Dear Anxiety,

You’re a thief

Always taking

Never giving

You’re deceitful

And dishonest

You’re a master manipulator

And you thrive on the fear you create

You’re a jealous thief

Stealing away happiness

And love

Even robbing old memories

Making them turn sour

You’re a callous thief

Full of pain you can’t wait to inflict on others

Desperate to infiltrate every last happy place

You’re a cruel thief

Taking away the innocence of childhoods

And destroying what should be carefree teenage years

Annihilating adulthood with haphazardly thrown bombs

You’re a cowardly thief

Preying on people in their weakest moments

Victimizing the same people over and over again

Taunting them repeatedly

You are words that haunt

You are living nightmares that plague

You’ve stolen so much

That all we can do is pull at our hair and cry in frustration

Shouting that turns into whispered pleas

To just leave us alone

Wondering what we need to do

What more we need to sacrifice

To satisfy you

Spending entire lives

Serving life sentences

Paying penance for what we can’t control

All because of you

You’re nothing but a thief…

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‘You Can’t Go Back And Change The Beginning But You Can Start Where You Are And Change The Ending.’ C.S Lewis

I went to an alternative high school

I know

How fitting…right?

We called our teachers by their first names and had art all day on Thursdays

It occupied one upper floor of an elementary school

I skipped class more than I should have

There was a student there we had nicknamed ‘Neil the Nazi’

He carried around a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’

Maybe it was just one time

I don’t really remember

It’s ironic that this was so relevant then

Because I remember feeling like one of the most ethnically diverse people at the school

And that is saying a whole lot about the lack of diversity

It was so whitewashed that I didn’t want my parents to attend my graduation

Afraid my father would show up in a suit with his big gold Jesus-on-a-cross necklace

And it would be like bright flashing lights above my parents

Announcing our difference

Ironic too because I looked like this at that point:

Different wasn’t supposed to be negative

Unless you were my parents in a sea of WASPs

Anyway

I went from a catholic all girls school

To the alternative school

It was like a culture shock

I felt like a displaced person

Or like someone who’d accidentally happened upon a secret society

Who didn’t belong

We did pottery

Drew live nudes

And smoked too many cigarettes sitting underneath hundred year old trees

Griping about life

Not knowing nearly how hard it had yet to become

I smoked so much pot

That I grew tired of it’s magic

I was dissatisfied with everything

I didn’t know then

What I know now

I thought high school was as difficult as it was gonna get

I didn’t realize that life was only getting started

It all seemed so endless and suffocating at the same time

I wanted to be free of my parental supervision

Separated from my cultural ties

I didn’t know my hardest battles were laying in wait for me

Lulling me into believe the worst was over

I’d soon become such an easy target

Thinking the war was over

Feeling victorious with no need left to fight

Little did I know

That it was all just beginning

‘Hope Is Being Able To See That There Is Light Despite All Of The Darkness.’ Desmond Tutu

It’s an exciting time of year

It’s back to school time for a lot of people

Kids going back to school

Teachers and support staff heading back to work

A time for newness

Opportunity

Change

And me

Well I’m still home

Still

I don’t think I like that word anymore

It has such negative connotations

Like something is dragging on

And I guess this is

It’s sort of like living in purgatory

In between two worlds

….

I had to stop writing

I can’t seem to think about the kids or work without feeling so sad

The kind of sad where hot tears escape your eyes

Where it feels like you just picked a scab

And it’s red and raw and bleeding all over again

But it hurts so much more than the initial cut

Ugh

This isn’t where I want to still be

Still

Again that fucking word

Haunting me

Reminding me

I want to look back at my work memories fondly

Not with this gaping hole in my heart

Intellectually I know that I needed this time off

That I still do

There was and is a lot going on

That doesn’t

However

Stop me from wishing it didn’t have to be this way

I miss the kids I worked with

I miss the ones I haven’t even had the opportunity to have met yet

I miss getting to know them

Learning their stories

I miss finding ways to help them become better, stronger versions of themselves

It’s not entirely altruistic though

I selfishly miss seeing myself through their young admiring eyes

Looking at me like I held all the secrets to life

Looking at me with hope

Hope

I never managed to have much use of it

For myself

But always

Always managed to find even the smallest droplet for them

In this purgatory I find myself stuck in

I don’t belong in the work world

I don’t belong in the sick world

I don’t belong with the hopeful

I don’t belong with non hopefuls

I’m stuck lingering in between all of these worlds

With hope seeping out of my open wounds

Without a hope of saving a drop

But for those special kids in my heart

I’ll find a way

To save and keep a droplet of hope locked up tight

Just in case you need it…

Project Take Down Paxil 👊

I feel like I should apologize for being MIA lately

But I’m not really sorry

Because it’s for a good reason

It’s for me

Last Wednesday I dropped my Paxil dosage from 40mg to 30mg

I won’t pretend I was totally cool with it

I had a lot of reservations

But I also really wanted to do it

There were some shitty days obviously

Two days when my anxiety spiked to an uncomfortable level and I needed to take more Ativan

Several days where I had dizzy spells that came and went

But I survived

I can tell the following things helped:

Writing affirmations daily

Trying to stay busy

Doing a lot of introspection over the root of my anxiety

Now today I went down to 20mg

Last nite I was really starting to psych myself out of doing this

I kept thinking ‘woah 20 is a big drop from 40’

Then J. reminded me that I was going from 40mg to 20mg

I’ve been on 30mg and am stable there

Now I’m dropping 10mg again

Which I successfully did last week

I needed to hear that

It helped ease my fear

I made him write it out so I could print it

I’ve already reread it a few times

Along with some other affirmations

I need to keep reminding myself that I’ve already dropped 10mg and while unpleasant

I survived it

I’m still safe

I’m still here

And most of all

If I did it once

I CAN most certainly do it again

Changing the narrative helps

Taking the unknown and making it something familiar

Removes the fear

For anyone else out there struggling with anxiety

If I’ve got this

You’ve got this

Hard and uncomfortable as it is

We have what makes people into warriors

I’m going to remember all of the difficult things I’ve been through in my life

I’m scrappy

I am a fighter

Think of everything you’ve survived

I hope you keep fighting

Because I will too

That’s what warriors do

Here we go…again

After much deliberation

And talking with my doctor and psychiatrist

I’ve decided to try getting off the Paxil again

Although the first time didn’t go so well

I both want and need to do this

I’ve made a list of reasons why I need to do it

I won’t bore you with the details

I’m gonna try again

Differently

I’ll be tapering by 10mg a week

With the possibility of taking up to 4-5 Ativan a day if necessary

While part of me thinks this would be easy if I take all the Ativan

I know that it’ll be one more thing to wean myself from

So for now

They will stay be on my side

There if I need them

I’m trying a few other things

Like trying to be active and busier with other things

Physically and mentally

I’m also trying to go into this with a different mindset

I’m trying to remind myself this time around that I’ve faced many many challenges in my life

Some uncomfortable

Unpleasant

Painful

And I’ve survived

I hope one day this will be another thing I can add to my list of things that I survived

Wish me luck 🤞

The Odds

I find myself thinking in terms of:

When I get better

For example

When I get better, I’ll change my Paxil

Or

When I get better, I won’t feel so down

Or

When I get better, I’ll finish my degree

The list goes on and on

Sometimes it’s things exciting like travel

More often than not

It’s simple things

Like

When I get better, I’ll go for walks with Joey and my dogs

Ultimately

It always ends with me waiting for a time when I’ll feel better

Always waiting for a time that may never come

Then I think to myself

What if this is as good as it gets?

I mean

Really

And what if it is?

Does that mean I throw in the towel?

Give up

Admit defeat

And then what?

So I started thinking tonight…

And bear with me

This is wild

….

What if I just stop waiting?

…..

Dun dun dun

What if I stop waiting for a future that might never come?

What if I just start living like this is as good as its ever gonna get?

There is something so incredibly freeing about that

It’s difficult when the people around you encourage you to think of how much better things can get

As well intentioned as it is

It just doesn’t help

I’m so fucking sick and tired of waiting

I’m so tired of hoping

Fuck waiting and hoping and wishing

Maybe it’s time that I just start living

For today

I mean…Yeah maybe things will get better

But I just don’t want to waste my time waiting for something that is only possible (What is possible )

I like the odds of probable (What is probable)

It is probable (because there is evidence to support it) that tomorrow I will wake up

And feel as shitty as I do right now

But instead of going back to bed and waiting for a better day

I’ll just keep going

I’ll step out into the world and I’ll still feel shitty

But at least I will have fucking done something

And maybe for this to stick

I’ll have to keep reminding myself every day

That my life deserves a fighting chance

Doesn’t it?

That in order to really live

I need to remove both feet from inside of the grave

Any other way

And it’s just not probable

‘It’s Not What You Look At That Matters, It’s What You See.’ Henry David Thoreau

Sitting by the water

He takes out his notebook and a pen

He starts addressing the letter

‘Dear Mom and Dad’

He stops

Sits

Staring out at the sea

Reminded of all the times he had sat in this very spot before

Always looking

But never really seeing

Always searching

Never finding

Today is different

Today he is thinking of his parents

Thinking of what to write in a letter that will only be received after he’s gone

Thinking of what, if anything, will bring comfort to his parents

He doesn’t want to think about the sadness they might feel

He prefers to think of their future and how happy he thinks they’ll be without worrying about him all the time

Should he write that, he ponders

No

That sounds like he’s doing this because of them

And he’s not

He’s never done anything so much for himself before

He starts again

‘Dear Mom and Dad,

I love you both

I’m sorry for any grief this might cause you

But I’m doing this for me

I can’t stand it anymore

I hope one day you can understand that.’

He stops again

He rereads his words

He cringes

The words sound so hollow

It all seems so pitiful

That’s not what he wants to convey

This isn’t a sad ending

He needed this, he thinks

Surely they have seen that

Maybe there’s no way to write that out

Maybe there’s only a way to feel it

If only he could bottle up an emotion and attach it to his letter

He feels frustrated

Fuck this isn’t what he wanted today to be about

This day was supposed to be a happy day

He shouldn’t have waited until today to write this

This is good really

The end of a miserable life

He tears up the letter

He tries again

‘Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m doing this for me. A new beginning.

Love,

Your son’

He reads it over several times

It’s as good as its gonna get

He doesn’t have a lot of time left

He goes back to his lonely apartment

Filled with stuff he has no use for anymore

He wonders if he ever really enjoyed any of it

He doesn’t care if thieves get to it

He finds an envelope and puts his parents names on it

He had made plans with his parents for tomorrow

They are going to pass by

They’ll knock until they realize the door is unlocked

They’ll wander in

Walk around

Call his name

They’ll see all of his things scattered around

Remnants of a life he never really excelled at

Leftover pieces of a life that he could never really call his own

Things he won’t need anymore

The letter will be on the table

They can’t miss it

He wonders if they will figure it out before reading the letter

He hopes in someway they saw this coming

They had to

It’s been a long time coming

He doesn’t really care to say his goodbyes to anyone else

He just wants to be gone

Finally

He goes into his bedroom

There is a small bag in his closet

That he bought especially for this momentous occasion

He feels positively electric

His hands are shaking

He unzips it

Peeks inside

Making sure everything he needs is still there

Even though he has checked and rechecked a million times

He hasn’t slept in a few days

Too full of anticipation for this day

He takes a seat on his bed

Thinking about this last year

He’s exhausted and giddy at the same time

Giddy…he thinks

That’s the only time he’s ever used that word to apply to himself

He is so ready to take this leap

He gets up

Grabs his bag

Walks to the front door

He won’t need his keys where he’s going

He turns back

One last look

He feels nothing but relief

He shuts off the lights

Closing the door behind him

He’s ready

He takes a big breath

This isn’t an ending

He exhales

It’s his new beginning

One foot in front of the other

Not longer just about walking away from an expired life

But towards a new one

Just waiting to be found

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’