NSPW13, Depression, and HOPE;

In my experience, there is nothing more defeating  than the moment that you realize that all hope is gone and nothing seems quite worth it anymore.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and this is an area that strikes a personal chord with me since depression has been my nearly life-long battle.

So, yes, I have  made it through my share of cases of bad depression. Yes, I still get depressed. Yes, I’ve been suicidal.  Yes, I’m glad to be alive today.

No, I’m not proud or happy to be alive everyday.

Shit got real kinda quick, eh?

I’ve spent the last 4+ years in recovery from an epic meltdown following my first ‘real heartbreak’ and my first corporate layoff.  When shit hit the fan, I tried to hang on, but one day I just stopped caring about myself and did everything I could to sabotage anything good in my life because deep down, I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I eventually sought help. I fought. I won that battle. I moved on.

I won’t sit here and spit some positive bullshit about how I overcame extreme depression over 4 years ago and that life has been a grand experience ever since.

It hasn’t been.

In fact, this year has been the absolute most difficult year I have ever experienced.  I took a nose dive right back to that dark place following the recent death of my grandmother, the ending of a few of my closest friendships and relationships, my dad moving away, and an intense professional burnout that left me working 90+ hours a week. Then there’s the insomnia.

OMG LIFE, WTF.

The good news is that I’m dealing with everything the best that I am able. I get out of bed every single day. I go to work. I come home. I pay my bills. I go to bed. In between I maintain healthy relationships. Everything is okay. Sometimes.

Sometimes I’m feeling happy.

Sometimes I am not feeling happy. I’ve overcome depression, but I still fight a daily battle with it.

Days seem long. Nights seem longer.  I get angry. I get scared. I need to spend time alone. I wonder if it’s ever going to end. But somehow, when I am at the end of my rope, just when I’m about to stay in bed all day and cry, just when giving up seems like a possibility, just when it seems hopeless is when out of nowhere, an authentically good day comes and reminds me how good it feels to feel…well, good.

The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last 10 years as I’ve gone from doctor to therapist to pharmacist to group counseling is that everyone suffers differently and struggle looks different on everyone. Even the happiest, cheeriest person can have buried scars and hidden demons. While some wear the feelings on their sleeves, I wear mine under layers upon layers of tough-exterior fabric that keeps people from knowing my vulnerabilities and insecurities. Just because you can’t see the pain on someone’s face doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Any sort of mental condition or when someone is emotionally unwell, it  is often looked at as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, people who have made it through depression and/or wake up and choose to fight the storm rather than let it overtake them are some of the strongest people in existence. I know first hand how difficult it is to come out from the safety of your bed and face the harsh truth that ‘this is your life’. It’s nearly fucking impossible to put one foot in front of the other some days. It’s hard, but I do it. You do it. We do it.

There’s no cure-all to depression or wanting to end the pain. I can’t tell you how to mend your broken heart. I can’t tell you where to find $5,000 to pay your back mortgage. I can’t tell you how to change your life.  I don’t even know how to explain how I did it other than that it takes radical, blind, ridiculously crazy hope. Hoping against all odds that someday, somehow, someway, things will change, and you’ll just feel okay again, and patiently waiting for that one day and knowing that more good days will follow it.

If you’re like me, and you’re a seeing is believing kind of person, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every morning, I write the word “HOPE;” on a piece of paper. I carry it with me in my pocket. Or in my purse. Or in my bra. True Story.

The “;” at the end of the HOPE; is not a typo  The semi-colon is what I use to define a moment where it would make sense to end it, (.) but I choose to keep going (,).   A period is an ending. A comma shows a continuum.

Some days I look at this paper about 40 times. Others I forget it’s there and it goes through my washing machine and pisses me off because it gets all over all of my dark clothes. But knowing that the HOPE; is there, as a physical thing, makes it a little easier to believe in- and when life sucks as bad as it does sometimes, having something to believe in is incredible.

I’m still here. And I’m glad you are too.

 

Sometimes You Don’t Have To Change

If you’re part of/an alumni of the 20sb community, then you may have seen this amazing post from Chelsea. I’ll give you a teaser, but I seriously want you to leave this page right now and read her beautiful dedication to women.

So many parts of that post hit me in the feels. Particularly this:

“When you doubted yourself, when you let him steal all of your light, when you second guessed, over-analyzed, replayed, reconfigured the reality to take the blame for things going wrong…I beg of you, my most remarkable and celestial, fierce ladies… you did nothing. wrong. There is not a single thing about you that needs mending, fixing, refurbishing, or overhauling.” – 

 

To know Katie Colihan is to know that I am this huge believer in personal accountability. When I do something wrong, I admit it… eventually. But not before fighting, twisting, and convincing myself that my actions were justified. Eventually I get to a point where I see my own faults, and work to correct them.

And yet, I feel understood in lyrics like “I’m never changing who I am”. (via)

Ironic, perhaps. Odd, maybe. But it’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s how I function; exist; survive.

All of this said, and that one line in Chelsea’s post acted like a lyric to a song I needed to hear. Despite all of my little quirks, my admitted mistakes, my constant acknowledgment that I ‘need to be better’ and goal of always changing something is a bunch of shit.

Throughout all of my life struggles, I’m very open and admit that I’ve changed. I’ve adopted new methods of thinking, new positive habits, new coping mechanisms, new tolerance levels– and I’m proud of these changes that needed to happen. However, there’s another kind of change that needs not, does not, and will not happen — to change myself because of the preferences of someone else.

…and I’ve been known to do that.

Personal accountability is good – it’s the topic of one of my favorite biz reads. Unnecessary personal accountability is not good. It’s self sabotage. It’s letting one small little instance, event, ‘mistake’ (perhaps lesson learned is more appropriate), one person dictate who you should be. It’s ignoring who you are, which is a wonderful, deserving person… just. as. you. are. right. now.

Sometimes you need to stop taking the blame, accept what is, pass on the things that don’t fit into your life, and move on. Unapologetic. Strong. Just walk on. 

I may pick up some new, better habits. I may change my hair color . My go-to power song may morph. But my core, my being, who I really really am, that’s a constant. I’m through with fighting it. I’m through saying “I’m a work in progress” when it comes to being  myself. After all, no one knows how to be a better me than me. So I have this shit mastered already.

For those who have stuck by me through my countless battles and struggles, I hope a simple thank you does it here.

For those of you have left my life when times were hard, thank you, because I only need the strongest people by my side.

For those of you waiting for me to be something other than the Katie you experience every day, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

Because “I’m never changing who I am.” And neither should you.

I’m Not Doing VEDA, But I Still Love The Internet And Life In General

The internet is erupting with awesome right now as the masses flock to YouTube and post the most magnificent VEDA videos. For those of you who don’t know (WHAT?), VEDA is “Vlog Everyday in August”. Vlog=video blog. Basically VEDA is 1/2 making videos and 1/2 watching and commenting and connecting with other videos/bloggers.

It’s magical.

This year is the first year I haven’t attempted VEDA in some capacity. Part of me is ALL THE SAD because I do love reconnecting to all of you, sharing my freakish little quirks and enjoying when people say A) Oh! Me too! or B) You’re a freak, Katie. But we love you. I get little goosebumps knowing that we all share this THING where we just…get each other. We can be ourselves; as loud (or quiet) and proud (or fearful) as we are, and it’s perfectly okay.

Man, I’m not even doing VEDA and it’s still magical.

There’s another part of me that is relieved. As fun as VEDA is each year, it is a definite commitment. It’s not that I don’t want to rush home at the end of my day and talk to your lovely faces, but I’m not in a position in my life right now where that’s feasible. Doesn’t mean I love you guys any less. Just means I’m focusing on myself more.

As 2013 progresses on, the overwhelming theme I’ve seen is the universe presenting me with situations that I really don’t like. Whether professional, personal, or actual relationships, I’ve seen my share of occurrences that make me think “Yeah, no, I don’t like this.” Typical Katie-like approach is to hang in there and fake it until I make it.

That crap isn’t cutting it anymore.

I’ve seemingly gone through this major shift in the last 6 months or so. Where I’d once put up with major bullshit in the name of “staying true to others”, I’ve come to realize the importance that I play in making decisions. Like, totally responsible for how I’m feeling in any given moment. All of my decisions up to this very point are key contributors to how I feel. There’s no way to change decisions I’ve already made (duh.) but I can surely take more of a conscious role in making choices from here on out. Then, I can reap the benefits of these choices down the road.

I don’t know if it’s becoming an adult, or just becoming more who I want to be, but either way, I feel different. There have been instances in the last month alone in which I’ve had to swallow my pride and ask difficult questions. I’ve had to ask for help (which I hate). I’ve chosen to say goodbye. I’ve welcomed new people into my life.  I’ve asked others to stay. I’ve let people go who have taught me all that they’re going to. Just as people enter our lives for a reason, they leave for a reason too- usually to make room for the next big thing.

So there’s that.

In Other News:

I celebrated my 4th Lifeaversary last week, and for the first time ever, I didn’t do a dedication post. I had one planned, drafted even, but it never got published. WOMP. Instead, I spent the day with some of the most important people to me. I didn’t get crazy. We sat around a lovely pool and laughed. Ate some. It was a really good day. And that was enough. The post may end up being posted. It might not. Probably will, you know me, guys.

WANT SOME CAKE? Actually it’s gone. But you can drool:

Thanks to my wonderful bestie Vanessa for providing this OMG SO GOOD cake.

 

Life is sweet, yeah?

They say you love someone when you’re willing to be there through thick and thin — when it gets tough, you’re still there. That’s how I feel about life. And my friends. And other special people in my life.

Anyway you cut it. Life is hard, but oh, so worth it. 

I Made You a Cupcake

Dear BFF,

Today (okay, yesterday) was your birthday. According to the laws of time passing, I should have forgotten it. Since I’ve moved on since our long weekends spent together, you’d think I’d forget the special days of your life. It should just be another day on the calendar. I should just go to work, do my thing, come home, make dinner, watch some TV, cuddle on the couch, and go to bed.

Many things have changed. Many people have changed. But my feelings for you, they have  not.

Today (well, yesterday), was your birthday, and I didn’t forget. Maybe I didn’t forget because 22 is a multiple of 11 and I’m a big fan of 11. Maybe I didn’t forget because I got to spend the day celebrating a little early with you last week while we saw some fish, sharks, and the world’s biggest alligator. Maybe I didn’t forget because during the short time I’ve known you (just less than a year), you’ve earned a special place in my heart that I reserve for my favorite people.

You’re a special little girl. I know you hear it from your family, but I also know that as you get older sometimes you start to believe that your family says you’re special because they HAVE to. While I assure you that your family loves you to the moon and back, I want to tell you something else:

I am not related to you. But I believe in you. I believe in your intelligence. I believe in your ability to be whatever you want to be. I see your worth. I am blown away by how smart, clever, and funny you are. I believe in you and always will, even if no one else understands.

“You have your own family”, people say to me. “It’s time to break the bond, it’s bad for her, it’s bad for you,” they say. ‘

But I disagree. At 6 years old, you are one of the most honest, generous, hilarious little girls that I have ever met. You are also  beautiful, but that’s not why I like you. You’re one of the people who has helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. You might not understand that yet, but you will someday.

You might not know, but my Grandma died this year and she was my best friend. She’s an angel in heaven now watching over me, but I miss her a lot. Hanging out with you and doing spa days helped make me feel happy because my Grandma loved getting her toes painted. Seeing you smile when they’re painting your toes and nails makes me think of my Grandmomma. Thank you for that!

I truly love you for your imagination, your jokes, especially our inside jokes. (What kind if ice cream? *BURP Vanilla!*) I love the way you come out with “Katie, I love you”, every now and then. I love our girl’s spa days. The way you want to sit next to me in a booth. The way you tell me “secrets.” The way you used to want me to give you a bath and dry your hair sometimes. The way you draw photos of us and I’m always taller, and you always have better hair.

My adoration for you has nothing to do with your beautiful eyes or dimples, though, I do melt when you grin at me and you could probably get my debit card out of me just by flashing those eyes at me.

What I’m trying to say here is that you are one of the best new things that has happened to me this year. Even through my tough times, you never flinched. You never got angry with me. I tried explaining my emotional state delicately so you could understand, and you explained to other people that “Katie’s brain wasn’t working right.” or “Katie’s medicine isn’t working the right way.”  You never stopped referring to me as “My friend Katie.” This is more than I can say for a lot of people, and for that I am ever thankful.

Over the last few months, I have  met people that remind me of you. People that love me for me, and make jokes with me, and tell me secrets, and let me dry their hair, and can make me melt with their smile. But, BFF, you are the one that taught me that those are the things that I want in people. You helped me learn what to look for in a good person. Because YOU are an amazing person.

You are going to be a bright scientist someday Tinkering with volcanoes and inventing new things. Or maybe a teacher – helping other students learn addition and subtraction. Or maybe a rocket scientist. Your intelligence, honesty, smile, and creativity amaze me. You are so smart. You are brilliant. You are creative.

Those things are what make you beautiful. 

Sometimes life won’t seem fair. Sometimes you’ll get angry Sometimes you’ll be sad. These emotions don’t feel good.  Remember that anger and sadness always pass, and you’ll feel better soon. It’s okay to talk about being sad and angry too. You’re not a bad person for feeling angry. You’re not a bad person for feeling sad. You’re a normal, girl. And I’ve always found, the sadder I feel somedays, the happier I feel the next one.

Always be yourself, and never let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to be you. Somedays you’ll want to wear polka dotted pants with a striped shirt. Something I learned from you: “It’s important to let kids try new things.”

When I was 6, I wish someone would have told me that life can sometimes be totally unfair, but you just need to lean on the people who love you, and they will see you through. And also? Dance parties to One Direction songs are the cure to almost everything that makes you said. Just turn on your iPod, and dance away. If you want a new song to dance to, try “Firework” by Katy Perry.

For your birthday this year, I gifted you something that was given to me; A Pink stuffed rabbit named “Pink Rabbit” that was very special to me at one time. I am unable to love him as much and in the same way that you can and that he deserves, so he is yours to take care of. I trust you with him. Just a few tips: He likes his left ear to be ‘softed’ and he really loves to lay on top of your shoulder. He calls it the “Nook” and he is a little afraid of thunder storms. Just remind him that thunder is  just clouds bumping together and hugging each other and he’ll be okay.

I was unable to make it to your party this year. But I did make you a cupcake. I lit a candle, and I made wishes for you, I hope you don’t mind.

My wishes for you this year are:

  • True happiness.
  • More smiles than you can keep track of.
  • Countless adventures and new experiences.
  • Strength when you need it most.
  • Cry when you need to.
  • Laugh when you deserve to.
  • Meeting new friends.
  • Lots of hugs
  • Games of CandyLand where you win.
  • Another incredible report card.
  • Pancakes and Bacon parties.
  • And to never forget that you are the product of two people who love you very much.

I was babysitting last night and my little friend also made a wish for you: To have lots of love, lots of cake, and a pony. I hope you get those too.

“If you ever need me, call me, no matter where you are, no mater how far”. Because asI said, I am here for you. Even if you just want to say hello, it’s okay. No matter how far away I am, No matter what new friends I make, no matter what new friends you make, I am always in your heart, and you are always in mine.

So happy birthday to you, my little BFF.  May you have many more birthdays filled with joy.  I hope your day was amazing. I owe you a vanilla cupcake and a spa day sometime. 

When I have a son or daughter, I hope he or she is as wonderful as you. If they are, I will be the luckiest mom in the world. And I hope that every Katie as a little BFF like you in their life to inspire them as you do me. The world would be a much better place.

LOVE,

your BFF

 

PS: Another blogger (and actually, my best friend, Nessa, wrote a letter to her 6 year old self that is worth the read as well. Check it out here: http://nessabegood.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/dear-six-year-old-me/

Calming My Inner Bitchiness

I’ve been kind of rage-y recently. I hate being rage-y even more than I hate being sad, but unfortunately I’ve been hit with a case of the angries.

It could very much so be a part of the mourning process. It could be that I’m just in a holding pattern with life and I’m getting upset about that. It could be that I’m totally over 2013 and want to just get all of this crap over with already. Could be a pretty little combination package. Who knows?

A while back, I learned that anger is an emotion just like love, happiness, and sadness. While this might seem like an obvious fact, it took a really long time for me to grasp the idea that even ‘feel good’ emotions pass, as will ‘not-so-good’ emotions.

I remember a therapist had told me something really groundbreaking, at least for me.In the midst of the most difficult breakup I’ve ever been through many-a-years-ago, I found myself angry all of the time. She challenged all of my prior beliefs about emotions and asked me what anger was. 

“IT’S SHIT, THAT’S WHAT IT IS.”

Not the answer she was looking for.

She went on to teach me the idea that Anger is an emotion that comes when we’re not getting what we want. And if that’s the case, by getting what I want or accepting that I’m not going to get it, I have total control over the emotion. It was like she gave me the Secret to life.

This “Anger Theory” got me through many a battles with anger.  Whenever I was feeling that internal rage-y feeling, I’d try and crack down on why I was feeling that way, what is was that I wanted, and what I could do to get it, or if I couldn’t get it, I’d work on how to accept that fact.

As time has passed, I still do this little mind-check whenever I feel all the rage. As of late, it’s been kind of  hard to get what I want, especially when what I want is FOR EVERYONE TO LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE. That seems kind of harsh, I know it, but sometimes, I just want to be left alone, and I feel like that’s where I am right now. Since I work with people, I do need to interact regardless of wanting to crawl in a hole alone with Dexter and Grey’s Anatomy reruns.

I’m not being an ass to people. Not that I know of, at least. I still happily speak to my core people on the regular – you know, keeping me social. But for the most part, any kind of unsolicited interaction with people outside of my circle is just pissing me off.  It’s like, I know people mean well. I really do. It’s just, like, my inner-bitch is being the dominant part inside of me. I don’t let people see her, I fake happiness or contentment. But she’s there, and she’s all…well..bitchy.

I spend a lot of time forcing a smile through the tough times. “Fake it ’til you make it’ has been a mantra of mine for a while, but eventually it ends up sabotaging me. Swallowing my inner-bitchiness just makes inner-bitch angry. SHE WANTS TO BE HEARD, DAMNIT. And eventually, she decides she’s going to sit her annoying ass down inside of my brain and run the show. Often, I’m too tired to fight her.

I’ve been trying to settle that bitchiness down. Force interaction and all of that jazz, but it’s not working. As Katie tends to do, I put my thinking cap on, and went back to basics.

Anger=Not getting what I want, yes- but it’s more than that. My anger/inner bitch is really my deeply rooted passion to actually get what I want.  This ‘inner bitch’ isn’t being a bitch at all. She’s not telling me to avoid people, she’s telling me to avoid the wrong people. She’s not telling me that it sucks being along. She’s telling me that I need to do the things that I want to do when I’m alone. She’s not saying that I’m a bitch and need to let my anger out, she’s reminding me that I want and deserve more and need to be more proactive about going to get it.

So, I’m not angry. I’m just really fucking craving to go out there and get what I want.