Boston

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it’s been 10 months since we moved out here from my hometown, Chicago. Boston is now beginning to feel like the place I live, instead of a place I’ve moved to. if I were to use relationship terms, Boston & I are going steady but I’m not sure if I’m ready to take it to the next level – ha!

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don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty to love about life here. I love how it feels very European, from the seriously OLD buildings to the charming cobblestone streets to the random British-isms that have persisted. I’ve found a great local coffee shop that has that whole old-world vibe down pat, complete with a sidewalk organic flower vendor every Saturday morning (see above – the flowers are UNREAL). a quick list of other Boston things I love:

  • the ocean
  • the Boston Public Library system (and by extension, the Cambridge Public Library system)
  • the Charles River + all the bridges
  • great seafood
  • being close to my in-laws
  • being close to Maine (and a bunch of other places)

so why am I not ready to commit? I don’t know. maybe it’s because I haven’t really made friends of my own yet (a problem further compounded by the fact that I work the night shift). I also think it’s partly because we’re in a year of transition, with my husband still in the middle of his master’s program and looking for a teaching job for the upcoming school year. if there’s one thing that’s a constant in our life right now, it’s a feeling of impermanence. to even things out, here’s a list of things that I don’t love about Boston:

  • lack of daylight during the winter (really threw my depression for a loop)
  • traffic
  • aversion to straight routes to anywhere
  • Patriots anything (sorry, James!)
  • being far away from my family
  • the more reserved nature of the people (which baffles the Midwesterner that I am)

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I’m learning to live out the whole ‘bloom where you’re planted’ thing, so I’m hopeful and grateful for what we DO have right now. we’re together, starting our respective careers, making plans and making moves. I’m trying to live in the moment and savor this season of our lives even as we look towards the future. I know we’ll look back on this time and talk about how lucky we were to live a stone’s throw away from Fenway Park in the middle of it all and laughing about how parking sucked and reminiscing about the challenges of small-apartment living. it’s all about perspective.

wishing you all a good weekend!

 

wearing my heart on my sleeve

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the future is female | woman up (similar) | introvert!

…or chest, rather. I’ve been wearing statement sweatshirts nonstop the past month or so. not only are they insanely comfortable, they’ve also been a way to let a little of my personality & thoughts shine through.

they’ve been the sartorial edition of conversation starters. I’ve gotten so many compliments from and engaged in conversations with so many people I don’t know. in these challenging times, talking to each other more can only be a good thing.

what have you been loving to wear lately?

p.s. the ‘introvert!’ one just kills me! I call it my ‘quiet jazz hands’ sweatshirt (said with the aforementioned jazz hands) , which makes my husband laugh like crazy. I’m totally digging the subtle irony. how very introvert of me. ;)

p.p.s. these shirts are great, too, and incredibly relevant.

let’s talk | dealing with depression

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I’ve talked about having depression on the blog before, but awhile back and not in very much detail. that’s a conscious decision on my part, since I don’t want to put every thing about me and my life out there on the web, even if I am taking part in the blogging community. but I am talking about it today here on the blog, because it’s very much a part of my life right now, and if I can’t share it on the space I created to share my thoughts, what’s the point?

I got diagnosed with major depressive disorder about 2 years ago, but I’d been depressed on and off since I was around 11 years old. I come from a family and a culture where mental health isn’t really discussed or even acknowledged as a condition. my parents came from very hard backgrounds, and to them, there was nothing wrong with “being sad” – life is hard, after all. and so I dealt with the depression on my own and without professional help until James finally convinced me to go.

I still remember sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing my diagnosis. as the doctor began explaining all the hallmarks of major depressive disorder – fatigue, lost of interest, cyclic episodes, constant sleeping, low self-esteem – I kept nodding along, feeling like he had taken a snapshot of what I called my “bad days”. I began a medication regimen, and I noticed that my “bad days” were becoming few and far between. when I did have one, it was nowhere near as low as the ones previously. I would feel a little bit down as opposed to drowning in a toxic sea of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. things were getting better, and I felt so much more vibrant and engaged and in control of my mental life than I had in a long time. so when the opportunity came for James to go back to boston for what seemed like a great job and he came to me asking if I’d be ok if he took it, I said yes.

I hadn’t had an episode in over a year. we were doing well. we were happy. was happy. I wanted to show that I was truly better.

but I wasn’t. 3 days after James left, I had an episode. in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been surprising. I was working full-time while in nursing school, which was undeniably stressful, even if I was enjoying myself most of the time. I was also planning a wedding. with the additional stress of a long-distance relationship, I was done. the move wasn’t the sole cause, but it was, I think, what broke the dam.

and I’ve been treading water ever since. there are days when I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the water, being engulfed by a darkness and hopelessness so pervasive that it’s hard to stay awake, much less get out of bed in the morning. my mind feels hazy, as though I’m in a daze I can’t get out of. on better days, I make it through the day without crying, functioning & surviving, but never quite thriving. I think back to the other extended periods of depression in my life – 6 months during senior year of high school, 2 years in college – and I am paralyzed by the fear that this tunnel is nowhere close to ending. I know I have help now, and I know how to deal with some things better, and yet, I’m afraid.

I’m afraid because I know my illness makes people uncomfortable. I can see the discomfort in their eyes, and I just withdraw even more, which makes people think I’m cold or distant or weird. I see how it embarrasses my husband to have to explain to his family why I’m unresponsive or why things are not ok, and I withdraw that little bit more, choking on shame and guilt. I’ve always found it funny that people have mistaken my depression as coldness, because nothing could be farther from the truth. my mind isn’t cold – it’s frenetic, it’s chaotic, it’s unceasing, it’s on the verge of overheating. I’ve come to realize that my parents are not alone in their mistrust and ignorance of mental illness – the misunderstanding is pervasive, and it makes the journey that much more lonely & solitary. I sometimes wish I had something tangible to point to, so I could say to people, “here, here is the manifestation of my depression” and they would understand, they would believe. but I can’t.

so I write instead, finding the words on paper that I can’t find the voice to say out loud. I write sentences to make sense of this tangle of feelings I can’t untie and set right within my head. I write paragraphs to simultaneously explain and maintain the walls I’ve put up between me and judgmental questions. I write thoughts to give what I’m experiencing a corporal existence.

I write to give life to the atrophy I’m feeling. I write because it’s the only way I know how to live my way through the dark.

thank you for reading.

the new normal

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james left for boston on sunday and I’m adjusting to the new normal. it’s been easier than I thought it would be – being busy with school, work, & this blog really helps the hours/days fly by, so I’m thankful for the distraction. it’s only in the little, random moments that I find myself lonely: doing errands on the weekend, just before I fall asleep at night, when I wake in the morning to find the side next to me empty, and on the commute in to and from work. I walk around feeling as though something’s missing, and then I realize, oh, james is missing.

all things considered, we’re holding up as well as can be expected, so I’m grateful for that. I’m also immensely grateful for cellphones & skype & facetime & all the other ways we can communicate with far-away loved ones these days.

have you been in a long-distance relationship? any tips? :)

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force of nature

we had a hell of a commute today – 2 1/2 hrs. to go 50 miles – but I’m just glad we made it in to work safe & in one piece. there were plenty of accidents on the road ahead of us on our way in, and we took a scary little spin in the middle of the road, but we miraculously got to work without hitting or getting hit by anything. my boss wasn’t as lucky: his car did a 360 on the stevenson, hitting the concrete divider with both of his fenders. luckily, he wasn’t hurt and the car, though seriously damaged, was still safe to drive in, but he said that it sure was a wake-up call & that he had to pull over to take a few deep breaths before continuing on.

the weather wasn’t even anything too terrible – just cold with last night’s snow loose on the ground – but it was still a beast. today was a good reminder that nature is a force to be reckoned with & anytime you walk away with no or slight bruising is a victory to be thankful for.

stay safe & warm out there, wherever you are!