It surprises a lot of people but I was actually really active as a kid and I’m still pretty active nowadays. When I was in middle and high school, I did all sorts of sports throughout the year and many of these activities would overlap. I did cross country and soccer during the falls, track and field during the spring in middle school, skied regularly during the winter, and even spent a couple years horseback riding.
Nowadays, I’m not quite as active but I still walk almost everyday and hike semi regularly. But I still feel this immense amount of shame around exercising and being active. I often get comments that are meant to be encouraging but often come across condensing and shameful. Honestly, I can’t really explain why but these comments often make me wish a black hole would just sallow me whole.
And there’s still a part of me that feels like exercise is a punishment. Because I’m fat (and have always been varying sizes of fat), exercise after a certain point was only a way to lose weight. It was only ever something I need to be doing to punish my body and there’s a part of me that still feels like that. So while exercising has all these immense other benefits, there’s still all this other shame and hatred that’s tied up in it for me.
Growing up, autumn was my favorite season. That time of the year still holds a very special place in my heart, as I love Halloween and the whole aesthetic of the season too much for it not to. But I realized recently that I do love spring a whole lot. This time of the year is a reminder that even after a period of darkness and cold, it’s possible that the sun and light will come back and plants will grow. Spring, for me, is a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that there’s hope even in the midst of darkness.
Over the past years, I’ve done a lot of reading about self-care and mental health, largely out of this intense desire to find the right words to describe my own experiences with depression and anxiety. It was really in college that I discovered just how pervasive these things have been in my life and it was in college that I developed some unhealthy self-care techniques.
Self-care is one of those popular buzzwords that often thrown around and yet, it always seems like many people can’t agree what it means. For many, self-care is taking the time away from work and responsibilities to watch something on Netflix. And this is utterly valuable. In a culture that values being busy and being glued to work, it’s important to take the time out from those things.
This year, like 2016, seemed like a continuous garbage fire (and in some places, there were actual fires…). It’s been hard to stay strong, to be positive about the kind of future we have in store. Plus, with winter officially upon us in the northern hemisphere, these cold, short days are perfect for negative thinking and depressive attitudes (at least for me). So in light of all of that, I wanted to write about some of my favorite things to come out of this year.
I’ve been noticeably gone from this blog over the past few months and there are a few reasons for that. One of the biggest is my own depression. My mental health has been suffering over the past few months and a part of that is because the days have been getting shorter in my hometown, as days are wont to do as seasons change and the year comes to an end.
Winter is nearly upon us in the northern hemisphere and for where I’m at in the world, that means significantly shorter days and long, dark nights. The sun will set around 4:30pm today, giving us about nine hours of light but most of that will be under an overcast sky. My depression thrives during this part of the year and is a big reason why I’ve been so noticeably absent from this blog. Writing is difficult when there are days when brushing my teeth or making a meal is an accomplishment.
And more than that, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with this blog. When I first started this project years ago, I had a clear vision of what I want to accomplish and now, I’m not too sure. There’s so much work to be done, that I will admit. But I’m just not sure the best ways for me to move forward with this project.
I’m really hoping that I can come back to this space soon. Writing, as difficult as it is most days, still gives me something to focus on and a reason to get out of bed. But for now, I’m going to continue to focus on other things and hopefully I’ll be back to this space by the beginning of 2018.
Hey y’all! So it’s been almost a month since I last posted and I wanted to write a quick update. Things are pretty okay for me, all things considered. Life for me have been hectic this month and I’m still trying to deal with my (failing) mental health. But I’m here and I’m starting the slow process of getting my life back together.
I’ve been doing a bunch of adulting this past week, resulting in a huge amount of anxiety. But as I’ve learned, my anxiety always does better if I just deal with the problem/thing immediately. It literally took me until I was in my early 20s to realize that addressing the source of my anxiety would actually make the thing go away and thus, my anxiety would go away as well. I come from a family of procrastinators so I’m not surprised it took me that long and I still try and not deal with issues immediately.
I have spent most of my life desperately trying to take up less space. I’ve stayed quiet, gone to public spaces during times they’d have the least amount of people, worn dull colors. My entire life goal is to draw the least amount of attention to myself in an attempt to have people forget I exist. There have been more than a few times in which I’ve actually had some success in that department – I’ve scared a few folks while we were around camp fires because I moved and they didn’t notice at first and I’ve regularly surprised people because they didn’t hear me enter a room. On more than one occasion, people have forgotten that they were giving me a ride home. That’s right – while in the same car, people have forgotten about me.
I strive towards this invisibility because I know just how little space I am to occupy in public as a fat person. I aim for anonymity in so many spaces because I know what happens when I am visible in any way. I know that being visible online as a woman, as a fat person, as a queer person, as anything that is labeled as ‘other’ brings a litany of hate and trolling.
For the longest time, I had hoped that my depression and anxiety would go away with time. There were always obstacles – school, work, friend drama. Something always seemed to come up to make me anxious and when I wasn’t anxious, I was usually depressed. At the very least, I thought that once I finished school, my anxiety would dissipate. But it turns out that after graduation, I found new things to obsess and be anxious over.
It took me until I was about 17 years old to realize that something was probably wrong with me. And it took me even longer to put words and labels to the way I was feeling. My childhood wasn’t terrible but it definitely wasn’t conducive to someone struggling with depression and anxiety and the societal stigma that exists around mental illness made it hard for me to find outside help. My teenage angst was heightened by both puberty and the ways depression manifests in teenagers and frequently put me at odds with my parents.
Self-care can mean a lot of different things – it can mean taking the time out to watch some stuff on Netflix with friends, going out to lunch, taking a nap, going on a hike. In a time of uncertainty and stress, being able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally and making sure that you’re doing okay is important. As Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism,
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
I’ve written about my own mental health on various occasions for a variety of reasons but largely because it was through other people talking about their own struggles with mental illness that I realized just how much my life was impacted by depression and anxiety. It was through the conversation around mental health that I realized just how much my life could benefit from therapy and medication.
My first go around at therapy didn’t go very well. I was still in college and finishing up a particularly awful semester. I felt unwelcome on campus and going to the school’s health center for therapy didn’t help. It took me another two years to finally decide to go back to therapy after that but once I found an amazing therapist, I was convinced of the good things that therapy can provide.