“Been Tyin’ Hard Not To Get Into Trouble, But I’ve Got A War In My Mind”

Again it’s been a while since the last time I have posted, partially because I hadn’t decided how open I wanted to be with this particular experience. It isn’t without reason that I have been silent, many things have happened.

The summer quarter started with school and the job I had been offered called me out to Seattle to negotiate me relocating. In the mean time between this time and the last time I had posted my depression and anxiety had spiraled to paralyzing degree. I spent 98% of the days in July and August wanting to die. I had a plan but wouldn’t act on it. It was more like I fantasized about something random taking me out or just not waking up. For the unnecessary pain and anxiety to just end. The day after I returned from making the decision that I would relocate to Seattle I completely lost my mind in ever sense of the word.

I woke up for my long Thursday block of classes and just broke down into tears and couldn’t pull myself from my bed. I took an Ativan and went back to sleep and when I woke back up I knew I was beyond the help of anything I was going to be able to do for myself. I sent an SOS out to one my best friends we went to breakfast where I proceeded to unload on her. After a long conversation we figured it was best for me to go to the ER where she works and see the psychiatric team where they would evaluate if I needed to be admitted, or if they could just refer me to a team of people and send me on my way. They quickly decided it would probably be best if I was put on a 72 hour psychiatric hold because I would get the best care this way. I was admitted to an in patient crisis facility where I spent three days.

They put me on a cocktail of drugs and it was like moving through molasses while trying to get used to and tweak the dosages so I could function. All of this happening while I am having to deal with assignments and getting dropped from classes because of Dr. Appointments and the schools attendance policy. So a month out I am finally starting to feel like the fog is lifting and a bit more like myself. I had to create the two portraits as finals for two different classes the first had to be a self portrait and the second just worked out that way.

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I turned in the following artist statement with the flower image :

“Last quarter I started a project called Nature’s Sirens (see example below). What I told everyone else is that it was the representation of spring tempting you and pulling you in. In reality the dark and haunting film images were a symbol of my depression and anxiety and how the sirens were pulling me and drowning me in their darkness. I’ve let them pull me in so deep. I feel like I am blinded by their madness. When told to do yet another self portrait I found it challenging because at the moment the only thing I know for sure about myself is that I have temporarily lost my mind, and I am an artist. It takes losing 170 pounds to not recognize yourself in the mirror, and a complete mental breakdown resulting in a 72 hour psychiatric hold to make you question everything you’ve ever known. The combination of both results in a total loss of self.

I chose to wear one of my siren masks because I feel like I am flying blind at a million miles an hour toward my future. I’m lost in a beautiful madness because all I want to do is set forth and create beauty, and yet I am about to set down my art tools and return to the corporate world. Below the madness I find moments of peace and surrender and it’s those small moments that are holding me together at the right now. My last self portraits have been magical and colorful and this is no different, it just has a bit of madness mixed in this time.”

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The diptych I turned into printing is a quote from an old Nina Storey song. It’s how I feel. I feel like I have burnt my old life to the ground and I have no clue what the future holds for me at the moment because the only tools I know how to make sense of at the moment are my creative ones.

I woke up Friday morning (the morning after my last class) not having enrolled for fall, still not having any real answers about the job and Seattle and started unraveling again thinking what the fuck am I doing moving across country to give up my dream to work in another cubical? I gave it some serious thought and yesterday finally decided that it doesn’t matter if I end up having to live in the back of my 4Runner I am staying and I am finishing school. This morning I turned down the high paying job in Seattle and I enrolled for the fall semester. Maybe I am fucking crazy or maybe I just need to put my trust back into the universe that school and money will find a way to work it’s way out for me. It’s time for me to ride the waves instead of fighting them.

I leave you with two things. The quote that  is the name of this blog is a Lana Del Ray Lyric from Drive. A quote from the spoken word part of her music video really resonates with me, I encourage you to watch the video even though it’s super long because really the whole thing does.

“Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people, and finally I did on the open road. We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art.

Live fast. Die young. Be wild. And have fun. I believe in the country America used to be. I believe in the person I want to become. I believe in the freedom of the open road. And my motto is the same as ever:

“I believe in the kindness of strangers. And when I’m at war with myself I ride, I just ride.”

Who are you? Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies? Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them? I have. I am fucking crazy. But I am free. “

“I Push Things Out Through My Mouth I Get Refilled Through My Ears”

Since it’s too hot to venture outside at the moment and this particular topic has been weighing on me heavily in recent weeks I decided to touch on another topic that is not necessarily weight loss surgery related. I often see WLS patients saying that after surgery they are no longer able to deal with their significant other and cheat or end up divorced, but I wonder if this spreads into their other relationships (work, family, friends etc). As I slowly find myself subconsciously “cutting” people from my life I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t apart of the metamorphosis? Or is this just my anxiety and depression telling me lies so I can justify my solitude.

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This secret was up on Post Secret a while ago and it’s what started me down this rabbit hole. Except scratch out male and insert I need to find people who truly appreciate me. If there’s one thing I have learned in the last year, and especially the last quarter of school is that I am much stronger and independent than I give myself credit for. Anymore lately I find myself wanting to be alone than with others simply because it doesn’t feel like my efforts are appreciated. I am so thankful for my small circle of friends who have gotten me through this last year. Without them I would probably be a complete mess.

I have always been a firm advocate and cheerleader of the principle that you curate your family, it doesn’t have to be blood, and just because you are related to them doesn’t make them your family if they can’t respect you. I time and time again stand by friends and help them move past toxic relationships that aren’t nurturing their soul anymore or at all. All the while turning a blind eye to the energy vampires in my life and neglecting my own emotional needs.

I am a very giving person, a perfectionist, and a people pleaser which can be a blessing and curse. I long abandoned “real” religion and adopted two ways of thinking after coming across these two quotes by the Dalai Lama the first:

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

The second being:

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

I find that I am most happy when I am serving, and helping others. If I can do anything to make someone smile or their day a little easier or better I will do it. Often times at my own expense of time, energy or effort. I don’t do it for praise or with any expectation but because it makes me happy to bring joy to others. I am also very careful about how my actions, or lack their of might effect others as I would never want to intentionally cause pain. This causes me to give endlessly, and in the past it was probably because I didn’t think I was worth investing in, so if I could help someone else it made my life have purpose.

I just figured kindness was a common through out others. However in this day of instant downloads, and online ambiguity common courtesy has gone out the door. More often than not any new connection I make would rather ignore someone they don’t want to see or talk to anymore rather than being honest. This can be temporarily or they end up ghosting them disappearing all together leaving the other person dumbfounded and lost without closure. What is ghosting? It’s when someone just disappears like a ghost ignoring all contact and giving no explanation. In fact this behavior is so common place these days that huff post did a whole article on how it’s becoming the new normal amongst men leaving lovers. but I find that ladies are just as guilty of it, and it’s not just happening in romantic relationships. As someone that has social anxiety and is in a semi-delicate place at the moment ghosting is something that scares the shit out of me because I have been abandoned in the past.

IMG_2893After spending the last year cutting the fat (literally) from my life, I am in a place where I don’t have time our energy to continue cultivating relationships with people who might ghost me, or others for that matter. I call these types of relationships fast food relationships because their like the McDonald’s equivalent of soul food and they leave you feeling shitty or empty afterword. McDonald’s doesn’t give a shit if you end up in agony after and either do the ghosts.

I am sure I am not the only weight loss patient who put up with a lot of emotional neglect because they didn’t feel like they were worth it. It’s fucked up it takes losing another humans worth of weight to realize it, but once you do don’t forget it. I encourage everyone to fill your lives with people that value you and drop the ones that don’t. A lesson I’ve had to learn is talk is cheap and if they can say how much they care but every other actions proves otherwise then they aren’t really their or healthy for you. I am going to leave you with one last quote as it helped me feel a little less broken when I realized my bullshit detector might be broken causing me to want to hide from the world. Just because people have fucked you over in the past doesn’t mean that everyone’s a ghost or a vampire so don’t be afraid to get back out there. Don’t be taken advantage of and be inspired to have a life full of soul food, and not fast food relationships.

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“It’s Like Drowning. Except You Can See Everyone Around You Breathing.”

depression

I’ve struggled with blogging about my depression because I doubt it has very little to do with my gastric bypass, since it’s something that I’ve always dealt with. The last thing I want is for people to think this is some sort of cry for help since I am working on it and I feel like it’s getting better. I figure if there’s at least one person that identifies and feels less alone in their own struggle than it’s worth shedding some light on. So I am going to try and channel the braveness of The Bloggess  and talk about the black hole I feel like I’m in (if you have never read Jenny Lawson’s stuff she is hilarious check out her blog after this post). It’s going to be pretty long so buckle up.

Most people have no idea that this is something that I have struggled with my whole life, so this post is likely to come as a shock to a lot of people. I wear a very convincing mask that all is well in my pretty little head, but their are periods where it’s a dark and lonely place. It’s been 10 years since my depression has been bad enough where I would say I it’s dramatically effecting my life. Through out middle school and high school I made several attempts on my life and it’s a good thing that my parents kept the guns in the house locked up tight or I probably wouldn’t be here today. I was raised in a family where it wasn’t really okay to talk about your feelings, or if you did they were just kind of dismissed and you were told to just get over it, or suck it up.  I don’t blame my parents for this, having grown up in large families on farms I feel like they themselves probably didn’t get a lot of attention or nurturing from their parents. However if someone observes our family for long enough you will certainly notice this dynamic. We are very close and would do anything for each other, but we aren’t very affectionate towards one another.

My hair dresser actually pointed this out the other day. She was like “you and your sister aren’t very touchy feely, like I don’t think I have ever seen you guys hug.” I thought about it and had to explain to her that it’s like that with my whole family. I can count on one hand the number of times I have hugged or told (or was told) I love you by someone in my immediate family in the last 3 years.  I hug my friends hello and goodbye every time I see them. In fact I am such a hugger that I hug people the first time I meet them 98% of the time. I have a handful of friends whom I tell I love them every time I get off the phone with them or we part ways.  It’s not that we don’t love one another but I feel like no one knows how to deal with or express emotion. For example my father thought it was perfectly acceptable to tell me via text message of my grand father and grand mothers passing. When he text me to tell me of his mothers passing HE DID IT FROM THE FLOOR BELOW ME!!! To top it off I never saw him express any emotion even though he was close with his mother and I knew he was hurting from what my mom told me.

If it wasn’t for a very loving counselor in high school who was also a yoga instructor I would have never learned how to deal with my depression and anxiety. She was the one who built the foundation for me to be very independent because she taught me how to navigate my way out of the black hole. However with these tools it reinforced my intense need to just deal with shit and not let people in, and to fix it before anyone knew it was broken to begin with. When you start to feel very alone this can be a dangerous things.

While my depression seemed to have gone away with the exceptions of a few short (a couple of days to a couple of weeks) visits in the last 10 years my anxiety hasn’t gone anywhere. Back in October or so I spoke about how I finally had to be medicated because it was too much to fix with yoga and breathing. I went off the meds when I lost my health insurance and while my anxiety remained elevated it was manageable.

Then all of a sudden in New York City my depression sucker punched me in the face harder than I have experienced in a very long time. I found myself in the middle of one of my favorite cities feeling alone, depressed, and insignificant. I am typically someone who gives zero fucks about what you think about me. I know I am talented, kind, generous, beautiful, and hard working and I don’t need your validation. However I felt like I was right back in middle school. Up until I started pole I never had girlfriends because I was always really picked on by girls. I don’t know why but they feel threatened by me and thus feel like the need to break me down. I wasn’t expecting to make best friends with anyone on this trip by any means. What I wasn’t expecting however was to be treated as if I wasn’t even there and to be talked down to for no reason. At one point we were sitting in the lobby and I tried to ask one of these heartless girls where we were going first this morning and she completely ignored me as if I wasn’t even there. Even if did feel excluded it shouldn’t have mattered I was staying in a nice hotel on week one of a two week vacation (with the other week being at a luxury hotel on a tropical island).

Then I come back only to find out that they were talking tons of shit about me (despite me having very minimal interaction with them the whole time) saying I shouldn’t have been allowed to go on the trip because I was only in my second quarter, and should have had photo history one and two etc..blah blah blah. The thing that really pissed me off is that they ran around telling everyone that the group was constantly waiting on me which couldn’t have been further from the truth. With the exception of one morning where I forgot my metro card in my coat I was walking at the front of the group every time and was always one of the first people in the lobby when we would meet to leave. The morning they had to wait for me wasn’t even my fault. My professor held everyone up even though I begged for him to just go ahead without me and I would meet them there because I knew that these two girls were probably going to bitch and treat me even worse.

For some reason this unleashed the circus that is my depression and it’s been hard and intense since. To give you a glimpse of what my depression would sound like if it could talk I give you the following script. Please keep in mind that I am non-violent and feel bad hooking worm when fishing so when I use the word kill I don’t mean it. Honestly when I get really pissed at someone and I don’t want to say something bitchy I just imagine them exploding into glitter and confetti and it helps. So when I say kill I mean explode like a glitter bomb.

Depression: You want cookies

Depression: You want to fuck

Depression: You want to fuck while eating cookies

Depression: Let’s be sad about trivial things, shall we?

Depression: Everyone hates you

Depression: Kill them.

Depression: Kill them too.

Depression: Kill them and eat their cookies.

Depression: Shhh it’s okay you’ll feel better soon.

Depression: HAHAHAHAHA NO YOU WON’T FUCK YOU.

Depression: Whoops you drooped a spoon better cry

So after 9 weeks of this constant inner monologue, nothing but school work without seeing any of my friends, and financial struggle it all became too much.  I did something stupid I promised myself I would never do again and I made an attempt at my life. Just as it was with any of the past attempts, it’s not that you want to die but you don’t know how else to make the pain stop, because in reality nothing is really wrong. It took a friend to shake some sense into me and let me bawl on their chest to realize how silly I was being for letting my depression take so much power from me.

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I joke around about being a machine because most of the time I walk around unphased by the things that happen to me. No matter what I show up with a smile an produce. I also feel like a robot because I am not very good at expressing or receiving affection and emotions. Right now If you tell me you love and that you need me I am likely to bawl like a baby not because I didn’t know it but because when I get like this I forget that there are people who give a fuck out there and that I am not alone.

Things have been much better mentally even though I have barely been able to pull myself out of bed and isolation the last couple of weeks. I think a lot of the intensity around this round of depression was based off my work load. I apologize to any of my friends who have felt neglected by me in the last few month in the result of my black hole. Thanks for baring with me as I try to get through this. Since nothing is truly wrong it’s hard to know if my depression is a result of the rapid weight loss. Your hormones do go out of whack so it’s impossible to rule it out. However if you or someone you know is struggling with depression and you don’t feel like you have someone to talk to please visit the following page for a list of people whom you can talk to for free.

http://suicideprevention.wikia.com/wiki/USA

I better wrap this. The whole point to this rant is that you don’t always know what going on behind someones smile, and just because it seems like it’s all rainbows and sunshine they might actually be drowning under a black cloud. Play nice with one another kids, and hug everyone because you never know who might need it.

Sharpies and Positive/Negative Reversal

One of the reasons I decided to go to an art school is they don’t make you take all of your core classes up front, they spread them out throughout the program. Since I didn’t want to have to be downtown at 7:30 am I opted for all but one of my classes to be academic. The only art class I got to take this quarter was Design Fundamentals. For our first assignment we had to create four black and white designs that created an optical illusion of positive/negative reversal. If we did it correctly when you look at the design the positive and negative space should swap back and forth.

We could either cut the design out of paper or we could use ink or paint. I opted to use sharpie and pen and it took FOREVER!!! Here are the four designs I came up with.

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wonder and observe, and my camera is my passport” – Steve McCurry

SnapKnot
Courtesy of: SnapKnot

Today is national camera day! What ever will I shoot in celebration?

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains the unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

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Floating off the coast of Orient Bay.

It’s been a rough 9 days adjusting back into my routine but I have finally stopped expecting to hear the ocean outside every door and window. I have been to Sint Maarten three time now and each time it gets harder and harder to come back.

Getting there leaves you feeling like you spent 24 hours raving in some sort of tubeular disco with babies and bad drugs since you often depart around midnight. It’s beyond worth it, there’s nothing like collapsing in a chaise on your balcony after two 4 hour flights and a 2 to 12 hour layover in someplace as unfortunate as the Ft Lauderdale airport to soak in this view.

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The View from our room at Oyster Bay Beach Resort

The flights and layovers this time around were fairly painless except for not being able to sleep on the red eye flight. US Airways has the shortest seat belts I have come across. I rarely ever need a seat belt extender and if I do it’s because it barely wont clip. The seat belts on all 4 flights were really short. It’s kind of nice to know that the next time I fly that I wont have to even think about if I will need an extender.

We rented a couple of cars and my mom, nephew and I ended up with a Toyota Yaris that had bad breaks, a transmission I was sure was going to go, and had no power which is kind of an issue on an island that is nothing but hills.

I was determined this trip to spend as much time in the water as possible and I am pretty sure I achieved my goal. I earned the nickname Baywatch from my sister because I kept having to save people in our party from drowning. The first of which was my poor mom in what was probably the funniest moment of the trip.

I bought an iPhone and Lifeproof case specifically to be able to film and take pictures in the water. As I was showing my mom a video I had taken we failed to notice that a pretty decent size wave was coming for us. Since I am considerably taller than my 5′ mom the wave slapped her in the face while I just stood on my tip toes to keep it out of mine.

We both start laughing and as I am cackling and yelling out to my sister “did you see mom get hit by that wave?” a second wave knocks her off balance causing me to laugh so hard no sound is coming out and I can barely breathe. All of us are dying laughing while I am trying to help her up another waive has knocked her to her knees and myself off balance, causing an effect similar to that of trying to pick up a greased watermelon out of the water. The next thing I know a waive has knocked her face first into the water and all I can think about is oh fuck how are we going to explain that we let mom drown in like 3 feet of water (my mom has Parkinson’s and her drowning was a big fear of everyones). At that point I just grabbed for whatever I could get a grip on which happened to be the straps of her swimsuit and I hoisted her out of the water like Mufasa raising Simba to the sun À la The Lion King.

My Mom was saved and we all laughed so hard our sides hurt. My sister was like all I see is you picking mom up by her swim suit and her little legs kicking trying to find the ground.

The island is surrounded by reef so everywhere you go you will likely run into fish or some other marine life. I was supposed to spend 4 or 5 days with Octopus Diving getting my PADI scuba certification and taking an underwater photography course. However because of my size my primary care doctor ordered a lung test and that test came back positive for Asthma which caused me not to pass the necessary physical. I didn’t want them to have to refund all of my money so I booked a snorkeling trip with them instead.

I showed up on Monday and the wonderful and kind owner Sally got me fitted for fins and a mask, and then sent me and 5 others off with JT our captain/guide for the afternoon.

Octopus Diving is on the French side of the island in Grande Case, and the water on the french side as we departed was clear and smooth. We took a short 5 minute ride out to Creole Rock which is a French nature reserve.

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The view leaving Octopus Diving

I couldn’t wait to get out in the water and jumped over the side of the boat into a cloud of colorful fish, and tiny little baby Jellyfish. Once I found out that they couldn’t sting I rather enjoyed swimming through them and looking at there iridescent veins that changed colors and sparkled in the sun.

The fish at Creole Rock

The fish at Creole Rock

We got to spend an over an hour at each location, and I could have spent all day at Creole Rock. I got super excited as I saw a Cuttlefish crawl out from some rocks and change colors to perfectly blend in with his surroundings I thought he was an Octopus at first but was informed otherwise by someone in our group. The water at Creole Rock is about 30 feet so I didn’t get a close look at him but it was still pretty cool to see him dramatically change colors.

The guy diving in the video was our guide JT and he was down there for forever before he had to come up for a breath. It was pretty impressive.

We went to Turtle Reef next which was about 10 minutes away from Creole Rock, 30 feet deep, and out in the middle of the current with nothing around. There were lots of fish here including a puffer. One person in our group saw a turtle but they were over 100 yards away from me when they called “TURTLE” so by the time I got over there he was gone.

The next day a handful of us went out to check out Le Galion which is considered the children’s beach because it’s barely enough water to float in for at least 100 yards off shore. It was mostly sea grass with clusters of rocks that housed tons of tiny little colorful fish. At one point I ended up being circled by 8″ yellow and blue fish (I thought I had gotten video but failed to notice I put my phone in the float backwards so all you could see was orange). It was a really cool area but it had tons of trash in the water which made me really sad.  I came really close to what I thought was a bigish sized jelly fish only to find when I calmed down that it was one of those cheap shower caps you get from a hotel.

Hands down my favorite day of the trip and possibly my favorite day ever was Wednesday when we chartered a 46′ catamaran with Private Yacht Charters called the Seaduction. My poor mom ended up sea sick with our first mate Toni taking care of her most of the day so we could get off the boat and enjoy the surroundings. We went to Creole Rock again which was fine by me since I knew the kids would get to see a lot of cool stuff there.

After that we were off to Penile Island. We had lunch on the boat and then our captain Johann took my Mom and nephew ashore to shop for souvenirs while we snorkeled the reefs. We saw a starfish and the kids saw a cluster of lobsters.

Next we were off to the place I had been looking forward to all day, the island of Tintamarre. We were told there was a 98% chance that we would see turtles and I was hoping this wasn’t just a sales pitch.

When we went to Turtle Reef JT told us to be ready when the boat stops because your most likely to see turtles when you first get there because they are curious about the boat, so before they could even pull the chain for the steps when we got to Tintamarre I had my flippers and mask on ready to go.

As I jumped in I was radiating the thought come to me my turtle friends swim with me! Over and over again. We hadn’t been in the water for more than 5 minutes when we saw the first one. I had just started running film on a stingray I had found when Chris yelled turtle. I paddled as quickly as I could. Tjhe water was probably 50 to 60 feet deep so he looked like a rock with flippers. As everyone else in our group made it over to where we were the turtle began to surface and I had to try not to bump into him he got so close to Ty and I before he took off away from us.

Coming up for some air.

Coming up for some air.

We saw at least 4 or 5 more turtles. At one point I could see three at once. Then I shot two of the most amazing things I have ever captured. I hung out over two different turtles for 15 minutes each with my finger on the shutter button waiting for them to surface and praying for the right light and angles. As I was swimming after these fantastic creatures I had one of the moments you swear is a dream.

After about an hour I reluctantly swam back in so we could make the journey back to our harbor and the rest of the night was spent riding the high of that experience.

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The quote I used for this blog really reminds me of the refection I did while I was there, and how I have changed since the first time I visited the island. Three years ago I was deep into a heavy dance regimen for the first time in years, bored  with the job I was in, but otherwise feeling alive again for the first time in a long time. Last year I went alone, was unemployed, terrified and unsure what the future held, and not really sure of my worth to society because I had been defined by my job for so long. I came this year on the edge of a giant cliff of change, looking back at how much I have grown, and pleasantly pondering how I will have changed by the next time I return.

I apologize for the super long travel post but I figured since they are off topic of the main theme of the blog I figured I would just make them one long blog per trip so those uninterested can easily skip over it. The next post will be back to our same bat time same bat station.

“All our sweetest hours fly the fastest” – Virgil

My god I can’t believe it’s already June 15 it seems like just a couple of days ago this whole thing started in motion. Sorry I have gone so long between posts. I came back from NYC and was so busy between then and now with my nephews graduation and going to Sint Maarten that I didn’t really have time to blog which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I will get a series of posts written to get everyone up to speed  otherwise it will be one massive post and I know I personally have a hard time not tuning out after 500 – 700 words when reading blogs. So sorry for the absence and the non-post in the sense that this really didn’t have an information. I offer you an adorable otter pup as a token of my regret. More to come my babies.

cutebreak.com

cutebreak.com