Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thought Spill

Here's my attempt at being brief about things. None of these paragraphs are really connected, but they're thoughts I wanted to put out in the world.

In June, I didn't sleep for almost a month. I was far more depressed than I've been in ages, and I couldn't understand why. I still don't fully know why. I just know that the depression preceeded the insomnia, but the insomnia brought anxiety, and the total sum of these was a lot of missed work. And a lot of crying because I couldn't work. I gained a pant size and now I cry when I look in the mirror. I hate the way my hair looks, but I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll always just be an average looking person, not someone who commands attention just from the aura that surrounds them and their overall beauty. I guess I'll have to resort to relying on my brains to get ahead in the world. Pity.

I've recently realized that I'm going to be 25 and I'll have accomplished nothing of note. Most of my friends have graduated college, have amazing careers in fields they love, and while they don't have it ALL figured out, they have a lot of it down pat. I'd hoped by this time that I would be a teacher, making a difference in someone's life. Changing kids by being the amazing influence that my educators were. But I can't even dream of going to back to college right now. I always say "next year, this year I'm saving up money". The next year comes, the money isn't there, I'm still working jobs I hate dreaming of the only thing I've wanted to do since I was in the fifth grade.

Recently I may have indulged in a drink or two at one of my boyfriends shows and made an ass of myself. There was a lot of drama, I woke up embarrassed, and now I have a lot of work to do to repair my reputation. The main lesson I came away with was that I shouldn't drink Jaeger. While my boyfriend assures me we're going to be okay, and that people fight, and that yes, I was a giant b-word, but he forgives me, please stop apologizing, I'm still having a hard time forgiving myself for the scene I caused. My greatest fear is that he won't realize how grateful I am to have him in my life. How happy he makes me just by being around. And with one big argument, I kind of showed that I don't give two shits about what he does for me, even if that really isn't true.

I used to think that I had a lot of friends, and I thought that was really important. But the someone smart told me that "we have friends for a reason, and we have friends for a season", and that made a lot of sense. There are so many people in life that we are friends with just because we have to be around them frequently, and then there are those friends who are going to stick around even when they have no reason to. I suppose I've just gotten to that point in my life where my "friends for a reason" have slowly begun to fade out, and my "friends for a season" are showing me that they're going to stick around.

 I want to get back in to performing, but I'm terrified of going up against the large scale talent that lives in the Seattle area. I'm just a girl from Omak who likes to play pretend. What if I'm rusty? What if I've always thought I was talented and it turns out I'm actually horrible? What if I actually get cast? There are so many possibilities that I get too anxious thinking about all the pros and cons of everything that could happen that I end up not going to any auditions, even if I'm really excited for them. But how am I supposed to get famous enough to be on Dancing With the Stars if I can't force myself to go sing 60 seconds of a song for a director?

These days I'm more questions than answers, more trainwreck than hot mess, and more stressed out than ever. I'll quit complaining now, I guess.

Alexis Olmstead is a 24 year old trying to cope with the gravity of turning 25, at which point it apparently "all goes downhill". When Alexis isn't working, watching her boyfriend perform with his band, or binge watching true crime shows, she enjoys reading, singing mediocrely, and playing an unhealthy amount of The Sims 3. For more random thoughts about nothing, letters from the road to mental health, and opinions on stuff you don't care about, check back often. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

As Seen On TV

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is my favorite binge-worthy show not produced by Netflix. As a lover of musical theatre and all things big, bright, and dramatic, this show is right up my alley. If you haven't seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and have thought of starting to watch it, please leave and watch all episodes out right now, and then come back to this post. I'd hate to ruin anything for you. Same goes for any current viewers who haven't seen the latest episode. Because that's all this post is about today.

If you're never going to watch a music sitcom (uhm, who are you? please do it), you need some context. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows the life of Rebecca Bunch, a Yale/Harvard Law Graduate who leaves her big practice in NYC to relocate to West Covina, California to find her happiness, NOT to get back with her drama camp boyfriend from years ago, Josh Chan. So she gets a job at a law firm, dumps all her depression and anxiety meds, and goes about getting the man of her dreams. It all goes wrong, at the end of season 2 he leaves her at the alter to become a priest, and sends her into a mental health spiral in season 3. It is a light hearted show with lots of original musical numbers, amazing, relatable characters, and a story line that could go on for seasons.

The latest episode ended with Rebecca attempting suicide. And I want to thank the creators of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, for this episode, especially Rachel Bloom for depicting the journey to a suicide attempt so beautifully and accurately. As someone who has attempted suicide and sometimes just lives in the zone of "suicidal but don't want to die", this episode highlighted a struggle I personally could connect to more than I would have wished to.

Watching Rebecca pull those pills out of her pocket, look at them, and form the idea to overdose, was a completely silent few seconds that felt like minutes. I remembered that feeling. Pouring the pills out, feeling how they tumble onto your hands, knowing that's a lot of drugs and its going to mess you up. But then not caring. Because you want to be messed up. You want to be so messed up that you die. You swallow them all before you can change your mind. You have to act on the impulse before you get too scared. That's always the thing about it for me, is that I know overdosing is a bad idea, I know suicide will do more harm than good in the world, but I'm hurting and I don't have anywhere to turn.

You know I have somewhere to turn, reader. I know right now I have MANY places to turn. But in those moments, always in those moments, I forget I have people to run to, people who love me. In my mind they are all pretending. They feel sorry for me, they actually hate me and are just pretending, if I go back a failure they'll all ridicule brain is an asshole when it comes to making up reasons not to get help when I'm low. From the episode it is supremely evident that many people will miss Rebecca if she is gone. It is evident in my life that I will be missed as well. But sometimes, my brain wins. Sometimes, it puts blinders on me and tells me I've been deluding myself into feeling loved by my circle. I could tell that's how Rebecca felt in this episode, too.

This episode was a gift. I know I have friends who struggle with suicidal feelings as well, but I've never seen a journey to the darkness that is acting on your suicidal ideations from an outsiders perspective before. I recognized so much of it. The insomnia and then sleeping all day. The loss of appetite. The refusal to trust others. The isolation of oneself. I recognized, and I understood, and in turn, felt that someone out there got it, and that's all I've wanted for longer than I can remember. Is someone to get it. Someone to know how all of this feels. Because none of what I feel is good when I'm in a depressive low.

But there is always hope. The episode closes with Rebecca holding up an empty pill bottle and asking for help. There is a beautiful moment where the call button above her seat on the plane she's on, which says help, suddenly turns to the word hope, and that's when Rebecca pushes it. She's foggy from the pills, she knows she's in trouble, she sees a stranger with a friendly face (a very sweet flight attendant) and asks for help. She has hope. She doesn't actually want to die.

That moment was a revelation for me. I've never fully wanted to die. I don't want my whole body to die. I just want the "bad" parts of me to be gone. The parts that are depressed, and anxious, and the parts that assume everyone is going to leave me, the parts of me that hate myself, the parts of me that tell me that I'm going to die alone and friendless. I want the voice that second guesses every good thing I do, to be dead. I've always kind of hoped there was a way to kill that part of me (I know, go to therapy and get back on your meds), and I think that's why I've always ended up in a hospital. Because I realize that you can't just kill parts of yourself. You have to fix them.

This weeks episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend gave me something to connect to. I saw the events of my recent past play out, and I didn't lose any love for Rebecca, which made me realize that if I could still love and appreciate a fictional character, than my very real friends and family are still going to love and appreciate me, even when I'm broken. The love doesn't go away.

Thank you, Rachel Bloom. This show is a gift.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something part time retail worker, full time diva, living and working in Bellingham, WA. When she's not working or sleeping, Alexis is working on her first photography series, Alexis Is Alone. For more updates, rants, raves, and letters from the road to mental health recovery, check back sporadically.

You are loved, there is hope. Keep moving forward. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

You're So Toxic

He broke me. I wasn't going to post about this, but I've promised myself that I will always speak my truth from now on, and right now I am broken and as cliche as it is, it's because of a guy. I watched our friendship turn into a relationship turn into something hard and troubled and ugly and that turned into me being too much for someone to handle again and being left in the dust, asked to not contact him for a while. The "we shouldn't talk because we are bad for each other and need to move on" phone call felt a whole lot like he had already moved on.

I was the idiot who didn't see that it was true. We weren't good for each other. Or maybe I did see it. But I stayed because I wanted to feel the way I felt whenever he hugged me, or whenever we had a brief good moment. I wanted to feel warm, and loved. Because of where I'm at in life, I felt like I NEEDED to feel loved by a man to move forward and be okay.

I deluded myself into thinking I couldn't survive without someone, someone who continually told me that I should learn to be more independent. I was independent for a long time. I failed at it. I fail at most things. Our relationship got weird and awkward and ugly because for months now I've been in constant crisis. I've needed so much support that one person alone could not provide. And I asked for too much. I needed to build a circle of people, a circle pretty much already formed, but I relied so heavily on him that he just couldn't take it anymore.

But I told him. I told him someday he would get tired of me. He would get tired of all the crying and the emergencies and the meltdowns and the panic attacks. He would get tired of me always being depressed, always needing attention, always overthinking, always worrying. And he told me he wouldn't let that happen. That he would ALWAYS be there. And now he's literally non-existent in my life and I feel SO alone.

I'm okay for a little bit and then something makes me remember. Something reminds me of all our jokes, or one of "our" songs play. Or I see a late night tv sketch that I want to show him, because I always saved up funny videos to show him on road trips. Or I start thinking. And the thinking brings the self-blaming. It's my fault no one loves me. It's my fault everyone leaves. It's my fault that I'm a toxic force in so many people's lives. Some of its true. Most of its not.

Right now I wish I could call him, tell him that I'm sorry. That I know he wants us to not talk until all the wounds have healed and the scars have faded, but to apologize for the itemized list I have of all the shit I think made him leave. I can't stop crying. I can't stop fixating. I can't stop thinking about him replacing me.

I am so broken. I know this is necessary. Sometimes you love someone but being around them holds you back. He keeps me from recovering fully because I rely on him too much to support me, and I'm afraid if I'm not sick he won't have a reason to stay. But honestly, he would probably still be here if I wasn't SO sick. I need to recover and become my best self. He needs to get his life together. This is big adult breakup with a lot of closure on his end, and zero on mine. But it hurts.

I loved him. I loved him so much as a friend, as a confidante, as something more. He was sunshine. He was the way you feel when you crawl under all your blankets on a cold night. He never failed to put a smile on my face.

But he loved me different, and he loved me less. So here we are.

Him, living his life, unfettered by the heartbreak I'm experiencing about all this. And me, not even able to currently leave the house because I'm so volatile and likely to melt into a puddle of tears.

I'll get over it. Just not for a while.

Photo by Cheyanne Sharpe

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something ball of emotions living in Bellingham, WA. When she's not crying or binge watching Forensic Files, she's working on her new series, "Alexis Is Alone", available to view on Instagram. For more updates on life, her mental health journey, and anything else she finds worthy of writing about, check back sporadically. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Difficult....But Worth It

I feel like I have a sign attached to me that says "difficult....but still worth it". And depending on who you are, you see a different part of the sign. Some people only see the word "difficult". They write me off as a lost cause, the girl too consumed by her depression to ever do anything or be anything of value. They see me as nothing more than the meltdowns and bad days. They see my days on the couch, the moody social media posts, and the constant mood swings in real life as the sum of my parts. I see myself as this as well. I am too difficult for anyone to handle. I'll always be alone. I'll never be more than the girl who cries all the time. The one aching to belong but never feeling fully included, even when I know everyone wants me there. If we're being totally honest, this feeling of being too much for everyone and being everyone's "pathetic friend" who they only hang out with out of pity, is so pervasive that I felt like I was unwanted and in the way at my own birthday party this year.

Then there are those who ignore the first part and only read the second. "But Worth It". They see me as a girl who is broken, but can still smile. The girl who climbs the mountain and makes it to the top. The girl who has meltdowns and panic attacks, but still sees the positive in the world. These people build me up, affirm me, always tell me their alive when I worry they might not be, make me laugh when I'm crying, and understand that I'm not doing this "being on your own" thing gracefully. These people make staying alive worthwhile.

Because the truth is, I AM more than all the shit that's wrong with me. Yeah, I cry over almost everything these days. I wait till I'm alone and then cry a lot, until it gets to be too much and then I just start crying over anything at anytime. Don't believe me? I cry over Youtube ads. Yeah. Anyways, I cry too much, but I also see so much beauty in the world around me. I laugh too hard at childish jokes, I make way too many bad jokes of my own. I can be snarky and sassy and blunt, but I love the people that I've surrounded myself with and like to make new friends. I say I don't like kids, but lets face it, that's a lie and anyone who has seen me around my CTL kiddos knows it. I get depressed, and I blow everyone off, but whenever I can make it to the thing, I do. I get anxious and sometimes can't ask for help in the grocery store when I'm lost, but if my friend is more anxious, I'm going to stiffen my upper lip and ask anyways. I'm a big heart and an old soul trying to figure out how to survive in a world that punishes you for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

I am dark days and stormy weather, but I'm also sunlight coming through the window on a spring day. I'm depressed and anxious but so eager to see the world and see what it has to offer. I meltdown over silly stuff a lot, but I will support any one of my friends through any number of meltdowns if need be. I've been there, I get it. I'm so much more than my mental illness. I'm so much more than my bad days. I just wish everyone saw that.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something hot mess living and working out of Whatcom County, Washington. She is currently working on her first photo series, "Alexis Is Alone" which you can see on Instagram @alexisisalone. When she's not binge watching Forensic Files or belting showtunes, Alexis likes to dismantle the patriarchy and eat Thai food. For more updates on her mental health journey, life, and stuff that grinds her gears, check back sporadically. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Banned Birds

It is 2017 and this country is still banning books. It is 2017 and a book was just banned because it "made people uncomfortable". It is 2017 and in the United States of America "To Kill a Mockingbird" was just banned because people cannot handle the language contained in what is obviously a classic piece of literature. People in Mississippi, a place infamous for its racism and intolerance, just banned "To Kill a Mockingbird" because they cannot handle the "n-word".

To clarify, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (TKM) will no longer be TAUGHT in Mississippi schools, but will be allowed on library shelves. But the necessity for this book to be taught in schools, especially in high schools, is more and more evident every single day. When we live a time rampant with systematic racism, in a country whose leader took advantage of those preexisting prejudices and used them as a basis for his campaign, when African-Americans are being publicly mistreated by the law, when immigrants and DREAMers are being chased out of our country, we NEED this book.

In TKM we see time and time again, that no matter what, a person is a person. Nothing, and I mean nothing, changes this. Not skin color, class, age, situation in life, etc. This book is set in a time when the country was very clearly divided along racial lines, and in a southern state that widened this divide, in a time when anyone who wasn't white was treated as a second class citizen. Throughout the book we see Atticus, the father of the story's young narrator, Scout, treat everyone the same, from the destitute, to the addict, to the backwards thinking hillbilly's, to Tom, the African-American man whom Atticus must defend against rape accusations from a white woman.

It is through this narrative that we see that the law isn't always right, that some of us have a lot of privilege when it comes to how we are treated by the people who enforce those laws. It is through this narrative that we see that systematic racism is real, and it is wrong.

Teaching this book to people who have still developing brains is important, because we need those people to grow up and understand that everyone is equal. That as a country, we didn't handle things correctly for a long time, especially when it came to African-Americans. By teaching TKM, we show not only where we've come from as a country, but where we still need to go. By teaching TKM, we teach how to use white privilege as a tool to make the world a better place. By teaching TKM to high schoolers, you are teaching tolerance, compassion, understanding, empathy, and perspective. By teaching TKM to high schoolers, we are teaching an appreciation for diversity, a willingness to question society, and go against the norm.

The language (and violence) in this book is so incredibly important, because they illustrate where we were as a country in that time. The language frames a narrative that seems to be about coming of age in a turbulent time in American history, but is truly about the heroism contained within simply doing the right thing, even if the right thing goes against the status quo.

But most importantly, from this book, high schoolers will learn hope. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, for a better future for our country, hope for a better future for the people that live within its borders. And they will learn that they can make those hopes and dreams come true themselves, if they are willing to "climb in someone's skin and walk around in it".

There are messages in this book that cannot be taught in a better way. "To Kill a Mockingbird" stands the test of time because the reader connects with characters who touch on topics that America still struggles with today. How do we handle the mentally ill, those less fortunate than us, those of a different race? With grace, with compassion, and by treating everyone the same as you want to be treated.

Mississippi, you've made a mistake.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something full time hot mess and part time diva living in Bellingham, Washington. When she's not defending the need for classic literature being taught in schools, she's taking photos, trying to find a job, and learning how to love herself. For more random updates, rants, reviews, and commentary on life with anxiety and depression, check back sporadically. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017


So I'm doing this 30 day challenge on Instagram where every day there is a theme and you post a photo relating to that theme. Today's theme was happy. I read the word, five letters and two syllables that are meant to evoke some kind of feeling and I felt nothing.

I looked through my photos and all the moments I had where I felt happy just made me sad because instead of being with those people enjoying my life, I'm sleeping on couches, trying to find somewhere to live, and feeling like a failure.

I'm not happy anymore. And honestly, I love Seattle, but I regret coming here more and more all the time. I frequently wish I could go back to Omak, surrounded by the people I love, with my cat, and my friends, and away from all the shit that is bringing me down.

I've made new friends here, but I've recently lost any trust I had for one that I that nothing could shake my trust in. Do you know heartbreaking it is to feel deep down that soon you're going to have to cut someone out because you can't handle the hurt anymore? It fucking sucks. It hurts so god damn much. And like, I know they won't care. You always feel like you're so tough and ruthless cutting someone out, but you know what? Rarely do they care. They move on with their life. They fill your spot with someone else. Well I've already been replaced so what am I doing sticking around?

I used to laugh and smile all day long. Now I'm depressed. I go to therapy, I go to work, and I sleep. Sometimes I remember to eat, when my stomach starts to growl loud enough. But depression kills your appetite. So the other day I ate some top ramen and felt like literal worms were in my mouth.

To top it all off, my body has just like given up on me. For the third time in 12 months, I have a kidney infection. I tried to deny it, I got the diagnosis, I got the prescriptions, and then the doctor said, please stay home for a couple of days, your body has to rest because you're very ill. But I miss so much work due to anxiety and depression, that I couldn't afford to miss more work. I'm terrified they'll fire me, which will really send me into a spiral because I love the job I have, I love the people I work with, and even though I feel like they all secretly hate me because I'm worthless and can't make it to work 25% of the time, I would really hate to lose my job. So I went in anyways. I was in pain all day long. I felt horrible by the time I left. My manager graciously gave me a ride home, and in the car I made conversation, we had a fun talk, but all the while my back was THROBBING.

Cue me puking all night. Cue me trying to go to work this morning, getting on the bus, throwing up into my venti cup of ice and being asked to get back off the bus. So I had to call out again. I've cried like six times since 5 am.

So how can I post a photo of myself being happy or something that makes me happy when I can't see the joy in the world right now?

Someday I'll smile again. I hope.

Alexis Olmstead is just your average 20something diva living and working in Seattle, Washington. When she's not overthinking her meaningless existence in the vast void of space, you can find her doing copious amounts of crossword puzzles. 

For more updates on life, her mental health journey, and sometimes random rants, check back sporadically. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

It's Trich-y Is The Title

The reason I don't do
no-makeup selfies right now
Ever since I can remember I've pulled out my hair. It used to be my head hair. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop myself. Somewhere between ages 8 and 12 (I honestly don't remember the exact time) I had a large bald spot on the top of my head. My family was stumped. I was often reprimanded for this impulse I could not control, once being asked "What's next, your eyelashes? And then what? Eyebrows? If you run out of hair on your face will you start pulling out someone elses?" After a few years I quit pulling out the hair on my head, my bald spot was gone, and it wasn't really brought up again.

Then I hit adulthood. I moved out on my own, my anxiety became worse and worse, and I started pulling out my hair again. This time, however, I wasn't hiding clumps of hair under my mattress, I was pulling out my eyebrows, bit by bit, examining each hair, feeling weird relief in this tiny behavior. After a while I started going after my eyelashes as well. And again, I couldn't (and still can't) stop myself from doing it. I try. I try really hard. Sometimes I realize what I'm doing and I stop. Other times I don't realize until its too late and I only have half an eyebrow, or I have a large gap in my brows, or I have no eyelashes left (see photo).

What I have is a classic case of trichotillomania. For those of you who don't know what this is, I'll do some defining. Trichotillomania is a disorder characterized by the irresistible urge to pull out ones hair. It often has great social impacts as most people with trich end up with bald patches or noticeable hair loss and have anxiety about going into public as a result of it. Before the days of filling in your eyebrows and the sudden popularity of falsies, I had a super hard time being around people after an episode. I was very aware of just how much eyebrow I didn't have, because I would try to hide it (to no avail) and because my family would often point it out to me. Because they never really understood that I literally couldn't stop myself from pulling out my hair, my very embarrassing disorder was almost treated like a joke. I don't hold any bitterness in my heart over this. It wasn't until recently that I even knew that this was a disorder, how were they supposed to know?

My brand of trich is automatic. I do it without thinking, when I'm doing brainless activities like playing on my phone or watching television. But like most people with trichotillomania, it also comes with a ritual. Pull out the hair, examine the hair, put it in a pile on a light colored object so I can see my collection grow. Bonus points if the root comes out as well. If someone walks in on this I hide my little pile of eyebrows or eyelashes, immediately embarrassed that I've been caught doing something that I repeatedly got into trouble for as a child.

The fun part is that there are a lot of different reasons as to why a person may have trich. It is classified as a mental health disorder but no one is really sure what causes it. It is closely linked to anxiety, depression, and OCD, but is not caused by any of those things. The fact that I have anxiety and depression, however, definitely relate to my trich. I'm most prone to pull hair when I'm feeling especially stressed, and often will pull out my eyelashes specifically during depressive episodes (btw, not having eyelashes is no fun. I get A LOT of shit in my eyes).

Anxiety and depression are also linked to excoriation (skin-picking disorder, formerly known as dermatillomania) which is another fun thing that I do that I'll talk about later but I bring up because lately now that I've got no eyebrows or eyelashes to pull, I've moved to tweezing out my leg hairs and picking at my skin to better get at my leg hair. Because of this I have permanent damage to the tissue on my legs, and some awesome scarring that I hide whenever possible. Last weekend was the first time I wore a dress or skirt without tights since February, when my trich and excoriation got really bad.

I go to a lot of therapy now, because I'm still classified as a suicide risk (don't worry, I'm sticking around). However, part of that therapy lately has been focused on trying to find the underlying issue to my hair pulling (if there is one) and helping me recognize my urges without acting on them. However, as anyone with an impulse control disorder can tell you, that's fucking hard as shit.

Life with trichotillomania is hard. But life is hard in general for most people. But I've promised myself I'll be honest with myself and my friends from now on and admitting to this is part of that honesty.

I have trichotillomania. Thank god for eyebrow pencils and falsies.

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something barista living and working in Seattle, Washington. For more updates on her mental health journey (or sometimes random rants) check back often. 

Also her bff Chris just put out an EP and it's super good. You can get it for $5 here: (Alexis did not get paid to advertise for this and will recieve no profits)