This Too Shall Pass: Figuratively & Literally

14203089_10157310096840063_1061076551_oAt this moment in time, I am content. Not this day, not this hour. This moment at 8:42 am. The sun is streaming in from the floor-ceiling window with a gentle breeze causing my fly-away hairs to move. Despite the threats of terrible weather predicted all week, rain is nowhere to be found.

Sitting at my laptop with a large mocha iced latte beside me, I feel more at peace than I have in the last month. Maybe this sense of calmness will only last for the next few minutes. But being able to be in the moment, soaking in the slow introduction of fall and the realization that I infact made way through a rocky month of August, is a gift from the universe I am embracing with open arms.

Another reason I’m grateful for this moment in time is that my body finally feels like my own again. It only takes a short bit of time to know me until it becomes apparent that part of my sparkling personality involves a splash of hypochondria. Okay maybe a few liters or a gallon.

The night before making my First Holy Communion in the 2nd grade, I kept my parents up throughout the evening because I was positive that chicken poxs were going to appear and prevent me from finally getting to eat Jesus.

In college when my hands would begin to tremble, I had convinced myself that it was an early onset of Parkinson’s disease or ALS – at age 20. I totally ignored the fact that I was living off iced coffees and pop tarts, forgetting to eat several times a day while working on the student paper and juggling 20 credits.

13942217_10157160752825063_1537420903_nAnd I’ve lost track on how many times I have been convinced that my headaches were a warning signs of a brain tumor or impending aneurysm. Forget the fact that I was dehydrated/not wearing the glasses/forgot to take my medicine/was over tired.

So when my stomach began to feel increasingly bloated early last month with cramps, my anxiety began to skyrocket. My doctor listened to me as I rattled off potential diagnoses, which I then took a breath and asked her if I had ovarian cancer.  Why ovarian cancer? Because I read the preventive pamphlet in the waiting room lobby and took it as a premonition.

This was all before she had a chance to exam me, order or any tests, or get out any words besides ‘Hi there, so what brings you in today,’.

From being my primary doctor for over a year now, she smiled and knew that this was typical for me. After poking, prodding, a pelvic ultrasound and a blood test, I was given a clean bill of health with the caveat of keeping an eye on the pain as it could be an early sign of gallstones.

Basically the reason I was so uncomfortable was that I was full of shit. Literally. Of course knowing it was nothing more than a back up, my worry subsided. Ha….wishful thinking!

The next phase of my hypochondria was figuring out why I had this sudden back up in my plumbing. Of course, working in healthcare marketing does not help a hypochondriac manage fears. My job actually fuels my fears similar to the pumping a child with pixie sticks- it can get ugly fast.  Part of my work involves capturing patient stories, learning about their sudden onset of illness that caused them to almost lose their lives out of the blue. These diseases and diagnoses swirl through my mind, while I google despite being banned from it from both my primary doctor and my therapist, Dr. R. In the midst of this anxiety all while managing to work full time, I embarked on operation get my shit moving again.

o-POOP-EMOJI-ICE-CREAM-facebook

Things I learned during this unpleasant tasting discovery:

  • Prunes smell horrible, and taste just as bad
  • Prune juice now comes in a 6 pack
  • Miralax tastes best in apple juice
  • Kashi cereal has more fiber than prunes
  • It is never a good idea to take 6 stool softeners at one time
  • Anytime when buying laxatives, it is a rule of the universe that at least 2 people you know will magically appear in the checkout line, causing you to have to awkwardly hide the poop pills
  • An all natural colon cleanse supplement will make you cry out of horror of what is coming out of your body, and joy that shit is FINALLY coming out of your body.

While this ordeal was enough of a shit storm (pun totally intended) to derail a positive frame of mind, I also was alone in my apartment for 2 weeks while my roommate was traveling, and because of scheduling issues, I was unable to go to my weekly therapy sessions with Dr. R for 3 weeks.

Needless to say that this was the perfect setup for a spiral of self pity, worse case scenario planning, and a not-so-compassionate inner dialogue.

14182428_10157310096845063_1757199719_nBut the last week of August brought both cool weather to Philadelphia, and much needed relief to multiple areas of my life. My body finally has working plumbing again, meaning my pants and shirts finally fit again.

Rather than stressing about what my body is plotting against me, my energy can now be redirected to doing productive things like cooking dinner, writing and not being a miserable toad.

I finally went back to therapy, which was like an hour massage for the psyche. And after two weeks, my roommate is in route home from abroad. As much as I love Annie the cat as a roommate, she is not the best person to watch Jeopardy with after work.

Now it is 9:22 am and I am still enjoying the moment of the coffee shop calmness. And that I am breathing. Because the thing that continued to help me move through the hot mess of August was the phrase ‘this too shall pass’.  

Every moment is fleeting. The amazing moments of life surrounded by family members and friends. The terrible situations of grief and heartache that in the moment feel eternal. But no matter how joyus, how soul crushing a moment is, it shall pass.

Untangling Myself from an Emotional Rock Bottom

Originally published on Elephant Journal on 1/28/2016.

 

RG-Mermaid-2Not being able to see instant gratification from a newly-incorporated healthier lifestyle can snuff out any enthusiasm for sticking with it.

But sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there is no other choice but to stick it out for the long haul, clinging to the promise of an elusive “one day.” The alternative is to continue down a path of self destruction, whether it be emotional, physical or often times both.

A person does not suddenly wake up one morning and find themselves unexpectedly at rock bottom. The trail is paved by half-hearted attempts to integrate new routines that always seem to be sidelined by discouragement, before being forgotten for tried and true habits. The cycle repeats itself indefinitely until the build up of poor choices leads to a derailment of everyday life, serving as a gut-punching S.O.S.

Hitting rock-bottom is similar to sitting on the bottom of a swimming pool and looking straight up to the surface. At the bottom of the swimming pool, there is an awareness of sound and movement whirling above, but nothing is clear enough to be understood. Although a person may be able to avoid the wave-making commotion and chaos transpiring above, it comes at the price of never being able to experience the direct warmth of the sun.

Two years ago, I had realized that years of unresolved feelings and continuous unhealthy choices had navigated me to an emotional rock-bottom. Continue reading

Participation Prize: How Childhood Praise Was Affecting My Career

elite daily

I am thrilled to share my first ever essay published on Elite Daily. It has been a goal of mine to craft a thoughtful piece that would resonate to the readers of the website! Below is the article, which you can find on Elite Daily! 

Earlier this month, during one of my weekly mental personal training sessions (aka therapy with Dr. R), I was completely agitated and unable to self-soothe. After taking on several new projects at work, I was frustrated and surprised by the feedback I was given. In the past three months, various new responsibilities were added to my position, and they forced me to adapt quickly in order to continue producing high-quality work.

But unlike the projects that I’m versed in producing (usually well before deadline with rave reviews), my execution wasn’t as graceful straight of the bat. But that particular week, not only were people not enthusiastic about my projects, they also offered me some fairly harsh criticisms. Granted, the revisions and feedback are productive as I try to refine new skills. But I found myself questioning why career growth is painful at times, as self-doubt and assumptions of inadequacy gnaw on my brain.

Relaying the situation to Dr. R, it was clear this had nothing to do with my happiness with my job, or relationships with my colleagues. It didn’t take long for me realize what was fueling this emotional tailspin. I recalled articles in The New York Times and The Washington Postabout the Participation Trophy Generation, which is another way of saying Millennials are constantly given praise just for participating in something. And their expectation is routine, detailed feedback.

By the end of my session, the clarity of what was bothering me perked up my mood, but I was left with the horrifying realization I was the one pouring gasoline over the lighter fluid. And it’s all because I was born in the spring of 1989.

Continue reading

New Publication: Skirt Collective

SC-icon-5I’m thrilled to have my first essay published on Skirt Collective!  Per their website ‘Skirt Collective aims to be the modern woman’s compass for navigating culture, fashion, and the real world. Nestled between street smarts and book smarts, SC connects readers with practical information and opinions from a diverse array of voices in an honest, virtual space.’

You can read my latest article on their website. 

Hopefully this will be the first of many pieces that will be shared on their website! Make sure to follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

Generations Of Dysfunctional Body Image Ends With Me

Originally Published on Bustle in 2/2015

When you think of the phrase “eating disorder,” who do you picture? Young girls with visible ribs poking out of their barely-there pubescent bodies? Teenagers with their heads dangling in a toilet bowl?

Most likely, you don’t picture someone who looks like me. From a young age, I was praised for being a “good eater,” meaning I was open to all different types of foods, and my weight was always “healthy”.

Eating was a popular pastime in my family growing up, but cooking was left out of the equation. My mother’s goal each night was to serve a meal without using the oven, because she thought it made the house too hot. We ate packaged food covered in butter or cheese. Our proteins consisted of any meat my father could put on the grill, which oscillated between cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and pork loin.

At some point during my childhood, food became the reward. When my parents would have a major fight, or when my mom was sick in the hospital, my dad would bring me to a fast food place to eat. Over a Taco Bell Mexican pizza, he would promise me that things would get better, and that we would be a happy family one day. For a brief moment over that cheesy meal, I felt safe.

My mom had her first heart attack when I was twelve years old, and required an emergency quadruple bypass at age 43. That was the catalyst for other health issues, including several strokes, severe depression, and anxiety. It was a rare moment when my parents weren’t fighting over her health, the inability to pay bills, or even how I was being raised.

My self-image, like most young girls, became skewed around the fifth grade. Not only did I want to look like the models on my WB shows or in my CosmoGirl magazine —  I wanted to look good enough for my family to be happy. During fall semester of my junior year, I began restricting myself to eating only kidney beans. My college roommates would beg me to eat something else. When I called home to lament to my mother about their negative overreactions, she only fueled the fire. “They’re just bitter you’re losing weight. Keep it up,” she reassured me over the phone.

My mother’s weight yo-yo’ed throughout my childhood, and my father would belittle her for not being the size 8 she had once been. At night, I would sit at the kitchen table, watching her pop diet pills; each month, she’d try try a different brand that promised even better results. Sometimes, she would skip meals, but then, late at night, I would come down to find her binge-eating a container of cookies.

My mother never talked about exercise or eating in moderation. She never once considered signing up for a gym, or even walking around our neighborhood. After she became chronically ill when I was entering my teen years, she pushed her own looks to the side — and began to zone in on my appearance instead.

“We need to get you thinner, without that horrible stomach,” she’d say to me as a 17-year old. “You’re just not that kind of thin girl like [insert skinny friend’s name],” she’d point out.

For years, every time I left the house, I would ask her, ”Do I look pretty, do I look skinny?”

Continue reading

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in the Past 25 Years

After being alive for a quarter of a century, I’ve picked up a few useful pieces of information. The most valuable tidbits being the ones that I have learned the hard way. An activity on my list of 365 things to do in 365 days was to put together a list of 25 life lessons I’ve learned over the past 25 years. Honestly, this was a lot harder than I thought. Most of it is silly, some of isn’t rocket science, but it’s all gems of wisdom I now can share because of personal experience.

  1.                                                                          Cat’s like Spaghettios.                                                                                                                                                             200 (11)
  2. The knowledge gained at your first job will be much more valuable than anything learned during four years at college.   200 (1)      
  3. Interning makes a huge difference when applying to jobs. Skip the wine-tasting elective offered and apply for an internship or two.    200 (9)                                                                                                                                                                 
  4. When you only have $10 for food for an entire week before payday, McDonald’s Dollar Menu is a gift from God.      giphy (3)         
  5. Don’t listen to a nun who wears sneakers and marks your quiz wrong because you put Bill Clinton as an answer to the question ‘name a charismatic leader’ ,even if she lowers your grade.     200 (6)                                                                               
  6. When the car radio-presets are all screwed up, it does not mean a friend played an elaborate prank. Your car battery is about to die, so call a mechanic.         200                                                                                                                                    
  7. Eating seafood that has been marked down to clearance at the local Thriftway is never a good idea.      200 (2)                               
  8. Passion beats talent 95% of the time. A boss would rather have an employee with a great attitude that is teachable, rather than a skilled drone.   200 (8)                                                                                                                                                                     
  9. There’s no long term hurt that can come from going after a dream. The sting of rejection can be soften by the knowledge that at least you tried. And the payoff can be epic.     t8zvc                                                                                         
  10. Facebook stalking can lift up your spirits and make you feel inadequate in a matter of minutes.    facebooktwitter                                       
  11. Being cheap about something will only cost more money in the long run. Like that shitty $40 Ikea bed frame that is now propped against my wall used as a clothesline.          giphy (4)                                                                                                             
  12. It’s really terrifying to see your parents turning into a younger version of your grandparents.4OVLKQc                                                
  13. Friendship takes a lot of work after college.  giphy (5)                                                                                                                             
  14. Siri is not a friend to those of us who talk fast and have a strong ‘Northeast Philadelphia’ accent.    dImyJ                                      
  15. Finding the good bathroom at work is one of the most important things to do during the first week at a new job. bossy2                
  16. Fear of missing out and peer pressure isn’t always that bad. It all depends on the peers doing the pressuring.     I tried clean eating, and exercising because of the fear of missing out on the experience my coworkers were partaking in last year.                                                    giphy (1)                                                                                                                                        
  17. Cinnamon toothpaste is the most useless product created by the dental hygiene world.       200 (4)                                               
  18. Antidepressants only work half way, the user has to be willing to do the other half of the work to feel better.   btiffany                      
  19. Being in the good graces of your office’s administrative assistant, security team, janitor and cafeteria cook is more telling of your reputation than being in the good graces of the CEO.        tumblr_na0lx8bbpk1suzl23o1_500                                                                               
  20. Unit air conditioners get taken out of windows in the winter for a reason. Learning this hard way can result in getting a cold or freezing to death in your sleep.                                    200 (13)                                                                                               
  21. Your parents and/or your family’s way of life does not need to be how you live your life. Even if they tell you otherwise.  giphy (2)
  22. Motherly love can be appreciated at any age. And that doesn’t mean it has to come from your biological mother either.200 (12)   
  23. Never  be a jerk to someone who is apologizing. Even if you don’t accept it, give them the opportunity attempt.       giphy (18)         
  24. A person can actually overdose on vitamins. Especially Niacin, which I decided to take multiple times day to increase my happiness. My face was the color of an apple and I’m lucky my head didn’t explode.                  200_s (4)                                         
  25. Google is the reason why those reference books on my bookshelf at work are covered in dust. And has also encouraged my demand and expectations of instant gratification.200 (10)

The Christmas Cat That Worked Better Than Xanax

Originally Published on Huffington Post on 12/24/2014 and xoJane on 12/25/2014

2014 can be labeled as ‘the year of…’ many things. The year I turned 25.The year I spent recovering from a super-shitty depressive episode . The year I successfully ate a clean diet for 40 days, and ran my first 5K. The year I wrote about my online dating failures and had several articles go viral . The year my best friend’s son suddenly died. But most importantly 2014 will be the year I got a kitten. The year of the highly intelligent cat. Technically I was given to her for Christmas 2013, but didn’t bring her home on December 28, which is practically 2014.

2014-12-24-10885385_10154902143235063_3524299957804822172_n.jpg

That day as I drove through the streets of North Philly with a plastic cat carrier with the tags still on it, anyone who passed by me would think that I was insane. “We’re almost to place Cat, just stop making noises” I screamed trying to match the volume of the ear-piecing wails my new pet was making. Within a span of 72 hours, I had agreed to accept the Christmas present from a friend, a 4-month old marmalade colored kitten that a friend of a friend had found wandering around his apartment building. “This is the thing you need. It will provide such comfort,” my well meaning friend when she introduced me to my very much alive and active gift. As the cat and I eyed each other up for the first time, we were both skeptical of each other.

When we finally got to my apartment, I let her out to get a lay of the new land. She scurried to the drawer underneath my bed, where Cat stayed for several days. (Yes, originally the cat’s name was Cat because she looked identical to the one in Breakfast at Tiffanys. Eventually I named her Annie because she was an orphan , and Cat became to annoying to explain to non Audrey Hepburn fans.)

Great. The cat that is supposed to make me feel less alone wants nothing to do with me. Initially I was certain becoming a cat owner was a mistake, and had begun looking for places to drop her off. I was such a hot mess myself, and this cat doesn’t even like me. Continue reading

Is Therapy Really Worth It? Questions People Who See A Shrink Are Tired of Hearing.

Originally Published on 10/21/2014 on Bustle

My best friend and I are constantly playing phone tag. But there’s one person who promises to have my undivided attention once a week, no matter what: Dr. R; my therapist. For the past two and a half years, we have spent 55 minutes every Tuesday evening together, and for that, I’m grateful.

My adventures in therapy began during my sophomore year in college, when I walked into my campus’s mental health center after a close friend suffered a mental breakdown. We were so alike that I knew that if I didn’t do something, my fate would be similar. Now, five years later, I consider that decision the best choice I’ve ever made.

Just as many of us indulge in weekly nail salon trips to keep up our appearance, therapy sessions are essential to my emotional upkeep. But once I started being open with family, friends, and even acquaintances about going to therapy, I started to realize there are more than a few misconceptions out there about it.

Here are some of the dumbest things I’ve heard people say to me about therapy, and the actual truths about whatreally happens behind the white noise machine.

Continue reading