I took a vacation day today, and aside from trips to the kitchen for food and drink and visits to the bathroom, I didn't get out of bed! I got no phone calls or texts, and I even avoided checking my work email! It. Was. Awesome!
I had intended to spend the day writing, but when I woke up, I just wasn't feeling it. So, I didn't, and I didn't even feel bad about it. I read a lot, posted a bunch over at spn_writing and chatted with friends online. I even took the lazy route and ordered pizza for dinner so all I had to do was answer the door.
Days like this usually tend to leave me groggy, and I'm feeling that now - but tomorrow I'll feel rested and recharged so it's totally worth it. So tomorrow it's back to work, and I'm actually not dreading the week. Sometimes it's just a really good idea to take a day just for yourself!
But, I'm going to continue...it may be in fits and starts, but I'll get to 100!
Today's happy is...*drum roll*...happy birthday to me!
I get to do that, right? Right.
I've had a pretty good birthday! I got lots of love from my friends online, a sweet card from dancing_adrift with lovely artwork by dephigravity (kissing boys ftw!), and had yummy cake and ice cream with my family. Pretty low-key, but that's okay!
Sometimes I wish I had a big group of friends I could go out and celebrate with, but I kind of think that's more of what's expected, what's the norm, than what I would actually enjoy. I'm pretty low-key normally, so it really would be out of character for me to go out on the town or have a big party. I guess it's just a little crappy to feel lonely on your birthday, but - ehhh.
BUT - I'm starting a new year, and that's always kind of exciting. I'm thinking about some new goals to try to achieve in the next year, ways I can work toward improving myself. Goal setting is always something that gets me hyped up, spurs my motivation. I don't always achieve them all, but that's okay. I keep working on them, revise and revisit and eventually I'll get there!
It was inevitable.
Had to happen.
Today's happy? J2.
Whether it's watching Supernatural, gag reels, con videos, or reading (and writing) fanfic, these two beautiful, sexy, goofy dorks make me smile.
As I mentioned yesterday, it's been a rough couple of days for me. I do whatever I can to pull myself out of these episodes of deep depression, if one thing doesn't work I move on and try another. Today (while I was supposed to be working...shhhh!) I tried watching the videos from Dallas con. It had me laughing out loud, and after a long weekend of feeling so down I could barely get out of bed, that felt really fucking good. It lifted my spirits enough that I was able to go for a walk after work, and the fresh air and excercise improved my mood even more. So things are looking up, and J2 helped.
(The new CW sizzle reel with them "comparing swords" didn't hurt matters, either - still giggling about that one!)
Kinda had a crazy lousy weekend - my brain decided to put on it's devil mask and whisper all kinds of awful, nasty, horrible things in my ear for the past few days. That's the thing about depression - sometimes, no matter what you do, it'll pop up and chew on you for a little while...sometimes there's a trigger, sometimes there's not. You just have to keep fighting, keep trying whatever you can think of to pull yourself out. Sometimes what pulls you out can be the most random of things.
For me, this time, it was dragging myself out of bed to go to the store. I was on the verge of going to sleep (again - I did a lot of sleeping this weekend) and suddenly got a craving for gingerale. So, I got up, cleaned up, got dressed and headed out. When I turned the car on, Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp was playing on the stereo.
The song is significant to me because it triggered a pretty big realization for me a year or so ago - about saying goodbye to the stranger depression makes me become, embracing who I really am. Having it pop up at just this moment again was a good reminder of that, and went a long way toward pulling me out of the funk I've been in. Not that I'm totally out of the woods yet, but I'm feeling better and I've managed to mostly shut up that negativity in my brain. So it's a big step in the right direction.
So, that's my happy today. Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp.
Writing is my happy place!!!
After yesterday's autumn love-fest, I was talking to friends about how much we all love fall, and today was the FIRST DAY of fall, and there were google doodles and fall-themed Jared aesthetics, and the whole thing just gave me the fanfic feels. I just got this neeeeeeed to write beautiful boys cuddling under a big maple tree with bright orange leaves all around them and the sun filtering through and *swooooooons*
So, yeah - I've written about 2000 words of a mini-story, it'll probably wind up somewhere around 3-4k words (which is an odd length for me, I usually write one-scene ficlets that are about 1k, or full stories that are 10k on up - this one's totally different!). I'll hopefully finish that tomorrow, edit over the weekend, so there should be new fic posted from me soon! Woohoo!
But yeah, writing is so my happy place. I love the way my brain latches on to an image or a story premise, and doesn't let go until I've worked it out to a full-fledged idea. I love the a-ha moment when it all comes together in my head. I love starting to write, those first, tentative sentences flowing out onto the screen, then I pause and re-read, make a few adjustments to get the engine going then all of a sudden I'm off and the words are flowing, my fingers flying over the keyboard, and before I know it I've gotten a full page written with characters starting to come to life and the scene set and things are starting to happen.
When I write, I have this calm focus that I don't have any other time. My brain shuts down all the chatter - all that negative self-talk, all the worry and wondering what if, all the memories of things past that I can't do anything about but my brain latches onto anyway. When I'm writing, it's just me and the story. It's an escape, a way of transporting myself into another world for a while, but unlike reading or watching movies or television, when I come back from that escape I have something to show for it. I've created this world, these characters, this story - and hopefully it's good, hopefully it's something other people will want to read and get some enjoyment from. Because if I need to escape the world I live in for a little while, shouldn't I want to do that in a way that might benefit others? In a way that gives other people the same kind of escape that I need? Shouldn't there be something positive to come out of all the shit I have to deal with and fight all the time, something good from the way in which I deal with it? Yeah. I love writing.
Autumn makes me happy.
It's not quite fully autumn yet, but it's getting close. As I drove to work this morning, there were more trees tinged with color, the valleys were filled with fog and the mountains had a shawl of low-hanging clouds that you just never see except in autumn.
I've always loved fall best. I was one of those kids who really loved school, so fall signalled the return to learning, new pencils and notebooks, and chilly early morning walks to school.
It's an odd thing, but I've always considered fall to be the start of the year. Even though everything is dying, that's when I seem to come alive, and that's when things feel renewed for me. I often make changes in my life in the fall, akin to new year's resolutions.
I sleep better once the days get shorter and the nights colder. I adore wrapping up in a cozy hoodie or sweater. I love the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet. The color palette of autumn pleases me to no end. The squirrels and chipmunks scurry around busily collecting stores for the winter. And the smell - there's nothing quite like the crisp, rustic scent of the air and leaves in the woods in autumn. *heart eyes*
So, yeah. Tomorrow is the autumnal equinox, and you can bet I'll be finding some time to be outside.
(Yes, this is in my town. No it's not my photo. But you're still jealous, aren't you?) ;-p
I've actually thought about this several times throughout the day today, and I don't know whether it's just my current headspace or if it's really just this hard - but I had a terrible time coming up with something to write about. But then, laying in bed trying to sleep it hit me - right in the face with a huge DUH!
My friends. I am so grateful for them and I get so much happiness from the time I spend with them. I'm kind of socially awkward and tend to be quite shy, so the internet is the best social outlet for me - and I've been lucky enough to befriend two wonderful women who have accepted me - as I am, for who I am, no exceptions - and who have become very dear to me. I've never had such close friends before, and it amazes me on a daily basis. I just love them. Happily. *dorky grin*
I'm going to try to go to sleep now.
I did read up on the "official" challenge from the website (100 Happy Days), and while it's awesome, I'm going to make it my own. The original challenge is to post a photo each day - that doesn't work for me. I'd rather use words. I may use photos occassionally, but for me this is more about internal things, and being that I can't take pictures of my brain, I'll use my words instead. This also has nothing to do with being busy, which is what the original talks about. I live a pretty simple life - I go to work, love my cats, hang with my friends on the internet, read and write. I like my life, and I'm not one of those people who are driven to seek fame and fortune or to climb a corporate ladder - my measure of success is more about my relationships - with myself and others - than anything else. I won't be joining the website, and I won't be claiming "wins" or "losses" (that's one thing I have an issue with on the website - "you lose the challenge", "people who successfully complete the challenge" - that language is negative and defeatist, and I think misses the whole point of doing this). This is a therapeutic tool for me, a way to work on changing how I think - "fixing" that broken part of my brain that insists on trying to drag me down constantly. So - here goes.
I am happy that I'm able to get the help I need.
I don't have good health insurance or expendable cash. I live paycheck to paycheck, so therapy becomes an "extra" for me. But there's a state-funded program that lets me see a therapist - usually once a month, occassionally more - for free. It's based on availability and demand, so if a time comes when there are other people who may be in crisis or worse off than I am seeking help, I may get bumped out of the program for a while, but for now it's working for me. I've been in and out of therapy since I was a teenager, sometimes stopping because I was doing well (or when I was younger because I didn't see the point of doing the work), sometimes because of financial reasons. I've been very lucky throughout my life to almost always have some kind of help available to me - sometimes it's been a huge struggle, sometimes it's been easier, but I've never gone very long without it when I really needed it. It's probably one of the main reasons I'm still here, still fighting. When I think of the "what if" - where I could potentially be right now if I didn't have help, it terrifies me. But I'm not there, I do have help - and that makes me happy.
Today was a bad day for me. I woke up anxious, sad, depressed - for no reason. It happens. Some days my brain just says fuck it and throws me down the rabbit hole.
I stayed in bed most of the day, didn’t really do anything beyond poking around on the internet. I napped. I wallowed. Late in the afternoon I finally decided enough was enough.
I got out of bed, put on my favorite comfy clothes and left the house. Put on Jason Manns in the car because his music always makes me happy. Took care of some errands that needed to be done and bought myself a little something nice.
And now? I feel better. Not 100%, but certainly not where I was when I woke up.
This is how I keep fighting.
I’ve been a supporter of Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting campaign since it started. It helped me a tremendous amount, launching with perfect timing, when I was in a very dark place. It’s continued to help me since, sometimes just seeing the words are enough to push me forward. I know it’s helped innumerable other people, too. I’ve seen countless times people asking “How do you keep fighting?” This is why I’m sharing this.
There’s no one right answer to the question of how to fight. It’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s music, maybe it’s going out with friends, maybe it’s a long hot bath - the actions you take to push yourself forward will be individual, what works for me may not work for you. But the common denominator is to just dig deep, take a deep breath and do something. Anything. Whatever it is that will break that cycle, force your brain to take a different path.
I’ve been fighting depression and anxiety for thirty years. I’ve spent weeks in bed, unable to drag myself up. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve woken up in the morning trembling so bad with anxiety that the bed was shaking. I’ve been in therapy, I’ve been on drugs, I’ve meditated, I’ve exercised, I’ve counted breaths to a million. I’ve been kind to myself. I’ve forced myself to keep going. I’ve fought.
I’m still here. I’m still fighting. After three decades, you’d think I would have had enough, that I’d give up because after so long - yeah, I’m tired. But I’m too stubborn to give up. I’m too proud of myself for making it this far, this long, to stop fighting now. And what really keeps me going is days like today, when everything seems like it’s all been for naught, but I’m able to find it in myself to push through, to get out, to drive around in the sunshine with my favorite music blasting. What really keeps me going is that those little moments are so much greater than the seemingly endless moments of darkness.
And the real kicker? I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. All these years of struggling - yeah, it sucks, it really does - but when I have moments - hours, days, weeks, months - of sunshine they are so much brighter for having lived in darkness. And I can say to others with complete honesty “I know what it’s like,” I can be a presence in someone else’s life that lets them know they are not alone. I have within me a strength that seems impossible, improbable - how can one seemingly insignificant person do this? The thing is - I’m not insignificant, I do matter, I am strong. I am a fighter. And I want you to fight, too.
Last night I went to a concert with my sister. We arrived very early and got very close to the stage - fourth row, nearly center. I've been to concerts before - the last I went to was ten years ago, and the only way I was able to do it was to stick to the outskirts with a clear, quick escape route. But not last night - last night we were right in the thick of it. And I did experience anxiety and panic. The volume that close to the stage was epic - I could feel the ground shaking beneath my feet, the flesh on my arms shuddering with the beat, and the thumping of the bass heavily pounded in my chest. I was unprepared for that much of a physical experience, and it scared me. But I pushed through it, and by the end of the show, I enjoyed it.
The lead singer came out into the crowd during one of the encore songs, and there was a push of the crowd (he was close - my sister got knocked in the head with the microphone cord) - I knew ahead of time that this would happen, it happens at every one of their shows, and I knew I would be in the middle of it. I panicked anyway. But I also dealt with it. I fought down the thoughts that would have blown the situation out of proportion in my head - the thoughts of "what if I get separated from my sister?" "what if I get pushed down and trampled?" "what if I have a panic attack?" - I made it through, and even though I have no memory of that particular song of the show, that's okay. I made it.
As we sat in the car waiting for traffic to clear enough to be able to back out of our parking space, I was enveloped with an overwhelming sense of pride. I was exhausted, sore, and anxiety-ridden, but so fucking proud of myself for doing it. For fighting that which, not that long ago, would have kept me from going and having a good time, enjoying the music, the energy of the crowd and the company of my sister, of making memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I didn't miss out.
The National at MassMoCA - June 11, 2016
I got home late, fell into bed exhausted and slept peacefully and happily. I woke up, still tired and sore, still feeling full of pride at my accomplishment, of how far I've come in my fight. When I went online and started seeing the news, my high deflated. I found there had been yet another shooting, 50 people dead and 53 injured at a club in Orlando.
I started thinking about why something like this would affect me so strongly. I don't watch the news - I gather a meager understanding of what's going on in the world through headlines on the internet, but I can't stomach anything more. I get anxious and depressed when things like this happen, and I can't wrap my head around how things like this can happen. So I escape into writing, reading, fandom, television and music. I ignore the horrible things that go on in the world because it's too much for me to handle. And that's why the news of this shooting knocked me down off my high of accomplishment. I can handle a concert, but I can't handle the world at large. I can function in my own little, sheltered environment, but I can't open myself up to the greater circle of society. I can't find the strength to join in the fight against these terrible things, even though I fully believe in fighting hate with love, and the more love is put out into the world the stronger and more effective it gets. It's not that I think I will never be able to put myself out there. I know I'm still working on it - last night is evidence of that. I just still have a ways to go before I get to the point where I can fight the panic and fear it brings up in me.
And that brought me to wondering why I choose writing as an escape. I realized that even though writing is a solitary process, that I can shutter myself away with my fingers on the keyboard and not be affected by the things that scare me, it still creates an avenue for me to participate in the society that I'm afraid of. Through telling stories I can put the love that I have, that energy, out into the world. It's my way of fighting. Right now it's what I can do while still caring for myself - and I'm okay with that. Right now, it's enough.
My heart goes out to those affected by this awful, hateful act. I send my love to help in the fight against hate. My words will be flowing as much as possible.