Dear Cat Callers,

You are one of the reasons I opt to stay home. I’ve dealt with you since the age of thirteen once my breasts came in. Some of you old enough to be my grandfather, sprinkling me with your filth. 

As I grew older, I became angrier. I’d hear you hiss like a deflating tire. Fury came upon me as my teenaged self turned around and screamed obscenities in defense. You didn’t think I was beautiful after that. You didn’t want my number after I ridiculed and insulted you. Now you’ve decided I’ve got a flat ass and wasn’t “all that” anyways. 

When my sister began to develop, you’d decided that she was your new piece of fresh meat. Attempting to bombard her with your garbage in sheer daylight, I felt red, hot infuriation flood through my veins. Both of us minors, my sister four years younger. I’d run up to you, angrily declining all of your disgusting “compliments” and reciprocating with contempt and disrespect. 

I don’t want to hear you, I don’t want to see you. I am tired to death of life sized, head tilting stares. Glaring from my feet and moving upward, intrusively trailing your eyes along the curves of my body that I’ve grown to be ashamed of. You never really care to look into my eyes though. None of you do. I guess it doesn’t matter what I feel, does it? 

I’m not a person to you, I’ve never been. My sole purpose in your mind is to be nothing more than a visual snack with delusional potential. A toy for perverse use only. 

I don’t leave my house without a pair of headphones. Cranking up the volume to drown out the sounds of cats in heat. Looking forward, pretending not to see the skid row of losers craving attention. Wavering on the sides of the street, lined up like The Walking Dead is holding auditions for zombie extras. 

On that rare day I forget to charge my headphones, I walk briskly down the street looking to make no contact with you. Darting straight towards my destination. Now I’m faced with you and have no choice, I’ve resorted to spitting out a “Thank you” with disgust. 

Why? 

I’ve watched too much of the news. I’ve seen every episode of Law and Order. I know that sadly, if I reacted to you the way I had so many years ago, I’m putting myself at risk of a potential assault. I think of all the possible ways you are capable of physically hurting me. 

I know how this world works. I know all it takes is one person to become the trigger. Then comes the next bloody headline. I want no parts. So I comply and force myself to choke out a “Thank you”. I pick sexual harassment over a potential assault. This is the choice I make every single day I decide to step out into the world. 

You’ll never know the anxiety, panic and shame you instill in women all over the world. You make women think twice about something as simple as going to the store. You make women cross the street when she’s reached the middle of the sidewalk to avoid your presence. 

You have the power to ruin the way women and girls view men as a whole, and you do it all too well. You have the power to ruin the way women and girls view themselves.    

Yes, you sitting on the milk crate with the same outfit on for three days straight, bottle poorly costumed in a torn wet paper bag. You are a career dignity butcher. 

You may look bad on paper, but each and every one of you have accomplished to make at least one girl feel like sewage. What an achievement! No please, bask in your triumph. 

Fuck you, 
Kristin 

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self  

Stop The Bullshit: I Can Smell You From Here 

Can we stop the bullshit here? 

Can we stop pretending we are too cool to be in pain? 

Can we stop behaving like the trauma we experienced in life didn’t leave us wounded? 

Can we stop pushing our emotional anguish aside because we are too shameful to acknowledge something is wrong? 

What is being achieved with all this denial? 

Perfection does not exist. Everyone has their faults. Everyone. 

What do you gain by pretending otherwise? Look at where you are at the moment. 

Are you proud? 

Do you want to be the person you are at this VERY moment, for the rest of your life? 

If not, you’ve got a lot of soul searching to do. You’ve got to admit to a lot of truths that may agonize you. 

So take a good look at yourself. Not your car. Not your paycheck. 

Moving forward isn’t about your financial status. It’s about being genuine with yourself. It’s about telling yourself the shit you don’t want to hear about who you are and confronting it. 

Take a good look at the mirror. Is this it? Is this the level of maturity you’re satisfied with? 

Can you look at your reflection and tell yourself that? Look into your own eyes and tell yourself that shit without cringing. 

Do you really want to be the same person, living in the identical cycle you were exposed to as a child? Do you really want to be THIS person at the age of 40? 50? 60? 

Listen. I’m not perfect. Far from it. 

I see a therapist 4 times a month. My sessions are not easy. 

I admit things about myself that I’m ashamed of. I confess to actions I’m not proud of. 

I sit there and listen to feedback that I can’t bear to hear because it hurts too much. 

Why? 

Because I WANT to be better. I want to outgrow the bullshit. This is important for me. I want to be a better mom. I want to be a better spouse. I want to be a better person. I want to live a fulfilled life. 

I don’t want to find myself in the same dysfunctional cycle a lot of you like to pretend doesn’t exist by the time my hair is gray and I’m menopausal. 

I don’t want my child inheriting all the negative characteristics I developed in life because that’s how I CHOSE to raise him. 

So… stop it. 

Enough with the pride bullshit. Enough. 

Love yourself enough to be honest with yourself. 

It will initially sting.

I promise you, you won’t die from confronting your demons and putting them to rest. 

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Welcome To Hell: The Mixed Episode

This piece is a little different from some of the previous ones I’ve published regarding mental health. Today, I am writing to you while I’m experiencing a mixed episode. I don’t usually write or am in the mood to do so when I’m unwell. I thought this was important to share so, here I am! 

I feel like monkey shit today. I feel like doing everything, all while feeling chained to my bed. I feel like a drank a thousand energy drinks, yet my body won’t move. The only thing it’s energized is my racing mind I cannot seem to silence. 

My mind is like a fish attempting to swim up uphill against the currents. So many thoughts zooming back and forth at the speed of light. Yet, I feel bound and tied down. I hate these days. I feel on edge and am ready to snap at anyone who breathes in my direction. 

These days, I feel useless. I’m not productive. This is the third day, and they sort of fluctuate. There are moments I feel better through out the day. Then there are the crappy moments, like now. 

To be clear, let me explain what exactly a mixed episode is. According to Web MD, a mixed episode features refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode, in people experiencing an episode of mania or depression. In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. A person with mixed features experiences symptoms of both mood “poles” — mania and depression, simultaneously or in rapid sequence. 

Fun right? One of the wonderful gifts that comes with the package that is bipolar disorder. Statically, suicide rates go up when a person is experiencing a mixed episode. 

I have to fight it though, because that’s what I’d tell you if you told me you felt this way. It would make me a hypocrite not to. Today, my journal is my best friend. I’m pulling out the coping skills. I’m allowing myself to rest. Most of all, I’m trying my hardest to forgive myself for not being able to function the way I would typically. If I don’t, I may worsen or aggravate the episode. 

Why am I writing this? As I’ve said many times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one is talking about this. People who are suffering are in denial. People who want to talk are ashamed. You need to know you can have a life with this disease. Like any other disease, you will have bad days and good days. I recognize that I am not perfect. Sometimes, my best is kick ass on a Monday and not so great on a Wednesday. There is no room to feel guilt though. Only room for self care. Hang in there. You will tough it out. I will tough it out. 

The Growth Trick

Write a list of ways you’ve matured mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the last 5 years. Don’t talk about your possessions. Write about who you’ve become. Write from the core of your being. Thats where everything manifests itself. 

After you’re done, credit yourself towards your personal achievements. This is a big deal, changing, let alone wanting to for the better is far from simple, yet you did it. Pat yourself on the back! 

If you find that your list is short, take the opportunity to write about the ways you’d like to change. Do you want to be more confident? Do you want to be more tranquil? Do you want to be more in control of your emotions? Do you want to be a better parent? A better spouse? List them. 

People who came up with long lists displaying tremendous improvement, congratulations! However, you aren’t exempt from doing this either. 

Growth is something you pursue your entire life. To be complacent and to be stagnant is no life. It is self paralyzation. Love yourself enough to make YOURSELF happy. Push YOURSELF in the right direction. 

This Is Anxiety 

Fucking shit. You want to know what anxiety feels like? 

Anxiety feels like forgetting everything you’ve ever known in your entire life in an instant and being completely frozen into place. 

Anxiety is having to run back and forth to the bathroom as your stomach churns, bile burning at your throat. 

Anxiety is feeling fucking insane for being scared of everything that is actually nothing at all. 

Anxiety is saying “No” to your dreams because you don’t feel you’re good enough. 

Anxiety is that bloodcurdling, hateful voice that won’t stop screaming. 

Will you ever shut the fuck up? 

Anxiety is that icy presence that creeps into your bed, engulfing you in its piercing embrace, depleting the energy out of you. 

You cannot breathe. 

The oxygen flees the room, slipping away further and further into the night. 

It’s taking your spirit, as you stare with red rimmed eyes, helplessly into the sky,

Choking and clawing at your throat hysterically,

No matter how much you try,

You know there’s no escape; 

You see, anxiety is only the prison that lives in your brain. 

No One Gives A Fuck About Brain Flu

An episode of mania or depression feels like being sick with the flu. 

When you have the flu, your body goes out of whack. Your body felt great yesterday, today you ache all over. Your temperature was normal yesterday. Now you’re burning up like an oven. Your nose was capable of breathing in fresh air yesterday. Today, it’s clogged, runny and in pain from sneezing and wiping your nose. Your throat and lungs were fine yesterday, now the congestion is thick and you’ve coughed to the extent of vomiting. Your throat now feels like it’s been dragged against sand paper. 

Except this time, the flu is in your brain. Everything that could’ve functioned yesterday, does not today. You were energetic yesterday, today you are lethargic. You were sharp, ambitious, and funny yesterday; and today, a complete lack of focus and apathy. You could’ve felt ecstatic yesterday, yet feel the level of sadness felt when losing a loved one. You could’ve loved yourself and looked forward to the future yesterday. Yet today, hate every fiber of your being and wouldn’t give a damn about what’s to come. You could’ve felt so blessed to be alive yesterday; Today you are planning your suicide. 

Except when your brain has the flu, it doesn’t go away in about 5-7 days. You don’t know when brain flu will go away.  A day, weeks, months… Whose to say? Also, brain flu WILL come back periodically. It’s inevitable. 

When you have the flu, people feel sympathy for you. They are empathetic and compassionate. They encourage you to rest. They offer to come to your home to help you. Even cook and clean. If you need to throw up, your hair is held back. Your medicine is given to you while you rest in bed. People concern themselves about you. 

When your brain has the flu, no one cares. They assume apathy is laziness. That being withdrawn and socially anxious means you’re arrogant. When you are feeling hopeless, mentally drained, and self hatred, that you’re exaggerating, cynical and making self deprecating jokes.

Finally, when you’ve lost all will to live because your symptoms won’t go away or got worse, they will label you selfish or tell everyone they loved you so much. Yet, the last time they called you was 4 years ago. 

Imagine constantly being kicked in the gut while having the flu. Being looked at with disgust and being told to “Suck it up.” That’s what it feels like when someone has brain flu. 

That’s where we are in life. That is the extent of  our education and concern with mental illness. That’s the limit of our evolution. How does that make you feel?