When Parents Leave Too Soon

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It’s hard to put into words the emotions I feel every time July 11th rolls around. 8 years ago my Father passed away and 8 years later I still have not fully processed it. I emphasize with anybody who has lost a parent, especially when it seems entirely too soon and unfair. My heart aches when I see other’s posts commemorating a loved one that has died or how they wished they could have grown up having their parent; their best friend. And then I think about my situation more. I’ve realized that I have been mourning the loss of my Dad for more than 8 years.

It’s a delicate thing to talk about people who are gone. While I am quick to admit I am sad and I am much less to inclined to confess that I am also mad. Would I offend somebody by acknowledging that my Dad was not there for me for most of my life? Is it ok to still be upset with somebody who is dead? But perhaps its too late to worry about those types of things…after all I did a photo series of self portraits of my Dad’s ashes (yes you read that right… on my face). You’d think being offensive would be the least of my concerns.

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Other days I wonder if I’m facing certain problems in my life because my Dad faced them. Is he to blame? Let me clarify, that I know he is NOT and that I am in complete control of my life’s trajectory. But I’d be lying if I said the thought hasn’t cross my head from time to time.

Whether you’ve lost a parent due to death, because their not a part of your life or both… it is not something you ever really come to terms with and its hella complicated to navigate. I will say this though, the one positive to loosing my Dad was I feel like I understand him more in life than I did in death. I just wish I had that chance while he was still alive.

❤ Sweeney

The secret thing I haven’t shared and makes my anxiety worse.

This will be probably the hardest post I’ve written ever. Sharing your truths is a very hard thing to do, which is why I haven’t been able to keep up with this blog as much as I would like. The people who have reached out and told me they related and praised my bravery have helped me immensely, but at the same time I haven’t been so brave.

I’ve been sharing half truths with everyone this whole time. Yes, I do have crippling anxiety… but the other thing that I’ve been too afraid to share online is that I also have a substance abuse problem.

Sometimes I think people who know me do not take my anxiety seriously. They view it as solely an addiction problem… but like what came first the chicken or the egg?

I started drinking to ease my social anxiety. I never really even parted in high school and was mostly well liked, but when I got the college I didn’t quite know how to fit in. I went to a private college with mostly locals from an area COMPLETELY different from where I grew up. I was a competitive runner so I didn’t always drink as much as the other kids on campus, but when I did I would binge and binge hard. The binging would often lead to situations that got me so embarrassed that my already anxiety ridden self couldn’t handle it properly… but the incidences were isolated and by the next binge I’d always forget it.

I combatted my anxieties in college by being a perfectionist. I HAD to be skinny, HAD to be the fastest in my cross country teams, HAD to be the most creative in my art classes and HAD to be well liked. I put so much pressure on myself to be all of those things but I don’t think I was truly ever one of them. By the end of undergrad I was severely underweight… cracking under pressure at my biggest athletic meets and pretending I was this artist I simply was not. In fact I don’t even practice photography to this day. Part of it is because I never truly gained a confidence in myself and another part is I truly believe it never was my passion.

Which brings me to graduate school. If photography was truly never my passion why did I go for a MFA?!?!?!? I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment and at the time I had started grad school I was still running (literally) down my path of perfectionism. Despite my binging and several downfalls in undergrad I ultimately came out of the experience extremely accomplished. I came out of Grad school extremely accomplished too… but at a much higher price.

I was much younger than most my peers in grad school (there’s a reason people tell you to wait to figure out what you really want to do peeps!) and honestly looking back at it I just wasn’t as into the art world as everyone else. What I was into however were the gallery openings with unlimited wine, drinking with professors being a regular occurrence (even during class) and still feeling like I was pursuing something that was going to help me in the future. Spoiler alert… I’m not so sure it did.

If you’re extremely insecure with a drinking problem I do not suggest getting a masters in fine art… just saying. The constant critiquing and doubting took its toll on me but I always thought it had a purpose.

After I couldn’t get out of my binging habits after graduation, after I realized I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself, after floundering to get jobs and loosing the ones I have got and after a lot of self reflection… I’ve realized I’m where I am at not only because of anxiety but also because of drinking.

I still don’t know what came first but it truly hurts my soul thinking of how much this affliction has cost me. I am constantly trying to heal and self reflect but I am still struggling with the internal battle of being a perfectionist who threw so many of her accomplishments away.

Why is my biggest goal is to have my Linkden profile look impressive… when it really should be sobriety? I have lost so many friends so many opportunities but at the end of the day I know this too can be overcome. I am strong. And if I can be a perfectionist for something I my heart was never really that into… there’s no reason I can’t be for something that will literally save my life.

When Shit Hits the Fan: A Survival Guide

Alright, so this isn’t a survival guide per say and I apologize if I put out the wrong impression. I’m just very particular about my titles. I like them to have a certain gusto to them so it was either this or “When Shit Hits the Fan: A Cautionary Tale” which isn’t what this post was really either. If I were to be honest it is a mix between the two, but “When Shit Hits the Fan: A Cautionary Survival Tale/ Guide” did not have the same ring to it.

The title is neither here nor there though so moving on. This topic is actually just something I unfortunately have a lot of experience with. The cookie doesn’t always crumble the same way for everyone and I think that is very important to understand. These are just a handful of insights and experiences I have had being a bottom rock dweller.

What got me thinking about this is my most recent personal disaster. I am not going to touch upon the details of said disaster (for now), but just how  I’ve been dealing with it. Normally I power through my crises by immediately picking myself up again and with cheesy motivational quotes. Cause if I believed that  “Something will grow from all you are going through, and it will be you” – Google Search for Motivational Quotes, then I would be ok.

The only thing that was growing though was the times i’ve used my strange optimism in the face of adversity. And what I realized was that I used it to cover up the actual deeper meaning of my problems. And guess  what? The cycle would continue. I’ve always prided myself on my resilience. I’ve overcome so many low points that it almost stopped phasing me. I was so used to a cycle of picking myself and falling back down that I almost didn’t realize that each time It happened the road blocks were getting bigger and bigger and so were the consequences. Turns out people are less sympathetic towards your plight once you hit 30-something. 

I am a big supporter in doing whatever it is ya gotta to get through what you’re going through. If it’s corny sayings and chocolate I say make your insta a beacon of hope and buy yourself some goddamn chocolates. I prefer cheese, but that’s just me…who am I to judge? If you need to mope and not be a person for the day be the best non-person you can be! Cry it out if you need to. Exercise. So many options, and none of them are wrong. What I am trying to say is…it’s a process and everybody’s is different.

What caught me so off guard this time was that my process had changed. I wasn’t jiving with the whole light at the end of tunnel thing this time. Everything was hitting me much harder, like I was the last kid left on a losing dodgeball team. This is the first time ever I dealt with my anxiety and depression by staying in bed for basically an entire week. I tried telling myself it was okay and it just must be what I needed, but while I layed in bed my responsibilities kept piling up and my mood stayed unwavering.  I didn’t feel okay with this… plus my body hurt. Who knew staying in bed could make you so sore!?!

But you know what, I got through it. It took a lot longer but I am finally feeling somewhat like myself again. During that terrible week I actually allowed myself to feel the emotions I had been avoiding and instead of posting quotes about self discovery and overcoming obstacles, I was actually working towards those goals. Did it take a little longer? Was the path there a little different? Most certainly. Am I out of the woods yet?  No…but at least I’ve stopped walking in circles.

My big takeaway for this post is don’t over concern yourself with the process just work towards your progress by any means necessary.

❤ Sweeney

 

Transitions, Resulotions & Insurance Lapses

So I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written a post. It seems like whenever I have the most the write about the less likely I am to actually do it. That’s anxiety for you though I guess…

A lot… and I mean a lot has been going on recently. I guess I’ll start out with letting everyone know that I got a new job. I’m using the term “new” loosely however since I’ve been there now for over 2 months. It’s funny how much emotional weight we put into jobs. I was initially so excited for my “new beginning” and new career path. It’s exhilarating going through the application process when the outcome is you actually land the job. I’m not trying to say I am no longer happy with my position… I’m just trying to say I forgot how much an emotional and mentally taxing experience starting a new job can be.

At my previous job, I was fairly open with my mental health. I felt very supported by peers and comfortable opening up to them. Ultimately though, it just wasn’t the right position for me. Going into this new opportunity I was conflicted if I wanted to be as open about anxiety as I had been in the past. Would they look at me differently? Would they think I was less capable of my job duties? Would they wonder why the heck I would choose to share something so personal to me? Should this be something I even bring up in the workplace? Where should the line be drawn with this sort of thing anyway?

I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up. I also decided to make my Instagram private because I wasn’t sure what somebody from work would think if they stumbled across my blog. Even though I pride myself on being open on the subject, I decided that this time it was something I wanted to hide and that it was something I that I was embarrassed about.

About a month before I left my old job I had started to take serious strides to take back control of mental health. I was seeing a therapist weekly and we had plans to reach out to a nurse practitioner to evaluate/ adjust the anti-depressants I was on. She was super supportive when I told her about my new job and I told her I estimated it would probably be about a month before my new insurance would kick in. Then I found out my estimate was wrong and it was actually going to be at least three months…..whoops.

But whatever, I had this. I felt really confident and strong going into my job duties and I was for once really excited for my future. In the midst of training, I had completely forgotten my anti-depressants were out of refills and subsequently stopped taking them. I might’ve touched on this before but NEVER ABRUPTLY STOP TAKING YOUR ANTI-DEPRESSANTS. Right, when everything in the workplace was getting it’s most stressful my brain decided it was time for seratonin gymnastics. Needless to say, it was not a good look. I was crying on the daily, I felt completely out of control and I felt completely ashamed.

That’s when I decided to bite the bullet and go to my local medi-center just in order to get a refill. I didn’t care how much it cost because I literally felt like I was going insane. But the damage was done. At the exact time, I needed to be at the top of my game I became crippled with self-doubt.
I’m not going to go into much detail about how much worse it got… but trust me things got way worse than I could ever have imagined.

And on that light-hearted note… let’s talk about New Years! I cannot believe I’ve been writing in the blog now for over a year. Time really flies when you’re having a panic attack. No, but in all seriousness, I am currently in a much better state and ready to kick some 2019 ass. I’ve grown too accustomed to going through bouts of tremendous lows, picking up the pieces and then trying again. While I still admire my resilence in such situations, my goal this year is to stay in control of things and not let them control me. Honestly, I think this is my toughest resolution to date. And before I end this (and wait another 300 months for a new post) I just wanted to thank everyone who read and kept up with my blog this past year. I didn’t even realize how many people actually read this until they would come up to me at gatherings and tell me how much they relate to what I write. Those type of reactions is why I keep trying to be open about my life and the struggles I go through. I hope you all have a great 2019 and if you’re not, feel to reach out and tell me why I am always here to listen!

Recovering From Summer

So I know it’s been a hot sec since I wrote a post, but what can I say? I was out there living my best life…. JK I was out there living my typical unbalanced life. Which isn’t to say it was all bad. Parts of my summer were incredible, but more on that later.

I know its not technically Fall yet, but at least it’s not 90 degrees anymore so it felt appropriate to discuss this.  Summer is a fricken whirlwind.  I guess there is something about warm weather that causes me (and many others Im sure) to throw caution to the wayside. All of sudden you go from having a somewhat predictable routine to going to BBQ’s every other day, the beach and on vacation.

It’s a crap load of fun, don’t get me wrong… but for me it is also very dangerous and full of temptations. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you know that I had stopped drinking for quite some period of time. You may even think I was still following that trajectory, but *spoiler alert* I haven’t. It was a great time of self reflection for me, but it was also very hard and admittedly I got tired of it.

I slowly started drinking again here and there at gatherings during the Spring, but it was still a sort of take it or leave type thing. Once Summer hit however, it was all bets off and I became unhinged. I could probably make a lot of excuses… I was stressed at work, my anxiety medication wasn’t work as well as it used to (or I would forget to take it or take too much),  I was going to too many events, whatever the case may be…Summer is over and its time to jump back into good habits.

Sometimes I feel like such a transparent person. Whenever I am going through a rough time it is painfully obvious, not just to me but to EVERYONE around me. That can become extremely daunting and in turn I usually become even more destructive/anxious/depressed.

Now that Fall is here I feel like I can finally take a step back and look at everything with clearer vision, take a breath and get my shit together.

Will I stop drinking again? Will I finally seek out a therapist? Will I get a second opinion about my medication? To be continued…. but it is looking more likely than it did before.

What about Summer throws you off your routine??? Comment below, I’d love for you to share!

 

❤ Sweeney

 

The problem with labeling girls as having “Daddy Issues”

So obviously, today is Father’s Day. Not that you would forget, but in case you did you can just check your social media and be flooded with imagery and posts dedicated to Dad today. They’re cute, don’t stop doing them and make sure to be thankful if you have a good Father figure in your life.

Unfortunately, not everybody does… or they did and they were cheated out of that figure far too soon. I kind of fall into both of those categories. I had an absentee Father for most of my life, not because he didn’t love me, but because his personal demons took him away from me. Eventually those struggles also took his life and I was left to navigate through the complicated emotions I felt about everything.

Luckily I have a wonderful Step Father who took on the roll that my Dad was never ever to fulfill. Still it was a complicated and messy situation that really had taken a toll on me over the years. I guess you could say… I have Daddy Issues.

Ughhh there are so many problems I have with labeling somebody as having “Daddy Issues”. According to Urban Dictionary:

Whenever a female has a fucked up relationship with her father, or absence of a father figure during her childhood, it tends to spill into any adult relationship they embark on, usually to the chagrin of any poor male in their life”

Ummm…. I’ve dated my boyfriend for 11 years and I really don’t think he considered himself a poor male in my life. Why does something we have no control over make us damaged goods? And where did this notion of woman who have had bad relationships with their Father are constantly seeking male approval? Urban Dictionary also notes having Daddy issues

“Results in younger women chasing older men and even seeking mistreatment in some cases.”

I mean, obviously you have to take Urban Dictionary with a grain of salt but…. WTF

Honestly I feel like I personally tried to seek out healthier relationships because of the damaged one I had with my Father… but maybe that’s just me?

Listen, I’m not saying loosing your Father or not having him in your life doesn’t create issues. It does and it is fully possible it shapes the kind of relationships we seek and even our behavior. I just don’t think it’s fair to label a girl as “crazy” or “easy” or “broken” because of it.

Today is a day to be appreciative to the men who have been there in your life. Maybe it’s the Father or your children, you’re Step Dad or even Uncle Joe who was always there for you. It doesn’t look the same to everyone and that’s ok.

I think the real message I am trying to drive home is just to love more and judge less. So happy Father’s Day and don’t worry it’s ok to have issues.

❤ Sweeney

Breakdowns & Breakthroughs

I know it is a bit cliche’ to call your life a roller coaster, but there is a reason for it being such a popular metaphor. I however, would be more inclined to call my life a ferris wheel. I live in this constant cycle of slowly building myself up, to eventually finding myself back at the bottom and wondering how I got there.

At least I’m consistent, I guess?

I also have the incredible talent to continuesly pick myself back up and rebuild after completely falling apart. It might not be the healthiest of skills, but it is still a skill and I have never once let myself stay at the bottom. It gets exhausting though and truthfully very embarrassing. You don’t typically find ferris wheels in the privacy of your own home, you find them at very public and often well attended areas.

My breakdowns and breakthroughs are always on exhibit and that makes me feel very vulnerable, especially to judgement.

Sometimes I think people feel like I have more control over it than I do. People have seen me get my shit together before so whats so bad about my life to make me constantly have these lows? And honestly… I don’t know and maybe thats the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, of course there are some things (*cough* many *cough*) I would like to change about my life, but a lot of the time there is very little rational to my emotions. It’s like I’m living in my own reality that nobody else can see. And unless you have experienced an anxiety disorder or depression it is really hard to understand. I wish it was easier to explain so I could stop feeling like a complete freak show.

Maybe some of you will reach out to tell me I’m not, so in advance… Hey! thanks for caring, I really do appreciate it. Deep down though, even if secretly, I’ll always think it. But who isn’t a little crazy anyways, right?

❤ Sweeney

(image credit https://berkandd.deviantart.com/art/Scary-Ferris-Wheel-199858606)