I guess you could say I’ve had what they call writer’s block lately. This whole writing thing is harder than it seems sometimes, there are times that I can’t seem to remember how to put words together to form sentences. I don’t know if it’s because as I type this it’s World Mental Health Day and I’ve been reading every story under the sun, including Chrissy Teigan’s Glamour essay- two years later- but I’m writing. Finally.
My first recollection of having anxiety was in kindergarten. Every morning, without fail, there would be a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach. I was sick with worry over being late, despite the fact that my mom always made sure I was walking through the doors before the tardy bell. (Or whatever the kindergarten equivalent of a bell is) I also had- and still have- a particular disdain for change, so you can imagine the horror that going to school seven hours a day for the first time put me through. My parents did the best they could in trying to calm me, but as I was known for having a flair for the dramatics (I was a theater kid, cut me some slack) they didn’t think anything of it.
I don’t blame them, because neither did I. How could I? I didn’t know that not everyone worried about every little thing. So I pushed on, the anxiety that I didn’t know was anxiety more of an annoyance than anything. I was as fine as a kid who never stopped thinking or worrying could be, and I excelled in the best way I knew how. I always made sure my grades were up, (Minus math. We don’t talk about math here) I did theater, I made friends. But the little knot in my stomach was always there, just waiting for my brain to give it a reason to twist itself through. I made friends, yes. But I never really felt like I was ~one~ of them. I did the normal kid things, went to sleepovers where we ate junk food and watched movies- the stuff of Lizzie McGuire dreams! But on multiple occasions I ended up calling my mom to pick me up (on a landline!) before the night was through because I just couldn’t bear to have fun. I just wanted to go home.
In my formative teen years, this translated to me not doing much of anything outside of school. I can’t count the amount of things I’ve missed out on over the years: cast parties, youth group trips, social experiences that could’ve helped shape me. Instead, the lack of connection made me feel hollow but I couldn’t bring myself to change things. It was during this time in which I was officially diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and I could finally put a name to the things I was feeling. I got on medication, and things got pretty good!
Until they weren’t. All hell broke loose the summer before my senior year of high school and I got my first bout of situational depression. It was bad. Though I’d dealt with anxiety for years, I had never experienced a panic attack before that summer. It was the beginning of what I now affectionately call my ~dark time~. And then when the smoke cleared and everything was better and the situational depression should’ve faded, it didn’t. It hung on for dear life, following me to college and watching my every move, along with a myriad of other issues. And the anxiety was worse than ever. At some point during my sophomore year, I couldn’t take it anymore. I moved back home, leaving Friday night tailgates and my friends behind for therapy and Friday nights spent at home, alone. I am a textbook introvert, gathering energy from my sacred alone time. Unfortunately, when you struggle with mental illness a night in can turn into two and then four and suddenly it’s been a week and you haven’t returned any messages or spoken to your friends or seen the light the day, which is something I still have to force myself to fight. Anyway, the first couple years of this switch off felt unproductive, like nothing was changing.
Thankfully, after three more years things have definitely changed. My ~dark time~ has long since passed. But there are always the bad days, and the bad weeks. Months even. Accepting the fact that I’ll have to deal with my anxiety on some level for the rest of my life has taken me years to do. Sometimes I feel I’m still not there. There’s guilt and resentment and anger but in those times I remind myself of the support system and how privileged I am in that way.
I suppose by now you’re wondering why I’ve spent this entire essay having a one woman show and I guess I have been, haven’t I? Call me the Mrs. Maisel of writing. I guess I just wanted to write this as an open letter because writing is cathartic and though humor is my normal coping mechanism, sometimes I feel like we should really be talking about it.
In the intro of one of her cookbooks, Chrissy Teigan (maybe I just wrote this to talk about how obsessed with Chrissy Teigan I am) writes about how in the thick of her postpartum depression, she ended up sleeping on the couch so often that she started keeping her robes in the kitchen so she wouldn’t have to go upstairs. And she writes that John slept on the couch with her every. single. night. I think that’s what we’re all looking for. Someone who will sleep on the couch with us, metaphorically speaking. Or literally. That helps too.
“A celebration of love, in all its complexity, coziness, and chaos.” This is how Taylor Swift describes Lover, an album defined by synth-pop beats and dazzling melodies. It’s a remarkable departure from the darker vibe of Reputation, and it’s uniquely her own, quite literally- this is the first album that’s fully hers after the infamous masters buy out.
From the opening lines of the first track, it’s evident she’s taking back the narrative, much like the Reputation era. Only this time she’s letting go of the past, declaring in a synth pop melody that “I forgot that you existed.”
She goes into the rest of the album with this same sentiment, one of ~This is our love & no one can touch us.~ If reputation was a thunderstorm, Lover is the rainbow that comes the next morning, the fresh air a reminder that it’s okay.
I see elements of each of her previous albums in this work; the production of 1989, the lyricism of Red, the innocence & hope of Fearless, the magic of Speak Now, the strength of Reputation and the softness of her debut, where everything is new.
It’s a work full of new favorites with each listen, wrapping you up in the feeling of the background of a ‘90s rom com and the synth beats of the ‘80s with each track. It is, quite possibly, the synth pop album of our dreams, and I still haven’t quite found all the words for it.
What I do know? The commentaries are telling us this is her best, and they’ve gotten it right. She got it right.
Image Via Rolling Stone
I look at my cousin’s girls and pray they never hate their bodies. I watch them in a wonderment that mirrors their own, a twinge of nostalgia hanging on for dear life.
‘I was like that once,’ I think to myself. And then I pray.
I pray that they never stand on a scale in desperation, hoping the number is a different one than yesterday, because when the majority of girls wish their bodies looked differently it’s something you think about. You think about the pain and the punishment you put your body through in the name of beauty, and for what? The people who matter don’t care in the end. You don’t care in the end.
I pray that they never know the kind of heartache that can’t be fixed with ice cream and a rom-com, because that kind breaks you into pieces you didn’t know existed and you think about how many times you screamed for help and no one could hear you. No one deserves that in the end.
I pray that they never feel they have to shrink themselves smaller for a man, because a powerful woman is too much, intimidating, and a powerful man is just powerful and you think about how much you’ve had to fight for yourself, for every woman. It isn’t a fair fight in the end.
None of it is fair. Why does it feel inevitable?
I look at them and I pray they never hate their bodies.
Image via WeHeartIt
The melody fades in, synth-pop beat pulsing through the speakers like a heartbeat. (Taylor Swift always knows the way to my heart) “All of my heroes die all alone, help me hold onto you” she sings with a rawness that cuts you to your core. Leave it to a song wrapped up in pretty pop to make you feel everything you’ve ever felt topped with a sense of nostalgia (my favorite word recently) that you can’t quite explain.
It’s a heartbreakingly accurate description of anxiety in both relationships and in life. The sentiment of “Who could ever leave me darlin’, but who could stay?” is almost certainly universal, self deprecation and doubt plaguing our minds like some sort of flesh-eating monster out of a horror film. The realization that we are human comes with the powerful notion that we screw up. Sometimes we’re the toxic one that every self care article tells you to cut out of your life, no questions asked. Sometimes we do the hurting rather than getting hurt. Sometimes we say things we regret.
And then we grow and learn from our mistakes and the less-than-pretty attitudes and the messy heartaches. But we still question. What if it’s me? What if something’s wrong with me?
And then there’s the pain we’re on the receiving end of. The kind that cuts you like a knife and knocks the breath out of you. Why aren’t I good enough? What if something’s wrong with me? The questioning and doubt gnaw at you and you suddenly wonder if it’s still you after all.
I think the complexity of letting love into our lives- no matter the kind- is something we don’t know what to do with. It’s a mess of vulnerability and fear and sheer happiness whilst secretly wondering when it’s all going to end, when the other shoe will drop. When we can recognize this is when we can truly grow.
It’s when you recognize this that you will come to terms with the fact that some people will leave. Some will run out of your life without a second glance, and you have to pick the pieces of yourself off the ground and move on. Find the ones that you know will hold onto you, no matter your dark side. You’ll let healing in in place of the self doubt, and you’ll find it’s so much brighter on the other side.
From the moment my feet hit the floor each morning I feel it tugging at my barely conscious mind, ready to attack at a moment’s notice. I try to block it out, fight it, curling my lashes and fixing my hair just so and getting on with my day.
See, anxiety is invisible, a silent monster that feeds on every movement you make and every insecurity you didn’t even know you had. It second guesses and humiliates and exhausts. The littlest thing can set it off and I’m overthinking the way I said hello to this person and do they actually like me and remember that time three years ago someone said this to me and WHY CAN’T I STOP THINKING?
Even on my very best days when I feel most content and happy and alive it’s there, waiting to attack again. Like an ex calling you just when you’ve moved on. I can’t make it stop & my chest is tight & my legs feel like they’ll give out at any moment. Like I’ll give out.
I feel defeated and a sense of guilt I can’t explain. I apologize to God, I’m sorry my brain won’t let me stop worrying. Why doesn’t it stop?
I don’t think it will. I think I just have to curl my lashes and get on with my day, with my life.
It’s late evening on a blazing July day and after hours, days of yelling at myself to ‘just write!’ here I am, writing. I’ve always been a writer. I used to only call myself one in my head, instead unsurely saying ‘I mean, I write…. sometimes’ when a stranger making small talk or a teacher playing those get to know you games with the class asked what I did in my spare time.
But I recently read a quote by some historical figure that I’m sure I’m disgracing by forgetting their name and it goes something like: If you write, you’re a writer. And I’m taking that quote to heart. I bought a writer’s notebook and everything! I pour over my favorite writers’ blogs late into the night (this one, this one, and this one) searching for inspiration. Not too long ago my best friend encouraged me to revisit this part of my life and pursue it with the passion I once had that slowly dimmed somewhere along the way. And so now I’m pitching (!!!) and finding any time I can to write. You know, when I’m not thinking about doing it.
So there it is, kids. I’m going old school MySpace era (my parents never let me have one so I have to compensate somehow) and writing it all down here. Since I re-branded my other blog (which you should definitely read) to just style, I’ve been longing for a place to get all my thoughts out. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about fashion. It’s in my blood. In fact, my freelance ~genre~ is fashion. But humans aren’t one dimensional and neither are our thoughts.
Sometimes I want a place to put up a think piece on the state of humanity (because Facebook isn’t always the best place for politics, no matter how easy it is to pick a fight with Aunt Sally) or to just vent/ rave about the latest Grey’s episode. (Mere can’t really be fired, can she??) A thousand people may read what I fervently type or maybe only three people will. The point is that I’m getting it out. Just call me Carrie B.
I couldn’t help but wonder…