The Constant Fear

I have a bunch of fears. Some of these you may find silly, but others maybe not so.

  1. I’m petrified of heights.
  2. I’m terrified of dying via an illness or a bite which makes me a bit of a hypochondriac.
  3. I’m scared of silence.
  4. I’m scared of losing the people I love.
  5. I’m terrified of the current president-elect situation
  6. Bees. That is all.
  7. I have this stupid fear that spiders seek revenge.
  8. I’m scared of my mental health dive bombing.

I face a lot of these fears everyday. The one, however, that has been on my mind the most has been #8.

I’ve been on a nice road to recovery ever since the year of living hell that was 2016. I feel genuine happiness much more often now, I haven’t had a panic attack since early December, and I haven’t felt suicidal.

Yet in these few weeks before classes begin again, I feel my depression coming back. I didn’t go to a Group Therapy meeting because I couldn’t get out of bed. Portland is currently covered in snow and I’ve only been outside once to enjoy the snowy wonderland. I have had to take drowsy medication to make myself sleep at night and my nightmares have returned. Last night, I lay awake until 3:00 in the morning, terrified that this height was going to crash again and 2017 would be exactly like 2016.

I hadn’t gotten a chance to see my therapist because of the foot of snow that is covering our driveway and street combined with my lack of chains for my tires, so we decided to call each other and have a shorter therapy session that way. Thank goodness I did.

I told her my fear of crashing back into depression again after I told her all the awesome things that have happened to me this year. She said this to me,

“You have depression, Zoey. This may just happen from time to time.”

I at first related it to that awful therapist who told me around this time last year I would have panic attacks for the rest of my life.

“Oh god no. I’m going to have depression for the rest of my life too”, I thought.

“But”, she continued, “you don’t feel suicidal right?”

“No.”

“Good! You’ve been cooped up in your house probably right?

“Yep.”

“Alright that sure doesn’t help. But this is a mental illness you have, Zoey. I know that the idea of crashing is really scary, but you have so many more tools that can keep you from collapsing again.”

She’s right, damn it.

I am terrified of becoming that depressed again. I’m scared of not being able to find joy in things I love again, of crying every day, of being unmotivated and glued to my bed.

Yet I realized that when I noticed how depressed I was feeling and the thoughts I was having, I was already using techniques that I had learned from her. I used mindfulness to recognize the depressed thoughts, label them, and put them in storage boxes to be sent away. I practiced deep breathing. I put on my meditation playlist on YouTube. I took action as soon as I recognized the thoughts happening, which I had never done before.

The bad news is that she may be right about having depressive episodes for a long time and this hasn’t exactly stopped my fear of going back to where I was. I have really serious depression and I am foolish to think that I can snap out of such a scarring mental illness so quickly. I also am terrified of bad things happening seeing as how I have a lot of evidence that shows my trend of my mental illness going to shit.

The good news is I feel much more confident about handling it. Sure, I need some days to lie in bed and feel like shit. Yet, those days when I’m lying in bed and feeling like shit I’m not letting those thoughts bring me further down. Instead, they are staying right where they are. In the morning, they feel a little lighter. It doesn’t sound like much, but for right now, it’s enough.

Have a day filled with kittens, Okay?

Zoey K.

Teaching my body that I’m getting better

I am in this very weird conundrum. I am on medication that helps me get out of bed and gives me the energy my depression was sucking away. I actually feel joy for the first time this entire year. My anxiety is on the low, with only a panic attack once a month (and usually for predictable reasons). Yet, my body still is in shelter mode.

I realized this when I was lying stark awake, anxious out of my mind the first day of winter break at my parent’s house. I was anxious because I had nothing to be anxious about, but my brain convinced me that there was something I had to be anxious about. I was anxious about not being anxious. How the actual fuck does that work? Then, I started getting exhausted again and my brain immediately started gravitating back toward the intense depression (its more on a mild scale now) but my chemistry was just fine. It threw out suggestions of suicide but I in no way felt suicidal.

What the hell brain??

I talked to my mom about this and she said that my brain hasn’t gotten accustomed to being okay because I was in such a detrimental mental state for so long. The idea of being genuinely happy and relaxed was something my brain and my body hadn’t felt for nearly an entire year. Once the horrendous feelings were being subdued, it was like taking away the drug from the addict. I think I’m going through mental illness withdrawals.

Is that a thing?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Okay?

Zoey K.

How are you?

I want to obliterate that question from our normal conversation.

I work in retail so I have to ask every customer that question and in return they answer and then return the question right back to me. This is how it usually goes:


Me: Hello! Find everything alright?

Customer: Yep!

Me: Great! How are you doing today?

Customer: I’m doing pretty well, how about you?

Me: I’m doing alright thanks!


You know what that conversation is laced with?

LIES.

But you can’t just tell a stranger the truth about how you’re really feeling. Can you imagine? It would probably go something like this:


Me: Hello! Find everything alright?

Customer: Yep!

Me: Great! How are you doing today?

Customer: I’m in a shopping mall and you’re not folding fast enough and my kid is wrecking your display but I’m not going to tell them not to because I’m exhausted from having to deal with my own kid everyday. I’m a tired, over-worked mother and please just give me my new clothes. How are you doing?

Me: Well I’m horrendously depressed and exhausted from acting happy everyday and I’m just trying to live and not think about killing myself all the time because that’s a thing now and life is just a real piece of shit right now and I’m working to keep myself busy so that I don’t constantly think about how awful I feel, thanks for asking!


No, we can’t do that because no one wants to hear it. No one wants to be a “downer”. So we lie. The only people who we can tell the truth to are friends and family who genuinely want to know how we’re doing. But people who I’m ringing up a shirt for? They could give less of a shit how I’m doing and it goes the same for me. Its not that we’re rude people, its just that we simply don’t have enough energy to carry the load of a stranger’s daily problems and true feelings.

So how can we fix this?

I’ve personally started complimenting customers instead of asking how their day is going. Whether its their hair or their glasses or their little earrings or just the fact that I like how they matched their clothing, I throw a compliment. This way, I don’t have to be asked how my day is and be thrown back into reality and they get a compliment and we both feel good.

How do you handle getting that question thrown at you? Leave it in the comment section or tweet at me! (@okayzoeyk)

Have a day filled with kittens, okay?

Zoey K.

Fun story about retail: One day a kid asked me if we had any wrist clocks. I nearly farted I laughed so hard.

We’re Not Cookies

TW: suicide.


The title seems laughably cheesy, but I wished I had realized it earlier.

I have been through a lot of shit in my life that I wish that I had never been through and for a while it seemed like the shit never stopped coming my way. When I was taught to stop looking at life like its my constant enemy and started learning to love myself, my life really and truly started turning around. But I made a mistake in this positive growth; I thought I was nearly done. I thought all I needed was the icing on the cake (which for me is not visibly cringing and recoiling when I receive compliments) and then I’d be a better version of myself; a complete metamorphosis of the girl who is Zoey. But I was wrong.

Over the past couple of days I made a lot of stupid mistakes that I wish I could turn back time and undo. But I can’t. Instead of accepting my actions, learning from them, and moving on, I couldn’t handle what I had did and so I tried to end my life for what feels like the umpteenth time in a year. Suddenly, it was like because I had made these mistakes that completely questioned my character of who I thought I was, I didn’t trust myself anymore. All of that work I did on self love was thrown out the window. I started hating myself and this hidden element that I had discovered had stained me. I couldn’t love myself with this revealed new piece to my puzzle without edges. I didn’t think I could let anyone love me now that this part of me had been revealed to me and I didn’t trust myself with anyone. So what is the answer? Suicide of course because what normal person would think of that.

So I spent some time in a hospital recovering and then after that rather horrific experience, I saw my therapist today.

I explained to her why I didn’t feel fit to live and the situation that led me to this life-ending decision. I told her why I felt like I couldn’t love myself again and she asked a really important question:

“Who are you besides what you have been made to believe?”

I took a longer pause than I probably should have. “I’m…a singer and an art historian.”

Therapist: “There’s much more than just your majors.”

Me: “…..I’m a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a friend.”

Therapist: “And you are many, many other things. You have to realize that you cannot let one flaw that someone has revealed to you define your entire self and your entire existence. That sounds like the perfect recipe to drive yourself crazy.”

Damn those therapists…they’re smart as fuck.

So my warning to you readers, and what I’m taking from this experience, is that we people are not baked goods. We’re never done.

We’re more like trees: we keep growing and growing until one day we reach that life span or the sun explodes or something. Sometimes we get mites in our barks, but we still have the root system under which we started and just because there’s mites, doesn’t mean they’ll stay there forever and that suddenly the rest of the tree is worthless. There are still are all of those branches that took all that time to grow and are still continuing to grow.  A bird may come and eat the mites and that doesn’t mean the mite problem is suddenly solved.

I’m going to continue growing my branches and my root system and I’m going to call every bird in the forest to come get rid of these mites until I can go back to being a healthy tree again. But for now, its a work in progress.

Have a day filled with kittens, Okay?

Zoey K.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call or text one of the following numbers and seek help immediately. There is help and you are never alone. 

Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741 

Pride

Its a word I often have trouble associating in a positive light.

On the Fourth of July (The United States’ Independence Day), many Americans feel pride for this country. There was a lot that happened this year that made me feel less than proud about being an American, but I am grateful for many things this country has allowed me to be such as a student and marrying the person of my choosing. However, this blog post is not my own controversial thoughts about being an American. This post is about a different kind of pride.

I am, for the first time in a long time, proud of myself.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been proud of myself this year alone and this is the second. I should really say, that I have let myself be proud. I suppose I viewed loving myself and pride in the same light; that they were negative things that only egotistical people should allow themselves to feel. But yet again, I’m wrong. So wonderfully wrong!

Yesterday, I spent a lot time with the incredible friends I have. I spent an entire day working on a puzzle of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (which is EXTREMELY difficult, yet absolutely hysterical. I must make another blog post about it) and cooking with a couple of wonderful people, and then I was going to spend the rest of my night with a bunch of friends, a few who I hadn’t seen in too long. My night, unfortunately, was cut short by a panic attack.

I had a feeling it was going to happen. I took a nap and when I woke up from said nap, I already had to convince myself to go out. It was the usual conversation:

Me: Unh… Fuck I think I’m too tired to do this. Maybe I’m just getting hit with a depression spell again… maybe I should stay home and play Skyrim…

My Good Subconscious: ZOEY YOU ABSURD FOOL YOU ARE NOT MISSING ANOTHER FRIENDLY OUTING

Me: I don’t think I can do it though…

MGS: CHANNEL OBAMA BECAUSE YES YOU CAN

Me: But I feel depressed..

MGS: YOU ARE ONLY GOING TO SEE THESE PEOPLE FOR A FEW DAYS THIS ENTIRE SUMMER MISSY GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF THIS COMFY ASS BED

Me: But..but…Fullmetal Alchemist! 

MGS: EDWARD KUN CAN WAIT

Me: But what if…

MGS: Ok look. I know. This sucks and deep down inside, you’re a little scared too.I see all these thoughts racing past me. The fireworks will make you anxious or the idea of being around so many people will make you anxious or everything will make you anxious. But I know you because…well I am you. If you don’t go, you’re going to wallow and think about shit that hurts  and probably listen to twenty one pilots and you’re going to see pictures and snapchats of all of them having fun and you’re going to feel really shitty about it the whole night. Remember, you can always leave. So whaddya say, champ?

 

And that is how I got my sorry Dragonborne-loving ass out of bed.

My fears came true, though. Right as dinner was ending, I felt the inklings of a panic attack coming on, and despite what my therapists think, there’s no stopping the train once its in motion. Thankfully, I had a lovely dinner with my friends and they were ridiculously supportive of me leaving as well as making sure I made it to the check being placed down back in front of me.

Normally, I would go home and beat myself up over a situation like this. But for the first time in my entire life, my mind didn’t immediately go there. Instead, it was the most supportive I’ve ever had it willingly be.

I was congratulating myself on going even when I didn’t think I could mentally do it. I applauded myself for being honest with not only my friends, but to me as well. I gave myself a huge pat on the back for simply trying. I did all of that without having a single self-demeaning thought. All of these thoughts came without a negative thought preceding them and that has never happened to me before. When I stood in that steaming hot shower as my heart rate finally started to calm down, I was tired, sure, but I was proud. I was proud…after having a fucking panic attack! I know the fireworks I hear outside my window are for America, but I feel like they match the fireworks going off in my heart too.

Have a day filled with kittens, Okay?

Zoey K.

 

 

Shit Happens – A Conversation

I was in treatment one day reading this book called Attitudes of Gratitude by M.J. Ryan. The chapter I was reading was about how we as people view the universe. It starts out with a quote by Joan Barysenko quoting Albert Einstein.

“Einstein was asked what he thought the most important question was that a human being needed to answer. His reply was, ‘Is the universe friendly, or not?'” 

The chapter then goes into what happens when we view the universe as friendly vs how we view it as unfriendly. Viewing it as friendly means that “we believe that life is on our side, that good things will come our way, and that even when bad things happen, they are bumps in the road designed to teach us to become more wise, more whole, more loving.” Viewing it as unfriendly means that, “we see our life as an endless struggle against difficult odds, we believe bad things are either random or sent purposefully to torture us, that there is nothing we can count on and therefore we must brace ourselves for the next crisis, hoarding what we have in. In this view, gratitude is very situation specific. We’re grateful – maybe – when things go well, but we are always read to fall for it all to disappear.”

Now I have had enough bad shit happen to me where I subscribed very heartily to viewing the universe as unfriendly according to Ryan’s definition. I wanted to appreciate life, but I was terrified of the next bad thing to smack me in the face just as things were going well. So I asked my treatment therapist what she thought it all meant. She said (completely quoted by her. No bullshit),

“Shit happens.” ~ Treatment therapist 

(To soothe your minds before you call the treatment center, she was blunt with me a lot because I prefer it when therapists are like that. She one time told me, after I explained what happened to me in middle school, “That sucks hardcore.” and I never felt more supported by a therapist in my life.)

I was a little flabbergasted though.

“What do you mean?” I asked. (Following conversation is paraphrased)

“Look, I get you like this book, but its not empowering to think one way or the other like its black and white. Go with the flow. Instead of saying, ‘oh well the universe is just a little unfriendly today oh gee whiz’, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this situation?  How do you adapt?’ You don’t have to be this little positive person all the time to live a good, healthy, meaningful life. Sometimes life sucks, and it may seem like life sucks a lot right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to focus on them.” 

She was right. She’s not telling me to push feelings down just to make it seem like everything is fine. Instead feel it, but learn. There is no shame in having a bad day, but don’t brood on it so that it becomes a bad week and then a bad month. The way my attitude is makes a huge impact, but that doesn’t mean I have to adopt only one frame of mind. Life can’t be viewed in one frame; its simply not built that way.

I then asked her about hope. Lately I had been hopeful about a lot of things that probably weren’t going to happen and I was wondering if there was any point in doing that as well.

“If you didn’t have hope, I would be really concerned about you. You can always hope, but it matters how you handle the disappointment.”  

It all ties together. It matters about not what you feel, but how you handle it, what you learn from it, and how I adapt to it. Darwin is right when he says that adaption is the key to survival and I’m ready not to just survive, but live.

Have a day filled with kittens, Okay?

Zoey K.

A Letter From Senior Year Me

I arrived back from treatment on Thursday and along with a Makar plushie from the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker sent from my brother, I had a letter written to me, from me. I didn’t remember writing a letter to myself recently so I opened it confused. It was a letter from when I was a senior in high school while I was doing this program called “Inward Bound”.

I was a speaker at this program for the middle school kids at my school about bullying. I went through a ton of bullying while I was in middle school and the therapist at school wanted me to share my story along with four other seniors. I had completely forgot that I wrote a letter and I didn’t expect to receive it nearly 3 years later. I thought I’d share some  of it and my reply now that I’m nearly 3 years older and in college.

“Dear Little Miss College, 11/8/13

So I’m currently at the Middle School participating in Inward Bound with the 8th graders here. I have to talk about what happened to me in 8th grade (note, it was horrible). Not gonna lie, it was one of the most difficult speeches I’ve ever had to write. A lot of feeling threatened to rise again, but they need to hear it. I’d be shocked if at least one of them wasn’t going through something similar to what I went through. We’re taking a trip on the emotion roller coaster. Woo! (Woo indeed).

Happy belated birthday miss a-dult! Its only been a few days, but the high of entering this new point of my life still hasn’t worn off. I just applied to Lewis & Clark College, Bard College, and Clark University 2 weeks ago (but I still haven’t heard from Bard…). I hope you are having an unbelievable time at one of these schools, and I hope you are using and taking advantage of all the tools college will have for you. 

I’m so jealous that you’re in college. I just can’t wait to get out of this fucking place once and for all. I can’t imagine missing it right now, but do you? Is college better than high school? Are you able to do all of the things I am hoping and dreaming of doing now? 

I hope that through all of this new, you are still sticking to some of the old. Please never lose sight of who you really are just because you’re in a new place. I like who I am now. Don’t change. 

Good luck with the rest of your life! -Zoey” 

Here is my reply.

Dear Little Miss High School,  5/29/16

I’m currently at mom and dad’s house in California (yes they actually moved) after being in treatment for that crippling anxiety and depression you ignored for that entire year. But I’m better now! I remember that day like it was yesterday, my friend. A girl came up to you crying her eyes out and thanked you profusely. I hold on to that memory dearly. One of your teachers wrote you an email that you never deleted thanking you for your words. You never realized what an impact you made and you won’t until you receive an award at graduation that you never expected. You will finally feel respect from that toxic community and its gonna feel weird as fuck.

I’m glad you enjoyed being 18, but let me tell you if you thought that felt weird, imagine almost being 21. I am now at the college you fell head over heels in love with and I am so happy. I am taking advantage of everything it has to offer, even if it gets overwhelming quite a bit. Its so worth it. I wish I could show you to shed some light on this dark point in your life.

To answer your questions: I do not miss high school. I have not missed high school ever since I walked across that stage. Yes, college is way better than high school. Better than you ever imagined. I don’t remember all of the things you were hoping and dreaming of, but if being in a cappella, rehearsing 15 hours a week and double majoring in things you love was part of it, then girl you are living the fucking dream.

Zoey… I needed to change. Yes, I am still still true to myself and some of that old of being whoever the fuck I wanted to be without other people giving a shit. But I finally let that wall you painstakingly built come down. I know it was so helpful while you were in high school, but it does nothing but create problems further down the road. I am so much happier not just because I’m in college, but because I’m finally loving myself. I know its so hard for you to fathom that but its actually happening and its wonderful.

You are going to have a very tough couple of years after this. You are going to feel that depression again and all of the toughness you felt isn’t going to go away; its just going to be manifested a little differently. But girl…you are so fucking strong. You survived that shit of a school. You can do anything now. You are so strong and I know its hard being strong, but you can do it.

Also you end up bisexual. Hope that’s alright 😉

Good luck with the rest of your life!

Have a day filled with kittens, Okay?

Zoey K.

 

A conversation with my mother

Me: I need to shave parts of my head again.

Mom:…no you don’t.

Me: You’re just saying that because you don’t want me to shave my head, not because I actually don’t need to.

Mom…maybe.

Me: Well I’m going to do it anyway.

Mom: Darlin’, you’ve done what you wanted about how you look like you’re entire life, ever since you chopped all your hair off because you wanted to be the only girl without a bun in ballet.

Me: Yep. Speaking of ballet, I was thinking about getting into it.

Mom: What? Why?

Me: I don’t know. It might be fun. Plus I really want to get on pointe.

Mom: Zoey you have to dance for a really long time in order to get on pointe. I’m pretty sure you’re past your prime on that one.

Me: No way! I could totally do it.

Mom: *she basically says a lot of things meaning that there is no way I’m strong enough to do it*

Me: I think I really just want to try pointe shoes.

Mom: Well you can just buy them and hurt your huge feet and then realize you can’t dance.

Me: You’re the worst encouraging mother ever.

Mom: Oh please, this and the harp are the only two things in your damn life that I didn’t encourage you to try.

Me: I still really want to learn the harp.

Mom: Harps are disgusting. You can’t even hear them in an orchestra. What purpose do they serve other than to go “bloop bloop bloop”? Do they even make pointe shoes in your shoe size?

Me: Mom!

Mom: I’m just trying to picture your humongous big toe squished into one of those little pointe shoes. *giggles* 

Me: Oh my god mom.

 

My mother is actually the best because she’s supported me throughout my life every step of the way. And she didn’t give me everything I wanted. I’m not some spoiled brat. She just let me try everything, and let me realize for myself whether or not I could actually do it. My favorite conversation ever with my mom happened in a store when I was about 12 trying on a pair of short shorts.

I appear out of the dressing room in a pair of shorts. 

Me: What do you think?

Mom:…………..You can wear those…

Me: Yes!

Mom:…if you want to look like a whore.

*Notice: my mother does not slut shame. She is simply trying to tell her pre-teen daughter that her shorts are too short and wants to shock her out of buying them. Considering, she succeeded.* 

Have a day filled with kittens, okay?

Zoey K.