Of Stepping Out on the Ledge & Not Jumping

Y’all were probably expecting the second half of the BSB Drinking Game, right? Well, I decided for my first post in god knows how long, I’d take this blog back to her roots. Mental health & sharing my struggles with it.

Last August, I started at Emory University’s Medical Imaging program (learn how to take x-rays, MRI, CT, etc.) Over the summer, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right about the situation. It wasn’t just nerves or worrying about being at a fancyass Southern Ivy League school. It was something more. I chalked it up to Imposter Syndrome & started the semester. For scale – I wanted to be a doctor since I was maybe 10 or 11. Those plans got derailed in college. I went back to school in 2016 to go to pharmacy school. That plan failed because I couldn’t pass calculus. I’d already eliminated being a nurse because of my CNA training. So Medical Imaging seemed like a good healthcare option for me. This should have been right for me. This should have been my place in the healthcare bubble.

I was miserable almost from Day 1. I lost weight, I wasn’t sleeping, the classes were mind numbingly boring, I didn’t like the teachers, & didn’t get along with 2 of my classmates out of a class of 15. I stuck it out thinking that once I got to the last 2 weeks of the semester where we’d have full on clinical experience, it would get better.

My mental health has never declined so quickly in 24 hours in my life. EVER. That includes after Daddums died. I had a breakthrough seizure 3 days into the first week & that’s when I knew it was time to pull the plug. I had suicidal thoughts on & off all semester, but kept them to myself. When I told Mark that I had to quit the program, I told him the truth. I told him the only reason I didn’t do something stupid was because I didn’t want him or Mommums or my sisters to spend the rest of their lives asking why. Could they have done something? Could they have said something? Could they have stopped me? I wasn’t going to put that burden on them, so I lived. Until I couldn’t live like that anymore. I walked away & never looked back.

Immediately people told me how much happier I looked. I could wear nail polish again. I dyed my hair purple. I already knew that I couldn’t fit into someone else’s mold for long. Having to wear black scrubs with a long sleeve shirt underneath to cover my tattoos, no nail polish, & brown hair suffocated me. I got yelled at for wearing fun socks for chrissakes. I was suffocating. I was dying. I may have lost 10 lbs, but it was in all the wrong ways. They stole my identity & for what? A foolish idea that tattoos & purple hair mean I’m incapable of doing my job? That’s not who I am & not how I choose to live. I’m not one to spread sunshine & rainbows, but I do believe that happiness is found by embracing who you are. If that is brown hair, no tattoos, & black scrubs don’t let me stop you. Don’t let someone else dictate who you are or what you should be. It’ll kill you. Trust me, I know.

Another hurdle I had to jump recently was for this past weekend. Daddums has been gone 18 months. It’s gotten to the point now where the numbness has worn off & the pain is more acute. I spent pretty much all of Saturday & most of Sunday sedated. I had to. Then on Monday I got up & had the emotional energy to do my makeup. That was crazy. I took it easy on myself & my body rewarded me.

You’ll all be happy to hear I’m in a much better place now. I’m taking a class with a professor I adore just for shits & giggles. I’m working one shift a week at a part time job I love with people I love. I’m applying to a Master’s program in Applied Linguistics. I have an appointment to meet with a new therapist next week after going without one for over 2 years. Life isn’t perfect. I still have bad days. My brain chemistry still gets out of whack. I’m not standing on a ledge deciding if it’s worth jumping or if I’ll just end up seriously injuring myself.


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Of being the one doing the talking off the ledge and 90 day time limits

I, of all people, have reached my moment of zen.

The transitional week is over. All the (virtual) paperwork has been done & we’re all officially reporting to J. Over the past week, he’s been trying to acclimate himself to our area. He managed to piss off my staff twice in 2 days. I’m the queen of putting my foot in my mouth, but he made me look like a shining example of tact. In all fairness, my staff had a right to be pissed. The powers that be wanted to make a change in the work hours. Currently the phone until is 9-6 & our area is 730-430. The powers that be wanted to move everyone from 9-6 for consistency. J told me this first & I knew it wasn’t going to go over well at all. I kept my mouth shut & let my staff speak for themselves. One has another job & the other is a single parent. The way J presented it was…less good. His reaction to their objections came off as dismissive. Ultimately, he agreed to see if he could negotiate different hours. The compromise was 8-5. That still didn’t go over well. Again, they objected. This time, he came across as just insulting. Instead of getting pissed at him, I let it go. It’s not worth fighting with him after less than a week. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

He eats, breathes, & lives his job. He doesn’t seem to understand that not everyone is like that. I got an email from him sent at 1 in the morning. I about fell out of my chair when I saw the time stamp. I spoke to my staff & told them to give it 90 days. If after 90 days, the schedule isn’t working out or they flat out aren’t happy, I would support whatever decision they made. Through all of this, I’ve been the calm one. The world hasn’t stopped rotating on its axis, but I had to check a few times to be sure.

The more Old Boss & I talked over the course of the week, the more I agreed this could be a positive change. I don’t think J is the asshole he came across. This situation has actually brought out the best in me. I haven’t thrown a temper tantrum. I’ve been the one encouraging everyone else to be open minded & give it time. I’m prepared to talk to J if I need to about how he keeps upsetting my staff. Y’all, I’M BEING A GROWN UP!

Yes, ponder that for a moment. My crippling self doubt hasn’t shown up at all. I realize this isn’t a personal affront. I’ve survived far, far worse than a management change. This is a mud puddle compared to the volcanic craters I’ve dragged myself out of this past year. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I feel like I should be pissed off, but I’m not. I’m accepting it for what it is. It spurred a much needed change. Life doesn’t have a reset button, but it might have a 6 second rewind button. That’s all I need.

In other news, I’m a dark brunette. Go new hair!


Of the dreaded strengths & weakness question and the BFF filter

Today was the first time I got to be the interviewer rather than the interviewee.

I had a minor meltdown over it last night. The perfectionist kicked in. I *had* to be an excellent interviewer right off the bat. I *had* to impress everyone. I *had* to take my boss’ previous experiences with several of the candidates into consideration. I was given a total of 16 resumes and narrowed the field down to 8 for interviews. At the same time, I have to pick up everything in my new position with 100% accuracy. If not, I’m an epic failure who deserves to be publicly flogged for her shortcomings. I put myself through the “BFF” filter. Would I tell my closest friends the same things I was telling myself? Absolutely not. I’d probably kick someone who spoke that way to someone I love. Yet I keep listening to my own bullshit. I take those horrible words as gospel. Once I turned on that filter, I backtracked most of the rest of the night. If I caught myself going down that path, I’d put it through the BFF filter. Only about 2% of the thoughts passed. That’s a bit scary, n’est pas?

I’ve got 9 interviews scheduled from today until next Tuesday. A second batch of resumes will find its way into my inbox tomorrow morning. I navigated the first three with no problems. My boss sat with me for the first one, gave me feedback, and I was on my own for the next 2. I’l give him my feedback on everyone I talk to. He made it clear that this is my decision. He has his opinions and advice, but I have the last word. I’ll interview people through next Friday, then make my decision the week of the 10th (P.S. when did it get to be March?!). I didn’t think it was fair to the people who applied later to not get a crack at it. I also purposely scheduled a lot of people to interview for my own practice. Hopefully by the last few people, I’ll have come up with a better question than “what are your strengths / weaknesses?”. I hate that one. Too bad my BFF filter doesn’t have a solution for that one.

On a completely frivolous note, I’m trying some new perfumes. I learned the hard way to test fragrances out first before committing to anything. I have several small samples to test run. I keep smelling myself to see how they’re mellowing on my skin. I’m not crazy about the one I’m wearing now. I liked the one from yesterday better. Conveniently, there are a total of 7 samples to try. I’m also eyeing more glittery things to wear on my head and ridiculously sized rings. If I could get away with wearing the glittery animal ears at work, I totally would. Until then, I’ll just have to settle for my big, stupid earrings.


Of Photoshop and making ’em laugh

I’ve seen a lot floating around on Facebook recently about how significant Photoshop is to the fashion and beauty industry. A big “duh”, right? Like how reality shows aren’t real. Both this article and this video really impressed me with how severe it really is. I knew skin tone could be smoothed out, make up touched up, and bodies trimmed down. I actually had no idea that limbs could be made longer. Of course, my understanding of Photoshop is limited at best. Commercials on YouTube come with a disclaimer that the mascara they’re selling is on top of fake lashes with a dash of post-prod touching up. Mascara is always going to clump. It’s colored glue. Trying to sell me a “clump crusher” mascara is hilarious. Nice try, Cover Girl.

I know I’m never going to look like a Victoria’s Secret model even though I’m 5’9″ and 140 pounds soaking wet. The funny thing is when I got a Withings & entered my height and weight, it told me to gain weight rather than lose it. Nicely done, Withings. I know all of 3 women who even come close to looking like a magazine ad. All 3 of them literally spend their entire days working out. One is a ballet teacher, one is a fitness competitor (think beauty pageant only instead of singing or ballet for their talent, they do crazy fitness routines to show how strong they are), and the third actually is a model and costumer. On the other end of the spectrum, my cousin’s wife will never be as skinny as a runway model. She’s drop dead gorgeous. It’s no question as to why my cousin married her (ignoring entirely her excellent sense of humor and undying kindness :D). I don’t have 7 hours a day to devote to working out. I watch what I eat, but don’t avoid entire food groups. Most of all, I keep my historical issues with body image, weight, and pants size in mind. When I start to restrict or become overly obsessive about my body, it’s a sign of a much larger issue, not my actual body.

I dance because I love it, not because it’ll help me drop that last 5 pounds. I wear make up because I love playing around with different styles, colors, and generally treating it like a big girl’s coloring book. I pay attention to what I wear because I love playing dress up, not to conform to some arbitrary standard of what I *should* look like.My hair is frizzy. I have smile lines because I’ve spent my life smiling and laughing. I’m all hips and no boobs. I currently have a zit on my chin and I haven’t been bothering to cover up. The make up will just rub off anyway. And concealer makes it more obvious. Anna Wintour would be appalled. When I was in high school and first started going to the dermatologist, she asked if I wanted to have my freckles removed. I looked at her in disbelief and told her no. Apparently that’s a thing. Yeesh. 

It’s a parody of itself when you take a step back. The design student was right. They’re ads for Photoshop, not make up, shoes, or a weight loss program. I’ve always been a firm believer in taking crappy situations and messages with a solid laugh. It’s a lot more fun that way. I endeared myself to a new dance teacher last night by admitting my limitations and making him laugh. His class, cardio hip hop, is relatively new at the studio. It was totally packed. He taught somewhere else before moving and brought his following with him. Last night was the first time I tried the class after seeing it on Black Friday. I scooted toward the back to see what everyone else was doing. He likes to walk around and egg people on as they’re dancing. I’m a ballet dancer. I’ll always look like a ballet dancer trying to do hip hop. My hips go in one direction and that’s forward. I have fully accepted this about myself. He was all “show me what you got, girl!” and I said flat out “I’m a ballerina trying to do hip hop”. He laughed and walked away. Toward the end of class when I’m sweating in places I didn’t know I had and barely able to lift my legs, he said “Come on ballerina!”. I stopped, curtsied, and he about laughed his ass off. He said “I like you!” and gave me a hug. I definitely plan on making his class as much as I can because it was fun and completely kicked my ass. The muscles between my shoulders are sore today. Moral of the story, admitting to and laughing at weaknesses or flaws make life a hell of a lot easier.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. Mine is filled with friends, haircuts, dance, and concerts.