Depression hurts.

I found this photo today and it looks so weird. My makeup was done and it was so pretty and it’s one of the best weekends ever and I was so happy, and had nothing to be sad about, but I’m uncomfortable because I’m depressed. I swear I try not to be, and I really thought for how happy I was at this time I really thought I could hide it better. I’m caught off guard that my sadness was leaking out and I didn’t even know. A weird sense of belonging and not belonging. I’ve been depressed a lot of my life but it fluctuates so much I’m mostly just waiting it out; the dull and hopeless storm that doesn’t always erupt but often passes. I’m 28 and I’m glad that I’ve learned to live with feeling depressed, in a sense that I’m able to push through the minimum. I go to work, I take care of people, I go home. I sleep, I eat, I shower, repeat. My bills are paid, I have a car, I have a house. It wasn’t always like that.

Today is one of those days where I go through the motions to take care of myself on auto pilot. I’m exhausted from putting my productive mask on all week at work and coming home drained of emotional energy. Just a few thoughts or bad memories and I can feel the bad coursing along my bones, swimming through my muscles, draping me in a mist of self pity. A slow roasting cascade of stress and thoughts about people that have hurt me, feelings of rejection from love throughout my lifetime, self hatred, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, guilt that I wasn’t worth the time, fleeting flashes of anxiety that I’m not where I want to be in life, feelings of wondering why it matters anyway, worries that my aspirations are just so I have a cover of accomplishment to shroud my true dejected self, feeling that I’m too late or not right for certain expectations, guilt for wanting normal things and not being good enough, unworthy of it all. It all quietly boils over until I’m a reduction of tears and heavy tiredness. I’m upset that I know I know better and I’m upset that I still don’t just feel better. I’m so tired of being tired because I was trying to fake it until I make it. I’m tired of that line. I’m fine, I’m just so tired.

Imposter Syndrome

It’s really therapeutic for me to write for myself and to get my cluttered thoughts out. It’s like pulling at a ribbon that wound itself up into my brain, and afterward I have a little more room to just breathe. Let’s see where this goes.

The other day a woman that I work with and look up to as being mentally strong, funny, and confident (or maybe she just doesn’t give any fucks) had laughed and said she just remembered she saw a meme the other day and had thought of me. She said something along the lines of it being because of how I never think I’m doing something right and just stress myself out…

It didn’t hurt my feelings and it didn’t make me feel “bad” at all, because she wasn’t attacking me, but I felt a little off guard because I know how I feel, and I know how I often doubt myself. I didn’t realize that it was so obvious. It’s easy when you’re wrapped up in anxiety to not realize that it’s leaking out all over the place in your words and actions. I wish I were more mindful, and I can be more mindful, I just have to keep working at it. It was a little like that song “killing me softly” and I was surprised that she just knew I’m deep down sometimes a real low confidence scaredy cat.

Now, to get to my point, I’ve actually felt like I’ve made a lot of progress lately. I used to back away from things I was afraid of and I haven’t let anything get in my way in that sense in probably a year-ish. This last week was my 2 year anniversary of becoming a nurse, and my 1 year anniversary of becoming an RN. I hardly even remember school because I was constantly vibrating at such a high level of being “found out” because I irrationally just knew I didn’t belong, that I was doing it all for nothing because no one would hire a bad person like me, and that I was never going to be able to do what I ultimately wanted to do. There was no basis to my thought process, it was all just fear. That was pretty much a constant struggle mantra wrapped up throughout both nursing programs, for my LPN diploma and RN degree.

It’s a wonder I graduated, not because I wasn’t smart or capable, but because I had such incredible doubt. I actually did very well in school…well, after that first year once I put my mind to it and made myself push through fear and go to class ha. I really am a good nurse. There’s hardly a more fulfilling feeling than making someone else feel healed, mentally and physically, enough to get them through their medical treatments and on to wellness. I know what it’s like to become healed when hurt, I get it and I get the struggle, and I want healing for everyone.

Once I started my first job as a nurse, I remember almost every day feeling like I didn’t belong. I looked at my badge in awe, I was proud of myself and in total disbelief at the same time that I got myself to where I was. When I’d finish educating a patient on something or completing a treatment and they would sincerely thank me, I’d walk out of the room feeling so good, but at the same time I thought that it had to be a lucky, one time success. Even when I nailed my skills and did a great job, I would go home later, heart racing, like I didn’t deserve to feel good about it or that I didn’t deserve to be who I was and have the title that I did.

I still struggle with not spending every dollar I have anxiously, because I don’t understand how I even have as much money as I do, and the first few months of making real paychecks I thought if I spend it quick it’s like it never happened, no guilt. I didn’t feel deserving. I know it doesn’t make sense now, but it just took a bit of growing up for me. I’m not rolling in money but let’s be real, I used to have about $3 to my name after bills every paycheck because I was barely scraping by in all aspects of life before school, from the time I initially moved out at 16, bouncing around place to place, and usually relying on others; it’s not entirely surprising that I struggled with the concept of saving. Woof.

I really felt like any day that my manager wanted to talk, it was because they were going to tell me “well, it turns out you’re not a good fit for nursing, so we’re going to have to let you go.” This never actually happened though and I really only ever heard praise. The first unit I worked on as an LPN and then a few months as an RN before coming to the OR was SO unrealistically SUPPORTIVE, they were just wonderful. I still somehow felt wrong, even though I was the luckiest new grad nurse ever; to be so awkward and still so welcomed into my new career from the start. I never experienced the saying “nurses eat their young” fortunately. I knew that this was all that I had ever wanted to do, and now that I’ve accomplished something I never thought I’d be able to finish, who am I? Why do I deserve to get all this good? I had the perception that nothing ever went completely right for me, so you see, I just had so much doubt.

“Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It strikes smart, successful individuals. It often rears its head after an especially notable accomplishment, like admission to a prestigious university, public acclaim, winning an award, or earning a promotion.”

I first read about imposter syndrome on an article from Scientific American online. You can click the quote above to link to the very exact article that helped me gain a little more perspective a couple years ago. Although I instantly had an ‘ah-ha’ moment of what I was going through for years, it didn’t “fix” the feelings. I didn’t even think about it because I just made myself get through it and didn’t really have a choice in whether I wanted to feel that way or not. I didn’t even realize I had worked my way through it until I realized that when my coworker friend had known all along, that I was actually a ball of stress, and it didn’t feel threatening. I have accepted it and have gained progress at working toward being more internally peaceful. What a concept, wow. I’m just shocked and awed and what our brains can do and overcome. A year ago I would have probably cried all the way home from realizing that she could see through me. It sounds so ridiculous but the perception of being weak terrified me.

That’s how mental illness rolls. There is hardly much to consider as rational in the heightened experience of anxiety. Now I’m free to recognize that it wasn’t insulting or she wasn’t dangerously close to exposing who I am, *gasp* an anxious person, and it wasn’t going to be leading to a cascade of failures and rejections as I had believed prior to overcoming most of the process of imposter syndrome.

If you are going through imposter syndrome, I feel ya. I cannot tell you that you’re worth it, that you are doing all the right things, or that you are right where you belong. The whole background to imposter syndrome is that there really isn’t anything wrong except for your perception, and you’re surely not going to believe anyone else telling you how great you are if you don’t believe in yourself.

Only you know what you truly want by whether it’s worth it or not to push past the feelings of insecurity until you become a strong(er), (more)secure person. The only cure to imposter syndrome is to defy it. I know now that I did not get lucky in life. I worked for it and earned it, and I’m no longer embarrassed to say that. It’s okay to be wow’d by your own hard work. Happy solstice, friends.

Stability and Saturdays

Lately I have been really focused on stability; physically, mentally, and financially. What better way to roll those three goals in to one challenge than Windsor Pilates. I already had the DVD so it wouldn’t cost anything, I thought the Pilates breathing would clear my mind, and the workout is definitely physically beneficial.

I was about 14 when I was first suckered into buying something from an infomercial, and in that Summer when I couldn’t sleep and would torture myself into being up at 5 am to “be a better person”, the Windsor Pilates commercials were all over our satellite TV channels. I was sleep deprived and a teenager, so my susceptibility to anything beauty or fitness related was inevitable. Remembering this makes me realize that instagram is kind of today’s platform for infomercials; think skinny teas full of bloat causing senna and waist trainers that are guaranteed to make you look like a busted can of biscuits. The packaging is shiny, but the results are not typical.

My thoughts have always been saturated with this gnawing needing to change my body. Maybe one day I’ll be at peace, it feels closer and closer, but I’m just not there yet. Years before I bought the Windsor Pilates program, when I must have been around 7 or 8, I found an old dusty VHS tape in the TV cabinet that had some skinny as fuck neon pink leotard wearing woman. It was a tape for a high impact cardio workout. It changed my life in the sense that I discovered I could just watch this woman and copy what she does and I would lose all of my excess body weight. Copying people who have what I want must be the key. I could also follow the dieting and food suggestions in my mom’s magazines and boom. If they look this good they must be following their own advice 24/7, and there is no way that they were paid to say such things or have such things written for them for money. The idea never every came to my young mind, it just must be facts. And I sure absorbed it all.

The first time I was ever home alone I did the tape, and afterward laying in a pile of sweat on the lint coated carpet at the end of the “high impact cardio workout” I felt such a change mentally. Looking back it may have been high endorphins, low oxygenation, and the skewed vision of a chubby child trying to be likeable but the bubbling hope and sparkling possibilities of such a realization that “this method could change MY body because it said so” was a glorious feeling; and it is a feeling that would continue to find me throughout my adolescence, and sometimes even still.

I had two jobs the day that I turned 14, because I was very sure that I needed to be able to take care of myself. My parents were not reliable, but that’s a whole extra story for another time, maybe. So because I was 14 and had a little bit of money, I had my own cell phone and I had my own checks. After calling the infomercial number for the company selling the Windsor Pilates box set and sending off who knows how much, I got my package a few weeks later.

Despite most infomercials turning out to be cheap scams, this was and still is such a good workout. At this moment in time, I have very little core strength. I am super weak and just putting a case of water in the bottom of the shopping cart at Costco last night was awkward and embarrassing. I am bound to hurt myself eventually, and I am so lucky that I have still at this size and weight somehow missed out on any serious health concerns, illness, or injury. That’s not to say that it’s a comfortable body to live in, but I haven’t had any major diagnosis and my blood pressure is good. I think it’s easy to hide behind “normal” vital signs though and it doesn’t necessarily mean I am out of the woods. I know that it must be hard for my body to perfuse efficiently and to keep going with this much salt, sugar, and fat intake, and low activity output. It’s only a matter of time before I am sick and wishing I would have made a change sooner, so here I am. Trying to keep making a change. Even if I get off track, I think they key is to keep trying. There is no one track to anywhere. It’s the little things and the constant process that is what equates to better health. I am so thankful to realize such a thing, before I’ve gotten to a point where it’s to late and I have had a stroke or heart attack.

I remember putting in that Windsor Pilates DVD for the first time and going through my first at home Pilates routine with Mari Windsor instructing me and I was stretching, and breathing, and feeling like a fucking hot as fuck stretchy limber goddess. I swear there could have been glitter dripping off my sweaty head, it felt so good and I felt like I was on a good path. It sparked inspiration to follow other teen aged brained beauty routines though, which weren’t so good. This included squeezing sticky lemons into my hair to lighten it and slathering myself with cooking oil to darken my skin by laying outside, copying DOs and DON’Ts from teen magazines, making vats of the Mayo Clinic Cabbage Soup, and biking 26 miles in one day because I was bound and determined to not be the fat girl. You know, kid things. I also found EDspace that Summer, which opened my eyes up to a whole other community of like-minded, frustrated, disordered, parent-ally unsupported, depressed girls. That too is a whole ‘nother story, friend.

YM magazine
So today at the age of 27, I decided to give Windsor Pilates another go. It gave me the only abs I’ve ever had in my life, and although layered under a soft padding of subcutaneous fat, it was great to feel so strong. Truly strong. Physically able to run in the event that I need to in an apocalypse and able to pull myself up from falling off a cliff and only having a ledge or a branch to hold on to. I have my original Windsor Pilates DVD still, but I no longer have a DVD player. I can’t even remember the last time I had one or where it went. It maybe would play in my laptop but luckily it does not matter because YouTube exists, and it is fantastic.

mari windsor

This is literally the same Windsor Pilates DVD workout that I had, yaasss youtube!

Let me tell you what isn’t fantastic though. Feeling the effects of time, age, and inactivity smacking you right in the head; sort of like the way my boobs smashed up into my neck and face when I was crunched forward and up into “table top position” before doing the 100s. A real, squished, wake up call. My boobs are pretty good for being this size and for the lack of body strength and muscle that I have, but still. Laying on my side to do triangles (or pyramids) and not being able to lift my damn leg more than 6 times without gravity winning hard was a bitter taste to swallow. This is hard when I haven’t worked out more than doing incline treadmill routines in the last year plus.

Today though, I’m thankful for this struggle. I’ve been on this struggle bus for a long time and I feel like my stop is coming up soon. I didn’t realize how hard a 20-30 minute floor workout was. I truly believe that to get to this weight though, there is a significant amount of denial and ignorance that has to occur. I know that it is lazy, but I would never want to admit that I am lazy. I know that it is unhealthy. I know that my HR should not shoot up so high for such minimal activity. But here I am, eyes open, and I’m learning every day. I’m going to try this workout again, as I know it will get easier with consistency. Consistency is literally only possible if I keep going; and you can’t move ahead unless your eyes are open.

Gochujang Meatloaf & Potatoes

I decided to try out a new recipe. I’m not a fantastic cook and I’m not a professional photographer, but here’s what I’ve got. My boyfriend said he’s been craving meatloaf for about a month so I decided to surprise him the other night. Meatloaf, surprises, what a sentence. I also haven’t really used the oven a lot lately but that Fall feeling is creeping in and that makes me feel like baking. We really need to go grocery shopping as I’ve been procrastinating it but we had all the basic ingredients for the recipe on the Lipton onion soup mix website. I don’t actually love meatloaf unless it’s like 25% meatloaf and 75% mashed potatoes. Something about a hunk of moist ground meat just does not do it for me, but this was pretty good.

gojuchang

Anyway, I bought some cheap gochujang sauce from Target the other week and thought it would be the perfect thing to spice up this recipe. I substituted the ketchup in the recipe for the same amount of gochujang sauce and my kitchen smelled so amazing. I drizzled ketchup on the top of the meatloaf in case the gochujang was too savory vs sweet, but it actually ended up being more sweet than the ketchup so…if I ever make this again I’d use about half the gochujang. I also made some potatoes to mash and boiled some baby carrots at the same time because they’re good and they give the potatoes a little extra color and flavor. I really like to steam them usually, but I just dumped them in when the water started to boil because I like to keep it easy.

potatoes

I used a modified version of the “Souperior Meatloaf” from the Lipton website, which you can find here. I’m not being paid for this but just wanted to credit where the recipe originated from because I’m newer at this and not sure what or how I go about crediting sources on blogs. Anyway, here is my version. I cut the recipe in half mostly, since there is just two of us and we ended up cutting it into three servings, one for me, one for my boyfriend, and one for him to take to lunch the next day.

  • 1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion Soup Mix
    • I didn’t half this since I wasn’t using real onions and thought it would be fine.
  • 1 lbs. ground beef (original called for 2 lbs.)
  • 6 tbsp plain dry bread crumbs (half of 3/4 c.)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp water (half of 3/4 c.)
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp gochujang sauce (half of 1/3 c.)
    • Here is the amount that I used here, but next time I would half even this amount if I was using only gochujang or maybe I’d do half/half gochujang if you don’t want too much of a spicy/sweet diversion from regular meatloaf.

I also added in a few dashes of salt, pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning because…it’s good on e v e r y t h i n g.

I did not mash it up or combine it with my hands but rather stirred it all with a butter knife and sort of cut in the ingredients so that the bread crumbs wouldn’t be super mushy. I baked it in a standard non-greased loaf pan uncovered at 350° for about an hour. There was quite a bit of fat collecting so about halfway through so I drained the grease off by tipping the pan over a sink with hot water running down the drain at the same time. I didn’t want it to be soggy so this worked out well. The meat I used was 80/20 too though, so if there is a next time I could just use a leaner percentage.  I’m looking for more types of meals like this that are easy to assemble and good for next day lunches, so leave me a link to a favorite go-to recipe of yours!

Deactivating Facebook

I am at a point where I have a lot of thoughts about my goals and my struggle to progress in meeting these goals. I love to write and if I write these thoughts out as unfiltered as I can, it helps me get the words out of my head and down onto paper. I can almost feel the stream of words flowing out of my head as I type. They’re marching out, fluidly and single file, letter by letter. They are often heavy, and like a thick magnet to a metal surface, the words click down onto the screen now and out of my mind. I use a lot of guided imagery to pretend my stress away. Sounds bizarre but at least it’s not a stress reliever that comes with an impending sense of doom caused by guilt. I have quite a few of those though. Most recently I was dying inside after downing a pint of Phish Food with a bag of gummy worms mixed in on Sunday night after my boyfriend went to bed and I couldn’t sleep. We had also already had pizza right before that and I was bloated af. I haven’t felt that level of guilt in a long time. Why do I do this? The ice cream came from a gas station and must have melted and refroze at some point because it was pretty hard and ice crystals were on top even underneath the white plastic protective peel. Did that stop me? No way, I had a bunch of youtube videos to catch up on and was mindlessly swallowing as much sugar as I could to get my brain distracted from how tired I really was. I rolled myself into bed next to my sleeping saint of a boyfriend and had nightmares all night of being 600 lbs and unable to get myself out of bed, watching my boyfriend and our cat drive away forever into a picturesque sunset. I’m about 100 pounds more than I was when he met me and he still treats me the same way, actually he treats me even better as time goes on, therefore I call him a fucking saint as this is not what he signed up for. It could have been the paranoia induced from the insane sugar load, as before I even got up to throw the evidence in the trash my brain was throbbing as if I had a migraine but there wasn’t any pain. The sugar was crawling throughout my body and bringing me a day closer to type two diabetes. I’m so lucky my pancreas is still holding on. I’ve been abusing it for years.

So earlier today I decided to put some of my thoughts out onto my personal facebook page. I often post thousand word long posts and then feel too vulnerable and have to click “hide from timeline” as soon as I feel like I’m going to collapse from dreading possible judgement. Clicking post feels so good though. I have collected my thoughts into a neat little organized post, decked out with correlating emojis, and it is so satisfying to feel the relief that I got out what I wouldn’t be able to put into words. I am the worst mumbler I’ve ever met. I hear “what?” about 10 times a day. I die if I order a sandwich and have to respond with “white” or “wheat” because they usually have me spell it out after saying “wheat” like 3 different times and not understanding what I rattled out. I just get so nervous being uncomfortable in this body I’ve made for myself that I can’t even talk right.

I noticed a few likes and comments come in on my drawn out post and it dawned on me that anyone I’m “friends” with could read it but maybe it wasn’t something that I wanted acquaintances to read about or know about. Then someone unfriended me. I don’t know who and I don’t even know how I recognized the number had changed since I don’t usually pay attention that kind of stuff, but I remembered that the last digit was a 7 earlier today since 7s seem to show up everywhere lately, but now that 7 was a 6. Personally I use the “unfollow” button pretty frequently. It’s an easy solution to being annoyed as you can contact the person if you wanted to but you don’t have to see all their nonstop shit posting. But to all out delete someone is to be so sick of who they are you just can’t deal anymore. My heartfelt post about how I was feeling was so off putting to someone that they clicked on my name and permanently tapped unfriend. So I thought about it for a few minutes and realized well I don’t really want to wonder about what anyone thinks. I don’t use Facebook for anything productive anyway. My battery settings the other day in my phone listed the Facebook app as having 2 hours of active screen time in the last 24 hours, and that sick statistic should have been enough alone to call it quits for a while. I think I’m obsessed with likes. But my writing is for me. It’s for you too if you wanted it to be. So to be able to feel uncensored, I’ll just write here because it’s not shoved in anyone’s face as part of their daily news feed. I don’t want my thoughts to be summed up in a thumbs up, crying emoji, laughing emoji, heart emoji, or mad emoji. I’m here because I want to write freely and you’re here because you wanted to be. As you can tell, I can be a little neurotic. It’s already on the list of things I’m working on.