Stories and a Shameless Plug

Happy December first! This was me on Thanksgiving morning:

I have three family parties in the next three days. Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me.

However, they all went better than I expected. I think the trick is to set your expectations very low and be pleasantly surprised.

Right now in life I feel really vulnerable. Being suicidal really changed how I viewed myself and the world, and now that I’m rising out of the worst of the depression (through medication and counseling), it’s kind of like I’m having to relearn who I am. And of course this is multiplied by the fact that I am young and in college.

So with finals approaching and the promise of moving home in December, I’m caught between my head exploding with stress and anxiety and my heart exploding with excitement and gratitude. Oh, did I mention I’m transferring from Mormon Harvard to my old university in a few weeks?

Yes, well. I was going to share that tidbit of info eventually. One of these days I’ll explain why I’m leaving, but tonight I am just trying to recover from the socializing I have endured recently. So, courage, Readers. I will speak with you again soon.

P.S. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing on Twitter, but I tweet or RT almost daily and you could check out my site if you wanted to: maneysmilesback

Weirdness and Curiosity

Weirdness has been in my life lately and I’m kind of caught between wanting to write novels about it and wanting to keep everything all locked up. Knowing myself, I’m sure I’ll eventually pump out the paragraphs, but for now I’m just kind of reveling in it all.

But anyway, the happy pills make the world seem a little brighter–literally. I think they’ve made my eyes more light-sensitive. It’s been a few days but I still feel a little nauseous in the mornings, not to mention totally twitchy and distracted. What can you do? At some point I guess you just have to decide that living is more important to you that a little discomfort. And I guess for me it is. Now.

As I slowly lift out of the depression that has so consumed me, I look around and realize that I’m pretty interested in what I’ve been learning in school for the past two months. Though my grades don’t really reflect that interest–oh, well. I think C stands for Celestial at Mormon Harvard, right? (If you don’t get the joke, you can go here for an explanation.) (If you still don’t get it, it’s my fault. The joke’s really not that funny.)

Also I realize it’s almost Halloween. Now, don’t anybody go crazy on me here–I’m not actually excited for Halloween, but it is a slightly brighter spot on the vast black expanse which is my future. I like being scared once a year. I mean, my favorite show is Fringe. If that’s not an indicator, I dunno what is. I don’t feel like getting all poetical with describing how fun and awesome Halloween is, but I do want to share this YouTube video.

Let it be known that I love Vsauce, and that Michael has helped me through some hard days. Like, sometimes I’ve been super down and I just throw on one of his videos to distract me or give me a positive view of the world. This video in particular was fun to watch because I got a really creepy, Halloween-y vibe from it. And if it matters, I have found Vsauce to be consistently clean, interesting, and entertaining for as long as I’ve watched it. (Just make sure the YouTube account is “Vsauce” if you want this serious quality.)

Bam. P.S. Happy early Halloween! ^-^ <– That is a Halloween cat face thing. For you.

You’re welcome.

A Letter to the Editor

Dear Maney,

We, your humble readers, have a few thoughts to share with you. We’ve been following your blog for some time. We feel that we know you. We feel that you have adequately expressed to us your sorrows and weaknesses. And we have something to tell you.

When you write about how sad you feel, we suffer with you. You don’t know this, but we’ve had a fair amount of suffering as well. Some of us have also lost loved ones–parents and children. Some have suffered abuse, verbal and physical and sexual. Some of us have been broken by divorce, misplaced trust, war-torn countries. Some of us have been in the army and our PTSD is far more severe than yours. You complain because you feel sick when you see life flight helicopters? Some of us become incapacitated when we see children. For some of us, our life or the lives of our loved ones has been severely limited by disease, poverty, addiction, enslavement, and more and worse. But we’re sorry you cry alone sometimes.

And, Maney, we were shocked to hear about the explicit rap. Thankfully you dusted your shoes at the door with your little comments about how proper your sinning was. It was a relief for all of us hardcore, real-life sinners. Some of us are still struggling to forgive ourselves for past wrongs, but thanks for throwing salt in the wound by flaunting your obviously spotless record. We appreciate the comparison. On days when we wonder if we might actually have atoned for our sins, we think of you and realize just how much longer we have to go.

Dear, dear Maney. Would that we could fix your problems. We would go to any lengths to make you more comfortable, for we love you so. However, because of your pride, we cannot give you this simplest of cures, the very thing that would fix you up and shut you up, so we can worry about our own very real problems–ones that can’t be swallowed away with medicine. So in your anguish, please keep in mind that most of your struggles will end with a little blue pill. And this very cure is what you are angriest about.

Grow. Up.

Several umpteen readers you keep in your head

(P.S. I started taking happy pills again. I feel sick now but maybe in a few days both my stomach and brain will feel better.)

When Swearing Became Therapy

This post, I think, deals with an issue that might raise hairs on some humans’ heads. So just in case you don’t want to read this, I argue that some sins can be acceptable or at least justified in certain situations.

One of my best friends struggles with perfectionism issues. This person is actually one of the kindest, most thoughtful and sensitive people I know, but they (in favor of “he or she”) still try harder than probably anyone else in my life to be perfect. I really love this person, and I want them to be happy. And since starting counseling I have wondered if certain sins are sometimes okay, even in God’s eyes.

For example. A few weeks ago I called my counselor to check in and see what I could do to make my life easier. She said I needed to express my anger in a constructive way. It was weird because I didn’t feel angry; I felt hopeless and depressed and victimized by my own mental problems. How could I summon anger, let alone express it? She suggested I write about how angry I was and specifically mentioned that cuss words would be appropriate.

At first this floored me. Swear? Me? I know swear words but I choose not to use them because I’ve been taught that it drives away the Holy Ghost, and I find I like His companionship. Plus I personally think that using them too often as filler words is kind of a distasteful habit. But anyway! With my counselor’s permission to swear, I realized suddenly that I had a lot to say.

A few days before this phone call, Incresity had introduced me to Eminem, and really rapping in general. And while I feel like most of Eminem’s work is inappropriate for me to listen to, I think he’s an amazing writer. I was floored when I realized how many words went into his raps, mainly because of how fast he says them. (Being sometimes suicidal has made me more open to parts of the world that I wouldn’t have originally been interested in, like rapping, which turns out can be pretty cool.)

Anyway I wrote a rap, a rap full of anger and passion and yes, swearing. It happened. I performed it for a friend–someone may or may not have run into the room worried that we were having a bad fight, but we cleared up the confusion–and it was the most freeing thing I’ve experienced in months. I’ll probably never share it again, because for me, it was art and it was therapy and it was true and real and good, but only in the time and place it occurred. I felt okay swearing because I owned those words–they didn’t own me. I was choosy, too; I didn’t use the Lord’s name in vain, because I love Him. The other words expressed my anger, but to use His name? No, He’s my best friend.

Maybe God is okay that I “made a sinny,” as I’ve heard it called, by swearing. I know for sure that He understands my heartache and frustration at life. I know He knows I’m at the end of my rope but I’m holding on. And I even think, though I can’t be sure, that He was okay that I felt angry and that I let it out. I suspect He understands that sometimes when humans are too numb to feel anything, experiencing anger is the sweetest relief.

This gospel I subscribe to is definitely a gospel of love. And I want to be more loving, not more angry. But for me, and my close friend, and for others out there that struggle with perfectionism, I think the Lord understands that sometimes you need to be okay with your sins. After all, without them, you wouldn’t need His Atonement. And for the record, I believe that no matter what you’ve done or how you feel about life or yourself or Him, He loves you. And that will never change.

* * *

If you’ve read to the bottom, you deserve this tidbit of information: I am sick. Let me rephrase that. Maney, you are sick. If you had diabetes and it was kicking your butt, you would take insulin. If you had cancer and it was eating at you, you’d get chemo. Maney, you have depression. It will kill you if you don’t deal with it! Readers, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I think I have stigma against taking happy pills because I don’t want to do it again. I guess the first step is acknowledging the problem. More to come.

Another Tunnel

I’ve noticed that a lot of people I follow on WordPress are human. This sounds stupid but whatever. Lots of them tell stories about stuff that recently happened in their lives, or stuff that they’re just getting over and they want to share. Sometimes they take breaks from their blogging and it further reinforces in my mind the reality of them. I’m human, too.

School just started. I’m taking a class in my major which is basically an intro to editing. (I’m too lazy to find its actual title.) My professor seems intent on making us not just intuitive about how to use the English language, but also way more knowledgeable about why we do what we do. I’m cool with that… but sometimes I just want to say, “Okay, lady, I respect that this is your interest, your passion, your job. However, I do not really care what other people do with their words. Live and let live or something.”

Caring for things is kind of an issue for me. I guess when I’m in my best state of mind, I can manage a healthy amount of caring. But when I’m depressed or anxious, suddenly I do not care at all about anything, or I care so much about something that it becomes debilitating.

So, team, remember when I got off my pills? Was so healthy? Had magical things to say about how far I’d come? It all seems kind of annoying now.

I don’t know what to say except today I am home with my family. Yesterday hit me like a bullet in the back, Florence. Some kind of circuit blew in my brain, I think, possibly from trying to feel okay for so long without anything real to prove I should feel that way. You people with depression, you get it. It doesn’t matter how great your life is; the good things don’t compute. Lots of tears yesterday and then a car ride.

I feel kind of numb. But also not really. Like I have this tiny, almost imperceptible humming in my bones that says I am not quite normal. But I can’t tell if I’m above or below what I usually cope with. It’s confusing. It’s embarrassing. It’s real.

So I guess I can’t summon up my usual nugget of wisdom this week. Just know that I’m human. And for those of you who agree with my family, you will like this song: “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers. It kind of resonates in me as something that I don’t have to care about in order to love. It’s safe, this song. Safer than loving life or people or whatever. A song is okay.

Not Knowing, Just Hoping

You guys know that I started coming off my happy pills a few weeks ago. (I only have about a week to go and then I’m done.) It’s been kind of frightening; I was so afraid that I would sink back into that dark, numb place again, which would mean that I would have to take pills for possibly the rest of my life. And I’ve also been wondering a lot lately if I will forget what it’s like to be depressed. And am I still clinically depressed? Should I still label myself that if I graduated from taking happy pills?

Well, I got one answer today in the shower. My grandpa came over this morning to fix a leaky faucet and he left a few of his tools around the bathroom. I turned around in the shower to grab the shampoo and there it was: a large red razor with the rusty blade exposed. My heart skipped a beat, I think, as I picked it up to get a closer look, squinting because I wasn’t wearing contacts. I remembered how I purposely ignored the disposable shaving razors during those hard times. And in that instant, as I retracted the blade and returned it to the shelf, I realized that yes, I will probably remember what it’s like to be depressed.

I think I’ll always remember.

And that is my blessing. Because while I remembered all those times the razors seemed so tempting–and just those flimsy shaving types, not even the real deal–I also remembered the strength it took to put suicidal thoughts out of my mind. I remembered that I am strong. I realized that the habit of living that I have developed will help me in the future on days when even to live is an act of courage.

I’m no hero. I’m probably not even as strong as I give myself credit for. But I have been “just enough” for so long that now it is a habit. Dealing with dark thoughts has become easier. And on bad days, I remind myself what my counselor loves to say:

“I am, in and of myself, of infinite worth and good enough.”

And so are you.

I think this is going to be my last post for a while. I finished classes at the end of April and now I have some free time to reevaluate who I am and what I want to do with my life. We both know that I want to be a writer. And as much as I love blogging, I think I need to go back to novel writing until Fall semester starts. Of course, I might not even return to this blog; who knows? That’s the beauty of life: not knowing, just hoping. And I hope to see you all again soon.

Queen of Non Sequitur

All the things are screaming I am important pay attention to me listen listen listen!!

I am shouting leave me alone! Leave me! Augh!

The FAFSA is shouting I need you to fill me out! The dinner shouts put me in the fridge! The missionaries shout you need to write us!

Shut up shut up augh!! I need to just concentrate on one thing please! Let me just focus on this breathing motion!

No no no! Worry about scholarships! Worry about your family! Worry about your chores! Worry about your friends your pills your sleeping pattern!

No I won’t worry! I’ll stay up until three not worrying! I’ll watch Invader Zim and pretend that I don’t have problems! Too, too many exclamation points in one post, in one brain. I’m going to snap, going to snap, going to–

Go jogging! they shout. Eat veggies and listen to Enya and remember to be positive!

Shut up I’ll do what I want! Ahhhhhhh!!!

*     *     *

Silence falls and I remember that these voices are just echoes–I’m the only one talking. Maney, you tell the worries to shut up and then you keep worrying. Huh.

That actually felt really good to type out, like releasing my worries about worrying into the void. I also feel bad though, because I usually try to end these with a gold nugget of moral wisdom. But you know, life doesn’t always feel like every situation ties up neatly with a classy bow. Sometimes–acutally, usually–life feels like a crazy mess that we’re stumbling through with our eyes closed. And you know what? I think it’s okay.

So here’s one of my favorite songs (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) covered by Danger Button, a band that’s quite close to my heart. They broke up about a month ago so this doesn’t qualify as a shameless plug, since they won’t profit from your fandom. My brother’s the one on the bass. I share this song with you not because it’s relevant to life or this blog or anything, but because it makes me happy, and I’m coming off my pills and I’m still happy, and life is beautiful, dang it.

Oh, here comes the moral nugget… Go be happy, you reader, you! You don’t need a reason or a motto or anything. Just let it happen, dear.