This Is Us Showing You a Breakdown 

Breakdowns are rough. The lead up is like inching up towards the highest peak of a rollercoaster, only you’re blindfolded and you don’t know when the drop will occur. 

The hit family show This Is Us portrays the breakdown in the most relatable manner I have yet seen in television. The signs are so subtle, Randall’s hand starts twitching, he misplaces words and thoughts, eyes wondering all over the place to avoid looking at the problem right in the face. 

There’s a moment at the end when Randall’s brother, Kevin, comes to his office late at night to find Randall in the middle of a breakdown. Randall is sitting in the corner of his office, silent tears streaming down his face; as Kevin sits besides him and holds Randall, he collapses. 

I sat with tears as I watched this, thinking of a day that occurred 3 years ago in my senior year of college. The signs where there for days; I’d been impatient with my roommates whenever there were too many voices or topics of conversation going on at once, I’d been showering 3-4 times daily (it seemed to be the only place where I could listen to my mind without wanting to slam my head into a brick wall), and my nails were constantly picking at myself (scabs, nail polish, etc). 

I felt like I’d been swimming in water with molasses slowly being added, making it harder and harder for me to move an inch forward without feeling exhausted. I had so many obligations to others, school, and my job that finding time for me was well near impossible. The time I did make for myself, I used to find and have my very last one night stand ever. 

I walked into my senior thesis class dressed to unimpress. I clearly remember wearing sweatpants and a plaid flannel shirt, my curly hair was down and curled around my head like a cloud. I was thankful for my hair later, for it covered my face enough during my breakdown that few could see my face. 

I won’t describe what happened, it’s still hard for me to talk about without feeling I’m reliving it. So I’ll give you a metaphor. I was an over-inflated balloon, full of anxiety and pressures that I was trying my hardest to keep condensed and contained. My classmates? They were the darts. They began slinging themselves at my balloon, holes started to spring in the surface and leak out my emotions. I try to patch them up and hold them over, but the darts don’t stop flying. 

I don’t know how long the critiques took that day, it felt like hours of criticisms and complaints, all aimed towards myself and my friend (who was also a balloon at this time too). Who knows how long it took, but finally I popped.

I reached out and snatched my bag from the floor beside my chair and stood up so suddenly I almost knocked the chair over. I mumbled something like, “Excuse me” and burst out the door of the classroom.

I remember breathing. My breathing was so loud I was sure everyone I passed thought a wind was upon them. All I thought was “Keep moving and they won’t catch you. Lock yourself in and they won’t get you.”

I remember slamming into my dorm suite, three of my roommates looking up from the common room table to see me move past in a beeline for my bedroom, where I slammed the door and locked it. 

I kept the light off because light showed to much, I didn’t want to see what I had turned into. It was the first time I’d walked out of a classroom, I was positive the professor was already calling my parents to tell them what a terrible student I was. 

So I called the only person I knew exactly what I was feeling in that moment: My brother.

My brother, Will, had been struggling with anxiety for years. I’d seen him go through his own breakdowns, so I knew he could help me through mine.

“Hey Joy, what’s up?”

I don’t remember what I said, but it sounded a lot like a screaming harbor seal. I was sobbing and wailing, even I couldn’t make sense of it. My roommates were outside my door knocking, asking me if everything was okay. I wasn’t okay. My balloon finally burst, and like a popped blister everything hurt with every breath.

Will calmed me down, telling me to breathe. Just breathe in, hold, then slowly exhale. When that worked, I told him everything more coherently. Later my parents called and comforted me as well. 

I sit here now watching Kevin hold Randall, and warm tears fill my eyes as I remember Will’s voice telling me gently to breathe. The thing about breakdowns is, you don’t know when they will happen; and when they do happen, having someone there to remind you to breathe makes all the difference in the world.  My kudos and deep compliments to Sterling K. Brown for his superb acting and portrayal of anxiety and nervous breaks.
Find me on twitter @JoyPearson for more anxiety antics

Advertisements

Graduation

My therapist and I sat in silence. The silences don’t normally last long, I always find something to fill it with; an observation about a film I’d just saw, a complaint about the tone of voice a coworker used, something or other got under my skin, whatever. 

This silence lasted longer. I couldn’t think of what else to say. I talked about all I had that was on my mind, most of it I was able to solve myself within the same amount of time it took for me to describe the ailment. So I fidgeted in anxious silence, and she leaned forward, “So, shall we talk about our work here?”

I felt the air in my lungs grow still; I knew that one day this was going to happen, but it always felt too soon. The thing about therapy is that it becomes a security blanket. Whenever something awful happened or a panic attack sent me into isolation, I knew that come Wednesday I would be seeing my therapist to dig and work through the problem like a cleaning out a fresh scrape on the knee: it stings and it’s painful, but it’s bandaged up in the end to begin healing. 

Now, my wounds have long scabbed over and healed; some of them left scars behind, but they’re nothing that I can’t sooth with some Louis Armstrong and a long hot bath. The nicks and cuts I get here and there I find myself treating with my box of tools I’ve been searching and gathering for in therapy. 

The smile in her eyes told me she knew I was ready, but still fear and anxiety clawed up from my chest and into my throat. She tells me clients normally slow down to an appointment once every two weeks before termination. I nod in agreement, though my chest and throat are chocking on anxious smoke. ‘Termination’ makes it sound like I’m being prepared for euthanasia.

I leave her office 20 minutes early in a stupor. I can hear my anxiety smoking nearby and calling out, “She doesn’t want to see you anymore. She’s terminating you!” but her smoke is far out of my air space so it doesn’t effect me. 

I recognize this is a good thing. I came into her broken, now I’m healed and taking care of myself once again. But like a security blanket, I don’t want to let her go in case I start to fall. 

I’m at the start of a new journey; I have two weeks from now to go out on my own and handle my baggage alone. When the baggage first arrived, I wasn’t given an instructional guide or a map. I was being told to move, but I had no idea where or how to move. So I went to therapy and gradually got a tool box and filled it up. Now, I have a rough idea of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, and I’ve got the tools with me to fix any problem that comes my way. 

For all I know, next week something will happen and I’ll revert back to my weekly sessions. But for now, I’m going to be painfully optimistic and set out to take on my mental/emotional health battles with my toolbox at hand. 

This is all Jenny Lawson’s fault

So…. something amazingly unexpected happened…. and I’m still too emotional to write about it, so I’m just gonna go on the record and say “THIS IS ALL JENNY LAWSON’S FAULT!” And post the video of my reaction for you all to watch and understand.

Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson for more emotional shenanigans 

My Movie Madness

So…… today is a difficult one to swallow. I’ve been in a deep denial over the state of politics in our country. I don’t want to acknowledge what is happening, even though it’s impossible to ignore.

So today I’ve decided to distract myself in the best way I personally know how: films. 

I adore films, I watch at least 2-3 films a day and am always looking forward to new films coming up in theaters and netflix. I really love to watch the same films repeatedly, a practice a lot of my friends and family don’t understand. It gives me comfort to see characters I know and love, I find familiarity in the storylines and enjoy quoting my favorite lines. 

So to bring some comfort to myself, I’m going to start a list of my favorite rewatchable films and include why each film brings meaning to me. It’s going to be an ongoing list, I’ll update it regularly, but I hope that those who are reading will comment to suggest their favorite comfort films for me to check out. 



Godzilla (1998 starring Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Hank Azaria)

I’m starting off with a quirky one that a lot of people really love to hate. My first memory of seeing this film was in a hotel room in Canada, we were visiting family and my Papa (my paternal grandfather) had come to spend some time with us. My brother and I had been flipping through the television channels when we came across a gigantic lizard making a nest out of Manhattan. I had never seen anything like it outside Jurassic Park, and I was absolutely in love with it. 
My brother and I can quote this movie backwards and forwards, we watched it until the VHS tape literally broke (and even then we still watched it despite the fuzzy picture quality). I’ve owned every version of the film (VHS, DVD, Digital Download, Blu-Ray). In the 1st grade I excitedly took my Godzilla lunchbox to school, ignoring the teasing and stares I got from all the other kids for my extreme love of this oversized lizard. 

 A lot of people hate the film, and most of them really enjoy telling me how bad it is, but haters and gonna hate and I’m gonna keep on enjoying the hell out of something that (to me) is so great.


The Sword in the Stone (1963) 

 Oh man, where do I begin? Anachronistic references to the future? Archimedes, a highly educated owl? The Magnificent Marvelous Mad Madam Mim? This has been a film that I’ve constantly returned to for smiles and laughter. Whenever I feel bad I find myself humming “To and fro, stop and go, that’s what makes the world go round.”

 It’s bright and fun, full of color and life. It teaches lessons in taking control of your destiny and educating yourself beyond the restrictions of social standing and popular opinion. Though really, the Wizard’s duel is one of the coolest things Disney has ever animated.
Sabrina (Starring Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, Nancy Marchand, Greg Kinnear)
 I’m gonna be honest, I’ve never seen the Audrey Hepburn version. I know, it’s a crime! But ever since I was browsing Harrison Ford films on netflix and came across this gem, I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch any other version. John William’s score is as beautiful and iconic as any other film he’s done. The sets are lavish and full of color and personality as we explore the grand Larrabee estate and follow Sabrina on her journey of self discovery to Paris. 

 Harrison Ford is charming playing essentially a richer version of his grumpy self. He wears Indiana Jones glasses while in a tux that makes me swallow my tongue every time he enters the Solarium. Julia Ormond is glorious as a quiet mousy wide-eyed girl who finds empowerment within herself whilst exploring feelings of unrequited love for undeserving men. This movie has me constantly dreaming of going off to Paris to walk along the Seine until I find a bridge that I love, where I will go to daily with my journal to sit and listen to the river and keep our secrets between us. 

 The overall lesson of the film is so eloquently expressed that I’ve carried it in my heart ever since. On the subject of unrequited love and crushes, a French woman tells Sabrina, “Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws.” This is so very true.


Only You (starring Marissa Tomei, Bonnie Hunt, Robert Downey Jr., Fisher Stevens)

 I new the name Robert Downey Jr. for years, but I never saw a face to pair with the name. I had absolutely no idea who he was, other than he was an actor who had some drug issues. I was up on a Saturday evening flipping through my movie channels when I stopped on TBS; A movie was just beginning but I’d miss the announcement of the title. One of my favorite games was trying to guess the film that was playing if I missed the title sequence. I saw Robert Downey Jr.’s name flash up as a star, and my curiousity was piqued. 

 The first time he appeared on screen felt a lot like the first time I saw a future crush: my heart completely stopped. He’s charming and handsome, quirky and funny as hell. I don’t condone the character’s actions, but I do get a good long laugh from watching him charm his way through Italy.


The Town (starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, John Hamm, Blake Lively)

Loving Ben Affleck was never hard for me to do. Sure he’s had his ups and downs in film roles, but when he wears both hats as an actor AND a director he is able to do astounding things. Set in his beloved Boston, Affleck plays a former hockey player who’s in the business of robbing banks with his buddies. He falls in love with one of the victims of a robbery and struggles to figure out how to get out of the game and restart his life. 

 All around an amazing film, the story has so much heart and is acted so well by an amazing cast. I’ve watched it hundreds of times, it always makes me hold my breath with nervous anticipation. 


Frankie and Johnny (starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino)

This movie is how I fell in love with Clair de Lune. Their chemistry is explosive, Al and Michelle make electric magic when they share the screen with each other. The story is of a man recently released from prison who gets a job working as a fry cook in a New York diner. There he meets Frankie, a waitress who has no time for him and turns him down at every turn, until she finds herself ready to let someone into her life again. 

 Told with heart and humor, the film tackles deep and heavy subjects while showing you the beautiful small quirks in life that make you smile. With a fantastic supporting cast, this is my favorite Garry Marshall film.

This is an ongoing list I plan to update as often as I watch and expand my film library. 

What do you see when you read me?

That’s a serious question I think about, not just a title for this post.

I wonder what you all thing when you read what I have to say. What do you assume about me? What do you imagine my day looks like? Are you judging me for whining? Am I being dismissed as another sad white girl? Am I overthinking? Am I under thinking? Do I need to stop thinking all together?

I don’t really want to know the answers to these questions. I think the answers would hurt way worse than the constant plague of anxiety induced questions that fill my head. But it doesn’t stop me from wondering, it’s basic human nature to wonder what others think of us. How we handle that curiousity is another monster all together…

(follow me on twitter @JoyPearson for live updates of anxiety and stupidity).

Gorilla’s in the Chest

Whenever I make a mistake that causes someone hurts, it takes a while for me to get over that guilt. Today I was struggling hard in the car to settle my brain and the pulsing bad feelings in my chest. So I recorded some poems to work through the ugly feelings going on in my chest.

A gorilla named Guilt

Lives caged in my chest

Slumbers on in contentment

In a deeply delicate nest

Anxiety hits unexpected

Bolts of lightening hit hard

Guilt awakens and roars

It’s all completely off guard

Fist slam thunderously loud

Pain spreads out in aches

Play music, sooth Guilt’s pain

Now let’s see how long it takes

RIP blog post

Getting a new piece of tech can be truly magical, but not without its myriad of frustrations. I wrote a draft for a blog post the other day, it really meant something to me. How do I know? Because it was something that I carried in my chest the last few days laboring over how to give birth to a new blog post musing the magic of words. 

It was an awesome piece, I got to throw in some Shakespeare quotes (which I then bastardized) and contemplate the many wonderful literary and lyrical worlds I’ve been transported to thanks to the craft of stringing words together to make sentences/thoughts/lyrics/etc.

I thought I’d saved the draft (in fact I’m positive I did), but now I’m home from work looking all over my iPad and coming up with nothing. The piece is gone. 

I know some of you are rolling your eyes thinking “It’s not a big deal, don’t pretend you’re Hemingway now.” But I’m hoping a fair amount of your understand the grief I’m in right now. That piece meant something to me; it was a love letter to words, one that I’ve been formulating for years now. My love for words knows of no boundaries or depths. Words are pieces of magic that, when carefully paired up, can create beauty or wreak destruction. Words are power, words matter.

I’m trying not to feel too upset. I suppose this post is almost like an obituary to my deceased post, honoring what I lost while also reveling in what I love. To make this  simple end to a rather pointless post, I shall quote my favorite line of Shakespeare:

Words, Words, Words.
(Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson and tweet me the play I just quoted and you’ll win a prize [Spoiler alert: the prize is a high five {Spoiler Alert: I don’t like people so you’re not actually getting any prize}])