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.

 

 

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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).

Hello, my Tweethearts!

I’m diving back into the ocean that is Twitter (or would it be the sky since birds tweet?). As a suggestion to get my creative juices running, a friend recommended that I post any random goofy thoughts I came up with throughout the day. I’m hoping that by interacting with other writers I’ll find inspiration and motivation for writing. Thus far, I believe the twitter community thinks I’m a homicidal necropheliac (long story….. Go read my twitter feed to get an idea).

My goal is the post once a day, even if it is a few sentences. To make myself accountable, I’m tweeting my word count at the end of the day. I don’t really care who follows or reads, but I figure that if I post it publicly I’ll be forced to keep writing.

So for anyone who wants to read the random bits of nothing I write from my head, you can follow me on Twitter @JoyPearson and/or Instagram @ThisJoyfulLife (Instagram just launched their own snapchat feature that I’m planning on utilizing, so you can get a full glimpse into the dull insanity that is my life [Though why you’d choose to put yourself through that I have no idea, you might be crazier than I am….]).

Such Fun!

Emotional balloon

You ever have a day where you can only describe the way you feel as deflated? It’s the only word I can think to describe how depression effects me. At one point, I had a (metaphorical) balloon; it was full and light and floated up towards the sky happily. Some people have never had their balloons deflate, they’ve remained afloat their entire lives. For me, depression makes mine deflate.

At some point, small holes were poked into my balloon that began slowly releasing air. About two years ago, my balloon was deflated completely and I had to carry it in my hands instead. Before you tell me to just throw out the deflated thing, you have to know that it is a part of me, it’s what holds my motivations, hopes, dreams. I can’t throw those away without losing a huge part of myself.

For months I had been performing CPR on my balloon, blowing it up futilely to only have it float sadly to the ground after a few hours. Fast forward two years, my balloon is patched up and covered in bandages, floating happily beside me most days. However, inevitably there are days were it springs a leak and deflates again.

Today was one of those days I was deflated, my balloon sprung a leak in the morning and by early afternoon I was lagging. I’m an expert at this point at reinflating my balloon at this point, I’ve cultivated an excellent set of tools to patch up the holes.

For starters, I visited my therapist. I’ve been in therapy weekly for the past 2 years. Therapy ROCKS!! I won’t go into details of what I say in therapy (That is my private time to struggle and work out mind traps I fall into) but I am always happy to encourage people to seek therapy when struggling with mental/emotional disorders.

Meeting with my therapist helped me work out my emotions and frustrations, but I still felt absolutely drained afterwards. So what did I do? I took a ‘me’ day. I cancelled my plans to go out in the evening and made myself comfortable in my apartment, relaxing and doing things that made me happy. Lately I’ve found watching the british show, Miranda, helps inflate my balloon so I’m at least floating off the ground. I watched the Ultimate Edition of Batman Vs. Superman (It’s three. fucking. hours.) and spent hours afterwards shouting, “I WANT MY LIFE BACK”, blowing a bit of hot air that lifted my balloon yet higher off the ground.

When I see people struggling with depression, I want to encourage them to seek help in order to patch the holes in their balloons. I know how easy it sounds to just cut the tie and throw the rubber away, but that wouldn’t do any good in the end. Get the tools you need to fix the balloon and learn what to do to keep it floating. Tools are going to be different for everyone, but in the end, they’ll get that balloon off the ground.

If you’re struggling with depression and/or other disorders, ask around for a referral for a psychotherapist who you feel comfortable working with. Comfort is the key, make sure you’re comfortable letting them handle your metaphorical balloon and help you learn to cover the holes.

For now I’ll enjoy The Lizzie Bennet Diaries with my buds, Ben and Jerry, and my patched up emotional balloon.

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?

In Which the Bitch is a Witch

If I were forced at gun point by a wild madman insisting I give up the secrets behind enemy lines (because I find myself in those situations so often, am I right? Probably not…), I would confess that it’s being unpredictable that gives anxiety and depression their edge. You never can predict or know when and where either will strike at you.

If I’m lucky, I come prepared with weapons to combat: well curated music playlists, word searches, coloring books, supportive friends, favorite movies and TV shows, and more. But, like so many others, I’m not always fortunate enough to be prepared to go into battle with myself.

It’s scary for people who don’t regularly grapple depression and/or anxiety; your mind is playing tricks on you, your own self is betraying you. I’ve been calling my anxiety ‘bitch’ but my therapist edited that word into ‘witch’ with good reason, “These are illusions that your anxiety is projecting, it is your job to figure out the ingredients of their spell in order to determine whether it is an illusion or actual danger.”

My episode yesterday was unpredictable. I had been putting off art commissions and requests for ages, using my job as an excuse (as it does keep me insanely busy). However, now that I’ve been on summer break for over a week, I’ve run out of excuses to put things off.

It’s my own fault for agreeing to so many commitments at once, I’m always eager to please people and make them happy. In truth there isn’t a whole lot of complicated things I need to get done, but my anxiety cooked up a spell that made everything seem ten times more crucial and important. I suddenly became convinced that if I don’t execute everything perfectly that I would be a disappointment and failure to everyone around me. I tried to sit down and create some art pieces, but my vision was clouded by the anxious smoke that the witch had created, making it hard for me to focus and make anything beautiful.

I spent most of my day in bed afterwards. I laid curled around my favorite cuddle pillow (that’s a pillow that I use strictly for comfort in times of stress) in the fetal position staring blankly at my computer screen as I found TV shows to binge rather than get any productive work done. I felt frozen in my spot, only moving my left arm to occasionally click buttons to continue episodes or change movies.

As I laid in my dark bedroom, curtains closed with only my dragonfly string lights providing any illumination, I sifted through the dark thoughts and feelings. First I was angry that when I wanted to be productive, my mind got the better of me and left me nearly catatonic. I was furious at the unpredictability of my feelings and mind when I was trying to do something for both myself and others.

Once I got through the anger and frustration, I laid there pulling apart the spell the witch had cast over me. I’m an overly sensitive person, that paired with my anxiety makes it easy for me to see/sense things that aren’t really there occurring. I tried talking to a variety of people yesterday to pull me out of my smokey spell, but every time I opened my mouth or typed out a message I got the overwhelming feeling that I was a bother to every single person I came into contact with.

I realize that in all likelihood everyone was just busy with their own issues, that I was talking to a lot of people via Facebook messenger and text messages so I couldn’t actually tell if I was annoying them or not. I’m sure that if I looked back on all my conversations I had yesterday I’d see that everything was just fine, but the spell I was under had be questioning every single interaction I made with every person. At this point I’m fairly certain that the spell my anxiety put me under was all made by the illusion of trouble, rather than the actual existence of problems.

Aside from the unpredictability factor, that is the worst part of my anxiety and depression; that I can never tell if i’m in any actual danger or if it’s all an illusion. I see and sense things that aren’t there all the time, but my body and mind are convinced that the danger is real. I think that’s the part that really defeats me and leaves me lying in bed all day, not knowing if I am in any actual trouble or not. The smoke makes it impossible to see sometimes.

I am forever learning and changing around my anxiety and depression. Learning that they were casting spells over me has been both terrifying and liberating. I’m hoping from now forward that I will be able to deconstruct the spells and clear the smoke with more efficiency and care, but like all other humans suffering it’s going to be an uphill struggle.

I suppose in a manner of speaking, it’s time for me to bone up on my own magic spells… Expecto Patronum! That didn’t work…..

I know I’m not the only one… It just feels that way

I was starving, at that uncomfortable point where you’re so hungry you feel nauseous and ready to cast your cookies without having made the batch in the first place.

I’ve been taking Anti-depressants for well over a year. I’m one of the few fortunate who’s doctor hit the nail on the head with the prescription the first time, Zoloft. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this drug, I’ll tell anyone who asks how it completely gave my life a 180 degree turn from where it was when I graduated college massively depressed and struggling with an unknown diagnosis of PTSD (Oof long sentence, sorry guys).

One of the side effects of Zoloft is my decreased appetite. If I don’t remember to consciously eat, next thing I know it will be 3 PM and I’m reenacting the poor orphans of Oliver Twist. Stupid people have called it a gift, not having an appetite makes it easy to lose weight; it’s also an easy way to embarrassingly pass out onstage during dance rehearsal for The Music Man (True story, but another time for that).

So today, I remembered to drink a breakfast shake this morning, but I completely spaced out during lunch time doing puppy training with my friend, Susan, and watching our various favorite British shows (Hint: Miranda, Downton Abbey, and my new favorite: Crimson Fields).

I got home at 9Pm this evening and got to work tidying my apartment (my mother is coming over tomorrow to help me rearrange some furniture, I don’t think she’d take kindly to the pile of dirty laundry that smells like a dead hobo). I hadn’t noticed I was sweating until I went into my overheated bathroom and realized it was a cold sweat. I was reading some packaging on a hair product when nausea hit and I tripped and fell in a fashion that would have made Miranda Hart proud.

I knew I was hungry, and I needed something quick. I didn’t feel sturdy to stand and cook something and all the take out places near my apartment were long closed. So I snatched my car keys and dashed out of my place.

I am no stranger to fast food. I grew up on it, as soon as I had a car I went and spoiled myself with McD’s french fries at least 3 times a week. My car was low on gas, so I drove quickly to the closest open joint, which was a recently reopened Taco Bell (don’t judge, I love their Ranch Tacos….).

There was a loooooooooong ass line of cars, but I was stubborn and unwilling to drive further. As I got closer to the check out window, smoke curled around me as my anxiety sat in the back seat and silently chuckled, “Oh look, they added a huge window for everyone inside to stare out at you.”

Since they rebuilt the place, the entire side of the building on the drive through lane has one HUGE window, supposedly so we could watch the depressed workers make our fake hispanic meals. I’m calling a huge BULL SHIT on that, the bitch in the backseat drawled, “Oh man, it’s like you’re the exhibit for all of them to watch and judge you for your food choices.” I knew it was ridiculous, but the bitch had a point……

I tried stopping just out of site of the window, but the bloody thing was at least 8 feet long and the cars behind me were getting impatient. So…. I hunched down in my seat and inched forward….. Until I tapped the car in front of me with my own…..

I could only sit and stare wide eyed while my anxiety was slack-jawed in the back seat, “Well done…. You’ve put on a performance for the whole audience.” I made the poor choice of looking beside me to see all the workers paused and staring, the bitch was right again, dammit….

Fortunately, the driver in front was in good spirits and I didn’t make a scratch or dent on their car or my own. The whole business was done within about 5 minutes, but it felt like those times where time slows and you seem to be the only one realizing that everyone else is speaking in slow motion while you’re just like, “WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!?”

Completely silent, I drove back to my place, my food in the bag on the seat untouched, while the bitch in the back seat rambled on and on, “My god you couldn’t have done that better. Well done! They’re all going to remember you now. Maybe you can go back tomorrow evening for an encore!”

So now I sit here, wallowing over bean burritos and wondering why this happens to me, why?

I talk about shouting into the void with no expectation of a response, but I could really use a shout back to shut up the smoking anxious bitch in my armchair right now….

For the 2-3 people who read this blog (Hi mum and dad…), have any of you had similar experiences of utter humiliation by the hands of your anxiety? Comment below with stories if you have them, or even just some kind words. I can’t seem to shut my anxiety up by myself right now, I was wondering if a few of you can help me quiet the bitch down? Any of you? Hello? -sigh-