Monday, September 25, 2017

Do Scary Shit.

Last year, I lost a cousin to suicide. And it was awful, for obvious reasons. As someone who has dealt with depression for a majority of my life and had to navigate high school, college and embarking on a career… it really really hit home for me. Because I was there. I’m always there. There were days in my past (and if I’m being honest, there are still plenty of days) where I didn’t think I could go on.

It affected me pretty badly. All I could think about was how much life she had left to live, and how many good things are on the other side of manic episodes. But, I also understood too clearly what was going on in her mind. It sucked. So I wrote about it.

I had spoken about depression and anxiety before, and it’s not a super top-secret fact about my life. But I also think I confuse people because I have a pretty positive personality (most of the time) and laugh a lot and make jokes and talk to dogs like they’re humans and I seem happy. I wanted to share the truth and let people know that not only is that not always the case, but also that it’s something I live with every day. I limp through life because of it. Sometimes I’m happy, but I’m always depressed. If that makes any sense.  I just wanted to be open about it, wear my depression on my sleeve and let people know they’re not alone in it.

I was SO scared to hit publish. I immediately signed out of every social media app on my phone because I didn’t want to receive any notifications. I just wanted to get in the covers and hide. But, I also wanted to post selfies… so…. eventually I decided to get back on the horse. And when I signed in, I couldn’t believe the response. So many people were not only supportive, but were sharing their own experiences. I had more messages and comments than I knew that to do with (I would be a very bad professional social media person) and it literally made me burst into tears constantly because I was so moved.

Then, at work, people started asking me to talk. They’d ask me to go on walks and tell me that they’re going through the same thing, or they knew someone in their life going through something similar, and either wanted advice or just to chat about it. I had SO many meaningful, tear-filled conversations with people I knew well, and some who I didn’t know at all. I know it’s small, but it was one of the coolest moments of my life. It impressed me that something as small as sharing a personal story could impact and connect others so well. I never would have experienced any of it without allowing myself to be vulnerable and do something that scared me immensely.

There have been so many times in my life when I was afraid and then backed out. I was once interviewed for a job that was BIG and SCARY and I turned the job down because I was scared I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t apply to Emerson because I was afraid to have to audition, or submit writing samples. I was scared to end a relationship because I didn’t want to have a tough conversation, and because I was a little bit afraid of being alone and thought I might be alone for the rest of my life. And that’s just a smattering (what a great word) of examples.

This year, after leaving Los Angeles (primarily because I was afraid of the unknown), I just got so tired of fear running my life. All the best things that have happened in my life have blossomed from vulnerability. I can’t be opposed to change and want my life to move forward as well. So, therefore, this year has been all about saying yes to things that scare me. I’ve gone on dates, I’ve interviewed for jobs that I have no business having, I’ve socialized way more than I’d typically like, I’ve hiked alone in the forest, I’ve traveled a ton, I’ve taken on new hobbies and I’ve tried new things.

Not everything has been AWESOME.  In fact, one trip I went on was so difficult for me that I spent the night crying on my yoga mat in my hotel room… then I ate a bunch of candy and I don’t even LIKE candy. But, there’s not a single thing I regret doing. I don’t regret that one terrible date who thought paying for my dinner meant I should have sex with him, I don’t regret driving alone to Vermont listening to a Harry Potter audiobook, I don't regret reaching out to my old boss for help finding a job and I definitely don’t regret that expensive, last minute trip to Los Angeles just to see my favorite dog and eat dinner alone at my favorite burger place. (Eating alone in public is a very new thing for me.)

I pushed myself a whole lot this year. And it’s been incredibly rewarding. I still don’t have a clear vision for what’s next… but I feel a lot closer to it. And I feel a hell of a lot lighter. So, go out and do the things that scare you. NOW!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Time I Thought I Could Just Casually Buy A Car

Being on top of every single thing as an adult is nearly impossible. Every year, we are inundated with new adult things to do like "file taxes" and "have health insurance" and "take our dogs outside for walks." Every new job, we have to fill out W-4 forms and decide how much to contribute to our 401(k). If we're smart, we put money into a flexible spending account, or a commuter account, so we can save tax money on health costs and parking. But I'm not that kind of responsible adult. I choose the easiest routes, live paycheck to paycheck and figure it out as I go along. 

Which is why I'm going to share with you a cautionary tale about the time I attempted to turn in and/or purchase my leased vehicle having done ZERO research on turning in and/or purchasing a leased vehicle. 

Back story: In July 2014, I leased my FIRST (new) car from Honda of Hollywood on the lovely Santa Monica Boulevard. I signed the lease for 36 months and even though that seemed like FOREVER and scared me a little bit, I still drove it off the lot, blasting my music and feeling like a million bucks. Well, it's a Honda... so I felt like a cool couple thousand.

Rhonda (that's her name) has treated me good. In California, she brought me to Vegas (3x 2many), Palm Springs, Malibu... and work every single day. I lived about 10 miles away from my office and it took me 45-50 minutes each way to get to and from there. So, we spent a lot of time together on the back roads of Los Angeles... and the 405. In Massachusetts, she's taken me to Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Cape Cod and basically all over Massachusetts on my various excursions to escape reality. 

I knew my lease was coming to an end in August. When I first moved back, I thought "Well I'll just turn it in when the lease is up and then lease a new car when I need one." 

Then, as the impending doom of not having a car or a way to take the aforementioned various excursions to escape reality, I thought, "I'll just buy the car and finance it once the lease is up." That seemed like a good idea to me! I liked the car, it was fairly knew, had low mileage still and what did I need a brand new car for?  So, I called Honda Financial and they were like, "Great! Just head to the dealership and they'll work out the paperwork." 

"Easy peasy." I thought out loud in a crowded Target.

Then the end of July popped up on me like a mole from the once popular carnival game, Whack-a-Mole. I realized that I was going to be in Chicago for 3 days and then immediately upon my arrival, my friends were borrowing my car to drive to the Cape until I joined them on Sunday. I had one rainy Monday to head to the dealership and get it all worked out. 

I arrived at the dealership, eager to drive what would soon be 100% my car off the lot. I approached the guy at the front desk, flashed my brightest smile and said, "I'm here to purchase my leased vehicle!" 

He asked when my lease was up, I told him it expired that upcoming weekend. He stared back at me for a few seconds too long and then said, "I'll be right back." 

Except he lied. He didn't come right back. Another man came out to greet the crazy woman who didn't understand how things work. This man was the finance manager, or something along those lines. 

"OK, so you want to buy your leased vehicle? Why's that?" 

"Well, I've only had it for three years and I like it and I've only used 2 out of 3 years mileage wise, so I'd like to finance it and buy the car." 

"Why wouldn't you want to get a new one, or lease a new one?" 

"Because I like my car. It's still in good shape." 

"OK, well... we'd have to do an inspection. Which takes a while to set up. And then once we did the inspection we'd basically have to re-sell the car to you, based on the condition the vehicle is in. So, it's going to cost your more than the pay off amount..." 

And he said other things, but I stopped listening. Ultimately it can best be summarized as "Hahahahahahahahaha, no." 

Apparently there's a process that should start SIX MONTHS in advance of the end of your lease. You should schedule an inspection at least two months before. You should research other cars you might want. You should do anything and everything but show up to a dealer thinking it's EASY. But, just as I was about to freak out (which, let's face it, I still did) he told me that I could extend my lease. 

I went home in my still-leased vehicle and cried and got angry at myself. I even did a yoga video for "letting things go" so I was really in quite a state. Honda Financial was closed, so there was no way that I could figure everything out that night. So, instead, I spent the entire night feeling bad for myself and eating MSG-laden food. 

The next day, as early as I could, I called Honda Financial and asked them what I had to do to extend my lease. I had a pen and paper - and every document I might need - ready to go, assuming it'd be a LONG, ARDUOUS process. 

"OK, how long?" she said. 

"Um, what do you mean?" 

"How long do you want to extend? You can extend up to a year, but you could do less. Some people do 3-6 months. You could also pick 6 months now and extend later if you want, up to 1 year." 

"OK... how about 6 months?" 

"OK great. Done. You'll pay the same amount, the same way, every month. Same mileage. Same everything. Our conversation is done." 

Areyoufuckingkiddingme? 

So, basically, I'm an idiot. And I was really upset with myself for being so ignorant, not doing my research and then for getting so upset when it got difficult. There are going to be much, much harder days in my future than that. I was embarrassed. But, you know what? That's how we learn our lessons. Now I know *everything* that needs to be done not only when you near the end of your lease, but I know everything about registering an out-of-state vehicle as well. 

I know that research and planning ahead is your friend, that way you don't need to make any desperate decisions. I know that getting all your ducks in a row gives you peace of mind. And I know that breathing through the hard stuff is going to help me deal with it, not MSG fingers dipped in delicious ginger sauce.

Being an adult is hands down the worst experience I've ever encountered. But damn, does it feel good when you finally master it. Kind of. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thankful Little Letters


Last week, I was hanging out with a friend who I hadn't seen in a few months. As we got through the small talk - jobs, life, etc. - he told me that I never seem happy. That I'm always on the fence about everything and never satisfied. Immediately, I felt terrible because I don't want to be like that! I want to be happy! I want my forward-facing attitude (at the very least) to be hopeful and resilient, not beaten down.

Oh God, I'm Debbie Downer.

I've decided, for my own well-being, to start taking stock of the things that I'm grateful for even when I'm up-in-the-air about life. I might not be the happiest person these days, but I can be grateful for the little things that make my days so much better and my life worth living.

Oh God, I sound like I'm going to kill myself. I'm not!!!

--

Dear Boston in the summertime, there are times when you’re hot, but not humid, and there’s not a single dark cloud in the sky. When I walk around your cobblestone streets with my horrible ankles, find a seat on the waterfront, get too much sun and just zone out. Those days are the days I feel lucky to call this place my home, no matter where I live in my life.

Dear Yoga with Adriene, thanks for making me make time for myself and let me escape my brain for just 30-60 minutes every day. And thanks for making me STRONG AF.

Dear Ruthie, thanks for being excited to see me every day when I come home. Even though I know you'd eat me if I died.

Dear the song “Too Close” by Next, thanks for being the best song about public boners.

Dear blonde hair, thanks for being the best choice I’ve ever made.

Dear Hallmark Channel’s Christmas in July, thanks for existing. I know your movies are completely horrible, but your tried-and-true formula of a lady protagonist in constant search of the true meaning of Christmas really makes me happy. They also really make me feel like a great writer based on how bad the writing of those movies are.

Dear nail salon, thanks for reminding me that I can get a gel nail color change and not pay the full price of a manicure every two weeks. You’ve made me feel less guilty about my constant need for fresh nails. And thanks for always asking me if I'm "going out tonight" on weeknights. You think I have a much cooler life than I do.

Dear work travel, thanks for pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to visit places that I love and experience them for the first time on my own. So many #dinnersforone.

Dear candles that smell like tobacco, you’re weird but I like you.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Very Anxious Yogi

Have you guys heard of yoga? You really should look into it! Because it's great. And I've been doing a LOT of it lately. 

I actually started doing it more consistently a couple of years ago when I was revamping my lifestyle (aka becoming less lazy) and making better choices (aka not drinking and eating burgers every night.) I lost some weight and that was nice, but what I enjoyed the most about it was the peace of mind. I think yoga can get a negative stereotype for being sort of “crunchy” and it has lost a bit of its sexiness factor with the introduction of more heart-pumping workout classes like barre and cycling. But, I don’t know, I just love it.

When I started adapting that healthier lifestyle, I was going through a weird phase in my life. Mostly because I was starting to fully realize that the person responsible for the trajectory of my career path was ME and ME ALONE. Sometimes I wish I was a woman of faith so I could just leave it all up to God, but nope - I’m not. It’s just me. And I’m probably the person who is LEAST equipped to make such tough decisions.

But, regardless of qualifications, I’m left to handle it all on my own. Because of this, my anxiety started getting worse and worse. I began seeing a psychiatrist and he prescribed me a few different anxiety medications - one to take daily and one to take when I have panic attacks. I also saw a psychologist to talk through my shit.

In addition to ALL THAT, I started doing yoga every single day. I eased into it by giving myself permission to only do 15 minutes if I wanted to, the goal was to get on the mat and do SOME yoga every single day. The hardest part was actually getting on the mat, but once I was there and the 15-minute mark came, I found that I’d stay longer and longer.

After 30 days, I’d lost all the weight I had gained from my anxiety medications (which was a SUPER FUN side effect.) I was finally feeling really great, so I stopped taking my daily pill. Most professionals wouldn’t recommend doing that, but it felt right for me. I found that the pill wasn’t doing much for me at all, and I could have discussed trying a new pill - but I found that being healthier in general, challenging myself and overcoming some of the mental roadblocks I was putting up for myself, was a huge relief to my anxiety.

In general, I use the lessons I learn from yoga in so many different aspects of my day.

Setting an intention. When beginning a session, I am told to “set an intention” and believe it to already be true. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Be in a good mood” or a more lofty intention like, “Put myself first.” But, I find that when I do this in the morning - I hold myself to it all day. If I’m doing yoga at night, I fall asleep in a better mood and dread the following day a little bit less. A little bit.

Breathe into it. If something shitty happens, or I start to get stressed out, overwhelmed or upset - I breathe into it. Just like I’m told to breathe into the more painful, challenging parts of yoga - I breathe into the pains of my day. You can get through anything with some deep breathing! Especially climbing stairs. Or traffic. Or shitty tourists walking through the streets. Or being sexually harassed/assaulted by a restaurant manager in your neighborhood!

I'm STRONG AF! So, that's cool. It helps me carry air conditioners and heavy groceries up stairs.

I’m still responsible for what to do with my life, which sucks. I just wish that I could look ahead and clearly envision what I want and how to get there. But, I will say, I’m certainly feeling a little more at ease with the GIANT RESPONSIBILITY that is my future. If yoga has taught me anything, it’s that I should be present in the moment and accept my reality.

My reality is this: I have a job that pays well and pays my bills. In addition, I have options and opportunities and talent. I have the freedom to pursue WHATEVER I want to pursue. That’s a luxury I don’t appreciate nearly as often as I should.

So, basically, I don’t know -  do yoga. It’s awesome.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My 10 Year Drinking Anniversary

Today, around 4:00pm, I will be a 31-year-old woman.  

That means I have been legally able to drink for ten full years.  And I never took that right for granted for even one second!  My 21st birthday party was actually celebrated bar crawling around Boston in the pouring rain and wearing a black hoodie with jeans.  My life is a bit different now than it was ten years ago.  The biggest change, of course, being that I only own one pair of jeans and I’d never wear them on my birthday.

To be honest, I’m not even remotely afraid of aging.  I’ve got good genes on my side.  And even if I didn’t, I’ve watched enough Real Housewives episodes to know that if there’s one thing you can aggressively fight, besides your closest friends, it’s age.  And if living in Los Angeles has taught me anything, it’s that you should start with a smaller amount of injection units in your early twenties.  And get some lip fillers while you’re there.  

I haven’t though.  Not yet.  I have a couple of wrinkles, but I deserve them due to the way I have lived my life… laughing, repressing and excessively drinking through my problems.

I was reading through this old blog last night, reading words I’ve posted on past birthdays, and I realized that every single year I reflect on lessons I’ve learned.  And every year, they’re basically the same.  And every year, I prove myself wrong because while I have learned plenty of lessons, I don’t always do better the next time.

I’m a predictable work in progress.

What I can say is this:

Being in your thirties is much better than being in your twenties. I have far more confidence, way more fun and I even look better now than I did back then. Go figure. I’ve very much come into my own and I’m happy with who I am.  However…

Being in your thirties is much, much harder than being in your twenties. When you’re young, and stupid, there aren’t a ton of consequences. It’s kind of a designated “figuring shit out” time in your life. But in your thirties, the pressure is on. You can’t keep starting over (well, I guess you can, but it’s harder) and you can’t keep fucking up without severely screwing with your life.  

The past year or two has been really hard.  I don’t know where I want to live or what I want to do. I’m trying to figure all of that out while also battling heavy bouts of depression and anxiety.  But, that being said, these have also been really formative years for me. I’m dealing with things I don’t think I’d ever have been able to handle in my twenties. But here I am, handling them and growing from them with maturity.  Sometimes.

The past ten years of my life have been awesome, which is something I only realize right now at this moment and God dammit, it’d have been nice to know it was great while it was all happening.  I’ve made a lot of bad decisions and taken a lot of wrong turns.  I’ve fallen in love, gone through breakups, moved across the country, got a concussion and sprained my ankle at the same bar on two separate occasions and I’ve even tried a fried deviled egg and decided against partaking in that experience ever again.

And, fine, here are a few lessons learned:

Get a pet. Or a friend with a pet.
Exercise and eat healthy. At least every now and then.
Outsource annoying shit. For me, that’s hiring movers and not relying on friends/family. And also gel manicures because I can’t do my own nails and don’t have time to wait for drying.
Acquire less stuff. Clothes, knick knacks, furniture… Muppet stuffed animals.
Find your people. The ones with positive vibes who make you laugh, will drink after bad days with you and can put together a good cheese plate.
Live alone, or learn to be alone. Because alone time is the best.
Be true to yourself. Even if "yourself" is an introverted, creative, outgoing, procrastinating, Muppet-loving weirdo.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Letters To Myself

Dear Patty, mistakes you have made in your past have no place in your present/future. Stop dwelling on them. (And if other people still care about them… not your problem. You’ve apologized/rectified/done what you’ve had to do, and that’s all you can do.)

Dear Patty, when you say really nice things to people after a glass or two of wine, it’s not that big a deal. In fact, it’s kind of a nice thing to do. Stop feeling stupid the next day. You have so much else to feel stupid about. (Like wearing dumb shoes that cut up your ankles. Your ankles hurt enough on their own!)

Dear Patty, if your gut tells you it’s not a good idea, it’s probably not a good idea.

Dear Patty, it’s OK that you didn’t listen to that gut feeling that told you it wasn’t a good idea. Move on. You can try again and do better next time.

Dear Patty, we get it... you like Muppets.

Dear Patty, who cares what other people think of the decisions you make in your own life? Everyone is different, goals change and success looks different to everyone. If you keep holding yourself to someone else’s standards for success, you’re going to be miserable.

Dear Patty, maybe stop referring to yourself as a “garbage person” to the owners of the company you work for?

Dear Patty, give yourself some credit and think bigger picture. In your 30 years of life, you’ve accomplished a whole fucking lot. I mean, you've got a cat for a roommate! That's BIG!

Dear Patty, there’s been a piece of glass in your foot for like, months. Just… letting you know.

Dear Patty, it’s okay that you’re feeling a little lost and unsure of what your next steps are in life. Just make positive steps in the right direction and control what you can. Do more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t. Take more risks and stop making excuses. And sometimes, allow yourself to not have the answers and lie on the couch and watch a shitty Hallmark movie.  

Dear Patty, only 15 sleeps until Christmas!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mental Health Check

Remember earlier this year when I wrote a post about the depression I was going through and I received awesome comments and responses from so many people? I wrote that post in January. That was almost a whole year ago, but not quite because if it were actually a year then Christmas would be over AND THAT WOULD BE TERRIBLE.

This post is a follow up.

Depression is THE WORST. But thankfully, my depression has got a lot better this year.  There have been ups and downs, but overall I’m feeling much happier and more hopeful than I was earlier this year. I’m generally a pretty positive, optimistic person.   When that goes away, and I feel completely lost and hopeless and alone, it scares the shit out of me. Pair that with anxiety and you've got yourself a real fun time.

There were times this year where I thought about ending my life. There were times this year where I convinced myself every single person in my life hated me, including my family. There were times this year that I didn’t eat because I didn’t think I deserved to eat. There were times where I made really shitty decisions to somehow make myself feel better only to feel worse (like food-related or alcohol-related or boy-related decisions.)  

I also had several bad panic attacks.  One was so bad that my body LITERALLY shut down and went completely numb basically as a way of saying, “Hey Pats. You should stop and you won’t, so I’m going to stop you for you.”   I had to go to urgent care a few times and I even got an EKG because I thought I had a heart attack. (Nope. Just a really bad panic attack.)

But! Some days were great and I was really happy. I was really empowered. I did a lot of cool stuff for my career. I wrote a lot. I focused on the positive stuff in my life. And most importantly, I got help. I started seeing a therapist every single week. It’s not always convenient – and there’s not always stuff to talk about – but having that carved out time in my week to focus on getting my brain in the right place has really helped me.  (And it took a few therapists to narrow down the right one.)

Also, thankfully Xanax exists for those really bad days. And Christmas music. There's no greater joy than listening to Christmas music when it's not the season. No offense to those of you who subscribe to the "Celebrate One Holiday At A Time" mentality. I'm against that and pro-Living My Damn Life However I Want.

All in all, my mental health is getting better.  Because I took the steps I needed to take this year to get it all under control. I didn't just try to handle it on my own because that's what strong people do. Or that's what I thought strong people did. I went through a lot this year and it was a really tough one for me. But I will say that I feel good, strong, confident, and awesome MOST days and I feel useless, hopeless and terrible only some days!  Baby steps!

I'm so tired of the stigma surrounding mental health and being labeled "crazy" by others... and also by myself. I call myself crazy all the time! But I'm not. I'm anxious, I'm depressed, I'm paranoid, I'm obsessive compulsive, I'm... okay, you're right, I'm crazy. But that's okay. I'm embracing it. It's part of my many charms. (Nestled right in there with my clovers and blue moons.)

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