Tag Archives: anxiety

ANOTHER ROUND OF EXPOSURE THERAPY

bodamain

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:

boda7

 

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.)

 

boda4

 

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.

boda1

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

chi

 

 

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

mel

 

And Auckland, New Zealand

auck

 

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

Untitled design

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…

foot

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.

blues

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.

sever

 

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.

blair

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

 

albb

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????

banjo.gif

 

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.

ni

 

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.

counting

 

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

What Does This Dream Mean?

dream

Alright everyone, I have some questions for you that I want answers to. For the past few weeks I’ve been having dreams – Weird and stressful dreams.

 

The first dream I’ve been having for every night for the past few weeks.  This is a “chase” dream.  There is always some man (sometimes with a knife in hand) chasing me and a group of other people around.  I always end up somehow on my own, and nothing ever goes right.

There will be locked doors I can’t get into, no police in sight, no weapons for me to sue to fight back, and of course it’s ALWAYS dark outside.

The feeling in these dreams isn’t so much fear as it is stress.

When I’m running from this man, and I try to knock on a door, screaming my ass off, trying frantically to open it – the thought going through my head isn’t “Oh my God Im going to die!” , but it instead it’s, “Of course this door isn’t fucking opening because this is just how the world is!  Nobody is ever fucking there to help me!”

dream1

 

There is nowhere to hide.  All I can do is try and outrun him.  All I can do turn left down a street, then right, then left, maybe hide next to a dumpster in an alleyway.  But of course, he always walks down that alleyway, so it’s only a temporary solution.  There are never any people on the streets in my dreams, and the group of people I’m with in the beginning always run off in some opposite direction and I never see them again.   It’s me playing a constant cat-and-mouse game with the killer.

 

Now here is where it gets even weirder:  Twice in this span of a few weeks where I’m having this chase dream, the killer hasn’t been a man….but dinosaurs.  Namely, the T Rex.

dream 2

 

 

The first dream was very Jurassic Park.  Except, just like the dream before, it was like Jurassic Park in the worst case scenario.  There were no cars or jeeps in my dream.  The compound was (of course) locked.  We had no weapons of any kind, and there was no way off the island.  It was once again me against the elements…and dinosaurs.  Having nowhere to hide…only to run.  And no matter where you’d go… you’d begin to hear the footsteps coming closer.

The sounds of rustling, and the roar of a large dinosaur.  Then when you knew it was close, you’d have to run again.  Always running.

 

The second dinosaur dream I had was more of the Jurassic Park: Lost World, or more precisely, a Cloverfield plot. We were in a major city with a T Rex (amongst other dinosaurs) running amok.  It had all the issues of the first dream, expect this time it had all the problems of your standard post-apocalyptic story as well.

You could run and ask someone for help…but would you trust them? …would they even trust you?  And if they did invite you in, we’re they wanting to help…or were they just hoping that they could throw you in front of a dinosaur to ensure their escape?   At one point we were on this guy’s boat floating down a river and watching people on the streets of the city.  People were begging to be let into boarded up houses and the homeowner would shoot them straight through their boarded up doors.

 

+++Now that I’m writing this post, I’m pretty damn these dreams must have centered around my trust issues and feeling of societal abandonment. +++

I wake up rom these dreams exhausted.  I have after all, been running for my life all dam

 

 

And here is the second weird dream.  This a reoccurring dream I have been having for years.  And every few weeks, I’m guaranteed to have it again.

 

I have a loose tooth in the dream.  A very, very loose tooth.  A tooth so loose that it’s literally hanging on by a thread.  I can move my tongue and feel the indent in my gum where the tooth should be.  I can move my tongue underneath the bottom of the tooth as well.   It’s literally only being held into my mouth with just one little vein attached.

I sit there, stricken with fear.  What does this mean, I ask myself in the dream.  Am I sick?  Am I diseased?  Why is this tooth falling out?  Am I so unhealthy that I’m losing my teeth???  But, I’m in public.  Always in a classroom or out to dinner.  I’m desperately trying to control my anxiety so those around me don’t notice my distress. I’m doing this because I know that they don’t want to hear my problems…nobody is ever there for you..

 

…WOW… ok.  Well, I think I know the meaning of these dreams now. 

 

Does anyone out there know more?  Anyone out there hip on the whole “dream meaning” scene?  I’d love to know people’s thoughts as to what this all might mean (aside from the glaringly obvious I suppose)  or more importantly, what to do about these feelings?

 

Dream on! (In the good way I hope)

~ The Dark Horse

 

We Need To Relax, Right Now.

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Ok everyone let’s all take breath and be real here:  For those of us who are already prone to depression and/or anxiety, the current world is too much.  From Donald Trump, to North Korea, to Russia.  Even things that are supposed to be helpful like #MeToo is incredibly stressful and exhausting.

 

 The world right now kind of feels like Singapore in the Independence Day sequel.

Singgif

 

And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m totally torn, and it’s killing my energy.  Part of me says, “I need to know this shit!  This is important.  This is the work we live in.  I can’t bury my head in the sand”

But then the other part of me is like, “You’re one person and you’re prone to depression and panic attacks.. TAKE A NIGHT OFF FROM THE WORLD AND DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU SMILE YOU DUMBASS! 

 

And you know, that second part of me is right.  Yes, this is the world we live in.  And yes, a lot of people are saying a whole lot of mean and stupid shit right now.  But stressing myself out by thinking about it every night and asking how can I fix this isn’t going to fix the it.  In fact, all it will do is make my life worse.  So, what to do?

 

I think a balance is good.  Balance is always good right? So say most religions and philosophies least.

So, I’m working on a few articles that I want to try and pitch to HuffPost or something, or at least put on Medium (I’m like 99% sure they’ll all be rejected).  But that way I can at least try to have my voice out there.  But I also need time where I simply turn off.

This week I’ve been taking time before bed.  For 30 minutes I read Eat, Pray, Love (don’t judge, it’s actually a great book), and then the other 30 minutes I watch an old show called Strangers With Candy.  It’s insanely hilarious and offensive, but in this way where you always know it’s a joke. It’s one of those beautiful examples of something that can shock you but also make you feel really good inside.  I find myself laughing out loud when I watch it, and damn that’s life saving.  

jerri

If any of you are interested, it’s about a 46 yr old high school drop out, ex-hooker user, boozer, and loser – who goes back to high school to pick up right where she left…

good times!

 

So yeah, I guess that’s it for now.  I’m learning to not stress myself out.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it built by one person.  We can all only do so much, and allowing the current global crisis kill us with stress won’t help anything.

 

So let’s do what we can.  Write to your congressman, write editorials about your views, volunteer to help the needy, and for god sakes get and out vote in November and again in 2020!!!!   In the meantime, do what you can, and remember to relax.  Life is hard, so let’s not make it any harder on ourselves.  We’re a lot more useful to the world if we’re not paralyzed and exhausted from depression and anxiety.

 

~ The Dark Horse