Category Archives: agoraphobia

The Secret Cure To Depression is… Laundry?

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So, I know this sounds crazy, but there’s always a secret trick I preform when I’m feeling really down. And it pretty much always works.

I’m home right now, and last night when I was watching A Christmas Story, a commercial came on for Tide or Whirlpool or something, and it reminded me about my little depression trick. And then I realized that, somehow, I’ve still never made a post about it!

 

So, here’s the trick:

 

When you’re feeling super depressed, and can’t even seem to muster the energy to move…

…put in a load of laundry! 

 

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Yep. For Real.

 

 

Let me explain:  So, when I’m super fucking depressed, I always tell myself that I have enough energy to at least walk down to the laundry machine and throw in a load. My idea is, if laundry is running, then I’m not simply laying in bed, wasting my life away. I’m just waiting for my laundry to come out… obviously.

I’m not doing nothing. I’m doing something.

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And then this funny thing happens… Once I stop feeling like I’m doing nothing, and feel like I’m doing something, my mood improves. Even if it’s ever-so-slightly, the idea that my day wasn’t completely wasted makes me feel better about myself.

And then as we know about positive feedback loops, that little improvement can lead to another. Suddenly, I’m like, perhaps after they wash, I’ll put them in the dryer too. And you know, I am a little hungry, maybe I’ll make myself something to eat.

And before you know it, me laying face-down in bed has turned into me folding laundry with the soundtrack to Hamilton blasting in the background.

All because of laundry.

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So, the next time you’re feeling like you can’t possibly do a damn thing, remember that putting in a load of laundry takes about 5 minutes. And then you can go straight back to your bed for a whole hour until it’s time to transfer the load to the dryer. But, you get to walk back to your bed feeling like a champion. Cuz you did something. You’ve gone from being a depressive lump to being a productive citizen of this world.

 

All hail the power of laundry! 

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And hey, even if your mood doesn’t improve that much, at least you now have clean clothes right?  Its motivation AND it’s utilitarian!  Glory!

 

~ The Dark Horse

ps- Anyone else out there got good depression tips you’d like to share?

 

 

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IT’S BEEN 5 YEARS!

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WordPress alerted me today that 5 years ago was my first post. December 13, 2013.

And wow… what a difference. When I wrote my first post It Starts I was trapped in my Melbournian apartment. It was a bright, sunny, summer day…which was so weird considering I’m from America, and normally December 13th is cold and might even have snow! Normally on December 13th, I’m giddy and anxious for Christmas (like I am this very second). But back in that year, it was all so wrong.

I was completely alone in a new country. My depression was bursting at the seems. My anxiety had lead to agoraphobia. I was getting sick all the time because of how miserable I was.

I remember one of my last days out of the apartment before the agoraphobia made it completely impossible to leave, was spent at the department store Myer.

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Their Melbourne store is absolutely beautiful, and I went to walk around and get some fresh air. I was hoping to feel some of that Christmas magic I love so much in retail. Throughout December I love walking around stores. Not to buy anything, but just to be there. I love the Christmas music, the hustle and bustle, all the decorations for Christmas…and really, who decorates for Christmas more than retail?

But even that was skewed. It was probably 85F outside (30C) and the Myer department store was blasting the air conditioning. Everyone walked around in shorts. There were a few images of Christmas throughout the store. But the sun and the heat made me feel ashamed to be inside, wasting such a beautiful day.

But really, let’s be honest, most days that holiday season were wasted. Lost to the rumblings of metal illness.

 

But, let’s flash forward a few years……

 

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OG GOD! TOO FAR FORWARD!!!! GO BACK GO BACK!!!!!

 

 

 

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Alright, New York still exists?  Ok good!

Let’s just stay right for a moment.

It’s December 13, 2018. 

And this Christmas I’m going to be very thankful for 2 things. First, that I’m still alive. There are so many people out there who deal with mental health problems. And a lot of them don’t know how to get help, or feel there is no help. I’m so fortunate that even during the darkest of times, I always seemed to see a small flicker of light in the darkness. The dimmest candle in the far distance seemed to keep me going. And for that, I’m so thankful.

 

For anyone out there who feels alone or hopeless, this is a list of lifeline numbers for around the world. Please call them and never feel embarrassed or ashamed for doing so. You don’t need to be suicidal to ask for help. If you feel that living is misery, no matter what your reasons are, you have a right to talk to someone.

NEVER EVER THINK THAT YOU DON’T DESERVE SUPPORT. YOU DO.

Lifeline Numbers

 

And secondly, I’m thankful that I’m not only alive, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m thriving. I remember reading in chat rooms and blogs when I first started having the attacks when I left my apartment. I would sit in my room afraid to walk outside, reading stories about agoraphobia. What I kept hearing over and over again was this:

“You’ll never be better again. It will always stay with you. You might get “better”…

but you’ll never ever be “fine”. 

Well, bitches, listen up. That shit aint true. 

One of my idols is Jenifer Lewis, cuz she knows how to inspire in the face of adversity.

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And she’s damn right. If the elevator is broken, take the stairs. Sure, the fight is long and hard, but don’t ever give up. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have a full life ahead of you, even if those are people who claim to know more than you.

I feel bad for the people on those chat rooms who are convinced that life won’t get better. I feel bad that they don’t believe in themselves. I feel bad that this is happening to them.

But one thing that really pisses me off, is when people try and tell other people that SHIT CAN’T HAPPEN. CUZ MOTHERFUCKERS, IT CAN.

I remember how scared I was after reading those stories. After hearing countless people who suffered in the same way that I was, tell me that this will never get better. I never want anyone to feel that way.  And nobody should ever have to.

 

So, this holiday season, remember to help others, but also help yourself. Grab a tea, go for a walk, paint a picture, open a nonprofit, star in a movie, become president, change the world.

Ready for some inspiration? Ok, here it comes…..

 

 

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Naaaaaaaants ingonyaaaaama bagithi Babaaaa!!!!

choir comes in: Sithi uhm ingonyama!!!!!

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5 years goin, and still aint proofreading!

~The Dark Horse

Dispatches From My Agoraphobic Tower

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So, I recently stumbled across my old photos from when I was living in Melbourne, Australia.  I haven’t looked at these in years, and just seeing them flooded my mind with memories.

During my time in Melbourne, my unchecked depression and anxiety quickly developed in panic disorder, which quickly developed into agoraphobia. I was alone in a foreign country, locked away in my little apartment cube, afraid to interact with the world around me.

 

Honestly, it’s so strange. Because All me memories of Melbourne are so awful. The thought of Melbourne fills me with nothing but loneliness, dread, pain, and misery.

But then, I saw this picture:

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I took this from the roof my apartment complex. How could such a beautiful view ever have been scarred into my brain as bad? How have I always thought of Melbourne as the ugliest most miserable city I’ve ever seen?

Was Melbourne really that bad?  or was it me?

Was I the one that was ugly and miserable? 

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Look at that! How many urban areas have are quality that good?

I think this is a perfect example of how your mental health really effects everything. I mean, depression and anxiety isn’t just about being sad. It’s about feeling such a cold, dark, sad misery, that somehow, a sight as beautiful as this, was skewed into what I perceived at that time to be hell.

And that’s why we need better mental health support. Not just in America, but all around the world. I don’t ever want anyone to feel how horrible I did in Melbourne. I used to hide in my shower and cry until I could hardly breathe. I was fired from my job because I kept collapsing from panic attacks, and was blowing all my money on therapy, and take-out food because I couldn’t even walk to the grocery store.

To this day, my parents think I blew all my money in Australia partying. They have never fully forgiven me for how “sloppy” I was there. And I paid the price for it. After my time in Australia, I returned home to Ohio and picked up a job in retail. My parents thought that me having to return to Ohio with my tail between my legs, forced to work in retail for a year while I re-figured out my life, was good punishment for my immaturity and selfishness of going broke abroad.

They still have no idea that all my money was being blown on therapy and food. They also don’t know that while back in Ohio, I got back into therapy. The University in my hometown offers free-to-the-public therapy were grad students studying psychology act as your therapist.

My mom thinks that I was out running around town, when in reality I was in exposure therapy.  I know a day will come when I will need to tell my parents the truth. That in reality, I wasn’t as strong as they I thought I was. While they thought I was out having the time of my life, I was actually in the lowest stages of my life thus far.

 

But there’s also hope.

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I didn’t due in Australia. And I didn’t when  I came home and got into therapy.  In fact, I got stronger. I got better. And it inspired me to start writing. We may think that those tough moments are the end. We may think that there’s no going on, but there is. 

THERE IS ALWAYS A TOMORROW.

THERE IS ALWAYS A CHANCE TO HEAL AND BE BETTER .

And here’s how: 

Alright people, listen up. Step number 1: Call Lifeline. I don’t care if you’re not suicidal, if you’re at a point in your life when just living through the day seems impossible, call them. I literally used to call Lifeline everyday back when I was agoraphobic. They are so understanding and not scary at all! never hesitate to call and just say, look, I’m really struggling to just be alive right now. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, panic, PTSD, bullying, or any of the others. If you’re that miserable, YOU DESERVE TO HAVE AN EAR TO SPEAK INTO. AND NEVER FORGET THAT.

This is a list of lifelines around the world:

I have called at least 4 of them, and can tell you, these services are amazing

List of Lifelines

Step number 2: Find inspiration! There are some great sites out there that helped me get through horrific times.

Beyond Blue. An Australian website that is fantastic!

Beyond Blue

 

THIS WAY UP! Online therapy for the busy person. I’ve used them, they’re great!

This Way Up

 

ADAA. Resources for Depression and Anxiety

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And most importantly, NEVR EVER GIVE UP! if you ever think you can’t go on. Call Lifeline, reach out to a friend, or even write a comment on this blog. I’ll totally respond and tell you you’re a kick-ass motherfucker.

I’ll leave you with this sunset from the roof of my building in Melbourne, which, I somehow didn’t recognize as beautiful back then, but do now. 

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~ The Dark Horse

(was the proofread? ugh… I can’t be inspirational, and proofread!)

Life After Mental Illness?

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So, I wrote a post last week about how I was about to stand in front of a crowd and host a show… the first time getting in front of a crowd since life was completely turned upside down by crippling anxiety that got so severe, it turned into constant panic attacks, which then led to agoraphobia.

I was in therapy for a long time. The first goal was to get me to a point where I could walk outside of my apartment. Then the goal was help to me in public spaces, like grocery stores and malls. Finally, through exposure therapy, the goal was to make me feel comfortable anywhere.  Me and my therapist wanted to completely get rid of that fear of the outside word.

In the beginning, it felt like I was stranded in the middle of an open ocean. Endless water. No shore in sight. It was overwhelming. I felt like I would drown in the outside world, with no place to rest my tired body.  And I won’t lie, I did in fact have many a panic attack during the early stages of therapy.   Dude, I was legit a fuckin’ mess hahah! I can’t even believe how crazy I was when I look back at it now.

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And why do we have those panic attacks? We fear that beneath the surface, there may danger. Like something is about to go wrong…like the world is about to fall apart.

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But over time, I got better. I got stronger. I grew brave. And after a while, the outside world didn’t scare me anymore. I realized that I allowed my agoraphobia to go on longer that I should have because I never challenged it. I allowed it to control me.

 

But then I stopped.  And do you know what happened last night?  Absolutely nothing. I went onto that stage and owned it. I didn’t shake. I didn’t freeze up. I didn’t even sweat. I was the best me I could have been, and it was amazing.

 

And guess what, I had a great time!  I loved the event last night, and it will be a memory I will always have!  Looking back, I’m like…I could have been doing this all along! I could have been experiencing all this exciting stuff for years now!  Why did I let anxiety control my life?????

And you know what happens when you stop fearing everything?

…you’re then able to realize how beautiful it all is.

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It’s never too late to live your life

~ The Dark Horse

Feeling like you need help?  Call your local Lifeline support line. Another great resource I love is an Aussie website called Beyond Blue

The Importance Of Having Role Models With Mental Illness

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So, I just finished reading Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, and it was actually a really great book!  One thing that i really loved was open and honest she was about her life.   She spoke so openly about her friend dying beside her in bed, and about how she used drugs to numb her intense emotions.   Granted, I don’t agree with a lot of what happened in her life (I don’t do drugs or drink, so the idea of my mom coming to me at age 13 and telling me to smoke up with her was incredibly strange), but that isn’t the point.

 

The point is that this woman is not only an amazing storyteller, but also shows one of the truest signs of overcoming your problems:  

The ability to talk openly and laugh about them! 

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This then got me thinking about how great it was to hear someone be able to be so free, and so open.  And also, how great it felt to just know someone is out there talking about their mental illness and making waves in our culture!

And so then I set out to find other celebrities who have been open about mental illness (whether it be PTSD, panic, anxiety, depression), and some of the things I found were a bit shocking!

 

And the answer is, shockingly few.   I found a few articles on HuffPost and Buzzed and stuff, where a celebrity says they get “anxiety” (cough cough) about something every once in a while or some other kind of bullshit like that,  but none of it seemed to be what I live through.  For me, depression and anxiety are these massive weights that pull me down everyday.  They are always there and always trying to ruin me.  That is why Wishful Drinking was such a great read.   It wasn’t Amanda Seyfried talking for one paragraph about how she sometimes get upset thinking about her son possibly dying or something.  It was real, life-destroying mental problems, and I loved reading it!

 

So there needs to be more talk about this stuff I think.   Mental problems of all kinds: Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Panic, all of it!   We need role models out there telling their stories.  Telling us it’s going to be ok.  Letting us know there is a life outside our issues.    I hope to be one of those voices someday.  I know it will be a rough and long road, but there is a severe lack of this kind of talk in our society, I hope to change that!

  • So what do you guys think?  Where do you stand with how society views mental illness and do you think we need more role models?  Or do you know of any great stories about mental illness to read?   Feel free to tell me everything in the comments!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

(This was like 10% proofread!  ya baby ya!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Innocence Of Anxiety

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So, I was thinking the other day about the last few years.  About how I had been depressed for so much of my life, and then suddenly; anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia were thrown on top of it.    Sometimes I look back and I get tears in my eyes.  I think of how scared I was back in Melbourne.    Australians are great people if you’re looking for a party…but they’re not the kinds of people who are there for you in times of need (They don’t really comprehend the idea of “times of need” actually).    So there I was, alone.  Dealing with crippling anxiety. And when I say crippling, I mean crippling.   I was literally collapsing and felt like I was dying.

 

But the other day I also got a little smile on my face.  It was odd, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was a child again.   I mean when you really think about it, when you start dealing with mental illness it’s almost like starting a whole new life.   Your entire world has changed.  You have to learn how to overcome obstacles.  You have to ask people for help.  Easy things becomes monumental successes.

 

Like I remember back when the panic attacks were happening a lot, even going to the grocery store was hard.  Just going around the block could bring about a massive panic attack.  I remember at one point I finally had had enough and so I called Lifeline and was like, “The grocery store is about 7 blocks away…I’m worried I’m going to pass out on the way there…can you help me?”

I got to the grocery store and was like I DID IT!!!!!    And the lady at Lifelife was like, Congrats!   This is such a big moment for you!   ….Yeah people, have you ever felt so proud of just making it the grocery store without dying?

 

 

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I think it’s interesting though.  This new idea I have.  Looking at the last four years of life as potentially a “rebirth” in a way.  And who doesn’t make mistakes as children?  We all do right?  How many of us would be alive right now if it wasn’t for our parents taking care of use when we were four years old?     So maybe I need to stop being so hard on myself for these last four years.  What happened in 2013 and 2014 was me trying to learn and figure out what the hell was going on without any help from anyone else.   Mistakes were bound to happen.

Mistakes are the only way we learn even when we have people teaching us, so when it comes to mental illness when so much of it has to be us hiding it, and pretending were fine… where society doesn’t want to help us…when were in it all on our own…

WE SHOULD BE FUCKING PROUD OF OURSELVES THAT WE ARE STILL ON THIS DAMN EARTH! 

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Look at that little girl?   Falling down on your face is normal when you’re a child people, ok?  Don’t let it get you down! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Also, falling on your side is completely acceptable when you’re trying to learn to navigate a new obstacle!  

 

 

 

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And sometimes you just fall on your face again… thats just life.  

 

 

Point is, I think were all doing a great job.  We are trying and dammit that means something, and fuck anyone who says differently.

Keep trying.

Keep working.

And keep falling! 

 

~ The Dark Horse

(No, of course this wasn’t proofread, why would you ask such a silly question?)