True Life: I'm Fucking Depressed and This is How I Deal With It

I'm going to be honest, I've had kind of a shitty past couple of weeks since getting back from San Francisco. Not a day has gone by where I haven't had to choke back tears for one reason or another - because of the state of my relationships, because of the uncertainty of my future, because of Humans of New York, etc. - almost everything has been triggering, even the small, mundane moments of everyday life.

This has been a common trend in my life since moving to LA. Every time I go to San Francisco I'm reminded that I have friends, that I have a full life, that I have interests and hobbies and people who love me, and I feel great. But then I return to LA and slink into this sneaky depression where I don't leave my apartment, don't put on makeup, and don't talk to other humans IRL for days at a time.

I've written about my depression a few times before - here and here and here. It's just something that I struggle with from time to time and is often triggered by a return trip from San Francisco back to LA. But it's strange, because unlike how I felt a year or two ago, I actually don't hate LA anymore. I have friends (I just counted on my fingers and it's at least 10!), I'm no longer terrified of driving in traffic or parallel parking, and I have a pretty solid grasp on the makeup of LA and what neighborhoods I love and what neighborhoods to avoid. I'm even a regular at a few places! So it catches me off guard when I find myself falling into old habits of feeling sorry for myself.  

While my natural equilibrium errs on the sadder, introspective side, generally speaking I'm also a pretty overconfident asshole. And because I would much rather spend my time thinking highly of myself than sorry for myself, I've gotten better when it comes to identifying the stages of my depression and taking active measures to keep it from escalating. Today is the first day in weeks where I've felt a bit of lightness, so I thought I'd share some of the activities that help me combat my depression when it arises.

Find new ways to feel productive.

A year ago for me this meant making my bed first thing in the morning. Today it means getting out of bed before 7:30 and going to a cafe to work before noon. Cleaning my room, purging my closet, taking Jojo on walks, cooking and spending a little time on my hobbies every week (like blogging!) also help me feel productive. I still have my bad days where I don't get out of bed until 10 and sit on my couch pretending to work while actually dicking around on the internet until I notice it's almost 5pm and my Fitbit says I've only taken 1,000 steps and where did my fucking day go, but those days also have the unintended effect of signaling when I'm slipping. So they serve a purpose in my life - and that purpose is to push me to get the fuck up and out of my apartment. 

I've mentioned this before, but I've also started volunteering weekly for a literacy nonprofit called 826LA. Tutoring terrifies me - mostly because teenagers terrify me, I've never tutored before, and because I worry that I'm accidentally going to say some variation of the word "fuck" to a 12-year old, but I'm now 2 weeks in and have found the experience extremely rewarding. Yesterday I participated in an in-school volunteering session where I gave feedback to 10th graders on their personal narrative first drafts, and it was awesome hearing these kids' stories and remembering what it was like to be 15 and discovering your writing voice.

Not having a conventional full-time job sometimes makes it difficult for me to feel like I'm accomplishing something tangible everyday, but having these tutoring sessions to look forward to and working with these kids has helped me feel like I'm contributing something to the world, however small. 


Get to the gym.

In addition to going to yoga regularly, I've also started lifting weights on a regular basis, which has been a pretty cool addition to my exercise routine. Aside from the obvious benefit that exercise releases dopamine aka happy thoughts, working out gives me a satisfying sense of accomplishment when I outdo myself - whether by holding a challenging yoga arm balance better than I did before or doing more assisted chin-ups. Something about competing against myself (and ok let's just be real, competing against others too - told you I'm an asshole) helps me get out of my own head and focus on my achievements instead of feeling sad about the things that are absent from my life. 


Don't underestimate the power of human interaction (and attention).

I've always prided myself on my independence and ability to enjoy time alone, but if I go more than 2 or 3 days without having a real life face-to-face conversation with another person, I'm almost guaranteed to go into full depression mode. One thing that I've learned since working remotely is that it's surprisingly easy to feel totally invisible when you're not required to go into an office everyday. And when you feel invisible, you feel like nothing fucking matters because no one's paying attention to you and who cares if you waste hours playing Minesweeper and don't shower for 3 days because no one will know anyway. It's not the best kind of existence to live. 

Last year one of my New Year's resolutions was to be better at following through, and as a result I've since learned how to nurture new and old friendships more effectively than before. These friendships have been essential at maintaining my happiness levels and sanity post breakup and post leaving my cushy job that conveniently brought me to San Francisco on a monthly basis, and it would be remiss to not credit my amazing, wonderful friends for bringing me out of the throes of depression, whether they know that they're even doing so or not. 

On a smaller level, it's also great working out of cafes if only for the brief conversations I have with a cashier or the chance encounters with other patrons. These small interactions are impactful at reminding me that yes, I'm still here. Yes, people still see me. And no, I'm not a troll living under a bridge, despite how I may feel on my more haggard days. 


Go outside and walk it off.

One of the advantages of having a dog is that it forces me to get outside at least a few times a day. Walking Jojo is almost meditative - there's just something therapeutic about breathing in the crisp, morning air, feeling the sun on my skin, and walking without any predetermined destination in mind. It also disconnects me from my phone and my life, however briefly. 


Talk about it. 

Despite the many inspirational think pieces out there refuting the idea that emotions are signs of weakness, for some reason people are still hardwired to believe that confidence and happiness are the only acceptable emotions to express. And with social media curating only the best parts of our lives, it can be easy to feel like you're the only person in your network who doesn't have their shit together. 

But you are allowed to feel the way you feel. Too often we allow ourselves to bottle everything up, expecting these feelings to one day dissipate and resolve themselves, which of course never happens. Instead they take root, until you eventually internalize all of this negative energy and assume it as your identity. i.e. I feel shitty because I'm a shitty person doing shit with my life.

I've found that the more honest I am with myself and with others about how I'm feeling, the better equipped we all are at supporting each other in our times of need. I no longer say I'm ok when friends ask how I've been and I haven't been ok. I keep it real now. And I've been pleased to discover that more often than not, people will return blunt honesty with honesty. I can't tell you how many times I've told someone that I've been feeling shitty and sad and have had them respond something to the effect of, "omg me too I don't know what I'm doing with my life we should hang out more," and I'm like cool ok and boom, nurture the shit out of that friendship. 

No one is immune to feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty and depression. They're feelings we all suffer, but often more quietly than I think is necessary.

Consider this my commitment to continue being honest with myself, and with you. The last couple of weeks have been challenging for me, but I'm slowly doing better and know this too shall pass. 

This is February.

Spent the past two weekends gallivanting around Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Some pictures below. 

So far this year I've gone on a string of somewhat spontaneous trips, and it's been fun - booking last minute plane tickets, Airbnbs, restaurant reservations, etc. Combined with great company, I've dined well, drank well, and danced my way through several weekends. 

Here's to hoping this trend continues. 

February 2017 / April 2003: On Love

April 2003

The Perfect Guy

  • captivating eyes (hey they are the windows to the soul right)
  • nice hair (hasn't that always been the case?)
  • accent's a plus ( ^_^ ) > they're just so hot
  • deep voice (I don't kno why but its just hot) 
  • hot (expecting that weren't you) 
  • taller than me (heh which shouldn't be too hard) 
  • cute smile (I have nothing cute & witty to say) 

... ok now that we've gotten past the shallow stuff, lets go a bit uh...wutever shall we?...

  • intelligent (don't wanna talk to a dumbass now do we)
  • sensitive (not a girly girl though) 
  • patient (cuz I can be such a bitch)
  • sarcastic (because we're cool)
  • morally...uh...righteous (A.K.A. naughty boys = BAD) 
  • talented (singing, dancing, acting WUTEVER just be good at something mmmk?)
  • common interests (...DUH!) ...although ya kno opposites attract. *wink*
  • romantic/sweet (*sigh* guys are so much hotter like that)
  • & for lack of a better word - NICE. (Or else someone's in for a bitch slappin) 

February 2017

Love seemed a lot simpler when I was a kid. Elusive, but simpler. 

When I was younger, relationships seemed difficult only because it seemed impossible for two people to like each other at the exact same time. Crushes were fleeting, and in my old journals, I would often lament how unfortunate it was that my old crushes would reciprocate only after I was over it. If only our attractions had lined up just right, love could have taken root and blossomed around us. Love seemed only a matter of timing. 

But of course, my experience of love has not been as simple as that. 

I’ve been in the Bay Area for the last few days, celebrating the birthdays of several of my closest friends from college and from my life in San Francisco. Over the course of the weekend two of my friends ended up getting engaged, and I soon realized - here I am, suddenly surrounded by a slew of married or newly engaged couples. 

While I’m happy for and completely supportive of all of my friends as they take this next step in their relationships, I have to be honest - for a brief moment on Saturday I felt myself overcome with an unidentifiable kind of malaise. What was this feeling causing me to retreat into the bathroom with quiet tears? Was it sadness? Envy? Disappointment? Resentment? 

I’ve since had some time to think about it, and I think what I realized is that while I’m in no rush to get to the altar, these engagements were somewhat sad reminders that my life didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would. For a long time - for years - I was confident that I knew exactly what the future held for me. It was going to be me and this person and we were going to be together forever, living our happily-ever-after over Sunday coffee and trips to the farmer’s market.

I’d built a whole future in my head, and I was so sure of it - there was no alternative. So yeah, it's a little sad when faced with the reality that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect them to.

It's not always easy, but I've been building a new kind of confidence these days, and crafting an image of my future that doesn't completely revolve around another person. While I continue to have brief moments of sadness, bits of melancholy that pierce through my day, I still feel secure in the decisions that led to this point and I know that love will flourish again - it may just look different than what I imagined before. 

Battling The Impact of Bad News in the Trump Era

Every day since the Inauguration, I've woken up with a renewed sense of dread - what bad news will greet me and the rest of the world today? 

It's difficult to not feel demoralized after reading countless articles and headlines discussing the fuckery of this administration - the unabashed lying, the rumors of party infighting, the ill-crafted policies, the woeful ineptitude of the inexperienced and the power hungry leading our country - it's been only 2 weeks into the new administration and this barely scratches the surface of it. 

For a brief period of time I couldn't bring myself to read the news, and I found myself growing increasingly resentful towards what I perceived to be the source of these issues - if only Trump voters weren't so uneducated and ignorant, if only self-righteous progressives didn't waste their votes on third-party candidates, if only the media hadn't spent several decades questioning and undermining Hillary Clinton's accomplishments, if only, if only. 

Eventually I realized that I was only assigning blame because it was easier to wrap my head around than the prospect of battling an unqualified leader and corrupt government that appears at risk of turning into a dictatorship. I'm just one person. What can I do? And while it's tempting to bury my head in the sand for the next 4 years, blame and willful ignorance doesn't serve me, nor does it serve the country. 

The Atlantic recently published an interesting and terrifying piece that looks at what forces could lead to an autocracy under Donald Trump, including citizen apathy - it's a long read, but it's balanced, intelligent and thoughtful and without the sensationalist fear mongering that I've seen in similar articles. I highly recommend it. 

I also wanted to share some of the things I've been doing recently to combat my post-Inauguration blues, in case it's helpful for anyone else that's been feeling similarly overwhelmed. 

Find your elected officials and contact them to voice your support or opposition to issues you care about. 

Former Congressional staffers have shared great advice on how to make your voice heard - Emily Ellsworth shared tips and insight on how to effectively talk to your member of Congress, including attending town halls, calling their state offices, sending letters, etc. Mark Jahnke also shared a really useful FB post on how to make your calls to Congress quick and effective.

Last week one of my good friends organized a call-a-thon where we left voicemails for our Senators and House Representatives on 7 key issues, including Steve Bannon's appointment to the National Security Council, the Muslim Ban, the wall, and more. My friend prepared scripts for each issue, and when we encountered full mailboxes for our reps' DC lines, we called each of their state office lines until we found mailboxes that weren't full. 

Collectively we made over 100 calls that night, and the next day, we were pleased to see Senator Kamala Harris tweet this: 

  Her tweets were almost verbatim what we said in our voicemails! Probably a coincidence, but we're still taking credit. 

Her tweets were almost verbatim what we said in our voicemails! Probably a coincidence, but we're still taking credit. 

Click here to find your elected officials. 

Learn about your local state and city council representatives and get involved in local elections. 

I've never voted in a city or county election before, and I honestly couldn't name a single person I know that has. But there's an election coming up on March 7 in LA and you better fucking believe I will be there. Voter turnout in local elections tends to be low and skew older and more conservative, so to make a difference at the national level, we have to start getting engaged in local elections and voting for people and policies that align with our values. 

Try to follow news sources without bias.

After the election I think it became clear to a lot of liberals that we were living in media bubbles not unlike the ones enjoyed by viewers of Fox News. While many media outlets do tend to lean left, I've stopped following a lot of far left /progressive news sources and reporters (i.e. Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Shaun King, etc.) and stopped watching clips from John Oliver and Trevor Noah, because I realized that constantly feeling liberal outrage and superiority was counter productive and, again, not unlike the conservative outrage stoked by Fox News. Forbes recently published a good list of journalism brands to follow for fact-based reporting, and I've used tools like AllSides to find news sources that are a little more centered. 


While I was bored during my funemployment, I decided to look up volunteering opportunities and volunteered at L.A. Kitchen for a few weeks. It was a really awesome, uplifting experience, and since then I've been determined to set aside more time in my life to volunteer - I'm currently waiting to start volunteering with 826LA, a literacy non-profit dedicated to supporting students with their creative and expository writing skills. Finding a cause to support and volunteering is a great way to battle feelings of futility - click here to find volunteer opportunities near you. 

Donate to organizations whose missions you support.

I'm technically still jobless so I haven't been able to do this yet, but once I have a steady income again, I'm planning on setting up a monthly donation to ACLU and Planned Parenthood because they're two organizations whose missions I strongly believe in and support. Jezebel also posted a great round-up of pro-women, pro-earth and pro-immigrant organizations to donate to if you need some extra inspiration. 

Understand that changing minds takes time and patience.

I personally have never had my opinion swayed by someone yelling in my face or belittling me, and because that's what you'll often find in the comments sections of Facebook posts or news articles, I usually try to avoid them. Productive, intelligent political discourse rarely happens on social media, and because of this, I think bridging the cultural divide in America can often seem like an insurmountable task. For those that feel that way, some recommended reading:

These are just a few of the ways I've been dealing with my own demoralization and depression, but if you feel the need to take even more action, check out the Resistance Toolkit for more inspiration and advice. 

I strongly believe that the only way we can combat the adverse effects of this administration is to stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay engaged in ways that both foster open dialogue and avoid the trap of "othering." I have no doubt that the next four years will continue to get worse before they get better, but, with any luck, I have hope that the recent spate of political activism and non-violent protest will galvanize more people to show up and stay engaged. 

January 2017 / January 2001: An Introduction

Most people who know me know that I've been keeping a journal for just about 20 years. My journals inhabit a kind of sacred space in my life - they're my therapy, my outlet, my evidence that I existed, that this life happened. 

Now writing is, to some degree, an exercise in self-importance. I've amassed 28 physical journals over the years, and they're fun little reminders of my insecurities, my angst, my cruelty, my overconfidence. I sometimes wonder what will happen to these when I die, who will tend to these volumes of me. 

So I thought, fuck it. Perhaps the statue of limitations of embarrassment has run out. Perhaps it would be fun to share the bullshit thoughts of my younger selves. 

Starting today, I'm going to be blogging regularly with insights and observations from present-day me and offer, in contrast, insights and observations from child/teenage me. And, spoiler alert, child/teenage me was a little cunt. 

I've always been a bit of an over-sharer - when it comes to giving more or less details, I always choose more. But I feel like this is how I like to connect with people - it's my hope that in sharing the most vulnerable parts of me, others will feel comfortable doing the same. And couldn't we all afford to be a little less guarded and a little more vulnerable in our relationships with each other? Wouldn't that be more fun?

January 2001, in which I'm 12 and already an expert at throwing shade. 

Next topic, the spelling bee. KC was alternate and it was me, brainiac, and MMM competin. I'll cut to the exciting point. It was between me and brainiac and then I spelled "ABATEMENT" wrong. Can you believe Sarah spelled "irreplaceable" wrong? Geez! How low can you get against a 5 grader who spelled it right!

Next topic is mine n KC's movie date. Me, Andrew, KC, and Bette (who which might I add has been a b**** to us lately) all went to the movies alone...Well you won't believe what happened next. While we were waiting outside Kristel came up wid Jazz her boyfriend (lol). She's all like I knew it you ditched me I'm not gonna talk at school anymore. I was like oh ouch that hurts I don't get the priviledge to talk to a 6 grader anymore. 

Well that night I joined Calvin's class for Hip Hop. It was a lot of fun but I'm still so sore to this very moment. Eventually Kristel gave in and said sorry. She's also gonna join Calvins class. If I could barely handle it what makes her think she can do it. She sucks crap! 

Well I cut my hair. Am I a babe or what! 

- Kristine