Tag Archives: anxiety

What China Taught Me

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So, I got back from China a month ago, and I realize I still havent blogged about my time there. And I think it’s pretty important to.  So, here it goes: I was there for a summer internship, and I recently returned back to Boston for school.

However, I’ve come back a changed man.

I feel more confident now. More sure of myself. Stronger. Wiser. and…. Well… I’m trying to figure out why.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this new feeling. I love feeling like I’ve somehow reached a new milestone in my life. A new “breakthrough” as the physiology world would like to call it.

And I think I’ve discovered what happened:

I was teaching English with this program. The program was horrible. The other Americans there were racist against Chinese people. They hated China and thought it was so “like totally weird” as one girl put it. And so, I had no choice but to breakaway.

SH sunset

 

I taught my class. I had to obviously. It was how I was making my money in China. But after the schoolday was over, I left. I didn’t hang with the Americans at all. I needed to escape their toxic, and frankly, disgusting fucking attitude towards the world. I still get mad just thinking about it.

Like when my boss…my 35 year old boss who chose to work in China picked up a pair of child scissors, and then said “I wish they made full-sized scissors in this country, but Asians have these damn midget hands” ……

There are so many problems with that, not to mention that my classroom had full-sized scissors, so my boss had either gone his entire 3 years in China using only child scissors, or he just didn’t respect Chinese people (and apparently little people either).

And that was just one of MANY…. Don’t even get me started on the time when my boss brought the two African American teachers into a classroom and said, “We’re doing a scavenger hunt for the students and one of the tasks is to take a picture with someone born in Africa, so they’re probably going to come up to you and ask for pictures… is that ok?”

FIRST OFF: THIS IS COMPLETELY TRUE. PEOPLE, I SHIT YOU NOT.

AND SECONDLY, WHY SAY THAT WHILE I’M IN THE ROOM? HOW STUPID ARE YOU? So obviously, when the two black teachers went and told everyone what he said, I was there to back their story up.

OK. MOVING FORWARD. MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS GOING OFF THE CHARTS JUST THINKING ABOUT THAT FUCKING PROGRAM.

 

ANYWAYS…..

So there I am. In China. I don’t know much of the language. I don’t know a single person. And the one thing that I’m sure of is that I want nothing to do with anyone in my program. I signed up for that program being promised a great way to visit China, make some money, and have a group of friends to explore with.

That wasn’t going to happen…..

So, I ventured out alone. I had no other choice. I couldn’t handle being around a group of people who went, “Squat toilets? OMG EWWWW LIKE, WHERE ARE WE, THE JUNGLE??”

I joined a gym. Gyms are a great way to burn off energy, meet people, stay healthy… and hey, if all else failed, and I literally couldn’t find anything to do, considering I was now in China alone, I could always bum around at the gym for hours.

So, I went to the nearest gym (which was three subway stops away at the China Art Museum Station). I walked in and held up my translation app. I tried showing the words, JOIN, GYM, MEMBERSHIP, WORKOUT, and EXERCISE, but nothing worked. The women at the front desk didn’t understand.

So I mimed the actions of lifting weights. Then I pointed to me. And then I pointed at the ground. Trying to show Me, workout, here. Finally, the women understood. They went and got a trainer to give me a tour. The trainer, named Tommy, was hot as all fucking hell.

PEOPLE LISTEN TO ME -> The young men of Shanghai are like the fucking Asian Adonis.

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They’re way taller than any Asian stereotype. They gym like crazy. Their skin is perfect and hair always impeccable.

I stared at Tommy and shook his hand. Oh my god his biceps.

He didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much Chinese. We toured the gym completely using translate apps.

He would speak into the app: “1,000Rmb for the summer.”

It would translate it to English, and then he would hand me the phone.

I would then say, “1,000 is too much. Make it lower.”

Then it would translate it to Mandarin, and I would hand it back to Tommy.

Something about haggling with an app, rather than face-to-face emboldened me. It was much easier to demand a cheaper price when you didn’t have to look the guy in the eye when asked.

Finally, after much back-and-forth and such, we arranged that I would pay 600Rmb for the summer. A good 400Rmb cheaper than the original offer. After I paid, Tommy, my new gym buddy, had me add him on WeChat (which is like the Chinese WhatsApp…and Facebook…and Instagram…and Apple Pay…it’s kind of like everything, really)

That night, I felt proud. I had just walked into a gym and managed to get a membership and haggle the price, even though I hardly spoke the language at all.

Then, I got a message from Tommy. It was in Chinese, but luckily WeChat has a mode that translates it.

He said he wanted to hangout. He could teach me Chinese and I could teach him English.

Obviously I said yes. How could I turn down a hot straight gym guy who wanted to hang out with me?

I told him yes.

He responded with: 哥们

I translated it, and it read brothers. 

I didn’t immediately know what it meant, but I imagined that it was probably the Chinese version of calling someone “Bro”. The idea that a hot guy called me bro made my heart beat fast… also, it got me a little horny.

 

SH FC 1

My gym was in Pudong, along with my work. So I started visiting areas of Puxi a lot (the other side of the river). I did a lot of exploring around The French Concession, Shanghai’s  trendiest area. It’s tree-lined streets, cafes, and mega-malls were always fun. And it was there that I made another group of friends. I wandered into a bookstore/cafe called The Mix Place.

 

I was walking around, flipping trough books and magazines, blown away by cool this place was. Then a girl next to me, very shyly informed me that the books here are all in Chinese.

I smiled, and said that it was fine. Then I complimented her on how good her English was. She blushed and acted shy. She told me studied a year in America, in San Diego. Then her friends, another girl, and a guy (who of course was fucking hot as hell. How do these Shanghainese guys stay so fucking fit?) We got to talking. I told them about my love of Asian food, and how I fell in love street food like Jianbing and baos.

They were all impressed that I, an American, had ventured into the realm of Shanghai street food. We all swapped WeChats.

Flash-forward a few days, and we were all hanging out again. Running amok all over the city. Imagine one of those movie montages where a group of friends are running around town, eating all the food, laughing, walking through the city lights, and there’s all that fun music playing to much fanfare, hoo-ha, and pfeffernusse.

We tried foods I wouldn’t dare alone. Stinky Tofu, century eggs, Chicken stomach.

We also got amazing treats, like milk tea, bubble tea, duck jerky, soup dumplings, and the list went on.

 

It was a culinary bender of epic proportions.

And we did this A LOT! It wasn’t just once! These people became good friends of mine. We hung out a lot, and It was amazing. They showed me Shanghai.  The ins, the outs. The wonderful, and the even more wonderful.

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On the train, where to next? The options were endless.

 

 

BUT DON’T THINK I STOPPED GOING TO THE GYM! I gymed 5 days a week.

And Tommy was a big help with that. Being able to walk in and get a high-five from that sexy motherfucker was a huge incentive. Then we’d say hi and ask each other how we we’re doing. Then there was this one time when I saw him in the locker room. After his shifts, he would work out… and I saw him in his underwear! (squeal!)  Oh my god. I don’t know what else to say besides that he was just a beautiful work of art.

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And then came the day when we actually hung out. We got coffee (but both of us ordered tea) We did a lot of talking through WeChat translate and Google Translate. He always gave me a look though… A look that made me think maybe, just maybe… he wasn’t straight. I never asked him, I liked the silent, multi-language game of cat and mouse we had developed.  Was I his bro? Was he just a super confident and sexy-as-all-hell man?    … or was he secretly wanting me as much as I wanting him?

 

Through Tommy, I was introduced to more of the Shanghai gym bros. And I have to admit, I developed crushes on all of them.  And here’s the best part: Shanghai has 24 million people. There isn’t much room to have personal space. To solve this problem, the folks of Shanghai just stopped caring about personal space. (How easy is that?) It was totally normal for one of the gym bros to see me in the locker room, while he was completely naked, just chillin out naked, cuz why not? And then just start chatting with me. My eyes would always wander southward… glimpsing at the pecs….the six pack….the adonis belt…. OMG HOW DO THEY DO IT? 

 

By the end of the summer, between my French Concession friends, and my gym bros, I had a very full social life in Shanghai. More full than here in America actually…

Is that kind of sad?  Naw.

Anyways, it’s like this: I realized that I built a life for myself in a city I didn’t know, learning the language as I went along. It was a crash course in life. But I did it. I survived.

Nay!…not survived, I thrived!

I said fuck you to the all douchebags around me. They spent their entire summer experiencing “China” only by clubbing with other Westerners in the tourist clubs until 4am, coming back to campus, having to wake up at 730 to “teach”, after class they’d go take their naps, so they could be ready to hit the clubs again that night.

They ended up loving “China” by avoiding China. They stayed in their groups of 10 or more Americans, keeping each other safe and in a bubble that would never be questioned. They were weak.

On the flight home, I thought of Tommy, and the other sexy as fuck gym bros.

blarg

 

And then I thought of my French Concession friends. And how much fun I had running all over the city, eating everything in site.

And that’s when I realized I had balls. 4 years ago I was collapsing from agoraphobia in Australia. The depression I was trying to fix, alone, for the past ten years had finally broken me. The depression brought anxiety, which brought panic, which ultimately led me to lock myself in my apartment, afraid to experience more panic attacks in the outsides world..

But now, I felt like the King of Shanghai.

How time flies right? 

 

~ The Dark Horse

(PS- I’d like to thank Harry Shum Jr. for standing in as my “Tommy” visual representation.)

 

 

 

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What I Learned From “Walden”

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So, every American probably knows about Henry David Thoreau’s classic, Walden; or A Life In The Woods, but better known simply as Walden.

We had to read that book for my rhetoric class, and yesterday was our class discussion on it. In my opinion, Thoreau was an obnoxious asshole who thought he was better than other people, but was actually a spoiled little privileged piece of shit. (You can only imagine how much my class of English nerds loved hearing that…)

The class is cross-sectioned, meaning various majors can take the class because it can be applied to multiple fields, such as English, Crit Lit, Philosophy, and people like me, in the writing program (I however, am the only person in the class from the writing program.)

So there I am, stuck in this class with all these English majors who are trained to read between the lines and are saying things like, “Oh I noticed Thoreau’s use of religious metaphors, I wonder what the Christian context of this book is and how it impacted and influenced Thoreau in his life?”

And in my head, I’m like…. NONE! He literally states in the book that he hates organized religions. Most likely he described the woods as a Garden of Eden because he was writing to America in the 1800’s when almost everyone was a devout Christian, so it was just an easy metaphor!

Ugh… academics are so far up their own fuckin ass sometimes.

walde

 

ANYWAYS, that isn’t what this post is about. It’s about this: 

At one point, one of the English major guys was reading his favorite passage from Walden, where Thoreau is listing off all the fauna he sees in the Walden woods.

And the guy reads the word lichen. But he pronounces it as Lich-in even though the word is pronounced as Lie-kin. And I sat there and paused.

Suddenly, memories rushed into my head.

I remembered eating lichen when I was up North in the NWT.

NWT

After I graduated from college in Los Angeles, I was destroyed. I was depressed, lonely, and miserable. I had an eating disorder. I was getting sick all the time. I had a sex addiction. I was collapsing all over the place.

I had also fallen in love with American Transcendentalism, and had already read a bit of Thoreau (and didn’t like him much). I was also reading people like Emerson and Muir. They all praised the ideas of running away into the woods, escaping the trappings of the capitalist lifestyle, and living in the moment.

I searched and searched for a form of redemption. I needed to run away and escape LA. I needed to escape the hell I was living in.  Finally, I found an opprotunity to live up North where my shelter would be provided. I would be living 90 miles away from the nearest road. The only way to and from the lake I’d be living on was hiking it, or float plane. I’d have to make at least a 3 month commitment in order to have my transportation paid for. I would be living in a “Cabin” that was really just a plywood box.

Below are a few pictures for you. When I got really sad, I took chalk and drew on the inside of my cabin walls! It always made me feel happier.

 

Ok, I’m getting lost in thought.  Stay on track, stray on track!

 

So, at one point, we had a group of people from the Dene tribe living with us, bringing the grand total of people living in the woods to a whopping 10.  However, it was better than a few weeks before when there were only 2 of us.  That shit was like The Shining.

NWT

 

OMG, I’m getting off track again.

Look, long story short, we had to live off the land. We grew our own food (The 30 days of light really helped with things growing crazy fast), we hunted moose, we fished for whitefish and Pike. And, it being the Boreal Forest, we foraged. The Far North is loaded with wild strawberries, raspberries, juniper berries, Rosehips, spinach, this green plant that’s sort of like spinach, and my absolute favorite, Saskatoon berries. Saskatoon berries made the best jam in the whole world! Another food source, the Dene told us, was lichen, Reindeer Moss in particular. They showed us many ways to eat it, sometimes simply mixing it into whatever you’ve just cooked to add more nutrition.  I became the foregoing king. Like a truffle pig surrounded by….idk…some really fertile truffle forest i suppose, I could spot a wild berry bush from a mile away.

 

Flash-forward to yesterday: I’m back in the classroom, listening to this beatnik blabber on about how mystical it is that Thoreau found plants in the woods.

And I asked myself… Who actually understands Thoreau better? This English nerd could read Walden 500 times, but he’ll mispronounce lichen every time. Also, has he ever even seen lichen? Has he ever eaten it?

I felt a rush of self confidence come over me. These academics like to think they’re the smartest people in the world. They think they know everything better than everyone else.

But do they? 

How much have they actually been through? What do they really know?

There is a quote, but I don’t really know how it goes. It says something like:

One man grows up sitting inside reading books about knives, another man grows up working in a shed making knives. Which of the two is more likely to cut himself?

Point is, I’m realizing as I get older that I’ve actually done a lot, and I’ve been through a lot. A lot that other people haven’t ever been through. And slowly but surely, my confidence level grows. My self respect increases. I feel more and more worthy.

Yes, I ran away into the woods because I was a complete mess…. but how many people can say they’ve ran away into the woods? How many people grew their own food and caught their own fish? How many people get to see the Northern Lights?

And I think a lot of us are like that.  Those who have been through things like depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, or just being the outcast who had no one to turn to…any and all of it really. 

We may not have had the easiest lives, but we got degrees from the school of hard knocks, which taught us valuable lessons. Lessons that maybe we don’t even know we’ve learned yet. And as corny as it sounds, I think that’s worth something.

I think maybe it makes our story all the more interesting.

It’s like the end of that Robert Frost poem:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

Which again, academics just love to get this one wrong. It’s really popular these days in English classes to teach that Frost didn’t think “the road less traveled” was any more exciting or fulfilling. They say he believed it was simply, different.

To that, I say fuck y’all. That’s just more talk from people who have spent their lives in the plushes of academia.

Was being a complete mess in LA, then losing my mind, and running away into the woods the easy option?

No. of course not.

But then I think about an alternative; The paved, easy path. I wonder what my life would have looked like if I had gone to some big public university in a college town in Ohio or something, joined a frat, drank at parties, and instagrammed it….would that have been a better life? HELL FUCKIN’ NO. 

After all, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

 

Keep on walkin’!

~ The Dark Horse

 

ANOTHER ROUND OF EXPOSURE THERAPY

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Hey everyone out there with anxiety and panic! Have you ever said to yourself,

“Gee wiz fellas, you know what I think would just be too great for my mental health? Extremely small, confined spaces, that are dark, smelly, and require lots of physical exertion?”

Well then, I have I got the place for you! 

Do you know those Escape Rooms that are so popular?  Well did you know that there is a chain called Boda Borg?  It’s like a Chucky Cheese playpen for adults. You go in and it’s literally 20 escape rooms. Very elaborate, long, multiple-roomed escape rooms. Some are more mental, some are more physical. Some require both.

I’ve made a good group of friends here at Harvard through a gaming club. And it’s been discussed that we should do a Boda Borg day sometime. And well, yesterday ended up being the day.

 

***A brief history for anyone reading this post who hasn’t read my blog in the past***

I’ve struggled with depression since I was a kid (bullying and being gay in conservative America…blah blah blah, you get it.)  And then after years of not taking care of myself and never addressing the depression,  I started breaking out into anxiety attacks at 20. By 23, I was full-blown agoraphobic. That’s when I started writing this blog. And from there I started the very long, bumpy road of recovery from completely insane, to regaining my humanity in an attempt to live my life rather than hide from it…

 

So anyways, when I arrived at Boda Borg yesterday, I was like… Oh holy fuck. 

boda3

 

Have you ever watched those claustrophobic movies like The Descent? Or how about weird torture movies like SAW? And have you been like, thank god I don’t have to go through that?  Then great news! In Boda Borg you can do both! 

descent

 

 

Our first “Mission” was called PLATOON. And we walked into this room and had to find the supplies that we were told to get.  Once we found them, A tiny little door that you had to crawl into was unlocked. And when I say tiny little door, I’m not kidding.  Here’s an example of what the door-openings look like:

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It was practically pitch-black inside, with only a few little orange lights to add just enough light to allow to see where the walls were.

Inside this dark box, you realized you have to crawl and snake your way between platforms UPWARDS in almost complete blackness. You climb your way all the way from crawling-height on the first floor, up to the second floor!  (I graciously made a visual representation for everyone below)

 

ENTER

 

Oh and I forgot to mention!!!  So, every time you progress to a new room in Boda Borg, the door closes behind you AND LOCKS! So, we get into this cramped area and the door locks behind us, and it’s tight, and dark, so sort of disorienting. I try pushing the little door open to get some light in, but it’s locked… Now, I don’t believe in God. But in that moment, I silently said to God, or the Universe, or whatever, “Look, if you allow me to have a panic attack in front of my newfound friends, I swear, I will fucking kill you.”

We started snaking our way up the platforms, on our knees, bending our bodies, lifting ourselves up little by little. I could feel panic at my side. I could feel it just wanting to break loose and cause havoc. But, I stayed calm.  Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift!  Up to the next platform I went. Then I crawled over to the next opening. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift! When we finally made it to the top and I could see the light of the room (which, the rooms themselves can be claustrophobic to some, but after snaking your way through thatthe rooms are a refreshing wide-open expanse.

boda2

 

But soon you figure out that Boda Borg is filled with nothing but these panic-inducing tactics.  Almost everything requires crawling through tight passageways, or climbing up tight passageways, or climbing across tight passageways (as I found in one tube that had monkey-bars running through it. The tube itself is lined with sensors, so if your body touches it at any point, you fail and have to restart the entire mission.)

 

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As the day went on, it began to get fun. It’s like a panic attack actually.  When you start getting panic attacks, you’re like,

OH MY GOD I’M DYING!!!!!!!

But after a hundred panic attacks, you’re like…

OMG WHATEVER, THESE HAVEN’T KILLED ME YET. I’M SO OVER IT.

It’s just like that.  Another room, another insanely claustrophobic space that you’ve been locked into.  But they haven’t killed you so far, right?

I started loosening up. I started really enjoying myself. I started to have a lot of fun!  We ended up being there 8 hours! You can buy a 35 dollar day pass that allows you unlimited access the entire day.  And we we’re determined to beat all 20 missions.

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Here’s a great example btw:  When I say these spaces are tight, I’m not kidding.  They’e like the scenes in Alien where they’re climbing through the ventilation ducts

alien

 

But here’s one thing I will say: Having friends there helped so much. Knowing that you were there with friends as a team, was amazing. Because you weren’t alone. You weren’t abandoned. And isn’t that really the root cause of most of our anxiety and panic anyways?  It’s always the fear that we’re going to be helpless somehow?

But with friends there, it’s fun. You have support. You have laughter. You have fun!

And that’s so true with mental health in general.  Humans are social creatures. We need meaningful interaction with others, otherwise, we lose our fuckin’ brains. I know a lost of us like to think that we’re the lone wolf or whatever, but take it from someone who literally had to be a lone wolf for some much of my life…

It isn’t fun and it isn’t glorious. It’s fucking miserable. 

I fully believe that support is the number 1 key to helping us stay sane and happy.  And I’m glad that I’ve made some friends here, and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can challenge my depression, anxiety, and panic.

What do you guys think helps you the most when confronting your fears?

 

~ The Dark Horse

(And no, this isn’t proofread. It’s summer vacation, and I aint proofreading shit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMER IS COMING!

SUMMER

 

So, it’s May and summer is just around the corner!

(Well, for some lucky people around the globe, it’s always Summer…Just know, I’m jealous of you!)

But here, the trees are finally greening up. The flowers blooming. And the weather finally warming. I had my big event 2 weeks ago, and just finished my last final today!  I’M FREE!!!!!!!!!

But now I’m asking myself: what to do? 


 

I feel great, like I’ve accomplished so much this past school year…and yet, I can hear depression and anxiety knocking on my door, like the killer in some horror movie.

I can hear them whispering to me…

“You did good…but can you really top that?”

“Where do you go from here? have you ever considered THAT?”

“What if you fail the next time you try?”

“What if this all was a fluke?”

baba

 

Ah yes, depression and anxiety. Creeping around in the darks of your mind, like they’re the fuckin’ Babadook.

 

SO HERE’S WHAT I AM DOING

shang

 

I’m reminding myself that I have an internship this summer in Shanghai! I worked hard to get it, and I’m scared and excited! And yes, my depression and anxiety want to creep in yet again, and say things like:

“What if you hate it?”

“Won’t the language barrier be hard?”

“May this even be… dangerous?” 

“I mean…the world is becoming an increasingly hostile place after all….”

“And won’t it be lonely?”
“And OMG I ALMOST FORGOT! ….What if you fuck up? What if you fail? What if you’re not good enough?  Boy oh boy… you better just stay home in bed huh?”

 

But I’m a determined person. I don’t want to fail…and not only do I not want to fail, but I’m determined to achieve greatness in my life. The idea of going back to cafe jobs and retail makes me dread the future.  AND YOU KNOW WHAT BITCHES? I FUCKING REFUSE TO DREAD THE FUTURE ANY LONGER. I grew up in Ohio during the recession. All I ever had was people being like…

“get your head out of the clouds!”

“You hate your job? WE ALL HATE OUR JOBS! Just be thankful you have one.”

“There are tons of unemployed people who would love to take your place!”

“And where do you think you’ll go anywhere? There’s no jobs in this country! You’ll just run off to a big city and end up unemployed and on the streets!”

“Why can’t you just be thankful.”

“Why isn’t this life enough for you?”

“The world outside Ohio is even scarier!”

“Risks are scary! And hard! Just don’t do it!”

(I’m starting to realize where my anxiety learned all it’s lines from…)

But guess what people. I am my own person and I can choose to do what I want with my life. And if I want to have my head in the clouds my whole life, dreaming of happiness, then god dammit, I’m going to!

And for all you Ohioans out there (you know who you are)… do you know where “having my head in the clouds” has taken me?

I’ve been able to go to college in Los Angeles

LA

 

 

And Chicago!

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I’ve been able to live and work in Melbourne, Australia

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And Auckland, New Zealand

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It’s even given me the opportunity to be here at Harvard.

harvard

 

 

Also, on a random note: The Real Housewives series has also seemed to follow me from LA, to Melbourne, to Auckland…it’s been weird.

RHauckland

 

 

BUT ANYWAYS, YOU GET THE POINT! 

 

There will always be people out there who put you down. Whether it be that they’re jealous of you, afraid that you’re a stronger person than them, or maybe even genuinely just believe you’ll fail (but that normally spawns from one of the first two.) And unfortunately, our brains are wired socially. So when we hear that shit enough as we grow up, depression and anxiety are likely to follow. So then, not only are you fighting those around you, but you’re fighting your own internalized sense of being failure.

 

So….. let’s devise a plan:

home

If negativity wants in so bad, LET IT IN. Invite negativity inside. Offer it a cocktail, an amuse-bouche with a complimentary aperitif if you will. Let that depression and anxiety get comfortable. Let all the harsh words from those who doubt you take a seat. perhaps lay out a few copies of Vogue?

“It’s the September Issue,” you can say, seeing at that is the pinnacle of Vogue’s year. “Anna lent me a copy early…she wanted my advice.”

A collection of photos from famed photograph David LaChapelle hang on the wall. This house really is the paramount of distinguished taste. Then, as everyone is enjoying the party, quietly walk outside into the cool night air.  get int your car, and…

 

boom

~ The Dark Horse

 

EXPOSURE THERAPY: Or, I’m Bringing A Drag Queen To Campus

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Alright everyone, so, if you’ve read my blog for a while you will know that I used to have a little problem.  This super tiny, basically nonexistent problem was that I had agoraphobia. In fact, for a while I couldn’t even walk out the front door of my apartment without having a panic attack. And then for years after that, I struggled to be in open places.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing therapist who gave me what’s called Exposure Therapy.

For those who don’t know what it is, it’s basically exactly how it sounds. You get over your anxiety by being thrown into the situations that give you anxiety.  It’s hell, I’ll be honest. But damn, that shit works!

For me, I had gotten into therapy way too late. I didn’t start until I had formed a complete fear of the outside world. Anywhere that wasn’t my house was a source of anxiety. Also, I’m gay and have always acted really weird around straight guys (because they were always mean to me) and I was especially weird around hot jock straight guys (because…you know, alpha male types are straight up cunts). Anyways, so my therapist, being the clever bitch she is, figured the perfect solution…. I was going to do my exposure therapy at the football stadium on campus…

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And not only would I be doing it there, but I would be doing it DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM AS THEY HAD THEIR PRACTICE.

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Yes, that’s right. She had me run up and down the bleachers, and then run onto the football field as they practiced and spin in circles to make myself dizzy… all right in front of the football team.  The goal was to make me feel like I was going to pass out, and then show me that I didn’t pass out.

Look people, it wasn’t easy.  In fact, as I ran the bleachers I was screaming profane things at my therapist.

“You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt!” I screamed over and over.

She simply responded with, “You know, it’s weird, I didn’t know that people who were about to pass out had the energy to scream like that.”

I ended up really loving this girl. She was amazing and was exactly what I needed in a therapist, I just didn’t know it.

 

ANYWAYS, so what does all this have to do with Drag Queens right???? 

Well, one of my internships on campus is making episodes for a podcast. Back in January, the guy who runs the podcast was like, “Hey, can you make an event happen? An event would be great publicity.”  Now, I didn’t know much about drag, but I thought it would so bright and colorful to have an event with a drag queen.  And how much fun right? I’m all about having people learn in a fun setting. Trying to learn when you’re bored as fuck is impossible.

So, I’ve been spending the past few months making arrangements and learning everything there is to know about drag. It’s been a whirlwind, and now, it’s almost here. I am actually going to be hosting the event!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  I’m going to be the one on-stage hosting the event and asking the questions. And here’s the thing….

This is going to be my first time on stage since developing anxiety.

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That’s right. I’m going to be in front of an auditorium that seats 200 people, with all eyes on me.  This is Exposure Therapy 2.0 bitches, and I’m determined to make this fun. I’m determined to not get anxious or have a panic attack in front of a crowd. I want to make people laugh. I want them to have fun, and to enjoy themselves.

And on top of that, I’m going to keep learning. This is the next step of my journey. I’ve done a great job of getting back into society, but this is my chance to crawl out from the shadows. I’ve always been a natural entertainer. A natural people-person. The anxiety and depression just kind of masked that for like… over a decade. But it’s never too late.

Do you understand that?

It’s never ever too late.

We can always grow and always be better. Depression and anxiety does not control us. We control them.

And furthermore, this goes beyond depression and anxiety. This is true for all of us, from people with PTSD, to someone who is having a midlife crisis, or anyone who just feels like they aren’t living to their true potential.   You aren’t dead are you?  No, I didn’t think so. And since you’re alive, it means you’re able to change.

To grow.

To be better.

To be happy.

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If this boy from Indiana can have the balls to put on a dress, then trust me, we can have the balls to change our lives.

 

Let’s Do This!

~ The Dark Horse

Learning New Things: Or, Learning To Soar And Never Giving Up

 

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So, I’m picking up some hobbies. I’ve grown tired of feeling stale and boring. When people ask what I do in my spare time, I’m like… “I read, write, go to the gym, drink tea at cafes as read and write…and I eat….and stuff?”   And then I sit there and I’m like… my god, I sound like I’m 90.

 

I need a little more magic in my life. I need something that takes me away from the constant cycle of “reading and writing”. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love to read and write…but sometimes I just need something else.  Anything else, really.  I love writing and It’s a great creative outlet. But it’s so silent, so isolated. I want something performative and exciting!

 

Years and years ago I bought a banjo. A banjo I have hardly touched ever since because when you’re consumed with depression you don’t feel like you have the energy or brain power to do anything. But, I’m better these days. And it’s time for me to start doing all the things I spent so many years not doing. So, I’m gonna’ pick that bitch back up again. I love music and I wish I was better at being able to make it. And then I was like…

Well, I own a fucking instrument!!! Why don’t I do something about it????

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I’m working on this huge project right now at school where I’m writing a podcast episode on Drag. And even though I’m gay and have had a few experiences where I’ve seen a drag queen walking down the street or something, I’ve actually never been to a show, nor have I ever watched Drag Race or anything. So I’ve been doing a crash course in Drag lately and have been discovering a whole bunch of really talented people. The crash course is what’s gotten me into the UK Big Brother season that Courtney Act on it (who thank god won, cuz everyone else in that house was a bloody cunt to her)

Anyhoo, there is this drag queen named Trixie Mattel. She sings folk/country/alt/singer-songwriter something type of music or something? I’m not sure how I’d classify her style, but anyways, she’s super talented. She can play instruments and sings really well.

trixie

I had reached out to her for an interview for the podcast episode I’m working on, and she totally blew me off….which kind of sucks….BUT I’M NOT BITTER AT ALL..….WOULD A BITTER PERSON TYPE IN ALL BOLD CAPS????? I DON’T THINK SO!

But anyways, I was like, look: If this sassy cunt has the balls to put on a dress, wig, and makeup and then rock an autoharp on a stage….then god dammit I can learn a fuckin’ banjo!  And so, learn a banjo I shall!

 

 

On top of that, I’ve also started learning Mandarin.

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I have an internship in Shanghai this summer, and I’ve also been selected to do some travel blogging while I’m there, which is insanely cool!

The internship says I don’t need any experience speaking Mandarin, but fuck that. Goin’ to a foreign country without knowing any of their language is white-fuckin’-trash.   Ok…actually, I take that back. If someone is going to a tourist place for a week, then I can see them not needing to learn the language.  I don’t think anyone going to Cancun for Spring Break would have any need to learn Spanish (however, America is rapidly changing, so learning Spanish is becoming more and more useful in our country and I may argue should be a mandatory secondary language taught in schools).

Anyways…. what the fuck was I saying? … Oh right. So yeah, I’m going to be in China for the summer. And when you settle and live someplace for a while and have a chance to really just get into a groove there, knowing the language and culture is key. Especially since I’m going to be venturing out on my own to explore the city to write these travel pieces on top of the internship.

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So, I’m doin’ this! 

I’m living my life. I’m done sitting passively as life passes me by. Any of you, go back to my early blog posts. Read some posts from back when I was agoraphobic. It was insane! I literally let my youth slip by as I struggled and fought against the issues I was having. It breaks my heart when I go back and think about my years in California, Australia, and New Zealand. I was running and searching. I was looking for myself. I was trying to find who I was. But I was so hurt from my past and had nobody there to help me move forward, so I just stumbled tumbled and crashed.

But, that’s growth right?  Growth is moving forward and learning from the past so you can become better for the future. I remember a great line from one of my favorite movies, The Time Machine. The main character keeps trying to go back in time to save his girlfriend who dies, but no matter how many times he goes back and tries to change the situation, she always dies in some way. The past is cemented. There’s no changing it.

At one point he says “The only way to go is forward”.

~ The Dark Horse