Addressing the anxious spiral all my facebook friends witnessed

I went home for a month over Christmas.

In that time I got too comfortable being home and not being in classes; too comfortable being close to the friends I’ve known and cared for for years; too comfortable with having a car and public transportation that can take me pretty much anywhere in the city, neighbouring cities, and the Southern part of the province. I got too comfortable with my parents taking care of me; too comfortable with all the animals that fill my house (and make it next to impossible for me to breathe).

I got too comfortable with the easy and comfortable. With what I have known my whole life.

When I first moved across the country it was because I wanted to challenge myself, take risks, and because I was raised on the motto “go big or go home.” I took a huge leap and it was hard, but (I think) it (eventually) got easier.

Then I went home, and came back and shit hit the fan.

I was not adjusting very well to being back. Today is actually the first day in a week that I haven’t sobbed while eating breakfast.

I was uncomfortable in my apartment, and constantly felt anxious. This is not great when you’re a home body and seek comfort from home. I was (and still am) incredibly homesick.

I had spent all of December bashing this very small city. I was coming down hard on things that could improve (seriously I just want to be able to actually go more than a few blocks on public transportation), and pointing out all the differences. I’m from a fairly big and developing city a few hours outside of Toronto. I travel to Toronto and cities in the States frequently. I am used to a gogogo and convenient lifestyle. The island that I live on now forces me to slow down. And when I slow down, my brain kicks into overdrive and I hate it. That’s not the point of this post though. I want to tell you about my favourite part of this place – something I only truly realized after leaving and coming back.

The main reason I love the city I’m living in now (and I really do love it about 85% of the time) is because of how safe I feel.

Back home, I hate walking anywhere. I hate walking in my city, in the Universities’ city, and I loathe walking around in Toronto. I refuse to walk by myself in any of these places. I hated walking to my night classes on campus. I hated walking with earbuds in because I didn’t trust my surroundings. I learned to constantly check my surroundings when young women were being pulled of the side of the street a few years ago. I learned to live with the anxiety of walking around these places. I learned to walk with my hands clutching my keys. I learned to get off the bus and call someone for a ride when this really creepy dude who would never leave me alone got on. I took kickboxing classes for a year partly because I wanted to be able to defend myself.

Here, I walk around with complete ease. I have to walk pretty much everywhere and I always go alone. I’m still cautious (can’t take the paranoid city girl out of me), but I’ve learned to smile at strangers or listen to music. I can walk to all my night classes without wanting to scream at the slightest noise. I walk downtown and don’t glare at people who pass me. I walk to the grocery store and cut through an alley to get to the next plaza over. I come back to my apartment and don’t dread the fact that I’m now living without a 100lb. guard dog or alarm system. I don’t worry nearly as much about dying every time I leave my house (a fear I’ve had for well over a decade). Honestly, it’s nice to have one less thing to be anxious about.

I feel unbelievably safe here, and for that I am so grateful to call this place home.

-Red Hot

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My favourite place on the island

My favourite place on the island is somewhere I’ve only been once.

A place we stumbled across on my birthday. It absolutely reeked of fish, but the red rocks more than made up for it.

A place where seagulls dropped the claws of crabs they had gnawed on for lunch. My brother picking them up and chasing us around.

A place where a beautiful ruby floated among the sea of sapphires. We were only a running leap away.

My favourite place on the island is one I haven’t found again.

A place just off the highway, away from the popular beaches and past a “no trespassing” sign. I’ve driven along the highway; I can’t find it.

A place where you can walk up to the edge of the cliff – but that’s not it. You have to jump over the rope marking danger, teeter along the edge of the cliff, and look back to see if your mom is following her children.

A place where it was quiet. There was no one else around.

My favourite place on the island is the best kept secret.

A place of treasure buried so well even the map doesn’t help. Google searches and calls to my mother led me to the wrong place.

A place where I have great memories. Of laughter and spreading the red clay over my hands.

A place that I cannot find again. I tried to bring my new friends there, ended up lost, and smiled to myself because keeping the place to myself it what makes it my favourite.

My favourite place on the island is forever remembered as the place where I fell in love with my new home with just my family beside me.

faveplaceonisland

-Red Hot

Don’t Let Me Marry Someone Who Paints Pumpkins

Don’t Let Me Marry Someone Who Paints Pumpkins

Anyone who knows me knows that Halloween is my favourite holiday.

Yes, I realize I’m a few days late on this post – bite me.

As I sit here finishing off all my roasted pumpkin seeds and feeling a little sad that I’ll have to wait another year before I can make the tasty snack again, I realized something. I cannot, under any circumstances, marry into a family that paints pumpkins instead of carving.

I just can’t do it.

One of my favourite things about Halloween is carving pumpkins and making jack-o-laterns.

“But painting your pumpkins is less messy,” you say.

Okay well sure, but so what? Yes carving pumpkins is messy and I turn it into a day-long affair, but at the end of it I get a glowing pumpkin and tons of pumpkin seeds (and honestly that’s the best part about pumpkins). What do you get? A pretty, yet sad, pumpkin sitting there waiting for you to carve it so it can be like all the other pumpkins. Oh, and no seeds.

I’m actually friends with a few people who paint instead of carve, and I’ll be honest, I don’t get it but I’ve also mostly ignored it.

Until I realized they don’t get pumpkin seeds! Why even bother?

What can I say? I come from a carving family and I’m stubborn as hell.

Maybe this is all just a way for me to rant and still feel like I’ve contributed the bare minimum to this blog (remember, grad school is hard y’all).

Or maybe I’ve just finally found my ultimate deal-breaker.

Painting pumpkins – *shudders*

-Red Hot

 

Live with it

The worst part about living with anxiety is that you’re living with anxiety.

It doesn’t go away.

No matter how many exercises I do, or how well I progressed in therapy; no matter how many friends tell me not to worry about things, anxiety doesn’t go away.

I can learn to manage. I can learn to accept all of my anxieties, but it’s still there.

My anxiety is a part of me that I am slowly learning to live with. I’m even getting better at it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times where it flares up.

I’m writing this while on an airplane – only my third flight, and my first flight I’ve done on my own. I’m proud of myself because I lived through another anxiety attack.

I struggled and wanted to cry and my tips and tricks could only do so much, but I lived through it.

As I calmly sit through some turbulence, I’ve realized my anxiety isn’t with flying. I actually kinda like flying – it reminds me of rollercoasters, and surprisingly, my claustrophobia has yet to act up on a plane. My real anxiety comes with waiting to board.

I could not tell you why. I don’t understand it myself, but waiting to board the plane sends me into a paralyzed fear.

I worried for days about my taxi coming, checking in, going through security, and the possibility of a lengthy delay. I brought books, snacks and music. I was prepared as I could be. I made it through. Everything was easy, quick and painless (thank you smaller airports!) I was nervous, of course, but it was easy to ignore.

Then I sat down in the lounge, opened my book and promptly felt like vomiting.

I had a panic attack.

Silently and by myself.

My face felt numb and itchy. My whole body was hot. When I experience panic attacks I immediately need to seek out fresh air. Not really an ideal situation for an airport.

My point is, anxiety is hard. It doesn’t go away just because I’m prepared. It doesn’t go away just because I know logically there is nothing to worry about.

Anxiety is always there. It sucks. It’s hard. It’s made me very sick, it’s made me cry. I get shaky and every instinct in my body tells me to run.

But we manage.

We live with it. Because we have to.

-Red Hot

Grad School is Hella Hard

It’s hard y’all.

It’s busy, stressful, overwhelming, chaotic.

There are readings and then more readings: required readings, supplementary readings, readings for your own research, and readings you should be doing just in order to stay relevant. There are so many emails!! Emails about classes, about scholarships, about supervisory committees, about upcoming conferences, about workshops, about get togethers because if we’re all on the edge of a breakdown at least we’re here together. There are opportunities: for scholarships, outside research, work, projects to contribute to, conferences to present at.

On any given day I am at my desk responding to emails, doing the readings, asking professors for tips about class discussions because I don’t know how to talk over the baby boomer who likes the sound of her own voice, and trying to remember that I’m here for an experience – not just to add another degree to my name. More than anything, I need to remember that right now, these two years are to push me as far from my comfort zone as possible. I need to travel. I need to relearn how to make friends again. I need to learn how to make friends my own age when I am the youngest in my class by a decade, and I have a job that allows me to work independently and from home. I need to learn how to have fun. I need to learn how to let myself go exploring on weekends, plays during the week, dinners and clubbing when I just want to watch Netflix in bed for the 9th night in a row. I need to learn how to be on my own. I need to learn to cook for myself, keep myself occupied, and how to be sick on my own when there’s no one to hold my hair back as I sob-vomit into the toilet. I need to learn what it means to be putting my wishes and needs ahead of those of my friends and family. I need to learn how to do things I want to do, and not because I think others want me to do them. I talk about being independent a lot, but the truth is I don’t think I’ve ever fully been myself. Even now, I’m resorting back to safe study habits and what I should do because I’m too overwhelmed to experiment with my new individuality.

This is all my long-winded, kinda disoriented way of saying it’s hard. It’s a lot of work. There is so much being thrown my way.

But I love it.

The readings are (mostly) interesting and when they aren’t I just don’t do them (sorry profs!) The emails are from my professor who is determined to learn about me as a person and wants to make sure I feel welcomed. They’re emails that invite me over for dinner because he knows I’m far from my family. They’re emails that tell me of an upcoming scholarship just because he thinks I can be competitive for it. The opportunities are ways I’m meeting new people, and getting involved in ways that still let me stay away from Undergrads on most occasions. The extra hours at my computer are because I’ve been approached by 5 professors who want to be part of my supervisory committee and I’m trying to figure out what questions I can ask that will allow me to find the best fit. The sticky notes all over my room remind me of due dates, sure, but also of things like “book that Halifax trip”, “look into cruises leaving from the island”, and “get business cards made.”

Everything is changing so fucking fast. Everything is being thrown my way all at once and I’m struggling to catch it all. But at the end of the day, I’m proud of what got me here. I’m proud of where I seem to be going. And even though I struggle on a weekly basis with feeling like an impostor, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

-Red Hot

Messy Life Continues

I seemed to have gone on a hiatus without actually telling anyone. Sorry.

At the end of August, my family and I headed to an island for a vacation. After that, I moved in to an apartment building on said island.

I’m here to work on my Master’s degree and it’s my first time living away from home.

I should be excited right? I am.

Sometimes.

Other times, something will go wrong and I just want to pack everything up and head home.

The first few days were so rough. I hadn’t started school yet, and I knew absolutely no one out here. I had multiple panic attacks when moving it because the place felt dirty and a little bit like a prison cell.

I’m very close with my family and watching them leave was so hard. I opened my door and shouted down the hall to them as they were leaving. I waved out the window. I called my mom about an hour later crying because that was the last hug from her I was going to get in months.

It’s been hard.

And then school started, and because of my professors schedules we had one class every night for two weeks before getting a month long break while our other classes start. I was thrown into the whirlwind of adjusting to a graduate program, and one that started at 100% nonetheless.

I had moments where I really missed my family and my friends (remember, I still don’t really know many people out here), but it was getting better because I was so busy. I realized just how responsible I am when cooking and cleaning for myself didn’t seem like a big change. I also realized that I am terrible at grocery shopping, and that the laundry machines are so different from what I’m used to.

It’s getting better and everyone has told me that time will help.

I know that. I do. But I also still kinda want to go home.

I feel a bit like I’m just pretending to be an adult. It was fun for a while, but I miss my bed and my dog (so much!), my friends and my family. I miss being comfortable. I miss having real conversations with people who know me deeper than the front I put up when I have to socialize with an island of strangers. I miss talking to my friends face to face instead of through texts. I miss sitting beside my sister on the couch watching Law and Order reruns. I miss my brother coming into my room to complain about his manager or to tell me a story about his friends. I miss my cat walking across my laptop when I’m writing. I miss my dog following me everywhere and hearing his claws clack against the hardwood floor.

I miss so much.

I know that I have this amazing experience ahead of me. I know that I’m very lucky. I know I’m going to study something I am so passionate about. I know that I had to move out eventually. I know that the good days are starting to outweigh the bad. I know I’ll treasure the time I do spend at home more than I did when I lived there everyday. I know I’ll make more friends eventually. I know that this place will stop feeling like a strange bubble once I’ve been here long enough to make it familiar.

I know it will get better – or at least easier.

I’m getting tired of pretending though. I want to be home.

-Red Hot

My Life Through the Words of Others

  • “Uh oh, here comes the green eyed monster.”
  • “People pay a lot of money for hair like yours. Never dye it.”
  • “You’re offensively delightful.”
  • “You’re like a kinder surprise on the dance floor.”
  • “Dab again and I’m locking you out.”
  • “I love my bi best friend.”
  • “My roommates think you’re really pretty.”
  • “But you take some of the best selfies I’ve ever seen.”
  • “Woah. You have really big eyes.”
  • “You’re pretty too, but you got those ‘fuck-off eyes’ you know?”
  • “I’m a big fan of your Instagram.”
  • “Thanks for the advice, my social media guru.”
  • “You have such interesting encounters.”
  • “Tim Hortons: Canada’s safe haven and match maker.”
  • “I’m pretty sure my ex thinks I’m a lesbian and we’re dating now. He only ever sees my Snapchats where I call you bae.”
  • “Don’t stress; we’ll stay in touch and be friends for a long time.”
  • “Is this even real? It sounds like fanfiction. There’s so much angst!”
  • “And the academy award for my love life goes to…silence” (Cards Against Humanity)
  • “And once again, no one is surprised.”
  • “Sometimes you say things I do not expect.”
  • “You would make a really good slut!”
  • “You have a real wild side, don’t you?”
  • “We should call you Sinamon.”
  • “She’s a light weight.”
  • “That one’s sassy.”
  • “SAVAGE.”
  • “I like that you swear. It makes me feel better about myself.”
  • “We’re back row people.”
  • “I hope to be as petty as you someday.”
  • “I wanna judge students so badly. Can I have your job?”
  • “She’s too smart for me.”
  • “For a smart girl, you’re not very bright.”
  • “If you were used to working this hard maybe you wouldn’t have had an asthma attack.”
  • “Why are you such a stuck up bitch?” (Sent to me anonymously)
  • “I did have feelings for you. I pushed you away, and that is one of the bigger mistakes I made in high school.”
  • “I’m going to have to cut you off. She is feeling threatened to the point of irrationality due to our friendship.”
  • “What did he send you?!”
  • “Remember me?” (Accompanied with a dick picture)
  • “Bitch.”
  • “You’re such a bitch.”
  • “Can someone give her a hug?”
  • “She’s genuine. What you see is what you get.”
  • “I love that you never censor your face. I always know exactly what you’re thinking.”
  • “You should enter this writing contest.”
  • “You’ll never be a writer.”
  • “Please keep writing.”
  • “She’s one of my fav– uh, former students.”
  • “You’re our rock.”
  • “You had to grow up very quick. Don’t forget to be young.”
  • “You work hard and it shows.”
  • “You’re going to make those kids (especially the girls) feel so empowered and inspired to pursue academia.”
  • “You’re perfect.”

 

-Red Hot