Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On Mistakes

I'm a big believer in the idea of making mistakes and learning from them and doing better the next time around. I can forgive mistakes if there's a sincere apology or a very clear move to fix it.

But I'm not that forgiving with myself. And every time, but especially this time, I'm worried I've made too big of a mistake.

I spent a lot of time and money and anxiety on getting here, to London, a place I've wanted to be for over ten years. I always knew I wanted to study abroad and I always knew I wanted to do it somewhere in the UK since I've never been comfortable with other languages and could never handle that extra stress. And now I'm sitting here, wondering if I made a mistake in coming here. I spent every day from the time I handed in my application wondering if I had made a good choice to come here. It was expensive and it was far away and I wouldn't know anybody and I don't make friends easily - I've talked before about how I'm pretty terrible at being a friend. Then the communication issues with my home college and my host college grew and grew and I continued to wonder if it was a sign that things wouldn't go great. I spent a lot of time thinking about how bad this could be for my depression - I wrestled with finally going to get help and medications vs knowing that it can take much longer than I had to get the chemistry right and knowing what it'd mean for my health paperwork. I kind of spilled to my physician, but she didn't really take me seriously; on the other hand, she didn't harp on my weight so there were pros and cons to crying in the examination room.

And I feel like, since getting here, every one of my worst fears has happened. It was more expensive than initially planned and getting myself set up has cost a lot of money. I've made friends and love my flatmates, but I'm not connected with them in the same way - they're younger and less mature. They're starting school as I'm getting ready to end it. The school itself is a party school which is...not me. I've lost a lot of bonding experiences because of that. My home school has continued not to communicate with myself and the other student here are trying to figure out what will keep us a full time student and what won't and being told to take another class when that extra class would cost us around $3000 extra and knowing that if I don't stay full time, I don't keep my scholarship when I get back and that has a lot of serious implications - including, possibly, having to pay them back a large chunk of the money that covered my expenses here. 

And this weekend, depression and anxiety settled in. Partly over this, partly because of homesickness, partly because of Mystery Illness attempting to return, partly because the community I've always gone to no longer feels like a safe, supportive place.

As the summer progressed, I got more involved in a lot of the Big Conversations. I started trying to claim my identity more as someone who was a part of minority groups. And those Big Conversations started getting nastier and nastier. This past weekend, I screwed up. As an ally, as a member of a minority group - I feel like I screwed up. In some ways that I can pinpoint, some ways that I can't. And I feel like my voice is being ignored or mocked in situations where I thought it would be welcomed. Which leads to more questions of if my voice is actually valid, if my identity is valid. In reality, that's probably just because I assume every subtweet is about me. That's how my brain works, especially when I'm spiraling. It got to a point where I lost sensation in my lower legs and seriously contemplated binge eating by the end of the weekend - both signs my anxiety has reached its peak. I was able to work myself down for the first time wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy on me. And I feel like this weekend screwed up some of the friendships I had felt comfortable in.

I tried to stay off twitter for about 24 hours. I had a really slow day, so I'd pop my head in and see these Big Conversations, but the idea of jumping in filled me with dread. How else could I fuck up? Who else can I make hate me? What other relationships can I destroy? And I'd back right out or scroll for something more mundane. I had thoughts, but I can't handle the spiral speaking up causes right now. I tried to go on a rant about something not publishing related, but it ended up getting more personal than I thought it would and I just felt sick by time I finished. There are still Big Conversations happening and I have a lot of Thoughts about them but I just...can't say anything. 

So this week, I'm depressed and anxious. I feel like I have no support system. I feel like my face and my body are disgusting. I'm questioning a lot of my own identity with no real reason. And I don't know why I'm even here and not just in New York where at the very least my cats love me and my walls are a pretty color.

I've made mistakes and I don't know how to fix it. The only thing I know for sure is that if I spend even one full day in my dorm this weekend, I really don't think it'd end well for me so I need to get planning. Keep myself busy so I can keep the thoughts out without getting too serious or controversial on twitter. And maybe I can pull myself out of the spiral soon.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Social Media, Self Worth, and Anxiety

In one week, I'll be on a plane to another country on my own, where I'll live for three months. I don't have a schedule or know where I'm living and I don't know anyone where I'm going. Up until yesterday, nobody told me how much money I had to pay for this pleasure, which was it's own source of stress. The sale of our house still hasn't officially gone through (and, we recently found out, may never go through...four months after happening) so we're waiting on this money for the program that's not gonna be in time and have to borrow from my grandmother, who, speaking of? Has good days and bad days. Days where she does nothing but criticize us and how we've arranged things and our clutter and everything my mother does. And days where everything's fine and she barely notices we exist. 

Today was one of the bad days. Today was my mother's birthday. Today was my brother's first day at a new school. Today was the day she wrote the check so we can go get a certified check so I can put this check in the mail. Today marked one week until I get on a plane on my own for the first time. Today marked one week until I leave the country for the first time.

It's been a long summer. And part of a long year. I don't think I ever fully recovered from last September. Because last September lead right into Mystery Illness which lead right into my GPA becoming a concern for my scholarship which lead to another semester of full time student and part time intern and freelance worker and anxiety haver which has lead to a second semester where my GPA is a concern for my scholarship.

Nothing has let up. My motivation is gone. My anxiety is constant to the point where I've had difficulties breathing for two weeks. It was so bad that initially, I thought Mystery Illness was returning. I'm not sure if this is better or worst.

In the last months before moving out of NYC, I started to wonder about the friendships I had there. How many, how valid they were. How much I mattered. Three years with many of the people I know there, and still I never quite fit. Was it worth still trying? Did they care? Did I? Do I want to go back to a NYC where I'm not sure I have friends?

And now, for most of the past three months, I've been able to push it off because...I haven't had anyone around. Besides two high school friends and my handful of visits to NYC, I haven't seen anyone. Twitter and tumblr and email and Facebook and instagram are all I've had. And I've tweeted more than usual because of that, desperate to talk to people in my generation and with my political beliefs. I've shared some of this, but perhaps not all. I haven't shared how bad the anxiety is and when I have, I've tried to play it off.

For two weeks, my self worth has been plummeting and my anxiety has been rising. Talking about my anxiety and this move and this study abroad process has worn out and nobody seems to reach out to check in. Nobody seems to reply. Nobody seems interested in anything I do or say and a couple of recent posts in particular have hit hard and made me feel utterly useless. Like a complete waste of space. These are my friends and they have their own concerns and issues and I shouldn't expect them to worry about me all the time, but do they care at all? Am I just annoying them too much by sharing and trying to reach out without directly reaching out? Are they actually my friends? And when I talk about certain issues, do they think what I'm saying is wrong or offensive or stupid? 

Does anything I say or do matter to anyone?

I feel unaccomplished and stupid and lumpy and worthless and logically, I know it's wrong. Logically, I know I matter. Logically, I know people care about me and they can't all be online as often as I can be, and therefore miss things. 

Anxiety gives zero fucks about logic.

It's gotten to the point where I've wanted to talk about the anxiety more on twitter, but the idea gives me anxiety because what if it just annoys more people? What if all the people I think would help me miss it or ignore it or mock it? What if nobody cares?

What if what if what if what if. My brain has been nothing but what ifs for two weeks. What if I don't do friends/tweets/posts/anxiety/anything right?

I don't really know where to go from here. I just know that I feel friendless and worthless and I'm questioning why I thought anything I'm trying to do is possible. I'm questioning why I'm a terrible friend and why I can't seem to maintain healthy relationships and if this is the case, clearly it's me not them. I just know I'm tired of not sleeping and not breathing. I'm tired of feeling like this but I don't know how to stop.

And one week from today, I'll be on a plane to an adventure where I can't solve anything in advance. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Growing Up Feminist

We often talk about how the media we consume treats women horribly these days. There are few shows and movies that really celebrate women in a respectful way and let women be women that don't revolve around men. But that's not really my memory of TV growing up.

One of the first shows that comes to mind when I was young is the Rugrats. The Rugrats, with Angelica, Susie, Lil, and Kimi. They were infants and toddlers, but had very distinct personalities. And Angelica, even as the "mean girl," was never excluded or fully left out. Her faults were accepted and her softer, nicer side was shown through out the show and movie. They also had their mothers - Charlotte, a no-nonsense business woman who empowered and spoiled her daughter; Didi, the loving mother who goes back to college; Betty, a "masculine," empowering woman; and Kira, a loving, understanding stepmother. The show featured religious diversity, character diversity, racial diversity, family diversity, and class diversity throughout its run. The adult women on the show had wildly different lives and passions and all of them were ready to empower their daughters.

There was also The Wild Thornberrys. Eliza and her family traveled through the wilds of the world, making nature documentaries. Eliza and her sister had immense freedom, but it was also clear their parents loved and supported them, even if they were kind of out there. In fact, their mother is the "strong" one. She's more responsible, more structured, more ready to discipline. She's the logic to her husband's wild ideas. And while the sisters are drastically different, they aren't really painted as enemies and they support each other when it's necessary - it's a realistic teen sister relationship.

I think about getting older and the shows that dominated my life. All That, The Amanda Show, That's So Raven, The Proud Family, Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The Disney Channel movies, like Cheetah Girls, Zenon, Cadet Kelly, Twitches, Gotta Kick It Up, Quints, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, The Color of Friendship, and Halloweentown that were focused around a variety of girls rocking the world. And that's just a small sampling of the movies that I remember and loved dearly. These shows and movies I watched between ages 5 and (to be honest) 15 had girls being real. Funny girls, creative girls, sassy girls, quiet girls, spunky girls, trouble makers, divas, perfectionists. Girls as singers and cadets and psychics and witches. These girls were powerful and independent and friends with other girls. These girls were allowed to be funny and have fun and have silly crushes and make mistakes and learn from them and it was all totally okay. They were teen girls or even younger and they were strong and they were leaders and they were diverse. All That had such a diverse cast! That's So Raven and The Proud Family featured black families with token white friends. Gotta Kick It Up's PREMISE was an underfunded, predominantly not-white school having to find a way. The Color of Friendship was ABOUT APARTHEID. Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior is about a Chinese-American homecoming queen becoming a badass warrior. Not only that, but originally Brenda Song, the main character, was cast to be a supporting role with a guy as the main character, but after seeing her skills, they SWITCHED IT so the movie would be about a girl and a guy would take her former role.

Even expanding to when I was 12 and up or so, Hannah Montana was kicking ass with her double identity. Miley was the main provider for her family and she could have the boys she wanted, but they damn well better treat her right. And The Suite Life of Zack and Cody featured a book-smart blonde working class girl and a "dumb" Thai-American heiress and they became friends.

The Disney and Nickelodeon I grew up with were mostly about girls and their stories. Girls being friends and being diverse and amazing and just normal girls. They were never belittled or demeaned or pushed down and if they were, they fought back. They were the protagonists and they got incredible story lines and romances. I mean, the Lizzie McGuire movie? C'MON TELL ME THAT'S NOT ONE OF THE MOST ROMANTIC MOVIES EVER. On top of that, romance wasn't always the goal. In a lot of these movies, the girls don't end up with anyone and it's 100% okay.

Now, lets not kid ourselves. Most of these weren't perfect. There wasn't really any diversity in sexualities, but it's understandable since in some of these cases, the characters were too young for it to really come up. A number of the shows and movies lacked real racial diversity or only had a token character or two, but then there were other shows and movies (some of which I didn't list) that were incredibly diverse. Body diversity could've been better, but it is still Hollywood. There wasn't much religious diversity, but several shows brought in Kwanza or Judaism from time to time. But they were all about empowering young girls and women and telling us we could do whatever we want and that friendships with other girls were A+ ideas.

I think this media we consumed at a young age is what really helped shape my generation and what created so many feminists - even if there are still plenty that won't take the title or reject feminism. These shows and movies did incredible good and it saddens me that kids and teen girls aren't getting these same messages now. It's baffling that after the cult success of these shows and movies, the media for us as adults won't continue to reflect what we had growing up. As I've seen, we all still love those shows and movies, but we don't get them anymore for grown ups. It's why so many of us still go back to them.

But I think the focus and general favor of the non-diverse shows/movies (because, let's face it, the shows featuring mostly white people got more regular play in most situation) is what enabled so many feminists to become White Feminists and ignore anyone who wasn't a straight, white, cis feminist. A lot of the shows that challenged these ideas and introduced other religions and races and bodies were That's So Raven and The Proud Family, Gotta Kick It Up and The Color Friendship - "diverse" movies that you could skip over. It wasn't built in to the programs with predominantly white casts and easy to miss.

TL;DR - We had some badass, woman-positive programing for girls and women in the 90s and early '00s, but it wasn't diverse enough within programs to get feminists to be fully open and accepting to women who aren't straight, white, and cis.

Friday, June 5, 2015


I finished Jenny Lawson's brilliant upcoming book last night (and you should all get it) and had many thoughts about it and mental illness. I don't read a lot of non-fiction about mental illness because...why would I? Usually I look at these books and know that they can't tell me anything new. They'll either try to help me fix problems or tell me it'll be okay and that's not what I need. But Jenny Lawson is in the trenches and she gets it and she finds a way to make a lot of it funny. THAT'S what I need.

However, whenever I read anything about mental illness, it has me questioning my own. I've never been diagnosed because I've never sought help. I've never actually talked to a professional. But I know what I feel and I know how what I feel compares to what other people feel and it's not the same, because my mental illness is not your mental illness (as Jenny points out. Is it clear enough you should read Jenny's book yet?), but it's similar enough.

But is it enough? Sometimes I read the experiences other people have and wonder if I'm mentally ill enough to actually be considered mentally ill. How fucked up does that sound? But it's true.

I often doubt I'm depressed enough to actually be considered depressed because I'm not depressed all the time. On the other hand, half the time I don't realize I'm in a depressed state until I'm on the other side of it, or at least half way through.

I often wonder if I actually am anxious enough to be considered to have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile last night I started freaking out about how to get through an airport I don't have to get through for three more months. I don't even have a plane ticket yet. But is that anxiety, or is that just me being an excessive worrier? Is the guilt I drown in for never being perfect and on top of my shit just because I come from a workaholic, Catholic family, or is that more of my anxiety?

I always wonder if I'm enough in other things, too. Am I fat enough to be considered overweight? Science says yet, but when you talk to the body acceptance community, they say no. When I look at my jean size, it says I'm average. Am I active enough to be considered an active person? Am I good enough?

And then I wonder if this constant cycle of thoughts is enough of an indication that I am in fact mentally ill in some capacity.

Then I start worrying about the future. A year from now, I'll (hopefully) be a college graduate. I'll be looking for a job in publishing because that's been my life plan for a good five years now. But what if I can't get a job quick enough? I've seen the struggles my friends go through and am I really any more qualified than they are? What do I do then?

What do I do when I get the job and then I'm a public face of a company and can't talk about being mentally ill anymore? I can't talk about the way that my anxiety and my depression affect my ability to leave the house or my eating habits or my sleeping habits. But maybe it won't be so bad once I have what I've been striving to get for many years. Or maybe it'll be me, losing the community I had. And in that case, is a dream job worth losing the community I've come to rely on so much? Do I need to start rethinking my plans with one year left of college to manage my mental health?

But am I mentally ill enough that this should really be a concern?

Logically, I know it's silly. I shouldn't compare my mental illness to others because they are not all the same. But there's nothing really logical about how my brain works. 


Monday, May 11, 2015

On Home

I've never thought much about what I consider home to be. For me, anywhere I can be comfortable is home. And when I say comfortable, I mean the kind of place where I feel okay wearing sweatpants and no bra. Where I don't care if I showered the night before or even brushed my hair. This means that sometimes, even in my "home" I'm not comfortable - if someone I'm not comfortable with is there or something's happening where I can't sit in my pajamas all day, I'm not sure I'm still really home.

I've never had to think about it before, because I've always had a home, physically and mentally. I had my parents' trailer when I was a kid. Our house when we moved. My dorm after the first night or two. My apartment for the two years I've lived here. They were all home and I always thought it was about the people or my familiarity with the place. Or maybe it was just because I had to be there so much that it became home - I get the same level of comfort in certain hotels if I'm there long enough. But I'm realizing now it's just because I can be 100% my most relaxed self in those hotel rooms.

It's 4:30 in the morning and I have class in 5 hours but I'm thinking about this because I'm losing home.

To a degree, this isn't news to me. The dorm was temporary. The apartment was on a deadline from the day I moved it. My parents always talked about the possibility of moving; I just didn't think it would actually happen. And I certainly didn't think they'd ever move in with my grandma. Not before I was 1000% moved out. The idea is troubling for me for a lot of reasons. I'm not sure I can ever be comfortable with my grandma; I haven't been fully myself around her ever in my life and she's not exactly my peer. I've always presented myself in a specific way to my extended family and that's not the me that I really am. I'm not sure I'm ready to change that presentation.

I'm not going to have home for the better part of the next year, if not longer. And that's one of the most terrifying things I can think of. I need home. I need to be 10000% comfortable where I'm living at least 90% of the time or my mental health goes to hell. I've done it before and I don't want to do it again. And I have no idea how I'm going to handle this. No possible idea. I thought dealing with all my physical health issues was going to be enough of a challenge this summer, as well as learning how to drive and trying to get freelance work to help cover my study abroad expenses. And now I have to do it without being home. And then I have to write my thesis and finish my college experience without being home. And I don't know what to do, but I sure as hell can't sleep knowing that.

But I guess I have learned one thing: Home is definitely a state of being for me.

Monday, January 5, 2015


I don't normally do resolutions beyond the basic. They're not really my thing. But this year is different. It's a really big year for me and I need to start changing some things around. I'm moving (again) (and then again) (and then again), I'm going to a different country, it's my last full year of college. I need to sort some things out. So, resolutions.

  • Procrastinate Less: I'm the WORST procrastinator, which is really terrible with how much I work. Because the first half of this year is going to be pretty high stress and I need to be on the ball. Edits get done in a timely manner. I do school assignments I can as soon as I know about them. I stay on top of reading and applications and forms.
  • Volunteer: This is a resolution, but also a requirement. I need to have 30 hours of community service before I can study abroad, but I only have 3 on record, though 8 unofficially (which goes to procrastinating - those hours are from SEPTEMBER). If I procrastinate less, I'll have less "But there's no time!" excuses.
  • Read More: Also tying in to procrastinating less, I have a goal to read a book a day in January (which has worked so far), but then I still want to try to read 2 books a week after. It's totally manageable.
  • See Friends More: After the big September rush to not be in my apartment, sickness and introversion kind of took over. I cancelled plans I made in October and still haven't felt well enough to reschedule those. But I don't know how much more time I'll have to really go and see friends in the city whenever once I move, so I want to have a get together with one of my friends once a week. A meet up with my blogger friends, a dinner or lunch with publishing friends, going out with my roommate - something. Once a week, every week. Hopefully this will help me work up to doing things and traveling while I'm abroad and don't know anybody. People skills FTW!
  • Write: I'm never going to have the same kind of time and energy that I'll have this year. Next year starts with me commuting, writing my thesis, and taking two grad classes in my full-time course load, then that ends and I have to start looking for a Grown Up Job. This is when things need to happen.
  • Record Life More: As stressful as this year is, it's going to be exciting. The terrible end of year I had really made some of the amazing memories in the first half of the year dull and fade. I don't want that happening this year. More pictures, more blogging, more...everything.
  • Budget Better: I'm not really a budgeting kind of gal. I tend to make sure I can cover my bills and food each month, then spend as I please. Currently, my only income is from freelancing, which is obviously not the safest bet, and it might be the only job I have all year. I can't count on a paycheck every two weeks, and even if I do get a job this semester, I don't think I'll have one this summer or while I'm abroad. So, I need to be better at restraint and thinking of the future.
  • Buy Less Books: Part of budgeting better has to be this. I'm already down to almost only buying books I've already read at signings since I have SO many unread books already, but I'm putting a total ban. Only if I loved it at a signing (or it's an author I know I loved). If I want to buy any other books, I have to have read/get rid of 5. This clears up space AND keeps me from spending too much.
I have some other goals to help me be better to myself and be a better friend, but they're not things I can really explain. I also want to be a better blogger. I just want to improve myself this year. I know I can't be perfect, but I want to help myself get there.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I've had a lot of unmemorable birthdays. I was never big on parties or anything like that and since my birthday's around the holidays, the chances of me having a full day of school were slim.

I only had two parties, that I remember. One at 4 or 5 in a fast food place. Another at 9 in a bowling alley with a bunch of newly-made friends (as we'd just moved/switched schools earlier that fall).

I've had a couple birthdays on Thanksgiving. I remember the first time, that I was conscious of it, we were pulling into my grandma's driveway at 1:00 and I ran into her house to be there when the clock hit 1:01, my minute of birth. Time has always been important to me. My 18th birthday, my first away at college, was also on Thanksgiving. It meant I could be with my family and eat pie and cake as much as I pleased and get extra presents and money from family members who couldn't just ignore my birthday while in front of my face.

Then there are more I wish I could forget.

Like my 13th (or maybe 14th birthday) when my best friend at the time cancelled our plans to see a movie without a word because she had a dentist appointment she'd forgotten about and didn't remember to tell me (I was really bad at choosing good friends until recent years). My parents decided to then invite their best friends over to play games and give gifts. My mom took me to see the movie the next day or next weekend - it was Twilight. And it created another thing for us to bond over as she devoured the books and waited for the movies with me. They were sweet gestures, but there's only so much they could really help.

A year or two after that, one of my family members chose to have HER birthday party on my birthday. They included me in a way - I think my name was on the cake and I took a picture with her and someone I didn't know whose birthday was also around that time. Mostly I was miserable since I knew so few people and most of them weren't my age. But the worst part was after, when family decided to after party at a nearby bar. My brother was 4 or 5 at the time and couldn't go into the bar, nor would he want to. We sat in the car for hours. He watched an entire movie. My dad came out with food for him. I sat in the car and cried and made my brother promise not to say anything because I didn't want to upset my parents.  Of course, being really young, he did mention it at some point and I brushed it off. Said he didn't know what he was saying. My parents went with it and didn't push. And I think my brother still remembers that day.

Then there was last year where my depression had been triggered by a houseguest being brought in and I came home from a lovely time with friends and cried when I saw the dishes still in the sink and then woke up in the morning and cried some more and had to deal with the post office.

But last year, I had time to turn the day around. It became one of the best birthdays I've ever had. I sat and talked for HOURS with a friend over lunch than tea then in Strand where I was able to buy as I pleased due to birthday money then we went to dinner. I came home to cards from my family that made me cry absurdly happy tears and one of those cards still hangs on my wall.

I guess what I'm realizing is that I'm used to others being put first and being ignored. I'm okay with that, really. I should be less okay with that, but I am. But I'm not okay with being ignored or stood up or pushed aside on my birthday. I don't need much more - part of me longs to just order in a big meal and stay home all day on my birthday this year - but I come first. That's all I demand.

And I don't think it's too much for a birthday.