The Food and I

Howdy, pals! I am not quite sure why I went with howdy, but here we are. It’s been an interesting week to say the least. Most importantly, the weather has changed and you KNOW I cleaned out my closet and brought out all my snuggly sweaters. I am basic and proud. Even bought a pair of ugg boots from Goodwill. Really embracing who I am deep down.

Something else has been brewing deep, down inside of me. It’s gas. I’m gassy and sick and it’s more commonly known as gastritis. Basically, there is too much acid in my stomach and it’s caused some inflammation of the stomach lining. I’ll be honest… it’s not very fun. I’m sure you probably assumed that, but it’s not fun for more than just the stomach pains.

This is not the first time I’ve dealt with acid in my stomach. I was diagnosed with GERD last summer and they were also worried I had cysts. (Luckily, no cysts, just acid.) Whenever there is a stomach issue I get the same advice from medical professionals- lose weight. I know they are saying it because it honestly does help things like that. Usually I would say let’s explore other things that could help the issue, but after being diagnosed with GERD I lost some weight and I didn’t have any heartburn again, until I started gaining the weight back. Yet, when I hear someone say I should lose weight I roll my eyes so hard that they could probably knock over a building.

It’s because of the fat phobia that permeates our everyday lives. I can’t look on the internet without someone selling a get thin fast diet. It’s near impossible to shop in a store, I must shop online to avoid people seeing a fatty actually shopping in a store. You know, they don’t want to ruin their brand or anything. If they do happen to carry plus size clothes take note that it’s conveniently tucked into the back of the store to still hide fat people. I roll my eyes because it cuts through me like a knife cuts through butter- it’s a swift, clean cut that happens again and again.

I have carried the weight (pun intended) of binge eating disorder for most of my life. Food and I haven’t had the best relationship, but in the last few months I have felt myself getting more comfortable. The idea of eating before I feel like I am going to burst at the seems has been easier. I no longer feel the need to hide snacks throughout my living space, or sneak food behind my roommates backs. I’m open about my love of food. We are in a good place, food and I.

Yet, when I heard the doctor say “losing weight will help this go away”. All that work and progress disappeared for a moment and I wanted to stop eating forever. I wanted to breakup with food while simultaneously wanting to go binge eat McDonalds behind closed doors. All the pain and anguish from the last 20 years came flooding back in me and I wanted to cry. It felt as though time had stopped for a moment when he said it and a loop of all the self-hate I had ever experienced jumped to the front of my mind. In that brief moment I felt more than just the pain that was in my stomach.

Time stopped it’s because those feelings all happened in slow motion but when time resumed it went away fast. I sat for a minute in my office before returning to work and I thought about how far I have come and all the ways I can help my stomach without using a scale to figure it out. I googled good foods to eat for gastritis and did some deep breathing exercises. Of course, a visit from baby Sarah was also warranted.

Closing my eyes, she came to me crying, putting her hand on her stomach she called herself ugly. We held hands and we put our hands on our stomachs and together we talked about being gentle with ourselves, with our words, and with our bodies, and particularly with our stomachs. Wiping her tears, I told her the real meaning of beauty; that no matter our appearance on the outside, true beauty comes from within. Fat doesn’t make you less than, it doesn’t make you unworthy, and it definitely doesn’t make you ugly.

All of this happened last week Friday and since that day, I’ve had to visit with baby Sarah a few times. I’ve found myself more hesitant with food, brief moments of wanting to restrict and binge. I am being gentle with myself because I know that day I was triggered and it brought up a lot of feelings I haven’t seen in awhile. This doesn’t mean I haven’t healed or done the work, in fact without that work I wouldn’t have been able to work through all of those feelings so quickly. And quite frankly, that is what life is made up of- unpredictable moments that catch you off guard; sometimes those moments are happy ones and sometimes they are heartbreaking ones. Both make us stronger.

If you are having a hard time because you just so happened to have a heartbreaking moment catch you off guard, please try to be gentle with yourself. If you are grieving, if you are triggered, if you are just hurting the most important thing you can do is let yourself feel it and work with it, not around it. You are stronger today than you were yesterday. And as always, if you are not in a place to work with it, that’s okay. What you need is what you need and there is no shame in any of that.

A[wo]men

in the dips

of your rolling fields

find home

Earlier this week on the island I call my second home, Prince of Wales, Alaska, a tragedy occurred. Copied text from the GoFundMe page: “Herbie Nix Jr. was born to Marvell and Herb Sr. (Big Herb) on September 23, 2002. Lil Herb passed on October 5, 2020.  We are asking for support for the Nix/Edenshaw family during this very difficult time. Thank you in advance for your emotional and financial support. We will update you on the service times. Any cash donations may be given directly to the Nix family. Monetary donations can be made through GoFundMe, Facebook Pay, Cashapp and PayPal.” Please donate by clicking this link if you have the means and send love and healing to the island ❤

Stability on the Water;

Hi, Friends! I apologize if you missed me last week, because I sure missed y’all. It is funny how off my week can feel when I skip a post (or 2, or 3). Don’t get me wrong I don’t regret taking the time off. I mean if you had the opportunity to go to the beach, wouldn’t you? Especially as summer fades away into fall I figured I should take advantage of any opportunities I can get in the sun and water.

I know I’ve talked a lot about baby Sarah, mostly in the context of hardships, but baby Sarah comes soaring out in all her greatness when I am in the water. As soon as I dip my big toe in I am transported back to that little girl that felt free in the water. There is no pain there, no fear. I am weightless! And for someone that always felt like she was too big, the peace that came with such an escape was indescribable. In fact, I think I could say the water saved my life.

I spent a lot of my childhood hoping to die. Yet, I never felt that way if I was in the water. I found solace lying on my back looking up at the sky or ceiling, the water filling my ears so all that was detectable was faint sounds that didn’t translate. We had a pool in our back yard. I would float or be a mermaid or a shark or a minnow or Marco or Polo and real world problems simply didn’t exist.

This month is Suicide Prevention Month. I’ve spent a lot of my writing talking about moments in time when I felt suicidal. It is not something I am shameful about and, in all honesty, I believe those thoughts are as natural world itself. Some of us feel them stronger than others and some of us believe there is no escape. For a long while, I only believed in escape in the water. However, when my feet would touch solid ground again, I slipped right back into my reality- the reality that I didn’t want to be here.

I am not here to talk about that reality today though. Today, I want to talk about my reality of this moment. In this moment, I doing really well. Well like I could skip down the sidewalk and sing in the store. Well like my heart might burst through my chest. What has caused me to feel so well? Mostly, there is stability in my life, like real stability. I’m not sure if you recall, but that was my news years resolution this year. I have money in my savings account, my credit card balances are finally going down, I have medication that has quite literally stabilized my mood, there is a cute boy I like. And if I am being totally real with y’all.. it’s freaking me out.

Why is it freaking me out? It is a new feeling. New anythings scare the sh*t out of me. New hairstyles, new apartments, new friends, new bedding. It’s unknown and what is scarier than the unknown? My anxious brain loves to think about the unknowns. The current obsession on repeat is “do I deserve to feel this good?” feat. trauma. It’s a classic hit that I’ve heard before. Real catchy, almost like an annoying jingle. Part of it spins out of that depressed girl, that didn’t think she should be alive. The girl that believed nothing could ever feel this good.

When this greatest hit get’s played, I want to rush to turn it off. As I have learned though, that’s not the way intrusive thoughts get shut down. They get shut down by letting them in, understanding them, respecting them. I’ve mulled over the question the last few nights, trying to understand my brain a little more. I have never questioned when hurtful things happen. Without skipping a beat “I deserve this” also feat. trauma, oddly enough, shoots to the top of the list. So, why, when something good happens, does it become the opposite? Could it be that old central message I worked so hard to get rid of rearing it’s head?

DING. DING. DING. Up until this past year I always thought that I wasn’t good enough. Messages that could validate such a statement were snuggled up under the covers with me and messages that didn’t rolled off my back like water. Now, my new message is that I am good enough, but it’s a new message… and you know how I feel about new things. I know though that it is all about practice. New things don’t always stay new. I thought again about my current #1 hit and how I could get it to fit my new message.

Why do I deserve to feel this good? Because feeling good is what everyone deserves. I am not special in that. If I want my friends and family and patients and strangers to feel that way, and I hope and pray for them to feel that way, I should hope and pray the same for myself. I am a human being with a million different parts and I want to experience all of those parts. We are all worthy of such a life.

Your central message right now might be telling you that you are not worthy. I sat with that message for along time, so I know how that feels. If you are hearing that as you read this, that is totally okay. You don’t have to rush into new feelings. Perhaps though you could think of what you would want your central message to say, or what you would want your best friends central message to say. Close your eyes and think of all the words that could make that statement come true, like a vision board. Now, try to trust that new things, although scary, can be the best things that happen to us. Try taking one little step to flip this unworthy message on its head. Maybe that means brushing your teeth, or getting a therapist, or literally just breathing.

And if all of that sounds like a bunch of bullsh*t, maybe go float in some water and drown it all out. That may be all you need for now.

A[wo]men

**Also, I would be remissed not to note that suicide prevention is not just reaching out. Suicide prevention is loving/supporting the LGBTQ+ community, it’s supportive housing, it’s having enough food, it’s being able to afford medication, it’s undoing racism. It’s a million things that are systemic and need to be fixed. Need resources? Contact me.

from the tears of those before you

fill your ears with their

salt and water

float

-you’re not alone;

And as always, if you are feeling in need of support, whether that be because you are suicidal, sad, happy, want to tell me a funny joke, etc. please reach out to me on my contact page. Love you all ❤

Wishing You Well This Fat Girl Summer

Another day, another blog. I believe that is how the saying goes. It is a beautiful day in New York, which I actually find slightly annoying because I was looking forward to a rainy day writing sesh, but alas here I am. I don’t mind the blue skies either, but there is something about writing with the pitter patter of rain drops. Perhaps this is why I haven’t written a book yet. Sorry publisher, I can’t get those pages to you… it hasn’t rained in weeks. Either way, I hope you are all enjoying the weather of your choice today and if you’re not, that’s okay too.

This past week has been… interesting. I had a bout of depression that was a bit debilitating. The real kicker was the moment I realized I was depressed. I was standing in front of my kitchen sink staring at the ONE spoon I had to wash and I was sitting there just like “c’mon Sarah. It’s one spoon just wash it.” Then, I had one of those office moments where I looked into the non-existent camera and was just like “damn, it’s back.” And then the studio audience laughed and laughed and laughed. I then went through my head to find all the reasons I could be experiencing it this time and there were quite a few things on the list : I’m still mourning; I missed my anti-depressants two days in a row; I had my period; I started seeing someone new; it’s still quarantine; Trump is still president; Breonna Taylors murderers (Brett Hankison, Jon Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove) have not been charged; I could probably keep going, but you get my point.

So, I did what any normal depressed person would do and I binged watched Little Fires Everywhere and ate to my hearts content. As Drew Carry once said “welcome to the show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter” and sure he was talking about the game show, but I think it translates to life as well. I concocted my own little depression antidote out of thin air and it seemed to work wonders and I am awarding myself 2000 points. Oh, and getting back to my daily vitamins and anti-depressants was probably helpful as well. The nice thing about going through so many depression spells in my life is that it gets a lot easier to remember that it isn’t going to last. Imagine 16 year old me, listening to Senses Fail, feeling depressed and genuinely believing it will never go away and that music is the only thing that understands me. #emokid No wonder my life felt like a nightmare. Poor teenage brain, not fully developed, sure that things would never get better. SO glad to be through that phase. (If you are a teenager that is reading this your brain has a hard time seeing the future, but it’s there and it does get better. I am living proof.)

The thing that I hate most about my depression is those teen Sarah thoughts that creep up, specifically about my body. It is summer in the city, so more skin is showing, which means more comments about my body from total strangers, which means more comments from inner teen voice Sarah which means more work to change the narrative. The summer for fat girls can be one of both mental and physical pain. It’s hotter, so there is more chaffing. My inner thighs current have cuts that will burn later as the water washes over them in the shower. I don’t just glisten or drip a little sweat, it’s like my glands open up and become a waterfall for the whole world to see. Except, I am not a spectacle they come to see and take pictures of and use cheesy captions like “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”. Instead I get looks from thin bodies eyes that say they are afraid I am dying, but happy they aren’t me. I also get looks from fat bodies that say I see you and you’re doing great sweetie. I like those looks. The clothes on my body become paper-towels absorbing the water.  I become hyper aware of what I wear and how I put my hair to help minimize the amount of my sweat people can see. Black shirts, hats, headbands. NOBODY CAN KNOW I AM A FAT GIRL.

Honestly, laughing out loud writing all of that. “Why?” you might ask. Well, because it is just so silly, don’t you think. Everybody knows I am a fat girl. I mean I wrote it in my bio on Instagram. I know I am a fat girl. I love my fat girl body, but then you put me in the heat and I feel like I have to shrink back down. Just another product of depression and low self-esteem mixing together like one beautiful masterpiece of pain. Today, when I noticed this was happening I closed my eyes and thanked my body for sweating. I know the sweat is trying to cool me down; how sweet my body is to care enough. The reason I did this was actually because of something I saw on the gram this past week. I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I saw it, but it said to practice wishing people well when you notice you start to get angry at them. For example, someone cuts in front of you in line and as soon as you start to get upset you say “I hope they are okay and have a good day.” It has been a real game changer for me this past week and also has helped with those little voices. Using this technique inward as well as outward is important because I get angry with myself all the time. If a stranger can get my blessing, I better be able to give it to me too. I even got to use it with a stranger just before writing this post when a man was  hollering at me “HEY LADY” loudly and repeatedly and when I didn’t say anything called me a fat a*s. I took a deep breath and said “I hope he receives goodness in his life” and added “and yes, I do have a fat a*s. Thank you for noticing.”

It’s a freeing feeling to know I am not held down by my emotions. I feel them and they are rightfully so present and they are not facts. I can be depressed and talk myself into washing a spoon even if it feels impossible; I can be angry and wish myself and others well even if it feels like I might cry; I can be happy and cut someone off in traffic because I am in a hurry. It’s all about that inner voice. How are you talking to yourself? Do you notice your feelings? Do you validate them? Do you try to work with them or against them?

I know, oh humans, do I know how hard it can be to change that inner voice. We hear time and time again that we are our own worst enemies, but what if I told you, you are your own best hero. This week maybe when you feel yourself getting angry, at yourself or others, you could try wishing them well. If your inner voice tells you, you are ugly can you then tell yourself that you hope you find happiness? If I happen to cut you off in traffic this week can you send me healing words? (In advance: Sorry if I cut you off in traffic this week.)

If you can’t because you feel overwhelmed, or that voice is too strong to change right now, or you think that sounds like hippy, dippy bullsh*t, that’s okay too. Either way I love you and I think you’re doing your best.

A[wo]men

like blades of grass

soft and hard at the same time

-growing up with a fat body

P.S. Here are some links to help in the fight for Justice for Breonna Taylor:

Change.org Petition

Stand with Bre- Grassroots Law Project

Action Network Petition

A Different Experience for a Different Person

c/w suicidal ideations, depression

Hi all. It has been a week. I’m currently writing this with chip debris sprawled onto my shirt, no pants on, and the stain of tears on my cheeks. So clearly, I have been struggling.

After my post last week, I felt a moment of relief, as I usually do after writing. Usually that relief sticks around for awhile, but this time it didn’t. I kept doing things that I thought would bring that feeling back. I ate, drank water, ran, cleaned. Anything I could think of that usually brings me back to a good place, I did. In fact, I rented a car drove 2 1/2 hours to some mountains, hiked for 5 hours, and then stayed in a hotel room before coming back. After that hike I thought to myself “this is going to do it. This will fix it all.”

I was wrong. It didn’t fix it this time. Nothing seemed to be fixing it this time. I watched videos on tapping, I did yoga, I journaled, I slept a decent amount of hours each night. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I even had time off of work. Nothing. Without fail, I still felt empty and sad and cried for most of the days. I kept racking my brain on what else I could do to get out of this slump. What is going to bring me joy? How can I just feel better because I need to feel better.

For a very long time I avoided the idea of medication. It was one of those things where I would encourage and support anyone close to me to use it if that felt right for them, but it didn’t feel right for me. This past week I thought about why that was. There are a lot of reasons. Most important being that I tried medication when I was a teenager. The medication made me more suicidal than I had already been. I feared this same shift if I were to try it again. I also know that stigma played a major role. I advocate for others day in and day out, but I am not immune to internalized stigma. So, I tried to think what I would say to a friend who was thinking about using medication.

Right now, I feel broken. When our legs are broken we go to the doctor, we get surgery, we take medicine. Right now my heart and my head are broken. I go to my therapist and I take my vitamins, but it isn’t enough. What is wrong with taking medication to help me feel better? Nothing was coming up except for fear of my past self. However, I am not the same person I was when I was in high school. I have done a lot of growing and I am so much stronger and I thought about how this medicine could help make me even stronger.

I made the appointment with my doctor. She had a me take a quiz prior to the visit to rate my anxiety and my depression. On the depression scale I was 19, moderately severe, just bordering severe. She walked me through her thought process on what she thought would be best to prescribe me. I disclosed the full details of my experience in high school and shared my fears. I like my doctor, she listens to me. She prescribed me Wellbutrin, expressing that she would start me on the lowest dose and we would meet every three weeks while we are exploring what’s best for me. She was empathetic and kind and listened. When I was in high school, I said I was sad, and a doctor gave me SSRI’s and I didn’t even really know what I was taking. It was already a different experience. After my doctors appointment I met with my therapist.

She told me she was proud of me for taking steps and for getting support where I could. She reminded me that my fears of medication are valid, while also reminding me that I have grown up and can be more conscious of warning signs. She reflect on the fact that my support system is now stronger than ever because I’ve talked to others about starting medication and my fears. We talked a lot about that teenage girl and what things were like then vs now. I talked to that teenage part of myself after my session and told her we were going to be okay this time because we have learned a lot. I gave her a hug and we held hands for a moment.

Once I processed it all, I walked to the CVS around the corner from my house, picked up my medication, and felt accomplished. Yesterday was the best day I have had in several weeks. Just knowing I was taking a new step felt invigorating. This morning when I woke up, I took my first pill. The orange bottle with the little yellow pills stared up at me. I wondered in that moment if they chose yellow because it is attached to joy. I held it in my hand for a moment, returning back to my inner teenage self. I said it again: We are going to be okay. I swallowed that first pill this morning and afterwards I cried, hence the tear stains on my cheeks. I cried because I felt like I was in this new stage of growth where I could really see my progress. I cried because I was trying something new and new things are scary, but it’s never stopped me from anything before. I cried because I felt hopeful.

It’s been really tough for me these last few weeks, but with each breath I take it is a victory that I can’t even begin to describe. I have been in this low spot before and felt like I was never going to get out and I did. So, I know that no matter how hard it feels I will keep going. Each moment in life is leading me to the next. This sadness right now will lead to joy again, that much I do know.

I don’t expect this medicine to be a miracle drug. I don’t expect that tomorrow, or a week from now, or even a few months from now I will magically feel stable. I don’t even know if this medicine is going to be the right medicine for me. But none of this is really about the medication. This is all about the journey that I am on to healing. Each time I make a decision to choose myself, care for myself, and honor my truth is a moment of extreme healing. I spent a long time choosing others and I was the least important person in my life. I no longer feel that way. Just typing those words made me feel free. I am important and I care about myself and I will do whatever it takes to be here and thrive.

Also, if you’ve been wondering if medication is right for you, and I know that it is not right for everyone, just try to have some real conversations with yourself, with a therapist, and with your doctor. These are all vital pieces of support ensuring you’re making the best choice for yourself. I plan to update how I am feeling throughout the next few months and my journey with medication because that is part of the destigmatization process.

So, tune in next week as we continue to battle the stigma. 

A[wo]men

put down the shame,

pick up the pen.

write.

feel your pain

write.

paint the pages

write.

-more than one kind of medicine

Strength is Found in Awareness & Help

C/W suicide, depression

Hello friends, welcome to our newest time and place. If you didn’t see the memo yesterday I am officially posting my blog on Thursdays because I have just found myself extremely tired on Wednesdays, so I have been using those days to heal. Healing looks like many things right now. Resting, first and foremost, but also scheduling my therapy on that day to help process what the last 7 days had brought me. Since I didn’t write last week, I’ll catch you up on what the last 14 days brought me.

The last two weeks were filled with a lack of energy to do much of anything. I felt completely void of motivation. I cried A LOT, more so than usual- which is A LOT, A LOT for “regular” people. My shower schedule went from every day, to every three days. I still brushed my teeth every day, twice a day which is honestly the biggest win of them all. I ordered takeout food every night, most of which was fast food, and most of which could have fed two people.

It is mental health awareness month, and with that I want to make people more aware of my experience with depression. This is something that I have sprinkled throughout all of my posts, but it is rarely the star of the show. Depression was a side character to enhance the more “important” story. I quote important here because in reality discussing depression is just as important as the other parts of the story, but the thing about vulnerability in writing is that it can be easier to write the story and hope the reader can read between the lines. Today, I don’t want there to be any messages between the lines. I want to be raw about my experience. I would also like to be raw about my experience of healing and processing and the journey that my life has taken.

This last week was a reminder that healing is not linear and as much as I hope and wish that old habits have died hard, I know they are still there, lingering around. In fact, the last couple of weeks my depression has been the worst it’s been in a year. I felt numb and tired. Anytime a person asked me how I was I would respond “Oh, ya know, just tired.” There it is again, the reading between the lines, hoping that someone recognizes the fact that I’ve been tired for two weeks and that isn’t normal. Praying for someone to ask me again, “how are you really though?” There is this fear that if we say how we really are we won’t get the response that we really need. We know we need the help though, so we leave context clues and hope one day someone picks up on it. It is interesting how subtly people ask for help because of this fear. I’ve picked up on it a lot in the work that I do. If you have someone always saying they are are tired, or when asked how they are always respond with the same answer, try asking them again. I like to call this phenomenon the folly of small talk. Sometimes people really don’t want to know how we are. So, there are these automatic lines we sprawl out like a red carpet for others to feel more comfortable. I loathe small talk. It is devoid of any real meaning and I think it should be canceled. In my opinion, if you don’t want to really know how someone is, don’t ask.

Okay, I am getting a little bit off topic, let’s circle back to my depression. Spending most of my life with, I’ve gotten good at hiding it from others and having my automatic answers lined up. My experience with depression has been a long and winding road, escalated by trauma. I have wished to be dead on countless occasions. Again, no reading between the lines. I would pray and cry and beg to go to sleep and not wake up. I recently read online somewhere (I wish I could remember where so I could give them credit) which said suicidal ideations are often the hope of getting rid of your current life for a new one. Meaning, people don’t necessarily want to die, they just want the life as they know it to be different. I wanted my life as I knew it to be different. The older I get the more my depression ebbs and flows, and the less I want a different life. I can go a long time without feeling any of it’s lingering effects and then one day I am triggered by something and it sets off this downward feeling. A feeling that is both slow and fast at the same time. I’ve done a lot of work around this and working through triggers. My recovery time is actually much quicker nowadays. Something I am proud of.

Working through depression though, is a battle. If you have watched Game of Thrones, you can recall the scene where Jon Snow is being trampled to death during the ‘Battle of the Bastards’. For those of you that haven’t seen it, he’s literally under a pile of humans all stepping on him, as he is gasping for air. While watching it you’re like “Oh yeah, he’s definitely going to die” and then somehow, against all odds, he comes out. Yeah, that is how I would describe battling depression. In fact, it’s a great title for the battle of depression as well. Those bastard voices in my head trying to keep me down and I have to come back ten times harder. It’s a muscle though and I know that the more I keep coming out of it and fighting back the easier and easier it gets. I think an example may help to get a better idea. I’ll walk you through a day of my worst depression this week. I’d also like to note that this experience is vastly more doable than what my depression looked like when I was younger. I have done a lot of work.

My alarm goes off, although I’ve only been partially asleep because my body can’t seem to shut all the way down. The sound of the alarm is not jarring, it is just irritation. I calculate how much longer I can stay in my bed, how much longer can I push the time? If I skip showering.. again.. I can lay here for another 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes I am not resting. I am thinking through a million different thoughts. ‘I wonder what today will bring? Why can’t I just get out of bed, it’s not like I’m actually sleeping right now? You are so lazy. I wish I didn’t wake up today. I wish, I wish, I wish..’ I finally role out of bed. I go into the bathroom where I convince myself that brushing my teeth is necessary. As I brush my teeth I look in the mirror and stare at the bags under my eyes. ‘Why do you look the way you do? Maybe because you didn’t wash your face again last night?’ I then talk myself into washing my face. I go the kitchen to get breakfast. All I want is junk food. I eat left over, cold pizza. I take my vitamins, hoping that they are the magic pill to make this feeling go away. I realize I only have 10 minutes to leave the house and then I rush around picking out an outfit, looking in the mirror at my hair realizing there is no time to fix it and leave. I bike or walk to work, knowing that it is good for me to get the exercise. That this will help with how I am feeling. It actually does. I get to work, where I know I have to have space for others trauma, so I leave mine at the door. Before I enter I remind myself that my pain is not important right now, this space is for them. Once in that space, I feel a little break. I hold space for other people, and my pain feels lighter, but by the the end of the day I am exhausted. I now I have my pain on top of there’s and I don’t know where to put it. I bike or walk home, again knowing that this is the most helpful thing I’ve done all day for myself. I get home and want to turn it all off. I turn on TV and watch something that I know will numb my thoughts. I order take out. Most likely shake shack for the 4th time this week. I eat the food in front of my screen. I eat it so fast that I barely remember what it tasted like. I feel full to the point that it hurts. I stare at the screen wondering why I just ate so much. The pain is so familiar and it makes me feel good, in the worst kind of way. I try to stay on my screen for as long as I can, so I can avoid hearing what I know I am thinking. I know those negative thoughts are swirling in there- you’re horrible. you’re disgusting. you’re unloveable. I finally make it to my bed where I spend another 30 minutes on my phone, trying to avoid the moment the noise all stops and I have to hear those thoughts. I finally turn the phone off and count down from 100. This helps me fall asleep and avoids the noise further. Finally I am asleep, but not really.

This is what a day with really bad depression felt like recently. Each step is hard and it is something that I mentally need to tell my body to physically do, otherwise it would just stay in that state, in my bed, not moving. I usually give myself a day, when I am feeling that way. I call it my depression day. It’s like a staycation for pain. I recognize that I’ve pushed my body far and it needs a break for a moment. I just kind of melt into my feelings and give it some space. I then spend the following 24-48 hours pushing back hard. Every negative thought has an equal and opposite reaction. This last spell though was a bit longer than 24-48 hours of pushing back. I think because there is just so much going on at once. Like COVID, depression, dating, trauma, drama is a lot for one girl to handle. But I still pushed back and I finally feel like I am finding a clearing. BLESSED.

What really helped me find the clearing though is therapy. I reached out to my therapist, who I hadn’t talked to in awhile, because for awhile I was doing really well. The second I realized this time felt a little different though I sent that email. I knew I needed support and I knew, as much as I love my friends and family, I needed a different type of support. The moment she came onto the screen I burst into tears. Not because I was sad, but because I knew there was space for me to just be. It was tears of relief, of all this pressure being lifted off. We talked for the full hour. I honestly could’ve talked to her for two hours. She reminded me of my strength and my ability to reach out when I need help. I had forgotten to recognize this as a strength. She helped my brain process in a way that felt like all the static was clearing and I could get a good image. She reminded me of different ways I can help myself, ways I didn’t even think about.

The most interesting part of our session was when we discussed my work. We were discussing how I should hold space for myself between patients. When talking about what I could do I said I have a meditation app and I could listen to that between each person. She looked at me with a puzzled face and said “Sarah, that really won’t help you. When you are experiencing trauma, even vicarious trauma, you are being heightened. You are disconnecting from you body. Meditation will only make you go higher. In those moments you need to remind yourself of where you are. You need to be in that room wholly.” She said “the best antidote for trauma is embodiment.” I was shooketh. All this time I’ve been told that meditation is basically the end all be all and here is my therapist being like ‘nah, that is not what you need.’ She talked about literally tapping my body to remind myself that it is here on earth, in that chair, in that place. So, for the last 24 hours, anytime I could feel myself leaving the room, I began to tap. My face. My chest. My legs. Tap. Tap. Tap. It brought me back every. damn. time. Brilliant and simple. My favorite kind of healing technique.

The thing with healing through, and depression, and mental health is that our stories all look different. Yet, we all have pain, we all have mental health, we all have feelings and we are all constantly trying to heal. The reason there is a month dedicated to awareness is because there continues to be this stigma that nobody else experiences these things and if you do experience this you are “not normal”. I have to argue the exact opposite. I can’t think of one person in my life that hasn’t experienced pain or that couldn’t benefit from therapy. We go to the doctor when we break our leg, but when we feel pain, when our hearts shatter into a million pieces, we think we have to heal it on our own. This is cultural. There are people trained in healing broken hearts. I beg, urge, and plead with you to help me break the stigma. Tell people that you hurt too, just like every normal human being, and that there is ZERO shame in seeking support in that. Isolation creates and perpetuates negative self-talk and feelings of depression. Culturally, we think we are being strong by not getting help, but in reality we are actually harming ourselves in ways we don’t even know. The reality is that being strong means we know we can ask for help and then doing just that.

Today, be strong- reach out for help and tell your story.

A[wo]men

P.s. Not sure where to start? May I suggest right here.

tap. tap. tap.

you are here 

in this space.

you are breathing

in this space.

you are living 

in this space.

you are

in this space.

-grounding

 

Shannon Robinson- Love Can Survive Fear

Welcome to a new season of my interview sessions. I’m excited to share that we are starting this year off with another family member and I am so happy to share her brave and honest story. Just to fill you in about our story teller Shannon (more commonly known as KneeKnee in our household)- she is a 27-year-old, nanny, who is the youngest of us 5 girls. That’s right, the baby sister. She’s got a big heart (as you’ll see from her interview) and is working on her own healing.

As I got ready for the interview, calling her several times to no avail, I though ‘well damn, she bailed on me.’ About two minutes after that I get a text that says:

“Sorry! I fell asleep. Let me go out to my car to call you.”

I should probably also mention the text I received that morning: “You should just interview someone else. I can’t think of anything significant to talk about.”

Both of these texts are important because throughout our interview we talked about Shannon’s mental health diagnoses. One of those included anxiety.

“Wait… why are you going out to your car? Roommates?”

“Yes.”

Both of these are examples of the way Shannon navigates her anxiety. She works hard to keep herself safe as her body warns her that something doesn’t feel right. Throughout our interview those moments continued to come up-

“Wait is this car trying to get around me? Wait, hold on. Oh, no they are okay,” she says with a sigh of relief. “So, I’m parked by this park, and there is like a funeral, and I’m nervous that people are going to hear me talking,” she whispers into the phone.  “Is this even a story? I don’t think I’m talking about anything important.”

We, as Robinsons, laughed through most of it. “Speaking of anxiety” we would say as we giggled like we were still little kids playing store in our front living room, one of our favorite games.

Shannon has this beautiful aura about herself. Her skin is always flawless. Her hair a beautiful auburn, brown, blonde mix that has these amazing curls through it. She is the sister you go to if you need beauty tips. Every time I am home to visit I exchange goods (clothes, meals, shoes) for her to do my hair and makeup. As kids, Shannon would spend hours getting ready for school while I would wake up 5 minutes before we left to drive us around the corner. In the interview the natural light, from sitting in her car, makes her face glow and her bright blue eyes shine.

“If I don’t like the interview, will you just not post it?” she half giggles and glances up, already expecting a no from me. “I don’t know where to start.”

“I suppose I would just not post it if you really didn’t like it, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

“I’ll be your first,” she says as she does a side smile and squints her eyes.

I laughed, knowing that this is how she operates. Knowing that she just wants an out, just in case. I placate her and say “okay” also knowing that she is one of my biggest supporters and she knows I’ll do her justice. I then dive into the interview asking her about some of the things that came up from her while she was thinking of what she wanted to talk about.

“Well, like veganism was one thing I could talk about, but I’m like, err, nobody cares.” 

Shannon goes on to say that she was trying to pull a story out that would make people cry. She said she read the other interviews and wanted to “tug at the heart strings.” She thought ‘talking about animal cruelty might get some tears in there.’ Again we giggle. She talks about some of the events from childhood that, she believes, converted her to veganism. Each story she tells I can feel her going back to those moments. The memories so vivid and distinct to her. The real story I am hearing though, behind the acts that she witnessed, was her desire to witness kindness over cruelty. Between the lines she is sharing her fear of people that can cause harm.

I am not here, nor is she, to debate this topic though. As she is talking it becomes clear that veganism is important because it speaks to a larger desire for peace of all things and a way in which she can control that feeling of peace for herself. As her family members though, we started to witness something else when Shannon decided to go vegan- her mental health seemed to improve.

“I’ve been diagnosed with depression and borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and uhm, uhhh, what else?” She rattled these off without a wince. I mention this because when she was first diagnosed the response to those words were much stronger. Knowing the person I am interviewing helps me steer some of the questions. I ask her about when she was diagnosed.

“Probably 23, or 24, and it was helpful at the time but also… I was excited to know some things that were wrong with me because once I figured that out I was like ‘oh, this is not normal behavior that I’ve been experiencing all my life,’ but, uhm, also, it was hard to hear all of that. I started obsessing over all my diagnoses and how to treat them, and I felt like, kind of like I was a crazy person because I had all of these and I’m like also questioning it. Just cuz they say I have them doesn’t mean I do have all those, ya know?”

I do know. Oh, do I know. And although she was diagnosed in her 20’s she shared that she felt something was off long before that.

“I think from a very young age, like probably 5 or 6 I’ve known. Especially my anxiety is like way severe compared to other peoples like I’m worried about weird things. And ppl I’ve dated have always told me ‘you need to calm down because thats not a thing that you should be worried about at all.’ Like I constantly worry about peoples judgement. Like I would skip out on like school projects and things just cuz I didn’t want people like looking at me. Like isn’t that weird?”

I could feel my blood boil at this point. How dare someone tells her she needs to calm down. How dare they tell her she shouldn’t be worried. I take deep breathes, knowing they meant well, but as I also know, that is not how anxiety works. We don’t just hear “calm down” and think ‘oh, they are right. Guess I’ll just calm down now.’ Anxiety is our bodies way of telling us we are in danger. She felt uncomfortable for whatever reason and she needed support in those moments, not to be dismissed about how she was feeling. Big sister mode was activated, but I tried to remain focused on her story. I asked her about specific times she felt anxious, so you as the reader could understand what anxiety can look like for a 6-year-old.

“My friends would have sleepovers when I was younger and I would just straight up make up an excuse not to go just because I had social anxiety and I would compare myself to my friends and yeah…”

I am now picturing a 6-year-old Shannon depriving herself of sleepovers because she felt like she couldn’t go. Because she felt unsafe. Because her mind told her she wasn’t like those other girls. An innocent 6-year-old trying to navigate anxiety and having no words or understanding of what that even is. 

Her conversation about her friends from school shed some more light on the topic. An array of memories of being picked on and bullied or watching others being picked on or bullied and this little girl joining in due to fear that she would be the target if she didn’t. Again, big sister mode is activated and I want to Liam Neeson these little shitheads and be all like, “I will find you and I will kill you.” Not literally, but maybe just send them that gif.

Shannon, however, steers the conversation and she moves from these mean memories to how she wants to use those memories to make the world better.

I feel like in school kids should have more of a place to go.. like I know there are school counselors and things like that, but I think it should be more. They should like push it more on kids to talk about their feelings with somebody as far as like bullying and things like that. I asked Eli [our nephew] the other day, I was like “do you have,” cuz I know he has anger issues sometimes, I was like, “do you have somebody in school that you can like talk to when you feel yourself getting upset like this” and he was like “no” and like I’m sure he does but also if he said no, he’s not very aware of this person or doesn’t want to talk to them.”  

Shannon has taken her experiences and doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to the people she loves. When she is around kids, and I’ve seen it in action, she talks about emotions with them. She is honest and brave with them, demonstrating both safety with her and compassion. She even discusses her experience as a nanny. She tears up talking about the two little kids that she cares for and how she talks to them about their feelings and works with them on being kind. She pours her heart and energy into working with kids to spread more love.

While she is sharing all of this I find myself wondering, how does she show herself love? How, after some really hard times in her life, how does she now work through it all?

“When I’m experiencing depression I get those moments where I look in the mirror, and I’m talking to myself just like mean bullies in elementary school and they would call me fat and I would cry. And that’s pretty much how I talk to myself in the mirror when I’m depressed. I just hate every little thing about myself and there is nothing good about me. But then luckily most of the time I can talk myself out of that. And I know now that those are irrational thoughts and I don’t feel that way about myself most of the time… [And] it’s like, luckily for me I know that I have to heal those things. A lot people keep moving on with their life like it’s nothing.”

“Where did you learn that? Like how did you get the tools to talk yourself out of those negative thoughts?”

“A part of it, when it first started, was because I started talking to this woman named Cheri and I started doing reiki with her and I think, I don’t know, something clicked in me.. And, well, I also did start seeing a therapist around that time too, so I think the combination of those two things. To have someone to talk to who was like Cheri, who was like kind and would tell me what an amazing person I am, it was just so nice. And I just started doing that. And well I talked to Tara (our cousin) too and she was like, she would tell me she would write herself notes on her mirror like “you are beautiful!” and eventually it just changed her outlook on how she saw herself. And I was like ‘oh thats a good idea!’ I started doing that… And so, I feel like I’ve only gotten better at doing that myself at being like hey I am a special person, I am pretty, I am beautiful, I am smart, I am all kinds of stuff.”

“You are” I reiterate to her. I then asked her my favorite question of any interview I do “What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?” 

She talked about the importance of seeking therapy, and I swear I didn’t prompt her to say this.

“Definitely seek therapy. I feel like that’s the best thing I’ve done for myself and I feel like that’s the advice I’ve been giving my friends who are struggling mentally. But it’s a choice. You have to make the choice to put the effort in to do it because you can come up with all the excuses in the world. I have a lot of friends who are like “I can’t afford it,” “I don’t have the time for that,” “my life is too busy,” and it’s like if you actually care about yourself, and you want to not hate yourself, and you want to live life in a healthful way, then you will. You will seek out therapy and try to get help for your problems because honestly that’s the only thing that’s made a huge difference in my life anyways.”

As most of us are, there is resistance to therapy. The stigma, the fear, the overall commitment to change.. it’s a lot. So, I also probed a little more about what it was like for her to overcome that resistance. 

“The first time I went to therapy I was the most depressed I had ever been. I was trying different medications and they caused me to become suicidal and that was really scary for me. I couldn’t get out of bed, I was crying every single day. All I would do was lay in bed and watch Les Misérables. It was like a sad movie just made me sadder, but for some reason that was comforting. ‘Cause it was like they were going through so much in the movie but it was comforting to see problems that were worse… I was like okay this is actually scary and I need to fix things or I will be miserable forever or I will die. So yeah, that was the first turning point and then the second time, now that I’m in therapy again, it’s just like I know that’s that only things that’s helpful to me when I’m going through these bouts of depression. The only thing that does help is releasing these things I’m holding inside and until I sit down in that chair I don’t even realize how much I am holding in. I just don’t talk to anyone about the actual hard things that I’m dealing with emotionally and it’s nice to have someone who will listen to that without telling me exactly what I need to do rather just listening and asking me what I think I should do. It’s  a good perspective.”

I don’t say it and I’m not sure I even showed it, but in my head there is cheering and people doing the wave and fireworks going off. Obviously, as a mental health professional, I believe all these things about therapy, but to hear it from someone else, unprompted, doing the work and finding it helpful, it feels so validating. It also just makes me happy as a sister to hear that my sister feels safe somewhere.

So then, I start to wrap up the interview. I tell her when I expect to have the first draft to her. I tell her about the process and I again assure her that if she hates it we can “throw it away” and again we giggle. But then, unprompted she shares she has a “closing remark”. 

“My closing remark is just to be kind. Be kinder to people, ya know? You never know what people are going through and usually people are going through a lot. I feel like it makes a huge difference to just to be kind to people. I know like, especially lately, people are in bad moods and grumpy ’cause of the cold weather and like, I don’t know, I think it helps sometimes just to do something as simple as let somebody merge into the lane. Like it just creates  a ripple effect when humans are kind to each other. I think that’s my take away from all of this. Be kinder.”

I couldn’t agree more- Be Kinder.  

A[wo]men & Shannon Robinson

I sincerely thank Shannon for sharing her story and being so brave and honest with me about her experiences. If you or someone you know has a story they would like to share please fill out the form on my contact page. And if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues and don’t know where to start feel free to reach out and remember you are not alone.

 

 Black History Month’s featured Black Artist:

“So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop
Single mothers waiting on a check to come
Young teachers, student doctors
Sons on the frontline knowing they don’t get to run
This goes out to the underdog
Keep on keeping at what you love
You’ll find that someday soon enough
You will rise up”

-Alicia Keys, Underdog (2020)

Underdog is one of Alicia Key’s newest songs, released this year (2020). It goes through some of the difficult lives that people can experience and still rise up through it all. Alicia Key’s is of Jamaican and Italian decent. She has discussed in various interviews struggling with some of her differences and self-esteem issues as a child. She has channeled a lot of this into her work. For me and our story teller, Shannon, Alicia Key’s was someone we could always agree to listen to. For our stark contrasts in music preference this was a good middle ground. Her music is not only poetic, but also soulful and has a way of making an anxious mind feel at peace.

 

 

 

 

Dream a big dream of me.

Hello fellow readers! Did you miss me? Because I sure missed you. Can hardly believe it’s been a month since we last connected. It was a much needed break with time for reflection and connecting to the real world. I laughed, cried, and watched a lot of Gossip Girl. There was also a lot of ‘oh perhaps I will blog about that’ moments. So many in-fact, that I have several pieces of paper floating around that say things like “7 hours in the airport” and “girl skipping”.  Today though, I don’t want to discuss my travel woahs or how sometimes simple things give me the most joy; today I want to write about dreams. I’ve been having a lot of them lately. Some while I sleep and some while I am awake. There is a thread to them all though, the future.

My last blog post was about my goals for the new year and we are officially in it. 2020 has begun and just as any new year, I have started out strong. THE FUTURE IS NOW. This topic of the future though is a big deal to me. In a previous blog post  I discussed this new possibility of living without suicidal ideations. Since that post, I have absolutely had suicidal thoughts, but not in the same way. They are more fleeting and I am able to breeze past them like I am on a boat just passing by a sea creature and waving goodbye instead of it swallowing me whole. Which, of course, makes the future so much more exciting. I have all of these ideas constantly swirling around my brain. Making plans to travel the world. To turn 30, 40, 50, 60. Thinking about how and when I will get published one day.

When you feel suicidal for most of your life the future is this vague idea that, in all honesty, you don’t think will ever really come. I would speak of the future because I had to not because I believed it was real thing. It just seems to be a common topic amongst humans. What do you think your future partner looks like? What do you think you’ll be doing in the future? What kind of house are you going to live in? My head would yell IT’S BLANK and then I would spit out things I had seen in movies. Now, I want to tell everyone my plans. My partner will be kind, I will be a social worker and/or politician, I’ll have an apartment in Brooklyn with exposed brick! Ask me more!

And you know what else, feeling less suicidal has also allowed me to live more in the present. I have all this free’d up space to really witness the hustle and bustle around me. Instead of spending all of this time trying not to feel like I dying, I can now sit in an airport for several hours and observe the beautifully mundane world around me. Airport people are fascinating, btw. The bar was FULL at 6am and there were several kids on leashes. It is just a whole different place, almost felt like I was dreaming.

Speaking of dreams, I would also like to share changes my asleep dreams. Some of them have been seriously mundane. For example, I had one where I just went and got coffee and then walked to the park and sat in the sun and I met this super cute dog. It was simple and beautiful. I rarely dreamt before and if I did it was always a nightmare. I would wake up in panic with visions of me nearing death, often by way of murder. There are a lot of different theories on dreams. Who knows if any are correct or not, but I do know that something within me has changed. It can’t be a coincidence that when my mental health starts to feel more stable I stop dreaming of my imminent death. I must say, it has been one of the many perks of getting valuable help and really diving deep into my own psyche.

I know it’s cliche, but I am writing all of this because it can get better. Maybe right now you are reading this and thinking about wanting to die. Maybe for the last 10 years you have spent most of your days thinking the future isn’t possible. I see you. You’ve been through things and you have extremely valid pain in your life. If your dreams are more nightmares right now, it’s okay. It’s human and it happens. Please, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself the space to unpack the nightmares because they are there for a reason.

If you aren’t sure where to start, try reaching out to someone to talk to- whether that be me, a friend, a family member, a stranger on the subway, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255).

I see you and I love you and part of my dreams includes healing for you.

A[wo]men

my thoughts are silent films

the meanings my own-

to create

& feel

& hold

to rewind

& rewatch

& rewrite

-how i see my suicidal ideations

 

An all or nothin’ gal

“I know there is love that doesn’t have to do with taking something from somebody”  is currently singing softly into my ears as I contemplate what I should write about. (Thanks, sis, for the recommendation; Francis Quinlan- Rare Things.) What happened this week? What is relatable and helpful for people to know? Should I write about my distaste for PSL’s (pumpkin spice latte’s) as a person that identifies as basic (as my one friend urged me to do)? Do people perhaps want to hear about my recent dates? Maybe they would like to know about my most delicious meals from the week? Or how I almost impulsively bought a cat? Which I am glad I did not because I found out my roommate is allergic. Or would it be more interesting to write about my month long of visitors?

I think I will start right here. Right here in this coffee shop on the verge of tears. As I sit in my feelings I will say today I feel down. I was riding a 4 week high only to crash into one of my lows. 4 weeks is the longest I can remember feeling content. I’ve never gone 4 weeks feeling stable in any feeling really. An accomplishment, to say the least. Yet, on Monday when I woke up feeling like maybe getting out of bed was too much work; and perhaps brushing my teeth would cause physical pain; and probably washing my face was too much to ask for.. I was taken aback. A bit of a shock to the system really.

My therapists words echoed in my head “this is just a story you keep telling yourself. You have to pull yourself out and keep fighting.” Okay, I thought, I will keep fighting. I pulled myself out of bed. I ate breakfast and showered as each step felt heavier and heavier. I went to work and listened to other’s sad stories and absorbed more sadness. I cried on my lunch break. As I wiped the tears away I took a deep breathe before entering the building and said ‘keep fighting, Sarah.’

That night I tried to reason with my emotions. Perhaps you could leave now and, hey, why today? Then I decided to take a step back and look at what happened within the last 4 weeks: I ended therapy because I was doing well. My parents came to visit, then my friend, Kitty, came to visit and then my old roommates came to visit. I started dating again. I texted my ex. I drank alcohol. *Not in that order. I didn’t exercise. I ran out of probiotics. I ate amazing food. I spent a copious amount of money. I wrote an amazing blog post about my sister. I worked. I had my first Saturday off in a long time.

BTW, I know what you’re thinking… ‘She skipped right over that whole ex text pretty quickly. Blame the alcohol and the ex text, for sure.’ Fair thought and def. not my finest moment, I admit. However, I don’t believe that was the catalyst for my low. I think about my experience with him often and have messaged him before even while I felt happy. I’ve come to terms with the fact that moving on from that experience is just going to take time.

What was the trigger then? I skimmed through every conversation I could remember and every scenario that I thought potentially brought on these feelings. It was a lot of processing.  Then, to add some humor to it all, as I am feeling this way (with my whole shtick being honesty and bravery mind you) I post a picture to instagram sharing how much love I felt and how happy I was. The caption reads “My heart is so full I’m at a loss for words” and even as I was posting it I thought ‘this is everything I hate about social media. Why am I lying?’ If I were being honest the caption would read “I can’t think of anything to write because I feel extremely sad and I don’t know why, but here are some hella cute pics.” They truly are hella cute pics.

Then it hit me. Between all the laughter and happiness over the last four weeks, there were other emotions that I was pushing aside. I was clinging onto this idea that I was “cured from feeling sadness” even though I know that isn’t how it works. It was as though my therapist saying I don’t have to come in weekly anymore translated to ‘you’ll never be sad again’. I know from my training that all emotions are valid and normal, yet as soon as I got a glimpse of happiness it’s all I wanted to feel. Every moment I thought I was even feeling anything other than sadness I distracted it. I wrapped myself up in happy activities to push away anything else I could feel. Then, when I woke up feeling sad I immediately went down he rabbit hole of ‘this was all I was ever meant to feel’. Again, logically, I know this isn’t how emotions work. We are not all or nothing creatures, even though my type A personality wants it to be that way. I’m an all or nothing girl in a not so all or nothing world. I think it’s because it makes it easier to keep track of in my head. I know how to handle one emotion at a time. When I start to mix them all together I break down. CANNOT COMPUTESYSTEM OVERLOAD.

Yesterday, when I was still feeling down and trying not to fall into this boxed thinking, I thought back on my feelings of happiness and on my previous bouts of depression. Currently, I don’t feel suicidal. I feel tired and even that isn’t debilitating. In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize my sadness is actually warranted. In the past there wouldn’t always be a reason for feeling low, sometimes it just was what it was. This time around I was feeling triggered by different events. I was feeling depleted of energy because I pushed myself as a hostess for four weeks. I didn’t take any personal time to recharge between visitors. Now, as I am writing I am also realizing that although I feel sad, it doesn’t mean that I can’t also feel happy. Heck, I can feel sadness while I am happy, anger while I am sad, happiness while I am angry and so on and so on. Again, my type A personality would beg to differ, but she’s going to have to get used to the flexibility.

On Sunday, when I could feel my energy depleting, I decided that I needed to do more tasks that help me feel grounded when my emotions started to feel overwhelming. So, I started reading again, something I stopped when I moved to Alaska. Even in these last few days, it’s brought back this new power in me, where I can feel like I am learning again. #imissschool I forgot how much I missed reading and how much it encourages me to keep writing. How words, when strung together just right, can send a surge of energy through me when I didn’t know I needed it. Even sometimes my own words heal me in a way I didn’t think was possible.

I started this post feeling stuck in my emotions, I even considered skipping it for the week- I am glad I didn’t. As I wrote and unpacked it all, I am feeling lighter and as though life is just a little bit easier. Our emotions are part of being human. If you are feeling stuck in your emotions today, know you are not alone. It may be helpful to write it down or draw it out or even say it out-loud. Say I am human and my emotions are just a part of the ride in a way that feels like a release to you. We all go through it and how powerful is it to know that?

A[wo]men


no words can make you heal

but

touching a pencil to paper

or

the grace of a hand on a keyboard

or

the sound of a booming voice

or

the rhythm of a body matching gentle sounds

having your works etched into the universe

that is where you find healing

-the power of your art

Life Imitating Art

Yesterday, I gathered my belongings, googled the best spot to get work done in Brooklyn, and took two trains to reach the Brooklyn Roasting Company. I got a delicious peach iced tea and sat in a spot that could only be described as the most ideal place for writing. I waited till I stopped sweating, opened my laptop… and nothing.

I wrote and erased and wrote and erased until I became so frustrated I was crying in the coffee shop. I closed the computer screen and thought maybe I just need to take a walk. I walked to the water, my usual happy place, and, in all honesty, I berated myself. ‘Why can’t you just write something? What is wrong with you? Are you stupid? Poor depressed Sarah, can’t even write about her own life.’ I then came to the conclusion that Tuesday was not my day to write. I felt defeated, low on energy, and pretty worthless.

I went to go eat lunch because I thought maybe that would help. As I sat in the crowded restaurant staring at the people eating lunch together, watching their conversations flow- symbiotic and mesmerizing- I felt alone, alone and sad. I got up at one point to go to the bathroom and my ass hit my neighbors cup as I tried to squeeze between the two tables. I heard the two people laugh and saw their eyes glance at one another. I was already feeling like shit, let’s pile on more. I could feel my face turning red as I sped to the bathroom. The bathroom, single stall, was where I tried to slow my breathing, hoping my red would dull. Of course, I was so embarrassed from the ass-cup incident I forgot to lock the door and my breathing exercise was not only interrupted, but my red face turned even more scarlet. “Someone’s in here” I managed to say in a high whisper. And then I began to cry again. Knowing I had to return to my booth where I had to shove my ass in between the tables again gave me anxiety. So I returned to my breathe, splashed cold water on my face, and avoided the mirror before returning to the table. I finished my lunch slowly, attempting to avoid judgment from my neighboring tables. I had this voice in my head that said ‘if a fat girl eats too fast while she is alone at lunch that won’t look good.’ Literally, no logic to this sentiment, but that’s where my head was at. As the table on my left (not the ass-cup table) was leaving they knocked their entire wine bottle of water into my lap. I smiled and said it was “no problem at all” adding in my head ‘this is just how my day is going.’ I looked at my phone and realized it was time to head to therapy. Thank yeezy.

I thought about how glad I was that I had therapy and how badly I wanted to cancel. I already knew that it was going to be tough one. Yet, I pushed myself to go. I knew it was what I needed. I hopped on the train to uptown Manhattan and arrived 40 minutes early, as someone with anxiety often does, and laid down in Central Park until it was actually time for me to be there. As I laid down it started to drizzle and I thought about how the sky is crying because I am crying. It felt like I was symbiotic with nature in that moment. Both of us rinsing our pain with water. I may not have had a lunch pal but I can always rely on nature to sit and engage with me.

It was then time for my appointment.

I went inside, sat on the couch, and burst into tears. “What’s coming up for you, Sarah?” My therapist often asks me this and I have to think about what is triggering my responses. “I feel empty. I’ve felt empty. I went to write, which is how I usually let things go, and nothing came out.” The session went on like this for about 60 minutes. Crying, exploring, crying, breathing, exploring, crying. Towards the end of the session my therapist said “Sarah, I’m scared for you. Are you scared for you? It feels to me like you are drowning.”

“Yeah, I feel like I am drowning.”

“Have you felt like this before.”

“Yeah, every few months or so. It’s just a cycle I am on. I know this will pass.”

“That’s bullshit.”

Damn, she said that. I was taken aback, but also grateful to hear it.

“I’m sorry,” she continued “but I don’t play games in here. We tell ourselves stories and we start to believe those stories. You have trauma and yes, I am sure it feels like you are ‘stuck on a cycle’ but you are not stuck. It is up to you to end it, Sarah. You have to fight for yourself; everyday you have to fight. It’s not easy, but you have to do this for yourself.”

And with those final words she gave me a hug and whispered again ‘you have to fight’.

I left that room and felt her words echoing in my ears- “You have to fight for yourself.”

I hopped back on the train towards Brooklyn with my next destination in mind. I wasn’t headed home, I was headed to CKO Kickboxing. Why? Well, for one I had made a promise last week to try new things. Two- I walk past this place everyday and think ‘I should really try that’ so I figured today would be the day I do. Three- I am watching Riverdale still and Archie is doing boxing and it looks badass. Four- They have a 29.99 special for three classes. Five- I have to fight for myself.

It was hard. It was painful. It was exactly what I needed. Every hit, kick, run, and jump I felt myself fighting to be alive. Fighting to break a cycle, or a story rather, that doesn’t need to be my story. I sent my therapist a message thanking her and informing her of the class. She told me she was happy for me and that I can do this and to “KICK ASS”.

There are so many stories we tell ourselves yet, we forget that we wrote them and we can erase and rewrite and erase and rewrite until the very end. Yesterday, I felt defeated that I couldn’t write; my pattern of writing and erasing felt exhausting. Today, I realized that was an exercise and reminder for me- the epitome of ‘life imitating art’.  Every time we write we can erase and every time we erase we can rewrite. Today, I woke up- sore from my workout- excited to rewrite.

Everyday I wake up is a chance to keep fighting and writing. I hope you all keep fighting and writing with me.

A[wo]men

*Note: I found my new, amazing therapist from My Wellbeing – a website dedicated to finding the right therapist for you. If you’re in the 5 boroughs area and on the search for a therapist you can truly connect with, follow the link and fill out your profile today*

 

The Social Media Revolution

Hi Friends, you may have noticed some upgrades to the site (and if you’re new here welcome and I hope you enjoy the lewk). I have decided to take my blog to the next level- the professional level. *Look at me adulting* This upgrade has been something I have been stewing on for quite some time, but the reason I chose today is because a spark was lit in me. I believe the main ignitor was therapy- ergh let’s be real, I KNOW the ignitor was therapy. All of this work I have been doing on myself- my patterns, the parts of me holding me back, baby Sarah- I finally realized I had the power to change. I know, that’s like the therapy moments in the movies, ya know?

I used to say that I hated those people that had a ‘thing’. You know the type, where they have something that they are so passionate about that they almost seem to emanate it. I was always jealous of the sports kids, art kids, and well pretty much anyone with a hobby. My hobbies seemed to include hating myself and helping others. The latter I was able to make a career of and the former is what deterred me from trying anything else. When I left therapy yesterday, I started to think about what could be my passion? What is something that brings me true joy and clarity? I’d like to say that writing jumped up at me like there was no real thinking to it, but I honestly made a list for quite some time before hitting on the blog. As I sat there writing all of the things I loved -bread, cheese, pigs, photography, music, Stranger Things– I had this moment of looking at my pen and being like ‘duhhh’. Of course, that passion has been here for awhile, but that inner voice told me I wasn’t good enough to take it further. The inner voice told me I couldn’t have writing be my passion because I am not a trained writer; therefore, no one would want to read what I have to write.

Yesterday in therapy I talked to that inner voice. See, that inner voice, like baby Sarah (see post-Nobody Puts Baby [Sarah] in the Corner), is also my protector. When I spoke to the voice I told them that I appreciated all the pain they have protected me from. I hugged them and thanked them for continuing to motivate me to be better. The image in my head was that of a cartoon. I was the little girl in Inside Out and my inner voice was a cute little black fluff ball. Then, my therapist encouraged me to invite a new feeling in with that inner voice and all of the sudden me and the little black fluff ball were hugging as we were surrounded by hundreds of little yellow fluff balls. We felt warm as we were surrounded by a new energy. When the hugging ended I told the voice I didn’t need it and that they could hang around if they would like, but they couldn’t speak to me in the same way anymore.

I know what you might be thinking, especially if you have never done inner work, ‘this sounds like some hippy-dippy-shit!’ I know this because I have been that person. The person that scoffs at the idea of letting your imagination help you to heal. It seems made up, and while part of it is, when I let down those walls and open up to the idea that it could work, my imagination started to go wild with it. The point of me telling you all of this though is to really bring to the forefront the ideas that we create about ourselves; the stories we decide to showcase. Going to therapy, consistently was a challenge, even as a therapist. I resisted feeling vulnerable because it is scary. Telling you that I talked to an inner-voice in my head, and also gave it an image and a story line, also feels vulnerable and  scary to type out loud. It is stories like this that I think we need to hear.

Yesterday, a friend of mine was doing a hard creep on my instagram and commented on one of the photos “little did we know these nights cloaked in depression [would form] an impenetrable bond.” When I reexamined the photo we were so bright and happy it was hard to believe that it was taken during the height of my depression. These were the days where my suicidal ideations were stronger than ever, yet when you look at that photo it is near impossible to tell that fact. 34 likes on that picture and most of them probably thought I was in a really good place, they were none the wiser. This is why I am telling my stories… my real stories. Because the pictures we paint on the internet are often glossed over with smiles and joy. We don’t often see posts of the hard times, heartbreak, pain, anger, but we all know we are experiencing it.

This is why I write and I share. My stories may not be very different from anybody else’s, but to me that is the point. I want people to know that they are not alone. And just as powerfully as a funny image on Instagram can bring me joy, so can a sad post on Instagram that brings me connection. I want to be a part of a revolution on the internet where honesty and bravery become the norm; where all emotions are brought to the table and we begin to normalize and accept all emotions. I feel that when we start to see this shift we will see a decrease in suicide rates, self-harming disorders, body-image issues, etc. With the internet being run by happy posts and joy it sends a message that fear, anger, sadness, disgust and any other feeling you can conjure is bad. This, as we know, is incorrect messaging. All feelings have a purpose and are valid.

So I am giving you all a call to action- share a new emotion on the internet. Join me in the social media revolution by following my Instagram and liking my Facebook page and use the hashtags #honestyrevolution #braveryrevolution to post stories of some of your own truths.

xxoo

A[wo]men