The World Is Full of Suffering

The World Is Full of Suffering

I am blessed/cursed with a heart that feels everything.

ASPCA commercials make me want to run down to the pound and adopt all the dogs and cats, even though my husband is allergic to the felines. When someone tells me about a local pregnant teen, I want to find her and comfort her as I fear she isn’t being supported in the ways that truly matter. Homelessness. Poverty. Death to drug addiction; drug addiction in general. Suicidal ideation.

All of it makes my heart spill over. I want to fix the world.

I cannot. Some problems are based in cycles and systemic issues that won’t magically be solved just because Jenna stepped up to some proverbial plate. Some people don’t want help. Some people will actively work against your attempts to help others.

I get it. There have been (too many) times in which I haven’t wanted help either. Sometimes it’s easier to live in your own personal, mostly self-created hell than to say, “I want this to change,” than to actively do something about it. I refused and waited out this most recent diagnosis and med change because, wait for it, I didn’t want to “gain weight with a new medication.” Yeah. That’s right. I chose to live every day—for months on end—with my first thought being, “I want to die. I want to kill myself,” simply because I didn’t want to gain a few pounds.

Even thought admitting that seems silly and fucking selfish as hell, the feeling at the time was enough to keep me from telling my therapist what was really going on, from telling my Meds Doc that, no, current medications weren’t keeping me from wanting to kill myself. A few people knew, but even then, I tried to play it off as something minor.

“I’m just struggling.”
“It will pass.”
“I’m fine.”

If you ever hear me say, “I’m fine,” let me be the first to tell you, I’m not fine. Not at all.

The good news is that someone finally got through to me, meaning my husband, and I took the hard steps of actively seeking an answer to the depression that would not quit. The new diagnosis initially shook me. “Treatment Resistant? Am I stuck like this forever?” I’m not. I just need to work harder with the medical professionals in my life to find the appropriate answers.

And while the world is full of suffering, as Helen Keller said, “it is also full of overcoming it.”

I don’t know why my brain doesn’t work quite right. I don’t know why I get stuck in Major Depressive episodes. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, and a few other things poke and prod. I diligently work on these issues, but the depression, for now, persists. I don’t know why my anxiety will stick at a manageable level for a lengthy period of time and then sky-rocket to astronomical, I-can’t-do-this levels. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, trust issues, fear of failure-slash-perfectionism all come into play. I work on these things, too. But I can be sitting, cozy and warm on the couch on an idle Tuesday and be absolutely run down by sudden anxiety. Out of nowhere.

I don’t know why certain segments of our society feel more akin to hate than to love. I don’t know why people abuse or neglect animals. I cannot, for the life of me, as a birth mother or just a simple human being, understand why other human beings neglect or abuse children. I don’t know what possesses someone to rape another. I don’t know why some people feel superior to others, thus making others feel inferior, based on the color of their skin. Or whom they love. Or how they identify. Or whatthefuckever. Or, I know some of these things, but I cannot make good sense of them in 2017.

I do know this: Despite the hate, the racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny, the desperate need to be better than somebody else for whatever reason, the world is full of people who are overcoming the suffering others put them through on a daily basis.

Right now, I’m having trouble being awake enough to function. It’s a side effect of a medication my Meds Doc put me on in hopes that I would stop waking up with the desire to kill myself. I am thankful for those in my life who understand that this is a hard, dark time in my life and that I’m actively trying to work my way through it. I want to be me again; I want to be Jenna again. I’ve been fighting and trying and pushing and surrendering and failing and wishing and hoping and praying and working my way toward what I hope will help me feel like me again. It’s not happening in the time frame that I would prefer, but I am slowly learning to trust the process. To take any progress, however small, as a complete and utter win.

I am slowly working myself back to me. I know so many other people who are doing the same thing, right now, in this very moment. We are resilient. We will make it through this. You know what I mean.

The World Is Full of Suffering

We will overcome. Stay the course. Trust the process. Keep doing what you have to do. I will stand with you in all of it.

 

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Stop the Appearance Shaming Right. Now.

Stop Appearance Shaming RIGHT NOW

A few years ago, a woman really, really annoyed me in a professional setting. I vented to a friend, citing everything from how she conducted herself online to her lack of writing skill to the way she brown-nosed my higher ups. (For all my worried ex-co-workers, this is not about you.) My friend indulged my rant, as friends do. Additionally, my friend knew the woman in question and had experienced the same things. I felt safe as my friend validated my frustrations.

Then I mentioned the offending woman’s appearance in a photo she uploaded to Facebook.

“Stop it right now. Tear apart her writing. Feel frustrated with the way she speaks to you. But her looks are off limits.”

I argued the point for approximately two-point-five seconds. Then I stopped. I realized I was wrong. Way wrong. I didn’t mention her looks again. Eventually I didn’t have to deal with her at all as I continued on down my winding career path. The interaction with that old friend, however, stuck with me.

And it’s bothering the hell out of me lately.

It started during the election. Anti-Hillary camps attacked her appearance, bringing up eye bags or wrinkles or how exhausted she looked or the weight she put on since she was in college. (You’re kidding me with the weight thing, right?) Pro-Hillary people argued that others shouldn’t attack her appearance; they should gauge her Presidential ability on the way she answered questions in debates and talked about policy.

These people then turned around and called Trump a Cheeto.

I engaged in the Trump appearance-shaming until that conversation with my friend popped back up in my head. And I sighed. I hate that nagging conscience of mine. I also hate being wrong, especially on moral and ethical grounds. I then tried to only retweet those who chose to address the issues at hand rather than poke fun at how the 45th President looks. I didn’t maneuver that endeavor perfectly, but I tried.

Three times in the past week I’ve watched smart women whom I admire go after the Trump women or KellyAnne for their appearance. Twice in the past week I’ve called them on it, because I’m straight up tired of it.

Listen: Unkind people, mostly women, have said unkind things about my appearance for my whole life. A fellow student in high school used to make fun of my size, of my clothing choices, of my eye shape. She made my senior year a veritable hell. Of note: it also happened in Christian settings. Thanks, Jesus people! It happened again in college, to a lesser extent due to a larger amount of people. Still, people commented on my appearance, both things I could control (things I liked to wear; things I didn’t know about like tweezing your eyebrows) and things I couldn’t control (yes, I know my eyes are shaped differently than yours; yes, I have knobby knees; yes, my teeth are crooked despite having worn braces; yes, my ears stick out a bit).

When I moved to Ohio, it didn’t happen for awhile—because I didn’t interact with other human beings other than my husband and his family for a long time. As we began to grow our family, I met more people thanks to things like story time at the library and weight checks at the hospital and, as they got older, sports and school. People were slow to adopt me in this small community because I come from away. I was slow to adopt people because, well, I have trust issues and I’m an introvert (INFJ). Eventually I made some trusted, smart, lovely friends who loved me for me, all my quirks included.

I also made some not-so-friendly-acquaintances along the way who chose to make negative comments about my appearance either to their friends who didn’t realize little birdies exist or via social media. I’m nearly thiry-six-damn-years-old and this shit is still happening.

Guess what? You don’t have to like my hair. You don’t have to like what I wear. You don’t have to like my eyes or my legs or my thighs or my belly or my stretch marks or my makeup or my ears or my weight or my breasts or my arms or my cheeks or my butt or my feet or my fingers that swell too easily due to a kidney issue or even my fucking kidney. You don’t have to! But you do have to treat me with respect if you expect to remain in my life in any shape or form. You do owe me the simplicity of being a decent human being. You don’t have to be my best friend. You don’t have to like me. You can tell people I’m bossy or rude or stubborn or depressed; all those things are true. I own them. I apologize for them frequently. (Sorry again for any recent bossy/rude/stubborn issues. I won’t apologize for Treatment Resistant Depression, but I will continue to work on it with my doctors and therapists.)

But leave my looks out of it.

Leave the Trump women alone for their looks. KellyAnne is evil enough without commenting on how she looks. If you didn’t want people talking about Michelle Obama’s looks, whether the comments were racial or just about her arms, then stop making these kind of comments about women across the aisle—however wide that aisle might be. Like all the way to Russia.

Stop.

Stop it right now.

Attack policy. Rant about the lies. Question everything. But for Pete’s sake, and Pete was my Papau, act like a grown ass adult and leave the way people look out of it.

My chin hair and I will thank you for it.

Stop Appearance Shaming RIGHT NOW