Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hope

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Last night I, along with millions of Americans, sat in shocked silence as a deep-fried Cheeto was elected to run our country. Some celebrated, but many grieved for a country that seemingly let them down.

As the electoral votes inched closer and closer to 270, the rights of every minority group in America came under fire. A man who has built his platform on hatred for anyone that is different, for anyone that isn't a straight white male, is in charge of our country, with a man who believes in conversion therapy as his vice-president.

I could sit here and list all the things I personally dislike about our new President-Elect, but we all know exactly what has happened during the course of this joke of an election. We know what has been said, what has been done, and everything in between. So what do we do?

We hope. We hope that the hatred that regularly came out of his mouth over the course of the past months was just a ploy to get him votes. We hope that there is no reason for everyone to be scared right now. We hope that we will not have to fight for rights that we have been fighting for for the past 60 years.

For all my friends that are scared, I am here for you. For all my friends that feel that their rights may come under fire in the wake of this new Presidency, I will fight for you until I can't fight anymore.

Now is not the time for hatred. Now is not the time to be divisive. Now is the time to come together as a country, to unite, to stand together and protect those we love most. Answering Trump's hatred with hatred for each other will not solve anything, to create the America we truly want, to make America truly great, we must come together as a people and protect the rights of everyone who feels threatened in this very moment.

Do not lose hope, friends.

"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." - Albus Dumbledore

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Psycho Bitch

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Raise your hand if lately you feel like your mental illness is destroying your life.
Keep it up if you have been called crazy, psycho, or some variation of those in the past week.
Raise your other hand if you can't help but to think that everyone is right, you are crazy.

Me too, kids. Me too. I know that I'm fucking everything up lately. From my violent mood swings to my current sinking feeling, it is all too familiar. I feel like I've always been depressed, but the switch from crisp fall air to winter winds sends me deeper down the rabbit hole than is normal for me. As more and more leaves fall off the trees, bits and pieces of me drift farther and farther down as well. Maybe it is like....I don't know, seasonal depression 2.0? Where you're normally depressed but then get SUPER depressed when the seasons change? Like, normally I'm on like a 3 out of 10 on the depression scale (thanks meds), but then winter starts to show up and I'm at oh I'd say, a 7 on days I'm medicated, 11 on days I forget.

The crappy part is, I forget that my boyfriend hasn't had to deal with this for very long. He doesn't know how to help me cope, how to help me get out of my funk, how to be there for me when I go from kind of needy to the most helpless human he knows. So then, on top of all the shitty feelings that I'm already pushing down to think on or deal with later, I add guilt, because I can't help but get angry when Cory just doesn't "get" it.

I know it isn't his fault that he can't sympathize with me. I know it is hard to imagine how low I can get over seemingly small things, like accidentally falling asleep instead of cooking dinner, or me putting his laundry away without him returning the favor, or him having a bad day and snapping at me. These are things that happen in life. Average things. Yet for me, they are catastrophic sometimes, and it isn't always easy to explain that my brain chemistry is messed up and I can't handle there not being honey mustard for my french fries right now because why does tragedy always befall me?

I know I'm all over the map right now (thanks meds), but I'm having a hard time processing through all these emotions that I'm feeling all at once. I'm exhausted from it. And I'm so tired of putting on my smile, day after day. Don't get me wrong, there are things that make me smile. I'm not always just putting on a brave face, I'm not a hero, I'm not an inspiration or anything, I'm just a cliche. I find joy in my cheerleaders, my boyfriend, my pets, most days my job. I have reasons to smile. I just never feel like it anymore.

I am grateful for what I have. I am not asking for pity. I'm just asking for some all knowing being to come hang out for a bit and tell me that I'm not crazy for crying over spilled ice cubes, Taco Bell is a healthy diet, and that I am always, always, always, loved, because I am. I know I am.

I just have a hard time remembering. Another thing I'm messing up, I suppose.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Panic Attacks Aren't Funny

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My friend recently related to me a story in which she had a panic attack while trying to drive a manual car. As a fellow anxiety-ridden member of society, I could relate because while learning to drive stick a couple weeks ago, the vehicle stalled out while I was pulling into traffic and was lengthwise across the entire road, not moving, and I was inside, close to vomiting, tears forming in my eyes, on the brink of a panic attack, when a kind friend hopped in the driver seat and got me across the road.

Now the difference between our two situations is large. While I was saved from my panic attack, allowed to calm down, and then helped to learn what I did wrong and calmly taught how to drive correctly, she was recorded, and then mocked for the fact she was hysterical trying to figure out how to drive this car.

This instance is telling of a large problem that pervades society. Mental illnesses are frequently treated like a joke. As a consequence, symptoms that signal someones needing help are treated like a joke. The end result? Being harassed by a video of yourself in hysterics because you can't drive a stick shift and you're scared that it keeps stalling out.

There is a large amount of stigma that surrounds mental health problems. As a society, many people don't want to talk about anxiety, depression, bipolarity, OCD, or the hundreds of other illnesses that one could have. They want the people who have these problems to "just get over it" to "quit being so sad all the time" to not be themselves. To be "normal". But we are normal. Normality for me is occasionally crying because I took too much soda and people might think I'm selfish or gluttonous. Normal for me is crying because something isn't perfect no matter how many times I try. Normal for me is having a long span of good days followed by some really horrid days. That's life. I have depression and anxiety. I am normal for me.

Just because people with mental health problems aren't someone else's idea of normal doesn't mean that they deserve to be treated as a joke. I've mentioned before how harmful it is to invalidate symptoms of major mental health issues. I should have been treated for anxiety ages ago. Instead,  I just got on medication five months ago. And these symptoms can take all forms.

For example. I sleep a lot. In fact, I went through a period of two months last year where I barely left my bed. Now I go to bed at 230 pm, wake up at 6 pm, eat dinner and am back in bed by midnight so I can sleep until 830 pm. Most people read this as lazy. My boyfriend, my doctor, and a therapist I saw once continue to be worried about the fact that my depression makes me incapable of doing anything that doesn't require a pillow and blanket.

Then there's the whole anxiety thing. Anxiety comes in many forms. In fact it is diagnosed in many different forms as well. Panic attacks look different on everyone. For me I become nauseous, obsessive, jumpy, and hysterically tearful at the worst. On the mild end I just zone out, and become nauseous. My friend gets hysterical in the way that she is laughing and crying at the same time and doesn't know what to do. Panic attacks are paralyzing. They are terrifying. And when the people you are around are mocking you for it, they are the most embarrassing thing in the world.

By mocking those who suffer from serious mental health issues, you are contributing to their fear of seeking help. When I went to the doctor's office to be officially diagnosed I was so embarrassed that I couldn't control myself that I almost walked out of the clinic after checking in. I was there because I had such horrid suicidal thoughts that I checked myself into a hospital and they told me the best course of action was medication to level me out. But still, all I could think of was what people were going to say about the new "crazy" version of me.

All my life people called me spoiled, bratty, dramatic, a cry-baby, weird, and psycho. For problems that I couldn't control. And that's why, at 22 years old, I still couldn't quite manage to take myself to the doctors office to get help for depression and anxiety so bad I was losing control of my entire life.

Here's what my probably disconnected thinking train wreck post is all meaning to say. You cannot mock people for their mental health problems. Mocking people with mental health problems only perpetuates the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in general. Do not be that one person that prevents someone from getting help because you have to be funny, because you have to draw attention to someone else's embarrassment, because you are too ignorant to recognize when someone clearly needs help.

Gain awareness. End the stigma. Think about someone besides yourself.

Friday, September 2, 2016

When You're Suddenly a Flake (I'm Sorry)

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Lately as in for the past 6 months, I have been horrible about getting to things. I will make commitments then cancel last minute, just won't show up, or will just say no, that I can't be there. I've missed deadlines, lost motivation, and basically just dropped the ball on almost everything.

For all of these things, I would like to apologize.

For all of these things, I would like to explain myself.

I have depression and anxiety. Like, bad. If the wind blows strong enough I can't drive my car. I once had a panic attack because it was slightly drizzling and I still had set cleanup to do after a rehearsal. I got sent home because I obviously couldn't calm down (and wasn't expected to) and then bawled my eyes out for the entirety of the 20 minute drive back.

I take medication that makes me exhausted and helps everything, but not even medication can help on the bad days. The days where my existence is too much to handle for no particular reason besides I am me, and the weight of the world is crushing my helpless body.

I don't want to do anything anymore. I go to work, I go home, I sleep for a few hours, I do laundry, I eat dinner, I go to bed. That's it. I am supposed to be an assistant cheer coach and a photographer on the side. Because of the way my meds have affected me this past week I've barely left my house save for on my birthday when I felt the need to give myself at least one good day. I've quit taking photography clients and quit doing my most photography related things in general.

Depression and anxiety have made the way I live my life so much different. I am constantly worried that something will trigger a panic attack, I'm constantly degrading myself for no particular reason besides the fact that eh. I just suck lately.

I am sorry, friends and family, for my extreme lack of consistency. If you know me, you know this isn't like me. I'll be back to myself soon enough.

Hopefully.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quit Telling Girls They Don't Need Makeup

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"You're so pretty, you don't need makeup" is one of the more seemingly innocent things someone can use as a compliment. However, a compliment that puts down another group of people is not a compliment. I mean, think about the opposite of this phrase. Without meaning to, the people who use this phrase are saying that someone who doesn't fit their standard of beauty needs to wear makeup to cover up their obvious "ugliness". They're saying "if you wear make-up, you're ugly, because if you were pretty, you wouldn't need to spend an hour 'putting your face on' every morning".

But here is the thing: even the most beautiful women on the planet wear make-up. Women who fit Western standards of beauty to a 'T' still wear foundation, still hide freckles and bags under their eyes. They battle acne with concealer, cleverly plump their lips, and spend hours contouring to have the perfectly chiseled look. Looking a certain way is not a prerequisite to wearing makeup. Makeup is about enhancing your features to feel like the best version of yourself. And if that amount of makeup is no makeup, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.

What I'm saying here is: wearing makeup or not wearing makeup has nothing to do with the way one looks, and does not determine "prettiness". My whole life I've been told I would never need makeup because I was so pretty. So anytime I wanted to wear makeup, I felt ugly. Because if I was actually pretty, I wouldn't be getting red splotches all over my face that I had to cover up. It wasn't until college that I realized that I could wear makeup, regardless of what other people told me I looked like.

I constantly go back and forth on whether or not I want to wear makeup. Some days I don't want to go through the hassle, and some days I'm just going barefaced in order to let my skin breathe and appreciate my natural self. Other days I feel like getting glammed up, putting on my mauve lipstick, and werking a smokey-eye look. Either way, I'm still the girl my parental units called beautiful, right?

Also, who are we, as people, to tell others what they should or shouldn't put on their face. It's like showing up at their house and telling them what not to wear each day. Its kind of no one's business but theirs. No one should be taking ownership of other people's bodies or faces, even if it is meant with the best intentions.

We should be thinking more about what we are saying to each other, and about each other, even if unintentionally. And in regards to makeup, you do you, beautiful. Only you decide how you look best.



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Why All The Millennial Hate?

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Hi. I'm a Millennial, and for some reason that means that the world is against everything I do, from the way I communicate with the rest of the world, to the way I style my hair, to the way I lean politically. But why?

I mean, Millennials (defined as those between 18 and 29) are written off as slackers, obsessed with their social media and their cellphones, expecting their parents to coddle them forever. Millennials get such a bad rap that some of us try to distance ourselves from the group, playing a sort of "I'm not like most people who belong to generation Y" kind of game.

Many don't believe we will have the same standard of living as our parents. Which is pretty shitty, considering growing up we had no control over the factors that decide that, and suddenly this is all our fault. We brought our horrible standard of living and pessimism for the future on ourselves, right?

But what everyone should really be dumping on is the horrendous economy that is causing Millennials to live with their parents longer, delay decisions like marriage, child having, and buying houses. Many of us carry more than one job to make ends meet, have cut back on their entertainment and food budgets, and live a life devoid of vacations, something that many generations before us haven't had to do.

Furthermore, it is important to realize the great things that millennials do. 3/4 of millennials are politically engaged, and take actions necessary to educate themselves about politics. Millennials don't have as much of a problem with drugs, at least where marijuana (which is becoming legalized in many places) isn't concerned. Millennials are one of the best educated groups in American history, with higher percentages pursuing higher educations despite bad economics and the rising price of college. We strive to participate and uphold civic duties and are committed to political causes. As a whole, we strive to make a difference in the world, which is good, because we are the generation expected to have all the answers.

We didn't break the economy, but we are expected to fix it. As with the generations before us, we are expected to produce a cure for cancer, a cure for AIDS, finding peace when we are constantly warring with other countries, and with ourselves as a country.

It is easy to understand why people would dislike Millennials, who are seemingly awarded just for participating, although many of those participation trophies are pushed by parents so their kids don't feel left out. We are constantly on our phones using Snapchat and Facebook as a means to communicate versus face to face conversations. I don't have excuses for this. Communication and the ways we carry it out evolve constantly. What was once letters delivered by stagecoach turned into telegraphs turned into (eventually) AOL and is now Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. But despite all the hate, we, as a generation, are strong, and working hard to prove everyone wrong, a feat for which we don't get pretty ribbons or gold medals, or even respect.

So come on, lay off Millennials. We're doing literally everything we can to make the world better.



Alexis is 20something diva working and living out of Okanogan County. She is addicted to Instagram, reading, dancing, singing in the shower, and using trendy vocabulary. She has a dog and a cat who suffer in silence while she reads all her blog posts out loud. For more of this, that, and the other thing, check back at random. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Cheerleading?

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Over the years I was in high school, many people asked me, a (in the beginning) quiet girl who cared more for academics than athletics, why I would devote so much of my time to cheerleading. And it is true, I spent a lot of time doing cheer. My junior and senior years of high school I was spending over 20 hours a week doing cheer related activities. As a participant on two squads and a die-hard fan of the sport overall, cheer quickly consumed my life. But I have never regretted spending all that time doing something I love for even a second.

OJHS Wrestling Cheerleading
I began cheerleading as an 8th grader doing wrestling cheerleading for Oroville Middle School. I had never been on a team before. I was quiet, awkward, and didn't know anything about wrestling. We quickly had to learn. And along with all the rhythms and cheers, we soon knew all the rules and the ins and outs of the sport. I fell in love with cheerleading and I did it fast. Being a part of the cheer squad gave me friends that no other group activity would. Not only was I friends with the other cheerleaders, but with the boys on the wrestling team as well. And the lessons I learned from cheer are lessons that have carried with me to this day.

You also learn to never stop smiling.
As a cheerleader the quote "fall seven times, stand up eight" is a literal reality every day. Except usually you're falling from 5-10 feet off the ground and you may or may not have been thrown, and
someone may or may not be there to break your fall. If the people on the ground are doing their jobs, someone is there, and they are going to break themselves before they break you. You can't teach co-dependence like that just anywhere. Teamwork, trust, perseverance, you learn that just in the first day you learn to do a prep.

You learn to love people that you never dreamed of loving because they become your family, your sisters, your brothers, the people who occasionally punch you in the nose doing a basket, or the ones who (tee hee) fart in your face while you're backspotting them. It happens. We all know. You share secrets, jokes, tears, sometimes blood, bruise stories, memories, and experiences that no one else has and you learn to support these people, trust in these people, to work with these people and help them out, no matter what, on the mat or off. It's a transformative experience for many young girls and boys.

And just like many other extracurriculars, cheerleading helps people find their voice. Literally and
Oroville High School Football Cheer
figuratively. As an assistant coach, the other coaches and I pride ourselves on the fact that we teach our girls attitude, we teach them sass, we teach them that they are the top dog just because they are themselves and we love them for it. We let them be who they are and help them to excel in ways they never dreamed imaginable just because we believe in them. As a result, we see these young girls and boys who sometimes come to us very shy and very reserved, turn into outspoken confident young men and women who are having the time of their lives. By doing something that teaches you to love yourself, confidence is usually achieved.

2Hott Elite All Star Cheer
Cheerleading puts out, dedicated, driven, and goal-oriented human beings. Every practice, every game, every competition these girls and boys walk in thinking about something they need to achieve for the day. Whether it's "today is the day we learn a full down" or "tonight we need to out cheer our rival school because it's the bell game" or "today we need to hit all seven of our stunts to place first"
they always have something in mind, that together with their coaches, they are setting out to achieve. And this all starts at a young age for a lot of athletes in cheer. So by the time they have aged out of competitive cheer, they have learned to seek a new challenge every day, to not be satisfied with the progression of yesterday, because even though that was good, there is more to be done. These are the type of people we want in the work force, these are the types of adults who get things done in the world. Who make laws, who pass bills, who teach your future children, who just get out there and get stuff done, because they learned these super important lessons as a high school athlete.

The lessons I learned as a cheerleader have stayed with me as an adult - especially because I now
Omak High School Football Cheer
coach a group of wonderful girls who I get to help teach these lessons to. But if you're ever asking yourself if you should be a cheerleader, look past all that negative hype that we work to erase. Know that if you become a cheerleader, you're going to gain a family. You're going to learn skills that will help you for the rest of your life, and you're going to love every second of it. If something is in your heart, just do it. We can't wait to see you.

CTL Tidal Waves 2016





This post is dedicated to all of my cheer squads and coaches, past, present and future. You all continue to shape my life into something wonderful and I love you so much. See you on the mat. 

Pictured: The squads I currently coach. AKA my heart and soul.
Omak High School Football Cheer 2015

Friday, June 3, 2016

Self-Help.

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When I was younger, I continually broke down into tears over seemingly little things. Having to do the laundry when I was tired, having someone be angry at me, or just feeling like I was wrong. I often felt unloved and out of place, and attempted to be the center of everyone's world, I think as a result of feeling abandoned by my parents. I had incredible mood swings, with seemingly small things sending me from perfectly happy to raging mad, like the time I was planning for my 16th birthday party and my friends put mayonnaise on my sandwiches. I left after yelling at everyone and went outside, and filled by guilt, started crying. Then I felt stupid for crying so much, and cried so more.

For a long while many people told me that my mood swings and constant crying were a result of being spoiled by my grandparents. I was told that being sad for no reason was "stupid" and that I needed to "grow up". Inwardly, I always felt dejected, and like I would never go anywhere in life, a sentiment that was echoed to me by my mother once, but always stayed with me.

Once I became an adult this consistent "sadness" manifested itself in me sleeping all day, and shirking off responsibility. I get sick often, and got fired from a job that paid on the rent on my first ever apartment, I sign to me that I couldn't succeed on anything I tried. This came after me having to leave college, moving in with my family, moving out, and moving into an apartment in Spokane, only to end up fighting with one of my roommates over a huge misunderstanding, and because she was a friend that I ended up losing, I spiraled into a pit of despair of that moving back in with my family didn't help.

I felt like a fool, a failure. I tried to be happy and enjoy life, but for some reason I couldn't be happy. I moved in with a person I trusted, moving away from my family once again, and they ended up being not only verbally abusive, but emotionally, and occasionally physically abusive as well. But I felt I deserved it somehow. Because I was a failure and never would achieve anything, this house, with this horrible person would be the best I would ever get. I spent hours, even days laying in bed, sleeping, crying, not eating, not accomplishing or trying to accomplish anything.

Again, all these behaviors, which should have been a sign that I was deeply unhappy and even unhealthy, were treated as me being spoiled, a princess, that I needed to grow up. So I moved out.

For a while after moving in with some very close friends, I was happy. They had a baby who I loved, we all got along, I had a job that paid the bills, I was in a show as the lead, and I went to New York with money that I saved up. But occasionally calls from my family, or interactions with my old housemate, or even negative experiences at rehearsal would send me spiraling into hours of me feeling useless, unlovable, not worthy, and an unnecessary addition to the planet.

But then I got with a boy, I think out of a need to feel something for someone, and to have someone value me as a human and tell me I was worthwhile, and I ended up moving out of this place where I felt mostly happy. While he never mistreated me, I knew that he wasn't right for me, and I ended up breaking up with him, and leaving. Out of hurt, he sent me these horrible text messages calling me such evil things, that I couldn't help but believe. Because I had used him to feel good, and this was the payment for it. I deserved to feel bad because I was a bad person, and this new boy that I was with was going to figure that out and leave me as well. I felt so awful. But I had spent so many years hearing people telling me that feeling bad was me being spoiled and acting out, that I had no way to clearly evaluate all the negative stuff I was feeling. I figured that I was probably just being a princess again, and no one would care about how awful I was feeling.

So, after standing on the edge of the cliff for what felt like years, and being constantly nagged at by this hurting boy telling me how awful I am, I decided it was the end. I was done hurting, and no one needed my bratty self to bring them down or make them feel bad. Crying so hard I could barely breathe, I swallowed 3/4 of a bottle of ibuprofen. I told the guy who was harassing me that he had won, I wasn't going to be around anymore, and he wouldn't have to watch me be happy with someone else.

But then Cory found me and he wanted to know what was happening. What had I done. Why I was feeling so sick. So, figuring it was too late, I told him. Obviously it wasn't, and he took me to the ER to have my stomach pumped. Now apparently ibuprofen won't kill you, but it can cause a lot of damage to your insides. And it made me feel awful. Looking at Cory who was so worried about me, I realized I didn't want to die. I just wanted to feel better. I didn't want to be so sad. And then, after having my stomach pumped, I realized that I would never try to do anything so stupid ever again.

Soon after, I quit my job, and laid in bed for a month, maybe two. I forgot. It was a dark time. I slept all day, not wanting to eat, not wanting to get another job, not wanting to achieve anything. I hated everything. I hated myself. Everything was awful. I would just lay in bed and cry and sleep, and try to connect with my boyfriend, but cry when he get understandably irritated by my neediness.

I knew in my heart I was depressed, but I was embarrassed by that fact. I didn't want to be seen as someone who was crazy, or someone who was less than anyone else. I didn't want to have to tell people I was depressed and see them give me that look you give someone when you're trying to empathize or sympathize. I didn't want to be pitied, I wanted to be strong.

So I told myself to "get over it" like so many others had said before, and got a job. I love my job. I was happy there, and getting to a place where I was happy with myself and my life again. When bad feelings surfaced, I would cover them up with a smile, accept more hours at work to keep my mind off of it, and fill up all my free time. Soon I was so booked up with stuff to keep me busy, and in my mind, happy, that I exhausted myself.

I started to lose joy in anything that made me happy before. I didn't want to do theatre anymore, I didn't want to paint, thinking about cheerleading made me nauseous. I never felt hungry, I had no motivation, and I couldn't bear the thought of going to work when I felt this horrible. I felt like I was at the edge of the cliff again. I had to get help. I went to OBHC, but the process to get to see a counselor when you're not an immediate danger to yourself is mildly ridiculous. But after urging from my boss, I went to my medical doctor, who, after hearing just a partial list of my symptoms, confirmed I was depressed.

It was a long and horrible process that I just got help with, literally two weeks ago. So many people supported me along the way, and offered help, and comforting words that I ignored out of fear. I want to thank you all.

And I want to urge anyone who feels like they may be depressed, or have some other type of mental illness, get help. Don't wait. There is so much shit and so many stereotypes when it comes to mental illnesses that it can be scary. Ignore all that stuff, ignore anyone who tries to downplay what you're feeling, and get help. You'll thank yourself later on. This life is so beautiful, it's a shame that we would even waste part of it not feeling like our best selves.


Alexis Olmstead is a 20something bank teller living and working out of Okanogan County. She's avidly working to get her life back to normal after being diagnosed with depression, and going back to enjoying everything about her life. In her spare time she coaches cheer, acts, sings, and rambles on her blog. For more of this, that, and the other thing, check back sporadically. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

To The Girl Who Called Me Crazy And Then Pretended It Was A Joke.

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You thought you were being funny. You thought you were making a joke, and probably that I wouldn't see it, because it was on my boyfriends wall and not mine. But you forgot, he's my boyfriend. I tend to go on his Facebook a lot. So here's the thing. It wasn't a joke, and it wasn't funny. It was hurtful. Really hurtful.

My whole life I have struggled with anxiety and what I suspect is probably depression. I have spent my whole life thinking I am crazy because I've always felt wrong in relation to every one else. I can't go in to Walmart when its busy and I routinely call out of social events because I realize I won't know most of the people there. I lay in bed for days and don't do anything because my motivation no longer exists, and I spent two months over the summer believing I was a worthless waste of space. I have spent days, months, years, hating myself because of who I am and where I came from. I have convinced myself that I am a failure in every sense of the word for every reason.

When you posted what seemed like a harmless "inside joke" between you and my boyfriend (that he has no recollection of) on his wall, you didn't realize what you were doing. You didn't realize that you were pouring salt in every self-inflicted wound I have ever given myself. You didn't realize that I would sit alone and wonder if everyone else can see my crazy, too. That I would beat myself up for coming to see Cory at work, for calling him on his lunch, for asking him to come home and hang out with me instead of doing other stuff. Because how could you know? Why would you know that I am terrified of being so insane that my boyfriend leaves me? He wouldn't tell you that, I wouldn't tell you that, I don't tell most people that. Until now it has been a secret that I carry around, weighing me down.

And then, and then you said that even if it was a joke between you two he wouldn't tell me? Let me tell you something. I haven't kept a secret from my boyfriend since the day we met. A month after we started dating he was sitting next to me while I got my stomach pumped. He has had to force me to get out of bed and do day to day things like brush my teeth and comb my hair because I won't do it if I feel low enough. I have seen him cry, I have listened to his every fear and hope, and he has done the same for me. There are things about him that he has told me that no one in this world knows. We don't keep things from each other. So even if you did have an inside joke, if I asked him about it, he would tell me. Let me remind you that you're not special to him. You mean nothing, and let me emphasize the nothing here, to him . You are an insignificant passing thought that we laugh at over the course of the day. You have nothing with him, and mean nothing to him, so why you would think that one of your jokes would ever be special enough to keep from me, I do not know.

I know that you'll never see this post because you blocked me on Facebook for calling you out about this whole ordeal. So maybe I am crazy. Crazy for putting this effort out into the universe to respond. But if I've learned anything, it is to always speak up for yourself, even if no one hears you.

I care about myself enough to tell you and the world that I am not crazy. And my boyfriend will never make me crazy. I love him, he loves me, you remain irrelevant.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

For the Love Of Being a Mess.

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As mentioned many times before, I always figured I would have it all figured out by now. I had this pre-made road map for my life that planned all out. And since that plan kind of went to shit, I have been lamenting my ruination.

But recently I have changed my tune. It is time to embrace not having it all together. It is time to embrace taking longer to figure stuff out about myself. It is time to realize that I am not a failure for not making Plan A work.

So this is me, celebrating the fact that I am a 22 year old and I am a mess 95% of the time. I go out on nights when I shouldn't and stay out way too late. I dance like a fool and drink too much and don't hydrate enough. I procrastinate important things, like taking care of myself, in favor of having fun, or hanging out with friends, or sleeping on the couch snuggling with my cat.

Many times I buy clothes and not groceries, or laundry soap, or video games, or coffee. Usually coffee. I put a lot of importance on theatre and cheer and leave my boyfriend out in the cold sometimes. Then I get angry when he says he doesn't feel important. But that's not his fault, because I fill my time with all this crazy stuff like three cheer squads at once and come home to eat and sleep.

I have not gone back to college, despite promising myself only one year off, and I haven't left Omak, even though I swear every calendar year that it is going to happen. I  once saved a ton of money that could have paid for a quarter at WVC, and went to DC and NYC instead.

I do not regret any decisions that I have made thus far. I have learned so much about myself while I've been on this crazy journey that I can't imagine my life being any different and being this happy. I
don't have my dream job, and I'm not in my dream home with my dream guy, but I've got the guy so I'm like a third of the way there.

What I've recently realized I guess, is that I don't need to change myself. I know that I should go back to school, and move away and become successful. But I also know that I am so happy right now, going out and dancing with my friends until my feet ache, and singing along until my voice goes raw. I love that three nights a week I go to rehearsal and get irritated, get happy, get enriched and come home exhausted. I love that all my friends think its ridiculous that I love Bloody Mary's before midnight and after brunch. Point being, I have a GREAT life. So why do I constantly convince myself that it is anything but?

Let's learn to embrace our messy lives, full of mistakes and lessons learned, sometimes the hard way, with laughter and joy and open arms. Here's to being a 20 something who doesn't have it together. May we eventually figure it out.

Monday, March 7, 2016

I Miss You

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I miss my sister so much. And I can't escape it. I thought I was okay, but its almost been three years and it still hurts every time I hear her name. And every day she's in some flashback post on my Facebook timeline, and holy shit it hurts like hell.

I thought that I could heal. It feels like this is all some bad dream. But it isn't I'm still here on my couch crying over her pictures and she still isn't here, and she's still gone, and she still isn't coming back. And how is that fair? She said she would always be here. She PROMISED. She promised. And she's not here. You can't just leave people. You CAN'T. You're not supposed to. What am I supposed to do with myself now that she's not here? I've been asking myself that for three fucking years.

If Carissa was here today would she be proud of me? Would she still see value in me? I know she would. I hope she would. She always told me how proud she was of me, just for being me. She never forgot to call me on my birthday. We always got each other presents, and made each other stupid cards. One time we quit talking for two months and after we worked everything out, we cried. Because you don't just stop talking to the one person who will never leave your side. It hurts too much.

I spent my summers with her, laughing until we cried, crying until we started laughing, laying in a shared bedroom laughing about boys, about life, about how dumb some people just are. I lived vicariously through the situations she got herself into, and she tried to help me be less socially awkward. And you know something? She gave the best hugs. And when she was just being herself, she was so funny. So funny. She had a song for every situation, and a smile that lit up a room. She was never afraid to just be weird with me, or laugh with me, or wrestle me for a pair of sandals. She came to all my plays, and I helped her with homework so she could graduate. And I was so proud of her. I have never been more proud of someone than when I watched her get her diploma. That's my friend, that's my friend who could have slipped through the cracks and she didn't. She fought for this. And she fucking did it.

I never pictured a life without Carissa in it. She gave me the greatest five years I could possibly imagine. And I would do almost anything to be able to see her one more time. To hold her and hear her laugh, and hear about her day, watch her tell a story, see her come through the door with her pink laptop. There was so much I wanted to do with her. And now. Now I never will. And that hurts, it hurts so god damn bad.

The One, The Only, The Real CA <3

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Heavy

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I remember the first time I felt ugly. It was in the eighth grade when a girl I went to school with called me "anorexic". I knew I was thin. I knew I was  too thin, in fact. But it hurt. Up until that day no one had made me feel wrong for being so small, I was treated like any other normal child. My grandparents fed me plenty whenever I went to visit and my mom didn't really say anything about my malnourished body. It is true that I was sickly thin. When I bent over you could see every bone in my back, my knees and elbows jutted out uncomfortably, and a strong wind knocked me over.


But I was comfortable in the skin I was in. Until one day, for no reason, a girl threw out a word in my direction that would change how I saw myself. Every time someone pointed out how skinny I was, I took it as a personal affront to my being, even if they were actively trying to compliment me. When someone told me "wow, you're so in shape, I wish I could be as thin as you" I heard "you look wrong. Why are you so small? There's something wrong with you". I felt like my arms and legs were too lanky, my body too awkward.

And then, after I no longer lived with my mother, I gained weight. I wasn't being starved, I was no longer malnourished, and I gained weight and began to look like a normal teenager again. And guess what? People had a ton of stuff to say about that, as well. Suddenly there was a lot of questions about when I gained so much weight, comments about how big I had gotten, and sly remarks and suggestions that maybe I should lay off the potato chips and candy. Do you know how much I like candy? SO MUCH. But all these comments hurt, too. Because before, I was too skinny. Now, at a normal weight I was too big? I was a size five through most of high school and saw myself as the dumpy, fat, friend. I never felt as pretty as my other friends. I felt unwanted, insufficient. Because no one could leave me alone when it came to my weight.

And even now, as a grown woman, who I feel should be allowed to live my life in peace without worrying about body shaming, I still hear comments on my weight. Comments from people wondering if I should stop eating this or that, if I should exercise more, if I should really be wearing that certain thing with the way my body looks. None of those comments help. Those comments in fact only hurt my self-esteem.

So for years, on top of all the other things I've had to worry about, I also had to carry around this weird self hatred. I preached body confidence and looked in the mirror and hated my own reflection. Sometimes, I still do. And like I said, it started with a girl in the eighth grade making a nasty remark that she probably couldn't remember today if she tried. What you say today will affect someone for the rest of their life. Don't forget that.

It is no one's business how much I weigh, or what I look like, unless I'm dancing naked on main
street, and then the main concern would be public nudity, not the fact that I have a few extra rolls that I have been lamenting for the past year. Being curvy does not equate to being unhealthy. Having cellulite does not mean someone is over weight. Being lanky does not mean someone is anorexic. And what someone else's body looks like is none of your damn business. You know what is your business? Your body. And your life. And your character. It is entirely none of your business what I look like and how much I weigh, because I have a good heart (literally and figuratively!) so stop talking about it like it matters! Let me live my taco bell loving, diet failing body, and I'll afford you the same respect.

"Your body be usable
Your body be suitable
Your body beautiful
You don't need anything different"
-Watsky, "Drunk Text Message to God"


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Today.

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Today I spent 20 minutes staring blankly at myself in the mirror, convincing my reflection that even if the lady at the doctors office told me my BMI is too high I'm still worth something to someone. I'm still pretty. I'm still every bit as funny and interesting and kind and a good person as I was two years ago.

Today I spent thirty minutes crying about the balance in my bank account. Because after skimping, and saving, and trying and clawing and climbing up a never ending mountain, its still not enough. And somehow that is always my fault. I don't spend all the money. But I'm blamed for all the things we can't afford.

Today I spent an hour crying because I feel unimportant again. I feel small again. I feel like a girl trapped in a room, trying to make herself smaller and smaller so that she disappears. This isn't a new feeling. This feeling creeps up on me every few months, right when my good mood is in full swing. I go from standing tall, proud of everything that I am, and suddenly I am crumbling. I fall apart.

And right now I'm falling apart. I hate being an adult. I hate being alone. I hate feeling like I'm screaming and waving my arms and no one notices me.

I AM important.
I AM strong.
I AM an adult.
I AM good enough.
I AM NOT worthless.
I LOVE MYSELF.

I think.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

.

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The worst thing that anyone ever called me was "anorexic". Not because there is anything inherently wrong with being a person with a serious disease, but because a girl took it upon herself to eliminate every other thing that mattered about me and judge me entirely on the way my body looked. And if you're wondering, yes. I was tiny.

My bones jutted out at odd angles, my head appeared too big for my body and I was barely there. But I wasn't anorexic. I was malnourished. I was the girl who ate scraps off of everyone else's plates because she wasn't fed enough. I was the girl who got to grandma's house on the weekend and ate too fast, then felt sick. I was the girl who tried to hide lunchroom food in her locker and take it home so she would have food for dinner. It worked until a chocolate pudding exploded in my backpack and I got in trouble.

In my life I have become judgmental and harshly critical of others. I cannot decide where this trait came from, because I was the victim of endless criticism from my peers growing up, and I promised myself I would never become the mean girl. But I did. And I wrestle with that endlessly. As much as I try to change and be understanding, there is a part of me that still sits there and picks people apart.

However, I don't know where this judgement is leading me. As soon as I say something negative about someone, whether they be a stranger or an acquaintance, my mind starts to immediately try to justify why they may be the way they are. Just as I was too thin because my mother barely fed me, the person who is chronically late for appointments may be working, or having to find care for their child, or dealing with a crisis at home. And then I sit there and beat myself up for picking on someone else for something they can't actually control. So is being judgmental a weird form of self-torture for me? Is it my brains way of reminding itself that no matter what, I'm still just that little girl on highway 7 who wonders what it would be like to eat a full meal for once?

I don't know.

For so long I have tried to leave my past self in the past. But if I want to grow as a person, isn't it important to embrace what happened to me as a child and learn from it and become stronger from it? I have never thought of being an abuse survivor as a hindrance of any sort, but I have come to realize that maybe it is. In trying to ignore every bad thing that ever happened to me, I have ignored a piece of myself and become the exact type of person who aided in causing me so much grief in my childhood.

I'm not a bad person by any means. Sometimes I'm just not a NICE person. And that sucks to come to terms with, because admitting fault is never fun. But I am here, flaws, and scars, and everything, ready to embrace a better self.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To My Coaches, Teachers, and Directors -

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This weekend I watched a group of kids that I helped coach nail a routine we had been working on for two months but then had to rewrite and relearn ten minutes before performance time. They stressed with us, had a brief moment of doubt, but then went on to the mat and took third place with a routine that was nothing less than stellar. I was so happy for them overcoming what must have seemed like a major hurdle for a group of 8-10 year olds that I cried. And so did my head coach, and their parents. That pride was unlike anything else I had ever felt before. I felt so happy my heart melted and I couldn't hold back my emotions. It was too great. And I realized, that that feeling, that insane pride and emotion watching my athletes succeed, was why everything that might not have been so great about the whole experience was SO worth it.

But then, there was a secondary emotion that came through on the way home. A feeling of intense gratitude for every coach, director, or teacher who has enabled me to be successful in some way, both as a student, and as the adult I am today.

So, to all of you, I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work and dedication to a larger goal. Thank you for understanding my perfectionism, and my adolescent mood swings, and my inability to just roll with the punches. Thank you for staying late to calm my fears and teach me choreography, over, and over, and over again. Thank you for forcing me to throw my back handspring, over, and over, and over, again, even when I was crying because it just wasn't going to happen, and then celebrating with me when it finally did. Thank you for teaching me to do my eyebrows,  how to stretch my back for a scorpion, how to not look like I'm mid-stroke when I wink, how to open my mouth right when I sing, how to breathe mid-note, and how to sing, act, dance, cheer, and run through the myriad of illnesses that I somehow contracted, whether real or imagined.

I am sorry that I never appreciated how hard you were working for me specifically, until it was too late. I'm sorry that I threw temper tantrums frequently, was never satisfied with anything less than perfection, and stormed off when I didn't get something right. I'm sorry that I fought learning how to properly do an octave jump, and hated the thought of a back walkover out of a queen's chair so much that I whined to the director until it got changed. I'm sorry that I was a diva, a brat, and sometimes just plain rude.

But what I hope all of you leaders in my life know is that in my life there are so many times when I have thought of you. There are so many times when I have looked back on advice you have all given me and used it to succeed as an adult. When I have felt like quitting, I've remembered someone telling me to "prove them wrong", another person telling me to just try again, countless people telling me that nothing is perfect the first time. And some of you are still coaching me, teaching me, and having your lessons finally hit home after all these years.

So to the countless people in my life who have held one of these roles in my life, thank you so much for everything you have ever done for me and continue to do for me in my life. Out of all the people in the universe, I was lucky to be blessed with your presence and instruction.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January Has Come Again

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Well, here we are, back in January again, collectively amazed that it is 2016. Time flies. I keep seeing all of these posts about where people went and what they did in 2015, celebrating their awesomeness, or their new children, or their successes and lamenting the losses, the depressions, the sad times. While I normally start each year hopeful and ready for anything, this year I am just - complacent?

I know that I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to in 2015. I didn't go back to school, or learn a back handspring, and sadly still can't play guitar. I didn't participate in NaNoWriMo (who has the time?) and I still eat fast food. I also didn't leave the country, move out of Omak, or get glasses. But you wanna know what I did do?

I learned to drive. I bought my own DSLR camera and booked a wedding. I didn't move out of Omak, but I moved in with the boy who may or may not be the love of my life. I was in a show, worked backstage for another show, and did hair and makeup and emergency crochet work for a third show, then auditioned for a small role for a show that starts rehearsing in February. I got a cat. I learned the joy of painting. I quit my job and got a new one that makes me happy. I attempted to get three separate freelance jobs and none panned out, but I got replies to all of my inquiries that were positive in that they liked my writing but negative in that I didn't get an offer. I went to my little brothers football games, and watched my other little brothers face light up when I let him use a DSLR camera for the first time. I repaired relationships, I may have destroyed a couple of relationships, I quit caring about people who don't care about me, and I went back to embracing my face sans makeup. I started my own photography website, I opened a savings account and it has money in it. I figured out budgeting (in like, October, but still). I learned the value of my own life and the people in it. I figured out how to take a compliment, and how to stand up for myself. I broke up with two separate people and realized when your gut says "don't", you probably should listen. I went to a wedding, I met babies, I took newborn photos and held some of the sweetest babies I've ever met (even if one of them cries whenever I hold her and her mother is in the room. Apparently that's normal, though?) I laughed, I cried, a lot, 85% percent of the time because I get emotionally invested in tv shows, and I got evacuated from my house because a fire came a little too close.

I learned so much about who I am, and what I want, and I learned that I am learning. I don't have it figured out, and thats okay, because I'm 22. I have a road I want to travel down, and I may be stalled out at the crossroads or maybe stuck in a ditch going the opposite direction, but I learned that if I have faith in myself I can accomplish anything. So I've decided to retire my yearly goal list. Because there may be things I hope to accomplish every year, but I feel like lists and resolutions are sometimes limiting. So this year (okay, one goal) I will live unabashedly. I will embrace everything with an open mind and heart. I will be open to adventure, new experiences, and new ways of going through life, and I will continue to work toward the Alexis M. Olmstead I've always wanted to be, to become my own "goals". Also, I will blog more.

Here's to the passing of another year and the beginning of a new one. Thanks for sticking with me through it all.