Don’t Call Me Crazy

“Wouldn’t they be better off without me? What if I just stayed in my house and stopped responding to texts and phone calls? Deleted all social media? Then I would never have to explain myself, worry about saying or doing something inappropriate or have to go on some kind of apology tour.”

These are the thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis. I am just so tired. Tired of trying to be “normal”. Tired of trying to socialize when my brain is screaming at me to leave. Tired of leaving every situation involving crowds of people feeling like I’m about to hyperventilate. Tired of needing so much rest just to prepare for and recover from every outing.

I feel like an oddball. A social outcast. A recluse. I can’t pull myself out of it no matter how hard I try. I lack the energy to maintain relationships that used to come easy for me. I want to tell friends and family, “I love you, but I just can’t.”

There is no such thing as a comfort zone for me anymore, unless you count my bed, I suppose. The entire world feels uncomfortable to some extent. Nature is truly the best place outside of my bedroom, but even that poses a threat when there are a lot of other patrons.

My skin is crawling with rapid-firing nerves almost continuously. I unconsciously clinch my jaw most of the time.  My brain is thinking, and rethinking, and rethinking, and rethinking…

I am so jaded and cynical for the vast majority of my time, but then, sometimes I start over-sharing. I start spending a lot of money. I start looking for something to either maintain this feeling of being well-put-together or to knock me out in order to escape the comedown. I start chasing euphoria that can not be extended. I feel invincible for a second. Brash, sassy, sexy, an object of affection, a golden prize, a glittering star.

And maybe I am all of those things (except invincible, of course), but the feeling inside me is artificial because I don’t believe it. I know I don’t believe it, but, God, if I could just make it last, how wonderful would that be…

But I wake the next day trying to undo any damage I’ve caused. Not always easy. I’ve made so many stupid mistakes, which just ultimately increases my feelings of resentment towards myself. I’ve done things that are totally out-of-character for me, and then severely reprimanded myself for it.

But I’m still here. Still self-aware. I know this behavior is extremely unhealthy for me. I still make strides forward, despite my stumbles back.

At this point, I know I’m not doing well trying to handle it on my own, so I’ve reached out for help, which is truly the smartest, strongest thing I could have done. To admit that I still need a lot of work; To know that I can’t put the pieces back together alone, but to never lose hope for myself has twisted me around and pointed me back in the right direction.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please know that you are not alone. I may not know you, but I am thinking about you and sending you love. The connectedness of the world can be a bad thing, but it can also be oh so good, allowing us to find others that are experiencing similar issues, even though they may be halfway around the world. That is empowerment for us all. That is how we start to heal.

What Is It Like?

“One size fits all” does not exist for physical and mental health. There can be similar characteristics, but no two cases are exactly alike.

So what is my depression like? Scratch that. What are my depression and anxiety like?

It’s difficulty sleeping at night and staying awake during the day.

It’s having a wacky appetite and never knowing if I’m going to feel like eating or not, and when I do, It’s being unsure if my mental state plus the food I ate will give me a horrible stomachache.

It’s fighting just to maintain basic hygiene during a bout. It’s celebrating when simply taking a shower and brushing my teeth don’t wipe me out.

It’s wanting to have enough energy to do the things I’d like to do, but seldom making that wish true.

It’s feeling overwhelmed to the point that I must sleep, but letting my anxiety beat the shit out of me for promises that I can’t keep.

It’s a constant struggle and eliminating tasks when it’s too much to juggle.

It’s lying in bed with extremities of lead, but still feeling nerve impulses under my skin and no way to stop the vibrations within.

It’s wanting to connect and find community but allowing fear to ruin every opportunity.

But there is hope because I’ve found ways to cope. During times when things become to intense, I call on nature, music and writing to come to my defense.

Artist in The Making

I only recently started to think of myself as an artist. To me, I was just writing words on paper or pointing a camera and taking a picture; something just about anyone can do. But then it dawned on me that it wasn’t the action that was artistic, but the thought behind it. How I composed the words or the shot. Having a unique, creative eye and mind that sets me apart from the rest.

I’m still not completely comfortable using the word in most company. It’s a mere whisper to those who I know accept me as such. It’s difficult to throw the gears of thought into reverse after spending the vast majority of your life believing you don’t have a creative bone in your body, but like that which is now my Labor of Love, I am a work in progress.

I think we always possess some form of self-doubt. A gut-wrenching fear that we are nothing more than a talent-less hack. But when it is replaced with a new kind of fear, that of rejection, right before releasing your heart on a page or in a frame for the world to see, then you know. You know you are an artist. And I am.

Just Let It Flow

It’s been far too long since my last post. I’ve been feeling very uninspired, and everything that comes to mind seems to be dead in the water. But as any creative mind will tell you, inspiration can not be forced. It’s actually quite a paradox. The harder you search for it, the less you will find. Of course, having anxiety doesn’t make this situation any easier because the more time that passes without an inkling to write, the more I freak out because I convince myself that it is never coming back.

I should know better by now. I spent 20+ years with little to no interest in writing after suffering burnout from essay writing in college, amongst other issues, but suddenly it found me again last year. To think that it was gone, never to return, is ridiculous, but that is what I am when I let the anxiety take hold: ridiculous. So, instead of spending time looking for something that I can’t actually find and getting so worked up that I drag myself down, I decided to take a deep breath, relax, and let life happen, but always keep my eyes open; if it is going to find me again, it will, but if not, I already lived the majority of my life without it, so c’est la vie.

In the meantime, I thought I would write this blog post in a way of helping others who might be experiencing the same issue out. Then it dawned on me that deciding to write a poem and blog post about a lack of inspiration is inspiration in and of itself. And so the paradoxical plot thickens.

But before I get stuck in my own self-produced slurry, let me just get to my point: don’t get too stressed out if you’re lacking inspiration. One thing I have definitely learned in this life is that if you have a creative mind, you always will. Even if it isn’t exactly what you were doing before, the urge to create something will return. So go with the old cliché and ‘go with the flow’.


On a side note, I wanted to let everyone know that my second book, Reclaiming My Flame, is complete, and I have entered it in a contest sponsored by Milkweed Publishing. IF I win (*fingers crossed*), they will publish it for me.

The contest doesn’t close until October 15th, and I won’t know anything for sure until February 2022, but I will let you guys in on any news as soon as I find out.

As always, thank you to everyone for the love and support; it means the world to me.

Sexually Awakened

(Part 2 of Previous Post)

I know it’s been several weeks since my last post, but I am now prepared to write a continuation of it. I’ve been really putting myself out there since writing that. I’ve been giving a couple dating apps a serious effort to see what I could find. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and analysis to determine what it is that I’m really looking for in a “love connection” because I don’t want to lead anyone on too strongly, nor do I want to push myself further than I am able to go right now. So I’m playing the field. Getting a feel for what’s out there. Of course, that includes exploring my sexuality, which has been severely overlooked up to this point.

I’m certain that I am not really telling anyone something that they don’t already know when I say that dating is a complete shit show at any age, but there seems to be a whole other level of strangeness when you are attempting to start over again at an age when most people are settled down with a family, especially if you don’t have at least some semblance of that, i.e. children.

All too often, I’ve come across profiles of married couples looking to add a third, which is definitely not what I’m looking for, or people who let you know at some point that they are still married. I don’t want to be another participant in some weird family dynamic, and I don’t want to help anyone cheat on their significant other. That is not what I’m about.

On the other hand, I am not really looking for a long-term, tied-down commitment. I have come to enjoy my independence, and I’m not going to give that up. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in committed relationships that more or less left me worse than before, so I have come to appreciate my time alone.

So, what’s left? Scouring through all the hay and attempting to find the needle. That one person who can provide friendship along with intimacy that I so desire, but still allow me to be free to continue growing into who I am and will become. I have had a few hit and misses, which was to be expected, but I am definitely starting to narrow the search, all the while enjoying myself and having some fun with it. Now that my confidence has finally built up to any acceptable level, I am at a point where I can put myself out there more comfortably, accept rejection with my head held high and ask for what I want without the guilt or regret.

Sexually Awkward

Okay. I can’t believe that I am going to share this, but here goes nothing: I suffer from what I would call “Sexual Awkwardness”. I’m not comfortable with other people seeing me naked, which I know is quite common, but mine goes beyond just that. I have serious anxiety when I find myself in sexual situations, and anything negative that I experience during this time will cause me to unconsciously repress any sexual desire I feel for that person unless it is addressed. My mind will literally hang on to that one negative occurrence and force the thought upon me when I am intimate with that person, thus killing any would-be pleasure that I could possibly have.

I honestly don’t know exactly how it all started because I can remember feeling anxious and guilty about sexual thoughts from a very early age. If I were to witness anyone in the act, even on television, I would get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Of course, it didn’t help that several boys in my neighborhood and at school would call me ugly or make fun of my height because I have always been taller than a lot of them.

My first sexual interactions were awkward and unpleasant, which just helped to exacerbate how I already felt about sex. My partners would either make me feel bad about wanting it too much, or they would try to get me to do things that I wasn’t comfortable with, which would cause me to become more or less frigid with them. The whole act became mechanical and meaningless to me.

No one that I had a relationship with cared enough to talk to me about what I was going through or try to help me until I met my late husband. Unfortunately, we didn’t start addressing my problems until we found out that his brain cancer had returned. He felt an urgent need to correct all the wrongs and start living a fuller life, but that urgency didn’t start soon enough because he died shortly after we began talking about everything, and no action was ever taken, which he deeply regretted at the end of his life.

After living through all of that, I am now bound and determined to live the happiest, healthiest life possible, which means tackling all the mental challenges I have had, including this particular one. Of course, trying to once again jump back into the dating game after being out of it for 10 years has proven to be quite difficult.

The extremely connected yet woefully disconnected cyberworld of today is really not my cup of tea. I prefer something a bit more traditional. In other words, sending me a dick pic right off the bat is not going to fly with me. One situation that I recently experienced put a bad taste in my mouth surrounding that whole “trend”.

Although that debacle almost sent me back into my shell, I am forcing myself to remain out in the open. I never want to regress to the way that I was and undo all the progress that I have made so far. I want to move forward, keep trying, face rejection, if need be, speak up whenever I have a serious problem such as this one and never settle for something that is pitifully lacking compared to what I had in mind.

Who Am I Now?

Being widowed in your forties puts you in a unique position. Granted, this is definitely not the first time that I have had to pick myself up, dust myself off and begin again, but it is the first time that I have seriously struggled to define my place in the world and determine what my future will look like. I have no children, so I don’t identify as a mother, I no longer work outside the house, so I am not a laborer and now that my husband is dead, I am not a wife. So, Who am I now?

I am in a situation where I get to decide that for myself, but it’s not as fun or easy as it sounds. I have a difficult time relating to a lot of people my own age because unlike them, I am unsettled. I am stirred. I am anxious. I am ready to live again, but not sure where to begin. Some days I take steps forward, but others I just sit and stew.

There are so many differing parts of me at any given time, it’s almost impossible to bring them all into alignment, but I am trying my hardest. Time in nature, writing and photography have brought me so much clarity that I always try to incorporate these elements into each day.

But the nights are typically full of depression, loneliness and anxiety about the future. A part of me wants so badly to find love again, but at the same time, I want to be content alone. I don’t know if I will ever be fully ready for all the hassle and heartbreak of dating again. Even though I go back and forth on this issue a lot, I know the absolute best thing I can do is to determine my own path, stay on it and if I happen to meet someone along the way, so be it. Nothing good ever comes from attempting to force things to happen, and I have seen enough of the online dating scene to know that it’s not really for me.

So where do I go from here? The choices are limitless, but I have to choose, which is the tricky part. Just pondering that question while I go on existing isn’t going to take me anywhere, and I do want to go. Release all these self-imposed constraints and cut loose. Live like there is no tomorrow because we never know when that statement will prove to be true.

Stop Stigmatizing & Start Supporting

I couldn’t let Mental Health Awareness Month pass by without writing about my own struggles. As some of you may already know, I suffer from depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and some pretty severe social anxiety. It’s a part of me that I cannot eliminate completely, but I have learned to accept it and manage it to the best of my ability. Medication helps to bring the severity down a couple notches, and through therapy and frequent self-evaluation, I have developed strategies that help me cope with my mental illnesses.

Mental illness doesn’t take a day off, but some are definitely worse than others. Emotionally charged days. Days I have been guilty of speaking and behaving rashly because my emotions have taken full control. They are getting better because I have come to recognize them quickly and periodically remind myself of my current mental state to prevent myself from making any important decisions or taking any major actions that I am bound to regret when things begin to level back out.

It honestly doesn’t make it any easier, though. My brain typically gets lost in full-on pity party mode. Whoa-is-me. A feeling that I absolutely despise. I hate feeling sorry for myself or allowing myself to play the role of the victim, but I try not to beat myself up about it because I know this is only temporary and belittling myself for such things will only make the situation worse.

So on days like this, I try to extend myself a little more kindness and understanding and show myself a bit more love because if I can’t love myself through all my ups and downs, no one else will.

I sincerely hope that in the future, we can all extend this type of love and understanding to each other instead of bullying or ignoring another because of their mental illness. These issues are obviously not going to disappear, but with a little more support backing us, those like me can drastically reduce the impact that mental illness can have and dramatically improve their overall quality of life.

Finding A Balanced Outlook

Whether we realize it or not, all past events leading up to this moment have conditioned us. Everyone views the present with a skewed, biased perception because of this conditioning. And, of course, everyone else wants to give us their opinions of how we should see the world. I personally have been referred to as a “Negative Nancy” or a “Debbie Downer” many times in my life because of my negatively slanted view of reality.

But how do we change something that is now deeply ingrained in our thought processes? Recognition is the first step. When we recognize and fully acknowledge that past events are exerting control over our present and future decisions, then we can begin to shift that control back into the hands of our present self and see things as they really are. We can mentally remove ourselves from current situations and look at the overall picture objectively. It probably goes without saying that these changes are not going to happen overnight, but they can happen over time if we are deliberate in maintaining our focus on the present moment.

Along with our pursuit to develop an objective perception, we also must consider what a truly healthy one entails. As with everything in life, moderation is key. We are aware that constant negativity can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, physical and social well-being, but ignoring the negative and attempting to fake positivity can also be toxic. It has to be genuine, and for that to happen, a middle ground must be found. After all, true positivity is not the absence of negativity, but persevering in spite of it.

Our journey to find this middle ground is a very individual experience; what works for one may not work for another. I personally am now analyzing my “demons” and trying to understand how they came to be rather than hide them away because I have come to the understanding that we must “feel it to heal it”. I am also attempting to find what brings me contentment and become so engrossed with making that life happen that I have little to no time to start comparing myself to others and invite negativity back into my life.

Of course, I am not certain that a total “rewiring” of my brain is possible because I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I do believe that I can tweak the programming a bit by surrounding myself with what promotes inner peace in my life. I will never be a complete optimist, but I really don’t want to because being too far left or right on the scale is unrealistic. I’m now striving to be an “Optimistic Realist” in order to live my best life.  

And I now turn the discussion over to you: what are your thoughts on this topic? Have you ever engaged in this type of in-depth soul-searching? What can you do to help retrain your brain?

The Courage of Being Incorrect

One fact that is often overlooked is just how much strength it actually takes to admit that we are wrong. That we’ve made a mistake. That we’ve fucked up. That we are flawed. That we are imperfect beings. That we have weaknesses. That we have bad habits.

To be vulnerable enough to acknowledge all of this to ourselves and especially to others takes an amount of bravery that many do not possess. It honestly isn’t easy for any of us because the ego always tends to get in the way, but it is extra difficult when we are aware that by doing so, we are going to hurt someone in the process.

Many people practice avoidance, what is now commonly referred to as “Ghosting”, as a way to protect their own egos and to prevent any difficult feelings they would have towards themselves for hurting someone else. Of course, for anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of such treatment, we know that the hurt is amplified by the fact that the other person couldn’t just talk to us about the situation rather than choosing to disappear completely.

However, there are others, myself included, who are ultra-aware of any short-comings and flaws that they may possess and readily admit when they have made a mistake. In my younger years, I always felt that this vulnerability was a weakness. The fact that I was plagued by insecurities and self-doubt, and that my self-esteem was sunk didn’t help matters. I saw myself as emotional, weak and often crazy.

But as I have gotten older and have worked to improve my confidence and self-esteem, I now realize that nothing could be further from the truth. I now know that for myself and anyone else who has these qualities, the ability to be this open and honest with ourselves and others just exemplifies the courage of our character. We should be proud that we have so much integrity because that is a true mark of a badass. 😊