Everyone is on Meds

Social anxiety, for me, happens when I go out into the world and I feel like everyone is watching me. I can feel eyes on me watching my every move, even reading my thoughts… It’s that feeling that there are a bunch of cameras hidden, and they’re all pointed at me; I can’t see them, but I know that there are people watching me. They’re judging, critiquing, mocking, maybe even laughing at me. Every move I make is seen, and thought or feeling I have, even though I’m not saying them out loud, are broadcast throughout the land.

My social anxiety often feels like The Truman Show.

When a wave of social anxiety approaches me, I start to assume that everyone I meet is on medication. Every person surrounding me is on one medication or another, so they’re no different than me.

Like my father always said, “Better living through chemistry.”

I like to look at people and think, “I bet you’re bipolar, aren’t you?” Or “You’re so taking Ritalin,” and then I identify my Xanax homies and Lorazepam bros.

It’s a device, like picturing the audience in their underwear. It’s a means to make an uncomfortable situation bearable. By assuming everyone I meet is also on medication, I feel I am on equal terms with them. I don’t feel inadequate, I feel like I get where they’re coming from.

Telling people I’m on meds is disarming. It makes people feel either uncomfortable, confused, or relieved. The uncomfortable don’t know what to do, and usually end up saying ignorant hurtful shit that ends with me telling them “well then you’re not really someone I want to associate with, so fuck off.” Confused people offer an opportunity to educate individuals about the importance of mental health and wellness. The relieved feel blessed, “I’m on meds too! I’m not alone! We can be messed up together!

Medication is a great way to make friends, connections, learn something new, and most importantly: just all around feel so much fucking better about being alive.

It’s hard to feel good about being alive sometimes. Meds make it easier to feel good about being alive.

My depression, when untreated, feels like a wound/injury that I feel all day everyday. I wake up in the morning and think, “ugh I’m alive, but I’m in pain! It hurts! This sucks! “ but then I get aid, be it in the form of a band-aid, therapy, or medication and everything starts feeling better again. Feeling alive starts to feel good again.

Before medication, my anxieties were crippling and my depression made living miserable. I once told a counselor, “I’m alive, but it hurts, being alive actually hurts. Having to function hurts. Going through the necessities of life is hurting me. Paying bills, taxes, laundry, recycling, driving, ordering, appointments, etc.”

Basic life functions may be easy for others, but when you wake up already in pain, going through those functions is like pouring salt on an open wound.

It’s like I have a broken leg but I’m walking on it anyways and going to work thinking, “I’m here, I’m getting what I need to do done. But it hurts like fucking hell while I do it. It’s making me more miserable, it’s making me worse….” If you walk on a broken leg without treating it, it won’t get better and it won’t be tolerable. Even if what you have to do is something that is necessary for life, you won’t be able to do it until you take care of that broken leg.

So I’m on medication to manage my mental health, I have been for the past three years. I used to feel shame about that fact, the stigmas of mental health were gossip fodder for my anxieties that made me want to quit meds and stay in my cave of shame. But then something amazing happened; I began waking up and feeling excited about being alive. I could face my days not dreading the pain I’d endure, but instead determination and motivation began flooding my system.

I started to become less socially anxious when I began trying to assume who was on what medication, then silently sympathizing with that person’s pain. When I make these silent assumptions, it is not done in search of truth. I am not looking to diagnose anyone or correctly guess what medication that person may be taking. Instead, it is a way for me to filter my social anxieties so that I may not feel inadequate or unequal with whomever I’m speaking to. Being in social situations is hard, especially when I feel like there’s something wrong with me all the time. By assuming that there’s something wrong with everyone else, I don’t feel I am the only one struggling.

You’re not alone. Even if it’s not being said aloud, everyone’s medicating their pain one way or another. You don’t need to be ashamed, but you don’t have to talk about it either. You do you.

Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson

This piece was edited by the magical Sarah Fader @thesarahfader on twitter

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The Chase and the Fall of Squeaker the Mouse

I think a fair share of us have witnessed a moment similar to this one.

I was settling down in bed for the night when I heard TC come up the stairs and into the bedroom. I started calling for her to come up on the bed (she always responds to my invitation). Her head peaked over the side, and I saw she wasn’t alone.

By matter of circumstance (AKA I was taking selfies) I had my camera on and turned to snap the above pic just before she leapt up on to the bed (hey, I did invite her after all…)


For those of you who’ve never truly ‘experienced’ cats, they like to bring their humans gifts. Given how much I dote on TC more than the other three cats, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise she wanted to return the love. But a simple cuddle would have sufficed!

Seeing the mouse I, of course, yelled “OH SHIT!” And leapt out the bed, shooing TC off the bed towards the door, so she could devour her gift elsewhere….. then she dropped the mouse.

I swear to every deity with my hand on a stack of Jenny Lawson books that when TC dropped that mouse, the little shit turned it’s head and smirked at me. Before the full “IT’S ALIVE!” Thought was coherent in my head, the bastard dashed under my parents’ bed.

I could tell from the glee on TC’s face that a grand hunt was about to take place resulting in a massacre under my mother’s bed. So I picked her up and (gently) threw her out of the bedroom and shut the door.

Squeaker (I dubbed him) scurried out underneath the bed and went for the TV cabinet. Fortunately, the cabinet is situated in the corner, so I had the little fella trapped.

 


Using towels and a pair of jeans, I blocked Squeakers exits while I waited for my brother to arrive. When Will got there, an Oscar worthy chase took place.

Will took some amazing dives, full body launches that would have had John McClane proud. The shower I’d taken earlier had been rendered null by the sweat stains all over my pajamas as I dashed up and down the stairs getting tools for extraction.

Unfortunately, after Squeaker dosappeared under the murphy bed in the spare room, he met an accidental end by hiding under a board that my brother stepped on (and rocked back and forth on to prove he wasn’t under it, I believe I said something along the lines of “JESUS FUCK AND HOLY HELL OH GOD!” When I lifted the board and saw the semi-flattened carcass) thus ending Squeaker.

He put up a valiant chase, Will and I really tried our best to get him out alive. After Will left, I went looking for TC. I found her hiding under my car, looking a little nervous. Once inside, and back where it all started in the bed, I cuddled her close and giggled, “Thank you for the gift, little warrior. I know you meant for the mouse to be a present, but getting Will and I to reenact the movie Mouse Hunt [one of our favorite films] might have been the best gift you’ve ever given me.”

RIP Squeaker

Just Keep Living

I took myself on a date today, and it was wonderful. Who knows me better than I know myself? Absolutely no one except for whoever can secretly read my mind (If that’s you, I’m not even sorry for what I thought about during Captain America: Civil War, you only have yourself to blame).

I let myself sleep in properly, waking up naturally around 9 AM and letting myself goof off on my computer for a couple of hours. I roused myself out of bed and began my self-pamper process: take a long hot shower and spend lots of time combing out the knots in my hair (It’s a process when you have naturally thick/frizzy/curly hair).

After showering, I decided to play with the new ‘my story’ feature on instagram. One of my favorite processes is putting on makeup. I actively look forward to playing with products and using my face as a canvas. As someone striving to become an independent artist, making up my face is my favorite way to show the world what I am capable of.

Making myself up to a point where I felt fierce and confident made me excited and ready to go out with myself. When I feeling beautiful, I rarely feel the need to compensate with fancy dress or conventional female date dress. I love feeling comfortable, so often I wear a regular t-shirt and yoga pants with comfy flats. Feeling confident and beautiful, I went and grabbed a bean burrito from Taco Bell and took myself to the movie theater to see Suicide Squad for a second time.

It saddens me that movie critics went into the film seeming ready to hate it at all costs. It’s so unfair that they couldn’t come into it without expectation. I saw it opening night the first time, I felt myself completely enthralled in the film that is pure dark fun and madness. Harley Quinn has called to me since she was first introduced in the animated series, seeing her on the big screen as portrayed by Margot Robbie gives me no end of pleasure and happiness.

After the movie, I indulged myself in a small Target shopping spree (and by ‘shopping spree’ I mean a new tooth brush and work out t-shirt) and met up with two of my best friends online for a Google Hangout.

I have very few, practically a handful of good memories from my college years. Nearly all of them include by best friends, Amy and Jenna. I was honoured to be present at Jenna’s wedding ceremony a few weeks ago; it was the first time I can really remember in my life that I cried for happiness and love in my life. Jenna was very much my comrade in arms throughout college, and remains my loyal friend to this hour of this day.

The conversation was full of laugh and love for each other. Full of loyalty and trust as we laughed at goofy memories and hopes for what might come for us in the future. They’re the ones who make me smile when I think about where I am today as opposed to days past.

Now I end my day relaxing in my office chair by the window; smelling the crisp cool late night breeze of summer while I contemplate what netflix show I’ll watch next while I wait for my pizza to finish cooking.

I live for days like today. Where I am able to remind myself of how much I can love myself and love the people in my life who love me as well. I am honoured for what I have earned myself at this early stage in life and hope for more days like the one I experienced in the last 24 hours.

I end with my personal twist on Dory’s mantra ‘Just keep swimming’

Just keep living, Just Keep living

Just keep living and living and living

All that you’ve go to do is keep living, living living.

 

 

How to ‘be’

I think the moment I stopped being uncomfortable with myself was the moment I stopped trying to be anything. I cut off expectations, I changed perceptions, and I took ahold of my identity and personality in a way that made me feel like an individual rather than a copy of something else. I learned how to just ‘be’, which is harder than winning a volleyball match with both hands tied behind your back; you end up falling and getting hit in the face a lot.

I’m still learning how to just ‘be’, I’m always wanting to improve or change something about myself. I want to learn how to line dance, but I’m too anxious to got to a country bar and try in front of strangers. I want to try to be bilingual like most people are, but finding people to practice with who aren’t strangers is impossible. I have an intense, innate desire to learn new things to better myself, to always be trying to make myself better. I was always trying to ‘be’ something.

When I stopped trying to be different things, I felt pressure relieve over a short period of time. I allowed myself to sit for hours doing nothing but read, rewatch favorite movies/tv shows, meander through the wetlands and try and count how many different bird calls I hear. I learned that I have an intense desire to be solitary, but I want to have connection with people at the same time. I really enjoy texting and instant messaging friends and colleagues while I’m alone, as it gives me the time and breathing room to formulate decent human responses that won’t have them thinking “Did another loony escape from the booby hatch again?”

I have a deep abiding love for human connection, for watching how people interact with one another and studying the behaviors that make them… well…. human. People watching is easy to do from my apartment window, also messing with battling Pokemon at the gym located just outside my apartment is a never-ending source of entertainment.

I love randomly driving around and listening to music; any road that is heavily wooded and teeming with flora and fauna is my bread and butter. I’m all about any place that can transport me instantly to another world, real or no, in my imagination.

Learning how to just be is a never ending lesson in life. Being is surprisingly hard to do, even more so when you’re trying to be something you’re certainly not (and you always know when you’re not). I started learning how to be by muting all of my expectations, both internal and external, for myself. They’re still hanging out in the background, but they’re no longer a guiding force in how I exist. I started letting myself be naturally drawn to things such as activities, stores, parks, books, movies, conversation, people. I learned how to just let myself be in moments I was not obligated to be anything else, and slowly I felt myself shift more into what I’m starting to believe is my true self (God help us all).

Okay, enough babbling. Time for me to ‘be’ and rewatch The Lost World for the billionth time (Because watching genetically modified prehistoric beasts mauling and punishing humanity for their stupidity will never not be vastly satisfying to me).

Text-shaming my elders

Facebook Conversation I had today with my friend, Doc.
Doc: I went shopping for a fourth of July bbq I’m throwing tonight.
Me: Nice! Kathryn is coming over and Alex is barbecuing steaks.
Doc: kewl. A manly tradition*
Me: I don’t think ‘kewl’ is necessarily unmanly, just incredibly preteen
Doc: HAHAHAHA
Me: Let’s be honest here, preteens learning how to text and IM are the only ones using ‘kewl’ when it is the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF LETTERS as ‘cool’
Doc: ok fine, text-shamer
Me: I text-shame shame my mother too, you’re not alone 😊
Doc: I’m glad you’re so proud of yourself. For an encore, you can find an old man and kick him down a flight of stairs. 🙂
Me: Nah, I’m just going to find a small geriatric and punt them off the balcony 😊
Doc: I’d pay money to see that
*I’d like it noted that I was not wearing my glasses and misread this as “manly fashion” and thought he was gendering the word “kewl”, hence my spontaneous diatribe. But I stand by what I said, plus I had a cat in my lap at the time; and we all know when one has a cat in their lap, they must remain there until the cat let’s them go less they be murdered. So really my laziness saved my life and ergo this blog! You’re welcome planet!

 

I might have had an epiphany?

“On a scale from ‘confidently cool’ to ‘belongs in the booby hatch’, how ridiculous would it be if I ran down to my car in my building’s underground parking garage wearing only my PGA boxers and Batman tank top to grab something from the trunk?”

That was the question I asked Facebookland this morning as I laid in bed stressing about unfinished work to be completed today. I have found that if there is any one thing more overpowering than the worst kinds of anxiety, its laziness. I take after sloths in that I love to relax in one spot for hours at a time; writing, reading, watching movies and tv shows, painting, sketching, whatever activity that allows me to remain stationary for long periods of time.

I had left my watercolour sketch pad in my car last night, and I desperately needed it in order to finish a set of greeting cards (I am working on selling handmade greeting cards, hoping to make a living off it someday *crosses fingers*). I had no where to be for five hours and I had already planned on remaining in my pajamas for the majority of the day (I revel in days I don’t have to wear a bra or pants, they’re heavenly), so understandably I had no desire to put on real clothing for less than a minute to go fetch my pad.

My anxiety was standing by my open window, the witch’s anxious smoke blowing mostly out the window rather than overwhelm my chest. My cousin replied to my Facebook status, reassuring me that I should go for it as he often chases critters off his porch in his boxers. I smiled and got out of bed, shoving my feet in my TOMS and stuck my head out my door. There wasn’t a trace of anyone, so I scurried out of my place and down the stairs into the parking garage.

I made it halfway to my car without running into anyone. I was feeling pretty good and calm as I climbed into my car to retrieve my sketch bad, when a car suddenly turned on next to mine and I shouted, “LUCIFER!” (Don’t ask me why I shouted the dark lord’s name, I promise I don’t worship him. Though I have always wanted to get a cat and name it after Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother’s cat, though really I want to just call him ‘Lucifee!’ in the same voice as Jacques the mouse). I stayed frozen still in my car until the car backed out and left the garage, then I slowly climbed out of my car and locked up.

I was halfway up the stairs before I began laughing at the ridiculous situation. I realized that there were zero chances of my ever meeting that person, much less they thought much of the odd girl in pastel blue PGA Tour boxers and Batman tank top. The whole scenario was yet another goofy situation my laziness got me into. Even if I had run into anyone, I don’t think I would have felt anxious or panicked.

I find my desire to be comfortably stationary often makes me a lot less anxious about how I appear to people. My anxiety takes a back seat when I get sloth-like, I ultimately find I am happier when I can blame a situations, that would normally make me anxious, on my sloth moments instead. I’m not quite sure what that says about me….

I am at my happiest when I am comfortable, when I don’t have to wear specific clothing items in order for me to feel presentable in public (BTW my idea of ‘presentable’ is likely different from yours, its a broad term). When I earn my days where I get to be alone and comfortable, my social anxiety all but evaporates. My desire to remain in comfort mode is like a large fan that blows all my anxiety’s witchy smoke out of the way.

I might be on to something here you guys…. I’m not saying this is the key to all happiness, but I think the key to my happiness is comfort…. huh…. Did I just have an epiphany?

Screaming Ke$ha at Mormons

I’m fresher than that Gucci

Them boys they want my coochie

I say “No, I am no hoochie!

-Crazy Kids by Ke$ha

After my panic attack the other day, I decided to get out of town and go somewhere new I have never been before: Pullman, WA. One of my best friends, Amy (Who also is my editor for this blog [she’s also just all around the best]), had had a hard week previously in having to oversee the euthanasia of several sheep for work. We’d talked earlier in the week about my coming to visit, but after my panic attack I knew I needed a break and miniature vacation.

The drive from my apartment to Amy’s in Pullman is about four and a half hours. I downloaded Jenny Lawson’s audiobook, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), and made a long playlist (including my new favorites Me & The Rhythm by Selena Gomez and Wild (feat. Alessia Cara) by Troye Sivan) to enjoy on my road trip.

I love solo road trips. I visit Amy frequently in her home town of Pendleton, OR but had yet to see her apartment in Pullman where she was currently located for work. I adored the long hours on the road, taking in views while listening to music, books, or even just silence. I have always found my deepest meditations have happened by myself in my car.

This trip was no less satisfying than the others. I headed out yesterday morning around 11:30, stopped at McD’s for breakfast and set off on my trip. Midway through Snoqualmie Pass, there was a twenty six minute delay in traffic due to a three car collision up ahead. While others around me were visibly peeved to be stuck in traffic, I made the most of it.

As I inched along, at one point I found myself right alongside a truck transporting a herd of cows. In no less than a minute did I have a grin on my face as I rolled down the window and made eye contact with one bovine, “Hey, don’t you wish we could moo-ve faster?” I giggled, not giving a damn that I was making bad puns to a cow, “TIME TO GET A MOO-VE ON!”  I cackled gleefully. I never enjoy myself more than when I’m by myself with an animal nearby to blankly stare at the crazy lady laughing by herself.

Eventually I got unglued from traffic, leaving the road wide open for the rest of my trip. I arrived at Amy’s in the early evening and fell in love with a girl named Widget. Amy opened the door to her apartment and my eyes immediately fell on the fuzzy lump in her arms, “HELLOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” I immediately zeroed in on the Kitten and forgot all about my best friend. She’s a 1 month old tabby, with wide curious eyes and a penchant for chewing on my thumb; I was head over heels in love with her. Amy is fostering her while she recovers from a cold, I became dead set on adopting Widget as soon as she was out of Amy’s care. However, today I found out she is already set to be adopted by a family. Even though my mind has already conjured an entire life with Widget, I’m really glad she already has a home ready to welcome her.

Amy and I had a blast catching up at dinner in Moscow, Idaho (I’m still disappointed we didn’t fly to Russia when Amy told me the restaurant was in Moscow…) and spent the evening fawning over Matthew Macfayden’s delicious brooding in Pride and Prejudice.

This morning we got up late and met our friend, Sarah, and explored the Moscow farmer’s market (Three words: Lemon Curd Crepes). The day was perfect as we explored booths in the sunshine, Amy picked up a bottle of Huckleberry mead which we took back to her place to enjoy while making commentary over the rigid stillness of Richard Madden’s dong in Cinderella (Which is one of my favorite movies {Not because of Richard Madden’s penis [which is quite impressive and appears to have a gravity of it’s own]}).

We met Sarah again and went out for pizza and drank wine. I order a flight of white wine, which included 3 well poured glasses. So I was a bit buzzed after dinner, taking over as DJ in Amy’s car as she drove us to go get Fro Yo and some bottles of wine to drink at her place. I was in the middle of rapping Crazy Kids by Ke$ha when Sarah pointed two Mormon boys walking on the sidewalk of the road we were on.

Without pausing, I rolled down my car window and as we passed the boys screamed, “THEM BOYS THEY WANT MY COOCHIE!” The car swerved a little as Amy started laughing and Sarah cackled in the back seat. I grinned maniacally as I kept rapping and singing along to the song, “We are the crazy kids!”

I’m sitting on Amy’s guest bed right now writing this out, looking over the last two days, and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to drive out to see my best friend and have insane adventures. Where I can let my crazy fly without fear of critics or judgement. Being a stranger in a town full of people for less than 24 hours gave me the freedom to completely relax and be myself with my amazing friends to cheer me on. This trip was exactly what I needed.