I graduated from college a few weeks ago. BAM. That’s it. I’m done with school (for now). #TG

I’ve been ready to leave Seattle U for about a year or so. I gained a lot from my time there, but toward the end, I felt socially smothered and ready to move on. I originally planned on moving to California in August. I was going to pack my bags and do a year of service in NorCal. I had just come to the decision mentally when something in me switched. I went from craving a drastic change of pace to craving familiarity, my childhood, something known.

So I put my plans for departure on pause. I decided that I was going to stay. But I knew I didn’t want to stay in the same apartment or neighborhood, fearing it would feel like I never left SU after all. After a month or so, I decided I wanted to move home, which is really only 25 minutes out of the city, but really feels like a night and day difference.

My mom sold my childhood home over a year ago, so moving home started to mean moving back to my hometown, but out on my own. What college friends wanted to move to the suburbs instead of the city? What twenty-something wants to leave the urban life for a quiet, family-oriented lifestyle? Trick question: none. Well… except me.

I feel like college took so much out of me emotionally and intellectually that there’s nothing that sounded better than moving back to the familiar, to the community that reminded me what life was like before university, to my roots.

So after doing some research, I signed a lease to move into a new apartment. When it was first being built a few years back, my family complained about it constantly. “Everything is becoming so developed.” “It won’t fit with our small town feel.” “It’s not going to blend in whatsoever.”

I don’t disagree, yet here I am. Giving my money to the corporate overlord consuming my cute hometown.

The truth is it’s a lovely place, especially compared to my old apartment in the city. Seattle landlords can get away with charging exorbitant prices for rundown, poorly maintained buildings. My last place pales in comparison to my new home base. AND now I have a dog to consider. That’s right – if you haven’t seen the endless photos on my Instagram already, I got a puppy (see endearing photo above)! His name is Ziggy and he’s wonderful and rowdy and adorable. I knew with this addition to my family, I would need enough room for both him and I. My new place is pretty small, but it fits us both comfortably.

So here I am, settling into my place with Ziggy, spending my days job hunting, and trying to find the familiarity of my childhood.

Although many things are still the same four years later, I can feel a distinct difference. My family was right  – development changes a place. It’s often inevitable, but it can take the charm out of a hometown and turn it into something else entirely.

Perhaps it’s not just the environment I’m in that’s changed. Perhaps it’s me. I’m looking for the known and comfortable, but it’s living in my skin that feels unfamiliar. The truth is I’ve changed a lot these past four years. I look at things so differently. I ask new questions about life and my relationships. My goals and dreams don’t look the same that they once did.

Perhaps I’m wasting my time searching for the past. My roots aren’t interwoven in the trees around me. The past is gone. Any death is worthy of mourning. And although I’ve come home, I think it’s time to redefine what home means for me.

What does it feel like for you when you go home? Does it feel like a breath of fresh air, or stale familiarity? Does it feel like home at all? Let me know in the comments below.

– A

I’ve been verrrrrrry single (i.e. in total isolation) for seven months now, and I’m starting to get an itching (i.e. lonely) to get back out there and date again.

The end of my last relationship left me absolutely d-e-s-t-r-o-y-e-d. A total mess. It was by far my deepest heartbreak, and surprisingly, not because I was absolutely 100% head over heels for my partner of the time. In fact, despite the love I did feel for him, there were a lot of things about our relationship I wasn’t sustainably happy with. By the time we called it quits, there was a mixture of both sadness and relief.

That relationship was never set up for success. We had a lot of weird social ties and past experiences that made the foundation of what we shared rather weak. Although we had met before through mutual friends, we actually reconnected on Tinder. We had this weird hybrid experience of meeting both on and offline, and its made me reevaluate how I’m choosing to move forward with my love life in the digital era.

Now that I’ve had the necessary time away to really begin healing the wounds of that loss, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back out there. With all the lessons I’ve learned this past year, a lot of questions about today’s dating scene are popping up for me.

What does romance feel like now that I’ve grown into a new womxn and a new potential partner? What connection am I really longing for? And as I look back at the beginning of my last relationship and realize the huge red flags that made themselves present to me at the time, how can I trust myself with starting something new after I let so many things slide?

Speaking of sliding and swiping and general gestures from left to right, what about online dating? Are the chances of finding a good partner on Tinder or Bumble really worth all the work of swiping and small talking?

My two biggest concerns with dating during the technological renaissance are: finding authentic connection, and learning how to sustain it. In an age where everything is right at our fingertips, where communication opens up across thousands of miles with the push of a button, where “likes” and “comments” and “tweets” dictate a lot of how we receive news, social updates, or information about our friend’s or crushes’ lives, how is it possible to live in love in the moment? Is it possible to be fully present to those we’re dating?

We spend our time hunkered over our phones and computers, scrolling through photos and videos for hours at a time. How often do those mindless hours actually present something fruitful?

And where I live, there’s an additional barrier to hop over.

 I live in Seattle, and let me tell you – the “Seattle freeze” is reaaaaal. People are pretty independent and driven and dead-set on getting from point A to point B with little to no human interaction. I’d say passive aggressiveness is pretty common in the Emerald City, and although many people are polite, not many are truly friendly.

So how’s a girl supposed to just bump into a potential date in this city?! Answer: Bumping into a friendly candidate is pretty unlikely, so swiping right in bed at 11 pm is probably my second best option. But is online dating really every antisocial Seattleite’s dream?

It is a rarity that I actually vibe well with someone via an app, and when I do, it’s typically because I already know the person or have some small connection to them. We have mutual friends, or we’ve met once or twice, or we have taken a class together. So all the app is really doing (at least in my experience) is connecting me with people I already know but perhaps didn’t know were interested in me.

In addition, internet dating opens up a whole other can of worms: hook-up culture. And I could write a whole lot on this topic, but I’m sure a lot of us know the general gist. A lot of people on dating apps are looking to toot it and boot it. With all the energy I have to put into making small talk with someone on Tinder, trying to decipher if we click, the last thing I want to deal with is some person who’s just trying to get in my pants.

I mean, more power to those who are sexually liberated and find joy in those ways. As long as it’s consensual, I 100% support it. Sex is an important part of life. But for me, unless I have some emotional and intellectual bond with someone, sex is relatively fruitless. And meaningless intimacy just ain’t me right now.

So with all the conundrums that dating in the technological renaissance poses, are there any real solutions? Clearly it’s working for some people. I have quite a few friends in really happy and healthy relationships. But I’m over here, trying to get back out there, and I feel absolutely clueless with where to start!

The effect of apps doesn’t only impact how relationships start, but it also dictates how a lot of them end. At the end of my last relationship, I had to block, unfriend, and unfollow my ex in order to get a clean break. For some odd reason, admitting that feels so catty, but the truth is being this connected to the toxic people in our lives is not a good thing. Authentic space is necessary for moving on.

So how can we create and sustain genuine connection when our attention spans are so scattered? How can we find authenticity in an online world? I have yet to figure this out, and indeed there are many wonderful things about being so interconnected. But sometimes I wish I could just put an ad out there. A good old-fashioned print poster around town. None of this Tinder bio bullshit.

WANTED: cute human cuddle buddy to tell all my secrets to. Must be kind. Must not get annoyed when I communicate by singing my feelings at fairly inappropriate times. Must enjoy knitted gifts (blankets, hats, scarves, shawls, headbands). Must like guinea pigs and dogs and kittens and turtles (and all other animals, really). Apply by sending me the funniest gif you got!

Any takers?

– A

Hey, howdy, how’s it going! Nice to virtually connect with you all again via this little blog of mine.

The last time I wrote on here was to tell those who were frequent readers why I had been absent from my writing for so long. After I hit “publish”, I received wonderful feedback, comments, and love from people who read what I was going through. To this day, I am so grateful for that support. Sincerely, thank you all who reached out to show me some TLC. The community I have found online through my blog & YouTube has been outstanding.

But as it turns out, that blog post sharing some of my darkest experiences marked only the beginning of my struggle. I haven’t written since then for a number of reasons. For the most part, my hiatus has been due to the fact that I’m finishing up my final year of college, and I’m incredibly overwhelmed with the prospect of shedding my identity as a student for the very first time in my (remembered) life. Like, seriously though – I’m FREAKING out.

Secondly, even though I’ve been absent from the interwebs, I’ve still been writing a LOT! I’ve been taking a few different writing classes, and most of my creative energy has gone into working on my memoir and discovering the fact that I absolutely adore slam poetry! Who knew?! So I have been flexing my language muscles and putting the fingers to the keys, so to speak, I just haven’t shared it with anyone outside of my academic community.

Lastly, depression and anxiety are both still very present in my life. Some things have gotten a lot better, for which I am so thankful, and some things have shown up in new ways and posed new problems for me. I am still learning a whole lot about my mental health, my spirituality, and my community. I’ve been seeing a therapist for 6 months now, and let me tell you – unpacking all my childhood baggage has really been sucking up my energy!

So yeah – that’s a little bit about what I’ve been up to! (…Also for the sake of transparency: I watched every single season AND the revival of Gilmore Girls in one month while knitting an entire blanket…so…. lots of couch time)

I wanted to write a little update on here now that I’m on my spring break and have a little breathing room. Not that anyone has been waiting with bated breath for my next piece, but I do think it’s a little unfair to write a lengthy piece about how depressed I’ve been and then give absolutely zero follow-up.

So hey! I’m alive. I’m doing better. Life is going pretty well, and I’m doing a lot of self-care and self-discovery right now so that’s cause for a celebration.

The main update I wanted to provide in this little “part two” to my mental illness story is that I am indeed on medication right now as part of my therapy program. In my last piece, I mentioned that I started something and then got immediately off it last summer. I was terrified about starting medication at the time, and I decided to continue putting it off with the hopes I could overcome my depression without it. I feared it would change my personality or that I would become dependent or it would make my depression even worse.

As it turns out, I really do need it at this point in my life, and it has not done any of those things I feared. There are side effects, of course, but it’s been a good choice for me in the long-run and I’m very happy that I gave myself the chance to try it. I’m on 100mg Zoloft and it’s been an integral part of my healing process thus far. I’m actually still adjusting my dosage, so the process continues!

Taking medication and seeing a therapist weekly have worked in tandem with one another to help me examine my childhood trauma, my harmful habits, my patterns of thinking and behavior that further my depression and anxiety.

Now, therapy isn’t for everyone. Medication isn’t for everyone. Some people benefit more from intensive meditation, group therapy, or other forms of support. But I have found that this two-pronged approach to my therapy has been the most successful for me and those in my life who share similar experiences.

What I’m really longing to say is that I didn’t begin healing until I began letting go of my shame surrounding medication, therapy, and asking for help. I didn’t begin taking steps forward until I let go of the life I thought I was supposed to have, and gave into the one that was unfolding within me. I didn’t start to overcome some of my mental illness until I started asking myself:

“Now what’s your part in this?

How are you playing a role in your pain?

How are you playing a role in the pain of other people?”

Asking myself these questions has been hard; finding and accepting the answers has been even harder. It has resulted in me ending a relationship, stepping back from certain friendships, and learning a whole lot about my limits and boundaries. It’s also caused me to get real fucking honest with myself about the harm that I’ve caused, the mistakes that I’ve made, and the shitty habits I’ve built to “protect” myself.

It’s actually really really sucked, but this sucky feeling has also partnered with a feeling of authenticity, too. I know that I’m doing the right thing. I know that I’m learning and growing in directions that are authentic for me. It’s not easy to be asking myself to stretch beyond the limits I’ve set for myself, but it’s also the most at peace I’ve been with myself and my decisions in a long time.

If you are struggling with your mental health right now, I hope this blog post achieves one thing (at the very least): I hope it reminds you that you are not alone in this. If you can let that sink in, even for a moment, I believe it can be a turning point in which you begin asking for and seeking the help that you need. The only reason I am doing a lot better is because of the community beside and within me. The only reason I am doing a lot better is because I let go of the fear of asking for help from that community. If you need it, I hope you will ask, too.

Be well,

A

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I don’t even know how to start this blog post. It’s been so long, and my blogging muscles have lost their strength. The words used to flow through me at an unbearably fast rate, that I had no other choice but to type it out. To express myself. To share with the world my own inner monologues.

But the past 6 months have turned out to be quite the opposite. I’ve turned inward due to my own internal battles, and I’ve lost the drive to move through my pain with writing. Perhaps that’s part of the reason this healing process has been so damn difficult. I’m my own worst enemy.

I don’t want to go into too many details, partly because I don’t even know where to start. The important notion I want to get across is that I indeed struggle with intense anxiety and depression, and I’m writing so candidly about this right now because I think this is an important story to tell.

Throughout college I’ve had difficult months and moments, but never with as much force as I’ve experienced this summer. For weeks I was spending every moment with either my partner or my family, far too scared to be alone. It was difficult for me to be around friends because I was far too ashamed to be as honest with my pain as I needed to be. I had this desperate need to isolate myself from my community, yet every time I did, it worsened my anxiety attacks and depressive episodes.

I was sucking the life out of important relationships in my life because of how incredibly needy and lost I had become. It felt like every morning when I’d wake up and step out of my bed, my legs would go weak and I’d have to require someone else to hold my body and head up all day just to get through. My dependence for others was entirely unsustainable and insufficient because even in a room full of people I loved and who loved me in return, I had this heavy depression that pulled me down with what felt like the weight of the world. I constantly avoided eye contact with strangers, feeling entirely incapable of making any form of small talk.

The anxiety attacks occurred multiple times a day. I would vomit nearly every time, and was barely able to keep any food down. I lost 15 pounds. It took so much energy out of me to even get up and shower. I stopped showing up to work. I became a shadow of the person I thought I was.

I was in constant contact with my doctor, unsure of whether or not to go on medication or to check myself into an out patient mental health program. We were at a loss for what to do. It came to a head one day when I decided that I could not live like this any longer. I made an emergency appointment with my doctor, and she prescribed me anti-depression medication. It took a lot for me to get to that point. For so long, I was deathly afraid of taking medication. I didn’t want to become dependent. I didn’t want it to change my personality. I convinced myself every morning that I could get through this without it.

I took the medication immediately and felt a wave of relief wash over me. Then the terror kicked in. For people under the age of 25, there’s a higher chance anti-depression medication will actually worsen symptoms. Sometimes people even become suicidal and far more depressed than when they had been medication-free. I was terrified to start this process, but I didn’t know where else to turn.

That first night on medication I barely slept. My thoughts turned far darker than before, and I was restless and uncomfortable for hours. At around 4 am, I heard this voice in my head. It was my own. Do not take this medication. This is not right for you. There’s another way.

The next morning I woke up next to my mother, just like I had for weeks, and told her I couldn’t go through with it. I couldn’t continue with the anti-depression medication because I just had this gut feeling it was not the right fit for me. She trusted my instinct, and I called my doctor.

Now don’t get me wrong… Medication can save lives, and it is the best option for so many people in this world. I do not shame anyone who uses anti-depressants by any means. I just knew that it was not the right path for me.

From then on, I decided to just take it step by step. Moment by moment. Day by day. I started meditating again. Praying. Attending Kundalini yoga & deep gong meditation classes. I reached out to a practitioner, started reading spiritual texts, and did everything I could to stay in the moment.

It’s been some time since then, and I am happy to say that I can be alone once again. I’m alone right now, sitting in my new apartment as I write this blog post. I still feel uneasy, and the anxiety comes and goes. I get in my head and worry if I’ll ever feel happiness again. I feel aches and pains in my body and immediately jump to the conclusion that I have some health crisis looming over me. I’m still struggling.

 But I feel more at peace than I did a month ago. I feel like I have tools and resources to reach out to. I feel like I can get past this. I also have this deep sense that what I’m learning right now in my life is leading me exactly where I’m meant to go. I’m doing all I can to tap into that Trust every day.

For anyone reading this who can share in my experience, please know this: You are not alone. You have survived 100% of your worst days, and you will survive today. Keep moving forward… No matter how small the steps may seem. 

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Hello again! It’s been some time, hasn’t it? Over three months since I’ve written on my blog. Hi. Hey. Do you remember me? I’m back.

I don’t have a single reason why I’ve been absent from my online life. It’s not just my blog that has been bare, but my YouTube content has been next to nothing as well. Truth be told: I’m just really, really busy. I’m in my junior year of college, and if I thought life couldn’t get any crazier last year… Well, this year has given me a run for my money. I also haven’t been making time for blogging the way I used to. I tend to write and create when I’m heavily contemplating something or someone, and lately I’ve just been so busy experiencing and living that I haven’t actually taken the time to reflect much at all.

I think that’s problematic. I don’t want to only make the time to stop and think when I’m forced to. I want to make it a habit regardless of where I’m at in life. But ’tis life. I’m imperfect. Oh well.

I guess let’s take this time to catch up then? And by catch up I mean let me type out my feelings and thoughts while you read them from the other side of a computer screen. I honestly wish I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with each and every one of you. I really do.

Instead of talking about all the shit that’s been keeping me from you all, I’d like to share some things I’m looking forward to:

THIS SUMMER. I seriously am craving some time off from school. I’m losing momentum and focus and passion.

HOPEFULLY GETTING AN INTERNSHIP FOR THE SUMMER. That’s still the works, but I’m hopeful.

HAVING TIME TO WRITE AND FILM AGAIN. I miss you all. A lot.

TAKING SOME VACATIONS. I’m going to Las Vegas, Pemberton Music Festival, Denver, and now Cape Town & Zimbabwe! Yes… That’s right! I won an all expenses paid trip to Africa just YESTERDAY during a raffle. My mind is still blown.

READING AND SLEEPING. Because I barely do either of those things anymore.

SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE I LOVE. Because I always am in need of a little TLC.

Let me know what YOU’RE looking forward to! Tweet me, message me, email me, slide into my DMs. What’s something exciting that’s around the bend? Even if life seems a bit drab right now, I promise you there’s always something on the horizon that’ll shake things up. There always is. 😉