Conquering the Gremlins The secret, year-long process.

I have been trying to write this for weeks. Only because it feels worth sharing. Much of this is what I was maybe trying to convey in my earlier post. Granted, it feels a bit like I’ve been sleepwalking and just opened my eyes; only to find myself totally nude in the center of Market Street. That’s to say: This is embarrassing and definitely makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

Everyone has their little somethings that they work hard to keep tucked below the surface. They’re not always ticks and twitches or pet peeves and the deepest and darkest of secrets. Sometimes they’re relatively little things that only feel magnified or critical when they’re brought to light or aggravated. Mine has always been my struggle with depression and anxiety — plus managing the symptoms and side effects that come along with both. I call the symptoms my “Gremlins” after, of course, the mischievous creatures in the 1984 movie. They’re the masters of my internal mayhem; the voices that try to convince me I’m never smart enough, stylish enough, funny enough, or good enough. They’re never up to any good.

Anyway, I wear a lot of hats — from designer to creative director, publicist, event planner and whatever else someone might need of me — but none of them cater to a rainy day on the personality front and none of those hats wear well tucked deep below the downe comforter of my bed for weeks at a time. (Where I’d, sometimes, rather be.) These hats do, however, require a level of confidence and fearlessness when you wear them; you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself when you look ridiculous and able to “check” yourself when things seem a little off — and boyyy had things seem a little off.

This time last year I did end up “checking myself” when I noticed something’s weren’t quite right. I thought to myself, “It’s getting bad again.” I was drinking too much, smoking too much, sleeping 10-12 hours per-week, and beginning the classic ritual of pushing people away. It just so happened I was booked to start seeing a new primary care doctor and, together, we agreed that additional help might not necessarily be a bad thing. (Is help ever, really a bad thing?) That very same day I walked across town and [kind of reluctantly] checked myself into a highly-recommended Intensive Outpatient Program specializing in behavioral health issues.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with therapy. I’ve been in-and-out of various talk therapies ever since my first attempt at suicide, when I was twelve years old. This was, however, the first time I had felt an “all in” commitment to dealing with my issues. It has been difficult at times to confront or make peace with the things that have plagued me or the certain aspects of my life that I have struggled to face or get over in the last decade or so, but that underlying sense, that someone (albeit someone you’re paying) is finally there for you, is actually really refreshing. Five stars. I’d highly recommend it.

I think the hardest (read: best) part of all of this, and what I really want to talk about, is coming to terms with what you *really* want, what you *really* need, and how you’re *really* (like, really really) going to get it. (Spoiler: It doesn’t include Superman, Fairy Godmothers, or a trip down an easy path.) It’s one of the most important acts of self discovery you could ever dive into in a lifetime and — believe it or not — many people won’t. Please, don’t be one of those people.

Through the process of rumbling with my Gremlins, I have learned a heck of a lot…

I have learned there is a global misconception about selfishness and like everything else it all starts with the way we define it. Much of our popular culture and mainstream media portrays selfishness as an imbalanced way of living; lacking the consideration of others; concerned with only your own profit or pleasure. But, that’s not always the case. I’ve learned it’s possible to be selfish in a good way. It’s possible to prioritize yourself both personally and professionally and still be there for others. You might not be there in the way in which they want you to be there but that begs the question: Is it really your problem, or are you making it your problem? Sure this can lead to disappointment but disappointment, as we know it, is only the result of what happens when your wants and needs don’t immediately align with the wants and needs of those in question.

I have also learned to lead with intention and to get crystal clear on all intentions, with myself, before diving head first into anything, anymore. I’ve learned to set boundaries and that respecting those boundaries doesn’t always leave others feeling a sense of neglect or disrespect rather rather a mutual, oppositional feeling of each. I have learned that boundaries break through the barriers of our lives and that they’re neither professional or familiar, but personal and sacrosanct. I have learned that it’s not always necessary to be “on” and mindful of always showing the best of yourself; the things you think people *want* to see. It’s okay to lean into vulnerability through feeling and grief; they’re the things people *need* to see.

Most importantly, through all of this work, I have learned that the opinions of “those who don’t matter” don’t matter at all. That’s not to say any person is less than or greater than any other individual as we all know for sure we’re entirely equal. (Or, should be. But, that’s another post.) It’s to say that not every energy or life force is a perfect match for your own; there will be forces (read: people) throughout your life that don’t mix or play well with yours, and that is perfectly okay. The good news is that energy can change and there’s always a chance for a better match in due time.

I may not be exactly where I want to be, the Gremlins might not be totally tamed, and there may still another twelve months on this journey of my own winding road less traveled (read: “the program”). But, I am growing more and more confident that I might actually, finally reach the destination ahead. It’s almost an artform but I’ve seen a way to show respect and lean into our inherent humanitarian connection without sacrificing all of yourself all of the time. That’s the focus. For now.

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