Red Weddings, Ledgers and Other Things (And How Not to Ruin Your Life)

Okay, guys, I’m just going to say it. This post is not for you. Move along.

So. Periods, amirite?

It feels like there’s maybe two weeks out of the month where I feel like a normal person. I take hormonal birth control pills, so I have at least the convenience of a schedule that says, “Okay, for these days, just assume I’ve lost my ability to function.” But in the latter part of the week leading up to my period, the week of, and half of the week following, there is a flood of A’s: anguish, anxiety, anger, ambivalence, assholishness.

I hated feeling this way for a long time. The attitude that I was always exposed to was, “You’re just going to have to deal with it, and it sucks, but too bad.”

And I suddenly realized, at least for me, that that would only be true if I didn’t care enough to change how I operated between the crazy times.

Everybody is different, but I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me.

  • Calendar reminders: I have filled out my calendar with the timeframes that I know things are going to be Not Good. It may seem like a small thing, but having that visual reminder is really helpful.
  • Mantra: I remind myself, Your feelings are real and valid. You just have a more difficult time dealing with them presently. I’m no less of myself when my body is in utter freak-out mode. However, rather than internalizing stress, I may just explode at whoever it around me. Just knowing that it’s a possibility makes me better able to move away from potentially volatile scenarios.
  • Work around it: It doesn’t always pan out, but I will try and get as much of my personal goals accomplished prior to that time as possible. Of course things may come up, but I feel better knowing that I won’t be nagging myself if I don’t feel up to it.
  • Plow through it: this one is a bit ‘mind over (gross) matter.’ I try to get focused as tightly as I can on what I am doing. It is so, so easy for me to overthink on small things that come up during those two weeks. Mole hills? More like Appalachians. So I refuse to dwell too long on slights, worries and little things.

What sort of tricks do you ladies use to handle that ever-so-special time of the month?

 

Don’t be a Lemming

I bet when you started reading this post, you were thinking, “Ah yes. Here we go. A diatribe about being yourself and not going with the crowd, yadda yadda yadda.” Although those are great things you should already know, this is much more mind-blowing.

Did you know that the popularized “fact” that lemmings will commit mass suicides is a complete farce? Although many will remember seeing the depictions of this “behavior” in Disney’s “White Wilderness” (which won an Academy Award, people) it was a fabrication.

Let that sink in for a second.

And thus, I want you to heed a more true lesson from these cute little fuzzballs: don’t let anyone tell your story for you. Do you think right now those lemmings are losing sleep, pondering over the fact that people believe they are getting ready to fling themselves out into the void? Do you think they are looking into their little lemming mirrors, saying, “Why do people think I’m such a conformist?” No. They are way too busy living life to the fullest. And sure, that life may basically be “eat, sleep, run around, repeat” but it’s not one that’s being wasted concerning one’s self over the misconceptions of others.

Defy expectation. Break every standard and stereotype. You do you. Follow the crowd if you want. Make your mark every day. And question every single documentary. I dare you.

Existential Crisis: The Battle Plan

How to Survive an Existential Crisis

It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? An emergency situation. Red, flashing lights. Sirens. Fire. Murder!

When you’re not in the middle of it, it seems like some serious #firstworldproblems. And even when you are experiencing it, there’s this nagging voice in the back of your head going, “You know, somewhere in the world, people are experiencing crises too. For food. In wars. Families trying to make their lives manageable. And you are getting stressed out because you don’t feel…what? Happy? Satisfied? Get over it!” And isn’t it funny how that voice always sounds like the parent trying to get you to eat brussel sprouts? Those starving kids, right?

In the American work culture that walks an uneasy line between “live your dream” and “suck it up, buttercup,” it’s easy to feel conflicted when you are trying to deal with struggles of self. I speak from experience. Here is a simple guide to getting through these really awful feels.

1. Journal about it: write down everything that’s sticking in your head. Don’t think too much about it. Just take a few deep breaths and write it all out. The plus side to this is that you have it down so you can come back to it later. Often times, you will find later that you’re not really sure what the big deal was. Or, on the other side of that, you can assure yourself that you have in fact felt this way before about something and start making decisions on how to change it.

2. Talk to someone: make sure that you let them know which you are looking for – an attentive ear or actual advice. Give them a heads up beforehand that you are going to share things that may seem self-involved, petty, etc. I know you may be thinking “why would I have to do that with a real friend?” but sometimes it actually serves to open them up more to getting your struggles. Because you’re saying that you’re trusting them.

3. Understand that this is happening and give yourself a break: a lot of times existential crises will spiral into shame trips. Don’t let them. You are having this moment, so accept it as it is. Be okay with the fact that you are going through this, even if you’re not okay with the feelings themselves. Think of them like weather or traffic or illness; you don’t have to like it, but it’s here for now, so just relax.

4. Give yourself a solid 60 seconds: freak out. Scream into a pillow. Hyperventilate a little bit. But just for that minute. Then, you need to go do something else.

5. Be present: I say this a lot, but it’s an important aspect of dealing with things like this. A lot of times, even though it’s called “existential,” a lot of the mulling over we do involves the past and the future. Fuggedaboutem. Think about what you’re doing right now. Focus on that thing, even if it’s just sitting at your computer, reading comics. Be 100% in that.

You can handle this. I dare you.