Creative Advice, NaNoWriMo, Personal

It’s Okay

This time last week, I was on top of my game. I had words running off my fingers like honey from a comb. I was making magic, awesome and fierce and unstoppable. I was a musician working on my self-titled album, music flowing through me. I was a wizard over a cauldron of promising toil and trouble.

And then Tuesday happened. The storm.

And then Wednesday happened. The aftermath.

And it hurt. I want to say that I kept moving. That even though someone increased the gravity inside the chambers of my heart, I said, “Nope. Still going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

But I didn’t.

I got depressed, and basically from Thursday through Sunday I didn’t really write anything. I felt like garbage. I was tense and anxious and no matter how much I wanted to will things into existence, everything just shorted out. And I was so mad at myself because I wanted to continue. I wanted to say that I was bigger than everything that was happening. But I wasn’t.

Now, as I’m finally getting back to a state of normalcy, I want to tell you that it’s okay.

It’s okay to lose your way. It’s okay to get angry and upset. It’s okay to rage quit now and then. It’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up over it. No sane self-help book has been written that says, “Self-flagellation is a sure-fire way to get yourself in the state of mind you want to be in!!” It’s okay to step away from your work and have a good cry.

Know that you won’t feel this way forever. It will pass. Even if it’s something indicative of a larger problem that you’re dealing with and even if it’s something that isn’t just going to go away (it rarely is)…your heart is surprisingly buoyant. You won’t always be at the bottom of the ocean. Eventually, you’re going to float back up to the top.

It’s okay. Get back to work when you’re ready.

And you will be ready again. I promise.

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mental health, Personal, Uncategorized

Living with Anxiety

This afternoon, I had an episode of anxiety laced with depression.

It wasn’t like it sometimes is, where it’s following in the wake of a runaway stress motorboat. It also didn’t descend over me like a blanket of smoke — the kind where you wake up into it and realize you can neither breathe nor see a few inches past your face.

It came on a beautiful, quiet day, when work wasn’t sucking and I wasn’t at odds with anyone. It came without any provocation, when I had been eating well and stretching and exercising and drinking lots of water. It came like a flaming toilet hurtling from outer space.

It happens. Like shit.

And it’s easy to get angry. I did, scrubbing tears off my cheeks and all but flinging them across the room. Because while one part of my brain was having a meltdown, the other part was standing over top of them going, “Dude, what is wrong with you?”

And there isn’t an answer when this happens. You can sort of take note, recognize it for what it is, but it is literally a whirlpool. And the more you fight, the more tired and aching you get.

A few reminders when you’re going through this (for you as much as me):

  • You are not broken. You are not damaged goods. And accepting that means also accepting that there are no returns.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Be calm and approach someone you trust and explain the situation. Let the love in, as much as you are concerned about being “annoying” or “clingy.”
  • Breathe. Just give yourself some time and some space. You are okay.
  • This too shall pass.

 

Poetry, Writing

Treating Chemical Burns

Smell the morning, like linen and empty notebooks,
And touch the air as it hovers and sparkles, no matter what the clock says,
Spoon the possibility into your coffee.

Cover your ears when the coal train thoughts buzz like insects,
The humming that gets suddenly louder
And stops for a second when everything tenses,
Fleeing and then returning for purchase.

Heed the copper smell of the creeping what-if
That clings to fingers and never concedes to any soap, any balm,
And accept its presence
Because hands still work even when they stink.

The color of the Bad Day isn’t blue
But rather every color and even ones with no name
That are worn on breast pockets and ties
And in flower crowns and tie-dyed necklaces.

Inhale the toxicity of the clenched jaw, the sweaty palms,
Let it linger until you can’t hold it in anymore
And then watch what animals form out of the smoke
As you let go.

You are more than the sum of your beautiful pain.

 

5 Things, Self Dare, Uncategorized

5 Reminders for Both of Us

  1. Don’t fight against fear or anxiety or depression. The children that reside in your mind will never understand what you’re saying and will just scream louder. Find things to distract them and go about your business.
  2. Ignore perfection. Complete your daily tasks even if they do not become the stuff of legends. Then get up and do it again.
  3. Saying “I don’t care” is easy. Saying that you will continue to care when it is the hardest option and smiling despite all pains is a miracle. Believe in miracles.
  4. Fight on. Fight hard. Never surrender. Life is an action movie that we think is a rom-com.
  5. When in doubt, carry a supply of sweet treats. Sometimes reinforcements will be necessary.
mental health, Uncategorized

Effective Combat vs Depression

Remember how I was talking about the whole holiday letdown bit? Yeah, one of the side effects is depression. Not exactly fiery poops or death, but depression really sucks.

I have suffered from depression since puberty, and its hyperactive cousin anxiety has been around even longer than that. Even after that long, I’m still not used to knowing when it’s around. Suddenly, I’m just frustrated and I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. My mind goes all out to ridiculous places. I suddenly question everything: my job, my home, my friends, my entire life. It’s like everything in me assumes that I made some huge mistake along the way, and now how I feel is a consequence of that.

It’s so not true, y’all.

It’s easy enough to make lists of things to help you out of a funk, but when you don’t realize that that’s where you are, you may as well not have them at all. However, here are some of the things I say to myself that help:

– You are more than this feeling in this moment.

– You do not deserve this anymore than you deserve a headache or the flu.

– You’re not going to remember this. What you will remember is the things you still go and do even when you feel like this.

– Just take one step at a time. Do this thing now. Then do this. It may not be fun, but when it’s over, it’ll be better.

Anybody else struggle with depression? Anything that helps you?

mental health, Personal, Uncategorized

Aftermath!

Phew, guys. That’s all I can say. Phew.

These past two months have been absolutely crazy-go-nuts. In November, I did NaNoWriMo (and won!). In the middle of that was Thanksgiving, which is a big cooking holiday for us, and then everything from Black Friday until, like, this past Saturday was…Christmas.

Christmas, with the making of gifts for friends and family.

Christmas, with the enjoyment of music and movies.

Christmas, with the traveling and visiting (we live in Pittsburgh and our families live in Maryland and Southern Virginia).

Christmas, with the scheduling of all of the above.

And now New Years is in spitting distance, and I’m holding my head like…what just happened and why is 2015 ending I can’t even.

I’m not sure why, but the combination fried rice of making, doing, seeing, being and working has made my brain feel like it’s pretty much just that: scrambled egg in soft grain. With peas and carrots. I can tell that I’ve reached my limit because all my anxiety which is normally just sort of simmering beneath the surface is erupting all Old-Faithful style. This comparison works because Old Faithful is more like Anything But, because it’s not easy to predict when it’s going to happen.

My anxiety manifests itself in obsessive thinking patterns, over-analyzing, and Way Too Big Picture questioning. I get in bed, and I ask my husband, “Do you think I’m where I’m supposed to be? I’m so old. What am I doing? I’m pretty sure the world is ending.” These are not things that one should be thinking about before they sleep. In fact, my anxiety created this bizarre dream in which a Jason Momoa lookalike berated me at length – about my appearance, my life choices, what I was doing with myself.

It is safe to say I woke up confused, perturbed and hurt.

The post-holiday letdown is something I know that other people deal with too. We get so, so wrapped up in the season that when it’s all over, you end up looking around like, “Okay! What’s next?” And the answer is a big slap in the face by baby new year.

So, y’all, if you’re anything like me…be good to yourself right now. Take everything a little bit at a time. Create a to do list and commit to taking care of just one thing every day. Get sleep. Eat well, even when the anxiety demons are all, “Dip the chocolate bar IN the Speculos spread!”

You’ll feel a hell of a lot better in a week. I know it.

5 Things, Uncategorized

5 Things You Can Buy for Less than $15 to Help You Relax

If you are a fan of bohemian.on.rye, you know I love lists of 5 things. 5 things that one can do, 5 things that are awesome, 5 things I learned from some book/movie/etc. So this is my debut “5 things” post for all you lovelies.

1. Kinetic Sand

It’s not just for kids. The soft texture of this substance is extremely soothing to play with. I keep some on hand for when I am feeling especially anxious.

2. Bath bombs from Lush

Sex Bomb

So this one can be a bit of a slippery slope, because once you try pretty much anything from Lush, you’re going to be hooked. These extremely fragrant, fun balls will make your bath not only smell and feel great, but they look awesome.

3. Try Next Issue

https://i1.wp.com/imgs.zinio.com/magimages/500299025/2015/416338244_370.jpg

I recently discovered this service, and I am hooked. Because I love buying magazines, but once I read them, I tend to keep giant stacks. For $10 a month, you can peruse a sizable catalog of monthly magazines and download new ones as they come out. Now when I’m feeling a bit too frazzled to get into a book, I’ll find a new magazine and flip through it on my tablet or smart phone.

4. A skein of yarn and some knitting needles

I learned how to knit on Saturday, and I can’t stop. It’s such a mindless activity that can give me a place to focus unwanted energy.

5. A video game on Steam

I love video games. I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I know what I like, and when I’m in a tense state of mind, nothing helps me blow off steam (har har) more than a few puzzle games. One of the great things about Steam is there is something for everyone (Sonic? Dragon’s Lair? Super Meatboy?) and there are frequent sales. You can pick up great games for pennies on the dollar at the right times.

What splurges do you allow yourself when you need to chill?

Creative Advice, Personal

Worry, Thy Name is Piglet

I talk very openly about my issues with anxiety, depression, and obsessive thinking nowadays. It used to be something I only discussed with people who would experience it on a day to day basis, which was mostly roommates. It was like a little troll that followed me around. Hanging out with me for a few hours, and you may have never seen it. I could stuff it into my pockets or stick it in the backseat of my car. But if you lived with me day to day, you were going to notice it waddling around the apartment, generally being a nuisance.

I’ve dealt with these issues thanks to medication, but what many people don’t realize is that medication doesn’t make the problem go away. The troll doesn’t disappear like one of the green mucus critters from the mucinex commercials. The medication just puts the troll in a box. That way, I can carry the troll around and go about my business. It doesn’t change the fact that I have to drag it wherever I go and listen to it being an all-around pain in butt.

Suffice to say: I still have bad days.

Recently, I was struck by a day in which I was chronically worrying. I went to the mall. I worried. I bought some cute clothes. I worried. I finished reading a book and bought a dozen chocolate chip cookies. I worried.

As I drove in my car through gross, cold rain, I listened to a meditation in which it was encouraged to greet your negative feelings.

Hello, worry.

I did feel silly.

“Acknowledge the feeling. Welcome it, and make the decision to go about your business.”

Hi, worry. Yes, I see you there. No, I don’t want to hang out. Go away. Again, my instinct was seeing the troll, the annoying little jerk-in-the-box who was bothering and nagging and that needed to be exterminated by chronic foot-up-the-ass.

The meditation then went on to recommend giving the feeling an actual character. It encouraged making this fun and whimsical. And I’m not sure why it clicked with me at that moment, but I knew what my worry was. I knew what I wanted it to be. Thank you, Disney Store.

Piglet. From Winnie the Pooh.

pigletWho doesn’t freaking love Piglet? He’s constantly, hilariously frazzled. He’s always getting blown around because he’s a little guy, and as a result, he’s just in a perpetual state of “hot mess.” Piglet is a hot damn mess.

Suddenly, my worrying took on a different role in my head. I wasn’t really mad at it, or annoyed. I was laughing at it. I was imagining my own “deary dear dear” Piglet, wringing his little paws, and I was able to go, “Piglet, chill. Oh my god, everything’s okay.”

I felt so much better.

When’s the last time you tried to change your perspective on how you were feeling about something? What is keeping you from, say, writing or finishing a project? Is there a way you could laugh at it instead of feeling stressed out?

5 Things, Finders Fridays

Finder Friday: 5 Things Worth Reading

It’s Friday. Aren’t you glad? I know I am. This has not been a great week in the news. I’d like to say things can only get better, but saying that sort of thing out loud never ends well. Or typing it.

Here are a few things I found this week that you might want to check out:

1. Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves — Sorry this one isn’t particularly cheery. Definitely not the normal Cracked.com fare. Thoughtful and well-written and so very, very true.

2. How Not to Write Your First Novel — Lev Grossman’s honest, poignant look back at his early twenties. I feel that any person who mocks millenials for their quarterlife crisis should give this a read. Every generation goes through this. This one just happens to have Instagram.

3. 10 Simple Ways to Become a Better Writer — Don’t let the simple title fool you. This one is a treat. I like 4, 6 and 10 the most.

4. How to Put on Your Face by Anna Akana — Again, not what you’re expecting. Believe me. Is that the theme for this week? Or just coincidence?

5. Notes from Austin Kleon’s Tumblr Office Hours — Read this. All. Of. This. Now. Please.
Did you know I actually already shared this in my weekly newsletter, “How to Have a Day Job”? You can hear about that sort of awesome stuff and more tips on maintaining your writer’s/painter’s/sketcher’s/whatever’s spirit by signing up right here!