Living Fearless

In a lot of ways, my life has improved immensely after being diagnosed with PMDD and going through treatment. Prior to that, I think I spent the majority of my days being terrified of everything. I was afraid to go to work because what if I had a melt down? What if I started crying at my desk and couldn't stop? I was afraid to be with my wife because what if I lost my temper and she got angry with me or walked out on me? Most of all, I was fricken' terrified of being alone because I didn't trust myself. I was so emotionally unstable and had such unhealthy coping skills that I was honestly afraid of MYSELF. That's kind of crazy when I think about it--actually fearing your own mind--but it's so real for so many people.  But that' s just how it is. I don't find myself fearing those things as much anymore because

1.) MEDS. I never ever ever thought medication would help me, but it truly has.

2. KNOWLEDGE. I actually have some one of an idea of what is going on with my body and it makes me feel a little bit more in control of myself. I think that was really the biggest part of it before--not feeling in control of anything. Since I have a touch of OCD, I truly appreciate control ;)

So great--less fear right? Except now, I find myself fearing other things that I didn't have time to care about before because I was too consumed in my depression.  I think the big one for me is my writing. For a long time I stopped writing because  I could barely get out of bed let alone motivate myself to write. But now, my head is clearer and I want so badly to do the things that have always made me happy in the past. Writing has always been this anchor for me- this piece of me that keeps me grounded, that allows me to pour the swirly galaxy of words in my brain into something else. But now that I've started again, that shred of self doubt always finds a way to hinder me. I'm afraid nothing I write is good enough. I don't know, for the life of me, how to visually create a blog that I think is beautiful, so it stresses me out and makes me not want to write. I don't know if people will like or listen to what I write--so I think what's the point? I submit my articles and immediately believe they will be rejected because I'm not good enough.

Fear. Is. A. Son. Of. A. Bitch.

The thing that happens is when fear comes and tells me it's not going to be good enough, I just don;t do it at all. Instead of trying to write, just giving it a try,  I miss out on the opportunity to create something beautiful. How do I call myself a writer if I don't write?

You have to want it, more than you're afraid of it, right?  So here goes. I am not saying I am going to get rid of that fear because let's be honest, that's just not realistic. If it wants to come along for the ride, fine by me...but I'm driving. Fear can take a back seat.

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Am I Cured Yet?

If you were to ask someone close to me, like my wife, where I was three months ago compared to where I am today, I’m confident she would tell you without a shred of doubt that I am leaps and bounds better than I was.  If I look at the facts, if I look at this whole thing logically, I am mentally in a healthier place by far. Three months ago, I felt like I was stuck in that same familiar ditch I had been in many times before, except for some reason, this time I couldn’t see the light. I couldn’t see anything but darkness and that scared the shit out of me. I had always thought of myself as a fighter—confronting my depression and trying my best to kick it square in the teeth. When I lost that fight in me, I felt like I had completely lost myself. I think that scared me more than the depression—my desire to give up. Luckily for me, I can be reeeeeeeeallll stubborn and instead of surrendering, I asked for others to fight with me. I got help. That should feel like a victory in and of itself, right? Anyone who suffers from depression knows that our mind can be a powerful SOB. For me, learning to recognize my thoughts, especially the irrational thoughts, has been hard. My mind tells me, all the time, that I should be better. I should be farther along on my journey than I am. After all, I did SEVEN days of intensive therapy, am on medication, am eating right, exercising—shouldn’t I be 100% cured? Yes, friends, that’s my illogical brain talking and she can be a manipulative  bitch. Last week, I had one of the worst days I’ve had in a while. I was 10 days late for my period and was feeling the negative effects of my cycle being f*cked up.  That coupled with a particularly stressful work week was like the perfect PMDD/depression shit storm.  I was at work, hosting a company wide event, and had received a passive aggressive email that morning. Normally, I would mutter a curse under my breath, but I would let it go. But, my heightened emotions and hormones out of whack resulted in me turning into a sobbing, illogical, irrational mess. I unloaded on my boss, I cried in front of colleagues, and then for the rest of the day, I was so ashamed I didn’t even want to look anyone in the eye. Then the illogical B came and she was all “Everyone’s gonna think you’re crazy now! You’re probably going to get fired—might as well quit now and save them the trouble. You’re not better—you’ll always be like this.” Just like that, those thoughts threatened to erase all of the progress I’ve made.

I thought a lot about what happened last week over the weekend. I could easily listen to those thoughts and consider the PMDD episode as a setback—an inevitable failure. But, instead, I am choosing to take this as a lesson to reframe my thinking. Will I ever be ‘cured’? What does that even mean? I don’t think depression/PMDD is a curable disease. But, it’s treatable and I am working every single day of my life to learn to live with this. Will I have days that feel worse than others? Sure. But no day is ‘bad’ and no day is a setback. It’s part of my gorgeous, messy story—and I’m going to see it through to the end.

Shhh...The Neighbors Might Hear

When I was a kid, anytime I said something “inappropriate”, gossiped, or basically just said something my mother felt we shouldn’t be talking about, she would always hush me and say with a whisper “Shh…the neighbors will hear..” or something to that effect. We could literally be in our living room with the doors and windows closed and she’d still say it. Unless our neighbors had bionic ears, pretty sure they couldn’t make out me asking my mom what the word “masturbation” meant. Nevertheless,  I listened to my mother and decided that if it’s something she thought neighbors would be appalled at, then it was best to keep my mouth shut. I carried that with me, subconsciously I think, for a long time.  When I came out, I was terrified. Not because I was struggling with being a lesbian (after my first experience with a girl, I was pretty comfortable with who I was internally), but because I was afraid of what people would say. What would my family say? After all, nice catholic Italian girls grew up to marry nice Catholic Italian men, right?

The same thing happened when I  first started with depression and self-injury. I needed help. I needed to tell people. But, that same little voice in the back of my head that told me I needed help also told me I needed to keep quiet because it wasn’t anyone’s business. No one should know. I had to keep up with the appearance I was fine. Guess how healthy that was?

Let me say this-- it’s not my mom’s fault—she was raised old school just like her mom was and she battled her own hidden chest full of fucked up secrets.  Eventually though, all of those secrets that were brewing boiled over and came to the surface, and even she had to come clean.  Now, that’s what I am doing. The PMDD diagnosis was the real eye opener for me. As I began doing research and reading other women’s stories in regards to mental health, women’s health issues, sexual assault—I also began to see how fucking resilient women are. How we are survivors, supporters, advocates, revolutionaries… We are making changes. Being heard. But change only comes when  we stop worrying , stop hiding, stop making excuses for other people  and most of all—stop apologizing.

I decided to make a #sorrynotsorrylist for all of the shit (especially as a woman)I  have always felt I wasn’t able to talk about…Leave a comment below—send me your list!!!

 

Sorry I’m Not Sorry For….

  1. Gaining, losing, gaining, and losing weight. It’s my body and only I know what it’s going through. I When I say I have a slow metabolism and people roll their eyes, I also know that I suffer from thyroid issues, a tumor on my pituitary gland, and bad genes. I also know that I make healthy choices- try to work out and do my damn best for MY body.Image result for gaining weight
  2. Talking about my period. Yup. I am a woman and I bleed. How DARE I! I’m sick of having this be a topic that is only appropriate to talk to women about. If I’m hunched over at work in pain and someone asks me what’s wrong, why do I have to lie and say “Oh just a tummy ache!” I know it probably isn’t lady like to scream in my best Linda Blair impression “MY FUCKING EGGS ARE DROPPING!!!!!” but can I just be honest? It’s my time of the month, dude. It sucks.anigif_sub-buzz-28243-1491563910-1
  3. Talking about my PMDD. I know now that PMDD is not PMS. It’s debilitating, it’s uncontrollable. Do you think I want to feel freaking insane for a week? Do you honestly think I was to sit at my desk and start sobbing like a lunatic? Nope. I want to do what I can, at least in my little inner circle, to raise awareness about PMDD.
  4. Talking about SEX. This is an area that for some reason, I’ve always felt like someone was judging me for. I don’t know how much of that is all in my head or not, but I do feel like there have got to be some women who feel or have felt the way I felt. I’ve always been interested in sex and sexuality. I’m curious about other people’s sex lives, fetishes, interests…I genuinely am fascinated by it and I want to talk about it. But, I’ve felt like when I talk about it or think about it or am vocal about my needs that it makes me a pig or that I “think like a man.” Well guess what? I don’t think like anyone else but ME. And ME likes sex. A lot.
  5. Standing up for what I believe in. I spend a long time having these incredibly strong urges to fight the good fight—to be an advocate for those who have felt alone, targeted, unheard…Probably because I’ve felt like this before. But, I never fought, just thought about it, because again—what would people think if I supported things that could potentially spark controversy? Who would listen to me? Again, change is only as good as the actions that follow…I want to talk about being gay, about being a woman, about being a mental health warrior so that others will feel inspired to do the same.

 

What are you #sorrynotsorry for?

 

 

 

Med Madness

pexels-photo-143654 For years I refused to take medication. Mostly, I think my apprehension stems from watching my mother's relationship with medication. She was diagnosed with bi-polar after a suicide attempt and has been on a cocktail of medication. What I think scared me the most was the fact that I can always tell when she doesn't take her medication. She's like a different person and to me, it's a terrifying notion that one tiny pill has such a significant control on your mood and behavior. Obviously, she's better on her medication and the results are positive--but the idea that she will need to be on this medication probably for the rest of her life was just a little hard for me to swallow (Get it? hehe cheesy pun definitely intended.) I also think that part of me is a hippie at heart. I've always been advocate for alternative medicine--herbs, meditation, acupuncture--whatever way we can heal our bodies in a natural way.  I still laugh a little bit when those medication commercials for antidepressants come on showing some lady on a boat staring off into the sunset, now able to live a happy life free from depression while a voice over is talking about the possible negative side effects of the meds.

This medication may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, stroke, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, internal bleeding, blindness and possible growth of a third eye or an extra nipple...(sorry, I may have stretched the truth there for emphasis.).

Point being, why pump your body full of chemicals and risk all of that shit when the medication may not even work?

I think it's because sometimes "the reward" (so to speak) is worth the risks. For the past two years I tried a variety of different medications desperate for something to make me feel better. I had tried all of the other alternatives which helped me manage the depression a little, but it was still to great a burden to bear alone. I started off with Pristiq, then Celexa, then Lexapro, then Prozac... They all worked for a little bit and definitely came with some side effects including weight gain. I'm not going to lie, it was fucking frustrating trying to find something that worked. I was going to a nurse practitioner, and in hindsight, I probably should have tried to find someone who specialized in women's mental health issues like I have now. I was honestly ready to give up on medication until I went into the day program and ultimately had my PMDD diagnosis in conjunction with clinical depression. The doc there was incredible and actually LISTENED to my concerns, especially my fear of trying any other medication that could cause more weight gain. The combo of Wellbutrin and Celexa I'm on now has made an INCREDIBLE difference.

Moral of the story here: with your mental health, sometimes you have to do things you don't want to if it means getting better. If I'm being 100% honest (which I think you know by now I don't hold anything back), having to depend on medication still isn't something I love--but I'm learning to live with it. All part of the soul mending journey, right?

 

Lots of love, my beautiful souls!

Jen

 

PMDD. WTF. SMH.

"It's like I get one person for two or three weeks, and then that last week, I get a completely different person. My notes for the past three months literally say 'hopeful' for two weeks, then hopeless and depressed for the last week or two of the month. I can't officially diagnose you, but I think you have PMDD" she said with confidence.

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