Normally, at the beginning or ending of a new year, I like to do a little recap of that year.  This year, I have decided to spare my readers from reliving the angst.  Because this year is about getting better – Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually.  I have learned a lot this past year about the dangers of not taking care of yourself.  That path leads down the rabbit hole, my friends.  A place I do not wish to enter.  Again…

So, I would like to pass this bit of wisdom on to you because it was a hard lesson, but one that I will be better for.  Like when your parents ground you for something monumentally stupid that probably could have gotten you killed, or maimed, or stabbed by The Bloggess (Hi, Jenny!), but you just get pissed because they grounded you… even though you are pretty sure you actually died and they just didn’t find out about it.

The lesson that I learned is the link between physical and mental health.  Yep… who has two degrees in Psychology and STILL ended up having a nervous breakdown?  THIS girl.  That’s right.  You wish you were me.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Breakdown.  Suck fest, for sure.  I spent most of the year convinced that I had some kind of break-dancing tapeworm living in my gut.  I was also sure I had some rare form of cancer or something utterly horrible that they just hadn’t found.

But, the truth is this.  I was suffering from massive anxiety and depression.  Massive, I say.  Didn’t even know it.  Well, that isn’t true.  Anxiety seems to be a right of passage in my family.  Most of us have it in some form or fashion, and we tend to self-medicate – whether through drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or, my personal favorite, food.  It’s a dangerous cycle, as depression & anxiety breed nausea, and constant nausea breeds more depression and anxiety.  Like slowly flowing down the tornado of water in the bathtub drain.

But what I learned is this – You HAVE to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally first.  Most people go straight to the physical.  I did. I have had every test known to man, and two surgeries trying to figure this mess out.  But the truth is that I wasn’t happy.

I was told by a nurse at my treatment program that you do not get a diagnosis of mental illness without being highly intelligent.  Yeah, because the Stupids are too dumb to realize how bad things are going.  Sometimes I wish I were one of the Stupids.  I have always been a worrier.

People also say some really stupid things to you when they hear that you are anxious or depressed.  Here are some of the things me and my fellow classmates came up with:

  • It’s all in your head – Yep.  Because that is where my brain lives.  And my brain controls my body.  Idiot.  Yes, I have chosen this path.  Here’s the deal, buddy – If I can choose a super power… it isn’t the power to feel like shit all the time!  (My superpower would be to shoot the Stupids into space)
  • Just get a hobby – I have a hobby.  Lots of them.  Unfortunately, it is hard to focus on a hobby when real life is kicking your ass!  Just look at the boot prints on said ass!  Idiots.
  • Just suck it up – Fuck you.  Sorry… that is the best I can do for that one.  It does make me want to punch the speaker in the throat… or in the junk.  Either way.

And back to the loving place…

My psychiatrist told me that she wanted me to try yoga and meditation to help me get some quiet inside my head. You see, I have a lot on my mind.  I want to do and see and know everything, so my brain is always coming up with new and interesting things to think about.  Business to start, books to write, etc. The yoga has helped, though I am not sure ending every session with “Namaste, bitches” is quite what she had in mind.  You say potato…

So, I went to therapy.  I took my meds like a good girl.  I started to exercise like a bat out of hell.  I started eating a little better; avoiding foods that are known to cause more depression and anxiety (fried foods and cheese/dairy are on the top of the list – *mourns*).  And after a few days, I started to feel better.  I started to feel like I could be in control of my life.  So, I made a few decisions.

I picked up my camera and took some pictures.  They turned out amazing, and people bought them from me.  I have had a camera in my hand since I was about 3 years old, but it was always one of those things that people told me you can’t make a living at – so go get a “real” job.  I have been steadily building up my clientele and building a portfolio of family and friends.  And I like it.  For the first time in a few years… I remember what it is like to really enjoy what you are doing.  So… I think the future holds many bright things for me… and I don’t just mean flashbulbs!

So, my unsolicited advice for you is this – Find out what makes you really happy and then do that thing.  Take 2011 and make it the year you get all of your shit figured out.  Take a hard look at the things that aren’t working right in your life, and what you are doing (or not doing) to contribute to them.  When you listen to yourself, or God, or whomever you listen to (as long as it’s not your mom), follow the path of least resistance and it will take you where you ought to be.  I spent many years thinking that I had to fight the uphill battle to get ahead.  Turns out, I just took a wrong turn at Topeka…

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