The Importance of Sharing Your Experiences

National Alliance on Mental Illnesss (NAMI) shared this on their Facebook page yesterday:

“Me telling my story today is a testament to the power of providing outlets like IOOV [NAMI In Our Own Voice], where people can feel safe putting words to their experiences when everyone else expects them to remain silent.” ~ Hakeem Rahim yesterday following testimony he provided to Congress. (Emphasis my own.)

“Everyone else expects them to remain silent” is a powerful way of putting it. Everyone deserves to feel safe when talking about mental illness.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy for me to talk about what I struggle with. It’s not. I’m not even suggesting you all start opening up to everyone about mental illness. I do think finding one or two people you can trust to talk to, who won’t judge you and who are empathetic, can make a world of difference.

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If you or someone you know is having a difficult time, I’ve gathered some resources from Tumblr. Or you can chat with someone live (and for free) right here.

As always, I love hearing your stories, especially if something I’ve said has helped you in any way. Feel free to contact me here. (Note: I am not always able to respond to email due to my schedule but I read and cherish every message I receive. It also should be said that I am a writer, not a therapist, so I cannot offer any professional opinions.)

 

Dreaming and Doing

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This is the kind of thing that drives me. Sometimes I just make a list and start doing cool shit. Why? Because I’m cool as fuck.

No, that’s a lie.

As anyone knows, I’m as shy and scared as the next person. I attempt to live bravely every single day but it’s tough. Even though I am in the middle of living my dreams, it takes courage to keep trying new things. Living your dreams doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid. It means you will sometimes do things afraid and sometimes do things terribly, but you will do them.

My advice to you is that you should do ALL THE THINGS! Life is too short not to live your dreams, or at least try to go for them. Hell, while you’re at it, bring some friends along.

I’m a dreamer. I’m constantly making a list of things I’ve always wanted to do. I was starting to hit a wall last year when I found that almost everything I’d ever dreamed of doing had been accomplished. So I had to make a new list.

Here’s my new list of Things I’ve Always Wanted to Do:

  1. Take another road trip to the mountains. Camp. Explore. Hike. Take photos. This time, on my own, or with a few friends.
  2. Write a novel. Or, more accurately, finish my novel.
  3. Publish said novel.
  4. Take an art class. I sketch and draw but have no formal training. I would love some!
  5. Take a class on screenwriting and film making.
  6. Write and produce a film.
  7. Take a class on boxing/fighting.
  8. Fight in a ring just once.
  9. Create something on YouTube.
  10. Give a TED talk about something meaningful.
  11. Renew my love of blogging and connecting with people around the world.
  12. Learn more about web development.
  13. Start and complete just one video game.

What’s on your list? Share it with me in the comments.

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Why Being Single Isn’t That Bad

A few weeks ago I decided to try Tinder. Tinder is the reason being single isn’t that bad.

tinder 1

The above screen shot is actually three different profiles put together. Upper left is a guy posing with a horse that’s LICKING him. In the face. #NotAFetishImInto Upper right is a guy who clearly takes too many steroids. Next. Bottom left is Garrett. Poor guy. He’s been scammed too many times. But don’t worry. He “nos about scammers now.”

tinder 2

This guy is just amazing. I mean, let’s be honest. This is a dude you could really bring home to mom and dad.

tinder dream guy

He’s high, but he’s my soul mate. And Fabio’s twin.

tinder speedo

Have speedo. Will travel.

When I showed my mom this one, she said, “So…you get the kid, too?” Built-in babies!

tinder wow

I “doesn’t” feel guilty about having sex, but I’m not really digging the abstract boobie art.

Still in Training

I’ve been training with the MMA crew just four times but my body is already stronger. This is the middle of my first full week of training. I didn’t make it through the first two weeks. I had to pace myself. But now, my progress is starting to show. My biceps are forming again and my quads are getting stronger. Each night after class I come home and can barely move. I can barely type right now. This is literally the Official Couch to MMA Training Program that I just trademarked right now.

The Day I Wanted To Fight

boxing

A few weeks ago, I started researching female boxers. I’d been a fan of the sport since I was a kid, thanks to my dad, but I didn’t know anything about the female athletes. Were there such a thing? What were their stories? Why did they decide to fight? I had this unexplained urge to know more.

I didn’t want to admit it to anyone, but I wanted to fight. It’d been a few years coming–this idea that I could get in the ring, even just for fun–but I dismissed it as instantly as it came up. I didn’t want anyone to know the real reason I wanted to be able to take someone down or the reasons I felt unsafe. Some things are better left unsaid, even for the exhibitionist writer that I am. Feeling as paranoid and anxious as I felt, I wasn’t able to talk about it. I felt like people wouldn’t take me seriously or they would dismiss it. Then there was the shame that went along with the amount of fear I felt, compounding things even further.

But beyond that, people who fight are angry, right? So what if I was angry. I’d been angry for years and accomplished a lot of badass fucking shit. I joked a lot about needing a punching bag. Fuck anyone who thought anger wasn’t the impetus for changing the world, because I’ve changed my world as a result from getting angry at the cult I was in. Even my therapist said I should get angry more often. I had a tendency to internalize my anger and wound up crying instead of speaking my mind and I was creeping back into that quickly. When people attacked me online and offline, I shrunk back into my turtle shell and hid.

And let’s not forget the fact that my depression and anxiety had gotten so bad I had isolated myself completely from friends and family. I was filled with fear when I so much as walked outside. I trusted nobody. I was paranoid. And you know the saying, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you”? It fit. There were documented situations where people were after me–and kept coming after me. Over the course of the few years I was struggling with this even more, I’d gained so much weight (more than I wanted to admit) and for a period of time I let that stop my social life entirely.

The fear that ruled my life prevented me from even imagining myself attending a boxing class, let alone actually hitting someone in a competition. There was no way I would be able to actually compete, with the way I felt, and I didn’t even think I would be brave enough to take a class.

And maybe I never will compete, but I started with a single class.  I found a local MMA/kickboxing class and signed up. It wasn’t strictly boxing like I imagined when I started dreaming this up, but MMA fighters learn and use a mixture of techniques from boxing, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (which is a martial art and combat sport focused on grappling (a term for fighting on the ground)). The sport is far more complex than I ever thought and it promotes the idea that a smaller, weaker person can actually defend herself against a bigger, stronger assailant with the right techniques. It actually fit my needs perfectly. I wanted to be able to defend myself if anyone bigger or stronger came after me.

My instructor had the look of a UFC fighter. He had tattoos, a shaved head, and the body of someone who trains for a living. I knew his class was going to be a good fit for me. It was his class or the class on the good side of town whose website’s video showed preppy cheerleader types kickboxing so they could look good in a two-piece this summer. Fuck that. To be a fighter, I had to train with a fighter.

After my first class, I couldn’t walk for two days. My lower back had me couch-ridden so badly that I was rotating ice and heat every twenty minutes and still couldn’t walk. I didn’t feel defeated, though. The endorphin high I had from my ability to push through a single class kept me happy for a few days. When I could finally get out of bed, I stretched for twenty minute intervals and went walking just enough to loosen up my muscles.

I was determined to go back for another ass kicking.

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I’ll be posting about my training in the upcoming weeks, so check back for more updates. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter

Since posting on Facebook about my MMA classes, a lot of people have become interested in the sport and want to know if it’s something they could do. My hope is you’ll try it. It’s a lot of fun. There are a variety of martial arts classes available in almost every city. The closest you will get to what I’m currently doing is mixed martial arts (MMA), kickboxing, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You could also check out judo or wrestling. If you try it out, let me know by using the hashtags #GetMMAStrong and #FightYourFear.

The Beginning of an Obsession With MMA

A few weeks ago I was on a boxing kick. I’m sure many of you noticed. I’d been wanting to try out a sport I could actually enjoy doing, and one that would make me feel stronger. I found a local kickboxing class (there weren’t any women’s boxing classes in my area) that also teaches MMA. I’m new to martial arts and fighting, so I didn’t really know the difference. I knew nothing about MMA and I’d never watched a UFC fight all the way through. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, to say the least.

Because I’m going to be blogging about it a lot, I’m going to give you all the run down. We can learn together.

First, here’s a look at my gym. The cool part? There are no treadmills or douche bags. The only bags around are punching bags, which this little kid is punching the shit out of. There’s also a martial arts class going on in the back of the gym. It’s in the seedy part of town, but it gives the whole experience a bit more character if you ask me.

fighting gym

What’s our class like? We spend 90 minutes running, doing push-ups, army crawls, squats, and essentially we’re dripping with sweat about 15 minutes in. About 30 minutes into class, I feel like I just showered. In my own sweat. To say the class is hard is an understatement. I’ve been easing into it–going once a week and letting my body recover for at least two days afterward. Stretching and walking or running when you’re not in class is essential. Otherwise, you can’t walk. Literally.

This week is the first week I’m trying to go the full four days. To be able to do this, that means I run on the weekends and sometimes in the morning. I stretch a lot, I eat a lot of protein, I take hot baths in Epsom salt, and I wear compression sleeves on my legs when I go to bed.

And I’ve only just begun.

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I won’t be doing Fitspiration on this blog, nor will I turn into one of “those people”; however, when I get into something, I’m all in. I’m sharing my training here because a few months ago I didn’t think I could even start jogging because I was at my largest weight and I want to track my progress here–mental and physical. I also know I’m not the only person in the world who has gotten out of shape and is intimidated to jump back into working out. If you want more #KickAsspiration, follow my Kickboxing/MMA Training board on Pinterest.

There’s No Easy Way to Get “Well”

A little more backstory on why I took an extended break from the blog:

J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger

I became a recluse. I’m not about to compare myself to J.D. Salinger, but I will say I understand him. If you don’t know, he’s the author of The Catcher in the Rye. As his book’s popularity grew, Salinger withdrew from the public. He published less new work and cut off contact with people.

I did the same thing. In an attempt to handle what was happening to my life–and maybe to escape the good things and the success–I thought it would be best to retreat somewhere where only a few people could contact me. I went to work every day but I was working in a large corporation where I didn’t know many people and most of them didn’t know I was a writer. I stopped talking to most people–old friends, new friends, online friends. I didn’t go outside much, that is until I adopted Olive. She forced me outside every day and now that it’s been several months, things are a lot better.

Even as I’m writing this, I honestly don’t know what is going on in my mind. Sometimes I feel “present” and other times, like I explained to a new friend, I feel like my mind visits two different, foreign zones. It’s almost like I hop back and forth between the two, unrelated spaces. Sometimes my mind is aware of where I am and sometimes time has passed and I have no recollection of what happened or what’s changed. It’s not always scary, but I wonder what I’m like to other people.

Imagine what I would be like if I wasn’t medicated. Or is it the medication complicating things? Even under my doctor’s care (and short term therapy), I don’t feel “better.” I don’t feel “normal.” I don’t relate to many people and I rarely feel “understood.” I have days where I can get up and work and be quite productive and I have other days where I feel sick. My “sick” days are when I’m moody or depressed. Sometimes I’m so moody I just push everyone away. The depressed state is a bit different. I usually feel like the whole world is against me, everyone hates me, and it would be better just not to exist. You can see how easily someone who struggles with feelings like this would make for a terrible blogger. After all, we’re supposed to ignore trolls and not let them affect us. No one is immune to hate.

Despite what I share here, I’ve done a damn good job at coping with my illness. But often, it gets to me. It gets to me even more because I work hard at trying to make myself well and trying to fit in. In a society where everyone’s goal is to appear like they have the perfect life, it’s hard to feel like a misfit because of my difference. Disorders of the mind aren’t something you can work at and make go away. You can’t pretend they don’t exist. Hell, you can’t even make them go away with expensive pharmaceuticals. You suffer through them. 

One of the reasons I said no to a few TV production companies last year (when asked to create a show based on my personality and work) was that there’s no easy answer to getting well and if part of my story is my “recovery”, then wouldn’t that make for bad TV? Everyone wants the quick answer. They want to be lied to. But the truth is, there’s no self-help book that will fix everything. Even with medication, we–those who struggle with certain illnesses–aren’t “fixed.”

Read Next: What It Feels Like to be Depressed

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything to say here. If you need the tl; dr version, anxiety + intellectual property preservation = brief respite from this blog. Not to mention that the blog (amazingly) became something I didn’t anticipate-a hub for real investigative journalism on cults and abusive religious groups. But let’s be honest. When I started, I was a published sex writer with a bad attitude who really just wanted to write about my every day life. And I’ve gotten away from that for a variety of reasons (see above). Some bloggers can handle the constant attention with grace; others freeze up.

I’ve debated whether to change the name of this blog and archive the old material or whether to start a new blog under a new (more anonymous) name. I’ve actually started two anonymous blogs, but they haven’t had the pull that these had. I wasn’t as passionate about them as I was this one.

Recently, a blogger I used to read changed her blog name. It didn’t change the direction of her blog all that much because she literally wrote about her daily life before that and didn’t go off on investigative journalism tangents. I’m not sure I could pull that off as easily, but I think I could. I’m mulling it around right now–having bought a new domain name and I’m working on plans. A lot of time and research goes into blogging. It’s not just like “Oh let me sit down and type on this keyboard thingie!” There are legitimate technical and business plans that operate behind the scenes.

As a writer (and here’s a protip for you newbies and up and comings), your number one job is to protect your intellectual property and ideas. Your number two job is to get yourself out there. Some people reverse those priorities, like I did when I began to blog. I was naive about the scope of what would go on and how far my blog would reach. I would say that’s an amazing problem to have and I have no regrets. My career has been a huge surprise and despite all the downsides to success, the upsides have been amazing. In fact, I think one of the perks was getting to a point where I achieved “gold status” (Reddit joke, sorry) and let myself take an extended break from working my damn ass off so much. My break still includes writing a novel, writing articles for publication, blogging, developing extended business plans, editing and consulting writing clients, and rewriting my memoir, BUT it’s a lot less work than what I was doing. Thank god.

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a lot of personal information online and I hope you know that you’re not just readers, you’re friends. Maybe one day, when I’m successful enough to go talk about being successful, I’ll share a bit more into what this past year has been like and why I made the decisions I made.

Until then, I hope to continue with regular updates until I figure out my next step and most of all, I hope to catch up with you all.

xoxo,

Lisa