First Impressions…

It’s a little different in person than online. Sometimes when you meet a person, you just feel off, and sometimes it’s a really good idea to listen to that feeling. Sometimes you feel like you’ve known them for lifetimes, and it’s good to listen to that too.

Online, however, first impressions can be completely off base. Just because the first time you interact with someone, you’re on opposite sides of a debate, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have things in common. It doesn’t mean you can’t become dear friends. Sometimes the first time you interact with someone is on a friend’s post and you agree with everything they say… but when you talk one on one, you realize that maybe that one thing was all you had in common.

I know most people know this, but I want to bring it up because I want to remind you to give people a chance when your first thought is, “Omg, what is wrong with this asshole?” Leave your mind open enough to be surprised by the kindness or empathy or complete and total dedication to the same fandoms … We are all multi-faceted.

I am not saying to let people disrespect you, or to ignore insults and attacks… I am just saying that a disagreement can forge a friendship if you let it.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Self Care

“Self care” and “functioning” seem to be interchangeable to some people, at least based on memes I see reposted/reblogged. I don’t think they truly understand what self care is. Maybe I am the one that is understanding things wrong. That’s possible and it would be okay but it would take a lot to change my mind.

When people are having trouble with depression or severe anxiety, to me, self care is more about self soothing than anything else. It’s about trying to make life feel livable through those moments. I recommend pleasing each of your senses. I do recommend bubble baths and incense, scented candles, chocolate, your favorite movie or book and a soft blanket. I recommend finding the things that make it feel worth moving forward. I recommend snuggling and sex. I recommend french fries and heavy metal.

I keep seeing posts on social media that say “self care isn’t the cute…” but then go on to list things like showering, washing dishes, paying your bills. If I am capable of doing these things, that means it’s a good day and I am functioning. Some days I can take a shower and I can put my dishes in the dishwasher. If I can’t do those things, then those are the times I actually NEED self care.

Sometimes I’ve already done the showering and it feels like too much. Afterward, I’m sitting here not really able to do anything and I need my soft blanket and a cup of tea. Am I the only one that feels that these are two separate things? That feels that self care is about taking care of your emotions so that you’re able to function later? Or that functioning can lead to needing self care?

I realize this is a somewhat rambling post but I have only slept an hour and quite honestly, putting my thoughts out there for others is a form of self care to me. Later today I have a doctor’s appointment and thus have to “function.” If we’re going by my descriptions which do you feel you can handle right now?

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

5 Things to Stop on Social Media

(aka “a few ways to get less people to unfollow you”)

There are obviously more than five, but earlier today a bunch of women made me remember that I am awesome and that I matter, so I wanted to pass on some wisdom that I feel matters.

1. Guilt trip “cut and paste, don’t share” posts. Yes, I really am one of your REAL friends, I do love my mother and I support those who have fought and are fighting cancer. No, me cut and pasting a status doesn’t prove any of these things. I don’t know about you, but I get annoyed at people that insinuate that I don’t care because I don’t follow the herd.

2. Answering security questions inside of innocuous surveys. Often questions like “What was your first car? The name of your first pet? Your first school? Where were you born?” come up in “cute, fun, ‘I was bored’ surveys. Not all at once, but if someone wanted your information, chances are you’re posting it without thinking about where it can be used… like to access a bank account, hack your email or other accounts by “forgetting your password.”

3. Using the word “trigger” casually. A trigger is something that severely affects someone’s emotions. They may have a severe panic attack, a painful one that makes them feel as if they’re having a heart attack. They may fly into a dissociative rage where they lash out and remember nothing. They may have flashbacks of assault, or times when they’ve self harmed. A trigger is NOT a concept that offends you, or irritates you. Using it that way is an insult to those of us who have actual severe reactions because of our past or mental health. It’s not cute. It’s not funny.

4. Reposting fake hack warnings. It’s really easy to check if a “new hack” is real or simply a chain letter that’s been going around for years. Snopes is an easy place to check whether or not a hack/threat/change in your privacy policy is real. If you google a couple lines from it, you can find out from other sites as well. Most of these have been going on since people emailed them around through AOL. They’re annoying and there’s no reason in today’s world to generate any more fear.

5. Comparing your life to what you see around you. You’re seeing what people want you to see. This isn’t their whole life. It rarely includes all of their struggles, it often highlights small things to make them seem important, and there’s often unintentional misrepresentation. I’m sure your friend Suzy looks like she has it all with her smiling children and her handsome husband. I can’t think of a friend named Suzy, so we’re going with that.. What you don’t see is that Suzy’s just fed up with trying to get ready for work while getting the kids ready for school and her husband is exhausted from the night shift and can’t help. They haven’t made love in a year and Suzy is considering filing for divorce because drifting apart has become arguing daily and she hates her life. She envies that you can go out with the girls and have a drink with dinner without feeling judged.

Honestly, there are many things to give up and many reasons why, but a couple of these were weighing on my mind today. I am a member of a facebook group and I posted that I felt like I didn’t belong. Those women I mentioned in the beginning reassured me in ten ways that I do belong, and I matter. I just wanted to share the feeling that someone gives a damn about how you feel and the ones around you feel. Since social media is often how we relate to each other, I thought this may be a way to share that feeling. Know your loved, show others they are as well.  Also, please add your own “Things to stop on social media” in the comments!

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

When Life Hands You Lemons…

I always hated this because sometimes there just aren’t any other ingredients for your lemonade. Sometimes it’s just lemons. There’s no sugar or water. I don’t believe that every cloud has a silver lining. I don’t believe that it’s always possible to turn a situation around and make it positive.

This isn’t pessimism. This is life with mental illness and chronic pain. I may be stronger in some situations because of what I’ve had to endure, but what I endure makes me weaker as well. I can empathize with people who have panic attacks and crying fits. I can offer them ideas on how to cope with them. This may make some people think “See, you can help people with it!” While they’re not wrong, I also still have panic attacks and crying fits that I can’t cope with much more than existing through them.

I can give people metaphors as to what mental illness is like but that doesn’t actually make my mental illness any better. It’s not a silver lining, it’s simply a more positive side effect than the inability to sleep on any sort of normal schedule or the soreness in my neck and shoulders from the anxiety. People say things about those of us with mental health issues being more creative, and while some of us are – during our depressions, our creativity might be completely stifled leaving us only with frustration. In these times, it is not a silver lining, it is another cloud.

Something many people know (but often fail to consider long term) is that both mental and physical illness can leave you completely drained. You could be passed out for hours or stuck like glue to the couch trying to find the energy to even look for the remote to the TV. There’s no upside to this. We’re not “lucky” we don’t have to work, we’re not working because we’re unable to function on that level.

I hear people say it all the time. “You’re so lucky, I wish I didn’t have to work.” It’s a hard thing to hear as someone that has not been able to work in a dozen years. The first month or so is filled with some sense of relief as you’re finally tending to yourself. By six months in, I wanted to be able to work again. I wanted to be able to have some sense of accomplishment, to be “productive” by society’s standards and my own. In year twelve, I cry sometimes because I’m afraid I will never be “productive” by these standards. I am viewed as lazy. I am viewed by some that are physically disabled as less deserving of help because my main issue is mental health.

I have mentioned my high brain pressure a few times. This is a physical problem, one that I am working on fixing. Having daily headaches that may or may not disappear when I pass out and wake next is exhausting and frustrating. Not knowing when things will get worse or if I will have enough help by then is frightening. When I was first diagnosed, I joined a facebook group with others that had the same problem. After a while posting and reading in there, I saw a post saying that it wasn’t fair how people who “only have depression” could get disability but they were having trouble with theirs.

I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw things. I was absolutely livid. I was denied my disability at first. It took two years to get my appeal. I couldn’t work for those two years, I had no income. I could not provide for myself and yet this person was judging my disability to be less than hers. I left a ranting response and left the group. You can’t quantify pain in this way. It’s not fair to decide that your pain is more deserving of help than another person’s because you can’t feel their pain.

This isn’t a competition. My problems are no less valid than yours whether we’re discussing my brain pressure or my mental health. Your problems are no less valid than mine, whether they are physical, mental, or situational (like your boss is a complete dick). Pain and frustration vary from person to person and it is valid. This holds whether you’ve experienced the same issues or not.

None of us react the same to pain nor to mental illness nor even simply stressful situations, like arguing with a significant other. I won’t judge you for your reactions, coping skills, life choices or what you do with your lemons. I am holding onto my lemons so I can squirt people in the eye that judge me for my way of life. Feel free to finish the title your own way in the comments.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Honesty versus Insult

 

Mainly it all comes down to intention.

I refer to myself as brutally honest, and I have a couple of friends that are the same way. If I ask for their opinion or their help, they will tell me the truth. It may be something I don’t want to hear. It may be the same advice they’ve given me before and an admonishment for refusing to listen. If they ask me for my opinion, I give it. Sometimes it may seem rude or insulting, but if all we hear is what we want to, we don’t grow.

Honesty isn’t about trying to hurt someone. It’s not about some sort of emotional sadism. There are people who intentionally antagonize others trying to elicit hate or hurt but mainly confrontation. This is not what brutal honesty is about, even if they start with a truthful statement. Brutal honesty is about helping someone move forward. Whether it’s about their appearance, their love life, their heath (physical or mental), it’s about giving an objective response.

Judging others is never the intention of my type of honesty. I have been judged plenty in my life. I’ve been judged for my mental illness issues, which include depression and anxiety. My appearance, my behavior and whether or not they’re appropriate for a specific place or time of day. Yes, mommy, I know my lipstick is too dark for the daytime… She has long since accepted my choices as far as that’s concerned. I’m not always “socially acceptable” and I’m okay with that. My appearance isn’t aesthetically pleasing to all people, and it doesn’t have to be. I don’t live my life for others. You shouldn’t either.

If, however, I ask someone how I look, I want them to tell me whether or not they like it. I prefer hearing things like “It’s not my style, but if that’s what you want to wear, go for it” rather than just, “You look fine.” Maybe I do just go for it, maybe I take a second look in the mirror. Either way, it’s an opinion I asked for, so lashing out rarely happens even if I feel offended.

There is, of course, the negative side of honesty. Sometimes it’s unintentional. One day someone said to me,”Wow you really do have more grey hair than me!” Now, I’ve always been self conscious about my grey hair, I started finding them at age 12. I felt so hurt that my immediate reaction was “Did you gain weight?” I lashed out intending to be hurtful because I wanted her to feel how I felt. Now, she didn’t mean to hurt me and I wasn’t being honest when I responded. When I feel insulted, I tend to react harshly. It’s something I’m working on. It’s something that given the volatile nature of the internet, we should probably all work on.

After my first post, someone commented negatively about my hair on my Facebook page. I got angry for a short while. My friends did as well. Many of them lashed back out at the person, as did I. I’ve since found a lot of humor in the entire ordeal. I love the way my hair looks in that picture. It doesn’t matter who else agrees. I am amused (and a little embarrassed) that I reacted so poorly. I’ve spent more time laughing at someone believing I wanted an opinion on my looks than I spent angry.

I’ve said never ask a question if you don’t want the answer. If you, like me, make random objective observations, be careful when and how you share them. They are not always welcome. Losing friends, hurting family members is not fun and coming back from it can feel impossible. So please, whether it’s a conversation with your sister or a comment to a stranger on social media, be careful because what you say may matter. Whether they’re over it in ten minutes or it stabs like a knife for years, words can hurt.

If I say something that feels insulting, please tell me. I know I come off as harsh and that’s why I call my honesty “brutal” but I do not try to be hurtful. Freedom of speech means you don’t get arrested for being an antagonistic asshole, but it does not mean I will allow you to direct it at me or anyone else I care about.

Be kind to each other, be honest when you can. Thank you for being here with me. I know it’s a choice to spend your time reading my thoughts and opinions and I appreciate your decision to do so.

Much love,

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~