Mindful Math

mindfulness

Learn from the bad days, relish in the good days, and be mindful: that’s pretty much what life sums up to. Today was a bad day. I’m going to choose, however, not to go into detail this time. I’m not going to rant about my exceptionally bad social skills, or the fact that I connect better with inanimate objects than I do people. I’m not going to whine about the anxiety generated from this realization that keeps me mostly silent in social gatherings in fear of 1)interpreting something wrong, or 2) saying something inappropriate or 3) sounding like an idiot. I’m not going to pity myself over my sensory issues that keep me distracted during conversation and every other moment of my life.

image002What I will do is say that everything takes time. I will say that where I am and where I want to be are so distant from each other, separated by such a spontaneous, long, winding pathway, you’re going to need Parametric equations to understand the reality. You’re going to need x, y, and t. You’re going to need to identify the curve and graph it and tell me what direction it’s heading.

 

What I will say is that life is like a Taylor Polynomial:

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Everything is an approximation, a copy, a trace step by step, or in a graph’s case point by point, of someone else’s ideas and behaviors and discoveries. The older you get, the more you understand, the more terms are in your Polynomial expression and the better your approximation will be; your educated guess gets better and better and better.

You can’t rush the polynomial. It builds how it builds given the equation it has to work with. If it’s something fairly simple like e^x, well hell, all the derivatives are of e^x are e^x so you won’t have much of a difference in terms of the numerators. There won’t be risk or reward or output, just like in life. If you don’t embrace change, if you can’t, if you don’t allow yourself to, much of what you experience will stay the same. And it will continue on and on until you match perfectly the original approximation. How exciting.

But plug in the third root of x and suddenly you have different derivatives in your numerator. Suddenly things are changing. Things are shifting and although a number like 5/248832 is a little . . . well, unsettling for most people, so are changes in life. They’re unsettling. They get a little creepy. Sometimes they look so outrageous that you just wonder “what’s the point?”.

But . . . at least you’re questioning. 

At least you’re experiencing. At least when your approximation reaches it’s end goal, you can wipe your forehead clear, sigh a breath of relief, and look back at all the work you’ve just completed with pride.

Don’t be an e^x. However fascinating the term may or may not be to you, don’t be like it. 

From today I take away many things. Many of them are negative and that’s okay. But I also take away the realization that I can continue to grow, even though it will be hard. Even though the people I’m trying to approximate are at a level I may not reach for three, four, five, maybe even ten years. Even though I feel the social calculations I’ll have to make to complete this approximation will be more complex than any math equation I’ve encountered in my young math life.

My struggle with connection may have something to do with looking at people like math equations . . .

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I also need to stop procrastinating on this math homework. I have a test on Tuesday at 8 in the morning. Wish me luck.

And Remember. Don’t be like e^x. Change a little.

 

. . . And Life Goes On

Life goes on and the unreality of the eighth falls prey to the angry, hungry lion that is daily reality. And in daily reality inquires are made and solutions are dished out and some people work a 9 to 5.

Then there are those of us who don’t. Then there are some of us who have to awkwardly explain to their non-peer professor that she feels the entire class has conspired against her since her return from the hospital but that she’s been keeping up with the work at home and will be back the following week. Then there are some of us who disappear from math class without warning and have to, once again, awkwardly email the non-peer professor and hope he will be understanding.

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That’s what’s been keeping me from going to my creative writing class by the way: the same thing that kept me from going to my Native American Literature class those years back.

Let me say I love this professor. She is hilarious and open and an eloquent writer. Although she is more interested in poetry rather than fiction, she and I understand each other as writers. Her class is very open. Everyone talks among each other, and I was once in a little group. Then I shipped away.

Returning back to class felt wrong. And once I told my professor why I’d been gone, I got this nagging feeling she’s told the entire class who I am, what happened, and why I was gone. Then when I return I’m noticing someone who used to sit next to me, sat a seat away, and while another person used to ask me questions she now asks the guy next to me. I’m sure she told them all to ignore me and hate me. I’ve tried to reason myself into believing it’s because they have all had time to get to know each other better, but that other voice in my head has invalidated and battered reason to the floor.

Driving home one night I realized something significant. First, I realized that this level of paranoia can go fuck itself.

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The Only Image Of Hello Kitty I’ve Found Even Remotely Interesting

Secondly, I asked myself what someone would say to me at  Second Story if I were to explain my thoughts. I asked myself what I would say to someone were I to explain the thoughts to myself. And while I can’t remember the full conversation I had with myself in my head, I do remember the conclusion.

Feeling violated by my professors purported confidentiality disrespect, feeling like an outcast among people with stigma as rampant as it is, is the root of this paranoia. My own insecurity of being seen as “crazy” or “sick” on the outside is the root of this paranoia. And while that doesn’t make me feel any less paranoid, it made me sigh in relief. It made me sigh because it makes me remember all the people I’ve spoken to who struggle in the same way. I sighed because it only confirms there are reasons for thoughts, no matter how “deluded” they could be considered. My interpretation of my environments may be different from yours, but if you’re insecure about the way you look, and I’m insecure about how my mentality is perceived, aren’t we both sharing in the same struggle but seeing it differently?

Crisis averted.

And that got me thinking about the future, about transferring, about digging deep into my career. And all that bone crushing anxiety got me thinking about questions I hear and have been asked often:

What kind of jobs are there for the “mentally ill”?

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Preferably Ones That Don’t Drive Us To Ring Our Necks With A Tie

You all know I refrain from using terms like “mental illness” or “mental disorder” and instead call them experiences or struggles or interpretations. But that is how the question is often phrased.

And one obvious thing comes to mind and it isn’t office job, it isn’t an online position, it isn’t reclusive writer, and it isn’t backroom stocking associate, all of which I’ve tried.

Well, I’m still a reclusive writer, but . . .

I smacked myself on the forehead at the realization: peers.

And with the rise in peer support sweeping, literally, the nation, there’s a huge need for it.

I will be transferring over the hill next year. I refuse to live on campus unless it will be paid for by financial aid and I can have a dorm to myself: those are rather harsh and specific requirements, so I’m not counting on it. Therefore I will need income. I smacked myself again on the forehead before searching for peer support in the county I will be moving too.

Yes, it exists there as well. In fact, it exists in many, many more places and cities and towns than I thought. Second Story may be peer run, but even within health centers there are peer programs. A lot of them. This gave me the hope for humanity Trump tried stealing away.

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To Be Clear, Trump is Mocking Him, Not Me

If connecting with people who also struggle is something of interest to you, I encourage you to search programs, I really do. It may sound like a huge step, and it is,  but let me tell you, you’ll be way better off being nervous around people who understand how that effects you personally, than being in an office where a boss snorts at you and says “tough shit”.

My point is, there are jobs out there for people who struggle in the way we do. I’m not talking people with just Anxiety or depression. I’m talking those who hear voices or bounce up and down with their moods. Self Harm. OCD. WhatEVER it is, we need you.

You don’t need a degree, all you need is your experience with mental health.

The transformation I saw in the woman I met from the hospital who happened to show up a week after I told her about Second Story . . .the difference I saw in her from the time we were in the hospital together to the first week she was with us . . .tremendous. She used to not speak above a whisper. She didn’t make much eye contact and was really stuck in her struggle. The last time I saw her she spoke confidently, she made eye contact, she saw all of the problems she had to go through in terms of housing and such as things she could accomplish: she told me that many times. She said it would be hard, but that they are do-able.

That was the first positive thing I’d heard from her.

She and I cooked a feast that night. I asked her if she was any good at cooking chicken and we were off. We made stuffing and baked chicken and mashed potatoes and a salad and some green beans and sliced some bread. Some of us sat down and ate at the dinner table and joked about Mariah Carey and the 7 million dollar engagement ring her (ex??) fiance gave her.

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*Rolls Eyes Tremendously*

I remember when I left the hospital she whispered good luck to me. Before I left my shift for that night I told her good luck. The last I heard, she’s signed up to Volunteer with us.

You make a difference in people’s lives, and they make a difference in yours. That’s what peer support is about. These are real positions in this life and real places have implemented these types of programs.

There are people out there that understand. And there are people out there you can use your experience to connect with. If you’re curious, I implore you, please, research it. If you have questions about what I do as a peer support counselor, email me or leave a comment, I’ll be happy to explain in more detail.

You might go in hoping to change someone else’s life and come out the one who is changed. That’s when you know you made a good choice.

We need you.

 

Learn To Love It

Good evening, all.

Evening for me, probably morning for you, afternoon maybe. I know I get a lot of views from people across the world (which, holly hell, thank you so much for reading, even if all you get to is this sentence and you think *fuck, she’s boring me already* and click out. You’re still awesome to me. -cue thumbs up and winky face-)

Good -enter time of day here-, all.

I just thought I’d take a moment out of my night time to discuss something interesting with you all.

The idea of positive and negative in this world.

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We’ve seemed to really . . . well, blatantly, fuck it up.

We’ve got this misconception that “negative” means “bad” and “positive” means “good”and that one is desirable and the other should be exonerated.

At this point all you word nerds out there who are frantically googling the word “negative” for the origins just ready to blast me in the comments saying “negative is literally the definition of bad, idiot”.

But what you will find is word nerds who care much more about semantics than your whining and will kindly, but perhaps aggressively and arrogantly correct you: negative is simply the denial of something, the absence or something. Positive can be seen as the affirmation of something.

Rather than continue the tradition of the original meanings of the word, we’ve transformed them into tools to use against and/or shame people into thinking or behaving how we think they should.

People tell you to “think positively”.

They tell you to “not think so negatively”.

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Let’s break these phrases down a little, shall we?

When you say “ugh, this really sucks, I’m so depressed, I just can’t stop all these negative thoughts” and you get that horrendous reply of “try and think more positively about things”, do you realize what that person is actually suggesting?

Before you punch them in the face, think about this, think about how we’re all misunderstanding the terms we use on a daily basis.

By them suggesting you think more “positive”, they’re essentially saying “don’t think negatively”.

Hmm. So how do you do that?

You don’t.

You don’t ever think negative without having thought positive at some point in your life. Humans are like magnets: we have a positive pole and a negative pole. We don’t have one without the other, because their very definitions imply there is an opposite.

hiding-negative-people-longThe goal isn’t to ignore negativity. The goal isn’t to pretend it’s not there and just think more positively. Do you know what that’s called? Do you know what ignoring the “negative” or more properly, the “bad” and focusing only on the bright side of everything? That’s called repression. And if you struggle with your mental health, repression will only escalate both.

When you have thoughts in your head that feel like they are overwhelming, that feel like they are horrible and “negative” and they’re pressuring you to end your existence because, fuck it, nothing goes right, everything is bad . . .

That’s fine. That’s fine and you will make it through that. It’s okay to feel fucking worthless and stupid and horrible and dumb and it’s okay to be self-loathing. It’s okay to HURT. 

You’re human. You’re going to. And if you try and avoid it, it will only hit you ten times harder.

What those people are suggestion when they ask you to think more positively is to essentially ignore the negative and focus on only one side, the bright side.

This isn’t to say succumb to those feelings. It’s only an encouragement to talk those things out. The place I’m working now just avoided a horrible incident of suicide because of auditory hallucinations with the same tactic. It took four days of a lot of talking, a lot of human connection, but to see the smile on someone’s face once more when they realize the people around them have helped them through the negativity, to realize that they themselves can survive when things are horribly rough, is priceless.

They don’t tell people “don’t think so negative”; they don’t tell people “It will help if you think more positively”. They don’t say “oh, sorry, you’re sick, this is your reality from now on”. They tell people “We’re here for you, you can make it through this, and let’s talk it out”.

No hospital intervention. No cops. No forced medication. Just human connection. 

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That one incident to me is greater than anything psychiatry or psychology has shown me thus far in my studies. 

It’s not about being negative or positive, it’s about acknowledging both and working through both.

Now all of you who didn’t believe me when I said mental “disorders” aren’t a disease, to those who didn’t believe me when I said it’s not only a “chemical imbalance”, to those of who you still believe you are doomed to live life stuck behind the idea of “mental illness”, I’ll be giving you various, very general (i.e, no names, or any information about people for confidentiality reasons) real life examples proving you wrong throughout the months, just like the one above.

The reason I say we’ve essentially fucked up by thinking negativity is something bad is we end up wanting to avoid it. We end up wanting it to leave us and trying to force it to leave us. We want it out and we want it gone. We just want to be happy.

But in all that muck we are unable to see by trying to force a part of humanity away from ourselves can easily get in the way of our own happiness. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to scream, then scream. If you want to talk to someone, talk. Get it out. Don’t ignore it, don’t leave it there to fester, don’t put yourself through more pain.

Negativity isn’t bad. It’s not something you should avoid or hate. It’s something you should embrace. It’s something you need to be comfortable with experiencing, or else life is going to be straight hell.

When it is present in your life, it is there for a reason. It’s your choice whether or not you want to ignore it and hope it will go away, or if you want to say “Well, here we go again” and work through it.

It won’t ever go away. You’re a human, not an inanimate object.

By today’s psychological standard, we practically need to be a robot with little feeling both negative or positive to be considered “normal”.

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This is Pepper, the “emotional” robot. With all the right emotions, at the appropriate times, with the appropriate intensity to their standards. This is what they want you to be. Here’s your role model kids, soak it up. 

So don’t be so negative about your negativity. It loves you. You need to learn to love it back.

Taoists will understand what I’m saying. It’s all about interconnectedness, am I right? No good without evil, no positive without negative. You need the definition of the other to know about its counterpart.

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Priceless

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I was told today “You have an awesome life”.

I paused before I answered, mostly because I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half when it takes me ten minutes to cross town normally. But I also paused to reflect on the last week, to think about the people I’ve met, the struggles they’ve been through, and the way I’ve been humbled this week within myself.

I’ve been humbled because I’ve realized how not alone I am. I’m humbled because I learned how valuable connection is and how valuable trust is. I’ve never trusted someone enough to tell them how much I don’t trust people.

I’m going to severely miss those connections. Although there are other ways to stay connected, it won’t be the same for me.

It’s been a very lonely existence in my life. I stick to my ground that I’m not a social person, I don’t care to have many friends. But this week speaking with people who understand, being able to talk about things like suicide and self injury without someone’s eyes growing wide and them saying “are you safe? do I need to call someone?” without giving me a chance to explain my feelings, is priceless.

Orangutans LaughingThere are things we can laugh about that someone without lived experience wouldn’t laugh at. And it’s a different kind of laughter for me, it’s a kind of laughter where you remember a time you were in that situation and you remember how you got out of it, and now when someone is sarcastic about it, you can see the humor in it.

To reiterate, it’s a very lonely existence. I don’t feel comfortable speaking about my issues to people who haven’t had them because I know their level of understanding can only be on an “I care for you level” rather than an “I care for you and I know how hard it is” level.

I met people with a lot of different diagnoses: anorexia, DID, Schizophrenia, Depression, anxiety, Bulimia, Bipolar, e.t.c. But the wonderful thing is we didn’t talk about those diagnoses. In fact, I didn’t know many of them until the last day. We talked about mania as a reaction. We talked about voices as a reaction.

I find it interesting when it comes to something like having multiple personalities that we recognize those voices and alters as a result of Trauma, but when someone hears voices with a schizophrenia diagnosis, there’s no possible way in hell their voices could be a result of inner pain or unexpressed emotion or trauma. That’s just preposterous! 

Just like the voices that come next to a diagnosis of depression psychosis. Oh, those voices are part of the psychosis, not the unrelenting pain, never, it’s biological remember?

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Also Not Common

I’m aware this view is not common, and I’ve never spent my life having common views so I can sit well with them and enjoy them. Other people may get offended. We talked about this as well.

There has to be a clear distinction with this stuff. I am very careful not to say that “mental illness does not exist” because people fly off the handle. So instead, I say the diagnoses of mental illness does not exist, in my opinion. Yes, I experience life a little different in a way than you. Yes, a crowd makes me so anxious and paranoid I lie to get out of going places and instead sit in my bed and wonder about people who don’t have that reaction.

Yes, I’ve hallucinated things briefly that frightened me. Spiders crawling on the wall, people running at my car, demons popping up in front of me, e.t.c.

Yes, I’ve self-harmed and wanted to kill myself many, many, many times.

Yes, there are days when I could conquer the world, when I have tons of ideas and want to execute them all and times when I’ve mapped out plans to do so all night long like a ritual then there are days I could easily drive my car off a cliff or put a gun to my head.

Yes, there are days I feel utterly empty and don’t know what to do about it, so I go drive my car all night, erratically, freak some other drivers out, and smoke weed and hope to get pulled over so the cop sees all the scars all over my body and I can give him a run for his money on whether or not I should go to the hospital.

Honestly, I feel like luck has kept me from the hospital.

Sometimes I feel like I’m three different people. Each of us has our own view of the world, our own way to act, and they each have their own opinion on how I should handle things.

There are many more things, but lets not bore each other here.

'Do you realize what ethics has cost us this year.'Now, who is to say that those things, the way I experience my life, is wrong? Take into account my only experience with drifting from reality is derealization, so I don’t necessarily know the fear and pain that goes into descending into full psychosis. But even then, there are ways to see psychosis and ways to think about it that relate to a way of expression, a way the brain tries to handle the world it lives in.

In fact, that’s how I see these things we called “disorders”. I see them as different ways our brain reacts to the world around us. Different interpretations of our own personal head space and our own lives. One person may see the color red, another person may feel like it’s more of a pink. One person likes the taste of cucumber, another person puckers at it. One person hates the smell of gas, another person, for some reason, enjoys it.

One person hallucinates a looming man while standing in the shower (taken from someone I met a few years back) and is tormented by it until the person is forced in the fetal position in the bottom of the tub; another person paints until the pain is gone.

Our brains are like finger prints. They will handle situations differently, they will react to situations differently. Does that warrant characterization? Does that warrant sending out the message that “your brain is broken, it’s sick, and so are you”? 

Well, your tongue is broken if you think black olives taste bad. You have a tongue disorder.

Vinegar is too strong a smell for you? Well, it’s not for the majority of people. Your nose has a disorder. It probably needs some surgery and some daily nasal spray.

You get my point.

So to reply to the first statement, yeah, you know what? My life is awesome. My struggles exist like everyone else’s and I am lucky enough to experience the world in a different way. To me, that’s also priceless.

 

Do It. Just Do It.

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If I had to choose my largest complaint about social anxiety, I’d have to say the way it twists my perception.

It makes me exaggerate the future to the proportions of an atom bomb detonation. Fuck curiosity, anticipation killed the cat.

That doesn’t make sense?

I don’t give two shits. I went to sleep at five thirty A.M and it is now 8.A.m and I was woken up by someone who doesn’t know how to respect other people by slamming my door against the wall and screaming about dishes.

You see I have a bad habit of snaking in the middle of the night. I will eat everything and anything and sometimes I use multiple dishes. It’s horrible. I don’t usually take them from my room until early morning. This morning I did so and one plate had syrup on it from some waffles. I was rinsing it off when my dad said he’d “take care of it if I wanted” so I left it in the sink.

Now here he comes slamming my door against the wall screaming about the dishes I didn’t rinse off. The dishes he said he didn’t mind taking care of, because he was doing them anyway. Those dishes.

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Then he turns up the stereo in the living room and sings at the top of his lungs.

Disrespect.

So it’s 8.a.m now and I’m having fun with my subwoofer and I give zero fucks if any of my metaphors make sense in this post.

If you don’t have social anxiety as a disorder than you probably don’t catch the jist of what I mean by anticipation killed the cat. I’ll give you a few examples.

When I first started high school, before I ever knew my behavior had a special name or label I took an Earth Science class full of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. The syllabus said there was a presentation project due at the end of the year.

I spent each night thinking about that project. Most nights were spent crying about it and similar things, and the few nights I didn’t cry I just destroyed the last bit of my confidence and self-esteem by berating myself because I felt guilty I couldn’t be like the other kids.

My teacher happened to have me in a college prep class as well and when we did mandala projects and mine was rather dark and disturbing (I swear I hadn’t planned it that way) he realized there were reasons for my silence and if not my silence, at least for my odd demeanor. He always asked how I was and always made conversation with me. When I showed up in the science class with a project at the end of the year, he stared and said “Oh, you actually have one?”

I said yep and I did that fucking presentation and it was one of the worst experience of my life and at the end of the year when grades closed I saw on my report that teacher gave me a massive amount of extra credit points.

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So I got special treatment in the end. But the year up until that date was torture; it was on my mind every day, every moment, along with all the other horrible social things I was forced to do in that educational prison. This was before I researched my own symptoms and realized I had a problem that could be coped with better than how I was coping.

I won’t go into detail about the four years it took to convince my mother I was suffering.

Being in the advanced classes with all the rich white kids talking about their summer trips to Paris didn’t help either. There’s no equality in these schools. Hispanics are encouraged into the college prep classes (no, in my town they’re not the minority so stop), white kids are encouraged into the advanced classes, and the rest of us? If we look Hispanic we’re lucky enough to get into the college prep (my life story) but if not you’re fucked. They’ll preach “no kid left behind” and then choose specific ones to leave behind.

Why was I in the advanced classes? Because I knew my brain and I knew I wouldn’t survive in the regular classes. I’d blow them off.

What I’ve learned is people love words. They love words that make them sound good and smart. But their words are never backed up by intention or action. I hate when people say “well, the intentions were good.”

The intentions can’t be good when they’re lying through their teeth. The intentions can’t be good when they’re an illusion. That invalidates their intentions.

img_5292Anyway, anticipation of social events is always worse than the actual event. Always. I know this and yet I still get that bubbling pit of uncertainty and overwhelming despair in my stomach. Where am I going to sit this week? I don’t want to come in between people’s friendships so I should get their early and let everyone sit around me who wants to. But if I get there early I risk having to have a conversation with the professor, or rather sit there awkwardly and try to shove words from my mouth like a toddler with two tongues. When people start filing in the classroom I’ll have to glance at them and feel like an idiot when they look away quicker than I do–did I do something wrong? On my face? My expression? They just know how uncomfortable I am and it’s the end of the semester now, they already know how odd I am. When no one sits next to me–oh shit, I’m going to be stuck at this table by myself of course, I’m the outcast as usual. Great. Jolly. Look how stupid I look.

It’s just constant scrutiny of one particular moment in time. It replays over and over and the closer it gets to the date the stronger it gets. That’s when the urges come. The urges to skip class or weasel my way out of something surge. Sometimes I give in, other times I don’t. Sometimes I have to lie, sometimes not. When I’m at that seemingly uncontrollable level of anxiety I will manipulate whoever I have to in whatever way possible to make sure I don’t have to leave this room. I know how lies work. They’re powerful.

It’s like an addiction; it is an addiction.

Anticipation is one thing, but then you have to deal with the borderline paranoia. At least, I do. When I’m in a room of people I’m convinced without a doubt people talk about me. I’ve said this before. I keep saying it because it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my social anxiety.

thanks-for-constantly-talking-about-me-behind-my-back-youre-right-where-you-belong-behind-me-enemy-quoteI know they talk about me. I know they ask each other why I am the way I am (I guess I think I present myself differently than others and I probably do) and I know they ask each other why I’m such an arrogant, rude, prick. I know one of the women in my classes, the one who stares–I know damn well she has something to say about me to her fucking friends. I believed she’d read this blog and if I’m being 100% honest, I’m still not convinced she hasn’t.

I see disgust and judgment in expressions that aren’t there. I see it and I feel it and I can’t help but fall to the feet of it. I hear lies in their words and their tone and I trust no one. Why would I have a reason to? I know I’m seen as lazy and stupid and a coward to be sitting in my room all day like there’s something physically wrong with me, like I have a  real reason to be housebound, and when I ask people if that’s what they think and they look at me with that bewilderment in their eyes and their voice I know they’re lying.

It’s uncomfortable to walk outside or be outside or be around people. Yes, I cope, yes I push myself out of my comfort zone but most days I appreciate the fact that I can snuggle in this fuzzy robe and not have to say a word to any stupid fucker for days upon days.

This semester has been a rollercoaster in a horror game. My moods were all over the place but for the last month and a half they seem to have been quelled by something. The calm before the storm? A result of all the work I’ve been putting into my mental health over the last two years?

I don’t know.

I do know last week I had enough confidence to speak with my group and share ideas. This week, because I am now running on two and a half hours of sleep, I give zero fucks about all of them. Zero fucks. Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, and don’t you dare try to talk to me in baby voice or act like you know what I go through just because you were “shy” in elementary school.

I dare a bitch to call me shy.

Do it.

I could use a fight.

Lemme Snap A Pic Guuuurrrllll

Now that I got my camera I’m going to go crazy.

Of course, the one day I get it, the one day when the sun is out and I have energy and I want to go and hike and walk and snap shots of shit, it has to be windy and cold as hell.

But I’m not going to complain. I’m going to get up early tomorrow morning, see what there is to see, and snap some shots and have some fun.

Meet Charlie:

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Casually ignore the GTA 5 game down there.

As you can see by the bullshit quality in this horribly positioned photo, I do not own another DSLR. That’s my 8mp phone camera. Can you feel my pain now?

I know the D3300 is not the best DSLR (don’t tear me apart with all your impressive camera knowledge), but for right now it works perfect. Besides, does it look like I have the money to pay for a three thousand dollar camera? I’m even stuck with a 18-55mm lens right now. I’m not rich. But I feel completed. I’ve wanted a camera like this since I was in middle school. Photography isn’t just about taking pictures. There’s lighting, there’s angles, there’s objects, there’s effects . . . there’s so much creativity and so much eye for natural beauty that goes into it. Not to mention all the interesting things you can manipulate with Photoshop. Now, I’m not into making people’s faces look more “beautiful” or taking a shit ton of cuts of random women and putting them into one face photo to make a woman who doesn’t exist and put her in a magazine to sell my Falafel mix. But I am interested in what you can create with your photos or illustrations.

There’s more money in it than you think. If you’re lucky and talented.

Money isn’t my focus, as you can guess. It’s highly unlikely anyway. I enjoy doing what I enjoy, but if mobs of other people happen to enjoy it as well, then hey, pay up. Happiness isn’t free motherfucker. Some people have to pay for Medical school.

Looking at this computer screen, listening to this sub-woofer by my feet shaking the apartment complex, and now petting my new buddy Charlie (Eh, lame name, I gotta think of another one. No offense if your name is Charlie) makes me extremely thankful that I’m able to buy what I want, what I need to fuel my passions, and thankful that I have the time to nurture my talents. Days like these I think about all the children fighting just to survive, whether it be against disease or starvation, the ones who won’t live to my age to find their passion. I think about the adults who also fight to survive and won’t live to continue their passion or see their children grow. It’s for their memory and their spirits that I don’t ever submit to the darkness, and I don’t ever forget about how resilient I’ve been up to this point. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about being strong for those who’ve lost the fight. Not just your mother, not just your nephew or your sister, but for everyone, for the ones you don’t know and you’ll never meet.

Many of us have lost a lot in our lives and as much as people like to claim they’ve gotten closure, that loss will always be with you. It doesn’t have to drag you down, but it will be there. Therefore to recreate and capture the beauty in life, to describe it in words, to strum it on a guitar, to play it in video, to snap a shot of one moment out of a million others, is making art out of our loss. Making art is appreciating and appreciating is remembering the value of who we are. To remember the value of who we are is to align ourselves with our soul and to find the ultimate truth. It’s not a coincidence art is so prevalent and valued in our society.

I notice a lot of people focus on the negative. That sounds cliche, but it’s not. I mean they spew it out of their mouths at a constant rate. But let me tell you something that should be fairly obvious: what you put out is what you get back. If all you ever talk about is negativity, that’s all you’re going to receive. From yourself mostly, but from others as well. You’re going to attract other people who are constantly negative and you’re going to see a mirror image of yourself and you’re not going to like it.

Sorry, I had to.

Yes, I’m talking about depression too. Don’t blame depression for your negativity, that’s playing a victim card. I’m depressed more often than not but I don’t always write about it. If I do, I try to avoid saying “Ug, life is so horrible, no one cares about me” and all that kind of stuff. It’s one thing to get supportive feedback. It’s another thing to constantly remind yourself that no one cares about you. If you’re constantly saying that than you must not care much for yourself and if you don’t well, there’s your main problem. Fuck depression, you have an issue with yourself.

If you’re thinking like that, you’re in some deep pain. Focus on loving yourself before you start wishing other people cared about you. Other people do care about you, it’s just hard to care for someone who doesn’t ever care for themselves and who blatantly expresses that fact.

Life is so amazing it makes you feel as bad as it’s made you feel good, and not many things have that power. Appreciate mental health issues, they make you stronger than your neighbor without mental health issues will ever be. They make you see life through a different lens (a 70-300mm perhaps?) and that makes your views spectacularly valuable. As much as it beats you down, it teaches you how to stand tall, and the harder you fight it that harder you fight against yourself. Just like there’s a particular way to fall to avoid serious injury, there’s a particular way to struggle to avoid serious injury; learn how to struggle, not how to not struggle.

I’ll just leave you with a few words from Paula Gunn-Allen:

“We all know who lives near the railroad tracks: the cast-offs, the unmodern, the traditionals, the ones who cannot belong to a society that has no time for things of the spirit, and whose attitude toward human and animal life is one of exploitation. But a warrior does not forget, even in the midst of devastation, where she comes from. She does not forget that beauty is what we have, what we share, what gives human beings diginity.”

Be a warrior, not a victim.