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I Shouldn’t Be…

What they say:

I’m not supposed to be tired

I’m not supposed to be imperfect

I’m not supposed to make mistakes

I’m not supposed to be thoughtless

I’m not supposed to have problems

I’m not supposed to be weak

I’m not supposed to be emotional

I’m not supposed to be reckless

I’m not supposed to be selfish

I’m not supposed to be confident

I’m not supposed to be smart

I’m not supposed to be dumb

I’m not supposed to be dependent

I’m not supposed to be unaware

I’m not supposed to know that

I’m not supposed to be out of the loop

I’m not supposed to be too real

I’m not supposed to be honest

I’m not supposed to be innocent

I’m not supposed to have faith

I’m not supposed to be wrong

I’m not supposed to be right

I’m not supposed to hurt

I’m not supposed to fight back

I’m not supposed to say anything

I’m not supposed to tolerate

I’m not supposed to be intolerant

I’m not supposed to be angry

I’m not supposed to be happy

I’m not supposed to be afraid

I’m not supposed to be sad

I’m not supposed to be ashamed

I’m not supposed to be successful

I’m not supposed to be lazy

I’m not supposed to be busy

I’m not supposed to be a failure

I’m not supposed to be unavailable

I’m not supposed to be clingy

I’m not supposed to ask for help

I’m not supposed to be sick

I’m not supposed to say no

I’m not supposed to say yes

I’m not supposed to be a burden

I’m not supposed to be ugly

I’m not supposed to be pretty

I’m not supposed to do that

I’m not supposed to think like this

I’m not supposed to be here

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Pretty Up and Pretend

Diary excerpt, 1/21

Really don’t know what to say. Except that I’ve once again gone to figure that I don’t have to talk about what’s on my mind, because I’ve somehow arrived at that place where keeping it all in is ok. Is there such a place? I never realized it before, but I actually believe that if I were mature enough, or better somehow, I wouldn’t have to write about or talk about my issues. Somehow it would all get solved inside my head, I’d deal with all my emotions appropriately and in a timely manner (I don’t even know what the hell that means), and wouldn’t ever have to take it to the degree that I dislike- speaking completely openly about whatever is bothering me, big or small. And perhaps all along, that’s been my goal here. I’d talk about all the stuff I’ve already been through, see how stupid I am for worrying about any of it, then learn to keep my mouth shut. I am seriously…disappointed is too weak a word. But definitely unhappy to realize this. ‘sigh’ I know that hasn’t been my complete motivation, but now looking at it, I can’t deny that it’s been there this whole time. Even though there has been a lot of good in maintaining this diary, and giving myself a space to be honest, I still see myself as weak for needing it, for depending on it at times. ‘sigh’ I’m actually feeling very conflicted here. On the one hand, I want to keep this diary, this communication forever, and to have it as part of who I am and what I do. On the other, I want to be past needing this, past those days where, in the middle of struggles and issues, I couldn’t wait to get home to write all about it, and lay it all down. Granted, for the most part I don’t feel that clawing desperation the way I used to, and most times I can handle things as they come. But without feeling like this is still okay, it’s getting hard for me to keep this up, aside from obligation or talking about little things (yes, nail polish). I’m seeing that I felt that way about the therapist, too. That the whole point of seeing her was so that she could point out to me what a weakling I was being, because other people don’t fall apart at the ups and downs of life. Other people take traumas in stride. Only weaklings like me end up struggling with them. The worst part is that intellectually, I know none of this is true, and that most people rather pretty up and pretend than be honest, which is hard work. Emotionally, though, I completely believe it. What I hate is that despite the progress I’ve made, part of me longs to be with them. To pretty up and pretend instead of slogging through mountains. Yet when I think about where I was when this whole process began, when all I did was pretty up and pretend…things were unbearable. I couldn’t sleep, my anxiety was through the roof, suicidal fantasies (and I actually looked forward to having them; they were the highlight of my day), tears to fill an ocean, all kept inside. Through the process of working through and talking through my anxiety and depression, it’s not as if I haven’t struggled with all of those things, but it gave me a breather, a chance to hit the surface from time to time and get some air. How quickly I forget. I know, in all this, it’s because I’m still programmed to see what I need and what I do as handicaps, and to see myself as perpetually weak and damaged. I also see that I tend to quickly form beliefs about things, even if I’m unaware of it, and those beliefs will thereafter guide my actions until I bring them to light and challenge them. It’s funny. Challenging strongly held beliefs was one of the first things we worked on together, and yet I thought that by having made myself aware, I’d stop doing it. Apparently not. But I actually feel better knowing where all of this is coming from. It’s still amazing to me.

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Hello for real

It’s been…ok, I don’t even know how long I’ve been doing this. (I could check, but then I’d have to erase that starting sentence and it feels more impactful this way.) However long it’s been, it’s been a long, strange, difficult ride trying to learn how (read: force myself into) into being less shy and sharing meaningfully. I’ve talked around it before, but mostly it’s been a sense of obligation that’s gotten me this far. But, as my posting schedule has made clear, it hasn’t been enough.

New Year celebrations can make you think of all sorts of things, all sorts of ways to change and improve. While I’m normally not the type to make resolutions or promise any big changes, for once I want to take the opportunity to make a change that really, I’ve wanted all along. As I’ve mentioned in posts past, I’ve struggled with both anxiety and depression for many years, and in the past 6 or so months I’ve finally felt free of the worst of the depression. It gave me an opportunity to deal with my anxiety one on one, something I’d never done before. It also helped me to realize that keeping myself back so much has played a role in some of my depressive thoughts, as well as my anxious ones. In this…there have been so many times I’ve wanted to write about so many things. So many times I’d pull up the page and have my hands curled over the keyboard, ready to go, only to say, “What’s the point?” and shut it all down. So many times I’ve wanted to connect, but ran away, connecting only to anxiety. Honestly, I want to do the same right now. But this cycle…I’ve fought with health issues, traumas, lack of energy, spirals of negative thoughts, intense psychic pain, panic attacks, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts, sometimes to the point where thinking about suicide was the highlight of my day- a fantasy I enjoyed. But I decided that despite all that, I was going to stay here. If I’m staying, then things have to get better. Sometimes it means believing beyond what the odds say, and doing the opposite of what all your negative conditioning tells you. Anxiety has been my caretaker for so long (more on that in another post), but I’m grown up now, and there are things I want to do.

So hello. My name is Jenilee. I live with my husband, three kitties, and one puppy in lovely Oregon, where we have adventures in Oregon. (Not really sure what that means.) My passions are writing, singing, tea, and doing my nails. (Seriously. I have about 220 polishes at the moment. Small time compared to some, but I’m proud of it.) I was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, so working has become more difficult, but most days I do pretty well.

So where do things go from here? Honestly I’m not sure, though for once I’m not worried about it. I realize that I’ve been selfish about this whole prospect. For those who have been reading and keeping up with this blog, thank you. A gigantic thank you, for connecting even through all the times of disconnect. It’s been too long that I’ve been inconsistent here, for fear of saying something stupid or pointless or that sort of thing. But maybe the point is to risk sounding stupid or not making any sense. And to risk sounding wonderful and making perfect sense. I’m scared of that too. Those who are reading who might also be battling anxiety- let’s be scared together and plunge through anyway. Thank you again.

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Just want to talk


Hello there. I know, this whole bit is a bit strange. But for once, I just want to shoot from the hip. No free write, no focused topic. Just talk. Admittedly I often feel this way, but keep myself from saying a thing because I don’t have a point of focus. The times I make free writes it usually starts with random thoughts, but I often know where I want to go. Now…it’s kind of like those weird drawings I’ll sometimes do, where I have no idea what I’m making, and the entire point is to trust that something inside me knows what I’m doing. Most of the time it ends up being for little more reason than the joy of being able to do it. 

These days I’m feeling less bound up than I used to, and yet the old habits make it difficult to do this as easily as I’d like. Still, it’s  easier now, and that’s progress I’ll happily take. It’s a weird feeling, knowing that the walls are coming down, I’m more fully inhabiting the life I’ve been given, and the pupating is almost over. I’d always thought I would burst out of my cocoon violently, yet that hasn’t been the case at all. Heh, I shouldn’t be surprised, considering I normally don’t flourish in harsh conditions. I have no idea what form this change is going to take. But for once, I’m more curious than scared. And I am so grateful to feel this way. 

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Learning to be

(Free write) Thinking of so many things. Learning not to be embarrassed of myself. Sometimes it surprises me that I’m not only ashamed of the things I’ve been through and haven’t done, but embarrassed of what I like and what I need. Embarrassed to be, a lot of the time. Right now I don’t really want to think of a solution, just to talk about it. It makes me sad to think about, and a little confused, because for a long time I thought that was completely normal. And I think for some people, for some things, that’s so, but when I think of how long I’ve let that hold me back…I think it’s too much. It’s almost like I’m ashamed to be alive. I’m not saying that in a depressive sense, but just realizing that I’ve let that shame prevent me from expanding into the fullest dimensions of my existance…yeah, it makes me sad. Not yet inspired to do a 180 and spill out everything I’ve been holding back, but rather to take those things out of their boxes, look at them in the light of the sun, value them, and from there, put them on display. It’s actually a beautiful bit of imagery, when I think of it from that perspective. 

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Learning to feel happy

Hi, all, 

Thinking about all sorts of things today. What I want to do here, what it should be about. Like I said yesterday, I do want to talk more about some of my experiences with depression and anxiety, and how I’ve come through past depression. (I think anxiety’s on the ropes now. Gonna fall at any moment.)

But I don’t want to limit myself to just talking about depression, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this whole process, it’s that those of us who suffer with anxiety and depression often seem to have a general issue experiencing all kinds of emotions, simply because we squash some and overproduce others. Happiness becomes hard to feel because it actually can be rather vulnerable to feel, and anxiety won’t allow for it. We’re socialized to not get too comfortable with any good situation in our lives, always looking out for the next bad thing to come our way, and to intensely fear the possibility of premature celebration, less we end up looking stupid. It was a bit shocking to me when I realized how much I tend to sit on my full expressions of happiness, precisely because of how vulnerable I felt when I did. Hell, there are times when I’m even scared to think happy thoughts around other people, in case it leaks onto my face and I get yelled at for it. The real thing I’m scared of are the tummy tickles. I’ve never told anyone about that feeling, but when I’m around others and I feel that way, it drives me nuts because I’m afraid I’ll start laughing at any moment, just because I’m happy to be alive. Nothing’s happened, I didn’t just escape death or anything. I’m just here, right now, breathing, blinking, hearing, and feeling, and I love it. It creeps into every pore until it gathers in my heart, tickles my tummy, and makes me laugh. And makes me feel like everyone around me knows exactly what’s up, and that I need to cut it out. That’s why so often it’s just easier to be alone. Where I can feel as happy about life as I want, and no one will try to take it away. But lately I’ve been trying to let that laugh color me in public more, even if I do feel a bit embarrassed by it. Because ultimately, I want those things to reach me. To see a butterfly, or my favorite shade of blue-green, or hear beautiful music, and let it touch me. Touch me to where all I can say is “Thank you. Thank you because I’m here to experience this”. To say thank you, and not have it be a lie, or something I feel forced to say.

 It took a while, wading through my depressed feelings, to realize exactly how afraid I was of being happy, especially to that extent, because I’d been horribly disappointed by life before. But even smaller expressions were hard, not only because of that weight of sorrow I was carrying, but just because I kept happiness pinned under my foot. As far as I was concerned, it was really just a trouble maker. If I hadn’t dared to hope and dream and get happy off of those dreams, then maybe it wouldn’t have hurt so badly when things went exactly the opposite way. Yet, I wanted to be free from depression, which meant…being happy. That risk, again. Of course, most non-depressed people aren’t happy all the time either. There’s something in the middle- contentment. But I knew that I couldn’t reach contentment so long as I was keeping all traces of happy expression underfoot like that. It was surprising to realize exactly how hard letting happiness go could be. I was afraid of what it would do to me. How it would change me, expose me. Would it deny what I’d been through, the process I was undergoing? That “put on a happy face” bullshit that pretends that life is easy as long as you smile? Would I become addicted, suddenly unwilling to experience anything but joy? Perhaps. Letting it free was the only way through to contentment. Emotions, I realized, are not an on-off switch, or piano keys- now you’re happy, now you’re sad, now you’re angry, etc. They’re a spectrum. They all bleed into each other, fade into each other, play a role with each other. At the time I had way too much blue in my life, and wanted green. The only way to do it was to let go of that blue, and let in some yellow. 

At first it was a bit of a terror. I’m the type to usually live quite a bit of my life in my head, and often when I feel intense emotions, I retreat to whatever extent I can. I had gotten to the point where I retreated at the first sign of positive emotions. It sounds odd, but I felt like I was being disrespectful to my depression and anxiety, like they needed to have everything. Like feeling anything else was just denial, and we know how much that doesn’t help. Like feeling anything positive was just proof of what a big liar and fraud I was. When I realized that I had put happiness in a chokehold, well, it made me feel a lot worse about myself. But I thought about it. “What does it matter that I did? Happiness is a trick anyway. And my happiness has never counted for anything. That has been made abundantly clear to me.” Yet all the other efforts I was making to fight this…if I really wanted to be free from anxiety and depression, free from the raging thoughts, the endless tears, the horrible pain of it all, I had to learn to experience more than sorrow and fear, because we are more than sorrow and fear. There was no other way. And I hated that. What a wimpy thing to do. To let this stupid emotion called joy free. Why? So it can ruin my life some more? So that I can run around in denial, grinning like some freaking idiot? No. I knew. Past the anger, I knew. So that I could be all of me, not consumed by depression or anxiety. It started with small things. Being grateful. Saying thank you and meaning it. Letting experiences capture my senses, and sitting with that, even for just a moment. I guilted myself a lot in this process, telling myself I had no right to this, and that positive emotions were just a waste of time. But I had promised that I would stick around. This was what I needed to keep living. Letting myself love things. Letting myself be loved (something I still struggle with). And feeling every bit of it, not retreating, transforming it, or running away. As my therapist taught me to do with the emotions of my negative experiences, I learned to do the same with positive emotions. Happiness isn’t about deservedness, or worth, or appropriateness. Happiness is just a part of us.

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Finally free/Where I’ve been

Hi, all. It feels a bit weird doing this, as I don’t often write about what’s going on with me, and you know my tendency to pop up here and there (peek-a-boo!). But things have changed quite a bit for me in recent months, and I thought I should share.

As I’ve spoken about before, I’ve fought for a long time with both anxiety and depression, and have lost many battles to both. But for the first time in a long time, I believe I have won the war against depression. It’s a big change for me, as I’ve dealt with it to varying degrees for a huge part of my life. Being on this side of it, and being able to honestly say that I’m glad I’m still here…while there’s some caution inside still, I know that it’s true. In this, I’m hoping to find the energy and courage to show up more in my life, and that includes here. For those of you who have stuck around, or just visited once, who said hi, or just looked in, thank you. And to those who are waging their own wars against the thoughts inside- I hope that, by talking about this, somehow you’ll have hope and see that you can come to the other side of it too. That one day you’ll also be free.

So what’s the plan? I’m not entirely sure. After all, there have been too many times where I said I’d show up more and didn’t, and I don’t want to make promises I won’t keep. But not feeling drained by my depression has me hopeful that maybe I can transform this into something good, something better. For now, I think I’d like to talk a bit more about what some of those battles looked like, and how things changed. Some topics may be potentially triggering, so I’m letting you know, and apologize in advance. But it’s my hope that as you read about it, perhaps a breakthrough will begin for you. Thanks again everybody. See you soon!

-carbonkitten

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All Good Things Must Come to an End, But…

Sometimes I really feel like I did myself a big disservice by telling myself not to enjoy the present because it’s always due to shift. I still remember that time when I was about seven. My family and a friend were at the park, and the sun was setting, and for what seemed like the first time, I was able to enjoy sitting in the grass without worrying about bugs crawling on me. The blanket I was laying on was so soft, and it felt great to rest out under the sky for a little while. The air was transitioning into full blown summer, and I couldn’t help but get excited at what was to come. And in all that, it hit me. This had to end. At some point, I’d have to get up, fold the blanket up, gather any toys I’d brought along with me, then follow my parents back to the car and go home. Something about that felt oddly devastating, and I remember feeling desperate, wishing badly that there was some way I could at least make it last longer, until I’d had my fill of the moment I was enjoying. I blurted out to my sister, “I wish this didn’t have to end, and we didn’t have to go home. Like we could freeze this moment and things could stay like this”. She echoed my sentiment. “Yeah, and then we wouldn’t have to go to school or go to sleep or anything”. I kept thinking about the fact that no matter how much I wanted to stay here, this would have to end. It made me extremely sad, and I remember that as the moment when I began focusing intensely on what was to come, because trying to enjoy the present seemed impossible knowing it was doomed to morph into less pleasant times and circumstances. That’s not to say that falling into the future didn’t have other benefits, like helping me to escape the present when negative experiences came or I was just feeling lousy about the current state of things. But recently I’m realizing how much I don’t allow myself to enjoy the present, and often it’s only after the good times have passed that I allow myself to realize that they actually were good. When I’m actually having a good time, too often I get preoccupied with what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, if there’s a better way to use my time, and so many other things, that there’s no space for enjoyment to ever fully manifest. By this point, sometimes I wonder if I’ve damned myself to only enjoying life after so much of it has already passed me by.
Well, I want out of that damnation. That starts with being present. Present with the things my eyes see, not what my mind’s eye imagines. Present with the breath in my lungs, the sounds in my ears, the sensations on my skin. Present with what I’m feeling right now, and those feelings that are worth feeling, not those that drain energy and direct my attention elsewhere, like worrying about how I’m doing what I’m doing, even if all I’m doing is existing. I’m one of those people who lives a lot in my head, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that aspect about myself. But I think I’m ready to see that change, because part of why I live in my head so much is because of what I’m avoiding outside of it. And by avoiding the bad, I’m also keeping out the good. Good things like simply allowing myself to be happy for being. 

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Share your thoughts/share your story

My story for the day? I went outside for the first time in a while, since snow and icy cold temperatures don’t get along with my muscles very well. Plus the ups and downs of essentially hiking over mounds of unplowed snow takes a toll after a while. It’s a bit of an adventure, the whole bit. Snowstorms make me feel like this:

(Painted with a toothbrush)

When I make these creations of mine, there often isn’t a whole lot of intent behind them to make them look one way or another. In fact, when this one came about, all I told myself was, “Play”. By keeping that as my only rule, it’s allowed me to make quite a few of these, which I find soothing to make when the anxiety feels like it’s becoming too much.

There are times where I wonder why I couldn’t apply the same metric to writing these posts. Yes, in a sense, the free writes are in a similar mindset, but not quite the same. Usually it’s despair over disliking every idea that comes to mind that makes me free write in the first place. But play? It’s about having faith that each step will be accompanied by another, not judging the result, and allowing oneself to find enjoyment simply in the process of creation. 

The other end of it- what often keeps me silent? Thinking that I’m doing this all wrong- that there are so many other ways that I ought to be doing this, and since I haven’t availed myself to those options, I might as well not try at all. But the magical word “play”- it allows me to move forward, because there is no right or wrong, and it’s in that forward motion that I’ll find the cure to every fearful thought that gets in the way and makes it hard to share my thoughts and stories. I’m moving forward. I’m trying. Through playing. Sounds odd, and perhaps a little easy, yet so freeing. 

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Peek-a-boo

​(Free write) Thinking about what’s my motivation as an artist. Reading my singing book yesterday (and other sources of info on performing), they mentioned it being all about your audience, etc. This may mean that I’m exceedingly selfish, and if that’s so I don’t like looking it in the eye, but…when I hear that, it doesn’t feel like enough of a reason. It feels like, “Well, there are people out there to be entertained, so entertain them”. I can’t help but feel a “So what?” to that idea. Why should I? Because I can? Because I like to sing? I’m a bit afraid of becoming an attention whore if I dedicate myself to my audience in that way, as if they’re the only ones who can give me value. I want my relationship to my audience and my experiences as a performer to be about us, not me or them- about the unusual creature that comes about when two or more people inhabit the same emotional space for a time. What I mean about that is finding a motivation that makes me excited to share myself in that way, to make that connection, that conversation meaningful. I think that’s part of why blogging has been so hard for me. So many people in my life telling me, “Well, you write a lot in your personal life, and you’re pretty good at it, so why not?” I did, but now I feel like, “Why should I?” I can make so many other choices in my life. Why should something as simple as ability define all the reasons why to do it, and pursue it like this? This is something meaningful to me, which is why I do it. Maybe I’m asking for too much, but a like for doing it isn’t enough.
What do you want it to be?
I think this is clashing with my normal tendencies. There are very few people I allow very close to me- at this point in my life it’s two. But my writing, my music- it represents a lot of the thoughts and feelings that matter the very most to me. To share them in such an open format is exactly inverse to my tendencies in personal relationships. I think I’m struggling to reconcile them, which is why I tend to disappear for so long, worrying I’ve said too much. And I ask myself if I want that tendency to change, if I want to be open with more people on a personal level. I don’t know if I do.  It’s a weird thing, living my life playing peek-a-boo.