My Own Brand of Crazy

Y’all, I’m gonna tell you two things that drive me crazy… People who call me crazy and people who tell me to cheer up. Probably because I am a little crazy and it can be really fuckin’ hard for me to cheer up.

Okay, so “crazy” isn’t really the right word. In fact, “crazy” is definitely NOT the right word because people suffering from depression really are not crazy. They are just everyday people whose neurotransmitters happen to be a bit off. And my neurotransmitters? Yep, they are off, and, as much as I’d like to just cheer the hell up, some days it can be insanely difficult.

In my opinion, mental health issues are greatly overlooked in most societies, and especially ours. There is a a pretty sizable stigma when it comes to mental health and a lot of misinformation out there. I hear a lot of people spout facts like people only being depressed after big, bad life events or that anyone who needs help dealing with depression and the like, whether it be therapy or medication, is somehow less than and weaker than people who don’t. Yes, society is discussing mental health issues more, and bravo for that, but there are still so many people out there who feel the need to shame others who are struggling because they simply do not understand that us people dealing with these issues aren’t just a bunch of crazies who need to be locked up in looney bins. Struggling day to day with a mental health problem is not a choice.Last I heard, most doctors agree that it is largely due to important neurotransmitters in the brain being out of balance. There’s also genetics, stressful triggers and environmental factors and last I checked, none of these are things people truly have control over either. So stop the shaming, people! Shaming and all these stigmas only lead to people not being comfortable seeking help, or even admit that there is a problem, which is incredibly dangerous because as any person knows, even ones who’ve never dealt with a mental health problem a day in their life, bottling up feelings almost always ends with bad results.

Yes, I truly hate when people call me crazy. Not in that joking “oh you so cray cray” way. In that “if you can’t get yourself out of this funk you’re in for no reason you must really be crazy” way. But, if people insist on still throwing around the C-word for people dealing with their mental well-being then you know what? I’m just gonna have to find a way to own it. I’m so tired of people feeling too ashamed or worried they too might be called “crazy” if they discuss depression or PTSD or Bipolar disorder, etc, that it’s probably time for me to stand up and discuss my own shit. So here it is, my own brand of crazy…

For as long as I can remember my happiness level always seemed to be a bit lower than normal people’s. (“Normal.” I know, what the fuck is “normal?”) The easiest way for me to describe it is, yes, most people have bad days or get cases of the blues, but in general, their happiness line is pretty steady. Well, mine is just a few notches below theirs. It’s not that I was always dressed in black and writing poetry about how life and the whole world sucked and listening to emo (stigma alert!), I do feel happiness and I am for the most part happy, just not as outgoing and carefree and bubbly about it as some are. As I started getting older, there were a lot more peaks and valleys messing up that steady line. I went through a fairly traumatic event when I was 13 and it was then that all this was brought to light. That event lead to an understandable bout of what people around me called “the blues.” But those blues kept intensifying and intensifying. At the time, no one had ever talked to me about depression. Honestly, I don’t even know if I knew what it was back then. I was ashamed I couldn’t just put the event behind me and “toughen up” as I was recommended to do, so of course I didn’t tell anyone about these feelings of despair and hopelessness that were spiraling out of control inside me. Instead, I decided it would probably be easier just to give up because something must really have been wrong with my head and I ate a bottle of pills. I survived it. Clearly, as I am here to type the tale. And maybe it was the best thing that could have happened to me because finally a doctor was forced to explain to me my brain wasn’t exactly in tip top shape. I’m sure he had better doctor lingo he threw at me, but that’s how I remember it. Not in tip top shape, but that didn’t mean there was anything wrong with me, it just meant I had a bigger battle on my hands than just getting over a case of the blues because something bad happened to me.

Over the years I’ve seen many different doctors and tried many different drugs. I’ve been diagnosed with different forms of depression. Some say I have Bipolar II disorder, which is a more mild version of Bipolar I, since I do have depressive and manic episodes, but not often, and, luckily, not full-blown. Another doctor told me I would be better described as having Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified because my bipolar symptoms are so brief and mild. (Nope, being Bipolar doesn’t automatically mean you are bouncing off the walls with joy, snorting up lines of coke and running amok all over the city for like three day debauchery benders. Even though severe manic episodes can lead to behaviors in such a fashion, isn’t that more the version of Bipolar Hollywood has shoved down our throats? Again, stigma alert!) One doctor dismissed the Bipolar diagnoses altogether and said it was Dysthymic Disorder, which is a form of long-term major depression, but the symptoms have never been severe enough to prevent me from functioning in normal life. Regardless of the diagnoses, struggling with my mental health has also resulted in a struggle with anxiety disorders and social phobias (as if just being depressed in general just wasn’t enough fun!) and a large part of these are because I was just always so damn scared that people would uncover how fucked up and crazy I really am because I couldn’t just be a normal carefree kid.

I’ve been on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-anxieties, MAOI’s, and had cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychoeducation therapy. Understandably, I’ve been less than open about all this because, anti-psychotics? Psychoeducation? Suicide attempts? Gasp! How embarrassing. I MUST be crazy with all those words floating about.

Well, I’m not. I’m just a girl trying to get through life like every other person out there, as is anyone else with illnesses like these. I’m no longer on any form of medication or in any sort of therapy. I’m not saying I probably couldn’t still benefit from it, because I definitely was in no way cured. My happiness line is still a notch or two below “normal” peoples, and there are still peaks and valleys in it, but at least now I am aware of why. I’m not that 13 year old girl who is scared out of her mind thinking she is literally crazy because she can’t just be fucking happy like everyone else and who has no idea that there are other people just like her out there. Now when my line starts to dip into a valley I know that it’s probably just those damn neurotransmitters at it again, making me feel empty and tired, and sometimes hopeless, and I know that, eventually, the valley will pass and I’ll once again be back to that happy line. And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m okay with knowing there will be days where I just can’t get my head on straight and snap out of it, and that there will be times when scary or stressful or bad events happen and my brain intensifies them instead of letting me just deal with them. It doesn’t make me jump up and down with joy knowing this will likely be a constant battle, but I’m okay with it and prepared to keep on fighting. The only thing I’m still not really okay with are the times when I have to question my happiness. When I feel these bursts of joy, these “everything is so fucking amazing and perfect” feelings and I have to interrupt those feelings and ask myself, am I really just happy about something, or is this a manic time and there is soon a possibility of overwhelming sadness just lurking around the corner? It sucks having to question myself like that and not just letting a really happy day be a really happy day. But like I said, it’s a constant battle, and I will keep on fighting it.

It feels good being able to put all this into words. Many years of my life have been spent slapping on a happy face so no one would suspect I was anything other than happy. That I was different. I would guess that after all that practice, I’ve gotten pretty good at it too because I think there are many people in my life who have no idea I struggle with this. Although, I’m guessing all my family knows plenty of my mental health status since I did a brief stint in the psychiatric ward of a hospital a few months after my suicide attempt, but I’ve had friends and boyfriends who know nothing about it. At first it was mainly because I thought, God who wants to be around some chick who needed anti-psychotics?! But, I will admit, now I don’t discuss it with friends and potential suitors as much because, in the past, I’ve found that people who don’t have experience with these issues and aren’t sensitive to it tend to throw it back at me. “I don’t think you really need to be this upset, I think you’re just going all bipolar on me” said one boyfriend. No, asshat, it is not me going “all bipolar on you!” Any girl, regardless of her mental health status, is going to be royally PISSED when you miss her birthday! With future suitors, I think I will leave my past and current struggles with depression as something to only be discussed with someone I am having serious feelings for (although, I guess now that it’s out here on the internet they could probably just read all about it for themselves. But, if they are reading this blog, they also know of my mild obsession with Tom Hardy, and I would guess if they know that and still want to date me, they are probably already aware of my particular brand of crazy!). I don’t want men I’m just getting to know and casually dating thinking my mood swings (I hate calling them that because it just makes me sound like I’m having a bad case of PMS) will affect how I function in our relationship or treat them. Get to know me first and then let me tell you about my bouts with depression and be wowed that in fact, my ups and downs don’t have me acting all crazy on you or have my brain turning small fights into huge, life altering tragedies! My ups and downs are my ups and downs and I am indeed capable of working them out on my own and not taking them out on you! Yes, I may not always be a bubbly, shining version of myself, but you will have bad days too, and I will always be understanding of that and want nothing but the same in return.

Anywho, I’ve gotten a bit off topic here. Regardless of who knows what about me, what this post is really about is this – we all have our problems. Let’s try and cut each other some slack and stop participating in the many stigmas that are out there in terms of mental health disorders. Instead, let’s focus on educating people on them and be able to have open, non-shaming discussions about the different types of disorders plaguing large numbers of people in the world. The more it’s discussed, the more people will know they are not alone in this battle, and the less alone you are in a battle, the more likely you are to survive it.

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Boys of Summer

I love summer, that is no secret. I also love boys. Again, no secret. But what I really love are The Boys of Summer. Yes, baseball. I’ve always been that girl that likes sports. I like to watch them and I’ll even attempt to play them (poorly). But during my time here in Denver my relationship with sports, baseball specifically, grew. What was once a summer fling is now a full on love affair. Some people don’t get it. They find baseball to be slow and boring, like a person who tells the same ol’ tale over and over again. But not me. To me, baseball is deeper than just runs, outs and innings. It’s all about the strategy and the skill. And even if you can’t get into all that, it’s also all about the warm summer nights and cold beers and salty peanuts. And, even if you can’t get into THAT, it’s also about virile men in tight pants with big, thick…arms. Yes, there are just so many reasons I love baseball. It’s the only sport I can sit down and watch a game on TV when it’s people other than my teams playing. It’s the only sport whose All Star game I actually look forward to. It’s the only sport I follow in the off season. And it’s definitely the only sport whose post-season gets me excited, even when my teams aren’t involved (which, has been quite some time).

I guess if I had to narrow it down to five things that made the summer fling intensify to full on love affair, it would be this:

1. Walk Offs

There is nothing more exciting to me than when your team is down, it’s the 9th inning (or, even better, in extra innings) and just one great hit ends the game. The excitement the players have as they see that hit win the game is so pure, you would have to be Cruella De Vil not to smile and jump up in glee right along with them. The most amazing walk off I’ve seen was in a 2009 game, Rockies vs Giants. Rox are down in the 14th and Ryan Spilborghs, one of my all time favorites, knocks one out for a walk off grand slam. I still get a ridiculous smile anytime I watch the clip and see Spilly throw off his hat and sprint to home plate to his elated awaiting teammates (Google it, it’s great for a midday pick me up. Again, unless you are Cruella De Vil.)

2. Comebacks

Who doesn’t love an underdog? Your team is down, and down by a lot, but you just can’t give up because there’s always that hope that something amazing could happen to change it all. Well, picture being down 13-6 in the 5th. It happned on a 4th of July fireworks game in 2008. Most people didn’t leave because there were fireworks to be seen after the game, but regardless, I just couldn’t give up on my team that night. Over the rest of the game the Marlins keep scoring on us, but despite that 13-6 deficit, the Rockies never quit. And they score 12 runs over the next five innings to win the game 18-17. Now imagine the sold out crowd on their feet, delirious and in disbelief over the miracle they just witnessed. It’s quite the feeling.

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3. The Stadium

I’ve said it many times. Coors Field is my favorite place in Denver. I truly will miss it. I’m not sure what it is, but when I walk in there, no matter how I’m feeling, I just feel…better. I have yet to sit in a bad seat and I have yet to be in another stadium with more amazing sunsets. What I also enjoy about stadiums in general? Stadium food. Truly, I could live off of Helton burgers or Friar Franks Chili Dogs from Petco Park for the rest of my life and be happy. Fat, but happy.

4. Being The Visitor

This may be weird, but in thinking about a man I’d like to meet, I’d like to meet someone with as much enthusiasm for baseball as I have because, yes, it’s nice to share interests, but also because I’d love to have someone to go on road trips with to see my teams play at away games. Seeing the Rockies play in San Diego was one of the best games I’ve ever been too. Despite the loss that day, I had so much fun exploring the stadium, trying out the food it’s famous for, and going to bars around it pre-game. And, I can’t lie, I also love being a bit of an instigator. I gotta represent my team, so damn right I’m going to holler and yell when my boys are up to bat or make a sweet defensive play.

5. The MEN

Okay, you had to know this was coming. As it is now on record that I like manly men, I find that athletes (in general) fall directly into the manly-men category. They are these fierce competitors that push themselves physically and mentally to be at the top of their game. They get riled up and exude testosterone, and don’t even get me started on how exciting I find bench clearing brawls to be! I don’t mess around when it comes to my love of baseballers. Even in the workplace, where I keep my private life, likes, dislikes, etc, pretty close to the vest, almost everyone knows that I am full on in lurve with Troy Tulowitzki and may have even had a little day of mourning when he married a few years back. Le sigh.photobox

My heart does have two home teams since I grew up in KC, but secretly, the Rockies will always win out over the Royals, because it was through going to countless Rockies games over these last seven years that I really found my love of the game. Leaving behind my favorite team and Coors Field will be rough, I’ll probably even shed a tear or two at my last game on the 5th, but it’s nice to know I can always come back to a place I love and have these boys of summer waiting for me.

Update: Walk off win for the Rox today in extra innings. Yep, insert a shot of me hollerin at the gym as Torreabla got the winning hit.

 

Totally My Type

Last weekend I was being chatted up by a boy (and yes, boy is appropriate here – so young!). Said boy seems to have a bit of a thing for me (but again, so young!) and he really is quite a sweet boy, so I figured, why not? Well, in his attempts to chat me up he asked me what my type was. Say whaaaa? Youngin’, how do you expect me to answer this? By now dear readers it should be no surprise that my mind immediately jumps to:tumblr_m9hm1jrSaX1qhbk9ho1_r6_500

but how can I really provide this visual as answer? And furthermore, how is a gal supposed to answer this question when it’s being asked by someone who really isn’t her type? Honestly, I give the youngin’ credit, it’s a pretty ballsy topic to broach with someone you fancy, but don’t know well, because there’s always that chance you will in no way be anything remotely close to that person’s “type”. (Personally, I stopped asking this question when The Ex told me on our first official date that he liked redheads. After that, I learned my lesson. Never ask questions you aren’t ready to hear the answer to.) But, unlike The Ex, I decided to spare the youngin’s feelings and simply reply with a vague, “I guess I don’t really have one.”

FALSE.

I totally have a type.

Most of my friends will promptly tell you my type is “a Man”. Well duh, you might say. As a heterosexual woman, I would guess that your type is a man. No, not just a man. A capital M Man. I like the manly men. A little brutish, a tad domineering, a smidge rough around the edges. Maybe that is a little unfeminist to admit, but hey, who cares? I know it’s not everyone’s type, just mine! And I’m not saying I seek out cavemen who club and drag their women back to their caves. No, nothing that extreme. It’s just one of those things that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it (think a cross between Jax Teller on Sons of Anarchy and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice {or even Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones, for that matter}). Of course there’s also physical characteristics I would file under “Totally My Type” – tall, heavier build (seriously, please don’t be skinnier than me…), more rugged/manly; less metrosexual/groomed, slightly longer than average hair, BEARD (ultimate sign of said rugged, sexiness), etc., and there are of course non-physical items as well – intelligent, smart with money but not cheap, decisive, hard-working, handy, attentive but not obsessive, etc. After years of getting to know different types of people and dating we all tend to make these lists of what is our ideal type. I most definitely have mine. The funny thing is, I’ve just never dated my “type.” All my past relationships have been with completely different types of people; some well over a foot taller than me, one only two inches. Some well read and book smart, one only really street smart. Some with dark hair, one with blonde. Some with my love of music, one who’d never been to a concert. The only thing they all have in common is, when I really sit down and think about them, none of them really have that Man quality I can’t quite seem to put my finger on. Some much closer than others, but none of them really gave me the Man o’mans (my version of Carrie Bradshaw’s zsa zsa zsu’s).

In short, I guess what I told the youngin’ really is mostly true. I don’t really have a type. Sure, I’ve technically got an ideal man imagined that makes my heart go a’pitter-patter, but when it really gets down to it, those things on the “Totally My Type” list and my ideal man become less important as a real man and all his perfect and not-so-perfect traits become more important.

Movin’ On Up

Y’all…I’M MOVIN’ ON UP! Well, to be more accurate, I’m movin’ on East. I’m sure you’ve noticed that posts have been few and far between since the new year and the move is the reason. The idea to leave the great state of Colorado has been percolating in my brain for quite some time, but since it became a certainty it has pretty much taken over my life. The anxiety, fear, anticipation, and excitement of it has been all consuming, so writing about anything aside from this has seemed impossible. And not that I’ve really had a ton of spare minutes to consider writing at all. Lately it’s all work, planning, work, planning, work, planning – all day, every day. Since giving notice at work I’ve been going on overdrive to wrap things up there. And, of course, since this whole moving plan has come to fruition, aside from working I have done little else besides booking uhauls and movers, getting rid of unnecessary crap and, of course, look tirelessly at craigslist and stressing over finding a new place to live. As if apartment hunting weren’t hard enough – the current place always wanting 30 days notice even though new places aren’t usually posted until a week or two before availability – it’s about a million times more difficult when doing it from 600 miles away. Let me just spare you more details and say, it’s all been a ton of leisurely fun! (Typed boldly in my patented sarcasm font.)

Let me tell you what else is very (sarcastically) fun – people’s questions! As soon as I tell someone of my plans to move I get this: “Do you have a job lined up there?”

NO. No, no, NO. I know, I know, I have a pretty well paying, nicely benefited job here, so one would assume that I must have an even better paying position lined up to make me want to up and leave my job here. When I tell these people ‘no’ they pretty much meet my response with this:

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To which I meet that response with this:

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Yep. Insane. In our economic climate it is insanity to leave such a cushy job. I will be the first to admit I have always gone on record saying I would never leave one job, no matter how much I hated it (which, to be clear, I do not), without having another one lined up because being unemployed TERRIFIES me. But, sometimes terrifying things must be done, right? (No, seriously, right?! I’m still looking for assurance on this one!)

But, being unemployed isn’t the only thing that terrifies me. Here’s a little backstory… The last time I picked up and moved somewhere I ended up pretty miserable. I was 19, I was having a shit time with college, and pretty much life in general, and I needed “fresh start”. Unfortunately, I confused “fresh start” with “running away”. I thought a change of location would immediately mean a change of life. But, the location changed and my problems did not. I ended up continuing to have a shit time with college, met almost no one, because really who wasn’t to meet Misery Mary (which is totally who I was), and that new location? Yeah, it didn’t change any of my problems, probably because the only thing that could change them was me actually working on them. So, point being, even though I am in a completely different place (mentally) now, moving to a new place (physically) still frightens me. I still have those scary flashbacks of knowing next to no one and gaining about 15 pounds in four months from absolute boredom.

So why do it? Why go do something that feels terrifying in all these different ways?

Change.

I’ll be honest, when I first started thinking about leaving good ol’ CO it was mainly for running away reasons. The Ex had dumped me. Two of my very good friends had dumped me. My nice life here went through a very sudden, and very major, upheaval. Everyday on my way to work my bus would pass by The Ex’s street and I would be slapped with a huge wave of misery. I had to see these people and all the places we frequented on a daily basis and I hated it. I needed to move. I needed to leave these people and places and all would be well. Sounds a bit familiar, eh? Luckily, I am not 19 anymore. I have at least achieved some wisdom with my old age because I knew moving would not make this bad time any better. But, day after day, despite how good or bad I may have been feeling about life, I still had these thoughts that I really was ready for a change of locale. So, I made myself wait for a year. That gave me time to work through the shitty period I was in and ensure that a potential departure would be done for the right reasons, not the running away reasons. And lo and behold, a year passed, and I was still ready for change.

Now, I know most people flee from the Midwest to Colorado, and not the other way around, to get away from humidity and get to a beautiful, mountainous location where hiking and skiing and to all that mountain lifestyle has to offer, so this is probably another reason people give me a perplexed look when I tell I’m abandoning CO for the plains. Why Missouri, people keep asking? If you’re leaving this amazing place, why not make it for some place even more amazing? Well, I’m not saying MO was my only potential location, Austin was VERY high on my list of places to go (especially on a freezing cold day like today. Trust me, I’d love nothing more than to go some place where winter barely exists.), but MO still won out as the new location that will soon be blessed with my presence and the reason all boils down to a simple cliche – home is where the heart is. My heart has long left CO. Nothing against this beautiful state (although, God will I love living in a place where people aren’t obsessed with winter – skiing, snowmobiling, tubing, boarding, cross country’ing – any and everything having to do with snow) because there is much about CO I will miss. But, one thing MO has that CO does not is my family. Aside from my mom (and sister in Oregon), my family resides in MO. And, it must be said, I love my family. Being closer to them has always been a huge draw for heading back to the Heartland. Because there is one thing I know for sure, despite being terrified, I know that if it takes me a long time to find a new job, or the change does start feeling overwhelming and I catch myself gaining pizza pounds due to loneliness, I have this amazing group of people who will be there to pull the doughy, decadent deliciousness out of my hand  and keep me certain that this change is going to be a great change.