Entry to a Dark Place

Many times, I feel like two separate people: the familiar failure and the capable stranger.

I see myself and my life thus far and find myself lacking.  Personally, I never finished college, I didn’t go into an ‘accepted’ career, I never settled down fully into the role of mother.  I have a published novella that feels like an unhappy accident.  Daily I wrestle with anxiety and depression; there is a general and long lasting sense of hopelessness.  What chance have I, my own familiar failure, of ever being good enough?  Of accomplishing something real and true?

On a weekly basis, I attend quite a bit of therapy.  Currently I’m in an IOP program again.  This is my third bout.  My capable stranger is the one who attends.  That woman learns the tools, knows that not only are there good things on the horizon, but also that she can and will deal with the bad.  She exists in my mind, but when I look in the mirror I can find no trace of her.

I know these two entities coexist within me.  I understand that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive, that, in fact, it’s impossible for them to be.  Whatever you are today, whoever you’ve been in the past, there is always still the hope of your future and what light will enfold you there.

Safe journeys, dear travellers.


You are not alone. 

Every day is a journey into who we are.  Who am I today?  What will I learn?  What can I do?  Self-efficacy on a path that feels so separate from those around us.  It feels as though I must be the only one struggling to take care of myself today.  As though everyone else can simply step through the day without having to try.  Yet I attend group therapy and every member there speaks of just how difficult it is to even do daily GRAPES.

Every moment matters because you exist within it.

GRAPES is a self-care scheduling tool.  Small steps for each day to help put priority on you, because you cannot give to others what you don’t have.

Gentle with self.  Something to be kind to yourself today.  This can be anything from drinking water, to an affirmation about yourself.

Relaxation.  An activity or action that you generally find relaxing.  I will occasionally pamper myself for this, or go out to watch koi swim around, read, write, simply enjoy a froofy coffee.

Accomplishment.  A task that can be completed today.  This doesn’t have to be something huge.  You don’t have to organize your entire closet or clean the house from top to bottom.  Perhaps it’s calling a doctor or making an appointment, or unloading the dishwasher.

Pleasure. An activity or action that you find pleasure in or have found pleasure in in the past.  Many times when anxious, depressed, or stressed out, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to actually enjoy things, even if they were once things that brought you pleasure. Doing these things when we cannot feel the joy nevertheless gives us the option to someday feel it again.

Exercise.  Physical activity, all experts agree, is a big part of taking care of self on a day to day basis.  This doesn’t have to be going to the gym for an hour, it can be parking further out when you go to the grocery store, or taking some time to do stretches.

Social.  Interaction with others can suck, especially when you don’t feel like trying, but there are studies somewhere that show just how important it is.  For some reason, reaching out to a friend, or going out and having a chat with someone really can make you feel better.  It might not be a whole lot, but even a little relief is still relief.

You are important.

Each day has hope, and you are worthy of that hope.  Step proudly on your path for you live.

Masking Tendencies

It’s curious to be an introvert and depressed.  I’m sure there are many who think these two simply go hand in hand with each other.  From my point of view, it does seem more likely for introverts to be depressed than extroverts, of course that’s certainly not how mental illnesses work.

I digress.

As an introvert, I get my energy, my.. motivational/action energy, one might say, from being alone.  It is often wearing to be out in public, surrounded by other people.  Better to say, it is always wearing to be out in public, and, for myself, it is often a trial as well.

At the same time, as someone who has moderate to severe depression, if I don’t go out, if I do simply stay home, my affliction swiftly amplifies.  I must go out to help balance my depression; I must be alone to re-charge.  Dichotomy.

For my mental health, I have become involved in a few groups so that every day I have a way to connect with others and, generally, the meetings max out at a few hours, thus [supposedly] providing the opportunity to also go home and recharge directly afterwards.

What I’ve noticed as of late is an increase in my general level of depression as well as a near constant weariness or fatigue.  It’s so frustrating to have these feelings again, to have so much hopelessness when I have both tools and skills to offset–or at least hold at bay–depression.

After several weeks, after the definitive increase of depression, after being unable to truly rest, after becoming more and more exhausted by each passing day, after talking around the edge of this with my therapist, finally it occurs to me that I have returned to wearing masks.

I’m trying to live up to expectations that other people most likely don’t even have for me.  I’m trying to focus only on helping others, of being optimistic for others, of trying to fix things for others.  I am hiding me beneath this need to make other people happy at the cost of my own peace and happiness.

I am hiding from the world.

I am hiding from myself.

Taste of the Disgustingly Familiar

The interesting thing about panic is the way you are physically incapable of thinking.  Friends will say, “Why don’t you just…..?”

On the surface, these suggestions are simple things.  Obvious, even.  When you want to go outside, you just… go outside, right?

When I am in crisis–as my therapy has termed such times–the simplicity of ‘go outside’ is broken into this overwhelming construct of shoulds, needs, have to, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment.  All of these negative things are focused inward, razor blades I’m using to cut up my self-esteem, motivation, drive, creativity, desire, hope, life.

Just do it.  It’s one simple thing.  Why can’t you do this one thing? You’re so useless.  Your friend could do this. Your sister did this just fine and she had six other terrible things going on at the same time. You’re lazy.  Stupid. Worthless. You can’t do anything right. You can’t even do anything at all. This is why no one likes you. You are unloveable. No one cares about you. You should just disappear. You deserve to die. You’re a waste of space, messing up everyone around you.

Each negative thought feeds upon the one before, and it feels so impossible to stop the avalanche, much less pull yourself to safety.

Biologically, you really can’t think.  When your anxiety kicks in, your body goes into fight or flight mode, all of your blood is rushing to the places to help your survive.  That’s your heart, your lungs, and the primal parts of your brain. Not your higher cognitive functions.

So when your friend says, “Just go outside”, you hear nothing but gibberish.  You know the words mean something, you know that it’s a simple fix, but you can’t get your mind to tell you what the first step is.  You can’t think to walk to the door, you can’t think to put your hand on the knob, to turn it.  You can’t even remember how to walk, how to take even that first step.

You are filled with guilt, with fear, with anger at yourself.  You don’t get angry at your friend for making it sound like it should be so easy… though you may want to.  You don’t get angry at the world that tells you how weak you are for not having it all together, for doing it wrong.  You don’t get angry at your family who have spent your whole life telling you to suck it up and pretend that you’re okay, don’t let others know how broken you are.

No.  You are angry at yourself, you hate yourself, because you see yourself as useless, worthless, powerless.

Travellers.  My dear friends.  You are not useless. Your purpose may not be something showy or obvious. Your existence touches those around you, even complete strangers.  I enjoy watching people and sometimes the very best part of my day is the way someone’s hair flows in the wind, or the smile on an unknown face, or the contemplative silence across the cafe.

You are not worthless.  You are beautiful and worthy.  You deserve love. You deserve joy. You deserve happiness, and smiles, and good things.  Nothing you do could remove the fact that you are a person.  No matter what you do, you do not deserve terrible things.  You did not deserve for that awful thing to happen to you.  You didn’t invite it. You didn’t cause it.

And you are not powerless.  There are many things out of your control.  That’s true of everyone.  You can make small changes.  And, no matter what anyone else says, you are in control of yourself.  Your mind. Your heart. Who you are.  Even if you cannot decide where you live, your job, what you eat, you own the power of who you are.

The path does not decide what sort of journey you are on.  Travellers, we choose what we will learn from each step.

The Question In My Sanity

As I spoke with my therapist this last week, I was suddenly confronted with a “Truth”.  This cannot, by my pointed use of quotations marks, be considered any sort of truth, capitalised or not.  At least not without some serious contemplation first.  And now that the last few sentences have been rife with C-words, I shall continue.

Last week I wrote of my struggle with whether I write towards profit or if I write towards meaning.  In my mind, these are exclusive to each other.  And yet I’ve been going to therapy for the better part of a year (two?) to learn the opposite of that.  The dialetic exists regardless; I should be willing to accept it.  Doubt the default, as it were.

In the fore of my mind, I know this dialetic to be true, that they can both be at once and in the same way.  Yet in my gut, it feels so false.  Part of this, I’m certain is simply training.  When you talk of being a writer, no one says that you can write meaningful things and sell it.  The message over and over again is that you either write trash to sell to the masses or you write what you want to write and hope to gather a niche (implied: very small) audience.

Yet the contemporary authors I admire have not fallen prey to this “Rule of Writing”.  John Green is, I feel, the perfect example of this.  He wrote meaningful books, that touched deep inside of his readers and has become a lovely success with these same stories.

As far as I can tell, I do not seek fame.  I do not seek riches untold. I suppose I seek recognition for my craft, but, more than that…  More than that… The works I most admire, the ones to which I aspire, are those that transported me.  They are esoteric and weird, they make just as much nonsense as sense.

I want to be seen for who and what I am, this peculiar creature characterised by fantastical ideas and ideals, and I want others to see that beautiful, hidden part of themselves reflected back to them.  Meaning within our own madnesses.

Traveller, validity is not defined merely by its clarity.  Each complicated knot within your breast creates another piece of your own beautiful puzzle.  Walk your path for it belongs solely to you.

I’m a Passenger In My Own Mind

I recently read an article about Higuchi Ichiyo.  To be all hipster and ironic, I would say that she was my spirit animal.  To be honest, I feel a strong kinship with her.

I have sold one novella thus far.  It is a piece that I’m proud of, a piece that stands as the proof that I can make it.  And yet.  And yet.

It is likely just human nature that any achievement is easily dismissed.  As we’ve been trained since childhood to prove our worth through what we do and how well we do it, we have to train ourselves to appreciate what we have done.

Though this is not so much a rejection of my previous achievement and more a discontentment with what I’ve been working on.  I don’t dislike the non-traditional romance.  I feel it’s important to normalize healthy interactions and behaviours within the genre.

No, this isn’t a question of genre at all.  I struggle constantly with the desire to write engaging stories, fun things and also this deep set need to write things with messages, things that matter.  Stories that speak deeply to the core of a person, that make you think and feel, and wonder.  I want to haunt my readers.  I want phrases, thoughts, characters, ideas to just pop into your mind and just mesmerize you over and over again.

I read a story quite a few years ago.  I don’t recall the name, the plot was good, but what really stuck with me was one particular scene involving children hiding.  To this day, the memory of that scene bothers me.  That is what I want to do to others.  I want that connection made to others, words that link me to you, each of you.  To every person who picks up one of my stories.

Desires, they run deep.

Reach for your stars, dear travelers.  May our paths cross often.

Glimmer of a Path Not Discovered

As each new word drips from my fingers, the uncertainty paints the world in gloom.  If you could see me, would you smile?    It is within that smile, that knowledge, that I exist.  I wish only to be with you.  I long for your knowledge of me, but I live only in the shadows.  Your light is what I crave, but it is your brilliance that hides me so effectively.


There’s never been a point in my life where I didn’t wax lyrical.  Many have called it drama, but, beneath the slow growth of child to woman, there has always beat the need to share the depths that exist beyond a mortal’s eyes.  We artists who crave, who must, open our souls to those around us are forced to understand the cruelty of the world in a profoundly harsh way.  We are taught to hide who we are, to hide what we do, to flinch away from our very natures in an effort to conform.  To be solid in the eyes of the world.


Not all of us are meant for that.  Not all of us can.  There are those, those of the blackest and whitest souls, that can only manage the barest facsimile of the world’s view of humanity.  They are known as dreamers, as the least of people, for their distraction from what is “important”.


We dance with the angels, mastermind with demons.  We see the world as others cannot and we are mocked for it.


And then there are you, dear travelers.  You who reach out for the worlds that exist beyond your ken.  You reach for us, teach us to hope again.  Without you, we could not find the strength to resist those tides of ‘normality’.


Thank you, my readers, those who have strayed onto my path for a stride, for a mile, forever.  Your visit is that which makes these paths real.

Optimistic: Another Word For Irritating

Hello, travellers.  How has your day been?  Could you share one good thing that’s happened to you today?  One thing to be happy about, or accomplished?  Some news that gave you even a hint of hope?

Quite a few years ago I had an acquaintance–whom I thought was a friend– tell me that my optimism made me annoying.  This has stayed with me for well over a decade now.  When I was in high school, a series of events ended with my speech and debate team having to sleep in our coach’s house.  The next morning, I was the one to call down the stairs to wake many of my fellows.  They responded with a very loud ‘Shut up!’

It’s so easy to judge someone in a single moment.  To lash out for something that is, in the grand scheme of things, meaningless.  Those are the moments that stay with us, though, aren’t they?

I am occasionally surprised by my own reaction to something ‘small’ that happens.  Until I remember events such as those.  It’s a strike at an old wound.  It is unpleasant.  Knowing why I’m reacting so strongly does not make it any easier to survive these moments.  Revisiting them does not remove the pain from the past.

There does live, however, the knowledge that this has happened.  It is happening.  It will happen again.  And despite what anyone may call me, no matter how they might react to my cheer, even knowing it is hated by some, I am who I am.  The things I want to change about myself have nothing to do with how others perceive me.

Go forward, dear travellers, on the journey of your choice.  May your path be smooth.


I have a problem with motivation.  I can often gear myself up to do something new, to start working on a new habit.  I stick tightly to it, to my schedule.  And things go well.  Until they don’t.

Should something interrupt my pattern– sickness, surprise event, abrupt schedule change– things go south immediately.  I may be able to push through another time or two, but, slowly, I lose all momentum and just….


It’s a frustrating aspect of how my mind works.  I am aware of it, I can see it, I can even see what needs to be done to overcome the hurdle.  And then I won’t.  I’ll think about it, tell myself all of the reasons why I should do it, and, yet, still not take that first step.

It’s something I spoke with my therapist about recently.  The first step he had me take was to make a list of all the reasons why I wanted to pick up the activity.  Why I Want to Start Yoga Today.  It wasn’t a hugely comprehensive list, perhaps six or seven reasons.  Some of them were more meaningful than others, but they were all my valid reasons.  The next step, he told me, was to write out the list and read over it twice a day.  Once in the morning, once in the evening.  He did not tell me to guilt myself into starting that day.  Just read the list, twice a day, for one week.

It was an utterly surprising thought for me.  I am of the type that throws myself into a new project, utterly and completely.  Even knowing that it’s not the best way to get self motivated to do things, that’s still how I went about things.

It has been one week and I have started up yoga again.  Nothing too intense, and with a lot of grace towards self.  I don’t have to finish a whole work out.  Just starting up the app and doing a few minutes.  It’s been a relief in many ways.  One because I know that I am again working on something that helps me in the long term, but, also, having permission to not do it perfectly.

You don’t need to be perfect, dear travellers.  Continue on your journey, one step, and then another.  We search for movement, and that is attainable.

Waiting For the Ocean

Religion is a very interesting thing.  It seems that no matter where one is in relation to belief systems or not, the opinions are always quite strong.  A personal understanding of the world, the universe, existence… It is an immensely vital thing.

Each flavour of the world is unique.  Your particular blend is a kiss of your personality, the touch of your experiences, tempered by your mind and reasoning.  Together we make a place of infinite possibilities and comparisons.

As with any blend, it’s possible for any flavour to overpower the others.  The sour, the bitter, the sweet, the soothing.  It takes all of us to make the essence of the world.  Religion could be useful in that so many of them are dedicated to making the world a better place.  And yet, the taste of the world currently seems brittle and harsh.

Perhaps we can begin to reach out more with our own particular brand of uniqueness and begin to spread a new flavour around the world.  And then, dear travellers, perhaps our world, our existences, will bring an age that tastes of peace and joy.