1000 Little Thoughts

IMG_4837I’m going to start this out with a trigger warning…what I’m about to talk about isn’t easy for some people to hear or read. And if you’re family…I’m sorry I kept this from you, but this was  mine to keep and mine to share when I was finally ready.

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about suicide, suicide prevention,  and suicide awareness since the release of the Netflix series “13 reasons why”. I’ve heard some say it glorifies suicide and there is concern as to how “angsty” or “emo” kids and young adults would react. I’ve also heard others say it depicts the true nature of what those who have attempted and who have succeeded possibly feel and would want the world to know. I will tell you right off the bat I have not watched the series and I most likely will not. I am choosing not to watch the series for one reason and that reason is my mental health. I’ve struggled for a really long time to keep myself above water per say and I’m not about to fuck it up over a Netflix series. Am I happy that this type of conversation is beginning to happen? Hell yes…and here’s why:

What I can tell you is that suicide is not meant to be selfish or attention seeking . In fact most people who end up attempting do it usually as an act of desperation. Desperation to finally be free of the haunting words,feelings, and images they constantly see and feel.  Desperation to not feel numb anymore or to finally be able to rest. The desperation to allow the ones you feel you’re hindering to move on and live a better life. It’s blinding and manipulative to the person committing. It’s also the only way out of it all that they can see. People don’t do it to cause suffering. They usually do it to try to end suffering- both theirs and the ones around them that they feel they’ve become a burden to. I’m sure anyone else who has been in the type of situation could tell you multiple other reasons as well. I can only tell you what I know, what I felt.

I think for me it started in 8th grade. I just remember waking up feeling worthless and like I didn’t deserve to be around. I felt like I was a pain in the ass for people to deal with and that I had nothing to give to the world. I was a failure who couldn’t make anyone happy and disappointed everyone. Those feelings just got worse and worse through high school. I knew it wasn’t true. I had hard evidence saying the opposite. But even with all of the evidence I had I could never make myself believe it.

Once I hit college I spiraled. I became closed off and quiet. I didn’t really feel anything. I had given up. The below is part of a passage from an entry I wrote in November 2011- 3 months before my last suicide attempt.

“It’s hard to find a quiet place here. Not even the deepest corners of my mind fall silent anymore. It’s cold out. And in. I feel frigid. The negative seems to have consumed me. I hate it. I hate me. I hate what I am here. I hate who I am here. I feel fragile,dull,tainted- like there’s no purpose for me. I find it odd how fragile my mind is. It seems to shatter like a bottle thrown against a wall. I did that earlier…threw a bottle. I easily break and then tape myself together. I wonder how the trees stay warm. They’ve shed their coats and stand before me naked. If they’re truly alive how do they not freeze to death? If I touch one it feels cold- maybe they hide their pain too. Maybe that’s where the connection is. We both hide ourselves under what we think are layers, but in reality we’ve shed our skins to the point of being naked. Everyone suspects something. I wish I knew what they saw. But honestly my mind is full to the point of knowing nothing. Tomorrow’s just another day of soulless confusion. I can feel my body tingle, begging me to go inside. But I refuse. Just one more moment of silence- away from the nothingness. It’s so loud it drives me crazy. I wish I knew what else to say. There’s always more- but I’m tired of digging. I feel out of place, a thorn is someone’s side or maybe a needle in a haystack. But who really wants to find a needle? Who wants to find me?”

Once you hit that grey area it becomes scary and your options seem limited. 3 months later I attempted twice in one night. But I was lucky because that night someone did want to find me. I was lucky because someone forced me to spit out the pills. That same person fought to hold me down to take the knife away from me as I cried in desperation to just let me die. I was lucky because someone saw me. They saw I needed help but didn’t know how to ask.

Not everyone is lucky. Whether you choose to watch the show or not is up to you. But suicide, awareness, and suicide prevention need to be discussed. They need to be conversations. Those of us in the dark need to be heard- even if we can’t speak. Make sure to take the time to really talk to the people in your life.

I was lucky and because of that I’ve now gone 7 years with no attempts. Everyday I still wake up with the thoughts- those don’t really ever go away. But when I ask myself if I’m worthy, even if I don’t believe it that day, my answer is always yes.

We are all worthy.
You are worthy

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Cheers to Another Good-Bye and a New Hello.

Holy shit it’s the last day of December and 2016! Seriously – people weren’t joking when they said time flies as you get older. Anyways, it’s once again the time of year when everyone reflects on the past year and possibly at what they’ve learned. 2016 , for an overwhelming amount, seems to have basically been the shit stain of the decade. Let’s be honest it’s been a pretty rough year in a lot of different areas. You know the ones…politics, the disaster called the presidential election, basic human rights,drinking water, Bowie, AND Carrie Fisher…I mean seriously 2016?! 2017 if you even think about taking Betty White or Angela Lansbury we’re gonna have some issues.

To be honest ,for me, 2016 hasn’t been horrible. It’s been challenging and interesting and  definitely a year of struggles and lessons learned. For the last two years, maybe 3, I’ve done a combination post for my birthday and what I’ve learned in this 27th year of life as it begins to come to a close. So, here it is, unfiltered and a bit scatter brained.
No thanks, I don’t want to. Is a perfectly valid reason not to do something. 
I’ve always been the “yeah sure” person- whether it’s helping out by subbing or taking an extra shift, or going to all the things my friends ask me to go to, or even doing something I maybe didn’t want to do. This year I’ve gotten a lot better with the word “No”. I’ve learned to enjoy my alone time and to allow myself those downtimes. And on top of that I’ve finally figured out that I don’t need to have some extravagant excuse or reason to validate it. “No.” is a complete sentence.

Burning bridges is stupid and a really crappy way to conduct yourself professionally. 

I had a very interesting situation occur earlier in the year regarding this. In the heat of the moment I really wanted to just burn the bridge and say everything that I truly thought. But at the same time I knew I was coming from a place of anger and distrust and that burning a bridge may light up the way and cause a stir or reality check but it also burns the bridge. So, I kept my mouth shut, let myself cool down, and took it all with a neutral demeanor. I mean once a bridge is burnt it’s pretty hard to build it back up again; so why not use the bridge for its actual intended purpose? Leave places with your head held high. It’ll be better for you in the long run.

But it’s 100% okay to leave a situation if it’s not right.

I made the mistake of staying in the aforementioned situation longer than I should have because I felt obligated to. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or inconvenience them, but by doing this I hurt myself. I turned down some offers that could have really opened doors for me and started me on my path even sooner. Don’t stay just to keep from rocking the boat. If something isn’t right, change it or leave. Just leave with dignity.

 It’s totally possible to do a 180 and change everything about your life if you really want to. 

If you don’t want to be something, somewhere, or doing whatever you’re doing, you absolutely have the power to change your life. Make your life one that you’re proud of. It won’t be easy and the challenges will test you and you may even change the end goal several times. But it’s totally worth it to find and become the best version of you.

Trusting your gut will almost never steer you in the wrong direction.

 99.9% of the time, your gut knows what’s up. So trust it. And if your heart, head, and gut actually agree on something you bet for damn sure you better listen because it’s probably going to be life changing.

Nobody’s life is as good as their Instagram.

Everyone retakes their selfie, uses that one “perfect” filter, and posts pictures only when their brunch looks flawless. Essentially this is just the modern day “grass is always greener”. But let’s be real their life isn’t as amazingly pristine as you think it is while you’re mindlessly swiping on your phone. We have this crazy desire and need to constantly show ourselves off as flawless and it’s just not true. There is only one definition of the word perfect that I like and it’s the adjective. It defines perfect as “complete”. As a person we are whole and complete, we have these little quirks that are unique to us and amazing imperfections that help to mold us and give us character to make us complete. But we get to this version of perfect by having not just good days, but bad days too.

Nothing is permanent. Even the hardest, scariest things pass.

I was at my physical a few weeks ago and for the first time in ages in the depression column I was able to mark down a 0 for the symptoms. As someone who has suffered from both suicidal and severe recurring depression it’s rare that I don’t have at least a few symptoms or feelings that fall under the depression category. But for the first time since I can remember I honestly feel ok with life and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve learned to understand that nothing is permanent (not even my tattoos are totally permanent as ink fades). I’ve made it through some dark storms and found the pretty field of sunflowers and just as quickly as I find the field another storm can start and end. It’s all a cycle. And when we can learn to appreciate it and not be fully petrified or attached to one part of it we can sail through a little easier.

Laugh and live in the moment more often than not.

Life is not meant to be taking so incredibly serious. Yes- there are serious issues and bad things happen and we should be concerned. But we have to remember to enjoy life too. Live in the moment and stop dreading the future or regretting the past. And we have to remember to laugh because sometimes shit’s so ridiculous that that’s all we can do. At the end we all end up in the same way- so take time to enjoy the ride. Be silly, be sweet, be sassy. Be you.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

I’ve heard the statement a million and one times and I thought I knew what it meant. Turns out I so didn’t. Changing careers and focuses on my life created a stack of new obstacles and barriers to get through. One of them was how to continue to grow as a new yoga teacher. Trainings, workshops, and the like aren’t exactly free and most are insanely pricey. Sometimes you luck out and find someone who gets the reality of how expensive it all is and offers a discount and any help possible to get you where you want to be. But you have to do the work to get there. Occasionally that means living off of Cheerios and water for almost a month so you can put all the grocery money aside to pay for a mentorship program. Sometimes it means taking a third job, working 7 days a week, and going from one job to the next, and taking any last minute paying gig to make that extra cash to afford private sessions, workshops, and the next program that screams out to you. It means foregoing that urge to splurge on a new pair of boots or that chic new dress at Express or deciding not to go to the city for a pop up concert or going out for drinks. You start to prioritize and find what is really important to you and you make it happen…somehow.

Life was never meant to be fair- it was meant to teach you, challenge you, and shape you.

Shitty things happen to people who don’t deserve shitty things happening to them. But these people are some of the most courageous and open minded individuals you will probably ever meet. For instance, I have an amazing friend who recently had her first baby. He’s basically the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. My jellybean wasn’t born with all of his genes though and can’t breathe on his own. For the past 3 months this beautiful little family has lived in the hospital. Nothing they did caused this to happen. My friends and my jellybean are some of the strongest fighters I know. They prove to me every day that no situation is too dark or impossible and even though they may not feel like it this entire situation has made them stronger and so tight knit as a family. The coin here goes both ways though- sometimes not so good people get exactly what they want. They just know how to play their cards right (like the president-elect). It’s a lesson in life- a super sucktastic one but one none the less. However- you can’t let one or the other overwhelm you or fully define a person. Take it all with a grain of salt because each person has their own story you can learn from.

Love comes in many different varieties.

Some love comes through playing pranks, having snowball fights, and bickering like an old married couple. Other times it’s getting a rental car, driving two hours in the opposite direction than you’re supposed to be going, letting your friend cry into your hair and accidentally eating some of it while you meet your nephew for the first and possibly last time all while picking up conversation like it’s been 2 days since the last time you saw each other instead of 4 years. And sometimes it’s through a handhold or hug that goes a little longer than the norm. But it’s all love.

When the universe wants to get a message to you it will find a way…

and when the first 5 times don’t sink in it will literally slap you in the face with a “do it ya dummy” scenario like running into a certain person in a super random airport when you’ve been spending the past few weeks weighing a certain decision you have to make.

 

Be selfish.
 Yup- I said it. The big S word. Do it. You’ll thank me later. You have to put you first because if you’re not ok how the hell do you think you’re gonna help anyone else? Being selfish in certain parts of your life is ultimately the most selfless thing you can do.
Travel doesn’t always mean an exotic location. 
Yes- it’s awesome when you get to travel to a foreign country but you can also learn and grow and gain experience just from traveling in the country you live in. This was the first year since 2012 that I wasn’t able to travel outside of the country. However, I got to travel to several states I had never been to like Massachusetts and see Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. I was also able to travel to Illinois- a place I haven’t been since I was 9 months old! I met people who have had a huge impact on my life during those trips and if I hadn’t taken them who knows what direction I would be going in.
Being comfortable is safe; but it can get you stuck.
When you get too comfortable you stop trying, stop pushing, stop evolving. We have to have a level of “discomfort” in life in order to want to continue to learn and grow and succeed.
Birthdays are important!
Ya hear me Liz?! It’s important! I’ve always loved having a birthday and celebrating it and this past year has just made me appreciate them more. Not everyone you know will celebrate their 28th birthday or 39th birthday or 70th or even 1st birthday. It’s heart breaking and at the same time it’s a comfort to know we don’t live forever. But appreciate every birthday you have even if you don’t think it’s a big deal because somewhere in the world there is someone praying to get to that age you’re turning and someone else who will never see it. Even if it’s not one of the “big” ones acknowledge that you lived for another year and appreciate it.
I really have the best friends a girl could ask for.
I mean I already knew this but this year just continued to solidify this for me. 2016 was filled with transitions and my best friends have stuck by my side the whole way. They’ve lifted me up and encouraged me; they’ve punched me in the gut with hard facts and told me to shake it off, take a shot of whiskey and put my big girl pants on. They never let me take the easy way out and are always there to help pick up the pieces if I fall and break a little.
Learn to be ok with who you are, who you were, and who you are aiming to be.
Pretty sure this one’s a lifer. But we have to learn to like ourselves and be ok with us. No one was given the best hand in this card game. But when you can start to appreciate yourself and where you currently are you can learn how to expand on your positive attributes and not to let something you feel isn’t great about you become an obstacle you can’t pass. I was an extremely extroverted, creative, nerdy, and hyper kid. And somewhere along the line life happened, I went through things, I grew up, and I stopped liking that about myself. I built this shell around me to protect what was on the inside and it worked for a little while- until I stopped growing and just felt numb all of the time. It wasn’t really until these past couple of years that I started to bull doze the walls down again and let these parts of me see the light of day. I’m still fairly quiet and shy at first as I’ve learned to observe and understand my surroundings. But it’s nice to finally start to feel ok with myself.
Cruise Control is your best friend.
You think I’m joking- but seriously you try driving close to 9 hours in one weekend without it. My foot and my ass both agree that it’s probably the best invention ever. Plus the looks I get when people see how I sit using cruise control keep me entertained on the drive.
Your soul mate may not exactly be the person you marry.
Fact: In many cultures mate means friend. Our soul can refer to different parts of us; mind, emotion, and intellect. So; with all of that it could be said that our soul mate is someone who connects strongly in one or more of those areas. For me, I’m pretty sure my souls mate is my bestest best friend. Don’t get me wrong- I love her but totally not marrying her. Our minds just happen to be on the same wave length, we both connect strongly to emotion in different ways which benefit and strengthen the other, and we keep each other on our toes creatively and mentally. She “gets” me in ways that others don’t. It’s like one of those “you wouldn’t have to say anything but they’d know exactly what you were thinking things.”
 
Listening to our heart, even if it looks ridiculous from a logical perspective, will never fail us.

I’m still really discovering who I am and learning to listen for myself. As we grow up we have a million voices of influence jiggling around. But, sooner or later we have to find our own voice and start to make decisions. Some people will listen to just their hearts, others just their heads, some their guts, and some all of the above. But we have to remember to always take into account what our heart tells us. That’s where our true passions are. And occasionally what our heart says may seem a little crazy. So far, all my best decisions in life haven’t made sense. From the outside perspective, I’ve probably looked like a mad person with my choices. But there was this inner voice saying, “Even if you don’t know how exactly it’s going to turn out, all is going to be okay.”

We all have this inner voice; we just need to remove the distractions that hinder us from hearing it, and most importantly, find the courage to listen to it and act on it.

Be like a dog

Be loyal and faithful. Forgive and Forget. Live life to the fullest. Take naps. And always be excited for what’s coming next.

Enjoy your final day in 2016 and I’ll see ya’ll in 2017!

~A

Practice Makes Progress

At my yoga class on Monday our instructor stated that she never tells her son that practice makes perfect because she doesnt know what perfect is. Instead she tells him practice makes progress. This really stuck out to me because ever since I was little I’ve only ever heard practice makes perfect. I think that if I had had someone in my life telling me that no one knows what perfect is and that you can only make progress I wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking I had to be perfect.

I really love the idea of replacing perfection with progress because that’s really all we can do in life is move forward and continue to improve and grow. We will never be done learning or growing or improving ourselves. For me, expecially, this new version of that saying restores my hope. I know I won’t remember it all of the time, but if I can manage to get myself into the habit of saying practice makes progress maybe I won’t feel that daily pressure of needing to be that perfect person anymore.

So, remember, practice makes progress. We are all improving,learning, and growing every day.