The above photo is from Yayoi Kasuma’s exhibit Infinity Mirrors and the painting I’m standing in front of is “I Who Have Taken an Anti-Depressant”. At the end of the Infinity Mirrors exhibition, before entering the obliteration room (the room with all the colorful polka dot stickers) there were several canvas pieces with titles and symbols that acted as tells to how Kusama views and lives with her own mind and mental health. Today is the last day of Mental Health Awareness month, and I wasn’t even really intending on creating a piece about my own personal mental health, but today I have a little extra time and wanted to share how I live with depression.
I have Dysthymia, or in the simple to understand terms, persistent depressive disorder. It’s fairly common affecting around 3 million people in US (thank you Google) but is less common than major depressive disorder, which effects around 16 million people in the US and is what most people tend to associate or understand as depression. A person with persistent depressive disorder, like myself, can experience major depression, which is then called double depression – how fun is that. But when you have persistent depressive disorder, it means you’ve been in a state of depression for two or more years, and there are moments of it when it’s alleviated but basically, you don’t go more than two months without depression (thank you MayoClinic)
Now, I can continue to explain this all like a medical book, or I can just explain what it’s like for me to live with it. I’ve had it since I was a kid, I’ve always connected more to Grumpy Bear and Oscar the Grouch. My negative self-talk was hardwired into my brain, I came out of the womb skeptical about myself and the world I grew up in didn’t necessarily make it easy to silence those voices. So, I just have always had this stormy little rain cloud following me around. But what do rainclouds bring? Rainbows. So, I was also like a super fun and silly kid too. As I grew up, the storm clouds got bigger and so did the rainbows. And people like rainbows, so I had lots of friends. In my teen years, which sucks for everyone, I was a popular kid with suicidal thoughts. I was incredibly self-destructive and tried my best to hide it from people.
Yet, I couldn’t hide the depression completely, so there were a lot of days when people would ask “what’s wrong?” and I know they were concerned but you can’t say the truth. What do you say to another 15 year old, that you feel like death is better than living and you realize you don’t even have it that bad. I had a lot of conflicted feelings about my depression. I felt guilty for being depressed, but I also had this sick pride – it’s was something that made me feel special. Like I understood what all those Lifetime movies are about, I feel that, all the time. Plus, I was already in therapy, what were my friends going to do. So, on the days when it was really hard to hide the depression, I’d just say I was tired. Even today, I don’t love when people ask if I’m ok, because I’m not, but what am I supposed to say – what are they supposed to do.
Depression and destruction was all I knew until I was about 20 and I got medicated. With medication came the ability to see what the world could be like without depression. A big part of persistent depressive disorder is it goes on for so long, it becomes a part of one’s identity. And the medication was like a power washer to the window that I viewed life and emotions. All I knew was depression and brief moments of technicolor rainbow happiness. I didn’t know what it felt like to go weeks without feeling depressed, and medication gave me that wonderful feeling. It was super cool! The medication worked (when I remembered to take it) for about 3 years, then it stopped working. I was taking Bupropion (aka Wellbutrin) and it just stopped being effective. I was getting more depressive episodes than normal while taking the medication, and I took Abilify to make the anti-depressant work better but that caused my hand to twitch so I stopped taking it. In order to continue to be medicated, I would have had to go to a more intense anti-depressant like Prozac and that honestly scared me. So at 24, I decided to go off medication, at that point I had read enough self-help books, been to therapy, and grew a self-awareness around the depression that I felt I could navigate life without the anti-depressants.
Now, 6 years later, living with persistent depression without a therapist or medication – it’s not a fucking walk in the park. It sucks. But it’s not terrible, and it’s not impossible. That stormy raincloud, it’s more like a shadow monster, and some days it comes banging on the door refusing to leave and I’m just done. Other days it peaks it’s head around the corner to tell me it’s still there, and I just go ok, nice to see you, not today Satan. And other days it’s nowhere in sight and those days are awesome!! But my shadow monster is always lurking, and I’ve learned how to deal with it. I’ve learned how to have friendships, relationships, a stable job, ambitions, goals, dreams – all of it.
Earlier this month, I wanted to start weekly/ daily vlogging. It’s been an ambition of mine, but I have a lot of conflicted feelings about it. One, my days are fairly routine and kind of boring. Two, my depression. I don’t know when it will hit. I don’t know when I’m going to have an episode, where all of a sudden I’m filled with a deep hopelessness and very little will to function. So, the week I started doing it, by Tuesday I woke up feeling depressed. I had to do a lot of contrary action to pull myself out of the sludge, but I plugged along. Because that’s what I’ve learned to do. I just have to put one foot in front of the other. I have to keep going. Brush my teeth. Write out my to-do list. I have to go through the motions until the shadow drifts away. I have to starve the shadow with contrary action, instead of feeding it and giving in to the depression.
The scene from The Neverending Story with Atreyu and Artax in the Swamp of Sadness, I am both Atreyu and Artax, all the time.
Some days I wish I could just be back on medication, it would make everything so much easier. But I’m choosing not to spend money on medication, because I also know how to manage my life without it. Instead, I exercise, watch my diet (avoid trigger foods and drink), practice self-care rituals, and make an effort to see my friends and spend time with my husband. I find other ways to help me manage the depression. Now, if I felt I was slipping into a major depression or a double depression I would need to seek medication and attend therapy again. Wedding planning nearly put me into a major depression, but with a lot of self-therapy and a lot of French fries – I got through it. Yet, if I do have double depression that impacts the quality of my life to the point where my relationships and work suffer immensely that is when I will decide to reinvest and seek out psychiatric treatment.
I view my persistent depression similar to a person living with Type-1 diabetes. It’s something I have, it’s not who I am. It will also never go away, but I can manage it. Lastly, you don’t need to feel bad about it, because I don’t. I was having a conversation with my mom in which I was explaining the frequency of my really dark depressive episodes, and how I get through them, the cycle and she said “good, and you’re still alive.” I’m still alive. I’m still having fun and enjoying life and depressed at least 50% of the time. I’m ok with the fact I will likely never be 100% depression free. I just want other people, especially young people, with persistent depression to know that they can learn how to navigate the world with it and have a full life. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know you can have a life that you love, and still feel like life isn’t worth living, and then learn to love it again.
*I’ve decided to not weekly vlog. Mostly, because I’m even bored by the material I would have to edit together to make interesting. Creator rule #1 – make what you would want to consume. I don’t want to consume my week again.
** I’ve done my best to explain my life with depression in as concise a form as possible, I have likely oversimplified in some areas. So if there are any questions or desire for clarification, please leave a comment and I’d be happy to elaborate.
I just got out of my French class, but by the time you read this “just” will no longer be relevant.
I’m also currently craving french fries. By the time you read this, the sentence will still be relevant as I’m always craving french fries. Perhaps when you read this, I will have satiated my craving momentarily, or still be yearning for their salty goodness.
However, I created a playlist that I’ve aptly titled “French Fries” that has the songs that peaked my curiosity in Quarter 1 of 2018, and surprisingly has a lot of French tunes.
à la prochaine, prendre plaisir | see you, enjoy!
p.s. At the end of 2017 and start of 2018, I was also working on my “WAKE UP BEKKA” playlist that I thought I’d share as well. That playlist is always taking good “wake up” songs, so feel free to listen and leave a recommendation.
- My birthday was in February
- I’m trying to finish my AA with a transfer in psych this year
- which means I’m in school Tuesday through Thursday night, taking a French class and an Astronomy course
- I’m still doing Freelance
- I’m still editing the young adult book I wrote with my sister (this process has been 9 years and counting)
- I’ve sent out 283 tweets to Congress, and need to send more.
- I started a foodie Instagram account called lovetastyadventures
And since I did start a foodie Instagram account, I thought I would share the cheese board my husband and I had at LACMA’s Ray’s and Stark Bar for my birthday. The wedding last year has me feeling really burned out when it comes to planning anything, so I decided I wanted my birthday to be simple with just Dan and me. I was inspired to have an evening at LACMA to celebrate, and on the way we decided to stop in Ray’s and Stark Bar for a glass of wine. Our dinner plans for the night would include our latest favorite restaurant Exchange in Downtown LA. We will need to return and take decent photos of the food there, right now they are blurry and don’t highlight their deliciousness properly. But the photos of the cheese board, on the other hand, are lovely and the cheeses were delicious. I feel restaurants never serve enough pieces of bread, so we enjoyed the soft cheeses and apricot compote with the crostinis and paired the Marcona almonds with the hard aged cheddar. At this point, I don’t recall the other cheeses, but I’ll be stepping up my foodie game in the future and will be taking notes.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”- John F. Kennedy
I’m not a political person. I don’t share my opinion about politics on social media. I’m a thoughts and prayers person cause honestly, first of all, I’m a person that prays and second, a social media post isn’t going to encompass that enormity of my heartbreak, confusion, and absolute feelings of helplessness. So when I pray, I’m not praying for families necessarily, I’m mostly praying that an answer to the madness will arise. That legislation will be presented that I can vote on. That something of logic and reason, outside of party agendas, will be developed in order to address the complexity of the problem with the same level of insight to a solution. Because it’s layered, it’s not simple, and you can’t fit the fix on the back of a bumper sticker or in an internet meme.
I remember when Sandy Hook happened. I was doing the social media for a hair care company and I went up to the owner saying, I’m not posting on social media today. We’re going silent because no one wants to hear about hair care tips. Fast forward 5 years, I still work in social media, but I post content on days of horrendous violence, there is no moment of silence. Because the violence is so frequent, the silence becomes deafening. So social media becomes the ad in a magazine or a billboard on the side of the road, another advertisement while you listen to the tragic stories pouring out on the radio waves. And I’m ok with that. Because a brand has no place in chiming in on these incidents.
But I’m not a brand, I’m a human. I have nieces and nephews in school. I have family members who are faculty and work at schools across Southern California. Mass shootings are not a party issue, it’s a human one. The Republicans and Democrats are failing us, not working together, not listening to each other, not coming to a middle ground, and not addressing the full scope of the problem. Republicans, yes it’s about addressing how to intervene and respond to a mentally disturbed person. Democrats, yes it’s about gun reform and not having access to assault rifles. Both parties, it’s not black and white, so find the fucking grey!!
In the age of information, the agencies that are meant to protect us still behave like they are blind. How are we able to stop terrorists’ acts when planned by a foreign terrorist organization, but not prevent an act of violence by a disturbed person who is openly posting about their intent online? Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but if you’ve seen Mindhunter on Netflix or any episode of Criminal Minds, you should know twisted disturbed behavior doesn’t pop out of nowhere, and you can map out criminal violent behavior. But I’m not an expert in psychopathy, policy, or sociology – all I know is that there is no logical reason why a person who has been reported to the FBI should still have access to an assault weapon. Logic. So it’s also a protocol issue, what is our law enforcement and agency’s empowered to do when it comes to determining the severity of what may seem like an idle threat.
Most people have said something to the effect of, “I hate people” or “I wish they were dead,” at one point or another because they are human and say shit that holds no real weight. Phrases that the inner moral compass course corrects into, “well they suck as a person, and I hope to never have to interact with them again.” I’ve been depressed. I’ve had dark thoughts. I one time joked on the phone with the receptionist at my therapist office, that I’m on edge and feel like killing everyone – she went silent, and I had an “oh shit” moment and quickly said, “I don’t mean that I’m just not in a good place and need an appointment ASAP. I’m not going to actually harm anyone or myself.” If at that moment she put my name on a list, I would have been ok with it, because we need to be held accountable for the shit we say. I was also 19.
I don’t know politics. But I can’t believe that we’ve had a series of horrific acts of violence in this nation and the needle hasn’t moved AT ALL. The weekend my husband had his bachelor party, his nephew couldn’t make it, because he was out of town, in Las Vegas at a music festival. Yeah, he, fortunately, was not harmed at that mass shooting. But his niece, well her husband had a cousin who was sent to the hospital because of the shooting.
Why has the needle not moved?
I’m not an activist. But I can’t be silent anymore. And the one thing I do know is social media. So I’m going to tweet the following two messages out to every senator and house representative until I’m blocked. I only have 500 twitter followers, and if I lose every single one of them because of this activation – it’s worth it.
Tweet 1: You can stop the mass shootings. You have the power. You can put policy in place that intervenes and sets protocols. You can impact mental health. Risk your job for our well being. We need you to act. #dosomething
Tweet 2: Mass shootings are heartbreaking and you have the power to change things. Please, we need gun reform. We need intervention and protocol. We need mental health care. Stand up, stand out, and make a difference. Why are you in this position if not to make a difference? #dosomething
I believe in speaking with love and kindness. I believe in empowering people, not scolding them.
I hope I can help move the needle, so I guess I’m doing this.
GOAL – 2 tweets a day to at least 10 people or more…
There are 500 + people to tweet, I’m using this list: https://twitter.com/cspan/lists/members-of-congress?s=09
I’m scheduling my tweets through TweetDeck. Here are instructions if you want to join: https://www.lifewire.com/schedule-tweets-on-tweetdeck-3486232
so much love & so much light
HUMANE THREATS – BE SPITEFUL WHILE STILL BEING MINDFUL
We’ve all been pissed before. We’ve all wished something bad on someone else. But in the age of the internet things escalate quickly, and it seems that people forget another human in on the other end of the venomous toxic message that is being sent out over the interweb. There is definitely a dehumanization occurring in society, a disintegration of civility, and maybe it’s because we interact with a screen more than actual people – but let’s bring back the humanity in our threats! You can be spiteful without forgetting that someone with a family, friends, and loved ones is on the receiving end of your vitriol. There are pretty vile people in this world, and the person you disagree with online is likely not the worst of them…
So, here are 25 things to say when really pissed off and disagree with someone besides…
“I hope you die.”
“You deserve to get raped.”
“Go kill yourself.”
- I hope you sweat through your clothes before an important interview
- I hope you get a mildly infected ingrown pubic hair
- I hope you get a bad haircut
- I hope you step in poison oak and have a non-deadly bad reaction
- I hope you run out of gas on the way to work
- I hope you accidentally delete 2 hours’ worth of work and have to start over
- I hope better people than you get tickets to that thing you want
- I hope you don’t fit into that outfit you love until you become a better person
- I hope when you arrive late for your dinner reservations, they can’t make space for you.
- You deserve to stub your toe and hit your funny bone on the same day
- You deserve for something you stood in line for to be sold out right before your turn
- You deserve to accidentally run your car into a parking pole
- You deserve pink eye on your wedding day
- You deserve to be passed up for a job promotion because you’re not awesome.
- You deserve food poisoning on your birthday
- You deserve to sit on a long flight next to someone with bad body odor
- You deserve to have food in your teeth all day, especially during something important
- You deserve to catch every red light, every time you drive, FOREVER
- You deserve to have your computer reboot and update before a deadline
- I hope you get a nose pimple
- I hope you get locked out of your car without AAA
- I hope you have to walk a long distance in the cold without a jacket
- I hope your air-conditioner breaks during the summer
- I hope you drop your ice cream cone
- I hope you have a MEDIOCRE day
It’s been a little over a month since I went to my last Moth StorySlam and I am jonesing for a fix. I miss the energy of the room, hearing people’s stories, wondering if my name will be called. I knew when I decided to attend a few night classes that meant I would have to put the Moth aside for a few months, and I knew I would miss it, I just wasn’t expecting how much and so fast.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing the second to last Moth StorySlam story I prepared before my little hiatus. The topic of the night was “Obsession” and many girls and women graced the stage to talk about their romantic obsessions. And I would have felt lame if my story was exactly like theirs, except mine, wasn’t about my romantic obsession, but the other girl who was equally obsessed with him.
MOTH STORY SLAM – OBSESSION – 12/13/2017
click to read the story
29 Rooms is an interactive art experience curated by Refinery 29 where artists and brands come together to create 29 Instagramable backdrops for your content creating enjoyment. I was really excited about 29 rooms, and super thankful my friend was able to get me in – but I’d be lying if I said that the “do it for the gram” attitude of the place didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth.
The grammable art experiences seem to be popping up a lot these days, and my natural contrarian attitude wants to rebel against the museum of ice cream and happy place and say – no I won’t just go for the gram. I want to go for not only the visual stimulation but the intellectual stimulation. And not to say you can’t just go to something cause it’s just fun, cause I’m sure the museum of ice cream and happy place are fun for people. Maybe if I was better at posing in front of a camera I’d drink less of the haterade and be all about those fun and funky backdrops. But with 29 Rooms, we couldn’t even see all of the rooms because of limited time, mismanaged logistics, and the full-on photoshoots taking place in front of us.
I love getting that great Instagram moment as much as the next person, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of cultural enrichment. I’d like to know the who, what, and why behind what I experience. And sure, maybe some of the 29 Rooms were just sponsored pop-ups made by a collection of set designers who have no emotional investment in the mini-environment they created, but I know for a fact some of the rooms / installations were more than that and to not provide proper information educating people places the LGBTQ install on the same level of importance as the pink sand Shea Moisture install.
To give them some credit, there were small placards affixed to the wall next to the door of some of these rooms, but they were hard to read and considering the entire experience was just more of a mad dash to see what room you could get in, one ended up being more focused on trying to have an experience than finding the information on the room. I really wish they would have the info someplace online (I’ve yet to find it).
In my ideal world, 29 rooms would have time slots, and you’d walk through each room with about a minute or two to enjoy each space. Hell, make it 30 seconds, Yayoi Kasuma’s Infinity Rooms was 30 seconds and worth every moment. But I’m not the curator of 29 Rooms, and I just have to accept that our world is moving into a place where smart people can make money off those that want to enjoy an interactive highly Instagramable art experience. I just hate it when I become a pawn, and totally know I’m a pawn – and am a little ok with being a pawn.
It’s Friday the coolest day of the week, so it’s time for some cool stuff. Here is a collection of items from the internet that peaked my interest, tickeled my fancy, or made me smile – I hope it does the same for you too.
I want to explore Katharina Grosse’s blanket fort installation. If only I could zip down to Sydney on my imaginary private jet. Also, the artist wouldn’t call “The Horse Trotted Another Couple Of Metres, Then It Stopped” (the name of the piece) a blanket fort, but we all clearly know what this magical, colorful, art installation really is….
View a a full write up on the pieces & images on Juxtapoz
My friend Darcy O’Day made the cutest animations using the very candy-colored installation by Pip & Pop as the land where adorable monsters cannibalize each other. The install is showing at Corey Helford Gallery, and I must see it before it goes away February 17th.
So, Into the Gloss is one of my favorite beauty websites and I thought this article, Your Next Candle Purchase, Based On Your Personality Quirks, was funny and quite accurate. I can’t sing and I know I’d love the candle they suggested.
I constantly see trailers for movies that I want to see, that I end up never seeing because I forget what the movie was. So maybe documenting them on Cool Stuff Friday will remind me to watch them later.
Lastly, how amazing is this friendship. I would say friendship goals, but I already have friends like this – we’re just all a little less famous.
The day David Bowie died, I took the day off of work.
I work for myself, so it sounds more dramatic than it actually was, but I hope it communicates the extent to which I loved Bowie. I grew up listening to the full Bowie catalog, but truth is I never really liked the song Under Pressure. I think Vanilla Ice ruined the baseline for me. So whenever it came on I tuned it out, I just waited for it to be over and move on to the next song. Until today, and I realized, Under Pressure is the anthem America needs right now.
Last year was a dark Christmas, we were all anxious to get out of the misery that was 2016 and then Donald Trump was elected President and it left many of us wondering what new hell have we entered into. And now that 2017 is coming to a close, we’re more familiar with this new world that is Alice’s LCD laced wonderland. Tension is high, civility is low. Humanity has wins like the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the election of openly transgender people to public office and government positions. Yet, the heartbreaking loss of life due to acts of terrorism like the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Spring Texas, the vehicles that plowed into crowds in Spain and New York, leaves us watching the pain and suffering rise, wondering if a tweet will set off a nuclear attack while ordering avocado toast for brunch.
It’s bleak. Despite all the good, there is all this bad and the pendulum continues to swing violently back and forth. Not to mention that the troubles of Americans still hardly compare to those in war-torn countries, so lets all choke on a slice of perspective pie before bitching about the post office or parking this holiday season.
When I finally listened to the lyrics of the song, I felt it outlined our current social environment poetically. Showing us the woes of humanity, only to give us the one real solution that is universal and stands the test of time – LOVE.
Yup, act in love. Live in love. Be love to those you’re compelled to hate. Give love. Love is the release valve.
So, Under Pressure is my new anthem to keep me accountable for my part in this thing called life.
The pressure is real. How will it be dealt with?
Remember a few weeks ago when I shared my first “Journey to The Moth Stage” post, where I shared my dreams of telling a story on a Moth stage, and I wouldn’t give up until I did it. Well, I went back to a Moth StorySlam two weeks after my first Moth Slam and was called to the stage.
I thought it would take longer
My master goal is to get to The Moth GrandSlam stage, and that only happens when you win a StorySlam. I knew the story I was going to share wasn’t a winner, but I still wanted to put my name in the hat. Also, I want to say that my admission of my stories strength isn’t self-deprecating. I’m quickly learning what makes for a winning story and I’m sure I have one in me, just the one I shared on November 21 was not going to be a winner. However, it did land me somewhere in the middle of the story-tellers pack. So, I’m happy it was at least entertaining.
The topic this slam was REVELATIONS, and I desired to share my spiritual journey and revelation about religion and my decision to become a confirmed Catholic. I wrote out my story, revised it, rehearsed it in the shower, and had a nervous breakdown in my bed in the midst of reciting it to Dan the night before. But despite the tears and anxiety, I was determined just to put myself out there, to put my name in the hat. Basically, there is no glory or growth staying in a familiar place, and damn it I want to get a story on the Moth Radio Hour (someday).