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Be Honest.

I originally started blogging here to write just about music. I've always gone to tons of shows, and I'm always listening to new music, so I figured why not write about it? I went to school for journalism, because in 1994, journalism was still kind of a thing. And my employer was finally letting me write some content for their blog, so I was ready to write again. I had also started a second blog, Infinite Jess, where I discussed more of the personal things going through my brain.

Since losing my job, I have felt like I am cracked wide open. I've been all raw nerves and new emotions. I didn't realize until very recently that the reason I feel that way is because all of my usual coping mechanisms (shopping, food, drinking, drugs) are out of reach, because I don't have any money to spend on them. So, for the past almost six months, it's just been me and my feelings, hanging out, day in and day out.

I've spent a lot of time reading really heavy books. Stuff from Brene Brown. Roxane Gay. Glennon Doyle. I've listened to most of the episodes of Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. And they all discuss one central theme: shame.

I never realized how much shame was steering me through my everyday life. Whether it is feeling ashamed about how I grew up, or my weight, or some of the men I've dated, or the traumas that I have experienced...they're all rooted deeply in shame.

Shame has kept me from moving forward in my life in a lot of ways, especially professionally. Now that I can look at my job history without the lens of shame, I'm happy that I was fired not once, but twice. Both times by women who were clearly hurt or hurting, and love to hurt people around them. When I left my last job, one of my coworkers told me "just remember, hurt people hurt people". And it's stuck with me.

So now, without those bad coping mechanisms, and diving back into the neverending cycle of finding an antidepressant that works, I am looking at my shame. But even more than that, I want to be honest about myself. My struggles. Things that have happened to me. I want to be brutually honest and unafraid. I want to tell my radical truths and not be ashamed anymore. Because as those parts of my past are fading away, I can also see my future pretty clearly.

The main difference has not only been therapy, it has been Happiness. My husband and I have been married now for a year. And it's been a tough year personally. But every single day, I get to wake up with him. We speak a different language. We're honest with each other. We still make each other laugh, but he also hugs me when I'm crying and feeling like i'm absolutely losing my mind. When we were dating, he used to drive me to my therapy appointments and wait in the lobby for me. Kurt is my partner, my love, and my driving force to stay alive, and keep fighting for the life that I deserve. We're broke, but we're surviving. And we're there for each other.

I've applied for jobs, with no luck. It may be because my former employers are dragging my name through the mud, which seems like something they'd do. But honestly? I can't work right now. Just getting out of bed most days is a chore. I take Ambien every night, and wake up every morning exhausted. I've had days where all I can do is wake up, get out of bed, feed the cats, and go back to sleep. It's certainly no way to live, but it's my reality some days. And I honor that. I live from day to day, and I forgive myself when I can't do more.

Not working has given me space to figure out what I want to be doing with my life. And the answer is always the same: I want to be writing. I also love photography. I want to be shooting film again. I also want a new DSLR, but that will happen eventually. I'll make do with what I already have. The new camera will happen eventually.

I also want to be helping people. I started doing volunteer work earlier this year, helping with the revitalization of the neighborhood that I grew up in. It's the only work that I've done in my entire adult life that has felt rewarding. It has also helped me from sliding completely into a nervous breakdown. Volunteer work is truly a gift, and I'm proud to be doing it.

I do try and force myself to get out into the world, if only for a walk in the metroparks or to go and see my mom. But even that is hard. I get really nervous in public. Someday, it won't be forced. I'll get moving on the eBay stuff, so that I don't have to go back to working with awful people. I'll be able to just leave my house and not have to talk myself into it. I will be able to see people from my past in public and not have it bother me. Everything always falls into place. It just takes time.

But no matter what, I know I'm ok. I know i'll be ok. I am not ashamed of the fact that I have mental illness. I am not ashamed of the things that caused it anymore. And I recognize that even though that shame is gone, that doesn't mean that I'm Totally Fine now. Not at all.

I have a lot of healing to do. And a lot of talking about my Truth to do. And you know what? I got through my early twenties, writing every single day in my Livejournal. Being honest. Laying it all out there. That was torn away from me by a man that controlled me for a long time, and his voice has been in the back of my head for years, telling me to not write about my truth. "Nobody cares what you have to say," he used to tell me. But you know what? I was scared of him. He was constantly ashamed of the fact that I was way smarter than he was, so he took away the one thing I was Really, Really good at. He didn't want me to use that outlet to tell people I needed help. I needed to escape. But I don't have to be scared of him anymore. And now, I can tell that story, with no shame. And many, many other stories, too. I can finally blossom fully into who I truly am- a wild woman who has been through some shit, but also some good stuff, too. I want to be a radical truth teller. I want to love myself as much as I love everyone around me. I want to share photos from road trips, but also painful stuff, too.

So, here we go.


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Live from my couch, where I'm wearing a dress and slippers:

I left the house today to go to a psychiatrist for the first time in many years. I've been consistent with talk therapy, but like many, I got tired of doing the med shuffle, so I quit doing it. My family doctor recommended it, so I said, sure. I didn't go in with high expectations, really. And then I realized I had seen this same doctor before.

I love that doctors have started to digitize most of their new patient questionnaires. Instead of trying to get myself to an appointment fifteen minutes early (a laughable proposition, really) , I was able to do it at home over the weekend, a little buzzed, tiny kitty in my lap, husband on the other side of the room, smoking a cigarette in the solarium.

"Are you depressed?" the quiz asked me.

"Not right now, but I mean, most of the other time, absolutely," I thought to myself.

I clicked the circles, the scales between 1 and 10, I thought about my last two weeks, and I clicked "submit".

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