27: or, the Wildest Ride Ever

bride’s bouquet, volume 1

Love and marriage

My 27th year continues to be the biggest and most significant yet. A little over seven months from meeting him, I married the love of my life. I can’t believe the whirlwind we’ve survived, and certainly never thought the friend’s boyfriend’s cousin I met at a hippie festival would end up becoming my husband when we started on this journey. 

I never thought I’d be one of Those People, the “when you know, you know” people, but I’ve certainly learned you can’t judge someone else’s relationship on time. The minister who performed the courthouse wedding asked how long we’d been together; when we replied, he said he and his husband married after eight months…and that was four years ago.

When you know, you know. 

Trials and hardships truly forged the relationship in fire, and we’ve learned volumes about each other in a matter of months – and in some cases, weeks. The official proposal was no photographed event by some professional photographer, was no on-one-knee occasion – but it was absolutely and 100% perfect. And now, I’m so proud to call this man my husband. 

So much seems it was “meant to be,” that the events of our respective lives were leading us to this crash into each other’s existence, unavoidable and scary – but welcome. 

I didn’t realize how much I’d given up on romance and love until all this happened and I was forced to reevaluate my beliefs. I’ve never been so glad to be proven wrong. 

Medical fun

March 30, I suffered the most serious seizure I’ve had to date. It opened my eyes enough to finally take seriously the Alabama law that forbids driving for six months after a seizure, and I’m now 3.5 months into that period, seizure-free. This has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times of my life in a city as devoid of good, readily available public transit in Birmingham, but the help and support of friends, my mom, and my husband have all made it that much easier. 

Just two and a half more months to go…

More importantly, it forced me to reevaluate life. I still get depressed and anxious, still fight through the darker urges and desires to be out of this mind of mine, but overall I’ve come to appreciate everything I have and the fact that I’m still alive after such a terrifying experience. 

Lessons well learned

I’ll certainly never forget the significance of being 27 and all it brought to me. Most of it still feels surreal. Signing or writing my new last name is still so awesomely new and awesomely bizarre. I’ve grown so much, experienced so much, been through more than I ever imagined for myself at this age. 

I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Here’s to you, 28 (on July 27). Let’s see what you got. 

remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are

I came across a Facebook post I wanted to share here.

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Artwork © Jolene Lai
“Some people survive and talk about it. Some people survive and go silent. Some people survive and create. Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously, remember… you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit so quietly before you, looking like a calm ocean on a sunny day. Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. Whilst somewhere the water is calm, in another place in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.” —Nikita Gill, People Survive in Different Ways

When you’re depressed, you feel like you’re the only one in the world who can possibly feel so bad at that moment in time.  I’ve lived with some form of depression as far back as I can remember, but it hit like a bolt of lightning when I turned 10.  Ever since then, I’ve been on pill after pill to try and control it — but some days, nothing works.

At all.

And it’s usually the days I actually feel like doing something.  Whether it’s hosting friends at our new place (or just seeing somebody, not necessarily playing hostess), or going somewhere I’m invited and loved and among people whom I love, or trying to play video games  — or trying to write, my unarguably number one passion…it’s impossible for me.  I’m already having a tough time trying to get back into writing — art, crochet, and painting seem to be more my things lately — but days like lately make it almost impossible.

Depression is like an eddy you can’t quite escape from, pulling and sucking you in until your lungs fill with water and you sink to the bottom.  Sometimes it takes a lot to pull me out from the depths, but sometimes it disappears, leaving me drained but revitalized.  Every time somebody bashes pharmaceuticals, it leaves me wondering: “would I still be alive if it weren’t for some form of them?”  I’ve been on my share of ineffective ones and ones that made me feel like a zombie, and ones that (so far) seem to be working (mostly).

But I’ve noticed a pattern of behavior with my depression: it always seems to set in around the time of my seizures.  And unfortunately that’s been a defining part of the last five months, so it isn’t a mystery as to why my depression has set in a little deeper this time.

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people over the last five months especially, and I only hope to meet more.  I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of Birmingham, and I’ve lived here my entire life.  That’s my challenge for the upcoming months: explore, expand my worldview, and enjoy the life I was given and am living.

Because it’s the only one I’ll get.

Settled (or settling in)

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I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve written here.  February came and went, and I’m finally in our house.

Our house.  Not “our” as in my mother’s and mine, but “our” as in my boyfriend’s and mine.  The house I left never felt like mine, even after Dad passed.  It was always “Mom’s house” or “the house”; rarely did I use the term “my” house.  And now I’m in a place to say “our” house and it’s been incredible.  Things are turning out well, and I finally feel like I’m in a relatively stable place in my life.  Living with someone who cares about me and whom I care about immensely has definitely been fun so far – even when we have our small tiffs (as all couples do).

We were stressed to the max trying to get the money up for it in time, but caught a lucky break.  And soon taxes will be coming in, so that will help immensely.  But it’s been a journey complete with thieves, reports of crazy neighborhood folks, and struggling to leave even earlier for work in the morning (spoilers: it’s not going so well).  We didn’t have heat for the first 2-3 weeks of being in there, but finally got that turned on and it’s been even cozier since.

Since October, I’ve had six seizures.  Usually the cause is medication withdrawal because of missed doctor’s appointments and yadda yadda blah blah my fault, I know.  But seizures…man, lemme tell ya.  They suck.  Not just for me, but for everyone involved.  I’m pretty sure everyone at East Lake Library is well versed in seizure first aid by now.  Definitely not my intent, but honestly, seizure first aid should be something covered way more often.  According to epilepsy.org,

  • About 1 in 100 people in the U.S. has had a single unprovoked seizure or has been diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy (which is the tendency to recurring seizures) in their lifetime.

Time to get more educated.

Anyway, these increased seizures have put a lot into perspective.  It’s been a long journey of self-love and I still have a long way to go in that area.  It’s helped me realize what’s important, what I shouldn’t keep to myself when I feel something coming on, and who’s there for me in these times, who cares enough to stick around and make sure I’m okay.

It feels so strange to call somewhere aside from the place I lived in for almost 28 years “home.”  It’s definitely a process I’m still transitioning into, and probably will for a while.  But stepping inside fills me with a peace I haven’t felt in years, if ever.  It really has become home, and I have zero regrets about flapping my wings and leaving the nest.

My 27th year has been such a year of growth and change, which is unsurprising as one of my “numbers” is 27.  I’m so happy for this phase of my life; it really is what I make of it, and I’m determined to make it the best ever.  28 won’t disappoint either – I guarantee it.

blossom and bloom

bloom

A lot has been floating through my mind lately.  From seizures to medical procedures to just…a lot of weird stuff, it’s been a rough past year – but I’ve learned so much about myself already.  That I’m capable of becoming what I want, that I can chase and catch up to my dreams, and that putting positivity out in the universe means it will come back around to you.

My therapist said he can tell I’m so much more confident than I used to be.  I’m finally getting used to my body and loving that despite all my medical flaws, but I’m finally here.  Years of dysphoria from ballet have lessened, and I have a very healthy attitude of “This is me and I’m not apologizing for it anymore.”

The last 4-5 months have been a roller coaster.  Someone I never expected to come along did despite my strong desire to stay single/not even get into the dating scene.  Ever since, I’ve been on a roller coaster that seems like it never ends with him.  I’m about to rent a house, and getting utilities established in my name is a daunting task.  I’ve been through so much back-and-forth this week that I’m exhausted.  I need a nap daily.  But what gets me through is that the house is one I’ll be proud of, one I’m ready to come home to and to be happy, to be relaxed.  I’ll even have a craft room.

Speaking of crafts, I’m starting up my home crafting business again soon.  For a while back in 2009-2010, I created and sold crocheted goods at Kami-con (back then, held in Tuscaloosa).  I undercharged by a lot, according to the calculator websites I’ve been using, but it was a good learning experience.  When the festival up in Steele, AL – Cukorakko – starts, we’re hoping to rent out a booth or table to sell stuff.  Anything to help with rent and still being able to live life.  I love handcrafted goods.  Everything is unique, and everything has a piece of the maker’s heart in it.  (That’s why it’s so easy to want to keep things…)  I’m also getting back into painting.

So many times I’ve thought, “am I ready for this?” And the answer is: of course.  I’m 27.  I am grateful for my mother letting me stay in our house as long as I needed, but it’s time.  To walk into the living (ha) room and see the spot where my father died and his mother before him is painful.  In the back of my mind, I can never separate that from the way the room is now.  His final expression still haunts me.

He would be thrilled for me, for my future.  When I think about how he would have thought about my life path, I feel nothing but warmth.  His high school graduation card to me read something to the effect of, “keep being just the way you are and you’ll be able to accomplish anything in life.”

I’m not perfect by any means, but I have drive.  I have ambition and a tender heart and a pretty good sense of humor (unless I’m in a bad mood).

Every day I’m working on blooming from within.  I can only see myself blossoming more from here.  With every test life throws my way, I learn something new about myself.  And there’s nowhere to go but up.

the universe unfolding as it should

(Both. Both is good. But this is essential. You only get one life with yourself.)

Lemme be real: I’m probably gonna blog the same stuff a lot and that’s because I’m honestly too lazy to go back and check. Y’know, this ain’t an essay.

Good memories. I just wanna say that I’m glad the parts of the brain responsible for memory and smell are close together. The other day I needed something I thought might be in my dad’s top toolbox so I opened it, and out came rushing how he used to smell — sawdust, traces of old varnish…that sort of thing, being a patternmaker/woodworker. It was comforting, like he was there again after 9 years, just somewhere in the house. It made him feel tangible again.

Career (in)adequacy. I make a difference, sure, but I always feel like I could be doing more. There’s nothing more I love about my job than seeing genuine smiles on people’s faces when they leave satisfied, and I need to hang onto that when I’m stressed at work. 

We had a patron, a guy just a few years younger, ask me for help on his job application one day because the wording was really weird in one section of questions. I tried to help him reason it out, but felt bad because I had no idea either. About a week later he returned with a huge smile on his face, and told me he got the job. That was one of the moments that made me remember part of why I’m a librarian.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks is how much I need to put myself into more training, to really throw myself on the librarian track instead of being so passive. I signed up for an online seminar available through work and am going to seek out some of those certificates you can receive online for learning different coding skills, etc. Anything to get myself serious about being the best version of me at work too.

Personal life. I’d quote The Big Lebowski and say “new shit has come to light,” but this isn’t new, it’s just been thrown into stark (yo who else can’t wait for GoT?) lighting lately. The way I communicate with people I care about can use a lot of work but as I said, this isn’t new. I just need to finally get my shit together about it. Keeping it real is fine, but a cooler head would be nice. A more diplomatic way of expressing things has been my goal. I’m strong and have inner patience I know I just have to tap into, and I try to give myself time before I answer something I might get volatile about real fast now.

Keeping my mental illnesses in check has been the ongoing struggle it’s been especially since I was 10. I’ve been making baby steps though, ever since Friday. So far, things have been okay. Learning how to adult is a frakkin’ rollercoaster.

Everyday, I try to tell myself: 

Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.

And…

I will change the things I cannot accept.

everywhere life is full of heroism

everywhere life is full of heroism

This will absolutely be a long, winding blog because I haven’t made enough time to get my thoughts together more, and also because it’s 2am and work in the A.M. is a thing unfortunately… 

But I have been through Some Things in 2016 that I needed to put down for later blogs.

This year has been very mentally challenging (and physically – stitches in my tongue! Story for another time, worth it). I’ve been on meds after meds as they adjust everything, but I’ve had close calls with my own mental darkness.

And I haven’t wanted to admit or even acknowledge this for a long time to anyone but my mom and therapist, but it’s time to continue the conversation when it’s finally being even somewhat discussed.

There were so many times this year when the only thing keeping me from attempting suicide was the thought, “but I’m worth too much money in tattoos.” Ridiculous, right? But it worked almost every time. What kind of weird mental illness response…?!

I know I’m worth more than ink. “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here.” (Max Ehrman)

It’s been a year of great things, too. I’m working every day on building up my self-esteem and self-worth. I’ve learned lessons about not being so reactive, to chill as best as I can, and don’t stress about things that might happen or that have in the past. 

“Do not stress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” (Ehrman) This is most especially what I need to work on. Insecurity is getting a punch anytime I feel the slightest inkling.

Be the best you that you can be – that’s what I’m striving for. As a friend quoted to me from Oprah, “When you know better, you do better.”

The only thing I ask in companionship, whether platonic or not, is to be patient with me while I work through this and I will do the same with you for any of your changes.

I’m starting off 2017 early. Who needs an arbitrary revolution around the sun to start a new year anyway?

speak of the devil

Jumping off my post before last, back to epilepsy!

December 8, I was working on one of my two papers due for the end of the semester.  I was stressed, worried about graduation the coming Saturday the 12th, and about the paper.  I had a paper due the next day as well — both of which were to be 15-20 pages — so as you can imagine my mental state wasn’t the best.

Around 10:30pm I had a seizure.  Of course, I didn’t know anything until I woke up to my mom telling me I’d had one, and making sure I was okay.  Again, we searched for my glasses and once they turned up and I rested for a few minutes, I resumed my paper, determined to finish by the midnight deadline.

I finished it just before midnight (but at what cost?), and god only knows how it ended.  I only made it to 14? maybe? pages, and I haven’t read it since.  I emailed my professor the following day and explained why the ending might suck.  She commented that it did end a little “unceremoniously” but not in a bad way — I still ended up with an A in the class, so it must not have been too terrible.  At least the first twelve pages of the paper made sense.

You’d think that’s it, but…

Later that night, around 2, I had another seizure.  I was still awake at that time, which was surprising given the postictal state is usually one of heavy sleep.  I woke up breathing extremely hard and practically on my stomach, and I remember mumbling to Mom (who had come in again) that I was tired of being woken up to hear I had a seizure.

She decided to take me to the emergency room after the second one (because it was previously unheard of for me to have more than one in one day), and everything checked out fine.  I got a CT scan, got prescribed some klonopin, and went home to rest.

By the time graduation came around Saturday, I had two dark-purple black eyes and a scratch on my cheek.  I think patrons at work thought I’d been abused.  Thank god for Ben Nye concealer, as I was able to hide that mess for graduation.  When I walked across the stage I practically danced.  After a harrowing week of feeling like crap, my mind in another world and not allowed to rest up after that first seizure, I still graduated.

Whenever I think about how I’m not sure I’d survive something, or I think I can’t do it, I just remember that I walked for graduation and finished two papers the week I had two seizures in a row.  I can do anything.