Conversations with My Future-Self

Things have been really up in the air lately, you guys. And by that I mean, no they’re not actually up in the air at all.

But my perception is that everything is an absolute shambles and the world is ending today. Right now. Start Prayin’.

This morning, I started writing this list looking for “Pros” but ended up landing on mostly “Cons”:

  • I switched to a Sat-Mon 30 hr/wk nanny job that pays only a tiny bit less than my last 5 day/50 hr job:
    • Faced with the 20 hours of “extra time”, I’m lacking motivation to do anything with it. Writing is harder now that the added pressure of “producing all the time” is now placed on my shoulders (placed by me and only me, mind you). YOU HAVE EXTRA TIME WHY ARE YOU WASTING IT WITH SPENDING HOURS LAMENTING THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME BUT YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING OF WORTH BECAUSE YOU’RE BUSY WORRYING ABOUT PUTTING OUT QUALITY WORK BECAUSE YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME NOW–ad finitum,
    • Now all of my friends seem to want to get together on the weekends when before I felt like I was at home twiddling my thumbs and I miss them,
    • I’m open to audition on weekdays, but without an agent, landing legit auditions is pretty hard. Most of the accessible breakdowns are for “sex kittens”, “VERY attractive women” (emphasis always placed on the “very”), “women ok with partial nudity” (hah!), or…you know… “sexy, tall women in general”,
  • So much is riding on–

“Wait,” I gently commanded myself.

“Go back into the annals of this blog and find this post where things WERE actually a shamble-y mess.

So I did just that.

And holy crap.

Last November, I was not in a good place in any way, shape, or form. My life was consumed by a job that I wasn’t enjoying and was taking up too much of my time. I was, admittedly, in the throes of a fairly relentless bout of depression. I was trying so hard to pursue writing and acting but was coming up short because of my exhaustion and time constraints.

The end of that post challenged me to try looking at my situation another way:

“You’re going to go home, blog, eat some tortilla chips, sleep, and pray that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that makes all of the bullshit worth it. Because you don’t hate the city, you hate your circumstances and it’s up to you to change them.”

At the moment of writing that post, I realized that I was in control (at least a little bit). I could figure out a way to transition to a day job that allowed more freedom to pursue my creative career. It was as if my “Future-Self” had popped in through my writing to let me know that, as much as I felt I was dealt a crappy hand, I still had cards to work with.

Flash forward to this week and a conversation with my friend, Marina. “Remember back when you thought finding and securing weekend work was absolutely impossible? And now you’ve done it! That’s huge.”

I have done it and honestly, that is huge. I set a goal. The stars were aligned and a job just so happened to pop up.

This is all to say that I need to constantly keep in mind that this isn’t going to happen overnight. That slow and steady wins the race. That Rome wasn’t built in a day. That the ball is in my court.  That idioms are God’s Love Language to us. Wait…what?

And even though I don’t this I’m currently using my allotted time to its fullest potential, I recently took that leap of faith and it certainly paid off. I need to do less griping and more leaping.

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Syncope in a Subway Sandwich Shop OR Panic by the Pickles–Part 2

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

Ahem:

My heartbeat was moving so rapidly that I felt like I had just sprinted around a high school track. I broke out into a cold sweat that began to pool in my lower back.

I knew I was going down.

As I stood there, fully realizing that I was going to pass out, I took out my phone and texted my good friend Marina (who I have known for well over 14 years), “I’m having a panic attack in a Subway”.

Yep, instead of getting out of line to sit down and collect myself, I texted my friend that lives thousands of miles away.

She then texted me back multiple pictures of cute puppies doing cute things because under normal circumstances, those would’ve helped. She wasn’t completely aware that my panic attack included losing consciousness in a fast food joint.

I asked the person behind the counter arranging my sandwich if I could have a cup for water.

“Oh, you’ll get that at the register.”

I asked again, I’m not sure what tone I used because my memory of that particular moment is a bit foggy. She gave me a look, handed me the cup, and I stepped out of line.

I shakily filled the cup and could’ve sworn that my legs had been replaced by two stout columns of wobbly jello.

I sat at a table for two, leaned back against the wall, and tried to stop the room from spinning. I couldn’t hear anything–the sound was too muffled–and all I could manage to tell myself was “Don’t you dare pass out in a Subway. Don’t do it. They’ll call an ambulance, they’ll make a big deal of it. All of your friends are at work, you can’t do that alone. Get back to your apartment.”

Thinking back on it, leaving the Subway probably wasn’t the best plan. Didn’t matter, though, I couldn’t get up out of the chair without feeling like I was going to fall over.

Every time I started to gain clarity, I would gently remind myself, “YOU’RE GOING TO PASS OUT, YOU’RE GOING TO PASS OUT!” and then start to lose it all over again.

As I surveyed the people sitting around me–or, really, made sure no one was calling an ambulance, I noticed something strikingly odd.

No one was noticing.

Or if they did, they averted their attention.

I was no longer in the South where a simple sneeze merits a thousand bless you’s and everyone’s face shows concern for what probably is just allergies.

Here I am, a young female, not well dressed but certainly not slovenly, acting erratically. No one offered a second glance or even asked if I was ok. In fact, one of the girls at the register had another customer approach me and ask if I was ready to pay. While my head was in my hands and I squinted at the poor teenaged messenger, I wondered what the cashier’s deal was. I was obviously in distress and instead of offering assistance, she is asking me for my money. Later, my friend Blake would remind me that, “this is LA. They probably see crazy stuff everyday.”

Truth.

After what felt like an eternity later, my vision had come back (just barely) and I noticed that I had yet to black out. I stood up, gathered my belongings, and hobbled out of the store. I called Marina on the phone and she graciously accompanied me via telephone for the walk–where I again reminded myself that I was having a panic attack and started to drift off.

Marina asked nervously, “Are you walking down the actual street or are you…”

“I’m on the sidewalk.”

“Good!”

I couldn’t talk much, on account of the fact that talking apparently takes a lot of energy when you don’t have total control over your faculties, so I tried to listen to her tell me a wonderful story about a hot young Brazilian in her office.

That girl knows how to keep me focused.

I returned to my apartment, hung up the phone, and quickly took off my clothes (something I never do besides when I’m in the shower because I get anxious thinking about being naked during an earthquake and having the Rescue Team find me in my birthday suit). [Sorry if you’re getting undesired mental imagery. It comes with the story].

“Ok. Pass out,” I commanded myself.

Nope.

Nada.

Nothing.

It figures. When I’m at a location where it’s completely safe and acceptable to faint, my body tells me it’s done holding itself hostage and I’m free to do as I please.

I recovered not too long afterwards, showered, and continued on with my day as if I hadn’t just scared the living daylights out of myself.

I’d never had an anxiety attack that had physically disabled me as much as this instance–I usually just end up curled in a ball, sobbing, and fall asleep. That’s the best case scenario, you guys. 

Before I could even begin to feel sorry for myself, I thought about people that had it way worse than me–people who have had to be hospitalized just so they could cope with the unimaginable weight placed on their shoulders by their disorder.

And the worst part is thinking that so many people out there don’t have supportive friends and family that help them get through. I think that a lot of the stigma that comes with having a mental illness is that people just don’t understand. They can’t see your injury and they don’t often get that you can’t just “snap out of it”. There is something in your brain that keeps you from functioning at a normal level.

Here is the answer that most friends of loved ones with these sorts of issues needs to know. The best thing a friend can do in that situation is just say “I’m here, how can I help you?”. That’s it. Just let them know that you’re there and don’t judge them. 

I’d love to hear how you have supported a friend with a mental disorder–or if you are the one living with this raw deal, I’d love to hear how your support system has helped you. Leave your story in the comments!

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To the Moon! A Look at My Soul Sista

Today’s Daily Post Challenge: Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

My immediate reaction was TO THE MOON.

No, you didn’t misread that, I’m talking about the large celestial body that happens to be orbiting our humble planet. I wouldn’t go alone, though, because I’d take my “Soul Sista”, Linder Lue Lawrence, but commonly known by the folks at home as Hollywood–because she wants to be a movie star.

The Essence of Hollywood | Photo Credit: Hollywood's Facebook Page

The Essence of Hollywood | Photo Credit: Hollywood’s Facebook Page

I first met Hollywood when I was in high school, over a decade ago, and I have to admit that her personality was at first intimidating and off-putting. I didn’t immediately grasp that Hollywood was living with a cognitive disability because I’d never met anyone living life that way before and, of course, her outward appearance gives no indication of what’s swirling around in that beautiful brain of hers. She greets strangers with the force of a bull in a china shop–but that force is nothing but sheer joy and energy at having met someone new.

Then I found out we had the same dream:

“Hi! I’m Hollywood! I’m gonna be in the New York Times! I’m gonna be famous! I’m goin’ to Hollywood” was the first thing she ever said to me. She’s already famous in her own right, a true hometown heroine with countless articles written about her amazing story (check a handful out here, here, and here).

“TO THE MOON!” also happens to be one of her catchphrases.

Me and My Soul Sista | Photo Credit Marie S.

Me and my Soul Sista, Hollywood  | Photo Credit: Marie S.

She’s 56 years young and has the spirit of a much younger person. As a young child, she suffered abuse from her family but doesn’t bash her relatives, like she has every right to. She only really ever says, “I don’t talk to them–they are mean”. She has since inherited a gigantic network of family through living in our hometown for so long and Hope House, an organization that lets her live independently while having some really awesome Guardian Angels watch over her–making sure she’s doing alright. She’s also an artist, a hometown YouTube sensation, funny,  and an all-around happy person.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll gain Soul Sista status, which means you’re bonded for life (you can’t be a jealous person, though, ’cause Hollywood has a ton of them–naturally).

When I told Hollywood I was moving from the VA to California, she immediately said, “Imma miss you! I want to go with you to Hollywood!”

“But everyone here will miss you so much,” I responded, “they’ll all cry that you’re gone”.

Hollywood paused for a moment. Then magnanimously blurted, “Let them cry!”

Every time I see the Hollywood sign now, which is every single day of my new Los Angeles life,  I think of her and how much I wish she had the resources to pick up and live her dream of becoming a movie star.

If I ever get lucky enough to hit it big, I’ll try my darndest to get her in front of a big movie camera–and then we’ll take our bags of gold and be the first actresses to take a trip TO THE MOON!

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