Webs


Three spiders have made their homes outside my apartment windows. Sometimes, I watch them spin their webs in the dark, orange streetlights barely illuminating the fibers. Usually they’re sheltered from the rainy Oregon weather but every so often, when it rains sideways, huge holes appear in the meticulously symmetrical designs. I’m always so amazed at the spiders’ diligence. They never stop. They’re never deterred. I’m assuming they’re never discouraged, though I don’t have much understanding of spider brains and emotions.

I’m proud of them. I’m inspired by them. They’re my little friends, my little roommates, and I root for them every night while I fall asleep. I hope they know how much I care about them. I hope they know how much they matter to me.

I hope they feel me, silently cheering them on in solidarity, because if they can rebuild, so can I.

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Remember?


Remember when I used to blog? Yeah, I barely remember either….

I’m watching Julie & Julia, the movie that started this whole blog off in the first place. I figured if Julie Powell could utilize her writing and cooking skills through a blog, that maybe I could try my hand at it too. At first, I wrote a lot about how much I loved Julia Child — her spirit, her television persona, her life. Then, I wrote complete and utter silly nonsense. All the time. I’d write a post almost every day, about the books I’d read, the things I noticed about people.I wrote sarcastic posts about boys who had rejected me. I wrote about my declining mental health. I wrote about writing. About college. The Bachelor. Rabbits. Dancing. Barney…

So when I started writing almost 7 years ago on this very site, I didn’t really expect my life to go this way. I thought I’d be a writer by now. Then I thought maybe I’d be a psychologist. Now I’m in cosmetology school, which I wouldn’t have predicted but definitely won’t complain about. Clearly this path hasn’t exactly been linear. I just…thought I’d have it all figured out by now. I’m 23, after all, and when I was 17, I trusted my future self to take care of everything.

This blog was my everything. I had a solid following, an actual subscriber base that cared about my wellbeing and loved my humor. It used to be called Writer’s Block. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll run kicking and screaming,” the caption at the top warned. A picture of typewriter keys occupied the banner. The web address? bymyink.wordpress.com. Now? Cappy Writes. A web address that matches the blog’s name. A picture of a packet of letters I bought at an antique shop. No tagline. A lot of sadness. Anger.

I’m not lamenting what used to be, really, so much as finally remembering. Realizing.

Obviously, I haven’t put the time and effort into blogging that I used to. At its peak, blogging was a tool to help me learn about and expand the world that I occupied. It was a way to gain support, to express myself, to hone a craft. It was pure. It meant everything to me. It was how I showed the world who I was, at a time when I thought I knew.

But the past few years haven’t been easy on me. My “mood disorder not otherwise specified” developed into generalized anxiety, a panic disorder, and depression. I was suicidal for a while when I was 18. I went through a surprisingly complicated breakup. I found Hinduism. It helped. New obstacles popped up. I got through them. I went to India. I got E. coli. I came out as bisexual. I graduated college, moved to a new city. I started cosmetology school. And through that all, the anxiety ebbed and flowed, but stayed mostly beneath the surface.

So now? I don’t know. I’m not okay, honestly. Something new is happening inside me, and I can’t understand it. I dealt with some serious depression over the summer, which is unusual for me, as it tends to stay contained within the “fall and winter seasonal affective” bubble. The panic disorder seems to have stayed away, which is one of the only things I find myself grateful for these days. The world doesn’t seem real lately, and neither do I. I’m going through the standard identity crisis that most people in their early 20s seem to experience, sure. But on top of that, some weird depersonalization/dissociation issues are cropping up. Therapy is happening. It’s rough, trying to stay afloat, stay alive, when you’re not even sure what’s going on anymore. I know all of that is vague, and I wish it could make more sense to me too. Just know that I’m dealing with it. I always do. I just don’t always know what to do anymore.

What does this all mean? In terms of this post, this blog, me, my life? I don’t know. All I know is, I got 15 minutes into watching Julie & Julia and I just got this itch to write. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, too. I’ve noticed that the worse I feel mentally, the more I cling to activities and people that used to make me feel calm and human and happy. This blog, more than anything, steadied my life when everything felt like it was going up in flames. So maybe it’s time to jump back in, ya know? To see a little humor in all the bullshit around me. To tell the world what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling. To share my story again with anyone willing to listen (and some who are very unwilling but are forced to because I’m a witch and I’ve hexed them).

So I’ll try, if you’ll help me. Your job is very simple: to show up and to read. I don’t even know how many of you are still out there, how many are new to my blog today, how many of you aren’t spam robots trolling through wordpress………

But yeah. I’ll try. No guarantees I’ll be funny, because half the time I just want to cry. But I’ll be here, writing into the abyss, for as long as you’ll have me.

 

The Rebirth


It’s been two years, either today or yesterday, since life meant very little to me. Two years since I broke and my mother had to take a plane at 6 a.m. to be with me, to keep me safe and protected. Two years since I started rebuilding.

I never expected any of that to happen, and I would honestly prefer that I hadn’t felt that much pain and suffering and absolute nothingness, because it’s the absolute worst, so don’t start thinking it was a positive experience at the time. But I also know I would not be who I am today without those horrible experiences.

“Everything happens for a reason” is an obnoxiously common saying, and usually I think it’s a bit of a cop out, a way to distance ourselves from pain and confusion. But in a different way, perhaps a more subtle one, I believe it. Life is one long chain of events, each tiny action creating reactions and waves. It’s not just that I wouldn’t attend this particular university on this career path with these friends; it’s that I, as I exist in this moment, would not exist. I wouldn’t understand my inner self in the same way (in fact, that inner self would be very different indeed) and I would not have the same outlook on life that I do right now.

That other person, that child who existed pre-December 2011, would have been lovely too, and I know that wherever she exists — perhaps in an alternate universe — she is absolutely striking. But she is not who I was meant to become.

I’m so happy with who I am and the path I have chosen. Something inside me — some slumbering beast of peace — awoke two years ago and has been struggling to the forefront of my consciousness ever since. I surprise myself lately, in the most exciting and breathtaking way, by how at peace I feel. Every discovery I have made — in Hinduism, in my daily life, in understanding myself — existed in that beast and absolutely exploded into being these past few months.

I am so perfectly flawed and so determined to work through the knots I hold inside, and I honestly gasp sometimes when I realize…I am fulfilling this destiny of sorts. I am becoming me. I never realized I didn’t know who I was until I met myself — I wasn’t lost until I was found.

I will question “why me” in the future, I’m sure, when something terrible happens and I feel broken again. But never again will I look to the past and see tragedy; it was only opportunity of the most brutal nature that allowed me to feel so utterly free.

This earth is so much, so gorgeous, so overwhelming. Sometimes I drink it in and realize I can’t stop and I drown a little, blinking into the sun and choking on the cold. I remember a time when even the heaviest downpours felt like nothing, just another burden to bear. Now, I welcome the sleet as another excuse to feel every nerve in my body vibrate.

“Namaste:” the light in me greets the light in you. Now I have found my inner light.

So Here’s Something…


I was packing today (I leave in 3 days, y’all…going back to college!) and came across an old diary from two years ago. I hadn’t seen it in years, and I read through the whole thing.

It detailed everything from getting asked to prom to being “dumped” by my prom date a few weeks after the actual dance to getting my first kiss (yeah, that seems a little out of order, but that’s how I live my life) to having my first boyfriend to going to college to…and then it stopped. And as I write this, I realize it was  that time, October 2011, when everything slid downhill. It’s funny when you’re so ecstatically happy and in love with someone and in love with your life, and then suddenly you want it to end. I’ve contemplated this so many times on this blog, each time gradually a little deeper, a little darker maybe, but I’ve never written about this because I’ve actually never thought about this. This post was supposed to go in an entirely different direction, but I may have just had a revelation.

I’ve thought about how terrible I felt at the time. How I couldn’t get out of bed, and how my relationships with everyone but about 3 people suffered dramatically, and how I ate stale, dry cereal in bed one night for dinner because I didn’t want to leave my room. And I’ve thought about how terribly tragic that all was, but I’ve always thought about it like it happened to someone else. In a way, it did, because I wasn’t myself. But depression is scary in one specific way: there is no outside force acting against you. Sure, maybe you’re Vitamin D deficient, maybe you had a traumatizing life event, and those are outside forces, but it isn’t a bacteria, it wasn’t a car crash, it isn’t something you had happen to you.

It is you. Or it feels that way, anyway.

I remember thinking I was eating away at myself. Having spurts of thoughts like I am doing this to myself. Having other moments where I liked feeling so miserable because at least I felt something. Not wanting the panic attacks to go away because I didn’t know how to define myself without them. Not caring that I was being destroyed because I had nothing to be whole for anymore. 

I’ve never really talked to my father about this. I had a really amazing conversation with another blogger about it, and they said they’d never talked to certain members of their family about their suicide attempt even though it must’ve been at least 25 years since. It’s weird…we can’t tell the people we love but we can tell strangers. It’s no fault of mine, and it’s no fault of my father’s, but I’ve just never really told him. And it’s been almost two years, and sometimes it feels too late to bring it up because it’s over. But I think I’m still a little traumatized by the realization that at one point I didn’t want to live anymore.

I think it somehow makes it hard to explain to someone that you had suicidal thoughts because doesn’t everyone? Doesn’t everyone have that moment when they’re looking over a bridge and they have the urge to fling themselves down into the abyss below? Well, sure, those thoughts happen all the time. But they arise from changing levels of adrenaline or something, and you would never just chuck yourself off a bridge on a whim.

You might swallow a whole bottle of pills, though, and fall asleep forever. You might think about that in the middle of the night after a panic attack. You might take a few extra of those pills, pills you were supposed to take for sleeping, and see how deep you could go, knowing you’d wake up because 3 isn’t an overdose but 30 is. 

I always thought it’d be more dramatic, like you see in movies. The heroine, tears dripping down her face, picks up a bottle of pills, closes her eyes, raises the bottle, and…slams them onto a table. No. I won’t do it. But real life is seldom so concrete or exciting. I thought about it, long and hard, wondering what my family would do without me, deciding that they’d be fine. I thought about it, but…I couldn’t get out of bed to do it. I couldn’t fight the depression long enough to end it. And that part is the only part that seems dramatic to me. It might fit into a movie. “I couldn’t fight the terrible weight pushing down on me, George,” Selma said in her light Southern drawl. “I couldn’t move to numb the pain.”

And I make fun of it, like that, because that’s the only way I can handle it without breaking into a million pieces and crying myself to sleep. But that moment, marred by a haze of one or two too many sedatives, is strangely sharp in my mind. I’d blocked it out until a few months ago, but…it’s not that I decided against doing it. I was just too tired. The pills probably didn’t help the grogginess, but it seems like maybe that grogginess saved my life.

When I was seeing a psychologist, I was saddened by the fact that I couldn’t remember a lot of my time in the fall of 2011. It was like I knew I must’ve been doing something…I was breathing and alive after all…but that time is just blotchy black spots in my mind. My psychologist said that my mind probably wasn’t ready to let me remember everything. Like maybe I needed to ease myself into the reality of that period in my life. So I read diaries and remember. I open notebooks and see “Am I crazy” scrawled across pages in red pen, written during a panic attack. I hear a song and cry. I wake up from dreams and flash back. 

It’s like PTSD, only mildly satisfying, because remembering makes it real. Remembering gives me a reason to feel bad for myself. I can’t remember for too long, because then I’d get nothing done. I don’t want to live in the past, and I don’t want to wallow. But I do want to allow myself to simply remember. Remember that something terrible happened within my mind, and I — very slowly and against more than a few odds — fixed it. 

There will always be books like The Bell Jar that take me back to those few months. I’ll go back to the town I used to live in someday, and I’ll probably remember horrible moments and cry and cleanse myself, stand up straight and walk away. I’ll find old notebooks, old poetry, old watercolors. Therapy tools. I’ll find them and remember, and I’ll bow my head. But I’ll move on. Someday, I’ll move on. For now, I’m in limbo, living an amazing life that would never have happened if those thoughts had turned to actions. 

I write frankly about these experiences because writing allows me to process. Your feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated. However, this blog is meant to be a safe place for both me and my readers, so I will ask that any negative comments be taken elsewhere and appropriately shoved up your arse. 

Write.


Giving birth…or getting a tattoo. Both, probably.

I haven’t written in so long…I’m sorry! …No, that’s not an apology to you, it’s one to myself. How dare I let myself stop writing after I got a tattoo that says “write.” How. Dare. I.

You heard right, kids! Caps got tatted… The inside of my left wrist now says “write” in typewriter font. I got the tattoo almost 2 months ago, and have been meaning to blog about it ever since, but I’m kind of ridiculous and forgot/didn’t have time…

I think I ought to start out by saying that I am terrified of needles. Like, so scared that for a long time, whenever they drew my blood, they had to use a baby needle to make me feel better. Mind you, baby needles are barely smaller than adult needles, but somehow it made me feel that tiny bit better. Tiny bit.

So, obviously, in the span of one year, I’ve gotten my nose pierced and gotten a tattoo. Because I’m a masochist like that. “Hello, I would like a tattoo. Yes, stab me with a needle 50-3,000 times per minute. Yay!”

I’m pretty sure I almost threw up while Philadelphia Phil (yes, that is what he called himself. My tattoo artist is so much cooler than yours) worked on the tattoo. It felt like a million cat scratches over and over, and I’m a big wimp, and OH MY GOD NEEDLE. So that’s how that went down. My friend Kate was there with me and I’m surprised I didn’t squeeze her hand off. But I’m so glad I went through it all, because it meant a lot to me.

Writing is awesome and hey, why not, I’ve always wanted a tattoo. I purposefully got it on my left wrist so I could hide it with a watch if I have a grumpy boss who doesn’t like tattoos. Thinkin’ one step ahead, like a carpenter who makes stairs.

But actually, there’s quite the story behind my tattoo. I’ve explained my anxiety in a previous post, but basically, I have panic attacks and am almost constantly anxious, which is why if you’ve met me you’ll notice that I’m super fidgety. Anyway, I had a lot of problems with that about a year ago and was pretty useless; I couldn’t leave my room, barely got anything done, and definitely didn’t write. But writing had always been how I combated my anxiety before, and after reaching the lowest point of my life, my mom suggested that I start keeping a journal specifically related to my anxiety. It sounds strange, but it really helped. So now, I’m permanently reminded to let go of my anxiety by writing (I’m doing it right now, actually. I’ve been a tweaky mess all day).

It’s hard to explain it to people, so I usually just say, “I love to write,” which sounds kinda lame. I guess that’s true, too. But for real? The for real answer? I was screwed up, and writing saved me, as it always had and always will.

One more reason that I love all of you, dearest readers. You’ve rarely known it, but you’re like my therapy group. And I love you so much.

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The Ride


Please enjoy the scenery from my bike ride.

Tonight, I discovered that nothing beats a bike ride.

As many of you know, I love love love road biking. But lately, I haven’t really been riding. Like, at all. And there are lots of reasons for that. Okay, mainly just one.

I just finished my freshman year of college. I started out at my dream school, but then it turned out that the only place it was amazing was literally in my dreams. I seriously hated that college. And that’s to say nothing against the academics there, because I took a freaking fantastic linguistics class and learned a lot about Shakespeare, but it was just the wrong place for me. I didn’t feel like I fit in, and I had a really hard time making friends (which is kinda hilarious, because I’m not exactly shy).

And then there was the severe, debilitating anxiety that I experienced at that time. I started having panic attacks every night, and then I started having them in public places. For those of you who have never experienced this kind of anxiety, let me just tell you this: I have experienced nothing more terrifying than a panic attack in a dining hall. I — honest to God — thought that the people standing behind me in line were going to hurt me. I had to leave without eating, and I feared going back for several weeks because I connected my panic with that place. So I started staying in my room all the time, sleeping through classes, panicking at night, literally crying in the bathtub at 3 a.m.

I don’t say this to make people feel sorry for me, and I definitely don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. But this is the real story of my life, and it has shaped every action I’ve taken since that time. So knowing me is knowing this, and I haven’t talked much about it to anyone yet.

Anyway, I transferred to a school closer to home in January, joined a sorority and the school paper, and am so completely content there. That’s not to say that the anxiety is gone, because it definitely isn’t. I have the occasional panic attack, though with the help of a fabulous psychologist those are becoming few and far between. I still feel anxious almost all the time, to varying degrees, but it’s not as bad as it was last year. So I’d say I’m definitely improving.

What the hell does this have to do with biking, you ask? Well, I think when you start limiting your activities based on how much anxiety each one causes, you start going a little bit overboard and limiting everything. I don’t do much these days. Yeah, I read, blog occasionally, study for math placement tests (yuck), work around my house and babysit (cutest kids ever), etc, but I get so scared and anxious doing everyday activities that I worry about what will trigger the anxiety. And for some reason that means that I’ve pushed biking out of my life, even though you’d think I’d know that exercise outdoors would make me feel better.

Believe me, I do know. There are just a lot of barriers I still have to get past.

So getting back to the story…I took a long ride tonight. Today was a crappy day, and I was feeling all anxious and jittery, and those thoughts of, “Hey, just go upstairs and get in bed” were starting to jump into my head. Somehow, this time, I pushed them aside and hopped on my bike. Believe me, that ride was hard. I haven’t ridden in so long. But it was kinda like getting together with an old friend, one who never lets you down but also never lets you quit.

I rode 8 slow miles through the countryside, and by the time I was done I couldn’t really walk (and my butt still hurts). But somewhere between panting up a hill and riding past a pasture full of horses, I forgot all of that anxiety. Even if it just lasts a couple hours, I’m really glad I rode tonight.

Although…I can’t lie; the smell of horse poo is lingering in my nostrils still…

Author’s note: I would love to hear your stories of anxiety, depression, etc should you feel compelled to share them. I understand how sensitive this topic is, and rest assured that this will be a safe place to voice those stories. Or not. It’s up to you.
On a related note, please refrain from attacking any commenters or belittling their experiences. Thank you.