The Depression Report: Reflections on moving

*brushes aside layer of dust*

Oh hey there blog. Yep, I haven’t totally forgotten about you.

There’s a whole number of excuse I could give, but let’s skip to the interesting part.

Life for me has changed, quite rapidly in fact, these past couple of weeks.

I finally got a job! And I’ll be moving! Across the country. To Chicago. In just a few hours.

Can you tell I have a lot of mixed emotions?

First off the application process was amazing. I had countless interviews with the company and was eventually offered the position I wanted in two cities: Phoenix or Chicago.

So I found myself with a difficult choice: Phoenix was safe and easy and familiar. Chicago was new and exciting and scary.

I went with the scary.

And it seemed so surreal in that moment, so surreal that I haven’t really processed it. Even now as the countdown to the airport closes in on five hours, I can’t sleep. It’s all just hitting me now, the change that I’m making, the leap that I decided to take.

I’m starting to feel like I’m not as brave as I thought I was.

I said goodbye to a boy just ten minutes ago. (I know, I know. Here I am again, going on about boys. And it’s the boy.) And it was just… so much more touching and harder than I had anticipated. He was sweeter and kinder than I thought he would ever be to me again. Maybe that shows an evolution in our messy relationship. I don’t know. It left me feeling good and light with just a tinge of sadness about what I’ll be leaving behind.

Yet despite my mixed emotions, not once has it truly felt like I made the wrong choice. Even as the doubts float around in my head, the feeling in my gut tells me I’ve chosen the right path.

I’ve been going off my gut feeling a lot lately. And it’s been paying off so far. I hope it doesn’t let me down this time.

I think deep down the thing I’m most scared of is repeating the downward spiral when I made a move for a job two years ago. I got lonely, felt isolated and abandoned and fell into the deepest bout of depression I’ve had to battle thus far. Those were some of the worst months of my life and I don’t ever want to feel that way again. And I’m scared that history will repeat itself, that I’ll repeat the mistakes that I made back then and that I’ll feel it all over again.

But the circumstances have certainly changed this time. It feels different this time.

I’m a little afraid to try and sleep tonight. Because sleep will make the few hours until my flight go by faster and I’m not sure that’s something I want. I feel wide awake for some reason, like my mind doesn’t want to miss one second that it has left in Tucson.

I never thought I was be so sad to leave my hometown. After college I was so ready to get out and even just a few months ago I had the same feelings, but now that it’s literally just around the corner, I’m feeling such a nostalgic attachment to my hometown.

All the little annoyances about it have suddenly become charming. I’ve found myself desperately obsessed with the idea of filling my future home with cactuses, something to represent home, to bring me a little comfort.

This is my March Depression Report. I’m scared – no terrified – but more importantly I’m excited. And my gut is telling me I’ll be okay.

Apologies for the jumbled mess. These are just my late night stream of consciousness reflections on moving and change and life. I’m shooting for some more coherent posts in the near future.

~ Kayla

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Food and unhealthy eating habits

I’ve got an interesting relationship with food.

Sometimes when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I’ll eat EVERYTHING in sight.

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Sometimes when I’m upset or sad, I won’t touch food for days.

Sometimes when I’m at my lowest, I’ll purge everything that I’ve eaten.

The beginning of this blog happened during one such food fast.

My heart had been broken (once again) by an ex. I spent a whole day not eating anything. I just drank a lot of water when my stomach grumbled, because I felt so nauseous I couldn’t eat.

This pattern continued for the next few days, though I broke my fast by snacking on the occasional cookie or apple.

I felt empty and hollow.

I have such a love for food. I love trying new things and eating all sorts of cuisine. So many of my best childhood memories involve the kitchen and delicious food.

Food has become a great way to celebrate. In college, after major accomplishments, like surviving finals week or landing that internship, my friends and I would celebrate with getting a bite to eat somewhere special.

Somehow along the way, my relationship with food got dangerously intertwined with my mental health.

Depending on how mentally unbalanced I am, I will either not be able to eat or not be able to stop eating. While the height of my struggle with eating disorders was with bulimia one particular summer in high school, I still struggle with it to this day.

I’ve tried to keep a food diary using a site called myfitnesstracker.com in order to count calories to ensure that I’m not getting too much or too little. It’s one way I try to keep myself accountable for what I’m eating and not let myself slip too far one way.

When I find myself struggling to keep up with that, I found that opening up about those struggles to my close friends helped a lot. I would check in with them to make sure I was eating healthy and they would encourage me to treat my body properly.

This summer I have struggled with that greatly as my depression has settled on my heavily. I can’t tell you of a single day over the summer where I had three full healthy meals.

And it’s a cyclical system because not eating well means I have no energy which means I can’t get anything accomplished which means I feel bad about myself.

I need to find a way to bring myself back to a healthy relationship with food; where I view it not as a reward nor as an indulgence.

~ Kayla

Body shaming is powerful and devastating

After a fairly lovely first date with a guy I’d met on OkCupid, I received one of the most unbelievable phone calls of my life.

He had just dropped me off at my apartment, only to call me 15 minutes later on the phone.

He started off the conversation saying that he really liked me, but before things went any further, he wanted to ask me something to see what I thought.

He asked me if I would be willing to lose weight to be with him.

I was flabbergasted, mortified and completely caught off guard.

It didn’t help that I’ve struggled with body image and weight issues in the past. I’ve battled with an eating disorder. It didn’t help that during one of the multiple breakups with my ex, he told me that he no longer felt physically attracted to me and wanted me to lose weight. It didn’t help that this was coming from basically a complete stranger who I’d only talked to for a week and had just met in person for the first time.

woman-1326707_1920.jpgIronically just the day before, I vividly remember looking at my body in the mirror and being happy and confident in what I saw. This one phone call, this one question from a virtual stranger was enough to rob me of all that confidence and self-love I had so painstakingly built.

He tried to justify it by saying that he himself was working on losing weight and getting in shape himself. But what right did that give him to ask me to do the same?

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t call him out on the spot. That confrontation didn’t happen until later, after I had cried myself to sleep and spent a full two days not eating.

Sadly, body shaming is a thing that I’ve realized I’ve grown up with.

I’m 4’11” and weight 125 pounds. I feel perfectly average in my body shape. I don’t think I appear to be a person who people would think would be subject to weight shaming. But I am. It happens to people of all shapes and sizes.

For about as long as I can remember, I’ve had family members comment on my body. My mom in particular was harsh about it and had no problem calling me fat to my face or telling me I shouldn’t eat as much.

As a result I go through periods where I eat nothing for days or I throw up what I’ve eaten.

It’s taken a long time for me to heal, and I’m still in the process of healing.

I’m working on wanting to change my body because I want to, not because some boy asked me to or because someone else commented on my appearance.

I still don’t have the confidence in myself that I wish I had. There will be days where I’ll look at my body in the mirror and really embrace it, but those days are still few and far in between.

I’ve been trying to surround myself in more body positive people. One of my favorites is YouTuber and musician Meghan Tonjes.

Her video response to the “Dear Fat People” video shows the extent that negative comments can have on a person. In her video LIFE IS TOO SHORT. WEAR A CROP TOP. she talks about embracing her body despite what people might think.

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On days where I feel my worst and my most hideous, I often turn to her videos and words for inspiration and motivation to love my body as it is.

And I’ve found that important, to surround myself with body positive people who will lift me up and encourage me no matter how I look. And every day I battle to give their words more power over me than the words of those who have torn me down in the past.

You are beautiful. Love yourself.

~ Kayla

The mental and emotional toll of unhealthy dating

I was a “late bloomer” and didn’t really start dating until my junior year of college.

I haven’t had too many successful relationships in the few years since then.

As luck and life would have it, I was never interested in the guys that actually wanted to be in committed relationships with me. I was either prematurely scared away or just missing some spark in the relationship.

I’ve always ended up falling for boys who didn’t want to commit and all those rejections  eventually led me to wonder what was wrong with me.

I had an ex boyfriend that made me feel like “the crazy girlfriend” for wanting things as simple as being treated nicely, spending time together, going out and doing different things, celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. What made it worse was then seeing him do all those things for the girl he dated after me. It meant that it wasn’t that he just would never do those things, it meant that he just didn’t want to do them with me, because I wasn’t worth it to him, because I wasn’t enough or right for him.

That relationship left me feeling so small and worthless and unloveable. There were countless moments where we hurt each other, and many of those moments have done immeasurable damage to me. While a part of me will always care for him because he was my first love, I have to admit that the relationship was terribly emotionally abusive.

So much of my social anxiety where I’m worried about being unwanted and being a unburden stems from experiences in that relationship. It demolished my self confidence and self worth and even now I’m still trying to recover from that damage every day.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 3.55.44 PM.pngIt’s taken more than a year of on-and-off messiness from our last real big break up for me to really admit that we wouldn’t be happy together. And it’s still taking me time to admit that it wasn’t anyone’s fault that the relationship didn’t work out. It’s failure doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. Sometimes people don’t work together and there’s nothing wrong with that. And sometimes people just aren’t good for each other.

It’s been hard watching all of my friends get into serious relationships and find the people they’re meant to be with while I’ve been all alone. It’s been hard facing big life challenges and changes and decisions without someone there right by my side to support me.

But I’ve finally admitted to myself that being with the wrong person for the sake of not being alone is a hundred times worse than being alone. I have the emotional and mental scars to prove that.

~ Kayla

Searching for “home”

I think what I’m really truly searching for right now is “home.”

I mean, who isn’t, right?

When I google the word “home” the first thing that pops up is Google maps and the address of my parents’ house. It made me laugh a little bit because that house no longer feels like home.

[And yes, I did that very clichéd thing and googled “home” to try and give you all a definition of it, as if you don’t already know.]

At least, it’s not the home I belong in, not anymore.

Google also tells me that home is “a place where one lives permanently.” I suppose that’s not really the definition of “home” that I’m looking for either. I’m young enough where I wouldn’t mind moving around, seeing the world. I’m not quite ready to settle down. Get stability, yes. But settle down, no.

I guess the home I’m looking for is more about belonging, about purpose. It’s more about a feeling in your bones than a label of permanence. It’s about the life that you get from the air that you breathe or the energy you feel from the people around you.

Perhaps I’m talking nonsense now. Perhaps I’m feeding into that irresistible idea that if I could only find that city, that place where I’m supposed to be, then, then I could be happy. A beautiful notion, of stumbling upon that cluster of roads and buildings that will give you meaning but also a foolish one – because no matter how far I travel, if I go all the way to the other coast or even dare to go further, my problems will follow me. A new city isn’t golden ticket to new found happiness, it won’t erase my emotional baggage.

Oh but wouldn’t it be great to trade in these same old tired streets for another set? A louder set, a busier set, hell even a dirtier set perhaps. To trade in the cactuses and mesquite trees for skyscrapers or pine trees.

I’ve never realized how unsettled I was to not have a “home.” It was such a comfort that I took for granted when I had it.

People say that “home is where the heart it.” Well my heart is spread all across the world. In Arizona, in the Philippines, in California, in New Jersey and in Nebraska – the places where all the people who hold my heart are. So where do I really belong, where is my home if my heart is spread so thin?

I suppose the answer is that I have to start making a home for myself. But I think for me, most of all, home is the people. And I have yet to find my people in this next stage of life, in this post-college adventure.

I’m turning 24 in just a few days and for some reason that age feels so heavy. 24 feels like an age where one should know what they want in life and be well on their way to achieving that.

Perhaps I’m just experiencing my “quarter-life crisis” a bit early.

So I hope in 2017 I find a “home.” Maybe not the idealized version I’m picturing in my head, but I hope I’m brave enough to find a new “home” this year.

~ Kayla

 

 

January Favorites

I know, I know.

I’m jumping on that youtuber vlogger/beauty blogger thing of posting a monthly favorites post.

But here are some of the things that I’ve used this month that have helped me with self-care. I’d love to hear with your favorites are!

Candles

I’ve taken to closing my nights by lighting a few candles as I’m getting ready for bed. It’s so relaxing and calming and cozy.

For years I was the type of person that rarely burned candles because I didn’t want to waste them. But now I think it’s definitely worth it.

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These are the candles I’ve been using lately:

  • Radiant Red Maple – Bath and Bodyworks – smells like fall and warmth
  • Mahogany Teakwood – Bath and Bodyworks – my friends and I call this the ‘hot man candle’ because it smells like a sexy man
  • Apple Orchard – Ashland – I picked up these two Ashland candles on a whim at a CVS and I’m so glad I did. They smell great, set a nice relaxing mood and were pretty cheap.
  • Vanilla – Ashland – classic vanilla but not overpoweringly sweet, this candle is almost all burned up

Baths

It’s been ages since I’ve lived somewhere with an actual bathtub. I’ve always been more of a shower person but this past month I’ve been taking tons of baths. I’ll fill up the tub, perch my laptop on a nearby stand and throw on a show or podcast as I soak and let my muscles relax.

I think I’ll have to up my game by throwing in some bath bombs next.

Magazines

A few weeks ago I got an alert that my saved up miles with an airline were about to expire. I didn’t have any trips planned but the airline did offer me the option of cashing in my points for magazines.

So far I’ve gotten copies of Entertainment Weekly, Vogue and New York Magazine and I love them. I’d forgotten how satisfying it is to physically read articles as opposed to scrolling through them online. Plus, magazines are displayed and designed in a way that the internet hasn’t been able to replicate yet.

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Photography

My big Christmas present this year was a DSLR camera. I’ve had a blast taking pictures, and this new creative outlet has really been amazing at lifting my spirits.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson

book1.jpgI’ve written about this before but it was a weird and hilarious memoir that touches on some mental health issues.

Lawson’s writing won’t be for everyone, it’s ramble-y and full of non-sequiturs, but if you can get past that, it can be quite charming.

It offers some pretty honest yet funny insights onto eating disorders, anxiety, miscarriage and depression.

The Crown, The West Wing

After all the attention The Crown received at the Golden Globes, I finally decided to watch the series after it had been sitting on my watch list for months. It’s amazing to watch a young Queen Elizabeth II find her feet as a ruler and to watch the struggle for power in the royal palace. Claire Foy has an subtle yet excellent performance of the young, unsure yet strong queen. Personally I found her husband Prince Philip, played by Matt Smith, to be

With the crazy political atmosphere in the United States, I’ve been delving into a re-watch of The West Wing in a form of escapism. Sorkin’s fast paced dialogue and wit make the show so entertaining and there is such great discussion about policies relating to gay marriage, radical Islamists and gun control. One of the standout episodes I watched was season 2’s “The Stackhouse Filibuster” where a senator delays a vote because he wants more funding and attention towards autism research added onto a bill.

Everyone on Facebook is getting married and having babies… and I’m just… here

I can’t seem to scroll through Facebook or Instagram without getting smacked in the face with *boom* an engagement photo or *bam* a wedding photo or *smack* a pregnancy announcement.

I seemed to have hit that time in my life where all my friends are getting to those big moments: graduations, jobs, engagements, weddings, babies.

And yet… here I am. Barely holding myself together, all of those things still seemingly out of reach. Some of them way, way, way out of reach. The closest I am to a wedding is my pinterest board… oh and the three weddings I’ll be going to this year for friends and family.

It makes me feel so behind in life, which seems silly because, well, life isn’t really a race, is it?

But still, everyone’s steps forward intensify my feels of being stuck, of sliding backwards, of making no progress towards that vague but enticing “American dream” of a perfect life.

Social media has done this dangerous thing of being a place where people mostly post all of their best moments. Sure there are some people who post about their struggles too, but most of us aren’t brave enough to put all our problems out in the world for others to see. We want people to see our happiness, our success, our wealth and so that is what we display.

It’s easy to forget about the struggles people must go through when you’re only seeing their happiness scroll before your eyes on the internet.

So I’ve started to try and limit my time on social media, though I know that isn’t the true root of the problem. The problem is that I care. I care about comparing myself to others, using them as a measure for my success, or lack thereof. I care that my friends and family my age, or god-forbid younger than me, are celebrating huge life milestones while I’m not.

And I shouldn’t care. I mean I should – I should feel happy for them – but that happiness shouldn’t be tinged with jealousy or self-pity. I shouldn’t give a damn that my younger cousin is already married and has three kids while I’m still single.

Just because other people are succeeding does not mean you’re failing. I’m trying hard to remember that.

~ Kayla

How not knowing how to drive makes me depressed

I am 23-years-old (almost 24 *ahhh*) and I do not know how to drive.

I can’t exactly explain why I still don’t have my license – I’ve had my permit a handful of times. But each time, the months go by and I just haven’t had a teacher stick with me long enough to get comfortable behind the wheel.

My mom attempted to teach me but she made me feel absolutely worthless for asking questions about things I didn’t know that I couldn’t go back to her teaching.

I’ve had some friends and boyfriends try to teach me, but they all never went further than one lesson in the car because they were impatient with my timidness.

Of course I’m to blame as well – I’m scared. I’m not sure of what, but I am scared.

And so here I am, an adult that doesn’t have reliable transportation.

I can’t tell you the amount of negative effects this has on my life – on my friendships, relationships, job opportunities and mental health.

When I was living in Phoenix, a large metropolitan city with a decent public transportation system, I managed pretty well on my own getting around. But now that I’m back in Tucson, a small city that is somehow so spread apart, my mobility is extremely limited and so is my independence.

Not being able to drive keeps me isolated and limits what I’m able to do. Everyone who knows judges me and I am a burden to them. Hanging out with friends becomes a source of anxiety instead of joy because I worry about inconveniencing them.

It’s become so crippling to me, one of my main sources of anxiety. And yet here I sit, week after week swearing that this is the week I am going to take the permit test… and yet I don’t.

So here is my motivation, a public post stating my intensions of ending this basically self-inflicted torture.

A few years ago I wasn’t so alone, I had a handful of friends who also didn’t know how to drive. Hell, I’ve even noted a couple of famous people who can’t (or at least until recently couldn’t) drive as a sort of validation for my own lack of knowledge; British vlogger Alfie Deyes, musician Lady Gaga and Rooster Teeth employee Gavin Free. But one by one they’ve all made the leap until now I can only think of two other people I know in my same position.

It’s time for me to get over my fears and make a change. This is something that I know will go towards making me a happier and healthier person. So it’s time to stop the excuses and do it.

~ Kayla

Related: Mental Illness and Driving: What’s The Connection?

Getting reinspired

I like to think of myself as a creative person. I enjoy theater, singing, poetry, photography, filming and of course writing. These outlets are ways for me to express myself, have fun and feel productive all at the same time.

During times where I’m feeling very depressed, I have a hard time channeling my creative juices, which only worsens my mood further.

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And forcing myself to try and do these things without any inspiration has often lead to work so mediocre that I found myself feeling even more discouraged. (And as a yearly participate of National Novel Writing Month, I know all about forcing yourself to write without inspiration, it isn’t pretty.)

The Depression Report was a result of a frustrated free writing exercise. I felt the need to get creative but found myself floundering on ideas so I wrote about what I was feeling – my depression.

Soon I found myself with a handful of blogs about my struggles with mental illness and suddenly I was reading articles, watching documentaries and even searching on twitter for things related to mental illness.

In college I had taken an entrepreneurial journalism class where we spent the semester learning how to run our own blogs regarding a niche news topic. (Mine had been a news blog about Youtube).

Suddenly it clicked, that I should take that personal exercise and try to do more with it creatively and professionally.

With the ever elusive inspiration back in my grasp, things began to change. Instead of spending late nights thinking about my failures, I spent them navigating the confusing world of wordpress and tinkering with photo editing tools. I was blogging about my feelings and researching statistics on mental illness. I had found a way to become excited creatively and professionally.

It took a lot of time to find the right thing to spark that creativity again, but it happened. Finally.

And it’s not always consistent. After spending a couple of weeks pouring myself into this project, there was a solid couple of months where my depression and personal life took a turn and I could no longer motivate myself to work.

But I didn’t let that frustrate me and soon found my fingers itching to get back to my keyboard.

Last week, I had a terrible Monday. It set the tone for the next couple of days. But on Saturday I went on a hike and took some pictures with my new camera and that blip of creativity was enough to lift my spirits so high.

Inspiration may be fickle, but it is never hopeless.

I’d love to hear about what ways you like to channel your creativity when you’re not feeling 100 percent.

~ Kayla

New year, new resolutions, new beginnings

With the new year comes new years resolutions and this project is one of mine.

I had spent months setting this blog up for the initial launch, but had overestimated the amount of time and organization it would take it keep it running… but most of all the amount of bravery I would need to see it through. Apologies for months long hiatus.

So here is my resolution, I hope those of you who follow this will help keep me accountable: to give this project 100 percent, to show no fear and to be honest with all of you but perhaps more importantly with myself.

It’s silly to wait until the new year to change yourself – but there is something about 2017 that gives me hope to change everything that 2016 damaged. So here’s to a new year, new inspiration and a commitment to being a new version of myself.

I know there are a lot of little things and big things I can do to make myself happier in 2017. I never make resolutions because I’ve never thought I could see them through, but in 2017 I’m going to have a little more faith in myself.

  1. Post one blog post every week.
  2. Reflect after every day and disconnect.
  3. Move and get a new job.
  4. Learn to drive
  5. Exercise.
  6. Eat healthier.
  7. Spend less money.

There’s a lot on the list and it may be ambitious, but I think just putting it out there that I want to make a change is a step in the right direction, even if I can’t fulfill every point every day.

What are your 2017 goals and resolutions?

Hope you all had a safe and happy new years. Looking forward to journey into 2017 with you.

~ Kayla