Perspective

This time of year is always pretty depressing for me. I currently don’t have a relationship with my Father or my Mother. My seasonal depression starts to kick in and I start stressing about those 10-15 lbs that I would like to lose by Spring. I start questioning my job and whether or not I’m really happy or content.

2 days ago I got into my first car accident. I got caught up at work and left an hour and a half later than I should have. I was side swiped at 60 mph on the thruway by a car full of men who didn’t speak English. After they hit me they tried to flee but traffic was backed up and when they realized there was nowhere that they could go they finally pulled over.

We were blocking the left lane of a 3 way highway during a high traffic time. I immediately went into panic mode and began to have a horrible anxiety attack. 3 of the men got out of the car and started circling my vehicle. The other tried to communicate with me but he knew no English and I didn’t know any Chinese. Once we stopped I called the police. The Officer was so good with me considering I was hyperventilating and convulsing uncontrollably. My glove box popped open when I was hit, it was dark and I couldn’t find my registration or insurance card. When I finally did find the documents I was shaking so bad I dropped them several times. The Officer was so patient and kind to me. After talking with us both (or attempting to talk with them) he indicated that it was clear by the damage that the accident was the other driver’s fault. He wrote them a ticket, gave me the accident report and we all were able to drive away at that point.

Perspective. This accident could have been A LOT worse. I may not have parents that I can call when things in my life go array, but I have a loving supportive husband that I got to come home to who comforted me as I continued to convulse for 3 more hours after the accident. Who called the insurance company and is working with them to get my car fixed. Who is there for me through thick and thin.

Do I still need to lose those 10-15 lbs? Yes. Do I love my job? No, but it pays my bills and allows my husband and I to go on vacations. Am I truly happy? Well, yes. Although I struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m alive today and my life could be so much worse.

Sometimes when we are feeling low we get a wake up call and change our perspective. Sometimes when we have a mental illness we lose sight of that perspective quicker than others. But we continue to fight the good fight and look for the positive. We continue to keep our heads up. Life is a roller coaster and I’m along for the ride.

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History repeats itself.

I have a lot of opinions. I don’t typically get political, but I feel like I have to just get this off of my chest after the President’s comments at an Alabama rally this week. President Trump called on NFL team owners to fire those “SOB” players that kneel during the national anthem at football games. Here’s my take:

I am a 30 year old American white woman. I was raised by parents who are racist in a predominantly white area. I didn’t have much interaction with people of other ethnicities and as such I was ignorant and feared African Americans due to the stories I was told by my parents growing up. I have never been racist. I always treated people how they treated me, regardless of what they looked like. 

When I was 18 years old, my parents moved from Western NY to about an hour north of Atlanta, GA. I thought people in WNY were racist (ha). In this little town of Jasper, GA I experienced hate for the first time, as did my parents. We were now labeled “Yankees” by southerners who were still stuck in the civil war era. My parents owned a diner which I worked at. During my tenure there, I heard my share of insults about being a Yankee. Being new to the area and younger, I struggled to fit in and make friends. I did notice a common theme with the people who labeled me a yankee and treated me differently: they were all uneducated (I don’t believe any of them had attended high school) and they never left the small town they grew up in and went out into the world. These same people were also racist; however, most of them had never spoken to an African American in their lives. It was also the first time that I had heard about the KKK outside of history class in high school. The KKK was active in North GA and knowing that completely baffled me. Needless to say, I lasted in GA for 4 months. I was 19 years old when I moved out of my parents house and went to live in Philadelphia with my boyfriend (now husband) whom I had a long distance relationship with since I left WNY.

When I moved to Philly, I enrolled in beauty school before learning the area and really settling in. And I’m so glad that I did. 

I was the Minority in beauty school. Literally, I was 1 of 2 white girls in a beauty school with almost 100 African American women. My first day of beauty school I was petrified. My entire life I was told that African Americans were criminals, had no morals, were poverty stricken and even that they hated white people. I kept to myself thinking maybe I won’t get beat up that way. It took 10 minutes for someone to approach me. Her name was Alliah. She was so nice and made me feel so welcome. When we had our first lunch break she invited me out with some of the girls. I was the only white girl invited. Reluctantly, I said yes. And I’m so glad that I did. Not one of those girls looked at or treated me like I was not like them. After time, we all became great friends and knowing them shattered any stereotypes I grew up believeing about African Americans. Alliah invited me to her house for dinner. She didn’t live in the best area in Philly and I had no idea what her family was like. I only knew that she had a huge family. Would they treat me like she did? Do they hate white people? I started questioning it. When I got there, I was greeted with a big hug from her Mother. They sat me at the head of the table and I experienced some of the best homemade food I’d ever had. Her entire family never once treated me like I was privelged or didn’t look like them, but I began to feel it. Her brother had a good job and education, but I knew he was paid less than a white man in the same position. I knew that when they left the house and were not around other African Americans they were probably not treated the same as their white counterparts. I knew that police in their town followed them constantly and looked for any reason they could find to pull them over. I also realized that I have never experienced any of their struggles (aside from gender pay equality, which is a topic for another day), which meant that I was privileged. Spending a year of my life with those girls and some of their families changed my life and my views. I will forever be grateful for the experience that I had while I lived in Philadelphia years ago. 

I am now back living in WNY. I am very patriotic. I love my country. I treat everyone equally. I have nothing but respect for our flag and the service members who risked and gave their lives for our freedom. I also understand why Colin Kaeprnick took a knee during the anthem during an NFL game. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out:

Because we live in a democracy that abides by the constitution of the USA, we have the freedom of speech. African Americans spent decades fighting for freedom. They got it. Once they became free, they spent decades fighting for equality. They have yet to get that. Years of peaceful protests have got them nowhere. An NFL player takes a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to racial injustice and now people are talking about it. NFL fans, team owners, players, non-NFL fans, and even the president of the United States. I think we can all agree that there may be better ways to highlight the issue of racial injustice than kneeling during the anthem. However, that has all been done before and yet nothing has changed. 

So what is the answer? I say we do this. White people of America need to say the following to the protesters: “We hear you. We have empathy for you. Things need to change.”. Don’t like them protesting during the national anthem? LISTEN and have conversations to make change so that they no longer feel the need to do that to get your attention; don’t feel like they need to do that to be heard. It’s easy for white people to say there isn’t an issue because we are not impacted, but it doesn’t matter what we think. We are not in their shoes and never will be so we need to look within ourselves and say wow it would suck to be treated differently because I was white and take a stand to make a change. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a white woman who is relentlessly patriotic. I love the USA and I realize how lucky we are to live in a country where we are free. I also realize that people are not treated equally in this country. I also realize that the current President has done nothing to condemn it. “Firing the son of a bitches” that protest is not the answer. Listening to their concerns and having empathy for people who are not like you is. If you can’t find it in you to do so, I encourage you to get out into the world and get cultured. 

All you need is love. ❤️

30

Welp, it happened. I turned 30. 

I feel like I did on the last day that I was 29. Nothing has changed. Besides my outlook on life, which changes every year.

The older I get the less I care about what others think of me. The less I feel bad about ridding toxic people from my life. The more I want to see the world. The more comfortable I get in my skin. The less I hesitate to speak my truth. The more I stand up for what I believe in. 

One thing that I know for sure is that life is short. These past 30 years went by really quick. We need to make them count. ❤️

“SAD”

I’m really depressed. I feel numb. Fatigued. On the verge of tears. Exhausted. I don’t know what to say and don’t want to talk about it. Emotionless. 

I spent all night last night having anxiety attacks staring at the clock. Finally around 5am I got out of bed and worked out for an hour, hoping to release some of the adrenaline. It didn’t help. I was just sore and anxious after.

My sister got baptized this morning. I’m not a religious person so going to church is uncomfortable for me, seeing as how I don’t know any of the songs, prayers, etc. I’m also am introvert so the small talk is torture. I know how much it meant to my sister that I be there so I went with my husband. As if that situation didn’t cause me enough anxiety, my Dad also went. My Dad and I do not have a good relationship and I had no idea how he would act towards my husband and I. I figured that he would be cordial since we were in a church celebrating my sister. Wrong. 

He acted as though we were invisible, blatently ignoring us. While he wouldn’t make eye contact with me, he disregarded my husband very rudely. Suddenly I became overrun with emotion and ran out of the church hoping no one would see me cry. After a few minutes I pulled myself back together and went inside. We didn’t sit with the rest of the family. We also didn’t attend the cookout afterwards since my Dad was going to be there and I didn’t want to risk conflict and ruin my sisters day.

I don’t even know why my Dad is mad at me anymore. Why he doesn’t want me in his life. This is the first time he’s rejected me in public. Normally he cares about perception – God forbid people know how messed up our relationship is. God forbid he is seen as the bad guy. But not this time. Usually he pretends to not be an asshole in front of people so that I look like the ass. Not this time. I don’t know why I got so emotional, I’m used to this. Just not in public. This felt like he finally threw in the towel with me. Chose to write me off permanently and wanted to make it known. 

From the time I was 14 I’ve been going through this with him. People say to me “he’s an asshole don’t let him get to you”, “he doesn’t deserve to have you in his life”, “don’t let him get you down”. I wish it was that easy, but I do care. He’s my Father. He has messed up a lot, but he’s my parent. I’m supposed to be able to call him when I have a bad day. I’m supposed to know that he will have my back when I fall. Care about my life. Be there for me when I need him. Love me unconditionally. But he doesn’t. I haven’t had a Father since I was 14 years old and it looks like I’ll never have one. That’s a hard pill to swallow. 

It’s also Sunday. The day where anxiety and depression take over every single week. I dread going to work on Mondays. I need a new job. 😔

Current events also make me depressed and anxious. North Korean threats to the USA and white supremacy rallies. I hope people realize that these white supremacy groups do not represent all white people. I’m so disappointed in humanity lately. 

I’m going to bed. 😞

Split families got me like…

Warning: This is going to be a complete vent session. 

I come from a split family. My parents got divorced when I was 5 years old. I grew up with parents that had so much resentment for eachother that co-parenting was out of the question. My childhood was a legit hot mess. 

My Dad did some “dating” (or hooking up, whatever term you’re into) and after several women found my step mom. They’ve been together probably 20 years or so. My Mom ended ended up marrying the first guy she dated post divorce, and they’ve been together for 25 years. 

My Step Dad had no children of his own. My Step Mom had 2 from a previous marriage. I spent my childhood living about half with my Dad and half with my Mom. I became close to my step siblings. When I was 14 I decided I wanted to live with my Mom permanently and that’s when my relationship with my Dad crumbled. Unfortunately that meant distance from my Step Mom and siblings as well.

Fast forward about 10 years and my Dad and I attempt a relationship again. Over those 10 years we spoke sporadically, usually when my Dad drank a few too many cocktails and grew what I like to call “beer balls” (yes I know his booze of choice isn’t beer, but Bacardi and you get the point). Needless to say those sporadic conversations didn’t end well (they were the reason I left to begin with). 

My Dad and I eventually talked, I told him how I felt about everything I had been through as a child and how much pain I still carried with me. He told me how he felt and we decided to attempt to put that all behind us and start over despite the fact that we didn’t agree on anything. I gave this relationship an honest effort. Made sure I reached out from time to time, drove an hour to see him (he wouldn’t come to my house) and played nice even though almost everything that comes out of his mouth I don’t agree with. We are totally different people.

Fast forward to a few years ago when my husband and I were having marital issues and he threw some house renovations that he did for us in my face (we paid him, FYI). Although I was hurt and angry, I decided to make another attempt at a relationship with him. We pretty much repeated what I indicated in the last paragraph. I drove to see him on holidays and for cookouts. Actually, it was more to see my siblings. I really enjoy spending time with them and missed seeing them when my Dad and I were on the outs. 

Time goes by and it’s time for the 2016 election. Dad and I have completely different political views. We exchanged a few Facebook messages about what was going on. He seemed to love talking to me about politics – I couldn’t figure out if it was the debate he enjoyed or just the fact that we always had awkward conversation until then when we spoke like 2 friends talking about politics. Needless to say, when Trump won the election I was devastated. For multiple reasons that I won’t get into now. Suddenly those disrespectful Hillary memes weren’t so funny anymore. We began talking less and less and finally he blocked me on Facebook. I unfriended him – no need for him to see what’s going on in my life if he doesn’t even want a relationship with me. And now we haven’t spoke in months.

A few days ago my sister told me that she is getting baptized in 2 weeks. She recently went on a spiritual journey if you will and although I found it odd I always support her as long as what she’s doing isn’t harming her in any way. My Dad on the other hand has not been very supportive of her. To my surprise, she told him about the baptism and he said he is going to go with my step mom. Great. 

I’m happy that he is going to support my sister. He also knows that I always support her and I will be there. I wonder if he is dreading seeing me and much as I am dreading seeing him? I wonder if he feels the elephant in the room like I do. I wonder if he thinks this is a good opportunity to talk to me (it’s not). I wonder if he likes seeing me full of angst and uncomfortable. I know him being there will mean a lot to my sister and I guess that’s all that matters.

Since I haven’t seen my siblings in months, we thought it would be nice to get everyone together for a cook out. My sister and I talked about it and decided it would be “kids only”. Well today I’m told it’s going to be at my step brothers house right after my sisters baptism. Where my Dad will be. Great. I want to spend time with my siblings so bad but the anxiety that comes along with dealing with my Dad is too great of a burden to bare right now. I know my Dad will want to take my sibs out to eat after my sisters baptism and I know my step brother will invite him back to their house because he will feel guilty. 

This all may sound really petty, but I just don’t have the energy anymore. I’ve tried to have a relationship with my Dad. I’ve put myself in so many uncomfortable positions to spend time with my family. I’ve cried so many tears thinking about the past. There is literally no more gas in my tank when it comes to dealing with this.

I would love to see my siblings but I can’t do it at the expense of my mental health anymore. Call me selfish but this is not ok with me. I am not ok. 

I step out of my comfort zone all the time to live life like a somewhat normal person despite the fact I struggle with GAD. Having GAD is something that I can’t change. I’ve always had it. But I can control my environment and it’s time that I control the things that I CAN control. 

That said, no, I do not want to come to your cookout if my Dad will be there. Yes, I miss my siblings. Yes, I wish I had a relationship with my Dad so it wasn’t awkward for all of us but this is just the way it is. I’ve tried. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my adult life trying. I’ve come to terms with what is. 

I will go to my sister’s baptism. I will be polite and be the bigger person when I see my Dad for the first time in a year. I will not put myself in an uncomfortable position with him any longer than I have to.  Been there, done that. 

🎈

Siiiggghhhh….

“Wash your hands”, “did you touch that?”, “here use this hand sanitizer”. What is life like when you’re married and you have generalized anxiety disorder and OCD? Horrible.

My husband gets frustrated. I get it, I do too. I would too if I was living with someone paranoid; directing me to wash my hands after touching certain door handles (although they’ve already been sanitized), touching my wallet or my phone (also already sanitized). 

I was a child that grew up outside playing in the mud. Showering was done but not because I necessarily wanted to. Touching everything. Eating everything. Not thinking about germs. I’ve always struggled with generalized anxiety disorder but not OCD. Until about 4 years ago. Every time I left the house and came back or touched the door handles going into the house I’d have to wash my hands. I’d always wash my hands before cooking which was normal for me but back then I could do it and then touch the tv remote, my phone etc. As time progressed I started over analyzing the things I touched after I washed my hands and determining that those needed to be sanitized. Now I find myself sanitizing my car at the end of every week after getting gas. Door handles in the house that are used when we go in and out. Faucets. Phones. Coffee cups that come in from the outside. Remote controls. The garage door opener/closer. Even the recliner handles.

How did it get to this point? I used to never even think about this stuff. What is wrong with me? I have a theory. 

I think sanitizing is an outlet for my anxiety. What I mean by that is I used to get debilitating panic attacks for years. I still get them now and then but as my OCD routines have gotten worse my panic attacks have gotten better. The generalized anxiety is always there but the full blown take me to the ER panic attacks have subsided. Is this a possible? I have no idea – but the coincidence is odd. 

The OCD makes it challenging to live. Leaving the house is a chore knowing that I have to come home and do my routine every time I do. Spending the night at other places besides my home (hotel rooms, relative’s houses, etc.) is horrifying. Airplanes make me want to gag. I love traveling, but this makes it so much harder. I stock up on hand sanitizer and use it constantly while flying. I’m probably a few flights away from bringing wipes and sanitizing the area that we sit in (I already bring them for hotel rooms we stay in).

My husband has become very understanding and supportive of me having GAD over the years; mostly thanks to therapy. But he has a hard time with the OCD. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not sure I could be married to someone like this if I was on the other side. “Just stop doing it – what’s so hard about that?!” Dude – you have no idea. Funny thing is he acts like I like living this way. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind telling me to do things that I cannot control. Telling me we’re going to get violently ill if I don’t sanitize. Giving me horrible anxiety until I go through my routines. Not the life I want to live either. 

So where do we go from here? The OCD gets progressively worse as time goes on. Would I trade it for the panic attacks I used to get? If I don’t sanitize it will give me panic attacks. What’s worse? 

If you don’t suffer with any of these mental illnesses I can only imagine what you’re thinking: this chick is crazy. But hear me out. I have a college degree. A full time job that pays well. I own a home. I have pets. A husband. I pay taxes. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute to society in some way. If you look at me on the outside you may never know how bad I’m struggling inside. Most people that find out I struggle with this look at me wide eyed; saying they could never tell. I walk amongst everyone else with a smile although inside I feel like I’m being gutted. I’ve learned to live with this and it hasn’t been easy. You never know what someone is going through. 

As for my husband, I feel so much guilt. We’ve been married 5 years; together 12. My mental illness has progressed steadily over those 12 years, mostly since we’ve been married. Is it fair for us to be together? For him to have to put up with my antics. This isn’t what he signed up for – or is it? If it were him how would I react? There are so many things going through my mind right now. He’s started to give me a hard time about it and is borderline becoming unsupportive. “In 10 years you won’t be able to work or leave the house at this rate”. Maybe he’s right. My heart breaks every time I’m forced to think about the reality of the situation. This sucks. Anyone else going through this and if so, how do you cope?

This roller coaster we call life.

Human emotions are something else. When an emotion strikes me, it strikes me hard. People around me may not be able to notice, but inside I’m feeling all the feels. Happiness, sadness, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, all of it. There’s one emotion in particular that is quite frightening.

Love. There are a lot of feelings associated with love. Trust, vulnerability, infatuation, admiration, lust, etc. Love is scary. Truly loving someone is giving them the power to tear you apart but trusting that they won’t. Trusting that they will always do right by you. Trusting that they put you first. Trusting that if something is wrong they will communicate with you. 

Like with any other matter, you learn a lot about love, trust and communication as you go through life. People will leave scars on your heart. Bruises on your self esteem and insecurities. Pain on the soul. Despite all of the emotions and unknowns that come with loving someone we do it anyway. We go through the pain, the scarring, the bruises despite knowing that eventually, intentional or not, we are bound to get hurt.

I’m not just referencing love with a significant other. You can go through all of these emotions with a parent, friend or other family member too. People that are put in your life that you love. So why do we put ourselves through it and risk the pain?

Because no one is perfect, including you. You may have caused that same pain that you feel from loving someone. You may have made a stupid decision or unintentionally hurt someone you love without realizing the pain that you would inflict on them. Love is a risk that we all take. Being in love is a great feeling. The highs are high and the lows are low. We do it for the highs.

Ok I’m done with my philosophical-ness. Life is crazy and I’ve accepted that. It’s ok to feel. That is your right and no one can take that from you. Trust your intuition. 

I’m sitting in the parking lot about to go into the salon to get my hair done having an anxiety attack. Damn this anxiety and all of the mental and physical ailments that come with it. Just this once, I want to walk in there and not feel like I’m on the verge of death. Not look at the clock sweating. Not thinking about what the absolute worst scenario would be and how I would get out of it. Just go in there like a normal woman and come out feeling fabulous because my hair looks fly. But no. I’ll come out with fly hair but my shirt will be soaked in sweat. My stomach will hurt. Extreme exhaustion will wash over me and I’ll be emotionally and physically drained for the rest of the day until I get the next surge of adrenaline before my next attack. Joy.

Happy 4th of July people! Remember, despite what some people may tell you, America has always been great. If you think otherwise I encourage you to spend some time in other areas of the world, such as the Middle East or certain areas in South America. 🙂