I’ve spent the last two years solely focused on ‘healing’ myself. I dove head first into the journey of becoming a better me and a more functioning me. How could I do this? What book could I read? What coping mechanism could I utilize? My life has been all encumbered by the act of healing and fixing whatever issue came up in the moment. Some of this ‘healing’ journey been enlightening and changed me in ways for the better. However, a larger portion of this journey has been downright exhausting in trying to fight imaginary battles that never needed to be fought. I’ve spent a lot of time living my life in the context of symptoms surrounding my anxiety rather than being present in the world right in front of me. Anxiety is a real B for that, but I am shifting my focus away from my symptoms and more in the context of my life. The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately is how do I balance the idea of living in the moment but also managing inevitable anxiety that comes with daily life?
It’s not an easy adjustment to make because often my anxiety screams “DANGER!” when there’s nothing around. The act of doing nothing and living in the context of my life has proven to be the most difficult portion of the work I’ve been doing. I am an intelligent human so I’m able to problem-solve like no other. Asking me to do nothing is like asking me to walk on a path of Legos with bare feet. While it’s the key to slowing myself down, it still feels like an unbearable task. I don’t really know how to just be but it’s something I’ve decided to work on rather than read up on symptoms and cure alls. It’s an internal balancing act to be able to accept my anxiety and all the weird shit it brings and also just be in the moment.
I appreciate the ability to be able to “think out loud”. I’m often hesitant to publish on here because I feel as if a large portion of my blog is my thoughts out loud. I want to deliver content that isn’t always exclusive to me but I hope in my thinking out loud there’s someone who reads it and may feel less alone. Mental health is just as vital as physical health so consider this my 30 minutes of brain cardio for the day.
In 2015, I came across a blog challenge presented by Tales from the Motherland, my friend Dawn Quyle Landau. Dawn wrote a post in 10 minutes about 50 things she was grateful for and invited others to participate. While the 50 goal isn’t always achievable in the time span, I’ve always had a lot fun trying it out and doing my part to fill the internet with gratitude versus the not so nice things it can show in a day’s work. I’ve always loved this challenge because it became an annual way to end my year/or begin it by reminding myself about all the good in my life. Last year was the first year, I didn’t participate/see the challenge presented (for obvious reasons) but I wanted to begin 2022 and bring it back around. I don’t have the same scale of community that Dawn has, but I am presenting an open invitation to anybody wants to participate. Feel free to share your post with me on this platform or Twitter. The challenge is to write as many things you’re grateful for in 10 minutes. Good luck and have fun with it! While life is all about balance, I think it’s important to try and drive as much positivity as we can muster especially in today’s crazy world.
Without further ado, here’s my list (not in any order/preference):
1. My Corgi, Penelope – she’s the light of our lives.
2. Being able to see more family this year after a hellish 2020 (hope to see even more in 2022).
3. Marco Polo. This app is a Godsend. My friends and I began weekly chats on Zoom through the height of the pandemic but this app has turned it into daily ones.
4. My wife. She’s my partner in so many ways. I love our life together and I love growing as a couple and as people.
5. My faith. Finding an LGBTQIA+ ministry in a Catholic Church setting has felt like finding a unicorn in real life. I am so lucky.
6. Having a job after all of the chaos of remote life.
7. A place to live.
8. Not losing anyone close to me to this horrible virus when so many people did.
9. Therapy. It took me almost 10 years to finally unpack things but I’m glad that I have been trying and learning.
10. My family both born into and married into.
11. Music/Podcasts – I hate being alone and I’ve spent a lot of time on my own with my wife returning to the office. They’ve kept me company. (Shoutout to Ask Iliza Anything and Drama Queens, my two favorite podcasts)
12. The ability to learn something new daily.
13. Streaming services. Sometimes mindless and time consuming, other times live saving and just the distract you need.
14. Learning that creativity can be more than just my writing.
15. My new found Lego hobby.
16. Coloring books.
17. Starting to speak my mind even when it’s uncomfortable.
18. Colleen Ballinger
19. A good pair of earrings never failing to make me feel sexy.
20. Being able to go back to places I never thought I’d see again.
21. Meditation for calming me down at my worst.
22. Living in a city with so many food options.
23. The drive to continue to learn about myself and never giving up on that journey.
24. A clean house.
25. Video games.
26. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone when necessary and having the support in my life in which to do it.
27. A good blanket
28. Trips to my parents house when I need it or when I need to see them.
29. My co-workers who I went two years without seeing but was able to pick up right where we left off.
30. A good cup of coffee.
31. The Letter Project for showing me how many women are just like me/how I can be of service to more women who need the encouragement.
Thank you for letting me share and I hope that this entry inspires your own list of gratitude. Happy 2022!
The height of the pandemic left a lot of stores, restaurants, and recreational places closed. The hustle of New York City had come to a screeching halt leaving its residents scrambling on what to do next. Just like the rest of the world, we were forced to work and live in our houses on a 24/7/365 basis, and we were clueless for how long any of it would last. Making the best of the uncertainty, my wife and I decided to fill our weekends with as much as outdoor time as we could. Living and working in our four walls was more than enough during the week so the weekends needed to be broken up with fresh air and getting out of the house in the safest way we could find. It became a weekend ritual to walk the property of our local cemetery. It was kind of morbid looking back on it, but I was grateful to be in the sun and grass and trees at the time getting my mind off the present moment and developing a deep appreciation for nature that I’ve never had before.
The cemetery itself stands on acres of land that stretches throughout the neighborhood. You could walk through it and be on a completely opposite end of the neighborhood by the time you finished. It was great exercise but also amazing views of Manhattan in certain areas as well. When Covid felt bleak and my life as I once knew it felt as if it wouldn’t return being there and seeing that view provided a lot of comfort. The city skyline felt like something to shoot for, to look forward to and it was a much-needed reminder of sanity when everything felt rightfully insane.
This past September started my return to my so-called “normal life”. I went on vacation for the first time in five years in September. We flew to Disney World for our delayed honeymoon and stayed for a week’s time. Upon our return, I was asked back to work on a hybrid schedule. All this is way more overwhelming than I expected it to be. I dreamt of this day and yet I was so nervous to return to the hustle of the city life. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming to embrace. Who was safe? Who wasn’t? Will I get sick? A million questions flooded my mind. I began to feel guilty about questioning all of it. I was getting what I wanted for so long, what I had prayed for yet I was so paralyzed by the fear of the obvious unknown in front of me. I had this whole vision in my head of my triumphant return to New York City where I would rejoin my beautiful city and relish in everything that I missed so much. When my expectations weren’t met it sucked, and I was devastated and left drowning in a whole new pool of anxiety and all the symptoms that came with it. It was a hard lesson to learn in managing my expectations. We plan and God laughs, or at least my God does. Returning to Manhattan and all the of the life that came with it wasn’t how I imagined it to be yet I’m still doing it even if I feel like a baby deer learning to walk most days.
I’ve hesistated to write a lot about my feelings as of late. I don’t want to appear self-deprecating but I also don’t want people to feel like they’re alone in their struggles. We are all rejoining a world full of uncertainities and question marks. We’re being told that the pandemic is “over” and now we’re meant to go about our business like the world still isn’t sporting a giant band-aid over itself. It’s scary, overwhelming, but it’s something we’re all collectively facing so it feels almost remiss not to speak my mind on how what I’m going through. I want to end this piece with it does get better, it has gotten better. Every day presents a new change and my anxiety is never permanent. It’s a state of flow that I’m now hyperaware of which is both helpful and a little jarring. Life is weird but it’s just a matter of getting through one moment at a time.
My intention was to blog daily during the month of September and for 14 days I was successful. However, the preparation of the trip and the trip itself became consuming and I found myself more present in real life than I had been for awhile. Post trip, I found myself barreling Into the Unknown of my return to the office, getting Penny settled into a daycare situation, and the entire month of October being filled with activities. I still have a lot I want to post outside of the confines of a series and in the upcoming weeks and days I’m going to do my best to post that.
Thus far, I haven’t been successful in posting within the timeline of a series. However, I did feel growth throughout this series. I was able to post work 14 out of the 30 days in September, I was receiving more frequent feedback from WordPress due to the consistency of posting, and I had some family members reach out to say they were following along. I embarked on this as a way to get out of my head and prepare myself for November for National Novel Month. Being able to get out of my head was a great success as I did my best to stick to the schedule and write within the ideas I came up with. There’s still some kinks to work out for consistency in my writing but I’m proud of the ability to practice in a live way and learn in real time with all of you.
Thank you for following along and reading as I work out a writing schedule and most importantly share myself with all of you. I hope to continue to chronicle my journey and hopefully share something that can help somebody else.
It’s been a few months since I’ve written about the state of my mental health. A lot of instances of my reporting were the high points returning. I have seen a lot more highs lately versus lows but I have also come to terms with the normalcy of the lows that sometimes come my way. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder last year around this time and I am proud to say that I am feeling a ton better since then. This time last year I was desperate to find a way to be cured from my anxiety and never have to deal with it again. There had to be a way to completely shake this debilitating disorder and I was hellbent on finding on it. I hated feeling like I was a constant burden to myself and to my family and friends. Thankfully, I found a therapist that I could be comfortable with and began the bulk of the healing work that needed to be done. I use the term healing because I am a lot better off than I was last year. It is a blanket term to describe the progress I’ve made from my lowest to date to the empowerment I feel through therapy and the acceptance of my emotions that come and go.
Will I ever be fully healed? No, I will not. However, the acceptance that anxiety is a part of the human condition has been an incredible relief. I’ve had too many days and nights thinking I was somehow broken because I couldn’t walk two feet without feeling dizzy or feeling like I would die at any moment. The physical symptoms and intrusive thoughts were terrifying at first encounter but now I am able to name these things and realize that they are something I can handle when they come up, rather than fear the unknown. I am able to use the tools I’ve learned in therapy, the tools I’ve learned in the Dare Program and meditation with headspace and find ways to become grounded at my baseline again.
It’s been a tremendous road of ups and downs and I still have downs some days. Rejoining a world in a pandemic sometimes leaves me terrified but I now have a strength that I never had before. I have the strength that moods and feelings all pass like the metaphorically storm that they are and whatever comes my way will be handled. I am eternally grateful.