“You have the power to choose the way you see life, and the way you experience life. You can take whatever comes, and make something positive out of it.”

I’m trying so incredibly hard lately to not have a meltdown. I can still function under gratuitous amounts of stress, but I can’t deny I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. The weight that gets lifted when I make progress seems to immediately replicate itself in some other way. Obviously, there is work related stress. Everyone has it, and specifically everyone I work with has it. But it’s just a job, and if I can manage to leave the stress of work AT WORK, then I’m fine. Yet constantly something is happening to make that 10+ hour day horrible, and now it’s looking like my workload is going to increase.stresscalories

But there is also the stress of my health, which is a hilarious mess. Reducing stress, as I was medically advised many times to do, is about the only option I have to get my body to attempt to cooperate. I would love less Sjogren’s flares, let me tell you. But not being as capable as I used to be adds more stress. I have so much less energy to accomplish what I need to, which hinders progress, and thus adds to the stress. Not to mention the fury of bad health stuff that has been all of 2014 so far. Hospital bills, test bills, doctor bills, procedure bills… everything. I can’t get out of the bills to save my life. And more are on the way, since I have two appointments April 30th – one new specialist about my ovarian mass/cyst issue, and the other my ENT Oncologist. SO MUCH FUN, RIGHT?! Not an ounce of stress or dread there…

Oh, but the fun doesn’t get to end there. (It never does.)

My Legends of the Knight screening for Muscular Dystrophy isn’t selling as well as I’d hoped, and I have a little over a week to pull off some miracles. But it’s making me bitter and eating at my faith in other people. I know I just need to push harder, and when I feel overwhelmed I should step back and take a deep breath. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m terrified it will fail when I had my heart set on it. For now, I can only keep pushing forward.

Not to mention, I’m getting more and more frustrated with myself for not progressing any farther in terms of my manuscript and the edits that it needs. I’m obviously growing tired of not getting anywhere and burning out on the day job. Writer Angel and Artsy Angel want my full attention, and they’ve grown tired of Sickly Angel and Day Job Angel. I am a WRITER, dammit.

comeonkid

Let’s not even get into all the things wrong in my personal life. Like a burning desire to have my own place and move forward with my own life. Or trying to fix my car. Or everything.

But at the end of the day, even though I feel like I’m cracking into pieces, I know I have to hold it together and keep trying. This post isn’t about how stressed I am, so much as it is about overcoming said stress.

anewwaytothink

“Choose to live a life of unique greatness, and to give that greatness to your world. In every moment you have the power to choose, so choose the very best.”

I’ve said it a few times: I handle my depression and stress and anxiety without the assistance of any substance. While I agree, we cannot tackle these matters alone, I learned at a young age some of the best advice I had ever been given. At the time, it didn’t seem like good advice whatsoever. In fact, it devastated me and made me feel like no one would help me. But after two failed anti-depressants, I took the time to consider the advice.

What magical words did my doctor give me to completely turn around how I view life? “Learn to deal with it.”

*gasp* WHAT?! That’s so rude! He told a 13 year old coming apart at the seams to just DEAL WITH IT?!

Yeah yeah yeah. I had these thoughts myself. But after time, and some mature thinking, I internalized and reconsidered what this meant, or at least what it could mean for me.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost

I spent my childhood surrounded by friends and family members that used unhealthy coping methods to deal with their problems. I had friends and family, also, that immediately sought out a medication to make them happy, instead of trying to actually make the attempt to change the situations around them or how they react to the onset of depression or anxiety. So, when my world was crumbling, I didn’t start drinking or smoking or using prescribed or illegal drugs. Instead, I taught myself how to deal with everything.

thewoods

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep. “

Robert Frost

To be fair, I won’t lie – it was a rocky start. I didn’t just laugh in the face of Depression like it was some harmless beast and expect to get away with it. No, instead, Depression started to tear me apart. There was a long stretch of time in which I couldn’t stop myself from bodily harm as an instant reaction to my triggers – it started small, by biting off chunks of flesh in my mouth or shredding my cuticles or jamming my fingertips into sharp objects. Eventually it led to more aggressive versions of self-harm, and that’s something I don’t enjoy admitting even at this point in my life, because it was an incredibly dark time that I have a hard time accepting. But it happened. I don’t take pride in it or babble about it to every human I know, and it took a lot of time and love to get myself out of it. Eventually, I did overcome the self mutilation and constant self-loathing. And it was all because I finally learned how to cope in healthy ways.

creativity

I would stay after school and work on artwork for a few hours, go home and dive into my writing. Eventually I started to get somewhere in both areas – I had scholarships and college interviews for my art, I went to New York for my writing and was well on my way to getting an agent. I even started getting some publication. After high school, I started getting into photography. That’s still my coping methods: art, words, pictures. If I need to reboot my brain, I surround myself with creation.

“So I stare into this paper instead of sitting at a cubicle, take all the ugly shit inside and try to make it beautiful.”

As I’ve grown, I have found more methods of distracting myself from the overwhelming waves Depression tries to drown me in: video games, exercise, cleaning, etc. I’ve found  girls nights with my closest friends does wonders for my sanity. As does time with my nieces.

“I’m gonna make it through, you’ll see.
I swear I’ll prove you wrong.
You haven’t seen the last of me.
I am way too strong.
It’s not impossible, you’ll see.
You’ve never been inside my head:
Ten billion burning suns and belief in a strength that can raise the dead.”

I’d like to believe I can inspire this in other people. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, to overcome your need for a chemical substance of some form to act as your crutch, and I’m sure there are instances that some people simply cannot handle the world without it. But I think there is a problem with over-medicating people, or people seeking out poor coping methods, instead of healthy or productive ones. We’re taught through example of everyone around us that we can treat the symptoms of our sadness with alcohol or drugs or whatever. That’s the real issue: we treat symptoms, not the problem.

I’m not saying cold-turkey stop your medications you’ve been prescribed, either – that can be incredibly dangerous for your health. But maybe work on finding the positive changes you can make, see if those can help you at all, and then talk to your doctor about lowering your dose or coming off entirely. Or, ignore this all entirely. It’s 100% your life to do what you need to do.

Anyway, I thought I’d open up about a bit of my own struggles and how I cope. I’d like to think I could be of some help to someone who needs it. Or at the very least, letting someone else know they aren’t alone.

~Angel

 

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