The Year the Music Died

Music. It has the power to make you smile or make you cry. It can transport you to another time conjuring memories of all sorts of things. It can immediately remind you of certain people or times in your life. Of happy days or sad days. Of trivial things and monumentally important moments in your life. It has power. And it has long been one of my favorite things in life.

 

Music can offer comfort when you feel pain. It can give you an outlet for pain or rage. It can be a mindless distraction. It can help you focus. It can do all of these things and more but mostly it can make you feel.

 

I was raised around music. A constant stream of different genres and artists and albums playing in the car and at home. We often played name that tune together as a family and I had a great and varied musical education and an appreciation for all types of music. It was woven into every memory I have. It was a thing I needed and loved in my life. It was important to me in so many ways.

 

I am constantly listening to music or just singing. I often make up my own songs or hum or whistle along to whatever task I am doing like a constant soundtrack to my life. I played 3 instruments in high school and belonged to the choir and participated in musicals. My dream was to move to New York and perform on Broadway. On my last birthday back in March my family bought me a drum kit because learning to drum has been a dream of mine for a long time. To say music is a part of my life is not giving it enough credit. Music is a part of me. It is woven into every fiber of my being. My life has never felt complete without it.

 

Until this year.

 

When my depression and anxiety started getting really bad I found myself turning off the music. I no longer listened to it at my desk at work. I didn’t listen to it at home. I even turned the radio off in the car. It all sounded like noise in my head. It annoyed me and made me at times angry. It made my anxiety worse. It made me jittery and unable to focus and I just felt deep down bad when it was on. Even in the background. I stopped singing. I stopped whistling. I stopped drumming.

 

My life became pretty silent.

 

I don’t know why this happened. If it was the memories? After all I am working through some pretty heavy shit from my growing-up years and maybe music is so interconnected with that time in my life that I can’t separate it. Or maybe it is just the way that depression takes all of the joy out of your life. I know how much I love music and it brings me happiness so maybe my brain was trying to take that away. Depression is a savage bitch sometimes. It doesn’t just make you feel “sad” but it  also takes away all of the coping mechanisms and things in your life that bring you joy and make you feel good. It leaves you empty. It turns out the music and leaves everything silent.

 

There are so many things that used to bring me joy that depression has ruined in the last year. Running, exercise, outdoors, nature, time with my family, just the beauty of the world around me. It has dulled my light and muted the colors and turned down the volume of the song in my heart. It is one of the worst things about depression. You can no longer do the things that bring you happiness. And you spiral down into the dark with nothing to lift you up out of it.

 

Lately, though, the volume has started to turn up again. Little by little I am turning the radio on. At first it was in the car. Then sometimes around the house and even occasionally at work. Little baby steps. Just like all of the other little things that used to make my heart sing. The other day I even caught myself whistling as I walked down the hallway at work. It actually startled me at first but then brought a smile to my face.

 

Depression is tough. It is dark and cold and scary as hell. But when you start to come out of it is a beautiful feeling. Like spring in Minnesota. It starts so slowly it is almost imperceptible. A little tiny thaw. Then a little more and a little more until things start greening up and you notice the sun has been shining for awhile now. I have felt the first trickle of that thaw and noticed a little more sunshine. I hope it keeps shining. Because I sure as hell missed it.

 

If you are struggling keep holding on. Spring is coming. Maybe not soon but eventually. So keep doing the hard work. It is worth it. You are worth it. And we need you ❤

Do (Some of) the Things!

The other day I got home from work and I did a little knitting, watched a TV show, prepared breakfast for the next morning and got the coffee ready to brew in the morning. It doesn’t sound like much but I did all of this without even thinking about it. I didn’t have to pep talk myself or force myself. I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of guilt that made me do it. I just did it because these are things that I needed to do or wanted to do. I haven’t felt this way in so long I can’t even remember.

 

The last few months or maybe even year I have been so deep in the trenches of depression that I have had no energy or will to do anything but just survive. I wake up in the morning and the only thing I have in my mind is to make it to the end of the day so I can go back to bed and I mostly just have the goal of surviving this one day. I can’t even consider the next day. I have no other concrete goal and I enjoy almost nothing. But beyond that I have no desire to do anything.  And so I have done almost nothing. I have pretty much checked out of daily life. There is a reason my kids call it crippling depression. I mean, who in the world can’t even find the motivation to turn on the TV while sitting on the couch and watch a show?

 

I wake up each day, go through the bare minimum motions of life, spend a lot of my time on the couch doing nothing, and go back to bed. I barely help with household chores, I don’t have any desire to do any activities and find no joy in anything. Every single action at work, at home, with my family has required a pep talk and an enormous inner guilt trip to motivate me. I have to make a conscious effort to do even the smallest most mundane thing. The amount of thinking that goes into each and every action is exhausting. And it is no way to live.

 

It is crazy how this “surviving” becomes a way of life. It happens over time and you hardly notice it but you sort of get used to it. You actually start to forget that this is not normal life. There is supposed to be joy or at least not total misery. Everything is not supposed to feel so hard.

 

But lately that is changing a little.  I am slowly getting over the feelings of dread associated with any activity that takes me out of the house or places me among other humans. I have even started making plans again. For the last few months all planning has fallen to my husband because I cannot even bring myself to think about later in the day let alone a future date. I cannot commit to doing something in the future when I don’t even know if I am going to make it to that future because everything just hurts so damn much.  It is a pretty great feeling to think I can commit to doing something a few days from now because I think maybe I might still be around. I think that might be the most primitive form of hope.

 

I have a long way to go but for now this tiny inkling of hope is enough. It reminds me of what life used to feel like before my brain started wanting to kill me. It reminds me that it hasn’t always been so bad and so damn hard because I was honestly starting to lose that memory.  That maybe, just maybe I will be “normal”-ish again. That is enough.

 

If you are in the deep, deep trenches of crippling depression remember that it gets better. I know right now you might not believe it and you probably can’t remember it but I hope that reading this can help you find a little hope. You can do hard things. After all you probably get out of bed most mornings and is there really anything harder than that? You can do it. And you should. Because trust me, you are worth it. And we need you ❤

Here Comes the Sun

You know that feeling you get when the weather has been bad for weeks and you haven’t seen the sun for so long and you are starting to feel downright despondent and then one morning you wake up and there it is… the sun… all big and bright and beautiful in the sky and everything feels so much better; happier; more hopeful? I had that feeling yesterday.

After weeks of just faking it. Of just trying to get through this day, then the next one. Of setting my sights on getting past the next impossible task and processing the next impossible emotion. Of day after day of hard work. Of basically just surviving. Of triage. I felt something different that I didn’t even recognize at first.

Yesterday for the first time in so long I could hardly remember I felt happy. Real honest to god happiness. I felt like a giant black cloud had lifted and the sun was streaming down on my face it felt so fucking good I don’t even have words for it. It felt warm and hopeful and new. In fact it felt so good that I actually made plans. My husband Dana and I had a night just the two of us and I made a plan for a date night. One that involved going out of the house and doing something. He didn’t even have to talk me into it. It was not guilt motivated. I came up with it on my own and suggested it and actually WANTED to do it. It felt crazy and foreign and awesome.

Aside from that I thought about the upcoming new year with hope. I thought of things I wanted to do. Goals. I haven’t set a goal aside from getting out of bed each morning and surviving the day in months. But I thought of a few things I wouldn’t mind actually accomplishing this year. It felt good.

For the first time in a long time there was no grief in my heart. I did not think about the losses I have suffered this year. I did not weep about the things that aren’t. I did not long for those that do not value me. I felt peace in the present. Hope for the future. I felt “enough.”

And when I talked to a friend at work about seeing her next year we both agreed that next year was going to be okay. Because you can’t have more than 2 years in a row that are total dumpster fires. Those odds are just too bad. And I believed it.

The holidays this year felt impossible. I didn’t know if I could make it through, but I did. I am finally on the other side of that shit show and I know I made it through. I can breathe. I can enjoy the view from the other side. And it’s not awful. It is actually, in this moment, beautiful.

I don’t know how long this feeling will last. Sometimes it is just a day and sometimes it is much longer. I guess people who struggle with depression never really know when those clouds will roll back in. But we do the best we can with the sunshine while it is here. We have to try to live in the present and not think about the future because we know that darkness will be back eventually. It always comes back. But it’s not here now and that is good. It’s enough. I hope that this time the sun stays around a little longer.

I hope. And that is a thing I haven’t done in a while.

Pillows of Peace

I spent a pretty big chunk of Saturday and Sunday crying. Not really the spirit of joy most people have during the holidays. The problem is that once the tears started on Saturday they just wouldn’t stop. Even when I was done ugly crying the tears continued streaming down my face for another 30 minutes as I went about doing dishes and making lunch. And they continued well into Sunday. Off and on, but often.

To be honest I felt relieved. I haven’t cried much since I started my meds back in October. I am an intensely emotional human. I am quick to cry at something as silly as a commercial but nothing has really brought tears lately. I was kind of worried the meds were numbing me a little but at the same time I don’t know if that is really a bad thing. After all, I have cried more tears in the last year than most people do in a lifetime and it felt kind of nice to have a break from them.

The tears were weird on Saturday though. We were watching TV and I started to cry and I just couldn’t stop. I don’t even know why. It was my sister’s birthday and normally that would be hard but I didn’t feel particularly sad about it. I didn’t feel any kind of catalyst or feeling at all. I actually felt pretty disconnected but the tears didn’t end. When you don’t know why you are even crying it makes it difficult to stop. So I just kept crying. For about an hour and a half. Then again later that night and the next day too. There was no warning when it would start, it just did. And once it started it seemed like I would never be able to stop.

In hindsight there are so many reasons for the tears. So many kinds of grief in my life right now that are especially present at this holiday time. I realize that now, but in the moment all I could feel was guilt. I felt like a disappointment. I have ruined this Christmas for everyone in my family. With my ever present sadness. With my tears and depression. With my inability to find joy in all the beauty and happiness around me. For my children and my husband who love this time of year. Who have given so much to me this year. Who must be so tired of this bullshit. I felt despondent. I felt low. I hated myself and I felt right back to where I was in October. Thinking that everyone else would be much better off without me.

I received a card on Saturday in the mail from my dear sweet friend Kathy. I didn’t read it right away because I know her cards are always full of beautiful, kind, compassionate words and they always make me cry and I was not in a spot to read it. So I glanced at it and set it aside. I continued crying my tears but later on Sunday I went back to it and it said this:

’The tears… they streamed down and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart… and upon them it rested’ -St Augustine
Thinking of you Beth… praying for you. May your sweet and tender heart be given moments of rest during this season. Pillows of Peace to you my friend. I love you.”

I had never heard that quote before but it stopped me. That sentiment is so perfect. I was thinking today that I have gone through a lot in the last few weeks and I haven’t shed any tears. And oh did I need to. I have lost people I love deeply. I have struggled with darkness and hopelessness. I have spent a holiday away from my family for the first time ever. So much loss. Tears for me have always been cathartic. When I let go it is sometimes terrifying the intensity with which I feel but it brings with it a kind of peace. After all the tears and crying and feeling I am left feeling cleansed and also exhausted. The tears truly do make a pillow for my heart and I finally get some rest.

I haven’t been sleeping again. A common thing when my depression and anxiety get worse which leads to exhaustion and feeds my depression and anxiety even more. But after all the tears this weekend I finally had a decent night of sleep. I didn’t lay in bed and replay conversations in my mind. I didn’t imagine different outcomes to things that were already done and can’t be changed. I felt peace. And I had some rest. Not enough to catch up but a start and for today that felt like enough. It feels like a place to start recovering again.

I hope that I can remember my need for tears. My need for this beautiful cleansing ritual. That I can get past my shame and guilt and remember how important the tears can be for healing. For moving on. I hope that I can teach my children all of these things so they will never feel that familiar to me guilt and shame. Tears are holy and important. Just like your feelings. And there is nothing wrong with either of those things. So feel deeply. Cry often if you need to. And may you find peace for your hurting heart if you need it right now. It is okay to not be okay friends. Pillows of peace to you in your struggles ❤

The Most Horrible Time of the Year

This time of year is the perfect storm for a mental health setback and I am struggling right now. The holidays are historically a terrible time for me to begin with due to grief issues and this year I have had a few additional setbacks to add to it. Some more grief to add to the pile.

My sister died many years ago after a short battle with cancer. She was 16. We were very close. You never get over that kind of grief and it haunts you at the holidays especially. It is so tough to be missing a little piece of your heart at a time of year when everyone is so happy. It doesn’t help that her birthday is December 23rd. An extra layer of grief added to the equation. The holidays were her favorite time and I am reminded of her daily by any number of things. The memories are happy but make me long for her nonetheless. Everything is tinged with “I wish Melissa was here”. Happy times are sometimes made less than happy by that thought. Everything feels just a little darker and my heart always feels like it is missing a little something that it can never get back.

My childhood wasn’t awesome and I have a lot of very bad memories from growing up. Things I have been confronting and dealing with in therapy. The holidays are a time that you are bombarded with images of happy families. I am currently grieving a lot of the things I didn’t have at a time in my life when I needed it more than ever and this time of year is one big reminder of that pain and grief. Pretty much on the daily.

I have lost 2 of my closest most trusted friends recently which were a big part of my support system. They are friends that I still see often in my daily life but they are no longer here for me in the capacity they used to be and it has hurt me so much. I grieve the closeness and love that I used to have there and having to see them often makes things even harder because “what used to be” is right there in my face all the time. I’ve talked before about the way that I love fiercely and without limits and that adds to the hurt I experienced in both of these situations. I loved these 2 people so much that when the were able to just let go of what I considered 2 of my most important relationships it feels like a slap in the face, like they must not have ever cared for me in the same way I cared for them. It has left another little hole in my heart.

So I am left with layers of grief. I told my husband the other day that I just feel like I have lost so much this year. At the beginning of the year I was massively depressed and didn’t want to live but I had the closest friends I have ever had. A strong support system and a lot of love. A family, albeit not a healthy one. Losing so much of that in such a short amount of time has been an enormous hit to my heart and my self confidence. Christmas is already a time that I associate with loss and to add this on top of it all seems impossibly hard. December is a time of reflection and evaluation for so many and to me 2017 feels like one gigantic dumpster fire. I just need to get through the holidays and this shit storm of a year and try to find the energy on the other side to rebuild.

So then the guilt comes. Ever present in my life for so many reasons but brought on even more at this time of year. Seeing people happy and never feeling that way; wondering what is so wrong with me. Watching my kids light up and knowing I am just trying to “make it through”. Feeling like there is something so wrong with me for not feeling the joy that is everywhere this time of year. So much guilt.

I don’t have any words of wisdom for you if you are struggling my friends but I can tell you this: You are not alone. There are many of us just trying to just make it through. For many of us this is not “the most wonderful time of the year”. It is a slow hard uphill slog through trenches of shit. It is an uncontrolled garbage fire. And we are just trying to survive. Maybe that can make you feel a little less guilty. Or at least a little less alone. We will make it through like we have so many times before. And eventually it will feel a little less shitty. And if you need some help because it all feels a little too hard please try to find some. And if you can’t please call 1-800-273-8255. We need you. I need you. Love to you guys ❤

 

I’m here. I love you. You are important to me.

I’ve found that people don’t really know how to deal with crazy people. Especially crazy people in crisis. I think that is because most people are “fixers”. The vast majority of people need to do something to feel like they are helping. They need to fix a problem and they need to see results to feel like they have helped. The problem is, depression can’t be “fixed’. It just has to be survived. Kind of like a storm. You buckle down, make it through and when the worst has passed you evaluate the damage, try to pick up the pieces and move on with whatever you can salvage. There is no fixing in the middle of the storm. And there are rarely positive results afterwards to measure your “success”.

I have a lot of experience in being there for people who are struggling and I feel like I have learned a lot in the last couple of years from living through the storm myself. So I am going to share a little bit in the hopes that it can help you if you want to take on the supremely hard but incredibly important work of being there for someone. Here are three things that helped me when I was in crisis.

1. The most important thing you can do is to not do anything. You need only be there. It sounds simple but it is one of the hardest things you will ever do. To just be there for someone. To just sit there steeped in the pain without words, not giving advice, not actively doing anything can feel impossible. Especially when the pain is thick in the air and it hurts your heart just to be close to it. But the best thing you can do is to just be present. We as people want to help, we want to fix, we want to take away the pain. But sometimes there is no helping, there are no words, and you just can’t help with the pain. During my darkest times my husband asked me on so many occasions “What can I do to help?” The answer quite simply is nothing. There is sometimes no helping these dark scary feelings. But you can be there with them. You can stay with them, hold them as they cry, listen to their pain, show them with your presence how important they are to you. It won’t fix anything. But it may just give them the strength to keep trying.

2. Express how important your people are to you. Love is powerful. At my lowest point I felt like I was a burden to everyone around me. My brain lied to me, telling me I was worthless, that nobody loved me, that the world and my family and my friends would be better off without me. And I believed it. All I really wanted was to hear that people loved me to combat the lies my brain was telling me. That they valued me. That I meant something to them. Unfortunately most people don’t say these things. And for some reason “I love you” is so hard for some people to say. It takes vulnerability and I think deep down we are all afraid that others won’t reciprocate so we keep it to ourselves. If you know somebody who is struggling tell them how much you care for them. How much you love them. How important they are to you. How valued they are. There were days where one person reaching out to say “I love you and I am thinking of you” was enough to keep me going.

3. Check in when you are not with them. Check in so they know you are thinking of them. This helps to combat the feelings of being worthless, of feeling unloved. It is a tangible way to show that they are on your mind not just when they are right in front of your face and not just when it is convenient. It shows them how important they are to you. Even a short text can accomplish this. A note here; Check-ins are helpful and important but trust is even more important so if you tell someone you are going to check in later you need to follow through. If someone is in crisis and they feel like nobody cares about them and a friend says “Hey, I’m worried about you, I’ll check in later” and then doesn’t follow through that can wreak havoc in a brain that is already distorting and lying to you about how nobody loves you. One of the worst things that happened when I was in crisis was one of my closest friends saying they were worried and they would check in but never following through. They did this often. It sent me spiraling more than once thinking that if my own best friend didn’t care about me enough to follow through and to check in when they were admittedly worried for my well being how much could they really care? Would they even notice if I wasn’t here anymore? I probably wasn’t as important to them as I thought I was. It reinforced my fears that my brain was right, it wasn’t lying, nobody cared about me. After all If one of my closest friends couldn’t bring themselves to care why would anyone else? If you are saying you care enough to check in be sure you follow through. That trust can be impossible to gain back.

To summarize if you are looking to help someone out… Be there, tell them you care, show them they are important. Three steps that are difficult yet also so simple. If you don’t know what to say you can try “I’m here. I love you. You are important to me.” I think those are the most important words you can ever say to another human. You have no idea how much they can help someone. Even if it gets them through just one more day. That may be enough to gain some momentum for the next. It may be enough for them to feel like they are worth it.

These are just three things that have been on my mind. Things that were helpful to me and that have been helpful to others. There are so many other things and everyone struggles differently so these may not help everyone. If you have advice or things that have helped you please feel free to share in the comments section. I would love to have tools to add to my box. We could all use a little more to help in the fight. Every little bit helps.

I’m Officially Less Crazy?

Yesterday I had therapy. I started therapy about 6 months ago. Back in June I realized I was no longer able to deal with my mental illness on my own and I could no longer find reasons to want to keep living. I never went so far as to make a plan to end my life but I spent a great deal of time wishing I wasn’t here, thinking of why everyone would be better off with out me, imagining “accidents” that could happen to me, longing to be done with life. It got worse and worse. After a couple of long nights one week where I lay in bed all night not sleeping, praying that if God really loved me he would just let me die, thinking I didn’t even care if it was cancer or something long and horrible and painful because I probably deserved that, I just couldn’t do this anymore, I decided it was time to get help. Being a person who is not a fan of medicine I decided that therapy should be my first step.

So I scheduled an appointment. I started out weekly. For months I went every single week and sat in that office and talked about dark, scary things. I talked about the past, the horrible memories and feelings I had and how they had messed me up deep down inside. As I dealt with all of these feelings and learned to process them instead of push them down and ignore them I was sad. Sometimes I was inconsolable. I was filled with dread for how long and hard this journey would be. I sometimes lost hope. I felt emotionally destroyed. Sometimes I was so damn angry. Mostly though, I cried. Every single week I left that office and I cried. At first for days at a time as I tried to process these feelings and make sense of everything I was learning and remembering. Then after a long time just on the same days my appointments. After months and more hopelessness and more wanting to die and more hard work and more setbacks and finally meds things started to get better. I still cried but only right after my appointments. I was making sense of things. I was learning to process and cope. I had tools for dealing with the pain and the difficulty.

About 3 or 4 weeks after starting meds I left my therapy appointment and I didn’t cry. For the first time since I started. We had still talked about hard things. There were still bad things happening but we talked through them. We made a plan and talked about my feelings and I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel that familiar sense of hopelessness. I felt so successful. So proud. I had worked tirelessly to get to this point. We decided that I needed only come every other week. I was elated. It felt like for the first time in years I was succeeding.

Yesterday was appointment day. I no longer have anxiety attacks before I go. I no longer get the feeling of dread deep in the pit of my stomach. I feel like it is just another day. Just another thing I am doing for myself to make myself more healthy. This week a few really bad things happened. Things that would have sent me into a spiral of self-hate and hopelessness in the past. But as we talked we realized that I’ve got this. I am coping in healthy ways with difficult situations. I am not blaming myself or hating myself. I have supportive, amazing people surrounding me and helping me and loving me. I am enough. We decided yesterday that I do not need to come back for a month. A MONTH! I felt so proud of myself in that moment. I can’t help but think of how I felt 6 months ago. I have come so far. I have put in so much hard work. And it is finally paying off. I am finally feeling some happiness.
My first day of therapy was one of the hardest days of my life. I left exhausted. In fact, I felt that way for months. Learning to be completely honest about scary stuff not only with another human but especially with myself felt impossible. The work I was doing felt impossible. There were so many times when I thought I was not strong enough to do this work, to keep going. But I did. And it turned out to be the best thing ever. I feel strong and healthy. I feel like I can handle anything. I know that depression and anxiety will always be here. They do not really go away. But now I have a box full of tools to help me in tough times. And I have learned through this process which relationships are healthy and which people are really there for me. My support system. The ones who have showed up every day. The ones that have showed me that they love me not just at my best but also at my absolute worst, at rock bottom. The ones that were here when it felt impossible and even though there was nothing they could do they were present. They just sat with me and said I am here; I love you no matter what. That is the greatest gift I have ever received. And I never could have done this without them. They gave me the strength to keep on working.

If you are struggling I strongly recommend seeking out the help of a therapist. It can be overwhelming and daunting to think about starting. Especially knowing that the first one you try might not be the right one. But when you do find your person it will absolutely be worth it. And it is so much better than the alternative. You deserve some happiness. We all do. And you are absolutely worth it. Just like me.

“I think it’s the meds Mommy”

I have been on anti-depressants for about a month and a half now.

Starting meds was the hardest thing I have ever done. I fought it and made excuses for a long time because I was so terrified. I was scared for so many reasons. I thought the meds would change me, numb me, make me less-Beth. I thought they would take away my spark. I have high highs and low lows and I have always been okay with the lows because the highs are so amazing and I have never been willing to give that up. But the lows were getting scarier. Every time they got lower and darker and I didn’t know if I could survive if they got any worse. So even though I was sick of doing hard work and making tough choices I made one more. I started meds.

The other day we were driving home from school and Melissa was telling a story about one of her teachers. He told their class that if they were ever rooting for someone to fail just because they didn’t like them they should probably consider getting therapy. I laughed and said I was a horrible person because there have been a couple times where I might have thought that but joked that I am in therapy so at least I am trying to get better. The kids talked about how much better I was doing. I talked about the hard work I was doing and how helpful therapy is. Then Melissa said “I think it’s the meds Mommy.” It was funny and we all laughed but I thought about it later.

The meds are one of the best choices I have ever made. They have made things significantly less dark and scary. They have taken the edge off. They have significantly decreased my anxiety and given my brain space to process things more. I am not in a constant state of worry about every tiny thing and every single person and every situation in my life. I am not constantly blaming myself for EVERYTHING. Taking responsibility for everything. I am learning how to let that shit go. Now I know this isn’t all the meds. It is a combination of learning better coping mechanisms and having realistic expectations and getting more than 2 hours of sleep a night and working through some really bad, really scary shit from my childhood and taking time away from severely unhealthy relationships and realizing exactly how much my partner and many others care for me and love me because they have gone beyond the call of duty to show it. It is all of these things. But I couldn’t do any of these things the way I felt before. That broken part of my brain could no longer recognize the good and sift through the shit because it was just so damn busy worrying and being in pain all the time. Take that edge off and it is amazing what can happen.

So I am not less-Beth. In fact for the first time in a couple of years I feel like me. The real me. The way I used to be. The Beth that I loved and missed more than I have words to express. At therapy the other day my therapist said she felt like she was meeting the real Beth for the first time and she was so happy for me and everyone else in my life because she had heard so much about this Beth and she is every bit as wonderful as she suspected. I almost wept with joy.

I have so much work to do still but for the first time in a long time I feel like I can actually do it. I am ready and less weary. I have the tools. I know it is worth it. All my hard work is finally paying off. All of those tears and sleepless nights and hard decisions have brought me here. I am finally getting better.

But then again it’s probably just the meds 😉

Just Be You

The other day a friend of mine tagged me in something on facebook. It was a shirt that said “Be you. Relentlessy, Courageously, Authentically, Unapologetically. Be you.” It got me thinking. Two years ago this was exactly how I lived my life. It is how I teach my kids to be. I shout it from the rooftops to every single one of my teenage daughter’s friends. I tell them no matter what happens just be you. If you are too much for some people then they are not your people. Never change yourself to make other people comfortable. And never apologize for who you are. Because you are absolutely perfect and beautiful the way you are.

But depression and anxiety changed me.

I haven’t been confident in my skin in a very long time. My mental health issues have made me smaller. They have made me more scared. They have made me second guess every single thing I do. They have stripped my confidence. I feel overwhelming guilt all the time. I apologize for every single thing I do, sometimes even the things that make me me. I assume that literally every bad thing that happens is my fault. I have not been the real me in ages. I have been something less than. A sort of smaller more blurry reflection of Beth. In fact I had almost forgotten who I was. When my therapist asked me to start making a list of things that make me Beth, Beth things, I had a full blown week long anxiety attack and went into a full-on crazy-spiral.

But lately that spark that makes me Beth has started to return. Instead of acting like everything is ok when it clearly is not I decided to start talking about it and that has helped immensely. Because how can you be authentically you if you are pretending a huge part of you doesn’t even exist? This is who I am. This is what I struggle with and I know I am not the only one. So why hide it? People say it takes courage to talk about the hard things I talk about but really it is just me being unapologetically, authentically me. I am a messed up broken person but that mess and those jagged edges have made me what I am. They have helped refine the best parts of me. They have helped me to understand other people’s struggles, to love them even more than I did before. Without judgement. To realize that we are all struggling with something and doing the best we can in this moment. All of this has helped me to just be there for people. The good in me sees the good in you y’all, even if you can’t right now. And I will try like hell to help you see it, too, because that is what my people have done for me. They have reminded me that the Beth I loved is still in there, I just had to do some searching. And even though she has changed a little she is better than ever. I am ready to be me again. I am ready to stop apologizing and get back to just being that person that I used to love so much. But a little bit new and improved.

So join me. Be you. Relentlessy. Courageously. Authentically. Unapologetically. Be you. Whatever that looks like. Because you are pretty fucking awesome. Just like me.

Breakdown on the Beach

 

“I just don’t want to love people anymore. It hurts too much.”  There is a reason I am in therapy y’all.

 

This weekend I had a slight emotional breakdown on the beach at the end of Park Point mid-run in the freezing cold wind. And by slight I mean I sobbed for a half mile leading up to this quote and it culminated in 10 minutes of ugly crying and yelling and slimy snot running down my face. It ended with me weeping into Dana’s shoulder telling him I just felt so bad because I didn’t want him to be stuck with me forever. It was beautiful. I wish you could have been there. Talking about your feelings is awesome!

 

One of the biggest things I struggle with and my main focus in therapy right now is relationships.  I am not super good at healthy relationships. My personality is sort of all or nothing, and when it comes to relationships and loving people I err on the side of all. I am really great at loving people but I have no boundaries. I am all in, 150%, and there will be no doubt that I love you but I open myself up to all sorts of hurt in the process. I am not good at “acquaintances” or “surface friendships”, I am all about being your bestie. I am a care-er and a do-er and I will care and do like all of your happiness hinges on my ability to make you feel loved and I take it as a personal failure if my people are not happy. It also doesn’t help that the level of empathy that I have for others is frightening so I feel everybody’s pain deeply. I am compassionate and I will sit with you through your pain and suffering, be a source of unending support and comfort. I will be with you and share your pain but I will take it with me and I feel it later, I will worry on it, I will cry about it. And because I am uniquely qualified to love broken people because of said empathy and compassion I surround myself with them and feel a sort of constant ache in my heart for those that are suffering around me. It is a recipe for misery.

 

The way I am a friend to others and my ability to love are both my biggest strengths and also my biggest liabilities. We are working on making them more into strengths and less into liabilities. The building blocks are all there. I want to be able to continue to love people in a way that shows them that they are important to another human. So that they feel that love deep down and completely in their soul and that there is no doubt that they are valued. I am good at that. But I need to learn to do it in a way that is healthy for me, a way that doesn’t hurt so damn much. And I need to realize that if somebody cannot love me back that is not a failure on my part. I get my choices and they get theirs. I have to learn to let that shit go. It is not going great right now but I am working on it.

 

I have a particularly hard relationship that I am dealing with right now that led to this breakdown. A friend that I care about and love an enormous amount but it is one of the most unhealthy relationships I have ever had. It is nobody’s fault, it just is, because we both are the people that we are. I need to find a way to move on and be healthy. But love and pain have a pretty deep correlation so because I love this person so much it is causing me an enormous amount of pain. And I don’t want to let go of the good because of the bad. But the bad is hurting me a lot. It’s complicated I guess but I need to figure it out because it is emotionally draining. Also I have approximately 350% more feelings than an average human and I feel them 5 times more intensely than anyone I know so that doesn’t help an already emotionally charged situation much.  I guess the moral of this situation is that love is complicated and sometimes it hurts us in the end. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on it completely. I need to realize that just because this one relationship is causing me pain it doesn’t mean I should give up on all of them. Just because my ability to love so completely caused me so much pain in this one situation I cannot stop doing it altogether because it is valuable. It is not all or nothing.

 

I have a gift. A pretty incredible one and I do not want to stop using it because it occasionally emotionally destroys me. I have to find some balance. I have to see some grey. And thankfully I have a team of people helping me to do that. A partner that lets me feel all of my irrational feelings and tells me they are okay because they are mine and holds me on the cold beach while I break down and is my constant voice of reason and is forever trying to help me be the best me. Children that deal with my crazy in ways that are both beautiful and humorous and that have an unending stream of love for me. A few friends that love me fiercely and make damn well sure that I know it on the daily by giving me constant support and affirmation. A community of other crazy people I have met through sharing my struggles who are so supportive it blows my mind. I am lucky. And I need to keep reminding myself of that. Especially when things get hard. Because loving people is hard work. But it is absolutely worth it.  

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