Processing the positive

I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I’ve tried all day to keep busy and productive, but it’s not happening. I should clean my house or at least get some homework done but the dishes that I ran through the dishwasher and the newly unclogged kitchen drain area bout all I’ve got in me today. To be honest, it’s not a horrible feeling. It’s not a lupus day or one of those that I’d say that “I’m out of spoons.” I don’t feel sick or that I didn’t rest well and I’m certainly not worried about anything. Truth be told, I blame it on yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those rare amazing days. My doctor’s visit (and I’m not discounting that the new dosage of medication has me feeling a bit slower than normal), I came home to a surprise in the mail- I still don’t know who it’s from exactly, but I’m grateful and I love the gift. I turned my homework in that I had been procrastinating on and got some awesome kudos. I went to vote before class and didn’t even get nervous when my bag had to be searched walking into the City-County building. When I told the guard I had a camera, he wasn’t expecting a decent set up. Turns out he’s interested in photography as well. Small world! We both ended up having a small laugh out of the whole thing. I got my usual coffee and tried not to worry about the critique we would be doing in class later on in the evening.

I’ll admit, I had been stressing over critique night. I am my own worst critic and I always expect to hear the same voices outside of my head that I do from the inside. What do you think you’re doing? Why do you think that this is any good? Where will this get you in life? Be serious now. As much as I hate to say it, I heard it growing up and maybe it’s because I’ve always had this instinct that I should be creating, I took it to heart. That same instinct is what’s kept me going though. That accepts the knocks and setbacks, but then jumps back into the process. Sometimes in a different subject, but always hungry to create.

Everyone in class was to select four photos from the field trip that we took on Saturday. I had poured over mine, asked for feedback, and ultimately went with my gut on what I thought were my best four photos. I still saw the imperfections in each one but I kept trying to remind myself that this is only the beginning. That’s why we’re doing the critique, so that we know where to improve. It didn’t help my anxiety any.

As I sat in class, I saw everyone’s photos before me. I heard the teacher making suggestions and heard the reactions of the class. It was pretty obvious when something just… wasn’t good. There were some well done photos as well, you could see the differences in our visions and application of style. Some people had a better grasp than others. The discussion was in a word, honest. It wasn’t harsh or demeaning, just very, very honest. I felt my pulse get faster the closer to my set that we got. I felt sick. I thought about walking out at least for some fresh air but at the same time, I felt paralyzed and I knew that I had to hear what needed to be said.

I almost didn’t recognize my first photo of a dog when it came up on the screen. The reaction was favorable. The teacher said it was a great shot. Pointed out texture, depth, lighting, all done reasonably well. He asked the class what should be changed. Nothing was the answer. One down, three to go. The second appeared. Detail of a fence. I started hearing rumblings amongst the class. Panic. Then I heard what they were saying. That they liked how I’d isolated the detail. That it was well balanced. What should be changed? Nothing. Then there was my squirrel photo. Ok. I’m ready for the negativity here. I’ve gotten halfway through my set and it’s been good so let’s go. I’m ready. The teacher pointed out my composition. How it mirrored something we’d discussed in class. Said it was an excellent shot. What should be changed? Not a thing. My last photo was one of a string of colored lights. The minute it came up, it was like a room full of people was watching a fireworks displays. “Oooh” and “Ahhh” and “Wow- where was this?” Again, what should be changed? Nothing.

Four photos. All nothing but positive remarks from both the teacher and the class. And nothing. NOTHING should be changed about them. I had other classmates as we were leaving compliment me on my set. Someone commented that mine was the only set that hadn’t had any recommendations for any of my four photos. How had I done such and such? And I don’t know. I just saw what I saw and I pushed the button.

When I got home, I reviewed the photos. I tried to be as objective as I could. They aren’t bad. I chose a good set. I was high on caffeine and adrenaline. Trying to process the positivity I had encountered. It’s bad when not only do you have trouble accepting the criticism but also the praise. Add that to the list of things I need to work on, yeah? I fought the doubt. The inner voice telling me that everyone had taken it easy on me because they could tell I was nervous. Everyone in that room was nervous. It wasn’t just me. Some people didn’t even speak up when their set began. I didn’t want to, but I did. And I’m glad I did.

My head is still spinning from all of it. I’m still processing. I’m still trying to accept that maybe, just maybe I’ve found something creative that I could be good at.

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Here we go again…

I just came back from yet another doctor’s appointment. This one has been on the schedule for a few months, so nothing terribly dire. I always dread this one though because it deals with my longest standing issue- anxiety and depression. About a year ago, when everything in my world was going sideways, my medical doctor recommended that I get in with a psychiatric professional to handle my medications. Because of the things going on at the time, I was on the heaviest dosage of antidepressants that I have ever been on. At the time, it felt like the right solution. The problem, and the thing that bothered me the most was that one of my goals in life was to be free of these kinds of drugs. I have taken them steadily for all of my adult life. Things have changed, stressors have gone away and I’ve learned to deal with things differently. Sometimes I’ve felt like the medications numb certain emotions to where I almost forget what it’s like to feel them. I don’t like that.

I remember when I felt anger again for the first time. It scared me. I didn’t know what this was, it took me forever to put the name to the fact that this was anger. This wasn’t being cheesed off at some little thing. Although, I would have preferred not to feel anger, it felt awesome to know that it was back. I had similar experiences with happiness, and let me tell you, it’s the oddest thing to actually realize that you’re feeling happy. That’s what these drugs can do. I’m not speaking out against them. They are for a purpose and managed correctly, they can be a lifesaver. I’ve just been curious for a long time about how I’d do on my own.

I knew better than to take that step alone and unsupervised. Even missing doses could cause issues, but my doctor wasn’t too keen on letting me be free.

So I took his advice and found a psychiatric nurse that I liked. She evaluated my situation and diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder and severe depression. She made some changes in my medication, but I was still at a lofty dose. As the year progressed and things started settling down, I got up the nerve to ask her if I could see how a lower dose would work for me.

We talked about it to great length and she agreed to let me try it on the condition that I keep her updated on any and everything I was doing and how I was handling things. That wasn’t a difficult thing to agree to, so the pact was made. For the past 6 months or more, I’ve been on this journey of decreasing the medication.

I wish I could say it had been easy, it hasn’t. It’s not been all bad and knowing that I’m getting through more and more by myself and not relying on a pill to keep me evened out keeps me going. I was a little disappointed when I went to see her in November. We opted at that time not to make any more changes until I had my physical after the first of the year. She wanted a few things checked out so that she could take that into consideration on where to go with the meds. Today was the day to discuss it.

At first, she said we’d keep things the same. I brought up the question of when we’d reduce again. That’s when she said, let’s talk. We discussed all of the things that have happened in the past year. What medications and what dosages I was taking at those times and how I handled them. We both caught ourselves being amazed at how far I’ve come in that time. And that I’m doing more and more on less and less.

I’m doing this. I’m controlling things.

Yes, I felt like having a meltdown a couple of weeks ago, but going through the medical stuff I was faced with, who wouldn’t feel some anxiety. Starting school had me nervous, but that’s okay. What I’m feeling is normal and it feels good to admit that.

So, I’m not completely free yet, but we’ve made the next step. Slow and steady. I will be at the lowest dosage that this medication even comes in. Another six months and I should finally be at my goal. I know that the next few weeks, I’m going to have some of the withdrawal symptoms that won’t be pleasant, but I have so much to look forward to at the end of it that I’m keeping my optimism.

It feels good to be better.

Trying something different.

We had our first class field trip yesterday. Two hours of wandering around downtown with about 30 other people snapping photos left and right. Now is the big task of picking out two groups of photos, and I think I’ve gotten it narrowed down. The first group of photos was to be for the class Facebook page. I didn’t even know we had one. Wow. The second set is to be put on a drive and taken to class on Tuesday for review and critique. I have to admit, I’m pretty nervous about that. I’m my own worst critic.

So instead of sharing words, I’m going to share these two groups of photos if I can figure it out. If not, I’ll just edit in a link and add that to the laundry list of things I need to research on how to do on here.

Edit to add: Well- looks like it worked!

 

Squirrels are evil.

They are. They’re scheming little bags of rodent fur. They’ve got to have high intelligence to pull off the things that they concoct.

Case in point (or, a little short story about what just happened.)

Some time ago, I started feeding the birds in the backyard. I got one of those “bird-seed- shaped-like-a-bell”… things, thinking that would do the trick. It did, but once the squirrels discovered it, there wasn’t much left for the birds. Ok. So I got a “squirrel proof feeder.” I have photos of the gymnastics these things are capable of to wind themselves up and under the wiffle to empty it of everything I have deposited. Fine. I’ll get some corn and have something special for the squirrels so they’ll stay out of the bird seed. That worked for a little while but they got tired of it really fast. Maybe those little cage things- you can get either suet blocks or seed cakes (in my case, I got both) and surely they can’t get into those.

The cages are their favorite. They hang like little strippers off of the bars, legs flailing every which way just to get at some birdseed. Have I mentioned their gymnastic prowess? Sheesh! However, I conceded. They like the cages, they can have the cages. I’ve found that in the winter, the seed cakes can be harder to find, so I had been looking for a good alternative. Wildlife mix! Corn, seeds, nuts, they’ll like this and they won’t have to work so hard for it. I’ll put some out in a bowl and they’ll be happy. They’ll love me for this.

So there’s this squirrel, just for the sake of this post, we’ll call him Ernie. To be honest, I couldn’t pick Ernie out from a lineup of other squirrels. I’m pretty sure he’s the same one, but as I’m not out to ruin the good name of a good squirrel, don’t take my word for it. Hell, I’m probably protecting him as it is by calling him Ernie. Surely his real name is Squibbles or something of the sort. So I’m changing it to protect the innocent.

Ernie was mad at me. For two or three days, I’d look out. He’d have his fat little butt perched on the railing next to the cage. He’d look at the empty cake cage. He’d look at me. Back to the empty cake cage. He’d swing it with his paw. Staring at me. Fire rising in his little beady eyes demanding his seed cake. Where was it? Why was I holding out on him? Was he going to have to get the SquirrelFather to take care of things?
I made sure that the Wildlife Mix bowl was full and fresh. He nosed it. Looked at me as if to say “You really expect me to eat this stuff?” and then he hopped down and went back to the trees.

I couldn’t take the pressure any longer. I caved last night and went to the pet store in hopes that they had seed cakes. Golden light streamed from the heavens onto the endcap of aisle six, illuminating the seed cakes in all of their glory. And they were on sale. Double score! This morning, I went out early, placed the new seed cake proudly and hoped that the Squirrel-Gods would see fit to let me live another day. I kept watching. No squirrel. No squirrel. No squirrel.

Finally! I went to get my lunch and I looked out and saw a glimpse of that bushy tail. I opened the curtain and there he was. Fat little evil Ernie. Sitting with his haunches flayed to where it made his butt look ten times bigger than he was. Very Jabba the Hut-like, minus the slaves, although I’m sure he’s working on that.

Sitting

In the bowl

of Wildlife Mix.

Shoveling it into his cheeks as fast as his paws would allow.

I looked at the seed cake. It hadn’t been touched.

That evil little big-butted bastard.

He finally noticed I was watching him. His cheeks full to burst with corn, seeds, nuts, all of the stuff he had decided was beneath him to eat for the past several days. He stopped with his hands in front of him and gave me the whole “What?” look.

“You’re an evil little big-butted bastard, that’s what.” I told him. He just stared. Then he casually hopped down and up a tree. Cheeks still full.

It’s a good thing I love those little jerks.

 

Take a deep breath. Count to ten.

I’m stressed.

Despite my best attempts at adulting last year, I’m coming up short on some paperwork that I need to get these stupid taxes done. I was adamant about putting things in one place and never worried a thing about it. I got totals from my Business Guy the other day and they didn’t match up to what I had. So I dig through my files. Finally, I get the numbers to add up. I called my CPA all proud of myself.

It’s not enough. Sure, I have amounts and contract numbers but I’d have needed a personal secretary to capture everything I need in one place. I need specific dates, I need this, I need that. I feel very lost and overwhelmed at the moment. Just thinking of it makes me want to run screaming. Or take a nap.

So I’ve spent the morning working a gigantic multi-faceted puzzle of paperwork. It’s coming together. It’s going to take time, but it will happen. I also dropped an email to Business Guy screaming HELP! He is the master of spreadsheets. He has one somewhere that has everything I need, I’m sure. In the meantime I’m doing what I can on my own. It’s part of doing the thing.

One thing I can’t help noticing is how inwardly I start getting over things like this. Why didn’t you do better? Why are you struggling with this? That’s not helping in any way. I was in the middle of this when my husband texted me:

“Want to help me pick out seats for the concert in April?”

Concert? How can I think about that when I’m the most horrible person on the face of the planet because I can’t keep up with some paperwork and I can’t make numbers magically add up. I don’t need one more thing to worry about at the moment. But then again, yes, I do. I need something to pull me out of this hole I’ve dug for myself this morning. I need a distraction for a moment. Something happy that I want to think about. So begrudgingly, I put my file folders down and I went back to my laptop. I closed the spreadsheets, the email, and my calculator and I pulled up the venue we’ll be going to in April. I started getting excited about the show and not thinking about numbers. How no seat in the place was a bad view and how wonderful being there will be to see one of my favorite musicians in such a small venue. And how the most horrible person on the face of the planet surely wouldn’t be able to enjoy something like that- so maybe that wasn’t me after all.

Just the distraction was enough. We picked out the seats we wanted, he got them ordered and I feel better. I don’t take enough time at times to just stop, count to ten and go on. It’s important when stress sets in to do something like that. I’m not avoiding what I need to be doing. In fact, I went back to it and realized I had things further along than I thought I did. All in all, I didn’t do bad keeping records either. Yes, there are a few things I can’t find, but I made some good notes. I may have a few more things to piece, but it will get done. Besides, Business Guy most likely hasn’t even laid eyes on my email yet. I’ll send him a box of donuts or something if he comes through. It’s. Not. That. Bad.

And I’m going to an awesome concert in April.

Bring it… I dare you.

It’s really amusing how things end up working out.

I hit publish on my post yesterday and two minutes later, my doctor’s office called again. More abnormalities. Are you serious right now? 41 years of nothing “more” than elevated ANAs now and again, and now things are showing up? The good news is that it’s nothing like last week. The bad news is that I need to go get a check from a specialist who most likely will tell me that everything is fine in my world once again.

Even though I know this, it hasn’t kept me from worrying. Worrying is so counterproductive, but it’s one of the things that my mind does best. I guess when you’ve been used to having a lot on your shoulders for so long, it takes a while to get used to not carrying that weight any longer. The muscle memory is still there to be ready at all times to accept the burden.

Since all of this has come up medically, I know I’m going to have to fork out a chunk of change for doctors’ visits and testing. Insurance never covers what you think that they should. I started thinking back to last year and how I felt like the little guy in Animal Crossing paying off his house finally. Debt was gone and I hadn’t realized how much what little I had was on my mind constantly.  Taxes are coming up, I don’t really have a steady income at this point, there are a few things I am going to absolutely need for school, (and tuition is coming up for my next classes) now THIS.

Cue that worry instinct. Shoulder muscles tighten and hurt. Head starts aching.

Hello worry, my old friend…

And then.

I decide despite it all, I’m going to sit down and work on some business stuff. Business= money in one way or another. What can I say? I’m a masochist. Let’s dive deep into the thing that’s stressing me the most this morning. Crap, I don’t have some of the paperwork I’m going to need for this tax thing. Grumble grumble grumble. I should call my “guy” (I don’t know what else to call him? Agent? No, that sounds like I’m really doing something creative for a living. Broker? How pretentious is that? He’s a… Business… Guy… we do business. He’s a guy. That works.) and see if he can get me a rundown from his side of the fence. I haven’t spoken with him in awhile. He’s a nice enough guy, but our business has pretty much ended. I start realizing that the thought of talking to him about closed business is kind of depressing. I don’t want to do it, but I call anyhow.

Of course, he can get me what I need. He’s awesome like that. We small talk, we catch up a bit, nice Business Guys are always a plus. Then he asks if his assistant had gotten in touch with me yet? Say what? Now, keep in mind that anxiety creates this phenomenon every time something unexpected happens or in this case, is said. In my case, my blood runs cold. My head spins and I feel like I’m going to pass out. Yes, just from being asked if Business Guy’s assistant had contacted me. Did I mention that I worry sometimes? Skip through worry into full out panic mode.

Here it comes- Was some of the business wrong? They overpaid me, right? Contracts weren’t as they should have been? I have to pay *them* back for a mistake somewhere? Nobody really shot J.R. and it was all a dream?

As it turns out, it looks like we’re back in business on some negotiations. It might pan out, it might not, but it’s being assessed. There will most likely be a small amount of money. Nothing instant or huge, but anything works, yeah? I happened to mention a lead that I had been given that I all but had forgotten about until this conversation. He’s on it. I realized something at this moment. I am enjoying this! Yes, it’s nice to hear there may be some cashflow, but just dealing with this stuff, feeling empowered,, having the connections I need to get things done. Taking care of *my* business. Suddenly, I feel better. And it’s all because it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Nothing has to have a horrible, terrible, deep deep dark dark deep dark pit at the end of it. That’s something I need to keep working on.

It’s made me think that everything I’ve been worrying about? It’s not so disastrous.  Bring on the doctors’ bills. Bring on the equipment I need. Bring on the abnormalities that turn out to be nothing that I’ve worried about for no reason whatsoever. Bring on the taxes… well, those I could do without. Do you realize what I’ve accomplished in the past year? A few little things can’t ruin that. But my mind can. I can choose to let it wreck me, or I can take these worries, be productive with them and keep having an amazing life.

I’m aiming for the latter.

Life and Time

I am convinced that time moves in differing speeds depending on your location and the events at hand. Everyone knows that time flies when you’re having fun, that work and school last about five times longer than they should and that birthdays really have that way of reminding you how quickly things really have been moving. Doctors’ offices have their own time velocity as well and it’s one of the most erratic known to humankind.

The clock doesn’t move. The room grows colder. You wait. And though your body is telling you that everything is okay, and that this is just a little scare, your mind screams the entire time demanding answers. It doesn’t even matter if those answers are what you’re hoping for, you just need to hear something or else you’re going to go crazy. That’s when you start contemplating the paths your life will take depending on which answer you receive. You start seeking out the fabric and fiber of your own string universes and how very similar or different your life will end up from this very moment. This *very* moment. The one that requires a full five minutes in which to blink your eye.

On one hand, that “something” that they found during testing is nothing. It’s a glitch in the machine. It’s a positioning error. It’s the uniqueness of your own corporeal body showing how special and snowflake like it can be. On the other hand, it’s not okay and your entire world changes in a second. But how long will that second last if it comes to be? Definitely longer than the one before it. How long have they been back there deciding the next move? If it was nothing, wouldn’t they be back by now, smiling faces and telling you to get dressed, go home, and to have a nice afternoon?

And they return.

Five minutes and five seconds happen simultaneously as they say that they want to check things out a little further. Just another test to make sure that they’re really seeing what they think they’re seeing.

Time speeds up.

The second test is happening at light speed. Your head spins from the pace and it takes your breath away as you lie there watching the lights run past you. The machinery is a blur and any sign at all of what they’re seeing would be very welcome at this point. You can’t cry. It’s not an option. It’s time to be in the now, but it’s hard to slow back down to be in the precise moment as it’s happening. You do your best not to suffocate under your own will to remain calm. And then it’s over.

And the waiting begins again.

And time has once again, stopped.

Emotions are becoming impossible to deal with internally, but you’re managing. Sure, you look a little nervous, who wouldn’t be? But nobody knows that inside you’re reeling. Fear. Relief that if there is something there, it’s being found and can be treated. Anger that you’ve finally gotten your shit halfway together and now something comes along that could very well knock your balance out from under you. All at once. The strings from those alternate realities are almost visible in front of your face and you try to trace their paths to be sure of where they lead before you grab the one that will become yours. Knowing full well that there’s only one reality and this is it. That if your life is about to take a drastic change, that you can handle it. That you’ve handled tough spots before and you can do it again. You’re stronger now than you were during the last hurdle, you’ve got a few more people on your side that will cheer you on. It’s going to be okay. Whatever it is, it’s okay.

The doctor returns. She wants to check a few more things. When they called you they said this would only happen if there truly was something abnormal. It’s abnormal, but it’s okay. You’re where you need to be to hear that news. Those that you need are a phone call away. You’re not alone. You have access to answers. You can do this.

And then she says that everything is fine.

You don’t even hear it. All you notice are all of the strings of your universes retracting into the invisible ever after except for one. You reach out and touch it. This one is velvet, soft, and comforting. She says it again. That you’re fine. Time once again slows, but this time it’s welcome. The velvet wraps around you, embracing you in safety and happiness. She explains what caused the alarm and that it’s something that will be watched carefully. That it indeed could be your corporeal body showing how special and snowflake like it can be. You feel lucky. And relieved. And you just want to cry.

And time returns to normal.

One Year…

I realized this afternoon that it’s been one year since I walked away from my job.

It’s been the best year of my life.

At some point after getting out on my own, my responsibilities took over my life. I decided that I wasn’t a productive adult unless I was taking on more than my fair share. I convinced myself that I had to take the harsh words and abuse that came with any job because that’s just what you do. To be honest, I had great relationships with most of my bosses and although I pushed myself to the limits physically and mentally, I did reasonably well at work.

A year ago that changed. In summary, I ended up feeling forced into responsibility that I knew deep down that I did not want. I could not see eye to eye with my new boss and the stress kept growing and growing. My entire body started to rebel. I became an anxious mess, but I plugged along. Being an adult, doing what I was told and not talking back to the people above me, even though they were less than kind and would say anything to get you to do what they wanted. The stress brought about major Lupus flares and my doctor sat me down and told me that I had to get out. The stress was literally killing me.

“I have been telling you for a couple of years now that you need to be off of your feet,” she began. “This is it. We won’t be having this conversation again in another year.”

Those words cut to the bone. Did she mean I wouldn’t be here in a year? That she would refuse to treat me in a year if I didn’t try to do something about my situation? I never asked. It didn’t matter. If it was enough for my medical doctor to tell me this, then it was serious. I lined up a new job rather quickly. I wasn’t enthusiastic about this new job, but it would get me out of the situation I was in. I felt like I couldn’t leave that place until I had a plan in place. That’s what adults do, right?

My two week notice lasted a week. My boss came to visit a week to the day from when I was supposed to have my last day. I realized I couldn’t do it anymore and that was it. Scared, in pain, embarrassed, I walked away.

In my mind I had just committed a cardinal sin. Thou Shalt Not Walk Away From A Job Until Thou Is Ready To Walk Into A New One. Yes, I had a new one lined up, but it was weeks away from starting. What was I going to do until then? How was I going to survive? The worst was what would other people think? I just quit.

Well, the people who really mattered to me understood. They saw what I was going through and wanted me to stop hurting myself by plugging along. My husband was my greatest support. He reminded me that I had emergency savings and this was indeed, an emergency. We’d be okay. Ever the skeptic, I didn’t believe him.

I slept for days afterwards.

The new job started and to be honest, I wasn’t well enough to handle it. I had started to recover some from the massive anxiety and Lupus flares, but not enough. I made the tough decision to leave that as well. This was so unlike me. To leave two jobs within months of each other? Just quit? I decided I was having a major breakdown.

With time on my hands, I started revisiting things that I used to enjoy doing. Reading. Writing a few things here and there. I kept my house cleaner, took better care of myself. Things were going okay.

Shortly after all of this, I had an opportunity open up to me that I could not pass up. It was going to mean doing a lot of research. There were days I felt like all I did was sit on the computer looking up information and talking on the phone to coordinate all of the business. I joked that I had become my own secretary. And it paid off. Money came in. Not a grand legacy, but enough. Enough to live on, to replenish my savings. Enough to pay my bills, and to have a sense of security that I didn’t think was possible on February 3, 2015.

Meanwhile, I healed. The flares died down and my anxiety ebbed. Feeling better, I felt like getting into more of the things that I hadn’t thought about doing in ages. Writing became more frequent. I started studying Spanish. I started drawing and writing again and I started enjoying being outside. Outside, watching the birds and the various wildlife that one sees on the outskirts of city limits. Raccoons, voles, chipmunks, opossums, and the occasional deer. I bought a guide and challenged myself to learn all of the types of birds I was seeing. Of course, to do this efficiently, I took photos of them to compare to my guides later.

Then I wasn’t happy with the camera on my phone any longer. I bought a nice camera. Nothing crazy expensive, but nice. The back patio became my studio. Hundreds of photos. I shared, I got praise, I wanted to do more. I watched my skill with my camera grow. My photos got better and the animals, being more used to me were better models as well. I found something that I loved and I decided I needed to find my full potential.

And that’s where I am. I’m back in school for photography. It began as one non-credit course, but it’s turning into a certificate program. I still have my days, but I feel so much better. My creativity flows now. I enjoy things so much more, and I feel that I’m more the person that I used to be once upon a time. The weird, creative kid. I like that title. I’ll take it.

And none of this would be here had I not taken that step away from the toxicity that I was in up to my ears. I’m looking back on the year and how much courage it’s taken- how much courage I’ve been able to muster to do all of these things. To go the places in between the paragraphs of this story and to not only prove that I could survive, but to become a better me on the other side.