The Road to Biploar Diagnosis

The reality tends to ground you. Wrapping my thoughts around it. Am I angered? Hurt? Mislead? How long.......

It makes more sense the longer it lingers, yet it silences me with embarrassment, the answers that I've been looking for without searching. 

First it was behaviors: first grade. Sitting in the school nurse's office, my mother beside me in a separate chair, my hands out in front of me on the desk. We were analyzing the bleeding and pussing sides of my fingernails, a habit that no one was proving successful in breaking me of. Try Tabasco sauce? She doesn't bite them though, just picks at them. Nervous habits aka the first sign of how severe my anxiety was. 

Then it was depression: middle school. Marking my skin with a blade and watching the color seep from its protection. Sometimes that's the only reason why I did it, to watch my pain instead of feel it. My parents hid everything, but they didn't know about the cheap metal bracelets that I had received for Christmas one year, how easily they snapped in half and created a jagged blade made for carving. They found those too eventually. 

The rape didn't help: junior year, age sixteen. 

What I thought was the final diagnosis: my anxiety. Two ER admittance in under two months, unexplained pain throughout my body and physically feeling like I was getting sicker...I found myself sitting in a tiny doctor's office. She was holding my test results, all of them. The blood work, the ultrasounds, the EKGs. Her face was almost sadder than mine, for a minute. I was not ready to accept it. Your tests came back normal McKenzie...your brain is a very powerful tool, and it is making you sick. I wanted so badly to be told it was different, something fixable, something that could be removed. I walked out with three pages of therapists' contact information and a note about this being my final warning to seek help. They were demanding it of me now. 

The roller-coaster to now: bipolar diagnosis and treatment. My parents have reserved the comment of my unpredictability since I was a child; my moods were dangerous. A childhood friend of ten years, commenting the same aspect about me: always having to tip toe around what mood I might be in. Then it came from the lips of my ex partner. Fine. FINE. Maybe it's time....

Where to go from here: I am not surprised. It makes more sense the longer that I reflect on my years. Am I going to lose my creative process? Will I stop chasing such highs and stabilize? Will the lows finally not feel like the depths? Why now. Maybe there are answers still coming, of course there has to be. Why does fear rippled through me now? Maybe now I won't get as mad and shut down over a missed turn on the way home from a new place...

Processing

Numbness overcomes with great speed, I lost the feeling in my fingertips when I dialed your number for the first time since high school. 

You had looked right through me. I didn't realize that it had been the accumulation of almost ten years of friendship. 

After everything, this was the payout. 

I listened, I choked on the tears that began to flee as I found myself squandering in apologies for instances that I had never been told about. I listened to the words, "you" drip from your lips with vengeance and a forgivness that you claim to have settled your debts with. 

My rape was just a statistic to you now. Confirming the lack of emotion you had seven years ago, standing in front of me with news that we both couldn't wrap our heads around. All I wanted was for you to hold me, to let me cry, to make the reality seem a little more real. All we did was stare at each other before I couldn't look at anything but the ground. We both didn't know. 

In the midst of the most toxic relationship I've encountered, you decided it was time to forgive me, and I met your words with anger and emotion, drunk in the middle of the day, sitting on a couch in a house that was supposed to feel like home. 

I didn't ask about freshman year. You didn't ask about the rape. I never asked about your anxiety. You never let me own the disease that's riddled me since birth. You wanted it all to be yours. 

I gave you the sorry's that you deserved. You gave me more blame in return. I was trying to move forward but you decided to remain in a time that we both did not know the people we were becoming. 

You've moved on you say, so have I. Until it's nightfall, and I am crawling into bed, racking my brain for why I became nothing to you. Until it's morning, and my dreams have been cluttered with unanswered questions, robbed of sleep. 

I turned to my closest friend; in my first breath I apologized to her for who I am and she wondered in response, you're just a very independent, free spirited person and that for us to be good friends I need to not smother and nit pick stuff like that. 

My heart wept. Ten years of friendship that you had the final say on but what I finally feel liberated from. Maybe I needed for you to hate me all along, maybe it would have exposed you to be just like the girls we grew up with in high school, that you so desperately wanted to be apart of but you had me instead as a friend. 

Once again, you've taught me one of the greatest things to know about myself. Maybe now, your name will be just a memory, maybe now the memories can finally fade into the hole they belong in. For now, now I am able to give myself to people who deserve these parts of me. 

For our friends that remain lost in translation, maybe they too will have closure on a friendship that they swore would never see the end of its days. I have admitted to my faults, may you find the courage to admit yours too. 

 

 

For Emma

Sometimes,

the morning drive

carries a windshield 

full of misplaced thoughts

Maybe I was not kind enough 

to you

or to myself

Sometimes,

my mind is riddled

with the replay of memories

in the attempts of

cutting them free

from the weight of burden. 

Maybe in the fainting years

they will flee,

you and I,

like the ash from a wildfire. 

The Forgiveness You've Begged For

In a notebook, on the last page, the words sprawled across the page read, 

"maybe if you write their name enough, it will write them out of existence: your name"

I wanted to believe my own words, to rid my mouth of the taste that the two of yours brought me. 

There will always be the folks who only saw your side of everything, accepting that has been almost harder than forgiving you. It's exhausting trying to expose a soul for the light it doesn't bring to the world, begging it to just give in to kindness instead. 

More often than not, my questions drain into the universe, trying to understand why our paths crossed, laced with thorns and gasoline, ready for ignition. Nothing has tasted more like poison bleeding on my tongue than the memory of you. 

I told my side, you said it was riddled with inaccuracy, and my head shook with the understanding that change was not something you were capable of; people don't soften over night, people don't soften over days or months, they soften when they're present under the blanket of genuine connection. 

In the years of understanding, I have been told too often that god, whatever or whoever that may be, gives his toughest warriors the hardest battles. I sank to the depths of responsibility for a life that felt ruined and wasted as I watched you deplete me with each passing hour of everyday. I couldn't fight this one for myself, it was all that I ever could feel or remember when I thought about leaving. 

But my reward has been sweet. It has been soft, kind, and luminous. It has been understanding and patient, it has been unconditional. It has been worth the journey, the wait, the misunderstandings, and the burdens. It was worth experiencing you to comprehend what love is supposed to feel, look, breathe, and live like. 

For that alone, I release you, your memory, our past. But you will live in infamy on the pages of the book that young girls will read, reminding them to wait for a love that does not hurt them.   

s.b. may this be your final chapter in the lessons I hope you learned

Today

Today is the day

forgiveness swelling in my veins

it's time to not just forget

but remember and release. 

Today is the day

that they will have to form

their own opinion 

about the soul that you carry

and what it's capable of. 

Today is the day

that your name crumbles

into the winds of change

as if nothing was.

Today

is freedom. 

Write-Up: Nexplanon (the arm implant of birth control)

On May 3, 2018 I received the Nexplanon Arm Implant,  a birth control method that is covered by almost all insurances and that allows you the freedom from remembering a daily pill. I wanted to share my experience to serve as a reference point for women who are considering other birth control options.  

Birth control usage history: 

I was a junior in high school, stuffing three packets of birth control into my backpack from a friend who had switched and did not need them anymore. I was desperate and way too scared to inform my parents that I needed a doctor's appointment for the sex that didn't think I was having....so a friend helped me out. *Disclaimer: I do not recommend this method; if you need birth control, seek a professional.*

When I finally did come clean about the fact that I was on birth control, my mother was not overly pleased but she was glad that I had at least thought that part through. She was more displeased that I did not just come to her in the first place. So, I scheduled a doctor's appointment to be assessed for a birth control option that would work best for me. At the time, my only options were the traditional pill format, that was taken daily and still had me producing blood during my menstrual cycle. I personally did not notice any specific weight changes; my acne remained as it had before and I even began to experience less painful periods. They were not usually debilitating, like they can be for some women, and this was not my reasoning for wanting to be on birth control. I simply was strongly against becoming pregnant, ever. 

In 2013, before leaving for New Zealand, I began to experience side effects from my birth control pills that caused major headaches, back aches, and increased cramping during my period. I decided to come off of The Pill. 

I did not return to this method until I was living back in the United States, where I sought out a medical professional to reassess me for a new prescription. She prescribed me a birth control pill that had a lower dosage of estrogen in it, hoping that with the lowered amount, I would not experience the side effects mentioned previously. It worked great for me. 

In the midst of increased anxiety levels, my depression began to take a stronger hold over me, and I was again questioning the pills that I was putting into my body. I was convinced that, having taken birth control pills since I was sixteen, I was suffering from imbalances at this point. Taking an increasingly large notice over my behavior and reactions, I decided that it was time to start exploring what other options I had. 

After moving to Montana, my health insurance completely covered the costs of birth control and I made an appointment as soon as I could. Luckily, my doctor let me ask questions for 45 minutes, as I was extremely anxious to have something placed into my body. My options included the arm implant and a vaginal implant. I made the appointment for the insertion, choosing to go first with the arm implant, Nexplanon, in case I ended up freaking out about having a foreign object in my body. 

 A close up look at the implant; you can see the faint 3 inch line that rests under the surface of my skin. The darker, single spot marks the incision site used for implantation. 

A close up look at the implant; you can see the faint 3 inch line that rests under the surface of my skin. The darker, single spot marks the incision site used for implantation. 

The Insertion: 

I chose to have the device in my left arm (non-dominant arm for me). It felt very much like a dental visit: I sat in the chair, my arm was slightly elevated into position, and I was given a shot to numb the area of my arm that would be minimally sliced open for the device. I felt nothing, in fact, I had to ask my doctor if he had even placed the implant because in less than five minutes it was completely over. The implant is supposed to be inserted in the layers closest to your skin, not deep tissue, therefore making it somewhat visible and easy to touch/check on. My upper arm remained numb for roughly five to seven hours after the procedure and no soreness on day one. I did notice a minimal amount of swelling, to the point that it was not comfortable to wear my watch on my wrist or have a hair tie in place. 

Day two was different. I developed bruising at the site (common for most) and my upper arm was extremely sore, all the way into my shoulder. This comes as little surprise if you are familiar with receiving a shot, however the soreness extended a few days past what I was hoping for. The only marking left on my skin is a small dot of a scar from where I was cut open. I experienced the soreness in my arm for about one week in totality and my "recovery" lasted around two to three weeks before I began to stop noticing it's presence. 

 Here is what it looks like from a normal distance, extremely hard to see with the naked eye, even in person. 

Here is what it looks like from a normal distance, extremely hard to see with the naked eye, even in person. 

 

The Adjustment Period:

I received my implant just days prior to my scheduled period according to my pill packet. This is the preferred method so that you do not have to continue to use your pills after the implant is inserted. That being said, my period came roughly three days later than expected and nothing was out of the norm. *side note, I highly recommend The Diva Cup as you will save tons of money on a very sanitary device that won't give you TSS*

After having about three days of spotting, lighter flow, my period was gone and I did not experience any of the expected spotting that I was told might happen within the first three to six months with the device, until roughly two months after my last period. 

The spotting was extremely light and not as irritating as it could have been; I did use my Diva Cup but noticed that even with a whole day of it in, I was not producing nearly enough blood to really have it in (exciting news for me). I was informed before agreeing to the implant, that my period could and would most likely totally disappear, much like the IUD implants. 

So far, all that I have noticed in the sense of discomfort, is that certain ways that I slept made it feel like the little implant was going to slide right out of my arm through the incision site (ridiculous of me to think this...I even asked my doctor about that possibility and he laughed a little with me). The longer that I have had, the less I notice it now, and sometimes it even is something to fidget with. It definitely feels like you've been "chipped" in the sense that it is RIGHT under the surface layer of your outer skin, sometimes being visible depending on your arm movement (noticeable in my opinion if you already know it's there). 

So why did I not go with the IUD vaginal implant?

Fear. For me, the arm implant is easy to have removed, easier than having something go potentially wrong and needing to have it removed in an emergency. This was my top concern as I can be overly sensitive to pains that my body produces and I tend to jump to conclusions. Having the arm implant right under the surface of my skin gives me the ability to "check" on it, something that I did religiously for the first three months of it being in. 

I have yet to meet another woman who has the arm implant however I have found myself surrounding by women who have chosen the IUD instead. Their stories vary from having a painful adjustment period but beyond that, nothing negative. In fact, I have had some gals excitedly tell me, "I LOVE this thing", commenting that their partners have not been aware of the implant unless otherwise told about it. 

Overall, I would and will get the arm implant again, as it's due to renewal in three years anyways. I have been extremely pleased with the switch, even though my doctors claimed that the hormones in my pills could not have been affecting my moods, reactions, or emotions (I still don't agree with them on this). The freedom of not having to remember a pill is by far the best one so far; I live an active life that involves a lot of time away from home base sometimes and therefore remembering to pack pills was often times forgotten and I would get into phases of "oops *pops two pills on day three of forgetting*". 

Want to share your story, thoughts, or questions? Please feel free to comment below or to personally email me at mckenzieroers@hotmail.com

Please visit https://www.nexplanon.com/ for more information!

Not For You

Here...

I am not here for you. Not for your opinions, not for your judgement, not to know if you are listening or if you are ignoring. If I was here for you, there would be no sustain. 

Rash. Rude. Unexquisite. 

I was not designed to be defined by the guidelines that were given to me by someone who does not live and breathe in this body. 

I felt myself give way to the perceptions of others, I felt your eyes lay judgement on me while you learned to hate me through the words coming from my own lips. 

Who set your world on fire? Who keeps throwing gasoline onto it?

Use your wings.

Use your might.

Put out it.

Make it right. 

You beg for my wandering eyes, the weightlessness in my footsteps, but when have you turned to yourself for the love you crave? 

A picture of perfection could never be painted, perfection is a myth, the greatest lie of our time, dressed in variety, dancing with superficiality. 

To let another soul, tell you that she wears hers always with a smile, does not mean that you must too; take his words and wrap it in the pretty lace he hoped to experience you in later and remind him that he has no place to say what is sweeter or softer than you. 

If I was conceived to bear comparison, I would have already been drifting at the will of the wind as dust and ash. 

 

 

Actions Speak Louder

Sometimes, I need you more than I let you know with words...

When you lay next to me, in the soft glowing hours of the morning and sleep as lost its charm on me, when you feel me entangle myself around you, I'm telling you then...

When we are in the car, and a sigh drips from my mouth and your hand finds my knee, the look that comes after is laced with gold, as you stare forward, and I know where my safety lies...

When you feel my hand drop down the ridge lines of your back in the ice cream section of the store, making our hardest decision for the day only to return home with it and forget about it later, I am there, frozen in delight for the choices that led me to you...

When the frustration builds and my name rolls from your lips, bringing me back down to myself and pressing my head into your chest because I can't get enough of your aid...

When I feel like running, I want to run to you. 

When I feel like leaving, I turn to you to keep me grounded. 

When I feel unsure, I look for your arms, for your safety. 

This is what the books talked about in their pages of unbelievable, this was the part that the movies forgot to include, the days that we fall asleep in the hammock and the nights that sleep can't find us. To keep wanting you, to keep loving you...

The Power of One

Reflection piece lies ahead....

 

I first laid eyes on you, much like the breeze graced my skin that evening; the nights were becoming warmer, I tried really hard to go unnoticed as I attempted to detail you from a distance. You caught me eye, your bike caught my attention. I refocused on the dog; don't even, girl. 

I watched from the trunk of my outback, swaddled in a sleeping bag, as you approached the only other person that I knew by name in town; her dogs were flowing with elation at the sight of you and my heart both dropped and swelled for the love that I was witnessing while accepting that you were not available for my own eyes. 

Your friend had far more words to share than you did, you two had come to this very park to play that day and here, the two of you sat, on the ground and at the foot of my car, whisking words back and forth with me. It was purely organic. I swear, the colors in the sky that night were more radiant than the evening skies I had seen up to then. 

In the midst of all that was fresh and new, you chose me and I chose you. Falling asleep in the comfort of your arms, waking with a quiet giggle about how surprisingly comfortable a couch was with having shared it. I returned home, tickled by how natural it felt to be in your light, tearing down a few bricks from the wall, hoping that I wouldn't find myself rebuilding them. 

I have gone many years with my mind swarming with unanswered questions about love and "the one", believe fully with all of my heart that we are not destined for just one, single soul-mate, that we have many soulmates around the world. As humans, we house such a powerful ability of learning how to love, how to accept. I could ask the question, "how did you know" until my mouth went numb and I still would not have an answer. It's a feeling, it's emotion, it's a conglomerate of so many unspoken things between two people that no one can turn around and say, "no". Love is love and you know when you have found it, only when you have found it. 

It feels weightless, unburdened; it feels stubborn, misunderstood; blissful and oh so beautiful. It lives in the excitement for what each new day may bring to you both, it's the look in each of your eyes and knowing that you are here to remain, to fight for the love that you found, and to never stop helping bring each other to their best. 

The Power of One, the light that encourages you to grow, who waters your roots when you have encountered depletion. I will grow with you, I will grow for us. There is power in love and it is worth the burdened wait. 

The Elements

The air that I found distinguished the embers

of all the fires that you started with your flame 

What should have been purifying became riddled with gasoline

as we watched our world burn with anger and misunderstanding 

You were fire, I was water, and I learned too late

that my buckets were not full enough to hold your fire 

As I laid defeated and scorched, drowning in my own element 

I found my breath, the air that saved me. 

His air became uplifting 

my world suddenly revived and illuminated 

chiming with reminder that the purity that once rippled through me

could again overcome me. 

I am water and your flames do not threaten me any longer. 

.02

Soft are the blades 

that graze my tender flesh 

surrounding me in comfort

by way of simple existence.

Her whispers feels like silk wrapped clouds

as I lose every atom to her smile 

flushed with bliss 

consumed by fascination 

in her every step.

Take me down to the river

may my soul find her peace

in the inconsistencies 

with comprehension of the divine beauty

in confusion. 

Goodbyes to My Childhood Home

The reality of the situation did not hit until the boxes were being sealed, until our home became just a house. 

After over twelve years in Northern Italy...

In February 2018, my mother was finally diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that was painfully disrupting every aspect of her life. Years prior, when the symptoms began to surface minimally, doctors began pulling diagnosis from every corner; a doctor shouldn't be able to tell you that you have cancer without absolutely knowing it's factual base. I remember when my mother expressed that doctor's visit with me, my head flew into a panic, to hear the words "cancer" slip from her mouth. I had quietly spent every hour of every day prior, hoping and praying that it would not be cancer that they would find. Anything but cancer...

My mother, her stubbornness I inherited at full capacity, kept delaying what we all eventually began to beg for: take time off work and focus on her health. We could all see it getting worse. One night at dinner, she took a bite of a piece of lettuce from the prepared salad and the fork went flying back onto the plate from her hand; her eyes immediately clenched shut in pain and her hands were resting over her gaping mouth, too painful to shut. "It feels like razor blades". Lettuce, soft romaine lettuce leaf, felt like a razor blade. How is that fair?

Elation: the feeling that I was overcome with when I received the phone call from my mother, detailing that she would be returning to the United States to be seen by doctors at The Mayo Clinic. To whatever reason that finally made her change her mind...thank you. She would be flying back for just over a week to undergo testing and analysis with the hopes of diagnosis. 

The first appointment lead to two more, which lead to four more, which totaled her days to anywhere from six to eight appointments, teams of doctors comparing test results and making decisions on what to test next in order to find the problem. It was finally happening, she was getting answers, we were getting answers. How bad could the truth be if you could finally access what you needed to help you live with it? 

Auto-immune disease. Her body is killing her. Was this really better than cancer? Is it selfish of me to be thankful to not be sharply aware of my own mother's timeline? Just please keep fighting...no matter what. I can't imagine how my brother would function or how my sister would grow up....

Here we were though, with a handful of answer and a head full of confusion. The medications, the doctors visits, how was she going to get better in the midst of living? Her case stood out: it demanded attention, monitoring; there was not a known cure for her specific diagnosis. 

By May 2018, the seemingly misplaced stepping stones of figuring out how to move forward began to fall into line and the sector responsible for my mother's job recognized that her case needed sensitive consideration. To me, the years of her dedication, of the countless hours and selfless love that she poured into her classroom, it all paid off: peers, higher ups, district heads - they all began to step in with a plus one on my mother's behalf. She was too much of an asset to DoDDS that they could not afford to lose her, so they moved her. Our Golden Ticket. 

There were many weeks of unknown factors, stress in how soon to begin treatment, and job reassignment. There were losses in the midst of the big win; she would be leaving her beloved and fresh job title of Reading Specialist and returning to the classroom setting once again. After over three years of teaching fifth graders, over twelve years of second graders, and two years as a Specialist, she would be finding home in a grade level that she had always half-hoped she would teach one day: third grade. 

Our family, since my father's retirement from the United States Air Force in 2005, became quiet adjusted to our stationary, civilian lifestyle. Our last move occurred in 2005 when my mother took over as our family's sponsor and we received orders to Aviano, Italy from Incirlik, Turkey. I was ten, my brother was five, and my sister was brand-spanking new into the world and all I remember was crying, a lot, on the first day of school. We hadn't moved as much as other military families, I was far more accustomed to my friends moving away before we ever did. So to say that the 2018 orders to Germany were almost unreal, it's because it honestly felt that way. 

When the photos first began to come through, I almost couldn't believe that my family was moving from my childhood home, from our childhood home. Hayden, my brother, had spent his entire life growing up in Italy; his room was painted Tar Heel Blue and he used to sneak out of his ground-level window in highschool. Jenna, my sister, for her, Italy was all she knew; she was gaining rank in her Italian Futbol League, was bilingual by age four, and had never known another home than the one she was leaving. My dad, he had created a firewood storage unit in back of our home and we were always the house to stop at for Christmas light decorations. My mother, oh how she knew exactly how to enjoy a sunny summer morning on our porch, with fresh brewed cold tea. 

The walls in the photos she sent me were blank; the rooms were empty, what was once our home became just an ordinary house again. The memories flooded harder; the spiral staircase that used to send me slipping halfway down if I was wearing socks, the shattered glass window pane on an interior door because we were probably throwing a ball in the house, the spiders that I used to find when I was opening the shutters to my ground-level window and the nights that I would sleep on the couch after finding one. The winters when my father would start a fire every evening and one by one we all somehow ended up pooled around it, dog and kitten included....you don't think much about the moments you've had in your home until you are leaving the environment that they were born in. 

The sadness that lingers throughout my heart comes with gratitude for how wonderful of a home it was for our family, it comes with gratitude for the answers we've been given regarding my mother and for why this move was necessary. It came with a tinge when I looked over at Christopher and realized that he would never see the home that built me, like a chapter that was ripped out of a book for no one else to read. It felt so strange to accept that something so physical was going to be nothing but a memory. 

There comes a time, all the time, when things are due for change. Most of the time, I feel like we are never ready for what it has in store for us, most of the time it feels far more frightening than exciting. The universe is pushing you and the easiest thing you can do is just take the fall with the hope of landing in place. 

To my mother, oh God how my love for you has evolved and transformed. You are the absolute rock to our family, it is unfathomable to think of a life without you in it, and I am immeasurably thankful for the guidance that ultimately led us to our new home in Germany. Of the women I know, you are the strongest in every sense; it is easy for me to share my excitement in your new journey because I do not house the body feeding the fears revolved around it, but I know with certainty that you are due to excel. I love you and we are all here for you...

 

Welcome the Break

Deleting Facebook was one of the better thing that I've dedicated myself to. Until five days ago. Coming up consistently short on money, I started looking around at my materials that make life more enjoyable, sizing them up for their sale day. Thus, the (re)creation of my Facebook page: I needed to sell things to survive. 

The reintroduction is slightly exciting; I took to the options of not adding people mainly because I was not concerned with rebuilding this online friend group and instead have had many folks add me upon finding the profile (I'm assuming). 1) Do they just want to see what I've been up to? 2) Oh...these people might have actually cared.....

So now it's time for Instagram to rest on the back burner. I came across the term "FOMO" and decided it was time to give it up. I don't want to experience FOMO, I want to believe that I have an interesting enough life to worry about and don't need to be wrapped up in the fear of missing out on anything. My only fear right now is missing out on my dream job opportunity. 

Social media makes you feel...alone, it makes you question your purpose or worth, it gives you subconscious measurements for life and guidelines on what happiness looks like. What an awful tool. Our magazine/fashion companies have begun the revolution of breaking down the stereotype, judgement, and overall skewed view of what people should look like...and then social media is waltzing in like a tornado on steroids. Oh, but it's not about what you look like anymore, it's about what kind of happiness you're soaking in on daily basis. 

I've always wanted to be known for my photographs, not my face. I wrote on a sticky note today, "but what did you do to leave this place better?" I've loathed people for their success and talents instead of trying first to water my own garden. I will admit to mindlessly clicking through posts that have no affect on me, I just wanted the attention. I used to be particular, very selective in who received my attention and recognition, careful about who I complimented. I used to care about how many "likes" or "happy birthday" posts I received. It's all superficial and we live and breathe on its spectrum. 

That's why I need a break, a realignment of my purpose and worth, because social media shouldn't be capable of killing a passion. 

Write Up: CBD Infused Treats + Dog Anxiety

First and foremost, I am ecstatic to be writing this piece. I am strong supporter of the medical benefits that have been linked to the usage of CBD oils and try to practice holistic healing methods before trying other options. 

About a week before the Fourth of July, I was mid conversation with someone when the topic of "anxious dogs" became our focus. Lucky me, I had stumbled into a person who homemade special dog treats that were infused with CBD oil and he himself used them on his smaller Australian Shepard. A few days later, I had a handful of 1mg dosed treats to try with my own dog. 

Zuke's anxiety has no special qualifying factors: he is afraid of thunder, fireworks, loud trucks, and separation from mom. His ears fold back, he slinks around with his tail tucked in, and eventually he will just stop moving around and sit in one place like an uncomfortable, awkwardly hurt dog. While trying to take him out to pee before The Fourth, one firecracker popped off and he bolted right back to the front door. It was time to try something for him...

Naturally, I was reluctant. I worry when I have to give Zuke medication or anything out of the norm because he can't communicate his discomforts with him, like say for instance if he felt dizzy or light headed. I decided to do a trial run with him the night before The Fourth, giving him half of a treat square which totaled to .5mg of CBD oil. Stressed from the random fireworks going off that evening, he was already working himself into a state. About thirty to forty minutes after giving him the treat, he was sleeping soundly in between my partner and I. I was able to open the window again and he slept unbothered by the remaining sounds that evening. The next morning, he woke at the sound of my alarm with such a rejuvenated sense of liveliness and even ate his breakfast! His eating habits are a different story.....

I was so relieved that it worked so positively for him that it gave me peace of mind going into The Fourth. At around 7:00 pm, I gave him a whole treat, 1mg of CBD oil, accompanied by two other normal dog treats (from Bark Box, yay) and we spent fifteen minutes hanging out with him while it kicked in. I also conveniently have a "nook" in my open closet and was able to create a little fort-styled atmosphere for Zuke's bed to be in so that he had a makeshift sound-proof dog house. This turned out to be a huge factor in his overall comfort! Every time we came home to check-in on him, he was soundly curled up in his nook. 

My partner and I came home before the fireworks really began to kick off; I'm lucky enough to have someone who is understanding of this unique situation and who is willing to alter their plans to be considerate. Zuke made it through The Fourth with as much ease as we could have given him and I'm happy to report that he woke this morning with all his puppy love and happiness. 

Chairlift Therapy

Riding a chairlift alone, I am here under blue bird skies as the wind whispers her sweet stories through my hair, being reminded of the simpler things of enjoyment. 

Just minutes prior, I was anxiously fidgeting at my desk, trying to decide if I should eat my lunch now or later, and making no decisions. I was more anxious about riding solo for the first time at the park; I was beginning to read and reread the bike park map, trying to memorize it, fearing I would make a fool of myself at some point. So I forced myself to get up and get changed. My hands were still shaking, putting on my helmet; they didn't stop until my first full pedal on dirt. 

I had done it, I got myself out of the spell that was lurking. The chairlift's speed made it easy to get lost in the moment I was being given. The sun was so tenderly warm while the breeze chased her with a slight chill; this is what I wanted, always. Honing in on the chirping birds and overall natural silence, I was overcome by the fact that I have not taken the time like this...in a while. 

Why?

Zuke is one factor for sure. As he ages, I worry less about his whereabouts and discoveries, but my ears used to heighten as my eyes closed; there has always been too much to worry about due to not wanting to deal with any outcomes from me not having watched close enough. He was a distraction for me (with zero complaint) and definitely one of the reasons why I haven't been able to "take the time". 

We've been moving a lot since February 2018; three new homes, too many locations for the little Zukers to be able to keep up with, and countless numbers of new faces. I've been dragging Zuke along for the whole ride while trying to keep myself on track both mentally and physically and forgetting all too often to take the time to breathe, to simply exist. 

The chairlift gave me that today. Uninterrupted time with the greatest Mother of all...accompanied by a super rad downhill lap. 

A Look In To....

As part of wanting to be even more transparent, I tried hard to dedicate myself to documenting every thought that passed through, because there was something to learn, there is always something to learn. 

While my mind ends up twisted in itself, lurching over every potential outcome and reason to get it written down, I've become detached from the every day...

Like most weekends, we've found ourselves day-dreaming Thursday night with no set in stone ideas, only whispers and giggles about the trail we might venture to. Friday morning always come with delight, it's the end of our work week. No plans have been established, but we're rolling with it, I think hoping that the other person will text with a grand idea. Between us both, we usually find something worthwhile but we are indeed, both planners, who need some kind of rough outline for the mapped out days. 

My partner is hungry for bikes while I usually split my meal into twos; I am a creature of now when it comes to seasons, longing very minimally for the change of season to come. My counter is a day-dreamer caught in the throws of two of his favorite and first loves. The balance we seek comes like a dentist pulling teeth from a riddled mouth: one by one, moment by moment. We are learning, trying to understand each other better. This is the beauty of finding what makes a person tick, it reveals itself over time, never upfront. 

For our lives, or rather for what is becoming Chris', we have the welcomed challenge of tailoring our free time as to be inclusive of the fur-child. By all degrees of fairness, I am making Chris' adjustment a little less easy as to cement my position on bringing the dog everywhere. There have been misunderstandings accompanied by lessons for both mom and dog while we incorporate another human into our routine, however not one has led us backwards in our direction. Zuke is a better dog with Chris in our lives. 

So in the midst of securing the knowledge of what we choose to do as also being dog friendly, we usually find ourselves on two wheels and in the trees. There's mindless chatter in the car followed by a sweet, sunshine-warm nap in the passenger seat; there's quiet mornings around the jetboils and stolen kisses mid-trail; there's the moments when I glance over at you, just to watch you exist, and the dog is mid snooze, head in lap, melting me into a puddle of undeserved wealth. My heart beats so heavy for the moments that keep the air from my lungs...

The days that feel like triple digits are my favorite; the days that sink so low have turned from ending chapters to prefaces for how we pick each other back up and move forward, together as one. Not every day is dressed in white, sparkling in purity. Some days we sit alongside each other, swimming the depths of our own mind, too lost to try to formulate the help we are seeking in each other, reminded of the reality that even the people who hold your heart, can't always fix it. We don't leave though, we continue instead to pick up the crumbs on trail and hope that we can collect enough to re-nourish the other. 

"We thrive when we can get outside," he said, "it's just better for us," as I sat staring, empty with thought and emotion; it's raining outside and it had been for days at this point. I am restless with the need to be outside somehow, Zuke seems to sleep out of boredom and I can't succumb to the same, Chris is trying to figure out why we feel the same way. He is right, we do find our balance when we are in the dirt, among the trees, around the water...that's where alive feels the most alive. How lucky I am to have a partner that values the outdoors with such grace and respect...

Sundays are talk for things that our parents used to do for us, like the pot roast that cooked all day in the slow-cooker and melted at the touch of your fork, solidifying the end to a weekend of play. Talk they remain, as we find ourselves caught up more favorably in each others' arms than the isle of a grocery store. We have a list of "let's do that sometime" backlogging on us but oh, how sweet it is to have a list of things to look forward with you. 

Our weekends fade like the summer kiss, toes in the warmth of the sand and setting sun. Why are the sweetest things the ones that come to an end before you're ready? We gear up for the upcoming week, without doubt facing the same similarities as the one prior but with little displeasure, as there is a love to routine that doesn't get acknowledged enough. 

 

Social Anxiety is Bred From the Palm of Our Hands

You've probably clicked on the link on my Instagram bio to get here, so my point is already half proven. 

I am an analyzer, an over-thinker, and combined, a busy bee who likes to keep moving. Just watch me come home from a long day, I'll fidget until my room is back to the clean, sharply organized status it belongs in. It also keeps my mind running, and running fast, staying glued to what I could be doing better to help pursue my dreams / be a better person. I crave understanding. 

As I come across it more and more, especially through social media platforms, I am left with two questions, 1) how much of this is a genuine reality and 2) is this the latest, most well used excuse? Accounts have their faces/bodies plastered across their feed with claims of how they don't know how to talk to people in real life, they don't know how to have day-to-day, short, human interactions. W h a t? 

Here's the social anxiety that I have personally been around: my friends are visibly uncomfortable in a social setting in either a small group or large crowd, they don't appreciate any attention graced upon them, and they usually aren't trying to socialize. The second thought here is that you can have anxiety and not have social anxiety: that's what I have. I have anxiety about standing in lines, closed spaces, not having escape routes; I thought that I was having an anxiety attack recently while at a bar with a group of friends because of the social aspect but upon reviewing, as I am always doing, I realized that I was indeed having one because of the confinement factor: I was sitting on the inside of an eight-person booth in a bar that I already didn't care for, with no immediate available way out if needed. I teared up at one point in the midst of silently practicing my breathing exercises (ten deep inhales, if I can make it to ten). 

So WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY then? In my opinion, we have bred the foundation to our own problems (yes, even to the type of anxiety that I have). We've accomplished this with the internet, social media platforms, and the little electronic device that remains threaded to our body twenty-four seven. I watch it happen all too often, as I am approaching someone from a distance, by the time we have grown close enough to make an exchange (out of pure recognition for a human being), they've pulled their phone out to answer "something" instead. My frustration begins to brew with instances like such; we are all humans, a smile, nod or "hello" isn't going to kill anyone. Your fear of doing so, will also not kill you. 

It's hard to be upset about something like having humans continuously jump on their phone to avoid having to look around at their surroundings instead when I live in an area where people do not usually even look in your direction (or they look right through you). I have had to learn how to keep my head down because I am far more disappointed and upset by someone blatantly ignoring the smile and "hello" I've given them. I still don't understand this attitude, especially in the outdoors here and especially because coming from Utah, everyone greeted you. 

I don't discount genuine social anxiety but I do find it upsetting that people are so quick to use it as their excuse for not wanting to be social. Here's the thing, no one is asking you to be the extrovert that you aren't but using your introvert personality to tactfully cover up being unapproachable, rude, or unsociable. Don't put yourself in those types of situations if you know that you're uncomfortable and if you are required to show for such, prepare....it's just other humans probably as nervous as you. 

What you're thinking right now: "easier said that done". You're right, you're totally right. But, I have an irrational fear of open bodies of water, yet over the years, I have progressively been working on reentering/embracing my fear by trying things like paddle boarding and soaking in hot springs. My point? You can help yourself. 

I am the first person to understand how comforting it can be to share your own experience in the hopes that it will help someone else or that it will bring comfort to them in knowing that they are "not alone" but I hate when anxiety becomes an excuse. If I am able to live with a type of anxiety that demands the use of daily medication and I don't use them to combat it, you can learn to embrace the parts of your anxiety that fester. It takes a lot of recognition, admittance and acceptance, and finally understanding of how to move forward with knowledge of your triggers.