Journal entry from September 21, 2008 (age 18)

“I just noticed, really noticed, that autumn is here again. When I was driving home today I saw that the leaves have changed – the red and orange are taking over the green, and it made me ask myself why I’m here. Am I here to be a lover, a friend, a wife, a daughter? Am I meant to become someone great, for the world to see, or just to be seen as great by the people I love, the people I’m lucky enough to be loved by? I don’t know the answers. I really wish I did.

At this point, this threshold, it’s hard to see past the next few weeks – because I’m stuck at home, not really free to pick up and take off whenever, wherever I please. That’s the freedom I crave, and patience has never been one of my virtues.

Right now I want to be a writer, an editor, and a mother. Right now I’m scared, so scared of losing everyone I know and love. I feel cold all over thinking about my loved ones being gone one day.

I think I feel too much.

That plus my penchant for worrying do not go well together, like champagne and beer. Ugh.

How do you get rid of the fear??”

Intentions

Six months from now, it will be March 5, 2020. That feels very far away, but at the rate this year is flying by, March will creep up on me quickly!

So I want to write my future self a letter.

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Dear future self,

Right now you are feeling hopeful. You’ve been getting job interviews lately so that has been a huge part of your increasing confidence. I hope you are working at a job you enjoy. Remember to relax and breathe and still take time for yourself.

If you are in a relationship, I hope you are content. I hope you are loved, appreciated, and adored. You deserve it.

Do not settle! Put yourself and your daughter first, always.

Keep writing and try to be good to yourself. If you are going through a hard time, remember: this too shall pass.

So far you have made it through some hellish times and experiences. You are stronger than whatever tries to break you.

Love,

the September 2019 version of you.

Symptoms

Everything has been difficult lately. My anxiety has ramped up and my depression has, too. When I’m not feeling panicked about unemployment, lack of money, and familial relationships, I just want to lay down and sleep and sleep and sleep.

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Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

I saw a new psychiatrist today for the first time. I told him, despite being on the highest doses of Wellbutrin and Cipralex, how my mental illnesses, but especially my anxiety, have been increasing.

Back in May I attended a busy, crowded school event. My chest tightened up, breathing was hard, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I had never felt panic like that in a crowd before, and it really freaked me out. Since then, the same panic ensues when I go to a store or to the mall, etc., so I try to avoid spots I know will be busy.

However, I’m a mom and I like taking my daughter to special events, like the fair. So there are a lot of ‘suck it up’ moments for myself that are supposed to be fun, but I can hardly enjoy them when I’m screaming internally constantly being aware of who is around me and where the exits are.

I got in to see my family doctor right away. She made the referral to the psychiatrist. He wants me to try Lyrica, three times a day, on top of the other two medications. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. Perpetually so.

Does anyone have experience with Lyrica?

I don’t know what it’s like to feel well.

For the past few days I’ve been feeling grey; colourless. I went for a walk. I read a good book. I spent time with people I love. And yet, the feeling remains.

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Depression is this insidious, oily, thick black smoke curling around me, clutching at the back of my neck. It whispers all kinds of mean things – you’re worthless, pointless, everyone would be better off if you were gone – and I try to close my eyes against it. But sleep brings too vivid, sometimes frightening dreams, so sleeping the fog and the ache away does me no good.

I would love to channel these feelings (lack of feelings?) into writing. I have a story to tell; I feel its claws. It is digging itself out of me. I really should stop fighting it so much.

That’s what I do, you know. Fight. Every day is a battle against something: the feelings I have about myself, about others.

I am tired. Again. I am scared.

It’s funny, though, how I’m afraid to break. I’m already broken. Lots of jumbled up, jagged pieces in my head. In my heart.

What happens if I embrace the broken?

Anniversary

One year ago, I began this blog.

One year ago, I faced my fear and brought my writing out of the dark, into the light.

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Spring is a time of renewal. The snow and the cold are retreating, making way for blooms and blossoms and warmth. Persephone has returned.

As such, my life is changing, too. Lately I feel a lot more unburdened, lighter; like I can take a deep breath and exhale.

My daughter is getting older and more independent (she’ll be eight years old this year). Watching her discover and delve into her interests; navigate friendships, experiencing loyalty, jealousy, laughter, and tears; makes me so proud to be her mother. I want her to know she can fail and make mistakes and still be a strong, amazing person. We’ve been through a lot, and I know life isn’t finished throwing hardship and obstacles her way, so I tell her as often as I can that I love her and I will be here for her, always.

Over these past few months I have discovered a lot about myself: what I want, and what I’m capable of. My heart is full of hope and I’m excited about what’s next.

29

I have been feeling poorly lately. Battling a sore throat, sore ears, congested head, and a hacking cough has drained me of what little energy I usually have.

My mind feels cloudy and detached, but a ray of sunshine arrives tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I turn 29.

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This birthday is A BIG DEAL, my friends. The last year of my twenties begins. Now, I realize time is arbitrary and does not exist as linear as we tend to perceive, but since when has that stopped me from dwelling on the past and worrying constantly about the future?

I have a difficult time living in the moment. I would like to change that.

I hope to try that, tomorrow; living in the moment.

Last year, I kept it lowkey and went to dinner with a couple good friends. I was working in an office, grateful to have a job three months after graduating college. The person I was seeing gave me a gigantic stuffed animal for my birthday gift.

Little did I know, that job and that relationship would be factors in a breakdown roughly three months down the road.

Funny, isn’t it, what we don’t see coming? Yet, in hindsight, the issues are glaringly obvious. The things we told ourselves are ‘no big deal’ turn out to be the huge red flags waving around, all but shouting, ‘pay attention!’

If, if, if…

Time to stop living in the past.

Time to be kinder to myself.

 

Steady

Finally, it’s October.

I’m lucky to live in a place where autumn is full of cool breezes and vibrant colours. I’ve been doing my best to get out and enjoy it, before the leaves fall and the snow arrives. It’s difficult to tamp down the anxiety enough to actually go outside.

But I’m trying.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend, so in that spirit, I wanted to make a list of things I am grateful for right now.

  1. Most of all, I am thankful for my daughter. As her birthday approaches, I am reminded just how blessed I am to be her mother.
  2. Being able to enjoy and appreciate the colours of the leaves.
  3. Curling up under a fuzzy blanket with a pile of books.
  4. Trying different flavours of coffee and tea (even though I tend to stick with my favourites).
  5. Movie nights cuddled up with my daughter.
  6. Checking out different places to go for a walk and take pictures.
  7. My friends and family. Even though I isolate myself, I know that I am loved.
  8. Last, I am grateful for the gift of writing.

Thank you for reading. May October be a calm, steady breath in our lives.

Shift

Times of transition are always difficult.

For someone who makes mountains out of molehills (like me), times of transition are especially tough. For the past several months, I have been searching for a job. I have had around five interviews, and I was not the selected candidate for any of the positions.

Now, for a regular person, rejection is not easy to swallow. For someone struggling with depression and anxiety, this type of rejection feels like those dark, niggling voices telling us how worthless we are …are correct.

Thus the cycle begins: Of course I did not get the job! I am not good enough and I never will be. What is the point? Why bother anymore?

The loudest instinct becomes the one nudging us under a rock, into that heavy darkness of defeat.

Rationally, however, I know I should be treating these experiences as adventures; as necessary stepping stones that will one day lead to a job, if not a career. I should be chalking up these interviews as professional experience – and I do.

I need to take this time to focus on myself and my own growth. Yes, I will spend time licking my wounds. Rejection hurts; it always will. But it is up to me how I decide to react to it.

I have to take a deep breath and keep going.

Fear

For weeks, I haven’t been able to write.

Just thinking about writing made me feel anxious. Writing is supposed to be my outlet, not a source of stress. Instead of writing, I have been reading voraciously. I’m at the library every two weeks checking out new books. I’ve been focused on thrillers, mysteries, police procedurals, and histories of concentration camps and first-person accounts of time spent in the camps. The books range from 300-900 pages and lately, when my daughter is back at her dad’s house, I will devote hours and hours to reading.

It’s escapism. I know this. I acknowledge it.

I should be getting out of the house, going for walks and such – but I’d rather be a hermit and read the day away.

I recently saw a psychiatrist for the first time. He clocked me right away, and we discussed my low self esteem and fear of failure. He and my main doctor highly recommend more counseling, but man, it is so exhausting peering into my wounds and talking about how I feel and why.

I dislike talking about my issues in person. Writing about them, however, can be cathartic. I’d also much rather hear about other people’s problems and issues… so I don’t have to focus on my own.

I’m at a turning point in my life. I can feel it. I’m on the verge of something.