Tag Archives: advice

The Stigma of Therapy

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I used to be one of those people–you know who I mean–the people who think that you only go to therapy if “something is WRONG with you.” The people who think that “mental health” is only important if you’re having suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

Ugh.

I’m so glad I’m not “one of those people” anymore. However, I AM broke–and sadly, to take care of ourselves mentally is significantly more expensive than taking care of ourselves physically. I can afford a gym membership, a massage, a whole grocery list full of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily vitamins, FREE birth control, and all of my yearly medical expenses, yet…I can’t afford to go to therapy as often as I’d like? THIS IS BULL. Insurance should cover this 100%…but that’s a separate blog post. This is not about that. Moving on.

I’ve always wanted to go to therapy–this mainly stemming from movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, where the character lies down on a couch and it all seems so…cool. But also, I always knew I’d have things to talk about–I’ve never considered myself perfect, I’ve never considered my childhood drama-free, I’ve never considered all of my relationships healthy…I wanted to talk about these things with a professional. If, for nothing else, just out of pure curiosity. What would they say? Would it be helpful at all? What would they write in my file?

Late last year, I finally made that leap. My life was a frenzy of stress and anxiety. I felt…helpless. So when a friend of mine started raving about her therapist (she was going through an ugly divorce), instead of just listening, I said, “Hey, can I get her name and contact info?”

It was great…and I mean GREAT. I should make it clear–when I said stress and anxiety, I literally meant stress and anxiety. That’s it–normal, extremely common feelings of stress and anxiety, weighing down on me. Life, career, family, friends, relationship…everyday stressful, anxiety-causing stuff. I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t want or need medication of any kind…I just needed to talk. And that’s the amazing thing about therapy–you’re talking to someone who a) isn’t biased b) has an education and work experience in psychology c) doesn’t treat you with pity or annoyance or judgment and d) isn’t tired of hearing you talk about a subject, like some of your friends or family members might be.

These people listen WHOLEHEARTEDLY and give fantastic advice for a freakin’ living. They are basically YOURS for an entire hour, completely tuned in to your wants and needs and thoughts and emotions and rants and frustrations and…need I go on?

Granted, you may need to search for a therapist whose personality fits what you’re looking for. Not everyone will be as lucky as me (my therapist looks sweet and innocent, but has a mouth like a sailor when need be and doesn’t take anyone’s shit…I adore her). After my first session with her, I felt immensely better about my situation–not just because she listened, but she also gave me some things to think about that no one else had even thought of. My swimming, muddled mind was, for the first time in months, clear.

Let me wrap this up before this turns into a novel-sized stream of conscious on the benefits of therapy.

  1. If you’ve never been, you should! It’s pretty awesome sauce and can truly help with any issue that’s itching at you, big or small…
  2. DON’T FREAKING JUDGE PEOPLE FOR GOING…that just means they take their mental health seriously, which is super mature, proactive, and beneficial to them and everyone around them. It’s 2015. Don’t be “one of those people.”

When is it OK to do NOTHING?

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Feeling superrrrr unproductive lately. As in…I’m FORCING myself to write this blog post simply to feel that relief of “Yay, I checked ‘blogging’ off the list!” It’s bad, y’all.

My next novel, my lovely WIP, is sitting at the saddest ONE chapter halt, just eyeing me with pure hate, daring me to wait another week and then another and then another…

In fact, I actually did my taxes in order to avoid writing. Gross.

I’ve been traipsing around Austin like some sort of Hilton brat…pretending I have loads of cash to throw away on mimosas and sushi. This past weekend, I laid in Zilker Park with the boy and let dogs come up to lick my face—when I could’ve been writing. We went to a freakin’ improv show that was downright terrible—when I could’ve been writing. I went to brunch TWICE. I even took a damn nap. I hate naps. I could’ve been writing.

Decided: Happiness gets in the way of getting shit done. And I think that’s OK?

I typed my first novel so furiously, post-break-up. I was like, “I hate you, I HATE YOU, I hate me, typetypetype, BOOM- NOVEL! WHAT NOW, BITCH?”

When you’re super happy, you’re usually also super busy…with, ya’ know, happy-life-things like kissing and snuggling and park-lounging. And then WHOA before you know it, another weekend has flown by in a whirlwind of pancakes and sunshine. Your gut is kinda like, “Um, excuse me, ma’am, remember when you used to go to the gym and WRITE and schedule haircuts and WRITE and read and WRITE and stuff…?”

Heart: stfu I’m having fun.

Head: Don’t worry, I’m sure things will get crappy soon and then we’ll have all the time in the world, like we used to.

Heart: BUT WHAT IF WE’RE HAPPY FOREVER?

Head: lolz

Gut: omg you’re both so effing annoying. We’ll find a balance, chill.

Life gets crazy. Busy as hell (seriously though, taxes? Who thought of that, the Brits? Didn’t we gain our independence?) and superrrrrr happy-insane sometimes. It’s OK to do nothing for a while, especially if you’re like me and you’ve been some sort of psycho Energizer Bunny since birth.

Decided: Be productive when you can, learn to adapt, evolve, whatever…find a balance and chill, like Gut says. Don’t let go of your passions, but don’t freak out and hold them so close that you lose creative control.

Heart: k!

Head: sigh, k.

Gut: kduh.

And then there’s this ^ …

Those Crazy Nomads

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What It Means To Be Nomadic

I’m so tired of excuses. Everyone has them; everyone uses them as a means to an end. It’s kind of pathetic. Stop blaming your fears on your made-up, self-diagnosed bullshit. Placebo effect gone wrong—if you tell yourself that the justification is true, it becomes true in your mind.

The latest and greatest from someone who I really thought cared about me: “I’m nomadic, I can’t grow roots anywhere.”

You’re kidding me, right? Just because you’ve moved around a few times in your life? You think this makes you nomadic? Get over yourself, we’ve all moved around! I hardly know anyone who’s stayed in one place their whole life. Do you think you’re nomadic because you plan on leaving this island as soon as you can? GUESS WHAT, SO DOES THE MAJORITY OF OAHU. That doesn’t make you nomadic. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow a root or two. That doesn’t mean you can’t feel or start something real. Stop blaming your fear of tough conversations, raw emotions, and commitment on some fabricated inability to settle down.

I’ll live in a thousand more cities before I die. I live in every city I visit, because I love it and I soak it in and I carry my whole heart to that new place and I breathe it in with both lungs. But I want nothing more than a shared happiness. And I will never treat any part of my life like a temporary fix or short-term comfort, because you never know when something great is going to jump out and scare the shit out of you (some people call this love).

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a rant about one person, but more of a message for anyone riding the tails of an excuse—grow up. I hope that everyone finds someone who is worth being scared for, you know? Worth knocking down protective walls and having hard conversations, worth the assurances and fights and honesty. Finding someone who’s worth all those things and more—that’s kind of the point, right?

Options

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This is that beautiful early step in the wrong direction. This is that can’t-get-enough, giddy, breathless, silly phase. This is the good part, when it doesn’t seem possible for it to ever be any other way.

I take another sip of my “Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte Thank You Have The Best Day!” (She said that to every single customer and it got pretty annoying. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone actually had the BEST day…but surely, on one of your best days ever, you wouldn’t be at Starbucks in the middle of the afternoon. I sure wouldn’t be.)

I try to think back to when this part of a relationship usually ends. I don’t remember, it’s been too long since I was sucked into dating someone really. For the past couple of years, I’ve been in and out of short bursts of flings and things. Who knows what you could even call them. But they definitely haven’t lasted this long, AKA long enough for me to start worrying about liking someone too much, getting attached, getting hurt, blah blah blah, etc. etc. It’s a little frightening how much we have to worry about these things, now that we’re at this stage in our lives. Some people still see themselves as young and invincible, but I’m definitely feeling a bit worn down. I don’t think anyone should have to have their heart ripped out more than once, that’s just not fair. Therefore, I will not be signing myself up for a second go-around, and I think that’s most people’s sentiment. So what do we do when we start getting that sickening irking in our gut that’s saying, “Hey you! You’re about to fall face first you idiot! Get outta there!”? Do we listen, and run like little chicken shits? It’s an option.

Option #2: Let the pieces fall. Take the risk. Put my heart on the chopping block right when it’s finally become whole again. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION. Obviously.

So that brings us to Option #3. Don’t run like a little bitch, and don’t put all my eggs in one basket either. The blissful in-between. The gray area that, for most, is impossible to stay in for too long. Well fuck that—I’m going to stay in it for as long as I damn well please. Maybe this means we can stay in the “beautiful early step in the wrong direction” for the entirety of whatever this is. No fighting, no boredom, no strings. Is this even possible? Challenge accepted!

 

It took about a day after that to realize that I was fighting for an impossible, unrealistic dream. Sure, I can keep it up for a little while longer. Hide the emotions, play it cool, pretend not to care. But I’m not built to bottle things up. So this is what the options change to for those of us who aren’t very in control…

Option #1 becomes running after you can’t take it anymore—after you’ve lived out the blissful in-between, squeezed it for every last drop, and now you must GTFO before you pull your hair out or fall in love or something like that. Option #2 stays the same—jump off, leap into the abyss.

Why are these our only options? Shouldn’t there be multiple ways to protect ourselves from all the bitter blues of breakups? Think about it—there are multiple ways of protection for almost anything. Birth control: condoms, pills, shots, patches, and more. Burglary: house alarm, sensor light, surveillance, Dad’s shotgun. UV rays: sunscreen (spray or lotion), wear more clothes, sit in the shade.

And then we come to our hearts, our feelings: never get in too deep, run away from anything real, and never look back OR…oh wait, nope, that’s it. That’s the only way to ensure a pain-free experience.

It’s 2012. I have options for every single decision I make, every day. Except this. C’est la vie, right?

Poop in one hand…

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After receiving a few random comments, suggestions, lectures, rants, drunken statements, serious girl talks, life stories, and in-a-nutshells—all on the same questions (How do you know it’s a date? How do you know you’re dating someone? When should it be official?)—I decided to record some of these nuggets of wisdom. People my age, older people, younger people, and yes, my 7th grade students, have given me their opinion (some prompted, some not). Read on if you’d like some clarity (or more confusion) on all your love life wonderings.

  • Friends:

“Your dress only has one sleeve. It’s a date.”

“If you don’t order a cab, or in some cases the bus, for the person to leave at the end of the night, it’s a date. When your landlord asks for your date’s rent check, it should be official.”

“I would consider it dating when a guy tells you he wants to buy you a horse.” Smartass.

“When I go home and wait for them to call. When we text all day.”

“It’s a date if he pays, kisses you, or tries to feel you up. At least one of the three.”

“You’re dating if you’re not sleeping with other people. No wait, that’s if it’s official. No wait, what?”

“Facebook, it’s all about the Facebook relationship status. Ohhh, you guys aren’t even friends on Facebook? Ouch. That’s not dating. That’s not even friendship.”

  • Student quotes:

“Well, I mean, if she lets you hold her hand all week, everywhere you go.”

“When the whole school knows, so it’s like, really known or whatever.”

“It’s like when I let her wear my hat and she lets me wear her silly bands. That’s like, not something you do for just anybody.”

“When Ms. Mendez even knows you’re going out, and she’s all ‘Tell your boyfriend to do his poetry packet!’ it’s like DANG, you’re really going out, ya’ know?”

Mom: “A date is when the guy calls you and asks you out and he pays the check. It was just a date if you didn’t have fun, laugh, talk, and laugh some more. When you have enough in common to want to see the same person again, and again, and again, this is dating but can be done with more than one person. Exclusive dating is when two people realize they’re not seeing anyone else and don’t want to see anyone else. It’s ‘official’ when you realize it’s exclusive and it’s unspoken that it’s exclusive—there is no timeline on this. Could take a month, could take six months. It’s seriously ‘official’ when it is spoken that you are exclusive. Love finds you when you least expect it. Always be smiling, and always wear earrings when you leave the house—you never know who your audience is!”

Dad: “Poop in one hand and wish in the other. See which one fills up first.” I feel like this is actually pretty helpful. Think about it. If you’re having to wish for something to be a date, or dating, or “official,” that probably means something isn’t quite right. You shouldn’t have to really wish that hard, if both people want the same things, are on the same page. No one wants poop in their hand.

Ironically, Dad gave me another piece of dating advice one time that had to do with feces. He said, “You better get out of the shit before your shoes get dirty.” It was very profound at the time. Shit and love life seem to go together nicely, metaphorically speaking that is.

If this doesn’t make things more clear, I don’t know how to help you. My dad or I could probably come up with a new poop expression to better fit your needs though. All you have to do is ask.