Don’t Stop Believin’

Every so often I like to take a moment to stop and take everything in.  Mentally, that is – I live in New York City and if you stop in the middle of the street you will get trampled by tourists and commuters.  Also you are an asshole.  And there’s a strong chance that where you’re standing smells like garbage or pee.

Anyway, yesterday I caught my reflection in the one of the Macy’s windows and I couldn’t help but laugh.  No I didn’t look like a homeless person (that’s only on the weekends…or after aggressive happy hours).  I looked…like an adult.  A NEW YORKER adult!

I looked at my non-ancient iPhone I was texting my FIANCÉ (ah!) with about planning our engagement party. I looked at the incredibly beautiful and thoughtful engagement ring on my finger.  I looked at the designer sunglasses on my face, the designer bag on my shoulder, and the pricey headphones on my head.  I’m not trying to sound like an asshole – I was just in awe of myself.  Not that long ago I could barely get out of bed, let alone get out the apartment and go to work.  I could barely pay rent, let alone buy myself a purse (my mom had to insist I throw out my old purse because it had too many holes in it), and I was convinced I would die alone surrounded by cats.

Designer clothes and expensive “adult toys” aren’t what matter to me; it’s the fact that I now have the ability and capability to get them.  I bought that purse after I got my start date at my new job because I got a huge raise.  My dad bought me those sunglasses for Christmas because he’s no longer swamped by my medical bills.  My amazing fiancé bought me those headphone because they’re noise canceling and he knows how sensitive I am to sound.

I’m able to have all of this because I fought to get my life back.  Mental illness was taking my life away from me and after a long, grueling battle I finally did.  For a while I let it win because it was too hard to fight back.  I didn’t realize how many resources I needed to fight and a lot of the time it didn’t seem worth it.  I didn’t know that I could have a life like this.  I didn’t know that I could have a successful career, a loving partner, and a comfortable lifestyle that I earned.  My mental illness told me that I couldn’t.  It told me that I was confined to my bed, wearing the same dirty sweatshirt for weeks, isolated and alone because that’s all I deserved.

But something inside me told me that wasn’t true.  Even when 99% of your mind is polluted by darkness there is still that 1%, maybe even 0.01% that holds on.  If you don’t think that you have it, trust me you do – if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this.

You can have the life you dream, in fact you can one that’s even better than you could ever imagine.  But you have to fight for it.  Even if you don’t have a mental illness holding you back, there’s plenty of other things that plague our minds and lives and convince us that we don’t deserve the lives that we want.  Don’t listen to that voice.  Believe that you’re worthy and capable of love and happiness and eventually it will find it’s way to you.

For many years I didn’t think I deserved love or happiness but here I am, sitting in my office writing this post with a diamond ring on my finger.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Depression is a Dick

Depression is a dick for many reasons.  It waits for an event or moment that’s extremely important to you, whether it be a visit from your best friend or an interview for your dream job, and then right when you’re supposed to be happy and excited BAM! Depression is here and it’s ready to ruin your day.  Or week.  Or month.  Or year.

Depression is a dick because it’s like having a leech stuck to your foot. It slowly drains you of your energy, excitement, and passion.  While no one around you sees the cause, they all see the result.  They say “Why are you so down all the time?  You used to be fun,” and “Can’t you just snap out of it?”  But you know it’s the depression that’s making you like this.  You think, “I am fun, I just don’t feel like myself right now.  I’m trying to snap out of it, but it doesn’t work like that.”

Depression is a dick because it makes colors fade into grey.  Foods that used to make your mouth water start to taste like cardboard.  Friends that used to make you happy start to make you exhausted and embarrassed.  Work that used to fulfill you starts to drain you.  And getting out of bed suddenly starts to seem impossible.

But the main reason depression is a dick, the reason I don’t think people realize, is that depression lies.

As depression sinks in and takes a hold of you, it becomes harder to fight back and easier to give in.  Instead of thinking “I am fun,” you think “They’re right.  I must not be fun to be around anymore.”  Depression makes its way into your mind and tells you that you’re not good at your job, you’re not attractive, you’re not likable, and you’re not worthy of happiness.  And if you let it, depression can make you think that your life isn’t worth living.

Do not listen to it.

Fight back against it.  Fight back with therapy, medication, art, music, loved ones – anything that makes you happy.  Don’t listen to depression when it tells you those things don’t matter anymore, remember that depression is a dick and it’s lying to you.
Remember that you are talented, you are beautiful, you are loved, and you are extremely worthy of happiness.  Don’t let depression win.

Anxiety is a Bitch

There I said it.  Anxiety is stupid, inconvenient, and a huge pain the ass. I’m tired of sugar-coating it and pretending like it doesn’t impact me, but today I’m too tired to pretend.  Everyone has felt anxious; some of us experience it because of an incident, like being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, and some of us feel it all the goddamn time.

My medications help with my anxiety but they don’t take it away.  I still feel anxious just like I still feel depressed.  I think one of the reasons I get so frustrated when I feel this way is because I had this unrealistic belief that my meds were these magic pills that would take away all of the bad feelings and thoughts.  Wishful thinking.

The reality is they don’t and I still get the reminders that my brain hates me sometimes, like when I feel like people are staring at me when they’re not.  For me, one of the hardest parts about dealing with anxiety is knowing how crazy I sound.  At work I get so afraid that someone is going to try to talk to me and I’m going to feel too uncomfortable and too awkward to say something coherent and end up sounding like a lunatic. So I stay at my desk with my headphones on praying that no one will tap me on the shoulder.  It always becomes a problem because I drink a ton of water (thanks, Lithium) so I have to pee every 10 minutes.  But when my anxiety kicks in I feel so uncomfortable and unsafe that I stay glued to my chair until the feeling of having to pee becomes so painful that I have to get up.  Then I walk to the bathroom with my head down, again praying that no one will talk to me, and sit in the bathroom panicking that people think I’m crazy.

The reality is that no one usually notices.  People are caught up in their own world, especially at work.  And even if people think I’m crazy, so what?  I know I act this way because my mind plays tricks on me, but I also know that it happens to millions of other people.  My anxiety makes me do weird shit, like wear headphones without music playing so people won’t talk to me or change train cars because I think people are staring at me.  It also makes me do things that are extremely inconvenient, like walk a mile to the train station only to turn around and walk all the way home to make sure I locked the door, even though deep down I knew I did.  I even wear specific types of hair ties on my wrist because touching them relaxes me.  I do it when I talk to new people and I know it’s weird and people occasionally give me weird looks, but most of the time people don’t notice.  More importantly, it makes me feel calm and that matters more to me than what someone I don’t know thinks about me.

Anxiety is a bitch.  It makes us do weird shit that some people don’t understand and might qualify as “crazy”.  But the worst thing we can do when we’re anxious is get down on ourselves for it.  Everyone feels anxious, whether they have anxiety disorder or not.  And if you need to make accommodations for yourself, like always having headphones or hair tie on your wrist, then do it.  There’s nothing wrong with taking steps to make yourself feel safe and comfortable.  There is something wrong will constantly allowing anxiety to take over and hold you up in the bathroom while you muffle a panic attack.  Believe me, I’ve done both.  Put your mental health and feelings first and find what works for you, don’t worry about how it will make other people feel.  They probably won’t even notice.

Embracing Change

It’s 6:15pm and tomorrow is my last day at my job. I finished all the work I needed to get done. I tied up every loose end. I could have left 15 minutes ago but I feel tied to my desk.

It’s not because I have to get work done. It’s not because I feel pressured to stay late. It’s because I don’t want to leave.

Every time I think about getting up and going home the reality that I’m leaving my job sinks in. Everyone assures me that I made the right move. I was offered a great job at a growing company with a very high salary and the ability to work remotely. I even get to travel to the UK. I couldn’t ask for anything more. But when I think about leaving my current company, the only one I’ve ever loved, I can’t help but be filled with sadness, anxiety, and a twinge of regret.

I’ve never worked at a company I loved before this job. I’ve never had coworkers that felt like family. People tell me that that won’t change and that my new job could be just as great if not better, but I find it hard to believe.

I took the new job because, in the long term, it was the best decision. I know that deep in my heart but right now it hurts like hell. And I know it’s because of one reason: change is fucking terrifying.

I’m giving up the known for the unknown. I’ll go from knowing everyone’s name to knowing no ones and it’s scary. It’s scary to change your environment, embark on new journeys, and start new chapters. It’s hard to walk away from people you care about and join a community of strangers. It’s hard not to know if it’s ok to curse in meetings, drink at your desk, or show up at 10am. It’s even harder to know that you’re leaving all that behind.

Change is difficult because it’s uncertain. What if the new job sucks? What if I made a huge mistake? But…what if it’s not? What if the new job is even better? Changing jobs isn’t the only change that’s scary. Moving, graduating, breaking up, getting married are all changes that scare us. But they’re all things that are part of life.

Most of us will not live in the same town, stay at the same job, or even stay with the same person for our entire lives. Change is inevitable. Change is necessary. Change helps us grow. As scary and uncomfortable as it is, change is part of life. We can stay in the same comfortable situation or we can pursue new opportunities that make our lives better. Sometimes we choose change and other times it’s thrust upon us, like when we lose our jobs, our homes, or our loved ones.

Maybe if we embrace change instead of run from it, it would be easier to accept. Maybe if we stopped focusing on all the things we’re losing and focused on what we’re gaining, we could enjoy it. It’s not easy, but change happens whether we want it to or not.

If we have faith in our abilities, ourselves, and the universe, change doesn’t seem so bad. We need to remember that even though things can seem rocky and uncertain, there will always be a way for them to work out. We need to trust ourselves to make decisions for change and embrace the changes we don’t ask for.

Even though it feels safe, if you stay in the same place physically or metaphorically, you never grow. Maybe change isn’t bad after all.

Do Me a Favor – Never Say That Again

It’s human nature (or at least it certainly appears to be) to say something stupid from time to time.  We’ve all had the moment(s).  You know that moment where words come out of your mouth and the expression on people’s faces immediately tells you that you have made a horrific error?  Yeah, that moment.  Commonly known as “foot in mouth” or as I like to refer to it “stop talking immediately”.  Profusely apologizing and saying that you’re really tired and distracted because your cat is sick and you just got fired and you had no idea what you said was offensive can sometimes alleviate your faux pas.  Other times, you just need to never EVER say it again.

For your reading pleasure, here are some of the hilariously stupid and ignorant things people have said to me over the years:

“Women don’t drink whiskey.”

Someone legit said this to me at a bar.  Pretty sure “I will cut you” was my response.

“Your job sounds really boring.”

It often is, thanks for bringing that up.  It’s also how I pay my rent, buy whiskey, and feed myself.  What do you do?  Oh you’re an accountant?  Your work must be riveting.

“But you seem so normal.” [In reference to my bipolar disorder]

That’s because I’m medicated – if I wasn’t, you certainly wouldn’t be thinking that! You’d be preoccupied trying to figure out an escape route.  Also, educate yourself.

“You’re so lucky you’re thin.”

I get up at 6:20 in the morning to go to CrossFit i.e., expensive self-inflicted torture that gives you a nice butt.  And when I don’t do that, I spend my lunch break at a spin class.  I also eat pretty damn clean (minus my occasional jelly bean indulgences), drink almost a gallon of water a day, and cut way back on beer.  This isn’t luck, it’s dedication – I earned this body.  End of rant.

“You’re successful for a woman.”

Also something someone legit said to me at a bar.  That was the end of that conversation.  And that man’s self-esteem after I ripped into him.

“Where do you see yourself in five years.”

Ideally?  On a private island writing my second best-selling novel and eating truffle fries.  Realistically? Writing fucking user guides.

“That’s what you wear to work?”

I sit on the non-client-facing floor of my office surrounded by engineers wearing tee-shirts and sneakers.  So yeah, I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie.  You don’t know my life.

“I’m voting for trump.”

Get away from me. I can’t.

How to Suck at Relationships

I’m going to be honest here for a minute – I have not always been the best at relationships.  I know, it’s mind-blowing.  Unless you knew me in college, then you’re probably nodding to yourself right now.  Regardless, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to love.  Now that I’ve found the most amazing partner and am happily settled in a healthy relationship, I feel I now have the right to judge other people’s relationship flaws…

I’m totally kidding!! That was a joke…sort of.  I’m not here to judge, no one is perfect and neither is any relationship.  However, I am here to tell you that there are ways to suck at being in one.  I know from experience, either as the perpetrator or as the unfortunate witness, so I’m here to help.  If you do these things, you probably suck at relationships but don’t worry – there’s hope!  Just keep reading.

You micro-analyze

At 3:30pm (s)he took 3 minutes to respond to your text so that means they must be cheating, right? No!  That means they were at work!!  He came home from work and barely said hello, that means he’s mad at me, right?  No!  That means he probably had a shitty day!  Don’t read into every little thing your partner does or you’ll drive yourself (and them) insane.  If you think something is up then ask them.  Don’t become a psycho detective to get to the bottom of it.  Trust me, if you’re dating a guy and he says nothing is wrong, then nothing is wrong.  They’re not like women where “fine” actually means “I’m going to stab you”.  Relax.

You never stop talking about your relationship

Whether it’s positive or negative, it’s still annoying.  You should certainly talk about your relationship to your friends and family, but if you start every sentence with “OMG guess what she/he did”, your friends and family are going to learn to instantly tune out the second you utter that phrase.  If you’re upset about something your partner is doing, try journaling about it or even try a relationship counselor (solo or together).  If you’re really happy with your partner, then tell them.  A lot of people don’t tell each other they love enough so give your friends a break and share the love with your partner.  Besides, you have other important things to talk about with your friends, like last night’s Game of Thrones and Drag Race.

You blowup everyone’s social media feed with your relationship

THIS IS THE WORST. If you have posted more than one picture of you two kissing I guarantee I (and many of your friends) have unfollowed you.  This is also a red flag that your relationship is not all it’s cracked up to be.  A #mcm is certainly cute once in a while, but if you find yourself constantly posting about everything your partner does for you and everything you do together, ask yourself this – who are you trying to convince?  The internet or yourself?

You fight in public

This is just mean to your friends and people commuting on the subway.  It’s awkward for everyone involved and a really quick way to ruin brunch or someone’s birthday party.  If you’re having an issue, either table it for later or leave.  Either way, do it in private or you will become to couple no one invites anywhere.  Then you’ll have no one else to each brunch with and that would just be the worst.

You get too serious too quick

You moved in after three months.  You got engaged after six months.  Slow down crazy!  Sure your relationship seems fine now…but what about in the future?  Have you ever gone through a crisis together?  Or airport security?  These are the moments that determine if a relationship will last.  Enjoy dating each other without trying to achieve milestones because your friends did or you reach a certain age.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Like day drinking.

I’m telling you these things because I love you and because they’re preventable.  A relationship should not define who you are as a person, so don’t let it.  I see people disappear into their relationships and I know I’ve done it too.  But instead of letting your crazy get the best of you, try to be awesome at relationships instead!  How do you do that?  You take care of your needs first (more to come on this), you treat your partner with respect, and you put down the Instagram and enjoy your time together.  It’s a simple as that.

Don’t Stress, Do Less

I know that’s corny and it rhymes, but I thought it was clever and it might have made me giggle when I thought of it.  Don’t judge me.

I just got caught in what I like to refer as a “mind trap”.  A mind trap is basically when a thought goes awry and spirals out of control leading to stress and (potentially) a panic attack .  Like I started thinking that in three weekends I’m going to get to see my friends again (good thought).  Then I thought about the fact that we’re going to need a car (bad thought).  Then I thought about the weekend after that weekend where I’m either going to need a car or muster up the patience and serenity for a very long train ride.  Then I thought how am I going to get back in time for dinner with my family or if I should even say I’ll be there. And then I noticed that I was panting and my eyes were bulging out of my head.  Instead of continuing to fall deeper into the mind trap, I took a deep breath and said to myself –

“Do less.”

Two simple words that can have a tremendous impact.  I could have let my mind keep running wild and let the racing thoughts spiral into a panic attack, but I didn’t.  I chose to do less, and what that means is I chose to focus on one thought.  One that was the most relevant and easiest to control.  In this case, I chose to think about this weekend.  This weekend is simple – I’m not going anywhere and the only defined plan I have is to get my hair cut.  Easy, low stress.  But then I could think about the stylist fucking my hair up and what if the prices online were wrong and it ends up costing a shit ton of money and then – PAUSE.  Deep breath.  Do less.  I’ll just think about today.  What is going on today.  Not tomorrow or in two days, just today.  Just this hour, even.

Much better.

It can be easy to fall into mind traps and let your thoughts race and take over.  Well, it’s easy when you have bipolar disorder and you’re still adjusting to your medication, but I assume this type of thing happens to everyone.  Right?

We all get stressed.  Even fun things, like parties and other social gatherings that require planning, can be stressful.  But that stress can ruin it and that’s stupid because stress is an unnecessary evil that tries to ruin everyone’s lives.  So do yourself a favor – don’t fall into the mind trap or give into the evil temptress of stress (that also sort of rhymed ::self-five::).  Instead, take a breath and do less.  If you need a reminder, tattoo the word “Breathe” on your wrist.  I did and it’s done wonders.  Then you could get “Do Less” on your other wrist!

I may be onto something here…