What you’ve got until it’s gone

When it comes to one’s health, they say that you have everything you need until it disappears. And it’s the first thing you notice when it’s gone. I can attest to this. I have had various health struggles throughout the years and sometimes they are just plan hard to deal with. I think I’m finally getting ahold of one issue when another one goes awry. It’s more than frustrating. For the past seven years, I’ve been going to specialists for various health problems and I am lucky that I have a fantastic team supporting me. I would probably follow my primary care doctor if she were to move across the country, that is how much I trust her. I have had to switch specialists a couple of times and managed to find someone that I click with which is better than the relationship I had with the last one.

I had an appointment today. Overall, it was a pretty great appointment but I got some results back that disappointed me. I was really hoping for normal lab work this go around but that wasn’t the case.  It means I have to go back to supplements and more diet changes to fix something that went from low to super low over the course of 6 months for no apparent reason. Bright side: it is only supplements for now and not another prescription.

So in the meantime, I keep trudging forward. Hoping for answers and hoping for “normal.”

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Five

The number five is significant in the grand scheme of things. Five is the age a child starts kindergarten. Five is the first reunion after high school or college. Five is the anniversary that you are supposed to give wood as a gift. In religion, there are the five Pillars of Islam, five books in the Torah, and the five wounds of Jesus. There are the five senses. We count by fives: five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty…

Five is the number of years I have been without you. Five years ago you made a decision that has affected my life ever since. I don’t know how you got there, what exactly happened that led you to be in that place. In the time shortly after, I talked to people, tried to find out what happened. I got some answers but most went unanswered. I found out the how and the when but I am still missing the why.

Sometimes, in my dark moments, I find myself going back to the moment when I visited your Facebook page and saw the things your friends wrote. I remember how everything in my life felt like a time warp when I read that first “R.I.P.” You know how the movies show the camera zoom in to the focus of the scene? Then all the sound goes muffled? That’s how it felt. You and your page were the subjects. There was one difference. I could hear the sound of my heartbeat pounding in my ears. Bmm-ba. Bmm-ba. Bmm-ba. I remember being acutely aware of it’s sound and how it felt inside my chest. Simultaneously knowing that in Chicago, your heart wasn’t.

Spiraling

I am spiraling. I have been for awhile but I think I finally broke. This past Sunday, I woke up and felt as though a darkness had descended. Sad. Down. Blue. However you want to say it. Depression has taken hold of me again. It has consumed me and drags me down, deeper, away from the people I love. It is feeling worthless and not good enough for anything or anyone.

I have isolated myself. I know that I’m doing it but I don’t want to. I’ve stopped reaching out to people, the friends I talk to daily. I start typing texts and then stop. My brain tells me they don’t want to hear from me and I believe it.

It is Thursday and so far this week has been filled with bad news, let downs, and the realization that I am being taken for granted on multiple fronts. I am lucky that I have friends who do check in and make plans with me. Asking if I need a “screw it all” night. Yes, yes I do.

I talked about this with my therapist yesterday who, being the angel that she is, said “Well, of course you are depressed! Look at everything that has happened to you in the past three months!” She gave me two things to work on. One of which, I am already doing. I just have to keep at it until I am successful. The second is that I must find a distraction. Start a new hobby, try something new, etc. I can do this by myself but I also need to make sure I do this with other people. I need plans that I am looking forward to—something else I am already doing thanks to needing to plan things weeks in advance. I am immensely grateful that when I am having depression issues, it has never stopped me from doing things. I can still get out of bed even if it is sometimes a challenge. Not everyone’s depression allows them to live mostly normally.

I can fake it. I can act fine. I can make people believe that I am ok. But sometimes, I’m not. Sometime’s I am drowning. I am drowning and I let go of my lifeline.

What I Wish I’d Known

April182012

This was my Facebook post four years ago today. It came up in the “On This Day” app that so conveniently reminds me what I have done every year on this day since I created a Facebook profile freshman year. Four years ago today, I remember how I was feeling. Elated. Relieved. Excited. Scared. I had finished my senior project, set up the gallery, had the opening, and was able to breathe and sleep for the first time in months. I still had a 40 page paper to write before graduation but that was merely a blip on the horizon. Honestly, a 40 page paper feels like nothing. I was so ready for graduation but scared of what the future had in store for me. The world was at my fingertips and it was mine to conquer.

There is really nothing exceptional about this post except for the fact that it is the last time that Sandman interacted with me on social media. That was the last time he reached out to me at all. As some of my followers know from previous posts, tomorrow, April 19th, marks the anniversary of when Sandman took his life into his hands, snuffing out the light that made him a beacon for his friends and family. April 19th, 2012. I didn’t find out until May 14th. Almost a month later. That fact alone is something that I will never forgive myself for.

I’m not sure what compelled me to look at the “liked” list on this post today. That is not part of my normal routine. There was not an abnormally high number of likes or comments that would have instigated my inspection but somehow, I found myself clicking on those and his name popped up. Now I’m lost in my thoughts. What was he thinking when he liked this post? How was he feeling? Did he already know then that he was going to end his life? Was this some sort of prelude or message? Did he want me to reach out? Was this him reaching out to me? Could I have saved him?

Could I have saved him?

I have asked myself that question more than anything else. Logically, I know the answer. There was nothing I could do. Emotionally, I can’t help but wonder: What if? What if I had reached out? What if I had told him how much he meant to me one more time?  What if? What if? What if?

Recently, I have been telling myself that this anniversary is going to be different. I’m going to do better. I’m going to celebrate his life and the memories I have of him. I won’t let this year pull me back into the “what ifs.” That’s what I planned but nothing goes as planned. I saw his name under that post and I felt that weight settle on my shoulders again for the 3rd year in a row. Tomorrow will not be easy. Tomorrow is going to suck beyond belief.

The little things. I wish I had know that that single like was going to be the end. Maybe I would have paid closer attention.

Answers

Recently, I have been on a search for answers. Answers to questions ranging from “Why are people so irresponsible?” to “What is going to happen if Trump is elected president?” But this post isn’t about Trump or politics although I despise him with a fiery burning passion. I am trying to find answers about me.

This past week I got one answer. I have always been an anxious person courtesy of genetics and a personality predisposed to anxiety. Consistently throughout my life, it has been bad around people and crowds. I can’t handle big concerts or dance halls but I have managed to find a few places where I am comfortable.

In December 2014, a couple of days before Christmas, the foundation that I have been working on rebuilding since 2010 crumbled. Everything continued to deteriorate for several months afterward. To be honest, I’m still not sure that that aspect of my life has righted itself completely. On top of that, I was betrayed by a close friend not once but twice in a very short time frame and I have yet to trust him again completely; I was living with a roommate who didn’t understand how to pay her bills and has left me out hundreds of dollars; and I was faced with more questions than answers about everything in my life. This new trauma set off a series of a different, scarier type of anxiety attacks that I honestly didn’t know how to handle. It got to the point where I was meeting friends at a bar this past November, saw a group of people in front of the door, and couldn’t get out of my car. I realized there was no rational reason for my fear but I couldn’t move. The things running through my head at the time: “How stupid are you?” and “Why can’t you just get out of the car and walk in?” But I couldn’t. The thought of walking through these people to get inside terrified me to my core. It took 30 minutes for me to talk myself down. This past week, I finally got some answers to why this was happening to me.

Social Phobia Anxiety Disorder.

My therapist (yes, I am actively seeking help for my problems and I am not afraid to admit that) read off a symptom checklist and I fit the description to a T. It was both scary — how could something like this have impacted me for so long without me realizing that it was this serious— and relieving. I finally have an answer. There is so much more to my anxiety than being in social situations. I’m hoping that I can find those answers. Until then, I have something to work on.

Community

I am part of a community that I don’t want to be in. We are not overt. We are hidden among you. Living normally, doing every-day things. There isn’t much that sets us apart from you and there isn’t a definitive way of finding us.

We are a community born from experience. But you shouldn’t be jealous. Count yourself lucky that you aren’t one of us. And if you are, well, I imagine that if we looked into each others’s eyes, it would be like looking into a mirror.

That’s what it always feels like to me. When I see people that are part of this community. That there is nothing physical that sets us apart from anyone else but I recognize a member when I look in their eyes. I recognize what I see in their eyes.

Our eyes are like mirrors.

Don’t be an asshole

One of my biggest pet peeves, if not my biggest peeve, is when people waste my time. Between working two jobs and some other things on the side, I don’t have much free time. When I decide that something or someone is worth enough to me to spend that time with them, it is a big deal. Not that they should think it is a big deal, that would be rather haughty of me, wouldn’t it? Rather, it is a big deal to me. Recently, I have encountered more and more people willing to waste my time. Maybe they don’t know how important it is to me but I doubt it. I have also heard more and more about other people wasting my friends’ time in the exact same manner.

I’m sure that this will be insulting to someone out there but I find perpetual tardiness to be completely, unacceptably, rude. If you find yourself constantly running late, why aren’t you figuring out why? Why aren’t you addressing those reasons and working on fixing them? If I make plans with someone to meet up at 7:30 and it will take me a half hour to get to our meeting place, I leave at 7. If it takes me longer than that, I take that into consideration for the next time and leave at 6:50. Is this a product of my generation? The people who always think “Me Me Me?” I don’t know. I honestly don’t know if it is a product exactly but I have found a higher acceptance for it among my peers. When people are constantly so late that I spend more than 15–20 minutes waiting? I get pissed. 15-20 minutes is enough time for me to get other things done before meeting up.

Would you be consistently late to your job? Chances are, no. You wouldn’t. You know that constant tardiness is a mark against you and could get you fired. Why do you think that your friends couldn’t fire you? You are showing yourself to be unreliable, undependable, and untrustworthy. Those aren’t features that I value in my friends. I want to be your friend because I want to be able to trust in you and rely that you will be there if I need you. That is how I decide who my friends are. Can I rely on you? There are very few of my current friends who I would go out of my way to keep around if they started wasting my time.

With all of this being said, I am 1000% more forgiving if I get a text message. “Hey, running late!” You’d think that would be easy enough. But some people have problems with that (more on this later). Also, there are some people who I am more inclined to forgive and overlook tardiness than others. Have a family and kids? Dude. You good. Kids make staying on time harder. They just do. I am also more forgiving if you say ahead of time “Hey, I need to get some things done before we meet up. I should be done by 5.” This lets me know “Hey, I want to meet up with you but these things are important and I need to get them done first.” Forgiven.

Want to know what is not forgivable? Making plans with me and then not showing up with no warning or text. I generally refer to this in terms of my job: A No-Call, No-Show. This is so incredibly unacceptable and a massive waste of my time. Want to cancel plans with me? Fine. Tell me. Chances are someone else also wanted to hang out in the same time and you got the slot on a first-come-first-serve basis. Therefore, if you decide that you aren’t going to follow through, please tell me so I can make alternate plans. You think I’ll be mad? Yeah, probably. But wanna know what? I’m 100x more furious if you don’t tell me you’re canceling our plans. Being a No-Call, No-Show friend is the ultimate waste of my time and is really effing hurtful. I make time in my schedule to hang out with you and you don’t have the courtesy to send a “hey, can’t make it” text message? No. Just no. You do this, you are an asshole. Period.

I have heard from multiple friends that this happens to them too and we all have the same reaction. WHY ARE YOU BEING AN ASSHOLE?!?!

Don’t be an asshole. If you are going to waste someone’s time, send a text.