Bruised but not broken

expect sadness

like

you expect rain

both

cleanse you. 

-natural. nayyirah waheed 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health. A lot about my personal struggle with depression. 

For awhile I was obsessed with trying to pinpoint the moment that my life broke open allowing all of the happiness and safety to be spilled out and all the sadness and fear to seep in. I felt like if I could trace it back to the source, then I could rewind life and fix it. Or, at least point to the thing or person who caused it and find comfort in laying blame. It was easy to look back over my life and attribute my sadness to others. There was the terrible job, the emotionally abusive girlfriends, the stress of having to work full time while getting my masters, the constantly trying to live up to praise and expectations. But the truth is that no matter how good or bad life is externally the sadness was always present internally. 

I use to think my life broke open on May 11, 2006 – on my 21st birthday sitting in a padded room at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. The day I wanted to end my life. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety and sent home to suffer in silence. Afterward I quietly slipped back into life, I didn’t share with anyone where I had been that evening, Not my college friends or my family (only my mom knew, but we never spoke of it after that night), not my coworkers, and not my friends now. 

Looking for that specific moment of internal rupture made me realize that it didn’t exist. There was no one moment, one thing for me to blame. Nothing but myself. 

At some point in life, not telling others about my struggle became a weight on me. It became the silence that was killing me and despite the quote tattooed in plain sight, I was living like the silence could save me. Not telling others that I have a history of depression, that I have attempted to end my life, that my bad days are sometimes much worse than just being tired meant that even those closest to me couldn’t understand what I was going through. It meant I was suffering alone because I refused to share myself with the very people that could help.

Now at 30, 9 years after the worst time of my life, 9 years full of ups and downs, I’m back on daily medication. I’m back in individual therapy (after a two year hiatus of regular couples therapy), and I’m finally willing and able to talk about the depression. 

I’m not broken. I wasn’t in terrible relationships, didn’t get drained by other ppl’s drama and didn’t stress out trying to live up to other people’s expectations because I am broken. I did all of that because I was depressed and anxious, bc I was afraid someone would find out I was weak, because I thought acting normal was the best way to be normal, because chaos and dysfunction felt like the only thing that was real. I let all the things in this world crush me because I’m human. I let myself be bruised.. But I was never broken.

I am a whole person. No cracks. No chunks missing. None of me has spilled out.

I’m still alive to learn these lessons. I’m still growing. I give thanks for that every day. I give thanks that I no longer have to wear a smile to hide my pain because I can just talk about my pain. I give thanks that I have enough love for myself these days that I can surround myself with only those who can allow me the space to be honest. 

I give thanks that I no longer need chaos and dysfunction in order to feel something. 

I give thanks for anyone who reads this and sees me for who I really am…bruised but not broken.  

Things we thought we left behind (a blog written in 2014)

 (I first wrote this in Feb 2014, and basically just forgot to publish it. But it is a good reminder for me now as I contemplate quitting social media out of frustration with fake closeness)

Last weekend, at the end of a trip to SF that was a crazy emotional roller coaster that started out with my girlfriends wallet being stolen, I sat down to brunch with 4 people that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. 

There was one of the first friends I made in LA who now lives in the East Bay and is still figuring out her place in the world. There was the couple who moved to CA from STL less than a year after I moved. One of which I’ve know since middle school who helped me become the rabble-rouser I am today when we started our high school’s first Gay Straight Alliance (which STILL exists) and her partner who is basically going to take over Silicon Valley in no time. And finally there was the friend who I haven’t shared physical space with in 9 years who even after all this time feels like a part of me. 

And as I sat there I felt complete. I felt like everyone at that table were exactly who I needed to be at that table right then. I remembered that there are people in this world that I have relationships with that don’t require daily attention. 

There are people in this world who I dearly miss but can never have back. 

There are friends that were just seasons who’s time has passed. 

But there are some people that sweep in and out of my life. Friendships that pick up without explanation, like years haven’t passed. I forget that these relationships exist..until I have my arms wrapped around them at brunch and I remember what their friendship feels like, looks like, smells like. 

Running around in circles…

Hey Blog! How ya been?

I’ve been good. Making changes. You know what they say…the only constant is change. I’ve climbed some hills, hit some brick walls and just lived.

I miss writing, so I’m back. I guess this is what happens when you follow the advice of doing what you love for a living. I write all the time, for a living, in someone else’s voice, on someone else’s vision. It becomes a chore. But I miss getting everything that is swirling around in my head – out.

And there is so much in there. Revolution. Love. Friendship. Anger. Hurt. Depression. Growth. Questions.

Can I share me with you? Is anyone reading this? Does it even matter?

I’m still just looking for the same thing…to be seen. to be heard. to be…to be…me.

Just do me a favor and say my name.

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What doesn’t kill us

I nearly died.

It all started when I woke up one morning with a tiny bug bite. And it almost ended for me nearly three weeks later on the floor of my bathroom and all of the stuff in the middle can be summed up by one word: chaos.

Somewhere along the way an urgent care doctor, fearing that an out of control spider bite had become a MRSA infection, prescribed me a sulfa based antibiotic and sulfa based cream (on top of the antibiotic I was already taking). And guess what? Like a whole shit ton of other people in the world, I am allergic to sulfa.

After 4 days I developed a high fever, and by high I mean 104. I saw a different urgent care doctor who said that I had a virus OR a UTI (which made no sense since the antibiotic I was taking is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of UTIs) – so cool..they went with I had a virus. I should continue the antibiotics I was on and just take tylenol till I’m over the virus. Oh and drink fluids.

I was sent off on my way, only to experience violent chills and roller coaster temperatures. 3 days later I woke up with a rash ALL OVER MY BODY. Back to urgent care I went. The doctors just kinda looked at me crazy. “It can’t be the sulfa” they said, since at this point I’d been taking it for 6 days. They gave me a benadryl shot and the rude ass rash laughed. So they gave me a steroid shot. It calmed things down for a second so they took me off the sulfa “just in case” and sent me home with more steroids. It was gonna get better they assured.

That night I got 1 hour of sleep. The next day I was even more sick, still had a fever and MISSED Bey and Jay Z at the Rose Bowl, a concert that I had waited ALL summer (ALL MY LIFE) to see.

At this point I had a high fever, a rash ALL over my body, I’m on a high dose of steroids, i’ve had no sleep AND I’m depressed. Great. It can’t get worse than this right???

WRONG!

After another night of tossing and turning and NO sleep I get out of the bed to use the bathroom and lose all control of my limbs. It was a slow motion decent. One minute I was washing my hands and the next minute I was catching my body with my face against the bathroom floor. There is this weird moment when you fall where you think to yourself “oh shit I’m on the floorrrr. I should get up!” – well I’m here to tell you don’t listen to that bitch. You can’t get up.

I fell AGAIN. I couldn’t scream and my love didn’t hear either of those tumbles. So, I made a third attempt. This time I fell out of the bathroom, hit a fan, army crawled to the sofa. Blah.

I ended up back in urgent care on the side of the facility that just looks like the ER. My doctor said some stuff about having a severe dermatological emergency and calling an infectious disease doctor.(At this point I was convinced I was dying for sure) There were bags of fluids. LOTS of tubes of blood. An ultrasound. Finally they say it’s definitely the sulfa.

2 days later the fever finally broke. One day after that the rash disappeared.

And now… the pain has set in. The excruciating joint pain. The pain in my torso that feels like my organs are trying to get out of my body. The headache. I feel fatigued from being alive.

I’m just happy that my liver wasn’t damaged, that my kidney’s didn’t fail, and that my lungs were never impacted.

I have no idea how long I will be in pain. But, I know that being alive means something so different for me today than it did 3 weeks ago. More on that later. I still have doctors appointments to go to, I have life to try and restart.

Black Girls are Magic

There is a special magic about seeing yourself in the face and experience of those closest to you.

I didn’t learn this until I moved to California and found a new joy just in seeing other black people ,who always acknowledged me when they passed as if it had been days since they last seen black people. Driving to South LA became a favorite adventure, turning down random streets off Crenshaw or Adams. I would even deliberately put off shopping until I could go to the Vons by USC. It seems odd now, but living on the Eastside meant I was the only “negrita” in sight in my neighborhood (although most often not the darkest person around..but that’s a different discussion). 

Those days have passed and I see black people all day everyday now – on the train, at work and in my neighborhood in the valley. 

Just this week, however, I realized how important it is to not just see my people but to have friendships with them as well… specifically the importance of black girl friendships. (I’m finally starting to get over my struggles.

Black girl friendships are magical. Spending time with people who grab your hand and pray before you eat (even though our beliefs may not add up), friends who know all the words to the songs on your 90’s R&B playlist (and sing them loudly with you in the office or while driving down the 405), who have the same immediate reactions to things like police and confederate flags, who are both infuriated and use to street harassment in the form of “nice” compliments, who can understand black girl pain around skin and hair and bodies.  

And that’s not to say that black girl friendships are more important than my friendships with anyone else. I like the diversity of my friendships. It’s the same as the need to have queer friends, because I am queer and I need to see my reflection in that way too. Or to have movement friends that “get” this struggle we’re in. It’s the same, but amplified. 

I was raised by black women. Lots of them. There is a special magic in friendships with people who look like the first women who loved me unconditionally, who told me I could be or do anything I wanted to be, who told me I was beautiful.  

That common experience of the world makes life feel lighter. I can laugh and joke without worrying about someone making an off color joke that they think is ok because we’re friends. We don’t “check our privilege”. We throw code switching to the wind. We laugh loud and dance to our own music (on beat of course). We talk about trauma and racism and discuss the black power movement and revolution. And nobody can tell us a damn thing. 

Black girls are everything.. and I’m so happy to have more of them in my life these days. <3 

[insert most emo black girl friendship video I can find] 

Getting Prepared

I keep hearing that you aren’t really grown until you are 30. Or that your “Jesus Year” (33) is the year that your life changes. 

I don’t know if either of these things are true…although it would be nice to know that all of the craziness of my 20’s and all the bad and impulsive decisions I’ve made in my 20’s can all be blamed on not yet being a grown up. 

Let’s go with that. Yeah, nothing was my fault, I was just a kid.

Things already seem to be going in the right direction for my soon to be grown up years. I feel like all of my karmic debts have been paid in the love and work departments and I love my city.

But, I am excited to see what happens next. I already feel a shift. Friends that I’ve known forever and relied on in my times of need are fading away. Old friends that I’ve lost contact with are resurfacing. New friends are around every corner (if I can get over my jaded friend feelings and put the time in that it takes to maintain new friendships). I’ve found myself looking forward to getting better instead of looking for something better. I’ve learned to love me, even if I haven’t always liked me. 

30 is still 13 months away. So much can happen in 13 months. 

I wonder who I’ll be when I get to the other side. Hopefully still me..just with better flavor. 

 

 

Bring it.

Happy 2014!! For the last few days every time I have tried to write the year it has come out as 2015 and I don’t know what that means…maybe I am just eager to get to my 30th birthday or maybe deep down inside I know that 2014 is going to be so busy that I just want to skip to the safety of a non-election year. Who knows. 

I had the last two weeks off and I am so well rested! It’s kind of weird to have slept so much. I don’t think I’ve felt exhausted or even tired this entire time…and I even completely cut myself off of caffeine. (Someone should start a pool..I’m sure there is some money to be won over when I’ll be Starbucks dependent again). Other than sleep, I had a lot of time for reflection on the past year. SO MUCH TIME TO REFLECT!! 

Don’t worry, this isn’t where I start listing off all of the things that I learned, what I’m thankful for, what I lost. This is just where I say that there has been so much change in my life in the last year that I’m just so happy about…and that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Oh, and that somethings are still the same and I’m happy about that too. 

On January 1, 2013 I woke up and probably was just sad as fuck that I had to go to work at that scary place that kinda felt like the zombie apocalypse. On January 1, 2014 I woke up to a text from my boss saying this year will be fun followed by a bunch of emojis and then I went to the beach with my boo. 

I have so much to celebrate in 2014…a new found understanding of the need for sleep, self-care and self-love…a deeper and better relationship with my love that is my favorite work in progress…being accepted into a leadership program that is scary and cool all at once… and a shit ton of motivation and ideas about how to change the world. 

I also have a new found appreciation for the SoCal weather as I watch my hometown deal with -100 temperatures. (Stay Classy STL!)

I’m ready for you 2014…Bring it! 

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