2017: Enough

IMG_0725

2017 is a garbage person. 2017 is a fucking bully and I’m glad it’s over. Before composing this final (and much delayed) blog entry of 2017, I was thinking about the good and bad things that occurred this year and honestly, I’m perplexed at how a year could have been so fucking good to me and so fucking bad at the same time. I wish I could say I was ending this year on a high note, but it seems like me, and others, are all just counting down the days until we can wash the bad taste of 2017 out of our mouths.

 

Before I get into the nonsense of the past few months, I want to recount the good things that have happened to me this year. I traveled to two different countries, Japan & Vietnam, by myself. I conquered the idea of traveling alone and not only did I conquer it, I fucking excelled at it. Traveling alone was always one of my biggest fears– the idea that I could not overcome my loneliness. But, I found that throughout traveling alone, I became more comfortable with the idea of myself and keeping myself as company. I think, for a long time, because I’ve dealt with a lack of self-worth and the fear of not being good enough that meant that I wasn’t even good enough for my own company. This idea is slowly changing and I am embracing my qualities. This will always be a work in progress for me as, honestly, I’m just too good at hating myself. But, even I can admit I’ve done serious work this year and I’ve progressed exponentially.

I also started CrossFit and finally ran the half-marathon I’ve wanted to run since I first came to Korea: the DMZ Cherowon Peace Marathon. This could have been a blog entry on its own, and probably should have been, because the feelings I felt after crossing the finish line will never be replicated.

IMG_0146

I crossed, cried my eyes out, and then immediately thought I was going to throw up. It was so much hotter than we expected it to be and it was so much harder for me than it should have been. In the last couple of weeks of my training, I hurt my feet and ankles and my training really suffered. The longest run I did while training was 15k, and that was in July. So, the last few kilometers of the race were fucking brutal.

IMG_0152

But, we finished. We drank beer. We felt proud.

In congress with the running of the half marathon and CrossFit, and I know I’ve talked about this before, but it was such a big part of my year, I started playing Gaelic football. At our end of the year dinner, I even won “Most Improved,” which is a huge fucking honor considering I had never played a group sport before March. There were times I wanted to quit and there were times I was furious with myself for making a mistake, but throughout the sport, I slowly learned how to take constructive criticism, and I honestly believe this experience helped me grow into a more confident and well-rounded person.

IMG_0452

I also got married this year, which is honestly still a huge shock sometimes. In fact, I referred to Robert as my boyfriend today in conversation. We got engaged on Jeju Island earlier this year inside of a volcano, which is pretty telling of the kind of relationship we have and the kind of person Robert is. In August, we went to Seoul and got married in the district office without much fanfare or panache– again, that’s the kind of people we are. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

IMG_6907

So, because I got married, I had the pleasure of having a bachelorette party (three weeks after I got married) and I was surrounded and loved on by some of the best women I have ever known. They put together games for me, organized the hotel, figured out dinner, and helped me get very, very intoxicated.

IMG_2750

I also had a few opportunities to travel around the country and do a few things I had never done before. We went to Seoul ComicCon, which was the first year it was ever hosted in Korea. We traveled to Namhae to experience Oktoberfest in Korea and had a few relaxing days camping on the beach during the 10 day long vacation, Chuseok.

IMG_0381

I spent St. Patrick’s Day on Gwangali and Haeundae beaches and got to experience Holi Hai the same weekend. I participated in the Busan production of the Vagina Monologues. I got to have one of the most difficult experiences of my acting life by performing in Henry Murray’s “Three Views of the Same Object.” I went to my first Samsung Lions game. I went to Jeju Island for the first time. I got to see the USA U-20 team play in Daejeon. I ALSO BECAME BTS TRASH AND I DON’T CARE I BET YOU THOUGHT I WOULDN’T MENTION THEM IN THIS ENTRY HA

IMG_1135

God, they’re so amazing. I fucking love them so much. You can take your hate on somewhere else, ya fucks.

Now that all of the fun and good is out of the way, it’s time to discuss the shittiest parts of the year, which honestly, was mostly from September until now. My problem is when one thing goes bad, everything else has a tendency to go poorly. I actually remember thinking once as I was walking home in August “Wow… things are so good right now. They’ll probably go to shit soon,” and go to shit they did, friends.

I have honestly never been so close to losing my fucking mind as I have been these past few months. After my half-marathon, without a real goal to accomplish, I sort of fell apart. I went right from training for my half to having a 10 day long vacation where all I did was drink for days straight. My drinking increased from one day every couple of weeks to four or five days a week and I slowly but surely began to undo all of the progress, mentally, emotionally and physically, that I had worked so hard to achieve. I kept a CrossFit gym membership, but I was so lackadaisical about going that it seemed really fucking stupid to keep paying for something I wasn’t using. I stopped running. All I wanted to do was go out and party, which is what I did.

A lot of aspects of my life suffered. I was having problems in my life in Korea and life at home wasn’t much easier. Last year, my aunt E, who is one of my best friends and essentially my second mother, was diagnosed with cancer in her mouth. The cancer progressed and the day I got the news, my mom also told me that my grandmother had an aneurysm in her abdomen that required surgery. On Monday, November 20th, I bought a plane ticket home and on November 22nd, I landed at the Bluegrass Airport. I’ve never had that kind of turnaround time with a flight and going home before, but I’m glad I made the decision to go home.

IMG_0854

I got to spend the first Thanksgiving at home with my family in four years. I got to spend time with my aunt and my grandmother, who spent the majority of the time I was at home in the ICU. I got to see my close friends of 15+ years and be loved on by them. I love my life in Daegu, don’t get me wrong, but the chance to be away from Korea and be at home with people who have known me my whole life, people who know my family, people who have been with me as we’ve grown up, was so necessary for my mental health at the time. It helped put a lot of things into perspective, and I felt the future of my life change while I contemplated the kind of steps to take to secure my happiness.

IMG_0863

The past few months have been fucking stupid hard. There have been days when getting out of bed was the best I could do, but I still had to go put on a face for my students, who have begun to express real dismay at my departure from my academy of 2.5 years. It breaks my heart. I’ve watched some of these students grow up since I started working there in 2015. They’re bright, wonderful, intelligent teenagers who are, honestly, going to change the world around them. It’s been a huge honor to be their teacher.

So, here it is– December 27th, 2017. A great deal of my life is still very much in the air. I’m confused, I’m scared, and I’m terrified of making the wrong decision somewhere along the way. I am unhappy. I have real issues with a lot of people in my life, and I don’t know how to fix any of them. But, I am pushing on and trying to find ways to solve the problems– both that I have created and problems that are out of my control. I am fucking distracted. I am nervous. I spend a majority of my time brooding and irritated. I don’t feel like I’ve been completely honest in this entry, which is something else I have a real problem with, but at this point, I can only give so much. I have started writing again, but I can’t share it with anyone. For a majority of the past few months, I have felt very alone.

I have gained 14 pounds or 6.7kgs. I just ate cookies. But, I am trying my best. I am trying to navigate my way through the last few days of this fucking difficult year while trying to weave the good moments in to sustain any chance of happiness I have. Sometimes, life really does fucking kick you when you are at your lowest. These past few months have absolutely been my lowest. But, I am trying my best. I am waking up every day. I am trying to reach out to people who I know care about me regardless of the mistakes I have made, and will probably continue to make. I am trying to find the light within myself to get back to the point where taking care of myself seems worth it– where I seem worth it. I am trying to get better. I am trying to figure out a way to love myself and love the life I’m living without focusing on every single facet that seems either too good or not good enough for me.

I am going to try to enter 2018 with the belief that I am worth all of the things that I want– that I am truly worthy of love, respect, and attention, that I am worthy of the opportunities that have come into my life. One of the major things I want to focus on is removing toxicity, and I mean this in regards to both the toxicity in myself and the toxic people in my life who only serve to take from me instead of enriching my existence in any way.

IMG_1124

I am going to go back to CrossFit. I am going to start taking care of myself again. I am going to start keeping my bullet journal again. I am going to start journeying back down the path to self love again, even if I have to take myself kicking and fucking screaming, which at this point is exactly what I’m going to have to do. I’m going to seek out counseling again and maybe medication, too, if that’s what it takes to get me back to a place where I don’t feel like everything in my life is hopeless or that everyone in my life is out to get me or abandon me.

Please remember that you’re not alone in your struggle. Please remember that people around you do care, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I am saying this because I, too, need to remember that there are people in my corner. Remember that your life is not about other people– your life is about you and your happiness. Do not compromise. Do not sell yourself short. Do not cower in the shadow of your own fucking greatness.

Be well, y’all, and Happy New Year.

IMG_0304

Advertisements

Depression: The True De-Motivator

IMG_3148

I am a diagnosed clinical depressive. I am not shy about this. I was diagnosed when I was in college by the therapist I was seeing through my university, who after a questionnaire, immediately referred me to the psychiatrist on campus for further evaluation. Depression is something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, and although I originally dismissed it as overwhelming teenage angst, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how detrimental depression has been in my life and in my relationships, not only with other people, but especially with myself. My depression often hits me after huge highs or events. For example, every year, after my birthday, I am depressed. When depression hits, it is hard for me to find motivation and it’s even harder for me to believe in myself. This week was one of those weeks.

It’s so easy to feel like a failure when you’re on a mission to be come healthier. There is this stigma that if you make a mistake or if you miss a workout, you have failed yourself or the people who will inevitably ask how your weight loss journey is going or how your training is shaping up. These people mean well, I’m sure, but there is a creeping guilt when you look someone in the face and express to them that you’ve had a rough, off week; there is the same guilt if you’re just trying to enjoy a beer and someone scrutinizes your fucking choices.

Often times, if you’re following people on Facebook or Instagram or whatever who are on the same journey as you, you only see their perfection; you are privy to their healthy meals, their intense workouts, and their feelings of euphoria as they continuously shed pounds. What we don’t often see, and this can be extended to many aspects of life viewed through social media, is the fucking struggle. You don’t see the tears as someone is defeated and has to stop half-way through a hard workout. You don’t see the “bad decisions” people made throughout the week when they chose a food that wasn’t necessarily the best choice. You don’t see the look on someone’s face as they step on the scale, after a week of hard work, only to be let down by a static number. But, there is a struggle, at least for me and that struggle is often exacerbated by depression.

On Tuesday of this week, I had a particularly frustrating run.I pushed this run from Monday to Tuesday because I just did not want to leave my house after work. But, Tuesday afternoon, I put my shit on and got outside. I felt slow, my energy was low, I had to stop to walk multiple times, and I didn’t run nearly as far as I wanted to, or planned. I got home afterward and just couldn’t figure out why it was so hard or felt so terrible. I’m sure the humidity played a part, but I just couldn’t find the fire in me that I had a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t want go to soccer, but I went anyway. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I normally do. From Tuesday on, I slid down and down and down.

My eating habits were shit. I ate at restaurants for lunch every single day this week. I barely drank my protein shakes. I didn’t exercise on Wednesday or Thursday. I worked more this week than normal. I spent too much money. I slept more than 9 hours almost every night. I picked fights with Rob to satisfy some need to understand and justify why I felt so fucking sad. Eventually, I just accepted that I was depressed. I felt my feelings. I walked through them. I examined them. I let them be.

Then, Friday happened. Friday was one of the best things that could have happened for me. I needed to get a long run in. My goal was 4.5 miles and since I ran 5 miles a couple of weeks ago, I figured it wouldn’t be as hard as I thought it would be. It was hard finding the motivation to do it because I was still struggling with feelings of sadness and inadequacy. But, I put my running clothes on and fucking did it. I upped my intervals from 10/1 to 15/1, so I was running 15 minutes and walking 1 minute. My goal was to do that three times and I would be around 4.5 miles. But, at the end of my third and final set, a runner’s high I haven’t felt in a long time kicked in. I hit my fucking stride. I felt good. I felt strong. So, I did another 15 minutes and at the end of that 15, I kept running for another 6. I ran 6.3 miles or 10.1km in 1:08. I felt like I was on top of the world. I stood outside of my apartment and cried because I was so fucking proud of myself, which is a fleeting feeling– I rarely feel proud of anything I do. But, I felt proud on Friday night. I pushed myself. I found my strength and kept fucking going, even when I didn’t want to keep going and I succeeded.

IMG_3177

So, this week has been a week of learning and feelings for me.

This week, two of my good friends left Korea. This is the shittiest part of expatriate life; the friends you make, while they are lifelong friendships, will eventually move on to the next place, whether that be another city, another country, or back home. It’s been rough, but it’s important to remember that I, too, will be leaving this country soon to start my next adventures. I guess I just wasn’t prepared for how much it was going to hurt to say goodbye.

I learned that your sweat can actually smell like ammonia! Basically, from what I understand, if your body does not have enough carbohydrates to keep up with the energy demands, your body will turn to other energy sources, including protein. Your organs can’t handle the excess ammonia, so it pushes it out via sweat glands. SCIENCE!

I also learned that it’s really cool to have a friend who is an Occupational Therapist who can teach you how to tape your foot to relieve plantar fasciitis pain. It’s actually just really cool to have friends from all walks of life who can offer support and advice on numerous, troubling topics. I am very thankful.

IMG_3163

But, here’s the most important thing I’ve learned this week: even if my progress is slow, it is still progress. I am still moving forward, even if there are are setbacks, even if I am depressed, even if I eat cake (which I am doing as I write this). The picture on the right was taken on Christmas Eve, 2015. The picture on the left was taken a little over 8 months later on Friday, August 26. Since December, I have made HUGE strides, not only in my physical fitness but in my emotional well-being as well. It is important to remember that. Most days, my progress feels so small and subtle. But, it is STILL there. My goals sometimes feel far away, but I have lost 27.5 pounds, or 12.5kgs. In December, I couldn’t run for 5 minutes and I ran 6 miles on Friday night. Progress cannot be judged only by side-by-side portraits. I feel better. I AM better. I make better choices. I can do this. My only real enemy is me.

So, for the rest of the night, I am going to watch Sherlock with my partner, who is amazing, and finish eating this piece of carrot cake. Because I can.

IMG_3175.JPG

Tomorrow, it’s back on the grind. Run. Eat well. Be kind. Some days, I don’t feel like the same person anymore and that’s okay. It’s okay to change and to grow and to slough off the layers of bullshit that have accumulated on our skin for years. I have no desire to return who who I used to be and I think, after many years, I have finally found the right exfoliant.

Keep sloughin’, y’all.