EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

Reunion: A sense of something past

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on April 29, 2014 at 3:14 am

This past weekend was my 10 year reunion for Agnes Scott College. I was very excited, and it was a great weekend. A great many of the women with whom I attended school came, and it was something not quite nostalgic. There was a sense of something new: the chance to form adult friendships with women who are smart, accomplished, articulate. The chance to form mature friendships that I could not have formed as a young 20 something.

But, then, there was also a sense of something past for me. I did have good times in college, but (overall) it was not a happy time in my life. I have written before of how I dealt (back then) with deep depression that made me feel disconnected from other people. Strangely, though, I was brought into very close contact with people without whom I would have been unable to graduate on time and move beyond my stint in the behavior disorder ward. The administration of Agnes Scott and many of my friends made around me a protective circle of love, prayer, compassion, and faith. I’m forever grateful.

But, momentarily, I was flooded with questions like: why didn’t I…? Why couldn’t I…..? Shouldn’t I have….?

Is there a way to step, for a moment, back into that time and pick up the things that I missed? Or, can I at least figure out why I didn’t do this or that? I concluded, that for me, there is not a way to step back into that time. The things that I missed, the connections that I did not make cannot be redone or remade to be as if it had been ten years ago. For me, the best thing was to be grateful for the past, to be grateful for those who loved me in the past, to be grateful that I have a chance to connect with the women as they are now rather than lament that I missed the chance to connect with who they were.

This past weekend was a practice in living the now. And, I realize that I need to allow myself a healthy amount of grief over the very young and scared woman who was me. Until now, I mostly ignored her and the past. But, there is no need for shame, embarassment, and denial. After all, she eventually became me. But, grieving over her is not at all the same thing as resurrecting her. I cannot make her time happier, but I can work to make my time now happier. I cannot reach back across 10 years and make her experience peace; but, I can be at peace with who I am now.

And, oddly what so worried and saddened me 10 years ago was the thought that I would never feel happy or at peace. Some things do fall away into the past. Moving beyond those crippling thoughts and being the woman I am now among other women of the now made me happy–perhaps not exactly nostalgic–and glad to be with them.

Advertisements

Distance and Engagement

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Law School Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 at 2:42 am

On April 2, 2014, my boyfriend went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes. He and I were by ourselves at this moment, and we went to celebrate by ourselves. In the coming days, we were quiet and savored the newness of the thing largely alone. Despite what movies and novels would have you believe, I didn’t have friends who I immediately called to gush over the news. Many of the women who I might have called for that reason have distanced themselves from me and I from them–perhaps due partially to this man.

But, it’s not a new distance among us. The drift had begun before he and I took real notice of each other and it quickened as soon as two weeks after he and I started dating in the summer of 2011. We met in law school, probably very early during my first fall semester since we both rode MARTA then. We were each involved in our own lives and really didn’t overlap each other. I was certainly swallowed up in the emotional and intellectual tides of first-year law school. At the end of the Spring semester, though, I called him to apologize for not coming to his graduation party. From there, we talked and saw each other regularly.

After about two weeks, we had our first real date and I met two of his friends and he and I went to watch movies at his friends’ home. It was all so deliciously normal that I began to feel guilty…..as if I was dragging this man into all of my friend-losing, engagement-breaking, prozac-taking drama. The criticisms of others had long before become the rain that watered my soul. Also, I have very little sophistication when I comes to relationships. Later that evening when he and I were alone I started to cry and all of THAT came tumbling out in (what I can safely assume was) a rather jumbled tale.

It was a little embarrassing at the time, so I can’t truly say that I remember it clearly as the significance did not dawn on me until later. What I remember most is how gentle and kind his eyes looked once he realized that I was serious and in some distress. There wasn’t really any pity and absolutely no shock in his voice or face. In those moments, he was quiet and listened. He said to me then what he continues to say to me now: that we all have our scars, weaknesses, and troubles. That mine were not worse than those of anyone else.

In the coming days, I watched for a sign that he thought I was different, crazy, soiled. But, that sign never came and it has not come. I did not recognize that I was in love and even if I had, I would have found it hard to explain it to my women friends. What I did know was that I felt comfortable, peaceful, at ease, and unsuspicious with this man–and those were things I experienced rarely then. Even though I communicate(d) in short, pointed, expressive, honest bursts punctuated with silence and he is more comfortable with conversation and words, he made (and makes) me feel an equal. I did not have the words to explain that to them–and did not (for whatever reason) search for the words to explain it.

I was, honestly, a little selfish in absolutely basking and camping in these experiences and not being particularly open with my friends about how I felt. The feeling of acceptance was such a God-send and I had no desire for anyone to remind me of the doubts I was slowly putting to death at the time. Maybe I was wrong to hoard that positivity. But, it was beautiful. And, it was mine. And, I had a chance to forge a healthy relationship with a balanced and open-minded person.

I took that chance, and I have not regretted it.

The hardest part of hurt

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 2:06 am

When I’m hurt, I find myself caught in the moment and it seems that the breathless emotional pain will never subside completely. I believe that I will always bear the weight of that feeling. This seems to be worst part of being emotionally wounded.

But, right now, I am realizing that the hardest part of being hurt is to resist the urge to be bitter. Up until this moment, I had no working definition for bitter until I was faced with the ugliness of how I feel. Bitterness is being so fond of the hurt that I want to inflict that same pain on others. Instead of healing and getting out of the pit, bitterness wants to drag others into the pit with me.

I’m having to beat back the desire to be bitter so much so that I cannot mention the topic of my hurt because I know the itch, the urge would begin to spill over. My words would be a heat-seeking missile bent on destroying the energy, the hope, the positivity of others. I would completely reverse the Golden Rule; I would do unto others as others have previously done unto me.

I am placing all my chips on–putting all my eggs in the basket of–laying it all on–hope. I am thinking of all the things written of hope (both the corny and the true). Hope springs eternal. Anyone who is among the living has hope. I have one (probably slightly selfish) hope: that by refusing to let bitterness wash over me, I can change the tide just a little and that my life won’t drown in anger and unforgiveness. Maybe I can do unto others as I would have those others do unto me.

Sifting through Suicidal Thoughts

In and other uncomfortable topics, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

First, I have to say that suicidal ideation is not a laughing matter. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please be kind to yourself and do not pressure yourself to do anything suddenly. You do, however, need to seek professional assistance. I am not a doctor or medical professional (they won’t even let me play one on TV). If you are in a crisis situation, you should go to a safe space and call 911. There are trained professionals available to talk at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

What I say below is not the result of science, and it is not an organized therapy plan. What I say below is simply a collection of anecdotes and thoughts.

I have experienced suicidal thoughts several times in my life. The sad thing is that people rarely talk about suicidal ideation, and focus instead on the aftermath of suicide itself: the loss, the sadness, the grief. Talking about suicidal thoughts is a particularly stripping, bleaching, burning, vulnerable experience. I know that former and potential future supervisors might read this; former students and parents of students; family members; friends. All of those people might read this.

But, some of those people are likely experiencing suicidal thoughts right now and have no idea where to turn or what to do. Thankfully, I have lived through all of my bouts with suicidal thoughts–and I anticipate being able to make it through any future bouts.

1. When I am in that PLACE, I feel lost and disoriented.

I always remind myself that I have been in this PLACE before. That’s what it is: an emotional and mental location. Just like any other location, I took a path to get to that PLACE and, maybe, retracing my steps will take me away from that location.

Can you go back the way you came? Can you look at each emotional road marker that got you there and realize that the opposite could be equally true? If you can do that, maybe you get away from that PLACE.

2. Often, I get to that PLACE because I am involved in a tough life problem and I cannot see a way to solve that problem. The more I cannot see a way to solve the problem, the large the problem seems, and the harder it seems to solve. Then, I begin to think that if I cannot solve this problem, my life and myself will be a disappointment.

And, the sad thing is that there are some people in the world who will focus on your failures, your weaknesses, and your disappointing moments more than your triumphs, your strengths, and your everyday average glories. Those people are assholes. For some reason, seeing you alive and striving for peace and balance really pisses them off.

Your life is not a scale in which you must outweigh each failure with two triumphs. I have no empirical proof, but life just does not work that way.

3. Sometimes, I get to that PLACE because the criticisms of others have soaked into me and become a constant inner banter of negative talk.

I find it odd that I never play the positive words of others on loop in my brain. I have to remind myself of the positive words that others have spoken to me. Perhaps that is because critical people are more likely to talk (far too much). Perhaps that is because I am wired to best remember negativity. A more likely answer is that I am giving space and power to people who do not deserve either in my life.

Begin to exercise power in your life by resolving to live tomorrow with the purpose of pushing those people into a menial and small place in your life.

4. While I am in that PLACE, I feel silenced and ostracized.

I have to remind myself that there are people who will truly listen and empathize.

When I was in law school, I was a part of an amazing therapy group. Obviously, group therapy means that everyone comes with the expectation of having to listen and empathize and share and feel. But, these people showed me that there are people who want to help and listen and feel and share. But, I have to make the effort to share and be open.

I urge you to reach out. Your hurts are just as serious and critical as knife wounds. Hearing another voice or seeing another face may help you to contextualize what you are feeling. You may not, through one conversation or meeting or call, find a solution to what is hurting you. But, you may recover a spark of hope that can get you through the next minute; the next hour; the next 2 hours; and, on until tomorrow.

Remember, there are assholes out in the world. Please don’t be swayed by the thoughtless words of some jerk. Keep pushing until you find a safe person to talk to. You are not alone. Maybe I have not been exactly where you are, but I have been somewhere similar.

5. I often get to that PLACE because my mind is racing and attempting to tackle the challenges of other days, weeks, and months.

Take it moment by moment. You don’t need to solve the entire problem right now. Focus on solving the next minute right now. This may sound discouraging, but each minute presents its own small challenge(s) that you can overcome.

When I am in that PLACE, looking ahead to the future is not usually helpful because of how powerless I feel and how unlikely a bright future seems.

6. Try to be powerful–even in small ways. Dialing that hotline number is a way to be powerful. Making a doctor’s appointment is a way to be powerful. Being insistent about getting help is a way to be powerful. Getting up to go sit at Starbuck’s so you can be around other people is a way to be powerful.

I made it, and I am in no way remarkable. You can make it, too. Your life is worth living. Please leave that PLACE.