Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lifting the Fog

"Depression corrupts your view of reality. You create enemies, amplify stress. Everything becomes personal" ~@DeeRene_


I can't even began to explain how much truth there is in that statement. My recent bout with depression was a really tough one. It started around the Christmas holidays, as it always does.  But, I didn't come out of it after the new year like I usually do. This year I was compounded by the stress and anxiety caused by my job. I loved my job...let me rephrase that...I loved the idea of my job, but having 4 different bosses and being pulled in 4 different directions...it was just too much. Add being depressed on top of that stress and anxiety, it fucked me up mentally.

I had no clue what reality actually looked like. In my mind my only true friend in this area became my enemy. I had convinced myself that she was being two-faced and that she could no longer be trusted. I had almost cut her off completely and written her off as a bad person. I had created SOOOOO much fear and anxiety about losing my Boo. I took everything he said or did personally. Every little thing caused me to believe that he was going to leave me, and this caused me to behave in ways that I am so ashamed of. He would say something that set me off, I would snap, and when he would shut me out I would go on these long tangents about my fear of losing him. I would beg and plead for him to let me back in only for the cycle to repeat itself.

Other than my son my Boo is my world. That's my family. He's a positive force in my life. He's a source of love, peace, and happiness. He brightens my soul. Of course I don't want to lose that, especially after dealing with all of the ain't shitness that I've had to deal with in the past. But, even though my Boo is better than your boo will ever be, he's also human. And while I was going through my thing, he was going through his own thing. As much as I needed him and his positivity, he needed me and my positivity, but neither of us had any to spare. So, Boo shutting down on me wasn't about me and my outlandish behavior (although I'm sure it contributed to it), it was about him trying to deal and cope with his own stuff. He just couldn't take on all of the extra that I was giving him.

Quitting my job was the best think I could have done for me, for my relationship, for my sanity. The day I turned in my resignation letter I felt so much lighter, like a bolder was lifted off of my shoulders. The fog in my head started to clear, and I was starting to think more rationally. I relapsed though after a student walked into my office and tried committing suicide while I was in the middle of a text conversation with my Boo. That set off another cycle of being shut out and begging to be let back in. It also pushed up my last day of work, so all and all I don't count it as a complete loss.

Since I've been home the stress and anxiety has gone away for the most part and the fog of the depression is lifting. I started realizing all of the mistakes that I've made. I saw how irrational my thoughts were and how they were so far from reality, how I allowed the irrationality fear to wreak havoc on my relationship. I'm starting to see things a lot more clearly, like I finally put my glasses on after going through life with blinders on for the past 3 months.

A very unfortunate circumstance allowed me to see that my friend is truly my friend and that she'll be there for me in my time of need. I don't know what will happen with Boo, as that relationship sustained the most damage. I do know that I love him A LOT, and I know that he loves me too, that he'll always love me. I know that he has to get through what he's going through and find his way back to himself. As much as I need him due to that very unfortunate circumstance, I want him to get better. I want to do whatever is needed to help him to get better. My stress, anxiety, and depression caused me to be selfish long enough. I stand in confidence and have faith that once we are both better and the fog has completely lifted for the both of us then things will be alright between us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Need to Lighten Up

"Bag lady, you gon hurt your back....carryin all them bags like that" ~ Ms. Badu

When the title of this blog came to me I wasn't even thinking about its double meaning. I had just woken up refreshed and in a good mood after having a bad day the day before. I woke up with epiphanies coming at me left and right. I journaled about some, sent emails about others. But the idea that I need to return to my nonchalant, light mood self was to be the topic of my blog today, but as I was taking a shower to get dressed for work I realized that the title could spawn a second and yet related topic. The need to let go of excess baggage.

Over the Christmas break I went home to Atlanta, and I was anxious to get my hair cut by my stylist there. I had been to several stylist in the Virginia area, but none could get my hair to look like it did when I lived in Atlanta. So, one of the first things I did was go and get a haircut. When I sat down in her chair the first thing she said to me is "What are you stressing about?", to which I replied "nothing". She then proceeded to turn the chair around so that I was looking her in her face and said to me "You are stressed! Your hair is in shock! Whatever it is...LET.IT.GO!" Its like she looked into my scalp like a crystal ball and could see the past 3 years of worry, stress, and anger. And that's exactly what the last 3 years have been for me. I had been in a constant state of distress for 2.5 years. Yet even after I let go of what have caused the stress, I have become this uptight and defensive person looking for the next thing that's going to go wrong or hurt me. I have lost touch with my lighter side. I had let go of the majority of my stressors and the negative influences on my life, but I had not let go of the defenses that I had built because of them.

So, I woke up this morning knowing that I had to get back in touch with that person. I need to let down my defenses because at this point I don't need them, and I need to start enjoying life. I need to get back to joking and having fun. I want to be able to enjoy my relationship and not live in fear of the next argument or the break-up. I want to be able to take a joke and not feel as if it something serious that I should be worried about. I want to not only be happy, but I want to have joy!  I want to be playful, to live, laugh, and to love.

But, in order to do so I have to get rid of the baggage from my past hurts and my past stress. The load is too heavy, and it wasn't meant for me to carry. Those aren't my problems anymore. That isn't my drama anymore. I.AM.FREE! So, I need to stop carrying it around with me and looking for ways to add to it. In addition, I need to dump some more of the negative energy that is in my life. I have come to realize that although I may be a source of positive energy for people who I am a friend to, they may not be a positive source of energy to me. In fact, they are giving me negative energy in exchange for my positive energy, and this has to stop. I need to be around people who I  exchange positive energy with. I have several of those people in my life now, but it doesn't help if there's that one negative person draining all of the positive energy that I'm receiving. That baggage too, has to go!

Yesterday I said that I was tired, and my boo's response to that was "well then you need to change", and I intend to do just that. I started making changes in my life during the second half of 2014, and I will probably spend the majority of 2015 continuing to make those changes that are needed to be a better me mentally, spiritually, and physically. I'm excited about the change that has happened, and I'm excited about the change that is yet to come. I'm excited about this year. I'm ready to lighten up and enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Boycott. Boycott. BOYCOTT!

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance! I'm sure if you're a member of a Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO) that you've heard this statement before. Better yet, if you've attended an HBCU you've also probably heard it. Yet, during this time of the 2nd Civil Rights Movement, as I like to call it, we as African American people are often missing the key theme of the statement, PROPER PLANNING! We have finally gotten to the state of being outraged and ready to fight back against the injustices that we have been dealing with for far too long, but the one thing that we lack that the previous Civil Rights Movement had are leaders to strategize and plan things out. True to form, this generation is so dependent on instant gratification that they take off to be social activists without thinking things through and doing proper research. They just want change and they want it NOW! I'm sorry, but real change isn't going to happen now, it won't happen tomorrow, or the next day. Real change is going to take a while, and in order for it to be effective we have to plan and strategize our methods of exacting change on society.

We have finally accepted that we have a voice, we have buying power, and we can use that power to be heard. But, nobody has done any research as to how to wield this power. The first thing that we do when something happens that we don't agree with is yell boycott. But who, what, when, where, and exactly for how long are we boycotting. People look at the Birmingham Bus Boycott as an example of how effective boycotting can be, but what they don't look at is the fact that what was supposed to be a one day boycott turned into a 381 day boycott. Not only did it last 381 days but it was a united front by every single Black person in Birmingham regardless of how far they had to walk to get to their destinations or how much stuff they had to carry in transit. If we really want to pick up the sword that is our buying power and use it as a tool to be not only heard but respected, then we have to do a better job at it because right now we're just waving it around in the air and not causing any real damage. We boycotted Black Friday and Cyber Monday but shopped every other day of the week. We want a show taken off of the air, but instead of boycotting the show or the station that its on we actually watch the show to boycott the companies who advertise during that time slot. Then on top of that nothing we're doing is unified. We are too busy, with our crabs in a barrel mentality, trying to find fault in ideas to support them.

In order for change to happen it has to be researched, it has to be calculated and planned, and it has to be unified. We have to be in this together and for the long haul, however long that is. We have to start supporting each other, pouring money back into our communities, rebuilding our communities, rebuilding our sense of family/community. We also have to realize that doing just one thing isn't going to work. Just boycotting, just voting, or just marching isn't going to fix the issue.  We have to do them all. Don't just vote to say that you're voting but be an informed voter. Don't just march or protest to be seen in a picture but be informed about what's going on, and not just what you read on FB or twitter. Don't just boycott because someone yelled boycott but research and find the way that is going to be most effective. Most importantly do ALL that you can to help the cause if you're truly down for it and want to see change.

Monday, December 1, 2014

How Are You Behaving?

My cousin posted this picture and it really got me to thinking about how my behavior is affecting and has affected my relationships. Often times we want to point the blame for the failures in our lives and in our relationships at other people. But, a wise saying (or a smart ass remark) once said "when you are pointing the finger at other people you have 3 fingers pointing back at you".

I took an introspective look at my behavior (particularly over the last month), and I was ashamed of myself. I have allowed myself to get caught up in being a spoiled brat. I allowed jealousy and envy to rear its head unabashedly. I lost control! Control of my feelings, control of my behavior. Then fear stepped in because anytime that I'm out of control or at a low point fear rears its ugly head to to make me feel worse that I already do. So now I'm being a scared, jealous, envious spoiled ass brat, and I'm taking all of this out on the person who I love. The person least deserving of this treatment. The person who I am don't want to lose.  Yet, I allowed fear to continue to allow me to spiral further out of control. I've fucked up, and I'm afraid to lose someone who I love. But, am I really losing him or is it just the fear making me believe that I am. And, that's how fear works. Fear has you believing and doing irrational things based on fabricated thoughts.  It targets your weak spot, and often the person who you love the most is your weakest spot.

This phrase though, it caused me to stop. I stopped thinking, overanalyzing, and processing the fear. I stopped and I realized that the problem wasn't any of the things that I had perceived as problems but that the problem was me and my behavior. So now that I have acknowledged what the problem is the next thing to do is to work on changing it. My battle with fear is an ongoing one. But knowing this, I must work more diligently in overcoming it. I must change HOW I've been addressing it. In that I must be proactive and rationalize my thinking BEFORE I allow fear to set in and control my thoughts. Only then will my behavior change.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Express Yourself!

Often times people are not allowed to truly express their raw emotions. They are required to qualify why they feel the way they do, or be judged because they feel a certain way. Men especially are taught not to express how they truly feel because they have to be "strong" and expressing emotions are a sign of weakness. I spent 2.5 years repressing my emotions because the person that I was dealing with didn't know how to (or simply didn't want to) handle them. They [emotions] "made him feel awkward". It is so refreshing to be in a relationship with someone who not only allows me to express myself, but also expresses himself and his emotions. I crave knowing how he truly feels about everything because that lets me know who he truly is and not the representative that he presents to the world.

With that being said, sometimes its hard for me dealing with another person's raw emotions. Sometimes they cause very strong emotions within myself. Its hard talking to my friends about it because they have a judgy mind construct when it comes to emotions and feelings. "He's not allowed to feel that way." "What's wrong with him?" "He needs to get it together." "He's insecure." If you ever need a reason to NOT talk to your friends about your relationship issues, here's a major one. They don't understand, they won't understand because they're on the outside looking in and the only details they get are what you give them (which are most likely biased).

Its better, and sometimes easier, to just give raw emotions back to him and we both deal with each other's emotions about whatever is going on. But, this is where I have a need for improvement. Often times when I give raw emotions back its at the wrong time, or taken the wrong way. If I'm feeling some type of way I either become hurt and sad or I get very bratty. I have to learn how to allow him time to deal with his emotions first before I give him mine to deal with also. Because while I can process and handle both his and my emotions at the same time, he struggles with that. I will work on this and I love that he will give me the space to improve myself.

The unconditional love that exists between us gives us the strength needed to express ourselves to each other. It also gives us the strength to overcome the rawest of emotions and whatever reactions that they cause. Our love gives us the strength to grow and to support each other through the growth. It gives us the strength and the freedom to be us in true form. And that is what makes it worth it all.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PSYCHOanalysis

So yesterday I called a good FRIEND (emphasis on the word friend because I don't call too many people that) of mine while I was chilling with a mutual friend watching football. We were sitting around joking, laughing, having a good time like we always do when we converse. In the midst of the conversation she tells me how her boyfriend/boo/whatever he is told her that I'm a bad influence on her and that I use my degrees on her. (For those that don't know I have a bachelors in psychology and a masters and ed specialist in counseling). Both my homeboy and I immediately burst out laughing (he's also working on his masters in the field and has been told the same thing), and let me tell you why.

First, practicing on friends, family, or even people that you know period is unethical and goes  against any moral code of psychologists, counselors/therapists, social workers, etc. That was one of the first things that we were taught in school. Second, AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! I spend all day at work providing counseling and case management services to my clients who have 50-11 issues. When I get off work I'm DONE being captain save-a-chick! Plus, I spent 3 years in undergrad, 2 years in grad school, and amounted a nice sum in student loans to be out here practicing for free .99 on my friends. If I'm "using my degrees" please believe I'm getting paid for it so that I can pay back Sallie Mae with her bitch ass (but that's another rant). Don't get me wrong, I'm a caring and compassionate person, and I'm always there when my friends need me for whatever they need me for. But, if there problems require therapeutic intervention I will refer them to someone who can help them, or simply suggest that they need to go see a counselor for their problems.

So, I decided to create a list for all of you people who think that mental health providers "use their degrees" on their friends of the things that we DON'T do with our friends or significant others.

1) We don't psychoanalyze our friends. If you knew how much we got paid or could get paid for a psychoanalytical assessment then you'd politely shut the fuck up with this one.

2) We don't play "mind games". I'm too old to play games for starters, and I'm not trying to figure my friends out. I'm just trying to enjoy life and bring a few people along for the ride.

3) While we MAY give our friends our opinions or advice, we don't provide counseling to them (or at least we're not supposed to). Advice is cool for the friends but not for the clients, and counseling is cool for the clients and not for the friends. You can come to me with your problem and I'm going to listen and give you my opinion on it. But, if I feel that it is extending into the scope of me having to provide services I'm gonna tell you to seek help, and I ain't it!

Anyway, I'm done with this rant. Its time for me to get dressed for work so I can use my degrees and get paid for it for the next few hours.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recharging an INFJ

Yesterday I had to go to the Northern Virginia Domestic Violence Community Annual Meeting, and before the meeting, I had to attend a networking breakfast with others who work in the field. Normally in large social settings I am the one on the wall or in a corner merely observing everyone else's interactions. Its the introvert in me. I'd rather be in small intimate social settings with close friends and people I know. But yesterday, I couldn't. While I knew a handful of the people there because I work with on a fairly regularly basis, most of there were foreign to me. I wanted nothing more than to find a corner, have a seat, and just watch as people talked and shared knowledge. But, surprisingly I didn't. I walked in and I found someone I knew, and I spoke. I introduced myself to people I didn't know. I even posed for pictures of the event to go on the website. I networked! I got my name and my face out there in this very tight nit community of people. I was proud of myself. While I wasn't a social butterfly bouncing around from circle to circle making small talk, I had made progress. I networked.

While I was proud of my personal accomplishment, I left the event feeling drained. I was mentally and emotionally overstimulated. I had just spent 5 hours out of my element. I wasn't able to cower behind my cell phone and interact with my friends via social networking. I had no safety net, no security blanket. I was actually engaged with my surroundings. The empath in me felt all of the raw emotions in the room from the different speakers, my pregnant coworker sitting next to me, the award recipients, and the presenters. I had to exert more energy than normal to not only calm my nerves and be engaged, but to not take on the cornucopia of feelings that were swirling around the room. By the time I got back to my office I was spent. I had become slightly annoyed, and I would have rather went home and went to sleep. But, I couldn't. I had a 3pm meeting that I had to prepare for. I had clients texting my phone needing to see me. I had to finish my day.

If I was slightly annoyed at 2 pm imagine how I felt by 6pm when I finally got home. All I wanted to do was get in bed (actually I wanted to curl up in Boo's arms but that option wasn't available). I needed to recharge. My batteries were deader than an iphone after 3 hours of use with no charger in sight. So, I went into my shell. The peace, quiet, and solace of my home was more than welcoming. The eucalyptus and spearmint candle that I lit in my room was more relaxing than normal. My Boo's basketball shorts and my favorite stuffed elephant provided an extra measure of comfort. I had plugged into my charger. Unlike most times when you plug your phone into the charger and keep using it as its charging, I had to turn me off. I couldn't take any more interaction with society. Because I couldn't interact with my known positive sources of energy (at least the one I wanted to interact with), I didn't want to risk taking on any negative energies that would deplete me any further. So, I simply went to sleep, and I woke up this morning with my batteries on 100%. Ready to take on this 12 hour work day. Ready to interact with society again.