Category Archives: mental illness

So, I Kind of Lied

brooklyn boulders

So, I have a confession to make. In the last post, I mentioned that I had to go to indoor rock climbing with my new friend. I had said I didn’t want to go because of how expensive it was and because of how annoying all the indoor rock climbing people are.

And don’t get me wrong, that’s all true. But that wasn’t the real reason why I was dreading it so much. The truth is, I was afraid. There’s a lot that I haven’t done in my life. Since nobody talked to me growing up, and since I had to deal with the panic attacks and agoraphobia…my life has been quite small. There’s a lot I have never done.

And nobody is good at things they’ve never done before. So, my real fear was that I was going to fail. I was terrified of having a fear of heights on the huge walls, or of being too weak to pull myself up. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my new friend, especially since its’s practically impossible for me to make friends. I also didn’t want to have a panic attack while I was three stories up on a climbing wall.

I was fearing the worst.

rock climbing

I couldn’t stop thinking about spending $50 just to have a horrible night and wind up losing a friend because of what a total pussy I am.

But, I’m proud to say that I did it. And the night went well. And I climbed to the very top of the wall (granted, it was on the Level 1 rock wall) BUT, STILL! I was there, dammit! 

I climbed that Level 1 wall and made it my bitch.

I also felt very emotional after. I say this all the time. Life after agoraphobia is like being born a second time. You find yourself having your “firsts” all over again. Your first walk around the block. Your first trip to the grocery store. Your first ride on the subway. And still, even five years after agoraphobia, I still find myself having these firsts.

But granted, nowadays, they’re things like “First time speaking at a podium” and “First time to London” and “First time indoor rock climbing.”  I’ve come a very long way from that apartment in Melbourne, where I was all alone, making my very first walk down Clarke Street.

indoor rock climbing gif

First steps lead to first climbs I suppose.

 

~ The Dark Horse

Spring Is Almost Here…

spring.jpg

Alright, people… if you’re like me, then winter depresses you the fuck out. The short days, the cold weather, the lack of vitamin D from the sun, the beige color that seems to cover the world because there’s no greenery around. I love snow on Christmas, but after Christmas I’m like, Ok that was fun….SUMMER PLEASE! 

And about this time of year, after Winter has already been around for months…. I start getting restless. I start NEEDING sun. NEEDING warmth. I start DREAMING of hot weather.

But I today, I saw the first little sprouts of tulips. The true sign that spring isn’t too far off. And, I’ve done some calculations.

spring1

It’s February 19th. That means it’s only 9 days until March 1st. March signals the death of the winter. The sun finally starts to win the battle against the dreaded cold. On April 1st, it’s relatively assured that there will be no more snow.

So, that means we only have 40 days until we can put away the winter coats and never think about them again until next November.

And then, by May 1st, the trees are in bloom once more, and the grass is getting green, and we can go back to wearing hoodies and nothing more! So, that’s only 70 days until we have green buds on trees and hoodies or sweaters.

We can do this.  YOU HEAR ME?  WE GOT THIS! Winter is on it’s way out!

spring4

 

Just remember that.  Armageddon ends in 9 days

Winter coats can officially be stowed away in the closet in 40 days

And we are only 70 days away from green trees and hoodie weather.

 

Eye on the prize, eye on the prize, EYE ON THE PRIZE!!!!!!!

 

~ The Dark Horse

Living The Dream… And It’s Truly Surreal

nyc

So, I’m here in New York City, and everything has spiraled out of control into the best thing ever. I’m here because I recently got an internship in television. Then, last week, I was published for the first time. Now, I also have a paid position blogging for a travel magazine. I had no idea when I started blogging back in 2014, desperate to reach out to others because of my depression and anxiety…that I would ever get a paid blogging job.

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE MY LIFE WENT? 

WHO IS THIS NEW GUY I SEE IN THE MIRROR? THE ONE WHO IS MORE CONFIDENT TAHN I EVER WOULD HAVE IMAGINED? 

(touches face with hand) IS MY SKIN EVEN LOOKING BETTER? 

People of the world, I ask you this…

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

girl

 

You always see the storylines in movies and books that tell you hard work pays off in the end.  But you never actually believe it right? (At least I didn’t). I always thought that happiness was something other people could obtain. Happiness wasn’t ever meant for me. It seemed like no matter what I did, everything would blow up all around me all the time.

I kept telling myself, “I am working hard, right? Is this all in my head? Is every other human trying even harder? Am I lazy and undeserving and just don’t know it?”

But I guess it goes like this: A train weighs about 18,000 tons.

It takes a lot of energy to make 18,000 tons move. It isn’t like the flick of a pinky can make it happen. And that’s what I was. I was a stopped train. I was a chicken running around with my head cut off. I was desperate, lonely, in pain, had no connections, was working in retail (and was doing a horrible job because I was bored to death everyday) so I wasn’t exactly building my resume.

And then I started working towards making my life better. 

Started from the bottom. Got back into school, working at Whole Foods to pay rent.

Then, unpaid internships led to…more unpaid internships…which led to really poorly paid internships…

train1

 

The engines on the train were heating up, but because the train wasn’t moving, I considered myself a failure. I didn’t notice the rumbling sounds of power underneath my feet. I didn’t see the steam rising from beneath the bowels.

Then those poorly paid internships led to well paid internships, and I started putting on events at school, and then suddenly I’m here in New York City, and it seems like possibility is everywhere. Suddenly the world doesn’t seem like a place that will always oppress me and keep me down. (Well, they can try, but fuck them.)

train2

I’m on a train chugging full speed ahead, and now I’m looking out the windows as the world swooshes by, wondering how the fuck I made all this happen.

Never ever stop believing in yourselves.

We got this!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

Puppy Therapy: Puppy Bowl Edition!

bowl

So, it’s super bowl Sunday…blah blah blah, whatever who cares. BUT it’s also Puppy Bowl Sunday!  (Audience applause)

And this is very important for anyone needing some inspiration, some love, or some motivation.  Why you ask?  Well, for the simple reason that Puppies are good for you. 

Literally.

Medically proven.

Oh, what’s that? Don’t believe me?  Well, perhaps you’ll believe the Mayo Clinic then?

Click this link if you’d rather here a medical professional tell you this instead of me:

Mayo Clinic: Animal Therapy Article 

That’s right, I’m not crazy.  Now, since we’ve established that looking at puppies isn’t just fun, but is actually beneficial to our mental health…. let the cuteness commence!

 

First up we have a little Shiba puppy who is just so beyond adorable that even the darkest, grayest depression imaginable can be broken by his puppy powers:

bowl1

 

 

Next up we have a husky puppy that clearly doesn’t understand the concept of a water bowl. Or maybe he just had a little too much to drink last night, I’m not here to judge…

bowl2

 

 

I would let this little lab puppy wake me up any day. However, being honest, if I had this little pups with me, I’d probably be tempted to just stay in bed and snuggle all day long!

bowl3

 

 

Have you ever seen little baby German Shepards playing with their dad?  (Literally falls off chair, and begins convulsing at the sheer, overpowering cuteness.)

shep

 

Want more puppy action?

Want to help people as well?

Check out Vet Dogs  This nonprofit provides service dogs to veterans who return with a variety of service dogs.  From PTSD dogs, seizure response dogs, guide dogs, and more!   DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN VOLUNTEER AND HELP RAISE PUPPIES THAT GO ON TO HELP VETERANS?  

That deserves another puppy gif….

boo

 

And don’t forget to watch the Puppy Bowl!  It’s good for you, PLUS, all the puppies are shelter pups that can be adopted!

 

Enjoy the cuteness!

Puppy Bowl 

 

~ The Dark Horse

The Trouble of New Beginnings When You Have Depression and Anxiety

new

 

So, I just finished my first week at my internship in television.  And it was exciting, and crazy, and hard, and stressful, and a total learning experience.

But, looking back now that the week is over, I’m like… WAS IT ACTUALLY HARD? OR WAS IT JUST MY ANXIETY? 

 

For example, I was told to do some media monitoring. That’s where you scan various news outlets to see if your shows are getting publicity and mentions and such. When you make your report, you put the news outlet’s name, followed by a forward slash, and then the date.

I had put the news outlet, then a space, then a forward slash.

My boss was like, “I’m a stickler for formatting, so next time, no space between the outlet’s name and forward slash.”

And then I was like..

OH MY GOD. I FAILED!

I PUT A SPACE BEFORE THE FORWARD SLASH! 

OH GOD…..I’LL NEVER GET A REAL JOB! 

By 10am, I was doing a full-blown Anne Hathaway, wondering why my dreams will never be…

dreams1

 

 

But now I’m kinda like… I suppose it’s possible that I may have been being slightly, but just ever-so slightly…. a drama queen. 

It was my first time doing media monitoring, and my boss knows that.  And adding a space isn’t the same as me just not being able to function. And looking back, I don’t even think my boss sounded mad.

 

BUT THEN…..

 

I had to write a press release for an upcoming show.  A REAL PRESS RELEASE FOR A SHOW THAT WILL AIR ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! A PRESS RELEASE THAT WILL BE READ…BY THE PRESS!  Like, THE PRESS. 

Entertainment Weekly. Variety. People Magazine. TV Guide. The Chicago Tribune. The New York Times. Those places, along with every other news outlet in America (And Canada) will be sent this!!!!!

I was like, Oh my God if I fuck this up it’s all over.

I’m done.

Life destroyed.

I’ll be unemployed.

I’ll become homeless.

I’ll have to sell my teeth for money, and then get Hepatitis C and die.

Oh my God, I need anther Anne Hathaway GIF,   NOW!!!!!!!!!

dream2

 

I think Anne is the only person who truly understands my struggles.

 

So, I’ve sent my draft of the press release to my boss, and we’re going to go over it on Monday.

SO, OK SURE. SHE HASN’T ACTUALLY SAID ANYTHING BAD ABOUT IT…. YET.

But there’s always a chance that could ruin it!

I mean, it was my first major press release after all.

Do you think she’ll understand that?

Oh lord, here comes the sweats… I’m such a failure. I’m going to die.

This is it! Goodbye cruel world!

dreams3

 

 

OR, IS THIS ALL JUST ANXIETY?

 

I mean, new beginnings are hard. For everyone. Anytime you have to learn something new. Or be in a new place. Surrounded by new people. There’s always going to be a learning curve. You’ll never be completely perfect right off the bat when you’re in an unfamiliar area, doing new and unfamiliar things.

That’s just life.

But when you have depression and anxiety, making those little mistakes (what normal humans probably consider “learning”) can be really hard on us. We dwell on them. We worry about them.

Or, with the press release example, we can worry without even hearing anything bad! It’s that unknowingness that gets us. We want to be assured that we’ve done good.

That we’re safe. 

When you have depression and anxiety, instant gratification is a gift… A gift that life rarely provides.

And we have no choice, but to soldier through. We have to brave our fears.

Keep Calm

And

Carry On.

We can’t let our depression and anxiety ruin new opportunities for us. Stress and sadness will accompany us during our new exploits. But, we need to be strong. Because the payoffs that you get from taking a chance is work.

Great things come from taking risks.

So let’s take em!

Need some inspiration?

Ok watch this:

In Ohio we have a theme park called Cedar Point. The tallest ride is called the Top Thrill Dragster. It’s so tall, and requires so much energy to create enough thrust to make it over the hill, that if the weight in the train is off (like, if you have a train full of short, thin people, or a train full of overweight people) the weight imbalance causes an acceleration problem and causes the car to not make it over the hill, AND THE ROLLS BACKWARDS TOWARDS THE STATION WHERE THE OTHER TRAIN IS BEING LOADED WITH PEOPLE! 

top thrill

 

So… if you’re about to embark on something new, and are scared. Just remember… things can be much, much scarier!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

 

Dispatches From The Far North

nwt

 

Have I ever mentioned that after college I ran away into the woods?

 

LA had worn me down and beaten me to the ground. I was so depressed I could barely stand up most of the time. And then that’s when I discovered American Transcendentalism, and the ideals of running away and escaping capitalist society.

I took Thoreau for his word and ran away.  And now that I’m older and read Thoreau more clearly, I’m pretty fuckin annoyed… because he never actually ran away. He lived on a lake only a few miles from town. He literally would walk home and eat with his family and shit… what a twat.

I on the other hand, during my period of total infatuation with his ideas, really did run away into the middle of nowhere. Where there were no roads. No phones. No sewage systems…

I went to the Northwest Territories, a little north of the Great Slave Lake.

There, I lived in a “cabin” which was really just a plywood box that was covered in arctic tarp. Recently, I found the pictures I took of inside my cabin.

Whenever I’m feeling down, writing and art has always saved me. And so, being up there was no different.  Armed with nothing but sidewalk chalk (why was there sidewalk chalk? I have no idea…) Anyways, armed with sidewalk chalk and bare plywood walls, I got to work.

Here are a few of my derelict masterpieces:

 

cabin1

Here, with CHERRY BOOM, I needed color, and I need fun. I went for a retro-Pac Man thing because it was exciting.  It was something that made me feel like I wasn’t completely lost from society. A memento that there was a world full of video games, ice tea, and mattresses that I could return to at some point.

 

 

cabin2

This was my manifesto to the world. I wrote this, and then read this to myself every night before going to sleep. It was a way for me to tell myself that I’m not done. I went to the woods to find myself, but the woods wouldn’t be my final resting place.

 

 

cabin3

My absolute favorite.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written these words in my journal, or said this under my breath as I’m about to take on a challenging day. The albatross has always been my spirit animal. They’re so large, so misunderstood, and so solitary, that it’s hard to imagine how they survive. But, against the odds, and against the elements, these birds flourish, even though they can spend months over the open ocean without ever even seeing land. They’re stronger than you’d ever believe. And so, I look to the albatross, flying high, for inspiration.

 

Eye to the sky!

 

~ The Dark Horse