a Hogswatch wish…Ho…Ho HO

“This is Hogswatch, it’s a time to be jolly, with mistletoe and holly, and other things ending in –olly.” (From Terry Pratchett’s The HogFather)

The Holiday season used to be a favorite of mine when I was a child, back in Chicago.  Snow, sledding, Christmas trees, lights, presents, and lots of time with family…

Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself feeling a bit disillusioned by the holidays.

Part of this, I’m sure, is caused by seasonal depression.  I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, and have noticed that it is significantly worse during the winter months.  Whether it’s the cold, or the shorter days, I always seem to be a bit down once November rolls around.

This year is a little different from the last few.  While I am still struggling with my depression, I do find myself feeling a bit happier, and a bit more in the Holiday Spirit.

Could it be because I recently got married?  I’m sure that’s part of it.  In the midst of struggles, and difficulties, I find myself smiling, thinking about the day that my best friend and I officially joined our lives together as partners in life.   I’ve said it before, nothing much has changed in our relationship.  We’re still best friends, we’re still open, and we’re still crazy.  But at the same time, everything has changed.  I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I didn’t think it was possible to feel closer to this man, who I know inside and out, and he knows me the same…but I do.

This holiday season, I find myself extremely excited for a handful of parties and celebrations.  I’ve participated in a couple of gift exchanges, I’ve won a couple of items this year, I just feel festive.

I’m looking forward to our annual Hogswatch celebration.   Pork pies, sherry, and “The Hogfather” have become a yearly tradition with some friends, and I can’t wait for this year’s party.
We also have a Christmas party with our little family…the two couples who we have dinner with every Sunday night, and some other friends.

In addition, we’re also doing an after Christmas Sunday dinner complete with a white elephant gift exchange.

The only thing I feel like doing this year, that I can’t do, is decorating a tree.  I had one for a while, but the last year that I was in my apartment, about 4 years ago, it was falling apart really badly. I threw it away and never replaced it.  It would be nice to decorate this year, but with so much going on (parties, and the possibility of moving), I think it would be just too much to deal with.

As the year comes to an end, it’s natural to reflect on all that has happened this year: good and bad…and there’s been a lot of bad this year, to be truthful.
There’s been SO much good though, it really warms my heart to think about it.

I will still save my “year in review” blog for the end of the month, but as Hogswatch rolls around, I really am feeling jolly…and other things…ending in “olly.”

My beloved and I started the year off on a high note with the NYE party we worked last year on the strip.  We had our anniversary dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak with some of our closest friends, and he surprised the hell out of me with a beautiful proposal.  I’ve made several new friends through an amazing wedding planning forum.  Morgan and I travelled to California to see Underworld, the original line up!  We’ve had amazing nights with our dearest friends, Sunday dinners with people we love.  One month ago, we got married.  We had a ceremony that people are STILL talking about.  I met one of his oldest friends and his dad.  He finally got to meet my extended family.  We had an amazing weekend filled with friends, love, and each other.  We’ve had game nights, and movie nights.  Taken care of each other when the other is sick.  We adopted a puppy, so now we have TWO fur kids!  I’ve participated in 2 gift exchanges with some amazing women.  We’re looking at houses to move into that will ultimately save us some money.   And finally, we won a trip to anywhere in the contiguous 48 states: paid air fare and hotel for 3 days, 4 nights.  We can go anywhere we’d like, and so we are exploring options for a fun vacation next year.

With all the madness in the world these days, the world needs more love.  So, please allow me, from the bottom of my heart, to wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate: from Hogswatch to Hanukah, from Yule to Christmas, from Kwanza to Pancha Ganapati, From Boxing Day to Newtonmas, and everywhere in between, may the rest of the month be full of love, light, laughter, mistletoe, holly…and yes…other things…ending in “olly.”

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Suicide is Painless…the battle for life during depression…how I win the fight with suicidal thoughts

***Author’s note.  This blog was written on April 4. Since that time, I am pleased to say that I no longer feel this way every day.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I thought about suicide.  In light of recent events, for many of my friends across the country dealing with sadness, troubles, deaths and suicides of friends, I thought I would share this.  Please send a link to anyone who you feel would benefit from it.***

Hi. My name is Mina. I’ve suffered from depression for over 15 years. Over those 15 years, I’ve been suicidal a number of times. Over the last 3 months, not a single day goes by that I don’t think about taking my own life.

On the outside of it, things probably look pretty damn good. For you, looking in at me here’s what you see: A 32 year old woman who has a steady job, her own apartment, tons of friends, sex on a regular basis, and is a talented singer and dancer.

These are all true and valid points. I do have a steady job, my own apartment, tons of friends, sex on a regular basis, and I am a fairly talented singer and dancer.

But the problem that I have is that the bad overshadows the good for me. I have tons of wonderful things in my life. Far more good than bad.

But the bad is louder.

The bad is pushier.

The bad is more persistent.

When I’m having a rough or bad day, I can’t look at all of the amazing things that I have going on in my life. All I can see is that I’m stuck in a job that I hate, and all of my knowledge is going to waste. I live by myself and am struggling to pay my bills and rent. I have 2 people in my life that I am comfortable talking to about EVERYTHING, and a bunch of people that I’m afraid of being a burden to. I get sex whenever I want, but I’m not in a romantic relationship. The man I love is dating someone else, and will not date me until I get all my shit together, and even then, its a “maybe.” I may be talented, but there are many people out there who sing better than I do, who don’t get scared of singing. And millions of other dancers out there, who are far better at what I want to do than I am.

Now, the thing is…I know that NONE of this bad stuff is bad enough for me to ever ACTUALLY take my own life. Ever. But we’ll get to that a little later.

Imagine being overwhelmed with these thoughts every day. All day. All night. It keeps you from sleeping. You’re so depressed about all of the things that you don’t have, and all that is terrible in your life, that all you want to do is sleep, but you can’t. So you take sleeping pills. They don’t help. You might sleep, but you don’t rest.

You hate the way you look, so you compulsively start working out, trying to eat healthier. You don’t lose any weight though, not as soon as you’d like to, and you become frustrated, and start eating comfort food. Vicious cycle. You’d like to have an eating disorder to lose the weight, but you can’t. You love food too much and feel awful when you don’t eat, and you physically CANNOT make yourself vomit. You think about just using laxatives, but you’re terrified of the damage they will do to your already broken body. So, you just eat. You eat, and you cry. This is your life.

You have no desire to do any of the things that you used to love to do. Dancing doesn’t bring you joy anymore, it frustrates you. You compare yourself to every other dancer you see, and you find yourself wanting. You don’t think that you can hold a candle to what is out there…or just the opposite: you think you’re better than the girls that are performing professionally, and you become bitter about the fact that they are all being offered jobs and gigs, and you aren’t. You lose your drive. You lose your passion. And you give up.

You feel so unloved, because the one man that you can picture yourself being with will not give you a chance…he gives other girls chances all the time…but not you. You wonder what is wrong with you, that you’re good enough to be his best friend, and good enough to fuck on a regular basis, but not good enough to be in a real, romantic relationship with…and you are sad, because you know that if he gave you a chance, that you would be so good together…he wouldn’t have to compromise who he is for you. You love and accept who he is. And he does love you…just not like that. Is anyone ever going to love you the way you want to be loved? Are you asking too much? So you cry. You cry all the time…especially on the rare occasion that he shows you extra attention, like a kiss on your birthday. Well, you’re just so damn happy, you can’t sleep. You cry and you cry and you cry. And you tell him the truth, that it was the greatest birthday gift ever, but that you aren’t taking it the wrong way…but deep in your heart, you wish that he had meant it another way.

All of these things, and so much more…your inability to find spiritual contentment, your addictions, your compulsions, your cynicism about life in general…all these things begin to weigh down on you, no matter how much good there is, no matter how many great days you have…

I fucking hate my life.”

This becomes your mantra.

You say this over and over, day in, day out, and it doesn’t matter what happened. It could be the smallest thing:

You stub your toe. “I fucking hate my life.”

Your coworker makes a mistake. “I fucking hate my life.”

You say the wrong thing to your best friend. “I fucking hate my life.”

Your internet goes down. “I fucking hate my life.”

Until the thought makes its way into your head: “I should just kill myself and get it over with.”

The first time this thought crossed my mind recently, it shook me to my core. I haven’t thought about killing myself in 10 years. Well…unless you count that 2 week period on Zoloft, when I wanted to drive my car off the 15S on ramp every day…but that was just the medication being stupid.

Of course, the first thing that I thought AFTER thinking “I should just kill myself and get it over with.” was this: “Really Mina? Are you fucking nuts? Do you want to lose EVERYTHING that you have? Wake up. That’s not the answer.”

And yet…the thought continues to enter my mind, at least once a day.

Now, realistically, I know that this is not healthy behavior. I know that I should probably seek professional help, and commit myself to a hospital for a while, until I learn to cope.

But realistically, I can’t do that.

I have bills to pay. I have rent. What would happen to my apartment if I was locked up? How would my bills get paid if I wasn’t working? Short term disability does NOT pay that much.

I can’t disappear without letting my friends and family know where I’m going, either, and this would kill them. My mom, anyway. She’d die. I really think she would. She’d blame herself, like she always does, every time I show signs of being depressed. If she only knew.

Not to mention the fear I have of losing my best friend. He’s always telling me that I’m being silly when I have my sad days, and telling me all the amazing things that I have going on…I know he doesn’t understand. He wouldn’t understand why I struggle with these thoughts every day. I’m worried about his reaction when he reads this blog. I hope he understands, that he is one of the reasons I keep hanging on. He is one of the reasons that I don’t hurt myself, or take any final action.

The thing is about suicide…it is a very very permanent solution to a temporary problem. Or problems.

So things are bad right now. So I can’t get past the darkness today. There will be a time when the darkness is so far away, it will just seem like a bad dream. Hell, look at the last 10 years of my life!

Granted, no, they weren’t the best years of my life…they were rough, and they were hard. But I didn’t think about killing myself every day during that time. I know that I can get there again, if I’m persistent. If I keep hanging on, no matter how much it hurts.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, I’m making me stronger by forcing myself to stay in this world, day by day. One more day at a time. Every day, I get a little stronger. Even if its just a fraction of an inch, I’m stronger.

These hard times will pass. As impossible as it might seem…

What keeps me going is thinking about how selfish it would be of me to take my own life. Suicide may be painless for those who die, but for those left behind, it leaves nothing but a mess, bitterness, confusion and emptiness.

I think about my mom, who has so bravely battled cancer, who would be crushed if she ever received the call “Your daughter overdosed on sleeping pills.” My sister…who has a matching dragonfly tattoo on her hip just like mine…how devastated would she be if she was told that I’d slashed my wrists in the bathtub?

I consider the friends that I have…even though I don’t want to burden them with the garbage that goes on in my head…I know that they would be sad if I took my own life. Not that their worlds would be shattered, but I can’t cause the people I care for that much pain.

What about my girl friend who sends me adorable pictures every day, because she knows what I’m going through? I’ve been as much a pillar in her life as she has been in mine…how could I take away one of the only female friends that she has because I feel at this ONE moment in time that life has no meaning?

My best friend. The man I love. The one person on the planet who understands me, and knows everything about me…well…except that I think about killing myself every day…what would that do to him? All the years that he’s invested in me…all the encouragement, all of the love that he’s shown, all of the times that he’s just held me while I cried, all of the times that he’s known just what I needed…I can’t do that to him…

So I press on. Because, true to my nature, I can’t put myself, my selfishness, my selfish thoughts, above those I love. I want to take care of them…and as bad as things might be for me now, they would be worse for my loved ones if I left.

Besides, all things considered, all the bad shit that comes up every day, I have SO much that is worth living for. Things that haven’t happened yet…even things that probably have no chance of happening for that matter, but I’d rather be alive and give the Universe the opportunity to surprise me.

If I kill myself, I’ll never see Egypt.
I’ll never see another VNV Nation show.
I’ll never travel to Germany to see Straftanz perform.
I’ll never meet David Tennant and have him fall head over heels in love with me. (like that would ever ACTUALLY happen, but hey, a girl can dream right?)

I’ll never publish all of the stories, poems and novels that I have swimming around in my head.
I’ll never see who my nieces and nephews grow up to be.
I’ll never spend another birthday with my parents, my aunts and uncles, sister and her kids.
I’ll never dance again.
If I kill myself, I’ll never be able to enjoy the beauty of a sunset on the beach in San Diego. I’ll never hold another beautiful baby.
I’ll never kiss the man I love ever again.
I’ll never get another tattoo.

I’ll never geek out over Doctor Who episodes with my friends.
I’ll never enjoy the quiet of my own apartment.
Never enjoy a cup of PG Tips tea with milk and sugar while soaking in a hot bath.

Never watch Harry Potter by candlelight again.
Never laugh with my friends.
Never cry with my friends.
Never be there for my friends and family when they need me.

There is SO much good in the world…So much good in each of our lives.

No matter how bad things seem, no matter how bad things ARE, they are never bad enough that you need to end your life.

You. Yes you. I’m talking to you, right now.

Your husband cheated on you. It will be ok.

Your kids “hate” you and are on drugs. It will be ok.

You lost your job. It will be ok.

You feel that no one understands you. It will be ok.

Your ex screwed you over and took your child away from you. It will be ok.

You are bullied and ridiculed every day for your looks or your sexual orientation. It will be ok.

You have no money, no place to live, and no food to eat. It will be ok.

There is no situation so dire that you can’t get help somehow. You feel as though there is no one who would care if you took your own life. I understand, and I am here to tell you that you are WRONG. There is always someone who would be saddened. There is always someone who will care.

I care.

I may not know you, but I know that your life is precious. I know that your life is worth saving. I know that if you end your life, you will be robbing the world of a person capable of doing great and wonderful things.

Not everyone is as strong as I am forcing myself to be. I should be in counseling right now, but my situation prevents me from being able to do so. I have no car, no money, and no way to take time off work right now. So I have to be strong. I can’t let these thoughts take root in my mind any more. I try my best to squash them as soon as they come.

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I squash one, and 10 more come to replace it.

If you can’t do it on your own, please get help. Find an outreach program. If you have insurance, most places offer a free Employee Assistance program that will give you a few free counseling sessions. Its worth looking into. I saw an amazing counselor who really helped me a lot. I’d love to see her now, if I could get myself to her…

I’m telling you now, though, that you are worth it. No matter how bad things seem, no matter how bad things ARE…they are never so bad that you have to take your own life.

Hell, just tonight, I had a breakdown at Walmart because of some stupid shit, and guess what words I uttered as I cried in the parking lot? “I fucking hate my life.”

But while I may hate my life, and while you may hate yours, its the only one we have. Well, maybe not if you believe in reincarnation, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll REMEMBER this life if you are reincarnated. Do you really want to throw it away because of some hard times?

I’m not saying that things aren’t as bad as you think they are. I know that when you are feeling depressed and suicidal, that no matter how “silly” the bad things may seem to others, they are devastating to the person experiencing them. But devastating as they are, things WILL get better.

Your life is worth saving. My life is worth saving.
Keep pressing on, keep pushing. You can make it. You can do it. You don’t have to be silently suicidal anymore. Get help. Be strong. Make yourself stronger. I believe in myself enough to do it, and I believe in you, too.

Early morning ramblings

I’m sitting up at Starbucks this morning, 2 hours before I have to work.  Morgan has been working 10 hour days since January, and since we carpool…I usually have some time to kill.  Normally, I’d be trying to sleep, but I got plenty of rest last night, and I’ve got a lot of things on my mind.

I’ve been on new anti-depressants for almost 2 weeks now.  I’d like to think that they are helping me to balance out my awful mood swings.  I do think they are working…but given the fact that Aunt Irma is visiting this week, and some circumstances over the last couple of days, I’m feeling angsty and emotional today.

The funny thing is, I’m not sad. I’m angry.  Well, ok and a little…down.

I’m angry because there are many situations occurring around me that I am unable to control.  Not that I need to, because its not anything in MY personal life…but my best and closest friends are being effected…and in a negative way.  I want to bulldoze all of their problems so that they can be happy.  Health problems?  Gone.  Money issues?  Not anymore.  Car trouble? Fixed.  Relationship issues?  Resolved.

But I can’t do that.  And even if I *could* do that, I shouldn’t.  A good friend reminded me yesterday that there is a reason that my friends are experiencing these things.  I can’t take them away, because there would be no learning experience for them.

And it also provides a learning experience for me.

I’m learning much more about myself from watching these events unfold. Some of the things I’m learning, I don’t like so much.

For example…one of my friends has been very down, and negative lately, for good reason.  Everything gets to this person, and even attempts to make them laugh backfire.  This morning, I felt as though the Universe was holding up a mirror.  Is this how *I* appear, when I’m in my moods?  Is how I’m feeling right now, the frustration that NOTHING I do gets them out of their funk how everyone else feels about me when I’m like that?

*shudders*

I’m glad I’m on these new meds.  Even though I know that they are not “happy pills,” and that I will not always be in an amazing mood…if they help me to NOT go back to this place…

I don’t ever want to be like that EVER again.  Focusing on all the negative ALL the time…failing to see the little bit of good that IS going on…or if I do see it, failing to acknowledge it…

I’m feeling down for the same old bullshit reasons.  Trying to focus my energy on what I DO have, rather than what I don’t have.  Its hard, but I’ve been doing a little better lately, I think.  I’ve been cherishing the time that I do get with the people I love, fleeting as it may feel…enjoying all of the little things that I tend to overlook sometimes…a text, a call, a “like” on facebook, a new follower on my blog…a lingering hug, a look that speaks more than words could ever say….and of course, hearing and actually taking to heart the words “I love you.”

Its one thing to hear it.  But to hear it, and acknowledge in your heart that this person, whoever it is: friend, lover or otherwise REALLY truly means it…

Which leads me to the other reason I’m feeling a little low today.

I have a question that probably should remain unasked…but part of me feels the need to know something about a situation from the not too distant past…I’m sure I’m going to regret asking, but I’m feeling a sense of urgency since this morning.

I’m being cryptic on purpose, to protect individuals who may or may not be involved…I don’t even know if this person reads this blog or not…probably not, to be honest…but in any case…

I’ve decided that at some point or another today, I want to try to have a conversation with this individual, just to get some things set straight before we each move on with our lives…My gut is telling me that I’m going to be saddened at the answer…but maybe my gut will be wrong this time.

At any rate…Sometimes we have to do things that aren’t pleasant, or don’t feel good for the betterment of ourselves.  I feel that I will be stronger for obtaining the answer to this question.  I feel that I’m stronger already for admitting that I need help.

I know that I’m making progress.  I look at my life now, and my life 4 years ago…and I don’t even recognize that weak child anymore.

I have a long way to go.  But I’m going to make it.  I know I can.

The best part is, and this goes for EVERYONE who reads this:

I can do it on my own.  But I don’t have to, because I am surrounded by friends who are walking the road with me.  Not FOR me…but with me.  They are my support and my cheerleaders.  When I fall, they help me up.  When I need encouragement, they cheer me on.

Can I do it without them?  Of course.  But allowing them to be there to help me makes the road that much sweeter to walk.

Fail forward

Fail: 1. To fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired or approved. 2. To be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short. 3. To dwindle, pass, or die away. 4. To lose strength or vigor; become weak.

 Such a negative word to be on my mind after such a phenomenal weekend. “Fail.” “Failure.”

 Is failure really such a negative thing though? If you stop and think about it, what options do you have when you fail? You can give up, or you can try again.

 Up until recently, the option that I would have picked was give up. I would utter those two words I was so fond of “I’m done” and just give up. What’s the point in trying again? Seriously, especially if its something that you’ve failed at over and over again…if you’re just going to fail again, why bother?

 The problem with that thought pattern, however, is that it very quickly becomes a downward spiral. Soon, you are failing at seemingly everything you try, and then, what becomes the point of even living? So you give up. You give up trying, you give up hoping…and when that happens, most people end up trying something really foolish and stupid.

 Not this girl.

 This girl saw the pattern beginning. I saw myself “failing at everything I tried.” But the problem wasn’t that I was really failing. I wasn’t really trying. Even more to the point, I wasn’t “doing.” Yoda’s famous words are so very true: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

You either make things better, or you don’t. You either communicate, or you don’t. You either change or you don’t.

 Does this mean that when you realize that you’re not “doing,” that you suddenly succeed at everyting you attempt? Of course not. Sometimes you continue to fail. It doesn’t mean that you need to stop “doing” or “trying.” You just have to do something different. If you want different results, you can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again…that would be the definition of insanity, folks.

 And so, on this lovely Monday morning…I have failed. I have failed in an effort to communicate, and in an effort to control my emotional side.

But I’m not giving up.

What I realized is that the assumptions that I made were incorrect. Therefore, I will not be making them again. Not in the way that I did anyway. I will make more informed decisions, but not assumptions.

If I give up, then what is the point?

Its in the trying again, the doing something different to get the desired result…THAT is where life happens!

And so, I have accepted my failure today. I have allowed myself a few moments to wallow in the defeat. And I am moving on.

Back when I was a church-goer, my old youth pastor used to say “If you’re going to fail, fail forward.” Sound advice. Go ahead and fail. But learn from it. Learn from it, and don’t go back.

And whatever you do, don’t give up.