Grattitude

*Note: I am aware “Grattitude” is actually spelt “Gratitude” – there’s a sign near the city that has is spelt this way because gratitude is really about your attitude.  See what I did there?  Let’s move on…

As I’m sure you’re aware, this past week was Thanksgiving.  My fiancé, or ‘fiancebabe’ as we like to call each other and he shall hence be known as, spent Wednesday-Saturday (technically Sunday morning) with various combinations of our family members.

While I’m sure a lot of people might think “Jesus. You must have wanted to shoot yourself,” we were thinking “Jesus. We’re REALLY lucky.”

I have an unconventional family that we refer to as our “modern family” and I love every single one of them, no matter how we’re related.  I also have an incredible future family-in-law that I would seriously choose to spend time with.  Not many people can say that.

Instead of raging the town at some bar in the city, we spent pre-Thanksgiving doing what every good Italian family does; eating.  As we went around the table and shared what we’re thankful and grateful for, I reflected on the many blessings in my life.  I went for the sappy road and shared my gratitude for my beloved fiancebabe and my soon-to-be in-laws.  But here are some other things I am (and lot of us should be) grateful for…

  • I’m grateful for the $8.17 organic chicken bone broth (with added organic bone marrow) I bought for lunch because it means I have a stable job and salary that allows me to enjoy such extravagances (once in a while).
  • I’m grateful for the many empty whiskey and wine bottles in my apartment because it means I have good friends who helped us drink them.  And even better friends who brought them.
  • I’m grateful for my insanely sore thighs because it means I am healthy enough to use them, and that I was able to treat myself to a Soul Cycle class.
  • I’m grateful for the medication I take every day because it means I have health insurance, a good doctor, and a country that’s finally recognizing the importance of mental health.
  • I’m grateful for the hangover I had on Saturday because it means I had a great time and that my mom can still out drink me.  It also means my body has a checks and balances system in place that makes me say “I mean it this time – I’m only having one glass of wine tonight.”
  • I’m grateful when my phone blows up from a group text because it means I have friends who want to stay connected to each other.  Plus it means I have a phone and my phone is super helpful, and it entertains me on my way to work.
  • Most of all, I’m grateful for when I feel uncomfortably full, for when I’m so comfortable I don’t want to get out of bed, for when my face hurts from smiling, and when my stomach hurts from laughing because it means that I have a good and plentiful life.

I almost forgot to mention something else I’m grateful for, or should I say someone else – I’m so grateful for my fiancebabe. Because of him I get to share all of the good (and the bad) things with someone who loves me in such a unique and powerful way.  He’s also not too bad on the eyes (wink).

I hope everyone found something to be grateful for this year, and I hope you find even more to be grateful for next year.

Oh, one last thing – I am also grateful for Pumpkin Spice Lattes because they are amazing and they mean it’s fall and I am NOT SORRY ABOUT IT.

It’s Not to Late to Make the Right Choice

Before you don’t click or read all the way through, please know that this is NOT A POLITICAL POST.

I’m tired of talking about politics.

I’m tired of reading about politics.

But most of all, I’m tired of politics sucking every ounce of energy I have left.

That’s my energy.  I practice religiously to keep it positive and light even when the world tries to take it away or inject negative smog into it.  Apart from using the word “religiously”, I have no connection to any sort of religion.  I was raised Christian and like bits and pieces from various other religions, but I don’t really believe in any of it.  Instead, I believe in the energy of the universe, which comes in two flavors: positive and negative.

I do my best take positive energy in, let negative energy out, and spread the good to other people.  Think about someone in your life that is kind, gentle, and loving.  Think about how you feel when you’re around them.  Probably pretty good, right?  That’s because you’re feeding off of their positive energy.  It’s not something they actively have to ‘feed’ you, it’s just something that good people do automatically.

Conversely, if you think about someone you hate, I’m sure you would agree that they make you feel…unpleasant.  Negative energy is toxic and spreads through the room and infects others, like when someone had too much dairy cuts one.  No one is happy.

In our overly-digital age, you no longer have to be physically present to spread negative energy anymore.  Now we have the Internet and with the Internet came trolls.  I’ve had to ban myself from Facebook, Twitter, and any site that talks about current events.  Fortunately Instagram is safe as I mainly follow guinea pigs and french bulldogs.  But it’s not so much the content of those other sites that bothers me, I accept the outcome of the situation.

It’s the comments.

The poisonous, disgusting garbage that people say to each other has enough negative energy to strangle an elephant.  Which is fucked up because elephants are endangered.  But I digress – seeing friends, co-workers, and family members turn against each other was just too much for my sensitive mind to take.  So you know what I did?

I logged off.

I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone.  I closed all my browser tabs.  And I refocused my energy.

I can’t change the world.  I’d like to, but unfortunately I can’t.  But I can change my world.  I can be a good person.  I can show kindness, understanding, and compassion to others no matter what their gender, religious, sexuality, or race may be.  I can choose to see the good in the world.  I can be the positive person in the room.  All of this is a choice.

And you can choose it too.

Don’t read the nasty comments.  Don’t engage people who breathe negativity like dragons breathe fire.  Don’t bury your head in your phone and convince yourself that the world is going to shit.  You let the bad guys win when you do that.

When it comes down to it, we don’t have control over most things in our lives.  But we always have control over how we handle them.  And if you really feel like you can’t control yourself, then message me.  I’m a great listener and I have the name and number of a fantastic psychiatrist.

So put down your phone and go outside.  It will be ok.

 

Double-Sided

I know a lot of people think astrology is bologna, but I don’t.  I think our signs reveal a lot about our personalities and our character.  Notice I said personalities instead of personality; that’s because I have more than one, for I…am a Gemini.

Wait, come back!  Still here?  Super.  A lot of people don’t want to talk to me and physically move away from me after I tell them I’m a Gemini.  Why?  Because Gemini is the sign of the twins, which gets misinterpreted as sign that someone is two-faced.  I’m certainly not two-faced, although I can’t speak for all Geminis, but I definitely think my personality is double-sided.  Especially considering the fact that I have bipolar disorder.

I am notorious for flip flopping how I feel about basically everything in my life.  It’s fairly harmless until I get manic and quit my job, but fortunately that only happened once and I was 22.  Ok, it happened twice but the other time I was 19.  Anyway, the only time my “other side” becomes a problem is when it manifests into anxiety and depression.  I say that I have my regular side – silly, free-spirited, and generally laid back.  But then there’s the other side, the bipolar side, whose sole job is to thwart my success, happiness, and mental wellbeing.  Other side is a dick.

Thanks to a lot of self work (and medication), regular side is usually in control and that’s the me that people know and love.  Other side mainly comes out in my head, but that can then affect my behavior which makes people confused.  I’ll give you an example:

Right now I’m sitting at my desk, pretending to work, while an Oktoberfest party goes on in my office.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I love drinking Oktoberfest AND drinking at work.  People are also decorating pumpkins, which may be one of my favorite things ever.  But I’m not doing any of those things, instead I’m sitting here all alone pretending to be busy.  Why?  Because the other side won today.  This is how the thought process started…

I don’t really know anyone in my office seeing as everyone I work with is in a different part of the country.  But I should go to the party anyway.  It will be fine, this is how I made friends at my last job.  People like me.  I’m fun and I make people laugh.  Bitches love to laugh.

But then the other much louder side of piped up –

Nope, all those people will HATE YOU.  They’ll ignore you because they think you’re weird. Especially all the girls that give you judgey looks.  They definitely think you’re fat.  Which you are by the way.  I can’t believe you cancelled your spin class.  You are the worst.

And now I feel bad about trying to talk to people AND not going to spin class.  These type of internal conversations go on about EVERYTHING.  It’s exhausting.

My point is that I know I’m not the only one who experiences this.  I’m not the only Gemini and I’m certainly not the only one who feels double-sided.  I wish I could tell you that I got it together and went to the party and had a great time…but I didn’t.  I have my bag packed and the second I hit publish I’m going to go home.  The regular side doesn’t win every battle against the other side, but it wins most of them.  And that’s good enough for me.

So you win this round other side, but that doesn’t mean you’ll win tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to head home for a little self care: meditation, cooking, and Drag Race.

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.