Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Guest Post: How is everyone acting so normal?!



“HOW IS EVERYONE ACTING SO NORMAL?!” I screamed, to everyone and no one, in my nearly empty subway car. Everything might have seemed normal to a naïve onlooker. Just like any other early evening commute home to Brooklyn on a Wednesday in early November. In fact, the sound of shouting or merely the presence of someone “acting crazy” isn’t particularly abnormal in the tunnels of the New York City subway system. Except that the seemingly crazy person shouting was me; and I don’t like shouting; and, at least up to that moment, my most insane moments in life—of which there have already been many—had taken place in far less public places. No, things were not normal, and I certainly wasn’t feeling normal.

It had all begun the previous night, nearly 24 hours prior to this episode on the subway, when news began to “break” that Donald Trump had been elected as the 45th president of the United States. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one feeling abnormal that day.  And my screams were just the beginning….

To my great shock, the other humans in my subway car barely reacted to my frantic outburst. Some glanced at me, at my tears. Tears that had been slowly flowing down my cheeks and chin long enough to form little marks of moisture on my pant legs. Tears that were accompanied here and there by audible whimpers of distress. My discomfort and fear were quickly escalating as my state of mind began rapidly unraveling.

Now might be a good time to inform my readers that all four of my grandparents fled from and successfully escaped Nazi Europe by various means and that I have, since childhood, been obsessed with the Holocaust. It also might help to know that prior to the evening this story takes place, I had already been hospitalized twice for severe suicidal depression and had for nearly six years been taking an ever-changing prescribed cocktail of psychoactive drugs.

As I continued my underground journey, extreme paranoia began to eclipse all fear and discomfort. At the stop closest to my apartment, I did not disembark. This trip could be my last experience on the subway, I thought; I might as well keep riding to the end and then take it back while I figure out how to GTFO of this mad country. And, thus, the terrifying inevitability of a third world war began to cloud my consciousness.

In this mounting state of panic, my sense of time and reality soon vanished as my plan to survive evolved. What was my plan and what did I need to survive, you might ask? Here is where my depressive obsession with and depth of knowledge about the Holocaust becomes significant. Temporarily out of touch with reality, I felt certain that Trump and his people might already have access to voting records and could already be plotting an organized retaliation against those who did not vote for him.

Drawing from the story of my maternal grandmother’s departure from Luxembourg on the evening of the day the Nazis invaded her country, I suddenly felt certain that I didn’t have time for one last joyride to the end of the subway line.  I must return home and pack a suitcase at once. Countless Holocaust books and memorial museums had taught me how quickly and lightly most Nazi victims were forced to pack. With this knowledge in mind, I began discarding any items I would no longer need onto the floor of the subway car. At least those things might be of use to others, I thought; and then, at the following stop, I exited onto Eastern Parkway.

I honestly cannot remember how exactly I got home from there, but I’m pretty certain that my determination to walk the few miles back to my apartment eventually subsided and I hopped in a yellow cab. At home, my mind continued to run wild as I attempted to pack my suitcase wisely, without concern for rational considerations like the fact that my passport had recently expired and ordering a new one was still lingering on my ever-growing “To Do” list.

For what felt like an eternity and was likely far less than an hour, I thought crazy thoughts and I packed for my big escape. As it turns out, the lines between a severe panic attack, mania, and psychosis are quite blurry firsthand. So I packed, and panicked; panicked, and packed…. Until, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the look of terror on my poor little puppy’s face. Seeing him seeing me freaking out beyond my wildest nightmares forced my body and, more importantly, my mind to freeze. I stopped packing, and to some degree I stopped panicking. Almost immediately, I began seeking help from my established human support network, which is where my history of mental illness blessed me with the existence of a personalized and memorized plan of action for moments of “crisis.”

Now, nearly two years later, after a shitload of self discovery, and hard work, and soul searching, and riding the waves of life’s ups and downs, I no longer subscribe to the belief that taking mind-altering prescription drugs benefit my state of mind.  It’s been well over a year since I tapered off antidepressants and nearly a year since I stopped relying on medication to help me sleep through the night. These days my medicine comes primarily from nature, yoga, dancing, mindfulness, and meditation; and I have never felt better.

Today, I can state with abundant clarity of mind and relative certainty that a third world war will not begin the day after this upcoming midterm election. There are just a few other truths with which I would like to conclude this story. First, people risked their lives and died in the political movements that expanded the rights of voters in this country, so please go out and exercise your right to vote on November 6th! Second, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi party) was elected to power in Germany nearly a decade before the start of WWII, so it is neither crazy nor unreasonable to be alarmed by the other-phobia, anti-media propaganda, and violent rhetoric of the current president and his party. Third, emotional support animals really can save the day—the puppy I got following a suicide attempt a few months earlier successfully thwarted the escape plan upon which I became fixated during my mental breakdown following the 2016 election. And, finally, regardless of the outcome of the 2018 election, if you’re not feeling “normal” know that you’re not the only one; and, maybe, come up with a plan for who you can call if the results have you feeling like you might need to scream out loud in front of a bunch of strangers in the subway.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

exposed//rebuild

i will never again hear the word "exposed"
without cringing
without feeling a sense of dread
without sensing my defense mechanism kick in


i run to relieve stress
i listen to loud music on my iphone
i run far past the rock sculptures
i keep going



i will never again approve message requests from strangers
without fear of being called a stupid cunt
without expecting to see my own nudes
accompanied by strangers telling me how i helped them cum


i run to escape
i leave my phone behind
it has become a device of torture
i stop when i see two rock sculptures that look like a couple



i will never again wonder whether i can cry for 8 hours straight
my privacy no longer exists
i've been repeatedly assaulted
by someone who loved me; by strangers


i run to move through my emotions
i look forward to the rock couple
they give me hope                            but
all of the rock sculptures have been dismantled by a vandal



i will never again doubt my resilience
my strength
my power
my ability to move forward


i run to prove my strength and determination
to myself
i run by the rock sculpture creator
he is rebuilding--the morning after destruction



he has not missed a beat
as i press play on a new playlist

Friday, April 6, 2018

otg (off the grid)


I’ve been off the grid for 5 days.  (I like to chant “OTG! OTG!”) I was a little afraid my life would fall apart while I was “gone,” and maybe it did a little bit: my gmail is apparently full and refusing emails, and who knows what else. I admit that makes me anxious; I’m not sure who might not try to re-contact me once I purge my email inbox.  But, I suppose I can look at the bright side: that also means I have a few less emails to wade through upon re-entry.

Before this experiment, I tried smaller ones: in the past couple of months I have regularly been doing two hours without my phone while going for a run and then stopping by the grocery store on the way home.  Not relying on my phone for entertainment while running and to remind me of my shopping list give me a sense of independence I didn’t know I missed.  And, when I get back from these little excursions, I often am not overly excited to look at my phone.

So, when I turned my phone off for the past several days, I expected to enjoy the freedom.  But I also thought I would miss the ease my phone offers: both emotionally and logistically. And I think I did at first.

In the first day or so, there were moments when I was waiting in line, or for a menu, where I instinctively wanted to grab my phone and scroll Instagram.  There were times when I got back to my room and automatically thought “oh I need to check and see who has texted since I was last with my phone.” There were instances when I wanted to know the answer to something quickly and wanted to immediately turn to Google.  And then sometimes I’d almost reach to carry my phone with me “just in case.”

After a day, though, these urges began to fade.  It was a relief to not have to carry my phone, or to have to check on its charge. The autonomy I had felt on my two-hour trial periods increased exponentially: I didn’t need my phone.  And, more notably, I didn’t want it.

I connected more deeply both with my best friend I was spending time with and the strangers I encountered each day; I listened to them more because I was never phone-distracted or even pre-phone-distracted (when I’m wondering what might be happening on my phone).  I noticed more things around me in the world because I was never ever looking down at a screen. And, when I wasn’t engaged with other people, I found myself meditating, which, over a few days, gave me a deeper sense of peace then I’ve been able to maintain for the past couple of months.  

I never felt bored.  I never felt lonely. 

As the end of the five days approached, I started to dread re-connecting. I tried not to waste any energy thinking about my worries, but I did brainstorm ways to stay as disconnected as possible once I returned. When I first started dating the man I married, in 2007, he used to leave his mobile phone at home during the day: he said it "lived" there.  I remember being angry at him; wanting to be able to text him to arrange things mid-day.  But now, in a totally different world, I see the appeal and plan to leave my phone at home as often as possible.  And so, now, as I am moments away from turning my phone back on, I find myself only slightly terrified of the other side. 

**24 hours later**

Turns out there was a disaster waiting for me.  But, like one of my best friends said, wasn't it better to have the space away for a few days, since the disaster would've been their either way?  (Yes.)  I'm pretty sure I was much better equipped to deal with it after my time away anyway.  

Oh, and you can email me again.  JIC you're one of those emails I missed! 😂

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

betrayal --> bloom

yesterday i got on the train at 148th and got out a few minutes later at 125th.  in the few moments that i was underground traveling about a mile, the weather changed.  i had walked on to the train amidst sun and i walked out into heavy rain.  and i felt betrayed.

that betrayal is an exact replica of another area of my life right now, where i experienced a lot of warmth and then, shortly afterward, an insane storm that left me slightly ravaged.

betrayal can leave you feeling detached from others, which is protective (from the person who betrayed your trust), but it is also harmful.  i.e. how can i move past this and continue fostering my relationships with others while feeling so detached?

i've had some version of this conversation with many many people over the past week.  i've also meditated and yoga-ed myself to exhaustion, journal-ed it, art-ed it, and had it invade my subconscious and dream spaces.  in other words, i've thought about it a little bit.

i've practiced several techniques of severing energetic ties, practicing forgiveness and compassion, and letting myself sit with my emotions, even the detached ones.  overall i feel calm; i feel like i've processed.  and i can see that it is working: as walking and conducting one of the meditations, a woman who was screaming and cursing into her phone as rushing down a busy NYC street stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me.  she smiled, saying "you look nice." i felt her energy shift just as i keep re-directing my own.

but then there are tiny, seemingly innocuous little things throughout my day that trigger me, letting me know that i need to continue the process.  to continue to trust; to continue to build; to continue to bloom.  because really, isn't that what i naturally have to do? my parents gave me a name, a birthright, that seemingly demands it.

yesterday in yoga felipe read us a portion of this quote by marianne williamson that further sparked my desire to stay on this path of blossoming:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
who am i not to be in full bloom?

despite the weather, despite the betrayals, who are you not to be?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

imprinting myself

in 2018, i'm being wholeheartedly myself.  imprinting myself inwardly and outwardly. being fully truthful with myself and those around me. 

and, as part of my "fuck the patriarchy" or maybe "fuck that old eating disordered self" or more likely "fuck YES i'm living my life FULLY!," i turned off my fitness tracking on my iphone. i even took a #nomakeupselfie of myself doing it as proof.

i turned it off the afternoon of jan 2.  i had told myself to turn it off 100 times, and then finally set the date of jan 1 as a goal, saying to myself "it's ok to review your full year of exercise one more time."

of course i didn't need to do that.  i've kept track of my exercise in one form or another since i was 10.  did i really need to look at some evidence that i've beaten myself up and treated myself poorly ONE MORE TIME?  no.

and actually i didn't look at it.  i danced all day on jan 1.  it wasn't until i did a customary mileage check tuesday afternoon that i realized i hadn't turned it off yet.  and so, CLICK. 

it felt HELLA scary to turn off the fitness tracking.  "how will i know if i have run enough? how will i know if i have burned enough calories? isn't it just nice to know that i'm being healthy?" my eating disordered voice screamed excuses in the back of my mind as i calmly replied, "you don't need this to be happy. in fact, this is blocking your full expression of happiness."

(yes, i legit said those things to myself.)  and, after i told myself that, i struggled to believe it.  i kept thinking i would turn it back on.  i didn't know how it would feel to be totally rid of any form of tracking.  this action my phone had been taking on its own seemed safe; it wasn't something i was actively doing, so i had convinced myself it was an "ok" behavior.

but, realistically, i should have known how it would feel.  because EVERY SINGLE TIME i shed an eating disordered behavior, i feel like i'm walking on air. i feel lighter.  i feel happier.  i feel my true inner self imprinting itself into the world around me; i become more unafraid.

since i turned off my fitness tracking yesterday: i left my phone at my desk while walking to the printer; i left my phone in my apartment while walking to the garbage room (yes these microscopic portions of my mileage were not to be left uncounted); i left my phone charging while doing a workout; i didn't feel the urge to check and re-check my mileage instead of focusing on other things;

and i felt like i could more fully disconnect from my phone.  it lost its specialness, its attachment i had embedded somewhere between the battery and the phone shell.

AND, OH. MY. GOD. do you know how good that feels?  how good i feel?  i taught a yoga class this morning and i felt the freedom pouring out in my teaching.  afterward, a regular student told me "i love your classes; they're so different than any other class i go to" and i felt my happiness bubble. i felt that confirmation of my truths in her words.

IMPRINT: my body can regulate itself; i can trust this amazing body my soul calls home.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

what eating disorder?

a week ago i was talking to someone about the history of my eating disorder. even though my eating disorder is not as impactful as it once was, there are remnants of it that still contribute to how i respond to things.

the person i was talking to wanted to know when the last time i had thrown up was, and i said that throwing up was only a small piece of my eating disorder; my eating disorder has multiple layers to it. the most recent layer i've pulled back was calorie-counting, and that was no small feat. i also mentioned that relaxing my strictness around exercise was (probably) the last layer i needed to work on... and that i didn't know that i wanted/needed to work on it.

is it so bad that i work out every day? that i prioritize it?  that i have to run before i leave for work for the day?  that i feel like i need to workout to deserve the food i eat?

later that night, i thought more about what i had said, and reflected on earlier layers of my eating disorder that i've since discarded.  things i used to think were "fine" include: calorie counting; recording all my food and exercise; constant excessive exercise; minimal binge/purge sessions; binging but just exercising off the calories (instead of throwing up); and extreme calorie restriction. because all of those things weren't as bad as binging and purging every day (or several times a day).

each time i shed a layer of the eating disorder, i am more accepting of the layer under it, thinking that i can live with this lesser version of my eating disorder.

that night, as i thought about what i had said, i remembered a few days before when i accepted an invitation to help a friend with her kids on a road trip this weekend. my only bartering chip had been to ask for time to run/yoga each morning. and i thought, "why did i have to say that? was that what was really most important to me?" 

because i'm scared that sometimes exercise is the most important thing to me, here i am, saying that i don't want it to dictate my life.

i don't want to stop exercising regularly; i want to live a healthy life that involves regular exercise but that doesn't revolve around it, so i brainstormed with my art therapist about what a good action step would be.  she said that i should "listen to my body, and workout when i needed to."

i couldn't help it; i laughed out loud when she said that. i was laughing hysterically, thinking, "that would never work!"  but, as i was laughing, i realized that when people used to say that i should listen to my body, and eat when i was hungry, i had also laughed, thinking that was impossible.

but now that's what i do. 

i used to ignore my body's cues around food, hit the "control" button and override what it was telling me. and now, i eat when i'm hungry.  i eat what i think my body needs.

therefore, i know that this new hurdle is also surmountable.  so i committed: i would listen to my body about when it needed activity instead of setting rules around what must happen.

this weekend, that's what i did.  not only did i chill the fuck out, but i didn't force myself to restrict sleep and get up super early for workout time; i didn't demand time to exercise; i didn't freak out about getting "enough" working out in; i wasn't thinking about my workout while spending time with the girls. 

oh.  and i felt great.       
***everything is possible***

Sunday, October 29, 2017

evolve with me

everyone knows that dating someone who is on a completely different life trajectory won't work: there has to be a basic underpinning in common to really build a life together.

as i move through my life, the basis of what that is has changed. earlier on it was most important to me to have someone who had the same educational aspirations. previously it has also been important to me to build a life with a runner or person who was into fitness. while both of those things still feature on a "that'd be nice to have a in a partner" list, there's something else that has replaced my non-negotiable when referring to the person i want to build my life with.

i want a partner who is a truth-seeker, who wants to evolve.


there are little ways that's kept playing as important to me: i notice i'm more drawn to people who practice yoga and meditation; i am turned on by someone who has chosen to stop using excessive drugs and alcohol in their life because they don't want or need the escapism; i follow my intuition toward events that are geared toward people that share these interests.

i kind of thought this was one of those "that'd be nice" items, but it has begun to scream its importance when i try to ignore it.

someone i've been dating had chosen to stop drinking with me, and while they hadn't started following a spiritual path, i was impressed and inspired by their commitment. until the dedication vanished overnight: they said their motivation was only driven by me and in time we had spent apart, the desire to prioritize non-use had waned and seemingly entirely disappeared.

their sharp change in attitude left me feeling deflated, and much more than i expected. i felt the disappointment magnify the more i thought about why it was important to me. it's not support in my decisions i want, it's a full and present life co-producer i yearn for.

i don't expect someone who doesn't make mistakes; it's impossible not to trip along the way. but it's the design behind the life path that matters to me. and, so that i can attract that in my life, i'm stating my intention clearly and with purpose.

i want someone who is present, who isn't afraid to be present, and who craves a full connection with both me and the world around them. i want someone who fully embodies the highest version of themselves because that's what they want for their life.