30 Days Of Gratefulness

I edit for a site called Read Unwritten. And we’ve had a ton of pieces lately concerning being grateful for the little things, and putting down your phone to appreciate life without needing social media or anything like that. And it really got me thinking…

We all have so much to be grateful for.

So, I’ve decided to start a project: for the next 30 days, I’m going to write about 30 different things that I’m grateful for.

By doing this, it will help me take a little time each day to focus on what’s important to me, what’s important in my life. It will also help me focus a little less on the trivial, and more on the important things.

I’m calling this The Thankful Project – 30 days of being thankful for all the great things in my life — the people, the places, the moments, the memories, the things.

So, You’ve Had A Bad Day…

I had a bad day today. Just a plain old fashioned bad day.

And my first instinct was to blame it on my meds not working right. On my depression and anxiety acting up. On my Celiac Disease. On my various aching joints and genetic back issues. On anything but the fact that I just simply had a really bad day. 

I couldn’t tell you what went wrong. I couldn’t tell you why I came home from work and the gym feeling like a failure or just plain shitty. I couldn’t tell you why I got out of the shower and just started to cry. Because there was no rhyme or reason.

Still, as I sat on my bed and cried into my hands, I couldn’t help but want to blame it on something in my life that’s gone wrong. I wanted to curse my medicine bottles for not being enough. I wanted to ask why my depression makes me feel this way. I wanted to reach for a donut just to give Celiac Disease the finger. I wanted to make my back curve the way it’s supposed to and give voice to my aching knees and wail.

Honestly? I just wanted to cry and scream and curse and yell.

So where is the line?

When is it a bad day and not anything else acting up? When is it just my fault? When is it not me hating my body or my body hating me? When is it just an off day? When do I call it and say ‘yep, I might’ve just started the day off on the wrong foot?’

And it’s days like this that make me wonder:

When does it get easier?

When do I get to stop hating walking through the pastry sections in markets? When do I get to stop fearing having children because of this horrific genetic makeup I’d bring them into? When does depression stop trailing behind me like an abandoned dog I once dropped a piece of bread for?

When do I get to feel like I won?

It’s days like this that make me wish I journaled so that just maybe I could track down an answer or see a pattern to all the madness around me.

And maybe that’s the point, right?

Everyone has days like this. Even people without depression, Celiac Disease, etc. Even people who seem perfect on the outside sometimes just go home to cry or vent or scream.

It’s all madness.

Everything around us is chaos. That’s life.

Bad days happen. And it isn’t always for a reason. And it might not get easier; it might get harder, it might stay the same. And maybe every bad day will have me reaching for a journal I don’t have just to see if my body has turned on me further. Maybe every bad day will have me wondering about why I am built and made up the way I am.

But you’re dealt your cards, and you learn to live with them. You learn to bet on them. You learn to bet on yourself.

Make Me A Priority, Please.

About six months ago, I wrote this article about why I’m tired of making my friends priorities in my life when I’m not one in their’s. And this is something I’m still struggling with.

Why? I’ll tell you.

When someone texts me first, I’m guaranteed to answer you within the hour. Partially because I hate seeing the red 1 on phone signaling an unread notification and also because I’m polite. Unless I’m at work, you’re getting an answer to your text message. But either way, you’re going to hear back from me.

We’re millennials. We always have our phones. Whether they’re in our pockets, on the desk beside us, in our bags, on our minds. We’re constantly snapping our friends, commenting on memes on Facebook. There is no way messages are going unseen, unnoticed unless you’re really trying. 

At least have the decency to say no.

It makes me feel like I am not worthy of your friendship. It makes me feel like I’m not worthy of anything. Am I not worthy of your friendship? Am I not worthy of a courtesy text back? Do you know how bad it makes me feel about myself when I never hear from you?

It’s taken me long enough to figure out how to like myself at all. I don’t need you making me feel like I can’t love myself. Like I’m not worth it or like I’m not worthy of someone caring about me as much as I care about them.

I shouldn’t have to put more effort into my relationships than everyone else. I shouldn’t have to wait for text messages about plans or feel shitty when you cancel last minute. I shouldn’t have to contemplate whether or not I should text you just to say okay fine nevermind, forget it. 

Just try, please try to make me feel like a priority too. Please try to make me feel worthy of your friendship, of our relationship, of myself. Please just try to make me feel worth it – life, love, etc.

I’m tired of ranting about this to other friends. I’m tired of trying to understand why you never answer or why you never want to see me. I’m tired of making excuses for your bad behavior and your last minute cancelled plans. I’m just tired.

So I’m done.

In all the time it took me to realize this, I finally started to like myself again. I’m done ranting about this, hating myself, getting angry about never hearing from you. I’m just done.

I think this blogpost is a goodbye. It’s a see you later – but I won’t be the one making the plans.

Metaphorical Misery

I wrote this poem in the span of just moments – something that rarely happens. And why? Because someone was trying to save me from my depression and anxiety. I write about my depression often, but never have I written about it like this. There is no story to this poem – just expression. 

they romanticize it –
call it van gogh cuttin’ off his ear
then paintin’ healthy
green wheatfields underneath upset skies –
say it’s the last autumn leaf fallin’
to the damp grass because
everything must fall before
being reborn better –
claim it’s bees seekin’ flowers in your garden
only to create crystallized honey
so sweet rotten

they call it beautiful like –
give it a poetic name
and it’ll be good enough
when you swaddle yourself in your grey duvet
in the dull shuttered morning light

mine is this way –
they use fanciful language and
tear open my body to love
the depression right out of me
they make me a metaphor –
call me persephone beggin’ for freedom –
all exhausted cliche and comparisons
to something i’ll never add up to

when really –
it’s just van gogh in wheatfields
weary leaves being raked
sour honey thrown out and
broken greek myths strangled
in a cloud of existence and
surrender

 

(All copyrights to this poem are mine. Please do not republish or take without permission. This is original work and should not be plagiarised.)

Pushing Up

You and I, we wasted our time
on saints and sinners
and garageband beginners.
When sunset clouds didn’t mesmerize
you anymore, you started counting
the pulse points behind my knees.

I’m not sure it’s what you wanted,
but it’s what you got stuck with.

I buried your memories
beneath the daisies
because that’s where my mother
always told me people go
when they’re never coming back.

I’m not naive enough to believe
that anymore but
I thought this way,
I could find something beneath
the gunshot heartbeat
you tried to start within my chest.

I’m trying to translate the pattern
of prints you left on my skin
into a language I will later call
Stutters –
something a young girl can love
and think is unique to her
and then slowly get it trained out of her
and then cynically reject it
over and over and

over again.

Finding Myself While Getting Lost In Ireland

Recently, I’ve been soul searching. For what, I can’t be sure.

It might be that I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, alone, working on school work, so I’ve been thinking a lot. It might also be that I’m studying abroad – an experience that everyone assures me will change my life and will be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’m not saying it’s not.

In fact, studying abroad has been amazing, and an unforgettable experience. I’ve met incredible people, most of whom I really want to keep in touch with when we all head back home in three weeks. And I definitely think that studying abroad has changed me. But how? And why? And when? I think these questions have led me to be a lot more introspective than usual.

I’d like to believe that every experience I have changes me – for better, for worse, anything. So studying abroad should be no different. But while I’m still here, in Ireland, staring at the green patchwork hills and storm clouds billowing along the sky, it’s hard to say exactly what I’m feeling.

It’s almost a nostalgia for something I think I had once – or am supposed to have now. It’s a want for something more than just an ordinary, college girl life. I almost feel like Belle, longing for a life elsewhere.

But shouldn’t I be feeling the opposite? Studying abroad is supposed to be the big adventure in the great wide somewhere. It’s supposed to be the break from the mundane, the normal, the university life. And though it is – I’ve done more traveling in the last four months than I could have ever imagined – I still feel like I’m missing the bigger picture, or the more major point of it all.

I place so much value on the experiences I’ve had here. I’ve never felt so inspired – I’m writing so much poetry, I almost can’t believe it, and hey, I’m writing on this blog again, so there’s that. I’ve never felt so whole. Back home, at school or at home, I have always felt like I’m 7/8 of a person, or that I’m missing a part of me. Maybe I’ve found it here. I feel like a more well-rounded person now.

Or maybe, because I’m putting so much weight on everything, it’s too much pressure. I’m overthinking it. I’m expecting to change, so I can’t stop looking for that change. I’m expecting something major to happen, so I just keep waiting for it.

But maybe, just maybe, that’s the point.

I’ve already changed. Something amazing and major and wonderful happens every day I’m here. Maybe I’m soul searching because I’m trying to rediscover who I am now that I have changed.

I think, much like Belle discovers, I just have to open my eyes and my heart to these experiences. Change is gradual. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and realize that oh yes, studying abroad has changed me and here’s how. I just have to know that I have changed somehow, and I’ll figure it out later. I just have to keep my arms wide open to new things, new people, and new experiences. That’s the only way my soul searching will find something.

I just have to know: I will find something.

Please Stop Telling Me My Degree Will Be Useless

Being a college student sucks. At times, I think, oh I could drop out and still make it big. But alas, life just doesn’t work like that for all of us. So I sit in classrooms, toiling away, learning about how to write a good poem, learning about writing and literature, and talking about politics.

Because, yes, I’m a Creative Writing major. So okay, even with college, I may not make it big. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

You might say, but you don’t need college to be a writer. You might say, but who wants to read poetry anyway. You might say, why aren’t you majoring in something more practical?

And, oh, how that question irritates me. I don’t need you telling me that what I’m studying isn’t practical. I really just don’t need that in my life. Writing is my passion. Poetry is my passion. Learning about it all and getting to write it in classes is my passion. Instead of studying something ‘practical’ for life (which by the way isn’t really practical at all since most college students aren’t getting hired in their chosen field anyway), I’m studying something that’s ‘practical’ to me. I’m studying something I love, something I can look forward to and be passionate about when I talk to other people.

And yeah, I may not make it big as a writer anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream. Sure, I may not make it big really ever, but I don’t need to drive a Tesla to be happy. And okay, I may wish for more money in the future, but I’d rather be doing something I love than something I hate for the money.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m comfortable living in this world where I write my poems, work a day job and am completely happy with my life.

I understand that it may take me a while to find a job, settle in to a place, feel comfortable monetarily. I understand that I may struggle. I understand that you think my degree will be useless and I should study something more practical. I understand that underneath all of that taunting exterior, you’re just worried for me and my future. I get it.

I don’t need you to tell me my degree will be useless. Frankly, I already know that. And I’ve come to terms with that.

But I get to go to class every day and love what I’m studying. I get to learn about things I like. I get to learn about things that I’m truly passionate about. And that’s all I really care about. So you can take your teasing and taunting somewhere else.

Because I love my degree, and I don’t need your permission to do that.

Movies Full of Happy Endings, And Most of Us Get This

I’m the first one on movie night to suggest titles like You’ve Got Mail, She’s the Man, and Princess Diaries, where – no matter what – the girl gets the guy. No matter what, the credits roll over a valiant kiss and declaration of feelings. No matter what, the credits roll over: Happily Ever After.

All this is great, until the lights come on and we’re thrust back into reality. The reality where boys don’t declare their feelings so openly. The reality where we’re single as f*ck and no men in our lives show signs of recognizing our feelings. The reality where happily ever after doesn’t always happen. 

There isn’t a movie about the girl who likes the boy who sits next to her in her writing class, and he doesn’t get it. There’s not a movie portraying the playboy who stays a playboy and doesn’t fall for the cute girl down the street. There’s no movie showing us just wandering around, hoping the one randomly pops up so we can have our final kiss and live that life we dream about.

What a goddamn boring movie that would be, right? 

But that’s life. Most of us don’t find the one in high school, in the halls in college, at the receptionist desk at work. Most of us go through first date after first date and only sometimes get to the second one without feeling gross or feeling no chemistry. 

We don’t meet a guy at the bar, see fireworks, and two hours later, after wild adventures and a predictable break up, end up together forever. 

And that’s just it. No one wants to sit in a movie theatre and watch a girl go to college, drink on weekends with her friends, complain about boys, and then watch the credits roll. We want drama and passion and love. We want to watch what we could have. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching that Rom Com and pretending that I’m going to find that one day. But will I? Or will I just endlessly wander around, a circle of liking a guy and him never opening his eyes to me? And I’m not saying I need my happy ending now, but ever? 

Maybe I’m not forward enough. Maybe I’m absolute shit at showing my feelings. Maybe I’m too shy or too introspective. 

According to the Rom Coms, though, some guy is going to see me, and want to date and marry me. 

I’m calling bullshit. 

Life isn’t a movie. Life doesn’t work in a methodical, predicts way where we meet, fight, and make up just in time for the next movie to show. Life is dissatisfying for most – love-wise – and we don’t always find our soulmate. 

I might be extremely cynical. But it’s not like I haven’t had examples of true love in my life: my grandparents have been married since college, my parents have been in love since high school. But life now, in 2016, is different from the 50s, 80s, and even the 90s. 

Most men want to sleep around and sow their wild wild oats before they settle down. I say most because there are some who want to date and settle down, but where are they

This past movie night with my roommate, we watched How To Be Single, a great movie that attempts to highlight four different women and their search for love. And it was the first movie I’d seen in a long ass time that showed honestly, how it feels being single. It’s lonely at times. At other times, it’s liberating. Still, this movie ended in two happy endings, and two unresolved ones. And even still, all four women had their pick of men throughout the movie. 

That’s not true life. 

Again, I might be cynical and ranting. But please, point me to the movies that don’t end with the guy getting the girl. Point me to the men who don’t want to sow their oats. 

Point me to my happy ending. 

How To Deal With Loss When You Don’t Know How

My grandfather passed away this week. It was a loss I expected, but the feelings were not.

I’ve been fortunate enough to only have lost one other family member in my life. It was my grandmother when I was 9 years old. I don’t really remember it – I’ve always had a terrible memory – but I do remember that the grief didn’t really hit me until I was standing in front of her friends and family at her funeral.

But this time…this time was different. Perhaps it was because I knew my grandfather better than I did my grandmother. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and I understand grief and death and loss a lot better than I did 11 years ago. Perhaps it’s just because I allow myself to feel my emotions instead of stuffing them down inside myself and never telling anyone about them.

No matter the reason, it hurts. It’s an actual physical ache in my chest. I know that sounds cliché, and the grief does come and go in waves, but when the water has hit the shore again, my chest hurts. I have no appetite, my insomnia is back. For some reason, this grief has consumed me. 

I’m not sure if I will get to speak at this funeral. But if I do, I have loads to say.

My grandfather and I were never exceptionally close. We didn’t talk every day, or write emails to each other. We saw each other maybe twice or three times a year.

But, god, did I idolize him.

He was the smartest person I’ve ever met. He corrected grammar (even on restaurant menus) and spoke with eloquence even in his daily life. For goodness sake, he did crossword puzzles in ink. Did he ever need to erase an answer? Hell no! My grandfather was a lawyer – and from what I’ve heard, a great one. And he had a wonderful sense of humor. He always welcomed questions about life and law.

And though he was a little deaf – okay, a lot deaf – he was always ready to listen.

This grief pushing on my chest may be different from grief I’ve felt before, but it takes up just as much space in my heart. Grief is not static – it is ever-changing and shifting. This grief may feel like this now. But tomorrow, it might feel different. Tomorrow, I might feel enlightened – knowing my grandfather is actually in a better place: pain free and smiling again. Tomorrow, I might feel worse – as though the ground has dropped from under me.

No matter how I feel: this is life. Life twists and turns and makes us feel things we do not want to feel. And we have to experience it.

It helps us to grow and improve and be better. It helps us to view the world differently and understand others. Does grief hurt? Hell yes. Does it suck? Um, yeah.

Does grief make us think? Absolutely.

I’m not trying to make death into a life lesson. Because for some, it just passes. We don’t get to choose how we feel. That’s chemistry and emotions and brain neurons firing. But we can wake up and decide that, today, this ache is going to help us.

It’s going to push us to be better. It’s going to help us feel sad, and then help us to move on. It’s going to help us learn about life and love and maybe even law.

 

Featured Photo via Unsplash.

Why We Should Treat Mental Health the Same as Physical Health

I am depressed.

This is not something I try to hide, or shy away from. This is a part of me, something I deal with every day, just like someone putting on glasses, or managing an autoimmune disorder. But people don’t cringe when I tell them I have Celiac Disease. People don’t cringe when I tell them that I just can’t eat gluten.

So then why do people cringe when I tell them I’m depressed? It’s the same thing. Not only am I depressed, but I’m treating it. So why is it a big problem when I tell them that I can’t eat gluten, and I also can’t get out of bed some mornings? At least I can take medications for my depression. I can’t treat my Celiac Disease.

I personally think it’s because depression can be crippling. It does cause me to have to stay in bed some days. It does cause me some trouble most days, even though I am treating it as well as I can.

My Depression rears its ugly head quite often, and it follows me around, trailing Anxiety on a leash.

They both ask me questions all day, begging for my attention, begging for me to treat them as way more important than everything, and everyone, else in my life.

I have to fight Depression and Anxiety every day.

So, arguably, it’s not as normal as putting on glasses. Once people put on glasses, they don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.

But.

I have to fight not to eat a bagel every day. I have to fight not to go the easy route and eat burritos and pasta and sandwiches every single day. Some days, it’s harder to fight my Celiac Disease than it is to fight my Depression.

Once I’m out of bed, I’ve already won a fight against my depression.

And I can avoid it during the day – I keep myself busy on a tight schedule, I carry around a planner, I have a stress rock in my backpack. It is nearly impossible to avoid gluten though. I have to walk by a bagel place to get to some of my classes. My friends and classmates are constantly (unknowingly) taunting me with their cupcakes and PB&J’s.

If my Celiac Disease is harder for me to cope with than my depression, why is there a mental health stigma? Why isn’t there a stigma around Celiac Disease? Why don’t people cringe when I turn down a piece of their pizza because I don’t want to be sick for the rest of the week?

To me, there is little difference between my Celiac Disease and my depression. I battle with both every day, all day. I fight the urge to stay in bed with the same effort with which I fight the urge to eat a donut. I diligently treat my depression with medication and self-care the same way I treat my Celiac Disease with good eating habits and smart choices.

I’m just curious as to why one makes people cringe, and the other just makes people apologize.

 

Featured Image via Wildgypsypirate