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Suicidolatry

I would like to preface this by saying, very clearly, that I am not actively suicidal. Do not panic. This post will, however, deal with depression, suicidal ideation, and lots and lots of self-hatred. If this is triggering for you, please don’t read any further.

 

There’s this point I arrived at a couple of years ago where I suddenly felt with deep certainty that I wouldn’t likely live to see my 40’s.  I was in a horrible place, emotionally and mentally, at the time, and I came to this incredibly clear realization that someday this pain, this struggle, would be too much for me. Someday I will find myself too tired to keep fighting and that would be the end. The thing about thoughts like this is that they are both terrifying and oddly freeing. On the one hand, I really don’t want to die. I want to live a long life and I want to thrive. On the other hand, it freed me to take chances that, if I fail at, would essentially ruin my life because the option of death is always there as a fallback. I know, morbid, but it’s the truth.

 

I have been doing everything I can not to die, to prevent myself from getting to the point where I can’t go on anymore. I took a long, hard look at the things in my life that really weren’t working and I started to change them. But, somehow, it seems life likes to kick me in the face over and over and over again. I began to exercise as a way to try to get my body back to a place where I felt like I could trust it to carry my through the things I want to do, and though it seemed to be working for a little while my fucking brain took it too far, as it likes to do, and my eating disorder came back with a fiery vengeance and I ended up thinner and sicker than I ever had before. I also took a huge leap and followed through on a life-long dream to move to Los Angeles and knew as soon as I got here that this is where I’m meant to be, but despite working my ass off and doing things I never thought myself capable of, living here is becoming less and less sustainable as I squeak by paycheck to paycheck. Should any single unexpected expense pop up I would quite literally be financially ruined. I’m trying to be patient with myself, I’m trying to be understanding and realize that I’ve only been here for 6 months and I’ve been doing so many things I never thought possible, but it’s really hard to keep believing that things will get better if I keep trying when every thing I try seems to fall apart eventually. I don’t have a great track record, my life tends to crumble underneath me, so it’s difficult to have faith that it won’t happen this time like it has so many times before. I have found myself broke and alone, I’m scratching and clawing my way back to physical health while being bombarded by insecurities, not to mention that trying to conquer an eating disorder when I am too broke to buy new clothes, spend time/money doing confidence building physical activities (like finally taking dance classes), or be able to put money into eating nutritionally rich and varied foods like I should be is an extraordinary undertaking. My timing is terrible, as it always has been, and that makes everything harder.

 

At the core of all of this is the fact that I don’t like myself. I mean, I can feel how much potential I have and how much I long to be and do, but all I ever seem to do is let myself down. I hate that I am not living up to who I could be, I hate myself from the inside out for always failing to be able to do or be enough. I hate that I feel like it took me too long to get here. I hate that I feel like it’s too late to fulfill a lot of my dreams. I hate that I let so many chances slip through my fingers. I know I could have been/could be great, but I never manage to get there. I keep trying. I keep trying to focus on positive thoughts and I keep trying to be forgiving but that all takes a fuck ton of energy and I only have so much left. It’s like my first, second, and third choices for the life I wanted are gone and I’m just desperately fighting to make a distant fourth be good enough.

So, back to what I was saying about death and such…once suicide, or your inevitable demise, gets in your head like this, it doesn’t really leave. I find myself wondering every day how much longer I have before I can’t take it any more. I think about it all the time. I think about when I’m going to wake up and realize that I’m just…exhausted. And it’s scary, but it’s also something that, on my worst days, I find myself almost anticipating with an eagerness that is scary as hell. On my worst days I wonder how much longer I’m going to have to live like this before I stop finding reasons to keep going and can finally just be done. So far that hasn’t happened. So far there is always something, be it that I’m unwilling to leave my pets with no one to care for them, or the knowledge that if I died responsibility for my car loan would fall on my ex-wife and I’m not going to let that happen because it would cripple her financially. I guess it says something that, at this point, my reasons for living have to do with others and not myself, but that’s the place I am in my life. It’s hard to want to live for me when I am so furiously repulsed by most of what and who I am. I have so many dreams, I am and always have been someone who dreams with reckless abandon, but so far this has done little for me but cause me heartbreak and damage. My dreams are like a carrot dangled on a string in front of me, always there and perpetually just out of reach. And so the idea of dying, the idea of finally being able to let go of those god damn dreams and just be done, becomes a sick sort of comfort that I hold on to and wait for. This is no way to live, and I know that. It is, in fact, a way to die. But I am tired. My whole life feels like I’m slogging through quicksand while so many people around me walk by on rocky but still more stable pathways.

I’m not saying this for pity, I’m not saying this as a “look at poor me, feel bad for me” thing. I am saying this because it is the truth of my life and how I feel and I think there are probably a lot of other people out there who feel like I do. Though this blog is ultimately about beating my demons it will not always be happy and inspirational because beating demons means doing battle with them and sometimes they win. I loathe that life feels like war. I can’t really find a good way to express why this is all so hard for me or what it is that I want from myself and for my life.

I want to be important. I want to have a voice that reaches people. I want to impact the world in a positive way. I want to be a hero, I always have. Maybe that all sounds silly. Maybe it seems like I just want attention or fame or something like that. I don’t know how to say it in a way that truly gets across the intensity of this thing that sits in my chest and makes me cry myself to sleep because I can’t be enough.

For now I’m getting by living for anything I can grab a hold of to keep me afloat. I have given up caring what other people think of my obsessions or whatever because if they keep me alive that makes them really fucking valuable no matter how silly they may seem to everyone else. I can’t tell you the number of times I have made it through a day because the idea that Lady Gaga would want me to, if she knew me, was enough for me to keep going. I think about how much she loves me (because she has such a gigantic and boundless love for her fans) and how it would break her heart to know that I gave up and so I push onward. Sometimes it’s watching a video of Lana Parrilla speaking about kindness and love and being just so vibrantly herself that allows me to fall asleep at night without hoping I don’t wake up in the morning because she feeds that little light that’s left inside my soul and makes me think that maybe there is still something out there for me. I can’t seem to live for me at this point, so I find things outside of myself to live for and as long as that keeps working I will keep doing it.

I don’t really see a way my life is going to turn around, and I doubt the chances that I’m going to make it more than another decade or so, but there is still hope lingering in my heart and so I keep going with the little voice pushing me, the one that has it’s fists clenched tightly around the last of my dreams and is refusing to let me give them up just yet. Often this hope feels like some vicious form of torture, forcing me to keep hurting as I slog through day after day and get nowhere, but I keep waiting for it to be right and for me to find my purpose and my gift and my place. For now, every single element of my life hurts. Being alone hurts. Being broke hurts. Being uncertain about what career path I can thrive in hurts. Eating hurts. Getting dressed hurts. Sleeping hurts. Waking up hurts. I hurt and I’m tired and I just want it to stop.

If it’s true what they say, that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I’m going to be a god damned diamond by the time I reach wherever the end of my life happens to be.

 

 

 

(I know how depressed this all makes me sounds, and I am sure I am indeed suffering from depression and anxiety and a number of other things. Please don’t write me insisting that medication or therapy would help me. I have tried both and neither has ever worked. Maybe therapy could help with the right therapist, but I have neither the time or the money to be able to fit it into my life right now. As for medications, I have tried 3 different anti-depressants and 2 different anxiety medications at varying dosages. They all had literally zero impact on my mood but they did give me fantastic side-effects like suppressing my appetite which I can’t handle with my eating disorder, and chronic twitching which took months to go away even after stopping my medications. I am not saying that these are not valuable tools, they absolutely are. Please go with what helps you and do what it takes to fight your own demons and stay alive. I am not advocating for suicide, I am not trying to glamorize it. I have been touched by suicide in my own life and I see the hole it leaves in those left behind. It is a horrible thing, but this is the reality of my mind and my feelings and I believe I should be allowed to express them. Get help, find reasons to live. I am certainly doing my best to do just that and I hope you will too.)

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You Don’t Have to Say You’re Sorry for Being You

Why is it that we feel the constant need to satisfy others with our bodies? When was the last time you did something, or didn’t do something, regarding your body that was honestly just for you? Why do we feel the need to make our bodies something that every single person around us will find pleasing even if that means doing things we don’t like or that make us feel bad about ourselves?

I have been giving these questions a lot of thought recently as I struggle with having gained weight and work at trying to find a way to accept myself and feel confident still living/dressing/expressing myself in the ways that make me happy. I am constantly fighting against the idea that now that I’m a bit heavier I will have to give up dressing the way I want. It’s hard to say “screw it, I’m still going to wear that backless dress even if I have some extra meat on my bones” or “Yeah, my tummy has rolls, but I’m still wearing that crop top I love”. Where do these thoughts come from? If I love the shirt, why am I afraid to wear it? It boils down, in a lot of ways, to one thing: I am afraid that someone else won’t like my body in the shirt. But…why? Is my body hurting anyone else? Is my body actually damaging or doing harm to anyone else? No. No it really isn’t.

We do so much each and every day to force our appearances and our bodies to be as non-offensive as possible to others. What’s funny about this is that many of us are also actively trying to declare our independence from societal expectations by getting piercing, tattoos, coloring our hair in bright and alternative ways, wearing clothes that show that we affiliate with a subculture of some sort. All the while we are doing this we are still stressing out about how to conform, and it’s this fascinating dichotomy that is, in the end, impossible to resolve.

The more I ponder all of this, the more I am certain of one thing:

  • We are living in an extremely judgmental society, especially when it comes to appearance. What we look like is constantly being thrown back in our faces with pictures and videos everywhere commemorating every moment, flattering or not so flattering. Images of “perfection” are everywhere we turn in our media-hungry culture, and every other ad tells us to look a certain way, or eat a certain way, or treat our bodies a certain way. It can feel impossible to escape all of these messages, or to learn to accept ourselves as we are, when we feel judged and feel the need to judge others 24/7. I have this theory that if we can stop judging ourselves we would find less of a need to judge others, and if we judge others less then we will instinctively start being less hard on ourselves. It’s a self-feeding loop. The more you judge yourself, the more you judge others; the more you judge others, the more you are certain they are judging you and the more you will judge yourself. So…what if you just stopped judging so much and started accepting? I know, I know, easier said then done. It’s a process, for sure, and not something that can be achieved overnight, but the first step is actually pretty easy. What is it, you ask? Learn to recognize judgmental thoughts for what they are when they pop up, acknowledge them, and shut them down. Every time you find yourself looking at someone else and thinking a judgmental thought, turn it around into something generous and kind. And I mean Every. Single. Time. I don’t care if the person you are judging is a super model, a homeless person, your best friend, or yourself. Catch the judgments as they form, accept that they are there, think about why they are there, and then let them go and replace them with any little bit of kindness that you can, even if the best you can do when looking at someone that your initial reaction to was a harsh critique is something like “good job for getting out of bed this morning, stranger, I know that can be tough and you are rocking it.” Be proud of those around you, and of yourself, for living. Life can be fucking hard, and fucking painful. Learning to thrive and find your happiness and your best life is incredibly challenging. If you are still alive, you are already winning. Start small in learning to accept others and you will in turn be more accepting of yourself, and vice-versa. As long as you are not hurting another person/group of people with your choices, do whatever makes you happy with your life and your body. And trust me, aside from wearing clothing/getting body art with language/symbols that abuse or marginalize others, you can not actually hurt anyone else with your appearance. Being chubby and wearing skimpy clothes isn’t going to damage someone else’s quality of life, even if they try to convince you that you are “hurting their eyes”. Lacking curves/being a naturally bone-thin person and still opting for that skin tight, hip hugging dress is perfectly ok if that’s what makes you happy. If people tell you you shouldn’t dress like that because you look “sickly”, that’s on them. Do you prefer to cover your body in modest clothing? Go ahead, even if people tell you you’re beautiful and as such should “show off your assets”. Are you a guy who loves floral prints and summer sundresses? Wear em! Are you a girl who likes to dress in over-sized menswear? Fabulous! Do you, be you, and look at others through the lens of acceptance and caring. If people are attacking your looks it’s probably because they feel judged and they are, at heart, scared and ashamed of something about themselves.

Learning to let go of judgment is a process and it can easily be a life-time struggle, but the more you pay attention to your thoughts and how they impact both yourself and others, the easier it will be to be authentically you and allow others to be authentically who they are. Wouldn’t life be more fun if there was less negativity? Imagine how great it would be if you felt free to be yourself and if you looked at others and thought things like “Wow, what a unique representation of what a human can be!” or “Man they look so happy in that outfit!” instead of “Ew, why is that girl wearing those shorts when she has cellulite like that? I’m embarrassed for her.” or “Why doesn’t that gorgeous girl show off her body? If I looked like that I know I wouldn’t cover it up with those unflattering clothes.” If you notice, negative thoughts about others almost always have a side order of negative thoughts/feeling that impact you, whereas positive thoughts have no unpleasant side effects. Think about it, give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s not all rainbows and unicorn stickers

I have had a really rough couple of weeks. I’ve struggled to get even the most basic of chores done around work, I’ve been desperate to write but lacked the energy to actually string words together, and working my full-time job has taken every ounce of motivation that I have. Sometimes life gets you down, every little stress just piles up on top of you and lays you flat out on ground, unable to stand or shake them off. I’m sure it happens to everyone, everywhere, from time to time. But for those of us dealing with mental health issues, days and weeks or even months like this can be worse and more frequent and absolute hell to convince ourselves will pass.

But they will pass. Eventually, they will pass. You just have to keep going, keep doing the best you can at any given moment. And pay attention to the little moments that show that things are improving, even if they feel so small that they are basically nothing. Nothing is nothing, not when it means you are surviving and taking care of yourself. Did you get one thing done today that you’d been meaning to do for weeks? Good! Congratulations! Don’t beat yourself up for not getting more done, don’t focus on all the things on your to-do list that still need to be done, be proud of yourself for doing something, for doing anything.

So here it is, two weeks of little victories. Better late than never:

-It’s been almost two weeks since I threw up a meal or had a real binge session.

-I have been eating like a “normal” (whatever the fuck that means) person.

-I have had several moments where I looked at my body, weight gain and all, and thought “yeah, this is ok.”

-I went to the gym every weekend for the past 3 weeks despite being tired and drained and really just wanting to stay hidden in my room.

-I worked every scheduled shift and picked up a few extra hours to cover for an injured coworker.

-I successfully worked my way through a really hard night last weekend where everything in me said that being skinny was better than anything else and where I wanted nothing more than to stop eating until I was bone-thin.

-I asked for, and was granted, a raise at work.

-I am writing again. Maybe it’s not much yet, but I’m writing.

 

Find your little victories and share them. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate one another.

 

 

Honor your creativity

That little piece of wisdom comes from Lady Gaga and I have found that it is deceptively simple and truly valuable advice indeed. 

No matter how tired you are, how down in the dumps, how depressed or sick or anxious, you have to honor the moments of passion and inspiration. You have to take whatever your gift is, whatever you truly love and enjoy, regardless of how small or insignificant you feel, and honor it. Write a couple of hundred words of that story you want to tell, strum out a few chords of that song you’re trying to write, pick up your paintbrush or pencil and get something on that canvas you’ve been ignoring, strap on your sneakers and try that new trail run you’ve been contemplating, go to the dance class you’ve always wanted to take. What you create might be messy. It might not be brilliant, it might need editing and improvement, but you have to let it out and let yourself express it. You have to honor the things that make you happy, the things that let you thrive and grow, even on the days where it feels like all you can do is wilt. The moment you stop doing that, the moment you think about grabbing that pen and paper and spewing out your ideas but decide not too because you’re too tired or you don’t think it’s good enough, that’s the moment you start to die. 
It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be perfect. But you have to let yourself do and be and experience those moments. When your heart is trying to shout but your brain tells it to whisper, don’t listen. Shout. Scream. Make noise. Cause a scene. Even if it’s just you in your underwear shaking your ass off for 10 minutes in your bedroom because your heart just needed to dance, do it.

In the words of Gaga: Honor your creativity. Celebrate your wild mind. 

Be kind to yourself.

It is so easy to beat ourselves up all the time, whether it’s for something we’ve said or done, that extra serving of dessert we didn’t think we deserved, skipping a day at the gym, or failing to get our whole to-do list completed, it always seems easier to find things to be discouraged about than it is to find things to praise. This is a habit we have to break.

For example, I’ve found myself in a real funk this afternoon because I’ve done very little today and I hardly left the house (only venturing out to walk to the corner store and pick up half & half and cookies). The thing is, the reason I’m in a bad mood and feeling very down on myself is because I feel like I’ve somehow failed today. But, the truth is, I haven’t. Sure, I could have done more today, but I haven’t shirked any real responsibilities or skipped doing anything that really needed to be done. It’s Saturday, I didn’t have work to go to or anywhere I absolutely needed to be, so why do I feel like I’ve done something wrong by having a lazy day reading and napping with my dogs? There is absolutely no reason for my bad mood other than some self-imposed sense that I should have gone and done a whole bunch of stuff today and that by not doing so I’ve screwed up. If I can let go of this idea of what I should have done and simply accept that this is what I needed today, my bad mood could float away and I could actually enjoy having the time to be relax. 

We waste so much time and energy worrying about wasting time that we miss the gift that is having a day to ourselves, being able to recharge and refresh and ready ourselves for the days that actually are non-stop and require us to go above and beyond in order to fulfill our daily duties. 
It is ok to take a day off. It is ok to nap away your afternoon. Forgive yourself for not being productive 24/7 and you might actually find that being calm and “lazy” has it’s own form of usefulness.