Tag, I’m It! – Pittsburgh Edition

MM172001 tagged me this time.  And actually, after reading some responses, I am really eager to do this!

I’ll refrain from tagging anyone.  I am almost positive that this has made enough circles!

Onto the questions!

1. If you could go back and tell your younger self something.  What age would you go back to and what would you say?

I have often thought this over, although I mindfully refrain from asking the “Coulda, woulda, shoulda”s.  Had I been asked this question a year ago, I would have gone back to eighteen.

At eighteen, I had already been diagnosed and was being treated for MDD.  At the same time, I was already beginning my spiral into alcoholism.  Those are two pressing factors.  The other is the matter of my husband.

There was a brief moment in time where my husband and I were both single.  We shared a moment and a sofa.  I mentioned our history in my post Possibility and Ascension.

I would have advised myself to tell my doctor the truth about everything.  I wasn’t fine.  I had lost faith in her, because I wasn’t well after three years of treatment.  And I would have suggested bipolar disorder.

I would have told myself to stop with the alcohol.  It would almost be my destruction if I continued on that route.

And most of all, I would tell myself that C.S. and I belonged to each other.

But, I’ve thought it over.  I realized that everything happens in it’s own time for a good reason.  Though I would never wish the trials and tribulation I went through upon myself, I quite possibly needed them to get here.  My husband and I were meant to go through our awful relationships before we could be together.  Probably so that we could appreciate each other.  We needed to go through our respective hells so that we could grow toward each other.

If it weren’t for everything, I wouldn’t be me.  And as much as I don’t like myself sometimes, I actually do.  Sounds contradictory, but I like my life.  I love my husband and my son.  I wouldn’t want to change it.  So, why would I want to go back and take a chance on ruining it all?

2.  Favorite food.

Largely depends.  I find myself getting obsessed about a food.  Lately, it’s been egg white omelets.  Yum!

3. When did you start your blog? Why?  And has the purpose changed as time has?

June 19, 2011.  I often reference this post, because it was a big step for me.  It was my step into the public about my disorder.  Up until that time, I had really tried to tuck it into a corner and deal with in very privately.  I realized that I couldn’t.  Had I not written that post on June 19, 2011, I may not be here today.  It was the replacement for a potential suicide attempt.

The purpose is still largely the same.  It began as my internal monologues (and sometimes dialogues!) as my voice in this world.  That largely stands.  Except, the focus has shifted into less of a diary to chronicle my life, and more of a narrative as an outlet for my thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

It has expanded to include mental health advocacy, developing a mental health community, and a sounding board for others.  It will continue to develop in these areas, as I am now moving toward more mental health advocacy and publications.

4. What do you think your best character trait is?

Hands down, versatility.  I am extraordinarily flexible.  I can take on multiple roles, and handle a variety of situations in different settings.  I didn’t say I always do it well.  But, I can do it.

5. What do you think is your worst character trait?

Volatility.  I have come to realize and accept that I have a nasty temper.  Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to temper myself.

6. What is the last thing you read?

Book or blog?  I just started reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  As blogs go, I just finished reading the post that prompted this one.

7. Hero?

I don’t have heroes.  Heroes are often people we turn into characters that we idealize.  I am careful not to idealize any person or situation.  It often leads to disillusionment.  I am not good at handling that.

8. How much time do you spend on the internet in an average day?

About two hours or so.  Usually in the morning before anyone wakes up.  It’s the only time I can get the computer to myself.

Unless you count the time that I’m on my Blackberry.  Then, we’re looking at a total of about three to five.

9. If you had to chose only one social issue to fight for what would it be?

Human rights.  It covers just about everything I’d be fighting for.  Mental health advocacy, creating less of a socioeconomic gap, discrimination, and all kinds of things.  Human rights is extremely important.

10. If you could live anywhere, where and why?

Right here, in Pittsburgh.  Anyone who even talks to me about Pittsburgh will get an earful.  I love this city.  I have been a lot of other places in my life, and none have compared to this city.

Everything you could ever want in a city is here.  It’s not overly populated, only having about 300K that live within city limits and 1.5mil that live in the county surrounding.  This city and surrounding suburbs covers every mode of living a person can want.  Currently, I’m suburban / urban.  My husband would like us to move to a place that is more suburban / rural.  All within 10 miles of city limits.

We have the best sports teams, if you’re into that.  We boast the best healthcare in the US.  We have a wealth of universities to study at.  CMU is among the leading in technology.  Crime is not too bad.  There are very few areas that I would consider “unsafe”.  Our cultural district is amazing, ranging from community theater to Broadway musicals.  We have an entire district dedicated to nightlife.  And another district that is like a farmer’s market every morning!

We even have our own local dialect and slang.  Pittsburghese!

Everything you need is pretty accessible.  It can be both a driving city and a walking city.  I prefer walking.  Jaywalking is a sport.  (For me, anyway).  It’s just an incredible place to be.

11. If you could chose to have the power to read people’s minds/know their thoughts, would you choose to?  It’s not something you could turn on or off, you have it or don’t.  Why?

This is another one of those questions, just like number 1, that if you had reached me in years prior, I would have given you an entirely different answer.

When I was young, I used to think of Gene Grey from X-Men.  I thought telepathy / telekinesis was an incredible ability.  It was something that I thought would give me such potential, and such an edge.

But, I’ll tell you this.  Since the onset of my symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, I have changed my mind.  Bipolar disorder make my ability as an empath so much more pronounced.  I feel what other people feel.  Sometimes, so much that it bleeds into my own emotions and I cannot distinguish between the two.  And at times, it drives me mad.

If that’s how I feel, just being able to sense emotional vibrations, then I would refuse telepathy.  I know there is an abundance of opportunity afforded with that.  However, I don’t think I could handle all of those voices in my head.  I have enough, thank you.

The Grey Season

There’s a saying here in Pittsburgh.  “There are only two seasons, winter and construction.”  Although comedic, it is partially correct.  I say partially because winter doesn’t really accurately describe the season correctly.

When someone thinks of winter, they think of the glistening white snow.  That’s not quite the case.  When winter begins to move upon us, we don’t just know it by the chill in the air when the wind kicks up.  Suddenly, the sun is lost behind thick layers of smoke colored clouds.  There doesn’t have be precipitation, but there is an endless, dreary overcast sky.

The clouds darken when the freezing rain comes.  Eventually, it will turn to snow.  However, it is not the pristine white, untouched snow you see on the hillsides.  It is grey, dirty slush, on an concrete sidewalk, and packed against the blacktop roads. The precipitation darken the buildings, and everything is enveloped in shadows.

It’s best described in a personal journal entry below.

“February 23, 2010
‘Tomorrow, when I inspect the world outside my window in the light of the morning, it will be blanketed with snow.  A vast, endless landscape of white.  The ground, the rooftops, and even the sky will be varying shades of grey – monochrome, bitter, lifeless, and uninviting.'”

This is Pittsburgh's third season. The Gray Season.

I have felt grey over the past few days.  I can’t feel for a better word.  Something like, my flame isn’t burning as brightly. It’s a dampening effect, casting a shadow over me everywhere I go.  The vibrant colors of the world filter and leave only the grey inside of me.

I worry.  Is this the start of another depressive episode.  It doesn’t feel like depression.  It feels like blah.  It’s not as if I am despondent or lifeless. Jokes are still funny, and I still feel like getting up in the morning. I’m not crying. My world still operates normally.

It’s just as if everything has lost that little something. There’s no spring in my step. The sun is behind the clouds and only dim light filters through, both literally and figuratively. Everything is dull. I find myself becoming less enthusiastic and more disinterested.

I have ideas, but none that I am passionate about. I read things and find it difficult to find something constructive to add. Or interesting, for that matter. Moments are moving slower. Sounds are turning to whispers.

I can’t hear the rain on my roof.

I am afraid to move or speak. I don’t want to upset the balance. It is a careful balance on the scales that I work so hard to maintain. I have to shake the rain out of my hair, off my coat. I can’t stand the clouds, casting shadows onto me.

Where’s my fire? I seemed to have misplaced my fire.

I’m going to go check the medicine cabinet.

All the Pretty Things

Pittsburgh is gearing up for a heat wave. It’s that special time of year again. The old wooden house feels as if it were a clay oven, and it makes any work inside of it impossible. That leaves me to sit in the crisp night air on the balcony, armed only with a journal, a pen, and just enough light being thrown by a robe light wrapped around a glass patio table.

I had a beautiful moment on Friday. I was on the way to have a biopsy done, but I was dreadfully early. I took advantage of my time and strolled through the city. I walked past Trinity Cathedral and recalled the beauty of the buildings and the majesty of it’s cemetery surrounding it.

That’s when I discovered one of Downtown Pittsburgh’s hidden gems. It was almost as if it were a secret garden, hidden from the boulevard surrounding it. I went up the path and discovered a circle surrounded by foliage. Stone benches surrounded an immense, gorgeous fountain in the direct center. I sat down and wrote.

It reminded me of times when I was in college in the summertime where I’d go to the large fountain in the Cultural District and sit on the stone benches there. I’d write and feed the pigeons. It reminded me of a brisk, grey day where I found a quiet hiding spot near 6th to write while I wrapped my scarf tighter to my face.

I thought of all the beauty in this world that I was missing out on. The same simple beauty that brought such joy into my life.

Long car rides with my husband into the country in the summertime, with the windows all the way down, the wind on my face, the smell of fresh air. We had nothing but good music and good company.

Sitting on warm sand and digging your toes and feet into it while you feel the ocean spray on your face. Taking walks in the moonlight on the boardwalk.

Watching the moon rise. It’s so big and bright on the horizon.

Staying up all night talking until you watch the sun rise.

A cool breeze in stagnant air.

The smell of a thunderstorm. Even better, the smell of autumn.

The serenity of a cemetery after hours.
A good romantic movie.

And just laying in bed with the one you love.

These are the beautiful things,” I wrote, “these are the only things I want to remember when I die.”

But I want to experience these pretty things all throughout my life. A surprise of flowers on my kitchen table. Sitting in a magnolia tree. Taking my time. Smelling the roses. Appreciating my landscape.

There is so much beauty and wonder all around me that I often fail to see. I want to remember these things moreso in my life than in my death.