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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Honest Post Part 4:
Of Heroes And Hospitals

I would usually apologize for my absence and offer explanation upfront before getting into the point, but actually for this post, that is the point. So I'll just do this.

A little over a month ago, I was hospitalized for self-harm during a suicidal episode. From the emergency room, I was cased by a social worker and admitted to the psychiatric ward. I was there for a week, and there's a lot I could and should explain to you about it, and in time, I will, but first I need to be grateful.
It's the season of Thanksgiving, and though it might seem like a rather depressing frame for a "100 Days of Gratitude" or whatever post, I think the point is to be observant and sincere, and this is what I  have seen and felt.

-I am grateful for the ER nurse who stayed back a second to tell me I mattered after meeting me barely moments before and without him knowing nothing about me except that I had carved into my arm with a piece of broken glass.
-I am grateful for the social worker who told me my biggest fault must be loving too big, and what a wonderful fault to have.
-I am grateful for my ward-mate Benny who chatted me through my anxiety about being stuck there alone and who paused at my room before he was released to his family to tell me he'd asked the nurse to turn on a movie for me because he wanted to see my smile before he left.
-I am grateful for my roommate Madi who loved me out loud.
 I think about her every day, and keep her notes nearby so I can re-read her kind words and remember her sass and sweetness, her personal hugs and her excellent coloring skills. My sweet Madi who made me laugh when I forgot how.
-For Vashti for showing me what bravery and humility look like. Who was pure kindness and let no one feel ashamed of anything.
-For old Malcolm, who called me "sweetheart" and almost beat me at Scrabble.
-For nurse Alicia who literally held me while I cried all slobbery all over her even though her day had gone so much worse than mine (her cherished dog of ten years had to be put down). And who brought me Tootsie Rolls after hearing they were my favorite.
-For nurse Maddy who let my visitors stay an hour longer than the designated curfew.
-For Kaley who was our "mental-ward-mother". Who supported us and worried with us and loved us.
-For Billy who played us songs and asked me to sing.
-For Carl who, even though he had to celebrate his birthday in the hospital, made the whole day about our little unit family having a good time.
-For Doctor Croft who made therapy realistic and restoring. Who was both my doctor and my friend.
-For Chelsea Francom who visited almost every day and always called if she couldn't. Who brought me treats and hugs, and constant affection. Who stayed and talked always. And Patrick Francom who came and always smiled, always hugged and never ever judged.
-For Rosemary and little Jake who still laughed at me when I was ridiculous.
-For Mary and Rachel who came and let me chat their faces off without flinching.
-For my brother Jon-Michael, sister-in-law Kira and nephew baby Lysander (Sir Squish) who called every day just to hang out with me from afar. Squish's giggles at my voice made me warm and contented.
-For Taka and Mishimmy for bringing sunshine to my whole unit.
-For Joseph and Erin for bringing me books and sharing puns and space-nerdiness.
-For Joe, who made sure I was safe.
-For my parents who always came and who were love and support embodied the whole time.
-For nurse Hilary who tried really really hard.
-For whoever made the carrot cake on Thursday--no walnuts, and I love you for it stranger.
-For Big Jake who called and told me cool stories from the road, let me feel far away diamond mining with him for a few minutes in a dream.
-For my unit-mates Jaime, Angela, Haley, the one who's name I still can't pronounce or spell, thank you for being friends with me, you didn't have to, but you did anyway. And that is the coolest thing.
-For Kris who called with love.
-For all my Misfit friends who never stop caring--even when they get nothing in return, they never stop helping.
-For my childhood BFFs LuSeba and Olivia, who have always made me a priority and who are endlessly loyal and infinitely kind.
-For my cat who forgives me. (yes, I just thanked a cat. Duh)
--For everyone who loves, who listens, who feels with me. You are priceless.
-For just everyone. You matter, you are loved. You belong.

There is things to explain further, I know, it will be addressed, but for now just know that as you read this, you are being loved in full capacity from all corners of the Universe, and that I am grateful you exist. You are my heroes, you everyday people, just living and being and feeling.
I love you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

An Honest How To: Do As The Birds Do

So, as it turns out, life is hard. Shocker. And if you're anything like me, surviving it is all about coping mechanisms. So I thought I would share some, because what's not to love about someone else condescendingly telling you how you should live your life?
In this post, I'm going to focus on my personal favorite of the coping mechanisms I employ.
And it is simply this:

Establish A Nest 

This is something I firmly believe in, and honestly try to do wherever I am. WHEREVER I AM. That includes your house. No, I do not have shame.

Here are the steps:

1) Amass a surplus of pillows and congregate your new friends in one designated area. Hug each to establish loyalty as you place them strategically in this chosen location.

2) Hire at least two quilts and three supplemental blankets to create maximum soft and squishy.
Apply to pillowed area and negotiate a kinship between them.

3) Assign a spot for the preferred technological needs. Provide access to charging station nearby (it's only polite). Headphones are helpful, since the nest is a personal experience that should not be interrupted by mundane "important real life" things.

4) Ensure there is ample food nearby at all times. This is very important. Snacking options must be available at all times, and require little to no effort to obtain and consume.

5)  If inclined. solicit cuddles from an outside source.  But not people. People are gross.
...Well maybe a person, but they have to abide by all nest rules and regulations. Preferably an inanimate object that will love you unconditionally due to the properly forced commitment aspect of the situation. In my case, this is a stuffed walrus named Wallace.
Or for more social nesting, interview potential feline--or other slightly less nest-broken creatures of your choice--applicants and come to a professional understanding.

6)  Treat nest with ultimate respect. It selflessly serves you and deserves your utmost gratitude.

7) Nest is a sacred sanctuary you escape to. Do not wear out nest by simply moving in and living daily. You must savor the nest. Use it as necessary, but do not be over-indulgent.

8) Where full nesting opportunities are scarce or "inappropriate" (according to the aforementioned gross people) a single quilt and blanket should be requested as a bare minimum.

So now you know the steps/rules. Do as the birds do. Go forth and nest!

Please, nest responsibly.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

An Honest Post Part 3:
Therapists and Theories

I started seeing a therapist for the first time when I was seventeen, the summer before my senior year of high school.
Initially it was by my parents' persuasion--they were hopeful I could receive help coping with my ADHD especially in relation to my school work.
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was thirteen and immediately prescribed Ritalin. By the time I was in high school, I was on the highest dosage the doctor could legally prescribe and I was already developing an immunity to that too.
I was awkward. I chattered too much, laughed too hard.
I didn't mature at the same level as my peers, which left me socially inept, and suddenly I had a difficult time making and keeping friends. But when I started college and unwisely decided to just quit all my medications cold turkey, I learned something. Actually many somethings. I realized I had reached the point where I had been taking the medication, not to tolerate my disorder, but rather to survive the withdrawal I had otherwise. When I forget my pills, I became so lethargic I could not wake up and sometimes slept so deeply that I could be unconscious for several days in the extreme cases. I would have constant unbearable migraines that made me even more nauseated than I was already daily when on the medication, which was itself considerable. I had little to no appetite. I had always been petite, but on the meds, I didn't gain weight, and my body didn't develop at a normal rate. As a result, when I entered college unmedicated, it was like going through a second, somehow more awkward puberty. When taking the pills, I was so subdued, it felt like I had little personality, or at least, that I couldn't express it because my brain and my body felt separate and confused from each other. So when I quit, I was suddenly everywhere--energetic, social, healthy. I hadn't not felt sick in seven years. I could go on a road trip without vomiting, exercise without getting immediately light-headed. It was a revelation. I had friends, and even a brief romance. People enjoyed me, and found my "hyperactivity" more endearing than simply obnoxious.

But we could talk about my ADHD for a novel, and I have another point to make in this post.
While all of that was lovely, there was one freedom I still hadn't been granted, and it bubbled under the surface, ever threatening to engulf me entirely. Depression-- Major Depressive Disorder. The beast that it is.
I was officially diagnosed when I was eighteen, after aforementioned traumatic events made life so unbearable I was on an edge ready to jump. Literally. But this wasn't simply the beginning of a depressive episode, it was an extreme of something I'd dealt with since the earliest I can remember.

As a kid, depression isn't something you realize. To a kid, depression is just a big word you hope you never get on a spelling test. When I was little I had no idea what it was, it was just that, a confusing thing I couldn't name or explain. People often thought I was pouting as a kid--and admittedly I did my fair share of that too--but many times I was actually feeling something overwhelming that didn't make sense and I was hiding to try to deal with it, and wasn't comfortable sharing.  I remember in Elementary School, waking up sometimes completely and inexplicably unmotivated. I didn't want to go to school, but I didn't want to stay home either, I didn't want to do anything at all, and I had no idea why. I was a very needy child. I demanded a lot of affection and required a lot of attention.
As I got older, as it does in many people, it got worse, and I got worse at handling myself.

After the diagnosis, I returned to therapy, but it was different. And I approached it differently. Honestly, I lied a lot. The therapist was always so eager for my improvement and so enthusiastic about anything that they considered a step in the right direction that I just started telling them what they wanted to hear. I preferred the undeserved affirmations to actually having to deal with any of my problems. Obviously, this was not an effective pursuit. I got tired of the guilt and disappointment, so I quit again and didn't return until my primary physician required I see the resident psychiatrist or he would insist on hospitalization in fear of my safety.

I didn't stay with that one long either, but he did say something that stayed with me, and all that semi-tangential stuff before this was the lead up to it.
 In an early session, I expressed that I felt worthless and, specifically, lost. And it was at that point that he explained something to me. He told me, "There is a difference between being lost and being confused. And Abbey, you're not lost. "

I have had a hard time agreeing with that, but I think he was onto something I'm still figuring out.
I have what some have called a savior complex. I collect people, I try to keep everyone. I have never been able to accept that anyone else is a lost cause. But now I'm having to accept the fact that generalizing it so means I have to let that apply to me too.
So here's what I want it to mean.
You're not a lost cause, and neither am I. We might not believe it yet, but let's try. Together.

(Afternote: my experience with medication was completely individual situation, and by no means applies to everyone as many people find medicating highly successful.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Honest Post Part 2:

I recognize that last post got a little heavy, so this time we're hopefully going to feel a little more lighthearted about our honesty.
At the end of the last post, I mentioned being "so many other things" and so I decided, in this post, I'd give you some things to know about me instead. So here they are, judge away internets!

(Maybe we'll just do ten so we don't get too carried away too early with the narcissism.)

1) I snort when I laugh hard. Not in a cute, Sandra Bullock kind of way, but in more of a...there may     be an actual swine present, kind of way.
2) Audrey Hepburn once said, "I was born with a enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it." And that's me too. Sounds corny or cliche, but I love to love. I say it early and maybe too often, but actually I always mean it.
3) I meow all the time. At other people. At myself. At everything and anything else. Go ahead, meow back.
4) I own seven different, whimsical panda head hats. Yes, that's a real thing.
5) I'm a Hufflepuff, and I take myself very seriously.
6) Michelangelo is my favorite Ninja Turtle.
7) I can still rap all of the lyrics to Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby", verbatim.
8) Call me bland, but Vanilla Bean is my favorite flavor of ice cream--and for the record it is different and better than Vanilla, it's...beanier. Whatever.
9) I wish they'd stop putting nuts in my dessert. It's unnecessary and I consider it a rude interruption to an otherwise delirious occasion. Especially in regards to carrot cake, like walnuts, really? What gives?!
10) I believe that, as Kevin Bacon taught us in Footloose, punch-dancing it out is the best solution to our problem-solving needs.

So that's out of the way and should get us started in a new direction.
If after reading these titillating facts, you have found yourself passionately in love with me and therefore ardently seek my hand in marriage, the answer is yes. Bring pizza and I'm still bringing my cat. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A More Sincere Approach To Something.

It's been over two years since I had anything to do with this blog. I could make many excuses to justify this, but the reality is, I honestly felt I had run out of worthwhile things to say.
When I first created this blog it was with the intention of creating a witty persona--I wanted to be charming and impressive and comedic. I wanted everyone who read it to believe I was utterly delightful. But it didn't mean anything.
To be frank, I think maybe I've spent a large part of my life trying to create this idea of a person..a shell of what I wanted to be, shielding the reality of what I am.
That's not to say I don't believe I can be clever or amusing, I'll say I have my moments, but there's a big part of what and who I am that I try to keep unknown beneath those other qualities, and you know what, that's not fair to me, or to the people who know me, or to you.
Mark Twain once said, "When in doubt, tell the truth." So let's tell the truth, and I'll start.

An Honest Post Part 1:

I was raped when I was eighteen, and since then anyone who learns this about me makes it a part of their impression of me. They find me stronger or more sympathetic. And that's a great kindness, but not to be rude, it's not what I think it ought to be.
Because I'm not a victim. I'm a person.
I share it because, yes, it was an important experience in my life, but what I want understood is that, it was an experience, not an identity crisis. It was traumatic. Of course it was. But I'm not angry, I'm grateful.  I'm grateful because it could have been much worse, but wasn't. I'm grateful for the humility I learned in realizing I needed to ask for and accept help. I am grateful for the empathy and love I received, and the new love I could give back. I am grateful that it gave me a lesson in forgiveness I needed to struggle with. I learned that forgiving is a type of freedom. And though, I would never ask to go through it again, I may not have gotten the liberation I needed at that time in my life. I'm not angry with the individual responsible, I'm proud. The redemption process after such a misguided choice, I believe, must have been difficult in a way I can't really understand, and I know he struggled through it. Recently, he was married and sealed to the love of his life in an LDS temple, and I sincerely believe he has made good on his life and he deserves the happiness he has worked for. Some people are haunted by memories after experiencing something like I did, and for a long time, I was. I became frustrated that I couldn't get over it at the rate I believed I should be. That's something else I learned. A time limit doesn't heal. It took me four years to stop thinking about it, but now, I really don't. It doesn't affect or define any part of my daily life anymore. I'm better than fine. But I don't romanticize my recovery and I don't want anyone else to. I didn't instantly become stronger because I got over something so hurtful, and I certainly didn't become a "better person" because I survived such a thing. I'm just a person who survived. And that's all I want to be. A person.
I want therapists to stop focusing on that fact, and making my entire treatment about getting over something that I just wanna be done talking about.
I don't want that to be the  thing that people know about me, a thing that decides any part of their opinion of who I am. I'm a person. And I am so many other things than someone who was raped.
So let me use this blog now to talk about the things I'd rather people knew about me--I'd rather they judged me on. Here's what I am as just another person.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Commentary: High School

Occasionally, when going through my literal plethora of old notebooks, I find little ranting gems like this. Yes, I'm very conscious of the thorough overuse of commas and just general massacre of the grammar, and also the seeming abruptness of how it ends without proper resolution or conclusion, but unfortunately, if there was more to this rant, I could not find it in the chaotic pages of the notebook, so this is all we get. Enjoy?
(It's okay if you're a little frightened, me too amigo, me too.)

"So there we were...trapped inside a room full of stereotypes and embodied cliches, wishing away our adolescence with dreams of prospective successes all fed by the naive ambition of our juvenile minds. High school. It was like being slowly boiled to death, say by agonizing day, and like the frog in that infamous--not to mention, horrendously overused--analogy, we are stuck--perpetual prisoners to our own tragic fate. But, of course, it was for our "own good," to "better prepare us" for that ever-looming future that they never could shut up about. Yes, they claimed someday we really would be grateful, as if it all is truly essential to our survival, even to our very existence as human beings. Seriously though, let me just tell you how breathlessly I wait for the day when, in the progress of my thoroughly average, middle-class existence, my life will be heroically saved by the sudden urge to stop everything, draw up a graph, and find the asymptote.
I have no real vendetta against math specifically, (except, seriously, what the hell is an asymptote?!) the same perspective can be applied to infinite scenarios within the spectrum of that great wonder they have the nerve to call 'public education.'"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Waking Mind of the Walking Contradiction

It has become increasingly apparent to me, and to those that know me well enough to be aware, that I have become a curious sort of anomaly of many, seemingly contradictory truths. I think it is pretty commonly known that I have always been an unusual person, [haven't we all?] but it appears to me that within the last few years I seem to have tripled in eccentricities. The point of all of this is not to indicate that  I am merely an oddity, as I have already indicated that identification stands well enough on its own. No, the main concept I intend to emphasize here is the aforementioned seemingly contradictory nature of it all. This phenomenon is hard enough to explain as it is so perhaps I will simply direct your attention to a few natural examples and thereby let the evidence speak for itself.  So, let us begin with a list of examples as evidence.
  1. I was the figure skater in the black Led Zeppelin T-shirt and purple leg warmers, with the       French manicure.
  2. I own thirty some odd pairs of shoes, and yet I am well known for being ever barefoot.
  3. My bedroom is rarely anything less than the messiest room on earth, and yet, my bed is always made to near perfection.
  4. I love watches and clocks, and own several  of each, yet I am seemingly never on time for anything.
  5. I am one of the most uncoordinated and clumsy people you will ever meet, and yet when placed in a pair of ice skates on half an inch blades, suddenly I  can become the near embodiment of balance.
  6. I am both an anal perfectionist and an idle slacker with relatively equal force.
  7. I tend to be a very trusting person, even too trusting sometimes, yet I have a complete inability to make eye contact.
  8. I love games of all kinds, and yet by nature I am not a very competitive person.
  9. I have very big dreams, but no real sense of ambition.
  10. I am both very critical and very tolerant when it comes to people. It's a complex, I myself continually fail to understand.

    There are countless other examples of this curious nature of mine, but my sleep-deprived mind, and general inability to concentrate on virtually any task or concept for any extended amount of time, leaves me rather inclined to simply leave it at that, and let stew in the minds of my would-be readers how self evident this conclusion may already seem from what little I have left them to go on here. In basic fact, I contradict myself, on seemingly unhealthy and unnatural levels, and can they be unnatural when as I've just proved they all naturally occur right here, within my own twisted character! Dear reader, take what you will from all of this, you have the right. I mean really, you have significant right to do whatever you very well please with any and all of this information just given the fact you are among what few poor peasants of this dear planet actual read said contributions in the first place. I leave you again, as always, seemingly in the middle of some unvoiced thought, but alas, so it is.

    Farewellings to you!

    -The Walking Contradiction