Sadness Saturdays #5

I just finished watching the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I started crying when Dr. Hakopian finally got Rebecca to admit that she couldn’t be in a real relationship with Nathaniel because she wasn’t emotionally equipped. Actually, that’s not the part that made me cry. It was the part where Dr. Hakopian said that Rebecca deserved to be loved.

I’ve been struggling with that my entire life. I can blame most of it on my mean foster sister but both of my parents were messed up and both of their families are messed up so I didn’t really have a chance. Sometimes, I talk to people who say that they had happy childhoods, that they never experienced real stress until adulthood. They miss that feeling of being taken care of, that everything is okay. I never experienced that as a kid. I’ve barely experienced that as an adult.

Recently, I started posting anonymously on a message board, just throwing some dark shit out there, not really wanting a response, just needing to be able to express myself without worrying about how someone who knows me would react. I have gotten some responses that are nice, and some that have reinforced the idea that putting myself out there is a mistake.

I think one woman thought I was Harvey Weinstein. She called me a rapist and told me that she’d kidnapped a member of my family (Not MY family, his I guess?). I deleted all of her messages, and reported all of them and haven’t heard from her again.

I had one girl send 11 messages in 48 hours, insisting that I was her Latina lover, Tanya, and telling me I was cruel for ignoring her. I finally answered her back, to set her straight, and she emailed back, thanking me. Then, today, she emailed again and said that I was a liar and a monster and to not bother answering her because she was blocking me.

Sometimes I think I want to be a published author and sell millions of copies of my books and go on press tours and share my wisdom on life and writing and all of that stuff. But, I mean, maybe five people read the post that this girl responded to, and that was the response I got. I can’t imagine what kind of bullshit I’d be inundated with if a million people read my stuff and were moved to unleash all of their issues on me.

I already have a hard time letting anyone I LIKE or LOVE get to know me. Even though I know better, I’m still afraid that they’ll turn on me, change their minds, stop liking and loving me. How much worse would it be if a bunch of strangers and their various personality disorders got a hold of me?

I’m not shitting on people with those disorders, by the way, I have a fair share of my own, and my mom, who I miss like crazy, had a ton of them. But people get to take in what you put out there, read and interpret it any way they want to, and then attack you. Why would I sign up for that? Why HAVE I signed up for that?

People act like it’s so odd that authors become recluses, and I completely get it. Once you put a piece of yourself out there, people think that they own the whole thing. Every day that goes by, I wonder WHY I thought that being agoraphobic was unhealthy. More and more, it seems like the sanest thing I’ve ever done.

Sadness Saturdays #4

I’m not actually sad right now. Give it an hour though, lol. Sigh.

Let’s see, since I’m not sad, let me talk about some things I do when I’m sad to help myself feel better and some things I do to allow myself to feel bad and some things I do to help myself feel worse.

To Feel Better

  • Do anything creative. Write, draw, crochet, make jewelry, etc.
  • YouTube, Netflix, Hulu. I mean, this is daily life, but when I’m sad I specifically look for documentary-style things like Abstract or House of Z or Amazing Hotels. Things that showcase people doing impractical but amazing things. It shows the triumph of the human spirit better than any “feel good” movie where half of the cast dies.
  • Text Cheri. I don’t do this one a lot because when I’m sad I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I know that when I’m sad, if anyone can make me laugh, it’s her. I don’t even always say that I’m sad. I just check in and she takes it from there.

 

To Allow Sadness

  • Be honest when people ask me how I’m doing.
  • Hybernate. Turn off phone, ignore FB.
  • Let it be quiet. No music, no YouTube, just thinking while I’m writing or drawing or something.

 

To Feel Worse

  • Ignore texts and FB messages AND feel guilty about it.
  • Replay all of the stupid, embarrassing, mean things I’ve said or done in the past week, month, year, decade and mentally flagellate myself for them.
  • Watch murder-y things on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu.

I also sleep a lot, but that can actually be applied to any of these categories depending on what my purpose is. If I need the rest, it’s a good thing. If I’m just avoiding being awake or procrastinating, it makes me feel like even more of a waste.

I had a weird dream before I woke up. It was a jumble of frustration, humiliation, and defiance. But I feel better now. I only got a full body massage once, and I’ll probably never do it again. The guy actually stood on me. I think it’s odd to ask someone why they’re tense when you’re intentionally hurting them. Anyway, I was super relaxed afterward, but he also, like, hurt me. I was sore for days. But like, relaxed. So the dream was kind of like that — tensing up all of my emotional muscles so that when I woke up, I felt fine.

Anyway, I don’t think that any of these are bad methods for dealing with sadness. I mean, the last one sounds the most negative, but it does have that deep tissue effect where when I’m really mean to myself, eventually I get tired of beating up on myself and then stop. And then I start to feel better. I would LIKE to go my entire life without hating myself but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so it’s not my favorite coping mechanism, but sometimes it’s all I have left. If the bad thoughts won’t go away, feed them until they get the itis and fall asleep.

Sadness Saturdays #3

I have a cold. I took cold medication that a friend gave me the last time I was sick, and I guess it helped because even though I still had a drippy nose and such all day, it didn’t really catch up to me until a couple of hours ago.

I hate myself, but I don’t really want to talk about it. People don’t get it. They think I’m so nice and that I should love myself as much as they do. But if they were looking at me from the inside, out, they’d see how rotten I actually am.

And I know that’s not true. My genuine self, who I am when no one else is around, is still pretty nice, I mean, like, in my thoughts and stuff. I almost never wish anyone ill, I see the best in most people I meet, and I don’t even really want terrible things to happen to people I despise, even though I joke that I do, sometimes.

When I was 7-8, I had foster sister who was my official babysitter. Every day, after school, I would stand in the middle of her room (I slept there too, but it was Her Room.) and she would walk around me with a belt and make me list reasons she should hit me. I had to list 10 things, otherwise, it was an automatic 20 hits, but she would never let me stop at 10, so the game ended up being both pointless and demoralizing. Like, honestly, her anger and hatred were genuine, I could feel that. But she was also a cheater, and that I didn’t get. What can I say? Classic Libra.

I know that’s a terrible image, and you probably feel sorry for me or whatever, but that’s not why I’m sharing this. I’m sharing it so that you understand why I have such a hard time believing that I’m lovable. Oh, God, that sounds even worse. Stop feeling sorry for me.

I said, stop!

Whatever, feel however you need to. Moving on.

The point is, 80% of my social anxiety comes from the mental list that I’m constantly making when I’m interacting with someone. There are Very Few people that I can be around without making that list, and I have met all of them in the past few years — some of them in college, most of them at Flappers.

So although being accepted and loved is great, it’s new to me, and I still walk around feeling like a creep in super prickly, borrowed skin, most of the time. I have an especially hard time talking to people that I really like but that am afraid they’ll change their minds if they really get to know me. I try to limit my interactions with them. So that’s sad, I guess. Yay, I matched the theme.

Speaking of, I’m already thinking about changing the categories of this blog around. I realized that I have a day for social anxiety and a day for sadness and those are two negative emotions that are pretty closely related — and I remembered that I craft on Thursdays with my friends, and I constantly craft by myself, too, aside from drawing and writing. I knit, crochet, and make jewelry,  pretend candy, unicorn horns headbands, etc. So I think I’ll change one of the depressing blog days into a crafting blog day.  Stay tuned!

Sadness Saturday #2

It’s odd, this morning, I knew I’d be writing this blog post when I got home and I was certain that I was going to be writing with my neck still under God’s boot. I was talking to someone about this the other day: we always think that the situation we’re in now is going to last forever. Any time I feel sad, I know that I will never be okay again. And when I feel okay, even though I know that the darkness will come back, based on experience, it doesn’t feel true. It feels like maybe I won that last bout and it’s the last one I’ll ever have to fight.

I woke up this morning to a lunch invitation because I forgot to put my phone on Airplane Mode last night. I went back to bed immediately but not before having a panic attack about the idea of sitting across a table from a person that I like and want to get to know better. I ended up texting her back and telling her I was having a rough time. We texted back and forth a bit, and by the time we were done, I felt a little better, but still not anything close to okay.

I have a new intern and he wasn’t supposed to come in today but found himself at loose ends, and we had an amazing conversation, just about what life is supposed to be about and stuff. I felt almost okay after that. The intern I was supposed to train today never showed up (I JUST remembered that he wasn’t supposed to), so this other intern stuck around and ran the shows for me. I would usually go up to the office and do some work if I know the shows would run okay, but the lineups were packed so I stuck around to fail to run the shows on time, myself.

I had a second to talk to two of my coworkers about writing, while the second show was happening. Another came by and I named his rescue plant. At some point, a drunk chick came out of the Main Room show for a cigarette and I walked her down the street a bit so she could smoke. It wasn’t legal to smoke there but I didn’t think she’d made it safely across the street, so I just kept her company.

The shows went well. The room was full, the comics were happy, they all had great sets. My headliner was amazing. I even got to see my best friend — twice! There were a thousand little conversations and interactions that were good. It was a good night. I work at a comedy club, which you know if you a) know me or b) have read any of my other posts in this blog. I found Flappers a little over four years ago. I could write a book about the impact Flappers has had on my life (I am, actually. It’s a story about a girl and her best friend, a unicorn) but right now, I’ll just say that I spent the first 35 years of my life, essentially as a mute. I could say words, of course, but I so rarely expressed myself honestly.

Over the past four years, I’ve found my voice, figured out who I am (to some degree), the impact that I have on the people around me, and found so many reasons to live that it really pisses me off that I’m not allowed to kill myself when I feel suicidal. I used to think that I would get depressed because I hated my life, and that was partly true. But now, I have a really cool job, I love my bosses and coworkers, I love the comedians (like 90% of them), and still, some days, I can’t feel any of the good things.

Unfortunately, my depression is clinical and it seems to be here to stay. But now, I recognize it when it’s happening, and I have ways to deal with it. All week, all I’ve wanted to do is isolate myself, and today, I finally reached out and opened up to people and it helped. I think my last Sadness Saturday was about how hard it is to be honest about being depressed because of the reaction I invariably get. Talking about being sad can be even more upsetting when the very idea of it is rejected or disallowed. But today, nobody shut me down, and I was able to open up, not just about sad things, but about nice things. And I got people to open up to me, too. I got to know two of my coworkers better in one night than in the year-plus I’ve been working with them. Amazing.

Sadness Saturday #1

 

First, let’s address the question that everyone asks when I express any type of sadness: why? And the answer? Who the hell knows, really? Was it a tough day at work? Sure. Was it a great day at work? Sure. Yes. Every day is terrible and wonderful and that is what life is. So it doesn’t matter why. I’m sad a lot, there are smart and dumb reasons why. Why isn’t important.

Why is a question that only makes me sadder because it means that the person asking it thinks that there is a solution. If you are sad because a) then you can cure your sadness by doing b). No. No matter how hard I dream, I still wake up me and I have to be me all day and then I have to go to sleep and be me again tomorrow. And me is sad. Sometimes I think that sad is all that me is, ever has been, will ever be. Usually, I think that when I’m sad. I generally don’t think that when I’m not sad.

The second thing that bugs me when I say that I’m sad, and honestly, I don’t say it much anymore because I’m so tired of hearing: get over it. Move on. Oh, okay. Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Just don’t feel. Don’t have a natural reaction to pain. I could, and honestly, I’m tempted to, justify my pain, really lay it out there, tell you all of the terrible things that have ever been said or done to me, and if I did, you would give up. You would say something like, “Oh, wow, I didn’t know it was that bad.” And then you would go about your life, still thinking that I should get over it, except you wouldn’t say it out loud to me because you wouldn’t want the argument.

The WORST thing about being sad is when I have to argue it, justify it. Here is my why? Why? Why do I have to prove that I have a right to be sad? Why do I have to paint a picture so horrific that you’ll finally stop arguing with me? I didn’t ask me how I was, you did. My only crime was answering honestly.

Here are two things I do to combat my natural inclination to make sure that others are okay with my sadness:

    • I don’t answer why. I just say, “sometimes I feel sad” and that has to be enough for them because I’m not giving them anything else.
    • If someone gets upset that I’m not justifying my sadness, I get over it.

These suggestions sound snarky, but honestly, it kind of works.

Here’s something else I do: any time someone tells me that they’re overreacting to an upsetting event that happened to them, I tell them that they’re allowed to be sad, that sadness is a natural reaction to a sad event. I figure, if I allow other people to be sad, they will allow other people to be sad, and eventually, maybe we won’t all walk around expecting ourselves and everyone else to react to pain like sociopaths.

via GIPHY

Pay the sadness forward, everybody! Have a good weekend!

 

Blogging While Humaning

I’d love to have prepared something special for my first real blog post. I did a quick Google search and there were a lot of “not to-do” articles that I didn’t click on, but I did see one piece of advice that said, “share your expertise”. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m not an expert on anything but I am proficient in a lot of things:

  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • face blindness
  • Dan Fogelberg
  • writing
  • drawing
  • stand-up comedy

That’s seven things! So I’m going to dedicate one day of the week to each of these things and give the best tips I have for all of these subjects. If I become proficient at anything else,  I may have to change the format at some point, but we’ll start with these. Because this is my first official blog, I’m going to do the first week in one post and give a tip for each subject, so that you can judge from one post if I have any credibility on these subjects.

Minstrel Monday
Dan Fogelberg Fact: Dan Fogelberg had a boat named the Minstrel, therefore, Mondays have been nicknamed Minstrel Mondays!

Testy Tuesday
Okay, I couldn’t think of a word for anxiety that started with a “t” so we’re going with Testy Tuesdays. A tip for dealing with anxiety: Anxiety is about feeling out of control, so the best way to combat that is to pull your focus into what you can control, even if it’s something small. Write a one-page story (it doesn’t have to be good), draw a thing (it doesn’t have to be good), pick up your socks off the floor (leave the empty water bottles). If you’re focused on what you CAN do, you’re not focused on what you CAN’T control.

Writing Wednesday
This one was easy to name. This is something I did for my writing, recently:  I joined a Facebook writing group. It’s going well so far. Yes, there is the temptation to just play on the page instead of write. However, being able to see and talk to people for whom writing is also super important is very helpful.

Drawing Thursday
Yeah, I totally gave up on the alliteration for this one. A tip for drawing: start out crappy at it and get better by doing it crappily a lot. It’ll get gradually less crappy and before you know it, it’s actually kind of good.

Face-Blindness Friday
Again easy to name! Face blindness is called “prosopagnosia” and it is defined as, “Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces…Depending upon the degree of impairment, some people with prosopagnosia may only have difficulty recognizing a familiar face; others will be unable to discriminate between unknown faces, while still others may not even be able to distinguish a face as being different from an object.”* Tip for Dealing with a Face Blind Person: if you’ve met someone a few times and they still don’t recognize you, it may not be a lack of respect, it could be a neurological condition, so don’t get all butt hurt, just introduce yourself again.

Sadness Saturday
Ooh, my favorite! Honestly, I could make this every day, but what a bummer of a blog that would be. A tip for dealing with sadness: Google “I am sad” and see what pops up. Generally, it’s kittens. I like to Google my sadness away because it reminds me that it’s part of being human. Everyone deals with sadness, I am not a freak for feeling sad sometimes.

Stand-Up Sunday
The perfect follow-up to Sadness Saturday. I work at a comedy club, so I’ll probably spend Sundays reflecting on something I learned or saw that week, or a joke I heard, or something that pissed me off. This week, the Wednesday audition was really nice. We had like, four first timers (comedians new to the club) but in general, it was a low turnout, and mostly regulars. But before the audition, I asked David Dorward if he’d do one of my favorite bits. I requested one of my favorite Kimberly Clark bits from her, too, and then spent more time chatting with the few people who showed up than I usually do.

Usually, at auditions, the regulars get up and use it as an open mic with mixed results. But on Wednesday, David was one of our first regulars up, and he brought it. Kimberly did too, and so did all of our regulars. I think there were two things that happened yesterday: one, I showed an interest in the comics, rather than just checking them in, which made them feel special before they even got on stage. And second, even the comedians I didn’t chat with were jazzed and inspired by David and Kimberly and they all did their best, too.

David and Kimberly are two of my favorite comedians who drop by auditions regularly, and they always do well, but I think that going in knowing that they were not just watched but seen and heard, really helped. It COULD have backfired, and I won’t be doing that a lot, but my requests were spontaneous and genuine, and they responded to that. I think we all got to remind each other that we all love stand-up, which oddly enough, sometimes gets lost in the grinds and gears of comedy as a business.

* https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Prosopagnosia-Information-Page