International Women’s Day

On this #internationalwomensday, I wanted to post a picture that makes me feel powerful-as I did last year. This picture shows a lot to me, and what I’ve gone through. It was taken a few weeks after I quit my job, and to me shows the first signs of my glow and shine coming back. And while I share a lot of happiness and hope, it hasn’t been easy.

In my journey I’ve made mistakes. Hurt some on the way because I was in pain or learning when and how to communicate effectively. I’ve learned some hard lessons, and continue to do the work everyday. I’ll continue to make mistakes, and hope that those around me will understand.

I also hope to never lose the ability to speak and share my voice. My voice is powerful and helps me speak of good, bad, and change I would like to see in the world. It helps to tell my story and journey. It’s also helped to document what this last year has been and the molding of this year.

I am happier and more of proud of myself than I’ve been in months. Not everything has been roses, but I’m working on myself, my craft, working on projects, trying to better my relationships, and live my best life. And that’s more than I could have imagined 6 months ago.

May you know your glow up and shine are always there.

A letter to myself

Hi Maria,

I won’t ask how you are because you kind of already know. I am writing this letter to you as a reminder for when it gets hard to look back and see how far you’ve come.

A year ago today (technically 02/09/17, but like you haven’t gone to bed yet so whatever) you were laid off from your dream job…correction what you thought was your dream job. You could say you were blindsided. You could say it tapped into your biggest insecurities of not being enough. And probably a billion more things. But it was the biggest blessing to ever happen to you. A blessing of no longer accepting being grateful to have this job.

That is hard to say because you look back on the last year, and most will see the negative. Losing a job. Becoming sick. Starting a new job in an unhealthy environment which you later quit with no backup. However, you also look back and see a bunch of positives. In no particular order:

  1. Started running again
  2. Got an open run with Matt Damon Improv
  3. Strengthen your spirituality
  4. Performed in two sketch shows
  5. Established yourself as a solo performer
  6. Started producing, directing, and teaching
  7. Strengthen your relationship with your mom
  8. Got a roommate
  9. Became closer with friends
  10. Made amazing friends you call family
  11. Opened up more
  12. Chicago Nights
  13. Volunteered
  14. Burlesque
  15. Stopped complaining about lack of representation and did something about it
  16. Your birthday weekend/#ScorpioSeason
  17. Getting paid to travel and perform
  18. Didn’t give up

There are so many things that you are forgetting, but for all the bad times where you just wanted to sleep and not wake up…you woke up and got out of bed. And some days, that was enough. You are enough.

I know Mama, you moved to Chicago to learn improv, but in the three and half years since, you have become a butterfly goddess. Some people will judge and not understand, and that is not your problem. All you truly need to worry about is you and yours. After that, you can’t control everything.

Maria…had you’ve not gotten laid off, who knows what would have happened. Perhaps passed out on the train. Hospital. I don’t know. What I can tell you is someone was looking out for you. They knew your path was better by getting knocked down to get back up.

And yes, they’ll be days where you will want to quit. And there will be days where it’s just too much. And you’ll go through worse. But you cannot give up on yourself.

A year from now, you will be better with a dream life many are afraid to go after. Go to sleep love. You have a whole day of world domination a head of you.

Love,

Maria

Running and Butterfly Goddess

I do my best thinking on my run. Running helps me to clear my head, helps my anxiety, and helps me build my inner and outer strength.

Running is also my reflection time. Reflection on building up a better life for myself, family, and community. What I could have done better. And what are the next steps. All this and more are probably the reasons why I don’t like running with others. This is something to think about as my marathon training becomes higher mileage, but that’s a topic for another day.

After each run, I post on my Instagram about my run. It started as a way to keep people in the loop about my mental health, but it then became a place to keep me accountable and also as a part of my healing. Mental Health is often a topic we sweep under the rug. And when we become sick due to our mental health because we can’t physically see it, we often don’t give it the attention needed or admit we are sick.

It took me months before I could admit I was sick. I knew I was sick when a friend who was suppose to come out for the weekend canceled on me, and I didn’t leave my house or my bed for a weekend. This sounds normal to some, however for me, I am almost never home and if I am, I am working on art or something. But I didn’t admit or do anything about it.

The second biggest clue was when I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix in March 2017. The flight was very bumpy and we were flying through a storm. When the plane dropped, and said to myself, “I don’t want to die this sad.” I didn’t know why I thought that.

I finally admit I was sick in July 2017. My best friend was in town, and we were at a pizza place in Chicago. I just started having an anxiety attack in the middle of the restaurant and crying. My best friend was trying to help, but there was nothing she could do. My body started tensing and then I couldn’t move. We were finally able to leave, but I was at my worse.

There were other moments that followed and were in between these big three that lead to my mental break. Poor diet. Not taking of myself. Poor work environment. However, these moments stand out because it shows how it gradually got worse. I’ve always had anxiety and depression, but like many, I would move on and keep doing what I was doing. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results. Something like that.

However, I didn’t acknowledge what years of doing that really hurt me until it physically took a toll on me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t operate. I felt broken. My mom was the biggest help in my life. She would call doctors, sit on the phone with me, and talk to me. My mom is my angel on earth. With her help, therapy, and my framily, I was able to heal and become better. I started building confidence and merging out of my cocoon.

This is why it probably stung the most when this past weekend, a family member used my anxiety as if was a weakness. The context had nothing to do with my anxiety, but a Facebook post that had gotten out of control. When I tried to put a stop to it all, I was told that “anxiety may not be the issue.” When I said they had crossed a line and not to talk about my mental health, they then said something to the affect of agree. Do not bring up your mental health if you do not want people talking about it.

I am happy to talk about my mental health, but not as a weapon of weakness. The more one tells me to stop, the louder I will become. I do not talk about my mental health for others as burden. I talk about it for myself and to bring awareness. It’s healing for me and hopefully will help more people to talk about their journey and get help. It took me a long time to admit that my mental health was not a weakness. That it was good to talk about it. That I wasn’t crazy. And that I am worthy. It does hurt when someone you love decides to go low when you were trying to figure out what was happening.

It’s taken me a long time to be the person I am today and be so open, both online and off. I never shared hurtful moments like my sexual assault, binge eating, or my anxiety as to not disturb the peace. There were bits and pieces, but I wanted to be liked so much that I kept a lot of it hidden. I didn’t want to be too different than what I already was, and I didn’t want too much attention, even though I craved it.

Along with the bad, I never shared too much of the good like my work ethic, education accomplishments, and positives in relationships which is sad as well because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. That I was doing good while my community may not have been.

It’s a common struggle and fear for many when our good and bad gets thrown back at us as if it is a weakness. It’s a poor tactic used to silence when there is nothing else. It’s often a tactic some use against those trying to help them, but when used it doesn’t matter what happened before as it crosses lines.

To those who choose to throw or clap back by using mine/your pain and happiness against me/you is not a reflection of you. It is them.

I almost let it get to me, but I am butterfly goddess.

I am proud of the body that allows me to run, dance, and hug those I care about. I am proud of my mind that allows me to create, think, and build. I am proud of my anxiety and depression as it shows me the depths of hell, but also has taught me tools needed to better my life. I am proud of my voice that allows me to speak, tell my truth, and be a warrior.

I am a proud woman of color, and this world will never shut me down.

2018 Goals That I’m Making Public So I’m Held Accountable

Well…2017 was on of the hardest years of my life.

I had a lot of positive things happen like Matt Damon Improv, Sketch Shows, Running, LatinX, creating and producing art, seeing the Backstreet Boys and creating a beautiful family. I had a lot of awful things happen like being laid off, another job not working out, 45, microaggressions, a break up, mental health issues, and a few other things I’ve blocked out, but will come out in therapy.

For those who’ve stuck around, I am so thankful you did; especially when I didn’t want to be around myself or anyone. I am still a work in progress, and while everyone makes resolutions, I am out here in 2018 making goals- 18 of them. Goals, measurable goals, are easier to accomplish than resolutions that give off a January only type of feel. With these goals, and anything I am doing, if it doesn’t fulfill me mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, then I don’t want to do it.

Here are those 18 Goals

  1. Post at least once a week on my blog
  2. Run 6 races; including a marathon!
  3. Read 12 books
  4. Run 730 Miles
  5. Increase fluency in Spanish
  6. Perform a one-woman show
  7. Learn the guitar
  8. Reach goal weight
  9. Learn to ride a bike
  10. Visit three new places
  11. Practice self-care every day (meditations, bubble baths, affirmations)
  12. Work-out 4-5 times a week
  13. Find a source of income that makes me happy
  14. Find a partner that makes me happy and encourages me, but is not my whole world. Just a part of it.
  15. Declutter my home/lie
  16. Complete two notebooks of poems/short stories
  17. Volunteer at least once a month with charities that appeal to women and/or POCs/WOCs
  18. Kiss as the snow falls

Here’s to 2018.

 

Summer of 2017

As the sun sets on the last day of summer, I lay sick on my couch. I lay sick reflecting on what happened to me this summer. I also couldn’t handle Being Mary Jane as Mary Jane decides between her new boo and friend.

Anyways, I think about the Summer of 2017.  Chicago in the summmer…you can’t beat it. I wasn’t anticipating that this summer would be the toughest few months I’ve ever faced.

You can say I’ve always had anxiety and depression. It would come in waves and then disappear. Before this summer, I never thought medication was for me or that I wouldn’t want to get out of bed every morning because I got one life and I love. And this summer was filled with so many highs like my sketch show, poetry, walks, brunch, first kisses, Lizzo, cookouts, Matt Damon Improv, and so many new friendships and amazing memories.

But to match the highs came the lowest lows. It’s hard to say what triggered the intense anxiety and physical match of the depression, but I know it intensified, and kept going, when my best friend came to visit. My therapist and my mom, two different people, said my best friend is my safe place. I felt like I could let go with her, and when she went home, I had to deal with it by myself.  One thing I hate is being by myself. I am trying to get better at it, but it’s not my strong trait.

The intense crying came out of no where. When someone asked why are you crying, I couldn’t answer. When I couldn’t go on stage, I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t concentrate at work. My body ached. The thought of showering or brushing my teeth was almost painful. I hated every part of me. I was living in my own hell.

I went to my doctor, who is a saint. She had been mentioning going on medication for a few months now after I broke up with my boyfriend and got laid off in the same week, but I didn’t want to. Maybe she saw the signs before I felt them. However, at this moment I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t care, I needed something. I started on Lexapro, and was doing well for awhile, but like all medication and me, my stomach started to hurt and ache after about a month. I told my doctor, and she suggested tappering off and looking for a physiatrist who could help.

I am now experiencing the worst withdrawals. My hands shake. My skin itches. I can’t remember anything. Focusing has become the hardest thing. My brain zaps. Along with it, my anxiety and depression have gotten worse. It takes my mom and aunt calling me to go run and make it to work. It takes talking to Surena all day on GChat to make sure I am still alive. It takes my roommate asking what I had to eat or planning something to get me out of the house. It takes my friends physically coming to my place to make sure I get to my show because they know I would be worse at home. It takes people texting and calling at all hours and just listen to me cry and try to talk. I feel guilty for every message.

There are days I run through the flowers and there are days where I feel like I am drowning. I don’t blame the medication. I don’t even blame me. My brain and body are trying to heal, and are screaming to be heard. I talk and write about my mental health because I hate the stigma it brings. I am not ashamed of who I am, it’s just something that is a apart of my story. I love talking about what I am going through because maybe it will help someone. Maybe they will feel less alone. Talking may help their love ones understand why they can’t just get over it. Think of it as a broken arm…mental illness will not fix itself overnight.

As this summer comes to a close, what is next? I am still feeling sick as I find the right medication, eating plan, and run. I have an idea of my next moves, but at the same time I don’t. My focus is now my health and faith, and what are the steps to get there.

I hope to look back on this summer, and think I did it. But right now, I am just trying to get to the next moment.

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