Category Archives: Serious Life Stuff

For posts with a more serious tone that deal directly with living your life.

I’m Hamletting

I often find myself debating over whether or not I’m a patient person.

Like everyone, I have both aspects to my personality but sometimes I feel the level to which I have patience is more like a weather pattern than a measurable amount.

It’s a fine line to walk between trying to be patient and trying not to let yourself get walked on. Go too far in either direction and you instantly make yourself the person in the wrong.

It’s an exhausting tightrope to walk at times and I think it’s also got something to do with self-assuredness. Unless you’re lucky enough to be charismatic to get away with it, being self-assured can make you seem like a giant B-hole.

In fiction, self-confidence, decisiveness, and determination is almost always portrayed as the trait of the loveable rogue or the villain- it’s rare there’s any go between. I feel like society tends to pigeon hole those traits into those roles and speaking as a woman, admittedly a privileged one in many ways, I feel like I often feel that displaying those traits will make me the villain rather than the rogue.

Part of this is because I am not patient enough to explain my reasoning all the damn time and part of this is because I am sometimes tempted to lose my temper when people don’t or won’t try to see things from my perspective. I consider myself logic girl, if I do something I usually have a reason for it. If I DON’T have a reason for it, I’m probably either unaware of what I’m doing or I’m having some sort of repressed emotion that’s puppeteering me like I’m possessed. The latter is especially frustrating and something I’m working on. (THERA-WHAT?! THERAPY!)

There are some things in which I am utterly immovable without question; I have a set of moral codes I try very hard to live my life by and when pressed I will not bend.

One of my proudest moments is a small moment from a few years ago. I was in a group job interview with two other candidates. We were asked that if we and one other person in the room were to be hired, who should it be? One candidate chose me, based on my educational history. The other, specifically didn’t choose me because I had listed one of my faults as being too blunt and she said that made her uncomfortable. When asked, I refused to choose. You have to choose, I was told. I said no. I pointed out that I had limited data available to me, neither of the other candidates had education directly related to the position and I was not aware of their employment history, and their answers were too general for me to determine what skills they had that would useful in this position. To choose for the sake of choosing, was nonsensical and thus I refused to do it.

It’s not easy to defy a person in a position of power, even if that position is as limited as a potential employer. At the time, I was working in fast food, barely able to make enough to live on, but I still refused to abandon my principles; namely, making an uniformed decision that would do nothing to showcase my own skills and would only insult my fellow candidates.

I did end up getting that job.

I mean, it turned out to be a clusterfuck of a thing and I had more than one paycheque bounce but it was a huge step up at the time and gave me some good experience to put on my resume.

I suppose the reason this stuff about patience is on my mind is due to a few situations I find myself in where I want to react one way, but I keep second guessing whether or not I should.

Should I resist the urge to do things the way I want to do them for the sake of harmony and patiently navigate the situation, thus averting upset to others? Or should I throw caution to the wind and say what I think?

Am I betraying the things I believe if I get frustrated and instead of educating and listening to all sides like I strive for, I just say to hell with it and yell BYE!

To be or not to be, that is the question.

More like:

To bitch or not to bitch, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fuckery
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
and by not giving a shit, end them.

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Try

As you can probably tell from my radio silence as of late, I’m low on spoons lately.

What spoons I do I have, I’ve been using to work on peeling away old layers of people I forced myself to be. It’s kind of like refinishing an antique piece of furniture that some idiot painted multiple times…except that I’m the idiot that painted it.

I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time, I’m trying really hard to make my life one that I want to be living, and I’m trying to figure out how to be happy.

Looking inside is hard, especially when there’s not usually any validation in there.

I realize that I almost always look outwardly for validation unless I have concrete proof I’m in the right. This sometimes makes being a human very painful.

I had a group of people the last few years that I measured myself by and they’re no longer a part of my life. I didn’t realize that I WAS measuring myself by them until they were gone.

While they remain a good group of folks and I’m sad that our friendship seems to be over, I realize that I’ve been straying from a lot of the things that are important to me.

I’ve been doing the thing that I always do that ends up hurting me, I force myself into a box I don’t fit into because I want to belong. I don’t want to have to feel good about myself because most of the time my brain is busy telling me how fucking terrible I am in almost every way (even if logically I don’t believe that, emotionally it’s the setting I’m usually set to).

You know what, though?

FUCK that.

It isn’t worth it. Logically I’ve known that for a long time but lately I feel like I’m finally starting to maybe flip the breaker that makes me a little braver, a little more me.

I don’t know what it is, if it’s a ‘forged by fire’ kind of thing where you can’t change yourself until whatever was holding you back breaks, but I’m starting to be ready to just be one version of myself all the time.

I mean, don’t get me wrong it’s terrifying and I will only do it in little bitty baby steps, but I am so so tired of just feeling like I deserve or have to choice but to deal with other people’s issues.

I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who think I’m a giant waste of space but you know what? They can fuck right off. Yes, I’m damaged but no one with any semblance of cognizance isn’t and I’m trying.

I’m trying really really hard and I have been for a long time. Anyone who can’t see that or doesn’t think that counts for anything isn’t worth my time.

I’m going to put myself out there in situations where I might end up looking like an idiot. I’m going to try to feel feelings without throwing up and I’m going to try to give myself half the credit I give to other people.

I’m probably going to fail.

A lot.

But I’ve got to try.

 

P.S. I was literally about to write a note here that said ‘sorry I’m talking about my feelings and repeating sentiments I’ve said before’ but you know what? No. This is my blog and I’ll write what I damned well please.

P.P.S. See? Progress.

You Are Real

 

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I wonder if you know that you are not a thing  I am seeing.

You are to me, what you became;

an accumulation of conversations at parties,

breathless laughter and words of encouragement,

wrapped in the warm glow of a vintage home videos-

the kind where all the sound is just a little bit boxy

and the images are clear yet just grainy enough to make you believe

that for one moment

you knew things were exactly that beautiful when they were happening.

You’ve become a Velveteen Rabbit,

you can’t be unmade.

You are a million moments,

memories of who we were

before we became who we are

and promises of who we might yet be.

I’m so glad we grabbed that time

and had the sense to revel in our greedy grasp of it.

Our gluttony was no sin,

it was a blessing.

Wherever that next road goes,

whatever might be at the end of it,

know that I fully intend to follow some day

if only so I can grasp your hand

and gleefully whisper

“Let’s go again,”

 

 

 

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I don’t think I’m particularly good at poetry, but here’s yet another poem because it’s one of the only ways I can convey love that doesn’t involve baked goods.

Still Spinning

Last weekend didn’t go as I expected.

I’ve lost none of the stress weighing on me.

And the world, which had already seemed crazy, has gotten a little darker and a little more worrisome.

I’ve been thinking about my Nana a lot lately.

My Nana is and was my Dad’s Mum. A devout Catholic woman with six kids, thirteen grandchildren, and a wicked sense of humour.

Being the youngest of the thirteen grandkids, I didn’t get as much time with her as I would have liked. Nana had two strokes and passed away when I was 10, but I have a lot of memories with her when she was still in good health.

I was lucky enough that my folks lived very close and so I spent a lot of time with her and my Papa when I was a kid, though Papa and I didn’t really get to know each other until after she passed.

I always thought she was bullet proof, partly because when you’re a kid everyone seems that way and partly because she always seemed so matter of fact about things. Some of that is probably just my kid’s perspective but it’s how I remember her.

She was always doing something. Weeding the garden or her flowerbeds, harvesting vegetables from the garden, hanging clothes on the line, making bread or pie. The yearly dusting of her literal hundreds of salt and pepper shakers.

I think about helping her with those things now, though I’m sure I wasn’t much of a help, and I’d give anything to be able to sit in her kitchen.

If I think about it, I can smell loaves of bread dough rising on the table as the wood oven goes to get the damp out of the kitchen, despite the fact it’s freaking summer and already hot. I can smell the dishsoap she used and see myself drinking a glass of well water that always tasted different than our well water is a pleasantly musty kind of way, while the plastic on the kitchen table (that I never saw without plastic on it) sticks to my arm, and I can smell the ghosts of her cigarettes.

I want so much to sit there with her (though if the bread was rising it was more likely she’d be sitting in the living room and watching the Young and the Restless) and ask her how she got through the hard times.

I’m not sure she’d talk about it, though. I have a distinct feeling her answer would involve God and I think she’d probably be horrified by my opinion on that matter.

I’m also not sure she’d have advice any different from my parents’, both of whom seldom have answers beyond my own when it comes to ‘what should I do?’ type of questions.

I feel like the world has sped up considerably and left some of us a bit behind. There’s so many different unspoken rules about things, and all of them vary depending on who you talk to, and everyone has this ridiculous assumption that everyone is on the same page and if they aren’t, then that is somehow their fault rather than just simply a fact of life.

I think maybe the reason I’ve been thinking about my Nana so much lately is that I want to go back to that feeling I had when she was still in good health and we would spend time together.

I was the thirteenth grandchild but Nana never made me feel unimportant. She made me a part of whatever she was doing, she made space for me, and she never had to tell me she loved me because she showed it in the way she’d stay with me till I fell asleep and treat me like a person instead of just a kid.

It’s that last part that’s the most important.

I think it’s easier when you’re dealing with kids because kids haven’t quite grown into all the complexities of a fully grown person, but I think people tend to fail to treat others like people.

I don’t feel like a person a lot of the time. I, most often, feel like people are talking to an image they’ve constructed of who I am and when I don’t fit into that mold, I get slapped.

In fairness, I tend to try to fit in whatever mold I think people see me in. Which isn’t fair, to them or to me, but I can’t seem to help myself. I think it’s probably a defense mechanism.

I try really hard not to view people as something in particular, but I know I’m guilty of it too. It’s hard not to fall into that habit because we’re part of a society that has taught us that given enough information, we know everything.

That’s bullshit, by the way.

There’s still so much we don’t know.

It just feels, at least to me, like we’re all under constant scrutiny. Everyone is always watching and there are all these expectations.

I am so tired.

I’m tired of constantly trying and failing to be whatever it is people think I’m supposed to be. It’s like charades where you don’t know what you’re supposed to be acting out and every once in a while you get exhausted and act the part badly only to get stuff thrown at you from your team members.

I think I’m rambling at this point but all my thoughts lately are in a scrambled mess, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

When it comes down to it, all you can do is the best you can do.

I’ve done and am doing the best I can with what I have.

That’s enough.

Spinning Tires

I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself.

About everything.

I can get kind of laser focused on things and I tend to obsess about them, putting unreasonable amounts of pressure on myself.

In some ways this has been the making of me: It’s what kept me from making stupid mistakes in high school, it’s what pushed me to get good grades, and it’s what motivates me to work hard.

However, lately it’s starting to break me.

See, the trouble is, I have spent so long piling tasks in front of myself and looking for step by step instructions on how to do each thing and move forward, that I can have trouble thinking about my life abstractly.

Life is terribly abstract.

There are things I want that can’t be attained by a simple set of steps and this usually ends up with me obsessively trying to figure them out, shove them into steps in my mind, and it makes me burn out internally.

Lately, I’ve felt a bit lost.

I don’t understand or particularly like a lot of things going on in the world, I haven’t had anything to contribute to this blog (so I have been skipping writing it), I’ve got a couple personal things I’m worried about, I’m not really certain what I want out of life right now that I can feasibly manage, my finances are a little tighter post-move than I had hoped, and my love life is in a coma.

I feel like I’m constantly spinning my wheels and going nowhere.

Logically, I’m aware that everyone feels like this sometimes. Still, as I tend to do with this sort of thing, even when I’m not thinking about it, I’m obsessing over it.

What’s really odd is I find myself disconnected from obsessing over it. Like I’m running a background program that’s using a lot of memory but not noticeable from a user standpoint.

I just find myself exhausted and often unhappy for reasons I can neither fully articulate nor understand.

It makes me very glad to have a dog, sometimes.

He can be a lot of work, but he’s always full of love and affection and he forces me to do things like get up in the morning and make contact with humans on weekends where I can’t bring myself to leave my apartment for more than an hour or so.

This weekend I’m going up to the lake with some friends and I’m thankful for it.

I’m hoping I can shed some of the weight on my shoulders and unplug from whatever is going on in the back of my mind.

Bare feet on the ground is usually the best medicine for me and considering how defective I feel lately, I could certainly use some medicine.

It strikes me that I sound very pretentious saying that, but I can’t tell if that’s because it’s true or because I’m being self-critical. All I know for certain is that I need my bare feet on the ground and my hands in the lake or on a tree so I can just breathe again.

I need to touch things that are real for a while so I can maybe start to feel real again.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

The World Owes You Nothing

I often joke that I am secretly an old person disguised as a young person.

I use this as an explanation for why I’m so frustrated by things.

I’m a pretty logically minded person, so I get frustrated a lot. Life isn’t logical. It’s a huge mess and chaotic and a lot of the time you just have to roll with the punches.

To a certain extent, I’m pretty good at that, but weirdly only within the context of structure.

I get really frustrated with some of the realities of life because even though I often intellectually know why people do the things they do, it still frustrates me to no end that they can’t see they’re acting in a manner that makes no sense and is going to be harder for them in the long run.

A part of me knows that how other people behave isn’t really my business, it’s my job to control how I behave but OH MY GOD IT IS SO FRUSTRATING, WHY?!

Like, why do I have explain to some dude that the fact his opening conversation with me is about how important sex is to him makes me uncomfortable. WHY DOES HE THINK THAT’S OK AND WHY DOES HE THINK I HAVE TO EXPLAIN SHIT?!

If I tell Person that I need them to do Task A in order to complete Task B, why the hell do they think it’s O.K. to totally ignore Task A and then act like it’s my responsibility to remind them to do the thing I asked them to do?

If I’m loaded up with heavy objects walking through a mall, unable to easily change my path, and a girl carrying nothing weaves a crooked path through the crowd, why the hell does she think it’s OK to tell me to watch where I’M going when she gets hit by the case of soda I was carrying? You walked into me and frankly with your attitude, I wish I’d hit you on purpose and harder. Do you yell at walls when you walk into them?

I think, largely, I’m irritated with the lack of accountability I run into sometimes.

I’m guilty of it too, no one likes to be wrong, but I firmly believe it’s each and every person’s responsibility to own their shit.

Owning your shit isn’t always fair because some of us have more of it than others, but the cold hard truth is that if you don’t, it’s only going to bite you in the ass in the end.

There’s a line I love from a Neko Case song, though maybe it’s a cover, anyway…the line goes: “There was no hollow promise that life would reward you.”

I love that line.

I love it because there’s no sense of entitlement there.

There are some things I think we should all be entitled to, access to medical care, access to education, a safe environment, etc. , but beyond that I think and try to remember that the world does not owe us anything.

Some people might find that depressing, I find it kind of inspirational.

It’s a reason to strive for things and to change as a person.

I try really hard to remember that Life doesn’t owe me anything and that I am not entitled to asking for unreasonable things from Life or from people around me. I have certain duties in life and it is my responsibility to fulfill them. Sometimes I will, and do, fail and that’s OK but only if I own those failures. You can’t make excuses for your failures all the time because you’ll learn nothing from them.

I think maybe somewhere along the way we all, meaning my peers on an socio-economic level and above, got so comfortable that we forgot we aren’t entitled to the things we have.

I remember being mortified and bewildered in University by some of my classmates because they drank and partied to the point where their grades were failing and while I had fun myself, school always came first. I knew how expensive my education was, I knew how lucky I was to be there, and I couldn’t understand how any of my peers could piss all over the opportunity they had. Most of the kids who acted the way I described had parents who could afford their mistakes a lot more easily than mine could.

Now, there are certain things I think I and every person is entitled to, like I said and one of them has to do with the owning-your-shit stuff I said earlier.

I, you, and all of us are entitled to be heard. Not just listened to, HEARD.

Being heard doesn’t mean you have to agree with me, but it does mean you have to actually listen and think about what I said and then respond to it somehow. Too often people get caught up in hearing themselves talk or thinking of what they’re going to do or say next to the point where they don’t actually HEAR people.

It isn’t always and easy thing to do, but important things are rarely easy.

Anyway, I apologize for the rant. I’m just tired and frustrated lately.

I must be getting old.

Grey Matter

One of the things that really bothers me about the world is the utter lack of, what I feel, is common sense.

We live in an era of information but not necessarily an era of good information. News, which was once controlled by newspaper editors, radio, and television broadcasters is now available from a myriad of sources at our fingertips.

On the one hand, this gives us the ability to access truths we never would have been able to before. If an article in the paper tells us (for a ridiculous example) that everyone in the Philippines wears the colour blue at all times, we no longer have to trust that’s correct. We can reach out on forums and ask actual residents of the Philippines or keep eye on social media to find that such a statement is utterly ridiculous or a simplification or indeed true.

On the other hand, people are intensely lazy and having the ability to access truth does not mean that we do.

As someone who believes that truth is complicated and important, as well as an information professional, this fucking kills me.

During my Masters, I did a group thesis with an amazing group of people. We looked at specifically how smart phone technology was used for information in pub settings. Unsurprisingly, we found it was often used to prove a point or refute someone else’s point. Even more unsurprisingly, we found that people would use the quickest resource rather than the most reputable one and most people didn’t check their sources.

My point here is that information is nuanced and people aren’t really into that.

Think of every movie you’ve ever seen. Chances are that the majority of them had fairly clear lines between what is truth or lie, what is good or bad.

While that is intensely satisfying for us as people (mmmmm, sweet, sweet, self-assured closure), it’s not realistic.

In real life, there are so many factors and pieces of information to consider in a situation that there is no real clear line. Sometimes that line is in sharper focus than others, but there’s almost always blurring around the edges.

The reason I’m ranting and bringing all of this up is because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, in part due to the Jian Ghomeshi trial.

Now, before you decide to yell at me one way or the other I want to be clear about two things:

  1. I will always default to believing victims of sexual assault because it is statistically far more likely to be true than false. I can count on one hand the amount of women I know who have not ever been assaulted in some way.
  2. I am not about to argue about whether or not Ghomeshi is guilty. I am about to argue that there is a larger problem here altogether.

Our society has updated a lot of things really quickly.

In one way, that’s pretty amazing and great but it also causes a few problems.

It’s like anything else, when you do things quickly you miss stuff you would have noticed if you’d gone more slowly.

I really feel like our justice system is out of date-especially when it comes to sexual assault.

If you read the comments on any article about the Ghomeshi trial (I REALLY don’t recommend doing it unless you want to be upset, regardless of what side you’re on) there are a lot of people saying things like “If they were really a victim they would have done this or not done that”

Bullshit.

Any mental health professional worth their salt will tell you that people respond to trauma in a variety of ways that are way too complex to be boiled down to a list of things victims do or don’t do.

Yet, somehow, our legal system doesn’t take this into account.

Almost every sexual assault case turns into an attack on the credibility of the alleged victim.

Now you might say that the onus should be on the Crown to call a mental health professional, but I disagree. I think that a psychological evaluation of both victim and accused should be a mandatory component of sexual assault cases and I think it should be conducted by an impartial mental health professional who specializes in sexual assault.

It is unreasonable, to me, to expect a judge to know or understand the motivations behind a victim’s actions. Judges are taught to look for inconsistencies, but they aren’t taught to see when inconsistencies are a symptom of a mental health issue like trauma.

Imagine you give someone facts written on cards that say: Jack snuck up on Terry. Jack physically forced Terry out of the house. Jack locked Terry out of the house.La maison appartenait à Jack et Terry avait cassé en .

Now imagine that person doesn’t speak French. Kind of looks like Jack’s an asshole in that case. However, if the person does speak French, they know that it was Jack’s house all along and Terry broke in.

To me, this is the same idea when it comes to Judges in sexual assault cases. Was the victim’s testimony inconsistent because they’re lying or was it incorrect because it’s a side effect of their trauma? You can’t provide a fair judgment without and answer to that question.

This isn’t even to being to mention or get into the fact that a victim is not and should not be responsible for the actions of an attacker.

The truth is that there is no easy answer to any of this. People tend to default to what is easiest for them to understand and unfortunately that means that often the burden of proof falls on the victim being forced to justify how they behaved or did not behave after a traumatic experience as some sort of twisted means of proving the experience happened at all.

I don’t know what the answer is but I do think that bringing in a mental health professional as a means of potentially preventing victims from being blamed for trauma induced behaviour is a step we can and should take.

Beyond that, I don’t know.

The truth is complicated and nuanced.

I wish people would remember that instead being so busy feeling self-righteous and insulting each other when they don’t have the same opinions.

The Bare Necessities

You know that religious parable, Footprints?

Where they guy is all:

“Yo, Jesus, there’s only one set of footprints when my life was at it’s hardest. Why’d you bail?”

and Jesus is all:

“When you only see one set of footprints, that is when I got bored and went for a walk on the water. I can do that you know. Also, it’d be nice if we could have a conversation every once in a while that wasn’t just you asking me for stuff. I have needs too, you know.”

I might be remembering it wrong.

Well, despite the fact I’m not remotely religious, that tie between life and footprints on a beach has always struck me.

I don’t exactly know what it is about having bare feet, but I find it really relaxing.

I like not being constricted by socks and frankly, I don’t find socks keep my feet that warm.

Shoes on the other hand, when combined with socks, do make my feet too warm.

So, when I can and when it’s comfortable, I like to go barefoot.

It might seem weird, but I like feeling the ground under my feet. Something about it makes me feel more connected and some of my happiest moments are when I’m barefoot. Like when I’m at the cottage and walking down to the lake on old pine needles or I take a detour down to trod on the soft moss until I get to the warm beach and dig my toes into the sand to feel the tiny grains crunch together. I might take a walk along the damp shoreline or stick a plastic chair in the edge of the lake and stick my feet in the water.

One of my favourite barefoot moments was when I was travelling with a friend in Italy. We went up the leaning tower in Pisa and I slipped a few times because my sandals didn’t have a great grip. So, after we got to the top, I went barefoot. I remember the marble was warm at the top of the tower and it radiated through my feet until we headed down and as I stepped onto the chilly marble staircase and into the grooves left in the marble, I thought about how many pairs of feet had made that same journey, carving those grooves in the marble in the process, and somehow I felt closer to those that went before.

It might seem strange, but something about going shoeless feels like I’m getting away with something.

It reminds me of being a kid, of parties where those of us who were in heels laughingly said ‘Screw this noise!’ and piled our shoes in a corner so we could dance unencumbered. It reminds me that I am here.

To feel the tile of my kitchen after leaving the carpet of my bedroom or the hardwood of my living room is a very tangible signal to my brain that I am in a different space.

It probably sounds a little naive, but I think we’d all be a little happier if we went barefoot more often.

I mean that metaphorically, mostly.

Unless you’re in a relationship, chances are you haven’t had much physical contact today or most days. We as a society have become so removed from everything. I’m not saying that’s a particularly bad thing, but I think it’s important to plug back in once in a while.

For me, I plug back in when I hug a friend or do something that gets my hands dirty or go barefoot.

It’s kind of sad that I charge my phone more often than I charge myself. Especially because I’m really shitty at remembering to charge my phone.

I can’t wait until summer comes and I can wear sandals, which is the next best thing to not wearing shoes, and go for barefoot walks on the beach.

Until then, I think I need to find a few more outlets for myself to plug into.

More hugs, maybe?

Maybe it’s time to find something new to get my hands dirty with.

I don’t know, but I know that I need a new outlet because as much as I love going barefoot, I have no desire to do so in the Canadian cold.

Don’t think I could BARE that.

P.S. I can hear you all groaning at my pun. Shut up. You knew who I was when you started reading this…I assume. Ok, maybe you didn’t. Still, shut up. Puns are great.

*incomprehensible whining noises*

In about a week and a half, I am going to be turning 27.

I usually find a looming birthday causes some introspection, but the older I get, the more a looming birthday feels like a NO, DO NOT WANT moment more than anything else.

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I never thought I’d be terrified of turning 30.

I thought that I’d never turn into one of those people who was at all conscious of their age, let alone self-conscious about it.

Age is just a number, I thought.

How naive I was.

Lots of things are just numbers, it doesn’t make them any less horrible.

Take math for example. Math is just numbers, but it’s still the worst.

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Maybe it’s because I have such high and flawed expectations for myself.

As you can probably tell from my blog, or just from knowing me, or from sorting through my recycling (stop doing that by the way, it’s creepy), I am a big list person.

I like plans. I like to know where I’m going and when.

I have planned and re-planned out my life multiple times and it’s never bothered me too much but there are some milestones I never thought I’d be missing at this point in my life and despite the fact I know that life doesn’t work that way and I’m not failing at being an adult by refusing to meet the unrealistic expectations of my childhoods self, it still feels like failure and why am I aging and OH MY GOD, ONE DAY I WILL DIE!

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I know it’s childish, and even privileged, but I want to just stomp my feet and refuse to get older.

NO.

I WON’T TURN 27.

I DON’T WANNA.

YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

(Incidentally, having this as a knee-jerk reaction might be why I get along so well with toddlers. Toddlers get me.)

I thought that by 27, I would maybe not own a house but at least have a decent down-payment for one. I thought I would be in the career I saw myself in for the rest of my life. I thought I’d be in a committed relationship.

I can’t afford a condo, let alone a house. I really like my job but I don’t see myself doing it forever, I’m not even sure if I want to live in Ottawa forever. I’m not in a relationship and the idea of being in one is currently like food the morning of a terrible hangover. I mean, I kind of want it but I also don’t and the entire situation makes me want to vomit profusely.

All of that is perfectly fine, by the way. It’s just…not what I expected. Life tends to be like that, mostly unexpected.

I’ve decided a don’t like it.

The upside, though, is that some of the unexpected stuff is pretty great.

I never thought I would have a Masters degree. I didn’t think I’d live in Ireland or travel near as much as I have. I never expected to forge some of the friendships I have. I never really thought I’d jump out of a plane, or play ukulele in front of one of my favourite musicians, or turn out to be kind of decent at pottery.

When I started the BIG 30 Project, it was because I wanted to accomplish something and push myself. I never expected it would become a balm to my irrational panic about aging and where I am in Life….but it has.

Before my birthday, providing the weather is good, I’m going dog-sledding. After my birthday, I’m going to go huck axes at stuff with the best group of friends a person could ask for. Those are things that have no age limit on them….well, except the axe throwing. I think you have to be at least 16 for that.

I look forward to seeing what crazy experiences my 27th year on this planet brings me….even if I’m absolutely terrified.

Oh, also? If one more person tells me not to begrudge getting older because it’s a privilege denied to many, I am going to clothesline you.

Seriously.

I will collapse your trachea.

I’m not kidding.

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Don’t Yell At Clouds

Yesterday was Bell’s annual “Let’s Talk” campaign to help raise awareness about mental illness and while I appreciate the raised awareness and the funds raised to support more work in the mental health field, I chose not to share the #Let’sTalk stuff.

Partly because I am and was, rather ironically, still going through a low period and wasn’t in a place to talk about that stuff yesterday and partly because Bell is anything BUT good for my mental health. Between their crap service and even worse customer service, they’re enough to make anyone crazy.

So, I wanted to write something this week about mental health.

I’ve written a lot on this blog about things I do when I’m feeling low or how I analyse or try to understand what I’m feeling, but I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about HOW it feels.

It’s not something that I feel I can ever quite articulate correctly and even when speaking to those closest to me, it’s hard to explain…but I also thinks it is important to talk about how these things feel so that it’s easier to understand.

Every experience is very subjective, so what I’m about to say does not apply to everyone but this is the best way I can explain it:

When I go through a low, it feels like barometer pressure.

Sometimes I can feel the pressure building, but a lot of the time I don’t even realize it until the storm begins.

How I feel during those storms differs but usually it is one or more of the following feelings: numb, sad, exhausted, or overwhelmed.

At best, I end up feeling disconnected, disinterested, and numb. At worst, I feel a physical ache in my chest- like I’m made of eggshell and inside is an aching and empty pit. I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how it feels.

It’s why it can consume people and we lose amazing friends and family who couldn’t ever see an end to those feelings.

It’s all too easy for people to dismiss depression as someone feeling sad, but it’s so much more complicated than that and you can tell someone who’s suffering through a low that it’ll pass but that’s not really helpful.

Logically, I know that this is a storm. These feelings won’t last, they will pass and the sunshine will come back but knowing that doesn’t make the storm go away and it doesn’t speed it up any either.

Telling someone with depression, or berating yourself for being depressed is exactly as useful as yelling at a cloud.

You: HEY! HEY YOU, CLOUD! I UNDERSTAND YOU.

Cloud: *is a cloud*

You: I UNDERSTAND THE SCIENCE THAT MAKES YOU A CLOUD!

Cloud: *is still a cloud*

You: YOU’RE JUST A VISIBLE MASS OF CONDENSED WATER VAPOR, FLOATING AROUND IN THE ATMOSPHERE! 

Cloud: *is still a fucking cloud*

You: ONCE THERE IS A SUFFICIENT CHANGE IN THE ATMOSPHERE, YOU’LL BE GONE! 

Cloud: *gives no fucks and is still a cloud*

cloud-what-is

*is aggressively still a cloud*

First of all, you look ridiculous yelling at that cloud. Secondly, as most people will admit, unless you’re a wizard or something, yelling at a cloud is  probably going to have no effect on how fast that cloud moves/doesn’t move/evaporates.

Same goes for emotions.

I’m not great with emotions at the best of times, so sometimes my lows manifest themselves as physical illness. This was especially a problem in university, before I went to counselling and before I knew that what I felt was not normal.

I remember in first year of university, this one time….I was either not sleeping at all or sleeping too much and I didn’t know why. I lost my appetite. I lost all interest in doing anything at all. I got the point where the thought of eating made me ill, so I was just pale and I felt cold and out of it and had no idea why.

My folks were really great about it and I had I don’t know how much blood taken at the Doctor’s office and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Finally, at what felt like the millionth appointment, my Doctor was out sick and there was a temporary replacement there.

The new Doctor and I spoke for about 5 minutes before she started asking me questions.

I learned two things that day.

  1. My regular Doctor was a lazy asshole.
  2. I probably had depression.

 

I would not seek help for depression for another 3 years from this point. Embarrassed because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed in the first place, I did research online and tried to manage my symptoms via what I learned that way.

When I finally did seek counselling, I left my first appointment being told in not-so-many words: “I have no idea how you’ve not sought help before now and we you need more care than we can give you.”

I was given a referral to another counselling facility, which I almost didn’t go to.

Part of what made it a struggle for me to ask for help was that I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I recognized how privileged I was and couldn’t understand how I could have the gall to be depressed when so many people have it so much worse than I do.

I had amazing and supportive parents.

I had friends.

I had decent grades.

So why the hell was I depressed?

Now pay attention.

This is important.

THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.

If you have depression, you basically have a built-in weather system that is prone to storms that last longer than average. That’s all it is.

Everyone has down days and low periods but if your low periods are lasting for, oh say, two weeks? That’s probably something to consider and it doesn’t matter if you’re life is absolutely flawless, you can’t control how you feel.

Still, remember, it is a storm. It is weather and it is horrible but it will pass. All you can do is try to plan for it as best you can, take advantage of your resources, and batten down the hatches.

There’s a lot I want to say about this subject but so much of it is still very personal to me and a lot of it has already been said by so many other talented people. The Bloggess, whose blog is amazing and you really should read rather than mine, covers this sort of thing much better than I do.

I suppose, when it comes down to it, I just want to put another voice out there to tell you that it is OK to have depression. It’s not fun, but it’s OK.

Seek help if you need help.

Take a deep breath and remember it’s scary and awful, but it’s just a storm.

And remember that no good ever came from yelling at clouds.