Monday, September 25, 2017

Tales of depression and shared darkness

There's this girl I know who shall remain nameless that I want to tell you a little about today.

We aren't friends. In fact, when we first met, we were enemies. We didn't like each other at all. She bitched at and about me, I bitched at and about her, and we even had to be mediated like 5 year olds who couldn't share their toys. But over time, we learned to tolerate and get along with each other a little bit. I still wouldn't say that I like her, but upon closer inspection, I have a really profound and interesting reason for that. 

She shares so many of the qualities and characteristics I hate about myself.

Knowing her is like looking into a mirror that only shows you the ugliest parts of yourself. Perhaps that's the case with everyone we have a problem with. We have a problem with them because they show us our worst selves and we don't like it. So we crucify and belittle them to avoid acknowledging that maybe we're not so different. 

The other day, this girl admitted to me that she struggles with anxiety and depression, but it wouldn't take rocket science to figure as much. I so clearly see her pain when I look at her. There's a darkness in her that has grown progressively worse in recent weeks, much like my own. She seems so unhappy and lost, much like I've been told I do. Her eyes are a million miles away, much like mine. She moves slowly, much like me. She struggles to focus, much like I often do. 

But if you compared her life and mine, you probably wouldn't understand why I share her depression or the qualities that make her a difficult person to care for. She has a complicated home life, her best friend died in a car accident a few months ago, she's struggling financially, and her boyfriend is a piece of shit (in my opinion). I have a peaceful home life, my best friend is still alive and thriving, I'm financially comfortable, and I have a wonderful boyfriend. But I still went through one of the darkest bouts of depression I've ever experienced this month. I even drafted a post here detailing my suicidal thoughts and ultimately deleted it because it was just too heavy, too disturbing, too much. 

My point, although I'm taking awhile to formulate it, is that depression doesn't care if you make good money or have a really nice boyfriend. It can still devour you and throw the little parts of your life that are less pleasing in your face. And while I may have a seemingly perfect/ideal life to some people, my life is far from perfect. I have things going on that I don't know how to process or cope with and thoughts and emotions swirling around inside of me that make me feel like I'm losing my mind. I have days where I don't see myself living past the age of 30, much less 40. I look at my future, and it looks like a long and winding road with occasional rays of sunlight to bask in, but mostly just a lot of exhausting and meaningless footsteps that forever lead to nothing in particular. I don't like feeling that way, but I do. I don't understand it, but it persists.  

That's what depression is. It's profound heaviness and existential dread. And so many different kinds of people struggle with it, no matter their back story. And I felt compelled to write about this nameless girl because I find it interesting how we walk such different paths, yet somehow land in the same place over and over again.  

I saw her last night sitting Indian style on a sidewalk, smoking a cigarette and looking completely defeated. Her boyfriend was 30 minutes late picking her up. Mine was 30 minutes early.

For some reason, I woke up this morning with that image of her burned into my brain. Maybe because it mirrored all the times that I too have sat on the ground alone, defeated and waiting to be picked up.

<3 Madison        

Monday, August 21, 2017

Wise reminder from a wise soul

I had a conversation with an older and wiser man the other day, moments after I walked out on a job I couldn't see myself keeping or enjoying. (It was a second job...I'm not unemployed again, don't worry.) And although I can't recall what he said to me verbatim, it was something along the lines of this:

"If you don't wanna do something, don't do it. Don't worry about what these people think or what anyone thinks. You wanna know why? 'Cause you're the one who's gotta live with it."

I love that. I especially love it because I used to live by that notion, but have since fallen a bit short.

The truth is, I care pretty deeply what other people think about me and have an acute fear of being judged. I usually make decisions based on what I believe will please others, and if I make unconventional decisions to please myself, I often feel unnecessarily ashamed and embarrassed.

I left this second job feeling a bit deflated because everyone told me I should work both, even though that was never my desire or intention. They said it wouldn't hurt to save up some extra money and keep myself busier. (I will forever be baffled by society's obsession with busyness.) Of course, these people had good intentions, which is often the case. But I didn't take the job for any of those reasons. I took it to try something different and see if I might possibly enjoy it enough to make a switch from my first job. I quickly concluded that my first job was the superior choice, so not wanting to waste my time or anyone else's, I left. And people probably disapproved in some capacity.

But that last conversation I had before climbing in my car and driving away was exactly what I needed to hear to quiet the voice of disapproval in my own head.

If you don't wanna do something, don't do it. 

I love my work schedule. I love the money I make, the hours I work, and the time I have off to spend with my writing, my loved ones, and myself. I may not have the fattest of paychecks, but I have everything I need and more. I'm not struggling. I make good financial decisions - probably way better decisions than most people in my age group. At this point in my life, I am lucky enough to be completely taken care of. I do not regret my decision to leave the second job because it was in fact what I wanted.

It's okay to do what you want and not do what you don't want, as long as you go about it the right way. Your life is yours and yours alone, and no one has to live with the choices you make except you. If you disappoint people along the way, so what? They will get over it.

Just a friendly reminder for today and every day.

<3 Madison  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sorry for being the writer who disappeared.

I read this wonderful and beautifully detailed article the other day, and it gave me a thought: a lot of really talented and promising writers/bloggers mysteriously disappear or fade into the background, don't they?

Yes, you could say I am one of them.

When I first dove into writing, I was all over the place. I was featured on many of my favorite websites, and my posts garnered a good bit of attention. I published my own eBook, and my work has appeared in print four times. I freelanced for a variety of clients and websites. I was full of passion and ideas. I felt like I had found my place in the world and nothing could stop me.

But somewhere down the line, I started to fade away. My life changed, and my attitude changed with it. Writing got hard, and making money off of it was even harder. I got discouraged and weak. I had my heart broken, and sometimes I wonder if that experience was my final muse.

I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what went wrong, but all signs seem to point to my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression. Although these struggles do not define me, they are very much a part of my day-to-day existence. It's hard to write when I'm engulfed by my insecurities, apathy, self-hatred, and a looming sense of monotony. It's hard to utilize my time when I waste so much of it simply trying to put one foot in front of the other and have a normal day.

So I disappear a lot. Along with the hoards of other talented artists who have so much to express and so few mental and emotional tools to do so. It's a paradox.

And guess what? Nearly every single writer/blogger I've followed, looked up to, and/or been inspired by over the last 6 years has disappeared in some capacity. Some of them have given up. Some of them have chosen a different path. Some of them have lost their way. And some of them are being held captive by the beast that is mental illness.

I'm sorry for being the writer who disappeared. I'm sorry if you have clicked over to my blog to find nothing new when you hoped to find otherwise. I'm sorry if I have disappointed or confused you with my frequent dry spells. I'm sorry if I have not lived up to the version of myself you see when you read my writing. I'm sorry if I have failed to provide you with the doses of inspiration you have come to depend on.

I write this in hopes that you will understand.

Sometimes I have a really hard time unlocking the best version of myself. Sometimes it takes almost every bit of energy I have to simply make the bed, wash the dishes, run errands, feed myself, clean myself, enjoy myself (never mind write). Sometimes I think I'm the worst and everything I do sucks. Sometimes I can't show up.

Please read the article I shared above, for the writer of it explains this better than I ever could.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On true love, detachment, and being a good human

Monday was one of the most stressful, emotional, challenging and bittersweet days I've been through so far this year (for reasons I'd prefer to keep relatively private). In a nutshell, I was put into a highly stressful and comprising situation by people I trusted and had to act fast to do the right thing, even though it wasn't the easiest thing.

Details aside, perhaps we can all relate to being in a situation like this. We've all been betrayed. We've all had to act quickly instead of thinking slowly. We've all had to put our selfish needs and desires aside for the sake of doing the absolute best thing for the absolute best creature, whether animal or human. (In my case, it was an animal.) We've all been in situations that have put life, love and humanity into perspective. We've all had the wind knocked out of us in the best and worst ways.

So ever since the incident in question, I have been consciously working hard to be an overall better human being and put some important lessons into practice. I want to share my thoughts here, in hopes that they will help you do the same.

On true love:

True love is selfless and works tirelessly to make the object of your affection or admiration feel as happy and secure as they possibly can. My boyfriend, my mother, and a new and wonderful friend of mine were my rock when I was going through what I went through this week. They all taught me about love. They all jumped to my rescue and soothed my fears. They all made me realize that I was doing the right thing for the object of MY affection at that moment in time. And they all made me want to love bigger and better than I've been doing lately.

If you love something, you must be selfless and steadfast. You must work hard and be better. You must treasure who and what you love with every fiber your being is capable of giving. And when you can do those things without question, THAT is true love.

On detachment:

Attachment is my middle name. My whole life, I have become attached to people, animals, material belongings, ideas, ways of life, and ways of thinking. I don't like change, and I really don't like losing things that once brought me comfort and familiarity. But you know what? That's life. Change is literally constant. It's a train that never stops going. And where there is change, there is some degree of loss if you're as delicate and fragile as I am.

I had to detach myself this week in the name of being selfless and exercising true love. I would've done it anyway, but the only thing even remotely upsetting me about it was that I had to detach. Because detachment is hard. It makes me sad, and sometimes I stay sad for a really long time. But sadness, like everything else, is temporary too.

So let go, detach if you must, and take comfort in the fact that the chips of life and love will always fall exactly where they belong...even if it takes them awhile to get there.  

On being a good human:

I witnessed good humans turn into bad humans this week, and it would be an understatement to say that was a hard and unfortunate thing to watch. Perhaps I've been in denial or ignorance of their true character all along, but I digress.

I really do wanna see the best in people in a world filled with assholes. I feel everything so deeply, and I just don't want to be all the more burdened by the thought of how many people are just plain terrible. But I work in the food business (HA!) and I live in the real world, so I can't always shield myself from rude, careless, selfish and cruel human beings. But what I can do is be a better person myself. I can do the right thing, choose love over hate, and be kind and understanding to the best of my ability.

You can't change other people, but you can change yourself.

You can be better.

<3 Madison  
   

Monday, July 10, 2017

Impermanence

Nothing is permanent.

This has been a recurring theme in my life this year, and it's nice to finally put it out in front of me after months of struggling to do so.

I don't like change, but I've experienced it in such abundance this year that I've become nearly paralyzed with apathy and inaction in response...As if refusing to actively participate in or accept said changes will somehow save me from further loss and disappointment.

I moved out of a home I lived in for 24 years. I've had and loved pets since I was 7 years old, and I now live in an apartment that won't allow them. My younger brother, whom I have been inseparable with since he was born, is moving 845 miles away. My job is changing. My body is changing. My bills are getting higher. There are people I used to be attached to like glue that I either barely talk to now or don't talk to at all anymore.

And to state the obvious, this is the first blog post I've written in two months. What's worse is that I'm not even sure if I want to be a professional writer anymore. I've said this out loud, and the words feel strange coming out of my mouth every time.

I'm not trying to say that change is bad or that impermanence is devastating. It can be of course, but it's also completely inevitable. It's been said and preached millions of times before, but I've floated through my life for years with the belief that if I stayed still and lived simply, I wouldn't be swept away by the waves of change. But now impermanence is the story of my life. And I've realized that if I continue to stay still and live simply, life and people will go on without me. I have no control over any of it.

I'm at a point in my life where I just really need to ask myself the hard questions and wonder if my reaction to the aforementioned changes has led to growth or failure. Or if this latest breakdown is merely a sign of a forthcoming breakthrough.

As always, I will write about it all.

<3 Madison

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This is what I wrote today.

"You're gonna write today," my boyfriend sternly told me over the phone. "And you're gonna show me what you wrote when I get home or I will dirty up every single dish in the apartment."

A rather motivating threat right there.

I don't know what's wrong with me lately. Every time I sit down to write, nothing happens. I usually just end up browsing blogs for inspiration before ultimately calling it a day. And hating myself.

I've been hating myself for the last three hours, if not the last three weeks. The whole reason I wanted to quit my job was so I could write more - so I could pursue my "passion." But every time I have the opportunity, I don't do it. This is an indescribably frustrating thing for me, and that's precisely why I don't do it. Because I know I'm gonna sit down and try harder than I've ever needed to and that whatever I do write is gonna flop and I'm gonna spend the rest of the day wishing I was dead because I'm not really living anyway, right?

Yet here I am, writing something like I promised. I considered finishing a piece I started the other day, but decided it was way too personal to be published. I considered getting back to work on the novel I haven't touched in 6 months or that other book I haven't touched in 5. But no matter what, I always end up here. Right where I started when I was 19 and full of promise and certainty that this was my path in life. I feel safe here. I can be honest here.

I don't know what to tell you guys, and I especially don't know what to tell myself. Maybe my life is in a relatively good place right now and it's hard to find inspiration when I'm happy/comfortable. Maybe I'm distracted by bigger things like where I'll be working by the end of the year and my impending trip to see my brother, whom I haven't seen in three very long months. Maybe I need to try harder and dig deeper to find the stories that still need to be told. Maybe the only remotely noteworthy things that have been happening in my life lately are just too personal for anyone else's eyes, therefore I can't write about them.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. That's all I ever have to say for myself.

But at least I wrote something today.

<3 Madison

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Life lately

Hello friends.

These last few weeks have been eventful, confusing, and a bit ironic. They have made me second guess the beliefs I've always held about the way life unfolds. Maybe life is simply made up of choices and coincidences, and some of them only seem serendipitous. Maybe there's no such thing as knowing something will turn out okay before it's turned out any type of way at all.

I say all of this because a few weeks ago, I put in my resignation notice at a job that wasn't making me happy anymore. This was a huge decision and a huge risk for me. I had to talk myself into it after weeks of becoming progressively angrier, stressed, and so depleted I would lie in bed and stare at the wall or the ceiling for over an hour before getting up every morning. My life felt like a lie. I felt like I was running on a hamster wheel without actually getting anywhere, my only reward being the money I was making. I felt like a cog in the machine of society, working full-time at a job I never intended to work full-time.

It sounds dramatic, and maybe it is. But I've been different from everybody else and a rebel to society my whole life. I was letting life happen to me instead of making life happen. And due to the familiarity with my job and my ability to comfortably pay the bills, I had no real motivation to leave.

So I quit. With no plan B and only a faint idea of what I was doing, I worked out a two weeks notice and came home from work on my last day with the obvious assumption that I wouldn't go back. But I kept my work clothes and accessories within reach, just in case. Because as hard as I tried to fight it, I had my doubts and my fears. These were worsened by people telling me I made a mistake. By spending almost $4000 on my first vehicle three days after leaving my job. By my mom telling me and urging me to go back to work, to make money, to do the right thing, to build a good life, to not struggle like she did. And then Friday morning, I received a call from my district manager asking me to come back. They needed me. They missed me. They wanted to know what they could do to help me have a better, less stressful experience working for them. And as I stood there in my underwear with no job and more than half the money I'd saved up no longer in my account, how could I say no?

So here I am, trying to enjoy my last few days off and accomplish what I can before returning to the very place that made me realize I wanted more out of life. I sound bitter and whiny about it, but I'm not. I didn't write this post so I could whine and complain. I do need the money. I don't have to start over or train or be given hours I don't want. My managers are letting me come back, no questions asked, and pick up right where I left off. And they are willing to meet me halfway by letting me work 3 days instead of 5 until I find another job. That gives me 4 free days to write, job hunt, and do what I want to do. So it's a good deal, and I'm thankful for it. I just wish it didn't feel like such a step back after all the thought, planning and faith I put into leaving in the first place.

But who knows? Maybe it's not a step back, but simply an indicator that my shoes aren't ready for the next step forward. Maybe my old job isn't done with me yet. Maybe I needed to step away for a couple of weeks and discover who I am when I'm not a waitress. Maybe going back to work part-time will be an extremely positive thing and just what I need. Maybe the universe is simply trying to tell me that 5 days was too much, but 3 days is just right.

I don't know. But I will say that my old job has given me a lot, including my future husband. And I refuse to even consider that he was just a coincidence. So maybe I have more to gain. And a whole lot more to learn.

Time will tell.

<3 Madison