“It’s not avoidance if you actively plan to pursue it. Someday.”T.J. Klune
Welp, that was fun, wasn’t it?
2020 was a year.
That’s it. Just a year.
The end. G o o d b y e .
I hated it and I’m sure you did, too.
This year hasn’t started off much better; 2021 feels a bit like coming out of an abusive relationship: cautious, not quite ready to be optimistic, still reeling from a year full of trauma (and I’m quite certain I will be canceled for that statement, goodbye again). 2021 has already proven itself to be less-than-worthy for my optimism or hope; I gave up on this year halfway through last year, to be quite frank. All jokes aside (totally not joking), one thing remains a true and constant thought: it can’t get any worse and it can absolutely totally most certainly get so much worse.
My expectation bar can’t go much further into the ground than I’ve already buried it. It’s really incapable of going much lower. I feel like only the best possible outcome can occur from this setup. If you expect the worse, you are far more prepared for when it’s shitty. And when it’s not shitty? I’m not sure how that’s a bad outcome. I really don’t expect much from this year. I don’t expect anything to go very well. I don’t expect I will learn anything new, or progress in any way I should. I imagine that similar to last year, halfway through this year I will lose time and advance a year, aging myself one year unknowingly, so that come December, whilst prepping for my January birthday, I will be so absolutely dumbfoundedly (it’s a word now) confused that I will be forced to do math several times in order to convince myself of my true age. That is my only true expectation of this year. The true deterioration of my brain functions. Brain cells? Mental capacity? See, it’s already diminishing. Check.
I decided before I began writing this post that it would be a rather short one. Brief. A summary of sorts. There are things I had decided long ago when I was quite literally (but actually figuratively) drowning in the avoidance of writing anything because I knew, I JUST KNEW, what had to come next. There is this very obvious post that has to come next and I. JUST. CAN’T. FUCKING. DO. IT. So, I’ve been avoiding it. As one does.
Some really terrible shit happened last year. But, some really good shit happened, too. And I honestly felt like I had managed fairly. There were times I felt genuine happiness. But, my heart also genuinely smashed into a gazillion pieces and I am really struggling in picking up those pieces. I still can’t find many of them and I legitimately believe there are full sections of my heart that will never fully recover.
In all honesty, I should have known.
That feeling of elation, pure happiness, absolute contentment—it would not last. Perhaps I had hoped my circumstances had changed enough for the years of trauma, depression, and anxiety I keep stashed away in the deepest internal crevices of my Being to suddenly melt away as if they never existed. I’ve lived through enough of my own ebbs and flows to know that this honeymoon stage of “new home, new life” would eventually dissolve, forcing me to directly face all the things I so happily and willingly avoided when I was floating on clouds for the past several months.
Ebbs and flows.
Twenty days ago I felt like I was drowning.
I was back at that place again. again. again. again. The same old story. The grey meh. I’m sure you know it by now. I don’t need to go into depth about it every time it happens. My brain is sick. I have an illness. This thing happens. I’m not just sad because I remembered a sad day and I don’t have control over when it comes and when it goes. I can’t just make myself feel better by thinking of sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes I can do everything “right,” and one day I will wake up not wanting to exist anymore. I can’t just “think happy thoughts” and everything will get better. And if you are someone who thinks this is how depression works, please educate yourself. For your loved ones, because I’m sure there is someone you know who is suffering in silence right now and they could probably use a little understanding, empathy, and love.
Even though I don’t have control over when the grey meh comes and goes, I do still have control over large aspects of my life. And I realized that there were certain things I needed to change in order for me to not be a complete waste of space and —just, ugh— fucking absolutely miserable for the rest of my existence. For about a week I had contemplated just walking away. Like, literally wandering off into a field and never returning. I don’t know where I would have ended up. We had sub-zero temps around that same time. And honestly, with my experience walking around these parts, I imagine I wouldn’t have gotten far before some Friendly pulled over and asked if I was okay and needed a ride.
(Before you get all freaky-deaky, it was a passing thought. Fleeting. I have them often, but it’s been a good 17 years since I felt terrible enough to actually act, and I blame that on a certain prescription medication. It works for some people and I will not demean anyone for their choices in what best helps their mental health. Therapy works best for me. Medication—not so much.)
So, I had a breakdown. I did a lot of crying/sobbing/blubbering and a lot of reflecting. As I’ve written in quite a few, if not all, of my serious posts, I recognize that it is essential I return to therapy. But… (like most of my posts, this one also has a theme!)
Avoidance. Because I am so so so so so good at it. I have my reasons. Good reasons. Therapy can be expensive if you are super messed up and you have really awful insurance because you are poor. Like, seriously, our health care system is so jacked up. SO JACKED. I’m honestly not sure if I currently reside in this category because I have avoided looking into the mental health options my insurance provides. *awkward smile* Also, I had not-so-great-experiences with therapy when I was younger and it put a bad taste in my mouth. HOWEVER, in my early thirties, I finally found the most amazing therapist to ever grace my life and he (bless his heart) stayed in my life up until three years ago when we moved states. I was devastated. And now I am absolutely terrified to even try beginning the process of finding someone new. Finding that connection is difficult. It’s scary. And if it’s not a good fit, you have to start all over again.
I can see the comments streaming in now. “Megan, we just went through a global pandemic. Everything went online. Everything is virtual now. You could do virtual sessions with your old therapist! Problem solved!” Yes. But, no. I could. I actually have looked into it. However, a thing: insurance. We are in different states and they don’t accept my current insurance. I could pay out of pocket and have fewer sessions, but unfortunately, I cannot afford that. I also know for a damn fact that if I contacted him, he would absolutely try to work something out so that I could be seen. And that’s the thing I’m afraid of. He is the kindest heart and the greatest soul and he already bent over backward for me before I even moved. At my last therapy session before moving, we were discussing my insurance (I was on Medicaid) or something and he mentioned how he had to do these recertifications after so many sessions to tell the state that yeah, I still needed therapy. They only allowed a certain number of sessions per year and it was a big hassle to do the paperwork. So the entire last year of my therapy he did pro bono. Because he knew each session was important and that I was making progress. Never told me. Are you fucking kidding me? *sobbing emoji x 3* He also allowed Markie Mark to join in almost all of my sessions for free because having Mark there was beneficial to my progress and learning. See? The man has already done enough for me. It’s time for me to grow a pair and just figure it out on my own.
Light bulb. As soon as I realized that my old therapist wasn’t going to be an option (I wouldn’t allow it) and that it would take some time for me to do research and, honestly, find the motivation to search for a new therapist, I got up and walked over to a scrap paper on my dresser and wrote: Help your own damn self. No one is going to do it for you. I know it’s not the most positive or motivational of messages a depressed person should be writing to themselves, but it kind of did the trick (even though Markie Mark has been screaming this stuff at me for years, sometimes you have to figure it out on your own). I knew that in order to change my situation and avoid dying of hypothermia when I walk out to the middle of a field in -21 degree weather (super duper side note: when I told Mark about this fleeting thought, his response was, “But I would miss you.” *heart exploded* ), I had to start making myself the priority. I needed to stop caring so much about the opinions of others. I needed to start establishing boundaries and actually keep them, no more wishy-washy bullshit of bending over backward for people as soon as I’m asked to cross that boundary I had already established. Be direct and assertive. Stop being afraid to say NO, stop this crap of feeling guilty for taking time for myself. I AM THE BIGGEST PRIORITY IN MY OWN LIFE. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others, but if you don’t take care of yourself first, you aren’t going to be around to help others. I should never feel guilty for putting myself first, and I will no longer feel obligated to do anything I don’t want to. And I’m not gonna feel bad about it. Periodt.
Easier said than done, amirite? If you are the type of person who already lives your life this way, congratulations! For me, I have to lube it up and ease it in gently, so I started with one day a week: Wednesday.
Wednesdays are for Writing (bet you were starting to wonder about that title, huh? I gotchoo, Boo). It’s my personal day where I have obligations to no one except myself. Did we run out of bread? Oh well, no bread today! Dinner? Fend for your damn self. Work meeting? Sorry, can’t make it. At some point during my deep dark days of January and early February, during my periodic bursts of flailing around in murky grey waters while gasping for air, I realized I’ve been having trouble scheduling and prioritizing stuff because I’m the type of person who always puts themselves last. My writing is important to me, and I’ve been trying to make time for it, but because of the way I am, everything else gets prioritized before writing. Hence, one of the reasons why I haven’t made a fucking post since September (ONE of the reasons. We’ve already established the other is avoidance. I’m so good at avoidance). Wednesdays are my personal day and I can do whatever the fuck I want, as long as at some point during the day I work on an actual blog post. I don’t have to post every Wednesday, I just have to write. Actual writing. Scheduled. Prioritized. More than meaningless thought jargon in my phone’s Notes app. I already do that daily.
Because I can do whatever I want on my personal day, I have tried to make it as productive and conducive as possible. The last two Wednesdays, I’ve started completing tasks that I’ve been avoiding (see?) for quite some time. I have a giant list of “Avoidables/To-Do” on my phone, and I have instructed myself to choose a minimum of three things to accomplish from this list per day. One item must be an Avoidable, and the other two can be reoccurring weekly tasks like cleaning, etc. Obviously, I add to it frequently, so the list is constantly growing and ever-changing. You know, the things I think about doing every day and say begrudgingly, “I don’t want to [insert random avoidable task].” I’m supposed to do this every day, but I don’t. Most days I ignore it because I can. But, I’ve noticed that on my personal day, I’m taking my daily task list a bit more seriously. And Avoidables? They gettin’ crushed.
Today, I washed plastic bags (it was, in fact, Wednesday when I wrote that sentence. Now it’s Friday. I may post this semi-Wednesday-related article not on Wednesday simply because I can. And also because I. DON’T. FUCKING. CARE. *wink*). I avoid it because it’s such a dumb task. Seriously. I’m all for helping save the planet and reusing shit, but I just really dislike washing plastic bags. Last week, I made phone calls. If you know me, phone calls are extremely difficult for me, so they are a top-priority Avoidable. I would rather lose my pinky finger. Oh my god stop being so dramatic, Megan. Receiving phone calls are also anxiety producers, far less-so if I am prepared and I know in advance that the call is coming and who is on the other end. But for some reason, making a phone call is absolutely terrifying. For funsies, I kept an eye on the heart-rate monitor on my watch to see the effect dialing and such would have on my heart rate, and NO JOKE, it jumped from 68bpm to 130bpm just simply from dialing the number. But, I survived. The world did not end. The first call went great and all my teeth didn’t fall out of my mouth as I was talking, so that left me with great confidence to make the second phone call. My heart clearly didn’t give two shits about my newfound confidence, but we prevailed. However, as soon as the girl on the other end answered, my brain immediately disintegrated into a pile of useless pink mush and I forgot how to use words. It was a huge struggle and my newly acquired phone confidence immediately retreated back to wherever confidence hides when you hate yourself. Anyway, now I’m back to never wanting to use the phone again.
This, uh, has become so much more than the “summary of sorts” I had established early on when I first began writing it. But I dig it. Basically, last year sucked and I’m still recovering, I’m trying to hold my head above water the best I can, depression will always linger no matter how happy I am, and the simple change to making myself a priority once a week has had a much greater and more significant impact on my life than I initially thought it would. My original hope and intention with establishing Wednesdays are for Writing was, obviously, to get back here regularly, on the blog, but in roughly two weeks it has already grown into so much more. I’m accomplishing more daily, I’m more productive and more motivated, even when I don’t mentally feel great. I actually feel like I’m more in control of my life than I have been in quite some time. I don’t feel burdened or guilty. I allow myself space and time to exist and breathe and fuck-off on Instagram for an hour or two if I need some brain-dead activity at night. I’m getting up at 7:30 every morning even though I don’t need to, and I recently started waking up even earlier, automatically, as my internal clock has apparently, finally, caught up from all the years of me shitting on it. I definitely still have days where my body hates me, but I generally feel more energized and less like I’m completely dying from the inside out. I’m almost a full month into a completely dairy-free diet and my hormonal acne has finally started to clear up (after 8 hellish years). I’m uncertain at this point if the two are related so I won’t go there (yet) and yell about how rude dairy is (it is though, change my mind). I bought a bidet and now I have a sparkling clean butthole pretty much all the time, plus a refreshing splash for the lady bits, too! It’s wonderful and everyone should own one (I will never change my mind). I’m working on this happiness side gig of spreading joy around anonymously or through the art of surprise (with the help of an artist friend) and uh, it’s pretty fun. And even though I know things aren’t perfect, and they are most certainly well on their way back to ohmygodthisissofuckingshitty, I feel like I have finally been able to shed this thick, heavy, crusty skin that has built up over years of self-neglect. So, in closing, my blog lesson: peel that skin, clean that butthole, stop neglecting yourself. Establish those boundaries and make yourself a goddamn priority once in a while. No one else is going to do it for you.
“You don’t have to love yourself in muttered whispers while loving everyone else with a megaphone.”Jasmine Farrell, Release: YOU