Korea, or the terror of nuclear war hanging over all of us.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all this stress and depression, fear and anxiety has actually brought my girlfriend and me closer together. In the past we would have been at each other throats, blaming one another for all the problems and questioning our connection but this time we’ve clung to one another.

Every night when my girlfriend comes home, no matter how late, we cook together while we vent and unload the day. Each of us listens and offers support and advice in turn, and afterward, we sit close on the couch to watch TV, share funny videos, and just feel warm and loved.

This week we’ll be celebrating 15 years together. We’ve almost been together longer than we were not together. We wanted to do something big for such milestone, but with work, we haven’t been able to plan. Instead, we’ll go to our favorite restaurant, and instead of gifts, I’ve asked that we make a real effort to start planning our wedding coming up in one year, no matter what!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m hoping that a return to a regular schedule and having a little less on my plate will mean that in this coming week there will be more writing, here and elsewhere.

I have a couple of blog post ideas and drafts that need outlining and editing, and I’m thinking about putting something together for Minimal Hero since it’s revamped and under new management. AND I still have to get a couple of writing samples together for the Bitch Media Fellowship for Writers. Time is running out, and I will never forgive myself if I don’t try.

I’m also going to get back to journaling. I’m hoping it will help me get things out and get my mind of off all the things I can’t control. Writing has gotten me through so much hardship in my life, and I have no doubt it can help me deal with all the bad stuff swirling around in my head too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I have missed you and want to go one chatting all evening, I have to get going. There is so much to do around the house and so much to get ready for tomorrow, and I want to get it all done before tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones. Thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to listen, it means a lot.

I hope you’ve had a good week, and I hope your weekend was relaxing. I hope you were able to make time to take care of yourself, do the things you enjoy, and be with people you love. I hope this coming week will be better than the last and if it isn’t, I hope you that the energy and the strength to get through it.

Until next time…

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted by Part-Time Monster

Featured image via reeqhair

We are Not Okay, and That’s Okay

“I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve struggled my whole life with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and a general sense of guilt for just about every wrong ever committed. I’ve believed I didn’t deserve love, or happiness, or even my life. The weight of who I am and who I was is heavy on my heart while the weight of who I will be and when I will die weighs heavily on my mind.

I think about how time is running out, and I’ve made so many mistakes, and I’m not sure if this life I’ve is better than another life I could have had.

I don’t know whether to step this way or that, quite my job or stay, move to a new state or learn to love the one I am in. I don’t know if people like me or why I should care. I don’t know if this political party is right or the other and I don’t know how to fix myself or the world. So I am frozen, and I have no way to work through it or even know if I am alone.

I am not okay.

I feel so much, every moment of every day that in order to focus and move forward in life I’ve had to learn to shut it off, to zone out, to numb myself. We all do it. When we work, when we are with family and friends, when we are posting selfies, when we are posting witty comments on the timeline, and especially when we are alone. We shut off all that emotion, we do it our whole lives, and we forget how to cope with what it means to be alive.

I am a thinking, feeling, wanting human being, and it hurts. It’s confusing and scary and damn hard. It’s humiliating and terribly unfair, and I’m tired of trying to pretend it isn’t.

I can get through my day with a smile. I have to because to bring all the baggage of the human condition to work, or home to my girlfriend, or dump it on my friends, seems cruel. But if I am shutting off my “humanness”” just to get through my day, my life, then who or what am I? And why am I here at all?

I am not okay, at all, and but I don’t think very many of us are.

Billions and billions of us of us are going to and fro working our little jobs and connecting. We talk, meet for coffee, hold meetings, network, and update our statuses, but none of it seems to get to all that anxiety and fear we carry. We never admit that just inside ourselves below the facade, we show the world is an ocean of panic.

And it only seems to be getting worse. All this technology, bringing us together, they say, but I only ever feel pulled further and further away from who I really am. I mean, if the selves we are bringing together are only shells, pretending to be happy, pretending everything is fine, then we are only going to get lonelier and lonelier, and we will never learn to cope with what it means to be human. In the end, pushing it all down is only going to make the ocean of anxiety below the surface bubble and rise, wholly out of your control.

So, this week, take a few furtive glances inside yourself and ask, are you dealing with your fear, your pain, your uncertainty? Are you letting yourself feel human? Get below the surface, deep down, in the parts of ourselves we never visit, where all the deep questions are asked and never answered.

Get uncomfortable with what is down there and with who you are, and admit you are not okay.

We are not okay, but that’s okay. If you aren’t okay, it means you are alive, and aware, and feeling. It means you are human and functioning just the way you should. Don’t ever be ashamed of that. Don’t ever hide it and don’t ask others to either. Instead, talk to someone about it, and let them talk too. Maybe if we say it out loud, that life is hard, and we have no idea what we are doing, and that we are afraid, we’ll feel a little less not okay, or at least a little less alone.

Life will still hurt. You will still suffer and be afraid, but at least we won’t be pretending.

At least we won’t be afraid of who we are.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for interesting reads + some of my own existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering, or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured image via Unsplash

Anxiety into Art

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a hard one, I won’t lie. I spent a portion of the weekend in the doctor’s office afraid and in pain. I am okay now, mostly. My symptoms are still here, but I got the reassurance I was seeking. I will be fine for now. I came away with information and medication and a whole lot to think about. I’m feeling just a little better today, but I am on edge, wondering when it will get bad again.

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

― T.S. Eliot

My anxiety, as a result of all these health issues, has been uncontrollable. I worry about my body. I worry about medication. I worry about what I am eating. Food has become my enemy, and every meal is stressful. I worry about how I am impacting others and what people think of me. I worry about work and how I can cope away from home.

Breathing isn’t working. I am losing sleep, and I feel myself becoming isolated. In just a few weeks I have stopped writing almost entirely because I am either too tired or worrying so much I can’t focus. I miss writing, even just for myself. I want to do something I love again.

So why can’t I use this pain and anxiety for writing, for art? I can’t breathe or meditate my way out, maybe I need the opposite. Maybe I need something that requires more effort. Maybe I need to pull my pain out by hand. Maybe I need to dig deep in the dark and work for my relief.

Maybe I need to fight for it.

I don’t know exactly what form this writing will take or where it will go, but I think it’s just what I need. It feels right to hurt through writing and sharing rather than all alone and in my own head.

This week, if you’ve been feeling anxious, afraid, angry, or alone, pull that pain out and make something of it. Push, push, push yourself to move forward until you feel better or you collapse in exhaustion. Then get back up when you can and make something more. Write, paint, and sing all about what hurt and don’t worry about what people will think or what it all means. Just express yourself.

Take what you hate about yourself, what you work so hard to control, and let if fuel your creativity. If nothing else it will at least be a change of pace and offer some distraction.

You might even be able to work magic, do the impossible, and turn hurt into hope and joy.

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Featured image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // It Feels Like Fighting Winter

“What do you want?”
“Just coffee. Black – like my soul.”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

Hello dear readers and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and a chat. The weather is looking much better than last week but I will be honest with you, my mood is much worse. It’s been a long week and not just because of that man living in the White House now, though most of it is. It’s a combination of hopelessness, anxiety, and stress about huge and worldly issues and some tiny and personal ones too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am still in a state of shock over the new president. I watched the inauguration events most of the day, and through it all, I still couldn’t believe it. I understand that Obama was not a perfect President and that are some valid concerns over war and deportation over the last four years but he was such and optimistic and hopeful leader. He made me feel safer. He made me feel like progress was always being made.

Trump, on the other hand, makes me feel very anxious! He makes me feel like everything we know is going to be disrupted. There is no certainty under him. We don’t know what will happen from minute to minute. I am preparing for a life where I have to be glued to the news to find out what new and horrible ways he is affecting my life and future. It is exhausting! I am trying my best to prepare for the next four years, but emotionally I don’t think I, nor the country at large, can continue at this pace.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was so proud and happy to see so many people all over the world protesting together, I did not make it to my local Women’s March yesterday. I thought about going, but I just don’t know if it was right for me, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time.

I realized yesterday that I am still very angry. I feel betrayed, but my fellow Americans and I don’t trust the word of its people right now. I don’t trust that everyone who says they are fighting this administration is really doing so at heart. I don’t trust that the person telling me that they don’t agree with the new President’s words didn’t vote for him. I feel like I was abandoned and it will take a long time for me to trust again.

So, I spent the day with family, which is what my soul needed and sometimes I have to put my soul first. I will fight my own way for now, and I will join that public fight when I am ready. In the meantime I assure you I am watching, I am rooting for us, and deep down  I am so happy to see you all coming together.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am not giving up I am simply changing my perspective. I think fighting this administration feels a lot like fighting a hard winter. We can fight all we want, but it is still going to be winter.

It will hurt, and it will be cold. It will be so cold that people might die of exposure and we will mourn and cry, and still it will be winter. It will start to feel pointless, but we still have to fight, not, because we might stop winter, but because we have to keep warm to keep alive. We have to fight because winter can live in your heart and follow you into spring if you let it. We have to fight so that when the season changes we can meet it with warm hearts. We must be ready to get out there and plant beautiful flowers and trees. We have to get out and repair the damage.

I am doing my best to remember that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope the damage won’t be too great.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my doctor’s appointment Monday went well, but I was so worked up over it that afterward that I was exhausted and stayed tense and nauseous for a full day.

I will need more testing and more appointments but so far I have anxiety, migraines, a problem with my right kneecap, and something is going on with my colon, maybe. For the anxiety, I am working on learning how to sleep better, since that is the area of my life impacted the most right now. For the migraines, I have a prescription to take as needed. For the knee, I have exercises and will need future x-rays. For the colon, they will have to take a look. Too much information, I know, but imagine how I feel! I am terrified!

I’m glad that I have finally started to figure out what is going on with me, and I feel a bit better knowing that whatever is going on I am not knocking on death’s door or anything, yet. I am okay for now, and soon I will be doing even better and knowing that feels so good.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had to put down Plato’s Republic this week. I know that book is a classic and a cornerstone of Western philosophy but so much of it sounded, well, dumb. I wish I could have lived back then and argued with Plato, the world might be a very different place today. Before anyone lectures me, I am trying to remember that those were very different times and in the context of history, Plato was a forward thinking man Still, it was frustrating.

So, I took a break and picked up My Ántonia by Willa Cather, who, it turns out was a lesbian. That, of course, has nothing to do with the story and no impact on whether or not this is a good story, I’m just trying to read more books by women and by women of color or queer women. It’s nice to make progress on that front even if it was only by accident.

So far the story is good. It’s different. I haven’t read much on the early American West, so it’s refreshing to explore a new world. I’m hoping to read this one quickly, I’m behind in my reading challenge already!

I’ll get back to Plato eventually.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had better get going before time gets away from me, and I don’t get anything done. I have laundry to wash and fold, a kitchen that is a shameful mess, and shopping to do for the pets. I hope to get a jump on a few post and look into starting a “life audit” later in the evening.

I hope you had a great week. Please, leave a love note below and let me know how you are holding up.

Until next time :)

Life lesson.

A post shared by Lisa Blair (@zenandpi) on

***

If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter on life, love, and suffering (:

Written in response to Part-Time Monster’s weekly event, Weekend Coffee Share

Featured image via Unsplash