Friday, March 23, 2018
It is truly very fascinating to see some of the new people who show up sometimes. Some are HSP, some aren't but they identify with some sort of social sensitivity, and some just show up to "check out the networking". One night, we had one of those "networking" type people show up, and while I was very overwhelmed by a lot of the information they provided, one thing they brought up really stuck with me:
They asked what love looks like to us.
It was a rhetorical question, meant to make us think and answer the question for ourselves, and that is exactly what it did.
I was very pensive the rest of the group, on the way home, and after I got home as well. I'd truly never thought about it before. I can obviously recognize love, but if someone were to ask me the best way to show me that they love me, I wouldn't have been able to answer them.
What does love look like to me?
I thought about all of the people who I feel love me the most-- which is to say, the people who make me feel the most loved, not that they truly love me more than all others.
I started with Patrick, and I thought about all of the moments where I feel most loved by him. For example, that morning I woke up from a terrible nightmare in which he died. I yelled myself awake, immediately went to find him, and he comforted me. I tried to go back to sleep afterward but I was still anxious, so I went out to find him again. This time he got up from what he was doing for work, spent as much time as was needed to make sure I felt safe and comforted, and then made sure that I was calm enough to get some more sleep by coming into our bedroom and checking the window shades, the blankets, and just overall making sure my space was comfortable. He didn't view me as an inconvenience for taking him away from his work or being emotionally needy. He saw that I needed something and provided it for me by going above and beyond, while at the same time never making me feel like I was being over the top, whiny, childish, etc.
When I woke up eventually (much later than I intended, but hey, nightmares don't really respect your timelines), I came out into the living room to find three gifts that he'd taken the time to wrap up (with Christmas paper, bless him). Why? He had ordered an add-on item from Amazon (which cannot be ordered by itself) and instead of ordering something for himself, he decided to go through my lists to see if there was anything I needed. So I woke up to a pair of gel moisturizing socks (which are INCREDIBLE), a boiled egg slicer, and a package of cable ties.
But why did he buy me things instead of something for himself? Because I'd been cleaning and organizing because we had a house guest, and he had seen how stressed out I'd been. It was a sweet gesture by itself, but then he went above and beyond to make the day feel like a mini-Christmas by wrapping up the items.
After I came home from group, I showered and kept thinking about what it means to me to be loved, and I thought about one of the most powerful things that anyone has ever said to me: "You're a priority."
I know that to some people that seems obvious, or small, or insignificant, but to me to be a priority to someone is an honor. To me, it means that I add something so valuable to their life that they rate me higher than most things.
But what does all of that mean? Well, let's simplify it. Society deems "useful" people as people who can perform a task or a service. A lawyer is useful for their knowledge of the law. An architect is useful for their ability to plan out and create buildings. But I don't feel that I have any of those special skills. My skill is with the people I love, and as a result of being HSP I'm better than the average bear at dealing with people, comforting them, etc. However, most people don't view that as a real "skill", they just view it as being a good friend.
So to me, to be valued just as I am, with not a whole lot to bring to the table other than love and friendship, to be appreciated anyway is what makes me feel the most loved.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Some of these were made in 2016 and I just failed to post them. Whoops!
When you have depression, sometimes you really can't tell when it's going to hit. So sometimes, you wake up the next day and you just can't. You can't do any of it. And there's no clear reason why. It's as though someone has broken into your mind and taken you hostage.
It feels like there are two of you. One of them is the Real You, locked inside, with not enough strength to break through and override this new... Something. You don't know what it is, but it's familiar. And you hate it. This has happened before.
You end up spending the entire morning and early afternoon in bed. And you just can't. The Real You is screaming. "Get up! Get the fuck up! Get up right now, you don't have to feel like this. You can help yourself if you just GET. UP."
Sometimes, you can't get up. You will spend the entire day in that bed. You will forget to eat or drink. You will only get up to go to the bathroom once, and that's because you can't hold it forever. You will ignore all responsibilities and self care. You will spend hour after hour scrolling through the internet on your phone, begging to see something, anything, that makes you feel... Something. Anything. That thing might never come.
Other people pass you by on your various social medias. You barely absorb what's happening. The real you is desperate, banging at the bars on the windows of your mind to please, please let you out so you can join in the fun. It does look fun-- to do things, to move forward. To live life. But today, you can't do it. You care about nothing and no one. You can't even bother to care to hope that maybe tomorrow will be better.
But sometimes, the Real You wedges its way into the cracks of the bars on the windows, and you find that they're not so impossible to snap as you thought. Difficult, yes, but not impossible.
You start with getting out of bed and turning on the shower. Baby steps, you tell yourself. You get in the shower, and the routine of it sets in. You're able to complete your task with no casualties, and after that, everything seems marginally... smoother. Familiar.
You keep the ball rolling. You complete your face routine. You brush your teeth. You don't do a great job of it, but you braid your hair-- at least you did it. You pin it up, because you know that wet hair on your neck bothers you, and you can't have anything else bothering you today. You know that the progress you've made so far is fragile.
You get dressed-- in actual clothes that you can leave the house in, not just another set of PJs, nor even the PJs you took off when you got into the shower. Real, clean clothes. Clothes that you like. A favorite shirt, a comfy pair of jeans. You finally look presentable, if not entirely happy. You glance at the mirror several times but you can't look yourself in the eye-- yet.
You know you like tea, so you put the kettle on. Tea has been helping lately, on the days when it almost gets this bad. Tea will help.
The tea does help. And you're starting to feel things again. You start to notice you're hungry-- you haven't eaten for almost 24 hours. But not hungry enough yet. There is more progress to be made.
You throw open the windows-- it's a nice day for the second day in a row, after months and months of the gloom and rain of winter. You know you need the fresh air.
You already made sure that you're wearing real clothes-- a part of you was planning to go get the mail, and you didn't even notice. You're making routine decisions again-- a good sign. You walk, instead of driving, even though it's at least a quarter of a mile to the boxes. You know you need it. The Real You is getting stronger and the Something is gone now. The Real You is just undoing the damage, blowing away the fog. You know you can do this.
You walk to the mailboxes with your head down, not entirely thrilled to be outside but not hating it either. The sun feels good. You only hope that no one talks to you, because like the food, you haven't uttered a word in nearly 24 hours. You're not ready for verbal conversation. Baby steps.
You finally make it back to the house, mail in tow, and it strikes you-- you're finally hungry. You were always hungry, but now you care enough to do something about it and have the capability to do something.
You make lunch. You message a couple of friends. You pet your cat, who you notice looks very sweet in the sunlight.
Lunch is delicious. It dawns on you that you finally have wants and needs again. The fog has lifted, but the bridge you've built is still fragile. You are wary of the fog returning.
But you trek on for one more day. You won today. If it comes back tomorrow, you might not win. Sometimes the Real You is too tired of fighting to fight on that day. But maybe the next day you can do it. Maybe you can keep the ball rolling and keep doing it for several days in a row.
There's always going to be a day of weakness. Of overload. Where it's all too much. Outside forces can push you down, and you'll be fighting more than just the Something.
But today, you've won.
Monday, November 27, 2017
If there's one thing millennials have the desire to work on, it's their mental health. Not that we don't work on other things; if you are of the opinion that millennials are lazy and want everything handed to them on a silver platter, you should simply click away right now. Not because that is what this post will be about, but because I have absolutely no room for that opinion or negativity in my life.
Moving on, I have spent the better part of the last four years working on my own mental health. I've fought depression and anxiety for half of my life by now. I've been in therapy, I've been on medication, I've been in the hospital. But so far, the best healing that I've found have been the things I've done on my own (with some help along the way, mostly from people who are not mental health professionals).
I've been blessed with a spouse who understands that at this point in my life, since I have had to push it to the back burner for so long, my mental health is of the utmost importance. In order to be a functioning human being, I need to fix what's broken inside. However, delving deep into your own mind can be a scary and dangerous thing... But it can also be liberating.
I'm talking about repressed memories. It seems to me that the further you explore yourself, the better your own mind gets at exploring itself without your guidance, which can mean remembering a memory that you had locked away at 2am while everyone around you is sleeping, your spouse is leaving for another state the next morning, and you won't have anyone to talk this through with except for yourself.
Obviously, this happened to me. However, I was fortunate enough to develop a shockingly healthy habit a few weeks in advance to this revelation; video journaling. I'm the type of person whose thoughts move too fast for me to be able to write them down quickly enough. It's why I actually have a hard time writing, because my thoughts flow faster than my fingers can (despite the fact that I am a relatively fast typist), and why I have moved more toward voice-to-text while I am in the comfort of my own home. My limbs simply can't move like my mind does, so when I try to write down my thoughts in a traditional journal setting (I've kept many private blogs through the years, but can never seem to stick to them), I eventually get frustrated and stop. Which is why I began video journaling.
So when that repressed memory came charging back at 2am and I had no where to turn except for one single friend who was awake (bless the time difference... for once), they helped me by providing me with some tips they'd learned in therapy. And considering that this was a situation that I had no intention of bringing up with the person who featured in the memory (as the tips I received more or less leaned toward), I had to work through this on my own. Which is when I turned to video journaling.
And here, my friends, is where I tell you how I worked through four different scenarios on my own by giving myself the closure I needed, one being a repressed memory and the others simply being situations with other people in my life that have had no answers or resolutions. Please keep in mind that I'm sharing something that worked for me in a dark place, and that by no means is this the advice of a medical professional. If it works for you, fantastic. But try it at your own risk.
Turn on the camera and start talking. If this is your first time, introduce yourself and the situation. Explain what just happened. It's helpful if you can see yourself on the screen. Our brains like to talk to other people, so even though you are truly talking to yourself, your brain will flow a little better if it thinks it is having a conversation. It also helps with this next part.
Play the other person and give yourself closure. Apologize on their behalf for what they did to you. Explain their actions. Rewrite the story. Did you know that our memories aren't true memories? When you remember something, you are remembering the last time you remembered it. This is why memories become warped over time. You can literally rewrite your own memories by imagining over them. So do that. Stop the traumatic experience before it starts and, using dialogue (or whatever works for you), have a calm and rational conversation with yourself and the other person/people, playing all sides. Write the script in the way you need it to go. Don't forget the original memory or what happened, but change what you need to change in order to move past it.
While I'm not willing to share the repressed memory because it is much too personal, I am happy to share the other three scenarios that I rewrote for myself. They're all friendships that ended without a word and without any closure. We were fine one day and the next, they simply stopped responding to me, after having been an integral part of my life for such a long time. So what did I do? I had a conversation with them. And on their behalf, I explained to myself why they did this, that they enjoyed my friendship but had to move past it due to reasons unrelated to me, that they wished me well, and that they were sorry that things moved in the direction they did.
I realized that I had been holding on to a lot of sadness that was parading around as anger towards these people, but today I feel like I've made a huge leap toward healing, and I no longer feel that anger. Of course I feel sadness, but I can feel it for what it is now; a loss. I talked to myself for over 25 minutes. I cried a lot and I was exhausted afterwards. But today I feel at peace.
This is a method that I will be sticking to for a long time to come and I've already started a list of "people" I need to have "conversations" with (although I may need an external hard drive soon; videos do not take up a small amount of space!), and I am happy to have come across it just in time for me to start taking my own steps toward healing. I may not be able to undo the damage that has been done, but I can stop these scenarios from creating more pain and hurt so that I can work on being whole again.
Friday, August 4, 2017
In July I made a surprise trip to Michigan and I've been home for just a couple of days. I intentionally made this trip uneventful, preferring to simply hang out with family and friends in a very low-key way, so I don't have many stories to tell but I do have some photos to share!
Sunday, July 16, 2017
When I was 13, I had a very lightweight fabric purse from Target that I absolutely loved, and I called it The Magical Bag of Fruit. It was magical because even at 13, I was Brook "Always Prepared" Gasser (coined by Austin Evans circa 2012), and I had absolutely everything in it. It was like the Barney Bag-- filled with anything you could possibly need. I even used to carry scissors (and I still do... except now they're thankfully part of a Swiss Army Knife and take up much less room).
After a trip to Joann's recently, I found some fantastic food-based fabrics and I knew I had to make another Magical Bag of Fruit. For once I didn't go crazy with the customization-- I only lengthened the strap because I prefer cross-body bags and I tweaked the zipper step that is a part of the Large pattern (there is no zipper step in the Mini pattern-- I have no idea why, it wasn't that difficult to incorporate on my own).
So here's the finished product! My Strawberry/Lemon purse! Strawberry Lemonade, anyone?