It’s Not Always Rainbows and Butterflies…

Upon graduating from college, I was nervous about my future. Like most graduates, I didn’t know what it would hold. I didn’t have a job lined up, or really a solid idea of what I wanted to do for a career. Nonetheless, I expected things would work out relatively quickly. I expected I would move to some big city, hopefully Boston, and have a great job. I expected I’d likely find some great romantic relationship within a reasonable amount of time as well. I didn’t necessarily imagine my life would be perfect. However, I didn’t forecast I’d living at home 3 and a half years later, without a clear career path in sight.

I guess I didn’t really plan for the unexpected. I didn’t expect my mom would die from cancer as soon as she did. I didn’t expect I would be diagnosed with bipolar and face many challenges to go along with it. I didn’t really expect it would be as difficult a transition as it has been to go from being surrounded by friends and teammates on the rowing team at UNH to living at home where most friends from before college have either moved away or I’ve lost touch with them.

Recently, I’ve had this thought in my head that it feels as if I haven’t really started any new chapter after college. Up until now, there was the chapter of growing up, then high school, then college, and then, well, there is now. I don’t really know what to call it, though. I haven’t established a career, haven’t moved out of the house to “make it on my own” and haven’t really built any new friendships or relationships for the most part. I feel like I’ve been caught in this weird no man’s land, in between college and making it into the “real world.”

Up until recently, I had a lot of nostalgia for college, and maybe that is a part of why I haven’t fully moved on and started a new life yet. I had in my head a wish I could go back to those days. That things were simpler and easier back then. I didn’t have as much worries, I would think to myself.

The funny thing now, though, is that desire to go back isn’t really there anymore. I now see even though there were a lot of great times, it wasn’t all roses. Romanticizing some part of your life is an easy thing to do. It’s much harder to analyze it objectively and think maybe it wasn’t all you once thought it was cracked up to be. Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t a great time and that I didn’t have a lot of great experiences, but I am saying I have realized more and more there is no sense dwelling in the past.

I will be the first person to admit a big reason I am still living at home is my money spending habits. I have always been a relatively impulsive person, manic or not, which has caused me to be a not so thrifty spender. Oftentimes, I have bought concert or sports tickets last-minute, usually pretty impulsively. The last impulsive purchase, which I mentioned in a Facebook post Saturday, was the meet and greet for Demi Lovato this coming March. Now, it’s not like I didn’t know about it leading up. I knew the day it was going on sale in advance, but didn’t know the price. It was, however, impulsive in that I saw the price, knew it was more than I should spend, yet immediately bought it anyways knowing it would sell out fast. After an initial surge of excitement, I knew I had made a financial blunder. Not that I am not looking forward to meeting her, but I spent money well beyond my means.

You see, even when you think things may be looking up, when you may think you have everything under control, there’s a fine line between being positive and being overly optimistic. When I started taking medications for bipolar a year ago, I thought, “Great! Now everything is fixed and my life will take off!” Obviously, that hasn’t really been the case. When things didn’t happen quickly, I became a bit depressed for a period of time. I wrote in an earlier post how I had fixed my spending habits; I’d learned the value of saving money. Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case up until now.

I’m certainly not saying I haven’t had a lot of great experiences over the last few years. I definitely have, and am grateful. However, there has to come a point where I realize I can’t keep shelling out money for things I really can’t afford. I have made that statement before in the past, but the importance of this matter has reached a fever pitch, if you will. Unless I want to live at home forever, which I’m sure nobody wants to be the case, I have to start realizing what is really important when it comes to spending money.

As much as there have been unexpected/ negative things happen in my life, the point of this post isn’t to dwell on them or say how sorry I feel for myself. There are still a lot of positives I can identify, even though my life hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride since graduating from college.

For one, I still have a chance at life. As simple as it may seem, I have to be grateful I was able to get through my mom’s death. I have to be grateful I was able to get through the worst of my bipolar when it was untreated, along with coming to terms with being diagnosed with it. I have started to run again slowly after not being very active for a period of time, which is something I can be positive about and build on.

As frustrating as it may be to not have a career path right now, it is somewhat exciting. The possibilities are still wide open. Before my dad got his current job as a paraprofessional, I told him it only takes one interview or company to like you to get a job. It turns out he only had to go on one interview in order to get hired. I have to remind myself of that, as it is easy sometimes to dish out advice and not really take it to heart in your own life.

I am grateful for the support I have received from friends and family members. There are a lot of people who really do care, even though I can tend to trick myself into sometimes thinking I am not all that loved at all. Without people caring about me and noticing when things were amiss, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Things would be far worse. I may not have the same chance at life I mentioned earlier.

The point of my post, as the title says, is life isn’t always perfect or what you expect it to be. Although things haven’t happened at the speed I initially thought they would, I still have faith the things I expected upon graduating college will come sooner or later. I have faith things work out how they’re supposed to, even if you don’t see why when you’re in the thick of things. All I can do really today is try to learn from the mistakes I have made in the past, along with being as positive as I can about the future.

 

 

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New York, New York. Home of the Yankees. Home of overcrowded streets littered with trash. Those streets have a tendency to not smell so great either. All reasons why I shouldn’t love it, really. Nonetheless, I’ve had the best of times there. I’ve also had some not so great times. Yet, I still love it all the same. I’ll focus on the good times in this post, since there really are far more good than bad. Last summer, New York City sort of became my “go to” place to travel to. I went there several times, for a few Yankees games, for some concerts, and sometimes both on the same day. Man, those days were hectic yet fun in the same respect.

I had been to New York a few times before last summer, but it all started really when I went to a Halsey concert last August. A day I outlined some in a previous blog, it was a sweltering one approaching 100 degrees. I was a little nervous, as I had never navigated the New York subway system by myself, and was going to go from Grand Central to the Yankees game, back to Madison Square Garden that night for the concert. Sounds like quite a day, doesn’t it? Well, it was.

The heat was stifling from the start, and I was sitting way up in the highest part of Yankee Stadium, cooking in the sun. It was a game where I saw a bit of history, with Aaron Judge hitting his first MLB home run, a blast to center field. Who knew then he would turn into what he is now?

Anyways, I managed to make my way to Madison Square Garden for the Halsey concert. A show that had been sold out for months, it was her most anticipated ever. At first feeling out-of-place, I remember gradually feeling more and more at ease as the show went on. It turned out to be quite memorable, with Halsey restarting the show due to technical difficulties.

She also gave quite an emotional speech. Fighting back tears, she outlined how she was inspired by coming to Madison Square Garden to see Ed Sheeran when she was 19. It was a night that inspired her to start her journey as a musician herself, as well as the night where she got her name of Halsey by seeing a Halsey Street Station sign on the train. Surrounded by thousands of other Halsey fans, it was a concert where, as I said before, I got a feeling of euphoria, one I hadn’t experienced in a long time. With Halsey now being my favorite artist, I look back on it with the fondest of memories.

Another memorable day in New York City, I completed my patented Yankee Stadium/ MSG doubleheader again. This time, I went to the Yankees during the day and saw singer Shawn Mendes at night. Another scorcher of a day, I stayed for only part of the game since it started at 4. Upon arriving to MSG, I remember hearing Mendes’ song “Life of the Party” playing. A tune about not worrying about others who may be critical and being yourself, I draw inspiration from it, with my favorite line being “We don’t have to be ordinary, make your best mistakes.”

During the concert, I felt a great sense of love between the fans and Shawn. His live performance is something that really impressed me, showing a poise and confidence far beyond his years. When he played “Life of the Party”, I got a great feeling that I could do whatever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about people who doubted me. He played in the center of the crowd with just a piano for this and a few other songs. It was beautiful.

A trip to see Krewella, a duo of sisters who sing and DJ their electronic style of music, turned out to be quite memorable as well. Waiting in line before the show, I met and conversed with some other Krewella fans, which was a cool experience. I ended up getting in the front of the small venue in Brooklyn called The Good Room, resulting in me being able to reach out and grab both of their hands at different points during the show.

I had a ticket for the “after party” at a night club in NYC, but unbeknownst to me until I was informed that day, the catch was you had to have pants and I was only wearing shorts. A memory I laugh at now, I ran across Manhattan to get a pair of pants at H & M in Times Square and ended up making it.

Yet another day of frivolity included seeing Melanie Martinez, one of my favorites, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in late September. I waited out during the whole day to get a good spot in the front of the stage. Again, I talked to some fans before the show and enjoyed doing so. Waiting in line for a concert for the day is an experience that I’d recommend for any hearty soul, as the anticipation builds and the energy of the other fans is palpable.

This summer, there has been no shortage of trips to New York City. Between waiting overnight to see Halsey at the Today Show, again waiting overnight to see Big Sean on Good Morning America, a Yankees game I viewed from an exclusive club in center field that included a walk off, strolling through the beautiful Central Park for a day, and a Mets game, I certainly have made some more memories in NYC.

Walking around Time Square after I had gone to a Yankees game last Saturday, I got the feeling I was at home, an odd feeling of comfort, peace, and familiarity. As someone who thought Boston was the best place in the world for most of my life since I had been there so much, New York has definitely at least challenged, if not taken the lead over Boston for my favorite place to go. All these visits have certainly made me feel I could see myself living in New York someday. But as the old saying goes, you never know what the future may hold.

Going to God

Lead me not into temptation

I’ve been through too much devastation

Trying to figure my life out, need a revelation

And some candles and meditation

Went to God, asked for re-creation

But he told me no with no hesitation

He said listen up son, here’s a lesson for you

Just listen to me and I’ll see you through

I asked, how’s that, I mean, what do I do?

He said look all around you for the clue

There’s one person there who’s college bound

The other one there, just turned their life around

I don’t mean to pester you like a hound

But just look at the world, blessings abound

If you’re lost, you will be found

Soon yourself you will astound

And on every door, you must pound

You’ll smile at the things you once frowned

So, let me leave you to ponder this

If I didn’t tell you, I’d be remiss

In order to find your life’s bliss

You mustn’t wish, hope, or dream

Throw bad thoughts to the abyss

And let positivity reign supreme

My Journey

Just as I have a habit of putting many things off, I have unfortunately put off writing this blog for quite some time now. If anyone who may be reading this didn’t know, I am now employed for the first time since starting the blog. I began working in downtown Springfield at a company called Stentel with a title of property estimator a couple weeks ago. I won’t be getting into detail with that as that is not the real topic of this particular post, but if anyone feels like finding out more, they can ask me about it and I will be happy to discuss it. I will say it has been going pretty well so far.

For this post, I felt like talking about my journey so far since my mom died. Well, really a little before that. It is something I have been wanting to write about for a while, but as I said, I have been putting it off, telling myself I will do it soon. This journey is particularly important to me since it deals with when my Bipolar disorder, which I was officially diagnosed with in November of last year, really began to take shape.

Soon before my mom died, and especially right after, I went into a phase that could be described as being on the lower end of manic. I developed an intense passion for singing, thinking I was going to sail off into the sunset as a professional singer and be set for life without ever really dealing with my mom’s death. My love for music didn’t necessarily come out of nowhere, as I had years before been called a human top 40 jukebox, but the idea that I was going to be a professional singer was one that caused concern amongst family and friends. It became quite an obsession, where I would stay up all night oftentimes or close to it, singing or watching music videos/ interviews of musicians. As many know, I wrote songs and posted singing clips on Instagram, thinking that would catapult me to a career as some but very few had done. I would brush off any comments or concern others had, saying that it didn’t really come out of nowhere and I was fine. However, looking back, it did take off quite rapidly after singing just once in front of a small crowd of a few friends at a bonfire.

I could go on for a long time about this phase, but really to condense it, it went on for months and the bottom line is I never actually dealt with my mom’s death. Inevitably, I was setting myself up for a crash, although I didn’t really know it when I was going through that phase.

On came the depression, as quickly and seemingly out of nowhere as the manic phase. I can’t really point to a specific event that brought on the depression. All I know is that it hit really hard. I stopped singing altogether and was really down in the doldrums. Things I loved before like sports, I no longer cared for at all. I was living life, but wasn’t really there. Again for months, this phase lasted. Contrary to my more outgoing self during the manic phase, I was withdrawn during the depression. People would call, but I wouldn’t answer. I wouldn’t respond to text messages most of the time. Most days, I didn’t really do anything productive at all, wallowing in my misery. Of course, this again caused concern from family and friends. This time, I knew something was wrong, but as much as I knew that, it was seemingly impossible to bring myself to do anything to change what was happening despite countless suggestions from family and friends. Soon, however, and again seemingly out of nowhere, another manic phase would come.

Perhaps it was already building up, but I can point to seeing Halsey, my favorite singer, last August at Madison Square Garden as a real turning point and possibly a catalyst for the mania. It was a sweltering day, with temperatures reaching the high 90’s. I had been outside at the Yankees game all day, which kind of exhausted me, but I remember even then not really feeling like I belonged there, not feeling like I belonged anywhere in fact. During the concert, however, I started to feel hope again. I can’t really describe it fully, but there is something about being in a crowd of thousands of people who love the same artist you do that brings out a feeling of euphoria. Coupled with the fact that she has Bipolar herself and has battled anxiety and depression, even going through a suicidal phase, I felt like I had a great connection to her. I remember walking out of that concert and seeing the bright city lights of New York. I felt hope again, like life was breathed back into me. It was like a movie.

This set off a period of only a couple months where I went to a ton of concerts and sporting events, culminating with a trip to California on a whim, soon spending all the money I had. Yes, I did literally spend everything I had and at one point went into the negative by a few cents. Again, I didn’t see how dangerous and really sometimes reckless my behavior was. Citing things such as “well I’m not staying up all night or drinking this time”, I had convinced myself I was fine, even great, adopting a me vs. the world mentality. Soon enough, this came to a head, where there was a night family members ended up getting through to me. After I adamantly and quite loudly disagreed for a little while, I finally agreed to think about seeing a psychiatrist.

Soon, I did see a psychiatrist and began taking medications. As some may recall, I made a post back in November about having Bipolar and taking Lithium, a mood stabilizer I am no longer taking due to medical issues it caused. It was a way for me to own the bipolar at that time, and this is a way for me really to work through and in some ways make sense of it all. However, I am still taking another mood stabilizer and anti-depressants, to try to prevent another period of depression from occurring. Right now, I feel pretty decent about where my life is, working full time for the first time in a while and realizing the value of actually saving money and not getting caught up in going to as many events as possible. Really, those events were a distraction for me, but not the remedy by themselves. The cycle of mania and depression has for the time being been broken, as since probably November really, I have not been too high or too low.

If you have made it through this post, thank you. I really appreciate anyone who reads the blog. Hopefully, anyone who read this can possibly get something out of it and know that adopting the mentality of fighting the world as I did doesn’t really work out. Although I certainly would never want anyone to go through the experiences I have, I hope this may be of help to some who are battling or have battled anything like depression, anxiety, Bipolar, or loss of a loved one dear to them. Until next time, which will hopefully be sooner than the last.

Writing Through It

It is often said people are blessed with certain gifts which help guide them in life. The “Gift of Gab”, as some call it, is one I never quite received. I have been told numerous times that my online presence or presence through texting and my presence in person are two different animals. I would have to agree. For some reason, I have never quite been able to express myself as well through talking as I can through writing. Writing to me has always come easier, been a more natural and flowing way for me to communicate.

That brings me to the title of my blog, Writing Through It. I suppose a lot of blogs would explain the purpose or title in the first post. For me, the story about my mom was, as I explained, one that just came to me that day. So, I kind of went with that for the first post. Writing Through It came to me when I was fumbling with ideas for the blog title. I couldn’t really come up with anything right away, but I then thought of the title when thinking about how writing is a great tool for dealing with problems.

Just today, I was struggling with thinking about my life in general and where it should go. I oftentimes do this and most of the time, it doesn’t really go anywhere, with me just circling in my head. When I started writing about it, I got a result that was a little bit different. Instead of just thinking about things, I began to see certain worries, problems, frustrations, and how I perceive myself on the page. This gave a new light to it, almost as if I was getting a different perspective but from myself. Now, at the end of this writing exercise, I didn’t come up with some earth shattering conclusion that will instantly fix everything. Nonetheless, I was able to come up with a different way of looking at things that I think will help me moving forward.

So, if anyone is struggling with a certain issue, I would encourage them to try to write their way through it. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Today, I wrote in a sort of blog style that I am doing now. Poetry is another useful tool to try, which I also am fond of. A lot of the time, you can end up surprising yourself with writing. More often than not, whether I am writing a poem or just a general freestyle kind of piece, it takes a twist or turn somewhere along the line. I am not quite sure why, but usually I kind of have a shift in thinking somewhere around the middle and am able to go in a different and exciting direction that makes the writing piece better. I guess in some ways, that is what I hope to do with this blog. To write about certain issues I am struggling with, or broader issues that are relevant to anyone. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to find new and interesting ways of thinking about topics I write about, which will help not only me, but others as well.

There’s Always More

If I had to pick one word to describe my mom, it would be “more.” If I asked all of her family and friends to come up with one as I did, I’m sure nobody else would say that. In fact, I wouldn’t have either before I really thought about it today.

Earlier today, as I was scraping peanut butter out of a near-empty jar, I recalled what my mom would say. “You can get more out of that. I’ll show you how much is really left.” To some, that may just be a routine daily occurrence, one that wouldn’t really stick in your mind throughout the years. Some may even dismiss her as just another peanut butter stickler. For me, however, it has lingered in my thoughts, and surfaces from time to time.

Why has this one instance lingered in my head? Because it wasn’t just about that one instance. Every time I am nearing the end of a tube of toothpaste, I remember her saying how she could squeeze more out of any tube, even when most would simply throw it away, thinking it had seen better teeth cleaning days.

It wasn’t just with these simple everyday items that she wanted more out of, either. She always wanted more out of her own life, too. Along with the easy task of helping to raise my brother and I along with my dad, she saw a great career as a dental hygienist come to an end as cancer treatments limited the dexterity in her fingers. She could have just thrown in the towel. But she didn’t. My mom went on to get her master’s in Social Work at Smith College and reinvented herself for a second career that was just as, if not more, successful.

This whole notion of wanting more has rubbed off on me, or at least I think. When I struggled in cross country in high school, I knew I could get more out of myself. So, I ran so much the following summer to the point that people made a game out of seeing me running and then conferring as to where they saw me. Sometimes, I would pop up in multiple towns or locations in town on the same day. I was never the fastest runner on the team, but I did make varsity and run the Western Mass. Championship my senior year, which was my ultimate goal. As a rower at the University of New Hampshire, when I struggled most of my first year rowing on the water especially, I constantly asked what I could do to improve. Eventually I did improve significantly, not to the point of being one of the best rowers technically, but I was selected to row in the Head of the Charles by my senior year, something I always wanted to do since I went my freshman year.

Now, as the calendar creeps towards the 3 year anniversary of my college graduation, I can say I certainly want more out of my life. Again, not in a greedy way, but I want to make myself and others around me better. I know my mom would be right there with me, encouraging me to push myself, and to do more. Well, in a way, she is, because I am thinking of her constantly and have a good idea of what she would want for me. I may not have a dream job, or a dream apartment, or a dream relationship, or a dream anything really, but what I do have is a desire to be the best I can be. I have a belief that I can and will do more, even if I doubt myself, which is admittedly something I do more than I should. Do I know exactly what I want to do? Not entirely. It could be writing, something I have always loved. I may want to go back to the mental health field, which I have had experience with personally and in the work environment. I do know, however, that there is nothing more beautiful than knowing I have quite an influence beside me.