Me.

Who I am today is not who I have always been, and for that, I am grateful.

I am grateful for every moment that had me doubled over in laughter.

I am grateful for every moment I had to question if I wanted to still walk on this earth.

I am grateful for every moment that felt like a sword was pierced into my heart.

I am grateful for every kind word from a stranger. 

I am grateful for the deep connections that I have built with the people who I care about the most. The kind of connections where it feels as if our souls are intertwined. 

Every moment is significant.

Every moment is a lesson.

If you pay attention, every step, whether it’s forwards or backward, is a step closer to bringing you closer to who you are.

The you that you have been suppressing.

The you that you didn’t even know that you were.

The you that left your consciousness as soon as you were brought into this lifetime.

The you that you were supposed to forget about.

As I stand today, I am glad that I am not who I used to be.

Who I used to be was distanced from everything that I am.

I was a mere fragment of myself, lost, and not understanding why I couldn’t see any value that I hold. 

Every moment brings you closer to yourself.

I am more me than I have ever been, and now I have the clarity I never knew I could have.

Drained and Uninspired

I am drained. If there was a way to measure the amount of energy, willpower, and motivation that resides within me it would alarm even the calmest of souls. I am not immune to this feeling, being bipolar has been a great mentor in showing me the lifestyle of the chemically imbalanced. With that being said, I thought my severe lows and my extreme highs were of the past, but it looks my brain is trying to humble me once again. 

Microdosing has truly made a significant difference in my quality of life. By reading the first paragraph this might come as a surprise, but truly, life has been better than it ever has. I have found stability, balance, and joy. I have been more introspective than I have ever been and focused to make what I desire manifest into my reality. I don’t just wish for a difference, I make it happen. When I do find myself falling into a low, I can usually get myself out pretty quickly. The same goes when I start to experience some moments of mania, although I can’t really recall my last true manic episode. So that is why this time I am scared. Because I can’t get out. 

I have been feeling myself drift for a little while now, and my depression and anxiety has been having fun trying to show me what I have been missing. I know that some of it stems from my career path. I was supposed to be an author. I have half of a manuscript that I poured my entire soul into, and now I just lack the inspiration and energy to complete it. I was working with a publisher, we were in conversation about the publication process, book tour, the art. Everything. But I needed a paycheck now, so I had to put my dream on hold. And now I feel as if my energy is being wasted. I love creating and building up a story. I enjoy nothing more than developing a twist that no one was expecting. I become giddy when I create a character that is relatable, and to show their journey. I want my readers to feel everything from the safety of a cemetery to the sadness that a character may feel to the jolt of excitement that shoots through them from the climax of the tale. I want to leave an impression on those who take the time to read what I poured myself into. That is what I love. That is what makes life sweet for me. Despite knowing this, there is not enough of me to do my job, take care of my animals, take care of my husband, take care of other tasks that I need to complete to stay alive, and take care of myself in the form of creativity. 

To make a long story short, I feel stuck. I feel stuck creatively, mentally, and passionately. I feel as though my soul has once again detached itself from this vessel and now I am walking around doing everything that I am supposed to be doing but without gratification. I don’t feel fulfilled, I don’t feel happy, and I just feel stuck.

Suicidal ideation is an unwelcome friend of mine. Although I have been able to keep it at bay for the most part since November, it recently has been at the forefront of the battle lines inside of my head. It became apparent that I was in battle once again last week when I was lying in bed, using everything I had to convince myself not to do what I really wanted to do. The problem with being suicidal is you don’t know what to listen to. Your mind is telling you that you are so exhausted that you can’t carry on any longer, but your heart is pleading for you to give yourself another chance. The thought of dying is the peace that you are looking for at that moment, but taking your last breath in this lifetime is just as terrifying. You want both outcomes, but it’s almost as if you don’t want to be responsible for that decision. 

When I say that the only reason why I am here is because of my animals, I truly mean it. Anytime I have almost done anything, my furbabies can sense it, and they shield me from myself. Last week, all six of my babies recognized the agony that I was in and did everything in their power to comfort me. My dogs are always there to put their weight on me to help soothe my anxiety. My cats are never too far away to jump to my aid and lick my tears away. When I feel them, I can breathe again. They continue to watch over me time after time. 

I think, for the most part, I am authentically me. I am unapologetically sarcastic, dry, a little cold, lazy, honest, overbearing, controlling, loving, caring, sweet, an interesting mix of spontaneous, and someone who needs to plan ahead. I am quirky and odd. I can see the big picture of the universe and use the secrets that I have access to guide me through my life lessons. I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I look at patterns and I tend to be realistic with my approach to things. These are just a few things that put together the puzzle of me, Brookana. 

There are certain places in my life when I feel like I can’t fully be me. I find myself masking at work, and by the end of the day, I am just absolutely fucking tired. At work, I am soft-spoken, tender, respectful, and kind. And while all of those traits aren’t necessarily bad, they definitely aren’t all of me. By not being everything that I am, I am not being authentic, and that grows tiresome. 

I know within time I will get out of this low. I know I will start creating worlds and stories again, and one day, hopefully not too far from now, my manuscript will be complete and someone will be thinking about my words after they read the final page of my story. 

Mental health is scarier than any scary story I have ever written, but I am determined to keep fighting no matter what wounds I might inflict on myself. 

Why I’m Here

I am here, but there are countless times where I had wished that I wasn’t. 

Pills, knives, razors, they aren’t just things that you use every day.

To someone like me, they are a means to an end.

They are the key to unlock final peace.

The thought of death doesn’t scare me.

In fact, more than anything, I look forward to death.

The idea of a peace that you aren’t capable of achieving in this realm completely captivates me. 

But also the notion of a new beginning brings me to a land of curiosity.

Suicidal ideation. 

Suicidal ideation.

Suicidal ideation.

Are you weak if you think about your death?

Are you weak if you think about what you are in control of?

No.

You’re strong, and the strongest among them all.

If you have thought about it and you’re still here, that took a kind of strength that others cannot possibly understand unless they have experienced what you have gone through. 

The reality is: you’re still here. 

Why?

For me, I live for one person.

This person has come to mean the world to me.

I see this person, I see who they are growing to be, and I am not ready to say goodbye to them yet. 

I see all of the goals that they are close to accomplishing, and I want to watch them live out their dreams.

I see them appreciating things, and it brings me hope.

I watch them go through the lowest of lows and walk out the other side just fine. 

I watch them stare at their furbabies with more love than they have ever felt, and I want to watch them continue to experience that amount of pure bliss and admiration. 

I see them exploring being a mother to humans, something that they have wanted for what seems like forever.

I live for me.

I live because I have more living to do.

Your moments of darkness are just cracks in time. 

The great thing about cracks is that even if they appear, they can always be patched right back up.

You matter. 

You have more life in you. 

The darkness is temporary. 

Why I Will Be Spending the Holidays Alone

I have made a decision that could forever impact my relationship with my family members, and I refuse to feel bad about it. I lived in Texas for three and a half years, which means that there were three years where I did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with a lot of my family members. At the time, it was awful. I felt so lonely and I missed everyone so much. Phone calls felt like salt being poured in the wound, and times that used to feel magical turned dark and depressing. 

I live within an hour of all of my family now, but I have made the choice to not spend holidays with anyone this year. Last year spending time with my loved ones felt perfect, but there are HUGE differences between times past and the present. 

First off, I live in America. I think everyone across the globe realizes that the way the coronavirus was handled here was laughable at best, and now we are suffering the consequences as a nation. I feel like our leader isn’t the only one to blame, due to the countless people who actively decide to throw parties, not wear masks, etc, but nonetheless, these people could be umbrellaed under Trump and his negligent and careless response to this deadly global pandemic. Anyways, with spikes starting to occur again, and many questioning if the second wave is here, I do not feel comfortable being indoors, in a smaller space, with lots of people. Especially as an immunocompromised individual I need to take as many precautions as necessary. Now the family members reading this are probably upset at this point do to the fact that I am traveling out of the country in less than a week to attend my best friend’s wedding, however, we pretty much have the resort to ourselves, everything is going to be outside, we all had Covid tests that were sent out to a lab, and we will be wearing our masks. I am also traveling to Salem for a few days after that, where I will be practicing social distancing, I will be getting tested again for Covid, and I will be wearing a mask. 

Now another reason why I won’t be participating in this year’s holiday festivities is because of the election. Most, if not all, of my parents have different beliefs than I do, and that is totally fine! However, I do not like or appreciate the way that some of them have handled it. Now, I have been VERY vocal about where I stand, and there have been times where I have said things when I probably should not have. I have been honest and upfront about my lack of respect for those who follow Trump, and although that may be hurtful, at least I am being honest. And just to clarify, I haven’t lost full respect, but respect has been lost. I know for a fact that they think I am “crazy” for my beliefs, so it couldn’t come as a surprise that I feel that way. Anyways, I don’t feel like being gaslighted or told that I am wrong or told that I am crazy for voting for the side that actually gives a fuck about civil rights, so I am making the choice to avoid those conversations. Also, it is difficult to have a conversation with anyone who refuses to hear where you are coming from. I have found that Trump supporters like to just yell at you when you start speaking about what you believe in or they just insult you. 

Thirdly, I am skipping holidays due to my mental health. Everyone has had to go through depression and anxiety this year, especially with Covid and the election. For those who suffer from clinical mental health issues, this year has been actual hell. I think that the chaos that has been this year has finally caught up to me, and as a result, I have suffered with my mental health. I have been working with the same therapist for over a year now, and I am accepting that I am allowed to create boundaries for myself if I feel like they need to be there. I used to be that person that didn’t prioritize myself and my well-being over others, but I am not that way anymore. If you have kept up with my pieces, you would know that I was kind of reborn earlier this year. I firmly believe that this was my “selfish” year. This was the year where I focused on healing myself, on finding myself, on figuring out what I wanted out of this lifetime. This was the year that I really became confident and happy with who I am. I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me. I stopped dropping my life for others when they are incapable of doing the same for me. I even gave my husband an out, because he was uncomfortable with my newfound freedom and realizations. At the end of the day, twenty-twenty was a terrible year, but it also… wasn’t? I feel found. I found myself. Twenty-twenty was my year of metamorphosis, and I am happy that I can finally see my value. When you respect yourself life becomes so much sweeter. I know that there will always be things that you need to do that you do not want to do, but there are going to be times where you can choose to not participate in something. My stance is that although my personal evolution is something that I am happy and proud of, there are many other factors as to why I need a break. This year has been toxic. This year things have come to light that have swayed me in a different direction. This year has been rough. Like I mentioned before, my mental health has paid the price for that. I refuse to sacrifice myself and my energy just to appease others, so I am taking a break. 

This is a toxic time. This is a time where we must be diligent about protecting ourselves. I have worked tirelessly with my therapist to come to this realization that it is okay to distance myself for a bit from everyone, including those that I love. This is what I need to feel better. This is what I need to get my energy back on track. This is what I need to detox of toxicity out of me. I love my family and my friends, I really do, but I am just starting to love me and take care of me and I need my time. 

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness and celebration, but if you don’t feel that do you really need to “celebrate?” No. Anyday can be a holiday if you really think about it, and it is okay if you need to isolate for a bit in order to heal and work on yourself. I am sure that a lot of people reading this will be upset by the words that I have written, and that is okay. You are just as entitled to your feelings just as I am entitled to mine. I wish I felt bad about not wanting to celebrate the holidays, but I really don’t. I already feel happy. I already feel like I can breath. I love that I am going to have this time to continue healing myself, and I like the pressure is off and that I am no longer anxious about that. 

Don’t feel guilty about giving yourself time. You deserve to go through your journey and process however you need to do it, and don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you are making a selfish or bad choice. Take care of you, it will be the best thing that you can do.

My Mind and the Lack of a Middle Ground

Hi everyone. It has been a while. Nobody likes to hear excuses for anything, and I am included in that, but I would just like to give you a super brief explanation of my whereabouts. I opened a new business, The Witches Abode, and it sure has kept me busy. I love it though. I get to be creative and work on my craft and interact with amazing people on a daily basis. Everything that I have ever wanted as a small business owner is coming to fruition, and every day I wake up feeling more and more fortunate. I also have been working behind the scenes on a super-secret project which I hope to be announcing within the next month or two. Now, unfortunately, with all of this good in my life, there also needs to be some bad, because there always needs to be some sort of balance. 

One thing that is truly starting to trouble me is I feel like I have never been properly diagnosed when it comes to my mental illness. First, I was diagnosed with depression. Then I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. Then I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Then, my most recent diagnosis is clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD. You see, I never thought that bipolar disorder was something that I had because I never really thought that I had manic episodes. I was always just very depressed with suicidal tendencies, but I never went up and down with my emotions. I am starting to realize that maybe I have had manic episodes, but I just never knew what they were.

The past couple of months have been a rollercoaster. I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t been taking my medications, which include Lexapro and Abilify, regularly. I don’t know what it is. I feel like I am starting to feel better so I stop taking them, and then I wonder why I come crashing down. I have started questioning life again. I have started having major anxiety attacks because I feel like I am not doing anything perfectly. I lay on the couch sometimes and list off all of the things that I should be doing but I can’t bring myself to do them. I have thought about self-harming. I haven’t purposely done anything to myself in about a year now, but there have been moments where I was shaking because I wanted to so bad. So instead of hurting myself in a negative way, one night while I couldn’t sleep, I bought a stick and poke tattoo kit. And when that kit arrived in the mail was when I knew something was wrong.

You see, I feel so much pressure that it almost feels indescribable. I am trying to work on The Witches Abode, I am trying to work on my secret project, I am trying to maintain my home and tend to my plethora of animals. I am trying to take care of my husband and try to have a social life that I can be happy with. And I am also trying to take care of myself. Well due to the pressure that I feel and my obvious lack of coping skills, I started to crumble. I became fragile. So instead of hurting myself in a negative way, I started tattooing myself. Then, before I knew it, three weeks went by and I have gained fifteen new tattoos. Fifteen tattoos that I did to myself as an inexperienced tattoo artist. And that is not to mention the three new piercings that I have gotten (by professionals) within the past two weeks. Let’s go back to the tattoos though. Now I am fortunate that I love every single one with the exception of one, and I have already been in contact with my tattoo guy to get that atrocity covered up, but fifteen tattoos in three weeks is worrisome due to what it represents. Each of those fifteen tattoos was done to prevent myself from self-harming. 

I believe that I have been in a manic episode, and I believe that I am finally starting to come down. I have spent money that I should not have spent, I have done things to my body that I probably should have spaced out more, and, to be frank, my sex drive has been even higher than it already is. I just know something is different, and I really think that there is something going on.

I have been talking to my therapist about this, and we have devised a plan to help me with my coping skills. Luckily, I do have a lot of work that I need to focus on, so instead of tattooing myself, I will just work on my business and on my secret project instead. I am behind on my project, so I need to use my time wisely to catch up on that. Also, I have a huge event that I am doing for The Witches Abode in December, and I need to work on that. I also have a new contract as a freelance writer so the assignments will help keep me busy. Luckily, I have work to occupy my mind. 

I think the thing that is scary to me is the fact that I am never just living and enjoying life. I am either so depressed that I can’t leave my bedroom or I am so elated that it doesn’t feel like reality. And when I feel like I am not in reality there is a part of me that tells myself to calm down, but I almost lose control over myself and my actions. It is an odd experience and I feel like a lot of people like feeling manic but I hate it. I hate to not feel control over myself. 

Anyways, I am working towards being more balanced when it comes to my mental illness, and I remain hopeful that one day I can feel somewhat normal if normal even exists.

The Monster That Hid Behind the Mask

***GRAPHIC CONTENT ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE AT RISK FOR A TRIGGER. PLEASE MOVE FORWARD WITH CAUTION.***

I close my eyes and I can visualize you perfectly. The way that you would smirk. The way that your hair fell to the side. The way that you would grab your stomach while you laughed. The way that you smelled. The way that I could feel your energy whenever I was near you. 

You had this way of making every girl fall in love with you, which was remarkable because you were never that attractive. You weren’t physically or emotionally desirable, and yet, I wanted you. I wanted to know what it would feel like to hear you say “I love you.” I wanted to feel that static that one would feel when you held hands with someone you cared about. I wanted to feel the electricity that would build up between our lips as you kissed me. 

You used to make me feel so incredibly special. I met you before I was even a teenager, and I know that the moment you saw me was the moment that I became your next target. What I thought was love was manipulation, and what I thought was good intent ended up having ulterior motives. 

I was vulnerable with you. I cried in front of you. You comforted me when I needed comfort. What I thought was safety was actually me falling into the hands of a monster. 

You see, as I grew older, I realized that those moments of sincerity were moments of secrecy. You knew what you wanted and went for it under the disguise of someone who cared. The older I have become I have realized that what I thought was you being genuine was you training me and molding me to be your next victim. You always wanted something of mine that was never meant to be yours, and you were willing to do whatever it took it take it. 

So you used your best weapons against me. I was no match against your manipulation. I was not prepared to mentally handle what was about to happen. I was too naive to decipher your words that ended up being lies. 

I was never a person to you. I was always just a body. 

Someone hurt me before you did. And I went to you after it happened. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to find out that someone got to me before you did. Oh, how it must have angered you. You had been working on me for years, and you expected something for your efforts. 

So you decided to take your reward because you must have felt by this time it was now or never. You did things leading up to the event, testing me to see what I was willing to do. Seeing where my comfort was. I was emotionally driven by your lies, but I was nowhere near ready to take things where you wanted them to go. So you took that upon yourself. 

When I close my eyes I can feel you. I can feel your face less than an inch away from mine. I can feel your breath. I can feel my body go ice cold. I can feel my body wanting to run, but unable to move. I can feel that feeling that I felt in my stomach like I was about to be sick. I can feel the fear. The terror. I can feel your hand going up my leg in an effort to touch me. I can taste your finger going into my mouth, and I can hear you say “suck.” I can feel you grab me to touch you. I can feel and remember everything as if it were happening right now. I hate you for that. 

People assault people because they like the control. They like the game. He manipulated and trained me for years to be his puppet, and sadly, he won the game. 

I still dream of him. I still wake up with drenched in sweat. I still wake up filled to the brim with panic. 

Sometimes he slips into my mind and I just freeze. I can feel my body go ice cold. And there is nothing that I can do about it except just try to get through it. 

I am trying my best to release the grip that you have had on me for all of these years. Oh, how I have been trying. 

I hate you for what you did and who you are, but I take comfort in knowing that karma exists. Whether it is in this lifetime or the next, you will suffer as I have, and that brings a smile to my face.

Feel.

What does it feel like to have a mental illness? 

Every person has a different experience, but here is mine.

Mental illness is a type of monster that wants nothing more than to isolate you, torture you, belittle you, and test you.

Mental illness will make you doubt yourself more than anyone else ever could, causing your own self worth to diminish with every word spoken from your mind. 

Mental illness will keep you up at night. You think about every single thing that has ever happened to you, you think about and play out scenarios that never even happened, and you question every choice that you have ever made.

Mental illness will make you feel like you are in a world of euphoria, where you have never-ending energy and you can take on anything that comes your way. If you wanted to, you could save the world with your love, positivity, and energy. You can spend hours exercising, deep cleaning, calling and texting all of your friends and family, and not feel anything but extraordinary. You could quite literally do anything and everything, and you try to because you feel so good. But then, you crash. You spend eighteen hours in bed sleeping despite your partner trying to wake you up. You ignore phone calls and texts because you don’t have it in you to speak to another soul. When you do wake up, you’re a shell of a human being that just does the bare minimum to keep your body alive because at that moment your spirit is gone. This can last for as little as a day, or even months. You never know. 

Mental illness is either eating too little or too much. 

Mental illness is watching videos at four in the morning on “at home stick and poke tattoos” and considering buying the equipment yourself because you could “easily do that!”

Mental illness is wanting to tell your friends and family that you are sinking into a low but you’re too afraid to tell them because they go through this with you all of the time. Also, they sometimes throw your mental illness in your face when they are displeased with you.

Mental illness is staring at the scars on your body that you gave yourself and hoping with everything that you have that you won’t pick up that blade again.

Mental illness is knowing what is happening to you but not having any control over it.

Mental illness is taking medication and having a therapist because life would be awful without those things. 

Mental illness is relying on animals to bring you a glimmer of happiness and a sense of calm. 

Mental illness is living past memories so vividly that you have to remind yourself that those memories are in the past and you are safe right now.

Mental illness is constantly having to listen to people tell you to “grow up” or “deal with it” or “snap out of it.” 

Mental illness is sobbing in the shower or on the floor of your bedroom because you can’t stop thinking of the worst. 

Mental illness is a curse. It’s a sickness that eats away at you. It is always there, taunting you in the background just so you know that it is still there and can hurt you at any time. 

If you know someone with mental illness, please take it seriously. Ask them what they need. Make them tea, put on their favorite movie, give them their favorite book, make them their favorite food. Do whatever you can to make them feel loved and cared for and valued because when they are in a low they can’t see how incredible they are. The pain is unbearable, and even a tiny bit of effort and love from the people around them could quite literally save their life.

Salem: Part One

I always think about traveling. A lot of times, just for fun, I hop on Expedia and plan trips that I know I will never be able to take. I plan out the flights, the hotel, and the activities. I look at restaurants and I deep dive into the history of where “I am going.” There are so many places that I could only dream of going to when it comes to international travel, and there are places within my own country that I have always wanted to explore. So when the opportunity presented itself for my very first solo trip, I jumped on that quicker than a cheetah going after its prey.

The good news was this: I was finally going to be able to go on a trip! But the dilemma was this: I am literally the most indecisive person that has ever existed, so choosing a place to travel to put me in distress. (Wow, what a problem to have you spoiled brat.) I briefly thought about the pacific northwest, but ultimately decided to pass on that. If I were going to go on a domestic trip I wanted to make sure that I chose a place that I have always wanted to go. I then narrowed it down to three choices: Washington DC, New Orleans, and Salem. I decided that I wanted to save Washington DC so that one day I could go with my dad, so now it was between New Orleans and Salem. New Orleans has always intrigued me, and during my time in Texas, I always wanted to go on a road trip there. My husband had been there many years prior to our relationship and wasn’t a fan, so he never wanted to go with me. Salem is a place that I have often thought about. Its deep and morbid history always seemed to have some sort of calling to me, so I finally made the decision to make my way east.

I had been to Massachusetts once before, and it was probably the best trip that I have ever been on. A week after my twenty-first birthday my best friend and I went to Boston to visit her sister, and it was such a memorable trip. We saw the Freedom Trail, we went whale watching, and we drank like fish. It was incredible and I remember it fondly. I always talked about making my way back to Massachusetts, so when I made my final decision about traveling alone to Salem, I was beyond excited. Like, embarrassingly excited. The moment I booked my flight and my hotel, my body became mostly adrenaline and I couldn’t stop telling my family and friends about the plans that I had just made. After a couple of hours of nonstop talking, jumping, and screaming, “I’m going to Salem!” I finally wore myself out and needed to go to bed. It is safe to say that I made the right choice.

When I woke up I was still massively excited, but for another reason other than the vacation aspect of it. Of course, I was incredibly eager to visit a place that I have always wanted to visit; however, I was also excited because I saw this solo trip as an opportunity to explore self-love. You see, as independent as I like to think that I am, I still think that there is a part of me that relies on others for certain things. Take New Orleans for example. I never road tripped there because my husband never wanted to go with me, and I honestly don’t think I ever thought about going on my own. When it comes to big things such as travel, I have always had it in my head that if I can’t find someone to go with me then I just won’t go at all. But after thinking about that mindset, I started to become upset with myself. This is my life. This is the one chance that I have to learn and to explore and to do things that will bring me happiness. So why have I always thought that I couldn’t do something as incredible as traveling on my own? Why have I put aside the places that I wanted to experience just because I couldn’t find another person to experience it with me? So when I booked this trip to Salem, a place that I have always wanted to go to, but no one else that I was close to was interested in, I started a new chapter in my life. The chapter where I actively make an effort to do things for myself that will bring me joy.

I think that there is a difference between being selfish and making sure that you are being kind to yourself. So far in my life, I have never seen myself as a priority. My husband, my animals, my family, and my best friend have always been the most important to me. I became so used to being shut down when it came to experiencing things with the people that I care about, that whenever I asked someone to do something with me I became numb to the feeling of my desires being put to the side. But the funny thing is, I never had to do that. I have had the power all along to follow through with the things that I have wanted, but I guess I just never saw it that way. I suppose I thought that experiences such as traveling would be more meaningful or special if it was experienced with someone you care about, but then that made me think, “Wait a minute, I care about myself. I could do with some quality time alone.” And the moment I had that epiphany was the moment that I changed my life for the better.

I didn’t really have any fears about traveling alone. Although my family, my husband, and my best friend were worried about my safety, that was never a concern of mine. My two biggest concerns were being away from my animals and, as silly as this may sound, eating alone at restaurants. Yeah, the thought of possibly getting hurt in a freak accident or being sliced and diced by a stranger never crossed my mind, but eating alone… Frightening. I am proud to say that I conquered my fear of eating alone like the true champ that I am, but leaving my animals and not having control over their safety is still anxiety-inducing. But whenever I get too worried, I just have to remind myself that they are safe and are in good hands and that I am allowed to enjoy myself while I am away.

I booked my trip pretty last minute, so the seven days between booking the trip and leaving were filled to the brim with buzz and eagerness. I spent hours upon hours planning out the areas that I wanted to explore, looking into tours, browsing the shops, and researching nearby restaurants. I wrote out everything that I wanted to do and figured out how far it was from my hotel. I made an organized list of each place with the addresses, hours, prices, and what kind of activity each place was. (Everyone, meet Brookana. She is type a.) The more I planned, the more ready I was to start this new adventure.

I woke up at four in the morning the day that I left, and all of my excitement turned into anxiety and sadness. I couldn’t believe that I was going to go to another state all by myself. What if something happened to the animals? What if something happened to my husband? What would I do if someone got hurt and I was a thousand miles away? What about eating alone?! I looked down at my dog, Luna, as I was about to leave and just saw betrayal in her eyes, and I felt immediate guilt. All these fears and insecurities crept back in, and they kept intensifying the closer I got to the airport. While I was sitting at the gate, I spoke to my husband on the phone as he was driving to work and all I felt was longing for him. I missed him and the furbabies already. For a moment, just a brief moment, I thought about leaving the airport and going back home. But then I realized that I was allowing my fears and my doubt to control the amazing thing that I was about to experience, and I shut it down as fast as I could.

When I boarded the plane I was feeling pretty confident and I felt my excitement starting to creep back in, but I was still slightly worried. But with that being said, the moment the plane started to accelerate down the runway and I felt that we were off of the ground, I caught myself smiling.

Plane Picture 1

Conquer the Fear

I have always had a funny relationship with dreams. Not the kind of dreams where your mind tells you stories while you slumber, but the kind of dreams that you wish you could make happen. The goals that run through your mind constantly. The kind of dreams that make you think “it would be so cool if this could happen for me.” I have had a couple of those dreams, the kind where I constantly say “I wish” to, and I always wondered if I would be brave enough to try to make my dreams become a reality.

I have spoken about this before, but for as long as I can remember, my biggest dream was to become a writer. I don’t even need to be an extremely successful writer, but a writer nonetheless. I wanted to share stories, life lessons, and informative pieces. I wanted to be able to write something that someone out there could relate to. I wanted my words to start a dialogue between strangers, bringing all of us together in some sort of way. I wanted to come up with fictional stories that could captivate an audience and have them asking for more. I have longed for my imagination to take me to a place in my career that I could be proud of, but there was one thing standing in my way. Fear. 

I take that back. Fear wasn’t the only thing keeping me from trying to accomplish my dream, but it definitely was the biggest factor. I always told myself that if I were to ever try to make something out of myself through my writing that I would put every ounce of energy into it. Everything that I have would be dedicated to this one massive dream of mine. However, the circumstances that I was in both financially and mentally would prevent me from being able to do that, that is, until recently. 

Finances have been a strain for Stephen and me for many years. It seemed like every time we were able to save money and feel like we were finally getting to a place of financial stability something would happen that would wash that sense of security straight away. “It’s just a part of life.” “Welcome to being an adult.” “No one ever said that growing up would be easy.” That is what people would tell me about the unfortunate cost of being alive. Also, let’s not forget the worst day of the year for people who rely on medications to live: January 1st. Being a type one diabetic is incredibly expensive, and January 1st is the day that your deductible resets. It always feels like a slap in the face when you have to worry about paying for an insurance premium, a deductible, and the medication that you need in order to keep breathing. A major thanks to my pancreas for adding that stressor to my life. Anyways, I had to work at jobs that I absolutely loathed in order to get by, much like the majority of our society. While I would work, I would fantasize about one day being able to write and have my words be read by the world, but by the time that I would come home from work I had little to no energy to put into my dream. It was a vicious cycle. Work. Dream. Fantasize. Go home. Crash. Repeat.

When it comes to my mentality, I always wanted to have the energy to just make my dream happen. I knew that in order for my writing to flourish I had to put in the work. I knew from the beginning that if you want something in this world that it won’t be handed to you, and if you want it bad enough one day it could be yours. But you have to work for it. I never wanted anything to just be handed to me, but I was too emotionally drained to be able to work towards my goal. As I said, I HATED all of my previous jobs, and they made me feel worthless. I felt like such a disappointment, and it sunk my self-worth to basically nothing. I was already dealing with depression and anxiety, so feeling down on myself for my career left me with nothing. And when you already lack any sort of energy, when you feel like you are sucked dry of everything that you are, you just go into survival mode. I was a walking zombie, just living life on autopilot. When you are in that mode, you just don’t have the extra energy to put into “extra” luxuries, such as accomplishing a dream. You’re just trying to stay alive. 

Eventually, finances started to become better, and with a ton of work, so did my emotional stability. I entered the unexplored territory in my life where I had an option to quit my paying job in order to try to make my dream come true. I never, ever imagined in my entire twenty-six years on this planet that I would ever have this opportunity as an option, and now that it could be a possibility it scared the hell out of me. I started second-guessing if I could actually afford to quit my job, I wondered if it was the responsible thing to do, and I worried that my husband might end up resenting me for not going into an actual job every day as he does. I had developed all of this doubt to the point where one day I would talk myself up and say “I am just going to do it.” Then the next day I would say “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?” I was driving my husband insane with my doubt and fear, and finally, he just told me to quit my job and focus on my writing. It was kind of a “now or never” type situation. It is odd to me that after spending years imagining, hoping, and fantasizing about this moment that suddenly I was pumping the breaks. I think it is one of those things that you never think is in the cards for you, and when you finally have an opportunity to make it happen it puts you in a state of shock. And then that state of shock turns into doubt, and then that doubt turns into fear. But after talking to my therapist and doing some major introspective work, I made the decision to quit my job to attempt to make my dream come true.

It was scary. It still is scary to this day. As it stands, I am two months into what could be a life-altering choice that I made. But with that being said, I don’t think that I have ever been happier about myself. So here is the thing. I am not oblivious or naive to the fact that there is a high probability that nothing will come from this. I know that I am asking for a lot from the universe to give me the success that I desire from my writing, but I just want it so bad. I live for my writing. I live for my audience. It brings me so much satisfaction whenever I push the “Publish now” button on my website. It warms my heart whenever someone messages me about a piece that I wrote. I am thriving. I feel alive. My spark is growing larger and larger with each day that passes. Yes, as per usual, the unknown is terrifying. I do not know where this is going to take me in my life. But do you know what sounds even more terrifying to me? Not knowing if my dream could have been a reality. Always pondering the idea if I made the right choice by not running towards my lifelong dream. I will never regret the choice I made to try to improve my life by chasing my dream, and I will continue to thrive on it until the moment I draw my final breath. 

Fear was one of the strongest internal opponents that I have ever had to face, but man does it feel amazing to conquer that monster.

Tattoos and Depression

I wouldn’t say that I have an addictive personality. I hardly ever drink, I don’t smoke, I take edibles, but not often, I don’t do hardcore drugs, I have sex, but just with my husband, and I guess you could say it is a “typical” amount of copulation for a couple who has been together for ten years, and I usually don’t overeat. I am not used to having that feeling of needing something so badly that it is all that you can think about, that is, until now.

I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen years old, and I regretted it immediately. It was a larger piece on the inner part of my left forearm, and when you are used to seeing a blank canvas to suddenly having something there that is permanent it can be a bit of a shock. I just remember waking up the next day in tears thinking “what have I done?” I promised myself that I would never get another tattoo for the remainder of my life, and I was going to try to save up enough money to get the one tattoo that I had removed. Then, six months later, I found myself in a tattoo shop getting another one.

Tattoo9

I love tattoos. I love piercings. I love the adrenaline rush that I get when I pull up to my favorite shop and see my favorite artists. I love the smell of the ink and the buzz of the tattoo gun. I love sitting in the chair and wondering what my next piece is going to be while I am getting something done. The music, the laughter, the swearing, the connections that you make with the person who is working on you, it all just makes my serotonin levels rise. I feel like I am in my own personal euphoria, and I soak up every moment of it. I don’t crave a lot of attention from others, but getting work done is such an intimate experience. You’re putting your trust into someone to alter the shell that holds you in it. They are changing not only your appearance but in a way, also your life. To me, that is beautiful.

Altogether, I have nine tattoos. I have gotten four tattoos in less than ten months, which is a lot for me. Two of those tattoos were done in the last twenty-four hours. I used to average one tattoo every year and a half to two years, so this is an interesting change of pace for me. I have been doing some thinking, and I think I have figured out why this flux of ink has been taking place. 

Although I am always thinking about tattoos, I tend to want them, even more, when I am either approaching or in a low. Interestingly enough, just a few days ago I had a therapy appointment with my therapist where we were talking about some newer feelings that were arising, and she expressed that she was worried that I was taking a step backward. I do feel like I am starting to revert to what my norm has been for all of these years, but I am desperately trying to nip it in the bud before it takes me down too much. Anyways, I think I have a correlation between my depression and my tattoos. You see, as stated in previous articles, my coping mechanism for a severe low or anxiety is cutting. I am proud to say that it has been a good stretch of time that I have gone without hurting myself, but that is where the tattoos come in.

Tattoo6

The moment the needle touches my skin I get giddy. Even when I am not in a great place mentally, I feel better. Whenever I would cut, it felt like a release. A break from feeling the way that I have felt for so long. I can breathe, and all my worries escape my mind, even if it’s just for a moment. Sometimes a moment break is better than no break at all. I have learned that tattoos give me that same relief, but it is even better. Instead of marking my body with scars, I am marking my body with images that bring me joy. There is only one tattoo that I feel “eh” about, but it will be an easy cover-up. 

Tattoo7

So here is my justification for my tattoos: They help me feel better. Mentally it is an escape, physically it helps me relax and my pieces have helped build my self-esteem. I would rather have my body marked with art rather than scars, so as long as I have the means to continue with my pieces, then you can expect to see me sitting in my favorite shop with my favorite artists.