Somewhere in Between

32

I am somewhere in between “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I’M FEELIN’ 32” and “32 and still growing up now”

31 was hands down the worst, hardest year of my life. Not because anything significantly wrong happened to me, but it was the year of awakening to how overworking myself, lack of attention and communicating of what I needed, and ignoring of mental health had affected my life.
For the last 2 years I had been dissociating. I wasn’t there. My life felt surreal. Every time I woke up in the morning I felt like I was in a dream or some one else’s reality. It’s really hard to explain, and those who don’t have mental health issues simply will never understand. It’s a close off from any real connection, it feels like a dead end in life, and it ends with a dire need for help.

I’m not going to disclose all of my mistakes, words I wish I wouldn’t have said, people I feel I hurt, but I am going to explain where I am now, and how even more than ever I speak about medication, mental health and importance of slowing down in our daily lives. For the last 12 years I have been running my photo business with little to no boundaries on how it affected my personal life. In a small business you have constant emails flooding in, wedding timelines to perfect, images to edit, images to take, websites to update, expenses and income to log, taxes to pay, social media to manage, advertising and marketing tactics to employ, along with trying to keep up on your own personal life, be a good friend/wife/daughter/sibling, make time to see people, and for me – teach and grade or go to school when I did that for 7 years.

I thought I bided my time too long
It turns out the timing was perfect
In the end the weight was all worth it
The brightness guided me through the fog
A constant beam of light that set my course right

I had taken on too much
It took over me
Longing for what I had when I was young
I had taken on too much
My responsibilities are choking me

Setting boundaries for myself
I’m the one who keeps walking all over them
Creating limits for abuse
I’m the one leaving myself battered and bruised

Just reading that run on sentence is exhausting – but that has been my life. Along with fighting an eating disorder, working out every day, feeling guilt for existing in my body, losing people I love to death, and fighting other demons within myself. I would say my depression became pretty serious in 2015/2016. I started to feel it more in 2018, and like everyone else it became a crises in 2020. I started to go to therapy but I saw a therapist who felt more like my ‘bestie’ then someone giving me real advice on how to help myself recover from my ED.

I felt like I was reaching into an empty jar – pulling nothing out to help me at all. I have a hard time breaking it off with people. I tend to be very brand loyal, and I also had never been in therapy before so I never thought anything about it.. until I had to. At the end of 2022 I became very suicidal. I told my therapist about my plans to end my life – and she didn’t really know what to say [?],

I hit my absolute downfall and pulled many down with me the first week of January. My therapist cancelled on me 2 times that week. The worst week of my life I felt alone, useless, guilty, and numb. I isolated myself from my friends and family for months. During all of this, I became so anxious that in between October and January I had lost almost 25 pounds – and the worst part of that – was that I was proud of it. My anorexia had came back in full force, showing me that if I just didn’t eat, I could acquire the self image I wanted. This unfortunately is still not healed. I have relapsed, but I am aware of it, so I have made myself snack throughout the day since sometimes big meals make me nauseous.

I think the hardest part of all of this, was hurting people around me. It sends you even more into a spiral, and you cannot rationalize your actions at all. It feels like an excuse to others, but literally I have been in a body without any recollection of what is happening around me. People lately have been telling me how worried they were about me when they saw me LAST YEAR [my accountant even stated this], but no one had told ME. I was so nervous about medication and to be honest, there was a part of me that hadn’t come to terms with my mental state so I felt like I was just making it up in my head. I didn’t want to waste any one’s time.

It got to the point where I was planning on ending my life. I had ideas, timelines, post-plans for my spouse to take care of, it got serious. I switched therapists and I got a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with clinical-severe depression, moderate-severe anxiety, anorexia [again], with a lil side of mania. My new therapist is still set on me having ADHD – though my last therapist thought it was OCD.

I, then, got medicated.

Why am I writing this in a blog to the public? Many reasons.

First and foremost, I want to tell you how medication changed and saved my life. I wake up right now, still feeling exhausted and tired, content but not lifeless. I still have a bit of a medication journey to go through – but literally any even small dose would and did feel like a drastic difference. Now I am working with higher dosages to allow me to feel true joy again.

My new therapist is incredible. I feel like this one gives me what I need in terms of homework, tools and reflection. It’s far less about my days and experiences and more about the tools to work through my experiences and thoughts. I need tasks to learn how to change behaviors, not just someone telling me to hear my thoughts and let them go.

The other day we went through emotions and how my body reacts to them. I could list the gut drop and cold temperature when I was anxious or fearful. I could describe the headache and warm temperatures I feel when I am mad. I could list the tears on my face, feeling of helplessness and weight of my body when I am sad, but I couldn’t list joy. I hadn’t felt pure joy in a few years. Things would make me ‘happy’ in thought, but not in feeling. That was a pretty big wake up call.

I faked my joy. I faked my feelings, for 2-3 years. I became so good at masking. When inside I didn’t want to exist at all. Documenting people’s big days while being clinical depressed was something wild. But it’s how I perfected ‘faking it’ in my personal life. Work doesn’t allow me to be sad or emotionless – and my work doesn’t allow me to cancel. So I sucked it up and preformed.

Clinical depression is strange because there is nothing in my life that makes me this way – just as this is for others. I have a very loving husband, a beautiful family, 3 amazing lil children [cats], supportive parents, a brother that is one of my best friends, a beautiful roof over my head, a job I’ve built from the ground up – so many other blessings that have come to me. It’s easy to look at people and tell them just to be grateful, but that’s not the case. WE ARE TRYING [lol].

So here is where life has shifted for me.

Medication makes me pretty sleepy sometimes, but I am pretty used to that since that’s also what depression does to me. However, depression sleepiness also takes away my sleep at night- where medication just always makes me more chill – less urgent to do things – and now my anxiety meds allow me to sleep more than 2 – 3 hours at night [which also perpetuates you into more manic episodes]. What this brought to me also was perspective of working.

Right now I work.. a lot. I just finished [my god I made it] teaching at 3 universities, 5 courses. Black and white film, Photography 1, Photography 1 online only, Introduction to photography for non-majors, Seminar [which is like theory], and senior thesis. The first week I started this schedule – was the week I also was having the worst week of my life and recovering over a manic episode that I had to face the consequences of. Mania is insane because you say and do things you don’t believe and then you don’t know why you did or said them when you are cognitively there. You hurt people around you, you don’t remember what you said or why you said them. It’s literally insane. This week is when my therapist cancelled on me too, so the fact that I just made it out of this semester is … you have no idea how amazing it is to say ‘I survived.’

From January-May I didn’t take any weddings. From 2014 until 2022 I took 35-45 weddings a year on top of graduate school, and then teaching. IT was a lot, but it was how I dissociated and apparently distracted myself from depression. Can’t think about it if you literally can’t take time for yourself.

This year I have only taken 21-22 – with a focus on the LGBTQI community and smaller weddings. Next year it is a potential that I may be working for a corporation or a full-time visiting position in an art institution. This means that I will do selective session, and probably cap my wedding load at 10 – picking and choosing what I do. The valuable lesson in all of this is to experience and enjoy this short life we have. I have learned that spending time with those you love on your ‘off’ time from work is so important and it’s just so hard for me to do that when my job requires me to work 70 hours a week. Partially my fault, I didn’t create those boundaries for myself. But I also don’t want to be a 40 year old woman taking family portraits [no offense]. It just never where was I wanted to go, and I don’t want to go there. My dream was always to do artist or fashion photography, which I have gotten to do lately. There is a possibility that I could be working for bigger artists too.

So in a nutshell I don’t really know where I am going. I have many avenues I could take. But over all – I’m just lucky to be here after I wasn’t planning on it.

This year I have so many beautiful weddings I get to capture. I have sessions planned. I have trips with my husband, family and friends. For once, I am relatively excited about them instead of feeling dreadful about leaving my house.

My spouse ‘n 3 babies

If you have similar feelings to me or myself in the past – I want you to know there is no shame reaching for help. If you even question for a second if you are feeling surreal in your body, reach out for help now before mania comes for you. You matter – but you need someone else to guide you to feel that yourself.

As always, I am real and here to talk ❤

Happy birthday to me.

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
And all your little brother’s favorite songs
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone

Taylor Swift

a song about my mental health episode: Car Crash

One Reply to “Somewhere in Between”

  1. Its.Tobi.D says:

    I feel like I understand a lot of what you are going through. Digging yourself out of that hole is ling and hard, but it can be done! Take care, T

    Like

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