get real

Another post I wrote for YMF. Listen, believe, and love, y’all.

Young Mormon Feminists

trigger warning: sexual assault and suicide

Sometimes I can wrap up ugly pieces of the world in pretty bows. I find my needed peace in my Savior, my faith, and my family.

But sometimes, sometimes, peace is less important than reality.

Sometimes the voices crying from the darkness are more important than the voices comforting us with light.

We need someone to hear us.

Just listen to us.

Just believe that there is real horror out there.

Our nightmares are reality.

We are helpless.

We are hopeless.

We are alone.

All around is darkness.

The pain in unending.

The hurt knows no bounds.

THERE IS NO PEACE TO BE FOUND.

Just believe us, okay?

* * *

Humans who feel like this, my stomach is in knots over you. I love you all. Please seek support if you can. Below are two hotlines for you to call if you need…

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Poetry Friday: Mortality

Mortality

A cemetery:
If this is all we come to,
it will be okay.

Feeling Better Better Better

A few months ago I expressed my concern that once my mental health started improving, I wouldn’t have anything left to blog about. Now after about a month of slow posting, mostly reblogs and Poetry Fridays, let me say one thing:

Mental health is not so bad.

I’m no longer desperately clinging to, and then dejectedly hanging from, one last thread of life. There are bad days, of course, but now I can distinguish between my emotions, all my feelings spread across a palette from the lightest yellow to the deepest indigo; tears over past horrors, hours of inexplicable contentment, bursts of energy, and more and more. I am so consumed by this diverse spectrum that I can hardly even remember when all my emotions ran together in a blackish, hopeless mud.

Life is actually and really and truly okay. I am moving forward. I’m making plans. I am learning about myself–learning to love that girl for who she is. I’m learning where I want to go in life, not just physically, but emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Things are definitely still hard. It hurts to remember what I’ve been through, to think about all the sadness and pain in the world. But things are beautiful, too. I’ve been patient; allowed myself to just heal slowly, months and months passing until I can’t even recognize myself anymore. And I have a loving family, medication, and a supportive counselor to thank for that. Not to mention the many prayers that have been offered on my behalf.

Yes, that’s right, prayers. Maybe you’re noticed, readers, but I’ve haven’t mentioned much of God or religion for a few months. I guess that was part of the healing: learning to trust God again and let His love heal me. Great, I’m tearing up as I type this. I’m so grateful that I feel deep within me that the doctrine I’ve been taught my whole life is truth. That doesn’t mean I don’t get to ask questions. There’s plenty of room for that. But the beauty is, I don’t want to trouble with questions right now. I’m just soaking in the beautiful feeling that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into my life. I love Him so much. Not as much as I should, of course, but I’m working on it. He’s patient with me.

So anyway, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting in the coming months. Maybe I’ll go back to three a week again, or we’ll just stick with Poetry Fridays for a while. Whichever, please know that I’m doing better. I love and appreciate you all for being a part of my crazy journey through life. Keep being your wonderful selves, my dear readers.

And because I have had this song stuck in my head for several days, here is Regina Spektor’s song “Fidelity.” Do the lyrics pertain to this post? I don’t think so. The music just sounds like turning a new page to a “better better better better better better better” chapter in life.

What We Need

(Obviously many of you are spending December in different ways. I wish I could be more politically correct with this blog, but I’ve celebrated Christmas my entire life, and I can only write about what I know. I’m sorry.)

I feel a constant pressure to be better. It’s partly my mental illnesses and partly my environment. Wanting to be better is good in healthy degrees; however, it must be kept within a realistic perspective. Mental illness can mess with that. My mission these last few years has been to love myself with all the flaws and strengths that make me unique.

During the holidays, there seems to be an increase in the mood of those around me, while symptoms of my depression and anxiety cause me to appear Grinch- and Scrooge-like in comparison. Everyone seems to run around in a blur of candy canes and sparkling ribbon–it makes me want to decrease the surplus population, if you know what I mean.

It becomes too much. The normal buzz of inadequacy is enhanced to torturous noise noise noise noise. Where is the heavenly peace the songs talk about? How do we average and lonely and anguished folks find the promised joy?

I try to focus on what uplifts me. I tune out the laughter and chatter if it becomes too much to bear. I watch the twinkling lights and think of somewhere safe. I tell myself the red and white wrapping isn’t just a mark of consumerism, but a symbol of something deeper. It’s possible that this holiday still centers around Jesus Christ, my Savior. Even if none of what I tell myself is true, and I believe it is true, it gives me peace. He gives me hope. So I choose the better story.

However you’re celebrating (or not celebrating) this time of year, I hope you get from it what you need.

And it’s possible that you need Him.

Love you all and merry Christmas! If you don’t celebrate Christmas, and I know many don’t, I wish you a wonderful and magical and happy time of year anyway. 🙂 Be kind to yourselves.

I Miss Crying

Over a year ago I was diagnosed with depression and I started seeing a counselor. I don’t even know how to describe those months preceding my first appointment. Have you ever wanted to die? I’m sorry. I get it. There are no words.

This counselor recommended I take antidepressants, so I got on and off the pills in just over a year. I have the experience documented here. After I worked off the meds, I thought I had moved on. But it happened again recently–the onslaught of depression, the inability to care about life anymore. So I’m taking them. Again.

It’s only been a week or so but already I miss crying. I miss feeling pain. I miss feeling hopeless because at least then I was feeling something. Now, although my emotions have lifted to a more normal human level, they don’t fluctuate as much as I would like. I would love to laugh until I cry. I would love to cry until I laugh.

I’m never satisfied with what I have.

I fear I’ve lost the ability to be content with where I am in life. Content with the school I’m going to, content with the people I love, content with where I am financially. Of course it’s good to be ambitious and set goals, but there’s a point at which ambition becomes greed; when what you have is never enough, and you can’t be satisfied with life for more than a few moments each day.

Lately I’ve been learning how to breathe in a way that decreases stress. The method is breathing slowly in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth, making sure that the diaphragm (belly area) is expanding and not the chest. My best breathing frequency so far is six breaths per minute. I breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds, concentrating on the action for about twenty minutes.

The slow breathing helps me focus. It reminds me that I am more than just a head moving around on tense shoulders and a hunched spine; I am a whole body, one that can feel light and airy and at peace. I can connect to all the cells in my body through healthy breathing. I can be aware of everything around and inside me. I can be content in this one moment.

Matt wrote an amazing piece on meditation on his blog Must Be This Tall To Ride. I loved his closing words:

“It wasn’t that long ago: not attractive enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, not strong enough, not tall enough, not good enough.

We cannot change the things that happen to us.

We can’t.

But we can change how we experience them.

Just breathe. In, then out.

I’m tall enough.”

Readers, here’s a video of chirping birds. Take two minutes out of your day and see if a little meditation makes you feel better. I care that you be happy. I hope you care, too.

Poetry Friday: I Dissolve

These are technically guitar lyrics. I adjusted them to read more like poetry.

I Dissolve

The mountain mists highlight rays of sun
catching hidden blues and grays
my fingers clench around the steering wheel
I’m lost as thoughts of better days
sweep over me, overcome me
swallow me, and I dissolve

The engine cuts and I am more alone
that I have been in all my days
the first steps crunch and then there’s silence
I lose myself, and the forest’s ways
sweep over me, overcome me
swallow me, and I dissolve

The river dances up my body
‘til fingertips just touch the rays
of morning light on the surface
I close my eyes and let the waves
sweep over me, overcome me
swallow me, and I dissolve.

Gold Feelings, Silver Glass

Something strange happened in class today. One of my professors was going off about when the term “and/or” is appropriate. Well, that’s not fair. I really like this professor. Anything she “goes off on” is usually either funny or pertinent to our lives/grades. Anyway, she wrote on the board: “You can have apple and/or oranges.” I was listening more or less intently, waiting for the bell to ring and excuse me for lunch, when she brought pineapples into the picture. And that’s when it happened: I was filled with this sweet, gold feeling, streaking across my mind and settling comfortably in my mouth. As if hearing the word “pineapple” took me to some magical mind palace (oh, Sherlock) where everything was warm and yellow. And it was nice.

Really it all got me thinking about how there are tiny things in life that are just so good. Like laughing. Or for me, washing dishes while watching Fringe, Buffy, or Veronica Mars. Raspberries right out of the garden. Being with close friends. Eyelashes. Brown paper packages tied up with string–what?

You get the picture.

Sometimes my life is a mind game. And I have to convince myself that things are going to get better. To quote the band Mates of State, “Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better.” I write that to myself in my journal sometimes. Or I sign off at the end with “still shining.” Because I really think life is what you make it. And all mental illness aside, I really am a positive person. I’ve been messed up and I don’t know if I’ll ever get totally back to normal, but deep down, I’ve got a lot of hope. Hope for my future. Hope for the world. Hope in some kind of peace when everything ends.

And because this quote has been on my mind lately (thank you, guy driving with Olan Rogers), I’m throwing it in here. Credit to Goodreads as my source.

Gandalf the White: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

My dear Readers, make like Pippin and just believe.

(In honor of a couple of friends’ kind advice, I am going to try and reduce my number of tags in future posts. I believe the conversations included algorithms and the term “cutesy,” but I don’t know. Here’s to new ways of writing.)