confessions of an “unfit” mind.

As one chapter of my life comes to a close, it’s important for me to reflect – especially in going forward. By leaps and bounds, I’m different than I was this time last year. Hell, I’m different than I was 3 months ago. I’m forever evolving, forever changing and I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to embrace change as an opportunity, a chance to make something better, to view change as a friend.

Unlike blog posts prior, this post is not meant to be coherent – nor is it meant to be a piece of scholarly magnitude. This post, however, will be thoughtful. Full of soul. A stream of consciousness from a mind who is defined by society as unwell.

I am unwell – but for the last few years, I’ve been on a journey of rediscovery to be okay with that. Despite immense stigma from society’s norms, I’m learning that it’s okay to not be okay. This post may turn into my life story, it may not – all I’d like to express is gratitude, if you continue to read towards the end. This is not intended to be a sob story or anything remotely close to it.

I’m writing this as a release of this weight I have on my shoulders, around my ankles and in my spirit as I start this new chapter in my life. As a painfully private person, it’s taken me a lot of time to find the gumption to write all of this down and share for the world to see.

I’ve had this weird fear ever since I was young that if I wrote every bit of my consciousness down on paper or on a forum like this, it’ll change the outside perception of me. A perception I’ve worked nearly endlessly to curate.

But first, a little back story. Some context. Some may even be surprised to read this, if they choose to.

I have been battling mental illness for the majority of my life. PTSD, anxiety and depression to be specific. It’s something I’m a strong awareness advocate for, since I know first hand just how much it can impact and impair someone’s life.

Death of a parent at a young age can adversely affect someone’s upbringing. It did with mine, even if I didn’t know my dad all that well. 3 years at most – and most memories are fuzzy or scattered. Like polaroids in random drawers. It’s not like a lot people remember things in vivid detail from when they were 6 anyway. I find myself often puzzled about missing what I don’t know. Or rather, who I didn’t know.

However, life decided that maybe, just maybe that wasn’t enough to test how far it could stretch a small New Mexican girl from a rural community of 200. Let’s see how far we can push her, bend her, bruise her spirit.

Shortly after my dad’s passing, my concern for my mother’s wellbeing turned from loving worry to something dark, distorted and consuming. I needed to know where she was at all times. If I spent too much time or attention on the TV and she wasn’t where I seen her last, I would internally hate myself for not paying more attention to her whereabouts. If she told me where she was going, whether it be to the laundromat, the grocery store or anywhere in between, my mind would make up its own estimate on how long each venture would take. Lord forbid if she took longer than that.

Red flags would go up and the worst possible scenarios would flood my logic. It didn’t help that we didn’t live in the best neighborhood either, so the ideas weren’t completely implausible. I was waiting for the day that life would throw me another curveball and not send her back. To me, it wasn’t so out of the question, especially with where my luck would take my life next.

In turn, that fear festered as the year went on. It wasn’t enough to worry about her well being when she stepped out of the house – but it soon morphed into fear for her well being in my own home. Domestic violence is real. Emotional abuse is real. Choices were made. But sometimes, signs like that aren’t readily shown. Intentionally or not.

Being frozen in fear while lying in bed is real.

Being afraid each time the phone rings is real.

Being forced to hold these things in as secrets is real.

Thoughts of running away and never coming back are real.

All while smiling and none is the wiser.

My abuser still hasn’t apologized and I don’t think he ever will. I don’t even think he knows what he did wrong – or how his actions made me fear even the slightest bit of confrontation, even to this day. How drug use and his conscious choices made an indelible mark on my childhood. How arguments and yelling matches between human beings make me want to crawl out of my skin and retreat within myself.

School, a place where I could likely escape this environment, wasn’t filled with much kinder faces either. Often misunderstood, life turned into a game of “rock and a hard place”. School on one hand, was a place where people made sure to let me know I didn’t belong – while home made me feel just as isolated.

My life for the most part of 22 years has revolved around fear. And a great amount of loneliness.

So, a comment I get lately is how people can be so astounded at my optimism and overall cheery disposition.

I simply boil it down to this: Because I know immense sadness, I’m able to appreciate genuine joy. Because I know incredible cruelty, I can’t stress the importance of kindness. I would never wish anyone to feel an ounce of the lows I’ve felt and I will go to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen, especially to people that I care about. My loyalty to those I care about runs deep – and a great challenge I’ve encountered is having to be okay with a lack of reciprocation. I am not kind for the sake of reciprocation and I never will be.

Despite making great progress in terms of managing my mental illness, I’ve realized it’s not something that goes away like a cold. You can’t be sick one moment, take some medicine and be cured. It’s chronic. But it’s manageable. Every day, as soon as I open my eyes, I have to make a conscious choice to not let my demons in. They knock every day, pushing and wiggling at the door knob, waiting for me to let up off the door and barge right back in.

For 4 years of my life, I let them do just that. In fact, I did more. I not only let them inside but I let them take up space on my couch and eat all of my food, all rent-free. I didn’t even ask them to get a job.

Analogies aside, it was dangerously easy to slip into bad habits. It was comfortable to sink into my own darkness and self-loathing. Simple tasks like showering, eating more than just hot pockets and going outside once every day were spectacles. Limited attractions. Luxuries.  Simply put, I didn’t take care of myself because when I looked at the person in the mirror, I didn’t like the person staring back.

I’ve heard the phrase “people fear what they don’t know” and I felt that exact way about myself. I didn’t know who I was. All I knew was that I was someone who was damaged, who had been through trial by fire and that was not a perception I was happy with. I only identified with the darkness, never the light.

In comes the magic of the internet.

There’s a certain allure that comes with anonymity. You can be whoever you want to be on the internet. Since my self-loathing ran deep, the solution clearly was to be someone else. It was my self-medication of choice. And someone else I was – donning several hats and aliases over the course of 4 years. It felt good. It felt safe. I didn’t have to be this person who held more baggage than a United connecting flight. I could be someone who had a lot of friends, who was likable, who was happy. I could be someone who was content, even if it wasn’t real.

In all forms, I was a validation vampire. I felt like I needed it as badly as I needed to breathe. I was a fiend for approval and I sought it out from the worst of dealers, no matter where it came from. During that time, I met genuinely good people – but I also met the worst of people. People who had the same toxic mentality as me.

Co-dependence on these people across the screen, in its gritty, ugly form, was just that. Ugly.

Depression isn’t just your typical sadness or blue nature. It can be indifference disguised by a smile.

In that period of my life, I was hollow. I was numb. I didn’t feel anything but a void – and it made its emptiness felt by the shallowness of my breath or the deep, slow thumps of my heart in my chest. A constant feeling of a tide washing over me, threatening to drown me where I stood.

I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. I wasn’t concerned about my own mortality but I never had the thought to physically hurt myself. For that, I’m grateful. It was more of “Well, if I don’t wake up tomorrow, oh well.”

It’s because of this, today I appreciate the small things and beauties of life that much more. A small sprinkle of rain on my face. The first sip of a really good cup of coffee. A hug from a friend.

I know what it’s like to not want to live. So now, I’m making a conscious effort to truly do so, in the smallest of actions.

But to this day, I still fear a lot. I fear loss. I fear pain.

I fear feeling too much. Or feeling too little.

I fear making people I care about disappointed in me.

I fear relationships – because anxiety wouldn’t allow me to comprehend the thought of someone having any kind of reciprocated feelings towards me. I will always be the one who loves or gives more.

I fear the people I care about having an indifference of feeling towards me, whether it be platonic or romantic.

I fear falling back into old habits, even if they’re seductive. Even if they’re easy and familiar.

I fear depending on people or asking for help, because I don’t want to bother them or I question their true intentions. I hate being a burden.

And as I live and breathe each day, I can’t help but wonder – what must it be like to feel and express normal human emotion? To have an adequate, appropriately working fight-or-flight response?

I couldn’t name the times when I’ve yearned for that.

Every day, I fight my feelings of inadequacy. For the longest time, I’ve never felt like I’m enough in any regard. It’s a big reason why I often feel so grateful when I’m invited or included to the smallest things. All in the details.

As with any prolonged battle, it’s tiring. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. And sometimes, the guard that keeps me level-headed can crack.

We all seek understanding. That’s a common bond we have as human beings. We all may not want love, riches or glory – but we all want to be understood for who we are.

If anyone ever sees me crack, seemingly without rhyme or reason, I promise you there is always a reason. Whether it be a small wear in my armor upon battle after battle or from a deft, large blow, I hope you won’t judge me. I don’t like to show negative emotions often, as I’ve always associated the notion with weakness or as a problem. I seen it as being dramatic, rather than being human. It’s my hope to change that perception, not only within myself but if that were to ever be carried by anyone who might see me in that condition. I hate that sometimes I feel the need to do something drastic or have something terrible happen to me in order to get the affection and validation I crave. I’m aware that’s incredibly unhealthy. It’s something I’m proactive and been proactive in changing. It’s a process.

When I hear the question “What do you want to do with your life?”, my answer is simple. I want to inspire people. I want to give them hope. I want to be a key example that there is still indeed good in this world. And I’m planning to do it the only way I know how, by inspiring others the way others have inspired me. Those role models whom I look up to, reveal themselves candidly in a Herculean attempt to reach out and make sure that people in the same boat don’t feel that pain. Essentially, they are taking an a subtly emotional (while yet unintentional) bullet for those who feel so intensely.

If you’ve read this far and you are feeling a similar weight within your soul, I hope knowing that you’re not alone has helped lifted some of that weight off you, just as writing this has done for me.

May we continue fighting the good fight. May we continue to do good for ourselves and for others. May we prosper, wherever this life decides to take us.

I am not strong despite my challenges. I am strong in spite of them.


 

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futurae.

#76: Make a post about future plans – Dreaming of being a world-class analyst or an entrepreneur in five years time? Looking to start studies at a university? Write the plans down; it’s interesting to read them later on, and it gives new ideas to other people as well.

After the whirlwind of the last few months, finding perspective and a moment to breathe has been a challenge all on its own. From here on out, it’s only up. Upon graduation from wrestling school, there’s been a consistent question in the back of my mind: What now?

There’s a buffet of options available to me and at the risk of sounding cliche, I’m armed with a limitlessness that I’ve never had before.

Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who not only share the same passion as I do – but encourage me to be better every single day.

The world of independent professional wrestling is much like living in the world as a traveling punk band. My roommates and I pack a car every weekend and drive 3+ hours to any town in hopes of being able to perform. The food is cheap. The crowds are raucous. The highways are long. But that’s exactly how we like it.

In January of this year, I got my first taste of road life. A quick hour trip to a town south of the state. A local VFW housed the wrestling ring while locals with all shapes and sizes came to watch the spectacle. Cheap pizza was had after. On the drive back, I knew this was exactly what I wanted with my life. Adventure. Thrill. I was more determined than ever to make this my reality.

Fast forward to present day? My weekends are spent doing just that. As The Alchemist Paulo Coelho once said, “Fight for your dreams and your dreams will fight for you.”

As I’ve accomplished my short term goal of completing wrestling school, my new goal is to begin making the moves necessary to create a career out of what I’ve learned. I’m unique, I’m hungry and I have the drive to succeed.

Through my journey, the one thing that has touched me most is the support and love I’ve received from people across the spectrum: friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers.

On a website where I can send and receive anonymous messages, I checked into my inbox and found this series of messages from a total stranger, even after our conversation ended.

Pls

To say I was absolutely taken aback would have been the world’s biggest understatement.

With all of this love, support and resource – there is no stopping me in pursuit of my next goal. I’ve got all the tools – all that’s needed is my fearless action going forward. I’m putting this list together as a concrete reminder of what’s left to do by the end of this year. Decide. Commit. Succeed.

Goal #1: Compete in my first singles match.
Goal #2: Perform in front of a crowd in my home state.
Goal #3: Work with someone experienced and better than I.

Your move, 2017. I won’t settle for anything less.

animus.

With the wide-spread use of the internet and mass media, how we obtain our news and information is drastically different than it was 10 years ago. In the same thought, the way we seek out our entertainment is no different. Netflix and Hulu are at the cusp of innovation, with 110 million people subscribed from this past year alone. Long gone are the days where cable television held a stronghold on a monopoly of influence with the American public. With this audience tuning into streaming services at a growing rate, comes new opportunities to present fresh ideas that may never have come to fruition on standard TV.

In recent years, few issues have been brought to the surface like the problem surrounding the stigmatization of mental illness. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some degree of mental illness every year, according to a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

13 Reasons Why”, a Netflix original, is the newest binge-worthy series to invade our timelines, tweets and Instagram feeds. And with good reason. The subject manner is controversial at first glance: A 16-year-old commits suicide and leaves behind tapes to all those who influenced her decision to take her own life.

Critics on both ends of the spectrum praise it for further opening up a dialog around the topic of mental illness and the epidemic among young people but others refuse to support the show for perpetuating a dangerous ideal of suicide fantasies.
As someone who’s struggled with mental illness for a better part of 21 years, the importance of destigmatizing discussion cannot be understated. Yet, the trend of glamourizing various illness as a “quirk” alongside thick-rimmed glasses or snorting laughter is also unhelpful. There needs to be a balance.

While Netflix’s platform doesn’t have a rating system like traditional TV, the measuring stick of its success can be seen from the oldest form of advertising: word of mouth. According to an article from Variety, “13 Reasons Why” has been the most tweeted about show of 2017 thus far, with 11 million tweets on the platform and counting.

When it comes down to it, education and a showcase in a real way are essential to understanding topic of mental illness. Getting help and counseling has been an integral source for my own strength and why I’m able to pursue dreams of my own. From this experience, it’s how I’m optimistic anyone can do the same. Even you, reading this right now. Stay strong.


Sources:

Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Is Most Tweeted About Show of 2017 (EXCLUSIVE)

http://www.newsweek.com/nearly-1-5-americans-suffer-mental-illness-each-year-230608

http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/netflix_statistics-facts/

http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/04/media/hulu-subscribers-cable-bundle/

 

 

quod ubique instinctu.

‘Inspiration is everywhere.’

The beautiful thing about inspiration is its fluidity. It ebbs and flows; it recedes and rises. While intangible, it lends itself with mystique and awe. The same virtues apply to inspiration on the internet.

Just like this blog seeks to inspire and reflect, so do these – in their own unique fashions.


Alden Tan
Alden Tan
http://alden-tan.com

Alden Tan is a 30-year-old breakdancer from Singpore. At first glance, you wouldn’t expect him to be someone who dishes out any kind of self-help or motivation but in an extremely blunt fashion, he manages to make it his best strength. Through struggle and genuine life experience, Tan offers help the way you’d want your best friend to – with honest, tough love. He doesn’t hold back and doesn’t beat around the bush with an occasional (or two) expletive slipping in.

The Art of Non-Conformity
Chris Guillebeau
http://chrisguillebeau.com/

Having traveled to every country in the world before his 35th birthday, Chris Guillebeau offers a perspective on life that emphasizes unorthodox thought and a free spirit. He’s aware that while many may agree with him, he writes with an understanding in tone to those that may not. While different in school of thought, he is the farthest thing from “my way or the highway”. Key themes in his blog include taking pride in what you do, growth through self-sustaining happiness and crafting various vantage points through the eyes of different cultures.

Un-Copied Life
Kim Thirion
http://uncopiedlife.blogspot.com

Even if the blog hasn’t been updated since 2013, the message Thirion spreads is still as resonant today: Make a choice. Commit to it. After years of living to appease all the people in her life, Kim set out on a journey to be her most authentic self. Her writings are a reflection of that and with an encouraging flair, she encourages her readers to follow that same example. Self-acceptance, unapologetic fearlessness and motivated direction are all themes that streamline the content on this blog.

 

5 Discoveries I Made After Taking a Gamble On Myself

Often times, either consciously or subconsciously, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We are so much more capable than we know and it can take certain circumstances to realize that. After dropping everything and everyone I knew to follow a once-in-a-lifetime dream with 14 other strangers from all over the country, there’s so much I’ve learned since around this time last year.

1. The human body is surprisingly durable.

giphy

On the first day of my endeavor, it was established as an evening to weed out those who wanted to be there for the right reasons – and who didn’t. As a serious opportunity, each of us needed to exhibit the same seriousness. 5 hours of intense Crossfit later, I never knew the true definition of the phrase “mind over matter” until that very night. Going through that, I realized no matter the task in front of you, if you truly want something bad enough, you can not only achieve it but you can live to fight another day and the day after that.

2. People can be really supportive.

epic-hugs-toy-story

With the events running rampant in today’s news, it can be easy to lose faith in humanity. Upon my arrival, I wasn’t cynical – but weary. I didn’t expect anything from my fellow classmates but I certainly hoped at bare minimum that they’d be civil. After all, we were there for the same opportunity and there was no reason to step on eachother’s toes. 11 weeks later, I can say this group of extraordinary people have celebrated with me in my success and picked me up during my failures. People from Alaska to California to Maryland and everywhere in between. 11 weeks ago, these people were just strangers with the same aspirations. Don’t doubt the kindness of others.

3. Success isn’t exclusive.

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Growing up under the poverty line in a rural New Mexico town of barely 250 people, I associated the idea of success with three different kinds of people: the beautiful, the wealthy or the exceptionally talented. In my mind, there was a reason those people were successful and there was a reason people were normal, like me. After all, I was none of those things. It took having this experience to realize that despite that notion, I too am capable of having success. Even if I am only a 4’9″ female of color from a low-income neighborhood, I can make my life what ever I want it to be. The only thing that can get in my way is me.

4. Loyalty is worth more than gold.

tenor

Over the course of my life, friendship has never been my forte. I valued quantity over quality and it took a lot of trial and error with people who had ulterior motives, bad intentions and toxic spirits to understand the value of a good friend. In this journey I opted to take, I knew it wouldn’t be easy without a good support system. I couldn’t begin to count the times I’ve called my friends elated in my small successes or momentarily defeated in my temporary setbacks. I appreciated them, not just for their ear, but for them as human beings. I knew these people didn’t relish in my failures nor would they go off and tell anyone who would listen either. If you have a trusted, loyal friend in your life, value them. Because they can push you to be your very best.

5. Taking care of yourself is key.

selfhugginginpublic

Sounds obvious enough, right? This goes beyond the minimum. Throughout my entire journey here, an important piece of my sanity has been the moments where I’ve taken time to truly care for myself. Whether it be an evening where I take a bath with my favorite New Mexico candle or indulging in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, taking the time to really appreciate where I am and treat myself. I’m busy nearly 6 days out of the week – so the little thing like that really make me appreciate them that much more. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.

 

passio.

photo-feb-25-4-17-38-pmWrestleMania 32 invades the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX for a night of spectacle, awe and extravagance, breaking the venue’s attendance record. Akin to the Super Bowl, this is sports entertainment’s biggest night. (Photo by MariaElena Martinez.)

You open your eyes for a new day. You might see your ceiling, your pillow or your window. It’s not just another reappearance from the sun. It’s a brand new opportunity, tied with a sunny bow and placed right at your bedside.

Much like belly buttons, we all have something that makes us tick. The one thing that ignites within our being and pushes us to strive towards every day. It could be physical, like your family or your significant other – or it can be an abstract concept like a dream or a goal.

Mine is unorthodox. My reason for continuing to better myself every day is simply because of pro wrestling.

Did I catch you off guard yet?

For me, it goes beyond being a simple form of entertainment or a way to pass time. It’s grown into a full blown passion. I want to succeed in this business more than I want to breathe and every one of my priorities correlates with how I can be successful in this particular industry.

In a world of indifference, it’s remarkable to be passionate. While your passion may not be the same as mine, a passion comes to mind nonetheless – if you’ve found it, at least.

11205967_950232671675398_1395708516414642752_n
Enthusiasm and excitement seeps from a fan as she meets WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose at Wrestlemania Axxess on March 29, 2015. (Photo Credit by World Wrestling Entertainment)

It’s not every day you get to meet one of the people who inspires your passion. I got to do that and in very clumsy fashion, I got to thank him for it. My happy place is 16×16 ring and because people like him are fearless in their pursuits, it allows me the courage to do the same.

Even if your passion doesn’t rely on glamour or grandeur, it’s equally as noble and valid. Find what your love and don’t settle. Chase what makes your heart race that much faster and don’t let go of it. The gamble is worth more than its weight in gold and the purest drugs can’t compare to the high you’ll receive.

An elderly man once told me, “Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.”

positivum;

In times of great difficulty and uncertainty, mindset is key. To quote Lee Atwater, “Perception is reality.”

At the beginning of each day, we all have an opportunity for a clean slate. We can choose any direction that we’d like the day to take and it all starts with our outlook.

PMA, or Positive Mental Attitude, is a concept that encourages optimism, courage and initiative  developed by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.

Under the branch of positive psychology, PMA doesn’t ignore or dismiss the fact that defeatism and negative events happen in the world – but rather seeks to oppose and overcome these forces by means of an acute internal focus. Our internal energy has the power to affect our external atmosphere. PMA focuses on the present and what we can control. Our nagging negativity focuses on things we can’t, thoughts either in the past or in the future.

Drake Wuertz, a former independent professional wrestler and avid PMA advocate, spoke on what his idea of PMA was as a guest on The Kevin Gill Show in 2014.

“There are never any bad days. Just bad minutes,” said Wuertz.

PMA can be executed by anyone, in any situation, at any time. Extravagant action or epiphany aren’t necessary ingredients. It all begins with a definitive thought and genuine belief that anything is possible. It has to come from within.

Kickstarting a mindful PMA habit is a lot simpler than most would imagine, as well. Start with practicing daily gratitude. Pick a time where you can collect your thoughts and have a moment to really think about all the things you’re grateful for. Writing them down can also be helpful with visualization.

Negativity, much like a cancer, can spread if poked and prodded. If we continue to stoke the fire of collective negativity by spending time with equally negative people, it’s difficult to break that cycle. Practicing PMA involves elements of courage, so having the strength to create boundaries between you and people who aren’t willing to make that change may be necessary.

PMA has been essential for my journey thus far, especially when it comes to doing one thing every day that absolutely terrifies me. I fully believe it can do the same for you.