Everything Happens For A Reason

11 Jul

So Sunday night, I was sitting in my Mom’s kitchen, telling her I wished I had a month off to figure out what exactly I want to do with my life. Fundraising is a tough business – especially in a city like Houston, where we all compete for the same dollars. Hearing “no” all the time beats you down. And of course, being the way I am, every day that we DON’T find a cure, I feel guilty, like it’s my fault. Logically, I know I’m not a scientist – but it’s still incredibly difficult to talk to people with a life altering, chronic illness every day and not feel some sense of responsibility for their ongoing suffering.

Today I lost the job I moved to Houston for.

I almost wish I could tell you I’m devastated, that I don’t know how I’ll live. I would be lying.

This job has drained me for 2.5 years. Despite the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet, the incredible patients whose lives I’ve touched and been a part of…. I feel a tremendous weight off my shoulders. Will I, at 28 years old, finally find the job I was meant for?

The funny thing is, when I was in Wisconsin last week, I went to my Grandma’s grave, and we had a little chat. (I talk to her all the time, but somehow sitting at her headstone, I feel like I’m within arms reach of her again.) I reminded her that the last time I saw her alive, she told me I would find a job I love (I hadn’t told her I was even looking) and I asked her for her help again, to point me in the right direction. 

A few days later, I had that conversation with my mom. And today, I find myself sitting here, with the world wide open, and an opportunity to find my calling.

I am truly a lucky woman. Everything happens for a reason.

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Life Is A Burden

5 Jun

Ein Ende mit Schrecken ist immer noch besser als ein Schrecken ohne Ende. -Sophie Scholl
(Better an end with terror than a terror without end.)

One day, not so many years ago, I looked over the edge of the cliff that was my life, and I knew that with one short step I could fall forward, into the oblivion, and perhaps into peace.

For reasons that are still unclear to me (maybe I’m too brave? or not brave enough?) instead of taking that last step toward an untimely end, I backed away from the edge and sought the help I so desperately needed.

Not everyone is that lucky. People around us live day in and day out with voices inside their head pointing them to one conclusion: the only way out is to jump.

Suicide is a topic we tiptoe around. It happens every single day, in every single state, and yet we still whisper the word, like even saying it out loud will push someone into it.

It happened today, in a tiny town in Southern Wisconsin, to a person I didn’t know well, but who was loved by many – evidence of this overflows on his Facebook page, and the pages of those who held him dear.

I can’t even fathom the grief these people are feeling – the blame they may be shouldering for his loss. I keep thinking, if this person had been my friend, what would I do? Could I have helped? Would they have called in the middle of the night if they needed me? Would I have answered?

The pain I feel for this man’s loss, and the pain I feel for his family, friends, and the community we shared, overwhelms me tonight. I don’t have any advice – having been on that edge, I know the hopelessness he felt, I know what the voices sound like, and I know there was nothing anyone could’ve done for me. Suicide is a conscious decision that will be made without thinking of those around you. It is the ultimate act of selfishness. And yet – we cannot place blame on the victim. We have no right to judge something we do not understand. You can’t look into someones eyes and understand their pain.

Every day, 88 people in this country take their own life. We have a moral obligation to put aside our judgement & fear and support our fellow human beings through their times of crisis. This ability to help, to lend an ear, or a shoulder, or make a call when our friend can’t do it themselves… this is what makes us innately human.

If you are in crisis – there is help. Making this call is truly the bravest thing you can do.

1.800.273.8255 – www.asfsp.org

And if you’ve stumbled here and are grieving a loss… please know there is help. The web is full of first hand accounts from survivors – you don’t have to suffer your sadness alone. Here’s a good place to start. http://www.afsp.org/i-am/grieving

One parting thought. 90% of suicides are caused by mental illnesses that can be treated with medication. It’s time to share our stories, and shed light on this dark disease. I am always here to listen.

One Giant Leap For This Girl

8 Mar

I moved to Texas two years ago, and since I left Milwaukee, I haven’t seen a therapist.

I thought my anxiety was “under control” and not “ruining my life”. In the last few weeks, I’ve come to discover that I am wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don’t sleep unless I’m drugged up. I dread work because my phone anxiety is becoming overwhelming. I feel frustrated, helpless, and hopeless.

If there is one thing this girl is NOT, it’s helpless.

So, I just submitted a request for an appointment with a psychiatric group here in Houston. They’re supposed to call me to schedule an appointment within one business day. (Yeah, I submitted an online request. That’s how bad shit is getting around here!)

(also, a Google search recently revealed that I am not alone in this weird phone-anxiety-bullshit. THAT was a relief. It’s very isolating to think you’re the only person who suffers from a certain kind of crazy.)

Cheers to taking a step forward and regaining control of my mental health! Maybe, if you needed a push to see someone, this was it.

I’m A Big Effing Hypocrite

26 Feb

Holy crap, it’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

I’m here today to admit to you, my loyal friends, family, and awesome random people who have stumbled over me on the internet, that I am a big fucking hypocrite.

I preach on Facebook and in real life about the stigma attached to mental illness – how you shouldn’t be ashamed, how you should talk about it, how everyone should just fucking GET OVER IT, because one in four of your fellow Americans suffers from a mental illness.

And last week, I realized that I’m having a problem practicing what I preach.

You see, my anxiety disorder manifests basically in two ways: I HATE talking on the phone (no really, like, it paralyzes me with fear when I have to  call someone without knowing them. Putting a list of cold calls on my desk is the most awful, painful thing you could ever do to me. I’d rather have bamboo shoots stuck under my fingernails.) And crowds. Crowds & noise & hot FUCK ME UP.

So anyway, last week I met with my new boss, and I had to tell her this stuff, and seriously… I was the crying girl at the table in Starbucks. I can preach to everyone about how talking about it is OK, and YOU SHOULD TELL PEOPLE, I still see it as a flaw in myself. Something totally unforgivable. I guess it’s because the first time I had to talk about it, I didn’t know WHY it pained me so much (my anxiety diagnosis was still about a year in the future), and that truly made it feel like it WAS unforgivable. (The people at the organization I was with didn’t help, either.)

It’s a fear, I guess, that I’ll be judged, or docked points off the bat for having this “flaw”. I’m trying to learn to forgive myself for being “imperfect”, but it’s a daily battle. So now not only do I have this GODDAMN anxiety disorder, but I have to deal with the anxiety that I feel about HAVING THE GODDAMN ANXIETY DISORDER.

I’m lucky. I have this blog, and I have people I can vent to, and at the very worst, I have a prescription that helps. I’m so glad that this disease (this “imperfection”) was given to me and not someone else. Because without my support system, I have no idea what I’d do. Thank GOD that I can protect someone without that support from this godawful mental illness. If it had to be someone… I’m so glad it’s me.

 

Tell me an experience where you had to tell people what the hell was wrong with your fucked up head. Maybe if we share, we can move a step in the right direction to being able to talk freely about these demons.

 

PS: My boss was absolutely accepting of my admission. She didn’t look at me like I had a flaw. Actually, she told me how proud she was that I could be honest with her, and how helpful the knowledge will be as my manager. A small victory, I guess. One step closer to practicing what I preach.

I’m Not That Kind Of Girl

3 Jan

Side Note: This blog is becoming less about my anxiety issues (yay drugs!) and more about me navigating my way through being in my late 20’s, which is sometimes anxiety inducing as it is. I’m sorry if you’re sad I’m not on the crazy train anymore. I assure you, at some point, I’ll find myself boarding the next flight to Crazy Town. You can tune out until then, if you really want, or stick around and watch as I make a fool out of myself, over and over again.

So Tuesday night, I was hanging out with my “football boys” – a group of ridiculous gentlemen with whom I drink beer, watch the game, and bullshit with on a pretty regular basis. We go to this bar that is henceforth going to be known as The Office, where the waitresses are all adorable, sweet, and approximately 16 years old.

One of our favorite waitresses, probably the only one who will put up with us anymore, says to my buddy… dude, why is Shannon still single? And he says, I dunno, ask her. So she did.

And I didn’t have an answer, except for my usual bullshit about being a bitch and too much to handle.

A little bit later, we starting talking to this fun family at the table next to ours, who were having dinner and drinks, and cheering for the Wisconsin Badgers if only because I insisted they do so and they were afraid to disobey the drunk girl.

So eventually, the mom says to me… So, Shannon, what the hell? Why are you single? And dad pitches in, any guy would be lucky to have a girlfriend who loved to watch football and drink beer with the guys. You don’t meet many women who are content in front of a big screen set to NFL Network on Sunday.

What the hell is this, a conspiracy?

The truth is… I don’t really know. I’ve grown complacent in my “living alone” -ness. I am shockingly independent. I am also foul mouthed, moody, easily annoyed, and crabby. I march to the beat of my own drummer, including dancing and singing while putting gas in my car, wearing my pajamas to the grocery store at 11:30 pm, and owning two of the laziest cats on the planet.

On the other hand, those all might be excuses. I am terrified of putting myself out there… again. Rejection is something I AM REALLY BAD AT. (No one takes rejection well, I know this – I am just worse at it than most people.) I would, at this point, rather be alone (with lazy cats) than bear the embarrassment (real or imagined) of another failed attempt at a relationship.

So why do I run from relationships? I guess I’m just not that kind of girl anymore.

Being A Grown Up Is Scary

2 Jan

I just got back to Texas after an extended trip to Wisconsin, where I was coddled and cared for like a 5 year old, and I’m having trouble re-adjusting to normal adult life.

I took today, Weds, off, so I could get myself back into the swing of things and be refreshed and ready to go. Fail. I seriously didn’t get out of bed until 5 pm, and the most I accomplished all day was paying some bills. Oh, and getting the mail. I did do that. But for the most part, the cats and I slept and basically checked out of reality for the vast majority of the day.

I’m finding it harder and harder to not be terrified of being a grown up. For someone who spent their entire childhood wishing she was an adult, I’m shockingly bad at it. I’m almost 28 years old, and yet the thought of going to my office and sitting at my desk tomorrow is so overpoweringly unpleasant, I had to crawl back into bed and write about it instead of mentally prepping myself for what’s to come.

This is the age I thought I would be when I had my shit together, and yet so far, I could not possibly have it together less. I am being held together by packing tape, string, and a single binder clip, I swear.

It’s obviously time to start making some changes, but I’ve never been one to take a risk, so I guess I’ll continue waiting for a sign or something. Maybe a flowerpot somewhere is waiting to fall on my head and wake me up.

Happy 2013, y’all – I hope yours started out a little better than mine. Nothing like introspection and a healthy dose of whining to start the new year off on the right foot…. as usual, I seem to have stubbed a toe on that “right foot.” How about you?

Merry Christmas, Now Cut The Crap

25 Dec

First of all, Merry Christmas, y’all. I am extremely fortunate to have been able to spend this very special holiday with some of my more favorite people in the world here in The Cheese State. That being said, I’m very much looking forward to heading back to the Lonestar State on Monday. I hear there’s a New Years Eve party in the works, and I’m always up for drinking champagne out of the bottle.

So this post is about a month in the works, because I’ve been really busy with work, and really busy with pretending like I’m fine and dandy and fabulous.

I’m not.

So now that we’ve got the melodramatic bullshit out of the way, let’s move into the who, what, where, and why.

I’m having a really hard time lately “liking” myself – and I’m not talking my posts on The Facebook.

I finally reached a point where The Person Who Caused Me The Most Anxiety was distant memory (ish), and I managed to actually meet someone that I, well, liked. You know, the special kind of “like” that gives you butterflies & drives you to put on a little extra lip gloss when you visit a place they might be at? That kind of “like”.

Can I mention that I’m really, really awesome on paper, but not as polished in person? Like I fall down, or run into things, or say dumb stuff. Or don’t say anything at all. And when I do say stuff it’s the WRONG stuff.

It stands to reason that I am completely inept when it comes to flirting. Like, painfully awkward, and not in a cute way. More like in a, how did you make it 27 years old with more than one serious relationship under your belt? awkward. When there isn’t anyone on deck, I can usually embrace the awkward and be alright with it, but on the rare occasions I find myself interested in someone for more than 3 seconds (the attention span of a goldfish – I Googled it just to be sure), I’m a fucked up mess.

This leads to multiple (obnoxious) texts to friends dissecting what he said, and then what I said, and then what happened. I have no idea why they still reply. Sometimes I wonder if I’m their science fair project.

Around this time, I also start to make a fool out of myself around the person in question.

I hate “the game”, and I don’t mean 50 Cent’s rapper friend. This whole flirting/dating bullshit is for the birds. I miss the time when we were young enough that we could (GASP!) be honest, and either the other person felt the same way, or didn’t, and we moved on. It wasn’t a race to see who could be the most shady or aloof or hard to get. Humiliation lasted for hours, and didn’t become something we talked about with our therapists. Where did this go? Am I the only person who feels like this might be an easier approach?

I don’t know where the confidence I used to have went, but I miss it. I want to be fearless again – I want to stand in front of you, tell you I have a great time with you, invite you to dinner, and if you say no, I want to move on with my life without feeling like it’s a personal failure.

Is it really so much to ask that we cut the crap with each other and just be honest?